Archive for the 'Foibles' Category



Cause and Effect

A while back I decided to try out one of the WordPress Daily Post’s challenges of the week which was to pick a random fact about your day, any fact, as long as it didn’t seem that interesting, and write about that in a way that would make it interesting.

Having no idea what in the world I would write about, I sat down and did a nonstop. And ended up with two posts. The first was Me vs the Space Time Continuum and the second is the following:

 

 

Today I had to suddenly interrupt my routine to spend half an hour cleaning big yellow fish oil stains out of my light blue pants and striped shirt.

It all started last week when I pierced the end of a fish oil capsule so I could squeeze the contents onto a saucer for Quigley to lick up….

No, wait… it actually started before that when I bought the fish oil capsules, the ones that were supposed to be burpless and odorless. They were two bottles for the price of one! That’s something like 180 capsules.

So I brought them home, poked one down Quigley’s throat, half fearing I was going to choke him to death, it was so big. And hard. These are for-people capsules but there is no way this side of heaven I would ever be able to swallow one of them (and once I’m actually in heaven I’m certain there will be no fish capsules to swallow, nor any need to!)

Anyway, he didn’t protest, so I sat down to eat breakfast and read the bottle – I always read the bottles, the packaging, signs… everything in sight… And thus I got to the part where it explains why this fish oil is burpless and odorless: because the capsule holding it doesn’t fully dissolve until it hits the small intestine.

But wait a minute. These are for people. People have a longer digestive cycle than dogs. By about three hours. What if it never dissolves and ends up as a “foreign body obstruction” in Quigley’s gut? [I have this paranoia about foreign body obstructions when it comes to Quigley if you recall. (If not, see Miscellaneous Update and Cut-off Paper Clips  from my old blog.)

So I decided to do an experiment. I got out two small bowls, put vinegar in one (because our stomach fluids are acidic) and water in the other. Then I dropped a capsule in each bowl and measured how long the capsules took to dissolve: about four hours for the one in water; more like 12 for the one in vinegar. Twelve hours?!

Fortunately Quigley was still alive after the experiment concluded, no foreign body obstruction, no several-hundreds-of-dollars worth of surgery bills from the vet… but it left me thinking it might be better if I just poked the caps open and squeezed out the oil for him to lick off a plate.

So that is what I was doing last week, when the capsule somehow twisted in my fingers just as I squeezed and squirted on my clothes… light blue shorts, light blue, white and black striped shirt. I put Resolve on the grease stains right away, then tossed the clothes into the washing machine. When they came out the stain were still there – just round dark spots on the fabric, the typical grease stain, not wildly noticeable. I wore them the next day, then tossed them into the dirty clothes where they sat for a week until my next laundry day. Which was today.

But when I pulled them out this morning intending to dose the stains with Resolve again… Aack! Those not so bad “grayish” stains had turned bright yellow. And expanded in size. And were not remotely unnoticeable.

Which necessitated the immediate interruption of my morning routine for an extended period of scrubbing, soaking, spraying on more Resolve, following that with a Fels Naptha scrub, to only the slightest effect. Finally I gave it up, tossed the clothes into the wash with the rest of today’s load. Alas, when the cycle finished, they remained unchanged.

So I applied more Resolve, more Fels Naphtha, helped along this time with my cleaning toothbrush… until I decided since none of that was doing the trick, and so put some Clorox for Colors right on the spots and washed them afterward. That worked. Sort of. The stains are still there but much fainter. Faint enough I can live with them now, though I’ll have to try more Clorox next time I wash them…

And the point of all this? It’s the Cat in the Hat sequence of cause and effect. One thing leads to another leads to another and suddenly instead of getting into the office in a timely manner to work on the book, I spend all morning messing with the laundry…

This sort of thing happens to me ALL THE TIME. I don’t understand. Why can’t things just be simple? Why are there always these hidden complications??

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Estate Taxes and a Photo

I’ve been working on gathering my mother’s medical expenses so I can have her taxes done and over the weekend realized that while I’d talked with people at her former employer — the City of Tucson — and they knew she had died, and that I was the Personal Representative, and that I had given them my address as her mailing address… that was the retirement department. Not the Tax Forms department. And last week the forwarding order at the Post Office expired (I realized that today) so if they don’t have the correct address (the Social Security Administration didn’t) it won’t get forwarded.

So tomorrow I’m going to have to call the City. Oh, joy. Oh, wonders. Oh happy day.

I already found a number for “Employee Records” in the phone book and that seeming like the appropriate place to call, I dialed it, just to see when they opened. I think it’s a fax line…

I also tried the number of the above mentioned retirement department person. I got a message saying she was no longer with the city.

So that leaves me with “Administration.”  I’m putting it all in the Lord’s hands. Father, do You really want me to spend all day talking to mindless bureaucrats, right hands and left hands that don’t know each other exists?  I shudder to recall when I tried to make headway with the insurance company last summer, passed back and forth between the same two people, who just kept saying, I’m sorry, I can’t help you.

But this is borrowing trouble. And didn’t I just say I’m giving it over to Him?

So I’ll leave off with it, and put up a picture of Quigley taken during our recent trip to Los Angeles. I especially like the way the leash is all in motion. Well Quigley’s pretty cool-looking, too…

Thoughts on Sleep Deprivation

I thought about doing a post on sleep deprivation, seeing as I am. I had to drive my husband to the hospital ER Sunday night so he could have a cut stitched up. We were there all night. Got home around 5:30 am. I went to sleep at 9 am and then woke up three hours later. I thought I might manage to nap in the afternoon, but for the most part I’m not a napper. So Monday I was operating on three hours of sleep.

I did better last night, but I think I’m probably at about 60%  Or I was earlier. The later it gets the more compromised I get. I feel tired. My eyes don’t want to focus on the screen. My brain feels like mush.

But I read a post today about blogging and how important it is to be consistent. You may have noticed my consistency has been lacking for some time now.  Except perhaps in the area of failing to post. I’ve been more consistent in that than anything.

Still, here I am and I am writing something. Unfortunately the article also said one’s posts should be substantive, not just a rambling stream of consciousness thing about what one did today. I fear I am very close to rambling.

I’m starting, though, to get a feel for what I’m like when I’m deprived of sleep:

Calling anyone on the telephone seems a task beyond my capability.

I can’t get my brain to do anything remotely creative… can’t write on the book, or write a blog post or even make a card.

I get irritable. Pessimistic. Self-condemning.

Small problems inflate into monstrous challenges.

I can’t talk. The words, which I know are there, won’t come up (reminds me of my computer while I’m waiting for a website to come up. Or the mail).

I am easily distracted.

I forget things.

I can, though, get on a roll of activity and do chores if I have a list of relatively routine things to do. Anything complicated and forget it.

So I’m probably foolish to even attempt to do a blog post right, now, but I’m also stubborn and there was that warning about being consistent. Besides I read a post today about how to come up with ideas for a post.  The author had a formula:

“What does (EXAMPLE) teach us about (SUBJECT)”.

You’re supposed to fill in the blanks and start writing. Thus,

What does [comparing apples and oranges] teach us about [ … sleep deprivation]?

Um… I have no idea. (I also seem to want to overuse ellipses, tonight…)

I’m not sure I’d have an idea even if I wasn’t sleep deprived. In fact, sitting here, trying to make something out of that, is making me more aware of the fact that my brain seems to have turned into a sock.  And the clock is ticking, bringing me ever closer to bed time and reminding me that I should be preparing for bed, or I’ll get there late, and be even MORE sleep deprived tomorrow.

So there you have it. A sleep-deprived persons “thoughts” on sleep deprivation…

But at least I’m posting again… and yes, I’m off to bed now…

TAW – Artist Dates

TAW is short for The Artist’s Way, and the picture here is one I took on my artist date to Reid Park. I’ve been moving along through the course, and have now done four official artists dates with another mini date thrown in. I was planning on going to the zoo last week, but got derailed when I got sick.

The other dates? The first involved going to Target for stickers, crayons and other fun stuff in the arts and crafts area… Julia Cameron’s contention is the our artist is a child and we should attempt to do things that the child in us would like. She suggested the sticker outing. I also found some cool scallop edged chipboard books that I’m going to use for a project recording my different dates — for 99 cents!  What was fun was going to the store for silly things, not really knowing what I was after, just going and looking for fun stuff and then buying it.

That element of frivolity and no direct goals seems to be what’s most fun for me at this point. My second date was the one I already wrote about to Reid Park. The third was making shell cookies.  That one turned out to be a disaster.

Awhile back I came across a blog post of Lisa Spangler, one of the Hero Artists, about these cloud cookies she’d received from a friend — butter cookies cut in the shape of clouds with their bottom edges drizzled with chocolate.  She did a fun little video of eating them. I thought they were really cool and immediately wanted to make some. The cloud cookie cutters were sold at a website called Herriott Grace, where the man uses salvaged wood to make various objects for cooking, like spoons, bowls, plates, cake flags, etc. And also the handle for the cloud cookie cutter, the tin portion of which was made for him by a tinsmith. Anyway, they were all out of cloud cookie cutters when I looked, so I put in my email to be notified. The cutters were, ahem, $15 each. Pricey, but they were so fun and I was lusting.

A few months later I got the alert that they had some cookie cutters so I hurried to the website, clicking on the “buy it now” button only to discover that for some reason I couldn’t. After awhile I noticed a message that the cookie cutter had been purchased by someone else and there weren’t any more. Bummer! 

Then I went back to the original page and the cutter was still for sale. So I clicked on “buy it” again and this time… I could. Hmm. So I went on through the process and finally we got to the point where they added the shipping and handling. $15!  So the cookie cutter cost $15 and the shipping and handling cost $15 (the store was in Canada) and that made something like $32 for a cookie cutter the size of one’s hand. Well, the cookies were cool, but not THAT cool. So I backed out… and suddenly realized that’s probably what happened to the person who’d come before me.

I decided to see if I could find some cloud cookie cutters locally and went to Ace Hardware where they have lots of tin cookie cutters. No cloud cutters. But they did have a shell. And really, I love clouds but shells are cool, too. So… I bought a shell cookie cutter. For 69 cents.  LOL

Anyway, after all that I decided that it would be fun to make an artist date out of making those cookies. Well, things happened that day and instead of being able to use the afternoon — as I’d expected when I took out the butter in the morning to soften it — I had to quickly mix the dough around 4pm. Then it didn’t work right — way too dry and crumbly, impossible to “pat into a disk” — and I discovered that I’d misread the recipe and instead of 3/4 cup I was supposed to have used 3/4 pound. So I took more butter out, softened it in the microwave, mixed it into the dough, but it was still weird. Hoping the next step of chilling it would do the trick, I patted (with the help of plastic wrap to keep it together)  it into a disk and went to walk Quigley and then do Bible class.

So it was sometime after seven when I got back to it. I couldn’t put it off because the next day I was going to have to get up at 5:30 to take my mother to the hospital to get her portacath.  So I just had to get it done. Well, chilling the dough did not help. When I tried rolling it out, it just crumbled, so I had to break it up and add milk, flour was everywhere, Quigley kept trying to eat the dough bits that had fallen on the floor. I was NOT having fun!  😦  But I got them baked, and then it was time to do the chocolate. That went no better than the other part. I finished them at 10 pm, completely wiped out, so tired I wasn’t even interested in trying one of the cookies. They did turn out to be pretty good. 

So that date was a disaster. In retrospect I realized I should have just abandoned the whole idea of trying to get them baked that day when things first went off from my plan and instead, should’ve put The Scarlet Pimpernell into the DVD player and done the movie date instead.  It was a great learning experience, though, as to how one can make something that is supposed to be fun into not-fun. The time pressure I think, is the biggest thing. When you have to get it done, even though you’re tired and no longer want to do it, it is no longer fun. Funny because the whole point of the dates is NOT to be in that kind of situation.

Thus my next date, a week later, was to go to Starbucks with my journal, eat a pumpkin scone, drink a latte and write in my journal. Afterward I wandered over to Office Depot to use my rewards card, no special anything in mind, and yet I found all sorts of things I needed, or just wanted and used the whole amount on the card.  It was like discovering treasure while you’re out for a walk. That one was like the Reid Park date where I came home light hearted and happy. Excited that I’d used the reward for things I needed, and had such fun doing it. I even bought a pad of post it notes, which I do not need, with a picture of a yellow lab puppy sitting on a chair. I have tons of plain post-its in my office. I bought the puppy because he was cute and made me smile and felt like a “kind thing” to do for myself. Which is what The Artist’s Way encourages. Do you your morning pages and one kind thing for yourself a day.

 He still makes me smile.

Under the Weather

Why do they call it feeling “under the weather” when someone is feeling sick? Well, let’s see. I can google that… hmm. Turns out the phrase originated in the 1870s and is believed to have been a seaman’s reference to the weather deck on a ship, the topmost deck most exposed to the weather. When they were sick they would rest below the weather deck in their quarters. So says idiomSite. I would add that in bad weather they might also rest there, and in really bad weather most of them would not be feeling well at all.

So. Glad I got that straightened out. It’s a good term then for my latest foible. Last Thursday at 2am I awoke suddenly feeling awful. Hurried to the bathroom, stayed there an hour, but nothing happened except I continued to feel sick. The next morning I still felt bad and figured I should take it easy, using the BRAT diet, but even that was difficult to eat more than a few bites of. At first I thought it might be a result of exposure to my son, who, as I mentioned in a previous post, had come down with a viral infection about ten days before.  Later, I recalled that the side effects of the new prescription for megadose Vitamin D I’d just started taking included nausea, sleepiness and headache. So which was it? Why would I care? Because tomorrow (Monday) I needed to be taking my mother to her second chemo treatment. If I’m sick, I can’t be around her. Well, I called the Nurseline today, and the nurse said that we have to assume I’m sick and someone else would have to take her. But not my husband, who might also be contagious,  just not showing any symptoms.

I called the Pharmacist about the side effects, and the weekend shift person was aghast to think I would be taking so many units and surely that would have more intense side effects. On the other hand, the pharmacist who went over it with me knew all about the recently changed Vitamin D levels and the new treatment for deficiency involving megadoses, and said the old 400IUs was obsolete.

So. Confusion reigns again. The only one who knows anything is the Lord. So after trying to figure out what to do with far too little information for more time than I should have, I finally gave it up and turned it all over to the Lord. My mother would have to find another ride and it turns out she has: the neighbor has agreed to take her. Hopefully she will arrange for the neighbor to bring her back as well, as I urged her to.

So that’s been the Distraction of the Week. But yesterday I decided to stop letting circumstances derail me as they have. In some of the Artist’s Way stuff I read about the notion of having a “studio hour”, wherein the person would go into her studio for an hour every day if only to dust and organize. So I decided to have an office hour. I just have to go in and be there. If only to dust and organize. I cannot however, read blogs.

Actually the blog reading has dropped way off thanks to the tool introduced by The Artist’s Way last week (Week 4): Reading/media deprivation. We were to attempt to refrain from reading for the entire week. I failed miserably — it was during the election after all and we had close races locally. But the exercise has shown me not only how much time it takes but how addictive and really waste-of-time it’s been. So for now I’m cutting back.

And, instead of telling myself I have nothing of interest or importance to write about in a blog post, I told myself to just do it and let it be whatever it is rather than trying to judge it’s worth. That’s Rules of the Road number 9:  “Remember that is it my job to DO the work, not judge the work!”

Thus you have a post to read today!

Time Warp

I feel like I’ve been caught in some sort of time warp. Two weeks seemed to have passed in a flash. I want to thank everyone for their prayers and also  those of you who commented on my last post with your words of encouragement. I greatly appreciate it.

The last ten days or so have been crazy. After the shock of finding out my mother’s cancer was back two weeks ago Monday and her new chemo treatment on Tuesday, we had to come in every day for the rest of the week for her to get shots to build up her white blood cells. Then there were blood pressure issues, which involved much phone tag with the doctor’s office and a new prescription called in to the pharmacy. I also had to set up an appointment for her to get a portacath, and that involved even more phone tag — I’m really starting to see where a cell phone or at least a cordless one would be beneficial. I would step outside to hang out clothes, or just turn off the water and the guy would call and leave a message. Then I’d call him back and leave a message… We did finally get it all settled and she went in Friday to have the portacath placed.

A portacath is a small reservoir and catheter inserted entirely under the skin. The reservoir has a special skin on the top of it that can be pierced by a special needle, which is what they use to draw blood or infuse medications. The catheter runs from the reservoir to a large vein in her neck.

On Friday at 6am we arrived at the hospital for the outpatient procedure. The nurse said I couldn’t come in with her and told me to go home and come back at 10:30am. So I left, went out to the car, parked in the hospital garage and discovered, all out of the blue, that it wouldn’t start. I had to walk almost a mile and a half to her house, to get her car which I then drove to my home. It was God’s provision that I had her purse with me, because that’s where she keeps her extra set of keys. Actually it turned out to be a nice walk, and I enjoyed it. The only downside was that lugging two purses and a bag of books and water did not make my back terribly happy. And when it’s unhappy, it tends to interrupt my sleep…

To further complicate matters, my hubby had left the day before to go hunting and was in the mountains, completely out of contact. He left without knowing when he’d be home… possibly not for several days. Meanwhile, our son and daughter-in-law were due to arrive that same day and wanted to spend time with us/me that night…

But I’m getting ahead of myself. At 10:30 I drove my mother’s car back to the hospital and picked her up. The procedure had gone without a hitch and she was doing well. I took her home, and since she still can’t drive (waiting now, for glasses to arrive) I took the car with me to my home.

I prayed that Stu would get a deer Friday morning and come back. That was unlikely, and even if he did, he’d really have to push it to get back in time to visit with the kids, so I wasn’t surprised when they arrived and he wasn’t there; nor was I when he wasn’t back by bedtime.

My twitching back woke me up Saturday morning about 4:30, a time I’ve come to call the carnal hour for the way things that normally wouldn’t bother me get all blown out of proportion. I thought about the car in the garage, and whether security would come and tow it, or vandals would scrawl graffiti over it. Finally I had to put the whole matter firmly in God’s hands. It’s His car, He would have to take care of it. I drifted back into sleep and about an hour and a half later, Stu came in the door — having gotten his deer late Friday afternoon, then working all night to get it out. (He’d hiked in and had to carry it out, all uphill. It took him five hours, in the dark).

On Saturday, after I had taken my mother to the grocery store (except for two small, sutured incisions she was almost entirely recovered from the portacath insertion) and Stu had slept a bit, he and I returned to my car still parked safely and without graffiti in the hospital parking garage — the battery was dead, he jumped it and we went to Autozone and the guy put in a new one. All better. I love the way God works.

Sunday we went to a party at the grand-inlaws’ house in honor of my DIL’s grandfather turning 80. Adam cooked the steaks — they were very good — and Kim made an amazing German Chocolate Cake from scratch. Yummm! We had a really nice time. The kids left to drive back home on Monday.

Meanwhile my mother and I returned Monday morning to the oncology center to try out the portacath for a blood draw. My mother was still losing weight, and the doctor kept suggesting things she “couldn’t” do — things like snack or eat more protein and fat — until he was banging his forehead with his hand. Finally he prescribed for her a medication that is supposed to increase appetite. She took it for about three days, then decided it was making her itch and quit. We had to go in Tuesday and Wednesday for more white blood cell stimulating shots. Wednesday I had a doctor’s appointment of my own as well, then returned home to find a message from Kim that after she and Adam had returned home on Monday night, Adam had gotten really sick and Tuesday night they took him to Urgent Care with a fever of 105. He was given fluids and Tylenol and was told there was some sort of problem with his liver… Liver?! By then the hits were coming so fast and furiously — and obviously — I was almost at the point of laughing. (But not quite)

Now, almost a week later, it turns out Adam had some sort of unidentified viral infection that must be allowed to run its course and from which he is steadily recovering. The liver problem readings were a result of the fact that he’d been vaccinated years ago for Hepatitis B.

Thankfully this week has been much calmer than the last two. Through it all, though I have gotten no writing done, I have continued with The Artist’s Way, with the Lord’s blessing it seems from the way He keeps working not only the daily Bible classes along with it, but other things as well. I even managed to finish reading a novel on Sunday that related in a very weird way. But this post is already too long, so those subjects will have to wait for another day.

123 Windows

Well, yesterday I woke up early all ready to write. Unfortunately Quigley had scraped my fingers in play the night before and I’d gotten out a sack of frozen peas to put on the scratches, then was distracted and left the bag on the plastic chair mat in my office. With all the humidity we’ve been having the peas had not only totally thawed out, they did so in a puddle of condensate both on top of the mat and under it.  

So that’s what awaited me when I went into the office to work. Thus, before I could get started I had to dry everything off, then prop up the mat against my office chair so the carpet would dry. I could still sit in the chair and work, but only on the side desk, not at the computer, which I’d already turned on first thing — before I’d seen the peas. Anyway, I went over a hard copy of the work I’d done the day before, seeing new places to add things, modify, delete, etc and scribbled my changes into the lines and margins and on the back.

By then it was time to do the morning chores, water the grass, do tricks with Quigley, eat breakfast and finally leave at 8:30 to take my mother to her doctor’s appointment at 9. I was back by 10, and went into the office to find the carpet dry and put everything back the way it was. Then I wiggled the mouse to wake up the computer only to discover that it (my computer) had gone insane. It had already opened 123 Internet Explorer windows, 5 Search Windows and was in the process of trying to open more of each. Clicking X’s with the mouse would close one of the search windows, but did nothing to the 123-and-counting IE windows. Escape didn’t work. Nor Control Alt Delete… and before long another Search window started opening as well.

So I just turned it off, thinking I must’ve done something with the chair while I was fooling with the mat so it had somehow pushed the keyboard. Though it was admittedly difficult to imagine how it could possibly have pushed both the start and the number 6 key to get the IE to open…

I waited a bit, then turned it back on only to get the BIOS screen telling me there were no drives except the CD/DVD drive and which, though it invited me to use various keys to move through the screen, was inoperative. I shut the thing down again and went to call my hubby.

Long story short, I spent the entire day messing with the computer, at long last reaching the conclusion that the problem was my keyboard. Everything worked fine as long as the keyboard wasn’t connected.  I did Bible class with only the mouse. But you can’t put in text changes with a mouse.  

Today I got up and connected a spare keyboard before turning everything  on. That seemed to work okay. Then I deleted the browsing history (which took a looong time) and did a full virus scan, which turned up nothing. The good news is, I’ve not had one instance of rampant IE Window opening for the whole day, so it really does seem to have been the keyboard. Unfortunately, the old one was a broken keyboard and my wrist is not happy about the new flat model. So in the next day or so I’ll probably be heading off to the store to get a new broken keyboard. (Talk about confusing… I’m going out to buy a new broken keyboard to replace my old broken keyboard which really is broken…)

But the cool news is… I have now reached page 9 of Ch 1, in spite of everything. I’m kind of amazed.


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