Monday, October 31, 2016


October is Dysautonomia Awareness Month.  This year, I have not posted like I did last year, mostly because I oft write about my struggles.  However, I thought that this video was a good overview of the neurological disorder:

I particularly like the image here, that you see as the image for the video:

The two things on here that I do not see often on other listings, despite how common they are, are: 1) Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and 2) Temperature Dysregulation.  I watched the animator draw these symptoms and I was struck ... dumb, I guess ... by what my life has become.

Of course, what is missing on this collection of symptoms are: 1) Gastroparesis, 2) Small Bowel Bacterial Overgrowth (SBBO), and 3) Constipation.  Basically, what is left out is how wretchedly dysautonomia messes with your digestive system ... really ... with anything that is an autonomic (automatic) process in your body.

The other day, on one of the two small Facebook dysautonomia groups' wall, I saw someone post about having tachycardia and shortness of breath just from rolling over in bed.  For the smallest moment, I felt un-alone.  It is so very difficult to sleep, as I wrote about yesterday.  Having to have the ice packs, though, is only a small part of it.  When I roll over to my right side, my heart rate goes up and I am short of breath.  I can feel my heart pounding, hear it in my ears, and it wakes me.  And, frankly, anytime I am short of breath I am scared.  It is such a frightening sensation.

Then there is the problem of the nerves in my arms going to sleep, which causes both numbness and pain.  I also struggle with the pain of the weight of the bedding on my always painful abdomen.  And I oft get dizzy when I move my head.  The oddest thing is to faint whilst in bed, sometimes when I am reading.  There I am, all calm and peaceful, and I pass out.  Confusing.  Annoying.  Frightening.

I could go on and on and on about the battle in bed, especially with nightmares and night terrors, but I do not believe those are from Dysauonomia.  But perhaps.  Maybe ... since the anxiety is a symptom of Dysautonomia.  Those aside, the point is that it is a battle to sleep, which is doubly difficult since I need more sleep.

Of late, I have been deeply discouraged over battling chronic illness.  I do think it like riding the proverbial carousel.  Round and round in circles, whilst moving up and down.  Disorientating.  Wearying.  Difficult to focus.  But it is also an opportunity to learn ... to learn to be grateful for the smallest moments and to learn to live in the in between.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Eat, exercise, think...

Living with chronic illness, it is difficult not to bow to the pressure of "eat yourself well" or "exercise yourself well" or "think yourself well." The heart of the messaging around you is often this idea that if you just DO SOMETHING different, such as eat, drink, or think, and you will get better. "Have you tried ________?" are some of the most soul-crushing words you can hear from folk in your life.

It might seem such a small thing, but I cannot sleep without ice packs. I put two of them together and wrap them in a cloth napkin to make them last longer. I sleep.  They thaw.  I wake.  I stumble downstairs to get new ones.  Sleep.  Thaw.  Wake.  All "night" long, as I generally do not sleep much more than two hours at a time.

I will find myself thinking that the need for ice packs is all in my head. That if I wanted to sleep without them, I would. Doubt creeps in and sows its pernicious weeds in your mind and life.

Early this morning, I fell asleep without the ice pack and subsequently woke incredibly ill.  Nauseous.  Trembling.  Dizzy.  Confused.  Weak.  It took every bit of my fortitude to move my body enough so that I could fall out of bed and prop myself up against the wall. The illness wasn't going to pass until I got the pressure off of my head, but doing so was terribly ... nearly impossibly ... difficult because I was so very, very, very ill.  It was a very sobering reminder of the failings of my body for me.

I cannot eat my autonomic nervous system better.
I cannot exercise my autonomic nervous system better.
I cannot think my autonomic nervous system better.

I know this and yet find myself doubting ... taking up that egregious chorus, "You could be better if you really wanted to."

What an unwelcome, powerful reminder that the truth is that I cannot sleep without ice packs.  At all.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Brown, bushes, and a ballot...

My evergreen is turning brown, with the leaves (do you call them that?) falling to the ground.  I am rather worried about it, because I disremember it ever turning brown before.  I thought the name means the tree stays GREEN all year long.

Late tonight, realizing that it was Thursday (the day before garage collection), I popped outside to prune down my rose bushes for the winter.  With all the STINKING HOT weather this fall, the roses are rather confused.  I ended up cutting off many buds, these being a fair selection.  I wonder if they will open.

Other than some hasty pruning to fill the rest of the yard waste bag, all I accomplished today was to check on the status of my absentee ballot, which is now marked received.  Finally, after torturing myself trying to stand in line, I got the brilliant idea of registering for absentee voting.  The packet that arrived was, to me, far more confusing than using machines.  For one, the ballot had 330 ovals that could be filled in on it.  The voting options didn't start with one and move down numerically, so I had to hunt for each grouping of numbers.

The thing that sort of cracked me up was that I had to put my ballot into a privacy envelope.  Then I had to put the privacy envelope into the signature envelope.  Then I had to put the signature envelope into the mailing envelope.  Personally, I think two envelopes would have been sufficient.  I will admit that I was a tad disappointed that there was no "I Voted" sticker in the packet.  Still, I am thanking for the opportunity to vote without great strain on my body.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Finishing touch...

I had my first fire last night, because I was still trying to hang in there sans heat to make it through the  end of October without using the heat.  I wanted at least two weeks of not having to pay for the use of my HVAC.  I gave in, tonight, though.  Whilst it is not too cold outside, it is 49 degrees in my house.  Or rather it used to be 49 degrees.  Right now it is a toasty 56 and I have the thermostat set to let it rise to 62!

When Electrician Man first walked down the basement stairs, yesterday, he was really surprised by the change in that half.  He thinks it is just like a home.  Given that Fort Wayne is a city of scary basements, this was high praise.  He also used the same word as I have:  oppressive.  As in, you realize how oppressive those massive crate shelves were now that they are gone.  I was lightly pleased with his compliments.

I was not really liking the idea of the conduit for the outlet by the table to actually be by the table.  I was trying to figure out if should be run close to the bookshelf when Ben said that he thought he could run it down behind the bookshelf, since the conduit already had a bend in it.  With some jiggling and a bit of pounding, he got it just to where it needed to be so that you cannot see the outlet from this direction.  Since it had been attached to the wall in the opposite direction, tonight I painted the other side of the conduit so that it would match the wall.  I love, love, love the result.  I have my outlet and you barely notice the conduit.

The best part about the paint job?  I only had to use the lid.  You see, if you shake a can hard enough to mix the paint, then you will have a bit of paint on the lid.  No drop cloth, no tape, no prep at all.  Just a small brush and the lid.  Pop the lid back on, wash the brush, and clean-up is done!

The outlet makes the finishing touch on this transformation.  A month or so later, I am still giddy over the change and how much I enjoy being in the basement now.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Picking and pruning...

I was a bit shell-shocked after the appliance repairman left my house, but still managed to catch him still sitting in his truck asking him to hold off ordering parts.  I paid the $68 diagnostic fee and made my way back inside to freak out on the phone with my friend Mary.

All in all, fee included, it will be $440 to repair the broken bits on my refrigerator, primarily with the ice maker.  I miss ice. FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY DOLLARS!  Mary helped me immensely get past the upsettedness over that financial obstacle.  Later, when talking to Becky, my friend suggested that I only pay for the labor and part for the ice maker itself, rather than the dispenser.  After all, who really needs ice in her door?  BRILLIANT IDEA.  Labor and part will be an additional $188.  Still an incredible obstacle, but nearly as insurmountable as FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY DOLLARS!

When Becky called, I had already harvested the sage and thyme and was working on turning the soil. Well, first I dug up the herb plant remnants and then worked at turning the soil.  Those green sprouts at the end are garlic ... I hope.

I hope.
I hope.
I hope.

These are my dismal squash plants.  Zucchini and summer squash.  I just don't know what happened to them, because according to the packet, there was plenty of time for them to bear fruit.  I got tons and tons and tons of blossoms, but ...

This is the only microscopic vegetable sprouted from the plants.  I doubt, given the weather turn, that it will grow.  I have thought about just ripping these out, so that I can finish turning the soil (and digging out any weeds).

In all my turning of the rest of the raised bed, I only encountered a single worm.  I put hundreds and hundreds and hundreds in there.  SIGH.  It had grown nice and big, though.

I did so enjoy turning the soil.  I admit that I am rather proud of its richness, a lovely mix of potting soil, compost manure, and peat.  It has held up rather well over the past three growing seasons.  And, whilst I used a trowel for most of the work, I am wont to just dig in with my hands.

I brought the herbs upstairs and worked on bundling and them hanging them.  This year, instead of using clothespins (using up most of my stash for a couple of months), I decided to cut the string pieces longer and tie them (using a bow so as to easily untie them) to the rack itself.  I decided to make this change because I was tying up (pun intended) both the drying rack and the clothespins (which I would use on a laundry line) until the herbs dry out.  This way, I still have the clothespins to use when it gets too cold to hang my laundry outside (I have a line I use in the basement).

Afterwards, I tackled the very, very, very overgrown begonia in the solarium.  Being rather tired, I was, perhaps, a bit too hasty in my pruning, but it was so very large!  I left one tall branch and cut another one a bit, but staked it so that it could grow alongside the tall bit ... complement it shape wise.  Then I pruned all the WIDE branches, so the entire plant fits much better into the room, into the space, and into the pot.

If you look on the far side of the table, you will see the baby string of pearls I am gestating.  It has been a long, long, long start, but after two years, it looks like it is doing its stringy thing!

Late this evening, I poached some more chicken.  Since I am using the forgotten method most, I thought I would try the chef's suggestion for aromatics: green onion, star anise, ginger, and sesame oil.  I will admit that I do not much care for that combination.  I will be interested to see how it tastes in a salad on the morrow.  I think it is a good thing that aromatics in poaching chicken are a subtle flavoring.

Anyway, whilst I started my day shellshocked, I ended it with some good productivity ... crossing things of my list that I had been procrastinating a bit.

On the morrow, Electrician Man is coming to service the HVAC unit for the winter, as well as to replace the HEPA filter.  We also talked about having him either move the plug that was by the table to where the table is now or running a new plug to that location.  I am not sure which he'll be doing.  I am not sure I really have a preference, though moving the existing one is less money.

Also, tomorrow, Firewood Man is coming to mulch.
And bring me fresh eggs.
And admire the work I did in my beds.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

New tastiness...

I did not prune and tend to the overgrown begonia in the solarium today.  Neither did I harvest and bundle the sage and thyme from my bed.  Mostly, I rested and thought about doing those things.  However, I did achieve a culinary goal I set for myself a few months ago:  a tasty chicken meatball.

Somewhere along the line, I heard about a making chicken meatballs with sun-dried tomatoes.  First, I had to track down ground chicken (not an easy feat).  Then, I had to track down a recipe (also not an easy feat).  Finally, I had to remember that I had actually bought the ground chicken and found the recipe and wanted to make them (most definitely NOT an easy feat).

I mostly found a recipe to use, but I had to adapt it.  For one, it called for 1.5 pounds of chicken and I had a 1 pound package.  Since it was so hard to track down, I wanted a recipe that fit the amount of ground chicken I could buy in a single package.  For another, the recipe had different herbs.  I wanted to use my fresh herbs, so I substituted those.  Other than working out the different amount of the ingredients to adjust to the lower amount of meat, I switched from processed to fresh bread crumbs.

When I got everything mixed together, I was a bit worried, because the mixture was ever so wet!  I wondered if the balls would even stay together, but they did.  The original recipe called for olive oil brushed across the tops of the meatballs.  I decided to use the olive oil that was packed with the sun-dried tomatoes.  In doing so, it basically coated all of the outside of the meatballs.  I really was a bit nervous popping them into the oven.

At first, when the timer went off, I admit that I thought the oven was not on because the meatballs looked pretty much the same as when they went into the oven!  However, when I stuck my thermometer into every single meatball, they all registered 165 degrees or higher.  I also admit that I was skeptical about how these ... blonde ... meatballs would taste.  However, the end result to my recipe tweak were some rather BLOODY FANTASTIC Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Meatballs!

I ate them with penne pasta and gruyere cheese sauce.  Whilst the pasty was tasty and the meatballs were tasty, they did not really fit well together.  They competed with each other instead of complementing.  So, I want to try a tomato cream sauce and, perhaps, angel hair pasta.  Or maybe even just a tomato sauce.  I am just not sure.  However, I have plenty of meat balls to find that perfect pairing of pasta and sauce!

I am quite pleased with this culinary success.  I learned my brother and his beloved will not be coming at Christmas, which is disappointing, although I understood why.  But, oh, man!  Would these have really floated his boat!

Saturday, October 22, 2016


Today was a good day in that I got the succulents and begonias migrated up to the solarium for the winter.  It was a good day in that I got the plants moved.  And it was a good day in that the plan I had for the solarium ... went well.

When Mother came in May, she helped me get the annuals for the pots on the front porch.  Since succulents have done so very well in the solarium though the winter.  They didn't just survive, they thrived.  In fact, last spring, I left the jade in there because it does better inside than out.

Thinking about that, I decided to fill the six GREEN pots on the front ledge of the front porch with succulents.  I enjoyed them all summer and though that I could continue enjoying them next year and thereafter.  I also was thinking about how I had plants sort of ... higgledy-piggledy ... in the solarium and the changes I made to that room and how I would like the room to be over the winters now.

The succulent (which I cannot remember what it actually is) on the bookcase stayed inside all summer, too.   The jury is still out over whether or not that was a good idea.  It has new growth, but tiny bits, not large and pouffy like the rest of the plant.  Below it, I put one of the begonias and the other one on the other side of the door.

I like the symmetry with the two stands now.  I have the six matching pots up top, three per stand with one of the two bonsai pots (I killed all of my bonsai in the move here from Alexandria).   I had been keeping the jade tucked over by the corner of the bed (where the basket is) but I moved it to create a bit of separation between the two plant stands.

Besides moving the porch plants, I also dug up the rosemary from the raised bed and potted it.  The first winter with rosemary bushes, they were fine.  However, the second winter, when larger, they died.  I used these free pots I had been given, not realizing that they did not have holes for drainage.  So I am hoping that this new pot that I bought will make a difference.  I had planned to harvest the rosemary before digging it up, but I let fatigue get in the way of that plan.

The hanging basket is the un-remembered succulent that I created the pot on the bookcase and the two bonsai pots.  It is a most forgiving sort of succulent that roots well and is just so darned lovely to me.

I decided to get the stand from the attic and use it to elevate the rosemary.  I was not sure being down on the floor would garner it enough light.  Before I rearranged the solarium, I really had not found a spot in the house for the stand.  Well, it was in the parlor for a while before I moved the small desk in there.  Anyway, the marble on top of it is cracked, but I have never minded that.  I did, however, glue it together with Gorilla gel super glue today, in the hopes that the pieces would hold together.  But, if not, I might go ahead and try regular Gorilla glue.  I just figured if I was going to have something heavy on top, I should make the repair effort.  Now that it is in that spot,  I think I might keep the stand there permanently.  As long as, it doesn't feel too crowded to me.

The string of pearls is back up on the plant stand where it wintered last year.  The strings are so very long now!  I just love, love, love that I haven't killed this plant!

The rest final wall to the room is the one with the table and rocking chair and the largest begonia, which I left in there all summer.  However, I let it get so straggly that I was a bit too embarrassed to photograph it to complete the 360 view of the room.  I hope to get it pruned and tended this week (as in no longer put off what I have been putting off for months).

Tomorrow, though, what I really would like to do is harvest the sage and thyme, bundle it, and hang it to dry.  I am not sure just how low of an overnight temperature those herbs can take, but I don't want to find out the hard way.  We've been in the 40s the past two nights.  I think that is low enough.

I am pleased, though, with today.  I am thankful I got the porch plants and the rosemary inside.  And I am thankful that the vision I had for spreading plants about the room so that it was less crowded in winters past panned out for me.

Friday, October 21, 2016


A short while ago, I learned that the hormones I switched to after Larin went off the market a couple of months ago were recalled.  The pharmacist was certain that this was just a recall and would not result in my having a switch again.  I was nervous, but his words reassured me.

On insurance, you generally have a short window in which you can pick up your prescriptions early.  So, for example, I can pick up the pack on day 17 for the 21 pills.  After a long while of doing so, I am now over a pack ahead.  I am very, very, very careful to be ahead on the hormones, the arthritis pain medicine, and (now) my blood pressure medication.  At first, it was because I wanted to be ahead.  Now it is because I need to be ahead. I need to because I forget to pick up my refills and am oft late on fetching them.

Then, this week, I got the call that Gildess is being pulled from the market.  SIGH.

I freaked out.  I looked up the remaining brand options.   I freaked out some more.  I called my specialist's office and left a rather pitiful voice mail message.  And then I freaked out even more.  Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I started wondering ... what would happen if I went off the hormones?

When the nurse from the specialist called back, it turns out my doctor and she had had the same thought.  They were not sure how to bring it up with me, given just how bad I was four years ago and just how terrified I am of going back there.  But it turns out that I am the one who did first.  I asked the question.  And so we are waiting to see what the answer is.

This morning, I stared at the 6:00 AM handful of pills from the first box in the day's container for the longest time.  In it was not the tiny hormone pill that I half wanted to be there.  I kept thinking It's been 48 hours now .... when will I start the decline?  I really am afraid of what might happen.

Will I start bleeding again?
Will I get my period again?
Will I fall into insensibility again?

All the things that were resolved once my hormones were balanced.  All the things that made life so difficult.  I fear them.  And yet I have wondered.  It's been five years of hormone therapy.  Maybe I am better.  I am forty-nine.  Maybe menopause has started.  I now have the theanine.  Maybe the anxiety medication will be the difference.  Those are three huge differences to where I was five years ago.  Perhaps there is less to fear.

Even now, I am thinking ... it's been 66 hours; when will the shoe drop?  I think the difference in me, a difference I see since the spring, is that I actually have a bit of hope.  Maybe the shoe won't drop.  Maybe, even if my cycle returns, it will not be so awful.  Maybe this one part of my body will no longer be a disaster.

Still, I do not much like waiting.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Needle and thread...

I did a bit of sewing yesterday, which means I did a whole lot of resting today.  I find sewing exhausting.

This is my belated birthday gift for my nephew.  He has autism.  He likes this really old, really heavy comforter on his bed, even though he gets so hot sleeping beneath it.  I use the smaller weighted blanket I made when I sleep, just draped over my torso.  And the other smaller one I use on the couch, when I don't want visitors to realize that I what I am using.

This one is from a bolt of fabric that was longer than the first ones I made, which made it much, much harder for me to sew.  I still cannot figure out how my best friend made my full-size weighted blanket.  I would like one for upstairs, a full-size one, but I cannot figure out how you get it through the machine.

I am hoping my nephew likes it.  Blue is his favorite color, if you haven't guessed that.  I did drag myself to the post office today, in between naps, and mailed it off.  He should have his gift on Thursday.

I had the idea of making my smaller version of weighted blankets for Becky's children, who have wanted their own weighted blankets.  Her son's favorite color is red, so this is the fabric I chose for him.  As you can see, it came from a regular size bolt of fabric and so is slightly smaller than my nephew's.

Making them is not all that difficult.  First, you sew three sides of the fabric to make a sort of pillow case.  Then, you turn that inside out so the seams are hidden.  Then, you sew straight up from the bottom to the open top to create a column ... and then another ... and then enough to work your way from one side to the other.  On this one, the columns are essentially 4.25 inches.  Once you are finished, you get to start filling the weighted pellets.  I have been putting 1/4 cup into each pocket that I am making.  After shaking it all the way down to the bottom, what I do is use 1,001 pins to pin the pellets into the pocket space.  Then, I measure where the top of the pocket goes (4.25 inches) and pin on each column seam.  That gives me markers when I go to sew from side to side to create a row of filled pockets.  After that, it is repeat and repeat and repeat until you get to the top.  On this blanket, that makes nine times of filling and sewing closed.  Then, when you get to the top, you fold both sides of the top of the fabric down, pinch it closed, and pin it so that you can sew it closed.  Finally, if you are me, you go back and sew the top of the column seams so that they are completely connected to the top seam.

Easy peasy, right?

Even with pinning the weighted pellets down, I sometimes miss a few.  Yesterday, that meant that I broke my first needle.  I tried to call Becky for help, but she was not home.  So, I went to my stash of YouTube videos about my machine to try and figure out how to change the needle.  [I need a short handled screwdriver for future broken needles.]  I stand when I am pinning, using an ironing board as my work space, and so my pacemaker goes haywire and I end up sweating quite a bit (and trembling).  Sitting, working on that blasted needle, I was also sweating and Georgie let me know that I was worked up something fierce.  However, I managed to gain the victory.

This is the fabric I chose for Becky's daughter.  [I am a sucker for a toile.]  Because I miscalculated how much weighted pellets that I would need, I ran out of them when working on Ellie's blanket.  I got six of the nine rows completed.  Since I have only ever bought the pellets when they are 50% off, I had to go searching for another purchasing option if I didn't want to wait for another sale.  I finally found some.  One thing I have learned is that not all weighted pellets are alike.  The ones I originally used on my small weighted blankets are 5.4 ounces per cup.  The ones I used on these are 7.4 ounces per cup.  The ones I ordered are 7.5 ounces per cup.  You can get them as heavy as 10 ounces per cup.  I think the mid-weight ones are best.  You know ... the opinion of someone who is NOT a seamstress and who knows so little about what she is doing.

I have become much better at making bobbins.  You see, for each fabric purchase, I have bought matching thread, which means winding new bobbins.  Winding bobbins is nerve-wracking.

I am also stellar at threading needles.  This is because I STINK at snipping the thread at the end of a seam long enough to keep it from bouncing back and pulling itself out of the needle.  SIGH.

Working on Ellie's blanket makes me very much want a toile one for myself.  And it occurred to me that I wouldn't mind having fashionable weighted blankets to take with me whenever I go out instead of just to a doctor's appointment.  Of course, I would like at least one more to use on the porches on the first floor and one for the airing porch, because carrying weighted blankets up and down the stairs is not something that is in my best interests, even if the use of weighted blankets calms my nerves.

The part of me that very much needs visual rest is going a bit bonkers with the sewing machine and ironing board set up still in the dining room.  I am hoping that the weighted pellets come by Saturday, so that I can finish this project by then.  I want my neat and tidy dining room back.

The plan was to wait to mail those for Becky's children until my next budget cycle, but I have already mucked up this one with having to buy more pellets.  So, I might not wait and then just hope to make up that overage next month.  Making weighted blankets is a mere fraction of the cost of buying them, but making weighted blankets is not an economical gift.  Pellets are expensive and shipping weighted blankets is expensive.  And, surprisingly, the thread is nearly as much as the pieces of fabric I buy (Waverly fabrics at Walmart).

Amos, being a glutton for weighted blankets, would prefer that I not mail any of them out.  He adores being smothered by them (or me ... at the moment he is stuffed behind my back against the sofa).  If ever you questioned how pressure calms the nervous system, all you have to do is see the difference in my Fluffernutter sleeping beneath a weighted blanket verses sleeping in the open.  Without the pressure, just taking a deep breath on my part triggers his hypersensitive startle response.  Poor little puppy dog.

You know, my mother bought me the sewing machine so that I could hem all the curtains upstairs.  I had to learn how to use it.  And basically all I can do is sew a straight (but not really straight) line.  I was able to make the curtains for the guest room she uses, because that is just straight lines.  And I learned how to make weighted blankets because, again, that is just sewing straight lines.  I wonder what other projects I could learn that involve simple, straight lines.

Not that I want to do any more sewing any time soon.  I am still weary from the bit of yard work.  And now a bit of sewing.  It is a good thing that I have a puppy dog who doesn't mind my napping much of the day.  Still, I am a bit proud of my slightly sloppy work with needle and thread.  Hopefully, one teenager and two children will find comfort and calm as a result.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fern labor...

Saturday, I forced myself to tackle lowering the fern bed.  I was going to wait until Sunday, but I was mostly avoiding thinking about things.  I slept most of the day, not even starting the work until around 6:00 in the evening.  So, I was already racing against the light.  A part of me laughed at how I worked and a part of me wept.  I really am not strong enough for shovel work.

I raked as much of the mulch off of the bed as possible, onto the sidewalk.  A big mess.  Then I dug up the three largest ferns and moved them to the other side of the house in the three open spaces in the hosta bed.  I thought it was two spots, but I have four sets of two hostas growing over in that shade bed.  At that point, I also filled up the pot from the tree that I kept (since it is so large ... like a gardening bucket) with mulch and moved it over to the hosta bed.

Then I dug up all the remaining ferns and lined them up on the grass.  Because it was getting darker and darker, I am not actually sure that I got all of the fern.  But I tried.  Once they were removed, I raked as much of the dirt as I could to get the bed back down to the sidewalk level.  Then was the job of putting all the ferns back.

I dug holes ... a lot with my hands because I could no longer stand with the shovel.  It was a feeble job, really, and quite poor.  A C- effort at best.  I lined up the ferns more in the middle of the bed, so there would be room for expansion.  In putting them back, I had a few leftovers, so I wrapped them up in a plastic bag and thought to plant them on Sunday.  However, it rained all day yesterday.

That was great for my relocated ferns.
And thyme.
And sedum.

All of the mucking about in the yard now had proper refreshment, between the fertilizer I used and the long soaking by the rain.  The rain also helped to clean off the very, very, very dirty sidewalk.  I had put some soil back and a bit of the mulch.  I carted away as much as I could to stick behind the burning bushes (my dumping ground).  And I swept as best I could.  But the sidewalk was still dirty.  No longer, though.  The rain really was a blessing.

Of course, that meant that I did little yesterday besides languish on the sofas with Amos, who seemed intent on giving me extra affection.  Not content to lie beside me, Amos insisted on curling up in my lap.  I didn't mind.

[An earlier photo of my beloved Fluffernutter.

Copious amount of sleep and copious amount of Tylenol for my weary body.  I am still tired and sore today, but I am deeply thankful that I was able to tend to the things in the yard before Firewood Man comes to mulch.  I really am trying to set up the yard for less work for me, given that I am just not able to putter out there as I once was.

Now, I still need to get those last ferns in the ground.  And there is still a bit of the (weed-free) thyme that I would like to salvage.  But, as you might agree from the photo above, I am looking forward to Tim killing off all the infested thyme and returning the long bed into a visually restful, weed-free, simply mulched bed.  If I cannot get to the last of the thyme before he comes, I will be okay with that.

As to the ferns, I might move them over to the side garage bed.  I had put the stonecrop there, but, as you can see, it grew way, way too high and is a bit of a mess.  I dislike the look.  Although I have never been one to toss plants, I just might get rid of the stonecrop and put the ferns here.  They would do well in the shade.  And the old rose bush in the middle is slated for removal.

Notice the longer grass?  I had Tim skip the mowing this week so I could enjoy the blades waving in the wind.  I was hoping we would have cold weather and I could have long grass all winter, but it is STINKING HOT again, so I'll need another mow.  My luck will be that the weather will turn cold as soon as Tim drives off and so I have short grass all winter.

You know, if I actually want it to be STINKING HOT, it won't be.  It is annoying, to me, to have the AC running in the middle of October.  My utility bills have been higher with all this STINKING HOT weather.  And it struck me, yesterday, that maybe we will not have a Fall the way that we did not have a Spring.  We went from using the heat in May to having the AC on ARCTIC BLAST in June.  It was weird.  The poor part of me really wants those days where neither heat nor air-conditioning is required.

I should go get to those ferns.
Maybe after a nap.
Or two.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Good things...

Another yard task done today!

I keep trying to have mulch here, but it just washes away.  Or something.  And so Amos will stand against the fence protesting folk on the side street and get all muddy.  Since the thyme in the bed across the yard is being killed off to deal with the weeds, I wanted to move some of the good bits (weed free patches) here.

Voilà!  I will try to remember to keep watering this for a couple of weeks until it takes.  I also put some thyme into three bare spots further down in the bed here, but I did not take photos.

This was ever so much work!  I was surprised, because I thought it was something I could do.  Just moving this bit of thyme took me over two hours ... and lots of lying on the ground.  Still, I am pleased.

I also tried a new recipe: Lemon Thins!  This recipe calls for half butter/half shortening, so I took the opportunity to substitute lard for the shortening.  So, this was my first attempt to cook with lard.  I personally believe these are BLOODY FANTASTIC, if you are a lemon thins kind of person.  I immediately brewed a bot of tea and nibbled on an undisclosed number of the four dozen cookies.  Mmmm!

So, basically, this was a day filled with good things!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Today, I wanted to tackle one of the tasks for my yard:  the sedum in the front bed.

You see, Firewood Man is promising to get my beds mulched soon.  Last year, he mulched, but did not bring enough and we never got around to finishing it.  I had not mulched the year before, because dealing with bags of mulch is no longer something I can really do.  So, for the Mulching Queen, my beds are somewhat lacking in mulch, which means keeping up with weeds is quite difficult.  Given I have been ill and it has been STINKING HOT for months, keeping up with the weeds means noting them in passing but not actually plucking them from the ground.

A couple of years ago, I put in sedum plants in the front bed.  Because my rather beleaguered variegated boxwoods are so small, I have wanted to have a lower decorative planting in front of them.  However, the sedum was taking over the bed and it looked just so off and there was quite a few weeds making the whole bed just tacky.  But it has been STINKING HOT so I haven't dealt with it.

I wanted to remove the sedum before Tim mulches, which means I needed to do that this week.  But I didn't want to just dig it out and toss it.  After all, I paid for that sedum.  I had plans for it.  Plans mean work, though, and work doesn't go well with my weakened body.  Still, I persevered.

My main plan was to try and use the established sedum in the hummingbird planters on the front porch and in some of those pots.  I just love having growing things on the porch, but it is draining to plant annuals.  This year, I filled the six GREEN pots on the front ledge of the front porch with succulents.  Since succulents thrive in the solarium over the winter, I planned to winter them and, thus, eliminate the need for annuals in those pots.  But I didn't want to be ferrying a million pots up to the solarium each winter and back down each spring.  Hence, the plan for the sedum.

Eons ago, I had sedum on my balcony in my apartment in Alexandria.  I had it for several years there and for several years on the deck of my house.  I just somehow managed to kill them all after moving here.  Hopefully, I shall be better at remembering to water them this time.

[Feel free to laugh at the remembering part.]

I have these two matching pots on the ledge by the fern bed.  One is rather large, so I filled that one because I am hoping, like the planters, its size will help the sedum.  Upon reflection, though, I might should have not filled the pots so full.  I suppose time will tell.  I also filled four smaller pots just to see how they will do.

But I had way, way, way more sedum to go.

My next location was on the other side of the porch, opposite the fern bed.  There is little sun on that side of the house.  In fact, the bed alongside the house itself is almost all shade.  That is where the hostas are.  Firewood Man has done a phenomenal job of getting the grass to grow around the corner there, but right up against the porch is still bare.  I filled a 12-inch strip of sedum from one end of the porch wall to the other.  A lovely patch of GREEN now.

But, alas, more sedum awaited relocation.

My last location of choice was beneath the forsythia.  Sadly, it was completely bare, having been not mulched in several years.  It needed more soil, so I relocated some of that, too.  I need to actually buy soil, but I was able to move enough so that there is hope the sedum I relocated will live.

I watered everything, but it also rained tonight.  I think that will greatly help the sedum I put into the ground.  We are to have a cold overnight low on the morrow, which makes my mucking about with the plant segments not exactly timely.  However, I am a great believer in whispering sweet nothings to plants (and bushes and trees and bulbs), so I did that, too.

The work was quite difficult for me.  The researcher part of my brain was observing just how much harder it is for me to use a shovel.  I think that observers might have snickered at the sight of me rather feebly digging into the front bed.  I mostly laughed at myself.  But I also wept a bit.

In addition to dealing with the sedum, I cut clippings from the scraggly Wandering Jew baskets on the front porch. I made them three years ago and probably should have refreshed them this year.  I will root the cuttings over the winter and recreate the baskets next spring.  For now, they are serving as a centerpiece for my table.

Needless to say, I am bloody exhausted.
Hours later.

I have two other yard tasks I wish to accomplish.  One is time sensitive, because of Firewood Man's help.  You see, the thyme growing in the Rose of Sharons bed is full of weeds.  I weed and weed and weed and these tiny plants keep growing back.  I love the beds full of thyme, but not weeds.  So, Firewood Man is going to use his super strong solution to kill off all the ground cover in that bed.  It will just be mulched.  However, before he does, I want to relocate some of the weed-free thyme that is growing at the end of that bed.  There are a few bare spots in the bulb bed that I could fill in.

This teeny, tiny part of me thought to try that today, but I knew I had already blown past what little energy I had, so I put away my tools.  That task, though, will not be too hard.

The other task I wish to do will.
Really hard.

You see, I wish to dig up the fern bed and re-plant the ferns.  It is really, really, really over-mulched.  A bit of a hill, really.  I wish to clear out all the mulch and plant the ferns into actual soil.  Then, when Firewood Man mulches, it can be properly mulched.  Since some of the ferns are growing right up against the sidewalk, relocating them would be good.  And I hope to move two of the largest to mix them into the hosta bed.  I am just not sure I will be able to empty out the bed ... all that shovel work.

Mostly, I am trying to clean up yard, with the aim of minimizing the work they need.  More perennials and succulents that can winter in the solarium.  Elimination of thyme so I can simply kill off the weeds when they appear.  Beds that are ready for mulching by someone other than me.

If I don't move the thyme, I'll lose the opportunity to fill in bare spots, so I hope to get that done.  If I cannot get to the fern bed, that will surely wait, given its glorious growth.  At the least, I am really, really happy that the front bed no longer looks a mess and is ready for mulch.

I miss, deeply, the ability to putter in the yard for hours on end.  Puttering in the soil is so very soothing.  Relaxing.  Peaceful.  And, of course, puttering in the soil results in copious satisfaction because you are rewarded instantly with the fruits of your labor.  You are DOING SOMETHING and then can look about you to see that you have DONE SOMETHING.

My ability to putter is greatly diminished.  That grieves me.  But it also has spurred me to create a yard that is minimal in maintenance and yet still is beautiful.  I am getting there, I think.  A silver lining....

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


One of the things that I do these days is to watch cooking shows on PBS (when I spot them).  My two most favorite are "Pati's Mexican Table" and "America's Test Kitchen."  On the latter, I watched them make Eggplant Involtini and immediately wanted to make it.

This is not a dish for a single person, since I knew it wouldn't keep well.  Fortunately, my best friend's folk were driving across the country and came to visit for a night.  At first I was rather nervous about trying an un-tried recipe with guests, but Bonnie is so sweet and kind I know a colossal failure would be okay.  There would be no shame.  After all, on one of her visits, I somehow got the Thai Honey Peanut Chicken so salty that it was literally inedible.  Even rinsing off the chicken did not salvage anything.  The chicken was completely salty, too!  SIGH.

I am so very proud of this dish!  And, truly, Eggplant Involtini is incredibly tasty to have as your meal.   It is roasted eggplant slices filled with a cheese mixture and finished atop a tomato sauce.  My can of tomatoes was a bit too small, so my sauce was a bit sparing, but tomato sauce is not my favorite things, so I gave my share to my guests!

I served it with sautéed asparagus and roasted broccoli.  My broccoli was more charred than roasted, but it still tasted good.  I would have preferred it in the oven less time, but I messed up with the timing of working through all the steps of the dish.  What I learned most from making Eggplant Involtini because this is definitely a dish that works best when you do all the prep first and then slowly work through the cooking steps.

I also served salad and Peanut Butter Nutella Cheesecake Bars.  Mmmm.  The meal was a bonafide success and all were happy.  A week later, I am still a bit giddy.  After all, I think Eggplant Involtini is a top tier dish to have in your repertoire for guests.

Something that I have realized about cooking is that I had a totally inadequate kitchen.  By that I mean I needed more equipment and more ingredients.  One piece of equipment that I recently bought is a set of mixing bowls.

I have been using the glass bowl from a silver chafing dish until now.  I found this set at Walmart, 10 bowls for $15.97.  I find that to be a good deal.  The largest four are what I would consider mixing bowls and the other six more of prep bowls.  Having a wider bowl selection has definitely made cooking easier.  For example, with this recipe, I used the second to largest bowl for the tomatoes, the fourth largest for the cheese mixture, and then the smaller bowls for things like onions and garlic.  The bowls are Anchor Hocking and nest well.  They also fit into the space where I had that one chafing dish bowl.

Today, I discovered a recipe for Lemon Thins.  I went NUTS and wanted to make it IMMEDIATELY because who doesn't love lemon thins???  However, I did not have one of the ingredients.  Sometimes, I feel like all I do is track down ingredients!   This time, I need to find lemon extract.  SIGH.  But I do know the effort will be worth it.  If nothing else, this is the one area in my life that shows clear progress, rather than inexorable decline.

Monday, October 10, 2016


I have been struggling, clearly, as this is the longest silence on my rememberer blog.  Most of the time, I just don't know what to write.  And much of the time I am too exhausted to do the work of writing, which guts me, since writing used to be to me as easy as breathing.  Struggling so much so that I started this entry four days ago.  SIGH.

When I am upset and ill and weak, I am most desirous to DO SOMETHING.  I was so worried before the surgery that I took it out on the rather ugly, chipped and stained old bookshelf to the left.  I painted the same GREEN of the stairs and the utility closet door.  But after the surgery ... after what I heard ... I still needed to DO SOMETHING.

Firewood Man blesses me in so many ways.  This time, he helped me DO SOMETHING to my basement.  I have disliked those wooden shelves (actually crates) for as long as I have owned this house.  Even though I used them for storage, I disliked them.

At first, I had the idea of getting rid of them and adding cabinets.  Only cabinets cost money, where as down-sizing is free.  Even though I doubted I could truly downsize the need for the shelves away, I managed to do just that!  I reorganized the utility closet, downsizing a bit there, and utilized the space I freed up there to keep what I wanted easy access to, such as mailing supplies and spare lightbulbs.  I moved six boxes to the attic, things I am not ready to just dispose of, but nothing I need at hand.

And then I begged and begged Firewood Man to come fetch the five crates, because I was not patient enough for them to sell on Craigslist.  He sold them, easily.  And I was happy for him to have the money.

Behind the crates was a bit of a surprise!  Perhaps a lost Jackson Pollock?  So, I had to prime the wall twice and then paint it with two coats before it was ready.

Anyone who is doing home improvement knows that if you put in flooring next to something you are not going to move for that flooring, then you need to purchase extra flooring just in case.  I KNOW that and yet I failed to buy extras.  So, I had to go searching for a best match to my now discontinued flooring (surprised it was already discontinued).  I am pleased with the match, even though it is more vibrant than the original flooring and has wider grout lines.  It is a far better match than I had hoped for.

Mother suggested that I paint the food shelves, too.  This way, the space would be tied together better.  I liked the idea, but not so much the actual painting.  Still, the end result is rather pleasing.  Firewood Man came over when everything was dry to secure the shelves to the wall since, being backless, they were a bit wibbly wobbly and had previously been screwed into the crate shelves.

Mother also suggested that I moved the table from the back wall over to between the shelves.  I was doubtful of the move, but she is never wrong when it comes to design and space.  Firewood Man also rehung my diplomas.  One day, I shall have the electrician come and put in another plug.  It looks a bit odd to be using the one that is where the table used to be.  But even with that small flaw I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the space now.

Visual rest, which I have written about muchly, actually physically affects the body.  It is not just rest for your eyes, but for your whole being.  Now that they are gone, I realize that I found those wooden crates and wall-to-wall shelves a bit oppressive to me.  And depressive.  The space is now open and inviting and most useful.  Each time I come down the stairs I am struck anew at how much more restful and peaceful the room is.

I will also say that, whilst I still LOATHE using the recumbent bike since it is so torturous, doing so is far more pleasant now than it was with it squeezed between the table and the privacy screen for the half bath.

Forty dollars of flooring and a few dollars of hardware and my basement was transformed.  That definitely counts as DOING SOMETHING in my book.  And, since I worked more slowly than I ever have, the job was a success because I did not terribly exhaust myself in the process.

Why the need to DO SOMETHING?

I told many folk that I doubted the swallowing problems were wholly the Shatzki's Ring, for they happened intermittently and are worse when I am most tired.  Even so, when I awoke from the anesthesia, I half-quipped, "Did you fix my swallowing problem?"  The doctor replied, "I believe it is a disruption to the swallowing process, the nerves malfunctioning, and so there is nothing we can do about that."

Such an answer is pretty much all you hear when you have Dysautonomia, but hearing a doctor say them to you, even when you say them to others, is still rather discouraging.  Devastating, really.  SIGH.

I am a hare at the table, rather than a tortoise.  So, I have started to try and eat slower.  But, more than that, I have also started trying to remember to take smaller bites and chew longer.  None of that helps my nerves, but it does help with a weaker swallowing function.  Somewhat.

Although I find it super annoying, I have also tried to start swallowing each pill individually, so that the ones that get hung up can be dislodged with the liquid with the subsequent pill.  I have had two more pills added, but I am hopeful that largest of the white capsules will be dropped off in December.

If you had told me that I would be a vitamin and supplement and prescription ... junkie ... I would have bust a gut laughing.  And yet I have three doctors, now, who are paring vitamin/supplements with traditional medicine.  I still marvel at just how much the Theanine has helped with the neurological anxiety.  It has turned off this ... switch ... inside me.  Or another way of describing it is that I was able to let go of the death grip that I had on all the pieces of myself.  My neighbor started taking it and oft speaks of how it is helping her.  The Theanine alone has helped me to be more open to trying things.

So, for example, I now take Riboflavin B2 to try and help with the nerve pain, since I have asked to be tapered back off the gabapentin given the enormous weight gain it has caused.  My GP also wants me to try acupuncture.  I cannot afford that right now, but I will go at least once.  SIGH.

The difficult part of this photo, for me, is that, in the past five weeks, I have messed up my medications three times.  Messed up filling up my boxes.  For example, I missed my thyroid medication for five days.  Another time I missed my blood pressure medication for a week.  That I am now repeatedly messing up my meds is another devastating sign of the changes in my body, the failings of my mind.

Life has changed.  So much.  I have been ever so much more exhausted, sleeping, in breaks, about 12 hours a day.  The past few days, I have been battling constant pre-syncope.  Today, I did accomplish several tasks, but I did so only by lying on the floor with my legs up against the wall in between getting up and doing laundry and bathing Amos and brewing tea and making deviled eggs and mixing up Gatorade.  I face so much that I just wasn't ready to embrace another bodily malfunction, to find myself struggling to adapt in yet another way.  SIGH.

I hate that I have missed so much of my life.  Missed recording it ... saving it.  I have wondered if I could try to recap over several entries, but I am not certain I can.  And I don't want to set myself up for more failure by not being able to do so.  I just wanted to at least start writing again, no matter how difficult it is, lest I disappear forever.