Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Flashes...


A small house ... a darker interior, with paneled walls maybe ... a record collection ... being punished because I was a bad little girl ... hiding in the back yard waiting to go home.

I started to tell my sister about this last ever visit to a relative's house.  Flashes, really.  She asked me why I was being punished and I couldn't answer.  She asked me how I was being punished and I started shaking uncontrollably.  I still couldn't answer.  I just know those few things I told her.

I wish I could remember the vast swaths of my childhood that are blank to me ... the vast swaths of my adulthood that are blank to me ... but I am not focused so much on remembering as I am learning to handle emotions after disassociating so much.

I also wish I didn't believe that I must have been such a very bad little girl.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Gardening and fountaining...


Gosh, what happened to Saturday and Sunday?  I cannot even say.  I mean, I can post what I had to eat for one meal each day, because I have been spending time out in my haven.  However, aside from those photos, I am not sure how the days passed.

I did, a few days ago, successfully replace the burnt out bulb beneath my microwave.  I am surprised by just how much brighter the stove top is now.  It makes me think that the bulb has been out the entire time I have owned the microwave.  I was proud of myself.  Perhaps a tad bit too proud.

What happens at such times?

The light inside my microwave went out!  I am working up to Googling how you go about replacing one of those.  Already, I am wondering how you get a screwdriver inside a microwave.  I really do not want to pay an electrician to replace the light.

Man!  I've had so much break lately.  Well, if you go back to the practically new refrigerator (which needs a warranty service call because it is making terrible noises when the water is moving around inside), I've had the refrigerator, the stove light, the sleep mate, the bedroom ceiling fan, and printer, and now the interior light on the microwave.  I'm not counting the light beneath the microwave, because I really do think it never worked.

I'm ready for a break in the cost of home ownership.

Meanwhile, about those meals...




Today, I had another melt.  I've been working on perfecting my melt making skills.  This one was a Southwest Chipotle Chicken Bacon melt.  It didn't last long.  In case you were wondering, the best melting cheese to use on a melt (that I have tried thus far) has been gruyere.  I prefer using a combination of two cheeses in all my melts.  White cheddar cheese pairs well with gruyere.




Somehow, I had forgotten how to make chicken enchiladas!   What a thing to forget!!  I finally tracked down the ratio of enchilada sauce and evaporated milk.  I told myself I was going to wait until the 27th to get the ingredients, but with all the "breakage" spending that I have been doing, I gave up on budgeting and went grocery shopping.  Of course, I forgot about half the stuff I've been waiting to buy, but I did get what I needed.  Mmmm!




I did remember something I did this weekend, just looking at this!!  I planted my raised bed goodies:  thyme, cucumber, lettuce, and carrots.  I haven't been able to track down sage.  With more gardening space, I chose tomatoes and broccoli as what I plan to branch out in my growing endeavors.  I loathe tomatoes, but I would like to learn to make sauce from scratch.  My dear friend Becky advised for me to plant roma tomatoes.

Anyway, last summer, with my bountiful crop of cucumbers, I started making lettuce-less salads.  This is my new favorite:  pulled poached chicken, cucumber, goat milk cheese, dried cranberries, and maple chili sunflower seeds, with Briana's Blush Wine Vinaigrette.  I've had this salad a bite frequently of late.




This was chicken in Thai honey peanut sauce over Basmati rice.  Mmmmm!

Anyway, not to bore you with a million and one meal photos, but I have enjoyed eating out in my haven immensely.  In a way, I have tried to think of it as my own little cafĂ©.  By taking time to have a bit of presentation to my meals, I have been cheered ... thinking less about being ill.  At least whilst I am out there.

Truly, my hopes for the haven have been exceeded beyond my wildest dreams.  It is far prettier than I thought (the panels) and the tumbled stone pavers.  It is even more private than I hoped it would be.  And it is already cooler than I imagined.  By that I mean that I was outside whilst it was 74 degrees and yet I was comfortable eating in the shade.




I hadn't thought about a future haven when I moved my beleaguered variegated maple tree other than to make sure it wouldn't be in the way of any future fencing.  It turns out that the tree anchors the space beautifully.  I need to take a better photo, one further back, to emphasize its perfection.  You can see, though, that it is leafing out.  My fingers are crossed for that poor tree.

You can also see that I opted for a stacked pot fountain.  Firewood Man said it would be mid May before he can finishing the wiring.  It's driving me nuts, but I am trying to be patient.  I thought I got all that I needed, but I realized that I need to get a different plug cover, some river rock for the top, and more tubing to run from the pump that will be at the bottom of the fountain and the top.  I thought I had enough from eons ago when I got my first fountain, but I don't.  Oh, how I cannot wait to get the water running!

It is my hope that the frame for the tulip window might be done soon.  I'm trying to find that perfect balance between reminding Tim and not annoying him.  He does tend to forget things.  He is, however, crazy busy right now.

Oh, yeah, look carefully beneath a chair and you can see that I finished my footrest!  It sure makes it easier on me when Amos hops up in my lap when I am streaming out there.  He's partial to cheesy sci-fi, too!

There, I did remember via the photos.  I gardened and fountained since last Friday.  And ate tasty food....

Friday, April 21, 2017

Back to back...


Thursday was my next appointment with the rheumatologist.  Even though I know better, I went over my blood work and noted two things of interest:  results showing kidney damage and muscle damage.    I want my blood test results to be normal.  SIGH.

To be honest, I have avoided learning much about Sjogren's Syndrome.  This whole new turn in my medical journey has not been one that I have handled with any amount of grace.  I have, however, not actually, technically had a hissy fit over it.  I've been to busy trying to deal with living with Sjogren's whilst being overwhelmed.

Seeing the blood work, though, made me realize it was past time that I start reading.  But I wanted a gentle start.  I went looking on Facebook for a support group and found many strident ones that sounded a lot like that first dysautonomia one.  Then I stumbled across this Sjogren's "sisters" group and I got my "gentle" introduction.

I will say that the one truly disturbing discovery was how many of them had dentures!  The little I read about how a dry mouth can cause tooth decay came crashing home.  The rheumatologist had told me, on my first visit, that I needed to switch to a baking soda toothpaste.  No problem! I thought.  I've  been using Arm & Hammer baking soda and peroxide toothpaste for years and years.  My family (and other visitors) have complained when asking to borrow my toothpaste because it tastes rather terrible.  Hah!  "Terrible" has at least kept my teeth safe thus far.  However, I learned I also should be seeing a dentist once a quarter.  I haven't gone since I moved here.  I am not sure how to swing that change.

I read several posts on how Sjogren's affects the kidneys by folk who were experiencing that, so I learned a few questions I should be asking.

When I saw the blood work, I immediately thought of the Celebrex.  I remain worried that I will be taken off the only pain medication that has ever helped my arthritis.  And I was rightly so because my doctor brought that up.  But she ultimately said that discussion would lie with a specialist if warranted.  She wants to repeat the blood work on my kidneys in six weeks to make sure this was not a blip.  If it remains poor, then she would like my GP to follow up and manage that problem, coordinating with a specialist.  That sounded reasonable and fair.

We talked about my eyes quite a bit and she walked me through two successive next steps if the Restasis does not start working.  I liked knowing what could be coming.  She was adamant, though, in her admonishment that I not miss the scheduled drops that I am on now ... both the Restasis and the three other drops.  She said not to let two hours slide into three.  Be vigilant!  SIGH.

We talked about the Reynaud's in my hands and feet, with my expressing my frustration with how hard it is to keep the latter warm.  She suggested I consider hunting gear for my feet and hands as that might provide a better opportunity for success.  I, uhm, don't know any hunting stores!

I did the best I ever have with the physical exam, and I've only met her twice.  So, I am deeply thankful for that.  She also was rather encouraging to me because she observed that it must be hard handling my illnesses and a pacemaker!  She's the first doctor who showed an understanding that having a pacemaker might be a difficult adjustment ... one that might be long in coming.

It was a good visit.

Today, I had my pacemaker check appointment.  I think the best way to explain how that went was to say that the tech wore GREEN just for me!  A really good moment came when, after explaining that Georgie was just not helping me whilst walking, riding the recumbent bike, or standing whilst cooking, the movement sensor screen that she checked showed that the highest the sensor had raised my heart was 60 beats per minutes (BPM).  HAH!  Data backed me up!!  Good times, man!

I do not do well when I have to have leads attached to me (being exposed), and I most decidedly do not do well with the pacemaker check tests.  I start to panic when my heart is forced to beat faster and really lose it when the ventricular chambers are tested.  The tech, knowing this, very deliberately asked me thinking sort of questions just as I started to feel the testing.  The distraction made this testing session go better than any of the others.

The CLS setting is based on my own heart, because it involves learning algorithms for all the settings based on how my heart responds thereafter.  So, the changes we made will take a while to evidence whether or not they are of benefit to me.  I see the cardiologist in six weeks and he can make tweaks or I can go back into the pacemaker clinic.  This main setting is best for folk who faint.  However, it makes adjusting the settings for movement difficult.  I need to be patient.

Beforehand, I asked for prayer on Facebook, because today marks 44 days without a meltdown and, because of the magnitude of my last meltdown, 44 days since I cut.  I was so fearful of how I would respond to the shame I feel when being hooked up with the cardiac monitoring leads that I vomited as I was getting ready.

As a reminder, the ophthalmologist, upon seeing me so agitated, suggested that I bring headphones and listen to music during my medical appointments.  I took her advice and added music to my arsenal that now includes a weighted blanket, a diffuser necklace pendent, a squishy ball, a frog ring, a photo of Amos, and music.  She suggested Bach, which was the same suggestion for trying to use music in pain management.  I do not yet have any Bach, but I brought the soundtrack to my beloved movie "The Martian," a gift from my dear friend Mary.  So, I had a great orchestral score and a reminder of her love and affection.  I kept one earbud in during the entire appointment so that I could hear the music as I struggled to get through the difficult moments.

Gosh, there goes Georgie!
Should I mention how often she goes off whilst I blog??

Back-to-back medical appointments are very difficult for me, draining both physically and mentally.  This is especially so whilst I am so very overwhelmed with all that has changed in my life since last fall.  However, I really could not asked for better appointments.  I mean, they could have been even better, but they were most definitely better than I could ever have imagined at this point.

Two days. Two appointments.
Doctors who listened and who showed compassion.
Fairly good communicating on my part.  Great communicating on their part..
Plans for next steps to help assuage my angst.
No meltdowns.

My next appointment is on the 3rd, though Amos has his on the 2nd.  Tuesday, the 25th, I am getting up early to ferry my realtor to her very first colonoscopy.  I hope to be able to sleep in my car whilst she is being tortured, but I might have to stay awake inside because the clinic where she's going is pretty adamant (thus far) about a patient's ride being on hand at all times.  The 26th Electrician Man is coming to service my HVAC system and hang the replacement fan for my bedroom.  And, soon, I'll be calling Whirlpool because my new refrigerator is making funny noise.  SIGH.

All I want to do is rest after yesterday and today, but I have several things on tap in the coming weeks.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Another broken thing...


This morning, I wanted to claw my eyes out of my head, the pain was so terrible.  I keep thinking, "How did I get here so quickly?"  SIGH.

There are so very many obstacles to sleep and it just stinks to have yet another one.  No matter how hard I try, at times, the burning, stinging, scratchy orbs of mine cannot be ignored.  This morning, I actually screamed:  "I JUST WANT TO SLEEP!"  Poor Amos when flying off the bed.  At least my Fluffernutter is forgiving.

As I have said, this new battle with my eyes makes me feel inordinately lonely.

I didn't fall asleep until around noon, which meant I have had very little sleep.  For someone who already battles exhaustion, this problem has been especially draining.  I sort of ambled my way through the late afternoon like a zombie, but I did eat out in my haven.  I had heated up my 15-bean soup and a sweet cornbread muffin, but the soup was still cold.  I was too tired to walk back to house to warm it again, so I made do.

Whilst sitting out there, I checked the most awesome weather app that Firewood Man introduced me to a few weeks ago.  It was 74 degrees outside.  My theory was correct ... at least for today.  Out in my haven, I was in the shade, so the heat was not bothering me.  I found that rather hopeful for my continued use of my haven as the weather warms.  You see, I've been sitting out there as much as possible because I worry that I will have to wait until the fall to enjoy it again.

Once the sun drops low enough, the weather begins to cool significantly. All winter I have noticed this in a way I never have before.  It is as if that giant orb in the sky is directly heating the air around me and the lack of its presence is keenly felt.

I watched "The Voice" whilst waiting on that sun to drop.  My wi-fi signal is not all that strong outside. I do find it interesting that it is easier to stream Netflix than it is Hulu.  I suppose I should have chosen a show or a movie, but I wanted music.

Tonight, cooling off was especially helpful for me.  You see, I had some more gardening to do.  I hooked up the back yard hose (a job which I fervently wish someone else would do) and pulled it out so that I could water the raised bed.  I had some concerns that the hose wouldn't reach to my new bed, but it did, rather easily I will add.  I watered that soil mix and stirred it up a bit before smoothing things out.  Then I planted lettuce and carrots.  Last year, I stunk at growing carrots, but I thought I would try again.  In that smaller bed, I plan to grow lettuce and carrots until the lettuce turns bitter and my herbs all summer long.  Once the lettuce is bad, I thought I might try eggplant.  You know, just to see.  It could have most of the bed because I plan to grow rosemary in a pot (crossing my fingers on that one) and the sage and thyme in the bed.  Those herbs would only need about 1/3 of the bed.  The rest could go toward a new vegetable experiment.

In my original long bed, I planted cucumbers on both ends and in the middle.  The idea is to use the chain link fence like I did last year when the cucumbers were growing in the pot.  Only the pot had to be watered several times a day. I am hoping the raised bed will mean the cucumbers need less water ... or the bed will hold more water than the pot.

So, what to do with the rest of it if my herbs are elsewhere?  Well, I bought tomato plants and broccoli.  I adore roasted broccoli, so I thought that would be an interested challenge, even though I heard growing broccoli can be a hard row to hoe.  I DETEST tomatoes, but I do use tomato sauce and would like to make my own.  My dear friend Becky suggested I plant roma tomatoes, so I got a six pack of those plants.

It is early to plant plants here, but we've had unseasonably warm weather since February.  And, at Menard's, there were very few growing plants left ... absolutely no rosemary, thyme, sage, or cucumbers.  I am hoping to get cucumber plants, but I thought I would try the seeds since no plants were available.  The gardening staff at Menard's said that the cucumber plants sold out in two days. After enjoying those tasty treats last summer, I certainly understand the greedy response to a load of cucumber plants.

Since I had bought the tomato and broccoli plants, I wanted to get them into the raised bed.  I wasn't feeling pressed on the seeds, but I went ahead and took care of them, too.  Now, though, I think I should change how the carrots are sowed.  ["Sowed" or "sown"?  I just got myself into a cognitive pickle trying to figure out the proper conjugation for that sentence.]  I am not sure that is possible.  I'm crossing my fingers that some of my friend's dill comes up again this year.  Last year, I harvested all re-seeded dill.  I am not sure I will get that again this year.

I watered everything in and rolled up the hose.  Then I went and laid in the grass in front of my haven to try and recover.  Amos took his perch up on the stone bench and kept watch over me.  In return, as thanks for his good care, I dragged myself on a walk with him.  Then I spent the rest of the evening trying to work up to take a shower.  I am not sure I am going to get there, but I will at least clean myself up with wet washcloths.

Tomorrow is the third A&E appointment, as warranty service for GE.  This will be the SIXTH appointment I have actually had, the first three being three other companies who never showed up.  I asked, last Friday, when I was stood up a second time by the same employee of A&E, for a new technician, a senior technician.  I will not be holding my breath over this.

The really bummer part of my day is that my printer died.  Yesterday, my bedroom ceiling fan died.  That was 19 years old and I shouldn't be grousing over it, but now is not the time to have unexpected expenses.  Only, well, should I have expected it??  My printer, an HP laser printer, is 12 years old.  Should I have expected that demise, too?  I REALLY need to print some test results for a doctor appointment on Thursday, but there is nothing I can do about that.

I've wanted a new printer for two years, so I have two options in my Amazon cart, because I have wanted color to help organize my life more and to make homemade cards (since I am not a crafty sort of person).  I am still, when faced with the actual need for a printer, not sure which one I want.  One is a printer and one is a printer with a scanner and copier.  I very much dislike having to go over to Staples for copies, so I'm leaning toward the all-in-one.  However, I have only ever owned and used plain printers.  I guess I am nervous about it.  It is an HP though.  I've only ever owned HPs.  Just like I've only ever owned Toyotas.

You know, my first car lasted 10 years, my next lasted 11, and my current vehicle is 13 years old.  My first printer lasted 10 years and my second lasted 12 years.  That's not necessarily a bad track record, eh?  But being a good shopper and a good keeper of my goods doesn't ease the burden of having these replacements crowd upon me.

I mean, I am still paying for the mattress and I am paying for the stove (since selling mine let me buy my eye glasses and upgrade to gas).  I can manage those things.  But I am still reeling from having to replace my 5-year-old refrigerator last November.  And, as I have said, I have beggared myself through 2018 for my haven (since my four years of saving fell woefully short) and for my 50th birthday celebrating that I am currently doing.  So, the fan was a punch to the financial stomach.  The printer?  I think that might be a knock-out blow.

Should I mentioned my new refrigerator is making a rattling noise?
I'm not calling Whirlpool until I get GE to take care of my new stove.
SIGH.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sticks and stones...


Today was a tad rough on me.  For one, I was felled by dizziness whilst the maids my mother sends each month were here.  I ended up sleeping on one of the sofas almost the whole time they were here.  It is the first time I gave into feeling poorly during one of their visits, the first time I didn't try to pretend to be better than I was.

As it was, I was exhausted when they arrived, for the day's bout of nausea was extensive and I had little sleep before they arrived just before 1:00 in the afternoon.  And, really, I was exhausted from all my DO SOMETHING coping that I did yesterday.

But, in truth, I have been hurt and upset from an exchange that happened yesterday.  I was out in my haven, helping my neighbor, when Firewood Man and his helper came to put in the raised bed.  The conversation turned to my haven and I mentioned my latest idea for it:  a small metal trashcan with a lid.




A while ago, one of my other ideas was to put handles on my trash and recycling bins.




I looked for handles and finally decided on cheap and unattractive over everything else that caught my eye.




Since the handles were for drawers (I couldn't find any that had screws than went back into the handle that were not for drawers), I had to make up for the thickness a drawer would have that the plastic lids did not.  My solution:  the handy dandy nifty wifty cheap washer.

I wanted the handles because, with the bins in their new location due to the privacy panels Firewood Man put up for me, I had to put them in front toward the fence so that it would be easier for me to pull them out for the trash and recycling collectors.  Where the bins were previously, with the odd angle of the fence line, I could just leave them in place since they were within the prerequisite distance to the alley.  And I had them hinge to hinge so I could more easily open them whilst leaning over the fence.

When we straightened the angle of the corner of the fence line back to a right angle,  the bins would only fit along the fence side-by-side.  To put them with the lids outward instead of the hinges made pulling them out for pick-up too difficult, as I stated.  But it also made them really, really difficult for me to open.  Hence, my handle idea.

For the record, I'm not the only person who's commented enthusiastically over how easy it is to open the bins now that they have the handles.   But all I care about, really, is my response.  The handles worked even better than I envisioned.  So, I am pleased.

Back to the trash can.

Because the birdies like my haven as much as I, generally I have to clean off the table (sooooooo glad I bought a glass top right away) every time I go out there.  The first few times I carried a bottle Windex and a roll of paper towels, but now I bring three cleaner soaked pieces of paper towels.  I really don't like having dirty paper towels on the table whilst I am eating.  But if I put them on the ground, Amos will mess with them.  So, I've been making a trip back to the house before sitting down to enjoy my meal.  More steps for me.

I also have this new condition that I really don't like to talk about: gustatory rhinitis.  My nose has become a sieve when I eat.  So, I need to have Kleenex near by.  After I finish eating and am savoring time in my haven, I really dislike having to hang onto my dirty tissues to keep them from blowing away.  For the same reason as the paper towels, I cannot drop them on the ground.

Hence, my main two reasons for desiring a trash can in my haven.

I have thought about this quite a bit.  I figure a metal one with a lid will mean that I can leave a bag inside and then just empty it when it is full.  No more extra trips to the house (or to the trash bin which is more steps than to the house).  Of course, typing this, I realize I could put some sort of trash bag in the garage and deal with my trash there, but that is still more steps.  I want less steps.  I want things in my life that make my life easier rather than more difficult.  It is plenty difficult enough for me.  Anything that makes what I do easier is precious to me.

Tonight, after I finally finished languishing on the sofas, I went outside with Amos so he could tend to his business.  It was so lovely that I spent quite a while out there just savoring the evening.  What I love about my haven is that I feel safe out there.  I cannot really explain why, but I do not feel safe when I am outside, even in my back yard.  I have to battle abject fear every time I take Amos for his walk (which is why I love it when Becky talks on the phone with me whilst I am doing so).  I am okay up on the airing porch, but when we spend hours up there, Amos had needs.  We tromp downstairs and then back upstairs and I get exhausted.  Out in my haven, it is private and I feel safe and Amos can tend to his needs as much as he wants.

Since Firewood Man finished the pavers out there, I have been outside more than I have since the pit bull attack.  And I have felt safe outside more than I have since the pit bull attack.  I have a place of peace and rest and I actually have high hopes that the shade will let me be out there during the summer (at least during the shady times).   Amos enjoys it.  I enjoy it.  Dare I say, I have been happy out there.

Having that space does make dealing with the misery of my body easier.  Okay, maybe not easier, but I have something to look forward to that is outside of this house.  Maybe I just don't have the words for it, but this has been the best thing I have ever done for myself.  And it has been the best thing in my life since moving here ... okay, second best because Amos came after I moved here.  You get the point.  It is a good thing.

But yesterday there was this joking or teasing or mocking that started and I was trapped, socially, into laughing along when all I wanted to do was weep.

Words were bantered about concerning how this project had ballooned into something over the top all because I mentioned the trash can.  And yet, from the beginning ... well ... once Firewood Man said he could pave it for me, I knew I wanted a space that had a table and a fire pit and wind chimes and a water feature.  I knew I wanted plants, but I am waiting until I figure out if I want planters that match the privacy panels or large pots.  I knew I wanted some sort of art, but most likely not on the panels and dreamed of finding a cheap stained glass window (I did that!).  I wanted things that would make me feel comfortable and enjoy the space, but not anything crowded.  I absolutely do not believe that what I have created or what I want eventually (as in, the water fountain of some sort) is over the top.  Nor do I think wanting a discreet trash can outside is over the top.  But the twitting and the mocking based on that thought really, really, really hurt.

I mean, if I created a Liberace-themed patio and that made me feel safe and happy, wouldn't that still  be a good thing?  Wouldn't that be something to celebrate and laud?  Firewood Man teases me mightily and drives me to my wits end, but he also makes me feel safe and normal himself.  He never picks on things that are hurtful.  Instead, he picks on things that I mock about myself myself.  He wasn't the one driving the let's-pick-on-Myrtle discourse.  Yet having him be there in that moment made it all the worse for me.

So, I feel crappy on all sorts of levels.  I know in my head that what was said was wrong, was not a true thing, but it doesn't feel wrong.  It feels like the familiar I'll-never-do-anything-right refrain I'm used to hearing.  Especially when it is what is socially right.  SIGH.

Stick and stones
May hurt your bones
But words will never hurt you.

LIE!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Do something...


In an effort to escape the crushing loneliness of Easter, I spend the day getting through each moment because I was busing DOING SOMETHING.




  • I took Amos for a walk.
  • I replaced the glass panels for screen ones on both storm doors.
  • I sanded and stained a block of wood for a foot rest.




  • I cleaned out, turned the soil, and added soil mix to the raised bed,.
  • I replaced the water in all three bird baths.
  • I took out the trash.
  • I helped my neighbor with her contract and benefits paperwork.




  • I made honey butter.
  • I brewed tea.
  • I made a pitcher of gatorade.
  • I made a batch of baked oatmeal muffins (but I forgot the blueberries, so it is a naked batch of baked oatmeal muffins).
  • I made a batch of flour tortilla dough balls for my freezer.




  • I changed the sheets on my bed.
  • I gave Amos a bath (he was all sweaty from keeping watch out whilst I was working on the raised bed).
  • I took a shower.
  • I did the laundry from the bedding and the toweling.

I'm bloody exhausted, but I managed to get through this day that is about the wonderful gift Christ brought to this world in His birth, death, and resurrection, but is filled with images of family and loved ones gathering together.  On Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, it is seemingly impossible to escape the fact that I do not have a family and/or loved ones who gather together.  It isn't just loneliness, it is this acute reminder that I do not have a place where I belong.  SIGH.

But I do have this amazing home.  
I do have my beloved Fluffernutter.  
And I do have friends who love me.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

New tech...


When I left being a professor, finding a job with a Ph.D. was rather difficult.  After a long road, I ended up in communications (and grants management, event management, and knowledge management), which turned out to be a wonderful professional challenge.  But it was a long road.  I wish I could have landed there first and had a longer career before my health declined.

When I finally, finally landed a job, it was with a man who owned many, many companies.  I was, essentially, his Gal Friday.  And, in that position, I learned a lot, chief amongst those lessons was building management, which I credit for my greater skill in responsible home ownership.

Back in those days, in addition to the 1,001 I did for him, I was the defacto IT department.  When he switched the employees in his construction company from radios to cell phones, I was the one who programmed them all.  You know, back in the days when you had to program your own cell phone after buying it.  I also managed the server and all the computers.  One of my first big tasks was to install Windows 98 on all of the computers, ones with 256 RAM, and re-install all of the programs the company used.  It was a multiple hour process on each computer.

I had my own computer and my self-sufficiency with it led me to being his IT department.  I knew nothing about servers, but I learned quickly the basics I needed to know, primarily how to add users and manage their settings.  I never really thought about what I was doing or learning.  The work needed to be done and I did it.  The biggest change I brought to the company was when I talked my boss into getting a T-1 line for Internet access.

In the five years that I worked for him (I think it was that long), technology radically changed.  He upgraded the computers twice, the server twice, the Internet connection (we eventually got DSL), the phones five times, and countless versions of new software.  If I am honest, I would admit that by the time I left that job, I knew that I was losing the ability to serve as Chief IT Boss (the title I preferred).  One of the last tasks I did was to learn Net Objects Fusion and create a website for my boss' main company.  It was laughable, but he was one of the first construction companies to have one.

As I moved into the non-profit world and communications, I left behind my IT role, but I brought that  knowledge with me.  IT folk loved me because I was always able to handle my own upgrades and never called for silly problems that only needed someone to hit the Escape key.  Or a restart.

Because most of the calls for IT help were things I could solve, I started helping my co-workers.  I think that many of the problems stem from what I call the Happy Clickster.  If in doubt, folk would just keep clicking, not understanding that the computer, when freed up, would still need to do all the actions from the clicking.  Sometimes I would say in a deep voice: "Step Away From the Mouse!"  It was my way of lightening the moment.

The bittersweet part of my becoming the unofficial HelpDesk support, was that I heard, over and over and over again:  "You are such a great teacher!"  Or I would hear:  "You should be a teacher!"  Oh, how I still miss teaching!  The truth is, though, that whilst I am an excellent teacher, I am horrible at school politics.  I left because I believe that students needed to read their books, take their own notes, and study for their exams.  That stance was at odds with how colleges were beginning to cater to students.  I do not know, had I remained in public schools, if I would have succeeded.  However, finding a job in public school with a Ph.D. was as impossible as finding one in the business sector.

One of the things that I first noticed about my cognitive decline was my growing confusion with technology.  When I tried to talk about it, folk would scoff at me and treat me like I was hinting for compliments.  I wasn't.  I knew what was beginning to happen in my brain.

The days when I can understand technology have long, long gone.  And I am to the point that I simply refuse to try things that will confuse me.  I don't discuss it.  I actually try to hide it.  Not from pride, but from exhaustion.  I am weary of having to convince others that I am confused and struggle with so very many cognitive tasks.

Well, I read an article that strongly recommended that you back up your data.  I am probably the last person who doesn't use the "cloud."  As long as I have had an iPhone, I have backed it up to my computer.  Then, I regularly back up my computer.  Back-ups, I understand.  Clouds are a mystery to me.  The problem is that, with my broken rememberer, I have come to rely more and more and more my Awesome Note app.





It is a note app, that has grown and grown and grown in capabilities.  I, however, still just use it for note.  You can organize your notes by folders and I very much depend on those folders.





The one I have used the most is the shopping folder.  I keep a running list for each store I visit in that folder.  I also have specially running lists that I stick at the end by putting the letter "z" in front of them.





Since I mostly re-read now, I have the need for ready access to the order of the books in my favorite series.  You know, because I cannot remember what order they are even though I read and re-read them all the time.




I haven't been all that great at recording information that is important for my doctors to know, but I am trying to get better at that.  I start and then fall off in my diligence.




My latest folder is for the tasty (but a tad unhealthy) treats I will sometimes have.  Since my ice packs take up so much space in my freezer, I have those treats just in their bags, rather than in their boxes.  So, I created a folder for their cooking times and temperatures.

I have folders for hymn lyrics and house tasks and financial jobs and To-Do items and family info and liturgies and songs that I want to buy and online viewing (streaming) and things that are important to me.  I adore this app and depend on it more and more.

One of the upgrades Awesome Note did a few years ago was to make it so that you can sync it with Evernote.  I created an account and tried that, but I ended up with duplicates and a mess in my folders.  So, I stopped trying to back-up my folders.  But now I needed to know that all my notes would be secure if I lost my data in the current iOS upgrade.

I am very, very, very proud to note that I figured out how to 1) create a back-up of my folders and 2) how to use Apple's iCloud feature to back up the back-up.  Actually, what I think I did is 1) sync all my folders to the Cloud and 2) create a back-up and save that to the Cloud as well.  This was a monumental accomplishment.  As in ... I should be given another advanced degree for learning this because it is that much of an accomplishment for me.

Of course, it turns out that all that worry and hoopla was for nothing.  The operating system upgrade on my phone took forever, but it went without a hitch or glitch.  All my data was present and accounted for once I was done!