Monday, June 30, 2014

Musical pots...

In case you have not yet grasped what a miracle worker Firewood Man is, I thought I would post a photo in which you can see the original state of the grass in my yard.

Incidentally, you can also see that ground cover that I had to dig and dig and dig and dig out of the space where I put the raised bed.  And you can see the rhododendron that died over this past winter.  I admit that I was not all that sad over its death, for I happen to think it is only attractive whilst blooming.  With the boxwoods dying in the front yard and needing replacing, the corner bed behind the chair is going to remain empty until next summer.

Anyway, as you can see, I have luscious grass all thanks to Tim's hard work in restoring my yard.  I will admit that I do struggle with a bit of vicarious pride over the yard.  For most of my neighbors are plagued with dandelions and clover flowers, whereas my yard is merely an uninterrupted sea of GREEN.

I thought, perhaps, my photo from yesterday did not adequately show just how large my basil plants are ... how large the basil, thyme, and sage plants are.  So, I took another photo.  See?  It is not a fanciful wondering as to whether the basil might grow taller than the fence!  After some Googling, I have armed myself with recipes for basil paste and basil butter, which freeze well. I have also found a recipe for basil salt, which keeps in the cupboard.  There is a recipe for basil vinegar, but I am not sure what I would do with basil vinegar.  Finally, I found a recipe for freezing the leaves themselves via the blanching method.  Clearly, I have enough basil to explore all of these recipes and more, given that I have four Towering Inferno basil plants (bushes).

I'll probably be making sage butter, paste, and salt, too.
And thyme butter, paste, and salt.
Too bad I donated my ice cube trays.........

Today, I played musical pots.  You see, when I used the GREEN frog pot for the broken birthday sedum pieces, I forgot that I was still rooting the last three pieces of the giant spotted begonia from my grandmother's yard that I nearly killed this winter when the airing porch door blew open in the solarium without my knowing it.  Giant spotted begonias are most awesome plants, but they cannot take temperatures below 50 degrees.  They winter inside rather well ... unless outside doors blow open and they are exposed to temperatures in the 20s and below.

So, I moved the sedum to another GREEN pot I had.  Actually, this pot does not have a drainage hole, which is why I never manage to keep anything it it for long periods of time.  Round pots that fit inside are too small for lots of plants, and I have never come across a plastic square pot to use as an inner liner.  I put some rocks and then some gravel at the bottom, because I know that sedums don't require all that much water.  So, the plant should be just fine without a drainage hole since I won't have copious amounts of water building up inside the pot.

I also took the opportunity to go through the rocks I have in a pot out in the garage since I have less pots with plants than I did in Alexandria.  I decided upon the three polished rocks I have because I find them to be an interesting contrast with the crackle glaze of the pot.  It is a prettier shade of GREEN than the photo shows.  But the photo does show that it is a square pot that better fits the corner of the iron post where I had put the original pot.

As you can see, in the rooting process of the last three cuttings, I already had leaves starting to grow.  There were also quite a tangle of roots at the bottom of all three cuttings, so it was actually long past time to take them out of the vase of water in the window sill and put them into a pot.  The other three pots of giant spotted begonias I had done are growing well.

Two of the three have started to bloom, as you can see here.

These are the other two potted footings that I did (right and left).  This was 40 days ago.

If you look hard, you can see the one on the right has a bloom peaking out.  The one on the left has been rather busy growing.  Sadly, I forgot to rotate them for a while, so they are kind of kattywampus just now ... such as with the upside-down leaf.  The one in the GREEN pot is not yellowed ... more lighting issues.  Anyway, the point is that I never have managed to keep plants growing in the shaded areas of the porch and now I have all three pots filled with a plant that adores shade, with more rootings in the spot where the original giant spotted begonia was.  The added benefit is that these plants won't have to be replaced since I can just winter them inside.

Something else the two photos show is how Mr. Jade has gotten all tall.  I find it odd that just being outside the main trunk went from being draped over the side to standing nearly vertical.  I forgot to rotate him, too, so there is still a bit of leaning.

The beleaguered hanging pots that I am trying to make out of the Wandering Jew cuttings at least no longer look like I got them out of the trash can.  In fact, one almost looks like a proper hanging pot ... just a young one.  The other one is still in rather sad shape.  So, last night I did some plant surgery to harvest more bits for rooting.  I plan mostly to beef up the still-beleagured basket.

The one that is growing more vigorously has thicker stems, so I am hoping that, once rooted and planted, they will take hold more quickly in their new home.

Waste not.  Want not.  Because the one basket is so very pitiful still, I even took the smaller bits and put them in a miniature vase with water to root, too.  I admit that three of my neighbors now have rather luscious hanging baskets, which are ... interestingly enough ... some of which are Wandering Jews.  I am jealous of the instant gorgeousness hanging from their porches, but I am trying to remain focused on the fact that my two baskets are: 1) from an original dropping off my best friend's basket; 2) a plant that I can winter inside and thus eliminate having to buy baskets each summer (because with a fantastic porch like mine hanging baskets are a necessity); and 3) mine are free baskets.

Today, I also dusted the upstairs, including the baseboards and window sills, and vacuumed the floors in the hallway and all the bedrooms. Amos does not care much for the vacuum.  However, as much as I was loathe to have to buy a new vacuum last fall, my second Dyson is so very superior to the first one I had.  That ball technology is rather wonderful.

The soil puttering and giving into the guilt of not cleaning the second floor was a result of spending hours writhing on the bathroom floor last night.  I am not sure why I was back in that most miserable of states, but I was.  I had forgotten just how bad it can get, just how swollen my abdomen, from sternum to below my hipbones, can be. I had forgotten the agony of having food start to spoil in your stomach from an overlong stay.  And, today, I am having a reminder of what it is like when that rotten food makes its way through the rest of your digestive system.  SIGH.

I wanted to be able to point to something productive after spending all night writhing on the bathroom floor and then the morning and early afternoon huddled in bed.

I really do wonder why I found myself back in that wretched state.  I have not missed a single dose of erythromycin since I started the reminder system on the refrigerator with that flower magnet and the dry erase board.  I have three theories: 1) the 5-day trial was at 250 mg dose pill whereas the solution is 200 mg, so perhaps going back in dosage is the problem;  2) all the erythromycin solution bottles expire 11/2014 and were manufactured in 12/2012, so maybe the older mediation is less efficacious; or 3)  it's just the randomness of the malfunction of my nervous system.  In any case, I really, really, really struggled to get through the worst part of the innards misery and am still a bit shell-shocked from the experience.

I had forgotten the magnitude of the wrath my innards can wield upon me.
I had not rehearsed facing such.
I failed in another opportunity to show faith ... to trust.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Can't win for losing...

I thought it was nice that the second call I received from the pharmacist was to let me know that the asthma medication I stopped taking because of the cost—I figured that I could live without it—to say that the 100 mg dose had been added to Target's $4/$10 generic medication cash cost formulary.  You know, The List that all the major drug stores have now.  I take 200 mg, but she could dispense it in the 100 mg capsules.  In short, what was over $600 for a 90-day supply is now $42.  I high-tailed it over to Target on Friday and have not coughed the last two nights.  This is a genuine relief for me.

I have cough variant asthma.  So, once I start coughing, I can rather easily fall off the asthma cliff.  I can no longer take the emergency asthma medications because of my heart rate and blood pressure response, so the Benzonatate is also my emergency plan.  In other words, I can take extra of the pills during times I start coughing during the day.  I take them each night to help because nighttime asthma attacks were one of my biggest struggles.

I never had asthma before moving to Northern Virginia.  Come to find out ... Northern Virgina is an epicenter of adult-onset asthma.  I have not been in the ER for asthma in over two years, so mostly I am hoping moving away from there has helped.  However, having access to the Tesselon Perles again, even in generic, is a true blessing.  Not that I am thrilled about adding even such a modest amount to my monthly budget.

I spent some time crunching numbers, trying to calculate the pre-, during-, and post-donut hole cost of all my medications once CVS no longer is able to track down any more bottles ... or November 2014 when the supply of erythromycin solution hits its expiration date ... whichever comes first.  I might be able to make it all the way until next month before having to start funding the pill version of erythromycin.

During the worst of times, the straight donut hole time, I shall have just $396 left over from the disability check, after paying for the medications, for every other expense in my life.  Yes.  That's not even possible.  If I am the most penurious miser I can possibly be, during the pre-donut hole months (January-April, I believe), I just might be able to squeak by.  A lot depends on just how tough I can be on myself when it comes to groceries.  For example, just yesterday I thought about how very, very, very long it has been since I have had European butter.  SIGH.

And, of course, a total, utter dearth of un-budgeted expenses, like those tires I had to buy late last year because I forgot about the fact that I need to maintain my car.

On the forgetting front, the whole magnet-flower-erythromycin-dose-documentation plan is working well.  Since setting that up on my GREEN dry erase board, I have not missed a dose, nor have I had to try and figure out whether or not I had just taken a dose.

But on the innards front ... SIGH.
Waves and waves and waves of nausea.
From mid-afternoon to around midnight or so.

I believe that the probiotics are actually helping the distressing lack of motility in my lower intestines that had cropped up.  It is bad enough dealing with gastroparesis and Small Bowel Bacterial Overgrowth (SBBO). I was rather distressed at having rather long bouts of constipation.  But ... whilst things are moving better on the lower end, things are lingering longer on the upper end.  Not so much in the middle part (the small intestine), but after I eat (which is also after I take the probiotics) the nausea starts.  I am ever so full for ever so long and eating something in the evening to avoid the whole blood sugar crashing thing is hard.

It's been 14 days of probiotics.
It's been 10 days of the daily nausea.
I've only had one day of constipation out of the last seven, when I had been enduring five-six days of no movements at a time.

I hate nausea.
I hate my innards.
I hate my body.

My abdomen is also more painful, more often.  Not too much swelling, but the little I have hurts all the time ... and some of the time so badly that I cannot think the next moment is survivable.

I hate nausea.
I hate my innards.
I hate my body.

Today, with two days of mostly huddling in the GREEN chair, other than cooking with Marie (letting her cook) and fetching medications, I wanted to accomplish something.  Mostly, I wanted to avoid thinking about or ruminating (pun intended) on the nausea.  So, I dusted the entire first floor, including the baseboards and window sills.  I then vacuumed and Swiffered the wood floors.  Next I cleaned the main staircase, including my first-ever go at the individual pieces of the railing.  I also wiped down all the artwork and the woodwork of the main staircase/deacon's bench.  After all that, I had to rest for a long while.

Late this evening, as the sun was setting, I tackled the thyme beneath the Rose of Sharon bushes again because those blasted weed thingies came back and re-filled the thyme mounds.  When I finished, I stop and admired the back porch for the 100th time since Thursday.

Firewood Man moved the grill back to the porch and re-set the metal threshold for me on Saturday.  I had wanted to move it a bit, to better cover the most worn parts, but I knew I would not be able to apply enough pressure to drill/screw into the old hardwood.  I also was trying to figure out which way the threshold went into the doorway.  Before dropping off the sleep Friday night, I had a most brilliant idea.  And it worked!

Whilst Tim was finishing the lawn, I put toothpicks in the original screw holes and tried the threshold in both directions to see which way the holes aligned with the toothpicks.  As I had hoped, they made it clear which direction the threshold had originally been set.  Tim re-set it, but moved it to the inside edge of the door frame, which better covered the worn spots and yet still made for a good fit.

Tim and the helper he brought with him spend a cockle-warming amount of time admiring the end result of my labors.  In fact, Tim was actually impressed.  Wood bliss.

Tim's helper was the one who helped him with the raised bed.  He had much commentary on the herbs growing there.

Whilst I would like to think that the rather vigorous growth is due to my careful mix of compost manure, peat, potting soil, and earthworms, it is probably du to the quality of the plants.  You can see that I have far more basil and sage than a single person needs.  Somehow, I need to remember next summer that I only need to buy two basil plants, not four.  The sage should survive the winter, so I might need to find a home for two of the four.  Even the sprigs of oregano I got from my realtor's yard have grown.  I do wish the rosemary were nursery quality instead of grocery store.  It is growing some, but just not enough that I think I could harvest.  If you look at the third and fifth plant from the end, the two basil plants.  The first is the one from which I have harvested.  It is still large, but the other three are humongous!  The thyme, too!!

This was the bed just a month ago.  One month.  Do you think the basil will be over the top of the fence by the end of the summer???  Is it odd that the movie The Towering Inferno pops into my mind each time I pass by the bed and those basil plants catch my eye?????

I think I need some basil recipes.
Or lessons on drying herbs.
Or maybe lessons on making basil paste.
Or folk who would like to cook with fresh herbs.

Hah!  Hermits don't have folk in their lives.  SIGH.

The other day, Friday I think (??) I was nauseous and then a headache started and then my heart started racing. I just felt awful and was wishing the evening would pass more quickly.  Then, I started feeling a bit foggy.  Just in time, I thought to check my blood sugar.  It was 32!!!  Just. In. Time.  A new low for me.

Even eating tasty stuff is so very difficult when you are feeling so utterly puky.

I can't win for losing.  I gain some ground, but fall back further.  In so very many areas, but especially within this body of mine.  This body with an autonomic nervous system gone haywire.

Friday, Marie wanted lemon chicken gyros, so that was our cooking endeavor.  Such culinary bliss.  So generous is she, that Marie let us eat one and a half each, instead of just one, even though she had brought all the ingredients (and a bottle of Moscato) for the meal.

We ... we had communication difficulties there for a while.  I did not remember that she had never made the gyro dough and so was not expecting her questions.  When I am not expecting something, when I have not rehearsed it so to speak, I become rather flustered.  Marie thought I was getting frustrated with her, with her asking questions.  But I was only frustrated with how poorly I was handling the unexpected course of the morning.

Seriously, I wonder why anyone would remain my friend.

I thought about making Marie a Myrtle Guide. You know, what to do when ... complete with an index.  SIGH.

What I needed was for her to say:  Myrtle, I haven't made these before and am nervous about doing a flatbread and need some of your guidance.  She did.  She did by asking questions.  But I need the words.  When I tried to say that I needed her to let me know that she needed help with making the gyro bread, Marie was confused because she had.  She had by asking questions.  SIGH.

I make no sense.
My life makes no sense.
Nothing makes sense.

The part I left out about Thursday's dinner was that my neighbor asked me to pray for her while she was here.  I find that kind of odd. I mean, it is more what I would expect from an ex-evangelical, but she is an ex-Lutheran.  She left the church ... and all things faith some years ago. I know why she did, but I wonder if what happened was more of a tipping point than a catalyst for a sudden departure.

Over the years, as an evangelical, I encountered this before.  The non-believer who knows you believe and thus have this special access line to God.  When things are hard, the request for prayer.  Since you're religious, would you pray?  I find the requests odd because why want prayer but not want faith?

Of course I have not confided in my oft-reclusive neighbor about my own spiritual crisis, about my doubts or fears.  And I did not want to do so then.  I felt trapped.  I did not want to pray for her because I thought doing so would be a lie ... a lie to her and a lie to God.  Or maybe a ruse for her behalf that would insult God, would be sacrilegious.

I caved.  I prayed.  And even though I found it odd that she left immediately following dessert, I was glad.  I was glad because I was so scared of what I had done.  So scared that I did not eat any Double Chocolate Dr Pepper cake with her.  So scared that I cowered the rest of the evening ... the rest of the evening that I was also battling nausea since dinner was my first meal of that day.

The part I left out about my conversation with Becky the other day was our exchange about lightening striking me.  She pointed out that there are actually no God-striking-folk-with-lightening-as-punishment verses.  I pointed out that there were those two who died suddenly in the New Testament and those pillar of salt people in the Old Testament and lots of talk about God smiting folk in the Old Testament.


I am not sure of the proper grammatical conjugation of the word smite.

What I told Becky, in all seriousness, that I worry with whatever the harm is that can be received in the Lord's Supper, I have already heaped upon myself enough spiritual harm and worry about bringing more.  If you don't know what the words of faith mean. If you don't know about your own faith.  Should you be reading the Word of God?  Should you be praying?  What would prayer be at that point?

What was it for my neighbor?
Some sort of solace?
Some sort of hope?
Some sort of just-in-case?

What was it for me?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

94-year-old wood...

I know the photo is blurry, but I have been shaking and that is not going to pass any time soon.  I just wanted to record my lovely finally-finished-restoring back porch floor.

In my opinion, 94-year-old wood should be honored and respected, not neglected and forgotten.


I thought to celebrate by inviting my neighbor over for dinner to try the Spicy Dr Pepper Pulled Pork tacos on the homemade Texas Flour Tortillas.  She had a seminar today and so was not working this evening as per usual.  I am exceedingly tickled to report that my neighbor practically swooned in delight and she SHOVED her tacos into her mouth.  After nearly dying of ecstasy over the Double Chocolate Dr Pepper Cake, she practically crawled out the front door to collapse on her couch before the food coma set in.  Nice to be able to make someone else so happy for a change.

For me, the cockles of my heart were warmed exceedingly when she waxed poetically at the sight of the back porch.  She's lived next door to this house for 21 years now and knew just bad the porch had gotten as the owner prior to the flipper grew older and more ill, unable to tend to so much in the yard and the house.

When the professing-Christian-but-rather-crooked contractor was working on the kitchen last summer, he would make such a mess on the back porch.  He spilled primer and paint and adhesive and grout out there.  I talked with him many times about not wanting to mar or mark up the floor any more than it already was.  His response was to yell at me about not telling him what to do (even though the contract had a daily clean-up clause) and ridicule me about thinking the porch floor was ever going to be anything but trash.  I almost wish he could see it so he could eat his words.  Almost.  Thinking of that time is very distressing still.

I admit that I keep going to the back door and peaking out to admire the end result.  Shamelessly.  A beautiful outcome for less than $40 of supplies ... really only about $30 since half the gallon of sealer is left over for the next time I need to do one of the porches.  Well, that and lots and lots and lots of labor and aching on my part.

I just adore old wood ... savor the sight of it no matter the state of it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More words that matter...

Remember those sedum leftover bits??

They survived!!

I kept the soil rather damp until I saw that the tiny bits were not quite so tiny and that they were looking a bit perky instead of merely lying atop the soil.  Now, they are growing as vigorously as the sections I cut from the original plat and put into the other pots.  Yes, I got a 15th pot from that $13.97 purchase!  [I rotate the pots every other day since the sedum grows toward the sun, so to compare the photos, reverse this one in your head.]

Remember the pink dresser??

Marie sent me photos of the dresser in its new home...

...with its new knobs!!

Not too shabby, eh?  Anything is better than pink when it comes to a dresser for a seminary couple's master bedroom.  Even though the project was a bit wearying, I was grateful for the opportunity to be useful for a spate of time.

And the floor?

This bit is the bane of my existence.  Most of the really bad spots will be covered by the metal threshold that was here, but this section still needs to dry so that I can seal it.  [Don't look at the groves I accidentally sanded into the step below.]  I sure do hope the copious amounts of dry heat forecasted for tomorrow will help.  [Yes, I still think the wood, even in its worn state with bits of paint here and there, is still beautiful.]

The further thoughts I had about Psalm 51 had to do with verse 10:  Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. (NASB 1977):

  • For one, the Book of Common Prayer changed this verse, too.  It reads "make me a clean heart."  I know that the words create and make are virtually synonymous, but I prefer the use of create because it calls to mind that God is the Creator. Plus, the change in translation removes the intimacy of the work of God in the believer's life in the plea that is this verse by removing the word in.  Just make me as to opposed to make in me.
  • For another, NIV translates the word clean as pure.  I do not like that change at all, for it takes away the imagery of how something is usually cleansed ... washing with water.  To me, this calls to mind the washing away of sin that takes place in the waters of Holy Baptism.
  • Third, in the notes for the NASB 1977, an alternate translation for the word in as for.  Create for me a clean heart.  To me, that word for is the heart and soul of the Gospel, really, as all that Christ does for God's creation.
  • Fourth, the KJ and the Book of Common Prayer translate steadfast as right.  Whilst the word right connects to just, as in being justified, I prefer steadfast, for it called to mind the continuing battle that is faith ... the battle of the two Adams—the battle of the new creation against the flesh, the world, and the devil—that is ongoing.  To me, to remain steadfast, to remain resolute and unwavering, is not something that happens just once, but rather is a pattern of living, an approach to that which is before a person.  So, the plea is ask God for help remaining firm against the onslaught of sin in the midst of a prayer about the forgiveness of Christ.

Becky and I were talking on the phone and rambled around to the Jesus Prayer.  I was still thinking about Psalm 51, but didn't tell her about that.  However, she asked me when I thought the Jesus Prayer crept into the church.  I cannot remember when in the conversation we had the question came, but the heart of the conversation was about how I think there is little actual doctrine taught in the mainline evangelical church.  Folk don't have access to doctrine, the way that the Lutheran Confessions are available now.  But catechesis does not really happen.  By that I mean there is no systematic teaching of any form of doctrine, such as the Westminster Catechism, for example.

Thirty-one years in many denominational (and non-denominational) churches and doctrine never really came up.  For the first decade or so, the emphasis was so much on the Word of God, but in a way that called for the believer to figure out what the Word of God meant for her, for him.  A terrible burden, really.  Then, as the desire to have a specific guide for living, a way to really know that you were being a good Christian drove biblical education, all those books began to take the place of the Word of God.  I actually stopped going to church regularly for several years—I was attending that strange Lutheran Bible Study—because I couldn't find a church where the Word of God was actually taught.  I was so very weary of things like The Purpose Driven Life and The Prayer of Jabez and whatever funny story framed the sermon of the week.  I didn't want to laugh and I didn't want to hear what I needed to do.  I had failed at doing for too long.

Anyway, I posited rather correctly, as it turns out, when what I had thought was the Jesus Prayer crept into the mainline evangelical church.  Only, Googling showed me that, once again, the words are really not the same.  What I think of as the Jesus Prayer is actually really the Sinner's Prayer.  The latter is where you invite Jesus into your heart and all that other balderdash.  The Jesus Prayer is a prayer that appears to have originated in the Eastern Orthodox Church, though I've heard Lutheran pastors extol its use:  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

I really, really, really like what I found in Wikipedia about this.  I strip away everything else about the beliefs and practices and philosophies of prayer in the article that pertains to the Eastern Orthodox Church and focus on this remaining, rather fascinating bit:

Thus, Theophan the Recluse, a 19th-century Russian spiritual writer, talks about three stages:

  • The oral prayer (the prayer of the lips) is a simple recitation, still external to the practitioner.
  • The focused prayer, when "the mind is focused upon the words" of the prayer, "speaking them as if they were our own."
  • The prayer of the heart itself, when the prayer is no longer something we do but who we are.

Once this is achieved the Jesus Prayer is said to become "self-active" (αυτενεργούμενη). It is repeated automatically and unconsciously by the mind, having a Tetris Effect, like a (beneficial) Earworm. Body, through the uttering of the prayer, mind, through the mental repetition of the prayer, are thus unified with "the heart" (spirit) and the prayer becomes constant, ceaselessly "playing" in the background of the mind, like a background music, without hindering the normal everyday activities of the person.
I chuckled deeply at seeing prayer compared to an earworm.  You know, those songs you cannot get out of your mind when you hear someone sing or hum a bit.  But I also marveled at the idea of the Jesus Prayer becoming self-active in the believer.  I guess because I ask: Is not the prayer created from the heart of the Word of God to the Living Word of God, by whom and through whom all things which have come into being came into being (John 1)?

Of course, really those three "stages" of prayer are really just teaching Matthew 6 and Luke 12 where we are taught that where our treasure is, there our hearts will also be.  What we treasure is that what we guard or hold dear, which is how, in Hebrew, I believe, keeping the Word of God is translated. Keeping is treasuring, guarding, holding dear ... not doing the Word of God.  I think that bit of Hebrew is my most favoritest part.

Of course, being so terrified and torn apart by the questions of what faith is ... what it means to believe and to trust, to repent, forgiveness ... thinking too much on this leads me to wonder what it is that I treasure, where my heart lies??

What shames me is that, right now, I am not sure if I could choose between Amos and my beloved NASB 1977 were that proverbial fire to take place in my home and I could only save one thing.  The truth is, I would be lost right now, if I did not have this fluffy white catgoatratbastardpuppydog, who daily battles (oft losing to) his own host of fears, but who pours upon me such affection as my heart could want and is with me no matter how ill or how terrified or how insensible I am being.

I would like to say that saving Amos would be an okay choice because I still have bits and pieces of the Living Word in my mind.  But ... I have lost so much.  Surely there will be a time when none remains.

So, I flee from actually thinking about the thoughts that flit through my mind.  But I am glad that Becky and I talked and that I learned the difference between what this ex-evangelical knew of as The Jesus Prayer and what is the real Jesus Prayer.  Plus, I also was rather heartened by the entry in Wikipedia about the Sinner's Prayer, especially the dire warning a Southern Baptist pastor (really it should read preacher) gives:

"I'm convinced that many people in our churches are simply missing the life of Christ, and a lot of it has to do with what we've sold them as the gospel, i.e. pray this prayer, accept Jesus into your heart, invite Christ into your life. Should it not concern us that there is no such superstitious prayer in the New Testament? Should it not concern us that the Bible never uses the phrase, 'accept Jesus into your heart' or 'invite Christ into your life'? It's not the gospel we see being preached, it's modern evangelism built on sinking sand. And it runs the risk of disillusioning millions of souls."

And Amen!!

Words really do matter to me. I am glad I learned that I was using the wrong words to name that horrid prayer and encountered the delightful thoughts about praying Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner often so as to become an earworm that invades our being ...  as Acts 17:28 teaches that in Him we live and move and have our very being.

Of course, I also wonder ... would/could/do I pray those words in faith?  Or would they only be the same desperate plea I made hundreds of times in praying the Sinner's Prayer because I wanted to know if I were really saved?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

One step closer...

My day lilies started blooming...

That is a good thing.

The billing nightmare from the two incorrect glucose challenge tests from two years ago came back.  Someone in billing reversed the charges.  When I was at my doctor's office, her check-out staff (wonderfully merciful women) printed out the notes on the account which very clearly state that a supervisor documented the lab's error in both tests and that a refund would be sent to my insurance company and my share of the charges would be credited.  The notes also document the check number  and amount sent to the insurance company.

Glucose challenge tests are really, really, really hard on me.  I get quite ill.  So to have two done incorrectly, to have two where the C-Peptide was run but not the glucose on each draw over the four hour test, was really discouraging.  To have to fight to have billing straightened out from April to September 2012 was really, really discouraging.  To discover the charges appearing again, now noted as an account in default and would be sent to collections was really, really, really discouraging.  To have a supervisor in billing tell me that the notes I had in my hand, entered by billing staff, were not accurate was overwhelming.  Eventually, I was told I would receive a call back in 30 minutes after the situation was studied.  The supervisor's manger never called back.

I am not going to call again until next week.
Once a week of such madness is all that I can bear.

CVS found another two bottles of the erythromycin solution somewhere in the country, so they are being sent here.  That was good news.  However, not only am I struggling to remember to take all four doses, I am not not able to remember whether or not I have just taken one.  I star at the measuring syringe and cannot remember.  There is just blankness.

Even in the shower, sometimes I cannot remember if I have washed my hair or not.  I can check whether or not I have shaved.  And it doesn't matter quite so much if I use extra soap, shampoo, or conditioner (not that I want to do so), but it does matter if I take extra doses of medication.

Today, while I couldn't do anything about the second dose I did not know if I took, I came up with an idea going forward.  I erased the reminder food items on my GREEN refrigerator board.  I wrote the numbers 1-4.  And I used this odd magnet a child gave me once when I was reading at schools to mark the third dose.  Once I actually draw out the dose from the bottle, I will move the magnet to the next number.

While the pills are ridiculously expensive, it is nice to have a visual confirmation if I have taken them.  I really do depend quite a bit on the 4-dose / 7-day medication container system I bought.

After talking with Firewood Man, I decided to not have him power wash the back porch.  He thought it really wasn't necessary.  So, I used the blower again, used the jet setting on the hose sprayer, and used my floor squeegee to clean off the back porch as best as possible.  It's raining today, so the boards were already going to be some wet.  Thus, I am one step closer to being done.  Being DONE.

After many days of steamy hot weather and rainy weather, we are supposed to have three to four days of stinking hot weather.  If the boards dry out from their cleaning, I might be able to seal the floor on Thursday.  Firewood Man is coming to mow on Saturday this week, so if the porch is ready, he said he would put the grill back in place for me.

Yes, I hosed down the ceiling, wall, window, door, and lattice, too.  There's sure to be sawdust around here for months to come.  Maybe years.  Did you know that sawdust can survive a trip through the washer and dryer??

Amos is all exhausted from missing me whilst I labored on the back porch floor.  He's so tired that he couldn't even be bothered to curl up properly last night.  Right now, all four paws are up all mingled together.

He may also be tired from attending his violently nauseous puppy momma in the wee hours of the morning for the past four days.  For the second time, I forgot to put the bottle of the erythromycin solution back into the refrigerator, which affects its efficacy.  Last time, it was six hours.  This time, three.  So, maybe that is why I am puky and battling abdominal pain.  Who knows.  Sleeping has been hard.

Yesterday, I awoke at 7:00 could not fall back asleep.  So, I decided, at 8:30, to get up instead of lying in bed frustrated with myself.  By 10:00, I had got to both Target and CVS to fetch prescriptions and come back home.  Such a long, long day.  Whilst I did nap in the afternoon, it made for a very long day.  I was up again until 5:00, until the Zofran worked.  But today I slept until nearly 2:00 PM.  We are both exhausted.  Only I don't sleep with my paws up in the air.

I am nauseous again now.
Blood pressure?
Blood sugar?


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sucker punched...

The pharmacist called to tell me that the erythromycin pills price changed.  She called because she understands that I do best when I rehearse things.  So, she did not want me to have a melt down when I pick up all my prescriptions on Friday.  Sweet.  Merciful.  However, the news feels like the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back.

$436 per month.
$436 per month to digest food.
$436 per month to digest food when I was paying $93.

Of course, my MacBook power adapter thingy decided to stop working today.  I personally believe it should have lasted longer than 19 months, but I had read the magnetic thingy and its positioning make for a shortened life as far as computer adapters go.  But, really, what a way to kick a gal when she's already down.

I was wildly nauseous from 3:00 to 5:00 AM, before breaking down and taking the Zofran.  Sometimes I worry that if I take it too often, it will stop working for me.  Even though I know that my 8 mg dose has room for growth (chemo patients can take up to 32 mg at a time), I still feel that I should be absolutely sure that I cannot endure the nausea a moment more before taking a Zofran.

So, I slept until 7:00, when I got up to feed Amos and take my erythromycin dose.  Then, I could not get back to sleep.  From 7:30 to 11:00, I tried so hard to sleep.  I tried to not think about that call and not think about the dreams I had.  But all I could feel was despair.  With sleep not coming, I decided to go ahead and get up.

Walking across the sanded porch floor boards to take Amos outside, I realized with this strange sort of clarity that I could only endure one more day of sanding.  No more could I be so utterly filthily and —despite the use of a mask—have to spend hours clearing out sawdust from my orifices.  I changed clothes and went to town.  This ... this after working a double session yesterday and then calculating out the remaining work: 11 boards (one long sanding session); removing the metal threshold and addressing the boards beneath it and their edges (one session); going back around all the edges to ensure that I have come as close to the walls/baseboards as possible (one session); and going over the entire floor one more time for a light finish (one session).

I changed my clothes and went outside.
I stayed outside until I was finished.
I am in agony, with hands and arms still vibrating hours later.

I don't know how to take a photo of the floor where the lighting doesn't cast darks patches on the wood.  This photo is not all that accurate, for the spots by the door and those at the end of the porch are no less sanded (no darker) than the rest of it.  In fact, the entire floor is much lighter than shown ... perhaps closest to the boards just on the far side of the back door.  In any case, I am hopeful that, once sealed, a photo will be more balanced.

To ensure that I would not try to sand any more, not try to do just a tiny bit better job, I got out the blower and cleaned off all the lattice, the window, the doors, the walls, and the ceiling as best I could.  Even with sweeping up after changing each sanding disc, I still had copious amounts of sawdust everywhere.  Now, I will not be tempted to get the sander back out.

I also texted Firewood Man to let him know it is read for power washing.  When he came to mow on Thursday, Tim took the time to move the grill from the back porch to the sidewalk, so I could finish the floor.  Neither of us thought it would before the end of June.  Depending on when he has time to come clean the wood, I just may make that deadline.  For I anticipate the sealing to take just a short while compared to the front porch.

I know. I know that it is going to be beautiful. I know that each and every time that I take Amos out or leave to fetch prescriptions, the cockles of my heart will warm ever so slightly at the sight of properly tended wood.  I know that this is the last bit of the house that I can really address myself, the last needed actually, since Tim came up with a way to take care of the peeling paint on the lattice walls of the back porch.  [I don't know how, but someone else is going to prep and paint the remaining three garage walls.]  Yes, I still have to take care of the basement steps and those flooded carpet squares, but that will be a walk in the park compared to the colossal amount of labor this floor took.  I know that today was a good day to finally finish removing the paint.  I even know that in three or four days, the intense pain of my body from pushing so hard to finish those last sanding tasks will ease and be gone.  But I am still overwhelmed.

I am overwhelmed by the enormity of what it has (and will take) to restore the back porch floor.
I am overwhelmed by the staggering price of the medication I take to digest food.
I am overwhelmed by the thoughts and feelings of my father's death that keep cropping up.
I am overwhelmed by knowing that I do not really understand the words of faith.
I am overwhelmed by the changes in my mind.
I am overwhelmed by dysautonomia, especially the innards misery, the chills, and the anxiety.
I am overwhelmed by the deficit I am forced to live ... if I want to digest food.
I am overwhelmed by the Medicare donut hole.
I am overwhelmed by being the only one who has to face and figure out this life of mine.
I am overwhelmed by the nightmares and night terrors that plague me.
I am overwhelmed by who I am becoming.
I am overwhelmed by fear of the state of my soul.

$436.  How do I swallow that??

Friday, June 20, 2014

Am I a monster...

Becky called me tonight, because she had a bit of undivided-Bettina time, i.e., no beloved or cherubs about.  I like it when she calls, obviously, but I especially like it when I hear her doing chores because that helps to motivate me to tackle mine.  Tonight, she mentioned laundry, which I have avoided since Sunday.  As she did her laundry, we compared things we liked to dry outside during the summer.  Once she hung up, I immediately dragged myself out of the GREEN chair and forced myself upstairs to fetch the laundry and carry it down to the basement.

Is it odd that my puppy dog knows what the word "laundry."  I asked Amos if he wanted to go do the laundry, and he leapt off the GREEN chair and headed up the main staircase.  He was waiting for me on the pile of sheets that I had stripped from the bed earlier just before I gave both of the muddy, sweaty, saw dusty creatures of this house a bath.

Once I had piled all the laundry that had overflowed from the basket back on top and carefully mounded the sheets on top of that, Amos raced downstairs to the half bath.  You see, Amos does a better job of rounding up the hand towels than do I.  After that, he headed to the door to the basement and waited on my huffing and puffing, staggering self to come open the door.

Over the past year, Amos has taken a great liking to the sorting of laundry.  Whilst he cowers in fear as I dump out the laundry, once I sit on the floor, he joins me.  As I sort the laundry into piles, Amos will perch atop the pile to which I have just added clothing and then leap on over to the next one.  It is some sort of game to him, to ensure that he rests atop every bit of dirty laundry.

Tonight, Becky inspired me to make a change to my sorting routine.  You see, I am a terribly lazy laundress and only sort out the whites, which I wash in hot water with bleach (gasp).  Everything else is just divided into equal piles and washed in cold.  None of that color nonsense for me.  However, tonight, I decided to group the non-whites by line dry and machine dry.  That means I will no longer have to stand at the washer and sort the wet items between those that go into the basket to carry upstairs and those that go into the dryer.  See how great it is to talk on the phone with Becky?

She inspires me and makes my life easier!!

Whilst we were talking, I spent the entire time yawning.  You see, I have not slept much since waking from a most terrible nightmare Wednesday morning.  Last night, I purposely stayed up all night.  I know that I shall not be able to do so again, even with the afternoon nap I took.  But I am quite terrified of having that same dream again.


It was a new theme for me.  Well, it was two old themes with a new twist.

I dreamt that my sister wanted me to go to my stepmother's house.  I have been dreaming this since my father died.  In the dreams, the house is some great big, ever expanding abode in which my step-mother is creating a museum/tribute to my father's life.  I wander through the rooms and learn new things about him ... things I never knew ... just like hearing such unexpected new things about my father at his funeral.

In my dream, my step-mother was living back in Houston.  When I was little, and we would travel to Galveston, we would cross over this one particular bridge that scared me.  I am not sure why, but in my dreams now, I often am forced to drive over bridges that are akin to the world's most scariest roller coasters.  It is horrifying to drive them and yet I never manage to find a route that doesn't take me to the highway with the bridge with steep grades, sheer drop-offs, and tight, spiraling curves.

This time, I insisted that I wasn't going to drive the bridge.  So, I was forced to walk it.  I could not have my wheelchair or my cane.  Often, in my dreams, the latter is taken away from me.  I walk and walk and walk and the pain in my legs grows so great and I fall to the ground.  But those around me force me to my feet, telling me that nothing is wrong with me, and make me try to keep walking.

Since it was the bridge, I was crawling through tunnels and hanging over the edge of drop-offs, clinging to them with my fingertips before falling to the rocky ground below.

The whole time I was traveling, I had Amos with me.  Yes, I had my first Amos nightmare.  And I never, ever, ever want to have one again.

Amos was ill, and I had taken him to the vet before I left.  However, his medication was making red spots on his skin.  I knew something was wrong and wanted to go home so that I could take him back to his vet.  But my sister wouldn't let me.  She made us go to my step-mother's house.  This time, it was a single story maze of rooms.

Amos was getting sicker, so I worked hard to figure out where the exit was and carried him to an emergency veterinary clinic.  They wouldn't see me, leaving us both sitting on the bench in the lobby.  At one point, a vet tech looked at him and said he was having an allergic reaction to his medication.  But she did not treat him.  Finally, I was shoved out the door with a new bottle of pills.

I tried them, but Amos was getting worse.  He was listless and sweating.  His skin became covered in blisters.  My sister wanted me to help with the latest exhibit room about my father, but I wept and told her I just wanted to go home and get Amos some help.  Finally, I made my way back to the emergency clinic.

At this point, I had Amos swaddled in my arms and was not sure how much longer he could make it.  When we got there, one of the vet techs pulled back the corner of the towel I had draped over his head the way he prefers it after one of his baths and told me that there was nothing anyone could do.  She said his body was filled with infection.  And then she pushed on one of the blisters that was covering his body.  One on top of his head.  When she did, it erupted in puss.  This putrid green goo started gushing from every blister on his body and Amos died in my arms.

I woke up screaming.
And shaking.
And vomited.

Even though I keep telling myself that Amos is alive, that the dream is not real, the agonizing loss of his death fills me with such great sorrow that I find it difficult to even breathe.  Needless to say, since awaking from the nightmare, I have spend copious amounts of time clutching my puppy dog.

The way I was taught to deal with nightmares is to rewrite them.  But so many of my most recent nightmares and night terrors are not ones I know how to rewrite.  I wouldn't know where to begin.  Like with this one.  There simply isn't a way to make a good story out of this.

My friend Mary tells me that the dreams are not of me, not who I am.  But I struggle to take that position.  I mean, there are so many elements that are my fears magnified and twisted beyond all boundaries of reality.  I would like to say the ones in which I am the devil's "right hand man" and kill those whom he directs me to kill, torture those whom he directs me to torture are not of me.  But, in those dreams, I am very skilled in killing and torturing.  And I do so without a speck of emotion.  Those people are nothing to me.  When it is aliens I am killing, I find no respite from the horror I feel when I awake, for I am still taking a life.

In many ways, as much as those terrify me for what they might speak about the state of my soul, the devil dreams are easier to take than the others.  And this one of Amos' death was the worst of the lot.

I cannot decide if it is better to wake up cowering and quaking in fear, nauseous and vomiting, or to wake up not knowing which world is real ... the dream world or this one.  Especially those that are about the houses.

This afternoon, I tried to keep myself awake by starting the sanding earlier.  I got to the 2/3rds mark on the porch floor before stopping.  It was starting to sprinkle and I had yet to get those bulbs in the ground.  The rain of Wednesday kept me from planting them then, but I figured that if they had any chance of surviving, I should get them into the ground before the rain really set in.

Eight holes.
Eight bulbs.
Eight fillings of bonemeal, fertilizer, soil, compost manure, and peat.
Eight toppings with mulch.

The rain was pouring down at this point and Amos very much wanted me to come inside.  He was on the back porch, getting more dusty.  But I have also put off re-potting the sedum hanging basket Marie's mother got me into a permanent basket.  Since I was already sweaty and filthy, I thought I would tackle that, too.  This plant.  This wonderful, amazing sedum!

Only the Botatical Gardens did a cheat.  It was not one plant in the basket, but three.  When I very carefully turned the fragile sedum upside down, instead of having a plant in the palm of my hand with fingers splayed between the strands, the three plants broke apart, roots in the shape of the square pots from which they obviously came, and crashed to the potting bench in the garage.

I wept.
Two large strands broke completely off.
Those little pod things came off in spades.

After a long while, I got the plant into the permanent basket.  I then put all the stray pods and the two large strands in a new pot, speaking words of encouragement and adoration over them as I did.  Just to be on the safe side, I used the GREEN, decorated-with-frogs pot that had some basil my realtor gave me already planted in it.  The basil is repotted in the plastic base of the sedum's original hanging basket.

All those stray pieces of sedum from the plat I bought for the pots in the front porch have rooted in the pot I stuck them into.  So, I am hoping that at least the strands will survive and grow a new plant.  I doubt the pots will do anything but wither and die, but I was not about to just throw them away.

I carried the basket to the front porch through the torrential downpour.
Then I carried the pot with the broken pieces to the front porch through the torrential downpour.
Then I decided to prune all the straggling-refusing-to-go-away stray trumpet vines in the ground cover of the beds that line the side of the house in the torrential downpour.
Then I moved the stray tulip that appeared next to the raised bed over to the bulb bed in the torrential downpour.
Then I pruned the rose bushes that are along the back of the garage in the torrential downpour.

I was soaking wet—though still sweaty—and filthy.  Amos was damp, stinky, and filthy.  So, I came inside, stripped in the kitchen, pulled the sheets off the bed, took a bath, bathed Amos, and crawled into the GREEN chair.

Marie and Paul were coming to fetch their dresser, so I texted Marie asking her to just let herself into the garage door, suggesting that she park behind the garage so they could just pop that dresser into the car and be done with it.  I was in my pajamas in the GREEN chair with a swaddled, snoring, sweet-smelling puppy dog and did not want to get dressed or do anything/say anything/be anything.  I mentioned the first part in my text, but not the second.

Amos awoke just before they arrived, so I had a chance to fetch the paint and stain and drawer knobs and such from the basement and set them atop the dresser so that Marie and Paul didn't have to wait until the next cooking day to have those things, too.  I was upstairs in the bathroom when I heard them come in the front door.

I was not gracious.
I was rather grumpy.
I was not clothed properly.

I hollered down the stairs at them that I had texted about parking in the back and leaving the garage door unlock.  Marie hollered back that they parked in the alley, but the garage was locked.  I hollered that I had just been in there so I was certain that the entrance door was unlocked.  Marie hollered that they were coming through the house because the gate was screwed shut.  I did try holler back that that the gate was not screwed shut, but rather there is a tension latch holding the gate against the pole.  You just squeeze it back against the fence (away from the pole) and it slips free of the holder and the gate swings open in either direction.  Only those words would not come to my mouth.  I LOATHE those moments when the words I want to say simply are not there.  I know what I want to say, what I want to describe or re-tell, but the words are simply not there.  So, I frantically pulled on clothing and came downstairs, with my wet hair and my puffy face (from all my tears), horrified by all that hollering I had just done.

I couldn't really explain that I stayed up all night because of the dream about Amos.  I texted it to Marie and Becky and Celia (my way of trying to calm down), but Marie is too busy with work to respond.  I didn't want to point that out.  I didn't want to say that I knew I was not going to be able to stay up again all night, so I had just finished exhausting myself and wanted nothing more than to try to avoid all thoughts and feelings until my last medication of the evening and could head up to bed. Marie would have understood.  She would.  But the work of trying to put it all together for her and for Paul was overwhelming me and I was struggling not to melt down in front of them.  Plus, I was ashamed at being grumpy when they first came into the house (because I LOVE that Marie and Paul will come in ... as if we are family of a sorts, as if my home is theirs, too).

Hey, Marie, I'm upset because Amos died a horrendous death in my arms and I saw more stuff about my dad and I had to go on the scary bridge and I'm the devil's second in command and I just about ruined that magnificent plant your mother gave me and I am so weary of sanding the back porch and yet there is no one else to do it for me and I actually got two birthday cakes and eating them has made me want to never have another Red Velvet Cake again, but I couldn't just throw the second one out and I am still thinking about Psalm 51, but I am not sure I should be thinking about it since I don't know anymore what faith is and I just know that I am another Saul (OT) and I am scared all the time about dying an eternal death and I am exhausted all the time and I don't want to sleep because I don't think I can survive another Amos nightmare and switching back to the erythromycin solution to save money has meant an even worse transition than switching to the pills and I broke the antique bone dish from my great aunt that I was using as a soap holder in the half bath today and I have this mucocele that keeps popping and coming back even bigger and more painful that I am ignoring because I am 99% sure that the blocked gland will have to be removed and I am utterly terrified about anesthesia after the last time waking up was so difficult so I am ignoring the problem and I feel guilty about wanting you to just slink in and take the dresser and slip away into the night and so really I am in no shape to interact with any human being on the entire planet.

That wouldn't work.

I went out to the garage and opened the automatic door for them. I also gave advice on the easiest way to pick it up and load it into the car without taking the drawers out.  Since the new knobs are not on it yet, the only way  to get them open and shut (I left them slightly open) is to grab the painted edges.  I was careful in painting those edges, but paint on wood scratches and peel.  That's a fact.  I wanted to help them delay that happening any time soon.  Then there was much awkward fumbling of words as I didn't know how to make up for the grumpiness and to not die of heat stroke before they left.  I had grabbed the thickest hoodie I own to cover my top.  Thick is great for when you are not properly clothed beneath it.  Thick is terrible for being outside in the summer.

I cannot wait to forget that part of today.

However, even though I was lost in watching mind-numbing, ridiculously bad sic-fi disaster movies, I am glad that Becky rang to talk a bit before she crawled into her own bed.  In a way, interacting fairly normally with her was a way to make up for the social disaster of a couple of hours before.  And there's the part about how I get to look forward to laundry being a bit easier on me in the future.

If I remember the new way to sort it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Diversification achieved...

Whilst talking with Becky yesterday, our conversation helped me to remember to set out chicken to thaw.  So, late last night, I whipped up a batch of Thai Honey Peanut Chicken, which I poured over Jasmine rice.  Today, I made the chicken part of Lemon Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki and Feta, since I already have the gyro dough made.  I also found a last bag of shell pasta in a different location from all the other pasta.  So, a batch of Pasta alla Vodka is in the freezer as well.  That means I now have 12 servings of pasta and eight servings of chicken dishes to diversify my stash of my favorites, making 10 different meal options at the present.  Diversification goal achieved!

It is a bit hard to just jar up this peanutty-tastiness for a latter time.  Still, I am happy this freezes so well.

I made a small tweak to the lemon chicken for gyros upon a later date.  I pulled out the chicken once it was cooked, but before the herb and lemon marinade reduced down to mere crustiness as I would have if folk were coming over to feast on these.  I then added a bit of cream to the pan and made a reduction out of the remaining marinade to capture that herby twang.  This way, I thought I could make a faux tzatziki sauce by mixing the creamy marinade, Greek yogurt, a dash of dill, and a bit of minced cucumber.  I did this because I cannot make up a batch of true tzatziki sauce and eat my way through it.  Also, I have little confidence that it would freeze well with the minced cucumber in it.

My goal for July's budget, even though I have still 9 days left of this month, is buy only dairy, fruit, vegetables, and beef for stew.  I have on hand the ingredients for an additional batch each of Chipotle Chicken Chili and Spicy Dr Pepper Pulled Pork.  Plus, I have four additional chicken breasts and some bacon for the odd recipe I might find.  And there are those two steak recipes I've been too chicken to try, though I may still have some missing ingredients to gather for them ... I can't remember.  Anyway, I want July to be a bit of a catch-up month grocery-wise.  Because I keep cooking ahead—my chief coping mechanism of late—I really do not know just how economical I can be with grocery spending.  Of course, part of that is due to being single.  Most of the recipes I have encountered serve between 4-8.  I'm always going to have some sort of stash, right??

We had some rain today.  With the sanded boards wet, I got a glimpse of just how beautiful the floor will be once it is finished.  Once the weather turns back.  Once the near-never-ending sanding is recommenced.  Once the restoration is complete.

With it too hot to sand the back porch floor at the moment, no need for cooking, the dresser finished, and the mass mailing completed, I am a bit of a loss as to how to distract myself from my thoughts and fears.  What I have chosen for the moment makes no sense.  I started watching Battlestar Galactica again.  Round 5 or 6??  Who knows.  But it, like a few other shows I know, is more like reading a book than watching television.  And it is, to me, a rather fascinating examination of faith and forgiveness.  Forgiveness in the face of the very worst of human flesh.  Faith in the inexplicable, in the mysteries that cannot be understood.  Love.  Hatred.  Loyalty.  Betrayal.  Sickness.  Health.  War.  Famine.  Pestilence.  Despair.  Rage. Annihilation.  The end of the world.  It's all in this believable, futuristic story.

What is life?
What is hope?
What is forgiveness?
What is faith?

Funny, in watching the first half of the pilot movie, I started weeping, thinking about the loss one character faces.  Her questions, her anguish so close to my own.  Is it odd that I find a particular kind of beauty in the story that is the modern re-telling of Battlestar Galactica?  Is it strange that I find it fitting that the machines believe in the one true God whilst mankind believes in many gods, in the Lords of Kobal?

Even though I am not sure what is right, what is true of me, I have been reading the Psalter, psalm by psalm, comparing the KJ  in my 1715 Bible, the KJ in my 1836 Bible, and my beloved NASB 1977 ... just looking at the differences in translation over time.  I also looked at three centuries worth of the Common Book of Prayer containing the Psalter.  Thinking about words and the Word.

For example, I considered Psalm 51, particularly verses 3 and 14.  Those were the ones that I noticed were softened, have been made less, in the Common Book of Prayer, the earliest version I have of which is 1881.  For I know my faults instead of my transgressions, in verse 3.  God of my health, instead of God of my salvation, in verse 14.

Faults.  Those are something that you can work on, improve, even eradicate.  Sin, not so much.  God of health??  Well, I cannot fathom why that would be a better prayer than God of my salvation.  Except that you can effect some measure of control over your health, you can contribute to it in some fashion.  To me, this is a particularly peculiar translation given that the first half of that verse is Deliver me from bloodguiltiness...

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation...
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou that art the God of my health...

Odd changes to me.  Odd that while they are in the Common Book of Prayer, they are not in the Revised Standard Version or the Revised Standard Version Anglicized.  I suppose folk think it is okay to change the translation of the Psalter in a prayer book, as long as it is not changed in the Bible?  Like I said, odd.  And, in my opinion, dangerous.

Words matter to me.
Both those I understand and those I do not.
I think they should matter to everyone.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Location or timing...

Pretty much all I have done since Sunday is sleep.  I mean, other than the FOUR hours I spent battling the wretchedness of having a chill.  [Dysautonomia stinks.]

Early morning I awoke so cold I was shivering.  My skin gets so very icy that if any of it touches another part of me, it makes the chill worse.  If the slightest bit of air touches my skin, the chill grows even worse.  And even though it is my skin that is icy, it feels as if the very core of me is frozen.

Frankly, I feel that Amos ought to put out more body heat than he does.  I wrapped myself around him, chilling him in the process, and gained little relief.  I put on several layers of clothes and socks and gloves to no avail.  Finally, I got out the electric blanket from the deacon's bench and cocooned myself inside on setting 10.

Yesterday, I slept until around 1:00-ish.  Took Amos outside for his business.  And then fell back asleep in the GREEN chair.  I woke three times, but essentially slept until 11:00 last night.  I was up for a short while and then back asleep until the chill set in.  Yes, I know that I have been grossly overdoing it.  But utter exhaustion has helped with the onslaught of nightmares and night terrors.

Oddly enough, when I fall asleep in the GREEN chair during the day/evening, I do not dream at all.  Is it location or timing???

The chair is not comfortable enough to sleep all night, else I would camp out there in the hopes of not having nightmares and night terrors.  I have thought about opening the couch and trying to sleep on the pull-out bed.  But to fetch the bedding, open it, and set it up is more work than I am interested in doing without knowing there would be a return on that investment of labor.

I napped again this afternoon, but have spent the evening working on a mass mailing.  It is the largest one I have done and so will take a few days.  Sometimes I like the monotony of folding, stuffing, sealing, labeling, and stickering because I can do so without thinking or feeling.  It is as if time stops or as if the whole world falls away and all that exists are the pieces of the mailing.  But my hands hurt after about an hour and three hours is the most I can do at a time now.  So, I do not like the reminder of my growing weakness.

I am an adherent of the Henry Ford model when it comes to mass mailings.  Instead of doing each piece one-by-one, I will fold everything, then stuff, then seal, then do one label, then the other label, and then the sticker.  Economy of motion and efficiency of labor has always been this lazy person's motto.  Whatever makes the job easier and quicker is my course of action.

I find it funny, then, when folk praise me for getting things done quickly or for being highly productive.  It is discomforting, truly, for me because the outcome really does stem from being incredibly lazy, from this deep dislike of wasting a single moment of labor if I do not have to do so.

In a way, that is why I have never really enjoyed team labor or team projects.  Inevitably, I end up doing the lion's share of work (especially on graduate school research projects with written outcomes) and the process is always strung out far longer than need be because of everyone wanting to have some sort of input so as to feel as if they helped, despite the fact that the actual labor of teamwork is rarely—if ever—equally borne by all members.

Two hundred pieces are now done.
Nearly four hundred to go.
Time for a nap before heading up to bed!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Stocking up...

I wanted to rest today.  I planned to rest today.  I just thought I would take care of a few things.  Mostly things for me.  Mostly.

I had been wanting to make some vegetable stock, so I sent myself an email last night to remind myself of that desire.

Like last time, I used the cooked-int-the-stock-making-process root vegetables (rutabaga, carrots, turnips, and parsnips) to make a bisque.

Mmmmm!  Tasty!  I will probably add a dollop more of cream when I heat up each serving.

So, here is my haul from the vegetable stock making endeavor, cooling a bit before I put on the lids and add them to my freezer.

I also wanted to make that recipe I created for Marie and Paul's freezer cooking a while ago.  So, I roasted up my final two butternut squashes.  I think they should be available all year round.  None of this seasonal cooking for me!

I must admit, I enjoyed making my Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat Milk Pasta a bit more since it was all slated for my belly.  My, I do believe this is a rather tasty dish!!

I actually think the pasta will be even more tasty for having been stored in GREEN mason jars, don't you??  Yes, GREEN mason jars!!!  Marie surprised me with them.  Oh, be still my beating heart!!  GREEN things do so warm the cockles of my heart, but I think GREEN mason jars for my freezer meals just might top the list.

In addition to the left overs, I have three servings of roasted butternut squash waiting for me in the freezer.

I wanted to make some more Pasta alla Vodka, since my supply of that is at an end, but I sort of exhausted myself with all that cooking and mess making and kitchen cleaning.  [And I would like some more shell pasta instead of the mezze penne I have on hand.]  I also want to make some more Thai Honey Peanut Chicken and some Lemon Chicken for the Lemon Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki and Feta so as to increase the variety of meal options in my freezer to 10.  Waiting is good, though, because once the stock has frozen, I can stack the bottles better and have more room in my freezer.

Did I mention that my lunch today was Grilled Corn on the Cob with Cheese and Lime?  More of a mess to clean up.  But more tastiness.  Too bad you cannot freeze that dish.  I do have three chicken breasts that I grilled using Kulp Spice Shoppe Smoked Grilling Herbs.  I actually had one of the owners (and my best friend) mail packages to my brother and my step-father so they could enjoy the fruits of her labors.  Boy do I enjoy mail-order shopping.  So easy!

I did watch the NASCAR race, doing nothing more than snuggling with my puppy dog.  And I painted the second coat on the dresser drawer fronts.

I might possible have moved the drawers to the garage and put them in the dresser, but I will not confirm that.  Moving drawers about ... or the dresser itself ... is on my forbidden activities list.  I was, however, able to take up the drop cloth in the basement and do the slightest bit of cleaning.  My working down there created such a mess.  SIGH.

I am not a polyurethane person, but the wood is so very dry and needs waxing or polishing.  I, however, have neither the tools or the skill for waxing.  I did apply copious amounts of orange oil, which dried almost immediately.  I only stopped because my bottle was emptying at an alarming rate.   In my opinion, even dry wood that is a bit dull is better than pink paint or any paint for that matter.  I do so like the paint color on the drawers.  Again, the photo is not so great, but it is one of those historical foundation colors and those are always—at least to me—so rich in depth, color with substance.  I cannot wait to see it with knobs and whatever dresser scarf (fabric) Marie chooses.

As for lugging the drawers out to the garage, if called to account for such action, I am going with the argument that they will finish drying better in the warm garage than the arctic basement.  Sounds good, eh?

Whilst painting, I kept thinking about both the back porch sealing job and the repair job on the basement steps (tackling the carpets that were drenched in the flood I caused).  Painting the drawer fronts, even working carefully, took very little time.  Yet I dropped the paint brush six times and the pinky and ring finger on my right hand went numb.  My hands really are getting weaker and things where I have to grip something small (like a paint brush handle) causes great pain (cramps) and results in numbness.

I suppose it is good, then, that Firewood Man came up with the idea of replacing the lattice on the back porch instead of my spending a year or so scraping it and then painting it.  I mean, I doubt we will tackle that anytime soon, especially since I would somehow like to scrape (pun intended) together the funds for it.  But just knowing that I will NOT be the one tackling that job is an utter relief.

Don't get me wrong, I love being a homeowner and have always savored tackling whatever jobs needed doing myself even though I oft wish I were wealthy enough for someone else to do the heavy share of the labor and I do the helping share.  But the clock on this particular homeowner's DIY labors is quickly running out.  Even for small jobs.

Sometimes ... rarely ... I wish I was the sort of person who could look at the wretched state of the back porch floor and not feel compelled to be a good steward of the property whilst in my possession.  I confess I am a bit discouraged seeing how much sanding is still needed and knowing the practically infinitesimal rate at which said sanding is taking place.

Did I mention that I got two quotes for sanding it?  Although both handymen admitted the job would take approximately a half hour, one wanted $500 and the other $600.  Even if each had to rent a sander and bear that cost, both quotes sounded like highway robbery to me.

August.  Surely it will be done by August??

My mother surprised me with eight frilly and utterly beautiful lily bulbs.  I have a bare spot in the center of the lily bed.  Four of them are even variegated.  However, all of them need to be planted.  SIGH.

This weary wanderer, though worried about the lack of distraction from her fearful thoughts, is actually glad that the next three days are going to be entirely too hot for me to sand between the hours of 8:00 and 9:00 PM.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Slow boat to China...

I thought I would tackle painting the drawer faces today, so that I had a clear accomplishment to put in my back pocket.  Yeah, uhm, seriously, I have decided that the dresser has taken offense at my man-handling of it.  Would you believe that 1) clearly whoever painted it pink put the knobs on whilst the paint was still wet and 2) there were bits of scotch tape on several of the drawer faces???  In short, removing the scotch tape took approximately 30 minutes, primarily because I forgot to turn around the blade in my razor blade holder (the grip end of a razor blade will not remove tape), and I had to get out my rubber mallet and whack away at the knobs once they were unscrewed to get them off of the drawers.

We won't discuss just how many times these drawers have gone up and down the basement stairs, but we can admire how nice they look now that they are lightly sanded and properly primed.  The paint Marie bought is a paint & primer mix, but that pink stuff was so weird that I felt rather strongly that I should break open my bonding primer and slap on a coat before commencing with the GREEN paint.

I watched one episode of Zen whilst priming and another whilst painting the first coat, which is very wet in the above photo.  The color is not really representative of its true nature, but perhaps if you concentrated on the drawer on the far left and thought deeper, richer, more olivish thoughts, you might know what they look like.

In between painting the primer and the first coat of paint, I tackled the rest of the prep work for the dresser.  After painting the first coat, I very deliberately washed the brush so that I would not be so hasty in painting the second coat.  I can be a very, very, very impatient painter.

I carried the dresser from the back porch to the back sidewalk, as opposed to trying to get it back down to the basement.  There, I stained it.  After many hours, I moved it to the garage to finish drying, since I did not want to leave it outside overnight.  I think, perhaps, it shall remain in the garage until Marie fetches it since I am sure to be in significant trouble for having moved it all over the place by myself.

Stain.  Well.  Will Marie like it???  I worry about that ... quite a bit.  I mean, maybe she would have been perfectly happy with a painted dresser.  She could have primed and painted over the pink, since it was not all that thickly painted.  However, painted dressers scratch on top.  They just do.  And, to me, once the attempt to scrape the paint off failed miserably, sanding down to paint again is just plain silly.

The thing is ... the wood.  It is two types and not that great quality.  So, will the end result be pleasing??  To me, I really like the idea of The Painted Drawer Dresser, though I would go frou-frou on the knobs.  Marie is being all design sensible.  But will she like it???  Of course, the good thing is that all someone has to do to wipe out all my feeble labors is to prime and paint the rest of it.

I think the part that is bothering me the most is the facing.  I am not sure, but I think those strips of wood are end edges rather than top grain.  By that I mean, they were impossible to scrape, sand, and stain.  SIGH.

Still, with a second coat tomorrow and some orange oil to treat the wood, Marie will actually be able to have a dresser when she arrives home.  I just don't want her to be lying in bed, unable to sleep, because I managed to ruin her free dresser.  After all, my vision for how things should be is clearly in the minority ... oft a minority of just one.

The back porch.  SIGH.  I have limited myself to just one hour a day of sitting on the back porch and sanding.  The progress—or lack thereof—makes me feel like I am on a slow boat to China.  I had hoped to be done by July, but I am not so sure that can happen.

I wanted so badly to finish that section between the two doors, but all I managed to do was to get about 2/3rd of the way there.  Granted, this is the very worst part of the back porch, but there are still more boards in poor shape to come.  I predict that tomorrow's sanding will only net me finishing that patch in front of the door to the kitchen.

I thought I would note that my Easter Lilies decided to finally make their appearance.  Well, some are still thinking about blooming, but I now have this splash of color.  I sort of wish the day lilies bloomed early so they could all color my yard together, but I still have just buds on the day lilies.

Finally, because I am an odd sort of gal, I thought I would add this photo I took of my shadow last night.

That's my night shadow whilst taking night photos.  Like this one.  Of the tree.  The tree I pruned, though Firewood Man is not going to believe me.

I pruned it at about 3:00 in the morning when Amos decided he needed to go outdoors.  He took so long to execute his need that I got out the pruning sheers and brought the bottom of the magnolia tree back up to the height of the fence.

Interestingly enough, after wee-hours-of-the-night-pruning, I did not have any further nightmares.