Saturday, May 30, 2015

In the rain...

Firewood mowed in the rain today!  Silly man.

Since he brought me some herbs I have not been able to find, I also planted in the rain today.  Silly Myrtle.

He brought me dill, thyme, and sweet basil.  I am still hoping the dill seeds grow, but at least I have one plant.  I have one sweet basil and one purple basil.  And two thyme and two sage.

Sadly, to me, you can see the dead parts of the rosemary bush that is closest to where I am standing, but you can also see the new growth on it.

Although Firewood Man is still skeptical of the whole banana peel theory, he did point out that my first rose is starting to bloom.  This is the new bush I bought.

Yesterday, I snapped this of the honeysuckle bush.  Soon, the incurable disease will wash over it and almost all the blooms and leaves will die and fall off.  What's left will be milky/dusky and most beleaguered.  I forget the name of it, but there's nothing to be done.  So, even though it looks wretched most of the summer, I have absolutely no plans to remove the bush.

So utterly beautiful........

Firewood Man looked at the sample of deck board that I stained and thought that I should do it.  However, he asked me why I had not put sealer on it yet to have an end product to compare.  I told him I am exhausted.  SIGH.

Down to the basement I went and fetched the sealer.  From the basket already upstairs, I fetched the paint can opener, hammer, and mini-plastic drop cloth.  I put on two coats over the stain and on the curved edges where there is no stain for comparison.

I'll know better when it is dry in a couple of days, but whilst its not the color I want (not brownish red enough), I do think using the stain before sealing will help make the steps less raw-looking in comparison to the 95-year-old back porch.

I did not use a stir-stick, but rather vigorously shook can of sealer to mix it.  That left a coat on the can lid.  Since all I needed was a tiny bit for my deck board sample, I used the rest of the sealer on the can lid to do another coat on the table I made for the back porch. I figured that since it was only made last year, the wooden top is really old, and it was covered with snow during the winter, another coat of sealer wouldn't be amiss.

With the monsoon now pounding down outside, I am leaving the table inside to dry.  More visual unrest in the living room.  SIGH.

I used the one chip brush left over from last year, washing it again when I did the dishes.  Yes, I'm the kind of person who will re-use a chip brush as long as the clean-up is fairly easy.  Since it was a 1-inch brush and just a brief period of use, I cleaned it off, even though I did buy a new 1-inch chip brush the other day.  1-inch, 2-inch, and 3-inch, all the sizes I will need for sealing the front porch, the back porch, and the steps.  I am wealthy in brushes and salivating over the thought of being able to toss them all after all the sealing is done so that the only clean-up will be my shower.

Firewood Man can be a bit ... abrupt.  I asked him if he liked mowing next to the rose bush (tree) since I pruned it ... magnanimously lopped off three blooming branches that were in his way.  Tim's answer:  "Yes, but you really need to do the weeping cherry next because it's hard for me to edge beneath it."  No effusive adulation for me.

Something I need to do is pull the pump from the water fountain and clean it out.  The flow is slow and so I cannot hear it when I am sitting on the couch inside.  And with the rain the weather is cool enough to work out on the front porch for a while.  But I think most would call that a want not a need.  "Myrtle, what you need to do is rest."  Well, yes, I do.

Friday, May 29, 2015


A while ago, I read one of Michelle's posts, This is NOT funny. on her dysautonomia blog Living With Bob that has troubled my waters quite a bit.  In it is a meme (I loathe that new words are made up willy nilly these days) that could have been me.  And in it I learned a new word: ableism.

Apparently this meme had been making its way around Facebook and her post is about how it is NOT funny; it is actually rather insensitive and cruel.

This has been me on more occasions than I could note.  Using the motorized wheelchair shopping carts is a necessity for me now.  Sometimes, I will lean atop a regular shopping cart and exhaust myself to "prove" I can still make my way around a store.  But I pay such a high price for doing so.  It's really rather stupid of me.  But even when I am sensible and use the wheelchair shopping carts, I have to stand up and reach for things all over the store.  Stores are not all that accessible.  Upper shelves are too high, displays and racks are often place too close to allow for wheelchair maneuverability, and you cannot open a refrigerated or freezer section door while sitting in a wheelchair.

When I was at Lowe's yesterday, this was the only available handicapped spot.  I did NOT find the careful alignment of carts in there funny.

Ever since reading Michelle's post, I have thought about ableism.  Trying to define the word online was/remains a bit problematic.  This may sound like a far stretch, but it was like trying to define feminism.  Feminism can be viewed so utterly negatively and holds various connotations depending upon to whom you are talking or referring.  But is not feminism, at its heart, about the idea that women should not be second class citizens, as they have been for much of human history.

I think about ableism when it comes to so many things and places in this world that assume an able person's strengths and abilities.  For example, bottled condiments and medicines and the like have an inner seal beneath the cap.  The seal makes them tamper proof.  It also makes them difficult and even dangerous for folk with weak hands to try and pry off.  I usually go poking at them with a knife and try to wedge them up.  Nicks in my fingers is oft the result.  Now, some manufacturers have started providing a clear lift tab.  I give thanks each time I discover one.  But they are few and far apart.

The caps, too, can be difficult.  Many are childproof.  But that also means that they can be disabled adult proof, too.  Trying to squeeze and turn or see the arrows well enough to line up before squeezing and lifting is hard.  For my prescriptions, I have signed all the appropriate forms and releases to have regular caps on my bottles, but the majority of the time, I get the childproof ones.  It is not uncommon for me to spill most if not all of my medication trying to open the bottles.  For that reason, for many years now, the bulk of my medications are in glass bottles that have cork lids.  I learned the hard way, however, that if medical personnel enter your house, you will be prevented from taking any medication that does not have a label on it ... including inhalers, which are most often labeled on the box, not the mechanism.  Still, knowing that particular danger, I use the glass jars.  Only I don't have enough, so I leave my bottles open.  And I knock them over when I am filling the weekly container.  The whole situation is frustrating and highlights the losses and illness I am facing.

Today, in the mail, I received a demand letter from the state tax department.  Actually, I have had trouble with all four returns thus far.  I do not pay the extra money for e-filing, so I print and mail them.  Always, something I report is declared wrong and I get a demand letter for payment, including penalties and interest.  Each time I have proven my return by providing the very same documentation that was mailed with the return—but not scanned into the state tax system—and my account is zeroed out.

This time, the state tax withholding from the retirement account that was reported on a 1099 was rejected as not being paid.  I just cannot figure out how that could be possible. I  mean, it is reported to the federal and state government and paid to the federal and state government under my social security number.  Did my state just take that $1,750 as a generous donation from TD Ameritrade??  What's more disturbing is that the letter is not kindly written and threatens more penalties and interest if not paid in 20 days.  I think a lot of folk could be frightened into paying again instead of thinking to print out the 1099 and provide proof payment has already been made.

As tired as I am after yesterday's labors, I still could not stand waiting until next week to address the demand letter.  It makes me anxious and worry.  The burden of What-Ifs is not something I wish to bear.  I could have just mailed the proof once more, but I would have needed to go to the post office to prove that I mailed the proof and it is easier (and cheaper) to just go to the tax office.  Each year I have had difficulty standing at the window, but this year I noticed that if I had come inside in my wheelchair, I would still have had to stand to reach the window.  The state tax office was not accessible in any fashion. I had to go up over a curb, up steps, and through two doors that did not have automatic openings just to reach that counter.  Each of those makes my journey more difficult, more tiring.

So many doors I have to pass through are both heavy and lack automatic openings.  I will use my cane as a stop to hold open the door and then try to scoot through past the cane.  More and more I think about how even places such restaurants lack the most basic of accessibility helps: an automatic door.

But, to me, ableism is about more.  It is the idea that little thought is given about the needs of those who are not able because the tacit understanding or societal MO is that accommodations are the burden of the disabled, not the abled.  And I do not believe that is right thinking.

Before, when I have pointed out churches without accessibility features, churches where I have found  no ramps or automatic doors or seamless flooring or even raised toilets, the cost of such things is always brought up.  At one church, the thinking is that it is just easier to carry the wheelchair bound folk up and down any stairs or across any thresholds.  Would you like to be carried around?  I certainly don't.  In those churches, caring for the needs of neighbors were prioritized against the disabled, in my opinion.  There was not enough value to even put in an automatic door.

At my church now, I have two choices, should I go:  1) The front entrance, which is a very, very long walk from car to even just the last pew in the rather large church or 2) The back entrance, which is often locked and does not have bulletins with which to follow the service (which means even more walking if you want a bulletin).  In both cases, were I to go and desire the Lord's Supper, the length of time it would take the pastor to come to me in either location is almost the same as serving an entire row of folk at the pew with lots of turning of heads and staring.  Him coming, though, is much quicker than my going.  SIGH.

Think of the symphony here.  Most of the attendees are elderly.  There is, at the Embassy Theatre, exactly one handicapped space in the very back on a side street.  When the performances are over, the front sidewalk is literally filled with folk in wheelchairs and those using walkers or canes, waiting to be picked up.  The wait can be about 20-30 minutes and there is not a single bench outside.  No seating to be found anywhere.  The few times I have had rides, I have found myself jealous of those who had wheelchairs.  I wanted mine.

Today, when I dropped off my written prescriptions (something I keep forgetting to do) on the way back from the tax office, I sat down on the floor because of the line in front of me.  There is seating near the pharmacy, but there is no way to sit on a bench a couple of aisles away and keep your place in line.  The three people ahead of me all kept turning and staring at me.  Once, I could understand, but repeatedly was uncomfortable.  That was the point, I believe.

I sit on the floor in lines at customer service counters, at the post office, at pharmacies, or any place where I am forced to stand for any length of time and there are no chairs provided.  I went through the rigamarole of reporting the main post office here for not having an handicapped window, but nothing has changed.  There is no way that someone in a wheelchair can be served there without another person helping.  The last time I asked to speak to the manager there about the matter, she refused to come out of her office.  I tried to speak to her because I was heckled by other customers for sitting on the floor.  I made them uncomfortable.

So, in a way, another way I view ableism is that I am oft placed under the burden of making others comfortable with my illness or my condition.  That is just wrong.  Period.

Usually, when sitting on the floor, I ignore the heckling.  The last time, with it being hot inside since the post office has fans for the clerks but not any cooling for the customers, I was peeved enough to ask to speak to the manager once more about the sign on the wall that labels a handicapped service window but is not actually next to a handicapped service window.

For the painting, I tape the brushes to my hands.  I just cannot hold them they way that I used to be able to do.  I cannot open a milk carton without a fork to pop off that serrated ring that holds the cap in place (I used to use knives, much to my detriment, before I realized a fork would work better).  There are jars of food that I've had to wait for Firewood Man to come to open all because they are manufactured with safety in mind.  Safety features that are primarily barriers for me.

When I first read Michelle's post, I rejected the word "ableism" outright as just another entitlement movement.  But the more I think about how the world is set up for the abled, when small adjustments could make the world of difference for someone like me, the more I understand just now NOT funny that meme is and how very important (and brave) it is for her to write, as she has before and since, about the ableism battles that make facing her chronic illness more difficult.

My life, dealing with it, struggling to remain independent, is made more difficult because so much of it assumes that I am abled.  And I am not.

To be honest, too, the meme makes me uncomfortable because I wonder what I have laughed at myself that was NOT funny.  That woman who wrote about the Dead Dad's club was right in that if your father has not died, you cannot understand.  Maybe the idea of ableism is something that you cannot understand until you find yourself disabled and battling things like trying to open your medication.  Or a gallon of milk.  Or walk through a door.  Or wait in a line.  Or try to get to the sanctuary in a church.

Most of the time, I have no words for how I feel, for what I think, and for the struggle my father's death has been for me.  Not being acknowledged in his will ... not being remembered ... is one of many things I do not think I could communicate with any clarity.  The idea of ableism, the plethora and myriad things that are obstacles of feelings, thoughts, and physical battles simply because I am a disabled person trying to get about by herself in a world set up for the abled, seems equally too big and too nebulous and too unimportant to anyone but me to speak about with any sort of clarity.

I do wonder, though, if I posted that photo of the handicapped parking spot at Lowe's, just how many folk out there might find it to be hilarious and the inspiration for another NOT funny meme.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Too much labor again...

My weather app lied.  It said it was 62 degrees outside at 1:30 PM.  That is cool.  It was hot.  But I didn't realize just how wrong it was until after I got started with my labors, so I pushed myself through the misery.

I painted the third and final and right-colored coat on the steps and the trim around the window and the door.  I did not paint the fascia board because Firewood Man still wants to cover it.  I don't because that means more painting for me.

I think that you might be able to see what I meant about the sheen being slightly different, but I think that the color match is good and eventually it just won't matter.

Yes, the replacement bush is in the ground.  Meaning ... after painting ...  I went to fetch the osmocote and look to see if I could find a lilac bush.  This time, Mary went with me for the bush part.

I must have stared at the four choices for a half hour whilst talking to Mary.  Usually, I know which bush I want right away, but these were all sort of small for the price and I finally made my decision based on the one with the most blossoms (or evidence thereof by dead blossoms in the pot).  I actually measured for the bush to be in the center, but doesn't look centered.  I thought about digging it up and moving it over but then thought that I was already almost dead from painting, driving, walking, riding in the cart, choosing plants, driving, walking, riding in the cart, picking up the osmocote, exchanging it because it was filled with the wrong type, choosing plants, driving, walking, planting, and watering.  So, I left it where it is.

This just has to be the last time I try to do any major yard things.  From now on, I am going to have to have someone go with me and then do the work whilst I manage the process.  I foresee many, many, many days of recovery.  I had planned on taking myself to a real restaurant for my birthday next week, but I doubt I will have recovered by then.  SIGH.  Actually, though, I am still girding my loins over the thought of going to a restaurant all by myself, so perhaps a long recovery is a good thing.........

I have been loathe to talk about these replacement bushes of other replacement bushes because they are quite beleaguered.  Firewood Man cannot figure out why the first ones died or why these barely survived the winter.  Actually, in March and in April, they looked absolutely dead.  Even Tim was certain they were dead.  However, the bulk of each bush is still alive, so I am gritting my teeth and living with slightly ugly bushes.

The planting I did was to put in some ground cover which, theoretically, should spread out and come back each year like the thyme in the back yard.  I actually only bought two, one of which was immense.  I broke one in 2 pieces and one in 3 pieces and then planted them in the bed.  I usually put begonias out front, but the ones I planted last year almost outgrew the bushes.  The resulting odd proportions in the bed was slightly embarrassing.

In the photo before this on and this long shot of the porch, you can see that I filled the six GREEN pots on the ledge with flowers.  For years, even back in Alexandria, I had sedums that grew all year round.  However, I killed the originals the winter before last year by forgetting to water them in the winter and the replacements of last spring by not watering them this winter.  I decided to spent $1.49 on flowers and see if they grow.

In both photos, you can also see how utterly happy the Wandering Jew baskets are to be outside.

The house came with two hummingbird planters on either side of the front steps.  However, I knew from the moment I first saw the house in the listing, that my lions belonged there.  So, I convinced the movers to move the ginormous planters to the end of the porch and to put my lions up in their prior place.  Being December, I had to heat up water to thaw the bottom of the planters so that they could be moved.  The moving men were not happy with me.  But I sure was happy with their labors.

Again, the past four spring/summers, I kept the planters filled with sedums.  However, going with the mini-six-pack theme of not trying to have perennials that I must remember to water over the winter, I filled the hummingbird planters with a bit of color.  Oh, how I LOVE ME some variegated plants!!!!!

I went a little wild with color here in the larger of my two glazed pots.

But was back to sedate here.

The plant in the larger pot used to be this:

Obviously, over the past two years, this free slightly unattractive succulent grew and grew and grew.  So, I repotted it.

You can also see—aside from the growth of the slightly ugly succulent—that I am trying to start two more String of Pearls in the smaller pots.

Happiness is a magnificent fern bed, but happiness is also a String of Pearls plant that has loved you so much that in just three years it went from an itty, bitty baby to this gloriousness.

The original owner of the house has this pot (and an identical one) in her house.  When she died, my neighbor got the pots.  Last year, she gave them back to me.  I used one of the pots to put the left overs of the 6-packs for a bit of color at the end of the raised bed.  Hopefully, they will live.  Since the pot has no hole, I filled the bottom with rocks and then sand and then put in the soil.

[A proper photographer would have cleaned off all the dirt so that you could properly see the slight butter color of the pot.  They really are quite pretty in an understated way.]

I am showered and moaning and groaning and kicking myself at the moment.  I am still beat red in the face, even though I actually took a cold shower.  I am glad the pots on the front porch are no longer empty. I am glad the steps are finished as far as painting goes.  [I cannot work further on the steps until the 4 warped balusters are replaced.]  I am glad the empty spot on the one side of the porch now has a bush back in it.  I am glad that I have osmocote in my garage again.  I am not, however, glad that I worked far too hard today.  And, knowing that this was clearly my last hurrah, if any bush dies, someone else is going to have to remedy the situation.  ABSOLUTELY no more hole-digging for me.

I will say that I pushed myself because I knew that if I did not plant what I bought tonight, it would languish for days and days.  I also knew that if I did not purchase the small plants when I got the bush, I might have ended up with empty pots (great sadness) because I am just not wanting to go to large-box stores anymore without help.  And what help do I have?  None.

For the six GREEN pots on the front porch ledge, the two round glazed pots, and the hummingbird planters, I will need to find someone who likes to putter with small plants by next spring.  Or, rather, some teenager, maybe, whom I could pay to go with me to the store, help me pick out some annuals, and then help me plant them.  IF that is the only yard work needing doing, I might could manage.  Maybe.  Who knows.

For now, I walked around the entire perimeter of my house and spoke to all my perrienals, bushes, and trees, thanking them for growing and ask that they establish themselves further this summer so that nothing needs replacing next year.  Not tomorrow.  Not even next week.  But perhaps in two or three weeks, I will treat everything with the systemic and nutrients that I used last year, which really, really, really seemed to help my beleagured redbud tree.  And, maybe, accounts for the massive display of blooms on the weeping cherry and the crabapple tree.  I think, actually, I also treated the Rose of Sharons.  If not, everything will get that weird-blue-stuff-that-stains-if-you-get-it-on-yourself-after-it's-mixed-and-has-1,001-safety-warnings-on-how-to-use-it.

Since Firewood Man put off mowing after I called him to say that I painted the steps and didn't want grass blowing around tonight, the very last task I did—in my pajamas—was to go back outside in the dark and cut three blooming branches off the large rose bush that were blocking the walking (and mowing) path on the side of the house.  Yes, I wept, but it was a good pruning ... a right pruning.

You know ... when I got the new can of house red paint, I had a $10 coupon and ended up getting a coupon for a $10 rebate (already submitted).  The annuals (something I told myself I would never purchase again because of my tight budget) were actually just over $20, if you include the $4.96 rebate (already out in the mail) I will be receiving from Menard's.  So, can I say that they were "free" items, since I needed the stain, chip brushes, and osmocote anyway????

Myrte Math ... it can justify anything!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Not painting...

This was the view from my airing porch last night.  I was too exhausted from the joy of visiting with Emily, finally getting a good match of the house red paint, and saving a bundle on my purchases.  Oh, yes, and the news that my beloved Taco Bell is dropping artificial colors and flavorings from its food!

I get too tired to watch television or read, but also too tired to sleep, especially when I am sore from walking extra that day.  So, I went up on the airing porch, sipped cold ginger tea (I am very, very, very thankful I found that tea), and listened to music whilst watching, first, the sun set and, second, the night clouds pass by.

Sometimes, I look around at this house and I honestly cannot believe that it is mine, that I get to live here.  Never more than when ensconced up on the airing porch and just savoring such a wonderful place to rest.  As I have written before, I have spent more time outdoors since moving here than I have since being diagnosed with MS in 1994.  I absolutely believe that is nowhere near a case of exaggeration.  And, now, with three porches on which to enjoy the out of doors, I am triply blessed with fresh air.

The great part was that although yesterday was STINKING HOT—in fact, it was 74 degrees when I first went outside—with the sun going down and being up high where every breeze possible could surround me, I was comfortable, even covered from head to toe (I had my hoodie up and wool socks on my feet) and beneath my lightest old quilt.  Odd that I can have a cold spell in the heat, which I did last night.  Basically, I had all my skin save for my face covered in the lightest cloth possible (except for my blue feet) because of the heat outside and could do so because of the height that afforded such lovely breezes.

Do you think I like the airing porch so much because I used to climb atop the roof of our house in Dallas and read??????

Thankfully, rain was predicted today.  Thus, it would not have been prudent for me to paint or stain or seal or do any sort of work out of doors.  The prediction came true with the most loveliest of painting-prevention downpours.  I do have a prodigious amount of dust building up and silver that is starting to condemn me with its dullness, but I managed to ignore both and just rest.  Rest and eat small things.

The eating of small things was not hard, because I awoke around 4:00, once more, violently nauseous.  Again, around 9:00, which was a little soon for more Zofran, but I couldn't make it until the last hour passed (should be 6 hours between doses).  Amos then let me toss and turn until 1:00-ish, when we dragged my wretched self out of bed.  Amos tended to his business.  And shortly after that came the rain.

I did discover something odd:  Honey peanut butter is quite tasty on carrots!  I would have thought only regular peanut butter would be good, but I was wrong. I was so tired last night when I made a small custard cup of a spoonful of peanut butter and 8 baby carrots that I grabbed the wrong peanut butter. I have honey peanut butter for toast, crunchy peanut butter for the Thai Honey Peanut Chicken, and smooth peanut butter for most recipes and for carrots.  I grabbed the wrong container and didn't even notice until the first bite.

Mmmmmmm........  So, today, I purposely grabbed the honey peanut butter again.

Did I mention that I finally found a recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala that looks doable to me (though less authentic).  I've been working up the courage to try it.  I've learned to be more kind to myself when recipes do not work, but I really, really, really want to learn how to make a few Indian dishes, Chicken Tikka Masala and Murgh Makhani chief amongst them.  Of course, I also need to learn to make saag, too, since my most favorite Indian bite is a bit of murgh makhani and saag paneer atop a piece of naan.  The latter is the only Indian item yet in my culinary repertoire.

This, by the way, I believe would be a most authentic murgh makhani.  But if you manage to read the recipe through without having a culinary anxiety attack, I would be impressed.  Making it?  Well, then, you would be Queen/King of the Kitchen forever in my mind.

If I could learn to  make beef shawarma (Lebanese) and murgh makhani, I think I could die happy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Company from far away...

Not being a chef or real cook or anything of the sort, I never gave a thought about how to have the cilantro flavor without the icky leaves I rather detest.  Several of the recipes that I wanted to try use cilantro. And, whilst I am not opposed to wholesale dumping of ingredients off a recipe (for example icky, disgusting, squeaky-against-teeth mushrooms), I do understand that in Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes, there are certain flavors that balance each other, enhance each other.  I know it was a silly show, but ABC's "The Taste" taught me the importance of layering flavors.

Well, today I was reviewing and revising my Subscribe and Save order and suddenly wondered if I could get dried cilantro.  That way, I could not have the icky texture and could practice getting enough of that weird citrusy flavor without giving me the heebie-jeebies.  I found some!

I also found a more economical way to purchase the McCormick Peppercorn Medley that I use all the blooming time, which was a pleasant surprise.  And I added ancho chili powder since I just cannot find the ancho chilies themselves.  The icing on the cake is that the Colavita olive oil that I had been purchasing, but became unavailable, is now back.  I just opened my last tin, so I added that new subscription as a later delivery.

I have been working to balance all my subscriptions so that I always have at least 5 items per delivery.  That increases your discount from 5% to 15%.  But I will say that the bestest part of the service is having Amos' (rather heavy) food delivered right to my door for a bloody fantastic price.  All the rest is icing on the cake.

Yesterday (after midnight gardening and sleeping), I awoke to violent nausea and spent the day not actually resting because I was so wretchedly miserable.  I have been trying to think of the saying for a while and finally remembered it:  self-fulfilling prophecy.  I don't want my thoughts about losing the efficacy of the erythromycin to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but more and more and more I am convinced that the gastroparesis is creeping back.  My stomach is clearly not always moving meals along.  So, I had a good old-fashioned Southern Come-To-Jesus talk with myself about going back to tiny meals.  I have taken the freedom of the erythromycin too far, eating like a normal person all too easily.

I am not going to run out and buy more of the 8 ounce mason jars, but I need to re-train myself to eat just half a meal jar at a time.  I am not sure how that will work with the Thai Honey Peanut Chicken, but the rest shouldn't be a problem.  Maybe I should get one more package of the 8 ounce jars and put that recipe in small ones.  Anyway, yesterday I practiced having small, small servings when I ate.  I think I need a support group for those who have inner gluttons but are not able to indulge them.  The whole matter is discouraging ... especially because it meant that I only had a single pulled pork taco for brunch today.

This afternoon, I went to fetch the paint and supplies from Lowe's, so that I could use my $10 coupon (the last day it was valid) in the hopes that the sale would not go through until tomorrow (next budget cycle).  I have been struggling with loneliness, so I took a chance and called Emily, to see if perhaps she had time to visit.  She did.  And she made the errand running lots better than it would have been!

First, I made a return to Target.  One of the best parts about shopping at Target is that returns are incredibly easy and there is never a long wait to be served.  Then, I went over to buy some more Puffs with lotion.

I am in complete denial about having acquired yet another medical condition. I refuse to be diagnosed with nasal allergies.  After all, I spent nearly all my childhood and well into my 20s battling real allergies and had 4 shots a week.  Moving north to places with actual seasons made my allergies go away and I stopped my shots.  Now, ever since that cold last November (and the second one in December), I sneeze periodically, blow my nose several times a day, and am ever so slightly congested in my head every day, all day long.

The nasal spray prescription did finally stop the itching in my ears, and I do breathe easier at night (having exchanged the cost of BreatheRight strips for the prescription).  However, every day, about twice, I blow these ... green, bloody plugs ... out of my nose that feel as if they are coming from my forehead.  It is weird and discomfiting and a bit gross.  Is that what nasal allergies are all about?  Because I still think I have some sort of sinus infection.  Couldn't being on antibiotics 24/7 mask a sinus infection in some fashion?

In any case, I have gone through more Puffs since November than I have in the four and a half years I've lived here.  Emily happily walked with me through Target to fetch them.  Then it was across the street to Lowe's, where she rode in the wheelchair cart with me.

Well, the best I can say is that I have a livable (I think the sheen/texture is slightly off) house red matching paint to use on the steps (and a photo of the formula so I do not lose it).  Actually, the best thing I can say is that I am so very thankful Emily hung out on the phone with me for eons through my Lowe's visit because at the end there I very nearly melted down in the store.

There was this man driving what looked like a mini-zamboni machine cleaning and polishing the concrete floor.  Lights were flashing, sirens were beeping, brushes were swirling, an engine was roaring and all that input was just too much for me.

I was at the customer service counter because I needed to spent a bit more money to get my $10 (the stain and disposable brushes were more economical than I thought they'd be) and set out to buy Osmocote.  But the 3-lb container was not on the shelf and it is more economical than the 2-lb container.  After asking if it was in stock, I learned that I could order it and pay for everything together to use my coupon.  Only ... only the poor gal at the customer service desk was juggling several overhead pages and four calls on hold.  The longer she took to help me and the more passes of that machine, the more and more I wanted to drop everything and run screaming out of the store.

I did not like that feeling.
I kept asking Emily if she could hear the machine just for the distraction.
I am not sure how cogent my conversation was at that point.

The upside is that the transaction was completed without a meltdown and Emily was in full agreement that the paint matching success and the meltdown avoidance was enough to justify going to Taco Bell on the way home since I still have (now) 1 and 1/5 gift cards.  I did not, however, downsize my decades old order (a taco and a bean burrito).  Yes, I am overly full at the moment.

Tomorrow is a new day to do this whole back-to-micro-meals thing.

What I did not realize, when I targeted today for the Lowe's trip, is that the paint was on sale, too.  So, I am getting an additional $10 back on a rebate check.  Then, after hanging up with Emily, I discovered a message from Lowe's.  Although the 3-lb container is available for order, they cannot get it, so the manager approved exchanging the 3-lb order for 2 of the 2-lb containers at the same price I paid.  More savings!  Of course, I have to go fetch them, but I realized that I did not want to buy the replacement bush until I get the house red paint on the side of the steps because the bush is going on one side of the steps ... right where I stand to paint!

Before taking a bite of taco or even hanging up with Emily, I tested the stain I chose after starring at the selection for about 20 minutes (talking all the time) on a scrap of deck board (what we used for the stair treads).  It is much lighter than I hoped it would be and not enough of the red undertone I was aiming for, but I did not want something dark to try to match the 95-year-old wood and end up missing a color match altogether.  Unless I pulled up one of the boards, I am not going to be able to match the old floor.  This way, at least, the steps will not look like raw wood.  Eventually, they will darken even more with age.

I let it set and then actually swiped it lightly with the darker stain that was used in the house on the thresholds to the kitchen.  I am not sure I would do that to the steps themselves.  But I set the sample outside to see how it looks in different lights.  I wanted to slap on some sealer, too, just to see what it looks like, but I am not interested in washing out a brush today.

Tomorrow is going to be STINKING HOT, but it is also supposed to be full sunshine.  I might just go ahead and stain and seal the steps, even though the logical move would be to paint the final coat of house red and wait on dealing with the stair treads until the stair railing is done.  It is just that I am getting anxious with all the painting/staining/sealing supplies tucked into the corner of the kitchen and the landing of the basement stairs.  It is not logical for me to be carrying them all up and down the stairs each time I need them, but I am beginning to sink into despair over being unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel that is the completion of the back porch restoration.  SIGH.

Of course, I wouldn't mind resting until the next cool day to paint, which will be Sunday.....

Here are the new-to-me-but-old hummingbird wind chimes that someone sent to me.  This is not where I want to hang them, since I cannot actually see them when I sit in my GREEN rocking chair waiting upon Amos.

What are the odds, do you think, that I could survive an attempt to tack up the power line and the coil of Internet cable that are hanging down below the edge of the bottom of the porch roof??  Because, you see, with all the wind blowing across the back porch (remember that the grill was knocked over one day) THIS is where I would like to hang the hummingbird wind chimes.

Firewood Man keeps forgetting to throw his ladder on the truck when he comes to mow.
I am growing impatient to see just how MAGNIFICENT the wind chimes can be in a stiff wind.
I do own 5 ladders..............

By the way, Emily added her vote to keeping the posts white.  While that was the decision I had reached, hearing her say so was a welcome vote of confidence of my choice.    Plus, she has an awesome laugh.  For a while, Nebraska and Indiana were right next door.  Really, Emily showered me with mercy in more ways than I can count today!  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Midnight gardening...

It's still 73 degrees!!!!!!!!!!!  SIGH.

Earlier today (now yesterday), I brought the two rosemary bushes I wintered and the oregano plants I bought last month down from the solarium.  I had also bought dill, but only the oregano plants made it so long in the small containers.  I honestly do not understand why Menard's has herbs delivered in April if most Aprils are not months when herb plants can be put into the ground.  Lowe's however, did not have oregano (or rosemary for that matter) last year.  Just lots and lots and lots of basil and tomatoes (yes, I know tomatoes are not herbs). Okay, they had sage and thyme, which I hope to buy again this year.

Once I noticed that the dill was struggling to survive in the small temporary containers, I went ahead and harvested four bunches, which are now drying in the basement.  Since the oregano grew quite a bit, I also harvested one bunch from the two plants.  The dill plants were hedging my bet against the seeds my gardener extraordinaire friend sent me.  I don't doubt her seeds; I doubt my ability to grow anything from seeds.

So, all I had to do was to replant the two rosemary bushes, plant the two small oregano plants, dig up the thyme and sage that were supposed to survive the winter but didn't (okay, I didn't have to clean those spots up), and plant my dill seeds.  Thirty or so minutes of light gardening.

Thirty or so minutes of my systematically stripping down to my undershirt and bloomers not caring what the neighbors thought.
Thirty or so minutes of struggling not to faint.
Thirty or so minutes of dripping with sweat.

The weather is just going to be beastly for a while.  I think, perhaps, I should have gone ahead and put out the rosemary when it was nice and cool and hope it made it through those aberrant 40s overnight lows.  This is my fifth spring/summer here and it is altogether TOO STINKING HOT compared to the other four.

If I go by greenery, of the 15 garlic bulbs I planted, only four (maybe just two) are growing.  I do not believe I can declare myself to be a garlic maker.  I would like to try again next year with garlic that you buy specifically for planting.  Maybe.  I am a bit disheartened over my failure.

At least the first honeysuckle blossom began to open.  Isn't it a bit wild and curious and wondrous that they are pink on the outside but yellow on the inside?

For the rest of the day, I shall be sleeping, waking, eating, napping, and then sleeping again, in order to prepare for needing to go fetch the paint, the replacement bush (I did not buy it in last month's budget cycle), osmocote, play sand (for beneath my stepping stones that have sunk a bit, the stain and the disposable brushes for sealing (I am allowing myself the luxury of not having to clean up sealing brushes, plus the one I used for many years was rather expensive).  I have to go tomorrow (the 26th), because my $10 coupon expires that day.  I wanted to wait longer (until we have cool weather again), but I will at least wait until just before the store closes so it will be marginally cooler.  I don't have to buy the lilac bush if I don't like the selection (or thyme and sage), but I need to buy the paint and supplies to get the coupon savings.

I am bushwacked.
Wishing I were not too tired to go upstairs and shower at this very moment.

And at least Amos still smells of lavender.  Apparently puppy dogs don't find monitoring their puppy mommas midnight gardening taxing enough to sweat.  I wish I were a puppy dog.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Still moaning and groaning...

I wouldn't mind the world coming to an end before the next tasks on the back porch need doing.  However, I honestly (you can laugh) believe that the railing was the last of the worst parts of the job.  After all, sealing the back porch again, for example, takes about 60 minutes and I am seated the entire time.  Painting the railing of the steps, once it is actually finished, should take no more than a couple of hours.  But, oh my, am I still sore and rather exhausted.

I did muster up the strength to try a thought I had.  A thought about all that pasta I somehow ended up with in my Subscribe and Save orders.  I really, really, really liked the vinaigrette that I made with the Grilled Asparagus with Bacon and Mustard Vinaigrette.  I wondered if I could just eat it over pasta, especially since the recipe leaves you with leftover vinaigrette.

The answer is yes.

I made my Pasta with Mustard Vinaigrette (with crumbled bacon on top), ate it, and then had a second nap of the day.  I forgot to take a photo, but it is not like a vinaigrette pasta salad is all that photographic in the first place ... even with crumbled bacon on top.  For the freezer jars, I also put the bacon on top. Silly, maybe, but that was how I could measure out the bacon for each one.  You see, I showed GREAT restraint and used only six slices of bacon for eight servings!  For the record (and my Fitbit) the recipe ended up being 410 calories per serving.

I need to move the rosemary bushes outside now. I think I should have taken the risk with the cooler temperatures, because each bush now has a dead patch.  But each also has new growth.  My fingers are crossed.  I need to move them, but it is STINKING HOT outside.  So, I am planning another nap and then some moonlight gardening ... with my beloved headlamp.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Moaning and groaning...

I've been whimpering my way through a few chores, because I remembered that when I am in great agony after over working moving helps a bit.  Moving and lots and lots and lots of pain medicine and lots and lots and lots of resting.  So, I am mid-way through three loads of laundry, mostly because I burst into tears last night when I finally got up to my bedroom and realized that, with both a clean puppy and a clean puppy momma, the bed needed clean sheets.  Yes, I chose the botanical bliss ones.

Puppy bath towels, painting clothes, cleaning rags, sheets, and a week or so of my lounge pants and pajamas.  One drying, one washing, and one waiting.  That means three more trips up and down the basement stairs after already making two trips.  I wish I could teleport.

Because I am just that kind of a Nutter, I moved the rocking chair, table, recycling bin, and grill back where they belong on the back porch. I had moved them all to the back center against the wall for easy access to the railing.  I think that Firewood Man is coming to mow today.  He would have moved them all back for me.  But a couple of days of a lack of visual rest on the back porch was all I could bear.  I did rest in the GREEN rocking chair for a while after that spate of labor and soak in the loveliness of the painted railing.

That porch restoration project has dragged on and on and on.  I need it to be done, but there are still many tasks waiting:

  • Replacing the bowed balusters on the stair railing (Firewood Man)
  • Priming those balusters
  • Painting the stair railing
  • Cleaning the white wood paint off the paint brushes
  • Getting a good match for the house red and buying that paint
  • Cleaning the wood trim of the transom above the back door
  • Painting a final coat of house red on the stair sides, the stair risers, the facsia, and the window and door trim
  • Cleaning up the red house paint off the paint brushes
  • Painting the porch ceiling and outer trim (Firewood Man)
  • Buying a light stain for the back step treads so as to lessen the contrast of brand new deck board with the 95 year old wood on the back porch
  • Lightly sanding the treads
  • Staining the treads
  • Buying new disposable brushes for sealing
  • Power washing (Firewood Man) the front and back porches
  • Sealing the front and back porches

Are you now exhausted, too?

Since the overnight low is 54, I changed my mind and am risking the giant spotted begonias.  Hopefully, given that the solarium was at least 54 degrees over the summer, that the 4 degrees over the absolute low the begonias can stand will be enough to keep the leaves from being zapped.  Changing my mind meant moving all the plants and baskets back out on the front porch today instead of tomorrow.  I moaned and groaned and whimpered my way through the chore, but I am so very ... thankful ... for the visual rest now back in my foyer and dining room.

Now one load is folded, one load is drying, and one load is washing.  Amos is fed.  I'm fed.  I am now thinking a nap in is order............

Friday, May 22, 2015

Just shoot me now...

Yesterday, I took a shower in the early afternoon just to keep myself from painting.  It was overcast and a bit muggy I told myself.  But when I got out of the shower, the sun was shining brightly.  SIGH.

In the early evening, I decided to prep the railing and get out all the painting supplies so that I could be ready to paint today.  I cleaned off all the dirt and pollen on the railing, sanded the top railing and the steps (for when I can lightly stain and seal them), and used filler to address all the screw holes.  The latter is not my best skill when I am tired.  I was tired.

Prepping also meant standing over by the mammoth rose bush and breathing in the delightful aroma for a little while.  No, I have yet to trim the now two branches that need pruning.

We should still be cold again tomorrow.  I hope.  The weather forecast seems to change once I make plans.

As in, I move the plants outside.  Then I bring them in for four nights of 40s and below.  Then I take them back outside.  Now they are back inside for another five nights of 40s and below.  Well, the last night should be 52, but the begonias get zapped at 50 degrees, so I will wait until Sunday to put them all back outside again.  Hopefully for the last time.

[Ignore the large bamboo stake that I have not yet trimmed down to create a support for the jade plant, please.  However, feel free to admire my luscious string of pearls, grown from a three inch pot that is sitting on the arm of the deacon's bench!]

When I put the Wandering Jew baskets outside a few weeks ago, they were trimmed to the bottom of the baskets.  It is pretty obvious that they like being outside.  Funny that they now make the dining room feel so crowded.  I would like them to get back outside soon and stay there until late next fall.

After taking photos and studiously ignoring the cans of paint, brushes, stir sticks, hammer, opener, and drop cloth taking over the kitchen floor by the back door, I spent the evening resting again with my little fluff ball.  I also lost a few more brain cells watching a really, really, really bad made-for-TV sci-fi movie.

And then there was today.
And painting.
And exhaustion.

I just couldn't figure out a way to not paint the whole railing (sans steps) at once.  I also, having painted one coat, couldn't figure out a way not to go ahead and paint the second coat.  I am in such pain that I couldn't fathom ever painting again.  Except I have to since the four bad balusters on the stair railing still need replacing, those primed, then two coats of paint on there.  And I have yet to get the better (I hope) house red paint for the final coat on the stair sides and step risers.  So, I have to do painting again.  But ... no more big jobs ... like this one.

I am in such pain that I dread what the morrow will bring for my body.

To appease my fluff-ball, I let him be outside with me.  I wasn't really thinking about that.  I mean, I set up a barrier so he did not end up with a single drop of paint on him, but I forgot about just how dirty the back porch floor is, having not yet been cleaned since the construction last fall and all of those muddy Firewood Man boot prints.  Sweeping aside, the floor is just plain dirty.  I've been holding off paying for power washing until the painting is completed.  That means I ended up with a grey fluff-ball.

Yes, in my agonized state, I had to give Amos a bath tonight.

I'm clean.
He's clean.
We are both exhausted.

Before the bath, in my dirty and painted state, once I finished, I popped over to the nearest milk source and fetched a few gallons, knowing that once I finally stopped moving I probably wouldn't be moving for days on end.

I did not bother taking a photo.  Mostly, I figured that, given that the paint is white and the primer is white, I doubt anyone will notice the outcome of my arduous labor for SEVEN BLOODY HOURS.

I thought, though, I could put another photo of my fluff-ball from last night.  He took over my pillows.  So, I made him my pillow.  He didn't mind.  Right now, he's still swaddled and beneath three blankets in my lap from his bath two hours ago.  I guess that makes me his pillow tonight.

Like I said, we're both exhausted.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


[CAVEAT: I was a teen before I made my way to church, via learning all about it during summer camp.  A long story.  I hitched rides when I was 15 and started driving myself when I was 17.  So, when I say I grew up in the church, it was as a late bloomer, not one who crawled up the aisle.]

I grew up in church fully indoctrinated into the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) mentality.  It sounds great, but it is absolutely soul crushing.  I am not God, so I could never do as Jesus would.  Plus, His ministry (what as a Lutheran I've learned would also be vocation) is not one any human could ever have.  No human can live a sinless life, forgive sins, or raise others and himself from the dead.  All this teaching does is set the Christian up for continual failure, immense pressure, and deep doubt as to salvation.  So, WWJD is spiritual folderol.

But, oh, my!  Do folk ever like to make the New Testament, if not the Gospels alone, as the New-And-Improved-Commandments, a.k.a The Prescription for Living A Christian Life (and thus ensuring your "fire insurance" or ticket to heaven).  Jesus was/is NOT the new Moses.

Based on this predilection for wanting directions on how to be a good Christian, I would like to proffer that, if you insist on making some sort of Christian Model for Living out of the Gospels (again, spiritual folderol), to be biblically accurate it ought to be:  WWDD?

WWDD?  What Would the Disciples Do?

Having been immersed in Michael Card's commentaries on the Gospels for month and months, picking through my rather broken memory, if you were to take on WWDD? as your model you would:

  • View all undesirable people as not worth your or Jesus' time (i.e,  as a bother).
  • Discourage children from approaching Jesus.
  • Fight amongst your cohorts.
  • Try to position yourself as chief amongst your cohorts.
  • Get your parent to try and position yourself as chief amongst your cohorts.
  • Fail even in your good intentions.
  • Be continually confused by Jesus' teachings.
  • Doubt Jesus' teachings.
  • Be afraid of Jesus.
  • Deny Jesus.
  • Not believe what Jesus says about His death and resurrection until you actually eye-witness the fulfillment of His resurrection.

What?  Why would I want to live like that?  You ask.  Well, my answer is that you already are, though you might not admit it.  After all, even as a justified saint in Christ, you remain a sinner whose flesh will always strive against God.  However, what is the result of WWDD?  The forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

In a nutshell, Living by WWDD? is recognizing that you cannot, by your own mind or might, contribute to either your salvation or your sanctification because you are always going to mess up on one front or another.  And it is knowing that our Triune God takes care of salvation and sanctification, Jesus being your Redeemer and the Holy Spirit being your Sanctifier, both given to you by God the Father, your creator.  So, as you stumble and fumble your way through trying to obey the Word of God, and end up in the same pitfalls of the disciples, you know that, despite the constant failures, you are still forgiven.

Thus, WWDD? is a life in need of and daily receiving both the forgiveness of Christ Crucified and the building and sustaining of faith by the Holy Spirit, so that, with the help of God, you might accomplish the good works He has put before you.

However, you don't need to ask yourself what the disciples would do to live this way.  Jesus did not come to model how to live; He came to save mankind from eternal death.  And Jesus did not call His disciples so that they might model how to live; He called them to ensure that the ministry of giving and receiving the gifts of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit via Word and Sacrament might continue past the time He left this earth to ascend into heaven.

Of course, give how much mankind wants to do something about his/her own salvation and sanctification, what would happen to the Christian Bible Study market if publishers stopped churning out all those studies with life application steps to be a better Christian by your own mind or might and actually published ones that taught that God has done/does all the work of salvation and sanctification????

"Why then, Myrtle," you ask, "Do you still have that WWJD? t-shirt stuffed in the recesses of your closet?"  Because my indoctrinated self thinks it would be wrong to toss it in the trash where it belongs.  In fact, I just washed it because it was getting a bit dirty.  You know, to be a good Christian steward of that ministry tool given to me all those years ago.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rolling in the dough...

I think I would be in trouble if ever I looked at Craigslist as a place to shop.  However, early yesterday evening I had great selling success.  I sold all four lots of the arrowheads that my brother sent me to sell for him and I sold this antique silver wrist cuff that was in the box of arrowheads.  I kept the silver war bullets, the geodes, and the fossil that were also in the box.  My brother decided to mail me everything and asked if I could get it sold to send him back half the money.

The arrowheads were a tricky thing. I thought that my dividing them into four lots and including a stone skinning knife in each lot was a good idea ... especially given that there were four stone skinning knives.  I sold them all to one person.  Six others wanted them and six others kept trying to knock money off the price, but even though I caved, none of them followed through.

Then, this lovely gentleman from Michigan, a war vet, called me on his rotary phone and asked if the arrowheads were still available.  My brother decided that his cut of the sale, $30 could be a birthday present ... or prescription money.  Really prescription money.  But I like to think of it as an early birthday present.

While I was waiting for the man to arrive, I decided to start working on polishing the blackened wrist cuff—I think it is Egyptian—because I was nervous about having a stranger in the house for the arrowhead inspection prior to sale.  Anyway, when the man arrived, he saw the cuff and salivated.  But I really didn't think anything about it.  We talked arrowheads, he taught me many things about what I was selling, and gladly forked over the $60.

When he mentioned that he collected coins, I got out the meager collection I had, wondering if I could sell any of it. I was asking his opinion.  But the man told me what I had, picked out what was truly valuable for me to keep, and then said he would give me $40 for the rest, which was, I am most certain, a bit generous on his part.

Then, as I was carefully packing up his purchases, since I have all those recycled mailing supplies, he casually asked if I would care to sell the cuff.  I had not discussed it much with my brother, having not yet figured out what it might be worth.  If nothing else, being solid silver, I thought I could sell it that way.

The vet pulled out a much folded $100 from his wallet, a rather empty wallet at this point.  I was a tad worried, because he still had a road trip back home.  However, I thought that even if I were to sell the cuff online for a bit more, I would have shipping and listing fees or, worse, an auction house fee.  I figured my brother would want the money.

My goodness, was that vet ever happy.

The most surprising moment was when the vet was talking about collecting and then strayed into telling me about his father dying.  Tears filled his eyes and he started weeping.  My scared little fluff ball immediately hopped down from his perch on the couch and scampered over to the vet's chair.  He stood on his back legs and then leapt into the vet's lap to wipe his tears away.  Amos is always sensitive to folk who weep.

I am so very blessed with my sheepgoatratbastardpuppydog.

After the vet left on his rather long trip back home, I promptly wrote a check to my brother for his $50 and then started dreaming of 1,001 ways that I could spend my cut of his sale and my coin money.  Incidentally, the cardiologist visit will be $50.  So, right there, the antique silver cuff money went poof! in my mind.  And I had to order a water filter for the refrigerator this week.  There went the arrowhead money.  And, truth be told, while I have vowed not to buy myself anything for my birthday, having spent money this Spring, I really want a good robe.  The one I want is backordered and keeps get moved later in the summer as to being in stock, so my coin money is really kind of spoken for.

I sure do wish I could sell those Harry Potter books.  Now that would be a chunk of funds off which I could sliver funds for a meal at, perhaps, Panera Bread.  What is wrong with folk that they are not pushing and shoving each other to snap up my set of hardcover Harry Potter books??????

The Narnia books have not sold yet either.  A puzzle.  But I think I know where they will be going if not sold by a certain time.  The Harry Potter books are staying up until they're sold ... even if it takes until next Christmas.

I sort of wish there were more things to sell around here ... things I am willing to let go.

Anyhow, Amos conquered his fear of the stranger right quick (no barking past the crossing of the threshold and a few tentative pant sniffs.  I got to show off my meteorite, since the vet noticed my rock, mineral, and fossil collection.  And I was left rolling in the dough ... albeit temporarily ... by the end of the visit.

Does all that selling excitement in the early evening yesterday still count as resting????????????

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A lack of painting...

So, Becky, being part cheeky and part helpful, pointed out that if I wanted to send her an anniversary card that hers is coming up next week.  Heck, I don't even send my parents anniversary cards.  However, I have had in mind the idea to send a card to my step-father and the stock I planned to use is a two-per-page stock instead of one.

Let me back up.  No, I did not donate any of the folded card stock that I have in my office supplies.  And, to be transparent and completely honest, in a strange sort of happenstance, the very day I mentioned my long-time desire of getting a color printer, I finally found the very one I have been looking for over several years.  My criteria:  a single function color laser printer that automatically duplex prints.  And, frankly, I'm an HP kind of girl.  Too many years serving as deficit office IT proved to me that when all is said and done, HP printers have the best drivers and when it comes to printing from myriad sources, it's all about the drivers.  Also, and of course this is key, I've wanted to spend exactly half the cost of any color laser printer I spec-ed out over my rather lengthy search.  It was a maddening search.  Now that I found the very printer I dreamed of, temptation abounds.  The old Myrtle would have used making a card for my stepfather as an excuse to just pluck down the money and worry about how everything would work out later.  The new Myrtle has started trying to figure out just where it is that I can squeeze out $232.

The card for my stepfather ... he retired last Friday.  Actually, I missed the window of when I wanted the card to arrive out west, but I think that anyone who gets a card from me should 1) give me brownie points for getting my scattered brain together long enough to make it, write, address it, stamp it, and get it out to the mail box and 2) remember that I have a scattered brain.

Anyhow, my stepfather does not do change well.  He still holds the record for the fastest Ph.D. in his rather difficult field at Ohio State.  He has published many articles.  And he has many patents.  He's spent his career traveling the world and wowing folk.  I am most certain than anyone he's ever worked with or for or taught or interacted with in any professional fashion would swear than I am lying when I say that change leaves that brilliant, highly accomplished man quivering in his boots, trying to hold the little bits and pieces of his fragile, scared self together.

Now, I have come to rather strongly believe that folk need to accept the frailties of others.  So he doesn't do change well.  No matter.  He ultimately gets through it and plunges into the next phase of his life.  So he doesn't do change well.  We all ... every last one of us ... have things we just don't do well.  Some of us, ahem, have an entire laundry list of things we don't do well.  But whether it be one or two frailties or an entire cargo ship of them, we really need to be kinder and gentler and more accepting.  Period.

So, I got in my mind of actually making and sending a card.

I have dreams, unattainable dreams, of being that artsy, crafty, scrapbooking kind of card maker.  I am not.  I also have dreams of one day become adept at graphics design, moving beyond my beginner capabilities.  I never will.  Still, I want that darned color printer so I can use my meager skills and approximately 200 blank cards for the computer to make cards that say what I mean them to say, rather what card companies tell me what I should think or feel.

My parents are off to Ireland, so the card will be even later than I would like.  Still, I finished it off late last night and put it out for the mail man.  The mail man, who, incidentally, keeps delivering mail from another street to me.  At least he/she picks up what I leave out.  How can I get that delivery problem corrected???

I would like to wait to mail Becky and Gary's card until it is closer to being next week, but if I lay it out to mail later, it will be late or late late or late late late.  So, they are both outside waiting to be collected, sorted, and sent on their way.

Don't get me wrong.  These are still dweeby cards.  For my stepfather's card, I used the veins of a leaf as a background, thinking I would make the image transparent and color them, blending the colors of the lifecycle of a leaf.  My attempt at coloring was so embarrassing that I actually burned it in the fireplace.  On top was the word change, designed to look like a scrap of paper torn out from something.  I feathered the word into transparency, so that by the end of the word you were focusing on the leaf.

 The life of a leaf is a life of change.  Having spent a lifetime as a writer absolutely despairing over my utter dearth of figurative language, I was pretty darned proud of myself for coming up with a metaphor.   I wonder ... will he get the metaphor?  

Inside, I found this great graphic that stated:  "Change is a process, not an event."  The background is footprints being washed away by the tide coming in on the beach.  Just perfect for him.  I wanted to shout:  It's okay to struggle with change!  I think I did.

Becky and Gary's card is more dweeby, but it's the thought that counts, eh???????  I did dig up an ancient photo of the two of them that I just love and use it in my design.  IF I had that color printer, Becky would have been most happy because one of the graphics I used was in ORANGE, her favorite color.  Maybe when it comes she can see it as orange, will it to be so to her eyes.

Amos, well, he was not pleased with me.  Having gone to my appointment, having had the audacity to abandon him, I should have given him my full attention all night long.  His passive-aggressive canine self spent the whole time I was working on the cards trying to drape his snoring self atop me whilst I was sitting up.  Silly puppy dog.

"Myrtle, why did to stay up so late working on the cards when you could have just done them today?"
"I would have forgotten."

I did remember to take a photo of the first honeysuckle buds.  I just cannot wait until they bloom!!  Funny, isn't it, that the focal point in the photo is the veins of the leaf when I used the veins of a leaf as a metaphor on my card?  For that reason, I feel no photographic shame for the missed focal point.  After all, I'm an imperfect person.

I did, however, manage to be very, very, very firm with myself and not paint today.  I rested.  Doing nothing.  Zilch.  Nada.  Well ... I did take some photos of the weighted blanket that Becky wanted and I mailed some shark teeth to her son.  But on a Myrtle labor scale of 1-10, I still consider that a big fat ZERO.

To be honest, mostly the resting is because last night I rolled over in bed, but my left foot did not.  Yes, I sprained it lying down.  SIGH.  When I am really, really, really tired, my joints become too lose.  Good thing that when I did all that downsizing, I kept my drawer full of braces (wrists, knees, and ankles), my sling, and my walking cast.

But.  But I prefer to give myself credit for exercising the will power not to paint on this first cool day after days and days of STINKING HOT weather.  We are back to Spring, having dipped our toes into the dog days of high Summer.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Better than I feared, less than ideal...

Silly Myrtle was so worried about her appointment today that she had a migraine last night.  SIGH.

I was disappointed in the appointment in that the doctor had read nothing of my file, not even the private note of introduction that my old GP wrote for her.  This GP was not very welcoming or affable, so I struggled with trying to condense a complex medical history into just 15 minutes, especially since she questioned THREE of my medications.  Yes, all the ones I was worried about.  And, yes, I received a lecture about talking about just one health issue per visit.  SIGH.

How can one do that? I mean, I'm supposed to report on migraines, blood sugar crashes, fainting, blue feet, and nausea each time I go, as well as any new symptoms.  Does that mean I basically need to have an appointment weekly?????  Paying for one every eight weeks was a great compromise on my part.

I know we were looking at the thyroid, but my latest new symptom is that I now regularly bite my cheeks or lips when eating.  It is as if I have forgotten how to chew.  I have to really, really, really concentrate when I am eating so that I don't maul myself.  I find that counterproductive to enjoying one's food.  SIGH.

The upside to the visit was that her staff were really helpful and approachable and patient and kind, so I think that if I address things through her nurse and email contact, perhaps I can make this work.

I tried and UTTERLY FAILED at asking how I will know if it is time to stop the erythromycin.  SIGH.  I am not sure I can get that information from the nurse. I wish there was some sort of hotline I could call. I mean, shouldn't there be some kind of scale for measuring the efficacy of taking a particular drug.

The new GP did take a throw-the-kitchen-sink-at-it approach with blood work, so anything that can be tested will be tested in eight weeks, before my next appointment.

The odd results with my thyroid was that the T4 was slightly higher, and I do better when it is LOWER.  The T3 was high, but she was not as concerned with that.  That overwhelming-exhaustion-where-I-was-falling-asleep-so-early is gone, as is the ash on my skin from it being so dry.  I'm all for staying at the higher thyroid medication dose.

However, I've been having problems with the theophylline.  This GP does not know anything about dysautonomia or about theophylline and, belatedly, it struck me that I ought to venture back to the cardiologist, despite the cost, because he does understand dysautonomia and theophylline.

The new GP is wanting me to do the rounds of ALL the specialists and that's just too much money for testing that will say the same thing, especially a gastro doc and his/her tests.  So, seeing the cardiologist ought to help me and assuage her concerns ... hopefully ... to keep on as a GP.

I will say that I am rather thankful for one of the tests she is requesting: A1C.  Because I am not diabetic, but reactive hypoglycemic, my old GP was not really concerned about that test.  However, given how sensitive I am about blood sugar, I think it is prudent to look at it once a year.

Sadly, just like clockwork, I am 3 pounds heavier ... each 8 weeks, it's been 3 pounds heavier, despite having a significant negative weekly calorie balance according to my Fitbit.  Frankly, I think I should go back to drinking Dr Pepper daily and live on a milk and dessert diet.  Eating healthy, real foods has not helped me.  Well, my blood sugar crashes are now much less frequent.  Still, I do NOT like the weight gain.

On the way home, I called the cardiologist nurse and had a bit of a chat about my secret happiness about dropping off his radar because of 1) the cost of the visit and 2) it REALLY bothers me that it does NOT bother him that I have chest pain all the time.  She said that a lot of their dysautonomia patients struggle with both feeling their heartbeat, as do I, and the chest pains.  Whether that was said before, I didn't hear it.  Today, I found it truly comforting.  I felt like I was in confession, admitting that I was avoiding the regular appointments partly because of the money and partly because I have been so frustrated.  The short of it is that I am going to end up with an appointment, which as I said above, is probably going to make the new GP happy and is better for me with regard to the theophylline.

The nurse asked me if I was fainting every day.  I said I didn't particularly want to answer that question because I did not want to lie and I did not want to hear lectures about safety.  I think from their standpoint, they'd opt for theophylline over the thyroid medication, where as I am most firmly in the camp that thyroid takes precedence over fainting.

Besides ... the problem with sudden blood pressure drops most is not standing or getting up from a prone position.  It is with stool pressing against my STUPID vagus nerve.  And, frankly, I am just not interested in exploring that issue in detail since there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Anyway, before the migraine started, I spent yesterday resting, too.  If the forecast holds, the next three days will be good painting weather.  I would like to see if I can get two coats on the porch railing.

The only non-resting that I did was to use a toothbrush to work baking soda into the couch.

You see, my beloved fluff-ball adores monitoring the emptiness of the front sidewalk from the back of the couch.  IF I had a brain in my head, I would have put a pad up there for him four years ago.  Instead, I totally and completely and utterly neglected that part of the couch.

Frankly, it stank.
Now, it does not.

I was worried about ruining the couch with the baking soda, but I also did not want to spend any money on odor products.  So, I threw caution to the wind, dumped a mound of baking soda and set to brushing it deep within the fabric.  I think I would like to do it one more time and allow the baking soda to sit longer, especially since my beloved Dyson sucked up all the baking soda as if I never use it.  However, I am all tuckered out from my doctor visit today (too much walking) and need to think about repeating the task later.  In the meanwhile, I fetched my last dog's car blanket (he was a most fearsome shedder) and brought it inside to drape across the top of the end of the couch.

I'll give you three guesses as to what color the doggie blanket is..............

Saturday, May 16, 2015


My allium is blooming.

Don't the blossoms look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book??  

I did very, very, very little yesterday.  Late last night, whilst waiting on Amos, I did take the time to pluck out the grass from the thyme that was growing around the allium.  I think that, for the moment, there is not a single blade of grass growing in any of my beds.

As you can see, the thyme is blooming, too.  That was such a surprise the second year I had it, not knowing that it bloomed.  I really like how it has taken over the beds and that the bulbs just push their way through it.

In the rose bed by the back of the garage, there are three stray allium bulbs.  In the day lily bed, there are three stray tulips.  Today, I relocated them to the bulb bed.

That's it.  That is all I have done for two days now.  A bit of grass plucking and some bulb shifting.  All whilst waiting on Amos to gird his loins long enough to conduct his major business on the dreaded, horrify, practically evil GREEN grass.

I've napped.
I've read.
I've listened to music.
I've watched NASCAR.
I've moaned over my still sore body.
I've groaned over nausea.
I might possibly have eaten too much Honey Nut Chex.

I haven't vacuumed.
I haven't dusted.
I haven't polished the silver.
I haven't pruned my silver dogwood bush.
I haven't swept the leaves from the front porch.
I haven't cleaned the transom framing above the back door.
I haven't painted.
I haven't cleaned the bird poop from the porch ceiling now that the robins are gone.

This is me ... trying to rest.
Amos is enjoying copious amounts of puppy momma time.