Friday, October 31, 2014

A little bit of cleaning and organizing does a body good...

You know the movie "The Birds"?

You have to peer closely to see the masses of birds in that ginormous tree, but the sounds you hear are their exchanging neighborhood gossip!


For one who has whacky blood sugar crashes, oft due to responses to food magnified/skewed by dysautonomia, I found this article to be great news.  The point:  left over pasta is healthier for you because the heated starches become resistant to breakdown into simple sugars, resulting in less calories.   In the study, the blood sugar spike/glucose response was 50% less in reheated left overs!!  How cool is that?!  So, that means, for me, my freezer food cooking is both healthier and safer when it comes to the pasta dishes that I make!

Speaking of freezer cooking, Wednesday I finally divided up the chicken I bought on Tuesday.  No matter that the packaging is marked "boneless skinless" chicken, I still have trimming to do.  Yesterday, whilst I was working on that, and matching smaller breasts with large ones so that my divisions came out more equal, I got the rather brilliant idea of putting four in one bag, since it takes four breasts to make the Chipotle Chicken Chili.  You see, whilst I will reuse ziploc bags that have had scrapes or bread or anything that is not raw meat in them, I do not reuse raw meat bags.  This saved me two quart bags and took up one of the old pizza gallon bags I had in there (yes, I mark up my bags).

The other idea I had was to go ahead and make more of the chicken for Lemon Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki and Feta, since I had put the last container of that in the refrigerator to thaw for my meal today and I had all this not-yet-frozen chicken meat in front of me.  For the first time, I made a double batch, and even stretched it from 8 servings to 9.  Of course, that will make my gyro dough balls not match up to my lemon chicken servings.  The best part about making the chicken was that I used oregano and thyme from my raised herb bed!

Since I was tired after "processing" my packages of chicken, the lemon chicken marinaded for about four hours.  I always let it marinade the minimum of one hour, but letting it go longer sure is tasty!  When I ate my gyro today, I was giddy at the thought of my freezer having all those servings back in it.  I do so enjoy the thought of balance in there.

My next lowest meal options are black bean soup and pulled pork for tacos.  That is okay about the latter, because ... well, I forgot I had bought the pork for this last month and bought it again this much.  Of course, I do have a most firmly held belief that one simply cannot have pulled pork tacos too often.

My contraband item this month was Honey Nut Chex.  Whilst I truly do savor chowing down on the stuff, as a monthly contraband item, it is rather disappointing in that the box is gone in the blink of an eye.

Last night, I had a bowl of Malt o'Meal for the first time in eons.  I had forgotten how much I love the stuff.  Oh, how I loathe that kind of forgetting.  I heard someone mention it the other day and promptly added it to my grocery list.  As with Cream of Wheat, I always make it with half milk/half water.  And lots and lots and lots of butter and brown sugar, of course.  I don't get why folk think it is strange that I like Malt o'Meal.

Or peanut butter on carrot sticks, for that matter.

I had the Malt O'Meal to warm me up in order to spend some time on the airing porch.  Amos believes he should have had a bowl, too!

Anyway, budget wise, I did fairly well, even with the need for further milk and cucumbers later in the month.  I spent $125 on groceries and household.  That $25 below my lowest-ridiculous-target number and $50 my barely manageable, still rather low target number.  I did have my first inkling of what it is like to be beyond the donut hole.  Celebrex dropped from $220 to $23!  Now, before the donut hole it was $90.  Then $220.  Now, $23.  What the pharmacist could not tell me is if the Erythromycin was affected by being out of the donut hole since it was just under $2 different.  I think that ringing up the erythromycin tipped me past the donut hole and the price change was just market fluctuation.  If that is the case, picking up prescriptions next month might be a cause for much celebration.

The other drug that was affected was the larin.  It is $18 cheaper in the donut hole, so I have been picking it up as soon as possible in order to, hopefully, end up ahead two packets worth (42 days) going into next year.  Beyond the donut hole, the larin dropped another $15.50!!

What does that mean Myrtle math wise?  By the end of December, I will be able to replace my broken glasses ... almost.

The hard part is that I really, really, really want to understand what my medication costs will be next year.  I know roughly what they are before the donut hole.  I know what they are in the donut hole.  But I think I will not know what they are beyond the donut hole until I pick them up again November 27th and see if the Erythromycin is affected at all.  But, whist I do know that, with the Erythromycin, I will hit the donut hole faster next year, and thus greatly increase my monthly medication cost more quickly, I will also get beyond the donut hole sooner.  Not really understanding how the math works, even though I receive monthly reports, I think that I will hit the donut hole in April and get beyond it in August.  I wish there was a way to know what the yearly medication cost will be and then just average it out.  Right now, I have no clue what to set aside as a monthly savings, come January, for when I am in the donut hole.

Have I mentioned that I loathe math??

Today, I spent quite a bit of time cleaning up in the garage.  Even though Firewood Man is not finished, I organized all of the remaining construction materials.  I put away the wood that is still usable and the largest remaining piece of lattice.  I went through everything in the garage, to re-evaluate if I still need it.  And I swept the walls and the floor.

One of the things I cleaned and organized is this cabinet.  The locker portions are metal and the drawers wooden, with all sorts of dividers in them.  I used the large locker to put the left over soil, peat, and compost manure bags from when I filled the raised herb bed.  It also has a smaller cubical inside where I put the partial bag of ice melt.  I used the upper left small locker to store some shelves that I found in the basement utility closet and think might one day be of use.  [After all, Marie used one of my pieces of shelving to organize a workspace in her apartment last spring.]  I used the upper right locker to store the tarp I had to buy in Alexandria for something and have never found a home for since (it was too expensive to just discard).  And I used the lower left locker to store the partial bag of lawn fertilizer.  Since Firewood Man tends my yard, I no longer need it.  But none of my neighbors have wanted it and I, again, don't want to just throw it away.  Does lawn fertilizer expire???

[Yes, that is a plunger that you see against the wall.  I found a total of eight plungers when I moved into the house.  I kept one for each floor of the house and put an extra in the garage just in case.  The rest went to early visitors.]

[I know that is a large pile of lawn refuse bags to have left with winter just around the corner, but the burning bushes still need to be seriously pruned once they are naked.]

I couldn't finish cleaning and organizing the middle part of the workbench area because I did not want to step on the un-cut piece of lattice.  That is $30 I get back from Lowe's once Firewood Man returns it for me!

At the tippy-top of the photos, you can see the uncut 2x2s and the 1x4 that are left over from projects.  Although I do not have any other work left on my house that could possibly use them, you might notice that the wood scraps holding them up and the ones holding up all the screen door sections above the work bench are hung crooked.  Firewood Man doesn't know it yet, but I would like him to use the last of the wood to knock down those haphazard "shelf" supports and put up fresh ones.

I am of two minds about those two GREEN chairs for outdoor events.  I never go any place anymore, so if someone could use them, I think they should be passed on to a new owner.  But maybe someday someone might take me somewhere, to some festival or something, and I would need a seat.  Plus, they are GREEN, after all.  I will not discuss just how many times I've put them in my car to take to the donation center—even driven them to the donation center—only to take them back out a while later.

This might not look like visual rest, but believe me ... it most certainly is!  The brown bin, the contents of the trash can, and all those boxes Tim is going to take away once he is done (i.e., his truck bed is no longer filled with 1,001 tools and saws he needs to work here).  The very minute the handrail on the stairs is finished, those bags of mulch are going around the porch to cover up the bare earth (mud when wet).  That bundle of wood are the balusters that Tim is no longer able to avoid making the angled cuts for the stair railing!!  So, all of that, now arranged very neatly, will soon be gone, gone, gone!

Anyone need any bricks??  Those were left behind here and I cannot find a home for them.  SIGH.  I don't plan on keeping all those little scraps of wood painted the house red forever, but I do plan on keeping them until next spring or so until we are absolutely sure they are not needed for anything.

In case I never mentioned it, those boxes holding the kindling for my fires that Firewood Man spent a long, long, long time splitting down for me, are WWII ammunition boxes.  That still surprises me.

Anyway, I can envision the balusters, the mulch, the construction debris, and the boxes all gone, so this is an organized space to me.  All the scraps we are keeping for the moment are tucked between studs in two locations and none of the scrap wood that has been atop the extension ladder since Firewood Man built the closet in the basement living space has been relocated to a more appropriate location (mentioned above).

How is that for close parking??  If you know me at all, you will be in awe of what a miracle it was that I did not knock over the sawhorses and all the wood.

The pile on the workbench at the back wall and the last deck board on the sawhorses are returns to Menard's.  I sure am thankful for anything we get to return and reduce the cost of this easy-project-turned-save-the-back-of-Myrtle's-house endeavor.

One of the things that I had hung on a garage wall and forgot about when I moved here was the external auto CD player with a cassette speaker interface and motion-stabilizing platform from my previous car.  Magnavox.  Great quality.  I never knew what to do with it, because I loathe throwing away perfectly usable technology.  However, who in the world would want such an ancient device?  It turns out, I would!  Actually, I very much wanted the very lightweight headset I found in the case.

Light weight.
Headset not earbuds that constantly fall out of my ears.
Lightweight headset that bows away from the sensitive nerves on either side of my head.

Oh, my!  What a find!

I decided to put the auto CD for cassette players contraption in the donation bag I started when I spent two days dusting upstairs a while ago and went through all the closets again.  Maybe ... just maybe ... someone might could use it.  And I went inside and listened to a TV show without any pain and yet able to hear all the sounds!  I was also happy to have my vehicle back in the garage, instead of outside where all sorts of bits of no-longer-growing things are falling and sticking to it.

It still needs a bath though.
As does Amos.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Not quite, but close...

Firewood Man slaved over here from 11:00 AM to 6:30 PM!  We are not quite done, but are much, much, much closer.  Of course, more than an hour of that time was spent trying to figure out how to do the handrail for the steps.  You see, the way that they are hung means that the lower railing could not match the same height as the porch lower railing because the steps are in the way.  The incline is odd.  Yet the steps are the way that they were and what is best for me, just shorter.

The first step is just slightly lower and the last step is the same as all the rest.  If the steps were flush with the porch, the last step would be about four inches higher than all the rest.  If the first step was the larger step, so that the railing could continue its run as is, then the last step would have to be changed as well.  And, even though Tim would do it, I was not about to have my new steps taken apart and rehung a bajillion times until we figured out a way for the railing to work.

So, Tim decided to run the railing out straight for the first step, and then run the rest at the incline.  That makes sense since the first step is just a bit down and is often a place where I pause and holler at Amos to tend to his major business.  I actually grew fond of the idea.  However, I was not fond of the idea of a 4x4 post supporting the end of the flat section because the post is larger than the railing itself.  My idea was to glue two railing pieces together so that the jury-rigged post would be the same size. But Tim pointed out that we had leftover sections of 4x4 that were already paid for and more railing would mean spending more money.

Truth time, I might have pouted just a bit over the 4x4.  I know this because Tim finally suggested that he take the 4x4 posts home and put them on his table saw to resize them and then run his router down the edges so that they will more closely match the handrail.  Of course, Tim really is a perfectionist himself, so he is not opposed to the extra work.  After all, I actually tried to talk him into just having a four inch gap on the bottom rail of the stairs and have it mismatched up at the posts on the porch deck.  He was adamant that no railing of his was going to be mis-matched.  I was, however, adamant that he was not going to be tearing apart the stairs.  I love my news stairs.  They are the same as before so that my walking memory pattern fits, but they no longer wiggle and jiggle and move about as you walk on them.

If you look at this photo carefully, you will see that the sides of the new stairs are resting on the original footer:  mortared brick.  In front of the stairs is this ginormous hunk of concrete.  Whoever put in the last set of steps, not only failed to put in a middle support piece for the stairs, but also just dumped concrete on either side to hold them in place.  I have loathed the concrete that has jutted up from either side of the steps for as long as I have lived here.  Mulch does not work as a covering because rain always washed it away.

I talked Firewood Man into removing it before putting in the sides of the stairs.  I did make a solid argument for using the original footer on the sides as we did on the front.  Plus, I pointed out all the extra cuts it would take to make the boards fit over the jagged top of the concrete.  Tim loathes extra cuts.

This is almost all of the other side of the steps concrete mess that Tim will eventually load into his truck and dump for me.  I am not sure how he is going to lift the one above that is still next to the steps.

I thought that Tim was going to leave around 5:00, but he stayed late to get the lattice up below the airing porch.  Does not the back of my house look just wonderful??  As you can see, the stair hand rails and the cover board for the facia still need to be installed.  The sad part, to me, is that I just don't think either the upper or lower facia will be painted the house red before spring.

It is a bit too dark to see, but the left side of the porch (looking from the yard) has only a 1x6 trim on the bottom.  The other two sides have two 1x6 boards.  In part, this is because the yard slope a bit.  IN part, this is because I really, really, really wanted to leave a way for Baby Bunny to get back to his home beneath my porch.  Tim put a double 1x6 at the corner for about six inches, so that, from the front, the corner matched.  I doubt anyone but me would notice the difference, especially once all the mulch is replaced.

When Tim was working on the lattice below the decking of the airing porch, he needed me up there to stick my arm through the railing and hold things in place.  Whilst lying on my back, I admired the clouds.  We had a storm rolling in and so we were racing the weather to finish.

At one point, earlier in the day, Tim wasn't happy with how the lattice was looking, since it is now a thinner I-NEVER-HAVE-TO-PAINT-IT vinyl.  So, he lay on the ground and shimmied himself beneath the lattice so that he could use his nail gun to secure the lattice from the back side in several places.  Oh, man!  Did I ever want to take a video of him doing that!!

The only disappointment of the day is that Tim did not have effusive adulation for my paint job on the airing porch.  Tim actually does not have effusive adulation for anything, being one of the most taciturn person I have ever met.  But ... I wanted effusive adulation.  [Feel free to put some in the comments section here.]

The rough part of the day was when I fainted because my blood pressure tanked due to the waste in my innards pressing on the vagus nerve as it passed by.  I HATE that part of dysautonomia.  There is just no gentile way to explain why you are lying on the ground.

"Myrtle, what happened?"
"It is just my blood pressure tanking. Don't worry"
"Can't you take medication for that?"
"No.  There's no medication out there for broken nerves. Think about all the billions of dollars poured into spinal nerve research because of the prevalence of paralysis.  We might know how to map the human genome, but we cannot repair severed spinal cords or mal-functioning autonomic nerves.  The fainting is a vesovagal response.  In layman's speak, I oft faint when poop is at the lower end of my large intestine because it's pressing against my vagus nerve and my vegas nerve doesn't always work well.  I also oft faint whilst I am pooping.
[Dead and awkward silence follows.]

Truly, having a malfunctioning, hypersensitive vagus nerve makes for a vastly wretched life at times.
And embarrassing.
And isolating.

Tim also got to see me melt down before I was going to leave to fetch my prescriptions.  I called, just to let them know I was coming and to make sure the odd-date one that fell on the 27th this time was filled.  It turns out that all my prescriptions were somehow taken off auto-refill.  And the temporary pharmacy tech tried to tell me that they were not refilled because it was not time for me to get them.  I've been picking them up on the 27th for over two years now.

She kept calling me "honey" and "sweetie" and trying to tell me that once I had more experience with insurance I would better understand how refills work.  I wanted to ... well, let's not go there.  But I did start weeping (that darned brain of mine) and asked to speak to the pharmacist.  The one who cares for me so well is out on maternity leave, but the one who was there knows me.  Yet she didn't tell me that she was sorry the auto-refill was removed somehow or that the prescriptions were not filled or that she knew I always come in for them or reference any of the 1,001 times she and I have gone over my prescriptions.  In fact, she is the one who asked me to have them all re-written again last December so that they would all need new prescriptions as the same time.  All she did was ask which ones I wanted.

I had started the phone call sitting in the rocking chair of the back porch.  Once I was being told I just needed to learn more about insurance, I moved inside to hide my meltdown.  But Tim already knew I was crying.  He was laughing when I came back outside.  Not in a bad way, though.  He gave me the nail gun and told me to go shoot some of the scrap wood for a while.

Because he worked so late, I missed the opportunity to get to the pharmacy tonight.  Had they been ready, I could have popped over during the time Tim didn't need me to hold onto the other end of long boards (i.e., when he was siding the stairs).  I am so happy about the lattice being up and so frustrated over the prescription debacle, I don't even care that I am going to be missing two doses of my medication (12:00 AM and 6:00 AM).

I do hope that my innards can hang on without the erythromycin.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Crying wolf...

I feel like saying "I'm done!" is a bit like crying wolf.  I haven't been able to be done.  And, technically, I won't be done until the railing and posts painting is completed next Spring.  However, I seriously just have to be done.

Last night, after Firewood Man left and I posted and I sat down for a while, I got to thinking about the steps.  And, basically, how I don't have any more scraping in me, just like I don't have any more sanding in me.  So, I went outside and applied the last of the second can of stripper, saving just a bit of goop in case something crops up.

This is the best that they are going to be, save for whatever else comes off when Tim power washes them for me.

That's my best.  Actually, it is more than my best.  And I am ever so weary of being in pain and exhausted because of trying to do work.  The steps are far more safe now, with rough concrete exposed on probably 90% of the surface and all the places were some layered paint is left being rather small patches that could not possibly cause a slip.  Somehow, that stupid railing will get painted.  I just don't know how, at the moment, having never painted metal.

My neighbor had a good idea about that idiotic stripe of grey paint on either side of the steps that was impervious to the goop and my scraper.  She suggested that I get two sample colors that match my brick, perhaps a reddish brown and a grayish black.  Then, I could paint the stripe the reddish brown and use a rag to dab on some black to mottle it up a bit to better match the bricks.  Brilliant!  If I can do so before the weather changes, I might.  Otherwise ... next Spring.  I am grateful, though, to have a good plan for that remaining eyesore.

I am sure others would not like the steps, but I do not mind them all stained.  They are almost 95 years old, after all.

To emphasize just how done I am with scraping, I got in my car and drove all the way over to The Home Depot last night to return the third can of paint stripper goop and the chip brush I had bought to give the steps a final going over.  I know me.  If the can remained in the house, my homeowner guilt would goad me into doing all the steps again.  Bending over is not good for me.  Scraping is not good for me.  Working is not good for me.  Thus, I declare these steps done.

[Is not my aerial view of the neighborhood's fall foliage simply spectacular??]

So, too, do I declare the airing porch.  About half-way through the job, I doubted my ability to finish painting the second coat.  The temperature was warmer and the sun bright, but I was in the shade ... the very, very, very breezy shade and was getting too cold.  I pressed on, however, and managed to finish.  In fact, since the painting took me just over four hours, the very first thing I did was to paint a first coat on the post caps and the very last thing I did was to paint a second coat on them, counting on that very stiff breeze to cover for my speedy painting with that wonderful-but-takes-ever-so-long-to-dry paint.

I pulled up the blue painter's tape.  I threw out all of my trash.  I cleaned up my brushes and pan and roller and pouring lip.  I carried my work basket back down to the basement and put all the various and sundry tools and supplies I had accumulated upstairs back into their places.  I put the steamer lounger and the wine crate back outside.  And then I told Amos that we were done with working on the airing porch.

Hopefully, Firewood Man will come over tomorrow and his part will also be done.  I am too tired to remember if I mentioned that we discovered, sadly, that we did not properly plan for all the red trim wood.  The base of each porch is going to need to be painted.  Well, the lower porch will be veneered to cover the bolts, but Tim will do that tomorrow, so that part will need to be painted.

I started weeping over the airing porch fascia painting.  Mostly because I should have done it whilst the railing was not up. I had a week ... or more?? ... before the railing went up.  I could have painted it fairly easily by lying down atop the decking and leaning over with a roller.  Now, it will require a ladder.  Tim hates painting, because everyone asks him to do so.  But I might just beg him to paint that part for me.  The thought of climbing up and down and up and down an extension ladder over and over and over again to work my way around the porch at least twice is just too overwhelming for me.

We were both disappointed to realize all our careful planning had a great big hole in it.

How are the slippers, Myrtle??  Wonderful!!  I have not tripped whilst walking across my floors since I started wearing those Nufoot slippers I found at Menard's when I went to fetch a trim roller.  I can barely tell that I am wearing them, so I find them to be exceedingly comfortable.  But the safety factor has amazed me.  When that rebate comes, I am definitely getting a second pair.

So, here I am, exhausted at 8:30-ish, longing for midnight to roll around so that I can take my last dose of medication.  Probably a nap or two is going to happen between now and then.  I blanched myself in the shower again and am drinking a pot of tea.  Hopefully, I will warm up soon.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Getting closer...

The posts are cut!  The posts are cut!!  The posts are cut!!!

Another round of paint on the morrow and the airing porch is done!!!  [At least my part is.]

The steps are all boarded.  Firewood Man admitted that he's putting of the angled cut of the handrail until the last possible minute.  He made progress on putting up the lattice.  As I put it, the dead bodies buried beneath the porch can no longer reach up their arms through the creepy debris down there and grab me.

The trim work is still ongoing.  We realized that we had forgotten the boards to cover the facia board (and those ugly bolts).  That will need to be painted.  However, I think I might try to do it after it is installed.  Because ............ Tim is almost certain he will finish on Monday.

For my part, I supervised, held boards level as he matched them up, squealed in terror each time he cut something by holding a board across his leg, put proper screws into the firewood rack (the ones that came with it were not really wood screws), added the padding to the bottom of the rack so it will not scratch the porch floor, helped clean up work debris, and did a bit of weeding whilst cajoling Amos to tend to his business even though lots of scary noise was being created by all of Tim's work.

Tim stopped to admire my burning bushes.  [Please ignore the gutter lying on the ground, as it cannot go back up until the facia board is painted.]  Just look at that GREEN grass!!!!!!!!!

Whilst the grass has grown back toward my bench three stepping stones worth since Tim started tending my yard for me, there is still bare ground that can get muddy, even though it does have a covering of fallen leaves from the evergreen trees I have back there.  Since I complained about Amos' muddy paws, Tim brought over a ginormous bag of pine needles for me to lay down as cover over the winter.  No more muddy paws!  What a kind man he is!!

Amos doesn't quite know what to do with or think about the pine needles.

Tim left about 4:00 PM today.  For the briefest of moments I thought about trying to squeeze in that second coat of paint before dark fell, but I am exhausted from all my helping and puttering and imagining the cutting of fingers and limbs.  I thought it would be smarter of me to just wait until tomorrow to paint.

Sometimes, the intelligent part of my brain is still working, eh?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Lessons learned...

The first coat of paint is now on the upper railing.

I am hoping that I will be able to get the second coat on this weekend.  Very much so hoping.

In painting my first railing, I have learned quite a few lessons.  The first is to hire a painter if you can!  If not, then consider the following:

  • Resign yourself to a lack of perfection in your end result.  A good job is a success.
  • Unless you completely cover your standing surface, resign yourself to having to clean up splatters.
  • Resign yourself to having bugs land on your paint.
  • Allow yourself the freedom to not hand brush the balusters.
  • To roll the balusters, use a trim roller for greater control and less splatter.
  • If leaning over a railing to roll the balusters, use a 1 foot extension pole.
  • Painting hastily will result in greater splatter and take longer than painting with a slow and smooth rhythm.

As far as painting a railing goes, I found the following order to make today's painting to go much faster than the priming of the day before.  In fact, I finished more than an hour less than priming, even though I was painting more carefully.  The proper roller and the one-foot extension pole I found in my basement utility closet did help immensely, but the following order of painting had me zipping through each section with only one splatter of paint that missed the brown paper I put below the railing to catch drips and splatters:

  • Work only on one section of railing at a time.
  • Lean over the top of the railing and paint the underside of the edge of the railing.
  • Return to your starting place, lean over the top of the railing, and paint about two inches of the top of the back of each baluster.
  • Return to your starting place, sit down, reach through the balusters, and paint the outside of the bottom rail and about two inches of the bottom of the back side of the baluster.
  • Return to your starting place and paint the front side of the bottom rail and about two inches of the other three sides of the bottom of the balusters.
  • Return to your starting place, lean over the railing, and roll the back of the post and the balusters. 
  • Return to your starting place, sit down, and roll the other three sides of your balusters, as well as the front and inside of your post.
  • Return to your starting place and brush the bottom railing.  As you move along, brush the outside edge, turn the brush to the side and cut along the top edge of the railing in front of the balusters, and then finish by brushing the middle of the railing between each baluster.
  • Return to your starting place, stand, and brush the top railing.  Brush the entire outside edge, then brush the entire inside edge, and then finish with a smooth brush coat on the top of the handrail.
  • Move to the next section and repeat.

I am feeling far less despairing about finishing.  I hurt so very much on Thursday, following Wednesday's priming.  I wept quite a bit about finishing the job.  However, now I know that it is possible—weather permitting—without as much pain and distress as the priming.

I really needed to prime and paint the outside of the door to the airing porch, but I "cheated" and used the paint left over in the tray and on the roller and brush to get a light coating over the greyed and weathered old paint.  Maybe next Spring I'll do a proper job.  But, for now, I no longer have to look at the dirty door.

Since the gutter downspout will (hopefully) be reattached soon, I also primed and painted that one side of the porch support.  That way, next spring I will not have to ask Firewood Man to remove the gutter downspout again to paint.  I am fairly confident having just one side of the post will not affect its ongoing drying process.

I still need to prime and paint the post caps.  I have thoughts of priming them tonight, after a bit of a nap, but I have already showered and am in my pajamas.  I also have yet to figure out how to set them up off the painting surface so that I can paint the bottom edge.  I really, really, really do not want to wait to paint them in place.  Because, if I wait, then those posts are never going to get trimmed.  Something will come up again and again and again.

[I should get brownie points for not getting out my handheld circular saw and trying to trim them myself.]

My inordinately expensive glasses broke today.  I've needed another prescription since June-ish, but I am frustrated that my "new" glasses were only effective for about six months.  Right now, I have tape around the nose piece, along with a clear twisty tie holding the two halves of my glasses together.  I don't have another $600 for a new pair.  SIGH.

I didn't even weep.  I am so resigned to breaking things now.  I did manage to superglue the antique bone dish that I was using for a soap dish in the half bath. I refuse to throw that away.  I also repaired my hummingbird pot that was a birthday gift from my realtor.  Firewood Man first broke off one of the hummingbird's wings.  Then, after moving it to a safe place, he broke off the handle.  I just laughed.  At least, I was not the one doing the breaking for once.

Okay ... I stopped typing and got to priming.  Once I did, I realized that I actually do want to paint them whilst they are on the posts because painting one half, then waiting for it to dry to paint the other half would take eons with that special paint.  Just splitting the priming has taken all evening.

Don't they just look all lovely, eh?  Ready for paint on the morrow (hopefully) for those five on the right.  As long as Firewood Man makes it bake here and as long as he has time to trim down the airing porch posts and as long as the weather holds.

I wasn't going to do the ones for the steps handing rail, but then I figured that I might as well.  Less priming later.  Maybe a set of primed post caps will be a promise of a finished porch next spring ... paint finished that is.  Surely ... surely by next weekend everything on the back porch will be done.


If I really want to drive myself nuts, I will start thinking about the trim board for the lattice on the airing porch.  It has yet to be bought.  So, it has yet to be primed and painted.  That, at least, I can do in the garage.  And that, at least, Firewood Man should be able to then pop over and put in place in an hour or so.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Only two...

Whilst trying to sleep, I had an idea about the railing on the airing porch.  About those screw holes that I did not really sand and had planned to just leave alone.  The idea involved the first hammer I ever owned, a small gadget hammer I got when I was a teenager.

It was an advertising promo for one of the manufacturers at the showroom where my mother worked, with a screwdriver hidden inside. If you look at it, one side is this pointed end.  I used a regular hammer to pound the smaller hammer's pointed end into the screw hole, pushing in all the wood bits and splinters.  Then I used my DAP DryDex filler and putty knife to fill in the holes.  VoilĂ !  I will now have a relatively smooth railing with very little work on my part.  And, importantly, the next homeowner will not have ill thoughts about my laziness on the airing porch finishing work.

Hopefully, I will be painting tomorrow (which is Friday, not Wednesday).
And Saturday.
Fingers crossed.

My neighbor introduced me to a quick and dirty dessert:  Strawberry Cake Mix Cookies. Mmmmmmm.  Who needs homemade when you can have such tastiness in just 20-25 minutes start to finish?????

I had to get milk before my next budget cycle on Monday, but I was using the rebate from Wal-Mart's Savings Catcher App.  So, I went ahead and bought strawberry cake mix.  Stir together the ingredients.  Drop the dough by spoonfuls in a small bowl of powdered sugar.  Place on a baking stone.  Cook.  Try not to eat them all in one sitting.

The cooking time my neighbor uses is 10 minutes.  The first tray I let go to 12 minutes before panicking and pulling them out.  They were not yet done.  In my oven, these take 14 minutes to cook.  These are from the second tray.  They are soft and strawberry and just plain awesome.

Firewood Man came to mow today, and got started on the steps.  Maybe.  Maybe Saturday he might could come and finish.  The lower posts are in, as well as all the treads.  All but one of the vertical boards are installed.  The sides and railing are still to go.

And the lattice.
And the red trim boards.
I miss parking in my garage.

After Tim left, thinking it was Tuesday, I went over to Menard's to get a smaller roller for painting the railing so that I could try painting on Thursday, when there was going to be nicer weather.  I was trying to use my supplies on hand, but the four inch roller I have is just too large.  There was lots of splattering from paint on either end where the roller was not in contact with the baluster.  I am hoping having a smaller roller will actually make the process go faster.  However, I would like to brush paint the sides and front of the balusters.  I think.  At least, that is my plan.

On the way home, I was talking with my sister and she mentioned that it was Thursday.  I was stunned.  But I was glad that she mentioned how full her Thursday are because Thursday nights are when I put out the yard trimming bags for collection.  Since they are paper, I cannot put them out on wet days/nights.  I have six of those ginormous bags crowding my garage.  As I was driving, at a stop light, I wrote myself a reminder on a sticky note and stuck it to my windshield.  That way, when I got home, I remembered to put the bags out for collection.

Anyway, at Menard's—that wildest of hardware stores I have ever experienced—I found some footie slippers that I think are the best things in the entire footwear industry ... save for my brown leather boots.  The slippers are neoprene (isn't that what a dive suit is???), slip over the foot with a strap across the top, and have non-skid bits on the bottom.

I do not like slippers with hard soles.  I walk around in socks all the time, before because I never went barefoot and now because of the Reynaud's (my feet turning blue from cold).  However, my socks catch on the small nails that pop up in my old, old, old wood floors.  I trip.  My socks get holes.  And I get frustrated.  Those essential wool socks for cold months are $8 a pair.

I've been wearing the slippers atop my socks ever since I got home. They are flexible and comfortable and are barely noticeable.  I have not, however, tripped once!  Plus, the bottoms of my socks will not get so dirty!!

I got them for less at the hardware store, but these are the slippers I got:  Nufoot Mary Jane Slippers.  I have a rebate to Menard's coming.  I think I would like to get a second pair.  They come in GREEN.  I chose black today, to be sensible and practical.  Sometimes, it's good to be insensible and impracticable.
Thus far, I've had only two of those strawberry cookies that came out of the oven nearly five hours ago.  How's that for will power???

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Call me stupid...

We keep getting these magical combination forecasted days that then fail to appear, but are re-forecasted just a few days hence.  I was determined to use the above 50 degree temperature to get the airing porch railing primed.  Just call me stupid.

[The posts are primed only to the trim line.]

After a one-section learning curve, I figured out how to not smear any more bits of bonding primer to my sealed decking.  I have three spots to scrub off if I can.  If you look closely at the first knot hole (starting from the bottom of the photo) on the third decking board from the outer railing, you will see one of my three dusky patches where the sealer was not quite dry before the monsoon that followed the 12-hour drying period I managed to slot the job into.

[Just look at that luscious GREEN grass still growing at the end of October!!!]

Even though it is only primer, can you see how the railing is going to match the house?  [It helps if you envision white lattice below both porches framed by red boards.]

I barely finished.  In fact, at the half-way point—just when I was finally getting into a great rhythm—because I was so very, very, very cold.  Why is it that when the humidity is high, hot days are hotter and yet cold days are colder??

By the time I finished, my body temperature was 95.6.  That was after blanching myself in the shower.  I layered up in clothing, drank two pots of tea, and curled by body around Amos.  [He doesn't understand why I keep shoving him back beneath the blankets and against my body.]

Four and a half hours later, my temperature is 97.4.
I am still cold.
And feeling rather stupid.

This ... this I need to remember.  If two of those magical combination days do come up in the forecast so that I can finish the job. they cannot be days with high humidity, stiff breezes, and clouds.  And, frankly, whilst the paint can be applied at 50 degrees, I do not need to be painting at 50 degrees.

I did decide something ... odd.  Firewood Man told me that since I only sealed the top of the airing porch decking, the wood would still be able to dry out if it is not finished.  So, even though you can see the underside of the handrail when standing in the yard, I am not going to prime and paint it now. I will do so next Spring (or hopefully whoever volunteers to paint the lower porch railing for me) so that the handrail can continue to dry out if need be.  The balusters will have bare tops where they are slotted into the handrail.  The posts will be bare beneath the decking.  So, all that lovely wood will have breathing space (drying space) some place.

Proof that I am no longer a perfectionist is that I did not fill the screw holes on the top of the railing and fill them in before painting.  I care more than the wood is protected than for a perfectly smooth appearance.  Given that I live alone, I'm willing to live with the less-than-proper finishing job.

Plus, I am just too tired to do any more hand sanding.

I did figure out another benefit of having railing instead of putting back up lattice walls on the porch: now I can enjoy my burning bushes each time I step outside my door.  Before, I would have to go out into the yard and walk around the porch to see them.  I have been savoring the sight of them as they start to turn.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I am not a designer...

I am not a designer.
I am not a designer.
I am not a designer.

Why, then, do I try to do design work?????  SIGH.

I do believe I designed a solid template for the newsletter I have been doing.  And both the brochure and cutsheet I did for the therapist were extremely well-recieved.  Tonight, I have been trying to re-design the header for the articles that go with the newsletter and the eBlast I am doing on a regular basis as communication tools.  The eBlast header is what I used on the first two articles.  But I want to try and tie together all three pieces with some element of branding.  Whilst the new header is far better, in my opinion, it is not a good coordinating effort.

Even though I should be attempting to sleep, I am now having thoughts about trying to re-design the eBlast header.  That way, if all three headers have photos in them, then I will at least something ... okay, I will have nothing.

This is the photo I chose for the newsletter.

This is the slice I used for the newsletter.  I had wanted to use different bits of the whole photo in different pieces.  However, because the articles are being used as part of an info packet, as well as in mailings, I am not sure I want to have flowers galore on all those different topics.

So, this is a slice from one of the five optional photos I chose and stuck in my working folder.  With the effects and placement and such, already the article header is better.  But they are different.  More different than I wanted.  You know, more than I wanted even though I am not a designer.

Thus, the still-working-at-it thoughts about how I could use a bit of the original photo on the eBlast to tie that electronic sort of newsletter to the print newsletter.  Part of the problem is that I have to incorporate the broker company logo, somehow, and I only have one file type of that image.  Plus, well, I am not a designer.  I don't know how to do layers and such or photo effects or anything that would let me work in the logo.  For example, if I had a white only version of the logo, I could slip it in a teal band (the company's main color) on the bottom of this with the contact info.

I can make this greyscale, but that's about the end of my image manipulation skills.  I don't know how to select the pieces of the logo and make them white and the center piece black.  Or however you would make the logo so that it could go on a color bar.  SIGH.

Maybe I can use a vertical slice and figure out something that way....

Other than staying up trying to figure out the impossible, today I:

  • talked with Mary;
  • talked with Bettina;
  • consulted about a presentation for middle schoolers regarding abuse (the goal being not to burst the bubble of the private school with too much scary world talk) 
  • fetched the primer;
  • learned that a free sub is not free because all manner of tasty items will be displayed for you to purchase;
  • vacuumed for two hours since Bettina suggested that as a way to warm up (I'm avoiding using the heat);
  • changed the bedding;
  • did the laundry;
  • bathed Amos;
  • afeared myself reading more of the commentary on the Gospel of Matthew; and
  • completed a 220 piece mailing with three info sheets to collate and fold, labeling, and envelop sealing.

I also savored this entry from my favorite dysautonomia blog:

Today I cried.

Ugly cried.

I lay on the tiles in the bathroom and I cried. I ate a bowl of silken, baked custard and let the tears roll down my cheeks. Then I cried some more.


I let them fall.

One after the other.

Until they were done.

Until I was done.

There wasn't a single cause. Nothing that was particularly worse or different. It was everything and nothing. All rolled into one.

Because sometimes life is too much.

Because sometimes my body is too much.

Because there is no weakness in tears, or the admission of their existence.


A pressure valve released.

And now.

I can collect myself and keep going. And I know,

I'll be okay.


Today would have been my father's birthday.
Or is it still his birthday?

Monday, October 20, 2014

That magical combination...

In case you were wondering, using MyLowe's to save all the paint colors in your home is not actually a helpful process.  You see, the bar code produced, applied to the top of the can of paint, and scanned into your account is actually the color formula for the specific type of paint you purchased.  It does not actually contain the name of the color or a reference to that color's coding for all types of paint.  So, for example, if you have a can of Valspar Exterior paint that you want to have made into Valspar's Porch and Floor paint, you are out of luck.  The bar code will not work. And if you depend on Lowe's color matching system, you'll end up with matches such as this:

Having spent an hour and a half at the paint counter trying to get the white of the garage into paint for the railing, I ended up in tears.  This was especially so because, at the very beginning, I said that I needed a can of Valspar Bonding Primer.  The store I was at was out.  Had she told me that pertinent bit of information immediately, I would have driven over to the other Lowe's and at least tried the matching thing there, where I could get the primer.  SIGH.

What really bothered me is that I asked the paint person when the primer was being delivered again.  She said none was on order.  She also said I could not order it.  Because of the amount of time it took at the paint counter, the fact that the bar codes didn't have the paint color information despite being told they would when I signed up for the MyLowe's account, and the fact that Lowe's staff color match from paint spilled on the side of a can when the directions for paint matching clearly say that the paint should be painted on white paper (the side of Valspar cans is colored coffee and blue), I went to customer service and asked for a manager.  I had asked for one at the paint counter.  No one ever came.  Once at the customer service counter, one arrived and I learned that the primer is actually scheduled for delivery tomorrow and that I could pay for a can today so that it would be set aside for me.  If I call ahead, someone at customer service will have it shaken and waiting for me.  It seemed to me that the paint person was not really interested in helping me and just answered "no" to my questions about getting the primer so that I would leave.

With the house paint, which is a horrid mismatch, I am using that $45 paint as a primer or under coat for the remaining original paint.  I am hoping to have someone tell me where a better paint match system is and try there.  Home Depot.  Menard's.  Sherwin Williams.  SIGH.  I figured that trying to match the white of the garage to the railing and supports of the porches is a lost cause and that, hopefully, being so far apart, no one would really notice.

At least the silver is polished.  All of it.  Upstairs.  The side table here.  The candle sticks.  My jewelry.  My grandfather's dish from his desk that he used for a pencil holder.  Any silver that is exposed to air is now polished and protected again.  I am actually embarrassed at just how badly (tarnished) the silver was.  I have a new name:  Myrtle The Procrastinator.

I did fetch another can of paint stripper goop from Home Depot again, wishing the entire drive there and back that I had followed through with my initial plan to buy two cans when I first went for the second can.  Second guessing yourself rarely is of benefit.  Anyone who teaches test-taking skills knows that.

See those bamboo stakes?  They are the reminders to me that those are the spots where the garlic is planted.  Yep, I girded my loins and attempted to establish myself as a garlicmaker.  There are six rows between the plants (those there and those planned) and three cloves planted in each row.  If all goes well, I will have 18 bulbs of garlic.  What do you think would be a respectable success rate for a first time garlicmaker?  75%??

In case I have not communicated clearly just how much rain we are having, here is my grass.  Today. In dire need of mowing.  Grass I am assuming will need to be mowed into November.  Grass still rather lush and GREEN.  I am thankful for the latter.

I also rescued my beloved 2 inch flat Purdy paint brush.  Thanks to Firewood Man, I did.  Lately, I have been using primarily chip brushes, when doing the sealing, because holding brushes hurts my hands.  But I had to do a lot of careful work to stain the parts of the airing porch decking that ran beneath and beyond the railing.  So, I used one of my Purdy brushes.  I thought that I had very carefully cleaned it with hot water and soap, but I had not.  When I picked it up from the edge of the laundry sink, the brush was a solid mass of bristles.

Tim, who shares my appreciation for Purdy brushes, suggested that I try soaking it in mineral spirits.  I had just enough to try.  I used the glass container he found buried in the dirt beneath the back porch. It had about two inches of mineral spirits in there.  After soaking a while, I was able to bend the bottom of the brush.  A bit longer and I could bend it more.  Once I got the mineral spirits all over the brush, I used my Purdy paint brush cleaning tool (it came with a set of two brushes) to work the mineral spirit into the inner I left it for three hours.  Tim was right.  It worked!!

In my now 14 years of homeownership (or there abouts), I only recently finally understood the importance of a good brush. I thought brushes did not matter.  But they do.  A good angled brush can allowed you to do all your edging and cutting in without tape.  Using the Purdy brushes, my painting skills increased significantly.  They are not, however, economical paint brushes.  So, to have ruined my only 2 inch flat Purdy brush (I also have 1 and 1.5 inch angled brushes) was a bit much for me to swallow, especially since I will have all that railing and post painting to do ... eventually.

Finally, I used up the last of my chicken making both Chipotle Chicken Chili and Thai Honey Peanut Chicken.  I laughed when I put the jars in the freezer.  When I went "shopping" in there yesterday, I really was on my last jar of the chili.  So, I have no problem taking the afternoon to cook up another two sets of meals.  However, I also emptied the dishwasher and have a nearly full drawer of different sized Mason jars.  Well, I also still have weeks of meals in the freezer.

In the kitchen refrigerator freezer, I decided to organize the ice packs yet again, as I am ever on the hunt for a way to have them organized and set in such a way that they are easy to put in and easy to take out.  Since I do have the tiniest bit of room with my eating-down-my-freezer-meals campaign, I put the larger icepacks standing on their side—slotted in, if you will—next to all the meals I keep in there.  So, upstairs, I currently have 12 meals, instead of 15.  But I might have finally found myself a good ice pack system (to easily retrieve and replace any of the three types of ice packs I use).  However, if I keep eating down the fruits of my culinary labors, I am going to need a new system for storing my Mason Jars.

Anyhow, my deacon's bench is filled with goop and scrapers and sealer and paint and brushes and rollers and drop clothes and trash bags.  All my tools of the homeowner trade at the ready.  Tomorrow, I will fetch the primer, irritated, but taking advantage of a coupon for a free sub at some place called Penn Station East Coast Subs just across the way from Lowe's and I will use my Walmart Savings Catcher refund to buy some more of the probiotics I now have to take.  And I will be slightly less irritated because I received a double credit and received an email telling me that the second adjustment to my credit card account would stand and is almost the exact cost of the primer.  Then, I will be at the ready for that magical combination of days without rain and over 55 degrees.  I am hoping ... daring to hope ... that the forecast will hold and by the end of this weekend, the airing porch railing will be painted and the three small spots of the decking that were not quite dry enough for the onslaught of rain will be lightly sanded and re-sealed.

Tomorrow, though, with the lack of that magical combination forecasted, other than fetching primer and trying out a free sub, I plan to sleep.  Polishing silver is exhausting, even if visually rewarding.  Besides, Amos told me that he needs more snuggle time ... that he's been on his lonesome too much yesterday and today.  I agree.  I told him we can nap together.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I need a word...

I'm nauseous. I roll over a take a Zofran. Then I realize it is not waves of nausea crashing over me. I am just nauseous. I reach out for my blood pressure monitor and fumble to get it on. Then I realize just how weak and faded I am. My blood sugar monitor is downstairs. My glucose tablets bottle by my bed has just one. I gobble it and try to stand. Then. Then the sweating and anxiety and that weird headache crash down on me. I fall. I crawl to the stairs. I fall down the stairs. I crawl to the kitchen and manage to reach the cabinet with the monitor and full bottle of tablets. I shove four more in my mouth and then check my blood sugar. It is 46. I eat two more tablets and fall back to the floor. I call out to Amos, who surely thinks I'm just getting fresh ice packs, because he is still upstairs in bed. He finally hears my whimpering and comes. I convince him to lie on the freezing tile floor of the kitchen. I am too weak to weep. After a while, I get up and eat a granola bar and peanuts and drink a glass of milk. I sink to the floor again until I think I can get back to bed.

I am afraid.
I loathe my body.
I am alone.
I despair my life.
I am ill.
I am incredibly weak and still faded.
I am shell shocked.

I need a word that means all that. A word that means all that happened and all that I feel. A word that I can say and someone will know what I mean.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I'm in love with Britten...

I dragged myself out of bed at 3:00 PM, discouraged by the rain that has been coming down steadily upon my airing porch ever since last night.  Rain that was not supposed to overwhelm my sealing job.  I dragged myself out of bed because tonight was the second performance of the symphony's Masterworks Series.  I dragged myself out of bed and ate pulled pork tacos for a bit of a pick me up.

My realtor texted to ask me if I was going to the performance—well, of course!—and offered to drive me because she and her husband decided to go.  I offered a freezer meal, as compensation for the chauffeuring, so they got to try the Roasted Rutabaga and Parsnips Beer Cheese Soup.  Her ride turned out to be a good thing, because the free valet parking at the other venue the symphony uses was not actually there.  This is the second time out of just a few IPFW performances that the company providing the service simply did not show up.  SIGH.

That got me to thinking:  What is the difference between thinking and believing?  Do I believe that the last-minute offer to go to the performance was God's provision for my needs?  I don't know.  But I do think that ... that was my first thought when I learned that the valet parking was not there.  I honestly do not believe that I could park in the garage, walk to the venue, sit through the performance (such pain in doing that), and then walk back to my car.  I very likely would have left without seeing the performance.  Maybe.  For I don't know what I would do if I only made it partway back to my car.  Who would I call for help?  No one would come, for there is no one here to come to the rescue.

What does it mean to believe?  I have been struggling with that and have received no real answer.  Is theological belief different from non-theological belief?  I mean, is believing in God really believing in a theological theory?  That doesn't seem like it would be right, because the Gospel is certitude and theories are not certitude, even if we treat them that way.

Theory is such a funny word.  I mean, we posit a theory and try to prove it.  Proven theories can be disproved.  I am not a scientist, but I know that is a true statement.  Science and learning are constantly growing and changing, evolving if you will.  Yet some theories, such as Einstein's theory of general relativity, have provided the foundation for science.  E=MC2 is a certitude in science that is based on a theory.  Maybe, though, E does not actually equal MC2.

Anyway, the way I think is that the Christian Book of Concord is the truth (and the Truth), is the pure doctrine.  And anything else is errant, the proverbial and yet very literal "mission creep."  Actually, I believe it would be the original "mission creep."  How would it change our thoughts, though, to think of it as errant theory rather that errant theology, though?

If to believe in theology is different to believe in anything else, why isn't there a different, more definitive word?  To put it another way, when I despair of my inability to trust due to my childhood experiences (and those that followed), I am told that trust in God is different than psychological trust. Only, as with belief, no one can explain to me that difference.

Do I believe in God's provision?  I do not think so.  I do not depend on it or think that He is going to rescue me.  But I do believe (and that is a deliberate use of the word) that everything good is from God, because that is what the Word of God says.  And the Word of God is true.  An unexpected ride when the parking service I was depending on was not available is something good.  So it is from God.  Tonight's ride was, therefore, God's provision.  I do think that.  I do not think I believe it.  The difference distresses me.  Perhaps I should stop typing now.  SIGH.

Tonight's feature piece was John Sibelius' Symphony No. 1.  That it was his first symphony is remarkable.  I did not dislike it, for all his Finnish-ness.  In fact, I thought I was listening to what it would be like to watch the fiords over a long time, the cycles of snowfall and avalanches and such.  He is a fan of strings and horns, but he is a lover of tympani.  The tympanist must have lost at least 10 pounds just working his way through that composition.

However, the first piece of the evening, Benjamin Britten's Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, was truly spectacular.  I would ever so much adore having an MP3 file of the performance.  I felt like I was literally listening to dawn, moonlight, a Sunday, and a storm by the sea.  It was an exquisite and extraordinary experience.

The second piece of the first half of the performance was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante.  It is a double concerto for the violin and the viola.  I found it interesting that the two musicians who were with me could not stand the violist's performance, because he was so ... exuberant.  The violinist's play and demeanor was restrained and ... professional.  I did not mind that the violist was practically prancing about as he played, but even my very musically untutored ear could tell that he was playing over his partner, rather than with him.  As for the music ... it was neither bad nor great.  I did find myself missing the woodwinds and the horns.  Before the piece was started, it seemed a third of the orchestra left the stage.  Strings galore remained.

The bottom line?  I'm in love with Britten.  Hanson need not worry.  I'm in love with Britten, too.  For me, the rest of the evening was all downhill, was all overshadowed by my overwhelming desire to stand up on my chair and beg the orchestra to repeat the first piece.  I wonder what would have happened had I given in to that impulse????

Sitting in a chair is always painful for me, but tonight it was much, much, much worse.  Probably because of yesterday's labor ... and the labor of those darned front steps.  I moaned and groaned my way out of my chair to the bathroom and back during the intermission and moaned and groaned my way out of my chair and down to the bench downstairs whilst waiting for Leslie's husband to fetch the car.  I moaned and groaned my way from the bench and down into the very low seat of her car.  And I moaned and groaned my way from the car to the house.

The significant front moving through probably has a lot to do with the level of pain in my body.  But the steps are unfinished not because I need more goop, but because I cannot bear the thought of working on them anymore.  And it did take me three hours of scooting across the airing porch to seal it.

I was heartened to hear Leslie say how much easier it was to go up and down my front steps.  Although the paint is not yet all gone, your feet primarily contact the rough concrete wherever you place them going up or down.  The slippage factor has probably been decreased by about 90%.  They are rather wretched looking, with cracked paint here and there.  The staining from the original red paint is fine with me.  But they need more work.  My one hope is that if I fetch the last can and spread the goop thickly, I think that whatever is left after my scraping could be taken care of by Firewood Man's pressure washer.  By that I mean, I think that I no longer need to try and use the metal brush to get at the paint flakes that are loosened, but will not come off with my scraper.

I truly do despair of that project.  Of finishing it.  But I am heartened that the reason for doing so, the safety factor, has essentially been accomplished.

Did I mention, however, that I forgot that I was on a mission to establish proper smoke alarm coverage in my home?  When Electrician Man was here working, I very excitedly pointed out to him that I had finally hung up my fire extinguisher and was pointing out all the new smoke alarm.  As Ben was changing the filter, I told him to look at the one at the top of the basement steps.  Then I looked.  That one is not there yet.  SIGH.

Howard and, now, Benjamin.
My musical mates.
Wasn't there another awesome musical mate last spring???

Friday, October 17, 2014

Revealed in stillness...

Tuesday, after blogging, I spent the evening hours mostly napping because working on the front steps (oh, how I wish they were finished!) felled me.  I have been so bloody exhausted and my arms in such pain.

Wednesday, after sleeping until late afternoon, Amos and I enjoyed the airing porch for a couple of hours, whilst there was a break in the rain.  The upper roof overhang allows a space to keep the cushion dry, and I used a towel to wipe down the steamer lounge chair.  When it began to rain again, I went ahead and folded the chair up against the house, but I think I won't worry about doing that often.  Maybe when it snows.

It was a bit nippy outside, but I bundled up in hat, scarf, and gloves and then used a quilt on my legs, so Amos had a soft spot to curl upon.  You can't see them, but I'm wearing my braids.  BLISS.

Yesterday, I went ahead and screwed together the firewood rack, since it has only had the pieces all slipped together (though I do need Firewood Man's drill to finish driving in the screws).  I am hoping to have it filled in the next few weeks ... whenever Firewood Man is well again.  Lord have mercy upon him.

I also added the larger furniture slides to the stand-alone closet in the basement living space to raise it up off the floor a half inch (the ones I bought when I bought the table legs), which involved slowly lowering the heavy thing to the floor so I could access its bottom.  I finished editing a newsletter and started a draft of an eBlast for my bartering partner.  I emptied the dishwasher.  I studiously avoided polishing the silver.  And I napped ... twice.

I had that spate of activity because I grow distressed and despairing when I am so exhausted that even the thought of moving is too overwhelming.  The worst is when my legs do not work well, especially my right knee.  [I've had to wear my brace for several days now.]  That's when I know I've gotten myself in trouble.  Still, I wanted some productivity.

Last night, I went back out to the airing porch, since all I could do was huddle with Amos whist streaming something.  I watched Captain America and The Avengers.  I do not watch cartoons or animated movies.  I thought the Marvel movies were not anything I'd be interested in watching.  But I have been watching the Marvel's Agents of Shield television series and was curious about the back story I've obviously missed.  Captain America was soooooooo sad.  To me, it was.

Being rather nauseous, I nibbled on saltines and sipped Ginger Ale.  Doing the latter, made me need to go inside and tend to my own business.  However, I couldn't get the new latch on the screen door to open.  With my need becoming most dire, I started to panic.  I couldn't ask my neighbor to come rescue me, because I lock both the front and back doors when I am up on the airing porch and she didn't have keys.  [She does now.]  And I knew that she didn't have a ladder.  The windows in the solarium are all covered in storm windows.  So, the only way to recuse myself that I could think of was to try and break through the screen panel of the door (one panel is glass).  But the door to the airing porch is smaller and so the storm door, though rather aged, would be a special order (which means lots and lots and lots of extra money).

In a panic, I finally called Firewood Man, to see if he had any ideas about how to jiggle the new latch open.  With him laughing at me on the phone (I forgave him that) just touching the door to attempt his suggestion caused it to swing open.  It was a blooming miracle.  There I was, stuck for more than half an hour, not wanting to just go ahead and wet my pants because the decking had not been sealed yet, and a mere phone call to Tim makes it magically open.


Watching YouTube videos trying to figure out how to use a spray bottle to figure out if the pressure treated wood was dry enough was such a failure.  Then, in the middle of the night last night, I woke finally remembering why it was I was keeping those pieces of wood on the airing porch.  I fetched one of the pieces of deck board, stumbled to the basement, slapped on a single coat of sealer, and went back to bed.  When I woke for fresh ice packs and to feed Amos at 6:30 AM, I saw that the sealer had been absorbed. Having already checked my weather app, I already knew I had a 12-hour window of no rain ahead of me and the temperature high enough for application.  I had a mission.

At 10:45 AM, I rolled out of bed and slapped on (carefully applied) two coats of sealer to the airing porch decking.  Given how dry it was about two hours after I finally finished, I think I should have applied a third coat, but I don't mind doing this again next year if need be.  Now, I'm covered if Amos or I have any "accidents" out there.

[Please ignore the heavy patch about a quarter of the way from the far end marching across the boards.]

Last week, when I was working on applying the sealer to the underside of the table, I shook up the can not knowing that I had forgotten to hammer the lid tight the night before.  I wept.  I wept over having to clean up the mess (and damaging the carpet) and I wept over the fact that six months I would never have failed to properly close the can.

Today, when I was working on applying the sealer to the airing porch deck boards, I knocked over the  full can of sealer I had just opened.  All over me, my small plastic drop cloth, and over the boards.  I wept.  I wept over having to clean up another mess and I wept over how clumsy I've become.  Part of the cleaning up meant pulling off my hoodie, pants, and socks and tossing them over the railing—Firewood Man was constantly tossing things over the railing whilst he was working up there—and finishing the job in just my t-shirt and bike shorts.

[Yes, my feet turned terribly blue before I finished.]

Next week there is a window (currently) of two days of temperatures in the paint application range and no rain in the forecast.  It is my most fervent hope that that window remains as it is and that I can figure out a way to paint the railing by sticking my hands through the balusters to get at the back side.  [I don't think I should be up on a ladder trying to paint.]  I plan to use the bonding primer, which cures in 45 minutes and then two coats of that special stair/deck paint I discovered in the white that matches the garage.

Firewood Man had an impacted tooth, the infection from which has killed off three of his teeth or the roots.  Sadly, this is the second time this has happened to such a merciful young man.  Because of the cost of sedation alone to have those three teeth pulled is so much and because he will have to have two additional teeth pulled (ones that will no longer remain in place without the bad teeth) when the dental appliance being made is finished, which means more sedation, Tim is living with the deadened teeth until everything can be done at once.  Antibiotics, pain meds, and misery is why there's been no more work on my back porch.

Not to be political, but this is still considered a dental problem, so even though he's being treated by an oral surgeon, so his insurance is not covering anything, not even the medications.  I cannot fathom what it is like to be so young and to be loosing your teeth like that, but to also have to go into deep debt just to get well ... I ache for him.  And, frankly, what IDIOT thinks that healthy teeth are not part of medical health???

Tonight, he texted to see if I was out on the airing porch again, so I told him about sealing it.  He immediately knew why I jumped on that task.  And twitted me.  And laughed.  Then he said that some of the pain was better because the nerves are dead or something like that.  So, if the weather holds and the surgery is not scheduled, he was going to try and come over here next week.

I really, really, really want Firewood Man to finish.
I really, really, really want Firewood Man stay home and rest up for round 1,001 of his dental ordeal.

Meanwhile, I'll be resting up to try and tackle painting the railing.  And avoiding polishing the silver.  And avoiding fetching and applying the third can of paint stripper to the front steps.

And I'll be recovering from the trauma of finding this GINORMOUS BEAST on my garage.  This would be a beloved companion to my friend Celia.  To me, it is something to be ... brought to an early demise.  Only it's far, far, far too large for me to approach.

[Please ignore the peeling paint.  That is going to be scraped, primed, and painted some time in the future my someone not me.  Somehow.  Some way.]

All that time on the airing porch has me thinking that I should put tiny legs on the wine crate to raise it up a bit.  Of course, then I have fantasies about pulling down some plywood from the garage rafters, cutting out a rectangle, then buying two sheets of those tiny mosaic tiles and make a top for the box.  Wouldn't that be cool to have a crafty sort of side table up there ... one high enough to put the computer on so I didn't have to hold it whilst streaming shows and movies???  Of course, not being a crafty sort of person, I would totally need someone else to make the table top.

I did go down to the utility closet and pick amongst the remaining baskets one to carry things out on the porch.  You see, I need a quilt and ice packs and my phone and my computer and something to drink and a Baby and a chew bone for Amos.  Getting ready to hang out up there is exhausting, but actually lounging up in the fresh air instead of being inside all the time has been mostly lovely.

That basket makes things easier.
Sometimes I marvel at just how many things are different in my home to make things easier.
So many patterns and specific places and signs and alarms and lists and instructions and sundry helps.


I do have a fearful fluff ball puppy dog who makes my life better, if not easier.  So accommodating is he.  Do you think he needs a scarf and hat, too, if he's going to be keeping me company on the airing porch??

I have been, to be honest, struggling rather mightily ever since that wretched non-evaluation appointment with that wretched neurologist.  Today's post from my favorite Dysautonomia blog (the one I received via email) talked a bit about being felled by a medical appointment.  Wretched medical appointments really ought to be a symptom of Dysautonomia, so common the experience.  I was a tad heartened to be reminded, once again, what large company I'm in with regard to the trials and travails of Dysautonomia.  Perhaps not so much in Fort Wayne, but world wide.

I was unaware of just how overwhelmed I've been by a maelstrom of disappointment and frustration with myself over getting my hopes up.  For I did that.  I looked up the most common medications for memory loss and checked out both my current formulary and the one for next year.  Three are covered, two as generics.  I could have started getting some help with the forgetting for a mere $10 a month.  I was most certain the medication would be expensive like Theophylline or Celebrex, and, therefore, out of my reach.  When I discovered taking the medically was financially possible, I started to hope.  Even though I know better.

And his ... blatant dismissal of me, his disregard ... well, that hurt.  Deeply.

It was when I was still—the stillness that comes from doing something like slowly swiping a brush back and forth across wood whilst sealing it, the stillness that shuts out the world at large and the world within—that I realized just how distressed I've been.  I could have done without the spilling of sealer and (once more) stripping off clothing whilst out of doors, but I am thankful for being locked out last light.  Thankful for a window of opportunity in the weather.  Thankful to have work that quieted my being.  Even if I do not know how to ease the distress, I think it is helpful to realize what was at the center of my mind when all else fell away.

You know, I was warned not to take the tilt table test, the results of which were in the medicals records I brought to the appointment, the results of which were in the medical records he had access to before my appointment.  I was warned not to take it.  Sharply.  Harshly.  I was called foolish.  And worse.  Yet that is a most definitive, albeit dangerous, test.  [Having cardiac resuscitation paddles taped to your chest before the test is begun in case your heart stops from the test is a bit discomfiting ... and something many think make the test not worth the risk.]  The tilt table test provides objective data that shows a failure of an autonomic process and is gold standard, if you will, for dysautonomia diagnosis.  Hearing that neurologist say that I didn't have dysautonomia was like hearing someone tell me that I had not been abused (words actually spoken to me).

Both are devastating things to have in your life.
The denial of them deepens, widens their wounds in your person.
And greatly magnifies the loneliness of your condition.