Monday, April 28, 2014

Hip Socket Injection

No adverse effects from the cortisone shot into my hip socket except for one -- My face is as white as a ghost.  O.O

Little chance of any problems - I thrilled the nurse by being 43 and on absolutely NO prescription drugs.  I guess that's unusual? So tell the insurance company to get off my back, eh?  

What did it feel like? A very tiny sting from the local, and weird pressure inside the front of my thigh.  He put the injection into the socket somewhere near the femoral head and neck.  There's a suspicion that my problem is the iliopsoas.   Hey, I don't care, as long as it's treatable.

Maybe this treatment will lead someplace useful.  I know they're shooting in the proverbial dark, not having stuck a camera inside my hip to take a look.  Hopefully that won't be necessary.  My doctor told me he's just trying conservative treatment options in the hope that a less-invasive approach might work.

On the brighter side, I did get to see the end of my right femur and the socket it lives in, along with something that looked like a flap protruding from the socket.  Here there be troublesome torn cartilage that resulted from me trying to keep pace with faster runners and an inadequate warmup.  But how does one warm up the inside of the hip, anyway, without using up the energy for the race.

I'm sad because I currently have no desire to participate in any races.  I'm tired all the time and I've lost so much ground on my training (it seems useless at this point and I'm very discouraged) that exercising is a struggle.  

*sigh*. :(

Sunday, April 27, 2014

OCD Packing Again

Is it OCD if you are just following the Scouting motto "Be Prepared"? Nah, I don't think so either.  After all, my trip is coming up soon and I don't want to be rushed for packing at the last minute.  

Right now I'm enjoying a tasty baby spinach and sun dried tomato salad.  Mmm. I had some fun with my students the other day when I was eating some sun dried tomato halves in the hallway.  They asked what I was eating.  I told them it was hearts. They freaked.  They were very good in class that day. :)

I did make a few packing mistakes the last time I went on a transatlantic trip.  It would be more pleasant not to repeat them -- not that they caused much difficulty that time -- but it would be better to not have to deal with certain minor annoyances. 

The first problem was dealing with a nasty open wound on my back that had me terrified Customs agents or the TSA would prevent me from traveling if they knew.  I'm sure they can do that, but it was only as serious as sunburn blisters.  A lot of sunburn blisters.  Big ones that kept rupturing every time I shifted my shoulders, because it was in the middle of my back, between my shoulder blades. I couldn't reach it on my own.

I had to bring antibiotic cream for that, as well as a long spatula to apply it, gauze pads to cover the area under my shirt (I unfolded it and wore it like a cape to absorb any ickiness), and bandages to stick the "cape" to my shoulders under my clothes.  So this time, no blistering trip to Hilton Head during which I fail to use enough sunblock and stupidly fail to shower the saltwater off my sunburn upon leaving the beach.  At least not before going to Ireland.  I wouldn't have time for it anyway.

The second problem was not organizing my "personal item" bag better.  I used my EF Tours backpack, which was quite a dark cavern inside.  Anytime I needed anything, I had to tumble things around inside to find it.  It needed interior pockets.  My new bag has interior pockets all around the inside, because I added them myself.  It doesn't add any more space, of course; it simply allows me to put things out of the way and be better organized.  It's actually close to being a duffel bag, but it can be cinched smaller when it's not full.  Maybe the flight attendants will mistake it for a purse after I put some of those items in my jacket pockets.

A third problem was waiting until a couple of days before the trip to really get started packing.  Well, I'd just gotten back from Georgia, so I had to repack and wash clothes.  Then I couldn't decide exactly where to put my stuff.  I stayed up all night before leaving on my trip and didn't get a wink of sleep until the hour-long flight to Miami.  Then the cabin pressure messed with my sunburn blisters and I discovered that fluid was incredibly itchy.  Ew. Itching on a place so raw you can't do anything at all to scratch.  It's maddening.  Today I've been making decisions on the most sensible places to stash certain items, so that I don't have to decide later.  I've also started pre-filling stuff I know I'll need: cotton swabs, cotton balls, hairspray. 

This time I'm adding a travel curling iron and travel hair dryer to my suitcase, almost against my will.  I don't want to deal with them, but my hair looked AWFUL in Italy.  Only one of our three hotels provided a hair dryer, and even that didn't help when my hair needed to be curled out of my face.  It wasn't long enough for a ponytail. All the hairpins I had weren't enough.  It's barely long enough on the sides for one now, but I intend to not look tacky the entire trip.

I'm also getting some compression socks, because of the extremely swollen ankles I had for half of the last trip.  My shin compression sleeves were not enough.  Let's face it, I'm that age.  I've got health issues. 

Add to that a couple of pretty silk scarves, and even though I'm not exactly stylish, the scarves will dress up what I'm wearing just a bit.  Last time my clothes looked awful.  I didn't mean for them to, but I looked like I shopped at Wal-Mart, even wearing the clothes that didn't come from there. Lol. No shorts this time. Mine didn't suit me and they weren't comfortable.  I felt like a middle-aged woman trying to look like a young woman again.  Though the shorts were okay for all that heat, they just didn't work otherwise.

I'm not taking my "travel" purse.  It branded me a tourist and was pretty tacky.  I'm just taking a crossbody 31 purse that will better blend in with my clothes, instead of dragging my backpack with me as well.  I won't have to hang it up or let it get in the way of my feet on the bus.  I'll just wear it.  Besides, it's cute. :). 

I am taking some tiny-squish nylon shopping bags with me, though, because I know shopping bags aren't provided in Wales and other places, and I can put a lot of smaller shopping bags inside without danger of fall-through, like my handmade mesh bags had.  I love my mesh bags, but they occasionally break threads (because I use my Mom's vintage crochet thread to make them) and I don't want to deal with repairs on this trip.  I think I'd rather spend time looking out the bus windows this time than staring at a craft project.  :)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Flying John Deere Tackle

At precisely this time last week, I was walking down the aisle at my sister's wedding.  It went well.  That's not what I'm going to write about, other than the time coincidence.

Last Sunday, I decided to mow the lawn.  No big deal.  I had plenty of fuel, I was feeling well (if exhausted from the previous day), and the mower was working decently.  

Until I got off the mower to pick up a plastic food dish that I've been using for the kitties.  I disengaged the blade, waited for it to stop, and then put the mower in neutral.  I was only going to be off for about half a second.  (Don't lecture me about turning off the engine every time I stop.)

And then it popped out of neutral, into first, and took off without me directly toward an 8 inch high patio.  I knew I had to catch it before it hit the patio and destroyed the blade, so I did a flying tackle.  I grabbed for the steering wheel with my left hand when I landed and held it still, fighting the transmission, while I tried frantically to put it back into neutral.  And then that bastard popped into reverse, which is a lot faster than first gear, and came back on me. 


The back of the seat caught me across the ribs, and bruised them pretty badly.  Over the past few days, I've suspected I separated them too, and started worrying that I might have broken one.  I've got a cut in the top of my hand (how??), two huge visible bruises across my abdomen, and some very tender ribs on my right side.  And a huge black bruise on my rear end, exactly opposite the main bruise on the front.  I don't remember any damage to my derrière, really.  I just mowed the yard after all this idiocy. I was probably in a very mild state of shock, because I can't remember all the details of the accident.  I remember flashes of it. 

Breathing has been a trying adventure.  Bending over has been excruciating.  Laughing, coughing, and sneezing? Well, let's just say that they've all been a bit tearful.  

Within an hour of the "adventure", I was hurting.  At first it was just a little soreness, but then came full-fledged pain.  I hurt the rest of the day, but pushed, poked, and pressed (and that was no fun at all) to see if there were any obvious breaks.  I was hurting badly, but not to the extent that I thought anything was broken.  In other words, it felt bearable, but I decided to get x-rays IF I started having worse symptoms.  

Everything I read online (shut up -- I'd feel stupid seeing a doctor over a couple of bruises) ) said that for bruised ribs, the best thing to do is not to tape, wrap, or in any way constrict the ribs.  The best treatment was a lot of lying still, preferably right on the affected side.  Make sure to breathe deeply several times a day, even if it hurt dreadfully, to prevent pneumonia.  

So I did.  Oddly enough, sleeping directly on the bruised side alleviated the soreness while I was doing it, but trying to get out of bed subsequently led to near-screaming.  Oh, owwie!  I avoided squishing my ribs at work and tried to rest at home.  

And Monday, I was more sore. I took a four hour nap after work.

Tuesday, I was even more sore and tender, but I had my oil painting class, and my portrait of Tom awaited.  More on dear Tom's portrait later.

Wednesday, I was so sore and tender I promised myself a doctor visit on Thursday if things weren't improving. I took an hour and a half nap after work and wondered where my life was going if I was turning into Rip Van Winkle. I had an enchilada that night, after having a Dirty Snowman Frappe that afternoon - my first in months.  I felt like a pig.

Thursday I was back to Tuesday levels of pain and still gave a very sore driving lesson to my friend. I took a three hour nap that day.   I ate hummus and woke in the wee hours of the morning with symptoms of appendicitis. (Really! Lower right quadrant could almost NOT be touched.) I made myself go back to sleep and swore I would never buy that brand of hummus again, when I woke up minus 
that pain.

Friday I rolled out of bed without screaming.  And I smiled about it because I could bend over a little easier when I needed to.  No more tears on that, but leaning backward and spreading my ribs a bit was a problem.  

Today my ribs are incredibly tender when I press on them but bending over isn't too bad now.  It seems to be progress.  And on Monday, I'll have the scary x-ray assisted cortisone injection directly into my hip socket.  Or the consultation for it, whichever it may be.  

I'll be missing proctoring the first day of the all-our-lives-and-careers-depend-on-it state mandated standardized tests for this week (But wait, next week there's more!) but if I can walk afterward, maybe I'll just walk into the sushi place and spoil myself a little. Just a meal's worth.  And maybe some for the next day's lunch too.

I'm wondering, should I see if anyplace there in the not-so-big-city sells body armor in my size? You know, so I can do chores like normal people....

Oh, there is a bright spot to this, and I don't mean my day-glo bruises.  I told my dad about my little accident and the fact that my mower has been continuing forward or backward for about four additional feet after I press the brake, and he and my former brother-in-law came over to fix the brakes, which are in the transmission... Which makes me wonder if the mower slipping out of neutral and into first might have been related to the brake problem, somehow, you know, transmission-wise.

41 Thoughts on the New Jo-Ann's Store

Thoughts on learning my town is getting a Jo-Ann's... I was driving by the mall on April 1st, and saw a sign announcing a Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts store arriving in the summer of 2014.  I thought I was hallucinating. If you know me, you know how I feel about making things. :) it's almost a compulsion to make a mark on my world with handmades. And my little drying-up hometown has been steadily stamping out and discouraging all creativity since I moved back fourteen years ago.

1. This is an April Fool's joke... It's April Fool's Day, and there's the sign.  Really, not in my dying little town.
2.  Where are they putting it? The mall?  There are no store spaces big enough to have a decent sized Jo-Ann's. Aww, it's gonna be tiny, and it'll suck, sales will suck, and it'll close in a year.  :(
3.  It's not a joke.  Other people have seen actual construction going on in the mall.  SQUEE!
4.  OMG! It's opening this summer! I'll get to spend all summer making stuff!
5.  I'm going to start sewing again! Gonna make m'self all kinds of cute outfits.
6.  Baby quilts! I'll make baby quilts too!
7. Wait a minute.  I forgot I can't have kids.  
8.  I have to wait for great nieces and great nephews to come along... In ten years or so.  
9.  What will Wal-Mart, with their recently returned abysmal craft and low-quality fabric department, do? Take the creative stuff out completely again? But... But.... No.... Please? 
10.  Please let this store be successful enough to stay open, like, forever.  
11.  Please tell me the mall decided it's better to rent all the spaces for less money than before than gouge existing tenants to the point they can't stay open and have a bunch of empty stores again... For decades.
12.  Holiday decorations... Jo-Ann's has cool holiday decor, because, Halloween!
13.  I may start putting up a Christmas tree after a despairing decade without one.
14.  Two words: teacher discount! 
15.  Workshops! 
16.  No oil painting supplies.  Bummer. I'll step up my acrylic painting when I'm not in class each week.
17.  But jewelry supplies. I can rock that! 
18.  Crap. Where am I going to neatly store all the supplies I'll be compelled to buy to make myself feel whole and complete?  Must learn to organize crafts.
19.  Jo-Ann's... Open on Sundays!  ...But God wants me to create.  That's why He made me creative.  
20.  That doesn't mean I'm going to Hell.  Back off!  Isn't it a sin to squander your God-given gifts?  You're just jealous.
21.  OMG... Craft magazines!!  Wal-Mart can bite me!
22.  Is it a sin to say OMG? What if I really mean Oh My Goodness?
23.  I'm acting like people in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? did when Burger Barn came to town.  Lol. Geeking out. 
24. Yeah, but people always want the geek to help them with their stuff.
25.  Oh... Looking into the glass door where construction is going on... It looks like they're taking at least two store footprints for Jo-Ann's.  Maybe three footprints.   Ohh... Squee!  Hey look, there's a ghost in the picture I took.  Weird. Somebody really WAS fatally injured here? 
26.  Still, fun times this summer! Creating makes me happy!
27.  Store opens... August 29th? I'll have been back at work for a solid month!  Oh no... I feel like I'm gonna die...
28.  Mom would have loved having this store in town.  *sigh*
29.  Christmas ornaments! I'm going to be making a LOT of jeweled Christmas ornaments for my tree! I might even sell them.  You know you want some!  I promise, I don't use pipe cleaners.  Lol
30.  I'm gonna make lace snowflakes too.  Yes, I am.  Because they're gorgeous and people love getting them.  
31.  Can I keep my dog from peeing on my Christmas tree?  I've gotta build a little fence to keep him away.
32.  Cake decorating supplies.  Hahaha. Oh yeah.  I was good at cake decorating back in the day.  I just haven't done it in about ten years. Imma make cakes and cupcakes and give them to other people to make them fat and look thinner myself by comparison.  *evil laugh*
33.  It's a whole neeeeewwwww worrrrrllld...... Oh. That must be why Disney never hired me to sing their soundtrack songs.  
34.  Ooh... Cakes decorated with modeling chocolate.  :) I'm on it.  Already know how.  Took the Craftsy class!  (I'm not going into business or anything, but for personal use -- what fun!)
35.  Crates.  Yeah, I know.  Shut up.  They're freaking useful!
36.  I'm not going to have to drive nearly an hour for EVERYTHING anymore.  *relief* Unless this store gives in to the hometown curse and starts major suckage on stocking.  WE ARE NOT INACCESSIBLE TO PLANES, TRAINS, RIVERBOATS, OR TRUCKS, PEOPLE! There's no excuse for continually bare shelves, Wal-Mart!
37.  Scrapbooking supplies!  Which I'll scan and use in my photo books and then craft with the papers. :D
38.  Cricut supplies! I might actually use mine!  Oh... Appliqué shirts! Yup.  
39.  Sewing patterns.  Oh my... No, I'm not making prom dresses.  I'm not a costumer.  Well, not anymore.  ;)  Once upon a time, there was Laundry and Bourbon, and I was allowed to help.  It made me feel very useful, special, and needed, especially since I was never going to be given an actual speaking part in any Vanguard Theater production and it gave me a chance to hang out with my few friends.  :).   Okay, I still collect costume patterns for myself, hoping for the chance someday to wear those costumes.
40.  Hmm... I could do embroidery, with quality thread.
41.  *Must remember to sleep sometime.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Finishing Book #6

A couple of weeks ago, I came to an unsettling realization...

*** pardon this interruption...  I'm sitting on the couch and suddenly, inexplicably, I'm wheezing for my breath.  No exercise involved.  Totally random.  I'm just having a little trouble breathing right now.  Hey, asthma, I hadn't heard from you in so long I thought you were gone.... ***

Anyway, the realization was this: I'm going on another trip soon, and I'll be once again, taking LOTS of photos.  On my Italy trip, I took about 4000 photos.  When I downloaded them all onto the computer, I realized that putting them in a printed book would be a rather daunting task.  I've put together / created / written five books already.  They are all full of my photos, and every single page created from scratch by yours truly.  I didn't do Shutterfly instant books, because I wanted creative control over every single word and photo, and the automatic templates don't allow for the degree of customization I crave. 

I prefer creating my own backgrounds, when I have time to do so, but otherwise I just need to put a crazy number of pictures on each page.  I created my own page templates and just use clipping masks to arrange and edit the pictures onto the pages.  I used to sell them online, but there came a point when I was expected to spend too much time advertising for the website's growth and really not seeing a return on it in my own sales.  So I quit selling them, but continued to make them whenever I needed a certain look for my page. Now I have quite a stash of them for my own use. :). And nobody telling me that after my full time teaching job, I should be spending the rest of the day making them money.  One too many times I was told that I wasn't making the site enough money, and for my hours of work each week, I was making pennies per hour when all was said and done.  No more pyramid schemes for me, thanks.  I was feeling like a hooker, nagged to get out and make the pimp some more money.  Somebody was on a power trip.

So now I just work for me, and lemme tell ya, I've got enough photos of my own to keep me busy for years to come.  :)

This is what I've learned from creating my own digital scrapbooks:
1.  I'm bad about snapping far too many pictures, because I'm afraid I'll miss the perfect shot and live forever in regret.  
2.  I have a hard time discarding photos that aren't great, because it feels like I'm erasing a memory. I'm too nostalgic.
3.  Although you can make a pretty page featuring just one or two very large photos, most snapshots aren't good enough to warrant enlarging to that size.
4.  You should allow for a half-inch of gutter space all around on a professionally printed book's pages. They sometimes get cut off.
5.  I can shelve five of my professionally printed scrapbooks in the space one traditional scrapbook would need.
6.  I don't like it when glue loosens photos and decorations from traditional scrapbooks and they fall out.
7.  Getting another copy of a Shutterfly book is easy.  Not so with a cut-and-glue traditional scrapbook.
8.  You can't automatically get good results from having a 12x12 book printed as an 8x8 book.  Things get too small sometimes.
9.  Having a stash of page templates (that I created to suit me) makes starting a 4000 picture book less anxiety-inducing.
10.  iPhones geotag photos, even in airplane mode on other continents.  
11.  Facebook will use those geotags and show you a map of exactly where each photo was taken.  So if you wanna go back, or you forgot where you saw the Swiss Guard do a forbidden double-take at a tourist...
12. All those Photoshop templates I created can be modified fairly quickly to vary page layouts.
13.  Captions on top of white-framed photos gives an old-fashioned postcard flavor to pics and saves tons of journaling space.  You don't have to use complete sentences.  :)
14.  If you didn't do it elsewhere, you can make a page in the back identifying the people in your book.
15.  I don't enjoy making, transporting, or storing bulky scrapbooks.
16.  When people admire your photo books and say that they wish they could do that, what they really mean is that they wish you would do all that work for them.  They have no idea how long it takes when you have to scan every photo, arrange them, make adjustments in size, color and brightness, nor how much any of this might cost for someone to "take care of it for you". (Hey, I could do it... But I will charge by the hour, and that's not a minimum wage skill set.)
17.  Family members will expect you to "redo" a printed book to exclude a former relationship of theirs, or will turn up their nose at a book of their children if the photos include a former anybody. (Don't do it.)
18.  You can scan or photograph bulky "stuff" and include it in a book as a photo, because ultrasound pictures don't always last and pregnancy test sticks someone peed on are just disgusting things to hold onto.  
19.  Resizing prints in a traditional scrapbook is a chore, but in Photoshop, you can zoom and crop all you want.
20.  If there's a fire, traditional scrapbooks are just gone forever.  Using an online book printing service allows for reprinting your hard work, and you can share it easily.
21.  This one doesn't apply to me, but you can save your kids' artworks by including them in photo books.  You can put more than one painting on a page and have them neat and tidy forever. :)
22.  Finish your photo book, upload it to Shutterfly, and wait for one of their glorious 50% off sales to have it printed.

I'm glad I finally got started on my Italy photos, because they will likely encompass two or three books, and I still have to make a book of my cruise last year with my sister.  And soon I'll have photos from Ireland, Wales, England, and France to deal with.  I waited too long before, until the Italy project became a perpetual elephant in the room, always hanging over my head. I think that's what happens to a lot of photos that people take.  They have good intentions to "do something with the photos someday, but then never do and decades later they can't remember either the context of the photos or the people in them.  

After two weeks' work, I only have a few captions to write and background papers to decide upon.  And then I can get the books put together for Florence, Assisi, Pisa, and Rome....  Lol

Paranoia Begins Anew

My trip to Europe is comng soon, and now I'm having travel paranoia dreams.  It's a little splinter in my psyche, I'll admit, and the most likely reason that I started packing for this trip nearly two years ago.  Lemme 'splain... I keep all my just-for-travel stuff, such as my travel brush and toothbrush, and tiny shampoo bottles, in my luggage so that I don't have to hunt for it when I need it.  I used to be an over packer, but now I try to keep things to the minimum, plus a few comfort items.

When people wait until the last minute to pack, they tend to pack a lot of just-in-case items that just become dead weight.  A little forethought makes for a better situation. 

Last night I dreamed that I was walking around outside of my hotel, and when I returned, everybody in my tour group was loading up the bus to leave, and I still needed to shower and eat my breakfast.  Ha ha Ha ha ha. So I was screaming "Ahhhh!!!" as I ran to my room and began throwing everything into my bags, with the threat of being abandoned at the front of my mind.  

When I woke, I had an aching neck.  Maybe it was the tension of the dream.  Maybe it was the wine I drank last night while watching Hannibal. Maybe it was the contortions I had to perform to see the TV while my Yorkie stayed in my face most of the time, and in my way.  Maybe my discomfort was due to the fact that he was stretched horizontally across more than half of the bed all night and I was rather squished in place.

Eating during Hannibal is nauseating, so don't try it.  I'm just glad there is no smell-o-vision yet.  Like high-def and 3D, I will have to politely decline.  

When I was a kid, I was thrilled by the prospect of 3D movies and TV.  I've discovered that high-definition programming does not enhance my viewing -- it makes me try to pay attention to literally everything that is in focus.  Using depth-of-filed to blur backgrounds a la old fashioned standard TV makes viewing more passive for me.  Modern 3D movies, I discovered while watching Avatar, simply exhaust me.  With all that realism, my brain tells me to move right along with the action of the movie, and I'm worn out after watching.  I also have objections to paying an extra-high price for a 3D movie,  being handed glasses to wear, and THEN being told I'm expected to give the glasses back so that they can be reused.  No, I'm pretty sure I paid for them, and I don't feel like a thief for taking them with me.  It's ridiculous and I just don't think it's worth the money.  

And another thing -- I don't like the implication at the glasses I'm using were previously on someone else's germy face.  They could have just about any communicable disease which might still be teeming on that plastic.  Gross.  Just nasty.

On the brighter side of things, it's a warm, sunny day outside and my yard is filled with purple and white weed flowers.  They're lovely, and look like tiny violets.  There is also nothing I can to to get rid of them.  I suppose I'll mow the yard today, in any case.  That sudden storm we had yesterday (it looked like a tornado enroute to me) soaked the ground, but I have a feeling I should try to knock down the weed height anyway, before it gets out of control.  I still have tall tomato stakes driven into my side yard because the renters next door seem determined to tear through my yard for their convenience.  My brother said he would help me build some decorative corner fence things to discourage more property damage. (Some day... * sigh* Curb appeal isn't a bad thing and the property certainly needs some. 

For now, the stakes will have to suffice.  Or maybe I will have to make this a first, learning carpentry project.  I'd rather not learn by making every costly mistake the first time, but I may not have a choice if he is too busy to help me.