Could Be Worse, Could Be Snowing…

It’s a rainy Tuesday evening, here in beautiful downtown Bealeton.  It’s been grey and wet all day, more of an aggressive mist than an actual falling of rain drops.

The weather is killing me; have taken all the meds I can take for pain and I’m trying to ignore the fact that they are not doing the job completely.  It’s just a fact of life, not trying to complain.  But it does highlight why I cannot return to work, indeed why I cannot do things I want to do, let along the things I’m supposed to do.  And I woke up feeling pretty good…

Thanksgiving went well.  The FIL was very happy to see the bacon encased Tom Turkey.  All the MIL could say was “Oh my God!”.  She sent most of the leftover meat back home with us, and I’ve had a couple of turkey sammiches.  Gonna boil off the bones (which she also sent with me) to make stock and then going to make soup out of it.  Have the dried beans plumping already.  Was going to make it today, but think that the plans have changed slightly…doing the grocery shopping has given me muscle spasms in my back–and I got home to realize that I did not buy the ground turkey I need for the meatballs to put in the soup.  Damn.  So I’ll change the water on the beans and put them in the fridge for tonight.  Run to the store tomorrow and get the meat, then come home and make the soup.

Trying to fill out various kinds of paperwork to get it back to the people who want it in time for their deadline–which means Beloved’s LTD papers will have to be faxed, but that’s actually okay with me because it means that we will retain a copy of it.  The act of filling them out makes my hands hurt, so it’s write some, rest some, write some more.  Funny how I’ve gotten so used to typing everything that writing, actual HANDwriting, is difficult.

We thought my son would be coming up to Norfolk this next weekend, but it isn’t going to happen that way.  The US Navy has its own way of doing things and it’s generally not what you think it’s going to be.  Keep changing it up and you keep everyone on their toes.  I guess.  So he will let us know what’s going on once he knows.  The Rainbat and Froggy are still scheduled to come along on the 8th–I bought him some snack food today and I found a cute stuffed frog  with a hook on its back (like a key chain, but it will attach to something on his chairs so that he can see it) at the drugstore the other day.  (And found a cute puppy for the EG, same thing about the hook.)

It’s a bit scary how freaking fast the Christmas ornaments and lights went up this past weekend.  I had not realized how many people have the tradition of decorating for the Yuletide the minute the Thanksgiving turkey has gone into the fridge as leftovers.  I guess it gives the women something to do while the men are watching football-and then on Friday, since hubby doesn’t have to go to work, you put him outside, hanging up strings of lights.  I’m already sick of the Christmas Carols.

Part of that is because I sang in choirs for literally YEARS.  My first solo was when I was 9 years old and I sang “Adeste Fideles” (O Come All Ye Faithful).  I know the words to pretty much ALL of the songs for this time of year.  There’s only just so many of them, you know.  No one’s written a new holiday song, everyone just does a new cover of an old song–and most oftentimes, it’s not a good cover.  Beloved knows better than to sing them around me…unless he’s purposefully teasing.  In which case, he gets what he deserves.

It will be a small Christmas…the in-laws have spent all their gift money keeping us off the street and frankly I wasn’t expecting ANY Christmas, so a limited one is perfectly acceptable and more than adequate.  I have no idea what we will be giving them.  I keep trying to think of something I could make, but then I get sidetracked…squirrel! and can’t come up with anything.  Sigh.  At least Beloved’s sister will be home from Chicago, where she’s doing her postgraduate work for costume design.  She needs the advanced degree if she wants to go anywhere in the field.  It’s a good thing, but it means that we don’t see her as often–she had been living in Philadelphia.  Can’t just jump on a train and be home when you’re up in the Windy City.

And as my title suggests, it’s also the time of year for snow.  Lovely to look at, but oh so bad for my bones.  And all suggestions are that it’s going to be a hard, hard winter.  The woolie bears are two inches thick and you can’t see their shell for the thickness of the fuzz…and all the acorns fell off the trees at once.  Thunk, onto the ground.  And the leaves on the trees…didn’t really change color before they also fell off.  The Farmer’s Almanac says it’s gonna be hard and we are due one, so… The worst storms come in February.  I shall hunker down and wrap myself in my blankets and ask Beloved to bring me hot chocolate.  But it’s not like we’ll be going to doctor’s appointments…since we lose insurance in 2 days.  Double sigh.

So that’s about it for us…not much going on, not much new.  But I do like to check in with you frequently, so I’ve done that.  And I’ll check in again, within the next couple of weeks.  So get your Christmas shopping done early and I’ll talk to you later!


Thank Goodness for Everything

It’s that time of year again.  The air is crisp, the trees are showing off their autumn colors, football is in full swing and Turkey Day is upon us.  It’s the one time of year that so many people remember to be thankful…oblivious to the need to be thankful all year round.  Oh well.

What am I thankful for?  Every day that I wake up breathing.  My granddaughter, sitting on my lap and talking to me about Elmo.  My deeply and dearly Beloved, bringing me white chocolate peppermint kettle corn (at Wegman’s, OMG good) and a cinnamon pretzel because he knows I like them.  A roof over my head and food in mah belly.  A computer that lets me connect with my family and friends, and make new friends.  And play endless hours of mindless games when I cannot do anything else.  The ocean.  The sunset.  (I don’t see sunrises, I’ve heard that they can be just as magnificent.)  Water when I’m thirsty.  Wine when I’m with friends.  Black Bear Bistro.  My purple PT Cruiser.  The quiet stillness of a forest clearing, carpeted in pine needles and glowing green.  Fireworks.  Hot tea.  My children and the fact that they are my friends as well.  My children’s significant others.  The beauty of the first snowfall and the fact that I can see it from inside of a warm house.  Rocks.  Technology.  That Mr. Obama is our President and has four more years of bringing us together as a nation.  That women voted and made their voices heard.  Froggy.  The generosity of strangers.  Life.

We have so much to be thankful for, Beloved and I.  We’ve received letters stating that we applied for SSDI.  We knew that, but everyone wants a copy of that letter.  Mine actually went out to some place in West VA, to be sent to me through the kindness of the poor person who had it tucked in with their correspondence from SSA.  We have a signed lease, which means a secure place to live for at least another year.  We’ve gotten the paperwork to fill out for HIS Long Term Disability (fingers crossed that it will be approved, it means Mo’Money and that’s always good).

We haven’t been very good about moving forward with our plan to simplify things and move them all around.  We did get rid of our large microwave, trading it to his mother for her little one.  “Are you sure?”  Oh yes, yes we are.  Take it and heat things up in good health and with our best wishes.  I’ve got the big cabinets almost emptied of stuff so that we can dismantle them and put smaller, more usable things in their place in the kitchen.  And we may not have to drive to IKEA for that kitchen cart–our Target has something suitable, with a folding shelf that makes it into a breakfast bar or adds work space if needed.  We borrowed a dolly cart from his dad and hopefully, when our friend with the muscles comes over this week, she will be willing to move some things for us.

So Thursday is Thanksgiving and I am responsible for the star of the show–I am cooking the turkey.  Well, first, I am brining the turkey, using a much altered version of Alton Brown’s brining recipe.  He uses vegetable stock and water.  I am going to brine my Tom in Dr. Pepper (and water).  The throw back version, made with real sugar.  Did you know that Dr. Pepper has like 26 different and distinct flavors in it?  So Tom will swim in Dr. Pepper, pickling spices, sugar and salt and ice.  It’s called osmosis and when he’s done swimming, he will be a most moist and flavorful bird.  And we’re just beginning.

On Thursday, I will weave a magical blanket for Tom out of…BACON!  YES!  A bacon blanket, to cover his turkeymanboobs.  Then, I will wrap his tender trusting legs in more bacon.  I will not wrap his wings in bacon because I will tuck them up behind his neck….  I might carefully powder him just ever so slightly with Old Bay spice, since everyone loves an Old Bay Spice TurkeyMan.  I will lovingly insert aromatic vegetables into the thoughtfully available cavity between his bacon-wrapped limbs.  And I shall follow the Kitchen God’s (Alton Brown’s) instructions for roasting: 15 minutes at 500 degrees, then 350 until the correct internal temperature is ALMOST reached.
(Because when you take him out of the oven, Tom continues to cook; take him out a few degrees below done and by the time you are ready to carve, he will have reached the exactly correct temperature and will NOT be overdone and inedible.)

And he shall sweat and simmer and gently roast, bathed in the slow gentle rendering of bacon fat.  His skin shall crisp and brown, the bacon will also crisp but the meat…shall be so sweet, so succulent and melt in the mouth tasty.  It will be like eating the food of the gods and we shall rejoice and be thankful for the generous bird, who gave his all, so that we could feast upon him.  And I’m also making cranberry SALSA to take along with Tom to the in-laws for the meal.  The recipe is actually on the back of the cranberry package…but basically it’s like any salsa, except that you substitute the cranberries for tomatoes.  I have sesame/flax chips to eat it with.  The rest of the meal is up to the MIL–she mentioned mashed potatoes, yams and pureed turnips.

Our friend of the muscles is bringing her daughter with her on Wednesday and if Mom has to work Thanksgiving, Daughter will be going with us to Beloved’s parents.  Could be interesting, but it’s always fun to have more people around.  Doctor’s appointment tomorrow, mandated by the damned but necessary paperwork for disability.  I have to be almost continually re-approved, to prove ongoing medical care.  This is going to get very expensive if I have to do it more than 3 or 4 times a year, since it’s about $200 to see him without insurance.  Sigh.

Thanksgiving.  Then 2 weeks later, the RainBat drives up from GA with my Froggy to spend the holidays.  She, bless her heart, has also promised to help move and organize.  We’ll get this done eventually, I hope.  Otherwise, I’m getting a snow shovel and just shit canning it all.  Then comes Yule/Christmas and the New Year and before you know it, it’s the end of the world.  Or at least the end of 2012.  I am a little concerned about the coincidence of Twinkies dying off just as this year comes to an end…but how did the Mayans know?

The change in weather has of course affected me.  The fibromyalgia is pretty much same as it ever was, same as it ever was.  (Talking Heads allusion)  I am clumsy and Beloved says it’s because I haven’t had the chiropractor put my hips back in alignment lately.  Ah well, that’s another doctor bill we can’t afford now.  (Well, ok, after the 30th.)  Incidentally, because fibro is a “self reported medical issue” (I don’t have a blood test result or MRI to prove that I have it), long term disability will last only 2 years.  Too bad the fibro will go on the rest of my life.  Slight discrepancy there.

So that’s about it for us now; paperwork, Thanksgiving, stirring our stuff around in the attempt to instill some order and simplicity to our lives.  May you be blessed with a wondrous feast, surrounded by family and friends or family that is friends; may you have the wisdom to see how much there is to be thankful for–and remember it more than just one day a year.  And may Dallas lose.  (I’m a long time Redskins fan, it’s an old habit.)


November’s Not so Bad…

Here’s the promised update.  FINALLY got my back check from Long Term Disability, so we have money in the bank again, thank the gods.  Will pay bills, buy some new clothes for Beloved and some winter-y clothes for me, too–sweatpants are going to be the de facto choice around here during the cold weather.

We will not be living in the car.  We are signing the new lease on Wednesday, staying in our nice little one bedroom apartment.  Rent went up $25, but it’s better than no place to live at all.  Quite a relief, I must say.  On the other hand, the thought of living in the very limited space of a car/RV has changed our priorities for the apartment.  We are getting rid of a lot of things–even Beloved wants to dispose of stuff I thought for sure he’d never let go of.  So it’s a case of sorting and selling where possible, thrift store delivery where it doesn’t sell (and no one we know wants it) and trash for everything else.  We’re working on a very open floor plan, with a rather astounding arrangement: our bedroom will be one end/corner of the living room, with my desk next to my side of the bed and his desk at the foot of the bed.  Bed and desks are all about the same height, so it will all be smooth and open from about hip high and up.  We will be able to see each other across the (uncrowded) room every enchanted day.  The bedroom will hold all the shite until we get it sorted and out, then it will become our “living room”–perhaps parlor is the better word.  There will be seating and a low table, a place for people to gather and conversate.  So to speak.

We have a piece of high quality plywood that is large enough for a twin (long) bed which we will buy a mattress for and using 2 by 12’s, create a day bed/meditation platform/guest bed in that room as well.  Our clothes will come out of the closet in there, which we can promptly fill with whatever needs storing but not necessarily immediate access, and put furniture in front of the doors.  Most of our clothes can be folded and put into plastic totes that will fit on the shelves in the “linen closet” that’s out in the main room–the shelves are fairly deep, so we can use decent size totes.  The few things I have that I want to keep on hangers can either be at one end of the bedroom closet, or one end of the *other* closet that’s also out in the living room.  In a way, we are trying to live in this apartment like it’s an RV.

The kitchen is also getting some serious overhauling.  The wonderful cabinet that Beloved had put together from bits and pieces that we owned will be going, because it takes up about 40% of the kitchen floor space.  We are trading our large microwave to his mother for her smaller one.  We only reheat in it and the large one is a waste of space.  We’re talking about some sort of wire basket/shelf arrangement on that wall (the only open one, opposite all of the cabinets/sink, etc) with a rolling work cart (he found one at IKEA that has a built in trash can shelf and a butcher block top, which makes it additional work space/counter space).  I have an empty cabinet because my daughter has taken our dish set as well as the utensils that go with it.  I love them–black and square, wanted them for years and was highly amused to discover those are the ones that Beloved had also yearned for.  We got them, but…reality of my disability is that they are too heavy for me to handle.  The dinner plates are too big to do proper portion control anyways.  The utensils were also a jointed lust, but again, large and heavy.  I’m very glad for the Lizard to have them–she can get rid of the “crap dishes” they had been using and I can visit them whenever I want.  So Beloved and I are using our titanium sporks, chopsticks–or I am using these teeny tiny spoons that are actually appetizer serving pieces–the bowl holds about 1/4 tsp–as a way to slow down my eating and help me lose weight by not over-eating.  I also have a varied selection of forks and spoons from thrift store, but figure I will find a small (16 piece) set of utensils to use for when we have guests over.  Probably something light and fun, like plastic purple handles…

I will have to really sort my kitchen stuff with an iron will and a complete lack of sentimentality, keep the stuff we are going to USE, really use.  And get rid of everything else, no matter how cute it is.  Of course, that’s true for a great deal of what we’ll be going through.  We must be brave!  But when you’ve really thought you were only going to be able to keep what would fit in a PT Cruiser (and two of you, which cuts down on personal packing space)… it is easier to be brave.  We may have to go through a weeding process several times to really get it down to manageable levels–which is to say, things in the closets but you don’t have to move 14 boxes to get something out and nothing out that does not serve an immediate, almost daily purpose.  I will have a few knick-knacks, but nothing like I did 20 years ago, when I had a whole 2000 square foot house to keep them in.  Less to keep track of, less to dust, less to have to care for–more freedom for other things.

Other things includes National Novel Writing Month, or as it’s known, “NaNoWriMo”–50k words in 30 days.  I am a bit behind, but figure I can catch up without too much trouble as long as I don’t let too many days pass without putting something down on paper (metaphorically speaking).  I have almost 6000 words already.  Beloved is also participating and I suspect has more words down than I do.  But this isn’t about who wins, it’s just being able to do it.  We wanted to do it two years ago and never got anywhere with it, and of course were too sick last year to even think about it.  Now we have nothing but time, so it should be a do-able task.  Just depends on how our focus is doing that day.

It’s good to have a solid source of income again, even if it fails to meet all of the bills–it will first and foremost pay the rent.  Everything else will get paid more or less as we can–some this month, some next and then switch off again.  And thank the gods for food stamps, which will cover most of our eating costs.  I still have to pay for things like paper towels and tp, but it’s a huge relief to know that we will have something to eat.  We are also trying to see if we can get Long Term Disability for Beloved since he paid for it, not his employer and it shouldn’t have the same riders (where “work stress” is not covered) and if they will approve him for that…well, life would look pretty good for us, as we wait for word from Social Security about our permanent disability status.  It would be nice to have enough money coming in to pay all our own bills again.

We’re now dealing with an interesting phenomenon–the relief of stress, the reduction of anxiety, causes some of the exact problems that stress and anxiety themselves cause.  Your body gets so used to running on the adrenaline high that when the adrenaline is not there, your body isn’t quite sure what to do.  We’re taking echinacea and lots of extra Vitamin C to avoid getting ill as our bodies flush out the toxins from stress/anxiety.  I’m hoping it will work, because it seems stupid that once everything is going well, you get sick as a dog and have to take to the bed for a couple of days, only getting up to (excuse me) shit your brains out.  Oh well, it’s not like we’d miss work.  We can’t call out!

So things are settling down and settling in for us–or at least it seems so.  We’re still in a bit of a holding pattern for the decision on SSDI, which keeps us from being completely comfortable–especially as Beloved has figured out that if we’re not approved by April (or at least, if he’s not), we are seriously screwed because there’s no money (this without his LTD, which I’m not sure he’s factored in or not).  What are people supposed to do while they wait for the bureaucrats to shuffle the papers around and make decisions about their lives?  You can’t work if you’re applying for permanent disability–because if you could work, you wouldn’t need it.  So even though both of us have been terminated, we cannot get money from unemployment–because we’d have to be actively seeking employment and we can’t do that and even hope for SSDI.  We can go homeless, starve and lose everything…hard to think about, but really, a true and distinct possibility if these decisions aren’t made in a timely manner–like within the next 3-6 months–not in the next 3-5 years.

We’re doing okay for the place we’re at and hoping that everything else will fall into the place it’s supposed to be as these things have.  So that’s where we are, and I’m going to stop here because my hands are beginning to hurt from the typing.  And it’s 2 am, about time to go to bed.  Got to get up in the morning and go vote!