Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It must be so...

I had my hair cut this morning and, although I didn't have very much taken off, I think I am happy with it. I don't go into shock when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror anyway. I think the girl who cut my hair was disappointed that she didn't get to cut off more of it. She stood ready with the scissors and the comb to tackle the job. She was done very quickly, and as a result I only had to pay her very little money. It's so nice when you get a financial break.
I want to wash my hair with the silver shampoo, but then I have to be patient enough to let the suds stay in my hair for 5 minutes or so, and lately I have not felt like doing that. It is really a very small effort and I ought to do it today. I will like the color of my hair afterwards, but I really have to motivate myself to sit quietly and wait for those 5 minutes.
I am having some coffee, because I was hitting a low in my energy level. I have been keeping myself busy with banking affairs and it was quite intricate work. As a rule, that's just the kind of job that's right up my alley and I enjoy doing it, even when I run into the odd frustration. I like to solve problems and am good at it. It doesn't bother me as long as it is work that I do for myself and I understand what I am doing.
I swear that coffee makes me sleepier instead of more alert, because now I am starting to yawn and that was not the purpose of drinking it. I may have to take a nap instead of washing my hair. I've got to put a clean duvet cover on my bed to make the experience extra special. I want one that smells like the outdoors.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

They also exist.

I had a very pleasant domestic help here today who was able to carry on a decent conversation when we had a cup of coffee, and who also liked Tyke and Gandhi very much and the feelings were mutual. Since I am without a steady domestic help, I have had various different ones every week, but the one I had today can come back more often if she wants. She did the work at an easy pace and got everything done within the allotted time. The most important thing was that she did not make me feel nervous while she moved around the apartment.
Although I have recovered from the surgery on my meniscus well, it does seem to have made some impact on me emotionally and for the last three afternoons, I have had to take a low dose of a tranquilizer so that I will be a bit more relaxed. I feel the edge of stress building up and it is not pleasant, but unproductive and bothersome. When the tranquilizer starts to work, I feel a lot of calm and peace of mind and I feel that I can be much more sensibly occupied.
This afternoon, I visited my new bank account and have already memorized my new codes to get into it and use my bank card. I thought that might be a bit of a problem, but it turned out not to be. My brain is still capable of taking it in. It is fun to be in a new virtual environment and to find out how it works, and really, it is all quite logical. There is not much that can go wrong.
I entered the information for the periodic payments that need to be made and it was a piece of cake. Anyone could have done it. I also looked at some of the projects the bank invests in and I must say that they please me very well. I also myself have the opportunity to invest with a low monthly starting amount, but I have to be financially a bit more comfortable before I do. I will try to in the near future. I think I did the right thing by going with this bank and I am pleased about my decision.
I can't believe how quickly the afternoon went by. It feels like I just not too long ago walked Tyke at noontime. It's been such pleasant weather all day with clouds and a cool breeze and none of that hot sunshine. Unfortunately, in two day's time, it's going to be hot again. Woe is me.


Writing off the top of my head...

I have been given the okay by the orthopedic surgeon to start riding my bike again, providing I don't ride it in too low a gear. I'm not supposed to make it too difficult for my knee. Actually, I think riding a bike is a good exercise and I can't wait to go to the grocery store on it. I have to buy some bread and that will make a good outing because my bike will not be loaded down with bags of groceries and there are no inclines to have to get up on.
It has been a while since I have been to the hairdresser and it is time that I make an appointment. I waited a bit longer before I did because I wanted my hair to get to the proper length. I didn't mind too much at first when it was cut so short, but decided later that it was more flattering if I let it grow longer a little bit. Now it is and all it needs is a little trim. I will call for an appointment today and try to get in as quickly as possible.
I am still on three waiting lists for an apartment up north. I had taken myself off the short term lists because I was not ready to make the move yet, and recently I have taken myself off the lists for apartments with only one bedroom. I realized that I will always need a guest bedroom, what with people from overseas coming to stay.
At the rate I am moving to the top of the lists, I am looking at a time frame of another half year and then I will really have to make a decision. A shortage of money is still a bit of a problem that I have not sorted out yet and I am willing to accept donations.
I will not be going to my daughter in Houston for the holidays this year because she is making other plans. She did say that maybe it is possible that I come for Thanksgiving, but I would have to pay for my own plane ticket, which is impossible, of course. Needless to say, I will make different plans and maybe I will be moving at that time.
In the end, you should always do what you think is right for you and make your own plan. If you try to calculate in what you think are the wishes of other people, you will end up in the wrong place.

Monday, July 29, 2013


Yesterday for dinner, I totally overdosed on grilled cheese sandwiches. I could not get enough of them and ate them until I was practically bursting. I don't know where this sudden passion for them came from, but I have always been fond of them, although I have never taken eating them to this extreme.
I do have to say that it was a completely enjoyable experience and that I hardly regret it, except that it has made me very thirsty and that now I am drinking one tall glass of ice cold lemonade after the other.  But, of course, that is very enjoyable too, because what could a nicer way to quench my thirst, except for ice cold milk, which I don't have and which would upset my stomach.
Yesterday, when my friends were here, they told me they wanted to give me the money to get Tyke's fur trimmed, because they knew I didn't have it and that it was necessary that it got done. I certainly thought that was a kind thing to offer to do and I didn't turn them down. I can now call the dog salon in the morning and make an appointment. That is a great relief to me and it will be a relief to Tyke as well when he has been trimmed.
I got the final papers in the mail for the change over to my new bank and everything should be finalized on the 6th of August when I will start using my new bank account. I always thought it was a major undertaking to change banks, but so far it hasn't been too much of a problem. All the automatic deposits and withdrawals will be taken care of.
I fell asleep on top of the duvet last night. I was too warm to get under it. It doesn't cool off too much at night and feels like it does on a pleasant summer day. I haven't had the need for my bathrobe when I get up in quite a while.
Today I have to see the orthopedic surgeon and no doubt he will be happy with my progress, because I am walking around quite normally. But then again, that is about all I can do with my knee. I can't play football yet.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

When my Sunday is cloudy.

Much to my delight, it is cloudy today and cooler than it has been. I have all the windows open and the fan turned on, and now it really makes a difference and the animals are luxuriating in the coolness of the breeze. I stuck a book under the backside of the fan so that it is pointing a bit more downward and I think both Tyke and Gandhi appreciate that very much.
It has cooled down so much that I had to cover my arms and shoulders with a lightweight summer jacket when I walked Tyke, although I do think I am exaggerating a little bit. I probably could have stood the temperature, but I like to be comfortable at all times. Three drops of rain fell on us when we were out there, but then nothing else happened, so it was a false alarm.
I was up early this morning and used that opportunity to do my chores, of which there were several that I neglected to do yesterday for some reason. I think that yesterday I did not have my ducks in a row as well as I do today, but I have no idea why that was so. Oh yes, I do know. I took a tranquilizer earlier today because I felt the need for one, and now I feel amazingly calm and collected.
Maybe I should do that more often. I will try it again tomorrow and see how much I like it and discuss this option with my psychiatrist. Unbeknown to me, I was possibly walking around with a bit more stress than I was aware of. It does make quite a bit of difference in the way I deal with the day and the things that take place in it. They are much easier to deal with.
In a while, some friends of mine are going to come over for a visit. They are a couple I have known for ages. I was, of course, unable to go to the shop to buy something good to go with the coffee, but I was told they were on a diet anyway. So am I, so I guess that turns out to be a good thing all around. I would have liked a good excuse to have some little cakes with whipped cream, but it is not to be.
I'm afraid that the sun is starting to come out and that is not at all what I want. I'll have to close the blinds before it becomes too bright. Tyke is very lazily lying at my feet in dreamland. I think it is his day off today.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

That's how you solve that.

I was trying to visit Facebook, but when I tried to load the page, things moved awfully slow to the point of an almost complete stand still. After some frustrating minutes, I decided that I must have cookies and other sorts of nastiness and I ran the CCleaner, which removed a bunch of junk. I also restarted the computer, and much to my relief, these two measures solved my problem and I could get on with what I wanted to do. The other benefit was, that I then could drink my cup of coffee in peace and quiet.
The nice thing about today is that it is Saturday and that the rerun of one of my favorite TV programs will be on. Unfortunately, it is also the final episode, but I can't miss it because I did last Wednesday night when I went to bed early. There are not many programs that I am hooked on and this is one of the few ones that gets close. It is called, "Holland Bakes" and is a wonderful amateur baking competition that makes me want to get into the kitchen and bake everything under the sun myself, but especially brownies.
I had gained some weight while I was out of commission with my disabled knee, and also because I had eaten things that were not smart to eat, but I went on the bathroom scale a while ago and saw that the weight is already coming off again. I am not overly concerned about carrying some extra weight, but I don't want it to get out of hand and have it get to the point of no return. I only have healthy food in the apartment now and no chance of indulging in all sorts of cravings. Of course, when my American ex was here I didn't stick to a sensible way of eating either and indulged in many foods I normally would not have.
The place where that spider bit me in the bottom of my foot is slow in healing and I still need to keep a Band-Aid on it. I suppose I should put that antibiotic ointment on it that I have. Maybe that will help heal it more quickly.   

Friday, July 26, 2013

Over the moon...

It has not escaped my attention that recently there was a full moon, but contrary to my expectations, I did not react oddly to it, meaning I did not become a lunatic. I have thought in the past, when I was caught quite unawares, that I was affected by the full moon, but it must have been a coincidence that I was somewhat off kilter then. Maybe it is an old wife's tale that people are, and the full moon has very little effect on people's emotions. Maybe we only imagine that it does and we look for evidence that is not really there.
Not having anything to do with the full moon at all, I looked at the cash register receipt of the supermarket and realized that I have to make the groceries last longer than a week. I do very optimistically stack my sandwiches with cheese and lunchmeat like I am a wealthy American and there is no end to the supply. That means that Dutch frugality has not gotten much of a hold of me yet.
I do want to really taste something when I bite into my sandwich. I want it to be a rewarding experience and really make an impression on my taste buds. I try my sandwiches with mayonnaise, and mustard, and organic margarine, depending on my mood. The organic margarine comes close to tasting like butter and is very pleasant to eat in combination with the cheese and lunchmeat. Butter does not settle into my stomach well at all and I am surprised that I can eat the cheese, being lactose intolerant. I think I do suffer for it a bit, but not bad enough to stop eating it. I do need some amount of calcium.
I stopped giving Tyke the pain medication for his hernia today, because I want to see how well he does without it. He seemed alright on his walk this morning, but I think I have to wait to see how he does the rest of the day. It may be a too optimistic try and he may still need it.
I have got to make a sandwich now and watch some German television for my daily language lesson. It is working because I am learning new words every day.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Post-op optimism...

I would very much like for my daily life to get back to normal as quickly as possible, because I don't like it when things are not like they usually are. It's maybe ok for them to be discombobulated for a day, but after that my patience has worn out, and I want to pick up where I left off.
I am glad to say, that my post-op knee is improving pretty much by the hour now and that I find myself capable of ding more all the time, albeit in little steps, but I am an optimist and see them as major improvements. I do have to take the pain medication, but I figure since I am allowed to, that is part of the equation.
I had the bandage removed and my knee looked at yesterday, and much to my relief, it looked wonderful. There was no swelling, nor hemorrhage, and the tiny little cuts were already healing  themselves. That was so much better than I had hoped for.
I was told that I only had to use one crutch from that moment on, but when I got home, I found out that I got around much better using no crutches at all as long as I don't make any unexpected moves. I haven't ventured outside yet and won't for a while. All the moving around I do is inside where I can sit down whenever I feel like it.
I won't be walking Tyke for a while yet, but I should be able to by next week and I am looking forward to that. Cabin fever is no good for anything. I was able to do some much needed household chores yesterday, and I was relieved about that, because things were starting to pile up.
I am almost a happy camper, and I will be when I can go outside and especially when I can ride my bike again. That will be the ultimate test.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

When I can't sleep...

I went to bed at an early time last night, but found I could not sleep because of the pain in my knee. This despite the fact that I had just taken a paracetamol. Apparently it was not strong enough, so I got up and took one of those heavy duty pills, even though I had been avoiding doing that. Eventually, it did the trick and I fell asleep, only to wake up two hours later because I had to go to the toilet, which was my own fault. I drank a tall glass of lemonade before I went to sleep because I was so thirsty.
I had also been bit by a mosquito and the itching was keeping me awake, but now that I have scratched it enough, it has stopped bothering me. It is not like that time when I got bit by that spider and I knew about it for a long while. I've still got a band aide over that spot. It was the second time in my life I got bit by a spider and I still have a scar from the first time. That one happened in Boston, but I don't know what kind of spider that was. It could have been a black widow.
I keep almost tripping over the animals, who insist on following me wherever I go, and normally this would not be a problem, but I think if I were to trip now, I would be in big trouble. I don't know what magic they think I am going to perform when I go somewhere in the apartment, but apparently they expect something from me. I think that since I have put them on a dry kibble diet, they still hope there will be something from a can. It's not as if the dry kibbles are not the best there are.
They are both seated at my feet now, looking at me expectantly. I suppose I will have to get up and see what it is that they want and I will have to pull a monkey out of my sleeve. It will be something that is impossible for me to deliver anyway.
I am terribly hungry because I forgot to eat that sandwich before I went to bed last night and now my stomach is growling. I am having visions of food served buffet style on a long table from which I could take whatever I want, although I think my eyes would be bigger than my stomach. I will get over this fantasy as soon as I have eaten something. It is the pangs of hunger that make me fantasize so. It's a good thing that I can't give into this and that there is nothing that decadent in the apartment.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Facing another kind of reality...

I think yesterday, when I stated so bravely how well I was doing after my surgery, I must have been under the influence still of the general anesthetic. I thought I was still doing pretty good this morning,  but now, at the end of the day, I really feel the pain in my knee, this despite the fact that I have been taking the paracetamol every 4 hours. I suddenly, or rather, little by little, don't feel all that great anymore and I am glad that I am going to the clinic tomorrow morning to have that huge bandage removed and have my knee looked at. To tell you the truth, I am going to be a bit scared to look at it myself.
It was another hot day today, but just now clouds moved in and in the distance there was some thunder. It is supposed to rain tomorrow and be a bit cooler and I, for one, can't wait for it to be. The fan has been blowing cooler air through the living room all day and I had the front windows and blinds closed most of the time to keep it cool in here and that seems to have worked. Tyke discovered the benefit of the fan and has been lying down in the cool breeze of it most of the day. A while ago I finally opened the kitchen window because it was cool enough to.
I am getting cabin fever already, this despite the fact that moving around is uncomfortable and the pain reminds me that I really can't do anything. I am bound to the sofa and the computer and to the latter for small periods of time. I appreciate the fact that the Exfactor is walking Tyke now that it is so hot outside, but I'd love to be able to do more myself. The apartment is getting a little bit messier because I don't clean up after myself as well. I can't be bothered to undo the messes I make. Any time I spend on my feet is too much.
Because this is so exhausting, I can't wait to go to sleep tonight. I have hardly ever wanted to go to bed as much, at least not recently. It is too hot to sleep with the duvet on until it becomes morning and then I need it for a little while. Tyke seems to think that it is coolest underneath my bed and that is where he sleeps. Gandhi sleeps on the folded over duvet.
I have to eat something before I call it a night. I will make myself a delicious sandwich and use French mustard instead of the mayonnaise that is almost gone. I don't think Tyke will want a bite of that.

Got that done...

I've had the surgery on my knee, and I think because I went into it with a positive attitude, I came through the whole process well and am now doing pretty good also. I am able to control whatever pain I have with just paracetamol and don't have to take the more heavy duty pills that I also have. I think that is much more preferable.
I was only in the operation room for 25 minutes, which I think is the standard time for a surgery like mine. I was awake from the anesthetic very quickly and ready to go home in no time at all. I had a cup of coffee and went to the toilet and got dressed and waited a little while for my sister to come and pick me up.
I am home in my own apartment and happy for it and Tyke is with me. The Exfactor comes over to walk him 3 times a day and can check on me at the same time. My sister checks on me constantly and I can call her no matter what time of day or night it is.
I am able to get around on crutches real well and if I have to get something to drink, I manage on one crutch. I am not nearly as impaired as I thought I was going to be.
The weather was very hot yesterday and I had a bit of a hard time keeping it cool inside. Luckily, I did have the fan that helped some and Tyke and I both found relief with it. I am going to have to keep the windows on the side of the apartment that gets all the sun closed, because too much hot air comes inside. I'll have to drape something in front of the kitchen window.
So you see, as surgeries go, this was not such a bad one.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Because I have to...

Earlier in the week, I sent away for some literature from the Rheumatism Fund, and it arrived in the mail yesterday. Today I have to sit down and read it thoroughly and apply whatever good tips are in it to myself. One of the booklets I got is how to move best in your daily life when you have osteoarthritis. Because I have a bad shoulder, I avoid doing anything too painful with it, but I know you should not stop from using it altogether because you have to keep those muscles strong.
A bad shoulder is one more thing my sister and I have in common and it causes us the same problems down our arms and in our elbows and hands.. In this way we exchange information and helpful knowledge. My sister is at the moment getting physical therapy twice a week for her shoulder, but because I don't have that in my insurance package, I am going to have to work it out on my own, which I think I will be able to do with the help from the literature I got.
It really is true that your body becomes more decrepit the older you get and that is reason to take very good care of it and to find out about whatever is not working right as much as possible. It certainly is not my intention to become victim to my ailments. I do not like not being able to do whatever I intent to do, or to be dependent on other people. I am very appreciative of the fact that I have a domestic help who does all the big household chores, but at least our relationship is clear and her job is well defined.
I have decided not to stay with my sister after I have had the surgery to my knee, but to go home instead. Tyke will be with the Exfactor, so I will not have to take care of him. I will like being home better in my own surroundings and I should only be slightly handicapped for a day or so. I will be on crutches and be able to get around that way if necessary.
I do not like being in other people's houses for extended periods of time, especially not if I am in some way impaired. Besides, I would only be able to sleep on their sofa, because the bedrooms are upstairs and I would not be able to get up there. Knowing my back, sleeping on the sofa would not be very comfortable.
It's time to get the day started with one more cup of coffee. It is getting light outside and I will open the blinds and watch the sun come up.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Things I also do...

Today I supervised my sister while she worked in the garden of the house she and my brother in law just moved into. It has many neglected, overgrown bushes and trees that need to be trimmed and sawed and chopped and whatever else can be done to them. In the process of removing some of this neglected greenery, other beautiful things came to light as big surprises. Ferns that were very mature and also full grown hydrangeas in bloom.
That garden has not been taken care of for decades and I know my sister has been eager to start making it look a bit more decent. There is lots of work left to be done and she is going to need all sorts of help to finish it. Some of the trees are very big and crowded together and it's going to take a lot of muscle power to trim them or to even take them out.
Because of my bad shoulder, I did not even attempt to help her, knowing the damage that I could do by trying to saw or chop anything. I did feel very tempted because the job looked like a lot of fun and it was very obvious that my sister was enjoying herself. We both should have been gardeners.
Today, more than any time, it was clear how much alike we are and watching her at work was like watching myself. She went about the job in exactly the same way I would have done and had the same ideas at the same moments. Having said that, I don't think we should ever try to do the same job at the same time, but I think one of us should always be the supervisor and the other one the laborer. I, being the oldest one, should always have the former job.
My brother in law was busy building a section of fence and a gate on the side of the house so their dog would not be able to escape, although he is a very good dog and really makes no attempt to. He wants to stick close to the people he belongs to and see what sort of interesting things they are doing. He knows me well and we go through an extensive greeting ritual when he sees me, just like Tyke does when I come home.
Speaking of Tyke; I have to go walk him and then we both have to eat dinner. I am very tired from all that supervising and will go to sleep early tonight.

Some excitement helps.

There's no doubt that when you write a post about ordinary, every day things, that lack a certain amount of excitement, your stats drop. With this I make the confession that I check my stats every day and am always pleased when they peak. I do look to see what subject I posted about that made this happen and try for a repeat performance, but I am not always able to pull it off. Sometimes I have to write about something very dull, because that is what my day looked like.
Right now, I've got one heck of a pain in my knee and I am glad that I will be operated on on Monday and that in a short time after that I should be without pain. Now it always feels like I have been kicked there during a football match and not only that, I am constantly in danger of placing it in the wrong position and having it lock up again.
I will very heroically ignore the pain and try to concentrate on something completely different.
When I was a kid, my father installed heating systems in existing houses and always had to get in the shallow crawl spaces of them. This is where all of the copper pipes had to go that led from one room to the other. Because of this work in, very often, damp and cold circumstances, he developed a bad knee that used to bother him something awful.
Because this bad knee was considered a hazard of the job, my father made a copper band that fit around his knee in the believe that was popular then, that the copper had healing qualities. I don't think that he even saw a doctor for his problem, or that a doctor could have done much for him, except to tell him to stop doing that kind of work, which was impossible. My father had not been educated to do anything else.
I do now wonder what was wrong with his knee and if something could have been done about it. No doubt if he had lived in these modern times, something would have. People did not very quickly go to the doctor back then, but relied on home remedies that did or did not help them. There were, of course, a lot of old wife's tales that would not hold up in court today.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Grabbing the bull by the horns.

I am managing to get a lot of things done these last couple of days, and that is a good thing, because I turned out to have to make all sorts of last minute arrangements. This came at the same time that I had some other commitments, so the last few days in my agenda have been filled up with notes and reminders.
I keep thinking now that I am forgetting something, and I am sure I am, and that it will come back to me when I can't do anything about it. My mind is not always as sharp as I'd like it to be and sometimes crucial "to do items" slip through the cracks. Since they are not matters of life or death, I will not worry about them too much and figure that, in the end, everything will land on its feet.
I am in the process of changing banks and it isn't as simple as it sounds, although my new bank has a way of making it as easy as possible. I've still got to keep my wits about me and make sure I transfer my money from one account to the other at the right time. I've got a booklet with a step by step description of how to go about it, so anyone can do it, but I am not just anyone and mistakes can be made.
The bank I chose is a bank that invests in environmentally and socially and economically responsible projects and I thought it was about time that I got away from the big mega banks that have all the wrong kind of super power and gave this bank a chance. I had given it a lot of thought and made the decision when I saw another commercial of them on television and became convinced that I should do this.
Tyke is doing a lot better and walking much more easily. I can tell that he still has some pain, but I think the medication that I gave him this morning does help him. He is more alert and I am also happy to say that he likes his new food and eats it without making a fuss. I thought he would complain about it because it's a special food that is very low in calories. Apparently it is also very tasty.
I am glad to see that some clouds have drifted into the sky and are blocking the sun. It will be a bit cooler when I take Tyke for a walk in a while. Luckily, there is a bit of a draft blowing through the apartment because I've got the windows open and I am sitting right in the way of it here at the computer. Tyke is lying in it too, so we've both got the best spot.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Tyke's problem was.

I took Tyke to the vet this afternoon after I had taken care of numerous other things. I was worried about getting him over there even though the vet is just two streets over from here. Tyke had been so reluctant to walk that I thought we might not make it over there, but when the time came, he did slowly but surely manage to get there. It just took a while.
The vet thoroughly examined him and it turned out that Tyke has a hernia in his lower back that also affects his hind legs and makes it painful for him to move. That is why he was basically just lying around in one place and not going anywhere. It is also why he lost all interest in his food and seemed so depressed.
The vet said that this problem was often seen in dogs that had short legs and dogs that were overweight, which are two conditions that Tyke has. Since his chemical castration he has gained quite some weight and I did not take that into consideration when I fed him. I was basically just spoiling him and not being as strict with him when it came to healthy eating habits as it came to myself.
The vet gave him an injection for the pain and gave me medication that I will start giving him tomorrow. The most important thing is that Tyke has to lose weight and he gave me a bag of food that Tyke has to eat from now on and nothing else. There will be no more in between treats and whatever he leaves in the bowl after he has eaten, I have to put back in the bag of food. There will be no more grazing.
From being almost unable to move, Tyke improved quite a bit and I was able to take him for almost a normal walk in the evening. I think that injection for the pain helped him a lot. He finally ate and drank some water and started showing more interest in his surroundings. Just now he even managed to get on the sofa and look out the window and I was surprised that he did. I still don't know how he got up there.
I had been very worried about him and could not figure out what was wrong with him and imagined all sorts of ailments. Now I am glad that it is just a hernia, because it is manageable. I was glad that he showed a little more spunk tonight, because a depressed dog in pain is not such a happy thing to see.  I want Tyke to be feisty and show a little willpower. That's what makes him so much fun.

What turned out to be wrong...

The MRI scan of my knee was made at least a week and a half ago, and yesterday morning I finally had my appointment with the orthopedic surgeon to find out the results. I was all prepared for him to tell me that I had osteoarthritis and that I would have to learn to live with it, and had put anything else that could be wrong pretty much out of my mind. Actually, for the past weeks I had not given it that much thought except for the nagging pain that I kept having, but that had become part of my daily routine too.
Imagine my surprise when he told me that I had a torn meniscus and that I would have to have surgery right away. It took a minute or two for that to penetrate my thick skull because I was not prepared to hear it and at first I tried to get out of the surgery. He quickly set me straight by explaining the procedure and the fact that it was necessary, and then the penny fell into place and I realized I was being illogical.
The procedure itself is fairly simple and only takes half an hour, but I am getting a general anesthetic. Still, I will only be in the clinic for a couple of hours until it has worn off. My knee will be wrapped in a huge bandage for comfort, and when I have had something to drink, and visited the toilet, I will be able to leave and I will do so on crutches.
My sister is going to take care of me the first days until I am able to walk again and that should not take too long. I've got exercises that I have to do six times a day that will help me recover quicker. My sister has had the same kind of surgery on both knees and is very familiar with the whole process.
So, that is what I will be doing this coming Monday. The Exfactor will take care of Tyke, but chance would have it that I think Tyke is sick and I am going to take him to the vet today. All he does is sleep, and when he does not sleep, he just sits and stares into the distance. He does not want to go for walks and shows very little interest in anything. You would almost think he was depressed. I do worry about him.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On being a kitchen princess.

Because I am able to sit down at the table and eat a meal of normal proportions now, it dawned on me that I can actually start asking people over for dinner and enjoy the food myself also. For this reason, I have gotten out the well worn 25 year old edition of my Betty Crocker cookbook and very eagerly started looking up recipes.
This turned out to be a lot of fun and I ended up reading recipes of all sorts of categories and was re-educated in the process. It teaches you the most basic ones, like the recipes for baking all sorts of biscuits and cornbread. When I do have people over for a meal, I want to fix real American food to surprise their Dutch palates with.
Every meal that I plan to prepare, I am going to try out on the Exfactor first. I think his taste buds are discriminate enough to tell me if it's a good enough one. He likes to cook himself and does fix all sorts of things and is not afraid to try something new.
I think I know what I am going to prepare for the first meal, but I also realize that my kitchen is not yet equipped very well, so I am going to have to do something about that little by little. The first thing I will have to get is a good muffin pan and after that I will have to get a good rectangular glass baking dish, but that will be for the second meal.
My ambition for the first meal is to fix shrimp jambalaya, and let me tell you: I will be the one who enjoys eating that the most. I love any sort of rice dish and I do like something spicy with shrimp in it.
I think preparing a good meal at home is the next best thing to going out to a very decent restaurant. If you want food that really tastes good and is prepared well, you have to pay a price for it and you may as well save yourself some money and buy the ingredients and fix that meal at home. That does not mean that I don't enjoy going out to a restaurant and enjoying the ambiance and having someone else cook for me. It just isn't going to happen very often.

Monday, July 15, 2013

What I've been thinking of...

The last few days, this thought has been keeping me busy: does what I want to do, or think I ought to do, make me happy or do me harm, and if not, does it make anyone else happy or do anyone else harm? If it does not do any of these things, then it absolutely makes no difference and it is probably not important if it's done or not. If it makes me or anyone else happy, then it is very important and it gets done, and if it harms anyone, well, that speaks for itself.

I find it a good rule to live by and it takes care of any guilt feelings I may have about what I think I am supposed to do by society's standards. These standards don't even come into play, they being the ones about what the neighbors will say if you exhibit a certain kind of behavior. I don't want to pay any attention to them.
I seem to be going through a massive growing spurt emotionally, and one I thought was not possible at my age. This comes after a period of stagnation when I thought everything was static and there was even some backward motion. Lots of people are turning out to be teachers, whether or not this is their intention. It is because several events are taking place at roughly the same time, which is something that always seems to happen in life.
Luckily, the nice thing about being older, is that I have the knowledge to learn from these experiences and use the lessons I learn to my advantage. I don't ignore anything I hear or see or feel, and try to draw something good out of it that I get wiser from.
That makes me sound awfully assured, but let me tell you that I am not that much in reality. I theory I know a lot and I can reason myself into being brave, but I have lots of periods of insecurity when I am not all that sure of myself. Especially in the morning I do have to gather my courage about me.
I find that I am braver when I am surrounded by other people and less brave when I am confronted with just myself. It's because I see myself reflected off other people and realize that I am not such an odd person, and if I do differ, I see that the difference does not matter so much. This, of course, works better when I know the other person well.
That sense of insecurity, I have had my whole life and I was probably born with it. As a rule, I bullshit my way through life and act like I am a lot tougher. That's why I like to wear my 'tough broad boots.'


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lesson learned...

I always try to learn at least one lesson from every experience that I live through and having had my American ex here to stay is no exception to the rule.
I have lived alone now for at least 5 years and in that time I have learned to become an independent and autonomous human being who can take care of herself. By nature I am an optimist and I always try to see the positive side of life.
I thought I was managing fairly well, although I realized there were some things that I could not cope with and I did have to use certain guidelines to live my life by in order to maintain my mental health as much as possible. Circumstances could not get too exciting, otherwise I could not cope.
All that time I maintained that living alone was good for me and that I functioned better as an autonomous person who made up her own mind about what happened in her life and was not dependent on anyone else. I tried to ignore the feelings of discomfort and panic I often felt and that I spent much time and energy shoving into the background.
All of that changed while my ex was here. Suddenly I was not a person on my own anymore, but temporarily part of a unit and my whole body and soul relaxed. I did no longer feel that it was just me against the world, but felt more secure and like I had a safety net to catch me in case something bad would happen. I became much more certain about myself in an all around way.
That sense of security disappeared almost right away when my ex went back to the States. I felt the sense of panic and fear enter my body again and pain returned to my neck and shoulders. I have to admit that I function less well on my own than I pretend I do and I have to own up to the fear and panic that I feel every day in order to deal with it.
Owning up to those feelings gives me a sense of relief, although I do not have a solution for how to get over them. I am not going to bother finding it right now, but just feel what I feel and not pretend that I am not scared to death. Whenever I start acting like I am super brave again and there is nothing wrong, I remember to own up to my true feelings and I feel a weight fall off my shoulders.
I don't have to be superwoman anymore.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


It's time for my ex to go home, because every day he comes back to the apartment from his daily outing with decadent foods that he has bought at the store on his way back from downtown. There is always something he has bought with me in mind and that is full of calories and that he knows I can't resist. Of course I should have the willpower to, but I do appreciate the gesture and don't want to make him feel bad by saying that he ought not to do this. I also know that this is just a temporary circumstance and that I am going back to my normal diet within the shortest amount of time.
He is actually leaving on Friday and I will have my space back to myself. I do feel good about that, because I do appreciate some amount of solitude and being able to live my life on my own particular schedule. He has been an excellent guest, however, and has been great company, and I couldn't have asked for a better. He will be back next year for a longer period of time, but I will have to set some rules about the food that gets brought into the apartment. There is not to be this cornucopia of everything that tastes good but is bad for you.
Last night we went out for Chinese/Indonesian food at the restaurant that is within walking distance of the apartment. I wanted to have a very leisurely meal, because I knew that there was always more food served than you could eat and it was better if you took your time and savored the dishes that are kept warm on a hot plate. I tried to explain this to my ex, but he very enthusiastically ordered a number of items from the menu, which I knew would be too much to eat, and when the first of them appeared on the table, he dug in with much gusto.
I had ordered a little more carefully, which turned out to be a good thing. I was able to eat most of my meal, which consisted of Indonesian rice, big deep fried shrimp in a delicious sauce, and wonderfully prepared chunks of pork swimming in their own sauce. I took the sauce of the shrimp, which had ginger in it, and drizzled it over my rice of which I ate everything. My ex tried very hard to eat all of his food, but didn't manage it and had to ask to have most of it put in a doggie bag. He will have fun with that at lunchtime.
I have had my fill of this kind of food for a while and don't have to eat it again for a long time. I think it is something you have to get out of your system every now and then. I would not want to eat it regularly like some people do, because it is a form of gluttony and not very refined. It would be different if it were pure Indonesian food, but this had too many elements of Chinese foods in it that are adapted to Dutch tastes and is eaten for the sheer volume of it. I know that Chinese people at home do not eat like this.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gourmet tastes.

My ex and I have been eating new herring filets on freshly baked, crusty rolls with thinly sliced onions, and he bought so many of them that we had them two days in a row. After that, I felt that I had had my share of herring for this year and I don't need to eat it again for a while, much as I enjoyed it. Personally, I am ready for some good, thick salmon moats and I have to try and talk the Exfactor into going to the open air market to buy some. Maybe if I promise to have him over for dinner when I fix them, he will agree to that.
Tomorrow night, we are going out for Indonesian food, because my ex is in the mood for some Bami Goreng. That's too ordinary for me and I am going to pick something completely different from the menu, although I have no idea what yet and am going to let myself be surprised by what is available. I feel like eating many vegetables drenched in some delicious sauce that is just a bit spicy over lots of rice, but I may eat something else depending on what's on the menu and what mood I am in. I do want it to be more than any old experience.
I was going to make my famous shrimp salad, the recipe of which I got from the mother of my ex, but  I will not have the chance to fix it now. He does get the chance to eat it in the States because one of his nieces fixes it, although he says she does not get it quite right. It is a delicious salad that also has green chilies and olives and chopped onions in it, but it is a bit of a job to get all of the ingredients together and get the proportions just right and to find the right mayonnaise, otherwise it will not taste good.
I overindulged in the chocolate my ex brought back from his two week trip, although I told myself I would be wise and eat a little every once in a while. But you know how it is, once you start eating it, you can hardly stop yourself and since I never have it in the apartment, I did go slightly crazy. I ate it in two sittings while my ex was out in the evening helping my brother in law with the final touches to the new house. Needless to say, these large amounts of chocolate have given me night sweats and heart palpitations, but that is my own fault because I knew they would. I have little self control when it comes to that.
I will have to eat very healthy and sensibly after my ex is gone, because I am sure that I gained a couple of pounds. I will not go on the scale to find out how much, because that would be too discouraging. I will just have to be patient and watch my love handles disappear. That means no mayonnaise on my sandwiches, but good old organic, diet margarine.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


My ex had taken nearly 3,000 photographs on his two week trip through southern Europe and yesterday downloaded them to his laptop so they could be easily looked at. He was interested in choosing the ultimate best ones and matting and framing them and hanging them on his walls at home. Because, with my artsy background, he thought I would be a good judge of which would be the ones with that "wow factor," he had me look at all of them and decide which ones I thought those would be.
He had taken lots of good photographs, but not all of those had that "wow factor" that hit you in the guts the moment you saw them. Some of them were merely very good, but lots of people could have taken them. Some of them looked like they could have been placed in National Geographic, but that was not my criterium. I wanted the ones that were absolutely unique and I narrowed it down to about 30 photos that I thought had special qualities of which there were nine that blew me away.
I had a lot of fun doing this, because I not only got to see his trip documented, but also use my talents, however limited those are, to make discriminate choices based on my instincts and knowledge. Whenever I started second guessing, I knew I was on the wrong track and dismissed the photo.
Photographers have to take hundreds of pictures to get that one photo that is just right, so my ex did not do too badly. I told him he should take a photography class and increase his knowledge because about a lot of things he is still in the dark. He really and truly is an amateur and he would take many more better photos if he knew more.
I am not claiming to be a better photographer. I just judge the outcome, and of course you can do that better when you have not taken the photos yourself. You look at them with an unprejudiced point of view.

Monday, July 08, 2013

That really tasted good!

Because my ex was such a good sport and helped my brother in law lay the laminated floor right after he came back from his vacation, he and my sister took the both of us out for dinner last night. It had been a hot day and we were looking forward to sitting outside by the restaurant and catching a bit of a cool breeze, and my sister called up and made a reservation for a table out on the patio.
It was a Spanish restaurant, that I had never heard of, in a village not too far from here and the name of it was "La Barcaloneta." The name alone promised something very good. It was famous for its tapas and that is what we had. It was recommended that we have the surprise of the evening, so we would not know ahead of time what was coming.
After we ordered our drinks, the tapas, at a reasonable rate with short intervals, started appearing and I have to tell you that that they were indeed a surprise and exceptionally good. Anything that you can think of under the sun was imaginatively prepared and eaten with pleasure by us. We kept saying to each other: "Well, that has to be the end of it," and then another dish would appear.
We finally had to put an end to it because we were stuffed and then we were asked if we wanted dessert, and I said I did, and so the others agreed to that. Some time later, a huge plate arrived with a variety of desserts on it and we all dug in with our spoons. It was so heavenly, that we cleaned off that plate in the shortest amount of time and only decorum prevented us from asking for another one.
You can also eat paella at this restaurant, but if you want to, you have to give them fair notice so they can fix the dish on time. It really is prepared simply and solely for you and your dinner party to eat. I think I would like to try that some day and I hope there will be a reason to some time soon.
When we came home finally, after several hours of leisurely eating, my ex and I were both ready to go to sleep. I personally slept like a baby and my ex is still asleep now. I think I won't have to eat breakfast and might be ready sometime later today to eat a small lunch. My stomach is very happy.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

With pleasure...

On this sunny Sunday, I am doing the laundry that my American ex accumulated during his two week trip through southern Europe. After I separated the dark colors from the lighter colors and the whites, I had three loads, so the washing machine will be churning away for a while. Luckily, the weather is beautiful and I can dry everything outside on the clothing line. That means it will all smell very nice when it goes back into his suitcase.
My ex, in the meantime, is helping my brother in law lay a laminated floor in the finished attic of the house that he and my sister will be moving into next weekend. The whole house had been renovated and the finishing touches will be applied this coming week. Everything turned out to be more expensive and take longer than was planned, but isn't it always like that? Renovating the house has been a stressful event and everybody will breathe a huge sigh of relief when it is done.
Tyke and Gandhi were very happy when my ex returned yesterday evening and wanted his full attention immediately, which they got. It is amazing that my ex had the energy for that after he made the long train trip from Luzern in one day. It is nice to have him here again and to have someone to have long political conversations with because he is very well informed.
Of course, he also had lots of stories to tell me about his trip and later today I am going to see all the photos he took that are stored on his laptop. He said that he really likes the southern west coast of Italy and that he wants to spend more time there next year when he plans to be here longer.
My English speaking ability has improved dramatically and I no longer sound like I have a speech impediment. Sometimes I even have a Southern drawl. It's nice when you can express yourself well in the other language too because it is so frustrating when you are grasping for the right word. I do sometimes literally translate and come up with funny stuff, but my ex has been around enough Europeans to get the point.
I must now go and do the dishes and eat. Normal life does go on.


Friday, July 05, 2013

No Ma'am, not yet.

I will be staying up a little later than usual, because I had the MRI scan done in Genk, in Belgium, earlier in the evening and didn't get home until 8 o'clock. I still had to eat something and have a cup of coffee in order to recuperate from the big adventure. All went as planned, but I won't know the outcome until the 17th, because an earlier appointment I had with the orthopedic surgeon was changed to that date.
My sister drove me to Genk and the GPS told us to take the freeway to get there, which was no fun and the long way around, it turned out later. When we left the parking lot of the hospital when we were done, we didn't turn left from where we had come, but to the right where we saw a small sign that pointed to Maastricht. It turned out to be a shorter and much more picturesque route and we entered town on a side that we seldom see and which I had almost forgotten the existence of.
It was interesting to drive through one of those good sized villages in Belgium where a lot of Dutch people live. They avoid paying large sums of real estate taxes and commute to work in the Netherlands. Their houses are big by Dutch standards and the property they stand on is bigger too. Some Dutch people are enamored with the Belgian schools that they put their kids in, and some of them think they're too strict and old fashioned. And I don't know how much social traffic there is between Belgian and Dutch neighbors. Maybe they all keep to themselves.
I have been taking my shoes off when I am inside because my ankles have been bothering me and I think it is better if I am on my bare feet. I will have to make a habit out of that as much as possible  and when it is too cold, wear socks. I don't really know if this is a problem yet or just a temporary thing. Time will tell.
I will now go to bed and sleep. It is late. What a nice thing to look forward to.  

Thursday, July 04, 2013

You're never too old to change.

One of the changes in my life is that I have stopped drinking completely. This drinking episode of mine only lasted for a short time when you realize that I lived for a long time without drinking hardly any alcohol, but I certainly was imbibing heavily and enjoying it a lot. I knew it couldn't last, because it was not the healthy and sensible thing to do, and besides, it was an expensive habit and I really could not afford it.
I saw my therapist and my psychiatrist yesterday and very honestly told them about what I was doing. It was the first time that I made my drinking behavior public, that I came out of the closet, sort to say. My psychiatrist told me that I was already psychologically dependent on alcohol and close to becoming physically dependent on it also. And of course, that it was a bad idea to drink in combination with the medicines I take.
I made a follow up appointment with my therapist and I promised I would try to cut back, but when I came home, I decided to quit altogether, because it was really foolishness to continue drinking and artificially create the opportunity for my happy child to come out and play. I knew I could do that differently and that I was wise and smart enough to give another method a try.
In the end, it has all been fairly easy and there is enough room for my sensible grown up and my happy child to live comfortably side by side. I really am not a basket case and have lots of things going for me. A little bit of positive psychology and some self awareness does wonders. I know I can count on myself and that I will not let myself down when it is necessary that something important needs to get done.
The other change is that I have started cutting back on my tranquilizers and sleeping pills. I was supposed to be taking them temporarily only anyway. They were never meant for the long run. The sleeping pill doesn't really help me sleep, so I may as well get off it. I have cut the dose down by half and when I get the okay from my psychiatrist, I will quit it completely.
I have also reduced the dose of tranquilizers I take, and now only take the lowest one once every 12 hours. This is working out well, and as a matter of fact, the one in the morning makes me feel just a bit groggy and that will be the first one I stop taking next. I started this a few days ago and have no withdrawal problems as yet.
I really can't complain about my life. It is just fine and I guess I can consider myself lucky.   

Monday, July 01, 2013

Never mind that....

I find that not one day is not like the other and that you can not predict what any day in your life is going to be like, although I used to think until quite recently that I had some control over that. But then I used to think that I had control over all kinds of things, and I have come to find out that this is not true at all.
You can not predict what any day is going to look like, and as much as you would like to plan for it, it really can't be done, because the day unfolds as it will and you have to be flexible enough to accept that and not take it personally.
You can plan a few chores and hope you get one or two of them done, and you can go to an appointment that you had made, but the rest is completely up in the air. You can not predict any of it. None of what happens in the day is what you think you may have anticipated. No activity, or mood, or schedule will be like anything you thought it was going to be, so you may as well give up and stop trying to make plans the night before.
Of course, it makes you feel a bit insecure if you don't have a lot of these things planned ahead of time down to the very minute, but I tell you, it's no use. You can't predict your own reactions to the events that take place, or the nature of the events, nor the timing of them. You can't even predict the way your animals are gong to behave, or if they are going to like their food that day or not, and how often you are going to have to walk your dog.
Nothing at all is predictable, not even the tiniest of details, and every day is a brand new experience that has never taken place before and that has hardly any relationship to anything that has happened before. You can only draw on your past experiences up to a point. You have to learn almost everything all over again every day.
This is teaching me not to make absolute statements and to not be so convinced of my own opinions and my own convictions. When I say something is so, I am proved wrong the next day and I realize that I should not have been so sure of myself. I know I come to this knowledge late, but I am a late bloomer and I am finding out a lot of things later in life. I may have known them before, but have forgotten all about them. I am starting my second or third life after all.  

Never too old to change.

I found out, although I already suspected it, that I can't drink large quantities of orange juice or any kind of mixed fruit juice that is supposed to be healthy for you. I had already noticed in the past that if I drank it in the morning and also ate fruit, it did terrible things with my blood sugar levels and made me go out cold later in the day. Drinking it in combination with vodka was not a good idea at all, because it made me have terrible cravings for food and a badly hung over feeling in the morning that took me a while to get over and all the necessary treatment to.
I now mix my vodka with something else and don't really get as inebriated. As a matter of fact, I only get a bit of a buzz and relaxed enough to feel free to do the things that are enjoyable and enlightening. I feel much better when I wake up and can start the morning without feeling that I have to set my body and mind straight first with a lot of effort. And I am eating more normally too and don't get those awful cravings that make me want to stuff my face when I drink.
I am reading a book that I borrowed from my sister that is called "Breaking through patterns." It is only available in Dutch and German and can be read by itself or be used along with a certain type of therapy that has borrowed elements from some other kinds, but mainly from cognitive therapy. Because I have had cognitive therapy in the past, the concepts in the book are not strange to me and I can perfectly understand them, but it is very good to, with a lot of care, read up on all of this again and reacquaint myself with the basic ideas and how I can apply them to myself.
I am at a crossroads right now and I feel that some things have to change because I have been stagnating and refusing to acknowledge that certain things about me and my life need to be worked on. I have been hiding behind a very thick and tall wall, shouting that everything is just great. Quite a few events are taking place in my life right now that make it come about that I have to make changes. It is all serendipitous and I have to take this train to the next station.