Blog Archives

Avant Garde

Ah yes. You ask me if “From your musical tastes to your political views, were you ever way ahead of the rest of us, adopting the new and the emerging before everyone else?:.

Yes, yes indeed. When I was 9 years old I was pushed into what they then called the “Mentally Gifted Minors” program at school. I was painfully shy so being pushed to the forefront of anything was a little uncomfortable but I was always wanting to please my parents so I did my best to excel. At 10, all of the MGM students were enrolled in Speed Reading and my already voracious appetite for reading  expanded further. By the age of 11, I beat the rest of my peers in a in class competition that lasted several months. The competition? We were each given fake “money” to spend on the purchase of stocks. We each did our own research by tracking the stocks in the newspaper and at the end of the term the student that had made the most money won. Yup, that was me. The stocks? Xerox. This was in 1971.

Somewhere around 1972 or so, I met Jacques Cousteau and spoke to him personally about his creation, the aqualung. Sea exploration was changed forever and I still have the little cloth patch he gave me.

Within the next few years I met my first computer. It took up a huge amount of our small math classroom and my brain exploded with the possibilities. I was fascinated by the whole thing. It took punch cards and we learned about the room sized machines that were the cutting edge technology of the time. The company….I.B.M.

By the age of 13 I had already seen Dorothy Chandler in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Charlton Heston in The Crucible before most kids even understood what a true theatrical production was. I was entranced. I fell in love with the bigger than life feel of the theater and the magic behind those curtains. I learned the broad scope of the words “The Arts” and my soul became torn between The Arts and The Sciences.

When the first home computers came out, I was already waiting for my opportunity to program my own personal computer. I had an Atari 800 the instant I could convince my husband that this was the way of the future.

Yeah, being a woman and being computer savvy in the late 70’s early 80’s was way before the time of most men. I was in on the early “bulletinboards” and was devouring computer magazines and programming my own computer.

I was a nerd before the word was even invented. Alas, I fell into the trap that so many women before and since have done. I let go of my huge advantage over the masses and became a wife and mother and set my dreams aside. But I have always kept an eye on the techie side of things and I have no regrets over having my children…….the husbands yes….the children no.

C’est la vie

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One Lovely Blog Award

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I have two fellow bloggers to thank for a nomination for the One Lovely Blog Award. The first is Keaneonlife and the second is Carter Vail. I feel honored that both of these talented people liked my blog enough to nominate me. Take some time and check out their blogs!

The one Lovely Blog Award nominations are chosen by fellow bloggers for newer and Up-and-coming bloggers. The goal is to help give recognition and also help the new blogger to reach more viewers. It also recognises blogs that are considered to be “lovely” by the fellow bloggers who choose them.

Now for the rules.

1. Thank the person who nominated you. Thanks again to Keaneonlife and Carter Vail.

2. Add “One Lovely Blog Award” Logo.  Alrighty.

3. Share 7 facts/things about me: Okay, here goes

1) I have had many different pets over my 50 plus years. Dogs (I prefer large breed dogs), cats (I prefer long haired cats), lizards, a pregnant spider (yes really), a Green Wing macaw, a Catalina macaw, a Moluccan Cockatoo and a small Green Cheeked Conure with a Napoleon complex. Currently I share my house with a 120 lb. Great Pyrenees mix that thinks he is a lap dog. I have been having yearnings for a kitty since mine passed away last year.

2) I have had my fight with the big C (breast cancer) and won.

3) My favorite color is purple and I love shiny things. If it is shiny AND purple…..well consider it MINE!

4) I am a gamer girl. I love computers and online games. They are my guilty pleasure. I play World of Warcraft, Wildstar, Elder Scrolls Online…..well you get the picture. Yup, Grynnie is a NERD

5) I have lived in California, Mississippi, Nebraska, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, Texas and Missouri. I am currently located in California but who knows what the future holds?

6) I collect DRAGONS. I am always on the look out for anything dragon related, windchimes, statues, book marks, whatever I can find when I am traveling. Other people collect the little spoons or state shaped magnets when traveling, but I look for some sort of dragon. It isn’t easy but the challenge is part of the fun.

7) I have been to several different therapists over the years when my personal life was getting hard to handle and more than one of the therapists encouraged me to get back to writing. One spent our sessions laughing her butt off and told me that it wasn’t me with the problems, it was the rest of the world. (She still took my money)

4. Nominate 15 bloggers who I admire and inform them by commenting on their blogs. This is a hard one. To pick 15 bloggers I started checking out a lot of the blogs I follow and found quite a few had already been nominated. So I have been doing a lot of reading of new blogs that I haven’t seen before. This requires me to read multiple entries because yeah, I really do read the blogs. I don’t just click follow randomly, I READ. So here goes!

1) Living Life With Chronic Illnesses

2) Fibrodreamer2014

3) God’s Whisper Farm

4) Clowie’s Corner

5) The Life and Times of Miss Lilly

6) Shepherds Grove

7) home is what you make it

8) One flew over the Sterling nest

9) My own private Idaho

10) Slowboat

11) The Road Taken

12) Morning Rounds

13) Heart of a Traveller

14) The Professor & Her Garden

15) The Universe According to Charlie

There Is A Missing Man, Now I Know Where He Is

There was a familiar face on our televisions for years. He snuck in between favorite television shows and was familiar to many a stay at home mom. His sad face as he stared dejectedly at the telephone that never seemed to ring was like seeing a familiar family member. He slowly aged yet that phone never rang.

I realized where he went just today.

He ran for the hills because he knew a million frustrated housewives (and househusbands…..) are out to kick his lying ass for fibbing to us all those years!

Who is he? The freaking Maytag Repairman! That bastard. All those years of claiming to be sooo darn lonely because he never got called to fix a Maytag appliance. It was all a big fat hairy LIE! Maytag sucks beyond belief. And I suck for buying into the lie!

I have been fighting with my washer for awhile now. First it wouldn’t spin, then it wouldn’t drain and spin. Then it would drain on one cycle but not another. The first few times I thought it was a fluke. Then it started happening more often. I thought it was just the heavy cycle so I stopped using that. Then it wouldn’t spin on the “casual” cycle.

Then I would open the darn thing and it would be full of water. I would put it on the drain and spin and have to drain it but the clothes would still have soap so I tried the rinse and spin but no. That wouldn’t work at all. WTF?

The darn thing would make all sorts of clicking and clacking and lock then unlock noises. Lights would flash both red and green and I consulted Maytag. I hate Maytag. They talk to you like you are obviously slow.

“My washer won’t drain and spin.” Me

“Is it plugged in?” evil Maytag woman

“Of course it is plugged in.”  well duh

“Does it fill with water?” evil Maytag woman

“Why do you think I want it to drain?” ummm another duh

“Does the Lid Lock Light come on?” (by the way, that is almost impossible to say without twisting your tongue, but she made it sound easy)

“you mean the annoying red light? Yeah that sucker comes on and off and on and off and makes lots of clicking noise then stays on after the rest of the machine shuts off and holds my clothes hostage inside. I had to unplug the machine to get it to turn off then plug it back in and then it went off and unlocked the lid.”

“Well there you go” she says

“What?”

“That’s probably the problem.”

“WHAT?” I know that she heard me, but I had to raise my voice to let some of the steam escape lest my brain explode.

Now she is speaking slowly again

“That was probably the problem, your lid lock light lights up when the lid is locked and that is the noise you hear.”

By now I want to bang my head against the wall or better yet bang her head against the wall. I am gritting my teeth and I can already feel the clicking in my jaw.

“That wasn’t the problem, the problem is that my clothes are very, very wet and I don’t want to burn out my MAYTAG FREAKING DRYER because my clothes are too wet.”

Heavy sigh on her end. “Ma’am the light indicating the lid is locking is lighting up and the lid is locking and unlocking so the washer won’t spin when it is off.”

Huh?

Now me, slowly….”Soooo, you are saying that the lit lid locking light means that it can spin and if the lid locking light isn’t lit then it can’t spin?” I was really proud that I actually got that out…..I’m pathetic.

“Exactly.”

“So you are saying that it is a faulty switch?” Me

“Possibly, or it could be the board”.

Now I am a total nerd so I know that once we start talking computer boards I might as well buy a new washer and since this one had been purchased new 3 years ago and had only washed my clothes for 3 years all my faith in that lonely repairman flew straight out the window. That bastard.

She rather smugly informed me that my washer was no longer covered by warranty but I could pay $75 for a repairman to come out to investigate the matter and that if it was the board they could credit the $75 toward a new washer or toward the parts should I give the go ahead to make a repair.

I declined and turned to Youtube. I almost wished I hadn’t. I found complaint after complaint about the Maytag Centenniel Commercial Washer FOR THE EXACT SAME THING.

How is this possible? It is obviously a known issue but apparently I am not the only person that was tricked by those lonely Maytag Repairman commercials. That bastard…..gonna keep saying it…..makes me feel better.

I did learn that I can run a self diagnostic test (which was fun…nerd remember?) and after messing with it a bit I got it working and managed to reset it. I have no doubt I am going to continue to have additional problems with it but thanks to Youtube I now know how to replace the lid locking assembly all by myself and I now know that if the lid locking light isn’t lit I need to fiddle with the lid locking mechanism until the lid locking light is lit.

I need to go take some aspirin now.

Love and Pepper Spray

Sometimes love is shown with flowery hearts and large boxes of expensive chocolates. Other times it is in the words printed and embellished on heavy card stock and given to you on Valentine’s Day or other holidays.

For me LOVE  was shown with a late night gift of a pink canister of pepper spray. IMG_0266 (2)

First let me say that I am very grateful to even have a roof over my head. My income of $1013 per month (after they take my payment for my Medicare out of my disability payments) is right at what is considered the Poverty Level cutoff in the U.S. The fact that I am able to purchase my home is due to the fact that my mother and step-father happened to own a rental house that had recently become vacant. No bank would be crazy enough to loan $60,000 to me with that kind of income.

I love my house. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms a yard that is fenced in with chain link fencing in the back. That keeps the coyotes that wander through the open lots behind my house, away from my yard. For me it is the perfect size to allow me to have friends and family come visit should they so desire.

HOWEVER…..this is a big however here, the area has slid downhill in the years since my step-father started buying houses to fix up and rent out. Years ago there were grand plans for California City, or Cal City as it is known to the locals. At one time the area was booming with Aerospace being a big draw for young families to come and live and work in the area. We are fairly close to Edwards Air Force Base and both military families and civilian support staff as well as employees for the big aerospace companies flocked to the area looking for affordable housing and a shorter commute to work. My step-father worked for JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) yeah he was an actual honest to goodness rocket scientist!

The economy in the area has been circling the drain for quite awhile now. Jobs out here are practically non-existent. The local paper’s job section is rarely more than one column and most of that is space fillers. As I was writing this I checked online with the local paper, The Mojave Desert News and found zero jobs and no classified ads at all. That tells you a lot. The local news includes details as to why Sex Offender Laws are being repealed because the city is afraid they will be sued by sex offenders. Really? The actual law that they repealed? One concerning Halloween…..The law prevented sex offenders from decorating their houses in a way that would attract children to them and prevented the sex offenders from leaving their porch lights on (the signal in the U.S. at least, that the home has candy to distribute on Halloween) and from answering their doors to small children as they Trick or Treat on Halloween night.  They are more concerned about what  sex offenders MIGHT do, than they are about protecting the children of the law abiding citizens of the city. Mind you there are no sex offenders protesting the laws, nobody suing the city. They are repealing the law over something that MIGHT happen.

As a parent and a grandparent of small children I am HORRIFIED by this.

But all of this is just another indication of how the area has declined since my mom and step-father left the area and retired to Missouri where my step-father’s family is from. When I visited them here years ago the town was a quaint little desert town with one street light and one main road in and out of town. There were tiny little shops here and there and one small market with the basic necessities. You had to drive 15 miles to get to a decent sized grocery store and that is still the way it is. They did get a Dollar General Market recently but that still has very limited groceries and to get any decent food items you still have to go to Mojave.

There are other more serious indication of decline if you know where to look for them. Now there are graffiti covered stop signs and abandoned, boarded up buildings. If you look up you will see pairs of shoes tied together with the laces and tossed up to hang from telephone lines. I had learned during the years we lived in Las Vegas that this is a gang thing. Yes, gangs have now made their way to small town America all over the map and they have made their way here.

Los Angeles is a mere 108 miles from here and slowly the poverty stricken masses are moving away from the city centers and out to places like Cal City. Section 8 (low income housing subsidy program) residences are common out here and welfare recipients go where the Section 8 housing is.

When I visited here years ago the streets were quiet, people nodded at you in the stores and everything had a clean albeit windswept look to it. Now half of the stores are vacant and trash is blown up against empty store fronts. Where you used to see people riding about in their personal golf carts you now see young punks walking holding their baggy ill fitting jeans and empty shopping carts scattered about empty lots. A visit to the local gas station and liquor store takes longer now as the lines contain many men, young and old alike, purchasing their daily malt liquor.

The gas station on the corner closest to my house has rolling papers and hookahs prominently displayed along with large signs posted everywhere regarding shop lifting.

My son took one look around the town and began asking about the safety here. It was when we stopped to pick up pizza that he finally had confirmation of his suspicions. The chatty cashier at the pizza place confirmed that there had been a drive by shooting as recently as 2 weeks ago. Oh boy, goody. She confirmed all of my son’s worst fears.

And so it was that on this late Friday night, my son and I drove to Rite-Aid on the corner of our only 4 way light and after telling me to lock my doors, he ran in and bought dear old Mom her first can of pepper spray.

Never have I felt so loved.

91 Days Left Of My 100 Day Challenge & The Adventures of Grynnie and Frosty

When I first read Matthew Trinetti’s There are 100 Days Left In 2014, I was blindsided by the rush of creativity that opened up in my mind. His original article was written when there actually were just 100 days left in 2014 but since I didn’t read it on the day he posted it, it was a few days later so I changed that 100 days left in 2014 to be a 100 day challenge for me to re-boot my life and recharge my creative side. I had just started blogging and was tip toeing through Blog 101 so my challenge to myself was to be creative every day, whether that was an artsy craftsy sort of thing or creating a blog post or story. I knew that I was soon going to be traveling on an “adventure” that was going to cover several months and was tentatively scheduled to be ending around January 3, 2015, so it all fit for me. The pieces slid into place and my mind exploded.

Really that is kind of what it felt like. I felt this total rush of creativity, ideas and colors warred in my brain. I began dragging out the pots and vases that I wanted to use for gardening and floral arranging, I spent hours with a special tool breaking down tiles for mosaics and throughout it all ideas for blog posts and stories flowed through my consciousness.

Some of my ideas require a bit of thought since my body isn’t always up to what my mind wants to do. That might be an understatement. My body is kind of like the lemon of a car bought brand new that breaks on the first day out of warranty. Only my warranty ran out when I was 39 and about to turn 40. Poof. All the parts were kaput. Sigh. All water under an old bridge now. I have spent the last 14, nearly 15 years coming to terms with my limitations.

I now have blisters on my hands from the hours spent breaking those tiles into smaller chunks for the mosaic pots I want to make but I haven’t been able to do the actual gluing and grouting. It is kind of hard to do in a semi-reclined position and since my back has decided this whole “sitting” thing is going to cause my legs and feet to go numb….well it has been a struggle. So I have managed to throw my creative juices into my blogging and reading up on other people’s blogs and on things like formats and following, tagging and categories and all the good stuff I can learn from others. It seems that the artistry that is banging around in my head and is trying to escape is going to have to be patient and play along with my defective body. I will get those projects done, but at a bit of a slower pace. Baby steps. The time spent in my garden and puttering about with my plants when my body could handle it allowed me times to create in my mind. I think of stories and experiences and have lot of thoughts flying about, some worth pursuing and others not really worth much bother at all.

I now have 91 days left of my 100 day challenge and I also have a clearer idea of where I am headed. I have been spending time creating with my garden, propagating plants and researching for next spring but I am actually wrapping things up here for this year. My plants are going to be passed on to others to water for the next couple of months and I will be leaving California in just a few short weeks. The time puttering about helped me plan. There are garden projects that I have spent time researching about and will end up becoming part of my blog once I return from my adventure. Their time hasn’t come yet but I can see the bones of the articles, a framework to be filled in come spring along with the flower and vegetable beds and planters.

So, on to phase 2 of my 100 Day Challenge. Tomorrow will leave me with 90 days left of my challenge and just 15 days left before I leave California City, California (yeah, yeah, that can be abbreviated into CACA and in some ways suits the place) and head out in my old Chevy Blazer, with nearly 300,000 miles on it mind you, and start driving to the Atlanta, Georgia area. Wooo Hooo! I am not moving there, but I am going to be taking an extended vacation there that I have been planning with a very good friend for a couple of years now. My friend is eager to introduce me to his girlfriend and family and I have been hearing about all of them for years now so it is past time to meet them. He is in a much better financial situation than I am so he is picking up my tab. I had to struggle with this for a bit and actually cancelled the trip in the past but as I mentioned before, things just seemed to slide into place and I decided to go for it. Umm yay me?

I am of course taking my trusty laptop with me and am very excited about the prospect of recording my adventures. I won’t be traveling alone, although that would probably be easier since my traveling companion is a 120 lb. lap dog and he doesn’t drive too well. Traveling with a dog can be challenging and traveling with a pony sized dog even more so, but I am actually really looking forward to it. Hopefully I will be able to record some useful tips for others planning on traveling with their furry family members. I have traveled with dogs before, largish dogs but not quite as large as Frosty. Already I have eliminated a lot of places for overnight stays because they limit your dog to a whopping 30 lbs…..gee do you think they would notice the extra 90 lbs?

I have already spoken to my pain doctor, my neuro surgeon and my primary care doctor and have been given a somewhat grudging approval to make the trip. Actually I think they all figured there was no way they were going to be able to prevent me from giving it a shot so they are working with me to make sure I have the proper medications with me and that I don’t end up stranded thousands of miles from home with no meds.

My youngest daughter recently got married in a small intimate setting in Costa Rica. She and her husband planned a reception in their home in Texas and well gee, that just happens to be “on my way” to Georgia. Again, the pieces were all just dropping into place. As I was busy pouring over the various pinterest pages on arts and crafts and gardening, my daughter was posting to pinterest as well with ideas for her reception. I took all of those pages in alongside my gardening ideas. When she brought up me showing up a tad earlier than the rest of the guests to help her with the decorating….well I jumped on that and yet another piece fell into place. Nothing could make me happier than to help her with her reception.

To ease everybody’s stress levels I have been working on a dog sitter for the time of my daughter’s reception and the few days before it and after. I had visions of every comedy movie involving a dog…..dog chases cat through buffet line….dog jumps on wedding cake etc.  As my background picture indicates, I have already had experience with Frosty’s fantastic reach on counters when there is food involved. Thanksgiving a couple of years ago he licked the top of one of the apple pies my granddaughter had made…..or rather he was caught standing above the darn thing looking guilty….it had been on top of the microwave which itself was on top of a high counter. He is taller than me when he stands on his hind legs. Once when I had to be out of town for a week a friend watched him and lost a sandwich and an entire tub of butter to Frosty’s counter grazing ways. I was just glad that Frosty didn’t end up with umm, intestinal distress…..Okay, I was glad he didn’t poop like his turds were greased lightning.

So I found this great app called Bring Fido and a website called Rover.com, that I will be talking about in blog posts in the near future. Monday will be the finalizations for the first leg of the trip and the first installment of the adventures of Grynnie and Frosty. Stay tuned for more canine travel tips and our grand adventure to Georgia.

Halloween, Teens and Party Time

I love this time of the year, Halloween, then Thanksgiving and as the topper, Christmas!

For years our house was the go to place for Halloween in the small town we lived in up in Utah. Flyers were printed, decorations hung in the trees out front, complete with flying witches, ghosts and pirates. We built on to the decoration list each year and each year I called the Domino’s pizza in town and ordered several hundred dollars worth of pizzas. Did I mention the part where the flyers were distributed to the ENTIRE high school? Oh, and there was only one high school in the entire county? My son was a bit of a social animal and always managed to line up a band of some sort. My step-son kinda just went along for the ride, he wasn’t anywhere near as social but he loved the party too. My step-daughter was there for the first party but had moved out and was starting her own family by the time the others rolled around. My other step-son, well we will talk about him some other time because my heart aches to talk about him.

I made little mummy fingers from Vienna sausages, strips of tortillas and ketchup. There were witches hats made from Keebler cookies and Hershey’s kisses. Spiders made from little peanut butter filled crackers with pretzels poked into the sides for legs. There was Jello filled with gummy worms and chocolate pudding and crumbled Oreo’s (graveyard “dirt”) with marshmallows and candy corn. Yeah it was a junk food heaven. (if anybody wants recipes let me know) What more could a teenager want?

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For the punch we had rainbow sherbet mixed with Mt Dew for a cool greenish tinged and quite frankly really gross looking but delicious drink. To give it a little extra pizzazz I dropped a chunk of dry ice down in the bottom for a bubbling smoky looking brew. The kids loved it and I loved seeing the looks on their faces when the fog bubbled up from the bottom of the punch bowl. After the first year I made sure I had extra Mt Dew and sherbet because it went faster than I ever would have dreamed.

Now you might think I was crazy to take all of this on and maybe I was. My ex wasn’t much help when it came to doing….well anything, involved with this party. But I wanted this to be filled with good memories for the kids down the road when they were adults and looked back on their high school years. I did all of this for them.

I am also a realist. These were teenagers and this was a party. The bottom of the flyers had our contact info for the parents of the kids and a brief statement that anybody caught drinking or smoking pot or whatever would be immediately ejected from the party. The flyers also invited the parents to stop by anytime should they wish to. Against my ex’s wishes I also called the Sheriff’s Department that covered our area and invited them to the party as well. Every year. This was clearly stated on the flyer. I know to a lot of people that probably makes me sound like a total party pooper. Well I really don’t care what anybody thinks about that because I took my job as a parent very seriously. My ex….well he had different views. We lived in a very tight knit community where the majority of the residents were Mormon. We were not, but we had relatively good relations with all of our neighbors. I was never really sure what all of the adults thought of the parties but the kids raved about their memories to me on more than one occasion so I was satisfied.

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I have some bittersweet memories of these parties. My sons (yes I looked upon my step-sons as mine as well) had a lot of friends that were frequent visitors in our house and called me “Mom” as they walked in and out of our house on a regular basis. I spent many hours preparing for the parties with my sons and my pseudo sons. The decorations were elaborate as well with the animatronic 6 ft. tall Butler at the door and the motion activated ghosts, witches and pirate tied to the trees, upstairs balcony railing and front porch. There was a fog machine, strobe lights and black lights. By the time that our “guests” started arriving I was usually so exhausted and in so much pain that I personally was unable to really enjoy them.

I was forced into the position of being the party Nazi, walking through all parts of the house, yard and even the street to check the parking situation and make sure nobody was out there drinking or smoking pot. My ex was supposed to share this duty but wasn’t really much help. To this day my heart becomes filled with pain as I recall catching him coming out of our bedroom smelling of pot himself. Parents are supposed to guide their children and show them by example and this was a constant war between us. For the record, at the time of the parties ( I really don’t know the laws now) possession or being under the influence of marijuana was a felony. Utah is harsher than most states.

Our driveway in front of the detached garage became the stage and concert venue and we had strict rules about the noise and the cut off time. I made sure ahead of time that the neighbors knew what to expect. My ex was supposed to be keeping an eye on the bonfire that was in the backyard. This was a popular part of the Halloween party since this was Northern Utah in October and was pretty darn cold most years. My pseudo sons were always very helpful and I loved them more than they will ever know. I thanked them for their help every year but I never told anybody about the physical pain I was in due to my fibromyalgia and my blown disks. I kept soldiering on.

Looking back at the parties I really can’t think of anything I would have done differently except maybe to express my thanks again and again to the kids that helped me set stuff up. I don’t know if I should have told them of my physical pain or not. There was nothing anybody could do.  A couple of years ago when I went to retrieve all of my belongings from the house my ex and his girlfriend now live in, I took all of the Halloween stuff. He said he would never use any of it and so I took everything. He made the nasty remark that he could afford to buy new stuff and I couldn’t. Yeah, real nice.

When I decorate now I have memories of putting up these same items with all of those boys that helped and when I see the looks on the faces of the little kids that come to my door I am happy. I won’t be here at my home this year, I will be on another grand adventure in Georgia, but I am looking forward to decorating again next year.

Day Three – 100 Day Challenge

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For my third day of my 100 Day Challenge I wanted to do something involving color and my gardening together. When I was planting my cactus and succulent  pot the other day I noticed that the majority of empty pots and containers for planting were either plain terra cotta pots or rather dull looking plastic pots in dark green or flat black……bleh…boring.  I have several different plant stands outside made of wrought iron painted the typical black and one painted white…….again boring.

I love color. Bright BOLD colors My kitchen counter is black, as is my sink but my small appliances are bright and cheery and the revolving utensil stand is filled with spoons and spatulas made of all the colors of the rainbow. The bright splashes of color make my eyes happy. When I walk in my kitchen and start using my utensils I feel happiness. Color me happy!

I have a small wrought iron pot holder in a flat ugly black but it is in the shape of a cute little chair. Some of the paint had worn off and rust was poking it ugly head through the paint so I decided my boring terra cotta pot and flat black paint are going to go. I put on my gardening clothes (you know, the old t-shirt with holes and a pair of shorts) and got to work.

When I moved back to California a few years ago from Missouri, my wonderful mom had raided my step-father’s workshop and gathered together stuff she thought I might need in the house that I am buying from them. She packed in paint brushes, tools, screening materials, a saw, a rake, a shovel, well you get the idea. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. I remembered that there was a box that had several cans of spray paint out there somewhere in my garage. I braved the dark corners of the workbench and it’s resident black widow spiders and found a can of spray paint in a lovely aqua.

If you want something to last you have to put a little effort into it. That goes for life as well. I first scrubbed the dirt off the little chair and then spent some time sanding off the rust that had settled in. All of that takes time and all the while my mind is considering how life is a lot like that little rusty chair. In our fast paced society we are coming to expect instant gratification for too many things.  We want our food NOW so we jump in a car and drive through a fast food establishment and sometimes don’t even take the time to sit down and eat there, we are in such a rush that we eat while we drive, always multi-tasking in our efforts to get what we want and get it now. The younger generation takes for granted their possessions and the technology that is handed over to them and are rarely found doing any kind of manual labor to achieve the things they want. It too easy to run out and buy something new and shiny (and usually plastic) to replace the old and rusty rather than to put some work into it and make the old into something new.

All this need for instant gratification results in a certain numbness to the journey. We hook ourselves up with wireless headsets so that we can make phone calls while we drive, we use our computers while we watch TV and more and more you see families in restaurants devoting their time to small electronic devices instead of talking to each other.  As I continued to sand my little chair and then paint it I realized that I too had been spending far too much time glued to my computer instead of actually doing things.

The process of cleaning, sanding and painting the little chair took a bit of time as I also took time between coats of paint to soak and then scrub some small pots to use for the following day’s project. I felt happy to be doing this little project but as I sanded and painted I also became even more aware of the things that had been taken away from me by my body’s limitations. I was exhausted and the position I had to stand in to spray paint the chair was causing my back issues to kick in. Pain was radiating down both legs and my right foot was starting to go numb.

Fibromyalgia together with my herniated disks and my chest pains has kept me in bed on many beautiful days and sometimes the depression takes over and frustration sets in. I have no control over these things other than to take medications to hold the worst of the pain back and to avoid positions that cause extra pressure on my damaged back but I can do my damnedest to keep it from beating me.  Creating something new from my old rusty pot holder made me feel GOOD emotionally. That feeling of accomplishment helps me to combat the feelings of helplessness that come with battling my health issues.

Quite frankly the activities of the day exhausted me to the point that when I was done with the painting of the little chair and I sat down to write this I fell asleep in my recliner with my laptop on my lap. Due to the disks in my back I can no longer sit at a desk or even sit comfortably in most chairs.  People that suffer with fibromyalgia have problems sleeping, getting a “good night’s sleep” is a rare occasion for me so I am often exhausted even when I have just woken up. Too often in the past I have pushed myself to do whatever it took to accomplish different tasks and in the end all I did was hurt myself. I am now giving myself permission to be human and rest when I need to rest instead of trying to be Superwoman.  I sometimes wonder if women are the ones that are more likely to have fibromyalgia than men because of our habit of rushing to take care of everyone and everything before taking care of ourselves. I am trying very hard to put my body’s needs ahead of what my habitual tendencies are so instead of pushing even harder to finish this blog post on the day that I did my little project I gave myself permission to SLEEP.

It is now the following day, I accomplished my creative task of making a beautiful little chair pot holder and will now work on the little pot that is going to go in it. If I get tired while doing it I will nap, I will eat or do whatever it takes to take care of myself. In some ways I am like a toddler just learning to take care of itself. All those years of worrying and carrying for children and the men of my life has left me bewildered on this whole taking care of myself thing. I am too used to pushing through the pain and thus harming my body in the long run. Baby steps, now it is time for ME.

The process of creating something beautiful gives me such Joy and Happiness, yes I capitalized those because they are so very important at this stage of my life. Sometimes it is the little things that sustain you and help you get through the tough stuff. Had I sat around the house and not done anything but surf the internet and watch videos about cute little cats and dogs I would have gotten through my day just focusing on my pain. By creating something I have something solid to hang on to, proof that I matter, that I can do something useful and it takes my focus away from the pain and exhaustion. I am still tired but now I have a reason for the exhaustion and I am happy.

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100 Day Challenge — Days One and Two

Blog 101 Day 1 and 2

I learned about this web site, Medium.com just yesterday. Within moments I discovered a blog by Matthew Trinetti with a title that grabbed me and gave me chills, like a premonition of something very important. The title? “There are 100 days left in 2014, What will you do with them?” I read this and knew this was something that I NEEDED to do for myself.

A few years ago, I suddenly turned around and discovered myself living alone for the very first time in MY ENTIRE LIFE! Since I am 50 something that is over half of a century. I went from being a child to being a 17 year old bride, then mother, then single parent with 3 kids, then 4 to take care of. A second marriage, more kids to take care of, pets, house, business, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…..then POOF! Everything I had known up to that point was gone. No husband or kids to care for, no job, no house not even a car for a few years. Nothing.

I started over completely. Learning who I am, who I have become while I was so busy taking care of the wants and needs of everyone around me. What I learned is that I had no clear identity or sense of self any longer. My hopes and dreams had gotten lost long ago. I helped my first husband find his, I even tutored him in math as a 17 year old bride just so he could make it through his tech school training for the Air Force. I continued to help him with his homework as he pursued his dreams and I gave up mine. But that is another story.

Now this….this is for ME. I came across this challenge with not 100 days left in 2014, but a few less, that doesn’t matter, it is actually a very good thing. I am planning such a grand adventure over the next few months that this timing will cover me from Sunny Southern California to Georgia and back again.

Dreams can be rediscovered, new pathways found and new adventures embarked upon. My 100 Day Challenge to myself is to find or do something creative, whether it be an art project, a photography session or even just taking some time to tap into my creativity and to blog about each day’s adventure.

I began the challenge on September 26, 2014 but am only just now sitting down to record my challenge activities. Yes, there was more than one thing! I felt inspired. From a very young age I loved color and everything art related. I also was an avid reader and even wrote a bit for my high school newspaper. My dreams covered everything from becoming a painter, a writer, a scientist and a computer programmer (I am a nerdette). Over the past few years as I have learned all over again about taking care of just me, I have begun gardening. I have always had a brown thumb so this is indeed a challenge since I live in the very harsh California desert. Upwards of 110 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer days and freezing during winter nights.

So for my first day of my challenge I created through my gardening. I have been procrastinating in putting together a desert planter of some succulents and small cactus plants. This isn’t quite as easy as it sounds but with the careful use of my trusty needle nosed pliers I kept myself from turning into a porcupine.

The feeling of accomplishment and JOY to be doing something that was for me and only me was such a rush! I’m not used to doing things that are for just me. It was always for someone else and everything that I did for myself made me feel guilty, like somehow I was less deserving than everyone else. Now is my time and boy does it feel good.

When I finished the succulent planter I was sorely tempted to keep going to dive into the next planting project. This is a trap that my mind tries to toss my body into. As someone that has been suffering from fibromyalgia for 14 plus years, I have a tendency to overdo things. Some of the things that are taken for granted by most people can seem like insurmountable obstacles to me. Grocery trips, simple household tasks such as vacuuming or laundry or even simple errands can lead to flare ups and a couple of days in bed.

Learning to accept myself as I am with no apologies is another thing I am working on. I will no longer apologize for my body’s failings.

My worktable is scattered with various empty pots, vases and gardening tools. My first inclination was to pick up a couple of the empty containers and to repot some of my other house plants but I gave myself permission to be human and try that new thing called SLEEP. When you have fibromyalgia sleep can be very elusive and often not in the least restorative.

After about 5 hours of sleep I found myself outside in my rose garden gathering up fragrant blooms and grinning like a fool. My joy was overflowing.

Here is the result of the first 2 days of my 100 day challenge, 2 small steps taken with Joy and Gratitude for this next chapter of my life.

What are you going to do with your next 100 days? See you tomorrow my friends!

Unexpected Visitor

It seemed a little strange to me that my window herbs were waving at me. Really, the drugs I have to take don’t cause hallucinations as a rule. Granted my vision isn’t always the greatest (I tend to walk around looking through my own fingerprints on my glasses).

Still my plants never respond when I talk to them (don’t judge) and had never previously waved at me. Honestly it was rather a bizarre moment. Once I had cleaned my glasses I located the source of the movement. She was quite a pretty shade of green, just like my sweet basil that had apparently appealed to her. I can only assume it was the pleasing smell of the basil since the praying mantis eats other insects and not plants. Heaven forbid that my plants had the kind of bugs that would appeal to her, but then she had probably just bitten of the head of her mate and was freshening her breath.

Okay, so I am going through a divorce and the whole biting the head off the mate thing kinda appealed to me. I learned a lot of things about the praying mantis as a child and I have seen plenty of the beige little twig like critters running around outside in the pine needles under my big tree out front, but hadn’t seen one of this size and in this color for years. I had captured one as a child and had fed it lots of little bugs and flies. I wasn’t a girly, girl nor a tom boy, just somewhere in between with an insatiable curiosity about a lot of sciencey things (yeah I know that isn’t a real word but hey, this is my story). There were 2 different bugs that captured my interest as a kid and this was one of them. The praying mantis has a chameleon like ability to change it’s color to match it’s surroundings. The other insect that captured my interest also had that ability as well. It was a crab spider and my mom was so not pleased when that particular umm pet, had babies. How was I to know that those particular types of spiders don’t lay eggs in egg sacs like the majority of spiders do?  Did I also mention that many female spiders also do away with their mates? It isn’t just the black widow that does that. Oh to be a praying mantis or a spider…sigh.

So she and I observed each other for a bit, the praying mantis atop my sweet basil and I leaning against my kitchen sink. How she got into my kitchen and onto my plant I will never know. I had a nice little trip to memory lane remembering being young and curious about everything. Jars with metal lids that had holes poked in, insects of all kinds, butterflies, lizards, whatever could be caught in a large Southern California backyard, we kids caught, examined, fed, watered and learned about. Outside, in the fresh air, with no computers, cell phones and distractions from our jobs of just being kids.

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Dodging Bullets

Way back in 1994, I was told by a very nice doctor at a local Community Hospital, that I had three herniated disks in my back and would need surgery to correct the problem. Being a single mother and not a big fan of doctors and hospitals in general, I thanked him and walked out the door. I have been dodging the bullet ever since.

The problem with dodging bullets when it comes to your health is that one missed step puts you right back in the path of the bullet. You would think that anybody that managed to dodge bullets for nearly 20 years would be a wiz on the dance floor but hey, that would be silly given the condition of my back.

Back then I had been expecting the diagnosis since this wasn’t my first experience with a herniated disk. The first time around I had worked hard to get medical insurance and had a wonderful doctor named Disney who did magical work. 😀 That time around it was nearly a year of agony wiped out nearly instantly, but it had only worked for about 3 years. One disk is not nearly as complicated as 3 so I soldiered on and continued to dodge the bullet.

This is something that women tend to do in their lives. They put their health on the back burner of life and rush around caring for their husbands, children, jobs, houses, pets…..well just everything but themselves.

Over the years I have had quite a few therapists that have helped me deal with all the issues life keeps throwing at me. One of them recommended a book called “When I say No, I feel Guilty”. I read the book, briefly tried to say no, then continued running around trying to make everybody else’s life easier and more comfortable while continuing to dodge those health bullets of my own.

I have had a lot of health bullets to dodge. A LOT. In my opinion my share of health issues seems to be abnormally large. Breast Cancer, Fibromyalgia, Costochondritis, Arthritis, Herniated disks, etcetera, etcetera. When you are dancing around trying to dodge that many bullets, you are bound to make a misstep and take one, especially if you have a bad knee to go with the bad back…..makes taking steps in general a little tricky.

All this dancing about dodging these bullets is tiring. Finally, I missed a step. Although over the years I have had more than one rough patch dealing with my back I always managed to push it back and frankly some of the time it was just plain orneriness that kept me from succumbing to the pain. I’ve learned to not stand too long in one position (like at the sink doing dishes) or to use the vacuum for any extended periods. Quite frankly there are a lot of things that must be avoided to dodge back bullets  and after 20 years I am an expert dodger……..kinda.

It happened innocently enough, a friend came down from Utah to visit me on his vacation and we spent a day playing tourist at Olvera Street in Los Angeles. He is a young guy and like many young guys he overcompensates with his vehicle. He has what I call a Monster Truck, one of those 4 wheel drive trucks that is jacked up to the sky and is impossibly difficult to get into and out of for us less than limber oldsters. We drove and bounced from my place in the desert to Los Angeles and I felt the first twinges of a less than happy back. We parked the Monster in the parking lot at Union Station and I stared down at the ground so very far away and jumped.  Holy crap, I stuck the landing and jolted both my back and my knee. Then we proceeded to walk from there to Olvera Street and Chinatown for lunch………and then we walked back.

By the time we reached Monster at the end of the day, I was on my 3rd dose of the heavy narcotics that my doctor prescribes for my various ailments. Refusal to take my meds for pain is a common thing with me. I fear becoming “addicted” rather than depending on them for relief from the otherwise crippling pain. So for me to take 3 of them before the day is done is quite unusual.

Suffering from fibromyalgia as well has taught me that there are good days and bad days and that I, as well as many others with fibro, have a tendency to over do things when I have the rare good day. This had started not as a good day, but not terrible either. But the walking, oh all that walking………not the smartest thing I have done. I don’t want to be sick and I don’t want to have a 50 something body that feels like it is 80, but I do.

When I overdo my day (like going grocery shopping) I know that I will most likely have to spend the following day in my recliner or in bed. It is what it is. Since my friend was leaving the following day to head back up to Northern Utah, I powered my way through his visit and laughed and had fun all the while saying to myself “Oh Shit!” really, it was like a mantra in my head……….Oh shit, shit, shit………walk, walk………..shit, shit, shit.

Four days after he left I was still in bed. Every step was agony, sitting in my recliner resulted in numbness down both legs and sitting on the toilet practically made me cry. That bullet finally caught up with me.

It has now been a few months since the bullet hit. I have been x-rayed and scanned, both an MRI and a bone scan. I have a very nice surgeon who is proposing that I undergo a laminectomy on my back but not before I undergo a new therapy for strengthening my bones. You see the bone scan revealed that while I was dodging the other health bullets, my bones were busy disintegrating. Not all of them, just my left hip and lower spine (eye roll).

As a last hurrah before I begin treatment on my disintegrating bones in January, I am going to travel across the country, dodging more bullets and making more memories. Because I am a woman and that’s what we do, we soldier on and dodge the bullets life shoots at us.