Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I'm Glad I'm Not a Cat

I have often kidded and mentioned that if there is anything to reincarnation, I'd love to come back as a cat to a house that loves cats.

I'm not quite sure I still feel that way.

Tonight, I was brushing my beloved Silkie. She's now 5 years old and been with me for 3-1/2 years. She loves the routine we've developed for the good night quality time.

After I shut off the TV in the living room, I get down on the floor. By that time, she has already made it plain to me that she is ready for her "spa" treatment - her massage. I take my time brushing her. She has absolutely no ticklish spots. I usually pull the fur off the brush at least 3 times during our session which generally runs between 10 and 20 minutes.

Tonight, I was thinking about a commercial that Swiffer has. A mother and son are discussing their dog, Lulu, and her shedding problems. The Swiffer gadget that arrives at their door takes care of the fur on the floors and everywhere else, of course. And she makes a comment to the effect that the hair sticks to everything but Lulu.

That's my Silkie. I thought she was the only one like that.

When she first came home, my middle-aged "nephew" was still alive. After the first two or three weeks, we realized that I definitely needed to brush this cat every night. Not just a few times a week. Every night.

All we had to do was walk past her, or have her walk past us, and we looked like werewolves.

Tonight I was looking at her while I was brushing and thinking that if I came back as a cat, I might be itchy all over because I'd have fur all over. I would not like the hairball ejection process. And I don't think I'd like the litter box routine. Also, I don't like eating creepy crawlies while they are alive.

So, I guess I won't be saying anything about wanting to come back as a cat any longer. I think I've looked at the reality of that pipe dream.

It was fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What to Say When Words Are Not Enough

There have been many times in my life when no matter what I say to someone who is suffering, I know it will not be enough.
I have several friends who are suffering these past weeks and months and even longer.

I say the usual things, of course. "I'll keep you in my heart and prayers." "If you need to vent, I'm only a few keystrokes away."

I might email. I might send a card. But I know in my heart that no matter what I say, it will not be enough.

The truth is - there are many times when no matter what we say to someone in that type of situation, we know it is not enough.

The answer to my own question of what to say is simply this: say what I can; say what I mean; and simply make it plain that I care and I sympathize and I am there.

We can't always physically help our friends and loved ones. But sometimes they feel better just knowing someone is trying to understand what they are going through.

When I went through 24 weeks of weekly chemo during my Stage 3 Colon Cancer treatments, and also had to deal with one year of a colostomy before that was reversed, folks said many things to try to help. The cancer had already made it into my lymph system. There wasn't much they could do. But just knowing folks cared made all the difference in the world to me.

Yes, there were days and nights when I just didn't want "to play any longer" and I wanted to just say, "Stop already! No more IVs, no more fluids going into my body, no more needle pokes to take blood out for tests. No more!"

Then I'd remember all those who cared and I'd take a deep breath and I'd try another day, and another, and another. That was way back at (are you ready for this?) the turn of the century - I can't believe I am old enough to say that!!!

That is where I'll leave this one, I think. I am actually laughing at that - the fact that I can say I experienced something at the turn of the century. There are quite a few of you reading this who can say that, too - so smile, my friends! 

And say good and caring things to anyone you feel drawn to say it to, and just let it be. It is never enough - and yet, it is enough. Just care.

Unbelievably Happy and Content

I was talking to Silkie, my fat 5-1/2 year old rescue cat this evening. Yes, I talk to her - don't you talk to your pet?

Anyhow, we were sitting outside, quietly, at the street-end of my driveway. It was now dark. Occasionally a car came down the street. Occasionally, a plane or chopper droned above us. She watched for little crawly things. I just watched. And I thought.

I am truly happy. I cannot figure out why or how or what I've done to deserve it, but I must acknowledge it - I am truly happy and content.

That might seem strange to some who know the issues I face constantly. There are so many things I need to do to this old home. There are so many debts I'd truly love to have off my back. But those are external things.

I am talking about true contentment. 

I truly, truly miss some dear old friends and loved ones, folks who have left this earth for a better place. There are still holes in my heart. But they are happy holes because when the feeling comes over me, I have so many happy memories.

And I have my faith. I think that's what it is all about. No matter how much the external troubles might pile up, they always work out. Those that do not always turn out to be things that needed to be dealt with and tossed anyhow.

It's true I have occasional aches and creaks and I limp and have other little physical issues. Mine are minor compared to so many of my dear friends who are battling major health issues right now.

I am blessed with this laptop still working, a backup tower that will connected in a week or two, food in the fridge and freezer, gas in the car, a still-running car (even though it's almost 16 years old), a roof over my head, hot and cold running water, a washer and dryer that still work and are inside this old double wide mobile home (I still remember the decades of going to coin laundries), the Oak Ridge Boys singing to me on a VCR tape I'm playing on the old analog tv with the built-in VCR, and more - so much more. Again, these are external joys.

Lord Jesus, thank you so much for having always been there for me, for having sacrificed for me and for everyone else, for the peace you bring to me if I do not shut you out. Please look kindly upon those I care about who are still on this earth, and if it be according to the Father's plan, fill them, likewise, with this peace, the peace that surpasseth all understanding!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Donated Yarn in Bad Condition - a Real Challenge

We "inherited" a small amount of light/mint green balls of yarn for our charity crafting group last week. There were 4 balls that were perhaps 3 oz each.

I planned to add them to our charity crafting donation stash. We each keep it separate from our personal stash of yarn.

Something made me check it out. Turns out is must be wool because every so many yards, it's like a critter ("moth" obviously) nibbled the yarn. I decided to use it right away.

This was a real challenge. I knew I'd need to cut and re-join many times with each ball. At first I tried the Russian Join (link here) but even that was too much trouble because the stretches of good yarn were not very long. I ended up simply knotting the two ends together and crocheting over them.

I had decided to work it into our favorite fingerless glovespattern. I was able to make 4 pairs - small, medium, large, extra large. It is a little lumpy in some places. It would not work for a gift or for my Etsy shop, but it will work very well for cold hands in our desert cold this winter.

The gloves are sturdy, and the wool makes them very warm for that particular type of recipient.

I'll toss them into a bag with a cedar ball until we give out the first batch of things to the homeless, probably sometime next month.

I'm so glad I followed my instincts on this.

What a Good Feeling - Shelter Costs Covered This Month

This is the first time in almost 3 years that I have paid all my shelter bills and the most important loans and it isn't even the 20th. That is progress. It doesn't mean it will go that well next month, but I am thrilled at this little miracle and this delightful moment of peace.

I have two old bills that will one day be cleared up but I am not going to fret over those.

What delights me is that with His help and the help of others, friends and agencies alike, I did get through this month. Not only that, nothing is late this month. No late fees. That alone is a miracle. The gas, electric, telephone, rent - all paid on time.

That said, most of you know that even a small unexpected outlay of funds means it comes out of shelter bills.

Last month, there was the annual tax on this old mobile home. Granted it is very low but it is only once a year and needed to be paid.

This month, it was a small fee to my tech guy to check this old laptop I'm using. He managed to check it completely, tweak it here and there, and it has been behaving but we know that won't last. Meanwhile, a friend blessed me with her hand-me-down HP tower.

As soon as next month's funds arrive, I'll call my tech guy and we'll set that up and I can re-open my Etsy shop and hope for a few sales before Christmas.

Meanwhile, I have plenty of food and there is fuel in the car. I can't ask for more than that.

Sweet Lord Jesus, thank you with all my heart and soul for your love and compassion and for being there for me. You've told us not to worry because the Father takes care of the lilies of the field. I think sometimes I'm a thorny branch and yet I am still blessed with what I need. Thank you!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Freezer Fill-up Time Rolls Around

The weather is cooling down, the freezer is getting less full, so it's time to start filling it once more with crock pot meals.

Today I took a defrosted head of cabbage and cut it into one-inch-cubes, plus a really meaty ham bone, celery, onion, and tossed it all in the pot, and set it for overnight cooking. I didn't have room for the carrots and potatoes so they'll be done tomorrow early on the stove and then added to the individual freezer containers later in the day.

I will be able to freeze quite a few meals for the future.

Over the next week or two, there will be more meals going into that beloved upright freezer, my special friend.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Technology Update - I'm Excited

My friends are all aware of my recent tech troubles. My current hand-me-down laptop is not stable or reliable these days. For a few weeks, I was constantly turning it upside down, removing the battery and replacing it (a sort of hard boot) when it refused to load Windows. This was unpredictable.

My tech guy has given it a thorough look-see and we've both concluded that when my former surge protector fried (I could literally smell it), it might have damaged a component in the laptop.

Meanwhile, a dear long-time friend mentioned she had a tower that she no longer needed. We compared notes as to what I needed and what she had. This morning, we were happy to connect on timing and I picked it up and brought it home.

I'll call my tech guy on Monday and have him help me transfer stuff from the laptop to the tower.
Thanks to a neighbor, I have a flat screen monitor and a keyboard so I'll be all set. It will take a lot off my mind, not knowing how long this laptop will last.

This tower is so small compared to the ones I've had in the past. It doesn't feel as heavy as a loaf of bread! We've come a long way and I suppose I've been way behind.

From what I could find on the internet, this one has more "storage" but a tiny bit less memory. Shouldn't be much different than what I'm using. All in all, it will be an improvement.

It looks as though it has 2 USB ports in the front and 2 in the back. That would be a luxury for me. I won't have to unplug/switch every time I go from my inkjet printer for home use to the laser printer for community newsletter use. I like that.

Another tech issue I've been waging gentle war with is my TV setup. 

I hope to once more tackle the TV/converter/antenna issues this coming week. 

I am determined to get these things working. There is NO reason why I cannot do this. I did it with one setup already in here. It's true I am not be able to handle a smart phone but we're talking "old school" technology here. We'll see.

Technology - isn't it great?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Silver Linings and Rainbows and Birds that Sing

There have been many times in my life when I was afraid to admit I was happy. I had a tendency to be "waiting for the other shoe to drop." Some of those times were in my not-so-good years, my alcoholic 20s and 30s. But even at that, I've had many and many happy moments.

I've learned to take those moments and treasure them. Happiness, I've found, is not eternal (at least not here on earth) and it's not consistent. The moments come and go.

Today, for example, in between doing some minor household chores, I snuggled for half an hour on the couch, a small crocheted afghan on me, and I allowed myself to thoroughly enjoy the happiness that spread throughout my being while I watched a Blue Bloods re-run.

Part way during the day, I remembered I had a container of generic mint chocolate chip ice cream in the fridge freezer. I took it out and scraped a teaspoon, twice, along the smoothness. And I allowed myself to smile and make good-food noises while it melted in my mouth.

Sometimes I feel that "other shoe" anticipation when the happy moments pop up in the midst of sadder times. That's when we tend to feel guilty because we think we shouldn't be happy in the midst of tragedy or troubles or such. But that isn't so. I believe God gives us those breaks, the little silver linings, to show us that there is always hope, always a  moment or two to savor.

The trick is to do exactly that - savor them.

Thank you, Father, for the little delights you send our way. Thank you for the silver linings and the rainbows and the roses and the mint chocolate chip taste in our mouths. How does that little children's mealtime rhyme go? "Thank you for the world so sweet. Thank you for the food we eat. Thank you for the birds that sing. Thank you God for everything."

My Slightly Productive Day

Not that it amounted to much, but I did actually do a little today in here. 

What did I do? Two loads of laundry, changed the bed linens and the bath towels - that's about it.

But I did move a few things around, checking out what I will be putting out for the Park Wide Yard Sale the 2nd weekend of October in our senior mobile home park.

Our weather is cooling down a bit so I am more likely to run in and out of the house, off and onto the driveway and in and out of the shed. 

Cooling down? Well, for us here in Vegas, a 98 high for the day is a delight when compared with this summer's frequent 114 and over.

Having grown up in Philly's humidity and then later in South Jersey until I was 40, the weather here is comparable to the spring back then. From here on in, we'll have reasonably cool mornings and evenings and nights. The heat of the day will be brief and tolerable.

Delightful. At least from now until next May.

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Blessings of the Internet

Although I often give thanks for blessings of all types, I don't think I've ever thanked the Lord for my connection to the Internet.

Like the rest of us, I can often get on my soapbox about its evils and dangers.

But there are many, many things to be thankful for on the Internet.

For example, when I was young, all we had was snail mail (slow), Western Union (fast but expensive and limited in word count), and long distance on landline telephones (not always clear reception and always expensive).

Today we have instant connection and connection in many ways. We can connect via email, social media, and smart phone apps.

We can connect for both joys (happy graphics and happy news) and jolts (the sad news from friends). But it is quick and timely.

We can get instant information. This is not always reliable so we need to use common sense. Back in the day, we didn't need to worry. Our local librarian would sift out the useless info and lead us to pertinent info.

In matters of faith, I love how quickly I can find an appropriate bible verse or reference. Not only that, but I can find it in any of dozens of different bible versions.

Also, we can share our concerns, our prayers answered, and ask for prayers in our own lives.

When I think of all those miles and mountains that Jesus had to travel to spread the word, I often wonder what he would do in today's world.

Lord Jesus, what an amazing world we live in today. I can barely imagine how your word would spread using today's technology. But then, we might not have the human factor of stories and miracles like the loaves and fishes. Everything in its time, I suppose. Help me to keep it all in perspective. I am thankful for these blessings and benefits. Please help me to be careful in the ways I use them.

I Have Been a Very Bad Girl

Ok, I've been very bad these past few days. Of course, you all know I've been cashing in on my free birthday goodies from places like Denny's and IHop and so forth, and I know I promised a list for all of you and that is almost finished.

To be fair to myself, I usually only eat half of what is presented and I bring home doggie bags and freeze the rest. Also, because of often-limited funds, I sometimes just get water instead of paying for a beverage. I try to only need to leave a tip.

Already, I've thoroughly enjoyed a Denny's Slam and an IHop Rooty Tooty.

Now - here's where I've been bad. Very bad.

Ok. I only ate half. But that is still a couple of pancakes, some with syrup, some with whipped cream, some with both. Plus there are the sausage links. And the butter/margarine (Does anyone say "oleo" these days? I'm dating myself).

Then there was the very very rich and sweet and mightily delicious FREE Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino in all its whipped cream glory.

Because I still have another IHop pancake breakfast coming, probably Thursday or maybe even Wednesday, you'd think I'd be careful about my other food intake each day.


Suddenly all of these goodies have awakened the glutton in me. Well, not in volume, but more in the quality (or lack thereof) of my food the rest of the time.

Today, for instance, I had this awful craving for something I haven't had in over a year: a grilled cheese sandwich.

Unfortunately, I happened to have the fixings on hand. These days, I rarely have a loaf of bread on hand. I stopped that about two years ago. But last week I was in Smith's and a 7-grain day old deal called to me and I bought it for only $0.99 and tossed it in the fridge, planning to make French Toast out of it. I've been nibbling away at that loaf. One day it was a PB&J. Another day it was just Cinnamon Toast. 

And today - yep - a rich and delicious and delightfully greasy grilled cheese. The cheese was very thin sliced generic pepper jack and to do it justice, I needed 3 slices - two overlapping on the bottom and one astraddle them on top.

That sandwich was delicious. More than delicious. And it was stringy and joyful, each and every bite. The 7-grain bread gave it a crunchy texture, too.

Now I'm in trouble.

I'm borderline on sugar and cholesterol - so far, I do not need medication, but after this week, I'd better walk a wee bit and I'd better (after my upcoming IHop and my free Baskin Robbins scoop and my free build-your-own-sundae from Denny's and my free thigh from Church's), yes, I'd better, start behaving again.

Until this time next year, that is...

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Past, Present and Future

I was thinking tonight about the past, the present and the future.

At 77, I have lost more friends and loved ones than I care to dwell upon. Yet each one left sweet memories in my mind and in my heart.

I have had more troubles than I had ever expected, but I found my way through them with faith, and found many to be blessings in disguise.

I had many dreams and goals that were never realized or reached, yet I accomplished much more than I could ever have imagined.

I have less than many but more than most.

The past was the past, and I learned from it. I treasure much of it. I look back on some of it to keep myself on the right track.

The present is not bad at all.

I might not be the 150 lbs that I was when I got to NV in '94 but I'm 20 lbs lighter than I was 2 years ago.

I might not be able to complete an entire shift of work these days, on site, but I can still do crafts and other things.

I might limp a little, but I can walk most places without my quad cane or a walker.

The future? My income needs a boost and I am extremely excited about kick-starting my former free lance writing career. I will keep it to my current comfort level, and concentrate on sharing information and experiences, humor (one of my loves), and will work on developing a new avenue for me: devotional writing.

Not a bad view in sight from where I sit - not bad at all.

Sweet Jesus, thank you for always being there for me. Thank you for guiding me in the right direction and for helping me always to be grateful for today and to look forward to tomorrow.

77th Birthday - Sensible, Serene, Sweet

My birthday was never a big deal to me when I was growing up. 

I was the eldest, my sis came next, then my brother. My sis, being the middle child, always felt unwanted for some odd reason, and was always insecure. My brother and I grew up always knowing that Mom would include my sis in our celebrations, somehow, so she wouldn't feel left out. My brother and I never even gave it a second thought. We kids always loved each other (when we weren't arguing, of course). And of course we all were covered on Christmas (poor as it sometimes was) and with our little Easter baskets.

Until I hit 75, the same year I lost my live-in middle-aged "nephew" Frank, it was that way.

But that year, several months after his passing, I discovered fast-food and restaurant "birthday freebies." Foodie that I am, I suddenly fell in love with my birthday!

This morning, for example, I hit Denny's. On your birthday, with nothing more than your photo ID, you can go there any time of day or night and order a Build-Your-Own-Slam, on them. Now, how great is that? This time, I chose eggs scrambled, 4 sausage links (instead of 2 sausage and 2 bacon), and their 2 really big pancakes. I ate the eggs, 2 sausages and 1/2 a pancake there, and brought the rest home. I did indulge and pay for their super-delicious coffee and had 2 cups.

And that is just the beginning of a foodie-indulgent week - I had to make a chart to track the expiration dates. I'll try to post it tomorrow.

For those who are online, I will also make a list of which places to contact and what you get.

And this morning, the charity crafter who has been with us longest brought me a whole bunch of little one-or-two-bite red velvet cupcakes topped with a delicious blob of icing!

Then there were all those Facebook birthday wishes - a ton of them. And a few really great email cards...

Now, how can this not have been a great birthday?

Monday, August 29, 2016

Closing My Etsy Shop Temporarily

We had another "startup" freeze today on the computer. I am working on a checkup for this laptop and working on getting a used tower from a friend. 

But because I do not know what is wrong with this one, and because I do not know when the other one will be up and running, I cannot have someone pay me for an order and risk not being able to see the order - I don't want anyone thinking I am taking their money and not delivering if the computer decides not to start up at all.

I'll close it with a notice that it will be down for 2 to 3 weeks, and hope I have a viable setup running before that.

There's no way I want unfavorable comments against my shop.

At least I have this option - that's a relief.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Unhappy Mirror Image

This morning was productive in that I managed once again to walk the hour and a half it takes me to deliver about 100 of our monthly newsletters to homes in our senior mobile home park. 

The route I volunteered for is close to me. I walk up and down and place the rolled newsletter (secured with a rubber band) to the front railings. I'm not very fast but I can work up a gentle and steady pace.

Today I left at 6:15 a.m. and even though it was in the 70s, it still felt humid because of the recent monsoon activity. By the time I finished, I really needed a shower and I enjoyed it immensely. I must admit that this time my knees felt it for the first time in two years. That's probably a little arthritis because of the recent dampness and rains. Still, when all was done, and the shower was over, I really felt good.

That is, I felt good until I happened to glance in the mirror and realized I looked like I've packed on a few pounds over the summer. That didn't make me very happy. Over the past two years, I've lost 20 pounds and it has stayed off. Until now, I think.

This summer has been exceptionally hot here in Vegas. I haven't done a lot, physically, for that reason. So I'm glad that last week I broke down and for the first time in my life, I washed my own car, climbing up and down on a stool, sudsing, rinsing, toweling it dry. That too, felt good when I finished.

Tomorrow I do the other part of my delivery route, but that's about half of what I did today. Tomorrow will be a piece of cake. But after that glance in the mirror, tomorrow is sorely needed!

Yep, I think it's time to get a little more physical again. The newsletter walk is only once a month. I need motivation to walk.

However, our Fall park-wide yard sale is coming up in about a month. That motivates me to move things around inside, packing boxes and taking them outside for the sale. The bending and lifting involved is very good for me.

I do need to take my age into consideration. A friend and I often remind each other: You're not 39 anymore! I can tell when I need to stop - it's when I begin dropping things or knocking them over. When I spill my coffee, or drop something I'm taking out of the fridge - those are my signals to slow down. I might still be able to multi-task these days, but not to the level I did, say, ten years ago.

Yep, I need to get a little more physical - I did NOT like what I saw in that mirror!