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Friday, January 19, 2018

Christmas II


Pop and Aunt Judy tag-teamed to get my slipper-boots on me to leave.

After spending a day in the wheelchair with my feet down for most of it they were swollen and putting the boots on was much more difficult than it was when David put them on at six in the morning. But they did get them on, David scraped off the van, we got our goodies to take home and with loving goodbyes we were homeward bound.

The surface streets were slippery and snowy but not so bad once we got on the freeway. The freeway was full of cars headed south on Christmas evening after a seasonally early sunset. Crowded roads were probably a good thing because lots of cars and lots of tires helped keep lanes clearer, but it was mostly the common Michigan practice when it snows, three lane sections of freeway become two lane sections. There were some slick spots but we got back to Toledo okay.

Really our driveway was the most treacherous snow we had to deal with! David tried backing in and that didn’t work so we pulled back out and went in front ways through the drifted snow David did some tricky turning in the backyard to line up my door and the ramp so I could get in the house. He shoveled off the ramp and I put my chair in high traction gear and I got in safe and sound.

Marco greeted us at the door, acting like we’d been gone forever. Christmas day this year is the longest he’s been alone in his entire life. He went from being with his Mama and littermates to having a human Mommy and Daddy and two older sister-cats. He hadn’t been alone more than a couple of hours since Carla’s passing and today had been 14 hours. To a kitty brain, that’s almost a week!

David went in to the living room while I was taking off my cape and immediately discovered some of what Marco had busied himself with during the day!

I’d done a pretty good job of keeping him off the table and not chewing the little tree for the time it had been there

The tree is about 2-1/2 feet tall and was a gift from a friend who helped out in an aide capacity in November and December. I’ve said before that I need those lights, the warm glow of a tree, to feel holiday cheer. She knew what I meant and brought the tabletop tree, lights, ornaments and everything as a gift a couple weeks before Christmas.

After righting the tree and getting the rest of our packages inside and getting something to drink, we opened presents that were around our tree.

I always love giving David an Italian chocolate hazelnut bar. It’s a large candy bar and David absolutely loved it the first time my aunt gave us one in our gift when she and my uncle visited from San Marino in 2009, when we were iced out of seeing everybody. So much of the food I grew up with doesn’t match David‘s palate, so I enjoy making sure he gets that candy bar at least once a year so I can share a little of my heritage. I also got him a sweater in a yarn pattern he seemed to really like and a copy of Stephen Colbert‘s Midnight Confessions.

We agreed that that’s one of our favorite recurring segments on The Late Show and when the book came out that it would be a fun coffee table book.

Yes, that is an area where with the laugh and a smile I admit I’m old; my husband and I tune to “Colbert” before bedtime the same way my grandparents said “let’s see who’s on Johnny Carson.“

Edna was so generous! (she always is) I was a good girl and waited to open the box she sent until Christmas. She sent a message to me not to open the mailer, and that box was the base of the gifts around the tree, protected from my anxious inner chid by the fact an aide put it just out of my reach. Edna gave a bunch of sweet gifts, highlighted with her 2018 calendar. I always look forward to seeing the photos she chose for the year. She’s such a talented photographer! There was also a train DVD for David and sweet squirrel ornament. David added the ornament to the tree because Marco wanted to add my squirrely to the squeaking cat toys Pogo sent him.

The marquis gift this year was the bed doll in a hand-crocheted green dress.

The pic is before her hair was un-messed from shipping and I’ll get a better pic on my made bed sitting on my prayer quilt as soon as my 2018 remix is in full swing. She kinda looks like me in the messy hair shot, well, except that I have a bit more gray. I would so have worn the green dress in the pre-gray and wheelchair days!

After enjoying gifts and taking some time to assure Marco we never planned to abandon him, a fun but long Christmas Day turned into a cozy and exhausted slumber.

Thank you to everyone who contributed in person and in heart to a wonderful holiday!

Happy New Year Remix!

Me at midnight on 2018 take one. 
 See I was ready! 
 Well the packaging was ready.

This week started with some spiced rum in an organic soda I’m not so crazy about. Simple Truth’s grapefruit Italian Soda is phenomenal, but the rum really saved the lime and coconut. It all enabled me to symbolically swallow the bitter start and fix it to improve the flavor for my remix.

I have a new aide during the week. She is experienced and has so far done a great job of getting into my groove. There are a couple of candidates for the weekend too. I feel safe that I’ll be protected for a while. My hard drive was picked by an associate of David’s to retrieve my trapped data. I've crossed everything and prayed to every known deity that, if not all, at least the majority of my data can be retrieved.

Look for (finally) Christmas II this afternoon. After the OS update I’ve been putting off for a couple of days, (Joey is now telling me I can't make the reminder go away without updating) I’m going to start putting my 2018 goals and projects on screen in one place.

So, heres to a great 2018, filled good will, good luck and tasty fruit sodas for us all!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Off To A Slow Start

It's January 5 already. Ugh.

I had plans. I actually had a lot of things already set in place the kick off 2018. And I haven't given up on those plans. I’ve just chosen to push them back a little. Well maybe things were chosen for me. (— makes erasing motion in the air in front of me —) Things weren’t chosen for me; challenges presented themselves and my response to those challenges requires a little extra time. Therefore I'm pushing 2018 back a little. It's my hope that I'll find the elements I need by January 15. I might even try to get that schnapps I've been looking for since the beginning of December and do a countdown and toast on January 14.

But I'm getting ahead of myself

Right now in my mind it is still the end of 2017 and I'm making plans for 2018 to kick off in a much more controlled by me way. Right now I feel like I'm still standing in 2017 and I need a scraper to get the year off my shoes. I hated 2017. We lost two cats. I was taken off MS medications because my liver panel levels we're too high and they're still too high. The doctors haven't been able to figure out why and until they do no MS meds for Nani. Where that is bad is that I'm starting to experience more or worsening MS symptoms. The biggest thing that means is that numbness from the elbows down I'm both arms that I talked about before. That makes blogging, scrapbooking, even writing in my own personal journal very difficult and some days impossible to do. The cost of aides, which is in no way covered by my insurance, has depleted the most of my retirement savings and there was a scare that that wouldn't even be something that was tax-deductible anymore. At least that was saved in the reverse Robin Hood tax bill. There were enough people that wrote to their members of Congress and told them "if you let this happen I'll do everything in my power to make sure that you NEVER have a seat in any kind of government again.” (--whistles and looks to the sky--not that I'D say anything like that to a member of Congress that represents me) My aides alone cost close to half of our household income.

My biggest regret in my life as we start the year with a greater threat of nuclear war than there has ever been in my lifetime, is that I didn't register properly and didn't campaign harder in 2004. With the campaign slogan I created in 1983, “An End To War In 2004,” if I'd been serious and louder I might've at least gotten some influential people laughing at the little 30-something who would be a write-in President Of the United States, but giving some thought to what she was saying. My health plan was still better that anything Washington has come up with since then. And getting rid of the designated hitter was part of my platform too. I also still think that's right but it's part of my platform I’d have given up for the healthcare. (—shaking head—) Too flexible to be a politician.

But seriously, my biggest challenge right now happened on New Year's Eve. Not only did one of my regular Agency aides get into a car accident, that thankfully didn't harm her, that totaled her car, but the friend who is going to be my aide on a regular basis starting January 1 also got into an accident that total the only car she and her husband shared. She is fine but she is no longer able to be my aide. In the first four days of the new year there's been someone into help me once. I'm not saying that David hasn't been help when he's home, but that he's not home all the time is why I need an aide in every day. I've been feverishly looking for a couple of aides that I can afford. Sticking with the agency is really not an option. That I can use them at all now is through a grant from the MS Society that now is barely going to last until the 15th. I do have someone coming in almost every day next week. This is the biggest challenge and why I am pushing 2018 back a couple weeks. I simply refuse to allow this week especially to be part of the new year I had so much hope for.

I do have a great hope for 2018… when it starts on January 15. I contacted some potential caregivers from care.com. I don't know if it's nationwide that there're lots of ads for care.com, or if it's just the TV channels I watch. But I've interviewed a few decent caregivers and it's on my schedule to interview a couple more with a job post still running on the site.

My other great disaster in 2017 was that my scrap booking extended hard drive broke. The information is still there but the physical input to the drive came out so I can no longer use the drive with my computer. That means either someone door company that does disk retrieval we'll have to try to save my information or almost 50 scrapbook pages will have to be redone. They hadn't been transferred because of redundant disc yet. The worst part is my scrapbooks we're done until 2017, completely finished. The plan was to start 2018 with just the last of 2017 to finish and I would be scrap booking current and memories that I wanted to scrap. But if I can't save the data from that drive, I'm still 50 pages behind.

The 2018 prep is rescue the data! Finding some place to get that done hasn't been easy. The only place locally the does anything like that gave me a brochure for a place in California but does disk retrieval. They can do it for $700. I call and get a case number but I can put it on my desk and mail it to them. The good news is if they can't retrieve my data there's no charge. The bad news is if they can retrieve my data it's $700! There's a place in St. Louis that will do it for $400. My creative time alone might be worth that much. That’s about $8 a layout. Figuring the faster layouts take a good four hours to do, plus purchased scrapbook kits on that disk, it probably is worth it, but I can print two books for that price. David offered to make retrieving the data my Christmas present. I said no because it cost so much. Dammit little angel on my shoulder. LOL

One of the lost pages. 
Print-quality pages trapped on the drive include 
3 Christmases, the congressional softball game, 
“Nani at 50” pages and the Kaline tribute pages.

It still makes me wonder if I shouldn't have pursued the geekier part of computers instead of the creative. I am the geekiest member of our household, but that and $400 will retrieve my creative data from my drive!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy 2018

Personally, I welcomed the new year quietly and alone. But it was good.

2017 was an awful year that worsened with every passing month. Worldwide, nationally, personally; I have more bad than good to say about it and I’d gladly give up the good for the bad to have never happened. I’d erase the year if I could.

Too much hate. Too much fear. Too much death. Not enough schnapps.

Not enough smiles.

2018 is a beautiful baby new year, but born from a crack whore we need to as a planet, a nation, as individuals, nurture it with love and protect it so it can have the hope and beauty a new year promises.

*** Christmas 2 will be posted soon pending getting a few photos I want for that blog.

*** Coming soon - 2018 Projects and Goals

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Pop's and Aunt Judy's tree
*decorated byTori*

Christmas blessings were abundant this year. In a year where health, finances and time left me giving a little less in some areas than I usually like to, I still seemed to receive a lot. I think what hurt the most was that we didn’t do Christmas cards this year. We always put the kids on our cards. If not having Kaline on them didn’t hurt enough, we knew Carla was sick at the time I would’ve been making the cards and I couldn’t bear to even think of whether not to put her on the card. I’ve also been in constant back-and-forth arguments with the insurance company about how much money out of pocket I’ve spent on my healthcare this year since the end of September.

But onto the happy stuff! David and I woke up at 5 AM yesterday to forage north to Pop’s House for Christmas. It had snowed a little and it was very cold but our drive was relatively uneventful. The main road off the freeway and the dirt road to Pop‘s house was our biggest snow challenge. The last of my cold still lingers, so I couldn’t smell Pop and Aunt Judy’s citrus pine, but I sure could smell the bacon cooking! Tori was busy at the stove with a couple packs of bacon cooking and cooking. “Papa said ‘just cook at all.’ I have a small stack of wimpy bacon for Uncle David t oo.” My love of crispy bacon is a family trait.

Then it was present opening time. It was Rina's and Tori‘s suggestion a few years ago that we draw names instead of buying for everybody. It gives you the opportunity to really shop for thoughtful gifts for one person instead of trying to spread the budget around two gifts for everyone. It worked out great. I know in the past few years I’ve given and received some wonderful gifts. This year was no different.

Rina's boy, Basil, sitting next to his great-uncle.
Ya know how cats are drawn to non-cat people?
David is not a dog person, but this started 
with a nap together before breakfast.

In drawing names it was strange this year that fathers and first daughters traded gifts. Pop and I had each other as did Dave and Rina. It was Star Wars for Dave and Red Wings for Rina and their Exchange and mostly food stuff between Pop and me. Keeping in mind that this is the 52nd Christmas Pop and I have celebrated together, choosing gifts wasn’t difficult, but it seemed that knowing when to stop was for both of us! Pop gave me a wonderful vibrating kitty neck wrap that I’m looking forward to trying tonight, As well as some warm slippers and a beautiful bracelet. And the food, wow! I got 4 solid large persimmons and some ambrosia apples to help them ripen, an only raisins panettone, lemon pizzele and some other tasty treats including two packages of my favorite breadsticks that can only be found, that I know of, and his Italian store. Among the things I found for him, to go with the stories and recipes from American immigrants cookbook, were an 18-pack of Pocket Coffee (dark chocolates with a liquid espresso center) chestnuts in a 1 pound block of aged 3 years Parmesan Reggiano cheese. We had a fun and yummy exchange! Tori was beyond happy, Especially about 2 poetry books from Ucle David. Between Rina, David and me for the information and finding the books, we did really well with that one!

It had been snowing a little bit while we were opening presents and there was already a thin coating of snow on our van when the Indianapolis family headed back home A little before noon. We made sure to have them call when they got home. I guess the worst of the snow was in Michigan for their ride.

Our annual Christmas 3-shot
Rina, Nana, Tori

Around 3 o’clock my cousin, Lisa, and family arrived for dinner. The snow was falling in heavier squalls by then and when Lisa’s bff, Annelie, and her kids got there they were commenting about the roads being pretty nasty.

All. Freaking. Day.

David and I have usually seen Lisa‘s kids a few times during the year between Christmases. I usually see Lisa’s kids more than we see Lisa! This year we hadn’t seen the kids all year and in a year her oldest, Owen, looks like quite the young man and as completely sweet and giving as he’s always been. Her twins don’t look like kids anymore either. At 13, they are definitely teenagers. Audrey is a beautiful young woman who looks more like her mom every day. Ethan is 100% teenager, showing off his new smart watch, but he made a point of engaging everybody, making you feel like his favorite person when he was talking with you. (What a magical gift!)

My awesome cousins

At the end of the evening when we were all packing up to go, Annelie sent home half of her homemade apple pie with us, we tried that apple pie for the first time at Thanksgiving and OMG it is wonderful! Before they were ready to leave Lisa‘s husband, Tory, shoveled off the ramp so we wouldn’t have to do that to leave. I’ve always said and I’m always proven right; my family chooses and breeds the best!

More Christmas to come...