Back Forty, coffee pot posts, critters, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

This time, in the morning!

I am waiting for Porfirio to come this morning to clean up this HUGE MESS in the Back Forty. He has worked for a couple of my friends for years, and they absolutely love him. He gave me a great price on this job, and will do the maintenance work for me after the big areas are taken care of. I say “huge” and “big” but our back yard is actually pretty small.

And here he is!

I guess that I won’t be calling it the Back Forty any more. Just my little garden in the back. I’m going to keep up the beds at the side fence and the one that Justin made for me next to the fig tree, and probably move my herb garden back to it. It will be a job that I will putter away at as the days get warmer. But my days of big urban food gardening are over. I’ll plant some more asparagus, since the groundhogs leave that alone, and leeks and onions. I’ll plant some tomatoes and peppers in the side beds and in containers.

The two-decade fight over the back yard design will be over because I am compromising and letting Sandy have a grass lawn in the area that is not my garden. I am done arguing about it and it might help us sell the house. And now I will be hiring someone to mow it. I (and others that I have confided in) have NEVER understood why he so disliked my garden, especially at the height of its beauty. I mean, there was even a big newspaper feature about it!

But, whatever. I am done with it. I can’t fight off the groundhogs and take care of all that anyway. Moving the herb garden will give me a doable project to focus on.

We saw this tree with a ribbed texture on our walk last Sunday. I wonder what it is and if that is normal?

Pablocito has been getting too much camera time, so here is Diego trying to take a nap. He doesn’t much like the camera.

This weekend I am making chili and we are going to Office Depot to try to find an office chair that Sandy will be happy with. He spends a lot of time in that chair and his is worn out. It reminds me of Martin’s chair on Frasier. Yes, it is that bad. He’s been trying to make it last until after the pandemic but it is falling apart.

Since I managed to get laundry done over the course of this week, and a bit of cleaning, I am going to try really hard to do something that is fun for me this weekend.

I finished “Gentlemen and Players” by Joanne Harris this week and I absolutely loved it. The fastest I have read a book in a long, long time. Now I’m reading “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout, and seeing why it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, depression/anxiety, Reading

Saturday noon coffee pot post


^^^In a front yard on this street.

Well, it’s been a week, all right. Many, many thoughts are tumbling around in my head. I am an INTJ personality type, so my thing is contingency planning. There are so many unknowns right now that it has put my brain into hyperdrive.

Sandy got his lab work done on Monday, and he was asked to go back and give more blood and urine for additional tests on Wednesday. He can’t drive on the pain meds that he is on, and so I drove and sat in the car. When the N.P. called about his results, it was scary. There were some good things, like his A1C is way down to 6.1, which put him at pre-diabetic level. That’s great. His kidney functions are fine. But his CK reading, which measures muscle deterioration and weakness, was extreme, and he tested positive for RA. That indicates an auto-immune disease. So, now he has an appointment with a rheumatologist in two weeks. I wish that it could be immediate because although his shingles are much better, his muscle weakness and inflammation markers got worse even between Monday and Wednesday.

I made the mistake of looking up what his CK scores might mean on a couple of reputable medical websites. Hoo boy.

So all kinds of possibilities are going through my frenzied mind. I am not the nurturing type, and of course I have my own problems. I honestly thought I was going to have a – what? what do you call it now? – nervous breakdown? intense depressive episode? nervous exhaustion? There was a day when I thought that I would quit, and I called my sister and she talked sense into me. Last week I had a lot to do. Some of it got done, some of it didn’t. What did had mistakes, which I opened a work email about this morning. But I am being kind to myself and reassuring myself that I can’t do my best at the moment, but I’m doing the best I can.

Some of what is going through my head is that I need to go ahead and hire someone now to help with the yard clean-up, and to install a handrail on the front steps. Then I need to get estimates on rebuilding those steps so that they are not dangerous, and we may possibly need to build a ramp. There is room if I move my herb garden to the back yard.

This also means that our trip to Portugal in September may not happen.

When I was at work yesterday, Sandy did not take pain meds and drove about 15 miles away to get take-out from one of his favorite restaurants. He managed to do it, but he was exhausted afterwards. He should not be driving, but I can’t stop him. I don’t think that he will do it again, but he can be stubborn about what he can and can’t do.

I did get my shingles vaccine last Sunday afternoon at Walgreens and my arm just stopped hurting almost a week later! The first two days were really bad. An ice pack helped a lot. It makes me dread the second dose, though. Some people say that they had worse side effects with the second one.

Pablocito and Diego caught a mouse last night. Well, Pablocito did and Diego crouched a few feet away, clearly fascinated. I saw what was happening but realized that there wasn’t much I could do about it, so I went back to bed. I found the mouse wrapped in a throw rug this morning. It probably died of the stress. The last time this happened I tried to rescue the mouse and I put it outside on the back steps, but it died out there. Oh well, the wheel of life. It is good to have a mouser. I just wish he would go after the palmetto bugs that sometimes invade the house.

Now that my arm doesn’t hurt so much, I’m going to weave some tapestry. Really. The weather is getting better, thank God, so as it gets warmer we’ll be spending more time on the front porch. Getting out and puttering in the yard during the two nice days we had last week did me a lot of good. I walked around the block, and talked to my neighbors in person and my friends and sister on the phone.

Reading: finished “The Silver Swan” by Benjamin Black (aka John Banville). He is a rather bleak writer because his characters tend to be lonely or twisted, but he writes masterful descriptive prose – almost at the level of Annie Proulx. So many descriptions of smoking. I guessed the ending of this “mystery” from the beginning, and there were parts of the book that I wondered why they were in there at all. I enjoyed the setting of 50s Dublin, though. He mentioned my favorite pub that we visited on our last trip there: The Cock Tavern in Howth.

On Kindle I am reading Rebecca Solnit’s “Men Explain Things to Me.” It has made me remember all the sexism I endured in my younger days, especially at work. These days, I feel pretty good about that area of my life, but what astonishes me is how much I put up with because I felt like either no one who could do anything about it cared, or that I was somehow responsible for it.

As for fiction, I’m not sure what is next, yet. Maybe “Gentleman and Players” by Joanne Harris. I have so much to choose from! Almost every book I read gets put into a box to donate or sell, and I am beginning to see some spaces on my bookshelves for the first time in years. Whether we end up moving from this house or not, I want to clear out some clutter.

Blather, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles

Sunday noon coffee pot post

This time I’m posting at noon not because I slept late (although I did go back to bed for a little while) but because I’ve been trying to get laundry done. Because the plumbing is backed up again, I have to monitor the outflow and when the pipe fills divert the washing machine hose to some buckets that I have next to the washer. Then I dump the buckets outside. We have a lot of laundry right now.

Better than having to haul laundry down to the river or use a washboard in the tub, I guess. Actually I thought I might be prepared because I bought an antique washing machine, basically a tub on wheels with a wringer, for papermaking several years ago, and at first the plan was to use it if the power went out, and so I thought that I’d just dump the water in there. Not so fast, though, the drain stopper is missing and the corks I tried to substitute keep popping out. Who ever knew that a washing machine used so much water!!!

The next time, I am buying a cheap mechanical washing machine. No more of these computerized Samsungs. I want something that I can control.

I was drying our clothes on clothes racks, but I found that using the dryer helps a lot as far as getting the cat hair out. So we’ve gone back to that again. I would love to move everything out of this house, clean it from floor to ceiling, clean the HVAC ducts, clean all the furniture and stuff, and then move half of it back in and give the rest away. Wouldn’t that be wonderful!!!

Just fed the man a bowl of hot oatmeal with brown sugar and blueberries. He is in bed again, this time with a headache. He wants to walk outside and have me come pick him up in the car at a certain point. I convinced him to walk around the house a few times to get some sunshine and have me with him in case he falls.

Yesterday we ordered delivery from our local pizzeria, Slices by Tony, which does a lot more than pizza, and I guess that was worth paying the Door Dash fee, although I don’t like doing that. Sandy had a chicken philly sub and a connolli and I had a veggie calzone, and it was enough for two meals. I couldn’t eat last night so I still have 2/3 of a calzone and leftover lasagna for tonight.

I am about ready for some good Chinese or Vietnamese or Japanese food. I love Italian and Mediterranean but I’m tired of it. If I can get it together I will make a big stir-fry tonight.

I didn’t get any weaving or the chores (such as laundry) done yesterday because I had a migraine mid- afternoon. But I’m going to try again today. Vacuuming and laundry take precedence right now. I’ve been in bed too much because it is the place where I feel comforted.

The nice things that happened: I got on a Zoom meeting with the Women Over 50 Moving to Portugal Friendship Facebook group and was able to see the faces and listen to these women I have been chatting with online for the last several months. They are a good group – all the nasty attitudes and anti-maskers and Co-vid deniers get weeded out fast. You don’t get to act ugly or sarcastic to someone in the group more than once, generally. You are called out and removed by three able admins who live in Portugal. They have great advice and infinite patience, although if you search this group out, I advise you to search through the posts to see if your questions have been addressed. There are almost daily posts about bringing pets to Portugal, luggage and shipping recommendations, and D-7 Visa processes. Also lots of jokes and memes and NSFW language.

I talked for a long time to my friend JQ who now lives in New York state on Friday night and to Susanne yesterday. It helped to confide in my friends and let them know what is going on. It was so good to hear their voices! Susanne and I are going to try to get together to walk in a couple of weeks.

I feel like I could handle this a lot better if I was not so depressed and on the verge of agoraphobia.
This really is a “Coronavirus Chronicles” post because if we weren’t in a pandemic, Sandy might have been given a proper medical screening in December, I would have gotten a shingles vaccine this weekend with no problems, and we would have had a plumber in here months ago.

Once we can get vaccinated and Sandy is not so sick, I am going to the lake.

augggghhhh, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, Rants, Reading

Saturday noon coffee pot post

The church bells are chiming out twelve rings as I begin writing this post. Now they are playing hymns, which never ceases to annoy me but not quite as much as it used to. I know the words to many of these hymns and I am prone to hymn earworms, and a lot of them remind me of the loss of my parents, which makes me sad.

This has been a rough week, no lie. I have been trying not to whine and complain, especially on Facebook. I have written a little here, and a lot more privately. So be warned, this is going to be a long whining post.

Sandy went to see his GP on Monday, and she immediately diagnosed him with shingles. She said that it was good that he finally came in, because it was getting to the point where it couldn’t be treated? I put a question mark there because I was getting a lot of information from him second hand, and even in normal times he is terrible with remembering details correctly. She didn’t pay attention much to the story of his muscle weakness and attributed everything, including his respiratory issues, to shingles. She sent him off with prescriptions for an anti-viral and Tramadol. We were relieved to at least have a diagnosis, since we both suspected a staph infection, which could have been worse. I think that we leapt to that idea because we have relatives who have been critically ill with staph infections, one of which came from a cat scratch and Sandy had a very light scratch near the rash.

The Tramadol didn’t do much to help his pain so I began doing research, started him taking acetaminophen along with it, and reached out to my friend Missy, who is the queen of pain. I don’t say that lightly. Missy has Type I diabetes and “stiff person syndrome,” which is about the most painful disease that you could imagine. She also has a PhD and knows a lot about medicine. She powers through every day and still exercises and runs as much as she is able. I trust her opinion more than most doctors. She said that Tramadol was not the right kind of pain medicine to relieve the nerve pain of shingles and that he needed to take gabapentin. Then I reached out to another friend who has had shingles FOUR times. He said that Lyrica, which is similar to gabapentin but with more side effects, was the only medicine that helped his pain.

Yet, I could not get Sandy to call the doctor’s office back and request gabapentin. I did find him some alternative pain relievers that helped a little more. By Friday morning, I was done with this reluctance to call. I try very hard not to manage Sandy’s health issues, but something had to be done. So he gave me permission to call his doctor’s office, and they called in gabapentin and I picked it up from the pharmacy. Then he had an audio doctor’s visit with the nurse practitioner that he usually sees and likes a lot. I sat in on that so that I could provide information and timelines (his biggest problem is time perception) and we talked to the NP about his muscle weakness, when it began, and what he should do.

I asked him if it was possible that muscle weakness from shingles could begin so far in advance of the rash, and he said that would be very, very weird. So Sandy is going in for lab work on Monday, and if they can’t find some diagnosis from that, he will be referred to a neurologist and maybe physical therapy. Thank GOD.

Of course, we still have to get him vaccinated! And me, but my workplace is going to take care of that in March, hopefully.

Work has been ridiculous. I mean nutso. This is always my busiest time of the entire year, but the university decided to move up the deadline to enter the fall 2021 schedule in the database system, basically saying that they expected things to be back to normal in fall and they want students in the classrooms as much as possible. Then, late Wednesday afternoon, we were given new directives for Co-vid protocols, which meant that we had to go back to the faculty, talk to them, and then move about half of our classes to online or hybrid. In addition, I discovered that most of the new classroom capacities will not fit our mid-size classes at the limits that the provost gave us. Even some of the hybrids, after being split in thirds or half, are going to have problems with finding rooms large enough. So I expect to have to revisit this again.

In the meantime I feel like I am crying in the wilderness, with nobody listening about the classroom problem. I’m having problems getting the decision makers to make all the decisions that need to be made.

The deadline was supposed to be Monday at 5 p.m. They moved it ahead two days to Wednesday, which would be doable on my end if others do what they need to do.

And that is only PART of the work craziness. There’s another work issue that kept me awake last night.

Most of the schedule entry is done, though, so now that I’ve written about it I’m going to try to put it out of my head for the weekend. I will be SO GLAD to retire from this job.

In the middle of all this, I turned sixty years old. I made us a shrimp/broccoli/feta pasta dish on Valentine’s Day and a huge pan of lasagna for my birthday that we’ve been eating for three days. Talenti gelato for dessert. That has worked out. When we get on the other side of this thing, we’ll go out to Full Moon Oyster Bar for a seafood feast.

What I really, really, really want to do is sleep through every bit of this, but I am doing my best to keep on keeping on. Now that I’ve turned sixty, insurance will cover my shingles vaccination and I plan to get that ASAP. I also know that if shit really hits the fan, and I have to be a caretaker or have a nervous breakdown or just finally give up on the logic of administrative bureaucrats and say FUCK IT, I could get 85% of my pension and still get my health insurance. I can’t afford to retire until I can add Social Security on to that, but I could attempt to find another job. At 60. In a pandemic. HAH.

I finished Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim last night and now back to the denser The Silver Swan. I highly recommend Paper Wife, especially right now when you may have monkey mind and are feeling down. It is an easy, fast read.

I should also say that I have been absolutely overwhelmed with emails, and ones that I normally read with joy are getting deleted unread, sometimes over a hundred at a time. I don’t want to unsubscribe to newsletters or unfollow my friends’ blogs but I can’t manage reading the newsletters and blogs that I normally do right now. Also, if I have promised to send you “beautiful beans” or other things, I am really sorry for the delay but I do still plan to send them before it is time to plant.

I got caught up on some household tasks this morning, including cleaning Bernie’s water bowls. One was particularly nasty because it sits on the floor of the cage and is shaped like a boat with a mirror on it. My guess is that it is supposed to be a bird bath. Someone in my dreams last night told me to make sure that the animals had water, especially Bernie. So that is done. I’m going to drink a lot more water today also, take a walk, and do some weaving.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, depression/anxiety, Reading, tapestry

Saturday afternoon coffee pot post

^^^Pablocito in his nest.

During which we need to consider what to have for lunch today, since it is already 12:45.

Things aren’t great in Laurie Land, but I am getting through it a day at a time. The main concern is Sandy – he is in a lot of pain this week and started seeing his old chiropractor on Wednesday for hip pain. He is quite upset and I empathize, having gone through the kind of pain he describes for years. There are other things going on that I won’t go into in a public post, but suffice it to say, the shit is piling up quickly.

Yesterday I came home from work with a really bad headache, which is not unusual for me to get a headache that time of day, but then I saw my full mug of coffee still sitting on the counter. If you know me at all, you know that I cannot exist without coffee. For many years I drank it all day long, until insomnia put a stop to that. I drew a cartoon poking fun at myself during my college years, in which I always had a cup of coffee or a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Anyway, I drank the coffee at 5 p.m. and therefore I read a book until 4 a.m. At least it is Saturday and I could sleep all morning, but I had just gotten my sleep schedule more on target. Next week I have so much to do that there isn’t going to be the option of sleeping all morning.

Today I am looking at ice covering the branches of the trees and the back porch steps. I hear the ice fall off the branches with little crashes as it begins to melt and let go. I could probably learn a lesson from the ice today – I just am not sure what that lesson is. Do I let go and crash? Would the breaking apart on impact be a good thing or a bad thing?

The book that I became entranced with last night is Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim. I was reading a paperback copy of The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black (aka John Banville), trying to get back to my quest of reading as many physical novels as I can before I get rid of them, especially those by Irish writers, and getting away from screen time just before bed to help me sleep. I had downloaded a copy of Paper Wife to my Kindle as part of the Prime Reading freebies, and decided to read the first chapter to see if I wanted to keep it. Next thing I knew it was 4 a.m. and I am over halfway through the book.

I also keep a copy of The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats beside my bed for heavier reading that helps me snooze after a chapter but also teaches me a few things. For example, with all the art history that I took, I had no idea of what he was referring to when he wrote about the Pre-Raphaelites. I researched it and learned that was a small art movement that included William Morris and writers, actors, dancers, and artists of the 19th century in Great Britain. Well, yeah. I’m interested.

Also, I never realized how little I knew about the history of socialism until recently. Somehow I thought that it started in earnest in the early 20th century, not mid-19th century.

Hopefully I will get some tapestry weaving done today, but there are a lot of things that need to be done in this house that I’m pretty much doing my myself now, and I probably need to do a little of the work I do to earn a paycheck, since next week will be pretty hectic. I got a little weaving during the week.

Daydreaming about Portugal, but honestly, for me Portugal is a way to get EU citizenship so that I can go to Ireland. And if I stay in Portugal, I will be closer to Ireland. I probably spend too much time noodling around the Portugal ex-pat sites and AirBNB.

Looks like I may be able to get vaccinated after March 10, and my workplace might set up a clinic for its employees. Now if we could only get Sandy an appointment. He says that by the time he fills out the form online, the appointment slot is taken and he moves to the next available, and the next, and then skips ahead, and they’re gone. This week has had other challenges, so I doubt that he has checked since Monday. I’m going to call on Monday for him. He finally agreed to calling his doctor on Monday, so maybe he can get one there. I don’t know. The other issues are actually more pressing right now.

It has reminded me of the night when I finally decided to sit down with him for a serious talk about my own health challenges and how I needed more help from him, and he was so distracted (“I think I drank too much caffeine today!”) and obviously not listening that I got angry and walked away. I had a funny feeling about an hour later that I should check on him and found him sweating and gray and in the middle of a heart attack. That was eleven years ago.

Getting older ain’t an endless picnic in the park, but I hope to get some lunch in today.