Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Midweek...

If you've ever seen the film, Groundhog Day, you've a pretty good grasp of life here at the moment. After hauling out three bags of trash on Monday, my low back was a wee bit unhappy until ice was assiduously applied. Today, two boxes and a small package containing food and litter for Lukas were maneuvered into the doorway and pushed inside. Once unpacked, the boxes were cut down and taken to our community recycle bins. Then, I also cleaned out the litter boxes, his bowls and our refrigerator and disposed of the household refuse before drying and putting away the dishes from last night. My sleeping and eating schedules have been unusual to say the least as I found myself fully awake and hungry at 3AM.

I actually fixed and ate an entire frozen skillet meal of vegetables, rice and chicken, and washed the dishes before returning to sleep. A couple of hours ago, I had a late lunch of two poached eggs on toast with steamed spinach and a slice of Gouda cheese. Last night, rather than spend $15 for a sandwich and a cookie, I enjoyed a third and final meal of vegetable korma and rice from the weekend. While the fresh groceries are now thinned, the freezer will see me through to next week, as will the pantry.

The cat has been re-stocked with his favorites and though he is definite in his preferences for rabbit, salmon and beef cat food, he is a sloppy eater and one who sometimes leaves a bit behind for later. I wonder whether he worries that food and feeding will once again become inconsistent in his life. He also likes to lick plastic. As long as he does not try to eat it, I can put up with his version of feline quirkiness. He certainly and very gamely puts up with mine.

Apart from food for the furry one and me, I've spent $19 on a pair of pajama bottoms, mostly because I need to wear loose fitting pants to PT and my one pair of sweat pants gave up the ghost months ago. No additional clothing purchases are planned unless something else dies. Cab fare and co-pays to the DPT now total $260. A small pillow to place between my knees when side sleeping was $8.00. Doing this takes pressure off the back and it is easier to use than a full length body pillow. It is also something I can keep for years, providing Lukas does not steal it.

As I use Medicare, the most recent plans and schemes of our so-called leadership which involve gutting this as well as Medicaid and other safety programs, leaves me beyond horrified. There are no other affordable insurance options for me, even with Obamacare. When I last had private insurance, the company wanted $925 per month for me, and no other company would even talk to me, even with an insurance agent. Why? Because of my original disability which dates from birth. That also renders me unable to apply for any long term care insurance. If Medicare as we know it is gutted, there will be many who will suffer and some who will die.

Welcome to the wealthiest and most greedy country on the planet.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Today...

After a night of broken sleep, Lukas and I awoke to barking dogs. I took the opportunity to clean Lukas's litter boxes and vacuum with a hand vac to remove excess litter from the bathroom and a corner of the bedroom before both of us returned to bed. Upon rising for the day, I readied myself for more physiotherapy, gave Lukas a cuddle and a snack, tidied the apartment and then realized my keys were missing---the entire ring!

Normally very organized and neat, I do not often misplace anything and found myself in a bit of a panic as I checked and re-checked the entire and very picked up flat. It was not until I opened my wallet that I spotted them. With Lukas stashed in the bedroom, I rolled to the front door just as the wheelchair taxi parked and after the strap down, we soon found ourselves in lunchtime traffic.

The roadway from my community is a main artery between the north and south parts of my city and the further south one travels, the number of lanes decrease until there is but one lane each direction. With a veritable sea of retail establishments, restaurants and assorted businesses on either side of the street, there are also numerous lights to contend with, as well as stop and go which worsens with what is commonly referred to as rush hour.

I watched the whole scene rather dispassionately, remembering what it felt like when I was behind the wheel and how happy I was to finally, after being rear-ended and left with a chronic back issue, to sell the car and trade the License for a State ID. On average, since 2004, I've seen a physiotherapist every two years for this problem. Added to my original disability and several other chronic diagnoses, and as I get older, balancing and caring for myself takes precedence over other things. My misalignment has been corrected three times this go round and the physio wizard is teaching me a few better ways to move about with an eye toward relieving or preventing strain. Core strength is also important and always, it seems, where I fall short, no matter what I do.

We shall see how it all ends up soon. Another ice pack and an early night fill the bill for now.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Wakeful Night, Quiet Day...

This month is shaping up to be far more expensive than the last. My groceries were higher, transport cost to the DPT and now a spur-of-the-momrnt and decidedly unfrugal $15 deli sandwich last night because I was so pooped after PT that the very idea of pulling something from the freezer was just too much. Though I attempted to make it an early night, after sleeping for three hours, I was once again in need of an ice pack and kept switching it off every fifteen minutes for a further three hours until falling asleep once again.

The cat, meanwhile, is confused. He sees me heading for our refrigerator and assumes it must be feeding time. He also doesn't understand why his playmate isn't hauling out all the good toys. Things are better today but for the sleep deprivation. I have two more appointments next week and then a re-assessment to see where things stand. In the interim, stretching, exercise and ice, the triumvirate of a happy back and a far less grumpy human.

Wishing everyone a happy weekend.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Ouch...

As I suspected, based on past experience, there was more to the back problem of last week. The first thing the DPT did yesterday after I arrived was check both my hip and leg alignment. Because the ligaments surrounding my left low back SI joint were damaged in a rear-ending accident in 2004, my hip can rotate and the misalignment causes pain. At this point, my entire back had started spasming in reaction to this. My CP which leaves my muscles tighter anyway, seems a cakewalk in comparison to all of the chronic stuff occurring in its wake.

This back/SI  problem is exacerbated by sitting which I have no choice but to do with a badly damaged right knee that is not amenable to surgical repair. Having been realigned as of last night, soreness remains. It is similar in feeling to deep bruising and I awakened at 3 AM with both my bladder and this pain to deal with as well as a cat demanding an early breakfast as long as I was up.

After broken sleep, I arose at 8 AM, did chores and readied myself for the bi-weekly morning frenzy that is Aldi. Despite having gone to the local produce stand on Sunday, my Aldi bill was higher than normal. I will check it against my list to see what I can eliminate next time. I did purchase two containers of litter for Lukas since those are not always in stock, and some chocolate. Additionally, there was cab fare to and from the DPT and I've a further three appointments over the next week. I also paid my neighbor and purchased lunch for us to take home. At present, I am enjoying a cup of decaf tea and will tackle meal preparation tomorrow. I plan an early night with a book and an ice pack.

Happy Wednesday.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Beautiful Day...


After three days of alternating heat and ice packs, I was finally able to sleep. Upon waking and stretching, I realized things are down to a dull roar. Still twinge-y and a little sore but I could move without wanting to cry.

I was able to shower and sit outside, feed Lukas and put the dirty laundry in the machine before using another ice pack. Outside, the sun was shining and there was a breeze. I stayed on my phone so the neighbors would not bother me if any should walk by. It was peaceful. Even the resident barkers took a brief break today.

For an instant, eyes closed as the sun warmed my face, I pictured my most recently deceased friend. She was healthy and her eyes were glowing with just a trace of laughter in them. Tomorrow, her oldest and dearest will gather in the area she grew up in for the final celebration of her life. I wish I could be there.

 As part of the group that met to remember her here in December, I was not amongst friends of longstanding, having met her in 2006. What is interesting to me is how easily our friendship could have fallen by the wayside as many do when someone moves. Instead, it outlasted others and saw us both through tremendous change, the last being her death at sixty-five.

Should I mark my sixtieth birthday in 2019, I will have survived to an age none of my parents did. Apart from my disability, this and other losses are a large part of why I now simply take each day as it comes. Having surrendered my penchant for grand plans, I am content in the sun, calling a childhood friend on the phone or speaking to another I have grown to cherish.

Wishing you all a happy Sunday...




Thursday, February 15, 2018

Meh!

I've spent the day on an ice pack for my low back with another flare-up in the offing. My last one in late 2016 was treated by a doctorate level physical therapist, and in the absence of a good massage to calm things down before everything starts spasming, that is where I will go on Tuesday. Two massage therapists are unavailable and though I've asked around, no-one knows another who will make a home visit. It is stretches, ice and hot packs, mostly a normal thing except for the level of pain.

Sweet Lukas is keeping me company. Enjoy the rest of the week.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Hearts Day...

For those of you who celebrate, whether you give your heart to a child, parent, partner, friend or animal companion, a re-post from 2010. Enjoy the day.

Although not a big occasion for me, and something I find cloyingly commercialised in this country, Valentine's Day nonetheless brings back thoughts of flowers, puzzles, cards and other small gifts my mother and I would share when I was growing up. She gave me a Valentine remembrance of some kind until passing away almost twenty years ago. My favourite is a vegetarian cookbook, which she signed and dated, despite her rather constant disapproval of that choice. Another is a sterling silver spoon ring I've had since my high school days and wear often.




To say that we mixed rather like oil and water during much of my adulthood is no exaggeration; Sadly, that is a situation in which many women find themselves. Still, I can chuckle at the memory of her face as she unwrapped two heart-shaped packages, finding first the right then the left foot of a pair of slippers stuffed and decorated as giant Hershey's Kisses, a gift she eventually wore the batting out of.
They were the only slippers like that that I've seen and I cannot recall where I found them.

Please feel free to make and share good memories today.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Oops!

I'm beginning the week with a misaligned closet door that is too heavy for me to adjust on my own. The contractor has been called and will be here Wednesday morning unless he finishes another scheduled job earlier than anticipated. I'll be dusting off the check book but don't anticipate anything horrible since the oversize bi-fold door is otherwise intact, just 3-4 inches out on the side and completely out at the top.

This, of course, raises the question of where to put Lukas during the visit since he'll likely not appreciate the human traffic or the noise involved. I would estimate no more than a half hour to adjust and straighten the door but judging from past experience, I may well be wrong.

Speaking of Lukas, he 's had visits from a neighbor and two friends, only one of whom he warmed to. This little boy seems content to be solitary as long as I am around to feed and play with him which I do regularly, particularly before bed. While hopeful of more sustained sleep,  I know living with a nocturnal creature often means a sunrise breakfast. He is now coming to sleep at the foot of the bed for a limited time before retreating to the solitude of his chair or the sofa. His cat condo remains unused though Lukas apparently loves his toys.

Foodwise, he is a connoisseur of junk, preferring anything Friskies to higher quality, grain-free foods with meat as the first ingredient. It will take some experimentation before I discover what else he may like. Unlike dogs, if cats don't like something, they starve rather than eating it and can become ill. As obligate carnivores, protein is essential and many commercially available foods are full of fillers. There is also some controversy among vets regarding raw diets. My vet has said that varying a cat's food options helps assure a non-picky eater but much also depends upon the cat. Coming from the streets, I've no clue what Lukas ate until he was sheltered and fed by the gentleman from whom I adopted him.

In other news, the week has been relatively Springlike. Meals and food prep have been simple and almost all of the leftovers have been eaten which means I am on track with meal planning which boils down to less spending and less food waste. Turkey stew with green beans, carrots, corn and a leftover gold potato, made in my slow cooker, gave me dinners for four nights. Salad, rice and a vegetable korma, soups and a light rye bread, along with some steamed kale made interesting lunches. The only downside to grocery shopping every two weeks is that when the fresh stuff is gone, I'm forced to get creative with pantry goods and whatever is stashed in the freezer. At this point, chili is in my immediate future. My recent visit to Petra's, a middle eastern restaurant, reminded me how much I enjoy hummus, eggplant, falafel, mint tea and simple chopped salads. It is time to expand my horizons and try making some of these things.

 A surprise email from a college sophomore I know and think the world of requested a letter of recommendation. This reminded me of my days as a student and then working woman, I was calling hither and yon for those things, more than one of which helped me secure either a client or a job. She had hers, written, uploaded and submitted, in less than a day. I hope it helps. I was also able to help a family who is moving with some donations. I also cleared out the bathroom shelves and cupboard and happily discovered that I did not have a lot of old medicines, unused toiletries or duplicates of any kind. What is in there is now easy to see and reach and should I need something more, space is available. It is nice to see plans and strategies working, particularly as they relate to not overbuying.

I'm still listening to Cait Flanders book and reading an entirely unrelated book by Sally Hyder about her life before and after MS and her adventures with service dog Harmony.

What does your week look like?



Monday, February 5, 2018

The Year of Less...

As I've been engaged in an online group examining frugality, my beliefs and messages around money and the choices I am making in terms of spending this month, I've been asking several questions:

Does what I spend align with my values?
Is there a clear line between "Want" and "Need" for me?
Do I spend any amount without really thinking about it?
Do I think I need more than I actually do?
How often do I think of re-purposing something rather than making a purchase?
Of my possessions, is there anything I no longer need or use?
What am I willing to stop purchasing in order to save?
Do I look at frugality as a method of saving temporarily or as a long term way of living?

What did I actually spend in January?

Groceries $44  per week (176)
Transportation $60/month
Pet Food and supplies for new pet $200
Cards $15.00
Internet $72.00
Mobile Phone $35.00
Netflix $24.00
Acorn  $5.00
Dentist $124.00
Miscellaneous $49
Two gifts $20
One lunch out $20.00
Microchip for pet and tags $45
Target-household $45
Electric                 $60
Two memorial donations $40

My monthly condominium fees were paid in December through the end of August, 2018 and are not included here. Additionally, my Homeowners policy and property taxes were paid then as well. The dentist is a quarterly expense, Microchip, memorial donations, cards and household are all infrequent, and pet expenses will be less as basic supplies have all been purchased. I'm going to investigate pet insurance. I've gotten rid of Starbucks except for a gift card and had no take-out or delivery meals. As we do not have much choice in Internet providers here and I do not have a television or want to bundle TV and phone with cable, I'm stuck. The modem, router and wiring in the wall at my home all needed to be replaced and I've had a few outages. Had my phone been bundled, I'd have had no way to call and report them, nor any way to reach someone in an emergency. Much of my household expense has been spent on canned or dried items to build back pantry reserves and I am now also keeping extra supplies of bottled water since both Lukas and I drink it. Whatever doesn't get used up before June will be put in hurricane supplies. While I tend to order a lot online since I do not drive, I'm happy to report that Amazon will not be seeing many orders this year. Hopefully, the results will be seen in my savings account.

While it is possible now to stream movies, music and audiobooks from the library, I've had some problems with access and the variety among films isn't that great if one watches foreign fare but it is an alternative to Netflix. I may just listen to audiobooks rather than watch films. Having been a subscriber to Netflix since 2004, I've seen their content change and their prices rise, neither for the better.

I'm currently streaming Cait Flanders' book, The Year of Less, via Hoopla from the library. It is the story of how the author, in her thirties and a young professional, climbed out of #30,000 or so of consumer debt, made the connection between stuff and stress, streamlined her possessions along the way, faced the adversity that came with work and family changes and re-made her life according to her own priorities. She instituted a year-long ban on certain items only to discover she neither missed nor needed most of them and that some of them had more to do with her so-called uniform and who she was to others or who she thought she should be rather than who she is. Her year ban stretched into two as Flanders shifted the focus of her life.

This is not by any stretch the bog standard, "De-clutter, live simply and be happy" book that there are so many of today. Many of the changes were hard-won, life-altering and came about as the result of circumstances no-one would choose.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Lukas...


Have I confessed a weakness for cute red heads?

Originally named for another dazzling red head, Lucille Ball, when it was discovered that this little boy was a neutered male, his name became Luke. He is now Lukas, age 7, and enjoying his first explorations of our home.

Though I miss Jacob terribly, this gentle, sweet boy who loves to play and purrs every time I pet him, is very lucky. Lost or abandoned to the streets, he found his way to a kindhearted man who fed and sheltered him and saw to his veterinary care. Though intending to keep the cat, when it became obvious that the other felines in the house would not accept him and that he was at risk of injury, the man let his vet know Lukas needed a new abode. The vet called me, and though still tentative about adoption, I called the man to arrange a meet and greet.

This lovely ginger-haired boy came to stay on Wednesday evening, and has taken over the chair and living room sofa. His accoutrements included toys, treats and food and water dishes, a favorite towel and a small rug. He is busily marking walls, furniture, possessions and me with the side of his face, something cats do that signifies their belongings or territory. I have officially been adopted yet again. The man who had the kindness to find Lukas a new home is forever in my good books.