Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Ring. That Time of Year, Again.

Every year at this time (usually earlier, hospital got in the way) I read The Lord of the Rings, again. I have done so since 1971 when the trilogy was still riding high with young people and in colleges around the world. 

It began innocently enough: like most others who had read the books, there was this feeling that we missed so much on first read that we had to read it again.  And, of course, that was very, very true. In fact, each year when I read the trilogy I find some new bit of text I could swear wasn’t there before - yet I am reading from the same old hard cover books I’ve had since 1974.

I do love the films and watch them from time to time, (all hail Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens!) but there is something about submerging oneself in Tolkien’s written text and imagination and allowing it to wash over you that transcends the visual.  

So colour me Elvish as I spotted this story at the BBC about the social impact of the trilogy beginning in the 1960s.  It’s well worth the read and brings back a lot of memories from my early days in the anti-war movement and the gay rights movement. 

Truth be told - - I had a "Frodo Lives!" tee-shirt in 1969.

From the BBC:
Hobbits and hippies: Tolkien and the countercultureIt was a time of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Not to mention protest against the Vietnam War and marches for civil rights and the women’s movement. Who would think a figurehead for this social upheaval would be a tweedy Christian philologist at Oxford? But during the 1960s, a time of accelerating social change driven in part by 42 million Baby Boomers coming of age, Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings became  required reading for the nascent counterculture, devoured simultaneously by students, artists, writers, rock bands and other agents of cultural change. The slogans ‘Frodo Lives’ and ‘Gandalf for President’ festooned subway stations worldwide as graffiti.
Middle Earth, JRR Tolkien’s meticulously detailed and mythic alternate universe, was created against the backdrop of two world wars.  As a professor at Oxford , Tolkien taught Anglo-Saxon, Old Icelandic and medieval Welsh and translated Beowulf, which inspired his later monsters. His fantasy vision, and his sense of evil looming over the good life, was shaped by his devout Catholicism and his experience serving in World War I, in which he lost all but one of his close friends.  “The Dead Marshes and the approaches to the Morannon owe something to northern France after the Battle of the Somme," he wrote in a 1960 letter. Frodo and Sam struggling to reach Mordor is a cracked mirror reflection of the young soldiers caught in the blasted landscape and slaughter of trench warfare on the Western Front.


For decades, fans have been obsessed with Tolkien’s Great War of the Ring, with its wizards and magicians, the legions of hobbits, dwarves, elves, orcs, giants, ents, the dragon Smaug guarding his treasure and the threatening Dark Lord. They were popular initially but sales of The Hobbit (published in 1937) and The Lord of the Rings (beginning in 1954) exploded in the mid-1960s, driven by a young generation charmed by Tolkien’s imaginative abundance, the splendour of his tales from a pre-Christian time and his obsessive cataloguing of the history, language and geography of his invented world. But deeper than this, certain aspects of Tolkien’s worldview matched the perspective of hippies, anti-war protestors, civil rights marchers and others seeking to change the established order. In fact, the values articulated by Tolkien were ideally suited for the 1960s counterculture movements. Today we'd think of Tolkien’s work as being aligned with the geek set of Comic-Con, but it was once closer to the Woodstock crowd.

Go and read the rest of it HERE.

Note: Even if these are available as ebooks, I wouldn't buy them. The thought of all the typos and other misspellings would haunt me for whatever time I have left on this earth.  So, there! My old Hard Covers are it for the next couple of weeks.

I am amazed

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Just another Caturday...


And...repeat.

More later.
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Friday, November 21, 2014

From Pain Comes Pizza.


Being a shut in today and that’s OK, especially after such a rough and restless night. Leg and ankle swelling made getting into a comfortable position a physical challenge. I sat up most of the night reading; falling asleep whenever I could.

As it now stands, Ireland is going to be hosting friend Linda another week. The results of the original biopsy proved inconclusive so she had to endure another one, having to wait for these results until early next week.  How the results could be inconclusive she says she can’t understand because the chunk of flesh they took out of her was quite large.

Anyway, she’s stuck.  Be that as it may, she told me this morning that flight reservations are made for next Thursday (our puny Thanksgiving - and what it’s become - means nothing to the Irish) so she is planning to come home no matter what the results of the latest biopsy reveal.  One can tell, even by the written words, that she is one pissed off Irish Lass and most folks would be wantin’ to stay out of her way these next few days.  

Jeffrey just checked in to see if I was in need and if I felt up to meeting him for an after-shift cocktail today. I nixed the cocktail idea but asked if he would deliver a small pizza after work from my fave place. He said it wouldn’t be a problem. We’ll try to meet up for a festive cocktail later in the weekend, if possible.

A fresh pizza - delivered! That’s great! I have no beer, but a shot of Jameson’s might be in order. With the swollen legs, pain and weakness, I couldn’t prepare a hot meal for myself tonight, anyway. I am pretty tired of cold turkey sandwiches, of you get my drift.

A nice reward for putting up with the pain. Pain meds following the pizza should put me down for the rest of the night and I’ll be on my feet (literally) tomorrow morning.

I am amazed.
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Into The Woods - Trailer.

It's taken a long time to get this play to the screen.

Anticipation: Sondheim, Rob Marshall, Musical Score.



Apprehension: Disney Studios.

Unuf said.
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Blood, Jettison of Shorts & Touchdown of Kilts.

One Style of Modern Utility Kilt
Unfortunately, Labs results yesterday told me I needed to be infused. The hemoglobin was down a full point - below the cut off point for my own safety. 

One unit was ordered and the port remained accessed for convenience. An appointment for blood was quickly set up for this morning at 9 am.

Nicole offered to do the honors, even if it is her day off. In return I promised a bit of winter shopping and a stop for lunch at the restaurant of her choice. She giggle and said she’d like nothing more than a burger on the beach if the weather was warmer and the winds weren’t so strong. We settled for something a little less uncomfortable - and indoors.

While I was somewhat disappointed in the outcome of the tests, the up side is that I went 2 weeks without requiring new blood. That and the fact that the platelets remain in high numbers as do the neutrophil count give me hope.   Slowly, but surely…

Patience, please! 

The infusion went well, though a little slower than usual, but I was still ready for lunch about 1 pm. And I was HUNGRY!!!  Enuf said.  

The afternoon flew by after lunch as Nicole and I traipsed around the area scouting out shopping venues for special items she wants to get her grandparents and friends. We had a good time and when we were finally done, I was pretty beat and ready for the drive home - and bed. 

I will be in bed in a few minutes and I’m sure she’ll be the same when she gets home shortly. She’s off the rest of the day, no new homework to contend with until Monday.  Her last class is tomorrow morning so I can assume she is in “chill” mode for the weekend.

Casual Tartans with sporrans.
Following 2 days of outings this week I am ready for shut-in mode, if for no other reason than to address the edema in the ankles and calves.  They are quite large after being on my feet for so long. The Kilt with soft loose cotton socks helps alleviate the itching and redness. I even bought a pair of those Eddie Bauer men’s thin lounging light-weight flannel pants, but they’re still too annoying on the front of the shins and calves.  

So, shorts or kilts are the items to remember for daily dress.  I’ve been receiving many compliments on the kilts this past week or two. So, I have a new attitude towards kilts vs. shorts.  Shorts big and baggie and not comfortable even after their washing and drying yesterday. But none of that is true with a kilt,  so as not to cause additional injury or more pain the kilt wins hands (pants!) down.

I’m totally hooked on kilts now. And…I don’t look half bad wearing one,
Similar Style to my old black one. I love it.
either. I am partial to the utility kilts due to their rugged design, heavy duty fabric, double stitching, and the over all comfortable feel. The "drop" is usually between 22" and 24" and depends on how you wear it at the waist. I'm pretty comfortable with either length, but am more used to the older 24" drop.

So, there you have it.

If you’d like more information on a small reputable company with great prices and the best shipping and customer service, just send me an email message and I’ll get the info off to you.  Or, if you’d like, I can post the info here and you can take it from there on your own. 

I am amazed.
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Wildlife in the Snow. Rare!

And very very stoopid!



A Bear in Buffalo, New York caught doing what the non-hibernating side of the species do during a snowstorm that will eventually  dump 9 inches of lake-effect snow on the area.

***Courtesy of the Daily Mail, UK. Seems readers of the paper would love nothing more than for this nightmare to fall upon them.  Careful what you wish for.

You can’t make this up.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ear-worms, Errands, & Early Winter


This is what I woke up humming this morning. I must say I could play this score all day and not tire of it.  The brilliant Michael Ball & Il Divo - what’s not to love?  Yes, in case you didn’t already know, I am an incurable romantic.  So shoot me!


Jeffrey picked me up early and we set out in the (suddenly) frigid cold weather.  What happened?  Yesterday it was in the 50s and today we’re shivering in the 28’ F range with 20 mph winds!  And…I cannot wear long trousers because of the leg rash. All my summer shorts are in the laundry Jeffrey was taking home to wash for me and the only sweats I have are way too big for me nowadays. Three of me could fit in them. Not a great look, if you get my drift.

So guess who wore a kilt again today? The more I wear them, the more I love them. I wore the Scottish Wool one - and yes, with underwear - along with a tee-shirt under a long sleeve sport shirt and covered all with a hoodie. When he picked me up, Jeffrey thought I was nuts since he was bundled like an Eskimo or a frozen Elf.  Take your pick.

With lists in hand, we were off!

I had sets of house keys made for Jeffrey and Nicole, so they can get in if I’m not up to opening the door, for any reason. I also shopped for a small electric space heater for the bathroom. There is no vent in there for the central heat and the thermostat died in the old heater that's 10 years old. Bought that, too.

With winter making its early debut, Jeffrey wanted to look for flannel sport shirts.  We stopped at Eddie Bauer, Bass, and Dickies.  Finally found one he liked, a handsome plaid and well made; I probably should have followed his lead, but thought I’ll hold off a bit and see how the money goes. 

Hit the pharmacy for a refilled script that has done wonders for an annoying dry cough I’ve had since the hospital. The cough is almost gone completely. Grocery shopping was next then we headed for a few hot coffees and breakfast.

Happily, the wool kilt kept my torso and lower body warm. Because of the strong winds the only thing to get cold (now stop with the evil minds!) was my nose. The old Twig & Berries were fine, thank you. The hoodie kept my head and ears toasty and the feet weren't bothered at all.

Walked in the door around noon to a strange “chirp” sound that Jeffrey recognized immediately.  I was clueless until we walked into the bedroom.  The chirp was emanating from the smoke alarm, (which I thought was electrical since I had never changed a battery in the years I’ve been here) so Jeffrey asked for a 9V battery and hunted down the battery location inside the device.  Thank the Goddess he was here because I  could not have climbed a ladder to search for the hidden pocket. 

It took him a few minutes of huffing and cursing, following wires, setting off the test alert a few times, to zero in on the exact location. Let’s just say the battery compartment is well hidden. The battery power is only used if the electrical power goes off and it functions silently. How would I have known of the battery’s existence?  I wouldn’t. But FIVE years? That's some long-lasting battery.

He grabbed the laundry bag, the last of the house plants, and the new set of keys.  Then he gave me a hug and headed for home.

After putting everything away, I got into bed and took a short nap. Woke up a while ago with leg and back pain, had a quick sandwich for supper and took a pain med. I am tired, so I think I’ll snuggle into bed and read a few hours until I fall asleep.

Another day of adventure and misadventures; and tomorrow begins with Labs at the Center. Not sure I can stand being out of the house two days in a row.

I am amazed.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

ABBA, Answers, & Baba Ganoush


Greeted the day with little pain and no dizziness. Drank 2 large glasses of orange juice while brewing a coffee. Feeling pretty good today.

The song swirling around in my brain when I awoke this morning was “Take A Chance On Me” once a not-so-big hit by ABBA. Fortunately, the song was included on the one CD I have of the group, so as soon as the sun  came up and I was sure not to disturb anyone, I played the thing just to get it out of my head.

Called the Center today with important questions for the doctors. The nurses in Triage helped me out a lot explaining some of the reactions I am experiencing and can expect for a while, as the body works up to its “new normal”. Then I talked with the doctors.  I took a lot of notes. I had to. As I re-read them they sounded more complicated than they actually are. Common sense stuff, really.  

So now I kind of know what to expect. The reason most of this information wasn’t given upon release is that people react differently in similar circumstances and it is easier to focus on an individual after the fact when they experience specific symptoms. At least that’s what they told me. In other words if it didn’t happen to you it’s not relevant to your situation. So there!

The bottom line is:
Recovery will take a long time.
Expect mild to severe pain at any time.
Take medications on schedule daily.
Get plenty of rest.
Be aware of minor physical & mental changes.
Be aware of internal bleeding.
Watch for external bruising, skin discoloration, and rashes.
Pushing the body to heal quicker can cause a relapse.
Sleep whenever possible.
Do not drive a vehicle until you know you can.
Drink plenty of water.
Eat when hungry. Force-feeding is not good for the body.
Eat what gives most pleasure, on Neutropenic diet.
Eat plenty of cooked fruit and vegetables.

Now, that’s a lot to be conscious of on a daily basis.

The truth be told, if it wasn’t for those three taking care of me from day one out of hospital, I wouldn’t be here now. It really is that simple. And to think that Linda already had an over all plan of care before I even got home is mind-blowing. She’s a very insightful woman.

On a funny note, I contacted the Funeral Home to set up an appointment to discuss my “wants and wishes” regarding a funeral. The person answering the phone couldn’t be bothered and told me to complete the survey/questionnaire at their website. I suppose those close to death or their family members don’t need personal, customer service when a few questions answered online can whip out the perfect service for their needs. Maybe I’ll answer the questions at a later date, right now I can’t stop shaking my head and laughing. 

To brighten my day I just received an email from my Visa Card company offering to turn my miles into gift cards.  Ten thousand points equals a $100 gift card. I think I will choose an Amazon card and spend it on myself since I’ve bought a lot of ebooks lately and there are a few other items I would like to order, not the least of which is proper kilt hose, or socks. With the temperatures dropping and the inability to wear long trousers (due to the leg rash), I think I’ll need a little help keeping warm this winter. Though my legs seldom get cold, my body has changed and ain’t what it used to me. 

I’ll keep - and add to - those points in the off chance that I can use the air miles for an upcoming holiday somewhere away from here.  Hey!  One can dream, can one?

Going to ask Jeffrey to take me grocery shopping tomorrow. I’ve suddenly got a craving for Baba Ganoush. I need a healthy snack to munch on while on the computer or reading. Now if I can find enough energy to prepare it, all will be well. I will use store-bought Tahini, no energy to make my own.

ABBA has been playing in an endless loop in the background all day.  Aaarrrrrggggghhhhh !!!

I am amazed.
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Healing, History, and Helpful Advice


Having taken a painkiller with the evening meds after supper last night, I brushed my teeth and settled into bed. Started a new e-book on the history of Scotland and got taken away for a few hours before feeling the desperate need for sleep.  Just what I hoped for, anyway. Slept like a baby, too. 

“How the Scots Invented the Modern World” is a surprisingly quick read and - for what it is - extremely easy to follow. I thought that after reading all the Civil War, American Political History stuff, it was time to take a crack at the other side of the pond. I’ve watched the multi-episode BBC series on the subject, but this is quite different.  

I received a poignant letter from a blogger buddy turned friend today, offering much wise advice regarding my physical and emotional healing and allowing time to let it happen. His words ring true, indeed. I need to follow them and think only about myself right now. Listen to my body and not try to rush the recovery process.  I don’t have to force myself to be productive so quickly after what I’ve been through. Feel vindicated in my attitude after reading and digesting his letter. Most of all, there is no reason to feel “antsy” about anything. I must learn how to rest. Now, I have help.

Unfortunately, my new V shaped pillow did not arrive in yesterday’s post.  Well, they gave a 4-day delivery window, after all. I just need to find more patience, is all. Will someone please send me a whole lot of patience - - - and hurry!

It’s great to be able to text Linda in Ireland. We had a half hour chat while she rode the train from Belfast back to Dublin yesterday. As it stands now, she is supposed to receive her test results tomorrow (Monday) so we’ll know the good or not so good news.  If she comes back this week, or not. She truly believes it’s really nothing, but it’s the not-knowing that’s driving everyone crazy.

Just a reminder; I cannot navigate the strairs unless someone is physically present in case I lose my center of balance. That’s why I must be a shut-in most of the time.  As I’m learning, not necessarily a bad thing. This also means that I cannot yet drive myself anywhere, either. The center of balance and motion thing again, I guess. I will know more when I talk with the doctor this week. 

Nicole was supposed to pick me up on the way to Dos Locos this afternoon where I hoped to spend an hour or two, but as I got out of the shower I felt a wave of achy pain and some dizziness, and made it to the bed without taking a fall. So I sent a text telling her I’m OK and we’ll do it another time. 

Got hungry a little while ago so I made it to the kitchen for a bit of cheese and crackers and a fruit cup. I’m feeling better…but it’s back to bed now.

And so it goes.
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Saturday, November 15, 2014

An Antsy Shut-in Kind of Weekend


This weekend marks 2 weeks out of hospital, and my, how the time does fly!!! And today I am antsy.

No personal post on Friday. Mostly hung out in bed, reading or sleeping. Ate very little, didn’t feel hungry. Just tired without energy, so being a shut-in wasn’t a bad thing. 

This feels very strange. I pretty much slept from 2:30pm Friday until 1:30am today. Woke up feeling fine, without any appetite to speak of, though I ate cereal and had a coffee followed by a bagel with cream cheese and preserves. 

This is the second or third time I’ve experienced this kind of episode since leaving hospital and I think it’s time to ask the doctors about it.  Which I will do on Monday. Meanwhile, this sleeping/napping 12 to 16 hours a day is taking a big chunk out of that “borrowed time” I’m living on right about now. 

Will try to get someone to take me out tomorrow morning - maybe even have breakfast - just to get out and about for a while. Enough to tire me out from actually exerting myself, if you get my drift.I am not going to get any stronger, or prettier just sitting around like Joe Egg and I need to build my strength and stamina.

Found 2 listings for small apartments at Craigslist and put through calls to both of them.  It is the weekend, after all, so I may not hear anything, but then again. 

Some people tell me I ought to relax and watch TV or a movie, but I am not interested in being in a passive mode right now. I can’t sit still for that kind of “entertainment” nowadays. I’ve watched a few YT music videos but that’s the extent of my viewing pleasure.

I’m antsy and need to be engaged in something.  But, what? I think I need an anxiety medication about now.

And so it goes.

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Star Wars Caturday



More later.
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Friday, November 14, 2014

The Kinks: Give Up The Complicated Life

As I play shut in again today, waiting for my V-shaped Pillow from the UK,  as well as another small package from UTKilts to arrive today, I remember this song as one of the best of the Kinks. You can listen to the video and read the tongue-in-cheek lyrics below.


"Complicated Life"

Well I woke this morning with a pain in my neck,
A pain in my heart and a pain in my chest,
I went to the doctor and the good doctor said,
You gotta slow down your life or you're gonna be dead,
Cut out the struggle and strife,
It only complicates your life.

Well I cut down women, I cut out booze,
I stopped ironing my shirts, cleaning my shoes,
I stopped going to work, stopped reading the news,
I sit and twiddle my thumbs cos I got nothing to do,
Minimal exercise,
To help uncomplicate my life,
Gotta stand and face it life is so complicated,
Ladi dah di dahdah, ladi dah di dah dah,
You gotta get away from the complicated life, son,
Life is overrated, life is complicated,
Must alleviate this complicated life.

Cut out the struggle and strife,
It's such a complicated life.

Like old Mother Hubbard
I got nothin' in the cupboard,
Got no dinner and I got no supper,
Holes in my shoes, I got holes in my socks,
I can't go to work cos I can't get a job,
The bills are rising sky high,
It's such a complicated life,
Gotta stand and face it,
Life is so complicated.
Ladi dah di dahdah, ladi dah di dah dah
Gotta get away from the complicated life, son,
Life is overrated, life is complicated,
Must alleviate this complicated life.

Gotta get away from the complicated life, son,
Gotta get away from the complicated life.

And so it goes.
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