Friday, June 29, 2007

Setting the World Right Again


Last night I stayed home from the hospital. I needed to. I didn't exactly want to leave my husband there all alone, but for my sanity and my health, I had to stay home.

I got a request for a full on my manuscript, and I need to make a few more changes before I send it in. I'm pretty happy with the majority of it, but since I had to rework the ending, there's some stuff that must be fixed. And while it was an awesome email to receive (this agent requested a partial first and now wants the full), it's just one more thing I need to do.

Fortunately, I'm happy to do this task! It sure does beat being on the phone with the VA or the bank or whoever else to try and figure out all the upcoming financial stuff.

So last night, with hubby's blessing, my daughter and I stayed home and I cracked open the dusty Word document and set to work. At first, it was tough going. But after I said a little prayer, I dived right in.

Ah...bliss. I can't wait to get back to it.

Hubby Update

Hubby is still in the hospital - and will be until Monday, at the least. His arm is slowly, but surely getting better. The swelling has gone down quite a bit, although the blistering still looks nasty. But I can definitely see an improvement.

Since it will be another long weekend at the hospital, it looks like I'll be bringing my laptop and working!

Hope you all have a very productive weekend, whatever you may be doing. :-)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pictures















The last photo cracks me up. This poor cat doesn't look like he's being forced to wear that silly beanie, does he? LOL

Not a lot of energy to post, so thought you might enjoy some of my photos that I just now downloaded from my camera!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

There's Tired...

...and then there's me.

I am the epitomy of the word exhaustion. My days consist of getting up, going to the day job, and working madly for three hours, then driving over to the hospital to spend lunch with my husband, then coming back and working madly for five more hours, and possibly being on the phone with the VA or whoever else I need to be, then driving over to the hospital and spending a few more hours with hubby. I come home exhausted, throw in a load of laundry, do the few dishes we have in the sink, and collapse on the couch.

I miss my writing. I miss my characters. I miss the world of writing. I haven't had time to go to anyone's blogs - and I miss you all!

Hubby is doing much better, but his arm is still not anywhere near healed. It's going to take a very long time for that to happen. I hope the blistering does not leave scars behind because the way it looks now...wow. It's even worse than it was a few days ago. I think this is just part of the healing process to get the infection out because the swelling has gone down considerably. But he's not leaving the hospital until that arm looks better.

Thankfully, we have an appointment with a gal on Friday to talk about the whole hospital bill which, they've already tallied up to Tuesday, and you don't want to know what it is. (I was actually astonished it was as low as it was!). I'm off to the VA today to see about getting hubby's eligibility processed.

I'm looking forward to the weekend, and I pray that my husband's arm will look a lot better by then because let's face it - I really don't want to spend another weekend sitting in an uncomfortable hospital chair!!!

Your continued prayers and support are so very much appreciated...you have no idea!

Hope to catch up with you all soon...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday Update

Went to the hospital for lunch this morning. Despite having his first good night's sleep in awhile, hubby was tired. He ate all his lunch, though. (And darn it, I have to quit eating his leftover dessert! Today it was apple pie).

Turns out it is a staph infection. Now that they know what it is, they can zero in on the antibiotic that will work the best. But he's still scheduled to be in the hospital until at least Wednesday.

I'm back at work. It's been nice to dive into my workload and just sort of forget about stuff. But it's always there, hovering at the back of my mind.

Thanks so much for all your prayers and good thoughts. It is very much appreciated!

Sunday Update

We're looking at Wednesday for possible discharge date. The arm looks horrible, but he is feeling better. Temps are still going up - but not as high. His highest temp today was 100.1. His arm is now encased in lots of gauze and pads and he has to keep it upright in a sling. Guess it's not too uncomfortable as he slept with it like that last night and had a decent night's sleep. His appetite still isn't too good, but it's getting better.

The bad news? We're looking at a possible three to four weeks of outpatient treatment. And that also means three to four week of unemployment. AND, (there's always something else, isn't there?) the antibiotics we need have to come directly from the company itself - and you pay up front.

I'm tired. My daughter and I went to the hospital this morning, then came home. I cleaned house because I couldn't stand it anymore, and then took a well-deserved nap. We went back to the hospital this evening.

I'm trying to get all the financial paperwork rounded up. Looks like the VA might be one source of help. We'll see what happens.

I'll be back to work tomorrow and maybe throwing myself into the job will help me forget about some of this stuff for awhile! I'll go over to the hospital for lunch with hubby and probably be making lots of phone calls. :-)

Thanks for all your good thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Update

Spending all day at the hospital is very tiring - emotionally and physically.

When I went in this morning, my husband looked a lot better - but his arm looked a lot worse. I'm not going to describe it to you because it would literally gross you out, but it is one heck of an infection. His arm is still swollen and has started to blister. Ok, so I described it a little. But I won't go into the really bad details.

My daughter and I stayed up late making cards for him and she picked out a "get well" balloon for him this morning at the hospital. It was of Tigger and it said something like, "Bounce back soon!" She stayed with us for a little while at the hospital and then my mom, bless her heart, took her for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

The doctor had to recommend an orthopedic surgeon to look at hubby's arm, and that didn't happen until after 5 p.m. Y'know what I'm realizing about hospitals? There's a whole lot of waiting involved. But the hardest thing to wait for is answers.

What the orthopedic surgeon said was a mixed bag of good and bad. Good, that it looks like at this point he won't require surgery. Bad, in that he will have to be in the hospital longer than the weekend and treatment will continue (outside the hospital) for another three to four weeks.

He's on two different kinds of antibiotics, had to have his IV needle reinserted (especially painful) and went through another round of poking and prodding to get some more blood samples.

I'm trying to think positive here, but there are a few things holding me back. One, hubby doesn't have insurance. Why? you may ask. Because we can't afford it for all of us. The kids and I have insurance. Since he has been the healthiest of the two of us (and since I have diabetes and need to have insurance to cover all the doctor visits), he elected to just get set up with the Veteran's Administration since he served in the army during the first Gulf War. The only problem? We were just filling out the paperwork when all this happened.

And we all know how expensive hospitals and doctors and specialists are. I cringe when I think of the bills. And I cringe again when I think of him being out of work for 3-4 weeks.

God will provide. I keep telling myself that. And I have to believe it, otherwise I'll drive myself crazy with worry.

But y'know what? There are always positive things to come out of any situation. And here's one. Hubby and I are spending a lot of time together. We're bonding in a way that we haven't before - and as the vows go, in sickness and in health. Well, we're in the sickness part right now. But that's ok. It's just increased our devotion and love for each other. When he takes a nap, I work on my writing (it's a great way to escape reality for awhile) and when he's awake, we talk, hold hands, and watch t.v. together.

We'll be ok. :-)

Thanks for all your good wishes. I'll keep you updated as time permits.

Friday, June 22, 2007

ER

No. Not the show. But the real thing.

The emergency room.

I was there today. And even though there wasn't a doctor nearly as good looking as George Clooney, it was pretty darn real.

I had to rush hubby to the ER for an infection in his arm, one that was life-threatening, according to the "quick" care doctor. And let me tell you, the whole day was nerve-wracking. Antibiotics. Lots of vials of blood. X-rays. Ultrasounds. Poking. Prodding. Talking. Sitting. Worrying.

He had a fever of 102.9. That is high, I don't care who you are. It went down a few degrees this afternoon, but by 8 p.m., it had climbed back up to 102.6. That scared me. The way his arm looks scares me. Swollen to three times its size. The way he lays there with no energy scares me. His lack of humor and smile scares me.

He's going to be ok. That's the important thing. But it's so hard to see him like this. My husband is a vibrant man, full of life and never one to sit down for long. He always has to be busy, always has to be doing something. And now that he's confined to a hospital bed, and he doesn't have the energy or motivation or health to do anything, it's incredibly hard to see.

I would love it if you could all send lots of prayers for us. I would really, really appreciate it.

Lack of Motivation = Too Much Chocolate


I feel so unproductive where my writing is concerned that I want to curl up into a ball with an entire sack of Dove Dark Chocolate or maybe even Godiva Dark Chocolate. I'll take either. (My dog Missy, left, portrays exactly how I feel.)
I'm mentally exhausted from too much stuff going on at work and at home. Thing is, writing is my escape from all that. But I haven't taken advantage of it lately because, well, here's the thing - it feels like work right now.

I wonder if I've hit burn-out central and this is my mind's way of telling me to just go read a good book for a few weeks, watch a bunch of movies, and let my brain rejuvenate.

Maybe.
I don't know if I like that prospect, though. I'd rather be writing.
Then why can I muster absolutely no enthusiasm for it right now? Perhaps the depression hasn't completely gone away. I no longer feel so negative and dark about life, but I'm not exactly the perkiest person to be around, either. I haven't been getting to sleep at a decent hour for the past two weeks, and I'm hitting the snooze button a little too often.

For now, I'm going to blame my lack of energy, motivation, and drive on the hot summer sun. I am not a summer person and I loathe heat. I can't stand to be hot. It makes me unbearable to live with. I usually hole up in the basement where it's nice and cool (and ironically, is freezing in the winter).

Maybe I'm just tired. I've only hit Curves three times in the past two weeks. My lack of exercise could definitely have something to do with it.

At least it's Friday. That already makes me feel better!




Thursday, June 21, 2007

Jumbled



The thoughts are jumbled this morning. Even after two Diet Pepsi's! No chocolate yet...maybe that's the problem!
So for a completely different topic, tell me what your favorite newspaper cartoon is. I'm partial to Pearls Before Swine (above), but I also enjoy Garfield and Peanuts.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's a Tuesday


The rough plot outline of my Italian Duet novel, tentatively titled Catch and Release, is finished.

And I couldn't be happier.

I think I've got the major points figured out. I'm leaving room for change, though, so I'm not completely locking myself in. After all, what's the fun of writing if you've got every last detail figured out? :-)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Updates


I had my diabetic check-up this last week and here's what can happen if you lose over 35 pounds:


1) You can cut your cholesterol in half (and be within the normal range)


2) You can cut your trigylcerides in half (and be within the normal range)


3) You can have a normal A1C (a measure of your blood sugar levels for the past 3 months)


4) You can have normal blood glucose levels
5) You can get a huge hug from your doctor and lots and lots of praise. (this may be the best of all!)


Talk about great news! All those health issues I had...and losing the weight made a major difference. It wasn't easy, but the results have definitely been worth it!


Birthday and Weekend Activities

Had a nice birthday. Nothing special, but got my hair cut (chopped about three inches off and it feels MUCH better), had some family time, and ate cake. But it was a bit sad, too, since that was the day our church was demolished. Watching the wrecking ball hit those bricks was sobering.

I did a lot of movie watching over the weekend - Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima (a birthday present from my little bro), Sands of Iwo Jima (birthday present from hubby) with John Wayne (it has a very short scene with three of the original flag raisers) and Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore, one of my all-time favorite movies. I also bought Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck with a Barnes & Noble gift card from my mom. My dad got me this awesome sculpture of the Iwo Jima memorial (can you sense a theme to this birthday???). So yeah, I had a great birthday!

But I also made time for writing, and I got quite a bit of plot work done on the novel. The major plot points are starting to fall into place and I can't wait to get going on the writing part. All in good time!

We went to church Sunday morning in a different location - we are going to be a nomadic congregation for awhile! - and took my hubby out for Father's Day lunch.

Thanks so much for all the birthday wishes!

How was your weekend?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

It's Getting Up There

My age, that is.

I will turn 32 tomorrow. Turning 30 wasn't so bad. Turning 31 was very, very hard.

Turning 32 just might be worse.

I'm taking the day off and plan to sleep in. Then I just might lounge in bed, watch High Society with Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Grace Kelley, drink some Diet Pepsi, and have loads of dark chocolate that my office mates generously gave me.

And then I just might do a little work on my Italian novel. The characterization of my main character is going brilliantly. No, splendidly. Let's just say there are lots of -ly words involved in the process. ;-)

I apologize for not getting 'round to everyone's blogs the past few days, but work has been killer. I anticipate that I shall have time tomorrow to luxuriously troll the web instead of snatching little bites here and there at work.

Have a glorious weekend!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Wrong Career?

My husband's dog, Tiny Bear, who is actually not tiny at all and looks more like a lion than a bear, rushed into our house last night. He's an outside dog, weighs over 100 pounds, and is a mixture of St. Bernard, Husky, and a tiny bit of wolf. Despite this fearsome pedigree, he is the world's biggest wuss.

I wasn't all that happy to see him charging down the basement stairs, deaf to my yelling. Usually, the only time Tiny makes a beeline for the backdoor is because it is a) thundering or b) too darn hot outside.

Since neither of those conditions were present, I was a bit worried. And of course, so were the cats. They scattered as soon as he appeared (except for the mama cat who knows that this big fluff ball is no threat). Poor Tiny laid on the cement floor and whined. I definitely knew something was up.

When I finally had time to investigate, I discovered the poor pooch had a nice hot spot right on his neck. I, being the intrepid soul that I am, knew exactly what to do since poor Missy suffered the same ailment a few months ago. Thankfully, it was a relatively small spot compared to what I found on Missy, and so we hauled him into the garage to do a bit of "surgery."

Here's the weird thing. I loved doing it. The gross factor didn't bother me at all. I snipped all the hair near the spot while the three kids scratched his belly and hubby held him down. Tiny didn't enjoy the entire process, and when I got to the part where I had to clean the wound, he really didn't like it. But we finally got the deed done and after I called the vet, he told me what I needed to do to take care of it without an expensive trip to the vet's office.

I sometimes wonder if I should have been a veterinarian. While human wounds completely turn my stomach, looking at an animal's wounds don't bother me at all. Perhaps I made the wrong career choice? Nah...

On the Depression...

I want to thank all of you for your support and encouragement on my depression. This is a big reason why I love blogging - all of you! Yesterday, about mid-afternoon, I felt my mood lift. Now I don't know if this is because my hormones finally got on track or if all of your wonderful comments gave me the boost I needed to get out of it, but I feel much, much better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Creativity and Depression

There's a strange link between creativity and depression. Lots of creative geniuses suffered from depression. And we're not talking just feeling blue, but that black hole of emotional wretchedness that grabs you and tries to pull you in.

I've suffered from depression since high school. My mom has it. My grandmother had it. And we're all creative. I take anti-depressants to help control it. Some argue against this practice, and I will say that I think doctors over-prescribe anti-depressants. They're not a cure-all and for some people, they can make things even worse. But they have made a huge difference in my life.

Speaking from past experience, when I have tried to go off my anti-depressants (when I was pregnant), I landed right back in that black hole. And there's nothing quite like it. It's scary. It's like being a pebble in a massive rock slide. You just tumble along, knowing that you're headed toward the ravine. The anti-depressants can often miraculously pluck you out of that rock slide and put you on firmer ground. They did for me.

There's tons of research and articles on creativity and depression. Some artists can't work while they are depressed. Some work their best. I'm with the former group. When I was depressed, I couldn't gather the energy or the motivation to do much else but just sit on the couch and mindlessly watch t.v.

I feel depressed right now. It's been lingering in me for the past two or three weeks. I think a lot of it is work-related. We're suffering from a heavy workload and I feel burn out edging its way in. But I'm also depressed over the writing rejections. The frustration. And even though I've wanted to work on my writing, I really have had to force myself to do it.

Maybe I just need a change of scenery. Maybe I just need a different job. Or maybe, I just need a month-long vacation!

I don't like feeling this way, and I know hubby doesn't like it, either! I want to be driven to write. I want to be driven to succeed at my job. I want to feel like my mind isn't going in a thousand different directions. I want to smile more.

I see the light at the end of the tunnel. That gives me hope. Before the anti-depressants, there was no light, only a dark shadow of nothingness. Now I just feel like I need to climb this mountain and once I do that, all will be right with the world. The trick is to discover what, exactly, this mountain is. The job? The writing? The day-do-day financial struggles? The kids? All of it rolled into one?

I told my husband last night I wanted to run away. Not for good, mind you, but just for a couple of weeks. I'm thinking Italy might do the trick. ;-)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Thoughts

It was an interesting weekend.

Saturday morning there was the fire and subsequent destruction of my church. (new pictures)

Saturday evening I played darts with hubby and worked on characterization for the main character in my new novel.

Sunday there was the headache that would not go away and a viewing of The Godfather. (Yes, me, being an Italian, had never seen this before. Go figure!)

And then I took my dog for a walk down a few blocks to see the ruins of the church. I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried. One wall has already been demolished. Yes, it's just a building. But then again it's not just a building. To me, it's a holy place, one that cradled people in their grief, their happiness, their joy, and their sorrow. And now it's gone.

But we shall persevere.

Today, it's Monday, the start of a new week. The kids were still sprawled out on the living room floor when I left, and the babysitter will have a few hours to herself before they wake up. The kitties are already hard at play and the sink that once was free of dirty dishes is now full again.

Yup, life goes on.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

No Words


This morning, my husband woke me with the horrible news that our church had burned down. You can look at more photos here, taken by one of our pastors. Apparently the fire started in the basement kitchen around 4 or 5 a.m., but what caused it has yet to be determined. Two firemen were also injured putting out the blaze.

Zion is a historic church, built by the Germans from Russia in the early 1900's. It was absolutely beautiful, with a gorgeous mural on the wall in the sanctuary, stunning stained glass windows, and the original pews and woodwork. Now it is a shell. When we went to look at it today, my heart hurt.

We live just down the street from our church, and only started attending it in the last few years. We love it. And to see this has just been devastating.
Zion has been a fixture of our neighborhood for many, many years. But the congregation has already found another place to meet. Another church in town graciously offered to allow us to use their building for services tomorrow.

I have no doubt that we will rebuild, and I have just kept one phrase in mind throughout the day: the church is not the building, but the people.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Laughing in the Face of Rejection

Two rejections waited for me in my inbox this morning. One was a rejection on a query letter - not too stinging. The other was a rejection on a partial. That one smarted.

It's part of the game. Some days it's easier to deal with than others. Today, well, today wasn't an easy day. But I refuse to give up.

Onward and upward!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Being a Mom

Today is the last day of school. Yesterday my daughter brought home all her stuff - her reading log, the nametag from her desk, and lots of artwork. She also had a few Weekly Reader's (remember those?) that she wanted to read to me.

And as we sat at the dining room table and she read, I almost started to cry. My baby is seven years old. She'll be a second grader next year. Where did the time go? Of course, I wouldn't want it any other way - I look forward to the coming years to see how she grows and develops into a young woman. But it's happening so fast. I wish I could rewind for just a day and cuddle my little baby again those first few days after birth, or watch her as she takes her first steps, or listen to her baby giggles.

It's a joy to be a mother, but it's also a bit painful. Well, not a bit, but a whole darn lot. I get upset when someone hurts her; I can't stand to see her fall down; I cringe when I watch her be a daredevil on the monkey bars. But the joys far outweigh the rough times of motherhood. I can't even tell you how many pictures I've taken of her while she sleeps because it's just so darn precious, or how often I've secretly laughed to myself when she's told me one of her Molly'isms (one of my favorite: On a cloudy day, she was upset because she didn't think the sun could breathe!), or how I treasure all of the artwork she's given me. I feel truly blessed to have her in my life. :-)

World War II Reminder...

I looked at my calendar today and realized that it is the 63rd anniversary of the D-Day Invasion at Normandy. It's on my list of places to visit someday.

I can't imagine what it must have been like. Hollywood has tried, and there's a few movies that you can watch to get a feel for that day.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Productivity Part Two

It's good to feel productive.

Last night I came home, ate a bit of supper, then went to work on revising an essay. Before the evening was through, I'd submitted it to an anthology and felt pretty darn proud of myself for getting it done.

But in between revising, I went and sat on the front porch to watch the approaching storm. I took my journal with me and started recording the sights and smells and sounds around me. It started to rain (a rain which soon turned into a torrential downpour) and I wanted to record those peaceful sounds.

Big fat drops. Lazy drops. Plop.
Not hard and fast, not driven with anger or determination. Soft. Harmonious.

And as the rain grew in momentum, I wrote, No more plops, but scattering pebbles. Ping.

It's not Keats or Bronte or even remotely close to Shakespeare, but it was fun just to try and come up with different ways to describe the rain. I even thought of a cool simile: The rain sounds like someone spilled a case of straight pins on a wooden floor.

If you ever get a few peaceful moments, sit outside and just listen to the sounds around you. Try and come up with different ways to describe them rather than the same old tired phrases. I know I tried to come up with something other than a "gentle breeze" and couldn't. Of course, if I'd had my handy thesaurus with me, you never know what might have happened!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Satisfaction of Productivity


Taking the day off on Friday proved to be an excellent decision. Not only did it allow me to get a lot of housework done, relax, and even go shopping, but that freed up my weekend hours for writing.


And write I did. I edited the novel, wrote an essay for an anthology, and finished editing my short story. Sent out the short story to a few magazines yesterday, and I'm anxious to see what happens.


I love it when I write all day. It gives me a sense of happiness that I can't find anywhere else. I wish I had more days like that.
Three more days left of school for the kiddos, then I can quit getting up so early to take them to school for three months. Ah, bliss. Since we have the in-home babysitter, it will be wonderful to just get myself ready for work in the morning and let them sleep in. Wow, I miss those carefree days...I used to love summer vacation.
But not having to worry about getting them ready for bed in the evenings will also free up a bit more time for me. Now if I can only figure a way to get rid of the pesky day job for awhile and still make money... ;-)




Saturday, June 02, 2007

Weekend Fun

It's been a relaxing weekend, made even more so by the fact that I took a vacation day on Friday. I was to the point of either doing that or literally exploding at work from all the stress. Not good.

I've been writing, went for a long walk with my dog and got caught in the rain, cuddled the kitties, cleaned the house, ordered a few classic movies on DVD, and hubby took me out for lunch today. Yeah, it's a good weekend.

Ordering my movies (and justifying the cost) made me think about hobbies. So tell me. What are your hobbies?

Here's mine.

1) Collecting Snoopy stuff (although I've cut back drastically on this due to crowded curio cabinets!)

2) Watching and collecting classic movies - usually anything from the 1930's until the late 1960's.

3) Collecting books.

4) Reading.

5) Listening to music.

6) Spending time with the family!

7) Geneology - mostly of the Italian side at this point.

That's about it. I used to be a lot more interesting - I did a lot of arts and crafts like rubber stamping, collaging, and drawing. But I had to cut a lot of that stuff out to get more writing done. And funny - I don't miss it too much!

Your turn!

It's Time

I've had this blog for over 10 years. But I'm finding that I go to it less and less. Maybe it's the death of blogging that broug...