Monday, May 10, 2021

Why won't winter leave?

Night before last we had 60-miles-per-hour straight line winds coming from the east from 1:00 AM till 1:30   It's very seldom we see wind from the east, so that's unusual in itself.  Living in a mobile home, I dread high winds, but the worst thing that came from this foul wind was a power outage that lasted less than an hour.  This morning when I got up at five, I the temperature showing on the Echo show was 34 degrees!  I have tomatoes and peppers in the garden.  When the sun is fully up, I'll see if they made it through the night.  I also had some green beans and corn that just came up four days ago, too.  None of those vegetables like cold weather, and they can't survive frost; if I have to replace them, I'll be sad about it, but I always think of the farmers around here whose livelihood depends on the weather.  There is field corn up all around us.

Friday and Saturday were glorious days as far as how I felt.  Sunday, not so much.  Every time the burn of indigestion starts up, I try to think what I could have done differently the day before:  Saturday I probably ate too many grapes, as we have an abundance of them in the refrigerator; I do like grapes.  Also, because I'd felt good the two days before, I decided a little cream on my steel-cut oats shouldn't hurt.  Later on, I had less than a half-cup of ice cream.  From what I've read, Barrett's doesn't react to fats very well, so those transgressions caused yesterday's problems.  And perhaps none of that caused the problem; maybe this condition just rears its ugly head when it wants to.  However, I won't be using cream or eating ice cream again.  Today appears to be another good one, knock wood.  

Saturday my daughter and three grandchildren (with their children).  It was the first time we've seen them all together in a long, long time.  It's so much fun to watch the babies, and to see our almost thirteen-year-old great-granddaughter conversing like an adult instead of like a child.  They grow up so fast, don't they?  I have another great-granddaughter in Georgia.

It was hard for my daughter to get a decent picture.  Babies don't like to sit still.

That's Brynn on the left, Ivan on the right.  Ivan is the youngest, but he's the biggest.  He keeps his mom hopping, because he wants to do everything he isn't supposed to do and does not like to take no for an answer.

It looks like it's going to be a nice day, although cloudy.  From what I see on the weather forecast, it is going to steadily get warmer and by next week, we should be getting normal temperatures, accompanied by rain.  I never gripe about rain!

Thursday, May 06, 2021

I'm very happy

First off, I will admit to sometimes wondering how long my feeling well is going to last.  What if the Gastro doctor doesn't want me to take any of these pills that have stopped my pain?  What if he gives me something else and it doesn't work?  It seems every med I've taken for this current problem works... until it doesn't.  As I type this, though, I'm reminded of Matthew 6:25-26:  "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

I intend to get back to meditating regularly; that has always chased worries away and calmed me down.  

There are several pluses to this whole esophagus problem:  I'm eating in a much more healthful manner and am very aware that stuffing myself makes me miserable, even if it's healthy foods I'm eating; I'm learning that from experience.  I notice if I'm eating differently, my husband does so too, even though I've told him I'll still cook anything he wants; I have no trouble staying away from fried foods and ice cream when I know I'll suffer for it in a couple of hours.  When I have my appointment with the doctor's assistant next month, I'm going to talk to her about what I should eat.

The biggest bonus of this whole episode is that every day when I get out of bed without pain, it's like the best day of my life!

I bought a Ninja air fryer Max XL at Kohl's for $149.99 on sale, then got $30 off with Kohl's cash.  But wait, there's more!  For spending that amount, I received $10 dollars in Kohl's cash to be used after the first of next month, and free shipping.  I should get my air fryer early next week.  Oh yes, and another bonus that made this a fantastic bargain:  My daughter usually gets me a huge tin of Topsy's Popcorn for Mother's Day because I love it so; she realized that wasn't an option now, and wanted to pay half the cost of my air fryer.  Actually, I owe her $15 back, because the price on the air fryer went down $30 overnight.  I don't think she would take it back, though, if I offered. 

I think we'll make a trip to Aldi sometime today; I need to stock up on steel-cut oats... and grits, if they have them.  If not, since we have to pick up a prescription at Walmart anyway, I'll get grits there.

What a happy day I'm having!  I hope all of my readers have a great day too.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Life is good

We're having a cold snap around here, for which I'm grateful.  We had to turn on the air conditioner one day already, and I hate to see that expense on our budget again; we're getting almost a week of reprieve for the next ten days.  We still haven't gotten enough rain, but I'm thankful for the one inch we got last week.  I may have to hunt up the soaker hose for the garden.  

I'm still trying my best to concentrate on eating in a way that will help me.  The sucralfate I'm taking has been approved by the gastro doctor and will now be coming by mail every three months.  Since I haven't had my appointment there, I'm not sure if this is temporary or permanent; either way, I'm glad to have it coming; it's also cheaper when I get it from Optum RX.  I really wish I would stop losing weight now (never thought I'd be saying that).  I like the fact I'm down to 144 pounds for the first time in years, but enough is enough.  I'm five feet seven inches tall; the charts say I should weigh somewhere from 121 to 153, but I'm big-boned.  I have even had a couple of strangers mention that I'm "skinny"!  I think it will level out once I reach a stage where I know I'm eating the right thing; remember, I'm used to having plenty of ice cream, fried morel mushrooms, fried potatoes... also butter used liberally at every meal and snack.  I'm wondering if I should buy an air fryer, because I love fried foods so much; maybe that would be a happy medium for me.  And yet, at my age, I hate to buy another gadget for my family to get rid of when I'm gone.  

I haven't mentioned Blue, the indoor/outdoor cat, lately.  I was going to make him live outside when he began shedding, and he does for the most part.  However, if he wants in, goes straight to his cat tree, and then goes to his bed next to that for a nap, I let him stay until his nap is over.  I have the kind of tick-and-flea stuff you apply between the animal's shoulder blades, so there's no worry about fleas in the house.  He's always outside during the night.  We are putting stuff in his ears for something... probably mites.  Cliff is amazed that the cat doesn't claw me as he puts the drops in his ears while I hold him;  Blue hates the process and squirms a bit, but never threatens to hurt anyone.

I found someone local who wanted the Little People stuff; the preacher's wife!  I refused to let her pay for them because she does so much for people around the community, even when she doesn't feel up to it.  She baby-sits a little girl who is enjoying the toys already, and her first grandchild will enter the world in a few months.  She has four grown children, so I'm sure she'll have more grandchildren in the future.  Those toys will make a lot of children happy for quite some time, I'm sure. 

Our second-oldest grandchild, Brett, brought his two kids to visit Saturday.  We hadn't seen them for a long, long time, and we so enjoyed their visit.  

I think that's all I have for now.  

Friday, April 30, 2021

So far, so good

Yes, I've had two good days in a row.  I intended to do an entry yesterday, but I got busy and just let it go.  Day before yesterday I had planned to get back to walking and riding on the recumbent bike, but I went in another direction:  We went to Blue Springs and visited Cliff's sister.  This was a big deal for me, because about the only places I had gone in two weeks were the doctor's office and the emergency room.  My body had gotten used to laying around all the time.  Cliff's sister cuts his hair these days, and we always stay long enough for a little visit with her.  She lives in Blue Springs; in my lifetime that city has grown from a small town into a large suburb of Kansas City, and there's an Aldi's there.  So I went in to stock up on canned goods and get a few bargains.  On the trip to Blue Springs, at Rena's house, and on the way back home, I ran my mouth nonstop!  I'm surprised I didn't wear Cliff's hearing aids out.  It just felt good to be feeling normal and going somewhere besides a doctor's office.

Yesterday, too, was fine.  Our United Health Care Medicare plan sends a nurse out each year to check our general health; I almost felt it was a waste of time this year, since I've seen plenty of doctors lately, but if we don't let them come, the insurance company hounds us to death insisting we need it.  This year our nurse was a very pleasant man who was born in Kenya.  He said the reason the insurance company has this program is that so many older people don't go to a doctor unless they have something really serious that forces them to see a doctor, and they want people to be proactive about their health.

I mentioned here before that I was thinking about going to a cardiologist, but after a couple of days of feeling well, I had almost decided against it; however, when I mentioned my irregular heartbeat, the visiting nurse was rather concerned.

 When they checked my vitals before the endoscopy, one nurse called it a "tach".  When I looked that up on Google, I found that's short for tachycardia;  Anyway, my regular doctor has always said my irregular heartbeat was something to watch, but shouldn't be of concern yet.  The nurse yesterday asked if I had been to a cardiologist and I told him my regular doctor didn't think that was necessary, but that I was thinking about going to one anyhow; he said he thought that would be a good idea.  That was just the nudge I needed to make an appointment with Cliff's cardiologist as soon as the nurse left.     

I did manage to go for a walk yesterday.  Mostly I just caught up on some household chores.  I took about two hours sorting out all the Little People things I bought for Cora and me when I was babysitting... house, barn, fences, tractors, animals... all of it.  Once sorted out, I put them on Facebook Marketplace for $50 (there are hundreds of dollars invested in that stuff); after putting it on there, I noticed there are lots of people selling Little People toys for a pittance, so I probably won't get rid of it, even at that low price.  I may end up donating it to Goodwill.  I need to be getting rid of some things; our trailer house has too much "stuff" in it.  I still have dolls and other toys around for the great-grandchildren when they visit, although on Brynn's last visit, she played with a coffee can and some kitchen utensils, instead of toys.

Cliff and the grandson have been fencing most days when Arick gets home from work; they have been stopping in time for Arick to go hunting for morel mushrooms, and he has found a lot of them.  He shared them with us; I imagine they did very well on last night's venture, because we had gotten some rain the night before.  We have some left, so I've been dicing them and adding them to scrambled eggs.  They are delicious fried, and I did have some once last week when my reflux wasn't hurting me; but fried foods are bad for reflux, and I must stay away from grease most of the time.  There's very little butter in scrambled eggs when I use a non-stick skillet, and I think that's a better choice than deep-frying.

I believe that catches me up.  In June I'll be seeing both the gastro doctor and the cardiologist, and by that time I will be have been eating correctly for eight to ten weeks.  Oh, and when I get on the scales right out of bed, I weigh 145.  Both specialists will approve, I'm sure. 

And that's the way it is.

*I've had to engage "captcha" on my blog, which I hate doing; until recently, I only received spam comments on older posts, and it was easy to delete them.  But this new one made three comments on my last post.  I think I deleted a non-spam comment accidentally, doing that.  I often have problems with Captcha on others' blogs, but I have to do it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

I'm feeling "normal"!

I haven't been out of bed long, so I may be speaking too soon; but I cherish this moment and am counting my blessings.  As I read more on reliable web sites about this condition, Barrett's Esophagus, I'm finding hope.  The preacher's wife at one of the churches I attend told me her father has dealt with this condition for years; he follows the proper diet strictly, and never eats after 6 PM.  If he doesn't eat by then, he doesn't eat that evening.  He has actually had surgery of some kind that helped.  

I've learned online that most fruit and vegetables are good, with the exception of tomatoes and citrus fruit.  Overeating causes trouble; too much meat can cause problems.  Milk and other dairy products can be problematic... that one will be difficult for me (no ice cream?), but if it keeps me pain-free, I'm game.  I stopped drinking coffee two years ago and switched to tea, but it's suggested that tea isn't good for me, either.  I wish I could find an herb tea I liked.

Today I'm not light-headed, my blood pressure is getting near normal, and my stomach doesn't hurt.  I read that most people are first diagnosed with Barrett's Esophagus in their fifties.  I'm thankful I wasn't bothered with it until my seventies.  Yesterday I planted two tomato plants; one is a yellow tomato, which I'm told doesn't have as much acid.  

By the way, I decided last night not to take the pill the nurse/practitioner gave me for depression two weeks ago.  My only depression is when I am feeling ill, and I don't need another pill in the mix.  Hmm... is that why I feel good today? 

I wish it would rain, but if it doesn't, the dog and I will walk back to the woods.  I'll get back on the recumbent bicycle for a few minutes.  

I'm back to reading instead of napping and watching television; I happened to watch "The Lincoln Lawyer" on Prime, and realized I hadn't read a Michael Connelly book in years; I immediately checked one out on the iPad and am thoroughly enjoying it.

I thank God I have nothing to whine about at this point in the day, and many blessings to count.

If you are one of my readers who follows this blog by email, be aware that Blogger is doing away with that feature in July.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

I'm getting by

Things are looking better.  The high blood pressure is responding to the new med little by little.  My esopagus is settling down somewhat, and has been looked at and photographed, as well as my stomach.  I have Barrett's esophagus.  It's more common in men, but I'm one of the lucky women to have it.

I'm still pretty light-headed at times, and I really have no idea what's causing that.  I just want to be back to normal, or some semblance of normal.  I want to feel like getting on the exercise bike and going for short walks again.  

Our temperatures are in the 80's, with high winds.  We are having one of those weeks where we're going someplace almost every day!  Yesterday was my endoscopy at 1:30; imagine how hungry I was by then!  Cliff has a dentist appointment today around noon, and Thursday we have our annual visit from the nurse the medicare folks send around.  

I think I probably need to be more careful of what I eat; I enjoy good old-fashioned food, lots of butter, and a little sugar added to everything.  I like things flavored in bacon grease and fried in lard; I can't keep doing that.  I'm not supposed to eat acidic things, so no more oranges.  I love all fruit, though.  I'm hoping I can always eat grapes.  I enjoy vegetables.  If watching what I eat helps keep me pain-free, I can do it.  

And that's my report for now.  


Friday, April 23, 2021


I'm still here.  I'll be having my procedure done Monday and we'll see what secret weapons the gastro doctor has for my stomach.  After that, I'm thinking of making an appointment with Cliff's cardiologist on my own, unless my blood pressure settles down.  I've had a harmless heart murmur for years, and an irregular heartbeat for a couple of years; they haven't worried about it so far, they just keep track of it.  Now that my blood pressure went so high for days, I'm thinking if my doctor doesn't send me to a cardiologist, I'll send myself.  I hate to do that, because I'm afraid I'll have to start taking blood thinners; but if that's what needs to be done, so be it.

However, I just took my blood pressure and it was actually normal.  So maybe the amlodipine will do the job; it's what my mother took for years.  I haven't had any of the other symptoms associated with heart problems such as shortness of breath or chest pain.  One day at a time.

We have had some crazy weather this week, as many across the country have.  Three inches of snow that was mostly gone by noon, two nights of freezing.  Yesterday was cool but sunny, and I went out with Gabe and walked around a bit.  He misses our walks, and I do too, but since I have been getting light-headed every once in awhile, I didn't want to get too far from the house; I took my phone with me, just in case.  The sunshine was therapeutic.  Alas, there's no sunshine today, but the weekend looks as if it will be nice. 

That's about all I have, unless you want reviews of things I've watched on Netflix.  I'm joking, but I have watched a lot of television, something I don't usually do in the daytime.  I didn't really feel like reading, which I much prefer to do when I'm feeling fine.

That's how things are going at my house.  


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A brief update

Today may be a better day.  

I'm taking a different blood pressure med, added to the one I was already taking.  Last night my BP numbers were better than they had been for a week, although still somewhat high; I think it takes awhile to get the blood pressure going in the right direction.  

I was still so miserable with acid reflex when I visited the doctor Monday; I asked if I could take Sucralfate again, because eighteen months ago it was the only thing that seemed to help.  It has to be taken at least an hour before a meal and at bedtime, four times daily, but it worked before, and this morning after taking it for two days, I find it's giving me relief again (knock wood).  Honestly, it seems to have less long-term side effects than omeprazole, which does nothing for me these days.  Samantha was hesitant to prescribe it, but she gave me enough for a month and said to ask the specialist if it's OK for me at this time.

I rescheduled the procedure I missed last Friday, so I will be having that done Tuesday of next week.

I've "slept" in a recliner for the last four nights, but last night I slept in bed.  I woke up at 2 AM, which is too early.  But I got more rest that I've had for a long time, and I think I'm going to crawl back in bed again.  

I believe that about sums it up.  Getting old is not for sissies.  I'm sorry I didn't update sooner, but I was waiting until I felt better to update.  Thanks to all of you who expressed concern while I was away from blogging.  I simply did not feel like getting on the computer, and there really wasn't much to tell anyhow.


Saturday, April 17, 2021

The day after

I slept in the recliner again last night, and woke up pain-free!  I thought I was back to normal, but washing dishes this morning wore me out, so I'll take it easy for awhile.  

It's strange about the low potassium, because I was at our regular doctor Tuesday and potassium was normal.  At the hospital they told me it wasn't terribly high.  I believe the doctor said "a little high".  he nurse mixed some up in a foul-tasting sports drink in a cup and gave it to me.  I did feel more energectic afterward; when I first got to the hospital, I was afraid to walk to the bathroom by myself.

One part of the problem is that my blood pressure prescription is a water pill; I take one in the morning, one at night.  My mother started feeling bad on the same med, went to the doctor, and he told her she was low in potassium because of her blood pressure prescription, the same one I take.  He prescribed  magnesium for her to take each day; it was a liquid, and she complained about how awful it tasted.  I recall her saying she had been so weak and tired, she could hardly walk.  My father asked the doctor if he was low on potassium, since he took the same B/P pill as mother.  The doctor told him, "If the time comes that you need it, you will know something's wrong."

I should add that the first B/P med I was prescribed years ago was an ACE inhibitor and gave me a dry hacking cough that wouldn't let me sleep at night.  That happens in 1/3 of the people who take it.

I normally have lots of fruit and vegetables in my diet, but with the pain of acid reflux, I was afraid to eat fruit, and I wasn't really feeling well enough to fix a decent meal; poor Cliff was very understanding, but he he can't even cook an egg properly, and I have tried to teach him.  I think the height of his cooking abilities would be baking a potato in the microwave; when I first told him how... poke it all over with a fork and put it in the microwave... and explained how long to cook it, he had a baked potato for three nights straight.  I should explain that he's on his own in the evening.  I try to make a decent meal at noon and he makes a sandwich or heats up something leftover for supper.

I'm still sitting here thinking how wonderful it is to have no stomach pain.  I don't know if it will last, but it's a treat, for sure.  

I hope for now this issue is over.  Whether it is or isn't, I promise that unless something really terrible happens, the next blog entry I do will not be me whining about my problems.

Have a great day!  I intend to. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Life sometimes gives you curves

I wanted to sleep in bed last night instead of in the recliner.  My stomach felt a little better, so I tried it.  At 1 AM I woke up feeling like I was on fire and went to the recliner, thinking at least we'd know more about what's happening.  I dozed a little, but I was so miserable.  I tried to read my book, but couldn't concentrate.  I've been weak for days, and could hardly put one foot in front of the other.  By the way, the procedure I was due for is an upper GI.  Nurses call it an EDG, but here's the real name for it:  esophagogastroduodenoscopy.  

I was supposed to be there for my appointment at 7:30, so I woke Cliff up at 5:45 and went to shower, still feeling really weak, my esophagus burning, but not quite as bad as when I first got out of bed.  Something came over me in the shower and I didn't think I'd be able to finish.  I felt so strange; I hardly had the energy to wash my hair.  I was afraid to step out of the tub, but leaned on the wall and made it; I put down the lid of the toilet, sat down on it, and called to Cliff.  By the time he got there I was nauseous, but there was nothing to vomit because I hadn't eaten for 12 hours and hadn't had any water since before midnight, per directions of the doctor doing the GI.  I also had not taken my morning blood pressure pill; I didn't think that was a big deal; I'd just take it when we came home. 

Cliff called the ambulance, and they were here in ten minutes.  Our ambulance is all volunteer; two young men were in charge on this visit.  The one who rode in back with me monitored my vitals and kept me talking a little.  I told him I was laying in my recliner wanting to die half the night, then looked up and said, "I didn't mean it, God," sort of as a joke.  That nudged something in him and he said, "Would you like me to pray for you?"

Hey, I'll take all the prayers I can get.  And that was obviously a young man very close to God, because he laid a hand on my shoulder and prayed as sweet a prayer as I ever heard.   

Cliff followed behind the ambulance, and away we went to  Centerpoint, which is where I was supposed to have my upper GI... but I'll have to reschedule that now.  

My blood pressure was 210 over 90.  I was low on potassium and dehydrated.  I drank six cups of water yesterday, but since I can't eat much, I guess that wasn't enough.  They gave me some potassium and hydrated me through IV; my blood pressure got down to 158, and I came home.  

I would say THE END, but I still have to get my upper GI.  And why is it something like this always happens right before the weekend, so you have to wait two days before you can make an appointment?

Just one more bump on the road of life.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Not much to say today

My mother used to say, "When it rains, it pours."  

I don't have to worry about dementia for awhile, as I told you in yesterday's entry; but wouldn't you know, I woke up with terrible acid reflux at 1 AM.  I have been having a little trouble with that lately, again.  Two years ago, I had an endoscopy done because I had terrific stomach pain; the doctor really didn't seem to find a particular cause, but somehow the pain subsided.  I didn't really care for the doctor who did the procedure.  I never met him before the endoscopy, and he didn't seem all that friendly afterward.  

I got over the tummy problem.  I think I was supposed to go back in a year and have the test done again, but I felt fine (sounds like a man's excuse, doesn't it?).  However, when I mentioned to nurse Samantha that I was having occasional problems with heartburn again, she told me I need to go see my specialist.

This time the problem isn't in my stomach.  I know this pain ALL too well; it's pure, unadulterated acid reflux.  I had a bleeding ulcer in my esophagus about forty years ago, and this is that same pain.  So far I don't seem to have any bleeding (I assume you all know how one finds that out), but I got the same doctor's number this morning and called for an appointment.  He was one of several doctors at that practice; I was told he had moved on (yay).  The lady looked for another doctor with the nearest available appointment slot and found one who can do my procedure Friday... day after tomorrow.  Great!  Get this over with, I say.

When I woke up last night, I came to the living room recliner as miserable as I could be; had the pain been from some other cause, I'd have awakened Cliff and gone to an emergency room.  It didn't go away, but it eased enough that I went back to sleep in the recliner until 5 AM.  I had a dental appointment at noon today, but called and cancelled it.  I just don't feel like keeping it.    

So far this week we've gone to the doctor, cancelled the dentist, and made an appointment to have a procedure done tomorrow.  Oh yes, and we paid $325 to have our septic tank emptied yesterday.  I guess that stimulus money is good for something, but the dentist may have to wait until next month.  I need my own secretary to keep track of our appointments around here.

What a pitiful, woe-is-me entry this is.  A better day is coming.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Once again, I'm keeping it real

I don't remember as well as I once did.  I had not worried about it, since most folks my age said they felt the same way.  I'd talk about going into a room and forgetting what I went after, or forgetting the name of someone I know well, they said they'd been there too.  But something about this last winter has changed me, and when I seemed to be getting even more forgetful, I decided I had better get tested for dementia.  Cliff had wanted me to do that since two years ago when we went to Memphis:  "You're going bye-bye," he kept telling me.

I always have winter depression, but this year when spring hit, it got worse.  I began crying at things that shouldn't bother me.  While I'd love to travel a bit (within our means), I didn't want to go on little bitty 100-mile road trips.  I got those out of my system when we had the motorcycle.  (I would like to travel someplace I've never been, though, somewhere far away.)

Suddenly, everything seemed to make me cry.  I have never been a cryer.  I don't cry at close relatives' funerals.  That always bothered me, because I imagine people assumed I didn't love the deceased person, but I refuse to fake-cry to make others feel better about me.  Nowadays I cry at the drop of a hat, and I'll even drop the hat!

I cried at  this:

I cry at the old hymns like this one below.

Whispering Hope

Soft as the voice of an angel
Breathing a lesson unheard
Hope with a gentle persuasion
Whispers her comforting word
Wait 'til the darkness is over
Wait 'til the tempest is done
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow
After the darkness is gone
Whispering hope (whispering hope, whispering hope)
Oh, how welcome Thy voice (welcome Thy voice, oh, how welcome Thy voice)
Making my heart (making my heart, making my heart)
In its sorrow rejoice (in its sorrow rejoice)
If in the dusk of the twilight
Dim be the region afar
Will not the deepening darkness
Brighten the glimmering star
Then when the night is upon us (ooh)
Why should the heart sink away?
When the dark midnight is over
Watch for the breaking of day.

Yesterday I made an appointment with Samantha, the nurse-practitioner at the clinic.  The lady at the appointment desk asked what I needed to see her for, and I told her I'd been having a few stomach problems again, although that wasn't the real reason; I just didn't want to have to tell her I wanted to be sent somewhere to find out whether I have dementia.  The clinic had an opening at 9:30 this morning.  I thought, "Good!  Let's get this over with."  I made a list of all the reasons I wanted to be tested and took it with me.    

When I told the nurse who took my vitals what I really wanted, she went out of the exam room and came back with quite a few questions on her computer to ask me.  I felt like I was failing the test, as she asked me one question after another.  "Can you spell 'world'?" she said.  Of course I could, but then she asked me to spell it backward.  It took me 5 attempts to remember the "r".  I truly thought I had flunked the test.  As a side note, when I got to the car, I asked Cliff to spell world backward; he too forgot the "r".

But when Samantha came in, she said, "I don't think you have dementia.  I think you have depression."  

Well, I already knew that, but isn't that part of dementia?  

She assured me I was not ready to be tested.  She said people start wondering if they have it, and then worry about it.

I recently read Michael J. Fox's latest, and probably last, book, about his challenges with Parkinson's disease:  He was diagnosed at age 29, thirty years ago.  If you think you have it bad, please read his book.  At this point, he can no longer act; but back when he was playing a villain on "The Good Wife" showing obvious symptoms of his awful disease and managed to make me laugh, he became my hero (here I am welling up with tears again).  He is my inspiration whenever I get down and out. 

Rejoice with me, dear followers.  I'm not headed for the funny farm yet.  But would somebody please pass the tissues?

Saturday, April 10, 2021


Ever since we bought our first Gateway computer in 1998, I have fought with passwords; they have been the bane of my existence.  How on earth, I thought, is someone supposed to keep track of all those passwords on all those websites?  I'd keep a notebook beside the computer and write them all down.  Then I'd lose the notebook, or a page from a notebook, and have to make a new password to write down.  Although I knew you are supposed to use a different password for every site, but I ignored that advice and used something I might remember on several websites; that way I could remember it without having to look it up.

If only I had used Google twenty-five years ago and searched something like, "I keep losing my passwords".  About six months ago, I learned that all my passwords were stored within the browser of my computer.  I imagine most of you have known this for years, but not this dummy!  I don't even know how I found this out, but somehow I stumbled onto it and wondered why I didn't at least ask someone knowledgeable.

Well, there is a simple answer:  I was embarrassed by my ignorance.  My "someone knowledgeable" would be my daughter, Rachel.  In the beginning I was asking her questions all the time, and she'd show me what to do.  But she has a busy life and a job that includes working on a computer all day, and I felt bad using up her spare time so often.  I decided to live in ignorance and hope my computer didn't explode.  She had never complained, at least to me.  I just felt bad about bothering her when she worked so hard.

Fast-forward twenty-three years.  However it happened, I found out if I clicked on the word "Chrome" at the top of my Chrome browser, then clicked on "preferences", I only had to type in my computer password and it showed me all my passwords, even on sites I hadn't used in years.  What a life-changer!  I still had an occasional problem, though.  

I use two different browsers:  Chrome used to be my browser of choice, but after I went to the dark side (Apple) I decided to use Safari, the browser that comes with a Mac.  However, there seemed to be some things that just worked better on Chrome, so I installed it too, and now I switch back and forth a lot.  Here's another thing I recently figured out:  If you change a password on Safari, that does not change the same password on Google Chrome.  You have to go find your password on Safari and copy-and-paste it to Chrome preferences.  I figured that out all by myself, and felt like I had discovered gold.

You see, when I learned that my browser saves the passwords for me, I began using the "safe" passwords that are a mile long with letters, numbers, one capital letter, etc., so I'm less likely to have my computer hacked.  I don't have to type them out and save them on paper.  

If you are wondering why I use two browsers, it's mainly because of blogs... the ones I read and also my own blog.  Google owns the Chrome Browser; Blogger is also a Google product.  Chrome has many features on blogs that don't even show up on Safari.  If I'm reading other people's blogs, half the time I can't comment unless I'm on Chrome; I can't tell you how often I type in a two-paragraph comment when I'm using Safari, try to post it, and it won't post.  On Chrome, that has never happened.  Live and learn.

On the bright side, I'll be seventy-seven years old in July, and I'm still learning new things.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

How I spent Easter

There was no big Easter dinner at our house.  I made chili Saturday and we had enough left over for Sunday; not a traditional Easter dinner, for sure, but at least I didn't feel overstuffed and tired when all was said and done.  No children were here to hunt eggs; grandchildren and their families had other plans, and our daughter and her husband did their own thing like we did.

But I had a great Easter!  The Baptist Church I attend always goes to the Corps of Engineers park, next to the Missouri River, for a sunrise service.  So I left Cliff in bed and the preacher's wife picked me up.  I'm about halfway between their house and the park, so it was on their way.  The morning was cool, but not bad, especially after the sun got high enough to warm us up.  


The park is right beside a railroad track, the same one that runs along the back of our property.  We had one train go rumbling past during the service, which stopped us for awhile; it was a long train!  Another passed by as we finished up.  

I was dropped off at home, where I spent an hour or so with Cliff before he took me to town to the Methodist church; when those services were over, I walked three blocks to the Baptist Church.  Cliff and Gabe picked me up there  at 11:30 and we went back home.   I am a loner, but I do like being around some real people every once in awhile; and both small churches are attended by some very nice folks.

Yesterday we went to pick up our grandson and his girl friend at the airport.  They had gone to Georgia for Easter weekend to visit his dad (our son).  

I finally got over myself for fretting over money I don't even feel I should be receiving (and yet covet earnestly).  I am more fragile of spirit these days than I used to be, and I let myself get downhearted at the silliest things.  The shut-down we've had, the never knowing what's really going to happen with this terrible virus, have contributed to some of my current negativity.  I'm sure I'm not the only one.  Oh, and the political climate of the past year didn't help.  

I think perhaps we've come to a "new normal".  If so, I had better learn to adapt.  I'll survive a while longer, as long as my two churches don't close their doors again.

"We're all just walking each other home."  That's a quote by Ram Dass, and I love the picture those words paint.  I think of the blogs I read:  The joys, the pains, the routines, the lives shared.  Truly, we are walking home together as we share pieces of our lives with one another.   

Monday, April 05, 2021

Summer weather, a bit too soon

We haven't had much rain this spring.  We were borderline dry last spring, summer and fall, but the rains that came seemed to come at just the right time for crops, and plants lived and prospered.   Now we're supposed to have temperatures in the 80's.  I always hate to see the weather get hot so soon because that sometimes turns things into a dust bowl, when it isn't raining.  Oh well, you can't do anything about the weather.  

I allowed my day to be ruined this morning.  I woke up expecting to see both our stimulus checks in the bank, since the government site informed me they'd be in the bank today.  Cliff's was there, mine wasn't.  I had already been wondering if something was off, because ever since we got word last Wednesday, the checking account showed $1,400 pending.  My Social Security funds, and also the previous stimulus checks, went into a savings account, but nothing was pending on that account.

I called the bank this morning, waited on hold for 20 minutes, then took them up on their offer of a call-back.  I give them my name and number, they were supposed to get back to me.  Sure enough, I got my call after 15 minutes or so.  I explained what happened to a lady; she said she needed to check some things and said "Please hold for two or three minutes."

Half an hour later, I got sick of listening to that awful "music" they play as one waits and just hung up.  I called again later, asked for a callback, and washed my dishes while I waited.  Got the call, told my sad story to yet another lady.

I let myself get progressively worked up emotionally while all this went on.  I didn't scream at anybody, but I could have cried a few times.  And it was all my fault.  Not that I did anything to make things happen, but I allowed myself to get upset.

The second lady found the problem.  Somehow my savings account number had been treated as a checking account number, which made it invalid.  The problem is solved, and my stimulus money will be ready to spend on Wednesday, but I'm still a mess.  Please understand, we are not used to being handed free money we didn't work for, so it's a big deal in our lives.  For what it's worth, I think somebody's crazy to send money to everyone like they've been doing; we will pay for it as we watch our dollar shrinking.

I must have turned into my mother, or maybe it's just an old person's mental state in general:  every mole hill seems to turn into a mountain in my feeble hands.  I am scared to take my blood pressure right now.  That's what greed will do to a person.

I do feel better, though, now that I've told the whole world my troubles.  Thanks for listening reading, and have a good day, my faithful readers.    

Friday, April 02, 2021

You may not see me for awhile

I've been sort of messing around with genealogy lately.  You really can't do much with it unless you pay a bunch of money so you can use one of the websites, so I wasn't getting far and, actually, pretty much gave it up.  Cliff's brother was here yesterday and said one of his granddaughters was trying to get some family tree exploration done as quickly as possible; she was given a two-week trial on Ancestry, and she doesn't intend to pay for a year when she's done with the trial.  I wanted to tell Phil some of my (few) discoveries on Ancestry, so I came in the house and looked for the person I was telling him about.  It must have been my lucky day, because I, too, received the two-weeks-free offer.

It's a whole different world!  My family tree is growing all by itself!  Okay, I do have to add them myself, but WOW.  

The timing is excellent, because Cliff sold a couple of old Oliver tractors he was going to use as a project last fall.  After buying his John Deere cab tractor, he lost all enthusiasm for projects.  He's sold both tractors, I think... I may come back later and tell you something different on that score.  Anyhow, after he sold the first tractor, he gave me half the money; actually, he begged me to take it.  He's offered some of his tractor money to me before, but I've always steadfastly held my ground and refused.  He seemed so serious about it this time, I accepted without too much fuss, just this once.  

Here's the thing:  I don't need anything, and I really can't think of much I want for any price.  So I decided to have some fun:  "Now that I have some money, I'm going to get another Schnauzer so Gabe will have a buddy."  "I know what I'll do... I'll buy some baby chickens!"  He only puts up with a dog in the house for my benefit; he doesn't care if he ever has a dog, and he would rather not have one in the house even if he did.  And he gets tired of having to set up a chicken house and all that entails. 

But today?  I'll see how this free trial goes, and perhaps pay them for six months at a reduced rate.  I asked Cliff if that was OK, and he said he didn't  care how I spent the money.  Trust me, he cared when I threatened to get another dog, or more chickens.

Wouldn't it be fun if I could trace my family clear back to my favorite king, Alfred the Great?  For it to be legitimate, though, people at a university need to find his bones and perhaps get DNA; click HERE to read about that.  

What I've found out is that a family tree almost builds itself when you can access the whole website, although I think it would be awfully easy to mess up, if one simply adds every suggestion they give you.

So if I disappear for awhile, it's because I'm hunting down a very prolific, apparently pretty lusty group of people.  And there are STORIES!  Also BIRTH CERTIFICATES!

That's what I'm up to.  Keep in mind, though, that my enthusiastic labors can evaporate and disappear at any moment.  Just put something shiny in front of me and I'm apt to head in another direction.

Obviously, one of the idiots who drove me off Facebook is now spamming my blog on each new entry.  I will be deleting his comment each day, but you may see the comment before I get rid of it.  Just so you know.  Doggone it, I can't unfriend him from my blog.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

little tidbits from my life, in no particular order

 I finally spoke to the neighbor whose German Shepherds kept coming over to use my yard for a toilet and then proceed to try and kill my dog, Gabe.  She said she'd keep them up, then told me my three chickens had been coming over there.  I told her I'd find a home for the chickens, and within two days, the chickens were gone.  A few days later, the dogs are running loose again a lot of the time.  I chased one home yesterday. 

I am really content with the home I found for the chickens, though:  A young woman who grew up next door was glad to take them.  She said her oldest daughter, maybe eight years old, had been wanting chickens.  When she brought our cage back a week later, she said both hens now come running up to them and they can pick them up any time.  So so my coronavirus hens have made a little girl very happy.  I do miss my fresh eggs; believe me, there's a difference between really fresh eggs and eggs from the store.

This morning when I was practicing my left-handed writing, I reached a milestone:  I noticed I was writing at about the same speed I use with my right-hand.  Go, me!  It shouldn't have taken me that long, but I wasn't writing enough every day to improve.  Once I started writing about what I read in the Bible every day, it's like a switch turned on in my mind (or in my hand?) and everything worked properly.

I have met some challenges left-handers face, though:  Spiral notebooks!  What an aggravation.  My left had has to try and write neatly while laying on metal spirals.  I found out they make left-handed spiral notebooks and went as far as adding it to my Amazon cart; then I realized that since I use both sides of a sheet of paper in a spiral notebook because I'm cheap, I would be dealing with the metal on one side anyway.  Duh.

My dog knows a lot of human words that most dogs don't.  For instance, if I've been sitting down for awhile when he asks to be taken out, I will have to go pee first, because my bladder is the same age of the rest of my body.  As I get out of my chair, I'll tell him I have to go to the bathroom first, and he will head down the hall to the bathroom before I am fully standing, to monitor my activity.  And he has finally learned to go where I point when I see him going the wrong direction; some dogs seem to know this instinctively. but Gabe had to learn it.

  I always put the shock collar on him to go on my walk now, and seldom have to use it.  Even when I do use it, I use the "vibrate", not the shock, unless he is about to go somewhere he could be run over or get hurt.  When that happens, I yell "no" and use the shock.  I've only done that two or three times, and it isn't turned up nearly all the way.  He enjoys our walks in the pasture so much more now, because he can run around in my vicinity without having to walk at my slow pace.  If I see him getting too far away, I'll either call him to me saying "come" or else I'll have him sit/stay until I get closer.  He minds very well with the collar on.  Without it, he might obey, but he's like a two-year-old child.  I'll say, "Gabe, come!"  He'll turn and start to come, but then he will stop and smell something, and I'm once again hollering "come" several times.  But I sure am glad the collar lets him off the leash, because I don't worry about him seeing a rabbit or a strange cat and disappearing into the woods for hours.

I have let my cat in the house all winter because my cousin told me they don't shed in winter.  Sure enough, cat hair was not a problem at all.  But yesterday Cliff came in the door for dinner saying, "The cat's shedding."  I asked which cat, and he said Blue.  "How do you know?" I asked.  "I was petting him, and hair went everywhere," says my husband  So, those of you who thought he'd be a house cat forever will now find out you were wrong.  We are going to put the Igloo Cooler on the porch away, too... the one Cliff turned into a winter cat-bed.  They both still use it on cool days and nights, but they don't need it, and it needs to be off the porch.  It was a great solution for those below-zero temperatures.

The strangest thing in the previous paragraph is that Cliff admitted he was petting a cat.  When we got married and bought our first twenty-acre farmette, I had another Mama Kitty living at my parents' house; I had tried to keep her in my apartment, but that cat had been raised outside and didn't like being a house cat, so my parents took her.  Cliff and I bought our first country home and I claimed my cat.  Cliff hated her, and all cats; he considered them creepy.  He thought their purring was actually a growl.  Since my cat had been a house cat, once in awhile she would sneak in when somebody was opening the door:  He would hiss at her loudly and shove her out with his foot!  Once he saw her killing a rat about half her size, he gained respect for her.  But we have been married fifty-four years, soon fifty-five; and I don't think he ever petted a cat in his life until Blue came along.  Blue has even been on his lap a couple of times.  The cat's personality makes it hard not to like him.  

The grandson wants better fence around this place he bought from us, and it definitely needs it.  He and Cliff and the next-door neighbor are going to be putting new fence up between our place and theirs.  He's willing to buy fence and do his part on his section, so they have already done a little bit of "getting started".  Arick gets home from work before 3 PM, so he and Cliff can get a lot done before bedtime.  It doesn't look like rain will stop them; there aren't many rain chances in the next ten days.  It seems every year we start out with a rain deficit, then barely get enough rain to grow the crops all summer.  Global warming, maybe.

Is that enough trivia for you?  Cliff's on the exercise bike, so he won't be proof-reading it for 20 minutes or so.  I always proof-read it too, but I usually miss something.  Sometimes we both do.  

Enjoy this spring day.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Choosing books for myself and my husband

There was a time Cliff would spend a whole winter day reading library books on my oldest iPad.  These days, he only reads when he spends his half-hour on the recumbent bike, or when he is waiting in the car for me while I'm shopping or waiting for an appointment somewhere.  His eyes bother him if he reads too much, so that may be why he doesn't read as much as he used to.  Or perhaps the pull of the Internet has a stronger magnetic field that lures him away (been there, done that).  Since he does read so infrequently, and I'm the one choosing books for him, this presents two problems:  First, the library only allows three weeks to read a book, then it automatically returns itself to the library.  I've managed this slight problem by only choosing books at least three years old, so there is usually a library copy available, and a good chance that he can renew his loan if he isn't finished in three weeks.  That way, if he hasn't finished the book in 3 weeks, I can simply check it out again for him.

Since I'm left with the job of choosing what he reads, I am beginning to understand his interests.  He just finished a book I had read and enjoyed, "We Were Rich and We Didn't Know it" By Tom Phelan.  It's a biography of a man's childhood in Ireland.  He liked it as much as I did.

My husband will sometimes read one of my John Sandford books for a change of pace, but he prefers non-fiction, especially biographies.  Yesterday he got on the bike with the iPad and found he had reached the end of his book; I was at church; so he got off the bike, because nobody can stand the boredom of an exercise bike unless he is reading a book or watching TV, something to pass the time.  In the car when he picked me up at church, he said, "I need a new book."  So this morning I surfed my way to the 2015 New York Times Best-seller list, because six-year-old books are no longer among best sellers.  I checked to make sure the library still had the book I was choosing; it was available, so I got it for him.  I'm pretty sure he'll enjoy it.  He seems to like books about generals and wars.  I choose my own books the same way, but mine are mostly fiction.  I very seldom end up with a book I don't like when I choose a former best seller with good ratings.  Amazon even tells me a little about the book, and whether it sounds like something I'd enjoy.   This is why I never cared for Amazon's free-to-read books:  They have never had the books I am looking for.    

Cliff does know how to return a digital book, and he can check a new book out.  But he doesn't type, so he's a slow surfer (one finger).  He would never have the patience to research his books and find something he's fairly certain to enjoy.  I don't mind looking for books for him; in some small way it's one way to pay him back for all those years he was working at a job and I was at home playing with my cows and bobby calves (male baby calves you buy from a dairy when they are 3 days old).  When I get grumpy with him (it happens), I remind myself once again of all the work he did while I was gardening, canning, or tending animals.  I didn't even consider what I was doing "work", because it was fun.  This is also why I'm so diligent to see that he has some money to spend on whatever he wants, these days.  I remember those weeks when he only had gas money to get to and from work. 

I just now got up and let Blue, the cat, inside to eat.  He isn't going to be much of a house cat now that spring is here.  He stays outside all day, hunting birds and moles.  Oh, and since I tilled the garden, he thinks he has the biggest, best sandbox ever.  He and Gabe frolic around me and have a blast when I'm in the garden.

Yesterday Blue was trying to catch a sparrow that was in a tree tormenting him.  He was almost at the top of the tree, trying his best.  Cliff got the rifle and shot the sparrow for him, which made his day.  About that time Gabe and I went outside, Gabe saw the cat eating something and ran over and got a bite of... sparrow?  I ran limped over and pried his mouth open to see.  He must have swallowed it, right?  Well, apparently he got a mouth full of feathers when I wasn't looking, because the next morning I went into my she-room (guest bedroom) and there were little bird feathers all over the carpet.  Schnauzers have that beard that somehow disguises the fact that they have a mouthful of something nasty, and he's always sneaking something in.  Usually, it's an entire mole, totally hidden in Gabe's mouth.

We're going to have a windy-but-sunny day, high of 72.  

I'll take it.

P.S.  I guess he's going to like the book I checked out for him.  It's five minutes to eight, and he's been reading since 7:30.  He was only checking to see if it would work for him, but he's still at it.  My work is done.  :D


Friday, March 26, 2021

I build walls

I'm always telling people I'm not normal.  I realize everybody is different from everyone else in many ways, but I'm "more different" than most and was probably born that way.  Living in Guss, Iowa, for the first seven years of my life put me in isolation simply because Guss was an unincorporated little burg with about 15 or 20 residents, and very few children.  Oh, there were two little boys across the road around my age, but who wants to play with boys?  Actually, I played with them quite a bit, because my parents and their parents played cards often.  However, at some point some hard feelings must have arisen between those neighbors and my parents, because it seems they cut all lines of communication.  I wasn't ever told why, but my mother said things many years later.  I think perhaps she might have said something behind their backs that hurt their feelings, but I really don't know.

The thing is, since I had few other children around, I learned to like being alone.  I'm sure when I got together with other children, I lacked many of the social graces (I still do).  Children aren't shy with their words to others, and can be very critical.  I learned at school that I talked too loud, and repeated certain words too much.  I began building walls then; I made myself as invisible as possible, minded my own business, and went home to happily play pretend games by myself, at home.

We moved to Missouri, away from the one-room schoolhouse.  Eagleville is a small town with a small school, but it was big compared to what I was used to.  There were a lot more children to deal with.  If we played any game at recess where sides were chosen, I was one of the last picks.  Always.  It didn't matter, because I was invisible.  I never ate in the lunchroom at school.  We moved to Kansas City and I ended up in one of the largest schools in the state at the time, North Kansas City High School.  With the exception of two girl cousins my age, I had not one real friend.  Don't feel sorry for me, because truthfully that's how I was most comfortable, behind my walls.

Nowadays when I read blogs, I notice most women like to run around with girl friends to movies, or shop together and eat out.  I don't like shopping, I'd rather watch movies at home, and I don't eat out all that much.  You see, I practiced being invisible starting with the first day of school in Iowa and have really gotten skilled at it.  

I have had close lady friends:  Carol, Terri, Shirley.  Two of those have died.  But even with them, I ended up distancing from them at some point, although we'd still talk if the occasion arose.  I did consider them "best friends".  But I built my usual wall, so we didn't get too close; if I get too close, I'll get hurt.  My mind knows this isn't the way it should be, but I've trained for invisibility for almost 77 years, and it's all I know.

I think perhaps I began blogging so I could tell stories while remaining invisible. 

I'm just keeping it real, folks.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Just ramblings

This is the theme song of a funny show we're watching on netflix Amazon; I think it's going to become my personal theme song. It makes me happy.  If you're wondering who the people are in the video, they are the stars of the show, "New Tricks".  The song was written by one of them, Dennis Waterman.  Don't be surprised that it's another British show.  My DNA is over 90% British.   

We had Thai food yesterday for the first time and enjoyed it.  It's in Blue Springs, 25 miles away, so I also got some groceries at Aldi; that's closest one from our house.  I hate to make a dead-end trip if we can't do two or three things to justify it.  

This is my spicy JalapeƱo beef and pad Thai

Here's Cliff's plate.  He had pad Thai and cashew chicken.  We got different things so we could try one another's food.  The lunch menu was reasonably priced, even for us cheapskates.

I cannot believe how fast time flies every day.  I would have guessed old people would be bored, and time would drag.  I don't do a lot around the house except cook and clean up the mess afterward, but I still seem to always be doing something that cuts into my playtime.  This morning I was up around 4 AM.  I always read my daily portion in the one-year Bible, and now I summarize what I read in a notebook just so I'll have my left-hand-writing practice every day.  That takes some time, but I still enjoy my Bible.  I  eat my breakfast by 5 AM because I'm hungry.  I often make grits and put them in the refrigerator to heat up later, so I might have a small bowl of that.  I like cereal pretty well too, and will eat that occasionally.  Sometimes I just eat enough to satisfy me until I wake Cliff up at seven, then eat with him.  Of course, since I take omeprazole first thing out of bed, I must eat something within 15 or 20 minutes; usually I grab a couple of saltines for my "something".  The nurse-practictitoner insists that's how it needs to be taken.  If I get up and feel any faint burning in my esophagus, I take two.  That happens about once a week.  I have learned to pay attention to my stomach!  

I'm still reading about King Alfred the Great; he had stomach troubles that plagued him all his life.  Experts today think he had Crohn's disease.  The pain was so terrible that even when it wasn't hurting him, he lived in dread that it could hit him at any time.  I know that dread, although thank the Good Lord I do not have anything as bad as Crohn's.  I worked with a lady whose husband had Crohn's; it's an awful affliction.

I got Cliff fed and coffee'd up, washed dishes, made up my mind what we'll have for dinner, cleaned the top of the kitchen range I love so well.  I didn't think I liked the black top of it, but that is the easiest-cleaning stovetop I've ever had.  I had sort of ignored it for a couple of days, but I cleaned it up this morning.

Don't look too close though, because I still have to clean off the front around the knobs.  That's bread pudding sitting there for dessert later.  I tasted it and left the teaspoon in the corner, thinking Cliff might want a bite for a preview, but he is waiting until he can have a whole (small) serving.  I had some stale hamburger buns, but I also had to use two slices of bread to make four cups.  I don't make this dessert very often.

It's about time to get dinner started now, so I'll get busy.  It seems to take me longer to prepare meals than it used to.

Here's something I read in Proverbs yesterday:  "Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you."  Proverbs 11:17, New Living Translation

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Hope for people who can't hear

My husband has had quite a journey with his deafness.  It began when tinnitus that was gifted to him instantly, suddenly, out of the blue, on his way home from work one midnight.  One second his ear was fine, the next second his left ear was ringing so loudly it affected his hearing in both ears.  That was back when I had my first computer, a Windows 98 Gateway.  I googled everything having to do with tinnitus and found it's caused by not protecting your ears from loud noises; many people suffer from the condition, and there's no cure.  I read that some people keep a radio playing in the background so they won't notice the ringing in their ears; I bought him a Sirius radio for his shop; that thing plays "Willie's Place" all day long most every day and is probably the most-used gift I ever gave him.  If he only goes to the shop for 15 minutes in the morning, he'll often leave it playing all day. 

I asked doctors if they could do anything for tinnitus, but there's no cure.  Oh, you'll find things on the Internet that mention cures, but good luck with that.

We couldn't afford the top-rated hearing aids back then, so he started out with one hearing aid for his right ear, the cheapest model they had at the high-dollar hearing aid place.  When they tested the left ear, there just wasn't enough hearing there to work with.  That $800 hearing aid pulled in background noises, so even if Cliff tried to talk to one person in a crowd, the noise from everybody else talking drowned them out.  We started using closed captions back then, and although I don't think my hearing is too bad, it seems I have come to depend on it by association.

Because of having only one hearing aid, Cliff couldn't tell which direction noises were coming from, with or without his hearing aid; it was a little funny when I'd yell at him from the east and he'd turn his head every other direction before he located me.  You need two good ears to detect where sound is coming from.  Not that it mattered much, because he seldom wore the hearing aid, only putting it in when he was desperate to hear something.  It seemed to be his cross to bear for the rest of his life.  What a lousy break, right?  If you can't participate in conversations and all you can reply is, "What?", it's embarrassing.  Cliff would sit and say nothing; others assumed he was just quietly listening.

At the time he got his first hearing aid, he got the only kind we could afford; there were other, better ones, but prices went up to about $3,000 for only one ear.  A Facebook friend told me Costco sold hearing aids at much cheaper prices.  We had a little more money to spend this time, so I urged Cliff to get a new one at Costco.  As before, the lady said they couldn't do anything about the right ear, so he was getting only one for his right ear, again.  I don't remember what it cost at the time, but it worked much better and cost no more than his first useless one; it fit sort of behind his ear instead of inside it, and there was a button to tap if he wanted to shut down background noise.  It wasn't ideal, but it was enough of an improvement that he wore it most of the time, and he certainly did hear better with it.

A couple of times he went back to Costco and they'd tune it up to help him ; obviously if they had to do that, his hearing was getting worse.  When he went for the second tuneup, the lady wanted to test his  left ear again, and this time they were able to sell him a second hearing aid for that ear that worked so well, the difference was like night and day.  The next time he went back, they tuned it as high as it would go, and it was showing some wear and tear.  Time for a new set.

Now, all this time I was convinced that eventually my husband would get so hard of hearing, he'd get to the point he couldn't hear at all and hearing aids wouldn't work.  But the lady at Costco assured him that hearing aids are getting better all the time.  I think this set was something like $1,800 for both, maybe a little less than that.  His hearing is unbelievably better.

I wish I had known the future of his hearing journey when it first began, but I simply saw him getting deafer and isolated as he aged.  I am so very thankful that hearing aids get better all the time, while at the same time becoming cheaper.  I worried for no reason, but that isn't unusual for me.  

All my uncles (farmers with noisy tractors), had impaired hearing as they aged, and I think they all had hearing aids eventually.  I remember aunts complaining, "He refuses to wear his hearing aids," or, "Those things won't do him any good in his shirt pocket!"

If only they'd known.  But I don't suppose the improvements would have come soon enough for them.  

Technology rocks!

Monday, March 22, 2021

I don't garden the way I used to

 We had a lovely visit with our daughter, her husband, and granddaughter Natalie with her son, Ivan.  I went out and got my short row of spinach planted.  I've only planted cool-weather crops, which can usually survive even a frost or light snow.  Every year I check the Missouri Extension service guide that tells when to plant various vegetables in central Missouri (THIS LINK).  Some things, like lettuce, spinach, and peas, won't do well at any other time of year; You have to plant them early.

I used to have huge gardens, canning and freezing huge amounts of food.  No more!  Two old people don't really eat enough to worry about doing all that work.  Last year at the beginning of the pandemic I saw an ad on Facebook Marketplace, someone wanting to buy some fruit jars.  I contacted them and told them I'd give them mine, free.  Oh, I held back a few in case the urge to can something hit me (unlikely); I even gave them my big pressure canner, but kept the smaller one... again, just in case.  As I tell Cliff often when I'm starting another garden, "I don't even know if I'll keep up with the garden, or whether it might be my last one."

I've learned to allow myself to change horses in midstream.  

My tomatoes always get blight.  I've seen all the things you can do to keep blight away, but I don't have enough energy for that, so I plant three or four plants that don't die as fast as the older strains, and hope for the best.  Some years we have tomatoes for the table for three weeks, then blight kills them.  The last couple of years we've had tomatoes to eat fresh most of the summer, although they got pretty ugly at the end of season.  I still remember the first year I dealt with tomato blight:  It was 1980, we were renting out the house here and living at Oak Grove (long story) and I didn't know what was wrong with my poor plants.  Before that, any tomatoes I grew were perfect!  Where did it come from?  One year in the 70's I had so many tomatoes I was hauling them to work in five-gallon buckets for people who wanted some to can.  Those were the days. I do put the tomatoes in a different place every year; I don't even plant peppers where tomatoes were the previous year, because peppers will die from blight too.  

These days I make no plans to can tomatoes, although last year I had some to freeze, which was nice when I made chili.  One or two plants would keep us eating fresh tomatoes daily if it weren't for blight, but since it's out there, I usually plant three or four.  I'm trying to plant small amounts of most things at different times.  For instance, I'm only planting two cabbages now, but in three weeks or so, I'll plant a couple more.  I plant one small row of green beans, then three or four weeks later, another row.  I like to be eating fresh things from the garden all summer.

In this business of getting old, a lot depends on keeping up my strength and keeping down the arthritis pain as much as possible.  Arthritis is a strange bird.  The same knees that have me limping through a week sometimes, will for no reason at all quit hurting as much for weeks at a time.  There's always pain, but sometimes it isn't so bad.  On the days when it's worse, Tylenol helps.  I appreciate that I can do as much as I do, because my husband suffers a lot more arthritis pain than I do, and there's the asthma he developed in his old age that slows him down.  He is much more limited than I.  

However, he has had a project going for three days out in the shop:  He a took a set of forks for three-point hitch and changed it to a quick-attach hitch for his biggest John Deere, which is a category 2.  That might sound simple, but he has spent about 8 hours a day out there messing with it.  He said he's almost done with it.  When he loads up the bucket in front of the tractor, the back-end of the tractor comes up, even though there's fluid in the tires; so he needs weight on the back end for ballast.  The reason it has taken him so long is that he doesn't buy material to build this sort of thing; he goes to his scrap-metal pile and finds something that might work.  We've lived paycheck to paycheck all our lives, so we have had to adopt the old Depression motto:  "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." 

It's been wonderful!  I love my husband dearly, but I also like having the house to myself sometimes.  He knows that very well, after living with me for almost 55 years.  I'm not sure, but that may be the real reason for his project.

The light wasn't too good with the shop closed up this morning, so I used a flash.  Cliff will toss the weights below on there

And that's what's happening in my neck of the woods.