coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety

Sunday Sweep

Preface: this is a Sunday Sweep post, in which I am clearing out a lot of anxious and depressed and just plain neurotic thoughts, so you might want to skip this one. I will be doing a couple of more posts with photos about more cheerful subjects.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but everything is fine. Not great, because we are still wondering about the results of Sandy’s muscle biopsy, but he is able to walk and lift his feet much higher, so he is improving quite a bit. His back and neck hurts a lot, so he saw my chiropractor and will see him again. A lot of the problem is that he was so sick for so long and could not walk for more than a very short distance, so he is trying to exercise more each day and strengthen his muscles.

I am quite pissed off at the surgeon and the rheumatologist for not getting back to us with the biopsy results. He has appointments with each of them later this month, but considering that it has now been a full month, I think this is inexcusable. If it was me, I would be raising hell and I have considered doing so anyway, but I try very hard to stay out of my husband’s personal decisions about his body, just as I expect him to do for me.

Anyway, last week I spent most of the week at Lake Waccamaw with my sister. I would have posted from there, but I didn’t bring a USB cord that would connect my phone to my laptop. That will be the next post, and then a garden post.

My spirits are much better, although I still have some deep dips into depression and part of my frustration is that I don’t understand why I get so weepy. Why am I having such a hard time? My life is pretty sweet compared to most people – we live modestly but with very little debt, we are financially stable, my job is pretty awesome, and we live on a wonderful street and our city is a great place to live. I am physically healthier than I have been in some time, except for being a bit fatter and some foot pain…I am not nearly experiencing the kind of back, neck, and hip pain that drove me to get monthly massages and lose sleep at night. Working from home has been a huge improvement for my body. Now that Sandy and I are fully vaccinated, I feel a huge weight lifted and we have been going out more, although I still draw the line at eating or drinking indoors.

Thursday I received a staff excellence award from the College of Arts and Sciences, which will bring me a little extra cash to spend in Ireland. I was honored in a Zoom ceremony, but unfortunately I was so appalled at the photo that was shown of me that I don’t remember much of what was said – basically it was brief and vaguely worded. I am going to ask K to let me read some of the nomination letters to make me feel better about it.

In the past at in person ceremonies the recipients of these awards went up on stage so I figured that they would show me in person. I fretted over this, but I found my makeup, set up a background in Zoom that didn’t show my mess behind me, and I made up my face to look pretty attractive, going back and forth to the mirror repeatedly to touch it up since I was in Zoom meetings all day. Then I didn’t appear at all – it was a PowerPoint presentation, and after a couple of professional head shots of the first two recipients, somebody had pulled a photo from one of our department newsletters five years ago of me in a staff uniform after a department graduation ceremony and cropped my other two co-workers out of the photo. I was so embarrassed, then I felt embarrassed about feeling so bad about something that was a good thing, and then I washed off my makeup and I cried for an hour. I wish that the college had asked me for a photo instead of mining our website for one. I wore a uniform for a couple of literal blue collar jobs in the past and I’ve always resented when I have to wear one in what I consider to be a step up in the world for me. I guess that’s hard to understand for someone who hasn’t lived my life. Generally I am not vain about my looks at all. I rarely wear makeup and wear the same clothes for years, often clothes that I’ve bought at a thrift shop, and I couldn’t care less about fashion. Why this bothered me so badly, I can’t say. I guess that I didn’t feel respected. This is nothing new about how I feel about the administration where I work. I know for certain that my department values and respects me greatly, and they nominated me, so I have come back to that, and I feel better. Really, I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with.

Sandy tried to make me feel better by saying that the photo was not so bad (it wasn’t – it just made me look like a janitor) and then took me out for a couple of Rogue Nut Brown ales on the patio of a local rib place. Friday I worked in the office, then on Saturday, we went to the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market and I bought some plants from Weatherhand Farm, pink grapefruit soap from Mimi’s Soaps, and a couple of seasoning packets from Cornerstone Farms. It was really good to get out there. We then stopped at a big yard sale on the way home that benefited Unity in Greensboro, where we got some great deals. We got a pair of hand weights, a cat carrier (one of ours was held together with bungie cords and is now in the garbage), a couple of nice curtain rods, and an almost new Pictionary game all for less than $10. I am looking forward to playing Pictionary on the front porch.

We came home and I worked in the yard a while, then we went to a local hardware/garden supply store to buy potting soil. We walked in and Sandy forgot to pull his mask up so I reminded him. One of the employees walked out without a mask and told me that he did not have to put a mask on, and I sharply said, “Yes he does, he has an auto-immune disease.” I was really not so worried, but it annoyed me that somebody would stick his nose in our business that way. The other employees were masked and polite.

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On the way home, we stopped downtown and went to a small outdoor festival with music and food trucks and some craft vendors at South End Brewing. We got a late lunch from the trucks and found a place to sit in the shade on the patio of South End. Both of us drank a blackberry wit which was pretty good.

I potted up and planted most of the plants I bought at the farmers’ market and I was pooped for the rest of the day. That was a lot of activity in one day for me, and I need more days like this.

Sandy has been pretty snappy with me since I’ve came home on Wednesday and right now he is gone to the used bookstore and I guess to lunch with his brother. I was invited but I declined. My guess is that it is the chronic pain that is loosening his will power to behave as loving and polite as he has been, and I don’t think that he is aware of how hurtful it is, but then again, it could be that I am truly annoying instead of trying to be helpful. I can be a bit of a bossypants. I can also be quite snappy myself. I have definitely been neurotic. Anyway, I wouldn’t mind having a few days alone right now. My emotions have been swinging so widely.

Bernie and Miss Freda have been singing to each other every day and we are going to put Miss Freda in the big cage with Bernie soon. I’m beginning to think that I was wrong about Bernie being male and now I think Bernie might be Bernice or Bernadette, which would actually be good. No mating.

The weather is perfect and I am happy on the front porch right now. Once I finish blogging, I will get back to weaving the tapestry I was working on at the lake. You can see this photo in the upcoming lake blog post. I need to do some photo editing first.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Ooh yuk, the pollen is kickin’ ass in North Carolina. We just had another line of heavy storms come through so I hope that will clean the air some more today. My neighbors downhill and across the street are struggling with flooded basements. We used to have a lot of problems with that too, but sandbagging a couple of places and the swales that Justin dug into the back garden helped a lot with that. I checked on ours briefly yesterday and saw some water on the steps and a little at the bottom but otherwise the cement was dry down there. We keep a box fan and a sump pump going all the time.

I’m not going to type a long post. My hands are not up to it. Too much reading and holding the phone and computer mouse, I guess.

We haven’t gotten the results from Sandy’s muscle biopsy yet, but he is feeling better this week and can lift his feet higher without using his hands to lift his legs. He has been running errands and we walked around the block yesterday. Yesterday he got his second Pfizer vaccination. Last night he was afraid that his shingles was coming back but my bet is that it was a side effect from the vaccine or general achiness from doing too much too soon.

He has lost a lot of weight and I have gained weight and if I don’t start getting some more exercise and eating better it won’t be long before we weigh the same.

My next door neighbor is eager for us to get rid of the jet ski so I cleaned it up and he was going to get a couple of guys and move it out next to our driveway for us. I would be extremely happy to get rid of this mosquito incubator that hasn’t been used since at least 2008, when we last had a car with a trailer hitch, but now is not a good time to push us on this issue. Not only because of our health, but because Sandy’s renter in his condo gave notice, so Sandy is trying to sell it. We haven’t seen the inside yet, but from the one time I was over there, I suspect that it will be a mess. He won’t get a whole lot for this place. The tax value isn’t much but the location isn’t too bad. He has talked to someone with a real estate license who is interested in either buying it for himself to rent out or to sell it for him, and they will look at it this week. It is a seller’s market right now, so I hope that we will get this albatross off our back now that Sandy isn’t able to deal with it physically. I announced my departure from this situation about ten years ago. No more landlady Laurie.

This week I read “Lost Nation” by Jeffrey Lent. Part of the reason I didn’t post yesterday was because I couldn’t put it down. At first, I thought, ugh, this is extremely brutal and gory and I don’t think that my sensitive nature can handle it, but when the writing is this good, I can, and I did. The plot moved quickly, but I am a fan of character development, and boy, did this novel have it. The choices that they made based on their assumptions were at the crux of the plot, and sometimes those assumptions were way off. Sometimes they were more subtle. Trust was a major motivator in the plot too – trust or the lack of it. His descriptive language left me with full vision of the world he created. Books like these are why I would much rather read a book before seeing a movie based on it. I’m not sure who would do a movie based on this plot these days though – it would be a tough one to maneuver through the ugliness to deliver the watcher to the end.

Okay, my hands have had it. My spirits are better though.

bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, critters, More gardening, Reading, Wildflowers

Good Friday 2021

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^^^My favorite flowers are multiplying well.

I dislike this new WP block editing mess. I have fooled around with pressing different buttons and got the text editor bar to appear, but I’m not sure that I could find it again. It is under Options/Visual Editor/Block and I unclicked all the buttons except Classic. Now I can’t find that again. Good luck, friends, who also relied on the classic editor, that is the best hint that I can give you. I suppose that I will figure it out eventually. I switched the Tapestry Weavers South site over to WordPress because I liked the interface here, grrr. Now, at a time when I am stressed out over having to learn too many new software platforms at work, WordPress throws its hat in the stress ring. Anyway, I guess it was inevitable and I will get used to it.

Mama always planted her garden on Good Friday. I planned to plant a few lettuce and borage seeds today, nothing major, but we had a hard freeze early this morning and will have another tonight, so I’m going to wait. They will go into the containers in the front so that I can protect them from being eaten by critters.

Here are some of my favorite flowers from the front garden: bloodroot, grape hyacinth, and dandelion. There are lots of Lenten roses also, but I am not so fond of them anymore. They reseed like crazy and I think that I’m going to have to dig up a lot of them.

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The groundhog is definitely back and I haven’t seen Robbie Rabbit lately. I would not be surprised if Robbie became dinner for a fox family, since there have been many red fox sightings in the neighborhood. Robbie was never very careful.

Sandy had his muscle biopsy yesterday and he is sleeping right now. I imagine by now the numbing medication that the surgeon put into the incision has worn off and I haven’t spoken to him yet this morning. He has a two inch incision that they closed with waterproof super glue! We are amused that his surgeon’s name is Dr. Martin. I hope that we get some answers from this and that it is not super expensive, since there was anesthesia involved. Sandy was in fine spirits yesterday, very alert on leaving the hospital, and focused on eating, as usual. He is taking some good pain meds, but he doesn’t like to take meds. I mean, if this condition turns out to be toxicity from taking statins for years, who could blame him. However, he is still convinced that it is all due to his shingles. I am anxious to get the results of the biopsy.

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^^^I want this shrub. It was blooming at the hospital.

A big front came through and blew a lot of the cherry blossoms into drifts. Last weekend, with the help of our neighbors, we got the Honda Fit battery charged up and running. I am going to clean the inside soon and see if I can get the musty smell out of the carpet with enzyme shampoo.

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See that brick wall? That is where I plant my lettuce. The old bird cage keeps the birds and squirrels out. When we get the steps rebuilt, I guess that will need to be rebuilt as well. It certainly needs a good cleaning and paint job, but I will wait. You can see how close the houses are in this neighborhood. My neighbor is back from Tanzania and his wife and son will be back from Thailand very soon. They are good neighbors and it is fun to watch his son play.

In the meantime, we received our 2020 tax refund and it included the $600 stimulus for both of us. We are still waiting for the big 2019 tax refund and the latest stimulus checks. I went ahead and booked the rest of my flight and saw that I could get a decent deal on the same flights for Sandy, and then went ahead and bought him tickets too.

I think that I’ll save this chat about the trip to Ireland for a separate post. It’s exciting.

Reading: “Holy Fools” by Joanne Harris. So far I am intrigued by it.

agoraphobia, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, old couple, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Well, this week could have gone better, but I’ll take it. I stood up for myself concerning a particularly awful process I was expected to use at work that was inaccurate and basically unusable, and I feel like I was heard at least one step up the pecking order. Then I concentrated on what I could do. I got a lot done.

The weather is absolutely lovely and we spent a lot of time on the front porch yesterday evening. I cleaned out most of the junk in the Honda in preparation to clean the inside and shampoo the carpets. I took out at least 20 books. I also did some front garden clean up – pulled the “weeds” that the bees no longer need but left the dandelions, which I love. My favorite flowers are in bloom right now, and the yoshina cherry trees are bursting with light pink flowers. The peppermint that I shouldn’t have planted is spreading through the fieldstone path across to the other section of the garden, but it smells so good that I don’t mind (now). I planted it in several places in the hope that it would deter both mosquitoes and groundhogs.

Reading: Almost finished with “Good Harbor” by Anita Diamant, which I have mixed feelings about. At first I thought that I could relate to the characters, but instead I have found it pretty depressing. I liked her other novels much better, especially “The Last Days of Dogtown,” which was a recent read. Part of my problem with novels about women who struggle with children or fertility is that I feel no connection to motherhood. I have never felt the urge. The other character is having serious mental health issues revolving around cancer and death, maybe not the best reading choice for me right now. I’ll finish it, because I don’t have much farther to go and it is a short book.

It seems like I’m breaking out of the agoraphobic tendencies, although I am typing this in my bedroom, where I spend way too much time. On Thursday morning I drove Sandy to what we thought was going to be his muscle biopsy under local anesthesia at an outpatient surgical center in Burlington. Instead, it was a consultation with the surgeon and pretty much a waste of time other than him telling us that the biopsy would be done under real anesthesia in Greensboro, maybe at Wesley Long Hospital. He didn’t have Sandy’s lab work or records, and he was quizzing him to see if he really needed the biopsy. Once I told him about Sandy’s CK test results, those kind of questions stopped and he moved on.

It was frustrating, not only because we expected this to be behind us by now, but that the communication has been so bad. These days I know to be wary of any anesthesia that puts you all the way under – it can trip an older person into dementia and Sandy had a difficult time maintaining his oxygen levels under anesthesia during his oral surgery a couple of years ago. It definitely has cognitive effects. And the surgeon was not encouraging about it being scheduled right away, although he said that he was on duty at Wesley Long next week and would try to get it on his schedule.

This biopsy really has to be done soon. Sandy dreads it so much that I worry that he is going to back out. Yesterday he was feeling much better and started working on getting the Honda battery charged and the car aired out. He brought me lunch at work. I am very happy that he feels better and is trying to do more. However, he has a denial problem and I have my hands full trying to stop him from health self-destruction since he wants so badly to believe that all he needs to do is get back into shape. This has been the case for years, not just with this issue. I do not want to play the role of his mother or nurse and I want to treat his medical decisions with respect, but I also don’t want to be a widow in my early 60s. I love him and I want to grow old with him. He will be absolutely miserable if he doesn’t get better. His family history is full of disability, including his father who was quadriplegic and his brother and mother who had strokes affecting their ability to move. He also has a serious aversion to asking for the simplest help.

Anyway, the good aspect of this trip was that I drove to Burlington to an unknown location in heavy traffic and even drove around the area a bit without any anxiety or panic. So I haven’t descended into that agoraphobia hole. I feel better, knowing that.

And I feel better that I am officially fully vaccinated, having passed the two week mark yesterday. I haven’t heard from Lora about the residency in Ireland yet, but considering the problems that the EU is having with a third wave and getting the vaccinations out, it looks more and more unlikely. If I can’t go to Europe this year, we will pick a national park to visit. I wouldn’t mind a train trip, or going to Maine to Acadia NP. I’ve never been farther north than Connecticut.

We got a small tax refund back from the state but not either federal tax refund yet. That will be welcome money that we will probably use to hire local people to work on our house. I also try to donate to a lot of individual causes and charities that I see people advocate on Facebook. We are very lucky, despite what we are dealing with at the present time.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles

Saturday morning coffee pot post: Vaccination Day

Sandy gets vaccinated with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine tonight! Since we are not really vaccinated until both of us are vaccinated, I call this a holiday. I never had the side effects that some had, and I hope that Sandy’s currently overactive immune system will not cause him grief from this shot.

So, two weeks from now is Easter weekend, which we usually spend at Lake Waccamaw with my sister and brother-in-law, the only close family that either of us have now. I hope that we will be able to make the trip down there. They have always been precious to both of us, but that feeling has grown with their absence from our lives. It’s like my sister and I are each other’s mother now.

We have other family that we love dearly, but three of them are far away across the country. One of them I have never met – Sandy’s niece, Lena. We have an online relationship that is good. My niece Brooke is in Chapel Hill and is currently working hard to get her life back on track, and we have always been close. My nephew in North Carolina seems to have distanced himself from our side of his family, which, to be honest, I can hardly blame him. We found out through his brother’s post on Facebook that he got married. It hurts because I often have said that if I could have a son, I would want him to be just like my nephew. I love him very much too, although I never got to know him in the depth that I wanted. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I even offered to buy him a plane ticket to travel with us several years ago when we went to Oregon. Anyway, it has taken me several months of grief but I have come to accept it. I can’t do anything about it, so…I am taking this very big hint and letting him go.

I can understand wanting to divorce your family in certain circumstances. I was lucky to be raised by my parents, who, although they definitely had their problems, were so far and away more normal than my husband’s family. Last weekend we visited with friends outside and he started telling some stories from his childhood and teenage years that reminded me just how appalling his home life was. Then he talked about how that when he met my family, he felt so lucky to be able to become a part of it. It made me much more appreciative of what I had growing up. My husband and his brother were abused and neglected.

One story he told, which I don’t think that I’d ever heard before, was that when he was a teenager, his stepfather stole his mother’s car and ran off to Florida. The police wouldn’t help her, even though it was in her name. So they flew to Florida, she distracted him while Sandy hot-wired the car, and then they stole her car back.

Is that badass or what?

It also is a good example of the hurdles women faced in the 60s. Women still had very few rights when it came to employment, money, credit, and possessions. She was a social worker with a graduate degree. I think that Sandy’s experience growing up informed much of his feminism. He got to see firsthand the damage that misogyny and poverty creates.

Whew, I didn’t expect to go off in that direction.

Sandy finally got an appointment for the muscle biopsy. We will be heading to Burlington this coming Thursday morning, since that was the earliest appointment we could get. Both of us will be relieved to get a firm diagnosis so that he can begin getting treatment. He is very, very frustrated at his condition and talks a lot about going back to either the Y or the aquatic center to begin swimming again.

We both need haircuts in the worst way. Sandy started cutting his hair at the front and now he has an old man mullet. He says that he is going to shave his beard and mustache. Mine is long and getting very gray and falling out a lot. Between that and the cats everything in the house is covered in hair. When I find long silver strands, there is little doubt that I am the culprit.

We had a couple of small tornadoes in our county on Thursday night. It is not unusual for North Carolina to get winter and spring tornadoes, but it is always scary to get that tornado warning. Sandy barely looked away from his computer screen while I was piling up pillows in the center of the house away from the windows. He is never concerned about the weather. I focus on it a lot – I guess partly because of being a farmer’s daughter and we were expected to tell my father the weather report when he got home. Pre-internet and cable/satellite TV, you had to rely on local TV and radio stations, and we didn’t have many. When you grow up in a farming family, and you are a gardener, the weather forecast is very important.

Speaking of, the next post will have PHOTOS!

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters

Saturday morning coffee pot post

It has been a real roller coaster week.

Last Sunday, Porfirio and his work partner began clearing out the back yard of the wood chunks and the vines invading from everywhere. They took down small trees that had popped up and were covered in English ivy and grapevines and wisteria. The vines were crawling over the roof of the building in the back. They worked their way around the border of the lot without needing reminders of what to do or asking a lot of unnecessary questions or proposing to do something else rather than the task I had laid out for them. Only cost me $400 and Porforio is going to do the maintenance on the back and side yards.

I cannot tell you how much this relieves me. And because Porfirio has worked for my friends for years, I know that he is really this great and it is not going to change on a whim.

Workwise, it was, and has been, very stressful because of egregious communication and decision making at higher levels. At one point I took off my headphones during a Zoom “training” meeting and stormed into another room and vented about the person leading to meeting to Sandy. I came back and noticed that I had not muted myself, and then I hit mute (my video was already off) and cried like a baby. I had such a panic attack that I didn’t get much of the rest of the meeting, but the little that got through was obviously not useful. Anyway, I doubt that anybody heard me, and like a co-worker told me, if they did, they probably all agreed with me.

I constantly try to remind myself of how great my job is, but meetings like that are so incredibly frustrating that I can’t wait to retire. I just wonder sometimes if I am going to last another two years before I either get fired for going off on someone or get carried away in a straitjacket.

Sandy’s rheumatologist appointment was on Thursday afternoon. We like the doctor very much – I had to participate by speaker phone, though. He looked at Sandy’s lab work, did some more tests and a chest x-ray, and is going to arrange for Sandy to have a muscle biopsy, which has to be done by a surgeon in the outpatient surgery center. He is pretty sure of a diagnosis but the muscle biopsy will confirm if Sandy has polymyositis. It can be treated but it is a chronic disease. He said that Sandy needs to get vaccinated ASAP because the treatment will include immune system suppressing medications, since polymyositis is an auto-immune disease.

So even though this isn’t exactly good news, at least we have a plan moving forward and that is somewhat of a relief.

You can feel the hope rising in the air as more people are getting vaccinated. Of course we will still have to do all the pandemic things until most of us are there, since the vaccinated can get catch and transmit the virus, but we’ll no longer have to worry about getting so sick that we will have to be hospitalized or die.

I was vaccinated with the one dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine yesterday afternoon. So far I have a bit of a headache, but I normally have a headache this time of year anyway. My arm is only a tad sore, which is a bit surprising since that guy jabbed me hard and seemed to wiggle it a bit. I jumped and yelped a little and only gasped once. It’s important for me to keep my breathing steady because I get vasovagal syncope and I hate fainting in public much worse that I hate needles. Because of that I had to sit for thirty minutes afterwards, but I was fine. The shingles shot was much, much worse, and I still have the second shot of that to look forward to in late April.

Sandy tried to get a vaccination appointment all day yesterday, even driving to the Coliseum to talk to the people out there about what to do. He was not successful, but last night as I was going through my email, there was an article from WFDD (our local public radio station) about how to get an appointment, and I followed a link and HALLELUJAH, Sandy now has an appointment next Saturday evening for the one dose J&J in the drive through FEMA clinic that is being set up next week in Greensboro.

The weather was beautiful this week and we have enjoyed being out on the front porch. Today is the beginning of cooler weather, and we may go to a friend’s house and sit on their back deck for brunch.

Yesterday, this guy sat on a neighbor’s fence for most of the afternoon. I think that it is a juvenile red shouldered hawk. I just hope that he doesn’t kill my favorite bunny who hangs out between our house and the house next door.

I hope to be able to go to the lake for Easter weekend and hug my sister and brother-in-law.

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.