Friday, May 31, 2019

Necessary Things

I'm trying--trying really hard--to keep the kids reading.  Part of this is getting them books that they've chosen.  One new book a month.  We'll also be trying to get to the used bookstore a few times.  They've gotten some real gems, there.

The pixie has discovered our set of Roald Dahl novels.  She has, so far, devoured one in its entirety in one day (it was a short one), giggling the whole time.  The imp, despite being two years older, doesn't read as well--I'm pretty sure that's his ADHD spiking the guns, though.  It's not that he doesn't have interest in reading, just that he can't sit still to read unless it's utterly absorbing. 

Oddly enough, he doesn't have the same problem with his Kindle games...I may end up confiscating his Kindle for a while.  Because of that, and because it does utterly terrible things to his attitude. 

His major interest, right now, is Pokemon.  I used to not care one way or the other about it, but after he discovered it, I've begun hating it.  Because he will. Not. SHUT UP. About it. 

But he reads the books about the characters.  And I have found that there are chapter novels for it.  I'll be buying these one by one for him.   

Pixie has gotten into the DogMan graphic novels.  I've been getting those at Walmart--they're a lot cheaper there than they are through Amazon.  She's got her eye on three that I saw there.  And she's got the other three that are out.  So those are getting snagged on Monday.  When I also snag some regular strength Tylenol for the kids. 

I've ordered a Pokemon book listing characters from Amazon for the imp--the pixie's book is going to have to wait a bit.  I do have something on the way for her, though: a pop-up document holder in purple.  She'd been using my blue one, but didn't think it was fair for her to keep it, since the imp didn't have one.  So.  He gets my blue one (for now), and she gets a new, purple one.  That isn't going to be used until next fall, when she's copying her spelling homework down. 

And, given Odysseus's job, he has ties coming out his ears.  His tie rack is loaded down to double what its capacity is supposed to be, he can't really see all the ties on it well, and it still doesn't hold all of his ties.  So, there's two more tie racks on the way so that he has an easier time choosing ties.  Because all of them will be hung up, where he can actually see them.  They'll hang on hooks on the wall, just behind the bedroom door.

Necessary things.  Things to keep the kids reading, keep the kids from fighting, and things to try to keep up with the house cleaning/decluttering/organization. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

It's working!

My house is, while not clean, clean, it's at least decluttered (mostly) and presentable.  And I'll be continuing working on that until I'm not spending all my time decluttering and can start cleaning. 

It's gonna be a while.  But I think I can do it. 

What makes it easier is that I think the stupid CFS is starting to ease up its stranglehold.  Some.  I can do a little bit more than I could when it was at its best last year.  I'm keeping up with being able to declutter, and I'm able to regain some of the lost/used energy when I sit down and rest. 

I haven't been able to do that reliably for four years.

To be completely honest, I'm not sure if the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is letting go, or if the Armor, in the correct dose (which they couldn't seem to get on the T4 alone) is just working that much better than the synthetic thyroid replacement hormone.  Either way, this is making me happier about my health than I've been in a while. 

Friday night, after the kids had finished their pizza and their movie, and were getting ready for bed, we got a phone call from one of our oldest friends.  I've been friends with this guy for 21 years, now, and Odysseus has been friends with him for a little bit longer.  He's currently selling tools out of a truck--has a route and steady customers and a franchise and everything.  He's staying with one of his other long-term friends while said friend is training and about to deploy with the Guard, and will stay with his wife and family while he's gone as a layer of protection. 

Our friend needed a place to leave his tools van over the weekend while he went to a hobby convention.  And that the guy he's staying with would be coming with him to take him back. 

And neither Odysseus nor I sprang into crisis-cleaning* mode.  We straightened a few things, moved a couple of books out of chairs in the library, but that was basically all. 

And we were relaxed enough to enjoy a short visit instead of wishing it hadn't happened in the first place.

And it's because of five, ten, or fifteen minutes at a time.  And improving energy levels where I can do one or two more sessions of five, ten, or fifteen minutes, and recover energy after I've sat down.  

*Crisis-cleaning: where you take giant arms-full of mess and cram it in closets, cabinets, bedrooms, or wherever you can hide it in the few minutes' warning you have.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Wild night

Last night was deeply unpleasant in this area.  We had several tornadoes spawn southwest of us and pass through.  Lots of Joplin's bedroom communities got hit, and one stayed on the ground, traveling northeast for a good long while after it left city limits.  Several areas to our northeast got plastered, too.  Reports are still coming in.  It wasn't as bad as the tornado that hit Joplin exactly eight years earlier (the monster F5 tornado that left a swath of destruction a mile wide and six miles long hit on May 22, 2011), but it was still nasty, scary, and probably re-traumatized a whole lot of people. 

And that wasn't all of it.  We had several inches of rain dumped on us, too.  It overwhelmed the, admittedly minimal outside city limits, storm drainage around our house.  I woke up at six this morning to our entire front yard flooded up to the oaks about fifteen feet from the front of the house (our front yard is HUGE), and both sides of the driveway covered in a river of fast-running water.  Looked about three inches deep or so. 

It has since receded a good bit.  I mean, it's still flowing pretty quick, but the river itself is narrower, and a little shallower.  I wasn't sure we'd be able to get out for the kids' last day of school, but it looks like it's going to happen. 

I mean, I'm not getting out, but Odysseus is taking the kids in.  It should recede the rest of the way before their release time at 11:00 a.m.  It's close, even now.

I'm really hoping this is all for a while.  We've had over eight inches of rain in the past three days, and had tornadoes on Monday and then again last night.  I'm really, really tired of this shit.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Week in review

My aunt had her cancer surgery moved up a week.  Instead of having tests last Monday, they squeezed everything into the previous week, and removed what they found last Monday.  She's home, recovering as best she can before they start her on chemo. 

Tuesday, the kids had their field day.  I'd hoped to have a free day with my much beloved spouse, who'd taken the day off, but the imp woke up sick.  So, instead, we called the vet and made appointments.

We have two cats, and two cat carriers.  We got Cricket into the bigger one just fine.  But Shadow?  Nah.  That was hard.  It was like a cross between catching that bar of soap that's just squirted out of your wet hands, and trying to thread a cooked spaghetti noodle through a straw.  Yes, we tried wrapping her in a towel first.  No, it didn't work.  The vet said they're very healthy kitties, sold us Feline Revolution II for the fleas (last year's stuff just did not work), got Shadow high as a kite (catnip), and sent them home. 

The dog got her bath and we let her roll in towels for a while and self-dry.  Then, we sheared the Scotty (with the long guards), and got the bits the clippers didn't get with a pair of scissors.  We took about a pound of hair off the dog, and now, she looks like a proper Scottish Terrier (sorta) instead of a dirty little mop with legs.

She has her vet visit tomorrow.  No, she doesn't know this. 

Imp was better on Wednesday, but still home.  The school has a 24 hr after last emission/fever breaks rule for going back.  He was a huge help, though: we got the living room floor completely picked up for vacuuming.  

I wasn't good for a whole lot on Thursday, but I did manage to get the kids signed up for some summer activities: a technology/math/Lego (with Lego movie maker) fun camp at their school, and a couple weeks of swimming lessons (I'll sign them up for another session later).  I did get the desk and file cabinet top decluttered and arranged for work.  So there's that.  Wasn't good for much on Friday, either.  Yesterday, we visited family, and, we got some shopping done, and I got some double sided tape.  My things I've set up on the desk?  Ain't going nowhere.  Not even when a kitty decides to play "fuck that thing...and that thing...and that thing in particular." 

Next: I want another African violet, with the special little self-watering pot.  Because I had one, and I loved it, and it froze to death when an ice storm killed the house's power for a couple days in '09.  I now have the perfect place for another.  Right there on my desk, between the laptop, and my lamp.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Learning curves...

Everybody has 'em. 

I've learned that if I don't multitask,* nothing will get done.  I've also learned that if I do multitask, I burn things that need constant quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches.  And then, I have an unhappy pixie.  Which is why she prefers Daddy (who doesn't multitask, and does hover over cooking food) to make her quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches.

I've learned that I am, by nature, a night owl.  And that I can't live according to my nature because a) both my kids are shiny, happy little morning people, and b) I can't nap after I've been up for a while, whether I have coffee or not.  I can only nap when I'm actually stay-in-bed sick.  Which takes a lot. 

I've also learned that not being allowed to be a night owl makes writing so much harder than it would otherwise be.  Writing is still possible, but I can get a lot more done after nightfall...if I haven't utterly exhausted myself trying during the day.

I've learned to better listen to my body.  If I pay attention, I can tell when I need to stop doing whatever I'm doing, and rest to avoid a CFS attack.  I have to do things this way, because I've also learned that trying to do something today that I was able to do yesterday doesn't always work.  I've also learned that CFS has wildly variable levels of disability that change from day to day. 

That, right there, has been the hardest, most painful learning curve I've faced in the last decade.  Including learning to be a parent.

*I get up to refill my sports bottle, and I unload a few dishes.  I warm up my lunch, and I unload a few more.  I have to head for the back of the house for a bathroom break, and I take clean laundry/stuff that's migrated to places it doesn't belong back with me.  Another bathroom break, and I sort clothes.  I start supper, I put things on the counters away and/or load dishwasher, and/or wash stuff I'm using to make supper as I finish using it...that type of multitasking. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


FlyLady emphasizes routines, habits.  Little bit at a time. 

I'm trying. 

I've made progress.  I've made a habit of getting dressed all the way down to shoes unless I'm sick and staying in bed.  I've been keeping my sink empty and clean.  I've been decluttering five minutes here, fifteen there, as I have energy. 

Hotspots are still a problem.  And I hate, hate, HATE cleaning toilets, so daily swish and swipe hasn't happened.  Neither has making the bed. 

But I'm making progress.  Without setting myself back with a chronic fatigue attack.*  Mostly. 

It is still very much a work in progress, and my house is a long way to go to "not cluttered and messy" much less "clean."  But it's better than it was, and I'm pleased with that much.

*Lots of people call those flares.  It feels less like a barely under control fire flaring out of control and more like a big, stinky, hairy monster sneaking up on me and stomping me into the floor. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Random ramblings

The kids have a bit less than three full weeks of class days left of the school year.  They were scheduled, at first, to get out on the 21st; however, ice and snow forced a couple of make-up days, and now that date has been pushed to the 23rd.  They've got the elementary fun field day set for a week from Tuesday, and the pixie has a field trip to the park with her class a week after that.

I really need to sign them up for swim lessons.  And summer fun classes at their school.  I also need to sit down with a calendar before I do that to make sure I don't double-book them on times.

I also need to make sure they've got plenty of time to run around outside like crazy, be kids, and decompress without adult supervision and/or interference.

I'm honestly looking forward to not having to fight with them to get up.  Or fight to get them to do their homework.  Or listen to them whining about having to study spelling.  Or listen to them whining about doing badly on spelling tests (study, you little assholes!  Without whining about it!).

I need a break from the whining more than they need a break from school.

Shadow has been demanding to spend more time out in the garage, as the weather warms up.  There were a few times, this past winter, when she'd follow me out, when I'd go get something out of the freezer, then be waiting in the kitchen for me long before I could even get to the foot of the steps back into the house.  The cement floor was so cold it hurt her little toe-beans, and she got downright cranky about it.  She's much happier, now, and spends a few hours out there--exploring, napping in odd places, and hunting--every day.

While the weather's good, I don't mind.  When it heats up, I'm sure she'll be angry and unhappy again.  Not because she doesn't want to spend time out there, but because I won't let her stay out for long.  I don't want a heat-sick black kitty.

Cricket's been a lot calmer, since Shadow's been out hunting mousies instead of in hunting Cricket.  She's started settling on me, instead of stomping spastic circles.  She reaches up and puts her paws on my face and pats me.  I've figured out that she wants me to pet her face when she does that.

I've finally figured out Merry-dog's* favorite kind of toy: she likes stuffed toys.  They don't have to squeak--she doesn't care one way or the other about the squeakers--but her favorites don't have dangly, gangly limbs.  She likes toys she can shake the shit out of without hitting herself with anything, or snuggle in her bed with.  Walmart's got some really good ones.  I'd gotten her a mallard, and it tore after a couple weeks.  It's been relegated to nothing but snuggles by the dog so that she doesn't make it worse.  So I got her a pheasant made in the same way, last week.  She saw me through the French door with it, when I was cutting the tags and stuff off, and her ears went up and her tail started wagging slowly.  I opened the door, and the tail sped up.  I held the toy down for her, and she very carefully took it from my hand, took it on a lap around the yard (showing it around, I think, like a little girl with a new dolly does when she gets it home), then took it to where she'd been sleeping and snuggled down with it.  Cute as all hell.  She brought it in for snuggles in her kennel during that half-day-long series severe thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon, too.

Next weekend, I'm going to wash the dog, then we'll shear her like a sheep...or a boot camp Marine.

I've been playing with some of my ink samples, lately.  I have a lot of them, and I'd like to get them used up.  I've found myself going back to a few inks over and over, in a few colors, so I'm using up the others to get them out of the way.  I'm using Quink blue for the imp's spelling study in the TWSBI Eco I'm letting him use (non-staining, doesn't bleed through the paper, doesn't show through very much), and I use a lot of different shades of blue.  One of my favorites, now that I've figured out which pens it works best in, is a tamper-proof ink called Bad Belted Kingfisher--it's a dark navy with hints of green and turquoise.  It bonds with the paper, and doesn't come out with water, acetone, ammonia, vinegar, or UV.  I've got a similar red-black that looks like dried blood when it dries, that I'm using in writing the first draft of the second Liquid Diet Chronicals book.  Most of my inks are blues, blacks, burgundies, or greens.  I like turquoise, too, but not as much, and if the cats drool on most of my inks, the words wash away.

I guess, since I write most of my first drafts out by hand, that's why most of the inks I use are water-resistant, at least.  I have several gorgeous ones that aren't, and I just...don't use them.  Even though I'd love to.  Because Cricket drools, and Cricket knocks my sports bottles over.

That said, I am writing.  I'm still trying to get caught up on housework--December through the first half of April, I was nearly constantly sick with something or other.  The fourth in the Modern Gods series is half-edited (waiting on two beta readers to finish), and the second in the Liquid Diet Chronicles has a title (Having a Pint), and is 10K words into a planned 55-60K words.  And a lot of it is written in Noodler's Red-Black.  Meg seems to really like that one, and the words come easier when I'm using it.

This is the good in life.

My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, week before last.  She had three appointments in the city where I live last week.  She's got another one last week, and two a week from tomorrow, four hours apart.  Her appointments are with oncologists, surgeons, reconstructive surgeons, and several other specialists.  I don't know what stage she's at.  I'm not entirely sure she knows what stage of cancer she's at; the doctors are pushing fast for fast treatment.  I'm hoping.  Praying.  I'm praying they caught it early enough.  Because her husband's in is 80's, and is blind, diabetic, and crippled.  And I'm praying because, even as obnoxious and mean as she is, she's my aunt.  She's one of the four people that taught me to read.  She taught me to crochet.  She taught me to read animal body language.  I'm praying she comes through this okay.

And I'm not entirely sure she will.

This is the bad in life.

Life goes on.

*Merry-dog is a Scottish terrier.  Her full name is Merida, because what else do you name a Scottish princess?