Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

well, I found the old days

100 that is *.

It was not about personal growth as I remembered, but about doing something every day to make the world a better place.

How egotistical for a person who thought she had that under control.

So, off to search and discover what else I have forgotten about the project.

Found:
100 Days
About doing something creative each day
http://100daysproject.co.nz/

100 Happy Days
Can you be in a better mood for 100 days?  Happier?
http://100happydays.com/


Lots more, but not that original one that I found just when I needed to make something better.  Whatever it was, I cannot find that original thing on-line, so that must mean that I am misremembering it.

However, I did find the stuff I had saved from my own project *.  And, I am thinking that it would be nice to factor in that component of making the world a better, more loving place in my own wee ways.  Perhaps I could combine positive thoughts about myself and others, seeking happiness or joy or contentment creativity into some mash of some vague everything that I seem to be wanting right now.

I talked to the folk where my divorce settlement monies are kept for, I thought, my financial security.  In the four-plus years since that final decree I have not touched any of that money. 

My frugal living preferences mean that I can live on what I have, no matter what that actual amount might be.  I have more available since earlier this year when my ex died and when I began receiving a portion of his former social security benefits.

I digress, but have you ever tasted Lotus Biscoff cookies.  The wrapper claims them to be Europe's favorite cookie with coffee, but that is likely a boast as Thomas's English Muffins, touted to be England's favorite, which "Mr. Thomas" brought to America, probably because he just likes us so much.  Epic and insincere marketing stories that surely must be directed towards the national loyalty of children and/or those who like coffee.  Those cookies are tasty, though.

So, anyway, I have more money to fuss around with.  I have mostly been using it to buy better quality food, as well as plenty of not-entirely-essential foodstuffs.  But, a bit more money would go a long way to allowing me to do more stuff.

Nothing huge or anything, but this year's health crap has brought me a greater awareness that I am not going to live forever, and the recent broadcast media remembrances of celebrities deaths during this year are helping to reinforce that notion. 

I want to do more stuff because, well, because we never know when we will no longer to do all of the things we not only do now but all of the things we wished we had done.  I am learning to release regret about my failures in the past and I would love to die with fewer regrets about what I could have done whilst I had the chance.

So, I talked to my reps' contact person at the financial place and I am going to begin taking chunks of that money and turning it into potential pleasure.

I want to spend more time doing things that my grandsons like to do whilst they are still young enough to want to spend time with me. 

We have already talked about taking a train trip to see the Grand Canyon this summer, fitting in between their summer sports activities and family time.  I used to take train trips whenever I could.  Mostly simple day rides other places, but I did visit the Canyon in the year before leaving that other life.  I had thought that I would go west and just not come back.  Too timid for that, although I was glad that I had found the gumption to try it.

So, the Canyon with the boys.  Maybe drag their parents along, too.

They like going to see movies and to visit that place with all the bouncy houses, or that gymnastics place or the one with the rock climbing wall and archery.  It will not be long before those interests will fade and be replaced by interests that cannot include a grandma tagging along, if only to watch them play whilst I read books and people watch.

I have not thought past those two things, but if I try I could bet pretty good at this business of fun.

So.  A few dozen consecutive, or nearly so, days of
creativity
self-empowerment
doing my little bits of caring more and taking more care of the world.

Not bad, I guess, although I can feel my enthusiasm lagging as I type. All I can do is my best and that is enough.  It also occurs to me that this project, cobbled together as it is, can also be about not being held captive to artificial constraints and boundaries. 

Could be interesting. 

Oh, one more thing is that I am really and truly going to try to spend less time complaining.  Choosing positivity can can be a part of this as well.



Sunday, December 25, 2016

100 days

Back in the dark ages of 2010, January 7th, to be precise, I embarked on a personal challenge to do something for 100 days.  In a row.  I am not certain that I kept to that exact schedule, but I did complete the whole project.

I was inspired by a group in the UK who were doing this thing about
self-improvement
-esteem
-actualization
or something positive like that.

I decided that I would use the opportunity to say something positive about myself every day.

You can only imagine how quickly that fell apart.

Most difficult thing I have ever tried. 

So, I modified it to include divesting my life of material things.  I began by listing the names of books, stuff like that, along with the positive self-talk.  That did not last long either.  An additional modification was to get rid of stuff and say something positive every day.  It would have been nice had I been able to keep up the about-me-part, but it was much easier to declare something positive about other people or people in general, or whatever.  I would have to go back and read all of the days' entries.  I am fairly certain that I abandoned the positive stuff about myself from the very beginning.  I think that I eventually copied and pasted the journal postings, and if I still have it in the documents on this computer, I may add a separate page to this blog on which to list it.  The sticking part will be to post it as it, warty growths, unlandscaped armpits, juvenile angst and all.

I did this as journaling on a group site to which I belonged.  It was about simple living and I fondly...and seriously...thought of myself as a Simpleton.  Still do, as those habits have stuck with me through not only the past sixteen years, but as a continuation of the way I was trying to live back then, even before I found that group or began that part of my life journey.

I did not save any of the responses that other members were kindly disposed to leave in support, but I do remember one woman who told me that it was all well and good to do all of this complaining (although I thought of it as, you know, a personal spewing of everything that fell out of my head and down through my typing fingers and onto the electronic page), but what exactly was I going to do about any of it.

In my naivete, I replied that I had no intention of doing anything beyond just getting it all out of my head.  I am reasonably certain that my whining got on her nerves, perhaps even her last one, but the journal was not about her.  It was about me and my mostly unconscious need to write about problems and all that jazz, and especially, as it turned out, my marriage, something could not have imagined sharing with anyone, much less a quasi public forum.  Anyway, I suspect she never liked me, even a bit, because she was always criticizing me about all manner of things that I shared/wrote, and not just in that journal.

So, anyway, I think I want to do this kind of project again.  I am not signing up with a like-minded group as I did before, and I believe that the simple process of making myself write every day, or at least most days could be helpful.  Pretty much what I do here anyway, so not to expect anything very interesting or profound or anything.

I think the focus will be on the work I am trying to do on releasing all of the ideas, thoughts, regrets and issues from the past that keep pounding around in my head, especially when I am unable to sleep or relax.

I am going to ponder the whole thing for a few days and begin when I feel like beginning.  This is not about resolutions or even really about improving myself in ways like health or exercise or faith practice (something that has been bouncing around upstairs for a while) or being more social or generous or practical or any such nonsense.

This blog is the perfect place.  It is very personal, not many people know I write here and it feels safe.  Any of the bad players from my past, who would be more than happy to find and distress me, are able to find me here.  The few people who do know about this blog are nice and kind and, frankly, people I trust to read my crap and hold me accountable need be.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

life is wacky

I am not much of a holiday person lo these past several decades.  Lots of reasons, many of which other folk know, but in the spirit of not being a holiday person, they, those reasons, are best left behind and I am trying (yes, a real thing) to leave all that crap behind.

Time, huh?

So, anyway, yesterday I kicked ass.  It was my own ass, but an ass nevertheless.

In the last move, I was still clinging to some safety issues and I chose to notify every need-to-know person, company, entity of the move personally.  I made a lot of phone calls and fielded almost as many inquiries about why I did not simply create a change of address with the postal service.  Well, if you are still stuck on something as ridiculous as personal safety, you do not do that post office notice.

It really does work well, but my auto license plate tag renewal fell through one of the abysses and, on the way home from work and the library Thursday night, I found myself on the receiving end of many brightly colored flashing lights, a huge SUV and a lively driver who was not St. Nick, but one of our village's cops.

He wished me a happy holiday and asked if I knew why he had pulled me over.  Of course, I had not a clue and confessed to the same.  You have to confess when dealing with cops.  I think it might even be an actual law when you get pulled over.

He told me that I had expired tags and then asked to see my driver's license and proof of insurance.  Well, I help myself properly, but inwardly I was thinking, 'well, I have this part solid'.

Driver's license, sure.  Insurance card, nope.

He let me go with two papers that suggested that it would be nice if I could, should I feel like it, you know, get that registration updated and find something that proved that I was properly insured, vehicle-wise.

I detoured to fetch my meds from the pharmacy, went home, made a wee martini (have to confess that it was not we) and went online to do both of those things.  The insurance was easy.  Apparently I chose to go paperless when I renewed my car and renter's insurance last March and, also apparently, when you do that, the insurance company does not send you a card/proof/plastic thing.  If you want, you can print a card or request to have one specially sent, neither of which I did.

At least it is a weird kind of proof that I did not need proof, as I have not had the pleasure of being stopped by cops in a couple of years, so ten months of not having a physical proof of insurance did me no harm or inconvenience.

I had the insurance card image sent to my phone, and I loaded it onto my Hello Kitty flash drive.  Covered.

When I went to the DMV web site, I discovered that I could not renew my auto license tags on-line because it was one of the alternate years when you have to present yourself and your vehicle in person to have an emission test to make sure that you are not polluting the planet any more than necessary and I suspect that they, the testers, are also covertly assessing the drivers as well.

There are no sites for emission testing open at night.  In fact, a few years ago the state decided that having their own emission testing sites was too expensive and too stressful having to deal with drivers in person, and in their wisdom they farmed out testing equipment to car dealers, which also earns the dealers some kind of income.  Whilst that has not saved the state any money, at least they do not have to deal with actual in-person people.

I did everything I could on-line, including the option to receive both e-mail and text reminders when any of that stuff is due for something.  Then, yesterday I drove to one of the car dealer testing sites, had the car tested.  It passed and for a mere ten dollar/US counter fee, was able to have the registration process completed.  Except that the car guys would not accept the fee from me, which was nice.

I then drove to the police station where they were amazed that I got it all done in one day, given the wonkiness of hours of business due to the holidays and all.  Oh, the reason I had to have the insurance information on my phone is that the library was closed yesterday.  An especially long weekend off for all of them, which, of course, they deserve because they are so nice about accepting my huge overdue fines.  Yes, I am working on that, too.

A nice conversation, some show-and-tell with the coppers, some noodling around on their computers and I am fine.  The tickets they gave me had to be completed withing fifteen days, so managing all that in less than twelve hours had me all chuffed.  And, rightfully so.

Even though I am, well, not exactly broke, my funds are cramped because I went bat-shit crazy with gifts for everyone, I treated myself to dinner at my favorite Chinese restaurant.  Whilst there, it snowed, so I walked next door to the grocery store and stocked up on comfort food so that I do not have to leave my house for the next week.

I did by enough healthy and reasonable food, but I also bought three kinds of tea, three kinds of cookies to have with them...no playing favorites here.  And, now I am comfortably ensconced in my properly tarped and carpeted little home.

But, this is where the wacky stuff comes in.

In no particular order:

This village is like a small town, a really small town, like a really small town where even if you are not from here, you may have just gone ahead and been born and grown up here.
Two examples are that a month ago I had, actually one of my big, fat fingers missed the lock button on the car lock thing and instead opened the trunk.  That stayed open for five days and drained the car battery enough to keep that little light on, but no enough to start the car.  A long story short is that I decided to do what every old babe does...fix it myself.  Turns out no amount of will power will fix a dead battery, car or otherwise.  I called the hardware store to buy one of those things that you plug in, in the house, and get it all charged up for when you drain your car battery.  They hardware guy offered to bring it to my house and then use his car to charge mine.  I declined, mostly because it was weird to have a stranger offer that, and then mentioned that I was going to call R, the guy who owns the gas/service station a block from my house.  I called R and whilst I was waiting for him to come and charge me up, the hardware guy called to tell me that he found exactly what I wanted.  Great.  Cool.  But, I asked, had he known my telephone number.  When he found that piece of equipment, after our phone call, he called R and asked for my phone number.
This sort of thing most likely goes on all the time in all kinds of places, but it has never happened to me.

The cop that pulled me over on Thursday evening was the same one who followed me into the hospital parking lot where I had gone to take physical therapy after my heart operation.  The reason he followed me was to let me know that one of my car tires was low on air.

 Whilst checking out at the grocery store last evening (post Chinese dinner) I was embraced by the woman checking out in front of me.  She attended the holiday party held by the place I work/volunteer because her son was playing in the jazz quartet entertaining us.  I talked to her because, well, because she was there alone and she confided in me about how she was experiencing some estrangement from her son because her soon-to-be ex-husband was being a ass hat and trying to turn their children against her because she refused to obey him.  Turns out he has been abusive and here we are, strangers, me chatting with her and her somehow knowing that in the midst of everything she was experiencing and how vulnerable she was, she had found someone who not only would listen to her, but could be helpful.

We really have to trust our gut feelings, that intuition that does its best to help us find or meet or discover exactly what we need.

I really should have been more frugal and not driven to treat myself to Chinese dinner.  Not only was it so good, like a dream full of Asian goodness, but doing so taught me two things.  The first is that whilst I had spent all of the money I saved for the holidays, still had enough to pay all my bills and rent to the end of January, I ignored that bit of good sense and had a wonderful meal and had the blessing of running into that woman from the party.  She shared that she worked in that little strip mall and invited me to come visit her at work.  She invited me four times.  I suspect that she really means the invitation and that I will do exactly that and also that I may have found/re-found someone who is going to be a friend of the best kind.

Trying my best and accepting that trying is a legitimate and valuable behavior and attitude is becoming more helpful and supportive the more I acknowledge the effort.  I can keep heart and keep on trying.

All I use Facebook for is to play bubble and mah jong games and as a touchstone with some of my friends and a very few family members.  However, today one of my friends re posted something that I really liked, and I rarely pay attention to all of that self-esteem happy thoughts claptrap stuff.

Set some goals
Stay quiet about them
Smash the shit out of them
Clap for your damn self

Like totally best wishes to all my friends, some of my family and, gosh, just be good to yourselves first and clap your damn ass off for your damn self.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

wrong...wrong...wrong

In the past 24 hours I have done everything nearly the opposite of what I am supposed to be doing.

I have been working on that whole sleep hygiene thing.  You know, regular bedtimes, regular wake-ups, no distractions in the bedroom.  I have never had television or radio or even cute dancing boys where I sleep.  But, I have horrible insomnia whilst trying to get enough sleep so that I can make it through any day that needs to have me make it through.

I am also not to read in bed.  If I cannot sleep, I have to get up, sit someplace (rocking chair in my bedroom is fine) and read the most boring thing I can find.  Like appliance manuals or something.  I almost made a joke about reading the Bible, but I find it a fascinating read, as are most holy scriptures and texts.  Just pick a faith practice and try it.  You will be stunned at how wonderful and interesting all of that stuff is.  Same thing goes for physics, particularly the quantum type. 

Anyway, when you get tired of learning about your toaster oven, you can go back to bed, turn off the lights and just stay there until you either fall asleep or have to start all over again.  Most of the time this will work for a day or three and then I spend a week with little sleep until I cheat.  Well, I do.

My natural rhythms prefer that if I have something important to do that it begin in late afternoons and early evenings.  They also like it if I stay up late and sleep in later than works well in the practice of an ordinary day.  It is less of a conundrum than it was before I retired, but it is still a pain to be out of sync with the rest of the world most of the time.

I am trying to eat well.  Or, at least better.

And, yes, despite whatever crap you have heard about there is no such thing as trying.  There is only do or not do, trying is a valid and reasonable thing to do on one's life.  Trying means that you intend to do your best for/with/on something that is challenging, even something one would prefer to not do.  Trying is often the best that one can do.  It just is.

Anyway, I have trouble eating meat.  Not only is it expensive, but you have to cook it and it makes messy pots and pans and it is not all that easy to digest, and whilst I am most often able to enjoy it, it just has so many strikes against it.

I prefer raw food, always have.  Vegetables, even those that are more nutritional when cooked, some fruits (also expensive and I have to pay attention to how much sugar I eat, even natural ones), cottage cheese and the occasional dairy something, sprouted grains, millet and the ilk.  Like that.

Food is my drug of choice.  I am a food addict, of the purest kind.  It has taken me a lifetime to come to terms with this, but it is simply another one of those things that is what it is.

I am stunningly careful about doing the right things, but today I did none of it.  I was as contrary as it is possible to be without realizing that I was being contrary. 

It just happened and I am feeling better than I have in months.  I swear.  Months!

So:
  • Last night I could not sleep, so got up, completely cleaned and rearranged the boys' room.  Moved an end table downstairs.  Packed away some bedding Then I read in bed until I fell asleep.
  • Arose when I woke up naturally. 
  • Ate a very late lunch, having only arisen after 10:30 a.m.  Unfortunately, I had not yet come to my senses and ate a lovely couscous and raw vegetable salad that I made myself.  However, it was so delicious it could have felt like cheating had I been aware that I was in the midst of a day chock full of the best kinds of cheating...ever.
  • Had Chinese food for dinner, late, after the Advent program at the boys' school's church.  Brought home leftovers and the wait person gave me extra white rice!   Sweet!
  • Ate a chocolate swirl croissant with fudgy stuff drizzled all over it and with each bite I spritzed a dollop of spray whipped cream on it, alternating with shooting the heavenly white fluff directly into my mouth.
The croissant snack was possible only because I stopped at the market after the restaurant dinner to get mandarins, crushed pineapple, fresh orange juice and dried cranberries to add to some of the couscous salad for lunch tomorrow at work.

I am also proud to have purchased instant oatmeal, bottled water, a piece of cake from the bakery department.  There is still some whipped cream left, so I might have that for breakfast.  Just that.

So then, what have I learned today?  I have no idea, but feeling this good is very interesting.  It is most likely some kind of crazy fugue state before I crash.  Regardless, I am off to bed, to read until I fall asleep.

What a kick-ass day this has been.  And, the church thing was nice, although I wish those church Christmas things would modern-up and play Mary Did You Know.  I loved it from the moment I heard it on the radio (car, not bedroom :) ) last year. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

progress

I guess I am making some, despite my best efforts to stay in the place I know, which is not going anywhere.  I know how this goes.  I do it all the time.  Grow a bit and be content to stay there for as long as possible.

The car which saved me four years ago when I locked myself out of the flat and had to climb the car and throw myself through a window.  I still love that whole experience.

Anyway, it needs replacing and I am going to add some roadside assistance thing to my car insurance and wait until it just completely dies. 


There is not any reasonable way to winterize this place.  I should have been suspicious when the landlord demurred and changed the subject when I wanted to know the heating costs.  Turns out that the stairway up here is enclosed in a small attachment to the house, kind of like and outside staircase, but one that has walls and a roof.  Yeah, but that is all it is.  It is a cobbled together thing and has no insulation, huge gaps between all the pieces of the darn thing and is so cold that just outside the actual door to the flat that the water I left there last week was frozen and exploded the next morning.

The heating vents on that landing are drawing air directly from the outside.

So, there is a rug unrolled and against the porch door.  Tarps over all the windows and blankets rolled and stuffed along the bottom of the landing door and the door to the basement.

It has to do.  It is now too cold for me to think about moving, but I will do so as soon as the snow goes bye-bye.

I am feeling rather chuffed at figuring out what needed doing to close up this place and plug all the holes and gaps that let the cold air and wind inside.  To be honest, even standing up against the windows and such did not reveal all that pass-through air, but now that every possible vertical surface is fully tarped, blanketed and taped, it is noticeably  warmer in here.  I will still be wearing all my spare clothing (think of the little kid in A Christmas Story after he is packed into his winter outdoor play gear; yes, that is me, including a hat) and lots of socks, but I should see a lower heating bill next cycle.

I am nearly finished with my holiday gifts, with just a dozen or so left to make, and I am wanting so much to bake cookies or strudel, especially strudel, or fruit cake, which I truly love, even bad fruitcake.  A few years ago a friend sent me a small Christmas cake, which is what fruit cake is in Australia.  Other place as well, I am guessing, but here in the US it is the much maligned cake of fruit with just enough dough to hold it all together. 

One holiday season I made cakes for everyone.  They really did like my fruit cake, I swear.  Anyway, the ingredients kept increasing and I ran out of bowls and had to go to the hardware store to buy a big trash can in which it mix it, stirring with a barbecuing spatula.

It took a day to figure out that nothing I had would hold the dough.  A second day to mix it all together and a third to bake all of them.  Well, more like twenty continuous hours.  Tiring, but it was divine and if I want to treat myself, I can make a small one and simply not share it with anyone.

I am still struggling with sleep hygiene and will write about how difficult it is, as well as why I am unable to release all of the zillions of memories when I feel that I did not do well enough, or the right thing or whatever the heck is holding all of that nonsense in my head to be endlessly played in my noggin whilst I try to sleep each night.

This is not something I am doing all that willingly, it is at the behest of my therapist, and I truly am able to see the benefit of it, but I will do it.  Mostly.

I am hoping to do some marketing on the way home from work on Thursday, haul up enough food and stuff to last several weeks and just hunker down here.  I have turned down invitations for xmas and new year get-togethers, although I will groove with my daughter and the guys at some point.

Other than that, whilst I am out on Thursday I need to buy a new keyboard, as this one is full of sticky maple syrup that my pancakes were kind enough to share.  So, any wonky spellings are because I missed them when the keys stuck together to make new ways to spell words.

Peace and happy holidays to all us, because even if we think we are undeserving of good things, we are.  Deserving. 


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Two hours, approximately

I just spent two hours with Thomas Wolfe (not to be confused with Tom Wolfe, which I did), Scott Fitzgerald and a moment or two with Ernest Hemingway.

I have read Look Homeward Angel, and thought that The Bonfire of the Vanities, although very different from LHA, was also written by him.  I just learned that I have been confusing the two authors, Thomas Wolfe and Tom Wolfe, who, to the best of my understanding, did not hang with Fitzgerald or Hemingway, but was a contemporary of J.T. Salinger, another favorite author of mine, having read most of his stuff.  But, whilst I am most likely wrong about that last bit, it has been a stress-filled week and I am not sure about much right now.

Anyway, the context of this match-up is that I borrowed Genius from the library.  When my turn came along on the reservation list and I brought it home this week, I could not imagine why.  The plot did not sound like something I would have taken the trouble to reserve, but since I would rather spend today not cleaning and moving furniture between floors as I planned and must do this weekend, I watched it.

The film almost immediately grabbed me by the cojones, which I do not have, but my ex told me I had in abundance on one (or more) of the many occasions when I irritated him, which could have pretty much been any of the days we were married.  Although, I am pretty sure that he did not use that argument about my serious lack of his version of feminine charms until after our child was born.  Another feminine failure on my part, the whole getting pregnant and giving birth thing.  Another story.

Genius did take me inside the story of Thomas ("call me Tom") Wolfe and his first editor Max Perkins, played by Jude Law and Colin Firth.  Maybe that was the reason I wanted to see this film, those two guys and Laura Linney and Nicole Kidman.  All of whom I admire and I have to say right from the step-off, their performances were knock you to your knees, completely fall into the character and totally forget that they were actors playing rolls. 

I know that I have had plenty of absorbing film watching experiences, but this movie, well, the story and acting were, are, transcendental.  Even given that this week was a period of titering down on some of my psych meds, I am sure that I would have had the same viewing experience.  True.  Each actor became that person/character.  Completely and emotionally.  Frankly, I am still a bit breathless, given that whilst based on true events and stories, it contains many additional aspects of the real people involved that cannot be directly attributed to them.

And, that is that.  I will not type another word about this film.  Ah, sure, you can go to IMDB or any other on-line review thingy, but you will be able to appreciate the power of these performances only by watching it.  How it managed to get such low review scores boggles my cojones.


Monday, December 5, 2016

good intentions

I did get all washy, clothed and outside, to find that the little hatch thing on the back of the car, sort of like a trunk/boot, had been unlatched and that wee light had drained the battery.  It was dark, I was cold and hungry and it was so stupid that I laughed myself all the way upstairs.  There I looked on-line for anyplace nearby that would deliver food, groceries or fast food, did not care.

I found a pizza place that would deliver.  They did.  I over-tipped.  The food was bad, like horrible, like inedible.   

I ordered a deluxe supreme taco pizza and could only eat the lettuce and some of the crust edge.  The garlic bread was salvaged by cutting off the soaked part and the rest of the roll and the marinara were wonderful.  The chicken wings were stone cold, barely unfrozen and I ate them anyway.  I am not ordering pizza from them again, but I might stop in for a big place of spaghetti except for the fact that I can easily make that and it is fabulous.  So, goodbye pizza place.  It sure was a good idea.

By morning I knew I had to do something proactive and get over that first-world problem of crappy delivery food.  I did not have food in the house because I have been feeling so awful for such a long time and, all these days later I have barely improved the food thing here.  Being out is so exhausting and my doc(s) are still trying to diagnose my extreme lethargy and chest pain.  Tumors have been ruled out, as has cancer and lots of other icky things. 

Keeping in mind that one of the zillions of things about which I know nothing, medically speaking, I have this notion that my adrenal system is depleted.  Thank you very much, Dr. Google.  Whatever it is, I have to pull up my BGPs and get on with everything.

My daughter helped me visit a couple of possible places to rent that do not have out of code (building code) construction, mold and an inadequate heating system.  To of them were perfect (even allowing cats and small dogs) but they were all too expensive.  This wee village is between several large metropolitan areas and decent rentals are difficult to find.  Yet another 1stWorld problem.

I have a new battery in the car and am figuring how to pay to do some major repairs or sell it for scrap and find another used car.  But, the darn thing is running well enough to get me to the holiday party for the place I work/volunteer.  There was some amazing local youth music.  A jazz band from the high school, as well as four members of the same school's choir group.  The band played standards and the choir did holiday songs, including my only favorite xmas song, Mary Did You Know.  The first time I heard that on the car radio I had to pull over to listen.  It is a beautiful and emotional song and I love it.  When the young women came around to each of the tables to ask for requests, to be sung right there, we asked for a repeat of that song, as did the table next to us.

A very nice buffet followed, there were two free drinks, wine or beer or fancy bottled water, and everyone received a fifty dollar gift certificate to our store.  I got one last year, but left it behind on the table and am taking very good care of this year's certificate.  There is always something in that sweet thrift shop that I want to buy; a tea towel or handkerchiefs for myself, lovely things for things and there are quirky things that the grandsons and I can take apart or make into something.

We had our first snowfall yesterday.  It drifted down all through the day and it looks like there is a couple of inches out there.  It is not too cold, so the snow is heavy with moisture and I am so grateful that the landlord does not trust any of us to not mess up the property and he does the shoveling and other lawn care.  So, totally yay about that.

I do have a quandary.  My daughter is in her final semester of school and is also working at a lab in her field.  It is difficult because they are working her in a lab that does ceramic work, something she is yet to learn at school.  She told me yesterday that they are so backed up that there is no one with time to train her, so they are showing her what to do and then leaving her to it.  She says that her dental appliances look fine, but that she is positive that none of them are good enough to go into the mouth of any hapless patient. 

The little thing is that she has not asked me to help by watching the boys or helping her around her house.  Since I live only a mile from her now, that is easily accomplished, but she is not asking for help.  I usually just jump in and offer, but I did not this time.  Frankly, getting up at four in the morning is not nearly as much fun as you might think it to be for an old babe like me.

She knows that I am always available when my son-in-law travels, but we are stuck now, her not asking, me not offering.  I am hoping that when I am feeling better that I will be able to surprise them with offers to take the boys for weekends and after school.  We'll see.

It feels selfish to not be there most days, at least to help with cooking.  I just cannot do it right now, so I get to be selfish for a while longer.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Too much information coming. Leave now and finds something wonderful to do might be the best advice I have ever given.

It is too cold in here, but I am afraid of having too high a utility bill.
I have due library book and an overdue DVD, prescriptions on their final day of hold until they are restocked and getting dressed and leaving the house seems an impossible task.
I have few groceries in the house, microwave popcorn, two cans of soup and lots of condiments and shopping, even whilst I am out feels exhausting.
Last night I rearranged stair-top nook, the upstairs bedrooms, moving beds, bookcases, tables and carpets because I have been having nightmares and was just plain weary of facing another one.


I have a nice menu of mental issues.
PTSD
Depression
Anxiety
Food addiction


Only my closest friends know about any of this. The rest of the world thinks that I have it all together, perhaps not even a care in the world. Work, volunteer gigs, family and other mandatory social events are sometimes...not always...difficult, feel burdensome and scarily vulnerable.

I live in a self-forged stronghold where strength often cannot be found. I manage as best I can, fail when I cannot manage and retreat when failure becomes too much.

I am properly medicated and have excellent medical and mental health care support. I take my drugs, try to eat well, exercise, meditate and spend as much time outdoors as I can stand. My close friends and a few family members might not always understand, but they try to support me as best they are able. It is a gift that I do not take lightly.

I am blessed with an amazing life, one that I earned, tear by tear, pain by pain and loss by loss and I am grateful.

I guess the point of finally revealing this is that I recently saw someone who I suspect is pretty much like me, struggles like me and does the best she can with what she has to work with.

I recognized her immediately, as one of 'us', as soon as she was having trouble. Those moments passed too quickly for me to offer any understanding or help, either or both of which might not have been welcome, but when you experience difficulties of any kind, and you are even a half-way decent person, one of your impulses is to reach out to another person who seems to be having some manner or other of difficulty of his/her own.

And, I guess the larger point is to remember, to hold dear to your heart and not judge or dismiss another person, situation or circumstance that you may observe.

Love the people who deserve your hate, disgust or dismissal. Help when you can, hold back when you must. Be nice, like excruciatingly nice, loving and wonderful to yourself so that you are full of everything that you need, if only to be the best person you can, but also to be there for other people.
You cannot produce or provide anything from any empty self, place, well of universal consciousness or higher source you many embrace. Just saying.

Anyway, it is late afternoon.  The library will close soon; the pharmacy a bit later.  But, I am hungry and need the meds in a few days, and am not all that fond of library fines, although that happens pretty much every week.  One recent week was nearly ten dollars.  Shudder.  So, I will soon wash my face, take a flying brush at my teeth, get dressed and go out and do all the things that need doing today. 

At the least I will gnaw away at that list, which also includes stopping at the bank, hauling some stuff to the basement, maybe throwing a load of laundry in the tub and dragging some shelving up to my bedroom where I decided during last nights/early morning flurry of reorganization that the newly organized space is perfect for all of my sewing equipment and stuff.  That bedroom is huge.  I have had living rooms smaller than that.  Besides the shelving is that lightweight plastic stuff.

If you do not hear from me again...ever...it is because I ran away from home.  Such as it is.  Erp.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Oh no!

Lions and tigers and snow plows.

It has begun, the southern drift of the tundra.  I reluctantly woke for breakfast with my friends and had to drag myself through enough hygiene to not repulse anyone, looked out the front window and did not see snow.  Yay.  Like, seriously, Yay!  Then I wonky knee walked to the lower landing and saw the white stuff on the grass.  It had not yet melted, as it had done on the street and porch.  It has not actually made it that far as of now.  The grass is vainly trying to get rid of the stuff.  Not much success.

This brief visit was easily removed and melted from the car windows, but it is not long before that process becomes a major job.  I cannot find my tarps and will have to fetch some from my favorite hardware store.  That store and the Farm & Fleet in another town are my bestest places to shop.  I tolerate grocery and artsy fartsy shopping, abhor shopping for clothing and an only mildly averse to shopping for house stuff.  I cannot be alone in that feeling.

So, off to find out if my friend's cat will leave her under-the-bed nest and come out to meet me.  Then the hardware store for a tarp and all sorts of things for which I have absolutely no use but cannot resist buying.  Last time I was there I bought a power drill and a pack of bits.  I am so weak.

There better not be any new snow on the car.  Just saying.

Friday, November 18, 2016

November

you crazy old babe.  Seriously.

This month has brought insanely wonderful weather.  There was one night when, had it not quickly cooled, I would have been wishing the air conditioner was still installed.

Until today, or I guess tomorrow, it was too warm to wear a sweater, much less a coat of any weight.  It has been wonderful and you know how it goes, you get all settled in and put all of winter's glories out of your mind.  At least I did.  I could have gone without really cold temperatures until the inevitable transformation of the upper Midwest into a fair approximation of the Tundra.

This may be the actual first winter that I do not enjoy with my usual joy.  I am guessing that I will like shoveling the lighter snowfalls.  I am happy to scatter ice melt so that I can walk to my car without going ass over teakettle.  I will be glad to haul out the tarps to cover the car so that I can, almost always, just lift the snow to the side of the car.

I am prepared with my favorite windshield ice melt spray and I have a wee can of the stuff you can squirt into the car's keyhole and around the frozen-over doors.

I think that does not sound like an expectation of hating winter, but all of that cold and wet stays on the roads with stunning stubbornness.  I have never had a winter accident.  I did have a summer accident when I was five decades younger, but in my defense, it was crappy brakes (of which I had no notion) that did not slow me enough to prevent bumping into the car ahead of me whilst on the highway on my way to work.  Man, just a few more inches of brake performance would have meant no scratched bumpers, just a rapid heartbeat for a while and a more cautious drive downtown.

But, it is going to happen, all that cold, wet, ice and window scraping, so, you know what that means...big girl panty time.

Other than that, even though I have not been around to share, my health is improving.  The heart stents (3), bone-on-bone arthritis in my knees and one hip and how much healthier I am with all the rehab, exercising and getting back to eating well.  There is a darkly cloud, a wee one, moving in, but with how well all the rest has gone, I am not going to fret before fretting seems like a good idea.

Family is doing just dandy.  The grandsons are still brilliant and the son-in-law is still cool and groovy.  I tried to get tickets to a big concert with his favorite band, but that is pretty much an exercise in heart break.  With computers, the seats are sold in a whirlwind of bytes and bills/money.  My daughter warned me that it would be an adventure trying to buy tickets and she was right.  If I want to find some with a re-seller I will have to find someone to buy one of my kidneys.  Maybe both.

It would have been a nice holiday present for him.  My daughter and the monkey brothers are more accepting of my giving gifts, but aside from buying him a year's worth of his favorite socks for work, he always tells me that all he wants is that I wrangle the boys once in a while.  Frankly, that is more of a present for me than it is for him, but try to convince him?  Cannot be done.

I usually get around that by giving the two big people a joint gift card so that they can go out to dinner and a club and an overnight someplace without children.  They can spend the card on anything they want, but they cannot not spend it.  Works for me.

I have been trying{yeah, I know, there is doing and not doing, but no trying...blah...blah...blah}to get out of the house more often, mostly at the behest of my therapist.  Last month she gave me an assignment, I get one each month, that I had to leave my house every day for at least two minutes.

You know how it is with habits and how difficult they can be to break.  Quitting smoking was nothing compared to this whole going outside every day. 

I have everything I need inside.  I am surrounded by books, music and who can forget the whiskey.  With my meds, alcohol is not a good idea save for very special occasions, but it is nice to know that it is here.  What I have been doing is rocking on the porch, yes, I do use a rocking chair, and reading.  It is more than two minutes, but not exactly what she would like me to do.

I am trying...yes...to do more through the senior center here, and to that end I had lunch over there today.  The food was nice, healthy and even tasty.  I sat at a table with strangers, which is pretty much everyone because I do not leave the house except to volunteer a day or two each week.  Lordy.

It is all kind of, not depressing or anything, just things I would prefer to not do.  Even though I know that all of this nonsense is for my own good and I am going to give it all the effort it needs.

Next week I am cat sitting for a friend.  They have a family Thanksgiving planned, and almost decided to not attend.  A week and a half ago their cat, a marvelous ginger marmalade, could not stand up, walk, eat or anything.  Once she became ill they took time from work so that they could take care of her.  Not to everyone's taste, but I admire people who take their responsibility for their pets that seriously.  They still do not know what it was, but with the help of IV fluids and force feeding (which is way less fun than you might think) she can now stay on her feet, wobbles only a little, more like staggering, and is eating on her own.  I think she healed herself so that no one would wrap her tightly in a towel and force a syringe full of gunky stuff down her throat.

I know I would.

I have months of mostly pointless and self-absorbed things to share, but another time.  Since I got my Fitbit thing I am more dedicated to getting enough sleep.  Practically obsessed with it, and regular bedtimes and wake-ups are part of good sleep hygiene.  Rats.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Little League is wonderful and the pauses in action are opportunities to look around and find whatever it is you need to find right now.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

it is all right if you just slide that stuff down the stairs

No, we can't do that.

Why not?

Our company wants us to carry everything.

But, all this stuff is going down from an upper flat and up to an upper flat.

Sorry, we might damage something.

Well, that is what I did when I brought this (unknown purpose cabinet thing, but I use it to hold most of my instruments) home from work (thrift shop), and it is just fine.

You carried this up here?

No, I pushed it from the bottom, up step by step.

Really?

Sure.  I brought up that cabinet, too (indicating stunningly heavy...for me...thing in which I store, amongst other things, my big girl panties).

Well, we have got to get you a shirt.

{little giggle from me}

Yeah.  One woman and no truck.

Best moment of the entire move.

The cabinet, with instruments.  I think the only thing missing is the guitar.

The cat-like thing at the upper left is a stained glass cat lamp.  The container on the upper right holds drum sticks and other tall stuff.





Thursday, March 10, 2016

uh-oh

Seems as though the cardiac nurse, with whom I have a history, is more offended by me than I am upset by feeling not heard during our first phone and in-person contacts.

Yesterday was cardio rehab again.  We sit and chat outside the rehab room until they let us in.  That nurse arrived to open the door and she talked and laughed with everyone except me.  Four patients and a husband were greeted and chatted up.  Me, not so much, in fact, she never made eye contact with me and studiously ignored me the entire session. 

My lesson from this is to stop trying to have a conversation where I can explain myself and ask questions.  Kind of sad, as I thought that gently moving into interacting with the folk in my life was an improvement to being passive and simply agreeing with whatever someone else tells me.  I want,desperately, to believe that she was invested in sharing what she feels is the proper information and that my questions to clarify some things seemed like I was challenging her.  I really think that is what happened.  Anyway, I have no intention of trying to mend our professional relationship

So there is that. 

I do not think this would have bothered me so much had not I been grieving so much from the death of my ex.  I hate feeling this vulnerable and unable to take any kind of control over what happens to me. 

My daughter and I went out for lunch today, to, not celebrate, but at least sort of acknowledge her birthday.  I bought her some funny socks from the little store attached to the vegetarian restaurant where we ate.  We talked a bit about her father/my ex and we shared that each of us had gone on-line to find information about how to manage our grief.  She to look for information for people who's parent had been estranged from them, and me to search out help for people experiencing the death of an ex-spouse.  We both found that this grieving will most likely take a year, perhaps more.

I can believe that, as I am not yet able to begin to sort out all of the feelings I am having.  It is clear that each of us is mourning his death, but maybe more importantly the loss of opportunities to have been able to reconnect or some damn thing.

Well, anyway, I am off to find some Ella Fitzgerald and some upbeat jazz for my exercise-focal MP3 player, for when I exercise.  The fitness club I joined (free Silver Sneakers membership, via my insurance) had cable television screen attached to the treadmills.  Maybe I will watch some whilst I finish my 10,000 steps for the day.  That total is not easy to reach, and I am missing it by so much each day.  I wish the process would let you do the maximum over two days.  Then I would be over.  Yay.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

technology 0

Me, 1.

I am taking this whole cardiac rehab seriously.  I am going to the hospital three days a week and a fitness club the other two.

Quite frankly, I am hoping my fanny off that I can keep this commitment.  For one thing, I have to get up very early, at least for me, to make it to rehab.  I can go to the club anytime I want.  They are open 24 hours.  Round the clock.  Eliminates the excuse of not finding the time to go there.

Rehab is going well, but it is clear that the dork from the evaluation appointment has "spoken" to the rest of the staff.  My guess that this is some kind of payback for calling her on her over-the-phone lies, or maybe is simply clueless about what a stellar dork she actually is.  They are all treating me weirdly, but I am just going to ignore all of it, go there and benefit from the program.  I kind of would like to shake my finger at her, scolding the whole time.  Alas.

So, anyway, now I have shoes for exercising...first time in my life.  Huge surprise, huh?  And, I have arranged to sell that investment; the paperwork came on Saturday.  That, at least, is settled and I can stop stressing about the money.  It is a ginormous blessing to have an investment to sell.  There is nothing quite like a card from one of the best insurance companies to ensure you get the best treatment available.

Let's see.  I bought a FitBit healthy activity tracker thing.  That is where I won against technology.  The FB web site is a little tricky, but I finally figured out what to do and have set up my account, installed the sync thingy and will be able to check it at the end of each day.  Yay me!

On to sadder news.  Today is my daughter's birthday.  We are not celebrating and when I just sent her a message, a short string of hearts, she did not reply.  I do not feel like celebrating either.  Two  weekends past, whilst I was having surgery, my ex died.

The information came to us in a round-about way, reluctantly.  The only reason our daughter was contacted is that she is his next of kin, and the only person able to sign all the paperwork.

I am surprised at how much I am grieving the loss of him.  I never stopped loving him, I just could not stay with him, it just was not safe.  And, I wanted to live.  This past two weeks have confirmed that I do want to keep on living for a long time. 

I think that one of the worst parts of his death is that it has eliminated all of the possibilities for which I have been hoping and praying since the day I left. 

No more chance that he would reach out to our daughter and have a relationship with her.  No more chances for some kind of a chance encounter that would facilitate that.

But, the very worst thing is that she has lost her father in a more permanent way than having him out of her life.  Her grief is greater than mine.  We have spoken about this and she knows that when, or if, she is ready to talk with me, that I am here, at her service.

Part of this is my fault because I never said bad things about her father.  I never shared with her what happened.  All she know is what he and his family told her.  I was so certain that keeping all of that away from her was the right thing to do, and I still think that, but doing so has isolated her in a way that I never anticipated.  All of this is just the worst.


Monday, February 29, 2016

aftershocks

I received a call from the cardiac rehab department at the hospital.  They were reminding me to be there and advised me on what to wear and to allow plenty of time for the evaluation.

Then, she told me that they had checked my insurance coverage and my co-pay would be $35.00/US.
Each time.
Three times each week.
Twelve weeks.  Minimum.

When I checked with my insurance company last week I was told that rehab was completely covered.  I guess not.

The conservative total for this will be more than $1200.00.  It depends on how quickly my heart heals.  I told her that I could not afford any of that and was feeling just plain crappy when we finished.

I called the health club at which I can have a free, although limited, membership.  That membership is provided by my insurance company.  They are happy to have me, even so recently after a major heart event.  So, my plan is to go there and sign up after my first and, likely, last rehab appointment.

So, anyway, I was feeling better because they help heart patients there all the time and I will have the information from my rehab evaluation session and I was offered a free session with a personal trainer to help me set up an exercise plan.  I was feeling even better.

Then I received another call from the hospital cardiac rehab department, and the woman who called told me it was pointless for me to use the evaluation appointment if I was not planning on continuing for the whole term.  I explained that it was not that I wanted to avoid those, but that I could not afford to continue.  She was not very nice and I had the feeling that I would become a lost cash-flow patient.  I began to feel terrible.

She went on and on and I kept apologizing for not having enough money and finally she said that I would need at least four sessions and that I would be inadequately prepared for a decent recovery.  By this time I was crying and trying to not let her hear me.  I told her that I would take good notes during those sessions and take whatever brochures they might have.  Still scolding me (at least it felt like that to me) she agreed to let me come to the first one, although she stressed that what I could afford would be inadequate.  I promised her I would do my best and she told me that rehab was not supposed to cause stress and that I needed to take a deep breath.  I am feeling a little weepy just writing this.

So, anyway, I will go this week and take the sessions I can afford and figure out how to get the rest of the money so that I can take the entire course, as I do not want to die right now.  The survival rate for heart patients who take full advantage of cardiac rehabilitation is over five years.  Those who do not take the therapy usually die within three years.

I have a small investment that I was holding dear for the years to come, especially if our Social Security system fails, but I have two choices.  I can sell that investment, pay for the rehab and hopefully get a few more years.  Or, I can not sell it and die without being able to eventually use it.

There really is only one choice.  And, I guess what bothers me the most about this whole freaking mess is that it is simply another aspect of the Haves, those who have enough disposable funds to afford better insurance as well as the added costs of rehab or anything else health-wise they need, and those who do not have. 

I used to be one of Haves.  I had to go through hell to be one of those folk, but I was one until I could no longer be in that other life, where I would have died and, interestingly enough, avoided this heart problem.  I am not complaining.  Really.  I have the means to sacrifice and get the health care I need.  I am not happy about it, but as I said, I would so much like to live more than a couple of years longer.

I was still stressing about this whilst watching my grandsons so that their parents could celebrate their anniversary.  It is only their second because they married on leap year day, today, February 29th.  And, I was thinking, what do people without insurance do, and I already know the answer.  I lived it when I was homeless and going through the divorce and it is a disgusting factor of life for most of the people I have worked with during the past decade.  More.

Many of my clients, and others with whom I have worked, have never had any kind of health insurance.  They, their spouses, their children and their parents share a legacy of need that includes so many of the things that we take for granted.  We may be socially conscious, be volunteers, make donations of money or time to worthy organizations or we may not.  And, you know, it really does not matter beyond the moment of giving or helping because those problems are not going anywhere; they are simply and dishearteningly waiting until that moment of help passes.  There are not any long term solutions to anything connected with poverty.

Except that I believe there are solutions.

Education for everyone, even those students and families that are challenging.

Job training for those who slip through the cracks of our educational system and can turn their lives around at any age.

No one has to throw money at anything poverty related.  People just need the extra help they need.  Not one single person is beyond help and learning, no matter what crappy choices they have made in their lives.

It is interesting that my daughter and I had a similar conversation when I was in the hospital.  It centered on how difficult of a time I was having choosing a candidate for whom I could vote this fall.  She is a staunch Republican (where did I go wrong...smile/grin/chuckle) and I am a tree hugging, Berk wearing, granola eating pacifist and as Independent as it is possible to be and still be able to live among other people.  Really.

It delved into health care and other social constructs and at one point she said that she does not enjoy talking about politics but she loves talking with me.  Sweet girl.

And, there we are.  I am no long a Have, but because of some resources and an amazing family I am managing to avoid be a Have-Not.  I am not going to let the loss of that cushion bother me, because I believe that I will always have what I need when I need it, and I guess that is why I have that small investment and why I have it right now.

I am hoping that that I will not feel unwarranted sensitivity and and a poor-me feeling when I meet that woman at the cardiac rehab place.  I will pull up my BGP before I get off the elevator at the hospital, although I will have to hope that it does not contain a camera. 

There are times when it is difficult to remember how blessed I am, and those time slide right in so easily that I barely notice until my panic subsides.  I cannot let fear or loss or need or anything that helps me feel deprived, because I am not.  I have a life worth fighting for and worth sacrificing for over and over again.  I deserve this now new life, no matter how long it lasts.

And, I am absolutely not going to waste a moment on anything but happiness and safety and love and family and all that I can cram into every single moment.

Friday, February 26, 2016

don't even go there


post weirdness

The whole hospital and surgery thing is still surreal.  I had an appointment with my internist yesterday.  I was a little breathless from getting ready and rushing to the clinic and she did another EKG, which was fine, but she cautioned me that if the same thing does not go away in a minute, or if I experience any pressure or pain that I have to go to the emergency room again.

Fine.  I would rather be thought foolish, heck you can even call me a freaking idiot, than to die from this after everything that has happened in this wee charmed life of mine.  I am sure that wonky things happen to everyone, but I wonder how many of us recognize the times when we nearly did not survive some thing.  Me, well, since I left that other life, I kind of dwell on those past events.  Not intentionally, but if one pops into my mind, it stays there a while and it helps me to be grateful for being here and having this new now life.

It has a second component and that is I examine what happened and try to find alternatives for what I did or said or thought that might have changed the situation or circumstance.  Most of the time I am clear in my mind that I could not have done anything to change the result or defuse the situation.  I guess that is the proof that I was helpless to change anything.

Yet, there are other times when I have such yearning for better intuition or foresight or something that I could have used to alert myself to the coming storm.  That complete lack of knowledge was how it was in the early years.  I got along just fine as long as I followed the rules.  As that first ten years went on I had a kind of happiness that I was making him happy.  It is only in retrospect that I realize I was simply finding ways to survive.  How stupid that young wife was...I can hardly accept that she was, still is, me.  It took too many years and too many close calls for me to leave.  Amen.

This heart thing is different.  Despite months of self-diagnosis, I still paid attention to the pain and went to the emergency room.  I did not think of it as a close call, despite the speed at which everything happened, until my internist appointment. 

I asked two questions that I did not want to wait to ask my cardiologist (I have a cardiologist??????) week after next.  The first was about how the artery in my wrist heals after the stent surgery, which is just fine.  It is a slightly more extreme version of drawing blood.  That has to be the understatement of the year.

The other question was about the general health of my heart, especially concerning the plaque deposits. 

The stents were place in the branches of my left coronary/main artery.  That artery was completely clear of disease.  The central branch was the one 90% closed, with all of its branches clear.  The other two stents were placed in the left branch off of the main artery, in two of its branches, which were 90 & 70% blocked.  The rest of my heart is disease free.  I had fully expected to hear that I had damaged my heart in other ways, but that is not so.  Nice.

After the discussion and demonstration of the arteries, she leaned towards me and told me that I narrowly escaped a major heart attack, by a day or so.  How anyone can know that I cannot understand, but perhaps these doctors know from experience or something.

I am one super-lucky girl.  Anyway, I begin my cardiac assessment next week and after a treadmill stress test we will have enough information to begin rehabilitation therapy.   Despite my aversion to exercise, just like the blood thinning medications, it is going to be a permanent part of my life.  Like, until I die, which after all this, I hope is a long time in the future.

I felt strong enough to do some spring cleaning today, but stopped twice when I felt a little breathy.  And, yes, if I am going to clean, it is going to be a nice, deep clean so that straightening and dusting will seem like little pleasures.  I, personally, find that hard to believe, but you never know.

One more thing.  I thought I was saving money by buying shelf covering at the dollar store.  I was wrong.  One roll covers only the front of one my cabinet shelves, in a very small cabinet in this very small and old kitchen.  Man.

Off to have a salad lunch, with one of the big beefsteak tomatoes and some avocado I got on the way home yesterday.  Healthy hearts unite.

Allrighty, one more thing.

Do not take your health symptoms and/or concerns lightly.  Despite the commonly-thought reluctance of the male species to avoid going to the doctor, it turns out that women are even more reluctant, often waiting until something has become more serious.

I have been having those pains, in one manifestation or another for a  very long time.  Even though I am painfully honest now, I have not yet shared that I had these same pains twice before, attributing them to having pneumonia.  What an idiot I am.  I mentioned them to my doctor, but did nothing to stress how painful it really was.

Do not do that.

Heart disease symptoms are often (not always) different from what men have.  Mine were even different from what the traditional symptoms are for women with heart issues.

That is why I was so certain of my self-diagnosis and my doctor was not overly concerned (even though we talked about heart health) since I had successfully passed a nuclear stress a scant six months ago, there had to have been some indication of disease even then. 

During my appointment yesterday she told me she was sorry.  I told her she did nothing wrong, nor did she miss anything.  And, the truth is exactly that.  She gave me excellent care.  Assigning blame is a place that we are not going.  I am not even blaming myself for being timid about my symptoms and the entirety of my life of no concern about how my eating and lack of exercise could be contributing to my health.  Same thing for the stress I lived under for more than four decades.  Maybe longer, but I am being conservative.

My life is a No-Blame-Zone.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

she was eaten by wolves. and, then, they ate her dogs.

That is the answer to the question, "How did your mother die?"

More about that later.  So, anyways, there I was, salad finished, still hungry because I have cut way-way-waaaaaaay back on how much I eat since getting that crappy cold six weeks ago.  During the first two weeks I had little appetite.  Full of mucus leaking out of everywhere.  Stuffiness, congestion and a cough that made my lungs ache, or at least the chest and back muscles that support the lungs, or at least outside the rib cage.

That cough hung on and the pain got worse, got better and got worse.  It began just over my left lung and/or in my left arm pit.  Spread as the days went on.  Shoulder, chest and back, under left breast, left neck/jaw/face.  I had a test follow-up a month ago and my doctor and I talked about that pain.  She said the first thing she thinks of is heart problems, but I had a clear and pretty darn healthy stress test before last year's biopsy.  And, I kept insisting that it had to be associated with my lung, the coughing, congesting, mucus plugs, asthma, the whole big, gross thing.

I was wrong.

Thursday last I spent the day at my volunteer job at the food pantry/thrift shop.  It was my first day back since I had come down with that cold.  I hauled huge black trash bags full of donation clothing, 25/35/40 pound boxes of stuff.  Lifted, moved, shoved and pulled.  Just everything that we do there.

I went home and had my salad for early dinner because I was hungry and then sat down to read and maybe watch television if I could stay awake that long.  I must have drifted off around six-thirty and was woken by that pain that I have been having for six weeks.  Only, worse.  Maybe the worse pain I have had since giving birth, which was an emergency cesarean begun before the anesthesia took effect.  And, yes, I do remember that pain for the bit before I went down.

This was worse.  Still, I tried to pace it off until I knew that someone had to give me some pain medication, and fast.  So, I tore off my night jammies, pulled on a pair of slacks and a top and grabbed my purse.  I could not lift it, so I took my wallet (insurance information inside), keys and drove myself to the emergency room.   Not to my hospital, but to one that was closer.

I am not sure about the next half hour, sort of generally, but not many details.  The pain eventually went away.  Mostly.  And, I was asked to stay overnight.  My query about going home and coming back the next morning were explained away so that I did stay. 

I was worried about the costs and how much it would cost to go home the next day, feeling very foolish, after a day of expensive and pointless testing.

I had all the tests you can imagine and everyone kept saying how great my circulation was and how great all the ultrasound and stress test images looked and the hard copy was great and everything was great.

I went back to my room.  My daughter and I chatted about what a head-rush the whole thing was and lots of other stuff.  Somehow my wish to move out to the middle of no-where out west came up and I told her that I am still drawn there, and that it might be that my chance to actually move there has passed without me realizing it.  It would have been nice to live in that house I found, old but nice, the barns and outbuildings fairly new and in super shape.  I could grow my food, raise cattle, chickens and sheep, maybe goats and have lots of dogs, for the simple love of dogs, but also for protection from the wolves and coyotes.

If I had, said my daughter, in the years to come, if someone asked how her mother had died, she would have told them that the wolves ate me and then ate my dogs.  We were still laughing when the hospitalist came in and asked how I was.  I replied that I was just waiting to be discharged.  Then his phone rang and we joked about how you should never get between a doctor and his cell phone.  More merriment.

I was wrong, again.  He came back and told me that my stress tests looked a bit off and that I was going to meet a cardiologist and have a catheterization that afternoon, or the next morning. 

Frankly, all I could think of was how grateful I was that I had not had anything to eat since early evening the day before.  Anyway, my daughter left to fetch the boys from school, give them snacks and come back to visit.  Half an hour later I had the surgery.  Three stents, one in a major coronary artery that was 90% blocked, with the other two close behind.

I am home, fine and feeling that it my daughter had not been there through the whole thing, that the surreality of it all would make it even more unbelievable.

So, now I have a cardiologist.  My heart has never been any kind of health concern for me.  The rest of my body needs attention, but not my heart.  I think the weirdest part is that, having done lots of consulting with Dr. Google (Mayo Clinic, NIH) my diet is fine except for juicy red meat.  That is being replaced by more fish, more poultry and ground turkey.

I have an appointment with my internist, one on Tuesday with the cardiac rehabilitation department at not-my hospital, followed by a follow-up with that cardiologist.

Anyway, I feel fine.  Without pain for the first time in a long time.  No so crazy about being unable to avoid regular exercise.  Nope.  Not at all.  I will not protest or challenge what needs to be done, and it is my hope that it will eventually be less horrible, but I am not liking the prospect very much.

Other than that, everything is cool and groovy, I no longer feel foolish, and that is my story and I am stickin' to it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

to have the capacity of apprehending sound

The definition of the word hear.  By and large, most people hear only what they want to hear, you know, really hear what someone else is sharing, and not just being the receptacle that apprehends sound.  Or, more properly, only what they need and long and desire to hear.  Heck, I do it myself.  I cannot even begin to estimate how often I am listening to someone (an entirely different process) and am barely paying attention to what they are saying. 

Oh, sure, I can keep up with the conversation and all that jazz, but being attentive and fully involved in the conversation really does not happen all that often.  What the person is sharing is their view or opinion or experience, but not mine.  Sometimes I am thinking more about what I am going to say, and that means that what I am hearing is muted by my own thoughts.  What the other person is saying is more like background noise.  That does not mean that I care little for the person or what she/he is talking about, because I would most likely not be there in the first place, but sometimes I do not care sufficiently to be properly immersed in the dialogue.

We all do it.  We all have it done to us.  Life goes on and we get over it, or at least accustomed to never expecting to be fully heard.  Well, that is probably not true.  In that other life I would have given just about anything to be heard.  I still feel the loss of that.  It is echoingly empty and frighteningly scary to try to communicate and never, or rarely, be heard or understood or to know that the other person simply does not care to hear you, and that that person would be much happier if you just shut the fuck up for a change.  Another story.

But, my point is that it is a common, universal experience.  We all have our own needs and I guess it is impossible for any of us to find the kindness, support and selflessness to be a good listener all the time.  Another point is that it does not often make any difference, mostly because the other person is probably thinking of the next things he/she wants to say while they are still talking to you and before you have a turn at speaking.

What brought all this on is that I was sharing some of my experiences at finding health insurance for other people, those who did not have access to computers or other resources, or the personal experience of trying to maneuver the insane mess that finding decent insurance or other stuff.  It is what it is, and too many people are stuck with what they know and who they have in their lives to help with this kind of thing.  Factor in limited financial resources and some people simply give up.

Even those with decent finances can be overwhelmed by the process.  And, last week one of my coffee friends asked if I would help her find insurance that she could afford, based on the group's conversation of the previous week.  I agreed and knew, with complete certainty that I would be able to find insurance coverage that met her health and medication needs that would be friendly to her budget.  In fact, I was pretty sure that I could wow the BGP off of her.

So, I got basic information from her so that I could begin the search.  I found a few plans that would give good, basic coverage at fees that began at zero, deductibles that also began at zero and all her medication and have her preferred doctor included in the plan.

I called and gave her the information and she told me that she forgot to mention her pension, which more than tripled her yearly income.  Yikes.  I said I would work the new numbers and get back to her.  I was able to do so when I returned from my tests appointment at the lab, sharing that I found plans that began with less than $150.00/US in premiums per month and with very low deductibles, and did include her meds and doctor.

Alrighty then.  Turns out that part of our group conversation, two of the other babes and I were talking about our supplemental/advantage insurance to supplement our Medicare (old people insurance) and that all of us had found ways to decrease our monthly premiums by at least twenty dollars.  Score!!!  Those sup/adv plans, for us, are costing us from $30.00/US...me...to $205.00/US...friend #3 per month.  Mine covers only the basics because Medicare covers all of my diabetes needs and the extra premium covers prescription medications, basic dental preventative care and a vision exam, whilst the plan friend #1's premium covers every single one of her very specific and expensive health issues.  Friend #2 falls in between us, and her insurance needs include a husband with some health concerns, too. 

Plus, Medicare insurance costs $106.00/US per month right off the bat, and our sup/adv plans are added to that.  So, my monthly cost is $136.00 per month and so on...

However, what my friend though she heard was that I found complete coverage insurance plans for monthly premiums between $30 and $50 per month.  Period.  No extra costs for meds, doctor visits, hospital visits, preventative care or co-pays of any kind.

Man, I wish that were even close to possible.  It is not, though, and my friend was mightily distressed that I "misinformed her."  So, she is really upset because even though her income makes it possible for her to afford just about any premium plan that exists, she also shared that she has a lot of debt and really does not want to spend that much/>$150.00 on insurance. 

Truth is that she is quite angry with me.  I am hoping that she will find a way beyond her feelings about this, but you just never know.  I am hoping that once she has some time to think about it she might take my offer to help her again at any time.  Although, first she has to think that I have already helped her.

You know, I talk a lot.  It is difficult to make me be quiet.  Even a village could not handle it.  So, I am used to any listener not paying all that much attention to what I am saying.  I am background noise, and I am fine with that.  But, I think that I will pay attention to conversations for a while, not only my own, but what I hear around me.  That should be pretty interesting.

Friday, January 8, 2016

calendars

Since that smarter than me phone came into my life I have eschewed paper calendars.  In the old days I used to keep a big wall calendar at home, one of those desk blotter kinds, with the huge squares and plenty of room to write down everything about which everyone needed reminding.  I also kept a small monthly calendar booklet in my bag for jotting down stuff as it came up.  It took a decent amount of responsibility to keep them both up to date.

When I worked in a book store we had two extra stores during the winter holidays, both of them selling mostly calendars, but also toys and games and who knew what the hell was going to show up in those weekly deliveries. 

One store was in-line.  That means that it was a regular store setup, with a door, a back room for overstock and a rest room. 

The other store was a kiosk.  Those are the island shops in the middle of the mall corridors, that space between long banks of in-line store spaces.  The kiosk had scant storage space, long two-sided racks on which to display the calendars and other crap, a small mobile counter and sales space with a cash register. I guess they were called terminals because of the computer components, but they really were just machines that added up the purchases and processed the payments.

The kiosk did not, naturally, have a stock room or rest room.  We were dependent on the good heart of the base store/bookstore manager for rest room and lunch breaks.  It was a mess that was too distressing and unfriendly to all of humanity to describe now.  It still makes me shudder.

So, anyway, I was putting some information into my phone's calendar...oh, my god, I just love that thing sooooo much.  That, the built in flashlight and texting are what fuels my day, most days.

And, anyway, some of the old calendar store stuff popped out of my memories.  Despite the obvious drawbacks of place and time, as well as crappy managers, I have lots of fun and weird memories of those months each year.

Especially the people hired for those part-time jobs.  Most of them were fine, but as the years rolled on we had many amusing anecdotes about the folk hired for those jobs.

There were the people who just stopped showing up.  There was the guy who stole the safe from one of the stores we managed at another mall, on his way out the day after Thanksgiving, which is the busiest day of shopping for us.  There were the people who found out that we could not keep them after the holidays and just never came back from lunch.  There were the other people who just never came back from lunch, for whom we have no idea what happened. 

There was the college student who left the kiosk unattended to walk down a few storefronts to watch movies at the video store.  When we told him that he could not do that, he started bringing in his laptop so that he could do some of his classwork during slow times at the kiosk.  That did happen, both in the early weeks and after the first of the year when we heavily discounted merchandise and sold down as much as possible before closing for the season.  He did not do schoolwork, but watched movies at, clearly, a more convenient location, one with a stool.  So much better than the video store.

We were just happy if employees showed up on time, stayed their entire shift and did not steal too much from us.  Even with such low expectations we often found ourselves disappointed.  But, as retail folk all around the world know, you do the best with what you have.

One year we had to make a new rule.  You still had to show up on time.  You still had to stay for your entire shift.  You still had to be subtle about your stealing.

But, now, you had to wear pants.

This was a man who we hired to work shifts at both in-line and kiosk locations.  Unfortunately, there was a problem with his wardrobe.  Previously, the only clothing rules were that jeans could not be work and that clothing should be modest in appearance.  No jeans is pretty clear, but the whole modestly thing was open to personal interpretation and the occasional tussle with someone who did not have a regular standard or practice where modest garments were concerned.

For this particular man, well, he did not wear jeans and his body was appropriately covered, but we were never sure what he wore from the waist down.  Maybe it was pants, maybe it was not.  But, he came to work on time.  He stayed his entire shift and I do not think he took even a paperclip home with him.  The whole situation was weird and I often thought about buying a gift card for him to go to one of the department stores in the mall to buy pants, but I could never figure out a way to do so that was not creepier than whatever the heck he was wearing to work.

Other than that, we hired lots of people who followed all of the rules, did not steal and managed to do a damn fine job during a seriously stressful time of the year to be in retail.  All of those folk were kept on; part time in the beginning (because we never had enough hours in the first place), and moving up in hours and responsibility as time went on.  Some of those fine employees needed only holiday work and we brought them back into the schedule every year.

It and they were a lot of fun and real friendships were formed.  Two of them were a young man who came back for at least four seasons, and his girlfriend who joined him after his first year with us.  They were fun and cool and hard workers.  Informed about books, learned more about books and were good with customers. 

The young man was one of my all-time favorite people and we gave him hours that worked well with his studies.  One year he was working at the kiosk when something funny happened.

Well, not funny in the beginning.  Malls attract all kinds of truly weird, seriously rude and ruthlessly bored visitors.  You can do pretty much anything you want in a mall, especially in the public (not store) areas, as long as you buy stuff, even if it is endless big pretzels and soft drinks.  But, this is not about that, this is about the young man.  I guess he should have a name.  We will call him Michael.

So, anyway, Michael was out doing his time in the kiosk during the waning months of sales, after the new year and we were all hanging on, waiting for our turn to be closed.  There were few shoppers in the mall those weeks, but plenty of young people who had nothing better to do than find a way to the mall and hang out and avoid the kind of disturbance or annoyance that would get them sent out to play in the traffic until one of their parents came to pick them up.

A group of these youngsters, all boys, were making mischief and decided to hang out around the calendar racks.  They were messing up merchandise and being generally stupid.  Michael kid his job, straightening up after the fools and asking them to stop making the messes.  They would laugh, walk off and eventually return after they were sent away from some other store.  After the third time they swaggered back, Michael got more stern with them and told them if they could not behave decently that they would have to stay away.

One of them said to the other fools, "Oh, look, now you made the lady mad."

When Michael came back to the bookstore for his lunch break he shared the whole story with me and I could not stop laughing.  Like straight from the belly laughing, on and on.  Michael was not upset because he found it funny as well and could not wait to tell me about it.

Thinking about it still makes me laugh, although not much triggers that memory.  A few years ago there was a television commercial from one of the cable companies.  There was an older man, a dad, who was explaining to a bedraggled man (who was sitting on his living room floor) that he was sorry, but, whilst he enjoyed the cable program on which the oldbedraggly character performed, it was too violent for his children to watch.  The vaguebedraggly character looked up at the man, said he understood and then said, "You're a nice lady."

In the scheme of things human, we are all the nice lady.  Just going along, doing our best, trying to not metaphorically scold other people in our heads, and avoid allowing other people, unsatisfying circumstances and, oh, just the world in general  chip away at our inherent niceness.

All of us just want to be nice and to have other people, with their weird and often selfish agendas, allow us to be nice ladies.  Some of us have cat calendars hanging in our kitchens.  Others have war planes, sport team, inspirational, humorous or Norman Rockwell calendars.  Some of us are doing all of that electronically.

Whatever method we use to keep our lives organized, surely there is room to remind ourselves to be nice ladies even when it seems that everyone and everything is working to wipe those lovely smiles off of our faces and make us want to punch them in the nose.

I have all kinds of alcohol here, most of it gifts, and I never remember to have a bit of any of it.  Tonight, with my apple and buttered panettone dinner I am going to have a wee cup of bourbon.  Or, maybe, my daughter's homemade limoncello, and make a toast to nice ladies everywhere.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

meager

I always think, and say, that I have all the time in the world.  I kind of live by that notion, accepting that if something is important enough, that I really do have all the time I need.  You know, for what is important to me.  That is the litmus test for the things or projects or processes that I believe I need to have.  Sometimes, or once in a while or frequently, it does not matter how often I tell myself this story.

I guess that it is true, for the most part, because I will always find the time to do the stuff I love, be with the people I love and work at the stuff I love.  I feel that way about volunteering.  Oh, sure, I like to help and all that jazz, but volunteering, any kind of doing things for others or for campaigns or whatever it might be is pretty satisfying.  Were it not, no one would do any of it.  Sure, there will always be truly altruistic and self-sacrificing folk who have the kind of purity of spirit who will always rise to whatever need presents itself.  Big-hearted people who genuinely care about other people.  That sub-species of human who are genuinely human and humane and truly give a rat's fanny about more than just their own needs.

I am not sure where this is going, but suffice it to say that I am not one of those good people.  I do what I do because I love doing it.  That does not make me better than anyone, and it does make me more selfish than most because I am really invested in how it makes me feel to reach out and do stuff that is beyond my own needs.  Or, is it that?  What if my need is the thing that drives me?  I guess it does not make any difference.  As long as I am not hurting anyone or any whatever, then the reasons are irrelevant.

Time is increasingly on my mind.  The snow removal problem here reminds me that my physical resources are limited.  Whilst I feel well, healthy and all that, I am woefully out of good physical condition.  I am still fat.  I still do not engage in any regular exercise.  All that.  I am more bodily fit than I was before I moved here, to this flat with fourteen steps up to my door.  Yes, I count them.  It is a habit that developed when I began needing to climb that steep and narrow staircase.  Counting helped me to actually make it up, breathless and tired, but I did not have any real choice. 

Climb up and down the stairs or live in my car.  I have already done that in the past several years, so, no thank you, I do not wish to repeat that experience.  It did not kill me to live with those circumstances, but it is much less pleasant than you would think, especially in colder weather.  Not so great for my cat, either, but we did not have any choice for that, thankfully, brief period.

I think that most people who make it through challenging times are pleased...albeit often a little surprised...that they were able to do so.  There may even be a certain amount of smugness connected with surviving tough times, although I am thinking that most survivors would think of their survival as a point of pride and accomplishment, but the whole smug thing is in there as well.  I do not think it can be avoided.  You know, being human and all.

Unfortunately, time, actual time, is something over which I have no control.  I can decide how I will spend it, or as in my case, waste it, and that is not a gratuitous or sympathy inducing statement.  I do waste a significant amount of time.  Part of it is that I can do whatever I like, not do anything I do not want to do.  Some of it is due to inertia and depression, but those cannot be excuses because I do have a limited ability to affect those qualities.

Anyway, I have been thinking about how to inspire myself to get my saggy and aged ass out an doing more stuff.

Something I read on a blog that I follow made a quote by Albert Camus tickle my memory.  I had to Google for it, as it no longer lies complete in my memory.  Truth is that book/reading memory eludes me lately.  I just library borrowed and nearly completely read a book that I borrowed and read just a few months ago.  It was only vaguely familiar until the final few chapters.  That is how old I am sometimes.

And, that is the skimpy part of time, having all that I need.  The manifestation of the weak link in using what I have in the best way possible.  I am not doing that.  My sleeping is messed up and I am resisting medications that would force me into a regular schedule.  For good reasons, as those meds  certainly can work, but can mess you up in other ways.

But, back to Camus.  This is the quote that I had to find:
We have not overcome our condition, and yet we know it better. We know that we live in contradiction, but we also know that we must refuse this contradiction and do what is needed to reduce it. Our task as [humans] is to find the few principles that will calm the infinite anguish of free souls. We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more to peoples poisoned by the misery of the century. Naturally, it is a superhuman task. But superhuman is the term for tasks [we] take a long time to accomplish, that’s all.
Let us know our aims then, holding fast to the mind, even if force puts on a thoughtful or a comfortable face in order to seduce us. The first thing is not to despair. Let us not listen too much to those who proclaim that the world is at an end. Civilizations do not die so easily, and even if our world were to collapse, it would not have been the first. It is indeed true that we live in tragic times. But too many people confuse tragedy with despair. “Tragedy,” [D.H.] Lawrence said, “ought to be a great kick at misery.” This is a healthy and immediately applicable thought. There are many things today deserving such a kick.
 This is exactly, or nearly, as I am feeling and thinking right now.  I remembered, sketchily, only the first part, but discovered the second when I found the quote.

He was only twenty-seven years of age when he wrote that.  Crazy.  Groovy.  I am two and a half times that age and I cannot think of such things on my own.

I am not so concerned about the centuries or civilization as a whole, but hold this more personally.  It is about a life where, and at times, it is difficult to parse meaning from the jumble of just plain living.  All life is challenge.  Even the most calm and serene life is full of decisions one has to make.  How I am going to do this, in my life, can determine what my future, both near and long-term is going to be about.  Surviving is simply not enough.  It should be, but it is not.

I am not introspective enough to pull this together.  I become too caught in the thrall of the day, or the problem, or the time and space I am filling with nothing productive.  Except, for reading.  I am at a pivotal moment.  I could take classes, which very much appeals to me, and I am going to attend a few art things.  I even want to learn new ways to paint.  Maybe slump glass or work with mosaics.  And, I am struck by my need to read as much as I can. 

A while back, as I was getting my grandsons off to school, I made sure that we cleaned up after the bacchanal that those mornings often are, explaining that mom is a busy person and we need to clean up after ourselves because she is so busy.  My oldest grandson shared with me that he understood that I was not a busy as his mom was, and that she had told him that "grandma reads a lot and does not do much else."  At that time, many months ago, that was not true.  I was settling in here and trying to find things to do, people to meet, stuff like that.  It is true now.  Mostly.  Especially the reading part.  There is not enough time to read everything I need and want to know.  Well, that is primarily things I want to learn about, mostly science stuff.  So, I borrow a half-dozen books each week from the library and read what makes the most sense to me and return the rest with only a cursory flip through.

And, because I care about the person who writes the blog I follow, I am now adding Camus to that list of must-reads.  I no longer have the handful of his books that I have read; all my books were left behind in that other life.  But, I do have a great library that will find and deliver pretty much anything that I want, so Albert is on the near lineup.  Surely time enough in my all the time in the world for that.