Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Book List

I've always been a big reader, and in 2007 I made a resolution to record all the books I read for the year. It was so much fun being able to go back and look at my list that I decided to keep going. This year I read 90 books. (This doesn't include books I started but didn't finish or books that I'd read before and re-read in 2009. All 90 books were new-to-me titles.)

I don't know if I mentioned this before or not, but in early August I got a Kindle. Yay! I love my Kindle! It feels like I've done a lot more reading since the Kindle entered my life, but according to my notebook, I've only read 27 books on the Kindle since early August, and only 5 physical books. I averaged 7.5 books a month for the whole year, but only 6.4 books a month for those 5 months. Some of that may be that I've read lots of samples that didn't impress me enough to buy the whole book. There were also several books that I started on the Kindle and never finished. Some how, it's easier to quit a book and move on with the Kindle. As long as it's a free book (and there's a surprisingly large number of free, legal books available), I don't mind. But it does effect my reading stats.

So, enough chatter. On to the list!

1. Mr. Cavendish, I Presume- Julia Quinn
2. Betrayed- P.C. Cast & Kristen Cast
3. Tainted Trail- Wen Spencer
4. Halfway to Half Way- Suzann Ledbetter
5. Bitter Waters- Wen Spencer
6. King of Sword and Sky- C.L. Wilson
7. Magic Study- Maria V. Snyder
8. Forever Princess- Meg Cabot
9. Plum Spooky- Janet Evanovich
10. Wolfsbane and Mistletoe- Charlaine Harris, et al
11. A Dead Guy in a Pear Tree- Leslie Kelly
12. Running Hot- Jayne Ann Krentz
13. The Grand Sophy- Georgette Heyer
14. Wanderlust- Ann Aguirre
15. Cotillion- Georgette Heyer
16. The Talisman Ring- Georgette Heyer
17. Cousin Kate- Georgette Heyer
18. Dark of Night- Suzann Brockmann
19. Bone Crossed- Patricia Briggs
20. What I Did For Love- Susan Elizabeth Phillips
21. The Sharing Knife: Horizon- Lois McMaster Bujold
22. Dogs and Goddesses- Jennifer Crusie, Ann Stewart, Lani Diane Rich
23. Wicked Pleasure- Lora Leigh
24. Audrey, Wait!- Robin Benway
25. In the Bleak Midwinter- Julia Spencer-Fleming
26. Tips on Having a Gay (ex)Boyfriend- Carrie Jones
27. The Unknown Ajax- Georgette Heyer
28. Dog Warrior- Wen Spencer
29. Graceling- Kristen Cashore
30. Chosen- P.C. Cast & Kristen Cast
31. A Fountain Filled With Blood- Julia Spencer-Fleming
32. Swallowing Darkness- Laurell K. Hamilton
33. Endless Blue- Wen Spencer
34. Need- Carrie Jones
35. Turn Coat- Jim Butcher
36. Out of the Deep I Cry- Julia Spencer-Fleming
37. Doctor Who: The Stone Rose- Jacqueline Rayner
38. Impossible- Nancy Werlin
39. Silent in the Grave- Deanna Raybourn
40. To Darkness and To Death- Julia Spencer-Fleming
41. All Mortal Flesh- Julia Spencer-Fleming
42. Silent in the Sanctuary- Deanna Raybourn
43. Silent on the Moor- Deanna Raybourn
44. Black Sheep- Georgette Heyer
45. Frederika- Georgette Heyer
46. The Awakening- Kelley Armstrong
47. And Only to Deceive- Tasha Alexander
48. Magician's Ward- Patricia C. Wrede
49. A Little Bit Wicked- Kristin Chenoweth
50. Untamed- P.C. Cast & Kristen Cast
51. Shakespeare- Bill Bryson
52. Dead and Gone- Charlaine Harris
53. I Shall Not Want- Julia Spencer-Fleming
54. Faro's Daughter- Georgette Heyer
55. The Perfect Poison- Amanda Quick
56. Finger Lickin' Fifteen- Janet Evanovich
57. What Happens in London- Julia Quinn
58. The Patriot Witch- C.C. Finley
59. Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch- B.J. Daniels
60. Hide in Plain Sight- Marta Perry
61. Casting Spells- Barbara Bretton
62. Doc Sidhe- Aaron Allston
63. Baby Bonanza- Maureen Child
64. Hunting Ground- Patricia Briggs
65. Don't Tempt Me- Loretta Chase
66. His Lady Mistress- Elizabeth Rolls
67. Magic Bites- Ilona Andrews
68. Having Tanner Bravo's Baby- Christine Rimmer
69. Obsidian Prey- Jayne Castle
70. The Wild's Call- Jeri Smith-Ready
71. Asking For Trouble- Kristina Lloyd
72. Magic Burns- Ilona Andrews
73. Magic Strikes- Ilona Andrews
74. Ms. Match- Jo Leigh
75. Red-Headed Stepchild- Jayne Wells
76. On the Edge- Ilona Andrews
77. Bad Moon Rising- Sherrilyn Kenyon
78. Soulless- Gail Carriger
79. Grave Secret- Charlaine Harris
80. Speed Dating- Nancy Warren
81. Bound For the Holidays- Mackenzie McCade
82. By Reason of Insanity- Randy Singer
83. Fire and Ice- Laura Hamilton
84. Tiger Eye- Marjorie M. Liu
85. If He's Wicked- Hannah Howell
86. Bedlam Boyz- Ellen Guon
87. Lord of Scoundrels- Loretta Chase
88. Northanger Abbey- Jane Austen
89. Peep Show- Mathilde Madden
90. Murder Takes the Cake- Gayle Trent

Happy New Year's, all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quibble with Bones

"Why do people hate to spend Christmas alone?"
"Because it means nobody loves them."

I finally got around to watching last week's Bones tonight, and I have to disagree with the above exchange. I can see why someone might feel unloved if no one wants to spend Christmas with them. But I spent Christmas by myself last year by choice, and I have to say, it was heaven. Bliss. The most relaxing holiday I'd had in years, maybe ever. I'm looking forward to seeing the 'rents next week, but as I look around my disaster of an apartment (had to empty my entire storage closet to get to the Christmas tree and decorations) and the infinite list of things to be done between now and Wednesday when they arrive, that quiet, peaceful Christmas last year is looking better and better.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Stockings

There's been some discussion on Rav about stockings lately. What do you put in them? When do you stop giving them? And that's got me thinking about the subject.

First of all, I never realized that for some folks, stockings are for kids. Why shouldn't an adult get a stocking? Where else are you going to put the little things, so that they don't get lost? In my family the stocking is also used for the small necessities. A new toothbrush. Toothpaste. Once we got old enough to need it, deodorant. Razors. It's a family tradition to find stuff like that in the stocking, and I'm pretty sure my brother and I would both be sorely disappointed to not find a toothbrush in our stocking Christmas morning, even though we're adults and perfectly capable of buying one for ourselves.

This is the second year in a row that I've had Christmas at my apartment in Houston rather than traveling to Massachusetts to my parents' house. Last year I unselfconsciously bought those little things that I needed- thermometer covers for one- wrapped them, and stuck them in my own stocking to be opened again on Christmas morning. Goofy? Well, yes, a little. But it made me happy. This year I'm shopping not only for my own stocking but also my parents' stockings since they are coming down here for Christmas. This year I'm a little more aware of the oddness of doing this. Will it upset my mother to see me unwrap the thermometer covers I bought myself and put in my own stocking? Possibly. Not because her daughter is buying gifts for herself, wrapping them, and then giving them to herself (after all, Mom did this for herself for years, wrapping her own toothbrushes and whatnot), but because they will be a reminder that I'm not healthy, and I need those things. But this is my reality. Might as well face it and wring whatever joy I can out of it. And for me, one of those new joys is unwrapping thermometer covers from my stocking Christmas morning.

And it's been unexpected fun to shop for Mom and Dad's stockings this year. I thought I was done with Christmas shopping the day before Thanksgiving, but I had totally forgotten the stocking stuffers. After a quick trip to the dollar store and Target there are toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste for all. I'm running low on band aids, so I'll be getting a box of those in my stocking, too. I was hoping for a roll of Lifesavers for each stocking, but Target didn't carry them. (Well, that's not strictly true. They had those Lifesaver storybook things for $2.99 a pop, but I'm not paying three bucks each for a roll of Lifesavers and a bunch of extra packaging I don't need.) The only place I've routinely seen Lifesavers in the last 10 years is the airport, and I'm not fighting the airport insanity just for a stocking stuffer. I'll keep looking. Maybe at Walgreens or somewhere like that? I have to admit, I don't look too closely at the candy aisle these days.

There are other things that often go in my parents' stockings. For Mom, it's hand cream and pantyhose. But I feel a little awkward getting her those things. It's kind of a joke between her and Dad, one I suspect I don't know the true story to, so I think I'll leave that to them.

I've also made some hand knit ornaments for them that I plan to wrap and put in their stockings. I know they'll get a kick out of those. But that seems awfully thin. Toothbrush, toothpaste, ornament. Lifesavers (if I can find them), orange in the toe, candy cane hooked over the top. Can anyone think of any other fun, useful, inexpensive items to drop in their stockings?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Changes Again

I was burning up the phone lines this morning, calling my doctors and requesting copies of my medical records. It's finally time to do it- apply for Social Security Disability. I know I "only" made a few phone calls, but I'm wiped out. Tired and headachey. It takes a lot of mental energy, no longer my strong suit, to get organized and file for SSDI. I'm also starting to organize and prepare to move to Yankee Land to live with the 'rents. I'm going to have to start paying Cobra soon, and there's just not enough money in my disability check to pay that and rent and all the regular bills. So back to the parents' house I go. My one comfort, if you can call it that, is that with the economy right now there are lots of people moving in with family or consolidating households with friends. It would be more fun to do it like Jenny Cruise and Lani Diane Rich (Panda Gangbang!) (nevermind, if you haven't read Jenny's latest blog that won't make any sense to you, but it's not as dirty as it sounds), but we've got to work with what we've got. Jenny and Lani have each other, I have my mom and dad.

One of the scariest things about moving across the country- other than losing my independence and needing to find all new doctors again- is that I don't know anyone there but a few of my parents' friends. As we've seen with my water class, I don't mind hanging out with seniors. They can be funny as hell. But it would be nice to know some people closer to my own age and who share some of my interests. I have a friend on Rav who lives in the general area, which is fantastic. I'm hoping I can find a knitting group to hang out with occasionally. I'd really like to find a writing group, too, but so far my best source of writing friends has been NaNo, and it doesn't look like the area is a hot bed of NaNo activity. Maybe if I'm up there early enough I can get something organized. Sometimes, in my experience, it only takes someone to say "this is where I'm going to be, come join me!" to get something going. The closest RWA chapter meets about an hour away, but once a month that's doable. Maybe I'll meet someone who lives near my parents and we can carpool.

So, that's my life at the moment. Frustration and fear and hope in equal measures.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Big Plans


This is what I'm doing today: camping out on the air mattress in front of the TV, with plenty of books in easy reach. Sounds decadent for a Wednesday, doesn't it? I'd give anything to feel well enough to do something else.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Bits and Bobs

I have a whole lot of little things to mention, but not a lot to say about each item. It's a bit of a potpourri.

Went to my water class today. The usual Friday instructor was out, and we had a sub. The sub was nice enough, but fairly detached from reality. A lot of her moves aren't practical for people with arthritis. Our bodies just don't move that way anymore. Not to mention that you'd need a snorkel since some of the yoga positions she wanted us to take would put our heads under the water.

Spent a good chunk of the afternoon curled up in bed with What Happens in London by Julia Quinn. Enjoying it greatly.

Making nice progress on my two scarves and clapotis. I'm working up the clapotis from Knitpicks Imagination in Mermaid Lagoon. There's a little bit of an olivey green in the colorway, which I wasn't keen on at first. At the beginning the whole thing was a little stripey, but once I got further in I started getting a really nice pooling effect. And once I started on the second hank there was a nice little pop of electric blue that was missing in the first hank, even though they're supposed to be from the same dye lot. The overall effect is very watery and pretty.

I was out of vitamins, so I went to Target this afternoon, straight from the pool and soaking wet. At least I was clean! They had Lean Cuisine French bread pizzas on clearance for $1.17 a pop, so I cleared them out. Gotta love a bargain! The freezer is now crammed full (not just with LC pizzas- there's a lot of other stuff in there, too), and I should be set for a while. I also picked up a couple of books and the most recent Tori Amos cd.

For once I'm having no difficulty getting Trouble to take his medicine. He's been chewing all his fur off again, so the vet put him on an oral steroid. It's a liquid, and they put tuna flavoring in it. He LOVES it. Yesterday morning I was sitting on the couch after breakfast when he started screaming at me for his morning dose. I turned around to look, because it sounded like he was in the kitchen. He was standing on the breakfast bar, near where I put the syringe! We had words after that. Trouble is most definitely NOT allowed on the counters, and he knows it. I made him wait until he settled down before giving him his medicine. I don't want to encourage that kind of behavior. He's not acted up (at least nothing beyond the usual) since.

The new earpiece for my cell phone arrived in the mail today! I know that doesn't sound particularly exciting, but the wire is broken on the old one and it desperately needed to be replaced. I use that thing all the time. My elbows give me fits, and one of the most painful motions is to bend my arm and put my hand near my face. As in, you know, holding a telephone to your ear. (Strangely enough, eating doesn't bother my elbow at all. snort.)

I spent about an hour this evening reprogramming my Comcast DVR. Somehow, all my regular recording options got deleted. Maybe when the power blinked this afternoon. I really miss my Tivo. It was so much easier to program and maintain than what I have now, even if you don't consider all the malfunctions and problems I've had since switching over. I really wish the stupid digital conversion hadn't made my old Tivo basically obsolete. Stupid Congress.

Well, I guess that's all I have to say right now. Not terribly interesting, but if you've made it this far you probably didn't have anything better to do anyway! ;p

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Can't...stop...SNEEZING!

I had an appointment with my Rheumy yesterday, and in the constant quest to get my fatigue under control we've decided to switch out my antihistamine. I've taken Claritin daily for ages, and I don't believe it was making me tired. But it wasn't doing much to keep my allergy symptoms under control, either. So as of yesterday I'm on Allegra. I guess (hope) it takes a little while to reach full effect, because I've been sneezing like mad for the last twenty-four hours. Ugh!

I also went in to the office to talk to my boss after my doctor's appointment. It was scary, because I had to admit something to him that I've known for myself for a while now- I'm not physically capable of working a 40 hour week right now, and it doesn't look like that's going to change anytime soon. Fortunately, it looks like one of my greatest fears isn't going to come true. I was afraid that if I admitted I couldn't come back that I'd be terminated, and I'd lose my disability insurance. I'm still not 100% sure what my status with the company is, but the LTD is safe. The policy stays in place as long as the disability is "medically supported". Since my Rheumatologist flat out told me that I'm in no condition to attempt full time work, I should be OK for the moment. And in the meantime we'll continue to tinker with my meds in the hope of getting me up and running again.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Harper's Island

I just finished watching the Harper's Island finale. I'd rewatched and gossiped and theorized enough that I wouldn't have been surprised no matter which of the suspects was the second killer. But I didn't see that last hour coming. It was weird and a bit of a let down. I'm going to have to think about the killers' motivations for a while. Mostly my reaction is "yeah, but...." It's disappointing because up to this point I really enjoyed the show. But the weak motivations make the whole thing feel pointless. In the real world murder may be stupid and pointless, but as part of a narrative all that death needs to have some sort of meaning.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I did it!

I've been going to a water arthritis class at the gym for almost two months now. The class is offered three times a week, and from the beginning my goal has been to make it to all three classes. This week I finally succeeded! The teacher today was a substitute, and I felt a little bad for her. We're a loosey-goosey group. It's more like herding cats than leading a typical exercise class. Our jaws get at least as much exercise as the rest of our bodies. But she still pushed us hard. I woke up sore this morning, and I was glad to get home after class and take a pill. And a nap. It was a lovely nap. :)

I'm worried about my friend Betty, though. Betty is a lady I met in the class and, like most everyone else who attends, she's at least in her seventies. Betty's a real character and was the first person to introduce herself when I started the class. She's known as the class troublemaker, because she's there for the gossip. Any exercise is strictly incidental! She didn't seem like her usual chipper self last Friday, and she hasn't been to class since. I found out the other day that she has some pretty serious back problems, and her doctor has told her no swimming. I suspect he doesn't really understand what we do in the class. It pretty low-intensity, and I can't imagine it would be harmful. If nothing else, the movement should help to keep her limber and moving. But I'm not a doctor. I just miss her in class and hope that she feels better soon. If you've got an extra minute, spare a good thought for my friend Betty. I'm sure she could use a few.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Funniest Thing EVER

I saw the funniest thing last week. I realize I'm showing my age here, but I am so sick of seeing droopy drawers everywhere I go. I feel like Denis Leary. PULL UP YOUR PANTS! So anyway, I'm driving down the street and come along a car that's apparently broken down. There are two guys behind it, pushing. As I'm coasting behind them, waiting for a chance to pass, one of the guys' pants start to fall down! So now he's waddling along behind the car, one hand on the bumper trying to push, and the other hand trying to hold up his pants! I just about lost it right there. What a perfect illustration of why this "fashion" trend is completely ridiculous.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Being Brave

One of the things you hear a lot about people with chronic diseases is how strong it makes them. That used to drive me nuts. "I'm only strong because I don't have a choice!" I'd think. "I want to be a wimp like everyone else!" But at two years in, I've discovered that there's a different side to all this.

It's not that I'm so strong. It's just that I've faced a lot of things that scare me, and I survived. That makes it easier to face your other fears. I've spent at least 10 hours in the dentist's chair this year. It's something I've needed to do for years, but I just kept avoiding it. On Friday I had a wisdom tooth removed. And you know what? None of it was a big deal. The extraction didn't even hurt. I wish I'd done it years ago.

Strangely, things that never used to bother me are the things that bring me the most anxiety these days. Before I got sick, I never had a problem leaving the house. I was always out somewhere- at the movies, meeting a friend for a meal, at the bookstore or just grocery shopping. Now leaving the house is an event. I plan carefully where I'm going, and half the time I put it off at the last minute.

So I guess I just appear strong because I no longer fear the things that healthy people do. Needles? No big. Medical tests? Bring it. The dentist? Been there, done that. But I still struggle. I still have fears. It's just that the things I fear are things that most healthy people take for granted. I think the lesson for me- for everyone- is to push through those fears and do it anyway. So far, nothing has been as bad as I thought it would be. Lately I've even started appearing in a bathing suit in public. After that, what else is there to be afraid of?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Easy Peasy

I'm happy to announce that I came through the wisdom tooth extraction with flying colors. I didn't even bother to take pain pills this morning- not even Tylenol- because it doesn't hurt! My cheek is ever so slightly puffy, and I have the tiniest shadow of a bruise, but that's it. I was told that the uppers are a lot easier to deal with than the lowers. It makes me feel pretty good about the next one that needs to come out (it's a lower), because even if it's more difficult than this one it could still be pretty easy.

The worst part of all of this has actually been dealing with the side effects of the pain medication they gave me. I haven't taken any in over 12 hours (it's supposed to last for 4 hours), and I still feel groggy and slightly nauseous. I was warned not to drive for at least 24 hours after taking my last dose, which is no problem because I laid in provisions and wasn't planning to go anywhere anyway. But that should have told me how rough this stuff would be. That and the fact that it was specially formulated with anti-nausea ingredients.

Well, writing and proofing this has taxed my brain about as much as I can stand right now, so I think I'll go back to bed and read some Amanda Quick!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Getting Ready

Tomorrow I'm having my cracked wisdom tooth removed. Yay! I'm not exactly looking forward to the expected pain, but I'll be glad when I can finally have something other than soft foods and can chew with both sides of my mouth.

I did a few things to get ready for the surgery and recovery. First, I cleaned out the fridge (boy did it need it) and caught up (sort of) with the dishes. I figure for at least the rest of the day tomorrow and Saturday I'm going to want to be able to fix myself something to eat with the least amount of hassle possible. In a little bit I'm going to make a bowl of jello. That should go down nicely. Tomorrow, since I'll be home all morning before the surgery, I plan to make a big batch of mashed potatoes and maybe some mac-n-cheese. That and instant oatmeal should get me through the first couple of days, no problem.

I also want to wash the linens tomorrow, so that I have nice clean sheets and towels to crawl into when I get home. And while I'm at it, I'm going to change the litter pan (aka My Favorite Chore Ever).

I picked up a couple of good books at the library this afternoon, including a Georgette Heyer and the latest Amanda Quick. I think the Quick will be my Saturday read. Her books are predictably enjoyable and enjoyably predictable. There are never any big surprises in the quality of the writing or in the plot lines. A good, not too challenging, comfort read should be just about my speed while hanging around the house on prescription pain meds. Whee!

I also picked up my prescriptions while I was out today. One of the four wasn't available. My doctor hadn't called in the refill even though I requested in Wednesday morning. I'm going to have to call and kick a little butt. I'm going to need this stuff by the end of the weekend. If I can't pick it up by noon I'm not going to have it. (The surgery is at 2.)

I was kind of surprised when they described everything they do to knock you out for a wisdom tooth extraction. First they give you laughing gas. Then once they've found a vein for the IV they use a numbing spray so you don't feel it, and then they hook you up to the IV and give you what's called Twilight Sleep. I've had it before. You aren't fully out, but you usually aren't terrible aware of what's going on around you, and many people don't remember much afterward. They offered me Valium to take ahead of time if I was nervous. I sat there listening to all of this and thinking "wimps!" I get IVs all the time. Never once has it been necessary to pre-drug me and then numb the area before insertion. Geeze Louise. I guess for an otherwise healthy person who has never had an IV before all that would be helpful. Especially if they were afraid of needles. I'm a little afraid of needles, but I've had to put on my big girl panties and deal with it in the last couple of years. You do what you've got to do and you move on with your day. No point in having a hissy about it. I'm already a little giggly coming out of Twilight Sleep, and prone to want to wander around looking at yarn. I wonder what kind of difference the laughing gas will make? I've never had it before.

So, soft foods, good books, all my meds (sort of), a couple of movies on the DVR, a handful of new dishcloth patterns and plenty of P&C, the worst of the chores taken care of, a ride to and from the surgery- it sounds like I'm ready to go!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Writing Rut

I'm in a rut. I've been working on the same book for two and a half years now. And yes, for two of those years I've had major health problems. But I'm really, really ready to move on, at least emotionally, even if the physical is struggling to catch up.

I feel like I'm in a rut with this story. The one note I get consistently from my critique group is "all dialog, no action." And they're right. That's how I write to begin with. As I edit this the pages I find myself cutting, cutting, cutting. The dialog rambles. It runs on for pages. It reveals stuff the audience doesn't need to know, either yet or ever. In the midst of all those cuts- sometimes half a page or more goes right out the window- I lose the idea of adding action and description. And that's just my major problem with the early chapters.

If feels like it's all info dump. But there's a lot of info that the various characters need. Daisy (and the audience) are totally new to this world. She needs to be told how everything works. Then we discover that Daisy has had some exposure to this world, and The Boss needs to know about it. Everything so far takes place in a beauty salon, except for a fight with her roommate, which exists illustrate how Daisy is an outsider with her own "people", so that we'll see clearly why she becomes so attached to her new situation and why she wouldn't just run for the hills at the first opportunity.

I've written up through the first major turning point. Daisy has done something that commits her to one side of the coming fight. My problem is, I don't know where to go from here. I picked up with this year's NaNo with a sub-plot. Someone comes to Daisy looking for help with an off the books job. I know more or less how that is going to resolve. I also know that it can't all happen in one blurp in the middle of the book. It's got to weave in with the other story lines. But for now, it's a blurp. I'll figure out how it weaves later. Being a sub-plot (although I think it's going to be a rather important one) the arc is much smaller. Less for the characters to do. That I'm not too worried about.

It's the continuation of the main plot that has me worried. There is an attack, and the group responds by.... I don't know. Counter attack would be an obvious plan. but counter attack who? There's no counter organization that they know of, all though there've been some fishy things happening lately. They don't have an id on the attackers. I guess they could work on that. But how? How do I want to have them figure it out? I don't want it to be cliche; I do want it to fit in with the world that I've built so far. There have to be multiple red herrings. More attacks on different fronts. The humans have formed their own little group- they could be a distraction.

Maybe I need to do some more work on my Big Bad. I know what she wants, I know some of what she's done or is doing to achieve it. Maybe I need to write a little bit more about her, figure out what she might see as a weakness to exploit or a danger to be eliminated. Maybe if I do that I will get a clearer picture of what comes next.

So far I've looked at this whole thing from Daisy's perspective. I've worked to put every obstacle I could in her path. Now, instead of thinking "what would be the worst thing that could happen to her now" I need to think "what's the best thing the opposition could do to reach their own goals right now."

Hmmm. Maybe that change in perspective will bounce me out of that rut.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Digging Out

I am not the worlds best housekeeper. My apartment is perpetually cluttered. There are books and papers and bills and knitting and yarn and piles of clean clothes and.... Basically everything you can imagine is scattered all over my living room. You can't even see the kitchen counters for the stacks of dirty dishes, and it's going to take some serious scrubbing to get all the burnt on gunk off the stove.

Usually I can step over, around, or through a mess and not even notice it's there. But this is beyond ignoring. So I'm taking advantage of this long weekend to try and shovel this place out. (I'm still not working, so a long weekend is really more psychological than anything. Except if I plan to do stuff at home I can avoid all the Memorial Day sales, and all those crowds. Plus, it's supposed to rain here all weekend, and I'm perfectly happy to avoid that, too.)

I'll be making a list shortly, but I'll spare you good people. I make my lists very detailed, so I feel like I'm really accomplishing something. (Very important when you generally speaking do nothing all day.) I've done a little bit already- washed a load of towels, cleaned the litter pan and took out the trash, and the dishwasher just finished. There will be many more loads of dishes and laundry, as well as much picking up and general organizing. I hope, by the end of the day on Monday, to be able to walk freely across the living room, not around stuff. I want all the laundry to be washed, folded, and put away. I want to be able to walk into the kitchen and cook anything I have the ingredients for, without checking to make sure the pan I need is clean. I want to be able to put my meal on the table without pushing things out of the way. And I want to be able to sit out the couch without moving stuff. (Except the cat. He sleeps where he will, and I can't be responsible for where he might choose to park it.) If I'm really, really on my game I might dust and even get out Troub's nemesis and vacuum the place.

The reality is the place will probably be just about as much a pit on Monday night as it is right now. But at least I have a goal. Even small changes will make my life easier and will make me happy. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shards of Miles

Recently I picked up Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold as an audiobook from Audible. Shards is the first book in the Vorkosigan series and covers the meeting of Miles's parents, Aral and Cordelia.

One thing that constantly amazes me when I go back and read (or listen to- I have all the Vorkosigan series available through Audible) earlier books in the series is how it's all there. The seed of Miles's personality is clearly there in both Aral and Cordelia. Aral runs right over his superiors and Cordelia considers herself socially awkward. He's constantly plotting and she's constantly charging into tight spots. It even cracks me up when Cordelia signs off on radio transmissions "Naismith out," just like her son will in 20 years or so. I never recognized these things the first time around. I wasn't familiar enough with the series. After listening to the other books umpteen times I'm even recognizing the names of soldiers who eventually become trusted armsmen in later books. No one appears from no where in this series. Even though the backdrop for these stories is all of space, the military and political society of Barrayar is a very small community. At this point in the series we know these people. If we've never met this particular character before then we know their father or uncle or something. It's as familiar as if we'd grown up there ourselves.

When I'm reading later books in the series I often find myself agreeing with Cordelia and some of the other more enlightened women of Miles's acquaintance who feel it's ridiculous to go through the dangers of a body birth when there are uterine replicators available. Duh. Who wouldn't? Except, whoops! We don't have those yet, do we? Sometimes I forget these books are only fiction.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting Lucky

The last couple of months have been extremely good reading time for me. Not only have some of my favorite authors come out with new books, but I've also discovered a couple of new favorite authors. I usually discover a new author that I really love about once, maaaaybe twice, a year. To have discovered two authors that I really love within the last 6 weeks or so is practically a miracle. Both authors write mystery series, and I've been scarfing them down as fast as humanly possible.

Some of the books I've particularly enjoyed recently are:

Bone Crossed- Patricia Briggs- This one wasn't as good as previous Mercy books, but still highly enjoyable.

What I Did For Love- Susan Elizabeth Phillips- I didn't particularly care for her last book, but this one was really good. SEP's characters are always flawed, sometimes seriously so, but by the end of the book you feel like they've grown as people and accepted each other, warts and all.

The Sharing Knife: Horizon- Lois McMaster Bujold- The only thing I didn't like about this book is that it neatly wrapped up a lot of loose ends for Fawn and Dag. This series was LMB's experiment in crossing the fantasy and romance genres. Now that the two main characters have found their happy ending, the series seems to be at an end. I hope she decides that she has more stories to tell in the world, because I really enjoy it. Of course, she could set a story in the local A&P, with a plot line consisting of what she needs to pick up for dinner tonight, and I'd still enjoy it.

Audrey, Wait!- Robin Benway- This one was just fun. If you want to analyse it, there was a lot of subtext- the American fascination with fame, our willingness to be famous for being famous, how fame messes with your head and your relationships. But mostly it was just a lot of fun. It's YA, so those of us 30-somethings who like teeny bopper TV and movies will totally enjoy it.

Graceling- Kristin Cashore- A fantasy with excellent world and character building. YA, more because of the ages of the protagonists rather than any simplicity in storyline. Some children are born with particular talents, or Graces. Those Graces can be just about anything. Those who have a Grace that is useful to the King become his to use in whatever way benefits him. Those with useless Graces are sent home to their families, where they become a burden because the general population fears them. A follow up book, which is actually a prequel, is scheduled for this fall, giving us more info about Graceling's baddie and where he may have come from. I've already got it on my wishlist for birthday/Christmas.

Endless Blue- Wen Spencer- Another really interesting world. It's a wild place, filled with shipwreck victims of different cultures and species, escaped bioengineered creatures, and land masses that float through the air. When Mikhail chooses to crash land in this place on purpose he has no idea what he'll find, if there's anything there to find, or if he'll ever be able to get out. The world building and set up was very good, but it felt like the author lost steam in the last quarter to third of the book. There were logical errors, and the whole thing just seemed to wrap up too quickly. The main characters all decided to return to the outside world for various reasons. But what made this story so interesting is that the sphere in which they were all trapped had developed a very Swiss Family Robinson society. Stuff would wash up, they'd rig what they had as best they could, and keep on going. The genetically engineered differences in the human population and the outright alien species encountered made for much more exciting reading than the bits of shipboard life we got to see before the crash. If Spencer decides to revisit this world, which I hope she does, I hope she focuses within the sphere and on trying to figure out where it came from and who created it. The politics of the outside world were of no interest to me at all.

Turn Coat- Jim Butcher- Another really good one from Jim Butcher. Some have complained that there wasn't enough forward movement in the overall story arc. I don't agree. One knowing spy is exposed, one unknowing spy is exposed (which cause fall out for Harry later on), bad things happen for Thomas (which I also expect to bleed into Harry's relationship with him in the next few books), an important Warden dies, and the Black Council finally begins to show themselves. I particularly enjoyed Ancient Mai's reaction when she realized that Harry has a Foo Dog. The Dresden Files are always a good read, and I fully expect them to continue to be so.

Impossible- Nancy Werlin- This one really blew my mind. Not because the story was particularly good, although I did like it. The premise is so out there, I can't believe that it hasn't been done before. I can't believe I didn't think of it myself! Are you familiar with the folk song "Scarborough Fair"? Simon and Garfunkel did a famous version of it in the 70's, but it's been around for a lot longer. If you listen carefully to the lyrics, it's a list of impossible tasks given to a lover. Another version of the song is called "The Elfin Knight". So what if the song is a riddle, handed down through a family as a way to teach the next generation what they must do to break an Elf's curse? The simplicity of the idea, and the fact that it was all there if you just bother to look for it, really just boggles me. Not that the author didn't make a few changes to tailor the song to the story she wanted to tell. But still. Makes you wonder what other stories I've been looking right past.

The Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mysteries by Julia Spencer-Fleming- I've read 5 out of the 6 books in this series in the last couple of weeks. The first two books were excellent. Books three and four weren't so great. The author was trying something different in these two, and while I respect her for experimenting, they didn't work for me. Book five was really good again, and book six is waiting for me at the library. The mysteries in these books are pretty good, but the very best part is the developing relationship between Clare and Russ. The author has moved the relationship forward in the last couple of chapters of each of the books, which hooks you and makes you want to read the next book to see what happens between them.

The Lady Julia Grey mysteries by Deanna Raybourn- I read all three of these books in less than a week. These are fabulous, and I can't recommend them enough. Again, it's not the mysteries themselves that hook you in with this series, it's the relationship between Julia and Brisbane. Raybourn will have a stand alone mystery and another Julia Grey coming out next year. I can't wait.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Cracked

I've cracked! A tooth, that is. (The jury is still out on my mental state.) And how did I manage to crack a tooth? It happened last night while I was eating a hamburger. A hamburger! There wasn't even anything hard or weird in there that I bit down on. The tooth just split. I thought it was a filling that fell out, so I went to the dentist this morning to try to get it fixed. That would be so much simpler to fix. This is going to require a crown, which means two appointments- one to ground down the tooth and put on the temporary crown, and the second to put on the specially fitted permanent crown. If this one goes the way the last one did, I can expect to spend at least three hours in the dentist's chair in the next couple of weeks. Also, it costs $600. Ouch.

I could have started the process today, having my tooth ground down and the mold made so that the permanent crown will fit exactly right. But I just couldn't face it today. Plus, I needed to consider the financial situation. I have an appointment next Friday to get started. I'll just have to be careful and live on really soft food for the next week. It hurt when the tooth cracked, and it's been aching ever since. I don't want to find out how much more it would hurt for the tooth to split further. I really hope this isn't the beginning of even worse dental problems. I've heard that some people with Crohn's have problems with their teeth literally crumbling on them, and I really, really don't want that to happen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Decide

I went to the doctor again today, and again I came away feeling like it's all in my head. I have legitimate disease, diagnosed and confirmed by multiple doctors. But my complaints are apparently just that, complaints. Not symptoms that need to be managed and controlled. I have a test scheduled for later this week, but it seemed more like she was humoring me than really looking for a problem.

I guess the only thing left for me to do is decide. If my problems are all in my head, then I should be able to just decide not to be sick anymore. So that's what I'm going to do. I'm not going to be tired and dizzy. I won't be nauseous or headachy. As my doctor said today, "A little diarrhea is no reason not to work." So I'll just ignore the diarrhea and the body aches and the occasional joint pain and just get on with my life.

Starting tomorrow I've decided to stop being sick. Either it will work and I'll start to feel better, or I'll collapse from exhaustion. At this point I'm not sure that it matters which.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Music and YA

I've read several YA (Young Adult) novels in the last year that have a strong focus on music. The most recent was Audrey, Wait!, by Robin Benway. I get the connection with teens and music. At that age (I can't believe I'm old enough to use that expression!), I was obsessed with music, too. I knew all the lyrics, all the band names, the title of every song on the radio. These days, not so much. Other, much less interesting stuff has filled up all that brain space.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I understand the connection between youth and music, and why music was such an important part of these books. Unfortunately, incorporating music into a book is a tricky thing, and nine times out of ten, it doesn't work for me. Music is sound. No matter how moving the lyric is, it can't give you the feeling of the song. In Audrey, Wait! we heard all about how amazing this song was, but I wanted to feel it, to hear it myself. And in a book you just can't do that. Every chapter started with a couple lines of song lyrics, mostly by bands I'd vaguely heard of but wouldn't know if I tripped over them. (Apparently, I'm not quite the hip 30-something I thought I was.) Out of the dozens and dozens of music references in the book, I recognized only two or three.

I realize that I'm not the target audience for Audrey, Wait!, Nick + Norah's Infinite Playlist, Adios to My Old Life, and other books like them. Those references are a lot more meaningful when you know the songs. But they also contain lyrics invented specifically for the book. There is no song to listen to. So in the case of Audrey, where this song is so important to the whole book (the title Audrey, Wait! is also the name of a song that becomes massively popular and changes the main character's life), it loses a little something for me. I keep hearing about this song, but what I really want is to hear the song. I want to jump around and dance with the characters. But I can't. Because it's just a book and there is no song.

That's one of very few ways that reading falls short for me. A good author can take me just about anywhere you can imagine. Except when there's music involved.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Savings

So, I tried the shower curtain thing, and it worked! I threw it in the washer with a week's worth of dishcloths and a glug of bleach, and it came out ungunged and untorn. And as an added benefit, the bleach had some mountain clean/spring fresh/who comes up with these names? scent, and it's lingered on the shower curtain. So the shower is both unslimed and nice smelling. Yay! I priced liners at Walmart today, and they ran from $2 to $10. If I'd had to replace it I probably would have bought the $7.97 one, so this experiment has saved me $7.97! The old liner is in excellent condition, so I fully expect it to be around for at least another year or more with continued washing.

Walmart was a good deal for me all around today. I had my price book with me, and I found several things at a significant discount. Overall, I saved 27% over Kroger or Target pricing. And only two items were on sale, everything else was regular price. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that Walmart is cheaper all around. I didn't do a full price shop, but for the items I checked there were just as many higher priced as lower priced. But I'm pretty well stocked right now, so other than milk (I got home and realized my milk was seriously out of date- poor planning on my part) I don't really need anything else.

To top off my day of savings, I took a bag of books over to Half Price Books and made $5. More money in my pocket and less stuff around the house collecting dust. Sounds like a win/win to me!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cleaning Up My Act

Anyone who's ever been in my apartment will know that I'm not much of a housekeeper. Even before I got sick, I'd avoid the household chores as much as possible. Now it's just really hard to find the energy to do what needs to be done around the house.

I'm not sure if it's maturity or perversity or the sheer amount of time I spend staring at these four walls, but lately I've been trying to keep things up a little better. I was actually doing pretty good right before I went back to work- the Lyrica gave me the energy to do a few chores, and things were starting to look only semi-horrible. It all fell apart quickly once I started working more than a couple of half days a week. Actually, the whole work thing fell apart pretty quickly, too. (Did I mention I'm back on disability? The Crohn's and Fibro both went to hell as soon as I started working consecutive days.) So now I'm back to square one-ish, trying to beat back the tide of clutter and mess.

One thing that's working for me, and I can't believe it is since it's never particularly worked before, is making a list. On Sunday I made a list of 31 things that I wanted to get done this week. (The 31 isn't significant; that's just how many things ended up on the list.) Many of them are 5 minute or less chores, like emptying the dishwasher or taking the bathroom rug outside and giving it a good shake. A few aren't technically "cleaning" chores, but more general organizational stuff, like paying a bill that's due this week or depositing a check. I've made lists like this a million times, and often only managed to complete a couple of items before losing interest. This time I've done 10 items so far, and I have 2 items partially completed. (They don't get crossed off the list until they're completely done. For example, the whites don't "count" as being washed until they've also been folded and put away.) To be sure that the list gets finished this time, I only put down things that I knew I'd actually do. (I knew there's no way I would dust this week, even if I put it on the list, so I didn't put it on the list. See how that works?)

The one thing I'm most proud of accomplishing off that list is vacuuming. I know anyone reading this who doesn't have health problems is probably thinking "big whoop, she vacuumed". But for those of us with Fibro or related conditions, vacuuming is a Big Deal. It hurts. I had to take a Darvocet today because I hurt so bad from vacuuming yesterday. But I feel so much better emotionally, knowing that it's done. It had been a very long time since this place was vacuumed, and the floor was completely disgusting. I could have made myself a whole new cat out of the fur I pulled out of the filter when I emptied the vacuum canister. Pain or not, I'm going to have to start doing that more often.

My big goal for the day is to wash the shower curtain liner. According to some of the ladies in the frugality group on Rav, it is possible throw your shower curtain liner in the washing machine when it gets gungy and moldy, instead of throwing it out and buying a new one. I hope so, because once I've run it through the washer that's it. If it tears I can't put off replacing it. So cross your fingers. I know it's only a couple of bucks for a new one, but I'd just as soon keep those couple of dollars in my pocket, and anyway I don't feel like going out today to buy a new one.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cheerful and On Wheels

I wrote this blog post long hand last week and never managed to get it typed up. Other, less cheerful, things interrupted. But I'm still working on it, it's still a goal, so I decided to put it out there anyway. So, here's last Wednesday's "Cheerful and On Wheels".

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I'm stealing this blog title/attitude from Jennifer Crusie (http://jennycrusie.blogspot.com/2006/02/cheerful-and-on-wheels.html) because it perfectly describes where I want to be: happy and healthy (cheerful) and out in the world living my life (on wheels) instead of grumpy and stuck in the house, which is where I've been lately. Also, because Jenny's writing always makes me happy, and I once flew from Houston to Boston just to go to one of her book signings. (OK, also to spend the weekend with my parents, but mostly it was for Crusie.)

I started with the "on wheels" part today quite literally. The car was due for its state inspection, and then I had to replace two tires. But at least I won't die in a horrible, fiery crash on the freeway tomorrow when I drive all over town for doctors' appointments and medical treatments. (Cheerful! On wheels!)

Also, I'm very happy that my critique group is getting together tonight for the first time since last fall. The two other ladies in the group are smart and kind and supportive and generally fun to be around. (Cheerful!) We're all writing in different genres, but the fresh perspective means that we often see things that the others miss. It gets me out of the house and socializing two nights a month, and that can only be good for me. (On wheels!)

I don't know how much of my own work I'll be sharing right away. It takes a lot of mental energy to write, and poor Daisy has been languishing for months. She's a great character, though, and I look forward to working with her again. Daisy is funny and smart (Cheerful!), and she's got goals that no fairy boss or supernatural race war is going to stop her from achieving. (On wheels! Big time!)

In fact, I could take a lesson or two from Daisy. No stinkin' disease is going to keep me down either.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Good Books

Apparently the expression "it never rains but it pours" applies to good things, too. Or at least good books. The library has been very good to me recently. I spent a good chunk of the day today in bed reading Dark of Night by Suzann Brockmann. And then I ran over to the library to pick up a couple of books that I'd put on hold- Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs, The Sharing Knife: Horizon by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. And last week I checked out What I Did For Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips that I haven't had a chance to read yet. All are by favorite authors, except Hoffman who I've never read but wanted to for a while.

Maybe I'm just a giant book geek, but nothing gives me quite the thrill of reading a book by a favorite author. And nothing is quite so good as spending a rainy day tucked into bed with the cat curled up at my feet and a good book. It's been rainy and cold for a couple of days now. Ideal reading weather. Other than doing the laundry and a few other necessary chores, I plan to spend tomorrow the same way. Yippie!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Math Problem

If you have a 12 lbs cat who plows through a 4 lbs bag of cat food every month at the rate of 1/2 cup per day, or approximately 1 lbs of cat food per week, how long before you go broke?

Today I went to the vet to pick up more food for the cat. Before I bought anything I asked about less expensive options. I love my cat, and I want him to be healthy. A few years ago he developed a giant bladder stone that had to be surgically removed. We would both prefer he not develop another one. That means special (read: expensive) food. According to the woman I talked to, he's already on the most affordable option. So, since there weren't any other brands to try, I decided to save a few bucks by getting a larger bag. The optimal price was on a 20 lbs bag. But Mr. Picky might not eat it if it gets too stale, and the smaller bags are resealable, where the larger ones aren't. So I compromised with a non-resealable 10 lbs bag. Now I just need to get a container to keep it semi-fresh and pest-free, and I'll be all set.

Savings for buying the medium bag instead of the small bag over a 10 week period? $6.51, or approximately $33.85 over the course of a year. The savings for buying the large bag are even better, but it's only savings if he'll actually eat all of it, so we'll see how the medium bag goes first. And that's just at the vet's office. I need to price it over at Petsmart- I may save even more buying it there.

I also went ahead and put my Netflix subscription on hold. I have a whole Tivo full of stuff that I haven't watched yet- including today's Doctor Who marathon on SciFi. Woo hoo!- so it just didn't make sense to keep paying right now. The hold will be up in 90 days, so I'll re-evaluate then.

And, I made a few bucks off Amazon! Earlier this week I was shuffling things around on my bookshelf, trying to make room for my library books. It just wasn't going to happen. So I started pulling the stuff I knew I wouldn't be reading again to sell at Half Price. You never get much for anything there, but at least it's out of the house. And then I remembered Amazon. So I checked my pile. When I list stuff on Amazon I like to shoot for the new lowest price, or at the very least the second or third lowest price. Makes it more likely that you'll make a quick sale. Well not all of the books were worth listing, but half a dozen of them were. So I listed them, and I've already sold two! I've cleared $5 after paying for shipping. Again, it's not big money, but every little bit helps. Not bad for half an hour's messing around and a quick trip to the post office. And that's just a couple of the books I listed. With any luck a few more will go and I'll make another $5 or $10. And I still have ten or twelve books to sell at Half Price. That'll bring in another dollar or two. Next I'll have to go through my CD collection.

Between cutting bills and finding ways to earn a couple extra bucks, I've been able to save $81.93 this week. Not bad!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Negative Progress

I've been feeling kind of whiny and negative lately, and made a commitment yesterday to be more positive in my blog posts. So of course, I'm here today to complain.

I had an appointment with my Rheumatologist this afternoon. During the appointment she reviewed my meds with me, and asked why I was taking Lyrica. What do you mean, why am I taking Lyrica? You prescribed it to me. Don't you know? I left the office with a prescription for another short course of Prednisone, even though she just put me on one about 6 weeks ago. I was hoping to walk out of there with some new treatment or dosage change or something to help me get through the work day and allow me to go back to work full time. I might as well not have gone at all.

And just to make my day a little brighter, the toilet's broken and it won't stop running. I called to report it an hour ago, and no one has shown up yet to fix it. I'm beginning to wonder who's dog I ran over in a past life.

There was one bright spot in my day though. I had lunch with my best friend, who I hadn't seen in ages. I confessed to her something that I haven't admitted here yet. (At least, I don't think so. Gotta love the memory like a sieve.) I've been thinking, in a very vague "gee, wouldn't it be nice" kind of way, that maybe I'd sort of, kind of, like to try dating again. Maybe. To put this in perspective, the last time I went on a date we watched the first Harry Potter movie. In the theater. When I expressed my nerves at the thought, she pointed out that guys are people, too, and dating is really just two people spending some time together. According to her, by that definition we were on a date right then! We decided that since I was wearing a new sweater with a lot of cleavage hanging out, and that we'd both complimented each other on our hair, it was a very successful date. Now I just need to try it with a boy. Yikes!

Update: The toilet's fixed! If only the solution to my health problems (or my love life) was so simple.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wading Through Mud

Today was another frustrating day. Sometimes it feels like the air itself is pressing down on me, holding me in place. It takes super human effort just to do the minimum. And that's mentally, too. I find myself groping for words. The other day I couldn't remember the term "caller id". I'm sitting there at my desk, floundering, a complete blank, while my boss smirks because I can't for the life of me finish the sentence I just started. I know that everyone draws a blank occasionally, but it happens to me all the time. I couldn't remember the word "optimistic" or the name of a business I'd just seen a commercial for either. I make lists, multiple lists every day. But a list can only take you so far.

I have another appointment with my Rheumatologist in a couple of weeks. I need to discuss all this with her. But before I do, I really need to figure out exactly what I want. "To feel good" isn't enough of an answer. Not if I can't articulate what is bad and what I want help with. The memory stuff is at least easy to describe. (Whether it's easy to treat is a whole 'nother question.) My second problem- the pain and fatigue- I'm less sure how I want to handle.

When I was first diagnosed, my doctor put me on Lyrica. It helped tremendously the first night. I woke up the next morning, and I didn't hurt. Until you've been in constant pain for months on end, you have no idea how amazing it is to wake up one morning with no pain. It didn't last long. I was hurting again within a couple of hours. But those few pain-free hours were bliss.

As I started to feel better, I started doing more stuff, taking better care of myself. That increased activity caused more pain and fatigue. So my doctor gave me a pain medication. Here's where I need to decide what I want. The pain medication she gave me is a narcotic. To me, it seems ridiculous to be taking a narcotic pain med for body aches. OK, so they're body aches with 'roid rage, but still. In my mind narcotics should be for agonizing pain. Rarely do any of my aches and pains reach the level of agonizing. It's just when you add them all together that they become more than I can take.

So. I feel that narcotics are stronger than what I "should" need. But when I do break down and take one- every couple of days or so- it only takes the edge off. It doesn't completely kill the pain. It often makes me dizzy and even less with-it mentally than normal, but it doesn't erase the pain. Clearly there's a disconnect here somewhere. The pills are strong enough that I wouldn't want to work or drive while taking them, but not strong enough to take care of my pain. I don't think that my pain is bad enough to justify them, but when I do take them they don't do enough.

I can ask for a different pain medication, but with Crohn's I have to be very careful which ones I take. NSAIDs and asprin can be dangerous because they can cause damage to the stomach and intestines with prolonged use. (And I don't see any of this going away any time in the near future.) I can ask for a higher dose of Lyrica, although I know from accidentally taking my evening dose of 2 pills instead of my morning dose of 1 pill that the higher dose during the day makes me really loopy and unfit for work or driving, too. So the only other option would be to try something else entirely.

What I really want is to not have any pain and therefore not need any of these medications. But that's not my reality. Why is it that dealing with the Fibro is so much harder for me than dealing with the Crohn's was? Maybe I had more energy to deal with the first diagnosis because I was coming to that fresh. I've had two years of bad health now, and I just don't have the energy to be sick anymore. Maybe the fact that Crohn's put me in the hospital for two weeks drove home the fact that this was a serious situation that I couldn't ignore. If I never get out of bed nothing much hurts. So if I stay in bed I can pretend the Fibro doesn't exist, right?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Falling Over

Am I the only one who doesn't enjoy "springing forward"? Personally, I'd be more than happy to "fall back" a couple times a year. Urg.

I am excited about a recipe I'll be trying for dinner tonight, though. (I may be sleep deprived, but it's not all gloom and doom!) I found a link to it on another blog by a family that's frugal and gluten free. Glad to know there's more of us out there! Anyway, it's called Sausage Polenta Bake. I seasoned up some lean ground turkey to use as my sausage a little bit ago, and I'll start on the rest of the recipe in about an hour. I'll let you know how it goes!

I hit Super Target on Friday after work, and the results were surprisingly mixed. I was pretty tired, so I didn't check everything on my list. But what I did check was all over the map. Some things were way higher and others way lower. The general advice is to do groceries at the grocery store and toiletries at places like Walmart or Target. Well I haven't checked Walmart yet, but in many cases the toiletries were cheaper at the grocery store and the groceries were cheaper at Target! I haven't fully analysed my results, and I still have Walmart, HEB, and Whole Foods to price check, but between Kroger and Target, there doesn't seem to be a clear "winner". So I guess the days of one stop shopping are over, at least as long as I'm being frugal.

I was looking at the account options on the Netflix website, and discovered that you can put your account on hold for up to 90 days. That sounds like the perfect solution. I was looking at my DVD shelf this morning, and there are a ton of great movies and TV series on there that I haven't watched in ages. A lot of my favorite TV shows have new episodes right now, so there's always something to watch on the Tivo. And since I've finally made it through all the New Who, it seems like this is a good time to take a break. I'll probably want to start up again over the summer anyway, since so much of what plays over the summer is reality crap. (Although Leverage is coming back for a summer season. Yay!) It looks like putting the account on hold will allow me to come back at the same price, where cancelling and restarting gives me no price guarantees. So that's a bonus, too.

I finished the blanket I was working on for my mom's friend! I was worried because I ran out of one of the colors about 2/3 of the way through, but it actually looks like an artistic choice, not an oops!, so I think I'm OK. Now I just have to weave in about half a million ends, and then I can wash it and mail it. If I'm good, and the stars align, I might get it out in the mail on Tuesday or Wednesday. I'm sort of considering rooting through the stash and making one for myself. There's a boat load of Caron in my closet just waiting for me to find a project for it. But not right away! I have three baby sweaters to complete in the next 6 weeks or so. After that I can work on something for me. Assuming of course that someone else hasn't broken something or birthed something. I'm not holding my breath!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Working the Plan

I started working on my price book today. I went to one grocery store and it took me two hours to write down the prices for everything on my list. Holy cow. This frugal living stuff ain't for sissies. One down, four more to go.

Tomorrow is dedicated to chores around the house. Am I the only one who feels like cleaning house is bailing with a teaspoon? I swear the sink magically fills with dirty dishes every time I walk out of the kitchen. It's unreal. Unfortunately, it's also necessary. Not only is it required for health and sanity, apparently it's also part of living frugal. I was reading The Complete Tightwad Gazette last night and came across the following: "Housecleaning. This should be your first interior design consideration." Bummer. At least I have a couple of audiobooks to listen to while I work.

In crafting news, I'm making great progress on the lap blanket I started over the weekend. One of my mom's friends had to go in for surgery to fix a broken hip. She had chemo and radiation a couple years back for cancer, and evidently it destroyed her bones. There wasn't a lot they could do because there isn't much bone left. The blanket isn't much, but it's the best I can do long distance. It's squishy and warm and cozy, and I hope it at least gives her some comfort. I really like this pattern. http://cache.lionbrand.com/patterns/70171A.html I modified it a bit. I didn't have the recommended yarns, so I used some Red Heart Soft from my stash. (Frugality!) It's the first time I've used this yarn, and I'm less than impressed. Because of the striping I've been into six different skeins, and I've come across at least half a dozen knots. There've also been several slubs- spots where there were odd lumps or wads in the yarn. It's knitting up into a lovely, cozy fabric. But the knitting experience hasn't been all I could have hoped.

Well, this has been a grumpy post, huh? OK, here's something funny. While checking prices at Kroger this afternoon I checked out cider vinegar. I'm not much of a vinegar person- I don't really care for the taste. But I've been looking for gluten-free bread recipes, and everything I've found calls for cider vinegar. They had multiple sizes, and of course as the bottles get bigger it gets less expensive per ounce. The 64 oz bottle was the biggest I could imagine using. But just out of curiosity I checked the gallon jugs on the bottom shelf. It was the same price as the 64 oz bottle. Twice the product for the same price! I don't know what the heck I'd do with a gallon of cider vinegar, but it's cheap! I've only just started checking prices, so I might find a better deal in a smaller quantity somewhere else. But in the meantime I'll be searching the internet for uses for cider vinegar!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cheapskating

Like everyone else, I'm worried about the economy and what it may mean to my job and personal finances. Six months ago I was in a much better position financially, but this disability leave pretty much killed my savings. It's a scary place to be- not well, in serious jeopardy of having my job eliminated, and no savings to fall back on. So I've decided to join the frugality movement.

My first step was to start following the money saving discussions on Ravelry. There are some surprisingly lively ones. Some of the suggestions (get rid of your car!) just aren't for me. Some of them (cook more from scratch!) I'm already trying to do. But there are a few things I'm considering.

1. Get rid of Netflix. Yes, I know I love Netflix. But as I ease my way back into a normal work schedule I have a lot less time to watch TV. Tivo commonly records two shows at a time, and sometimes it takes me more than a week to get around to watching something. In the summer, when scripted shows go on hiatus and it's reality programming 24/7, I can consider starting up again. But for right now, I'm not getting enough value out of the membership.

2. Get rid of a gym membership. I have been unforgivably lazy about this. I have a 24 Hour Fitness membership, and I literally haven't used it in years. I figure I've wasted at least a thousand dollars on this thing. It's time to go.

3. The library. The Houston library has an excellent selection, and I can reserve books online and pick them up at my local branch. It's like Amazon, except free! My taxes, and late fees, pay for this service, so why not use it? I received a couple of gift certificates for Christmas, and I'll use those for anything I absolutely must have. (Sarah Addison Allen's next book is due out this spring!) Once the gc's are gone, I won't be buying books for a while.

4. Unplug. I've heard this advice for years- unplug all appliances and chargers when not in use. I have a friend who goes so far as to trip the breakers before she leaves her apartment every day. I'm not prepared to go that far. If nothing else, I don't relish resetting all the clocks every day. But I do have my computer, TV, DVD player and VCR on power cords that I switch off when not in use. I just started this over the weekend, so I have no idea what kind of effect it will have on my electric bill. But I'm willing to give it a try.

5. Adjust the thermostat. This is one I've always done when I leave the house. Turn the temperature up in the summer and down in the winter if I'm going to be out. I've also tried to use the heat as little as possible this winter. I have hand knit socks to keep my feet warm and a cat to keep my lap warm. I'd rather throw on a sweatshirt and keep it a little cooler in here. I don't like sleeping with the ceiling fan on, but this summer I may try an oscillating fan in the evenings before bed.

6. A price book. This one is going to take some work. There are two grocery stores, a Super Walmart and a Super Target all within a couple miles of my apartment. I'm going to start tracking prices at all four places so that I can buy things for the best price possible. I've been working on a list of items I buy regularly, and I'm a little surprised at how long it is. Some of it is stuff I buy almost every week- milk, apples, lettuce. Some of it I only buy a couple of times a year- shampoo, toothpaste. I figure it will take a little while to recognize when something is a particularly good deal. But once I have a better idea of what the really good prices are, and get in a good rotation so that I can only hit one or two stores a week, hopefully I'll be able to shave some money off the monthly food and sundries bill.

My goal, because when you start a plan like this I think it's important to have a way to measure your success, is to put at least $5,000 back into my savings account between now and the end of the year. I'd love for that number to be $10,000, but I think five is more realistic. If anyone has any great money saving tips, I'd love to hear them. I believe my goal is achievable, but it's going to take some work and creativity to get there.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Back to Work

I went to work for four hours today- the first time I've worked since I went out on disability six months ago. It was... less than successful, at least from my point of view.

Two hours in I was already checking the clock, wondering how much longer I'd have to be there. By the end of the day I couldn't believe how angry and aggressive I was feeling. I walked in feeling positive and ready to get back into the swing, and I left feeling like I wanted to strangle something.

I know it's incredibly ungrateful in this economy to feel this way about a job, and it's especially silly to feel this way about a job with excellent insurance considering my health situation. But after four hours I know I don't want to be there anymore. I just don't know what the heck I'm going to do about it yet.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The bread dough that ate New York


I decided to take another whack at crockpot baking. I tried a blueberry bread about a month ago, and it was a bit of a disaster- the bottom and sides burned before the center finished cooking. This time I mixed up a batch of Whole Foods brand gluten-free sandwich bread. I love this stuff. The texture is similar to regular wheat bread, and the mix runs about $3.50 a box. Pricey, but nothing like the $7.99 (!!!!) a loaf they charge for the ready baked loaves in the refrigerated case.
My one problem with this mix is that it doesn't fit well in my bread machine. It's supposed to be a 1.5 lbs loaf. Back in my gluten-eating days, when I made a wheat loaf that size in my machine it was big, but not too big for the machine. When I make a loaf with this stuff it grows up over the edge of the pan. One memorable loaf, meant as my contribution to a Thanksgiving dinner I'd been invited to of course, grew over the edge of the pan, down the side, and onto the heating element at the bottom of the machine. I set the smoke alarm off with that one.
So, I was very excited to see that the Crockpot Lady, my personal hero, made a loaf of this in her crockpot. Problem solved! I though. Maybe not so much. As you can see from the picture above, the dough grew to completely fill my 4qt crockpot. Fortunately, it stopped before pushing off the lid, but it was a close thing. It's smelling nice and bready in here, and the edges have pulled away from the sides and have browned up nicely. But the top is still raw. I just hope it cooks through before the bottom burns again.
Why does this mix get so humongous for me? Is it the level of humidity here in Houston? Bad luck? Am I going to have to give in and start using my oven? If so I'm going to have to make two loaves at a time. There's no way all that bread dough is going into one loaf pan.
This baking stuff is getting complicated. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Meds on TV

I've learned a lot about medications in the last two years. One of the unexpected side effects is that sometimes I recognize the names of drugs on TV shows. It gave me a chuckle last year when a couple of characters on CSI were all freaked out about a coworker taking zolpidem. Uh, zolpidem is Ambien, folks. There are only about a bajillion Americans on that stuff.



The one that made me smile tonight was Eleventh Hour. (Yes, I know today is Tuesday and it runs on Thursday. I'm a little behind on my Tivo watching.) Toward the end of the episode Hood found a bottle of pills. He rattled them and then said it was anti-tumor necrosis factor. Sounds fancy, huh? Know what that is? Remicade, Humira, or Cimzia. Know what's even funnier? To the best of my knowledge, anti-TNF doesn't come in pill form. Remicade is administered by IV and Humira and Cimzia are both injections. After watching the episode I deleted it, like most everything else. I tried to recover it to watch that scene again, but it was gone. I wanted to double check, because the character had pancreatic cancer. According to a quick online check, anti-TNF would not be used as a treatment for that. It's TNF that's used to treat cancer. It's still given by injection, though.



I haven't watched it in a couple of months, but I've also noticed that the same characters throw out the same possible diagnoses every week on House. And they like to prescribe Imuran (azathioprine) and Prednisone. Been on both of those, too.

I'm not sure what it says about me that I recognize so many meds on TV. Either I take too many medications or I watch too much TV. Or possibly both.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

DS Lite as ebook reader?

I just heard that you can use a DS Lite as an ebook reader. $150 for an ereader? Sweet! (Kindle, for those who don't know, is $359, and the new Sony 700 is $399. And then you have to buy the actual books.) Does anyone know anything about this? I have many questions.

1. What is the screen like? I've rejected the idea of reading ebooks on a cell phone because the screen is just too small. I want something more substantial, closer to the size of a real paperback book. I know DS Lite has two screens, so it's supposedly visually more like reading a regular book. I'm just worried about how big those screens are.

2. Can I buy books anywhere? I've compared prices for a couple of books I want, and the Kindle prices were better than Sony or Fictionwise. Can I buy a Kindle version and put it on a DS Lite? Am I limited to certain sources of ebooks?

3. How hard is it to get the books onto the unit? I am techno-deficient. Some days getting this blog to post properly is beyond me. I don't have the knowledge, time, or patience to fiddle endlessly with formats, trying to get the text to play nice with the unit. Is it simple or am I going to have problems?

As I said, I'm pretty ignorant of this technology stuff. I'm sure there are things I should ask that I haven't thought of yet. If anyone can share some info about using the DS as an ebook reader, I'd be really grateful.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Living for Today

I like reading other people's blogs. That's probably why I have one of my own. I enjoy the little snapshots of people's lives- the things that make them happy, the things that make them sad, that new and exciting (or annoying) thing their kid/spouse/boss/other did yesterday. I like to check out the patterns they're knitting and ponder the philosophical questions along with them. Sometimes I comment, sometimes I just think. This time it's inspired my own blog post.

I came across a couple posts on different blogs tonight about taking life one day at a time. Focusing on solving today's challenges and leaving tomorrow's and yesterday's challenges alone. There is a certain wisdom in that. But it doesn't work so well when you've got a chronic illness.

The only reason I made it through today is because I planned for it yesterday. The only way I'll make it through tomorrow is by I laying the foundation today. Before I got sick I could fly by the seat of my pants if I had to. Sure, the day always goes smoother if the laundry's done and the meals are planned. But in a pinch I could get up early and run a load of laundry, and if I had to run through the drive through to pick up dinner, no big deal. I can't do that anymore. I always have to be prepared. I need that hour of sleep in the morning. I literally cannot function without it. And yes, I could go through the drive through if it was that or starve, but I'll pay for it big time afterwards.

I understand that they were perhaps talking about bigger things than the day-to-day necessities. I don't have time for the big problems. The small problems take up too much of my energy. And anyway, I know that some day my Crohn's is going to land me back in the hospital, possibly with major surgery. If you know it's going to happen, you don't have to worry about it anymore. It'll get here when it gets here. But the small things can back up on me quickly, and suddenly I have major problems that could have been prevented. If I wear myself out too much I end up stuck at home, in bed and in pain, for days at a time. If I don't make sure that I have gluten-free food that's full of nutrients and easy to digest I get even more tired. Or worse, I end up sick in the bathroom, which causes other problems that you don't want to know about.

I've had memory problems for months that I now know were caused by the Fibromyalgia. (Mom and I have affectionately named it "swiss cheese brain".) I forget stuff. All the time. And even if I remember something, I have a hard time applying that knowledge. For instance, I'll know that I have a doctor's appointment on Thursday. I'll remind myself every day that week of this appointment on Thursday. I can know that it's Wednesday. And yet, my brain doesn't make the next logical connection. The appointment is Thursday. Today is Wednesday. Therefore, the appointment is tomorrow. I can't tell you how frustrating that is. I've always considered myself a reasonably intelligent person. It's disheartening to have "duh" moments on such a regular basis.

It may not seem like such a big deal, to not realize you've got an appointment tomorrow, until you factor in all those little details. I have to figure out where the appointment is. I have to be sure there's gas in the car. I have to be sure I have appropriate clothing to wear. A list of current meds. Food for breakfast. Cash for parking. Change for tolls. Each of those perfectly ordinary, every day items is a discrete event, requiring thought and planning (and energy) on my part. I have to think about all of it, and plan it, before I can do it. It's exhausting.

Actually, now that I think about it, it's probably like having a baby. You have to pack for any eventuality. The only difference is, there's no sweet little baby cooing up at you as pay off. You're reward for surviving the day is- to twist one of my favorite author's lines- another day to survive.

So that's why "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" doesn't work for me. If I don't plan for tomorrow's evil it comes along and smacks me in the back of the head. And my poor old noggin can't take much more abuse.

Is this making any sense? I feel like I'm not expressing myself well. Time for bed.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ouch!

I have a killer toothache right now. I'm trying to distract myself so that it won't hurt so bad, but it's not working very well. Ouch, ouch, ouch!

I talked to my boss this afternoon, and we've picked a day for me to go back to work- Feb 24.

I went to the hair dresser this afternoon and got my hair done. The last time I went was October, so it was getting pretty desperate. I had her put some copper highlights in with the blond for a little more pop. She decided to flatiron my hair (when I'm in her chair I pretty much let her do anything non-permanent she wants to my head), and I walked out of there looking a bit like a member of a 80's era hair band. It'll be back to it's usual frizzy/curly state tomorrow.

Sorry, I can't concentrate tonight. My tooth hurts too damn much. I'm about 5 minutes away from tracking down a pair of pliers and taking care of it myself. I've been told the tooth needs to come out, but the earliest they could get me in to see the oral surgeon was the 24th. The day I'm supposed to go back to work. And that's just for a consultation. I'm going to call and see if there's any way they can squeeze me in on an emergency basis. I can't take this for another two weeks. And anyway, if they wait that long it might screw up my Remicade schedule.

Ouch, ouch, ouch!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tortilla Stew

I converted my first conventional recipe to a crockpot recipe tonight, and it was goooood. I took my Uncle Gov's tortilla soup recipe, made a few changes, and threw it all in the pot. One of the changes was to add a cup of rice toward the end of the cooking time. The rice soaked up a lot of the liquid, so it's not particularly soupy anymore, so I'm calling it Tortilla Stew instead. Here it is if you'd like to try it.

Becky's Tortilla Stew

1/2 onion
2 heaping spoonfuls of chopped garlic- maybe 3 cloves or so
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1- 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
2 cans chicken broth
3-4 skinless chicken breasts
1 can black beans
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup uncooked rice
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder

Cut chicken in approximately one inch cubes. Finely chop the onion. Heat fry pan and melt butter. Saute onion and garlic until tender. While that's cooking, pour the chicken broth and tomato sauce into crockpot. Stir to combine. Rinse beans and add to crockpot. Add corn to crockpot. When the onions and garlic are done add to crockpot. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper to taste and brown in fry pan. Add to crockpot. Add spices and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. In the last half hour add the rice, stir, and cover. When rice is tender serve, topped with chopped cilantro, avocado, grated cheese, or sour cream.

ETA: It looks like 1 cup of rice is too much, at least if you want something soupy. There was some liquid the first night, but it was totally absorbed by the time I broke out the leftovers the next day. It made a flavorful rice dish, but there's no way you could call it soup. Next time, if I want soup I'll try 1/3 cup uncooked rice and see how that works.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Changes

As you can see if you've ever been here before, I've made a few changes to the blog. I've been bopping around reading other people's blogs lately and decided it was time to blow the dust off around here. I was sick of the green. This is much cleaner. I'll probably make a few more changes- maybe add some pictures if I can figure out how. If you've got any suggestions I'd love to hear them. Blog design is most definitely not my area of expertise.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Yummy, yummy yogurt

So, Wednesday night I made another batch of yogurt. This time I tried a slightly different method- I heated the milk to boiling on the stove top and brought it back down to temp in a cold water bath before adding the starter and wrapping it up for the night. The resulting yogurt was much milder than the crockpot version. The milk itself might have made a difference, too. When I went to HEB they had half gallons of organic milk on sale for $2 a piece (when I bought milk for my last batch of yogurt they were $2.99 a piece), but they were out of skim so I had to use 1%.

Whether it was the method or the fat, this batch of yogurt is gooood. The flavor is so mild that there's no need to add any honey. I just mixed in some diced apple and homemade granola and breakfast is served.

I will probably use the crockpot to make yogurt again at some point, but for right now the stove top version is my method of choice. With the crockpot it was hard for me to be available to start it, stop it, stir it at the right times. Even being off work, I'd be napping or at a PT appointment or I'd forget to start it and then I'd have to stay up late to finish it. With the stove top version, as long as I've got a half hour to spare I can do it and be done.

In the meantime, I found another use for my crockpot- chicken nuggets. I made the Crockpot Lady's chicken nugget recipe for dinner tonight, and they were yum. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/09/crockpot-chicken-nuggets-recipe.html
I will definitely be making these again. I used tortilla crumbs for the breading, seasoned with onion and garlic powder and seasoning salt. They were a little tortilla-ee, so I may consider trying a different gluten-free bread crumb option. Maybe I'll crush up some Glutino pretzels and make a pretzel crust. Although at $6 a bag, the Glutino pretzels may be a little pricey to use in cooking.

It's only 9:30 but I'm getting tired. I think it's off to bed for me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Disaster!

My yogurt. It did not yoge. I got it started as usual last night, but this morning instead of waking up to a batch of tangy delicious yogurt I found a crockpot full of slightly weird smelling milk. I ended up eating leftovers for breakfast instead. I suspect that either it was too cool in the apartment for it to "take" or there wasn't enough live culture left in the yogurt I used as a starter. That'll teach me to wait until I'm out of yogurt to make more.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ouch

I think I over did it yesterday. Today, all day long, I just hurt. Definitely the worst day since I started on the Fibromyalgia meds. Maybe one of the worst days ever. Ouch. I laid down for a nap this afternoon and ended up sleeping hard for three hours. I felt a little better when I woke up, but still. Ouch.

I've been doing a little research, and while I haven't found much solid info so far, it looks like there are some dietary recommendations for people with Fibromyalgia. Of course, there's always the general "eat a well balanced, low fat diet." Well duh. The other two recommendations may be a little harder to swallow. Hur.

The first is a high protein/low carb diet. I already try to work lean protein into my diet whenever possible. Mostly chicken or turkey, eggs, and non-fat dairy. Fish less often, because the good quality stuff tends to be more expensive, and I'm not as comfortable cooking fish as I am with other meats. I don't digest pork and especially beef well these days, so I avoid them where I can. The low carb part of the program worries me. I know I can't go hog wild, and I've already cut a certain amount of carbohydrate out of my diet with the gluten free thing. But rice and potatoes are my go-to foods when my guts are misbehaving, and I worry about losing them.

The second Fibro dietary recommendation is also a real blow. Anything in the nightshade family. That means tomatoes and potatoes. Also peppers, but I've mostly cut those out of my diet already for Crohn's-related reasons. Tomatoes and potatoes. That hurts. I love them both, and eat them both regularly. Ouch.

Of course I couldn't imagine giving up wheat either, and here I am gluten-free and thriving. So maybe I can do it. Maybe I'll at least try. But I don't know. It's going to take a lot of thinking and a couple more days like today before I'm willing to take that leap.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Learning to Eat My Vegetables

One of the first things we did after I was diagnosed was request a consultation with a dietician. If you're diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disease it only makes sense to talk to an expert about what to eat, right? We talked for a while, and she left me with a handout that I like to call the Naughty List. It's a list of everything that I shouldn't eat while my guts were healing. On the list is anything hard to digest, including most vegetables and especially all raw vegetables.

Now that the inflammation seems to be under control it's time to get brave and start eating vegetables again. So last night I had a salad with dinner. A salad! I realize for most people that would be, "Ho hum. Just another Wednesday night." But I hadn't had a salad in almost two years. It was a big deal. If I could have figured out how to stick birthday candles in it to celebrate, I would have. I've used most of an onion in various recipes in the last week. And tomorrow I'm taking a real leap. I'm making the Crock Pot Lady's Fish Chowder with corn. (Corn is the boogie man of us Crohnies. It can cause blockages when your pipes are narrowed due to inflammation.) (Sorry, I know. TMI.)

If all goes well with the corn, maybe I'll swing by Fadi's next week and have some cauliflower! Mmmm. Fadi's.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

Health, like many things, exists on a continuum. On one end there is Healthy, Energetic, and Strong and on the other end there is Dog Turd. I've spent most of the last seven or eight months, and far too much of the last two years, on the Dog Turd end of the spectrum. Today I realized as I was singing in the shower that I'm rapidly inching my way toward Healthy, Energetic. Strong coming right up. Happy day, indeed!

I really think the new meds are making a difference. I also think that getting a little more strict about the gluten free thing is helping, too. It's amazing how easy it is to get lazy about something even when you know you'll suffer for it.

I made the yogurt overnight Saturday! I was a little worried it wouldn't set up, but it came out perfect. Sunday morning I had a big bowl of yogurt with honey and cinnamon stirred in, and granola on top. This morning I had the same, but I added half a chopped apple. Yum! Tomorrow I'm going to add a some vanilla. Can't wait. (It takes so little to make me happy!)

The next crockpot experiment will be bread. Whole Foods makes an excellent gluten free bread mix, but it expands too much to fit comfortably in my bread machine. (I tried to make a loaf to take with me to a friend's house for Thanksgiving, but it grew up and over the side of the pan and burned on the heating element. Man did that smoke!) The Crockpot Lady made bread in the crockpot, and it worked for her. I never would have thought to try it that way. So we'll see how it goes. I also picked up the ingredients to make granola. Homemade granola with my homemade yogurt? Sounds like a plan.

Tomorrow, if I'm still feeling perky, I want to move the furniture around in the living room. The goal is to have the treadmill in a position where I can walk and watch TV at the same time. I have plans for that treadmill, but I'm not ready to share yet. Let me get it moved around first.

Friday, January 16, 2009

News

Good news: My long term disability was finally approved. Yay!

Good news: I had my first appointment with the new Rheumatologist this week, and I really like her.

Bad news: She thinks I have Fibromyalgia in addition to Crohn's.

But that's actually good news because: Now we have a new direction for treatment, and I'm hopeful that I'll get my health under control soon and get back to a normal life.

Fantastic news: I took my first dose of Fibro meds last night, and I woke up feeling rested this morning, for the first time in months. Of course, I slept for 10 hours, but still!

Good news: She thinks that some of my joint pain is due to alignment issues. If that's the case, physical therapy should correct the problem and hopefully the pain will go away.

Bad news: The PT group she referred me to is out-of-network, and it's more than I can afford on disability. I'm going to call her office on Monday and see if she works with anyone else who might be in-network.

Weird news: She thinks I may have sleep apnea, so she's sending me for a sleep study. (She asked if anyone has told me that I snore, but unfortunately the cat's not talking.)

Fun news: I came across a recipe for making yogurt in the crockpot and bought supplies on my way home from the doctor's office yesterday. I can't wait to try it out! I love my crockpot. Yummy, healthy food with fresh ingredients and minimal work? I'm so there.

Sad news: I finally finished watching Torchwood series 2. Now I've got to wait for more episodes. I'm half considering upgrading my cable to include BBCA so that I can watch the mini season they're supposed to show this summer. (Yes, it's silly to spend so much more just for 5 episodes of one TV show. I probably won't do it, but it's fun to consider.)

More sad news: Netflix is dragging their feet on sending me Doctor Who series 4. On the up side, I know that I've got a lot of good stuff to watch. Eventually.

And that's all the news fit to print.