March 20, 2017

Currently, and currency

Foreign currency in my pockets, and current events on my mind Everything is quite unsettled right now.

  • We haven’t found any suitable place to make an offer on yet. And the possibly-apocryphal (but I doubt it) tale is that it’s taking upwards of ten offers to get one accepted.
  • We are in selling limbo until we buy.
  • I’ve got several moving pieces at work that needs 150% of me and my attention but as Dr. Temperance Brennan would point out – that’s not possible.
  • One of those moving parts may shake out to be quite bad for me, potentially ruining a big and expensive summer plan, and there’s absolutely nothing I can ethically do to affect the result. I’ve briefly considered the non-ethical options but nooo. I can’t be that person.

It’s a little weird that the not moving part of life bothers me so much, considering I quite like our home right now, and we’re only moving under duress. It’s less weird when you consider that I’m both a Type A personality (very little of the home buying process is under my control), and that I’m a homebody, so feeling like my home is going to shift at some random unknown point in time is incredibly unsettling.

All this adds up to a pit in my stomach the size of a watermelon.

I’ve gone from stress-cleaning to stress-cooking to stress-feeling frazzled and frozen. Back to stress cleaning this week, if I can muster the energy.

One of the benefits of stress-cleaning is that you go deep. And deep de-cluttering turns up gems. Like the discovery that your comic collection is pushing 100 lbs. Or a huge pile of cash.

(Except it’s not huge, and it’s not American dollars but other than that…BOUNTY!)

  • Singaporean dollars, and I don’t remember when I was ever in Singapore.
  • Hong Kong dollars, I do remember when I was there (briefly).
  • A small handful of Thai Baht. Boy do I ever miss authentic Thai food.
  • Some Taiwan dollars, when did I lay over in Formosa?
  • Way too many expensive GBP, obtained at the worst possible exchange rate – go me.
  • An absurd number of Canadian dollars considering I haven’t been there in at least a decade.

I’m working on finding my Zen again. The discomfort of needing to move shouldn’t overshadow the comfort of loving the home we are in right now, especially since there’s so much about it we do love.

There’s nothing I can do to change that possible-summer-ruiner but I can work on mitigating the ruination.

There’s very little I can do about the fact that my pain is at an all time high this week except take medication earlier and make the most of the few minutes’ break when JuggerBaby has a nap.

Ultra high pain also means that depression is nibbling around the edges of my brain again. I can’t just ignore it, but I can’t tell it to go away again. I can try to only see the good in front of me, or focus on what I need to do, and most optimistically, try to fit in a massage this week. It’s been put off because of this darn congestion. There’s nothing less relaxing than being hyper aware of your mucosal state while trying not to gross out your massage therapist.

If 300% of Vitamin C a day doesn’t do the trick this week, I welcome other cold-busting suggestions!

UPDATE: That bad work thing? It’s happening. And the effects won’t be in the summer, it’ll be now through summer, and walloping my personal calendar something fierce.

:: Where in the world have you gone? How do you deal with uncertainty or the unknown?

May 25, 2016

30 mostly free ways to say I love you

I caught this question on Twitter and loved it. Without saying those three words, how do you tell your loved ones that they’re loved?

Bonus points if it’s free!  Well, ok, most of mine are free in the sense they don’t cost money but they cost time and often expertise.

Love: there are so many ways to tell your family and friends you love them. How I tell PiC I love him

  • I finished our tax return.
  • The baby’s down for a nap, hit the gym if you want to.
  • [midday text] Dinner will be on the table in 30 minutes.
  • Save room for dessert!
  • You have fresh bath towels and clean underwear in the drawer.
  • Booked our tickets for Hawaii/vacation for $35 out of pocket!
  • Seamus and I already went on long walks.
  • We’ll go out AFTER you take a nap.
  • Merry Christmas, we own more stock.
  • I bought us an investment property.

How PiC tells me he loves me

  • I’ll walk the dog, just relax. Also, here’s your tea and a couple of biscuits.
  • I’m going to the gym, back in 1.5 hours.
  • Thanks for raising the kid today.
  • I’ve got the baby, go back to sleep.
  • LB and I went to Costco.
  • Did you want to do some writing? We can go for a walk.
  • There’s a cookie for you in that box.
  • Want to go to NY and see Hamilton?
  • Menu planning is not just your job. I can plan too.
  • All the dumplings / sashimi is for you.

How I tell friends I love them

  • Check your mailbox.
  • Check your inbox, I edited that thing for you.
  • Tell me when you’re in town, I’ll take time off.
  • I’ll be over in fifteen minutes to change your bandages.
  • No gluten? No sugar, dairy, meat? No problem.
  • You can have the last brownie.
  • Angry Cat’s ears are clean now. So are Grouchy Dog’s.
  • I still have to work but I’ll come over and work so we can talk.
  • I’m lending you this awesome comic book.
  • Go do your thing, I’ll watch the kids / walk the dog.

:: What are your ways to tell people you love them? Are you a splash-out indulgent sort or is that only for special occasions?

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March 25, 2016

Unfinished business: things weighing on my mind

For some things, I'm still waiting

If there’s something I need more of in this life, it’s quite likely more patience.

I’ve no shortage of things to be patient about but surprise surprise, I really suck at it.

The need to resolve things itches

The mortgage refinance is creeping along at a snail’s pace. Two and a half weeks ago, they said it’d be approved two weeks ago. Yet, still no idea if they’ll approve it yet. Cross your fingers, please?

We need to schedule a signing of our estate plan with the lawyer, just as soon as I quit being a disgusting, racking-cough, sneezy sniffly snotty mess.

Oh right, this cold brought by an emissary from the lower depths of Hades? Still here.

Even better, it turns out that flu-like fever and chills can also be a fibro symptom which is just awesome. I discovered this over a 24-hour period of misery. My only solace is that I didn’t manage to pick up the flu in addition to this cough thing.

Car #2 remains a figment of our fevered imaginations so we’re still a one-car family, and Seamus doesn’t fit in that car so I can get him to the vet for his overdue nail trimming. I did try it myself and got as far as three nails before I quicked him. Sorry, pup.

My phone is still creaking along, but it’s just getting worse, and really needs to be replaced. This has got to happen before it totally craps out in the worst possible situation.

Keeping my chin up (or at least above water)

Before I get too sunk in the melancholy of what’s NOT going right, I will keep in mind that:

We’re still all alive and kicking. In this, the most disease ridden season ever, that’s no mean feat.

Even if I’m scraping the dregs of my energy barrel, I’m still getting my work done and still managing to do a little writing here.

February 26, 2016

Counterpoint: How I love the internet

Most people who know me offline-only don’t know that I’ve got health issues. I don’t advertise, and unless it’s relevant, it never gets discussed. But it’s a very real thing that impacts everything I do in every way possible.

PiC lives with me and still forgets how overwhelmingly present my pain and fatigue can be. The level of exhaustion I feel every single day is equivalent to having a bad head cold. Higher pain episodes are like being struck down with the flu and its friend, the 105 degree fever, losing control of your muscles and consciousness, an anvil on your chest forcing you to gasp for the lightest breath. For days. Days and nights, forever and ever amen.

From that perspective, even though I’m considered “functional”, lots of “regular” life pleasantries become a trial. A walk around the block takes planning: rest for 3 hours, walk for 20 minutes. Cooking a simple dinner? Spread it across 12 hours or pay the price. A phone call? It’d better be really important because I have to take time and attention away from what I’m doing to properly entertain the call and use energy for talking aloud. A couple phone calls can wipe me out for the rest of the day.

You’d better believe I sorely miss the days when none of that was true. When I could work all day, play late into the night, and only be a bit worse for wear the next morning. How I miss the energy and invulnerability of youth and good health! In lieu of that, I’ll instead be deeply grateful for how much life I still have thanks to today’s connectivity.

My high degree of introversion requires at least a 15:1 ratio of solitary to social time. In the pre-Internet days, it was 30:1 because social time demanded that I be presentable. None of this rat’s nest hair, unkemptness and pajamas deal. That stopped being ok after high school, apparently.  Who voted for that anyway? Nowadays, my life revolves around the internet.

While Vicky has a point that it can be all-consuming in a negative way, and I can feel to my marrow the longing to enjoy the air and saddle up my horse for an early morning ride instead of groggily waking up to work email, the fact is, with my health reality? There would be no riding for me. There would be no refreshing bracing air, there would be no breakfast on the propane stove. I would be an even crankier, isolated, friendless, shut-in. And who likes an angry shut-in except their cats? And I suspect that’s only because the cats are playing the long game. *shiver*

Why I love the internet


It’s far easier to set boundaries on the time you spend on any given thing when it’s entirely on the internet. If I’m chatting with someone on Twitter, it’s easy to just stop when I need to. The nature of the tool is that, barring the horrible trolls, you can very easily engage and disengage at will. You’re not required to engage with anyone.

Contrast that to when you run into someone you know on the street and don’t dodge around a corner fast enough. Then you get roped into a conversation you never wanted with someone who ignores your every “well, gotta go!” with a fresh topic until you just want the earth to open up and swallow you both. Preferably in separate chasms. PLEASE.

Naturally, I LOVE email. I can talk to someone at length, at my discretion and leisure, and they can do the same. No pressure!

Social me up

As much as my first thoughts about interacting with people dart toward “make it stop!” I do need the occasional friend.

But when I do want friends, this is the sad truth: my offline-only friends have scattered like dandelion fluff to all corners of the country and are busy with their own lives. You can find them on Facebook now, not just a phone call and ten minute car ride away. We keep in touch and see each other when we can but 98% of the year, I’m on my own. Or I would be, if I didn’t have the friends I’ve since made who are happily accessible in the space in which I can safely dwell without losing days thereafter gasping for air.

I’m not saying that my friends don’t care. But beyond our time and geographic constraints, the friends who are physically capable of doing in their 30s what they could do in their 20s are not the friends who necessarily understand or can accommodate the person that you became: someone in their 30s who functions like someone in their 80s. They didn’t spend the last two decades in waiting rooms alongside a geriatric population. They didn’t have to see a specialist whose youngest patient was 68 years old as their regular physician. You don’t see movies about the bucket lists of 30 year olds who are anticipating the possibility of spending their last 40 years crippled. That’s not a fun story and it’s not a fun life.

On the internet, not only can I have that social interaction and not be lonely during a string of isolation-days, I can find friends who understand what I mean when I say “I hurt.” And only on the internet could I message someone at 2 am saying “so I’m in labor” and not feel weird about it. Or message a friend at 4 am (you know who you are, Patti!) to ask “is this normal??” for the 50th time about a recalcitrant child that simply would NOT sleep.

Social vetting: the proof is in the mutual friends

After 5 years of determined experimentation, the data shows that you cannot make friends if you only leave the house, on average, 1 day out of 7 and avoid talking to people. (Why would I avoid talking to people? They’re draining.) It takes time and energy and that stuff is precious when it can’t be bought for love, money, or food bribery.

But making new friends is a thing you have to do if your old ones are all on the opposite. Pre-internet, this was a commitment of massive proportions: get cleaned up, drive/ride/walk to a place, wait for someone to show up that may or may not have common interests, find that they’re a delightful (yay!) or horrifying (oh no!) individual. In the latter case, wait for them to finally stop talking and lose interest so that you can hightail it out of there, taking three alternate routes and turnings so you can be sure that *if* they were also creepy they couldn’t track you home. [Only dudes have ever tried this with me. Dudes, if you’ve followed someone after a meet up? Don’t. That is super creepy.]

Over years of writing this blog, I’ve been incredibly lucky to find friends in a handful of fellow bloggers. Our friendships have deepened to the point where I refer to some as Gateway Friends. If they have deemed someone suitable to be friends with, I trust their judgment such that “your friend is my friend.” And that became possible because I witnessed their interactions on a regular basis and could judge for myself whether this is a person I’d like in my circle.

Heck, Vicky herself is someone I’d call a friend over our many shared years of blogging! We’ve never had the pleasure of meeting but we’ve helped each other out in a pinch, we’ve chatted over email, and where  do you draw the line at friendship? You don’t need to know if my laugh mimics the Roadrunner and I don’t need to know if your hair is a particular shade to be valued, do we?

My friends, who are actual living, thinking, caring and hugely supportive human beings whether or not we’re in the same room, are friends only because the internet made it possible.

A life without work has little meaning

It’s hard to recall a time in my life when I wasn’t working. Whether it was for my parents, for volunteer hours, or for a living, you’d have to go back to the early childhood years to find a period when I wasn’t doing some kind of labor. And I loved it. Heaven help me but it’s so satisfying to do something well and meaningful.

If I weren’t working for a living, I’d be working for a cause, or something I believed in. That’s why I want to retire, even, so I can do what I want: help!  But since I do have to work for a living, well, I have fifteen years of working in retail and another ten in my industry besides to be as grateful as Seamus with a brand new chew toy for the ability to telecommute to my current job.

Because most of my job can be done online, my time and energy can be focused on getting the job done, no wasting time on social niceties, I can also afford to live. Blimey but that’s a relief.

Fun is not just for the young

Pre-debilitation, I never walked anywhere that I could run, and never ran anywhere I could sprint. You can imagine how quickly all of that screeched to a halt when the whole disease thing set in. What did that leave me? Every activity I loved was my imaginary Olympic tryout, and then I couldn’t move. And if I did in defiance of nature? Bed, three weeks.

The internet can be a wonderful or awful place and I choose the wondrous. The internet gives me access to free books, chit chat with friends, and email with other friends. It gives me this blog! It gives me resources on food, raising the young, it gives me clothing that fits, DELIVERED! The number of stores I don’t have to search in person and on foot, for that, I give thanks. Heck, the internet makes it possible for PiC to try to replace our car without having to deal with the smarmy weasel-y salesmen we can’t stand. (I’ve met exactly one car salesman in 20 years who wasn’t gross. The odds are not in our favor.)

I can’t be the only person who loves what the internet lets us do. What about you?

August 14, 2015

The dog that ruined it for everyone

An “ode” to Guest Dog. I never thought there would come a day when I declared any dog unlikeable but never say never applies here.

I’ve watched pets for friends and acquaintances for years. It’s never been a problem and I’ve always enjoyed either helping a friend out or making a little extra cash. There were no drawbacks to that job, in my experience. More dog responsibilities meant more dog time! Yay! Until now. We just had a friend’s dog over for the longest week in our history of petsitting. There were regrets. So many regrets.

This dog is a familiar face. She’s usually a terrible companion, but harmlessly obnoxious. She’s not trained, has no manners, jumps on anyone and anything, and would lick even your tonsils given a hint of a chance.

This made her not the most eagerly anticipated guest but I was sure we’d be fine in the end. Boy did I ever call that wrong!

She arrived on our doorstep the first morning and commandeered Seamus’s rug, refusing to allow him to relax in his usual spot near my desk. Fine, he found another place to hang out. She spent the day scratching, and early that evening we realized why.

SHE HAD FLEAS. And she’d spent the whole day scratching herself and shedding flea dirt on our rug by my desk. Fantastic. (Ask FaM just how fantastic this is.)

I immediately hauled out a dose of Advantix flea treatment for her which starts working immediately but that only took care of the live ones as they bit her. Seamus is protected year round. That just left us to serve as the blood bars. And bloodsuckers LOVE me. Wunderbar.

By the time we settled LB down for the night and cleared up, it was 11 pm. There was no time to run around to the shops so we had to pull out the home remedies. We salted the rugs and set out detergent traps in hopes the fleas would die in them.

Two days later, we were still getting bitten. It was time for the big guns – the local shops didn’t have it so I special ordered Fleabusters on the recommendation of several friends. That was insult to injury: $36 and PiC had to spend hours that evening cleaning and treating our floors. The powder is incredibly fine and it was like we’d disturbed the ancient ghosts of tiny dust vengeance. We all retreated from the main rooms, so guest dog was relocated to the bathroom to spare her from the flea treatment and us from her shedding more flea dirt in the carpet. During her confinement, she decided to scratch the paint off the door. So now PiC has to sand down and repaint that door. We really didn’t have anything better to do this month.

To really crown her stay with us, she decided to sink to new lows. Midweek, I was checking her for fleas and flea dirt, bribing her with treats as usual, because she was still scratching incessantly and I was trying to figure out what needed to be done for her comfort. She cooperated for a minute and then took off sprinting for our bedroom and Seamus’s bed. That’s off limits at the best of times but for a flea carrier? Absolutely not! She’s notorious for rubbing herself all over furniture and there was no way I was going to strip down all the bedding and wash it all again in the middle of the night. I failed to intercept her but quickly went to shoo her out of the room, and would you believe she turned to chew on me like I was a corn cob?? Luckily I’ve had years of experience with dogs and was quick enough to avoid getting shredded but she was like a rabid badger so I couldn’t even civilly pick her up or escort her out. She had to be leashed and hauled out.

I had intended to give her a bath before she went home and give her a nice conditioner for her itching but she spent the next three days sidling over and baring her teeth. I shelved that plan.

I have never been so eager or thrilled to wash our hands of a guest dog. The fleas weren’t her fault but she was a pill and a half for everything else.

It’s going to be a very long time before we pet sit for anyone again, even if we do owe them a favor. I’ll make or buy them dinner instead.

I’d vaguely considered hosting on DogVacay as we had a really good experience with boarding Seamus with some great sitters but, after this, I don’t think we’re going to take a chance on that!

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