Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ho Hum

It's been a rough month. I've really been feeling worse than my usual lousy. My 'normal' lousy is incredible fatigue, sore muscles and joints, foggy brain, poor concentration, depression, no enthusiasm for much of anything.  In the past month or so, I've had all that but the fatigue has been worse and I've been really nauseous, dizzy and have had abdominal pain. And because I've been feeling worse physically, the depression has worsened some. The only upside was the nausea helped me lose 14 pounds - and that's always a nice surprise!

So, after some convincing from my family and friends I finally went to the doctor, got a load of tests done and nothing serious, just needed a medication change. I'm on the road to feeling better. In the meantime, I still have a few lingering symptoms, so I'm trying to find ways to entertain myself without using much energy, wearing out my sluggish brain cells, spending money by on-line shopping and staying out of the heat we've been having off and on. It's not easy! It's like trying to keep a toddler happy when she misses her mommy and needs a nap!

Here are some ways I found to break the monotony:

1.  I sat in the backyard at dusk and waited for the neighborhood rat to come. I counted how many times he ran the length of the fence in a half hour.  I tried to tell if it's the same rat as the night before. Due to my poor memory, I could never remember, so it was a like new game every night! I pretended it was my brain-teaser exercise of the day.

2.  I tried to teach the dog to speak. Any one of them. I did care who learned. It didn't work, but they enjoyed the extra treats. I realized I'm not a very good dog trainer. But I sure know how to 'treat' them right.

3.  I tried to identify a new 'beetle' type bug in my yard that seems to like my hot tub. I thought it might be a  Eastern fivespined ips, Ips grandicollis - but those are only 1/16" long and they tend to live in Florida. My specimen is 1/2" long, so the search continues.

4.  I spread catnip around and watched the cats have a field day. They had a great time rolling in it, drooling, battling over territorial rights, watching each other writhe in ecstasy while they waited for their next turn.  Now that was great fun for all of us.

Simple little things, but it broke the monotony of the endless boredom and took my mind off how crappy I feel.  I'm glad I still have enough brain power (most days) to pull myself out of whatever ditch I find myself in. I'm pretty good at maintaining a positive outlook and a decent sense of humor even one the worst days. I'm lucky in many ways. And one of these days I'll feel well enough to get back to painting that door blue. Again.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


The first 'unloading' resulted in some amazing changes to my living room and bathroom. I found things I thought had been lost forever and found things I forgot I even had. It was amazing how many things were donated (let's be honest, how many bottles of unopened sunscreen does one person need?) And things that got tossed - old check copies from as far back 1998 (probably don't need those and it cleared out a whole drawer in one fell swoop!), enough rubber bands for 5 years worth of daily Sacramento Bee deliveries, and piles and piles of bills that had been paid years ago.  I also broke down and tossed the birth control (ah, such fond memories) that expired in 1997. Sigh.

Although there were light moments, there were also some difficult ones - sorting through greeting cards from and photos of loved ones is always difficult, especially if they are from people that have died. I have this weird feeling that I'm dishonoring a dead person if I do that. I don't believe in Heaven..... but then again, what if I'm wrong and they're up there watching me toss that card they so lovingly signed right in the recycling bin? Or put them through a shredder?? So, some tears were shed, a memory box was started and piles were made. Piles were sorted and resorted. And eventually shrank. 

I had to buy a few items to keep my new world organized.  A new end-table that's actually big enough to hold a glass, a box of Kleenex and a cat who may decide to sashay on through. And a shelf underneath to hold stuff so it's not on the floor. A laptop tray that I can move away from me when I'm not using it, rather than putting the computer on the floor (a safety issue for me and the computer).

Today we tackled the kitchen. I didn't realize I had so much in there that would be happier at the Goodwill home! Someone who makes mostly smoothies and canned soup doesn't need 15 pot holders, 6 bent Marie Callendar pie tins, and 4 roasting pans.  I donated at least 5 gigantic vases (like the kind you get from a florist), and tons of mismatched salt & pepper shakers.

Then we came to the dreaded "Cupboard" that holds the washer and dryer, and whatever else I can throw in there that won't fall out before the door shuts. On the shelf were two boxes that had been sitting there since the day I'd move in in 1994. One labeled "JUNK DRAWER" and one "COOK BOOKS".  The junk drawer contents were just that - junk: old phone cords, adapters, cables, all that kind of stuff just perfect for the donation box. The cookbooks were not quite as easy - lots of memories there: several of Granny's little kitchen books that came with her pressure cooker (which I still have), etc. Adam's Home Ec. folder with homework, recipes, etc. (memory box bound!) and old Weight Watcher Recipes from back in the olden days when I stuck to the program and it worked for me. Those things I kept. The other cookbooks were donated. Let someone else fatten up on those 101 Best Desserts of All Time!   That cupboard is now amazing - everything has a place, you can see what's there, it's organized, accessible and it makes me smile :)

Believe it or not, I have a 3rd appointment with her. Hopefully the last. I haven't decided what the next space will be - bedroom maybe.  She wants to work on the garage. I think it may have to wait til cooler weather, though. She's "disturbed" by the "randomness" of my garage (which I thought was one of my more organized spaces, but clearly, I'm not a good judge of this concept. Maybe I will be by the time we're done....

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What NOT To Do When You're Tired

So, it's been a rough few weeks for me, energy-wise. As in "I've used more energy than what I had stored and now I'm running on fumes that are rapidly drifting away".  I had things to do. Sometimes, especially when you live alone, you just have to do things.

Since I've had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome it's rare to feel like I have 'enough' energy. For anything. A shower. A trip to the grocery store. A visit with friends. Most of what I do is done in short spurts - 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, with lots resting in between. Sometimes a shower requires a rest afterwards. A trip to the store requires a very long rest afterwards and I sometimes don't feel back to my new 'normal' until the next day or the day after. Sometimes things just don't get done.

Other days, I'll (think) I have the energy to start a job and finish it - like painting my kitchen door on both sides. So a few weeks ago I bought the paint - blue for the outside, white for the inside. Made sure the door was clean. Applied the paint to the inside first. Whoops!  Applied the wrong paint (I used the flat exterior trim I'd bought for something else). Ok.  I'll pretend it's primer.  Repainted with the satin. Uh-oh. It's looked flat, too.  Called my brother, got instructions. Sanded with 120 grit paper. Wiped with a tack cloth. Repainted. Finish was still flat. Added another coat the next day. Got tired. Door is still there, finish is still flat and I'm getting used to it. I finally took the painters tape off after about a week.

I got up the energy (I thought) a couple of days later to paint the exterior. I was told the door had primer on when I bought it, so I applied the beautiful blue latex satin paint directly to the metal door. It was  pretty streaky. So, I applied a second, then a third coat and it looked beautiful!!  Until 4 hours later when I removed the painter's tape and all the stretchy latex paint pulled off with it in big huge rubbery sheets.  Except for the parts that had to be scraped off with an old credit card.  I'm getting used to the door being white. And now I have a blue gate.

Speaking of which, there are days, like today, when I decide that no matter how awful I feel I'm going to tackle that simple little project I've been putting off for weeks.  All I wanted to do was put a colorful pull handle on my pretty blue gate. The gate itself is a long story - made by a handyman who was clearly not handy - but at least it's now a pretty color and deserving of a pretty pull. After all, it's simple! It's easy! How long could it take? How hard could it be?  It probably would have been a 5 minute job if I'd had the right size drill bit, a long enough cord for the drill, a drill that didn't stop every 1/4", and if I hadn't had to sit down and rest every time the drill stalled.

Lessons learned today:  Don't use a drill when tired. Don't assume you can drill to hole level without measuring. Don't forget to look at the back-side of where you will be drilling. Buy a new drill.

The good news:  It may be crooked, but it works and it's festive!

Friday, June 22, 2012


I've been ignoring my house for too long. It's a mess. OK, let's be honest. The house itself is in fine shape, it's the clutter and lack of good housekeeping that's the problem.

Between my tendency to over-shop, my hatred of housekeeping, my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and lack of ability to make quick decisions anymore, all the 'stuff' has stuffed my house to its limits (actually, I could fit a lot more in here, but MY limits have been reached).   I'm tired of not being able to find things. Who knows how many rolls of tape, pens, tubes of Neosporin, and scissors I've bought over the years, only to suddenly find 5 rolls of tape after the package is wrapped?  I don't need to try every brand of shampoo sold on QVC, or own any more jewelery, pans, or clothes that might fit me when I lose some weight.

I'm tired of nearly breaking my neck walking through the house - it's bad enough the 3 dogs and 3 cats own the floor, but throw a couple of bags of recyclables into the mix and it's a true obstacle course. And who can clean when there all this 'stuff' in the way? I want to love my home again and feel comfortable instead of frustrated at every turn.

So, I decided to bite the bullet and I hired an organizer to come in and help me decide what to do with the good, the bad and the ugly. She'll be here Saturday.  I told her I need someone who is compassionate but firm, who will understand if my energy fails and I have to 'work' laying down. She will. She'll help me really figure out what to keep and where it will go. I don't want to keep something because its cute, but unusable; not because it might fit 'someday'; not because I don't want to hurt some one's feelings (like dead people? Come on, Mary!!) - but because I need it, love it, will use it, etc.)  Kind of like a normal person would do.

I'm having some real mixed feelings about it - it kind of reminds me of when I quit smoking back on 10/30/2000. Will I like this 'new life'? Will it last? Will I be sorry I did it? Will I miss all my stuff? I'm prepared for the worst, hoping for the best.

The first thing I'm going to do when she and I are done (and it may take more than one or two sessions) is hire someone to come in and clean it top to bottom - even things like the tops of the door jambs, baseboards, all that stuff that doesn't get done when you hate housework or are too sick to take care of more than just the basics. 

Finally, I am going to sit back and enjoy the beauty of my home. I've got some great art work here, some beautiful furniture, all sorts of nice things that are hard to appreciate now. It'll be good.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I have a love/hate relationship with Summer. I really, really, dislike the heat - it makes me feel sick, and sweaty, and cranky and I don't like being any of those things. But I love how my garden looks. I love sitting in the yard in the early evenings, watching the hummingbirds come to feed, smelling the remains of the hot day being cooled off by the water as I soak the drooping plants. The pond fountain makes music, accompanied by the frogs, that soothes my soul. I love the sound of the neighbor kids playing in their pool, and love the smell of BBQ their dad makes most nights. I love watching my dogs enjoy the mud and the fresh air. The cats enjoy it, too, if they sneak out. They love rolling on the warm patio.

Some of my best memories of Summer include playing in the water at the One Mile Dam in Chico while visiting my grandparents, eating the apricots that had fallen from Granny's trees and into the cool grass. We lived close to the San Francisco, so it would often cool off nicely in the evenings. I love that my dad would line soda bottles up along the base of the screen door so the we could keep it open at night without the fear of burglars coming in (theory was that they would be scared away by the crashing bottles if they tried to open the screen door). Back then that was all it took for us to feel safe and well-cared for. Simple times.

I think Summer, in general, is simpler - slower paced, less hustle and bustle. Maybe it's just too hot to move fast, but it's better.  I like slow.