Tag Archives: life changes

It was Time for a Change…


Wait! It’s not PURPLE! So how can it be my blog?

I got very tired of the ribbons in my last WP theme covering my gravatar and anything else they pleased. The default font was wonky and made my sidebar look like pulled taffy.

I saw custom design and name your own domain packages, thought about site hosting, and looked at most of the fonts on type kit. Am I going to start a stand-alone eCommerce extravaganza to sell Nik’s photos and my junk? Do I want to spend hours messing with CSS and shopping carts and lay-out strategies? Am I going to waste money buying into the custom design “make all your own fancy fonts” thing?

No. Yawn. Next…

I’m more interested in saving money for a new travel adventure. Wanna go on another trip.  Or 2. Or more! Rome was just the beginning…

Have new doggeh to love on, too. Disa, the beautiful Finnish Lapphund who has blessed our lives!

I know the day is looming nearer when I’ll have to get all serious about my online sales again. Nik needs business experience and exposure for his art. I need to sell the vintage junk, uh, lovelies overflowing my house. Creativity must occur. Creativity must occur.



AHHKKK!                       PZZZTTTT….

That was the sound of my brain shorting out.

We sprang forward today. There’s one less hour in the day and it’s almost gone…

So in the interest of time and abating a bit of my frustration, there’s a new theme. Pretty paisley, unadorned by any tweaks, headers or customizations.

And I still missed the end of the day. It’s tomorrow already…

Here are some more pics of Disa… Enjoy!


All Your Allergies are Belong to Me!


Some things in my life are just WRONG.

My newest wrong things:

Risking my life to go grocery shopping. Risking my life to eat in a restaurant. Risking my life to eat.

These are in addition to a few other major wrongs already in place:

Risking my life if I every need medication for severe pain. Having allergies to almost all drugs in several major therapeutic classifications. Being desperately allergic to two of the main components of my Korean friends & Won-Buddhist priests’ diet.  Never knowing from one day to the next if I will be able to function due to uncertainty of energy  and pain levels. Being so responsive to changes in weather I’d have been burned at the stake as a weather witch in less enlightened times. Paying for increased activity or hill climbing with yet more pain.

 I want to whine…

However, in an attempt to keep things in perspective, I want to go through positive ways I’ve been able to deal with my older issues…   (my ex-therapist would be SO proud)

I, of course, will continue to deal with all this wrongness, and even figure out how to turn even my current frustrations into something helpful for someone. Plus, I have a lovely sister-in-law whose food allergies are much, much worse than mine, so I have a great appreciation of how much worse things could be…

My physical therapist Joe   has taught me an enormous amount about controlling my pain levels. I no longer work,  which gives me much more flexibility to not leave the house on certain days if all the lows converge. My house angel, Lorraine, comes in 2-3 days a week to do the basic housework I simply can’t do, thus allowing us to have a clean kitchen, clean clothes, clean sheets and clean bathrooms!  I stopped selling on-line because I was overwhelmed with stuff and time obligations.

Changing my diet over the last year has allowed me to lose almost 60 pounds and increase my general energy level. Lorraine has helped me get rid of a huge amount of accumulated “stuff” and has organized a lot of what I’m keeping. My fabric room is functional and we can actually allow people to sleep in one spare bedroom. Much of my parent’s boxes have been unpacked and sorted, so plenty of room has been opened up in the garage.  We adopted a smaller dog so I can walk her without causing myself significant pain. ( wonderful beautiful Disa is another story).

My biggest challenge over the last year was planning and getting into shape for my European vacation.  I did it. Spent 5 weeks in Italy and Paris with a 15 yo boy, my Nik… and totally survived.

Decided to put my foot down and buy an artificial Christmas tree , so I could spend my limited energy making ornaments   & decorations.   All my kids were home over the holidays and we had lots of fun.

Hey! Those are significant positives!

I don’t feel like whining nearly as much. So I won’t. I’ll just tell the story of my new wrongnesses – which, unfortunately, seem to have resulted from my positivenesses!

Early in July,  I decided to go gluten free, in addition to other changes I’d made in my diet earlier in the year, which included giving up red meat. Nuri has Celiac Disease; odds are I have some sort of related gene. Within 2 weeks, I noticed my brain was clearer & I was remembering things I’d had problems with most of my life (names, mostly). Yay! Goodness!!

BUT I also started having reactions associated with grocery stores –  Costco and Whole Foods. If I spent much time in the bakery section, I’d start to itch.  One day, I spent a bunch of time looking at the wine, which is in the bakery section of Costco for some reason that evades me… I started itching. It starts at the tip of my nose, moves to my ears, eyes – and this day, by the time I was finished shopping, my feet itched. Now, I’m familiar with this reaction –  it happens when I’m around rodent urine proteins or cooking seaweed. (yeah, more  “interesting” allergies). Noooo!  Wrongness!

A little detective work, a little time – I’m allergic to wheat & gluten. Allergic. That’s not celiac disease. That’s “eat it and my tongue swells, my throat closes & swallowing &  breathing become problems” allergic.  Also pecans. Why Pecans, for heaven’s sake?  Diphenhydramine is my friend.

I’ve become so sensitive to even cross-contamination, my tongue starts burning with the first bite. Lovely.

I noticed it was MUCH easier to eat in Italy and France without having a reaction to something. Even though Nik and I ate out almost every day, I only had reactions a couple of times – and that was when I didn’t ask specifically about things being gluten free (teach me to make assumptions).  I figured it was because things were prepared fresher and on a more individual basis. Ham & chicken were OK for me, as was any type of fish. I didn’t think about a much more important factor in European food until I started to have reactions to meat when I returned home.

Meat. Damn. I don’t eat that much meat, anyway. It was nice, though, to be able to eat some of my mother-in-law’s roast or turkey when we go to visit – it makes her happy! More experimentation. Not able to eat meat from American grain-fed mammals. No farm-raised fish. No grain fed chicken. Eggs only from vegetarian free-range chickens fed organic  non-GMO feed. Hmmm… A few other weirdnesses popped up, but all lead me to the same conclusion…

It’s not just the stupid dwarf  “super-wheat” that I’m allergic to. It’s some part of the protein coded for in Genetically Modified Organisms.

What???? Who’s ever heard of THAT? Turns out, a lot more people than you’d think.

Guess the Europeans got it right when they banned GMOs.

So for now, I’ll stick to prosciutto from Italy, my favorite French preserves, pasture-raised, grass (and coconut) fed beasts, wild-caught fish – and only organic, non-GMO gluten-free products.  I usually carry food with me so I rarely eat out and have been able to restrict my diet to things I know won’t kill me. (boring!) Greek yogurt and gluten-free steel-cut oats are my friends!

Meanwhile, all your allergies are belong to me!


All illustrations are by me, the great and awesome Dragonmum. Creative Commons will eat you if you steal them!!

Life is gonna change. A lot. Again.


It’s been a rough few weeks. Not so good health & pain-wise. Cycle of over-doing, paying for it, repeat. Spent a whole week recovering from the jaw spasms I got after spending 2 hours trying to get some information from an insurance company for a patient. Brain doesn’t work so well when I’m exhausted & in pain.

So, I’ve decided to put my medical license on inactive the end of this month. Besides the physical toll my practice has taken, my medications & brain insults from chemo, meds, concussion etc add up to my brain not being as sharp as before. Scares me. When I’m really tired, I lose words. I’m not going to be responsible for making a mistake on someone’s prescription or anything else that could have adverse consequences.

I’m glad I’ve already gotten rid of most of the work. there were days I was completely wiped out. The migraine I got after the Blue Cross/Blue Shield day of the complete run-around was a real day-killer. Luckily I could spend the day resting. Wouldn’t have been able to do this before.

Another advantage of my lowered stress levels – the return of some artistic creativity. Something besides finding funny gifs for my blog, I mean! I made some great mixed media bookmarks, cards & boxes for our  temple’s annual bazaar. OK, I’m tooting my own horn, but they really are lovely.  When I get a little more energy I’ll put up photos.

Because I’ve been down a lot & working on the bazaar project (when I had energy) for the last 2 weeks AND Kat came home for a week of extended fall break, I haven’t been able to tend my on-line business.  I have SO many things I need to list before the Christmas buying season ends – really need them up in the next couple of weeks. My first priority is the group of stuffed toys I listed last year, have photos but when I pulled the listings didn’t think to copy the wording onto notepad… so now I’ve had to weigh and measure each one again! Here’s one of my favorite toys – a lovely custom-made white teddy bear with a gorgeous custom made lined white plush coat with great details:

496 503

That’s what I did this afternoon – after I slept for 2 hours in what was left of the morning/early afternoon when I got up at 11….We had the bazaar yesterday & it really wiped me out.

So – it’s toys, Christmas jewelry & collectibles and then my gorgeous vintage hats. Hats are a new venture for me – I’ve been doing my research; have some great ones, including a couple Mr John Classics. Here’s one of the gorgeous Mr Johns – the green wool felt & veil really complemented Kat’s red hair – I wish I had a photo of  her wearing it!

hats 001 hats 002

My listing hold-up has been finding a good hat head for photographing them. I have that plain styrofoam head & one of my wigs from chemo days. That will probably do if I can make it stand up! It wasn’t made for the weight of a hat, so I need to stabilize the bottom. Some of these hats weigh a couple of pounds – Yeah! Really! I can’t believe women actually wore some of these things…

Got some more vintage ties too. This time most of them are really pretty – including a batch of wool ties from Scotland, Ireland & England. Those should be great for the Northern winters. Nobody around here in NC would even think of wearing a wool tie!

Life goes on. Nik and i were able to make it back to 2 SCA meetings!! YAY!! I had Nik do some research on Aristophanes. I was inspired by Tony Blair mentioning “cloud cuckoo land” in a speech before Parlement. Nik found out about “The Birds” & the political climate in Athens at the time as well as the format of Greek “comedies”. All by himself except for a discussion at the end of the day when we discussed what he’d found. He’s such a great kid!

Yesterday he was explaining a moss bonsai to a lady at the bazaar. He mentioned he’d been studying moss recently and she wanted to know where he was doing that. She was probably thinking which school class. He simply explained he was home schooled & decided to see if he could grow moss under out back deck to prevent erosion – studying which grew best, what growing conditions were ideal, which propagated itself most freely etc. Think it scared the heck out of her to hear this coming from the mouth of a young teenager.

Unschooling or “child led education” is working extremely well with Nik. He’s interested in so many things that he’s providing himself a liberal arts education! Did I mention he is studying classical painting & has Thomas Constable as his current favorite? We’re working on his writing problem with his blog. Slowly, he’s increasing the amount he’s writing and decreasing the amount of whining. Eventually he will learn to write a research paper; I’m content with him finishing most of Algebra 2 and being ready to start on Trig. If he were in the 8th grade (as he would be), he’d never have even heard of a Greek play….

Life is changing. A lot. Again. Always something new to do, to learn & to discover. I guess I’ll roll with it 😀

Texting & Facebook & Twitter OH MY!


OK, I’ve done it. Have a facebook page. Opened a twitter account. Sigh. Dragged into the 21st century by friends, The Vintage Village and the need for any one who wants their on-line business to flourish to be socially networked.  So sad. I now have FB & Twitter links on the side-bar… ARRGGHHH!!!  Now I’m connected to the whole world and they all know my name. Hubby wouldn’t like it if he knew. Since he doesn’t care or want to know anything I’m doing on-line, guess I’m safe.

Meanwhile, I’ve been listing even more fun summer jewelry on Dragonmum’s Vintage Valuables.  Here are some of the colorful pieces:

These little enamel monkeys are some of the funniest earrings I’ve ever seen. The seashells have screw-backs; they were my mother’s.

I love these sparkly orange molded clips. This colorful shell necklace actually coordinates with them.

Here is another necklace & earrings that coordinate well…

These fish would also go with that necklace swimmingly well!

And here are some pretties for the 4th of July spirit.

Also, don’t forget the ugly ties on Dragonmum’s Wears. All the guys on KNOTs ( Kollectors of Nasty Old Ties) need to know – these are real “ugly beauties”! Go figure. People will collect almost anything….

I hope they collect mine!!

Taking it Easy or Working Too Hard?


Which is it? Ha! 

I decided to skip the hospital horror stories….

and write about the here & now….

After surgery, you’d think – Oh, she’s taking it easy. She’s being taken care of.  People are letting her lay on the couch and waiting on her. Ain’t so. Especially that being taken care of part.  So I have to balance what I have to do for myself with what I can without hurting myself.

I’m having a really hard time grasping how debilitated I am. Having your abdomen slit open and  surgeons muck around in your guts is a rather traumatic experience. I finally realized why I’ve just not cognitively getting just how traumatic it was.

See, I had breast cancer surgery 5+ years ago. I had double mastectomies and a type of reconstruction called TRAM at the same time. They take the top group of your “6-pack” and move it up where your boob tissue was. Problem is, the skin that is over that area is cut out and they have to stretch the remaining skin down. This would leave your abdomen pretty weak if they didn’t put in a strong mesh fabric to give it support. That’s great; works well. The downside (besides the really horrendous  but well-worth-it recovery) is the nerves are all cut too, so there’s no sensation in the skin layers of my abdomen.

“Great!” you might think. So that big ol’ slash doesn’t hurt. I’m grateful because I’m dreadfully allergic to all the strong pain meds. My heating pad & acetaminophen are my best friends. However, I’ve discovered the big problem.  Pain can be our friend. It lets us know when we are doing something that might damage our body. It lets us know when we’re doing too much. It’s our early warning system.  Get the picture?

No pain at the incision site – no “hey dummy,  time to stop now”. Plus my ADHD meds give me more energy, so when the crash comes, it really comes. Then I’m totally exhausted  & the place where they actually cut into my abdominal cavity is having something to say about my over-activity.

So, by the school of hard knocks  (hard heads?), I’ve figured out about how much activity I can handle. I made it worse by initially not realizing what I was doing. Took me awhile to figure out that even sitting in my office chair for 3 hours isn’t such a good thing. Somehow the way I move around really irritates my belly. The result? Lots of time on the couch. Sleeping late. Not taking my stimulants so I’m not tempted to keep going even further beyond my capacity.

This all sucks. Not so much because I have to lay around. Heck no. It’s because, amazingly, after the surgery a lot of my other aches and pains have evaporated. Joe, my PT god, thinks it’s because I probably had an infection brewing there for months causing even more problems than I had to begin with. Plus, my mental energy level has suddenly improved.  I’m interested in things. I’ve started to read again. I want to do projects. This is amazing!!

I’ll see. Maybe all this laying around will help heal more than just my belly.  It maybe just the thing my knotted and sore muscles need to reset themselves. That would be tremendous. I haven’t been myself, or what I think of as “myself” for a long time. It also has confirmed to me the wisdom of closing my practice. There is so much more I can do to nurture myself & my family without the constant need to nurture patients too.

Yesterday I had the privilege of a visit from an old friend.  She had felt compelled to come see me; she didn’t know about my very recent problems, but just had that 6th sense something wasn’t right. She is an incredibly centered mindful person & has offered to be my wellness coach. To help me get my life into a very healthy place physically, mentally & spiritually.

Everything happens for a reason. What a wonderful gift; it couldn’t have come at a better time. Wonderful but scary. Change can hurt. Well, I’ve got a pretty high pain tolerance. We’ll see what happens next!

My Parent’s 58th Wedding Anniversary


Today is my parent’s 58th wedding anniversary. They’ve stuck with each other since they were high school sweetheartsCouples in Baltimore MD of the 1940s.  When they married at age 20 (their birthdays are only a month apart!) they had no idea where life would take them.  My father was a “junior” something or other (pre-executive?) at a large oil company.  Mom was at Towson State studying to be a librarian. No accounting for bolts of lightening, but Dad got one – he was called to the ministry.  He’s often said the only way you know it’s a true call is to run away as much as you canPeeking Over Fence – and if it’s real, anyway you go brings you right back to it. (I ken this!!)

Well, his call changed their lives. He had to go to college before he could go to seminary.  They moved to the small Pennsylvania town where Gettysburg College and the Lutheran seminary are both located.  Dad finished his BA in 3 years even with a rigorous academic load.Writing … Mom supported them by working – surprise – in the town library.Books Unfortunately, she never got a chance to go back to school and finish her degree.  She became “the pastor’s wife”. Dad went on to the Seminary, which definitely wasn’t a piece of cake.  Luckily he’s a brilliant scholar – the academics weren’t much of a problem.

As the seminarians progress, though, it becomes clear that this isn’t a “job”, it’s a life.  A life of service. A becoming, not a doing. A Pastor is what you are, not what you do. (Like a true doctor, but that’s several other blog entries…). Mom and Dad saw that this was their life – especially during the year of internship living out in southern Maryland with cowsMad Cow in their backyard! They must have been OK with it, ’cause that’s what they did. Had their first baby 10 years after they got married (me) and my bro a couple years later.  (I really didn’t mean to make Mom drop him on his head!!Shy Whistler

One part of the Ministry is moving.  Dad was somewhat of a trouble shooter – his strength was going into congregations that had had some extremely divisive events (like the pastor who wife-swapped with another couple in the church)Eyes Poppin That meant we moved. Not a lot compared to military families, but the longest I lived anywhere was 7 years.  OK, so I only lived 5 different places.  Sometimes it was a relief to move!!

The last church Dad had was in south Florida.  They had looked there because they thought it would be good for my Mom’s arthritis and headaches.  Kinda worked.  Arthritis better; HAs? They lived a mile from the ocean, and most of the time the breeze made her face hurt.  She’s not one for much complaining. I think there were definitely times she should have complained more! They lived there for 27 years – Dad “retired” there, and then they were able to travel more. Pilot They started right after I finished college and Mom dragged him around the globe for years.  He even got over his fear of flying (mostly, anyhow) Eyebrow

The last move they’ve made is to my house. My Mother’s health has been failing steadily over the last 15 years, and it became quite clear to everyone in the family (except my fatherBlind) that she had a significant dementia – and that he was having a harder and harder time taking care of her.  A couple of falls and a stroke (hers not his) finally got through to him, and he agreed to move up here.  Of course, that meant quite a bit of remodeling to give them living quarters – and ones that were suitable for a totally handicapped wheel-chair bound personWheel Chair. It was clear to me that Mom was headed that way!

The task of designing their space, and most importantly, the bathroom, fell to me.  I have to admit, I did a great job.  I was also blessed to have the most wonderful contractor in the world.  We knew Joe was the one when, on his first visit to the house, my very shy, man avoident dog Doggy LickStar walked right up to him and put her head into his lap.  He was hired!Thumbs Up One of the key features I used to make their space more efficient and accessible was pocket doors. On their sitting room, I used lovely cherry french pocket doors. One place, we had to build a false wall for the door because it was a supporting wall. The bathroom is compact but beautiful.  I got the perfect roll-in shower unit (from a lovely Mom and Pop company), ADA-approved light fixtures, grab bars, roll-under  and accessible sink.  I even found a mirror that tilted down for someone in a wheelchair!

They moved in last spring.  The past year 15 months have been very stressful. DoofusIt’s not easy having your whole life and family routine Babysittingcompletely turned upside-down. Dad still hasn’t accepted how sick Mom is, and he refuses to leave her long enough to actually get a life – which was part of the point of moving up here.  We do have wonderful Home Helpers who come in to clean, cook,Cooking Dinner bathe, and help with changing her undergarments (incontinence sucks).  I’ve managed to simmer down some of the frustration-based yelling T-Rex 2and fussing (all on Dad’s part) Mom is pretty happy and even tempered – gotten sassy too!   Still, Dad fusses about the way we’re raising Wonderboy and how much stuff Hubby and kid leave laying around.  Like I can do anything about that!

So today is their 58th wedding anniversary. Mom didn’t remember how long they’d been married; looked surprised when I said 58 years.  Barbara our home helper angel, made a remark about sticking with Dad for all that time.  Mom said “maybe it’s time to get rid of him!”   Was a funny! Running In FieldThey love each other very much.  Mom acceptsHappy, as she’s always done, the ups and downs, the indignity of having to wear diapers, and other hardships.  Dad is scared.  That she’ll fall, that she’ll die, that she’ll …what? Fear is a horrible way to live. Dad is mostly perfectly healthy (how many 78 yos do you know who only take ONE prescription medication?Pill Bottle??) and it’s gonna be really hard on him when she dies.  Now, if he’d only get a life…

Happy AnniversaryHappy Anniversary Mom and Dad!!Bride & Groom

Mom, Dad and 3 of 5 grandkids!

Mom, Dad and 3 of 5 grandkids!(Wonderboy is the long-haired goofy looking one...)

Our own Saturday morning Sitcom

funny pictures

Selective Y-linked deafness strike again!

What’d ya know? It’s Saturday morning!

I can tell by the raucous noise penetrating the bedroom from downstairs. My boys are watching cartoons. How sweet….a Father-Son bonding experience.

Maybe they think they need to shave off a few IQ points? They never seem to grasp the idea that someone might want to sleep in and/or not start their morning with loud incredibly irritating noise. 

I can tell neither of them has taken his medicine!

I slept way too late (or not late enough, depending on your point of view), then lumbered down the stairs with my usual morning “cheerfulness” (i.e. lack there of). Immediately I am assaulted by a barrage of sound and visual chaos.

How on earth could anyone choose to start their day like this?

Coffee is saving the boys’ lives this morning. The wonderful new coffee I bought at Costco (Wednesday evening, between leaving work at 5 and my 7 pm meeting) is an organic shade grown coffee called Ruta Maya, from a Mexican farmers’ coop. I don’t know how they made it SO smooth, but there is almost no bitterness whatsoever… I was convinced when the demo guy made me a double shot of espresso, I put in some 1/2 & 1/2 + sugar; I couldn’t tell it was espresso! More yummy than a caramel macchiato or any other even mildly concentrated espresso drink I’ve ever tasted: Needless to say, I bought it!

DH makes the morning coffee (for it says in the Bible “Hebrews” ) , but always drinks extra on Saturdays. That’s OK; I really don’t need more than one mug (sniffle BIG SAD FACE )…

Once again, I was thwarted in my effort to get the TV turned off by 11am (much less 11 pm).

Not only did Nik whine that there was still a half an hour left, his father whined too! More Father-Son bonding…

DH seems to think watching TV is some sort of Constitutional right, while I look at it as a tool of Satan. (especially for a family rampant with ADHD)

Nothing like parents approaching an issue from the same point of view.

funny pictures

Looking for the wrong thing!!! Only The bay down there. Sellers all gone!

They’ve now scooted off to their other Saturday play time (they play DreamBlade, an incredibly complicated and time-consuming miniatures game), won’t be back until at least 6.

I’m going to seize the time to work on my on-line listings. I got started on a new site after the Feb. ‘bay Boycott.  A  large number of us fled at that time and needed new selling venues. Bunches of bunches have left since, as the bay keeps getting nastier and nastier (along with Poop Pal, the bay’s evil twin).

Now, gotta get to work – spent way too much time blogging today!!