Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Morning Friend

The rains, when they come this summer, tend to be of the "bucket dump" variety. There haven't been many of the gentle rains which lull you to sleep. These are the "pound the flowers to the pavement" type. They leave puddles, which, for a period of two weeks, attracted a youngster to my yard.

He (she?) is so little and cute. Well, they are cute regardless, but when they are juveniles, they seem to amp up the cuteness. I'd seen him in the drive every morning and had shoo'ed him off so I didn't hit him. This time, I aimed my camera and waited.

He spotted me leaning against the Jeep and started hopping towards me.

Slightly startled, I snapped a couple quick photos.

He was so nonchalant about coming up towards me. When my purse, on my shoulder, slipped down my arm, he bolted past me into the back yard and disappeared.

What a grand way to start my day.

Beverage:  English Breakfast Tea


The Next Project

Having finished Carole's butterfly cross-stitch and left it with her to decide how she wants to frame it, it's time to look ahead to the next project. I'm going to a convention in November; BlizzCon 2015; in Anaheim, California. It's a celebration of all the games Blizzard Entertainment does, but it's kind of akin to mecca for those of us who play World of Warcraft. It's everyone's hope they can go to BlizzCon. I skrimped and saved and, thanks to a friend with impossibly good luck, I got a ticket to go.

I'm going with Faience and Lethia, from my guild. We got a fantastic deal on a hotel room and, while I'm out there, I'll be going to Disneyland. It's just down the street from the convention center so why should I not go? I need to buy airfare and pay for tickets to Disneyland as well as my portion of the hotel. I'm considering a used ipad so I can update my blog and the guild web site with photos. Doing all that on a smartphone drives me nuts so I only check email.

When I decided I could afford a BlizzCon ticket and Lethia decided she could to, I promised, if we got tickets, the three of us, I'd make custom shirts for the convention. On August 1st, Pam and I went to JoAnn Fabrics, to make this plan a reality. I love having her along. We looked through all the patterns. I knew what I wanted but we needed to find the exact pattern. I told her my vision and we dived into the fabric stacks to find the perfect fabric. I need to have her along. So...many...wonderful...fabrics...oh look! "No, that's not what you came here for," she'd say. She is, of course, right. I have boxes and boxes of fabric in the office closet not being used for anything. I need to be reminded of that. I shouldn't say not being used for anything. The girls love to climb on top of the stack and sit there. It's like a hidey hole to them.

Along the way to the perfect fabric, I stumbled upon these gems.

That's a silver metallic in between kelly green stripes. It was quite distinctive but as the basis for a shirt, not so much.

It comes in black and red. As I was looking through the patterns, I chanced upon what I think is a "Game of Thrones" inspired dress that was made with the black version of this. I did seriously consider making us vests, since that would be kind of WOW character like. In the game, your character can wear leather clothing. As appealing as this was, it wasn't what I wanted.

No no and no, but it so reminded me of the curtains in the porch/dining room of the farmhouse where I grew up. The nostalgia washed over me and I thought about my mother making those curtains. They hung in the porch until we moved to town. I know I have some of them in a box somewhere, the fabric useful for quilt pieces.

By now, I'm sure you're detecting a theme here. I stumbled across this.

I just...I have no idea how I would work with this even if it was even remotely attractive. I know retro is in. This certainly bears some resemblance to 1960's fashion and in light seafoam green no less.

Finally, I found it.

It's an Indonesian batik-inspired print. It looks gorgeous in sunlight. I want us to be distinctive but a tee shirt just wasn't going to cut it. I think this will work up beautifully and it's cotton, so it will wash and dry nicely. I came home all excited and then got sick.

I looked at the material sitting on the table and felt so badly that I had no energy. I spent all this money and made this promise. Now that I'm feeling better, my goal has been to clear off the living room table so I can start sewing. I could just move everything there to another space, but that kind of defeats the purpose of cleaning. Baby steps. Baby steps.

Watch this space. I'm excited to execute my idea.

Beverage:  Water


Prairie Garden

At the end of last month, I had monarchs in the prairie plants at the end of the driveway. I promised a view of those plants.

This looks south.

It's really just goat's beard, black-eyed Susan, purple coneflower, Rattlesnake master and common milkweed. There used to be white daisies in this, but they don't seem to have survived.

I would love to add to this, increasing the size of the planting area by at least 2 feet. There are so many other plants which would go well in this location, as well as being an attraction for monarchs or other butterflies.

Of course the issue is my ability to do the actual physical work of digging up the yard and these plants and adding top soil and peat to the area to make it a good location for plants. I have grand plans but reality can give you a swift kick to the shins.

Supposedly, monarchs have laid eggs on milkweed now and the caterpillars should be happily eating their way through their chosen food. I have not seen any eggs and, thanks to this thing called "the Internet", I know what I'm supposed to look for. I've not seen caterpillars either. Maybe I won't see anything until a chrysalis forms. That would be extremely exciting. There would be daily blog photos as the butterfly develops.

It's been a good year for the yard. I've seen hummingbirds and a very noisy blue jay for the first time in many, many years and I don't have, really, anything dedicated to them. The monarchs using the yard fill me with hope that, in spite of my shaggy garden, I'm doing something right. Here's to nature in her summer glory.

Beverage:  Water


Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Remember the minion poster I had all my guild members sign who attended the meet-up last month?

I finally framed it and put it on the wall. First step was deciding exactly where I wanted it. I have a poster from the "Who Framed Mr. Burns" The Simpsons' episode. It was in TV Guide, back when that was still an extremely popular magazine. A friend kept the poster and gave it to me. It hangs in the hallway in the house above a plaque reading, "Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and good with ketchup." I had considered moving The Simpsons poster to a different wall and putting the minion one in its place. But this is bigger than The Simpsons one and would require a readjustment of the plaque and new holes and an eventual repainting and I didn't want to mess with that.

Then, as I was leaving for work one day, I remembered how I wanted to repaint the back entry.

My kitchen has been yellow since Carole was little. The apples were added a year after the kitchen was painted. I thought one of my goals would be to repaint this space a lighter, brighter yellow, a more Minion yellow. The door frame and the back of the back door would be painted yellow. The ceiling would be painted yellow and I'd paint over the apples and put strategic minions around the space. And the old, very old, cork board, which is really just a catch all for paper junk, would go. Tell me that's inviting. I double-dip dare you. It just looks junky and I never use anything stored on the board. Time to give it away.

So Pam and I found a frame at JoAnn Fabric that I felt would work. It more than worked. Look at the space now.

What a difference a piece of art makes. I almost don't need to repaint the walls as the color complements the poster. I still think I'd like a coat of a lighter yellow just because it would give the space a fresh feeling to it. But there is not the feeling that painting HAS to be done now, you know. I can still paint through October and leave the door open so the space can breathe, if I get better and have my energy back. The cork board went to a local Veteran's group that takes donations. Someone will be happy with it.

Now, whenever I leave the house via the back door, I smile. I will stop and read the names of guild members on the poster. It makes me happy and that's what spaces in your house should do, make you happy.

Beverage:  Water


The Easy Way

In a way, I'm grateful that this illness happened in August and that this August has been a slightly weird month. It wasn't overly hot, which meant that the air conditioner hasn't had to run all that much. It was dry, which meant, while I worked to get better and recover my strength, the lawn didn't need a weekly mowing. I'm not sure how I would have done that. But, it's been warm enough that I can do one thing which makes life a bit easier.

The warm temperatures combined with sunshine made making sure I had an abundance of clean pants reasonably easy. I would do a load of pants and then drape them over the deck railings. In about 3 hours, they were dry. The added advantage is the smell. They smell so fresh. I wouldn't be able to do this in the winter. Even with the winter sun, there needs to be warmth on the jeans to get them to dry. Freeze-dried jeans are still wet when they thaw.

Having this as an option when I can only do one load of wash a week has helped keep me from smelling like a barn. That's appreciated.

Beverage:  Water


Simple Happiness

We picked up business in Iowa this month. It required my boss driving to the state to do sales calls and get clients squared away with our services. On one trip back, he stopped at a gas station near Iowa City for a fill-up. Needing a soda, he went inside and saw this by the register.

"Are these free?" he asked the clerk?

"Absolutely," she said. "Take one or two. We have plenty."

It's a magnet! Instead of printing off the schedule and having a dog-eared piece of paper on the fridge for 3 months, I have a magnet. He came into my office and said he'd found something for me. He seemed genuinely amused that I was so thrilled with a magnet. "I kinda figured you'd get a kick out of this," he said.

The office is moving this year and we looked at a space that will work nicely. It does mean a longer commute for me, but having seen the prospective space, I'm okay with the drive. We get to paint our offices any color we like. In my potential new office, there is a door, a bank of windows and we're going to put a sliding window with a ledge so I can see who comes into the office and accept deliveries. I would have one long wall with nothing on it. I had given thought to painting it black and putting a gold tiger hawk on it, with the rest of the walls in a heather or dove gray. But the more I think about it, I think that's too much black. No, I won't reverse the colors. GAH! That's way too much gold. I think I will paint all the walls the dove gray and put a black tiger hawk on the wall. Then, the other items, like my photos and posters can go on the walls and it will feel unified while announcing to everyone what team I root for.

Two weeks. Two weeks to the start of football season.

Beverage:  Water


Monday, August 24, 2015

"Now is the August of my discontent"

In this soliloquy, which begins Shakespeare's "Richard III", he talks about the reversal of his family's fortunes. "Now is the winter of our discontent" is the exact line. "Winter" in this case, meaning the end of problems. We all know how the play, and the real life Richard the III's, life ended.

It's been a bad month for me. "Discontent" in all it's glorious meaning, is the perfect word to describe this month. So many days have slipped away. So many photos unblogged. There is, however, a reason. I came down with diverticulitis.

On August 1st, I went shopping with Pam. We had a glorious day of laughter and friendship, as we usually do. The next day, I thought I'd eaten something bad. It continued into Monday, August 3rd. I felt like I had the flu. Lots of sleep and on Tuesday, August 4th, I was tired, but I felt reasonably fine. That "reasonably fine" feeling grew ever more tenuous. It seems as if every other day was a bad day. Pain. Excessive tiredness. I felt like my abdomen was full of gas. "If I could just fart, I'd feel better," I would say as a wave of pain overtook me. Finally, self-treating didn't seem to be working and I went to the doctor on August 12th.

I was put on Cipro and Flagyl, two strong antibiotics. One of the problems with an infection is my compromised immune system thanks to the RA. I had to go off all my RA meds and carefully watch when I took my vitamins because they would counteract the Cipro. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of these two antibiotics and going off the RA drugs has been incredible tiredness. I finally gave up trying to remember when I took the Cipro so I could take the vitamins. Even little notes to myself would leave me perplexed. "Why does this say 8:10 and this one say 8:35?" Confusion is a side effect, too. I took to walking around the house with a note pad and pen, writing down what I was trying to remember. This went beyond the "Why did I come into this room?" This was an "I have no idea what I'm doing" memory issue.

Blogging was impossible. I tried, oh how I tried. There are a large number of photos to talk about. A month of photos has come and gone without a comment. I have missed me.

It took 5 days for the pain to subside. I've been off both drugs now since Saturday. I'm still tired, but I know that to be the cost of RA. I'm having twinges of pain in joints that were pain-free just a month ago. Heck, I was reveling in being pain-free. I need to mow the lawn now, after a month of not needing to do it. The idea now scares me. It won't be a 45 minute exercise. I may not be able to do it in one day. I feel I've been sent to jail and I have no "Get out free" card.

Through all of this, I've kept working. The pain wasn't so bad during the day that it interfered with work. It only got bad when I went home at night. I have been lectured about taking time for me. Perhaps I should have. I guess I'm of the mind-set that sick days are for when you're really sick and I wasn't into what I'd call "really sick" state. I did think I'd take this or that day off and then work would get crazy and I'd feel that I'd really inconvenience the office if I called off, so I didn't.

Depression set in. I have stuff all over my house, piles of stuff. I deal with a little bit but I wear out so quickly, that things don't get done and the knowledge that, just last month, none of this wouldn't be put away, mocks me. Even though part of learning to live with RA involves breaking tasks down into smaller, more manageable pieces, when I can't clean all the litter boxes because just doing one leaves me tired, that's minute pieces and even though that's what I should be doing, it depresses me when I can't do more without pain (because I'm off my RA meds) or getting overly tired.

There is a silver lining in all of this. My rheumatologist wants to change my RA medication. She feels the Humira was not stopping the progression of the disease. I measure progression by days without pain and I had a handful in July, before the diverticulitis. She measures it in a different way. So, having to go off all RA meds is good for her because we can go back to tweaking them. She wants to start me on Orencia, another injectable biologic drug. Unlike Enbrel and Humira, it's used only for RA. We're going to see if that helps. I'm not noticing any deformities in joints and, prior to getting sick, I could do a lot of things I hadn't considered before. I have another appointment for the diverticulitis on September 2nd and we'll go from there.

All of this has worn me down. I'm not eating properly or drinking adequate amounts of water. Pam had to come to my "rescue" and get me to Target to buy groceries so I would have things in the house I'd actually eat. Soup is my friend, but there are days when even that looks unappealing. I know this is a side effect and part of my brain says, "You need to eat." But the louder part says, "Shut up. She's tired. Go ahead. Sleep in the recliner." And, lately, that sleep in the recliner has involved a cat scan.

It's kind of hard to see her, but she loves to stretch out in my lap. When we sit, we can sit for upwards of 2 hours. If only the purrs of a cat would cure what ails me. Mija will often jump up next to me and demand ear scratches. With the two of them next to me, I can almost forget this set back.

It feels like I'm going up hill through molasses. I keep telling myself that the aches and pains are old familiar territory. I'm not nearly as bad as I was in 2012, when I first saw Dr. Francis and, once we get the infection cured, I'll be back on the drugs that help with the pain. Things will be back to "normal", or what passes for normal. It's just getting there that is the depressing part.

Beverage:  Water