Friday, November 10, 2006


And just why am i so excited about that? Well, i'll tell you--because now i know i have sleep apnea and get zippo deep sleep, and there is hope! Hope in the shape of a CPAP machine!

Zero stages 3 and 4 sleep happened during my sleep study--well, duh, no wonder i feel like poop when i wake up. Those are apparently the restorative sleep stages where your body heals itself from the day's wear and tear. So my body has not stood a chance in that whole "restorative" department. My apnea is not nearly as bad as my dear husband's--he had as many episodes per hour as i had in the whole 6 hour study. But soon we will look like Alien Central with our machines strapped to our heads and faces like technological jockstraps.

Also, i show no "alpha wave intrusion into delta wave sleep" as is common in many fibromyalgia patients. i think this is a good thing, if my thoughts mean anything, coming as they do from a sleep deprived brain. Why, you may ask? (You may not ask, but too bad, i'm writing this.) i think it's good, because if i start getting consistent deep sleep, i should feel better. And i won't have those pesky alpha waves intruding into my deep sleep, once i start getting it. i could be wrong about that whole last bit, but what the heck, i'm drunk on hope!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Walking in the cool of the day...

...Or in this case, it was downright brrrr-isk for my blood and for this mild climate place. But i was on a mission. The book our bible study group is studying is called "Experiencing God" by somebody Blackaby, i think. Anyway, it's been pretty cool. It has lots of things to make a person go "hmmm..." One day last week there was a special assignment to be done. Along the lines of Adam and Eve walking with God in the cool of the day, we were to spend 30 minutes walking and talking to God in some place nature-y. In Castro Valley we have a lovely hilly place called Greenridge Park, so i went there.

Now, there are lots of things i can do for 30 minutes: read a book, drink coffee, chat with a friend, use the elliptical, even just sit and stare dumbly at my toes. But spend 30 minutes concentrating on talking with God? Yikes. A daunting thought.

But, like i said, i was on a mission. So i shoved my hands deep into my pockets for warmth and started walking. How to even start this?

At Greenridge Park there are big trees, lots of birds, and at some times of the year there are even rabbits. As i walked i looked at the trees and thought, okay, what would it be like to just hang out with God in a garden in the cool of the day? What would that even feel like? If it were at day's end, after a nice warm day, the coolness would make me feel a little happy-lazy, and i'd probably just be in the mood for some comfortable conversation with someone close to me. So, okay, think of this walking with God thing as a comfortable conversation. Good. i can do that.

Here i must insert something that will seem irrelevant, but trust me, it will tie in. On the weekend before, Dean and i had watched TLC's "What Not to Wear," a show that i am admittedly hooked on. i've gotta love anybody who thinks you should dress for the body you have. i've dressed in mourning over the years for the body i no longer have, and obsessed over the body i wish i had (but am apparently unwilling to work for.) ANYway, the person being taught to dress for her rather adorable little 20 year old body was a girl named Megan Slankard. She's from Tracy California, not far from here, and is a musician. She writes her own songs and plays a mean guitar, and has a great voice. Back in the day i loved playing guitar and singing, so i really enjoyed watching her on the show. Now here is where this ties back in-- (i know, that already looked like the part that somehow tied in, right?) Being young and therefore allowably angst ridden, of course some of the songs would be about love gone bad. Now remember this, before you judge me, she is really good at catchy lines and catchy tunes. So i've had one of her songs stuck in my head for days. The lyrics go, "it's too bad you saw me naked too bad i love you don't mean anything ever again." So what of course has been stuck in my head? "It's too bad you saw me naked" keeps replaying.

So i'm trying to have this walking-with-God-in-the-CHILL-of-the-day experience, trying to focus, and "It's too bad you saw me naked" is playing in my head. Now imagine you are standing in front of the Queen of England, and you just burst out singing that. i was inwardly cringing and thinking "sorry sorry!" to God. But then another thought came in--well, of course God has already seen me naked, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally-- He's seen me in all the nakedly raw times of my life when i thought i'd never feel right again: when i was going through the miscarriages, when my kids or my husband were struggling and i felt helpless to "fix" it, when i came face to face with the pain that came after my mother's death. He has seen me in the nakedness of all those moments, and He has been walking with me, even when i was so tied up in the pain of it i didn't see Him.

And then i thought, naked--when God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, they were naked. And why weren't they ashamed? They were an open book to God, they had nothing to hide. They were glad to walk and talk about every little thing. No secrets. No worrying. It wasn't until they decided to "fix" their lives their own way that they became ashamed of their nakedness.

That is something i strive for--that genuineness that means there is nothing to hide from God, or from anyone, really. OH! i get it--that song in my head, something i saw as an "interruption" in my walk that day with God, was part of the conversation. Ah.

Just so you know, and won't send me for an extended stay at the local Hilton Psychiatric, i'm not talking about audible voices here. There was no booming voice from the clouds, no talking tree or squirrel, but i heard Him all the same. i'm usually too caught up in trying to "fix" my own life/relationships/health/finances/etc to stop and have a conversation with God. But it looks like that's something i'm going to do more often.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The King of Calories

i don't know why i do this stuff to myself--i downloaded a trial of a program on that allows you to track your day's worth of calories/fat/fiber/protein etc. Do you know how many calories are in ONE serving of Panda Express Orange Chicken??? Holy crap, it's like 480!! And the fat? Well, that takes the throne as the King of Rotundity at a rousing 21 grams. Glad i had the Virtuous Mixed Vegies (70 calories and a more modest 3 grams of fat) instead of fried rice or chow mein. There's already a glaring red line surrounding my day's calorie and fat intakes. i'm guessing that if i had the fried rice instead there would probably be a red line and a picture of an enormous behind.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Glad to be here...

i'm glad to be alive, of course, but in California, for certain.

Today was one of those amazing fall days here in the Bay Area--the sky was a cloudless blue, and the sounds of summer played on the air: leaf blowers and kids on bikes, the heart-stopping loud bass thumping of someone's car stereo as they drove around our corner (not my favorite summer sound.)

i spent hours in the yard cleaning up my flower beds, cutting back stuff that needed cutting back, that sort of thing. It was glorious. Sunshine and a light breeze all day. Do you know what i mean by the "open" feeling of summer? Neighborhood sounds travel on the air, making me aware of being part of something larger. There's a different feel to summer air--as if it carries a bit of everywhere along with it. Nice to have today as a reminder, before we have to break out the umbrellas.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Things to embrace after 50.

Yesterday i had my eye exam. i'm getting bifocals. After increasing difficulty acting casual while trying to read small print or waiting for my eyes to refocus from close to far, i've taken the plunge. i've decided to Embrace the Bifocal. In fact, i may go so far as to do commercials to advertise my campaign to Embrace the Bifocal. In these i will be seen bounding across a grassy field of flowers (in slow motion, of course) wearing something that floats about me, hiding the southward shifting of important body properties. My carefree demeanor, centered by the fashionable bifocals i'm wearing, will show that, YES, Bifocals Can Be Beautiful! And if i am wearing them while bounding across that field, i may be able to see the shift in terrain before i go head over floaty gown...

That's the only thing i feel like embracing at the moment. i promise that if i come up with something else i have the energy to embrace, i'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

To sleep, to dream...while hooked to loads of wires

7:40 pm, October 18, 2006. Sleep study night.

So far, so uneventful--unless you count the freeways full of traffic that Dean drove through to get me here. (Isn't he sweet?) He's staying in a hotel nearby, 1.6 miles away, according to Mapquest.

The Santa Teresa Kaiser's sleep clinic is a cute little bunch of rooms off a little hallway, and they're decorated like mini hotel rooms--i don't know if they're all different (like the wildly decorated Madonna Inn on the coast of California--we stayed there once.) but this one is painted pretty much the same shade of green as my bathroom at home. The bed is covered with a comforter that i sincerely hope is supposed to be that particular shade of dirty white. There are two really cute chairs in the room, a dresser, mirror, and headboard in a nice reddish-brown wood, along with the requisite piece of hotel art.

The techs are both guys--a little weird, that. Hope i can wear my bra to sleep. i know that's not my normal sleep routine, but then neither is this whole dorm-room-attached-to-many-little-monitor-thingies-being-watched-by-two-strange-men. And the girls could use some support.

A sleeping pill, Ambien, is waiting for me. It was suggested by the woman who called me to see if i could fit into a cancellation spot. So i emailed my doctor to request that. She put in a prescription for one (1.) One single pill. And an $18 pill at that. Okay. A full prescription would have cost me $20 under our coverage, but a single one at its full cost (being less than the copay amount) is $18. Bummer deal. Well, if it helps me sleep well, i may ask the doctor to give me a whole bottle. Clearly nothing else is working.

i'm in waiting mode, as both techs are with patients. There's an adorable little girl about 7 years old who's here for a study. Wow. Since i don't go to bed until 10 usually anyway, they've said to just make myself comfortable--there's a tv, i have my book, so it's all good.

i just hope the study shows something. i've gotten so used over the years to feeling like all the ways i feel unwell are my fault and could aaaall be cured by Proper Diet and Exercise that i halfway expect them to find nothing and send along a "Jenny Craig" brochure with my report.

*10:10 pm.*

Well, i am now officially wired for sound (and whatever else they wire for--delta waves and such.) i look pretty darn funny. It took Tom the tech an hour to do it all. i have wires in my hair, on my face, legs, chest, and these cool purple straps cuddling the girls--one strap above and one below. It's a look. A purple box with numbered plug-ins for the colored wires attached everywhere. i have wires down my jammie pant legs, attached under my chin, under my eyes...i can't actually smile with everything taped to my face.

It's nearly lights out. Tom said he'd be back in about half an hour. As he was going out the door he said, "You can go to the restroom, read, whatever. But what one thing can you not do?" He looked at me expectantly. i looked back blankly, searching for the answer in my brain. i don't know, what? Wear a size 8? "Don't fall asleep!" Oh yeh. He did say that earlier.

i'm banking on that Ambien to get me calm enough to sleep.

This is weird. Good thing i got in so quickly--asked the doctor only a week or two ago. Less time to fret about it. And i'm good at fretting. Possibly a master fretter.


Actually, i'm pretty sure it's still dark outside, so no dawn, just morning. 6 am wakeup call. Last night Tom said, "We wake people up between 5:30 and 6." i said, "Could i please be more toward the 6?" Not a morning person under any circumstance.

Between the pill and my strictly cutting off any fluid intake after 6 pm, i was saved needing to be unhooked and assisted to the restroom in the night by Tom the tech. i did wake up in the night--not sure how often, once or twice out of my 11:30 to 6 night. Given the fact that i normally sleep more like 10:30 or 11 pm to 7 or 8 am (yes, i know i'm spoiled) that rude 6 am awakening is just a blip on the screen of my usual night.

Results come in 4 or 5 days--i now look forward to it.

Tom was a fun chatter while doing the wiring last night--he has 2 girls, 5 and 8, and since he only works 3 days a week, 4 when they're short handed, he gets to spend time in their classes. He admits to riling them up, he's so high energy--i told him we used to tell people who'd get Jarel all wound up in the evening, "You wind him up, you take him home--"

i felt like i was seeing what a grown Jarel could look like out in the working world, a hyper-speed, fast talking man chattering along happily, doing his job.

Dean picked me up and we're now back at the Blue Collar Extended Stayamerica--the parking lot is full of trucks and minivans, while next door at the White Collar Extended Stayamerica Deluxe, the parking overflows with spendly little sports cars. Amusing.

On the way home via 680. Just passed a hand lettered sign stuck on a hill next to the freeway:
eggs leather
Mentioned it to Dean. He said, "Sounds like a bad place to be an ostrich."

Oh what a night.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

i have good friends.

Not that i thought my friends were bad, but i've had some nice things happen lately.

First, there was that whole birthday thing in September. My sister and i have talked about how we both have some deep-seated dread of our birthdays. Nothing to do with the amount of years, though that carries its own trauma. So there i was, dreading my birthday the whole week previous, trying to put on a happy face, and then it all started flowing. i got to chat with a long distance friend, got to see my beautiful long distance grandkids on the webcam, got calls and cards from local friends and children, not to mention the perfect gift of a bag full of chocolate bars from my husband. And they weren't just any cards, and they weren't just any chocolates, they were special and thoughtful and funny cards, and lovely special chocolate bars. The kinds of things where you know the person really thought about you when they bought them. And on top of all that, i got to go to lunch and shopping with friends and daughters--TWICE!

But why just feel bad about my birthday? There is of course the whole fibromyalgia thing. Again, i try to not be a big crybaby about it. i do whine some. i do get grumpy a little. But it does tend to get me down from time to time, what with that whole crappy-sleep/constantly-achy-body thing.
And then there are always finances to worry about--why the heck our electric bill is as high as it is, why i am seemingly incapable at age 53 of making a simple budget and making it work. As somebody who believes in the God who made the universe (and me) i believe i'm to be a good manager of what resources He's given me. But can i ask Him for a raise in my allowance? That would be so much easier than trying to learn to live within my means!

And then there are my fears--the fears that keep me from doing things i would like to do. There's the fear of New, the fear of Failure, the fear of Large Bodies of Water. Recently daughter Corinne and i were discussing what we would do if we could have any job. She'd really like to know that about herself, since she's currently spending hours and hours finishing her college degree and considering going into a Master's program. i said i would love to write and publish--one thing i am passionate about is writing. i do some of my best thinking that way. Now, if we were talking about the fear of New Kinds of Chocolate, i'd be willing to try some total immersion therapy, but when it's the fear of something where i think others will be judging me? That gets pretty darn different.

So those are a few worries, a select few of the worthless crop i am currently fertilizing. But again, i am somebody who believes in the God who not only made me (and the universe!) but that He actually cares about my life. And that includes my birthday-dread, and my fibromyalgia-sleep-deprivation-crabbiness, and even my phobia about opening my electric bill.

So i've been conversing with God lately about the above-mentioned stuff--living within our means financially, dreams and passions i'm afraid to follow, pretty much all the stuff above except i'm not really ready to chat about the whole water thing just yet. And i've been trying to not only talk, but listen. You know, the kind of thing that makes a real relationship--the sharing, the not-one-sidedness. And i put a disclaimer here: if you are the sort of person who feels strongly that the creator of the universe (and you!) does not dilly-dally about having chats with 53 year old women about their fears and dreams like some cosmic slumber party, you should probably stop reading. Because lately i have been having a hard time hearing His voice, and i've been asking God if the stupid little crap of my life matters to Him. These are the ongoing inner conversations in my head as i go through my day doing laundry and such.

So i've been thinking about getting a new cell phone. i realize a cell phone is a frivolous thing, so how can i think about getting a new one if i have one that works? Well, this cell phone thing applies here because i have been saying to God, in the mode of trying to be responsible with the money we have, "i will not get one if it costs." You see, in our house, we are gadget fiends. We do love our cell phones and computers and cool tools. So a cell phone, here in the land of plenty, is not a big thing. Twelve year olds have cell phones here. i decided to be content until i found a freebie that i liked. And then my friend got a new cell phone. It glimmered in the light as i felt the gadget fiend within me rise up. But no--i've made a commitment. It must be free. i had been looking on our provider's site every week at what they might have. One similar to my friend's was, with rebates, $80. Not free. Now, again, here i know that to some, 80 bucks is two weeks groceries, and to others that's just the price of a good lunch. But, remembering my decision, no go. Not free.

But what's the harm in looking at the features and comparing reviews on Cnet and Amazon and such? This will fill my gadget cup for now. So i open Amazon to see if there are more details not on the Cingular site, and look up the phone.

It was there for $0.01. One cent. One penney. Huh. Cool.

A couple of days later i received my copy of "Simple Scrapbooks" magazine, and start flipping through the pages. i'm one of those people who tends to read all the pages, even the letters to the editor. So i perused the ads in the front, i started reading the letters from readers, and one sounded so very like me until i realized, it IS me--it's an email i sent them a couple of months ago. Not a piece of writing i sweat bullets over, but an email i just sent off one day because i like their magazine. My thoughts, my name, published right there on the page of a magazine. i laughed. Huh. Cool.

So, last night with my Bible study homies, i shared these two bits of news about the phone and the magazine. i asked them, "So, do you think God really answers stuff like that?" i mean, can God answer prayers through a cell phone? Am i just nuts to think He cares about the cell phones and the writing desires of my heart? If i had not been talking to Him about these very things for the last couple of weeks, i might have thought these were random acts in a random world. But no, i think they show God has a sense of humor.

So, here's where we get back to that concept of relationship with God. My most valuable friendships are ones that are reciprocal--not just me giving, not just them giving, but the give and take that creates closeness and trust between us. God, for all that parting-of-the-Red-Sea kind of action is still seeking to have a relationship with me. i know i've made the mistake of putting my parents' faces onto God. i know i've struggled long to separate what i saw as parenthood when a child from the truth of God's care as my Father. i read a verse yesterday in the book of John, chapter 14. It's verse 18, where Jesus is telling his disciples that even though he was leaving them soon he would ask God to send them the Holy Spirit to be with them and counsel them. He said, "No, I will not abandon you as orphans--I will come to you."

Abandonment. Speaking for myself, feeling abandoned like an orphan is an underlying fear of mine. Sometimes parents are too busy with their own problems to be involved with their children, and those children can end up feeling pretty alone even though the parents are physically present. Parents can be emotionally absent, physically absent, mentally absent--there are all sorts of abandonment. There can be the sort of abandonment that happens when parents don't like their grown children having a different opinion or belief or child-raising strategy from theirs. So first, in my life, there was that whole emotionally absent thing going on with my parents, and then Dean and i lost one parent after another until we found ourselves adult orphans in 2001. Abandonment. Not always intentional, but always painful.

But Jesus said He wouldn't abandon me, wouldn't leave me alone--He would send me the Holy Spirit to take his place.

My friends said, "It sounds like God is relating to you in a way that speaks to you--with a sense of humor." i like the thought that a relationship with me is important enough to the God who created the whole pickin' universe (and me!) that He would not abandon me. That's an active thing. A two way thing.

Oh, and the topper for good friends? i have one that actually says she thinks i'm organized. (Thanks, Adina!) But the subject of why that is worth putting out front in lights is another subject for another day.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

"If i only had a brain..."

Yesterday i had a unique experience. Because of the whole fibromyalgia-arthritis-hard to work thing i've had a couple of interesting doctor visits lately. Last week it was one where i got weighed and measured (why will they always take my word on my height, but not my weight?) and told to bend here and fold there....the young girl taking the measurements very delicately put her tape measure to my legs and arms (i apologized for not having shaved my legs, had i known i would be fondled about the calf and thigh i surely would have) and checked for matching/not matching sides of my body. The doctor then came in and spent his 2.5 minutes speaking with me, looked at my scoliosis in the lower spine, and told me he makes no decisions, he merely does the exam and gives the information to the Social Security people, and they decide.

Yesterday's appointment was much more entertaining (hard to imagine, i know) as it was a psychological evaluation. Did this have me nervous? But of course. Did it help that Mapquest has an odd sense of humor when laying out the route to an unknown doctor's office? Not really. But once i was there outside the office, shoving nickles and dimes into the parking meter, i steeled myself for the upcoming unknown evaluation.

The office was in a lovely old building in nearby Oakland. i let myself in to the suite's waiting room and was handed a clipboard with 6 or 7 sheets of questions. Some i could answer easily: "do you smoke? use drugs? feel like killing anybody?" But questions like, "what do you think is your main problem?" or "did you feed/bathe/dress yourself today?" begged for answers i felt i should probably NOT put down on a psychiatric evaluation. And yet, those questions barely prepared me for the battery of tests administered by the doctor herself. (And why is it called a "battery of tests"? Is it because you feel battered after taking them?)

i was feeling all pumped by the questions like "how are apples and oranges alike?" BOTH FRUITS! or "how are "cars and boats alike?" BOTH TRANSPORTATION! Maybe i can pass this test! Ah, but they got trickier as time went on: "how are flies and trees alike?" Uh, both alive and hopefully outside. "Why do we have a probation system?" HUH? "Name all the continents" "Who was president during the Civil War?" What are we testing?? Whether or not i was i asleep during history and geography classes???

And then came the evil *Numbers*.... "I am going to say a list of numbers, and you repeat them back to me." Numbers--never my favorite, and here they come to bite me in the backside-- "5. 8." Okay i can do this!! Then eventually, "6. 3. 5. 1. 9. 8. 3. 4." Um..(furrowed brow...) "And now I will give you a list of numbers and I want you to REPEAT THEM BACKWARDS TO ME." Now, nice Doctor Lady, if i couldn't repeat 8 numbers to you FORWARD, what makes you think i shouldn't just go out and get myself a candy bar and come back later?

And there were patterns to be copied made of blocks. Anybody familiar with "Flowers for Algernon," the story of a mentally handicapped person who has some experimental treatment or something and becomes brilliant, but then it wears off and they go back to where they started? Well, whether or not i just butchered that story, guess what part of the story i felt like? Yep, back to slow. And there were patterns to be copied in pencil. Cool. i'm all over that one--yes, i have copied the "Could You Be An Artist?" pictures from the ads-- "Now, I will take away the cards and your drawings--Now draw them from memory." Back to slooower.

By the end of the testing i was seriously questioning my ability to unlock my own car door, and i have one of those "push the button on the remote to unlock" thingies.

i did get myself home, though. But today i am not getting out of bed. Not sure if i can feed/bathe/dress myself anymore.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The year of 53

i suppose this could also be called, "The Year of Looking For Signs." What is it that fascinates me about numbers lining up? i was born in 1953 (yup, there it is in writing!) and had my 53rd birthday this September--cool enough for me, right there! BUT THEN--i did some birthday ebay shopping the week before my birthday, and (add in some Twilight Zone music here--) saw that i now have--can you guess?--53 feedbacks! How cool and yet weird is that?

As if that combination of odd numbers and odd occurances wasn't enough, i already have odd numbers going for my birthday itself--the 9th day of the 9th month. So altogether, does this make me an odd person? Possibly. i mean, i am left-handed, too. But if those do not, there are many other things that probably serve to qualify me.

Feel free to not bring them up.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In the absence of a campfire...

...a gas stove does a pretty good job. At least for S'mores making.

There was the idea of a camping trip with friends. That didn't work out, but we were left with a powerful hunger for S'mores!! My good friend Adina said, "Well, I've done them over a candle before." Do i need any more of a green light than that? Not where chocolate is concerned! So we collected the necessities: graham crackers, marshmallows, and, mmm... chocolate.

Now, Adina, being the S'mores connoisseur that she is, brought Ghirardelli chocolate squares. We here in the Bay Area have a serious appreciation for Ghirardelli, especially as she happens to be a local girl (there is just no way chocolate is a man!) It's smooth, it melts well, even on stove-top S'mores. Adina also tutored me in the ways of expert marshmallow toasting--she is good, i must say. As much longer as i have loved chocolate and S'mores than her, being considerably older, i was in awe at her masterful technique. i'm one of those impatient souls who ends up with the flaming marshmallow and has to blow it out, while she steadfastly held her metal skewered marshmallow, deftly dancing with the flame, creating an enormously puffed lightly tanned delight. And at this point the differences again showed--i am one to just slap that baby on the graham cracker and chocolate, squish the cracker on top and dive in, but not so for Adina. With the careful movements of a surgeon she tipped the skewer up and slid the marshmallow ever so slowly on end onto the chocolate and cracker, held the topping cracker and worked the flow of the oversized creaminess into just the right position, and danced it over the flame as a whole for just a moment longer before she gently picked it up and bit in. i was in awe.

A couple of days later i was still dreaming of perfectly puffed marshmallows, so i picked some up at the store to try her technique myself. i turned on the gas burner, and flame and marshmallow engaged in the dance. Could i do it? Could i, the impatient one, make the dance last until the perfect shade of golden delight had been achieved? Sadly, no. Marshmallow firebomb #4087. But as i blew it out and prepared to eat it, i paused to think fondly of all the other burnt marshmallows i've enjoyed over campfires in the past.

Final bit of advice, though--if you use a metal serving fork as a skewer, remove the marshmallow BEFORE attempting to eat. That hot fork can leave quite a little blister on your lip. Trust me on this one and don't ask.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Just wondering....

Anybody out there? i mean, i love to hear myself talk as much as the next guy, but seriously....

Friday, September 15, 2006


Today is that kind of amazing fall day i love. i always forget i love it until it comes and i realize i'm holding my breath and listening to the leaves rustle and feeling the crisp air.

In one part of my brain i think fall means brown-ness and dead-ness and winter coming (yes, i'm aware that "winter" for me here in the San Francisco Bay Area is not quite what some of you view as "winter"...) BUT--apparently there is another part of my brain i'm usually unaware of that *senses* the fall on another level. That part of my brain carries the pleasure i felt jumping in rain puddles as a child (and as a college student--yes, i really did and i'm not ashamed to admit it.) It remembers the feel of the crisp coldness of the Pacific Northwest or the Nebraska plains or England or, yes, even California in that brightness that precedes winter.

i need to listen to that part of my brain more often, i think it might help balance out the other part of my brain that can only see laundry and dust and bills to be paid.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What i did on my summer vacation.

My hubby and i got to spend time last month on two different farms. We visited relatives in Alabama where the young folk still say "yes ma'am" and "yes sir," where we stayed on one cousin's farm. Wow. Acres and acres of green pasture are anchored by the light and airy farmhouse. Horses wander lazily nearby. My damp Portland Oregon roots sighed happily at all the green-ness.

The occasion was the 60th wedding anniversary of my hubby's uncle and aunt--wow, huh?--at pretty much the same time as WE are celebrating our 30th! And i was impressed with that many years (Kind of in a "jeez, are we that old?" kind of way...) But apparently all that green comes at a cost--humidity--cousin Lea Ann said, "We call it 'air you can wear.'"

We had a lovely time visiting with our too infrequently seen relatives who welcomed us and fed us well and put us up in our own "apartment." (We too have a special place we can let people stay at our house--if ya don't mind all the boxes of Christmas decorations stacked along the's that ambiance that says "homey, but not in a good way." )

And the countryside in Alabama--i want this view out my front door! --->
There was even a rather spectacular thunder/lightning/rain storm for entertainment--let me tell ya, that thunder and lightning bit sure seems closer out there in all that open land. And greenness abounds there, it seems--Uncle Joe and Aunt Pat's house has an actual woods in the backyard, and the church we attended better have some riveting sermons, because the walls behind the pulpit were windows looking out onto fields of green and eyes only wandered a little....

THEN we moved on to a farm in Canada--as in a working farm with crops and harvesting and all those things unfamiliar to my town-bred self. It's the family farm of my good friend Adina, in Plum Coulee, Manitoba. Her two sisters, brother, and brother-in-law were home as well, bringing the temporary household count to 9 adults, 1 almost adult (just kidding, Dorian!) and a baby. Here i am frustrated--i don't seem to be able to add a particular picture i have of the farm. So picture for yourself: a vast expanse of fields surrounding a collection of granaries, house, barns, and trees, fronted by a gravel road--all washed in a translucent rose-colored late afternoon light. And picture a big ol' red tractor with my Kansas born husband driving, a very nostalgic experience for him--although this time he could reach the pedals, no longer being 8--

<-- here's a shot of that red tractor between the granaries

Oh--and both farms had gardens--in Alabama, a softly overflowing cottage style flower garden, and in Plum Coulee, a garden full of poppies, vegetables, and fruit trees. The really disturbing part? The garden in Manitoba is larger than the plot of ground that defines our entire California homestead. Anyway, in Canada they humored me and let me play at gardening. i, who am duly impressed when i can keep a rose bush alive for more than a season, got to help harvest the remaining beans. And we had a campfire out in the backyard one night! How crazy is that? i mean, if i imagine building a fire in our backyard i know it would mean either the house or the fence or the neighbor's place (or all three) likely going up in smoke.

We attended the family's Mennonite church on the Sunday, and ate some of the meals that say "comfort food" to Adina--and i have to say, i'm good with that whole watermelon and fritter thing they call a meal! (They don't call it a fritter--it actually has a German name that i can almost say but definitely can't spell--) But, oh yum!

It was a great month, whether at a family celebration in Alabama, or a family meal or cup of coffee around the table in Plum Coulee. i won't go all philosophical and sentimental on you, but i loved watching the families in action. There's a commonality to the kinds of families who like each other, evidenced by the shared jokes and knowledge of and grace for each other. i know a lot of what helps both these families give grace is their own experience of God's unconditional love and with that, how can they give anything less to each other?

But even after my summer vacation of farms, i still don't know where the phrase "he bought the farm" comes from. Any thoughts?*

*Cousin Lea Ann has a link to the possible origins of the phrase:

Monday, September 04, 2006

Why it's good to be me!

More and more lately i find my brain has gone out to lunch and forgotten to take me along. The good part? Something happens that i didn't like?? Give me 30 minutes and i'll have forgotten it ever happened.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tivo-ing my life, & other pipe-dreams

i will admit, Tivo is one cool invention--finally it's worth paying for television! Not only can i search for an interest--say, scrapbooking, or Hugh Laurie--i can see all the upcoming shows fitting my request, select which ones i want recorded, or even set up a "Season Pass" so i don't miss ANY episodes of "House" or "Scrapbook Memories." (Yep, i know those are really different things--what can i say, i'm complicated--) And THEN--i can pause, i can skip commercials, i can go back and hear what i missed House saying in his American accent (which begs the question, if he's English and plays an American, is it an American guy playing the English doctor?) If i have a temporary brain-fade i can replay the last bit on a scrapbooking technique, or i can speed-watch an entire episode i don't find very interesting (but i NEVER speed-watch "House"!) It's great. No searching frantically for an empty videotape at the last minute, no watching the same irritating car commercial 6 times in one hour long show.

The downside--i want to Tivo my life. i'm in the car, i miss something on the radio, i think, "Tivo back!" i'm in the theatre and somebody laughs or my son talks and i miss a line, i think "Tivo!" i think of a witty remark a little after the fact--yup, "Tivo..." So, along with the theory i've had for years that life would be easier with a soundtrack (i could just listen to the music and know, "Oh crap, it's gonna be a bad one today--") i now have the feeling i should be able to Tivo past the garbage.

Other pipe-dreams: that once i organize something it would magically stay organized; that my house would finish itself (i'd offer to help it paint!) or that my good eating intentions would count for enough that the Skinny Fairy would say, "Oh, honey, that's good enough!" and send my lifelong companion the Fat Fairy packing with her big fat suitcase forever.

i'm sure there are many more pipe-dreams i could list, but i'm getting depressed thinking about it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Now, THERE'S something i didn't remember....

In a phone conversation talking about all the recent sun and heat, my sister mentioned that not only had she had skin cancer, but also our mother and brother. Huh. Did not remember that.

i've always been a bunch of freckles that refuse to become anything resembling a tan, and the heat makes me feel gross, so i've never been one of those "fun in the sun" people. "Whine in the shade," maybe. So i'd never really given thought to skin cancer as one of the things i should worry about. And that thought led to another thought (as they so often do,) this being a memory of a doctor visit early in the diagnosis of my fibromyalgia.

i had mentioned that, along with all the achy, dizzy, exhausted symptoms was one that troubled me--well, let's be honest, it scared the crap out of me. There had been a couple of times while i was driving in a familiar environment that i turned a corner and suddenly thought, "where the heck am i?" Just that momentary "Twilight Zone" feeling of having driven into a different dimension, an alternate universe, a shift in time.

Having not been all that helpful previously, suddenly my doctor was in territory she knew--she could send me to another doctor, a specialist. "Would you like to see someone who could assess you for memory issues?" Sure, i was game. So we set up an appointment with the in-house shrink.

When i arrived for the appointment, i was feeling uncertain of what was going to happen--so, do i do my best imitation of "normal" or...? i suppose it's a common fear of sitting in a room with a member of the Mental Health profession: "Is she reading my body language right now? How about now? Do i put on my 'acting casual' face and try to appear relaxed? Or should i look serious yet pleasant? Thoughtful yet confident? And can she tell that i'm thinking all this?"

Anyway, she did her best to put me at ease--she wore her "compassionate yet professional" face and body language, leaning slightly forward as she tried to make the questions on the clipboard she was holding sound as if she were simply having a pleasant conversation with me. i, in moments of nervousness (and to be honest, in pretty much all moments) can be something of a smart-mouth. i tried to keep that to a minimum in this conversation, although many things came to mind during the course of the 2 page "conversation" about my brain.

As she wrapped up the questions, i looked forward to some sort of illumination of my memory glitches, maybe even with some helpful steps to be taken. i smiled my "pleasant yet confident in the face of the Mental Health Professional" smile and waited for the verdict.

"Well, it doesn't look like you have any early Alzheimer's symptoms," she said, smiling back. "Often as people get older, it's helpful to carry a notebook with you to jot things down on."

i felt my smile freeze. i didn't even know i should have been worrying about Alzheimer's.

Okay, so i know i'm over 50 now, and i know it's downhill and down gravity from here, but how many other things should i be worrying about that i'm not? Now, there's something to keep me up nights.

In absolute brutal honesty, my mind has left me on enough occasions that i'm left worrying about whether or not i'll be one of those women who leaves the house with her bra on the outside of her clothes. And seriously, how do i make myself notes enough to avoid any of this? What do i do, leave myself a note on the inside of the front door that says, "Check to be sure you're wearing your pants"? Or, "Before you go to the store, check that bra is under blouse." Or maybe one on my dashboard: "Don't get lost today." And how do i know i'll remember where the notebook is?

If anybody else knows what else i should be worrying about that i don't know, just don't tell me. i'll probably forget it anyway.

Monday, June 26, 2006


And yes, i mean "we."

It was a labor of love--not to mention blood, sweat, and tears--to "encourage" Jarel through his final year of high school. We kept our fingers crossed and prayed regularly, did some nagging and some cheerleading, and HALLELUJAH, we graduated!!

It's been a struggle, always. You see, Jarel loves the social life of school, but the actual work? not so much. He has entertained and frustrated for lo these many years now. We've developed deeper relationships with teachers than we ever intended. We've done new math/old math/last week's math, and even in his younger years, dug math homework out of a hole in his bedroom wall. We've received too many to count renditions of "Jarel is delightful to work with BUT..." on report cards. We've restricted/rewarded/cajoled. We've rolled our eyes, pulled our hair, and sobbed (okay, that one was me.)

BUT WE GRADUATED!!!!! Along with something like 600 other students, Jarel walked across the stage and got his fake diploma (what's that about?? "PSYCHE! you thought you graduated!") which he was able to trade after the ceremony for the REAL diploma--

And as we let out the breath we'd been holding all year, Jarel said, "See, I told you I was gonna be fine."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Playing with my food.

Let's talk interruptions! Interruptions in my chocolate consumption, my overall sugar consumption, my breads and potatoes consumption... and, * sigh * did i mention chocolate?

For months now, since early February, i've been playing with my food--elimination diet sort of thing. Heck, i'm no stranger to diets, waaay back in my childhood lo those many years ago, i would try to eat more carrots and less other stuff. i was conscious even at 10 of being fat, as wide as i was tall. That sort of thing is noticeable to other children who are in turn glad to point it out. Didn't matter that my thyroid had apparently ceased to function sometime in the early years, i was a butterball. A cute and cheerful butterball, but a butterball nonetheless. i got to participate in some way cool cutting edge treatments of the time to get my thyroid sorted out, and by the end of high school i was pretty darn cute and slender. Of course, back in those days, doctors would give diet pills to teenagers--i was up for 24 hours straight and trust me, i like my sleep, so i didn't keep taking those. After that there was the fast-once-a-week diet, the grapefruit diet (college,) the Atkins diet (post-college,) the cheesecake diet (no, that one was only in my dreams...) the McDougall diet (early marriage,) Weight Watchers, low carb, you name it, i probably tried it. i finally ended up on the "oh what the heck" diet, which is probably where i got into those X's.

ANYway, like i said, i'm no stranger to diets. So when i read that foods could maybe have an effect on my fibromyalgia pain, i was game to add another diet to my list.

So, on to the hunt for an elimination diet. i know of one fibromyalgia sufferer who ate only rice for a whole month, saw her symptoms disappear, and then added foods slowly back in. i'm not that hardcore, or maybe i should say "not that disciplined." So i trolled (i think that's the right word--i mean "troll" as in "trolling for fish" not as in the little guy who lives under a bridge) for a diet. i found the Caveman Diet, also known as the Rare Foods Diet, but i liked the Caveman thing so much better as a name. Its purpose was either to use as an allergy elimination diet, or to give your immune system a rest, and consisted of dumping all the processed nastiness of the present age of food and replacing it with natural, organic, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, some of the lesser known grains and deep water fish, game, and turkey. But no citrus fruits, and mainly the less often eaten fruits and vegetables, and if there was a fruit or veg on the acceptable list that you commonly ate more than a couple of times a week, not that either. This way a person would still get plenty of choices and plenty of nutritional goodies, but give their body a chance to recover.

Not so bad. Fortunately, here in the bay area we have access to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, making my life easier food shopping wise. i figured out some meal options, made a list and went shopping. Breakfast became something like almond butter and banana. Lunches were stir-fried vegies and turkey or fish, and dinners became salad or vegies and more fish or turkey or Cornish game hen. It was all pretty tasty! Sea salt or a little fresh lemon or ginger were the only seasonings i used. i lost 8 pounds the first week, which told me something--i wasn't sure what, besides maybe "there must be some kinda food allergy component here, cuz i never lose 8 pounds in a week" or simply,"boy i must eat a lot of crap the rest of the time."

And my symptoms? i saw some improvement, the more pure i ate the better (hard to eat out that way, though.) Wondering about the allergy part of it, i found a book about food allergies and started reading. Also very interesting. That's where i am right now, trying to see how dairy, corn, acid foods, and grains effect me. Oh--that's another thing, people with arthritis can do better with an alkaline diet, the opposite of acid. And avoiding foods in the nightshade family. So there's another component to explore.

i'm feeling very Christopher Columbus these days. Just hoping i don't set out for one place and end up another altogether, although i would settle for Hawaii.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Adventures in blogging and shopping.

It's been fun hearing back from people about my Adventure In Blogging. Of course one of the comments was, "You didn't write very much." i believe that one came from my husband--who apparently was surprised by my brevity, given my total lack of it in conversations with him.

And my rose photo--i'm so excited about my roses! i can't believe that * I * acually bought a rosebush, planted it, watered it, and have these gorgeous "Gingersnap" roses. i'm pretty much a gardening reject. My lovely (at least in theory) lilac bush, alas, didn't make it. And as with the rosebush, i purchased, i planted, i even remembered to water the lilac bush, but, * sigh *.... Pretty much i stick to growing geraniums, lots and LOTS of geraniums, since they grow so easily here in mild-wintered SF Bay Area that i think our dachshunds could probably grow 'em. (see "the boys" above.)

Other stuff of the day--i thought i'd try my hand at doing some work through a temp agency my good friend works with--but none of that "full time temp to hire" stuff that she's doing, oh no, i want to be someone that floats through a place, leaving well organized files and awestruck workers in my wake--sort of an office Mary Poppins, floating in with my umbrella and carpetbag to save the day.

ANYway, since i was meeting with the temp agency today and i've been out of the workforce for nearly 4 years, i thought maybe i should try to buy something appropriately interview-ish. And FINE, i know i'm curvy in a very "not of this century" way, but why do clothing manufacturers need to rub it in? "Yes, we know you are larger than the people who shop in the cute clothes sections, but just in case you weren't aware of that fact, we're going to use X's to call your clothing 'Extra Large'. Oh, and 'Extra EXTRA Large.' And then if you don't feel bad enough yet, 'Extra EXTRA EXTRA Large'." Whose stupid idea was that?? Some tiny little Size 2 woman with the metabolism of a hummingbird? (i just looked that up--a hummingbird can eat 1 1/2 to 3 times their weight in insects and nectar in a day--so much for "eating like a bird", eh?)

No business attire in hand, i took my new sunglasses and new underwear to the cashier. (That's close to "interview clothes," right?) The clerk looked up from ringing up my lavender undies and said, "Lingerie is 'final sale', no returns." i looked at her, startled, and said "i hope so!" i mean, that would just be gross.

i met with the temp agency woman, a very nice lady who tried to put me at ease (too late!) and took a few tests--Word, Excel, keyboarding--(i remember when i thought it would be the coolest thing to have a "portable word processor" the size of an apple crate. Woohoo. And now my purse is bigger than a lot of computers.) That job stuff all went reasonably well. We'll see what happens from here. But i thought doing some stuff a few days here and there, a week now and then, would be a good way to try out how well fibromyalgia and i do in the workplace. i know there are loads of people out there with fibromyalgia and much worse still doing full time jobs, but some days it's a challenge just getting up from a chair or out of a car--or even dress myself.

i know the fibromyalgia doesn't define me as a person, there is a lot more to me than that (i'm talking skills and interests here, not those nasty aforementioned "X's.") The thing is, the fibro does seem to define some of my limits of the moment... But the dead plants, that's all on me.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

the "fun with fibromyalgia" interruption.

Okay, so it isn't really fun, but i liked the "f"s (what's that called? Alliteration maybe? School was a looong time ago...)

When i started wondering a couple of years ago if the aches and pains and dizzyness and extreme fatigue and foggy head were symptoms of something besides being over 50, i went where i always go when learning something new: into the obsession-land of reading, reading, reading. Web searches for this combination of symptoms brought up a number of possibilities, fibromyalgia among them. My doctor, bless her, saw my history of depression and put on her Doctorly Face of Compassion and said, "Often when the issues in our lives are resolved, a person will start to feel better." Okay, and maybe if i didn't always feel like i'd been hit by a bus i'd be less depressed. Just a thought.

Bloodwork showed i didn't have some of the other (scarier) things i was worried about, and the fibromyalgia tender points proved on examination to be, well, tender. Go figure. Unpleasant news, but at least there was a (not terminal) name to go with the face of my symptoms.

i guess what i've been trying to learn since is that i may as well stop arguing and instead try to make friends with this stranger, this interruption of my "real" life. i have some thoughts on what caused it to drop by for an extended visit, but i can't change that. So i'm trying to be the good hostess and learn what i can do to make its stay more comfortable. That's an easier job on some days than others.

"If all your friends jumped off a blog..."

Well, here i am, embarking on the blog journey. i can just hear a mother somewhere saying sternly, hands on hips, "If all your friends jumped off a blog, would you jump too??" The answer? Apparently i would.

i've been perusing blogs lately--some friends, some random strangers as i follow a link to a link to a link. One thing i've always enjoyed is seeing what's going on inside somebody's head, and blogs give others a peek. So in a way i guess i'm putting my own head on display. My friends, please be kind as you look in the dusty corners.