Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Ultimate Sweating Machine.

The thing i asked hubby for this year was the Ultimate Sweater Machine. As advertised:
The Ultimate Sweater Machine® is the fast, easy way to knit!

Learn today, make it tonight, wear it tomorrow!

They lie.
i've been sweating over it for most of a week now, with my success vs mess-ups ratio at about 50/50. For as the lady on the dvd says, "for some of you, this will come easily, while for others of you...." --here her voice fades out, and the voice in MY head says, "it will be a total b***ch!"

i decided early on, given those odds, i would rise to the challenge and allow myself time to become familiar and perhaps even proficient on said Sweating Machine. i've had moments of sheer brilliance, where row upon row sang sweetly. i've also had looong moments of sheer frustration, where numerous stitches were skipped, leaving me pitchy and tuneless. But i'm gaining on it. The Machine and i are developing a relationship.

Before the arrival of my gift, i imagined myself knitting "600 to 1200 stitches per minute!" while whipping out sweaters with clever cables and perhaps making "a sweater or afghan in two evenings." (That's what the ad says.)

Currently i'm imagining myself completing a potholder in reasonable harmony.

Seriously though, once The Machine and i become true friends, i believe we can do beautiful things together. Until then i have resigned myself to the fact that i fall into category 2, the one for whom the road to success is roughly paved. i have a mental picture of a category 1 long, leggy Swedish model sitting down to her knitting machine and casually (and with perfect teeth and posture) beginning to make a beautifully fitted sweater on her first try. At the moment i am the stubbier and sweatier hausfrau to her right, yarn and hair in tangles, wild-eyed and giggling insanely over her machine.

i'll give myself a few more days. i'm going to master it, really i am. i'll keep you posted.

OH--Skimmer's Recap--
Ultimate Sweater Machine, harder than it looks. Leggy Swedish model (HAH! Got your attention there, didn't i?) with smooth road. Me, old fashioned cobblestones with potholes and too many analogies. (Metaphors? Whatever.)

Day to remember.

Christmas day was lazy for me--years ago, i used to be the one trying to get the potatoes to be ready when the stuffing was ready when the turkey was ready, and remember how the heck to make gravy. These days, and for a number of years past, i contribute in some small way, but haven't been the main chef. This has been due to the fact that my oldest loves to cook, and my youngest daughter's husband loves to cook. Me, not so much. So i'm very happy to be the cheerleader: "Go, team, go! Cook, team, cook!" These days the biggy for me is making cinnamon rolls for whoever is at my house on Christmas morning.

This year we had Christmas dinner at my daughter Corinne's house, where she and husband/chef Luis were in charge of the eating festivities. For appetizers we had a selection of cheeses with baguettes and red grapes. Then we had a tender lamb roast stuffed with sauteed chard and feta cheese, with herbed mashed potatoes, and roasted parsnips and carrots in a maple and mustard glaze. Luis had roasted beets and did whatever one does to roasted beets, and made a lovely salad of beets, watercress, and candied walnuts in a citrus vinagrette.

At not-quite-seven, grandgirl Cassidy loved the sugared walnuts and the dressing, but wasn't so crazy "about the cress." She also wouldn't eat the carrots, but ate the parsnips. Haley, ten, will eat pretty much any vegetable, and has been caught with her finger in more than one dessert, but she didn't like the sugared nuts. What kid doesn't like pretty much anything covered in sugar?

Our family seems to have a gift for overdoing the whole dessert thing, though. We had less than the usual almost one dessert per person--only a one dessert to two people ratio this time around. We all managed to get some of that down. It was a great meal, the 11 of us fit just fine in a small living/dining room, something i think a few of us (namely Corinne and Luis!) were concerned about.

It's a bigtime thankful thing for me, being together like that, especially while enjoying someone else's cooking.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas thoughts.

holly trees
outside my childhood home
sweet smell
of green needled boughs dripping
from mantles
found months later in crannies
each year
of white lights or colored
the new again
of treasured ornaments
the old again
of Christmas songs
the joy
in gifts given in love
the greater joy
of God's Gift

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's a new day, it's a new pill, for me

So, the hard stuff. The doc prescribed methadone. Apparently it's been used as a strong painkiller since the 40's. But what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word "methadone"? That's right--i just say, "and the upside is, i can finally kick my heroin habit." Yup, it's what heroin addicts are treated with.

It's a synthetic, and works like morphine, from the opiate family. (The Opiate family. There's a joke in there somewhere: "And this is our daughter, Poppy. She's a sweet one, but kind of in her own world...") Morphine was Hubby's drug of choice for kidney stones. He'd go from shrieking like a little girl to snoring like an old drunk in thirty seconds. And i'd be left sitting there in the emergency room reading ten year old copies of Sunset magazine.

Anyway, the doctor assured me methadone would be a good painkiller, and perhaps allow me to get going with life again. We're starting super slow, half a tiny little pill at night for a week, then add half a pill in the mornings for a week, then give him a call and let him know how it's going.

So far i've been super sedated feeling--had some days where i slept more hours than i was awake, had some (more than usual) dizzy and brainless days. And all of this has been accompanied by some pretty good pain. And my nights have been ones of waking every couple of hours, meaning not the soundest sleep when i'm getting it. So i'm still waiting around for Poppy to get busy workin' her magic.


What the heck. It's only somethin' like 250 words! Just read it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rules and regulations of the Pain Clinic.

More on yesterday's visit to the Chronic Pain Management Clinic--

There are lots of rules, it would seem, to keep in mind when participating in the clinic's program. One must not focus on one's pain and talk about one's pain. One will instead write an entry in one's "pain journal" once each hour, then let it go. We are learning instead to focus on other things about our lives of a more positive nature.

One will not socialize with other program attendees outside of the confines of the program. When socializing within program time, one will speak of hobbies, trips taken, gardening, and such positive and non-pain oriented topics.

One will not help another program participant--if another drops their pen, it is up to them to pick it up. One would not want to rob another of the victory of doing something for themself.

One will focus only on one's own self, not on others and their issues. These are some of the rules for Pain Management Clinic Program Level 3's 5 weeks times 4 days per week.

One will not give or receive gifts, one will not work even part time during the program. One will only be excused from program for extreme emergencies (i'm thinking death.)

Hubby says that behind every rule there is a story. "I wonder what happened to inspire that rule," he said when we were discussing the "no socializing outside of program" rule. The program being as old as my younger daughter, 27 years, there have no doubt been many stories.

"Well," i can hear the Don't Talk About Pain team saying to each other after married participant A takes up with married participant Q, "we better make a rule to put the kabosh on that. Didn't see that one coming."

"What else are we missing?" another team member says to the others. "Yunno, I'm really tired of picking up stuff for those lazy a** program people. Let's make a rule that says they have to pick up their own stuff! We can make up something about how it made some man feel victorious for picking up his own pen when he dropped it--" They all nod and grin and maybe exchange a few high-fives.

Honestly, i do get it. Truly, i understand that sometimes asking somebody else how they're feeling is a great way to ignore what's going on with me, i understand that someone who waits for other people to do for them will just get more and more deconditioned physically. i understand. i even know that in 27 or 28 years of the clinic they've learned a few things that work. But let's just admit it, one enjoys being cynical, doesn't one?

OH--lest i forget, the Skimmer's Recap:

Pain Clinic Program=No helping, no fraternizing. No gifts, no absences, no working. No pain talk. Rules=stories. Cynical=me.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A couple of shades of day.

Today was a fun day, then an interesting and sorta stressful day.

For those of you who *skim* (you know who you are--) there will be a Skimmer's Recap at the end. So you may jump directly there.

Okay, now i'm just hoping there are still others reading the middle--but i shall forge ahead, whatever the reading population is in this Between Land.

Hubby of mine went with me to meet up with daughter Corinne at Ikea. i love Ikea. So much to see, never enough time, or energy. The first time she and i visited Ikea when it was a new and exciting local adventure, at the end she said, "It's like visiting a theme park--you have to park way far away, you spend hours, and then you're exhausted afterward." Ah, but we loved that day, i myself was in retail heaven, and left dreaming of nicely arranged coordinating rooms with no stacks and piles of miscellaneous Living Leftovers.

Anyway, this Christmas we are meeting at Corinne's, and chef husband Luis is cooking. How cool is that? They're pretty excited about it, (as am i!) and planning how to fit 10 or 11 people into a tiny apartment. Since they have small sets of dishes and silverware and such, we looked at plates and glasses and linens. Didn't find much of the things we were looking for, but we each managed to spend some money. Funny how that works. It was fun.

From there hubby and i went straight to my appointment with the Chronic Pain Management Clinic. We met with "the team," which meant i went into the meeting feeling intimidated already. They're nice people, don't get me wrong, but i wasn't sure what to expect. i know at 54 i am considered A Grownup, but i still have a hard time not going before those authority types without trepidation. They asked questions, i answered the best i could, trying to use good body language and not drooling. i think i pulled it off.

Anyway, the next opening for the program isn't until APRIL 22ND!! i guess that's the handy thing about chronic pain, it's not going anywhere, and i will no doubt still have it in April.

One of the doctors becomes my pain medication guy at this point. i decided that instead of trying to manage my pain simply with ibuprofen, i will try the "hard stuff." Rather than being proud (and in pain) i will try being a humble user of something stronger, and hopefully not in pain. i have mixed feelings about that--on the one hand i have feared medications that are habit forming, what with my heritage being of the addictive persuasion. On the other hand, i'd like to NOT HURT SO STINKING MUCH! So guess which hand wins?

i have a mix of feeling that i'm giving up on getting better (some people with fibro seem to get it under control) and of hope. The hope comes from thinking that if these guys at the clinic have as much success as they seem to, maybe my mental/emotional self will allow me to take the steps to be physically healthier.

SO--here's the Skimmer's version, as promised:
Today--Ikea, Fun. Doctors, stressful yet interesting. New pain med, mixed feelings, giving up? hope? We'll see.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Note from husband.

"You write four thousand words and wonder why anybody would skim!!"

Isn't he just too cute for (four thousand) words.

Dream a little dream of--

Well, it was policemen. And rain. And exercise equipment. And incarceration.

My counselor was so good at the whole dream thing, i loved it. She knows all the meanings of the different rooms in a house, even what it means based on how many bedrooms there are in a house you dream about. On these days, after a vivid and weird dream, i wish i was still in therapy. (Well, actually, on many days i wish i was! If i could only carry her around in my pocket for those troublesome life events. "Pardon me," i would say, and nip into the ladies, where i could open my pocket and ask, "So, how do i respond to that??")

i have a website i go to in the absence of a good counselor. i'm not sure it always gives me sound advice, but it gives me ideas and choices. It's, and i at least have fun with it. It's not up to the par of Joseph and the coat of many colors: "The seven fat cows stand for seven years of plenty, and the seven skinny cows stand for seven years of famine." (Yes, i watched Veggie Tales the other day with Adina's 2 year old daughter--you can learn a lot from those things!) But then Joseph got his dream interpretations from God, and that's a whole lot more accurate place to get your info. And i don't have my personal pocket therapist, and frankly i can't picture bothering God with, "so, there was rain, a hospital, and policemen in slickers--whaddya think?" So for now i'll refer to Dream Moods and do my own surmising.

Okay, so, there was also a bit about an exercise room in the hospital basement, all dusty and looking like an afterthought, with a treadmill among other bits of equipment. You could see the pipes in the ceiling, making it look very basement-y. There was also a bit where we were in the back seat of a police car being taken to the hospital. i remember looking out the back window of the car at the street lined mostly with small stores. So, two sections involved looking out the window at the rain and the police in their slickers.

Okay, let me at it:

Dream Moods says about police:

"Police. To see the police in your dream, indicates some failure to perform or to honor obligations and commitments. The police also symbolize structure, rules, and control. A more direct interpretation of seeing the police in your dream forewarns that you should avoid reckless behavior. To dream that you are arrested by the police, suggests that you feel sexually or emotionally restrained because of guilt."

--and about rain:

"Rain. To dream that you get wet from the rain, signifies that you will soon be cleansed from your troubles and problems. Rain also symbolizes fertility and renewal.
To see and hear rain falling, symbolizes forgiveness and grace.
To dream that you are watching the rain from a window, indicates that spiritual ideas and insights are being brought to your awareness. It may also symbolize fortune and love.
To hear the tapping of the rain on the roof, denotes spiritual ideas and blessings coming to mind. It may also suggests that you will receive much joy from your home life."

--and raincoats:

"Raincoat. To dream that you are wearing a raincoat, suggests that you are shielding yourself from your emotions. You are not able to face the nastiness. It also refers to your pessimistic outlook."

Let's not forget the basement:

"Basement. To dream that you are in a basement, symbolizes your unconscious mind and intuition. The appearance of the basement is an indication of your unconscious state of mind and level of satisfaction.
To dream that the basement is in disarray and messy, signifies some confusion in which you need to sort out. It may also represent your perceived faults and shortcomings."

So, now to piece these together into a cohesive idea. (Insert clearing of the throat here.) The things i've been troubled by lately have been the whole idea of being stuck with stupid chronic pain from this fibromyalgia, and never getting well like some people seem to. i have not been successful at getting myself to exercise because, One, i'm in pain, (chronically!) and B, i'm exhausted. Also chronically. Now, never mind the fact that if i were to get my lazy bootie going, i might feel better, or if i could figure out how to eat to lose weight without irritating my IBS, i might feel better. Tomorrow is my appointment (FINALLY) with the Chronic Pain Management Clinic team at Kaiser, where i will be assessed and they will set up my time to start the program (after waiting several more months, it sounds like. But why hurry? The pain is chronic, and not going anywhere.) Oh--and i've been talking to my youngest daughter, who is making huge strides in her life, choosing to make positive changes, and hopefully shed some of the family cement overshoes like frozen anxiety. So using all these things floating about in my head, plus the interpretations courtesy of Dream Moods, here goes.


If seeing police offers choices between meaning "don't be reckless" and not honoring obligations or committments, i'll have to go with the obligations thing, and the structure/rules/control bit. Why? you ask. Because for me, "life on the edge" extends about as far as backing off the driveway without my seatbelt fastened. i'm not the risk taking sort. i'm also not great at rules, but that fits more closely, since i know i need to honor committments to improve the health of my body, and that requires--yes--structure. Rules. Control. (Crap.) The interpretation that involves guilt is right up my family alley too--one of my biggest issues includes taking on guilt. Guilt about my imperfections, guilt about the imperfections i've passed on to my children. Guilt about everything clear down to global warming. It's all me.

And if seeing/hearing rain means renewal, grace, and forgiveness, well, that's a mighty fine thing to follow on the heels of all that NOT honoring obligations, NOT being perfect. Who can't use a little grace and forgiveness raining down on them? We guilt-ridden folk tend to forget about grace and forgiveness. And renewal? That gives one hope. And watching the rain from a window is a specific thing, that of spiritual insights being brought to your awareness. All good!

The raincoat is an interesting element--i was not wearing one, the keepers of the structure and rules were wearing them. So, if my wearing one means i'm shielding myself from nastiness, then the structure-keepers wearing them could mean i'm shielding myself from what i see as their imposing of structure on my life? This leaves me in an uncomfortable place--i strive (after five years of therapy) to not be a victim, but to realize that i am the one to steer my own ship (or in the case of someone not crazy about water or the connected analogies, perhaps my own very large flotation device in a very shallow and small pool?) And the pessimism Dream Moods mentions? i choose to ignore that. (She said pessimistically.)

In this struggle with my body and the outside interveners who say i *should* do these things to be better, i'm afraid it's easy to fall back into the victim mode. *They* don't understand. *They* don't know how i feel. And yet i know i need to steer my own innertube.

This leaves me with the dusty/musty basement with the treadmill and such. If the appearance of the basement signifies my state of mind, i think i may be in deep do-do. "Dusty" and "Musty" sound like two of the Seven Dwarfs of this annoyance that has been named Fibromyalgia. (But that sounds like another post altogether. It amuses me to contemplate that.) And if the disarray means some confusion i need to sort out, or my perceived faults and shortcomings, this fits with where my subconscious lives regarding the fibro. MY fault is i'm not structured enough. MY shortcoming is i don't honor the committments to my body. MY guilt is because of MY faults. MY MY MY.

Hmm. Do i try to take a fair amount of the power away from God in all this struggle? Do i think i'm alone, but for my Two Dwarfs? Okay, so i need to steer, but i can ask for help. And i need to quit thinking of this fibro as something i did to myself and step back a bit.

Or maybe it was just the butler in the library with the candlestick. It's beginning to hurt to think.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Something new for Christmas.

This is not a lovely story of Christmas cheer, rather, this is a story of simply me at Christmas.

i usually am not thrilled about wrapping gifts. My sister got the ability to make neat corners and pretty bows, and the joy in coordinating ribbons and papers. i got the ability of admiring her neat corners, pretty bows and coordinating ribbons and papers. These days my answer to the wrapping dilemma is to find paper i like and buy a bag of bows, hopefully in the after-Christmas sales to use the next year. Oh--and sticky tags. i love those sticky tags. But weirdly, i was in the mood to wrap presents yesterday, so i pulled out my couple of rolls of paper, my sticky tags and bag of bows (from last year's after Christmas sales) and started wrapping.

As i pulled a gift from the box where i'd been stuffing the presents as i'd bought them over the months, i thought, Weird, i'd swear i already wrapped this same thing.

Since it is a gift for my husband, and since he does at least *skim* this blog, i can't get too specific. But yes, i have apparently bought the same thing for him twice this year for Christmas. Guess i must think he'll like it--guess i must have thought a couple of times that he'd like it.

This is something i don't recall doing on previous years--but then, i didn't recall buying the same thing twice, either.

Friday, December 07, 2007

What i like in a blog.

This greeted me on my iGoogle desktop this morning:

"A writer is dear and necessary for us only in the measure of which he reveals to us the inner workings of his very soul." Leo Tolstoy (Russian Writer)

That kind of honesty and vulnerability is what i cherish in friends and blog-mates. That and a little humor, and i'm good to go.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

One thing much funnier when seen on YouTube.

i had actually started to write this post in October, when i lived the moment, but moved on past it and never finished. But yesterday i was reminded--i was leaving friend Adina's house, and there was a light sprinkle coming down. She said, "Just be careful and please don't fall going down the stairs!" For a split second i couldn't think why she would possibly say that--i mean, i'm clumsy and all that, but really.

Then i flashed on The Day, the "funnier when seen on You Tube" day. Picture it: the same house, the same rainy day, the same slippery steps. Me, carefully holding onto the railing, not wanting to land on my butt and be in pain for days. Proudly, i stepped off the last step, and WHAM--i was on my back, laying on the painted concrete pad at the bottom of the stairs. Cleverly, i had raised my head a bit so it didn't take the full impact, and managed to let the other more padded bits of me take it.

Poor Adina, thinking i had been broken right there in her yard, and me thinking, "Idiot! Idiot! Idiot!"

But i was not broken, no. How i could do that and escape unscathed, and yet slip going down my inside stairs and break a toe, who knows?

But definitely, oh definitely, it was one thing MUCH funnier when seen on You Tube.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

(No) self control.

When i woke up this morning, i thought, "i'm going to dinner tonight, i have juice in the fridge, maybe i should do a daytime juice fast." Feeling quite proud of my dietary impulses, i went downstairs to the kitchen. The juice fast quickly became a juice-and-one-peppermint-cookie fast. i mean, i have these lovely cookies my friend Adina made! How can i not have just one?

i continued my day, doing paperwork, drinking water and juice. Lunchtime came. Oh shoot--i have that leftover piece of really good pizza in the fridge--i don't want it to get too old to eat! And my juice fast became a juice-and-one-peppermint-cookie-and-one-piece-of-really-good-leftover-pizza fast.

i'm still going out for dinner tonight.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Borrowed thoughts.

My husband, "the skimmer," commented that i hadn't written lately on my blog. (i think at first he thought i might have taken him off the mailing list due to his skimming offense.) But truth is, all the overthinking and pondering i do on a daily basis just hasn't been terribly interesting. With this cold having a much longer run than many Broadway plays, i haven't felt very bright or deep or pensive. So, possibly the best thing to do is turn your eyes upon the words of others more bright, pensive, and thoughtful than i feel.

Magistramater's thoughts on Giving With Grace, thoughts on giving, for the Christmas season.

Tersie's thoughts on Could This Be Why? addressing the view young people today have of Jesus vs Christianity (or what i like to call "Churchianity.")

And from a day when i definitely was in a deeper frame of mind:
Walking in the Cool of the Day, on spending time with God.