Sunday, December 30, 2012
But besides the amazing learning that I'm able to do just by tuning in, I find that the Science Channel is helping me in other, unexpected ways.
They have a few programs that detail how different things are manufactured. Factory Made, How It's Made, and How Do They Do It are all different takes on the same concept. The latter show delves into other topics besides manufacturing and mass production; however, it's still explaining the process by which some complex tasks are accomplished.
And all of these shows seem to help with my creativity. When I watch things being made, I get inspired to create, too. As you can imagine, this has been extremely helpful to me now that I've decided to buckle down and pursue jewelry-making. This is especially true when How It's Made features an artisan who creates things by hand, like pottery or musical instruments. Watching that just makes me want to Make Things Immediately, and this is good. It's therapeutic, and it boosts my Etsy presence. Double win.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
Then I took the quartz stone that I've been wearing for a year and a half, and re-set it in silver-plated wire. I made a companion set of quartz point earrings to go with it.
I wanted to create a set that's more in line with the work I'm doing NOW (as opposed to when I first started wire wrapping), so that I could always have a current example of the work I do for people to see. And I wanted the stone I've been wearing all this time, which I really like, to be a part of that set. Mission accomplished on both counts.
Now it's time to post my latest work on Etsy.
Oh, and I learned some interesting things last night, when looking at yet another handicraft site as a possible place to sell jewelry. I found a set of earrings that I thought was really great, and I thought, "I could make that." But it's NOT RIGHT to just steal other people's designs. So I did a little googling and discovered:
1. "Shaggy Loops" is the name of a generic chain maille technique, not something that specific artist originated.
2. Other artists have put beads on their shaggy loops handiwork, so if I do that, I'm not stealing this artist's original idea.
3. I can EASILY create items in the Shaggy Loop style, both earrings and something I really need to add to my line, bracelets.
4, This is actually the style of the piece of jewelry that's on my business card, so I will be able to make things that look like the Vistaprint generic image that I'm using on my card.
It's extremely important to me to stay on the correct side of the "learn techniques from other artists, but don't steal their ideas outright" line. If I create the ideas that have been going through my head since last night, though, I will NOT be stealing someone else's original idea, and therefore I will not be stealing money out of their pocket, either. This matters to me quite a lot. I'm an artist, not a thief. Anything I create is going to be MY OWN hard work, not the hard work of someone else.
Expect some basic chain maille style items to begin appearing on my site, as soon as my order of round gemstone beads comes in.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Mandrels are shaping tools, meant for hammering metal. And my Christmas gift to myself was a neck mandrel, with which I will be able to create collar necklaces.
And oh, I have discovered that this is FUN. :-) I put together my first collar today. The only thing is, I am going to have to track down some harder wire in order to really do this properly. Aluminum wire, which was the thickest kind that I had on hand, looks great but it's soft, and unlike other metals, hammering doesn't seem to harden it much.
But enough technical details. The important thing is, I have discovered a whole new kind of jewelry that I will enjoy making. So today has been what I'd call a Good Day.
Regrettably, that includes my first laptop. It has had disk crashes before, and I have always been able to revive it by loading the Windows XP CD. This last crash, however, has led to the machine just being shut off and neglected, as by then I had obtained a newer, non-crash-prone laptop.
I figured that with the renaissance of the computer room as a studio, perhaps I'd like to have a working computer in here. So I fired up the crashed laptop and popped in the Windows XP CD.
Nope. Nada. Dead. Deceased. Pinin' for the Fjords. It's SO crashed, it doesn't even recognize the CD drive. Whoa... now THAT'S a dead computer.
Oh, well. The deceased computer has now been removed from the desk, with many regrets. Thank you for your many years of faithful service, O Computer. If I need to compute while in the studio, I'll bring the iPad in, as I'm doing right now.
I've also set up a radio, a clock, and an environmental sound machine, and there are a couple of goalie pictures that have been in need of hanging for ages, that are going to go up on the wall behind me. Hockey and jewelry making, perfect together. At least, they are in MY world. Besides, they'll nicely match the handprints of Neil Little and Brian Boucher that are posted on the wall in FRONT of me. :) Especially since the two goalie pictures, both items obtained from the auction of the Spectrum's fixtures, are both game photos of Neil Little. If I'm making a space MINE, then putting up Spectrum memorabilia is most certainly the way to go.
I always did feel an affinity for the Spectrum, over and above the fact that my two favorite teams both played there. My very earliest memory involves my standing on the floor of the back seat of my Grandpop's car (this was the early 60s, in the decades before seat belts and car seats), looking at the girder framework of what would become the Spectrum. In the ensuing years, I did the math, and realized that I had to have been two years old when this took place. So when I say my earliest memories involve the Spectrum, I am quite literally telling the truth. As such, I had one extra reason to hate seeing that landmark pass into the mists of history.
But, back to positive thoughts. The one last big thing that needs to happen in here is that we need to find a new place to put the old printer and the old scanner. They're taking up desk space that I would like to use for my work. When I determine a good way to handle those things, and migrate them out of the room, it will be the last big step that needs to be taken, in my quest to studio-ize the room.
My Studio. Yep, I still like the sound of that. :-)
Thursday, December 27, 2012
This involved moving some boxes of storage OUT of the computer room, so I could move my equipment/materials boxes IN, clear off the desk, and dub it My Studio forevermore.
I still have a few tiny items in the dining room, but it will be easy to carry them upstairs the next time I go.
My studio. I have a studio. :-) I like the sound of that.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
I am very glad that I had cards in time for Christmas Eve, so I could give them out to family members. And we have one more family gathering later in the week, at which I have every intention of giving out still more cards. :-) And ditto for the Misfit Toys' upcoming get-together. Gotta start with the family and friends, and then branch out from there.
I made four pendants and a pair of earrings this morning. I try to work daily, and I try to do it as soon as possible after breakfast, before my hands start hurting or my eyes start getting tired and unfocused. (Some aspects of middle age are a downright pain in the rump.) At least I have the Opti-Visor to help with magnifying and illuminating my work, so that counteracts eye fatigue. But unfortunately, the hand pain is another matter, and the only resolution for that is resting my hands. Since inactivity is incompatible with my goal of creating items daily, I have to work around the soreness by doing my creating early in the day.
On my to-do list: turn the former computer room upstairs into my workplace. The dining room table, with its glass top, is not a place that I want to be hammering wire on a metal mandrel. That's got "recipe for disaster" written all over it. But I fully intend to use those new mandrels; therefore, I will be spending some time setting up a hammer-friendly workspace elsewhere. Stay tuned.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012
Here's the deal. I'm here. I haven't changed, and neither has my contact information. I'm not going to be hostile or rejecting to anybody, no matter who it is, if they should reach out to me in a peaceable fashion. I haven't been hostile OR rejecting yet, and I'm not about to start now. Whatever I've said or done so far has been accomplished in a civil fashion, and *my* side of all communications will remain that way. That is the only part of this situation that I have any command or control over, and I am going to be open, honest, fair, and non-toxic.
I'm pretty much a "what you see is what you get" person. I don't post my ENTIRE life's story on the internet, but what you see in this blog is as true as I can make it. If I say something happened, then it did. If I say I hold Opinion X, then that's where I stand. The same goes for my Twitter and Facebook posting -- if I write it, I mean it. And rest assured, I handle my face-to-face communications the same way. I will never tell someone an opinion that ISN'T what I think, nor describe an event that didn't take place.
And where I stand right now is disappointed in a recent sequence of events, but still wishing for the well-being of all involved. If they didn't matter to me, I wouldn't be disappointed; I would be apathetic instead. I am NOT apathetic about this issue, nor about any people involved.
But at least the disappointment isn't leading to depression anymore. I seem to have mostly processed that and moved foward in the direction of acceptance, the final stage of grief. That's progress.
There are two things I loathe about getting this bloodwork done, and fortunately, I've found a resolution for one of them.
For starters, I loathe needles. Unfortunately, there's no solution for THAT except to just groan and bear it. Fortunately, it doesn't hurt much, so I just acknowledge, "Yes, I am dealing with phobia issues regarding needles" and just go through with having it done anyway.
The other thing is that, because there's a urinalysis being done as well, I have to provide a sample. At first, I used to have to hold it in from the time I got up until the time I got to the doctor's office. Oh, how I hated that, because of course I'd end up hitting every freaking red light and taking forever to find a parking place, delaying the time when I could finally get into the doctor's office and get some relief from that "gotta go" feeling. I'm glad to say that there IS a solution for that. I now get a sterile cup in advance, to take home until such time as I'm getting the test done. So now, I can take care of providing that sample when I get up, and I don't have to be stuck driving to the doctor's office in a state of discomfort and misery. I give them my full sample cup and get an empty replacement at the same time, for my NEXT test that will happen in a few months' time.
So I'm glad to say that my necessary-evil experience has been taken care of for the next few months. Now if I can just find a way to do this without getting stuck by a needle...
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
I tried. I really tried not to let the sadness come back, and I really tried to push it away when it showed up. But unfortunately, copying those audio files to my hard drive meant that I had to hear them. And hearing them did trigger another round of sadness. I've come to the conclusion that I need to treat this exactly like what it is. Grief. This is a round of grieving, even though this person, unlike the FIVE family members we lost during the course of 2012, is still alive. There is a sense of loss as I reconcile the person I thought I was dealing with -- the person I'm grieving for, frankly -- with my new comprehension of people and situations as they currently stand.
So yesterday, I dealt with grief. After this brutal year, if there's one thing I have experience with, it's dealing with grief. I wound up just letting it happen and acknowledging to myself, "Yes, I'm hurt and disappointed."
Today, I'm going to do what I started out yesterday trying to do. Focus on the good parts of the past. Kind of like celebrating the life of a person who has been lost. I'm going to tune in to those Fezziwig parties, things like trips to the AC boardwalk (back before the casinos), and the numerous good things that made up the happy memories. Nothing can take those away from me. The present cannot sully the past. The only reason why the present IS so disappointing is because it compares so unfavorably to the things that came before it.
But I've spent my time being sad and acknowledging loss. I'm not going to dwell on it anymore. Obsessing on sadness is not going to fix or change anything. Fortunately, there is no reason for me to re-sadden myself by hearing those audio files again. They're downloaded, they're emailed, and unless something changes, there is no need for me to play them back again anytime soon. And I think I will have an easier time turning my thoughts toward positive things now, because I can acknowledge to myself, "I've processed this sadness already. Time to focus on happier memories." And there are lots of those, because those Fezziwig days really did rock. Those were some good times.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Unfortunately, those steps involved actually HEARING those audio clips again, and that made me feel sad all over again. So I am working through those emotions. I have decided that for every sad thought that crosses my mind, I will intentionally direct my thoughts to recall a happy memory instead. The unhappy present does not erase the happy past.
So for every "If they be like to die, let them do so at once and decrease the surplus population" memory from the recent past, I will deliberately turn my mind to thoughts of the happy past and Mr. Fezziwig's parties instead. Like the Christmas Eve parties we used to have, where the whole family gathered together and "Santa" would hand out everyone's presents. When I was really young, Santa was Uncle Pat, but I was too young then to pay attention to who else was (and wasn't) in the room, lol. In later years, someone else took over that role. By then, I knew the score, but I thoroughly enjoyed it all anyway.
Nothing, nothing, nothing can take away the good times of the past. No one can steal those things from us. They might try to stand between us and having any MORE good times like those, but they can't ever take away the memories and experiences we already have.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Unfortunately, time has not lessened that feeling. To the point where on Sunday and Monday, I woke up with a migraine. Stress, unfortunately, is my most prominent trigger.
I know exactly what has to happen in order to put the brakes on this symptom. I am not going to let migraines become a regular part of my life. I need to remind myself of a few things. First, I can't change what other people do. I can only control my own behavior. Second, I choose not to give in to hate or bearing grudges. That solves absolutely nothing. If the other party wants to be peaceable, I will be open to that.
But beyond that, I really do have to release the things that are going on internally. Let. It. Go. Two headaches in two days are a big red flag that I need to handle these feelings in a different way. I can't alter the external factors, but I can work on the internal ones.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Captain glared at her. Last time he looked at her that way, as she barked at him, she got a bop on the head. So I tried to distract her. "Mini. Leave your brother alone." No dice. She was a Chihuahua on a mission. AR AR AR.
Captain jumped down to glare in her face. She was undeterred: AR AR AR. So Captain boxed her ears a few times. BAP BAP BAP. Mini stopped barking, with a bewildered look on her face. The caption for her facial expression should have been, "What just happened here?" She's not used to being stood up to.
Then she started walking away. I picked her up. "See, I told you to leave your brother alone. Just ignore him." I gave her a skritch on the ears, but then also gave Captain a skritch. He was brave to stand his ground. He used to run away from the dog (who's about 1/3 his size).
Today, Mini's stance was, "What orange cat? I don't see any orange cat."
Pets. Sometimes I'm the Meowmy. Sometimes I'm the referee.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Finally, I look up to see what Mr. Orange Kitty is doing. He's stalking his tail, with a PRRRT every time he tries to pounce on it. But the tail kept getting away from him. That sneaky tail. But I'm sure he'll catch it eventually. :)
But before we cover that, let's have a few words of advice that are worth remembering.
One, don't rob banks. It's both a crime and a sin. These things are bad.
Two, don't rob banks. You have a very low probability of getting away with the crime. I read a while back that something like 85% of bank robbers are caught. Plus, see Item One.
Three, if you are determined to ignore the first two items, DON'T BRAG ABOUT IT ONLINE. Also DON'T POST VIDEOS WAVING YOUR STOLEN MONEY AROUND. These are things that will pretty much *guarantee* that you're going to end up in with those 85% of failed bank robbers. Also, see Items One and Two.
OK, so having covered that, here is the story of someone who paid no mind to any of those three items of advice. Or you can watch the self-incriminating video below, where she shows the drugs and paraphernalia she stole from a car and admits to stealing a car, along with everything referenced above.
Oh, and in the few minutes of video I've watched so far, all the cue cards have been BACKWARD. So either she's shooting the video in a mirror, or she's raising them up so the front, not the back, is facing her. I couldn't help but think of the "This is your brain on drugs" commercial.
Unsurprisingly, she was arrested on the day the video was posted. Gee, I wonder why. See Items, One, Two, and Three.
Friday, November 30, 2012
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.
Maybe it's time that I read Illusions again. I'm thinking that I'm somewhat overdue for a refresh on that score. Perhaps I'd manage my disappointment better with an outlook that's more in line with the philosophy of my favorite author.
Because right now, all I want to do is disconnect from the world. And from the things that can neither be un-said, un-heard, un-seen, un-read, un-discussed, nor un-realized. I can't do any of those things. Nor can I disconnect. But I wish I could. The world today looks different to me than it did four days ago. And I'm not liking this new version of The Truth at all. Not one bit.
Monday, November 19, 2012
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Well, we had one of those moments this afternoon. I went to meet friends for lunch, and gave a pat to all three critters in turn before leaving. Fast-forward a few hours; when I came home, I saw Captain (kitty) and Mini (Chihuahua), but no Stanley. Mark hadn't seen Stanley either. My cats are both indoor-only cats, so even though Stanley has a name tag, I started worrying about whether he'd sneaked out of the house. I looked all over the house for him. Upstairs, in the basement, on the first floor. Behind all the furniture. I called him repeatedly. No dice.
Then it dawned on me to look IN the sofa. We have a couch and a love seat, both of which have recliners at both ends. Therefore, we can't look UNDER the couch visually, as the bottom of the recliners reach nearly all the way to the floor. But it's possible to look under the sofa in a TACTILE manner by sticking an arm down the narrow gap between the seats, where the backs of adjacent seats meet adjacent seat cushions,
I inserted my arm down into said gap. And felt one surprised little cat, who gave me a "Prrr!" and started sniffing my hand.
"Stanley, you hairy cat! What are you doing in there? You worried your Meowmy half to death."
Good thing he's cute. :-)
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Captain decided to jump up on the other end of the sofa. Mini the Jealous ran the length of the sofa to glare in his face. Captain just stood there and glared back. They stood nose-to-nose. I reached over and hauled Mini all the way back toward where I'm sitting, as she protested with a big tough RRRRRRRR. I think that's Chihuahua-speak for "You're lucky Mom is intervening." I told her not to stare at her brother. To which she peeked over in Captain's direction and gave a muffled "rrrrrrrr" under her breath. Wise-aleck dog.
Now, Stanley's dozing on the back of the sofa. Captain's dozing on the other end of the sofa. Mini's dozing next to me. Peace reigns. :-)
Friday, November 02, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Me: I don't know what you cats are doing in there, but CUT IT OUT!
[two cats come trotting out of the dining room, with innocent faces]
Me: [gets up to investigate]
Gee, how about that. My measuring tape is all the way in the far corner, on the floor. I wonder how that happened, since SURELY those innocent-faced cats weren't on the dining room table, which is off-limits to kitties...
Good thing they're both cute...
Monday, October 29, 2012
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Friday, October 19, 2012
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Monday, October 08, 2012
Saturday, October 06, 2012
Phantom was their 12-year-old black Lab, who was a big bundle of happy. But in recent months, she was starting to slow down dramatically. Until then, the only real indicator of her age was the white fur on her muzzle.
She leaves behind her human mom and dad, and her two kitty brothers, one of whom utterly idolized her and was inseparable from her. I don't know how he's going to handle this turn of events. He didn't even like it when she went out in the yard for a potty break.
I will miss my doggie niece. :-(
Thursday, October 04, 2012
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Monday, October 01, 2012
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Monday, September 24, 2012
Sunday, September 23, 2012
In response, Captain gave her a Kitty Glare of Death and bopped her head. So Mini dropped down to all fours, putting herself out of reach of the bopping paw, and resumed barking. "AR AR AR AR!"
After I stopped laughing, I picked the dog up and put her on the other side of me. That way, they could BOTH sit next to me on the sofa, and everyone was happy.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012
Friday, September 14, 2012
Thursday, September 13, 2012
We had some additional progress with him and Mini this afternoon. I picked up She Who Is Wee and sat her tiny self right next to the cat, between Captain and me. Captain wasn't too sure about this arrangement at first, but I started skritching him and he decided it was OK to have the dog right next to him. Mini, meanwhile, didn't care WHERE Captain was, as long as she was being doted on. We stayed like this for a minute or two before I got up and took Mini for her evening walk. Only when I picked her up did I realize that she'd been sitting right on top of Captain's tail the whole time. And nobody grumped or glared at anybody else. Progress. :-)
And as for time budgeting... there's a hockey discussion board I normally like to frequent. They have some other forums that fall under the same main umbrella, including forums for other sports, one for politics, and one for miscellaneous discussions. I generally studiously avoid political forums, because on the internet, they tend to turn into toxic wastelands, and I really don't need to degrade my day with toxins.
Unfortunately, the miscellaneous forum, which I usually like to visit, has devolved into being the place where everyone wants to discuss politics. If I had thirty topics listed on my screen, at least half of them were political in nature. I think I'm just going to give that site a miss for a while. I just don't need the drama. It's a shame, because normally they're a place that I LIKE visiting. Not right now, though. Not for the past few weeks, either. I only have so much time in a day, since I have to do mundane things like eat, sleep, and work, so I'm certainly not going to spend my free time somewhere that I don't enjoy being, not in person and not online.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
So we had two unusual situations arise as a result of this. First, our normal routine is for Mark to come in the door after work and find me working away on the computer. But yesterday, MARK was the one working on his computer when *I* arrived home from one of the on-site jobs.
Today, we had the work-from-home duet. Mark worked diligently all day on his computer, on the dining room table, while I did MY work in the living room. Thank goodness someone created the ability to have more than one device online at a time.
Mark's car is now back from the car doctor, so he will be able to have a normal workday tomorrow, from his workplace. The Critters will have to make do with having just Meowmy working at home, instead of both of us. ;-)
Sunday, September 09, 2012
Yes, it was opposite ends of the loveseat. Yes, Captain was up on the back of the seat, while Mini was on the seat itself.
But just the fact that they were curled up on the same piece of furniture, and clearly sleeping peacefully (until Mark's and my arrival awoke them), without my being there as referee, is a sign of progress.
When they both sit with me on the sofa (Captain on my left, Mini on my right) as I work, I take a FURminator (anti-shedding comb) and alternately comb one, then the other, repeatedly with the same comb, without cleaning it of fur for several cycles of this combing marathon.That way, I can put each critter's scent onto the other one. It seems to be working. :-)
Saturday, September 08, 2012
Thursday, September 06, 2012
I changed some passwords, even though it doesn't appear that anything was sent out directly from MY account in any way.
I have reported the offending address to Yahoo. I do have a Yahoo email address, but it's not the one that sent the spam.
Long story short: DO NOT click on any spammy-looking links that are allegedly from me, even if the email bears my name. DO please forward the email to me, and report it to Yahoo.
Man, I really hate spammers. Fargin' bastages.
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Monday, September 03, 2012
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Monday, August 20, 2012
So, with hours remaining on the auction, I put in a bid and wound up being the only bidder. That's how I came into possession of a PacMate QX400 with a 20-cell braille display. Refurbished versions of this item from the manufacturer, Freedom Scientific, cost about $1800 more than the closing price of that eBay auction, to give you an idea of what kind of saving we're talking about.
This is a used item and it's an older model of device, which is part of the reason WHY its price was low. But about 99% of it works just fine, and the VERY few glitches I've found so far are simple to work around. I can't get online with it yet, though, but I'm getting some advice on that from a PacMate mailing list I joined.
Anyuway, the long and short of it is that my second self-education project involves learning computer braille, which has some differences from the braille that appears on paper. If I intend to become an assistive tech trainer at some future time, then I am going to have to know this information. And I'm taking it one step farther. I created a text file, containing the text from this news article and then proofread it... tactilely. Yes, I am not satisfied with just being able to read braille visually. I feel like if I am going to really know a tactile alphabet, then I am going to have to have at least a passing familiarity with what it feels like. So I typed the article into a text file, muted the voice (which would have read the file contents aloud to me), and painstakingly went through the article letter by letter.
I know there are legit training courses for blind people who are learning to read braille, and there are exercise drills that, should I figure out how to track them down online, would make my life TONS easier. But I decided that proofreading a short article was still a valid form of practice, and guess what? I was able to identify some typos I made, via this method of proofreading. In fact, I found ALL of the three mistakes I'd inadverdently introduced into the document. I'm certainly nowhere near ready to run out and read War and Peace in a tactile fashion. Not even close. Not even CLOSE to being close. But I still feel like I've accomplished something by bringing some significant brand-new information into my brain. It's information that will help me, should I venture into the field of assistive technology, but beyond that, it's supporting my desire to Never Stop Learning.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Friday, August 17, 2012
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Thursday, August 09, 2012
Larry and his older brother Jim, owned and operated "Jim's Market" for more than 20 years.
He is also survived by his children, Lawrence Momorella (Judith), Anne Stieber (Francis) and Mark Momorella (Donna); his 5 grandchildren and his 5 great grandchildren. He was preceded in the death by his beloved grandson, Luke Momorella. Relatives and friends are invited to his Viewing on Saturday, August 11, 2012, from 9 to 10 A.M., at JOHN J. BRYERS FUNERAL HOME INC., 406 N. Easton Rd., Willow Grove PA 19090. Funeral Mass to follow at 10:30 A.M., at St. David RC Church, 316 N Easton Rd., Willow Grove PA 19090. Interment in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions would be appreciated to St. David Church, which he attended and loved for his entire life.
Monday, August 06, 2012
Sunday, August 05, 2012
Rita was the beloved wife of the late Patrick A. Campitelli. She is survived by her son Joseph Campitelli and his wife Christine, her brother Joseph Gabriel, his wife Jeannie, and her nieces Donna, Maryanne, and Michele. Rita is also survived by her great niece Mary and great nephew Connell.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend Rita’s Life Celebration and viewing on Friday, August 10, 2012 from 9:15 to 10:40am at St Thomas Church, 8th Street and Brigantine Ave., Brigantine. Elks Service 10:40am. Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11am. Entombment at Holy Cross Cemetery Mausoleum, Mays Landing.
To share your fondest memory of Rita please visit www.lifecelebration.com. The family requests in lieu of flowers to please make donations in Rita’s memory to the Brigantine Sons of Italy Scholarship Fund, PO Box 113, Brigantine, NJ 08203. Family services by Keates-Plum Funeral Home Brigantine.
Friday, August 03, 2012
Today has not gotten off to an auspicious start. I want to go back to bed and start it over.
My dad called with an update on my aunt. She had started pain medication earlier in the week, because whenever she had to move, her bones hurt. At least she wasn't in pain as long as she lay still.
But now, hospice has stopped her insulin. We are probably looking at losing her within the week. :-(
I really hate this. But maybe this is God's way of ensuring that she doesn't hang on until major pain begins. It's really a shame, though. I can't believe how rapidly this disease has progressed. It has t even been four months since the diagnosis.
So I called Mark to let him know, and then JFM, who told me that our close friend JR's dad is nearing the end, as well, and probably will pass today. ARGH.
Like I said, this day desperately needs a reset button. We're looking at a multi-bereavement week coming up.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Thursday, July 26, 2012
My father-in-law has been moved to a short-term rehab facility. I'm a little amazed that there is talk of sending him home at the end of this stint, as I'm not convinced that's an entirely appropriate solution. He can't even get out of bed without falling (as he has demonstrated repeatedly, and as recently as yesterday). However, the death panels known as the insurance companies most likely will refuse to pay for inpatient treatment any longer than they absolutely must, so the next step is probably going to be getting a hospital bed in the house and arranging for 24-hour attendant coverage (instead of the daytime-only coverage they have now). I have emailed my sister-in-law, asking what Mark and I can do to help make these things go more smoothly. We live an hour away, so we can't do things that require an immediate presence at the house, but surely we can do SOMEthing to shoulder our share of the duties here. It's not like we live in another time zone, for goodness sakes. I just want to make sure that when we do something, it's going to be an action that is both wanted and needed, rather than some well-meant but unnecessary gesture.
Looking at the (marginally, at best!) bright side, though, Mark has told me repeatedly that his dad wants to die at home, not in the hospital. So I suppose sending him home, rather than keeping him as an inpatient, will increase the odds that his wishes will be met. I hate to think about that aspect of this situation, but we do have to consider the larger picture. The combination of three hospitalizations, pneumonia, and two rehab stints since the first week of July is not an indicator of robust health in a nonagenarian. Anyone who is not in rampant denial can see what direction this situation is going. :-( We are just going to have to keep track of his health situation and seek treatment accordingly if new symptoms appear. And maybe he CAN stay at home, instead of be hospitalized, if the right level of support is in place.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Monday, July 23, 2012
More to the point, I was able to de-stress enough to come back here and not feel like my head was about to explode. There's been so much happening so quickly, between the bereavements (three) and the illnesses (two) in the family, I barely knew which end was up.
And, of course, no sooner did I come back, than the process continued. Make that three illnesses. My aunt's condition is stable, fortunately. But the cousin who is taking care of my aunt has now visited a specialist for symptoms of his own. And my father-in-law has been moved from the rehab facility, to which he'd been transferred while I was on vacation, back into the hospital (his third hospitalization since this month began). I'm particularly disappointed and concerned over this last development, because he had been gaining some ground while in rehab and had improved to the point where he was walking with a walker. Now he is back to being bedridden, which tells me that he's probably going to have to work to regain all the progress he had made previously.
We visited him in the hospital yesterday, along with my mother-in-law. Sometimes hospital visits cause patients to become disoriented. That's the case here. He's having some issues with being an inpatient, as he keeps wanting things that aren't allowed yet (like drinking fluid when there are restrictions on his oral intake, going to the necessary instead of using a bedpan, or sitting in a chair instead of sitting up in bed). The three of us tried to defuse the issue as best we could yesterday, but we couldn't resolve the entire situation and we did eventually have to go home. It's hard to witness someone feeling so out-of-sorts, particularly when even knowing what is going on is not enough to resolve the problem.
I am working hard to not build up to ridiculous levels of stress again. Turning into a walking migraine is not going to help anybody, nor will it solve anything. But life needs to cooperate and stop sending issues for a while. I'm TRYING. I may be only partially succeeding, but I'm trying.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Monday, July 16, 2012
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
But there are far more important things going on than my worrying about my aching head. As I posted recently, my father-in-law is back in the hospital. This morning, when I saw Mark's family at the memorial service for his uncle -- the third time since April that the family has convened because of a bereavement -- I learned that they did an MRI of my father-in-law's head today because there is some suspicion that he has had a stroke. He is having issues with swallowing, and he can't walk at all nor get out of bed without falling. Those are some huge red flags, in my book, and so I think they're right to pursue the possibility that the reason for these symptoms is a stroke.
I don't know how long it will take for them to analyze the MRI results and provide answers. But once the doctors come back with some concrete results, and offer a treatment plan, Mark and his siblings might have to sit down and discuss what the best options are for both parents. My mother-in-law uses a wheelchair already. If they BOTH can't walk, that's going to signal a need for changes in the existing routine.
We visited him in the hospital, after the memorial service for his brother. What a shame he had to miss that. :-( To my great relief, he was very placid and happy. He likes the place, he likes the food, he likes the people there. That's a great improvement over when he was first admitted and all he wanted to do was go home.
Still... multiple bereavements in the family within weeks of each other, plus my aunt's cancer going from being diagnosed to needing hospice within six weeks... this is where my headaches are coming from, and this is why I went into Rant Mode over the prescription. I finally had enough.
Now that I've gotten that steam out of my system, though, I'm going to make a point of not breathing flame on anybody else. I am staunchly determined not to turn into Dragon Lady over this.
Well, I just sent a scathing fax to my doctor's office. The fact that it's entirely out of character for me to breathe flame on them should be, I hope, sufficient for them to sit up and take note.
I have been trying to get my migraine script refilled since FRIDAY. It's now TUESDAY. I called them at 4:40 PM to follow up on the TWO (2) faxes I've sent this week, since my pharmacy had no record of the refill being called in.
The moment the phone rang, I got, "Please hold" and put on hold. For fifteen minutes. Finally I called back at 4:55, only to discover that their "the office is closed" recording was ALREADY turned on! It's not an answering machine -- it just recites office hours and hangs up.
OK, now I have steam coming out my ears. Steam. I opened up the fax app on my iPhone, which allows for one free fax page per day, and wrote:
WHY did you put me on hole from 4:40 PM until 4:55 PM, then when I redialed, you already had the answering machine on five minutes early? IF your office is open till 5, do not shut off the phones WHILE YOU HAVE A CALL ON HOLD.
I have been trying to get my MIGRAINE MEDS refilled SINCE FRIDAY. It is now Tuesday and it's still not done. WHY? I asked repeatedly for this to e done as a rush order. I have been faxing since July 6 so there should be multiple hard copies on hand.
I am leaving for a trip at 6:30 Thursday morning. I deliberately asked six entire days in advance to avoid this problem and have meds in my possession while traveling.
Please refill my Imitrex on Wednesday, 7/11.
Please refill my Imitrex on Wednesday, 7/11.
Please refill my Imitrex on Wednesday, 7/11.
Please refill my Imitrex on Wednesday, 7/11.
[date of birth]
[pharmacy contact info]
Of course, as they are CLOSED on Wednesdays, I realize that my hope of having them even see this message, let alone act on it, before my trip is somewhere between slim and none. Closer to NONE. But I sent it anyway.
I thought that having a long talk with my doctor, at my last appointment in May, would have really clued him in to the fact that it takes multiple attempts to get a prescription refilled. It's precisely why I have taken to faxing in the first place. They deliberately tie up the phones so people can't get through, by leaving people on hold infinitely, and then if it's near the end of the day they do what they just did to me: block the phones with MY call that was on hold, and then let my on-hold call just die of old age without picking it back up.
I like my DOCTOR. I do. Seriously. But I hate, hate, hate dealing with the office staff on the phone. It's not like I expect a refill to be in the pharmacy's hands within thirty seconds after I place a call; that would be ridiculous. But I don't think it's unreasonable for requests I made on FRIDAY and MONDAY to have been called in by TUESDAY. Doubly so when I asked in both faxes for them to rush this refill as I really do need it.
So, having vented my spleen via fax, I decided to go forward with a plan B. I called the pharmacy myself, explained my situation, and asked if they had an emergency ration that they could provide, in the absence of a refill. No, they can't do that with Imitrex. But they CAN *page* the doctor.
"Good. Please do that. Page the doctor."
So I might get my refill in time for that trip. I hope.
It's funny. When I had that long talk with the doc in May, he was describing how it's hard for an independent family doctor to thrive financially, compared to the doctors who are affiliated with a hospital in some way. But when an independent doc's office staff repeatedly drops the ball on important messages, no flipping wonder patients become willing to migrate to new treatment providers. I really don't want to do that in this case, because I honestly LIKE my DOCTOR. It's the red tape I can't stand. And if you go through this blog, you'll see this by FAR not the first time I've vented about these issues here. Look at May 7 and May 8 from this very year for the previous iteration of "why can't I get my meds on time". It's just the first time I ever vented TO THE OFFICE STAFF.
UPDATE: Well, somebody sure said something. That was fast. I got a call from the office staff, so they either saw the steam emanating from their fax machine as a result of my note, or else the pharmacy paging the doctor made HIM talk to them on the spot. They just called in my refill.
Thank God. At least I can go on my trip and not worry that my head is going to feel like there's an axe imbedded in it. And if you've never had a migraine, then give thanks that you have no clue what I'm talking about. Trust me on that one.
And it still looks like I'll be having yet another word with the doctor during my next appointment, a few months from now. Something's gotta give. I can't keep going through these battles every time I need a refill of something.
Monday, July 09, 2012
As if my cousin didn't have enough on his plate, as he cares for my very-ill aunt, I just got a spam email from his account. So some miserable wretch spammer apparently cracked his password. The freaking people who hijack email accounts really need to fall off a freaking cliff, and then when they land, let their computers land on top of them.
I emailed him right away to let him know what's going on. He'll have to check his outgoing mail to make sure there isn't a whole string of nonsense going out of his account, and he'll have to change his password.
He is the last person who should have to be dealing with this kind of nonsense. He has enough to do. Hospice is bringing in a hospital bed, and the existing (giant!) regular bed has to be disassembled and moved to the garage.
Dumb pain in the rump spammers. I wish their computers would liquefy.
Sunday, July 08, 2012
I got a FB message from a cousin of mine this morning. Cousin R's grandfather and my grandfather were first cousins, so I'm not sure what particular ordinal number to assign to that. Second? Third? Whatever. He's my cousin. I leave it at that.
But I digress. His message was along the lines of, "I saw your post. Which aunt?"
Uh-oh. That told me that in all the confusion, he might not be aware of the most recent events that have been going on. It's understandable, as we're talking about a health condition that has deteriorated very rapidly in just a few weeks' time. Five weeks ago, we were all celebrating her feast day in Philadelphia, and now she can't even sit up from a lying-down position without assistance.
Well, the last thing I wanted to do was deliver bad news via an email or a Facebook message, so I called on the phone instead. And unfortunately, I had to break a lot of bad news via that call. Most of the bad changes have happened in the past few weeks, and he wasn't aware that things had deteriorated this far, this quickly. But maybe it was God's providence that my cousin saw that post and it said "aunt", because otherwise, he might not have been apprised of the situation until even more downturns took place.
It's perfectly understandable that my aunt's son has been so preoccupied with taking care of her, he hasn't called every last branch of the family yet. Between working full-time and caring for his mother, he probably hardly knows which way is up right now. So at least now the necessary information, sad though it is, has been disseminated a bit farther than before. That's one chore that's been taken off my cousin J's shoulders. I hope Cousin R can help spread the word, as I haven't got the phone numbers to anyone else from his branch of the family; I've only got his phone number.
Argh, though. That wasn't how I was expecting to start this day.
Saturday, July 07, 2012
OK, one other positive thing happened on Friday, though it's dwarfed by the importance of what's happening with the PEOPLE in my life. Nonetheless, we need to count our blessings whenever/wherever we find them, so here I am announcing that the piece of tech I invested in arrived today.
I want to learn to write apps for iOS (iPhone and iPad, in other words). Specifically, I want to write ACCESSIBLE apps that will be useful to the people I know. In order to do that, I need some training. I have 15 years of background in IT, especially on the programmer/analyst side, so I know my way around writing code. However, what I need to learn (and in the case of C, refresh my memory on) the languages that are used to write iOS apps.
So I enrolled in two online courses (a two-for-one deal)... only to discover, after I started watching the videos, that I needed a Mac in order to do some of the work. Moreover, Apple has not released a SDK (developer's kit) for Windows, so if I'm going to be writing iOS apps, I need to use a Mac.
So, what to do? New Macs are way out of my price range at this time. So hello, eBay. I found an early version of the Macbook Air that I could afford. It hasn't got some of the improvements and features that the newer Macbook Airs have; I know this because I was making use of my cousin's MBA when the rest of the family was in the treatment room with Aunt Rita at the specialist's office in May. The room was tiny, and couldn't fit the doctor, several interns, my aunt, my parents, my cousin, and me. So I was elected to wait in the waiting room with everyone's belongings. My cousin let me use his computer while I waited, and it happened to be a newer-model 13" Macbook Air. But I'll do without the extra bells and whistles of the newer models because, as I said, my wallet has limited impact these days. I have to balance need with rationality.
Anyway, my machine arrived on Friday, so I spent some time setting it up with Xcode, so I can start creating those C programs.
Friday, July 06, 2012
The good news is, my parents went to see my aunt today and she was mentally 100% herself. That's outstanding. She is, however, still extremely weak and can't get up on her own. She can't sit up from a lying-down position and most likely can't walk. Hospice workers will be on hand from now on.
And the bad news? My 90-year-old father-in-law is in the hospital with pneumonia. My sister-in-law called Mark at work today (never a good sign, as she normally waits until evening when we're both home to call us). Dad fell out of bed twice last night. They took him to the hospital, and discovered he has pneumonia in one lung. Mark said they admitted him "as a precaution", but I'm not sure how much of a precaution it is when there's pneumonia present. I think at that point they have a perfectly good reason to treat the person as an inpatient.
So, we'll see where all these things lead us.
I faxed my doctor's office to have them refill my migraine prescription, for the first time in a few years. Stress is my one known migraine trigger, and I've been getting various levels of headache lately. I only have one dose of Imitrex left, and I want to get it in the house sooner, rather than later. A person can only take so much of this.
Thursday, July 05, 2012
I'm still wrapping my mind around the events of the day. Disappointments from yesterday will have to be set aside and dealt with some other time. If they even NEED to be dealt with, that is... it's entirely possible that the most constructive thing I can do is just let that other stuff drop. That's how I'm inclined to handle it, anyway. I need my energy to deal with much larger issues. Everything else is getting filed under "Don't sweat the small stuff, and it's all small stuff."
Hospice. I am actually in favor of this step, largely because I feel like we have reached the point where it will be beneficial to have a trained person on hand for as much of the day as possible. Plus, it's not news to the family that the best thing to do is engage in palliative care. Heck, we've known *that* since the MRI results came back in April. It's not easy to accept, but we all know it's the truth. At least we don't have to deal with anybody walking around with false hopes, or acting like seeking hospice care is a form of giving up. It's not. What it IS, is doing the right thing.
Still, it's emotionally painful to realize that we are most likely looking at a short time frame, rather than a long one. Even knowing in advance that this is a fast-moving disease, it's still a little surprising that we've reached this point after only three months. Wait, I take that back -- it's not EVEN three months yet, not until later this month. Wow. Geesh, that was fast. No wonder the specialist in May said to her that she should eat whatever she likes (even though she's diabetic). Maybe he was well aware that she might as well not postpone or turn down enjoyment.
I keep consoling myself with the fact that there is no pain. Lethargy, yes; weakness, yes. But no pain. The presence of pain would make this infinitely harder to deal with.
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
If, perchance, you say something hurtful to me (or something that you suspect is going to be hurtful, but you choose to say it anyway), and my response is nothing at all -- not one syllable, not even a glare -- it's not because I'm reacting well to it. Absolutely Zero Reaction is a red flag that you've done some internal damage.
What a disappointing night. Never saw it coming. Live and learn.
I won't be creating the opportunity for a repeat of how I feel right now. If I do, it'll be my own fault if I get hurt a second time. Like the proverb says, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
The world is full of imprecations that we should "Dance, even if no one else is watching." There is no shortage of affirmations and inspirational posters urging us all to be ourselves, no matter what.
I've followed that dictum throughout my life. As a result, throughout my life, I've run into situations where people just don't "get it". They have no idea what to make of it when I decide to Be Myself, because my perspective on things is from, shall we say, a unique angle that not everyone immediately perceives. Sometimes, I feel like a piece of modern art, with people walking around looking and saying to one another, "What on earth is that supposed to be?"
I'm used to getting that reaction from strangers and acquaintances. It doesn't change what I'm doing one bit. Some of them wander off, some of them stay on the periphery, and some of them take an interest, and stick around to join the inner circle. And one thing is guaranteed: when you're unique, some of the individuals who stick around will have their own interesting point of view to share.
But it's kind of disappointing to get a "What is that supposed to be?" response from the people I thought were closer to me, and knew me better. I got that treatment from an unexpected source today. So even my inner circle doesn't always get it. So noted. I won't make the same mistake twice. Being hurt once is sufficient.
Well, whatever. I'm still going to dance even if no one is watching. Or even if people are telling me to get off the stage. Or even if people choose to walk out of the theater rather than watch. When it's MY theater and MY stage, if I choose to dance, I will. Feel free to stick around and see the show or not, as you choose. But if you miss something interesting later because you walked out now, that's not my fault.
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
Monday, July 02, 2012
Sunday, July 01, 2012
Saturday, June 30, 2012
The bad news is that the disease is sapping her strength terribly. All she really wants to do is sleep. My cousin Maryann (who is a nurse) said it's possible that her body is starting to shut down.
She gave my mom and me a very large amount of clothes that don't fit her anymore, because she has lost so much weight. She's down to 100 pounds.
She was a trooper, though, and managed to get up both to eat dinner with everyone, and (after a rest) dessert with all of us, too. My cousin Joe made enough ravioli to feed half the island. Aunt Rita ate soup instead -- her lady friends are very sweet about bringing her care packages of soup they make. The rest of us had ravioli, in some cases multiple helpings, plus everyone got sent home with doggie bags. (But sorry, Mini, those ravs are getting fed to the hoomins in the house.)
My parents gave her a new set of PJs. I gave her several things from the St. Rita of Cascia Shrine's gift shop. I think she liked the statue a lot. I got it for her because I realized that even though she's very devoted to her patron saint, she didn't have a St. Rita statue that I knew of.
Plus, it's hard to think of an appropriate gift for someone who is in this state of health. But her faith is as devout as ever, so I figured that presents that are connected to that would be something she could still appreciate.
It was so hard to see her like this. There has been noticeable deterioration in the past couple weeks... and my parents and I were distressed over her state of health two weeks ago! Now, two-weeks-ago's state of health would look like improvement. :-(
At least she's not in pain, thank God. As hard as it is to see her losing weight and becoming progressively weaker, if she were suffering, too, it would be infinitely worse.
OK, I'm done ranting. Pardon my venting. I guess I'm still de-stressing after seeing my aunt looking so weakened. I've never seen her look like this before.
Moreover, when I came home, and went on Facebook to decompress, what did I see but additional bad news coming from another direction entirely. One of my former fellow Phantoms Season Ticket Holders, who we'll call D.N., was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. I have always felt a particular connection with her battle, and have rooted for her extra-hard to beat the disease, because she got her bad diagnosis on the same day I got a good one. Back before we knew for sure that my health troubles were caused by a giant fibroid, they sent me for a CA-125 blood test: that's the test that helps diagnose ovarian cancer. The same day I got my GOOD news, that there was no cancer, D.N. posted to Facebook that HER doctors had diagnosed her with lung cancer. So I've always been cognizant of the fact that although I had dodged a giant bullet, there are a whole lot of other bullets flying around, and many people are not so lucky as I.
Months later, when D.N. was pronounced cancer-free, everyone celebrated the news. But unfortunately, last night, I saw her post that in one of her followup exams, they have found a mass in her brain. If I were to make a list of things I never wanted to see happen in a billion years, that post would be on it.
So, when you're sending your prayers and positive thoughts out for people, please remember both my aunt and also D.N. .
I really hate, loathe, and despise cancer, especially right now. LOATHE. Every form of it needs to be stamped off the face of the earth. I'd stamp it out myself if I could.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
However, from the moment I parked in the church parking lot upon my arrival, I realized something was wrong. A thin cloud of white smoke was emanating from my engine. Ohhhh, crud. Not what I wanted to see. I called Mark, who was at home and planning to paint the railing outside the house. He thought maybe I needed some water or coolant added to the car. However, it's not safe to do so when the engine is still hot, so the car needed to be left to cool off. I had no idea where to add water to the car, having never had to do so before, so I figured the best thing I could do was just go in to the deaf-blind event and interpret. I was sure that SOMEone in the place would know how to add water to a car, and they could show me what to do. Sure enough, I was able to find a couple of other interpreters who knew what to do. So when the event was over, two hours later, we all went out to have a look at my car. Surprise -- the reservoir was full of coolant, so that wasn't the problem. I talked to Mark again, and we agreed that I'd call AAA, have the car towed to our mechanic, and Mark would meet the tow truck and me there.
But then my deaf-blind friend JEJ and his mom came over, with another one of the interpreters, to see how I was doing with the car. They said they were going to visit with the interpreter, who lived only ten minutes away, and they invited me to follow them there in my car. That way, when I called AAA, I'd be calling from a place where there were people around, instead of from the middle of an empty church parking lot. I agreed to do that.
That ten-minute drive didn't cause any more smoke to appear, but there was a terrible burnt-rubber smell, so it was clear something was still wrong with the car. So we all went inside and I called AAA from there. I also got to meet the interpreters roommates and his four adorable cats. They were all very friendly, sweet kitties, so I was glad to engage in a little bit of Cute Face Therapy while I waited. AAA sends text message updates now, so I knew when to go back outside and wait for the truck to arrive. I rode in the flatbed truck as we transported the car back to Philly. Mark met us at the mechanic's and we put my car keys along with a note into the mechanic's mailbox. We figured the mechanic would figure out what was going on when he saw the car, keys, and note on Monday morning.
Well, the good news is, I finally know WHY the oil light is always lighting up, even soon after oil has been added to the car. The bad news is, it's a stupendously expensive fix that just isn't worth doing for a fifteen-year-old car. Even the mechanic recommended against it, and he would've stood to make money from doing the repair work.
Fortunately, there is one alternative to fixing the problem. It involves checking the oil every few days, adding it as needed, and making sure to add it before a long trip (such as, say, a trip to the shore.)
Honestly, color me Not Happy about this. What really needs to happen is I need a newer car, one that's not slowly going senile on me. But I'm not in a position to make that happen any time soon, so I guess my new routine involves checking oil and adding it regularly.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
I took JR and JFM to the vet with their cat again this morning. Her balance is still impaired, and she hadn't been eating or eliminating for a couple of days. (Though clearly, the latter was the direct result of the former.) These were the same symptoms that were ongoing last Wednesday when she had her previous vet visit.
The cat a couple months short of her 20th birthday, and the sub-q fluids, antibiotic and appetite stimulant weren't enough to take the symptoms away. Today, JR, JFM, and the vet are all in agreement that we are looking at palliative care, rather than seeking long-term solutions. Today, she got more fluids, a steroid, and special nutrient-dense a/d food to help her get the most possible "bang for her buck" from eating. They're going to try the a/d and human baby food.
I'm really hoping these steps help her start to turn the corner and see symptom relief. If not, the next vet visit might well be the time when she receives the Final Act of Mercy. JR and JFM are beside themselves, and I'm not far behind them. Auntie Donna wuvs her little kitty "niece". I know that a 19-year-old cat is approaching the day when she sets out for the Rainbow Bridge, but that doesn't mean anyone wants it to happen any time soon.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Saturday, June 16, 2012
What an insane week it was. Monday, my parents and I went to see my relative whom I've posted about before. Now I understand what she and her son refer to when she describes herself as being "confused". She has another UTI, and for the first time, my parents and I got to see her on what we could not possibly describe as "a good day". Unfortunately, any nurse visitations that she'd had set up before (once in the morning and once in the afternoon or evening, I'm not sure which) were cancelled when she was in the hospital last week, so those have to be reinstated.
This UTI issue makes it seem like there are two versions of my relative. When she's OK, those two nurse visits during the day are more than sufficient. But when there's a UTI, with its attendant symptoms that include disorientation, she might be better off with the kind of daily in-home aide that my in-laws have (and need). They have an aide who helps them out of bed in the morning, assists with daily care, cooks meals, and helps them go to bed at night. She might not be overly happy at the prospect of an all-day aide -- she wasn't even all that thrilled with the idea of the twice-daily nurse visitations -- but if these symptoms she's experiencing now are going to be a regular occurrence, then maybe it's something worth considering.
Tuesday and Friday, meanwhile, were days where I helped my friend JEJ and his mom with computer issues. For the first time in at least six years, he wanted to attempt to use the old braille display on his computer. This meant setting up his old Windows 98 machine, because there are no drivers for his many-years-old braille display that would allow it to work with the new Windows 7 computer. This is the first time in years that we've been able to see just how the neuropathy is affecting his ability to read braille, because he's been refusing to even try reading braille for so long. The answer is, with his 80-cell Window Eyes display, he can't feel anything because the refreshable braille display is too mushy. But with his even older 20-cell Alva display, he's feeling at least some of the braille because the display is crisper (more resistant to being pushed down).
We also hooked up the Tacticom, the giant single-cell braille device that he was able to use his entire hand to read when we were testing it out. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the Tacticom to respond at all when we connected it to the computer. Nada. So we have some emails out to everyone who worked on creating the device (all three of whom were out of town last week for varying reasons). I hope at least someone sees the emails and is able to respond during the coming week.
Wednesday, we rushed JR and JFM's elderly cat to the hospital when she showed signs of losing her equilibrium. She's now being treated for a persistent ear infection. Poor kitty -- she HATES going to the vet, and she was shedding fur in clouds due to the stress. (As the vet phrased it, "Under stress, we sweat. Cats shed.") I hope they can get this ear infection under control, because everything ELSE about the cat seems OK -- she's alert, aware, responsive, and is showing no sign of pain or discomfort.
On Thursday, JFM, JR and I went to the Jewish Museum here in Philly. Not only did we see a lot of interesting things, but I tried to file away as many ideas for our would-be Italian Museum. I'm not sure how many artifacts we have as yet, but according to MDP (whose brainchild the museum is), he has hundreds, possibly thousands, of photographs. MDP is also a walking encyclopedia of the history of Italians in Philadelphia and in America. I think that with just his knowledge and those photos, we would be able to create some viable displays; add artifacts into the mix and it would make for some very interesting things indeed. But that's quite a bit down the line.
Today, meanwhile, I have a bunch of work emails that have to get dealt with. It's the first time in three weeks that I've seen a decent number of emails come in, so I'm going to take full advantage of that fact.
Sleep is for the weak. ;-)
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
It's gotten a bit tougher this week, with some entirely unexpected bad news coming from yet another direction. A 38-year-old woman, with whom I used to sing in the choir at my parish, passed away very suddenly over the weekend. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard that news. I went to the funeral yesterday morning. I feel genuinely sorry for her parents and her boyfriend. My family only just went through an unexpected loss a couple weeks ago, so I can empathize with them if they're feeling blindsided.
It puts things in perspective... I'm expecting to be downsized out of one of my part-time positions any day now. They haven't said anything outright, but I can see how things are going and I know there are people who've been there way longer than I have. I'm really ticked, because I genuinely like this job, but the economy is what it is. But I'd be far more upset by this if I hadn't just had a crash course in what a REAL problem is. Being downsized is a loss, but it doesn't compare to losing human beings. It doesn't compare to looking at your relative's MRI results and seeing words like "malignant" and "cancer" and "non-resectable". So I'm trying to keep my head on straight and forge ahead. In the meantime, I'm going to continue working my rump off at that part-time job until they tell me to do otherwise. Maybe they'll be able to find ways to get their own finances in order and not have to reduce staff.
Heck, I've already reinvented myself once, when I got downsized out of IT years ago. Now I might be downsized out of customer service... time for another session of reinventing myself, I guess.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Monday, June 04, 2012
Sunday, June 03, 2012
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
To describe everyone in the family as being terribly shaken by this loss is the understatement of the century. No one, no one, no one could have seen this coming. Luke was a careful, conscientious, and goal-oriented young man. His stepmom joked that they used to tease him for driving like an old lady. But even careful people can make a mistake. I suspect he wasn't familiar with that stretch of road, as he and his fiancee were vacationing in her grandmother's cabin in the mountains. If he'd been aware that the sharp curve was coming up, I'm sure he wouldn't have been going too fast. We're lucky that a neighbor happened to see him moving way too quickly on that road, and called state troopers. If he hadn't done that, it would have taken far longer to determine where he was when he didn't come back from ATVing.
So please send prayers and good thoughts my family's way. This has caused a great deal of heartbreak for everyone.