Stay young!

Wednesday, December 30

Wednesday’s child is full of woe

Another morning in the construction zone. The cabinet guys just got here. They were supposed to be already finished but have had a couple hiccups and made some mistakes so it’s taking longer. The kitchen, of course, is the heart of the home so it’s very trying to give that space up most of the day for many days. The cabinets as they are now and unfinished do look a whole lot better. This is just part of a much bigger ongoing remodeling project but at least we’re getting chunks done and out of the way. 

I’m in the spare bedroom where all the boxes of kitchen cabinet junk are piled. It tends to be drafty in here. I think the front window needs replaced. I just went and put my slippers and an extra sweater over my turtleneck on. I have been sorting and arranging some school sub stuff. I am still feeling a bit in angst dreading the remaining two weeks in person. I keep feeling verklempt and have to reassure myself it will be okay. What you imagine and fear is always worse than it really is. The only thing you have to fear is fear itself. 

I’m going out shopping in a bit. It snowed and sleeted last night but now it’s a melting mess out there. Mike and I went out shoveled last night around ten. It was kind of fun actually and Bitzi loved the snow! I’m looking to buy a new comfy cozy recliner for the bedroom. I want another new one for the living room but want to wait until the new floors are installed. I got out my essential oil diffuser vaporizers today and put some eucalyptus and lemon oil in the water reservoir to scent the air. My head and breathing have been a bit troublesome the last few days and it must be in reaction to the heat being on all the time. I can’t imagine what else it could be.

Yesterday we went to Costco and got a couple big king crab legs for New Years Eve tomorrow. I have some shrimp in the freezer too. Neither Mike or I drink, so we do seafood. I got a nice new white parka too for a great price. I love it. My old white Columbia coat is wearing out and has been washed and bleached hundreds of times. 

I am starving (part of my daily fasting) and won’t eat until noon. I haven’t been very good about following my own rules lately and haven’t lost any more weight the past week. Just keep going......I can do this. I can treat my body better than I have been the last couple years. I’ve been really worried and upset about my oldest son the past week. He’s been in trouble for addiction before and now he’s drinking heavily and out of control. I had two uncles who ruined their lives from alcoholism. I hate it. No amount of begging or pleading or reasoning helps. He has to do it himself. I have been in angst over that. That is probably what’s causing my feelings of chest squeezing and breathing constriction. I have to just pray and hope things will work out. When your kids are adults you cannot fix things or make them do anything.

I have started a list of things I want to do or go when the pandemic ends. Driving the Florida Keys is on the list and tent camping/hiking is on it too. I want to go to LasVegas next December......and I want to go to Smoky Mountain National Park again and go hiking. An Alaskan cruise out of Seattle is also on the wish list..........I can always dream of things at least. 

I’m back from a couple stores. I did not find a recliner for the bedroom. The saga continues.....I did run in Aldi and get a few things. It’s very icy and slippery and slushy out there. I didn’t want to shop any more so came home and took Bitzi outside. She just wants to play in the snow and ice. She doesn’t care if she freezes to death. The cabinet guy is almost done. Yesterday he dropped a hammer on my new quartz counter and cracked it. WTF,,,,,so now we will have to investigate getting it fixed. He has offered to pay for the repair. I’m not sure it can be repaired. What in the flipping fuk......Oh well it will all be fine. It’s just a counter. No one got hurt. It is what it is. He’s a very polite guy but seems a bit ditzy and a space case (like I should talk, I know.....)

I’ve been doing some tidying up, well as much as is possible with guys still working in the kitchen with stuff all over. I watched a couple episodes of Hoarders Monday night.  There is nothing that puts me in the mood to clean and organize like watching Hoarders.....scary stuff! Bitzi is lying on the carpet at my feet here in the spare bedroom. I rearranged the desk and stuff. Sill not happy. Maybe when all this other crap is out of here it will feel like a real room and not a junk room. 

I am starving and it’s almost time for me to eat but they’re still in the kitchen. I had to move their step ladder to put the groceries in the fridge. The snow outside is pretty. Snow always looks pretty to me until February and then I want it to be over. I told Mike last night that after he retires I think we should go to the Florida keys for February from then on. He thought that was a good idea to just hang out and drive around to all the keys for a few weeks. Sounds good to me. We really like driving around and exploring places.

I was born on a Wednesday

I’m going to close this post out and go do something else productive so I have some feeling of accomplishment today.  Stay warm and stay well.


Tuesday, December 29

Winter storm coming tonight

I got up late this morning. I took a Benadryl last night and slept like a log. The cabinet guys will be here soon. The cabinets are starting to look good with a coat of paint on the boxes and some of the crown molding installed. I’m so excited! I’ve been wanting to re-do this kitchen since we bought this house. Mike really loved it and I thought it was okay except for the kitchen. 

I’m starving and feeling hollow inside. I went over my carbs limit a couple days and now am back to my fasting. I’ll eat a little between noon and four today. My mission is to slowly get rid of my excess weight so my immune system and joints have less to take care of assuming I’m going to continue living. So very many health issues are associated with obesity and sugar and poor diet. There have been millions of dollars to date spent on my medical care. My diet is the least I can do to be healthy. I’ve been eating a lot of raw spinach and chia seeds lately. 

There’s a winter storm coming tonight with snow and ice. Mike is going to try to fire up the snow blower. I might run over to Costco and get a couple things. I need to take Bitzi for a walk. I did a bunch of sub prep work yesterday. I think we’re going to go buy me a new comfie recliner for the bedroom today. We got rid of the old one but I really miss it. 

I just took a nice walk around Wildflower Lake with Bitzi. It’s very cold out and no one else was walking. It’s going to get a lot nastier later today.

In the past several months I’ve gotten a lot more phones phishing emails and texts. I usually block the sender and delete it. This morning I got an Amazon phishing email and text on my cell phone. I blocked them both and just checked my account and changed the password. Bastards!

Monday, December 28


3:15 pm Monday

The two men are here working on the kitchen. They sanded the cabinet boxes Saturday and are painting today. The main guy said his paint sprayer at home isn’t working right so the doors that he took home aren’t done yet. I hope to hell they hurry up. This is all, of course, a giant pain in the ass.

I have been working on my schedule and plans for the remaining days of my current sub job. My old school district HR called me this morning wanting to know if I would be a daily building sub for one of their middle schools and work every day for the rest of the school year. I told them maybe depending on what building. I told them I won’t be done with my current job until the 15th I don’t really want to but it would help pay for some of this remodeling we’re doing. We also need to put in new flooring and buy some new furniture so every bit helps. The sub jobs are now going to be in person at least most of the time. Schools are going back no matter what. 

Mike’s employers computers system was attacked by ransom ware a couple months ago and a lot of sensitive information was stolen. He now has had someone apply for unemployment insurance with his name and social security number so now he has to make a bunch of calls and do a whole bunch to make sure nothing else gets screwed up. Mike Smith is a super common name as you know.Bastard hackers!

So I bagged up all the Christmas stuff this morning and am waiting for the painting guys to leave so I can put the stuff out in the garage. We have all our extra kitchen stuff from the drawers and cabinets placed here in the spare bedroom where I’m typing now. It’s a mess......but it will be worth it eventually.

Sunday, December 27

The unknown

6:40am Sunday

I’ve been awake for a while. Lately I’ve been waking up in the dark early morning thinking about things. Last year at this time I kept having this feeling inside me that something big and bad was coming. I had this uncomfortable feeling like some huge slow-moving tidal wave of doom was coming. I had no idea it would be as bad as it has been but it does still continue on and on. I don’t know what this latest waking up early means but now I’m a little scared for what’s coming next.

Yesterday morning I drove Hennessy down to Lacon to meet her parents. She had stayed with us since Monday and we had a good time. She’s six years old and a very good girl. 

 Yesterday the guys came back and worked on the kitchen cabinets. They put up hanging plastic and drop cloths and sanded all the cabinet boxes. Supposedly Monday they’re painting the boxes and reattaching the newly- painted doors. We shall see. There have been many delays so I’m not getting my hopes up. 

I got a new Cuisinart coffee maker. I’m tired of the Keurig pods. This coffee maker has a bunch of programmable settings so I’m going to have to read the manual to set the clock. Usually I just figure it out on my own. 

Tuesday, December 22

You can’t please everyone so you’ve got to please yourself

 It’s 5:22 and I’ve been awake way over an hour. I just woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. I guess I have a lot of family issues on my mind. I try to tell myself that things will work out but that little troll inside my brain wants to worry about everyone. I can’t really even talk about it. Things will have to work out on their own. I have to give it to the universe and let it be. I am not the fixer of all things. 

The man fixing and painting our kitchen cabinets is coming to start this morning so I have to get things ready to facilitate his work and stay out of his way. Hennessy ( six) is here so we’ll go for a walk and shopping or something to stay out of the way.

Monday, December 21

Sleigh ride 2020


Good morning!  I’m up and dressed and sipping my coffee before I drive down to Canton and back to deliver family Christmas presents. My daughter and sister are meeting me and they will distribute packages for me. I’m trying to be safe but do a little something for Christmas, plus I needed the nice long drive alone after being cooped up in the house with my husband for months. He has to work today. My six year old granddaughter Hennessy is coming back home with me. I haven’t seen her in months. I am happy for my blessings! We have a dinky tabletop tree and a few lights up. It will be a modest Christmas this year but that’s okay as long as we’re safe. You have to be grateful for the blessings you’re given. Bitzi is riding along with me so I’ll take her out to pee at sunrise before I take off. She is very good in the car.

Wednesday, December 16

The light at the end of a tunnel

5:58am I’m up early again because of work. I like to rise early, get myself dressed, drink my coffee, read my news and emails and get myself set. Before I start teaching at 8 I have to take the dog out for her walk and log on the my laptop and get everything set up. It’s still difficult for me with all these classes being back to back. You have to hustle. I use a kitchen timer to keep track of time. I have two more weeks in January for this job. The first week I have to go in to the school for meetings and to teach remotely, the second week to teach in person ( some students returning) while teaching online ( some students still from home). It’s going to be nuts but it will only be 5 days...... SO we shall see...I’m not going to worry about it now. I’ll do my best. Things always work out. 

Mike is still sound asleep in the bedroom. The door is open so I can hear his bear noises. The sunrise is an hour away. I like my morning time to myself. On mornings when Mike does get up early and comes out here and sits on the couch in the living room and falls back asleep with the morning news on I feel somewhat invaded. We have been cooped up in this house together for months now. Alone time is valuable. I’m going to take a drive next week.  And now I’ve jinxed myself and Mike is up watching news. Oh well.... today is garbage day and he has a mission 🤪.
We have nothing planned for Christmas- not going anywhere, not having anyone one, just staying home and safe. This is our cozy nest. Before long the world will open up and things will go back to some version of normal. We’ll have a new president and Vice President and new administration. More people will be getting vaccinated for the virus. Things will improve in 2021. I have faith.

I am continuing to slowly lose weight but I’m not walking as much now that I’m working online. I’m going to try to do two longer walks today. Bitzi loves her walks. They’re good for both of us.

 All four of my children have things going on that concern me but they’re adults and I can’t help. They have to do it themselves. Some times that can be the hardest thing for me to do- stay out of it. Mike’s son and his wife are having their first baby the end of January. The baby boy has some kind of congenital disorder called C-PAM and has a small mass in his chest near the heart and left lung. The mass is shrinking but the baby will need surgery some time soon after birth. It’s good that it’s shrinking and not hampering the baby’s growth. Still that’s a concerning situation until he’s here and gets it fixed. There’s always something going on with a big family.

I still don’t have the presents I’ve bought sorted and bagged. I need to do that. I also need to do an hour or more of school work tonight for Friday and over the break.

2:15pm I’m done with all my classes. I feel wrung out now like a used dish rag.

Tuesday, December 15

Navigating a turbulent world

8:15 pm
I’m lying on the couch in my pajamas. It’s been a pretty good day. I am sincerely grateful for my blessings. There are issues going on with family. I am trying to stay out of things and not worry. I’m trying to trust the universe to take care of things. I have to have faith. I am not the fixer for the world. Things will go as they’re supposed to go. I will take care of my own business. I have to trust. 

Monday, December 14

Electors’ voting day

I’ve been up for over an hour. It’s 6:46 now. In a few minutes I have to take Bitzi out for a walk so I can get ready to sign on the Zoom and start teaching. I have fourth graders this morning and ( I think) first graders after the brief break- fast and furious. I don’t like the limited hours of daylight in the winter but it is what it another week the days will start getting a little longer so there’s that hope.

The electors cast their votes today. I hope and pray it goes smoothly and there’s no bullshit or violence. There’s no telling what shit the predator in chief and his cult of lunatics will try to pull off.

Yesterday I got all my Christmas cards made out and mailed. I got my mugs decorated and now the have to sit for a few days to allow the ink to soak in before I bake them to further seal the designs. They’re cute- just a little homemade something. I’m trying not to make sweets because I know I’ll eat them.

Saturday, December 12

Rain on the roof

It’s dark, chilly and rainy this morning. I’ve been awake for a while because Mike got up with his shoulder pain again and was sitting in the living room with the heating pad on it for a while so I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. Then he came back in to bed but I was awake so just got up. It’s noticeably chillier today and I can hear the splatter of the rain against the window and roof. I usually am out walking Bitzi by this time but she’s sleeping now so I’ll wait in hopes of the rain letting up. 
We’re going to St.Charles to see Annette later. I have things to get at the store and things to do at home. Mike has work to do first too.

9:33 I took Bitzi for a short walk with the umbrella. It’s icy rain and wind out there. Winter is here.
I cleaned up some stuff. I’m starving. No pain, no gain. At least my gut never feels bloated any more, so that’s a plus.

Friday, December 11

Merrily down the stream....

Good morning. And I’m using my headset microphone and dictation and trying to get used to it. The sun has not come up yet. I’m simmering cloves,lemon slices and cinnamon sticks in a little pan on the stove. The aroma is scenting  the house in a wonderful way that smells like Christmas. I love doing that in December. It makes me happy. I still feel a little sad that the kids are grown but now we have the grandkids. Due to the pandemic we don’t see them much. My sense of taste and smell never fully returned after the stem cell transplant. There was some wicked chemo that was used to penetrate the blood- brain barrier. It took me about seven months after that to be able to taste or smell anything at all and even now five years later I’m still not normal. I can smell the simmering Christmas concoction a bit. I can sometimes smell my own armpits. Some perfumes I’m unable to smell nor natural gas from the stove. It is what it is. I’ve stopped dictating. It seems weird to be speaking out loud while I’m sitting here alone. To me it’s somewhat cathartic to type. 

This is Friday and the students I’m subbing for are asynchronous. I have put activities in their online folders. It just seems weird. So I have three more weeks of this gig- two after Christmas break and the last week of it, on Jan.11 is supposed to be in person with kids. I’m a bit ambivalent but keeping an open mind. It would only be five days. 

The sun is coming up now. I just went out to the kitchen and made another cup of coffee and opened the blinds on the back windows and sliding glass doors and Bitzi didn’t wake up or come out of her igloo so I just let her sleep. On days when I’ve been starting work online at eight I take her out for her first walk at seven but today she can sleep. Mike still takes her out to pee in the middle of the night but she surely doesn’t need it. She usually just wanders back in to her igloo by nine every night and puts herself to bed. She’s very well tempered and behaved.

After this sub job is done I’m not sure if I want to take more especially as schools are talking about returning students before the pandemic is over and vaccines have been given widely. Maybe my immune system is strong enough now but I still don’t produce immunoglobulins like normal humans so it’s a bit tricky....

Monday, December 7

Getting pumped up

6:24. I’ve been up an hour. I’m subbing for an elementary general music teacher until Jan.15 when she returns from maternity leave. This morning I have five fourth grade Zoom classes back-to-back. This afternoon I have five kindergarten classes. It’s fast and furious for 30- minute classes. When we return from winter break in January the kids are set to return to school my last week working.

I’m just drinking coffee now trying to mentally prepare for the day... Mike is still sleeping. I have to take Bitzi out for a little walk before I get ready to start work online. I’m just going to do my best, try to shine and enjoy the kids as much as I can. On the 19th I’m driving to Canton & Lewistown to deliver Christmas presents. That’s not so far away. I’ll live on that until I go.

Sunday, December 6

Trudging through the pandemic

7:29am Sunday morning

I just turned the heat up. My fingers are cold. Mike is comatose on the couch with the TV news chattering away. I’m drinking my coffee ( black with MCT oil) and getting geared up to go walk. I think Bitzi is still sleeping in her fabric igloo in her little kitchen pen. I fed and watered her but she didn’t come out of her igloo. We walked three miles yesterday- quite a lot for her tiny puppy legs. I’m wanting another shihtzu male puppy but haven’t told Mike yet. He grouches over everything. We have room for another one. 

We’re going over to see Annette ( Mike’s mom) in St.Charles later this morning around ten when she’s done watching her mass service on TV. I’m leaving my mask on while we’re in her house because who knows which relatives she’s been around and I could have it and not know. I’m taking no chances. 

I just ordered some gifts through Amazon to be delivered to my sister Vicki ( who is mentally and physically handicapped and 70 and lives in a group handicapped home with three other women in Peoria) because I don’t anticipate being able to see her soon. The company is very careful with the residents.


I’m sitting here on the couch by Mike watching The Bears game. I could care less. I just did some practice lessons to get more comfortable with the technology on my laptop. I’ll try again later. Fairly awkward switching between videos and sharing the Zoom screen. My poor vision doesn’t help.

We went to Mike’s mom’s house. She is obviously depressed again. She refuses to take her prescribed antidepressants. It is what it is.

Saturday, December 5

Know thyself

It’s 8:41am Saturday morning. It’s bright and nippy outside. I took Bitzi for a walk around Wildflower Lake earlier. There was frost on the ground and ice on the water. We’ll go for another walk later. Today I’m going to devote several hours creating sub plans and practicing with the new technology so I don’t feel frustrated and panicked like I did Wednesday and Thursday. I want to put my full attention to the kids and teaching and not worry about all the other shit. Before long this temporary job will be done. I’ve lost eighteen pounds since October 21 when I started keto and fasting. I’ve had a few blips on the radar when I’ve had too many carbs but overall I’m good. This is a lifestyle change. I’m walking more. My gut and my breathing are much improved. I’m no longer having knee and back pain. It’s going well. I’ve made out a schedule for myself today so I’m going to go get to work. I have a tendency to procrastinate and put off doing things.....I always feel so much better after I get my stuff done ( aka know yourself.)I believe Mike has some work to do today

I am feeling very happy and blessed today. The sun shining helps greatly. I can’t believe how far my health has come since the return of my brain cancer and stem cell transplant in spring of 2015. I thank God for my blessings every day ( even though I complain and gripe some times, know I have won the ultimate lotto of life!)

2:38pm. I’ve gotten a whole bunch of school stuff done today and taken two long walks with the dog. I’m not 100% finished yet but I’ve made really good progress. Tomorrow I’ll be testing my media and setting my timing and plans. 

Friday, December 4

Five ways to cope with life

I’m sixty one and retired. For some odd reason I thought that substitute teaching might be a fun, easy thing to keep me busy, connected and earn some extra money ( we’re remodeling our house and things add up...) so I accepted a long term elementary music sub job in a new neighboring school district. I should have listened to my intuition when I was filling out the application-they asked a crazy amount of information, background, references, a Zoom interview with five administrators....Then I had to undergo an exceptionally thorough health exam, drug screening, fingerprinting and criminal background check. At this point I just want to flipping’ forget about it but figured I’d come that far but then it was the week of Thanksgiving and everything was shit down and I didn’t hear a peep from their HR. Then on Monday Nov.30 at 7am I got a call that all my forms had cleared and they wanted me to start right away. After that it was a crazy whirlwind getting me started. They use a completely different e-learning platform than I was used to. Their Zoom version is different and much more restrictive. Because I’m a sub I do not have access to a lot of the online staff resources. I was panicking very badly Tuesday morning not being able to access my classes until I had a Zoom meeting with a wonderful, patient tech who walked me through stuff to get me up and running. I am not all the caught up with all the latest music education technology and I am not going to attempt to learn a bunch of new programs badly to sub for a couple weeks. I am going to do my best. I actually had fun and enjoyed the five fourth grade classes I had yesterday. I was told that Fridays are asynchronous so I assumed I wouldn’t have classes. This district is also on a different kind of rotating alphabetical schedule I am not accustomed to so I didn’t even really know as this first Friday I’m doing counts toward that schedule (after calling the building secretary and being on hold for ten minutes while she found out what day it was) I learned that Fridays do not count and “specials teachers” do not have students on Fridays we just load stuff online for them to do (which I did manage to do last night.) I am more of a MAC person and not very fluent or comfortable using PCs but now I’m forced to use the building loaner PC which is an older thinkpad with a weird trackpad and clickers that is awkward to use. I had to screw around with it quite a while to adjust the display settings for my low vision. All of this causes me stress and anxiety. There’s so just so many stressful things happening in life now anyway and I have to just mentally slap myself and fix it and snap the hell out of it when I start feeling anxiety, my chest squeezing and my heart starting to feel a bit racy. Below are some things I’ve used successful to settle myself down.

  1. Take a slow deep breath. Oxygen always helps to calm me down. Go for a long walk and concentrate on your breath. Slow inhales, slow exhales are how you calm it down. Sometimes I also do alternate nostril breathing to calm down and sometimes to help me get to sleep at night.
  2. Try to think of the good parts of whatever is bothering you or making you verklempt. There are almost always SOME good parts of anything. Try to focus and lean on those for a while and less on the negative parts. When I was critically ill with my brain and eye cancer I tried to find good things to ponder on every day- whether it was the chocolate milk shakes at Rush hospital in Chicago or my fuzzy stuffed pig chemo buddy.
  3. Journal, blog or talk to a close friend or family member about whatever it is that’s causing your worry. Somehow getting it out, writing it, speaking it, processing it makes everything more manageable and gives the boogie man less power. Get it out and that will help.
  4. Look at the problem or issue from different angles. Try going at it from a different way. Explore all options. Sometimes things look completely different from another side. Take a break and come back at it later. Things may be much clearer later. 
  5. Ask for help from somebody who is informed and experienced with whatever the issue it is. It doesn’t hurt to ask for help. Everybody needs help at one time or another. Be open to advice. You can’t slay all the dragons in the world yourself. Send up a flag and ask for help when you need it.

Now it’s late morning and I’ve resolved to do some planning over the weekend to feel more prepared and confident in my sub job. I have resolved to stick it out until Jan. 15 when the teacher returns from maternity leave. When I agreed to do this job I was told I could work remotely from home. I went into the school two days last week and got my technology bugaboos worked and felt confident enough to work from home on Thursday but Wednesday evening, to cover me bases, I emailed the elementary school assistant principal that I would be working from home on Thursday just to let them know. Thursday morning then I had 5 Zoom classes all in a row and when I got a break from those and finally checked my email I read what seemed to me to be a bitchy snotty note from the principal saying that he had to have a form from their district signed from me to work at home and I should work from school until I’m confident with the technology and the music curriculum. NO ONE EVER told me there was some kind of contract I needed signed NOR did anyone mention I needed to follow their music curriculum specifically note have I been given it. I was pretty upset and sent the principal back a very polite short note saying I was told when I hired that I would be working remotely and no one ever mentioned a form nor any of the other things and he should find someone else to do the sub job.  He then sent me a note back later apologizing for not being clear. I was ready to quit. I still want to but I’m going to try my best to finish and go until Jan.15 but then I will never work for this particular district again. I get plenty of offers from my old district and my current town. I dont need the BS from this third school district. So that’s that!  PHEW!

I’m listening to Beethoven piano sonata #14.

The spare bedroom has now become my new office. I’m going to rearrange it. The laptop table I had been using doesn’t feel as stable and secure as this other table so now I’m just going to use it for the overflow of stuff.


Ten tricks to stay positive

Now in February 2021 the world has been living with, fighting, learning about and worrying over Covid-19. I keep reading all the stories of ...