Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thank You


Your generous spirit and kindness mean more to me than I can say. It wouldn't surprise you to know that reading all the wonderful and loving comments made me cry--in a good way.


Thank you for the support and understanding.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Partly Cloudy



When I started this blog, I planned to write deep and philosophical thoughts, to find that honest part of me that wrote without thinking of the consequences. But then I realized that people might actually be reading it and I didn’t want to bum everyone out, or worse bore anyone. So, the self-censoring started and the majority of light-hearted topics.

But I’m tired people, and I need to talk some stuff out before I explode.

These bouts of depression every other week are really frustrating and they are getting worse. The demons came out again last week and were flying all over the place. I couldn’t catch them to put them away, back in that little dark place of my brain. Instead, all I wanted to do was go down to a dark corner of the basement, wrap up in a blanket and watch Law and Order reruns.

In these times, every disappointing or upsetting thing that has ever happened in my life flickers on a loop, so I’m forced to relive those moments over and over again. Sometimes, I think of a time that I hurt someone and I think about what a horrible person I am and of all the things I should have done differently. Then there are the times that I think about when I was hurt and what a loser I am that I didn’t say something or do something about it. Mixed in are the old fashioned feelings of uselessness and sadness and being an utter failure.

Some how I pull it together enough to be standing upright by the time Al gets home and actually cook some dinner (or order pizza, depending on how bad the day had been). But some days, like this last Monday, was a crying day, and he knew that it was a bad day for me. The first clue was me sitting in the middle of the couch with a Kleenex in my hand and tears streaming down my face.


“What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know.”

He’s used to this answer, so he just sits with me. I know he wants to help but just doesn’t know what to do, and I have no idea what to tell him. There’s not much he can do. The fact that he’s still here, living through this with me, is the best thing he can do.

I can explain it away, however. I’ve been having bouts like this for the last 5 or 6 years to varying degrees of intensity. And I honestly think that about that time, I also went through a personality change and pulled away from everything and everyone. I’m not sure family members or friends would admit that out loud, but I think they would agree. I thought it was because of hormones and that I wasn’t getting enough exercise.

Then I was diagnosed with MS, and a lot of things started to fall into place. When I went in for my first visit with the MS Nurse Practioner, I was looking at a poster about lesions and their locations. I realized and showed Al how one of the lesions looked like mine and was in the exact place that my largest one was. The little explanatory bubble said something about how that area affected vocabulary, some other things I don’t remember, and personality. Personality? Damn. I’m not crazy and it’s not just in my head. Well, it is my head, it’s a dead spot in my head, but there’s a reason for what I had been going through.

Then, joy of joys, the medication causes depression. I think that is what I’m dealing with most of the time, since the worst days are Monday after my shot on Sunday night. There are those weeks when it lasts three or more days, then there are the weeks when I’m fine by Tuesday. The pattern is every other week. Coincidentally (or maybe not) it’s the week I take my shot in my left leg, the one that is more affected by the MS. Weird, huh?

Hormones could have something to do with it because as I’m reminded constantly, I am “into my 40s.” That age seems to be some kind of friggin’ threshold and now everything I feel is because my hormones are changing. It’s very easy to throw away emotions with the excuse that your just hormonal. Doesn’t help me, but it makes it easier for others to explain it away.

As a result of my weakness, the demons take over. I take Wellbutrin and it evens things out a bit, but I can’t help but wonder if it is no longer as affective. The MS message boards recommend therapy, but the doctors others recommend don’t take my insurance and my insurance just gives me a list of doctors in my area. I just don’t have the energy to start seeing these people until I find one I think I can talk to.

So I talk to you, dear readers! You lucky people. I wish I could say I feel better, but there’s a really good chance I will end up deleting this post. But it’s out there. Maybe talking out loud and releasing those demons is better than putting them back in.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Damn Cold Weather

These below freezing temperatures are playing havoc with my MS symptoms. It's supposed to warm up over the weekend, so that's good and I should be feeling much much better.

Until then, I'm going to get some rest and I'll be back when I'm not in such a depressed and whiney state.

BTW, you know how people talk about how intuitive their pets are and know when they're feeling bad and need comfort. Meet the dog who doesn't:



I actually took her for a short walk because she kept staring at me and sighing because she wanted to go for her morning walk. She has a fur coat so she doesn't care that it's -2. Then she brought the stuffed duck to me so we could play tug-a-duck. Oh well. She really has me trained well.

Monday, January 21, 2008

WWC--Envy and Triangle

Actually, my WWC is only envy and it's a bit of a stretch. I couldn't think of anything for triangle, but as r.e.h. said last week, I covered triangle with my picture of the cutting mat. Plus, the quilt blocks had triangles in them, so I think I'm ahead of the game!



The WWC is brought to us by the wonderful Tink of Pickled Beef.

I envy the way Cosette can sleep so soundly.





Did you play?

In other news, Al had the winter crud the last few week and is finally feeling better. A lot of people seem to have this, and come to think of it, he had this crud around this time last year.

I had a proud moment on Thursday. We got around 3 or 4 inches of snow that day, after Al went to work of course. I decided that I really should clear the driveway and sidewalks because the sun was coming out and maybe there would be lots of melting. I also bow to peer pressure and most of our neighbors had cleared their driveways already.
But I remembered how last year I shoveled snow when it was extremely cold and I got really sick with MS symptoms. I needed to use the snow blower, but Al hadn't given me my yearly "this is how you use the snow blower" lesson. But Warrior Lass doesn't need some man to show her how to use a monster piece of machinery with huge, sharp blades! No! And I think Warrior Lass needs to make a reappearance around here! So, I got the instructions and followed step-by-step how to use the snow blower.

Less than an hour later, everything was cleared, and with the sun shining on my achievement, I cleaned off the machine and put it back in its place of honor in the garage.

Next, the table saw.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

25 Years Later.

Peggy over at Day to Day Life of a Very Lazy Gardner did this meme and politely tagged me if I wanted to do it. I haven't done a meme in a long time, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

The idea is to list five things in your life now that you would have never thought would be in your life when you were 25.

1. Health Issues. I never thought I’d deal with the health issues at such a young age. Al had testicular cancer when we were in our late 20s, and I was diagnosed with MS in my late 30s. Weird. On the other hand, testicular cancer is curable and we caught my MS early. And although illness can be a real strain on a couple, it has only brought Al and me closer.

2. Marriage. Not only am I still married but I’ve been married for almost 19 years! I really didn’t expect to marry. Never planned it, never wanted to. I wanted to travel, work and have fun. I didn’t realize I could do that and be married at the same time. Not that we haven’t had some rough spots, but we’ve hung in there. We’re heading into another phase of our life together with thoughts of retiring from the military. Should be interesting to see where we go from here. (You may be surprised that I’m not saying the usual mushy stuff about Al. You’ll just have to be surprised because I’m not very good at the mushy stuff. I took one of those emotion IQ tests and you wouldn’t believe how low I scored!)

3. On stage. For a few years, I did a lot of community theater. I played Dolly in Threepenny Opera, I was Sylvia in the female version of The Odd Couple, I was Hattie in Kiss Me Kate, and I did a lot of acting classes where I got to do a little bit of everything from Shakespeare to improv. It was an exciting and fun time, and every time I walked on stage, I was shocked that I was actually doing this. I’m very shy, very introverted, but I was determined to come out of my shell and try it since I have always loved the theater. I had a good time, but I don’t miss it now. I did come out of my shell some, but I never really overcame a sense of not belonging there nor could I really let myself go enough to really do well. Upside though, I don’t get nervous if I have to give a presentation or speak in front of people.

4. Travel. I can’t believe the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. I’ve always wanted to travel. When I finally got overseas, I wondered what the hell took me so long? We went to Scotland and England in 2001 and I’ve been hooked ever since. We met up with another couple for a week, but we were pretty much on our own and it was just so gratifying. Then I went with my mom and some friends and I did some things on my own and it was enlightening. I grew up a lot in those 2 weeks and re-connected with that independent woman who could take care of herself. We’ve since returned to Scotland (and will go back again and again) and we went to Italy. Italy! Oh my God I was in Italy! It’s just unbelievable. (Note: Sometime in the early 90s (I think ’93), we went to Germany to spend Christmas with friends who were stationed there. For some reason, I never think to include that in my travels. I don’t remember that trip except for some of the highlights, but I do remember feeling uncomfortable and not knowing what was going on at any time. I was just led by the hand until I came home.)

5. Techie. Well, not really a techie but I know a whole lot more and utilize computers a lot more than I ever have. Al and I sit in the living room, each with our wireless laptops, downloading photos for a DVD slideshow or downloading songs onto our iPods. I even watched Steve Jobs introduce all the upgrades to the iPhone, iTunes movie rental, and the new Macbook Air. And upon watching Jobs take that new computer out of a manila envelope, I turned to Al and said, “I want that!” It's amazing! Go over and take a look at it. I also told him that I want an iPod Touch. I don’t need the iPhone because I hate phones, but I like the iPod Touch. This isn’t like me, but Al was thrilled because he is a techie. I still can’t hook up the DVD player, but I’m great at Google.

Need an idea for a post, why not give this a try.

That's me for the week, I think. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WWC--Soft and Square

Hey y'all, it's time for another round of Weekley Word Challenge brought to you by the creative and talented Tink of Pickled Beef.

Actually, it was supposed to happen yesterday, but you don't expect me to be on time two weeks in a row do you? Silly rabbit.

So, the words were square and soft. And here we go!



These quilt blocks are made up of squares and rectangles that are supposed to result in a square.



This grid is a cutting board for quilters. It's made up of a lot of squares.



This table runner I'm working on is made up of a lot of squares.



Cosette loves her soft toy duck. Usually, she loves them to death. This is her third one.




I got this at the Scottish Games in Kansas City. It's a Highland Cow (or Highland Coo), at least that's what I'm calling it, and it's very soft.



This alpaca yarn is yummy soft.



Did you play? C'mon! It's a lot of fun and no one gets mad at you if you're late.


In other Tink news, she has once again handed out her Golden Spork Awards, and I am the humble and honored winner of the Crafty/Creative Award. Thank you Tink!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Two Wheels Too Many

It’s been all motorcycles all the time around here lately.

Since the weather has been comparably nice the last few weeks, Al has been going for a ride most Saturdays while he still can. Of course, he could ride if it’s cold, too, because he’s plugged in. Literally. He plugs in his heated jacket and heated gloves and he’s nice and toasty. Now if he could just get some heated socks, he’d really be happy.

He really loves riding, and it really scares the crap out of me. I told him that he’s lucky that I don’t get in the car and follow him wherever he goes, just to make sure he’s OK. He rides as safely as he can and doesn’t do anything stupid, but he’s not the problem—it’s the other drivers doing something stupid that I worry about. He wants me to go to all these rider parties, and I do go to some, but every time I go the conversation is all about how this guy walked away from this horrible accident and this guy shouldn’t have walked away but he did, and this guy who knows someone who didn’t walk away, and this guy who doesn’t remember his accident but he’s been told how awful it was. This isn’t helping people! I just don’t get the desire for this particular hobby.

But, he loves it, and I get that.

So, for Christmas I got him Long Way Down, which is Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman’s motorcycle ride from John O’Groats Scotland to Capetown South Africa. A few years ago, the did Long Way Round where they started in England and went around the world to New York. We loved that series, so I knew he’d like this one, too.

And let me tell you, you get some interesting hits on Google if you type in “long way down.” Luckily the first thing that came up was the official website. I also went to amazon.co.uk to compare prices (these were the only two places I could get the DVD). I decided to order from Amazon because the Christmas before I bought Race to Dakar (when Charlie Boorman competed in Dakar) from the official website and it took quite awhile, cost quite a bit, and I had to pick it up at the post office, which is not an easy thing here. So, I ordered the book and the DVD from Amazon.

Before you techies ask, no I didn’t even think about the fact that it might be in a format that our DVD player couldn’t read. It was in PAL format instead of NTSC like this country uses. Talk about your dumb luck, our DVD player must be new enough because we didn’t have any trouble.

Anyway, the series was great and I loved watching this adventure. There’s a lot pre-planning, but they were a little more prepared for it this time around. But there were more dangerous border crossings and in several places they had to have armed escorts.

The only problem was that McGregor’s wife wanted to join them for part of it, so she learned to ride, met them at a relatively safe area, and rode a couple of days with them. I wish she hadn’t of done that because it only gives Al ideas.

Oh, and we found out that while we were in Florence, the were in Sienna. There was a reenactment of an historic race, the Mile Miglia, while we were in Florence and we watched a lot of beautiful old cars drive through. When we were watching Long Way Down, the guys stopped in Sienna for lunch and were pleasantly surprised to see the Mile Miglia going through the town. I was this close to Ewan McGregor!

After watching the guys riding adventure through Africa, you can understand our disappointment that the Dakar was cancelled this year. I still can’t believe it. First time in 30 years that the Dakar rally has been cancelled. They had reports of terrorists linked to al Qaeda threatening drivers coming through Mauritania. Unbelievable. The course has been changed before, but they never cancelled the whole race. They were all ready to go, too. Everyone was in Lisbon, primed and ready, then this.

So basically, I don’t want to be on a motorcycle myself, but I love watching other people on motorcycles. I don’t want an adventure of riding through terrorist-laden countries, but I want to watch other people do it. And I don’t want to risk my neck by driving across the dunes of a desert, but I want to watch other people do it. I’m the ultimate armchair traveler.

However, we watched a show today where a couple of guys rode their motorcycles around Scotland. I might learn and ride for that trip. See, I just need the proper enticement.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I was just thinking . . .

Just a few things going through my head and stopping me from concentrating on more productive things.


Looks like it’s official that the Golden Globes will not be televised. HFPA president Jorge Camara said, "We are all very disappointed that our traditional awards ceremony will not take place this year and that millions of viewers worldwide will be deprived of seeing many of their favorite stars celebrating 2007's outstanding achievements in motion pictures and television.”

Yeah, because those deprived viewers will never get another chance to see a celebrity. Except maybe on the People’s Choice Awards or The Screen Actor’s Guild Awards or The Critic’s Choice Awards or The Oscars or The Emmys or the MTV Movie Awards or an AFI tribute every other month. . . How will we ever survive?

Producers and media types are just giddy at the idea that support for the writers is going to wane because shows like Grey’s Anatomy will be going into reruns. Horrors!

What do you think? Is it really such a hardship on your life? I think the main hardship for me is that now there is pretty much nothing but reality TV on, but that was already happening. We don’t watch a lot of network TV anyway, so it’s not affecting us a whole lot. The worse affect is on other workers. Producers aren’t taking a hit in their salaries, but other staff are being laid off.

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BBC America used to be such a great network. It’s the only reason we have digital cable because I used to watch it all the time. But not any more. Guess what they are so excited about for the new season. They’re showing reruns of Dancing with the Stars! Our Dancing with the Stars! WTF? Used to be a lot of great mysteries and DIY shows on that network, but no more. What’s the world coming to?

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I made Butternut Squash Risotto for dinner last night, and it was very yummy. It was the fist time I’ve made risotto. I had been afraid to try because the chefs on TV always talked about how you had to be careful and stay with it and all that. But it was really pretty easy, and fun. I like it when I’m cooking and I get lost in what I’m doing—it’s a great escape. BTW, I made Ina Garten’s recipe, but I added about a tablespoon of chopped sage and some nutmeg.

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This time last year I wasn’t feeling that great and didn’t know what was going on until it bloomed into a full MS flair up. Then there was the horrible, horrible experience with the steroid treatment. I’m being more careful this year because I don’t want to go through that again. It helps that it’s not as cold and I don’t have to spend an hour and half shoveling snow since Al bought the mother of all snow blowers.

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Cosette has caught onto the routine around here and has decided she likes it. She whines at me if I don’t move fast enough in the morning to get going on our walk. She sits and stares at me, then does this little shuffle, and then sighs/whines. She also does that when she wants a treat or to play. She has me trained pretty well.



Cosette plays hard with her stuffed duck, then crashes in the the sunbeam.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Lost and Lost

Remember that optimistic woman who was here last week? The one looking forward to 2008? Well, she’s disappeared, and I can’t find her anywhere.

She didn’t even give me a head’s up. Just pfffft—gone. And she left this moody, crying, wimpy woman in her place. That’s just rude.

Some weeks are just worse than others. As the medication wears off, I feel better. So, it’s Wednesday. I should be feeling better as the day goes on, then a little better each day. Until Sunday, when I take my shot, and it starts all over again. I thought about changing medications, but after reading the MS boards, I realized that this is common and it’s not much better with the other medications. And since I know that this one is working, I think I’ll just hang in there.

Unfortunately, that means the loved ones have to hang in there, too. It seems unfair to keep asking those around me to keep putting up with these swings. But that’s what you do, right? You hang in there, get through the rough spots, enjoy the high spots, and live through everything in between.

Hmm, how many more clich├ęs can I state before I want to puke? There’s always a silver lining? Things will get better, they always do? It could be worse?

OK, that’s enough of that. More than enough. Enough is enough! Eight is enough! Wait, let’s not carried away here. When I start channeling 70s TV shows, I know I’ve got nothing left to say.

I think I’ll go surf some expensive yarn shops online. Unlike the huge bag of peanut butter M&Ms, that won’t add pounds to my thighs, just thin out my wallet. I can’t decide which is the lesser evil.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

WWC--Black and Strange

It's time for the Weekly Word Challenge brought to us by the super-duper Tink of Pickled Beef.

That said, I have a confession to make. I'm cheating this week. I'm using old photos because I just haven't had the energy to get anything new for the this week's words. But you'll forgive me, won't you? At least I'm on time this week, if nothing else.

You see some strange things at Renaissance Festivals. Were there vikings in the renaissance?



We saw some strange roadside attractions in South Dakota



From Mount Rushmore, you can see the Black Hills (and the Badlands in the distance).



I love this picture of Al and Cosette in a black sillouette.



The words next week are Soft and Square. Won't you join us?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

So, If Al Died Today . . .

One of the scarier aspects of getting older and having to (heaven forbid) be an adult is dealing with life insurance. We started early on this path, so it's not like we are starting from scratch, but we are re-evaluating, in light of the possibility of Al's retiring from the AF and my MS diagnosis. Come to find out, my MS is not the hurdle we thought it would be. But that wasn't the weird part.

The financial advisor who has been helping us asked me, "If Al died today, what would you need? Beyond all the emotional needs and the time to recover, what will you need to go on, to take care of you?"

Besides paying off the house, I had no idea. That's what you do, right? You insure enough to pay for funeral expenses and paying off the house and paying off bills. And I really don't want to talk about this right now. I know, I know we need to talk about it, but give me a minute to not feel weird about it.

So, after a few moments of babbling "I don't know" and "I'm not sure" and other such things, he gave me a break and helped me out with some questions.

"How much of his pay will you need and for how long?"

All of it for as long as I can get it. After all, I'm going to have the same bills for awhile, especially if I keep the house. And if I sell it, then there's a whole new set of bills that will come with that.

"Most spouses want to ensure they have income for a certain number of years--1 to 5 maybe."

Al said, "She'll probably just need a year."

Thanks for your confidence in me, honey, but I think it will take longer than that. It's not like I can go out and get a job making even a third of what you make. I can't even be a decent office assistant because I'm so far behind in the computer world. I'm amazed I can create a Word document.

"Five years," I said. "I don't know what job I would get or when, so five years."

"And what would you like to do?" he asked. After an appropriate time of no response he again helped me along, "will you want to go back to school or travel . . ."

"I'd like to move to Scotland and open a B&B," I said with a chuckle.

He shrugged his shoulders and opened his hands as if to say, "Well, would you?"

Oh no way! This guy's not serious. I can't talk about something as extravagant as moving to another country when my husband is gone when he's sitting right here. But maybe I could ease into another idea.

"Maybe not that, but I would like to have my own business. Maybe open a shop or buy into a franchise. Something that would be mine, something that will make enough money for me to live on for a long time."

"About $100,000 for that?" he asked, and I just nodded.

Well, Al's looking at me like I've lost my mind. He's not quite sure what to think and I'm feeling pretty guilty about how well I'm making out here.

"And Al, you've done a good job setting up investments for retirement. Many spouses will put aside moneys to be put into those accounts, just to give a head start for their spouses who will be taking them over. Is that something you would want to do?"

Like he's going to say no. You're not going to say no, are you, Al?

So, there's an another addition to the ol' total. Amazing. And then something occurs to me.

"When my dad passed away, I remember that my step-mother had to buy a car that would get around in all kinds of weather because he wouldn't be able to drive her. So, I'd like to be able to get another car if I needed to--something newer because all of our cars have around 140,000 miles on them."

Well, honestly, this is something I had thought about. If I didn't have Al I would be in a lot of trouble because I hate dealing with cars. He's the one who keeps them up and calms my nerves about driving, so if he wasn't here, I would need something newer and with low maintenance needs.

So there we go. I get to pay off my house, live off Al's salary for 5 years, open my own business, keep my retirement accounts and get a new car. How are you feelin' Al? Good? Damn.

Then it was his turn. We live on Al's salary, so he'll actually be better off without me drawing on it. He would keep his job and probably move into a smaller place, but it would be nice to pay off the house. Maybe a car? Maybe a trip? Basically, I'm worth so little as far as insurance is concerned, we have actually over-insured me.

That's just sad. When you a put a monetary value on me, I'm worth very little. So, I'll just have to make up for it with my "you can't live without me" abilities.

On the ride home, Al was pretty quiet.

"That was pretty weird, wasn't it? I felt kind of guilty talking about what I'd do if you were gone," I said.

He just nodded. "That's the first time I've heard a franchise mentioned. I knew you would like your own shop or business, but I didn't know about a franchise."

Truth is, I just thought of it right then. It seemed like an easy way to open your own business--something already established and successful, with a proven business plan. I'm all for easiest and fastest.

It was a really quiet ride home after that.

So, on we go to the next step. We'll be comparing some policies, prices, and our advisor will patiently try to explain it to my muddled brain. I'll be trying really hard not to glaze over. Responsible adults don't glaze over! They listen and make intelligent decisions. They don't look at their husbands, hoping they'll just tell them what would be best. But that's what I want to do.

Until the next appointment, I'll just take Scarlette's advice and "think about it tomorrow." But I think I'll google popular franchises. Just for fun.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

WWC--Brown and Pattern

My WWC is late again. This is a pattern with me. Get it? Pattern is one of the words. Never mind.

Anywhooddle, the Weekly Word Challenge is brought to us by the terrific Tink at Pickled Beef. The words this week are brown and pattern. I had all kinds of ideas, but time got away from me, so I'm wingin' it here. Here we go!

My lovely orange mums are now brown.















I love my wool blanket with the pattern of the Ardbeg distillery's tartan.















This is the pattern of the blocks for the afghan I am making for my mother-in-law.



















I'll try to be on time next week. But no promises.

Join us, won't you?