coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I’ve been dealing with headaches every freaking morning this week, and today was no exception. I’m glad today was a day off because I don’t know if I would have made it to work. Wednesday morning I stayed home sick, but the other mornings I’ve managed to push through. When I get there, I am double masked except in my office with the door shut, which is where I stay 99% of the time. Not a great way to live and work, but it’s doable. It’s pure hell on my depression, though. I’m pretty sure that the headaches are my normal seasonal allergies, although stress and anxiety and depression probably contribute a lot.

Let’s see…news from this week. Work has been busy with spring semester schedule prep and entry. Hurricane Ida brought us some breezes and spittle and only one good rain storm, of  which we actually need more. It surprise pounded the northeast after traveling overland and the flooding and death toll is shocking. We took advantage of the cooling weather and ate on the patio at Cafe Europa on Tuesday evening. I’m worried that they are not going to make it. There was hardly anybody there. On Thursday evening we went over to Oden and ate mediocre food from the food truck while listening to great jazz from the music students at UNCG in their outside beer garden. So I have been out.

Last night, though, I was so depressed that I couldn’t eat or do anything. I just can’t get up the energy or motivation for anything. I spent some time on the porch reading the local paper from the past few days, played some games on my Kindle, then laid in bed trying to go to sleep. When that failed, I picked up the book “Elantris” and began it, then wandered out to the living room where Sandy was watching the old show “Stargate.” He was shocked that I hadn’t seen the movie so we watched half of that. I have to say that the young James Spader is awfully cute in that movie.

Of course, the legal events in Texas have been awful and I don’t know any women friends who are not horrified. The young people need to step up as much as they are able – our generation is getting older and we have to pass the torch to you.  Just, please, do it masked.

Depression is not sadness, it is an illness. Depression can include a lot of emotions, but mostly for me it expresses itself as a lack of happiness or motivation or hope for the future. You don’t understand it until you’ve experienced it. “Flat” is a good description. Activities or things that normally bring you joy don’t do it for you anymore. When people suggest that you get outside and garden, or walk, or do almost anything that you used to enjoy, it is difficult to impossible to motivate yourself to do it.

The fact that I am blogging is a good thing.

Sandy has expressed an interest in learning how to tie-dye, so I hauled out my box of dyes this morning. I might be playing with dyes this weekend on the porch. It’s been a while since I used Procion dyes so I’ll need to read up a bit on it. I figure I can use up a bunch of my old clothes that I’ve hoarded for dye experimentation, although his motivation is to learn a skill that he can make money at. My impulse is to dye some papers and scraps with natural dyes, but I definitely won’t let any dyepot leftovers go to waste.

My other two goals for this weekend, which take priority, is to finish the lake tapestry, which is almost there – it’s been cut off and the warp ends mainly twisted and stitched to the back. I promised myself not to post any more photos until this is done. Sandy did a drum roll when I cut it off the loom.

The other is to clean the rails on this porch and finish painting them. There’s not much left to go on this project either.

I think that it will make me feel better to actually accomplish a couple of things that have been on my to do list for a long time.

Next weekend I’ll probably check out the North Carolina Folk Festival downtown, then drive down to Lake Waccamaw and spend a week down there visiting family and having a personal retreat. I’ll have a couple of empty small tapestry looms to play with. On the last weekend I’m there, an old friend from my childhood and young adult years is going to join me. We were roommates off and on for a while and we were maid/matrons of honor at each other’s weddings. I expect that will bring my spirits up – gosh, I hope so. This blah feeling really sucks.

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

Saturday morning coffee pot post

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^Statue on the corner of Walker and Elam Avenues, Greensboro, NC

It’s still comfortably cool on the front porch, but according to the weather forecast it will be turning to summer temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s soon. Dry, too, with some drought concerns beginning to pop up. When I was at the lake last time, the water was already pretty low.

Both of us have been in better spirits this week. Sandy is going to the Aquatic Center for water exercise classes and swimming laps, and he started the steroids on Thursday. He will be on them for a month and then the doctor switches him to something else.

I’m kind of craving a steroid shot in my wrist again since of course I have overdone it with the yard work and otherwise usually holding a book, Kindle, or phone in my hand until my Dequervain’s tendinitis in my left wrist has flared up and my carpal tunnel has flared up in my right wrist. So I’m typing this with two different kinds of wrist braces on, and will try to hold back on the gardening and weeding this weekend. However, this pain is old news to me and even though it is distressing (I had surgery on the left wrist 8 years ago) I don’t struggle with it as much mentally as I used to.

I bought some more tomato and pepper plants at Deep Roots Market on Sunday afternoon and planted them into the pots: Pink Brandywine tomatoes, hot banana peppers, and jalapenos. Then when we popped into the Bestway for a couple of things I noticed that they had a small pot of sweet basil with lots of seedlings crammed into it for $2.99. They are not particularly happy now that I’ve pulled them apart and planted them, but I didn’t really expect them to be. If I get two healthy ones out of the dozen or so that are in there, I win.

We both had massages Monday night and the therapist, who teaches it at the local community college so knows her stuff, basically said that I needed more work that one hour could handle. Ha.

Late Tuesday afternoon I saw my therapist for the first time since November, 2018, when the election results helped calm me down for a while. I told her that I was seeing her on my best day in at least two years and I couldn’t make the appointment to get help earlier because I was too depressed to do it. Such a vicious cycle, depression and agoraphobia. I really like her and was happy that I started it up again. There was also a nice surprise – my insurance doesn’t even charge a co-pay now. I don’t know how long that lasts, but yay.

Anyway, the point is that Sandy and I are both busy getting our shit together and back to living the best life possible. I have a podiatrist appointment on Monday, too, so new shoes will probably be in my future. We both need to do a bit of clothes shopping.

We are planning our summer – in two weeks we go up the road to Elkin, NC, for my Tapestry Weavers South retreat. I’ll be taking a tapestry design course from Tommye Scanlin on that Monday and Tuesday.

Speaking of Tommye, I set up a Bookshop of my own and right now I am featuring tapestry design books. I get a small commission, and a book wholesaler, Ingram, hosts the sites. It’s a way to support local bookstores and publishers online without going through Amazon. You can buy Tommye’s book “The Nature of Things: Essays by a Tapestry Weaver” or pre-order her upcoming book “Tapestry Design Basics and Beyond” there. The link is on my sidebar and also here: Slow Turn Books. I ordered “The Nature of Things” from my shop and it arrived within a week – what a lovely book! I have ordered from Boomerang Bookshop as well, and the entire Bookshop website is fun to search.  You can order from many independent bookstores there.

I will be adding more book lists as the summer goes on – probably focused on the fiber art/mixed media/collage artists who I’ve taken courses from and love the most. I’m not trying to compete with any bookstores or make any money off this – just promote the books and art that I love and have some fun. I miss my bookstore days, but I don’t miss the poverty wages.

Here’s a wildlife shot: The mighty cougar stalks his prey.

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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.

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.

Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, Rants, Reading

Sunday afternoon

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I need to put a title on each post and I seldom try to come up with something witty or appropriate to what I have written any more. What I noticed when I went through almost every one of my posts last year was that sometimes I wondered what day of the week it was when I wrote it. So instead of leaving the title blank, I usually name it with the day of the week.

Yesterday I got some stuff done. Getting anything done is significant progress. I picked up popcorn shrimp burritos from Fishbones – so delicious – and did a bit of grocery shopping at Bestway. Normally I shop at my coop, but Bestway has Smithwick’s ale and some frozen dinners that Sandy likes for when I just can’t cook or even eat. They have some organic and local foods too and it’s right beside Fishbones. I cooked a good simple dinner with marinated baked chicken, brown rice, peas and corn.

I haven’t been to the farmers’ market in ages. I just can’t make myself leave the house that early on Saturday morning. It’s very important that I have the weekends to sleep in and catch up since even melatonin and Xanax can’t get me to sleep some nights before 2 or 3 a.m. Once they start staying open after 11 a.m. I might be able to manage it.

It was cold after that storm front came through but the plants that I moved outside seemed to survive without damage. Today it will go back up to the 60s for the highs this week so I hope to stir up some enthusiasm for gardening.

Early yesterday evening, we went through the FEMA drive through vaccination clinic in the Four Seasons Mall parking lot. We found out that they were doing the Pfizer vaccine, but it would still be quicker to do that one and have to come back for the second shot than to wait for the one dose Johnson & Johnson. This has repercussions for Sandy, who most likely needs to get on immune-suppressive meds ASAP, but can’t do that until after he is fully vaccinated. He is not feeling well at all, but no side effects from the vaccine. His second shot is scheduled on April 10, so I’m not sure if we will go to the lake Easter weekend.

I spent some time weaving on “Cathedral,” so that is a very good thing. Today we will both try to pitch in and get laundry and vacuuming done. Laundry is harder than you might think since we have to catch a lot of the rinse water in buckets and dump it out side. The cat hair is at disaster level. I combed several handfuls of Diego’s undercoat fur out this morning. Pablocito doesn’t have that much.

My mood is also lifted because I am considering going alone to Ireland in September for an artist residency if my family can’t manage the trip to Portugal. I have the plane ticket from Boston to Dublin. They have waited to buy tickets until they see how things pan out. This would be at the same place where I had planned to go this past summer, on the Wild Atlantic Coast on the western edge of Ireland.

I have to be careful not to get my hopes up too high for this trip, though. The ride down that emotional hill was pretty rough last year, plus having all this worries on top of that.

I’m reading “Enduring Love” by Ian McEwan right now. A very disturbing book, and although I can’t put it down, I am ready for it to be over with. This was a freebie, and I suspect that I picked it up out of a free bin to use the cover in collage. I always try to read these books first. This is the first novel that I have read of his.

One thing I accomplished this past week was filing our 2020 taxes online. We STILL have not received our 2019 refund. I finally called our Congressperson’s office and the staff person put me in touch with the local taxpayer advocate volunteer service. However, they can’t do anything about it either until somebody puts the information in the IRS database. The staff person said that a lot of people who mailed in their returns are experiencing the same thing.

It also means that we didn’t get the last round of stimulus payments. I was able to roll that into the 2020 tax refund. Hopefully we will get the next round. I am going to use it to make some repairs to the house – mainly the front steps to make them safer. Because we live in a historic district, we have to get a certificate of appropriateness and use a special kind of brick if we go with that option.

Doing the taxes is frustrating because there is one tiny thing on our return that requires us to choose an answer to a question, and neither answer is correct. That’s why we mailed it in last year. Then this year there was that AND at the end a series of required responses about last year’s return that were not applicable. The Turbo Tax person told me to check them all and e-file it. No freaking way I am mailing that sucker in this year.

In the meantime, I read that the IRS chooses to audit a much higher percentage of lower and middle class tax returns instead of the tax returns of the rich because they are more complicated, so the rich get away with paying billions of dollars less than they are supposed to pay.

I am so disgusted with this government and the voters who can’t see how they are being abused by income inequality. They are so worried about somebody getting some government money to feed themselves or get health care who might not deserve it in their eyes, but it’s okay to cut taxes for the people and corporations who make so much money that they would not miss millions of dollars in taxes paid.

Okay, political rant over. Time to do some house cleaning and tapestry weaving.

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.

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.

agoraphobia, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety

Saturday morning coffee pot post

^^^First, birdies.

I have a collection of glass paperweights. At one time it was such a delight to search flea markets, yard sales, and antique/thrift stores for them. After a while I decided to stop collecting them because we have so many knick-knacks in our house that it is a dusting nightmare. I gave a lot of my paperweights away, but I kept the ones that had meaning to me. Here are a few birds from my windowsill in my office. The yellow one came from Florence, Italy. Sitting here at my work desk at home, I see the one that used to be in my mother’s living room for years, and the one that she bought for me when she went to Vienna. I will be giving away more paperweights before long, but those are keepers.

^^^I found this awesome blue jay feather on my walk home.

^^^I played a little with the Diana app on my phone and came up with this.

Bernie is doing okay, I think. He is chirping in there now. Sandy often plays a YouTube video with parakeets singing and squawking. He sings along. He pecks at himself in the mirror.

Today, I am going to concentrate on weaving tapestry, and a little bit of cleaning.

Now, the mental health stuff.

Another rough week. I got out my neti pot and remembered that my sinuses are always a wreck this time of year. It never used to be scary, though. I’m going to look for my humidifier in the linen closet, maybe reorganize and purge that space.

I had a panic attack at work when a well-meaning professor would NOT move away from me inside my little office. She hovered over me reading slowly from some instructions she had written down and kept losing her place and getting irritated if I clicked on something before she said to click it. After asking her to let me handle it several times (she was trying to help with a technical problem, and she is the least technically literate person that you could ever imagine), I finally yelped, “Please, I canNOT breathe in this mask!” and she moved out to the hallway, and at that point I lost the thread of the whole thing, but I know that I shut the door and she came back later and asked through the door if I had resolved it, and I basically told her yes. I hadn’t, but I had a work-around. It was not worth having someone peering over my shoulder in a small space for many minutes.

So, UGH, first panic attack in a long time, and I HATE having panic attacks at work the most. It wasn’t a major one, so I was able to get myself together and work the rest of the day, but DAMN. This does not bode well. I have way too much to do in the next two weeks.

Okay, </mental health stuff…

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

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Hello world. It is bright and shiny out here. I’ve been spending a lot of time curled up in a fetal position under my t-shirt blankie.

Yesterday I walked to work. Now I am putting on two masks for four layers. The ones that I make fit my face pretty well. The elastic goes around my head or neck, below my ears. I have very sensitive ears and there’s not enough room for my glasses and my mask on top of them.

I have to say that wearing two masks outside in winter is a comfortable thing, unless you huff and puff because of lack of exercise and get them moist. Plus I have to drink coffee from my favorite mug, the one that I bought at the sculpture museum outside of Jackson, Wyoming. Let’s not talk about my hair. It looked good the day before.

Speaking of sculpture, I liked this work of art by Nature.

Liz died yesterday. She is the white parakeet. We rescued her and her companion Bernie from a relative who was in the hospital and not really capable of taking care of any animals. We don’t know how old they are/were. They didn’t even have names – we named them. My brother-in-law said that he thought that the white one was a couple of years old when he bought the blue one to keep her company in a very small cage.

At least we gave her a roomy cage big enough to flutter about in for the last year and a half. I am really sorry for Bernie, though, because parakeets are social critters and we do not plan to get him a companion, since we were going to have to find homes for them when we move to Portugal in two and a half years anyway. Sandy plays a parakeet video for them with lots of chirping and squawking and so he played that for Bernie yesterday afternoon. Bernie was quiet most of the time but later he started chirping and singing and squawking with the video. This morning Sandy said that he was frantically looking for Liz. I hear him in there chirping now.

I am experiencing heavy empathy for Bernie right now. Lonely and confused, in a cage. I don’t like having birds in cages or fish in tanks, and I swore that I would never have a caged bird, but this was a rescue operation. We didn’t even know that he had these birds until he asked us to check on them after he’d been in the hospital for 10 days. I wish that Bernie was not so afraid of us, but I don’t see any possibility of taming him. I have been phobic of birds since I was attacked by a rooster when I was a toddler, but having these two have made me a bit less so.

Having spent most of my time working on my laptop, reading, or sleeping, I don’t really have a lot to say other than the news about Liz, but I decided to show up. Because showing up is half the battle, right?

I’m going to weave tapestry today. And maybe make a very brief grocery run. And take a walk around the block, at least. The weather is supposed to be nasty tomorrow. A nice pot of soup would be a good thing.