My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Few More Things

Don't faint from shock that I'm blogging two days in a row... we all know that I can't stay quiet for too long and the cats make poor conversationalists.

The Palm Tree Theatre - a box that my niece Jamie turned into a "theatre" by adding a fabulous pink main curtain - is dark today. No little girls hanging around today and I miss them when they're gone. It's been quiet.

Except for Oscar's meltdown this morning while my parents were doing yard work. He yipped and cried and carried on but lately he's taken to taking off up the road and none of us here are especially quick. Especially uphill and everything here is uphill. Except for the lake, of course.

Photo of the Goose Convention in our yard the other day. All the cute little babies have grown up.

A little more on the evil gut pain... I got a suggestion that I just go into an ER seeking treatment. It's not that simple. While the ER is required to treat life threatening illnesses, they are not required or equipped to handle something that isn't life threatening. They might diagnose me - but that would be a costly diagnosis. Austin's little cut in his hand that required medical glue cost $200 and something dollars. They were told if they paid before they left the hospital that would be all that was owed so my dad paid it. And then we got a bill for an additional $600 from the hospital and a $600 bill from the ER physician - who didn't even TREAT HIM! The nurse glued him up. I plan to negotiate these bills but nevertheless, that's $1400 for a very minor superficial injury. If you added in ultrasound it's another grand easy, plus radiologist. And the bottom line is that if I have something like a cyst, they'll just refer me to a gyno - who will require payment up front to treat it. Georgia does have a Women's Health Medicaid program that will pay for breast cancer or cervical cancer. You have to apply through your county health department so I figure if I start out at the health department then I'm one step closer if that happens to be the case. It's so ridiculous to me that you could have brain cancer and not qualify for medicaid in Georgia but if you have even a precancerous cervix then you're covered. It's crazy selective. And potentially fatal.

*end of rant*

Since Austin hasn't been around lately I've been falling asleep in the living room watching tv, either on the couch or Jamie's nest (which is quite cozy, actually). Every night I tell myself that I'm going to turn off the tv and go get in my bed and then I just don't. It doesn't affect how I sleep but it does usually mean that I wake up whenever my mom opens the basement door to let the cats in (we close the door at night to keep Lily, the old dog, from wandering downstairs). It's just so nice to drift off watching tv.

Lately we've had an issue with cats vomiting all over the place. It hit Eddie one night last week where he threw up about a dozen times in the space of an hour. Today Stubby threw up right on the pillows/mattress of Jamie's nest. He climbed onto the mattress to throw up... I'm like "WHY DID YOU GET ON THE MATTRESS???" Little Kitty doesn't throw up and if he does, it's from a hairball not from overeating like the two older, greedy cats.

If you're watching Big Brother how sick are you of Caleb? He's giving a bad name to the good people of Kentucky by being so durn ignorant about Amber's feelings for him. My favorites are Frankie, Donny and Nicole but I wouldn't mind if Derrick, Cody or Jocasta won. I know people think it's been a boring season because the houseguests have mostly all gotten along this year but I really have enjoyed their peace and harmony.

I'm also loving this new season of Who Do You Think You Are.

I guess that's about it for today. Nice chatting with you! Love and hugs, y'all!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Monday and Tuesday

I'm watching PBS - a docu-drama about Pompeii that oddly stars the guy who plays Carson on Downton Abbey as this important Roman figure. It's a step up or down, depending on your perspective from the three hours of Bachelorette finale I watched last night. Let's just say I'm diverse. 

I have a few things to share (for once) so this will not be a blog entry about the adorable antics of my cats (although they are still as cute as ever). 

Yesterday my niece Sarabeth needed to see the dentist about an odd protuberance in her gum. It was essentially where a baby tooth had broken off and the gum had grown through it. She needed to see the dentist but dad was in New Orleans working on his doctorate and mom was working in Atlanta. They asked if I could take her and of course, I'm not doing anything else, so why not? Also, Sarabeth and I have always had a really frank relationship. If something is going to hurt, I'm going to tell it will hurt. She trusts me. And I always - even when she was just a toddler - I have always spoken to her like she is an intelligent human being, because she is. Who better to take her than someone she can trust? 

She had a lot of anxiety about the whole tooth thing but I told her honestly what can happen if you have something wrong and don't fix it - using the example of Pop's abscessed tooth from a few weeks ago. So when the dentist (who was amazing) gave Sarabeth the option of having it pulled yesterday or having it pulled later, Sarabeth made the mature decision to go ahead and take care of it. She was incredibly brave. She had one tearful moment of anxiety but her sister was playing court jester to entertain her and I just reassured her that it was not going to be that bad. I also gave her chapstick because the worst part of having extensive dental work is feeling like your lips are pulling apart. The ladies at the dental office teased me about being the worst aunt ever but Sarabeth and I agreed that we make a good dental visiting team. 

So that was exciting. More pictures to follow.

Before the dentist we went by the library to pick up some books they had on hold for Sarabeth. While we were there Jamie started having a bad allergy attack to the extent that she was in the library bathroom with a wet paper towel trying to ease her irritated eyes. We needed to go by and pick up benadryl for Jamie before taking Sarabeth to the dentist but it was taking SooooOOOooo long at the library that we were going to be late. The librarian, bless her heart, told me to meet her in the conference room where she kindly offered us some benadryl. She didn't want to do it out in the open, just in case someone objected. This is small town life, y'all. People take care of each other. So the good news is that Jamie was quickly much better and we made it to the dentist on time. The bad news is that she was trippin' on sunshine at the same time her sister was high on gas. The two of them were HI-LAR-IOUS! 

And this happened:
Sarabeth: I feel so weird... like I'm spinning.
Aunt Heather: Like you're drunk? Oh wait. You wouldn't know. 
Hysterical laughing ensues. 

And the short version of the story is that she did fine. It was not painful. She was very brave. I quickly wiped up a tiny drop of blood that dribbled from her chin before she saw it so she wouldn't freak out but really, she had stopped bleeding before we got home (much quicker than myself or Mawmaw usually do) and she felt well enough to have a hamburger for dinner last night.

Today was my doctor appointment. The liver thing is no big deal. Elevated schmelevated, apparently. I have a kidney infection which apparently was bad enough that the doctor couldn't believe I didn't have symptoms. My back hurts all the time, I always pee a lot, I mean, nothing different. We debated antibiotics. They can't do a shot- which is what works best for me - so we're going to do a course of amoxicillin and not be surprised when that doesn't work. After some poking and prodding he thinks the evil gut pain is an ovarian cyst. He couldn't do a full exam so he told me to go to the county health department. 

I called the county health department and they don't have funding for pelvic exams for women who are not able to bear children. Do you realize what this means? Our government is more concerned about people being able to be sexually active and use birth control than they are about potentially life saving exams for people who are potentially ill. It is just another insult to add to the multitude on insults that healthcare has become for me. People having sex is more important than my life. I can pay for the exam - $115 - and I will, probably but she then went on to explain how if anything is wrong they can't help me. Yeah. I get it. The flip side is that if I went to a gyn as a new patient without insurance it would be probably double that so I figure I'll go and at least accomplish as much as I can there and go from there. It's just insulting and so very hard to keep fighting. Honestly, I could just keep suffering through the evil gut pain as I've been doing for a year. Except for the fact that my aunt is battling cancer and it just doesn't seem prudent not to do my best to have it checked out. 

The doctor I saw today asked me why I had waited so long... I'm like... waited? I pay a pain doctor a huge amount of money every 2-3 months and there was nothing more he could do without doing the whole abdominal work up, i.e. MRI, etc which I couldn't/can't afford. He said, "why would you see a pain doctor for that? they treat chronic pain." NO, jackass, I tried to get the doctor to whom I was spending the last of my life's savings for pain to diagnose a secondary pain issue. I mean, this is the second time I've seen this guy and this is not the first time I've told him about this pain. This was the first time he examined me and felt anything. So. Just frustrating. I'll leave at that. It's hard enough to be in the lowest caste of people as far as healthcare is concerned without having a doctor who KNOWS you don't have insurance or money give you a hard time for not being able to get medical treatment. Anyways. 

Jamie and Sarabeth had been hanging out with me this afternoon before I had to leave for the doctor and to my surprise, Jamie decided to organize my living room for me while I was gone. Nothing beats the organizational skills of a nine year old! Every time I reach for something I crack up again... like reaching for a tissue and I realize they're not on my end table, they're with the paper towels. Paper products go together. My laptop was in a box marked, "electronics" and she had gathered up things that she thought should go in my bedroom and made a box for them in there - with dirty socks and sunscreen and hair bands. All the different air fresheners and scented candles are together on the end table. Everything I look for means thinking about it through Jamie's perspective and it. is. FUNNY! I mean, she really worked hard at it! Check out my "food and food supplies" above! 

Austin is still hanging out with the girlfriend. Haven't seen him in a week. 

I quit playing Farmville2 on Friday and have been so relieved not to feel obligated to keep it up. It literally takes about four hours a day and ... I just couldn't. Instead I've been going to Khan Academy's website and listening to lectures on history. That's right up my alley. After I finish their history courses I'm going to check out art history. And I picked up two books from the library in Helen while I was there with the girls yesterday.

Anyways. It's been an action packed past two days and I'm planning to do a lot of nothing tomorrow. I have to pick up my prescriptions and ... that's it. The heat liked to kill me today and oral antibiotics always make me sick so I'll be even more of a hermit until that's done. 

Happy Tuesday. The week goes on... 
Love and hugs, y'all! 

As promised, more cute kid pictures:
I have pictures of her as a baby making this exact same face. This is her "I'm not giving you a clue what I'm thinking" deadpan.
 Sarabeth trippin' on gas, Jamie trippin' on benadryl - you can see how red her eye is!
After the verdict that the tooth must come out, just prior to meltdown.

 Hard to think about the needle in your gums when your sister is doing this!

Classic bunny ears photo... 

It wasn't too long after this that Sarabeth said, "it's ok, Jamie, you can go sit with Mawmaw in the waiting room". Right after Jamie shrieked and covered her eyes when they stuck a big ole needle in sister's gum. Before the dentist struck again she said, "Jamie, are you ready?" And Bethy said, "it's ok, Jamie, you can go". They're such great sisters. And great nieces. And a great blessings.... which are probably filed in a box somewhere with my bible... 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Wrap Up

Hey y'all! Time to play the "sorry I haven't blogged all week" song again. I don't know that I have anything ground breaking to share but I knew it was time for a welfare check with my mother hens and blogger babes.

After the fall on Sunday I was uber sore and moving around even less than usual. I just planted my happy butt on the loveseat and stitched to my heart's content. Here's the progress of my latest project after one week:

Today is two weeks and I have added a bunch more on it. It's a big piece but that means there are big chunks of fabric that are all the same color so it's easy to just chug right along without having to continually glance back and forth with my pattern. I am stitching more than I'm surfing and it has been a nice retreat.

This is at the end of week two. Doing the trees is hard because there are three colors in random patterns. There are also a lot of spots where you just have a stitch here and there of one color. It looks like I'm not doing things in a specific order but what I do is use one strand of thread at a time - like, the thread comes in a long piece that you end up cutting in half and then dividing the six strands into three sections (you use two strands at a time). That makes six sections of any one color at a time. If I'm not sick of that color I'll do another six but most of the time I switch to another color. (This may have been the most boring paragraph I've ever written).

I'm debating leaving Farmville2 because as I've progressed in the game it has become a huge timesuck and most of the time I'm playing it out of obligation not because I'm enjoying it. I'd rather devote more time to things that matter like my genealogy stuff and bible study and - I don't know. It has just started to feel like a job not a hobby. Whereas I can't WAIT to start stitching in the morning and I hate it at night when I'm tired and start making mistakes and have to quit.

Austin was with us a couple of nights this week. Two, maybe. He came and did some yard work and was semi-helpful around the house and then he headed back to his girlfriend's house.

I took some funny pictures of Little Trouble Kitty being all stealth in a clothes basket that my mom had put on the landing of the basement stairs. Every night around 7:30 we gather all the kitties in the basement and have "nummy time" where they get their treats and close the door heading into the house. The reason for this is to keep Lily (who is still hanging in there despite her cancer diagnosis over a year ago) from coming downstairs. She can't go UP stairs so someone has to walk her around the house up the hill when she escapes. During the day we keep a baby gate at the top of the stairs, sort of propped against the doorway so there is enough room for the cats to get through. Lily has lost so much weight that she can slip through herself but the gate does discourage her slightly. However, at night if she comes down it's really hard to guide her up the hill because she doesn't see well and when it's dark outside, it's really dark (no street lights). Anyways... one night Little Kitty was on some kind of secret mission to watch and see if the door opened up again. He kept peeking out at me then peeking up the stairs to look at the door. And I guess he thought since Mawmaw carries the basket up the stairs that she might carry him.



Stubby got sick the other night and threw up ALL OVER the mattress on the floor by the hearth. I used to be a champ at cleaning up disgusting bodily fluids but for some reason since my kids are grown I can't stomach it. I was heaving like crazy. I'd dab up a bit of it and then have to run for the bathroom. Keep in mind that I was moving slower than normal because of my fall and so that whole process of bending over and then running away was no picnic in the park.

Another night Oscar the dachshund got upset because my parents went out in the boat WITHOUT him. He is constantly with one or the other of my parents and he loves the lake and loves riding in the boat. He was climbing in my lap for comfort and then tried to climb OVER me to the table behind the loveseat. That table is  literally just propped up - one of the legs is broken and you can't put any weight on it without it collapsing. So I was reaching back over my head trying to pull 16 pounds of chubby dachshund back to my lap. I finally hollered for Austin and he came and intervened in the doggie meltdown.

I can literally do nothing all day and still - just by chance and happenstance - end up doing things that aggravate the fragile state of my spine. I try to be as careful as I can but life happens.

On Wednesday this week I took my mom to the doctor while dad was down in Atlanta taking care of Grandma's errands with her. It was uncomfortable but not excruciating. Then we went shopping at Dollar General because I was out of shampoo and conditioner and a few other necessities. Dollar General is preferable to Walmart because it is so much smaller and involves less walking but we still manage to find all kinds of fun things there.

Yesterday while Pop was golfing my mom decided we needed to treat ourselves to going out for lunch. Driving thru for lunch,  I should say because I hate sitting on hard surfaces and we took Oscar with us so he wouldn't be scared at home by himself. We got Chick-fil-a and the nice girl in the drive-thru gave Oscar a dog biscuit. He was like, "Chickfila is now officially my favorite place in the whole world!". And it kept him from sticking his snout into our food.

We have a baby pumpkin growing on a vine right beside my porch.

And that's life in Cedar Holler this week. Hope your week have been lovely! Love and hugs, y'all!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Answer Me This

Linking up with Kendra at Catholic All Year for her weekly feature: Answer Me This.

Before that... let me tell you about my graceful swift descent to the floor yesterday morning... that's right, all (undisclosed number) pounds of me went from vertical to horizontal in one hot, painful second. I landed mostly on my left knee but any sudden jolt to my spine is not just painful, it's dangerous. I've been in much more pain since then but the scariest part is the new spots of numbness. My spinal stenosis means that there are nerves that are always close to being compressed. Falling changed that delicate environment back there and I'm having wicked muscle spams and twitches that are brand spanking new to this game. The pain is standard operation procedure around here. The numbness is usually *mostly* avoidable as long as I don't stand too long or sit upright compressing the nerves. Since yesterday, I can't find a position where I don't go numb. It stinks.

Anyways. So there's that. I also received an anonymous donation from a blog reader that was sent through my mom. I don't know who you are but I thank you very much for your generosity. My parents have gone over and above in making sure I not only have everything I need but also pretty much anything I want. I thought that once the money ran out I would be devastated and honestly, I haven't missed out on anything. However... being able to have a little jingle in my pocket to help pay for meds and doctor appointments and all that jazz lifts a burden of guilt off my shoulders so thank you, whoever you are. I pray that God returns your gift to you ten fold!

I was too lazy/tired/doped up on pain meds to add photos to this blog entry so I'm posting a picture of my very handsome oldest child and his furbabies. I miss you, Boo! Love you!

Now... on to those probing questions:

1. What’s your favorite thing on YouTube?
Hands down, no contest, my favorite YouTube videos are the ones that Alfie Boe and Matt Lucas made together. Alfie is the gorgeous English tenor who played Jean Valjean in the 2010 25th anniversary presentation of Les Mis. If you search for him you will find an 11 minute clip of the sitzprobe for the musical and you will find out why I love his voice. 

If you can find the video of Alfie Boe and the very, very funny Matt Lucas doing basically a karaoke version of "He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother".  Basically anything that shows Alfie and Matt together is hilarious. If you need a pick-me-up, these two are better than any drug. 

2. Who taught you to drive?
Welll.... you see.... at fifteen we didn't own a vehicle that was automatic and I didn't have the guts to drive a stick. By the time I was seventeen I was dating my first husband and he drove everywhere. Then I got pregnant and I was too afraid of doing something that would harm my baby. And then I had Ryan and felt this huge burden of mortality and didn't want to learn to drive then. Long story short... I got my license when I was 21 by the skin of my teeth and the grace of a small town examiner but I didn't really drive until I was 28. It was a slow, slow process. Nobody REALLY taught me to drive. My first husband, maybe, just a little but really I was self-taught. I'm 46 and I've never gotten a ticket or been in an accident where I was at fault so... my method is apparently effective. 

3. What’s your favorite thing to cook?
My not-yet-famous chicken sausage with kale and orzo - complete instructions here 

4. Are you a hugger or a non-hugger? Why?
I am a hugger of those who like to be hugged. My youngest son is not a hugger so I don't press him to do it. My niece Sarabeth will suffer a hug but she doesn't hug back so I tease her and say, "you're just suffering through it, HUG ME BACK!". My Jamie doll and her mama are both the sweetest huggers in my life and I don't know what I would do without those hugs. They sustain me. I was raised in a non-hugging family and Angie (my sis-in-law) turned us into huggers. She has added so much to our family over the years but hugs are probably the best thing she has given us. 

5. Where do you pray best?
In my car. When I worked every drive to work (and many drives home) were a constant conversation with God. It was the perfect time because I was uninterrupted. Now I have so much time on my hands but I don't have any disciplined moment of the day for prayer. Typically now it comes when I take a sunshine break on the back patio or when I'm drying my hair (because nobody talks to you when you're drying your hair.) I need to be more consistent with my time alone with God. 

6. When is the last time you saw/spoke to your grandparents?
Granddaddy Pennington (mom's dad) passed away in June 1978 from brain cancer. I was staying with them off and on while he was sick and we had a lot of conversations - not about death - but about how many cartwheels I could do and that sort of thing. He went into the hospital a couple of weeks before he died and I never saw him then, nor did I go to his funeral. The hope was that by not being exposed to those things, I would only remember him well and for the most part, that's true. He was a very special man to me. 

Grandma Pennington died in May of 1998. I'm not sure when my last conversation with her was. I don't even know if I went to the hospital during her last hospitalization because by that time I had three kids and a less than cooperative husband. 

Granddaddy Gant left the family in the early 50's and no one heard from him again after that. By the time we tracked him down he had been dead for several years. He was very interested in theatre and had a interior design job and I think I would have been able to find common ground with him if I had ever met him. 

Grandma Leta is still living. I got a card from her last week thanking me for my hard work on our genealogy and managing her archives. She sent me a little check (which I passed on to my dad to help cover some of the money he's spending on me). She also gently reminded me that she was still waiting on me to complete the DAR applications for the five new DAR ancestors I've located. Dad lost the forms but I didn't want to rat him out to his mom so I'm going to see if I can find them online. 

And that's all I've got, y'all. If you'd like to chime in and answer any/all of these questions to post on your blog (or my blog, if you like) or on facebook or whatever. I love feedback however it comes! 
Hope you all had a great weekend. Love and hugs, y'all!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Zucchini and Liver

My favorite blessing is, "Lord we thank you for this food, we know you are the giver. But Lord we thank you even more that we ain't having liver". 

I used to work with an old black woman who said that you get a bad liver from being a bad "liver". 

And this is only relevant because yesterday I went in for my third blood draw to check my liver because apparently, mine is doing something funky. 

My first labs back in April showed elevated liver enzymes. The doctor said, "let's repeat your blood test again in May and July and see if it was a fluke". I mean, certainly abnormalities happen, even with fasting blood tests. I did an abbreviated search of "elevated liver enzymes" to see what Dr. Google had to say on the subject but honestly, didn't worry about it TOO much. 

Yesterday I asked for a copy of the April and May blood tests so that I could study/compare and be ready for my appointment in two weeks. The nurse said she'd have to check with the clinic director to see if she could give me a copy. I didn't push or demand that she give them to me because, yes, legally I have a right to them and it shouldn't be a big deal but everyone that is working at the clinic is a volunteer and probably not really knowledgeable about clinic procedures and I didn't want to cause a problem. She did volunteer to look at them with me and the first thing she said was, "wow, that liver result could be a problem". Just what I needed to hear. Because I was hoping that it was not a big deal and that the elevated number from April had resolved itself by May. 

So when I came home I did some more research on the elevated liver thing and there are just so many things that could cause it an a lot of them are really no big deal at all. The main thing the causes it is alcoholism and I am certain that's not my problem. I probably consume adult beverages on average 2 or 3 times a year. A year, seriously. 

Another potential is prescription drug usage. My pain doctor reviewed my meds in May when I asked about the elevated liver thing and said that nothing they prescribed me would cause liver problems. There is a cholesterol drug that I take that is linked to liver issues but I had not been taking that for the three or four months before the first lab test that had elevated numbers. So... not that. Obesity can cause elevated liver enzymes and that could be it. And of course there are a variety of true liver issues that could be the source of the problem.

The frustrating part of this to me is that other than what they can do with lab work in the clinic they don't have the ability to fund any true diagnostic procedures. There may not be a way to find out if there is anything wrong until I eventually have insurance. In the state of Georgia medicaid was not expanded with Obamacare so if you didn't qualify before, you don't qualify now. Georgia does have women's health medicaid that covers things like breast cancer but if you are a woman with a condition that doesn't fall under those women's health care issues then you are just out of luck. So basically I can only know that something is wrong but not know WHAT is wrong and how serious it is or have any early intervention. It's truly demoralizing. I can eat healthier, "cleaner" food so that my liver doesn't have to work as hard to clear toxins from my blood stream and... just hope for the best. 

There are so many random things wrong with me that are a problem but not potentially fatal... like my tachycardia and my lung granulomas and the granuloma in my sinuses and just so. much. stuff. This is probably the same - it won't kill me, it just makes living harder. And that's all I'm going to say about that because it's upsetting. 

In other news... mom picked a zucchini from the garden and left it on my kitchen table and the cats got into it. It turns out that cats really REALLY like zucchini. I spread the photos out throughout this entire blog entry because that's the best of what I've got to show today. Trouble stood proudly by his big hunk that he was hogging while Stubby tried to sit on all the tiny pieces he had scattered around. Trouble got upset with me when I sat down and started picking the pieces out of the carpet and decided my paper towel was his personal platter instead of trash. He even nipped at me when I tried to take it away. 

What's new with you? 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Newsday Tuesday

Kids in a raft on the dock (while waiting to launch). 
I'm taking a break from my cross-stitching marathon to say hello and share a few things. The malady of the day is a migraine in my typical pattern - pain, dizziness, blurry vision - it's a blast. Advil helps a little but these headaches just have to run their course. I just kinda settle in and accept it. That's what I've done today. I worked on long straight lines on my cross-stitch so I didn't have to worry about exact counts.

Austin and his girlfriend have been working in VBS at her church this week. He is surprisingly good with kids, probably because he is just a big kid himself. Tasha is teaching a class and Austin is helping with games. Last night they did something like musical chairs. One little girl with Downs Syndrome got attached to him. She gave him a hug and melted his heart. The middle school he went to in Florida specialized in autism - they divided their special ed kids by disorder instead of geographically which meant that the staff knew a lot more about that disorder than most teachers. It was a great system but would only work in a large school system. At any rate, since he was high functioning autism he was mostly in the regular classroom but was able to go to the special ed class when he was out of sorts and needed "time out". Being in class with the kids who were profoundly autistic really made him compassionate toward kids who are different. I see that in him still and thought it was really sweet that he bonded with this little girl. She reached for him while her daddy was holding her - she was about two - which, like I said,  melted his heart. There were two little girls from our church there and they both were tickled to see "Auggie" which is what Sarabeth and Jamie (and most of our family) call him.

My nieces spent the day with us yesterday. I was having an off day and would tell you that I was probably not fun at all for them but... we watched High School Musical and High School Musical 2, they went to pick up Zaxby's for lunch with Pop, they went out on the lake with Mawmaw and Pop and played games together. Jamie brought out Pop's paint supplies and made a huge mural in the style of Jackson Pollack on a big piece of cardboard we had. I made a comment about it looking like a Jackson Pollack and she said, "yes, but he wasn't a good person. I think he did drugs or something." Discussing art with a nine year old - pretty funny. And true, for the most part. He died while driving drunk. Ultimately the picture ended up looking more Picasso than Pollack but... anyways.

Another funny thing... Pop picked up Zaxby's for lunch for us all. Jamie and Sarabeth ate adult meals and my mom and I ate kids' meals. The kids' meal was plenty for me and Jamie ate every bite of her adult meal. What was funnier was Jamie "taking orders" before they left. She said she wanted a big zax snack and I told her I wanted a small zax snack. She said, "then you want a kid's meal because there's not a small snack". She was right.

I'm watching The Bachelorette for the first time this season and it's about like reading the National Enquirer. You know it's complete bunk but you can't help yourself. I think there are like two more episodes and she'll pick her guy. They did this thing last night where she has the opportunity to invite guys to the "Fantasy Suite" which was essentially like inviting them to spend the night. I don't know... it just seemed a little... I don't know... creepy... that she took two guys there on subsequent nights. I guess it felt like Sister Wives without the kids. It was more than I wanted to know about their dating process. It's kinda like the two nudist communities here off our street - one is just a place where people hang around without clothes (and most of them are people you would NOT want to see naked) and the other is a place where they're naked and doing stuff, like a sex club. Club Med for pervs. It's like you just don't want to know people are doing that half a mile from your house.

Jamie & Sarabeth showing why a mattress in the living room is good. 
Big Brother has been good this season. I won't bore you with details because either you're watching it and you know what's going on or you're not watching and couldn't care less. They show two hours in the house overnight so I DVR it and watch it in the morning while I'm "farming" on Farmville 2. Is it any wonder I have little to blog about? Seriously, there is very little content here.

Other than those two reality tv shows I've been pretty much a PBS and CSpan junkie. I could tell you a lot about what I've been watching on PBS but I'll save that for another day.

The headache is winning. Time to stop focusing for a few minutes. Happy Tuesday! Love and hugs, y'all!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Every blog entry I start to write feels so oppressive and depressing that I just close blogger and go on to something else. See... I am so incredibly fortunate to be where I am, to have the amount of family support that I have that it feels wrong to come here and complain about how I'm feeling. But... I know you wonder and I know you come here because you want to know how I'm doing. I don't want to be a downer. I don't want to be the whiny blog that you avoid because you just can't stand to hear the same sad song. Truly, it's hard to wake up every day facing a day of discomfort and isolation and uncertainty. When I say that I don't mean that I want to stop waking up... because that's not the case even in the least. I just lay down at night knowing that a good night's sleep is just pressing the restart button on whatever pains the next day brings. It's hard. That's all.

Here's the thing - if you took pain out of the equation I'd have to say that I'm at a very peaceful, happy point in life. I'm not feeling any romantic ambivalence... "does he really like me?" or "is he the right guy?" or "should I give that relationship another chance?" all that drama that has plagued me most of my adult life in the grand search for Mr. Right. I always prayed that God would either bring the right guy into my life or allow me to be content as a single person and I'm honestly, one hundred percent content. I can't imagine inflicting the instability of my medical situation on someone who would love me and be concerned about me and have to base their lifestyle around the things that I can't do - which is a lot. It feels so perfect to not have that.

I feel at peace about my kids. Yes, I want Austin to find a job and be more responsible but the heavy sadness that was hanging over our heads for awhile has dissipated. He's in a happy relationship and is spending a lot of time with her family. Please don't think me a bad mom for saying that I'm glad that he's not home as much. I love my kids. I love spending time with them. I just don't love spending ALL my time with them. That's all. Cody's doing well at work and happy in his marriage. Ryan and Sara are doing well (last I heard). As much as I don't want or need a romantic relationship for myself, I need for my kids to be happily coupled and they are.

Living with my parents is not bad at all. I'm so glad that we get to spend time together but that this house is big enough that we're not tripping over each other. I love this house, leaks and all. I love our gorgeous yard and the lake. I have never lived anywhere that I have enjoyed as much as I enjoy living here. And as a bonus my dad does a lot of cooking and he is a great cook. Homemade pimento cheese with red pepper flakes and potato chips on white bread... how can you not love that? I don't eat that unhealthy most of the time. I'm still working hard to make sure I get in all my servings of fruits and veggies every day and I am still anti-Debbie. The kids brought me some kitkats and skittles the other day so I've been sugaring more than usual but... for the most part it's Good Eats around here.

I love shopping with my mom... who always insists that I get something for myself. I love grocery shopping with my dad as we plan meals for HIM to cook during the week. I am spending time with them that few adults get to have with their parents and they take care of everything I need. I spent my entire adult life struggling financially and worrying every month about keeping the rent paid and the lights on and the car in the driveway and it's nice to not have those things hanging over my head. I'm anxious about getting a response from social security - and I can't even imagine what I'll do if it's ultimately a no - but this wait could be SO much worse than it is.

Without sounding like a crazy cat lady, I am so grateful that my cousin picked out Little Trouble Kitty for me three years ago. I've never had a pet that I enjoyed or adored as much. He's really my best buddy and constant companion. He's the perfect pet for me and I treasure him. I even enjoy the rest of the herd, both dogs and cats (although I couldn't care less about the fish). They enrich our lives and I'm glad to be able to have the luxury of fur babies.

Honestly. I add these things up daily along with so many other things and I am grateful for this season of life. I really am. I'm glad to be able to spend time with my nieces. I'm loving the time to indulge in hobbies like cross stitch and genealogy. It's fun to be a couch potato and to expand my mind with hours and hours of CSpan and PBS. There is so much good in my life... but it hurts so bad. And it doesn't hurt the same way every day. One day it's the evil gut pain. One day it's a migraine. One day it's my lower spine. Always something. Hardly ever a day - or even an hour - completely pain free. And it's not just the pain - it's what the pain takes from me like the ability to carry on an intelligent conversation because I'm so distracted. It's the inability to go places and see people and do things and the isolation that brings. It's being 46 and knowing that I'm not ever going to be free of this pain. It's hard to connect with people because the world is a very different place for me than most people.

And then I compare my life and my non-fatal (as far as I know) pain to people who are suffering on a whole different level - people who are dealing with potentially fatal illness, people who don't have the freedoms I enjoy here in this country - people who don't have family to fall back on. I feel guilty about feeling sorry for myself at all.

That's the mental marathon I run every day. Dealing with the pain. Feeling grateful for the blessings in my life. Feeling frustrated by the limitations in my life. Feeling guilty for feeling bad for myself. And those things are the constant undercurrent of my life and I know I've said it here a thousand times in the past three and half years and I can't imagine why anyone would want to hear all that again.

So I close the blog and go work on my cross stitch.

The project I finished last Thursday is at the top of this page. My new project came in the mail on Friday and it is HUGE. It's going to take a long time to complete but it is a really neat family keepsake. It's my motivation for getting out of bed in the morning.

And that's the way it is. Hope you're having a great weekend... love and hugs all around!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Seventy Six Trombones Led The Big Parade...

Hello again from your twice a week blogger! Maybe I'll get back in the habit of articulating every day but lately I just don't have much that feels blogworthy.

I'm nearing the end of the big cross stitch project after four solid weeks of sewing every day. A new project is on it's way from a really awesome family tree that will combine my cross stitch hobby with my genealogy hobby which in my world = perfect! I'm *hoping* to make more than one piece out of that pattern if I'm not totally burned out on it by the time I finish the first one. I'll re-use the pattern and just buy more material and thread. We'll see.

Yesterday my nieces spent the day with us. Their Summer break has flown by - they go back to school exactly a month from yesterday. They will be in Myrtle Beach for a week between now and then but hopefully we'll get another day or two to hang out before they go back to school. Mawmaw wants to have a water day where we make a water slide in the backyard and swim in the lake. Aunt Heather is not keen on the whole lake swimming thing but so far nobody whose been in the water has suffered from it. I want to ride out to Sarabeth's middle school so we know exactly where it is whenever we need to pick her up and I figured we'd make a dollar store run while we're out and about... so we need them at least twice more before the Summer is over!

Yesterday was our musical theatre/crafts day. We watched Gypsy, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and The Music Man. I was a little unsure about showing Gypsy because at the end of the story Louise becomes a stripper but... she wasn't really a pole dancing-dollar bill collecting exotic dancer - it was very mild burlesque with her wearing more than most people wear to the beach. I ran it by my sister-in-law who had not ever seen it (!!!???!!!) and she checked the ratings which - it was made in the sixties and very clean cut as far as language and stuff - so she left it up to my judgment. The girls did have a lot of questions about why Louise decided to do burlesque and why she was mean to her mom in the end. It opened the door for a discussion about people who have their priorities wrong and want to be famous, even if they're doing something they shouldn't do. The girls felt like being in "show business" made everybody "mean" to each other in the end which is a conclusion that had never crossed my mind before. I think they enjoyed the story of Seven Brides the most although - they are totally my girls and noticed the fake backgrounds and poor production quality of it. They wouldn't TELL ME which they liked the best but they seemed to enjoy the music in The Music Man the most.

Bethy making a necklace
Mom had found a cool craft where you melt beads in a cake pan or cupcake pan and make suncatchers/Christmas ornaments. It smells horrendous but was a fun/cheap/easy craft and the reaction of the girls when they saw their melted creation made the smell totally worth it! Made me wish I could find shrinky-dinks to do with them. She also had beads with letters on them so the girls were able to string necklaces with some leftover embroidery thread that I had. Jamie found some cool crafting supplies on the top floor in the guest rooms - paint and foam shapes and just all kind of random things - so we started an art supply box for her. I'll have to remember to save her some toilet paper rolls and random things to use. I have a big (but dwindling) supply of sharpies and random pens. She likes making things. Sarabeth is always sort of nonchalant about doing things in the beginning but once Jamie has made something she gets into it and enjoys herself.

Pop took Jamie out to pick veggies from the garden yesterday morning and she skipped in all happy and excited about her basket of produce. She has so much enthusiasm about everything she does, it's contagious. Pop made the girls black beans and rice for lunch (which is one of their favorite meals) and went to town to pick up extreme moosetracks ice cream for Jamie because she loves it and we were out. It's a shame all my nieces and nephews don't live close by because my parents spoil grandkids rotten!

We put a single mattress down by the stone hearth in my living room to make a cozy nest for the girls. It takes up a little space but not much and it is a really cushy place to lay and watch tv. I've crashed on it myself once or twice. I don't have a tv in my bedroom and I love watching tv while I'm falling to sleep. Lately my habit has become falling asleep on either the mattress or the couch and then transferring to the bedroom halfway through the night. I wake up once or twice during the night anyways.

The only downfall to having a nice cozy place in the middle of the room is that the cats enjoy sleeping on it (especially Stubby who has trouble climbing on to the other cozy spots around the house since he's missing a leg). The cats got into the habit of sleeping there but when Jamie is here they can't. She's highly allergic to cats. We keep her blankets and pillows packed away in a closed trash bag when not in use so that they are as fur free as possible in a house with six pets. In between visits we wash her stuff and put it back in the bag until she's here again. It seems to work pretty well and she hardly ever has any reaction to being around the pets when she's here. Yesterday, however, Stubby kept wanting to get in Jamie's nest with her and we kept having to evict him, poor trick.

So far it looks like my tick bite won't be fatal. There are two spots from the bite that are a little red but no rash or any of the other symptoms of anything that looks potentially life-threatening. My pain level has been a little better this week than last and although I'm still dragging, I'm not feeling the overwhelming exhaustion that I had last week. Usually when the girls are here I am up and about more and always have a boomerang day of exhaustion afterwards but since yesterday was fairly sedentary, I'm ok today. Most of the tracking up and downstairs was my mom, getting craft supplies and snacks and drinks and so forth.

Anyways... it was awesome to spend time with the girls and today it's awesome to have a quiet day to watch my adult programming and nap at will. Hope your week is going well! Love and hugs!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

4th of July

David, Marquee, Craig (dressed that way on purpose) and Cody
Hello and goodbye 4th of July weekend 2014! The weekends fly by even if you don't work, who would have thunk it?

Cody and Marquee and their friends Craig and David came and spent the weekend with us. It's always fun having guests over. I particularly enjoy looking down at the lake and seeing my kids floating away a Summer afternoon. It's the kind of backyard that every grandparent should have... a place to fish and swim and boat and pick blackberries. We had fireworks at dusk last night and grilled out burgers and hot dogs for supper. The "kids" (who are all in their twenties) hung out down in the Whine Cellar with me last night until I finally had to give them the boot around midnight with a "if you want me to cook breakfast in the morning you're going to have to let me get some sleep!"  Days like that are a reward for hanging in there through the rough days... and lately there are way more rough days than good ones.

I got up this morning and made Cody's favorite breakfast - "cookhouse eggs". I got the recipe from a book we got years and years ago by saving up points from cigarette packs (not mine, of course!). You cube potatoes and put them on to boil while cooking a package of bacon in an iron skillet. Maybe you could use another kind of skillet, but I wouldn't. Once the bacon is done and the potatoes are a little soft but not crumbling or mushy you take the bacon out of the skillet and put the potatoes in it to crisp. Once the potatoes are crisp/brown you crack a few eggs over the whole deal and stick it under the broiler until the eggs are at your desired level of doneness (is that a word?). Crumble the bacon and put it over the potatoes and eggs with some shredded cheese. My kids have always loved this but it's a real labor intensive meal - what with the peeling potatoes and waiting for all the bacon to cook and all that. It takes way longer than I can stand to stand but SO worth it! Bacon frying is the one alarm clock that never fails to wake my kids, even now.

I didn't sleep well last night. At some point last night I discovered a tick on my shoulder and I was really freaked out by it. All the symptoms of diseases that ticks can cause are the kind of things that I already deal with on a weekly if not daily basis. There are two places on my arm/shoulder that are red and warm to the touch and my right arm is bothering me but it's too early to have developed any tick-borne disease already so it's more'n'likely just fibromyalgia - which has been flaring up pretty badly over the past week or so anyways.

I am *almost* finished with my cross stitch project and ordered a new one yesterday from The next one is a sampler with a family tree that goes back a couple of generations and I'm really excited about doing it. I found a few other projects that I'd like to do but I know myself well enough to know that if I feel obligated to do it I'll lose the enjoyment of it. For that reason I'm not stocking up on projects because I don't want to feel like there's a backlog.

Anyways. Cross stitch, Big Brother, same stuff going on as the last time I checked in with y'all. Lack of content means I need to toss in a lot of pictures. Hope you enjoy and I hope your 4th was everything you hoped! Love and hugs, y'all!

Mama and Daddy keeping "the spark" in their marriage... 

And... oops! It's gone. 

Little Trouble Kitty taking my granddoggie Sammy for a walk....


And... that's all folks! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What's Happening?

Hello blog readers! Sorry I've been MIA so much this Summer! Apparently all my creative juices are going into the cross stitch project I've been working on for almost three weeks. I've finished putting all the colored x's in and am now working on the outlining which is SUPER complicated. It's been good to have something to work on where I see progress every day since my life feels totally unproductive right now.

News from the nest: Austin has been mostly staying with his girlfriend. I miss him but don't miss him. He takes a lot of emotional energy from me and I always feel guilty when he doesn't do what has been asked of him. He eats a lot. He messes up dishes. I mean, it's simpler in many ways when he's not here. Of course, he also does a lot of things around the house like taking out the trash and keeping the yard up. When he's not here it's eerily quiet down here in the Whine Cellar but honestly... I love having time to myself without interruption. I love my kids and love to spend time with them BUT I also know that it's healthier for them to be hanging out with people their own age rather than spending all their time here with the old folks. And when I'm in pain I really just want to be left alone.

Over the past 4-5 days I've been in a bad fibro flare. What that means (at least in my case) is that my arms and legs feel like they're made of lead. Every step is painful. I'm exhausted but not in a way that sleep can fix. Sleeping is painful because if I stay in one place too long everything hurts. On Monday I drove my parents to the dentist and made a quick mini-trip to the grocery store and waited at the pharmacy for some prescriptions and by the time I got home I was in so much pain and so exhausted that I felt sick to my stomach and had to lay down for about an hour before it passed. It's not a matter of "pushing through". This is the stuff that stops you in your tracks and all you can do is weather the storm. I got a text from my cousin last night who was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia. She's all like, "do you sometimes feel like...?" and I'm all "gurl... you have NO idea!" Because unless you've been there, you can't even imagine the pain/exhaustion.

Pop ended up with an abscessed tooth that started Sunday. It took until Monday afternoon before we could get him in to see a dentist around here. Everybody was double booked. He was in so much pain and swollen and just miserable. He and mom stayed up all night Sunday night so they were exhausted. I was on the third (or fourth? I lost track) day of this current fibro flare so I was mostly worthless but Mom has gotten where she is not comfortable driving so I had to get him to the dentist and he really needed some soft things to eat so a grocery trip was unavoidable. I try to not go too many days without getting out of the house because it gets depressing so it was good for me to get out but I was unprepared for how absolutely wiped out I would be from it.

Today my mom has a doctors appointment. They started going to a new doctor back in May and he didn't bother to tell them that he was closing his practice at the end of June. So Mom has all these issues with passing out and her blood pressure randomly going way up or dropping suddenly and a lot of other health issues that really require frequent monitoring and all of a sudden she's without a doctor again. She started calling around the very few doctors up here who are covered by her insurance and nobody had an appointment until August or later. I always feel like medical care is out of reach for me because of not having insurance or money to pay but honestly, even with insurance and money to pay a doctor it's still hard to find a doctor (or dentist) up here. I don't know if it's because this is a small town or if it's a shortage of doctors in general but it was really frustrating on Monday trying to find a dentist who could see my dad immediately AND find a doctor who could see my mom this week. So she goes to the doctor this afternoon and my dad goes back again today for the dentist to do the work he couldn't do on Monday.

My biggest time suck right now is Big Brother. I read all the online recaps of the live feeds and every night I record Big Brother After Dark which is a two to three hour peek into what the houseguests are doing that they show every night. This is the first time I've ever had DVR and been able to actually watch ALL of BBAD. In the past I've tried to stay up and watch it but it's just on too late for me to see all of it. It's an interesting diversion for me. My favorites are Frankie and Donny, if you're watching.

We've had a couple of episodes of really hard rain over the past few days and water leaked into the Whine Cellar. Again. It wasn't as bad in the living room as last year so it seems like the planting and diversion of water has helped some but the bathroom had a ton of water and I've never seen that happen. Austin had water in his room as well. I guess it's one of those battles we'll always face and it's a small price to pay for living somewhere so beautiful.

I guess that's about all I have to share right now. I'm not feeling witty or articulate lately and I'm sorry to leave you guys without much interesting to read. It is what it is, I'm afraid. Happy July, y'all! Love and hugs!