Friday, June 29, 2012

Trying to Get Healthy

OK, so here we are, a bit over a month since the hubby's "mild" heart attack, and I've lost six pounds. Yeah, I know. That's a good thing, pat-on-the-back and all that, but what I can't figure out is why I've only lost six pounds. I mean, seriously? Six pounds? Come on. I've eaten more celery in the past month than in all my....well...several years on earth previously. And I've been lots more active, what with the garden going full-tilt (working like crazy with those blasted tomato plants so they wouldn't die....and they haven't), and my pet sitting business picking up a bit (doing a lot of dog walking lately, and those darn dogs just don't believe in getting their business done none too quickly either).

I do admit to a small treat here and there. Like tonight for instance. Tonight I'm going to make one of my special milk shakes: some chocolate ice cream (not a lot, it's a small drink), a bit of milk, and some chocolate-espresso wine. I guess I could give up my milk shakes completely for a while; speed up the weight loss process a bit.

Ya' know, six pounds in a month really isn't too bad at all. **pat on the back**

Monday, June 18, 2012

Things I (Probably) Wouldn't Be Saying If I Had Kids Instead of Cats

Being a cat mom instead of a regular/"normal" mom, I have found myself saying things to my cats that I'm sure I'd never have to say to a young'un. Or would I?

- "Stop sniffing your sister's/brother's butt."

- "Stop biting your sister/brother on the neck. I don't think she/he likes it."

- "Hold still so I can pull this hair out of your butthole."

- "Why in the world would you want to eat a plastic bag in the first place?"

- "You can sit on my chest, but please turn around so I don't have to stare at your butthole."

- "No, you can't sit on my lap while I'm using the bathroom."

- "If you would chew your food, you probably wouldn't puke most of it back up on the living room carpet."

- "Stop beating on the door. You are not sleeping with us tonight."

- "Must you sit there and stare at me for hours at a time? Really?"

- "Stop eating my hair."

Oh, the life of a cat mom.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gardening 2012 - Part 3

So, here are the latest pictures from my garden.

 The potatoes are growing like crazy. 

I added the second tire to each stack, put in more soil, then promptly had to return to the store for even more soil. Bought their last five bags. Sure hope they get more in soon.

The peas are doing great, and I will have to move some of them to another box so I can get them all tied up and climbing. The black radishes are doing OK. Thinned them out a bit and we'll see what happens. 

The box in back was onions, but only about three ever came up, and they never grew. Bad batch of seeds maybe? Who knows. I am transferring some of the peas to that box and will go from there. The box in front is a late planting of a small breed of carrot. They are coming up well and will have to be thinned out.

My red and yellow bell pepper plants. They started looking a tiny bit sickly, even though there was already a pepper on one, so I decided it might be best to split them up. 

They are now in two separate buckets. 
Here's hoping they will thrive with the extra room

My tomato plants never really grew much, and the leaves on the bottom of them started turning yellow. After talking with a friend about what the problem might be, I went out and bought some Miracle-Gro and have given them one dose so far (and removed the yellowing leaves). They're already showing lots of improvement, and when I researched the issue on the internet, most things I found said it could be a low nitrogen issue. Guess the plant food was the right idea.  

Got my corn planted. Doesn't look like much, but most of it is really growing. Two at the bottom have died, but that was my fault. Should have kept the area more uphill and should have moved more of the dirt/grass out down there. They ended up with lots of standing water and that's probably what did it. But, you learn from the mistakes and do better next year.  

It's a bean. I get my crates from a local produce stand, and some of them will have a bean or two still stick in the bottom, caught on the wooden slats and such. So, I decided to look at that as a gift and try planting them. This is one of the first ones I planted. I have others planted in around the tomatoes and peppers, seeing if they will come up. If they do, I will carefully transplant them, maybe in with the corn so they can grow up the stalks. I may have green beans this year as well. Cool. 

Google tries to watch what I'm doing sometimes, but once the water hose is pulled out, 
he doesn't usually stick around for long.

Better than any old French manicure if you ask me.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Worst. Week. Ever. (Part part, I promise)

So, here it finally is, the third and final part of my long-winded report on the Bell family's worst week ever.

When last we left our blog, Chris (the hubs) and I were patiently (well, kinda patiently) waiting for him to be taken down to the cath lab. Finally, a nurse came in to do the little shave thing that he was so looking forward to. (I have to say, she was wonderful and very good at keeping things modest for the hubs. She moved the blankets around as needed, and nothing "private" was every exposed to her even. Great job.) Once she got the area shaved, she then brought in the bed to take him downstairs. This woman was not only great at the shaving thing, but at the bed moving thing as well. When I had to wheel Chris into the ER on Tuesday morning, I was hitting the doorjambs and such. She wheeled that bed out of the small room through the small door, down the hallway, into the elevator, etc. without so much as a bump. Awesome.

Once we got downstairs, there was a bit of a wait there before they finally took him back for the procedure. I sat in the small waiting room with these tiny windows that looked out over a rooftop and a wall (with a small patch of sky if you leaned in and looked straight up), and sat down to wait. I tried to read, then I got on Facebook for a bit, then I just sat. It of course seemed like I sat there forever, but it really wasn't too terribly long.

{Side note: It started storming like crazy while I was waiting. I could hear the thunder, see a bit of the flashes of lightning through the little windows, hear the rain pounding. I thought how it kinda figured a storm would hit then as the windows in the hubby's room upstairs had this great view of the mountains that I just knew would make for some great pictures if it stormed while we were there (almost always have my camera with me). No way to get any good pictures in the waiting room, and of course the storm was over by the time we got back upstairs, and though we had rain off and on, we never did have another storm.}

OK, back to my story. I guess about 30 minutes had gone by when someone came in (the PA maybe, or something, so many professionals and I was having trouble keeping everyone straight in my head), and he told me that they had found a 70% blockage in one of the arteries of Chris' heart. They were going to put in a stent to open up the blockage, which would take about 30 minutes. Modern medicine is an amazing thing. I think start to finish, the whole procedure (cath and stent) took about an hour, maybe a bit more.

After all was done, Chris had to lay perfectly still in the recovery area for about 30 minutes or so with the pressure dressing on his groin area where they had cut into the artery. That was no problem of course, since with all the drugs and stuff in him, he was pretty much passed out cold. He'd jolt awake for a second, then go right back out again. Then they took off the dressing and put the new one on (I had to head on up to his room for that as I wasn't allowed to be in there) and he was brought back to his room. The moved him over to his bed and he had to lie still again for about 4 hours. He could move his arms a bit, and could raise up some (no more than about 30 degrees they said), but nothing else. He was awake enough for a bit to eat supper, which I had to feed him (a fact he's going to be thrilled to know I shared) and then he was pretty much out for the rest of the night. Well, not counting the times he would jerk awake when someone would come in the room to check vitals, take blood, etc.

The next morning, the nurse had him sit up and they checked his BP, then checked it with him standing. Then the nurse had him get up and walk around with her for a bit. We were at the hospital until that afternoon while they got paperwork on him done (had the wrong GP listed and we had to correct that or they would have sent his records to someone who's never even seen him), gave us prescriptions for some new meds, etc. Follow-up appointments were made and we packed up and were sent on our way.

About 60 hours after the hubs first  hit the floor on Tuesday morning, maybe 59 hours after we'd first walked into the local ER, we were on our way home. Less than three days. It amazes me how fast modern medicine can sometimes work.

So, that's pretty much what happened last week. We now have new meds added to the ever-growing list that the hubs has to take. We're also trying to keep more healthy food around, which is hard when you have pretty  much no money and the healthy stuff seems to cost so much more than the bad stuff. I've also gotten a bit paranoid and every little ache and pain that the hubs gets, I worry about what's causing it. I have put my AFLAC training on hold at least until his first follow-up appointment which takes place next week. I don't mind being out and about near home, where he can get hold of me if needed, but I'm NOT going to be off in Hickory or Hendersonville, a good hour or two away, and have something happen. I'm sticking close to home.

Now I reckon the dance with meds and treatments gets going big time. We're still dealing with the Fibromyalgia, Hemachromatosis, and Type II Diabetes (although the Diabetes fight has been going pretty well). Now we have to deal with the heart stuff. He does have a family history which I got clarified through his dad recently (his dad had a heart attack and triple bypass at 47, his granddad had a heart attack at 36 or 37 then died from one at 41). That all just means we need to be even more vigilant.

I am also going to try and get past the paranoia thing, but it may take a while. Until then, I'm just taking deep breaths whenever I can, tending to my garden, and researching like crazy. Always new stuff going on in the medical world.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Worst. Week. Ever. (Part Two)

(On my last post, I said I would continue my story "tomorrow". Well, you know how they say tomorrow never comes? In this case, it came the day after.)

OK, where was I? Oh yeah....

So, by the time I got to the Heart Tower at Memorial Mission in Asheville, the hubs was all settled in his room and the cardiologist had already come in to see him. They came in not long after I arrived and did yet another ultrasound as well. (And I do have to say, I forgot that a chest x-ray had been done in the ER here in Spruce Pine as well. They were really on the ball.) I was a bit blind-sided though when Chris told me that he'd had a "mild" heart attack after all. (If you ask me, the word "mild" should never be connected to the phrase "heart attack".)

Here's the gist of what happened: The electrical signals in his heart got messed up somehow causing his heart rate to go up. The heart tried to compensate, but was not able to d/t a possible blockage (they did not know for sure at that time), which caused the heart attack. We had thought they would do a stress test, but instead they were going to do a heart catheterization the next day. For those who may not know what this procedure entails, you can check it out on Wiki ( if you'd like. The short of it though is that they cut into the femoral artery in the groin area (something that thrilled the hubs to no end for sure) and the catheter is inserted through there and up into the heart. They then inject a dye and see what's what. Sound scary? Yeah, it did to me as well.

That first night at the hospital was pretty miserable. I stayed there with him, trying to sleep on one of those recliners they have in the room. Mostly I lay there in the dark, staring out the window at the flashing red lights on top of the two cell towers across the way. The hubs didn't sleep much either. Besides all the stress of the situation, people were coming into the room every so often to check his vitals, take more blood for tests, etc. I was freezing as well, but wouldn't let them turn up the thermostat since the hubs was comfortable. It's easy to add more blankets, and bless the nurse who brought me one from the warming cabinet. He was a sweetie. (And, I do so want one of those cabinets in my house.)

Anyway, made the trip back home the next morning (Wednesday) to check on the cats, grab a quick shower, grab change of clothes for the hubs (they were saying he'd probably be going home on Thursday) and then headed right back to the hospital. (For those who don't know the area, it's a bit over an hour drive.) They still hadn't taken the hubs down to the cath lab. It's kinda one of those hurry-up-and-wait situations. You know  you're going that day, just not exactly when.

(As it is now getting late, and I still haven't had a good night's sleep since we got home last week, I'm ending this here. Yeah, I know. Maybe if I shortened it up, put in less detail, I'd have it all out there now. But, hey...this is me. I'm a talker. So, hopefully, I will be back with the rest of the story tomorrow. Not promising that of course, but I will at least try.)    :-)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Worst. Week. Ever. (Part One)

It could be said that last week was the worst week ever in the Bell household. It was definitely the scariest for us.

The week started off like any other. Sunday was a day of finally getting my garden started, and I was pretty proud of my work. Monday evening brought the monthly meeting of the Mayland Writers' Group, which is always a good thing. The rest of the week was to consist of pet sitting and a scheduled AFLAC training session in Hickory, which I was actually looking forward to.

Then came 2:30 on Tuesday morning. I was awakened by a loud thump. I looked over the edge of the bed to see Chris, my husband, laying on the floor, passed out. He came out of it pretty quickly, but something obviously wasn't right. Now, the passing out thing had happened before, right after one of his phlebotomy appointments. They had taken that pint of blood even though his blood pressure was very low that day. So, a few steps down the hall and he hit the floor. That's what I thought this might be, a low BP issue, but he couldn't snap completely out of it this time. He tried to lay down for a bit, but couldn't get comfortable. He had a bit of pressure in his chest, but no pain. He had a bruise starting up on the left side of his back where he hit the bed frame (we have a water bed, lots of wood) and another on his right arm where he hit the air purifier, so there was a bit of pain there. But his hands and forearms were hurting, finger tips going numb. That was odd.

After a bit, he finally decided it might be a good idea to go to the ER. Besides the numbness and pain in his hands and arms, he just couldn't get his breath. And when he tried to get up to go take a shower (something he just felt he HAD to do before going to the hospital), he couldn't make it there. Walking from one room to another was a chore that made him nearly pass out again. So, I got us dressed, moved the truck so that it was a straight shot from the front door to the passenger door, shoved all his meds into a bag to take with us, and drove us to the local hospital. I reckon we got there about 3:30am.

At the hospital, I had to get a wheelchair and bring him inside. Walking was pretty much impossible for him. The nurse triaged him, trying to get him to slow down his breathing to no avail, and sent him on back. When they got him hooked up to the monitor, his BP was high and his heart rate was 213 beats per minute (bpm). Normal resting heart rate is 60 - 90 bpm, so this was definitely not good. They put him on oxygen, managed to get an IV inserted, and gave him something to get his heart rate to slow down. It finally started working and he was pretty well normal.

EKG's were done (several) and an ultrasound of his heart was done. He was admitted, being told he would be there for at least 12 hours so they could monitor his heart. Blood was taken, of course, for various tests, and not long after they got him in his room and served him breakfast, his GP came in and said there was some concern with some sort of enzyme level. It's something that goes up when there is a heart attack. We were assured that he did not have a heart attack, but that he (the doctor) didn't want to take any chances and so was ordering an ambulance to take him to the hospital in Asheville. He wanted him to see a cardio specialist and though he could wait and see one here, it wouldn't happen until Friday and the doc didn't want him to wait that long.

So, they piled him into an ambulance while I ran off to get some stuff together (clothes and such), quickly feed the cats, and see if I could get a pet sitting client of mine to prepay me so I could put gas in the truck (she did without hesitation...I have some great clients) otherwise I would probably not make it to Asheville.  Then I was off to rush to the Heart Center at Mission Hospital where, unbeknownst to me, we would be spending the next couple of days.

{Wow, that's a lot. I will continue the saga of our worst week ever tomorrow.}

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gardening 2012 - Part 2

So, after nine bags of topsoil, I still need more. Sheesh. I thought I'd estimated correctly. Guess not. But, that's OK. I got most of the stuff planted, the rest will just have to be done later this week.

I had planned on only doing one, maybe two tires with potatoes this year. My friend Meredith called her in-laws and got me some seed potatoes. A lot of seed potatoes. I now have three tires planted with potatoes, plus enough left over to pass along to my friend Judith. Cool.

I got these crates free from a local produce stand. The two in back are planted with peas (on the left) and green onions. The one in front is planted with black radishes (had to use a bit of garden fabric to block the gaps on the sides of that one). These are sitting by my back deck. My idea, if it works, is to tie twine from the lid of the one holding the peas up to the railing of the deck for the vines to grow up. We'll see if it works.

I'm doing the tire and crate thing since kneeling on the ground with my arthritic knees is not an easy thing. These containers are pretty low to the ground, but will still make it easier when it comes time to harvest, especially the tires as they will be stacked up 3 high and, in theory, you can just push them over to get at the potatoes. Plus, my yard has a very limited area that would be good for planting, so I'm able to plant more in containers.

My pepper plants; one red pepper and one yellow pepper. Wanted green peppers actually, but no one seemed to have any. But, it's more expensive to buy red or yellow peppers than green ones, so I might as well grow those.

My tomato plants. There are three in there right now, but one is so tiny, I might just take it out and throw it away. I'm also thinking about getting cages for these as well as the peppers instead of using the stake and twine set up I did last time. Right now, I'm just waiting to see how they do.

Yes, I have corn seeds planted in cat food cans. I'm sprouting them here, then will plant them somewhere in the yard; just haven't figured out exactly where yet. Hopefully I'll know by the time they're big enough to actually plant.

I am going to be getting another crate for more radishes. Or, I have these big wooden containers that held boat motor parts when I worked at OMC, and I may just drag one of those to the back yard. I have red radish seeds as well as small carrot seeds that I'm hoping to plant as well. I'm not putting any root veggies directly into the ground because the last time I did, everything got eaten. I had a lot of potatoes planted and every single one I dug up had teeth marks in it. Obviously my vole hunting cat wasn't too diligent that year.

Besides the small bit of planting I have left to do, now the whole waiting thing starts.   **sigh**

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Gardening 2012 - Part 1

So, I have decided to try the vegetable growing thing again this year. Going about it a bit differently this time, though. Almost everything will be in a container of some sort.

Right now, I have tomatoes and peppers in buckets. I have corn planted in several cat food cans to sprout, and I still haven't figured out exactly where in the yard I will put them once they are ready. (The only thing that's going directly into the ground.)

I am planting potatoes in tires and radishes, small carrots, onions and peas in a pallet and wooden crates. Well, that's the plan right now anyway. I even have a packet of black radish seeds. I've never even heard of a black radish and definitely had to try those when I saw them. I've also thought about cabbage or maybe some kale, but need to get the rest of that in first to see if I can manage that. Might just have to wait until next year, see how I do with what I have first.

Hopefully I will have all that done by tomorrow and will then post some pictures. For now, wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Time Flies/Not Happy

Jimminey Crickets. A month has gone by. What the heck happened? I reckon I got busy, as we all do. **sigh**

Today is not a happy day in North Carolina. Amendment One passed yesterday, and I think most of us knew it probably would. But, we were hoping. I am sad for our state, sad for the fact that we have enshrined discrimination into our constitution. But, I am also hopeful. I am hopeful that so many who came together in opposition to this amendment will continue to stand up for equality for everyone.

I have relatives and friends in the LGBT community. I will never look at them as second-class citizens who don't deserve the same rights as everyone else. What kind of friend would I be if I did?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Insurance Exam Passed? Check.

OK, so after lots of studying and banging my head against the wall, I finally bit the bullet and took my insurance exam last Thursday. It was no where near as difficult as the quizzes and exams the learning site put me through. They recommend that you make at least an 80 on their finals before you go take the license exam for your state. I could not get that 80, no matter what I did. I don't know how many times I took that exam, but the highest score I ever made was a 76. So of course I just totally ignored their advice and scheduled the state license test anyway. Glad I did.

So, now I get online and sign up for my license. Then I go down to the local police station and get fingerprinted (if they have the electronic scanning type of fingerprint machine that is). After all that is done and I have been officially checked out, I will be going to work for AFLAC. For now, I will have a license to sell health/medical insurance. I have to take the online courses for life insurance before I can schedule the test and get licensed to sell that. Sure is a lot of red tape involved in this stuff.

Maybe by this time next month, I will be making a bit of money. I'm not looking to get rich, just have an at least semi-steady income. I'm sure my bill collectors would appreciate that as well.   LOL

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Around the Yard

Went for what is becoming my daily walk around the yard today. If I just went out there and walked, it wouldn't take long at all as it's not that big of a yard. But, I have gotten into the habit of grabbing my iPod and listening to a podcast or two while my ever present outside kitties walk around the yard with me. We meander through the tall grass (yeah, need to mow already) and sometimes I even pull up some wild onions which seem to grow abundantly in my yard. Today, I carried my camera with me and took a few photos, mostly of the cats of course.

 Here is my little swing, just waiting for me to start coming outside and while away some hours sitting there with a good book and my ever present cats. Hope even jumps up in the swing with me sometimes. Mostly though, they lay around or under it.

 Here is Google (Da Goog as we call him) trying to ignore me and get some shut-eye. Didn't work of course. 

 This is Muffin. Queen of all she surveys. She's a temperamental little girl sometimes, but I love her. 

This lonely little tire filled with topsoil is just waiting for me to plant some potatoes in it. I have a couple other tires waiting to stack up as the potatoes grow. I can't wait. 

Well, at least Goog is winding up to pounce on his Uncle Tango and not on Muffin. She doesn't put up with such shenanigans.

And here's Tango. Like most orange tabbies, he has such a laid-back disposition. Such a great guy. ("Does this flower make my butt look big?")

And this is Goog's sister, Hope. Hard to tell from this, but she is a really tiny thing. Tough girl though. She likes me to throw pieces of kibble to her so she can pounce on them before she eats them. She also hunts voles, moles, mice, chipmunks....pretty much everything.

I always said I'd never have outdoor cats, then they started showing up. What can ya' do? I've gotten some of them to the shelter and new homes, but for one reason or another, these guys are still here. And I love them all.

This year, I'm going to try some gardening again. Tomatoes in buckets, potatoes in those tires, lettuces and/or kale in wooden pallets (if I can get them), and just maybe I'll put some corn in the ground. We'll see. Seeds are pretty inexpensive, I can get the buckets for a bit over $1 each, a friend has some pallets he's willing to give me, and I already have the tires (which I got for free from a local tire center). Yeah, I have plans. They're not written in stone though, so if I don't get all of it done, that's OK. There's always next year.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Experiment

OK, so today starts a new experiment. I got the idea from a blogger (forgot which one now) who got the idea from Jerry Seinfeld. Yes, THAT Jerry Seinfeld.

Seems Seinfeld uses a calendar to make sure he writes an hour every day. The idea is to mark off the day after he gets at least that hour of writing done on a calendar that hangs where he can see it. When you see it like that, the X's start connecting and making a chain. Instinctively, you don't want to break that chain, so you are more likely to keep going.

The blog I read was about doing the same thing, only the writer had four things he wanted to do every day, so set up four calendars with a goal of doing those things for at least 15 minutes each. His items were cleaning, writing, exercising and IT stuff (he was some sort of computer/internet/IT person).

Starting today, I'm taking his idea and running with it, although I only have three calendars: cleaning, exercising and writing. That's at least 45 minutes a day, 15 minutes devoted to each. I'm sure I'll think of a fourth thing at some point, but for now, three is fine. The exercising at least 15 minutes will hopefully not only help me get into some semblance of shape (besides round that is), but will also help to bring my BP down.

The cleaning....well...the past couple years have been tough around here, and I've been so down about so much, I've let this place go BIG TIME. It's way past time to get on top of that, which means cleaning out, throwing out and/or selling lots of stuff that has piled up.

As for the writing, you'd think that since I run the local writers' group, I'd be writing like crazy. Not the case. Maybe it's the aforementioned tough times we've been going through, but my writing has really slacked off. So now the idea is to write for at least 15 minutes every day, and it doesn't matter what I write. I can jot an entry in my journal, work on a poem, write a blog post (this counts), etc. As long as I write SOMETHING for at least 15 minute every day, I'm good.

So, it has started. Let's see how it goes.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

And so the story goes....

Well, to be honest, I don't entirely know how the story goes.

I am working on my first novel. I've been saying that for years now. It's not that I haven't actually been doing it, it's just that I can't seem to get it together. The idea I thought I had for the novel appears to be more of a short story, maybe. I don't know. For now, I'm writing bits and pieces of that one down, disjointed little notes and whatever comes to mind, then I am putting it away. Why? Well, I have a new idea.

OK, I know. Maybe I should finish one before I start another. But I love this idea. I got it from a paranormal podcast I was listening to the other day. (Podcasts are my newest obsession. I have almost 2500 downloaded so far. I love them.) This idea is so creepy, so scary...I just hope I can make the creepy and scary come across enough to justify my even trying.

I have always loved scary stories. I love being scared, which I know is crazy. I was listening to the podcast I mentioned on the way to a pet sitting job that is pretty well off the beaten path. This house is in the woods, no real neighbors close by. I love that place. And as I was walking through the area with the cat I was taking care of (he gets to go outside for a bit while I'm there), the wind was blowing just right through the trees. And when I say "just right", I mean it was creepy as heck.

I've noticed this before up there. When the wind blows a certain way, and the trees sway and creak, it sounds just like someone yelling off in the distance. Sometimes, it sounds like a woman screaming just far enough away that you have to stop and ask yourself if you're actually hearing it. Kinda like in all the creepy movies you've ever seen.

So, as I was walking, I was thinking about the things I had heard in that podcast, and I kinda scared myself. Doesn't take much sometimes.

I've tried recording that sound up there, but it never comes out right. You hear the wind, but not the lady screaming sound. Then again, maybe only I can hear it. Maybe it's only meant for me. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA.....

Monday, February 27, 2012

My Brain Hurts

I am studying insurance through an online learning site. Hopefully, I will have all the little quizzes done and can go for my state insurance license in the next few weeks, then go to work for AFLAC. Yep, I'm gonna work for the talking duck. (Or will he actually work for me since his commercials will hopefully bring me clients?)

Anyhoo, this online learning thing is not usually a big deal for me. I've taken many classes this way with no problem. Sometimes I actually prefer online learning to a regular classroom, depending on the course I'm taking. In this case it is most definitely preferable. I could not stand to sit in a classroom for this stuff.

Insurance stuff is about as dry as you can get. I wonder if studying law is a bit like this. I mean I read and reread and sometimes have to reread again to figure out what I just read in the first place. It's killing me. As a writer, I'm ready to bang my head against the keyboard. Can't these people hire someone to write these things in language that we can actually understand without having to stretch our brains to the limit? Textbooks are often the same way. And don't get me started on technical manuals.

But, I'm doing this so that I can get out there and sell some insurance and hopefully bring in some money to pay the bills that are continuing to pile up. I'm keeping my eye on the prize. And the prize? The cessation of calls from bill collectors. I'm really tired of hearing that phone ring all the time. (Here's a coincidence. Just as I typed that last line, the phone started ringing. Who's calling? Guess.)    

Sunday, February 19, 2012

We Should Never Forget

“And it seems to me important for a country, for a nation to certainly know about its glorious achievements but also to know where its ideals failed, in order to keep that from happening again.”-George Takei

It was 70 years ago today when an executive order was issued authorizing the internment of over 120,000 American of Japanese descent. Even people who were born in the US would be rounded up and taken away if they were as little as 1/16 Japanese. Of those taken to the camps, it is estimated that approximately 62% were American citizens.

Many internees lost their homes, personal property, even their lives. This is not something we should ever forget. We should remember so as to never repeat mistakes made in the past. 

"We saw all these people behind the fence, looking out, hanging onto the wire, and looking out because they were anxious to know who was coming in. But I will never forget the shocking feeling that human beings were behind this fence like animals [crying]. And we were going to also lose our freedom and walk inside of that gate and find ourselves…cooped up there…when the gates were shut, we knew that we had lost something that was very precious; that we were no longer free."
-Mary Tsukamoto

"Down in our hearts we cried and cursed this government every time when we showered with sand. We slept in the dust; we breathed the dust; we ate the dust."
-Joseph Kurihara, an internee at the Manzanar internment camp in California

History cannot be altered. All we can do is make sure each generation learns from the mistakes of those that came before. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Come On Get Happy

OK, my last two posts have had a kind of depressing tone what with all the talk about dead people and such. So, today let's get our happy on. Time to cheer up, stop and smell the roses, count our blessings, etc. You get the idea.

So, I am going to list some things that have made me happy recently. It's not been the best couple weeks or so, but little things (and not so little things) have happened here and there that have put a smile on my face.

*Figuring out how to play fetch with my new doggie pet sitting client, Montana. Now, this is no small feat. This dog does not really fetch. He runs for the ball, comes running back with it, and then either runs past you or stops several feet in front of you and waits for you to chase him (something my semi-arthritic knees will not usually let me do, at least not at a very fast pace). So, he and I came up with the two-ball fetch game. I throw one ball, he runs to get it. When he gets back to me with it, I show him the other ball and throw it. He drops the one in his mouth and goes running off after the second one, and we repeat the process. Pretty fun actually. (His sister Dixie just sits and watches us like we're crazy.)

*Opening my mailbox and finding a check from a client. I have a PO box I use for my pet sitting, so I make a few trips to the post office every week, trying to keep it from filling up with junk mail for the most part. But when I open up that box and find a payment from one of my clients, it always puts a smile on my face. I love what I do, and I do it so I can spend time with animals and help pet owners out when they want/need to go out of town and just do not want to put their pets in a kennel or some such. But let's face it, if I wasn't getting paid for it, I wouldn't be doing it. Heck, I COULDN'T do it.

*Winning something. Last year, I won a gift basket for my kitties from Hartz worth around $500. (Have to thank my Facebook friends for that one as they voted on a picture of my cat Eddie that I entered for the "Stinky Pee" contest. Yeah, she won a stinky pee contest. Weird I know.) I also won an Oreck air purifier worth about $300 on my friend Angie's blog. (If you haven't gone there yet, check out Catladyland. She's a hoot.) A few weeks ago, I won a Hepper Pod cat bed worth about $100 through the My Himalayan Cat Goma blog. And just this week I won a gift basket for my kitties worth close to $90 from the Pet News and Views blog. This basket includes a Drink Well pet fountain. I have wanted to get one of those for years. My guys will love it I'm sure. (Now, if only my luck would carry over to the lottery, I'd be especially happy.)

*New med for the hubs seems to be working. And most important of all, my hubs (who has been ill and suffering from constant pain for 2+ years now) has been put on a new med that seems like it might be helping a bit. He has constant joint and overall muscle pain, and nothing gets rid of it completely. We recently went to a pain specialist who prescribed a med that has been around for years and is not used very often any longer. He told us to stop the Celebrex the hubby has been taking and start this one. So, after contacting all his other doctors to make sure it wouldn't interfere with other meds he's on and such, we started it almost 2 weeks ago. After several days, it dawned on me that he hadn't complained about his hands hurting him. The joints in his hands seem to have had the worst of it for a while now. I asked him about it and he said he didn't even realize, but they weren't hurting. How cool is that? Add that to the fact that with his insurance, the Celebrex is a $64 med but the new med is only about $6, and it's a double WOOT!. (Keeping fingers crossed that this is a situation that continues to improve.) All I know is, he has been able to hug me and hold my hand more in the past several days than he has in the past year. That's the very absolute best part.   :-)

So, those are my happy things for the day. Whenever something happens that makes me feel bad, angry or sad, I try to look for happy things to hold on to. Big things or little, there's almost always something there to grab hold of and squeeze for dear life.

Have a great day and keep happy thoughts.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

80s Music Memories - RIP: Part II (John Hughes Edition)

John Huges' movies defined my generation in the 80s. He was the 80s. Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, Some Kind of Wonderful....way too many to name. Yeah, he had hits in the 90s, too. But I think he will always be best remembered for his 80s movies. And don't forget the soundtracks. He had a knack for getting the perfect music for his films.

"Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds
(From the movie The Breakfast Club)

"Turning Japanese" by The Vapors
(From the movie Sixteen Candles)

"Weird Science" by Oingo Boingo
(From the movie Weird Science)

"Twist and Shout" by The Beatles
(From the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. OK, so this isn't actually an 80s song, and it wasn't written for this movie specifically, but this scene is, to this day, TOTALLY AWESOME!!!)

And one of my favorite quotes from The Breakfast Club. It pretty much summed up how I felt back then.
"We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all."

John Hughes died of a heart attack in 2009. He was only 59. In the 80s, he was an adult who spoke to and for all us teenagers. No matter if you were a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, a criminal...or a bit of all five. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

80s Music Memories - RIP: Part I

I'm a child of the 80s. I was born in December of '69, and yeah I do remember some music from the 70s (still love disco), but the 80s make up my main soundtrack. The death of Whitney Houston this past Saturday made me think of so many others from that era who have passed on.

Since I have been a HUGE Def Leppard fan since 1983, guitarist Steve "Steamin" Clark comes to mind first when I think about those who have gone on. My very first concert was Def Leppard (a total dream come true). It was their Hysteria tour and this video was filmed during that time, so it's a pretty good indicator of what I saw. Clark died in 1991 and I remember it like it was yesterday. I cried so hard the day I heard the news. He was only 30 years old.

Ben Orr was the bassist for The Cars. He sang lead on their song 'Drive," which is my favorite of theirs. It's such a beautiful song and I never get tired of listening to it. Orr died in 2000 at the age of 53.

Oh man, The Ramones.....WOW! Love these guys almost as much as Def Leppard. They were around before the 80s, being the first big American punk band in the 70s, but when I heard "I Wanna Be Sedated" I was so hooked. These guys were fun (not to mention Stephen King was a HUGE fan, and I was a  pretty big fan of his). We have since lost Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny. So very sad.

Lastly, for today anyway, we have Falco. Yeah, the song "Rock Me Amadeus" is in German and I have no idea what the heck he's saying, but I love it. So did most everyone else back in the day. This is one of those songs that just makes me want to get up and dance. Falco was only 40 when he died in 1998.

I've always said that I don't feel my age. But then I look back at so many who are gone now, and I feel it sneaking up on me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mother Earth Produce

I started a small second business not long ago, setting up and maintaining Facebook pages for businesses. I was recently hired to set up a page for a new business in the Asheville area, Mother Earth Produce. I really like this idea; a delivery service that brings locally grown organic produce right to your door. Such a great idea for those who can't get to the local farmer's markets and such. This way, you can still get fresh veggies that have been grown right here in WNC even if you don't have the time to go out and do a lot of shopping. We all need to live a bit healthier, and now there's no excuse not to. (Well, for those in the delivery area anyway. LOL)

This is Graham, Andrea and Totem Duvall. They're the heart behind this endeavor. (And Totem is the cuteness of course. Just look at that face.) I really hope they do well, and I honestly think they will. How about checking out their Facebook page and "liking" it. Then pass the word around about them and what they're doing. Even if you don't live in the Asheville area, the more likes their page has, the more it gets caught by the search engines and such.

Welcome to Western North Carolina Mother Earth Produce. We look forward to watching you succeed and grow.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mom's Birthday

(Mom in the early 80s. Not too clear a picture, can't find the original scan.)

Today would have been my mom's 76th birthday (she died in 2000). For several years, we weren't too close at all, but being the baby of the family, and the only one at home from the time I was about 7 or 8, there was a time when we were almost inseparable. 

Mom raised me singlehandedly, doing the best she could with what she had. I'm not going to say she always did the right thing, or that she had no fault in the fact that she was divorced several times. I don't believe in white-washing things and making people sound like saints just because they have passed away. But, my mother taught me a lot, and one of the most important things she taught me was about accepting people for who they are regardless of race, religion, etc. Despite a family with a lot of prejudice flowing through it, she did not look at a person's skin color and decide they were less of a person because they weren't white. 

I wish my mother had lived to see our first black president. I also wish she had been able to marry the man she was so in love with and dated when I was in high school, but he was black and she was afraid my brothers would not accept him and she'd lose them. Her relationship with my siblings was strained as it was, she did not want to chance losing them completely.

Although we weren't close any more, Mom was the one person who was in my life from the very beginning as my dad and I went years at a time without even speaking to each other. When someone who has been with you like that, losing them is almost a surprise, even though you know the time will eventually come. And my life was shaped by this woman, even by the bad moments with her, as what matters most is not what happened in your past, but what you do with that throughout your life. 

My mother was searching most of her life for something. I don't know what, and I don't think she ever found it, even though we moved 30+ times in her quest for whatever it was. Maybe it was just simple acceptance. We all long for acceptance at some point in our lives. After several years of fighting illness, she got tired of fighting and stopped treatment. Maybe she did find what she was looking for in the end.

(I know I've written about Mom before, but for some reason, I just felt like doing it again.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Just Keep Writing

OK, so here I am. Sitting in front of the computer as usual. Writing a bit, which is not too usual lately.

Most days I kick myself for not spending more time on my writing. But then, I recently read something that made me think more about the writing I do manage to get to. Can't remember who said it, but they said to spend a set amount of time writing every day, NO MATTER WHAT THAT WRITING IS. Basically, it could be journal writing, blogging, letter writing, etc. Anything counts. Just spend that time writing.

I've never really thought of it that way. I always felt like I had to make sure I was sitting here working on my novel (yeah, still working) or a story or poem of some kind. I do write in a journal, but I've never counted that as part of my writing in general. I also have this blog and a couple others, but again, never really counted that. I wonder why. It's writing. It's putting my ideas down on paper or on the net.

From now on, no more kicking myself. From now on, I'm going to make sure I sit down and write something, but it doesn't have to be a BIG something. As long as a spend time writing; in my journal, my ratty notebook, on one of my blogs, etc. It all counts.