Monday, June 26, 2017

Taboo pain...

I had a terrible, terrible, terrible pain flare on Saturday morning.  So terrible I am still shell-shocked, but I am finally ready to put it here in my rememberer.  Since it is what other might consider a taboo pain topic, I thought I would post first about working out some upsettedness.

I was so exhausted during my birthday celebration that I stopped cooking on Sunday and left off the last of the Meal Plan.  That meant that I had corn on the cob in the refrigerator.  Wanting to use it in a soup (I'm not sure why), I decided to try a chowder.  Broth soups have always been a disaster for me, but one that uses cream ... well, I am good with a roux.

My Spicy Corn Chowder turned out BLOODY FANTASTIC!  I am not sure I've ever actually eaten a chowder.  In fact, I am not sure I have ever wanted to eat a chowder.  Boy!  I sure have been missing some tasty stuff!

One of the things that tickles me about making this is that, after four years of learning to cook,  I finally figured out the best way to cook with onions without having the texture that bothers me!  I cut the onions into very small cubes (about 3/16 inch) and sautéed them in a combination of butter and olive oil until they were translucent and browned on the edges.  I then used a potato masher to mush them.

You see, the other what I had been using onions was to puree them.  But, when you do that,  you end up with watery onion mush that does not brown well.  This way, I still got the mush, but it was rather flavorful.  I actually tasted a little bit of it because it smelled so lovely and nutty whilst I was mashing the onions into mush.  That discovery was such a welcome bonus to the cooking therapy I engaged in tonight.

Well, like I said, the chowder was BLOODY FANTASTIC.  It was rich and creamy and had the tiniest bit of kick to it from the raspberry chipotle seasoning that I used in it.

The funny part is that I actually made a half batch because I didn't want to waste the corn if the chowder wasn't tasty.  Now, I want to make a full batch as soon as possible so that I have a sufficiency of corn chowder in my basement freezer.

As to Saturday ... SIGH.

For at least two years (probably coming close to three now), I've been having nerve pain that is so mentally unsettling that I do not know what to do.  The pain is so severe, that whilst it is happening, I am consumed by the pain, but I drown in the mental anguish.

Saturday was so awful, so overwhelming, so magnified that I wanted to die.  I was screaming for much of the four hours of the flare.  It was so terrible I went on a frantic, frenetic search for a name to what was happening.  Whilst I am not properly diagnosed, I would bet Amos, my house, my haven, and a lifetime supply of Dr Pepper that what is killing me is pudendal neuralgia.

The description of symptoms match my pain flares perfectly and the connection to SI joint issues and MS make it an even more likely fit.  Only seeing a name that includes neuralgia just felled me.  It made my periodic pain flares more ... real ... for lack of a better word.

The nerve, for me, is triggered by the movement of stool.  The pain usually starts long before I have any sort of need to go to the bathroom, so I am in agony willing the need to arrive.  When I think I might could actually go, the process is almost always agonizingly slow.  Then, when I am finished, the pain reverberates on and on and on until the nerve finally calms down.  This time, everything was worse.  

If you had told me that the pain could get worse, I would have laughed and then despaired, thinking you didn't understand what I was trying to tell you.  But now I know it can be much, much, much worse.  Pudendal neuralgia pain is described in several different manners.  The one that fits me is ache, though that is not the word that I would have chosen.  I think it actually fits, but it seems such a poor description, devoid of the scope and depth of the pain.

It is also described has having something inserted into your rectum.  I would describe it has something roughly shoved into your rectum.  It reminds me of my childhood and my mind screams in terror.

Something shoved inside you over and over and over again.
Seemingly unending agony of body and mind.

I screamed and screamed and screamed and, for the first time, I screamed at God, begging Him to make it stop.  Over and over and over again, I begged at the top of my voice.

I don't know why.  I mean, whilst I know that God is capable of stopping the pain, I did not (do not) believe for one single moment that He would.  That is not how God works.  But I screamed ... begged ... anyway.

I wanted to die.
Thinking about that happening again, I want to die.

I did have a half sort of hopeful kind of thought.  I spent all that time sitting and scooting along the porch floor between the sanding of the airing porch and the sealing of the front porch.  Perhaps I aggravated the nerve and so when the pain flare happened again, it was magnified.

The pain didn't really end with the flare.  Saturday and Sunday, sitting, standing, and walking were rather painful.  Movement still hurt today, but more of a lingering ache than a harsh reminder of what I went through.  I suppose that the level of pain left my muscles all tense and that is why my body still hurt after the nerve calmed down.  I am not sure about that.

What is felling is knowing that I do not believe there is much hope for help.  The best action would be a nerve block, but the testing for that is fairly invasive, as in having electrodes that shock the never inserted inside of your body.  And then needles inserted to also trigger the nerve.  An injection is tried first, to see if there is any relief, and then a nerve block.  So it is a long, expensive process, and one I simply cannot do.  Even if I could somehow endure the testing (sadly I cannot have the non-invasive MRI), the only option in Fort Wayne (if the doctor would even attempt to address the pudendal nerve) are males.

I simply could not have a male examine me and test me in that manner.

It crushes me to think that I do not believe that anyone in my life really understands that.  I feel as if I get a you-could-if-you-tried somewhere buried in whatever response I get.  But I cannot.  And no one is hearing me when I say that I cannot.

I can barely be examined by a woman.  And the last time was so excruciating (damn nerves) that I am wondering how I will ever do it again.  In fact, my doctor, at the time, said she felt so bad over how she was hurting me that she wasn't sure she could do that again.  My next appointment for that exam is October 29th.

I've had three doctors talk to me about my really, really overdue mammogram, especially with my family history.  I try to speak about the last time I went, when I ended up crammed beneath a chair (I weigh too much now to get to such a place of safety) with the staff outside the cubicle telling me that I needed to leave.  There were two technicians at that time, two touching me at the same time.  For whatever reason, that triggered me and I just couldn't bear how I felt and how I couldn't stop feeling their hands on my naked breasts.

Whenever someone starts to ask me about scheduling the mammogram, I start to panic and then I flee, mentally, to stay ... sane.  I cannot even talk about why.

I just know.  I know how fragile I am inside.  I know how much of my shattered self is held together with hands that are weak and trembling.  And I am doubly weary of having to manage so much of myself with regard to the physical side of my life.  Seriously, the Sjogren's has tipped me over the edge.

I haven't slept the night through in months now.  The agony in my eyes.  The dryness in my throat.  The original pain flare.  The exacerbation of all the nerve pain I experience.  The new level of exhaustion.

My GP said she thought it would get better once I learned how to better manage the Sjogren's symptoms.  She thought it was so overwhelming because managing the disease has taken me longer than I would have expected or hoped.  That is a good thought for me.  Maybe things can be better in that regard, but it is also that there is too much to manage.  My blood pressure.  My heart rate.  My blood sugar.  My eyes.  My mouth.  My lips.  My throat.  My nausea.  My fainting.  My falling.  My exhaustion.  The list is never-ending.

Friday, I saw the eye specialist again.  The good news was that she believes we caught the damage the dryness was making to my corneas early enough that I can still correct my vision.  The bad news is that there is nothing to be done about the CONSTANT burning and stinging that I have in my eyes now due to the mediation that is helping with the dryness.  I have become used to living with that constant pain in my eyes.  But it bothers me that I have become used to living with that constant pain in my eyes.  And I still have to be extraordinarily vigilant about putting the three different types of over-the-coutner drops in my eyes round the clock.

That was another part of my birthday celebration that was difficult.  I was not quite so vigilant.  I've been paying the price ever since, trying to get back to that acceptable level of dryness in my eyes.

Of course, I am also really, really, really despairing about the fact that I cannot cry anymore.  The best I can do is to have a few tears well in my eyes.  But the steady-stream-down-my-cheeks, have-it-all-out weeping is a thing of the past for the desert orbs in my head.


I was so very discouraged by the appointment that I decided to cheer myself up by venturing out to my haven to have my very first fire in the fire pit.

This was technically my third fire, because my first two attempts did not stay lit.  I am still not sure why.  I need fire pit firemaking lessons.

I was also enjoying this celebrating-my-50th-for-50-days little lantern I bought for my haven.  It is only plastic and runs on batteries, but it has an on-off switch, in addition to a timer, so that I can keep it off except for when I am out there.  I have wanted to try lighting out there to see if I would like a hard-wired light.  This one is pretty dim, but it does make me lean toward lighting.  However, I am thinking of hanging it in the evergreen that is out in my haven (closer to the table) to see if that might make a bigger difference.    And, of course, I really cannot make a lighting decision until I see the stained glass window framed and up on the wall.  At this rate, Firewood Man will not have time to do that until the winter.  BUMMER.

Anyway, when the massive pain flare started, I immediately felt as if I were being punished for enjoying the fire the night before.  No, my thoughts are not always rational when I am battling pain that overwhelms my being.  And yet such thoughts linger.

One of the reasons that I highly suspect pudendal neuralgia is more symptoms ... particularly the numbness and tingling I have in my vaginal area.  I loathe anything that reminds me of that part of my body and it is rather difficult to ignore the numbness and tingling when it happens.  I actually didn't think that the numbness and tingling was connected to having something roughly shoved inside of me, but I now realize that this is more to do with another wonky nerve than the internal scar tissue I've heard about every time I try to talk about issues going to the bathroom.

Now, I am armed with information and a list of questions ... and immersed in deep despair.

The one thing I did read that was hopeful is that some treat pudendal neuralgia with baclofen.  The maximum dose of baclofen is 80 mg per day.  I am currently taking 30, so I have room to increase the dose and, hopefully, help the trigeminal neuralgia flares that are happening ever other day or so and the pudendal neuralgia.  I plan to ask my GP about that.

As far as the other, I am toying with the idea of going to see my female surgeon about the testing and who might do a block.  She knows me and respects me, despite my weaknesses, and is probably the best medical person I could talk to about this.

But, really, unless you have experienced this terrible pain, spent hours writhing and feeling as if something is being roughly shoved up inside of you, I do not think that you can understand.  And unless you've experienced actually having had things roughly shoved up inside of you as a child, I do not think that you can understand.

How awful it is.
How unspeakable it is.
How shameful it is.
How despairing it is.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Progress and an idea...

I redeemed my neglectful homeowner status ever so slightly by tending to the front porch.

I got the sealer applied.  First, I worked on the water spot over where the fountain was and then I went to town on the sealer.  My method is to two do boards in one direction, then two boards in the opposite direction, giving the original two boards time to start absorbing the sealer, then re-do the original two boards with a second coat, then finally go over the second two boards with their second coat.  Four boards done.  Repeat eleven times.

Sadly, the forecast changed so I am racing against the rain for this to dry.  I need 48 hours without water on it.  Already a plant blew over in the windy, cloudy weather, so I carefully walked on the porch with bare feet to pick up the broken pot and plant and then sweep away the dirt.  I didn't want the latter sticking to the sealer.  I was disappointed that one section got dirty prematurely, but I was pleased to see that the boards were less tacky than I thought they would be after less than 24 hours.  Maybe things will be fine.

Isn't my front porch beautiful?
Properly tended wood is always beautiful.

Tonight, I thought to try my hand at sanding the airing porch.  I mostly wanted to gauge what kind of job this will entail.

You can see that I did a first pass on half of the porch, minus the final two boards against the house because I was not up for moving the furniture.  I made some progress, but not as much as I had hoped.

Closer up, you can still see the mold or mold stain or whatever the darkness is still on the wood.

I just don't know if I can hand sand it enough.  And I do not know what will happen if I try to seal it as it is now.  I mean, if I ignore the less that perfect prep job and just apply the sealer anyway.  I might be a lover of wood, but I really only have half-knowledge on properly tending it.

I keep looking back at this photo to remind myself that I have made good progress in trying to remedy my homeowner failure on the airing porch.  Noise ordinance means I have to stop working at 8:00 PM, though I worked until 8:30-ish.  The heat means not starting until after 7:00-ish, so this will take a while.  I think.  I also need to figure out about my grit choice.  I picked 80, because that's the lowest I have.  But maybe I should be buying a lower number and seeing what that does?  I am not sure.  But at least I made progress on this mess.

I also ate my first broccoli from my raised bed.  I finally figured out how to use the sweet onion cane sugar that was in amongst the spices my friend Dawn gave me at Christmas.  I used it on roasted broccoli!  Tasty!  Next, I think I will try it whilst sautéing asparagus.

The broccoli was small and ... shrunk a lot.  This was a whole head!  I even cooked it 10 minutes less than normal.  I think it cooked differently because it was fresh.  So, the next head I will try cooking even shorter.  Maybe just 12 minutes.  Still, it was crispy and tasty and just plain divine!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Working out upsettedness...

Whilst walking Amos the other day, we were attacked by a dog.  Again.  It was a ginormous black dog.  One moment I was watching Amos do his bob and weave on the leash and the next I looked  up to see this dog running toward us.  I screamed.  Amos leaped up my body.  And we both stood trembling, me on the sidewalk, Amos on my shoulders.

I was trying to keep him from falling off and trying to keep the leaping dog off of me.  His nails were raking my abdomen and back.  I was screaming.  And the owner stayed across the street laughing at me.  I was screaming for help and no one came.  Again.

The owner was standing there, leash folded up in his hand, casually calling his dog off me as he laughed.  When I managed to say that his dog needed to be on a leash, he turned ugly.  The whole experience was terrifying and despairing.

I frantically called Becky, once the dog was gone, to help me get home.  With my whole being, I wanted someone to come pick me up and take me home.  But I don't have anyone to call.  SIGH.

I never want to leave the house again.
For real.

I started walking Amos November 2.  Since then, I have lost count of the number of times I've seen dogs off leash, especially with their owners next to them.  Four times.  Four wretched times Amos and I have been attacked.  This was the worst of those.  And it took me right back to the pit bull attack.

So, of course, since I haven't been sleeping, awash in fear, and I am still trying to recover from the birthday celebration, the most logical step is to tackle washing the three porches.  Right?  SIGH.

The sad part is that I totally and utterly messed up on the airing porch.  I had bad information and failed to wait a year to seal the boards.  I waited several months, but I squeezed the job in before winter set in that year.  And then there was this weird white bubbles on it.  So, I wanted to get the airing porch power washed.  But Firewood Man didn't get around to it.  The porch got black speckles on it.  Firewood Man said it was just dirt and he'd get around to it.  But there wasn't time.  So, now, really, the porch is just awful.

Which is criminal.
It was new just a bit ago.
A true homeowner fail.

It's already wet because it started raining.  But, you know, when you have upsettedness to manage, a bit of rain cannot get in the way of your power washing job.

From afar, it looks sort of okay, but all that darkness is, I believe mold.  I was hoping the cleaner would make a difference when I started Round Two.

I definitely made more progress, but it really needs to be sanded down.

I mean, what happens when you seal over mold?  Plus, you can see there is just so much unevenness where the original seal took (and where it didn't).

Only I just don't think that I have it in me to sand it.  So, I'm pretty discouraged.

This is the back porch.  It has two years of pollen on it, along with a whole lot of dirt.  It is embarrassing to me.  And a frustration.

Not anymore!  Just lovely!  Now, I'd like to seal it again, but I would have to move the grill and the third of a rack of firewood leftover from my last load.  I am trying to decide what to do about doing so.  One thought I had was to start having fires out in my haven and work down the wood that way.  Another thought was to seal the portion that is reachable and then seal the rest later since I have nice planks to make the dividing lines.

The front porch also had two years of dirt and pollen.  And a lot of foot traffic worn through the layers of dirt on over to the bench and the fountain.  Another embarrassment.

Here it is after the first washing.  You can see that one whitish spot over by the back of the first rocking chair and there is water damage still over by the fountain (from the old basin).  I had high hopes for Round Two with the cleaner, even though it didn't do what I wanted up on the airing porch.

The cleaner cleaned!

See!  Look at the difference it made!

I worked long and hard on the water spot.  I'm hoping that it is enough to just maybe just seal over it now.  I'd like to not have to sand it at all.  You know, create dust.  Need to wash it a third time.  Plus, sanding would probably mean a much, much lighter spot compared to the rest of the porch rather than just a sort of lighter spot.  Still, I am well pleased with the state of the front porch now.  It is definitely ready to seal ... if you discount that one little area.

Sadly, though, even with two days of a couple of hours of hard work (for me), I am not really sleeping.  I keep flashing back to the pit bull attack.  I've never really left that time.  SIGH.

I don't know if I shall seal tomorrow or not.  I haven't yet decided.  If the weather forecast holds, it would be a good time to squeeze that work in before a whole lot of days of storms and humidity and don't-even-think-about-sealing-your-porch-weather.

I shall say that, before I worked on Round Two of power washing, I chowed down on leftovers from the best night of my birthday celebration that I still haven't written about (mostly because I need to get the recipes up on my recipe rememberer blog).  I thought I would tempt myself with listing some of the tastiness:  chicken tikka masala, chicken shawarma, labneh, toum, and naan.  Those were my leftovers.  The birthday celebration night, we also had lemon basil hummus and baba ganoush.  AWESOME meal.  Best. Cooking. Time.  Ever.

I wish I could think about that instead of dog terror.

Friday, June 16, 2017


I sometimes think that I was born into a family of beautiful people, but am not one.  So ... was my father the mailman??  The only time I have ever gotten attention for my body, for how I looked, was when I was actively battling anorexia.  Thin equals beautiful.  A terrible message to receive.

The other compliments that I have received have been on my teeth (back before there were 1,001 teeth whiteners out there) and on my hair.  Parts of me.  Not really how I look.

Not having a real dating history past college (and in college was just a little bit), I've never had a relationship with someone who has found me comely.  I've never been desired or desirable.  And I often think about what that would be like.  I mean, I see girls and women who know they are desirable and that knowledge permeates their actions and interactions.  I wonder what it would be like to be that for just one day.

And the truth is I have longed to be desirable.
At least once.
Once not part of an assault. 

So, it is sort of disconcerting for me to have another part of me garner compliments.  In the past week,  I've had several people gush or admire or actually desire my new tattoo!  I love it for so very many reasons.  It's botanical.  It fits me.  It fits Becky.  Becky has the same tattoo.  Becky offered to have the same tattoo.  It is not what anyone would expect of me.  It is beautiful.

Learning that other folk find it beautiful, too, has been surprising to me.
And rather lovely.

My new therapist really likes it, asking to see it again this week whilst saying that she had been thinking about it since last time.  My new GP likes it and admired how it looks like something that you might get as a henna tattoo.  My old pharmacist from Target likes it and had me show it to the new pharmacist at Walmart, who asked me for the name of who did it and where I had it done.  The cashier at Menard's admired it and also asked if I got it locally and, if so, who did it.  A man and a woman in line at the post office pretty much gushed over it, the woman pointing out my favorite feature of it: that it wraps around to the side of my hand and peeks out from my sleeve when wearing long sleeves.  And a little old lady who lives along the path of my Amos Walk said that it would go well in her garden and mused about being too old for a tattoo.

My mother will not be ... happy ... when she learns of the gift I received from my dear friend—my mind shouts gleefully "matching tattoos" every time I think of the botanical loveliness gracing my wrist—because tattoos are not ... desirable.  I did tell my sister because I have been trying to hard to work on our relationship.  I was thankful for her response.  At first, she was a bit quiet about it, but when I showed her the photo of our tattoos, she thought it was pretty.  I welcomed the support about my choice.

My neighbor thinks tattoos are disgusting.  A sentiment echoed by my realtor.  I have actually thought about keeping it covered when she drops by because I do not wish to experience condemnation about the choice I made, a choice that has brought me joy and a bit of giddiness.

I expected the judgement, but I didn't expect the admiration.
I have savored the latter.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


I wish to write more about the lovely time with my visitors, but I have been so terribly exhausted, no longer carried along by the adrenaline of the giddiness of having visitors.  I've done a lot of lying on the floor and a lot of fainting and a lot of staring vacantly off into space, too weary to stream or read or listen to music.

I do not know why I am so driven to move and stand and walk and be like a normal person whilst I have visitors.  I mean, I make a meal plan because I want to share the one thing that is progressing in my life.  But this time I crapped out on the meal plan.  Come Sunday afternoon, when it was just Becky and I, I asked if I could just give her the Auntie Anne's pretzel pizza sandwiches that I like to buy and then, later, make the pretzel pizza balls that I had as a late night snack.  Or was that Monday that we got to the second pizza thing.  I don't remember.

Last Tuesday, after our tattoo, I asked Becky if we could go to Taco Bell, because I had a gift card, but she pulled up the menu plan and picked the chicken bacon avocado melt on sun-dried tomato bread.  An excellent idea ... expect for the fact that I burned our sandwiches after making amazing melts for months now.  SIGH.

I think if I can sweet talk someone in to visiting again, I have to abandon the meal plan.  Maybe I could have one night of cooking and then just raid the mason jar meals.  That or have a visitor cook.  SIGH.

Maybe tomorrow ... or at least soon, I hope ... I shall write about the BLOODY FANTASTIC night of cooking with Celia and Becky and all the tasty things we had.

Right now, I have to just ... recover.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

50th Birthday Celebration (Part 2)...

Jumping around, I'd like to note the end of my six day house party celebration.  Becky stayed all six days and we had the last two just to ourselves.  During that time, we got in the bulk of our "Fringe" watching, since she started the show whilst it was still on Netflix and needed another way to see it now.  Of course, just before she came, I found Go90, a free streaming service that has "Fringe" on it.  Still, we watched 35 episodes together, several of them with my sister, introducing her to the show.

A short while before my birthday, Becky let me know her big gift for my 50th:  matching tattoos!  I was so surprised and so ... well ... hungry for such a thing!  I love, love, love that we now have matching tattoos.  It is an immense blessing for me to now be able to look at my wrist and be reminded of our friendship.

You see, the thing I have in my head the loudest is that I am unloveable, unworthy of friendship or caring or love.  And, whilst Becky and I have been friends for nearly 22 years, I cannot remember those years.  There is very, very, very little that I can remember and it just plain STINKS.  I mean, I want to shout to the universe:  THIS IS SO BLOODY UNFAIR!  But that will not change the problem of my inability to make memories.  [Did I mention that my new therapist thinks she knows why that is?????]

Anyway, so we went through this back and forth with images of tattoos that we could get.  I found a REALLY great one for friends, but it is an ankle tattoo and I wanted to be able to see the tattoo (and I don't go around barefoot).  The one I was thinking of, did not do much for Becky, though I adored it and had secretly been wanting it for a long while.  However, practically at the very last minute (not really but it felt that way surely to my bestest of friends) I threw caution to the wind and sent her an image of a rather beautiful tattoo that is ... uhm ... not small.

It is botanical for me.
It is earthy for her.
It is old-fashioned for both of us.

With a great big GULP, Becky agreed and I set about finding the place to go.  It worked out that Becky could hang out on the phone with me when I went to two local shops where I had narrowed our choices.  It was rather tempting to me not to go schlepping out to the second one, but it was the best decision I made, I think, with regard to the tattoo (other than the design).  There was an artist there who works solely in black and white and who actually likes doing floral work.  To look at the big, burly, tattooed dude, you'd never know he has such a floral-loving heart!

The front desk dude showed me his book and I was impressed.  But then he showed me the artist's instagram account (I still don't understand instagram) and I knew he was the one for us.  I made a consultation appointment and went in the next day.

Shaking like a leaf.
Talking a mile a minute.

As much as Becky was nervous about getting such a ... not small ... tattoo on her wrist, I think that in the end I was rather more nervous than she was.  For the first five days she was here, every few hours, I practically shouted at her that she was getting a tattoo.  With Me!  I was also nervous that my wonky nerves would make the process difficult for me.  I did not sleep much on Monday night.

The good news is that the majority of the tattoo was just like getting lightly scratched.  In some places, I barely felt what he was doing.  However, when he moved to the part I like the best, the bit that trailed down to the side of the hand, it felt like he was slicing my skin.  I really, really, really struggled with the tattooing and honestly thought I was going to have to tell him to just forget about finishing it.  I had him stop at least twice ... maybe three times in that area.  I know one time he moved back to finishing the rest of the tattoo before coming back to that area.  I honestly do not know how I got through that pain.

But I did.
And I LOVE my tattoo.

I LOVE that Becky and I have matching tattoos.  I LOVE the tattoo we choose.  And I LOVE my dear, dear, dear friend.  This was an incredible gift to give and one that SHOUTS at me that she loves me, too.

It is a wonder to me—one almost too large to comprehend—to be loved for exactly who I am, struggles and all, without want for change.

I would like to finish by saying that Becky actually started giving me her gifts 50 days before my birthday.  For 50 days, she woke me up with a text that was a passage of the Living Word and something that she loved about me and/or about our friendship.  I strongly doubted that Becky could come up with five lovable things about em, much less fifty.  She had no problem doing so.

And, because she is that kind of friend, Becky took home a blank journal that was a Christmas gift from a Facebook friend because I asked her—once more shaking like a leaf—if she would please write out those 50 gifts so that I would have them to keep always.  Becky didn't bat an eyelash at the request (at least in front of me) because she really does love me and understand what having such a book would mean to me.

I wonder ... does she realize how profound a gift it is for me, who struggles with doubt all the time and who does not remember our history together, to have this loveliest of tattoos on my wrist to remind me, daily, that I am loved?

There are no words sufficient to me to express how much this means to me.

50th Birthday Celebration (Part 1)...

I have the best friends.  I really do.  I might not have the large swaths of peeps I desire, but I have the best friends.

At the last minute (the Sunday before), I realized, since so many folk were asking me what I wanted to do for my birthday, is that what I wanted to do for my birthday is to share it with my sister, who did not have a celebration for her 50th.  I group texted Celia and Becky to ask if we could make this happen (I having never thrown a party) last Friday and they said, "Yes!"

Celia was here for just over a day and she hit the ground running.  She popped her homemade cinnamon rolls into my oven.  She went to the cardiologist appointment with Becky and me.  she went shopping with us.  She cooked (The. Best. Evening. Ever.) with us.  She decorated with us.  She cooked again with us.  And she celebrated my sister's birthday.  I think she needs a vacation after her mini-vacation!

She also didn't mind being Amos' back rest!!

I chose Mexican food for my sister's party, even though she can get the BEST food at home.  For the salsa, I made my very first homemade salsa, salsa verde.  I am very, very, very pleased with how it turned out!  So were my sister's party guests!!

We had nachos, chilorio burras, salsa verde, and chicken empanadas.  We ate like KINGS for our little party.

And we had cake, cards, and presents!

And decorations!

My sister was a bit flustered after walking through her magical doorway made by Becky (with its dweeby sign made by me) taking her back to November 14, 2014.  But I have the BEST friends and they were all welcoming and genuinely excited to celebrate her birthday.

My sister was so happy.  And I was so very happy to give her a celebration of her 50th birthday.  She didn't even get cards from her sons on her birthday this year.  Each year, it is such a non-event for her.  Maybe a dinner out.  But this time she got presents and cards and singing and food and balloons and flowers and decorations and laughter and good fellowship.

Becky was here much longer than either Celia or my sister, six glorious days, freezing in my home, but still glad to be with me.  She helped my sister to celebrate my birthday the next day.

She made another magical doorway, this time one I walked through when I awoke.  It has my favorite color and her two favorite colors.  Our friendship in colors!

She and my sister went to Olive Garden with me so that I could have my most favorite of dishes:  gorgonzola fettuccine alfredo with steak, garnished with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes.  The service was not all that great, but my sister, who was treating us, strongly encouraged me to try a drink.  I normally do not do so, for I haven't ever found a drink that speaks to my soul.  After 39 years of being of drinking age, I finally did!

Moscato is the wine that I like to drink.  I have had limoncello.  And the other two ingredients looked just dandy.  The combination was heavenly to me, not alcoholic-tasting at all.  Refreshing.  Perfect.  My sister bought me a bottle of the moscato.  I already have the limoncello, as I said.  Becky told me I could get the ginger beer at Target, she thought (I plan to look there first).  And I ordered some black cherry syrup (it will be here tomorrow).  I am hoping to recreate the drink.  I had two of them and would have drinking two more if I could!  So tasty!!

Becky made me a cake!  It is a vintage recipe:  Williamsburg Orange Cake.  Any time you start with buttermilk and use orange zest, you are totally going to end up with a tasty cake.  This one did not disappoint.  Becky did a BLOODY FANTASTIC job on it.  Despite the three of us chowing down on it, there are still six slices in my freezer.  Mmmmm!

Folk kept asking me what I was doing for my birthday, what I wanted to do.  As I said, I finally decided that what I wanted was to cook and to share my birthday with my sister.  The latter was such a great decision, a genuine blessing for me and a gift for her.

As for the cooking, the two recipes in here are just a smidgeon of the cooking that went on.  Tomorrow, I hope to catch up on the GREAT DINNER OF 2017.  Oh, how I loved cooking with Celia and Becky last Thursday night.  Right now, though, I plan to continue catching up on my resting and napping and sleeping!