Monday, March 20, 2017

Not Asking, but Begging for Prayers for Loved One

It’s rare for me to beg for prayers but I am scared for my “baby” brother (now 73). He just tested with a 24 PSA which is very high. He is hoping it is, as he puts it, just “old age swellling,” and it would be wonderful if that is so.

He’s almost finished the round of antibiotics that they usually prescribe first, in case it is simply an infection.

My worries are multiplied by the fact that they are isolated in the high desert in CA with not-always-reliable vehicles. Town is 25 miles from their 5-acres of sand. Insurance coverage is very iffy. They (he and his wife) have been self-employed for decades and cannot afford enough of the right coverages. Also that ride to town is brutal when you’re dealing with something like repetitive treatments.

And, of course, he is my “baby” brother - so, please, if you think of it, say a wee prayer on his behalf?

Sweet Lord Jesus, you who healed with a simple touch of a hem of your garment, and healed long distance for someone with great faith, look kindly and compassionately upon my brother in this hour of need. I trust in you.

Roller-Coaster Kind of Day

One of those days that had its ups and downs.

I called in a payment to a very old collection account. It was a bundled account and included many very old bills that went back to my cancer days and several “not included in the covered procedures” type of things, plus furniture bought back in ’01 for the mobile home.

I’ve been paying $50 a month (plus a fee for over the phone 
payments) since 2006. I thought this was the last payment so I paid them a little extra to close the balance, happy, happy, happy that at least next month, this one was gone. Not so. Turns out there was one that had come through a while back but they were good enough to not hit me with both at the same time. However, because I’ve been paying them for so long, they did lop off some of this other bill and will let me pay it off within 10 months. So, it’s good and it’s not exactly good.

On the really, really good side, I’ve got a crockpot working overnight. Three leg quarters cut into six pieces, box of low-sodium broth, celery, onion, kale and some barley. It’s already smelling good. Can’t wait for it. Why is any chicken-based soup so delicious and so soothing?

This morning, I dropped off one payment, went to the smaller food pantry and picked that up, went on to the post office and mailed the two small Etsy orders, and made two more stops. By the time I got home, two hours later, I flopped.

Oh, and for years, since Jane passed on in ’09, I’ve happily enjoyed her motorized lift chair. That thing is SO old. I’ve got two cushions under a towel to keep my butt from sagging onto the innards of the chair. Well, this afternoon, when I had to put my legs up for a few minutes, it was strange. It’s tilting now when I raise the footrest up and the back reclines - it’s very uncomfortable and I'm not sure how safe it is. I do have a recliner, as well, in the living room, so tomorrow I will try swapping them around in the living room. I'll take it easy - the lift chair weighs a lot. Silkie doesn’t really like a real recliner because of the jerking motion when you pull the handle up and release it to go down. Hopefully, she will get used to that.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Fun, Food, Folly and More

Ok - the fun and food part are correct but not the folly but hey, I liked the roll of “f” words... The folly was technically an oversight or mistake.

The past two days have kept me on my toes which can be a good thing.

Friday, I was happy to see 2 Etsy orders. 

One was for 2 sets (3 each) of my plastic canvas satin ribbon crosses and one was for a Class Reunion Report. Today I got the crosses packed and will mail Monday. 

The “folly” (or technically “mistake”) part was in the Reunion Report. I had the whole report done when I realized the buyer gave me the wrong Graduation date. I had to put the project on hold while I waited for her to email me back to verify what I figured was the correct date. I will do all the work over again tomorrow morning - not a disaster, just a bit annoying.

Silkie and I had the “fun” part today. I’ve noticed in the past that she sort of stalks the manual Bissell carpet sweeper. I ran it lightly over the rug today, as I must do off and on, for litter pebbles and such, and this time she actively stalked it. I couldn’t keep playing with her with that - nothing more to pick up. So we hauled out the Infamous Red Dot! She loves the laser light - I do not like it because my thumb gets tired. Still, she’s been inside now since Valentine’s Day and I felt sorry for her, so we played. This time, though, I did a lot of “on and off” bits, like fireflies, and this time she REALLY got into it. I rewarded her when I got tired with 3 of her prescription-diet kibbles.

I defrosted a huge bag of chicken leg quarters, just enough to pull them apart and repackage. I re-froze, immediately, 3 bags of 2 each, and am finishing the defrosting of 3 of them. Tomorrow or tomorrow night, I’ll toss them in the, you guessed it, crockpot, with celery, carrots, onion, a box of low-salt broth, maybe some kale, and a 1/2 cup barley (it really swells). Can’t wait. I can almost smell it.

Oh, and I cashed in some Swagbucks and used it to order 2 cheap nightshirts/dorm-shirts from Walmart, to pick up Wednesday. The two I’m using are very old, very stretched (falling off shoulders) and barely hanging together. No other way I could afford these, cheap as they are - I am really grateful for what I am able to do with Swagbucks.

Yep, not a bad two days, in spite of the mistake in that report.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Car, Crockpot Chicken, and more...

Well, I have my car once again. Things are moving along.

Yesterday I gathered stuff and today I put it out for the local charity pickup - things I knew I couldn’t put out at the April yard sale. For the next few weeks, I’ll be sorting and packing and gathering stuff the Spring park-wide-yard-sale in our senior mobile home community.

I cooked the whole chicken today in the crockpot and tomorrow I will section it and pack and freeze in containers for various uses. This weekend, I hope to cook 3 leg quarters in the crockpot for a simple chicken barley soup - it will only have chicken, some carrots, celery, onion, and barley. Oh, maybe I’ll toss some kale in there. I have some in containers in the freezer.

This afternoon, I fed a friend’s fur-babies and I worked on a charity baby blanket in between things.

Yep, things are moving along...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Silkie’s Nip Trip, De-Cluttering, and more...

In some ways, today was very productive; not so, in others. What I accomplished was all small, but sometimes those small things add up at the end of the day and look real good in hindsight.

Silkie got lucky with an unexpected Nip Trip. Ever since her injury on Feb 14th, on Sunday mornings I’ve given her a pinch of powdered catnip from a bag from a friend who finds it wild where they go in the summer. However, I’ve grown tired of reaching into the bag, tilting it, and trying to get a pinch from whatever powder falls to the bottom, around all the sticks and leaves and such. Today, I took out the big plastic colander, a wide shallow bowl, and had at it. I strained it, and put only the powder back into the bag. The smell was all over so there was no way I could deny Silkie a pinch.

For some odd reason, I could not stop long today. I usually need to put my legs up once or twice during the day if I want them to hold up. No biggie -my legs and I have worked that out. But today, I just seemed to keep finding things to do while I was on them.

I made one of my garden salads to stretch over the next few days. I defrosted some peaches from my freezer, and began defrosting the whole chicken, which I will cook tomorrow night, overnight. I packed the peaches into smaller portions and froze some and left some down.

Tomorrow they pick up recycle tubs, so I grabbed what I’ve accumulated for the two-week span and took that out. Plus I grabbed some folded cardboard and also flattened a few boxes of recyclables and got them out of the way.

Made a few calls - the thrift store for pickup on Thursday (now I’ll work on some more for them, tomorrow), the Vet for Silkie’s prescription diet kibble to pick up in a week or so, and my health provided to check on something.

Along the way, I began trying to find a way to easily transfer clay litter from the 21# bag I got yesterday, before the car broke down, to some containers. Finally found a funnel that would allow a reasonably quick flow from clumsy bag to plastic bottles. I’ll finish that tomorrow. I spent too much time bent over during the trial-and-error time.

All of this was before Noon.

Later, I sorted 3 bags of donated yarn into bags by weight: worsted, baby/sport, etc. That made a much neater stash. Lots more to still sort.

In between, when I needed to sit a moment, I worked on the baby blanket I began Saturday at the mechanic’s shop. I’ve also been working on the 2 pair of crocheted slippers for the order for my friend.

Yep, I do feel good, good and tired. But a good tired. You all know what I mean. Tomorrow, I must finish one crochet project for someone else, and finish transferring that litter, among other things. But today, well, today saw a lot of little things done. Good.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Challenging and Interesting Day, to be Sure

Started out very early so I could be at the County offices by 8. Before that, I stopped at Smiths, filled up 2 three-gallon jugs of water and picked up a 21# bag of clay litter with a coupon), gassed up the car, and then County. From there, I headed to Walmart to get the one missing skein of yarn I needed to finish 2 pair of my crocheted slippers for an order for a friend.

At Walmart, when I parked the car, I walked to the front to a lonely shopping cart, and immediately saw the water pouring out from my car onto the ground. Knowing what we were up against (see story, about the car,here), I decided to just go into Walmart and make the necessary calls when I came out. 

Years ago, I would have filled up the radiator and drove it to my guy’s shop, watching the temperature gauge. And if it overheated, I’d stop and fill again, or if it overheated, I’d get out, and push/roll it to the curb. I cannot do that now at this stage of my life, so towing was the safest option.

First I called my guy to let him know the car would be towed in this morning. He had no trouble allowing it to stay at his shop until the part comes in Wednesday and was willing to drive me (and the water and the litter and the yarn) back home.

Next, I called road service. By now, it was almost 9 and rush hour, so I knew they would be backed up. 10:20 was the ETA. So I sat. And I sat. And I talked to folks nice enough to stop when they saw this Senior sitting in her dirty old car, hood up, and door open.

My guy is getting very nervous about the fact that the Saturn parts for my make, year, are getting discontinued steadily and that we might have an issue down the line where a part is not available.
Now, I have no trouble with junkyard parts. Been there, done that. But that is not for a part such as this water pump or other parts which I really do need to be reliable. You can’t be sure about some parts from a salvage car.

And I did finally get back home before Noon, .

Happily, the rest of the day I spent contemplating my life ... and being grateful that the car did not break down in the middle of traffic, even though I will be without a car for a few days.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for always watching out for me. This could have happened in the middle of the rush hour crush. It could have happened somewhere less comfortable to wait than in a Walmart parking lot. Thank you that I had my prepaid non-smart flip phone with me to make the calls. And thank you that my mechanic was happy to bring me home. For that and all else, thank you.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Got Some Things Done Today, Inside and Outside

Well, I managed to get some things done today.

Outside, before Noon, because this week we’re hitting the 80s, I pulled weeds. Then I sprayed 3/4 of the whole lot. 

I know most folks do not get that we have weeds when we have “desert landscaping” which is a fancy word for a large-gravel layer instead of a lawn. But years ago, when the park was built, the gravel went over a layer of black plastic. Now, on many lots, including mine, the plastic has broken and separated in places and weeds pop up.

Inside, I knew I was going to be hungry this week for “stuff,” so this morning I made my avocado/carrot/raisin salad. It is sweet and rich and creamy and healthy. The recipe I make results in about 3 or more cups of the salad, so I can grab some spoonfuls (or a small container) for a few days.

The other important thing I did today was fill out the papers for my annual renewal of reimbursement of the Medicare premium fees. I did that, plus gathered the zillion pieces of documentation, and I’ll be up at their offices by 8 tomorrow morning and get that over with.

Later this week, the mechanic will call and let me know when to bring in the car.

Oh, and I went into some of my repeating emails and "unsubscribed." I need to clear out my inbox and my email accumulation in general.

Not too bad a least I can look back and know I did something. I can’t always truthfully say that.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Car

Ok. I’ll make this brief but I know some of you will want to know how it went today, and I owe you that.

Apparently it was an “auxiliary water pump.” My 2001 Saturn has two pumps. I never knew any car had two water pumps. But apparently some BMWs do, also.

Of course, everyone knows Saturn doesn’t exist now, but a local Chevy dealer here covers their parts and things. Normally. This particular part has been discontinued, and the dealer said other parts are quickly being discontinued as well. I sat there watching my guy call all the other places he could think of and nobody had one. He finally found a place that will special order it and we should have it Wednesday, and hopefully install it Thursday.

This is the first time my guy has ever mentioned that it might be time to think about a different car because good as he is, he can’t fix something if the part is not available.

On the plus side, I took it in right away and know what is wrong...if I had ignored it, I could have had problems while out on errands or something. 

Lots to think about that’s it for now.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Update on One of my Friends

My friend who was feeling suicidal and I were in touch yesterday. 

Apparently he and I thought of the same thing at the same time. I was just getting ready to type an email, asking if he was on any meds with suicidal urge side effects. Just then, his email arrived, and he mentioned that he was, indeed, on one Rx for over 5 years which does have that possibility. He sounded a little more like himself and said that if he feels that way again, he’ll call his doc right away.

Thanks for the prayers, my friends. They DO help.

Sweet Lord Jesus, please continue to hold all troubled souls in your loving and compassionate heart. Fill these people with your love and help them to find their way.

Uh Oh

Ok, trying to think positive here. Wednesday, when I backed the car off the driveway, I could see two quarter-sized spots that would have been under the front end of my car. This morning, backing out to go to Charity Crafting session, I saw a much larger single spot. I was hoping it was condensation. I figured if it were dry when I returned a few hours later, that was it.

It was still wet. I stopped short of that spot, took a tissue, and gently made a blot of the spot. I’ll take that to my guy tomorrow morning. I am not even going to consider what it might mean. I was going to stop there tomorrow anyway for an oil change.

Crossing fingers, toes and eyes...and making some life-changing decisions, but it will take about a year for them to be in place...

Silkie is beginning to be her old self. When I came in the back door, her little fuzzy face was trying to get around me to get out. I will need to watch from now on. It’s been almost a month since her injury. Half of me is happy she is feeling friskier. Half of me is sad because I can longer allow her outside. Life moves on...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Friends with Emotional Needs

My heart is aching for a few of my friends and there is nothing I can do to help them, except for prayer. In several cases, I’m talking about depression, about overwhelming fatigue and feelings of helplessness from 24/7 caregiving, about suicidal thoughts, about heavy financial worries. 

I’m talking about normally very strong people, folks who have come through terribly dark times and have shown their strength and their ability to not only survive, but thrive. And now they are fearful that it is not enough, that they will not be enough.

Unfortunately, most folks think physical needs are more important than emotional and mental needs. This isn’t always the case. We often recover from overwhelming physical and medical issues with a good night’s sleep, or a break in routine (a nap, a treat, a vacation). Emotional and mental issues stay inside us and pound at us and wear us down.

There are many folks on my personal prayer list who are in need of emotional rest and peace.

When I think about them, and how they feel overwhelmed and at their wit’s end, I am reminded of Jesus at Gethsemane. In the garden on Good Friday, he was overwrought. This was the Son of God. And yet, even he wept and begged that God would relieve him of his burden. Who are we to feel we are at fault, or less than all we can be, when things overwhelm us?

For any of you with the same concerns, I’m pasting a few of my prayers from my Busy Person’s Prayer Book. Why? Because frankly, I wrote each of these for myself, when I, too, was overwhelmed, and I was afraid I would not survive. I prayed these over and over, almost hypnotically. Maybe one of them will help you. Maybe not.

Sweet Lord Jesus, we are taught that you know all too well the feelings of human doubt and fear and the desire that it will all go away. Take these friends into your compassionate heart and fill them with all the strength they need to get through their troubled times. Be with them, guide them, heal them, show them the way. Let them know you love them. And as always, not our will but the Father’s, be done.

Caregiver’s Prayer
Father, someone needs my care
I need your help to do it right
Replace resentment with compassion
Replace my heavy heart with one that’s light.

When Things Go Wrong
Father, when things are going wrong
And my world is falling apart,
Please hold me in your loving arms
And send your peace into my heart.

For Help in Paying Debts
Father, you’re the one who knows
The answer to financial woes
Open my eyes so I may see the way
To funds for those who I must pay.

Today’s Troubles, in Advance
(Morning Prayer)
Dear God, this day may have its troubles
And some will come as a great surprise
If I am too burdened to come to you
I trust you to help if the need should arise.

Taking it Slow and Easy
Like the tortoise against the hare,
Slow and steady gets you there.

This Post for Foodies Only

Time to take a deep breath and plunge into a week or so of re-stocking my freezer with grab-and-go stuff. I have some “starter” stuff in there but it must be prepared - ham bones, chicken quarters, and the like. But I was thrown off track with a few weeks of frantic efforts dosing and caregiving for my Silkie.

Today I took a look and I only have 2 sets of meals in there - ham/pinto-beans and chili. And I made them back in mid-February. I’ve already used one or two of those, so I must get busy.

Yesterday, I began marinating some boneless skinless chicken thighs and today I am simmering them on the back burner. They smell so good. When they are done, I’ll pack them individually and they will be meal-starters. Over the next couple weeks, I hope to make some quarters into chicken barley soup, and cook a whole chicken to portion-out.

This morning, after I put the thighs on to cook, I knew I had some dishes to do and would need to turn on my water, so I looked to see what else I could do and then do all the cleanup in one water-session. I realized I didn’t have any more salad in the fridge ready to eat. It was time to make a garden salad that will last a few days. For these I use whatever is on hand. I gather everything on the counter around the bowl. My legs can’t take a long standing-session, so I work “smart.”

I had 2/3 of a bag of mixed greens I had picked up from the dollar store; I tossed in half of that. Then some diced beets (I open a can of sliced beets, and use them 1/3 at a time), some black and green olives (from dollar store or Walgreens on sale), about 6 black and 9 green. With the olives I do not get fancy - just cut the black in thirds/circles and the green in half or thirds. Next is some thin sliced red onion. I always use at least 1/2 diced cucumber for flavor, for juice and refreshing smell. I also took a stick of string cheese (lo-fat) and cut that lengthwise in half, then half again, and then diced that. I try to keep a head of cabbage in the fridge. I took a chunk off that and cut it fine. Sometimes instead of cabbage, I get a head of cauliflower, steam it, and add that to my salads. I do try for texture and color - if I’m gonna eat rabbit food, at least it will appeal to me.

For dressing, I use a medicine cup (about 4 tsp or a little over a tablespoon) of olive oil and 3 of wine vinegar. Sometimes instead of wine vinegar, if I have some I use juice from a jar of pickled anythings (peppers, pickles, whatever). That’s it.

I always need nibbles on hand, and easy to grab, or else I will fall prey to thoughts of running out for fast food or junk food. One of my go-to choices is popcorn. Our household fell in love years ago with Pop Weaver from Walmart. Out here, it’s $2 a carton for 8 packs to nuke. They have different varieties. When I pop a pack, I divide it into 3 1-1/2 recycled deli containers. It’s a perfect size for me. I made one of those this morning, so I have popcorn for a few days.

One other thing I did today was to force myself to move the bite-sized cantaloupe chunks from the back where they were slowly pushed, to the front of the top shelf. That way, anytime I open the fridge, something healthy and happy and tasty is facing me. I have another small container of those on a lower shelf, so I’m set for a few days, so long as I keep them in front of me.

See, I know my food faults and habits and addictions. The trick is to make sure I have better choices sitting there waiting for me. I do something like this at least once a week, and that way I can relax for a few days. 

Even if your household is full, you can prep some things just for you and your own needs and tastes, and hopefully the others will let it alone - nobody on this earth can guarantee that - we tried years ago. But it’s worth a shot at it.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Good News - Silkie Lost Some Weight Already!

Silkie actually lost a pound already!  We had to go to the Vet for a post-op visit today. Usually I have no trouble grabbing her and lowering her into the upright carrier. This time, however, she noticed me when I turned the carrier on its end and she went behind a big ol' chair. Had to coax her out with 3 pieces of her diet kibble. She's not happy with me but hey, a mommy must use tough love at times.

Anyhow, she lost a WHOLE pound - to me, that is great for just 2-1/2 weeks! I'd be thrilled with a pound a month for her. She’s 8 pounds over the weight she was when we first brought her home from the shelter in January of ’13.

The Vet was happy that she is eating the diet kibble and slurping the great cat sauces I found and that she is beginning to want to play and that she is soft.

Happy, happy vet visit - for a change -

This Hill’s Prescription r/d (reduced diet) kibble is great. She loved it at first bite. And since she’s been on that, totally, and no Temptations or canned food, her fur is back to its soft, silky texture. 

To get liquid in her (she’s not big on water), I found some sauce/broth pouches at Petsmart. It’s their own brand, Simply Nourish. They are called Accents. They have 5 or 6 flavors, but I’m sticking to 3 that are the lowest calories. There are very few solids or shreds in these; almost totally liquid. I shake the pouch a little, tear it open, and dump it. I fill it 3/4 with water, and add that to the pouch contents, and stir. Then I just give her a medicine cup (about 4 tsp) at a time in a bowl. She loves it. It was the only way I could some drops of the antibiotics in her.

As for the Vet, same time, next month, just to be sure, and to check her weight. Can’t wait.

Now I suppose it’s time for cat-mommy to follow cat’s example and try to go down a few more, myself.

Trouble Right Here in River City - Silkie

Ok. I’m in for it, in a way. 

Backstory - Silkie injured herself on Valentine’s Day. It’s been a worry and a struggle ever since. Let’s see - that was roughly 2-1/2 weeks ago, 18 days ago. 

From that point forward, she never made a move, ever again, toward the back door. She used to love going out on the driveway, walking my mobile home lot, watching folks walk by. But after she broke her teeth and jammed a piece of tooth into her face that day, trying to run in through the open back door to escape what she thought was a danger, she has never once approached that door or meowed for me to open it.

Until a few moments ago. I’m in for it now. I was packing my “stuff” for the Friday morning charity crafters, and placed it by the back door, getting ready to take it to the car.

Suddenly, there was Silkie, sitting ever so pretty, at the back door, looking up at me, and with a sweet little Meow. Yep, I’m in trouble.

At this point, I can never let her out alone again unless I am right nearby, and paying attention. That is out - forever.

This is good news and bad news.

The good news is that it means she seems to be feeling much better. The bad news is that now I must be on alert when I put the key in the back door slot, and be ready to bar her bolt-out-the-door efforts. I will have to get her back past the inner pantry door and close that one, unload whatever I need to bring inside, and close the outside door before opening the inside one. This must be done quickly because the pantry is where her litter box is. Some days, it will be safer and more logical to park, come around and up the front steps and in that way, then back out for the stuff.

Oh, yes, this will be fun. I am happy, happy, happy that she is feeling better. I am not so happy about the rest of it. Aren't trade-off's fun?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Silkie, Tasks, and Aging Wisely

It’s time, at the end of the week, for me to take Silkie to the Vet for her post-op checkup. She’s coming along well, I think, on her diet. She’s not as “solidly packed” along her sides; she’s softer, more supple. I can’t wait to see if she actually dropped a pound or two.

This is a task-filled week coming up. Lots on my plate, but all do-able.

Today, I finished my changes to the March newsletter for our senior mobile home park. Tomorrow I print about 400 issues over a couple of hours. Thursday, I staple all of those, and roll half of them with rubber bands for the routes I personally deliver. Also Thursday, I must make one payment, get a few groceries, and do a few other things. Friday, the morning is for the charity crafter session and the afternoon for the Vet. Saturday morning, and Sunday morning, I walk and deliver about 70 of the newsletters, each day, to the front porch railings. After that, both mornings, I get to have fun playing with a few big doggies when I go to help out by feeding them.

I was thinking today about these things. I think I am blessed having tasks to do. Of course, there is always, always, the ongoing de-cluttering in here. And the water-rationing routine. But I think having regular tasks to do is very important as we get into our 70s and 80s (almost there).

That old saying, “use it or lose it,” could easily apply to aging brain cells, I think.

There is also one factor that nobody has any control over: the gene factor. But that aside, it is very helpful to me to have deadlines here and there.

I have had to seriously look at some things I’ve committed to, and face the fact that I just cannot get to them these days. I must un-volunteer from those things. It hurts to admit that I can only do so much, if I want to do it well. But I am thrilled to be able to do what I can do.

And, I do hope I can make some progress this coming month of March, in gathering stuff together for the Spring park-wide-yard-sale in here, the second weekend of April.

Yep, it’s good to have something to do. I must remember that whenever I feel overwhelmed.