Friday, August 31, 2007

I'm running a little manic today

Ron made a very loving mistake last night. I came out to help him in the yard (he was already mowing), and mowed for about half an hour (our lot is a tad over 6,000 square feet).

Ron ran in the house (hobbled, really), and brought me out a "treat", a nice frosty bottle of Diet Dr Pepper. It was hot and miserable so I said "Thank you, honey!" and chugged it down like a frat student at a kegger party.

But it was 7 PM. I was glad to hear later on that Ron had decided that we weren't going to work today (we're going Sat & Sun.). I didn't get to sleep until sometime around midnight, and I woke up at 10 AM. I just feel a little extra vibrant, careless, and energized. My spelling is suffering, as well.

I want to BUY, BUY things! Fortunately, today's lithium and what's already in my bloodstream are controlling the worst of it. I'm not even depressed about it like I am normally.

I'm definitely in the acceptance stage. If I drink caffeine late, I'll won't sleep and I'll be manic the next day.

He who will not work.

Ron heard back from Jody, our insurance agent. Unfortunately, she can only get us insurance at $800 a year. Ouch.

So we'll be going with the guys the mortgage company recomended. They quoted us $600. I hope we don't regret it. I mean, really,we're just doing this so, God forbid, the mortgage company gets their money back if the house is "totalled" in a flood.

Ron and I were just discussing the Katrina evacuees in Houston. In the beginning, everyone couldn't do enough for them. Actually, I admire the strippers. Once they got settled, bought a few costumes, made a few calls, and went right to work in Houston. They were doing fine! I imagine a few Houston strippers wanted to hurt 'em, though. Obviously, getting naked for money is not God's will but I admire the tenacity.

I read somewhere that 23% of the residents of New Orleans lived below the poverty line. They had never had anything like what they got in Houston. $2,000 debit card, handouts all over. We would pick up Metrolift clients who'd say they were evacuees so they didn't have to pay for their rides (WRONG!). They'd be living in a beautiful 2 story brick home complaining about how the government wasn't helping them. You'd ask how they paid for the house. Oh, the goverment. Utilities? Same. The "goverment" was paying for everything from the clothes on their back to the electricity to heat the food that food stamps was buying them.

One guy told us about his cousin. His cousin was evacuated. His cousin got a debit card, an apartment, free utilities, and food stamps. Our driver (we were riding Metrolift at the time) was furious. He'd told his cousin, get a part-time job and save HALF your salary! If you get the lowest-paying minimum wage job, work part-time, and save half your salary, you'll have a four-figure nest egg by the time the benefits end.

Unfortunately, he, like a lot of others, didn't listen. When the year was up, I think most Houstonians had the attitude "OK, you've gotten a fresh start. You should be working by now and supporting yourself." But I would imagine that if you've lived below the poverty line and all of a sudden all your dreams come true, you're not in a hurry to say goodbye? [shrug]

I don't know. The longest I've ever gone without working was one month in December after I was laid off. I was severely depressed and Ron told me to take a month off. I did. Then I went on another job-hunt and applied for unemployment. I'd fill out the forms, (What did you do to seek employment this week?), and tack on an additional piece of paper to demonstrate ALL my job-hunt activities. By the time my third unemployment check was payable, I'd already gotten another job.

When Ron was hurt caregiving was a full-time job. Once I could leave him alone and he could get around somewhat we went back to work. These days, if something happened to Ron I'd apply for disability (I qualified at age 18 but declined, I want to support myself as much as possible). I'd work part-time.

I have high standards. So what if I'm disabled? It won't do me any good to sit around and leech off society, I'm going to contribute as much as I can. My husband - blind, partially deaf, can hardly walk, memory defecits due to his head injury... and works his butt off.

God's provided well for me, but I am certain that some of the lessons we learned from Katrina will shape decisions for decades. It all comes down to a line straight from the Bible. "He who will not work, let him also not eat."

2 Thessalonians 3:10 - For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sticker Shock

We faxed our flood elevation certificate to two different insurance agents for quotes. One guy's already gotten back to us. $600 a year.

We live in a house valued at $68K. We have $53K on the mortgage. We have a 6% chance of flooding in the life of the mortgage.

I'm glad I take my pills. So glad.

Hopefully, Jody, who does our homeowners', can get us a better deal. I like her better anyway.

OUCH! That's a month and a half of mortgage payments.

I'm glad I take my pills.
I got paid today. Always a happy occasion; I do meter readings (the machines keep a running total), "rob" the machines of their bills (I double rubber-band the food machine money because our Rowe Food machines accept $5 bills).

Hm. That brings up a good point. What machines do we have?
* One Royal Vendor soda machine, holds 5 selections, about one case of each. It's the only soda machine we have that belongs to the State.
* One "Vendo" soda machine (property of Dr Pepper - we have a contract)
* One "zombie" (always dead) API food machine. It's still in the shop right now. I tease Ron and tell him the repairman has it set up somewhere, making money. We're doing meter readings when it comes back for that reason.
* One API coffee machine - it's excellent and very well behaved. Ron services it and does an excellent job. I'd drink a cup of coffee out of there anyday.
* One Rowe Snack machine - it's made enough in its' life to pay off our mortgage 4 times. It's nearly 20 years old. I am very fond of it but it's very creaky. Certain activities will make it crash and die. Then I have to come in and fix it.
* Two Rowe Bill changers
* Two Rowe Food machines - great machines. I wish the API worked as well. Unfortunately, Rowe is out of the food vending business (they do jukeboxes now).
* Two Dixie-Narco Soda machines (also belong to Dr Pepper)
* Three API snack machines. They're good little worker bees.

So, I've done the meter readings. I've "Pulled" the bills (in vending lingo, it's called robbing the machines). I put them in my little baggie and go into the "small stockroom" to run the money. Running the money consists of taking off the rubber bands, sorting out any $5 bills that may be mixed in with the singles (hence the double bands on the food machine money), and putting it on the bill counter.

The food machines are harlots. They will take 'most any bill. It's astounding. I generally have to hand-count the food machine bills as I sort out the fives. Even the bank bill counter doesn't like the bills the food machines take. I then "run" all the other bills into hundred packs. To paraphrase what Bruce, the other vendor told us: "Make sure George Washington is facing front. It doesn't matter if he's upside down or right side up as long as he's facing forward." I count 'em and let Ron know the total. After work, I get paid out of the "pull" while Ron generally deposits the rest.

The Linen Expert

Today I went to work, the bank and then we went to Walmart. My meds had me goofy again - it's very frustrating at times. I love being sane. I love the fact that I put $90 into my "fun money" account, been home for hours, been online for hours, and haven't spent a dime. I love the fact that with the sheets I bought my total at Walmart was only $60. I'd been thinking about the sheets for months and I finally decided to splurge.

I have a weakness for nice linens. In 1997 I worked for Strouds "The Linen Experts". They were a very high-end linen shop. One of the first things they did when they hired me was to give me a bath towel. I still have it, I love it, and it utterly ruined me for anything you get at the discount store. YUMMY. Then I was extensively trained for a week (the workbook was over an inch thick and I was a cashier. I knew all the answers - why combed cotton was better than regular, thread counts, Egyptian and Pima cottons, you name it.

I really enjoyed my job - I was unmedicated at the time so you can guess how that went. I had to wear pumps (they wanted me to wear heels but I refused) and a suit to work every day. I made about $7 an hour, but I enjoyed the environment and the customers.

Since it was a high-end store in a wealthy suburb, we got some celebrities. I rang up Barry Bonds once. His total came to some hundreds and four cents. I put in my own change so I wouldn't have to make change for a hundred. He laughed when I asked if he wanted to go on the mailing list. I also rang up Jaqueline Rice (Mrs. Jerry Rice). I rang her up a few times at Target, too, and I always liked her. She was very kind and patient, if all celebrities were like her the tabloids would be out of business.

Some of the "Not so wealthy" would have a bad case of buyer's remorse by the time they got to me. I had a little spiel I'd do about how nice the sheets were, I loved the design, and "Hey, look at what you spend on your car! You spend a third of your life in bed, it might as well be cozy!" They always liked that and then they'd whip out the plastic.

The problem, as I saw it, was Strouds' overly generous return policy. They would take ANYTHING back, in any condition, as long as it had a receipt. People tended to use them as "Strouds rent a sheet". They'd come in and buy a sheet set, telling me how mother in law was coming to visit. Then, three weeks later, they'd be back with an opened package and receipt, and I'd put their money back on their credit card. Oh, that used to bug me! It didn't suprise me when Strouds folded (sorry, couldn't resist) a few years later.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"What do you blog about?"

Someone asked me that today. I was speechless. What don't I blog about?

I told her the first thing going into todays' blog would probably be the "Not So Secret Lovers" (nssl). The nssl are people we know well; each of them is a wonderful, likeable person. The nssl spend long intimate lunches together, talking and giggling quietly. They're a "cute couple". He waits for her to "get free" so they can spend every free moment together. I've seen them kissing, cuddling, and holding hands.

Just one problem; he's married, and not to her. How do, I, as a Christian, react to this? I can't exactly whip out my Bible, screaming about sinners. I can't exactly smile and approve, either. I wrestle with this one every day.

From their reactions to me, I guess they can tell I don't approve, but I'm not going to come out and say it. I can't really. I'm just a vendor's employee. We just ignore each other unless Mr. nssl has a problem with a vending machine, then he goes to Ron. I'm glad I'm not a prophet, let me tell you. All I can do, and do, is pray that God shows them the light. Not to mention Ron's favorite old chestnut "If they'll cheat with you, they'll cheat on you." He found that one out the hard way about 20 years ago.

After work today, we went to KFC, ate, and I went shopping at Half Price Books. I got a gorgeous copy of "Knitting in America" (a nice hardback full color book), two bundles of my "wholesome romance novels" (about 9 books), and some funky vintage knitting patterns. One of them has a pattern for an incredibly cute fairisle vest (once I get rid of the icky square neck).

Which goes back to the knitting, I crocheted a cat toy and stuffed it with some of that wool Bubba demolished (Post: Heather spins up trouble for Bubba). I was going to give it to Mike tomorrow but Bubba has "'jacked" the toy and is currently slobbering and chewing on it. I guess I'll be making more of them. I have some exotic fibers leftover from a sample card I ordered, so I can make the next toy even more intriguing. Yaks! Camels! The fun they'll have (when I'm not looking).

I ordered some "Pidgeon Twist" from Knitpicks about 2 weeks ago. It's a gray and purple twist wool yarn. Now, I love gray yarn, very versatile. I love most any purple yarn. But the two of them together? YUCK! It is NOT MY STYLE at all. Thank God I only ordered one! That's what I'm using for the cat toys. They love wool so they'll enjoy it. [I just got up to investigate the status of the cat toy, Ron says it sounded like a war in there; I found the toy on the floor. The cats perked up when I put it on top of the cat condo.]

Wool, which brings me to when I got home from KFC with Ron today. My "Bacon" arrived! (See post: "Two Strips of Bacon"). So my present is here, in a "Priority Mail" box, waiting for my birthday in 3 weeks. I also got the last book I ordered from Alibris "In Sheeps' Clothing". It's very much a "Fiber Geek" type book for people who want to know everything about the wool they're spinning (like me). Just in case I'm not totally clear, I love the book, I'm happy I spent the $15 plus shipping and waited 2 weeks for it to arrive. It's worth it. The other books I ordered "Hands to the Spindle" about the history of handspinning, knitting and weaving in Texas - very good; and a book about Guernseys and Aran sweaters (to me, it was fairly disappointing, glad I only spent $8).

Tomorrow I get paid and then I'm going to Walmart (bank deposit, groceries, cat food). I need to return something I "took" by accident. I found a cute drawstring top backpack in purple for $5. I snatched it up and bought it. When I opened it up a few days ago I realized it has some school supply items inside. I need to return them - rather, give them back, because I didn't pay for them. I don't want to be a thief. While we're there, Ron needs to get a new VCR because the last one, and the "boom box", have been "Ronned." Ron wants to clarify, the radio works on the boom box. It's only the CD player and tape player that are dead. Oh-kaaay. There's a good reason I used his name as a verb, eh?

It was very sweet today, I really love it when the employees make a point of thanking me for putting out the new microwaves. It makes all the hassles worthwhile. I really love my job.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sometimes when I'm typing I wonder if anyone really reads these. Am I just sending energy out into the void, never to be read? A fleeting glance, "Nah" and then a mouse click? Or do I have a devoted fan club, hanging onto my every word? (Doubtful)

I like to think I have at least a few "regulars" who enjoy reading up on what I've got to say. I know I have family reading this but my freinds either aren't big readers or aren't on the Internet.

I got an email today. The present Ron got me has shipped! I didn't open it because, God forbid, it might have a receipt inside. That would ruin my present.

With my birthday coming up I thought I'd make it easy. Mom and Dad, you gave me the digital camera. You can get me a present NEXT year. A card would be lovely. For our anniversary, Ron would love "The usual".

Others: A copy of "Teach yourself Visually Handspinning" would be awesome.
Um. Wool yarn, in either brights or neutrals.
I'm thinking.
Still thinking.
Ummmmm.
Nothing else comes to mind. That was easy.

Chocolate is out

Last night about 7 PM, I realized I was totally exhausted. I went to bed at 8 and lay awake for the usual long while, then I finally dropped off and slept at least 11 hours straight. I woke up with a mild headache and came to a sad conclusion: Chocolate is OUT. The last 3 times I ate sugarfree chocolate, I got a bad headache. If it progresses the way the peanuts did, eventually headache will undergo a horrifying metamorphasis into migraine. I don't want that, so chocolate's out.

I was really suprised today when I got home from work, tired, went to bed. I slept about 3 hours, and I'm kind of tired again. But the fatigue is a small, minor, price to pay when it comes to my sanity. Ron was having a rough day today and was a little snarly, but I was able to put it into the perspective of "Ron's a little snarly, he must not have slept enough last night" and go on, not taking it personally. I like that.

I'm hearing a lot of thunder right now. The sky's dark, I can see thunder and lightning, but it's not raining over here (seems to be west of us). I really enjoy thunderstorms. My only real gripe is that I can't hear them as well, Ron has a couple of fans running all the time to keep the electric bill down. I don't begrudge him that but I love to hear as much as I can. Oooh, the wind's picking up. The bushes are writhing. God, I missed thunderstorms when we lived in CA.

Our sandwich guy, Ray, gave me some good advice yesterday. He advised me to check Frosty's paw to see if a burr or something was making him limp. Sure enough, he had a small scratch on one of his pads. Frosty's walking a lot better now and we didn't have to terrorize him with a vet visit. He HATES the vet's office. I think it's the smells, the barking dogs, and those horrible instruments. The first time Frosty went to the vet he got neutered. So, I called Ray and thanked him. I love how Ray told me, "All my other Monday deliveries are putting it off 'till Tuesday, so let me know what you're doing." I asked Ron to call Ray and let him know we'll wait 'till Tuesday, too. Tuesday, what an exciting day it will be. 4 deliveries!

We'll be at work on Monday but just to check on the machines. The new microwaves are working out well, the food machines are behaving, and snack sales seemed slow. I didn't get the snack machines today but I will tomorrow.

We had to raise milk prices yesterday; 80 cents per 8 ounces. My sister can remember milk prices of 5 cents. Ron can remember 4 cents. I think it was 20 cents to a quarter for me. This is the first time I can recall seeing such inflation. Green beans, for instance, 40 cents at the beginning of the year, now they're 46 cents. 2 liter generic soda, 50 cents to 67 cents. I remember in economics class they always told us "Recession, drop interest rates and taxes; inflation, raise interest rates and taxes." So, have "they" done that? I haven't paid attention, honestly, but it's disturbing to see prices go up every time I turn around. Take our milk, if we were getting our food cost percentage "right" the milk would cost 90 cents.

I don't think our customers would "go" for that!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Why I HATE the Twilight Zone

About the only thing Ron does, consistently, that bothers me is when he watches those independent TV shows about the Middle East or something, gets really upset and outraged, and wants to talk about it for hours the next day. I tell him "If it upsets you, don't watch it." When he's done with that I have to hear about how reality isn't reality because everything is made of atoms. All the things we think are real, aren't. Humanity is so stupid. etc. When is God going to hurry up and rapture us? Huh? He's tired. Why won't God hurry up? Repeat ad infinitum. When I get tired I start talking knitting, which makes the point for me. He'll listen, to an extent, but then he gets SICK OF IT JUST LIKE I DO and leaves me alone.

I had no idea I was this peeved. I just hate it when I've endured it all day and I finally relax, thinking he's done, I do something I really enjoy (like a knitting message board) and heeee's back! ACK!

His subjects did remind me of the Twilight Zone. I'm assuming you are familiar with the show. If not, you can Google it. Google will love me for this:

1. state of uncertainty: an ambiguous or unsettled state or condition, especially between two opposing conditions such as life and death or reality and fantasy (http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_1861722740/twilight_zone.html)

It wasn't until just now, reading that definition, that I realized why I HATE THE SHOW. My whole life with Bipolar 1, psychotic features (hallucinations and delusions) was a freaking twilight zone between "reality" and "delusion".

I never knew where I'd wake up. Was I going to wake up on hyper-manic-outgoing plane of existence, where people sniggered at me and made jokes because of my erratic behavior? Was I going to risk arrest by waking on the plane of existence where "Laws are good, but I'm beyond them." Or the paranoid "They are out to get me and I'm the only one who sees it" - similar to the episode with William Shatner flying on the plane just after he got out of the mental hospital? I remember him shouting and they're restraining him and he can see the gremlin... that's how I felt with my illness, sometimes.

The black planes... ranging from: "I am a leech on society and no one wants me around." to the horrifying "Kill yourself now...get a knife from the kitchen. Do it! Do it now!" Ugh. Like voices are screaming at you and stuffing you into dark and hellish places, and feeling like the only way to get out is by killing yourself.

Just thinking about it is enough to make my clutch for my bottle of Lithium, cradling it protectively. I took it, don't worry.

An employee at work got caught stealing last week. She was arrested. I don't know what led to it but she ended up killing herself. Was she sick or did she just feel like she didn't want the trial and all? Who knows.

I'm glad I know what's wrong with me, and how to treat it. I can handle Ron's "existentiality" - he's a good man who loves me. Hell, he came back from the dead for me. That's a big deal. He'd never knowingly hurt me or the cats, and he works his butt off to give me everything I need.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

After I finish this post I'm going to log off, eat something, and watch the next killer spider movie on Sci-fi. Give me a ball of yarn and the Sci-fi channel and I'm a happy woman.

I wasn't too happy last night, though. Last night I cast on for a vest I plan to knit. I did a gauge swatch and discovered my gauge (stitches per inch) was 4.5, and 6 rows per inch. I did the math (correctly). I used the same needle (I am a circular needle diva, the only time you'll see straights in my hands are when I am using double-pointed needles to finish a hat). I cast on (put X amount of stitches on the needle to begin knitting).

Since I gained a fair amount of weight last year (when I was up or down, I didn't care what I ate, with blubbery consequences), I had to cast on 116. I did. "Work 3 inches in garter stitch". I did one row. Hm... looks kind of wide, there. I knit another row. I am not that fat! It's not getting better. What the ??? I finish the third row and measure. The back is supposed to be 26 inches wide. It says so right there in the picture - 26 inches. It has the little arrows and diagrams. 26 inches. I measure it. 43 inches.

WHAT? I did a gauge swatch... what happened? The nearest I can figure, the garter stitch edging threw my gauge in the toilet. The directions didn't tell me to knit a gauge swatch in garter stitch, it said "Stockinette stitch". I was very upset last night as I frogged (rip-it, rip-it) all my hard work and wound the yarn back onto the skein.

So today I'm wavering between anger at the STUPID pattern and feeling very idiotic and baffled by my ability to "grow" my knitting. I'm going to try again, knitting a vest front from "Teach Yourself Visually Knitting Design". They have very easy diagrams and directions; you start from your gauge and work from there. You don't try to make your gauge meet their gauge; it meets your gauge.

I plan to make a cardigan vest, that buttons up the front. I'll make the left front and see if it's "right", if it is, I can work on the other front and the back, then seam it all together and finish it. Ron's been a good cheerleader, egging me on. He's made it clear he doesn't want me knitting him anything, though.

Ron just called to me that our snowman (Frosty the cat) came to visit. Frosty had an adventure last night. He bruised his leg and it's a little tender to walk on (he can put weight on it, and is, but he's a little stiff). I gave him some leftover pain medicine from his neuter operation (about a half dose) and he started walking better before he crashed out on top of my dresser. Poor baby HATES going to the vet so we're going to wait on that a few days. Ron's feeding him treats last night.

I'm so awful, though. I "confronted" Ron about an hour ago.
"Go on, tell me the truth."
"What truth?" Poor Ron.
"You know. "
"What?"
"You stepped on him, didn't you?"

Disclaimer, the cats learn very quickly to avoid Ron. The only time either of us stepped on a cat it was me. The offended cat used his claws quite well and it took about a year for the scar on my foot to disappear. Just in case someone doesn't have a sense of humor...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

2 strips of bacon

Ron and I have begun a running joke. My birthday is Sept 22.

Now, we haven't always had good birthdays with me because, until last year, I didn't know I was bipolar. My pattern runs, Depressed in August, Manic in September, Depressed in October (I am a "rapid cycler"). The last several years, manic has generally equalled hostile and paranoid = lousy birthdays.

One thing we've done when I wasn't sick, something that worked well, was make a list. See, when I was a kid Mom would tell me to make a list for my birthday. When I got together with Ron it worked too.

At first, and this always makes me smile, I'd peck away at Ron's old braillewriter. It looks like a mutated, old-fashioned typewriter with only 7 keys. You press down on a combination of keys ("b" is key 1 and 2 at the same time, "A" is key one, "c" is key one and four). I'd always mix up my "I's" and "E's", giving "E lovi you" a whole new meaning.


Then we got our first computer. [Ron needs me outside. Done now. Ron wanted me to check the front yard for fire ants and such. Yes, I found a mound, and I treated it. I try to "go organic" but not when it comes to fire ants. Then I had to wash my hands thoroughly, log on again, etc. ]

So, we got our first computer. Ron got a voice for the computer (making it able to talk). Now I could give him a disk. The things I really want get a star, then I describe it, any relevant ordering info, and a price. Things I'd like, but I'm not dying for don't get a star, but the rest of the information. Ron gets me the starred items, and a few of the unstarred. We're still at that stage.

For my birthday this year I thought for a while. Last year I couldn't even knit, now I'm knitting and spinning (thanks to my pills!). I've even started knitting myself a vest.

I looked around. Pretend Ron has $100, what would I get? Well, I already have 3 spindles. I'm happy with them. I could use some knitting patterns (at $4 each, I picked a couple). I have plenty of knitting supplies, needles and such. Lots of yarn, no urgent needs for more. I finally decided on some knitting patterns and spinning fibers from Paradise Fibers. Bill is a very nice man who helped me pick my first spindle. I knew he'd be great for Ron to call.

Ron was very surprised at my list. I didn't want that much at all (I think I already have a post up about this). And I didn't hear anything from him. About a week ago, I started asking him if he'd made the call yet (went back out to help Ron finish mowing).

No. First it was Hurricane Dean. Why order something? My fibers don't know how to swim, and if we got flooded they'd probably "drown" in transit. The storm passed. "Have you called it in yet". No. Finally, Ron told me he wasn't getting me anything from Paradise. He was going to cook me two strips of bacon and give them to me, with a soda, for my birthday.

I laughed so hard I almost wet myself. And he called it in yesterday. He got Bill and they really took to each other. They were out of the alpaca wool superwash blend (I figured) but they substituted "Something else we know you will like". Yay! I love suprises.

Ron got ready to settle up. "So," Bill asked "Do you want to pay with the card that ends in 4321?" Ron considered it for a moment, knowing that's my debit card. "No, better not.", and gave them his card number.

Oh, boy, I'm getting 2 strips of bacon. It's going to be a good birthday.

"Hit and stop"

It's always odd when I see the man who hit my husband. See, about 5 years ago Ron was run over by one of "our" postal workers as he walked to work. Ron was crossing at a light, he had the light, but "Rick" was in a hurry and blew through the red light. Ooops! There's a blind man, swerve, bang, drag, stop, 911, lights, sirens, etc. When they asked about it at the hospital, I told them it was a "Hit and stop".

I never really understood the whole concept of "God filling you up" with one thing or another, I just kind of said "Yeah, right", with a little dose of "That would never happen to me". So, it's the day after the accident (January 8). I've just had a dreadful encounter with the officer investigating the accident. The officer (he doesn't deserve to be capitalized), began by informing me that he wasn't going to file charges on the man who hit my husband. Then he told me Ron was walking opposite the direction I knew he was going (for that to happen, he would have walked backwards into the street). He stole money out of Ron's backpack (he had the backpack with him, minus the cash, which I discovered when I opened it later), and blamed me to my face for the accident "What did you expect? You let him out of the house by himself!" Oh, excuse me. Where does being blind automatically equate to being incapable? I used to get lost walking in "The City" of San Francisco. I could never find any street signs but Ron always knew were we were, and could direct me to wherever we wanted to go.

So, the officer's just walked off and I'm sitting in my chair, literally nailed to it with shock. I can't believe this man can look at me, with my husband in ICU, could die at any moment (and expected to die), and say something so hateful. I still can't believe someone sworn to "Serve and Protect" could do that. The officer told me the driver's name. We'll call him Rick. Let me tell you, I wanted to give Rick the kind of traumatic injuries that would assure him a spot in the next bed over.

At this point and time, I am on my metaphorical knees begging God for help (and have been since I heard of the accident). I felt like some Biblical figure - similar to Job, plagued by one disaster after another. I believe I asked God for something along the lines of "Help me to be a good example for you, guide the doctors and medical staff, take care of Ron's family, take care of me."

Then the payphone rang. I've been a receptionist (3 years' experience). I had a very difficult time walking away from a ringing phone. Most of the other families are either upstairs visiting (Ron was off for some test, so I couldn't), or at work (I'd been laid off by Ron's boss). I pick it up. The caller, in a quavery voice, asks after Ron. I tell the guy how Ron's doing and he begins to cry. He doesn't know who I am. "My name's Rick" he confides. "I'm the guy who hit him." He's crying, obviously incredibly remoseful, aghast at what he's done... and I was filled up with such a sense of pity. This poor, dumb, ox just wanted to get home. Now he knows he could be a murderer. So began the most bizarre experience of my life: I consoled the man who ran over my husband, telling him if Ron had made it this far, all the doctors were amazed, God was taking care of us all. I even put up a prayer request for him, too.

He called every day for a week, or I'd call him. I'd let him know how things were going. When they took Ron off the ventilator, I stopped calling, but I gave him our home phone number. I'd record a message on our answering machine, people could hear from my own mouth how things were going. When Ron woke up and could talk, I'd have him on the "Ron update" too.

Rick's insurance paid us $2,000. The hospital had a $303,000 lien on any settlements we'd get, so they got $10K. The lawyer got $8K for haggling the hospital down from $303K to $10K, and we got the 2 thousand dollars. We see Rick periodically.

Ron's permanently damaged. He has more risk factors now for various illnesses. It wasn't a bump on the head, it was massive trauma, permanent brain damage (but not bad, considering), partial paralysis of his right side, 2 years in a wheelchair, traumatic arthritis, broken leg, broken ribs, heart operations, collapsed lung, road rash, and facial scarring (he didn't have a forehead after the accident, but the mole he hated was gone too).

Thanks to Rick, we closed the deli. The deli days were so hideous the word "deli" is considered a profanity in my house. Our lives improved in many respects. We try not to look at what we've lost, but what we've gained.

I guess it isn't too odd, after all, that I always smile and wave whenever I see Rick.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Backpack Evangelism

The State of Texas doesn't have the money to repair our microwaves, so we're going to have to make do with a cheap discount store microwave. Tough. We were told one guy set his popcorn on fire in the last microwave, and he was "angry" about it. Implication: he was angry enough to slam the door hard enough to break the latches. A lot of cold lunches in their future.

I've had really persistent headaches the last couple days, I just took some Alka-Seltzer for the first time. It's supposed to be fairly gentle to stomachs, so I'll see. Luckily the headache is more at the moderate level.

I went to Michael's crafts today. Wow! They eliminated 90% of their acrylics, now it's just novelty, baby, and wool yarns. Yay! I got myself a 32-inch size 8 circular needle, too. I've been wanting one. They have a pretty decent collection of wool yarn - I just need to get some white wool yarn so I can make my Santa hat for this winter. I bought myself a yummy skein of Patons Merino in Turquoise. I love turquoise, this hat will be MINE, and a matching scarf in something like seed stitch (brainless yet challenging for me, won't curl).

I had some fun in the button department. If I plan to make myself some sweaters and legwarmers, I'll need buttons. Fun buttons. I got some that even Ron found interesting, and a cheap "bead organizer" in which to store them. I didn't get any pattern books. I just receieved three, then Ron will be getting me at least 2 patterns for my birthday.

I had one of those "It must be my life" experiences today. We were at the Starbucks by Willowbrook mall today. Ron was drinking his coffee "With enough creamer to make it beige" - works well for him (my idea). I had gone to the craft store. I came back and I was sorting my buttons into the organizer, and showing Ron the ones I found interesting while we waited on Metrolift.

I couldn't help overhearing a guy nearby discussing Bible Study, witnessing, and living a good Christian life. When his freind stepped out to get something out of the car, I told him it was nice to hear other people sharing their faith in public. Sometimes I feel all alone (so get to a CHURCH, chicken... but they won't like me!). He came over and I told him a little about us. How I grilled Ron about being saved on the first date, how Ron died and saw Heaven, but had to come back, Ron's impatient to go back... our usual.

He handed me a book. "I wrote this, I'd like you to have it!" I'm now the proud owner of Backpack Evangelism by Lee Rushing, who's a very nice man. Psalm 71:14-19 is written inside the front cover, along with his autograph.

It could only happen in MY life. [shaking my head in disbelief] I'm definitely reading it.

My head does feel better.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"The Snackinator"

Last week, Ron wanted to bring home some snack foods from work. He asked me what we had, and I read them all off. Plain Lays and Ruffles, BBQ Ruffles, Cheddar Ruffles, Chili Cheese Fritos, Cheetos, Sour Cream and Onion Lays, and the Zapps chips.

"Nah," he said "I don't want any of that. Don't we have anything different?" I had to tell him no.

When the time came to make my Vistar order, I got different alright. I'd been eying the Dave & Thomas Honey Mustard Popcorn in the catalog. The other vendors sell the "Movie Theater" popcorn (which is delicious, btw). Why not?

"Ew!" Popcorn should be plain, cheddar, or caramel flavored, Ron told me. Honey mustard was wierd. No one would buy it. The idea was awful. I told him he wanted "Different" and I have good instincts on these things. My Jalapeno Zapp's chips are huge, people will walk out of their way to come buy them from us. Didn't he trust me? Aren't I "The Snackinator?"

Oh-kaaaaay. They arrived yesterday. I gave Ron a bag. I don't like mustard. I'm a ketchup girl, and I don't like spicy foods. The popcorn was very flavorful, but not my thing at all. Ron's hand reached into the bag, he ate some.

"Hmm" He goes, "It's different. I keep expecting a cheddar flavor but I get Honey-mustard". The hand dove into the bag again, he ate some more. The hand dove into the bag again. I pretended to take it away from him, and he resisted, as the hand dove into the bag yet another time.

We brought home three bags from work today. We gave a bag to Mike. He ate it, and bought 2 more. We gave one to the driver, who had the same reaction. The "reach" time on each sucessive mouthful gets faster and faster. The more they eat, the more they love it.

Ron inhaled the blazing hot peanuts I got, too. We've got something different.

On Genetics

I get migraines. My Mom did, and so did my Maternal Grandmother. My maternal grandmother (Hopie) was not an "easy" person, but she and I have some creepy similarities.

She had some kind of paranoid schitzophrenia (whoo, tough to type that!). I have type one Bipolar with psychotic features. She smothered her food with salt, so do I. I probably eat a couple grams of salt a day; and I go through about 4 packets of salt at a fast food restaurant.

Today I started to get a migraine. As soon as I got home, I took 4 ginger root capsules (they cost about $4 for a hundred at Walmart). When Hopie got a migraine, she always ate candied ginger root (which I love).

Odd.

Monday, August 20, 2007

.2%

Well. Ron had me to some research today on floodplains. We're in the .2% floodplain; or .2% chance of flooding in any given year. Put another way, 6% chance over the life of the mortgage. We're also in the "shallow" floodplain; basically, if we get an overhwhelming (like Allison, 36 inches in 12 hours) amount of rain in a very short period of time, flood city. Squish, squish.

That's not so bad, really. We can certainly live with that.

I feel terrible for Mexico, it looks like Hurricane Dean is going to get them. But then, who'd wish a hurricane on anyone?

We got up at 3 AM today to go to work and receive our deliveries. Ron and Mike both loved the Honey Mustard popcorn; I tried it, but it's too spicy for me. The company was out of the Jalapeno chips, so hopefully the customers will give these a try.

The employees managed the feat of killing all three of our microwaves (commercial) at one time. It is aggravating to watch some guy get his leftovers or takeout, use our condiments to season their food, heat it up in our microwave, use our sporks to eat it, and not drop a nickel in any of our vending machines. It's in our contract, we provide microwaves, condiments, and plasticware. I don't object to that. But I do object to Sally and Sam Take-Out breaking our microwaves and then getting an attitude with us over the fact that they're broken. The one that gets me really mad? When they hand me a $20 and ask for change, then they go pay someone else for a meal.

Three Commercial microwaves? You are beyond check-writing-the-state-will-pay-us-eventually and well into "Purchase Order" territory. It's going to be weeks at least before they're fixed. Ron got really angry at one guy who got an attitude with him over the microwaves. I'm going to try to approach it as "Humorous comeback" opportunity when people start giving us grief. "When are you going to fix the microwave?" "Well, we're starting a collection, save the microwaves, would you like to contribute?" The cranky ones will get the "We have to get a purchase order from the state because the microwave is state equipment" (all true). It's just aggravating, especially since the complainers NEVER spend any money in the vending machines. Maybe it will be good for sales.

The Donut guy's wife had the baby 6 weeks early. But the baby's fine, well over 5 pounds and already at home. By the time he grows into the hat I made he'll be ready for it. I know she must be happy to have him out with those "feels-like" temperatures of over 100. Poor mom! Poor baby! Now they can both hang out in the air conditioning.

Ron just discovered our insurance agent's fax number, the end of it, spells B-O-R-G. "You will be assimilated, resistance is futile"? Sounds like the mortgage company. Resisting the is futile, we have to get flood insurance. I don't object but Ron minds being forced to it.

It's been a long day. I'm going to take a nice tepid bath later and have a good night's sleep.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The gun catalog

Just now, I saw a hand clenching the side of our fence. What the heck is going on, I thought. Slowly, a head levered itself over the fence and the woman who moved in last month (next door) surveyed our yard. I tapped on the window, loud enough that she heard me, and she looked up. I then closed the window blinds. If she wants to say something about our yard, she can come and say it, otherwise I'm going to blow it off. I'll tell Ron, though, just so he knows.

So we have a nosy neighbor. Their yard looks pretty bad, too. A year ago, I would have been outside, raving loudly. I would have been enraged, livid, furious. Next step, paranoia. How long has she been watching us? Why has she been watching us? I would have gone out there screaming and definitely would have ended up with very poor relations between us, at best. Assuming I wasn't depressed; then I'd be curled up into a ball of misery.

I guess the thing that's really struck me about the difference between this year and last year - the gun catalog. In mid-August every year, the sporting goods store sends out the gun catalog. It features handguns starting about $200, shotguns starting at $100. Last year I kept staring at the low-cost shotgun page; not even articulating my fierce desire to go buy one. There's only one reason I'd ever buy a shotgun. Suicide. It scared me enough that I actually went to my doctor and eventually got diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

"I'm bipolar." I told the woman in the office today. I think everyone who deals with me on a regular basis ought to know. That way, if I'm up or down, or just acting weird people at least know why. Sometimes, like just now, it hits me. I'm bipolar.

I'm bipolar. It's not something I want, smile as I may, try to put a good face on it ("We have a tremendous creative impulse, did you know even Hitler didn't dare kill us off?"). I hate it. It makes me sad. All the "Normals" can go from day to day, with no flunctuation in their moods. They don't have to be afraid of what they'll do to themselves or other people (unless they get really drunk, I guess). They don't have to be afraid of their own brains, their own moods, their own thoughts. I'll never know that feeling; I will always question my excitement at finding a new knitting pattern or coming up with a new craft idea. "Am I really happy? Should I be this enthusiastic, or am I just sick?" I hate the whole doubting myself. I hate the way Ron looks when I'm angry for no reason and I can't stop myself, right before he retreats, muttering under his breath angrily at God. Double and triple-checking my words and actions before I do something irrevocable. Or the weird compulsions I get when I'm depressed (never acted on). The battles I fight alone in my head, and if I try to tell anyone they either get scared or angry.

"My strength is made perfect in weakness, therefore, rather, I will glory in my infirmities so the power of Christ may rest more fully on me." 2 Corinthians, 12:9

"For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be with God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

I'll never own a gun. Never. That's one thing.

The Sci-fi channel had a show on, some of the teasers depicted people blowing their own heads off. I can choose not to watch that. Why would I ever need to see people commiting suicide? Never.

So I hang onto my faith in God. In the Bible, it talks about the Armor of God. The shield is the shield of faith. Mine has certainly taken a fair share of blows!

I try to treat everyone like they're Jesus, and find something nice to say or think about people who've "bothered" me. That neighbor? She's nice to my cat. Thumbs up.

And I take my pills, and report any problems to my doctor. Thank God all the wierd crawly sensations (a type of hallucination) are gone. I don't have any more delusions - as long as I take my medication. Overall, life is good. I guess I'm still in the grief process for my "sanity".

I find it incredibly sad that I had this illness for over 25 years, since I was a CHILD, and remained undiagnosed, suffering, for so long. Maybe a lot of my sadness is related to that. My life could have been so different, but that's not what God wanted.

I don't see how he can use me like this, but He's the boss.

Onto Happier Subjects

I found the perfect knitting pattern. A couple years ago, I had my beloved charcoal heather-gray hoodie. It was one of those cheap poly-cotton "Sweatshirt" hoodies but I wore that thing every day. I've been looking for something evocative of my beloved hoodie. Zippered front. Hood. Cozy and comfortable. Well, I found it in a most unlikely place.

First of all, I'm going to make a child's vest and donate it to some needy child. A small child's vest will be good practice and I get to do a good deed at the same time. Win-win. Then, I plan to make myself a vest; probably the "Albion" vest pattern from Oat Couture (I already ordered the pattern). Then, the hoodie. Technically, it's the "Lady's hooded Cardigan" from the Bernat Urban Camouflage pattern book. In my humble opinion, most of the items are absolutely hideous in the "recommended" yarns. UGH! But, with a little imagination I can see a nice cozy sweater for me, some convertible fingerless gloves, maybe in an angora or cashmere blend yarn, and a happy Heather. I love the patterns and I imagine this $4 book will be the jumping-off point for hours of constructive labor. The patterns are well-written and my cardigan pattern is rated "Easy".

I ordered a nice gray twist yarn from Knitpicks to make "my" vest, the child's vest will probably come out of my turquoise wool-ease. I have between 400-500 yards and I think that will be plenty. If not, I'll throw in a few stripes or a contrasting edging.

I'm also spinning some brown Corridale and some black/brown Romney-Perendale wool. Then I'm going to ply them together. I pulled off about 24 grams of each, spin, stick on a "Plying Rod" ala Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. Then ply them together for a nice, subtle twist yarn. If I like it I'll do more (I have about a pound of each) and I might use that in a vest for myself or Ron.

Ah, possibilities.

9 inches below flood plain

The surveyor came out today. Bad news. Our house is 9 inches below the flood plain! He nodded sagely when I told him the story of the airboats causing waves to crash into the house during Tropical Storm Allison (we didn't live here yet). Apparently, I should expect this in the future.

Anyway, it's discouraging. Our real estate agent obviously skipped her "Ethics" class - she lied to us and told us we were NOT in the flood plain. Thanks a lot. The surveyor was a nice guy with very reasonable prices so I'm glad of that. But we're probably looking at another several hundred dollars a year in insurance.

Ironically, we don't qualify for coverage with Hurricane Dean headed for the Gulf (of Mexico), so we'll have to wait and see - if we flood, then we have to get coverage that won't cover the flooding we'd already be dealing with. Or maybe nothing will happen with Dean and we'll just be crying over our lost money. At any rate, all our treasures are in Heaven.

Worst case I'll prop up my footstool/yarn storage box. I spent a lot of time staining it and it holds all my most favorite yarn. My Bibles and Grandma's knitting basket on my bed. Everything else that isn't furniture is already in a plastic storage box. The cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom are intact (vintage 1985), and our carpeting is old enough that it's obvious it didn't get damaged during our last flood event (although if it did get ruined, I wouldn't cry too hard. It's kind of an icky brown. Something like a mauve would rock! I have an idea about "Sandbags" I could make if we do start to flood, so worry shelved.

Tomorrow we're going to Walmart. I'd feel better if we got some plastic sheeting and maybe another 5 gallon bucket. I also want some more Cherry Cola Diet Rite (In my perfect world, I have a soda fountain that flows Diet RC, Diet Dr Pepper, and Cherry Cola Diet Rite.

Now, all that said, it looks like Dean will hit Northern Mexico, or the Brownsville area. Nice for us in Houston, but I believe the meteorologist who told us to wait until tomorrow before we count our chickens.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I've spent two tropical storms at work now

The first tropical storm was Allison. 36 inches in about 8 hours. The place wasn't his yet, so we had to watch the other guys' employees walk out the door while hungry postal workers milled around, complaining about their hunger and thirst.

This time, I told Ron I didn't care how early we had to get up, I wanted us there and gone early. We had to get up at 5 AM but we got home before the rain hit. Thunderstorms, flooding, the usual with any kind of tropical event in Houston. We went in today, too. I was sure glad we did. In the first 30 seconds I ensured "Soda 2" would accept bills - it has a trick validator. It won't take bills if we get a storm. Now it did. Then one of the food machines was hinky; a coin jam AND a dead validator. Fixed that. Snacks were pretty dead (the machines were full and didn't require stocking), so I helped Ron out by stocking soda machines, etc. Even though rain is forecast, AND it's the tax-free-weekend (insane shopping and traffic), we're going in tomorrow, too. Early-ish, so I'll live.

Onto the knitting part. Today, after work, we went to Burger King. Ron and I had a ritual of going to Cracker Barrel every Friday because he loves their fish. He's reading Dave Ramsey's Money Makeover book and realized the Cracker Barrel was costing us over a thousand a year. I told Ron, frankly, that I'd rather go to Burger King today. Two meals, and 4 extra tacos for Ron - $13, about half of a Cracker Barrel visit. My aunt and uncle originated the $2 date, so Ron was thrilled we cut the cost of our Friday date in half. I told Ron that Stacker was the tastiest thing I could have imagined eating. It was good!

A nice side effect of my Lexapro - I'm not compelled to gorge on carbohydrates. I ate some fries, and stopped. I've been blessed, the Lithium side effects haven't been as bad recently. I hope it keeps up, I'll sure enjoy it while it lasts!

And onto the knitting. Ron hung out at Burger King while I went to Half Price books. I found a very interesting garter stitch hooded sweater pattern, I envision a zipper and a few minor changes (3/4 sleeves instead of full-length). I also found some other fun books and a boatload of my favorite "wholesome" romance novels. I got 21 of them for a little under $10. I also got some Christian biographies and an NIV concordance for $5.

After we got home, I thought on it for a while and decided to buy some yarn online, along with a few other vest patterns (one is a hoodie design, with pockets and a zip-front - perfect!). I plan to start on a very easy beginner vest, finish that up, wear it around a while, and then maybe make some other things if I feel inclined.

As I type, thunder booms and I see crashes of lighting all around. It's sure nice to be safe and warm, inside, in a storm like this. I'm glad I have a well-equipped disaster kit. It looks like we may have a full-blown hurricane headed our way next week.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

YOYO - or I come from Earthquake country

"I come from Earthquake country" I say, as I explain the fact that I actually have a disaster kit. In California, near the San Andreas fault, you never know when "The Big One" will hit. One minute you could be watching your television (my husband) or reading a romance novel while lying in bed (myself) and then WHAM! Your furniture is possessed, jumping all over your house like it's trying to kill you. Large things are trying to fall over and smash you (my husband), bookcases go flying, you hide (if you can - I never knew I could fit under a standard sized pillow but I managed it), scream, and beg God not to take you yet.

When it's all over, if you aren't injured and your house is intact, you take stock. You have no electricity for sure. Utility companies advise turning off your gas, and in a bad quake you don't have any water either. All you've got are the contents of your DISASTER KIT. You're going to live off that until things get better and things can be restored, or you can go live with someone in an area that wasn't affected.

I survived a 7.1 earthquake. It only knocked out the power for a few hours, and we got a few days off of school. I lost a potted plant, Mom lost some breakables, but that was it. The one thing that really surprised me were the CAR ALARMS. Ugh. Wailing and wailing up and down the street. We didn't lose any utilities other than the electric, so dinner came out of cans (opened with manual openers).

It taught me a valuable lesson. Now we've got Tropical Storm Erin, gaining strength, in the Gulf. It's only about a day away.

I went to Wal-mart this morning. NO ONE was there! No one! I got my prescriptions refilled (no way am I running out of Lithium in a hurricane, uh-uh). I bought a few cans of generic spaghetti rings and the individual-sized applesauces (great for taking my pills). So, tonight, tomorrow, the panic hits the fan. HURRICANE!

I have my canned food. I have my 5-gallon buckets (eight of them). I have a 5-gallon water carrier with a spout (more hygenic than the buckets). I have a solar shower. I'd be very surprised if we lost the gas, it's all underground. Unless flooding gets truly hellish, we'll have clean water too. I expect we might lose electricity, so I've got canned food for the both of us for a couple weeks.

Still don't have my Walton's food yet, it's a good thing it wasn't a cornerstone of my disaster kit. Extra cat food. Battery-operated fans. Hand-crank lantern. Battery-powered TV, lamps, and extra batteries. You get the idea.

I heard a great phrase in Popular Mechanics magazine (they had an article on surviving disasters) : YOYO. You're On Your Own.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I got it all over with today

It wasn't a bad day, but it's the kind of day where I get home, sit down, and thank God for my medication. It started out harmlessly enough. Ron woke me up at 5-something. He left a soda in the bathroom for me (incredible motivation - I am truly addicted to my diet sodas). I got up, took my pills.

I prepared my "box" - it's an 18 gallon sterilite tote box with a snap on lid. I couldn't get the lid to snap into place, though! My other box is fine, what's the deal with this STUPID! AAAGH! Ron wanted to know, I told him, he said "You have the wrong lid for the box". Stupid indeed. So I took my other, first box. It contained my knitting bag, purse, "cold bag" (an insulated 6-pack tote I use to keep cold foods cold), and my list.

Then I dropped my deodorant while dressing and mutilated it pretty badly. AGH! Luckily I had already applied it.

Got dressed, ate a sugarfree pudding cup, took my pills. All set. We had a good ride to work.

When we got to work, two machines were down; one had an awful coin jam, and the other had a joke of a dollar bill wadded up in the validator - meaning it couldn't accept any bills. Needless to say, the "Pulls" on those machines were weak. I pulled the money, ran it, enough to pay me. Got the sandwiches (they were never going out of business -weird!), did a couple of things for Ron. Time to go.

While leaving, I almost blacked out from the heat - it was that bad! I don't understand any of those idiots who go running in this kind of weather - there are far better ways to kill yourself if that's your goal. Our pickup was late, and right as he pulled in the arm broke off my glasses. I'm trying to steer Ron, carrying the box, while holding my glasses to my head with a hand that's also holding an open can of diet soda. NOT FUN!

I had Ron dig through "Knitty" my knitting bag to find my glasses case. I took out the sunglasses (the type that fit over your existing glasses) and put the two pieces of my glasses inside. Now, I've never been a huge fan of them. I lost a screw and had an arm fall off this pair before. With my old plastic-framed glasses, I never had that problem. I had one pair I wore for 5 years before I replaced them. They won't break unless they're dropped or impacted somehow. Now I'm effectively blind.

My vision isn't too bad, it's like an extreme case of needing reading glasses. I can read, somewhat, if I squint hard. So, I'm at the bank. No glasses. A "pull" (which I'll say was more than just my pay). Luckily I was able to squint Rod through the blur. No waiting, which was a good thing, our next pickup = 25 minutes. But Rod's good. I got paid, the remainder got deposited, and I still had about $15 in my pocket! Let's hear it for Lithium!

So, our next ride pulls up. She's a nice young lady, has one of those gold-tooth "grillz". I could see the shine and I was able to greet her, got Ron seated in the back with the box. A straight trip to Walmart! We got out, everyone is doing double-takes and teasing me. I moan about my "broken leg", while waving the "victim" in the air.

We ate. I went to the eyeglass place. It needs to be soldered? Another store? The guy's giving me directions and I am telling him, I can't drive. I don't drive. Don't bother. Now I have an hour and a half at Walmart and I can't really see that well.

I got all my shopping, including a great postal scale for $20. I can use it to weigh skeins of yarn, my first skein of Corriedale is 1 ounce exactly, for instance. I took out the broken glasses and I'd hold them up to my face so I could read various labels (like the battery size on the postal scale). More num-num's for the cats (canned food). Food. Deposit. I don't remember what-all now. Anyway, we had a great ride home.

Thankfully, I had stored my old glasses. I'm wearing them now and they're working great, a little better than the broken pair, to be honest. Whatever prescription these are is closer to what I need, so I'm just going to keep wearing them. They have bigger lenses, too, and they don't FALL DOWN MY NOSE all the time either.

My next pair of glasses? Plastic frames.

Like I told the guy behind me in line at McDonald's - "I know the rest of this week is going to be fantastic! I got it all over with today!" He laughed.

Friday, August 10, 2007

So, while I was laying there in bed, unable to sleep...

I thought about aromatherapy. I tried everything to get to sleep last night, calcium tablets, hot bath, reading something boring, and finally the Benadryl. If I can get to sleep, the Benadryl will do it.



As I prepared to lie down again, I sprinkled a few drops of lavender essential oil on my pillow. The next thing I remember, the alarm was going off.



Aromatherapy is basically "Take a whiff of this, it'll help you feel better". I have always loved the citrus aromas (orange, lemon, grapefruit), which are very balancing for someone with my illness. When I'm depressed, it helps lift my mood. If I'm manic, it helps ground me. I have a bottle of orange essential oil on the table next to "my chair". Thankfully, I don't have to use it much. Neroli is a wonderful orange blossom fragrance. It isn't cheap but you can't beat it for anxiety. When I was having a ghastly day and freaking out, a couple whiffs of neroli could calm me down like nothing else. Others I love for depression are the woodies, pine, fir, and cedar. They really invigorate me. I love going outside at work on a hot day and standing under the pine tree. MMMMM! Bracing, fresh, and indescribably yummy. They also help ground me when I'm manic.



One thing I found surprisingly effective when I had trouble sleeping - Patchouli bubble bath! I love that stuff, it helps me sleep and Ron enjoys it too (I suspect it reminds him of the wild times he had in the 70's). And, of course, the lavender oil.



I don't use any aromatherapy when I have a migraine. Any kind of aromas just aggravate the symptoms, so I just stick to my stalwart ice pack.



In conclusion, the nicest thing, for me, is the fact that the same aromatherapy can work for both sides of my illness. Many times aromatherapy sites say "Use this one for depression, oil b for insommnia, c for anxiety, and spend spend spend." One or two essential oils can make a huge difference in managing my symptoms.



I usually will put a drop on my pillow, or hold the bottle under my nose and inhale a few times. Easy as pie!

No more Sudafed!

We had weeks of rain recently, then record-setting heat. Needless to say, the allergen levels are through the roof!

I recently got out my freindly little red tablets, the Sudafed. "Back in the day", every time I took them, they'd make me manic. I didn't know from "Manic" at the time, but I did know I could never get to sleep, spent all my money, etc. Generally I wavered between suffering with allergies and suffering with manias. I told one doctor who told me that no, Sudafed couldn't do anything like that to me. Little does he know!

A few years ago the methamphetamine addicts forced the FDA to require the Sudafed guys to reformulate their product. Happily, the new product worked for me and I could take it as needed with no manias.

Until now. As I lay awake in bed last night, thanking God for various things (I figured He didn't need me whining), I decided this had to go in my blog. See, that's the thing with Bipolar; sometimes it doesn't make sense. Sometimes you can be taking an over the counter remedy and all of a sudden, you can't. Sometimes an old standby prescription will cause you new and untenable side effects.

But like one of my favorite songs, I gotta "Roll With it Baby" and move on. No more Sudafed; I'll be taking the Guiafenesin tablets or syrup instead.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I owe knitting and spinning to my pills

We usually take Thursdays off if we can. Last Thursday, I was prostrate with a migraine. Today, I could have been. We went to KFC yesterday and I ordered a side dish of macaroni and cheese. It had the lurid, unnatural hue that I've learned comes from Food Dye Yellow #5, a major "trigger" for me. You couldn't have paid me to eat it! I feel fine today, I'm so glad I could literally see the trouble brewing, and today, we had lots of fun.

We started off with a trip to Walmart, where I got 3 cases of my favorite diet decaf soda. Happily, I still have about half of this weeks' budget. I still haven't gotten my dehydrated food from Walton's, but they haven't charged me, either. We got great trips to and from Walmart, then home. I put away the groceries and Chuck came by. We went out to breakfast, then looked at steel carts. They won't work for us, but all 3 of us had fun looking around at the hardware store. Ron agrees with me - hardware stores have distinct fragrance, a combination of rubber and wood.

After we came home (and Chuck left to have a life of his own) I took a nap. Oh, yeah. It is so hot in Houston, heat indices of over 100 degrees, all I want to do if I can is sleep every afternoon. Ron went to Starbucks.

After I woke up I spun some Merino wool (I bought 4 ounces of it a while back). I started on the "easy" wools at first, but Merino is supposed to be a little more tricky. I'm doing fine and having a lot of fun with it. My fibers are starting to take over the living room, so I'm putting a "stop" on any more purchases for a while. Besides, I have plenty on my wish list at Paradise Fibers! I also have wish-listed some knitting patterns too. I can see myself actually wearing a vest, for instance, but I really doubt I'd wear a sweater much, even in the winter.

While Ron mowed the front yard, I got out the camel and my small spindle. Oh, I love my Nordic spindles! They make spinning so fun and easy! A couple of tries, and BOOM! I was spinning thread-fine camel yarn. HOO-YEAH! I'm positively eager to get back to it. I got the camel top from R.H. Lindsay (http://www.rhlindsaywool.com/products/index.htm); it was an incredibly good deal. I'm really glad I got it, I can see I'm going to have a lot of fun with this incredibly soft, luxurious, glorious naturally colored camel top. I also ordered a pound of black/brown wool - I intend to ply it with my lighter colored brown Corriedale to make a gorgeous, soft, subtle yarn. Then I've got the gray and the cream...I'm having so much fun with this.

I owe knitting and spinning to my pills. I was incapable of knitting at all "before" and I never even considered spinning. I may get a little "Stony" as Ron calls me, but it's a lot better than the savage monster I used to be. [shudder] Or worse yet, the depressions. UGH. Before, I'd have had so much noise in my head I wouldn't have been able to do any research, practice getting it right, had the motivation to think I could try a new hobby, or the spare money to invest in supplies.

Remember, I make a MODEST salary, so every penny counts. I try to view things as "Would I work an hour for this?" I divide the cost of the item by my hourly wage. Say, the new spindle. That was about 3 hours' labor. I figured it was worth it, and it took me 5 minutes of using it to be glad I spent the money.

I'm envisioning the camel yarn, knitted up into a cozy warm vest. Camel yarns are incredibly durable and very resilient, so that's something I'd feel "safe" wearing to work. I'm also considering another vest knitted out of that black-brown/warm brown Corriedale. The brown Corriedale is actually kind of funny. It has a few silver threads running through it and it's the EXACT color of my hair (gray and all), so I always think of it as "Heather Brown".

Off I go to research the properties of camel yarn. Take care!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

64 people!

EEEK! We have about 64 people here for some kind of safety meeting/training session. They're like a swarm of incredibly polite locusts, descending on our machines, clink, clink, goes the money, the coils rotate, the snacks and sodas drop and silence. They start eating and drinking and leave.



I love my job. My snack machines were WEAK though, so I had to go to "The Warehouse" and buy candy bars. I should have gotten Cheetos but I'm BRAIN DEAD. Anyway, the machines looked a lot better at the end of my work day than they did when I started. Yay! Snickers, Peanut M&M's, fixed the thing that was going out on my snack machine #2 (I hope), alerted Ron to a coin jam error message, etc.



My back's a little sore from lugging around those candy bars. I really enjoy my job, but who would have thought it'd be vending. Whew. I sure earned my keep today, and I'm not complaining. I kept thanking everyone, because they pay the mortgage.



Speaking of, what the [expletive] is going on with this {!} "Elevation Certificate"? Huh? We got a letter from the Mortgage company "You need to get flood insurance". OK, we don't have a problem with that. All they want is "Structure", not even contents, just enough to cover the balance on the mortgage (about $50K). Ideally, I'd like to get a thousand or so in "contents" because if my yarn and books get ruined in a flood that would be a sad, sad day.



Ron calls a flood insurance place. They tell him they need an "Elevation Certificate". Where does he get such a creature? Oh, it has to come from a surveyor. We call a surveyor. FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS? I'm cutting back on profane language but you can IMAGINE. Hello! That's what I make in a month!



For five hundred dollars, we had a property inspection and an appraisal, or an appraisal and a structural engineer. You get the idea. The poor structural engineer had to climb around in a baking hot hell of an attic for half an hour and then spend more time out in the heat checking out the foundation... you get the idea. I want more than just some weenie with a tripod for 5 minutes.



What. A. Scam. Ron's going to call one of those radio home shows and ask is that the going rate? Why are things this way? We have a mortgage, I thank God that we do. I thank God that we are homeowners and the house is so perfect for us. But I really HATE it that they can say "Go cough up $1,000 (when it's all done, I figure at least that much) or else." And we have to do it.



Well, it's a lot better than a landlord, or some of the places we used to live. At least here the UPS and mail carrier can leave packages on my doorstep. I got my wool! I got some black wool, white wool, and a pound of incredibly soft and yummy camel top. It is so pretty, a nice reddish brown, not that yucky "Camel" beige color.



I'm going to go eat, take my Lithium, do my Bible reading, spin, and think of happy things.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Certain Mondays are about as bad as it gets for me at work. I have to wake up at 3 AM, eat, take my pills (I'd better!), go to work. Receive several hundred dollars' worth of junk food, about 10 trays of donut and pastry products, and over a hundred dollars worth of sandwiches. Helping Ron, of course, and taking care of "My" snack machines. But then, having done all that, I'm generally off around 9-10 AM when a lot of people are just getting started, or taking their first coffee break. Not bad!

Today was a little sad, and a little "Boy, I'm glad I listened to God". Now, obviously I'm bipolar. Yes, I will have delusions if I don't take my pills. I will have strange and paranoid thoughts, feel invisible bugs crawling on me, and occasionally hear things that aren't there. To be a total geek, though, I have to clarify and say the last two are "Hallucinations" and not delusions. OK, back to subject. Having said all that, you can be certain I DO take my pills. Occasionally I'll get a prompting I'll feel is from God. If it's not paranoid, I'm inclined to follow up.

Sometimes it's "Go talk to that person" "Tell the driver you will pray for them" and my favorite "Make/give that person an afghan" - stuff like that. So, today, I got a prompting, "Take Ray (Sandwich guy) one of your new paperback Bibles." OK, I can do that, but why? I see Ray every week. I don't want him to think I'm some kind of fanatic. It's bad enough being "crazy"!

I did it. I told him, hey, I want to be at least as assertive as those Mary Kay salespeople, or the JW's, or whatever. I'm a Christian, it's really sustained me through some awful times. So, here's a Bible, I'd love you to have it, but I'm not gonna beat you over the head with it. He said thanks, and then he said, "How did you know?"

I asked him what. Today's his last day, he explained. "The old lady sold the business, so I quit, I just wanted to say goodbye to you and my other regulars." Totally unexpected. I'm going to miss him. Imagine if I hadn't taken him the Bible. I'll most likely never see Ray again. I would have missed an awesome opportunity (he took it happily, by the way).

I also noticed that someone helped themselves to one of my "Free books" and re-tacked up the "Read the Bible in a Year" tract I left out. Yay! I love to think about other people getting the comfort I've gotten from God's word.

On a totally different note, it's going to be exciting next week. God only knows how much our "new" sandwich company will raise prices. According to Ray, they've been bleeding red ink for a long time. We have another option, with the "R" company. Worst case, we'll move to them, but I'm going to miss Ray. We used to stand outside gossiping like a couple of old ladies, swapping back sci-fi novels. [sigh] I'll pray for him to get an awesome boss who values and respects him.

My beloved Postal Service. I gotta love them, and thank God that when I mailed Sue's afghan (she got it!), I sent it UPS. Ask me why. Today, when I came home, I found a priority mail package on my doorstep. It was clearly marked "Fragile", one end was totally crushed in, and it looked like a large person had sat on it. The half ounce spindle was fine, amazingly. It reminds me of another Priority mail package, 10 years ago now. It had a one pound glass jar of honey, and some tea. It also sported treadmarks over the top of the crushed-in-box. And, again, amazingly, it was fine. God's protection, I guess. That's why, every time I ship something, I pack it to get thrown down at least one flight of stairs.

The only package I'm still waiting on is the wool from RH Lindsay. Two pounds of wool, one pound of "Camel Top, dehaired". Yee-ha! I call it "fun".

I finished Ron's "No-eye-holes" ski mask. He LOVES it. It's about 16 inches long, in a wool-mohair blend (Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted, and a few small striped in Paton's Merino). It's mostly a heathery denim blue, with a few gray heather stripes. It is always difficult for me not to capitalize heather but in this case it's lower case. The stripes give it a cuter, harmless air.

Last year, Ron was wearing a black ski mask turned around backwards and pulled over his face while we waited outside in the winter. Since he's blind, the eye and mouth holes are just big cold air leaks. It was a miserable day. People kept doing freaked-out-double takes when they saw him, the black knitted face just freaked them out. So much, so, that they apparently never saw the long white cane in his right hand. One guy actually got a restaurant manager and told him there was a "Dangerous person" outside. The manager came outside, took one look at us, and said "Oh, it's YOU!". I wanted to avoid that with this hat/mask, so I went with the stripes. I figured stripes are more festive and less rapist/assassin/covert ops. It worked. Everyone he showed the hat to (by pulling it down over his entire head) chuckled and smiled. Yay. Everyone is happy, Ron is warm. Eventually I'll get a photo up.

I'm gonna run now. It's almost Lithium time. I'm so glad we live where it's quiet. Neither of us slept well last night and we both needed a good nap when we got home.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Heather gets Hammered (with yet another migraine)

Ugh. Oh, my head. I guess I stuck up too far, and the Devil wanted to hammer me down. How best to accomplish this task? Give Heather a migraine.

It began, as these things do, by being awakened at 4 AM with agonizing head pain. By 8 AM, I was in full-on-retching-into-my-bucket agony. Obviously, we weren't going to work. I spent an absolutely miserable two days.

It's only now I feel somewhat human, albeit a very weak and dehydrated human. UGH. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. One of the drivers Ron had while I was sick said he'd pray for me, which I thought was very sweet.

I did get some good news today, the Bibles I ordered from Christian books came. I will sneakily put some out tomorrow at work. I figure if other people can put out their "Finding Your Spirit Guide" stuff I am certainly entitled to put out "My stuff". I'm not forcing it on anyone. I'm putting some "Free books" in the free book pile.

Ron got a crack at some salespeople today; they even came back for more. His witnessing is more face-to-face.

Ron's Metrolift service got renewed for another 3 years. Yay!

I'm still fairly incoherent. Once I eat this, I plan to take some lithium and go to bed.

Consolation

Ron needs to realize, not everyone is consoled by his "Don't worry, the end of the world is coming soon" speech.  Agh.