Monday, July 31, 2006

Rave of the Day for July 31, 2006: 

Ever wonder what happened to Sam Gamgee's offspring after the conclusion of "Lord of the Rings"? Ricky Buchanan found a wonderful fanfic of the adventures of Frodo Gardner, Sam's son. It is updates frequently, so I'm gonna put it on my Links list. Enjoy.....

Dreamdeer's Tolkien Tales

Be sure you check out the appreciation page! The webmaster gives the readers awesome virtual gifts!

A glimmer of hope.... 

Talked with the realtor today. She said that someone is interested in the house but needs to get pre-approval for financing first. So I need to be cautiously optimistic. Potentially good news but not yet cause for celebration. I am pleased, though, that the house is generating interest. And it would be pretty awesome if I could get this place sold before the savings account completely dries up. Told Dan we should wait a week or so before deciding if he should fly out here for Labor Day weekend. It might actually end up being more productive if I went to Sioux Falls and got to take a look at a few houses in person as it is difficult to move someplace you've never seen.

Dan has looked at two more houses that are promising. Both are 1700 square feet and built in the early '80's. Both have two car attached garages, fenced yards, storage sheds, patios and need no maintenance. On one, we'll have to acquire a fridge and a washer and dryer, and the other just a washer and dryer. One is owned by a carpenter and has a custom pantry, a storage room in the basement and a triple-sized closet in the master bedroom. But it's across the street from a poorly-maintained vacant lot. The other has less added storage but is in a better neighborhood. So now we've found a total of four houses that would be suitable.

The migraine goes on, endlessly it seems. I was really hoping it would have burned out by now. I'm getting very cranky about it because I need a break.

But if I got an offer on the house, someone could probably smack me upside the head with a ball peen hammer and I wouldn't even care.

Headache, romance, and a scary surprise..... 

Migraine STILL hasn't gone away. This is day five. Nothing helps, not rest, not quiet, not muscle relaxants, not heat, not cold. All I can do is continue to wait it out. It will burn itself out eventually.

Here's something amusing: Chip had a romantic moment yesterday. My friend and I had him out in the front yard on a leash because we had just sprayed weed killer in the backyard. We were surprised to see in the distance another English springer spaniel on a leash coming toward us. And it was a girl dog! According to her owner, the dog's name is Scarlet and she is four years old, half Chip's age. She was black and white with spots on her nose and legs, and she was nearly as big as Chip, which is unusual because Chip is huge for his breed. Scarlet was a little uncertain about Chip coming up to meet her, but he was a charmer as usual, so she finally consented to him sniffing her face and giving her a little kiss on the ear. It was very cute.

Tried to watch the original version of "Brazil" with the commentary by Terry Gilliam. I fell asleep in the middle, but then, I would have fallen asleep in the middle of a nuclear attack today. What I did see and hear, though, was excellent, and I highly recommend checking it out. It's on the Criterion Collection 3 DVD set.

Went outside about 6:30 to tidy up the grass clippings that were all over the driveway. I tried sweeping them, but the broom was too heavy, and I wasn't making much progress. My next door neighbor came by to help me out when she got home from work. She was sweeping, and I was telling her about the "Brazil" commentary, when all of a sudden I saw flames on the other side of my friend's house! Her next door neighbor had been mowing the lawn while smoking a cigarette, and his lawn mower caught fire! I tried getting my hose out, but my friend reminded me that water wouldn't work on a gas fire and asked me where my fire extinquisher was. I had one in my kitchen pantry. She ran in and grabbed it. Before she got there, though, her neighbor had found something to put out the fire. It was a close call, though. Another minute or two and the man's garage would have caught fire. Whew.

That's all for now. My head hurts too much to contribute much more.

Rave of the Day for July 30, 2006: 

I got this from the But You Don't Look Sick newsletter. The author is the webmistress, Christine. It gives you an honest inside look at how chronic illness can color even the best of times. I thought it was important to share....

The Birthday Blues

It was my birthday this week and I have been in a funk, depressed, and moody and no one really understands why. Birthdays are occasions for presents, friends, and usually a few candles to blow out. Everyone around me has tried to cheer me up with lunch dates, surprise parties and lots of chocolate cake. My mother even planned a tea party with all my close girlfriends. I tried to smile, and enjoy the mini-celebrations I had all week. Don't get me wrong, I am very appreciative of the gestures of friendship and love that I received. I know that turning 29 is not a tragedy, but there was something about turning this very specific number that no one else seemed to understand. I tried to vocalize it, but I got the typical responses of "well at least you're not thirty", or "You're so young, what's the fuss!?" I just smiled, said nothing, and knew that they didn't understand.

I always joke that when you meet other people who have dealt with illness, it is like a secret society of the sick- a sisterhood with hidden looks, phrases, and handshakes. It seems like we are more understanding of each other's special circumstances, than the "healthy world". We don't pity, we don't get uncomfortable at medical talk, and we certainly don't laugh at each other's issues. We find humor in sometimes morbid topics, and we have a language all our own. Nothing is off limits to talk about and somehow everything makes sense. So one night when my birthday blues kept me up most of the night, I decided to call one of my "Lupie" friends. We don't talk often, but when we do, we catch up in two minutes and it seems like we never lost touch.

I was talking on the phone and suddenly began to cry about my birthday. She asked why and I explained to her that it was nothing anyone did. I had a great day, and an even better week. I received phone calls, emails and cards from people who remembered this special day. I am engaged to a wonderful man, and will soon be married. My brother and his wife are expecting their first child this year and I am ready to be the best aunt ever. I am healthy and happy and 29 on paper seems like it would be my best year yet. I have so much to look forward to.

What everyone didn't realize is that 29 is the official year that I will now be living with lupus, longer than I have lived without it. My memories of living healthy are fading and my realities of living sick are very vivid and real. In fact, there are times I really do not know what it was like to live healthy. I don't remember a time without doctor's visits, pills and pain. Even on my healthiest days, it is still there looming in the background. I began getting sick at 14, diagnosed the same year. This year, I can truthfully say, that I have been living with lupus more than 1/2 my life. I guess that is a very scary sentence. It is scary to type, even scarier to live.

Don't get me wrong, I can honestly say that I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. I have never been more confident that I am exactly where I am supposed to be in this world. But I guess the happier you get, the healthier you want to be. The more in love I fall, the healthier of a wife and mother I want to be. There are more things I wish I had the energy to do, and there is more time I wish I had to be with the ones I love, and not too tired to enjoy them. I think I was mentally prepared to be "really sick" when I was older. Not now. Not that there is ever a good time to be sick, but I was ready to live my life, get married, have kids, go to Paris and then some time after that- get sick. I wasn't thrilled at the idea, but given the option of sooner or later, I wanted later. I wanted to live in remission for now. I pictured myself 29 and having a cosmopolitan in the city and dancing with my friends. My 29th birthday was a little different this year than I imagined. I had a massage/ spa day, went to a wonderful dinner, and came home and fell asleep. I was uninspired, depressed and sad. My birthday was great, but this 1/2 of my life was not. The 1/2 of my life with lupus. I guess no one likes getting sick or dealing with anything hard.

29 was hard for me to turn, because I was focusing on all the time and things that I felt lupus took away from me. I lost my career as a dancer, I lost my health, I lost friends, heck I have even lost hair! But now, after a few days... I am starting to perk up. I am trying to focus on what having lupus 1/2 my life has given me. It is hard to do. Having lupus 1/2 my life has given me a closer relationship with my family. We have spent many nights together in hospitals, and I have had to rely on them for support. I think having lupus has made me a stronger person. I have faced so much, that now a bad hair day, or waiting in line at the supermarket doesn't fluster me. I have learned who my friends are. If they are here, despite my "foggy brain" and tired legs, then I know they are good friends. I have learned patience, and to value love more than anything else. Having lupus has also made me a more creative person then I ever thought I could be. When I had to stop dancing, I thought my creative side was dead, now I realize that I let my words dance circles on the page, and hopefully touch people deeper than my pointed toes ever could.

I was dreading this birthday for a long time. But now I am realizing that having lupus is a part of who I am, whether I like it or not. Turning 29 is not going to make my lupus better or worse, it is just going to make me 29. It is going to make me- me. I think I am getting better as I get older. I am no longer that scared little girl. I know what I need and what I want, and I am not willing to compromise. I know who I am and I am not going to change for anyone. Although my body may be weak, I am a strong woman. A strong, proud 29 year old woman.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Migraine Central..... 

I am now on day FOUR of this stinkin' migraine! It got a bit better yesterday and then worse again today. Not much I can do except wait for it to go away.

Ended up going to Wally World yesterday because I really needed some menthol patches for my forehead. My neighbor/friend went with me, and it's a good thing she did because I decided I needed to get an economy sized weed killer, and it was a gallon and a half and I had trouble lifting it. Couldn't find Migraine Ice patches; maybe they don't make them anymore? But I just bought the smaller sized Icy Hot patches. I cut one in half, and it was nearly the right size for my forehead, a bit wide going into the hairline but otherwise a good fit. I found out that Boost now makes a product specifically for diabetics. After scrutinizing the label thoroughly, I determined that the strawberry flavor is probably gluten free and bought a box so I can compare it to the High Protein Boost I usually buy.

My friend and I were going to watch the fourth Harry Potter movie, but it was so late after we got back from Wally World that we decided to put it off until tonight. So she went home, and Chip and I watched "Lady and the Tramp". Chip was mesmerized by all the realistic doggie sounds. It's still my fave original-style animated Disney movie.

Stayed in bed until 11:30 this morning because of the migraine. It didn't help one bit, so I reluctantly got up and went about my day. Did my usual stretches, but my head felt no better as a result.

Typed up a list of people and companies I'll need to notify of my change of address if/when this house sells and we buy one in Sioux Falls. I've also been making lists of what documents I'll need to gather before moving and what items I'll need to unpack first. I'll type those up too at some point.

Got a couple of photo album pages done. I'm trying to be economical by putting the 2002 and 2003 photos in the same album. I prefer one year per album, but the expandable albums I use can hold up to 60 pages total, and if I can squeeze two years' worth of pix into that, it would save the cost of buying an additional album. I have just four pages of 2003 pix left to do. I know the photos from 2004 will take up an entire album on their own because I took so many of our trip to Hawaii, but there are so many good pix on that one that I don't think anyone will mind.

Watched the heavily edited 90 minute version of "Brazil" on DVD this afternoon. I can see now why Terry Gilliam was so upset with it. It hardly resembles the original with its alternate opening, almost total lack of dream sequences and very hollow-seeming happy ending. I may go back and watch the original two hour twenty minute version again so I can appreciate the difference more fully.

My neighbor/friend came by after work today to help me with the yard. She mowed and I went about spraying the gravel areas with the new week killer. The bottle was so heavy, though, that I ended up just setting it on the ground, spraying every area I could reach, and then moving the bottle a few feet to a new spot. I hope this one works better than the other two I have tried.

We did get around to watching "Goblet of Fire" tonight. It varies the most from the book of the four Harry Potters done so far, but I like it quite a lot. The dragon chase scene is quite exciting, the scene with the ghost flirting with Harry is hilarious, and the ending quite sobering. I've been doing a lot of speculating about how the fifth book might be done into a movie; it would be quite a challenge since the material is so dark. I've also been guessing at what will happen in the seventh book.

Must stop here as I've been dozing off throughout typing this.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

More notes from the long hot summer.... 

Went out into the bright bright world yesterday afternoon despite the continuing migraine. Picked up a prescription and headed to the laundromat to wash my blue comforter so I would have a clean one to put on the bed when washing the black one. Gotta have the bed made every day in case there is a showing. Too bad our washer is too small to hold a queen sized comforter. Dan says if we end up having to buy a new washer and dryer when we move that we should get one of those huge capacity ones. Don't know if it's more economical than the standard sized ones in the long run because you'd be doing fewer loads of laundry, but I suppose we could look into it.

Had to wear my sunglasses in Walgreens because the fluorescent light was just as piercing as the sunlight outdoors. On the way to the laundromat, I had to wait for a coal train to pass by. Those things seem to be miles long. So by the time I pulled into the laundromat with the comforter, my head felt like someone had stabbed it with a dagger and the blade had broken off in my skull. The machines in the laundromat are noisy and not well maintained. I happened to be unfortunate enough to choose a machine that wasn't working properly. It got stuck in the first part of the rinse cycle. I waited awhile, reading with my sunglasses on, hoping that it was just taking extra time because the comforter was so large. But, no, the machine next to me washed an entire load during the time mine was stuck. So I fiddled with my machine a bit, tapping at the gauge to see if it would move, all to no avail. Finally got the owner's attention and tried to explain what was going on, which was difficult because she didn't speak English and I don't know any Asian languages. But finally she figured out that it was jammed and got out a ladder (it was a tall upright machine) and took the lid off and manually ran it through the rest of the settings. Then I still had to run it through the dryer, which took another 40 minutes. Thought it had gotten completely dry, but after I took it out and started to fold it, I found that the middle of one side was still damp. I decided just to take it home anyway and spread it out on the bed and run the ceiling fan over it on high speed, which actually worked pretty well.

On the way home, there was ANOTHER train! At this point, I was wishing I had sunglasses to go over my sunglasses. When I finally got in the house, I found I had a message from my realtor. She just got back from vacation and said she was going to try to get a hold of the other realtors who had been showing my house while she was away (I had at least six showings, I think) and see if she could get some feedback. That would be really nice since I've heard absolutely nothing about how it's going or whether anyone who has seen my house is remotely interested in buying it.

Also missed a call from Dan, but I called him after I made some supper. He has been applying to other jobs to see if he can get something that pays more. He was turned down for two of them. There's a third one he saw advertised last weekend, and I've got his cover letter all done, but he says he hasn't had time to send it to them yet. This is with an ad agency that actually has two openings, one for a production artist and one for a designer. Even though he might like the designer job better, he's applying for both because he's qualified for both and he'd take either if it pays more than what he's making now. He hasn't had a chance yet to get a hold of the Sioux Falls realtor to schedule some more home tours.

After talking to Dan, I went out back to apply weed killer to the patio and gravel areas. By this time, it was late enough in the day that these areas were in the shade. Had the same problem with the other product in that the bottle had to be absolutely level in order to spray, which means it's rather inefficient to get it on the weeds from a standing position. I can't crouch down for long without my feet going numb, so I ended up bent over at the waist, which is bad for the back. Also woke up the carpal tunnel with all the spraying. Ended up using the whole bottle again because it didn't cover nearly as much ground as I was expecting. Next time, I'm going to have to get the larger size.

Wanted to keep Chip out of the back yard while the spray dried, so I took him out front on the leash. I was afraid he would try pulling my arm out of its socket like he usually does, so I tried to keep him close to me, but he got really excited about something and suddenly veered off to the side, and I tweaked my lower back AGAIN. So before I could go to bed last night, I had to take a Valium and put on Migraine Ice and Icy Hot patches and put a moist heat pack on the back of my neck. Sigh.

Woke up this morning still kinda out of it because the migraine's still not completely gone. Did my workout on the Gazelle, which I'm sorry to say did not help. Need to get some things at Wally World, Icy Hot patches being among them, but I don't know if I should brave being out in the sun again. Of course, if I do any yard work this evening, I'm probably gonna need one of those Icy Hot patches.

For the moment, though, I'm gonna go downstairs and drink some green tea and see if that helps.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Long hot summer saga.... 

FINALLY finished my grocery shopping yesterday. Bought some gluten free frozen food I hadn't had in awhile, all of it made by Amy's Kitchen. I got the Santa Fe bowl, cheese enchiladas, black bean enchiladas, teriyaki rice and veggies, brown rice with veggies and tofu, and one I've not tried before, Mexican tamale pie. That should keep me for awhile.

Had a showing last night. Yayyyyyy! From 6-7:30. The realtor's office called and set up at 1pm (while I was at the grocery store), so I had plenty of time to get ready. Had to get the stepladder out because both the porch and garage door lights were burnt out. Also, there were brand new cobwebs all over the front of the outside of the house with HUNDREDS of dead gnats in them! Ewwww! So I had to clean those up too. And I pulled the most obvious weeds out of the rocks and cedar bedding. Still a lot left, but I can only do so much at a time. As it was, I did too much anyway, especially hauling and climbing up that ladder.

All the extra activity probably didn't help the headache I already had. Now I'm on day two of a migraine. Feels like my brain is being held hostage, or at least held at knife-point. I'm trying my best to go about my usual activity despite the nausea and sensitivity to light. I figure if eight and a half hours of sleep didn't cure it last night, there's no point in going back to bed.

No "Lost" on last night. They didn't show it last week either. ABC is pissing me off. Even a re-run of "Lost" is way better than "The One", which is yet another singing contest. I need season 2 of "Lost" on DVD, heh heh.

Have been listening to my boxed music CD sets and copying the good stuff to iTunes. Just finished with the Ray Charles collection and am now working on George Strait, believe it or not. I'll probably get through everything before the house sells.

Chip has been helping me kill bugs that have snuck into the house when I've opened the sliding glass door to let him in and out. The other day, I smacked a fly with a towel and it started running around on the floor, dazed. Chip started pawing at it and accidentally stepped on it and squashed it. He couldn't figure out where it went; it was stuck to the bottom of his paw! Then he was lying on the floor a couple of nights ago and a small beetle or something ran past him. He ate it! It must have tasted bad, because he shook his head afterward. Too funny!

I miss Dan. We're thinking maybe about him coming to visit the first weekend in September since the following Monday is a holiday. That is, if the house hasn't sold yet. I'm going to wait another week or two before deciding. We really are short on funds, so the airfare would be a hardship, but not getting to see my husband for three months is a hardship too!

My head hurts too much for me to think of anything else to say.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Attention, able-bodied shoppers! 

Yes, you, the one trying to decipher your spouse's grocery list. And you, with a cart piled so high you can't see over the top of it. And you, who shop wearing athletic gear and armed with a stopwatch. And you, with five children in five aisles all shouting for your attention. And you, with the tunnel vision of an intense bargain hunter. And you, wandering aimlessly out of sheer boredom. I would like to address all of you.

I realize you are all valued customers, and the stores rely upon the generous spending of your money. But some of you need to be reminded that you are not the only shopper in the entire store, at least most the time you aren't. And because of this, some of you would benefit with a short course in shopping etiquette, or at least some suggestions.

From time to time, the other shoppers surrounding you might not have your ease and grace. Some may have canes or walkers or maybe a cast on their leg. Some may be using a regular shopping cart for support as well as to hold their groceries. And more frequently, you may encounter shoppers in wheelchairs or using electric carts. These are also people upon whom the stores rely for the generous spending of their money. But when you are thoughtless, cruel or simply uneducated as to how to treat these other shoppers with reasonable consideration, you may be keeping them from completing their shopping as they intended. And that is unfair.

The simplest way for an able-bodied shopper to be considerate is to be aware of his or her surroundings. Think of a shopping aisle as a road and your shopping cart as an automobile. Just as you would not read a map without keeping your eyes on the road, please do not read your shopping list while pushing your cart. You are not watching where you are going, and you risk running into other shoppers. If you need to consult your list, please pull your cart over to one side of an aisle and stop. This enables the other shoppers to go around you if necessary. And look around you before proceeding, in case someone is indeed trying to get around you.

And just as on a highway you would not want to slam on your brakes without reason, please don't stop suddenly in the middle of an aisle. The other shoppers are not mind readers, and not everyone is as capable of stopping as suddenly as you can. This is particularly true for people driving electric carts. Many of these carts have no ability to slow down; they either propel forward or backward or stop completely. When you stop short in front of them, they must release the lever that makes them go forward, and the cart jerks to a stop, which can be quite painful for the driver, similar to a whiplash effect while in an automobile. Some drivers of electric carts may have slow reflexes, which further hampers their ability to avoid running into people who stop suddenly in front of them. And whatever you do, don't back up without checking if the way is clear! Neither able-bodied or disabled shoppers are expecting you to do that, and someone could get hurt.

And if you are trying to decide between items on either side of an aisle, please do not park your cart crosswise filling up the whole aisle. No one can get around you. And please do not wander away to another aisle leaving your cart behind blocking the way. That is just rude. That forces people to either move your cart for you so they can get past (which they would probably rather not do), or forces them to turn around and go back down the aisle. When an aisle is narrow or has center displays or posts, turning around can be quite difficult for someone in an electric cart. Many electric carts move unpredictably in reverse, causing chaos and embarrassment when they clip a solid object. How would you feel if you accidentally knocked over a center aisle display because you were trying to get around an abandoned shopping cart?

Please do not park your cart next to an end cap display if there is no room to go around you. This is especially true when the checkout lines are backed up all the way to the end caps. And for heaven's sake, don't abandon your cart there. Other shoppers with carts of any kind might not be able to see around that end cap and may run into your cart, you, or people in the checkout line.

Just as you would not drive a car when you can't see over the steering wheel, please do not pile a cart so high with small items that you can't see where you are going. If you run into something, you'll be spilling your potential purchases all over the place, which does not make anyone happy. If you are purchasing a large item, please at least look around the sides of the cart and go around the end caps carefully.

Shopping is not generally a timed event unless you are on a game show. So if you are in such a hurry that you feel the need to run through the store, please come back either when the store is less crowded or when you can complete your shopping at a more leisurely pace. If you are rushing, you are probably not mindful of the other shoppers. Cutting people off in the grocery store is just as rude as doing so on the highway. And the very height of rudeness is pushing past a disabled person purchasing only a few itemss to get in the checkout ahead of them with a full cart. While it may be saving you some time, you may be unintentionally causing the disabled shopper extra pain and fatigue by making them wait. That extra pain and fatigue may keep them from going to another store that day, or it may make them decide not to shop at that particular store ever again. And remember, the store doesn't just want able-bodied people's money, it wants money from the disabled shoppers as well.

Parents of small children, please keep track of the kids' whereabouts. Children running pell mell through aisles are seldom watching where they are going and present a hazard to both the other shoppers and the products on the shelves. If your child knocks items into the aisle, please either pick them up or have a store employee do it. Another shopper might slip and fall or simply might not be able to get around the mess. Same applies if you take a large item off a shelf and then decide against buying it. Don't just leave it sitting in the middle of the aisle. Either put it back or get it out of the way of the other shoppers.

I realize that bargain hunting takes time and perhaps a great deal of label-reading. That's fine. But if you are particularly indecisive, you might want to look about you from time to time to see if anyone else is trying to get to the section you are standing in front of. Shoppers in electric carts can't necessarily climb conveniently past you to grab what they want. And please, if you see you are blocking someone's way, don't just stand there and ignore them. Would you want someone to do that to you?

I would like to end here with praise for those of you, shoppers and store employees, who have gone above and beyond to help me. Yesterday, a man realized he had started unloading a cart full of food in the "10 items or less" line. While the checkout clerk said he wouldn't have to move, he did notice I was behind him with only two items, and he generously allowed me to go ahead of him. Last week, a grocery store employee allowed me to drive the electric cart into the parking lot to my car (I was so fatigued that it showed), and she drove it back to the store for me. And a couple of weeks ago, when the cart I was driving stalled, a valiant Target employee personally towed the cart to the checkout line with me riding in it. Please rest assured that the disabled don't usually forget kindness shown them, and I have been blessed enough times that it makes up for the rudeness I encounter the majority of the time.

But a little more awareness on the part of the thoughtless people wouldn't hurt.

Learning, laughs and house hunting.... 

Was reading the latest issue of "Fibromyalgia Aware" magazine and ran across a medical term that was new to me. You know how I've commented on having the "clumsies", i.e., running into door frames, accidentally flinging things across rooms, tripping over absolutely nothing? Apparently, people with fibromyalgia who appear to be clumsy can actually have what is known as temporospatial dysmetria. This, in addition to the famous "fibro fog" or cognitive dysfunction, is now thought to be evidence of a problem with dopamine, a neurotransmitter. I suspected I had a problem with dopamine before I was ever officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia, mainly because of the uncontrollable muscle twitching I experience. I think we are getting ever closer to the day when fibromyalgia is officially recognized as central nervous system disorder originating in the brain causing neurotransmitter dysfunction. That would certainly explain its systemic and persistent nature.

Tuned in to "Last Comic Standing" to root for my local hero, Josh Blue. He surivived elimination this week, yayyyy! Was kinda sorry to see Roz go as she was a sweet lady, but to be honest, last week's performance was not her best. So we're left with four: Josh, Ty, Michele and Chris. All of them are funny, so it's tough to make a desicion, but I think Michele's material was slightly weaker than the others, so I would bid her adieu. Tonight, Chris had the best routine with a hilarious bit about buying coffins at Costco. At this point in the competition, Ty, Chris and Josh have all had performances deserving of a win. At least with this show, no matter who performs, I get that much needed laughter therapy, so I see it as win-win.

Dan was to tour four homes tonight, but two of them have already sold. Bummer. One that looked promising online was a big disappointment. The basement carpet was trashed, and it SMELLED, the kind of smell that probably wouldn't go away with new carpet. Ewwww! The other house, the one built in 2000 that I've been rooting for, was actually very promising. It's slightly smaller than our present home, but it's in move-in condition, very cute with a backyard Chip would love. It has a built-in corner entertainment area in the basement, a decent kitchen with a dining area and an automatic sprinkler system. It's on the outskirts of town, which Dan isn't crazy about, but the price is right, and we'd be hard-pressed to find a newer home in our price range. Dan has selected four other homes he wants to look at if he can get the realtor pinned down. Oh, and the nice 1951 ranch with the built-in china hutch is still available.

Tried to go to the grocery store yesterday afternoon so I could snag an electric cart. My cell phone went off when I was halfway through the store, but when I answered, the call dropped out. I figured it was the realtor wanting to show the house since no one else has the number. I looked at what I had in my cart so far and realized it would take me just as long to put the items back as it would to just pay for them, so I went to the checkout line. Got home and checked my regular phone, but there was no message from the realtor, so the call to the cell phone was probably just a wrong number. I was gonna go back to the store today and finish the shopping, but first I called my credit union to check my account balance. Good thing I did....I only had $39 in checking! So I stayed home. But I should get my SSDI via direct deposit tomorrow, so I'll go then and get my eggs, milk, frozen waffles, etc.

Hope that nice 2000 ranch is still available when we can make an offer.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Rave of the Day for July 24, 2006: 

Ok, I don't do much political comment on this blog. But this was simply too outrageous to ignore. Thanks to David Baldinger's blog for the link:

FEMA Institutes Strict Media Policy for La. Trailer Residents

So now our government is trying to ensure that we'll forget all about the way Katrina survivors were treated by not allowing them unsupervised access to reporters??? Why the hell is FEMA being allowed to further punish these people whose only crime was being too poor to rebuild what they lost??? They are still American citizens with Constitutional rights, dammit!

With all the current administration shenanigans, this is the last straw.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Weary of beating myself up.... 

On Thursday night, I was cooking supper while "Grey's Anatomy" was on. I was standing near the bottom the staircase, waiting for a commercial break so I could go back into the kitchen. Unbeknownst to me, Chip had decided to stretch out on the area rug right behind me. The commercial came on, I whirled around to head to the kitchen, started to step on Chip's leg and then tried to get out of his way. Chip got out of all this pretty much unscathed, but in my valiant effort not to hurt him, I fell into the bottom few steps in a heap. Twisted my left knee and the left part of my lower back and banged my elbows on the bannisters.

Woke up on Friday sore from Thursday night. Did my usual stretches, but they didn't seem to help much. Was horribly exhausted, but forced myself to leave the house finally at 4pm to go to Wally World and then the grocery store. Bad idea....neither place had any electric carts available! I guess most of local disabled people go shopping on Fridays at 4pm, heh heh. So I had to turn right around and go back home. Grumbled about this to my neighbor/friend, and she volunteered to get some seltzer water and a few other things for me from the grocery. This was cool, because she was able to buy eight two-liter bottles of seltzer, whereas on my own, I can only buy one or two because that's all I can carry. While she was gone, i figured I'd pop outside and pull a few weeds. This was a bad idea for two reasons: one was that I was still sore from tripping over Chip, and the other is that I forgot to put on bug spray. So after about half an hour, I had back and leg spasms so back I could hardly walk, and had new bug bites on my fingers, legs, arms and face. I even had a bite on my butt! How a mosquito managed to bite me through shorts and undies I'll never know.

Yesterday, I pretty much took it easy and worked on photo albums until about 6pm. Then I decided I'd better get out and fertilize the front yard. There's a very limited window for doing this: you have to have 24 hours of temperatures under 90 degrees AND no rain. This is rather hard to come by in July as it's either 90 plus degrees, or if it's cooler, it's raining. Now, my neighbor/friend had volunteered to help me when she got home from work, but she was running late, and I thought I'd be able to handle it. Well, I got it done.....barely. The spreader is fairly lightweight, but going around the yard pushing it is still difficult for me because of the amount of walking involved. I went slowly and paused for breathers. The most difficult part is probably picking up the spreader and pouring the leftover fertilizer back in the back and then rinsing it out with the garden hose. I was getting seriously dizzy and tired doing this, but I pushed my way through it and had a shower to rinse off the fertilizer and bug spray (I remembered this time!) and then collapsed on the couch in a big old heap. Ended up taking a Valium with my Lunesta just to be able to relax my sore muscles enough to sleep. Was so exhausted today that I couldn't get out of bed until 12:30!

I have a ton of weeds to take care of in the back yard, but don't know if i even dare. One of the things I was gonna buy at Wally World on Friday was more weed killer. The stuff I sprayed last week seemed to have no effect! So I may get a different brand. Pisses me off that I'm gonna have to go through this again. I don't mind pulling weeds out of the grass by hand, but the worst of it is growing through the cracks in the patio and through the gravel lining the yard. So I guess my choices are carpel tunnel from pulling weeds or carpal tunnel from spraying them. Grumble.

At least I haven't had to knock myself out cleaning for a showing. Haven't had any showings all weekend. In fact, I've not had a single showing on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday since the house went on the market. I wonder why that is? Can't really blame the weather this time. It's sunny and about 90, typical summer day (as of this writing).

Trying to decide if I'm up to hauling all the photo album supplies off the top shelf of the book room closet.....

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Rave of the Day for July 22, 2006: 

Found my photo pages! It will take me some time to get them all listed under Links, but if you click on this one, all the others are linked to it:

Colorado Springs, 2002

I took down all my links to my pix pages while I was applying for disability because I didn't want a claims evaluator to look at a photo of me (or the ones I took) and decide that I must be healthy. Now that I've received approval, I think it's safe to post them again.

You may notice that the most recent pix are from a year ago. I would love to make some new pages, but I can't keep a dialup connection going long enough, so I'll have to wait until I've moved and have cable internet. Should keep me pretty busy.

The shutterbug returneth.

The quest for gluten free convenience food.... 

Haven't commented on this for awhile, but I've been trying to expand my dietary repertoire within the confines imposed by diabetes, gastroparesis and celiac disease. I'm also trying to find ready-made or stuff that requires very little preparation as I'm trying to keep the kitchen tidy for showings until the house sells. Right now, I live in a metropolitan area of approximately 2 million people, so I have plenty of choices, but when I move to Sioux Falls, healthy food is going to be hard to come by, so I want to have tried enough of it that if I end up having to resort to mail order, I will already know whether or not I like it.

Here are some basic guidelines for those unfamiliar with these ailments. Celiac disease is triggered by eating wheat, rye, barley and oats, so I have to avoid all foods that contain them. Gastroparesis is paralysis of the stomach muscles. I can't tolerate any of the medications used for it, so the only remedies are diet and gravity (remaining upright for at least three hours after a meal). A gastroparesis diet consists of easy to digest foods. And diabetes is best controlled with a diet consisting of a proper balance of protein and carbohydrates.

Here's where it gets complicated. If celiac disease were my only problem, I would just stick to unadorned fresh fruits and veggies and meat prepared without seasoning or sauce. Yummy, right? And to modify for diabetes, I would just make sure my meats were low fat, that the carbs didn't exceed 45 grams per meal, and that the meals were evenly spaced throughout the day. Still pretty simple. But gastroparesis puts a monkey wrench in everything. The very foods that are healthiest for the other two ailments are strictly forbidden by the gastroparesis diet because they are so difficult to digest. So I'm not supposed to eat citrus or cruciferous (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) at all, at least not raw. Big salads, large quantities of steamed veggies, and my meat intake are all sharply limited. And then there's the question of timing. Because I'm relying on gravity to move food through my body, my largest and most difficult to digest meals must be early in the day, to give them time to process, so to speak. So going out to a restaurant in the evening is not a good idea. Lunch, maybe. But by 8pm, I need to be eating eggs and cream of rice, not a steak and salad. The gastroparesis diet is the most difficult to follow because it is very bland, contains very little nutrition or fiber, and gets boring damned quick. So I must admit to cheating at times. Nothing outrageous, just some dark chocolate here and there, small portions of lean meat from time to time, a few bites of salad or cooked broccoli every once in awhile. And maybe I'll eat the slice of lemon in my tea if I'm eating out. Ok, so the chocolate is more than occasionally. It doesn't really seem to bother my stomach at all, and I think I'm entitled to one food weakness.

So what is safe for me to eat? When I was first diagnosed with gastroparesis, my gastroenterologist told me I'd be living on baby food and rice. As a result, I do consume quite a bit of rice, rice pasta, rice crackers, and cream of rice. You get the idea. For protein, I do a lot of dairy, including reduced fat cheddar, mozzarella, yogurt, cottage cheese, feta. I eat eggs probably four times a week or more. For variety, I sneak in some broiled chicken breast, very lean ham. I can do potatoes of any kind as long as they aren't fried (I'm not supposed to eat fried food at all). Tomato sauce is my friend as it provides some nutrition without too much trouble with digestion. As for other veggies, it depends on how I feel. I tend to stick with cooked, small portions, preferably pureed or in a soup. Fruit? Lately, I've been sticking to canned peaches and pineapple, small portions. I wish decent fresh papaya could be had here, because I tolerate that really well, but I think I'd have to move to Hawaii to get that. Tofu is pretty good for me, but I can't find it in many ready made dishes that don't contain wheat-based soy sauce. When I get moved, if I can find it at all, I'll probably start experimenting with recipies that I can modify.

What do I get to eat when I'm too sick/too busy to cook? That's where the challenge comes in. I keep a supply of Boost in the house at all times. Yes, I know it's full of sugar, but it also contains some nutrition, and when I'm really sick, I can't keep anything else down. The gastroenterologist told me she'd rather have me drink Boost than go without a meal. But as for actual food, it has been a real adventure finding stuff that fits all my restrictions, so sometimes I stretch the rules a bit. I've had the most success with frozen foods and canned soups.

I'm not in the habit of endorsing specific brand names, so when they are mentioned, keep in mind they just illustrate what can be found in the store. Soups, for instance, have gluten free varieties made by many companies, but there happen to be only two that make stuff I personally like. One is called Simply Asia. Basically, they are a variation on the old instant ramen noodle soup, except they use rice noodles and more of an Asian flavor to their spices. I like the Sesame Chicken and Spring Vegetable. Read the labels carefully because they also make wheat noodle versions of the same soups.

Either the Amy's company is expanding their line of soups, or my local stores are just carrying more of their products. Either way, I'm happy. Their gluten free soups come the closest to "normal" tasting; even Dan likes them. Probably the best soup is Chunky Tomato Bisque, although the Cream of Tomato ain't bad either. They make a delicious, low fat Chunky Vegetable, and I love the Corn Chowder (although I have to watch my corn intake a bit). Didn't care much for the vegetable broth, and while I do like the Black Bean Vegetable, I quit buying it for some reason. Maybe it had too many carbs? I'll have to check the next time I'm in the store. I eat the Potato Leek pretty regularly because it is the easiest on my digestion. I have a can of the Southwestern Veggie in my pantry but have not tried it yet. I did try their Medium Chili this week and had mixed feelings about it. While it is nutritious because it contains tofu in place of meat, I prefer the turkey chili I make myself. Still, in a pinch, it does provide a very handy full meal. There may be others I haven't tried yet, but I'll get to them in time. They also make soups containing wheat for those of you without restrictions.

Amy's Kitchen has also been a staple for me in the frozen food department. They make comfort food like gluten free mac and cheese, which I highly recommend for anyone. They also make some gluten free Italian. Probably the best of these for me is the rice veggie lasagna, which contains pureed veggies mixed in with the ricotta cheese. They recently changed the recipe, though, and I don't like it quite as well, which bums me out as it was my absolute fave. They make Mexican dishes that are quite good, although I do have to keep an eye on the fat and carb content of those. I haven't bought them for awhile but might start again. My favorite Mexican dishes are the cheese enchiladas and the Santa Fe bowl. They also make Indian food, but I tried one a long time ago and didn't like it. Can't remember which one it was, so maybe I'll take a peek again. Read the labels on the frozen foods carefully as your grocer might not be too careful separating the gluten free from the stuff containing wheat.

My biggest adventure lately, though, has been the frozen Indian food. The cool thing about Indian food is that most of the sauces do not contain wheat, and when you're a celiac, you know that is a very rare thing. I had been buying Green Guru's Palak Paneer, which is pureed spinach with cheese and spices. The previous version had a side dish of rice, and the overall meal had a nice mix of protein and carbs. But they switched to a huge portion of the spinach and no rice, which kept it low on the carbs, but doubled the amount of fat because of the cheese. So I started looking elsewhere. Turns out Ethnic Gourmet makes Palak Paneer with the rice and less fat, so I started buying that. And then I saw that my regular grocer was carrying Chicken Tikka Masala. Jackpot! Chicken in a smooth sauce with rice on the side, enough for a light meal, or you could add fruit for dessert (mango would be excellent if you could find it). Delicious! Then this month, one of the local health food chains put ALL of Ethnic Gourmet's Indian food on sale! Yayyy! I was so excited to find gluten free food, though, that I failed to check carb content, so I bought a few that were too high for me. I ate them a bit guiltily and promised myself to be more careful next time. I got to go back Thursday and get more. Here are the ones that work for me: Vegetable Korma, Chicken Korma, Chicken Tandoori with Spinach and of course the aforementioned Palak Paneer and Chicken Tikka Masala. All taste good, are spicy without being hot, and are a fair sight more nutritious than, say, your local fast food. Ethnic Gourmet also makes Thai food but, alas, most of it contains regular wheat-based soy sauce.

I found two kinds of frozen gluten free waffles that I like. Actually, it was the buckwheat (believe it or not, safe for celiacs) waffles that I liked most, but I stopped buying them because they contained too many carbs. Now I get Van's Wheat Free Waffles. I eat them for supper with a bit of fruit spread and a piece of cheese on the side.

Here's a huge challenge for a celiac: finding a pizza crust that tastes decent. Most of them are rice-based and are wafer thin, crumbly, hard as a rock, and taste like cardboard. I tried several brands and very nearly gave up. Then, at a small mom-and-pop health food store, I found individual-sized frozen crusts made by Kinnickinnick. These are soft, as close as you can get to thick/doughy, and they are Italian seasoned. Another jackpot! They come in packages of four. I buy them once a month and try to ration myself to once a week. I top them with organic spaghetti sauce, canned sliced mushrooms, and shredded mozzarella cheese. They are awesome! Good enough to share with a non-celiac friend or relative.

I reported a while back on my search for decent gluten-free bread. By far the best tasting turned out to be a mock rye made locally at a gluten free restaurant/bakery. I've been sorta pinching pennies and haven't been out to the restaurant for awhile, but I am planning a trip there soon if for nothing else but to buy some bread. When the house sells, I'm gonna need something I can make sandwiches out of so I can have something portable to eat on the road to Sioux Falls. Plus, Dan left me with a bottle of mustard in the fridge and two in the pantry, so I have an excuse to make some ham sandwiches so I don't waste mustard, heh heh. Even a p, b and j would taste pretty good on mock rye.

All this talk of food has naturally made me hungry. Think I'll go downstairs and make some rice pasta with chopped ham and homemade dressing. And maybe just a bit of dark chocolate for dessert.

And then I'll go to the grocery store.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Looky! New links! 

Had promised several people over several months that I would put links to their blogs on mine, but I never got around to it. So now I'm attempting to catch up. Problem is, some of the links I had were lost when my machine crashed, including links to my own photography pages! So if you are one of the people whose site or blog is missing from my list, please leave a comment or e-mails me and I'll rectify the situation.

In the meantime, here's a summary of the new stuff:

Komplexify! You'll never believe how I found this. I was doing a search on the term "split foyer" because I kept seeing it in Sioux Falls real estate ads and had no idea what it meant. This site popped up during the search. Turns out a math professor formerly of California had just purchased a split foyer home in South Dakota and described it in his blog! This guy has a great sense of humor, even if I don't understand all the math stuff, heh heh. And his taste in music ain't bad, either.

My Social Security Disability SSI Blog: believe it or not, the author of this blog contacted ME! He found my blog via the Social Security Disability Coalition. He used to work within the Social Security system, so his entries have a great deal of personal insight. He does all kinds of research, the kind I wish I had the energy for, hence many of my Raves of the Day are articles he found. You can learn a lot on this excellent site.

My Strand of Purls....with a few dropped stitches along the row! That's actually the complete title of the blog. It's written by a friend, Dr. Karen. We met when we formed a chronic pain support group. She has a host of autoimmune diseases that have sidelined her career as a shrink but have not sidelined her sense of humor or her devotion to knitting.

Found this link on Dr. Karen's blog. It's by a young woman named Payj in New York. She's an expert on celebrity-dom, writes well and is quite funny. She's a breath of fresh air.

David Baldinger's Blog and Cartoon sites: found him via My Disability Blog. He's a talented cartoonist who has had to go on disability. He shines the spotlight on politics and other cartoonists' work, and I also enjoy his photography, especially of his cats.

ECT: A Journey Out of Darkness. The one was also featured on My Disability Blog. The author has med-resistant mental illness and has had to resort to ECT, which has in part given him his life back. His story is eerily familiar: fighting with a long-term disability company for benefits, no longer being able to afford the mortgage, trying desperately to sell the family home and move to a state with a cheaper cost of living.

Hidden Words: I found this one featured in a recent article an a CFIDS newsletter. The author is a young woman in England. She is mostly housebound with CFS/ME. She writes well and has great taste in music. She has been kind enough to e-mail me a few times.

Tossed Pot: Another one I found via My Disability Blog. This is written by a young man who has bi-polar disorder and is wading through the Social Security disability process. He lives in Kansas City and takes great photos of the area. Those of you who live in/near KC should at least take a peek at the pix.

Now if I can just find my photo web pages, I'll be all caught up.....

Rave of the Day for July 20, 2006: 

Ran across this article via My Disability Blog. It illustrates perfectly how a disabled person can lose absolutely everything when denied repeatedly for Social Security benefits. I wish I could say it was a rare case, but it is not....

Woman with cancer denied benefits

I do hope the poor woman doesn't end up waiting a year and a half for a judge hearing. Anyone with a brain could see that she cannot work. Oh, I forgot, we're talking about the US government here.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Today's blog entry brought to you by the letter "zzzzzzz"..... 

Took the last prednisone tablet this morning. Hadn't slept well for various reasons. First it was the return of flapping feet and various other muscle spasms. Then it was the familiar pain in my hips, shoulders and aching in my hands. Then night sweats (but to be fair, I think the incredibly hot weather could be to blame this time, heh heh). And of course, Chip chose this morning to be whiny because he knew I was awake. I awoke at 7am but was unable to get out of bed for another two hours.

It is probably difficult to believe that someone can be so profoundly exhausted that it is physically painful to be awake, but that's where I am again. So I am back to dozing off whenever I sit still and relax for more than five minutes. In that respect, the course of prednisone was a complete failure. It's difficult to find the words to describe how utterly disappointing that is.

I'm not sure if the fibro fog is any less now than before. I am once again wandering into rooms and standing there with a blank expression, waiting to remember why I went there and many times going back to the room I was just in to see if that will trigger anything familiar. If I need to do two things, chances are I will remember only one of them. It seemed to take me forever this morning to get through all the rituals necessary to have the house ready for showing (opening blinds, putting dog beds in the closet, making sure there were adequate brochures available, etc.), not just because I hurt, but mostly because I had trouble thinking clearly enough to realize what these little tasks were.

Did make it to aquacise. The exercises were more difficult to do than on Monday, partly because of pain and partly because I was uncoordinated and had to picture an activity in my mind before I could actually do it. And the exhaustion threatened to squash me flat. But by far the most discouraging thing was that when I was getting out of the pool, I felt weakness in my legs returning.

Got home from the class with the intention of making lunch and then going to the health food store (I've tried three previous times but have been interrupted each time). Within minutes of finishing my rice spaghetti, I fell asleep on the couch for an hour and a half. I awoke early enough to still go before afternoon traffic got bad, though. I was grabbing my purse and about to take off when the phone rang. It was the realtor's office again, setting up a showing for the third day in a row! I put the keys back down. Chip had decided earlier today to roll around in the recently mowed back yard, and he had strewn grass clippings from one end of downstairs to the other. So I grabbed a brush to get the rest of the grass out of his fur and then swept the rest of it up despite all the protests from my body. When all was tidy, Chip and I did the usual visit the park ritual. The temperature outdoors was over 100 degrees, and despite parking in the shade, rolling down the windows to let a good breeze in and drinking plenty of water, I felt like I was gonna pass out when I got back home. All yard work and even making dinner were out of the question. i collapsed in a chair and half-watched the news. I was starting to drift off again when Chip, who was looking through the glass front door, started barking. Two men were approaching the house. I found out that they were there for the showing and were half an hour late! Ack! So I let them in, turned off the tv, put on my shoes, put Chip in the car again and took off for another 30 minutes. Good thing they hadn't caught me cooking dinner, or, worse, in my pjs. I was kinda irrritated that no one had called and told me they were running late so I didn't have to be gone so long. But, hey, I gotta get the house sold, so a certain amount of inconvenience must be endured.

One thing that is of solace is that even though my pain level is climbing once again, it still seems to be slightly less than pre-prednisone. The neuropathy has returned, but the pain/tingling episodes are briefer and not as intense. If these things stay exactly as they are now, I may still be able to deal. I don't have a choice, really. I have to get through the summer one way or the other. I just hope I am not permanently worse for the wear after this house-selling adventure.

I need someone to make an offer, soon.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Slowwwwing dowwwn..... 

Had to get up at 7am to put the trash and recycle bins out because the wind had knocked them over the night before. Got to sleep for maybe an hour and was awakened by a phone call from my new benefits administrator with my long-term disability insurance company. She asked if I'd been asleep and I told her bluntly yes. She said she was surprised I slept so late! I've told these guys several times I require a lot more rest than the average person. Anyway, she told me I STILL owed them money, after I'd sent them just about all of my SSDI backpay! I asked how that could be. She said it was short $3000. I told her that amount went to the lawyer. She paused and said, "Oh, yeah, I guess it says that right here". She then proceed to inquire about whether I had any children under 19. I reminded her that I have no kids. She managed to find that in my file too. Doesn't anyone read my file before they call? Tards. About an hour after that, Chip decided the world would come to a halt if I didn't get up and give him his morning meds. So I gave up and got up for the day.

Could tell right away that the tapering off the prednisone is having a profound effect. I felt sooooo heavy and slow, like I'm hauling an elephant through a swamp. My thinking seems to be dragging too. And the exhaustion is deep, like it penetrates right through to the soul. This is what I don't think most docs ever understand, just how fully a chronic illness like this infiltrates every fiber of my being.

But I still have a life to live, even when I am in tears because I need so badly to lie back down. So I got the house, the dog and myself ready for the day. Did my stretches and noticed that while they hurt quite a bit more than they did on Saturday, it still wasn't as bad as pre-prednisone, so maybe all is not lost. Paid the bills and had a moment of panic when I ran out of checks and couldn't find the new box I'd just gotten. Then I felt like a complete tard when I realized I had stashed them under the passenger seat of the car last week when in the midst of running errands.

Had to make some phone calls to try to find out why my flexible spending account company has no record of my COBRA payments the past two months. Tried the online and telephone automated systems and could only get information for 2005. Talked to a person, and she swore up and down that they don't ever extend benefits once someone leaves employment. I asked her then why my husband was offered an extension as a COBRA benefit, and she had no idea. So I called the COBRA administrator and was told the flexible spending account company is required by law to offer benefits for the full calendar year. Luckily, the lady I talked to there was on the ball and volunteered to either straighten out the problem with the FSA guys or refund our premiums. I was going to call our new insurance plan with some questions, but I realized I didn't have the time.

Sat down with a bowl of chili about 1pm with the cleaning ladies due to come by at 1:30. Imagine my surprise when they were early! Stashed Chip in the garage and inhaled the rest of the chili so I could get out of the way. I still feel a little weird about lounging around on the couch flipping through a fibromyalgia mag while people around me are scrubbing my house. But I am paying for the privilege, so I suppose I should get used to it. Man, they were quick! Everything thing done in just over an hour. And no way I'd be able to get my kitchen and bathrooms so spotless on my own.

After they left, even though I was dragging pretty badly, I decided I'd better head out to the health food store since I'd missed my chance on two previous occasions. I'd been gone about 10 minutes when my cell phone went off. it was the realtor's office, letting me know I had a showing in less than half an hour! So I flipped the car around and headed home, scooped up Chip and something to read and headed for the park. Found myself dozing off in the car. Got home at 5:30 far too wiped out to run any errands, so I just gave up and made some pasta salad. It was cloudy outside and would have been perfect weather for yard work, but I couldn't even consider it.

Talked with Dan on the phone for a bit. Seems his realtor is out of town this week, but he will be arranging to tour some houses on Sunday. He also went in to see the doc finally about the cough he's had for three weeks. Was told he had a bacterial infection and was given antibiotics and cough syrup.

Then I sat down to watch what I thought was gonna be the finale of "Last Comic Standing". Turns out that this is actually the beginning of the audience voting! Each week, a finalist will be voted off until a winner is declared in August. Was a bit grumbly because I felt like I had been sucked in, but I had a local comic to root for, so I went ahead and watched and voted online afterward. Have to admit all five finalists were funny, so I had a good time watching. I guess if I had to throw someone off, it would be the woman from New York. And while I'm hoping Josh Blue will win, the funniest guy tonight was the dude who did the routine about doing post-sports interviews after sex. The results of tonight's vote won't be announced until next Tuesday, so I suppose I'll commit to tuning in.

All right, I've lost track of how many times I've dozed off while typing this. Autoimmune fatigue is nothing short of hell, and that's all there is to it. Tomorrow is my last day of prednisone, and while I'm hoping I won't hit bottom, I don't suppose I should be too surprised if it happens.

At least I won't have to clean house.

Rave of the Day for July 18, 2006: 

OK, I don't have lupus, but I can still identify with about 90 percent of the items on this list. Sometimes you just need to take a break and look at the lighter side of chronic illness....

You Know You Have Lupus (or an invisible disease) When...

Glad to know I'm not the only one who calls my husband by my dog's name, heh heh.

Of wind and weariness.... 

This post may be cut short at any time. There's a storm a-brewing outside. I nearly shut the Mac down a little while ago because I thought I heard thunder, but when I looked outside, I realized that it had actually been the sound of both my trash can and recycle bin falling over in my driveway! I set them out on Monday nights because the companies involved pick up about 7am Tuesdays, long before I am up and cognizant. But since these companies rely on mechanical devices that look like robot arms on their trucks to actually empty the bins, one must have the containers in an upright position, or your trash doesn't get picked up. As it was, I had empty seltzer bottles and Boost boxes blowing into my neighbor's lawns, so I had to go out and rescue my refuse. And as I am on just half the dose of prednisone that I was on Friday, my strength is beginning to wane again, so it was a bitch to get the cans upright and back into the garage. Hope the same thing doesn't happen next week when I'm off the prednisone and am back to being a 150 pound weakling.

Did go out into the record 103 degree heat yesterday to go to the craft store. Being minus a tape runner constitutes an emergency when I'm in the mood to scrapbook, heh heh. I was kinda sorta almost frugal. I'm a kid in a candy store when it comes to scrapbooking materials, and the temptation upon me yesterday was great. Maybe compulsion to buy unnecessary things is like the food cravings I get when I'm on prednisone? Anyway, I managed to limit myself to one tape runner (refillable, I believe), two white pens to replace the one that had run out of ink a few months back (one fine line and one medium point), and three sets of black letters in three different fonts. No stickers, no background paper, although I was really dying to buy both.

Was wading through disc 2 on the "Brazil" DVD set when Dan called. He'd toured a few houses. One of them was kinda cruddy, with stains on the carpeting and such. The other two were adorable, but shared a significant problem: the kitchens were the size of postage stamps! Seriously, no counter space, no space for a small dinette set, and no dining area. What, did these people eat standing up in the living room?? I don't require a monster kitchen, but I do need enough counter space for my microwave, enough floor space for the table and chairs, and if my Foreman grill and rotisserie can't fit onto countertops both at the same time, I at least need cabinets that will hold them when they're not in use. Bummer, because these houses were otherwise perfect. Dan's gonna tour more houses when he's up to it. He's had a cold with a cough for three weeks now, and while he says he feels better, he's still coughing and is really tired. The houses he wants to tour are all larger. One is fairly new (built in 2000) but is on the outskirts of town (actually, I had to talk him into looking at that one, pleading the low-maintenance angle). Another is huge, 2400 square foot, but it in a suburb that might be too far away. There are three others ranging in square feet from 1700 to 2100 all in town. One that looks particularly promising was built in 1985, has 1900 square feet, has a kitchen/dining area remarkably like the one in my current house, and has a very nice deck in the back yard. And the one we liked so much from a few weeks ago is still on the market.

Because of the immense heat, I had to wait until 6:30pm to pull weeds. The disadvantage of this is while it allows me to work in the shade and avoid sun rashes, I am subject to every single biting insect on the face of the earth! Seriously, an entire swarm of mosquitos found me, and they were ruthless! Before long, horseflies were joining in, and even when I managed to get away from those, other stuff I couldn't even see were biting! I have red marks and swelling everywhere. So I actually went out this afternoon and bought bug spray. I really should take the stuff more seriously as there have been people in my state contracting West Nile virus.

I only got two of my remaining three photo album pages done. Because I have to keep the house de-cluttered all the time, I spend an inordiate amount of time packing and unpacking all the supplies and hauling them to and from the upstairs book room closet to the downstairs living room. Hence, by the time I've got everything ready to work on, a significant amount of time has passed and either I've lost the motivation, need to make something to eat, or have to stop because of some other commitment. The idea of getting a larger house is beginning to appeal to me more and more as I would have enough room to set up a card table in a corner someplace and have a little scrapbook workspace. I think Dan would let me get away with it as long as I wasn't cluttering up a primary living area. For now, though, with all the delays, I probably won't get the final page and title page (I always save that for last) on my 2002 album done until next weekend.

Today was ridiculously busy. Got up at 9am, and my neighbor/friend took Chip for a walk. Left the house a bit early for my aquacise class because I needed to get gas first. The class went really well because I still had decent mobility and energy from the prednisone. I actually had grip strength in my hands, something I hadn't experienced in about two years! On the way home from the class, I snagged the aforementioned bug spray and eye drops and (ahem, I'm blaming the prednisone for this) two dark chocolate bars from the pharmacy. When I got home, I checked my phone messages and discovered that the realtors had arranged a showing for that afternoon! Problem was, I got the message at 1pm, and the showing was supposed to be at 12:45! Yikes! So I herded Chip into the car and took off immediately for the park. But the realtor must have been running late, because we came back an hour later and they were still in the house, so we wandered around the neighborhood for another 15 minutes or so. When we finally got back home, I was left with half an hour to get ready for my massage/chiropractor appointment, and I hadn't eaten yet that day. I heated up from frozen Indian food (palak paneer with rice), snarfed, and was out the door again. Next I needed to cash a check (I got reimbursed for my deductible on my car repair, yayyyy) before the credit union closed. I had planned to go to the health food store after, but there was a major injury accident in the area, and I didn't want to get caught up in the traffic snarl, so I headed home. After a quick supper of leftover broiled chicken and tomato soup, my neighbor/friend came over again to mow the back yard. I did some yard stuff too, but I made sure to apply the bug spray first. Discovered fairly soon that while my arms and legs were left alone, I'd forgotten to put any on my face. Nothing like a swarm of mosquitos trying to go right up your nose.

Even though I did get through the day much easier than I would have pre-prednisone, I am beginning to slow in obvious ways. There is a slight stiffness in my knees that is more pronounced than yesterday, my hands are starting to ache again, and the grip strength is already starting to slip away tonight. And I'm beginning to show signs of having scrambled eggs for brains again. I was trying to hose down the front porch (looked like another cat vs. bird fight had taken place there) and kept forgetting which direction to turn the spray nozzle to turn it off when people walked by. Ended up squirting myself more than once.

And while I haven't dozed off putting a blog entry together since Friday, I'm coming damned close tonight. So good night.

Monday, July 17, 2006

More from the Predni-zone..... 

Managed to do some weed-pulling yesterday, but I had to wait until about 7pm for it to be cool enough, and then I stayed only in the shade. Probably was out there for 45 minutes or so. It was much easier to accomplish with less aching in my hands and knees. The lack of dizziness and weakness was a bonus too. And to come in the house after being in 100 plus degree heat and not have swollen feet was awesome.

I started watching "Brazil" on DVD. I have the Criterion Collection three disc set. I watched the first disc that contains the fully combined Brit/American version. I have to admit even while thinking more clearly, there was a part or two that confused me. Maybe because i was also working on a photo album and was distracted. Perhaps I should try watching it again with my full attention. At least I wasn't nodding off, which is what I would have been doing had I still been in that flare.

I've only got three pages to go on my scrapbook for 2002 (FINALLY). I didn't come up with any clever layouts, but I use too many photos per page to do much more than attach the photos and write tiny captions for them anyway. The really cool elaborate page samples they have in the craft books have only one or two pix per page, and I usually use six because then I'll need fewer album pages. It's a matter of finances on my part. I no longer have multiple hundreds of dollars to spend on scrapbooking. But I ran out of adhesive yesterday, so I am going to have to go out to the craft store today and spend a few bucks because I can't do much of anything if I can't attach the pix to the pages. I'm hoping to finish 2002 today and maybe even start on 2003.

I was surprised to be able to sleep last night. Of course, I'm sure the Lunesta I took helped. But I managed a decent eight hours. I should really count my blessings because the ability to sleep is just as important as reducing the inflammation via the prednisone. Maybe I really will come out of this episode in better shape than before.

Used the Gazelle machine today. I didn't add any extra time, just did my usual 20 minutes, but I think i worked a little harder than usual. Since I am on day three and am taking less prednisone, my pain level is increasing, but it's probably still only a 5 out of 10. Yayyyy!

Had no showings all weekend. Rats. I think this time because it's too hot. Last weekend too much rain, this weekend 100 degrees every afternoon. I would think house hunting would be more popular on weekends, but maybe it's just me.

Keeping my fingers crossed that the pain stays low-ish and the flare stays away as I taper the prednisone over the next few days.

Rave of the Day for July 16, 2006: 

My latest book review for But You Don't Look Sick has been posted. Be advised, this is a long one:

Nolo's Guide to Social Security Disability

I hope this one is useful for a lot of people. There is not a lot of quality info available on SSI and SSDI, and even though it took me forever to read, I'm glad I did.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Predni-zone! 

Woke up yesterday when the alarm went off but was so incredibly out of it that all i could do was let Chip out for a potty break and then go straight back to bed. An hour later, the telephone company called to ask me if I had gotten my new phone books yet (that's the second time they've called, and, no, I don't have the books). I decided then I should begin my day whether I felt up to it or not as Chip needed a walk before it got too hot outside and I hadn't called my neighbor/friend to ask her to do it. Besides, I needed to get started on the prednisone. This was about 9:30.

I started to feel different after only about an hour. Suddenly, it was easier to talk without a lot of premeditation. Also, my hands stopped aching so much. And my mood definitely improved. I mean, who wouldn't be more cheerful if the crushing burden of chronic illness were lightened and one was able to re-experience at least in part what it was like to feel normal again? In other words, YAYYYYYYYYY!!!

By noon, I was itching to go somewhere, anywhere, because I didn't want to waste the opportunity of increased mobility and energy. But this is one of the biggest pitfalls of chronic illness: the few occasions we feel good, we desperately want to make up for all the days/weeks/months/years that we were unable to do as we wished, and we do too much. Then the illness comes flooding back with all its limitations, and we are crushed again, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I have to be able to get through the rest of the summer on my own, so the last thing I should do is burn myself out, even with the best of intentions. After all, I want the prednisone to have had some lasting good, and if I spend the week that I'm taking it doing Herculean things, I'll could end up in even worse shape than before when it wears off. So I did the opposite of what I felt like doing; I took a nap. This may sound like a weird thing to do, but believe me, it's not. After a few days with the prednisone in my system, I will develop insomnia, and I won't be able to sleep at all even when I want to. Hence the nap while it was still possible. I slept for two and a half hours and awoke feeling almost as good as a healthy person.

I did decide to do one thing I probably could not have done without the prednisone: I went to see the pirate movie at the new local cinema with my friend/neighbor. I considered this to be a mini-vacation and within the bounds of not overdoing it. Funny, though, when my friend called to see if I'd looked up the show times, she almost didn't recognize my voice on the phone because I was talking faster and sounded jovial. Luckily, she knew me before I got sick and remembered that that is how I used to sound. How I do love to get my brains back. I just wish I could show my docs the before and after of my speech, behavior and mobility so they could see how significant the difference is. I drove since I knew I'd have the energy to do so for once, even after the movie was over. And I didn't have to get upset that all the handicapped spaces were taken; I just parked at the first open space I saw, even though it meant I would have to walk quite a bit further. I kept marveling at the ease with which I was getting in and out of the car; it's pretty amazing what you can do when your knees bend properly, heh heh. I was able to stand in line at the concession stand without an inordinate amount of pain in my feet, and I was able to climb the stairs in the theatre without hanging onto the rail and dragging myself up. And I was not out of breath when I got to a seat; in fact, it seemed easier to breathe, like an elephant had been removed from my chest. I got through the entire movie without needing a potty break and had very little trouble standing and walking when it was over (usually I have stiffened up rather like the Tin Man). I ended my day with a pain level of about 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 instead of the usual 8 or 9.

Today, I awoke after only six hours, but I made myself go back to bed and was able to sleep for another two hours. As tempting as it is to go out and conquer the world this weekend, I am going to pretty much stick to my usual activity: stretches, Gazelle machine, blog entries, dishes, keeping the house de-cluttered. I will do a few things a bit differently, though: I might do all my laundry this afternoon instead of limiting myself to one load at a time, and I will walk to the mailbox instead of driving. I feel good enough to pull weeds right now, but unfortunately, it's 102 degrees outside (at the time of this writing), and it's probably a poor idea for even a healthy person to exert themselves in that kind of heat. So I will wait until 6pm or so. And I might do some scrapbooking in the hope that my mind is sharp enough right now for me to come up with some clever page layouts and that if I should be notified of a showing, I'll be able to clear up the mess quickly. And maybe I'll watch some movies on DVD while my brain can follow a complicated plot or fast pace.

I am desperately hoping that if I pace myself, when the prednisone has worn off, some of my improved functioning will remain. I know better than to expect miracles because I've been through this routine so many times. But maybe the illness will cut me some slack until the house sells? One can only hope. And pray.

Bonus Rave of the Day for July 15, 2006: 

Came across this via Disability Blogger. It's about the complexity of trying to work full time when that job ends up paying LESS than SSDI. And the worry that despite vocational rehab, you may not get hired because of your disability. Yeah, I know it's not legal to discrinimate, but we all know that it does happen. This blog entry is written by the wife of a deaf man....

Social Security - Devil's Tool?

It's definitely a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

Savvy? Aye! 

Dan sent me some money, and I got it today! yayyyy! It was his idea. I was relieved that I didn't have to ask. Anyway, most of it is going to practical stuff like meds and food and bills, but I did set aside a bit to actually do something fun. I had gotten a postcard in the mail for a free admission to a new local movie theatre (but I wanted a few bucks in hand for a small popcorn and iced tea), and I knew exactly what film I wanted to see: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"! Yo ho ho and rum, Bloom and Depp, please!

Only Johnny Depp could pull off the role of Jack Sparrow, excuse me, CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow. Someone else might make him too foppish, too unappealing or too serious. He successfully balances cowardice, adventurousness, and drunkenness and makes the character irresistable. Ok, so I've always liked looking at him. But the role he plays is fun too.

Orlando Bloom is back as well, cunning, heroic and gorgeous as ever. This time, he embarks on a quest to free both his fiancee and his father. He encounters quite an array of foes on sea and land along the way.

I particularly like character of Elizabeth Swan. She's so much more than a helpless damsel. She gets to kick some serious booty, heh heh. One of my favorite scenes is where she's on a beach objecting to a swordfight over the treasure chest, and absolutely no one listens to her. Someone else makes off with the chest, so she must take matters into her own hands.

There some rather vile characters this time who are new. One is Davy Jones, who might better be called Squid Face for obvious reasons. The other is a Kracken. Squid Face likes to enslave people and turn them into sea creatures. Kracken likes to eat ships. One could see how the two would work well together.

Without providing too many POTENTIAL SPOILERS, I would like to mention a few entertaining scenes. One is when Johnny Depp is about to become the main course at the luau from hell. He manages to get loose but is still tied to a spit and looks kinda like a human shish kabob. Another is when his crew has been imprisoned in huge round cages. In their quest to get away, they start rolling around like a giant gyroscope. And the most creative one has got to be the three-way sword fight on a water wheel. That last one might induce motion sickness in those of you susceptible.

I have to admit the movie might be a tad long. But I was entertained enough not to mind much. I found many parts of it to be hilarious, and that always helps.

But what am I gonna do about this sudden hankering for Bacardi? Yo ho ho......

Rave of the Day for July 15, 2006: 

Couldn't resist passing along this audio clip where someone on a cell phone witnesses an accident and describes the punishment of the man who caused it. Maybe slightly in poor taste, but it IS pretty funny. Thanks to Joan for e-mailing it....

CHUM FM Morning Show Bit

Let this be a reminder to anyone who thinks little ol' ladies are all harmless, heh heh.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Caved in..... 

This morning was not a good one. Absolutely could not get out of bed. Finally dragged myself out about 10:30 right before the massage therapist called to cancel my afternoon appointment. My right arm was numb off and on for the first half hour I was up, and it was absolutely excruciating to even put my feet on the floor. I decided I'd had enough of this stinking flare and called the primary care doc's office. Fortunately, she'd had a cancellation for that afternoon, so I made an appointment.

Showed the doc the lump on my hand. She said it was just a cyst. Works for me.

But she agreed with me that this flare needs to be stopped as I am on the verge of becoming bedridden. So I am going on a steroid dose pack for a week. I've done this enough times to know the routine and the side effects and when it is worthwhile to do this. A short dose pack like this won't cause any lasting damage to my glucose levels or blood pressure, but it will give me insomnia for a few days. I am willing to risk it, though, to get a chance to become more clear-headed, free of neuropathy and other neurological problems, to be able move with normal pace and flexibility, and to actually have some damned energy. This is as close as I can get to a "do-over". Most of these symptoms will return as I wean back off the steroids, but they should be diminished in intensity, and if I do a good job taking care of myself, I will actually stand a chance of getting through the rest of the summer on my own. I'm starting the medication first thing tomorrow morning.

Had another showing tonight. Yayyy! Keep 'em coming! Hope one of them will result in an offer sooner rather than later.

Got home after the showing and totally crashed on the couch from "Jeopardy" at 6pm to the end of "Grey's Anatomy" at 9pm. Only got up to eat at 7:30. Was in tears from pain and exhaustion. It's very difficult to explain how a person can be so tired that it's physically excruciating, but it's the absolute truth.

So I am quite ready to experience the incredible heightened sense of well-being that comes from the first day of steroids and then the gradual decline and inevitable depression of the last day at the smallest dose where the illness tries to come flooding back (hopefully at a reduced intensity than before I started the med).

I'm looking forward to getting through a blog entry without dozing off even once.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I am my own burglar.... 

Ok, this has gone far beyond the bounds of fibro fog and is now squarely in the realm of brainlessness. Don't know if I mentioned it or not on this blog, but we have a security system in the house. It's one of those ones that works independently of the telephone line, so if someone cuts the phone wires behind the house, the system can still go off in the event of a break-in. It has direct communication with the monitoring company through the console so you can tell the company verbally if you need assistance and what kind. We got this mainly to protect me in the event of a medical emergency because it doesn't require me to get to the phone and call someone.

Anyway, one of the hallmarks of a fibromyalgia/Sjogren's flare-up with me is worsening of my cognitive dysfunction. So a few days ago, the dog wakes me up all distressed because he needs to go outside to pee. I can barely walk, much less think, but I hobble down the stairs and open the sliding glass door, completely forgetting that I had the security system armed from the night before! The alarm goes off, I disarm it as fast as possible, but not in time to prevent the monitoring guys from switching on the intercom and asking if I'm ok. I apologize for the mistake, give them my password, and think I'm good to go. But a few minutes later, the alarm company calls and asks the same thing. How embarrassing!! But nothing compared to last night.

I always switch on the security system right before bed as I'm going around downstairs switching off lights. Last night, though, after I'd done this and all the lights were off, I notice that I hadn't shut the screen door and that there were bugs all over the sliding glass door. I decide to quickly open the sliding glass door and pull the screen shut. Did I turn off the alarm system first? No, because I completely forgot (AGAIN) that I had set it! So the same scenario plays out all over again. I tell the monitoring guys through the console I'd made a mistake and then tell the alarm company on the phone the same thing. But unbeknownst to me, while I was on the phone with the alarm company, someone else from the monitoring company was trying to call me to see what was going on. Since they got no answer, they called the cops! Next thing I know, there are two patrol cars at my house, and officers with flashlights have surrounded the house, looking for intruders! I was mortified! I had to sheepishly open the front door in my night shirt, flag down an officer, and explain that I had unintentionally set off my own alarm!

The worst part about this is that this is the SECOND time the cops have come to my house on a false alarm within a year! The first time happened in January when I wasn't home. I got fined $50 for that incident. I don't know what a second offense is, but I bet it's more than $50. I'm pretty sure my permit to use the system will be suspended. I'm probably also going to be fined by my alarm company. I can tell them that I'm disabled and have memory problems, but I don't think it's going to help the situation.

So now I have this expensive alarm system, designed to protect me, and I'm scared to death to use it! I don't dare arm the thing if I can't trust myself to remember when it's on. But I also dislike being alone with no protection (ok, maybe Chip would lick an intruder to death, heh heh). And it pisses me off to think I'm paying a hefty monthly fee for alarm monitoring that I probably won't ever switch on again. I have a three year contract with these guys with at least two years left on it. Don't know how I'd be able to get out of it.

Most of all, I just feel like an idiot.

More from flare-ville...... 

I got up at 6:50am yesterday, believe it or not. While that may not be impressive to some, please remember that not only was I a night shift person for 11 years (right up until Dan left at the end of May, actually), I have been told by sleep specialists that my circadian clock is off, so doing anything before 10am is difficult for me. I got up that early because the sprinkler repair guys showed up at the crack of dawn. They replaced the broken sprinkler head in the front yard and then checked all the rest while they were there. You know the dead spot in the back yard? Turns out there was a tiny blockage in the sprinkler that covers that area. I had missed it when testing the sprinklers. So they cleared that right up for me. Now everything's aligned and working fine!

After they left, I was gonna make some calls and do a few things around the house, but I simply could not stay awake. I did make one call to the dentist to make an appointment to look at my broken crown on Wednesday afternoon, but that's it. I went back to bed for an hour and a half.

The cleaning people DID show up yesterday! Yayyyyy! Had a bit of a language barrier. The three cleaning ladies knew very little English, and I know very little Spanish. But the owner came by with them to go over what will need cleaning each week (floors, main bathroom and bedroom, kitchen) and what will need cleaning only occasionally (ceiling fans, spare bathroom and bedrooms, etc.). Luckily, he speaks Spanglish well enough so everyone could understand him at the same time! And I was amazed at how much got done in only an hour and a half! It would have taken me at least three DAYS to do it all myself, and I don't think I could have done it as well. The shower, the stove, the sinks, they all gleam! I felt a little weird at first, sitting around reading a book while three ladies worked their butts off (obviously, I've never hired anyone to clean before). But it was also a huge relief to know that I'm not gonna have to worry about injuring myself wiping down ceiling fans, scrubbing the bathtub or vacuuming the stairs. So they will be coming by every Tuesday afternoon until we get an offer on the house. Now maybe I'll get a chance to start feeling better if I'm not cleaning all the time.

Don't know exactly what's going on with Chip. He apparently had an upset stomach while the cleaning people were here. I had him in the garage with his kennel and a little area fenced off with baby gates. When I went to the garage to let him back in, he had knocked down the gates and was hiding behind the car. I could tell he'd had an accident because the whole garage smelled like you know what. I kept him in the back yard for a little while until his stomach appeared to settle down. I cleaned the garage, but the smell wasn't going away. I got a bit freaked out....I mean, the last thing I want to do is show a house that smells like poop! After a few frantic calls to Dan, who had always been in charge of the cleaning supplies, I tracked down some enzymatic cleaner, which I used liberally. Haven't checked yet, but I'm hoping the garage is no longer smelly. In the meantime, I'm not sure Chip's tummy has fully recovered. He woke me up at 3am, frantic and demanding to be let outside. I of course had taken sleep meds and was too out of it to follow him into the back yard and see what was going on. I guess if he has any more trouble today I will be calling the vet. Maybe this is all being caused by stress??

Decided I needed to run a few errands, stuff like TP and detergent at Wally World and some food basics at the grocery store (with my restricted diet, any time I run out of eggs constitutes a crisis). But when I started to turn into the parking lot of Wal-Mart, there were two cones in the entrance. Since the area is still new, I figured they'd been painting stripes or doing some construction, so I drove around them. Got into the parking lot and was surprised to find hardly any cars in the lot. But it wasn't until I'd parked and headed for the door that I saw the front doors were blocked with benches? What the heck? On a 24 store? You'd think they could have put up a sign saying they'd be closed. Decided to just head to the regular grocery. Found out later that the six-month-old Wally World had had an electrical fire!

Anyway, it seems I wasn't the only refugee from Wal-Mart to show up at the grocery store. Driving through the store in an electric cart was basically like traipsing through a minefield. Little kids running right into me, adults suddenly stopping in mid-stride and nearly causing me to hit them with the cart, people who very clearly saw me coming but would not move so I could get around them. There were a few times I got caught in gridlock with me trying to get around an end cap display and four people with full sized carts coming from different directions simultaneously trying to get in a checkout line. My little trip to the store ended up taking me an hour! Luckily, the grocery store staff were courteous despite being short-handed, and the checkout lady who helped me with my groceries let me drive their electric cart out into the parking lot to my car! Most stores won't let you go outside with them.

A former co-worker invited me to her 35th birthday party. It's downtown on the 20th at P.F. Chang's, so I would be able to eat there because they have a gluten-free menu. But I think I will have to decline because I'm just not that confident I'll be able to drive myself back home afterward safely. I'm just too exhausted too easily. I'm bummed because I'd sure like to get together with some of my old friends from work.

Guilty pleasure admission: I know I said I wouldn't watch anymore "reality" competitions on tv after that horrible ending to "Rock Star: INXS". But I was flipping channels a few weeks ago and stumbled upon "Last Comic Standing", which I had never seen before. I was reaching for the remote to turn the tv off when I saw someone I recognized! Yep, there was a contestant named Josh Blue onstage. I recognized him right away as the guy with cerebral palsy whom I'd seen several times in person as the opening act at the local comedy club! While he does work his disability into his act (such as describing what it's like to be mistaken for a drunk), he's also just funny as hell! This week, he's in the top five finalists! The finale, where the winner will be picked, airs next Tuesday night on NBC.

I'm halfway through "The Chronicles of Narnia", which is actually like seven books in one volume. It's quite entertaining and the perfect thing to be reading right now since I've got some much stress going one that I need light escapist material. Kinda like watching a Disney movie instead of thinking about your job, or some sort of analogy like that.

Today started out ok. I managed to keep my promise to myself to be up and dressed by 9am, and even took the time to start working on this blog entry. But then I made the mistake of sitting on the couch for a moment about fifteen minutes before I needed to leave for my aquacise class. Wouldn't you know I fell asleep? So I was late again.

After the class, even though I desperately wanted a nap, I had just enough time to come home and eat a quick lunch before heading to my dentist appointment. They checked the broken crown and said the rest appears to be in good condition and will not likely cause me any problems. So they just filed down the rough edges so I wouldn't cut my tongue again. I was quite relieved to not need a new crown. Best of all, no charge for this visit! So nice to not owe more hundreds of dollars.

Since the appointment took only 15 minutes and Target was kinda sorta on the way home, I popped in there to pick up some things I'd intended to get yesterday at Wally World. But of course everything I needed was in a different corner of the store, and the electric cart (they only had one) hadn't been properly charged. So much to my embarrassment, I completely ran out of juice in the lawn and garden department on the opposite side of the checkout lanes! I had to flag down someone who worked there, and they had to get on the walkie talkie to see if there were any more carts. No such luck. There was no way I could walk all the way to checkout from the back of the store, so one of the guys who worked there had to pull the cart (it will still roll if you keep the lever in the "on" position, even if the charge is completely gone) with me riding in it. At least the poor guy thought it was funny when I referred to him as a human tow truck and was kind enough to open a checkout lane just for me to I could pay and get out of there. So yet another "quick" errand that took over an hour.

After I got home and had some yogurt and soup, I braved the early evening heat and mosquitos to spray weeds in the back yard, trying to stay in the shade as much as possible. You see, while that week long rainy streak was great for the grass, it also brought out weeds by the hundreds! Knowing there was no way I had the energy to pluck each weed out of the rocks and patio, I purchased some weed killer that was supposed to be safe around pets as long as the stuff was allowed to dry first. And I avoided getting any on the lawn since Chip plays there. I will pull the weeds there by hand. But either I seriously underestimated the size of my yard or overestimated the capacity of the spray bottle, because i used every bit of it! A full 24 ounces. What sucked was it was one of those bottles that only sprays a direct stream when you hold it level, a distinct disadvantage when you're trying to spray something on the ground while standing. Had to keep pumping the spray bottle, which woke up the carpal tunnel in a hurry. So I hope I won't have to do another application anytime soon.

Speaking of carpal tunnel, gotta stop typing right here.

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