Friday, January 30, 2009

Skeletons In The Closet

Things being the way they are, I'm rarely frivolous with money or time these days. However, today was an exception. Eric & I decided to complete New Year's Resolution # 1 on my list. Visit the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office Gift Shop, aka Skeletons In The Closet.

I had never been to the Coroner's office before, thank goodness, and certainly today's business was only of the funny kind. But I know that my words are not what you are interested in. You want to see the pictures. So without further ado, I present our field trip.

Welcome to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.

Parking is by permit only. Get your permit at the Receptionist's Desk.
Administrative Building. This is not where the Receptionist is located. We found out the hard way.
Ah, finally. The main building.
And at last... the parking permit!
Skeletons in the Closet. The Gift Shop.
They do carry a large assortment of stuff!

But don't write a bad check for it.

Or they might send you downstairs.

Claudia, guess what they were advertising in the Gift Shop!?!?! This one's for you, babe.
Yes, I really visited the Coroner's Gift Shop. The proof is in the picture. And also in the commemorative Beach Towel to remember the day by, although I admit that the "Body Fluids" Water Bottle was my sentimental favorite.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Giving myself a break?

It's still very hard for me to find an appropriate middle ground on which to judge my own actions. My therapist often says that I am very harsh when looking at myself; maybe, but I don't think I'm more harsh than the judgements heaped upon me while growing up or into my thirties or even forties. But then again, I was wrong about so much of the social interactions I had during that time frame that I don't know if that is even true.

Fast forward to the present. I am just off of a year of terrible illness. We finally got a diagnosis and treatment, and although I am still suffering from one of the two bacterial infections they found as well as the Inflamatory Bowel Disease, I'm feeling much better. Well enough that I am quite willing to push myself physically in order to restore my body. That means not only going to Slimmons for Richard's three classes a week (when he's in town, but I always show on that schedule even when there is a substitute teacher), but now I've picked up Ann's classes on the off days. That means I'm exercising - after a fashion - six days a week.

I'm getting on the scale daily, as horrified as I am to see the creeping numbers escalate. It's bad enough that few of my clothes fit anymore, and I can't stand my image in the mirror. In hard numbers, the gain isn't so bad, but I have always been terrified of returning from where I came, and I'm well aware that the National Weight Loss Registry folks have found through research that few people who gain some or all of the weight they lost will ever lose it again.

I really put Richard on the spot last Saturday, begging him (literally) to let me turn food sheets in again, even as he didn't really want to take them. The trouble is that I just don't seem to have the strength to do them and look at what I'm eating if there's nobody to be accountable to. That started last year, right about the time that I was getting really sick, and I haven't journaled my foods since then. And I need to look at what I am doing desperately. I need to know if my weight gain is my fault or not.

I am terribly unsatisfied with myself as I currently am. After illnesses of the past, I still had muscle memroy left even as I was so systemically weak from being ravaged by Crohns Disease. But this time is different. Rather than a terrible episode that lasted months, but only a few months at a time, I have been down for the count for almost a year. So sick and tired that I was unable to appropriately care for myself. Definitely too sick to exercise with any regularity or vigor. Many comments have passed from my lips describing last year as one in which I spent the majority of my time in bed. And it's not an exageration either.

My muscles are gone. Gone to the point that I am unable to even do many basic household chores. Definitely I'm too weak to do more than walk through the physical classes that I'm taking. I spoke to Dr. B- about it two weeks ago, and he told me that with the degree of illness that I've been coping with, it would probably take a whole year to restore myself to some semblance of normal. That is, if I don't get sick again.

Truthfully, I took that news with grace and a certain resignation. I'd been pushing myself incredibly hard since being well enough to get back on my feet again, and also monitoring my weight closely. I'd started the "No Bread Challenge" in my home, and was successful in my endeavor. I was starting to cut back on restaurant meals too.

But then Dr. B- gave me a hard apprasial, looking me up and down and announcing that I should be much thinner given what I had been coping with medically. In fact, I should be emaciated! When I protested and described how I had been eating for the past year, relying on frozen meals, what others would bring to me from the outside, and things that I could grab (like P&J Sandwiches) because I was too weak to cook, he assured me that it didn't matter what I had been eating. I should be thinner. And he told me that the last time that he had checked, my thyroid was borderline slow, and that he bet it had crossed the line.

I was elated! That's every fat persons dream... to be diagnosed with slow thyroid! I had never considered it for myself. In fact, I work so hard to remain out of "denial" phase that I rarely acknowledge even when a weight gain might be legitimate and chemically induced by my medicines. As might be the case now, although I don't know for sure. All I know is that by not looking at the numbers and by making excuses, it's a sure path to going back from where I came. A fate worse than death as far as I'm concerned.

So Dr. B- had blood drawn to test my thyroid and gave me instructions to call him the following week. And I walked out of that office all a-glow! Everyone could tell that something was different. I shared the news with precious few people, but I was truly happy. I could relax a little. If my current weight struggle wasn't my fault, and if it could be solved with a little pill, then why worry?

Well, the inevidable day came when I was to call Dr B-. I was so hopeful about the news that I could hardly believe it when he told me. My thyroid is still borderline. It's slower than normal, but certainly not a candidate for treatment at this time. I could barely hear what else he had to tell me. The weight of responsibility came crashing down on my shoulders again. It was probably worse than before, because I had let up on myself by so much. Allowed myself to be hopeful and happy for a week. It got me nowhere.

Now I'm recognizing old patterns. I revile my image in the mirror. I am more worried about letting myself down than letting Richard down, but my status at Slimmons is directly tied in to being one of his success stories. He's mentioned me by name in a number of his TV appearances as of late, in conjunction with the release of Party Off the Pounds. I'm terrified that I won't live up to his hype, and that somebody is going to find out. Oy.

Nothing I do is good enough. No matter what I attempt, it's not going to be good enough either. An old pattern.

I also feel the weight of depression coming down on me. My logical self tells me that I should probably ask for a course of antidepressants, but SSRI's are assoiciated with weight gain. My logical self tells me that I should ask Dr. V- to set up an IV hydration too (yes, I'm definitely dehydrated), but again, I'm scared that the weight gain from that might not go away. I'm almost frozen into inaction.

Except for the food. Since I forced Richard's hand, I've filled out my food sheet. My days are pretty good, but I also know that forcing myself to look has also forced me into evaluating my choices as I'm making them. I'm eating less. I'm not eating overnight. I'm eating less calorie dense foods.

But it all comes down to the same thing. Can I live with myself as I am? Am I as valid a person at an increased weight as I am at goal? The sad answer is that I don't think so. It's hard for me to be outgoing and social, even at my best. The more I weigh, the harder it is. I'm so afraid of harsh judgement.

As if anyone could be harder on me than I am on myself. I wish I could give myself a break.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obama Nation

Don't get me wrong. I liked Barack Obama for President from way before he ever declared his candadicy. WAY before. I was too sick last year to work for his campaign although I thought about trying. I donated money... a small amount of money (ok, $10), even as I was broke and facing astronomical medical bills that I did not know how I was going to pay. I talked about him to whoever would listen; I debated friends who did not see the same things in him that I did; I explained to supporters why those that didn't like him did not (I took the time to really talk to McCain supporters and understand their point of view... and I got it, even as I did not agree), and helped his supporters understand the divide in this country. While believing in him whole heartedly.

I was happy when he took Sarah Palin's kids off of the political table. Espousing exactly what I believe... that except if they played an active role in the campaign as a consenting teenager or adult, they should be left alone.

And I respected him. I still do.

The only thing that I ask of Mr. Obama is not to disappoint me. Not that I'm sure he won't endorse, or at least compromise on, public policy that I don't necessarily agree with. That's a given. But what I desperately don't want is him to pull a Bill Clinton. "I did not have sex with that woman." And with that phrase, rather than 'it's a personal matter and none of your business,' Mr. Clinton brought our government to a halt for over a year during the Impeachment process. I didn't and don't care who he was having affairs with. I don't care if Obama has affairs or not. It's a personal matter and none of my business. But all I ask is that Mr. Obama not disappoint me in a similar matter. Bringing family business out into public.

(Thank you Mrs. G at Derfwad Manor, for I stole your image.)

Well, he's not yet in office, and I'm already disappointed. I'm talking about the open letter that he wrote to his daughters and published in Parade Magazine across this country. Well stated. Eloquent. Classic Obama.

Am I the only one who has a problem with this? Mr. Obama himself stated that children should be kept out of the process. His children have just endured a move away from their home and friends, and started living life in a fishbowl. It wouldn't matter if the press leaves them alone or not, because wherever they go, whoever they try to befriend at their new schools, they will be separate. Parents will encourage their kids to be friends with his kids for the sake of the connection and/or bragging rights. Imagine taking your children to the White House for a playdate!

So why is Barack Obama publishing that letter in a public forum now? He himself is exploiting his children immediately before his inaugaration! Not unforgivable, but it makes me pause for thought. He has invited the press directly into his children's lives. They are too young to understand what he has done, or understand the ramifications.

I think the letter is beautiful, but it should have been kept private for his daughters eyes, or kept to be included in his memoirs after his Presidency is over. For when the children are older and will understand what he is saying. At their current ages, they don't get it anyway. They surely don't have the maturity or experience to comprehend what he is saying. Sure, they will probably be excited, and will feel real pleasure in pleasing their parents. But it is wrong. So wrong.

Leave the kids out of it Mr. Obama. You've said this yourself. Leave your children out of the spotlight. Let them have a small opportunity to be kids. Don't open the door up wider for the press to speculate and talk about them.

Please, Mr. Obama, I could not be more excited about your Presidency. I supported you before the election, and the thought of you taking the Oath in only 36 hours brings me to tears. Tears of happiness. Please don't disappoint me again.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Playing For Change: Stand By Me

Thank you to Kathy F., my friend who brought this to my attention. It's definitely worth a watch!

Renowned musicians all over the world combined their talents to create this song. From the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music", a cover of the Ben E. King classic by musicians around the world.

If you're a fan of world music, then you're in for a treat with Mark Johnson and Jonathan Walls' Playing for Change: Peace Through Music, a film that premiered at the 7th Annual Tribeca Film Festival. It isn't really a documentary as much as a global concert film, recorded on the streets of New Orleans, Barcelona, South Africa, Tibet and elsewhere, as the filmmakers (Johnson being an award-winning engineer and producer) traveled across the globe, finding musicians to record tracks on versions of "Stand By Me" and Bob Marley's "One World" without any of the individual musicians ever having met each other.

The purpose of the project which led to the formation of a foundation to help impoverished people in the areas visited is to show how music brings people together regardless of their cultural differences. The project had the duo recording and filming these diverse musicians guerilla style, then editing the film together to create an amazing never-before-seen "music video" of these amazing musicians playing together on these inspirational songs, as well as playing their own music.

Monday, January 12, 2009

On Agreements and Good Intentions

Last December, Claudia & I made the F*ing Agreement. A 'gentlewomen's' agreement to just be aware of what we were eating and do the best we can. Not to be perfect, not to abstain from any holiday goodies that we really wanted. Just to make sure that we were not mindlessly eating anything and everything in sight.

This month, we were joined by Beth, Vennie, and Angie. The rules were simple. There are no rules. We just have to intend to do the best we can in pursuing healthy eating habits. Period. Again, no pressure, no perfection in attitude or action required. We can be as vocal or as quiet as we want about our progress, and no confessions required.

In posting on our F*ing Agreement blog (anybody can read it, but only we can post or comment), I wondered about my own weight issues and intentions. On New Year's Eve at Richard's suggestion, I took a final weight of myself for the year. 155. Exactly the same as I rang the year in at. I even e-mailed him about it, considering the year a wash. Given how sick I've been, the kind of medications that have been pumped into me, and the lack of exercise, I did admirably well.

But then something happened. My doctors finally identified some of what ails me. Bacterial infections times three. They prescribed a whole host of antibiotics, and I started to feel a little better. Enough to start putting in appearances at Slimmons, even as I am not up to exercising at a normalized rate.

Going back - especially with a clearer head than I've had in a long time - was a sureal experience. Aside from the head trip, it was hard to look at myself in the full length mirrors. When you're at home alone as I've been for the better part of a year, your brain adjusts for what you see in the mirror. (That's how I could look at myself at 350 plus pounds and not feel fat.) Although my clothes were getting tighter, the scale told me that my weight was remaining the same. An unbiased opinion, if ever there were one. So I attributed the clothing issue to a changing shape due to inactivity. A reasonable assumption.

But the person standing in the mirror staring at me at Slimmons didn't seem to be just a victim of being out of shape. I looked decidedly larger. For the first time, I had what formerly were weight peers standing next to me in the same mirror, and they now looked smaller than I am. But the scale still said that I hadn't gained weight! Oy! It was the only objective criteria I had to judge my place in the world. Had it perhaps gotten too old, gone bad? Did I need to replace it? Or was the issue in my head?

Well, over the past 10 days as my symptoms have not completely abated, but have become less and less, the scale has started telling me different numbers. First 155... then 156, 157, 158, and 159. No, I don't think I've gained 4 pounds of fat in the past week-and-a-half. But I do think that I am not as dehydrated. And that I have also established a more normal - ahem, for lack of a better and more discreet term - gut weight.

I have mixed feelings about this. Of course. I feel much better knowing that what I was seeing in a group setting was not just in my head. But who wants to gain weight or have to acknowledge doing so? Certainly not me!

Now is a time of reflection on what I've done in the past year. For much of it, I was too weak to market, cook, and prepare healthy meals. I was "victim" of either what was supplied to me, or in absence of help, what could easily be grabbed and eaten as it was. And not kill my system. Frozen meals. Bread. Fruit & cheese & crackers. To my credit, I never fell into the restaurant delivery or fast food cycle. That's why I don't weigh substantially more than I do. But I weigh enough.

How much of the weight gain was due to circumstances? How much because I was just-plain too lazy to cook? I started a familiar cycle of self-flagulation as I analyzed what I had done and where I am at.

* * *
Last Saturday, I started feeling "funny." Not bad funny... just different. Rather than having no steam at all, I suddenly found a small amount of reserve energy, and that culminated in me purging my refrigerator yesterday, going to the Farmer's Market - Trader Joe's - Gelsons to restock, and picking up an old habit. Immediately preparing the food upon getting home. And making a subtantially healthy meal for dinner than I was used to... salmon w/ tomato, red pepper, green onion, & parsley wrapped in filo dough that was brushed with a balsamic vinegrette (on the inside), and a mixed salad. An apple later for dessert.

I also made enough salad to last several days, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and made up some cous cous as reserve. Defrosted a couple of chicken breasts which I will grill tonight and then cube in preparation for use in either salads or soup.

As I went about this business, I thought about the foods that I had removed from the 'fridge earlier in the day. Multiples of the same vegetables in varying states of decay. Eggplant. Broccoli, mixed greens, tomatoes. All sorts of other horrible looking science experiments.

I've had the energy to get through the market for about the last month or so... but then didn't have the reserve to do anything with what I bought once I got home. And so fell into old habits. But one of the noteworthy things that I discovered was that I had not stockpiled junk. Just healthy choices. Clearly my intentions were good and some habits were still in place, even as my mind and body were not clear.

I've decided to forgive myself for what's happened in the last twelve months and move on. My refrigerator is looking really good now. Not only did I get all the way through yesterday evening before my body failed and I needed to lay in bed, but I've been up-and-about for a good portion of today too. I think the medicine is working.

As my health improves, I have pledged to myself to work on my feeding-myself skills and fall back into the mindset of automatically having good choices available to eat.

Do I think that I am responsible for my weight gain, or was I the victim of circumstances? I honestly don't know. In the end, does it really matter?

It is what it is and I will just deal with it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Suspicious Minds

I am home, not quite sure how enraged I should feel at the end of this day. I've had a number of quite disturbing incidents, any one of which, in the past, would have thrown me over the edge. I do attest to a degree of aggitation as I'm typing this blog post. Nervous excitement. But no classic feelings of anger and hostility as I would have felt in the old days.

My day started off with a visit to Dr. V-. He is not only a supurb doctor with international credentials, but a very caring and warm person too. I do believe that he actually - at times - feels that he has a vested interest in making my life more managable, and so I look forward to seeing him. This morning was not so fun, though.

No, he didn't do anything wrong. In fact, he and his whole staff were quite understanding and accomodating. You see, just before turning in the door to his office building, it happened. The classic Crohns accident. And it was a big & messy one. I thought about turning tail immediately and skipping the appointment, but he is hard to get in to see, I have all these other infectious conditions on which he needed to weigh in, and certainly, although I feel like the only one that this has ever happened to (I feel that way each and every time it happens which is frequently), in fact I'm sure it is a way of life in their clinic. I took over one of their private bathrooms for about 15 minutes, and emerged soaking wet from the skin up, and proabably a tinge of a smell left to me, but as cleaned as I could be under the circumstances. And no, for those of you who are about to ask. I did not remember to bring a change of clothes along for this journey.

I was emotional, I get tired = very tired - at any kind of outing, and Dr. V- was well over an hour late for our appointment. We took the whole time frame alloted, and I needed to wait for a precription to be written before I left. I was exhausted, starting to feel a faint coming on, so I quickly ran to the waiting room to sit in one of the chairs until the script was produced.

You have to understand my way of being at this point. I am not so sick that my brain is always out of commission and I am in bed 24/7. It's more like I'm a car running on it's last fumes. I run, and quite well although there is an underlying weakness and lack of performance waiting to subterfuge me. But when the fuel is out, I'm done. I need to fall into bed immediately, and tend to sleep for four to six hours at a time. Just for the record, this does not disrupt my nightly sleeping pattern at all. That's how physically near the edge I am still operating.

After the appointment was over, I got myself back into the car and made the hour drive back into the valley. I had a few errands that must be completed, even though I was soiled, befor going home. I knew that once I hit my front door, it was over and I wasn't going anyplace again.

First stop; Ralphs Pharmacy where they were holding three prescriptions for me. Critical.
Second stop: U.S. Post Office to mail out bills and my application to AARP.
Third Stop: Gelson's Market that has an ATM in which I am able to make bank deposits. All of my co-op machines dispense cash, but not all of them take it back in return.
Fourth Stop: Across a small side steet from Gelsons, Bea's Bakery for a Challah Loaf.

I pulled into Gelson's parking lot feeling quite woozy from all the activity in the morning. After all, I had left home by 10 AM, and not gotten done with the appointment itself until maybe 1:30. Then a separate freeway ramp exit to the pharmacy which requires getting out of the car to make a pick-up. A drive through the post office to deposit my mail in the outside box, then straight to Gelsons Parking Lot, a scant 5 minutes away.

I was exhausted. Fried. Soiled. I certainly was not feeling up to looking around the parking lot for a space far from the store, so I took a handicapped spot. I have a placard. So sue me.

I got out of the car, intent to toss a small piece of garbage out in the recepticle just outside of their door, then go in to use the ATM. The Security Guard saw me walking in his direction and manuevered himself to block access. First to the trash, then to the store. At that point, I wasn't sure if he had a problem or was just dumb, so I circumvented him and did my business. 30 seconds later (my deposit envelope was all ready for the ATM before leaving home this morning), I was out the door of Gelsons, heading accross the parking lot to cross the small street to Bea's Bakery.

That's when he accosted me. Stood in front of me and refused to let me go by. "You can't park here when you have not shopped here." he stated. And I assured him that I had done ATM business and was now just running across the street for a fast loaf of bread. His face was hard and unsmiling. "You could not have bought anything in the time that you were in the store. You were only there for a second." I replied that I was only there to make a fast ATM deposit and yes, my time inside was short but now I had something else to do. He demanded to see my ATM receipt; the transaction was small so I did not get one but even if I had, the monies that I were moving were none of his business under any circumstances.

"No!" he demanded. I needed to move my car out of Gelson's Parking Lot and over across the street. Well, I refused. He stood very close to me... face in my face, demanding that I either show him a receipt from the ATM or he was going to have my car towed. "Fine" I replied. "Tow my car. I have friends who are lawyers at the ACLU. It will be easy to pull a transaction record from my bank and then blow you out of the water. You will look like a fool." Then I turned away from him, walked into Bea's, and had my bread within 5 minutes.

I walked back into the Gelson's parking lot feeling very perturbed. Not well at all. And I thought, I don't have to take that kind of rudeness. I was going to go in the store and complain.

I did. The store manager assured me that the guy was a one-day substitute for the normal guy, wouldn't be back, and that he would talk to him. I'm fairly sure that none of that was true, especially the last part, but I was starting to feel even weaker and weaker with that funny chest feeling that precipitates a fainting episode, so I accepted his explaination and left.

On the way back to my car, I saw the security guy sitting on his butt on one of the chairs in front of the store. I detoured by him, and stopped in front. "Did you see that I just came out of Gelsons again?" I asked him. "I went in there to specifically complain about you." Although he tried to say something back to me, I had no interest and was already walking away.

I got in my car, pulled out of my space, and tried to leave the scene. But as a last ditch effort at annoying me, he got in front of my car so I had to back up and pull around him.

Well, I was really tired at that point. I needed to come home, take a shower, change my clothes, and get laundry for soiled items in immediately. Then I took a nap. And woke up with an uncomfortable feeling. I think I know what his problem was.

I had used the handicapped parking space. I have a legitimate need for it at times, today being one of them, but it's the same as all of my other issues. Sometimes they show through clearly on the outside, and sometimes they don't. I'll bet he thought I was abusing the right to park there and was striking back in a cowardly way. For if he believed in his heart that I really had no right to park there, he could have said something to my face and I could have set him straight on the spot. Generally, a lifting of the "hair" in concert with the word chemo being spoken will get people to back off. And then I would go off on a short diatrabe about how who is he anyway and he really has no right to make assumptions. But it would be over.

Now I'm upset. I feel like I need to go back and confront him more. Part of this need, I know, is me feeling ill and wanting to take it out on somebody, anybody. Part of it is my old residual anger-management issues. Part is altruistic; I can make a shocking presentation quickly that will stay with people. But all of it would be a colossal waste of time and energy.

I don't know who normally watches the parking lot, but I do know that I have not had issues like this before. Rather than going back there with the intention to make a scene, I am going to sleep on it. I'll probably feel better in the morning. And if the same guy is there tomorrow when I stop by (I do actually plan to buy vegetables at Gelsons tomorrow rather than it just being a money stop), I may quietly confront him then on what I suspect he believes. But in a forceful and controlled manner, gauged to frighten only a little and mainly educate.

We'll see. For now, I'm going to bed. I hope I have sweet dreams without any appearances of security guards wtihin them.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Getting a Hosing

I made it through Anne's class this morning at Slimmons with little more than the usual problem during exercise... I am much weaker than I previously was, but that was compensated for by so few students that attend in the morning. And so, since I still had a little energy left, I made my way to West Valley Nursery for the third trip in two days, this time to buy a 'Female' connector for my hose. But I digress.

Two or three years ago - I forgot how long at this point... could be even longer - I was tired of always being squirted by the 'Male' end of my hose when I would put the high-pressure nozzle on it and wash my patio down. Somebody who's identity escapes me at this point, pointed out that I could go to Home Depot and buy a new male end of the hose and voila!, my problems would be over. So I made the trek, was surprised at how easy it was to locate one, came home, and sawed off the end of my hose with a kitchen knife.

Unfortunately, the male end purchased from Home Depot didn't fit. I did not understand why, but gave up immediately in disgust. Figured that the rubber end of the cut-off hose would work just fine with a finger applied to the hole to increase water pressure, and that it did for several years.

But as time went by, and my dogs used my patio as a pishing point while I was sick, "things" started building up out there and have been very noticable as of late. Bad enough to warrant another attempt at the hose so that it would accept attachments. But this time, instead of going to Home Depot where they have everything but I am basically on my own, I decided to go to my local nursery.

They were, as always, very helpful. I showed up yesterday asking for a male attachment for a hose. "What size?" they asked. Huh? I didn't know what size, but as we discussed it, there are apparently normal sized hoses and "thin" hoses. My hose is a very heavy duty one, so I told them that it was normal. That requires a 5/8" or 3/4" end.

I bought it, and a new high pressure nozzle to boot, and came home full of excitement. Took the male end off of the display card, and tried to fit it into the hose. No go. No matter what I did, it would not be inserted!

Well, I don't know what kind of depraved determination came over me, but I decided to go back to the nursery again. But before I left, I measured the opening in my hose. 5/8". The end should have fit! And so, in a rare display of brilliance, I decided to saw another 6" off of the end of the hose and take it to the nursery with me.

Back within the hour of the initial purchase, they of course recognized me. We conferred about the hose. When I gave them the piece, they agreed that the original end should have fit, but it didn't. And so they sold me a 1/2" male end.

I came home, put the end in... it was loose, but when I secured the bolt-down feature, it fit beautifully.

I gracefully attached the nozzle onto the hose, and started to wash my patio down. It was lovely watching all that debris suddenly float off of it and into the dirt. And then.... KABOOM!

There was an explosion at the wall where the spicket was! Water was flying 6 feet up into the air! I forced my way through the curtain of aqua, and turned the spicket off. Oy! I had had a "Y" connection on the spicket so that it might handle both my hose and the soaker hose that runs behind my roses. Apparently, over the years, it had calcified. Weakened. And when forced to contend with the sudden back up of water within it's Y, it couldn't handle it. Came to pieces, so to speak.

I quickly got my plumber's wrench and removed what was left from the spicket. Figured I'd attach the hose directly on and continue with the task-at-hand. But when I moved on to the other end of the Y connection, it was too solidly attached to the female end of the hose to be taken off. Calcified just like petrified rock. Oy. Time to go back to the nursery for another end.

That I did today. Yes, they recognized me. Restrained themselves from laughing. And sold me a 1/2" female hose connector. Which I attached to the hose several hours after getting home. (I hit the wall, needed a long nap first before dealing with it.)

Late this afternoon, the end was on. The pressure nozzle was attached. The hose was connected to the new Y connection attached to the spicket in the wall.

I turned on the water. Held my breath.

But nothing untoward happened! I washed down my patio with glee. Unsatisfied with just that, I washed down my patio walls. Washed down my security screen. Washed down my gate. Washed down my patio walls again. And washed the patio one more time for good measure.

It smells better out there. Not all the way back to acceptable yet, but with a daily washing and warm weather scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles later this week, I'm guessing that it will be sweet by this weekend.

Of course, now that the hose has been dealt with, I need to remember. It's January. The worst month of the year for me. For I love a garden that has grown wild, but in Los Angeles, January is the month that we need to cut the roses back. I hate that.

But I also remember the one year I decided to see what would happen in the garden if I did not cut them down to stumps. It was ugly. They were ugly.

Ah, the chores of a part-time gardener. But at least today, I had a happy ending. That is, ahem, actually, two of them.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Wall

No, I'm not talking Pink Floyd. I'm talking about that wall that we all hit on occasion; when we simply cannot go on the same course.

I'm reminded of Randy Pausch, of The Last Lecture, and his viewpoint that walls are there to see how badly we want something. If we really want it, we will find a way around or through it.

Today, again, I hit the wall. I had already turned down an invitation to spin (wool, yes - a la Sleeping Beauty) with good and old friends... unfortunately the location was in Long Beach and I know that I am not well enough to go that far away from home, even when Carol was so kind as to offer to drive me. When I hit, I'm down for the count, and to then endure a 90 to 120 minute drive home? That just isn't in the cards.

So I stayed home, located my Birth Certificate (which I will need once the letter comes from Social Security to get my benefits), cleaning up old files along the way. I kinda-sorta fixed my garden hose, a post for tomorrow or the next day when the saga is complete. I went to the farmers market, then came home and roasted a chicken. And hit.

When I am done, I'm really done. I lay in my bed and even as Cosmos first softy muttered, then loudly whined, then started crying in earnest long and hard about how hungry he was for dinner, I couldn't move. I just lay there, hoping that he would stop which of course he didn't.

"The wall is there to see how badly you want something."

After he cried for some 15 mintues or so, I found enough energy to get up and feed both boys. They were very happy. Then I went back to bed again.

"The wall is there to see how badly you want something."

I put the roasted chicken and other food in the kitchen away in the refrigerator before it became toxic. Then I went back to bed again.

"The wall is there to see how badly you want something."

I spoke to a couple of friends on the phone, crashing before the conversation was over, and laying in bed recouping once again.

"The wall is there to see how badly you want something."

I am thinking about trying to take Anne's exercise class at Slimmons tomorrow morning.

I realize this may be a big mistake; I could easily fail and not be able to even get myself home. I might get home and not be able to get out of bed for another 24 hour stretch. I might be bad enough that I need a doctor or a hospital right away.

"The wall is there to see how badly you want something."

I want to rebuild my muscles. I want to rebuild my faith in myself. I want to rebuild my life. I want to be well, or as well as reasonably can be expected. I want to be well enough that if-and-when the next invitation comes to meet old friends and spin and eat and gossip the day away, I'm able to enthusiastically say "Yes!"

"The wall is there to see how badly you want something."

I want it. Badly.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Resolutions, 2009

In 2008, I failed my resolutions. It was not for lack of trying. Keeping 100% of my 2007 resolutions was a fabulous experience; made me feel, well, kind of proud. But last year, I was just so sick... too sick a good portion of the time to get out of bed. Way too sick to endeavour adventures outside of the home.

I'd look at those resolutions, written on the front page of my day planner, at least once a month, sometimes more. They were more torture to me than inspiration. As each month would go by, I'd think I'd just do one of the easy ones, the fun ones (well, actually they all were pretty fun), but then I just couldn't.

But in the last three weeks, I've been finally diagnosed with what ails me, and this morning, after they doubled the strength of my antibiotic yesterday, I'm actually feeling a wee bit better. Not well enough to dance a jig in honor of my health. Not well enough to even feel assured that the trend is going to continue. But last night, my fever only went up to 99.8 rather than the 102 plus degrees of the prior eight weeks, and I only had to change my sheets once. Progress.

And so I am feeling just a little more positive this morning, and thought I'd post my resolutions.

1. I will visit the Los Angeles County Coroner's Gift Shop,
Skeletons in the Closet. Yes, I know that it's kind of a macabre idea, but it's "haunted" me for years now and I would like to see the tacky operation that I know it must be. And I want to own my very own toe tag.

2. I will attend an event at the
Disney Concert Hall. I don't care what it is. I don't even care that it's Disney. I just want to see it.

3. I will establish a shop to sell my crafts in
Etsy. Like my blog, it's going to be called "I'm Making It." I checked. The shop title is available.

4. I will take at least four classes / workshops.

5. I will complete my will. Before y'all start applying to be the beneficiary, you should know that I don't have much left after being on disability for five years, but what I have is going to Adele. She will know what to do with it. Sorry.

6. I will go to
The Counter in Santa Monica for a hamburger. I've wanted to go there for years now, having heard John H- wax on rhapsodically about it. Just so you know, I don't think that Richard approves of it; I don't care.

7. I will weave a throw blanket. If I have the energy, I will start the warp for it today.

8. I will - finally - complete the rough draft of my book and pitch it to be published. (It's just too close not to finish this one if health at all permits.)

9. I will start paying for my exercise classes again. This should be possible within the next sixty days once my Social Security and Medicare paperwork comes through. I'm sick of being a charity case.

10. I will complete my Social Security Paperwork. Note to self: I need to start looking for my original Birth Certificate today, before the papers arrive in the mail. My experience with Social Security over the past four years, attempting to get my Disability prodcessed and approved, tells me that they will do pretty-much anything to stall the process. They are not getting me on this one.

11. I will sign up for Medicare. Obvious, but a separate process than Social Security.

12. I will learn to download and play music from the internet. End goal? An IPOD. Welcome me to the year 2000.

13. I will get my car tuned up. This is another activity which is completely dependant upon #'s 10 and 11 being completed and the financial implications thereof.

You will notice that I do not do nebulous Resolutions like "I will lose weight" or "I will exercise more" or "I will be more productive" or "I will be happier" in 2009. I believe that Resolutions should be very specific and measurable. They are supposed to inspire you to do things you might not otherwise do or have always wanted to do; achieve things and grow in ways that you know you would like to move.

It's not that I don't plan to work on the others. But I look upon them more as "goals" than "resolutions." They are just something that I should strive to achieve, but as a part of everyday living. They are lifestyle choices, not specifically actionable. They require a shift in my perceptions and choices, and how do you determine when you are successful at them? Making them "Resolutions" is a recipe to feel like a failure.

I believe that through specific actions, even those not related to my goals, my self esteem will be improved and my goals will be more likely to be met too. That belief has worked well for me in the past.

Now, please, just let my body heal enough that I can achieve both. Resolutions AND Goals.

Happy New Year, 2009!


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