Saturday, November 18, 2017

Reminders of My Faith All Around Me

I had to run out early this morning, dropping yarn at one gal’s porch and some very meager, but I hope, helpful, groceries at another. Along the way, in the dawning all around me at 6 a.m., I was reminded yet again that there are reminders of my faith all around me.

This morning, the light was hitting all of the surrounding mountains. Las Vegas is in a valley. Mountain ranges seem to encircle us. When the light hits a certain way, at a certain time of day, it is incredibly beautiful. Over and over, the words from America The Beautiful sang in my head: “For purple mountain majesties.” They were a glorious soft mauve-like soothing tone. They were majestic and royal. And thrills ran through me. Even as I am typing this, I have shivers of goosebumps.

It is a sight I see often in this area I now call home. I hope and pray I won’t be called to leave here but always in my mind, I will have these memories, this sight.

Reminders of the creator who created it all. That’s where the faith kicks in. I realize he created the sky itself, with the sun and the moon and the clouds and the angles of the rays upon those mountains. He created the mountains themselves, in all their majesty, their height, their strong protective beauty.

Father in Heaven, thank you!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Trying to Fit To-Do’s in Sensibly Over Coming Month or So

Normal daily events and to-do’s are tricky to weave into the upcoming medical events and procedures. I’m not even as concerned about the pain as I am about trying to fit things in. I must look at everything I’d need to buy/get in the house over the next month and pick the heaviest things and get them in this weekend. From Monday morning’s needle biopsy forward, I will have various lift/carry limits and various wound care needs.

We never consider the weight of a bag of litter or a grocery bag with both a large bottle of mouthwash, a can of coffee, and veggies and fruit. Produce, folks, is heavy, but I’ve never needed to worry about that angle of daily life.

Anyhow, I’m squeezing in 2 food pantries today and a farmer’s market on Saturday because there’s no way I can fit them in after Monday morning - it will be close to mid-December before I am eligible for them again and even then, depending on which surgeries I’ve had around that time, I might not be able to carry them into the house.

I must do as much laundry as I can this weekend and I must pack between 5 and 7 huge bags of handmade items for charity crafting distribution for the local homeless. I have no clue when these will be picked up but I will have weight limits after some upcoming procedures from Monday forward. I’ll just spend Sunday packing and documenting and labeling them all and lugging them out onto the back of the driveway and hope I can get them from there to the car when I’m advised of the pickup date/time.

Also this weekend, I need to buy a few reams of paper for the newsletter to hold me until January, again, because it is heavy. And I need to think about my normally casual attitude toward my 3-gallon-jugs of water which I refill during the month.

Mostly, I’m afraid I’ll forget something and regret forgetting it. I’m trying to relax and let my faith guide me...it’s the only way I’ll manage to get it all done simply and easily and I know that can be done - all in good time...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

It is Breast Cancer, But Please Don’t Be Alarmed

Ok. This morning they did the regular "breast exam" by physical touch, followed by a mammogram with a zillion positions, followed by an ultrasound. We rather expected the lump on the left breast to be a simple calcification but it apparently IS cancer.

Do not be alarmed for me, my friends. This is a good thing simply because it was caught so very early. I only discovered the lump around 10/15 - within a few days, I happened to be at the dermatologist for a basal cell cancer on my back shoulder (that's still in the works) and he checked it superficially and thought it was calcification and strongly suggested I check with my primary care guy. My PC squeezed me in on a fast appointment the following week and he, too, felt it was just calcification but he, too, strongly suggested the mammogram.

Bottom line - it is quite small, it is toward the surface which means I found it so much sooner than if it had been deep inside, hidden, so treatment will be fairly minimal. 

Monday I go for a needle biopsy, just to verify that it is cancer so they can get the insurance to approve the next move. About a week after the biopsy, I see the surgeon who will decide whether we should do a cut and/or radiation. Another good thing is that it is the left side which is not my dominant side so it will not affect my driving or crocheting or stapling newsletters or even newsletter delivery. 

Looks like this winter will be round after round of inconvenient doctor visits - Dec. 5 is when I see the surgeon to schedule the excision of the basal cell cancer on my shoulder blade area - but again, these are not the worst of things

All in all, this could have been SO much worse - so I am rejoicing over how minimal it is compared to what it could have been. It would be nice if you could each keep me in your prayers, though. It won't be horribly painful but there will be mild pain and discomfort...

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Octopus Cat Toy Orders - Starting Them This Weekend

Last Christmas season, I played with a “jellyfish cat toy” crochet pattern. I used cotton worsted because I feel cotton is better around pets and babies in case they suck on it. Anyhow, it is really cute. Must post a photo of the one Silkie loves, this week. I made 2 others for a friend with 2 cats.

She wants 5 by Thanksgiving. She’ll ship 4 abroad and 1 is for her sis who saw the ones I made.

I found some great variegated balls of Sugar and Cream on sale at Michael’s early this week, so I’ll start these, and probably finish them, this weekend. We had a time agreeing on the stuffing. I like pom-poms or batting because they are soft and they help the shape. My friend would like styrofoam balls because she felt the cats couldn’t pull those out. But we both agreed the styrofoam could break apart and be ingested later. We compromised on the pom-poms (I buy a bag full of them) or even batting, so long as I toss the catnip in at the end, and then sew the hole completely shut.

I love how these turn out so I can’t wait to do them and then show you all one or two...

Medical Appointment Mania Looms

We’ve all gone through these spells, if not for ourselves, then for a household member. Finally got all my referrals, follow-ups, etc., etc., etc., lined up again.

Next Wednesday is the mammo to verify that lump is only calcification, but to also just have a point of referral for any future issues, on record.

First week of December is a double-header. One morning is the podiatrist. That’s my new quarterly nail cutting since at my silly old age it’s more tricky and less safe for me to do them myself.

And one afternoon is the plastic surgeon. No, I won’t come back looking like my 20-something self, but I hope to come back feeling better about my situation. It’s for the basal cell carcinoma on my back on the shoulder blade. He’ll excise it completely, hopefully, and stitch it. The thing is, I am still doing wound care on the previous excision from about a month ago, morning and night, and it is very difficult because of the placement of the covering I’ve got to twist around in front of a mirror to apply. I will be so relieved when this part is all over.

So, hopefully, I’ll end the year with a few medical issues dealt with and resolved happily. If things are a bit inconvenient and sore along the way, so be it. I’ve been through much worse.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Foodie - Trying to Get Caught Up on Food Prep

I should be getting more produce in another week or so, from one food pantry and one farmer’s market. I really do have to catch up on the stuff that is already in my fridge bins and prep them before they spoil.

Today, I finally rinsed and trimmed a pound of strawberries. And I took a deep breath and stood my ground at the counter and diced all 3 lbs of pears; made 2 4-cup tubs; froze 1. I had a 2-lb deli container of jello which I portioned into little 1/2 cup containers to make it easier to grab and eat when the mood strikes.

This evening, I skinned 10 chicken thighs for overnight in crock pot in BBQ sauce. I’ll pack them individually in the morning.

Tomorrow, I really hope to make another batch of yogurt smoothies so I’ll have them for a week of easy access.

There are still those 4 squash to deal with - I love them when they are cooked but I tend to stall on the prep.

And I am still stalling on defrosting that upright freezer, but I hope to do it this month, no later!

Recent Charity Crafting Distribution of Handmade Baby Items

We are happy to announce our group has made and given away (to Baby’s Bounty) the following items for newborn to year-old babies in need:
Baby Hats -66
Baby Jackets - 43
Baby Blankets - 18
Bibs - 11
Baby Booties - 5 pair
Ponchos - 5
Dresses - 3
Baby’s Bounty distributes to about 100 local agencies! We dropped the items off on October 3rd.

We are a very small group and not registered or non-profit. But somehow, we always receive enough yarn and enough members to do some good in our local area. We have two regular members who show up every week. We have one couple who bring their finished projects to us several times a year. We have one member who lives nearby and has her husband drop hers off to us. And we have two others who bring theirs to us via the other Friday morning member.

We are always amazed at what slow and steady can accomplish.

Overdue Thanks to my Heavenly Father

October was a roller coaster ride for sure. Lots of ups and downs. Lots of bumps on life’s highway. But nothing that could not be dealt with. The pace was the thing that almost wore me down. Things kept happening one on top of another - some bad, but many good.

I sat down today to deal with this month’s bills. I have been in what I call “survival mode” for about 5 years now. Almost the whole time, I’ve faced each new month “in the hole” before I even began. Slowly, steadily, things are simmering down. I’ve plodded along, lived frugally, learned a lot about how to thrive on what little I had. I made a game of it.

Along the way, I’ve been blessed, repeatedly. Sometimes it was help with a sudden bill - the vet for when Silkie broke 3 of her canine teeth, car issues, etc. Sometimes it was food that came my way in amazing degrees from food pantries, from folks who were clearing things out, and from other sources.

I worked the Swagbucks website, occasionally building up enough points for $25 gifts cards to use at the stores. I worked coupons and Free Friday Downloads at Smiths.

And I worked at rekindling my free lance writing work, with one sale so far.

Last month, I ended without stress at the end of the month. Looking at my bills today, for this month, unless something unexpected happens, I hope to finish the month without stress once more.

I’m not sure how to deal with the lack of that stress. Oh, there are still other issues - medical (basal cell carcinoma still to be cut and stitched,  mammo for one lump), an old car whose parts are getting harder to replace, an old house, and an old body. But they are in better shape than they were 5 years ago.

What am I saying? That I might not be in the best of all possible situations, but I am certainly not in the worst. Thank God - literally. And thanks to my friends and agencies and opportunities I refuse to overlook.

Heavenly Father, thank you for getting me over all the bumps. Thank for you helping me get all the bills paid, for cluing me to check situations with my car, with my health, before they get out of hand. Thank you for the patience, the stamina, and above all, for the faith. And please bless anyone who helped me in any way, even with a simple prayer - thank you for hearing those simple prayers!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hello, November!

I forgot to mention night before last, the 31st, that I also managed to somehow send in 3 more stories to the Chicken Soup for the Soul folks. I keep moving along on these. Hope to repeat my joy again one of these months.

Had to get a little active in the kitchen today. Projects piling up and doing them makes things easier next few days.

Made 2 quarts of milk from the dry powder; ground some walnuts; made carrot/raisin/avocado salad; and made a tub of Jello.

I use that milk for cereal each day. The chopped walnuts went into a peanut butter jar and I’ll add a heaping tablespoon of those along with chopped peanuts to my oatmeal when I have that. The carrot/raisin salad is something I love to nosh on when a craving for something sweet but filling hits me plus it’s healthy. And I use 2 small boxes of sugar free gelatin in 2 different flavors and it fills a 2-lb deli container and also satisfies my sweet tooth in a healthy way.

I still have so much to do. Things moved really fast in October and my plans were constantly being revised but it all went well. Still, I need to get stuff off the back of my driveway this weekend. I’m hoping to do a pretty good job of that Saturday and Sunday - sorting for thrift store pickup, etc.

Tomorrow and Saturday, I really really must do up those squash that are in the bins in the fridge!

I hope and pray that this month I can concentrate a lot on making things for the holidays.

But like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady will get me there.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Goodbye, October - It’s Been Interesting!

I just reviewed this month. Amazing. I began it wondering how to pay for the end of September car battery. That worked itself out. But during the first week, we discovered the spark plugs needed replacing. That, too, worked itself out.

I was blessed with two different lunches with friends. Once with neighbors in here, and once with a former co-worker/friend. I do so enjoy eating out from time to time, and good company makes it even better.

The month’s bills somehow all got paid, and I have no late fees looming to start the next month.

I managed to take care of the usual events - the monthly newsletter production and delivery, plus the semi-annual park wide yard sale.

I was blessed with a used recumbent exercise bike that is far easier for me to use than the earlier stationery bike I found on Freecycle.

Happily, I was able to drop off six huge bags of baby items locally from our charity crafting efforts.

Friends with a huge garden brought me some great produce plus a zillion caps for the homeless. I sent them back with more yarn. What a blessing that pair is!

Feeding a friend’s collies was a nice fun few days along the way.

It was an unusually, for me, medically active month.

Apparently I have rocks in my head. Two nights in a row, I went through entire nights of extreme vertigo while lying in bed. After a Facebook post, two friends clued me to the possibility of BPPV - Benign Proximal Positional Vertigo. Apparently, occasionally, little crystals appear in the inner ear and when we move a certain way, they jiggle and make us severely dizzy. I’ve been careful since and no repeats. One day, though, I must ask my PC guy to refer me for a real check up to verify that so that I do not worry if it happens again.

I even made a stop to get my flu shot.

My visit to the dermatologist led to a back of the shoulder blade biopsy. That will require deeper excision and stitches once we can get the scheduling done.

And my visit to check on the lump in one breast seems to lean toward benign calcification but we’re scheduling to be sure.

I am very concerned about quite a few friends who are dealing with a wide variety of financial, medical and other matters...

I can easily see that the ups more than balanced the downs on the journey this month. I pray that it was that way for most of you, as well.

Monday, October 30, 2017

So Many In Need of Prayer

So many people in need of prayer, it seems. I’m not sure why it seems so much more than ever. Maybe I’m more aware of the needs of others now that I am older. Maybe it’s because most of those I know are older now, as am I. Maybe it’s the world, the economy, or any of a lot of other reasons. No matter.

I’m thinking of a couple who I used to know here in town, who moved clear across the country to somewhere in New York state. So devoted, as are several other couples I know and care about. But they are separated for medical reasons. Between the two of them, if it isn’t one of them under some kind of treatment or therapy, it’s the other. This time, they’ve been separated for what has seemed like a very long time. He misses her so much.

I’m thinking of a wonderful, prayer-filled woman who is trying to find a “window” in her life so that she can leave to visit a loved one in another state - things keep happening to delay her departure.

I’m thinking of a family that is on very hard times. Their whole world has been upside down for a few years and now they’ve had another blow to deal with.

Just a few of the many. There are a few dozen on my personal prayer list! The thing is, each of these folks, I know for a fact, are always ready and eager to pray for others in need.

Sweet Lord Jesus, please look compassionately upon the lives of these and other folks on my prayer list. Please bless them with whatever they need to deal with each of their situations. You know what they need. They have blessed others in prayer. I ask you now to bless them. We trust in you.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Short and Sweet - Frantic Morning, Easy Afternoon, Evening

Delivered half of my 150 newsletters for my side of our park between 6:45 and 7:45 this morning. Ran into house, got my purse, and headed over to my guy to drop off the car for the spark plug job.

The plugs on my make, model and year are buried. They're under the "ignition blocks," under the intake manifolds. Spark plugs are not always easy to find these days, it appears. Anyhow, my guy ran me back home to wait until it was finished. So after 8:15 or so, this morning, I was simply waiting for the car to be finished.

At that point, he came and got me and I went and got my car back.

The thing is, I actually stopped and did almost nothing after 9 this morning. Except meals, of course, and wound care, and cat care...but considering the past few weeks, I felt decadently lazy. I talked myself out of feeling guilty about it.

Tomorrow morning, the other half of the route. And I’m not at all sure I’ll do much of anything after that.

Next week, I have some other things in mind. Must visit the County office about the food stamps. Must make the mammo appointment. Must make the dermatology appointment for the next excavation on my back.

Except for groceries or household supplies or pet supplies, I’m half afraid to say things might have settled down a bit.

Shhhhh! You did NOT hear or see me say that!

Friday, October 27, 2017

His Timing, Not Mine

Things have quite hectic this month. Not all bad, please understand. But between medical issues, car issues, bill paying, and other things, time has flown by.

There were times when an issue reared up in the midst of a pre-planned day of tasks and projects and appointments. Things had to be rearranged. I had to make quick decisions. I had to make sudden phone calls to check on things. I had to make appointments quickly. I had to change plans. But, all in all, much was done this month that I would never have expected to get done.

By the time I look back, probably on the night of the 31st, and take a little mental inventory, I am sure I will be in awe.

Some of these unexpected timings had me wondering if I could pull it off. But that’s where faith comes in. Each time, I had to do what my sister’s AA group used to encourage: Turn it over to a Higher Power. He has my back. He knows what I need and when I need it. He knows what I need to do and when I need to do it. He knows all of this so much better than I do. I’ve managed to let him take over whenever I was smart enough to say a quick prayer for that type of help.

“Help me get through this without raising my blood pressure,” and just “Help me get through this,” these were frequently in my head this month.

Tonight I feel a tad more relaxed and less uptight and less concerned.

Father in Heaven, you are the Creator. You know it all - past, present, future. I am learning anew each day to trust your incredible wise timing. I am learning to love your “nudges” to keep me on the path you know is right for me. I am learning to love tremendously the unexpected help you send my way, no matter what form it takes. Thank you for being there for me.

I’m Back Home - So Far, So Good

Ok This will be quick. Things to do. 

Doctor did breast exam; set up referral for mammo. I must call Monday or Tuesday once they get it and set an appointment. He suspects calcification scarring which wouldn’t be anything to worry about but won’t go out on a limb on that...

In general, weight is the same as last year, blood pressure is holding and we stay with the one low grade blood pressure pill and they did a circulation test which was good.

Also waiting for an appointment for the deeper excision of that basal cell carcinoma on back of shoulder.

Gotta go...Later, kids!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Foodie - Hectic But Productive Days

Because of dental issues (no bottom dentures) and health matters (keeping my doctor smiling at my labs), a lot of my food is fresh. I either buy it, or use what I get from food pantries, or use what a dear couple 60 miles away brings from their garden (more like a little farm) several times a year. That means I can’t always guarantee how fresh something is or how long it will keep before spoiling. This week I needed to prep stuff from my fridge bins to make sure I don’t have to throw anything out.

Yesterday I realized I still had 5 apples in the drawer and they were likely to be spotty in the centers. I quartered them, cored them, and diced them. Tossed into the microwave with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and a touch of brown sugar, for 10 minutes. Nice and soft and juice and tasty - will add to cereals the next few days. It made 5 or 6 cups.

Yogurt smoothies also were on the list yesterday. Took my 2 lb. tub plain yogurt, half a cucumber, and a can of sliced beets. My mom’s old blender does a nice job still. Made 3-1/2 peanut butter jars (enough for 7 “servings”) which will hold me a week. Froze 2 of them.

Today, I tackled the eggplant. Peeled it, cut it into 9 “sticks,” did the Shake & Bake thing in the toaster oven. I just “tested” 3 of them - had to make sure they were safe to eat! Put the others in the fridge to either pick on this weekend or have as a side with meals.

I also took the 2 ears of corn, broke them in half, and boiled them a tad. They are cooling. After I finish this, I’ll go cut the kernels down off the cobs and put that in the fridge to add to things - or I might freeze it - not sure.

Not sure I’ll get to anything else of that type today. But this weekend, no later, I must do up the 2 spaghetti squash and the 2 butternut squash. Then I’m caught up with anything truly perishable.

One of these days, I really really must defrost that poor old upright freezer to show it how much I love it and need it!