Observations, Learning, and Activities for the New "Over 21s"

Yes, life is happening all around me right now.  Some are good, some not so good.  Some…well, who knows.

Finally, after months of having to put it off again and again, I scheduled cataract surgery–got appointments set up and flight reservations made. All together, it takes about three weeks to get both eyes done from initial consultation and exam through actual procedure and follow-up, one eye at a time.

Not an hour after I get everything scheduled, I see an email message from my brother-in-law that my mother is in the hospital.  We must have been on the phone for the better part of an hour, talking about how she has been, what she says to me versus what she says to my sister and him.  You would think that because she lives with them, she would share more information with them.  But you have to know my mother.  She’s a real handful at the best of times.  At age 88, she is still kicking around and refusing help from anyone unless absolutely, positively necessary.  And she doesn’t like being “in the way.”  She has gone out of her way to avoid allowing herself to feel that she is home.  I can guarantee that this is not how she is treated; this is just the way she is.  So she also does not tell her family everything that she is feeling physically, either.  Easton Hospital

Until about a week ago, that is.

That was when she fell and couldn’t get up because, for the first time, she could not feel her legs.  She was near a wall in her room, so she was able to pull herself up into a sitting position until my brother-in-law got home.  When I spoke to her several days after this first happened, she told me she had been falling fairly regularly, but she was never hurt and she was always able to get up.  She also didn’t bother to share this information with the household.  As I said, she’s a handful.

Right now, she has congestive heart failure, pneumonia, and one or two infections that are being treated.  She is fairly strong, but she is in a semi-delirious state and keeps pulling out her IVs and pulling off her oxygen mask.  As I write this, she is being sedated, mostly to keep her from pulling life-sustaining equipment from herself, I think.

And while all this is going on–just after I made appointments for badly needed eye surgery–we are also trying to buy a house.  This is not an easy task at our age (66), and we need to dip into our retirement funds to make it work.  If we dip into them the wrong way, we will be left penniless into our old age, even though my husband is still working full time and doesn’t plan to actually retire until he is at least 70.  Basically, he wants to work as long as his employer is willing to keep him on.

So much is going on right now that can once again hamper something so important to me–arranging to be able to see enough at night to drive and maybe even read a physical book instead of using a reading device or a computer.  And I need to be able to drive at night, since my husband does not drive at all–doesn’t now, never did.

I wish I could be with my mother to provide some relief to my sister and brother-in-law, who are with her all the time.  But I’m no good to anyone without the ability to see at night.  And I am reasonably certain that my mother, despite this current setback, will be on her feet and being ornery again in no time.

And I wonder: will this be me in twenty years?  Probably not, but who knows?

So why am I worried that I may need to postpone my own needed surgery yet again?  Maybe it is because I’ve had to do it so many times before during the past three years…

No good dwelling on that too long.  What will happen will happen, regardless of my own needs and desires.  As always, I will roll like a shell in the ocean waves that surround the tiny island on which I currently live…

 

#educ_dr

Lots of mainenance when one’s pets are affectionate

Today I took up a challenge: fix a knit dress an exuberant dog messed up a bit.

We live in the Caribbean, right next door to a casino complex with the most amazing restaurants. I don’t gamble, although I have walked through the casino often enough to feel I should at least lose $20 to the slot machines. But I gambled in buying a knitted dress. How is this a gamble? We have two cats with claws intact, and an exuberant and loving dog. In buying this dress, I lost. Sort of. Because…

When the Rince greeted me and got his claw caught in the knit, I  couldn’t get angry with him. I tried, but it didn’t last long. I was convinced the dress–now sporting a new line across the bottom front–was ruined. And still I could not be angry with the dog for more than a split second. Mostly, the accident caught me by surprise. We have cats. Cats with very sharp claws. They were the ones I was avoiding while wearing this dress–especially since it was its debut evening out. Frankly, I was surprised that the cats hadn’t destroyed it in the month or two it hung in the closet, waiting for the right occasion to be shown off. Dinner, I thought to myself. It’s just going out to dinner at the restaurant next door–our favorite in the casino. I can avoid the cats that long. And then the dog came bounding to greet me as I descended the staircase from the bedroom. Yup. It all happened before we even stepped out of the condo to meet friends for dinner and a drink.

This is The Island. Time is relative, so there was plenty of time to change dresses and still be “on time.” But I just laughed at Rincey, whose ears, head, and tail were lowered and whose big brown eyes clearly said he had done something wrong and was so, so sorry. I knelt down and gave him a hug, and he knew all was forgiven. I think he probably licked off whatever makeup I may have applied, but that was OK, too. We were dining with good friends.

“It’s really not bad,” comforted my usually nonobservant husband. 

Looking down at the horizontal pull in the fabric, I knew it was evident–but it was even and just a few inches above another line the manufacturer deliberately added where the dress began to flare out. So I hoped for the best and wore it because the flaw was put in out of love. 

No one noticed. 

Today, after months of neglecting the dress, I finally took it out and examined the damage. Being a needlework enthusiast, it was easy to see how to minimize the damage; it was also obvious to me the flaw would never be completely repaired–just camouflaged. Two hours was all I allowed myself in repair time. Using the tip of a yarn needle, I managed to redistribute the stitches by going over the work several times while feeding the “excess” yarn to both sides of the place where poor Rincey caught his claw. Thankfully, he managed to do so just about in the center of the row, so I had a good idea about how much of the thread to massage into each side. After two hours, I  cut off the bit of thread remaining, tied a knot and trimmed it, and declared it good as new. 

Of course, I know where the flaw is, but it really does look like an intentional soft line in the overall design.  

Don’t ask me why I bought the first knit dress I’ve owned in decades. It looked pretty good on me when I tried it on for fun. The price was great, and, knowing that it’s lifespan would be significantly curtailed by a furry member of the family, I bought it anyway. There is not a sweater or afghan in the house that doesn’t show signs that we live with pets, so it’s not like I didn’t know what to expect. It is why I so rarely buy anything anymore that is knit or crocheted. But I took a chance. And after a little work, it may survive to be worn one more time. Or maybe not. It’s another gamble on pets versus clothes. 
#educ_dr

Lots of mainenance when one’s pets are affectionate

Today I took up a challenge: fix a knit dress an exuberant dog messed up a bit.

We live in the Caribbean, right next door to a casino complex with the most amazing restaurants. I don’t gamble, although I have walked through the casino often enough to feel I should at least lose $20 to the slot machines. But I gambled in buying a knitted dress. How is this a gamble? We have two cats with claws intact, and an exuberant and loving dog. In buying this dress, I lost. Sort of. Because…

When the Rince greeted me and got his claw caught in the knit, I  couldn’t get angry with him. I tried, but it didn’t last long. I was convinced the dress–now sporting a new line across the bottom front–was ruined. And still I could not be angry with the dog for more than a split second. Mostly, the accident caught me by surprise. We have cats. Cats with very sharp claws. They were the ones I was avoiding while wearing this dress–especially since it was its debut evening out. Frankly, I was surprised that the cats hadn’t destroyed it in the month or two it hung in the closet, waiting for the right occasion to be shown off. Dinner, I thought to myself. It’s just going out to dinner at the restaurant next door–our favorite in the casino. I can avoid the cats that long. And then the dog came bounding to greet me as I descended the staircase from the bedroom. Yup. It all happened before we even stepped out of the condo to meet friends for dinner and a drink.

This is The Island. Time is relative, so there was plenty of time to change dresses and still be “on time.” But I just laughed at Rincey, whose ears, head, and tail were lowered and whose big brown eyes clearly said he had done something wrong and was so, so sorry. I knelt down and gave him a hug, and he knew all was forgiven. I think he probably licked off whatever makeup I may have applied, but that was OK, too. We were dining with good friends.

“It’s really not bad,” comforted my usually nonobservant husband. 

Looking down at the horizontal pull in the fabric, I knew it was evident–but it was even and just a few inches above another line the manufacturer deliberately added where the dress began to flare out. So I hoped for the best and wore it because the flaw was put in out of love. 

No one noticed. 

Today, after months of neglecting the dress, I finally took it out and examined the damage. Being a needlework enthusiast, it was easy to see how to minimize the damage; it was also obvious to me the flaw would never be completely repaired–just camouflaged. Two hours was all I allowed myself in repair time. Using the tip of a yarn needle, I managed to redistribute the stitches by going over the work several times while feeding the “excess” yarn to both sides of the place where poor Rincey caught his claw. Thankfully, he managed to do so just about in the center of the row, so I had a good idea about how much of the thread to massage into each side. After two hours, I  cut off the bit of thread remaining, tied a knot and trimmed it, and declared it good as new. 

Of course, I know where the flaw is, but it really does look like an intentional soft line in the overall design.  

Don’t ask me why I bought the first knit dress I’ve owned in decades. It looked pretty good on me when I tried it on for fun. The price was great, and, knowing that it’s lifespan would be significantly curtailed by a furry member of the family, I bought it anyway. There is not a sweater or afghan in the house that doesn’t show signs that we live with pets, so it’s not like I didn’t know what to expect. It is why I so rarely buy anything anymore that is knit or crocheted. But I took a chance. And after a little work, it may survive to be worn one more time. Or maybe not. It’s another gamble on pets versus clothes. 
#educ_dr

In my last post, “OK. I’m Old,” I confessed to being off my computer for several months. I especially was upset with whatever is going on between Microsoft and Adobe in relation to Adobe Acrobat Reader. Mostly, I was miffed because I hadn’t seen any alerts that Adobe was both no longer a part of the Windows 10 basic operating system, and that Adobe didn’t seem to have provided any indication that a different version of Reader was needed for Windows 10. I assumed that there was yet one more conflict between Adobe and Microsoft, whether I addressed that directly or not.

Well, today I was cleaning up a lot of outdated unread mail from this period.  In my gmail account, I found all these messages from Adobe about this “new” product for Windows 8 touch devices.  I never opened any of them (remember: I wasn’t using the computer for much at all), and so never realized that there were upgrades that didn’t automatically occur through my Google Chrome browser.  I guess I was wrong.

Mind you, it looks to me as though someone at the Microsoft Store went into the app  description to state that it also works for all versions of Windows 10, touchscreen device or not.  So… I’m just letting you know that I should have checked all my old emails before complaining about all these new programmatic changes that are needed to keep our old favorites in newer and “better” operating systems, whether Windows based, iOS, or Android driven.

Mea culpa.

#educ_dr

OK. I’m old…

So I went to print a PDF document from my just-fixed Windows 10 laptop, and discovered that I no longer had a functioning version of Adobe Acrobat.  As far as I can tell, although I have read a bunch of PDF files, this is the first time I wanted to print.  I could read all the PDFs I wanted, as long as I didn’t want to save them or print them.  So I clicked on the Microsoft store, and up comes a new Acrobat for Windows 8.  Hmmm… was I using this version all along on my older Windows 8 laptop, and just now realized it didn’t come with my newest laptop?  Now I know for sure that I’m getting too old.  That is, the Windows software has finally moved beyond my ability to instantly (sort of) comprehend.

Here is the truth of the matter.  I have spent the past six months or so using my phones and iPads to communicate with the world–except for email, which I still find easier to navigate on an actual computer.  And I just discovered yesterday that one of my email accounts seems to want nothing to do with the operating systems on either my laptops OR my mobile devices.  I am trying to figure out if all these changes happened during the last six months, even though I was constantly allowing automatic upgrades; or if the New Year brought instantaneous changes to every app I have.  It is bad enough that all the technology has changed to small, easily portable devices; I just didn’t expect so many changes in the programs (apps–short for applications, which used to be the same as programs–to any of you who are youngsters.

Right now, everything is working pretty well.  I haven’t hooked this computer up to either Norton or Dropbox, as I still am not sure which of the two brought down my Windows 10 operating system.  The young tech who fixed my computer thinks it was Norton, but I’m more inclined to go with the user complaints about Dropbox.  Therefore, neither are touching this laptop until someone has a more definitive answer about what is going on with Windows 10.  And that’s a whole other kettle of fish to complain about…

 

#educ_dr

 

GoSetAWatchman

All the negative publicity about Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, and all for naught. Does the book address racism? Yes. Is it a racist book? Absolutely not. Appropriate of the time in which it was written? Oh, yes.

Two-thirds into reading the book, I was waiting for the racism to appear. It finally did, but it did not at all conflict with anything in To Kill a Mockingbird. That’s all I can say about the book in case my readers haven’t read it yet. However, judging from the amount of summary-and-analysis type books available on Amazon, there are probably many different opinions and interpretations of the book.

When you read it, remember that it was written before the classic To Kill a Mockingbird, despite the fact that it takes place almost 2 decades later. My suspicion is that the publisher thought it would be better to fill in the background information–like the trial and all that occurred that had been connected to the trial–so that readers would understand the content of this book.

What I can say is that, although this book is well-written and there were apparently no changes made to the original manuscript (unless I’ve read the reviews incorrectly), To Kill a Mockingbird was better written, reflecting the author’s writing maturity and careful editorial suggestions. Personally, I enjoyed the book and wish all the hype about it hadn’t been stirred up before it was released. I had pre-ordered the book, and then was reluctant to read it after all the negativity about racism in the novel. When I finally read it, I found myself looking for hidden and overt racism. It’s not like it didn’t exist during the time period, so I wound my brain back to the time when racism was still running rampant in the North as well as the South–the time before all the metropolitan race riots during the 1960s. I read the book within the context of historical knowns and even unspoken prejudice of the Northern university town in which I grew up during the 1950s and 1960s. The book is true to the time period, but it also makes a strong statement about how people in the South viewed their communities during this time period. Just as the book exposes both subtle and overt racism, it also opens the mind to subtle and overt anti-racism, as well as the “in-between” attitudes coexisting with the polarities.

Now that I know that the hype was primarily generated by loud readers who either never finished the book–or never even cracked the cover (physical or electronic)–I am going to read the book again with a more free and more open mind to the author’s words and thoughts.

Go Set a Watchman will probably never reach the readership and importance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but it deserves to be read with an open mind and an eye to a very tumultuous historical period in the US’s recent past.

#educ_dr

Feeling Good!

It is amazing how much power a little pill can have. Pritiq

About five weeks ago, I recognized that I was depressed. The next day, I went to see my doctor to discuss antidepressants. He prescribed Pristiq. For almost twenty-two years (since 1990), I was on one antidepressant after another, many of which just made me more depressed. A bit more than three years ago, my doctor took me off antidepressants and put me on Adderall for hyperactivity, since I hadn’t been able to keep my mind on one thing since I was a kid. And back then, hyperactivity wasn’t even a diagnosed problem–it may not even have been recognized as a medical issue.

In my early twenties, a doctor put me on Valium because he thought I was, in his words, “burning the candle at both ends.” The medication calmed me down enough so that I could increase my focus and do even more. What can I say? I tend to have paradoxical reactions to a lot of medications.

Anyway, the Adderall really helped with my concentration and focus more than the antidepressants ever had. But when I came here to St Maarten, the doctor sent me to a psychiatrist, since only they can diagnose and prescribe medications for hyperactivity here. And she does not believe I’m hyperactive. But then, she didn’t seem to notice how deep into depression I had sunk, either, so…

Whether or not I had ever used Pristiq in the past, I can’t remember–I had been on so many different antidepressants during those 22 years that I’ve lost track of which I had used, which helped a bit for a little while before depressing me again, which took me further into the abyss from the start. However, my response to this drug, this time was nothing short of amazing. Within two and a half weeks of starting it, I realized that I am happy and feeling like “the real me” for the first time in forever. So how have I marked this amazing transformation? I’ve thrown myself into all sorts of tasks, of course, with glee and the feeling that I might actually complete some of them.

For the past few weeks, I have been concentrating (well, on and off) on building a web store–not an easy task when one is not as computer savvy as one believes she ought to be, and is clueless about how to set up an e-commerce site even with tremendous tutorials. But I’m learning a lot as I’m building it, and will hopefully soon have it open for business. This was so much easier to do 20 years ago when I designed and set up my first web site for a friend of mine. Computing was so much more straightforward back then. Now I have to learn brand new stuff, as though I had never worked with computing before. (sigh)

In the meantime, I am still trying to focus some time each day on my art–drawing and oil painting–but having difficulty with that because the web store is constantly in my mind and nagging me to finish it. It may take some time for me to get back into the swing of daily art sessions, especially since my instructor is vacationing in France through the month of October, and there are no weekly “homework assignments” for me to meet. So you might say that I am trying to throw some “artistic endeavor” into the web site. I’ll write more about my store when I finally get it set up. Interestingly, since the theme comes with a blog attached to it, I also wonder if I’ll have enough hours in the day to keep up with all my blogging–that one and my two main blogs here at WordPress which I’ve been neglecting. It’s been weeks since I posted anything serious on my Write of Passage blog, and I’m way too far behind in the current plans I have for it. But I’ll be getting back to it soon enough, and hopefully feeling more of a sense of accomplishment as I actually complete one task at a time.

[Hmm. Maybe that’s the key–completing one thing at a time. I’ve never been able to do that in the past, but I can try again.]

Life is good. All thanks to that little pill.

Well, back to work on my shopping site!

…Or maybe I’ll take the time to do a painting lesson from a book I have first…

#educ_dr