No Place Like

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“I hate that shower,” said Hubby, after his first shower upon getting back into our house after the roof caught fire on December 11, 2017.

It was so disappointing to hear he doesn’t like the new shower!  The shower we had, pre-fire, was huge!  You could get a family of eight in there and still have elbow room.  The new shower doesn’t even get him out of the spray to wash his feet.  What did we do with the part of the shower we lost?  We combined it with a small closet to create a laundry area.  No laundromat, and no stairs on laundry day.

The work isn’t completely done.  There are so many little items to be finished up: second coats of paint, trimming, cleaning, etc.  We even have a temporary sink and kitchen counter.

We have our soft goods: clothing, shoes, bags, pillows, sheets and towels.  I’ve been wearing my exercise gear as summer clothing.  The same dark things over and over. It was winter when the fire drove us out into the cold.  It was a bitter cold winter.  The last few days it was in the 90’s, Fahrenheit.

The first thing I grabbed from my stuff was my red shorts!  They would fit me now.  No, not really.  I had to synch them up with a belt. Back to the Goodwill with them.  Going out for the evening, I dressed in my white with black poke-a-dot dress, both cool and bright.  I am a happy girl.  My skinny clothing is comfortable, and I am freshly motivated to continue with my health and fitness plans.

My reflection doesn’t always reveal the truth to my eyes.  I see myself as fat when I’m not, and skinny never.  But the fit of the clothing I last wore two years ago, is clear objective evidence of success.  Much more motivating than an abstract number on a scale.

When we moved into this house, I swore I would never move again in my lifetime.  Well, that didn’t really work out.  We have moved four times since I said that.  I am afraid to say it again.  It is a work in progress, but we are home.

Until our furniture comes, we are supervising renovations from our travel trailer, in the driveway.  At least it has air conditioning on these hot days.

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Body Shaming

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Saw the beautiful Tess Holliday on television this morning, a large size model with her cover on Self Magazine, the first digital issue.  I couldn’t find a picture of her that I was sure of being open source, so I have used one of my pictures for this post.

This picture was taken in 2012, during the last Christmas I spent with my folks.  I was also at my highest weight.  Sure, I knew my weight, but my family is pretty well trained not to say anything about.  The highest complement anyone in my family can give is, “You look so good!  Have you lost weight?”

I realized long ago, that it was the first half of the comment that was real, because gain or lose I knew the second half had nothing to do with factual perception.  If I was happy, I looked good, very consistently. There have been other comments.

At Disney World some ignorant teen girls were giggling at the fat people who had the nerve to get their picture taken at the entrance.  I turned to them and said, “Don’t you worry.  They will even take your picture. You don’t look so bad.”

From the time I got married, my weight has fluctuated up and down over the years.  The trend was always upward.  Even though I knew it was happening, I never felt FAT.  My weight was little more than a number.  I knew there were health issues of being over-weight, but I never felt ugly, or unlovable.  In fact, I thought I was about average.  I accepted myself.  I was comfortable in my own skin.

When my parents died, I was looking at all their old pictures.  I saw in those pictures how I had grown over the years.  Seeing it all at once like that, I wanted to lose weight.  I knew the health benefits included lower cholesterol, less trauma to my knees and feet.  From those pictures I picked a goal.

In that picture, I liked the way I looked, and I remembered how at that weight, how I felt very fat.  Every family member, except my husband, told me how fat I was.  In fact, at that weight a family member told me I was so fat, that my husband can’t possibly love me, because of the way I looked.  If I thought otherwise, she continued, I was fooling myself.

My first attempt at weight loss after the death of my parents involved a drug used to treat seizures.  A drug with lots of cautions, and would create difficulties for a doctor trying to treat just about anything.  Plus, going off it created a rebound effect.

I am now in my second attempt at weight loss, without drugs, with healthy eating and exercise.  After 10 pounds, my knees knew the difference.  I have now lost about 25 pounds.  It has not been a smooth journey, but kind of up and down, with the trend continuing down.

I agree with Self Editor Carolyn Kylstra, who wrote: You don’t know how healthy or unhealthy a person is just by looking at them, you don’t know what their health goals and priorities are, and you don’t know what they’ve already done or are planning to do for their health going forward. And moreover, you should know that concern trolling—using a person’s perceived health to justify making them feel bad about themselves—isn’t just counterproductive, it’s abusive.

 

And Breathe

The doctor started asking questions and my chest began to feel like bands were tightening around it.

Shortness of breath?  When did that start? Upon exertion or at rest?  Swelling in your legs? Any falls? How are you sleeping? How is your memory? With orders for a chest x-ray, and blood work, as well as a referral to cardiology we left the doctor’s office.

We have been to doctors several times over the last few years complaining about tiredness, memory issues, not wanting to do anything.  There where some heart issues.  A pacemaker and a ventricular ablation seemed to provide some improvement, for a while.

We started talking about other reasons for the lack of interest in doing things, and the persistent tiredness.  Depression? Drinking? Marital issues?  I knew something was wrong, and I wanted to fix it.

We got the chest x-ray right away, followed shortly by a call from the doctor with a referral to a lung doctor due to fibrosis.  Wait.  What?  That is when I did the stupidest thing.  I went on the internet.  Now, I was the one that couldn’t breathe.

Fibrosis is bad.  Really bad.  You are going to die bad.  And not die in a long time in the future, but in the foreseeable future.  As in put your affairs in order now, because, you know, you are going to die.  I did not share the news.  I figured if he was curious, he would look it up.

All our plans seemed to be going up in smoke.  Our travel plans, including our 50th Anniversary trip we have begun planning for in three years.  Could we go now instead of then?  Could we go at all.  What would we do over the next few relatively healthy years.  And then, the hard question.  How would we handle the bad years?

A few tests later and the heart is proclaimed good.  Good for now, because fibrosis is hard on the heart as it has to work harder and harder to get the  blood into the lungs for oxygenation.  Did I mention I’d been spending time with the internet.  I followed several lines in inquiry.

The lung doctor got us in quickly.  The doctor said, “Your diagnosis is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.  Stay off the internet.”  To late, but I didn’t tell him that.  I’ve already seen x-rays of the progression of IPF, and heard a recording of what the doctor hears as he listens to the chest.  I’ve heard all the bad news, I hope.  He ordered tests and then we had to wait.

There is good news.  Three years ago, in 2015, two drugs were approved that are effective in slowing down IPF.  No, it is not a cure, but it buys time.  If I add the years the medication can hopefully add to life expectancy, to the highest number of the expected range of life prior to the medicine, add in a few years for luck, and if we caught the condition early, then life expectancy it isn’t so bad.

The only cure is a lung transplant, if you are healthy enough.

Yesterday the tests were all in, and we were back in the doctor’s office.  The diagnosis was revised.  He doesn’t have IPF, but COPD or Emphysema.  There are a lot more treatment options for COPD.  You can live a good while with COPD.  His lung function is relatively good, but the oxygen saturation in the blood tend toward low.  Oxygen is now his new best friend.

There are still some unanswered questions.  There will be more tests.  But for the first time in weeks, I can breathe.

My Sister and I

My sister and I are very different.  To begin with, I am older, the first-born, while she is 6 years younger.  I was often the one to hold her hand when she was small, to keep her from wondering, or touching things she shouldn’t.  I was also the one put in charge, when Mom and Dad were not there.  (Not their best idea, but everyone survived.)

She watched me as an emotional teen, fight with my parents about such things as the morality of the Vietnam War, and the horrors of discrimination against African-Americans.  (That was before we called them black, as we are white, and now they are just Americans.)  She also saw me argue about everything I wanted to do as I struggled to get permission for everything from shaving to staying out all night for prom.  I was the break-in kid.

My sister learned it was easier to get forgiveness than permission for small things.  She didn’t argue about politics and issues of the day with Mom and Dad.  She saw it didn’t get me anywhere, but upset and crying, so she just kept her own counsel.

We had another sister between us.  Karen got killed by a drunk driver when she was just 21.  I was 24, my sister 18.  I was married, expecting my second child, and I lived out of state.  My birth family, my parents, sister and brother became a unit.  I belonged to a separate unit.  The course of the family changed.  My stay at home parents became outgoing, for my brother and sister, getting involved in sporting activities with them, and traveling the country with their new friends and parents to sporting events.

I had children young, went to college as a returning adult student, lived in several states.  My sister went to college straight out of high school, got married after college, therefore having children at a later age, and lived close to our parents and brother.

I’ve been thinking about these differences the past few days.  We have a political situation that is affecting children.  I am upset and rather than posting blogs, I’ve been posting my concern for these children, and concern about the political situation that has caused this crisis on Facebook.  My sister has been taking care of her grand-babies, who are babies. My grandchildren are from age 1 to 17.

I haven’t just posted on Facebook.  I have written to my Congressman and Senator.  I can’t wrap my brain around what is happening in my own country.  Because politics is so upsetting to me, I had cut back on my news viewing, and even stopped responding to political social media posts.  But now I am upset and following this story every day.  My friends probably know how I feel, but I am keeping it out there.  I shared personal information that should show them why I feel so strongly about the current situation.

My sister’s page is silent.  She is dealing with an infant granddaughter whose breast feeding mother just had to return to work.  She is remaining friends with everyone, and quietly talking in the background, gently, when she thinks she will be heard.  When she posts, it will be pictures of her dogs and the babies.

My sister’s voice may prove to be the most effective.

#UniteImmigrantFamilies

 

Program Your Phone with This Number

Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are familiar to many of us, and we never would have suspected that they suffered from depression, yet they both lost their battle with their demons.  Success is no protection.

Some facts I find interesting about suicide:  Women experience depression twice as much as men, and attempt suicide three times more than men, yet men die by suicide four times more than women.  It appears guns, the favored method of men, is more effective than the women’s go to method of poisoning.  More than half of all who kill themselves have no known mental health issues.  Suicide is on the rise nation wide.

When you are depressed, you may think you are handling everything just fine, until that time when you aren’t.  If you think you might be depressed, you don’t have to tell your boss, the people you work with, or your family, get help.  If you think about dying once in awhile, get help.  If you think others might get along better without you, get help.

You don’t know where to start?

Call: 1 (800) 273-8255  If you think you are okay now, just put the number where you can easily find it.  I have it programmed on my phone.

 

 

Summertime

Summer is finally here, well effectively here.  Graduations have been happening all around the area.  Quiet neighborhoods are being run by children.

This is the time I remember most fondly from childhood.  These summer days of freedom to just go and have fun in the neighborhood.  Play equipment in every yard was being used. We knew where to find the sensitive plants and blackberries (which we watched for signs of ripeness).  Collecting stones and following bugs were favorite pastimes.  Watching clouds and dreaming in the shade followed bicycle rides and jumping backyard fences.

We would run home for lunch and be called in for dinner.  We felt free.  We felt unsupervised, but all the neighbors kept their eyes on the kids in the neighborhood.  We couldn’t get away with anything.  If you stepped out of line, you got a quick reprimand, and you got it again when you got home.

We had no cell phones in our pockets, yet our parents always knew what was going on and where we were.  It was our job to keep them informed of exactly where we were going.  Outside was playing in the neighborhood, taking our bikes meant riding up and down the street and around the block, the playground was over at the school where a variety of summer activities took place, including baseball.

Now I’m going to sound like a little old lady.  Today’s kids don’t have this sense of complete freedom.  Their parents are working, and don’t want to impose on the neighbors to watch their children.  I don’t know what their memories of childhood will be like.  They play video games.  They visit grandma (which is the best). They are also free from homework every night so I imagine they feel the sense of freedom.

I knew I had entered the adult world when I was still expected to go to work after “the kids” got out of school for the summer.  Work was no longer an option, but a commitment.  If you were one of the lucky ones, you got a week or two of vacation.  There are different reward to adulthood, and if you handle it right, you still feel free.

The Psychic Fair

Near my home in New Castle, Pennsylvania, is a place known as the
Haunted Hill View Manor.  The sign at the end of the driveway said, “Psychic Fair”  with another sign, “Free Admission.”

I’ve heard it was previously an old age home, but the promotional material makes it sound much more ominous than the locals I have talked to, but they are allowed.  It would be very boring without an interesting back story.

There were many psychics on hand to tell your fortune, read your aura, palm, tea leaves or whatever.  These people are the real deal.  You can tell they are real by the $30 to $40 charged for a reading.  The speakers were free, and we got there just as a man talking about how to access the astral plain was getting started.  As you may imagine, meditation is key, with the possible addition of mind altering substances.

There were also many vendors selling jewelry, symbols, candles etc. If you find my description lacking I must apologize.  I walked through, but could not linger.  The mold level inside the building was quite high.  I did complain to the person in charge and was referred to their waiver, which excludes them from any responsibility for any thing that may cause you injury or harm, up to and including death.  And what did I expect, “It’s an old building.”

Today, I sent this email:

Greetings,  I attended your Psychic Fair on Saturday, June 2.  I could not linger and had to quickly leave due to asthma and the mold in your facility.  I said something to the person in charge, who referred me to the Waiver, which basically says you are not responsible for anything at all, ever, under any circumstances. While I can see that is of great benefit to you, it does nothing to inform me of the dangers involved.  Any other attraction open to the public has large signs warning of dangers to specific people with a higher than average risk.  At the hotel hot tub, “Not recommended for people with high blood pressure, diabetes, pregnant, or children under the age of 10.”  Similar signs are found at amusement parks.  Even the TSA warns people with pacemakers to inform the agent.  Especially for events, open to the public, you need a warning posted that those with respiratory issues should not enter due to mold.  I believe your waiver still leaves you open to liability, but I am not a lawyer, so what do I really know.  Being an old building doesn’t let you off the hook, as many old building have had mold remediation. But once again, I am not a lawyer.                          I  wish I could have enjoyed your Psychic Fair, but I couldn’t and shall not return, nor recommend a visit to your facility.

So now all of you know what I expect.  Any lawyers who might be reading, perhaps you would like to weigh in on the level the waiver protects them.

I do apologize if you find my tone dismissive of the psychic realm.  I assure you, that is not the case, but when it comes to psychics, there is no licensing board.  I myself have toyed with the idea of hanging out my shingle, and quietly advertising.  Charlatan?  That depends on your beliefs.

 

It’s ALL About the Base

They call it a grassroots movement.  These are movements that start small, like one person small, with a small core group, like maybe 12 people.

I am sure you guessed.  That small group and their leader founded one of the three major religions of the world.   Social and political movements start also start with the roots.

When Thomas Paine prints and distributes 100,000 copies of “Common Sense,” in 1776 the ideas lead to revolution, and a new country, the United States.  In the 1960’s young people tired of watching their friends march off to a foreign war (and afraid they would be next), began a movement to end the War in Vietnam.

Today, high school students are the leaders for a movement for sensible gun control legislation.  Two political bases, those calling for inclusion and those calling for protection, what the media is calling tribes, are struggling for political dominance.

The nastiness of these tribes, willing to fling aside any sense of decorum, civility, decency to win their point has erupted in the media with nasty tweets and comments, quickly apologized for as bad jokes that went too far.  The fact is, while these comments make a political point, they are not funny.

Like-minded people might laugh, but more from a sense that a good burn was scored, rather than mirth.  Friends are blocking each other on social media, and possibly even unfriending each other in their real life.  Only those who keep their politics to themselves can maintain their friendships.

I’d like to wrap myself in my tribe and the comfort of just being in agreement with everyone, rather than feel on the defense all the time.

Mostly, I want to live in the kind of world my mother taught me about.  A world where people treat each other with compassion and understanding.  A world where agreement might not always be possible, but courtesy is.

We are lucky.  We already have several examples of how to bring peace and forgiveness to the world.  We can start a movement to make our world a kinder place, today.

Post Canceled

Wrote a long rant on how we the little people, who vote and pay our taxes, teach our kids to be polite to everyone, dutifully vote, and mow our lawn once a week, we are the ones who need to still the political waters with kindness and tolerance.

Sorry, I can’t see how that will work.

Canceled

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