Welcome to my coffee shop in the cyber neighborhood!

Welcome to my cyber neighborhood coffee shop! Grab a mug of your favorite beverage and a cozy chair to read and comment a bit. Be sure to try a piece of black forest cake or tiramisu. Try both; cyber-cake is calorie free!

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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...


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!