#14 – The Reading Skills

When I was four years old, I was made to stand in the corner for a time-out. While I was bored and waiting for my release, I noticed my mother making a bunch of squiggles on some paper in neat lines.

“Why are you doing that?” Because when I scribbled on paper, I would get scolded.

“Because when I “write” something Grandma knows what I’m saying,” Mom answered firmly.

I thought she meant that Grandma would get that information “real time” by some kind of telepathy aided by the squiggles. My first thoughts were: “Uh oh! She’s telling Grandma I’m being naughty.”

My very next thoughts were: “Magic! I want to learn how to do that!”

Since then, I have learned so many things thanks to being a voracious reader. Being that kind of reader taught me how to be discriminating on what the author is saying, and whether they took the time to learn before spouting, too.

Yes, dear Peeps, reading is AWESOME! Even if it isn’t REALLY magical – it still seems like it is, y’know?

You’re never alone if you can read or write!

#13 – Extraordinary Gifts

I really enjoy giving unexpected gifts that are perfect for THAT person. Don’t you?

WELL – my younger sister (next in the birth order with both parents) who is a really good quilter found some material that featured art that reminded her of me.

I have had the “handle” of Churchmouse since my teen years because I have never grown to five foot of height. I was also very poor during my teen years, and there is a saying “poor as a churchmouse” that reminded my friend of my situation. As time went by, I used it as an identifier on Citizen Band radio through the 1970’s as well as on my blogs through later years.

I found some cute “meeces” that looked cute and were drawn to mischief, so I used their pictures for my profile picture on Facebook most of the time. When Di saw this material, she knew she had to get it and make a quilt for me with it. It’s a throw quilt, so I use it for my couch during the summer, or just on the end of my bed sometimes. I LOVE this quilt for the way it was given to me on a hum drum Saturday, for no particular reason other than she really wanted to give it to me and see my reaction.

My grandson enjoys using it as well when he comes over for visits. This is a quilt that always LOOKS like a hug to me.

So, I am really and truly thankful for all the ways something/someone says, “I love you.” Without saying those words. I want to find fun ways to do it, too.

Have you ever had some kind of extraordinary gift? Let me know!

#12 – A Comfortable Bed All to Myself

I thank God because I have an awesome place to work on going to sleep. Having a comfy place to sleep at the end of any day is a blissy indulgence for me, and I don’t take it for granted at all. Having been homeless means I haven’t always had a comfortable place to sleep. Living on tight budgets for decades meant that I slept on the best I could find at second hand shops, or thanked people profusely for their giveaways to me and my husband. They were better than sleeping on a couch or the floor, but most weren’t like the one I have now.

The bed frame is second hand but honestly so perfectly right for my taste and pleasure. I feel like someone I could admire when I come into my bedroom and see that bed. Truth. The mattress is new, and taught me something about how a mattress can be firm and soft enough to handle my fibromyalgia tenderness.

I toss and turn a lot because of the fibro, so I need really smooth and soft sheets on the bed. Then I need lots of room to move around, so this is a Double Bed, or Full Size. These sheets are cotton sateen, so they don’t abrade my skin from the tossing and turning, and the weight is perfectly comfortable to move within. Though I am happily sleeping alone, and adding that I have a really good internal body furnace, the cotton is perfect for my night sweatiness.

The quilt is a fabulous one that my younger sister made in 2009. It’s cotton, and perfectly weighted for me. I’m so amazed at the the colors in its design, and how wonderfully vibrant they are for my autumnal décor. Because it was made by someone I love and who loves me, I’m sure you understand that I feel like I’m hugged when I slide inside the sheets.

I LOVE spreading across the bed like a starfish, and no one to apologize to for tossing and turning so much, as well as no one to worry about bumping when I need to change positions. After sharing a bed with siblings and then a husband for nearly three decades, this is a HUGE luxury for me!

And for those of you with sharp eyes, yes, that’s a cpap machine next to the bed. It’s a bit of a challenge sleeping with a hose on the nose, but – it sure beats choking during the sleep cycle (which is what I was doing without it).

#11 – Laundry at HOME

If you can’t shoot, do laundry.

After years of doing laundry in an apartment laundry room or laundromat, being able to do laundry at home anytime I want is an amazing luxury.

Sharing laundry facilities has led to some of my wash not coming clean enough, because the person before me worked in mud or an engine shop. It’s a gamble you can’t do much to avoid, so you learn to wash the dark items first.

I like not having to make sure I have enough coins before I sort the clothes. I also like not having to leave my wash in a line as I wait for an empty machine. Add that if I want to wash a few items in a special way and not pay for a full load of wash – well, that’s where the feeling of luxury comes from.

I deeply appreciate getting my clothes clean, dry and put away never going out in the rain or cold, while slouching around in pajamas and drinking a freshly brewed cup of coffee – ‘cause I’m awesome like that!

(Maybe I’ll even try on a Star Wars outfit when I do it.)

#10 – Autumn!

Internet photo

I have a friend who said that she only sees October as the month when everything is dying. To me – it’s a PARTY! All the colors are out like Halloween costumes, and all the wood smoke and leaf burning is like incense wafting skyward. Wonderful leaves to scuff through that sing a whooshing sound as you go along like no dirt road can do during the summertime.

I don’t know if it has been the release from the heat, the fun of another school year of information for my hungry mind, or even new school supplies and clothing that made autumn so welcome in my life. Probably all of it.

All of the plants and trees begin showing their produce at this time of year, too. So many things yield their identities with the fruits, nuts, berries or even just fluffy seeds become visible and also add their colors. Busy wildlife gathering it all in (squirrels!), and even pelting me with some of it at times made for some hilarity for me as I enjoyed traipsing through forests or weeded prairie fields as a child.

All of the sturdy harvest foods begin replacing the fragile produce of summer, and it tastes so good because it was cooked inside the cozy home. The family gathers like they can’t stand to do during the summertime because it’s too dang HOT unless you’ve got a/c. Give me the cool, brisk, bountiful, and sassy AUTUMN days anytime! 

#9 – Good Healthcare!

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This year is nearly over, and I have done less than I expected as far as expressing my thankfulness; but I have honestly been gaining ground on things to be grateful and thankful for.

Good healthcare is sometimes a desperate challenge for some of us in my age group within my country (the USA); but I have to say that I have been able to obtain some great care this past year. My Primary care physician is focused on caring for those over 50, and it’s been a HUGE blessing for me that I found her. She listens to me, and then tells me what is significant that I missed seeing as significant. She chooses my medications based on her understanding of my aging process as well as my lab results. She’s just been a big difference to the doctors I’ve had before, lemme tell ya.

This year has been an ordeal for me in the health area, though I had been working on improving it most of last year. I have been dealing with shortness of breath for a long time, and my doctor decided to push for a lot of tests by a lot of experts. She was concerned that my troubles were more than asthma, which we had been working hardest to resolve.

So I am grateful for the discoveries. First: I have a healthy heart! There is no heart disease currently messing with me (relief). That took several tests to determine, and there was some reason for concern since I have been obese with high cholesterol (my body makes bad cholesterol, even if I am fasting) for most of my life.

I still have no sign of diabetes! Also very good news (don’t hate me, please).

After a discussion with the pulmonologist, who complimented me on my faithful use of the CPAP, he decided that – it is my asthma that’s causing the trouble. There are a couple of tests he’s going to do, but they are all about how my asthma is working me over.

I am one of those people who didn’t get an asthma diagnosis until my adult years, and I just don’t always know when to use my rescue inhaler, though I am good about using the nebulizer when I feel persistently breathless. What I wasn’t doing, was resorting to using the rescue inhaler before, during or after exertive activities. Instead, I’d sit down and work on recovering. From now on, I’ll keep moving but use the inhaler before, during, and after any exertive activity. That will allow me to rebuild muscles and stamina that I’ve lost during this fight for air. There’s more testing ahead, but nothing to be worried about – just looking for better options and coping mechanisms that will allow me to keep active more than I have been doing.

So, I just want to say how thankful I am that I haven’t missed any significant time from work (just some PTO time for the tests) during all of this, too. Working from home is such a HUGE blessing, since I had less traveling to do just to make the appointments.

I am my sole provider for income, with a widow’s pension that is insufficient for my basic needs unless I apply for governmental assistance. So my job is important for my independent lifestyle. It also provides my really good healthcare, which is slightly less costly than Medicare would be, and covers more than Medicare does. That means that though I am eligible for it, I am better off staying with the plan my employer offers me.

At 67 years of age, I have out-worked all of my 8 parents before they retired, and none of them were lazy about their work habits. Life just beat them up harder. I’m beyond grateful for God making it possible for me to work beyond 60. It keeps me engaged with mental stimulation as well as making my life work well at my age, and with my needs.

I may have been too busy to write about my gratitude, but certainly still counting my blessings during this time!

I’ve Arrived!

Stock photo from internet

I feel like I finally arrived in the 21st century! I have moved away from one town to another. One of the complications is that I don’t have a bank facility very close to me. All of them are about 5 to 10 miles away. This isn’t much of a problem, until I have a paper check to deposit or cash.

I got a refund from the insurance policy I cancelled because I found a different company is cheaper. I really didn’t want to travel to the bank to deposit anything that small.

My younger son has an account at the same bank as I do, and I saw him take a picture of a check and it was deposited in his account. So, I went to the phone app, and figured out how to do it. Woo Hoo! No gas used in this action, but the money will be deposited and available as it usually is: on the next banking day (in this case, Monday).

I don’t know why I waited so long to grow this skill. I’m fairly tech savvy and I have no inner resistance to it. I think it was just convenient and fool proof to go to the local remote site and use the ATM on my way to the store when I had one very close to home.

I just had to tell someone, without coming over as boastful or weird. I’m just old and tickled that I managed a younger woman’s skillset.

#8 – Grateful for COFFEE!

I am SO grateful for Coffee in my life.

As a child born after WW2, coffee was a major part of the adult rite of passage that was ubiquitous to the US. Children were not allowed to have a cup of their own in most homes. Or, they’d get a mostly milk form of it. Mornings always started with the smell of the coffee brewing that let you know that someone else was already up and making things ready for the day. It was a comforting smell to kids like me.

Coffee was a part of social gatherings, too. You smelled it at church events, in restaurant dining rooms, and at family gatherings. It was always there – the smell and offering of hot coffee. You learned to provide for coffee drinkers even if you didn’t care for the brew. That pot of coffee wouldn’t last very long at any gathering, and eventually we learned how to use thermoses in pretty carafes to serve it when another pot was brewing.

While my parents always drank their coffee black and simple, I enjoyed mine with milk and sweetener, and still do. My former husband would drink no less than a pot a day, and on really busy days at home he’d drink more than that – especially if he was working in cold areas. It was his favorite way to warm up.

My oldest son still enjoys the smell of fresh brewed or fresh ground coffee, though he doesn’t often enjoy drinking it. It’s just a smell of stability and good things happening. He admitted that he’ll dawdle in the store aisles if someone looks like they are going to grind some coffee beans.

Another reason that many folks my age drank coffee was because a cup of coffee was cheap and refills were free. So if you were going out with friends to just chat and visit, but you didn’t have much money, you could order that cup of coffee so you could join in the outing. It’s the only reason I learned to enjoy a cup. My beverage of choice for a morning was cola, to my husband’s horror when we first married.

There are a few in my generation who have continued to use some form of soda pop for their morning hydration, but I’m a solid coffee drinker, now. It just seems to set the tone for good things in a day. I feel ready to take on the complexities of anything when I have a good strong cup of coffee at hand. I also feel comforted and comfortable when I am enjoying some coffee with someone else.

I thank God for coffee because it allowed me to be present when I felt like I couldn’t enjoy life much, as a poor teen. Later, it allowed my husband and I to sit for hours in coffee shops just dating each other on a shoestring. All of that gave me great memories of robust goodness through my adult years.

Eventually, special brews arrived (Hello Starbucks), and then to my astonishment, cold coffee versions as well! I’ve enjoyed some of them, and still do, so they aren’t all that bad. Some of the instant cappuccino versions have even been enjoyed from time to time as well.

But nothing makes me feel like everything is good like a drip brewed, robust and strong (but not bitter), cup of coffee with milk or half and half stirred in with some sweetener. The Keurig types were tried, and just don’t have the same flavor for me. So I’m back to the drip kind, and I have my own favorite grind and brand, of course.

 There’s just something about the goodness of a cup of coffee that is just at the right temperature for gulping.  It makes me feel like God is near, and all is right with the world and my mindset when I enjoy a hot cup – anywhere.

#5 and 6 – Revisiting Thankfulness for my Home and Work

As I mentioned earlier, I have moved closer to my family. This meant crossing state lines though the distance was only about 20 miles.

So, I had the fun of trying to get new plates for my car along with a new driver’s license when I first arrived, as my plates were expiring. Try doing this under pandemic considerations and it gets really tricky. I had to use my “Senior Walk in” card, to some of the sad faces of young folks trying to get their first license by appointment only. I will only say that I was desperate not to get a ticket when traveling to see my doctors in Wisconsin.

I made the move with trust that God will ensure that I can continue working from home rather than driving the typical 90 min to my job from this new location. I wanted to be closer to family, and I needed a bigger home to enjoy. Getting a retirement benefit made that all possible.

So, here is where I thanked God for my home in Wisconsin. That’s so you can compare pictures.

I thank God so much for the new home, but I have to admit that I am dealing with some of what Simone Biles is right now: disorientation. She has it impeding her sense of air space (aka “the twisties”). I have it impeding my sense of routine space.

I’m not sure what routine to follow some days, and I don’t have comfort zones set in just yet. So I am losing energy just trying to find a “typical day” in this new life. I guess I’m redefining myself a bit, too. There are new nice people as neighbors, and a different kind of lifestyle for shopping and outing options. Add in more family contact and it’s a whirling mentally baffling blend to respond to.

This is a good problem! But, I have to admit it’s still a drain on my mental processes, and I am doing my best to find routines that build me up enough to enjoy the breaks from routines more.

Having explained that much, I just want to take the time to Thank God for this new home!

The little sign in the heart frame says “Welcome”

My Patio: I LOVE having a patio, and I guess it shows with the way I’ve decorated it. The flowers were a Mother’s Day gift from my firstborn and his wife, and I was dubious about it’s ability to endure my care as a non-gardener. It’s proven to love me and just flourished! The bench holds toys and charcoal as well as providing a nice casual spot to plop. The table and chairs (aluminum, not cast iron) have allowed me to watch fireflies dancing in the evening, while I’ve enjoyed a book and a beverage, or even a meal. Skeets are blown away with a fan I didn’t have on the porch when taking the photos. The little sign hanging in the heart shape says “Welcome” and faces the parking lot.

I just want to add that I get a lot of gifts with flag themes, because I share a birthday with the US flag: June 14th. So I have a few things on display in that flag theme for that reason ONLY.

My Living room: Here is where I enjoy chatting with visitors, reading or even watching TV. The grandson’s toys are on the left, facing the doorway to the patio. I am decorated with a summery yellow theme at this time, and I love how bright it all feels.

I love the ceiling fan and how it helps me cool down faster than just using the ac. The coat closet is deeper than the usual closet, so it works for both the coats and some storage as well.

The windows bring in all the fresh air and light, but are high enough that there is still some privacy from persons walking to and from the parking lot. My former neighbor noticed how quiet this home is from sounds above or next to me. This place was built in 2002, and is very solid.

The dining room area is to the front left, and you’ll get to see that next.

#6 – My Job: This is where I work and where I enjoy sitting down for a meal by myself or with company. I can also set up my sewing machine here, or work on painting a picture if that’s what I want to do! I only had a counter to use as a bar before, and I just hate clambering up on a bar chair (I’m only 4’10”). So I would sit and hold my food before I moved here. And as for the painting: I painted those two pictures at two different Paint and Sip outings, and I’ve been bitten by the painting bug ever since. I’m working on having seasonal pictures to change them from season to season.

My grandson and I are enjoying a few meals with conversation, now that we have a dining area. Imagine that! He also loves having a place to play with playdoh and kinetic sand without so much worry about it spilling or falling on carpeting. Me, too!

On weekdays, that corner with the computer is is where I work. It’s a nice and handy corner that allows me to see out a window or even have music on the TV channels playing. I also like being near the coffee corner behind me.

Most of all – when I want to take a break, I can walk away from my “work” and relax. That’s a perfect option for people who work from home like me, but don’t want to put their offices in the bedroom, or work in a closet. I am right where I can answer the door for deliveries, too.

Back to #4 – My Home: The kitchen is behind the “job site” and has a peek through wall so I can continue to visit with my visitors (or peek at the TV) while I am working in there. I have a dishwasher and a garbage disposal, along with the fridge and stove (all electric). I brought my own microwave. I honestly love working in a kitchen that can be left to wait while I visit with guests and no one sees the mess, chuckle.

I didn’t do much to look like a magazine spread, so pardon the “I LIVE here” look.

I enjoy how fast everything cleans up, as everything is conveniently located for cleaning and usefulness.

It’s as if God made sure all the right things are where I need them to be, and I honestly believe that’s what happened.

A nice and peaceful resting place.

And now, just a peek at my bedroom before we close. Please excuse the clothing I am sorting through for a rummage sale on the end of the bed and top of the chest there.

I use the armoire for my folding clothes, and have a walk in closet across the room from it. There’s a window to the right as well.

This is my favorite place to rest, and do a starfish sprawl at night in my double bed.

The chair on the left is a convertible, and changes to a bed when my grandson comes for a visit. He’s gotten quite good at folding it back up in the morning!

So – my new home is a joy for me, as is my workplace and work.

Dealing with Delays in Life

I have again failed at being diligent with my blogs. I’m more frustrated with myself than anything else. So, I’ve got some explaining to do.

I found out that I have been in a depression cycle about this time last year. I wish I was more blasé about dealing with life changes than I am, but my father’s description of my personality being ‘intense’ was clever and on point. So I was able to get some help from my wonderful geriatric centric doctor, and have a better outlook on life as a result. I am careful about taking my Venlafaxine every morning.

I’ve had some bad dandruff problems for many years, and I finally got an appointment with a dermatologist about a year ago. We tried some simple things (AGAIN), and then a very expensive topical that my insurance made much more affordable. I try not to talk bad about a healthcare plan that takes good care of me; but the US really needs to address the disparity in healthcare coverage for all of its citizens. I hate to think of someone who couldn’t get that reduced cost that I have.

Anyway, even the topical wasn’t sufficient, so I now have the diagnosis of scalp psoriasis, and began taking Otezla, which has some warnings about weight loss (YAY! I need that), and depression! I found that I fell back into a numb funk, and had to pace my medicants so that there was less disturbance. This all happened at the same time that I was moving to a new home, so I’ve been really distracted since April with that move and all that followed.

I also have the wonderful blessing of taking care of a 6 year old grandson for an overnight visit every other Saturday to Sunday evening. My son has to work on Sundays because he works at a resort as Maintenance Supervisor. His manager takes the Saturdays. So at the age of most Great Grandparents, I am doing the grandparent thing, with joy and great exhaustion, chuckle. Toss in some chronic health problems that make me a ‘spoonie‘ and I just have to surrender to a limited list of things I can do in a day.

I’m still going to resume my list of thanksgivings very soon. But for now, I’m going to shout about how good God has been for me in all of this.

My new home: I went from a tiny apartment of 580 sq ft, to a bigger place of 750 sq ft! The rent is higher, of course, but not so very much higher that I can’t afford it. I have a garage as I did with the last home, but I also have my own washer and dryer here, instead of a shared coin laundry. I cannot tell you guys how much that blesses me! Not having to worry about someone else’s construction soil still residing in the washer when I take a turn is a big deal for me. I was pulling a white bra out with mud on it after washing! I love knowing I can wash a small load and reduce the water without paying for a full load of laundry, too. It’s also wonderfully convenient to wash something when I want to, rather than when I get the coins, or while waiting for someone else to finish doing their weekly wash, or having to dodge through the weather to go to the laundry room. Now, I do laundry in my nightgown if I want.

The other benefits of being in this new place are that I have deeper closets, and an area to place a dining table so I have a place to seat guests for a meal, instead of using folding tables that have to be set up and put away. Add the banquet room (available for rent), the indoor pool, and work out room for no cost, and I’m in renter’s heaven! I want to point out that the complex has families of all kinds and includes pets. So I’m not in a Seniors Only space!

I also have a spot that is just for the work hours that doesn’t invade my leisure places. This is really good for my mental health, as it means I can “leave” work for breaks or when I am signed out for the day.

As the previous tenant was here a long time, they renovated the apartment before I moved in. All but the clothes dryer are brand new appliances, and the carpeting is new along with the ac and ceiling fan in the living room. I have a private and spacious patio that I enjoy using when it’s not too hot (It’s been a really hot summer here in northern IL with most days in mid 90°F).

My neighbors are friendly and take good care of their homes, too. Add that I am now closer to family, and that I have enjoyed more visits with some of them than I did before the pandemic, and perhaps you can understand that my life feels surreal in a good way. I feel like I am living in the lap of luxury here, and in the mind set of “don’t pinch me, I don’t want to leave this dream”. This steals energy from me, and I tend to get a bit brain fogged by the evening hours as a result.

I am getting a Social Security Widow’s benefit from my late ex-husband’s benefits. Since we were married over 10 years, and I am not currently married to anyone else, I am eligible and add it to my job income. Since I am at full retirement age (66 made me eligible, but I’m 67 now), I will not suffer any restrictions on what I earn.

When I was informed that I am finally restored to a 40 hour work week (starting this week), I am over the moon with happy feelings. When the pandemic smote the land, I was reduced to 34 hours a week, and it was decided that I should work them in the later morning, coming in later rather than leaving early. I’m so glad to be back at work in the early hours even if it means a longer day. At least I don’t have to drive for an hour on the highways (58 miles each way) each morning and each evening, now that I am allowed to work from home. That saves me money on gas as well as energy for personal tasks after work!

So I’ve been really distracted with the changes in my life as spring segued into summer. I’m finding a more consistent stride and I’ll be better about making updates. That’s my intention at least.

Life is good! I sure hope you are in a good place, too, dear reader.