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.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, Reading

Saturday morning coffee pot post

What a week. It was overwhelming in so many ways. I think that is the second time I have watched an inauguration – the other was Obama’s, before I became disenchanted with the Democratic Party. I admit to shedding a few tears of relief and being touched by the poetry and song. I am optimistic about this administration. Not enough to become a partisan again, but I’m a bit more to the center than I was 12 years ago. Some of my super-lefty friends are so negative that they feel toxic. I no longer have any super-righty friends, and I don’t want any.

I don’t remember who he paraphrased, but my mentor in grad school would say that to accomplish your dreams they have to be imagined first. Maybe it was from Thoreau. He encouraged us to do projects in which our minds could fly in any direction and build new worlds. I love that philosophy, and I think it is a great starting point.

However, I am too practical for it in reality. I think that everyone needs to hear what the others are thinking and really listen in order for us to move forward. I’m not saying that the left should get all lovey-dovey with the right. Please don’t get me wrong. I’ve lost all patience with the right. We have seen that the far right has no interest in compromise even with the center right. But what I’ve seen is that the bubbles are real. People on the right believe that Trump won because they are surrounded by people who only think like them. People on the left don’t understand how Trump could have gotten so many votes because they are surrounded by people who see his evil. It takes a very strong personality to reject the culture that you live in.

Phrases like “Defund the police” and “All cops are bastards” are hurting the cause of progressives and if they can’t see why these phrases are misunderstood or twisted then they need to get a firmer grip on reality. All cops are not bastards, or bad. “Defund” the police is completely confusing. If you have to explain your catchphrase, it is not a very effective one. Nobody is going to support this in enough numbers to make any change possible. That is the left’s delusion.

Vegans: the world is not going to stop eating meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. It’s okay that you have, and I applaud you for your willpower and caring, as long as you stop harassing my farmer friends. You can get your point across and make this a better world without being assholes. I know many vegans and vegetarians who do. They are practical enough that they don’t believe that the whole world is going to change to a diet that isn’t even possible in most places, but idealistic enough that they know that their actions make a positive difference.

People on the right need to get over their distrust of mainstream news and listen to people on the left to understand that they are not baby killing anti-Christians. The rhetoric about attacking and murdering Democrats or anyone that opposes the far right is so shocking that, no, both sides are not the same. People on the right are terribly deluded if they still support Trumpism or QAnon, and that appears to be a whole lot of people. Logic is not going to sway them, and certainly phrases like “defund the police” are just going to panic them.

Considering how divided our country is, it is within reason to have leaders who are centrist. We can’t get anything done with the balance tipping far to the right or left every 4-8 years. I may not agree with all their policies, but I am mature enough to understand that doesn’t make the leaders all bad.

Some appointees so far have been great. Some, such as Vilsack for Department of Ag, terrible.

Actually, I don’t have much hope that we will move forward at all.

My thinking is still well within the philosophy of the Dark Mountain Project – that we have passed the tipping point on climate change and now is the time to make the best of what we have wrought. The world will survive, but as a place without human civilization and it will support a different variety of species, many of them genetically engineered.

Okay, enough political musings.

I only watched the inauguration from around 11:30-12:30 because it was a super busy workweek and I was watching it online through the Washington Post as I worked. Later I caught a few more highlights that I missed. It is nearly impossible for me to watch video for more than 20-30 minutes at a time anyway. I rarely watch videos. It used not to be this way. I can’t help but think that it is part of my mental health issues.

My nerves were cranked up, as a lot of people’s were. I shut down for a couple of hours twice this week. It’s good that I am at home where I can do that. With my panic disorder, good things can overwhelm me as much as bad things. Actually, little things can set me off worse than big things. They pile up.

Yesterday our department had a Zoom happy hour for the newest two assistant professors and that was fun. I miss getting together with my co-workers and friends, although I probably have adjusted better than most people because of my need for quiet solitude. I enjoy Zoom, but I don’t have to be on it all day teaching or taking classes or having work meetings. This past week I had four work Zoom meetings. I can deal with that easily.

I’m reading “The Given Day” by Dennis Lehane. It was high on my unread book stack, and I honestly didn’t think about the novel taking place during the flu pandemic of 1918. But so far, it is very good. He has a lot to work with in that time period. I assume that the Tulsa Massacre is going to be covered as well.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, Family, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

The shelf next to my “work” table. The small bone is a vertebra that I found at the lake. I think that the lovely carved wooden container is bamboo, and probably came back from the Philippines with my father.

Yesterday I started blogging some of my earliest memories and I’m going to continue to do that from time to time. I think a lot about them when I am in that world between wakefulness and sleep. Plus, there is not really too much else to write about in my personal life, and I prefer to not write about politics, although occasionally I will have to put my opinions out into the world. I don’t want anybody assuming that because I am a white Boomer from North Carolina that I am right wing. I am a leftie all the way, and I have been since high school when I began to understand what humanity is doing to our environment. I can’t say that I understood racism then, although my heart was in the right place.

My mother and father always voted opposite parties, until my father started catching on to Reagin and voted against him in his second term in 1984. He still voted for Jesse Helms, though, bless his heart, because he said Jesse was head of the Senate Ag Committee and everything was about small farms for Daddy. After Jesse was re-elected, he moved to the Foreign Affairs committee so Daddy’s reason was moot.

I am a leftie to the point that Portugal not only calls me because of its affordability, beauty, and friendly people, but because it has a democratic socialist government. I am going to do my best to get there and get EU citizenship when I retire in 2023, and Sandy seems to be committed to this as well. What is going to be the big headache is downsizing our hoard and fixing the house and yard up to get our property sold. It will sell quickly, based on what I’ve seen on this street. We invested well.

Once we get Portuguese citizenship, I hope that will be my back door to moving to Ireland, which has always been my dream, but its income requirements are beyond what we make.

I keep saying that I will get back to artwork but I just can’t seem to do it. At least I have started exercising. I joined Sandy for his “one mile express” low impact exercise video yesterday and my feet were fine last night. Hopefully my tendinitis has healed enough that I can continue to exercise and sleep without pain.

Yesterday afternoon, I retreated here again and played games on my Kindle and read news articles and my current book and cuddled with Diego.

The bed frame is from my Aunt Lib’s bedroom from the Parham house. It traveled to my parents’ house, where it became my grandmother Jones’ bed while she lived with us. It is just the right size for this room, big enough for me, the cats, and my books.

Right now I am reading “House Made of Dawn,” a slim book with beautiful prose that takes place in New Mexico. Given my renewed interest in writing, I may read Natalie Goldberg’s book on memoir writing, “Old Friend from Far Away,” next.