augggghhhh, coffee pot posts

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Whoa, stayed up way too late last night, reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. This is not an endorsement of this book. Rather it is the desire to finish it and move on to an author that I like better. He does hook me enough that I can’t simply not finish the book though. I read 1Q84 and I really wish I had those weeks of my life back. I tried this one on a recommendation because I’m usually willing to give a writer another chance.

To lighten my reading up I went back to the Poldark series by Winston Graham, which is so fluffy it is a huge relief and I can pick it up after weeks and not be lost. With Murakami I find myself searching backwards constantly for clues I remember but can’t find. This must be satisfying to his multitudes of fans but it drives me crazy.

This weekend I have been petsitting for my neighbors, which is a pretty big undertaking. They have three geriatric dogs, two cats, and a parrot. In exchange for our brief periods of care, they have taken care of our cats for our long and more frequent vacations. It works out well, since our cats are extremely low maintenance these days. I am reminded of how much I am intolerant of the smell of unwashed dog, and how much I love the smell of my cats’ fur. Although when Squirt went through renal failure he smelled awful. The parrot and I are wary of each other after we scared each other the last time, but this weekend he talked to me and I tried not to jump when he took his fruits and veggies from my hand. I am not a pet bird person at all.

These dogs don’t seem to like being outside, which baffles me. They have a great fenced in backyard.

I’ve been thinking a lot about feminism with the #MeToo movement that happened this week, and its connection to fighting sexual assault and harassment. I like to think of myself as radical and far left, but I get a bit fed up with radical feminism sometimes. One of the posters that the organizers of the Women’s March handed out proclaimed “Women are Perfect.” WTF, really? Some of the worse sexists and bigots I ever met were women. Then a bunch of feminists got all pissed off because Bernie was invited to speak at a women’s rights conference. We’ll all be better off when we a) acknowledge that women need to also take responsibility for their own bad behavior, including Hillary, and b) stop lumping all men together as deplorables, and accept that they sometimes make mistakes as young men and can change with guidance. And yes, accusations of sexual harassment can sometimes be used as a weapon. I’ve seen it happen to a friend, and a woman was complicit.

I say this from my own experience as someone who has been sexually assaulted twice and sexually harassed more times than I can count. All of our experiences are unique and they should all be taken seriously and listened to as separate experiences. But if you don’t know yet that there are some women in this world who are fucking evil, you are not paying attention.

Speak up if you can (I didn’t and still can’t), get help (I didn’t), and know that nearly every woman shares your experience. Don’t blame yourself, but do realize that when you’re young and alcohol is involved, bad judgement can happen on both sides. Consider that if violence or coercion was not involved, that the other person’s judgement may have been just as impaired as yours. In one of my experiences, the guy was wrong, but we were both hammered and I can’t hate him for reading the situation wrong, although I do wonder how attractive a young woman who had just thrown up and passed out really could have been. That was on my 20th birthday. In the other, which happened when I was 18, I’d put him in prison if I could, lock him up, and throw away the key. But at the time, all I could think about was not putting my parents through that pain of knowing, and that I was stupid for not getting out of the car and running. And yes, worried that they would not support me.

Above all, be kind to yourself.

The election of a sexual predator to “lead” our country has done more to unravel my psychological health and bring up terrible memories than anything in my whole life up until today. The worst of these experiences happened in the late 70s and early 80s when I honestly did not know what to do and blamed myself for letting myself get in the situation or didn’t want to “rock the boat” at work because it was so hard to find a job. Some of my first serious run-ins with sexism came from women.

Now that these sexual predators are empowered and in charge, at least they are being exposed and we are bonding together in fighting them. They have always been there, and like the white supremacists they are scurrying around like cockroaches in the light. Don’t forget the female traitors who uplift them. They are just as bad.

Yeah, it’s pretty likely that I’ll come back and delete this post.

augggghhhh, whatever, whining

The Apocalypse!!!

All eyes on the East Coast are on Hurricane Irma, while Texas is still underwater and the West is on fire.

Climate change deniers confuse and disgust me. I’m a person who depends on logic, and this kind of nonsense wouldn’t sit well with me even if it didn’t mean the destruction of our planet as we know it. The worship of money in this country causes such mental dysfunction that even the fate of the children and grandchildren doesn’t get through the psychological walls of the brainwashed.

I resigned myself quite a while back that it’s too late to do anything meaningful on a large scale now. You can say that’s pessimistic or selfish. I say it’s being realistic, and I don’t much care what other people think about my attitude. So I do what I can in my small corner of the world to make things better in the time we have left, thank God I decided not to have children, and hope like hell that I don’t get reincarnated. I support without criticism whatever anybody is trying to do to improve or save our land, water, air and soil, because all the money in the world will not save us if we don’t save them. The great work is being done without the idea of being rewarded for it.

And there’s the social catastrophe in the United States. You can’t even have a civil discussion here on any controversial subject without getting attacked, even from those who agree with you. Nobody’s listening to each other. There are kneejerk reactions to everything according to whatever filter that person is using. People believe insane things that are based on bullshit propaganda and celebrity tweets. I am very glad that I am a political independent, but no one seems to be immune to this sickness. That’s the way I feel today, and why I won’t address social issues here. It might change by tomorrow. I’m distressed right now.

The current forecast is for Irma to skirt the east coast of Florida and make landfall in Georgia or the southern South Carolina coast and come up through the Carolinas. I feel like we are ready here. We haven’t had any real damage from a hurricane since Fran here in Greensboro, but North Carolina has had more than its share of flooding. Floyd drowned eastern North Carolina. Hugo proved that even 200 miles inland is not immune to serious damage. Matthew submerged the little towns along the Lumber River where I grew up last October.

The states in the West that I fell in love with and hoped to migrate to for our retirement are burning up. Oregon has had much more intense heat waves that we have had in North Carolina this year. Glacier National Park is burning. The Columbia River Gorge is burning. People can’t breathe because of the smoke.

I am concerned that we plan to fly to Colorado for a few days next Wednesday, as we try to do every year to visit my aunt and cousin and celebrate my cousin’s birthday. Right now it looks like that plan is still on track, thank goodness.

But I don’t count on anything. It’s a crazy world, and nothing surprises me anymore.

augggghhhh, Back Forty, butterbeans, critters, whining

Catching up

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The front yard container garden has been producing tomatoes, despite its propensity to dry out every day and some blossom end rot. I should have remembered to put epsom salts in the holes when I planted these. The peppers are really unhappy. A few of the plants’ miseries have finally been put to an end, due to an early invasion of aphids that I didn’t control when I was traveling. I made chili with ground bison and tomatoes and peppers from this garden last night. Even the Romas that had blossom end rot were fine – I chopped off the ends. The Beefy Boys, which Sandy picked out, are a hit. Very sweet and dense, the right exact size for two sandwiches. Even when they split, they patched up just fine.

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Butterbeans are here. I hope to have enough for a little taste for everyone when I go to see my sister and brother-in-law at Lake Waccamaw this weekend. We have also eaten a few green beans. That patch did not germinate well at all, but I combine them with potatoes as they get big enough to pick and they taste good. The celery is ready but I haven’t tried it yet. The broccoli is all leaves. The woodchuck has been enjoying munching on that.

Also, the semi-shady spot next to my steps seems to be a great place for lettuce and parsley.

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My big trips are over for the year while we pay off credit cards and concentrate on home for a while. I wish that I didn’t bunch them up together, but May-July are the best times for me to take off from work, and flights are much cheaper before June. I’m lucky that I get so much time off at this job – it is one of the reasons I love it here so much. However, it does come at the expense of regular pay raises.

I came back from Portland with a raging case of food poisoning – certainly the worst I have ever had. Once my fever came down to the point that I could think straight and use Google, I played Dr. House and self-diagnosed myself with e coli from the cherries from the farmers market that I munched on from Sunday to Thursday, which I forgot to wash. I chose not to go to the doctor, although I had my husband on alert that I might have to go to the ER or urgent care. From what I read, you just had to stay hydrated and suffer through it, and doctors couldn’t do that much for you. So my lesson was learned. I will never be cavalier about eating raw unwashed food again, especially food that has been handled by the public.

I spent another week getting my stomach back to accepting normal foods and healing from the muscle aches. Now I’ve turned my attention back to healing my neck and shoulder, which, in the words of my massage therapist, is all “cranked up.” She recommended that I see a different therapist who specializes in pain management, and I’ll go to her this afternoon. On Tuesday morning I went to my regular GP for my six-month blood-letting and she prescribed me muscle relaxants, which haven’t kicked in yet. Gawd. What a mess. It’s hard to get anything done when I’m in this kind of pain. Heat helps, but in mid-July I’m not eager to curl up with a heating pad or use a patch.

I want to weave and dye and weed and plant and do a lot of things that keep me from healing, and I’ve been too stubborn to stop with the yard work. I can’t stand to see the weeds and vines take over. My worst fear is that I won’t get better. In that case, I have to find a way to keep doing the things that I need to do. Stopping permanently is not an option, but I may have to stop for a while longer.

There is some good news. The new chiropractor I saw in June fixed my lower back and hip problem! Hooray!

Anyway, I hope to start posting more art-related photos and topics here very soon. Please bear with me!

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Diego and Pablocito have been enjoying the front porch. They stay there until we make them come in, most of the time. Diego often enjoys the swing, but they have to share the cat tree. It’s fun watching them watch the birds and squirrels. You should have seen Pablocito when the woodchuck ran by. The expression on his face was priceless.

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augggghhhh, Montana/PNW trip

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. May 14, 2016

Sandy and I spent most of the first day of our vacation getting to the Amtrak station in St. Paul, Minnesota by plane. We found a cheaper way to park near Raleigh Durham Airport through a service that contracts with nearby hotels to use their parking lots and airport shuttles. The one we used saved us about half of what we would have paid at the economy lot and it was a good hotel in a nice area: One Stop Parking. What a good idea for a business. Then we flew to Minneapolis by way of Atlanta, where our plane was delayed for an hour because someone broke a seat in the exit row and it had to be replaced. I thought that we were still okay on our schedule because I had planned on an extra hour to get something to eat before we got on the Empire Builder at 10:20 p.m. that night. I was wrong.

Mainly I was wrong about the quickest, easiest way from MSP airport to the Amtrak depot in St. Paul. I thought that it would take about 30 minutes by light rail. Don’t ask me how I got this information. I must have dreamed it. At 9:45 p.m. I looked at the number of stops before the depot and it began to dawn on me that there was a good possibility that we would miss the train. I decided to call the station from the Metro and was thwarted by a phone robot that did not understand my answers to its questions. This quickly got worse after two gangs of drunk young teenagers surrounded us in the car and started screaming accusations at each other about a stolen bike.

I watched the clock nervously as I waited 20 minutes for a station agent to answer, while the situation around us deteriorated. One group of kids got off the train and the other group got in a loud threatening argument with a grizzled old man sitting in front of us who kept saying things to escalate the tension and doing things like wiggling his fingers at the sides of his head yelling “BLEH!!!!”

Finally I got a human on the phone and I was nearly crying. I shouted into the phone that I couldn’t hear them for the yelling around me and that we were almost there and we’d be running with our luggage but we’d get there at probably exactly 10:20 and could they please, please, please hold the train for a few minutes? Miraculously, I barely heard the agent say that they would hold the train for eight minutes.

The old man slipped off the train suddenly and the teenager who had been yelling at him turned to Sandy. “What about you, do you think I’m a n—–r?” Sandy said that he didn’t know him and he didn’t know who he was. I sat behind Sandy mouthing, “No, no, no!”

This is not the way I envisioned beginning our vacation.

Suddenly the teenager said, “Hey, are you taking the train to North Dakota?”

I stammered, “No, Montana.”

The man behind us said he was going to North Dakota. The teenager told us to have a good trip and the whole group got off the Metro at the stop just before the depot. At this point we jumped up and started getting our luggage ready to run for the Empire Builder. I shrugged on my backpack and let go of the pole to adjust it. The train shifted and I fell backwards; the backpack and my elbow taking the brunt of the fall. North Dakota Man helped me up and pointed us in the right direction. The depot was huge and there was a high school prom going on in the middle of it. It was confusing to say the least.

But we did it. We made the train. And Amtrak helped.

We collapsed into our sleeping bunks, exhausted, in pain, and jacked up from the adrenaline. I got very little sleep that night. But at least neither of us would be driving the next day. We were passengers on the Amtrak Empire Builder.

More to come. The rest will involve way less drama and way more photos, trust me.

augggghhhh

Auuggghhhh

(Warning: this is a long, frustrated post. One of the things that I try to accomplish with this blog is to talk openly about my experiences with anxiety, depression, and agoraphobia. These days people seem to be more educated about it, so when I hear this kind of reaction, however vague, to my taking medication for my GAD, it really bothers me. Medication changed my life. This is one of the reasons that this blog is called “Slowly She Turned.” It began during my transition to good mental health.)

I have mixed feelings about this latest doctor visit for my chronic hip pain, which flared up big time about a month ago.

On one hand, I want to trust this orthopedic doctor, but my experiences with chronic back and hip pain over the years has led me to question M.D. diagnoses and anti-inflammatory drugs for good reasons.

On the other hand, I didn’t get an injection so I am relieved about that. He says that he thinks that my hip pain is coming from inflammation around a slightly degenerated disk in my lower back, so he prescribed meloxicam for me. He was kind, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit like a hypochondriac, just like back in the 90s when I saw so many doctors for back and hip pain.

The other part of this visit that frustrated me was this conversation about my medications:
Dr.: “You don’t seem depressed.”
Me: “I am weaning myself off anti-depressants now.”
Dr.: “You don’t seem like an anxious person.”
Me: “That’s because I am on anti-anxiety meds.”
Dr.: “A friend of mine who is a psychologist says that the basis of anxiety is fear.”

I go into a short, calm explanation of being diagnosed with panic disorder and the fact that it runs in my family.

Me: “At one time I got to the point where I had problems leaving the house, but I pushed my way through it because I know that agoraphobia is behavioral, and since then I have traveled all over the world.”

He shook my hand and walked out.

I told the nurse how relieved I was not to get the shot (she already knew that I was very anxious) because the last time it was so painful I fainted and was nauseated and had to lie down for 30 minutes after I got the injection and was in pain all day and that night.

Nurse: “I’m surprised that you made yourself come in.”
Me: “That’s because I push through my fear.”

In the 80s, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, and I ruined my stomach with anti-inflammatory drugs.

In the 90s, I was told that I didn’t have osteoarthritis, and I started crying, and the orthopedic doctor (another one) told me that he thought that I was depressed and I “stored depression in my hip.” Why? Because I was crying. I told him that I was crying because I had been in pain for years and nobody could tell me why. DUH.

Finally I found a chiropractor and took yoga classes and got better after years of treatment, but in the past ten years chiropractic and yoga has not worked for this hip pain, although it helped my back tremendously. I’ve tried acupuncture too.

Seven years ago, as much as I wanted to stick with alternative medicine and therapies, that cortisone injection was the first thing that helped my hip pain, and I was able to walk without pain on a trip to Alaska a few weeks later.

Now it is supposed to be coming from my back?

That’s why I have mixed feelings about not getting the shot. I hope that I will be able to walk and sit without pain a few weeks from now on my big trip west.