Saturday, May 27, 2017

**REVIEW** Merrell Women's Jungle Moc Slip-On

Before I start this review, I'm going to repeat a couple of things. Things you guys are probably SO tired of hearing:

  1. I have bad feet.
  2. I am about to be traveling
Okay. Got it out of my system. I didn't say point out either of those things to be annoying; they are actually pertinent to this review.

My best sneakers (tennis shoes, or whatever you want to call my Sketchers) finally broke down. The wear and tear a fat person can put on shoes in incredible. I can say this because I am fat. My fat is due to medications (mostly) but, whatever the deal, I am fat. I am a fatty mac fat-fat (as one of my nieces and I often say jokingly).

This all meant that I am going to be the fat chick on the plane, wearing my gut-tucking tank top under my shirt so that I look a little less chunky. 

I am going to be the chick huffing my way through the airport, praying that my boarding gates are close to security so that I don't break out in sweats the way we fat people tend to do when under strain, stress, or the slightest exertion.

I will definitely be the fat lady who's glaring at all the well-proportioned ladies who aren't  having the fat sweats. Like it's their fault that I'm packing around these extra pounds. (Thank goodness that I'm not so fat that an airplane seat is uncomfortable. That's a big deal with me.)

Now, I can't do anything about this fat situation in time for the trip, but I was determined to do something about my feet. Or, rather, my shoes.

My Sketchers were very comfortable, but they only lasted about a year. Now, no matter how many comfy insoles I stuff inside them, there is no denying that the shoes just aren't great for prolonged periods of walking. Plus, adding insoles only makes the shoes fit too tight for comfort. Kind of defeats the purpose, right?

So... I went shoe shopping the other week. I found some affordable shoes that weren't comfortable. I found some sort of comfy shoes that weren't affordable. Then a friend told me about a shoe that she prefers.

Merrell Jungle Moc
That's a pair of Merrell Women's Jungle Moc Slip-ons.

It's not a bad-looking shoe, but all I care about at this point is how comfortable they are. And, actually, it's an ugly shoe unless you have really petite feet - not these big ol' size 8 dawgs I have. (Even my feet spread when I gained this weight. I've gone from a 7 to a 7.5 to a, depending on the shoe, an 8.)

Since I will be gone from Anchorage before my birthday next month, my friend decided to early gift me some of these Merrell's. So we go to the shop where she usually gets hers. She ordered me not to look at the price tags, just to pick a color. I chose a tan pair and ask the clerk to bring me a Size 8 to try. My friend nudged me and told the clerk to bring out a Size 9 also. 

"Just in case," she said.

 "Just in case of what?" 

"I'll bring them both right out," the clerk told us.

Of course, I tried on the Size 8's first. They fit. If I held my breath and scrunched my toes under. The shoes felt like a Size 6.6 or maybe a narrow 7. 

Image result for Merrell Women's Jungle Moc Slip On

"They just tend to fit small," the clerk said, She was trying to be nice, but I wanted to kick her. My feet hurt too bad though.

I tried on the Size 9's. They did fit. They were a bit tight but I didn't have to do toe contortions or hold back tears. 

Both the clerk and my friend said that the shoes would fit even better after some wear. According to them, the shoe loosens up and "becomes custom-like". Noticing that the shoe was suede, this sounded true to me.  But, since I had to get a 9, I switched from the tan to black, hoping the color would make my feet look smaller. They didn't. Not really.

As vain as I can sometimes be, I did consider trying on a Size 9.5 but the clerk and my friend said that wouldn't be good. Because these shoes should break in to better fit my feet. A larger size, they both insisted, would not be a good idea in the long run. 

I walked around, testing out the shoes while my friend took care of the bill. They were lots comfier than my broken down and beat up Sketchers. 

Basically, I can tell you that the best feature of these shoes is the nice thick sole. On the other hand, they tend to feel heavy. Sturdy, yes, but heavy. The soles are very comfortable, but the fit remains tight after two weeks of wear. 

What I realized after I'd worn them outside (making them non-returnable) is that outside upper of the shoe is suede. The inner part of the upper is synthetic. Synthetic might stretch - after a TON of wear, but for now, the shoe is still snug. (By the way, there is a sneaky reason that most shoe stores have carpeting!)

If it weren't for the comfort of the insole, I would hate these shoes.  They are heavy and I'm going to have to work hard to break them in. Also, these are not true "slip-on" shoes. The fit is too tight for you to simply slip these on. After the first week, they are easier to put on, but I still can't just slip into them like I could regular Crocs or moccasins. 

Since these were a gift, I really didn't think to look at the price while my friend and I were in the store. I thought that they cost around $40 to maybe, just maybe, $60. When I was checked so that I could write a review, I discovered that the price is $80. I almost cried. For $80, I want to love these shoes. And perhaps I will, in time. For now, I just kind of like them. They are better than my raggedy Sketchers.

I'm so grateful to have friends thoughtful enough to really care about my needs. My friend could have just gone and picked out some random and nice gift, but she seriously considered what I needed. Talk about being blessed with good people in my life!

Because we are friends, I was honest with her about the shoes. She still thinks that I am going to love them by the time I travel. She has her pair and two other styles from the brand and swears she won't go out of her way to buy anything else. So there is hope for me with these shoes. Still, the next time I shoe shop, I'm going back to some Sketchers or some other affordable brand.

Summing things up:
Pros -
  • Thick sole
  • Thick insole
  • Suede exterior outer
  • Should take a lot of wear (even for heavy people)
  • Fairly comfortable
Cons -
  • Pricey - in-store or online, doesn't matter.
  • Runs very small & tight. A women's 9 feels like a large 7 or small 8
  • The heel grip is very tight 
  • Synthetic interior upper
  • Heavy. More clunky with a work-boot feel than a slip-on
  • Doesn't really 'slip on' due to tight fit
  • Have to break the shoe in and part is synthetic
  • Price!
  • Price!
Despite my friend's extreme love of this shoe (and my mild liking), I think these are very overrated. Maybe it's because they are pricey and that's what some people like? Maybe in a few more weeks, my pair will be broken in and better fitting, but that is just too much work for such a pricey shoe.

Merrell shoes are, I believe, a brand people either love or hate. Until the shoes get broken in, I don't think there is much in between. 


Friday, May 19, 2017

**REVIEW** Windows 10 Creators Update

There was a lot of buzz about this last year:

Image result for windows creators update

It's no longer on the way. It's here.

By the way, I kind of need this to be an open letter/apology to Microsoft but I'm embarrassed at my own ineptness. Let me explain:

I am part of the Windows Insiders Program (don't ask me how or why I got myself signed into that). In general, this is kind of cool because I get to preview different Windows products. It's when I get down to specifically using some of the products that there are problems. And this is not always (or even mostly) because of the product. I take the blame for 99% of my frustrations. No, that's not entirely true. What I blame is my cognitive confusion. Some of you know that I struggle with this issue but, when I tell you about my experience with the MS update, you might really start to understand the "cognitive confusion" impacts me on a daily basis.

(Consider this post a sort of "Dummies View Review" if you will!)

Yesterday, I got a reminder that I was eligible to update to the Creators version of Windows. That reminder was very clear and precise but all my brain picked up on at the time was "update". When I hit the button to install, I was expecting the usual security updates that we've all been seeing so much of the past several days. I figured the update had something to do with all the malware and PC attacks. Now, I did briefly flash on the "Creators" part of the wording, but ~shrug~. Here are the highlights of getting the update and then using it.

Takes a while to download/install. Quite a while

I was doing some packing and cleaning for my upcoming move so I didn't pay attention to my PC once the updated started. After about an hour, though, I glanced over and noticed that the install was still running (and was only at about 35% or something like that). That struck me as a little odd, but I still shrugged it off.

Now, remember that I've also been having serious cell phone problems. The dang thing shuts down and restarts whenever it feels like it, regardless of what I might be using the phone for. All my family and close friends are no longer surprised when our calls drop or I just sort of disappear in the middle of a text conversation. (I think this all has to do with a software update that got interrupted). That's not really important, but I want you to realize that I was dealing with my phone for the next half hour or so. I forgot all about the computer and the Windows update.

Almost 2 hours go by before the update is finished. That's when I realize this was no ordinary update.

I get a Welcome screen and an offer from Cortana to help set up. Unfortunately, my phone did something strange (or maybe just stranger than usual) and started making a long uninterrupted buzzing noise. I had to deal with that and by the time I finished, my PC had shut down. I restarted and that's when I realized I had something more than the usual update.

The Edge browser is a lot cooler than before.

The first thing I see is the new and improved Edge (browser) page. And I like it. The look is very Chrome-looking and I prefer the look of Edge to Chrome.

(By the way, one thing that hasn't changed is that Edge still has the ugly Internet Explorer icon. Ugh.)

Edge was kind of nice pre-update but I liked Chrome too much to swap out. Now, I would totally use Edge on a regular basis. Except for one thing.

Changing cookie options is... impossible?

At least they are in my experience.

Since Edge had such a nice look (and all my Chrome bookmarks were transferred over - from when I tried out the original Edge), I was excited to use it. I came straight here to my Blogger login page and... Could not sign in. I was being prompted to allow cookies, but there is no way (that I can see) to do so.


While I'm thinking of it, here is what I saw as an intro to the new and improved Edge browser:

I skipped dealing with any cookie-required sites and just played around with the Edge default Home Page. It's not that bad. Matter of fact, I really do like just about everything in the new browser (except for that cookie situation!). Some highlights of Edge that I love - really, really love:

Set aside tabs to get back to

At the click of a button, I can set aside tabs to look at later. This is more useful than it sounds. With Chrome, when I am using a bunch of tabs, I will separate certain ones by opening them in a new window. That doesn't seem like a bad solution, but I have a tricky brain. If I am working on a story and doing research, I don't like sorting through all the various windows I have opened.

With this feature, I can scroll through the different saved tabs at the top of my screen. When I click on the one that I need at that moment, it drops down as the viewing page. (Hope that made sense to you all...)

Read eBooks in the browser & Create a "reading list"

I haven't really played with eBooks feature, but I can tell you that it looks useful. I do like the"reading list". It's in a pane right there alongside the eBooks you've got and then the usual links to of  Favorites, Downloads, and History.

Edge matches up well with Chrome. There are extensions (like in Chrome), a translation feature and, of course, importing of bookmarks.


Other things to with and in Edge:

  • There's a "reading view" to shut out visual distractions. LOVE this.
  • Get desktop notifications from certain sites (ex: Facebook, Skype)
  • Cast your content to other devices
  • Click/highlight to get more info from Cortana on a subject without leaving the page you're browsing.
  • Get access to your MS Office files (useful for me since I use Word for manuscripts)
  • Though I've used the Web Clipper feature for months, in Edge, I can make and share web notes.
  • Pinterest lovers will love being able to share to the site.
There are lots more features for me to play with and learn about, but I think I covered the highlights.

Not just the browser was updated...

I was having so much fun checking out Edge that I forgot about everything else to do with the update. It wasn't until I was connecting my Bluetooth headset to the PC that I noticed another excellent change.

During the day, I tend to swap my headset between my phone and PC. Before now, it was such a hassle to connect to the PC. There was lag everytime I tried connecting and I'd usually have to turn the headset Off and back On before the PC would connect. This is solved:

Perfect! Just perfect.

It's one of the small but very appreciated improvements.

There's now a Paint 3D app. Not just Paint

I tend to use Pixlr for working with the product review photos I use on this blog. Or I will use the good old Paint app (which is what I used for the above photo about Bluetooth). However, I just noticed that there is a new app called Paint 3D.

I have no idea how to use the app yet, but I'm sure some folks will be excited to hear about it.

When I have more time (as in, when I'm not in the middle of trying to move), I will do a more in-depth review of the updated features. I hope this quick run-through was helpful to some of you.

Do sign up for the Insiders program. I wish I had more time to take part in the forums and quizzes. Maybe in a few months when I get settled. For now, here are some links to more information:


Saturday, May 13, 2017

**BIZ SHOUT OUT** Bark Avenue and Bon Bon's

I love when people get motivated to start a small business venture so this post is about 2 websites I want to tell you about. In the future, I will be doing more of this.

The first website I want to tell you about is Bark Avenue. This is for all kinds of goodies (both the cute and the necessary) for your canine pal.

Bark Avenue is the place for pet (and owner) apparel and accessories; grooming supplies; collars and leashes; toys; and, most importantly for lots of owners: training and safety aids.

Here's the first item that caught my eye!
Womens T Shirt "My Favorite Breed is Rescue" Women Clothes Dogs Paw Print

This LED collar looks really useful:

LED Dog Collar

These biodegradable poop baggies right here...

Biodegradable Poop Bag

The next site up is Bon Bon's. This is the place to pick out that perfect gift for a special occasion - or something just because.

I like that Bon Bon's has something nice for almost everyone. I love the apparel (of course!), and this particular item is something that I plan to give out to at least three men in my life:

Funny You Can't Scare Me I Have A Wife & Daughters Mens T-shirt

And you can bet that I will be wanting this wall decal for my new place:

A Room Without Books Vinyl Wall Decal

By the way, I will be posting reviews of products from both sites once I get moved and settled in. I might even do a contest or giveaway down the road.

I'm going to be looking for some other small businesses to do  Shout Out post for. Next time, I'm thinking natural hair products or maybe skin care stuff... We'll see.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

**REVIEW** DIM (Di-indolyl Methane)

(I'm ahead enough with the packing that I could take a little time to post!)

You all know me. I will try just about anything (within reason) to improve my health and energy. I've tried some things that I initially liked but gave up on after awhile. It's like dieting: seeing results increases motivation. Out of about 15 supplements, vitamins, and other health-related things that I've reviewed, I continue to use some of, specifically:

  • Ceylon Cinnamon (I like to put it in my drinks)
  • Beetroot powder (and beetroot juices because I like the juice better than the powder)
  • Matcha tea (though I still don't like the taste and mask it in smoothies and foods)
  • Raw Honey & comb (and I have a couple of favorites that I will try never to be without)
  • Magnesium oil 
  • Most of my natural skincare oils (especially coconut, castor, and nearly all my essential oils)
  • I've slacked on using the super greens & wheat grass but only because of lack of money.)
  • Yacon syrup & Blackstrap molasses
As a matter of fact, I am shipping my oils and I made a list of other items that I plan to restock once I get moved and settled in a new place. Of course, I will have a kitchen of my own and room and time to make use of everything.

Back at the beginning of April, I started using a supplement that I plan to keep using. The reason I even tried it was because I'd heard it could help with menopausal symptoms and weight loss. It might actually do that - once I get back on my sensible eating/Keto plan - but that's not the result I'm experiencing. What I am experiencing is a lift in energy and mood.

Moving is stressful, number one. My reasons for moving were super stressful, number two. Then, of course, there is my struggle with fatigue due to health and required medications.

Honestly, I had no idea how I was going to manage the planning and packing, etc that comes with moving and a big life change. That's why I started so far in advance.

As soon as I started taking this supplement - and this is the particular brand I am using right now

- I could feel the boost of energy. Not a buzzing boost - like you get from coffee or an energy drink - but a definite surge. That was on Day One, Tablet One.

There are lots of different brands out there. Some brands are solely the Di-indolyl Methane and others add something other than the BioPerine (which is a black pepper extract). I picked this one because it had high reviews and was a 2-months supply for a good price.

After about three or four days (to the best of my poor memory), I was feeling a lot less of the general "blues" and those sneaky attacks of anxiety I'd been having. Understand that I was so stressed and depressed that I was having bouts of inner weeping and wailing. After about another week or so, I was actually able to get things done.

The one thing this doesn't alleviate (and I had no hopes that it would) are my general cognitive problems. I still struggle with keeping details and tasks straight in my head, and I have days when I feel as if I'm functioning with half my brain. But... I don't feel so crazily fatigued that I can't get anything done. Matter of fact, because I have to work so hard to get even basic tasks done, I count on the DIM to give me energy for perseverance.

As of today, I have finished most of the packing and other little tasks that come with planning a move, All I have left to do is sell the car - not something I plan to do until the last second!

The DIM has caused no side effects for me other than promoting more regular bowel movements. Sorry for the TMI, folks! Also, I tend to sleep a little bit better on most nights. I still have a bit of insomnia but I think that's just going to be a fact of life until things settle down for me.

Now, since I am no kind of medical professional, I am not recommending this to anyone. I am just reviewing MY results with DIM. You can do your own research and talk with your medical care team. I have to admit that I did only light research before I started using the DIM.

Like I said, I haven't experienced any weight loss with the DIM. Because it improves my general mood, I can believe that it does impact hormones. I'm post-menopausal and if I thought monthly PMS was bad... Hah! Menopause is like PMS without end.

So, along with the other natural and non-RX things that I use for my health, this is going to be a staple in my new home.


Monday, March 27, 2017

On Hiatus

If you couldn't tell by the lack of postings, I am too busy of late for keeping up with the blog. I barely even check in on any of my social media pages lately. There is a reason, though. It's...

                                                   Image result for new beginning

Here's the deal: I am moving. (Yes, again, but this time for keeps!).

Last time I tried making a break with Alaska, I had a perfect storm of health issues (my own, a friend's and my sisters) to rain all over my intent. This time, I have nothing holding me to this place. I'm ready. More than ready. At this point, a move is almost necessary for me to proceed with anything else in my life.

I had to do a lot of praying to get to this point. I've been through a lot of struggles and stressful life changes that I never imagined I'd have to deal with. There's been death and divorce and a lot of other causes for sadness. About a year ago, I was talking with someone about how rough the past 10 years have been for both of us (and she has had it way harder than I have!). This image reminds me of what she told me at the end of our conversation:

Image result for starting over
Good advice for the battered soul
So, I am hitting the Reset button on my life. Of course, that is a major event. Moving is a major, time-sucking process.

For now, my book (that neglected project) is on hold. My other book is on hold. My plans to start video blogging... all on hold. Just until I get moved and settled into my new surrounding.

I almost don't even want to mention the moving process. Ugh! Moving is right up there on the stress scale with death and divorce and going to jail. Not that I know anything about the latter!

I started thinking about moving right after my sister passed away but didn't want to make a hasty decision. As soon as the first anniversary of her death came and went, I knew it was time to start making a life and a home for myself.  It only took me another year to make the decision final in my head. Most of that time was spent preparing myself to be more than a car ride away from this little piece of my heart:

I love him so
It's going to be tough not seeing him every day, not snuggling with him to watch his Iron Man videos or have interesting little conversations or pretend that we are communicating via radio. This is the kid that got my heart and soul safely through the last couple of years. Thank goodness we'll be able to use video messaging and phone calls to stay in touch. Also, he usually does an annual stateside visit where I can get over to see him. I think he'd much rather have a happier aunt that he sees once in a while than one who is slowly suffocating in sadness and inertia. And the kid is so smart that, this time next year, he'll probably be able to spell both those words!

The thing about moving is, it's very tiring.   VERY tiring   😫😫😫😫😫😫😫
                                 Image result for moving is stressful

Because of my medical issues, I had to give myself plenty of time to work with my current doctors in setting up a new care team. That went easier than I expected. The most tedious part of this move is that I am not looking back so I have to get rid of almost everything before I go. Not that I have a ton of stuff, but I have enough.

A friend of mine is helping me to get rid of a bunch of stuff. She is doing donation and consignment runs for me each week. I can't believe that, as broke as I am, I have collected eight - EIGHT - garbage bags full of clothes, shoes, and purses already. Don't ask me why someone with no money needs that many purses!

Image result for moving is stressful
Lesson learned!!!
Let me tell you something serious: I am NEVER going to accumulate so much stuff ever again. Ever. There is no reason for me to have a couple closets filled with clothing when I basically wear four pairs of jeans, maybe ten tops, three pairs of footwear, and a couple of coats. I can spend $6.00 and do all my laundry in about two loads - and that's allowing for separating lights from darks.

I was telling my best friend that the other day and she just laughed at me, but I am for real. My new attitude is going to be not to buy, accept, or even look at anything unless I have a plan for using it. I mean it. I don't even want to collect groceries that I don't have a meal plan for. I am so disgusted with myself now for having so much stuff that I haven't used in years when there are people going without things they actually need. Besides, think of the wasted money. Ugh!

The other thing that is giving me heartburn is just arranging the few things I am shipping ahead. There's not much I plan to keep, but memories are always hard to pack. I gave up on the idea of taking my car. Believe it or not, I feel attached to Ol' Bessie Lou... And my lovely trailer. That's going up for sale also. That was another hard thing to think about getting rid of.

I'm glad that I am giving myself so much time. I made the decision around the beginning of February and waited a couple of weeks to see if I had any trepidation. When I realized that this is a necessary life change, I decided on July as my be-somewhere-else date. Then my docs here did such a good job with referral appointment, I had to move that date up a bit.

So far, I'm doing okay with getting things in order, but the fatigue is really weighing me down. Almost anyone dealing with a chronic disease can tell you that fatigue is a constant shadow. I'm trying to keep my stress levels low so that I don't aggravate my condition, but... moving. Ugh. I'll be so glad when I can sit down (okay, I probably won't have chairs for a while) and know that I don't have to worry about all the little details I'm dealing with right now.

Do you get any sense of the anxiety, excitement, hope, and the sheer shivers I'm feeling?                                
Anyway, I had to post something to explain this little hiatus I'll be taking. My blog numbers are so low right now, it might take another year to build them back up!

When I get back to this blog, I hope to see you guys still dropping by and supporting the effort. In the meantime, I'll be welcoming all prayers and positive vibes to get me through the rest of this summer.


P.S.: If this post is rambling, my apologies. Fatigue.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

**REVIEW** MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

Methylsulfonylmethane.Try saying that just one time without spitting. Or you can just call it MSM.

It was a podcast that even led me to learn about this type of product. I was listening to The History Chicks discuss Madam C.J, Walker. Apparently, one of the ingredients Madam included in a product was precipitated sulfur. I remembered that my mother talked about how when she was a young girl, her own mother used sulfur for various things. Then I thought about the Sulfur8 hair products that are around today.

When I went looking for uses for sulfur, I fell down a bit of a rabbit hole. This is some of the information I found:

Nothing added
  1. Of course, I started with WebMD because, you know... The first thing I saw is what really hooked me in: People take sulfur by mouth for shortness of breath, allergies, swelling in the back of the throat (pharyngitis), high cholesterol, clogged arteries, menopause, and upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold. Well now. As someone with a chronic disease that affects my lungs, among other things, I had to know more. That I didn't see anything about interactions really brightened my attitude! (BTW: Make sure to consult with your healthcare provider before trying ANYTHING, even supplements that may seem harmless.)
  2. This helped explain the different forms and uses of sulfur. Still, I wanted to get even more specific.
  3. I'm sure a lot of folks would want to know if and how sulfur could promote hair growth. Since I take a medication that damages my hair, I wanted to know about this. Livestrong has an article on MSM and hair growth. It seems that more and larger trial studies are needed to support hair growth claims. (Also, please notice that sulfur comes in various forms. I have the crystals - or 'flakes' - but I've seen powders.)
  4. Black Hair Information led me to another form (or type, I guess) of sulfur that can be used topically for the hair and skin. There is a recipe for making an oil to use. I didn't even see the 'sublimed sulfur' when I found the crystals I have. I also saw information on some powders that strongly suggest checking amounts to use directly on skin and hair. So... go forth with caution!
Like I just mentioned in the last note, there are plenty of warnings to be careful of using sulfur direcly on the skin and hair. This was bothersome to learn because I really want to try treating my eczema with sulfur. For now, I am taking my crystals internally so that's all I can discuss from personal experience.

This is what the MSM that I am using looks like:

Like thick salt crystals...

The Kala brand came with a double-sided scoop - one side in a teaspoon measurement and the other in a tablespoon. Personally, I decided not to even attempt doing a full dose of either. I have been using about a quarter teaspoon twice a day.

The first time I took a tiny dose, I was pretty wowed. For one thing, I was super happy that the juice I mixed the MSM in totally masked any bitter or foul taste. (I haven't tasted the crystals solo, but I understand they can be horribly bitter.) The big surprise was that I could feel some physical effect just minutes after taking the MSM. It's hard to describe what I felt but, basically, there was a slight buzzy feeling of energy. Keep in mind that I only took about a fourth of a teaspoon because I wanted to be sure that my body would tolerate MSM.

As far as my eczema (which is on my feet), I haven't seen any results yet, but it is still only a couple of days into my MSM use.

Finally, I just want to share a thought I had the other day when I was considering energy supplements: A lot of us mistake 'energy' for 'motivation'. We'll say that we are tired when we might just be depressed or in a rut. I actually do suffer from fatigue, but I also have mild depression. I'm trying to be really careful to distinguish between the two. All the energy pills in the world are not going to get me up and functioning if I'm suffering from the blues. Anyway, I just wanted to throw that out there. I'm no doctor, of course, but if anyone is feeling prolonged symptoms of fatigue, they should probably see their doctor. Don't let things go undiagnosed or treated.

I will be back to update on my results with the MSM. In the meantime, keep smiling. Oh, and I'm including a video of a really nice song I heard while watching the show "Goliath". This is a real soul-soother. I'm going to have to buy a copy of this one!


Thursday, March 09, 2017

TV and Podcast Bing-a-thon

(I haven't posted for a while. Fighting fatigue and I have a whole lot going on with my life right now. This is, I guess, a "filler" post. Just so y'all don't think I've forgotten about you. Pretty soon here, I'll be back to post a couple of product reviews - for some MSM supplements and a re-hash of a hair product I tried once before. Meantime, here's a little something random.)

Whenever the subject of TV comes up, I automatically admit that I'm don't watch much. That's kind of a lie. I don't watch TV on a regular basis the way a lot of people do. I know some people who can set their schedule by what's on TV. For me, television shows (via my computer) are an alternative to sleeping pills. I will pick a show and set the timer on my PC. Some nights I might make it through more than one episode of a series. Lately, I've been suffering insomnia so I've been getting in about 3 episodes a night.

"The Wire" is a show I just finished binge-watching. I'd never seen it before. What a great series! The storylines and cast were superb. (I still don't think Idris Elba is all that sexy. He is, but he isn't. I am impressed that he pulled off a regional American accent as well as he did.)

bingeing on the tube

I gave "Hannibal" a full episode and still can't get into it. Next, I tried watching "Oz", but... that one I'll have to get back to. Also tried "24" and got bored after about ten minutes. I'm not sure why that was such a hit. Maybe I just need to give it more time? I did find a quirky show called "Fleabag". It's British and I do like the lead character, but sexual activity is such a centerpiece that I'm having trouble just connecting with the cast. Another show that isn't clicking for me right off is "Sex and the City". Or is it "Sex in the City"?

Now, that's some Mandela Effect stuff right there!

I'm glad I made it far enough to see that part. I've heard all the Mandel Effect talk about the title of that show. How interesting, huh?

One series I expected to hate was "Enlightened" with Laura Dern. I ended up only hating when the series ended. It was a very different kind of show and I haven't found anything else like it. That's the way I feel about "Grimm". I love the series for it creativity with other beings and worlds. Lately, though, it's getting hokey.

So, when I say that I don't watch "much" TV, I guess I am lying quite a bit. Still, I don't own a TV set. I gave mine away a few years ago to a friend. Recently, to cut back on spending, I gave up my Netflix account. If I can't find something via YouTube or Amazon, I'm out.

I also have given up my Audible membership for a while. In its place, I'm using Overdrive to listen to books from my local library and I'm heavy into podcasts.

Podcasts are a favorite thing with me. It's easy to listen while I'm doing chores or sitting through treatments. I listen to a couple of podcasts for pure guilty pleasure, but there are others that I find to be educational and highly informative:

  • The History Chicks is done with such an easy conversational banter that you almost forget you are being informed. Recently, I binged on their episodes covering black women of history. Now I am listening to their episodes on the Victorian age.
  • The Rachel Maddow Show is a must for me. I love the way she manages to put current news into a story-telling format. I also like that she backs up her news with facts listeners can check for themselves.
  • I listen to Real Time with Bill Maher mostly because he's the only foul-mouthed athiest who can make me laugh as hard as he does.
  • Strangers is wonderful for the true stories as well as for the host. Lea Thau comes across as someone you'd really want to hang out and have deep conversations with. She allows guests to tell their own stories and, truly, every listener can find a story to relate to.
  • This Is Actually Happening is a bit like Strangers but I find it a bit more haunting. The stories are not really about people I can relate to but more about people I'd like to understand better.
  • Remarkable Lives Tragic Deaths is about just that. I've listened to episodes covering MLK, Kennedy, Cobain, Hendrix, Holly, Trotsky, and Blackbeard. Interesting stuff.
  • Uncovering Unsolved Mysteries (UUM) is just plain fun. This is two young dudes discussing episodes from the old "Unsolved Mysteries" show. This isn't for everyone, but I loved the old TV show and I like the way the UUM hosts banter.

I was so excited when I found the Slate Magazine sponsored podcast, History of American Slavery. I'm downloading episodes tonight!

The only thing I need is to find the absolute perfect podcast app. I think I've gotten close with Podcast Addict. It's easy to use and very functional.

I didn't link to the podcasts because I figure you'll want to download to your phone. That's what I do, Also, you can easily find the podcasts now that you have their titles. If any of you can recommend some other shows or podcasts, please do.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Laughing in Heaven

My sister passed away on this day in 2015. I still miss her, but I have finally stopped mourning her. A few months back, I made up my mind to celebrate her memory. Here are some things I can't help but smile about when I think of her.
Once, my sister and I went out with some of our friends. It was a girls' night situation so all of us were wearing our best hair, clothes, and nails. There has never been much of a nightlife here in Anchorage but, back then (around 1999), 'going out' meant patronizing any of the nice hotels that had a dance floor. On this one night, we started at a smaller hotel. After some appetizers and a few drinks, we heard that things were really jumping at one of the larger hotels. Off we went. Downtown parking is bad during club hours so we ended up having to walk about three blocks. In dresses and heels. And with a few drinks in our systems. Just as we were about to walk into the hotel lobby, I see that one of my friends needs to adjust her skirt because it's riding down her hips. Just as I notice this, one of the other friends steps on the hem of the first friend's skirt. First Friend is oblivious to this and keeps walking until she has stepped right out of her skirt. Thank goodness, she had a slip on underneath. She didn't even blush. She just stepped back into the skirt and wrangled it back up her hips.

There was another time when I was out at a bar with my sister and one of her friends. When my sister was younger, she drank Johnny Walker - Black or Red, I can't remember. Unlike me, my sister could hold her liquor. I'm sloppy after about three mixed drinks. Anyway, there were a lot of G.I.s at the bar. For some reason, one of them bet my sister that he could drink her under the table. After 22 shots of liquor, that dude was almost unconscious. My sister might have been wasted, but she managed to stand up and strut (in three-inch heels) to the bathroom without weaving.

One of my favorite things to do with my sister was people watch. We could be anywhere - store, church, hospital - and she would have me cracking up with her observations. Of course, not only was she better at holding her liquor than I was, but she could also keep a straight face while I'd be dying of laughter about something. She'd say something hilarious about someone ("Does that chick know her wig is on crooked?") and then tell me I was going to be on my own if I got my butt kicked for laughing.

More than anything, I remember that my sister had the ability to make everyone feel loved. She was a peacemaker, a "bring-er together-er" kind of person. People confided in her without worrying that she'd betray them. You could cry on her shoulder and she wouldn't make you feel like a lesser person for doing so. Because she didn't connive, bully, manipulate, or 'stir the pot', people trusted her.  Because she spoke so softly, people listened. Because she was so strong, people didn't always see her pain.

When I think about Mike these days, I imagine her in Heaven. I think of her with a new body and a new joy. I miss her. Not just today, but every day. Rest in peace, sis.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Fencing with the Devil

I almost titled this post as "The Bounceback". After going through such a low of depression for the past couple of days, I had a good talk with my best friend. Sometimes, just talking with someone who "gets you" can be all the medicine you need. The funny thing is, we didn't really talk a lot about the things that have been bothering me. We talked about life in general. As always, before we hung up, she said she loved me. That may have been the best medicine. People sling around the word "love" like they use the phrase "Have a nice day". The word(s) really mean nothing at all unless they mean everything.

Thank God for best friends.

I'm still a little blue - but not the deep, dark blue that I was yesterday. I'm at maybe a medium-rare state of blue. "Usefully blue" is what I like to think of how I'm now feeling. This is the place I tend to write best from. This is the place where I can get really in touch with my feelings and, therefore, empathize with the feelings of others. (Hope that last bit makes sense. This is a methotrexate night and my mind is as unreliable as my gag reflex!)

One of the things my friend and I talked about was how things build and build until you get to a breaking point. One ordinary bad thing is just one bad thing and might ruin your day. One bad thing on top of another (and another, maybe) can ruin your week. You can handle a certain amount of "bad" until you get to that point of snapping. In my case, I've been having a bad few months, but I was able to maintain a level of coping. The car break-in was just that one bad thing too many.

I told my friend that if I happen to run into someone wearing my boots or scarf, she (my friend) will need to bail me out of jail. She agreed without even pausing. I love that chick!

Another thing I said to my friend is that I feel like I'm being stalked by something bad in the universe. I was joking but I started thinking more about it later. What I have decided is that the "Devil" is too busy to mess with me, but he's sent humans in his place. (I'm still joking. Sort of.) When you think about it, it's humans who do petty and hurtful things to each other. It's humans who are bored (or unhappy) with their own lives and find sport in messing with other people. We all know certain people whose main activity is in stirring up drama, gossiping, being nosy, etc.  These are people who spend most of their time playing other people like chess pieces. I call these folk the "white noise" people. They need the constant hum of trouble to drown out their own miserable existences.

Or maybe I'm being too critical. Maybe.

At any rate, I am re-directing my frustration and anger away from depression and into action. If I stay productive, I stay positive. For now, though, I am going to go eat some Saltines so I don't throw up. #TMI


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Life, Losses & Losers

I was going to label this post as a **RANT** but decided that I'm too tired to be angry.

At least I'm blogging today. It's been a while, hasn't it? That's because I've been working on the book. No worries. It's a finished manuscript. The problem is the template I am using with Create Space. For some reason, I have been unable to simply do a copy/paste job. What I am having to do is retype the entire manuscript - every single word of it - carefully into the template. Ugh! From reading the comments in the C.S. community, I'm not the only author struggling with the templates.

Okay. Maybe this post will end up being a rant. I just realized that I need to catch you all up on things before I can get into what's recently happened. Here goes.

Aside from having to retype my manuscript (and every other writer will tell you about the temptation to edit and revise when doing that), my sarc is acting up. Stress seems to make my disease "rage". When the sarc is on a rampage, I have more trouble than usual trying to focus and concentrate. Also, I've noticed over the past couple of years that my methotrexate tends to make me sicker than usual when the sarc is raging. (I have no idea if that last sentence is coherent!)


I'm plugging away on the manuscript in between colds, bouts of fatigue, and the metho-sicks. By th way, the weather here is horribly bi-polar this winter. Every time I have to go somewhere, I'm either having to cope with deeply negative temps (up to -14 so far) or - and I don't know which is worse - I'm having to dig my car out from under piles of snow. The only bright spot to the weather is that I had saved up for and bought the absolutely cutest ever scarf. It was extra long and wide and just perfect for keeping my head and shoulders warm. I got so many compliments every time I wore it and a lot of ladies would ask where I got it. Answer: Burlington Coat Factory (because they have layaway).

My scarf was a a mottled grey/black (not plaid)

My favorite pair of boots, my beloved scarf (and a pair of prescription driving glasses and a pair of those yellow-tinted night-vision driving glasses from Walgreen's) was stolen out of my car sometime Thursday night/Friday morning.

I have no idea when the break-in could have happened. Thursday night, my niece and nephew were both up and moving around the downstairs until around 4 in the morning. I was up (with nausea from metho) from midnight until I time for my appointment. At about a quarter after 9, I went out to warm up the car (and clean off the snow...) and saw that the driver's side car door wasn't closed.

Keep in mind that this is not the first break-in I've had. I've lost count, but the problems started on Mother's Day 2015. I remember that because my sister had passed away in February that year. That time, the break-in was part of a rash of them in a couple of local neighborhoods. My passenger window had been smashed and absolutely nothing was stolen...

I got the window replaced and stopped bothering to lock my car doors. Someone mentioned that if the doors weren't locked, there would be no need to break the windows. Fine, I never keep things up much value in my car except a back-up pair of shoes or boots, gloves, and my driving glasses.

The only damage from the next break-in was papers and stuff strewn around the car. Next time, same thing. Next time, my glove-box was busted up. Nothing taken any of those times.

Because of what was taken this time, my niece wondered if the thief was possibly a female. I've decided that whoever he or she is, they just wanted to pawn the eyeglass frames and maybe keep the other stuff. (The boots by the way, were ones I also got a few years ago. Burlington layaway again. They were Vera Wang's that I got for a discount at $75. Very warm and really sturdy footing on ice and snow.)

Like the saying goes, material things can be replaced - even if you have to use a layaway plan! It's not losing the things that bothers me. What really sent me into an 8-hour depression is this was the wrong thing to happen at the worst time.

I have so little right now - so little money, so little dignity, so little respect - that this felt like a gut punch. I'm seriously hanging on to hope and faith by a thread. When this happened, there was a brief moment when I just felt like giving up.

If you are thinking that I am weak and a bit of a whine-baby right now, then you have never considered the principle of water and rock. Given enough time, water can wear down rock drip by drip. I've been dealing with my own 'water problem' for about five years.

I think what bothers me most about the break-ins is that I am starting to feel targeted. I really don't want to be that paranoid person, but I do have a suspect in mind. I won't speak any more about that, but...

You might also be wondering why I haven't done more to secure my car. Well, that one is kind of on me. I have one of those standard built-in anti-theft alarms but it only works if your key fob works. My key fob broke a long time ago. When I first looked at replacing it, the cheapest one I could find cost around $40. At the time, I didn't think I could afford it. No layaway (ha. ha. ha.). Now I am determined to order one asap.

This is just one more drip of water. I will try not to be worn down but, damnit. Right?

Anyway, it has felt good to vent (maybe that should be the post label?). I will close by sharing what I posted last night on Instagram:

Peace (maybe)