Monday, January 11, 2021

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World...


  This has been one crazy week. Crazy, scary, devastating.  I have no words.   On my birthday, Wednesday, Trump and his minions attempted to stage a coup to stop the certification of the election.  It didn't work. Lots of property damage, people damage and 5 deaths. These idiots were filming themselves as they terrorized Congress and destroyed property.  Now the FBI is asking for help identifying them FROM THEIR OWN PICTURES and rounding them up a few at a time and they are outraged. They brought weapons into the Capitol and threatened people, even threatened to hang Mike Pence because he was doing his job. And they are butthurt about being demonized and arrested now.  If it wasn't such a travesty it would be funny. Unbelievable.  Certainly a bd I will never forget.

  I have been staying home most of the time, going out now and then to do a curbside pickup of groceries.  I had to take my new glasses back to the eye place today, because I can't see with them.  I'm back to wearing my old ones, which frankly, are fine.  The nice man at the office finally figured out what the problem was and they will have to re-grind my lenses and they should be ready to p/u by the end of the week. He also said the new prescription was not very different at all. I wish they had told me that before I spent 250 dollars on them. (And that was my share- after insurance.)  While I was out, I stopped by a local discount grocery store and picked up a full case each of diced tomatoes and chickpeas. Then stopped to load up on pet food.  I got all put away, and even found jars for 20 of the 40 pounds of flour that came the other day and has been sitting on my dining room table, lol.  Today sesame seeds (2#) and wheat germ (1#)  came, so I jarred that up for storage too.  I use the wheat germ in my bread. I use the sesame seeds in lots of things. I've been cooking more Middle eastern and Mediterranean dishes, and many of those call for things like tamarind paste and fish sauce and sesame seeds.  I keep this stuff stocked up.  I love having the opportunity and ability to make and try lots of dishes from other cultures.  Last week I made a Muslim style rice noodles with beef that was out of this world !  I keep a nice stock of pastas, including rice noodles, cellophane noodles, soba noodles and regular old egg noodles and macaronis.  Also rice and quinoa and cous cous (which we don't eat very often, but it's nice to have).  Being able to buy things in bulk from Amazon is nice, especially during these crazy quarantine times. My husband hates that I'm on a first name basis with about 5 delivery drivers.  lol It's just a sign of the times. 

  I have been thinking about canning some dog and cat food items...things I could mix with oats or rice in the event that I couldn't get dog and cat food.  I don't want to get crazy about the state of the world, but today the FBI is warning law enforcement across the US of possible  armed protests at 50 state capitols starting Saturday through the inauguration on Jan. 20th.   These people have lost their minds.  As far as I can see, it wouldn't be a surprise for the chain of supply to be interfered with. I like to think we are prepared for anything that happens, but I don't know.  I guess we can just do what we can do and trust that it will be enough. I've looked at my seed vault and thought about ordering some more garden seed, but I probably have enough.  Again-- I don't want to get too crazy. There's enough of that in the world. 

  I have skills.  We have survived some pretty scary things-- natural disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes)...a car accident 5 years ago that turned our world upside down for a while. Food shortages and rationing things, tho no one starved and it was minor compared to some places, it's not something we're used to dealing with in this country (or in this house).  I have been convinced that it was necessary to keep a stocked pantry because 1) We live out in the country and if it snows a lot, we can't get out and 2) You never know what might happen.  When himself was hurt in that accident and couldn't work for 3.5 months, we got a real exercise in what it could be like, just from having to pay bills and survive on my disability. And we did it.  And it was scary and eventually satisfying to know we could do it. And there you go.

  Alright, this old girl needs to hit the hay. I have plans for tomorrow...some things I really need to get done. Here's to democracy and level heads and crossing things off my list.  It could turn out to be a very productive day.


Monday, January 4, 2021

Monday Musings 2021


  Here we are... the first Monday of January in 2021. It even feels like a sci-fi thriller.  Covid is wreaking havoc with peoples lives,  supply chains are slowly being disrupted, and people are generally grumpy AF.  Someone was talking today about a Covid "syndrome"  and my two cents was that we're just scared shitless of dying.   Call that a syndrome if you want.  I call it fear.   And of course we are afraid.  The numbers keep climbing, the vaccines aren't available like they should be, and we don't even really know that they will work.  And the reality of the seriousness has finally sunk in, even to the people who called this a hoax and "just the flu" a year ago.  With over 350K dead and a confirmed minimum of almost 21M cases in the US alone, even the die hards now know someone who has had it or died from it. Scary times around this world of ours. 

  I am eating a bowl of leftover stew for my breakfast/lunch.   Life is going right along here on Honeysuckle Hill... made it through the Holidays and his 12 day vacation with no angst or bloodshed.  lol  He was starting to get a little restless, pacing and such, 12 days is a little much. He said last night he didn't want to go back to work, but I think secretly he did.  lol  

  Today I am doing a tiny bit of housekeeping, but I slept late and so kinda shot myself in the foot. I think that I am  making a meatless Monday meal, maybe a pasta with putanesca sauce and some home made french bread. And salad.  I'm hungry for a salad. Picked up a grocery order from Aldis yesterday and got most all of it separated into meal sized portions (the meat--chicken and ground beef).  Thought it was all put away (he helped) but I just found 2 bags sitting on the pantry floor.  If I get off my butt and put them away, I can still at least vacuum (and have supper ready) before he gets home at 6. lol  Had a thought to doing laundry today, but it can wait til tomorrow. Trying to pace myself. lol He went for a hike yesterday, and pulled in the driveway 5 minutes after I had unloaded all the groceries from the car...7 bags and a box.  I was plum tuckered out after that.  lol    The old grey mare just ain't what she used to be...

  So, as you can guess, I have been stocking and restocking my pantries. I am going to can some ground beef tomorrow or Wednesday. Freezer is full.  And all of it needs re-arranging probably and inventorying.  But the weather has been goofy and I have been lazy and it hasn't gotten done.  I did inventory the pantries, and am pretty happy with that.  I am waiting for pork loin to come up on sale again so I can CAN 10 or 12 jars to add to my meat stash.  I have chicken, roast beef, and a couple of jars of pork left.  I have store bought canned tuna and salmon. I have a case of shelf stable tofu, plus a couple of packages. All in all, I feel pretty ready  for any worst case scenarios, food and supply wise.  I still have a few things that I feel you can "never have too much of" that I will buy as I see them. One of those is chickpeas, or garbanzo beans. They are a great source of protein, and I have learned to make several Indian dishes with them for a base.  AND-- I secretly eat them right out of the can, heated up with a little butter and black pepper.  lol   Usually when I find myself either not wanting to eat at all, or craving protein.  I am awfully grateful that I have a broad palette and like most things, and that I love culinary adventures. I have made American (of course), Vietnamese, French, Thai, Indian, Mexican, Greek, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Moroccan, Native American, and heaven knows what else kinds of cooking. It helps that I have a man who is not too picky, and will try anything once, and loves to eat too. 

  That's pretty much it from the Hill.  No more dr appts unless I have a problem. Keeping a casual eye on my vitals, and doing what I am supposed to be doing. We have both been healthy and are so thankful for that.  The critters are all fat and sassy and make our lives better every day. Here's to 2021 --  may we all march to our drummers and keep our heads held high.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Wait ?? What ??? Where did the last 3 months go ???


  Good grief.  I haven't posted since September.  I don't know where I've been or what I was doing, but it apparently wasn't here. 

  Truth is I have been on the run a little again.  Only to cardiac rehab, but still.  3 times a week, a one hour drive there and back. And all the stuff in between.  But now I have abandoned the trip to that hospital 3x a week because the covid virus is spiking like crazy in that county and I am not willing to risk it, especially in a hospital setting where everyone, visitors and patients, employees and vendors are all coming in the same entrance, using the same elevators and restrooms. So now I haven't left the house in a bit, except for one trip to the grocery.  

  Trying to make sure my food stocks are appropriate, and that I have all my ducks in a row for the coming winter.  I've ordered a few Xmas gifts online for front porch delivery.  We don't buy a lot anyway, so that was easy. My pantry and freezer is full. I will probably make a few curbside pickup orders from Aldis throughout, as my husband can easily get them on his way home from work.  

 About ready to maybe put up some Xmas decos.  I usually wait until the middle of the month and then leave them all up until after my birthday.  Jan 6th is the Twelfth Day of Xmas. It will also be my 68th trip around the sun.  2020 has been what it's been, and I am not sorry to see it go.  lol  Anyway, I still have some lifting limitations, so the weekend has himself here to carry the totes in from the garage. Every year I put up less and less decorations.  My husband used to say that it looked like Father Xmas had vomited all over our house.  lol  Now it's a tabletop tree and some of my Santa collection mostly.  A few other things here and there. The less I put out the less I have to put away. There's that.  lol  I have a few pine and cinnamon candles to complete the ambiance.  Good enough. But sometimes I still miss the old days...

  The pandemic is still roaring around us. I stopped going to the cardiac rehab at the hospital because that county has a crazy level of infections. So I am walking every other day, doing a pedal exerciser and a cardio video... all at home.  A friends parents have tested positive for covid and was at their house for Thanksgiving, so now everyone is quarantined.  2 other friends are still hospitalized with it. I have known about 8 people now who have died from it. We are all really becoming numbed to the whole thing. Some people are angry, some are depressed. Some try to act like nothing is happening and some are letting it make them crazy. Somehow we have to find the middle ground and do the right things and get through this. At my house we wear masks when we are out, keep masks, gloves AND hand sanitizer in both the cars, and use the hand sanitizer before getting out of the car and upon getting back in. And stay home as much as we possibly can. 

  I have done a little canning this week and am picking up a bunch of sweet potatoes tomorrow, so hopefully will have plenty of those to can as well as some to bake. They're from a local grower and I'm not sure just how much she has available, but I'll get as much as I can.  I canned roast beef  this past week too when I found a good sale on it.  Might pick up some more tomorrow and do another canner load, or maybe not. The pantry is looking pretty good in terms of veg/meat/grains ratios. 

  So that catches you up from Honeysuckle Hill. Oh, and at the 3.5 month mark from my heart surgery it's all systems GO, all my numbers are good, and the cardiac surgeon team AND the cardiology team don't want to see me again for a year.  Unless something comes up, and then I am to call them. So feeling pretty good all around.  I do have one more appt next week with the wound care people and then I think they will be done with me.  The wounds on my leg form the vein harvest are finally almost healed up. Grateful to be alive and feeling pretty darn healthy.

  So, stay safe, wash your hands, stay home and let this bitch of a pandemic  run it's course and git on outta here.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Quiet Moments

  This hangs on the wall above my computer. Helps me to be reminded that quiet is good (not boring) and that if I don't shut up sometimes I can't hear. 

  It's been a crazy few weeks and things are settling down now.  I had 2 follow-up dr appointments yesterday with the cardiologist and the surgeon and everything is right on track. It was a long tiring day and I came home and fell into a nice sleep.  lol  I am still way more tired than normal [for me], but they assure me that open heart surgery will do that to a body. All my lab work and tests are in line. I am cleared to drive again (can't wait) and can start cardiac rehab and begin lifting 15 pounds instead of 8.  lol  It's the little things in life.  I can even vacuum my own floors, as long as I take it easy and rest if I feel tired.  (I do that anyway).  Funny how the littlest things of normalcy feel like such a big deal. Having health issues like this throw me for a loop. Everything feels surreal and weird and I am way more of a creature of habit than I like to think I am.

  I have earned some really important lessons of late.  Lessons about accepting help and lessons about who says they will and don't. One reason or another... all reminding me that my happiness CANNOT be contingent on anyone else's behavior.  People will be how they are, and because I am in the recovery community, a lot of the people I know are not necessarily the most reliable or trustworthy.  Old habits die hard. Bless them, and change me, as one of my friends says.  My part is not having expectations of people.  Their part is growth.  I always say that we are all on a path... and most of us are at different places on that path.  It's the trudging that counts.  What is that saying ?  Before Enlightenment--chop wood, carry water.  After Enlightenment--chop wood, carry water.  You still gotta chop and carry. lol  I would say I am learning patience too, but that might be a lie.  Some days, if anything, I am more impatient than ever. With myself AND with others. With my body. With healing. Sigh...

  I am having some issues with my leg where they harvested the veins. The gouges don't want to heal right. So I went through a painful process of debriding last week and go again on Tuesday. In the meantime, I am packing the holes with an iodine soaked strip and changing it twice a day. It's gross. And it hurts now. My sleep is erratic. Some nights I simply cannot fall asleep. Some nights I doze off and on. Some nights I sleep like the dead for 7 hours or more. Something I will talk to them about on Tuesday. The cardiac rehab starts tomorrow and we'll see how that goes.

  All in all-- that's about it from the Hill. Husband and I went grocery shopping today and it about wore me out.  Had meant to go all week, but decided I shouldn't do it alone just yet. He did all the heavy lifting of course and was very sweet about it all. We got home, I laid down a bit and we had some leftover Caribbean stew for supper and watched some tv. Masterpiece Theater for one. A police mystery set in Amsterdam.  It was quite good. I have a 10:30 AM appointment in the morning, so I hope to be in bed and asleep at a reasonable hour. Am munching on a small bowl of green grapes and thinking about the weather change... I was freezing last  night, so tonight I put a nice thick warm blanket on my side of the bed. I also got the little bathroom heater out when I took a shower this morning. Nights have been in the mid forties and today never hit 70. One of the meds is making me sick at my stomach, and I think it may be the antibiotic she gave me for my leg. I've been actively nauseous or queasy all day.  Yuck.

  I have a few dishes to do before I wind this night up. I've been trying to get this piece written for 4 days.  lol  Ah...  finally.

Friday, September 4, 2020

My humble, broken heart...


  On August 9th, 2020  I had a mild heart attack.  I'd been having some minor issues for several days (weeks?) like  tightness in my chest (ala acid reflux, I thought), some shortness of breath and unexplained random nausea. Himself took one look at me and said-- put your shoes on, we're going to the ER.  I said, no, wait.... let me sit a minute and see if it passes.   I've been to ERs 4 times over the last 15 years with this stuff and it was acid reflux every time (they said). I got really clammy and sweaty and hot and he practically threw me over his shoulder and carried me to the car.  He asked if I wanted to go to Alton and I said NO--take me to Litchfield , which was about 5 minutes closer. We got there and my blood pressure was sky high, about 248/135.  I had checked it at home and it read about the same, so I assumed my cuff wasn't working right. lol  They did initial tests and said they were going to keep me overnight for observation and run the tests again in 5 hours.  When they did, I was off the charts. They came in and told us they were making arrangements to send me to Springfield (our state capitol) to St John's and the Prairie Heart Institute. They said I had had a heart attack. I was baffled.  I arrived up there sometime the next morning and was put in a bed on the Cardio Vascular Care Unit. That afternoon a cardiologist came in and filled me in. Said the troponin levels were trending back down, which was good news.  He ordered some more tests and blood work and said that when he got those results, he would decide if I got a stress test or a heart cath the next morning. I told him I was pretty sure my heart was okay.  He smiled and said-- we'll see.  But..but.. I eat way too much brown rice and kale to be having a heart attack !! I don't smoke !!  Never have.  I don't drink !  I eat healthy !  He said he had looked at my family history of heart disease and sometimes genetics win.  Came back in later that evening and told me that I was scheduled for a heart catheterization first thing in the morning.Gave me a bunch more information that I don't remember. 

  The heart cath showed a 90% blockage in the big artery and 60 and 80% blockages in the other 3. He told me they call that big  artery the widowmaker. Seemingly healthy people walking around and suddenly drop dead in the garden.  So, I was scheduled for a Quadruple CABG first thing in the morning on August 13th.  It was about a 7.5 hour surgery.  Except for the vein harvest in my leg, it went off without a hitch. Luckily I came with all my own spare parts, but the guy had a helluva time getting that leg vein to cooperate. Said he NEVER had problems like that one.  So my leg looks pretty gnarly (it's healing, but damn...).  Seems the process for this surgery is pretty grotesque.  They deflate your lungs to get them out of the way. They somehow dehydrate your body (for less messy cleanup, I'm assuming)  lol.  Then (as one nurse said when I was complaining about my back hurting)--"They lay you out like one of those flattened deboned chickens".  After the fun is over, they wire your breastbone back together and glue and stitch you up. Start the process of RE-hydrating you. They must have pumped a million gallons of fluids back into me  lol  Then after you are out of the Cardiac ICU, they put you on lasix to get any extra fluids back out of you.  It's dizzying. I had a terrible time coming out of the anesthesia. I have been clean and sober for over 30 years, and being bombarded with all the drugs sent me into a tailspin. I hallucinated for 3 days post op. I was so scared, I can't even tell you. I was afraid I had brain damage. Then they tell you you need rest, and proceed to wake you up about every 3 hours for blood tests and xrays and vitals checks. About 7 days later, if you're lucky, you get to go home.  I was lucky. So, now I have been home a little over 2 weeks. Everyday I am a little stronger and mostly feel a little better.  I am still tired a lot and nap a couple of times a day. I am pushing myself to try to do a little more every day. I am on a lot of medications (many of which I swore I would not take). But I promised himself that this time I would do everything they told me to there's that. I am not a good patient. Ever.

  I have a visiting nurse that comes twice a week to look at incisions and check me out.  My friend came down from up north to stay with me these first 2 weeks at home to help, and I could not have done it without her. I can never repay her for her kindness and assistance.  💜  Thanks Angela  💜   The outpouring of love and cards and gifts and well wishes from hundreds of people in my little world has been overwhelming. I am beyond humbled by the kindnesses.  I already know how traumatic events can change a person and this is no exception. In the midst of this pandemic the whole world is changing.  My little corner of the Universe, and myself (as the Queen of Quite A Lot) has shifted once again.  I am grateful to be alive.  And to have had maybe some of the best nurses and doctors in the whole world. The surgical team was most amazing, the hospital experience was stellar, and the nursing care was some of the best I have ever seen. So many things could have happened so differently...

  True to form, I was the life of the party at the hospital (esp before the surgery), lol  I kept them laughing and acted like a complete Pollyanna thru the whole thing.  After I came home, I broke down for a bit and cried myself to sleep almost every night. Tears of gratitude, fear and relief.   Tears of getting way more love from people than I deserve.  Tears of coming a little too close to dying. It's not so much that I'm afraid to die, as I told a nurse one night, it's just that you're dead for such a looooong time.  lol

  In the middle of my hospital stay, my mother-in-law died.  My husband left Wednesday to go to Wisconsin to help his siblings deal with stuff. His dad is in a nursing home there and he needed to see him. Life goes on... it's messy and the timing is bad sometimes and the wheels just keep on turning. Somewhere in the future, we will find the time for things to get back to normal. 

  Personally, I can't wait.  

Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Audacity of Hope

 The title of this post is, of course, from the book of the same name by President Barack Obama.

  I'm writing this today from a country that used to be the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.  A country where respect and common decency used to be the norm. Now it's a place where a militia type Federal police force made up of a gang of thugs (made up mostly of security forces from the border where they hate anyone who isn't white already) . I remember  the shootings of students by National Guardsman at Kent State and how the entire nation was shocked to the core by the killings at a war protest. Now it's a country where people are being pulled off the streets and dragged into unmarked vans and whisked away. (Does any of this sound familiar ?)  Now it's a place where a long respected heroic BLACK congressman dies and the POTUS refuses to attend the funeral. And then refuses to put the flags at half mast and then does for half a day (amid backlash) and then removes it again.  Now it's a country where the  Administration incites hate and racial unrest every time he opens his mouth.  The latest is his stirring up shit among white suburbanites and publicly rescinding affordable housing acts put in place by the guy that wrote this book. 

  How did we go from an educated, literate compassionate president to this monstrosity that is in the WH now ?  This man whose gibberish is impossible to understand ? Who can't speak in full sentences ?  A man who declares bankruptcy over and over, neglecting to pay his bills, lying and lying and lying some more. And then claims to be a successful businessman who is going to "help" this country get back on it's feet. (Which, btw, was not "off" it's feet until he took office and started screwing with International trade relations, screwing over American farmers, and the hundreds of other things he has done to line his own and his cronies pockets.  

  There are no ethics, no integrity and no soul in our government anymore. We have turned into Hitler's Nazi Germany. This once great country of ours, forever a beacon of hope and good in the world, is now a sad laughingstock. And the ones that aren't laughing are shaking their heads in despair and fear.

  I can't decide if I am going to post this blog  or not. I am so despondent over the state of things here.  My inclination is one of 2 things: to completely withdraw from the world and stay here at home on Honeysuckle Hill doing what I can to prepare for the crash that is coming (or already here-- food shortages, outrageous unemployment, civil unrest)  or get my old fat happy ass out on the streets and scream until something changes.  I guess you know which one I'm choosing.  I screamed about Nixon. I screamed about the Viet Nam war, I screamed about Reagan and I screamed about Bush (es).  I have laryngitis of the soul from all the screaming I have done in the past.  I am tired.

  But... today is a sunny Sunday and I am contemplating making some kind of dessert.  And maybe a low country boil (because that's fun).  I am considering the idea that meditation and prayer might be the only things I can do these days. Living with intention. I despair over the people I have known who think this is all great or funny or whatever the hell they think. The ones that harbor as much hatred and fear and racism as the man in charge of this country does. They probably really need my prayers, but I have a hard time not closing my heart to them. 5 years ago, if you asked me if those kind of people were actually in my life, I would have said, no--of course not.  The people I am friends with are not like that.  Turns out many of them are.  And it breaks my heart.

  I am stopping here.   Maybe I will post it, maybe I won't.  But I feel better having gotten some of it off my chest.  I think I'll work on straightening up my little living space and listen to some soothing music. My soul is tired...

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Pretty sure it's a sign of the impending apocalypse...

   Is it just me ?  Good grief.  In all kinds of situations and circumstances, I am finding myself shaking my head in bafflement and bewilderment.  I try to stay away from the news, except for a once daily update on important things.  The people around me are acting like complete morons, while Covid numbers are rising all around. There have been 4  cases of it at my husbands job... and one guy has a newborn baby, and mama and baby have both tested positive. 2 of the guys were at a kegger together last week.  One thought he was just feeling hung over. I went to a store this morning that has big signs saying, Face Coverings Required, yet 1/3 of the people in there did NOT have them on and no one said a word to them.  I read that there were 4 dead and 26 hospitalized in Arizona after drinking hand sanitizer. WTH is wrong with these people ??  Today I was on a cooking site that I visit from time to time, and a woman asked if anyone knew any other way to cook broccoli besides IN THE OVEN , because it is too hot to run her oven for 45 MINUTES.  WHAT ?????  I have never in my almost 68 years on this planet heard of cooking BROCCOLI in the oven.  And my God, certainly not for 45 minutes !!!  People asking questions like, how do you cook noodles ??  WHAT ???    My head is about to explode.

  It's been stupid hot here, with outrageous heat indexes tacked on.  It's too hot to go outside and try to do anything, not much better in the house, where the poor central AC cannot keep up.  My electric bill is thru the roof. I shut everything down at night, but it runs for 12 hours.  We have been having days of intermittent storms and that cools it down to about 80 at midnight. Also waters the heck out of all the giant weeds growing in my front yard. They grow so fast you can't see where any weed whacking was done. The mower is still in the shop.  I'm living in an overgrown meadow, for crying out loud.  The trash pandas (raccoons) stripped my peach tree, so if I want peaches I'm going to have to buy them and they're running about 15 dollars for a half peck. Outrageous.  But the prices of everything have gone up and even things on sale don't seem like sale prices now. 

  I am pretty stocked up.  I have plenty of masks and gloves and hand sanitizer and wipes and toilet paper.  I need to stock up some dog food and cat food, but it's been readily available so I haven't worried too much about it. My food storage is in pretty good shape. We won't starve for awhile. But I have to tell you... I'm more than a little concerned about people.  Not having basic cooking skills is abhorrent to me.  Thinking none of this is going to affect you, is unbelievable to me. The complete lack of consideration and the selfishness of not caring what happens to anyone else as long as you aren't inconvenienced is so alien to my way of thinking that I feel like I am drowning in despair. 

  I'm going to bed now, with high hopes that I will feel better in the morning and not so snarky and exhausted.  Another hot one on the books, but I will do everything I can to stay cool.  Got everything done today that needed doing, so, there's that.  I even cancelled 2 appts, one medical,  one opthamologist, because I don't know if we should be in quarantine or not.  Neither appt was a life and death deal, so I rescheduled them both. Yay me.  Really didn't feel like going to St Louis.  Or seeing people.  lol

   So, don't worry about me.  I am the eternal optimist.  Here's your smile for the day...