Wednesday, December 28, 2016

No gourmet...


This is an example of something I wonder about being biblical, but still find rather comforting. Maybe Romans 5:1-5??




"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."


I feel like I'm being buried.
Worried about Friday's testing.
And next week's new specialist appointment.

But let's think about food!




I AM A SOUFFLÉMAKER!   Specifically, I learned to make a Spinach and Gruyere Soufflé.   soufflémaker!  Pretty fancy, eh?

First, the right dish makes all the difference. When I first tried this recipe, I used a two-quart dish, not catching my error.  My soufflé, whilst edible, was a mighty flop.  This one is a resounding success!  I will admit, though, that I need to thank YouTube and "The Great British Bake-Off" and my step-father for getting me here.

YouTube taught me the folding egg whites technique.  Whether batter or a soufflé base, for best success, mix in one third of the egg whites first, to lighten up the batter/base.  Then mix in the rest of them.  

To mix, YouTube also taught me that the best method is to turn your spatula on its side and use it to cut down into the mixture as with a knife.  Next, twist the spatula so that you can scoop up some mixture.  And then fold it over.  Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and cut, lift, and fold.  Repeat those steps until you have just mixed in your egg whites.

"The Great British Bake-Off" taught me never to grease your dish or else your soufflé will be unable to climb the dish.  It also taught me to make a support structure for the risen soufflé so that it will hold its shape in the oven as it is finishing.  Use parchment paper, cooking twine, and a small metal paperclip.  

Gosh, days later I am still so giddy when I think about becoming a soufflémaker.

But the soufflé brings something to mind that probably will not make sense to anyone but me.  You see, I very much dislike when someone tells me that I am a gourmet cook.  I know it is meant as a compliment, but it is not a true statement.  I am still only at the beginning of my cooking journey.

A gourmet cook has great skill, technique, and knowledge and blends those together to make culinary art.  I have some skill and some technique and some knowledge, but I am no artist.  I doubt I will ever be.  However, I am well on my way to becoming a good cook (if ever I come to understand dough).

To me, what is significant is that I am learning this despite a significant cognitive deficit.  I cannot just follow a recipe cold.  I have to read it again and again until I think I understand it, and then I have to start studying it.  I search out comparable recipes and study their differences.  I read through the comments to see the failings of a recipe or technique or combination.  I try to find someone online making the recipe (or one similar or with a similar technique).  And I rehearse in my mind how to make the recipe.  Only then do I try.

And when cooking, these days, I make so many mistakes trying to follow directions that I use a bazillion prep bowls to get as much of my ingredients ready so I am not having to concentrate on cooking and following directions and measuring all at the same time.

For me, that quiche was as much a triumph as a soufflé, because I had to learn pie crust in order to make it.  That was a month's long venture as I tried to find the best recipe for me to start with and to learn and rehearse the process.  Quiche might be simple for you, but, to me, it was as hard as a soufflé.

So, when you tell me, in all kindness, that I am a gourmet cook, I think, "No, I'm not!  Oh how I wish you would see me, see who and what I am."  I am a cook who's learned the fancy part of chopsticks, but I am not yet a pianist, an artist on the keys.  But I have learned that fancy part whilst partially blinded and deaf.  

[Can one have figurative language in a metaphor?]

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Some tastiness...


I was so exhausted cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry during my parents' visit, that I did not capture a single day.  I was also exhausted by the medical news.  SIGH.

The blood work had came back with much of it positive, so my doctor added on tests to the blood that was drawn.  Some of it is really, really high, so she is rather insistent about seeing the rheumatologist.    She said she could not make a diagnosis, but her nurse told me that she was thinking more about rheumatoid arthritis rather than lupus.  Another chronic disease.

The CAT scan was normal thankfully, however the thyroid ultrasound showed inflammation and also nodules on the right side.  I am to wait six month, have another ultrasound, and do a biopsy at that time if the inflammation and nodules remain.  I am not really all that big on waiting.  I stink at waiting.  

The phone calls for the thyroid scan and the blood work results felled me.



Since my mother came, but was essentially an invalid, my plan went from only cooking half the time to cooking all but one meal.  I am pretty proud of the meal plan that I worked out, trying to balance new recipes for me to try with easy meals where the labor would be lighter.




This Bacon, Gruyere, & Butternut Squash Frittata was pretty darned great.




But compared to this Goat Cheese, Spinach, & Sun-dried Tomato Quiche ... well, I have yet to recover from both learning to make pie crust AND making the WORLD'S GREATEST QUICHE.

I learned three other tasty dishes, but I have yet to add them to my recipe rememberer blog.  I am that tired.

Today, I had to fetch some things.  Tomorrow, I have a delivery and a re-clean of my bedroom, Thursday, I have the electrician coming.   And Friday I have the blood flow testing.  Somewhere along in there I need to get groceries ... the things that ran out during the visit.  So, Saturday is when I can start resting.

I cannot wait for Saturday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Long day...


Mighty tired.
SIGH.

This day did not start well.  I sat up in bed and fainted.  I stood up and fainted.  I walked a few steps and fainted.  Then I had a proper hissy fit about my body both on Facebook and in my room, hollering at the top of my lungs that this was not the day for misery and weakness.

With my parents' visit up in the air after Mother's surgery just last week and with my upsettedness over all the medical disappointing news, I just didn't not finish preparing for their arrival this evening.  I had much to do before my trek to the airport.

I took out the trash, trimmed, divided up the chicken, and put the smaller bags in the freezer, poached the thawed chicken, put away the ginormous container of toilet paper and tissues I bought at the store, cleaned out the fireplace and laid a fresh fire, made flour tortilla dough, and made mango salsa.  I feel like I am forgetting something now just as earlier I knew I was forgetting something.




For dinner, I made quacomole, mango salsa, and spicy Dr Pepper pulled pork tacos.  I am allergic to mangos, so I couldn't taste test the recipe, but I like and respect Pati Jinich's recipes so I was hoping it would turn out well.  It did!

I didn't have a recipe photo to go by and have not seen the episode with this recipe, so I did wonder if maybe I should have diced the mango smaller than I did.  And maybe cut up the slivers of onions more.  I will note that I swapped a poblano pepper for the recipe's call for a jalapeño.




I made my very first ever pie crust dough.  I have been really, really, really stressing over this, a needful component to make my very first ever quiche.  I used America's Test Kitchen's Perfect Pie Crust recipe.

On the morrow, I make my first quiche.
Cross your fingers for me, please!




I would like to note that this weekend I finished the small weighted blanket for Amos' vet tech. I am still super excited that I could do something to help someone else.  Her doctor is rather excited about the possible help it might be for her anxiety.

I went to Walmart and photographed all the Waverly fabric options (the type of fabric I've been using).  She looked through the photos and chose this design.  I love being able to easily create personal weighted blankets.  The vet tech is paying for the supplies.  The sewing was my thank you to her.

Well, from the rather terrible beginning, through all those tasks, then cooking dinner, then making pie crust, this has been an incredibly long day.  In between all that was another visit from the social worker from Parkview's community health program.  I just blurted out all my upsettedness over the medical stuff, despite it being my first meeting with the nurse who is taking over from the one who left.  A total stranger sitting next to the social worker and I just ... bewailed my misery.  SIGH.

Yes, it was a long, long, long day for me.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

One more day...


Today was frustrating.

When I dragged myself over to the lab adjacent to my GP's office, I spent over a hour waiting on them to track down the orders.  They could have walked just a few feet to get them, but kept first insisting that there weren't any, then insisting that I had already had the lupus panel.  I think I would remember if I had already gone for the blood work!  Finally, they found the paperwork.

But, after the draw, they could not print out the barcode with the test order, my name, and birthdate.  I was not interested in a handwritten piece of tape on my vial of blood.  I wanted all that safeguard technology!  Insisting on waiting until the label was properly applied very much annoyed the staff.  SIGH.

I am absolutely exhausted and want nothing more than to sleep until Monday, when the social worker is coming to visit me again.  Only on the morrow is the thyroid ultrasound and the head CT.  I have to be there at 2:00, so leave at 1:30.  Get ready at 1:00.  Wake at 12:45.  Totally not enough sleeping time between now and then ... if you allow for bouts of writhing and/or violent waves of nausea.  One more day to get through exams/blood work/tests/scans.  One more day until I can languish on the sofas with Amos and focus on resting.

Sadly, two more toes are now red and swollen and burning.  My poor right foot.  Walking is not my favorite activity at the moment.  It is hard not to continue to be overwhelmed, especially when the chilblains have gotten worse.  I am fervently hoping that since my right foot is always more blue, that the left foot will be spared.

One helpful note of today was that my GP's nurse let me know the blood work would be longer this go round and not to expect results until next week sometime.  I was grateful for that message.

The best part of the day was visiting with Becky via phone.  Such mercy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

This or that...


Yesterday's doctor visit was discouraging to me.  There were two main health problems of focus, the blinding attacks of pain in my tongue and the burning pain in two of my toes.  I have a tentative answer for both and both answers are chronic problems instead of something discrete that could get better.  However, both also have a that.  It could be this or it could be that.

For the first, my doctor believes that it is what I suspected:  trigeminal neurologia pain.  It is common in Multiple Sclerosis.  One treatment of the chronic pain is botox, which initially was not on my list of things to do ever, but now I think that I would do most anything to keep from having another attack ... even having needles stuck in the side of my head and face.

If I could afford it, that is.

What I have struggled with as much as the attacks and the fear of another one is the idea that I have a new MS symptom.  For years now, my MS has been more bothersome than anything else.  After all, I am rather good at enduring ... or maybe I should say ignoring.

The other diagnosis I received was chilblains.  It is a bit staggering to me that I have damaged skin not from exposure but from the fact that my own skin is as cold as if it had been exposed to the elements.  Chilblains will not heal—a bit of a lengthy process—until my feet stay warm.  Hearing that was utterly disheartening.  That won't be until summer.  SIGH.

But when my GP started looking at my foot, she was a bit more concerned about how blue it was than the reddened, swollen toes.  She asked me to take off my other sock and boot and then spent a long time focusing on how my right foot is more blue.  It always is.  She questioned me about how I was diagnosed with Reynaud's and what testing I had.  None was not an answer that set well with her.  She doesn't want to repeat things unnecessarily, however she doesn't want to just assume something is dysautonomia even if dysautonomia is the most  likely answer.  So, I have blood flow testing on the 30th.

Hearing about two more chronic conditions ... two more new normals ... just felled me.  But there was more.  With the symptoms I've been having, my GP wanted to test me for lupus.  Lupus.  SIGH.

I was so very, very, very certain that the blood work would come back normal.  It didn't.  More blood work tomorrow.  Lots of calls and work to get me into see a rheumatologist as soon as possible netted me an appointment January 5th.  It is an out-of-network doctor, so I am not sure I could afford to see her long term, but she is also female.  The only in-work doctors are all male and are all booked up until April.  I cannot even sort out how I feel about that.

The that of the trigeminal attacks is a growth on the trigeminal nerve, so I have  CAT scan on Friday. She wanted an MRI, but she thought I couldn't have one. I think I can, of a sort, but I would have to read more about my pacemaker.  I am unsure if it would be worth it at the moment, if that makes any sense.

Today's appointment left me with a second appointment on Friday:  an ultrasound of my thyroid.  Today's specialist is not really concerned, but wants to be safe.  My GP?  Her nurse has sent me three messages about not leaving things for a while because my GP is worried.  Her desire is for me to have the best life I can, living with dysautonomia.  Touching.

I am overwhelmed.
I am overwhelmed.
I am overwhelmed.

Today marks 350 days since I last cut.  A few weeks ago, I was totally overwhelmed and wanted to cut for the first time since I walked away from that coping mechanism.  It occurred to me then that I had given up my BIG GUN coping mechanism without acquiring another.  I honestly didn't think then that the need would arise again so quickly and in such a dire way.

After my appointment, the specialist's nurse asked me how I was and I blurted out about missing my BIG GUN.  In a weird and human response, she blurted out that drinking was her BIG GUN and she was working late because she was avoiding going home, afraid she would drink. The look on her face felt like what I knew the look on mine was, so I asked her if she wanted to hear the Word of God. She did. I read her Psalm 51, 77, and 139. She wept and thanked me and said that I was the mercy of God. All I could think is: Where's my mercy? Pitiful, I know.

I need a BIG GUN.  I need one for the This or Thats of my life at the moment.  All the ways I have for managing my anxiety are insufficient when I am totally and utterly overwhelmed.  They are good things in my life.  But they are bandaids.  I need the ace bandage wrap at least.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Number crunching...


Today was a bit of a day to try and cross some lingering things off my list because I have been a bit too weary to do much.  Little things.  Niggling things.


  • Wrap the present for my mother from my brother that I purchased for him.
  • Submit receipts to Receipt Hog
  • Fill out rebate forms for Menard's
  • Write thank you notes to four folk
  • Run the dishwasher
  • Fold the laundry


Of course, those things mean getting up and about on my feet, which have been hurting more, so I thought I would take the time to work on the calluses that I get.  I have two foot files and a Pedegg.  So, I can usually soften up my feet.  And I have peppermint pumice scrub for when I am done.  The issue these days with trying to tend to my feet is that without my wool socks on, they turn blue pretty fast.  Really, it is more black that blue, but saying that they turn blue sounds better to me.

It is not that they become so very icy in my hands.  That I can sort of ignore.  It is looking at them.  Their appearance.  Seeing black feet is really, really, really disconcerting.  Seeing your own feet turn black is really hard to stomach.  At least it is if your name is Myrtle.  SIGH.

The other task that I actually started yesterday because it is such a lengthy one is to enter all my projected 2017 expenses into my checkbook program.  I have 15 transaction a month, five to the small, targeted savings accounts, nine debits, and one deposit.  I have a three-year average of my gas and electric bills, so I make those two amounts add up to the total, adjusting the amounts depending on the month.  The water bill is charged in increments, so my usual bill is static, if you count an ever increasing set monthly amount actually static.  [I pay 50% greater  than my bills the first year I was here.]  I charge everything possible for miles credit, so I have a budget amount for that transaction.  This way, I have a fairly accurate account of how much money I will have any given week of the year.  And as the year unfolds, I change the projected amounts to actual, growing quite giddy any time I am under budget (and a bit morose whenever I am over budget).

With having now seven free prescriptions, switching to generics and using the mail-order  program, along with another two free prescriptions through manufacturers, I just couldn't understand why I am not getting anywhere with my bottom line.  So, I went back over my budget line-by-line.  What I realized is that I am spending $1,200 on OTC meds that my doctors have asked me to take, and that is with dropping the four I just am not keen on taking anymore.  That's a HUGE amount of money for someone on a small fixed-income.

With the increases in real estate taxes, house insurance, car insurance, and medicare premiums and co-pays and no increase in income, things have been tight.  Each year, I do an over/under in each account (checking, savings, and those tiny savings accounts).  Between sewage repair and the breaking appliances, I am ~$1,570 under this year.  Since those three expenses were ~$3,500, that means I did manage quite a bit of penuriousness this year.  That doesn't even include the surgery and all the tests and procedures and extra specialists, which were not budgeted well either.

In the new budget, I massively increased the OTC line and increased the medical line.  That means I had to drop my groceries budget, since I have squeezed as best I can elsewhere.  That was a disappointment for me.  I hope I can stick to that.  As it is, I have a $3 cushion each month.  My goal is to be even more careful with my shopping to make best use of the savings tools I have.  And, of course, to come under budget on gas and electrical each month!  I love me some utility penuriousness!

I actually also have my projected over/under for 2017.  In 2016, the only "over" accounts were the ones for taxes and the Highlander (turning 13 in January).  My long-term goal for my real estate taxes account is to have a year's worth of taxes as a cushion in them.  I am losing the mortgage exemption this year (they give you a two-year cushion when you no longer have a mortgage), so I have no clue how to really budget for taxes.  I have substantially upped the monthly amount in preparation, but I hope that I have exceeded the minimum amount needed so that I will end 2017 with an increase to the small cushion I have in that account.  I think it will take me three-four more years to reach that goal.

I am really proud of having started a savings account for the Highlander.  That way, when I needed brakes this year, I was able to pay for them without stress.  For such an old vehicle, I should save more monthly, but $40 is all that I can swing.  I am fairly sure belts and hoses will be next.  Thankfully, I already have enough for that in my Highlander account.

Amos?  Well, his account is the worst.  He had four appointments between his annual check-up and now.  All the while, I've been saving for his teeth cleaning in February.  I had strong words with him over needing to take better care of himself in 2017.

Still, if you think about it, when I decided to try and save monthly for larger expenses that come throughout the year so that I could better handle them two year ago, I definitely made the right decision.  Each month, I set aside 29% of my income in order to do this.  And I dream of the day where I can somehow manage to live "under" all my number crunching so that I can prepare a bit for what's to come.

I should note that I wouldn't have been anywhere near where I am without my sister's help with the sewage repair bill and my medical expenses.  She sent me small monthly sums six of the 12 months, which really help me from falling into financial despair.  Having a bit of help makes such a difference when your chronic illness often leaves you taking three steps back for every two forward.

Nothing to do with number crunching, but the last task of today was to send a message to my doctor about the new pain (really, a girl shouldn't have to battle pain in her tongue).  I see her on Tuesday, but I wanted to write out a few thoughts about struggling with the all the pain I have and the medication I am currently taking.

I think I have earned a Dr Pepper, don't you?

Friday, December 09, 2016

Extant...


"Words are alive.  But they are not alive as you are.  They do not know change, or age, or decay; their meaning does not drift.  There are no colloquialisms; they are absolutes. Once written, they persist." (Michele Sagara, Cast in Peril, p. 508)

I am about the start the last book in the series that I have already read.  Yes, there is a new book in the Chronicles of Elantra!  Oops.  Wait. I am about to start the second to the last book in the series that I have already read.  Crap.  I just checked.  I am three books away from that last book in the series that I have read.  Well, basically, I am close to that new book (book 12)!

Cast in Peril (book 8) and Cast in Sorrow (book 9) are sort of a matched set.  Kaylin sets out on a journey to the West March to hear the Regalia, a Barrani telling of a story using True Words.  Cast in Peril is the journey there and Cast in Sorrow is the telling.  When I was finishing the former last night I thought more the parallels between True Words and the Word of God.  Maybe parallels is not the right word.  It is just that when I read what Kaylin is learning about True Words and language, I often think about the Living Word.

The quote above resonates with me because I think that the crux of the problem with most approaches to the bible these days.  There is this idea that it is flexible in meaning rather than able to fit all life.  There is a Word for every moment of life because the Word is life.  But the meaning is resolute.  Firm.  It does not "change with the times."

Another passage that really struck me was when Kaylin was talking with the Element of Fire.  On the journey, she encountered beings that she (nor anyone else) understand as to what they are.  In the books, there are some buildings that were created by the Ancients and are sentient.  Many have avatars that can interact with the inhabitants.  In the West Woods, the Barrani have the Hallionne, safe havens that are sentient.  Sometimes the avatars are awake and sometimes they are slumbering, but even in sleep the buildings see to the needs of the inhabitants.

One of the avatars Kaylin meets has ... brothers.  Kaylin wakes them from their slumber that is not slumber.  They take the shape of Barrani, but are not Barrani.  They are not Hallionne either.  So Kaylin, when the opportunity arises, asks Fire if it knows what they are.  It is the fire's response that fascinates me:

     To the fire, she said, "Do you understand what he is?"
     Yes.
     "I don't suppose you could explain it?"
     How?  You might.  You explain me to myself.  Not the heart of me, not the essence of what I am—but all of the ways in which what I am can touch what you are.  It is only in those ways that I exist, for you, at all.  They are the same.  They exist to you only in the ways you perceive. (p. 444)

In this passage, I started thinking about God.  What we know of Him is who He is, but what we know of Him is not all that He is.  We err when we think that we know God, that we know all of God.  Not, of course, am I saying that God is merely an elemental.  Not at all.  But this idea that Kaylin only knows and interacts with only one small part of an elemental when she talks with Air, Fire, Water, or Earth is something that has come up before.  This was the first time one of them stated it so clearly.  And, in the telling, was a bit of an eye-opener, for me, regarding God.

And then there is a discussion that Kaylin has with one of the brothers, whom she has named Wilson. She is asking him about the marks that she sees on these stones.  She wonders if they are actually parts of a word somehow.  And asks:

     Why would it even be written this way?"
     She could feel his confusion. "Writen what way?"
     "When I write words—" She let that sentence trail off.
     "Yes," he replied.  "You have never written a word.  None of you have ever written a word.  You have heard words, Lord Kaylin; you have read them.  I believe you have even spoken them.  But you have not written them; you have always come to the language that is already extant." (p. 489)

I LOVE the idea that the language of True Words is already extant.  The Living Word is the same.  We cannot add to it or subtract from it.  We can hear it and read it and even speak it, but we can never write it because it already exists, because it has been written.  And written for us. 

Oh, how I love that I still discover new thoughts even though I have read through the series many times now.  Language is wonderful.  And the Living Word is an endless fountain of ineffable gifts.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Some good and some bad...




Mother funds a poinsettia for me every year.  This year, this is the one I chose.  I didn't think about how it sort of clashes with my table runner when I was choosing.  I just found the color rather arresting.




I also chose my Christmas tree!  The guy in the store told me to let it relax for a day after taking off the wrapping before decorating it, but I couldn't resist putting on the lights.  To me, lights make a tree more Christmas-y!  Honestly, I could get buy with just white lights and a star topper (I do not have one of those, but am considering getting it as my "Christmas Tree Supply" purchase this year.  Something simple.  A bit antiquish.  I am definitely a start topper kind of person, rather than an angel.  Somehow I know this even though this is only my 2nd ever Christmas tree as an adult!




I gave my realtor a referral for some long-term business, so she gave me a Panera gift card.  I had dinner there after tree and poinsettia shopping.  I brought dessert home for later.  Later meant finding a HAIR baked into my scone.  [Near the base of the right side of the scone reflected in the knife.]   ICK!  Very, very, very disappointed.


Here is another post from the Reveling in the Book of Concord (now defunct) Facebook Group I failed at starting:

"Besides this you must also know how to use God's name rightly. For when He says, "You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain," He wants us to understand at the same time that His name is to be used properly. For His name has been revealed and given to us so that it may be of constant use and profit. So it is natural to conclude that since this commandment forbids using the holy name for falsehood or wickedness, we are, on the other hand, commanded to use His name for truth and for all good, like when someone takes an oath truthfully when it is needed and demanded. This commandment also applies to right teaching and to calling on His name in trouble or praising and thanking Him in prosperity, and so on. All of this is summed up and commanded in Psalm 50:15, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." For all this is bringing God's name into the service of truth and using it in a blessed way. In this way His name is hallowed, as we pray in the Lord's Prayer." ~BOC, LC, I, 63-64

I just adore the Large Catechism and honestly don't get why it isn't (seemingly) taught more, studied more, devotional-book-ed more, lauded more. There is such love for the Small Catechism in the LCMS publicly vocal community, but it seem like the Large Catechism is the neglected step-child. A cinderella of Lutheran theology.

I love this quote because it arrests my mind. "Stop. Do not assume. Read and listen to what I have to say about the taking of God's name in vain," Luther says so beautifully. And then he throws in some Psalter, which is always tops in my book, giving this bit of certitude as the icing on the cake of this passage.

God says, I WILL deliver you and you SHALL glorify me. He doesn't give parameters about just what you need to say in order to qualify as glorifying God. There is certainly no bowing or kneeling or incense-burning instructions. There is no proscription of words. There is just Call and I WILL and you WILL.

It is so easy to think of the 3rd Commandment as swearing or cursing using God's name, but as Luther shows with all of the commandments, there is a depth and breath to it that is for our good.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

No more banging...

I closed down the Reveling in the Christian Book of Concord Facebook Group today.  Well, I deleted everyone but me so that I still had a chance to capture some of my thoughts there to repost here before the group is totally gone.

It is difficult for me to put into words, but the easiest comparison is that the group made me feel just like I was back in high school, unpopular and ignored.  I tried to ... no, wait ... I did beg for participation several times, but few were inclined to do so and my dream of having discussions about what you've heard, read, or thought about the Confessions never came to pass.  A couple of times there was a little bit of response, but no real discussion save for once.  Mostly, what I got back was some type of reassurance about my faith rather than a discussion germane to the BOC snippet posted.  This was especially irksome when I specifically wrote that I was not posting for consolation or assurance, but rather to give an example of how one struggling with faith might read the passage.  SIGH.

I think to have regular interactions on Facebook means you have to be a popular person, and I have never been that.  Just like I am the person who got ignored in high school, college, work functions, and church events, I am the person who got ignored when she bared her intellectual soul on Facebook ... even with over 250 members in the group, most who asked to join.  I mean, out of 250 folk, were every single one of them too busy to engage with a few thoughts about the Confessions or to post what they were reading so that others might share in the BOC joy, too?

Even with it being folk I knew, I could just keep posting and posting and posting.  I felt so terribly lonely and really rather leperish.  After writing yet another this-is-what-I-think post and feeling so terribly lonely and really rather leperish again, I thought:  Silly, Myrtle!  Stop banging your head against a brick wall!  So, I posted a good-bye post and my most favorite psalm.

Since I rarely cross post to here, I decided to save a few Reveling posts before they are gone:


Indeed, the human heart is by nature so hopeless that it always flees from God and imagines that He does not wish or desire our prayer, because we are sinners and have earned nothing but wrath. Against such thoughts, we should always remember this commandment and turn to God, so that we may not stir up His anger more by such disobedience. For by this commandment God lets us plainly understand that He will not cast us away from Him or chase us away. This is true even though we are sinners. But instead He draws us to Himself, so that we might humble ourselves before Him, bewail this misery and plight of ours and pray for grace and help. ~BOC, LC, III, 10-11

I think this is a repeat, but it always, always strikes me when I read that last sentence. "...bewail this misery and plight of ours..." So often, when trying to talk about struggles, I hear: "you have to move on" or "that's in the past" or "it's time to get over it." Another line of pernicious response is: "focus on the positive" or "stop focusing on yourself" or "naval gazing gets you nowhere." [I HATE the phrase naval gazing.]

What I am trying to say is that when bewailing the misery and plight of mine—living with chronic illness and a history of severe sexual abuse—to others, I am often hushed. Misery is not all that welcome in communication. And yet, here, we see that misery is most welcome by God ... that He desires to hear from us. Not merely happy clappy prayers, but the words of our heart ... including our anguish.

That's why I LOVE the Psalter. It is full of the plight of human existence, the joys and the sorrows, the trust and the fear.

It really bothers me when folk tell me that Psalm 137 is not appropriate to read or share or speak. I think it is VERY appropriate because God is the one who inspired it to be written and to be included in the Word of God.

I read that psalm as one of anguish and petulance and fear. Here is this person in captivity who has been told to pray for his captors' success. I see him bewailing his misery and plight. "Are you kidding me? Here I am in captivity with no hope of freedom, watching my captors have everything I want. You want me to praise God? How can I do that in my misery? You want me to pray for my captors? Fine! You know what the prayer of my heart is? That my captor's babies be dashed upon the rocks."

And God would say, "I hear your anguish. I understand anguish. My son will soon be dashed upon the rocks for your freedom. I love you. Cling to that in your time of need."

But then, again, I am a Nutter about the Psalter, so maybe my thoughts about Psalm 137 are just that. Nuts.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Cages...


     "...Kaylin hesitated and then decided against pressing her.  Everyone has reasons for silence and the secretes silence contained.  No one knew that better than Kaylin.
     "But...breaking that silence in Kaylin's case had been like breaking shackles and chains.  It was true: it had.  But it was a choice she'd made, and the choice itself was part of the freedom." ~Michelle Sagara, Cast in Peril

I had a terrible, terrible dream last night.  What made it worse is that Becky, Mary, Celia, and Emily were there with me ... watching.  When I was little, I made a terrible choice to try and escape something.  It is the reason why I struggle to believe that I could ever be clean.  In my dream, I made the choice again.  And they watched.  It was horrible.

A friend told me that nothing is unforgivable.  But the sin of unbelief is unforgivable.  And do not I have that sin since I do not believe that what I did is forgivable?  And, when trying to speak of the dream ... bewailed my anguish, really ... a friend noted that choices by youth in that situation are not really choices.  I follow her logic, but I don't believe it.  I wish I did.  I think of it, of that choice, as a cage.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Old and new...


One of the things I find extraordinary about my new GP was how attentive she is toward pain.  It still astounds me that she know my hair hurts!  Not really my hair, but the movement of it in my head.  She knew.

I mention pain when going down the list of symptoms and have for years, but other than the arthritis, it is as if that mentioning goes in one medical personnel ear and out the other.  Taking my cue from those folk, I downplay it myself.  However, it is getting harder and harder and harder to do so.

My abdomen hurts all the bloody time.  More at some times than others, but never without pain.  It is why I wear such baggy clothes now.  I find that odd ... I used to wear them to hide my shame and now I wear them to hide my pain.  My slow innards have their own pain, from being swollen and distend to being rife with gas from the bacterial overgrowth by food lingering too long in the small bowel.  But most of the abdominal pain is neuropathic.  The specificity of visceral neuropathic pain is just wretched.

Going off the hormones showed me how much they seem to be helping the pelvic pain.  Sometimes it feels like cramps. Sometimes it feels like I have another cyst on an ovary (I had many in college).  Sometimes it feels as if my insides are tearing.  SIGH.

The burning, stinging, electrical pain that appears all over is its own special sort of hell.  I thought that it running along my spine was the worst.  Recently, however, I experienced it in the bottom of my foot for the first time.  Now that was the worst.  Funny how much the bottom of a foot can hurt.

In a way, pain has become very old to me.  And yet it is also ever new.

Today, I experienced a new pain for the third time.  The third time is something you can no longer ignore as a fluke or a one-off.  It is blinding, searing, crippling pain in my tongue.  Yes, my tongue.  SIGH.

It is, for now, fleeting.  Just a few minutes of sheer agony.  Whilst it is happening, I am certain I am dying.  When it ends, I struggle to believe what just happened.  Could I really have fallen to floor to curl in a ball?  The first two times, I picked myself and worked hard to forget.  Tonight, I began to wonder if this was new new.

Is this my new normal?  Lord ... please ... no!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Cling...


Because other folk posting in my Reveling in the Christian Book of Concord Facebook group was a rarity–something that made me feel incredibly lonely—I decided to close the group for I had wanted the group to be fellowship, not some sort of passage posting service for strangers.  But, as I started deleting the over 250 members, I thought about how three of my friends and a pastor I do not even know have commented about how much they liked having the snippets in their feed.  So, I turned the group secret, so random folk would stop asking me to join when they were not interested in participating in any sort of exchange about what they were reading or hearing or thinking about regarding the Confessions.  I kept my friends, the pastor, and someone I knew who does read in the Confessions and hoped might engage from time to time.

I still, primarily, have no fellowship in the group, no engagement of thought or other sharing what they are reading, hearing, or thinking about the Confessions.  However, I do know that those few in the group like to see the Confessions in their feed and what I post shows up in mine.  It is the latter that prompted me, since I am the owner of the group, to decide to post psalms in between BOC snippets. I do love having the psalter in my feed.

I do still have thoughts about the BOC passages, but I mostly do not write them in the post because it makes me feel rather lonely to be vulnerable in front of others and receive back silence.  Really, I feel the freak, thinking I must be the only person who revels in the Confessions, reading them daily and marking up her copy with highlights, underlining, and sticky notes with thoughts and questions.

Today, though, was one of those days I posted my thoughts as well as a snippet:

In the Creed we confess, "I believe...in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who...was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell." In this Confession, Christ's burial and descent to hell are distinguished as different articles. We simply believe that the entire person (God and man) descended into hell after the burial, conquered the devil, destroyed hell's power, and took from the devil all his might. We should not, however, trouble ourselves with high and difficult thoughts about how this happened. With our reason and our five senses this article can be understood as little as the preceding one about how Christ is place at the right hand of God's almighty power and majesty. We are simply to believe it and cling to the Word. So we hold to the substance and consolation that neither hell nor the devil can take captive or injure us and all who believe in Christ. ~BOC, FSD, IX, 1-3

I wrote a blog post about how the Gospel does the clinging, about how telling struggling and wounded folk to cling to the Gospel puts pressure on them to DO SOMETHING when the Gospel does the doing. I still believe that, obviously, since I am wont to stand on a small soap box about the power and efficacy and sufficiency of the Living Word and how folk seem to tend to not believe that in that they look for other words to offer in comfort. However, reading this, I started thinking about what is it that I cling to ... that I clutch wildly in the wilderness. Because, to be honest, I struggle with salvation. With what it means for me to believe and if I do ... if I can. I do find the second to last sentence interesting since believe and cling are separated and yet together.

I cling to the Psalter. Fiercely. Resolutely. Without a single doubt that it is the Word for me. I deeply hunger to hear, to have read to me, John 1:1-5, but I oft doubt it is a Word for me. Much of the Gospel I read wistfully rather than with a sense of ownership.

I also cling both fiercely and resolutely to bits of the BOC, chief amongst them LC, IV, 17 ("For it [the Word] has, and is able to do, all that God is and can do."). Even though it has been so long since I have had the Lord's Supper I cannot even remember, I also cling to LC, V, 55-74, what I believe is the most beautiful and loving writing in the BOC. I would add that the BOC is as dog-eared as the Psalter is, and I ramble around in it much the same way I do the Psalter.

I oft wonder if others, in reading passages like this, stop and consider what it is to which they cling ... especially when wandering about in their own wilderness.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

A goat...


I have this basket that I use to carry things up and down the stairs.  Well, I use it in the morning and the evening.  It is a basket that a woman used to bring me muffins.  It is, to my recollection, the only time someone did something like that.  She wrapped the handle in GREEN ribbon imprinted with the message "all things grow with love."  When I started having trouble carting my stuff about in the mornings and the evenings, especially the medical stuff, I started using the basket.  I don't really think about it, other than glances at the handle warms the cockles of my heart.

I don't think about the basket when it comes to Amos.
I should have.

Wednesday, when I fetched my prescriptions, I left the benzonatate downstairs, because I had filled days in my medication containers that did not have the medication.  Once I filled them, I put the bottle in my basket and forgot to take it out when I got upstairs.  The bottle had slipped beneath the slippers and the scrunchie and the blinders so I just didn't see it.

I am not sure how Amos did.  But he did.  I know that he did because of what I found.




SIGH.

The cap is gone.  Completely.  There were some orange bits along with a pile of the generic Tesselon Perles.  Thankfully, once counted, I was only one short of those pills, used to quiet the cough that starts my cough variant asthma.  I am hopeful that it is somewhere on the floor that I cannot see, but I am not really worried if Amos ate it.  What it mostly does is numb the tissue of my throat to stop the coughing.  It certainly didn't kill him.

Strangely, Amos didn't vomit on the bedroom floor last night.  Usually, when he is being a goat, he vomits all the inedible bits rather conveniently on the floor.  I expected a mess but did not get one.  Small blessings.

Amos is not a chewer.  I mean, he has four different chew bones (3 downstairs and 1 upstairs), which he gnaws on quite a bit.  But he doesn't chew on slippers and such.  Well, he is rather partial to a gentle gnaw on the zippers of my hoodies if I leave then lying on the foot of the bed.  The point is that what Amos does do is pick out tasty treats from things set on the floor.

I know this.  I know this because I have to tell women to put their purses up on the deacon's bench if I spot them lying on the floor.  And I know this because Amos is wont to pluck electrical tape from tool bags.  Amos loves choosing chew bones from tool bags.

He's a goat.

This early evening, my neighbor took me to work on the stockings I am planning for my parents.  We had gone out earlier, but my blood pressure tanked and I ended up lying down in my car with my feet up in the air as my pacemaker calmed down.  I had been standing too much.  I am thankful I did not faint in Menard's.  I did miss two things on my list, though.

My neighbor drove my car home and I guzzled Gatorade form the kitchen floor.  After resting and salting and hydrating, I went out again.  The second trip was more protective, with many things on my list.  And a frosty on the way home, consumed fully because of a very, very, very slow train.

When I arrive home, Amos goes nuts.  Starting about a year ago, nothing would do but I had to pick him up and hold him for a few moments before even finishing walking in the door.  If not, Amos would jump and jump and jump and jump until I did.  It is as if Amos needs reassurance that I am actually home.

Tonight, when I arrived home, I held Amos and then tried to carry the shopping bags inside.  He wasn't done with me, however, so I held Amos whilst carrying the shopping bags inside.  Then I set him back down.  I was having a cold spell, so I went straight upstairs and turn on the shower.  I thought I would blanche myself a bit to try and turn my feet from blue.  Amos, though, was not done being reassured of my presence.  He's always attentive as I shower, oft peering over the side of the tub to check if I am still okay.  But that wasn't enough.  He wasn't done with being assured of my presence.  So, he clambered over the side of the tub and joined me!  I learned my lesson.  Stay with Amos until he feels assured then get on with things.

A goat.
A clingy goat.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Cursed...


My microwave is breaking.  Actually, it is already broken, but still functions somewhat, sometimes.  Mostly, it turns on and off by itself.  If it turns on by itself, the only way to turn it off is to disconnect the power and let it sit for a while.  Often the buttons do not work for a while.  And when you open the door and shut it, then it comes on-but-not-cooking and is stuck in cannot-use-mode most of the time.

Open.
Shut.
Open.
Shut.
Shout colorful metaphors.
Open.
Shut.
Open.
Shut.
Long for the sun to go super nova.

I feel appliance cursed.

The good news is that the replacement is $151 LESS than what I paid four years ago, coming in at $199 if bought by tomorrow.  It is 100 watts less than what I have, 0.2 cubic feet smaller, and has only two fan settings as opposed to four.  I do not believe that those three down-sizes are worth the extra money.  It also does not have the steam feature, but given that I have never used the steam feature on my current microwave (or most of the fancy features), I am 100% confident that I will not miss it.

What it does have is a heat protection auto-fan feature.  Being a lazy venter, I probably need that automatic feature.  Greatly.  Maybe I ruined the microwave with my lazy venting.  I happen to love the smells of my cooking.  Mostly.  Besides, most of my cooking was at the front of the stove so there was not all that much steam rising beneath the microwave.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.




Thursday, December 01, 2016

The deepest cut...


I found this recipe on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and wanted to try it.




These Banana Oatmeal Muffins are what I think baked oatmeal might be like.




It is not the best of photos, but you can see that the texture is a bit different from a muffin, being made entirely with oats.  I was wondering how it would work without flour.  It worked very well!

I bought bananas on Wednesday, but was too exhausted when I arrived home to even think about cooking the muffins I had been dreaming about.  They were worth the wait.  More so than their tastiness, though, I enjoyed the making of them.  Cooking is the one thing that I can do these days.

Of course, I no longer just try a recipe at the drop of a hat the way that I did when I first started cooking.  I study the recipes.  I read them again and again and again to ensure that I understand them.  I also go through the recipes mentally, sort of cooking them in my mind.  And, these days, I try to do all the prep first, measuring things out and putting them into small dishes and chopping or mincing or peeling and the like so that there is little disruption to the flow of following the recipe.

You see, even with all my studying, I still read and re-read whilst I am cooking.  I get confused, after all.  I disremember what I did or how many of this or that I added.  So, if I measure out the flour before hand, then I do not run the risk of adding too much or too little using my oft foggy brain.

Cooking is hard.  But I can do it.  I can have success, as I did here.

Writing used to be as easy as breathing to me.  Okay, perhaps not quite that easy, but nearly.  After all, I wrote my dissertation in a mere two months.  I love writing.  And I still think about it all the time.  I write in my head much of the day, but I no longer write with ease.  Even my blog posts are arduous.  It is difficult to concentrate, difficult to communicate.  I make errors I never did before.  I miss the errors that I make when I am proofing what I have written.  I lose my train of thought.  I struggle to understand what I have written and to remember what it is that I started to say.

Losing my ability to write wth east is the absolute worst loss of dysautonomia.  It is one that I grieve daily.  It is the deepest cut.

Thus, I am thankful that I can still do something, albeit a little clumsily and often a lot messily.  It is something that I can savor myself and share with others.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Another day...


My appointment went much, much better than I thought it would.  Last night, I was up all night worrying.  SIGH.

What I like most is that we have a plan.  Actually, we have two plans.  As for the hormones, I will continue them for two more years and then stop them again to see if I am in menopause.  I am already concerned about stopping them again, but I understand the need for such action.  The specialist reassured me that since I re-started them within 24 hours of starting my period that I shouldn't have another one.  I had worried about that.

The pain.
SHUDDER.

We talked about the reconstructive surgery again.  I understand that my nerve malfunction is a problem.  My doctor bluntly said she thought I could have lifetime pain from it.  Still, not having a repair is becoming more difficult for me.  So, she brought up her alternative once more:  physical therapy to try and build up the muscles around the damage.  Uhm... no thanks.  Then, at the end of the appointment, she brought up the use of a support device.  She is concerned that I would find it too painful, and I would need testing first.  If I am a candidate and IF the device seems helpful, it would mean an initial four visits with her.  Four times of nakedness.  An impossibility and yet I liked the idea of a support device for my female innards.

So, I have an appointment in six months for the testing.  I have the option to moving that appointment up, say about four months.  The time period is to help me wrap my mind around the exam and tests and whatnot and for me to save for those four appointments.

I had an asthma attack whilst I was at my appointment.  I really, really, really loath the attacks that seemingly come out of the blue.  I tried drinking water when the coughing started, but it eventually became too much.  So, I used my emergency inhaler.  I was immensely thankful for my (now old) pharmacist Kaitlyn, who spent time teaching me how to use the inhaler since I left the hospital without such.  This time, when I used the inhaler, I could feel its effects rather quickly.  And the coughing and wheezing were halted before I reached that point of no return.

As much as I did not want to suffer thorough the experience of prescriptions at Walmart, the two I get on GoodRX are even cheaper there.  So, after I finally left the doctor's office, I went to fetch prescriptions and some groceries.  It was an agonizingly long process, but the prescription savings were so great that I got 90 Benzonatate pills and the hormones for the same cost as what only 30 pills and hormones would be at Target.


video


I remember the ingredients for Vietnamese Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes.  I had completely forgotten just how tasty this dish is!

Today (last night really), I finished up the seasoning of my cast iron pans.  I have not done well in that department and I have not done well as a cast iron pan owner.  My 12-inch and 6-inch pans were used and the 12-inch was coated in rust.  I finally found this really great article on seasoning cast iron. It made sense to me and was clear in the process.




The process, after you get the pans prepped (I didn't do as great a job at that as I could have) and oiled, is to bake for one hour then cool in the unopened oven for two more hours.  Then oil and  repeat.  Five times.  Yes, five!




The end result is clearly worth the time and effort!  After the second round, it is easy to look at your pans and feel as if you are not accomplishing anything.  After the third round, hope blossoms.  After the fourth, impatience abounds.  After the fight, culinary giddiness.

It's been a long, long, long day, but it was a day of positives.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pain...


On day 36 of no hormones, I started my period and learned exactly why it was that cycles came up so often on dysautonomia forums.  Dysautonomia exacerbates things and its accompanying neuropathy magnifies pain.  For a while there, I honestly doubted I would get through the moments before me.  Having another migraine did not help.

All thoughts of saving money by being off the hormones went flying.  I became rather desperate to start them again and wonder what brand I can find after the last two I was one were discontinued.  fortunately, I still have six weeks worth, so I started them on Friday after trying to reach the specialist who manages them for me.

I just don't see how I can face such pain again.

The refrigerator was delivered yesterday.  Coming early was a pleasant surprise and it has many upgrades over the earlier model that I very much prefer.  The lighting is fantastic and the ice cubes are not those skinny rectangles that melt faster than you can finish a drink.  No, instead they are actual cubes!  Well, trapezoids really.  It also rolls around quite easily.  I couldn't move the old refrigerator unless it was empty.

However.
However it's making a fan spinning sort of noise.
Loudly.

I see the specialist on the morrow, so I am not sure what she'll say.  One of her nurses sent a note today asking me to hold off starting the hormones back, but I had already done so, of course.  Being a wimp about the pain.  Being terrified of it coming again.  I know my GP doesn't want me on them, though she has not explained why.  I know that my age is changing the equation.  But the pain....

A while ago, I watched this video on Chronic Pain Management in Dysautonomia by Dr. Paola Sandroni, who is the head of the autonomic clinic at Mayo Clinic. Something that she quipped has stuck with me, "Don't cut!"

For years, I have been going back and forth over having the specialist repair internal damage from sexual abuse.  That comment—almost an aside—has stuck with me ... like glue!  I started thinking about how much difficulty I have had from the pacemaker incision.  A year later and it still hurts.  A year later and it still itches like nobody's business. I often wish for it to be cut out just to stop the itching.

Whilst I was writhing in pelvic pain, abdominal pain, and migraine pain, I was desperate and thought that maybe I should at least have a hysterectomy to keep this from happening again and to be off the hormones.  But when the pain began to ease, I and realized why Dr. Sandroni was saying that cutting is not the answer to pain.  I started thinking about just how many nerves would be cut in reconstructive surgery or even a hysterectomy and I became overwhelmed with just how much dysautonomia affected every blasted facet of my life.  SIGH.

A part of me is curious about the appointment on the morrow and the rest of me is just terrified.  It wasn't just the unbelievable cramps.  It was feeling as if I was being stabbed internally for days on end.  I just cannot go through that again.  I am barely through it right now.

In a way, the early delivery of the new refrigerator with all the work of moving all my food out of the old one and then all of that back into the new one, as well as carting up the food I had put in the basement when things started freezing in my refrigerator and carting out all the packaging to the trash ... well ... the exhaustion was a good distraction.

Just think.  In twelve hours, I'll know what the plan is for me.  For the pain.

SIGH.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Worrywart...


I was such a mess when Amos was at his worst.  It was not that he was vomiting everywhere, but that he kept vomiting.  Neither he nor I slept.  I am 99.99% sure it was the Benadryl, which is good in that he stopped vomiting when I stopped it, but it is not good in that Benadryl is an important and useful medicine.

It was hard to see Amos' skin so very red, but he is strikingly better after four days on the allergy medicine that the vet gave him (the very non-economical allergy medicine).  His skin is normal color, his fever is gone, and all but two of the spots he chewed have peach fuzz growing on them.  The two worst spots on his backside are bare skin, but the skin is almost healed.  I am very, very, very relieved.

Friday and Saturday, Amos mostly slept.  He was up all night Wednesday vomiting, so he was tuckered out.  But I guess being all inflamed made him exhausted, too.  Today, he is back to his perky, sneaky, cuddling self.  And his appetite has fully returned.  You know Amos is in a bad way when he is not interested in his food.  Friday morning, when he didn't finish his breakfast, I was scared.  Now, though, he is back to his 30 second scarf job.

I am bothered that this is the fourth illness of Amos since May.  Three fevers in such a short time when my other dog never had a one.  His vet said that he could be immunocompromised, especially since he went through such a vicious trauma when he was so little.  Amos is getting his teeth cleaned in February, and his vet requires a full blood panel before anesthesia.  I would much rather that happen now, but I don't want to pay for it twice given that I just bought another refrigerator!  However, I worry.

The blood work will look at his blood cell counts, liver function, kidney function, and pancreas function.  With Amos being so much better today, as opposed to how ill he was on Wednesday night, I am worried less.  However, I am looking forward to his blood work.  I want to know that there is nothing long-term wrong with Amos.

Yes, I am such a worrywart where my beloved Fluffernutter is concerned.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fragility...


Something I find difficult to explain is how fragile I am emotionally.  It is the same with heat.  I say that it is too hot for me, and I am most often immediately corrected.  With temperature dysregulation, any temperature can be too hot.  The other day, I found myself sweating profusely whilst it was 60 degrees in my house.  Sixty degrees can leave me huddled beneath a pile of blankets shivering in misery.  Sixty degrees can leave me drowning in sweat.  

I am not saying that I have emotional dysregulation, but I am saying that I know how fragile I am.  And I often do not watch or read or even listen to some things because of how I feel.  Sometimes, whilst watching or reading or even listening to something, if I feel my balance slipping, I stop.  I often end up Googling for synopses, to see where the story might go, to see if I might handle it.  

For a while now, I have been primarily re-reading, finding safety in stories I know.  And re-watching. Seeking safety in the familiar.  I do try new shows, but I have given myself permission to abandon them when I am struggling.  When I sit and think about that, it discourages me.  I have changed so much with dysautonomia.

I think the two things I find most difficult to handle in the stories I read/watch are 1) injustice and 2) the evil mastermind who is always one step ahead.  I think what I like most in the stories I read/watch are folk struggling with brokenness.  And, of course, I love a good story, well-written with strong character development.  This year, I have started and stopped several shows, but one that I love is Fox's "Lethal Weapon." 

I was practically raised on the "Lethal Weapon" franchise.  Or maybe I should say that those were the movies I watched with my father ... during the good times.   After all, who doesn't love a good a good shoot-'em-up?  What I love about the show "Lethal Weapon" is its exquisite, but subtle storyline of loss and grief.   It is a slick show, with tons of stereotypical action.  Fast-paced, each episode is over before I realize it.  However, woven in all that fun are the storylines of Riggs grief over the death of his wife and Murtoch struggle with his own fragility (after a heart attack).  It is a lovely, lovely, lovely show.  

I watch it and smile, thinking just how much my father would like it.  I watch it and weep, for the agony of loss.  I watch it and hunger, at the love and commitment of family show.  I watch it and chuckle at the rather incredulous stunts.  Hollywood can be so silly in what it sells.  I watch it and marvel, at the craftsmanship of the writers.  Ingenious, really, to slip such quality into such a slick package.

When I think about the Stella Young TED Talk and her thoughts on the capacity of our bodies, I think that I want to be both gentle and strong with regard to the fragility of my emotions.  I want it to be okay that there are things I simply cannot watch or read or hear.  At least not now.  I guess I am saying that I think one of the messages of her talks would be that my fragility is not a weakness.  It just is.  Live with it.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

An answer...


Last night was just brutal for me.  Amos started vomiting and didn't stop for hours.  All over the sofa.  All over the rug.  All over the pillows.  All over me.  All over the floor.  All over the main staircase.  I took away his water, even though I was worried about his hydration.  His last expulsion was around 3:00 AM, when he vomited in my bed.  SIGH.

I did not get much sleep.
I dreamt he died.

His vet and vet tech are simply wonderful.  To him.  To me.  Because I often sit on the floor, they prepare a room for me with a few blankets on the floor for padding.  Because Amos is so nervous, they will start his appointment sitting on the floor with him and then move to the table.  They listen to ALL of my fears and worries.

We determined that, hopefully, the vomiting and the denuding himself are two separate issues.  We believe the vomiting was from the benadryl, that Amos is unable to tolerate it.  I stopped it.  The vomiting stopped.  I wish he could have such an effective medication, but I am glad Amos is no longer vomiting.

Whilst I was whispering sweet nothings to Amos and giving him body massage after waking this afternoon, I discovered a flea.  It shocked me since he is on a combination of heart worm and flea medicine.  Being an ex-professor, I put the flea between a piece of tape (I should have wrapped it up in a kleenex) so that I could bring it to the appointment.  Given the flea's presence and the worst bare spots being on his behind, Amos appears to have a bad allergic reaction to flea bites.  Since he had no fleas and no flea dirt (poop) when they searched his body, the vet thinks it was just that one.  It is difficult for me to think that one teeny tiny thing could do this to my dog.  Plus, I am highly allergic to fleas and I have no bites!

It turns out the combination medication that Amos takes is one that renders fleas sterile so that they cannot reproduce.  So, the vet switched Amos to a combination medicine that kills fleas, so that one can only bite once.  Sadly, that type is more than double the price of his original medication.

The thing is ... for 11 days now, I have been walking Amos.  A couple of weeks ago, I spent the whole day languishing on the sofa, not even eating.  Amos languished with me.  I was struck with fear that I was turning Amos into a couch potato, so I decided to start trying to walk Amos every day. To venture out with my cane and walk a few block out a few blocks back.  Let me tell you, Amos prefers to be the couch potato.

With the warm weather and Amos having to walk through leaves on the sidewalk, he likely picked up a flea on our walk.  So much for puppy dog exercise!

Given his cherry red skin, even on his lips, the more expensive combination medicine is warranted.  He gets his heart worm medicine on the 1st of each month, but the vet asked me to switch today so as to prevent another occurrence.  She said it can take a few weeks to get his inflammation calmed down and it is best not to have any more bite whilst working on that.  I wanted to tell her I'd be glad to stop walking, but that would not be best for my little Fluffernutter.

There were two good bits of news:

First, Amos had become a bit of a chunky monkey.  His weight ballooned to just over 27 pounds.  Given that his mom was eight pounds and his dad was 10, he already is a bit of a porker.  The vet would like him, for his frame, to be about 22 pounds.  We dropped his food down last December, but at his visit in May, he was still ... hefty.  She talked about switching to a sedentary diet since I am disabled, but that costs more money.  So, I asked for me to try one more thing.  I just didn't tell her what.

You see, I think dry dog food should be wet.  And I was wetting his food with milk.  I doubted that a little bit of milk twice a day would make a difference, but I switched to water.  The other main thing I did was start being meticulous with his scoops of food.  I have a quarter cup scoop (from powdered  Gatorade) and he gets two scoops per meal.  I was rounding them, which I realized meant he was really getting five scoops of food a day.  Now, I watch to ensure the scoop is mostly level before dropping it in his bowl.

Amos is now 23 pounds.  One more pound to go!  His vet believes that if I continue walking him each day, then he will be the lean, mean Fluffernutter machine she wants him to be.  The vet tech helped me adjust his harness because it was practically falling off of him.

Second, Amos is now taking theanine, too!  A short while ago, Becky mused about theanine for dogs when we were discussing his angst.  I smacked myself in the forehead at my stupidity and went searching.  I found several brands and set about reading ingredients.  I settled on Composure, primarily because it only had three active ingredients instead of a boatload of things.  Today is Day 6 of his taking Theanine.

I have noticed that Amos flinches less when I touch him and have deeply enjoyed that.  Since the pit bull attack, he has not enjoyed being petted.  What was remarkable is that Amos let both the vet and the vet tech touch and handle him! AND when it came to examining his head, they did not have to use a muzzle.  I was sooooooooo excited ... doubly excited that they noticed a difference in him.

That pit bull attack robbed so much from Amos.  It changed him and diminished his quality of life.  I have long searched for ways to ease his angst, his constant hyper-vigilence. This is a small, but significant step in that direction.

I certainly hope that Amos' inflammation calms down more quickly than the two-three weeks the vet said that it could take.  It is hard for me to look at his raw skin, to know that he is hurting himself.  And he's been just plain miserable.  At least the answer to his illness is far better than I feared when he was puking his guts up.  And it is a tiny bit cool that we share the same allergy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Cleaning day...


Today is a cleaning day.

My parents have been funding a monthly, full-house clean.  Of course, we had the great debacle with The Maids, who broke an original floor register and I had to battle to get recompense for it.  When Mother started pushing me to find another cleaning company, I was deeply hesitant to look.  It wasn't just the things that were broken or even battling to get the cost of the replacement reimbursed.  It was just how ugly the owner and manager were to me.  The things that they said still haunt me, as much as I have tried to put them out of my mind.

This is now the third clean with CottageCare.  I am happy to say that they actually do a better job.  And, more importantly, they have stable staff who are quite friendly and positive.  Having the same team leader three months in a row is a relief.  Her partner, now two months in a row, is rather diligent and I hope that the pairing remains long term.

I generally have several goals before cleaning days, chief amongst them being to stop cleaning the house the night before.  No, I do not do a house clean, per se, but I do tend to empty all the trash and clean the kitchen counters.  I go around and look for (and remove) dust bunnies, too.  My dirt embarrasses me.  Shames me.

In the past, I have tried to get Amos bathed, the bedding changed, and the toweling and bedding washed, dried, folded, and put away.  That is a lot of work for one evening, although having a clean Fluffernutter and a clean house and clean sheets is just marvelous.  However, since Amos has started taking exception to his skin, licking now eight bald spots in the process (we have a vet appointment on the morrow), I was advised to hold off giving him a bath.  That seemed contraindicative to me.  But the vet tech said that some skin problems give off an oder that helps with diagnosis.  Of course, she also said that his skin could be fine and Amos could be having some stress issues.

Amos.
Stress issues.
[SNORT]




My bundled sage and thyme had been drying on a rack in the solarium.  I had wanted to get it out of the room so they could vacuum the rug and to get them ... processed ... so that the mess of that job would be cleaned by the maids, not me.  I am pleased to note that I accomplished that goal ... with about 15 minutes to spare.




Another goal has been to get some cooking done the night before, not the day of the clean.  I somehow had gotten in this place of finding myself in need of cooking the day of or the day after a clean.  So, last night, having skipped the whole bathing Amos task, I made another batch of Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Meatballs and one of my Medley Black-eyed Peas.  I had wanted to make some more of my bloody fantastic 15-Bean Soup, but I am out of the package of 15-beans.  Sadness.




Amos kept me company whilst I was cooking.

The last goal was to clean out the fire place, lay another fire, and move the canvas bag for logs out on the back porch so that the hearth can been cleaned well.  In cold weather (we are finally having some cooler weather), I tend to leave a stack of wood over by the fireplace even when I am not having a fire despite the fact that doing so is very decidedly not visually restful.  Last winter, the maids just cleaned around it.  This winter, I would like to clear the space around the fireplace

I left this last task for after the maids arrive.  They typically start on the second floor and clean it completely before the first floor and the basement are cleaned.  Although one of them does the bathrooms and kitchen before joining the other on all the rooms.

The best part about CottageCare is that this is not a time-based clean.  It is a house-size based clean.  So, the maids are never pressured to hurry up and finish.  I was very, very, very clear about the basement being on the clean list, which was a constant source of dispute for The Maids, despite knowing about it beforehand.  I like how CottageCare describes my basement: laundry room, bath, rec room, bedroom, living room, and utility room.  The latter is the only part of my house that the new maids are not cleaning.  And I think that is just wonderful.  [The whole house cleaning part.]

As for the clock, it is definitely running fast now, so I stopped it to make another adjustment.  When I went to the clock shop to pick up my grandfather's pocket watch, the repairman told me that the way you "look" at a nut on a pendulum to determine which way is clockwise is to look down on it.  Of course, I was right; to turn the nut clockwise means lowering the pendulum and, thus, slowing the clock.  I am looking forward to having the timing set correctly, but I do not mind working on the adjustments because it means I have learned something new.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Clocks and fries...


My father's clock, once I brought it home, was running crazy fast.  A part of me was frustrated, because I paid a significant amount of money to have it repaired.  However, the repair took a month longer than expected and the owner has been inundated with folk bringing in their clocks after an article about the clock shop appeared in the paper.  It is the only clock shop in a several state region.  So, I Googled.

I learned that, on a pendulum clock, if it is running slowly, you need to turn the nut on the bottom of the pendulum clockwise.  You know, I find that direction rather unhelpful!  What is clockwise on a nut that is sitting horizontally on the bottom of a pendulum.  At first, I thought it meant turn it from right to left, like a clock.  However, that was so absolutely not the right direction.  I sat and thought and thought and thought until I realized that unscrewing the nut lowered the weight of the pendulum, which would make the pendulum swing slower.  If I screwed the nut tighter on the stem of the pendulum, the mass would be raised (shortened) and it would swing faster.  Swinging faster would move the clock works faster and, thus, increase the running of the clock.

The articles I read talked about adjusting your clock on its weekly wind.  But with it losing around 12 minutes a day—my adjustments to correct the time make it impossible to know just how much it was losing—I wasn't willing to spend weeks correcting the clock's time.  After all, I can see it from my sofas!

I learned that one-half turn is about 30 seconds in a weeks running of a pendulum clock.  When I first started adjusting the clock, I thought I had taken a big swing at the running (yes, I watch NASCAR), but the clock was still slow.  I had to redefine "big."  It started with two tentative adjustments, which I thought were substantial.  They were not.  Then I took three big swings at it, adjusting the clock in the evening and then waiting to see where the time was after I woke up for the day.  The last swing was a bit too far as my father's clock started running too fast!  A part of me was glad to see that, especially since I am not a clock repairman and have been tackling this timing problem with much fear and trepidation. 

Today, all I did was adjust the time, not the pendulum. I wanted to live with the last change to see if it being slightly off was a function of my not setting the time properly yesterday or if it is still a wee bit to fast.  The clock seems to be about 90 seconds too fast ... or 90 seconds set improperly.

I thought for a long time about what day of the week I would like to chose for the winding of the clock.  I mean, it was wound in the shop on a Tuesday, but that day doesn't have to be my winding day.  I finally settled on Sunday, because my father, like myself, was a lover of football.

Opening the face to either set the time or wind the clock, makes the clock shift on the wall.  Since part of having a pendulum clock run properly is having the works hung level, this causes a bit of a problem.  I would like to figure out a way to put in something discrete (like a push pin) that will stop the clock from moving.  For now, I drew a pencil line on the wall to give me a guide as to where the clock should be hanging.

The clock repairman spent quite a bit of time with me in the shop teaching me how to hang the clock.  You need to first hang it level with a level guide, but then you also need to listen to the TICK TOCK. It must also be "level," or perhaps "even" might be a better word.  It must sound as if there is equal weight and time spent on the TICK and the TOCK.  If one seems stronger than the other, then that will affect the time.  This is because the works of your clock might be slightly off from the frame of your clock.  So, for example, on my clock, if you hang it with the level bubble slightly to the left of the window on the level guide, then the TICK TOCK will sound even.

Of course, walls can also affect how a clock is hung as both old and new construction can be off as well.  Houses are rarely built fully plumb (I think that is the right term).  In my house, I noticed that whilst the level bubble still needed to be to the left on the window, it did not need to be as much to the left as it needed to be on the shop wall.

Who ever knew that owning a pendulum clock could be so very complicated!

What is not complicated?  Going to Wendy's today after 4:00 PM.  A portion of all proceeds after 4:00 PM will be going toward helping foster care children find forever homes.  I love that Wendy's supports adoption so publicly and oft puts its money where its figurative mouth is.  Having fries and a junior bacon cheeseburger is not a difficult thing to do to support foster care adoption.  Thousands and thousands and thousands of children in America need loving homes, need permanent families.  If you are a health nut, have a salad.  Or bring a frosty to a less-than-healthy-guru friend.