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.

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


"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?"
     "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


     "...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


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 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.


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


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.

Shout colorful metaphors.
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.