How many likes is too many?

lahgitana:

Having trouble with the WP Like button?! This post might ‘splain things. Also, you can wander through evocative photos of the rather achingly scenic Cornwall area in the southwest of England. Too, they’ve been having summer these last several days! >:-D

Originally posted on Cornwall Photographic:

I need to apologise for apparently not visiting your blogs lately.  I have been, only my presence has not been registering.  I liked too many of your posts in too short a time frame apparently.  This is what happened.  Not wanting blogging to totally dominate every waking hour, I thought I could perhaps spend a few hours, a couple of times a week, going through your blogs, I thought I’d cracked the blog/life equation.

However, WordPress had other ideas.  In order to prevent what the ‘Happiness Engineers’ term ‘Spam likers’, you can only press the like button so many times within a given time frame before your like button becomes inoperable and you are labelled – spam liker.  How many likes this is and what the time frame is, I don’t know and WordPress aren’t telling me but my like button has been disabled for some time now.  I’ve been…

View original 296 more words

work

I started in April to move toward work again.  In thought.  Shaped my request to the Universe:  when I’m ready, about 10 hours a week at a certain pay rate, knowing that 10 hours would be punishing, but possible.

A few weeks ago I got a call for a short-term temp gig this week.  I’ve worked with the client on the same project beginning about two months before the hospital mess.  The caller wondered–would I be interested in more temp gigs?  Yes, with the understanding that I’m recovering from long-term illness and unable to work 8-hour days.   About 3 to 4 hours a day?  Yes.

On Tuesday when I got home after 3-1/2 hours at work, I sobbed the brain-fatigue out of me.  Then, spent 6 hours lying down reading (=resting).  Was able to make lunch.

Yesterday when I got home after 3 hours at work, was doing better–no sobbing until Big Mister rightly asked me to do something.  Then, my response was like being poked at with a sharp stick, the end anointed with poison.  My head throbs with fatigue, my eyes blink too slowly.  I want to lie down and just stop.

Just over a year ago, four months out of hospital, I wrote about my bubble theory of recuperation, back when thinking was a full-time exercise, often in futility.  It’s still there, my bubble that indicates when I’ve surpassed my tolerance of stimulation, of being alive to the world.

The fatigue smothers and terrifies.  Smother now, terrify later:  an advert I recommend you don’t respond to.  The terrify part is wondering what will happen to me in a few days, knowing how tired I am now, how foggy and far away.  The crashes are painful to the point of considering giving up, ceding responsibility for my life and my part in anyone else’s life.  To feel calm, to dab at paint, pet the cats.

Ceding won’t make things better.  Life would become harder, which is not that difficult to imagine.  I know in my guts what “hard” means.  Often I wonder why I’m not daily vomiting up the anguish.

I need to summon courage as I go back for another 3-hour block this morning.  I need to tell the client that I’m done for the week, that I get tired very easily and it’s time for a break until next week.  Behind those statements is fear:  fear that I’ll miss this chance to return to the working world where I earn money in order to keep our house.

One more request for the Universe:  please help me present myself coherently, cogently, and confidently.  Don’t let ‘em see me sweat.

But strangely enough, when I can become still, I also find the voice of my faith that everything will come in the right order, that I’ll be presented with and take the correct steps to continue moving forward to the less-foggy.  I may teeter on the edge of a crash, but maybe it won’t happen.  I won’t know if I don’t try.

healing powers of expressive writing: James Pennebaker

I’ve been wanting to write about Pennebaker’s “healing powers of expressive writing” ever since Isobel left a tantalizing link in a comment back in April.

Since my energies and brain-power wax and wane, I’ve been waiting to be ready to write an informative post.  Ain’t gonna happen.  The being ready.  Why wait to share?  (As it is, I am struggling here….)

To get started, go read the short article, please, linked in the next paragraph.   For more information, see below at “more info.”

For nearly 20 years, Dr. James W. Pennebaker has been giving people an assignment: write down your deepest feelings about an emotional upheaval in your life for 15 or 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days. Many of those who followed his simple instructions have found their immune systems strengthened. Others have seen their grades improved. Sometimes entire lives have changed.”

As regular readers know, illness has changed my abilities in reading and comprehension.  The good news is that back in May when I was still mired in bad muck, I could understand the intent and instructions in Pennebaker’s assignment.   No special writing ability is necessary.  Note the wisdom about being ready to write about a particular moment.  Smart.

I printed out the two callouts from that first link to use as my instructions.

callouts

two callouts I used as my instructions
source:  http://www.utexas.edu/features/2005/writing/

✍  ✍  ✍  ✍  ✍

more info

Truly, it is worth wandering through.  (Each link will open in a new tab.)

James Pennebaker’s home page at the University of Texas.  At the bottom, see the links, some of which include online exercises.  A sampling:

Enhanced guidelines for healing writing, still short, but with a little more to think about.

Insight into your own use of language:  http://secretlifeofpronouns.com/exercises.php.

The Online Research Consortium.  University of Texas psych research being conducted online–we’re the guinea pigs.  Questionnaires out the gazoo.  Painless.  Anonymous.  Kinda fun.

The BBC Radio 4 programme introducing Pennebaker’s research.

✍  ✍  ✍  ✍  ✍

I found all those links after I tried the expressive writing.  That’s me anyway–get the gist of something and full steam ahead!

(Here’s a link to the discussion that Isobel and I had.  At the end of the comments.  Thanks, Isobel.)

I’d really like to hear what you think!

around the garden

Click on any photo to bigify.

heat wave

We’re still in the heat for another day or so.  Around 90°F (32°C) today again.   Early this morning I walked through our fairly shaded neighborhood to a post box and noticed that the breeze was coming from the west, which is good news.

Over the last few days, any wind was coming from the south, as in Desert Southwest, where the hot air has been parked.  When the wind comes from the west, it means the air is coming from the ocean currents, bringing cooler air, instead of the hot air from the overheated interior land mass.

Desert Southwest:  that's HOT!

Desert Southwest: that’s HOT! (46°C)

Yaaaay.  Subdued I am by the heat and by the efforts to keep the house cool.  I was never meant to live in the heat, but my years in Tucson taught me how to manipulate air currents, curtains, sun blocks, fans, and swamp coolers.    (And, of course, now I have my portable air conditioner.  Thanks, Ma!)

It always helped that I was outdoors despite the 100-deg heat.   Often in the 9,000-ft mountains above Tucson, tootling up the switchback road in the red 1965 VW convertible Bug, always getting a vapor lock after we’d hit some cool elevation.  <:-D

gigantic red sunflower

gigantic red sunflower

One October, I moved directly from Tucson to Anchorage, and as I paused at the top of the mobile stairway parked next to the plane, seeing the mountains and ocean that surrounded the city, I knew soul-deep I had come home.   True that I panicked slightly at the 45°F (7°C) temp that greeted me.

That winter I learned about cold, with a stretch of two weeks of -20°F (-28°C).  I brought with me the love and need to be outdoors and discovered that I loved to be outdoors in the cold:  camping, skiing, mountaineering.  I will always know how to live in the cold with little thought or strained effort.

my happy Alaska place at my dresser

my happy Alaska place at my dresser

happy in the mountains at 10°F!  A Raven friend.

happy in the mountains at 10°F! A Raven friend.

 

 

 

Dear Ma, Thanks for the air conditioner!

a rose for Ma

a rose for Ma

We’re enduring a very humid heat wave.  Ugh.  I left Arizona eons ago and hate heat!  The humidity is an unwelcome bonus.

But Mom gave me a fabulous air conditioner for my 50th birthday some years ago.  The a/c saved my sanity then and now.  Probably saved Big Mister’s sanity because it saved mine.  If you get my drift.

Thanks, Ma!

reblog: Toni DeBella, Rick Steves, and The Food Police in Italy

Very funny (while informative) video produced by Toni DeBella, a blogger (Orvieto or Bust) who has relocated her life to Orvieto, Italy.

location of Orvieto, Italy

location of Orvieto, Italy

Rick Steves, a travel consultant, is based in my state and is well-known for helping Americans be smart and courteous European travelers.  I had a bunch o’ Rick’s info packed for my Italy trip that didn’t happen.

There are apparently four videos in The Food Police series, but I did start with the Rick Steves episode at the link (below).  It’s only 9 minutes long, well worth watching (loved Rome’s cobbled side streets).  The other episodes are shown at the link, too.  Only about 3-something minutes each.

Rick Steves in My Inbox

volcano gawkers

We live along a part of the Pacific Rim of Fire, a seismically active horseshoe of volcanoes and earthquakes.   Well before I lived here, in May 1980, Mt St Helens, one of the local conical volcanoes erupted so strongly that it exploded cataclysmically upward and outward, destroying 14 percent of its peak and devastating about 150 to 200 square miles of forested land.

Here’s a very short video that shows the before and after shape of the mountain (with amusing musical accompaniment).  Here’s a National Geographic gallery of pics.  Our pics upcoming will show only the after.

Last Friday we took the camper to a park about 50 miles from Mt St Helens, just to get out of Dodge for a few days.   Almost as an afterthought the next day, we decided to drive the 50-mile road that winds toward the summit and go nose around.

The only other time we’d been here was heavily overcast with no chance of seeing this volcano.  I’ve flown over the area many times, so have seen the destroyed peak and bleak landscape from 30,000 feet.  Our Saturday was clear and warm.

Herewith, perhaps too many photos to illustrate those 8 hours we messed about.  (N.B.  Click on any photo in a section and they’ll get bigger!)

We continued tootling up the road, along sections of the Toutle River that were devastated in the explosion.

For the gawkers, the smart powers-that-be constructed many waysides and several complex interpretive centers.  I kept wondering about having to rebuild if the mountain blew again….  We’re a peculiar species.  I digress.

bunker potty--I'm trying to imagine the request for proposal:  need blast-proof potty in case the mountain blows again

bunker potty near the end of the road–I’m trying to imagine the request for proposal: need blast-proof potty in case the mountain blows again.  Maybe we’re supposed to hide in their for a few weeks?!

We found a wayside about 20 miles (?) away from the mountain, just a parking lot with three interpretive signs, no facilities, and a knock-em-dead view of the peak and surrounding terrain.   We had the camper (with a potty!).  We lingered.  Had lunch al fresco, had naps, and I did laundry because I dumped a cup of tomato juice right into my only bag of clothes.  Sigh… !!

Our final view of the mountain at that spot:

late afternoon and the clouds bathe the broken peak

late afternoon and the clouds bathe the broken peak

The clouds continued to thicken.   Sunday the cloud deck was so low that there was no hint of a peak.   Weren’t we smart to go up the road on Saturday?!

We took kitty Calpurrnia with us because she needs three medicines twice a day, though we’d rather leave her home with Ooper.  They probably snuggle up when we’re not looking.  …  Nah…  Not sure how much longer she’ll be with us, our old girl, and it grieves me deeply to think of her fuzzy tortoise-shell self absent.

The camper road trips are quite demanding of me, but I recover faster now, which inspires lasting hope instead of mere pockets clung to in desperation.

magic food finger

Our blue-eyed BuddyBoop, whose name has migrated to such sobriquets as Ooper and OopityBoopity, is a wee bit cross-eyed.  He stands by his full food bowl and looks up at Big beseechingly and often mewls once quietly:  “Oh Monkey-Boy, I’m still a starving kitten and the food bowl is empty.”

Big has learned to stir the food with his Magic Food Finger.  OopityBoopity indicates his gratitude and has a snack out of the newly-filled bowl.

If the Magic Food Finger is not employed in the evenings, the 15-pounder jumps on me as I sleep and then stands on me.   The pain of focused pounds per square inch exerted by four cat paws cannot be underestimated.

BuddyBoop the Marshmallow

BuddyBoop the Marshmallow

honeysuckle and friends

A few brilliant and scented flowers for my storm-battered buddies.  Any kind of storm qualifies. More

Day’s End

Day’s End:  a companion piece to the Sunrise monoprint collage.

Day’s End
16×20-inch canvas (40×50 cm)

here is Sunrise once more:

Sunrise:  monoprints with acrylic paint

Sunrise
16×20-inch canvas (40×50 cm)

chocolate gingerbread

Happy Sunday (breakfast?!)!

A little quick baking late yesterday–a very easy chocolate gingerbread cake.  Spicy, chocolatey aroma, and not overly sweet.

chocolate gingerbread

chocolate gingerbread

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

(adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine – December 2008)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare bundt pan–nonstick spray or butter and flour.  (With a dark cake, I prefer to dust the buttered pan with unsweetened cocoa powder, so the light-colored flour doesn’t mar the appearance of the crust.)

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup hot coffee
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda

3 large eggs
1/2 cup dark molasses

2 cups all purpose flour (10 oz) (I used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1-1/2 c white.)

*powdered sugar for dusting

In a small bowl, stir coffee and cocoa powder until smooth – set aside.

Cream butter, oil, and sugar until it is nice, white, and fluffy (it should look like whipped cream) for 3 minutes using a mixer.

Add ginger, cloves, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda.

Add eggs and molasses – mixing for a minute.

Finally add flour and coffee/chocolate mixture and beat for a few minutes.

Scrape batter from all sides including the bottom and mix again for another minute.

Pour batter into a bundt pan.

Bake for 60 minutes.  Allow cake to cool for 8 minutes before shaking the sides loose and inverting it onto a cake plate.

Dust cake with powdered sugar.

____________

I think we’re sposta let the cake cool, but we didn’t!  Sliced it with a bread knife.  It was wonderful hot and the rest of the cake didn’t fall apart!

_______________________________

Also, I was not careful in my attribution, so one thousand apologies to the original source.  We know it’s from Bon Appetit, but I don’t know who adapted it!  Surely, I shall now go to publications hell.

expressive plywood pillowcase

Huh?!

 

One of my next steps is to seek memory exercises.

I did find memory exercises in one of my recent online discoveries–pretty sure they’d be good exercise for anyone’s brain.  Watch this space for more.  (Maybe!)

Oh?  The blog post title?  I have to remember to tell Big Mister about two of those things and the other will be post fodder.    I’ve always loved mnemonics (phonics, too!).    Apparently.

what kind of blogger do I want to be?

These late May days are better in character than days were just a couple of months ago:  much less weird-a&& anxiety, more calm response to life, rather than the blinding brain-meltdowns of the recent past.  Recognition, learning, adapting.  Continuing stubborn.  Continuing to push the limits and just try.

I have spent about 5 hours reading around a blog I found through a WP Reader search for “brain fog.”   Broken Brain – Brilliant Mind, is one person’s catalog and commentary about his own several (!) brain injuries.  (The author writes anonymously, so I am choosing the gender.)

He chronicles his own brain-specific moments through blogging, but he has also organized a library of sorts.  Hence, the 5 hours of reading.  Followed by exhausted resting in the afternoons.

My last injured 15 months have been chronicled here, not intentionally as blog fodder, but out of need to make some sense of me through the art of writing.    For which I am deeply grateful now that I’ve discovered the battering my short-term memory took.

I began this blog because I simply had to write.  I still want this blog to be about giving an account of myself in discovering the world.  I am more than the walking wounded, but I do not do as much as I did back at the start of the blog in July 2011, so have fewer topics to wander around in.  I don’t want this blog to devolve into solely a traipse through a brain injury; although it will include those meanders, how much I don’t know right now.

It is apparently my time to discover and implement resources for healing, and especially, adapting.  One discovery in this online reading has been the documented phenomenon of cognitive fatigue.

Another is an entire book dedicated to “self-therapy” for brain injury, a thorough discussion of brain injury with the goal of creating one’s own healing process because we are the only ones who can know how things are working internally.

(Though, I am somewhat amused to be wanting to edit the book’s structure to make it more brain-friendly.  Hint:  paragraph breaks give us a chance to breathe and absorb!  Or:  my, that’s a lot of solid blocks of text there when your audience may have difficulty following!)

Those two finds alone validate my many months of solo journeying back from the brink and discovering a scrambled brain, where before illness was a very powerful, cognitively adept brain, able to learn just about anything (except calculus).

I’m tired out now from reading so much about brain injury.  Can I have a rueful laugh from the audience, please?

The answer to my blog post title is that my blogging and my life must be full of variety, so that is my goal.  I don’t yet have the how, but I will have faith that I will keep making the right choices in order to discover the steps back to a fuller life.

four springtimes for my lilac to recover

When we bought our house in April 2008 (OK, rented it from the bank), the front yard was tidy:

front grass yard 2008

front yard grass 2008

In February 2010, I was made redundant and went to town on the front yard, working fast and hard for several months because I knew I’d be back to work in no time (that didn’t happen):

after the sod cutter:  bye-bye grass!

after the sod cutter: bye-bye grass!

Near the front wheel of that purple bicycle is the scraggly lilac that had languished in a pot for years.  The roots were terribly pot-bound.  <:-{

Note in the picture above that Big Mister had already built the pergola for me, seen here (in a blast from the past digression) using the manly-man machine:

Big Mister and the Augur

Big Mister and the Augur

monster machine

monster machine

We now return from our digression.

In the chill of March 2010, I started transplanting from my root-bound pots right away, after hauling cubic yards of soil all round that 900 square feet:

first year garden

first year garden

first year coming along

first year coming along: the scraggly, transplant-shocked lilac is vaguely under the purple bicycle. (That window to the right of the red-flowering shrub became the viewing spot from my recuperation room.)

Ah, the garden grows in a bit:

second year garden (?)

second year (?) garden, with bowling balls atop rebar as hose guides.

[I'd already painted the (unlovely) front door orangey-red, too, which helped!]

Standing on a ladder at the front sidewalk:

front yard "aerial" view

front yard “aerial” view

The lilac still was unhappy last year:

turns out, the lilac does hate me!  it only has ONE blossom!

it only had ONE blossom!

I had a plan when I planted the lilac at the top of the garden:  I wanted that fragrant, shade-providing view to be near the front door so that my steps would be slowed by the scent and the sight.

The lilac and I have a lot in common.  Once we have room to breathe, leave us to get ourselves untangled and we start to blossom.

This spring, right now:

lilac near the front step

lilac near the front step

lilac anchors its bed 2013

lilac anchors its bed 2013

lilac blossoms once again!

lilac blossoms once again!

[there's the front door orangey-red (poppy!) with a great glass-fronted storm door.]

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