Saturday, February 28, 2009

The meme of threes.... 

Now, here's what you're supposed to do. And please do not spoil the fun. Then send this to a whole bunch of people you know INCLUDING the person who sent it to you. The theory is that you will learn a lot of little known facts about those who know you.

* Three jobs I have had in my life:
1. Technical Producer, radio
2. Resume writer
3. Phone book editor

* Three places I have lived:
1. Virginia
2. South Carolina
3. Kansas

* Three shows that I watch:
2. House
3. Monk

* Three places I have been:
1. North Dakota
2. Idaho
3. Oregon

* Places I have been this week:
1. Aquacise
2. Health food store
3. Sister-in-law's house

* Talk with regularly:
1. Dan
2. Dan
3. Dan

* Three of my favorite foods:
1. Lamb Rogan Josh
2. Pad Thai
3. Cheese enchiladas

* Three favorite bands and/or singers
1. Metallica
2. Buddy Holly
3. Paul Simon

* Three favorite movies
1. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
2. Lord of the Rings trilogy
3. Gone with the Wind

* Three friends I think will respond:
1. ?

* Three things I am looking forward to:
1. Spring lilacs
2. Summer butterflies
3. Fall maples

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Crappy day!! 

For some reason, I'm stuck in a cycle of marathon sleep-a-thons despite having done nothing to provoke a flare. The final straw was today when I couldn't get out of bed until 1pm! It is extremely difficult to be productive after 13 hours of your day are already gone.

Then I got the mail. Inside was a notice that, despite me having been a loyal customer never late never over the limit for 10 plus years, my credit card company was DOUBLING my interest rate and going from a fixed to a variable rate! I would just cancel the damned thing, but I unfortunately need it because I use an online service for my meds and I know most people's rates have gone up so there's no point switching cards.

So I was grouchy, and I felt guilty that Dan has to do everything for me, so I tried to save him a trip to the grocery store by going myself. I came out of the store laden with bags into a semi-blizzard and found my driver's side door completely inaccessible. I was legally in a handicapped spot. That painted grid next to the parking space is there for people in wheelchairs to use; I need it because I have trouble climbing in my car unless the door is completely open. And this ginormous SUV was parked right on the grid about an inch from my car!

I was already out of breath from hauling groceries, and then the cold air hit my lungs while I was writing down the license number of the SUV and my asthma kicked in. The wind chill must have been below zero, because by the time I limped back into the store, my fingers had turned purple despite my gloves. Stupid Raynaud's.

Thank goodness the customer service manager came to my rescue. The SUV pulled away within minutes, and I drove straight home after using my inhaler. I must have looked pretty dreadful after I got home because Dan made me go sit down while he got the groceries out of the car.

So I didn't really save him any effort at all. And now I'm pretty sure I've gotten myself into another flare because I feel like someone beat me up with a sledgehammer.

I'd better perk up quick because tomorrow I have to go my five-year-old niece's birthday party and watch everyone eat pizza.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rave of the Day for February 25, 2009: 

I found out this week much to my surprise that I am vitamin D deficient. Apparently, there may be a link between this and fibromyalgia symptoms, so I did some research....

Lack of Vitamin D Linked to Pain

Vitamin D: Are You at Risk?

My primary care doc has started testing all her fibromyalgia patients for vitamin D deficiency. Mine had once been normal; however, I have moved from a sunny climate at high elevation to a low elevation with long winters, so maybe that made the difference. At any rate, I will try whatever the doc recommends and see if any of my symptoms improve.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rave of the Day for February 26, 2009: 

My latest review for But You Don't Look Sick has been posted. I figure I'm a pretty good expert on house shoes....

Product Review: Isotoner Slippers

Haven't posted much here because I've been editing pix from 2008. Trying to get caught up in time to get the shots I want for scrapbooks put on a disc before the coupon for the local photo store expires.

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Firsts" meme.... 

1. Who was your FIRST prom date? - Wasn't asked, and stag wasn't cool then. But did get asked to a formal my senior year of college. Made up for lost time by wearing a short black strapless lace dress when the other girls were all wearing princess pastel numbers with poofy sleeves and bows on the butt.

2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love? - No. Last saw him in 1990.

3. What was your 1st alcoholic drink? - Aside from accidentally drinking some Harvey Wallbanger left in the fridge by a relative and finding out after the fact that the punch at a party was spiked, the first intentional alcohol was probably a sip of someone's beer when I was 18.

4. What was your FIRST job? - Skyline Labs preparing soil samples for geologists

5. What was your FIRST car? - 1976 Chevy Nova

6. Who was the FIRST person to text you today? - Don't text. Don't even have a working cell phone. Don't need one when I am home most of the time.

7. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning? -Dan the Man

8. Who was your FIRST grade teacher? - Mrs. Logan, who had polio and who retired mid-year due to pregnancy

9. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane? Denver from Charleston, South Carolina. I was two years old, flew alone and the stewardesses took care of me.

10. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk? - Shirley. We lost touch probably eighth grade.

11. Where was your FIRST sleepover? - Probably Shirley's. Remember watching part of a movie with "Suzie Wong" in the title after I was supposed to be asleep.

12. Who was the FIRST person you talked to today? Dan when he came home for lunch.

13. Whose wedding were you in the FIRST time? My cousin's. I was five and was the flower girl.

14. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning? - Looked for my socks as they had both somehow come off while I was asleep.

15. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to? Styx

16. FIRST tattoo? Never got one due to fear of needles. Would love a butterfly though.

17. First piercing? Ears when I was 18. That piercing gun HURT, and I never did it again even though I like multiple piercings on others.

18. First foreign country you've been to? Mexico at age 10.

19. FIRST movie you remember seeing? - Saw pieces of movies at the drive in when I was supposed to be asleep in the back seat. Saw parts of "2001", "Soylent Green", and "Planet of the Apes", but I don't remember which was first. First movie I remember all the way through was "Wizard of Oz" on TV.

20. When was your FIRST detention? Got spanked for tardiness in sixth grade, but never got actual detention for anything.

21. What was the first state you lived in? Virginia

22. Who was your FIRST roommate? Freshman year of college. Can't remember her name but see her face in my mind. Millie maybe?

23. If you had one wish, what would it be? that I could still work so I wouldn't have to deal with disability benefits and the crap that goes along with them.

24. What is something you would learn if you had the chance? I love to learn, so it's hard to choose just one thing. Retaining what I have learned would be even better. Something practical to learn would be more about web design.

25. Who do you think will be the next person to post this? no clue

Another alphabet meme..... 

A-Age: 44

B - Bed size: queen

C - Chore you hate: cleaning the toidy

D - Dad's name: Glenn

E - Essential start your day item: Boost

F - Favorite musician: changes frequently. How 'bout Paul Simon for today?

G - Gold or silver: white gold

H - Height: 5'6"

I - Instruments you play(ed): piano as a child. Abruptly stopped when my little sister sat down with no training at all and played by ear a song I'd been trying to learn for weeks.

J - Job: money police, lol

K - Kid(s): none, unless you count me, lol

L - Living arrangement: little house on the prairie with hubby

M - Mom's name: Elizabeth

N - Nicknames: KC, Kerner, Fred, fanfaire, klbrowser

O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: multiple

P - Pet peeve: people proud of their bigotry

Q - Quote you like: "The most wasted of all days is that during which one has not laughed." - Nicolas Chamfort

R - Right or left handed: both

S - Siblings: one

T - Time you wake up: 10am if I'm lucky, but usually later

V - Vegetable you dislike: black eyed peas

W - Ways you run late: oversleeping, forgetting something I need, underestimating how long it takes me to get ready, underestimating how long it takes to get there

X - X-rays you've had: entire spine, hands, wrists, knees, ankles, feet (all of which have arthritis), lungs

Y - Yummy food you make: brown rice pasta salad with lean ham, maybe veggies, maybe olives and homemade vinaigrette

Z- Zodiac Sign: Aries

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My name is klbrowser, and I'm a survey-aholic.... 

1. Last beverage: Green tea
2. Last phone call: The home medical supply place about getting my new wheelchair
3. Last text message: I don't text
4. Last song you listened to: "Easy to Be Hard" by Three Dog Night
5. Last time you cried: A couple of weeks ago after my uncle died.

1. Dated someone twice: Twice in a row? Of course.
2. Been cheated on? Yep, and he got her pregnant.
3. Kissed someone & regretted it? Possibly.
4. Lost someone special? My mom and my pup, among many.
5. Been depressed? Was for awhile when I realized I wasn't going to be able to go back to work. But I dealt with it in a healthy way, and I cope pretty well now.
6. Been drunk and threw up? Last time was 1995, I think, and before that was sophomore year of college.

1. Purple
2. Blue
3. Red
4. Pink

1. Made new friends: Yes
2. Fallen out of love: Yep. I have an ex.
3. Laughed until you cried: I'm good at that.
4. Met someone who changed you: Yes, many times.
5. Found out who your true friends were: It's usually pretty obvious.
6. Found out someone was talking about you: My boss, and it wasn't flattering.
7. Kissed anyone on your friends list: Kissed, no. Hugged, yes.
8. How many people on your friends list do you know in real life: You mean online isn't real life? LOL Probably 15 I've met in person; the rest through blogs, support groups and Facebook.
9. How many kids do you want to have: Zero. No parenting skills.
10. Do you have any pets: Not anymore
11. Do you want to change your name: With my poor memory, I don't dare, lol
12. What did you do for your last birthday: Saw "The Bucket List" at the theatre with my husband.
13. What time did you wake up today: 10:20am
14. What were you doing at midnight last night: struggling to fill out an insurance form (still can't figure it out)
15. Name something you can not wait for: to feel well enough to have a life. I've been sick 12 years, so I just do the best I can.
16. Last time you saw your father: the week of Thanksgiving 2006, before I moved 600 miles away
17. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life: The fact that fun things are just as exhausting as unpleasant things.
18. What are you listening to right now: "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys
19. Have you ever talked to a person named Tom: I'm related by marriage to a person named Tom, so yeah.
23. What's getting on your nerves right now: Trying to switch to mail order prescriptions with new insurance. You must send payment in full in advance for all co-pays. How am I supposed to know what the co-pay is when some of my meds aren't even on their drug lists? Their website is freakin' useless.

1. What's your name: Karen
2. Nicknames: KC (before my current marriage that changed my last name)
3. Relationship Status: married
4. Zodiac sign: Aries
5. Male or female or transgendered: female
6. Elementary: Roush
7. Middle School: Junior High? John Dewey
8. High school: Mapleton
10. Hair color: Boring brown now.
11. Long or short hair: short, sometimes extremely so.
16. Height: 5'6"
17. Do you have a crush on someone? Sure, but nothing serious except my husband, lol
18: What don't you like about yourself? low pain and exercise tolerance
19. Piercings: Ears
20. Tattoos : too afraid of needles to get one
21. Righty or lefty: both

22. First surgery: tonsils/adenoids
23. First piercing: ears
24. First best friends: first friend that wasn't a neighbor kid was Shirley in fourth grade.
26. First sport you joined: Um, my nickname was "The Third Out", so I was asked NOT to join.
27. First pet: Cat probably
28. First vacation: probably Arkansas. Spent a few summers there.
29. First concert: unaccompanied by relatives? Styx
32. First job: first one where I wasn't paid by a relative was Skyline Labs at age 16 preparing soil samples for geologists.

49. Eating: nothing in the past 3 hours
50. Drinking: blueberry tea
51. Wearing: sweatshirt, pajama bottoms, chenille socks, house shoes, Colorado Rockies hoodie
52. I'm about to: call it a night
53. Listening to: "St. Anger" by Metallica
55. Waiting for: Dan's paycheck so we can get groceries
56. Thinking: hoping like hell I don't catch Dan's cold as I just got over a stomach virus.

57. Want to live: yes, in the future, I'd like to be living, lol
58. Want kids: no
59. Want to get married: I'd like to be married to the same guy I am now
60. Careers in mind: to eventually earn the title "domestic goddess", lol

68. Lips or eyes: I would like the opposite sex to possess both, lol
69. Hugs or kisses: Both
70. Shorter or taller: no preference
71. Older or Younger: younger since I'm immature, lol
72. Romantic or spontaneous: spontaneously romantic
73. Nice stomach or nice arms: usually someone who has a nice stomach also has nice arms
74. Sensitive or loud: depends on the situation
75. Hook-up or relationship: depends on your mutual expectations. For me personally, that's obviously a relationship since I'm married.
76. Humorous or serious: depends on the situation
77. Trouble maker or hesitant: A bit of both

78. Kissed a stranger: Once in 1986.
79. Drank hard liquor: Straight or mixed in something? Mixed, I have one Bacardi and Splenda-sweetened cola on my birthday and one on New Year's Eve. Last Yagermeister shot I had was in 1994 (someone bought it for me for my birthday).
80. Lost glasses/contacts: Does it count if your dog EATS your glasses? LOL
81. Sex on first date: no
82. Broken someone's heart: probably
83. Had your own heart broken: yes, at least temporarily
84. Wanted someone you know you can't have: yep
85. Been arrested: Nope.
86. Turned someone down: yes, but I was usually nice about it
87. Cried when someone died: naturally
88. Liked a friend that is a girl? Sure. I don't limit my friends to one gender.

89. Yourself: Yes, I believe I exist, lol
90. Miracles: I believe they are rare but do happen.
91. Love at first sight: If not love, then something close to it.
92. Heaven: not as a physical place, but as a different plane of existence
93. Santa Claus: does he believe in me?
94. God: yes
95. Kiss on the first date? usually not
96. Angels: I think so

97. Is there one person you want to be with right now? He's upstairs.
98. Had more than one boyfriend/girlfriend at one time? yes, but I was honest about it, and they didn't mind
99. Done something you regret? I've done things that were foolish, but I don't waste much energy wishing I could take it back.
100. Think these things are kind of dumb? Some of these questions are.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rave of the Day for February 17, 2009: 

Here's who DIDN'T benefit from last year's Wall Street bailout: the average Burger King employee. Never mind that Burger King's parent company gave out bonuses for their executives with the bailout funds....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rave of the Day for February 15, 2009: 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Marriage meme.... 

For all the married folks! Answer the following questions about your marriage & then tag all your married friends!

1. What is your spouse's name?

2. How long have you been married?
12 years 2 months

3. How long were you together before you got married?
a few weeks shy of a year

4. Where did you get married?
the City and County Building, downtown Denver

5. Where did you propose or were proposed to?
at my mother's house

6. Have you ever been married before your current marriage?

7. Who "wears the pants" in the house?
I wear the pants, he wears the shorts! LOL!

8. Who is the "bread-winner"?
He is, even though I can't eat bread, lol

9. Do you have any children?

10. Do you have any pets?
not anymore

11. How many times a week do just the two of you go out?
If church counts, once. But we spend plenty of time home together because I'm not up to going out very often.

12. Do you have separate checking accounts?
no, because I'm the money police, lol

13. What side of the bed do you sleep on?
the side closest to the door

14. Who does the laundry?
he does it most of the time because I'm usually not able to

15.Who cooks?
I cook for both of us maybe once a week because I don't have the energy to do it every day. The rest of the time, we each must fend for ourselves.

16. Who cleans?
He has to do most of it. I am able to do the dishes but not much else.

17. Do you share a vehicle or each have your own?
We had to get a second car when we were living in separate states (I was trying to sell our house in Colorado and he was working his new job in South Dakota). If one car croaks, though, we'll go back to sharing one.

18. Do you get along with your in-laws?
had better since we all live in the same city now, lol

19. Do you argue with your spouse?

20. Are you good at pampering?
Unfortunately, no. Wish I was better.

21. What is your favorite physical feature of your spouse?
ummm, is it rude to say butt? LOL! Ok, I like his smile too, and lots of other stuff.

22. Name one thing you would change about your spouse?
He's a shopaholic! Ack! Not good when one of you is on disability.

23. Name a movie that will always remind you of your spouse?
Just one? I think the one we have watched the most number of times together is "While You Were Sleeping"

24. Do you own a home or rent a place?

25. What is your wedding date?
December 5, 1996

Happy Heart Day! 


Friday, February 13, 2009

Tax tips for those with medical expenses.... 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had intended to write an article on tracking deductible medical expenses for But You Don't Look Sick, but someone beat me to it (and theirs might have been better anyway). Still, I think I might have some useful ideas to impart, so I'll just do some informal thoughts here, whatever comes immediately to mind. Just keep in mind that I'm kinda foggy tonight, heh heh....

As most chronically ill people in America know, you are allowed to deduct only those un-reimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of your income (which, by the way, I think is highly unfair; you should be able to deduct ALL of it). The best way to know for sure whether you've reached this threshold is to track all your expenses each year and tally them up the following January. You also have to save each and every receipt.

I discovered last year that it can be a real pain in the ass to go through a pile of receipts several inches thick at tax time and come up with an accurate total. Oh, and don't forget figuring out how many miles you drove for medical reasons because you need to multiply that number by whatever the going reimbursement rate is that year (for 2009 it's 24 cents per mile). I had expenses for 2007 reaching five figures, and arriving at that number was a rather daunting process.

So I knew I had to come up with a better way. Using Quicken's reporting feature to print out lists of deductible items was helpful, but I only had info in there for stuff that had been paid for with checks, which left out items charged on credit cards or bought with cash. And I realized that if the IRS were to audit me (unlikely since I don't make much money, but the large medical deduction could raise a red flag), it would be difficult to track down the address of each and every provider of care unless I had it in a list.

To make it much easier on myself, I decided to keep running charts of every deductible medical expense I incurred. I made templates that I can copy each year and fill out as I go along. Because I use Turbo Tax online to file my taxes, I made a document for each type of medical expense they ask for: prescriptions, medical facilities (like hospitals and clinics), medical professionals (like doctors and dentists), and X-rays/lab work.

For each page on the document, I put columns for the basic necessary info: recipient (like a hospital name), full address, amount paid, date of service or payment, and miles traveled to and from home. To get the mileage, I simply used MapQuest to find out the distance between my address and that of the recipient and doubled it. Each page had a space at the bottom to put total amount paid and total miles driven for that page, and the last page on each document had all the previous totals and space for a grand total. Finally, I had a single separate page where I summed up expenses and mileage for all categories combined, a list of any refunds I received during the year (such as a prescription rebate) so I could subtract them from the grand total, and a calculation of miles driven times that year's reimbursement rate.

Sounds complicated all spelled out, but once the forms have been created, you can copy and paste data that repeats frequently so you don't have to look it up every time. I also use my appointment calendar for a backup as I go to aquacise three times a week but don't always remember which day I missed when I am too sick to attend. One benefit of having documentation like this is that when you make a payment that is only partially deductible (like when you buy food at the drugstore along with your prescription), you put just the deductible portion on your list and ignore the rest.

I just filed my taxes earlier this week, and even though my medical expenses were greater than the previous year, it was much easier to come up with the proper totals this time because I'd been entering the data all year long as it was incurred. I simply printed out my completed documents and fed the medical totals into Turbo Tax. The only little snag I encountered was that this year they asked for mileage split into the first six months and the second six months of the year (last year they just had you enter the grand total), but that was easily calculated because I had put all my data in chronological order.

For those of you on SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), I would recommend against filing your taxes by hand if you have a working spouse, because it is a pain to calculate how much of your benefit amount is taxable. Software or online filing like Turbo Tax will figure this out for you. If you will have to use the long form 1040 (likely if you have medical expenses to deduct), it is worth the $30-$60 you pay for a service because they will walk you through every single potential deduction if you wish so you can be sure you don't miss anything.

I had an astounding 25 percent of my total household income go to medical expenses last year. Yet it only took me one evening to ready my paperwork and one evening to actually file my taxes. Had I not tracked my medical expenses throughout last year, though, this could have taken several days or even a week or more.

BTW, I am getting a refund, albeit a small one. Unfortunately, my disability pension is not having any taxes taken out even though I filled out the paperwork twice to have this done. So all the medical expenses only offset the pension a little bit.

I read that the stimulus package includes a one-time payment of $250 to those on Social Security. Hope the government doesn't really expect us to go out and shop with that money. Just about everyone I know on disability needs it to live on.

Well, that's my little lesson for the day. I plan to do another article for But You Don't Look Sick soon, probably a short product review. Until then, I have some new medical expenses to record.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Alternate Identities meme.... 

Copy & paste the list, changing my answers to your own. Post in your notes & tag some friends to keep it going. Don't forget to tag the person who tagged you so that he/she will know you've completed your list :)

Karen Brauer

2. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother and father's middle names)
Juanita Glenn

3. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother's dad, father's dad)
Ralph Rupert

4. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name)

5. DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Purple Dog

6. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, county where you were born)
Lynne Hampton

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd fave color, fave drink, add "THE" to the beginning)
The Blue Chai

8. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name)

9. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pet's name, current street)
Chip Morrow

10. PORN NAME: (1st pet, street you grew up on)
Freckles Tejon

11. YOUR GANSTA NAME: (first 3 letters of your real name plus izzie)

12. YOUR IRAQI NAME: (2nd letter of your first name, 3rd letter of your last name, first two letters of your middle name, last two letters of your first name and then last three letters of your last name)

13. YOUR GOTH NAME: (black and the name of one of your pets)
Black Gandalf

14. STRIPPER NAME: (name of your fave perfume, fave candy)
Tabu Extra Dark Chocolate

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Rave of the Day for February 7, 2009: 

Added some material to my Inspirations site, specifically the page with prayers and quotes about peace....


Have had long-standing plans to add a lot more things, but I never seem to get around to it. Perhaps after I've filed my taxes, and worked on my scrapbooks, and written some reviews for But You Don't Look Sick, and finished the movie reviews I started in April, and, and....

Friday, February 06, 2009

Bonus Rave of the Day for February 6, 2009: 

This was originally posted on the Fibrohugs message forum. I got the link from their newsletter....

Women in Pain Bill of Rights

I would like to think medicine has evolved past the point of gender discrimination, but unfortunately it has and still does happen to me. I have seen a marked difference in the way Dan's pain is treated and mine. If I stand up for myself, I am seen as a "difficult" patient, but if I just put up with being ignored, it is assumed that I must not hurt that bad after all. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Rave of the Day for February 6, 2009: 

Found this interesting article via the Fibrohugs newsletter. It basically confirms that chronic sleep disorders can lead to other health problems and vice versa....

Inflammation May Play Role in Sleep Duration

I unfortunately can confirm this finding through personal experience. My C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation) levels have been elevated since 1998, a year after I first got sick and the sleep problems started. I am also now diabetic.

High school meme.... 

One I've not seen before.... Fill this out about your SENIOR year of high school! The longer ago it was, the more fun the answers will be!!

1. Did you date someone from your school?
Typical high school situation - I like someone, they like someone else. And I foolishly turned down a date request from someone who liked me.

2. Did you marry someone from your high school?

3. Did you car pool to school?
Had to take the bus.

4. What kind of car did you have?
Had no car until I was 21.

5. What kind of car do you have now?
A Saturn SL2.

6. It's Friday night...where are you? (then)
Probably at my dad's since he had weekend custody.

7. It is Friday night...where are you? (now)
Watching "Monk" with my husband.

8. What kind of job did you have in high school?
Worked at my family's old fashioned photography studio.

9. What kind of job do you do now?
Can no longer work.

10. Were you a party animal?
I wasn't invited to parties because everyone assumed I wouldn't go. They were wrong.

11. Were you considered a flirt?
No, I was considered one of the guys.

12. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir?
Nope. No musical talent.

13. Were you a nerd?
I prefer the term geek, lol

14. Did you get suspended or expelled?
I was a law-abiding citizen, lol

15. Can you sing the fight song?
I know the tune and remember about half the lyrics.

16. Who was/were your favorite teacher?
Mr. Cooter. He was convinced I was a great actor/debater or something of that sort. I wasn't great, but I sure had fun trying.

17. Where did you sit during lunch?
Near the jukebox.

18. What was your school's full name?
Mapleton High School.

19. When did you graduate?

20. What was your school mascot?
Freddie the Falcon.

21. If you could go back and do it again, would you?
Only if I could know then what I know now.

22. Did you have fun at Prom?
What prom?

23. Do you still talk to the person you went to Prom with?
Nobody asked me.

24. Are you planning on going to your next reunion?
I would love to but will probably be stuck in South Dakota.

25. Do you still talk to people from school?
Since joining facebook yes.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Rest in peace, Uncle Jack.... 

Found out today in a letter that my Uncle Jack has passed away. He was the husband of my mom's much older sister. Jack died in Little Rock, Arkansas on January 23rd of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) at the age of 86.

I am a bit surprised; I knew he wasn't well but had no idea the seriousness of his condition. I had sat down less than an hour before the mail arrived to write to my aunt and inquire about his health. I had meant to do so right after the holidays and wish that I had.

My uncle served in World War II with the Arkansas National Guard as part of an evac hospital. He was a manager of office services for the local VA hospital for 35 years. He was buried with military honors.

He, like most of the rest of my mom's family, was very active in the Baptist church. He served as a deacon among other things. He lived in Arkansas all his life (not counting his time in the military).

He and my aunt Dorothy celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary last July. I honestly don't know what my aunt is going to do without him. How does one cope with the death of a spouse after having been married that many years?

Jack and Dorothy had five children. Jack, Jr. died in infancy. The other four grew up to be wonderful people with children of their own. Uncle Jack also had three great-grandchildren.

Uncle Jack could be pretty funny. I remember my sister when she was very young used to pester him with questions all the time, like asking him where he was going. He would say, "I'm going crazy, want to come with me?" My sister, thinking "crazy" was a place and not a state of mind, would eagerly agree to go with him.

My uncle was a diabetic long before the more modern treatments were available, but he managed to keep it under control. No mean feat considering that Aunt Dorothy was an excellent cook, heh heh. Hard to eat in moderation when you're surrounded with fried chicken, fried okra and two kinds of pie for dessert.

Uncle Jack was not a flashy man, but the one non-conservative thing about him is that he always had nice large cars, usually Buicks or Oldsmobiles. He kept them in excellent condition, the exception being the time he accidentally left one out of gear when he was going fishing and it rolled into the lake! That car was brand new and was a total loss.

Jack and Dorothy had the traditional marriage with the traditional roles. He worked hard and was able to earn enough to provide a good life for his family, and she stayed at home with the kids and never even learned how to drive. He would take her to church and to get her hair done and visit with relatives.

I wish I had had the opportunity to attend his funeral. But Aunt Dorothy sent me a program from the service and a photo of the two of them taken at Christmas, which I will treasure. It is rather sobering to realize that my aunt is now the only relative still alive who remembers my grandfather (he died in 1944).

I will take some time tomorrow to go through my old family scrapbooks. I will also renew my effort to work on a scrapbook I had planned for all the stuff Aunt Dorothy has sent me since my mom died in 1997. The first time I tried working on it we got an offer on our house in Denver; the second time was when the basement flooded and I had to have the scrapbook workspace rebuilt.

I am sad about the loss of my uncle, but am comforted by the fact that he had a long life with lots of memories to cherish.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Explaining my absence.... 

I know, I know. I haven't done a REAL post in a ridiculously long time. But I have an actual excuse for not blogging the past several days.

As I probably mentioned somewhere, I had a particularly nasty annual post-holiday flare. Last Monday, my six-day migraine was finally letting up, and I thought I'd be returning to what passes as normal for me. But then on Tuesday, the migraine was suddenly back, and it was cranked up to 11.

When the nausea kicked in during the afternoon, I attributed it to the migraine and thought nothing of it. But the vomiting just wouldn't stop. And when the diarrhea kicked in and wouldn't stop either, I knew something else entirely was going on.

By Wednesday morning, I was already dehydrated and feared that if I didn't get to my primary care doc and put a stop to this, I'd end up in the ER. So poor Dan had to take an unpaid day off from work and drive me because I could barely even stand up. Found out at the doc's office that I had a fever of 101F.

The doc sent me to the hospital to get IV anti-nausea meds and fluids. Spent a couple of hours doing that. Still felt like death warmed over, but at least I wasn't going to faint anymore, and I was eager to get home and rest.

But the hospital had mistaken my personal wheelchair for one of their own and had sent it to the reception area with all the others. This was despite the fact that my chair had my name on the side of it! By the time I realized what they had done, my chair had disappeared, probably used to transport another patient, and was lost somewhere amongst the half dozen buildings that make up the hospital.

So I had to use one of the hospital's wheelchairs to get me to the car and hope like hell they found mine eventually. They said they'd call as soon as they located it. Well, of course I've heard nothing since.

Did eventually get home, and after Dan made three trips to the pharmacy, he brought me the powdered aspartame-free Jello I'd requested. It's an old trick I learned from childhood: dissolve the powder in a cup of boiling water and then drink it while it's still warm. For some reason, it soothes my stomach when I can't keep any other food down.

But I continued to have trouble and had to resort further anti-nausea meds and Imodium. They worked, but my insides were in horrible pain for the rest of that day and well into the next. And I was incredibly weak.

Since then, I have tried my best to recover, but it has been extremely slow going. My stomach is still problematic and requires at least a partially liquid diet. I don't think I'm going to be over this for a few more days yet.

Oh, and Dan got the same virus on Thursday night. He missed another day of work on Friday. But he's already much more recovered than I.

And now I'm too wiped out to add anything more. Maybe later.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

"25 Things" meme.... 

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. Here goes mine:

1. Since I had to put Chip D. Dog to sleep in October, I have heard and felt signs of him hanging around my house, like a thump on the floor next to the bed where he used to sleep, a sigh when I accidentally dropped his fave food in the kitchen, the sound of light footfalls near where his food dish used to be. I find it comforting.

2. I have above my computer a framed photo of sunset over Anna Maria Island in Florida. Next to that, a pic of the back of my husband with his arms around two wooden naked statues in Hawaii.

3. I spent Fourth of July last year watching lightning bugs in the front yard and the neighbors' illegal fireworks.

4. I'm not a good dancer, and I no longer am physically able to dance to an entire song, but I do the occasional Beyonce move when no one's looking. I also do a brief happy dance when the situation calls for it.

5. I do the word search puzzles that appear in the weekly paper my husband works for. But I can no longer do crypto quizzes. And if it's a puzzle involving numbers, forget it.

6. I try to exercise my brain every day because it's just as important as exercising my body. My fave "workouts" are Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Speaking of Wheel of Fortune, I watched a taping of it in Denver a few years ago.

7. Even though I was a graphic artist, I know next to nothing of a technical nature about computers. I know what's supposed to happen when you hit a certain key or click on the mouse, but have no idea WHY it works. And no clue about what to do when I don't get the expected result.

8. I don't think I'm ever going to feel like I belong in Sioux Falls. I am way too liberal and am uncomfortable living someplace where every single letter to the editor in the local newspaper quotes the Bible as if no other religion existed in the world. I miss seeing actual non-white people on a regular basis. I don't farm, I don't own livestock, I don't hunt, I don't have an ATV in my front yard, and while I have no problem with everyone who does, there just aren't many kindred spirits for me here.

9. I do enjoy some things about Sioux Falls, the main ones being the low crime rate, the low cost of living, and pleasant spring and fall seasons. There are lots of parks here, and the falls for which the city is named are pretty. I like the sculptures downtown that change annually. And people here have generally been very nice to me as long as I don't mention Obama or non-Christians.

10. Despite my extremely liberal approach to religion, I do pray and do believe there is an entity at the receiving end of those prayers. I also believe prayers can have miraculous consequences.

11. While in college, I became friends with several people who like me had not joined a sorority or fraternity. The Greeks called us GDIs (God-Damned Independents), but we called ourselves Zoners, as in the Twilight Zone (zoner also being a slang term for intoxicated). We partied to excess, something new to me at that time. Not all of us partook of mind-altering substances, but we did spend more time socializing than studying. As soon as I saw my grade point average dropping, though, I adapted a more moderate lifestyle because I could not afford to lose my scholarships. Most of the rest of the Zoners dropped out.

12. Even though I am an aunt now, I am still scared to death to hold a baby. I always think I will drop them or not hold their head up right or something.

13. I once worked for an International House of Pancakes that had cockroaches. I took the job because I had no car and needed a paying job within walking distance of my non-paying college internship. That IHOP thankfully was closed a few years later and replaced with a Japanese restaurant.

14. I just finished reading "Twilight" (and saw the movie last week). I miss books intended for grown-ups, but due to cognitive dysfunction, I can't get through many of them. After trying many times about three years ago to read a book about Katharine Hepburn's influence on feminism, I realized I would have to switch to simpler material. I now mostly alternate between books on health, young adult fiction and autobiography.

15. I invented my own clothing fashion rules while in high school, and they haven't changed. I still wear mainly black, white, red, pink, purple, blue or gray. Mostly solid colors; the few prints I own tend to be variations of one color or maybe two. I do not tuck in shirts or wear belts on my pants.

16. When I was a kid, I used to go to my grandparents' cabin in the Colorado mountains every weekend during the summer. The elevation was about 10,000 feet, I think, and the views were fantastic. I knew the rock formations like the back of my hand and could scramble up them like a mountain goat. I would pick wild raspberries, hike to the creek, feed chipmunks from my hand and scare the piss out of my cousin and sister making up stories after dark. As an adult, I would drive to the cabin to escape from the city and to take photographs and write poetry. I miss the mountains terribly.

17. I am embarrassed that I don't know all the names of the countries from the former USSR or other countries that formed after I graduated from college.

18. Were I healthy and not deaf in one ear (which permanently affects balance), I would own a motorcycle.

19. Every once in awhile, despite my cognitive dysfunction, I will blurt out something really brilliant that will amaze my husband and even myself. And I will usually have no idea where I got that information.

20. I like food a lot more than I like cooking it.

21. One of the biggest life lessons I have learned (not always by choice) is to do the best I can with whatever I have to work with, and enjoy what I do have. Envying those with more money, better health, better luck, etc. is a waste of precious energy. I think it is important to learn to have a sense of what is enough. So I don't have the newest or best of this or that; most of the time, what I already have is enough. That is not to say I don't aspire to more; it's just that I don't consider myself a failure if I don't reach every goal every time. I cut myself some slack.

22. I for the most part, I am more offended by gratuitous violence than by gratuitous sex.

23. I used to do hip hop aerobics, and I loved it. It was so much fun that it didn't feel like exercise. And the class was so crowded that no one noticed how uncoordinated I was.

24. I have a truly amazing spouse. When I first met him, I was suspicious because he seemed too good to be true. Turns out my expectations prior to him had just been too low, lol. We've been married twelve years, and we still do things like fall asleep holding hands. Thank goodness he appreciates my sense of humor. And even though I haven't the energy to keep up my appearance, he somehow finds me attractive. For the rest of my life I will be grateful I found him.

25. I did not own a television from 1982-1987. Thanks to night jobs, I watched almost no prime time network programming even after I got a TV. Now that I am too disabled to work, I record 12 prime time network shows per week on the DVR. Kinda creepy.

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