Tuesday, August 3, 2010

No, you're not crazy...

No, you haven't clicked onto the wrong site and you haven't lost your mind (about this anyway, lol). I have completely re-done the color scheme, font, and a few other things on my blog. 

If you remember from an earlier post, I had been playing with changes and accidentally loaded the new blog layout and lost the old one before I was ready to make the change.  I liked the basic structure of the new layout but was never happy with the colors on the new fill-in one. I'm much more satisfied with this one...it has a clean peaceful air to it.

I've changed fonts from my personal favorite for years, Comic Sans MS, to Trebuchet. I hated giving up my old favorite but felt that Trebuchet was easier on the eyes/easier to read so I've made the change. I like the font's clean line.  I don't know about everyone else but the way things are laid out really impacts my ability to read with CFS...especially on bad days.

It's taken me forever to find where and how to code the line spacing wider. That's so basic...wonder why they don't include that in the quick changes.  (I find all the default spacing things make it harder for me to read with CFS.). I had to search for where/how to code the line spacing and go into HTML to change it.

The designers are writing the code differently on the new Blogger templates...things have different names and it's harder to find things.  Some of it looks more pared down...some things seem 'hidden',  packed into new terms, and the items not all spelled out.  The terminology has definitely changed. It may have something to do with using CSS and style sheets now, as well as HTML.

I'm not big into coding so I can't explain it well...it's just different. I've learned enough over time to go in and make changes and play with things but I'm having to add a new layer of knowledge to make changes I knew how to do before.  There isn't much info out there either on the new style templates and coding. Most of the info available  uses the old wording that I'm used to.

I still haven't been able to find out how to add more padding/space around my blog posts (inside the post area) so they don't run almost right to the edge. I hate the crowded look it gives. I have tried everything I know/can think to try and no good so far.  Coding in padding usually works but isn't  working here. I managed to add more space on the left but it pushed all the text over to the right and even out of the posting block area...it just 'ignored' the code for the right side.  I haven't given up but it is tiresome when none of the old things work and new info isn't available.

I have some fun things to tell about but they will have to wait a while now...I'm tired.

More later (I hope!)...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Swimming through pudding...

I keep trying to write a new post. I write a few sentences and fizzle out. So foggy when trying to write...I feel like I'm swimming through pudding. Trying to touch base on the blogs but I can't concentrate very long. After a paragraph or so my mind stops processing the words and my head starts hurting. Does anyone else get that headache when they try to listen or concentrate hard? It was one of the first warning signs of overdoing it that I became aware of in the early days. I get it when I physically overdo it, too...it's the first warning to stop/slow down for me.

Does anyone else have difficulty formulating sentences when they are like this? I find mine become so rambling...I really have trouble pulling them together. As a former speech-language pathologist, I find it interesting (scary and a bit depressing, too) observing the effects of this disease on cognitive functioning, speech, and language. I wish I had the strength and clarity to really record the effects and changes.

Funny, I'm still enjoying reading my mysteries despite the fog. I just started a new one last night...Bill Crider's 'Of All Sad Words'. It amazes me how many authors of mystery fiction are highly educated. I was reminded of this again looking at Bill Crider's credentials. I remember one of my English professors said something about mysteries being the most literate of popular fiction (something like that...it's been a loooong time since I heard it.). Evidently lots of college professors in the ranks of mystery authors.

Sorry, sort of rambling here and I think I've petered out. (Where did that expression come from? I'm going to have to look it up.).

Maybe more later...or not.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cue the eerie Twilight Zone music...

How peculiar...I was tweaking the font color for posts trying to make it more comfortable to read. The black was a little harsh. I decided on a dark brown (almost as dark as black)...softer on the eyes than black but still clear and sharp.

Selected it in the advanced settings on the template designer, clicked to apply, and looked back at the blog. Argh...it didn't apply uniformly. I can't tell if some parts are still black and some parts are brown or if there are different shades of brown in different parts of each post.

Whatever...it makes the post before this one look very patchy. I tried looking at the HTML on the template to see what color it showed. There seemed to be a delay in the color changing in the HTML. May be some site glitch/bug. I'm too tired to study the lines of code any more so I'll leave it till tomorrow and see what happens.

Just bits and pieces...

Just bits and pieces today...

I keep forgetting to mention how much I enjoyed the Caroline Smailes's book 'Like Bees to Honey' and to thank her for her kindness. I was reading her book online, hosted chapter by chapter on other writer's blogs, and discovered chapter 4 was missing.

I contacted her to let her know and she very kindly gave me a synopsis of the chapter so I was able to continue reading without missing anything. Very sweet and generous of her to take her time and share like that.

The book was very interesting... I won't say more so I don't spoil it if you haven't read it yet. She has several other books that I look forward to reading.


So much I want to write about...so few cooperating braincells, lol. Some things I'm not sure how to say or whether to say either. I keep discarding and starting over. Partly situational and partly the impact of the CFS on my ability to concentrate and write.


Does everyone have a hierarchy of symptoms that indicate how badly they are overdoing it/have overdone it?

I definitely do and I'm way up at the top of my severity hierarchy these days. I'm not sure I've ever been this high up or stayed this high up before. I'm really concerned about what will happen if I am not able to stop overdoing it and bring it down. Living on adrenalin rushes to get things done and as reaction to stresses. Symptoms getting worse and worse. More trouble breathing, coughing steadily on the mildest exertion...on top of all the other 'normal' CFS symptoms that tell you you've overloaded.

I have decided I absolutely must glue my butt to this bed and rest. (Decision made Sunday...only now blogging about it.). I must do a better job of pacing and caring for myself. I must stop trying to be Superwoman (picture weak, extremely short of breath, fainty CFS Superwoman...the new superhero). If the house isn't on fire and no one is bleeding or collapsed on the floor, I've got to let things go and rest until I get a little stronger again.

This is much easier said than done lately. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my mother has come to live with me. Living by myself, I had learned to pace myself, to prioritize, and to let lots of things go and rest when I needed it. As a result, I have been able to care for myself independently for the last 7 years. I'm finding that very difficult to do with Mom here.

It's ironic...I'm forced to spend much of my time in bed and would benefit from some caregiver attention at times and yet I'm too frequently having to pull myself up and push myself to be 'the fixer', the problem-solver, and the doer of heavy, complex, or unpleasant tasks. Not complaining exactly...I'm just not sure what to do. Trying to problem solve but too tired to do much of that either.


Decided I'm going to dust off the wheelchair to give me a bit more freedom when I feel a little better after this crash. Sounds funny having to wait till you feel well enough to use a wheelchair, doesn't it? I'm just too weak to stay upright for very long right now. I can physically move my legs to walk but I'm so short of breath and get so extremely fatigued moving about these days that maybe the wheelchair will give me a little more freedom to get out some...later.


Still making refinements to the blog:

  • header- Played with the coding on the template...increased top padding so the title moved down. That gap between the header and the posts was bothering me.
  • changed font color on sidebar
  • added a place to note what I'm reading currently- I'm about halfway through 'Spanish Dagger' a China Bayles series mystery by Susan Wittig Albert. I've finished 3 other books in the last 3 weeks or so since I've begun reading again.
  • tried some different goodreads widgets- Didn't like them...they seemed too large and 'cluttery' for just noting what I've been reading lately. One of the reasons I changed my blog design was to pare down the clutter so I don't want to add more. I do like goodreads for cataloguing my books. I might actually finish some day, lol. If you click on the small goodreads badge on the sidebar you can see how far I've gotten.
  • working on blog roll- Locating old and new (to me) CFS blogs...reading and adding to my blogroll. Been meaning to add a blogroll for a long time but the task seemed daunting. I may add other types for my other interests later...I have so many I like to visit. CFS/chronic illness blogs are great support and sources of information but I find i can't read them continuously. I need to alternate and spend time on other thoughts and things. How about you?


Went out on the deck for a few minutes this morning and admired my 2 cucumbers (one is straight, about 6 inches long...the other is curled and about 3 inches long) and 1 red bell pepper (still green now...it will turn red as it ripens). Harvested tomatoes (lol, 5 cherry tomatoes) and a couple of large handfuls of sweet basil. Oh, it smelled wonderful! Crept back in with my prizes after about 5 minutes and crawled back in to rest.

Reminds me...I never got any lemon basil seeds planted. I wonder if it's too late to try...basil really likes it warm. Maybe I'll sprinkle some seeds in a pot this weekend if I'm feeling better. I've got to start saving a little energy and making time for the things that feed my soul. One of my first trips in the wheelchair has to be the nursery. I haven't bought any plants since spring.

There were so many things I wanted to add to my container garden and just haven't had strength or time to do. I feel like summer is whizzing by. It makes me a little sad. Luckily we will still have lots of warm days even into November. I think the sadness and sensation that summer is slipping by is more an analogy for the feeling that my life is slipping though my fingers...unlived.

Had the strangest sensation the other day...a feeling of sadness came over me and I started crying quietly. No particular reason or sense of something bothering me behind it, at the time...just deep sadness. Looking back now, I think it was that sense of life passing me by and the feeling of loss I've had lately for the small life I had built within the confines of this illness...some small control over it in terms of pacing and taking care of myself. I have to get a handle on things and start taking better care of myself, including saving a little energy and time for those things that feed my soul.


There's more (always) but I'll save it for later.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Not enough me...

I can't believe a week has passed since my last post. I've been seriously overdoing it lately and it's caught up with me. I feel like I've been run over by a truck...and it came back and ran over me a few more times. Too much to do and not enough me. I've started several posts and put them aside to come back to later and not gotten back to them. I haven't had adequate braincells to write up a post. I'm going to try again now...please excuse if it's scattered...I know I am.

Just an overview of what's been going on...

I've decided not to buy an e-reader. Lots of reasons but in a nutshell...too expensive, limited selection of books, and I really prefer real books. Lol, when I have more energy I may expand on this...I have lots of issues with it. One thing that really bothers me is ownership...you pay for an e-book but you never really own it. I feel the consumer is being shafted coming and going. I'm dropping this now before I take off on it and wear myself out.

Grrr, I hate having to always monitor what I do...even what/how much I think. For me, one of the strangest things about CFS is that mental activity is just as exhausting as physical. That's really difficult for me. It gets really old having to pace and try to protect yourself from over-doing all the time in every aspect of your life...from the tiniest, seemingly most insignificant to the big earth-shattering ones. Oh well, sorry for the mini-rant.

I read 2 books this week...a free mystery e-book from Barnes and Noble and a Janet Evanovich mystery. Lots of laughs from both. So I guess my love of reading is intact. Whew, I was kind of worried about that. Must have just been a phase I was going through for a while where I didn't feel like reading. I think that it was also because I didn't have anything to read that really grabbed me.

I have quite a few books that I've collected over the years and haven't read yet so there is always something to read. Sometimes nothing grabs me though and I need something new...a good mystery, for example. Barnes and Noble has a clearance sale going on right now so I re-stocked the mystery shelf this week. Not quite as much fun as real book shopping used to be but still nice. It was a good deal...I got 9 new hardcovers for $31.31 (including tax). B & N has free shipping on orders of $25 or more so no shipping charges, either.

My mother came to live with me back in May and I'm having to learn how to live with someone else again. She's a sweetheart and I love her dearly but I'm finding it incredibly difficult living with her. Not her fault...I'm just doing much too much, not getting enough rest, and suffering from extreme sensory overload. I'm having to learn how to pace all over again and trying to cope with the over-stimulation.

I'm also trying to find ways to decrease how much I have to shop and run errands for us. (Mom doesn't drive.). This last week, I arranged for water delivery so that I don't have to drag all those bottles home from the store...yay! I also discovered that Amazon now ships canned dog food. I pay a yearly fee for an Amazon Prime membership and I get 2 day shipping free, so no charge for shipping the dog food. That's a great deal for me.

I have a large dog who can't eat dry food and haven't been able to find anyone to ship food so I've been having to deal with getting large quantities of it home by myself. I ordered 3 cases from Amazon last week and 2 days later they were delivered to my front door...yay! I highly recommend the Amazon Prime membership if you have trouble getting out and shopping...it's been great for all kinds of things.

Now, if I could get groceries from Amazon, lol. Nobody seems to sell many groceries online. I sure wish someone here in town delivered groceries. You would think that service would be available in a city as large as Houston. Ironically, it was available here before I got sick. Sometimes it can be pretty hard getting out for groceries. No matter how much I buy we always seem to need something. I used to only shop for groceries about once a month...that's not working now. I think we need to buy a small freezer so I can stock up more. Not sure how I could manage dealing with getting more at one time though. I guess spread it out and build up some.

I'm not taking Mom grocery shopping with me now...it actually turns out to be harder and more work than doing it by myself. I need to hurry as much as I can before I run out of steam. I pay for rushing but it's no better when I go slow and I wouldn't be able to finish if I went slow. Mom can't rush...so less stressful for both of us if she doesn't go. We bring in all the cold things when I get home and bring the other things in a little at a time. I have a big old fashioned shopping cart that we load up.

This has been a big week for online shopping. In addition to the dog food and books, Mom and I both needed some new casual clothes (shorts, jeans, tees) and undies so we ordered some things online. This is a first for both of us. I've bought other things online but not clothes. I always worried that they wouldn't fit and I'd have to pay for shipping twice...ouch. I hope these fit.

Can't think to wrap this up logically or re-read it right now to edit...Mom is narrating aloud everything she is doing and I'm on sensory overload. Helpppppppppppppp, lol! Hope this makes some sense...just smile and pretend it does, okay?

Bye for now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

To buy or not to buy...

Do you have an e-book reader?

I'm wondering if it is a good idea for me. I adore books. My personal home library is over 3,000 books, mostly hardcover. (I'm allergic to the ink used in paperback books and newspapers.). I never, ever thought I'd consider anything but the real thing. However, holding one open and up, especially in bed (where else?) is very, very tiring and frequently impossible these days. I've read a little online but the glare is tiring and my position is limited.

E-readers are pretty expensive and even worse than the initial expense can be the cost of the books. When I was able to shop a lot, I got very nice new and used books at Half-Price Books for almost nothing. Laughing here, I was the queen of clearance-priced books.

It is hard to think of paying $10 or more for a book (that will never grace my shelves or be held in my hands...sigh). Now what little energy I can muster for shopping goes to survival needs, of course. Hmm, thinking about it, I guess I will have to pay more for books buying online anyway since I'm rarely able to cruise Half Price anymore.

Many of the e-readers, like Kindle from Amazon and Nook from Barnes and Noble are associated with one store and I assume you can't buy books from other sources. That's okay, I guess, if you are primarily a reader of best-sellers...I'm not. What if you like more obscure books, like I do? Maybe you can't find more obscure books for an e-reader anyway.

I used to be a voracious reader. I haven't been reading nearly as much the last couple of years. I'm not certain why...if I've lost interest due to the CFS or if it's the difficulty holding a book or what. I comprehend and remember what I read. I'm not sure if get more fatigued reading for fun. I know I do with heavier technical reading or under pressure.

I read a mystery a couple of weeks ago. Light, fun reading...a Diane Mott Davidson, Goldy the caterer, one. Other than holding the book it didn't seem to tire me too much...I really enjoyed it in fact. I'm reading 'Like Bees to Honey' online now, a novel by Caroline Smailes. I'm not certain if reading it on my laptop is tiring me more or not (glare). I am tired after reading but I'm in sort of bad shape right now anyway. Hard to know if it's the act of reading or the medium or my condition right now. I am enjoying the book.

I know some people with CFS have great difficulty reading. I do, if the material is very technical and complex or has extremely long and convoluted paragraphs. I can still read technical things (I love science), I just have to take it in smaller chunks. Reading anything is easier when the paragraphs are shorter.

So many variables to consider and with CFS you never know from day to day what or how things are going to affect you. It's hard to judge sometimes. Sometimes, it isn't apparent immediately if something has over-tired me, either. It may take doing it a few times or more to be sure...seeing a pattern emerge. With other things, it's apparent right away. For example, I can't listen to audio-books at all...they exhaust me completely and very quickly. I have a lot harder time processing things auditorally.

I'm still researching the different e-readers and I will want to see one first hand before I decide. I need to see how easy it is to read, how heavy it is, how hard to hold, if I think I could prop it up. etc. I'm just not sure. As expensive as they are, I don't want to buy one and find I get too tired reading or I'm just not that interested in reading now. I wish you could rent or borrow one first to be sure.

just thinking and wondering about whether an e-reader would be a good option for me.

Anyone tried one or have any info or suggestions?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Oops...wrong button!

Uh oh, boy did I screw up. I've been experimenting with a new blog design, thinking about making a change. This morning I was trying out the new template designer on Blogger and I hit the wrong button. Whooooooosh...out goes the old blog and in comes one of the new trial ones I was playing with. The old one poofed into the ether...I hadn't made a copy of it recently so I can't go back. Please excuse the mess if you come in before I finish tidying and remodeling. I need to straighten up the footer mess before I consider any more modifications.

More later, lol...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Reading 'Like Bees to Honey' and slaying a dragon or two...

I got swept up reading Caroline Smailes's 'Like Bees to Honey' this morning. It was serialized across 31 blogs. Sigh, unfortunately the widget containing chapter 4 malfunctioned and it's no longer available. Trying to decide if I should skip chapter 4 (they are brief chapters) and see if I can catch up or jump into some writing of my own. Laughing...or maybe have a nap. I am tired darn it! Hmmm, so what else is new, huh?

I'm working on a new post. If I don't chuck it or decide to post something else first it will be one on gardening. I think I've hit on a way to work through some of the writing issues Ive been having. I'm starting a document every 2 or 3 days on Goggle Docs, I jot down things of interest, quotes, and notes, do writing prompts and exercises, and write about things on my mind. Over the course of a day or three (whatever it takes), I'm going back and working on poems and stories; pulling posts together; re-writing, polishing, and editing until I have something.

It seems to be working so far...I'm feeling positive and more relaxed about it. Pieces get done when they are done. I'm being creative and writing every day while pacing and working on not overloading. While I haven't slain all the dragons, I am learning to cope...layer by layer.

More later...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Six years is a long time...

Something interesting happened as I was doing a writing exercise yesterday. I was roughing out a poem using a prompt that required you to put certain things on each of 14 lines (ie, a feeling, an observation of your surroundings, a personification of an inanimate object, a metaphor, a prominent memory, symbolism, and so on).

As I played with the prompt, plugging in the requirement for each of the first 6 lines, I began writing a poem about the severe fatigue of CFS. I hadn't consciously chosen that as the subject...I just jumped in and started writing. It asked for a feeling. What I was feeling was overwhelming fatigue. (When you live with this disease, fatigue becomes more than a physical sensation, as if that wasn't enough.).

What is interesting about all this is that, the new poem is one of only two poems I've ever written about being ill. The first poem was written 6 years ago. It was one of my first poems written as an adult. Of all the poems I've written and ones I've started, I think it's kind of odd that only two have been about my illness...and so far apart in time. Odd, too, that I hadn't thought about writing another poem about having/living with CFS.

I don't think I thought about writing another because I was trying so hard to make a life around the CFS and because I'm a proponent of Eastern philosophy which teaches acceptance. I tried to accept and move on...focusing on living life the fullest way that I could and not focusing on the disease more than I was forced to.

The poem isn't complete yet...I have several versions roughed out. This one is getting there I think.

measuring days

in teaspoons

another day


as fatigue

that ravening


feasts on

my body

and gnaws on

my bones

Writing with CFS...

Writing with CFS issues continue to frustrate me.

I'm either brain dead and can think of nothing to say.
I have much more to say than I have strength or stamina to think out, type, edit, and post.

I either find it difficult to get started and share something personal.
I have a great need to share and explain. (This is a newer phenomenon.)

Now that I'm learning to share more, I find I sometimes (frequently?) want to explain when I share...going on to explain more about CFS and life with CFS, for example. Part of it is that I'm used to writing more informational than personal pieces.
I'm wondering, too, if this is an attempt to make it less personal and more clinical...a format I'm used to from my profession and my love of science. Still working on those sharing personal stuff issues. Whatever the reason, it results in longer posts. It, also, often results in me going off to look up some bit of information to include...getting me even more overloaded and bogged down.

Most of the time, I still wind up wanting to write much more than I can handle...frustrating. I've been practicing writing shorter posts on a blog in another venue and thought I had gotten much better at it. However, it's a site where I don't really discuss any personal issues much...especially the ones dealing with my illness. Coming back here, I've discovered that I still have difficulty writing shorter posts. I think it has to do with feeling freer to share more personal topics and discuss the illness issues. My cup (mouth/fingers) runneth over...

Since I've been back I've had a lot to write about but not enough strength to do it all or edit it when it gets too long. Just thinking of what to include or not is more work now. It's also hard for me to go back and pare down or decide what can be divided into shorter posts. Especially, when I've gone overboard and gotten stuck in the middle of a post that has taken on gargantuan proportions. It's even difficult to think of ways to rewrite to make it more concise. Word-finding difficulties add to the frustration. (Extremely difficult for a former speech-language pathologist, as well as a writer, to cope with these changes/losses. Language is/was my life! Sigh...).

Wonder if other writers with CFS experience these issues? Now I'm wondering, too, if there are other speech pathologists with this disease...sharing these issues. There must be.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stray birds of summer...

Stray birds of summer come to my window
to sing and fly away.

~ excerpted from a poem by Tagore

I've rediscovered Twitter. (It never appealed much to me before just for social networking.). I've found it's full of poets, writers, and artists. All sharing their work...who knew? Now that's a different story!

Been busy reading poems and microfiction, tweeting a little, looking up information on short poetry forms (haiku, micropoetry, gogyohka, tanka...and more), browsing writing and poetry websites, and writing a bit between naps. Alternating activities so I don't get too overloaded. It's been a welcome diversion.

I've been writing 'minimalist' poetry for about 7 years now. Choosing words carefully, making each word count, trying to paint vivid pictures in a few words. Other than haiku, I didn't know so many short forms of unrhymed poetry existed. It's absolutely delicious! I'm thrilled and, at the same time, a little in awe! Just what I needed to get me writing more again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I'm back...

I'm back. Lol, no fanfare. It's been over a year since my last post. I started out writing a post to catch up but it got too long and I got too tired and overwhelmed. Just too much 'stuff' to even try to summarize in one post and I'm not great at summarizing anymore...it takes a lot of energy and concentration that I don't have. I think it's best just to jump in and say I'm back and I'll fill in some as I go along...when it feels right.