Monday, September 15, 2014


I miss working as a physician. Not just because of the money, either. I miss interacting with patients, consulting with colleagues, and just getting stuff done. Now that I can’t work outside the home, I particularly enjoy the days when I feel well so that I can get things done at home. Cleaning the kitchen or vacuuming the floor makes me feel incredibly accomplished!

People were made to work! God gave Adam and Eve the job of taking care of the Garden of Eden. It was sin that made working difficult and painful.

People want to work. People on disability want to work. It’s only a very tiny percentage of people who are trying to bilk the government out of money by being lazy and watching TV all day. Most of us (disabled or not) like the feeling of satisfaction you get from doing a good day’s worth of work. Some people don’t like the job they have to do to pay the bills, but they have manage to find their work fulfillment in other ways – through hobbies or ministries.

For the last two and a half weeks, I have been trying to run our yarn shop by myself until our new employee (team member, sales associate, ????) could start. Can I just say that tomorrow is not a moment too soon?!!!!! I have a deep sense of fulfillment from the last two weeks of working, but it’s clear why I’m on disability. I managed to keep the shop open all but two days, but there were several days that I was only able to take care of customers. When the headaches didn’t get me, the muscle pain and fatigue did. Yikes! Not only that, running a yarn shop requires much more than just assisting customers. I figured out how to deposit money, but PWM is still managing the books for the most part. My meds make my head a little too fuzzy to trust to do that regularly.

As of tomorrow, I am the Yarn Diva, but I’m not trying to be a full-time yarn store manager, for which I’m most grateful. Last week, I did some training with our new employee, so she can get going with helping customers immediately. The plan is for her to be able to manage pretty much everything in the shop so that if I have a week-long migraine, things can go along merrily without me. Although I would hope that someone might miss me eventually.

Here’s hoping for a good first week for our new team member!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday–9/12/2014


1. It has been raining for two days around here, so today I went to Fleet Farm and got the light bulbs I needed and have been making sure that we have light bulbs in every light fixture so I can turn every light in the house on in the middle of the day!! I will not be depressed because of darkness!! (Yes, I do take my Vitamin D! Why do you ask?)

2014-09-12 22.37.55

2. So, my body has decided to pull a new trick on me. I am having a recurrent episode of pain and swelling in my right lower leg. The first time it happened, I thought it was superficial thrombophlebitis, which means inflamed blood clot in the superficial veins. Which is painful but not dangerous. But, since my father-in-law died of a pulmonary embolism (blood clot to the lungs which often starts in the deep veins of the legs) and my mother is an ICU nurse, I went to the doctor and had an ultrasound done. Which was negative. That was two weeks ago. The problem came back two days ago and I saw my doctor today who ordered an XRay which was normal so I’m getting an MRI next week sometime. Deep breath. I don’t have a blood clot. Yay.  (BTW, Aren’t the paper shorts they gave me for my leg XRay just adorable???)

2014-09-12 16.13.28

3. Wild Man was telling us last night about working on an American History timeline in American Literature and reading about Europeans giving Native Americans smallpox. I said, “Well, the native Americans probably gave the Europeans syphilis.” PWM said, “Yeah, real fair trade.” Wild Man said, “European and Native Americans never had fair trade!” Then stopped and said, “Boom! See, I do remember my American History!!” Yes, we’ve managed to raise a somewhat educated child.

4. Sophie, Rosie Girl’s cat, is lonely. She always gets a bit lonely when Rosie Girl goes back to school, but this time it’s worse. Not only did Rosie Girl go back to UWSP, but now PWM is teaching, so he’s gone all day every day and Wild Man is in school, so he’s gone all day every day. It’s just me and Sophie, and if it’s busy in the shop or if I have a migraine, poor Sophie is all alone.

5. To try to help Sophie entertain herself, I got her this cool little tube that has crinkly plastic inside which Sophie should love since she keeps trying to eat plastic. So far, her response has been “meh”.

2014-09-12 22.25.45

6. I hired an employee last week! Ack! That feels so . . . . grown-up. Yes, I know I’m 47 and that I’m well past grown-up, but there’s still a part of me that doesn’t believe it. But, with PWM working now, I can’t run the shop on my own, so I hired a wonderful woman who is a great knitter to work 24 hours a week so we won’t have to close when I have a migraine. Not only that, but she has great ideas and seems organized and able to implement them. I’m excited!

7. One of the downsides to sending Wild Man to school is that I don’t get to see him very often. He’s working two jobs, going to school, in band and choir, in a community choir, and a church worship leader. He was finally home for a few hours last night without homework to do, so he agreed to play Yahtzee with me. I lost terribly, but I didn’t care.

What’s going on with you??  Check out 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary to see what others are up to these days!!

What’s Been Going On?

Where have I been for the month? How could I have neglected my poor blog so badly? This time, it has not been migraines! We have had a full-blown turn-our-lives-upside-down couple of weeks!! Let me explain.

As I’ve previously written, we decided to send Wild Man to the local high school this year. We live in a small town of about 2000 people, so the school is also small. About three weeks ago now, the school superintendent came over and met with PWM and asked if he would please come and teach math for at least a semester because their new math teacher for this year had just quit (they have three high school math teachers). PWM had an initial educator’s license about 5 years ago, but his only classroom experience besides his education classes was a long-term sub position. Otherwise, he’s been a math tutor. So, we talked and prayed about it. And PWM said yes. With classes starting the next week.

As of two weeks ago, Wild Man and PWM are up early every morning to go to the high school. PWM is teaching precalculus, AP calculus, 6th grade study skills, and a middle school remedial math program. It’s been a rough three weeks with very little sleep, lots of administrative work, lesson planning, and math review of his own, but it looks like it’s going to work out. PWM is a naturally good teacher and he loves kids of all ages. If he’s going to work full-time at something, this is where it should be. I really think he can make a difference in kids’ lives.

There are some tangible benefits to his teaching, too. He gets paid. Yay! But, he also gets medical, dental, and vision insurance. We’ve had medical insurance, but the dental and vision insurance is new since I quit work. I’m thrilled about that!

There are some other challenges. I can’t take care of the shop on my own. The last three weeks have been just crazy. I’ve only had one day that I had to close because of a migraine, but I’ve had several others in which I just didn’t feel well. And I closed early for a doctor’s appointment. We hired an employee for 24 hours per week, which will keep the shop running when PWM’s not here. Actually, I’m quite optimistic about the woman we hired. She’s a knitter and seems to be a hard worker with great ideas. She starts on Tuesday!!

Wild Man is not thrilled about school, but he is doing pretty well. He is keeping up with his homework, but the homework is what is making school unpleasant for him. He reads and works slowly because of his dyslexia, so he tends to take longer than most other students on his assignments. That being said, he seems to understand and do his work well so far.

Wild Man is also in a singing group in the Fox Valley that is made up of adults but also invites select students from area schools to participate. They had their “retreat” last Sunday and will practice for the next several weeks before their concert.

Of course, Wild Man is working and in band and choir. The one thing I don’t like about his being in school is that he’s gone so much. Last night he was home for a couple of hours after work and before bed, so he agreed to play Yahtzee with me. I lost terribly, but I didn’t care. I was glad to spend time with my son. That’s one of the things I miss about homeschooling.

Things will start calming down soon, I’m sure. PWM is catching up on sleep and lesson planning as well as getting more comfortable in his classroom and with his kids. Wild Man is figuring out the whole school thing. Our new employee starts next week (freeing me up tremendously). We’ll all be able to catch our breaths again. I hope.

So, what’s going on in your world?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lagniappe–August 17, 2014


It’s been a busy week around here. I never even got around to doing my 7 Quick Takes Friday. Well, I guess today’s Lagniappe will have to do. (I also have a movie reviews post in the wings, but it will be another day or two before it gets done.)

1. Monday through Friday were low-headache days!! Yay! The weather was calm and so was my head. I totally loved it.

2. Wild Man had a dental appointment on Monday and was found to have 6 cavities. Yep, 6!! Apparently, they’re from drinking so much soda. We’ve really loosened up our lifestyle over the summer, so we’re tightening things back up and keeping a closer eye on Wild Man’s diet and tooth brushing.

3. Wild Man told me when we got home, “Don’t make a big deal about the six cavities to Dad.” So, when PWM came up from the basement, I said, “I’m not supposed to make a big deal to you about the fact that Wild Man has six cavities.” PWM said, “Really. OK, I’ll make the big deal, then.”

4. I had two cavities filled on Tuesday. I love my dentist. He made sure to numb up the whole lower side of my face so I didn’t feel a thing. I couldn’t eat for several hours, but it was completely worth it.

5. On Wednesday, I did a cooking-palooza! We get veggies from a CSA, but it’s sometime hard to eat all of them if I don’t feel like cooking (which I haven’t lately). So, on Wednesday, I cooked. I made Roasted Onion and Garlic soup with a bunch of the onions and garlic. I made Beet Brownies with two pureed beets, although they did not cook as quickly as I’m used to beets cooking, so there were some little bits of beets in the brownies. We couldn’t taste them, though. I used a very large zucchini to make Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread which froze very well.  While I was at it, I also made some French Bread in the bread machine, which was my first time using the bread machine. And, before I was done, I made sure to clean up the kitchen. Yippee!!

6. Yes, I did start getting a migraine on Saturday, but it wasn’t terrible. The bad thing was that I had insomnia and the headache last night so I didn’t get out of bed today until noon, but my headache is still there. I should have just gotten out of bed.

7. While I have a migraine, I have decided to rearrange the living room. Great timing, huh? Actually, I have developed the plan, that we’ll carry out when the migraine is better. I want to do it while I still have the kids to help.

How has your week been? Do you have anything of great depth or insight to share? No? How about a cat story?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Normal Day!

So, what did I do today? Well, I didn’t have a migraine (at least as of now – 7:41pm). I got up at about 8am. I spent some time on the computer, did some reading. I had breakfast. It was a slow morning. Let’s call it leisurely.

At about noon, I started my cooking odyssey. We’ve gotten a lot of veggies from our CSA, but haven’t had a lot of time to cook them, so we needed to do something to use some of them up. I made Roasted Onion-Garlic soup, Beet Brownies (brownies with pureed beets hidden in the batter), French Bread (in the bread maker), Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, and Meatballs. And then I cleaned up.

Sounds like a normal day, right? Not for me. I’m lucky to be able to cook dinner most days. Well, I don’t cook dinner most days. By late afternoon, I’m either too tired or too headache-y to do much. The crock pot is my friend.

What was different about today? I have no idea. But, I’ll take it. This may be my one good day for the next couple of weeks or the next month. That’s OK.

I was normal. Even if just for one day.

Thank you, Jesus, for normal.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams, Suicide, Depression, and Migraines

Yesterday, we lost an amazing actor and comedian and, by all accounts, a wonderful man. He had an often fatal disease called depression. And one of the worst complications of depression is suicide.

I have depression. Thank God, I’ve never been suicidal. I can’t attribute that to anything I’ve done. It is purely that the course of my illness has never been that severe. But, I’ve had days where it took every bit of energy to get out of bed. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have darkness so bad that you are willing to end your life.

One of the worst things about depression is how it takes over my life when it flares up. Everything becomes about how bad I feel. Instead of thinking about how great it would be to take a walk with a friend, my brain tells me how tired and miserable I am and how a walk would be a terrible idea. Every fun thing in the world seems like more work than it’s worth.

People sometimes say that suicide is selfish, that a person who commits suicide is thinking only of themselves. Well, they are. But, that’s the illness. A person with depression can’t imagine that anyone else would want them around anymore. When I’m down in the black hole of depression, I don’t feel loved and wanted, no matter what people say. Depression is more than sadness. The illness consumes me. And I’ve never even been sick enough to consider suicide. It must be a million times worse for someone who will take their own life.

Migraines and chronic pain are the same way. I don’t want to be a hermit when I have a migraine, but I am. Pain takes over every part of my being. And it’s usually accompanied by nausea, sound sensitivity, and other symptoms. Even when it’s just head pain, it still takes over my consciousness and doesn’t allow me to function. That’s part of how pain works. When the body works properly, pain is supposed to tell you that something is wrong so you can fix it. In chronic pain, the signals are not working correctly, so you get all discombobulated. Pain demands to be heard. All. The. Time.

Some Christians are hesitant to use medications for depression because they think depression is just a bad bout of sadness or it is purely “spiritual”. Sometimes, sadness is normal and just needs some time, particularly if it is a normal grief reaction after a death or significant social or emotional change.

But, true depression is a physical illness caused by messed up neurotransmitters in certain parts of the brain. Sometimes, depression is part of other illnesses, like bipolar illness or schizophrenia. In any case, medical intervention is necessary. In mild cases, counseling alone may be effective, but in more serious cases, medications along with counseling and lifestyle changes will be needed.

But, is God really OK with us using medications to treat mood disorders? I sure hope God’s OK with me using medications to treat my headaches! And my mood disorder (depression) goes right along with the headaches. In fact depression is a “tag-along” illness with many diseases, including migraine, fibromyalgia, and even things like after open heart surgery. God gave us the ability to diagnose and treat lots of illnesses, including illnesses of the brain. I assume he wants us to use these abilities!

Where does God fit into the depression thing, though? I believe God does want us to feel better. I’m sure that he sometimes supernaturally heals people, but most of the time, he works through the laws of nature. We get better through medications and counseling. Depression is treated by medical professionals like diabetes or hypertension.

In my walk with Jesus, I know that my depression affects my spiritual life, just like it affects the rest of my life. When I’m really depressed it’s hard to pray. But, it’s also hard to talk to my husband and kids. I have found, though, that there are certain passages of the Bible that are particularly helpful for me to read and meditate on when my mood is low. My prayer and meditation time are very important to me as part of my depression treatment. Worshiping Jesus is part of my life. I know that he wants me to be emotionally healthy, so I try to keep to practices that I know are good for me.

And, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t tell you that if you are depressed, you don’t have to live this way! Get help! Tell a friend, call a help line, go to an Emergency Department! Suicide is not the answer, but neither is feeling rotten all the time. Medications can really help you feel much better and live a better life. And check out your local church. Jesus wants to help you, too.

What are your thoughts?


R.I.P.. Robin Williams

Friday, August 08, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday–August 8, 2014


1. We took family pictures on Wednesday!! For the first time in at least 8 years! We kept putting off scheduling them because of my headaches, but we finally just put the date on the calendar and hoped for the best. Yes, I was on Maxalt when we took them, but the two that the photographer put on Facebook so far look really great!

2. Rosie Girl left home yesterday afternoon with her usual light brown hair. When she comes home tonight after spending the night at a friend’s house (and going to the tap dance festival in Stevens Point), she’ll have orange-ish red hair. Yep, they’re doing henna! I guess it will calm down to red over the course of a week or so. I can’t wait to see it.

3. I’ve been freaking out a bit about the whole school supplies thing. I’ve never had to buy stuff for a kid to go to public school before. Does he need notebooks or binders? Folders? How many pencils or pens? Guess what? They put that info on the school website, even for juniors in high school!! My stress level is way down.

4. My headache level is NOT down, however. Bummer. I had a long migraine last week that I think was triggered by a dental cleaning. Next week, I have to have a cavity redone. I’m making Wild Man drive me so I can take my muscle relaxers beforehand. I don’t have much to blame this week’s headaches on, though.

5. My counselor has encouraged me to do one thing I enjoy every day to help with my depression. Yesterday, I had a milkshake and then drove home the back way which is more wooded and less commercial and, mostly, less familiar. Central Wisconsin is gorgeous in the summer!!

6. Wild Man now has three jobs! He started as a cook’s assistant at a local restaurant. Right now, he only works once a week or so. And, on busy nights, he just washes dishes. But, it will be good for him when school starts and his job and the laundromat finishes, but he still needs gas money!

7. I finally got Something Other than God from the library!! Yes, I know I’ll be the last one of this blog’s readers to read the book, but, better late than never, right? Winking smile

So, what’s up with you these days? Check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes Friday!!!

To Survive or To Thrive


John 10:10 “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” NIV

John 10:10 “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” KJV

I’ve been feeling like I’m just surviving these days. Even now that the depression is starting to lift, I’m still just “getting by” most days. I read a blog post (but I can’t remember where – sorry) about thriving as Christians. It was really inspiring, but when I finished reading, I just thought about how sad and depressing my life is.

Jesus was very clear that He came not just to save our souls, but give us “abundant life” and to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. I don’t think he intended for any of us to mope around here waiting for the day of our death. Our life is important, if for no other reason than to be part of God’s kingdom here on earth.

Paul wrote in Philippians about how he didn’t know whether he’d rather be in heaven or earth, but then concluded that he could be joyful and content in any circumstances here on earth because of faith in Christ.

So, yeah. I’m having a hard time with that right now. Chronic pain takes over everything in my life, it feels like. What I can do each day is determined by how much my head hurts and how bad the nausea and other symptoms are.

I know that some days, all I can do is survive. I’m not able to do much more. But, overall, I’d like to thrive. I’d like to feel like I’m making an impact in this world, even if it’s small. Maybe just getting up and getting dressed is enough. Maybe working in the shop once or twice a week. Maybe occasionally blogging.

What do you think? How do you do more than get from one day to another?

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Is God Angry with Liberia?

It appears that some of the clergy in Liberia think so. I disagree. At least as far as God is angry with anyone. The clergy who made this statement believe that God is angry with Liberia for the sin that the those in the country have committed and allowed to be committed, so God is permitting the Ebola virus “plague” to spread throughout the country.

God can certainly judge cities and nations as He did in the Old Testament. He is, after all, God. But, in the Old Testament, He made it very clear to a city or country that He was judging them before He wiped them out or allowed them to be conquered (i.e. Sodom and Gomorrah). In more recent times, natural disasters haven’t been accompanied by clear warnings or words from God. And this Ebola catastrophe doesn’t appear to be an obvious judgment since it covers multiple countries and is affecting people of all ages, races, occupations, etc.

A few years ago, a tsunami occurred that was devastating to Indonesia and other countries.  Was this God’s anger for something that Indonesia did? In the 19th century, the volcano Krakatoa erupted and killed many people. What about the Lisbon earthquake? And we can’t forget the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

We live in a world that God created with these natural forces that sometimes cause upheaval for the humans that He also created. Ebola virus lives naturally in fruit bats without too much fuss. Every once in a while, it will get into a human and cause a small epidemic. But, now that humans don’t always live in villages, Ebola is able to spread farther and cause more havoc.

Why does God allow these things to happen to us? I ask that a lot. Why does God allow me to have chronic pain? If God is so good, why do natural disasters happen? Why is there cancer? Why can’t we all live to a ripe old age and die quietly in our sleep? (Of course, if that was the case, my medical career would never have been needed.)

I have no idea. And the Bible is not clear. The book of Job is a whole book asking this question with a couple of chapters with God answering “Because I’m God”. Jesus talks about the rain falling on the just and the unjust. God is God. And He’s big enough that we don’t always understand Him.

The question of a good God allowing bad and evil is the one thing that shakes my faith sometimes. I don’t understand why God allows what He allows. But, if I could understand Him, would He be God? No. God is bigger than I am. In every way. And, in my experience, obeying God and walking with Jesus has worked out, so I’m sticking with Him.

No, I don’t think God is angry with Liberia. I believe Liberia is experiencing a natural disaster which is pretty miserable. I agree with the three days of prayer and fasting. I believe that God answers prayer. And the rest of us should also pray for Liberia and the rest of Africa affected by Ebola.

What are your thoughts?

Friday, July 25, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday–July 25, 2014


2 Fridays in a row? Is that possible? I believe it is. Here we go!

1. It’s been a headache-y week for me, mostly because of the weather. I’m also fighting a cold that my darling daughter gave me. In any case, I’m having to work a little harder today to keep my mood from slipping. Here’s hoping tomorrow is a little easier on the head.

2. Tonight, we watched “Ragamuffin”, a movie based on the life of Rich Mullins. (Rich Mullins was a Christian musician who was killed in a car crash about 15 years ago. If you’re not familiar with him, look him up and listen to some of his music. It’s wonderful!!) The movie was very good, centering on a couple of main themes that permeated his life. Of course, the music was excellent. It’s on Charter On Demand right now for those of you who have Charter Cable.

3. There are advantages to having teenagers who have driver’s licenses. Wild Man went out tonight, so he stopped by the pharmacy to pick up my medications on his way. 

4. The kids went to Appleton today and Wild Man bought a djembe, which is a hand drum. He’s borrowed hand drums from church several times in the last year, so having his own will be convenient. My hopes of having a quiet house are slowly being dashed.

2014-07-25 16.03.10

5. We are down to just one cat, but she is trying her best to require the maintenance of three cats. She does not like to poop in a less-than-pristine cat box. We still keep three cat boxes, but once she uses one two or three times, she start to poop on the floor near the boxes. So, in an attempt to properly serve our cats, we are trying to clean the boxes every day. All hail, Queen Sophie!!

6. My daughter’s friend got me the cutest book from Goodwill the other day called Knit Your Own Cat. Yes, it’s a book about how to knit a stuffed animal cat that looks rather realistic. I wonder if knitting a cat from that book and adding catnip to the stuffing would be funny or cruel to Sophie. Or both!

7. As I’m thinking about Wild Man starting school in a month, I realize I know nothing about the whole school thing. I think I’m going to email another mom to ask how I know what kind of notebooks, etc. he needs. I’m being paranoid, I realize. But, what kid doesn’t need a psychotic mother stressing over his backpack, what to about lunch, and whether he’ll be able to take notes?!

7 Quick Takes this week is being hosted over at Svellerella, so check it out!! What have you been up to?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Reviews–July 23, 2014

It’s the middle of the day, so I have some time to review books. Since my last book reviews, I feel like I’ve started, but not finished a lot of books. There have just been a number of books that I couldn’t get interested in within 100 or so pages, so I stopped. I think that’s why I rate all the books I finish with As or Bs. If it was just a C or lower, I likely stopped before I got to the end.

Dallas, 1963 by Bill Minutaglio. (audio) This is another book about the Kennedy assassination, but this one focuses on the atmosphere in Dallas before the assassination. Many players are introduced and their motives exposed. The inner workings of the upper echelon of Dallas society are exposed and the rift between Dallas and the Kennedy administration are explored. It’s a fascinating book. A

The Spellmans Reunited by Lisa Lutz. I LOVE the Spellmans series of books. This family of private detectives is wonderfully dysfunctional, but in a loving way (if that’s possible). The reader, as usual, is dropped into the story in the middle of an impossible situation. As things play out, though, things work out. This book is a bit more serious with characters with significant illnesses and facing mortality. Actually, that’s one of it’s strengths. It’s also the last of the Spellman books, which makes me sad. It’s definitely worth a read. A+

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. The main character in this complex novel is a woman who is raised in 18th and 19th century Pennsylvania by her botanist parents. She becomes a botanist in her own right, specifically, a bryologist. However, she stays in the Northeastern US until her 40s, when she travels after a love affair. In the long run, she visits Tahiti and ends up living in the Netherlands and doing some significant writing and thinking. I loved this author’s writing style; the characters were deep and real; the plot was twisting and full of interest. Overall, a great book. A+

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead. This story of a ballerina in New York who leaves the ballet to marry her high school sweetheart, have a son, and move to the suburbs in California. But there’s so much more. It’s a story about the ballet, love, passion, honesty, and betrayal. And it’s a well-told story. A

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. A young orphaned Irish girl in the last 18th century in Virginia is brought into the house of a prosperous farmer as an indentured servant. She becomes an integral part of the slave society, but has to relearn a great deal when she grows up and becomes part of the well-to-do society. A good story about class, race, and the blurring of the lines even in plantation society. B+

Hidden Girl by Shiyma Hall. This autobiography is about a girl who was born in Egypt but sold into slavery by her parents. Her captors brought her to the US when she was 8 years old, and she was rescued by US social services a couple of years later. The book tells the story from her early life in Egypt to her adulthood in the US. Compelling. A

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta. Yes, I read this because of the HBO series, although I haven’t seen the HBO series. This is the story of a town trying to deal with the aftermath of a global “rapture-like event” in which apparently random people just disappear. The fact that those who disappear were not particularly religious or particularly good makes it different from the “Rapture” of pretrib evangelicalism – and very disorienting to the characters. The plot is basically a year or so in the life of different characters in this town, so it wasn’t a very strong plot with a definite climax. Otherwise, I thought it was a good read. There were lots of significant conflicts and things to think about. A good read. A

JesusLand: a memoir by Julia Scheeres. The author and her brother were raised in a strict Christian home (not particularly Evangelical from what I can tell, probably more Reformed) and were the youngest of a number of children. Actually, Julia was the youngest of the biological children and her brother was her age, but an adopted African-American. Their upbringing was strict and bordering on abusive for Julia and clearly abusive for her brother. When they were in 11th grade, they were both sent to Escuela Caribe, a Christian boarding school for “troubled teens” in the Dominican Republic, where they stayed until they were 18. The story is primarily of their time in this school, which was also emotionally and physically abusive. The memoir is well-written and interesting. A- (Note – There is a documentary out that I’ll be reviewing in an upcoming post called “Kidnapped for Christ” about Escuela Caribe which I found out about a month after I read this book.)

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. The disappearance (and, it turns out, death) of the oldest daughter in a family is the event that starts out this book about the seemingly well-adjusted family in a small city. In fact, the family is anything but stable. Underneath the shiny veneer, each family member has it’s own set of emotions and turmoil that can’t be disclosed or discussed with others. And when Lydia dies, they find out how little they really know about each other. This is an exquisitely written book about family dysfunction that I highly recommend. A+

Ruby: a novel by Cynthia Bond. I just don’t even know where to start in describing this book. The story is wound around Ruby, a black girl from East Texas who could pass for white, who grows up “in a white lady’s house” and then moves to New York as soon as she can only to come back to Texas when her cousin dies. But, her hometown in East Texas has gone on like nothing has changed  while Ruby has been gone. And, when Ruby gets back, she starts the acting crazy just like her mother did. But, is she crazy or is it the gris gris from all those years ago? The story is told in bits and pieces, fits and starts, but it eventually pulls itself together into a coherent whole. It’s about black and white, North and South, mental illness and magic, power and seduction. And it’s worth reading. A

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerwin. (audio) OK, everyone on the planet practically has seen at least part of the HBO series “Orange is the New Black”. I eventually watched part of one episode, but I decided that I really didn’t want to watch such graphic sex, so I gave up on it. But, from the little I watched, I could see it didn’t have that much resemblance to the book I read. This memoir of a young woman who committed a drug crime, got caught, and then had to wait 10 years to serve a 15 month (I think) sentence in a federal detention facility is well-written and very  thoughtful. What stood out to me were the scenes that humanized the women in the federal penal system. It’s so easy to think of them just “getting what they deserve” (and often they are), but they are also people who are trying to live life however they can behind bars. I was also very impressed by her observations about the effectiveness of our justice system. Many of those behind bars are apparently there because of minimum sentencing laws when more thoughtful sentencing might produce more restorative justice. In any case, it’s a good book that I highly recommend. A+

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout (audio) I had no idea what to expect from this book, but I found it worth listening to. This is a story about two brothers and a sister and the sister’s son. The sister’s son gets into some trouble when he throws a pig’s head into a local mosque which is complicated by the fact that the Muslims in town are almost all refugees from Somalia which makes the townspeople very nervous anyway. The brothers, both lawyers, come from New York, back to their hometown in Maine to help. From there, things get more complicated and all the family dysfunction starts to show.  By the end, things may not be rosy, but wounds are starting to heal. A

So, what have you been reading or listening to recently?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Post Was Supposed To Be Reviews

. . .  but, I never got around to writing them today, mostly because I had a bit of a migraine (which is a migraine that actually responds to medications) with the accompanying brain fog. So, what did I do? I surfed the internet, listened to a book, and knit. Which is just fine. But, no book reviews till another day. And since I haven’t reviewed books in several months, there are a lot to do. For my three or four faithful readers.

So, what has been going on? Well, my mood is better. I think just writing about my depression issues has been good. But, I’ve also been exercising (except for today because of the migraine). A friend texted yesterday and wanted to take a walk. I tried to beg off since it was a million degrees outside and I hadn’t had lunch or showered and it was 1:30 and Rosie Girl and I were supposed to go shopping at 4pm. My friend was persistent, though, so I had lunch (scrambled eggs with spinach, Triscuits, and grape juice – very healthy) and met her for a walk. And we walked for about 35 minutes. While it was like 89 degrees outside! I thought I moved up North to get away from crazy hot temperatures like that!! We tried to find the shadiest streets to walk on to make it a bit easier. But it was still hot.

And I’m eating better. At least better than I was at camp where there was too much junk food and too much soda easily available. See the aforementioned scrambled eggs and spinach. PWM cooked tilapia and onions with a side dish of fresh green beans tonight for dinner. Summer time is good for fresh veggies around here because we belong to a CSA. Every Monday we get a bag of fresh veggies and a box of eggs. Rosie Girl is going to make some Zuppa Toscana (a la The Olive Garden) now that we’ve got some kale. We haven’t gotten beets yet, or at least not many, but those are a good excuse for me to bake brownies. None of us are very fond of beets, but I bake them and puree them and put them in brownie batter.

My parents and my mother-in-law gave me money for my birthday, so Rosie Girl and I went shopping yesterday!! On our way to camp a couple of weeks ago, I had stopped at Kohl’s and picked up some blue jeans and tan jeans. I only tried on the blue ones (shame on me!), but the tan ones were the same size. When we got to camp, I found that the tan ones were almost two sizes too big! I had a migraine on the way home, so we didn’t stop to exchange them at the time. So, Rosie Girl and I started at Kohl’s so I could exchange my tan jeans. I also picked up a pair of black jeans (because my current ones are too big). I tried the black ones on!! I also found three cute tops.

Then, we went to Shopko to pick up some makeup. Rosie Girl actually picked out my eye makeup for me – 3 eyeliners and one package of 8 shades of eye shadow. I picked up some other stuff I needed. Rosie Girl is educating me on how to wear eye makeup properly instead of the haphazard “just get something on your eyes” method that I’ve been using since I was 13. And, then, since we love ice cream and it was a million degrees outside, we stopped at Dairy Queen before coming home. It was a lovely day!

It is supposed to cool off tomorrow which my head has been telling me in the form of a migraine. I’ve been fortunate that today’s migraine has been mild. I hope it’s also short-lived. Even though I spent far too much time surfing the net today, I did get a fair bit of knitting done. I finished knitting the neckline on my long-sleeved V-neck CustomFit sweater. Now all I need to do is to weave in the ends and it’s ready to display in the shop. I cast-on and started the back of Rosie Girl’s CustomFit sweater vest (which will be a shop model first).

But, right now, I need to get off the computer so I can read for a few minutes before bed. I’ve got a couple of short loan books that not only need to get back to the library, but are also really good. Now that I’ve got some quiet time, I’d better use it to my advantage and read!!

So, what’s up in your world?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Another Round on the Depression Train . . .

It’s happening again. I’m feeling the hands pulling me down into depression while I’m trying so hard to stay up into normalcy. This isn’t new. Depression is part of the whole “chronic illness” thing.

I get depressed because of how the chronic migraine illness has affected my life and how that makes me sad. But, I’m also depressed because chronic illness, especially chronic pain, affects the neurotransmitters in the brain. So, pretty much everyone with chronic illness ends up with depression and finds that life is better on anti-depressants.

This go-round with depression is because of a couple of things. First of all, we decreased the dose of one of my anti-depressants because my mood had been so stable. That was about three months ago. I really don’t want to have to increase that dose again because I’ve lost ten pounds and I had a little less fatigue immediately after the dose decrease.

Sending Wild Man to school is another obvious “loss” from the chronic migraines. There are lots and lots  of reasons the Wild Man is better off at school this year than being homeschooled, but I have an overwhelming (probably irrational) feeling that the migraines are THE reason we aren’t homeschooling anymore.

I’m feeling more and more angry about how the migraines have taken over my life. And I don’t see things changing anytime soon. I have an M.D. to put behind my name, but no way to use it right now. Even if the migraines went away today, I have too many cognitive side effects from my medications to try to do anything as mentally taxing as practicing medicine. I won’t be homeschooling Wild Man this year because it’s too hard to keep up with all my headaches.

I’m tired. I’m finding it hard to be happy. I’d sleep all day if I could.

But, being a planner, I have a plan. Get up every morning. Do yoga, even if just a little bit. Eat real food. Get a shower. Get dressed. Walk. Meditate. Read books. Knit. Go places with friends. See my counselor. (Of course, all plans are off when the headaches get above an 8.)

I just don’t know if I can do this plan. PWM is being so helpful. He’s making sure there’s plenty of healthy food that I actually like. He’s encouraging without being obnoxious.

Like all depressive phases, I’ll get through this one. If what I’ve planned so far doesn’t work, I’ll talk to my doctor about meds. And I’ve never been suicidal. Just wanted to sleep for days on end.

That’s the most optimistic that this post gets. I never truly despair because I’m walking with Jesus, but Jesus is pretty quiet right now. You could pray for me. That would be good. I would like this to be done with as quickly as possible. Which is why I’m going to try as hard as I can to get my butt on the treadmill tomorrow morning. God help me.

Friday, July 18, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday–July 18, 2014


Yes, I’m finally posting a 7 Quick Takes post again. And it’s only an hour until midnight! BTW, don’t hold your breath next week for another one next week; we’ll just have to see how things play out.

1. I have a smart phone!! Actually, the whole family how has smart phones. We had been overpaying for our phone service, so the overage gave us the money up front to pay for the phones (although I think the kids had to pay extra to get the newest phone). And since we had been overpaying all along, we’re now paying less than we were for coverage for all of us. I’ve migrated all of the stuff from my ipod to the phone. We got them right before camp which was great. One device to rule them all!! (But, I’m still learning to use all the toys!)

2. This summer has been really bad for migraines and headaches in general. I don’t know what to make of it. I know that the first few days after camp would be bad because I had too much soda and processed food at camp. Now that I’m home, I’m trying to eat better. I’m trying to exercise, but the headache is making that hard to do as well. I’m just in a bad cycle. Every day that I’m not too headache-y, I’m trying to exercise and eat well and not get too stressed out to try to stretch out the number of good days I can get.

3. I’ve loved having Rosie Girl home this summer. She’s been busy working, but she and Wild Man play video games when she’s home. She’s also suggested books for read-alouds in the evenings. Last night, a couple of Wild Man’s friends came over to play video games and watch a movie. When Rosie Girl got home from work, the whole group played some card games and then watched more movies and videos until Rosie Girl took them home. I like that my kids get along and that they have nice friends who like to hang out around here.

4. One of my headache issues right now is that I have strained my trapezius muscle. The upside is that I get neck massages from the hubby. The downside is that it is making the right side of my head hurt more than usual. I tried taking 1/2 a tizanidine tablet yesterday (2mg) which certainly helped with relaxation and pain, but it also made me take a 2 hour nap. So, I think I’ll try a 1mg tablet when I need it during the day. (Note. I usually use it at bedtime.)

5. Being 47 years old feels remarkable like being 46 years old.

6. Having received some money for my birthday, I’m planning on going clothes shopping! I’m not sure when, because Rosie Girl wants to join me, but sometime in the next week or two. (Wild Man and I stopped at Kohl’s on our way to camp for me to pick up some jeans. I also got a dress and a top. Wild Man was not happy because we had “only come for one pair of jeans.” I don’t think he’ll want to accompany me on my shopping trip!)

7. Rosie Girl went out busking today for a little while. She only made $1, but was happy with it. She played ocarina and tin whistle. But, while she was in town, she got guitar strings, so she can try again later next week with her guitar.

How was your week? Check our Conversion Diary to see what others are up to!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Family Camp 2014

Last week was our week away from home at Fort Wilderness. We had a great time, as always. This year, one of Rosie Girl’s friends came with us. She’s a real “horse person”, so she and Rosie Girl did lots of horseback riding. Since Rosie Girl only rides when she’s up at Fort, she was pretty sore for a couple of days. They also enjoyed plenty of gourmet coffee and card games in between horse rides.

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Wild Man indulged his need for competition in the archery and carpetball tournaments. He won first place for his age group in archery and third place in carpetball! And, of course, enjoyed his prizes – treats from the canteen. He also really enjoyed the teen Bible study for the week. It was taught by a young man who is in seminary and is a totally theology geek – but has a crazy afro and is psycho for coffee and tea. Wild Man just loves this guy’s passion. He taught about several men through church history who have followed Jesus in a big way and what happened in their lives. Some of them were Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, and Bonhoeffer (I probably missed some in there).

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I did a good bit of reading and some knitting. I’m working on a pair of socks that start on the sole of the foot. The pattern is in one of the more recent Interweave Knit magazines. Unfortunately, I had several days of bad migraine, so I missed going on Wrangler Breakfast with everyone else. Other than that, I don’t think I missed much. PWM did a good bit of archery and was in the tournament, but didn’t shoot as well as he would have liked this year.

Grandma (PWM’s mom) joined us again this year. She loves to make campfires, so we had a fire most nights except for the ones when it rained. She made some homemade firestarter (using wax and woodshavings from PWMs workshop) which got things going more easily this year.  Rosie Girl also taught her friend and Grandma how to spin wool with a drop spindle on one of the rainy days. Rosie Girl has gotten quite adept at spinning and Grandma and M were making quite a go of it.

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I made a new friend this year, one that I really hope not to see again. He was hopping up my leg when I met him. In fact, he was hopping up toward an inappropriate area and I finally had to pick him up because he didn’t respond to my verbal commands to leave me alone. “NO means NO, Froggy!!” So, I deposited him back in the woods with a strong admonition to leave human females alone and find himself a girl froggy to hang out with. I didn’t see him the rest of the week, so I assume he decided that trans-species romance was out of the question for him.

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We had a great week. If you are looking for a fun way to spend a week with your family, I highly recommend Fort Wildnerness! It’s fun in a Christian environment for the whole family in the beauty of God’s Northwoods!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Education Update–June 28, 2014

Big news around here. Wild Man is going to public school next year! Yep, as of the end of the summer, we are no longer a homeschooling family. (We’re technically homeschooling ‘til then because he needs to finish his Math and Biology credits.)

How did this happen? Wild Man asked about going to school in the spring which started us thinking that direction, but I was still pretty firmly set that homeschooling was the best option for everyone. As the spring semester wore on, though, Wild Man was spending lots and lots of time at school for Band and Choir class, but also for the spring musical and getting ready for solo and ensemble and Jazz Band. In fact, he was getting home in the late afternoon and having to do his homeschool work before bed. So, we started considering our options.

Wild Man is very involved in all of the performing arts activities at the local public school. Homeschooling has been very convenient in allowing him to work his academics around his performing arts and music ministry activities outside of the public school as well. We used to like homeschooling because it didn’t tie us to the school schedule, but we’re tied to the school schedule anyway because Wild Man takes Band and Choir at school.

Homeschooling has also been great for working with Wild Man’s dyslexia. When Wild Man was in middle school, we got to spend extra time on reading and language arts as he learned to read and learned to deal with his dyslexia. Now that he’s 16, Wild Man is compensating really well for his  dyslexia. In fact, this is a good time for him to start to interact with the educational system on his own. He took the ACT this  last spring with no preparation and got a 19, with his highest scores on Reading and English, so I think he’s ready to take on the high school.

I’m also ready for him to go to high school. I believe he would get a better education in many ways if we were still homeschooling, but between my migraines and his being so busy, his academics were becoming almost an afterthought. We had lost the joy of learning together and reading together because we were always trying to fit the Biology or Literature in by the end of the week.

PWM and Wild Man and I prayed a lot and thought a lot. We’ve been very fortunate that our school district allows him to participate almost fully in the music department while still being homeschooled. He’s gotten the best of both worlds for the last couple of years. Now it’s time for Wild Man to step completely into the public school world.

We went to the high school last week and got Wild Man all signed up for his new classes. He’ll be taking Jazz Band (before school), Band, Choir, Geometry, Chemistry, Wisconsin Studies/PE (each a semester), Web Design/Video Design (semester classes), English, Study Hall.

Pray for this new adventure for all of us!!  Pray that Wild Man will continue to be a leader in Band and Choir! Pray that his academics will continue to go as well at public school as they have gone at home! And pray that PWM and I will get used to our roles at parents of a public school student!

Have any of you made this transition? What is it like?

P. S. Don’t worry, we’re still going to read books together at night as a family. I don’t think you could actually stop us from doing that.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

If only I’d . . .

If only I’d exercise more, the migraines wouldn’t come, right?

If only I’d eat more veggies . . .  I’f only I’d eat more protein . . .

If only I’d  meditate more, be more mindful . . .

If only I’d sleep more . . . If only I’d sleep more

If only I’d journal more . . .

If only I were more disciplined and organized.

If only I’d take this herb or that herb or that mineral or start that program . . .

If only I went to this doctor or that chiropractor or that naturalist . . .

If only I didn’t live inside my head so much . . .

If only I saw my counselor more . .  .

If only it didn’t rain so much . . .

If only my ipod worked . . .

If only something would stop this pain . . . 

If only something would stop the voices in my head . . . Please, God.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In Honor of June Being Migraine and Headache Awareness Month . . .


. . . I decided to have a five day migraine. Yep. I thought that would be such a good idea. Because who doesn’t want to miss their son’s girlfriend’s graduation party? Yeah. That was Sunday afternoon. But, I hear that everyone had a wonderful time and the girlfriend is officially not a high schooler!!

But, Monday morning, the headache was still awful and I had no more options for treatment, so I had PWM take me to the clinic. I was given Demerol (not my drug of choice – it tends to make me kind of jittery) and Phenergan which made me feel much better and some Prednisone to keep this headache kicked out. By the time we got to the pharmacy, the injection site for the Demerol was itching, so I went inside to check it out, and, lo and behold, I had hives! They were gone in an hour, but it appears I’m also now allergic to Demerol.  So far, I’ve slept and knit since I’ve been home. The steroid-induced house-cleaning energy-surge has not yet shown up, but I slept till 5pm today, so I’m still awake at almost 1am. But, the migraine is gone. Hopefully, I can stay active enough to obliterate the calories that the steroids tend to make me crave.

June is officially Migraine and Headache Awareness Month as promoted by the National Headache Foundation. If you have been reading my blog, you’ll know that Migraine Disease is far more than a headache, but since it’s primary manifestation is headache, it is gets top billing for this group of illnesses. I’m generally not a fan of all the “awareness” campaigns, but I think this one is important. A lot of people out there have headaches that are debilitating and negatively impact their lives and don’t think that there’s any hope. They take some Excedrin or Advil and try to live with it. Or, if they can’t, they lose their job and struggle with all that entails.

What people need to know is that headaches that respond to Tylenol that go away after an hour or so are one thing, but headaches that occur more than four times a months and that impair your work and/or social life should be taken seriously. Medications and/or other treatment can give a person their life back. And taken too many medications can make things worse instead of better. Awareness is important because a visit to a doctor can help you decide if you need to pursue this with a medical professional. This is your life!! The headaches don’t always have to win!!!


Paste the purple ribbon on your FB page and tell your friends with headaches to talk to their medical providers. Life may not have to be as hard as it is. And, if a person has chronic migraine, there’s a lot of love and support out there. Nobody has to do it alone.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


As a response to the mass shooting at UC Santa Barbara yesterday, there has been a new Twitter hashtag/meme going around – #YesAllWomen. People (women, in particular) are sharing their thoughts about sexual harassment and why all women should be concerned about it.

I spent a while last night reading a bunch of the tweets and was appalled at how many women have been sexually harassed and assaulted and how their lives are still being impacted. (It’s amazing what you can say in 140 characters!)

As much as I can support this campaign, though, I don’t really “get” it personally. I think I’ve led a really charmed life. I’ve never been sexually abused. I’ve only been sexually harassed on my orthopedics rotation in medical school and I think that was kind of required. Sure, lots of patients were sexually inappropriate with me, but they weren’t in a position of power, so their comments were easy to let go. I spent ten years working as a family physician, but I was in a group that was not hierarchical and in which I was an equal with the other male and female partners. Even the larger medical group was very egalitarian. There were a number of women in the upper management levels and I never felt like any of us were treated differently than the men.

So, I’m the oddball, it seems. (Not that I’m complaining!) Because it’s not just the women on Twitter that have been sexually harassed and abused. I know many women of my own acquaintance to whom this has happened. I know that violence against women, on many levels, is real. I know that I’ve had to teach my daughter things that I’ve not had to teach my son – don’t leave your drink unattended at a party, keep your wits about you, be careful about walking on campus after dark. And PWM and I have been careful to teach our son to go against the grain and treat women well.

We desperately need a change in our culture and it’s important to work for it now. But, ultimately need to be like Jesus. Jesus loved women. He talked to women and taught women in a culture that was completely dismissive of women. Jesus sees women as more than equal with men. Jesus sees us as brothers and sisters in Him, not just filling a role in our family or in society. He sees us as HIS family members. It’s only when our culture gets this message that we’ll truly understand equality.

What do you think?

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Consider it pure joy . . . May 6, 2014

The apostle James was crazy. He wrote “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

That man has not been inside my head during a three-day migraine. Pure joy? Yeah, right.

Lest you think, though, that the last ten years of chronic migraine have been completely useless, I can tell you that I have learned some important things. The main one is my dependence on Jesus. Fifteen years ago, I could have convinced myself that I had my life together. I was a practicing physician with a good marriage and two adorable children. What more could I want? Now, I’m lucky to get through a day without a miserable headache.

But, this is a good place to be. I can’t pretend to be able to get through life on my own. Really, fifteen years ago, I was just as dependent on Jesus; I just had days or weeks that I would forget that and try to make do myself. Nowadays, before I even get out of bed, I’m reminded of how broken I am. It’s the physical brokenness that reminds me, but it’s the spiritual brokenness that’s so debilitating. And it would be there with or without the headaches.

We’re all broken before Jesus. That’s what it means to be human. We’ve all sinned and, even though we’re forgiven, that tendency to sin hasn’t gone away. And the sin from the rest of the world has broken us in other ways: emotionally and spiritually. My physical pain is just a reminder that I need Jesus every day.

Maybe I should “consider it pure joy” . . . .

Friday, May 02, 2014

Book Reviews–May 2, 2014

I don’t do reviews very often, so I’m going to do a lot today. Hold on tight!

The Cornbread Mafia by James Higdon – The story of marijuana growers in Kentucky in the 1980s and the law enforcement activities that finally made a significant dent in the “industry”. A

Bonnie and Clyde: The Lives Behind the Legend by Paul Schneider – (audio) Fascinating story about Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker and their crime spree across the southeastern US in the 1930s. I decided to listen to this after we watched the History Channel miniseries. Not surprisingly, the facts as written in the book were rather different than what was portrayed in the miniseries. Interesting book. A

Lethal Guardian by M. William Phelps – (audio) Another true crime book. This is the story of a highly dysfunctional family in which a child’s aunt plans and pays for the murders of the child’s step-father because the aunt is convinced that the step-father is engaged in child abuse despite the lack of evidence. The woman that planned and paid for the murder was a lawyer at the time. An intriguing story and well-written. A

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan – A story about mothers and daughters in the US and China in the early twentieth century, about abandonment and love, and about being reunited. A beautiful story and well worth reading. Definitely for adults since the setting is courtesan houses in China. A+

Sense and Sensibility by Joanne Trollope – This is a retelling of the Jane Austen classic of the same name, but set in modern day England. I enjoyed it, but can’t say it was particularly outstanding. B

Belle Cora by Phillip Margulies – This novel set in late 19th century New York and San Francisco tells the story of a woman who went from a strictly conservatively religious childhood to owning several brothels in San Francisco. It’s an enjoyable read, but not earth-shattering. A-

Murder In the Heartland by M. William Phelps – (audio) This true crime book tells the story of heinous crime: the murder of a young woman in late pregnancy with the delivery of her baby by crude C-section. The perpetrator then proceeded to pass the baby off as her own. The book tells the story of the investigation that found the baby quickly and got her appropriate medical care and back to her family. Fascinating. A

Hellhound On HIs Trail by Hampton Sides – (audio) This is the story of James Earl Ray, the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr., although we don’t hear his true name until close to the end of the book since he used so many aliases. While most of the book focuses on Ray, there is a good bit about Dr. King and his movements in the months before his death. This is a well-written and quite interesting book with lots of information that was completely new to me. A+

Vanity Fair by Thackeray – (audio) This must be the fifth or sixth time I’ve listened to this audiobook. I read it in 9th grade and the whole thing went over my head. After I watched the movie with Reese Witherspoon in it, I decided to read it again, and I loved it. But, I get why my fourteen year old self couldn’t understand it. I highly recommend it, but it may take more than one exposure before you learn to love it. A+

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston – My mom recommended I read this non-fiction book. This is the story specifically about an outbreak of a viral disease in a monkey facility in Reston, Virginia that was determined to be Ebola virus (it was actually a new strain and was named Ebola Reston) and the purging of the facility and euthanizing of the monkeys. But, more generally, it is also the history of what we know about Ebola virus in general. The author’s tone about how vulnerable we are to Ebola and how we are always on the brink of human annihilation is a little wearing at times. Ebola hasn’t spread because of it’s high case-fatality rate. It kills so many of it’s victims that it can’t get established in the human population. That being said, recent outbreaks of Ebola in areas that are emerging out of the African jungle are worrisome. Still, the near-constant tone of doom and gloom is kind of hard to read. Otherwise, a very good book. A-

The Burglary by Betty Medsger – This wasn’t an easy read, but I’m glad I finished it. the book is the story of the burglary by anti-war activists of the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania in 1971. The perpetrators were never identified, but most of them allowed themselves to be identified in this book. The author of the book was one of the journalists to whom the burglars sent copies of the files that they had stolen from the FBI office. I also learned much about the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, and the shocking amount of spying on ordinary Americans that has gone on in the past and may even be continuing. A fascinating book. A+

Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson (audio) – I totally adore Joshilyn Jackson’s books. There hasn’t been one yet that I haven’t just devoured. Until this one. I am so sad to say this, but this wasn’t my absolute favorite book of the year. I loved the narration – she reads her own books. I just had a hard time getting into the book. But, I was kept interested enough to finish it, and I’m glad I did. The plot went somewhere completely unexpected and that made the whole thing worth it. So, it was a good book, but not her best. A-

A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination by Philip Shenon (audio) – This long book tells the behind the scenes story of the Warren Commission. Not only the author write about the commissioners, but he writes in more detail about the junior and senior lawyers for each team. I was surprised by how truly petty so many of the commission members (i.e. elected officials) could be and by how much a role politics played in who worked on the report. The “secret history” that the author learned was what the junior and senior lawyers never got the chance to put in the report and the leads that they never got to track down, particularly leads in Mexico City. Definitely worth reading. A

Daughters-In-Law: A Novel by Joanne Trollope (audio) – A family with three sons marries off their last son and has to come to grips with the fact that their sons’ lives no longer revolve around the parents. Daughter-in-law have to learn to live with a mother-in-law who has to learn that she’s not the only woman in her sons’ lives. A good read (listen). A

So, what have you been reading? Any recommendations??

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Updates–April 22, 2014

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks around here, and there’s more fun to come!

  • Silver, the cat who swallowed the thread, didn’t get any better (and actually got worse), so our friend who is a vet came over the day after he treated her conservatively and euthanized her.
  • Sassy, the cat who was sick and had lost so much weight, was also getting worse. The vet was going to take her in to the office the next morning, but before PWM could put her in the box that morning, Sassy got up and then fell over and died. The vet was surprised that she had passed so soon since he had seen her the night before.
  • So, now we’re down to one cat, Sophie. Sophie seems to be tolerating being an only cat quite well. She’s spending more time downstairs and requesting more affection. But, there’s a downside, too. We found her on top of the refrigerator twice on the first day after the other two cats died! She’s been better behaved since then.
  • I now have my hearing aids and I’m loving them. They have a setting that optimizes them for music, so the kids’ concerts sound even better! I also like that I can listen to audiobooks through my hearing aids wirelessly. I thought I would need a new ipod, but, sadly, my old one works quite well. LOL!
  • Wild Man spent five days last week in New York City with the high school band and choir and had a great time. He also got licked by a horse.
  • As summer approaches, both kids are looking for work. This is so different from the days when we were just looking at what kinds of summer sports and summer classes we could sign up for.
  • Rosie Girl put a piece of her composition in the Composer’s Concert at UWSP last week. I missed the concert because of a migraine, but PWM was impressed with all the pieces.
  • I did NOT have a migraine on Easter Sunday, so I went to church and cooked a nice dinner for the family. We even ate off of the good china. (Although the kids had said that we were going to eat off china even if we ended up having hamburgers because I had a migraine!)
  • And now it’s about 6 weeks till the end of the school year – less for Rosie Girl. In that time, there are still concerts, State Solo and Ensemble for Wild Man, and finals for Rosie Girl. In the meantime, PWM and I are still working hard at The Knitting Nest. Sigh.

So, what’s up with you?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My sick kitties

Two of our three kitties are very sick. And not with the same thing. Sassy and Silver are from the same litter and are thirteen years old. They’ve had good lives and have generally been healthy. Sassy gains and loses weight based on whether or not she’s the dominant cat at the food bowl. (If it was up to her, she’d always be the dominant cat and she’d be overweight!)

When we got home from our trip, we noticed that Sassy was kind of lethargic and acting funny. She’d sit for a half hour just staring at her water bowl. Finally, after a day or two, we realized that she’s lost a fair amount of weight – her vertebrae are palpable all the way through her hip bones. She doesn’t look boney because of all her long hair. I haven’t seen her go downstairs to eat and we haven’t had to fill the foodbowl as much, either. I did coax her to eat a little canned food yesterday and today. A friend who is a vet came by today and thinks she most likely has a chronic illness, but we’d have to do blood work to see. And then we’d have to decide what to do and how much, if any, intervention we’d be willing to pursue.

Silver (my cat – kind of) was fine until she threw up some thread that she had swallowed. But, she didn’t get it all up, so we cut it off at her mouth, hoping she’d swallow it and either vomit it up or get it through the rest of her GI tract safely. Unfortunately, things weren’t looking good last night. She growled when I tried to feel her tummy. She was definitely guarding and hiding in corners. We were prepared for her to have a surgical abdomen today. But, she seems to have improved. I guess the thread either hasn’t anchored or it has undone itself from anchoring and is moving through. We couldn’t get her in to any of the local vets, so a friend who is a vet came by and gave her some meds to try to get her bowels moving. So, here’s praying that she gets this foreign body out of her system. And that we find  the source of the thread in all of our cleaning. Because we have no idea where this cat found thread.

And Sophie is doing just fine if she’d stay off the table when there’s pizza on it! She can clearly sense that something’s going on and she hasn’t been attacking Silver and Sassy

What’s crazy is that Silver and Sassy are so sick at the same time, but with completely different things. What a coincidence!

Pray for my sweet kitties. And pray that PWM and I will know what to dol

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Too Much Fun!

Our plan this last week was to drive down to Mississippi, get some furniture from my parents’ shed that they’re clearing out, drive home, and be done. It was supposed to be pleasant, a little fun. It wasn’t supposed to be exciting. But it was. Too exciting for our taste. But, we’re home, safe and sound, with furniture.

We left Wisconsin Thursday morning at 7am, an hour later than expected because PWM decided to let us sleep an extra hour, figuring I’d drive be willing to drive later in the night if we decided we wanted to drive late into the night. We’re glad that we did. There was a dusting of snow on the ground when we got up, but the roads weren’t bad when we left. We found out later, though, that the roads had been icy at 6am and an acquaintance of ours had rolled his car that morning. We were glad to skip that.

We got past St. Louis and had hoped to drive further, but the weather was very stormy. The first place that we pulled off looked a bit sketchy, so PWM decided to go on to the next exit. The next place was better, which was good because the storm was so bad that he really couldn’t see to drive anymore. When we stopped under the awning of the hotel, we were told that we might want to come in the lobby even if we didn’t stay the night because the area was under a tornado warning. So, we checked in there for the night and stayed well away from the window in our room. Had we gone one more exit, we probably would have run right into the tornados in Cape Girardeau. We ended up having PopTarts for dinner. Better than running into a tornado!

We planned to get up and out early the next am. But, at 3am, the smoke alarm went off, so we were all very awake. (Apparently, someone decided to smoke in their room.) Well, we decided to get going at 4am. Yay. It turned out to be a good choice.

Around 10am (on Friday, BTW), the Trooper (our vehicle) started running poorly. We were (naively) hoping it was just some bad gas, but were afraid that it wasn’t. And things weren’t getting better, although they weren’t getting worse. We called ahead to my parents who got the name of a good mechanic from my aunt, and then PWM called to see if they could look at the Trooper when we got in to McComb. Since we had been driving since 4 in the blessed am, we would be getting in to McComb before 3pm, so it worked out to have them look at the Trooper. In fact, while I was napping at my aunt’s house late in the afternoon, the mechanic found the part he needed (the only one in Pike County) and replaced it for a reasonable price all that afternoon. Talk about a miracle!

During my Friday nap, PWM and my dad consulted on whether we could get the furniture into a trailer to pull behind the Trooper or whether we’d need a truck. They decided on a truck and found one about an hour’s drive away that they could pick up Saturday morning. Also Friday, my parents took care of some business that they thought would take several more months to wrap up. Overall, we were pleased.

Saturday was packing day. And, it was the reason for having Wild Man along! (Besides, he’s cute!) PWM and Wild Man packed up a living room’s worth of furniture that my parents used to have in their trailer that they gave me along with my aunt’s china cabinet and my grandmother’s buffet and a few other pieces. When my head wasn’t bothering me, I helped my mom sort some stuff – and give away a lot of it!

We got to visit several family members on Saturday and Sunday. That’s always fun. We went out for catfish on Saturday night and I got fried crawfish!! Yay!! I truly miss crawfish!

The only real excitement on the trip home is that Wild Man got to drive a lot. He and I were in the Trooper and I was happy to let him drive. He wasn’t crazy about driving through cities at first, but once he drove through Jackson, MS, he decided it really wasn’t so bad. We didn’t get as far as we’d like on Monday night because I was getting a headache, but we started early yesterday. We got home around 6pm last night. PWM and Wild Man got all the living room furniture out of the truck last night then got some help to empty every thing else this morning. When I got out of bed, PWM and I returned the UHaul truck.

And the trip is now over. Except for the recovery. Which may take a couple of weeks.

I’m off to do some more recovery.