Friday, July 31, 2020

Feeling My Age (or Baby Got Bad Back)

UPDATE: Turns out that this back thing might be a bit more serious than I thought. I was rid of it (except for tenderness) for a couple of days. It came back and it's pissed. I am pretty much stuck in bed right now and laying on my side trying to type, drink water, nibble on something, and wait for the back brace to get here. My brother brought me some Advil (a no-no for me) and I am taking them only at the worst of the pain. If things don't get better after a couple of days with the brace, I will have to call my doctor. Until I work this out, posts will be sporadic. 

I will be doing a post on Free and Faith, even if it takes me all day to get it written. Please visit that blog when you get a chance.
Peace.


A while back someone asked users of Reddit when they felt they officially became "old" (or something to that effect). My answer: The first time I stood up and everything hurt for no reason. That was then. Today, I know better. 



My heart and spirit might feel thirty but my body feels its physical age. Maybe even a bit older. I wasn't able to type this post for the past couple of days because I couldn't even sit up. My back has betrayed me. 

I was about to get out of bed one morning but felt a bit unsteady. When my balance is off, I wait til it comes back 'on'. I learned that the hard way. So I'm wide awake and ready to get the day started but had to wait until I knew I wouldn't be walking into walls. After about half an hour, I was ready. My back was not.

My back wasn't really hurting before I sat up. It felt a little bit sore like I had slept wrong, but nothing awful. Then when I sat up, everything locked. I have never felt such pain like that. I literally could not do anything without feeling as if someone had a grip around the lower part of my spine and was daring me to move. 

So there I am, sitting partway up in bed, waiting for relief. That wasn't going to happen. After a bit, I managed to turn so that my legs were on the floor - thank God I sleep right on the edge of my bed - but, nope, I wasn't going anywhere further for the time being. Every thought of a movement induced pain that was like the opposite of an orgasm. Just pain like I have never experienced - and I once cracked a rib by sneezing when I had a cold that kept me constantly coughing or sneezing.

I'm not sure how long it took me to move a bit, rest a bit, move a bit, etc. Finally, I was able to grab hold of the bedside lamp pole and hoist into a standing position. Let me back that up - I was able to hoist myself into a crouching position. And I had to stand like that until the pain crept away just a bit. 

Here's the fun part of this story. Remember, I was just waking up. What's the first thing most of us do when we wake up? Hang out for a while, having conversations with our backs? No. I had to pee. I had to pee like a pregnant woman drinking a Big Gulp. I had to pee so bad that I think I lost calories not peeing myself. 



Somehow - and I'm not kidding when I say I'm not sure exactly how - I managed to creep slowly out of the bedroom and to the bathroom. The problem then became how to get into position. I could hardly get my underwear down but when I did, I couldn't get over the toilet low enough to pee. Eventually, I just held my breath and dropped down onto the toilet. I felt so pretty, let me tell you...

I cannot describe the pain that went through my back. It hurt to pee. It hurt to be sitting, but I couldn't get up right away because moving to do so hurt worse than the sitting. I knew there was no way I was going to make it into the shower that morning.

Now, I have had rare and occasional mild spurts of lower back pain over the past - I'm guessing - two years? Usually, this happened after sitting too long in one position or while sit-slumping. When it happened, I would take my time standing and then stretch out a bit. Or prop my hands against the wall with my feet back in a pushup position. My back would relax and behave. Not this time.


I have no idea how long I sat on the toilet but I had time to contemplate calling my SIL for help. Of course, my phone was in the bedroom so I wouldn't be able to buzz her in and my front door was locked so the manager would have to let her in... Ugh.

Finally, I managed to clean myself up and get off the toilet but the effort made me crave morphine. I would have crawled if I could have made it to my knees. I ended up taking a few steps at a time, holding onto counters, door frames, and walls until I made it back to the bedroom. All I could do was sort of fall onto the bed and just deal with the screams from my back.

And that is where I lay for about three hours, no kidding. And keep in mind that I am doing IF so I hadn't eaten for 18 hours when I first woke up. Now I'm at almost 21 hours and I didn't care about food but I wanted coffee like an addict wants crack. 

"Hi, my name is Trudy and I'm a 'feine fiend."

My best friend called and I was able to answer the phone. She told me to try either to get flat on my back or into the fetal position and to totally relax all my muscles. When I could get up at all, she suggested I put a heating pad on my back. (I don't have a heating pad. Stay tuned to see my substitute.) She also told me to stay down until I could move without pain. "You're making it worse by moving all around the apartment." (Like I was just sprinting around the place...)

Her advice worked. Sort of. Laying flat on my back didn't help like it had in the past. A fetal position, with a pillow between my knees, felt better.  I was able to spray magnesium oil towards the area - sort of - and after a bit, I managed to make a "heating pad".

 
That's some kitchen rags dampened 
& sealed for heating
in the microwave


The heat helped. Sort of. I still couldn't make coffee. I lay in bed for hours, sipping bottled water through a straw and dozing off and on. Every now and then, I would test my ability to move and I managed to get to the bathroom a couple of times. 

At some point during this bed rest, I was just suddenly able to move without crying. I don't know what did it. My back still ached in that spot but I could ease myself out of bed and get around if I walked slowly and carefully. 

After almost 28 hours of nothing but water, I grabbed myself some sliced brioche (it makes great oven toast!) and honey and some more water and went back to bed. 

My back has remained sore but only occasionally seizing up the past couple of days where the pain lasts half an hour to an hour or so. The problem area is still very tender and I am overly aware of every move I make. 

Since I am broke because, you know, groceries and bills and end of the month, I put this on a credit card and cannot wait until I get it:


  

Mueller Adjustable Back Brace



Of course, this part depresses me!



It was the most affordable-but-decently-rated one I could find on short notice. I will get a heating pad next. I don't know what I am going to do about a couch. My futon sofa is the absolute worst thing to try sitting on with a kinked up back. It sits too low and is made for dorm rooms not nursing homes.
 
Ain't this a blip? Just last month, I was thinking that although I'm getting 'up there' in age, the worst thing about my health is my sarcoidosis. Nope. My back is apparently jealous and wants the first place ribbon for that. It's in the lead.

Peace
--Free

Monday, July 27, 2020

Serious IF

NOTE: It dawned on me that some of my vitamins and supplements have calories. If you are doing IF, check that and make sure you know how many sneaky calories you're getting in supplements. Dangit.


A long time back, I played around with an intermittent fasting diet. It was rough and, as with Keto, I couldn't stay on track with it for some reason. At the time, I loved the idea of the IF diet but often felt so deprived and I could not fight off cravings. Recently, I kind of fell back into it unintentionally. I'm serious. I didn't want to blog about it until got into a groove.

Money IS saved!

I was talking with someone who asked about my past experience with IF. They wanted to know why I'd stopped and if I would consider doing it again. I remember telling them that the real deal with IF (or Keto, or anything) is that it really cannot be a "diet" for you. It's such a cliche, but it has to become just the way you now do food.

Not long after that conversation, I had to take a weekly dose of a medicine that makes me feel icky. Every week I take this stuff and for a couple of days, I'm just not into food. All I want is to sip broth and wait for "normal" to return. It's just part of my life. I don't like it but I've gotten used to it and it keeps me alive.

Well now. That sounds familiar, doesn't it? IF is just another life-saving habit to adopt.

When I say that I fell into IF unintentionally, what I mean is that, because of my weekly medicine situation,  I was already sort of doing something like "Modified IF". That is when you do fast, you allow yourself a small number of calories. When you aren't fasting, you can eat what you want - keeping "what you want" within reason if your goal is healthy weight loss.

My problem has not been the fasting itself but the timing of the fasts. So I got myself this free phone app. Actually, I got that app after trying about 5 other apps. iFasting happens to be the best, in my opinion. It's pretty simple and does what I need most: time the fasts and notify me. The only issue I've had is trying to add in the 4 days that I wasn't using the app.

To summarize how I've been doing this time of IF, I will repeat (sort of) the conversation I had when talking with my friend about it. She's thinking of giving it a(nother) try herself. So, in a Q&A format...

Q: How many hours are you fasting?
A: 16 to 18. Usually, 18 because, for some reason, that seems easier than 16. I have just started adding in a 24 hour fast. I'm still on my first one as I type this but hope to do one every week - maybe on a weekend.

If I get to bed around 9, this won't be bad at all!


Q: What times have you chosen to stop and start eating and why?
A: I like to start eating ("feasting") from 8 to 9 in the morning. Here's a screenshot of a  recent fasting day (from the app):


Q: How do you break your fast?
A: With a glass of water while I brew my first cup of coffee. I read that drinking water first thing in the morning (no matter you diet type) is good for you. There are lots of articles about it and this is one I chose at random.  After the water, I start having my coffee that I drink off and on during my feasting hours.

Q: What are some typical foods/meals/beverages?
A: I try to eat a lot of big salads (see below) on most days. When I want, I will "carb-up" with pizza, sweet bread, etc. I try to drink water every day and I am getting better at it. I drink hot tea with heavy cream and sweetened with honey. I mix orange juice (not from concentrate) with black or green tea leftover from the fasting hours. For fun, I sometimes blend heavy cream into orange juice and add a little vanilla extract.

Q: How do you get through the longer fasts? 
A: The first couple of days were the hardest because I had to get back into black coffee. Ugh! I have since learned to use the out-of-sight theory. If I don't pay attention to the food I have around, cravings are not bad. I go into the fridge only to grab water and I stay out of the cupboards where the snacks are.

Q: What do you drink to get through the fasting? 
A: Long or short (remember, I am fasting 16 to 18 hours on a regular basis), I drink a lot of water. I try to get Pellegrino on sale so that I'm getting something sparkling that I like every now and then. I drink black coffee made on the weak side. I think that Luzianne coffee is the best-tasting black coffee I've had because it actually tastes better black that with cream and sweeteners. (It used to be about 4 bucks a 13-oz bag and is no longer available...) Black tea is for later in the day. I am just now starting to drink green tea as well.

Q: Have you ever "cheated" on a fast day?
A: Once. I've been doing this since the 16th (this is the 12th day as I type this). A couple of days ago, after fasting for about 10 hours, I woke up and could get back to sleep. I ended up fixing a slice of pizza and eating a big chunk of vanilla cream brioche. Other than that, I haven't really had a lot of temptations. I decided that as long as I am doing well for long stretches, a temporary setup is not a big deal. That pizza was awesome. See later down in this post for my recipe to jazz up a take-and-bake pizza!

One upside to this is that I find that on the days I eat fewer carbs, I crave fewer carbs. Also, a salad can fill me up to the point where it's all I need to eat for that day.

Q: Are you losing a lot of weight?
A: No. I am losing a little bit every day (according to my scale) and my clothes started feeling and looking better after about (I'm guessing here) 7 or 8 days in. I think I would be losing more weight if I were 'carbing up' every now and then. So far, I've been great about being low-carb but I'm going to play with my menu during the next grocery order.

Q: Do you think that you will be able to stick to it this time?
A: I actually do. Before, I struggled almost immediately. This time, IF feels more natural. Also, I am going to be cutting myself some slack like I did the time I broke fast.

Q: Are you going to make any changes to the way you fast - maybe with modified IF days or adding Keto?
A: No. Other than attempting to do a 24-hour fast on a regular basis - whether once a week or once a month - I am going to keep this simple. I am trying to eat fairly healthily without really depriving myself. I think that the simpler I keep things, the more success I will have in making this a lifestyle habit. So far, the 24-hour thing isn't that much of a struggle. I just looked at the app and realize that I am doing great. I will be up, showered, and dressed by around 8:30 or so and I can drink water until time to have my heavenly coffee at 11:18 when I break the fast. I can keep busy by taking out the trash and unloading the dishwasher until time to break.

Q: Have you noticed any difference, positive or negative up to this point?
A: I wake up with much better morning breath (maybe from not eating so late in the evening?). My urine is clearer due to the increase in the water I'm drinking. My skin seems to feel better (more hydrated, maybe?) and my constant fatigue is a bit less heavy. The one downside is that my nausea from my weekly injection is worse. Maybe I need to carb up before taking my shot? I mentioned that my clothes feel better fitting.

Q: What's the best advice you've heard/read to help with fasting?
A: I figured out for myself the best ways to deal with it. A lot of people find their way to live with IF longterm and we probably share the same pointers:

  • To not think about eating. Keep your hands and/or mind busy.
  • Put all the "feast" time food away so you aren't seeing it every time you go into the kitchen.
  • Drink a glass of water. Drink another glass. Drink some more.
  • If you are on IF to lose weight, go look at or try on the clothes you have that you would like to fit better. Do a 10-minute browse through a site or catalog of what you would like to wear in a smaller size.
  • Think about the dreaded weigh-in at your next doctor's appointment.
  • Take a quick walk to check the mail, empty the garbage, or get some air.
  • Realize that it's just food you are abstaining from and that, if you want, you can break the fast. It's a day-to-day situation and every day is going to be different. 

Anyway, this has been my experience. Here is the recipe for 'jazzing up" store-bought pizza and a list of general groceries I keep around lately.

Jazzy Pizza
  • Store-bought pizza (I get Adli's Mama Cozzi's or any kind of decent pizza that is NOT Totino-like)
  • Mozzarella pearls (this is the cheapest way to get full-fat mozzarella)
  • Black olives (I get the canned jumbo size - not sliced) slice them to your liking
  • Bacon bit-style crumbles
  • Mrs. Dash or Lawry's Seasoning Salt or Garlic Salt, Italian seasoning
  • Sweet peppers sliced your liking 
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil (I have a sprayer but you can also drizzle) or butter 
Everything is optional. Use what you have and what you like. You could even drain some pineapple chunks if you like a Hawaiian style pizza. 


If you don't have olive oil, you can brush the crust and sides with a little melted butter halfway through baking. I spray the entire pizza slice with the olive oil after I've added all my extras.


 Big Fat Salad

  • Bagged or fresh salad greens. I get raw spinach to add to a bag of whatever garden salad is available or just cut up some lettuce and some sweet peppers.
  • Tomatoes. Roma and cherry tomatoes have been on sale around here lately.
  • Sweet pickles (chopped to your liking)
  • Olives (whole or chopped to your liking)
  • Bacon bit-style crumbles. I have not yet found bacon on sale to fry up fresh. The crumbles last longer anyway.
  • Some kind of protein or combo. I use cheese or eggs and chicken or pork or turkey - whatever I have. I like using those fake crab pieces when I find some on sale. Chop to bite-sized pieces to top your salad.
  • You can season with Mrs. Dash-type seasoning or just use salt and pepper if you want.
  • Ground flax to sprinkle on top. (I happen to have a huge bag that I bought and keep in the fridge. It's supposed to be good for you.)
Use whatever dressing you like. I love Poppyseed dressing - both creamy or vinaigrette. 

If I eat this salad before I eat anything else, I don't seem to feel as hungry afterward. I can usually eat nothing but a huge salad and I'm done for the day.

I hope this is helpful and/or encouraging for anyone considering IF.

Peace
--Free


Thursday, July 23, 2020

**RANT** Be Who You Are & Buy What You Like

As promised in my post about my Poshmark buys, here is my rant about "designer"/luxury goods...

I would change "life" to "fashion"

After I bought those Coach bags from Poshmark sellers, I was telling a neighbor about the site and how I love what I got there. I told her what I paid for the bags and she was so excited to take a look at the Poshmark site that we pulled it up right then and there. She went absolutely gaga over the Brahmin bags she has a liking for. Of course, she joined the site and will probably go broke when she sees that there are a lot of the Frye bags she also loves. Poshmark ought to be paying me for promoting the site!

A couple of days later, that neighbor came over to show me some of the stuff she has "hearted" and while we were looking, she asked to see the 2 bags I had been raving about. Her reaction to this absolute awesomeness -

My laptop fits beautifully in  the work bag

- was... bewilderment.

Basically, she was seeing all the other Coach bags listed on Poshmark and wondered why I chose such plain-looking ones. To be honest, when I see bags like this:





















Or this:
- I'm not that impressed. And this next one is just... as Amy once sang: No, no, no.




But, seriously, to each his own. I can see how any of those bags could be attractive to someone. They aren't ugly, but just so loudly branded. You would surely get noticed for carrying it.

And maybe that is why a lot of people get those types of very visibly branded bags: they want or need someone to know they can afford a Coach - or Louis Vuitton or whatever else. And that's fine, I guess. We live in a society where we seem more concerned with appearing happy instead of just being happy. And I prefer not to be a walking, talking, unpaid billboard. Especially for something so pricey that I have to wait until it hits a flea market before I can (maybe) afford it.

Maybe I am just in one of my moods? I am so tired of people doing things and having things and wanting things for... not themselves?

Anyway, I explained to my neighbor why I'm so pleased with my "new bags". For one thing, I love carrying a purse that makes me feel like me: simply but well put together and okay with being simply and well put together. I'm not a dressy type of gal like I was in my youth. I like to be clean and comfortable. And I need a bag that lets me carry quite a bit of stuff in an organized way. I once spent half an hour panicking that I had lost my apartment key when it had just fallen to the bottom of my bag.

One of the reasons Coach bags are - or used to be - so desired is that they are so sturdy and well crafted. (My mother had a couple of really good purses back in the day that lasted for years and years until they got stolen lost when movers packed up our house once.)

I'm pretty sure that my neighbor loves her Brahmin bags because they are so well-made (they really are too - just not my style of a purse). I can tell that she loves the one she carries all the time. And I mean all the time.  I told her all this and she agreed. She said that she feels "matched" well to the bag. It's a beautiful bag that can be handed down a couple of generations. She still didn't seem to love my new bags but that's okay, she doesn't have to because I do.

We all probably have at least that one purse we love but that is tattered and falling apart (and guys probably have that special wallet). I have/had at least 3 well-loved purses in the past several years. Not all of them are well-made either. Along with a really cute cloth mini-bag, this is what I have been carrying for most of the past 3 years:


About $12 at Target (??) a few years back


















I love that purse but, as you can see, it's warped on the bottom of one side. Nothing I did would smooth that out. I tried loading it with heavy stuff, hanging from a rail, and blowing a warm dryer over it. Still warped. The cloth mini-bag I had was a freebie included with some purchase I made about 5 years ago. It was small but hung nicely off the arm and I could stuff a lot of things in it. Unfortunately, the handle came loose from one side.

For years, I've had a Coach-not-Coach (aka "Foach") large style tote that is made of such quality leather and so durable that it still looks great after about 25 years. The leather is wearing well just the way leather is supposed to - getting darker and softer in some places but not falling apart. The one thing that gives it away as not authentic is the non-Coach type hardware. A dear friend gave it to me and I use it as a carry-on/carry-around when I am visiting family. Every now and then, I pull it out and rub it down with some conditioner. I love it.


I pulled out the phone-calc and did the math on the age of my leather Foach - I got it in 1991 so that makes it almost 30 years old! Wow. I don't think that even the people at Coach would be hating me for this bag. INXS was playing Wembley in '91 and I was 102 pounds and strutting around in 4-inch heels like nobody's business. Talk about time flying...

Anyway.

The Coach that belonged to Mike is a coated-canvas-type material that I don't want to wear out or stain. Leather is easier to maintain and lasts longer. Also, the branding on Mike's Coach is quite visible - though not loudly so because the material is a sort of black and monochrome. Did I get that right???

Makes me think of her.

There are a couple of other brands I would love to own a bag from. So far, they are out of my reach even on Poshmark. But I am throwing out hints so hard that I am leaving marks on my family! The main brand I want a bag from is Liebeskind Berlin. The cowskin leather ones are soft that they feel like they're made of clouds and unicorn fur.  I am also keeping my eye out for something by Wilsons Leather. That or Frye's. I have heard great things about both.

For now, though, I am extremely happy with my 2 bags. As with the Foach tote, I am treating them with conditioner and making sure to massage the handles when I carry them. I love it when leather gets that beautiful used look.

By the way, for anyone wondering about the history of Coach, there's an article that goes so deep in that it's going to take me years to read it all. Here is the link.

To sum up, I don't want to tell anyone what to do, but I sure hope that the next time you go shopping, you buy things that make you happy and feel pretty. Look at me, I'm over here quarantined and happy to be looking at these purses when no one else can see them!

Well, now that I got that rant out of my system, I feel better. I am going to go and work on my budget now. I will have to be creative next month since I used birthday money for fun instead of being responsible.

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

**UPDATE** Uh Oh. I Found Poshmark...

Scroll to the bottom for the update/photos


Oh my good mercy, me oh my. I finally decided to check out Poshmark to see if it is a good place to get discounted clothes, towels, and household goods.

I am going to have to get a block button for that website. There is some of everything there. As my boyfriend-in-my-head, Katt Williams says: "Ever-ree thing? Ever-ree thing!"

The first thing I went looking for was bathroom stuff. I am seriously in need of some more towels. I have the same 2 cheap 6-piece sets from Walmart. When my family came to visit, I quickly ordered some slightly more decent bath ones from Amazon and I put out the best of my hand towels for them. The last time I did laundry, I was distracted and added a double amount of bleach. My "best" towels are now very fragile. So...

Shopping Poshmark is a little like shopping one of those huge open-air marketplaces you see in some larger cities. You have to be watchful of the sellers and their items. You have to not get overwhelmed at the choices. And you have to know that if you like an item but want to keep looking elsewhere, you might miss out all the way around.

My best friend, one of my brothers, and a niece skipped picking out birthday gifts and sent cash instead. Talk about always being the right size and color. Honey chile. I used most of the money to pay extra on bills but kept out $50 to get a couple of things from Poshmark:

how stinking cute is this bag???


for my laptop when traveling or
going to the library

Now that I see the process, I am going to be keeping my eye open for towels, some decor, and some yearly gifting ideas.

Of course, because I am mean, I had to tell my SILs and the nieces about the site. One of my nieces started checking it out as I was texting her and she would have cursed me out but she had to go watch for a price drop!

I am done for the moment, but I am keeping my eye out for this style of boot. I had a pair of Lavender Label Vera Wang nubuck leather boots in dark grey that looked almost exactly like this. I got them at Burlington for $70 back 2013 or so by putting them on layaway. Some evil-hearted person broke into my car and stole them not long before I left for good. Those boots were not just gorgeous but they were comfortable and I could walk in them on snow and ice. That's kind of important because I have horrible balance issues. If anyone finds something like this for sale somewhere, let me know.

❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

Now there is one thing I am still trying to figure out. It puzzles me stupidly. Why do some people put an outrageously high price on an affordable item? I saw a Glossier You perfume solid priced at $1000. What???? I have posted a comment asking why and am awaiting an answer.

Anyway, I just thought I would share the love (or misery, depending on your budget) and tell you about this amazing online flea market kind of heaven. However, please do use common sense and be careful with your money and information. Read all the rules and check out what other users have to say about it. Not my responsibility if you get ripped off or go broke, my friend.

And, seriously, people, I need you to keep an eye out for those boots before winter gets here!

Peace
--Free


Here are the purses/totes I got.




I am kind of mad now that I got the Enzo bag. I got these two for just a little more than what the one Enzo cost and I like these so much better. Maybe I will try to sell the Enzo on Poshmark???





I was able to fit so much stuff in this bag that when I start emptying it, I look like I'm performing a magic trick. Such a beautiful and sturdy bag! And I really don't like the loud branding on "designer" bags so I love how discreetly Coach marked this one. (I have started writing a post about this very idea.)



Look at how nicely this workbag holds everything I need for a trip to the library. Sometimes, I will go over to my family's for a couple of days and this is perfect for packing up my laptop and writing notes. You know, for when my brain lets me write anything coherent!

And, uh, can someone tell my bougie behind what this little tag on the side of the workbag is for???




I only just recently learned what a "purse twilly" is and that Amazon sells them. Damn you, Bezos!
I am pretty sure that this kind of bag would not look great with a twill.  Oh well.

Don't forget to watch for the upcoming post on my thoughts about "designer" or luxury items.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Found the (almost) perfect purse

Guys, you might want to sit this one out. I am going to do a purse rant.

I love purses. Some ladies are shoe freaks or love putting together outfits. I will run around in jeans, leggings, and sneakers and be fully happy as long as I have a purse I like. And I am not a purse snob. I don't care if it costs 5 dollars or 500, as long as there is something about it that I like.

Like a lot of women, I go through phases with purses. For years, I carried gigantic purses - more like mini-suitcases. There was a time when I could go on a weekend trip and carry everything I needed in my purse and my jacket pockets. Then I went through a tiny-purse stage. I would carry something that held only gum, ID, cash, and (because I was a bad-habit gal then), a pack of smokes. Now I am back into the big-bag phase. My purses of late aren't as huge as I once liked, but I still prefer a "tote" to a crossbody-type bag.

My sister had a beautiful Coach handbag, a Coach clutch, and a Coach flat crossbody that she got for birthday gifts through the years.  I have a large leather tote that is labeled Coach but isn't a Coach and a "Foach" handbag that I got at a huge flea market type place in Texas where I also got a "Folex" watch. The bag was a pretty good fake too if you didn't look too closely at the stitching or notice that the zippers stuck. And there wasn't even a fake of the Coach number inside. I mean, it was a 20 dollar bag so what do you expect? But my sister, her handbag is a gorgeous Coach Madison bag that is just flawless. When she passed away, her daughter gave the purse to me. That was 5 years ago and I just started carrying the bag about a month ago. I get very self-conscious about carrying such a nice bag though since I am so cash poor. It's a little like people who wear designer suits to grocery shop with food stamps. Maybe I shouldn't care so much what people think.

Photo doesn't do it
justice

Anyway, I love the Madison bag because of the leather and chain strap and the roomy inside. I carry it every now and then because it reminds me of my sister and I still miss her so much that I can't stand it. But I don't want to wear out the fabric. I also don't want to risk getting it dirty or anything. So I needed a bag just as big and roomy.

I looked at some Rosetti bags because they are adorable and come in a very wide price range. Then I looked at some different purses on Amazon. My goal was to stay in the 20 to the 25-dollar range. I found quite a few really cute bags but nothing that was really just the right size and style. For some reason, I thought to go over to DSW. And, boy, do they have every kind of purse in every kind of price range. I spent about 2 weeks looking and comparing and putting purses into my online cart. Then I saw this one:


RYIN SATCHEL by Enzo Angiolini
If you copy/paste the name of the bag into the DSW search, you will see that it comes in about 3 or 4 different colors. I am not sure why they aren't all just posted on the same product page.

So cute and so roomy and so affordable. If I cut a little off my grocery budget for the next 2 weeks and use a little of my leftover birthday money. I put it in my cart and waited a few days. I went back and looked and didn't see anything nicer in the same price range. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the gold-tone metal accents and the fact that the bag is a little taller/deeper than I like. I prefer silver accents and a more shallow interior but there were no purses with those features that I liked and could afford so I got the Enzo. That dude has some really cute bag designs.




When the purse got here, I found that the gold-toned accents weren't too bad. And the purse has a couple of extra pockets that I hadn't noticed from the online photos. What?!







What makes them so hidden are the magnetic button closures that give them a seamless look against the sides of the bag. They are pretty roomy too. I found that, even with the bag stuffed, I can still fit my phone in one pocket and my fat phone charging case in the other. They are almost like hidden pockets - and I will tell you how hidden in a second. The bag looks great with the zippered "vents" opened or closed. I'm not crazy about the shape of the bag with the vents closed but, still.

The bag is perfect for holding a lot of stuff without looking stuffed. And there are so many pockets that I've been having fun rearranging things in them. (Yes, I live a sheltered and boring life.)

Not shown: 2 hidden side pockets

So, funny story about those hidden pockets.

I had an appointment for a medical test at the hospital and, of course, I carried the new purse. (It's not like any of us are getting out much these days, right?) When I got to the check-in station, I needed to show my identification. I reach into the purse and... no ID. I check one pocket, another pocket, and another pocket. The check-in lady was giving me suggestions like "Did you forget it at home?" and "Maybe you left it in the car?"

I spent a full ten minutes searching and, finally, the check-in lady said that I could give her some other verbal info to verify my identification. So I get checked in and go find a seat to wait to be called back for my test. I start going through my purse again because I am going to have a lot of problems if I have lost my wallet. I ended up pulling out everything and sitting it right there on the chair next to me and still no wallet. But I could feel some kind of weight in the purse. Too much weight for it to be completely empty. And... then I remember the hidden pockets on each side. My wallet was in one and my phone charger was in the other.

So, I love my purse but need to remember to check the hidden pockets.

The purse was double what I wanted to spend at 40 bucks but I will be okay as long as I don't get crazy when I go for groceries. DSW has a thing for members (and I forgot that I was one) where there are no shipping costs. Maybe that's for everyone? I don't know but it was helpful this time.

If you decide to get this bag, trust me and maybe don't use the hidden compartments the first time out.

Peace
--Free

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Love Spreads, Hate Seeps

Is anybody else just absolutely worn out from all this disruption of normalcy? It seems to be making me physically ill and we won't even get into what it's done to my fragile mental state.

Jenn gets me

NOTE: Because of my depression and the darkness of this post, I will be throwing in some images that may make you smile a little or think a lot.


I no longer want to read the news but can't help myself. It's like not wanting to peel back the bandaid to peek at a nasty injury but you have to know if it's getting better or worse. I'm just so tired and discouraged. Even if we do manage to start righting the ship that is our country, it's going to take a long time to fix the damage. And I am not even going to hold back when I say that it's got to start with getting Trump out of office. The man is a walking virus on peace and trust and cooperation.

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them that I didn't vote for Obama for his second term. I felt that he wasn't in line with my personal values as a Christian. Still, I look back and think today that he's such a stark contrast to Trump - and not because of Trump's so-called "Christian" values. Face it, the man is the antithesis of even human values. The contrast is in how the two men affect people just in holding the Office. My brother and I were talking about this the other day and my broken brain had a moment of intense clarity. I said, "Obama represented hope and unity while Trump represents hate and division."




I don't care whether you like Trump as a man or not (I like Obama as a man) but when it comes to the power he has to lead and rule, he's gone so far down the wrong road that we may never make it back.

When people tell me that Trump doesn't represent hate or white supremacy, I want to tell them about the incidents of racism and hate that's happened locally in the name of Trump. A family member called me crying in frustration because some of their family members have started flying Confederate flags and Klan and Nazi symbols.

Okay, let's say that Trump isn't the problem - if you can fix your mouth to do so...  Maybe he personally doesn't support racism and hate but he sure makes it acceptable for others to do so.  There are so many normal citizens who feel empowered to act out on their own ignorance and violence and they do this because they feel good about "their man in Office".

I won't go on like I could for days about this horrendous state we've gotten ourselves into but I have this personal idea about life. Love spreads from one person or situation to another. Hate seeps and creeps. It infects good people and bad. I know this is true because I think of myself as a good person but I am starting to feel hate. I hate the fools who are shaking all the tiny bits of progress we have made away from lynching, beatings, and "midnight rides" of the Klan days. I hate people who are so dangerous that they almost make me forget that not everyone is hateful and dangerous to me.


Back to Obama - and I have to say this - there is a joke among some black people about his contrast to Trump. When Obama was elected, some people joked that he would be the worst stereotype of a black man. He wasn't. He was married to one woman, had no known past disgraces, and did not hate "whitey". He tried to represent every citizen - of every race, gender, creed, and sexual orientation. Trump, on the other hand, has become the David Duke of the White House. He's had multiple marriages, dalliances, and bad business practices. Allegedly. The only thing left for him to do is don a white robe and one of those silly hats.

The worst thing about Trump though is not what he's doing but to whom. He's not benefitting the white supremacist as a person any more than he's benefitting my black ass. He's benefitting the House of Trump. He's benefitting the people who look and live like he does. I probably have more of a chance of being invited to a Trump family dinner than any of the poor whites who are fooled by him.


So I want to say to my fellow citizens - regardless of skin color - Trump has screwed us all. We are going to be living with and trying to clean up his mess of madness for a long time. He and his family will most likely still be rich and insulated from the daily life we have to cope with. He cares as much for you as he does for me.

We better all get it together and start working to make the government work for us again instead of the other way around. We are going to need to ask ourselves if we - regular people who shop at Target and Walmart and have to worry about gas prices and the cost of a loaf of bread - are better off than the people in charge of us.


Peace
--Free


P.S.: Happy 4th.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

UPDATED **SIFO**Humidity, AC, and Health

⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂

**UPDATE**

Just to let you know how it's been temp-wise in this apartment since I got the dehumidifier. For one thing, I can actually sleep through the night without having full-on sweats. I do still run both the ceiling and floor fans but I get the full effect of their cooling. I have not had to run my AC as much. I do turn it on if I have the curtains open (so the plants can get some sun) or if I am running the stove. I would estimate that before this, I ran my AC on the timer for around 4 to 5 hours a day. Since I got the dehumidifiers (I have more than one now), I have run the AC on the timer for about 3 hours total in the past 2 weeks. Of course, there were times before that I didn't run the AC but I was a hot, sweaty mess while I saved money. I can go without the AC now and it's very comfortable.

The reason I now have 3 devices is that the seller,  (who I can HIGHLY recommend because of their customer service) responded to a concern I had with the quality of the 2nd model (the MD303). I love the first model (the MD300) and I let them know that, while the MD303 worked, I didn't feel it was better or as good. What I wanted was to return the MD303 and replace it with another MD300. The seller was so responsive that they immediately shipped out a replacement and told me to just keep the MD303.  That is service. So I have 3 devices.

I keep the MD303 in a spot between the living room and kitchen and I don't check it as often. I emptied and turned the ones in the bedroom on at about the same time in the evening. This is where the AC covers when it runs so the dehumidifier doesn't have to work as hard. This is what it looks like after about running for about 16 hours:

MD303


This is what the device next to the bed looks like at 10 hours:

MD300



This is how much the device that is nearest the bedroom window collected in about 10 hours.


MD300
Maybe I should put
2 by the window!

So, yes this is working better than I expected. If I had been smart (or able), I would have gotten a mid-to-large size device. That's not feasible for my living space arrangement though. I wouldn't be able to place it out of the way or deal with draining it as needed.

⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂⁂




Sorry about that title. I wasn't quite sure how to get my point over in a few words. This post is about is my experience using a dehumidifier to cool the air inside my apartment.

The summer climate here is humid and hot. We get temps up to 95 degrees (sometimes more). Add in our humidity - currently 85 degrees with 44% humidity - and you get to experience living life in a constant sauna.**

By the way, I found some useful information about the effects of humidity on this website along with this useful graphic:



WebMD has an old article about high humidity potentially slowing the spread of flu. I have to wonder what effect it has on COVID. In the end, I decided that being able to breathe at all with less humidity is worth whatever the risk. And I knew that I needed to get myself a dehumidifier.

I hate shopping for appliances. They are pricier than most other household purchases and there are usually so many brands and types to choose from. I spent a couple of days searching for something affordable and with good ratings - you know, as I do with everything. I chose this one:



My plan - as always when I spend over 20 bucks - was to try it out for a couple of days to see if it was going to be a keeper. Thankfully, I got some birthday money to use on the purchase. I was supposed to get something "fun". Oh, well.

Man, this thing is working much better than I expected. First of all, I wasn't sure that it would actually affect the temps in the apartment. I read a lot of reviews for a lot of devices and more than a few customers complained that they noticed no difference at all. Of course, this particular device got a high percentage of positive reviews - which is why I chose it. It's not a well-known brand so...

I chose a spot on the bedside table because it's near where I use my computer during the day. Also, my main reason for getting this thing is because sleeping in all this humidity reminds me of my menopausal night sweats. Not fun.

I turned on the machine at around 11:40 in the morning and within half an hour or so I noticed that my room did feel more comfortable. I checked to see if the device had accumulated any moisture at around 2:30 pm. There was slightly over 1 tablespoon of water in the reservoir. That seemed high in my opinion. When I went back and looked at the instructions, I realized I was supposed to close the windows and doors. I closed my window but left the door open as I always do. (I slept with the window and door closed and the machine only collected about twice the amount overnight. Seems legit.)

Kind of hard to see

The room became much more comfortable. As I usually do, I had the ceiling and floor fans going but that's never helped as much as I like. With the dehumidifier running, I was able to feel the cool air from the fans. My room has never felt that comfortable on a hot day even with the AC running. The AC unit is in the living room and the only time I feel really cool is when I am sitting directly in the path of the airflow. I don't think that's how it's supposed to work.

Let me back up and mention that this whole thing started when I was Googling information about my air conditioner. I was trying to find out if I should be contacting maintenance. The AC has always been iffy. It's moody and works better on some days than others. Ever since the temps heated up this summer, all the tenants have been complaining. I figured it might be because we are seeing higher temps and because everyone is locked down and using theirs.

Every troubleshooting checklist looked much the same. They suggested checking the filter (mine is new and clean) and making sure the ducts are clean (I'm not sure what 'ducts' they mean but I just had my AC unit serviced).  The last remedy was to check the level of humidity in the space. Apparently, high humidity basically cancels out the cooling effect of air conditioning.

Who knew? Not me. Never thought about it after all my years of living in Alaska. We never had a home there with air conditioning.

So that's how this all started.

The one problem I had was trying to figure out what type of machine I needed for the space in my apartment. You have to factor in things like your square footage (yeah, me doing math) and placement. You can see the size of my room for yourself. It's a mess but at least you can see what size place this particular machine works so well for.



I have not had to use my AC since I got this machine. I can really appreciate the effects at night. I can shut the window and turn on the fans and... Listen, I had zero night sweats and I've only slept so good here in the winter.

Because this worked out so well and is saving my using the AC, I have chosen a second one for the front of the apartment. My kitchen and living room can get sweltering without the AC. I have more and bigger windows in the living room and get almost direct sunlight. I have to keep my bread and other such things in the fridge so they don't mold.

So, yep. If you ever wondered whether a dehumidifier would help with cooling your living space, I can tell you how well this one is working for me. The cost of the first one was just slightly less than my summer utility bill and the one I just ordered is only a few dollars more than the first (I got a housewares protection plan for a few dollars more, just in case.)

I won't link here to the brand I got. I think that everyone really needs to read the reviews and find one on their own. If you really want to know, you can reverse search or zoom on the photo.

Peace
--Free

P.S.: I checked the temp again just now before bedtime and before scheduling this post. It's midnight and the temp is 68 degrees with 88% humidity. No joke:




Thursday, June 25, 2020

COVID Is Making Us Crazy

Damn you, 2020. Damn. You.

This surely has been a hell of a year, hasn't it? We are still dealing with the COVID and, sadly, still dealing with a lot of the racial unrest we thought we'd half-beat in the '50s. And people everywhere are just restless about everything. Restless, unsure, and a little bit stir crazy, I think.

I have been lucky not to have caught that nasty virus although I had a scare the other day. I started feeling dizzy, weak, and just crappy in general a few days after my weekly meds wore off. I thought, Uh oh, here we go. I locked down tighter than usual, not even going out of the apartment to empty the trash or check the mailbox. I wore my mask even though no one was inside my place and I washed my hands so much that I triggered my psoriasis. The biggest scare was losing my appetite. (The only time I lose my appetite is when I am worried. ) Thankfully, after a couple of days, I started feeling better and I really hope all is well. Who knows? I have no idea what it takes to get tested. I'm going to ask at my next doctor's appointment.

Once I got over my scare, I was able to get out and go walking with my walking buddy. She walks almost every day but I join her when I feel up to it. On our last walk, she kind of blew my mind. Here in our little town, I haven't run into a lot of aggressive racial issues. People tend to keep their opinions to themselves and remain civil. For the most part. My walking buddy is someone who only "got used" to being around black people later in her life. She's not the most politically correct person but I appreciate her honesty and perspective. Whenever she offends me, I let her know and she returns the favor. We are learning from each other.

During our walk, my buddy and I were talking about nothing serious at all. I was wearing my mask which is something I haven't done on our outdoor walks. I figured I was safer in the fresh air and with the social distancing. After my scare, I put that mask on so fast I almost broke a strap. During the walk, I was almost drowning in the condensation under the mask. Our little town is already so humid that it takes me months to get through a small bottle of lotion. Walking our route around the lake is a little breezier but still humid.

My buddy casually asked if I didn't want to take off my mask. I had sweat pouring down my face and I must have looked miserable. I told her that I needed to be a little extra careful. Every now and then, I'd lift the bottom of the mask, gulp some cooler air, and go back to suffocating again. My neighbor  joked that I looked like some of "the crazy foreigners she'd recently seen."

Wait. What?

She started explaining that she had seen some "of those women who walk around covered up like criminals". I had to think about what she was saying. Was she being mean? Ignorant? Paranoid? Stupid?

I asked who she was talking about. Muslims? Plain Folk? The Amish? (It's common to see a few members of each of these groups around town.)

"You know - those terrorist people."

Wow. Wow. I was stunned. I felt mad, sad, and just kind of disgusted.

"If you mean the Muslims, they are no more 'terrorist' than anyone else. They aren't the Klan."

I don't know if she knew how to take this. She didn't say anything for a long time and I think she wanted to feel some kind of way toward me. The only thing we talked about for the rest of the walk was the weather, the passersby, and how pretty the lake was.

When I got home, I was so upset that I felt twitchy.

My walking buddy has had very limited exposure to the world outside the Midwest. And I get it that she is close to eighty and white and a little sheltered. What I don't get is how she felt like it was okay to say something so thoughtless to me.

You know how you get upset about something but you only think of good responses when it's too late? That was me. I was sitting in the apartment wondering if I should have asked her how 'terroristic' she thought I was. I pondered ordering a Black Panther T-shirt to wear around the building - or better yet, a mask with a Black Power fist on it.

The thing about anger against ignorance is that it can sometimes make you react ignorantly.

I am so glad that I got a chance to cool down before I saw my walking buddy again. I didn't mention the 'incident' but I can't wait for our next walk. I want to remind her that older people like us need to be examples of decency for those who come after us. The whole reason we are having such turmoil now is that we were allowed to view and entire groups of people through the lens of stereotypes and ignorance.

Let me put my personal opinion out there:

  • Black lives matter. And that doesn't mean that all lives don't matter, but right now we are talking about violence against black people so let's put egos aside and stay on point.
  • All cops are not bad. Some cops are dangerous. For my walking buddy to view anyone wearing Muslim garb as 'terroristic' is about as intelligent as me saying the same about all cops - or all whites.
  • Being old doesn't excuse ignorance. As long as you have a working brain, you have the ability to learn. Learning kills ignorance. I don't have a fully working brain and I can comprehend that much.
  • We better realize that "me against you" battle we are in right now is meant to make us forget that we should all be working against the greater, more powerful, more dangerous idea of "them". Those of us down here on the battleground forget that we might be fighting someone else's war.
I have an acquaintance who is a very proud "Reagan Republican". I respect that. I don't agree with it, but I understand. When I remind this person that I am proud of the good done by groups like the Black Panthers, I get lectured about the all the negatives portrayed about the BPP. One day, I need to make a list of all my grievances against Reagan. Or I can be the bigger person and just stay with "I don't agree but I understand."

And back to the Black Lives/All Lives thing. I can't remember where I saw it but someone summed it up well as "Don't come to my funeral and make the mourning about you."

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

**REVIEW** Resolve Easy Clean Pro Carpet Cleaner Gadget

This apartment is tiny and I am tidy but the carpets are terrible. The fibers are cheap and flatten if you look at them. Also, the carpeting shows every speck of dirt. 90 percent of the time, I am the only living being here so I've managed to keep it decent. Mostly. I have had to blot up a few coffee and juice spills. Also, I have knocked over more than one potted plant.

My 3-year move-in anniversary is just around the corner so I guess my carpets aren't that bad. It probably helps that I have a really good vacuum. Still, dirt happens.

I have tried all kinds of foams, sprays, and powders. I misread somewhere once that I could get up more grime by sprinkling a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Misread. The article was actually about using the concoction to get rid of odors. At any rate, I ended up getting the sticky powder mess all over the outside of my vacuum and clothes. It was a total ache in the hind parts. Never again.

I was almost to the point of pricing carpet machine rentals. Then I ran across this:



And then this:

Look how happy she looks. Happy to be cleaning...

That's the Resolve Easy Clean Pro Carpet Cleaner Gadget, folks. I love that they call it a gadget and didn't give it some fancier b.s type of name.

This is what I want: to use a scrub brush without having to do kill my back and knees. And then I saw the price and was very happy. When I got mine a few days ago, the price was just under $19 for the gadget and a can of the foam. I checked back just now and see that the price has skyrocketed up to - get this - over 40 bucks.

unassembled

Let me tell you all about how I love this thing first, then I will tell you that there is no way I would pay over $25 for it. So all the positives I list are for the price I paid (or up to $25):

The worst part of the carpet is in the immediate entryway and it looked like before cleaning:

You can see how dirty it is leading to the kitchen from the front door

Less dingy and much softer




PROS:

  • Fairly easy to assemble (took me 15 minutes only because I had a little trouble getting one part of the handle to connect).
  • Comes with a can of cleaning foam.
  • The foam had no chemical-ly or overly toxic-like odor. I did have the windows open and ceiling fans going but there were none of those cough-inducing fumes some products have.
  • Disperses the foam in even patterns. This made it easy for me to clean the carpet in grid sections.
  • With the scrubber, it was even easy to get the edges clean (where the carpet meets the linoleum) and I always had trouble with that area.
  • I didn't have to kneel to scrub and crawl around on the damp floor.
  • The included foam was decent enough. For my moderately dirty carpet, this worked really well. I don't think it would do a great job on heavier staining.
  • The scrubber works really well for brushing the foam into the carpet fibers. I have cheap apartment carpet where the fibers flatten easily. The scrubber helped raise the nap which made the carpet look "revived".
  • The dried foam vacuumed up well without leaving a lot of residue and it felt so much softer afterward. 
  • The device is easy to rinse clean when finished and the handle can be disassembled for storage if needed. (It doesn't take up much space as is so I am leaving it assembled and stored with the rest of the mops and brooms.)
CONS:
  • The handle is slightly flimsy. I had to grip with one hand higher up and the other hand lower down to apply good pressure without worrying about breaking the handle. (I am thinking of wrapping the entire handle with packing or duct tape to strengthen it.)
  • One can of the foam isn't enough to treat even a small section of medium-soiled carpet. I am guesstimating that my entryway (more than seen in the photos) is around 6' x 8' and I used over 2.5 cans of foam.
  • The foam worked better when I lightly dampened the carpet with a spray bottle first. The water helped the foam penetrate better and helped cut back on the amount of foam I had to use so I highly recommend that.
  • The Pet Xpert foam that came with the device didn't seem to work as well as the additional High Traffic foam I bought.  This is fair because the High Traffic is advertised as having "3 times more dirt removal.  (And I noticed that the Pet Xpert that is sold separately is different than what came with the device. All the single cans are marked with "5x" the benefits. The can I got did not have this on the can.)
  • I don't have pets or kids so I can't comment on the smell "removal" but I didn't get a hint of any kind of "fresh" smell afterward. But the foam didn't stink either so... 
  • In the humid climate I live in, the foam took way more than the suggested 2 hours to dry. To be fair, I did dampen the carpet and I did go over some areas more than once with the foam. In the end, I started cleaning around 3 and finished in a couple of hours. I checked the carpet at around 8 and it was still damp. I left it to finish drying overnight.

You can tell that the cleaner highlights the slight dinginess of the parts I didn't clean. I will deal with that later by going over the rest of the carpet lightly,

Overall, I am really glad that I got this thing - especially at that good price. I hate cleaning my carpet just because of the bending and scrubbing by hand. I get dirty, my clothes get dirty and wet and, ugh! This way was also better because I was able to do more scrubbing with less work. The High Traffic cans of foam did an amazing job.

Because this made carpet cleaning easier, I am thinking of doing the chore on a more regular basis.

The one thing that stops me from recommending this as highly as I could is the more expensive price. I would suggest watching the price (maybe use Honey or another price-watch app) for a drop. If they were selling it at under 19 bucks so recently, they'll probably do that again. By the way, the 4 cans of High Traffic foam cost me around 16 bucks. Since I still have a couple of cans left, I think that's a bargain. Because the carpet is now clean, I will be able to use those additional cans for spot-cleaning.

This will make a great gift for someone older or with a back bad. Just make sure to wrap the handle if you feel it's too flimsy for you. And don't forget to slightly dampen the carpet first!

Peace
--Free