23 May 2016

Southern Spring

End of May already?!?  It may seem summer is firmly entrenched here in Starkville, but that's not so.  We are about two~thirds into Southern Spring, with about a month left of the season to go.  Why, it's downright balmy here!

Small Melon Basket that Mom made in Spring 2013
If you think short sleeves, short hems, and short shorts signify summer in the south, you are sadly mistaken.  It means spring has sprung.  Summer's coming, tho.  And when it gets here, we'll be wondering why we rushed spring's loveliness and days of seventies and eighties.  Enjoy where and when we are right now, the mornings when sixties demand a light sweater to calm the goosebumps, the days when we might break a sweat as we move thru the sunny afternoons, the cooler evenings that are just right for sitting on the porch swing, and the nights when temperatures dip down in the fifties.

To my northern roots, the signs of summer are here:  school's out, pools are open, and Memorial Day is this weekend.  Watermelon's in the market, lettuce and summer squash are being harvested, and Sonic's half~priced shakes are here.  So I've had to shift what summer means to me, those things now mean spring is mostly gone and summer is right around the corner.  Summer now means a heat and humidity as thick as egg drop soup, nights that are a reprieve from the direct sun, panting dogs, tea, tea, and more sweet tea, sweating while I'm toweling off from the shower, pig roasts, grilled meats and veggies, huge salads, and wondering how in the world our ancestors ever managed without air conditioning while wearing so many layers of clothing.

All that's coming soon enough, for now, I'm going to enjoy what's left of spring and try to finish up the last few knitting projects with heavy yarn before I start some lighter weight projects.

21 May 2016

pain in the ass is exhausting, she mutters

I never know until it's written, where exactly I'm going when I write.   I might know where I think it's going, but I might not always be able to keep it on track.  Sometimes I write to think, and in those cases, that shit most often doesn't see the light of day.  In fact, it usually is not lingering around in places that might be stumbled upon by others cuz I'm thinking and my thoughts are not always beautiful, shiny, happy thoughts, ya know?

Lately, my thoughts have been somewhat scattered more than usual, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it has given a few friends some cause to express concern.  So here's some of what's been going on with me that might explain observable signs of discomfort and lack of focus.  Overall and in the long run, this is an awesome thing; but for now, it's a bit awkward.

Most of my life, I've had some curvature of the spine that deviates from the healthy norm.  As a child, I'd other health issues that took priority.  Whether this spinal curvature is due to different length legs, or the different lengths of my legs are due to the spine curvature is a moot point at this time, because they both exacerbate the worsening of the entire condition of things.  Over the years, I'd tried several times to seek relief, sometimes undergoing physical therapy for months, having frequent massages, exercising and stretching, etc.

I've grown accustomed to ever present discomfort in my extreme lower back, spreading over my hips, and sometimes up into the thoracic region or down into my thighs.  If you've spent any amount of time around me, you'll notice {sometimes with irritation} that I am shifting around, trying to find a position that will either give some sort of relief or at least not contribute to the severity of the discomfort.  I don't even realize that I'm doing it til someone asks if I'm alright or if I'd like them to drive or if they can do something for me.  I appreciate their concern, really I do, but it also makes me feel a little like I'm being bratty, like a child who can't contain themselves and is squiggling.  I don't want to be rude, and honestly, I am paying attention to YOU, even if I am not paying attention to my own actions enough to realize that I am sending you signals that I am bored, frustrated, or impatient.  My squiggling has nothing to do with you and I don't want you to alter your delivery or to feel bad or self~conscience.  It's not you, it's me.  Really.

Well, lately, I've had quite a few xrays for seemingly unrelated complaints and even tho most of them haven't been done for the MD's concerns for my back, my spine does show up in them.  Even tho I am not a radiologist, I can see that this here vertebra is not aligned with the others, that this area of vertebrae actually seem to twist, and there is this general shift in shape, be it that it's not a straight line but a slant or that this curve is sharper than it should be, even going the wrong way.  But also, since I am not a radiologist and since I don't want to be seeing problems where there aren't any; I consulted several professionals who can examine xrays and reassure me that there is no problem that warrants any more concern than my "simply" losing weight.

I know I need to lose weight, I knew that ten years ago when I started to gain more rapidly than I could control.  Exercise at that point was near impossible, as even walking would cause my back to tighten to the point I could not breath without creating extra pressure on my mid back that would in turn further aggravate my lower back and hips.  When walking back from my mailbox brought tears to my eyes, I realized that I needed to bring this to the attention of my GP.  That was the second or third time that I'd had PT for this as an adult.

So I've absolutely no doubt that losing weight, strengthening my core muscles, and exercise would help tremendously.  I also know from the many times that I've gone thru programs to address those issues that there are some structural problems that are at the root that if they are not corrected, then the main discomfort continues to exist, because it's hard to retrain muscles that are having to support bones which are rotated, shifted out of alignment, curved, slanted, etc.

Occasionally, I will experience a flare up of sciatica, the pressure of a pinched nerve that radiates down my left leg.  That actual pushes the discomfort into a painful level that is very attention demanding and cannot be ignored for any significant period of time.  During those periods, sleep alludes me altogether and my nerves begin to fray in other ways, making me tense, sharper, snarkier, and more irritable as well as more irritating.

Usually, my daily discomfort runs about a three or four on a one to ten scale of severity.  This past Sunday, the pain was a steady nine.  Back pain is something I tolerate quite often, but the raw grating nerve sensations in my left leg and thru my hips can reduce me to a sniveling teary whiner eventually.

I think that as I age, I am becoming less tolerant of pain and discomfort.  It is increasingly a problem that I am aware of and so I have begun to take steps to address it.  I feel that this time might be the time that we can make more permanent changes to the deeper underlying issues.  And I am so excited!!

At first tho, there will be some new discomfort as the muscles are doing things they haven't been doing, as bones are shifted into more correct positions and those muscles are taught to be supportive, while other muscles are relieved of their massive duty that has been constant for so long.  It's taken a looooooooooooooooooooong time to get to this point, it's gonna take a long time to get untangled.  Not nearly as long as it did to get so bad; since that was not done deliberately, and fixing it all will be deliberate and constant.

So at the moment, I'm a bit uncomfortable in some new ways; but overall, it's for the a great goal and outcome!  Some problems we can't alleviate, like the degeneration of discs, the arthritis, and the bone spurs present on some vertebrae; but we can keep the mild degeneration from becoming more severe and the arthritis from progressing.  We can decompress the two crucial areas {in my neck and in my lower back}, we can work to correct the two areas of rotation {again, in my neck and lower back}, and we can hope to straighten the overall spine so that it doesn't have the wibbly, wobbly, timey, whimey thing going on.  So I am extremely happy that this is being addressed.

20 April 2016

Amy's Afghan {take two}

I know that I thought the last afghan I did was going to be Amy's Afghan, and it turned out to be, in a way.  The project veered off course, and became an experiment in various colorways using Lighthouse Mist, a fuzzy mohair, and assorted worsted weight yarns, simultaneously.  I did give it to her, but it was not THE Amy's Afghan that I was striving for.

However, I'm on the right path now, baby!

This is Pagoda in Caron Simply Soft, with LightHouse Mist, the variegated mohair that contributes the pleasing shifts in colorway.  The Pagoda is what gives it the overall teal foundation.  This is about two thirds as long as it's going to be, because I have yet another skein of Caron to go.

The overall length will be a bit over five feet.  Altho, when it's done, Amy may decide to consider it the width.

The original plan was to add two more panels, one on either side.  That would make the blanket much wider than the over length.  However, Amy might decide to turn it so that the panels become layers that make the blanket seven to nine feet long {I've not yet decided} and five foot wide.

When the other yarn comes in, which might be as early as tomorrow or as late as next week sometime, I'll post pix of that and make a decision on the final intended dimensions.

But for now, this panel, at this stage, is about 3x4.

08 April 2016

getting back to it

back of afghan
So for a week, I propped myself in the recliner and drank honeyed lemoned teas, eating the occasional bowl of oatmeal.  I hacked and coughed and engaged in other whining activities.  I did NOT knit.  Mostly because I didn't have the brain power to stay on target.
front of afghan

The next week, I ran higher fevers, which induced delirium that make total sense to my addled self at the time.  One of those episodes included me lecturing myself on refraining from knitting because I didn't want to pass on some contagious infectious disease to the recipient of said item.  This still makes sense to me, even in my recovered, non~feverish state.

However, I'm slowly beginning to feel more human and less like a sluggish slumped candidate for the next Mucinex commercial {I'd make an excellent Aunt Bertha, doncha think?}.  These past few evenings, I've been knitting some more rows onto this afghan.  I'm not crazy about it myself, but I think that the recipient will like it and that's the important thing.

02 April 2016

Happy Birthday

Dear Jerry,

I love you, you know.  There are times when you probably don't know how much I appreciate you as well.  Like now, for instance.  Even though you were sick yourself for about a week and are still feeling the lingering effects, you still take care of me, in my own whining, gross, pathetic moments of "honey, would you...?"
      *in this case, ... could mean but is not limited to:  bring me a cup of tea; make me a pot of tea; put honey in my tea; cover me with the blanket I just threw on the floor; bring me my inhaler; pick up my inhaler I just knocked on the floor; heat my neck roll; bring me my hot neck roll; bring me a towel to wrap the too hot neck roll in; buy me a bag of lemons; get me another box of tissues; bring me a bag to put my used tissues in; pull off my socks; take my temperature; put on my socks; tuck me in; help me out of bed; take the dog out of bed and close the bedroom door; bring me the lil'st dog so I can cuddle her; hold my hand; bring me the pillow;  no, not that pillow, the other pillow; make me jello; bring me a popsicle; heat me some soup; put the soup away; call the doctor's office; drive me to the clinic; give me a hug; hug me again; wait, i need to cough; ok, now another hug; tell me a story...

Even when I am at my worst, you love me and I appreciate that oh so much.  Because I know how hard it can be to put up with me when I am irritable, sniveling, snotting, whining, impatient, and confusing.  And I appreciate you because I know that you don't have to put up with me, but do it anyway.

I love you so.  I know that we had special plans for tomorrow, your birthday.  I know that you understand that it is not an optimal time for either of us, and I know that sucks for both of us.  Even though you have a whiny wife full of flu right now, it won't always be this way.  And we'll celebrate your birthday when things are looking much better.

In the meantime, do something for you, and not for me, and not for our three lil dogs.  Have a happy birthday in some meaningful way that is special for YOU.  I love you,  Debra

Oh, and would you please shut the drapes?

31 March 2016

Fever, in the morning, an' fever all thru the night...

The past two weeks have been exhausting.  And wild.  Fever and me is an odd combination at best, because my mind becomes very manic, and I free associate at a speed that can frighten me and then I get really mad that others don't understand my ramblings, especially if they are questions that really bother me, and no one can answer them because they are sane and not privy to the inner working of my brain which when exposed to fever engages in hallucinations and delirium.  It's seldom pretty, tho it can be greatly amusing, much later, not at the time.

Well, sometimes, it's amusing to others even at the time, just not to me.  I didn't even have a high fever when my family woke me after I fell asleep in front of my parents' friends' TV which had a baseball game playing.  They got a HUGE kick out of eight year old me demanding to know, "where's my thing, to catch the stuff?" while opening and closing my upraised hand.  It was a non~existent catcher's mitt.  A feverish teenage me insisted that my mom bring me my shoes, because I had to go to the bathroom.  Oh the family stories go on and on and on, and are filed under "Duhm Ass Things Debbie Says {when feverish}".

Thing is, generally speaking, I know when I'm running a fever, I know that this train of thought has left the realm of reality and is running rampant, having jumped the tracks of predictability.  And I'm still not able to control it.  Even if I had the energy to, I couldn't. The train isn't quite as friendly and welcoming as the Soul Train, nor does the soundtrack include some groovy hits ya can dance to.  It's more of a nightmarish snarling, hellish brutal train that keeps going, gnashing and spewing half formed ideas and tangents.  You'd think that this would have served as some creatively artistic juxtapositions fodder for me.  But no.  Not really.  Or maybe the truth is that there is plenty of material, but I lack the commitment and bravery to submerse myself into that world when I am NOT feverish and could actually write coherently enough to produce such mind benders.  The debris from that devilish dude is grimy, gritty, and greasy.  There is nothing attractive about even the tiniest shreds, nothing.

In the past two weeks, I've consumed enough water, tea, lemons, limes, oranges, honey, and oatmeal that I am truly at a loss for why I am still fighting this infection, virus, bacteria, whatever the hell it is.  We've both seen docs and have been told different things, but the treatments remain the same, mucus relief, acetaminophen, rest, and all the aforementioned  items.  Yesterday, Jerry felt pretty decent for the first time in a week.  I've not seen him get hit this hard in the seven years that I've known him.  He even went out and ran some errands for a few hours this morning.

I, on the other hand, am sinking deeper into a morass of fever, fatigue, wheezing, chest congestion, and mucus.  The main reason I've not returned to the doc is because I highly doubt there's going to be anything different about the treatment and I really Really REALLY don't feel like sitting with others who are also sick but who are much more generous with sharing their spewing germs.  However, I do realize that my own judgement might be seriously clouded and since I am feverish, I might be slightly manic, and therefore not making the best decisions...so in the interest of health, I am open to specific suggestions.

Jerry brought me home some wonderfully cool sweet frozen treats that make my throat feel so nice, my mouth smiles, and my tummy goes, "what's this?  what's this?  this new fangled thing?  this loveliness that makes me sing?  what? Is? THIS?"

I hope everyone has welcomed spring in their special ways and has been enjoying the beautiful weather.  Stay healthy!

17 March 2016

Esther, Easter, Eostre, Ostara, Austro

When I first moved here to Starkville, fifteen years ago, there was a Coffee Bakery across from WalMart in a strip mall.  Leona Jean {or Jane, sometimes I couldn't tell Jenny from Ginny, so Jane and Jean were interchangeable for me until my ear picked up some of the more subtle differences of the southern speaker, even tho Leona was not from here, I think she'd been here sufficiently long enough to let the syrup settle around her vocals} was the owner and main worker, I grew to know her and her regular clientele over the first several years.  Mr Charlie was one of the oldest gentlemen I've ever met and he told me a few things that have held true over the years; including that the last frost of the year would be Easter Weekend.  Which makes sense, really, considering that Easter is the first Sunday after the full moon on or after the spring equinox.

This year, Sunday March 20th will be the coolest night on our calendar, if the current weather forecast is accurate.  It'll get down to 33 degrees fahrenheit, which will leave some nice frost rime, that will disappear as the day warms up.  Easter is the following Sunday this year {a movable feast, which is why Easter can be midMarch thru midApril}; current weather predictions are saying that it's to be about fifty degrees that night.

When I was a child, in Pennsylvania, we had Good Friday and Easter Monday off.  Folks down here in the south don't really know much about Easter Monday, I've learned over the years.  Good Friday was a somber event, tied in with Easter Sunday; most folks who were semi~religious would attend sunrise church services on Easter {and Christmas midnight mass}.  Our Easter Mondays were when most organizations had their Easter Egg Hunts, chocolate egg sales, and clearance on Easter candy and dresses in the retail stores.  It was a solid four day weekend which allowed for some family travel.

Here, I've noticed that many schools will offer week long Spring Breaks coinciding with Easter.  Spring Breaks tend to nicely divide the semester in half, if the break occurs in March.  If break isn't til April, then the first part of the spring term seems to be unbearably long with students whining and teachers grinding their teeth in response to the petulance.  This is because most schools here in the south end in the beginning or midMay at the latest.

When I lived in Pennsylvania, our school years ended in June, with college letting out near the end of May.  I remember one year when we did let out til the end of June and some seniors had to be excused from school early because their colleges were holding sports camps and freshman orientation.  I do believe that was the year we had snow under the holly tree in June.

To me, Easter was always a time of new growth on its way.  You might not yet see the spring grass poking thru the snow, or the buds on the trees; but you knew that winter was winding down and spring was soon to make its appearance...eventually.  It meant that several churches were making their cherry, crispy, peanut butter, or coconut eggs, coated with chocolate and sold on the counters at most convenience stores and gas stations.  My friend and her father always made lots and stuffed the freezer full.  They wouldn't last long, because we all had our favorites.  Mine were the peanut butter.

We'd see lots of new dresses, worn under winter coats, and there'd be lots of spring balls, dances, and concerts.  We were just happy and eager to be thru with the harsh long winter and stuffed noses, hacking coughs, dry skin, and phlegmy chests that some of us broke from cabin fever into spring fever with a rumpus that usually set us back healthwise.  Easter bunnies, chicks, and eggs, sometimes the occasional white chocolate lamb with blue candy eyes were found in baskets.  Easter hams, with cloves and pineapple rings, made their appearances at family gatherings.

Few people really cared that bunnies hiding hardboiled colored eggs made little sense from a religious point of view, but made tons of sense from a historical and traditional perspective.  Most families spread newspaper out on tables and set out cups of dyed water, along with wax crayons, and dozens of hard boiled eggs for the kids and some adults would decorate the eggs too.  As I got older, different fads came into being, stickers instead of paintbrushes and little metal egg holders instead of spoons.  It's been so long since I decorated eggs, I don't even know what is available now.  We'd have little contests like which egg was the most beautifully decorated, from the different age groups.  Then for weeks afterward, we'd be eating hard boiled eggs in our lunches, egg salad, egg salad sandwiches.  My mom would pickle eggs with red beets so they would last longer and because that's when we had the most hardboiled eggs available, eggs being on sale at the grocers for a good price.

Whatever your way of observing this occasion,
 do have a good one!