Friday, December 9, 2016

You're Invited

It's that glorious time of the year when parties abound; so I've decided that now would be the perfect time to join in the fun. So let's have a Reasonably Well Holiday party. Ready? You are? Brilliant!  Don your prettiest or most handsome party clothes, and we'll celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, New Year's, and whatever holiday you feel deserves to be marked by a raised glass of bubbly and a witty toast.

Cheers! Here's to you, my wonderful friends who have been so supportive and generous and well.....just excellent people. I'm sipping my favorite decaf coffee here at the party, so it's raised high in your honor and in best wishes for a fabulous holiday season and beyond.

Slurp. Delicious. I'd better be careful not to spill coffee on my stunning peacock feather and sequined full length gown. I had to lose 40 pounds overnight to get the zipper zipped. What are y'all wearing?

Like my cup and saucer set? My buddy Karen has a matching one. 

I hope y'all said Merry Christmas to Pinky as you came in. He's all toasty in his Santa coat and hat. Notice how I had to wrap it around the porch spindle to keep him from blowing away in this cold blustery weather. But don't comment about that to him. He's a little touchy about his clothing.

Did you notice that your invitation requested that you bring your favorite party food? I've made my mom's yummy brandy drenched fruitcake. Mmmmmmmm. Alcohol-y......*hic* Let me know which delicacy you've decided to bring. You can put it down on the buffet table spread with my newest Christmas tablecloth. Check out the goat pulling Santa's sleigh and the elf riding a pig. Aren't they awesome?

I got it online on an Etsy shop after learning that actually the goat and pig depicted on this terrific vintage cloth are very traditional Scandinavian Christmas characters. Delightful. You can buy your very own here. (It is an eBay link so after this is sold, who knows where you can find others. Sorry.)

I've always loved goats. But y'all know that.

Once you have your plate heaped with treats and are balancing your drink in your other hand join me over by the Christmas tree. (Psssst - Terese? Um. It's not good party etiquette to wade in the chocolate fountain, dear.....WELL. I NEVER. It's also not good etiquette to dribble chocolate over your hostess' head! Indignant sniff.)

Pardon me as I lick the chocolate off my sequins. Oh golly. Now it's dripping from my ears......say. Quite delicious chocolate fondue.

But enough about me. Tell me EVERYTHING. It seems like forever since we've talked.

What a great party. Wait. What's happening way over by the buffet table? Oh my.

People? People?! PEOPLE!! Do NOT join Terese in the fountain! At least have the courtesy to remove your socks first!! Golly. I'll never get all that chocolate off the ceiling..... What do you mean "it's all my fault"? Because I got a fountain the size of a wading pool? How ridiculous.

Guess if you can't beat 'em, you should join 'em........MOVE OVER, GUYS. I should have put a stack of beach towels under the table. And I'm not paying for anybody's after-the-chocolate dry cleaning. Just sayin'.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Being Soaked in Sweat isn't Fun

Well. One biggie holiday down, one more to go! So even though December is here and we have a snowstorm predicted for's still Thanksgiving in my house.

Well, it's Thanksgiving on my formal dining room table, that is. Our method for changing out holiday junk that I threaten to give to Goodwill every year um, I mean precious seasonal decor, is pretty simple. I go through the house and grab anything that's orange or looks like a turkey, a pilgrim, or an Indian, and unceremoniously dump it all on top of my table. Then I repeat until I am reasonably certain that I've collected everything.

I always forget something. Lulu promised she'd scout around for missed things but I think she got distracted by a neighborhood cat when I took this picture.

The next important step is to round up John and ask him to drag all of the boxes marked "Thanksgiving" or "Fall" down from the attic. He never seems to mind, bless his heart. Especially when it's time to lug all of the filled boxes back upstairs, and THEN find all of the Christmas boxes and drag them downstairs.

Whew. It's hard work for all of us. I just love every minute.

So the only thing that takes some of the fun out of this process is my inevitable post-Thanksgiving weekend crash. It never fails. I look forward to putting up our Christmas tree and getting all the stockings hung and all that stuff, but it takes me forever to get anything done. I'm tired, and when I do muster up some energy, I end up drenched in sweat.

If a guest that hasn't seen me standing in a puddle of perspiration happens to be here, they'll assume that I'm having a hot flash. And then I try to explain that I'm not soaked because of my hormones and that I don't feel warm at all. In fact, my skin is ice cold. "It's just one of those autoimmune things..". I say and then the guest's eyes glaze over with incomprehension.

This year, I seem to be having more fatigue and sweaty hours than usual. In fact, I'm sitting here at my computer with a bath towel by my side, which I use to mop my head and face and neck and chest.

My son suggested that I look into using one of these things when I know a sweat-soaked incident is coming up, so I ordered one.

It's supposed to keep you cool but it also is supposed to absorb perspiration. I don't care much about the cooling factor but I sure could use some help dealing with all this sweat. I ordered the headband version too so I'll have help at the top AND the bottom of my head. Has anyone used these things? I'll let y'all know how they work for me. 

But in the meantime, it's time to turn up the Christmas music and get back to my turkey packing. Sing it Bing! it. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I've Put it Off for Awhile.....

Getting ready for Thanksgiving? Yes?

Me too.

I'm doing the usual stuff like making up the guest beds, thawing out the turkeys - yes turkey pleural - and simmering the gravy out of a pot of giblets. But I've had a cleaning bee in my bonnet for ages and I've decided to add one more task to my getting-ready-for-thanksgiving schedule. All of the kids have moved out of the house ages ago yet I haven't cleaned out the bathroom vanity that they all shared. Yep. Six drawers STILL holding contact junk, a zillion different types of hair styling goo, brushes, hair dryers, hair straighteners, hair curlers, makeup, makeup brushes, and more half-empty bottles of nail polish than I cared to count. Among other things.


It was time to roll up my sleeves, grab a handful of garbage bags and clean all six of those drawers out. But since I had no idea what the kids wanted me to save, this required extensive texting. Thank goodness for smart phones with cameras.

When I sent this picture, not one of 'em would claim this delightful item:

They all sent back the same response: "EWWWWW. Not mine"

I suspect one of them is not 'fessing up to ownership of a fifteen year old retainer. 

As I made my way through the drawers, we played the same game that we all have played for the last twenty five years or so: Keep it or Pitch it. I'd send a picture of something, and if I could get one of them to admit owning it, made them decide if I was to throw it out, or put it aside for them. 

I told them that if I didn't get a text back after sending the picture the thing would go in the trash. Bam. I warned them that their mother was getting ruthless over here. My son texted back, "Just make sure not to throw out my shaver and shaving cream."

I rifled through the remaining junk in the drawers. And, of course. No shaver. No shaving cream. 

I am proud to report that after lugging out two garbage bags of junk and scrubbing out years-old layers of hair products and hand lotion, every one of those six drawers is sparkling clean.

I think I'm too exhausted to make any food for Thanksgiving. But I'll send all of our guests into the bathroom to admire my work. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Truth: Worth it on Jezebel

Notice the big old picture of an Azo box at the head of this post? At the moment, I consider this medication a life-saver as I battle yet another urinary tract infection. I always, but ALWAYS have a box of these little brown beauties in my medicine cabinet. Because I get more than my fair share of UTIs and Azo helps relieve their resulting mind blowing discomfort. This typed as I dash from my comfy chair to the bathroom.

Nurse Julia says that if you have a UTI, be sure to drink lots of water, wear loose fitting pants and cotton panties, avoid bladder irritating drinks such as alcohol, coffee, and citrus drinks, and to get thyself to a physician-ordered-pee-in a-cup-urinalysis-type place if you have symptoms for more than 48 hours. If you have never had a UTI and aren't sure what the symptoms are, well bless your lucky little heart. And bladder. Here's the symptoms per Mayo Clinic:
Urinary tract infections don't always cause signs and symptoms, but when they do they may include:
  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  • Urine that appears cloudy
  • Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored — a sign of blood in the urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain, in women — especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
UTIs may be overlooked or mistaken for other conditions in older adults
Here's the thing - if you have had one UTI, you will be totally in fear of having another. But take heart. The active ingredient in the over the counter drug Azo is phenazopyridine which interestingly enough is a dye. It is taken orally and is soothing to the urinary tract, and boy howdy. It is very effective for me. Hence my desire to lift my glass of cranberry juice in agreement with this author of the following article which sings the praises of this medical miracle.
But before you click on over to read the piece on Jezebel, consider this: Nurse Julia cautions that if you have never had a UTI before and suspect you may have one, contact your doctor immediately. Also, don't take Azo for more than two days without your doctor's consent. Read these important precautions when considering taking this drug. This medication will not cure a UTI, just masks some of it's symptoms. I think the potential side effect of staining your tears and contacts is just kind of creepy. Luckily I've never noticed this. 
Here's yet another warning: the Jezebel article uses pretty salty language so it's not for the faint of heart. Here's an excerpt and the link. I think I'll take my schnauzer and my blankie and my heating pad and big-gulp size water glass and take a nap.......
By Chelsea Morgan Hoffmann
I get UTIs a lot. I don't drink enough water (which is really dumb, and I'm working on it, I swear); as a result, I often suffer from the horrible, my-body-will-never-be-right-again pain that anyone who has ever suffered a UTI knows about. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, October 31, 2016

I'm liking the All Hallowed Eve holiday.

I think my granddoggie Frodo rocks his hot dog costume. 

Happy Halloween! As I write this, I'm contemplating dusting the most obviously gross surfaces in my house before our diner guests arrive; but I'm also thinking that since this is supposedly the scariest day of the year, a thick layer of dust over everything might be easily dubbed as intentional. Part of the seasonal decor. What do you think? It seems logical to me.......I wish I could persuade a spider or two to spin a few webs to complete the effect.

Too bad I can't think of a way to justify a sink full of dishes as halloween decorations.

It certainly feels as though the fall holidays have arrived on this chilly and rainy day. And aside from a few housekeeping details that I'd rather forget, the house is ready for fall too.

Tomorrow I'll switch out turkeys for spiders, black cats, and ravens.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Pigeons: More than meets the eye.

Image from Wikipedia 

Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with Sjogren's Disease. Also: Who cares?

Here's an interesting little tidbit of information: Pigeons can spot breast cancer in medical images about equally as well as humans do.

Say WHAT?! So I'm wondering about a couple of things. First, what kind of scientist would even wonder if these feathery bird brains had that specific capability? Secondly, how did he or she train them to do this?

And the biggest head-scratcher of all: so what are they planning to do with this discovery? Even the researchers concede that there would be big obstacles in hiring the grey winged wonders:
"And even for the lower-level tasks where the birds matched human abilities, there would be huge regulatory and legal hurdles to actually using them in diagnosis."
I don't even want to hypothesize what legal wording would look like when discussing pigeons and medical imagery and cancer in the same sentence. And would the regulations include pigeons wearing birdie diapers? And white lab coats? 

Here's the link to the story by Read it and you can formulate your own questions: 

In lab tests, common pigeons were taught to read some of the same subtle cues in x-rays and microscope slides that medical professionals look for to distinguish between healthy and cancerous tissue. After just over two weeks of training, the pigeons could make the correct diagnosis 85 percent of the time, an astonishing level of accuracy that rivals the performance of human pathologists.
While you won't be booking an appointment with a pigeon doctor anytime soon, the results suggest that the birds could play a role in evaluating new medical imaging techniques and creating better display technologies.
“Pigeons may not be able to write poetry, but they’ve had millions of years to develop the abilities that they need to navigate a very complicated and dangerous world,” quips study leader Richard Levenson, a professor in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of California, Davis. “So it doesn’t surprise me that they can do pathology!”
Read more here

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

GoFundMe: Help Christine Smile

I know that this courageous young woman's Spoon Theory has certainly helped me to explain my chronic illness and fatigue to others. But it appears that Christine Miserandino is struggling with yet another battle requiring strength and courage. Read on:

Have you ever heard of The Spoon Theory? 

It's a story that Christine Miserandino wrote that helps explain what living with Lupus or any other chronic illness is like. After having been asked what it was really like by a friend – Christine grabbed the nearest thing to her – spoons (she was in a diner after all) and gave them to her friend. Then she asked her friend to describe her day. Her friend made generalizations like – getting up to pee, brush her teeth, get breakfast. 
Christine broke it down for her – first she had to get her body moving in bed, then she had to stave off the nausea in order to walk to the bathroom. Breakfast – yea, she needed to eat something – in order to take her handful of pills, but what do you fix – and eat – when you have nausea and no appetite. 
Each of these tasks takes just a bit of energy – which adds up to spoons. The more she went thru the day – the more the spoons disappeared. Before the end of the day – the spoons were gone, and like I said – the day wasn't over. 
What do you do then? 
You can read the entire essay here:
She wrote The Spoon Theory in 2003. Since then it has been read and translated all over the world – yup – all over the world. The Facebook page for has over 1 million fans. The fans that are sick – well, we call ourselves Spoonies. Every day messages of thanks come to Christine for giving a way to explain the fatigue, the fog, the pain of being chronically ill. It fills Christine's heart to know that she's touched so many in such a meaningful way. 
One of her fave quotes is 
“We rise by lifting others” Robert Ingersoll
This is where the Spoon Lady is today – she has lost her beautiful smile. 
Everyday, she wakes, takes her medicines and puts on her beautiful smile for the world to see. The smile that says to the world – But I Don't Look Sick! 
But Christine has had a very difficult year – and she has lost the ability to put on the smile. It is gone. Continue reading here

Monday, October 10, 2016

And the Wedding Cake Was Wonderful Too

Well. Today I am completely wiped out. Seriously. But the event that caused this level of fatigue was definitely worth the time spent resting today. Check out the pictures and I guarantee you will know what I was doing over the past weekend:

Ah, yes. I love weddings, especially this one for a young lady that is part of a large family that we consider dear friends.

After the Saturday shenanigans, we were invited to have breakfast at the bride's parents home and before we ate, a private Mass was celebrated. I have never attended a Mass like this one, and it was extraordinarily special.

We gathered round a kitchen table covered with a white linen tablecloth. And the young priest, also a member of the bride's extended family, led the 12 of us in the most intimate celebration of the Mass that I have ever attended. It was amazing.

After the concluding prayers, a delicious breakfast was spread over the same white tablecloth; and we gathered around the table yet again to enjoy toast made from home made bread spread with hand-preserved huckleberry and blackberry jam; followed by eggs made to order, bacon, and fresh fruit.

What a morning feast!

What a great way to start the week!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I Wobble

So, y'all know that I've been locked into a fight till the death struggle with my bicycle. Which, incidentally is the cutest thing evar now that she has a basket and a bell. Cuteness aside, it never seems to fail that every time I get on the thing I come away with scrapes and bruises. 

But I'm not giving up. *strikes a confident pose with a wonder woman cape fluttering behind her in the breeze*

One of my recent tumbles off my buckin' bronco bike caused me to land squarely on my new knee joint. Was a real beaut. I was able to get up and walk around on the thing just fine and so was pretty confident that I had not injured the knee implant, but as the bruises developed and it started to swell, I wasn't so sure. So the next day I motored myself over to my doctor's office and presented myself. We had an interesting discussion that took off in a direction that I wasn't counting on. 

"Oh, my! So how did this happen?"

Dr. M is a very nice young woman who didn't know what she was in for when she accepted me into her internal medicine caseload a few years ago. 

I explained all; after which she gave my knee a very thorough examination. "I'm sure that you didn't damage your new joint at all," she said.

"I'm actually more concerned about WHY you fell." 

I fell because that's just how I roll, so to speak. 

She frowned. "So have you fallen when you were not on your bicycle?"

Of course. But I've always been fine afterwards. 

"Why do you think you have fallen when not on your bike?"

Let's see........once because I kind of missed one of the steps going from the house to the garage and planted myself face first on the concrete...."

She winced and held up a hand. "Hang on. You're falling at home? In an area that's very familiar to you?" I nodded. "How many times in the last year?"

I suppose about........three or so.

We went on to have a lengthy discussion about the zillion reasons that may be contributing to my inclination to topple over; during which I was mentally kicking myself for even allowing this particular medical can of worms to be opened. Because I knew what would inevitably follow. And it did:

"I would like you to have a further assessment of your fall risk."

(Hoo boy. Here we go, I thought.)

"I am scheduling you for a Preventing Falls class, and also for some one on one assessments by physical therapy looking at your gait and ambulation skills."

(I knew it. Drat. MORE appointments.) 

After another discussion about using hand rails, lighting up dark areas, wearing my glasses, being vigilant, blah blah blah blah blah......she finally said, "Show me your shoes."

I dutifully stuck one foot out. 

"Those knit fabric type sneakers don't provide any kind of stability for you at all. I want you to go through your shoes and either give away or toss those that don't fit exactly right, those that have high heels, any flip flops at all, and those that are flimsy and don't provide good support for your entire foot including your heels. So no slip-ons."

Curses. I saw the words INCREASED FALL RISK get typed onto my electronic medical record. 

I left grumpily, certain that she had just given me a sentence of life-wearing-awful-ugly-shoes. Like these:

However it didn't take me long to figure out that if I needed to toss a closet full of shoes, then it was only logical that a serious shoe shopping trip should follow. 

Which it did. And sorry John -- I've only just begun.....

Saturday, September 17, 2016

What Fun

Guys. I've been having such a good time helping my daughter plan her wedding. Their wedding ceremony will take place in a tiny little church up in the Cascade mountains, and her reception about ten minutes further up on the mountain. It will be beautiful.

We were scouting around the area where the festivities will take place when I snapped this photo which makes me so happy. My two son-in-laws, (well, one is almost my son-in-law) with my daughter sandwiched between them. I just love 'em all to death. Times like this remind me how good life is.