Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday-10:45am

Good Morning!
I can't believe it's already been over a week since I posted anything.  The time has flown.  Been too hot and/or too damp to have the patio door open very often.  I change the water and put food out for the critters on non-rainy mornings. 
Our new grouse regulars never stay very long... 
...but they are always a delight to see. 
 A few days ago I saw this little fellow!
A young ground squirrel!  He's quite feisty and likes to chase the birds away.  Ground squirrels do not like to share, apparently.  Once in a while you will hear a skirmish as a new one wants to take over eating and will drive off the former muncher.  As you can see this little fellow isn't much larger than a sparrow! 
I tried to get a video of the grouse, but by the time I figured out how to switch from photos to video on this new cell phone they were gone.  I will try to catch them one nice day when the door can be open because they sound so much like chickens when they eat!!  They cluck away!   
I have been putting down a line of food rather than one big pile so there would maybe be no squabbling.  Well, there's still squabbling, but less of it--LOL! 
Karma hadn't seen this new smaller ground squirrel... 
...and she obviously noticed the difference.  She wanted to just jump right through the screen at this little guy! 
But of course, she can't.  Good thing because the tiny guy certainly didn't pay any heed to the feline licking her chops behind him--LOL! 
I have been busy with cards.  Trimming down the card fronts. 
Here I had three sets trimmed down. 
Just kept plugging away at the table while I watched shows on McLap and Karma lazily watched her CatTV Nature Shows. 
Finished up the last set that needed trimming early last evening. 
Then McFamily came over and Ian finally got to open his presents from me.  Ian pushed his new lawnmower around in the apartment and outside on the grass.  Then we all went for a walk down the walking path as far as a couple of cottonwood trees that are right past the third building (will be the last one) that is under construction.  It was so windy that the cottonwoods made such a racket that they kind of scared Ian...well, along with the ragged, poky trunk--LOL!  (He was going to hug the tree like Gramma did and I think he thought it might have bit him--definitely dangerous in his mind.)   I am so glad they didn't cut these two cottonwoods down for the construction of buildings.  I wish they were closer so I could hear them singing and chatting in the wind.  :)
****
Dagan took a video of Ian opening his presents but I haven't gotten it from him yet.  If I can figure out how to get it on to the blog, I will.  :)
****
      Oh, and I have been in seventh heaven watching AcornTV thanks to Dianne!  (Who just met a brand new granddaughter, BTW.)  I am surprised I never heard of AcornTV since I love my PBS, British detective shows, and any British period pieces.  So, I signed up and now have a bunch of British shows for $4.99 a month (first month free).  Not that I don't love American TV (especially cable shows), but sometimes I am just in the mood for a bit less sex & gore and want things slowed down a tad with more focus on plot and character.  ;) 
****
Anyways, that's what's been happening up here in Karmaland.  Today I am doing laundry and making some meals to last me all week.  Of course, bean soup is on the menu.  I'm sure I'll get tired of it one day, but it's been a favorite for a while.  I think I make it every month!  Plan to make some pesto veggies and pasta, too.  Taking a break from cards for the day, but will get back on the next step in the assembly-line tomorrow.  Dagan and Leah have out-of-town company so Leah might not make it for Monday night crafts this week.  I'm still hoping to get these hundreds of cards done in the next few weeks so that we can get going on some other projects.  At least I am able to consistently accomplish more as I am feeling more myself--ahhh!  Nice!
****
   Have a fulfilling week!  Hope it's not too hot or too cold, as the case may be.  If you are able, hug a tree!  Been a long time since I have hugged a tree and it was soul lifting.  :) :)
****
"Be content to progress in slow steps until you have legs to run and wings with which to fly."
Padre Pio

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Thursday-noon-disability journey

Good Afternoon!
I am tickled that the ground squirrels seem to love drinking from the saucer.
Not that I could catch them in the act--LOL! 
We had some storms.
Too humid to have the place open much.  But when I do--Karma waits for CatTV to begin shortly after I change the water and put out some food. 
The ground squirrels are around often these days. 
Even though they are are favorites... 
...have you ever been so tired... 
...that you just doze off watching TV? 
Until something loud happens to startle you awake (like noisy black birds flying overheard). 
You resume the program... 
...but find yourself nodding off again?
Hey!  I was watching that! 
Leah had brought over some boiled lentil penne noodles that she didn't care for to see if I would like them.  I didn't care for them, either.  So I chopped them up and laid them out on a baking sheet to dry a little overnight and thought I'd see if the critters would like them.
**** 
I put them out along with a few of the sunflower chips.
The blackbirds ate around them... 
...so did the sparrows. 
Not even our Little Buddies would eat them. 
So I took a broom and dust pan out there later and swept them up--LOL!
****
We briefly had new patio visitors this morning!  The pair of grouse stopped by. 
But not even the grouse could rouse Miss Karma from her comfortable position in the sun. 
Do you think Karma's gotten used to her CatTV nature shows?  LOL!  Trust me, she pays closer attention when it's nice enough to open the patio door.  It's not that hot out today but the humidity is 76%.   Supposed to rain this afternoon.
****
Anyways, I have a confession to make.  Or more of a shocking realization I couldn't ignore or excuse away as to how truly bad off I have been this past year with the move.  Totally freaked me out, to be honest.
****
When I saw the pictures of Ian's birthday party I had no clue who the little one in the high chair was.  I figured out it must be Leah's sister's baby--but had no recollection of ever having been told they had a second child!  Zero.  
****
Granted, Leah is a very quiet, close-to-the-chest kind of girl and I rarely hear that much about their lives...but Leah swears she told me about Elliott and even showed me pictures!  He was born in September...when I was struggling to unpack and had reached a point of needing lots of help from Dagan and Leah to do so.  Total brain fog.
****
That level of brain fog--no retention whatsoever--has happened to me before.  But I didn't think it had this time with this move.  I wonder what else has been lost to me?
****
When I had been working the two jobs at Lee Square in Minneapolis and ended up with mono (1999)--that was the first time my brain just didn't work for me anymore.  No retention.  You can be so exhausted that you can not think anymore.  I could read something over and over again and not remember one word of what I read.  If I sat down and didn't move for more than about 20 seconds I would doze off.  Sometimes I thought I was asleep with my eyes open.  My doctor wanted to put me in the hospital, but I had no insurance coverage.  
****
My boss refused to give me time off and I couldn't live there if I quit the day job in the office because the night emergency personnel job was only in exchange for the apartment--no income.  So--long story short--that is why I ended up moving to Fargo-Moorhead (without Workman's Comp's permission) to go to college...which I started while recovering from the mono.
****
My brain cleared, but I was never really well again.  I caught everything that went around at school.  The kids at Concordia knew that if they needed over-the-counter medication or tissues that I carried supplies with me.  [Well, they also knew they could come to me if they needed a pen (choice of colored inks and types of pens), paper, stapler, highlighter (choice of colors), paper clip, safety pin, scissors...you name it...just like when I was in high school--LOL!]  
****
But my general health continued to decline.  By the second year I couldn't work my part time job anymore.  By the third year at Concordia I had to drop down to three classes a semester instead of four (which was all that was allowed before you'd lose funding).  College was becoming more and more of a struggle because of exhaustion, pain, IBS, and the returning brain fog.  I even got tested to see if I had mono again--nope.  (Didn't really surprise me as I didn't have body pain or IBS when I had mono.)
****
By my third year at Concordia, even with reduced classes, I had to drop a class first semester.  So, I started to look into switching to the public college where I could take two classes a semester and get funding because I was sinking fast and Concordia would have to kick me out, anyways.
****
So, in what would have been my senior year, I switched over to MSUM (Minnesota State University Moorhead).  I tried everything to not miss classes...to persevere.  All afternoon classes, classes only three days a week...professors even gave me extensions and allowed me to have more absences than officially allowed (because I had good grades)...other students volunteered to share class notes and contact me to let me know what happened in classes.  Regardless, I didn't manage to complete all four classes.  
****
When summer vacation started I finally went in to the doctor.  I told him I was sure I was dying of something.  Nobody could be in that much pain all over their body and be mono-tired without them dying of something.  I had tests all summer long.  Finally he called me in to give me the diagnosis.  He told me--"The good news is--you're not dying.  The bad news is--you're still going to feel like you are."  (He knew me and my sense of humor well by that time.)  Told me--"You have fibromyalgia."  "Huh?  What the heck is that?  I watch Oprah.  Never heard of it."
****
I was very fortunate to happen to go to a doctor who 1) heard of fibro and 2) believed it was real.  I had friends and family who didn't accept it or believe it was a real thing for a long time.  Heck--I struggled with acceptance for a long time, myself.  I was used to just pushing through anything and everything--mind over matter, you know?  But that doesn't work with fibro.  You pay dearly for it...even just slightly pushing the many limitations you already know you have.  
****
Anyways, I had had several people telling me to apply for disability.  So I finally did that.  And I got a lawyer, as everyone told me was the best way to go (although he turned out to be almost useless because I wasn't going to amount to much money for him).  He did file.  I was rejected.  He filed again.  I was rejected (he didn't even remember who I was outside the courtroom and hadn't read any of the documentation I had sent him).  He filed again.
****
Meanwhile I was making a valiant attempt to tackle a second year of part-time college at MSUM...which I hadn't been able to pull off the first year and I was in even worse shape, so it didn't look promising. My school funding was my only income all those years since I had moved up here--well, ever since I couldn't even manage one day a week for 4 hours anymore after the very first year.  The money I got twice a year had to last me for the entire year--rent, etc.  I had moved up here with mono and no job--had to file bankruptcy and give back my car, too.  I had to get help with rent from Federal Housing and get an EBT card (groceries).  If I quit--I had no income at all--would lose my apartment--had no money TO move and no where to go TO.  No money to even put my belongings in storage so I could crash on Dagan and Leah's couch.  I had all-encompassing pain and it was a struggle to keep my eyes open...plus I couldn't remember anything for two seconds.  That was the second time my brain just wasn't working for me.  I used to wake up and just lay in bed and cry.  I didn't know how I was going to survive the day.  Even just a day at home doing homework was totally overwhelming.
****
    What I decided to do on my own was see a free counselor (I'd fall asleep in the waiting room and then cry in front of her for an hour--insisting I was only situationally depressed, which was true) and I made an appointment for a Functional Capacity Test.  I knew I needed proof by medical professionals for the third disability decision/rejection.
****
The Functional Capacity Test is a 2-day affair.  You are supposed to go two days in a row and they do all these simple tests.  Well, they sure looked simple to me.  Before we started, I filled out forms that asked me what I thought I could do.  I remember I thought--well, most of this isn't gong to help me at all.  I can do all of this--except for the bum arm stuff, of course.  (You guys know that I do suffer from undying, unrelenting optimism.)
****
  OMG!  It was awful!  Yet it only entailed things like standing for 20 minutes, carrying things, climbing up and down a stepladder, walking a balance beam, doing small motor skill stuff (fine with my right hand and only thing I did well--until I was so shaky later in the day), and I can't even remember what all else.  By the time I had to do the walking of a long hallway...she insisted she push me TO the long hallway in a wheelchair...and I was struggling not to cry.  I kept apologizing.  Kept telling her that if I only had to do one of these things in a day for a short period of time that I could do them--honest!  Like climbing up and down a stepladder, for goodness sakes.  But after doing stuff all day long--I couldn't.  No strength left.  No balance left.  Couldn't even walk very far at all down the long hallway.  She stopped me...and made me get back in the wheelchair.  I was mortified.  And I was truly, deeply, shocked at how bad off I was.
****
It was winter and I had to bring shorter pants with to wear so they could check your knees and ankles for swelling and such.  By the time she let me go home...I couldn't even change to my long pants...and I was pain-crying.  I drove home shivering in my capris.  Hurt so badly to drive--to press on the pedals, to turn the steering wheel...and the tears made it harder to see.  Pain-crying (what I call it) is when you have tears flowing down your cheeks and you aren't even aware that you are crying.  It's just an involuntary reaction to the knife-pain and exhaustion.  
****
I made it back to my apartment, collapsed on the couch, and later discovered when I had to pee that my knees and ankles were so swollen and I was so weak that I couldn't walk.  I had to sit on the floor and kind of scoot backwards on my butt to the bathroom.  Dagan and Leah came over (shocked at my condition, I think) and brought me food...for days.  It took me a week before I could go back to do the second day of the testing!  She didn't push me as hard the second time.  Or let me push myself as hard, to be honest.  (I aim to please, you know.)  She was a sweet girl.  She emphatically pointed out the vast discrepancy between what I "thought" I could do and what I actually could do.    
****
 I'm better at it, but I still tend to regularly overestimate.  ;)
****
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
I am ashamed to admit this, but I wasn't able to complete one class--either semester--that last year.  Not with extra time and help from classmates...just could not physically do it.  I could barely manage daily maintenance of myself, to be honest.  I had to quit school.  I was losing my apartment when my pre-paid rent ran out.  Had no money to move.  No income.  Couldn't work.  I had been in for the third court date for disability and never heard anything (but had turned in the functional capacity test results).  Nobody wants to end up a burden to other people.  Can you say situational depression?
****
    I remember having one of those handing it over moments.  I tried everything I could possibly think of.  I was beaten.  If I was meant to be homeless and a burden, so be it.  Somehow things always turn out for the best--even if it is not the way we expected.  Maybe it was going to be good for my soul to be homeless?  Anyways, I handed it all over to my guardian angel.  I trust him with my soul.
****
Within two weeks I was accepted for disability, got a back payment so that I had money to move, and found a low income apartment in the middle of winter!  It was a horrendous move--shyster movers who tried to get more money from me (I refused), moved like snails, broke lots of stuff, took all day & night (even took a 2 hour dinner break with half my stuff in the truck and tried to charge me for their time).  They took me to court and lost, BTW.  :)  But, I digress.
****
I was in such terrible shape after that move (11 years ago Feb) that I could barely walk and refused to even have anyone come and help me unpack for a week.  They had just made my bed and hooked up the TV in the bedroom and put up the shower curtain.  I wasn't up to even overseeing unpacking.  I ate dry cereal and toast--and spent the week in bed.  Dagan and Leah brought me other food regularly.  Barely remember that move any more than the move up here with mono--LOL!
****
Which brings me to this move.
****
I truly believed that I was in a lot better shape and had done a lot better--which I did do better physically, but I was still in worse shape than I even realized!  And the exhaustion part...I totally underestimated.  When I said a while back that it felt like the fog was lifting--that was quite literal.  I know at times I felt like I did when I was in college...at the end.  I knew I had trouble reading sometimes--retention.  But not remembering Elliott--well, I was worse off than I cared to admit to myself--again.  That is proof of how bad the brain fog really was.  How weak and exhausted and in pain I was.  My brain wasn't always working for me...again.
****
So, I apologize for all my boring, repetitive blog posts, emails, and letters over this past year.  Those of you who have stuck with me--you have been with me at my worst.  Bless you, patient people.  Until recently I have been strictly on maintenance.  I know I have mentioned not being able to remake the bed for a week at a time...having to work up to making soup, doing laundry...and sometimes it was just to take a shower.  It wasn't that long ago I couldn't untwist a Powerade cap--even with a gripper--and Leah opened up all the rest of the bottles for me when she was here. 
****
So, I am not only confessing to you but admitting to myself that I have been a lot worse off than I even thought.  I feel so badly that I didn't remember Elliott was even on this earth for nine months.  Not that I ever see them...or anyone, really, except McFamily and Caroline.  But, obviously and without a doubt, the brain wasn't working at all sometimes this past year.  No retention--again.  I honestly didn't think I was as bad as that.  Shades of the Functional Capacity Test!  Not many spoons--sometimes none and borrowing against the next day.  All my spoons were focused on the move until I was unpacked.  I'm kind of foggy about the family visit last year in October, too--that same morning was the last of the unpacking.  After that I kind of collapsed--on all levels.
****
I am getting better.  Slow process, but the fogginess has lifted a lot.  I haven't been sick in a while (knock on wood).  The pain level is a bit lower.  And I still say--no better place to be laid up.  I dearly love the new apartment, as you know.  Karma and I have been so friggin' happy here--would go through it all again in a heartbeat.  I am blessed to have Dagan and Leah in my life looking out for me.  And Ian is just the frosting on the cake.  ;)  
****
One of the ground squirrels is out licking oatmeal dust off the cement.  Sparrows are pecking at it, too.  Karma is asleep in the chair next to me.  After I post this I am going to go binge watch seasons five and six of Game of Thrones.  Life is good.  Thank you to every one of you patient souls who come by to visit the blog, send an email, or write precious snailmail.  I am hoping to be a little more worth your time in the coming months.  :) :)
****
     "Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Sunday-10am

Hi, Everybody!
I had no internet since early evening on Friday, but have it back this morning.  Not sure how long it will last so I am going to try and post these quick.  Yes, I did get the vidoes uploaded correctly before I lost internet.  :)
****
There's no talking.  Just showing you what Karma and I watch on sunny mornings for those of you who might enjoy such things.  That morning they had cubed stale oatnut bread, sunflower seeds, and oatmeal.
I moved to my kitchen table later and this is my view (kind of under the laptop table by my chair--LOL!) from there.  They get down to the oatmeal pretty quickly--LOL!
I have seen the ground squirrels drink from the saucer of water several times, but when a black bird started to bathe Karma raced over and scared the daylights out of it.  She'd never seen anything so flappin' interesting in her life--ROFL!  She'll get used to them splashing about, I'm sure.  But right now she's on a power trip since she discovered if she comes pounding up to the patio door she can scare them all.  I know that won't last long because then she's all disappointed she has nothing to watch--LOL!
****
Anyways, I might not be able to get around to visit all you blogger friends.  Depends on whether I can stay online or not.  There's no point in calling Midco because they need to get into the cable room and no one is in the office to let them in till Tuesday because of the holiday weekend.  If it stays on now I am hoping to binge on Game of Thrones.  We'll see how it goes.  Not even sure this will post.
****
Have had lots of time to read, though.  :)  I already am almost finished with the Cat Who trio book.  Have plenty more to read if I lose internet again or it's too spotty to watch anything.  I won't be bored.
****  
Have a delightful Sunday.  :) :)
****
"So much has been given to me; I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied."
Helen Keller

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thursday-1pm

Good Afternoon!
We've had some days where the patio door could be open...
...and some days it was too hot and sticky...
...but even on the hot days Miss Karma wants at least a little whiffing time.
I've had worse IBS issues ever since I got that horrendous flu, so I wasn't able to make it to Ian's birthday party on Saturday...but Dagan sent me some pictures!
****
Ian with his aunt, Michal, and cousins, Julian and Elliott (in the high chair).
Eating birthday cake in his booster chair. 
Opening presents! 


  

  More treats?
Looks like he even got a little something extra at bedtime, too.  :) 

 I wasn't able to make it over there on Sunday, either...or have Leah over for crafts on Monday.  But Leah did stop over briefly on Monday night with some probiotics and critter stuff.  I am hoping taking probiotics might help.  :)
****
Other than that, I have been doing well and keeping busy.  Been slowly working on Christmas cards and birthday cards...
...watched the new season of Orange Is The New Black...made soup & bread...cleaned out the humidifiers for the summer...balanced the checkbook & wrote out bills...stuff like that.  :)  Oh! oh!  Leah found out why the printer wouldn't work!!  The new modem--duh!  It needed to be connected to the new modem.  Whew!  Although the color is still all off, it is printing again.
****
Last night rain clouds rolled in.
Cooled off, too, so that we have it open again today--hurray!
One of the things Leah picked up for me was a big saucer for water for the critters--the kind you put under a plant pot.  Karma was fascinated by the big raindrops plopping on the surface.
And--yes--as you can see, I "borrowed" a big rock from the landscaping around the building...
...but the birds haven't used it yet to splash in that I've seen.  They're getting used to it being out there, though.  The first day the blackbirds wouldn't even come on the patio to eat--LOL!  They are really chickens disguised as blackbirds.  Only braver in a group/gang.  
****
I took a couple videos of the critters feasting away on the patio one morning.  Mostly for Ian...our very own Fargo nature show.  But I had trouble uploading them.  I'll try again today.  Google bought YouTube, too, right?  It didn't like me having my old youtube account as soulcomfort1 and made me a new one as Rita McGregor--and keeps popping back over to that account.  I've tried to delete that one but have not been successful.  Sometimes I accidentally spend forever uploading videos and they are on the wrong account--*sigh*  Apparently, that's what happened--or tried to?  I don't think they actually published over there, either?  Not exactly sure what went wrong, to be honest.  I shall try again today to upload the Fargo nature videos--LOL!  When I get them published then I can put them on the blog for you.  :)
****
 Oh, and something else Leah found at Lowe's for me was a 5 lb bag of sunflower seed chips!  Awesome!  I was so hoping I could get sunflower seeds cheaper for the birds and our Little Buddies.  They aren't whole, but the birds and ground squirrels won't care.  :)
****
It's a gorgeous cooler day today--65 degrees right now.  In fact, let's see if my drop box is working better than it was...
Well, it isn't working automatically again for some reason, but I could send the picture manually.  Anyways, beautiful day!!  Hope you're having a beautiful day, too.  :) :)
****
"The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. No, not at all. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be."
Robert Fulghum