My Last Vice

By the time you get to my age, you've pretty much eliminated all your vices. Drinking is no longer worth the hangover, and doesn't do your liver any good at this point. Smoking already made your lungs crap out. Sex...well....let's say there are some fantastic memories. My only "vice" left is coffee.

Mug after mug of coffee. Can you chain coffee? That's what I do. Hot, cold, left over from last night - doesn't matter. I'll even drink it if it tastes awful.

Oddly, coffee doesn't keep me awake - it makes me sleepy. As I was growing up, the adults always had coffee after dinner. Part of a relaxing ritual. So, it's relaxing to me (and my adult daughter as well - might be a gene, right?). Either it's an emotional ritual response to my growing up, it's genetic, or I drink so much it doesn't affect me anymore.

By the time you get to my age, you've also seen health advice go one way, then the other, then back, and so on.... so what do you believe? Whatever you like.

I have Sjogren's, which dries me out - inside and outside. Some doctors think I should quit drinking coffe as it is dehydrating. Others say, no, it's a form of water, so counts as hydrating. Some doctors think it makes you hyper and tense, well...not in my case. Some doctors think it causes headaches. Others say, no, it cures headaches.

And, (whoopee), I read an article in AARP Magazine indicating that coffee/caffeine should be part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Having fibromyalgea and arthritis, I'm a walking inflammatory mess.

The article said that over-the-counter cold and headache medicines contain caffein. Studies show it enhances effects of common painkillers, such as aspirin. But recent data suggests that it has pain-lowering properties of its own. Two cups of coffee reduced postworkout pain by almost 50%! Caffeine seems to raise your pain threshold.

So, raspberries to you nay-sayers. I'm sticking with my buckets of Joe.

  • Current Mood
    thoughtful thoughtful

Mitten Project

 I've been knitting a series of mittens and have posted them on FaceBook.  I've just finished another set, but their photo add isn't working today.  So instead, I'll post them all here.

These two are the right and left hand of Spring Birds

                                   Snowflakes                                                                                             Wildlife

                         Mountain Scenery

I'm currently working on a Spring set, and if I have enough yarn I'll make the Fall Leaves set.  These mittens have been fun and challenging.  After all of these pairs, and one failure I tossed, I think I finally have it all figured out!



 As Nat found out when she last visited, our toilet wouldn't flush all, really. The handle wasn't loose, but didn't do much good - like it was stuck.

I looked it up on the internet and discovered it was the flapper seal causing the problem, but the fix looked a little too hard for us. I can barely lift the top of the tank off - Hal can't do it at all.

I looked in there and verified that was what it was. If you pull the arm up reeeeaaaalllly hard, it'll flush. Then it drops and the suction seals it forever. Well, at least until we pull the arm again. (What ever happened to chains?)

The first plumber groused about, ignored the "dumb old lady who thought she knew plumbing", and told me it was the flapper seal. No shit McGrit. He said to replace it was useless, it would just seal shut again. It had to be rebuilt and would cost about $300. Bye, bye Mr. Plumber guy. I'd rather lift the toilet tank top every day.

The second plumber called. I asked him how much an estimate cost. His answer? "A Million Dollars!". Hahahahaha. I liked him already. An estimate was really $40, and will be applied to any repairs made. Could he come on Friday or next week. "I'm in your neighborhood, I'll be right over." Cool.

He listened to what I had to say, agreed with me, showed me where the problem was. Told me that that specific part was no longer available. If you wiggle the arm just so, it'll be good for a couple of flushes. He could replace the part, but the same thing would happen in 6 months. Or he could rebuild it for about $200.

He recommended we see if we could get by with wiggling the arm just so (I picture myself standing near the toilet, wiggling my arm abour). If we couldn't, call him back and he would rebuild it.

A couple of days went by. We couldn't stand it any more. And what a pain it would be at Christmas when the kids are here! I called his office back, they patched into his truck, and he said he'd be here first thing next morning. Which he was.

I wanted to hug the guy. Besides being cheaper, he was much kinder and offered other solutions. What a sweetie.

So he fixed it, I paid him, lectured him on smoking when I started to wheeze, and bid him a Merry Christmas as he whistled to his truck.


I've got 4 projects in the works now. One is a table topper of crocheted medallions all connected in a pattern. I was almost finished when I realized that one of the medallions in the middle was positioned incorrectly. Had to clip that one out and still have to link them all back together again, then do the edging.

BUT I was also working on another kitty blanket (finished it last week), this time with a black kitty, for a friend. Had to finish that first before repairing the medallion.

In the needlepoint room I finished one project which requires some sewing. I still have to clear out a place in the computer room, drag in my sewing cabinet, and set up my machine before completing that one.

So, I'm creating a needlepoint depicting night and day meeting (in the form of angels). Had to tear out the stitches 3 times, but I'm finally making some progress on that.

Healthwise, we're both doing OK. Hal still has patches of no-skin on his legs that we look for and treat every night. You know, those commercials that talk about wounds that won't go away and you didn't know what the heck that would be? It's a result of his diabetes and leg-swelling. Other than that, and his wild swinging legs, he's fine. Spirits high and having fun.

My biggest issue is my breathing, but have it pretty well in control by making short trips and taking lots of breaks. Haven't needed the wheelchair in months. Of course, we haven't gone anywhere vast, but still.....



We ran to the polls and voted this month. And voted for Jerry Brown for governor. Last time he was in office (which was before the term limit law passed, so he could run again), he turned the CA deficit into a surplus for the first time in years. He has a very practical way of handling money. If you don't have it, don't spend it. We're looking for a much happier, affluent California now that he's back in office.

I had a field vision test. That's where you look into this white box, and click a button whenever a tiny light beams at your peripheral vision. My blank area is still blank, but hasn't grown in size, so that's a good thing.

Thanksgiving was quiet, but yummy. Toria had only a one-day visit in the States during her European job trip, and it was Brian's family's turn to host Thanksgiving. We couldn't make the drive there, so had a small quiet Thanksgiving here with Natalie.

Nat and I made turkey (just breast and thighs), green bean casserole (first time I made it taste right - I'm so lame), gingered carrots, smashed potatos, gravy, stuffing, Graber olives, and various pickles. The best part of TK is sharing the preparations for the meal. The food is good, too... Hal even ate a full meal!

I had made pecan and apple pie for dessert, and Nat brought ... what were they called? Kinda like not-blonde brownies. Very tasty. We were so stuffed, a couple of her brownies was all I could manage. Sent Nat home with extras and a pie.

Missed the rest of you guys. We get to host next year!


Late September and October were filled with blood tests and doctor's visits. I have one more to go, but all is well. We'll both get a reprieve for a couple of months.

Rick visited in October. He had a conference in LA and they paid for his travel. We taught him to play Ticket to Ride, and he was hooked. Nat came over one night to play, and Toria's family came by to see him, and play the game, too.

Our garage has an overhead fluorescent light that has been out since early Summer - maybe even longer.  Nat and I tried to fix it in the Summer, but determined the ballast had blown.  Since it's so high up, and difficult for us to remove/replace, we just left it in the dark, using the dim door-opener lights to see (or open the garage doors).  When Rick came to visit, he replaced the ballast, fixed the outlet problem and got our light working again.  Hal and I are joyful every time we turn the lights on.  

I'd forgotten that Rick had spent his early career working with construction crews and helping an electrician.  He's awfully handy to have around!

We enjoyed having him for a few days.  He turned 41 this year!  My children are all grown *tears*....


We turned off the porch light and didn't hand out anything this year. Whatta couple of old grouches, huh? Just couldn't get up the energy to keep going to the door. And now I'm usually napping when the early birds come around.

Toria's Family always comes up with the best home-made costumes...

Nat's is from Rocky Horror Picture Show. One of the lesser-known costumes. She got to see the actual show in LA and was ecstatic. Tim Curry was there as well as her other favorites.



In September I turned 62. For my official senior citizen birthday, I went to AT&T and got my first smart phone. Asked the clerk if there's a birthday discount. No. Ah, well, I tried. I had the sales clerk use it to take my birthday picture:

It's amazing what this phone can do. So many apps. Nat already has one, so when she came to visit we compared apps and I added a few she had.  One can listen to a tune or song, identify it, show you where you can download it, and give you the artist and lyrics besides. Awesome. Another you can scan a barcode and it'll show you where it's sold in your area and list all the different prices. And the GPS feature is super. We finally find our "In and Out" burger place. And a few more bakeries in our area.

For Christmas last year, Toria's family gave us the game "Ticket to Ride". We played it when Bekah was here and loved the game. Now we introduce it to everyone who stops by.   Rick sent me the same game for my birthday.   So, I returned it and traded it for the European version of the game.  

While I was on Amazon, I found that there are also expansion decks and another few versions that I've put on my wishlist there. One, the Nordic version, was limited edition and was not being manufactured anymore. So I bought that one, too. The Swiss version was $145 at that time. Eek. Didn't get it. This week, the price went down to $108. Hoping it will get lower soon. It's the best of the series. Hal and I play it together online all the time.


Trying to Catch Up

Month of August was fun. Toria's job sent her to Brida (Holland) again, but this time her husband Brian got to go with her. Little Ted was to stay with Brian's mother, and the two girls came out here. Mary to stay for a few days, and Rebekah to catch a train in Bakersfield to visit her friend in Sacramento.

Rebekah had a good time with her friend. There were a couple of small frustrations getting her on the train back here. My brother, Marty, lives in Sacramento. So the next time Bekah travels out there, he suggested he meet us in Bakersfield (about 1/2 way between us) and will take her back with him. That'd be great. Get to visit with my brother and sister, Mary (maybe), and have less worries about Bekah traveling on her own.

Rebekah's got a new haircut before her trip:

The actual train travel went well. I was worried about a 13-yr old girl traveling alone, but she was signed over to the conductor, who had her sit in a special area so he could keep an eye on her and other young travelers. The specified adult had to sign for her on arrival, so she was covered at all times. I felt good about that.

While she was gone, Mary and I had some time together. We played games, and watched a silly sci-fi monster movie together. She spent a lot of time on the computer, and taking walks around the back yard. I also learned she can draw amazing pictures. I gave her one of my art pads and some colored pens to take home with her.

Mary's new, colored braces.

When Rebekah came back we still had a couple of days together. Played some games, and Bekah and Mary helped a lot around the house. Such good girls.

When Ted is older, we can take him, too. Right now he's like a whirlwind. We wouldn't be able to keep up with him.

Also, in August, Nat's roommate moved to Seattle. Nat has had bad luck with roommates in the past, so moved into a tiny studio apartment. She likes living by herself. Her apartment is within walking distance to the beach! She shared some pictures of it on a cloudy day...


Lancaster Update

We've had a quiet couple of weeks.   No appointments.  Just stayed home doing chores and playing.   Friday Hal went to the lab for a blood test. It was the first time that, without a wheelchair, I was able to walk the length of the building to the lab and back.   I was winded, but no distress.  Quite an accomplishment.   I've been riding a stationary bike and am up to 7 minutes, about 9-10 mph, so I'm sure that's helping.  Hal took his walker in case I had to sit down.

The only excitement has been the fires.  Fortunately, we didn't get any smoke until after we returned from the lab.  This is a map of where the fire is in relation to Lancaster, where we live.  All the green stuff is canyons and scrub, so there's lots of fuel.  We're in no danger.   Lots of buildings before it gets to our neighborhood, and the firefighters are doing a great job containing it.   So far only one house and a couple of trailers have burned.  The thin red line indicates where the fire is.  It has an uphill climb, then a downhill one before it gets to the freeway.  I'm confident the firefighters won't let that happen.

Hal told me there was a lot of ash on the driveway, so I took my camera out there and got this shot. Had to go back in right away; I could feel the particulates being sucked into my lungs.

And I've been working on my needlework stuff. Here's a pair of socks I finished. I had a pattern to crochet trim for kitchen towels, but I didn't like the way it turned out. I kept the towels and tossed the yarn. I'm knitting another pair of socks now.

I love the colors.   It's called "Clover".  It was fun watching the colors emerge as I was knitting.


Lancaster Update

On Friday, I decided we'd gone long enough without the guest toilet.   Since it's near the computer room, it gets used a lot, and the other one is way at the other end of the house.  So I managed to lift and slide out the tank cover, then went to the mailbag where we placed the new one after we bought it.  The mailbag was empty.  Uh-oh.   I looked all over the desk, the kitchen counters, both bathrooms.  What the heckers did we do with it?

Hal went out and checked in the car in case it fell out of the bag.  We also got groceries that day, so it may have fallen out while loading the car.   He couldn't find it.   He questioned whether we left it at the store (old folks like us tend to do things like that), but we both remembered putting it in the mailbag when he brought it to the car.

We checked everywhere again, and couldn't find it.  Sigh.  We both got dressed and were resigned to going to the store to get another.   Just on a hunch, that Hal looked-like-a-man, I checked the car one last time.  It wasn't on the floor, wasn't in the cargo bin, but there it was!  Face down on the trash bag.  Whew!

Hal got out his tools.  Since my hands are smaller, and the area we had to work in so small, I was the designated plumber.  I tried unscrewing the nut that holds the flusher handle device in place, but I'm just a weak little woman. He's a big strong man and got it out quickly.

Expecting to see a chain to hook the arm to, I was surprised that there wasn't one in there.   Figured out that it fits in an "O" and pulls the "O" up to flush.  Took out the old one, slid in the new one, and realized it was too long . I couldn't get it into position to fit through the slot.

Hal got a saw (the part was supposed to be sawable-to-fit), but neither of us could saw it through the thick plastic.  So he used his wire cutters instead, and that worked.

I still couldn't get it to fit in the slot, and if we cut it any shorter, it would be useless.   I was stimied.  Then Hal realized that the "O" rotated.   Well, duh.   I turned the "O" to the side, put in the handle, and returned the "O" to the original position, sliding the bar in as I turned.   So simple.  Didn't even occur to me that that part turned. What do single people do when they need to work something out?  It always takes the two of us combining our brain power - what little of it is left.   A couple of tests flushes and we're back in business!

Saturday was spent playing games on FaceBook all day.  In the evening I worked on a pair of socks for myself, and finished one of the set.   Isn't this yarn pretty?  I like the contrast of the bright and dark colors.  The holes in the leg part are intentional - part of the pattern.  

Today I'm catching up on my to-do list, and watching LifeTime movies.   I did a bit more needlepoint and you can see the progress I've made compared to the last shot.   Now that I work on it at least an hour a day, it's moving right along.   I have about 15 more needlepoint projects lined up. I'm good for the rest of my life.


  • Current Mood
    busy busy

Lancaster Update - 108 degrees at 5 PM!

My brother Mike found some letters our Dad wrote to him in the early 60's.  He has scanned them and sent them to each of us sibs.  What a wonderful thing, to be able to see yourself and your siblings through your father's eyes.  And to listen to how his mind worked, and what he was thinking about at the time. Technology produces some wonderful opportunities to reconnect - even with family that has passed sway.

Our guest bathroom toilet lost it's ability to flush.  The idiots that designed that room extended the sink counter over the top of the toilet tank. Fortunately, there is just enough room to pull the lid out.  But we can only access the front part of the tank.  I hope that's enough to work in there.  Turns out the arm that pulls the flapper was broken.  So we went to Home Depot in the 110 degree weather.

Luckily, they had two electric carts available.  Unluckily, mine was slower than a golf cart towing elephants.  We found the part we needed, and I told Hal to go ahead and drive over to checkout, and I'd try to catch up.  Then the blessed thing kept konking out.

Granted, it was hard to tell the difference between when it was moving and when it wasn't, but the lights would go out periodically, shutting the whole thing down.   I rebooted it and kicked it a couple of times, and got it as far as it's recharging station then walked to the car.

Hal wasn't there yet, so I turned on the AC and drove the car near the entrance, and waited for him.  That trip was a lot more effort than it should have been for such a simple thing.

Next we went to the grocery store.   I was a little faster than Hal with his cane, so moved ahead hoping to grab a couple of the electric carts.  As I entered, one of the regular clerks was sitting in a cart waiting for me.   When she turned it over, she said she'd go get one for Hal, and met him at the door, too.  She took his order for sodas, and told him they'd be waiting at the checkout stand.  Super Service!  When we were at the checkout, she left her current post to come help us.  Man, I wish they'd let them take tips.  We tried slipping some cash to one of the helpers before, but he had to deny it.  

She and Andy are always willing to go the extra step for their customers.   We'll have to find out her name, then let the manager know how much we like them.   And I have a lot of sympathy for all those young people that had to go out in that heat all afternoon.

And speaking of heat.  Here I am, next to our in-the-shade thermometer. Even though I'm in the shade, I still squint because the sun is so danged bright out here!

  • Current Mood
    cheerful cheerful