Welcome to my coffee shop in the cyber neighborhood!

The Chronicles of Nani On Video

I am overcoming my inability to type with my ability to talk (and talk and talk and talk) I'll be posting a video every week on my YouTube channel. I'll be posting those videos here too along with an occasional regular blog in the mix. (As long as my hands are up to doing the extra typing.)

You'll be able to watch the videos here, but I encourage you to stop by my channel at YouTube once I'm up and running to follow me and get my numbers started!

Welcome to my coffee shop in Cyber Space
Try the latte with a slice of black forest cake!

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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...


Sunday, December 10, 2017

We Are A One-Cat Family Now

Carla Yastrzemski Patch
“The Good One”
*September 9, 2008 - December 1, 2017

December started for us with our second visit this year to that room at the vet’s office with the soft blanket and a box of tissues. They couldn’t perform the scheduled mastectomy on Carla. They shaved her up to get her ready, and discovered the cancer had moved into her armpits, it was just too aggressive to operate. We thought we would have to go in the next morning to say goodbye. I called David that afternoon and told him I wanted him to bring Carla home at least for that night. In 2008 when we brought her home from the shelter and promised her a forever home, we rescued her from living in a cage. I didn’t want her last night to be in a cage.

They sent her home with pain medicine. We would be able to allow her to let us know when she was done. She wasn’t really a lot weaker yet, she could still jump up on the bed to curl up with her daddy until he fell asleep and she could still come downstairs. to jump up on the foot rest of the recliner and sleep to relax her mommy to sleep. She was still eating and enjoying treats and in the evening she still spent part of the time attached to daddy's side on the couch and the other part on her armrest on the recliner making Carlaccino.

Marco and Carla- one last sun bath in the front window together

That lasted just over two weeks. At the end of two weeks she was moving very slow, sleeping a lot and not able to get up to the places she liked to be. Three days before it was over we had given her one of the painkillers in the morning. It was very sunny and it took her two tries to get on top of the chest by the window. She sat confused and Marco sort of guided her in to the cat hammock in the window so she could sit in the sun. It broke my heart that night after David went up to bed and she didn't follow upstairs, she crawled off the couch and sat in front of the recliner and cried up to me begging to be picked up. I wanted so badly to be able to pick her up and comfort her. She crawled back up to the couch and curled up back to sleep and I cried. The next day we gave her a painkiller in the morning and she pretty much slept all day with no interest in food or any of the other things she normally liked to do. She knew it was time.

We'll remember Carla in many special ways. She was a year-old when we adopted her and after having a rough first year, including having had kittens when she was still a kitten herself, she was adult cat size but had the happy kittenhood with lots of love she was owed. We were happy to give that to her and she never stopped being grateful. In so many ways she never stop being a kitten.

But to everyone that met her, Carla was a kitty of sounds. Her shelter name at Paws and Whiskers was Sassy. It wasn't too long after she came home that we realized how such a sweet girl could be called sassy. Carla had no problem letting us know when she needed petting. She had a very distinct, loud and plaintive meow when she demanded attention. But more than that meow, I worried the first time I heard the happy meow. She would yell loudly but muffled when she had a toy in her mouth and was walking around with it. We came to call that muffled meow singing, "I got I toy, I got a toy, I got a toy!” We call her purring “Carlaccino” because it sounded like the espresso machines in the coffee shop. When you pet her on her sweet spot; right on the top of her head between her ears, her purr would start low and quiet and get louder, building just like an espresso pot.

But what turned out to be the most distinctive Carla sound was there in other parts of the house but it really came to life when we removed the carpet over the hardwood floors in the living room. She had her clumsy moments jumping up on things, but when she walked through a room she had a fluid elegance and when she walked on the hardwood floor her claws made a rhythmic clicking sound like a lady in high heels. My weekend aide always celebrated her when she came downstairs welcoming her as “Miss Fancy Feet.” The friends, aides and nurses who are here most often noted they missed the lady like clicks of her feet on the floor when she came home for hospice care. In prepping her for this surgery she ended up not having, they clipped her claws.

Now all of Carla’s sounds, warm cuddles and the eternal kitten who never stopped playing in the eight years she was with us are gone. Last year at Christmas time, gifts to the canine family and friends came from "the three wise cats." This year Marco will be an only cat for the holidays. He left his litter mates when he was a kitten and instantly had two sisters so he's never been an only cat. It's different for all of us in a little emptier house this year.

2017: We lost our ‘Queen” and our “Good One.” 2018 has to be better.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Where I’ve Been

It’s been a rough year. It's still a rough year. I'm sorry if I've worried my cyber friends but I've been processing a lot IRL. IRL, in real life. My blog is mostly an extension of that"real life,” except the doctors don't read my blog and the cats can type. As you know, if you're a regular reader of this blog, we lost our Kaline to kidney failure at the end of July, just before her 12th birthday. Today Carla, who we adopted at just over a year old from the shelter a month before our first wedding anniversary, is in surgery. David had discovered a mass on her underside and when she went to the vet last week she was diagnosed with cancer. Blood work and x-rays showed it to be a rather large mass but it wasn't in any major organs which increased the possibility of surgery being successful. I pray that she’s strong enough to handle the anesthesia and recovery.

Two of our three cats very sick in one year is devastating. We don't have kids, we have cats. They're the soul of our house, what makes it home. They are my comfort and company when I'm home alone. In this year I needed that comforting company. Please send a prayer and good thoughts for strength for Carla today.

In April testing, my liver levels had gotten very high. That's a possibility with the medication that I was taking for MS so I was taken off that medication. The plan was when my liver levels came down we would choose a new MS medication for me. But normally after one is taken off Gilenya, in 2 or 3 months the levels come down. but with me that didn't happen. The liver levels stayed up and other things went weird. I began to gain a lots of weight in a short period time after I'd already been progressively gaining while staying true to my diet. My doctor said with the way that I eat, even not be able to move a lot, I should be losing, not gaining. She had ultrasounds of the liver and gallbladder and then I had blood work done.

I have gallstones! Yay, something new! I also had an increase in my hypothyroidism and glucose. For the first time ever in my life my glucose level is over normal and I can be considered diabetic. She increased my thyroid medicine we were going to see if bringing that level down would give some weight loss and bring the glucose down. She also sent me to a surgeon to see you about having the gallbladder removed. My inability to move and MS would make the pain and other symptoms of the gallstones considerably worse and the gallbladder is not an essential organ. My fear of surgery diminished considerably when in conversation with friends I realized how many people I've known for years have been living without a gallbladder.

The gallbladder surgeon, who was the complete and total jerk and someone I wouldn't let cut into me anyway, determined I didn't show enough symptoms to warrant gallbladder removal. He sent me back to my doctor with his suggestion to refer me to a GI specialist and a gallbladder MRI. Oh joy, oh fun, MORE MRIs! Like I said, processing a lot.

Last week was semi annual Cleveland Clinic day. At this point I've had no MS medicine since April. That's mostly evident in the loss of feeling and control in both of my hands and arms. This only adds to the diminished blogging! I can do stuff in Photoshop for scrapping but I tend to do pages that don't have a lot of journaling. Even speech to text requires going back in and fixing words that aren't quite heard correctly by the computer. And I get tired a lot faster from doing everyday things.

So this year I've been dealing with my hands and arms feeling more useless and increased fatigue from MS, a mysterious gallbladder, the psychology of unexplained weight gain, controllable but uncomfortable reactions to my thyroid medicine, major money problems, the loss of the cat who was "mommy's girl,” and the sweet and affectionate girl we call "the good one” is in surgery as I type. It's been a rough year.

**I'll be reading and catching up this afternon and tomorrow. Look for me in comments!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Astros Not Winning As Corporate Citizens

Early this season I predicted the Houston Astros to win the World Series this year. Now I'm not sure I even want them to play in October.

I still have some issues with the Astros home games right now. When such a huge number of families in the Houston area are homeless right now after the flooding from Harvey’s rain, the baseball stadium is open for business. According to one article I read free tickets to the reopened games were offered to "some displaced families" with thousands of tickets offered for free at nearby shelters. That's the best millionaire and billionaire players/ownership can do? The first place Astros weren't even selling out before the hurricane and record flooding and devastation. People might be more encouraged to support a team that does more to support them in times of trauma and need.

There are so many who lost everything. People in nearby shelters may be wearing donated clothes because they didn't have the ability to grab much before a flash flood swallowed their home. Shelters are filled with people who have no food and last I checked, shelters for flood victims don't have huge parking lots for all those cars. Most of those were under water. Houston's METRO system was greatly affected by flooding too with the entire system shut down for two days and parts slowly opening as flood waters recede and it's no longer too dangerous. Many small and even larger businesses are flood victims too. Why is the large stadium worth billions just throwing some free tickets to nearby shelters?

I'd be happier as a baseball fan, as a former small business owner, as a human being, to see them offering free tickets with concession vouchers and shuttles from those nearby shelters to the stadium. Displaced people really do need a break, some semblance of normal, even a few hours of special, in the midst of what has been lost. Free tickets and a walk with no spending money for food isn't quite enough. If being a good corporate citizen isn't enough and it's necessary to make it good marketing, maybe filling those empty seats with flood victims who are guests of the team may actually fill those seats with paying customers in 2018.

* I'd love this to change or to be proven wrong. Let me know if you discover something new to me!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Happy Solar Eclipse Day!

There will be a total eclipse this afternoon. Here in Toledo we won’t the see the full effect of the total eclipse. The nearest place in the path of totality is between Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee. They’ll be in total darkness briefly this afternoon. We'll be just kind of dark.

A total eclipse is when the moon is close enough to the earth to appear bigger and completely block the sun. In May 1994, it was an annular eclipse that was the last time an eclipse that was visible in Ohio or Michigan, where I was in 1994. For an annular eclipse, the moon is farther. away and appears smaller, so a ring of sun is larger around the moon. Asking my husband about something he knows more about than I do because I'm only interested in when it's a current event, gets you an exasperated sigh like I'm sure I got from my mom in 1973.

When we started talking about the solar eclipse this year I had a memory flash. There was an eclipse on January 4, 1973, just after Christmas break, but the patch where it was visible was in southern South America. But there has been talk about it on the news and my classmates and i were in second grade. I remembered just after lunch, a boy in our class got up and closed all the window blinds so no one would look out at the eclipse and go blind. It seemed like s nice thing to me at 7, to protect the whole class from the eclipse seen in South America.

A good test for checking your eclipse glasses is look at a florescent light with your glasses on. If you can't see the light, The sun won’t blind you. If you’re in an area where you can see the eclipse, experience with care and enjoy!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

But Now My Kitty Sunshine's Gone Away

Alexis Kaline Patch

50 ended with tears. We said goodbye to our Kaline, just a couple weeks before her. 12th birthday.

Early in June she was taken to the vet to look at her because of severe weight loss in a very short time. It was then, on June 8, that she was diagnosed with kidney failure, something that there is not a cure for in cats. It's also something that is, while not common, it's not uncommon in house cats. Her vet told us it may be months, it may be years, but there is nothing that could be done to reverse the damage.

I prayed that she'd have years, but she lost 25% of her body weight in about a month. David got prescription food and I made cat-recipe chicken broth to try to get her to drink more. She did eat the food, but just a little each day, and wasn't even interested in the chicken meat, let alone the broth. She still cuddled and purred with me and crawled on David's hip for morning scritches, but she was still losing weight and seemed to be slowing down. Last week she was struggling to get up on the furniture or the cedar chest to look out the front window. She was spending most of her.time in the sunny spot in the upstairs hall – it had always been one of her favorite places.

For the last couple of weeks, when I sang the song I always do when I'm giving evening treats, she still came running down with Carla and Marco, but she became even more finicky than usual, only eating her favorites. Then this past week she'd run down but just watch the treats tossed and her brother and sister eat them. When it had been a couple of days since she'd eaten and David gave her a bowl of moist food with lots of gravy, which she loved, she looked at it, put her tongue on it for a test, and then shook her head and walked away. That really was the sign we had to accept. It seemed like she was only holding on for us. Her once shining coat on her strong body was just hanging off pretty much her skeleton.

David came home from work early Thursday. Uncharacteristically Kaline came downstairs as soon as he came in. She halfheartedly struggled when he put her in the carrier and when she was in the carrier she gave three scratches at the floor where her usual was she try to dig herself out for a while. There was meowing but not as robust as usual. We were about to take the longest and most painful ride we've ever made to the vet. You see, when it's been the final ride with our cats before we didn't know that was the last trip ahead of time. Even with Baggle, we knew he was sick and that day was coming, but we didn't know that was that day when we left home. For Kaline we knew.

Cats purr when they are happy and content or when they are nervous and afraid. We both cried a lot during the last couple months and even more during that ride to the vets office on Thursday. We were in what was set up to be the crying room at the vet's office, lots of seats around the exam table and the feel of a room at a funeral home with a box of tissues on the windowsill. Kaline purred while we pet her. She sat on my chest, the "cat shelf" she discovered as a kitten and never accepted that she'd outgrown, one last time. When the vet's assistant came in for us to sign paperwork, she was teared up too. The job and the crying pet parents never gets easy, even for the people who do it professionally.

After she stopped purring and her labored breaths stopped, we left the office. We stopped at the desk to let them know the tissue box was empty.

On the way home David noted that it was sunny out. Unsuccessfully choking back tears I said "That's because there's no more…" and broke into an uncontrolled loud sob. He said he didn't understand what I said but then said, "I think I know what you said” and joined me in more tears. I tried to say "kitty sunshine" again unsuccessfully. I sang "You Are My Sunshine" with the kitty sunshine customized lyrics to her since she was a kitten. I couldn't sing that song since her diagnosis because the last line, "please don't take my kitty sunshine away" was just too painful to sing to her.

There will be more tears for a few days that will fade from tears into happy memories. But right now her song is over and I just wish it had been a more extended cut.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Nani At 50 (for a few more weeks)

I said I was going to expound on the Nani at 50 pages. When I turned 50 I decided to create a logo and during my 50th year, technically it's during my 51st year, but before I turn 51 I would do a few pages documenting what my world was like when I was 50 years old.

Here are few of the pages I've done.

The last page in this set, which I'll do later this month, we'll be “New things since turning 50.”

Thursday, July 6, 2017

My Mouse, My Friend

For the past two months I've kept up, and then some, with my page-a-day scrapbooking goal. Now, almost a week into July I haven't scrapped one page. I actually have three pages started in Photoshop on my computer, but right now I can neither finish them nor start any new ones. My old faithful, wonderful, comfortable mouse really is dead this time.

The Logitech Bluetooth mouse has been good to me. I often go through mice, mouses… What's the plural of a computer mouse? Anyway I go through them like a serious coffee drinker with MS hands goes through mice… mouses. The mouse pictured has been with me since September 2015. Aside from other regular mousing duties, it faced many battles that usually kill the modern-day mouse. This mouse sat on the table when spilled water surrounded it. I dried it and shook it off. Of course it didn't work. But that was before dinner. After dinner it worked just fine. There was the time I reached over to grab the mouse and it slipped out of my hand and fell in a bowl of salsa. I cleaned it off, opened the battery compartment and got the salsa off the batteries. I was sure it was dead that time. But then I turned it back on and the pointer started moving just like it's supposed to.

Last year in October I grabbed and dropped it. The mouse took a bath in a cup of coffee. Stupid slippery MS hands. Well totally immersed in a cup of coffee was undoubtedly the end. I wrapped up the mouse in paper towel and ordered a new Bluetooth mouse from Amazon. I used an old wireless mouse that I had that wasn't Bluetooth so there was a receiver that took up one of the 2 USB ports on my computer. I back things up on two hard drives and if I have anything on a disk I need to have a port for that drive too, so I'm kind of Bluetooth spoiled on my mouse. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime, two days later I had a new mouse. And the new mouse wouldn't communicate with my computer! It wouldn't show up on the available Bluetooth devices for my tablet or David's computer either! But you know I did show up? “Logitech laser mouse” yelling “not dead yet!" in beautiful binary zeros and ones!

So this mouse was a stud, invincible! A mouse that could withstand all that, even getting dunked in a cup of coffee? Coffee has killed so many electronic devices in my life that I am on the floor praising this mouse for its impervious power. Imagine my shock on the Fourth of July when I opened the computer to make a July “Nani at 50” scrapbook page. I grabbed my good old mouse and nothing happened. The pointer on the screen didn't move I dragged my finger across the pad in the middle of the keyboard and the pointer moved, it did everything my finger told it to. I checked the Bluetooth connection and couldn't locate my mouse. My mouse didn't show up in the available Bluetooth Devices for my iPad either. It's gone! Oh no, it's really gone!

This time I wasn’t able to locate the receiver for the wireless mouse so I haven’t been scrapping for a few days. I think I'm going through withdrawal. The new mouse is due today so David will probably be bringing it in after work. I think I might scrap a little tonight.

I'll be back tomorrow to talk a little bit about the “Nani at 50” pages.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Five Years Ago…

On June 29, 2012

A derecho, Spanish for ”Straight," is a weather event. It’s a long-lived straight-line windstorm associated with a fast-moving group of thunderstorms. There was a nasty derecho in Indiana moving east in the afternoon getting to the Atlantic coast around midnight. The fast-moving storm hit Ohio not too long after its hurricane-like winds left destruction in Indiana. Because of the nature of how derechos develop, they are hard to forecast and often strike with little advance warning. The June 29 derecho in 2012 did a lot of damage and knocked out power in many parts of Ohio, including Putnam County.

David and I had been photographing the barns painted with Ohio logos for the state bicentennial in 2003 together since I moved to Ohio in 2007. We'd just seen and photographed Putnam County’s barn on May 20. When we drove through that area again on July 23, I recognized the spot inhabited by the remnants of a barn. There wasn't a trace of the large Bicentennial logo in the rubble.

May 20, 2012

July 23, 2012

On the local weather at noon it was reiterated that today is an alert day for weather. It's been very cool and today it jumped back into seasonably hot. It's the type of day when atmospherics are right to create some nasty storms. Or not; the wonderful reality of summer storms is that even when conditions are right it doesn't mean things are actually going to happen, but they might happen worse than expected. I think a derecho might be worse than the tornado in that it's harder to forecast and it's certainly seems to be something they can't forecast as soon. A derecho also spans a larger area for a much more sustained time. Of course tornadoes have the wind speed and the twist making it much harder for there to be aboveground structures that can withstand them.

I do enjoy watching a summer storm. I remember occasional afternoons when I worked at the cable company that I would sit on the ledge of the open receiving door with a cup of coffee with our engineer and interns to just watch the summer thunderstorms. Hey, we liked watching the storms and when the nasty ones came in we couldn't use any of the electric equipment. It was nice break.

So enjoy the warm sun, beaches, baseball, picnics and beautiful green blue of summer, but don't forget that mother nature’s glorious summer mood can turn on a dime and when it does stay safely out of her way.

Friday, June 2, 2017

A Carnival Fights Blog-Block

I’ve been in a writing funk lately. I'm going to try write my way out of it. We’ll see if it works.

Today's been a pretty good day. It's Carnival weekend at the church kitty corner from us. I asked my aide to crack open the window on the side of the house so I can hear the carnival. I hope that doesn't sound pathetic, it shouldn’t. I'm not disabled and hearing the sounds of fun I can't have. The truth is I find this sounds to be inspiring. I've always loved listening to the rides and people laughing and having fun. When I used to go to the park and walk every day the absolute greatest day was when it was just warm enough for moms to bring out their kids to play in the playground. It made me even more relaxed and happy to hear the sound of the kids outside having fun. This carnival weekend has been awesome for that reason ever since I moved into this house, 10 years ago. I've never actually been to that carnival. I’ve never really been a carnival goer as an adult. But I love the sounds of crowds of people having fun. So right now the setting sun is shining in my window and over me, I'm toggling the TV remote between three baseball games, and the fresh smell of outside with the sound of two crazy rides that I can see through the window make it a pretty great evening.

The Reds game tonight against Atlanta, is the first game since the off-season trade that Brandon Phillips has been back in Cincinnati. In the top of the first inning, his first at bat, Reds fans gave him a standing ovation. Bronson Arroyo stepped off the pitching mound to allow Phillips an opportunity to step back from the plate, take off his hat and salute the crowd. After 11 years with the Reds, Phillips’ contract gave him the right to say “no” to any trade the team considered. He used that right a couple of times, but the only team I'm sure he would've said ”yes” to would've been Atlanta, to go home. I admitted I choked up a little watching the whole thing; the welcoming ovation, Arroyo’s gesture, Brandon acknowledging the crowd and the fact that both pitcher and hitter we're visibly moved.

Maybe the carnival is helpful. The biggest problem that I've had when I've been writing lately is that when I start writing and I think I'm writing for the blog, I start getting very negative and very hostile, so it just ends up being writing that I put my personal journal. Remember that I write to get negative feelings out and put away. So I have enough things that are bugging me right now that everything I write turns into a page or two of grumbling and ranting. Even my scrapbooked daily blurbs have sometimes turned into a page long growling sessions that I've had to cut and paste into the personal journal, and write my daily comment shorter or about something else entirely. So I've had some demons that I've been dealing with. I won't say anything more about that lest this turn into another attempted blog that ends up going into the file that will only be opened after I'm gone.

I hope somebody does read it. It's not all negative stuff, though I do think, especially for those that know me, that seeing, understanding, the things that really got under my skin and how I dealt with them is a good thing. But there are fun things too. I put the text from my blogs, comments that I make in different forums, and even silly one liners. I also occasionally address the reader in the things that I write. What's the point in doing that if there's not going to be a reader someday? My scrapbooks and the complete and uncensored Chronicles of Nani will be my legacy. I'd like to be remembered for a generation or two after I'm gone. (smiles)

We celebrated Marco's fourth birthday yesterday. He's the only one of our cats whose birthday we are sure of. Marco and his litter siblings were born in our friend's garage on June 1, 2013. The girls’ birthdays are educated guesses. I'll do a scrapbook page for his birthday and maybe a "Christmas in June" page or two. I'm scrapping June for 2017 but December for every other year right now. Yes, that means I'm finishing books now! More details on that soon.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

These Hands

A little poetic and a lot of positive memoirs on a rainy day.

Before MS I accomplished...

I wrote calligraphy. One Christmas I handmade all my cards.

I baked, not just for the holidays. I made peach and apple crisps with fresh-picked fruit. Whenever the mood struck me I'd bake cookies, cakes, brownies... When I lived with my parents there was often treats for breakfast in the morning after an end of the day project.

I played both electric and acoustic guitar. The first song I ever learned in formal lessons was Leaving On A Jet Plane. My favorites to play and sing were Crystal Ball by Styx and Neil Diamond's Play Me. Although it was "cooler" that I played rock and roll electric, especially as a girl in the late 70s and early 80s, I enjoyed my acoustic guitar the most. I was most proud of playing Dust In The Wind.

I wrote and copyrighted 4 songs.

I did crafts with the kids I babysat as a teen and with my nieces in my 30s.

I sewed most of my own wardrobe in the 80s, the costumes for my brother's band, Tempest, and a lot of the costumes my friends and I wore to professional wrestling matches in the late 80s/early 90s.

I cross-stitched a lot of small projects that I gave as gifts and Grandma taught me how to crochet. It took me almost a year to complete, but I finished my first afghan during the Super Bowl in 2003.

Inspired, I hand wrote the notes and production outline to pitch to my program director in one night for the biggest single project I produced in cable tv.

These hands have touched the foot of Jesus on Michelangelo's La Pieta in Rome, dipped in the water at The Fountain of Youth in St Augustine, touched the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as well as the Gulf of Mexico and ałl five Great Lakes. These hands have shaken hands with George Foreman, Gordie Howe, a US Senator, and a Michigan governor, fed babies and held my great grandmother's hands with love even though she no longer knew who I was.

These hands no longer have the strength or finesse they once had but I can't allow myself to rue what they can no longer do. Rather, I make the most of what they can still do while I celebrate what they have done.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Conquering Naniland

I'm going to blog more often again when I can organize myself to be able to use my computer again. I finally have the padding figured out to be able to stay in the current wheelchair without pain. There is a support post for the back of the chair that hits my tailbone in a way that pushes it in and up. Remember, I use a wheelchair because I have little to no movement in my legs and hips, so moving around to relieve the pressure is not an effective "easy fix." Add to that it took a while to identify what point in my body the pain was coming from and what part of the chair was responsible for the pressure.

So now that I know what kind of padding and where I need it, I can spend the day in my chair. Now I have a new problem to solve. The mechanical base necessary to make the chair do what it does makes it too high to fit under a table. That doesn't just mean I'm challenged setting up a computer working area but sitting at a table to sort through papers or bills without things dropping all over the floor or eating a meal present obstacles. I also don't go out much. As much as the chair is supposed to give freedom and mobility, I don't like going places alone anymore. Sitting at a table in a restaurant when I must tilt the chair forward to reach the plate is pretty embarrassing. The humiliation is still there, but it's easier to deal with if I'm not alone.

I started physical therapy on my legs. In the over a year to get the chair including 5 months that I couldn't sit in the old chair that caused my out-turning hips, my legs and hips have become too weak to use a slide board or to stand and pivot. I just started in-home PT with the therapist showing David and the 4 aides that are here most often the exercises so I can do them every day. My immediate goal in the next few months is to be able to use a grab bar to stand for just a little.


I love the ad for the Volkswagen Atlas! It's set to The Birds and The Bees and starts with the Beetle rocking with steamy windows and the young couple upgrading as their family grows after seeing the new cars "rocking." They show you the source of the rocking in the Atlas; a family of five with a dog and squealing happy kids. I think the ad is incredibly sweet.

I've read articles criticizing the use of innuendo or nitpicking that innuendo. Oh please! It's a cute way to show 5 different models of different sizes selling the largest one as a family car. Is it risqué? Um, considering that drugs for erectile dysfunction are on TV in all their "you know you want it" glory and the Go Daddy girls, no, not risqué at all. And as far as nitpicking "logical sense," it's a commercial not a drama. -eye roll-

The Handmaid's Tale

I decided not to put my book reviews on The Chronicles of Nani. I still post my few lines of non-spoiler thoughts with my rating at Good Reads. I'll link to those reviews here if you'd like to read them.

I just finished The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwell. I gave it 5 of 5 stars. You can see my review here: my review

That's a little bit of what's going on in Naniland, a world I must conquer daily. But I do conquer it!

Monday, March 6, 2017

When "New and Improved" Actually Is Improved

I'll be amongst the first to say to be wary when a product is "improved." The worst are "Better Flavor" or "New Recipe, Same Great Taste" what if I liked the flavor the way it was? If the "great taste" is the same, why did the recipe need to change? I admit that, as much as I've always loved the restaurant and they make what I've loved as my favorite sandwich for a long time, I haven't been to Panera since everything on their menu has become "clean." After "cleaning" will my Bacon Turkey Bravo taste "soapy?"

But this is not about the Bacon Turkey Bravo. I do not come to bury Panera's Caesar salad. I don't even know if it's dead. I come to address a greater scare than cleaning my favorite sandwich as an adult. Campbell's messed with my ultimate comfort food since I was a child!

Classic look of Campbell's Chicken and Stars

I don't remember a sniffle or tear that wasn't "cured" with Chicken and Stars soup.as an adult it has always been and still is the soup I go to when I feel the need for something to make me feel warm inside. So imagine when just after I turned 50 the stars were different! Remember, I gave myself permission to be proud of my AARP years and complain about things that used to be better. This would be an easy thing to complain about being bad because it changed. But, we'll...

The new stars in Campbell's Chicken and Stars

Instead of the solid little stars of my first half century, the stars are bigger hollow stars. Well, they look more like stars and you can actually chew them. The old little stars just kinda slipped down my throat. It could have been a trainer for taking grown-up pills, to swallow something whole with liquid. The new stars make the soup a little heartier. It also reduces the choking hazard. But the best part is that so many of the old noodles stuck to the can, pan or bowl! The new hearty noodles ALL come out of the can and are much easier to spoon out of the soup cup; every last one!

Now I think I'm ready to get a Bacon Turkey Bravo, or at least pop open a can of Chicken and Stars for lunch.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Rumor Has It We Won!

Behind Stripes and Spots

Me and Rumor, Toledo area winner 
of the Westminster Dog Show

That's a picture of me, because it's my column, and my pal Rumor. Mommy says it's a picture of alternate fact, whatever. I read a tutorial about making friends with photoshop. I think it's a good first try.

I think Rumor is a great-looking dog and he'd be great to play Domino in the movie! Domino is one of the dogs next door. When Daddy lets me go outside with him and the dogs are out we sniff at each other through the fence. Mommy says "if they get together supervised, they might be friends. If they get together unsupervised, they'd be a Disney movie." I think that would be fun!

Neither one of my friends next door is a German shepherd, but I think one of the dogs should be a big dog for the movie. Rumor would have good star-power for a costar too! I learned a lot about movies after watching Keanu with Mommy and Daddy. Keanu's part was way too small for the star of the movie. The humans who costarred got most of the screen time. I think our movie will be better because dogs are easier to work with than humans. Humans have big egos.

This picture is from the Keanu movie

I'd have to see his current publicity shot to see if he could play me. Some kitten-actors just don't keep "the look." I'm almost 4 and still as adorable as a kitten, so an actor who plays me would still have to have "the look."

Mommy just said something about ego. I already said human egos were bigger than dogs which is why dogs are better to work with. Boy, she reads slow.

So, congratulations to Rumor for being the best dog in the dog show! Now how about being a movie star? I guess I should send Disney an email. I need to tell the dogs next door that we gotta write a script!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Mood Boards

This is my new project this year. I've seen them on Pinterest and I've seen them used for the inspiration challenge at Ginger Scraps. I think they are pretty cool to look at on their own too.

Mood Boards are used for many things. They can be digital, done by hand or even done on the corkboard. Grouping things by color can inspire decorating or clothing. A board showing rooms painted in shades on a paint sample with other items can be used to help clients make paint and trim choices in new construction and marketing departments create them to brainstorm

They can also be visual aids for teaching, or an interactive project.

Mood Boards can have a therapeutic use or they can just be an outlet for expression.

It can be a photography display or just pleasant wall decor in an office.

There really are no rules, which is why I'm attracted to them.

This year I plan to scrap at least 2 each month. I haven't decided if the mood boards will be part of my regular scrapbooks or if I'll add them as pages in my annual scrapped diary, aka project 365. Maybe I'll decide they aren't worth printing and I'll just put the images in my personal journal. If a great-grand niece or nephew reads them after I'm gone and sells it, they can use them when they decorate the sets for my homes or offices for the movie. I've been told I write colorful stories and I'm only 50, I still have a good 40+ years to do something movie-worthy!

One oh my Januarys
Credits: #2017 January mini kit by Connie Prince, photos from web; fair use

I did 2 in January. One was fun and encouraging, the other was depressing but a little therapeutic. I think the depressing issue may need to be another art journal. Perhaps for therapeutic use, a board is good for things that just bug me a little. The mood boards are kinda fun so far.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Projects and Goals

Yes, I'm getting off to a slow start this year. But a slow start is better than no start, right? I did some rethinking and re-organizing of my projects and goals this year. Some of them are very similar to the projects that have always been and somethings have been dropped or are new. Without further ado, here are my planned goals and projects for 2017.

Health and Wellness

I'm returning to counting food points. Planned full time on February 1. I have a food app on my phone and tablet that figures points like the old Weight Watchers system. When they changed to the new point system, I dropped my membership. Doing the Simply Healthy program for 2 weeks, then the regular points for 2 weeks worked well for me. However, I noticed the system they switched to increased the points for sugars and starches and other things that seemed like it was steering more toward weight loss/maintenance to ward off diabetes. That's fine, my mom was a Type 2 diabetic and weight, carbohydrate consumption and/or genetics contribute to that disease which has become more commonly diagnosed. With the many things wrong with me, my blood sugar is one of the things that has always been consistently spot-on. I'm sticking with the program that works for me, as long as I'm doing well, rather than changing how I nourish myself to treat something I don't have.

In the next couple of weeks parts will be here to repair the lift recliner that I spend most of my time in. That time includes using a board across the arm rests as a table to use the computer. Right now I can't sit straight up in it which makes working on the computer painful after a while. That makes scrapbooking and blogging difficult. I'm behind where I want to be with both this month. When the repair is done I'll be physically and mentally in much better shape to have my creative mojo. With my creative abilities working go I'll be able to blog more often and scrapbook more often

I'll be getting together with my doctor this week to get physical therapy started. The object is to concentrate on my legs to strengthen my hips. It's not going to mean I'll walk again, but it may mean some increased movement and I can exercise again. My big goal with exercises to strengthen my legs is really to just be able to hold the grab bar in the bathroom and just stand for a couple of minutes.


I'm sticking with the page-a-day goal. I haven't reached that goal the last two years, but I'm still on track to finish all of my scrapbooks by the end of the year! My idea of doing the current month for all the years I had to catch up worked well. I finished 2008 last year. I only have December for 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2016, 2010 has been done for a while and the rest of the years start in October or November.

I'm proud to say that by doing Project 365 as a diary-style scrapbook, focusing on brief journaling every day, has been a success! I've finished every year since 2014. As for the scrapped pages for 2017, I just finished week 3, so I'm still holding strong this year. Truthfully, I really enjoy the daily and weekly expression and it makes it easy to keep up.

I'm also planning to do a few mood boards each month. I'll post a blog about what mood boards are and what they do in a few days. They fill so many purposes and several areas that I think have potential to be very constructive for me. I'm not exactly sure how I'll organize this project yet, but I have done two of them so far.


Last year I had a personal goal of being more aware of current events and national and world news. I overdid it. The world outside of my backyard is ugly and it's getting worse. Personally the worst part is that I believe we are one of the bad guys. It makes me sad and afraid. This year I'm going to try to stay more uninformed. It's safer for me emotionally; I want to smile again.

I didn't read anywhere near enough books last year. Part of it was from reading too much news, but part of it was not getting out enough. I do a lot of reading while waiting. I read while waiting for the bus or waiting for the doctor. I also read a lot when I go out for lunch on my own. The new wheelchair doesn't fit under most restaurant tables so I tend to stay home. I may consider more out for coffee options once the weather is more conducive for me to be out more.

I access both my Nook and Kindle libraries with my iPad. I have 16 books downloaded on the Kindle app and 11 on the Nook for a total of 27 books. I want to read at least half of them this year. That and at least trying to read less news is my reading goal.


I really hope to find a customer service job to earn enough to pay for those aides. Insurance doesn't cover home help and it's not really an option because there are just too many essential things, getting cleaned, dressed, housekeeping that I can't do without help. Right now I'm okay, but in a year my retirement savings will be gone. If I can pay my aides, regular monthly bills and medical copays so I can leave what's left of my investments alone, that would be great. I don't know if there's an honest work from home job that pays that much or if my MS compromised nervous system has the energy to do it, but I really do have to try. Vocational rehabilitation says they can help because MS is a recognized disability. I just need a letter from my doctor saying what kind of work I can do and how many hours a week I can work. Maybe I still have some Type-A magic left in my tank!

With a heavy and anxious optimism fighting hard to keep me afloat, as always
this, or something better.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Creative Process

I've been doing my Project 365 as a scrapbooked diary for a few years now. I do the layouts with the daily journal entries and an assortment of photos, clip art, memes, cartoons and scrapbook elements. NFL playoff scores in early 2015 was the first appearance of the character I knew in my mind as "the Foxborough Fox." The fox was included three times in 2015 by the Pats' post season scores finishing sitting on a football near a “We’re #1” banner and the Super Bowl score.

As the Patriots started into the playoffs last January the Fox was back with the Patriots scores. I decided to have some fun with New England promotional items from the web. In one of those 2016 playoff results pics he's holding a Tom Brady doll and his name changed and his identity formed. He became Brady the Patriots fan and the image of a boy under ten years old. Giving him a personality gave me direction for molding him to be more than just a logo element. The Foxborough Fox was the same expression holding a Patriots sign. Brady is a superfan with all of his football fan stuff and the exuberance and team loyalty of a child.

I'll make a note of a couple things at this point. First off I'm creative and artistic but a different kind of creative and artistic than someone who sets pencil to paper and draws cute animals. My dad would always draw horses when I was a kid. It was just something he doodled. Every time I tried to draw a horse it looked like a dinosaur. I've been doing creative things for a half a century now and if I i try to draw a horse it still looks like a dinosaur… like a five-year-old trying to draw a horse, dinosaur. But I do well manipulating images. The Foxborough Fox is an element from a kit called Falling 4 U by Keystone Scraps.

The other thing is that I absolutely adore is watching young kids at sporting events and the unconditional love and loyalty they have for their favorite teams and players. So it's not a surprise that I would find an element that I really like and start manipulating that to turn it into it the character of an eight-year-old boy.

As this your started, I made the conscious decision to follow my #2 sport more closely and was therefore, even as the baseball season was ending, making a point of paying attention to MY favorite two teams. Brady was going to present both the Patriots and Lions scores every week. I started thinking, or may be overthinking but that's what I do, that Brady needed a buddy to watch football with and maybe it would be a good idea if his buddy was a Lions fan. So the search for Brady's best friend began. I found Brady’s BFF in At The Zoo by Mags Graphics.

As the season went on the characters developed, their friendship developed and the entire story of Brady and Ford formed and is still forming. For me it's just fun. “Knowing” the story of the week adds to creating the scrapbook vignette.

Brady and Ford are eight-year-olds in Toledo. They are 3rd graders in the Toledo Public School system. They live in the same neighborhood, just a few houses apart and are best friends.

Brady is an only child. His parents were originally from New England and they moved to Toledo when Brady's mom had a great job offer. Brady's whole family are Patriots fans and they get the NFL Sunday Ticket so they can see the Patriots games every week. Ford and Brady watch football games together at one of their houses. They often go to Ford’s house for the Lions games and Brady's house for the Patriots games.

Ford's dad works in Michigan and his mom works part time but she’s home in the afternoon when Ford gets home from school. The boys spend weekday afternoons at Ford's house. Ford has a big brother in college and a high school senior sister but, "she doesn't like football so she doesn't matter anyway."

That's pretty much the whole story right now. It grows as it needs to for the single frame cartoons with the football scores. David helped me develop Ford's family with Ford being his parents pleasant surprise baby. This came from a discussion that we had because he was surprised that my characters went to Toledo Public Schools. But they had to go to TPS because it was snowing on the Sunday that the network decided they weren't going to show the Lions game. I needed a reason for a snow sculpture. LOL

Week 16 was great fun for Brady who watched the game with his cousins when they were back East for the holidays.

It was a little rougher for Ford. No school meant he got to stay up to watch Monday Night Football but the Lions lost.

The creative process can be a never ending source of imagination and fun!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

It's 2017

I got out of the house yesterday and went to Dayton with David and Mike for BORTrail. There were many great train shows, including David's, his first sound show since 2012. He's been showing pictures and talking about them for the last few years. In 2012 I edited the music video on Stupid, my old Windows computer, using the software that's considered raIlfan standard.

The problem with raIlfan standard video software is the average raIlfan concentrates on taking good photos. The show software is easy to use but not exact. But I am a former video professional. I can't help the fact that I see tiny mistakes in video production and "good enough" is just not enough for me. The accepted software can edit deceptively exact, but the file plays differently in every computer. That means the show I was up all night to perfect in 2012 played with the photos and music out of sync. Regardless of what anyone else noticed, I was totally embarrassed. It was simple enough software that I told David I'd show him how to use it, but I would never edit with it again. I was looking for a good Windows movie maker that I could make a finished program and save it as a complete movie file. Well, the past 4 years have been pretty involved in a not so great way for me. I've been a little too busy to search for new software.

David and Mike grabbing a last of the year train pic on the way the BORTrail.

Fast forward to last week. As of September 2015, I'm a Mac-girl again! The MacBook Pro came with iMovie already on it. That's the software that I used professionally when I had my own business back in 2004. There hasn't been anything that I needed to do a music show for so I hadn't used it. The latest and greatest updated version at the time that I bought the MacBook Pro has been updated since 11 years prior so there were a lot of things that I had to learn and get comfortable with the new features and new interface. After a few screams and grumbles I was able to do the editing and even enjoy putting together David's music bed and show. I daresay I was even proud to be in the credits as the editor.

So between train shows, getting to watch a show that I edited and spending the afternoon and evening with men and women I truly enjoy being with and have terribly missed it was a pretty great ending to the year.

Today I'm wrapping up the last of my 2016 and getting ready to start 2017. That's probably going to take a couple days but it usually does. I just usually start that closing one year and starting the next at the end of the previous year not at the beginning of the next year. But after the way I started 2013, I will always remind myself that it beats starting the year in the hospital.

Welcome to 2017! There's gonna be more to come soon including my goals and projects for the year, some new ideas and the first freebie of the year. Stay tuned