Monday, March 31, 2014

Inconsiderate Renters

The house next door to me is rented out, since the previous owner died.  It's not a corner lot, and neither is mine.  But my driveway is about right feet from the property line, so lots of people who stay next door consider my yard and driveway okay to drive through for their convenience.  Motorcycles, cars, and trucks.  Once, even a tow truck coming to repossess a car.  

It tears up the very soft ground and leaves huge muddy ruts.  My driveway is now full of muddy tracks too. I'm damn tired of it.  They're damaging my property on a daily basis, and I'm not a renter -- I'm a homeowner.

Although the part of me that is feeling bullied and harassed would like to toss some nail-studded wood strips out there, or spikes of rebar aimed at their trespassing tires, I can't help thinking that they'd probably respond by slashing my tires if I did it.  Oh, people are fast to scream that I should damage the offenders' property, but they don't have to live here with the worry of retaliation.  I wouldn't put it past some people to poison my dog.  And I have to mow my yard, too, so my own tires would be in danger. 

I tried parking my car in the way, in my own driveway.  They tore through my yard again this morning after I left for work.  It looked even worse this afternoon than it did yesterday.  Okay, so I waited for hours for them to get home, so that I could politely ask them not to vandalize my property.  They didn't come home, so I left a very polite and beseeching  note on their door requesting that they help me by no driving through my yard.  I also drove some five foot garden stakes into a staggered border at the edge of my property to give a visual reminder that I'm serious.

I was considering a staggered border of cinder blocks that I could move when I mowed, but I thankfully came across this picture on the internet that I considered buying, at $100 per corner section.  

My house has long needed some curb appeal, anyway.  I was willing to pay that much to get it quickly assembled and put an end to the problem.  So I asked my brother, the contractor, and he freaked over the price.  He said he would help me build it out of wood for a lot less.  Hopefully, he can help me sometime this week.  I look at it and now I see the simple design he pointed out to me, but I'm clueless about what pieces of wood I would need and the best way to put them all together.

I'm hoping....  I could possibly build it myself, but I'm pretty helpless when it comes to carpentry.  Maybe this will make me brave enough to replace that access door to under my house that has completely rotted away.  

I just want people to stop pushing me around.  I pay a lot of damn money for my house and to have someone damaging my property just gets under my skin.  

I was angry about a lot of things yesterday.  I was pretty much abandoned, alone, in the chapel of the funeral home yesterday without a word they'd be back or even where they were going.  Just a "Come on" to him and walking away like I wasn't even there. And funeral homes really bother me.  Forty minutes later, I had to go searching because my blood sugar was dropping and I needed to leave.  And yet another hour passed before my request to leave was heeded. Yeah, stupid me for not just driving myself, I know. Next time, I will.

Then I came home to a torn up yard again.  It wasn't the first time this girl has done it.  I tried stacking cardboard boxes in the way, but that only lasted until the city finally picked up the trash.  They just don't give a damn if it isn't hurting their own property.  

There are several more things that just kept piling on, with no relief from any of them..

And then I've got someone picking at me over all that is hurting me.  I just never got the impulse that makes the victim feel better by making jokes about her.  So I blew up.  All the anger that I had been pushing down for months turned into full blown rage, and I went off.  My apologies for lashing out when I finally got backed all the way into the corner. I guess I should have just swallowed it all down and gotten a larger ulcer to make everyone amused.  I did give the warning that picking at me doesn't make me happy, and it equates to kicking me when I'm down, but I wasn't being listened to, just placated.  I don't work like that. I've been picked on too much in my life already, and I snapped. 

Now I'm dealing with the hangover affect from all that adrenaline and rage.  I couldn't go to sleep last night.  I was nauseated and anxiety-ridden.  I had a bad headache and a big knot of pain high in my abdomen that made me think it might be an impending heart attack. I felt so bad I decided that even if I was sure it was, I wouldn't go to the hospital. I'd just let go.  I've really had enough.

After a sleepless night, all that anger dropped into acute depression.  It's been getting worse all day.  And I woke up this morning sick with a fever, sore throat, and congestion too.    When I woke up from my coma nap, I was in a very dark place, other than sleeping away all of the daylight hours. Thinking really dark, bleak thoughts again.  Uncontrollable crying.  Don't send the men in white coats to take me into custody. Just leave me alone.  I'll take care of myself the way I've always done.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Hip Situation

I saw my orthopedic surgeon last week so that he could decide if the month of physical therapy had helped my hips.  Well, the first three weeks did, but then someone new overworked me the first day of the last week and I developed a lot of pain.  So the last week I had to take it very easy.  

On the bright side, my range of motion and strength improved. On the darker side, my physical therapist was sadly shaking his head as he heard and felt all the clicking going on in both hips... And both knees.  Ugh.  

To date, I'm still very sore since that fourth week of therapy, but the first three weeks did make me feel better.  Oh well, the PT was just a hopeful try toward smoothing down the frayed cartilage that showed on the MRI.  I wanted to try it before having exploratory surgery.

As my doctor explained it, an MRI doesn't always show the complete picture inside a ball and socket joint such as the hip.  He said it's possible that I do have a large tear that the MRI couldn't image.  It's just the nature of the beast.  *sigh*. So my next step is an X-Ray-guided injection directly into the inside of my hip joint.  It's supposed to hopefully, block the pain.  It might also permanently block all sensation in that leg.  That's why I'm worried about having that done.  I've got a nasty tendency toward that leg collapsing when I can't feel it.  And then I fall, hard, like the giant on the severed beanstalk.

Cortisone injections directly into the joint can cause joint deterioration, so I won't allow it more than once.  He said I will have to keep a very detailed day by day journal on exactly what and where I feel pain and weakness, in order to decide the next steps to take.

If I do have to have surgery, I'll admit that I'm a little scared.  I won't know if it's just a matter of trimming the tear, or stapling the tear back into the bone, or a hip replacement at some point.  I don't want to wake up and be unable to walk, much less run.  

Well... when I do have surgery, there are a few things I'll have to insist upon.  First, that the anesthetist weighs me so that they can get the dosage correct.  Last time they didn't even ask, and I woke up early.  Then I panicked and started fighting the wires and restraints that were attached.  I just remember waking up terrified in a doorway and the nurse being pretty freaked about it too.  What happens if I wake up during surgery and panic?  There wasn't any rational thought there -- just fear.  I suppose I'll tell them what happened.  I will also insist on going to the bathroom a couple of times before surgery.  The nurse just shrugged it off, but that was an embarrassing reality to wake up to. *Sigh* 

Travel Planning

I am still lazily getting ready for my UK trip.  I'm waiting on a couple of travel tops to arrive and seriously considering just taking three or four tops, at the most.  My plan is to do laundry as I go, with overnight-drying fabrics. (Don't worry, the tops were VERY expensive and highly recommended, but I lucked out and caught them on sale. ). I'll probably buy myself a t-shirt or two while I'm there anyway, and it won't hurt to wear them.  I might as well.  

I'll need more room in my bags for souvenirs, anyway.  Undies and raggedy socks will be tossed, and I'll likely only bring three pairs of stretchy pants anyway.  They're lightweight and just plain comfy, but they look a lot like jeans.  All the travel tips say to mix and match a few tops and bottoms, and that's what I'll do.  I'm not worrying about catching any man's eye, anyway, because my fella will be waiting on me at home.  :).  I just want to look classy and comfortable. I might even wear a colorful scarf to dress myself up a bit, who knows?  They say that in Paris, understated is vest in clothing.  Don't look like a tacky tourist.  Well, my feet may mark me in my running shoes, but I've gotta keep them happy.

I did buy a cute little travel curling iron to take, because these days my hair tumbles down below my shoulders and it needs a little curl to perk it up.  I could probably travel just fine with my shoulder bag and my weekend suitcase (it's much smaller than even my small carryon), but I want to gave room for gifts.  I'm going to Ireland, so it's possible I may bring back some Irish whiskey, and I'll need a sturdy bag to check for that.

In case you were wondering, it's better for me to think about planning for my trip than to have an anxiety-filled flurry of packing the night before I go.  And I'd rather have my mind off things that have caused me so much stress and heartbreak lately.  It's simply a pleasant diversion.  When the unexpected happens, I handle it calmly because all of the trivial travel tips living in my brain have already eased the way.  Less to worry about, you see.

I'm looking forward to the food.  :) The Renaissance Heathrow has done that....oh, their food was excellent. :). While I'm still not sold on the idea of black pudding or beans for breakfast, the UK's idea of food is likely the source of the home cooking I've been used to all my life, only better. Hopefully, we'll get to try a lot of different things.  Even if I'm the only one, I'm going to look for Murphy's Ice Cream while we're in Dublin.  I hear that it's quite a treat.  

Currently, I'm researching trivia, as I should have before the Italy trip two years ago.  I completely missed out on the Hannibal references when I was in Florence, and we didn't know at the time that we could have gone to the roof of the Duomo for free.  I'd also forgotten the scenes from A Room With A View that were filmed in that piazza with the replica of David.  Ah, next time I'll do it justice.  :)

Our flight leaving the US for Shannon will be at nearly midnight... And they're going to serve dinner.  So I'm pretty sure that I will be eating an airport dinner at JFK and if I'm still awake, I might eat some of my in-flight meal as a snack.  Yes, I think about these things because my blood sugar drops if I don't eat regularly, and it makes me either anxiety ridden and panicky or increasingly irritable and hard to deal with.  So I tend to plan ahead.  It'll help, with a five hour layover at JFK, to know where interesting shops might be, too.  Yup, I'm geeky like that.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Not a Good Week

Yesterday I found out that an old friend died from a heart attack, age 48.  I cried.  I got a migraine from that.  If there was no other reason in the world to avoid crying, forestalling a migraine would be mine.  

This morning I found out that my cousin died.  She recently discovered she had breast cancer, and it traveled into her lungs.  She was in the hospital for two weeks with pneumonia and lost her fight today.

I'm afraid that deaths really do come in threes and the last will be the worst of all.

Right now I'm just having trouble coping with being conscious.  My head hurts, I'm nauseated, and I'm feeling really anxious on top of feeling like I've caught a chill.  We had an extra fire drill this morning, in the cold wind, which I suspect is bringing a tornado with it later today.  My painting class was cancelled, and I'm taking my friend for her driver's license road test this afternoon.  I left my pineapple-orange juice in the bathroom at home, and the video I was showing my class kept locking up.  Students are being aggravatingly difficult today.  What else is going to happen? 

Everything is going wrong lately, and there's nothing I can do about it except keep my jacket on and hope that I can warm up at some point.  I feel like I have been emotionally beaten over the last 36 hours, and I can't do the one thing I desperately want to do, to erase it all -- get a good night's sleep.  

Please God, give me a break.  My mask is beginning to slip, and I'm not handling things well.

I need to go spend some time someplace quiet, away from my life.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Day 5 - Watching the Shell Game

I didn't do well with juicing today because I didn't have a chance to make any.  I had a Naked Kale Blazer and ate two meals. (Last night I was a little dizzy and I still don't know why.). Still weaning myself off caffeine.  Not much of a headache today.

However, I think this was the day my body decided to do some decluttering.  Yeah, more came out of me than I put in for the last 48 hours.  So.  That's a good thing.  :). Gone.  I lost a few pounds.  I suspect my eliminatory system isn't as effective as it needs to be.  Hm.  Ew.  

The Open House for the art studio went pretty well.  I actually had some family show up and a few friends too. And I knew some other people that came, though I'm pretty sure they weren't there in support of me. Ha ha.  It's ok. I got lots of compliments on my work.  :). Happy happy.

On the way into the building where the Open House was being held, I heard frantic barking suddenly start up.  I was about twenty feet away, but I walked over when I saw a little black nose bouncing up in the window of the Jeep.  I wanted to see the little fella making all that noise.  Poor doggy, locked in a car all alone... (It was a cool day -- not hot at all.)

When I got close to the Jeep, Milo's face popped into view.  Milo is my sister's Shih Tzu.  He recognized me from that distance and was trying to get my attention! I wonder what got his attention?  Was it the sound of my car? He saw me and recognized me?  He recognized my scent from that distance?  Wow.  Whatever it was, I am impressed.  When I got closer he frantically started trying to get through the door while I talked to him.  :). Oh, he remembers me!!  I haven't seen him in over a month, not since they moved away.  :(

I've been left all alone tonight.  I'm wondering if I should be jealous.  :(. Feels like I'm on my own again.

A friend and I had a wonderfully nostalgic conversation about our time playing World of Warcraft.  Oh.... I miss Azeroth.  :(. It got lonely when all my friends left and I had nobody to talk to.  Well, actually some of my friends didn't simply leave.  They did some backstabbing before they went.  I still don't know why.  Maybe it's a character flaw.  You never can tell.  That, and wanting to have a life out in the real world, ended my playing.  But it was a really brain-stimulating game. So much to see and do. I really miss playing.

It hasn't escaped my attention, however, that the "broke" person who claims not to be able to afford to pay me back the $400 they owe me, is taking their significant other on a cruise to Jamaica in two weeks.   Think they will ever pay me back, or just keep crying poor and taking extravagant vacations several times a year? I mean, their last trip was last month, I believe.  And then two months before that. And a month before that.  Yet they can't afford to repay me.  

And I'm supposed to be dumb enough to believe that.  Uh huh.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Luggage Hacking

The "personal item / purse" I've been carrying when I travel is a Thirty-One Retro Metro Weekender.  It's close to being a duffel bag in size, but the empty parts have a lovely way of squishing down to fit under an airplane seat.  :)  It will also double as a nice backrest when I'm sitting on a hard floor in a crowded airport for several hours. I didn't pay full price for it, if course.  I waited for it to become a special and then paid half price.  It's a nice canvas bag with a crazy purple paisley pattern that I adore.

It has five pockets inside, and the rest is a virtual cavern.  That can be great, if you're not trying to keep things organized, or you don't feel like digging around for the item.  I prefer to know exactly where the item is, and put my hands right on it.  

I'll admit I love bags and garments with plenty of pockets and hiding places.  I searched the internet for months and found no websites with suggestions on how to modify or "hack" a purchased piece of luggage.  

Those five pockets weren't quite enough for me. They were fairly small, and the large one gapped open annoyingly with anything heavy inside.  I corrected that problem with a bit of Velcro.

I know, I'm probably asking too much from a humble weekend bag.  Either that, or I would be a fantastic baggage designer.  :) 

Well, I wanted more pockets inside to hold things out of the way. Bigger things, such as the laminated street maps I'm taking with me to the UK.  (I just like having my bearings in an unfamiliar place rather than wandering blindly.  It's comforting.)

I did consider just safety-pinning in some large pockets made from bandannas, but that seemed a bit tacky.  I also realized that down in those deep opaque pockets, I'm bound to lose a lot of things.  I really wanted those pockets to match, and couldn't find anything that would work at the local Wal-Mart.  

Being the only local fabric source, you'd think that ole Wally World would have a less pathetic selection of fabric, but I believe they are only grudgingly supplying fabric and crafts items as it is.  

I considered lace fabric, but there was none to buy.  *sigh*. However, a trip to the laundry basket & clothes hanger section of the store turned up a simple mesh drawstring laundry bag.  You know, if you cut open the seams, something like that becomes a large piece of mesh fabric.  :D. It's lightweight and see-through, so I began sewing panels into the existing seams inside the bag.  Now the bag has several large pockets inside, and I'm a happy girl.  

I'll share pictures later when I'm finished adding pockets, because I have a couple more to add, and they have to be hand-sewn.  Thanks to my mom and my stepmother for what they taught me about sewing.  :). 

My stepmother taught me a bit of hand sewing -- mostly so that I could mark my socks and keep my sister from taking mine, but also so that I could sew on my own buttons.  My mother taught me to use a sewing machine when I was sixteen, and whenever I got a chance, I would sneak and use my stepmother's forbidden sewing machine.  Hey, I was careful!  I don't think she knew what I was doing. 

Isn't that funny? Some teenagers sneak their parents' cigarettes, or their alcohol, or even their cars and jewelry.  I was sneaking the use of a sewing machine.  Ooh, I was such a bad kid.

Actually, I had a Singer beginner's sewing machine somewhere in the house, hidden from me.  My sister and I both were given them when we were very small.  If only I had been allowed to use it, and had a few needles bought for it, I could have indulged my creative side a lot more.  Nobody but my mom really encouraged me to be creative, probably due to my tendency to be messy.  But you know how us creative types are -- we're messy geniuses.  :).  I have a ravenous desire to know how to do so many different things with my hands.  Sometimes I lose interest in things, and sometimes I become a bit manic about indulging my passions.  

So get over it, because it makes me happy.  Someday I may be able to do something more with my skills than just make gifts for people. 

Day 3

I've spent the last two days with my (likely) caffeine-withdrawal-induced headache, and today my taper has included twelve ounces of Pepsi, rather than twenty like yesterday.  I'm still a little achy, but here I sit, sipping my green juice for lunch, and I feel a tiny bit more alive.

It's just difficult for me to want to live and thrive when my head is pounding.  

Part of my strategy this time was including half a pineapple in each batch to help with inflammation in my brain.  Plus, it's a lot easier to drink a kale-based juice when it tastes more like pineapple with a hint of kale.  :). I am a little concerned about what I saw recently about kale's goitrogens, but there's not much room for substitution around here.  

I refuse to drink mustard green juice or turnip green juice.  That was a nasty experiment, and I had to hold my breath and chug it.  I guess I'll have to try romaine.  Maybe when the farmer's market opens this year there will be some options.  

Oh, see there?  I just had a little mental perk-up.  It was almost palpable, to be honest.  I guess some of that green goodness is making the rounds through my bloodstream and into my brain.  Yay! 

It's finally springtime and it's pretty outside, though cool.  The weeds are already taking over my yard and mulch, so I guess I need to find time to get that under control.  And build some raised garden beds.  *sigh*  This I wish I had help for.  Oh wait... I have three Earth Boxes.  I should just use those, right?  But what to do for watering in the backyard, where there is no water spigot whatsoever?   A super-long hose? 

There's so much I need to do to my yard, and it would be best if I tackled it before things really begin growing in earnest and the mosquitoes start attacking me at all hours.  

Oh.  A look out the window tells me I'm already too late.  Lovely.  Maybe I can manage to get one small chore finished each day.  

One day to buy mulch.
One day to tear weeds out before spreading mulch. 
One day to prep Earth Boxes.
One day to find a 100 foot hose.
One day to replace the broken hose bib, hopefully with an all-metal one?!?
One day to pick up the remaining pecans.
One day to dig out monkey grass.
One more day on the monkey grass, because I know I'll be tired.
One day to clean the carport again. 
One day to clean the back porch.
One day to plant herbs.
One day to plant veggies.
One day to plant tomatoes.
One day to cut off that massive broken branch from the juniper.
One day to fence in the underside of the shed.
One day to repair the broken hinge on the shed door.
One day to replace the hatch leading under the house.
One day to replace the dead azaleas.
One day for torrential rain, times 25.
One day to truck the trash pile to the front curb.
One day to have a lovely bonfire of sticks that didn't rot over winter.
One day to replace most of the landscaping lights.
One day to try starting the mower, then failing. I suppose I'd better start now.
One day to clean up my car.

I'm already tired.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Feeding the Beast

Day two of juicing, and that nagging headache from last night has turned into a full-blown migraine.  At least I have enough brain cells left to realize what is happening.  

It's caffeine withdrawal.  I've been drinking Pepsi like it's not being made anymore, sometimes as much as two bottles a day.  I haven't been able to drop into deep sleep for weeks now.

Until last night.  I had no caffeine yesterday, and I felt horrible.  I feel even worse right now, but I slept well.  I turned on the AC to drop the house temperature down to 60 after my first attempt to sleep resulted in a fitful napping state.  

Pepsi makes me gain weight fast, and I have a problem with my limits.  I was much better off when I wasn't drinking it at all, but I can't quit caffeine cold turkey without a considerable amount of pain for about seven days.  I didn't remember to taper off and now I'm paying the price.  I'm going to have to nurse a Pepsi for a few days to feel better.  This addiction is chewing at my brain like a ravenous animal.

Hey, this is my own fault.  Nobody forced me to drink that chemical cocktail again.  I just indulged myself, and then I over indulged myself.  Right now I'm feeling nauseated.  Blech. I think that's the migraine doing its thing, though.  High fructose corn syrup and caffeine -- one nasty combination.

But I have to get up because I told my friend I'd take her for driving practice today. She's a 38 year old Chinese citizen, and getting her license here before going back home to China, because it will save her literally thousands of dollars to transfer a US license to China.  Wow.  Crazy, huh?  Well, she's had some driving practice already, and having seen how hard she studied for the written test, I'm sure she's probably a very careful driver.  The only thing I'm worried about is how badly the glare from the sunlight will hurt me.  :(.   I don't want to be grouchy while she's driving and give her the wrong idea.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Juicing Again, Day 1

Given my weight gain (winter, I blame you), fatigue, and anemia, I'm back to juicing until summer.  Hoping I can lose 20 pounds by then. 

So, I've had about a quart and a half of juice today, green included. And I've got a headache. Yay, transition time.  Today kinda sucks.   

I really did feel better when I was juicing before, but the cold really messed with me.  Blech.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Oh, So YOU'RE the expert?

On Thursday I had a biometric screening done to keep my insurance happy and to keep my slightly-lower than usual health insurance plan.  Let me preface this by saying I believe the only reason they accepted me is that I'm a nonsmoker.  Actually, I'm allergic to cigarette smoke, a fact which has never kept anyone I know from smoking when I'm trapped in a confined space with them.  Gotta love it when their rights to smoke are more important than my right to clean air.  

I'm also allergic to eggplant, as it turns out, and I realize now I always have been.  I've always had the same mouth pain whenever I've eaten it, though I've never had an allergy test.  It's too bad.  I love Eggplant Parmesan.  *sigh* it could have been worse.  I could have had an allergy to chocolate.  That would be tragic.  Still, having said that I am allergic to eggplant, it wouldn't surprise me that certain people will try to trick me into eating it "just to see if I'm making it up" like they do with their smoking. 

Food allergies are unpredictable things, though.  You never know when someone's allergy, that typically just causes mouth pain or a mild rash, can suddenly turn into a case of anaphylaxis and obstructed breathing.  

Smoke causes me sinus pain, headaches, and difficulty breathing.  But gosh, I might just be pretending that it completely irritates my respiratory tract, just because I want to deny them their rightful pleasure to poison themselves and then whine about the complications later not being their fault.  One word: wrinkles.  Smokers have prune mouth, and I don't.  Non-smokers don't wrinkle and dry out at the accelerated speed that smokers do.  Surely an appeal to their vanity might work.  No?

I think I might also have a problem with gluten.  My belly swells, I have sharp abdominal pains,  I get a migraines, and all the IBS symptoms that made a nurse-practitioner proclaim I have IBS. 

Except for one snag in that diagnosis. The medication she prescribed didn't help with the pain.  And I didn't have any digestive problems when I went on a juice fast for three months over the summer.  My tummy was a very happy camper.  Even my periods were less stomach-churning, so I didn't have the stomach issues, though the rest of the misery was still mine to deal with.

The last time they did a biometric screening for me a couple of years ago, the first thing they did was weigh me and subtract FOURTEEN pounds when they wrote it on my records.  Why? I don't know.  Maybe it was to make it look like I'd gained weight the next time.  I don't believe I ever wear so much as four pounds of clothes anyway.  Even at the gym, I feel slightly guilty taking two pounds off my weight to account for gym shoes and workout clothes.  I only allow myself two, and I feel like that's an exaggeration.  And yes, I am extremely focused on my weight, no matter what I'm doing.  

In short, I'm obsessed with my weight, possibly because so many other people make criticizing my weight their business, when I don't say boo in return.   I can't say that I have a specific eating disorder that regularly alters my eating patterns, but the first thing I think about when someone criticizes my weight,  my size, or my exercise habits, is "I should just stop eating for a while." Yes, it's an extreme thought, but sudden acute depression can add a surprising amount of force to your convictions. Where one binges, another deliberately starves.  I don't make myself vomit, but I lose my appetite for weeks on end and that's counterproductive to making myself thin enough for others to approve of. 

Yeah, they can bite me.  When I'm thinner, they just find something else to criticize, because they can't be happy with themselves unless they're putting someone else down.  It's stupid, but hey, at least I understand how that works and it limits my suffering from it just a bit.  It's hard to completely insulate yourself from a jerk, though.

So they measured my weight, which is up ten pounds from when I stopped my juice fast in the fall.  (Cold and flu season isn't the best time to juice fast, especially when you're feeling cold all the time.)  I haven't been exercising enough, because I've been very fatigued lately.  First, I caught a cold, then I had a couple of rough months with my period, and then I was so worn out from the resultant anemia that I'm having trouble staying conscious most days.  I need a lot of naps lately.  Looks like it's time to start playing with my hormone levels again.  *sigh* Letting Nature do the deciding is a pretty bad thing for this woman.  Mother Nature obviously has a vendetta over me not reproducing.  

They also checked my height, apologizing that they can't record partial inches in my record.  So now I'm officially over 5'5" and I find that pretty amusing.  Oh, my waist is too big!  She didn't ask if there might be a reason, such as.... Upset stomach, time for my period and about ten pounds of water my belly region bloats with at that time. I have a feeling the point was to blame me, not assess a reasonable cause for the swelling.  She also didn't ask if I'm pregnant.  For all she knows, I could be.  That tends to make a belly a bit bigger.  

My blood pressure was excellent. My bad cholesterol was excellent.  My good cholesterol was low.  (No mention was made of my anemia which should have been obvious...) Time for the freak out....  My triglycerides were 274.  "Good" is under 150.  So I explained to her just how good my 274 actually is.  The last time they checked it, it was over 650.  Six months later when my doctor checked it, it was 350.  and now it's 274.  Yes, I know that is still too high, but it takes time to lower that and it is obviously on a downward trend.  Not good enough for her, so she lashed into me about my BMI.  It's too high.  Well, of course.  Even if I was skinny, my breasts would keep that a bit too high.  So she said, "You're obese!"  Well, thanks for sparing my feelings, honey.  I'll just go cry on Arnold Schwartzeneggar's shoulder, because he's obese too, by your rather bogus tool.  

Understand this: all humans are not identical, therefore, all body improvement attempts will not work identically on each person.  Some things don't work on some people.  Some people have genetic predispositions toward certain problems or advantages.  We are not all the same.  Diet drugs don't even work on me, and I've tried a fair few.  

I still want to be 50 pounds lighter than I currently am.  I've only found two things that were effective to help me get there.  Pills didn't work.  Fad diets didn't work.  Three hours of strenuous exercise daily didn't work.  (Running and juicing work for me.)

So I told her that I lost 20 pounds over the summer by juicing.  *Gasp!* The horror!  She said that was A VERY BAD THING TO DO!  Other than possibly not getting enough protein, I was eating a low-fat, vegetarian diet based more on vegetables than fruits.  I was suddenly getting a variety of colorful, raw, fresh vegetables in my diet that I normally just don't eat at all.  I was getting a variety of fruits that satisfied my cravings for sugar.  My blood sugar levels were consistent all day.  I lost 20 pounds.   I had TONS of energy and I was cheerful a lot more than usual.  I felt great, inside and out.  My hair looked good.  My skin even looked healthy.  I was lighter and leaner as well.  I was having no trouble running three miles plus every other day.  I was optimistic most of the time.  

She told me juicing was bad for me and I should get The Flat Belly Diet book to solve all my problems. Because it worked for her.  Honestly? She looked about 65, short, and dumpy.  She didn't look to me like she had a flat belly.  She was pretty round.  She also told me I have to exercise.  I told her I run, and I've been running for a few years now.  I also lift weights. She told me to stop running IMMEDIATELY and FOREVER.  Running is BAD for you.  Why? Because she claims she used to run and it hurt her knees, and *I* am too overweight to run.  I should never do more than a brisk walk.  (Ah, insurance company coaching is setting me up for weight loss failure, do you see that? They want to get me off the discounted list.  Was it the $8000 MRI of my hips?  Lol. Wait till they have to pay for my double hip replacement.)

Bitch, please.  You just lost all your credibility with me there.  My orthopedic surgeon says I can run if it doesn't hurt me, and if it does, it's his job to help me figure out why.  And fix it.  (He said that if running makes me happy, then I should run if it doesn't hurt me, because running alone doesn't cause knee problems or all adults would have problems because they ran as children.  Running makes you stronger.  It strengthens bones.  Running the wrong way is what hurts.  Bad shoes hurt. ) I believe being overweight and sedentary is probably worse for my joints than running.  It's not like I'm a beast runner anyway,  I can't be.  My dream of running a marathon someday may not be possible.  

The whole time I was telling her about my usual routine of weightlifting, running, and elliptical on opposing days she was looking at me skeptically, with an expression that said, "The only running you do is to the kitchen for a box of Twinkies."   I think the last time I had a Twinkie was around 12 years ago, and they didn't taste as good to me then as they did when I was a kid, by the way. What's the point of eating something that doesn't even taste good?  I don't. 

She just ignored the positive things that I do, and talked to me like I need a crane to get me out of my house.  Then she asked if anyone in my family has high cholesterol.  Uh, yeah, a couple so far, in my tiny family.  That we know of.  They don't often routinely test the kids for high cholesterol, do they?  And when you can't afford health insurance, that kind of checkup just doesn't happen.

Here's the part that really made me disregard her intelligence.  She got this threatening attitude and told me that as "we" women get older, our metabolism slows and it becomes difficult to lose weight.  The years leading to menopause can really slow down a woman's metabolism.  Oh gee, really? And do you think insulin resistance messes it up too, maybe?  Hmm?  

I stopped short of telling her that I'm already in hot flash hell, because I knew she would just contradict me and say that I'm too young.  I know she didn't check my age.  She didn't ask if I had children.  She basically judged my entire health picture by a measuring tape and one drop of blood.  And did it all with a condescending know it all attitude.  Obviously, she doesn't know it all, or even more than how to nag and put a drop of blood into a machine.  She just parrots what they tell her to say.  And in a pseudo-kindly way.  I didn't want any more conversation with her.  I was starting to feel hostile toward her and just wanted to get back out into the bright sunshine.

So I went and told out PE teachers what she said.  :D. They got angry.  It was funny.  Lol. 

I had already decided that when it warms up, before I go on my trip in the summer, I was going to start juicing again and see if I could lose a few more pounds.  I miss having energy and being unaffected by sugar cravings.  I'm not getting sufficient nutrition from my food, and I'm starting to have digestive issues once again.  I just need to get the kitchen prepared for it, and get going.  I already know I'll be pretty successful with it.  

And the next time I have to have a stupid biometric screening, I'm going to juice for a month beforehand.  That should shut them the heck up.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Redneck Car Wash

After five days of waiting for the ice to begin melting, I went out to my car to realize where the birds have been hanging out.  The driver's side rearview mirror of my car.

I know all the kittens have been lounging on the hood of my car, because there are hundreds on tiny paw prints all over it.  Yesterday I went outside to see they were obviously soaking up all the hood warmth they could, before I left for my hair appointment.  They had a pleading look in their eyes.    

Now don't start with a lecture about the kittens being outside.  They aren't mine.  Their mother isn't mine, either.  She was abandoned, and I've been feeding her.... And them.... And every mangy neighborhood cat and raccoon who knows where to look.  I guess St. Francis blessed me when I visited his tomb, I don't know.  Either that, or he spotted a sucker.  

For the record, I made the kittens and their mother an insulated house with warm bedding.  I have a lamp shining on their favorite chair, full of bedding, to keep them warm.  I left cardboard boxes on the carport for them as well.  I've tried getting them to "pet-able-ness" for months, but they are just feral.  If  they hadn't stayed so wild and unfriendly, I would have brought them in the house.

So... I tried, and don't call the cops on me.  I still try.  I even bought a box of cat treats to get them to trust me.  

Back to my point.  The birds have been using my mirror as a perch, and pooping all down the door as a thank you.  Yuck.  It's too cold and wet out there still to whip out the hose for a car wash.  

I noticed the edge of the roof is dripping with the force of a rainstorm, so I strategically parked the poopy area under the biggest drippy area I could reach.  It's washing off the caked on birdie poop now.  As we speak! And I'm conserving water, too.  :). Though right now that's hardly a concern as several local rivers are at flood stage.  As long as the Mississippi River can handle all the runoff, it should be ok, anyhow.  

There it is: the redneck car wash.  Free and making use of the bounty of ice Mother Nature granted us this week.  (Note, through all the dripping, my yard is still blanketed in white.  The first few nights, it looked festooned in sparkling glitter.  Today, it's reflecting the sunshine gloriously and glaringly.)

Oh, but you know, looking at all the icy snow piles on street corners made me want to carve them into sculptures.  I just don't know how I would explain it to the local police when they were called to check out the crazy white woman flashing knives at a pile of snow down by the skating rink.  Yeah, that wouldn't be tough to explain at ALL, would it?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Grandaddy's Ladder

I never knew my grandfather -- he did years before I was born.  But I have something of his -- his wooden ladder.  It's been on an extended loan to me for a long tone.  

It's just a standard household ladder - not quite tall enough for climbing onto the roof, and it has become very rickety with age.  The wood has dried, the joints have loosened.

My father gets angry that I don't use it, but to be honest, I'm not sure it'll hold my weight.  I have a horrible premonition of the wood cracking and the ladder disintegrating with me on it, every time I touch it.  So it has been retired all these years as a useless family relic of the past.  It's taking up space because I am to store forever all things that make someone else nostalgic.  

I got in trouble when I put my grandmother's 1960s broken end tables out on the curb.  I was supposed to feature them in my living room forever, but they fell apart on me.  Similarly, I was taken to task over not wanting to hang onto an old canister vacuum that no longer worked. I won those battles, but the ladder I still have.

Recently I've seen mention of turning old ladders into painting easels. Hey, if I did that, I could paint larger canvases at home, or even... Make a whiteboard easel to use in my classroom.  I've been without a whiteboard or chalkboard in my classroom for six years because there are built-in workstations topped with permanent bookshelves -- the walls are inaccessible for normal usage of whiteboards by nature of the room itself.  And yes, of COURSE that has cost me points on my evaluations for not utilizing my whiteboard! ...though there was no whiteboard provided at all and there would be no way to reach it without standing on desktops to use it. (Not fair, but there it is.)

Fortunately, Lowes sells sheets of whiteboard that I can use, as long as I take them down off the bookshelf every time I need to do that.  No spontaneity in that, lemme tell you.  

So I'm thinking about converting the ladder to a whiteboard easel, and turning a useless hand-me-down into something useful once more. I think my grandfather would like that.  :) 

Maybe my dad will too.  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Things I Learned in Europe

Currently still iced into my house and becoming a little stir crazy... My left foot is starting to seem rather tasty ... Tomorrow will be the third day this week with no school and there's nothing that will get the inches of ice off the roads except for a very warm day....

I took a trip to Italy in 2012 and realized some interesting differences while I traveled across Spain, Italy, and London.  (We accidentally spent the night in London... Or not so accidentally if you want to blame British Airways.) 

1.  Spaniards like hot planes. The Iberia flight to Madrid was hot, and STILL the girl next to me covered up in a blanket the whole flight.  I'm mad at her.  She stole the aisle seat I had reserved, just to sleep and block me from getting up when I needed to.  Next time I will pretend I don't speak any Spanish and I'll play stupid.  

2.  Being able to go into an airport bathroom and freshen up because you didn't hand over everything to the airline (which lost other people's luggage for five days) is priceless and wonderful.  At the very least, don't hand over your toiletry kit to them. Use a Wisp on the plane.  Truuuuust me!

3. Taking an anytime, non-refrigerated, non-salty snack on your flight is a wonderful idea.  You never know when they'll serve food, what they'll serve, or when you will actually get hungry.  

4.  In Europe, chocolate is made without paraffin (American chocolate is full of it.) It has a much lower melting point, but it tastes so much better.

5.  If you're changing planes at the Madrid airport, they won't make you take off your shoes for x-raying right after you walk off the tarmac.  They said, "That won't be necessary.  This isn't the United States." Haha. It was funny, but a relief, because our plan was being held at the other end of the airport and we needed to save every minute.  We didn't even have time for a bathroom stop, which I needed but wasn't willing to risk missing my flight over.

6.  If you're quick, you can walk onto your plane and walk RIGHT to the back lavatory and use it, before anyone has a chance to tell you no.  :). While everyone else is juggling their luggage into the compartments, nobody is interested in the bathroom.  

7.  Bring diuretics and cold medicine with you, even in July.  Wear compression socks on the plane, too.  You may get a horrible case of cankles the likes of which you have never seen on yourself before.  They itch.  They kinda hurt.  Only putting your feet up on the wall over your head will help. And that's difficult to do on a tour bus.  As a matter of fact, I recommend restricting your sodium intake for about a week before you fly. Pseudoephedrine is hard to find in even the best hotel gift shop.  (There was a lovely one in the Renaissance Heathrow Hotel, with a kind Pakistani man working the counter.) If you are trapped in line for four hours, say, at the British Airways counter, immigration officials will not allow you to check any shops for medications that will help when your swollen sinuses.  (There was a Turkish man who said he had been there for 24 hours already.  He eventually started yelling that he wanted them to call his embassy -- he'd been cool up until that point.)

8.  Don't wait too long for your missing checked luggage.  It won't do any good, you'll miss one of the cities on your itinerary, and the tour guide won't be happy with you.  Why are you checking luggage when you have to change planes, anyway? That's a recipe for lost luggage.  

9.  Walking in Venice on a July day is like walking into a stone pizza oven. Buy water to drink.  Lots of water. Keep an empty water bottle on you in case you encounter a drinking fountain. Bring sunblock. Wear a wide-brimmed hat.  Wear good sunglasses.  And by the way, Venice does NOT have an intolerable stench.  It smells like a beach town, because it's cleaned by the tides every night.  (I wouldn't want to swim there, though.). Take your B-12, because Venice is gorgeous and magical... And exhausting to mere mortals.

10.  Soft drinks cost more in Europe, but they are made with sugar, not corn syrup, so they taste much better and don't create a craving for another one.  Canned sodas in machines have a charming foil cover over the rims to keep them clean.  Best Pepsi I've had in years. (Too bad Pepsi Throwback was just a gimmick.  They should have kept it on the market.)

11.  Europeans eat pizza with a knife and fork, and think we are pigs for eating it with our hands. Oh well.... Lol. Olive oil is a pizza topping, and it makes even a cheese pizza heavenly.  Pepperoni is not the same thing in Italy, and restauranteurs will be insulted if you request Parmesan cheese to put on their pizza.  This ain't a Dominos kind of pizza country.  Trust them... The plainest Italian pizza is miles ahead of American fast food pizza.

12.  If you see a gelato shop, remember, there's ALWAYS room for gelato.  I regret not eating more gelato while we were there.  Lol. And Caprese sandwiches. Mmmmm! If the meat on a sandwich looks questionable, Caprese is a great fall-back.   Seriously, I wish I'd eaten more gelato and tried more adventurous flavors.  I'm sure the sugar would have given me the energy I needed.  

13.  The fruit is better in Italy than it is in the US.  It doesn't have to travel as far when it's in season.  Luscious, yummy, fresh fruit.  I do wish we had visited the market in Rome.  I probably would have eaten more local fruit.  Lesson learned. :)

14.  Don't be afraid to buy liquid souvenirs (I bought Italian strawberry wine) if you can wrap them safely in your luggage.  You will have to check that bag, but do you really want to carry a bag heavy with liquids through airports yourself on the way home, when you're tired?  Nah.   I wrapped my dirty clothes around the bottles, then secured it with the crochet thread I had brought along for making shopping bags when I was bored on the bus, in the airport....  Next time I'm taking inflatable water wings.  You can take sheets of bubble wrap too, if you have the space.  (Was required to check that bag, containing big bottles of liquid, and British Airways lost it on the way home... But it showed up a couple of days later.)

15.  Just because you can't sleep a wink the night before your flight for fear of oversleeping, it doesn't mean you'll be able to sleep on the flight over the Atlantic.  But you'll sleep upright on that two hour bus ride to your hotel... 

16.  Hotel room keys in Italy are usually turned in at the desk upon leaving each day because they have a two pound fob on them to discourage taking them off the property.  Yikes. But they typically have a real key attached rather than a faulty electronic card.  Hotel elevators in Italy are claustrophobically tiny.  

17. Hotel bathrooms are often crazy tiny, with shower openings even smaller.  O.O  Soap up your hips! Give up perfectly smooth legs!  The bathroom plumbing may be strange to you.  Ask around, if you don't understand it.  You can always call housekeeping and explain your ignorance by telling them you're an American.  LOL 

18.  With so much walking to do each day, I always ate a big breakfast, and it never interfered with lunch.  Believe me, I burned off my eggs, raisin bran, yogurt, coffee, juice, and bread. Sometimes I just flat out sweated it off, because it was July in the Mediterranean, too.  :)

19.  An iPhone in airplane mode will still accurately geotag photos you take with it. :D Pure awesomeness!  Take a good backup battery with you for your smartphone so it doesn't die while it is living its life as a camera.  Figure out a way to turn your iPhone case into a case with a lanyard.  (I used a ponytail holder looped through the hole.) It alleviated a lot of pickpocket / loss worries for me when it was dangling inside my shirt.

20.  Don't tell them you're an American and then think they'll jump to do your bidding.  It sounds arrogant and bullying, and it doesn't matter one bit that you're American.  A lot of Europeans have bad opinions about Americans as it is.  Be oh-so-polite and accommodating at all times, and never forget that you are a guest in their country.  Smile. :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Snowmageddon 2014

Yesterday was a dark and dreary day.  I woke to rain.... Lots of rain.  I remember thinking that the winter storm warning was bogus.  "Well, there goes THAT, because if it's raining, it's too warm for frozen precipitation."  

I mean, really, in two weeks we have our one week of Spring Break. *Whiiiine... It used to be two weeks....* 

I remember going to Opryland during Spring Break when I was in college, and we spent the day running from shop to shop inside the park, looking for any place with heat. It was COLD that day. Indoor rides were the order of the day and water rides were... Not so appealing. 

As it turned out, it was the last time I would get to go before they closed Opryland forever, to turn the parking lot into a shopping mall.  Because we just flat out NEED more shopping malls, right?  I had big plans back then for taking my nieces and nephews to Opryland during Spring Break while their parents were working.  *sigh*

Opryland was awesome. Then they closed it.  Then Libertyland was closed, and now there is nothing within a four hour drive of here.  Oh well.  I'm too old to be allowed to enjoy childish delights like amusement parks, right?  Darn it, I'm fighting that idea.  There's still Six Flags St. Louis and Holiday World.

I thought Holiday World would be a small-time park.  It's not. It's an INCREDIBLE amusement park, and you get free drinks.  Huge water park within the property, with great big rides. Family owned still, with a cozy family feel.  You should go if you get the chance. Santa Claus, Indiana. Really!

So the rain poured down yesterday, and by three pm the temperature dropped and it started sleeting.  It hadn't stopped sleeting by 1 am, and I was able to scoop up several inches of frozen stuff that would  make perfect sno cones.  Late last night I saw someone running a redneck tow, pushing an SUV up the very slippery street with a pickup truck.  I suppose the SUV driver needed help getting to a third shift job, poor thing.  

Let me repeat: we received several inches of granulated ice in top of rain.  And then we got a light dusting of very powdery snow on top of it all -- the kind that blows up in the wind and impedes visibility.  Basically, a lot of Tennessee is in an official state of emergency declared by our governor, and there is no school today.  I'm betting there will be no school tomorrow, either.  Even our interstate is so covered by thick whiteness that it looks like a country road in the photos I've seen.  The snowplow is apparently hard put to the task.

Snow plow???  I didn't know we had *A* snowplow!!  Honestly, it's a once or twice a year needed vehicle, and that's in a rare year.  But today, the plow, she's a'strugglin'. People are being asked to stay home and even the 24 hour Wal-Mart had to close last night.  Hopefully, it's closed today, though I doubt it is. It's not worth it to risk anyone's life to work today, but I know that a lot of people still had to go in, even though the town is basically shut down.  I have a 4WD vehicle, and I'm keeping my bootie home. ... and I hope no emergencies call me out on the road. If Dad needs me, I will go... But of course I'm roughing it until then.  If I run low on food, I'll just be roughing it.  Hopefully my heat will still work.

It's more of an Icemageddon than Snowmageddon, but it's our little American joke when southern towns freak out over the threat of a little snow and strip stores bare of milk and bread.  What the heck are you gonna make with that, anyway? French Toast? Milk sandwiches? Milksop?

What do snow days say to me, food wise?  Hot tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.  Snow Ice Cream (though sno cones are more appropriate this time). Homemade chili and soup.  Hot, freshly baked homemade bread.  Gooey fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. Hot chocolate.  Ice storm with no power? Canned ravioli.  At least you can eat those cold.  Lol.   

Another yummy treat: A lovely caramel latte. A caveat -- you can't make a tasty latte with almond milk.  Yech! Just -- no. It doesn't work at all.  Kinda chemical tasting. Next time I'll just make coffee with a packet of instant hot chocolate included.

News flash! My street was just visited by THE snow plow!  And... It's snowing again.  Lol. Note: the street doesn't look any different than it did before the blade passed over it. 

To sum up my feelings about the weather: 
I don't want it to be cold but I love the relative quietness outside.
The darkness yesterday was so depressing that today's insane bright-whiteness has me in a much better mood.
It would be great to "get something done" around the house today, but there's not enough time to really make a difference unless I'm off work tomorrow too.  
I saw the sun today and the glare on the icy blanket outside made me feel like a vampire about to burst into flames! Lol
I'm too old, unequipped, and in a poor location for it, but I really want to go sledding.  *sigh*.  *Wistful moment of wishing for childhood again*. I had zero freedom or control over my own life or body, but I knew how to play.  :)