Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Perfect Desert Dessert

Well, it's 104 outside.  I was out once a little while ago to make sure the birds and 'critters' still had water.  Last night they drank most of their water.  I think in some ways birds and animals are smarter than people.  They knew this heat was coming, even without the benefit of intenet access.  Maybe they saw the sunset last night--it was the pinkest of pink.  Bright neon pink.  Weird.

My two older girls are at a friends house, having gone bowling last night and swimming today.  This gives me a chance to get some work done upstairs, because the twins generally get along without supervision.  The other two girls, well....don't.  There's hope--my sister and I fought constantly when we were growing up, and we're great now.  I've already apologized to my mother.  Several times. lol

So I've been cleaning and packing.  I've been deciding what wouldn't be important to keep, and what would, and what would be critical. Not to worry, I've also made use of some garbage bags--a vital cleaning tool.  Half the challenge seems to be constantly moving the cats out of the way.

I'm thinking that some day we might have to move.  I hope not.  Maybe this will be a blessing in the end--it's motivating me to organize the accumulated years of illness and infants and toddlers.

My parents are giving us money again this week, to pay our mortgage and health insurance and van payment.  And I guess the health insurance will be a necessity soon--Obamacare passed and we wouldn't want the government to fine us for being too poor to afford medical care.  I've read that there's supposed to be a waiver for people who are too poor to get insurance, which I'm just assuming I wouldn't qualify for--because since when have I ever qualified for anything?  But if we did get a waiver, I'm wondering--how would this have helped us?  We'd still be without insurance.

Anyway, my parents are soon going to have exhausted a fund they'd set aside for helping us from time to time.  They're talking about dipping into the money they've saved for our kids' college next.  It's not much, but I'll hate to see it go.  However, the kids need a roof over their heads.

I'm trying to be cheerful.  There isn't any point in letting this get to me if I can help it.

Before my sister reads this and worries, I'll mention my piano playing, since she's been smart enough to notice that if I stop going on about that for long, it means I'm depressed.  I've been torturously working my way through some of Bach's preludes and fugues.  Not sure how beneficial this is for my mental health. lol  Bach just doesn't seem to fit in with the way my brain works, but I enjoy some of his works.  When I play Chopin, everything just makes perfect sense.  Bach, not so much.

Sometimes these days when I catch myself humming to myself while I work, and when I try to figure out which Chopin piece it was I was humming, it turns out to be one of my compositions instead.  It's been happening a lot lately.  My brain thinks my compositions are Chopin's.  It's apparently filed my pieces away in the same folder as his.  If I'm humming somebody else, I know right away it's somebody else.

I'm overseeing chores now--each kid gets two half-hours a day if they don't get lucky and escape to a friend's house or something.  I find myself taking breaks from time to time, but it's pretty comfortable in the house. I've closed the curtain where the sun comes in.  And our enclosed front porch with its wall of windows is covered with honeysuckle--it makes wonderful shade.  From the inside, our porch is lit with green.  We have lots of trees shading us, too.  I started the window AC early this morning, and resolved not to open any door I don't have to.  I told the girls--no baking today.  But we have dessert tonight, because in spite of my decision to buy only important things at the grocery store the other day, I'd decided that ice cream was going to be a necessity if it was going to be 100 degrees.

I read today that we are actually living in a desert climate right now, with the high temps and low humidity.  One great thing about Indiana is the multitude of climates you get to experience.

Well, I've cooled off now--think I'll go play a little piano and then go back upstairs for more cleaning.  Whoa, our lights are blinking.  Just now.  Several times.  We just unplugged the laptops.  All we need is for the lights (and precious AC) to go out.  At least our old brick house retains the cool well.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shades of Grapes of Wrath

The drought continues.  We're starting to lose some leaves from some of the trees.  And last night, for the first time ever, something got into our dumpster.  We've also discovered a very, very skinny cat outside, who wouldn't dream of letting us come near her, but who was happy to eat quite a bit of cat food.  She's probably already been drinking our water, but she was extremely hungry.  I think right now she's curled up in a corner of a barn somewhere, purring.  We thought we saw a collar, so she was probably a pet.  I wonder how some people would feel if they were suddenly dropped in the wilderness somewhere.  This is how we've gotten almost all our cats over the years.

Had a busy day yesterday--went to town, had lunch, dropped off one daughter at a church meeting, went to the dollar store, went to the grocery store, went back to pick up the daughter when the meeting finished earlier than expected, and had a very late dinner.  In addition to watering everything and putting away two weeks worth of groceries.  And I mowed the lawn.

The lawn mower, I think, is finally fixed.  Parts of the lawn haven't been mowed in many weeks, because of all the breakdowns, and the tall 'grass' almost choked the mower.  Other parts of the lawn were completely dormant.  Our 'grass' that isn't really grass (lots of weeds that we just mow short to make it look like grass) is an advantage now--the grass is all brown almost everywhere else, but our lawn still has some green.  There's a lot of green in our 'forest' of a yard, too, but the strain is really starting to show out there.  There are a lot of curled up or wilting plants.  Maybe we'll get lucky and all the ragweed (the half I haven't pulled up already) will wilt before it pollinates. 

Our surrounding bean field is just starting to turn yellow.

Anyway,  today we went back to town, got gasoline, went to spend a bookstore gift card one daughter has had since Christmas, walked around a beautiful outdoor mall with lots of very green grass, got bird food,and went home.  This afternoon I've been playing the piano and doing some cleaning--the van, the camper, the chicken coop where the girls play house and we store outdoor and outgrown toys.  We've finally got the chores caught up now.  I'll be spending a lot of time indoors the rest of this week--after a couple of decent days, the high tomorrow will be 90, and then the next day it'll be 101.  Tomorrow morning I will water everything early before it heats up, and then I'll be closing the windows and turning on the window air conditioner that tries to cool off our entire downstairs.  I'll try to do some serious cleaning inside.  But I think I'll be taking a lot of breaks Thursday.

I'm also planning to spend a lot of time home in the near future--we're just broke.  My parents will be helping us again with the mortgage and health insurance and van payment.  I don't know how long they can keep this up.  They're already buying our groceries. I am trying very hard not to worry about whether or not I'll be living with them one day.  I'm trying to figure out how we can save money--we can't cancel the health insurance because of my husband's National Guard, at which he makes enough money to--pay for the health insurance.  At some point we may have to cancel our phones and internet.  My husband needs his phone for his part-time job.  We can cancel Netflix.  We can stop the lunch out when we get groceries.  We can start eating more pasta and bread and less meat and produce.  That's about it.

On the bright side, my wonderful sister (and I'm not just saying that because she might be reading my blog) is offering to look for a good lawyer for us, and pay for it, and for some medical testing as well, so I can appeal the Social Security decision.  I'm tired of trying to prove I'm not a lazy deadbeat, but all I can do is jump through the hoops--I can't pass up the possibility of getting some financial help.  My sister is going to talk to my father about the possibility of driving me to appointments, since he's retiring--this is his last week at work.  I will once again be trying not to get my hopes up about this.  When I got the denial letter last time, I stopped playing the piano for several days.

It's almost bedtime now.  I'm pretty tired after all the running around and yard work.  At least I'm quite often healthy in the summer.  Good night!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It's People Powder!

We were some of the lucky ones--the other night we got around an inch of rain.  This is a long way from ending the drought--maybe if my namesake, tropical storm Debby, found it's way up here from the Gulf, that would temporarily end the drought.  But I'm already watering things again.  I skipped two days and stuff started to wilt.  But I'm considering watering most of it every other day instead of every day--I'm concerned that at some point our well might run dry.  I've heard stories of that happening to people.  And the drought is expected to last through July.

There's been a lot of debate about Obamacare, and I could happily argue either side.  Free insurance for all--good.  The cost--bad.  Government control over our health care--bad.  Not knowing exactly what's in that bill--bad.  Mandating that people get healthy insurance--well, I have TriCare now, which I can't use because of the deductibles and co-pays (that's a whole other blog post).  But before, I didn't have insurance and couldn't qualify for Medicaid.  I was worried that I wouldn't be able to afford heath insurance (my husband's workplace at the time charged half his paycheck, so we went without).  I worried that we'd get in trouble for not having the insurance that I actually wanted.

And while free health care sounds wonderful, somehow after all my mishaps with public education, Medicaid for the children, Social Security and recently my husband's National Guard, I can't quite bring myself to trust our government not to screw it up.  Especially since the pile of paperwork associated with Obamacare is too big to even be read by the people voting on it.  But a little bit of experimentation sounds like a good idea.

Here's a state (Oregon) who put a piece of it to the test:

"When Wendy Parris shattered her ankle, the emergency room put it in an air cast and sent her on her way. Because she had no insurance, doctors did not operate to fix it. A mother of six, Ms. Parris hobbled around for four years, pained by the foot, becoming less mobile and gaining weight."

There but for the grace of God go I.  Anyway, four years ago Oregon decided to hold a lottery among poor adults.  The winners--almost 90,000 of them--got Medicaid.  Oregon discovered some things:

Having insurance made people "feel healthier, happier and more financially stable."  People without insurance "reported being in worse physical and mental shape and were less likely to describe themselves as happy."

There are quite a few things that aren't generally necessary for an individual's happiness.  But medical care when you're sick or hurting seems pretty darn important, right up there with clean water, food, and shelter.

Here's another case that hit close to home for me:  "Before winning the lottery (for health insurance), Mr. Bell filed for bankruptcy after emergency surgery to remove kidney stones left him with a $6,000 bill that he and his wife could not pay, he said."

Been there, done that, just a couple of years ago.  I was in and out of the ER over a few days, and finally had to be admitted to the hospital.  And yes, I did have trouble getting people to take me seriously.  But then my kidneys started to shut down--I started throwing up everything, and when they hooked me up to an IV, I still wasn't peeing.  The stone had to come out.

The surgery was a piece of cake.  I drifted off to sleep, and after a very short nap, woke up.  The recovery was quick and easy.  Two days later it was as if nothing had happened.

Then the bills started coming.  There was no other option but to have the bills turned over to collection agencies.  I remember making one particular choice--will we get our lights shut off or have the bill turned over to collections?  Fortunately, they don't put the kidney stone back in if you don't pay.

After filling out several pages of paperwork (something you'd better become accustomed to if you're poor), the main hospital bill was forgiven by the non-profit hospital.  But one large bill from the surgeon (and there were also lab test and radiology bills) finally resulted in our tax refund being taken away.  We depend on those refunds to buy whatever we need on a yearly basis--my medications, contact lenses, shoes for everybody, whatever it is we usually can't afford, so this was a serious hardship for us.  And I had to stretch my contact lenses for a whole other year, which I wasn't supposed to do.

And do you think I got the follow-up care I was supposed to get?  I'll just hope I don't get another kidney stone (a slim hope considering this was not my first one).  If I do, it's back to the ER and more collection agencies.

The bad news for the government-paid insurance experiment is that people with insurance actually got more medical care.  Preventative care did not keep medical costs down.  The good news is that Wendy Parris got her surgery, got moving, and lost the weight.  Mr. Bell now gets regular medical care.

If I had a solution for this problem, I guess I'd have written a book instead of a blog post.

There's a movie on the SyFy.  Arachnoquake.  That's a great title. lol  Fortunately the new War of the Worlds is on another channel.  I highly recommend it.  When the aliens start pulverizing people, I like to cry out, "People powder!"  Don't ask me why.  Some people say I have a sick sense of humor.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I almost forgot....the survey after my consultative exam

Yes, I was handed a survey, by the doctor who performed my physical exam.  I mean, the doctor handed me the survey.  I was treated decently during the exam.  But really, was I going to complain when he handed me the survey?  Who would want to jeopardize their chances of getting benefits by upsetting the doctor?  I gave him the best review possible.  It seemed prudent.

That survey was worthless.

I didn't want to blog about that until after I was denied, because I'd actually mentioned this blog in my application process.

And now off to more house cleaning and piano practice....


Hi!  I'm still here.  I got tired of posting about (a) my on-going conflict with my own brain, (b) my on-going conflict with the Social Security Administration, (c) what it's like to live at half the poverty limit (well, with help from my family--I don't want to know what it's like without help), or (d) what I've cleaned around the house lately.  I'm not tired of posting about the piano--mostly lately I compose, practice my compositions, work on memorizing the 'Jameson Whiskey' song--I'm almost finished with that, play Schubert's impromptu, work on memorizing the Chopin mazurka....Yesterday I started working my way (tortuously for me and everybody else in the household) through Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier.  Some of it I like, some not so much.  And I've been reading about diminished seventh chords, which led me into jazz and blue notes.

And then there's the drought--and it's definitely a drought now.  It's hardly rained for maybe a month and a half.  I'm keeping my whole island alive now.  I suspect the birds and animals would be having a very hard time without me.  I've seen hummingbirds bathing under the stream of water from my hose while I'm watering plants.  Wasps and bees are drinking from the bird bath.  Never seen that before.  It's dry.  And I've heard a lot of people complaining about feeling tired and headachy.  Including me.  I'm thinking it must be the weather.  The high temp is supposed to be 96 F today.

I've been reading my book about Kabbalah--"God is a Verb" by David Cooper.  I've been interested in this--I've been online at the Kabbalah Center website and on Wikipedia, and I've got some more books.  I've even been in contact with someone on the phone and taken my first online course--a free intro to Kabbalah.  I started to wish I could take some more classes, and order some CDs, but then I thought, just try and stop me from learning about something.  It won't be the first time I've taught myself.  That's one of the dangers of homeschooling--pretty soon people start to think they're not dependent on somebody else to come along and spoon-feed them.  Once upon a time I wished I could take piano lessons or study music in college.  But now I think that might have taken a lot of the joy out of it, especially given the roadblocks my brain likes to throw in my way from time to time.

But the online course reminded me of college.  There are some things I miss about college.  If I'm honest, one of the things I liked was the idea--that I was an intelligent person with a bright future ahead of me.  Who wouldn't find that appealing?  And every new class was a potential adventure.

I've conveniently forgotten what it was like to be so sick--to walk across the campus, go directly to a restroom, and cough until I threw up, and then go on to class.  To be so exhausted I could hardly stay awake.  Trying to keep up with classes despite missing lectures because of illness, getting lost all the time, not recognizing people, having trouble with an occasional class because of the leftover learning disabilities.  I'm still convinced the only reason I passed remedial English was that I peppered the professor with so many questions he couldn't help but believe he'd gotten my best effort.  It was nearly impossible for me to go to his office and ask for help--I'd been trained my entire life to never. admit. I had. a problem.

Sometimes one of my greatest strengths is my inability to do what I'm told.

And now it's almost dinner time--one of the girls is making scrambled eggs and sausage, and another one is making toast.  We're watching the new Star Trek movie.  The next one is supposed to come out this year.

See you later!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Watch out for that rock!

I like this paragraph:

"From the earliest age humans seek acceptance from their peer group. It starts in kindergarten, maybe sooner. No kid in elementary school wants to stand out. They want to be just like their friends, for people accept what they have in common. By the time some venture to junior high standing out may not seem like such a bad thing, having watched all those kids morph into clones of the popular ones in their effort to gain this elusive acceptance. In high school kids splinter off into different groups based on their interests or circumstances. If I recall correctly the only ones who still think everyone wants to be just like them are living out their glory days in homeroom wearing letterman jackets. Hopefully most of the rest have gotten a clue by then. So considering this innate need for approval is it any wonder harsh criticisms are so hard to hear? I want it all back. Health, friends, financial stability, a job, reciprocal relationships where I don't take more than I give. And my innocence too. Believing life is somewhat fair, hard work and perseverance can conquer all of life's ills, feeling like I have something called control over my existence. So when I get a sanctimonious moron telling me how I should behave and respond to my challenges, well my reaction is not usually very pretty. Which has caused me to slash and burn personal and professional relationships with the aplomb of Keyser Soze. With all we face, who on earth has time for that? But I'm not gonna lie, it hurts. Not being understood sucks. Judged by trial and jury in the court of public opinion is painful. Not nearly as painful as Fibromyalgia, though."

I've thought about this lately.  I wrote once about being a 'slave' to my illness.  Wait, I'll be right back...

....OK, here it is:

(All right, spellcheck doesn't like 'blogspot'?  I've always thought's spellcheck was a little strict, but 'blogspot'?  Not to mention 'internet'.  Come on, people.)

Anyway, illness isn't the only thing I'm a slave to.  And, chance are, you're a slave to this, too....

Human nature.

The 'wanting to be accepted' thing--I think it's hard-wired into us.  It is incredibly difficult to not care if people like you or not.  I'm lucky to have immediate family and children and a couple of online friends.  But we humans instinctively want to be in groups of people who don't mind us being there.  It's hard to ignore.  We're not supposed to be alone. 

It makes a certain amount of sense.  If I lived in the woods all by myself, who would take care of me if I injured myself?  Who would I trade with--I'd have to make everything myself.  It would be a much harsher (and most likely shorter) life.

And even if you live alone in the twenty-first century surrounded by technology, when the going gets rough it's very helpful to have connections to other people.  Do you need a job?  You're most likely to get a job, not through the want ads or the unemployment office, but through people you know.  Have a problem with a government agency?  Need to know who you can trust to fix your car?  Have to take an emergency (non-ambulance) trip to the ER?  Need somebody to watch your kids for an hour or two?  Want to move a piano? 

And just try being unpopular in school, or at work.  It's not any fun at all.

You need people.

Or lots and lots of money, with which you can pay for professional people.  After all, money is one of the chief ways we keep score--who's wonderfully acceptable and desirable, who's moderately acceptable, and who's....worthless.

Being acceptable means survival.  It means medical care when your sick, food when you're hungry, shelter, protection.  Being unacceptable is scary.  Your needs don't get met.  Maybe you don't even get to reproduce--another imperative your biology has stuck you with.  In some cultures being acceptable might be the difference between life and death--you could get burned at the stake, or stoned, or something.

And rejection isn't just painful, it's bad for your health (especially if you find yourself dodging rocks).  Some primitive part of your brain is no doubt trying to tell you, 'Hey, this is dangerous, you'd better make some friends quick.'  People who live alone or are isolated socially die younger, apparently just from the stress, if you believe the studies out there.  As stressful as life with our fellow human beings is, for most people it's even worse to be alone.  A lot of people aren't used to it, and experience a lot of anxiety if they're left to themselves.

We just can't escape our biology.

We feel compelled, in most cases, to find a mate and have children.  We can't help but notice the sexy actor or actress on TV.  We can't help but think babies are cute.  Most of us don't do the logical thing and leave them in the woods at 2 a.m. so we can get a decent night's sleep.

We feel compelled to think about chocolate cake. lol  We're pre-programmed to like sugar, probably because if our ancestors didn't eat that sweet piece of fruit every so often they'd end up with scurvy.  So it's 2012 and we eat chinese food until we're stuffed.  That's instinct.  (We also like the brightly colored fruit because we're pre-programmed to like pretty colors.)

The list could probably go on all day.  Drugs and alcohol?  Adultery?  Violence?  How much of that is instinctive, too?  My kids are lucky that my problems are mostly along the lines of kung pao chicken.

And it seems like most of child-rearing consists of a desperate (and only somewhat successful) attempt to teach kids some kind of control over their instincts.  Except for the instinct to mate and have kids of their own and not leave them in the woods.

The internet has replaced a lot of the 'need advice' function in my life. And I can be happy spending a fair amount of time alone--I'm just used to it, and frankly, trying to figure out who everybody is and where I'm at and what they're saying can be exhausting after a while. But there's still that pesky drive to periodically interact face-to-face with humans from time to time.

Who's in control here, anyway?  I am.  Sort of.  Barely at times.  But it is not easy to tell yourself, "You don't really need people around, and you don't need them to approve of you, that's just your biological pre-programming talking."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Snacks and Little Plates

Nothing much happening.  It is hot and stuffy.  It's almost bedtime and I've given in to the urge to just sit in the family room under the ceiling fan.  Two of us here have checked to see if the air conditioner broke.  It's still working.

One daughter has a 'snuggi'.  If you've never heard of a 'snuggi', it's like a backwards bathrobe.  Why anybody would want a backwards bathrobe is beyond me.  It doesn't even come with a belt.  And she's wearing it today.  Far be it from me to tell a 15yo how to dress--what am I going to say, that she's covering too much skin?  It's not her fault she was born chilly.  But I can't even look at her.

Today was our chance to get some rain according to the weather people, but we hardly got any.  And no rain is forecast for the foreseeable future.  Everyday we put out water for the animals and birds and water some of the littler and vulnerable plants.  There are soybeans all arounds us that I'm starting to think haven't got a chance in hell.  I'm not swearing--I think it's getting that hot.

Today I took the girls to the post office to drop off our monthly little box of presents to my 3yo niece.  We went to my mother's house, and she sent us out (with some cash) to get sandwiches & cookies for all of us.  I had a salad on a sandwich--crab & other seafood with a bunch of veggies, no cheese or sauce, on wheat.  Pretty good.  My parents are so nice.  I don't think they ever read this blog, so I'm not even saying that so they'll buy more sandwiches.

We went to the library and grocery shopping and then home.  The summer reading program at the library has started, so we signed up for that.

And I've started having the girls bring armloads of clothes downstairs for me to go through--my goal is to go through all our clothes this week.  Part of my goal to do some serious decluttering this summer.

I'm down ten pounds now.  There should be a party.  With cake and ice cream and mixed nuts and little mints and soda pop....

Jonathan Roche (associated with Flylady) sent out a great email the other day about dieting being like packing up and moving, as opposed to going on a vacation.  I am hoping to live here permanently.

I think the greatest help has been snacks.  One of those paradoxes of life.  I've started getting fruit and granola bars and low-fat cheese & crackers--stuff that's low-fat and portion-controlled--for snacks.  It just doesn't work for me at three in the afternoon when I'm so hungry I'm shaking and then I just have to tough it out a few hours until dinner, and not lose control then.  I've learned not to ignore it if I'm ravenously starving.

I've been exercising most every day, on my little fold-up floor exercise bike, when I talk to my mother on the phone.  It helps to tie the exercise to something you know you're going to do.  I'll probably add some other exercise or change it from time to time.

I measured myself when I started.  Sometimes a person stops losing weight and starts losing inches because they're gaining muscle. I used to get (understandably) discouraged when I'd exercise and then gain weight.

I just don't hardly ever have seconds on anything any more.

I take the smallest piece of cake.  I still often have cookies and candy when everybody else does, I just keep the portion size down.

And I've been using the little saucer-shaped plates whenever it makes sense to do so for lunch.  A not-huge full-size plate for dinner--we have lots of assorted plates, and some of them are big.

I've given up regular soda unless some restaurant has Barq's root beer. :)

Here's a website that has helped: .  It spurred me to sit down and list ways I could change my habits, like the ones I've just listed.  Mr. Pavlina talked about setting up your environment to help you succeed. 

And Jonathan is at , if anybody is interested.

And now it's just about bedtime.  Night night.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Neither Fish nor Fowl nor Good Red Herring

This is what it's like to be me:  I'm sitting in the passenger seat, husband driving, kids in the back.  Suddenly my husband pulls over and starts talking to someone.

I have no idea who it is.  Do I know him?   Or is he only acquainted with my husband?  I try to smile noncommittally.  Friendly, but not too friendly because he might be a total stranger. (I've always had trouble with facial expressions, too--both making them and recognizing them.)

Then we pull away.  I am still clueless.

A few years ago, I wouldn't have said anything.  After years and years of thinking that I should have paid more attention and not knowing what was the matter with me--to this day I still automatically conceal the fact that I don't know what's going on around me.  But now I ask.

And it turns out I know that guy.  I know his name, first and last, his wife's name, how many kids he has and approximately how old.  I've had dinner at his house.  I've met his wife at her workplace several times.  I know how my husband knows him.  I know he smokes.

Nothing wrong with my memory, except that my internal photo album is blank.

There is brief pause in the car, and then....

"So, that was his house, wasn't it?"

And then today my oldest daughter got her hair cut.  And I missed it.  She stood there, my husband stood there, and they just looked at me.  I finally realized (with my crappy facial-expression-recognition skills) that something was not right.  My husband looked at my daughter exaggeratedly.  I looked at her.  And looked.  Finally they just told me.

I haven't been able to get access to my Social Security examination records.  But I was able to find out what test the last doctor gave me.  The Weschler Memory Scale. (Nothing wrong with my memory for spelling.)  And then....

I found out that if you do poorly enough on that test (or parts of it, presumably) it can be said to prove that you are a 'malingerer' (faker).  The theory is that if you did as badly as a mentally retarded person would, and you are basically at all functional, then you must be faking it.

The only problem is, I've been in classes in public school with borderline-mentally retarded students.  I've worked, over the years, with borderline- and actually retarded fellow employees (including one job where I unwrapped damaged candy bars all day and they locked us in so the other employees couldn't wander off).  I've been in social situations with retarded people.  And sometimes they out-perform me.

Maybe you can imagine how frustrating this is.  I can't function well enough to hang around with people who know who Chopin is, and often find myself in a crowd where even attempting to explain Chopin would be a joke.  But I'm too bright to find unwrapping damaged candy bars particularly fulfilling.  The people with double-digit IQs know almost instantly that I don't belong.

And just maybe I scored too badly on that test to be taken seriously.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Welcome to Holland

This piece was originally written about the experience of having a disabled child, but it definitely applies to being the disabled person, as well:

Welcome to Holland

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Emily Perl Kingsley 1987

I've had people ask why I don't just move to Italy, or insist repeatedly that we are, in fact, in Italy, and I am not to say anything at all about Holland, despite all the tulips and windmills all around us.  I've even been told that I must want to be in Holland, since I'm admiring the tulips....

Speaking of growing things--not much happening here.  I've been watering plants outside first thing in the morning before it gets uncomfortable outside.  I leave water outside for the wild animals.  It's getting hotter every day here again, and no rain.  Because of the extremely mild winter and early spring, our apple tree started the season drooping with more apples than I've ever seen.  Until now.  All of the little apples are falling off.  The ground is covered with them.  We are really experiencing a drought now.  At least our little foresty (spellcheck is not the boss of me) island is green.

We've been stuck here all week, but we've had at least a little fun.  There was a Star Trek:  The Next Generation marathon on TV yesterday which I managed to watch parts of.

We have an old camper in our yard that's hooked up to electric that the girls spend time in.  It even has an old TV with no reception hooked up to an old VCR.  It's like another room in the house, which with six people we can definitely use.  Yesterday I was watering plants and innocently called one of the girls and when she opened the door, I let her have it.

I am really bored.  So bored I'm grateful for housework.

Think I'll go play the piano and go through some more clutter.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

And the Answer is No.

Well, I got the denial letter from Social Security today.  No results from the neurological testing--I think I'll call the doctor who did the testing just to see if I can get any results for my own records.  It can't hurt to ask.  Not that I'm thinking of appealing or reapplying again--I'm done.  Time to just go on with my life.

It's gone back to drought conditions here.  We'd had one good rain a few days ago, which wasn't enough to make up for the dry spell, and now it's getting hotter every day again.  It makes sense to have a lot of trees right now--everything under the 'forest' that is my yard is still green.  We may have the only green grass for miles.  Although if this keeps up I can see it turning brown pretty soon--at least in the small open spaces.  We'll still have plenty of green.

I've been trying to clean out a couple of drawers/cupboards/shelves every day.  I want to clean up some of the clutter around here.  It's easy to accumulate when you have four kids and a major medical  condition.  And I've become temporarily obsessed with Schubert's last four impromptus--the very last one is the one I've been practicing for months, but now I'm playing the other three quite a bit.

And I've started my annual pull-up-as-much-as-you-can-of-the-ragweed-on-the-island-before-it-pollinates routine.  It helps quite a bit with the hay fever.  Hardly any of it even grows near the house any more, because I'm especially diligent about that.  And I should start stocking up on Sudafed.  If you buy too much Sudafed at once--yes, big brother is watching, and the stores keep track of how much you buy, because people use Sudafed to make meth.  Antihistamines are fine, but I tend to try to get a sinus infection when the pollen gets bad.

I am bored and frustrated.  The kids are out of homeschooling for the next month-and-a-half to two months, and I'm just trying to keep busy.  My oldest has an amusement park trip next week and a mission trip at the end of the month and a skit at church to work on.  The other three have....nothing.  One child has started to have major behavior problems, and I wonder if this is part of the reason.  I can't even afford to take them anywhere.  We can barely afford the gas to go anywhere.  They sit and watch TV.  We go to the library, but they can only read so many hours a day.  My sister is coming to visit.  In August.  It's as if we're in prison.  It's a very nice, comfy prison.  It's very pretty outside.

I'm at least keeping busy.  As long as I keep moving I'll be all right.  But I don't usually have to work this hard at not getting depressed unless I'm sick.  My husband hears from people wondering why if we're having such a hard time I don't just go out and get a job.  I don't know whether I want to get out of the house more often, or stay home so I don't have to talk to anybody.  But that's irrelevant--as it is the amusement park money will be coming from the grocery money my parents are giving me next week (with their blessing).  None of my kids have ever been to an amusement park, and I don't want her to miss this chance.  Hopefully when the other ones get older they'll get to go, too.

And now the pity party needs to end.  A smart prisoner doesn't let the time go to waste.  With any luck, I'm not going to think about this any more today.  I'm going to go play impromptus and go through some more clutter.  I'm going to try to look back over this summer as the time I lost a little weight (down nine pounds since I stopped being sick) and went through a significant amount of clutter and composed and memorized a few things and was a reasonable cheerful mother.  The day before yesterday we all went for a walk along the road.  We watched little puffy clouds move across the sun--the shadows overtook us on the road, and then took off fast ahead of us.  Today they sprayed weed-killer all up and down the road, so that's out now.  We have to have a little fun today (every day)....I wonder what I can scrounge up?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lots of Pictures and a Link to the Jameson Whiskey Piano Sheet Music

Here's today's 'Picture of the Week':

No particular reason, I just like it.  It's from Zura Garibovi (!/zura.garibovi ).  If you like pictures, I just discovered this guy--he has lots of the kinds of pictures that I like.  For example:

I'm a sucker for lots of color.  And


And the first one I discovered (because a friend shared it on fb)

On to something else--my Jameson Whiskey Commercial post (May 21) is so popular it's now my most-read blog post.  Apparently I'm not the only one who knows a good thing when I hear it.  So I thought I'd post the link to the sheet music.  Here it is:

And while I'm at it, I'll just shamelessly put 'Jameson Whiskey' into the title of this post, with the sole intention of sucking innocent people into reading this blog.  Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

"I'm just on a lucky streak....

....where all the luck is bad." *

Just found out that my husband is not going to have drill this month for two weeks. We could really have used that money.  It's just been one thing after another since Christmas.  The next thing will probably be the denial letter from Social Security.  I am trying not to think about how nice it would be to get a few hundred dollars a month and then to be officially disabled and get food stamps.  I know better than to get my hopes up.

I am determined to be a pleasant person to be around this summer.  My kids need me to not be anxious and depressed. 

* Fred Flintstone

Oh Boy

Good morning!  If you look closely at this picture from APOD, you'll see Venus 'in transit'--that just means it's in front of the sun.

I took the girls to their second dentist appointment Friday, where one child had a leftover baby tooth root 'zapped' by a laser.  She never felt a thing.  Another child just had sealant put on.  No cavities. :)  No more dental work in the near future, hopefully, because now I've read through all their magazines.  It takes a long time to go through so many kids' dental appointments.

And then I took the girls to Wal-Mart because my eldest is going on a mission trip at the end of the month.  You'd think she was going to Venus, as much stuff as they're saying she should have.  We're lucky so many people donated to her cause so generously.  Anyway, Wal-Mart turned out to be quite an adventure.

You know, we go to Wal-Mart once or twice a month.  Sometimes if the bargains are good I grocery shop there, too.  But you'd think I'd never been to Wal-Mart.  So many things in my life are like that.  So I had no idea where any of the things we needed were, and they were in lots of different departments.  Flashlight--automotive department--where is that--and then it takes me forever to find the flashlight.  Beach towel--linen department--where is that--and then (you might see it coming now) it takes me forever to find the beach towel.  Disposable camera.  Work gloves.  Work boots.  Water bottle.  It seemed like we were in that store forever.  With four kids.

And we ran through all of the cash we had for the trip.  She still needs sneakers and work boots, as well as more clothes.  And I don't advise trying to find work boots for a 15yo girl. They don't make them in that size.  I know where one other shoe store is because I have 'odd' feet and usually have to buy an expensive pair of shoes.  If I'm lucky I have two pairs that would fit to choose from.  If that store doesn't have the boots for my daughter, I'll have to ask for help, because I don't know how to get to any other shoe store.  There was one near my parents' house, but it closed recently.  I was always getting lost on the way to that one anyway.

Yesterday my husband was at Guard, and we watched a 'Quantum Leap' marathon as part of my continuing endeavor to make good little geeks out of my children.  We've been watching 'Sliders' lately, too.  Even though we're in the midst of a 'financial adventure' here, children's TV dinners were on sale at Wal-Mart, so I bought them for the kids.  You'd be surprised how much cheap entertainment it provided the children when I picked one out as well.  Chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, corn, and chocolate pudding.

Gotta go....