Sunday, July 14, 2019

Helper

This bird loves nothing more in the whole wide world than "helping" with laundry.


He loves it so much, in fact, that he'll scream with outrage if you dare to turn on the dryer or fill the washer without his Feathered Highness in attendance. If you want to preserve the peace in the house you have to let him come into the laundry room and supervise every step of the process.

Life with Marco.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Junk out, junk in

The campaign to organize and pare down the stuff in this house continues. I didn't know we had so much pure junk stashed away! Yesterday I pulled everything out of the closet in the office to try to get a handle on it, and I quickly realized I wished I had never started! What a mess! Holiday decorations (not just Christmas), gift wrap supplies, old coats and sweaters, framed awards received from my job in 2009-2011, old calendars I kept for the artwork, 10 years worth of Gregg's aquarium job receipt and record books, knick knacks, and on and on and on. I was overwhelmed. But I got most of it sorted and there's three boxes of stuff to either donate or take to the dump today. There's still more to do: we have stacks of old CDs and DVDs in the office that need to be sorted, alphabetized, and either stored someplace handy or donated. Then there are two more closets in the bedrooms that need the same treatment, and lots of stuff in our laundry room cabinets too. Arrgh!!!! I've had enough for the moment, though, and I'm taking a break from it today.

Ironically enough, what I plan to do today is to go start scouring thrift stores for some items we need for our house. I know, I know: didn't I just complain about all the junk I had (and still have) to sort through? Yes, but there are items we need and I've resolved to shop at thrift stores to try to find treasures for cheap. We need things to hang over our mantle, above our sofa in the living room, and something for the wall in the foyer. While we have several small pieces of art painted by friends that we intend to get matted and framed, none of it is large enough for those three spaces. We also need lamps, and we'd like some that are both interesting and inexpensive. It would be great if I could find a few larger items, too, as we're still looking to add two barstools to the kitchen counter and a real desk here in the office. I kind of doubt I'll find big items like that in thrift stores, but you never know: a new Habitat for Humanity home store just opened right down the street. I resolved at the beginning of the summer to browse some of these shops at least once a week or so to be on the lookout for all the things we want. I hope I'll get lucky and find a few good pieces! I'm not usually one to find the really great deals in thrift stores so we'll see. I wish my mother in law was still alive. She was the queen of thrift store/yard sale/discount shopping and could find really good stuff for a song--and she wasn't afraid to haggle over the price, either! Part of the reason she was so lucky at it was that she was retired and had lots of time to look. Right now, I have way more time than money, so starting today I'm going to go do the rounds of treasure hunting.

Hey, part of the reason for cleaning out the old junk was to make room!

Do you like to go thrift shopping? And if so, what kinds of good stuff have you found? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, July 8, 2019

The bounty of summer

I went by the school where I work the other day to drop off some honey and egg money. I buy them from the 4-H Club leader, one of our science teachers who not only keeps lots of hens at her home, but she's also a certified beekeeper who maintains our school apiary. Yes, our school has our very own honey to sell! Here is a picture of our "Spring Honey" (on the left) and "Autumn Honey" (on the right). Check out the difference in color!


While I was there dropping off the money, I observed that several of the small pollinator gardens scattered around the campus (planted by the 4-H Club and Environmental Action Club students) were blooming like mad. Here is one of them, right in front of the entrance to the school.

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There were several bees buzzing around, and if you look closely you'll see a butterfly sipping nectar from the coral colored flower just left of center.

Last week Marla called me up one afternoon and said her husband was coming by to give us something. I knew right away that her grandma must have sent us some fresh vegetables from her garden, and I was right! Look at these beauties!

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There's nothing like fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers, and honey in the summertime!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Coming around

Good morning everyone! Thank you all for the supportive comments on my last post. I started back on my medicine a few days ago and I already feel a whole lot better. I've been trying to decide if the meds can really make a difference this fast or if I'm experiencing a placebo effect. After trying hard to be objective about it, I really think the meds are doing the trick. Within two days of taking the Zoloft I lost the emotionally fragile feeling I'd been walking around with for the past month. I'm also sleeping much better now and finally feel like I'm shaking the fatigue that's been dogging me so far this summer. Yay! I won't be so foolish as to simply stop taking the meds again without consulting my doctor.

Speaking of doctors, I probably should go see one about my foot. Specifically, the middle toes on my left foot---I think one of them may be broken. Yep, Miss Graceful strikes again! I got up the middle of the night last week to use the bathroom, and on my way back to bed I smacked my toes on the bottom of the exercise bike in my bedroom. Holy moly, did it hurt! And when I woke up the next morning the top of that foot underneath the toes had swollen and turned blue. I can't bear to touch the middle toe, and walking hurts pretty bad. I'm limping along taking Motrin and trying to walk on the side of my foot to accommodate the hurt toes. I hope it's just a couple of sprained toes and not a fracture, but even if it is a fracture I'm not sure there's much a doctor can do. Gregg suggested maybe I need one of those boot things. Wouldn't that be funny? A real summer fashion statement!

Today I'm going to work on starting some of the home projects I've got planned for this summer. Until I started back on the medicine I just couldn't muster the energy or will to do much of anything. All of a sudden I'm a month into my vacation and if I don't get a move on the summer is going to slip past. I'll be disappointed if I don't accomplish my list before going back to work. I've been making that list since we bought the house in November.

That being said, it's time to slurp down the last of the coffee and get to work. Today, reorganizing the kitchen cabinets is on the agenda. Everything got kind of crammed in willy-nilly when we were moving in last fall. Now that I've had time to use the kitchen I have a better idea of how things should be stored for maximum convenience. Another thing I need to do today (the first thing, in fact, before it gets too hot) is go out front and finish trimming the hedges. Gregg had the afternoon off yesterday so we did some yard work together, but it started raining when I was about 3/4 of the way through trimming the wildly out of control bushes in front. It shouldn't take over 30 minutes or so to complete.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Withdrawal

It's been almost a week since I posted here, and now June is just about finished. I wish this summer would slow down. It's passing by at lightning speed and I'll be back at work in no time.

I've been in a weird place, emotionally, for a couple of weeks now. Remember how I said I couldn't stop welling up with tears at our niece's wedding? I've been like that pretty much nonstop, over everything, recently. I alternate between tearful and emotional and irritated at the world. I'm not sure what's wrong with me, but I have an idea. About three weeks ago I stopped taking Zoloft. I've been taking a maintenance dose of it (50mg) for almost 20 years now. I think that's what's wrong.

I began Zoloft in desperation in my mid 20's after a particularly terrible, long lasting episode of OCD symptoms, crippling anxiety, and black depression. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) can be a horrible, debilitating mental illness although very few people take it seriously. I still have to bite my tongue when people say, "I'm so OCD!" when what they really mean is that they have a penchant for order or cleanliness. It's so not that. And it's not a joke, believe me.

 It would be painful and embarrassing to describe my symptoms here, and so I won't, but I'll leave you with just one example of what the hell of OCD is like. One time when in the throes of it, I hit a pothole in the road while driving my car. I could not (could not) shake the irrational fear that I had hit a person. I drove back around the block probably dozens of times, trying to reassure myself that it wasn't a human being and just a pothole that I had hit. No matter how much my logical mind told me that it was absolutely ridiculous and irrational, my anxiety was kicked up to a level where I was powerless to stop myself. When I finally managed to get myself back home that day, I spent hours obsessing over that damn pothole, still trying to reassure myself that I hadn't killed someone. Imagine this scenario, and now imagine dozens of scenarios just like that happening every single damn day....for months. I was a wreck, y'all. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep more than a couple of hours a night, just.....couldn't. Couldn't function. Couldn't shake it. Add in the fear of losing my job, exhaustion, unrelenting emotional misery....well,  those months were hell. I've had OCD since I was a small girl  (my dad has it too, it's a genetic thing) but never like that. I finally had to go to the county department of mental health (I couldn't afford a private psychiatrist and had no health care coverage at the time) and get myself prescribed something to try to crawl back out of the hole I was in. Eventually, slowly, over a period of two or three months, my symptoms subsided, my depression lifted, and I became a normally functioning human again.

Eventually, I cut the dose down to only 50mg and fast forward to now, almost two decades later. I've been (mostly) symptom free for years. I like to think I've found other ways to cope with my weird brain chemistry. I began to wonder if such a small dose as 50mg was really making much of a difference. I still have no psychiatrist; my family doctor (and in years past, my gynecologist) will happily write the script for my refills. While I appreciate the refills, I've started to think maybe I need to speak to someone who specializes in mental health before I continue to take SSRIs. A couple of weeks ago, I ran out of pills, and had not taken them for a few days before realizing it. I considered getting reupped, but then thought maybe a break (just to see how things went) wouldn't hurt anything, especially now since I'm off work for the summer.

Well, I haven't had any OCD symptoms (yet)  but I'm definitely experiencing withdrawals. There's the overly emotional responses to everything, like at the wedding. There were very vivid, weird, sometimes frightening dreams most nights for a week or two. There are the "electrical brain zaps" that you sometimes read about, the momentary dizziness that comes and goes, and worst of all there have been two instances where I felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack. Both times I woke up from a sound sleep feeling a strange tightness, a panicky fluttering, in my chest and the feeling of not being able to breathe right. It was scary.

Today I'm just feeling irritable and out of sorts. It's why I've been mostly absent from blogland this past week, since I have nothing good or positive to say. I'm wondering now if this is still withdrawals from Zoloft (how long could those possibly last, you know?) or if I'm just starting up my PMS week. Hormones and brain chemicals can be hell to deal with.

And I wonder if I should call in a refill of the meds, or if I should give this break from them a little more time to see what happens? Overall the worst of the withdrawal symptoms seem to have subsided a little. Of course, I worry about the return of the old OCD monster and depression, but I'm trying hard to be vigilant about that. Maybe I need to find myself a psychiatrist. Maybe I'll get lucky and Dr. Spo will read this post and give me a word of advice.

I'm not quite sure where to go from here. If anybody reading this has any experience with stopping SSRIs, I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, June 24, 2019

A lovely day

Our niece's wedding on Saturday was simply beautiful. I've only ever attended a handful of weddings in my life, and I never considered myself the kind of person who would get emotional at them, but I surprised myself and my husband by brimming with tears over and over again. The first time was when we arrived at the venue, and I went into the dressing rooms with my sister in law to speak to the bride a few minutes before the ceremony. She looked so beautiful that the tears started right then and there:

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This picture wasn't quite as in focus as I would have liked, but it's one of the few
 I got before the ceremony. Isn't that a gorgeous wedding dress? 

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Examining Roxie's gift.
The couple had insisted that their little dog, Roxie, was going to be a part of the wedding. They had a tiny little veil that attached to her collar and a box that she was to carry in her mouth that contained the wedding rings. She sat in the front row with the bride's family, with the mother of the bride holding her leash. We had heard about this plan last week, and the manager and staff of the pet store where uncle Gregg works were delighted when he told them about it....and so they assembled a huge bag of expensive treats and toys for the "bridesmutt"! I made up a pretty gift basket....for the dog....complete with a tiny pink toy tiara I found at the dollar store. (The bride and groom had requested "no gifts" for themselves, but I knew that they'd be thrilled that we had a present for Roxie!) After I snapped that photo of Melissa looking at the basket, she gave Roxie one of the toys, and Roxie ran over to an upholstered settee, jumped up on it with her prize, and proceeded to shake and chew it. It made the bride and the girls in the wedding party laugh. 

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Roxie at the reception with the father of the bride.

I didn't take any pictures during the actual ceremony, of course. It was held outdoors by a small pond in front of a simple woven wood arch decorated with small bundles of pretty wildflowers. 

There were humorous moments, like when the nervous groom was asked, "Will you take Melissa to be your wife..." and he jumped the gun and said "I will!" before the officiant paused, smiled, and then continued "..........to love and to cherish her...." and all of the assembled guests laughed. Jay blushed adorably and laughed, too. It was so sweet. At least twice during the short ceremony I was helpless to stop the tears, and Gregg was surprised. He hadn't thought to bring a hankie, but when he noticed the tears rolling he smiled at me and gently squeezed my hand. I had to laugh at myself a little. When did I become such a softie?!



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The bride and groom. 

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I thought Melissa's hair looked lovely. I love the flowers tucked in at the back. This photo also shows off the back of her gown. 
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I can't believe that the tiny 3 year old girl with big eyes that I met when I first started seeing her uncle 20 years ago has grown up into a beautiful woman (beautiful on the inside as well as the outside) and is now a married woman. Where has the time gone? I hope that they will be happy, and that their marriage will be a long and a good one. It's clear to see that Jay is utterly besotted with and devoted to Melissa, and she's lit with happiness when she looks at him. May it always be so!        

       
            

Friday, June 21, 2019

Help me choose

A couple of you asked to see the dress I bought for the wedding on my last post. Here's a picture of it on the hanger, followed by the two pairs of shoes I bought. Which ones should I wear with it?




And here's the dress I got really cheap to begin with as a backup in case I failed to find anything better. I'm glad I found something else, to my eyes this looks too dark for a summer wedding, although the material is light and gauzy and cool. Maybe I can wear it to work sometimes in the fall. We'll have summer temperatures right through September at least.


Off to finish a few last minute chores around the house, and to sit outside for a few minutes for a little bit more sun on my legs, arms, and shoulders. There's not a whole lot left to do, thank goodness.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Getting ready

You'd think that a one night trip out of town would be easy enough to plan for, but I haven't found that to be the case. Of course I'm referring to our niece's wedding that's coming up on Saturday. I feel like I've done nothing but get ready (and spend money) for the past two weeks.

First there was finding a decent hotel room, which was expensive considering it's wedding and graduation season in a college town. The one I reserved is nice, but nothing fancy, and it's expensive enough that we could only afford one night after all the other costs of the trip (clothes and shoes for me, gas for the 12 hours of driving we'll be doing, a check up on the car that ended up costing us for a minor repair on the tire alignment, dry cleaning for the suit Gregg will wear, a gift card for my friend Martina who will be pet sitting, and on and on).

Then there was the aggravation of finding a dress. The first day I went shopping I found an inexpensive navy blue dress with gray and white trim on the bottom that would do if all else failed. Since it was so cheap on clearance, I bought it as a backup, but I wasn't altogether happy about the sober colors for an outdoor wedding in June. I continued to look and ended up finding a cream colored, floral patterned summer dress that I like much, much better. Despite how much I like it, I did have a moment of disgust with myself while trying it on, though. I hate the lighting in dressing rooms; when you're overweight it shows every flaw in your figure and every single ounce of cellulite. I would so love to be slim and to have a pretty silhouette. Sigh...

I'm never going to have a graceful figure; even at my lowest adult weight I was still tall, with broad shoulders, large breasts, and thick, muscular legs and arms. And I'm far from my lowest weight, even after the 30 pounds I lost last summer. It makes trying on clothes a chore to be dreaded, not a fun activity. But the dress does show off my body's few good features (I have some curves, at least, and my weight is distributed evenly) and it looks as nice as anything is going to look on me, I think. So that's okay. I was also pretty disappointed with the appearance of the skin on my ankles. I have terrible eczema, and I've been working hard for weeks to get the skin as well as possible to avoid stares and comments. I've been slathering on steroid cream several times a day, and making a huge effort to not scratch. It's hard. Eczema is a miserable beast. Right now my ankles look the best they've looked in years, but in the dressing room lighting it was still obvious that the skin is scarred. Oh well. I've done my best to minimize it.

Do I sound terribly vain yet? Probably. I'm sorry. Moving on....

Speaking of ankles, I finally found shoes to wear this morning. I went out shopping without my dress and had a hell of a time deciding what shoes would look best with it. It took over an hour and I finally ended up buying two pairs in hopes that one of them would work. And I got lucky, because they both look great! Now that my outfit is complete, and everything is done except for packing, I can relax a bit until we leave (really early Saturday morning).

I'll try to take a few pictures at the wedding and of the mountains where we'll be staying to share here next week. I'm sure it's all going to be lovely and we'll have a good time. It will be nice to finally meet our niece's new husband, and to see Gregg's family, but I'll be glad to get back home on Sunday evening and have it all done. Then I'll feel like my summer break can really begin.

Have a good weekend, everyone.