Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

It's been a very quiet day today. Jon was sleeping most of the day, and I was taking it easy and even fell asleep for a couple of hours and I rarely sleep in the daytime. Jason had gone to work so it was very quiet around here. When I woke up there was a soft, powdery snow coming down, which should have fallen on Christmas Day. It's so pretty.

We watched a few reruns of 70s Show. I love that show. It reminds me of my teenage years.

I got a few favorite foods for New Year's that I can eat a little bit of. Jon made this dip that is a modified version of the kind my sister-in-law makes that includes reduced fat cream cheese, fat free refried beans, shredded Mexican cheese, green onions, black olives and diced green peppers. I got a lowfat veggie dip for chopped vegetables, and did get a small bag of Ruffles. I got some pastry hors d'oeuvres -- some are stuffed with spinach, some mushroom and cheese, some onion and cheese and another with just cheese. We are all sharing the one box. I also have Squirt, 50/50 and pineapple juice. Mix the pineapple juice in with the Squirt and it makes instant punch. No champagne this year, no booze of any kind because I can't drink it anymore, Jon is on medicine, too and can't have it...but he rarely drinks even beer so no biggie to him. Jason didn't even buy himself beer this year so it's going to be a "dry" New Year's Eve around here this year.

Jon rented two movies we are going to watch. They are probably both bad. One is Talladega Nights and the other one is Stardust. I saw previews of Talladega nights and it looks funny, though I can't stand NASCAR crap. But I think Will Farrell is funny. So, will let you know later how we liked them both.

We rented the movies because nowadays there is nothing much on New Year's Eve like in the old days when Guy Lombardo was on and we could hear all the big band music and watch people who are all dressed up make drunken fools of themselves. Now it's all "rockin in the New Year" and mostly yackety, yackety, yackety of the overly-hyper commentators. I hate it. So, we will watch the movies and then turn the television on for a bit to watch the big ball drop in NYC, and then turn it to a local station at midnight Chicago time to watch the Chicago countdown. Then will go to bed...and then get up to watch the Rose Bowl parade in the morning.

Off to make some cod fillets and sweet potatoes for a light supper since we are eating a bit of garbage along with it. :D

Here is Guy Lombardo for all of you who don't know who he is:

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year!

I am so glad to see 2007 over with. Looking back, I try to find the good stuff. Mary's horsehead visit in March. That was a riot when she drove more than 16 hours all by herself, through the night from the east coast, showing up wearing a plastic horse head and black cloak and we had no idea who was walking into our house! I finally recognized her hands. They are always cold, and her fingers are very long. When I tried to take off the mask, she grabbed my hands and then I knew immediately it was her. Mothers know who their children are. :-D

The other thing that turned out good in the long run is the hot tub. It was an aggravation with the ordeals I wrote about here in my ongoing saga. (It's still leaking, by the way.) Though it still needs some work, it has been a lifesaver for the joint and muscle pain. It relaxes and makes it so I can fall asleep and sleep most of the night. It's a big seven-seater, has colored lights, 42 jets. I am glad that hubby bought it and put forth such effort to get it going. It has benefited him, too. He has bad knees, carpal tunnel in his wrist and he has an aching back a lot after working all day...walking around the plant he must walk 40 miles a day.

Another good thing is that I lost more than 50 pounds. Not necessarily the way I would have chosen to lose it (having a major medical crisis), but am very happy to be wearing clothes three sizes smaller than I did at this time last year.

2007 wasn't a very good year, medically... with Dad's heart attack and needing a stent put in. Mom finding out she needs medicine for diabetes. Jon developing carpal tunnel in his wrist. Then the development of my gout, then my gallbladder attack, fluid on the lungs crap, and being in the hospital for two weeks, ulcers, etc. Then finding out I have Lupus in addition to Rheumatoid Arthritis, not able to take regular medicines for it because I am asthmatic. Then hurting my back again, and now ending 2007 with Jon having an upper respiratory infection and me with bursitis. Yippee! LOL! All we can do is look at it all with humor. Whatareyagonnado?

But even with this, things could be worse. We are still quite fortunate. Fortunate to have family and friends. Fortunate to live in a nice home and have cars to drive (Even if they stop running now and then, we have the money or credit to repair them.) We have cable, internet, and all kinds of cool stuff. We are warm, we have lots of food to eat, and we have insurance to pay for most of our medical bills. We have good medical care. We are able to get around on our own, not wheelchair bound and no handicap tags for the cars yet! Yes...we are very, very fortunate and must not ever forget the good things to be thankful for. Also thankful to be living in the USA instead of someplace like Darfur.

Hope that 2008 brings a good new President , preferrably an evil liberal Democrat. ;)

Also, hope that 2008 brings better health to everyone, and a lot of good things. Hope 2008 is a better year than 2007 was.

Happy New Year to all my family, friends and loyal readers!


Jon is really sick. You know he is sick when he actually asks to make a doctor appointment for him. So, I did that on the way to the Rheumatologist on Thursday and fortunately, Dr. had openings at 5:20 and 5:50. I needed to go too to find out what was up with my right ear. It's blocked up and can't hear very well out of it.

Well, Jon went first though he wanted the doctor to look at me first, but I said that he was sicker and he had waited long enough. Sure enough, he has a bad upper respiratory infection and so the doctor gave him a decongestant and an antibiotic called Keflex. Poor guy hasn't been this sick in a long time. He keeps going, unlike a lot of men who sit around and whine. He just goes to work and toughs it out. He went to work Friday though he should have stayed home and rested.

He has to go back to the doctor if his symptoms don't improve. His cough is terrible, but his fever is gone. He just has to be careful of getting pneumonia. He did have the chills for awhile, but they are gone now. He has been taking it easy all weekend, which is good, but unlike him. He must feel pretty bad.

As for my ear...fluid in the Eustachian tubes. The left only a tiny bit but the right is full of fluid. So, he advised me to use Ocean Saline Spray five times a day, along with Nascort once a day. So far it's still blocked and if it doesn't clear up have to go to an ENT and maybe have it drained somehow. However they do it. I didn't ask. Hopefully it will clear up without resorting to that.

I went to the Rheumatologist earlier that day, and she checked out my painful shoulder and says it is bursitis...great. She gave me an injection of cortisone in the joint which was combined with an anesthetic. It felt better for a few hours because it was numb...but finally wore off around dinner time and holy felt worse because I was also sore from the injection. There is still a lump where the needle went in.

It also appears that I am having another flare. It seems that the RA is attacking my spine, ankles and feet. My neck is really painful to turn my head and when I lay down in bed it's hard to get comfortable. My neck needs support so I use one of those roll pillows. That helps quite a bit...BUT while sleeping I roll off of it and end up sleeping in a stupid position. This morning I woke up sleeping on my bad shoulder with my neck bent and took me several minutes just to figure out how to get out of bed! Grrrr! But once I got up, things loosened up. They usually loosen up as I move around.

The RA doctor put me on a medication called Plaquenil. It is an anti-malarial drug that is often used to Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus. I read the common side effects as well as all the bad ones and one of the bad ones is vision impairment! Gasp! I didn't want to take it. I talked to my regular doctor later when I went for my ear problem and always check with him before taking anything new anyway, and he said to go ahead and give it a try. He said that those warnings usually are because one person, or a few people have a problem after being on the drug for awhile and they have to put these warnings for their own protection. I can hardly move some days, and he says that if I don't do something for the inflammation that my joints will keep degenerating because I can't move, can't exercise, and have to keep flexible so I don't just shrivel up and end up not being able to move at all. As they say, "Move it or lose it." So, started taking the Plaquenil, reluctantly...cautiously. I have an eye appointment set up with my opthalmologist and will go in for the baseline exam vision field test and all that is needed for drugs that may cause eye problems. I will have to go for an eye exam every 3 to 6 months while on this medicine, just to make sure nothing is happening. If this medicine doesn't help the RA/Lupus in six months, must stop it, take a rest and then she would want to try Methotrexate.
I hope this works because the side effects of Methotrexate sound even scarier! It's what they give cancer patients.

She also increased my Gabapentin which my family doctor had suggested at my last visit but wanted her opinion. So, got that increased, and the new drug and will see how it goes. So far I already notice a difference and need far less of the pain medicine. I went 16 hours without taking a pain pill yesterday which is a record since this Lupus reared it's ugly head in September. I go back to her again the first week of March. I see my family doctor again the second week of February.

I am looking forward to spring because I always feel better in the springtime. Winter is not a good month for any kind of aches and pains whether you have a chronic illness or not. Makes me want to move to Arizona or somewhere else to live, as long as there is an air conditioner for summer. I hate excessive heat as much as I hate the cold.

My mom gave me a paper that contains an article about Lupus and offered to go with me if they every have a seminar in her area...I think I will take her up on it and go. One of the things about Lupus is to try to keep an upbeat attitude and learn how to deal with stressful situations since stress triggers flares, illnesses trigger flares, and a good mental attitude is important. Maybe one of those seminars will have some helpful information and advice.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

uh-oh, ahhh-choo!

Well, hubby probably infected everyone who he was around this weekend with his cold germs. He was in denial that he was coming down with something though I could tell he wasn't feeling right (a big sign was that he was VERY crabby for a few days), and yesterday, Christmas Day, at my folks house, his condition deteriorated and he was pretty miserable by the time we got home. We usually stay till around 9 p.m. or so each year, but we left around 7 this time.

I hoped I would avoid catching his germs, but for the past day or two I have had a blocked-up ear. I felt fine which led me to start investigating other things that might cause my ear to block up. I tried ear wax softener, and the usual ear drop crap, and then the sweet oil crap (which only blocked it up more.) I ate a few spicy peppers even though I really shouldn't because of the stomach problems. That didn't work to unblock it. I finally remembered the Nascort my doctor prescribed for me a few months ago because I can't take antihistamine meds or any over-the-counter stuff because of possible interactions with two of the other medicines I am on. That seems to be working and the pressure in the ear has decreased, however. . . .tonight I have the sniffles! GRRRRRRRR! I hope I don't wake up with a head cold. That would really suck. I had a few pieces of raw garlic and have been drinking juice and green tea in an attempt to fight this before it starts.

Have to go to the Rheumatologist in the morning. Our van is dead. It just refused to start yesterday. At least it went dead here in the driveway and now anywhere across town where I would have to call a tow truck and someone to come rescue me. It will probably have to be towed to the GMC dealer though. He is thinking it is the fuel pump and it it is where he thinks it is, it's going to be a pain to get off, and not to mention, quite expensive. There goes the big screen television that he wanted. I feel sorry for him. Every time he thinks he is going to have money for himself, something breaks or someone needs to borrow it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

My favorite Christmas song

Hardrock, Coco and Joe

From Wikipedia: Hardrock, Coco and Joe is a short stop motion animated cartoon written by Stuart Hamblen. It's about three of Santa Claus' helpers who ride on Santa's sleigh each Christmas. The short has become an annual "Christmas Classic" on Chicago's WGN-TV since its introduction in the early 1950s.

Its full title is Hardrock, Coco and Joe - The Three Little Dwarfs. It was originally created by a company called Centaur Productions. Its running time is about 2 minutes and 45 seconds. This cartoon is traditionally broadcast with their two other short Christmas cartoons, "Suzy Snowflake" and "Frosty the Snowman".

According to the narrative song, Hardrock drives Santa's sleigh, and Coco navigates with maps. Santa "has no need for Joe/ but takes him 'cause he loves him so". Part of the charm of this primitively-made cartoon is that Joe, the smallest of the three and very boyish-looking has a deep bass voice.


Oh-lee-o-lay-dee, o-lay-dee-I-ay
Donner and Blitzen, away, away
Oh-lee-o-lay-dee, o-lay-dee-I-oh
I'm Hardrock!
I'm Coco!
I'm Joe!

Rudoloh the blow up reindeer

One of my favorite childhood Christmas Eve memories is of my grandfather giving me an inflatable reindeer toy similar to the one pictured here. I loved that thing. I later found out from my mom that he had gotten the reindeer free with a fill-up of gasoline for his car at a local gas station.

Little kids are pleased with simple things. When our kids were little they would open their presents and end up playing with the empty boxes, using their imaginations to make houses, boats, cars, buses, trains, etc.

It seems that in today's world, less and less is left to the imagination. Toys ring with buzzers and bells, dolls talk, go potty, sing and dance. Too many toys do not allow a child to pretend. There is enough time in their future for reality. Childhood should be a time for fantasy, fun, and "magic".

Back to the blow-up reindeer. I searched for years for one in the stores and a few years ago I couldn't believe my eyes when I found one at a local store. It has a leak which I am trying to find, but I will not throw it away. I hope to find the leak and patch it so I can set him under the tree.

Other people aren't really impressed with plastic, blow-up Rudolph, but it brings back memories for me of a simpler time when people had real trees and the big, fat colored lights and messy tinsel that hung like icicles on the bows of real trees. A time when people were satisfied with simple things.


(AFP/Adrian Dennis)
I ran across this photo in Yahoo News today...a Blue Tit hanging from a branch. A photographer caught this as the birdie was waiting his turn at a bird feeder in Minley Manor, Farnborough, some 40 miles west of London. It is one of my New Year's resolutions to get back to doing photography again. I really enjoy it and there are plenty of photo opportunities in the area I live.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

This is cool

Check out others at Parallax

Morning after snowstorm

This is the view looking out of my diningroom doors. Yesterday we had a big snowstorm. One day the forecast called for snow "showers" and then yesterday the snow showers forecast turned into possible heavy accumulations with travel advisories, cancellations at O'Hare and Midway airports. Today we are digging out, or I should say Jon is digging out . . . poor man. His back is bothering him too and I wish he would just pay a neighborhood kid to do it. But he's stubborn. And he won't ask our son to do it, and our son won't offer to do it. So, he goes out there and hurts his back more. :roll: Now he has to go help the other son fix a car in this crap. I think he likes being needed and is why he wants to help, and why he won't tell them to do crap themselves.

I would love to go for a walk in this, and kick the snow around, but am paranoid that I will slip and fall and break something. When I see an untouched yard full of new-fallen snow, I want to go make footprints in it. I especially love the way it sparkles, like little diamonds scattered everywhere. Real diamonds have never really mattered to me (though small diamond stud earrings would be nice so I don't have to keep buying the $12 cubic zirconias), the diamonds that shine in the snow are priceless...and so many of them! No one could ever own that many diamonds that can be found in new snow.

I am going to go get a cup of hot Ovaltine now and watch for my squirrel friend to come and get his breadcrumbs that I put out for him on the deck.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reading time . . .

I finally started reading this book after it sitting on my shelf for a few years now! I bought it while working on my Masters, planning to read it when I finished. Well, I finished my Masters in five years and still on the shelf! So, I picked it up the other day and started reading and it is an attention getter from the first page. The story starts out pretty gross. This is one of those evil twin/good twin stories and I am wondering where it is going to go. My soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Whitney read it already and said it is very good. I will be posting a review of it on my Literary Reflections blog once I am finished with it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More crap.

I went to the gynecologist last week, just for a regular check-up since I hadn't gone for years and years and everyone was telling me I should go. So, I did. The doctor sent me for a mammogram and a DEXA bone density scan and I thought nothing of it and forgot about it since he said no news is good news.

Well, he called today, and when I heard him say "This is Dr. N" I thought at first it was that something was wrong with the mammogram since I hadn't had one for years, and was so cocky talking to the technician about breast cancer not running in our family. Then he told me that I have moderate osteoporosis in my lumbar spine, and in my right hip. I wonder why the back doctor didn't order a bone scan before sending me for therapy treatments that are not working! The gynecologist wants me to take Fosamax. I need to talk to my internist about this. I don't want to take more drugs. And Fosamax sounds like it would be bad in many's the list of side effects:

Serious side effects:
  • an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives);
  • difficulty or pain when swallowing;
  • chest pain;
  • pain or burning under the ribs or in the back; or
  • new or worsening heartburn.

Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur:

  • abdominal discomfort; (I just got the ulcers cured so don't need this!)
  • stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation;
  • headache;
  • muscle, bone, or joint soreness or aches;(I'm on meds to try to get RID of chronic pain, so do I really need a drug to cause MORE??)
  • eye pain; (wonderful)
  • a rash;
  • an altered sense of taste.
So, I am waiting for my internist to call me back so we can discuss this and talk about other options to slow down the bone thinning without taking more risky drugs.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Falling down

falling down
Today is a hazardous winter day. Our oldest son went out the front door and ended up falling on his ass. Fortunately, he didn't break anything except one of his CD cases.

My "artwork"


This is one of my beginner works of "art" that Mary wanted framed for Christmas this year. She wanted this, along with several other things I have done and that have been hiding in portfolios and folders in closets and shelves. I am flattered that she thinks they are good enough to frame. I would have never considered framing them and displaying them for all the world to see, but she thinks they are good enough.Another one I sent is below (these are scans so make them look worse than they are:

But my photography is better. Here is a photo I framed of Mary's cat, Doggie. Doggie is a gorgeous cat, even though she is sort of obnoxious at times. I took this photo when Doggie was staying with us for a couple months while Mary was doing a lot of traveling. She is very pretty when groomed and she smells so nice after being washed in perfumey shampoo.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It's snowing

It's the first big snow of the season. Since the weather forecast early in the day called for snow starting mid-afternoon, and I was out in the middle of the afternoon and nothing was happening, I was hoping that they were wrong again. But, the snow was just taking it's sweet time getting here.

It's falling softly, no wind. Just gently falling down like powdered sugar through a sifter. It's sparkly in the light of the street lamps. It's very pretty when I don't have to drive in it. It can go from pretty, to pretty ugly when you have to make an hour-long trek to work in it.

For now, I will just enjoy it from inside, gazing out the window at it while sipping my steamy cup of hot coffee flavored with egg-nog CoffeeMate.
sparkly snowglobe

Monday, December 03, 2007

I got all of my holiday cards addressed, notes written and all mailed already. I used to put in a newsletter, but after doing that a couple of years, I realized how impersonal that really was. So now, I had jot a couple of paragraphs to some friends who like to know what has been going on during the past year and asking how they are doing and their kids, etc. taking into consideration the differences of all my friends since they are from all walks of life, and all sorts of beliefs and traditions. One general "blanket" newsletter doesn't do it.

With having so many pen pals, I get holiday cards from all over the world. My penfriends try to send something "cultural" from their country and in their own language...then they translate what it says. The images usually reflect some food, attire, decorations recipes etc. that is native or traditional to their country and area. I usually try to find something from Illinois...Chicago or the Midwest. Even out-of-town/state relatives would love to know more about where we each live.

People in other countries get a big kick out of America's image of the big-fat Santa Claus with his big pot belly and fat, red cheeks and gluttony for cookies and milk. In many of the European and Scandinavian countries, St. Nick is tall, thin and in many countries surrounded by a bunch of black Moor slaves! (Not very "politically correct" in these modern times and I don't think Blacks here in the USA would stand for it.) Like many other things/concepts, peoples' interpretations of Santa are numerous and varied.

Whatever one's beliefs, it's nice to have a time of year to remember friends and family and to catch up with what they are doing and how they are doing. Too bad it's only once a year that we do this with most long-distance family and friends.

I love books

I love books, but I have been a lazy reader lately. I have been reading Augusten Burroughs' "Possible Side Effects" for three months now and still have about a third of the book to go. It's not a very long book, and it is quite funny and interesting, but I have ADD when it comes to focusing on anything lately. I am supposed to be doing a few drawings/paintings for my daughter for Xmas presents, but haven't started yet...BUT Mary, if you are reading this...I am starting on that today.

I love to read so I am going to start getting back in the habit again I think the problem is that there are so many things I want to do that I don't know where to start, so don't start at all. When I went back to the university to get my B.A. and M.A. I had a reason to read, and people to discuss what I had read with. And people who had diverse opinions and open minds. But there isn't anyone to do that with now...except my daughter, Mary who also loves "intelligent' fiction. (I HATE Danielle Steel novels and similar types of "pop" fiction.)

I have tried to get into Russian writers like Dostoevsky, for instance and they are all so "hyper" and there is that thing they do by assigning multiple names for each character, and those names are used interchangeably throughout the story so it's difficult to keep up with who the hell is talking or who is being talked to or about. They are also very "hyper" with way too much activity going on and the dialogue is also very hyper and crazy. There is a scattering of humor throughout, but getting to those parts is very annoying, in my opinion anyway. My daughter loves Russian literature and even took a whole class in it at Yale...I think it was.

My favorite writer, as I mentioned back in the summer, is Doris Lessing. I did my Masters' thesis on her books Mara and Dann and African Stories. I also love anything by Ann Beatty, Margaret Atwood. Don Delillo, Cormic McCarthy, Edgar Allen Poe (who was a wonderful essay writer and too bad he is only known for his "horror" stuff.)

I can read several books at one time. Well, not exactly at the same time, but I like to read some of one book, some of another and just rotate books during the day like one watches several television programs. I am now reading Wally Lamb's "I Know This Much Is True". I have had that on my shelf for a few years now, along with about fifty other's I have bought but haven't read yet. I am finishing the Burroughs' book, as I mentioned above, and I am also reading a book on creative writing which is also a workbook with exercises to get going on that again. I have had writer's block, as far as my fiction goes. Blogging keeps me writing, but not the type of writing that is publishable.

I am going to re-read Orwell's "1984" soon, and I want to read Salinger's "Frannie and Zooey". "Catcher in the Rye" is one of my favorites, and so am expecting "Frannie and Zooey" to be good, also. I loved Holden's cynicism and dark humor in"Catcher in the Rye" and found myself laughing out loud at times. I am off to do some reading.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I've always wanted to decorate with all-blue lights

If I won the lottery I would do this to my whole house and front lawn.

A good day

The image on the right is a photo taken by Michael Pancier. It's called Sunday's Rose and is absolutely gorgeous, isn't it?

Today was a good day. Whitney and Jeff came by, that's why. They always cheer things up by stopping by. Whitney and I played Scrabble while Jon and Jeff worked on Jeff's old Audi, which is his third spare car they use in winter weather so they don't have to risk an accident with their GTO. From my experience driving a GTO, they don't handle very well in snow and ice, AND their's is way to pretty to have some idiot smash into it.

After Jon and Jeff were done with the car, we all had bean soup for lunch. I make the best 15-bean soup. I add sliced fresh carrots, garlic, diced tomatoes, and green peppers and minced onion. I also add spices from jar like a bit of oregano, celery seed, thyme, and a bit of cayenne pepper for a little zip. Then I let it simmer in the CrockPot for eight long hours. Mmmmmmm. The whole house smells good while it's cooking.

We watched a really stupid movie called "Dangerous something" (I forget what now) about a banshee that hated light and these fruitballs lure it up into a lighthouse and then destroy it finally by having to go all the way back down to the bottom of the lighthouse again and flicking some switch. It was really lame. But we had to watch it once we started to find out how it ended.

After that, Jeff and Jason were looking stuff up about computers online, so Whitney and I started another game of Scrabble, but then it got late so we quit in the middle when they decided they better get going. Well, they weren't gone but a couple of minutes and I saw that they had left their smoothie cups here that they had brought with them. So, when I called Jeff to let him know, then things got a bit chaotic again...always something, like I say...the Audi died before they even got out of town! This Audi was our car for years before Jeff bought it. He had it at our house so Jon could fix a few things on it. Well, we know how that goes lately with Jon fixing things. He just has way too much too keep up with anymore. So, we went to their rescue, and turns out that it has a bad alternator. It's now parked in his friend's driveway until Jon can get a new alternator and install it.

We had planned on going to Sam's Club for some things, but by the time we got the car taken care of, it was closed...but no biggie. Jon can stop by there on his way home tomorrow. We did get to Jewel, however for my bananas and a few other items. It's cold and windy out there tonight. It had been warmer earlier, but then temps plunged and that evil wind is back.

Time to go get snuggly under the covers with my microwave heated booties.