Sunday, July 31, 2016

Life Still Sucks, But There Are Blessings

Sorry to have been away so long. I have wanted to come back and update, but I've just been too down and negative to be on here. I hate being negative; no one likes to read that! But, I do have some positive things to say, so I guess I'll just lay it all out there.

First off, a big THANK YOU to Betsy C. She left a very nice comment on my last post the other day, asking about how Sis is doing; this encouraged me to come back to the blog. I appreciate it!

So, Sis is doing MUCH better these days. By March she had lost 100 lbs!! She looks like a totally different person. She got on the right combo of water pills and heart medications and is almost back to normal. In May, her ejection fraction was up to 44% (from 19%). She has enough stamina to walk around the grocery store, do light housework, some cooking, etc., but still tires easily. I am not waiting on her hand and foot anymore, but I think she would still prefer that I do! She still has some days where she just doesn't want to get out of bed, but she does; sometimes it's not until Noon, but she does it. Most days she has her hair done up and her make up on, which helps her to feel better as well. Here is a recent picture of her from June:

You would never know this was the same woman lying in a hospital bed in January, as round as round can be from all the fluids she was retaining. She has been having great fun going through her closet and finding brand new clothes that were always too small for her that now fit her perfectly!

Financially, we are still really struggling. My unemployment ran out in March; there are no extensions. Since Sis's health improved, I was not able to apply to be her caregiver. I applied for jobs like crazy; no luck. I am not able to work for WalMart or in fast food because I cannot stand on my feet for more than 15-20 minutes at a time, otherwise I'd be all over that. I finally found a job in May working for a transportation company as a driver. We transport railroad crews from one city to another, sometimes picking them up on the side of the railroad tracks, sometimes from the local depot. I love the job because I love to drive, and the guys (and occasional gals) in the crews are super nice. The only drawback is the pay and the schedule. I make about what I made on unemployment, but instead of getting paid every week, it's every other week. I think that it actually averages out to be less than minimum wage. Right now I have about $40 in my checking account, and that has to last until the 12th! The schedule is 5am to 5pm, five days a week, which is fine. The problem is that I am "on call"; which means even though I go on the board as available at 5am, I may sit around all day waiting to be called for a run. It might come at 10am, or 4:55pm, or I might not get called at all. If I do go on a run, I hang around in Centralia all day because that is where the company vehicles are parked. I live 35 minutes away, so I can't afford the time or the gas to go back home just in case they call me to do another run. This weekend we were told that there was a huge back up of trains sitting in Spokane, so it was a call for all hands on deck - no days off - so that we could be ready for them this weekend. Well, I got one run yesterday - which was not for one of the bottled up trains - and as of this writing (at 12:30pm on my scheduled day off), nothing. Sigh. It can make it very difficult to do anything. But, I'm starting to adjust to it. And it's money on the bank.

We have not been able to get disability for Sis for a variety of reasons, which I won't go into. I heard about a possibility of getting more money for Les's social security, so we have applied for that. The smart thing to do would be to sell the house and move into something a little smaller, but I just don't see that happening. Mom has been helping me out, sending me money to make sure the car insurance is paid and my cell phone stays on. I use a pay-as-you-go plan that is only $35 a month, so that helps. I do need to get a smartphone for work, but I just can't afford one. I'm trying to find a used one that is not the newest and fanciest, but haven't found one yet. It has to be an android phone to use the apps I need for work.

Otherwise, we are just kind of in a holding pattern. Sis and Les sit in the living room all day, watching You Tube videos; sometimes Les goes out and works in the garden. Here's a few pics:

The garden is a bit straggly this year; one day Les decided he didn't feel like hoeing out the weeds, so he went out with the RoundUp instead. Unfortunately, it was a bit breezy out, and well ... let's just say it's a lesson learned: don't spray weed killer in the garden on a windy day. The second picture is of our one ginormous rhubarb bush. The stocks are huge and thick, but only about 2" worth is red. It should be ripe for harvesting next year. We planted some wild butterfly bushes in our front yard which are now starting to bloom. I got these great shots the other day just as Sis and I were leaving for town:

I have managed to make a few cards that I'm gong to give my mom for a gift, if I ever get down there to see her.  This is one of the cards I made that I sent to her as a thank you for a check she sent:

It's not a very good picture, but I think you get the idea. I absolutely adore this teacup die! I used it on three patterned papers and the white, then inlaid the patterned papers into it. Mom loved it! I need to make some more and learn how to take better pictures of them. I'd like to try and sell them on Etsy and perhaps in some of the local shops in town.

I guess that's the highlights of things that have been happening. I feel a little better; there seems to be a small pinpoint of light at the end of the tunnel and things don't seem quite so bleak. I still get down in the dumps frequently; I just don't know when I will ever get to move out into my own place, if ever. Mom is planning on moving in here by the end of the year, and to be honest, while it will be a good thing to have her here, I fear it will be the straw that breaks this camel's back. Mom and I do not get along when we live together, and Les does everything he can think of to push all of Mom's buttons. I don't know why. I cannot stand the tension in the house when all of that is going on. I crave my own space, my own things around me, my own privacy. Sis has become very attached to me and hates it when I am not constantly in her presence. She wants me to sit with her in the living room when I'm not at work, but all we do is watch video after video of stuff I am not even slightly interested in, and we can't have a conversation because then Les cannot hear the TV. I love her more than life itself, but she has become clingy and suffocating lately. I don't have anything that is just ... mine. She has taken over my Pinterest account and the You Tube account; any craft I try to do she has to be involved and then takes over; these are petty things, I know, but it just irks me. I'll get over it. Eventually. In the meantime I torture myself by looking at homes for rent and for sale online.

Well, hopefully I won't leave you along for so long again. Hopefully I'll have more positive stuff as the months go by. Wish me luck!


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Sorry, But Life Just Sucks

I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but it's the simple truth: life sucks so hard right now.

Sis's health problems are way worse than we imagined. There will be no huge bounce-back from this. Her heart's ejection fraction is 19%; normal is 50 or higher. Much below 5% and you are on the transplant list. The ejection fraction is the measure of how well the heart squeezes and pushes the blood out of the heart. She is so swollen from fluid retention that her legs feel like they are made from cement! However, she has lost over 30lbs of fluid (of the approximately 60lbs she has gained), and it has helped immensely with her breathing issues. Home health nurses and physical therapists make house calls twice a week. I am going to check into the possibility that I could be recognized by the state to be her official care giver; I'm already doing all the work, perhaps I can actually get paid for it and have an actual job.

Financially, life really sucks. I am trying to support all three of us, plus the animals, on $228 a week in unemployment benefits. We've lost our internet (thank goodness for free internet use at the library!) which means no Netflix (we already were doing without cable or satellite); are really close to having our electricity cut off - and our well has an electric pump, so no power, no water; no cell phones; and not a whole lot of food. I'm trying to help Sis apply for disability since the doctor declared her 100% disabled, but it's slow going. The utility company has been very generous with their patience, and we did find a place that will pay $50 of our $400 bill, but I don't know where the other $350 will come from. I'm trying really hard to just live one day at a time, but I'm starting to have panic attacks at night, and when I dream, it's of me explaining our situation to the internet company over, and over, and over...

Otherwise, not a lot else is going on. I'm constantly waiting hand and foot on Sis so I have not been able to get any crafting done. I am able to read at night before bed, so that's nice. I'm going to spend some of my weekly budget on a component cable so we can hook the DVD player up to the nice big HDTV we bought this summer; at least we can watch movies that way.

Thanks for listening to me whine. I have a bunch of pictures to share, but I'm not able to get them on here using the library's computer. Hopefully I can find a way to do that soon.

Take care, and I'll yak at ya later. TTFN.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016? Already??

Well, heck fire. Sorry I've been away so long; not by choice, I can assure you. Here are some bullet points and a bunch of pictures.

  • The mill went on strike in August; I was not allowed to cross the picket line. Was out of work for two weeks while people spit at each other, called each other names, etc. Mill went back to work, but decided they didn't really need the position I held. Now out of work for real. Two weeks later, no work, no benefits.
  • Got a job interview; woke up the morning of with strep throat and the entire left side of my head and neck swollen. Didn't get the job.
  • Mom is still recovering with her back issues. Dogs are now back home with her; she is getting better and no longer requires 24/7 care. I now go down 2-3 days per week to do her shopping, help her take a shower, etc. 
  • Sis's health has taken a sharp nose dive right into the ground. She was diagnosed with heart failure a year ago, but no one offered any treatment or anything. She has had zero medical benefits for the last 6 years, could not afford it once Les had to quit working when he got cancer. I had to start going to work with her so that she could just make it through the day (she was a home health care aide for a private party). She is now on 6 weeks unpaid medical leave, which makes it even more impossible to afford health insurance. I found a policy for her that, with the Obamacare tax thingy, she can afford. She is now seeing a cardiologist who was APPALLED (thank you!) that she has not received any treatment for her condition. She goes in on the 5th for an echocardiogram to see what kind of heart failure she has, then she can be treated for it. She is pretty much 90% bedridden at this point, she can only walk about 10-15 feet at a time before she passes out from lack of oxygen; Les is the worst nursemaid of all time. If I am down at mom's, he never checks on her to see if she needs to eat, or have something to drink, or anything. He thinks she is being lazy because she sleeps so much. I want to hit him in the head with a cast iron skillet.
  • I have a job interview on the 6th with the library in Chehalis. I am so excited! It's only part-time, but it has all the benefits that a full-time job offers. Which means MEDICAL! And VISION! My glasses are 20 years old and I just cannot see anymore. Wish me luck!
  • Back in August the chicken farm across the road from our home burned to the ground. The firefighters were incredible; with flames reaching heights of up to 150 feet in the air, they managed to keep a 15,000 lb propane tank from exploding, losing a firetruck in the process. They also saved all the homes nearby (including ours). They used helicopters to pull water from our pond in the back, and they used it to keep pumping water on the fire for three full days. 
    Pumper truck at the pond

    Fire burns behind mobile home directly across the road
    Most of the pictures I took of the fire itself didn't turn out very well, but you get the idea. The farm had 12 total chicken houses; 8 of them were full with approximately 2,200 chickens in each. They all burned to the ground, no survivors. The fire burned for days. Everyone was extremely lucky. Well, except for the poor chickens. 
  • Mom officially retired from the company where she worked due to her back issues. They threw her a little party, and even the mailman came! She was very touched and it meant so much to her.

  • Here are a few random pictures:

    Our garden turned out quite well this year!

    Lots of lovely onions in the garden

    Prescott Beach turnoff, Hwy 30 south of Rainier, Oregon

    Do you see the stork? Prescott Beach turnoff
Trojan, former nuclear power plant, now a lovely park
South of Rainier, Oregon
Another lovely tree at Trojan
So, that's been my life for the last few months in a nutshell. No time for crafts or anything fun, just an occasional picture or two on the way to or from Mom's. I will have others to post later. I hope to become more regular again as my life (hopefully) begins to even out.

Until next time, TTFN. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lots of various stuff and things

Well, so much for posting more often. We just cannot seem to catch a break this year! The pump for the well died, so we were without water for a couple of days (well, I say WE but fortunately I was down at Mom's!). We are fortunate to have the creek just behind the house so we could have used that to water the animals if we needed to; but Les had just finished giving everyone fresh water and had watered the garden right before the well pump died. It was fixed pretty quickly, and hopefully it will last for another 20 years. The bad part is that when the pump restarted it sucked up tons of rocks and now pretty much all the water sources in the house are clogged with them. It takes the washing machine FOREVER to fill to wash even a small load. GRRRRRR.

On my way down to Mom's last Sunday, my Rodeo turned over 270,000 miles! Monday morning, she would not start. Long story short - $500 for a new starter. Ugh.

Anywhooooo...I wanted to give a shout out to Waltzingmouse Stamps. Several weeks ago I won a random giveaway! I was so excited, I never win anything! I wasn't sure what to get since the prize was awarded in British pounds, and so instead of trying to figure out the exchange rate, I just asked Claire to pick for me. Wow - what an awesome selection she sent! I'm pretty sure she went over the amount she said I had won; here is the lovely haul:

Please excuse the horrible pictures; you can see Shadow's foot in the upper right corner of the top one! I cannot wait to use these stamps; the coffee set is my favorite, and I have so many ideas for them!! Please check out Waltzingmouse Stamp's website; shipping is quick because they have a US shipper, so you don't have to wait to get a shipment from across the pond.

I still have not been able to sit down and do any crafting. Mom is s-l-o-w-l-y recovering so I am still spending Sunday-Thursday down at her place. So I am going to continue sharing the cards I made for Jenny's swap.

The second card was my first experiment with the "smooshing" technique. I wish I had used watercolor paper instead of regular heavy cardstock; it warped pretty badly despite my best efforts. I like how it came out, despite that. The flowers were part of a K&C pack of pre-cut embellishments I bought a hundred years ago. I'll share more cards in my next post.

A few weeks ago, Mom and I were down in Gladstone, OR having lunch along the Clackamette River. On our way to the little beach there, we passed the Gladstone Community Garden. When I saw this plant, I hit the brakes! I was completely amazed by it! I asked Mom if it was an artichoke plant, and she wasn't sure. I didn't have my camera with me at the time, so the following week I crossed my fingers and toes that they hadn't cut it down and ran out there with my camera. I thought that perhaps it was the biggest thistle plant I had ever seen; later I Googled it and discovered that it was, indeed, an artichoke plant. This sucker is at least five feet tall, and those artichoke flowers are about the size of a salad plate:

And, almost last but not least, a few pictures of the Blue Moon we had on July 31st:

I mentioned Shadow's foot in my picture above; he and Stanley are Mom's dogs. They are staying out here with us for a while during Mom's recovery. They love to cow-a-bunga up onto her lap and Shadow usually sleeps on her leg that is hurting her right now, so we decided that it would be helpful if they weren't doing that. So, last pictures, are Shadow and Stanley:
Stanley, the ChiWeenie
Shadow, the Chihuahua
Well, I guess that's it for now. Until Mom gets well enough for me to spend more time at home, I'll try to post once a week. Gotta go round up all my stuff and get on the road to Mom's now. Hope you are all well, and I really appreciate your stopping by.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Anniversary card for Sis and Les and other random stuff

Howdy! I'm going to do a series of shorter posts showing some of the cards I did for Jenny's swap last month, and will be sprinkling in some other pictures of our furry friends, our garden, and other random stuff. I feel like I have definitely not been posting enough (see my previous post as to why) and I'd love to share more of my pictures. So, here we go.

Here is the card I made for Sis and Les's anniversary last month:

I was inspired by a card shown on the idea sheet in the April SSS card kit. I wanted something feminine but with a slight masculine touch. I was pretty happy with how it came out.

Jenny had included five bookmarks in the newest Stampin' Up! colors for us to do with what we would for the swap; I was pressed for time, so I just embossed each one with a different embossing folder I had in my stash.
I am reading a bunch of books right now, so these will definitely come in handy!

Last, but not least, please to enjoy some pictures of our garden and our sweet four-legged babies:
Those are potatoes in the white barrels

Sammy and GiGi enjoying the summer sun

Amy supervising Les's yard work

Mrs. Weenie enjoying love from her papa

Amy and Skyler - our newest addition to the family; he is impossible to get a picture of!
Well, that's it for today. Stay tuned for more stuff and things. Oh - and I'll be showing the super awesome haul I received from Waltzingmouse Stamps! Super cute and fun stuff!


Friday, July 24, 2015


Holy cow – it’s been almost two months since my last post! So sorry that it’s been so long; this has been a bit of a rough year, and the last two months have been the hardest of all so far. I’ll give you the nutshell version:

·         Not long after my last post, I had trouble with a kidney stone. It’s a big ‘un;  spent time in the ER, still have not passed it. Missed some work, spent a lot of time in bed on pain pills. Haven’t been able to do anything crafty, creative, or industrious. The good news (I guess) is that it is in the bladder now so it doesn’t bother me too much; it only hurts when it tries – in vain – to escape.

·         Since mid-June, Mom has been in excruciating pain. Kaiser finally thought it might be a good idea to do an MRI (last week) on Mom’s back to figure out why she is in such a terrible state. Ah, yes – the sciatica you diagnosed REPEATEDLY was actually a compression fracture in the spine? Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit. Now, what are you going to do to FIX IT YOU MORONS?!?!?!?!

·         Financial trouble of epic proportions because of missed work due to kidney stone and Mom’s troubles. I don’t get paid time off for sickness or anything else for that matter. I do get 16 hours of paid time off every six months. Big whoop. Doesn’t last very long when I’m finally eligible for them.

·         Have been spending most of my time down at Mom’s to give Sissy a break. When Mom’s problem first surfaced, Sis stayed with her down in Portland for three weeks solid. Mom could not get out of bed, get to the toilet, get herself anything to eat, drink, etc. I am not physically strong enough to get Mom out of bed; Sis is a trained home-health caretaker and knows how to do that stuff properly. Plus, she is much taller and stronger than me; I don’t have the right leverage to get Mom out of bed. Once that phase was passed (Mom refuses to sleep in her bed and has been sleeping in a chair instead), I volunteered to stay with Mom the majority of the week. I go down on Sunday afternoon (last week it was Saturday afternoon) and stay until Thursday morning. Sis then comes down on Thursday night and stays until Sunday early evening. I commute to work from Mom’s, working four 10-hour days; I use the extra day off to take Mom to the doctor, grocery shop for her, etc.

·         Due to new schedule (see above bullet point) I have not been able to do anything crafty. No cards, no cross stitch, nada zip nothing. I have gotten a few books read, so I will be updating those parts of my blog. I leave for work around 6am and don’t get home until around 8pm. I can’t haul all my craft stuff to Mom’s and there is no place to work on crafts in Mom’s teeny-tiny trailer house. Add to that the fact that it has been hotter than the Devil’s armpits out here, which pretty much makes it impossible to do anything other than sit directly in front of the teeny-tiny air conditioner, eat popsicles and complain about how hot it is (I am a professional at this).

·         I am currently doing this update from work (shhhh…) and hope to get some posts in this weekend with pictures of the cards I made for the swap with Jenny, a card I made for Les and Sis’s 13th anniversary on 6/22, and some pictures of Les’s garden and other random things.

Sheesh – I should get the blogger version of the Debbie Downer award for this post! Well, hang in there with me; I’ll get some better stuff up soon.  TTFN.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

An Old Friend Is New Again!

Don't you hate it when you lose touch with someone you really like, really connect with? And you have no idea why you lost touch to begin with? I have a friend like that; her name is Jenny. And she found me on Facebook yesterday! I have been searching Facebook for her for years; I have no idea why she didn't pop up in any of my search results.

*shakes fist in anger at Facebook*

I first met Jenny back in the late 80's or early 90's; not sure exactly when, but it was when I went to live with my mom for a year. We hit it off immediately, sharing a love for Anne of Green Gables. She lived in Northwest Washington while I lived in Portland, OR. She got married and eventually moved to Montana. Eventually, I also moved to Montana, but we were still a couple of hours by car away from each other; we got together every once in a while. Then I moved farther east in Montana, and we were more like 5-6 hours by car from each other. Then we just kinda lost touch somehow.

We are both very excited about reconnecting. We both are crafty people; she makes the most ADORABLE coats for babies/toddlers/little kids you have ever seen, and I don't understand why she isn't a millionaire by now. And now, come to find out, she is a Stampin' Up! demonstrator. I remembered that she always had a love for rubber stamps, etc., many years ago. She has a group of six other gals (some that I knew back when I was living with Mom) that all swap cards with each other once a month, and they have a newsletter and everything. Jenny has asked me to join, and I'm going to do it! My time is limited for crafting, but I think I can manage to make seven cards in a month. Woo hoo! I'm so excited! I'll be sure to show you what I have made.


In my last post, I told you that we finally discovered why Les has been so anemic. Sis and I (well, Les too) learned something quite interesting. He is not bleeding out from anywhere, he is in early stage four kidney failure (stage five is dialysis).

Everyone's red blood cells eventually die off and the body just makes new ones. The signal for your body to do this comes from your kidneys. They send out a hormone that tells the bone marrow to kick out some more red blood cells; however, when you are in kidney failure, this hormone does not get released, and you don't make new cells. Interesting, no? I had no idea the kidneys talked to the bone marrow! Our bodies are truly amazing things. Anywho, they took him off of his main diabetic medication - because, surprise surprise, it is bad for your kidneys. So then his blood sugar levels skyrocketed - which is, surprise not so surprising, bad for your kidneys. Now he is on insulin and is tolerating it really well. His blood sugar is completely normal using the smallest dose, and his energy is coming back to him. He works out in the garden, does more stuff around the house, and doesn't sleep all day. Unfortunately, he has a tendency to want to over do it, and winds up face down in the lawn (as happened during my writing of my last post). Sis and I are working with him on that! I keep telling him that if he falls outside on a Friday while I am at work (40 miles away) and Sis is in Portland, the dogs will probably start to eat him before I get home. At first he thought I was joking, but then I assured him I was not as we have mostly Dachshunds and they will eat their own poop, so eating him probably wouldn't cause any issues for them.

Right now our goal is to keep him from reaching stage five, and not being eaten by Dachsunds.


On Monday night, Mom and I arrived at her place to find a message on her answering machine from my Uncle Bobby. It was one of those, "Hey, call me. We need to talk." Ominous. So Mom worried about it for about 20 minutes until I told her to JUST CALL HIM FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. It turns out that my cousin Sarah, who had just turned 35 on Thursday, passed away on Friday. She had several medical issues, not all of which are known to me, and has been on oxygen for a while. Apparently, her heart just gave out on her. Her boyfriend could not wake her up, called 911, but she was already gone. It's heartbreaking. She was such a sweet girl, but could never seem to catch a break. I am glad that she had someone to share her life with, and that loved her along with her problems. I'm sad that she is gone, and I wish I had been a better cousin to her. Our family is close, yet us cousins are not close. Sarah's brother lives about 20 minutes away from my mom (and Sarah lived even closer), but we never get together. I guess with the invention of social media, people sometimes feel like they are "getting together" when we look at the family pictures they post, or "like" their status, and whatnot. But you know, it isn't the same. Pick up the phone and CALL each other, hear their voice, you know? I'm going to try very hard to be better about that. Her memorial is on Sunday, and I cannot wait to hug her mother. She was my uncle's...erm...last wife (he was married many times) and she was also my favorite. My uncle passed away 11 years ago, but our whole family still included her in everything because she didn't stop being a part of our family when my uncle died. She still has our love and support, especially now. A few years ago, she remarried and moved to Canada. Her husband will be joining her down in Portland tomorrow, and I can't wait to meet him. I wish it was under different circumstances.

Well, I guess I had better git. Sis just called me to say she has a raspberry cobbler in the oven, and when it comes out her fabulous chicken enchiladas are going in! Woo hoo!