My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Painting Austin's Room

It's Alfie Boe's birthday. He's such a doll.

Have you checked out his youtube videos with Matt Lucas? They're the best thing on the w-cubed, if you ask me.
It's also Sunday which means I'm watching PBS all day, which is fitting since AB is a huge supporter of PBS. And I'm such a fangirl. Or as Logan said this morning, " a fan man", which struck me as hilarious. Not that he's an Alfie fan. I doubt he knows who he is. Alfie requires a more "refined palate".

He was just using "fan man" as the gender opposite of "fan girl".

(photos snagged without permission from Alfie's facebook page. I told you, "fan girl").

I'm also watching Idina Menzel on some random channel I've never noticed before. Love her too.

I took the "kids" to Lowe's with me this morning to buy paint for Austin's room. He's doing black and purple. He's always wanted a black room so he's happy. The room doesn't have a window so it would never really be a bedroom. If not for Austin it would be a storage room. So the black is ok.

Worst case scenario we could make it a media room.

It says, "I was born in the darkness". From Batman.

I've been stressed about some of that black paint getting tracked out onto the last bit of remaining, non-moldy carpet. I even bought shoe covers for him to use. He just came upstairs with paint splatters covering him from head to toe. He says it came from cleaning rollers. I swear. Sometimes it's like raising a five year old, only worse because I can't hog-tie him.

The black is a flat finish and the purple has a little more gloss to it. The black doesn't look flat here because it's wet. I really love how the purple turned out and told Austin we might end up painting the bathroom purple. But only after really carefully taping everything up and putting down drop cloths. We're not putting carpet in Austin's room so he was given the go ahead to just drip paint on the cement floor. He has a big rug that will take up all the exposed space in the room once a bed is moved in there.

I would love to put a big zebra print rug in there but honestly, I can't allow myself to get all Better Homes and Gardens on this project because ultimately, it's Austin's room which means it will end up being a penicillin farm. I need to put my decorative efforts and budget toward my living room/bedroom.

But he's happy. He's working towards getting his room together so we can get him moved back in... then we can get me moved back to my bedroom for sleeping... and hopefully next weekend we can get the carpet tiles laid.

Then I'll have to find something new to complain about. *wink* Just kidding. I've been a complainer all my life and although I try hard to break the habit, it just comes naturally.

Hard to complain about this scene, though... we had such a beautiful morning today! And I know I always talk about the weather (and Alfie Boe) but honestly... it's the most perfect time of the year. I very much love being here this time of year. Very much.

As usual, Little Kitty had to go with me to supervise my supervision of Austin's painting project. And of course, assumed his, "I'm the Big Cat In Charge" position.

And then Eddie Cat was on the basement stairs hollering wanting to know where we went. Because I'm just an oversized cat toy.

An oversized cat toy fan girl documentary watcher.

Happy Sunday, y'all!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Random Saturday Stuff

Orzo is the Easter grass of the food world. I made my fabulous orzo with chicken sausage and kale and it was SO GOOD but I've been picking orzo out of the sink... off dishes... out of my hair... out of the cat's fur... it's everywhere. My hair was in my face while I was cooking so I quickly put it in a bun. Turned out pretty good. I think I'm becoming an expert mirrorless hair stylist.

Fixed my hair this morning but ended up w/a bun.
First world problems: after watching football on HD all day, the Florida/Kentucky game isn't in HD. It actually hurts my eyes to watch non-HD football.

Awesome game between Georgia and LSU today. So much passion in the game with the players, coaches, fans... it's the reason I watch college football. That's what it's all about. And for all you jerks who made fun of Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow when they got emotional about football - I think I saw both Mark Richt and Aaron Murray wiping tears post-game. It happens. You leave it all out on the field.

I'm still a Gator fan. My kids give me grief for it but my love for the Gators was OBVIOUSLY deeper than my love for my Gator husband. I've married a Bama fan and a Gator fan. Both blue eyed Catholic boys. Maybe I should try to find a brown-eyed Baptist ACC fan or something. Whatever other conferences there are. Because, you know, unless it's SEC or a ranked team, I just don't care to watch them play.

Austin has been working on cleaning out the shed. The big door on it had a padlock on it and we don't have a key. Leave it to Austin and Logan... they were able to dismantle the lock. *proud mama* My kid can unlock any lock. He says he's cleaned in there. I don't really remember what it looked like before but he seemed to be fairly well occupied with the task. Any time he's in a good mood and voluntarily doing anything, I'm ok with it.

I heard a lawnmower start up outside and rushed to the porch to see if my kid was cutting grass without any prodding from me. It was across the lake. I told Austin to walk around there and find out how much they charge.

We're sort of at that happy time of year where the grass isn't growing quite as quickly which works well for my kid who is not a landscaper by nature. You can tell by the pictures... grass hasn't been cut in two weeks and it's not that bad.

Boy that shed needs painting.

One of my second cousins, Alisha, had a baby on Monday. Today HER cousin, Rachel, also my second cousin, announced that she is expecting a baby in March. There's also another baby coming in between now and then so that's three new great-grandbabies for our Steel Magnolia, Aunt Bette (my grandma's sister). There were six kids in their family and they all had a bunch of kids. They have fifty plus every year at Thanksgiving. There aren't that many of us. We'll be getting together in November for my grandma's 90th birthday but honestly, that's the first time we've all been together since her 85th. And even with that, it's a fair bet that 3 out of my 4 brothers will be missing. One because they don't do birthdays. One because he's a long way away. And one just because.

On my mom's side of the family, however, there are more than an hundred of us. We just don't ever gather in one place. A reunion here or there but not all at one time.

Other than a trip to the bakery this morning and cooking dinner... I haven't done much today. Just football and Farmville2. I had hoped to get to Lowe's to get Austin's paint for his room but by the time he was vertical this morning afternoon I was already out of steam. Trying again tomorrow.

The bad headaches I was having earlier this week have eased up. I was drinking grape juice from Sunday through Thursday and it occurs to me that it might have been the cause of my headaches. I can't drink red wine. Maybe? Any of you food experts have any idea?

Hope you're having a good weekend. Love and hugs, y'all.

Friday, September 27, 2013

7 Quick Takes

Giving 7 Quick Takes another try this week, even though last week I totally messed up and instead of linking myself up... I linked Stone Mountain Park... Yep. Me + technology = Best Friends Forever. 

1. It's another perfect fall day here. At least the view from my perch is quite nice. We've been on "natural a/c" all week - windows open and breezes blowing through. I have to put on socks in the morning when I come down because otherwise it's too cool. I'm still on a/c on the top floor because - well, heat rises - and also, we don't have screens on the windows up there so we can't open the windows. I have been able to just use a/c without supplementing with the box fan and was even able to dry my hair AND put hot rollers in this morning without having a heat stroke or needing a cooling break. Even when I made golf chicken for dinner last night and had the oven going for half an hour, it was only slightly warm. Right now I have the dryer going and am not sweating. In summary: fall is awesome
view from the front porch... 

2. After a week of the dogs being gone, the birds and squirrels have returned to the front porch. The only problem I have now is that Eddie and Trouble both want to sit in the same spot in the window. They just had a really heated slap fight over it. Stubby is content to sit at the top of the stairs on the top floor and listen for the sound of cat food hitting the dish to come down. He eats and then heads right back upstairs. Yes. I just wasted a quick take on the cats. Not a lot of material to work with, y'all. 

Less humidity... less frizz...

3. In the past week I've seen the season premieres of How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory and Grey's Anatomy. None of these really lived up to the hype. I did enjoy Lily's first encounter with the Mother on HIMYM but otherwise it wasn't really THAT good. The Big Bang Theory was more *yawn* than usual. I almost forgot I was watching a new episode and totally went into re-run mode by not even looking away from the computer screen to look at the tv. Penny hugging Sheldon was cute but otherwise it was... eh. And Grey's Anatomy would have been better if I had actually had time to watch the episodes from last season. I wasn't really invested in the story of the interns involved and they've jumped the shark so many times with the original characters that I was having a hard time believing the Chief would die. And he didn't. So there's that...

Little Kitty trying to sneak out the front door

4. Do you guys do Pinterest? It's sort of my default entertainment. If I'm bored with what's on tv, have caught up on blogs, have read all the stories on TMZ and The Daily Mail and don't want to play any more Farmville2, I go to Pinterest and mindlessly scroll through what my friends have pinned. Sometimes they really frighten me. There's this person that I follow just because of their participation in the autism community who pins lots and lots of pictures of women's legs. It's kinda creepy. My friend Linda pins a lot of Disney stuff but it's all cute and I enjoy it. There's a girl I know by two degrees of separation (she's a friend of a friend... I used to rent from her parents... she married one of my customers) who is a writer and she pins a lot of writing inspiration. Myself... I mostly just repin stuff that other people have pinned and stuff I want to buy but can't afford. My favorite topic is history. You can follow my boards if you're bored. *wink*

5. I was going to make my yummy chicken sausage with kale and orzo for dinner thinking that the parents were coming up tonight but they aren't... and Austin volunteered to make Hamburger Helper and Logan brought over some ground beef so I'm going to let the kids take over the kitchen. If they leave the kitchen a mess, so help me, I'm going to end up on the news and it's not going to be a feel good story. Also, if they think we're eating at midnight, they're going to end up going hungry or eating cheetos for dinner again. 

Here's what it looks like from the living room nest...

6. Pretty soon I'm going to start blogging about my experience with the "Affordable Health Care Act". Someone once told me that it was crazy for me to be a Republican as a poor single mom. I know. I'm full of all kinds of contradictions. Here's my perspective at the moment... I'm unemployed, fighting the government to acknowledge that I am no longer physically able to work, I have very little money and what little I have goes to pay my medical expenses. The way it stands now, I will have to come up with even more money as a penalty for not being able to afford health insurance OR find an insurer who will take me with my long, long list of health problems for an amount of money that I can afford. If you have no income, there's not much you can afford.  

I'm very interested in seeing what happens with these exchanges that are supposed to start October 1st. One day next week I'm going to the local DFCS office to see what kind of health care plan I qualify for... I'm not as informed about this as I want to be so I'm going to find out what needs to happen. I figure... if someone who is licensed to sell health insurance can't navigate the system, nobody can. Look for updates on the process... I'm going to be open minded and optimistic that this will lighten my burden of paying fully out of pocket for every medical expense I have... and I'm going to hope that I'll be able to have better care and follow up treatment that I haven't been able to afford on my own. I am doubtful but willing to go through the process and see what happens. 

So far all I've seen by using the website is that I could qualify for $5,900 in health insurance premium assistance. It seems like a lot of money... but it's also not unusual for a 45 year old woman who is table rated  (this is when they charge you more because you're more likely to have to file claims) to have monthly health insurance premiums exceeding $500 a month, and that's for a plan with high deductibles and upper limits of out of pocket expenses. I'm interested in knowing your health insurance situations. Have your costs increased? 
deliberately goofy... honest
7. I found an interesting article on - How To Quit Shampoo Without Becoming Disgusting. I'm interested in this for several reasons. One - my hair is long and it takes a long time to style it. Once I style it, it stays styled for several days and if not for the fear of being socially acceptable, I could stretch a "do" out longer than I usually... well, do. Right now the absolute limit for me is four days. Also, as I become less mobile it would be helpful to not have to put so much effort into grooming. I want to be clean but ... let's face it, I'm not going to the prom. I want to find the sweet spot between low maintenance and "letting myself go". I don't want to part with my long hair quite yet. I also don't want to waste money. How long do you go between shampoos? 

So that's it. Gearing up for a quiet weekend. Possibly a trip to Lowe's to get paint so Austin can get his room back in order and then maybe... in the next few weeks... I can get back into my Whine Cellar sanctuary. Just wait until you see the colors he picked out. 

Otherwise, this weekend I'll be watching football and ... yeah, who knows what else. Stay tuned! Happy Weekend, y'all!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Late Night

Last night I was begging for an early bedtime. Tonight I'm at the other end of the spectrum again. It's 11pm and I'm awake. Not... wide awake... but that conscious but sleepy time of quiet peace before you slip off into sleep. (maybe I should add a disclaimer here about being under the influence of ambien).

Today was better than yesterday. Nobody left dishes out. Nobody cursed. The old moldy carpet was hauled off and we are ready to begin repairing my Whine Cellar.

I've realized how important that space is to my mental well-being. Pain makes us want to isolate. There is a threshold after which I am not as capable of controlling my temper, my emotions or what I say. In those times, I need to be in a quiet place alone. My Whine Cellar is my quiet place. You just don't hear noise from the rest of the house.

I've also realized this week how important it is for me to not just watch tv... but to allow myself to be transported into other worlds for thirty minutes or an hour. I need a mental break from what is happening to my body and in my life. I've always had a great imagination. I can watch a play - or a tv show - or read a book - and I am IN that story. I don't want to bury my head in the sand but sometimes it's nice to get away. I need to do a better job of having those little uninterrupted escapes.

My attorney called today and we completed another 12 page questionnaire for Social Security. This one was about how I spend my days... what my hobbies and interests are... what things I have had to give up BESIDES work because of my back. It was thirty-six minutes of how life used to be for Heather vs. Heather's current reality. When I listed the things I can't do... I got a little emotional. It's like... if I go a whole day and I don't go anywhere I don't think about it. But... like last weekend when the fam went out for dinner. I soooo wanted to go. I just knew that even with just the drive down, by the time we ordered and our food was prepared that I would be in too much pain to enjoy anything and possibly in so much pain that I kept others from having a good time. The reminders of what is missing... that's what is hard.

But tonight the house is quiet and there is only one clown left in the basement. If you must be in one place for the majority of your time, it's nice when that place is nice... comfortable... cool enough, warm enough... there's good food... it's clean... At night the air has just that hint of crispness that lets you know it's no longer Summer.

The internet is a funny, funny place. My cousin cracked me up tonight with something he found in his genealogy research... which was scandalous and shant be repeated... that, and that he descends from Benedict Arnold. That was pretty funny.

Then my former neighbor Karen who always jumps into my facebook conversations with my mom because they are truly random... and Karen knows just how cray-cray the old fam is... she gives suggestions for quieting the clock that chimes every fifteen minutes.

So many people... connected through a screen... making me feel less alone, less discouraged... giving me a reason to laugh. And after five hours of Grey's Anatomy today, I need something to pick me up.

I'm sleepy ... better quit writing before I start letting skeletons fall out of closets. Yesterday was bad. Today was bearable. Tomorrow's going to be good. I just know it.

Love and hugs, y'all!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why I Need An Early Bedtime

It's 5:55pm Eastern Daylight Time as I begin to type this post. I usually don't start my posts this early but I'm falling asleep so I figure if I'm going to cast any thoughts out onto the world wide webs today, it's going to have to be sooner rather than later.

WHY? You ask. Go ahead. Ask. "Heather, why, are you, a relatively young woman ready to go to bed at this ridiculously early hour?" I'll tell you why.

  • because it's been a rainy overcast day and it's nearly dark at this early hour. 
  • because that ear that had the mysterious object in it yesterday morning hurts really bad tonight. I have not yet identified the unidentified object and therefore my hypochondria is out of control.
  • because I have a sore throat and my third (or fourth) day in a row of having a headache.
  • because the Basement Clown Posse is loading up the old moldy carpet that was taken out of the basement two months ago and they're going to come up at some point after they finish....  thinking that I should provide them some kind of nourishment as a reward for their efforts and I just don't want to share the lovely piece of tuna that I just broiled. They are not worthy. I don't feel like eating it and I suspect it will become a lovely leftover for tomorrow but I still don't want to share. 
  • because they ate dinner last night at 11pm which is probably why I didn't go to sleep until 5am this morning. That's right. FIVE freaking A of the M.
  • And of course... since my parents have moved their lovely "anniversary clock" up here... there is chiming of the hour at fifteen minute intervals all the livelong day and night. And for whatever reason, even though it shows the correct time it CHIMES three hours ahead so at 8 am it chimes eleven times. Eleven. And since I'm still living on the top floor, I hear that clock like it was in the bed with me. So after going to sleep after 5am I was awake at 8am. At which point I ran myself a hot bath and climbed in the tub and bawled my eyes out. 
  • because, you know, even if you don't have a darn thing to do all day, just knowing the cumulative effect of the lack of sleep plus rain was going to mean a Miserable Me and I just couldn't stand starting my day knowing it would suck. 

I'm not even halfway through yet. I'm just warming up. 

I'm ready to go to bed because yesterday when I went to the grocery store I found two really nice NY strip steaks that had just been marked down. Yes, I buy steaks on sale. It's the only time I buy good steaks. And because I was afraid that we would have some spare kid knocking around in the basement, I bought a lower quality cut of steak, also marked down, just in case we needed to stretch dinner a little further. And even though I let Austin know at noon yesterday that we were going to be grilling out for dinner (meaning HE was grilling out, I don't mess with fire, long story) and reminded him that it is really important for me to eat dinner around 5pm or 6pm because I can't take my knockout drugs with a meal or they don't work. I have a window of opportunity for sleep of between 10pm and midnight. If I don't get to sleep then, I don't sleep. It takes two hours for the knockout drugs to kick in so I try to eat at 5pm, take meds at 8pm and then I'm sufficiently chilled for sleeping right on schedule.

BUT NO.... the kid was nowhere around at dinner time. Rather than trying to force an unwilling cook, I made a three bean salad, had that with a nice piece of a sourdough baguette and was fine. Took my meds... was just about to fall asleep on the couch watching tv when... at TEN PM... the Basement Clowns came tripping up the stairs looking for something to eat. Before I knew what was happening steaks were on the grill, rice and jalepeno poppers were being cooked and all of these things required input from me. The whole time. THE WHOLE TIME (yelling for emphasis) I kept reminding them that they needed to clean up their mess because I did not want to wake up to a messy kitchen in the morning. I can't stress this enough. I can't stand to get up in the morning and find the remains of the day before. There's just no reason for it. I clean as I cook. I load the dishwasher throughout the day. I run the dishwasher at night. I empty the dishwasher first thing in the morning.

OF COURSE... since dinner time was pushed back by five freaking hours, the dishwasher was already going when they came upstairs because, it was time for me to go to bed. And since the dishwasher was running, I remarked time and time and time again that they would either need to empty the dishwasher and load it or do the dinner dishes by hand. All three of these registered voters expressed their comprehension of this requirement.

So this morning... after barely sleeping three hours... after my bathtub meltdown... I stumbled downstairs to find something to eat for breakfast and found the kitchen EXACTLY AS IT WAS AFTER THEIR 11PM DINNER LAST NIGHT. I'm talking food sitting out drawing flies. I'm talking dishes covering every inch of counter space (and we have a lot of counter space). Since I was already a whiny mess, I didn't attempt to clean it. I just left it.

It has been cool today and I quickly discovered that I needed a sweatshirt. My winter clothes are in a closed rubbermaid container in the basement. I wandered into the wasteland that has become of my beautiful Whine Cellar with the lack of my feminine touch for the past two months. There were two clowns sleeping on my furniture and the one clown I gave birth to was in my bed. Clown A apologized for not getting up and loading the old carpet as he had promised, citing the rain and the fact that the price at the dump is based on weight. Wet carpet costs more than dry. Whatever. I get it. I told him I was much more aggravated at the state of the kitchen than I was at the state of the carpet disposal. When I went into my room the kid I gave birth to woke up and I mentioned the kitchen and indicated it needed to be cleaned sooner rather than his normal noon wake up time.

An hour or so later... angry teen comes stomping up the stairs swearing and throwing a full blown temper tantrum about having to get up to clean the kitchen. Maybe logic isn't what it was for my generation. I calmly reminded him that if he wanted to avoid having to get up "early" (it was about ten am) to clean the dinner dishes, he should do the dinner dishes AFTER DINNER. Is this really a hard concept? This disagreement escalated and continued until the bathtub weeping returned and I was ready to cause him bodily harm. Fortunately (for him) my back hurt too bad for me to get up.

His mood quickly rebounded as it always does. This is a common autism trait... complete meltdown, completely inappropriate behavior and then complete disconnection with his earlier mood and actions. My mood, however, doesn't rebound as quickly. The emotions of the morning took whatever energy my three hour power nap had generated.

I'm just completely sapped. And there's more. My friend Amy's Nanny died on Monday. Her funeral is Friday here in Cleveland. If it wasn't local I couldn't do it. But it is local and she is a good friend and her Nanny raised her and even if she doesn't know I'm there, I need to be there. Being this wiped out and run down two days before any event, especially a not-casual event, really lowers the chances of me being able to be there. And as I mentioned last week, the hardest thing for me with this whole back thing is not being able to be there for people.

And today on my afternoon Grey's Anatomy watching they showed the episode where George dies. I mean, I know it's just a tv show but it's just the thought of people dying before they should and all that.

Once I miss sleep it makes it harder to go to sleep the next night. I know I should just crash but it doesn't work that way. Lack of rest increases pain which decreases ability to sleep. I'm exhausted. I just announced that the kitchen was closing at 8pm. If food is not prepared before then they will just have to eat cheetos. Whatever.

I downloaded 25 new books on my Nook last night. All free. Yay me. I have been reading Rick Steves travel blog and also his girlfriend's (yes, he is straight). Living vicariously and all that. (Speaking of which, my fabulous friend Beth who lives in London is in Monaco right now!). Even if I don't sleep, there's lots of ways to entertain myself. Last night I finally just started watching Alfie Boe interviews on Youtube. I love his singing but at 4am I don't want opera, I want a cute and funny man to talk me to sleep. So he did.

And now I'm done. If you made it all the way through, thanks for listening. Love and hugs, y'all.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Two Parter

Monday night....

Little Doggie is not here so Giant Kitty sleeps in his spot.
I have a really, really bad headache. 
I had one yesterday too. It went away and came back.
It's awful. Just awful. It makes it hard for me to think straight.
So I'll think curvy. *wink*

Today I picked up my nieces from school and we went into Clarkesville to run some errands. At an intersection a car failed to yield and turned right in front of me.... so I said, "what made him think he could turn right in front of me?" and Sarabeth said, "actually... Aunt Heather... he turned left".
Yes, she's one of us.

So I corrected, "what made him think he could turn immediately before my approach?"
Imagine that times twenty-six. That's my family.

The new, better carpet came today from It's on the porch waiting for Austin to bring it in the house.

For dinner I cooked frozen fish, canned green beans and canned okra and tomatoes. It was my worst effort in years. Seriously. A bowl of cereal would have been better.

This is MY spot in my bed but Little Kitty disagrees.
I took the girls to McDonalds for what was going to be a late lunch, early dinner but I under-estimated how much two little girls can eat right after school. I was thinking they could split a large fry and me and Austin could split a large fry and it turned out that they can eat a whole large fry by themselves. Plus a cheeseburger a piece. 
They've got another ten years of that fabulous metabolism left, at least. More, I hope.

Today was grocery day and I just didn't have it in me. Plus, I was waiting on Fed-ex.
Tomorrow will be grocery day if it's headache free.

I am SO excited about the return of How I Met Your Mother tonight. I love that show!

I also love Neil Patrick Harris but the Emmy's were so boring last night that I went to bed at ten although Jim Parson's acceptance speech was sweet and so genuine. I adore him.

I still haven't caught up on Grey's Anatomy's last season. I have three more days before the new one starts.

Today I used the DVR. It was my first time. And by "used it" I mean that Austin recorded for me and pushed start for me and ... when I got distracted by cooking dinner and talking to my mom on the phone, he paused it and rewound it for me.
You would think, because I blog, that I'm technologically progressive and all that but I'm really not.

Woke up this morning and he was laying right beside me. Like a person. 
I had a real conversation with my older niece today about bra shopping. She will be eleven next month.
I bought a new one yesterday and it fits great but the parts don't hold together as well as I hoped. That's what happens when you buy a $5 bra at Dollar General. 
She was describing the flaws in her bras... one is pink so it shows through... one is just a sports bra and one is too small... I totally feel her pain. The struggle to find the right bra is a lifelong journey. When I find a style that I like, I buy several. I'm in a drought right now. Not loving what I have... not finding what I want. 

In related news, my sensory sensitive son was delighted at the very soft shorts I found for him on the clearance rack. I must go back and see if there are more. He is so picky about fabrics... hence his addiction to pajama pants. He can't stand jeans or khakis. I do good to get him to wear something more than just boxers.

Jamie's messy room. God bless her. 
Jamie was restricted from watching tv until she cleaned her room. She told me this in the car... and I said, "I am officially of no opinion regarding this." Because I feel strongly that my job is to never, ever, ever, contradict their parents. Nor do I want to nag or pile on. 

And that room... was a mess.

I told her that it's genetic. She's related to Austin. (Also, Pop makes a mess when he cooks but don't tell him I said that.)

Anyways... so when we got to their house Jamie asked me to come upstairs and help her clean. I explained that my back was really bothering me and the stairs would hurt. So she took my camera up and took several pictures to get suggestions on what to do. And then as I gave suggestions from downstairs she begged me to come up and help her. She asked if it hurt worse going up or coming down. I said, "going up". She said, "then come on up and the worst part will be over."

More messy room.
You really can't argue with that logic. Like I said, one of us.

So I went up and coached her.... I didn't actually clean FOR HER. I just gave her a few tips like, make the bed first... hang your extra blankets over the foot of the bed so they're off the floor and easily available... remove dirty clothes and books and trash to start... group similar things. She was making progress but she's just a little butterfly that cleaning turns into a celebration of her little treasures. Just. Like. Me. 

Then her dad came home and I left her to his supervision.

My kid is picky about what he'll wear but he'll eat anything. He's putting the billy goat treatment to that disgrace of a dinner I fixed.

Tuesday afternoon... 
And... still more messy room. 
I forgot to mention yesterday how much I loved having my little niece get in the car and ask me to turn the radio up because her favorite song was on. I listen to 104.7 the Fish which plays contemporary Christian music. It's always uplifting, positive stuff and I don't have to worry that they're going to hear something they shouldn't. Nothing like riding with the windows down on a mild Fall day with the music playing and everybody singing along. 

I also forgot to mention that my older niece said she has a letter ready to mail to the radio station complaining about the commercials. She says they are not positive and uplifting because they interrupt the music. I explained (from my scant, thimble-full of knowledge of these things) that even though the radio stations buy the music, it's not like owning a cd that you can play over and over without ever having to pay again... there's a fee or royalty or something else that has to go to the artist every time a song is played. I don't really know a lot about it but I know they have to pay something else. 

I woke up this morning with an earache and while I was putting on makeup I notice something black in my ear... just outside the canal... it was about the size of a bb... maybe a bug... I couldn't tell even after close examination. I did not take a picture to show you. You're welcome. It was REALLY disgusting and creepy and my ear still hurts. I hope that it wasn't the outer shell of something really disgusting that is still in my ear. It feels like I'm in a bad episode of Grey's Anatomy. :shudder:

Stubby contemplates exploring the basement. So far he's only gone upstairs.
After that... I cleaned up three spots of cat vomit. Two different kinds. There's the super chunky, barely chewed food kind that comes from Stubby, who is a big ole greedy glutton at feeding time. Then there's the mucous encased hairballs that Little Kitty throws up. Good times. Neither is fun first thing in the morning. 

And then I went grocery shopping. And then I brought the groceries in by myself because my kid wouldn't get his lazy butt out of bed to help. And then I put the groceries away all by myself. 

And then when my lazy kid got out of bed I made him clean out the litter boxes in retaliation. He was actually contrite and apologetic and didn't protest in the least. 

And then I made him load the dishwasher. Last night he was all sympathetic about my really REALLY bad headache and volunteered to clean up from dinner and then he went out with a friend and didn't clean. I started to do it when I first got up, you know, in between playing exterminator for my ears and cleaning cat vomit and I decided that since it's just me and him, I would let that job wait for him. 

It's cool and overcast today. I'm wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt and my toes are cold. 

I've done all the work I have to do and now I'm just going to sit here and stare at the tv and play Farmville2. 

Happy Tuesday. Sorry it took so long to put this together. Sorry it was so long. Thanks for stopping by. Love and hugs!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Peace. And quiet.

Do you hear that sound?

That sound is NOT a barking dog.

I love our furbabies but our little Oscar is a bit... well... vocal. He's gone back to the 'burbs with Mawmaw and Pop. Mom has several doctors appointments in civilization next week so for now, it's just me and the kid here at the Mansion. And the cats. One of whom is sitting at my feet just like Oscar usually does... and another is on my right hip. 

Today Cody and Marquee came up to celebrate Mawmaw and Pop's birthday. We had North Georgia BBQ and the kids made bought an awesome cake from the Publix bakery. 

It was a nice visit and then everybody got in the cars and went home and it has been so quiet. 

I watched the entire Florida / Tennessee game without interruption. 

I skipped dinner without feeling guilty that my mother isn't eating because I'm not cooking or eating. 

I haven't let a single dog out to pee all afternoon.

By tomorrow (or the next day, maybe) I'll miss them all, canine and human. 

But tonight... it's glorious!

Austin had a meltdown... kinda to be expected... Mom and the dogs have been here for a month this time and although it's their house... Austin is used to visits of a week or two and then a week or two in between so it was different than what we were used to. 

Add into that the stress of the different configuration due to the water damage. And then Austin had a friend who was without a place to stay who stayed here far longer than we intended or wanted. And then Austin spent the past ten days at Logan's house while Logan's mom was out of town so, sort of in a lawless state. And then he comes back and I won't let him do what he wants to do which is have this friend spend the night. 

We've been in transition and Aspergers + transition = meltdown.

He asked if the still homeless friend could come back - just for tonight. What happened last time was "just this night" turned into really uncomfortable whispers of "Austin... he can't live here..." with him not having the social dexterity to explain to a friend who is - well, sort of a strong personality - that we can't afford for him to stay with us. While I was explaining my reservations and deliberating the right answer - he exploded on me with a barrage of profanity and storming around and, well, just a general tantrum/meltdown. 

None of this is new to me. I'm 19 1/2 years into this disorder/difference and I know that none of that was about me. He had a meltdown locked and loaded and just needed somewhere for it to blow and that was the first time he didn't get the exact response he wanted. 

For the record... I was totally calm about the ex-girlfriend that he's back with that has a newborn (not his). I had no problem leaving my solitude to drive him to Leaf Grocery to buy cigarettes. I had no problem giving him money to buy cigarettes. I didn't mention his continuing need to find a j-o-b. I was totally Mellow Mom. 

But... the bottom line is that Austin and I are strays and don't really have the right to take in more strays. This is a young man who... although occasionally motivated and cooperative and nice... is not living with family because they found drug paraphernalia in his possession. 

I'm not in the position to buy food and supplies (you know, things like styrofoam cups, paper plates, toilet paper, paper towels - things that tend to run out faster the more people in a residence) for young people who are not my responsibility, especially those who are without a home not due to lack of family but due to lack of respect for the rules of living with his family. Particularly because those rules are the same here and I don't want or need the added stress of trying to figure out if that sort of thing is going on here. 

The Christian in me wants to have compassion for anyone without a place to live. The realist in me knows that this is beyond the scope of my control or responsibility.

If that makes Austin hate me for a few days, I can live with it. 
I am not willing to sacrifice my peace and quiet for heated discussion about things that require logic and reason with someone who isn't quite using those things in the same measure that I am. 

My kid is NOT a Florida fan. 
However, today, I ate chocolate cake. I had really good bbq. Florida won. I saw two out of three of my kids. Life isn't so bad. 

I'm looking forward to the Emmy Awards tomorrow night. I adore Neil Patrick Harris. Mayim Bialek is nominated and I have been reading along in her blog where she is going through the process of finding a dress that is appropriate for the occasion that doesn't contradict her beliefs. 

I'm zen. I'm relaxed. I'm peaceful. I'm in a good bit of pain but I can take it. 

We're gonna make it after alllllllllllllll...........

Cody's new tattoo. Eh. 
Mom and Pop with their birthday cake.

She is totally cutting the cake. Just the cake. 

In chocolate there is joy. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - In Which I Demonstrate My Lack of Comprehension of the Word "Quick"

Joining up with The Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday. If you're looking to expand your blog reading, visit there and follow a few links. I've found a few really good blogs through this link-up and it's one of my personal faves.

1. I'm putting some serious consideration to the question of a cell phone again. My cheap little pay-as-you-go phone that I bought right after leaving Jacksonville quit working this Summer and I haven't yet replaced it. In some ways it's been nice as I'm really REALLY not one for extended phone conversations. Here's the thing: when I'm on the phone that's all I do. I consider phone conversations important enough to garner my undivided attention. However, I can't STAND to only do one thing at once. I really can't. So I'm that person that ignores most phone calls unless I'm in the mood to chat. Which isn't often. However, I do like to text and I would love to be able to Instagram and, after talking to my friend earlier this week I realized how truly inaccessible I am for people to whom I would prefer to be accessible. We don't have a landline here at the mountain house so we mostly just use my mom's phone. When she goes back to the 'burbs, she leaves her phone here. I don't like knowing that when she is out and about it is sans phone. I also don't feel like I can really have extended conversations on the rare occasion that I desire an extended conversation. In addition... I'm feeling sort of isolated and lonely and I think having a phone of my own might help. On the other hand... I've got to stretch a really small sum of money over an undetermined period of time until my disability is approved which could be... if I'm honest with myself... another year. I can do the Walmart Family plan for about $40 a month for unlimited talk, text and internet. The cost of the phone I want is about $80. I could qualify for an ObamaPhone. It would save $10 a month off the unlimited plan and/or give me 250 talk minutes a month and some texts - not sure how many. I'm just don't feel right taking charity for something that is really a luxury, not a necessity, at least not in my case. Any thoughts or suggestions? Oh... and I could be added to my parents' plan except they are looking to change plans in a few months and ... well, this is something I feel like I should do myself or not do at all.

2. Wow. Long winded much? I think point one was the opposite of "quick".  My mom and dad, Jim and the girls went out for dinner tonight to celebrate the parents' birthdays which are both in the next week... Pop's is tomorrow and Mom's is next Thursday. I'm dog-sitting. I didn't REALLY have to dog sit, I could have gone but the lower spine is not well today. It's been a hardcore pain pill kind of day. And, well, honestly, my mom tends to stress over the welfare of the dogs when they're alone for any length of time. Old Lily girl is not well and is borderline incontinent. When she has to go, she really has to go. Lady mourns any time she's people-less by moaning and carrying on. Oscar is just rotten. So I'm holding down the fort tonight and... well, I kinda like it.

3. Trying to be more concise... I leveled up TWICE today on Farmville2. I'm sort of a rock star. Or, truly have nothing to do.

4. Since none of the soap operas I used to watch are still on the air (:sob: still grieving Guiding Light) our afternoon television viewing is Grey's Anatomy which is on for three hours every day. I haven't watched it in years... I haven't seen a single one of last season's episodes... and so it's something new every day for me. Now... in order to be able to partake in the excitement of next week's season premiere, I've got to get caught up with last season either via watching - not sure if it's on or netflix? - or by reading the recaps. That's my self-entertainment for the next week. Yeah. It's a thrill a minute here.

5. I've mentioned before that some very dear friends of mine have been through a really rough year. The Ramsaier family came into my life when Purple Michael and I were directing Fiddler on the Roof in 2002. The three girls were cast as three of Tevya's five daughters and their mom was an absolute God-send in costuming.  Eddie got sick earlier this year and ended up paralyzed. This larger than life man has gone through so much this year... so much suffering... I can't even wrap my mind around it. But his beautiful wife and three daughters have been right there by his side all the way. Youngest daughter, Mary, is (I think) a Senior in high school this year and tonight... her high school is honoring this prince of a man by having a "blue out" in his honor at the high school football game tonight. It's amazing to realize how wonderful the community support has been for this family but truly, a testimony to how amazing they've been to their community.

6. We've enjoyed a windows-open week weather wise although today it's been a little too warm for me. I'm sitting with a fan on me. The comfiest chair is also the hottest seat in the house. Tomorrow it's back to rain and cooler temps and I can't wait. Nervous about potential basement leakage but eager to settle the question.

7. If you're a fan of Fall Festivities... Purple Michael is working at Stone Mountain Park's Pumpkinfest. If you're going, let me know and I'll tell you how to find him. Nothing like freaking him out by walking up to him and asking if he's "Purple Michael" since he is only known as such in the blogosphere and... by one of my children. One of my high school friends had a Purple Michael encounter in an elevator once and was giddy at recognizing him from my blog. (Another friend once messaged me from a restaurant with, "I think your nieces are here"... and yes, they were! I bring fame to those in my world.) As far as Leaf Watch 2013... I did see one branch on one tree that was turning red this morning on a drive into town. Also, if you're heading into Cleveland, Georgia this weekend, you should know that there is a dead skunk just east of Truett McConnell College on Highway 115.  You've been warned. Windows up.

And that's my 7 Not-so-quick takes this week. Love and hugs!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What Matters Most

A big part of my reason for moving to this part of the world was to be close to my nieces. I didn't have any sisters. Then God saw fit to give me three boys (and honestly, there's not a one I would trade for a girl). By the time my niece Sarabeth was born it had been 33 years since we'd had a girl born into our family. (I have two nieces who came to us through marriage... they're not "steps", we love them just as if they'd been born to us) but it had been a long time since we had a baby girl to love from birth. When her little sidekick Jamie came along two years later, I was in Aunt Heaven. They were and are, everything I hoped for in having a little girl of my own but even better!

So when my life fell apart, five years ago today, and I woke up in the hospital under close observation... and had to start the process of figuring out where to go from there... I knew I wanted to be able to be a part of my nieces lives more often than just holidays and birthdays and funerals. I wanted to have a relationship with them. I wanted them to know me. I have far too many relatives that I never had the chance to know... and some that, through the magic of the internet, I'm growing closer to at my advanced age. But to really know these girls and be a part of their lives... that would help give me a reason to live. And at that point, that's what I needed more than anything, as reason to want to live.

For my first four years living here.... I was working full time, dealing with the stress of trying to keep Austin under control... and beginning some medical battles that eventually became too big for me to manage and work full time and be any help to anyone anywhere. I saw the girls here and there and we did make some special memories but I never got to spend the kind of time with them that I had hoped. Last Summer when I moved back to my parents house I had no idea that we'd find this house and that Pop would buy it so soon... and I had found a job down there that I loved so even though they were going to be moving back up here, I didn't know that I would be able to. I would have much rather been able to work longer, I would have preferred to be stronger. But that's not how it worked out.

So now here I am... with not much to do... nowhere to go... just hanging out trying to get ahead of the pain as best I can. So whenever I'm presented with an opportunity to spend time with my nieces, I'm always more than happy to do it. I can very easily hang out with them at their house just like I hang out here at this house. And so when it occurred to me the other day that my sister-in-law was out of town on business, her mom "grammy" was out of town for pleasure and my brother Jim had to sing at a funeral this evening... I counted heads and realized I was the only one available. Last man standing! Put me in, coach! I can do this!

I went over around 4:30 and hung out with the girls. There are some afternoon educational things they watch. Jamie had been tasked with cleaning the hallway between her room and her sisters. She kept asking me to come up and check and instead I gave her my camera and said, "take me a picture and we'll see...."

"Um... not there yet, honey.... give it a little more work...."
Then we started watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney version) because Jamie wants to be Esmerelda for Halloween. We had a deep discussion about the gypsy people and how there are still gypsys in our world and how they are usually very poor and very misunderstood. We also talked about the Cathedral of Notre Dame and why that would be a safe place. Very deep conversation for a Disney movie. I just like to bring a little something special to my movie watching. *eyeroll*

Then I went upstairs and helped a little with the clean up and organization. It wasn't perfect but we made progress. Then more movie and then their dad came home and we were done. Just a few hours... no greater discomfort than what I would have felt at home (although I have been battling a sinus headache most of the day that got worse this evening). Lots of precious time with my girls and even better... the feeling that there are still some things that I can do that make a difference. It was a good day.

At this very moment five years ago, doctors  fighting to reverse the damage of the medications I took, trying to end my life. They were successful. By the grace of God, they were successful. And this life that I have now, even though I'm struggling because of my back and the overwhelming burden of chronic pain... this life is so much better than anything I could have possibly envisioned for myself.  If you're in a place that feels hopeless, don't give up. Life if full of change. Surround yourself with good people. Have faith in God and faith in yourself. Just keep fighting.

That's what I'm doing... I just keep on fighting.

My head hurts too bad for any more mush... just know that if you don't know which way to go, get in touch with me. I'll help you find your path. I don't want anyone to ever feel like I did. No life is hopeless. No situation is hopeless. Hold on. Find something or someone who makes it worth getting up in the morning.

Thanks for hanging on along with me. Love and hugs!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Whiny Wednesday

Eddie cat
And then it was Wednesday.

I woke up this morning to the sound of a barking dog. That's not unusual. However, Oscar is usually more of a late riser so I can usually count on relative peace until 9am-ish. This morning it was 7:46. Ish.

We think he may have heard some kind of animal outside. He was all crazy detective-ish when he was able to get out back later today. We have bears here, although I've only had one encounter. We also have a lot of deer. Two little bambi twins ran out in the road beside me yesterday. Which is kind of weird... I didn't see the mommy deer. It could just be another dog that set him off. Or a squirrel.

Little Trouble Kitty
Anyways... it's been one of those days where I don't really do anything but feel like I've run a marathon.

I've mentioned before that my pain changes. Today it's more pressure than pain which is aggravating because there's nothing you can take to make pressure go away. I'd rather have pressure than pain but I'd really rather have neither, if I had a choice.

I got a call from a friend this afternoon. He's dealing with two people very close to him who are battling cancer. It was good to hear from him but when I hung up from talking to him I just wanted to cry. I don't want him to carry that burden. It's too much. Too sad. Too heavy.

Angle from which I was taking pictures of Eddie and Trouble
And it makes dealing with back pain seem .... well, very not fatal.

A mutual friend of ours has gone through really REALLY heavy, life-changing illness this year and is back in the hospital again and my heart just breaks for him.

I so wish we lived in a world where there was no sickness or pain.

Mom cut the grass this morning, took a power nap and then started painting the back porch. I would post a picture of the deck but it would involve stairs. We got this thick stuff that fills in the cracks and is supposed to create an even surface... so we're (and by we - I mean her) staining the railings and painting the floor of the deck. We thought we had picked two browns that are complementary, if not exactly the same. Instead... at least when wet... the floor color is more like Oscar the dachshund brown - and the rails are like more of hot chocolate brown. We'll see. Either way it beats weathered board brown.

the Bermuda Cat Triangle. They do this when they think I'm getting treats.
While Mom cut the grass, took a power nap and painted I was on dog duty which HONESTLY... compared to 40 hour work weeks or ... you know, cutting the grass and painting the deck, or taking care of people who are really sick, is not that hard of a job except that it's a lot of up and down. Lily goes potty a lot. Oscar has to bark at the wind blowing.

Oh, who am I kidding? It's not that hard.
It's just that some days everything is hard.
No. The point is that every day everything is hard and it sucks but it doesn't suck like cancer.

And sometimes what sucks the most about it is that it is life changing without being something that's understood as being life changing. Nobody sees pain and I'm not willing to dramatize it to make it apparent. I'm not one to wince at every step. They all hurt. Take it for granted. Laying here right now... on ten inches of mattress padding and feather bed and princess and the pea stuff... it hurts. Just being. I'm not going to moan and groan. I'm much more likely to just not say anything at all. Except here, of course.

And what sucks more is that I have a friend who is hurting and I can't be there beside him. Because that's what I do. That's who I am, especially to him. I'm the one who holds his chapstick and reminds him of his name when he forgets. The one who always has something for him to wipe his mouth on when he gets sick. And keeps peanut butter around in case his blood sugar is too low. I'm just there. It's what I do.

The name thing... it really did happen... we were doing auditions for a show. He was directing and I was his assistant and he was standing in front of the group of people who were about to audition and giving them directions and he said, "hello my name is... " and he paused... and I was right beside him and I whispered his name to him and he repeated it. He just had one of those thought train wrecks and forgot what he was saying. It's still funny to think about me giving him his line to deliver when the line was his name.

Anyways... I don't always get what God's doing.

But you know... this morning I was in the shower and I was thinking about the past year... moving to Riverdale and trying to work and really not being able to work and all that. And I thought... if I hadn't had that year, I would have never had the validation I needed about my work skills because I would have forever been haunted by what came before. Instead, I stopped working gradually, having tried every possible combination and having been in a place where I really wanted to be, with people who really cared about me and appreciated me and ... well, validated me.

And if I hadn't been down there, I wouldn't have had all the quality time with Cody and Marquee and Sammy (the dog) that I had. I wouldn't have been able to see my oldest son on Mother's Day.

And before long my parents will be packing up the old homestead and home - that home - won't be home any more. So I'm glad I had a chance to go home while I could.

I don't always get why things happen like cancer and back pain and all that but I know that it's always part of the big master plan.

And sometimes, when all you can do is whisper someone's name... you do it... even when you're just whispering it to God. He hears it. I'm convinced.

Let's try this again tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What I Did Today/ Photo Dump

Is it too soon for another photo dump post? Because me and my camera left the compound today which always seems blogworthy.

Not only did I leave the house... but I drove into town on a Chamber of Commerce day with perfect just-beginning-to-be-fall weather and a gentle breeze blowing the leaves off the trees. I didn't actually get a picture of THAT scene, though. I was too busy keeping it between the lines... and ooohing and aaaahing over it all. And taking self portraits while driving.

The leaves aren't really a-changing yet but there are a few that are sort of looking that way. Don't want to cause a stampede of people trying to get into Helen before Fall is over - trust me, there's plenty of time. Space yourselves out. Honestly, the best part of being here is being here for those little bursts of beauty minus the traffic of a leaf watching weekend.

What else can I tell you about my day?
Spider web outside my window
Mom stained the other side of the deck and I SWEAR that every time I tried to go to the bathroom she would holler for me for something or another. (only twice, but in Heather's land of dramatic exaggeration that's a lot)

We kept the windows open to let the fresh - and sorta slightly cool - air blow through. Cool enough that I changed out of shorts into a long skirt and put on socks.

The carpet tiles for the downstairs were delivered - a week early than expected and they were the wrong color. They're blue. We ordered brown. My mom is such a motivated do-it-yourselfer that I wouldn't be surprised to get up tomorrow morning to find that she decided to just go ahead and keep the blue rather than wait to exchange them.

Austin stopped by. He's still on "Logan's Mom Out of Town" vacay but had forgotten to take his wallet with him.
this morning on the lake

The satellite went out and I spent more than an hour trying to call and/or get a technician online. Turned out there was a "contract problem" in "our area" that led to the loss of every channel except the tv guide channel. I saved the transcript of my chat with the (un)helpful technician but I'm afraid my blood pressure would go up if I had to read it again. The problem was resolved after missing the first hour and a half of my daily Grey's Anatomy marathon. I don't watch much on tv any more. Those three hours of Grey's Anatomy are important.

I got a call from the disability lawyer's office letting me know that I'm going to be getting another questionnaire from Social Security so they made an appointment for a telephone call to help me complete that. It always makes me giggle when I get a phone call to schedule a phone call. I had sort of put the whole disability thing out of my mind for the past few weeks because honestly, if I thought about it more often it would make me crazy. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Mom and Oscar seeing me off this morning
I went to the grocery store for snacks because we were out of pretty much everything but popcorn and ice cream and I'm a snacker. I don't eat meals much because I just can't eat that much at a time any more but I like having a few munchies around. Would you be interested to know that I bought kitkats, sunflower seeds, fig newtons, pretzel rods, alouette cheese and a baguette for myself and Little Debbie Nutty Bars (for my mom). Not that mom can't eat my stuff. She just didn't request anything specific except the nutty bars. I also bought candy corn because it felt like Fall.

I took a lot of pictures on my drive home. You can see how wooded and forest-y it is. It's lovely during the day but sort of scary dark at night.

We heard voices from across the lake this afternoon. I mean, there are other houses besides ours but you never hear them.

And that's about it. Hope your Tuesday was delightful! Love and hugs! (more pictures to follow)

This is the closest store to us... Kudzu & Kooters... they sell bait and fresh eggs. What else could we need?

The long and winding road.... that leads... to our home...

I always want to go into abandoned houses but don't. 

Don't want to make the wrong turn....

from the top of the driveway...