A few of you recently made comments about my lack of updates.   The major reasons for that are:  Fibro fog, Fibro fatigue, and pain (caused by Fibromyalgia, herniated discs, pinched nerves, torn rotator cuff, etc.).  It’s a miracle I can hold a job and get meals on the table.  My online journal, or blog, or whatever you want to call it, is simply not a priority for me these days.

Anyway, I have the day off because of a snow storm, so I decided to devote some of it to a review of 2010.

January: Went to a welcome home dinner for a young man who was kicked out of the armed forces and sent home from Afghanistan after someone blew the whistle on him for being gay.

A furnace repairman might have saved our lives… He discovered that the hot water heater exhaust flue had been knocked off the flue vent.  It must have been off for quite some time because the flue gasses melted some of the pipe insulation. According to him, we were in danger of dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

February: As I was going up to bed one night, I lost my balance and fell down a couple of stairs, twisting my right leg in the process, and landing heavily on it.  X-rays at the ER the next day revealed bone contusion and bruised muscles.  I just love adding more pain to my life.

In an unrelated incident – you know you’ve had too many MRIs when the technician recognizes you and greets you by saying, “Back for more?”

March: One of Leigh’s dear friends died during heart surgery.  Rest peacefully, Quicci.

Leigh had to have her cat, Simmy, put to sleep.  More heartbreak.

Daniel and I celebrated anniversary #5.

Developed an addiction to Chobani pomegranate Greek yogurt.

April: Had a “Scary headache” for the entire month.

May: Had the front porch painted, which turned out to be a very good thing because that’s pretty much where I spent my summer vacation…

June: Refinanced our mortgage to go from 6.25 interest rate down to 4.875.

July: Went to Seaside Heights.  Would have enjoyed it more if not for the god-awful heat. It should be against the law for temps to get that high (102).

My grandmother turned 99.

August: I was trapped at the chiropractor’s for two hours because of a devastating storm that passed through the area. Five cars in the parking lot were crushed under trees. One car belonged to my neighbor, and another to my cousin.  That storm was a sight to see!

The city damaged our driveway when they cut down the tree in front of our house.  They failed to respond to my letters, so a legal consultation will have to be the next step.

The front page of our local paper featured an article about a 17 year old girl I knew very well who was killed in a horrific accident the previous morning. In another section of the paper there was an obituary for a good friend of mine.  In three days, I lost two people I loved.  Rest peacefully Natia and Bob.

I turned 56.

While I was standing in the parking lot of a restaurant, a guy yelled, “Shorty, shorty!” When I turned around he asked, “Are you married?” I have to say that being called “shorty” made my day.

September: Adventures with ambien – Objects in photos seem to move just like they do in Harry Potter! Freaky, man.  I also discovered that I sometimes indulge in online shopping while under the influence of ambien. Definitely not a good thing.

Found out that the stabbing victim in a recent homicide was my father’s best friend.  Rest peacefully, Ron.

The results of my skin test revealed that I have perivascular dermatitis.  Because of the effing rash, my legs were so swollen I had elephant knees!

Reconnected with old friends (one of whom is Snooki’s mother).

Our community lost yet another young person who died much too soon. Rest peacefully, Zach.

October: One morning when Daniel was getting ready to drive me to work, we found a dead cat under the front tire. (No, it hadn’t been run over – it must have crawled there to die.) Not a good way to start the day.

This year’s Dress Up As A Literary Character costume – Esmeralda (from THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME by Victor Hugo)

Had a very enjoyable time at the Sheep &Wool Festival. Chatting with some llamas and alpacas (actually, they were humming) was the best part.

Four years…I miss you, Mark. Rest peacefully.

November: An old high school friend died after a long battle with cancer. Her brother (who was a very little boy at the time) gave me the only nickname I’ve ever had – “wild eyes.”  Rest peacefully, Beth.

A former student and friend of my daughters died unexpectedly. Rest peacefully, Peter.

I found out about a whopper of a lie that was spread about me 25 years ago… Apparently, I was a coke addict!  Diet coke, maybe, but certainly not the white powdery stuff.  Sheesh.  I guess there’s a statute of limitations on slander/defamation of character, huh… Oh well, at least I got a good laugh out of it!

Was stunned to learn that an old online friend took his own life. He was such a kind person and gentle soul, not to mention a brilliant mathematician and skating enthusiast. I’m really going to miss his nickname for me (Stephanova) and the praying mantis warnings (personal joke). Rest peacefully, Robby.

Spent over three hours at the ER – Leigh’s myoclonic seizures caused her to fall down the stairs AND on the driveway as we were guiding her to the car to take her to the hospital. They did NOTHING, and we finally announced that we were leaving (but not before I created a bit of a scene).  As Leigh pointed out, a Veterinary Clinic wouldn’t treat an ANIMAL that way. They wouldn’t just throw a cat or dog in a crate and let it seizure for three hours. Unbelievable!

Another ER visit  – for me, this time.  Diagnosis: mesenteric lymphadenitis – inflammation of the mesenteric lymph nodes. Causes pain that mimics acute appendicitis. I hope I never have to experience that kind of pain again.   That was the most agonizing experience of my life, and I’m no stranger to pain.

A former student (and Leigh’s childhood friend) celebrated the release of his first book. Congratulations, Daniel!

December: As usual, I hosted the Christmas festivities.


My former mother-in-law died on December 28th.  She had just been at my house for Christmas, and was in fine spirits, and seemed to be in good health. During the early hours of the 27th, she had a hemorrhagic stroke and had already suffered irreparable brain damage by the time she was found.   The all-day bedside vigil before she passed away was heart wrenching and draining. Rest peacefully, Marj.

All in all, it was a pretty shitty year with far too many deaths.  Which is another reason why I didn’t update.  So there you go.

Song of the Day: Bad Year by Sicko

I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since I last posted here.  Facebook has been satisfying my need to share some of life’s tidbits, and affords me the opportunity to do so with very little effort, which is something that appeals to me more and more these days.  Besides chronic pain, the extreme heat has sapped me of whatever little bit of energy I might have left over when I get home from work.  Temperatures have been holding steady at around 88 degrees for several days now, and I’m not liking it one bit.  It’s much too early for this kind of heat.  Actually, as far as I’m concerned, there’s never a good time for this kind of heat.  I have a feeling it’s going to be a looooooong summer.

Speaking of summer, this will be my first without having at least one of my daughters around (since Rebecca was born in 1986).  Leigh is spending the next couple of months with Becca, and will be waitressing at Matt’s restaurant.  (Matt is Rebecca’s boyfriend, and proprietor of an Outback.)   At the end of August, she’ll be heading to SUNY Binghamton to complete her Bachelor’s Degree.  She just graduated from SUNY Delhi with an Associate’s Degree in their Veterinary Tech program, and earned a 4.0, which is especially noteworthy considering that she had an extra heavy course load (19 credits).  I’m so proud of her, and of Rebecca, as well, who earned her Bachelor’s Degree a few months ago, and is taking some time off before going on for her Master’s.

There’s not much else of interest to report… I applied to work summer school and am pretty certain I’ll be assigned to the position.  Once again, there won’t be any vacation for me.  I’m deeply disappointed about that.  I so look forward to getting away, but haven’t been able to afford to do that for the last couple of years.  The drudgery of life is really wearing thin… Oh well.  I guess I’ll be spending much of the summer in my favorite spot at home – on the front porch.

Song of the Day:  Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly and the Family Stone

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And the Award Goes To

April 5, 2009

A few days ago,  Jim surprised me by picking me as one of his selections to be awarded a Premio Dardos Award.  Thank you, Jim!

Premio Dardos means “prize darts” in Italian and is awarded for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary and personal values in the form of creative and original writing. The rules are:

1. Accept the award by pasting the graphic on your blog along with the name of the person who granted the award and a link to his/her blog.

2. Pass the award to another 15 that are worthy of acknowledgment, remembering to contact each so they know they have been selected.

Many of the online journalists/bloggers I read have already been chosen for this award.  So I am just going to refer you to my blogroll, which can be found at the bottom right of this page.  They are all good reads.

In other news, Friday was my last day at work until the 13th.  Spring break came just in the nick of time.  Work was sucking the life out of me.  I was beyond exhausted, and the pain has been very bad.

I’m hoping this break will be regenerative, although I haven’t been taking it easy so far.   Yesterday I spent the whole day cleaning the kitchen, including the refrigerator, which was pretty gross.  I was in agony by the time I said to myself, “Enough is enough.”

Today I hope to get some yard work done, since the weather is nice for a change.   The locals seem to have mistaken our front lawn for the city dump.  There are bags and food wrappers all over the place.  Grrrr.  I also have some spring bulbs to plant, and some yard debris (the natural kind) to clear.

According to the 10 day forecast, except for Thursday and Sunday, it will rain every day of my spring break, so I’d better get out there while the getting is good.

Song of the day:  Spring by Tracy Chapman

Another Death

March 4, 2009

This morning, I woke up with the same tension headache I went to bed with last night.

Let me explain.  Yesterday, I was having a discussion about furnaces with a co-worker whose husband works for a heating company.  I mentioned that I needed to get my furnace cleaned, and asked if her husband does jobs on the side.  She said he does, but is very busy in the winter, and therefore recommended that I give him a call over the summer.  I made a note to do so.

As luck would have it (my luck, that is), I came home to a freezing cold house.

Fortunately, I was able to get someone from the aforementioned company to come over pretty quickly.  He replaced the thermocouple at the cost of $162 ($125 of which was just for the house call).  This came on the heels of a $940 gas & electric bill.  (We have gas heat.  Still, that’s a lot of money for two months, especially considering that we keep the thermostat set at 68 when we’re home, and 65 during the night and when we’re at work.)

To add to yesterday’s bad news, I also learned that our elderly neighbor died on Sunday.  A few days ago, I asked Daniel if he had seen Helen.  I said I was worried because there had been an unusual amount of activity going on over at her place.  It turns out that I was right to be concerned.

Helen was a tough old broad.  I’ll never forget the first time I met her.  She introduced herself with a handshake that crushed my fingers.  I swear, it hurt so much I couldn’t wait for her to let go.

Helen was on dialysis.  About a year ago, she was admitted to the hospital on an emergency basis.  Her cat, Lollipop, was hanging around our back porch late in the evening, so I realized something must have happened to Helen.  We put food and water out for Lollipop until Helen was discharged from the hospital.  Helen’s brother stopped by one afternoon, and I mentioned that we were looking after the cat.  He told Helen, and she called to thank us as soon as she got home.  She said she was especially grateful because Lollipop was the love of her life.  (Helen was a widow.)  I thought that was so cute.

A few months ago, I was out on my back porch around 5:30 pm.  It was pitch dark.  Suddenly, I heard Helen call my name.  She asked if I would help her.  I followed her voice to a spot between our properties, and found her standing there, afraid to move.   She said she had fallen, and, while she was able to get back on her feet, she was too shaky to walk to her house.  I asked what she was doing outside in the dark, and she said it wasn’t dark when she went out.  That meant that she had been standing there for at least an hour.

I put my arm around her and led her to her back door, step by painstaking step.  She kept stumbling, and had to stop and rest every few seconds.  A couple of days later, she sent me a thank you card.

Except for a few waves in passing, that’s the last real interaction I had with Helen.   It’s hard to believe I will never see her again.

Song of the Day:  If I Never See Your Face Again by Maroon 5

She Had a Good Run

March 2, 2009

Before I get to the topic for this entry, I’d like to address a comment.  Fay asked if I meditate, or do any sort of ritual de-stressing each day.  Good question!  I have tried to meditate, but can’t seem to shut my brain down.  As for ritual de-stressing, I’m open to suggestions.  I’d also like to thank Sheryl for her comment.  It’s always good to hear from someone who has firsthand knowledge of what chronic pain sufferers have to live with.

Moving right along… I’m in a hurry because we have a snow day and I want to go back to bed.  I should probably stay up and tackle the multitude of things I have to do – taxes, FAFSA applications, clean the kitchen, etc., but this untreated sinus infection (I don’t believe the nonallergic rhinitis diagnosis is accurate.  The mucus is yellow, for crying out loud!) is getting the better of me.  Anyway, this is an excerpt from an entry I posted on January 8, 2006 on Diary-x:

Centenarian Coquette

Daniel and I went to a party for a friend’s grandmother who just turned one hundred years old.  You’d never guess her age. She gets all dolled up, and looks amazing. She’s sharp as a tack, too. Incredibly, this woman worked until the age of 94!

I can’t say I had a good time at the party, but it wasn’t bad, either. There were at least fifty people there, and I didn’t know any of them except for the host and his wife, so it was a bit awkward and uncomfortable. We don’t like to leave Ellie in her crate too long (but can’t leave her unsupervised, either), so we had a good excuse to leave early.

One thing we did enjoy was the barbershop quartet that serenaded the 100-year old birthday girl. They were pretty good, but what made the experience even better was watching The Coquettish Centenarian’s reaction to the men as they sang to her. It’s good to know that a person can still be flirtatious even at such an advanced age. More power to her!

Yesterday, Daniel and I went to her wake.  Rest peacefully, Mildred.

Song of the Day: Coquette by Paul McCartney

Let’s Dish

January 24, 2009

In the comments section for the previous entry, candidbeauty wanted to know about the anti-inflammatory patches.  They are called Flector Patch, and I have to say that they give me more pain relief than Lidoderm patches.   However, I am a bit concerned about the increased risk for blood clots and stroke, considering that I have Anticardiolipin Antibody, which also puts me at risk for those medical problems.

Another question was asked by LA, who received a very cool set of dishes from her man, Mick, on her recent birthday.  I mentioned in her comments section that I had also purchased dishes at Pier 1, and she wanted to know what kind I bought.  They are called Cassidy stoneware.

It’s not a complete set, though.  I found them on a back wall in the clearance section, where they were being sold by the piece.  The plates (which are oversized, and therefore have to be kept in the cabinet above the refrigerator because that’s the only cabinet that is deep enough for the plates to fit in) were marked down to $1.99 apiece.  The salad plates (although that’s not what I use them for; I always use bowls for salad.  What about you?) were reduced to 99 cents.  The price of the platter was  $2.99.   I got four of each plate and one platter for $15 plus tax.  They were sold out of the bowls, which is too bad because I really would’ve liked to have them, as well.

I couldn’t find the dishes on the Pier 1 website, so I did a web search.  This photo came from ebay, but the colors are off.  The blue part of the plate looks grey in this shot.

So, I figured I might as well take a couple of pictures myself.

In other news, it appears that I have a sinus infection, and it’s making me pretty friggin’ miserable.  For the past couple of days, my nose has been running a marathon and I’ve been sneezing my damn fool head off.  At work yesterday, I lost count of how many times I heard, “Miss, your nose is red.”  Just call me Rudolph.  Or Bozoette II.

Song of the Day:  Jolly Red Nose

The holiday gathering at my house was very nice.  At least that’s what I heard.  I wouldn’t know because I was on my feet in the kitchen from 7:30 am until 9:30 pm.

Actually, I did sit down a few times, but the breaks only lasted for a few minutes.  I didn’t even have a chance to eat.  Just about the only socializing I did was when someone would come into the kitchen to either lend a hand (my sister, Michele, and my sister-in-law, Stephanie) or to get in my way (everybody else).

My mother came over in the morning to help stuff shells, thank goodness.  (By the way, Nancy, I followed the recipe on the Ronzoni jumbo shells box.)  If she hadn’t done that, I would have been greeting guests in my pajamas.

It really was a brutal day.  Little things were piling up and wearing me down.  For one thing, my ex MIL kept asking for coffee and ice cream, and this was before dinner, mind you.  Never mind the fact that I didn’t have any ice cream.  Anyway, I had a mini-meltdown at one point, and had to keep my face averted to hide the tears.

I’ve been feeling pretty awful since then, both physically and emotionally.   A lot of people have had a sad Christmas this year, and I know I should be grateful that all my family members were together, with everyone in festive spirits, but I can’t help feeling like I was left out. I feel like I missed Christmas.

And then there’s this god-awful pain.  By the end of the day, I was in agony.  Yesterday I was hurting so bad I could barely move, and today doesn’t look like it will be much better.  Every muscle in my body is aching.

Fortunately, my niece, Kristen,

took over the bulk of the photographer duties again this year.  I’m glad of that because there wouldn’t have been many pictures otherwise, since I was trapped in the kitchen for most of the day.

While Kristen was busy snapping photos, her sister, Rachel, curled up under a blanket with an Archie digest.

My ex MIL loved the afghan I knitted for her.

I wish this shot of my mother had come out better.  Her outfit was gorgeous.  Of course, she bought it at a thrift shop.

Penny was chillin’.

Ellie hung out with my grandmother and ex MIL.

Speaking of my grandmother, here she is in all her ninety-seven year old glory.

This is me in the kitchen, putting on the brave, false face.

And here I am on one of my rare excursions out of the kitchen.  This smile is more genuine because I’m finally relaxing.  (You will notice that I chopped off a lot of hair.  I was getting bored with my hairstyle and needed a change, but didn’t want to do anything too drastic… yet.)

By the way, in my last entry, I mentioned that we would be squeezing twenty-three people into my small house, but we actually ended up squeezing in twenty-six people.  My sister, Patti, called in the morning to ask if she could bring a friend who had no family and would be spending the holiday alone.  Of course I said yes, and even wrapped up a bag of Lindt chocolates I had bought for myself (I love those things) so she wouldn’t be left out during the opening of gifts.  Then I invited my cousin and her friend, Bob, to come over for dessert.  What the hell.  The more the merrier.

I do have to say that I received some really nice gifts.  I’ve always wanted a red pocketbook, and, thanks to Rebecca, I now have one.  She and her boyfriend also gave me a gift certificate to the restaurant that My Friend and I call “Our Place.”  Leigh gave me beautiful leather gloves with a cashmere lining.   The gorgeous boots and comfy slippers are from Daniel.  My ex MIL gave us money, bless her heart, so I guess that made up for the repeated requests for coffee and ice cream.

I have a dentist appointment for root planing and scaling this morning (oh joy, more pain), and a party to go to this evening, so I’d better get moving.

Song of the Day:  It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over by Lenny Kravitz

Make the Yuletide Gay

December 25, 2008

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone for the good mojo. Leigh’s ultrasound revealed a cluster of cysts, but they look benign. She’ll know more when she goes for her follow-up visit in two weeks.

Secondly, I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Including me, there will be twenty-three people crammed into my small house. I set up three tables, but there’s still only room for 20. My brother’s two young daughters will have to find someplace else to eat, and so will I, if I get a chance to eat, that is. Hostessing duties will keep me pretty busy throughout the long, hard day I have ahead of me.

Today’s menu for 23 people:

Appetizers:

Crabbies (The recipe can be found in this entry.)

Mexican Chili Cheese Dip:

Spread softened cream cheese (8 oz) on bottom of a pie plate or quiche dish. Add contents of 15 oz. can of chili. (I use Bush’s or Hormel.) Spread contents of small jar of salsa over the chili. Top with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly, approximately 20 minutes. Serve with Tostitos Scoops.

First course:
6 lbs stuffed shells
meatballs (I “only” made 50, so people will have to be considerate.)

Second course:

18 lb glazed spiral ham

Corn casserole (I have to double the recipe):

Melt one stick of butter. Beat 2 eggs. Drain 1 can whole kernel corn and put in bowl with one can of creamed corn. Add 8 oz. sour cream and 1 box Jiffy corn bread mix.   Mix all the ingredients together. Bake in a 2-quart, buttered casserole dish with a lid in a 350-degree oven for one hour. Remove lid for last five minutes so the top gets golden brown.

Crunchy Cole Slaw (Everybody loves this, so I have to triple the recipe.)

Dressing
1 cup oil
½ cup sugar
½ cup whie vinegar
2 packets beef flavor (comes with Ramen noodles; the block kind, not the noodles in a cup)

Slaw
1 lb. cole slaw
2 packages of Ramen noodles. Break them up and cook them according to package directions, although they should be slightly undercooked for this recipe.
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1 bunch green onions, sliced
2 carrots cut into strips

**Prepare dressing 2 hours early and do not add to slaw until ready to serve.

Dinner rolls

Dessert

I made fudge, and Mike’s girlfriend is making cookies. My mother and brother, Frank, are also bringing desserts. Michele and Patti are providing the wine. I think I’m going to need it to get through this holiday.

Click here for an interactive Christmas message.

Follow this link to see another special greeting from me to you.

Song of the Day: We Wish You a Merry Christmas

The Christmas edition of “Getting to know you.” (My Friend sent this to me via email.)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Both.  Bags are easier, but unwrapping presents is part of the fun, so I always make sure to wrap some gifts.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Real.  This year, we have a gorgeous Fraser Fir.

3. When do you put up the tree?
The first or second weekend in December.

4. When do you take the tree down? The first weekend of the New Year.

5. Do you like eggnog? It’s okay…

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A Mary Poppins doll.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
Daniel.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My brother, Mike.  (A gift certificate to Outback.) Even though my siblings and I have agreed not to exchange gifts this year (and that includes the kids), I wanted to get something for Mike because of all he’s been through.  He owes $60,000 in medical bills, and can’t afford to eat out anymore, so I thought this would be a nice thing to do for him and his girlfriend.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, but I haven’t put it out in years because there’s no place to set it up.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Snail mail.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I don’t think I ever received a gift for which I wasn’t grateful.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Nightmare Before Christmas

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? The day after Christmas (for the next year, obviously)

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I can’t remember ever doing that.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Crabbies!

16A. Lights on the tree?
Yes, multi-colored.

16B. Lights outside? No; we don’t have an outdoor outlet.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Oh holy night.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
I’ll be home for Christmas.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder (or Donner) Blitzen and Rudolph.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? A star made out of grapevine.

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Having to be super frugal.

23. Favorite Ornament theme or color? I’m not into themes.  Since red is my favorite color, I guess that’s what I’ll go with.

24. Favorite food for Christmas dinner?
We typically have a pasta dish (this Christmas, I’m making stuffed shells) and some kind of meat.  I usually make a turkey, but wanted to do something easier this year, so I’ll be making a spiral ham.  Personally, I hate ham, but most of my family members like it.  Maybe I’ll make a turkey on New Year’s Day, just for us.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
SHOW ME THE MONEY.

26. Who is most likely to respond to this?
Frosty the snowman.

26. Who is least likely to respond to this?
The Grinch.

Song of the Day:  Getting to Know You from The King and I