Re Boot

Major Shit hit the fan last summer (family member diagnosed with cancer). Too depressed/overwhelmed to write ever since.  New goals:

1. Obtain Camera of my own that uploads to computer EASILY
2. Start taking Before and After Pictures
3. Keep reading UFYH and tag/link/whatever to it
4. Learn about SEOs and Keywords and stuff
5. Keep blogging cause it is good for me. Major article on “Avoidance as Enemy”
6. Be less wordy!  Concepts good, wordiness bad

Ta for now.  At least I stuck a toe back in.

 

 

 

 

Just to let you know I did it..

Gotta let you know I really did clean that nasty corner behind the bedside table.  Said ‘table’ is actually a jewelry cabinet that I have now decided I hate.  It doesn’t fit well, it is big and clunky, and sits in front of the window out of which we would have to go should there be a fire. So I turned it on an angle to a corner, leaving a big gap behind it.

As it turns out, all furniture needs to be moveable, and the fewer inaccessible ’gaps’ the better.  Otherwise, you cannot get behind it to clean, and do not see when it is getting bad.  I’m not talking OCD cleaning type crap every day, I’m talking once a year to keep the dust from piling up into scary, gross amounts.

So in time, this piece of furniture will most likely go.  I want a smaller, more portable piece. And it will NOT be new.

But – this time I cleaned up a crud load of stuff beside it, then moved it and vacuumed and vacuumed and found oil of some kind had spilled, so then I had to get out the little steam cleaner for pet accidents.  It did ok.  Not great. And I wanted so desperately to escape this chore that I had to bribe myself with “once the cleaning fluid is on the carpet, I will take a reading break to escape this.”  Then I did so, set a timer for 20 minutes, and let myself read. Then I went back and finished it.  Timers are vital pieces of equipment for people who hate to clean.

My point is that this was not fun, it was something I didn’t want to do and I did it anyway.  Other people do this all the time. Why can’t I?

But I did it.  Must remember that.  Did it.  Yuck. – whole bedroom needs redone. SIGH.

Try to pick something you don’t want to do and do it anyway. Something that NEEDS to be done – I’m not talking something you should turn down, like PTA President or something else that will push your plate to overflowing.

Well, I am too tired to be all ’up’ about this ending.  Hang in there, keep with it.  As a reward for reading all the way to the end of this Post and thinking about maybe cleaning something nasty needing it, here is another wonderful drawing by Allie Brosh.  I have permission to use these, (read her FAQ page which rocks, like everything else she writes.)

Used with permission and one small adaptation I did myself (you can clearly see where) from Allie Brosh at hyperbole and a half. http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html

Trudy.  Wishing I could draw (and write, frankly) like Allie

UPDATE: June 5.  I woke up this morning filled with Angst. I was pretty happy yesterday about this article but  woke up this morning with my head saying “What if Allie doesn’t really give me permission to CHANGE her drawings? What if that is against her policy and she would be upset”  (or possibly sue me, but really, the idea of her being upset with me was far more upsetting that her suing me).

So, I decided to update this Post, and include her original drawing, – which led me to also include a little dissertation on why the premise of her original drawing is, uh, not productive for “people like us”.  And if you really want to see a well done pictorial display of this entire reasoning, PLEASE go check out her entire Post at http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html.

And, to help my conscience and my churning brain, here is her original drawing that I used (with permission) and adapted (possibly without permission).

From “Hyperbole and a half” – http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html

In a nutshell, Allie’s hysterical Post that day is about having incredible goals of doing all the responsible things we would like to do, including, cleaning EVERYTHING.  This is what people ‘like us’ do on a regular basis. We decide we are going to clean ALL THE THINGS and it soon wears us out to the point where we clean NONE OF THE THINGS (in Allie’s case, she declares, basically: screw it - ”INTERNET FOREVER”).  In my case, it is: screw it, I’m getting in the book.  There are infinite distrations to do that feel really really good in the moment, so we can avoid doing what feels impossible and unpleasant.

That’s why I now try baby steps.  I clean “ONE Bad Thing”.  I try “one hard habit”. People with clean houses pick up and tidy and clean on a regular basis – they don’t let it get bad and then try to do the whole entire thing at once. In retrospect, I realize I should have drawn a  line under the word “ONE”.

My brain is appeased, now to figure out dinner. Sigh. Good thing I’m not single or I’d have nachos every night, too.  ;)

 

 

Things I can’t post on “Social Media”

I used to like Facebook* a particular social media site, and still do to keep up with certain people whom I would otherwise have no view into their lives (course that view could be as “Fake” as their view into mine is!).  I’ve realized however, that I just do not dare to Post every aspect of my life – there are too many areas in which I’m afraid of judgement, and others where I am afraid of hurting people’s feelings (and I’m not even talking the stupid politics – which sadly doesn’t stop others).  This is making me feel that the whole Social Media thing is one more fake front we all present to the world.  BIG SMILE.  I’m so perfect and happy. And Blessed. Geez Louise. Everyone is Blessed.  Me, I’m LUCKY in many areas, and struggle in others.

Here are a few examples of Posts that are rattling around in my head so fiercely it is threatening to explode, and I would like to Post them now for the sheer relief.

#1.  I Just cleaned my car for the first time in three years!! Now this does not mean I actually went to a car wash and washed the outside or even vacuumed the inside – it just means I went through everything in the car (not the glove compartment for God’s sake) and threw trash away, and took into the house things that did not clearly belong in the car – like oh, the box of oatmeal packets that I thank the Universe did not draw mice.

I’m sure many people in my life could handle this. But other, more judgy people would be aghast. They clean their car every WEEK or every DAY.  Three years would blow their mind and make them worry about me. I just can’t share that.  But I just did, and thanks for listening!

#2. HEY!  I actually cleaned about a square foot of the junked up pile against the wall in my bedroom!  Now that space isn’t piled up solid, it has a spot where you can see the floor. Whoo hoo me!

As I type this, I realize there may be certain beloved people in my life who would get this, understand and possibly even relate.  I can set up a fake name (supposedly this is verboten – but I have a cousin who did it) and posts those type things, OR I could maybe give them a link to this site? That is kinda brave. Wow.  Dilemna.

#3.  If you care about me in any way, shape or form, for the Love of God do not GIVE me any THING as a gift!!  What the hell is wrong with all of us anyway, giving gifts as routinely as saying hello. Then I’m stuck with figuring out how to get rid of them. ARRGH. And I have to worry if I will ‘offend’ you if you don’t see your gift displayed in my house.

Even people who ‘get’ most of my other foibles don’t get this one. They have no problem getting rid of stuff and don’t understand why I do.  I, on the other hand, don’t understand why the entire (first) world isn’t worried about how much we are trashing the universe with disposable JUNK.  I read lots about it on the internet, but none of these people seem to be in my life.  Everyone in my life seems to think throwing something ‘away’ takes care of it. AAAAGGHGGHHH.  There is NO AWAY.  We IS AWAY.

I am even doing a lousy job of faking trying to look happy when someone gives me a gift. This is getting problematic. They mean well, they do. But even tho I try to smile and be gracious, increasingly I am starting to look like I feel – which is like this:

 

Picture stolen (and a tiny adaptation made) from “Hyperbole and a half”, the absolute funniest blog/drawing EVER.  http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html

Someone has given me a gift, with love, and it makes me curl up into a ball and grieve.  Because now I have to 1. Display/store/use this ‘THING’ (and I am out of space. OUT) or 2. Get rid of it.  Either give it to a Thrift Store or recycle it.    I am already overwhelmed by all the other THINGS in my house I must do this with.  Now I have to add something to the pile, or keep it because I am worried about feelings. Every de-clutter book in the world tells you “Do not worry about offending people, just get rid of it.”  Hmmmm. These same people would no doubt tell you you cannot post on Social Media “For the Love of God if you care about me do NOT give me any THINGS.”

Which brings us to:

#4. I’ve been reading a LOT about hoarders lately and I am relieved to announce I am not one.  I do not get comfort from my things (see above).  I do not compulsively shop or add to them.  I just cannot get rid of things that others can easily.

For instance.  It is beyond insane to me that after we finish a bottle of wine or coke, we THROW IT IN THE RECYCLE, MELT IT DOWN AND MAKE ANOTHER ONE.  This is just lunacy to me.  Why for heaven’s sake did we stop taking them back and having them refilled?  Makes me nuts.

So I have this grand plan that I will make my own wine/soda/beer etc.  I’m saving bottles for that.  I’ve had this plan for over a year.  The bottles are going to hit a point at which I have to admit I will not fill them, and I will have to throw them in the recycle.

This is beginning to scare me.  Enough to actually MAKE wine/beer/soda?  No sign of it yet – but that’s the plan.

I did post recently that I went strawberry picking and made jam. That is the closest I will come – jam making happily refills those little jam jars and makes perfect sense to me – but finding the fruit is difficult.   We all used to have fruit trees. Now we have freakin’ “Flowering Pears” or whatever – that are FAKE.  FAKE FAKE FAKE.  Oh boy, that’ a rant of another kind.  We are all so special, chic and urban and food is so cheap, that we don’t have to grow any of our own food anymore.  Nothing.  Sheez. And why am I the only one this bothers?

#5.  I am about to go clean the back corner of my bedroom behind  a bedside table (that is set on an angle) because I looked down it this morning and realized it has three inches of dust.  And I hear things there. I’m terribly afraid there might be creatures. Seriously.

On that note, I am going to leave you.   OH – except for my last ‘POST’ – which is one I am seriously considering actually posting:

#6. I am in the process of becoming a minimalist.  Everything must go.  Must have clear surfaces and wide open spaces.

 

Happy Posting

Trudy

 

 

*This particular Social Media site has so much product placement on TV it is nauseating. Therefore I will not name it.

 

 

 

How to choose your Electric Company (Texas but applies to many)

As a refresher, let me clarify that this website is about a variety of issues.  It is intended for those who:

1. Struggle with procrastination and/or a messy home (usually co-occurring but not always)

AND/OR:

2.Care about the Environment or other type issues such as food production

In keeping with both those issues, this post will be about finding the right Electricity Supplier if you are in an area where you are allowed to do so.

I put it off for years, and fell under the Status Quo supplier’s ‘variable rate’ – which is the highest and one you want to avoid.  I couldn’t figure out how to do it, didn’t know how to start, was afraid I would choose wrong. Suspected there might not be much difference in the providers anyway.

Then in February of this year, I was cleaning out an email account and found an email from my husband’s boss (who is an Electrical Engineer!) where my husband asked him how he picked his Electric Company – as I had complained that ‘we really should commit to an Electric Company’ – last year!  This email was one year old, and he listed the steps he follows – and that he finds February a good month in which to do it.  OK. So it was February, the perfect month.  I had a fairly clear agenda that day, and it was a thought that had been bugging me.  Time to actually do the deal.

Although the Boss Man had said his first step was to go to Powertochoose.org, – when I went there I didn’t understand enough about it to know how to choose.  So I googled “how to choose an electric company in Texas”. What I got was this site http://www.imaginaryplanet.net/weblogs/idiotprogrammer/2011/09/how-to-choose-a-texas-electric-provider-the-wrong-way/  and it was extremely informative, so I honestly recommend you read that article first.

Since the main theme of that article, and my life is “pollute as little as possible”, I knew I wanted wind power.

So I went to www.Powertochoose.org (PTC in future in this post) and let me tell you, they have a lot of work to do. More on that later, let’s tackle it literally step by step for now.

If you do not live in Texas – google to see if you have electricity choice in your state – most do.  There is a site dedicated to enabling you to make choices with side by side comparisons, if it helps – go to PTC and see how that site looks. Then find yours.

Here are the steps I recommend you follow:

Step 1 – know your useage.  Unless you know you are over 1000kwh consistently, you really must know your monthly useage – because the trick to Electric Companies is the ‘Base Charge’. This means, if you use less than a certain amount of electricity each month – you will get a charge just for that.  It made a huge difference to us because we actually use a low amount of electricity (Ms. Environmental Nut at work – plus small well designed house with good equipment).

So here is a shot of the very first screen you will see at PTC.

 

Before you do anything else, you are going to go out to your electrical meter and find the number on it.   Mine is a 9 digit number somewhat in the lower center of the meter.  Then you click on the “Smart Meter” link under the word Featured – I’ve circled it.

The next page is about your Smart Meter – and how it sends the info automatically to the Electric Company (I had no idea) and you can see your useage easily.  To do that, Under the paragraph entitled “Benefits” – click on the link www.smartmetertexas.com (or just go there with that link).

There you will be able to sign up, pick a username and password (frankly, I keep a small address book for that – I am sick of forgetting passwords) and register your smartmeter account.  Once you do that, and it only takes a few minutes, you can get your useage.  Once you log in, you will get a screen and “Usage” is one of the options across the top tab.  Pick that,  and a screen comes up with your address and smartmeter info.  Part of it looks like this:You will want to change the Report Type to Monthly – I have it circled, there are drop down options.  I also changed the start and end dates to be exactly one year from when i was working.  Under the graph is a listing in kwh of your actual useage.  Write that down.

Now you know your useage, it is time to go to Step 2.  Back to the PTC website.

Currently, PTC only sorts by “all” or “100% renewable” -  I wrote Customer Service and they are working on upgrading this.  I decided to do both – I knew I would end up with 100% renewable, I concur totally with the author of the above article, but I wanted to see how much it would cost me.

The best deal you can make is a 12 month fixed rate one – In my opinion and several other experts.  So I also clicked on the choice for “fixed rates only”.  Be very careful about that – variable rates will look low in the winter, and high in the winter and you will have a much harder time deciding what your yearly cost actually is.

Once I had fixed rates only, with 100% windpower, I chose the ones that looked the best (the best rate).  HOWEVER – to get the actual story, you have to click on the link that takes you to the Electricity Facts Label – because this is where the details of the Base Charge is located (think of it as the minimum charge).  This is somewhat tedious I admit, and again PTC Customer Service has told me they intend to change the website to include Base Charge details on the front with the Kwh rate, but you have to do so to have any idea what your yearly cost will be.

On a spreadsheet, I wrote the Kwh for each month.  Next to it, I wrote the rate for that company. Then I put another column to put info on whether it would incur a base charge for that month.  We are such a low use customer that there are only two months of the year we use more than 1000 kwh, and most companies have base charges of $9.99 extra anytime you use less than 1000 kwh.  The company I chose (StarTex) had the losest base charge – $4.99 for every month you use less than 499 kwh.

I got quite fancy with an IF Statement because I like to practice my Excel skills.  You can do this manually just as easily.  I could tell by looking at the EFL if a company was in the running for lowest and narrowed it down to 3.  My spreadsheet then figured out for me the total annual cost of each one.  The picture below shows the spreadsheet, with the IF statement.  The formula to the left of that is just the Kwh of the month times the cost/kilowat – another cell over to the right.

Since you will be doing this every single year, you might consider setting up the spreadsheet.  You need to get going tho, because the best time in my opinion to price electricity is the winter – I think the rates are lower.  I’m not sure what to do if it is summer now – maybe source the best variable rates til fall?  Maybe that’s another topic for another google query – I apologize for publishing this so late. It turned out to be harder to write about than I thought.

Here is my spreadsheet for anyone who can follow: 

Under the Star Tex total I put the total of the cheapest non-windpower company and found we will pay $78/yr more for wind power than if we had just gone ‘cheapest’. Considering this is STILL under what we are paying now, I think it a very good trade off for all the environmental benefits.  Texas is the largest producer per capita of carbon in the nation – and considering how addicted it is the Air Conditioning and how the majority of Electricity is coal produced, this fact does not surprise me.  $78 seems a very small amount to pay per year to push this in a better direction.

I hope you source your electricty supplier soon!

Best Wishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kill ‘em with Perserverence

Yup.  It’s been more than 6 weeks (is that possible?) since I wrote my last post.  Not one single soul – other than my cousin (God love you Amy!) is reading any of my posts (I’m keeping track).  I’ve fallen off in my crucial habits, but I’m still going on.  I’m not giving up. Wanna know why?  Cause I WANT to improve.  And this journey is, ultimately, only about me.

There are a lot of things I do right.  Some people would be perfectly happy with my life.  I’ve been married for 23 years to one wonderful man. I helped raise two unbelievably successful stepsons who totally rock.  I have a wonderful extended family, I have a great cat (seriously. a great cat).  My job is to keep the books and occasionally assist my husband with his work – he is a Mechanical Engineering Consultant. At times that work is boring beyond all description, but there is zero commute, zero dress code, and zero asshole co-workers with whom to contend.  It’s a very cushy gig. The only downside is when a project is due and we have to work over the weekend or long hours for a few days; OR when I have to do something mind-numbingly boring like count seats in a movie theatre.  Then I repeat my mantra: “love the dress code, love the commute, love the coworkers, money is good”.

My only problem is that damn one of not having a wand to take care of the mundane chores I hate around the house.  Like filing (UGH) or picking things up (UGH) or cleaning the bathroom or dusting – actually, I’d rather do those than pick things up and put them in their proper place.  What is UP with that?  I also hate, hate, hate throwing things away that should have another useful life – such as bent coat hangers.  I take still useable coat hangers back to the dry cleaners – they really do re-use them.  But bent ones?  No bueno for anything.  No you can’t recycle them (not where we are) – I asked.

Very frustrating.  So until we have a Cradle-to-Cradle designation for EVERYTHING (join me in helping that movement get going, won’t you?) – I suffer terribly throwing stuff away, and my house shows it.  It is NOT ready for hoarders mind you, it just has too much in it still.

That’s what made me start this blog – and I made good progress for awhile. Then Christmas Hell hit, I got the flu, we went on vacation where I hurt myself, and January-the-month-of work overload hit.  It *seems* like I slipped right back into just as bad as shape as ever.

But a further review shows I didn’t really.  We cleared up at least 20 cubic-ish feet up in the garage one weekend just by breaking down boxes and throwing some clearly trash stuff away.  I took a day to work in the shed and took another bunch of trash to the curb, plus a box to go to the hazardous waste plant.  Because I worked so hard on those habits, the house gets into shape much easier now under the chinese fire drill procedure, and I actually completed two deadlines BEFORE their deadline – and paid my bills early – so that when Bank of America had a total meltdown recently with their online bill pay unavailable the entire day I did not freak out like I normally would have.  This time, I could watch in smug satisfaction (tho I did resolve to move some money into a small regional bank my brother just happens to run so that if that happens in future I have a fall back). I also sourced out our electric carrier, that will be the next post – I’m very proud of that.

See, here’s the point.  If you want miraculous results – you will be disappointed.  If you make small daily changes, and tweak your attitude just a tad, you can build on those changes and eventually have a different life.  My goal is to change the way I look at a ‘thing to be done’.  Instead of finding a way or reason to put it off, I see if I can do it. That is very difficult for me but I think I am slowly changing it.

That’s my goal and my philosophy, and I’m stickin’ to it!!  And no matter how good my life is, I want to improve it – and no matter how crappy my house may look on a given day, I still have a wonderful life.

Don’t give up.

Trudy

 

Why Americans are fat, and trashing the planet

 

While my dad was visiting we went out to dinner several times when my husband was out-of-town (eating out every night on business).  For the most part, we do home-cooked, healthier meals but Dad and I went to a (chain, sadly) Mexican restaurant that wasn’t too bad, then the next night decided we had a hankerin’ for steak. We went to a nearby chain restaurant – I think I’ll name names and say Texas Roadhouse.

Frankly, I don’t like to eat steak out – I have a hatred of feedlots and mass-produced American beef – and my husband battles gout (which does not respond well to eating a lot of beef).  I buy what little beef we eat from a local Grass-fed ranch who processes the beef at a local, small abattoir.  It’s the way we all should eat beef – local, healthy, and humanely processed.  If you read how your average grain-fed beef is raised and processed, it would literally make you sick to your stomach (so why did I get that hankerin….. ?)  And Grass-fed beef is expensive enough that I assure you, you would eat less of it. We eat WAY less beef because of that cost – beans are better for you  and think of your meat money going into your local economy and keeping small ranchers afloat rather than money to the Agri-businesses which I believe to be evil.  That’s another post for another day, tho….

But this placed looked fun, I don’t go (ever) and thought I’d treat my dad.  Well, first of all – it was packed.  On Wednesday night.  So much for the recession in my opinion.  Secondly, it was noisy. I’m officially old, I admit it – but I can’t believe we think it’s good for digestion to have two or three TVs going, loud music, and highly obnoxious Birthday Singing going on.  Maybe that’s just for special occasions when everything needs to be stirred up and hopping?  I dunno, but I  prefer a quiet setting with supremely excellent food to a mad-house with run-of-the-mill schlock - but I must be in the minority.

THEN – they had a bucket of peanuts on the table when you arrive. I now know those are because they know the food is going to be awhile coming – but we do not need to sit there and chow down on peanuts while a huge meal is on the way.  At the same time, rolls were in the middle of the table – more crap we totally don’t need.

We did have the sense to only order 6 oz steaks (the smallest available) - which is still more steak than people should eat at one time!  I know that is shocking, but look up a serving size.  It’s 3-4 ozs.  The REALLY smart thing to do, and my husband and I do it all the time, is to split a meal – a whole potato and maybe an 8 oz steak (or less) split in half, and one extra vegetable would have been perfect.  But I didn’t want to suggest that to dad – maybe he would want his own.  Erg.  The steak was ‘ok’, but not great and it bothered me how it was raised – and the amount of grain and other bad things given to that poor beef.  But Dad is used to that kind of beef, and thought it fine.  Not highest quality, but ok.

He was smart enough to bring some of his home (in a container I took for that purpose) but I stupidly ate all mine.  The trick is to cut it in half BEFORE you start, and put that in the container. But I was off my game and didn’t have my strategy firmly enough in mind. BIG learning lesson for next time – if there ever is a next time, which I seriously doubt.  That place is just too noisy and much for me.

And yes, lots of people around us were over-weight.  I don’t know what the answer is going to be in this country to that, because the people who make money on making us fat are way better at mind-control than we are resisting them.  It scares the stuffing out of me.  PLUS – when I wanted regular butter for my potato rather than the sweet butter for the rolls they brought it to me in TWO plastic containers – the plastic that is used and thrown away at restaurants is enough to trash the planet on its own. Why am I the only one bothered by this?

The only truly enjoyable part was finding out details of my dad’s youth I had never known before, and not cooking a meal at home. The wine was good (and reasonably priced, which is refreshing) and I think we had a good time. But I was overstuffed, which I hate.  And I re-learned why I don’t eat out often!!  I resent the money, I eat too much, and the place bothers me. Seeing all these happy, fat people eating too much of the wrong food and having not one qualm about styrofoam, plastic and feedlot beef made me sad.

What happened to small, quiet family owned restaurants with a high quality chef?  Instead, we have chain-owned places with pre-shipped food that all tastes alike – so that ‘quality can be consistent’.  Why do we all love this so much?  I am so confused.  It can only be because people don’t cook anymore – we are too busy working, attending organized child activities (ugh) and watching TV.  No other way would everyone think these chain restaurants are wonderful. OH – and we think eating ‘cheap’ is more important than ‘quality’.

In a final twist that cements my refusal to eat beef other than my local grass-fed, here’s an article on mechanized tenderizing that discusses how the industry, in yet ANOTHER short-cut move that endangers our health, uses mechanized blades to ‘tenderize’ steak – which in fact drives E. Coli deep into the meet – making it almost impossible to kill it all when cooking to rare or even medium rare – the ONLY way to eat steak.  I’m done now, I officially declare.  No more steak in restaurants!!!

Cook a meal tonight at home, and find a local grass fed beef supplier!

Trudy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paybacks are Hell

OK – When I last posted – I had slacked off on my habits, my father was in town, and things were getting bad.  I wanted to get back into good habits, and frankly decided not to – in order to enjoy my 85-year-old father’s visit.  How many people are lucky enough to have parents in their 80s able to travel?  We sat and read, did crosswords, did a little work, read, sat in the sun, and read.  It was wonderful – but I knew the day of reckoning was ahead, as we were having company for dinner Sunday.  I ‘thought’ I could get a jump-start on Saturday morning some – but instead my poor dad injured his back and leg muscles overdoing a stretch and we ended up at the urgent care Saturday morning.

That was actually an interesting experience.  We knew he just needed some muscle relaxers to help them quit their spasms enough to heal – but I didn’t count on the fact that 85-year-olds in muscle pain cause worries in the practitioner that a 30-year-old doesn’t face. I think the PA seriously considered sending him to the hospital.  I convinced her to treat him like a 65-year-old (cause that’s how he acts) and promised any worsening in symptoms would get an immediate return or ER visit.

Then we had a hard time getting the meds because his insurance company wanted ‘pre-authorization’, and it took my intervention to get the pharmacist to call for that blada blada blada.  YIKES insurance companies are getting tougher and tougher to deal with – as we all know.

So I got nada done Sat morning, we had tickets to a 2 pm show of the Rockettes travel troupe, and we doped Dad up and ‘forced’ him to go – which he enjoyed thoroughly.  A key piece of info here: Dad saw the Rockettes in NYC in 1945, when he was 18 years old and stationed in New York before being shipped to Germany at the very end of WWII.  He went to Times Square on New Year’s Eve, met some Brooklyn girl, took her to dinner and the Rockettes, watched the ball come down at midnight, then took her home to Brooklyn on the subway and then took whatever transportation back to the camp – he can’t remember what it was. This whole story blows me away. Here’s a simple farm lad fresh out of basic training, drafted immediately after high school – who goes to NYC to have this big adventure – wow, very impressive to me.  Especially as MY parent  he was not that adventuresome. Rather staid, I would say.

So watching the Rockettes again was exciting for him and he enjoyed it thoroughly. Then we went to a friend’s for dinner that night, and well – nothing, nothing got done on the house. I went to sleep dreading Sunday – I knew it would be terrible but basically said to myself ”OK, you are taking the consequences of this and just doing the best you can.”  I worked from the time I got up to the time they walked in the door – my husband went golfing with his son and two friends (Dad was supposed to golf with them but I put my foot down and he agreed very quickly – I knew he was still too sore).  I had just got the house into a semi-presentable shape, and the desserts in the oven when they walked in.

It was worth it – three delightful young men thrilled to have a home cooked meal – and they scarfed everything in sight. I was glad I’d made two desserts – they were both enjoyed.  But my back was hurting and I was miserable much of the day and fell back into old ways of thinking.  “This could have been avoided” “how stupid was this?” “totally not worth it”.  I tried to resist – but old habits die hard.

I’m especially tired of the CRAP in the house.  As I was hauling piles into the bedroom (to stash them) I kept thinking “why do we have this!  We don’t use it obviously!”  The biggest problem now is that I really don’t know how to get rid of it – so much should NOT go in the trash – it needs to be recycled some way – but some of the items such as old CD disks need to be researched as I believe they can be re-used - (I thought I read they can be ground into plastic to make new ones? Is that possible? – see, more research needed). So they sit around til I get to it.  NOT GOOD!!!

Others battle the same problem and finally end up throwing things away that maybe could be recycled – such as metal coat hangers.  Does anyone know if they can be recycled?  I am overwhelmed with this – and suspect most of the people in the U.S. who stop to think about it or care at all are in the same boat.  That could be the topic of many many posts on here, and believe me – it will be!

For now – I’ve got to keep up better habits these next few days so I don’t get into that bind for Christmas!!

Take care.

Holy Chaos, Batman – a week without habits maketh a mess

OMGosh.  It’s been a week during which I neglected nearly everything.  My husband was traveling, so I ran more errands than usual and did more shopping – which I mostly hate but still do too often – I thought I ‘needed’ things – and just generally slacked off like I was on vacation.  Then when he returned, he had a cold, and I spent time tending that – then getting ready for his next back to back trip out.  In short, I didn’t do my habits – I dropped the “non-negotiables“.  (Which, as Nony points out, become way too negotiable for people like “us”).

Then my father came to visit – who luckily (or unluckily) bequeathed this whole bad-habit-of-untidiness thing to me so didn’t need cleaning for – other than the guest room, which was the one area I worked on last week.  He helps me with bookwork on my husband’s business, and it is a great time to catch up.  However, the house is now a royal purple mess and it is bothering me.  Furthermore, my dad is also a readaholic (apple-tree) so we tend to sit around and enjoy each other with mutual readathons.

SOOOOO —  it’s catchup time and I’m posting this article to see how long it takes me to get it back to where it was.  The chaos started with cleaning the guest room – dangling detritus was left on the island and counter which makes me not want to pick it up because I have to make decisions on where it goes and as you know, decisions are HARD. So that’s got to be the starting point – I promised my organizing-helper Glinda* (more on her later) I would put it away – she couldn’t believe I was ok leaving it there (yes, of course – she’s one of ‘them’).

So it is now noon on Wednesday – let’s see when I post things back to normal…

And sadly, it seems I have to start my habits all over again because I’m not sure they’ve taken adequately if I let them drop this easily. That will be a post topic, too….

Moral of story – habits are the key to it all, and if you backslide, over and over, – get back on the horse.  Over and over and over.

 

*Nope – not her real name either.  Sometimes she is like Glinda the Good Witch of the East from Wizard of Oz (when a room or area is better and cleaner after her visits) and sometimes (when she forces me to make decisions and throw things away) she is like the Wicked Witch of the West.  But mostly she is a life saver for me and I think of her as my Good Witch with a steely center.

Heal your own Heartburn – but be ready to quit what’s hurting you

Since this is an ‘all over the map’ blog and I can write about whatever I jolly well want, I’m going to do a brief blurb on my recent heartburn experience, and what I found in my search for a cure that didn’t involve a trip to the doctor.

My episode started the first week of October. I had terrible stomach-heartburn type pain – that antacids barely touched.  In desperation, I bought some Prilosec and took one 14 day course.  I’m not sure these drugs should be OTC, but I was grateful to have it – and although it took 4 days to start working, it did work. But it didn’t go away completely, and it didn’t make a bit of sense to me to keep taking something to block acid when we need acid!  The more I read on this, the more doubtful I became that all heartburn is caused by ‘too much acid’.  Yet that is certainly how all heartburn seems to be treated.  At a cost of billions of dollars – going to Big Pharm.

I don’t hate Big Pharm – and am eternally grateful for such things as Birth Control pills and antibiotics – and frankly Allopurinol is a lifesaver for many gout sufferers. But I don’t like taking meds for something that can be tackled with lifestyle changes, and Big Pharm loves to come up with meds that require long term use, in many cases unnecessary – resulting in significant, ongoing profits to them (of course). I did NOT want to be a chronic PPI (Proton Pump Inhibitor, what Prilosec and Nexxium are) taker, so I researched and made changes.  Here is what I learned, and started implementing.

Heartburn is basically what happens when stomach acid flows back up into the Esophagus. The Esophagus is not protected with the same lining your stomach has – to protect itself against the acid necessary to dissolve, well, meat.  Therefore, any acid on it is going to burn and do damage if repeated.

The most important piece of anatomy (for heartburn) that you need to understand and work with (not against) is the Lower Esophageal Sphincter. I was completely unaware such a thing existed, but once I became aware, everything fell into place.  Of COURSE there had to be something stopping the acid from going back up – but letting it go down.  It is the sphincter, a most ingenius device.  However, we tend to abuse our LES, and it probably weakens with age to boot.

So here are the things I learned that can help you protect your Esophagus, and diminish your pain naturally.

  • Sleep on your left side.  Gravity needs to work for you, not against you, and if you take a look at the crude stomach anantomy drawing I truly did draw myself, you will see why.  If this person sleeps on their right side, the stomach contents can drip into and press onto the LES.  If they sleep on their left, the contents stay away from the LES. If you want to see a professionally done view of the stomach, there are about a billion illustrations on the ‘net.
  • Just as importantly, raise the head of your bed.  This helps gravity even more by draining the acid DOWN and through the stomach.  This can be done by putting some blocks (even books) under the head feet of the bed – and there are wedges online that work too.  Make sure that the wedge fully supports the whole torso – pillows don’t work, and a too short wedge doesn’t work either.  You want a straight slant.  I recently bought this wedge, and gave it to a friend to take on vacation because she was in much worse shape that I was.  She loved it so much, and it worked so well, she kept it and I am ordering another.  It also comes in a hypoallergenic cover version.  (Full disclosure – if you click those links and buy that wedge I get a very small amount of money – that’s not my purpose here, it’s really a great wedge with all the attributes you want).  There are many ways to raise the head of your bed – feel free to research them.  I like this pillow because it folds into its own carrying case for travel.
  • Don’t wear tight clothes – they press on your stomach and push the contents up into the LES.  Your goal is to keep things away from that long enough for it to heal.
  • In this same vein, try to lose weight. That is a very tough thing to do – and it should be a secondary goal – your first is to get a healthy lifestyle which will lead to that.  Eat healthy, exercise moderately (but not weight-lifting or other activities that press the stomach in any way – walking is the best activity) and get enough sleep.  Losing weight should follow – and the slower you lose it the better.
  • Do not eat 3-4 hours before going to bed or lying down. This makes so much sense when you know about the LES and how it works – you don’t want a bunch of food pressing on it – stay upright long enough to digest the food.
  • Eat smaller meals!  When I was miserable, I had to eat tiny little meals every 2 hours. It was a pain, but it helped tremendously.  When your LES is weakened, it simply can’t handle any pressure from a large meal on it.  At the very least, be aware of what eating ginormous amounts at a time will do – push on the LES and weaken it.
  • Just as important as ALL those previous items, tho – is to STOP EATING AND DRINKING WHAT HURTS YOU.  Many of us have a hard time with this. Here are the things that weaken the LES, and should be avoided:

1. Alcohol.  Yup.  Relaxes the LES big time.  If you are taking meds to enable you to continue to drink too much – you need to seriously reconsider your priorities.

2. Carbonation. This is frankly what did me in. My husband and I purchased a Soda Stream and were enjoying sparkling water every night.  Love it.  It does not, however, love me.  I just didn’t understand how the carbonation was expanding my stomach and pressing on that LES.  Giving it up was not fun, but heartburn was worse.  My friend above was drinking 2-3 diet sodas a day (low acid, lots of carbonation) and not understanding why her heartburn wasn’t getting better. She’s been on PPIs for YEARS now!! This is not a good thing.

3. Fat also relaxes the LES.  Lean protein strengthens it – Lean protein like beans, frankly.  Very lean chicken and fish is probably also ok – but if you add more beans to your diet, it is healthy in so many ways.  Don’t overdo it – and a little Beano can help if you are afraid of flatulence, but as your body adjusts, that should not be a problem. Vegetables and fruits also help with your weight loss goals, and are a healthy mix to your diet. Try to stay away from sugar, chocolate (big time at least in the beginning) and processed carbs – like white pasta and rice.  One guy on the ‘net has a theory that as we age, LESS acid makes it more difficult to process those items, they ferment in the stomach, and produce gas which – expands on the LES and weakens it.  I don’t know if I go that far, but in the beginning, I stuck to very lean meats, beans, veggies and fruits – small amounts at a time and stayed away from sugar, fried foods, and high fat meat. THAT is just a good idea for all of us frankly!

4. Chocolate also relaxes the LES.  This is very sad in my world, but once I stopped the carbonation and diet sodas (of which I also drank too much) I found I could handle small amounts of high quality dark chocolate. That is such a life enhancer for me that I very much want to keep it in my life – but moderation is the key – and I will give up other things to keep that.  If you are in a crisis with heartburn, you may need to give this up for now and see how it goes.

5. Peppermint!  Peppermint relaxes the LES and should be avoided by all heartburn sufferers. Many people are unaware of this – I know I was, as was my friend – who was sucking on peppermints thinking they would help her.

What strenghtens your LES is protein – lean protein, not fat. During my most miserable time I switched to legume-based protein (beans) and very lean meats such as lean cuts of chicken and turkey – and small amounts of those.  Most Americans eat way too much – and way too much protein.  Carbs should be complex – whole grains, and vegetables.

Gee, sound familiar?  A healthy diet!  Imagine that.

If you keep taking your PPIs you might get relief – but at much cost.  I think very few heartburn cases are caused by high acid – some is even caused by low acid!  If you block even more acid, you could be in a world of hurt.  You can perhaps keep eating and drinking things bad for you if you take PPIs, but you absorb calcium less, and are putting yourself at risk of infection – as acid kills many bacteria that would otherwise sneak into our system.

Here is an excellent article outlining most of this info – but she neglected to mention sleeping on your left side – and avoiding some of the items I mentioned.

NOTE: If these steps don’t cure your heartburn almost completely, or if you still have stomach pain – you should check with your doctor – you may have an ulcer – which is caused by the H. Pylori bacteria. That are also natural ways to fight H. Pylori, and you can research those – but don’t try to treat yourself too long – at some point if you still have pain, talk to your doctor.  And of course as a caveat I ought to say here that severe abdominal/chest pain can be a symptom of life-threatening illness – make sure you really have heartburn – if there is any doubt, check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A trip to the other side

Today is my favorite day of the year – the day after Thanksgiving. The house is in some semblance of order (ok, not the guest room where everything got shoved…but, you know) there are three days worth of leftovers in the fridge, and I have a stack of books (because the library is CLOSED FOR FOUR DAYS – my god, don’t they know how scary that is?) and I am giving myself permission to do nothing but read.

However,  in order to get to this point, you know I spent two days of non-stop work.  Wednesday I worked most of the day – first on WORK work (my husband/boss did not understand that I had asked for that day off) then on pre-cooking and some cleaning work.  Thursday I woke at 7:30, and since the turkey didn’t go in til 10 – I had time to get some last cleaning chores done. Now, in full disclosure I will state that I made a typical error at this point - I didn’t prioritize and do most important first – or, I forgot that the guest bath needed cleaning – you’ll see in a bit.

Instead, I went a bit to the ‘other’ side.  I suddenly wanted all the appliances, including the outside of the fridge, clean and shiny.  I for some reason wanted the top of the fridge cleaned (why?  no one sees up there – maybe I was afraid of allergies being triggered?)  As I cleaned the appliances and got every speck -I felt what ‘other people’ feel when cleaning.  It felt good!  (WTF?)  I wanted to do more and couldn’t really stop (WTF!!!???)  I got a stool and looked on top of the fridge and was horrified to discover I don’t think I had cleaned it since the kitchen remodel 2 years ago – there was drywall crumbs up there!! Well, at that point I had to back off and just give it a quick swipe to get the worst – no way I could clean all that - it needed the vacuum and a major effort.

Luckily about this time my husband woke, and I had to throw breakfast together and get the stuffing made and in the bird and the bird in the oven, and me in the shower. Things got to the normal rushed Thanksgiving pace.  As our guests were due to arrive, I remembered the bath room and had to do franctic cleaning (not nasty cleaning, just up-to-guest level cleaning) and was sweeping the entry hall/kitchen floor when they arrived – so I had to shove the dirt into the laundry room. Ended on a ‘typical me’ note – but sure had a very interesting beginning!!

That’s probably why I don’t like to do that or give into those urges – it takes me to a place that makes me give up too many other things I like. The trick no doubt is to do those semi regularly? hmmm.  Some people SCHEDULE them – yuck!! No way am I writing that crap down.  Perhaps spend a little extra time on my nightly clean up?  Must ponder this…..

Happy Day After Thanksgiving!