Traci, a tomboy?

Hmmm.  This weekend something happened that made me question a lot about myself, stuff that I’ve been 100% sure about my entire life.  That is, my femininity.  I’ve always been a girly-girl, or so I thought.  I always have, and still do, like pink, and purple, wearing make-up, and nail polish.  Here though, it apparently ends.

For two years now I’ve worked in a department at 3M with all men, save for one other woman for a few months.  I discovered I like that kind of work…it doesn’t bother me one iota to get dirty, grease under my nails, take apart a machine, climb, lift, etc.  In fact I love it!  It’s interesting, and makes me feel like I’m really doing something on the job.  Still, I kind of discounted that, and didn’t think much of it, until this weekend.

At work they asked for volunteers for Habitat For Humanity, to help side a house.  I’ve never done anything like that before, but it sounded fun, and I’ve made it a mission to volunteer more this year, so I signed up.  I happily put on my steel toe shoes in the morning, looking forward to a day to lifting, using tools, and learning how to side.  Whoopee!  Except for, when I got there, the siding was already done!  Apparently they had worked like crazy, and now there was some painting to do indoors, and the men were doing I’m not sure what outdoors.  So, I was asked, nicely, to go help out inside.  It was kind of okay…I had to climb a tall ladder propped up in a stairwell, which the other women were afraid to do.  Since I’m kind of fool hardy I volunteered to do it.  It was definitely nerve-wracking, but was satisfying to get it done.  Then, I painted a bathroom, and basically hung around, waiting and wandering aimlessly while looking for something else to do.  (The house was 90% done, and there wasn’t really a lot of physical labor left to do.)  So I eventually followed the men when they went downstairs to clean it up, and finally got to move and be active, carrying stuff up to put in a dump truck that was backed up to the house.  Yay, I could move and do stuff, and feel like I was contributing!  At that moment it occurred to me…I’d so much rather work with the men, being active, than doing “women’s work”, and talking about “women’s things”, whatever that may be.  It struck me, like a bolt of lightening, how it must have been for our pioneer ancestors.  How some of the women must have longed to go out and work in the fields, or help build a barn, birth a cow, etc., rather than stay inside and cook and sew!!  I always presumed, and in fact felt that I knew without question that I’d love to be a woman in those days, that I’d love to do the inside work.  Now…not so sure.  I’m just so thankful to live in this day and age, when a woman is free to learn new things, whatever they may be…when we’re not bound to social norms related to sexism, but can do what makes us happy.  Same as men being nurses, or elementary school teachers, or women driving a semi, what makes us happy, and our hearts sing should be what we pursue, not what our sex dictates.  I realized that, in a solitary moment, while carrying wood up to a dump truck, on a drizzly Saturday.  We never know when our inspiration will hit. 🙂

Okay, another day…

Well, as you all know, I’m an avid reader, and when I find a book I like I can’t put it down.  Having a Kindle is the single greatest thing that’s happened to me in years, lol!  At any rate, I now read all five types and I am changing what I think I am to metal.  Sure, I have water characteristics, a lot of them, but metal ones are much more me.  Metals (and I think Jon is this too) like to keep to themselves, they absorb an incredible amount of information (almost too much, they feel overwhelmed by sensory data sometimes, and need to decompress later), they are extremely intuitive, and can sense what other people are feeling almost immediately.  People open up to them, because they’re very understanding (think Jon more than me there), and they enjoy deep conversations, versus just fluff.  Oh, and, this is me, not sure about Jon, but they like their house very minimalistic (hello me for sure!!), with NO clutter at all.  Right now I’m getting ready for a garage sale, and hopefully selling tons of stuff I’ve collected over the years, and it’s wonderful.  It did say in the book that metals have to be careful not to give up too much, lol, that they’re very likely to be too spartan, and also to give up too much in the way of happiness, and be semi-content living by themselves, or giving too much to others at their own expense.  Hmm, is interesting!  Oh, that person often has a big nose (knew there had to be a reason for that, haha), and a lot of space between their features, as I do.  People say that Jon and I look alike (sorry Jon, and obviously not including the nose), but I can see a lot of these traits in him.  Oh, I think I know Ray’s trait too, earth, but will expound on that another time.

Okay, something different.  Had three weeks off, and go back to work today.  So I had time to think about things, and see what I need to change in my life.  Solely for my own health, and personal preferences, I am (drum roll) going to become a vegetarian.  I’ve never liked the thought of eating animals, since I was a small child, but mainly it’s for health reasons and also because I absolutely love it!  I crave vegetables like crazy, and fresh, delicious foods make me feel good.  I have more energy eating like that, and I am really looking forward to maintaining my weight naturally.

Now I can imagine people thinking that perhaps I won’t be healthy, that a person needs proteins.  To a point that’s true, but I’m not becoming vegan (and, by the way, I’ll gladly cook meat for others), so I’ll have milk, eggs, etc.  Not to mention nuts, cheese, beans, etc., have plenty of protein.  I actually read that most Americans get way more protein than they need, and unless you ate only rice and grapes you’d have plenty of it.  So I’m not going to worry about that too much.

Anyway, I read on the internet that roasting vegetables is so delicious…so last night I turned the oven to 420, as recommended, and first put in a cut up sweet potato and a carrot, (drizzle all with olive oil and sprinkle with salt…sea salt was recommended but I only had regular), then a half-hour later some cut up broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans from my garden.  I cooked it another half-hour, approximately, until all were tender and carmelized…they were so incredibly good that it was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever had in my life!!  I could eat that every night of my life (changing up the vegetables, of course), and never grow tired of it, and in fact in the blog that I read the person said that she does eat them every night, and she is in perfect shape.  Whoohoo!

Thanks Jon for your comment…yeah it was amazing!  Okay, have to get ready, busy day…later!

Expanding my mind…one neuron at a time

Okay, yes, I’m a skeptical person.  Maybe extremely so, in regards to some things.  However, last week I was flipping through channels, and for some reason (I don’t usually watch him) stopped on Dr. Oz.  His guest was Jean Haner, a woman who has studied and become an expert in face reading.  What’s that you say?  It’s an ancient Chinese discipline, where Chinese doctors of old days discovered that certain diseases and personality traits corresponded with certain traits on a person’s face.  Hocus-pocus perhaps, but part of the reason it was developed was that in olden times a male physician wasn’t allowed to touch female patients, and therefore they had to learn how to diagnose disease in other ways.  Western medicine is of course skeptical of anything not proven factually, but I am inclined to believe that something with centuries of data backing it up might have something to it.  Couple that with the fact that she read a few faces from the audience, and sure enough immediately diagnosed what their physical weaknesses were.

So, I was intrigued, more so by the personality aspect of it.  Supposedly  you can tell a lot about why you feel the way you do about things by your specific traits…one of which corresponds to all of us (water, wood, earth, fire, and metal).  I can picture some rolling their eyes now, and thinking I’ve gone off the deep end!  No, I’m still a Christian, it’s just there’s a lot to this…my sign is water, and it’s amazing how it correlates…waters like to have space, be fluid in their lives (i.e. moving a lot, not being tied down, lol), they like to sleep late and stay up late, they are dreamy and introspective.  I had to laugh when she described how a waters house is decorated…she said their artwork will often feature water.  Well I have three paintings of bridges, accompanied by water, and my Twitter background is of the ocean.  Perhaps a coincidence, but funny!  Then (this is REALLY weird), she talked about childhood stuff.  On the rims of your ears are zones that correlate with different years, and when there is a “flaw” of some sort it corresponds to the age you were when some trauma happened to you as a child.  SURE ENOUGH I have a nodule on the rim of my ear corresponding to the age of 10 and early teen years!!!  I couldn’t believe it!  Then she talked about wrinkles.  I thought I was so lucky not to have many, but oh no–laugh lines are very important, and the fact that I don’t many means my life hasn’t had as much joy as I’d like.  Then (this is amazing beyond belief) I do have one wrinkle, one straight line in between my eyes, that I naturally hate.  Well, of all things, what that means is that you had an either emotionally or physically absent father as a child!!  I’m sure I didn’t breathe for several seconds after I read that, couldn’t believe it.  How could those two things be just coincidence?

Then I’m reading about the wood personality traits now, and wow, is that ever Seth!  That person has very thick eyebrows, (as well as other traits of course), and they love to argue as teens, but they always call it “discussing”, lol.  I had to laugh, that was so funny, almost as if someone was watching behind the scenes!  It did say that’s a great trait in adulthood, that person will never let anyone push them around, and they often accomplish a lot.

Not sure about the rest of my family, and they’re probably dreading me “diagnosing” them, haha, but it’s so interesting…so that’s my story for the week, will see how it goes…if nothing else I’ll be more understanding of others, and compassionate, understanding how they function and think.  That alone is a great thing, and makes it all worth it, to me!

Contemplation…it’s making me wait

I’ve come to a decision recently, that may shock some, particularly those who subscribe to the “American Dream”.  As you all know, I was very excited to move into a house.  I let myself float along in the romanticism of it…how wonderful it would be to have my own place, no noise from neighbors, I could paint it whatever colors I wanted, have a garden, a basement, a garage.  It would be my own place, and there would be wonderful holiday gatherings there, memories to be made, and in only 30 short years, haha, it would be mine.

Except for reality has reared its ugly head.  Yes, there are wonderful things about owning a home.  There are also not so nice things.  I live in fear and anxiety, always wondering when something is going to break down (as a homeowner it’s a matter of when, not if).  When there is a huge blizzard I’m the one who has to do snow removal, I have to figure out where to put the 20 bags of leaves that I back-breakingly gather, the mortgage goes up significantly sometimes, even with a fixed-rate mortgage, as happened to me.  When it rains I hold my breath, hoping the basement won’t flood, or the roof leak.  A couple of weeks ago the fridge went out, suddenly and unequivocally, necessitating an emergency run to Sears, and putting it on my credit card, which made me sick, but there wasn’t any other choice.  Not to mention that my house, my humble abode, is small…make that very small.  There’s scarcely room for my family to crowd in, scarcely room for us to gather around the table, or to put up a Christmas tree.  Sure, there’s room for about 10 cars in the driveway, but to fit inside is another story.

Yes, I have loved the outdoor gatherings.  This summer we all ate in the garage (because it was a cool and rainy day, otherwise we’d have been outside), and it was peaceful with the door open, breathing in the fresh air, and observing the beautiful view.  That is something that I like…I have numerous trees in my yard.  One of them is laden with hundreds of apples, waiting for fall’s ripe picking.  I planted rhubarb this summer, and a raspberry bush, long a childhood dream.  My garden is lush and growing.  My neighbors, master gardeners, have grape vines growing on the fence, a golden apple tree by my garage, and a gorgeous lilac bush.  There are beautiful, huge fir trees…one morning a huge hawk startled me by flying out of one, towards the creek, as I walked to the garage in the morning.  Rabbits and squirrels play in my yard, and pigeons come daily to eat the pea gravel from the driveway.  I don’t chase them off as there’s plenty, and they kind of keep me company. 

 

But I still have been thinking about renting again.  If I had stayed in my apartment, the one that I lived in when Seth was a teen, I’d be saving almost $400 a month.  That could be saved, and used on trips, things that I would remember.  Going to visit my sister, going to Fargo for the weekend, maybe even taking a long desired trip to Boston, to see my Aunt and Uncle.  Not to mention it’s worry free!!!!  That’s most of it.  When the refrigerator dies, I’ll just dial a number, and like magic get a new one.  When the roof leaks, or there’s an electrical short, the same.  When it snows a huge amount I can just sit inside and revel in not having to worry about removing it…same goes for leaves, or anything else that I currently worry about in regards to my yard.

So, as you all probably realize by now, I’ve decided to investigate selling my home.  I don’t know if it makes sense to do so at this point…I haven’t owned it for very long, and don’t want to lose a lot of money.  On the other hand, I want to get out before there’s something more I have to replace, besides the refrigerator.  I am hoping that if I include my new snowblower, that it would sweeten the deal.  There are fortunately some apartment complexes, nice, newer ones, that allow cats (as Arnold is much better, thank-you you all for your thoughts regarding him). 

 

Don’t worry, by the way boys, I won’t expect you guys to help me move yet again!  Will be arranging that myself.  I do have wonderful children who have helped me in so many ways, but I don’t want to take advantage of them, and they are all busy in their own lives.

I appreciate, and ask for comments regarding this…am I crazy, or do you see merit in this?  Maybe I’m just a worry wart, wouldn’t be surprised there.  Thank-you for your insight!

Another Day of Rest

Well, today is a good day.  Confusing, but hopeful.  First it started with a miracle for me…I slept the entire night, the first since my surgery!  Prior to that it was only an hour or two at a time, and often just  few minutes before I’d awaken coughing and with severe throat pain.  Finally (I know, I’m a slow learner, lol) it occurred to me that I hadn’t been taking my Prilosec since I got home.  I honestly didn’t think I needed it after surgery, especially since my ENT prescribed it in an effort to avoid surgery, which didn’t work.  I remember protesting that there was NO WAY I had acid reflux, at which he laughed, and said that rarely do people believe that they have it, but then they feel so much better after.  So, I tried it, and it did help some.  Not all the way though, hence ended up getting the surgery anyway.  So, I wasn’t entirely crazy in thinking that I didn’t need it afterwards, I remember being happy that now I was off it.

 

However, when I finally decided to try it again, WOW what an amazing difference!!!  I collapsed into bed, exhausted from lack of sleep.  I mean I’ve been so tired that I’ve been feverish, had chills, and actually felt like I was a little kid coming down with the flu.  Ugh.  However, last night, fell asleep immediately, and didn’t wake up even once until morning!!!  It was light in my room when I awakened, and to say that I felt so much better doesn’t begin to touch the difference.  It’s crazy what a difference sleep can make…obviously I’m a person who very much needs mine.

 

Enough about me though, first thing on the agenda was to call the vet.  Dr. Svenson said Arnold was doing better, and he wanted to try a different food one more time.  I agreed–of course–but said that if it happens again that that’ll be it.  He agreed, and I picked him up, looking MUCH brighter and happier than when I took him.  He still isn’t himself, still is resting a lot.  I am going to give him a bath tonight, (fortunately he doesn’t mind baths, so I won’t be stressing him), and I’ve made up my mind that he’s not going outside anymore.  That will be extremely difficult as he adores being outside, and my ears will be assaulted by nonstop meowing to get out there.  I will have to be tough though, as I want to make sure he doesn’t get into anything.

 

Aside from that…just finished, of all things, “The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, And Ducks Built A Dynasty”.  I never in a million years would have dreamed I’d be a Duck Dynasty fan!  They are such a neat family, however, so full of love and Christian faith.  I love watching the show, and reading the book, finding out the trials and tribulations that they went through prior to their very hard-earned success, was amazing and inspiring.  Would highly recommend for anyone to read.

 

Okay, will sign off for now, and try to think of something more interesting than a blow by blow account of my day, haha.  Just wanted to update anyone who is concerned though, and I thank-you for your caring and support.

Arnold as I remember him

Arnold as I remember him

Arnold is always as gentle as he appeared in this picture. It’s funny, his front incisor teeth are big, and stick out, so he could appear fierce, but he’s completely the opposite. When you pick him up he melts into you and purrs, happy as can be.

Arnold the Great

I took Arnold to the vet today.  I finally had back his carrier, and I couldn’t bear the thought of having to wait until Monday to bring him in, not as bad off as he is.  So I called the vet, feeling very bad that it’s a Saturday, and his answering service promised he’d call me.  He did, a short while later.  Might I say I have the best vet in the world, only a step behind James Herriot (one of my favorite authors of all time, the English veterinarian of “All Creatures Great and Small” fame).  Anyway, my vet is similar to him…very caring with animals, never upset about being called on a weekend, truly just worrying and fussing over his charges like a worried parent.  For many years, at least a couple of decades, he donated for free his services to the Humane Society, and spayed, neutered, and provided care to countless homeless animals for free.  Not to mention that Arnold always senses that Dr. Svenson cares about him, and never tries to get away, but instead seems almost relieved to be there.

 

So kindly Dr. Svenson told me to bring him in at 5.  I did so, and the first thing he did was give him 400 mls of fluid (he lost another pound since he was last there in May), and a steroid shot.  He unfortunately concurred that probably the most humane thing to do, at this point, is put him to sleep.  I told him my grandchildren want to see him one last time, and may need to go to the clinic on Monday, to say goodbye, and he agreed, and said they’d keep him going until then. 

 

So I am relieved that he’s getting fluid, and not dehydrated, but sad as well, that it is likely the end of the road for him.  I’m just so thankful for a saint like Dr. Svenson, a man who truly loves the animals as if they were his own.

 

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Am watching the news right now, about the plane crash at the San Francisco International Airport.  What a tragedy.  I think of the dozens of times I’ve taken off in a plane, or landed, perhaps more than 50 by now.  Always in the back of my mind was a sense of relief at both a successful take-off or landing.  I can’t imagine how these poor folks were feeling, going through that, and the survivors need our prayers, not to mention family members of those who perished.  Yes, it’s cliche, but we never know when the end will be, when our lives will be suddenly changed irrevocably, and forever.  How important to cherish what we have…and our family and friends.  I’m sure a lot of America, and the world, feels the same way tonight.

A slice of Americana…aka “Walmart”

As you know, I had my tonsils out, exactly eight days ago.  Prior to this I hadn’t had any surgery aside from relatively minor ones…a ganglion cyst removed from my wrist, venous ablation on my legs.  Since I’m in good health, active, and can tolerate pain pretty well, I thought whew, I’d bounce back in no time!  Young kids will have nothing on me!  Well, now I humbly have my tail between my legs, feeling like not just a truck but an 18 wheeler with a trailer attached ran over me, and who knows when I’ll be feeling back to normal.

Not to say that it’s been all bad.  I can’t tolerate the pain meds (make me nauseous and dizzy), so I’ve been getting by with acetaminophen.  According to the message boards I’ve been reading, that’s very rare, the majority of people not only take all their medicine, but often call the doctor and beg for more.  So I am glad about that.  No chance of a painkiller addiction for me, haha, I can’t stand the stuff.  As far as activity, I WANT to be active, but was cautioned not to by my doctor.  Too early of activity, before the scabs fall off, can cause severe bleeding.  That doesn’t sound like anything I want a tiny part of, so I’m spending my days going from the couch to the kitchen, downstairs to pet Arnold (more about that later), sitting on the couch for an hour, then sinking down cozily for an hour’s nap.  Wow, don’t know how I’ll manage to go back to work, I feel like a newborn baby who’s sleep schedule is entirely messed up.

At any rate, the pain wasn’t too bad until the last couple of days, when it got way worse.  The doctor warned me that it would, and I stoically nodded, sure I could take it.  Well, I can, all except for that is, eating.  It is so difficult to eat when your throat feels like little men with ice picks are merrily pecking at it, especially when you attempt to swallow food.  Soft things go down okay, but anything with a tiny bit of substance…a piece of bread, pasta, rice, baked beans…yikes.

So at any rate I’m out of ice cream, and wishing desperately that I had some.  I finally decided to make a Walmart trip, and join the land of the living.  It will be fun to get out, fun to see people, life in general.  To smell the fresh air, drive the car.  Little things that you take entirely for granted until you’re housebound and going out of your mind.

So in the car I went, drove there, and first thing I saw, when I walked in, was a very pleasant looking African American family.  They had their carts huddled together, and were talking.  I was struck by how cute a little girl was, in bright pink, with barrettes in her hair.  As I walked through the store I saw the mixture of people that have marked Aberdeen as of recent years…many more black people, Mexican, people from Burma (Karen), and several other nationalities.  I am ashamed to say that I have heard people in town speak disparagingly of this, that they don’t like the diversity.  I, however, relish it.  It reminds me of when I lived in several big cities.  The people have been nothing but nice to me, and I think it’s good for our children to see that not everyone is the same on the outside (although a good opportunity to teach that we’re the same on the inside).  I was explaining this to a friend, a friend who says she doesn’t like or trust Mexican people, and she said that maybe I didn’t know that several years ago a Mexican man grabbed her purse, knocking her down in the process, as she was going into Kesslers, another grocery store in town.  I replied that yes, I did know about that, but there have been plenty of crimes committed by white people too.  The color of your skin has nothing to do with it.  I’ve never heard her say that she doesn’t trust white people now, after reading some article about a particularly nefarious crime that was committed by one.  In a way I feel sorry for her, and others…for them this is change, and many don’t like it.  For me it’s comfort, what I’m used to.  I like being a melting pot.  It kind of tickles me that little Aberdeen, in the middle of South Dakota, can be one.  It reminds me of how we all need to stick together, to love our fellow humans regardless of external trappings.

This reminds me too of the Hutterites, the religious group here in SD (and in many other places, even worldwide).  They too have an (undeserved) bad rap, and some people treat them as vermin when they go into a store, watching them like crazy and having palpatations almost.  Well, I have visited many, many colonies from when I did respiratory home care, and these are some of the nicest, most generous, caring folks that you’d ever want to meet.  Rarely did I leave someone’s home without a gift of some sort…fruit, homegrown vegetables, a gigantic chocolate bar.  Often I was invited to eat with them too, and oh my the food makes me mouth water even now.  It was delicious, and totally homemade…I daresay their food rarely had a preservative or artificial anything.  It was salt of the earth, wholesome, and it filled not only my stomach but spirit as well.

To further cement my relationship with these wonderful people, at one colony in particular the gentleman that I saw insisted that I put the colony’s phone # in my cell phone.  “That way if you’re ever stuck somewhere you can give us a call and we’ll help you out.”  They would have too…in fact this same gentleman was absolutely aghast when I told him that I had recently moved to a different apartment (this was years ago).  “You should have told me!” he scolded me.  “I would have gotten together a group of men to help!”  Mind you, this Hutterite gentleman had a fatherly interest in me only, he was married, and his wife was the sweetest lady.  He always worried and fussed over me though, and as I don’t have a father it was incredibly touching to me.

That’s how it is with most of us…at a distance we look different.  Perhaps it’s our skin color, clothing, way of life, accent, or a myriad of other things.  Still though, if we resist fear, and look for things that bind us, we could open our lives to friendship, love, and joy that is there, just waiting for us to be open to it.  So, my Walmart, the quintessential tie that binds us, is fine with me.  It’s the American experience.

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Not sure about Arnold today.  He’s still weak, still having diarrhea.  I would have taken him to the vet today if I had the carrier, but the woman who has it promises to bring it back tomorrow.  I have a feeling the clinic would have been closed anyway, being as it’s a Friday after the 4th.  At any rate, he slept all day, lapped up a tiny bit of water, and relished my pets.  I made him chicken broth, cooled it, and presented it to him, thinking that he probably needs some salt replacement.  He refused it though, and as I’m sure he really needs an IV I didn’t push it.

Anyway, when I got home from Walmart I wet with warm water a couple of the washcloths I bought specifically for him.  I figured I could clean him and throw them away.  So I opened the door to downstairs and to my shock he was at the top of the stairs.  I let him up, just by the stairs, and cleaned him as best I could.  His eyes are mattery, hair dusty, shedding, and with dried diarrhea on his hind legs and tail.  He’s so far from the Arnold he used to be, with a squeaky clean, silky coat.  The kids used to laugh, that he never quit cleaning himself, which is kind of true…he was fastidiously clean, and well groomed.  He never had dirt on his coat, and he always smelled completely fresh.

After cleaning him I brought him back downstairs.  I could tell he didn’t want to go, and I didn’t blame him at all…he’s always been a people cat, and wanting to be right by us.  So I sat by him for a long time, petting him and giving him attention.  He again lapped a tiny bit of water.  Then, to my shock, he slowly and painfully made his way up the stairs again.  I just couldn’t leave him downstairs again, and when he stood at the back door, wanting to go out, I know that I shouldn’t, but I let him go.  I’m sure my sons will be in horror that I let him out, but in my mind I don’t know how long he has to live.  I don’t want his last days to be stuck in the basement.  He loves to be outdoors, just lying in the grass.  (It has occurred to me that perhaps he’s eaten something poisonous, I will ask the vet about that.)  So I put a bowl of water by the door, and opened the door.  He crept out into the moonlight, and in the dark you can’t tell he’s sick.  I’m hoping perhaps the air and him being happy will help him.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll open the door again (he always comes back) and he’ll be there, happy and hungry.  Of course there’s another part of me that fears that he’ll disappear to die…I did have a cat do that before too.  All I know is that he wanted it so much, and if letting him out can give him a little bit of final happiness, then I’m glad I did.