Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 120 of 365

I understand that if my prescription runs out early for any reason my provider will not prescribe extra medication for me. I will have to wait until the next prescription is due, even if this means my going through withdrawals. I also understand that going through withdrawals is uncomfortable, but not life threatening.

I also understand that prescriptions will not be changed without me returning the rest of my original prescription to the office for identification, counting, and disposal.

I agree to periodic unscheduled drug screens regardless as to whether or not it is covered by my insurance.

I understand that I may become dependent on opioid medications, which in a small number of patients may lead to addiction. If addiction occurs, the medication will be discontinued and I will be referred to a drug treatment program for help.

Just a few of the things I had to sign off on today when I made my first visit to the pain clinic.

The previous doctor had declared I had reached "maximum medical improvement" and that I'd be on pain meds the rest of my life. A while back I took myself off all pain meds and don't want to go back to the meds (or that doctor). I was hopeful a specialty clinic might have some options for me. As I found out today, the options for a chronic back condition like mine are limited. Physical therapy. (Already done that for almost a year for the back.) Injections in the spine. (No thank you, not again.) Why am I not surprised - especially after having to sign off on a list of 20 different drug-related understandings before I could see the doctor - that the best option might be pain medication? (Please, no.)

I have some thinking to do, the doctor has an MRI to check out, and then I may have to make a choice soon. Or, since I'm not happy with the options, refrain from making any choice.

In other sucky news, I was weighed today and have lost a total of one (yes, only 1) pound since Day 83. I don't eat sugar anymore, I've cut down on my portion sizes and cut out snacks, and I ride the exercise bike each and every day and have lost a total of one whole pound. I haven't researched whether weight gain is a side effect of some of my medications, but it has to be. How can someone work so hard for so little?

In non-sucky news, I finished another baby quilt.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 119 of 365

I need to give myself a break. Talking about this "confidence" issue I'm thinking it might not be a confidence issue after all.

My mom called after she read yesterday's blog and was concerned that I might be having a panic attack. Not even close. The way I felt about going away to the casino by myself is the same thing I feel about going to the grocery store, the doctor's office, and even going up the stairs at school.

They're all energy-drainers.

Packing and upacking. Pumping gas. Getting changed into a swimsuit and walking to the pool at the hotel. Having to load a grocery cart, unload the cart onto the belt, load the groceries in the car, bring them up the stairs into the kitchen and putting them away. Having to drive 30 miles to the doctor then having to go to the lab for tests.

I have to talk myself into just about anything that involves leaving the house.

As I was talking to my mom about the whole I can't figure out why I came home right away thing, I realized I'm just tired. I'm always tired. Not sleepy tired, but fatigue tired. Always. With my medical issues and the medications I'm taking it's to be expected.

If it is fatigue, is that an excuse not to leave the house? I don't know if I'd rather be in a constant state of fatigue or be lacking confidence.

I think that's why I turn to quilting so much. It's something I can do that doesn't wear me out as much. I can do it quietly, slowly, and at my own pace.

And why I keep taking pictures. Another lightning storm last night.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 118 of 365

My bravery didn't last long.

I left yesterday afternoon to go to Jackpot (yep, that's the name of the town) and gamble a bit. By myself. I had a comped room for two nights and all my meals comped for three days. I had $70 in free slot play. The outdoor pool was open and I brought my swimsuit.

Except that I came back home this morning. I played on the free play money, ate one meal, and spent one night in the hotel. My swimsuit never made it out of the suitcase. I had cash that never made it out of my wallet.

I don't know what's up. Back to the confidence again. Of all the things I'm confident about, traveling is certainly at the top of the list. When I was consulting and training I had no problems hopping on a plane and flying off somewhere or driving half way across the state on my own. Not anymore.

It makes me sad. Not mad, not frustrated. Just sad.

I guess I'm not moving forward as much as I thought I was. It's going to take a million more trips before I'll get back to myself. Trips, as of now, I really don't want to take. Becoming a hermit would be a more comfortable option right now. But I know that's not what's best for me.

I should probably use the lyrics from the song Fame for my mantra:
I'm gonna live forever
I'm gonna learn how to fly

I just so happen to have a Fame rose in bloom right now. Maybe the universe thinks I need a nudge.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 117 of 365

Taking pain medication changes who you are. Being in pain and not taking pain medication changes who you are. It's a no-win situation.

Over the past couple years things have been miserable. Horrible. Terrible. Like that children's book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Nothing goes right in his day and he says he's going to move to Australia.

Debbie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Couple of Years.

I went to the doctor and he said I have rheumatoid arthritis and I'll have to take these pills. They'll make you sick because they're chemotherapy pills. Then I went back again and he said I have to take a shot. And I have to give it to myself. And then the pills aren't working so time to start giving yourself another shot every week.

I hurt my back and went to another doctor and he said take these pain pills. Then he told me to take more. And then more. He said it would get better. So I take the pills and try and go to work and get sick and then I have to substitute and then my back hurts more and then I get sicker. Then the doctor says let's give you six shots in your spine. Sorry, but the needle will be five inches long. And sorry, we don't sedate people here so it's going to hurt. And it did. And now I can't work at all.

Then my knee hurts and I have to use a cane. The doctor says it's time to get a new knee, but you're too young, but it looks too bad to wait any longer. Then I wake up from surgery and the doctor had to do a more invasive surgery because the damage was so bad. One of the worst knees he's ever seen. So then I have to learn how to climb up the stairs to get in my house with a walker. And then I have to take even more pain pills.

Then my tooth hurt and I went to the dentist and it took three days of work to get the root canal finished. Oops, they didn't get it all and I have to go to an oral surgeon to finish the job.

Dropped a can on my finger and broke it.

Can't work, in pain, still on pain pills, and decide to take some time off work.

Then I hurt my shoulder and had to have surgery. In a sling for a few months and can't drive and have to sleep in a recliner. Then hurt my other shoulder. Another surgery. In a sling, no driving, no bed again.

Actually the first chapter of the book should be called The Destruction of Deb.

No confidence, no hope, no life left in me.

But chapter two of the book should be called The Reconstruction of Deb.

I wish I was who I used to be in some ways, but not others. I miss my confidence. It was one of those things that defined me most. I lost it somewhere along the way, either because of the pain, the surgeries, or the pain medication.

I'm still looking to get it back. I was hoping it would appear yesterday. My husband is out of town and I was contemplating going to the casino for the night. But it's a three hour drive, a drive I've made many times by myself while visiting my daughter at a college not too far from the casino town. But a drive I'm not comfortable making by myself now. So I resigned myself to staying home and working on quilts and do some clipping of roses.

But today I am brave enough to go by myself, so I will. Like my climbing rose on the shed, my growth is slow but it is there.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 116 of 365

I realized the other day that I never went into our rose garden last year.

I'd had the knee replacement surgery in March and the rotator cuff surgery in July. I couldn't walk steadily, I couldn't use but one arm, and I couldn't bend over because of my back.

While this year I'm spending more time out there than last, it's still not even close to what I used to do. I used to go in there every day, bring in fresh roses every day, weed every day, and prune every day.

Now I'm lucky if I get there once a week. I now can go out there and sit thanks to the bench my daughter helped put together this past week. But work? Not so much.

This is the time that the roses are really taking off. Hybrid tea roses. Floribunda roses. English roses. Hedge roses. Climbing roses. They're all on their way to being spectacular.

Even the vegetable garden isn't doing too bad. Quite a bit different than on Day 64.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 115 of 365

I originally started quilting because of my Great Grandmother. Actually, more because of what my Mom said.

I didn't grow up learning how to quilt. My grandmother quilted in the winter in front of her dining room window, but I was in school all day and didn't ever really watch her. My Mom didn't quilt so I didn't quilt.

But several years back my Mom gave me some quilt blocks. Some quilt blocks that my Great Grandma Hudson had stitched by hand many, many, years ago. Probably even before I was born.

My Mom gave me the quilt blocks only if I would make something out of them. With the promise that I wouldn't give them away.

The quilt blocks sat year after year, just waiting for me to do something with them. Such old fabric, such handcrafted stitching in the hands of such an inexperienced quilter. I didn't have all that much experience sewing, either, so I decided I needed some skills before I risked doing anything with the blocks. I stopped the crocheting, the embroidery, the cross stitching, the candlewicking and started the quilting.

I've made wall quilts, lap quilts, baby quilts. You'd think with all the quilts I've made I'd be comfortable tackling those blocks by now. You'd think with all the quilts I've made I'd be hanging out in quilt shops.You'd think with all the quilts I've made I'd be going to quilt shows all the time.

Nope on all three counts. The blocks are still sitting there, I've only been in a quilt shop a couple times in my lifetime and only when we've been on vacation, and I've only been to one quilt show ever.

One of those things changed today.

Boise is having a quilt show today and tomorrow. My daughter took the day off today and we spent the day perusing (and photographing) the gorgeous quilts. Quilts more perfect than anything I'll ever make. I put the some of the pictures here.

So many to choose from for my picture of the day, but this one struck my fancy the most.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 114 of 365

Two things new and exciting happened today. I got to go out to lunch and we have a baby!

I never go out to lunch. My husband and I mostly go out to dinner only on special occasions and only with each other or our daughter. But today I got to go to lunch with someone I used to (and will again) work with.

We used to have lunch all over the place. We both started new jobs at the same time and these new jobs required lots of training. We've eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner together in:
  • San Francisco
  • New Orleans
  • Philadelphia
  • Hartford, Connecticut
  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Anaheim, California
  • Portland and Eugene, Oregon
  • a few cities around Idaho
  • and a few more places I'm sure I've forgotten about
So it was nice to see her again and catch up - even if we only ate lunch in Boise. A day out - in a restaurant - with another adult who is not my husband - was a nice way to spend a Friday. (Maybe not so much for her since I talked her ear off!)

The other excitement of the day is about a baby.

Yesterday I noticed momma hummingbird (from Day 91) wasn't acting the same. Every day I go sit on the patio and every day she's usually sitting on her nest. Sometimes she'll leave for a few minutes, come back, buzz near her nest, then settle back in.

But yesterday as I was sitting quietly on the patio she left for a few minutes, came back, buzzed near her nest, buzzed me (she's never buzzed me ever), buzzed near her nest again, then sat on the edge of her nest. And poked her beak down into her nest. Each time she came back to the nest she followed the same routine, including the buzzing me part.

Since our daughter was home we had her help us finish up the to-do list from Day 70. One of the last things on the list was to cut the branches back from the roof. We had her up there with the loppers and made sure she was ever-so-careful around the hummingbird nest.

From her roof view, she was able to take a look down in the nest and find a teeny tiny egg and a teeny tiny baby!
Exercise update: 68 days in a row. A little over 18 miles on the bike this week.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 113 of 365

My insomnia finally paid off.

Last night was the hottest day of the year so far - over 90 degrees. My husband was tired (and full) from his big shrimp feast at Red Lobster and went to bed early. It was quiet (and hot) in the house, so my daughter and I went and sat on the back patio under the shade tree. At this time of year it's light outside past 10:00, so we stayed there for quite a while. As we sat there talking and talking, a storm started rolling in. We sat out even longer watching the lightning.

My daughter loves storms, particularly thunderstorms. I don't like thunderstorms all that much. But since I was a kid reading my grandparent's National Geographic, I have always been amazed at pictures of lightning. Amazed that someone could push the button at the exact second the lightning flashes and have all these amazing branches of lightning appear. (I now know that's not how taking pictures of lightning works.)

As the storm was getting closer, I was telling her that someday I wanted to take pictures of lightning with my new camera. (Not all that new - I bought it way back on Day 13.) This camera has a setting for the night sky where the shutter speed is adjusted to keep it open longer, and I wanted to try it.

Not today, but someday I told her.

I had my camera with me out there, just in case, but it didn't happen. Just couldn't get it timed right. By then the storm was upon us and we headed inside. My daughter suggested we park ourselves in front of our big picture window in the living room and watch for any lightning on the other side of the house.

So we did. And I got my tripod out and aimed the camera across the river. And we sat there, pushing the button to capture a 15 second shot.

We booed when our timing was off. We cheered when we thought we might get something good.

We high fived on this one.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 112 of 365

We skipped Father's Day on Sunday because my daughter was working and wasn't able to come home. But she's home today and it's time to celebrate.

The original plan was to make him an Italian feast of a dinner (not really - just spaghetti, salad and bread, since I'm not a chef). Plans changed so the celebration actually started this afternoon when he got to go somewhere we've only been probably twice or so in our lifetime.

Red Lobster.

He's a huge seafood fan and we rarely go out for seafood. We rarely cook it at home, either. (Again, I'm not a chef.)

He did get part of his Italian feast, but not at Red Lobster. He got a spaghetti and meatballs cake, homemade by me. Based somewhat on the recipe from Food Network Magazine.

A real cake that just looks like spaghetti and meatballs.  Made with:
  • a boxed chocolate cake mix
  • frosted with homemade buttercream frosting
  • buttercream frosting tinted with buttercup yellow food coloring, piped on to resemble noodles
  • chocolate cake balls  - crumbled chocolate cake with enough frosting to hold it together - for the meatballs
  • strawberry jam with a bit of red food coloring for the pasta sauce, and
  • finely shredded white chocolate pieces for the Parmesan cheese

I may not be a chef, but maybe I could be a pastry chef?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 111 of 365

When I was at school yesterday, I was telling the secretary my wrists and hands were swollen and achy.

With the rheumatoid arthritis it happens when I do one thing too long. The repetitive work is what gets to me. Especially in the wrists, hands, and fingers.

Too much typing. Too much hand sewing. Too much pruning. Too much cookie or cake decorating. Too much scrubbing. Even just a little crocheting will give me several days of pain.

None of those are the cause of my problem this week.

The reason I have numb, swollen, achy wrists, fingers, and hands this week is because of babies.

Baby quilt tops, that is.

Back on Day 104 I made some quilt blocks from my scraps (crumbs). Back on Day 105 my new quilt kits from Quilts for Kids came in the mail. And on Day 107 I finished the blue crumb quilt.

And here on Day 111, I have finished those three quilt tops from the kits on Day 105. Oh, and something else - I made two more sets of blocks out of my crumbs. A set of pink baby girl blocks and a set of red.

So three quilt tops completed and two sets of blocks completed to put into another couple quilt tops.

Too much fabric being fed through the sewing machine for these ole fingers to handle in such a short time.

But it does look like the cat is going to help me out. Bawling at the back door this morning, I can see she must have spent part of the night in the sewing room.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 110 of 365

I did a test drive today. A practice run. A modified day at my new job.

I met with the gal who is vacating the position. We went over many, many, many things. Things to get me up and going, things for me to remember, things for me to do, dates for me to keep. Binders and books for me to read.

Being there and having my brain saturated with information, then having to go grocery shopping, and doing my exercising, and doing some quilting made it a very full day.

A day similar to what a day will be like soon. Except today I was there for only a few hours. Except today I didn't have the responsibility I will have later. (I did make a sack lunch for myself, though.)

Today was a day to try and balance work and home. It was a take one hour at a time kind of day, not a looking to the future day.

I came through it.


This not getting to sleep until 3 in the morning is wearing on me. Maybe thinking of these nice puffy clouds I saw on my way home from work will help me get to sleep.

Naw, probably not. I'll probably wind up with, "what the heck was I thinking" - trying to drive and take a picture at the same time? (I did keep my eyes on the road and not the camera screen.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 109 of 365

A strange thing happened. Two things, really.

Number one. Other than my daughter's birthday cake, I finally baked something sweet for the first time in 46 days. Before, no more than 12 days went by without me making something sweet. Just look at my record:
But since today is Father's Day and we're not celebrating (we'll celebrate when my daughter comes home later this week), my hubby got to pick out what kind of cookies he wanted.

His choice was Oatmeal Raisin cookies, with some leftover M&Ms from, well, um, Christmas.

But the strangest part of this wasn't the 6 month old M&Ms.

It was the change in me that I noticed when I was making them, taking them out of the oven, and plating them up.

Usually when I make something sweet (honestly, always), I taste (honestly, eat) the raw dough before I put it on the cookie sheet or in the pan. Taste it a few times even. Even though I knew raw eggs were a no-no, nothing would stop me from sampling before it was even cooked. Then, after it came out of the oven, I'd taste again. Many times I've burned my tongue eating a cookie or a muffin that was just out of the oven. But that didn't even stop me. I'd do that again and again. And again when things were cooling, I'd munch some more. And more. And finally, when things were eventually cooled, I'd have more.

I couldn't stop myself. Once I started with the raw dough I had to eat the oh-so-hot cookies. Once I had the hot cookies I had to have the lukewarm cookies. And once I had the lukewarm cookies I had to have the cooled cookies. (It wasn't just cookies, but anything sweet I was making.)

But here's the weird thing that happened with these oatmeal cookies.

I didn't eat any raw dough this time. (First time ever.)

I didn't eat a hot cookie. (First time ever.)

I didn't eat a lukewarm cookie. (First time ever.)

In fact, my husband asked me again and again if I wanted a cookie and I turned him down again and again.

Do I crave one? Do I need one? Nope! The urge to eat sweets - and not just stop at one - is not with me today. Now I can't promise myself I will always feel this way about cookies, or cakes, or muffins or anything sweet, but I feel this way today.

I don't know what's gotten into me but I think it's good.

While the cookies aren't necessarily the best thing I could have taken a picture of, they are the best thing that I didn't do today.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 108 of 365

Caffeine is something I try to avoid.

I've never been a coffee drinker. Occasionally I might have a Diet Dr. Pepper or a Diet Coke when I go out somewhere, but only if it's during lunch time. I learned long ago that if I have anything with caffeine during the afternoon or evening it'll keep me from getting to sleep.

But this last week I haven't been able to get to sleep and I haven't had any caffeine. I haven't changed my diet, my exercise routine, my television viewing habits or my computer time. Everything has been exactly the same.

Except that I can't get to sleep until about 3 in the morning.

I lie there in bed, trying to get myself to sleep.  Trying my old standby meditation-type thoughts to calm my mind and body. My mind has been calm even without me trying. I'm not thinking about things that might keep me up. Yes, my body aches, but that's not new either.

So some nights I might get up and watch TV for a few minutes then come back to bed. Other nights I might read or come to the computer for a few minutes. Never for more than a few minutes. Because almost as bad as caffeine is the mental stimulation that television and the computer screen causes.

Despite being up, down, lying still with my eyes closed, I am not getting to sleep. Forcing myself to sleep is not working.

After racking my brain for any change in anything I've done, I might have come up with something.

I've been taking some new medication. Some medication prescribed by the gastroenterologist to help with my stomach issues. I've been taking the medication faithfully twice a day, every day, since my procedure, and I've been faithfully unable to sleep every day since the procedure. Wouldn't you know it, a rare side effect of this medication is insomnia. Hmm.

On my own I decided to stop the medication for a couple days to see if there was a connection between the medicine and my sleep pattern.

I never made it through two days without the medication. The stomach issues returned. Just as bad as before.

I like my sleep, but I like a pain-free stomach even better. I'll stick with the medicine and I'll be searching for things to keep me occupied at night. Things I can do between the hours of 10 PM and 3 AM. Things that will not be noisy or distracting. Things that will keep me from lying wide awake in bed for 5 hours a night.

Unfortunately, going to sleep at 3 doesn't prevent me from getting up for a drink of water at 6.

But the reds, oranges, blues, and whites in the sky at six o'clock this morning were spectacular. The picture doesn't do it justice.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 107 of 365

I told my daughter last night that I'm going back to work. Her response was, "Good, mom. You need to get back to work. You know you do."

Then my mom called. She had read about me getting a new job and wanted to know if I was excited about it.

Well, not exactly. Or maybe.

I'm trying not to think about it right now.

For quite some time I've been living day by day. It's the only way I've been able to make it through rough days without pain medication. Every time I sit, or stand, or bend over, or stand up, or bend my knee, or get out of bed, or take a shower, or get dressed, or brush my teeth, or exercise, or ... I hurt. I get tired of it, I get frustrated with it, I get mad about it. The only way I know to make it through each day is to try and keep myself busy with writing, taking pictures, and sewing and quilting for others.

I hope this new job becomes one of those things that keeps me busy and keeps my mind off the pain. But doesn't keep me too busy where I go back to the person I was before. The place where I couldn't cope with the pain because I was too busy working and trying to "be strong". Too busy to put forth the extreme amount of mental effort it took (and still takes) to make it through the day.

So am I excited? Yeah, but not yet. By having trained myself to live this way - and still needing it for my sanity and survival - there isn't much room for looking ahead to the future.

Room for more baby quilts? Yep. Finished the "crumby" one today.
 Exercise update: 61 days in a row.  A little over 17 miles on the bike this week.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 106 of 365

Well, I've made a decision.

Actually, I didn't really make the decision. The decision was made by the universe.

I've always believed things work out the way they're supposed to. When things are rough for my daughter I remind her of that. When things are rough for my mom, I remind her. And sometimes I have to remind myself.

The belief that things work out for the best started back before we were married.

The week before our wedding we were shopping at a mall and my husband had a seizure. The mall was closer to his parents' house than ours, so I drove him there. On the way we got a flat tire. A lovely older couple stopped and the gentleman changed our tire for us. After getting to his parents' and then to the hospital, he was referred to another hospital. He had to undergo numerous tests and was prescribed anti-seizure medication the week before our wedding and  I wound up replacing all four tires.

As bad as things were emotionally, physically, and financially during that day and that week I knew it worked out the way it was supposed to. A week later we were on our honeymoon, in the mountains, in a remote cabin without a phone. I kept thinking how much worse things would have been if the seizure had happened while we were there with no way to contact anyone. And how much more difficult it would have been to get down from that mountain with a flat tire. And how much farther the hospital would have been. It worked out for the best.

Last year when I decided to take a year's leave of absence because of the problems with my back, I wasn't confident it was the right decision. Who could have predicted I would need to have two more surgeries after the leave of absence started and would wind up in physical therapy for eight more months? Continuing to work would have been a disaster. The leave of absence worked out.

I knew taking the leave came with risks. Like not having a job to return to. Which is what happened this spring. I found out budget cuts meant there would be no job for me to return to. I was okay with that. I figured the universe was telling me it was best I stay home and recover for a bit longer.

I do love how I spend my time now. And if I had my druthers, I'd continue doing what I'm doing with no changes. I've enjoyed this non-stressful, non-adrenaline, nonchalant, working-on-getting-healthier filled life. But I know in the back of my mind that my time here at home - all day, every day, all by myself - isn't allowing me to live up to my full potential. I know I have some skills that I should be putting to better use.

And it just so happened there was an unexpected resignation in our school district recently. I had contemplated applying for this particular position a few years back. A position that folks I worked with were encouraging me to go for. After careful consideration, I had decided not to pursue it.

Now it was open again. A part-time gig. In the same school district. Not working with kids. More time working on technical writing type things - reports, budgets, grants, meetings. Some flexibility in the days I went in. (Like being able to avoid some of those pesky Thursdays and Fridays I have.) Would get to keep my own office.

If someone analyzed my skills, strengths, and experience and created the perfect job to highlight those things, this job would be it. A position the universe believes is the best for me at this time.

So I have a new job. I'm going back to work.

I'll still have some time off during the summers. Since it's a part-time position, I'll still have time during the school year to work on my 365 days of pictures and blog writing. I'll still continue my exercising and my charity quilts.

My one hope in going back is that I can hold on to the person I've become and be better at my job because of it. I know I'm a different person than I was when I walked out of the school building a year ago. A more whole person. Whether it was having to suffer through pain, or writing every day, or ?, but it has changed me.

So in a couple months the balancing act between home and work will begin.

My balancing act today was between inside and outside, roses and quilts. My Cotillion roses won.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 105 of 365

Today was a yay-wow-yum-cool-good-ouch-oh-whew-yes day.

My husband accuses me of making too many comments about things. It could be I picked it up as a teacher being used to kids using words like cool and yesss and awww in the classroom and on the playground. Or it might come from being home all by myself with no one to talk to. There would be no voices heard all day if I didn't say ouch when I got up or oops when I dropped a fork or oh no when the washing machine leaked.

Now that he's home I'm still making those comments. Like today.

My new free fabric kits came for making some more kids quilts. Yay!

I took him to his barber here in our town so he could get a hair cut. She also trimmed an inch or so off my hair. And only charged me $5 for the trim. Wow!

Our video store is right across the street from the barber so we stopped and got soft serve twist ice cream cones before heading back to the house. Yum!

I got an e-mail from Marcie who shared a link (here) for quilts made with baby clothes. So cool!

I received a phone call from my doctor. The biopsy they did of my esophagus last week came back okay. Good!

We also worked in the vegetable garden today. We weeded and I clipped back some of our tomato plants. I sat on a five gallon bucket with lid to clip the tomatoes. In between plants I stood up and my kneecap slipped out of its groove. I've learned when that happens not to force it back into place. Just straighten the knee, bend the knee, straighten the knee, bend the knee, until it goes back. Ouch!

Bending over pulling weeds? Oh, the back!

Getting through my time on the exercise bike with my knee still hurting a bit? Whew!

Seeing what was hiding under all those tomatoes vines? Yesss!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day 104 of 365

I've always had a hankering for vocabulary.

Although my writing style is informal on this blog, I can be more formal when necessary. It takes me some time, but I can sound like I'm quite intelligent when it comes to the written word.

When I was in high school and took the ACT for college, I scored in the 99th percentile on the English portion of the test. Just fine for getting me out of taking some English classes in college.

When I was working on getting into graduate school a couple years back, I had to take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam). It was an incredibly long and difficult test. I came away with very respectable scores on the verbal section (which included vocabulary). Not bad for being away from college for 15 years.

But this week I learned a new use of a very common word. A word that was not on the GRE.


Not there are crumbs in the bottom of the toaster. Not don't get crumbs on the floor. More like I have a lot of crumbs left over from the quilts I've made. Crumbs meaning small scraps of fabric. Pieces too small to do much with.

I not only learned what a crumb is this week, but I learned I could do something with them. And boy, am I using them!

I'm making more quilt blocks out of them. From the tutorial here, I've started a blue themed baby boy quilt - another one for the Quilts for Kids organization.

I've been mindlessly running my sewing machine for the last couple days putting these together. The next step will be to do a white (?) border and put them into a quilt top.

And the best part? No more blue scraps filling up my scrap basket. The worst part? Now I'm hooked on making them and have to decide what color to use up next.

Hope to have this crumby one put together soon.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 103 of 365

We've always had a thing for roses.

Back when we were in college and had just met, my husband (then boyfriend) was renting a house that had rose bushes out front. Huge rose bushes that had been neglected for many years. We took pruners to them and clipped them low. In the spring they came back with abundance, covered in gorgeous flowers.

After we were married we lived near a park that had a rose garden in it. My husband used to bring me roses from that rose garden. (I think that's called stealing.) Now that rose garden in the park is quite large and has clearly marked signs about taking (stealing) those roses.

When I first started teaching, we moved into a rental where the landlord gave us free reign over the yard. We could dig, plant, tend - whatever we wanted. We put in flowers, a vegetable garden, and a rose garden.  At least we attempted the rose garden. We had spent Spring Break on the Oregon Coast and on the way back made a stop at Jackson and Perkins to buy roses straight from the grower. Despite our best attempt at getting the roses to grow, we failed. At that time we didn't know anything about soil or nutrients, or even how best to water them.

But when we moved into the house we own now, there was a section of the yard that was dirt and weeds. It had a sprinkler system within it and looked like it possibly had been a garden at some point. We didn't know what to do with it so we left it.

By the next year, we decided to make it a flower garden. We dug up the weeds, rototilled it, and mapped out where the beds would go. We purchased landscape timbers for the beds and gravel for the pathways. Over the course of the spring, summer, and fall, a rose garden came into being.

Since then, we've continued to add roses. At one point we had 75 roses in the garden, but after 10 years of Idaho winters, we've lost some of them to the cold. Bugs and diseases have taken some others. But we still have a lot left. Oranges, reds, yellows, whites, peach, pinks, and purples.

It's certainly not like the Lynn Anderson song I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.

Actually, it is exactly like Lynn Anderson. Since Lynn Anderson is the first rose ever planted in our garden. And another one of my favorites.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 102 of 365

For me, Sundays aren't what they used to be. They're turning into lazy Sundays.

I used to listen to the radio every Sunday morning. At 9 every Sunday, Casey Kasem's American Top 40, the 70's edition, used to be on the oldies radio station. So I'd get up, read the paper, eat some breakfast, and clip and file coupons all while listening to the 3 hours of music. For years that was my routine.

But several months ago Casey Kasem was moved to Sunday night instead Sunday morning.

Then a couple months back we stopped our newspaper because the carrier just couldn't get the delivery straight. Sometimes we'd get a delivery every day even though our subscription was only a Sunday and holiday one. Some Sundays the paper would be in the driveway, some Sundays it would be in the paper box, some Sundays it would be in both places, and some Sundays we wouldn't get it at all. After six different calls to the newspaper office, we finally decided to stop our delivery.

And no Sunday paper means no coupons. No coupons means an empty coupon binder. But it also means no clipping, filing, and sorting on Sunday. Which actually isn't a bad thing. After couponing since 1984 it's been kind of nice not to be tied to that routine anymore. I still print some coupons from the internet, and one time we went to the store to buy the paper, but now I'm relying on my daughter's leftover coupons to get me through.

So no Casey Kasem, no newspaper, and no coupon clipping has freed up my Sundays.

Except Sundays are becoming "watch NASCAR on TV" days. Before this year I had never watched NASCAR before, but now it's the one and only routine we have on Sundays.

Sundays seem lazier when the most exciting part of the day is watching television.

Being a lazy Sunday, it only makes sense that I take a picture of a lazy cat.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day 101 of 365

I think I might add squirrels to the list of things that scare me.

Lizards are probably number one. That goes back to when I was a little girl at my Great Grandma and Granddad Hudson's house. There were lots of lizards, darting everywhere. My cousins would run around catching them. Catching them and pulling their tails off. 35 years after that is when I saw my next lizard - in Moab, Utah. I couldn't hardly even look at the thing without getting scared. Keep them away from me, please!

Snakes are number two. I never cared much for snakes. I knew to respect them when we used to go hiking when I was a kid. I learned to make sure your walking stick hits the ground before your feet. It's better they strike at that as opposed to striking your ankles. But another incident is what pushed me over the edge in the snake department.

When my daughter was a baby we were living in a rented mobile home out in the country. We had a mice problem (mice might be considered my number three scary creature). We had traps set all over and caught mice every week. We kept searching for where they were getting in and were always plugging up holes. But we obviously missed one under the cabinets/sink somewhere. Because one day I opened a cabinet under the counter to find a large snake. And snake babies.

My first reaction was a scream. Followed by a call to the landlord who asked me what kind of snake it was. I had no intention of finding out. They sent their grandkids down to take care of the snake problem. These were ranch kids who had seen - and dealt with - plenty of snakes before. They opened the cabinet, but the babies were no where to be found. They did get the big snake from the cabinet.

But not before that snake got out, slithered across the floor, and went under the pantry door.

A sight I will never forget. A sight that, to this day, keeps me as far away from snakes as possible.

But now, a squirrel. As I was headed out to the clothesline today to hang up my newly finished baby quilt, I encountered a squirrel. Running under my feet as I rounded the corner of the house. Which wouldn't have scared me, but that same squirrel jumped right up on the tree trunk. The tree trunk closest to my clothespin bag. And that squirrel parked himself on that tree trunk and stared at me. And wouldn't move. And looked as if he was about to pounce on me. As I tried to get closer to the clothespin bag, he reminded me of the squirrel jumping out of the tree in the movie Christmas Vacation. If you haven't seen the scene, it's here. Notice the look on the squirrel's face as he's ready to jump out of the tree. That's what I saw. Exactly like it. Not nearly as cute to me like he was back on Day 89.

Even after telling the squirrel a couple times that he was scaring me (like he'd listen), he refused to move. Finally, he decided to jump on a higher branch.

That gave me the chance to get my quilt up and my picture taken. Better this picture than a squirrel attack picture.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 100 of 365

Wow. One hundred days.

A hundred days of taking pictures. A hundred days of writing.

Of finding a way to get through the day. A hundred days of trying not to think about pain. (Some of those days I wasn't good at that one.) Of trying to mask the pain and frustration I feel from those around me. (Okay, not always good at that one, either.)

One hundred days worth of sewing, baking, gardening, bird watching, and Target shopping. Of paying it forward with quilts and and concert tickets and expired coupons.

Of downsizing, yet buying more fabric to finish up quilts. One hundred days of trying to focus on the needs of others and on life around me.

A hundred days of self-reflection. Of telling my story.

Of physical therapy, doctor's appointments, medical tests, injections. A hundred days of hoping for a better life.

Of learning to start an exercise habit (54 days in a row now, a little over 16 miles on the bike this week), of kicking the sugar addiction, and of starting to eat salads (even though I still have to mix it with something else).

One hundred days of (trying) to coming to terms with my physical limitations.

Of trying to answer the crucial questions. How do I move on? How can I be a useful, productive citizen when I can't even stand long enough to wash dishes, cook dinner, or brush my teeth? (Not to worry - I do brush my teeth properly, but I have to sit.)

Back on Day 1 I didn't know if I'd ever make it to Day 100.

But here we are. I am still here. I am alive and breathing.

Back on Day 1 I was thankful for my family, for my husband as breadwinner, and for my daughter who let me live with her for my last surgical recovery. I was thankful for the cat that climbed up on me when I wasn't feeling so great and for the roof over my head. I was thankful for the view of the river I have from my living room window. And thankful that on some days I was able to do things that benefited others like collecting coupons to send to military families, making blankets for babies, and making cookies for my physical therapists.

After 100 days I can now add more to that thankful list.

I'm so thankful for my gardens, my ability to write, my camera (for sure!), my commitment to exercising, my time spent sewing for others, the birds that appear out my window, and the beauty around me.

100 days ago I wasn't spending time searching and recognizing the beauty around me. I was lost and didn't know where I was going. I was wandering and floundering in my own pool of unknowns. Bitter and angry.

So many unknowns are still present, but I'm learning to be a better (as opposed to a bitter) person despite my physical restrictions.

And 100 days later I'm thankful to those of you who read my blog and to those who comment on what I write. I'm thankful for your support as I continue to move forward. And thankful that you hang in there with me even when the only things you're reading about are complaints from me.

I couldn't have predicted I'd be where I am now 100 days ago. I can't even imagine where the next 100 days are going to take me!

But on this day - Day 100 - I again discovered beauty in my rose garden. Another rose opened up today.

It just so happens to be the one called "Peace".

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 99 of 365

I don't think my mind is playing tricks on me this time.

Back on Day 83 I had left the doctor's office in a funk. I had gained weight despite exercising for 37 days in a row. I had started to clean up my diet, was starting to eat salads, and was extremely disappointed that the scale showed I had gained weight when I was expecting it to show I'd lost weight.

Yesterday when I had my test at the hospital, I didn't get weighed so I didn't worry about weight gain or loss.

But today when I got home from spending the night at my daughter's and was getting ready to go to a meeting at school, I put on a new pair of pants. Actually, a pair of pants I bought several months ago. A pair I've never worn because I couldn't fit into them. But today I put on those pair of pants. And they fit just fine.

So despite what that darn scale said at the doctor's office two weeks ago, my body is changing shape. In a good way. And that makes it easier to keep doing what I'm doing - like exercising for the 53rd day in a row.

The other nice thing about today when I got home from spending the night at my daughter's? My husband was crafting a big bouquet of huge peonies from our garden.

Not bad for a guy's flower arrangement.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 98 of 365

Today is a day I'd just rather forget. Mostly I'd like to forget the time between 12 and 1 o'clock.

Up so I could dress and exercise before 7.

So I could leave by 8.

So I could be at my daughter's by 9.

So I could be at the hospital by 10.

So I could have a procedure that was scheduled to start before 11.

So I could wait more until it finally started before 12.

So I could come out from under the sedation in the middle of the procedure and be awake while a tube and camera were down my throat looking into my stomach.

So I could gag and choke as the procedure continued on while more sedation didn't kick in.

So I could find out that I have a hiatal hernia, had my esophagus biopsied, and that I may need surgery, all before 1.

So I could be back at my daughter's by 2.

So I could sleep until 5.

So I could eat by 6.

So I could go home.

But not today. I was given strict instructions not to drive until tomorrow. I'm camped out at my daughter's, sleeping in her bed and taking it easy. And hoping to get back home tomorrow.

Thank goodness I had time to snap a picture of my wildflower-turned-perennial garden before I left the house. My pink oriental poppies are getting ready to show off.

Better them than my upper digestive system.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 97 of 365

The weather aided me in opening the sewing room again. It rained all morning and made me feel not as guilty about getting into the sewing more than the gardening.

Looking back over these last 97 days I've done a lot of sewing!
I'm glad I game myself permission yesterday to get back into it. And boy, did I get into it. I usually always use another person's pattern (even though I sometimes alter it a bit) when I make something. I saw a quilt pattern I wanted to try but didn't want to shell out the money, so I tried to duplicate it myself. I'm still working away on it and hope to have the top finished by the end of the week. I think (I hope) it'll be one of my pictures soon.

But for today's picture - after the rain stopped and the sun started shining I went to take a look (not work) in the garden. And my roses have started blooming! The first official rose that has bloomed is one of my favorites - Rio Samba. A yellow rose with orange highlights and a nice spicy fragrance (and if I wasn't sick I'd be able to smell it).

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 96 of 365

I don't know why I think I can do it all. I should be able to garden, sew, and bake all in the same week.

But the amount of time I'm taking to get myself going in the morning has to change. On any given day I might get up, go to the lift chair, have breakfast, go back to bed for a few minutes, back to the chair, then to a shower, then get dressed, then back to the chair or bed, then to the computer, then get my shoes on. It can take three or more hours for me to finally be showered, dressed, and fed. Then another hour or so before the body is warmed up enough where I can start moving to work in the garden.

I've tried to move the process up, but depending on the day - and the severity of the pain in the back and the joints - it's tough to do. Those days where I do speed it up, I wind up paying for it because I'm hurting even more. So realistically if I wake up at 7, it can be noon before I can start to do anything worthwhile.

It's not any different than a few months ago. But then I could work quietly in the house, organizing something, maybe do some less taxing work like sewing, and get by. With the garden season in full swing there isn't much less taxing work available.

So yet again I'm frustrated. Frustrated with my body, with my limitations. There is a lot I can do and a lot I am thankful for, but gardening is not becoming one of them.

I think the best remedy is to open my sewing room again. Back on Day 80 I had decided to close it for summer. But I now need it. I need to have somewhere to go and something to do on these rough mornings. Something that will get my mind off my pain and troubles. Get myself focusing on someone and something else.

I thought gardening, one of the things I love so dearly, was going to help me get moving in the right direction. I was wrong.

Back to what I know makes me feel better about myself and something I know my joints can tolerate. Sewing for others.

And perfect timing on that decision. Outside my sewing room window I spied a pair of quail in the garden.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 95 of 365

Today was an I'm just plumb worn out day.

After going to Boise on Monday, birthday shopping with my daughter on Tuesday, going to school on Wednesday and Thursday, celebrating her birthday on Friday, and back to Boise on Saturday I'm just worn out.

With still fighting the flu, still fighting the icky-ness I'm feeling from the injections, having hubby home all the time, and having this busy week it just did me in. I can't remember the last time I had a week like this. I like my quiet days (that was before my husband was out for summer). It was me, the cat, and the sewing machine.

But now I have the husband, the cat, the gardens, the daughter this week, school this week, and the car I'm having to drive everywhere.

When I originally started this blog, I was hoping it would help me get back to the land of the living instead of the land of the existing. Right now I'm kinda longing for the land of the existing. I've just done too much living this week for this body to handle!

I was so tired last night I fell asleep early and didn't wake up until 6:30 this morning. I was super thirsty so I went to the kitchen to get a drink of water. And found my picture of the day. First thing. Before I even had a chance to get that drink of water.

I took a picture of the sun coming up through the clouds (it was prettier in person). Then I took my drink and went right back to bed.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 94 of 365

On my way to and from town I saw tons of signs directing me to things that were happening today.

Gun show. Open House. Wine Tasting. Free Car Wash. Farmer's Market. Sign Recall Petition Here. Dozens and dozens of yard sale/garage sale signs.

I used to go to yard sales a lot. Mostly for books. I was looking for a cheap way to build my classroom library, and my daughter would tag along hoping to pick something up for herself. But then I stopped. I don't know why, but I just did. Then we only went to yard sales in Sun Valley when we had girls' weekend. But we haven't been to Sun Valley in a couple years, so we haven't been to any yard sales in a while. Honestly, in the past few years I've been so plagued with health issues I haven't had any interest in going to a yard sale, let alone leaving the house.

But every time I saw a yard sale sign today, I wondered why I'm not even considering stopping at one now. Maybe it's because I'm trying to get rid of our stuff we already have. Maybe it's because I know I don't need any more books. (We have an entire living room wall of bookshelves full of books.) I don't need any more fabric, or household items, or junk.

So after I dropped my daughter off I came straight home, skipped all yard sales, and went outside. I spent time doing what I consider to be more important than acquiring stuff. Watching the hummingbird bring more fluff for her nest. Watching the cat wander around. Checking out my flowers that are blooming.

And I watched a bee working hard in my oriental poppies. I'm not sure what the spider's role was, though. It doesn't matter since both of them are more interesting than a yard sale would have been today.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 93 of 365

It's been 23 years exactly.

23 years since our one and only child was born. It wasn't meant to be that way. We planned on having several kids, but things don't always work out as planned.

We tried for many years and wound up with nothing but two ectopic pregnancies that never made it past the first couple months. Then any chance to have more kids ended when I had to have a hysterectomy when I was 30. We briefly considered adoption, but my husband nixed that quickly. He had seen plenty of students in his high school classes who were adopted, struggling to find who they were and where they came from, that he had absolutely no interest in being part of that heartache.

So our one girl was all we would ever have. There's a perception that only children are spoiled. In one respect, that is true. But we learned early not to spoil her with "stuff". We never bought her a car, a cell phone, an ipod, or a computer. We spoiled her with experiences and opportunities. Museums, camps, trips and travel. Before she went to college, we had made sure she'd visited all 50 states. She's been on two cruises. She's driven on the beaches of Texas, swam in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. She's played in volleyball tournaments around Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. She's snorkeled in the waters of Alaska and hiked a volcano in Hawaii.

At 23 it's getting to the point where she'll start paying for her own experiences and opportunities. What we will continue to do, though, is make her feel special on her birthday. Special with a few presents, a good homemade barbecue dinner of her choosing (steak, grilled onions, garlic bread, and asparagus, baked potatoes, and salad). Special with a cake decorated by her mommer (me).

I didn't spend the amount of time I should in decorating it, but it'll do for the three of us. I'm taking what my horoscope said today to heart. "Don't beat yourself up for not being perfect!"

And kiddo, remember that for yourself too. Happy Birthday!
Exercise update: Today was 47 days in a row. I've been down with the flu all week so it's been difficult to exercise every day, but I did it. I cut back on the amount of time I usually bike, so the total biked this week was only a little over 15 miles.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 92 of 365

I keep drawing these lines in the sand. And I keep moving them.

First it was the handicapped placard for the car. Long before I had my knee replacement the joint had deteriorated to bone on bone. I went more than a year that way, limping and in a lot of pain. Even going from the parking lot into the doctor's office was tough. Once in a while I would make some comment about how parking in the handicap spot might help some.

But I had no intention of ever doing that. I drew a line in the sand. In no way would I ever get a handicapped placard. I am not handicapped. I will not ever consider myself bad enough to park in one of those spots.

Except the pain kept getting worse and worse. And the walk from the car to the doctor's office, or the grocery store, or work, became more and more painful.

So with the encouragement of my family, I got up the nerve to talk to the doctor about it. The line in the sand was moved when the doctor said, based on my knee, that I absolutely needed one.

When it arrived in the mail, I again drew a line in the sand when I refused to use it.

More pain, more difficulty in walking, and the insistence from my daughter that I use it. So I started to park in the handicapped spot - only sometimes - thus moving the line again.

Then I drew a line in the sand about using a cane. Nope, never will I use a cane at work. If I'm that bad off, I'll quit working. Except I had things to do at work. And as the bones began to wear down more and more my leg started to become deformed.

I had to use a cane to get me around. Moved the line.

Then came the shots for arthritis. Would I ever give myself my own shots? Nope, never. I'm drawing the line there, doctor.

Two months ago my pain, swelling, and stiffness was keeping me from being functional and I was desperate. There goes another line moved.

Thank goodness it's a prefilled syringe that I push down and click, so there's no looking at the needle. There's no way I could ever give myself a shot where I had to measure it myself and watch the needle go in. That is definitely my very last line in the sand. I will not budge.

But that line has been crossed. I give myself weekly injections of Methotrexate. I have to measure it, I have to watch the needle go in.

I can't believe it's come to this. I can't believe this is my life.

I can't believe I have to, in addition to all of the other medications I take, do this. Do this to be able to get out of bed. To be able to type. To be able to tie my shoes, ride an exercise bike, open a jar. To just get through the day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 91 of 365

I have to take back the statement I made last week. I had written that I wasn't really into birds all that much.

But I think I am becoming a bird person.

After the goldfinch on Day 81, the kissing goldfinches on Day 83, the red winged blackbird from Day 85, and the multiple bird encounters from Day 87 how can I not?

Then add in this one hummingbird that keeps hanging around that is pushing me into the bird watching territory. It's out the front window, out the window when I'm at the computer, and out the bedroom window. We hadn't been able to figure out where she's going (or more importantly where her nest is). We have a hummingbird that returns every year to a nest near our garden, but she has not returned this year so we've been getting a bit worried. We hope it's the same one but have been disappointed with no nesting.

So when a hummingbird link came up on the quilting board site that I visit, I clicked on it. A live hummingbird nest, complete with two tic tac sized eggs. Maybe this live camera of a hummingbird sitting on her eggs and fluffing her nest would be a good substitute for not seeing our hummingbird nesting.

The website also had a live loon camera from Minnesota. On and off for the last two days my daughter and I have sat watching baby loons breaking out of their shells, being cared for by their parents, and riding on the backs of mom and dad. Last night we went to bed worried because one of the babies had gone off into the lake in the dark. Alas, this morning all was okay as baby was back. Such drama! But we've enjoyed checking on the little ones throughout the day.

Then, to top it off, we finally found a nesting hummingbird here at home. Have a seat at our patio table and look straight up. You'll see a momma bringing in some fluff and building an ever-so-soft nest. Can't wait for the babies!

Yep, I'm a birdwatcher now.