Where I Been?

Wow…time flies. I can’t believe I haven’t posted for 10 days. Thankfully, a concerned follower and friend reached out to make sure I was OK and made me realize how long it’s been since I posted. Uggh!

My only excuse? We’ve been quite busy here at Casa De Sassy with house and yard projects, reconnecting with friends, and hiding out from the sweltering heat and humidity.

We have Hostas and Day Lilies growing haphazardly all over our front yard, so we dug some up and replanted them in a more organized manner to border our yard along the driveway and the front of the house:

We now have a solid row of Day Lilies along the front of the house under the Dining Room window.
We filled in the spaces along the driveway with Hostas moved from other areas of the front yard.

We finally got rid of our old leather furniture and got and assembled our new Lovesac modular furniture and we LOVE it!

Out with the old…
…and in with the new.

We reconnected with my knitting buddy, Dave, and met his new boyfriend, Anthony, who was very charming. We enjoyed sushi, cosmos, and great conversation.

We also reconnected with our G&G gang (Girls and Gays,) my fiends from my summer camp counselor days. It was a happy reunion and we had great time. They gave me a belated birthday president, a new giraffe, which I named “GiGi.”

GiGi, the giraffe made from strips of aluminum cans.

This weekend, I assembled new display shelves for my Comic Den in the basement which, of course, required a lot of reorganizing

Love this shelf so much better for displaying my figures.
Love the new symmetry!

Finally, we discovered tonight that some of the wildflower seeds we planted in the back yard a few weeks ago, and have been watering diligently, are actually blooming. I am SO excited!

I feel really productive, but also guilty that I’ve neglected blogging for long.

I promise to do better.

Changes for the better

It’s been a busy and crazy week here at the old Sassy Pad.

I had a couple medical appointments (things are generally good and moving in the right direction – yay!) and I scheduled a couple more. My sugar was a little high and my iron was a little low, so I’ve upped my daily iron supplements and I have cut out my daily sugar-filled snack free for all. (I’ve been indulging in way too many sugary carb-loaded treats as I celebrate my return to solid foods.) Otherwise, I am eating 3 meals a day without issue and my energy is slowly returning to normal levels.

The awful bruises on my forearms from in-hospital blood draw attempts gone wrong have finally faded enough that I can wear short sleeves in public.

These were 3 x the size and dark purple just 2 weeks ago.

Also, I am tapering off Prednisone and much of my jitteriness is gone. I’m also sleeping much better.

For decades, I have needed the TV on at bedtime to help distract my mind, allowing me to fall asleep. (Or so I thought.) Two weeks ago, we stopped turning the TV on at bedtime, and I started reading instead. This has allowed me to fall asleep much faster. This is now a permanent change – no more TV at bedtime. I’m still waking up between 3:30 and 4:00am, but I’m sleeping soundly until then, so I’m happy. I suspect that’s a side effect of the Prednisone so, as I taper and eventually stop it, I think I’ll sleep longer.

With the renewed energy, I have returned to my normal routines of organizing, housekeeping and cooking. Last night, I made Paella for the first time, with chicken, shrimp, and chorizo sausage. I really enjoyed the prep, and it came out OK, but I was a bit disappointed. It wasn’t as flavorful as I suspected, and it was drier than I wanted. Fortunately, Jeffrey loved it, so he will eat the copious amounts of leftovers.

Paella prep!

The BIG news is that we ordered our new living room furniture – which arrived 3 DAYS EARLY – before we were able to rid ourselves of our current furniture, which is being picked up Saturday (we are giving it to a family friend.)

We are very excited about the new furniture…it is modular and much lighter (both in color and weight) than our current dark brown leather heavy as F*&%$# furniture. The new stuff arrived in multiple boxes, and much assembly is required, but we don’t have the room to assemble until the current furniture is gone, so our living room and dining room are in complete disarray until the weekend.

Our new furniture, in chrysalis age.

We also ordered new curtains and are shopping around for a new carpet. It’s a complete makeover.

The Capital District is ending all COVIS-related restrictions and the news announced it this way yesterday:

Irresponsible caption!

This upset me, as the COVID Pandemic is NOT at an end, and this misleading news subtitle is dangerous. Personally, we will continue to wear masks in public, social distance, and limit our in person visits to people who have been fully vaccinated. Relaxing our vigilance now will only contribute to a second wave to hit. I hope the majority of people are sensible enough to know that, and that most people will get vaccinated. Sigh…

It is a three day weekend for the both of us this weekend, so today is my “Friday.” We both have massages scheduled for Friday. Although Jeffrey usually gets one monthly, this will be only the 2nd massage I’ve ever gotten, the first over a decade ago. My body issues have kept me from feeling comfortable with getting massages, but my doctors have recommended it for stress/anxiety relief and to help lessen my tense muscles, which contribute to my digestive issues. If Friday goes well, I will consider getting them more often. The rest of the weekend will be filled with furniture construction and placement, including assembling two new display shelves I purchased for my basement superhero collection. I am excited, but feeling a bit daunted by all the work it will entail.

Here’s hoping my energy holds up.

Whee! kend.

It was a fun weekend. The BF, Jim, arrived Friday for a visit. I made Lasagna Stuffed Peppers for dinner, then we enjoyed Ruby Red Grapefruit cocktails while watching one of our favorite movies, “Moonstruck.”

Saturday morning, our handyman came to remove the bushes from the front of our home. They were blocking our second entrance and it was time for them to go. Here is the before and after picture.

Quite a difference, eh?

Since we felt the need to wait around while he was working (he is a lovely treat for the eyes, so there was no really suffering on our part) we had a lazy relaxing morning, putting together a Peanuts puzzle I had received for my birthday:

Just love these characters (and jigsaw puzzles.)

Once the handyman was done, we took a trip to Lowe’s, then hit a liquor store, and made a quick stop at my mom’s before heading home.

Upon returning home, we enjoyed a game of Rummikub on the back porch, before starting dinner. Oh, and out of shear silliness, we painted my fingernails lime green, because why not?

Sorry Kermit, it IS easy being green.

After dinner (Caprese Salad and Chicken Breast baked in homemade Marinara with Mozzarella) we listened to a playlist of my favorite songs and enjoyed a small Lime Martini (just sample size…we were trying a new recipe) before ending the evening with a Pear Martini and a couple episodes of “Sex and the City.” Jim left this morning.

It was a lovely weekend, and felt good to see and spend time with the BF, especially now that I am recovering and able to socialize (and eat) relatively normal again.

Today, we are having a quiet relaxing day inside with the pups. We need to split and evenly distribute the Hostas and Day Lilies in the front yard along the boarder of the front of our house and driveway, but the temps are just too high for us to be out working for long periods of time in the hot sun today. We will wait until there’s a cooler evening this week to do that. (We should wait until the fall, but I am too impatient.) We also received 3 new Rose bushes today, which we will plant tonight, after the temps drop to a less staggering level.

It’s so good to be back on my feet again. Just have to be careful not to overdo it.

3 is a Magic Number

A sleepy Sassybear says “Hello!

I am consistently waking up at 3:00am every morning. May be the Prednisone, may just be my new sleep pattern. I am 50 now, after all. I do feel fairly well rested (getting a solid 6 hours of sleep each night) but I wonder what wakes me at that time. I know what keeps me awake: my brain. I have two modes – off and on. When my eyes open, so does my flow of thoughts and there’s no shutting them down.

Upon awaking, I do a mental inventory:

Health Assessment: How do I feel? Everything feel normal? Anything new hurt? Anything feel “off” or wrong? No? good!

Today’s Agenda: What’s on tap for today? I have the day off for a Remicade infusion at 8:30pm (call ahead to make sure I can still get the infusion while I’m taking Prednisone) and a 1:45pm post-hospital follow-up with my GI. (This is the big “review the test results, discuss what happened, determine what do we do now” talk. Eek.) I also need to place an order for grocery delivery and try to get some house cleaning done…company’s on the way.

The Worry Log: What issues do I need to deal with and stop stressing about? I need to schedule a dentist appointment for a cleaning. We need to call a plumber to replace some leaky bathroom faucets and fix a leaky outdoor hose faucet. We need to make some kennel and hotel room reservations for some small trips we are planning in the next month or two (knock on wood the health cooperates and stays stable.) We need to call our handyman about a bush removal and porch repair he’s been stalling on since Fall of last year. We need to call about having a permanent AC unit installed upstairs so we can discontinue having to put 2 AC units in the windows upstairs each year. (We have central air, but live in a cape style house that makes for a challenge when trying to cool the upstairs.)

The Good Stuff: What am I looking forward to? We have a small inflatable pool arriving today. I thought it would be fun to set up in the back yard as a nice way to “beat the heat” and relax in the summer. Upstate New York seems to be getting warmer and more humid each summer, and it makes it difficult to enjoy being outside in our great yard space. Hoping the pool helps counteract that. A couple shelves I ordered for the basement (aka Comic Den) should be arriving soon. These are media storage cabinets which are taller and thinner than what I have now…should make for a much better display for my superhero collectibles. We are purchasing a new living room set of modular furniture to replace our heavy dark leather ensemble. It will be smaller, lighter and adjustable (i.e. consists of 5 individual sections that can be connected in various ways to create individual seating, lounges, a bed, a sofa, and or a love seat) making for an easier rearranging of seating as company and decorating for the holidays require. (And easier to move for a couple of out of shape 50 year olds.) Very excited about this. There are big changes happening above me at work that could result in a better, less stressful working environment for me. Still holding out hope for an early retirement incentive, slim though the chance may be. We’re having a friend over for cocktails tomorrow afternoon, then the BFJ (best Friend Jim) is coming for the weekend for a visit. Woohoo!

Etc Etc: These are all the other random thoughts that pop in and out of my head like a prairie dog checking for safe egress. What will I wear to Remicade today? (Choices are limited due to my recent rapid weight loss.) When will the hideously large and ugly arm bruises (from badly muffled attempts to draw blood while I was in the hospital) fade so I can stop wearing long sleeves in this sweltering heat? What should I make for dinner tonight? Do the dogs need a bath? What can I blog about? Have the new comic issues dropped on the DC and Marvel Apps this morning? (I only purchase digital comics these days. I ran out of room for the printed copies.) What should I have for breakfast? Is it too early to start my x-mas shopping? What should I get my niece for her housewarming gift? What will happen today that will surprise me? What is that noise I keep hearing in the wall? Is the Grandfather clock time and chime off a bit? What should I get Jeffrey for his birthday (in September)? What should my next crochet project be? I haven’t played my trombone in a year. I think I might still have some of those cookies I like in the back of the kitchen cabinet. I really need to get some more exercise. I really want to put out more grass seed.

Yup, that all happens in my head while I quietly lie awake in bed. I eventually resign myself that I am not getting back to sleep and get up. I’d like to be more productive in the morning, since I’m up, but everything makes so much noise in the wee hours of the morning, especially when other humans (Jeffrey) and animals (Harvey and Rita Mae) are still sleeping. Going up or down stairs, putting dishes away, cleaning…it all seems thunderous, so I opt for sitting on the screen porch or the living room couch (depending n the temps) and scrolling through various news sights, blogs, games, and online shopping apps on my iPad, iPhone or Macbook, just waiting for the rest of the household to join me in the wakies so I can officially start my day.

But I am eager to start it…I’ve got a lot of living to do.

Outside my head…and house!

After 6 months of fairly regular (and often consistent for days) pain and suffering that prevented me from eating solid foods, standing or walking, or functioning beyond the most basic existence, and causing me to lose 75 pounds, I headed to the Emergency Room on Thursday May 27th where I was admitted, and stayed the next 8 days, being discharged this past Thursday June 3rd. I spent 4 days on Morphine trying to regulate my pain while I was pumped full of a variety of strong antibiotics, saline solution, and Prednisone. Things began improving rapidly by the 4th day, and 4 days later, I was sent home pain free, able to eat solid foods once again, and feeling as close to my normal self as I have since sometime in December 2020. Copious amounts of tests were run, and I have several follow-ups to discuss the results and determine what caused all this and how we prevent it from happening again. Honestly, I truly believed my body was shutting down once and for all and I would never leave the hospital. So you can imagine my state of mind when I learned of Anne Marie’s death, which hit me on so many levels I was almost numb with fear and grief.

In a nutshell, it was a very difficult time.

Fast forward to yesterday. I had spent many days working through my negative emotions, which were now conflated with feelings of relief, surprise, disbelief, and gratefulness that I actually survived and was now home once again with my beloved husband and dogs, functioning and feeling near normal (for me.) I decided I needed to pull myself out of this emotional haze and get back to the very important business of living my life. So I showered, shaved, dressed, got my house in order (aka de-sick-zoned it) and prepared a list of errands I needed to run and items I needed to purchase. You know – normal things healthy people do. Jeffrey drove us all over, allowing me to pick up items for our yard and home, check out a new comic store that had opened, and purchase much needed clothing as everything I own literally hangs on me or falls off of me. (I had to hold up the pants I was wearing by the waist to prevent them from slipping down while we were out in public.) This was my first out and about since March 2020 and getting fully vaccinated in April of this year. we remained masked at all times (unlike the bulk of the people we saw), and did not linger anywhere (except at the department store where I had to try on clothes.) It felt amazing to be doing it, and it was a much needed distraction from the thoughts swirling in my head.

Today, to keep the momentum going, I got out in the yard early (before the sweltering 90 degree temps hit) to do some clean-up and get the porch and patio set-up, cleaned, and in usable condition. It was wonderful to be out in the fresh air and sunshine, listening to the birds and marveling at how quickly our yard was recovering from last years upheavel (septic repair, fence installation, and tree removals.) The trees, most of which we planted upon purchasing and moving in 9 years ago, were really sprouting and the grass was growing back at remarkable pace. After cleaning up tree branch debris, washing off the patio and furniture, and watering plots of seeds I had planted weeks ago during a pain-free moment in the hopes of getting some flowers to grow, we headed out for one or two more errands while our “lawn lady” mowed our property. When we arrived home, I was beyond elated to see how wonderful the yard looked. But don’t take my word for it…see for yourself:

Front of house
Right side of house with lovely bloomed roses.
Side of house – firewood and tool storage area
Right corner with half grown Thujas, planted 3 years ago.
Center yard and patio with path to stone bench framed by apple trees. (That’s a Dogwood to the left in front of the screened porch.)
Left corner…this was solid dirt last summer. Love love love our new fence.
Pavilion and grilling area. I got the Impatients today. We will spend much of the summer out here, as temps allow.
Screened Porch – favorite morning coffee and evening cocktail spot.

It was an important and much needed shift, after months of sickness and seclusion, to be fostering growth and reveling in being outdoors among the grass and trees and birds and bees.

And, as silly as it may sound, I like thinking that maybe the impetus to get up and go and get back into life as usual was inspired by the lingering embers and energy of a Warrior Queen who taught us all that we should live, laugh, and love without hesitation or apology. And fuck anyone or anything that tries to stand in our way…even if it’s our own bodies.

Stay healthy and safe, all.

Mournings are hard

It is hard to post right now. With Anne Marie gone from the blogger world, I feel the missing piece. I cannot look forward to her comments here and on other blogs, let alone her own posts. And it feels wrong to just pick up and move on by posting about other stuff. (That’s me being me. Not a commentary on what others should feel or do.) Her loss feels both unreal and palpable to me. I do not have many friends left in this world, so the loss of one impacts me – heart, mind, and soul.

So, I’m taking a break to deal with my own stuff. To acknowledge her passing for more than one day or post. Out of respect for her spouse, whom I hope knows some of us do still grieve with him, albeit it silently, separately, and distantly. I am saying good-bye and letting go. It just takes longer for some of us.

Be well. And tell people you love them if you do.

Every fucking day.

A smaller world

Even as I type these words, I can’t believe they’re true. The world grew a bit quieter, smaller, colder, and darker this week, as we had to say good-bye to one of our own: Anne Marie over at From My Brain To My Mouth.

Anne Marie was a force to be reckoned with. She was fierce, headstrong, independent, and unapologetic for her out loud lifestyle and outspoken beliefs, and earned her title of “Warrior Queen” every day of her life. She did not abide discrimination or intolerance of any kind one bit. She was an extremely talented knitter, and I am lucky to have been the recipient of one of her beautifully knitted scarves (in rainbow colors, of course.) She loved music, and dancing, and shouting “Fuck That!” (among many other obscenities) when she wanted to express her disgust at things she found unfair and unjust.

She loved her blogging friends with no restraint and, if you were one of the few lucky ones to be welcomed into her social network, she showed that love though phone calls, emails, cards, and comments. She never forgot my birthday nor my Anniversary, and always called at X-mas and New Year’s Eve just to say hi and let me know she loved me.

I first met her (in person) when she came for a visit and we spent the weekend cocktailing, knitting, chatting up a storm, and cementing the bond we already shared through blogland. And then I got to see her again at a “Bloggerpallooza,” organized and hosted by the extremely generous and hardworking Ron over at Retired in Delaware. There have been pending plans for another get together but, sadly and regretfully, life and health plans caused delays until it is now too late. (Life lesson here, folks.) She raved about my Cosmos endlessly, and always made me feel special and loved.

I am grateful to her husband Todd over at arteejee for reaching out to me by phone and letting me know, as he did with a few other bloggers, about her passing. Those cannot have been easy calls for him to make, and his thoughtfulness, even through his loss, will never be forgotten. I wish I had been more composed on the phone when speaking to him, but it was a loss I felt suddenly, fully, and deeply and I just could not hold back the tears when we spoke. I am so sorry, Todd.

My lame attempt to acknowledge her life, friendship, and passing in this post falls far short of other posts from fellow bloggers who have done a better job, so please consider reading these posts to see the connections, love, and friendship she shared with so many of us:

A Day With The Mistress Borghese

Fearsome Beard Here and Here

Spo Reflections

I Should Be Laughing

She Who Seeks

So I punch a Nazi, blast a dance tune, lift a glass, and to you and say:

Farewell my friend and blogger buddy. You left us too soon, and our hearts are heavy with the loss we all feel over your departure.

You will be missed.

Fuck this shit!

The Last Dance

Today is our last full day in Provincetown before we have to pack up and head home tomorrow. For the first time in a long time, I do not find myself looking forward to returning home after a long vacation. After a get away, I am usually happy to have had the time away, but also happy to head home to our familiar and comfortable home. Not this time – I do not want to leave, and I am a little sad that our stay is coming to an end. Being back here has reminded me how I love it, and how much more at home I feel here than in my own neighborhood.

This feeling is also due, in no small part, to the fact that I have felt progressively better since my birthday. The Cape absolutely had the recuperative effect on me I hoped it would. My guts have improved daily, and I have been able to enjoy small amounts of my favorite sea food and shellfish throughout the week with very minor “repercussions”: Fish, Muscles, Clams, Oysters, Lobster, Crab, and Shrimp, and a couple favorite local dishes – gluten free clam chowder and Sopa Do Mar. I even made it out to lunch one day – my first time in a restaurant since March 2020. Lastly, I was able to enjoy 2 or 3 of my signature cocktails (Cosmos) along the way, one a day, and always accompanied with lots of water.

I have also regained some energy and strength, going from having barely enough energy to move around the condo to taking a short walk to the center of town to people watch for awhile before returning to the condo.

The weather has been beautiful and I have enjoyed fresh air and sunshine every day. I have gotten out of the condo every day since my birthday, sometimes just sitting outside, some times via car rides, and sometimes with small walks a block or two away. I even made it to the beach one day for a short visit.

I have slept well every night but one, getting more sleep this week than I’ve gotten in the last month.

And, I have been reminded how thoughtful, caring, and considerate my husband and BF are, making sure I was as comfortable an cared for as possible, at all times, all week.

It wasn’t quite the week of wining and dining I had hoped for, but it was a better week than I’ve had in a very long time, a better week than I had thought it would be, going into it, and has left me much more positive, optimistic, and hopeful that there might just be a path back to good health if only I can maintain the momentum of the week.

Definitely a great way to kick-start my journey to 51.

Fifty shades of gaiety

This sign greeted me upon wakening this morning.

Hello again. Today, I turn the magical number 50 and join the ranks of so many wonderful friends and bloggers who already have their AARP cards. (And special shout out to Anne Marie, a fellow blogger I am fortunate enough to also call friend, who gave me the best birthday shout out ever!)

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I have a chronic disease and several health issues, and they have been in overdrive since January of 2021, giving me barely a days reprieve from their onslaught. This is why my posts have been few and far between. Dealing with my health issues has been the sole focus of my life lately, and although I allow myself the occasional rant about how hard it gets, I try to stay positive and not complain as much as possible. But its been especially hard this time around, and I am finding it hard to stay positive, so I’ve chosen to avoif posting for fear my blog would become a “woe is me” whine fest.

But, despite all my ongoing health issues and the accompanying risks, and after a LOT of debate and discussion, I said Fuck it and we headed to my favorite place on earth, Provincetown, MA, for my birthday. My hubby Jeffrey had already rented the condo above the condo owned by my BF and his hubby, so we loaded up the car with clothes and dogs (and a small pharmacy worth of meds and supplies) and headed to the Cape on Friday for 10 days. Although I cannot enjoy the food and drink I normally would while I’m here, I could still enjoy being in my favorite place, the fresh cape air, the company of my BF, and 10 days away from the hell-that-is-my-job. It is my hope that being here will be recuperative. So we arrived Friday and have settled in nicely to our fabulous Condo. I haven’t been able to leave the condo itself, so far, but we are on the second floor and the living room glass double doors open up to a gorgeous deck, so I have been able to enjoy the sun, fresh air, people watching, and sights and sounds of the town from the condo.

There’s a table and chairs to the left. Umbrella blocks the gate gap so the dogs can go out onto the deck.

I had to miss a planned dinner out last night at a favorite local restaurant (would have been my first since the Pandemic hit) as I was not feeling well enough to go, but we joined the BF and another couple (mutual friends) downstairs in their condo afterwards, where I was surprised by fabulous birthday decorations and a delicious homemade gluten free birthday cake, baked by the BF’s hubby (an amazing cook and baker by skill if not by trade) that I was able to enjoy a small piece of. All 6 of us have been fully vaccinated for awhile, so it was our first visit sans mask in over a year. What a treat.

The sign in the BF’s Condo
All the balloons had superhero symbols
My super delicious birthday cake.

Honestly, it is hard to be here and not be able to go on our usual walk-abouts, enjoy the local cuisine, or share cocktails with everyone, but I am trying to focus on the fact that I was well enough to get here (It’s a 5 hour drive from home,) that my issue are manageable enough that I can still visit with friends, and that we were able to secure such a lovely space to stay in.

Turning 50 means a lot to me. The biggest pro is that, as of today, I am exactly 5 years from retirement. Woohoo. Next, I am grateful I have survived this long, despite all my health issues and, even with the recent 5 month span of constant attacks, I’m still here, fighting and struggling to get better every day. I have a good job – I hate it, BUT it pays well and provides the critical health benefits and paid time off I need – a modest but nice home, good friends, and a family made up of two amazing dogs and a husband who is my real life super-hero, caretaker, partner, cheerleader, bastion of support and encouragement, and the love of my life. My life (health issues aside) is better than I ever could have imagined, as I came from a very impoverished childhood, but managed to meet up with a great life partner, and together we worked hard to do more, be more, have more, and experience more than I ever dreamed possible. Yes, my health sucks the big one, BUT my life would be so much harder without access to the healthcare and benefits I have, and a job that allowed me the time I need to seek treatment and recover as needed throughout the past 23 years. So, while I resent my genetic lot in life, I am still able to appreciate how fortunate I am in so many other ways.

So here’s to 50. Here’s to my life, my fortune, my friends, and my family. Here’s to another year closer to retirement, another day to improve my health, another birthday filled with love, and another year of adventure and fun.

Also, a winning lottery ticket wouldn’t spoil my day in the least.