Category Archives: Books

Crochet and Books

I hopped on today and saw that I hadn’t posted in nearly a month. Which is crazy, because it’s not like I’ve been on vacation or anything. Cuz, you know, the coronavirus and all. I live in Michigan, and if you’ve heard, we are under an executive order from our Governor to stay at home. I’m not going to go into all that because I’m so tired of all the political talk and the pandemic news and it’s all very emotionally exhausting. Which I suppose is why I haven’t been posting.

That is not to say I haven’t been up to anything. I completed an afghan for a nephew and started another one for a niece. I have 14 nieces and nephews and I’ve completed 6 blankets, so I’m almost halfway done! It’s a great way to pass the time. The pattern I use is very repetitive so I don’t even have to think about it much. I will usually crochet while listening to an audiobook or a podcast or watching tv.

I also have acquired a couple new gadgets. Mom toys, if you will. I bought myself a Ninja Foodi pressure cooker/air fryer thingamajig to celebrate my 21st wedding anniversary last month. I figured it was like a gift for both of us, because I have fun using it, and my husband gets to enjoy the food I make in it. Then for Mother’s Day my husband bought me (us) a robot vacuum. Like a Roomba but an off-brand. I didn’t think I would love it, and it’s such a cliché thing to buy for the mother of your children, but I am having fun with it. There is an APP you can use to operate it, and I’m a big fan of apps, so that kind of sold me on the whole idea. That and I believe our house is starting to smell a little less like dog and bacon grease.

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately. I recently finished Where the Crawdads Sing and I absolutely loved the entire story. It ended in a way that I did not expect, and it was beautiful. I’m not one to re-read books, but that’s one I think I could read over and over and not get tired of.

I also finished the audiobook, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, as read by it’s author, Stephen King. I haven’t read many of King’s books but what I have read I’ve enjoyed, and I love the movies that have been made based on his stories (Stand By Me, The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption). I’m not generally into sci-fi or paranormal and I definitely don’t enjoy downright scary stuff, but those were all stories I enjoyed. And for all the crazy stuff he writes, Stephen KIng is a surprisingly normal guy. In this book he gave a lot of great advice for aspiring writers, so if that’s you, I highly recommend reading it.

Last night I stayed up super late reading The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. I had to stay up late in order to finish it before the library loan ended, but also I just had to know how it ended! This was a great book based on a true story and was extremely thought provoking. Worth a read, for sure.

I think that’s all for now, folks. The month of May is crawling along while I hide away in my little turtle shell. Until I poke my head out again, I wish you all well!

School is back in session

This past week has been a challenging week. I was hit with some pretty crummy news on Friday, but I’m dealing with the situation and am trusting God at every step along the way. Pray for me, if you would.

We recently informed the kids they could no longer play video games all day long. From the hours of 10 am to 3 pm on weekdays, they are not allowed to be playing video games. Instead, they need to be cleaning their rooms, completing their regular weekly chores, and doing schoolwork. If all those things are done and they are feeling bored, they are welcome to do extra chores, take the dog for a walk, read a book, etc. Now if they have everything done and they’ve not given us any attitude, we are willing to negotiate extra video game time. Because we’re not monsters, usually.

We’ve known that the teachers at our kids’ schools have been working feverishly to establish online learning programs for the kids, so we’ve been warning them that the corona-vacation is ending any day now. Well, that day has come. We received instructions from all the teachers this week, and tomorrow morning we’ll have our first round of online meetings with teachers. I’m excited that the kids will have something to be working on that’s more engaging then say, Minecraft and Roblox, but I’m so nervous about how this new format is going to work. This is new for everyone so I’m hopeful that we can all be patient and gracious with each other. Again, pray for me.

I don’t know if I had mentioned, but we are still meeting for Bible Study Fellowship, only we meet on Zoom in order to comply with the social distancing. It’s worked out rather well, but I do miss seeing my ladies in person. We only have one week left as a group, and that makes me kind of sad, but relieved at the same time. Especially with this online learning for the kids ramping up. I had decided back around the Christmas break that I wouldn’t be returning next year to be a group leader, but I haven’t told my group yet. I don’t think they’ll care much. People hardly ever get assigned to the same discussion leader. And Lord willing, they’ll still see me around at regular Wednesday classes.

Oh my gosh, y’all. It snowed yesterday. Seriously. I woke up to see the ground covered in white stuff. It was a crazy day. And then here in Michigan we had a bunch of people protesting at the Capitol, which is all political nonsense that I try very hard not to get mixed up in. I absolutely despise politics and I know that probably makes me less of a grown-up, but I don’t care. I just want to stick my fingers in my ears (or just take off my cochlear implants, HA!) and pretend for awhile that it’s not as screwed up as it is. Don’t ask me how I went from snow in April to politics. All of it’s bizarre, and beyond comprehension. Moving on.

I have done almost no writing throughout this quarantine business because, well, it’s hard to write when your mind is distracted by a global pandemic. So I hear. What I’ve been doing instead is reading books and listening to podcasts. I’m actually finishing books I had started but was unable to finish in time. I recently finished The Boys in the Boat, The Greatest Generation, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, The Glass Castle, and Know My Name. Many of the books have been audio versions, which I find refreshing because they give my eyes a rest, and I can crochet while I’m “reading”. True multi-tasking!

The other hobby I have, at night when I’m too tired to do much of anything, is watching tv on my laptop (the smaller screen helps so I can see most of what’s going on while I read the captions). I have discovered an absolute gem for mental health and getting to sleep at night – Golden Girls reruns on Hulu. Check it out, and let me know if it doesn’t make you smile.

I’m hoping to get out this weekend and run a Bob Ross themed virtual 5k. We shall see. I haven’t run that far in awhile so it might end up to be a lot of walking. The original plan was to run this with friends, but now that we have shelter in place orders, that’s no longer an option. So I’m just going to run three laps around my neighborhood, and call that a race. I may even wear the bib!

I hope you are all doing well, and are safe and healthy. If you’re feeling a little lonely and blue, watch some Golden Girls. They’ll never let you down.

Slowing down has its perks

When times are tough it helps to look at the positive right? The proverbial silver lining. So here is my list of things I’ve enjoyed about this mandated social distancing:

  1. All meetings are held online, so I don’t need to concern myself with arranging rides.
  2. More time to crochet blankets, hats and coasters.
  3. More time to read the ridiculously long list of library books I’ve started reading and wasn’t able to finish before the loan expired.
  4. I don’t have to arrange the family dinner around evening activities.
  5. I can make breakfast for my family on Saturday mornings.
  6. Walks around the neighborhood with my kids (well, so far 1 kid and the dog).
  7. Running nearly every day.

I feel like last all last week I had a lot to say, a lot to blog about, but it didn’t feel right to publish anything just yet. I wanted to hold it close for awhile and see how I felt about things first. The first part of the week was busy because we had to do all our BSF meetings online. It was a little nerve-wracking but it all worked out very well. The second part of the week was a whole lot of nothing, giving me more time to really process the gravity of the situation we are all in. So now I’m feel a little less unsettled. Now I can comfortably get back to boring you all with my daily minutiae. I’ll probably keep talking about running, crocheting, and maybe even about the books I’m reading. I’m sure I’ll throw some tidbits in regarding the dog too. Be on the lookout!

2nd Mondays

It just occurred to me that today was in fact Tuesday, not Monday. I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten those two days mixed up before. If that tells you anything about where my head is at. To use a phrase from Teri Garr’s character in Mr. Mom, I’ve been feeling kind of floopy.

I have made some sloth like progress on my memoir, in that I’ve done more research on HOW to write one, and have almost settled on a writing program to keep all my notes and chapters, and I’ve started writing my outline. I will share it with all you readers because I love ‘ya:

I. Introduction
II. First Act
III. Second Act
IV. Third Act
V. Conclusion

I still need to write a one sentence premise that includes the character (me), the situation (loss of hearing and vision), and the lesson (still narrowing this down). And of course fill in all the blanks in the outline. I might take the advice I gleaned from one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird. She advises her writing students to use the following format when they are writing: ABDCE: Action, Background, Development, Climax, Ending. Which looks like more like the beginning of a workable outline, if you ask me.

So, I can’t say I’ve written anything lately, but I do feel like I’m making progress. And that is all that matters. I’m gonna knock this book out, bird by bird. You’d have to read the book to get the reference, and I highly recommend it if you are also a writer.

The other thing I’ve been up to is crocheting. I finished a nephew’s blanket and am already started on the next nephew’s. So far each kid has chosen very different colors from all the others so it’s been really fun to see how each blanket turns out. This one I’m working on is yellow and orange and with spring right around the corner, I’m in a springy sort of mood.

Or, I guess you could say I’m feeling floopy.

Reading and Running

Lately, I haven’t had anything very inspirational I’ve felt like writing. So I just haven’t been writing. For fear of boring you with all the details of my day to day. But the alternative to writing the mundane hodgepodge is to not write at all, and that’s maybe not great either. Because as I learned in a recent audio book I just finished “reading” (The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr, if you love science!), your brain is like a muscle. If you don’t use parts of it, they shrink and it becomes harder to access them down the road. So I’m exercising my writing muscle by writing even when I don’t have anything to write about. And as I’m writing, I’m sure something will come to mind. That’s always how it seems to work, anyway.

I’ve really been craving dark chocolate. I don’t know why I never keep any around the house.

I have not been running these past couple of weeks. I think after the bout of fatigue following Thanksgiving, I sort of fell out of the habit. I’m hoping to get back into it this weekend though. If the weather cooperates, of course. Treadmill running still sucks.

BUT! I do want to tell you how the Turkey Trot 5k went, but I want to be careful not to toot my own horn too loudly. So you know I was training, sort of, trying to increase my speed, and was hoping to beat my previous PR of 38:24. But even if I didn’t beat my PR, this was a memorable race. I ran it with my son, who is much faster than I am. I wished him luck and left him at the head of the pack with all the seriously fast runners, and scooted back as far as I could because I knew otherwise I would get trampled when the race started. This race was huge. I think the final count was around 5000 people. Maybe not large by other people’s standards, but it was by far the biggest 5k I had ever run. So with that many people the energy was pretty awesome.

The gun went off and I started running, and people immediately started zooming past me. I would have moved to the side to get out of the way, but I was so worried about tripping I stayed in the middle of the road where I knew there would be fewer potholes and cracks. Did I mention this was the first race I have ever run solo? No guide runners, no sign on my back to alert people that I was a deaf/blind runner. I had this sort of overwhelming sense – throughout the race – that I belonged there. That I was a real runner just like the rest of them. Note that I had not realized until this moment that I ever felt like I wasn’t one of them. So this was a brand new revelation, and I believe it is what propelled me forward, as fast as my feet would let me.

I was getting periodic updates from Runkeeper to tell me of my current speed, but I wasn’t paying attention enough to calculate what my average was looking like. I was just trying to enjoy the moment. So when I reached the finish and saw that my time was just coming up on 34 minutes, I was flabbergasted. My finish time was 34:03 – a full four minutes and 21 seconds faster than my last PR in May. I still don’t even understand how that is humanly possible. Not for me, at least, a woman with M.S. And certainly not in that short of a time period.

I’m still in a mild state of disbelief over the whole thing, but I’m now finally able to process it a bit more. I think the difference for that race, and my speed training on the treadmill leading up to it, is that I dared to run a pace that was just a bit past my comfort zone. Then when that felt comfortable, I pushed a little harder. So if I can just remember to push myself a little bit each time I’m out there, push the envelope so to speak, I know I can complete a full marathon next year, which is my next big running goal. I just have to be careful to be wise about it, and not push myself too hard or too fast. Know my limits, listen to my body and rest when it needs rest. I’ve learned so much this year about my capabilities, both mentally and physically, that I feel ready for this next step.

So I guess this post ended up being mostly about running. Sorry, not sorry. What else? Christmas is coming! I’m not ready, but who ever is? I’ll be ready when I need to be. I’ve been keeping busy with Bible Study Fellowship, bookkeeping for the church, and taking care of the home. Sadly the home sometimes takes a backseat to the other stuff but I’m working on fixing that. In my down time, my relaxing time, I’m doing a lot of crocheting and reading. I have a growing list of books I’ve started reading but couldn’t finish before the library’s digital copy expired, so I’m one by one working through knocking those off the Goodreads list. Not to say that like it’s a chore or anything. I still love my books.

That’s all for now folks! Tell me, what’s your favorite book to read over the holiday season?

Time Management

All the things. It’s just a challenge managing all the things. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it, but I’m gonna have to pray real hard about taking on this much again.

I had a long phone call last week with my disability insurance company to review my status. They just like to make sure I’m still unable to work. It’s always fun rehashing the details. She asked how driving was, which is funny, because it was 20 minutes into our conversation and I had already explained to her how bad my vision is. I need my family to read labels for me, I don’t think driving a car would be a wise idea. What stuck out to me about the phone call was at the very end when she asked me the primary reason I wasn’t able to work a full time job, and I answered without even really having to think about it: “because it would take me a week to accomplish what I used to be able to do in a day.” That statement essentially rang in my ears for the next few days. This is why I need to be patient with myself. Everyone around me is so gracious, yet I’m the last one to catch on.

So these responsibilities I’ve taken on over this past year, along with my normal household and mothering duties, are totally doable. One. Step. At. A. Time. I’m just going to keep at it and see how it goes. If I find that the important things are getting missed or done too late, then I know it’s too much and I need to scale back or reach out for help. But so far it seems like it’s been working well. I’m learning how to delegate as well as take breaks. It feels like a whole new way of looking at time management. New to me, at least.

I’m very much looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. We’ve always hosted, so there’s nothing new there, but this year my son and I signed up to run the Turkey Trot 5k in our city the morning of Thanksgiving. I saw that a neighbor of mine was attending, so I asked if we could tag along. I’m really looking forward to it, because this is an experience my son and I can share, even if he runs twice as fast as I do. Thanksgiving mornings are pretty low key for us anyway, because most of the prep work is done the day before. All we do is put the turkey in the oven and then wait for the family to arrive with the rest of the food.

I stopped taking the antibiotic for my rosacea and am using a medicated cleanser and cream instead. I got the cleanser late, because we were having trouble with the pharmacy, but I’ve had it for a few days now and I can tell already that it’s clearing up my skin. It’s made with sulfur so it smells not so awesome but I don’t mind. If it works, it’s worth it. I’m just happy to be off medication. The only pills I take now are vitamins and supplements, and that means it’s not the end of the world when I forget to take them. Which happens often. I’m trying to get a morning routing set with my powdered greens and my coffee, and hopefully now my vitamins too.

I’ve been reading a lot of good books lately. Most of the books I read are digital library books that I only get for a set amount of time, and I often forget to read them until they give me a 3 day warning that they are about to expire, so I have a collection of books I just didn’t finish in time. Which is why if you look at my Goodreads list, it looks like I’m reading like it’s my J.O.B., but really I’m only reading one at a time. Right now I’m reading (actually listening, cuz it’s an audio book) The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr and I’m only on chapter three but already it’s a little frightening. It’s about what the internet is doing to our brains, how it affects the way we think and process information. Very interesting so far.

I expect this weekend to be pretty chill so maybe I’ll take some time and work on writing my memoir. I was getting overwhelmed with the idea but stepping away from it seems to have helped, and I am more confident in my next steps. I’m going to focus less on the details of what happened for awhile and more on the ultimate message I want to thread through the book. Or maybe I’ll just re-read what I’ve written and fill in whatever comes to mind. Whatever I do, I understand now that writing a memoir can be a long and tedious process and the worst thing I can do is rush the process.

Tomorrow is our leader’s meeting for Bible Study Fellowship so I need to head off for now and start winding down. I hope you all survived your Monday and enjoy the rest of your week!

Living History

This story is coming a week or so late, and I do want to post about yesterday’s half marathon, but I just finished reading this book and I want to get this story posted while it’s still fresh in my mind.

After my last infusion a couple weeks ago I sat on the bench in front of the infusion center reading my latest library find, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. As I’m reading, the woman next to me asks me for the time. She too, is waiting for a ride home from our local paratransit service. I notice she has a slight accent and I ask her where she’s from. She’s from Latvia, she tells me, and asks me if I know it. I regrettable do not, as geography was never my strong subject. She proceeds to tell me all the surrounding areas, and I ask her more about her story, what brought her here to America. This opened up a big can of worms.

The woman was happy to share, not at all shy, about her experience. She lived through World War II. Her family was driven from their home in Latvia because her father owned land and the Germans wanted it. My dad tells me this was common during the war. This woman sitting next to me told me how she worked in slave camps during her teen years, until her family was able to escape to a refugee camp in Sweden. She came to America in 1950 and she’s been here ever since.

As we were talking, the paratransit van arrived and it turned out we were on the same van because we lived near each other. Our conversation continued until we arrived at her home.

It was incredible to talk with her, and I just wished we had longer together. But even in that short time we were given I learned that she is a survivor, though she was quick to deny it. She has PTSD from her experience. And because she subsisted much of that time on soy beans, she still can’t eat anything with soy. She smiles as she tells me that even soy sauce is unbearable. Those odors bring back horrific memories that she can’t bear, even all these years later. I tell her she is a survivor because she kept going when many others did not. She keeps going even now, as she suffers the residual effects of the trauma she lived through.

Her name is Mitsy. She has a precious cat who loves to greet her at the door and she looks fabulous in her big floppy red hat. Mitsy is a survivor. Living, breathing history. I thank God that I had the privilege of that brief ride home with her. It was an encounter that left an indelible mark on my heart.

Short Runs

Post run puppy kisses

Today’s short run was fantastic! Barely had to walk at all, and foot drop feels like just a thing of the past. I can’t believe I’m calling 4 miles a short run, but I guess that just shows what progress I’ve made in this training process. What really struck me as interesting during this run is that my breathing was not labored, and I was still able to maintain a pace around 13 minutes per mile. The other exciting thing was that my feet and legs felt lighter, and my legs seemed almost like they were propelling me forward, almost wanting me to go faster. I had to fight that urge, because that’s what landed me on my face last time. The cooler weather is nice too. Overall it was just a really great run, and I feel like I’m finding my rhythm, my groove.

The thing that has me a little perplexed is Friday’s scheduled run. My plan has me running 12 miles. TWELVE MILES! Aside from that being a really freaking long distance for me to run, I don’t even know WHERE I could run from my house that could get me to 6 miles, so that running there and back would bring me to twelve. I do have a decent 8 mile route, 4 out and back, so I guess I could shorten it to 3 miles out and back and just run it twice. That’s 12, right? I’m making a huge deal about that number, but I am curious to see how my body holds up to it, since I’ll be running 13.1 in just 25 days EEK!

I don’t know if you can tell in the photo above, but Piper is wearing a hoodie. Luke has one he wears with the sleeves cut off and the kids thought it would be fun to put it on the dog. Turns out, she doesn’t hate it, and it really seems to calm her down. She’s a high anxiety dog, and when we told our vet about the sweater, she said she would really benefit from a thunder coat, which would fit her better since they are designed specifically for dogs. So we’ve looked at them and will probably buy one for her soon. In other news, I added a pet category to our monthly budget so we can stop using our food budget to buy Kong balls and dog treats. HA!

Now I’m going to let you go because I have banana bread in the oven and the heavenly smell has me wanting to snuggle up in my recliner with a cup of coffee and a good book. Have a great day, friends!

What day is it?

It’s been that kind of week. I’ve been confused about the day all week. But, all for good reason. None of it is because I’m drunk, so I’ve got that going for me. Not being drunk is always a plus.

But also, I’ve just had a lot of great things going on! My son’s baseball season is in full swing (excuse my accidental pun), I was able to visit with several really great friends this past week, and the weather is warming up so we leave the doors and windows open and the breeze and the birds chirping is it’s own kind of intoxicating. Let me just note here how truly grateful I am to be able to hear those things, the breeze and the birds. Cochlear implants for the win.

My son had some friends over for a sleepover last night to celebrate his birthday (he’s 12!!) and that was fun and not terribly crazy. He has some really great friends. It’s funny to think back on previous year’s birthday parties and how much anxiety I felt leading up to each one. Overwhelming anxiety. This time? None. Zilch. Nada. And I don’t know if that’s because the kids are older or if I’m in a better state of mental health but I suspect it’s a bit of both. I know it’s a lot of the latter though, because I can’t even remember the last time I had an anxiety attack. And that there is another reason to be grateful.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. Tons. It might not seem like it because it doesn’t always make it here on the blog but my mind is constantly in a state of gathering ideas and formulating posts in my head. I just finished a book about writing by Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, and I’m convinced now more than ever that deep down, I am A Writer. It’s what I long to do, nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I wake up and think, “what did I just dream about? I could write about it.” I want to keep writing, whether anyone is reading or not, because maybe one day I will write something that touches someone in a good way and makes their life a little better than the day before. I can only hope.

So. Today is Saturday. Most of the day has been extremely relaxing. A lot of cleaning up from the slumber party and then just your regular putzing around. I took a wicked nap, ended abruptly by the dog barking her head off when hubby came home from an afternoon at the shooting range. I’m pretty sure I jumped a couple feet straight up from the bed.

I did go for a run yesterday with a friend, but my knee started hurting in the 3rd mile, so I know I still have some healing to do from when I messed it up a week or so ago. I’m pretty confident it’s IT Band Syndrome, but I think it might be a good idea to see a sports therapist to check it out and give me some pointers on my running form. Also, I need more strength training if I’m really going to do this half marathon without damaging myself, so I’m looking at getting back to CrossFit. I had sort of slithered out of going a few months ago so I’m in contact with the trainer to see if she’ll forgive me for going dark on her and let me come back.

Tomorrow is Sunday! Back to church, and this week we’re working in the kids’ church so I get to play with the little ones. I miss hearing the sermons but I do love the babies. I can never understand what they are saying but a couple of them know some basic ASL so that helps a lot.

I was going to sign off but then I was looking through my pictures and see that so much happened and I totally forgot to blog about it! Like the Walk MS, and maybe other things. I’ll get to it. Pinky promise. Let’s talk again soon.

Reading in my sleep

I read most of my books on the Kindle app because i can change the coloring so that its easier to see. Sometimes I’ll check out a large print book at the library, just because I miss holding a real book, turning the pages as I go. Swiping left on a screen just isn’t the same, you know?

Last night, as I do most nights, I read from my Kindle in bed. This morning I slept so hard I slept through two alarms and missed my chance to run before the heat of the sun showed up. So I slept pretty hard. I must have been pretty tired. Want to know how I know? I opened up my book just now and the bookmark was in a totally different chapter, far past where I remember reading. So I guess I did quite a bit of reading in my sleep last night.

I’ll be swiping right for awhile, until I find a familiar page…