coffee pot posts, Reading

A cool Sunday in the front room

20210530_124641Our house is 99 years old this year.

Sandy has rearranged the front “living” room, which is a long narrow room stretching across the whole front of the house. In other Craftsman bungalows this room is divided into two small rooms. It’s always been hard to decide how to arrange this room, with the wood stove on one side and the cable connections on the other. It is 11 feet wide on this end and about 13 feet wide on the fireplace side, and I’m guessing about 30 feet long. There used to be French doors leading into the “dining room.” We have usually tended to divide it up like two spaces. For a while I put room dividers of books and art supplies and made this part my studio, but it was always too dark and crowded. I like it right now – cozy with the big sofa and big chair, art books beside me, ottoman to put my feet up, cat tree between the sofa and chair, soft lighting. My mother’s little reading floor lamp is in the corner, with a watercolor paper shade that she punched and snipped a design into. Yes, the plaster needs repair!

And that front door – oof. One day.

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When we first moved in here, we were so used to living in a tiny space and so intimidated about what to do with this room that we left it empty for months.

Anyway, I am happy about the change and I suspect it will get me out of the bedroom more often, although I prefer it without the TV on.

One thing that I regret is that there are no photos of any rooms from my childhood home other than the living room, where we seldom spent any time, or a few dining room shots that only show the counter with food on it. So I’m trying to resolve that with this home. One thing that I love about the digital age is that you can take lots of photos and not worrying about the expense of wasting film!

I figure that if we ever get around to remodeling the bedrooms and Sandy’s man cave, and boy, do they need it, we can sleep in this spot. The floor and ceiling and sliding closet doors and walls need to be redone in the small bedroom where I sleep. The old ceiling tiles in there are stained and bulging from old roof leaks and the wallpaper is the only thing holding the cracked plaster in the walls together. The sliding closet doors are metal and difficult and noisy to open and close. The whole house tilts to the south. We did fix the foundation years ago, at least.

When we go into our neighbors’ houses, it is always interesting to see how they have dealt with this similar layout. Most of them knocked out the wall that made this room two rooms. One has a tiny foyer because they put in stairs and built a second story.

These things will have to wait, but luckily I am not the sort who has to have everything just right. However, I did always think that I would have these repairs done long before now, and we can’t just let the house fall apart. We have spent a lot of money on this house on the more basic stuff – electrical repair, new HVAC system, roof, new chimneys. I admit that the solar panels were a bit over the top – they will never pay themselves off, probably, because Duke Energy is going to keep raising their fee to connect them to the net metering system unless politicians have the will to stop them. (The unfairness of this kept me awake a couple of nights this week, until I convinced myself not to worry about something that I have no control over.) I do like that I am producing renewable energy on my rooftop. I probably should have spent the money on something else, though, in hindsight. I never regret spending money on travel.

I have been reading a book that surprised me – The Master, by Colm Toibin, a fictional biography of the author Henry James. I picked it up a couple of times and gave up after the first chapter. I was disappointed because I had picked it because I am focused on Irish writers and this was not about Ireland. Once I managed to get into it, though, I was entranced with the complexity of the characters and I felt as though I had met a twin soul, as far as his introversion and inner turmoil. In particular, the women caught my heart. It made realize that I had never read Henry James, or seen the movies based on his books. So I downloaded “The Portrait of a Lady” and I am watching it on Amazon Prime right now.

I took my last prednisolone this morning and I am looking forward to Sandy being off of his steroid doses, as his are much stronger and more frequent that mine were. It suppresses your immune system so it has made me more anxious about catching a variant of Covid-19. My heel is somewhat better but I haven’t really put it to the test yet. I will be on meloxicam for another three weeks, so I stopped drinking. I haven’t forgotten what strong anti-inflammatories did to my gut years ago. The fridge has lots of good ales in it, and I haven’t touched one in a week. It is very tempting, but I will try to save them to take to the lake in a couple of weeks.

Now there is beef stew in the crock pot. A few carrot tops that had sprouted were planted in one of the containers at the front. I haven’t done this before so we will see if they take root or if they become snacks for the squirrels. I hear our neighbor across the street playing cornhole with his grandkids. We are about to go out and do some shopping (with our masks on) and later if the light and temperature is good on the porch, I’ll weave a little bit on the lake tapestry. That will be for tomorrow’s post.

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, 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.

20210401_074241

^^^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.

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.

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.

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.