Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 212 of 365

My mind has a bazillion things going through it right now and I just realized I haven't given the update on my second chance day (Day 208).

The second chance for Merle Haggard? He and Kris Kristofferson went back and forth on songs, and both of them forgot some lyrics. Last time when I saw Merle, his intoxication was the obviously the reason for his poor performance. This time, once he started the song again he got it right. But they both look old (because they are). It gives hope that even at that age, you can still contribute and have some life left in you.

The second chance for me? Finally making it to a concert again? Well, here's how it worked. We had seats in the third row. The third row in the orchestra pit. Since the third row orchestra pits seats aren't permanent seats, nice padded chairs were brought in. Comfy seats, lots of legroom, plenty of space to move and adjust, up close to the stage. My body made it through just fine. I don't know if there is another concert in the near future, but this one worked out well.

The second chance watermelon didn't turn out so well. Whenever we've grown watermelon in the past we've always winded up picking them too early. Despite when we plant them, they usually get hit by the frost before they are ready. But after looking at them carefully, we found one of the biggest ones out there. The one with the creamy yellow underbelly. Stuck it in the fridge, got it nice and cold, and cut into it for dessert.

It was pink. Not just pink, but light pink. I thought by chance it could have been a different variety and gave it a taste. Uh, no. So the big, beautiful, green striped watermelon had to go bye-bye. We still have several growing in the garden, so the second chance plants will just have to give us a second watermelon before the first freeze.

Pumpkins before the first freeze? Quite a lot, including this one. From hanging on dearly to my pea fence as a green pumpkin on Day 184 to a hanging on dearly to my pea fence as an orange pumpkin today.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 211 of 365

Every time I go to the doctor I feel like I'm digging a bigger hole for myself.

Today was the rheumatologist appointment and I had a couple things I wanted to find out about. The first one was about another medication - one for my back. On Day 190 when I was at the pain clinic one of the only acceptable options for me was an anti-inflammatory medication that I could use sparingly for a few months to provide some temporary relief. When the pain clinic doctor gave me the prescription he cautioned me that the use of this drug will cause an increase in the side effects of my methotrexate (the chemotherapy drug I take for the rheumatoid arthritis). So I hadn't taken that anti-inflammatory yet, hadn't had any temporary relief from the back pain yet. I wanted to check with the rheumatologist first. His answer today?

No. That medication is not something you should be taking.

The second thing I wanted to find out about was something to relief the miserable pain, stiffness, and swelling of my hands. My hands have always been the first to go. When I'm starting to have a flare-up I notice it in my hands first. I've given up crocheting. I've given up hand quilting. I squeeze toothpaste with the heel of my hand. I mostly wear slip on shoes. I can't grasp things, hold things, or balance things in my hands.

And now since my entire day at work is spent typing away (and I have several days of those in a row each week), my hands aren't getting better. In fact, they are getting worse. A lot worse. So I asked about some braces I can work in.

His answer? Yep, that might be a good idea. Except...

If the hands are getting worse despite the aggressive drugs I'm taking, we need to take a closer look. There should be no reason, even with the excess typing, that the pain, stiffness, and swelling should be not getting better and it especially should not be getting worse. So another ultrasound has been ordered. And if the results show the hands are the same or worse than before?

Another treatment. Just about the last option. An expensive option.

On Day 15, I started an expensive treatment. A $500+ a shot once-a-week treatment. Over $2,000 a month for one injectable medication. (Thank goodness for some insurance help.)

But this new, last ditch effort medication? Three starter doses, then doses every eight weeks (or could be more often). Each dose is a 2 hour IV. I have to sit in the infusion center for 2 hours at a time. But the cost is the worst part.

According to the nurse, around $10,000 a treatment. That's ten thousand dollars for each one of those IVs. Thirty thousand dollars right off the bat for the starter doses. $10,000 each time after that. I don't know what insurance covers, but imagine not all of it.

If that won't make a person depressed, I don't know what will.

So here at the end of the day, I'm retreating to my sewing room and am going to fold some fabric. Some bargain fabric I got this week. Perfect for kids quilts, and perfect for a different project I have coming up soon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 210 of 365

I've always wanted to own a children's bookstore. Like Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail. I kept the idea in the back of my mind until I saw the movie. Since her business went under in the movie, I figured it might not be the best career move so I dropped the thought completely. Then I wanted to be an author. A children's book author. I have a couple rough drafts of stories I've worked on over the years, but haven't moved on either of them.

But something happened last week that made me think I might pick up those rough drafts again. I went to see the movie, The Help. By myself. Yep, I finally I made it to the movies.

I had watched the movie a while back with my husband, but since then I've read the book. I wanted to go back and see the movie again after reading it to do some comparisons between the two. The first time I saw the movie, I was engaged in the story of the lives of the maids. But when I watched it this time, I picked up on something else. The writing. If you haven't seen the movie or read the book, it's about people telling (and writing down) their stories. It occurred to me that I'm doing something similar. Nothing as grand or forward thinking or controversial as what's portrayed in the movie, but still my story.

Some days when I sit down to write the blog, I'm having a bad day and it is prevalent in my writing. Other days I've had some time to think things through and wind up telling stories (all true) about my life. I wonder if I tell enough of these stories I'll feel like a writer. Maybe I still have some of my own life stories to tell. Maybe someday something I say will have importance in someone's life besides my own.

They say if you want to write, treat it as a job and practice it every day. All day long during my real-work job I do nothing but formal writing - reports, plans, grants, and lots and lots of editing. At home, my writing is more casual with the daily blog. I'm getting tons of writing in - both formal and informal - so do I want to write even more so I can finish one of my books? I don't know.  Finishing a project that has been gnawing on me would be a nice thing to have complete.

Maybe my own rose garden's version of Charlotte's Web is a sign.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Make Chocolate and Candy Covered Caramel Apples - Day 209 of 365, Tutorial Tuesday

I've always tried to rationalize what I eat. Especially the not-so-good stuff. It's like those articles I read called Eat This, Not That. It spotlights different restaurants' choices and suggests which one is better than the other. Not that they're good for you, just that one is better.

My most frequent (and flawed) which choice is better thoughts:
  • I'll eat a bigger dinner and then I won't want a sugary dessert.
  • I'll eat a sugary dessert and then I won't want to eat a big dinner.
  • I'll eat a fruit filled danish instead of a doughnut. At least I'll get some fruit in.
  • I'll eat fried zucchini to get in some vegetables. Never mind that they're slathered in bread crumbs and fried in oil.
  • Let's have green pepper and onion pizza instead of pepperoni. Must be healthier, even with all that greasy cheese.  
  • Might as well make homemade french fries - they have to be better for you than restaurant fries.
  • Caramel apples can't be that bad for you. They're made with apples for goodness sakes!
I'm not sure I can count today's picture and tutorial in the healthy department. Yep, there are apples involved. But they also have caramel. And chocolate. And Butterfingers.

They may not be healthy, but they are unbelievably tasty! Click on the video below for the directions:

This recipe is featured in Valentine's Day: 14 Ways to Say I Love You with Desserts. Pick up your copy today!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 208 of 365

I'm not a musically inclined person.

The most difficult class I took in college was Music 101. The second most difficult class was another Music class. I think I must be tone deaf or something, because when we had to distinguish between the different notes, I couldn't hear the difference. When other people listen to music they make comments about a particular instrument in the song, but I can't hear it.

But I like listening to music and even prefer it over TV. Don't know what I'm listening to, but I do listen. My tastes have changed over the years, though.

I started out in high school being into pop music. Then I shifted to rock. AC/DC, Foreigner, Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones had a farewell tour in San Francisco when I was a teenager. I couldn't go, but listened to the SF radio station play each song as the Stones were playing it in the stadium. Being it was a farewell tour, I knew I'd never get to see them for real.

When I was a teen, I moved to Idaho and turned country. Barbara Mandrell, Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, and Merle Haggard became listening staples.

Since then, I've listened to all types of music with no particular favorite. I've been to dozens of pop, rock, and country concerts and enjoyed Journey (my first concert) as much as I enjoyed Conway Twitty, Sting, The Monkees (oohh, Davey Jones), and The Rolling Stones (yep, saw them live in concert about 25 years after that farewell tour I missed).

But one concert - specifically one performer - has left me disappointed, and I never forgot it. Merle Haggard.

He was one of my favorite country singers and I got the chance to see him in concert not long after I moved to Idaho. But once I saw him on stage, my opinions changed. Merle Haggard was under the influence of something. Alcohol, maybe? Stumbling around the stage, slurring his words, forgetting his lyrics. The worst concert I have ever been to.

I decided right then and there I'd stop listening to him, stop buying his music. And I did. Every time his song came on the radio, I wasn't interested in paying attention.

But it's been almost three decades since that concert. It's finally time to give Merle Haggard a second chance. I'm also giving myself a second chance.

He gets his second chance tonight, after work. My husband and I are going to see Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson in concert in Boise. As for my second chance - after giving away my Elton John tickets back on Day 37 (Marcie told us about the concert and sent us a picture on Day 39), it's time to try and get myself back to a concert.

I hope it all turns out well. I know the second chance I gave my watermelons worked out well. The late cold weather in the spring (like where the tulips were covered with snow on Day 58) made for dead watermelon plants. I purchased new ones later in the season and hoped we'd get watermelons before the first fall frost.

The second chance watermelon are ready to be picked. Let's hope the watermelons are tasty, Merle Haggard is good, and I can make it through a concert again.