Monday, February 27, 2006

Seeing things (or not as the case may be)

Things went well at my appointment today. Dr. C didn't find any problems with my eyes. Even better he took the time to explain all of it to me. He explained that plaquenil can sometimes gather in a low spot on the back of the eye which is what causes the 'visual disturbances'. It would show up on the imaging he does of the interior of my eyes as a bunch of white dots on a particular area of the retina and I would have a spot in the center of my field of vision that would be blurry or would appear blank. I now have a little self test to do once a month and instructions to call immediately if I notice any problems. He also mentioned that the problems go away as soon as you stop taking the plaquenil.

It was a huge relief, because I now have a full explanation and I know exactly what I'm supposed to be watching for. There's no reason to be nervous or paranoid about it now because I know what to expect.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Religious symbols and making jewelry

I have a plan for a bracelet for myself that incorporates a Thor's hammer since I've had a hard time wearing the one I have. (If I wear anything else that runs across the back of my neck I either end up with a rash where the chain rubs or it all get tangled in my hair.) Unfortunately, the hammer I have, while small, is a bit too big for the design I had in mind so I just spent several hours trying to find the right one to use. I ran into some interesting problems. The first is that it is damn hard to find small hammer pendants that have a simple design. The second problem is that it is hard to find inexpensive ones. I can find nice, inexpensive symbols for several other religions but not for my own. If I ever end up making one with a hammer for someone it's going to be an expensive piece, although I now know it would be relatively easy to get an appropriate charm for someone of a different religion. I guess with the hammer purchased I need to order the beads as well so I can get the bracelet made.

Once the birds are back in their cage I'll hit E up to help me finish cutting out the main part of the satchel. Then I'll need to sort out how I'll be doing the gussets and then work out the decoration. I may just cheat on the latter part and use something that has already been designed, but I'll wait until everything is cut out before I decide on that. Once I start on the tooling I may take pictures of the whole process and start putting them up here.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A few small changes

As you can see I've added a picture and have switched to the alias I generally use on the web rather than an initial. Still me though.

Quiet morning

The other humans in the house are still asleep. E has been having problems with insomnia this week so it's good that he's still asleep. A was up late herself getting stuff put away after a shopping expedition to get food for the birds. I rather like being the first person up like this. The house is quiet beyond the normal animal noises, and even the birds are pretty quiet right now, and it's a good time to get caught up on email and posting here. It's also a good joint day so I'm sitting here enjoying the fact that my feet don't hurt at all and my hands and wrists are at their usual normal level of achiness. It's so nice to be at that point without having to take anything beyond my normal medications. Hopefully I can translate that into getting stuff done today.

Last night we went on a shopping expedition. Birds are much more sensitive to things like pesticides so you have to go with organic produce to supplement their diet. Unfortunately there isn't a huge amount of selection in organic produce in the stores here so we have to drive to the next largest city and go to Whole Foods Market. It was a fun trip, although I think it would've been more fun if we hadn't all been hungry. It got a bit rushed so we could go eat. I had the most fun in the spice aisle. They carried the big tins of Hungarian paprika (only sweet and hot though), long pepper (which is a spice that shows up in medieval recipes and can be hard to find) and premade vanilla sugar. I only grabbed a tin of paprika, but it's good to know about the rest if I need them. They also carry Hagenbutter (rosehip preserves, very similar to apple butter) so I had to get a jar of that as well. I'm hoping the next trip can be a bit more leisurely because I would've like to have seen what they carried for personal care items. I'm always looking for new lotions, and things like that to try out.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ending on a sobering note

So far the new desk has been great, although I've noticed that the way it is set up means I have a tendency to slouch forward and rest my elbows on the desk while I'm reading stuff and it's killing my back. At this point it is a self correcting thing, I can only do it so long before my mid back starts to feel like someone is running an ice pick through it which reminds me to sit correctly. The desk is also popular with the cats, but I think that is because we didn't get the rest of the living room rearranged. Hopefully that will get finished this coming weekend.

I finally broke down and got an appointment set up with the eye doctor. Normally it wouldn't be a big deal, but Dr. M, my rheumatologist, said I need to because of the plaquenil that I am taking for the RA (or whatever it is). It's one of the milder drugs out there for RA but it's major side effect is "visual disturbances such as blurred vision, misty vision, and difficulty focusing" so I get to go get my eyes checked every year now. It's one of the more sobering things about RA or the possibility of it, all of the medications used to treat it have serious side effects. Another thing you have to be aware of is that the second line drugs for it, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), were all originally used for something else and they found that they were effective against RA. (For example, plaquenil was originally used to treat malaria, and methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug.) It's a bit jarring when you go to look them up so you have more information. The most sobering thing of course is that there is no cure, there are just newer drugs that will slow the disease down. I know I'm in a much better position than the other people in my family that have had RA, but I can't help looking down at my hands and seeing my Grandmother's hands with the typical twist to the finger and the swollen knuckles there. It scares me. I look every day to see if it's starting. There are times I think the only thing that keeps me from loosing my mind is the pain. Well that and the Zoloft.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Now open at a new location

Not a huge move, just a few feet down the wall, but it a nice change. Plus, I have a nice new desk too. Lot's more storage space, and it actually has a big enough desk top for me to have an area to write rather than balancing a notepad precariously on the edge of the desk. The cats are still investigating it. The only down side is that we didn't have enough time to rearrange the living room completely so I have the table right next to me and I keep rolling my chair into it. We should be able to get everything else moved this coming weekend so it's not a big deal.

It also meant that I didn't get a chance to work more on cutting the bag out. I guess I'll have to see if E can help me out with sometime this week although I'm not sure when. It may have to wait until the weekend too.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Not a winner

We didn't win, but it was a bit fun wishing. I figure it's like our gambling trips, I do it for fun and I'm not doing it with money we need for something else so it isn't a big deal.

Haven't gotten much done today. Slept in later than I had planned on and I've only gotten a couple of loads of laundry done. E didn't get a chance to help me cut leather pieces out before they for bowling because my sister, brother-in-law and niece stopped by to drop off a computer they had gotten for E to look over. My sister works at a dental office and they are moving to a new location and decided to get new computer equipment, so they sold the old computers to their staff. So, for $100 my sister was able to pick up a nice computer that is only a few years old and should do really well for them. My niece, who is three, got to spend some time chasing our cats around and got to see the birds. My sister said she was telling everyone yesterday that parrots are 'truffical' birds.

Not sure what I'll do with the rest of the day. There's a computer taking up a lot of the space on the table so it would be hard to sew, and I don't want to try to cut more of the satchel out until I have help. I might work on some jewelry. I got some new beads and it would be fun to work with them. Plus I think I have an idea for a bracelet for myself incorporating a small Thor's hammer, but I need to look at what we have to work out the design.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

At least I bought a ticket.

I went in on a group purchase of Powerball tickets at work yesterday, so I'm anxiously waiting for the lottery website to show the results of the drawing today. I don't expect for us to win, but it would be nice. (The title for today is a reference to a joke where a man is railing at God for not causing him to win the lottrey. God finally response by saying 'Meet me halfway, buy a ticket!' )

Weather was a bit warmer today thankfully, and it looks to warm up more over the next few days. I'm still looking at getting more cold weather clothes just to be on the safe side. I'm currently on the hunt for warm socks since one of my biggest problems is my feet getting cold. The Vermont Country store seems to have the best selection so far and in colors that will work with my work shoes. I'm still going to look around a bit more before I decide to get some just to be sure I've found the best ones.

I got the main piece of the book satchel rough cut out today but I had some problems with getting the sides straight so I'm going to wait until E's home tomorrow to get that taken care of. I did take one of the pieces I trimmed off tonight and tested the iron oxide dye on it. It looks like it will work well. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do for the side gussets. I know I should follow the way it was done in the ones I'm trying to copy, but the type of gussets I usually do would be so much easier.

It looks like the Powerball numbers are out now so I will wander off to check my copies of the tickets we got. Hopefully my chaos field doesn't kick in.

Friday, February 17, 2006

It's freaking freezing out there

It's been an exciting end of the week. Living in the Rocky Mountain region we got hit with the beginning of the big storm that barrelled across the US this week. Lots of snow the first couple of days and now we've settled into below zero temperatures which is only made worse with the wind. Checking just now it looks like we are currently at -16F with a wind chill taking it down to -35F. It's so cold the dog, who is a Husky/Shepard cross and loves being outside in most weather, doesn't want to stay outside any longer than she has to. I got to spend the first day doing all of the usual sudden cold snap preparations, getting extra blankets on the bed, locating heavier gloves and coats and so on. I wore long underwear under my work clothes the last two days plus two pairs of socks and my hiking boots. (I'm so grateful that they are really laid back about things like that at work. It would've been miserable having to wear anything else.) I have got to remember to have one of those two pairs of socks wool. I didn't do that today and my feet are still cold. It looks like it will be just as cold tomorrow and then warm up a bit on Sunday. I'm looking forward to having temperatures over zero.

This all reminded me again about some of the winter weather clothes I have meaning to get so I also ended up shopping. I got a new pair of long underwear pants, from Wintersilks, on the recommendation of a co-worker. According to her the black ones work well under skirts so I'm going to give them a try. I'm also getting a new winter hat after trying to wear a stocking cap and having it slide up leaving me looking like a conehead and with frozen ears. I'm starting to think that I need to get at least one pair of heavy wool socks too. I also realized that when we replace the small truck I drive I'd really like to get something with 4 wheel drive. The truck is rear wheel drive and tends to fishtail when it's slick so something more stable would be good. I'm really thinking that a Subaru of some type would be nice because I don't need a huge SUV or anything, I just want something that will be a bit more stable in these conditions.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tips for dealing with joint pain #1

I was thinking about this blog earlier in the week and I decided that it would be a good way to toss out some of the ways I have found that help me deal with joint pain in the hopes that someone else who needs that sort of information might stumble on it. In that vein I will provide my first tip today.

Tip the first:

One of the best things I have found to help with my joint pain, and to also help loosen my joints up when I want to work on something is a paraffin spa. If you are going to buy one I recommend getting one of the larger ones because you can get all of your hand and wrist and even your feet in it. A great bonus for me is that it also moisturises the skin. (I have horribly dry skin and my hands and cuticles are usually a mess because of it.)

If I am having problems, or have a project coming up where I will need my hands, I keep the paraffin spa plugged in in the kitchen so it's ready to go. Then I use it as necessary, usually before starting a project to get everything loosened up. I know someone who has JRA (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) and she keeps her paraffin spa in her sewing room and will take a break from a project and use it so that she can finish what she's working on.

My paraffin spa is made by Homedics and they carry a full line of the accessories that go with the spas as well.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Fun with fabric

I got several things done last night and tonight. Worked on some jewelry last night including a commissioned piece and I got a tunic put together tonight. It's interesting, my hands are a bit stiff and sore after doing the sewing, but my ankles are just killing me. I'll have to keep that in mind for the future. I wish I could figure out a way to get the parafin spa down where I could get my feet in it.

One of these days I need to compile my list of products that make life easier for people with joint problems and post it here. There are some really great products out there and I think it's good to get the word out.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


I am wiped out. I got a load of laundry put away, did a bunch of dishes, cleaned counters and cut out new garb for myself. Not bad, but I cannot believe how exhausted I am at this point. I keep hoping it's because I'm still fighting off a sinus infection, but I'm probably just lying to myself. It's really disheartening.

If it's going to be like this, I am going to need to get working on that satchel soon or I will never get it done.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Watching birds, the MacGuyver factor

As I mentioned yesterday I'm on my own for a few days because my spice are away at the funeral for my co-wife's great-grandmother. (E is there as a buffer for her, her family is a bit quirky and her mother is nuts.) This means that I have been watching the birds and it was going well until last night. Tina has figured out how to get her head through the bars and managed to get stuck that way. Three times. This concerned me slightly because they were going to be sleeping up stairs in the same cage and I didn't want her to get stuck and have a cat get interested and. . . you get the idea. Staying up all night to guard the birds did not appeal to me at all so I had to come up with another solution. So, utilizing six cardboard flats from cases of soda and some packing tape I came up with a temporary barrier for the corner of the cage that the cats can get to. I'm incredibly impressed with myself, although with more time and a bit more tooling leather in the house I could've made something more permanent. (And probably a bit prettier.)

I feel like I should have some skill, maybe jury-rig, that has gone up suddenly.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Life in a snowglobe

It's been a wild week and it's only halfway done. E and A left around noon today to get to the funeral for A's great grandmother which is Friday morning. In addition to all of the planning for that, I have a sinus infection, E dropped his cell phone in a toilet and had to replace it and A has had to deal with her mother being on the extra crazy setting. I'm glad E went with her to add a needed bit of sanity to the whole experience.

I'm going to be glad when the week is over and they are home safely.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Thoughts on cell phones

Since I'm home sick today and don't have the energy to do much beyond sit here at the computer I thought I'd write something a bit more serious that has been rattling around in my head.

I'm not one of those people who feels that cell phones are a sign of the end of the world. I own one myself and feel that they can be useful tools. What I don't understand is the way that they seem to have taken over people's lives to the point that they drop everything just to answer their cell phone no matter what they are doing. It also seems like half the conversations I've overheard don't seem to have much point. They aren't a work related call, a call to get or provide needed information, or a parent dealing with a family problem, they are merely chit chat. Granted I'm not into that sort of thing in the first place, but what is the point of doing it in the middle of the grocery store? And does this mean that the person leads the rest of their life that way, with the phone stuck to their ear chatting away? Will they die if they aren't connected to someone at all times like that? Are they going to be buried like that?

Ultimately the problem may be that I'm pretty anti-social so I don't understand the need to be that connected. My cell phone is a convenience for me, not a tether the rest of the world can reel me in with, so very few people have my cell phone number and I don't answer it if I'm in the middle of something or if I don't recognise the number. (The only time I do answer if I don't recognise the number is if I've gotten several calls from that number so I can let them know they have a wrong number since my voicemail obviously hasn't tipped them off yet.) Am I hopelessly behind the times? Who knows, but I am happy this way, so I guess it's all that matters.

Hit by a Mack truck

Not literally, of course, but I think I might feel a bit better that way. I've been trying to stave off the upper respitory crud that is going around since I had so much to do. Rather than following the regular pattern and hitting me when I was done with things it decided to skip a few steps and settled into my sinuses. I feel like someone is in there pounding needles through my face right now. The worst part is that I can't get in to see my doctor until Wednesday afternoon so I will have to figure out how to make it until then. I don't want to take anymore time off because I have too much to do at work right now, so I'll just have to figure out a way to survive until then. I suppose I could go in to the quick care clinic, but I hate to do that unless Dr. M is out of town because I never end up with strong enough antibiotics from them. I got a lot of extra sleep today which will help some, so I guess I'll just keep myself drugged up and hydrated and hope it works.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I'm still here

I've got a minute to sit down and do an entry. It's been a busy week, I had a meeting to run on thursday and then had to try to get handouts and stuff ready for teaching my class yesterday. I made it through the class but I really need to work a bit harder on how I start them. I ramble to start with and then it clicks, I pull it together and do OK. Took an interesting class on late period German clothing, it may be something to tackle when I get more of my projects done. I guess the next thing to start on is the satchel. I still don't have any huge inspiration on the decoration so I'm just going to push my way through it and come up with something. Thankfully I've got a couple of months to work on it.

The big news for the day is that we got back from doing the first of the month shopping to find out that A's great-grandmother had passed today. A's grandmother and great aunt were there with her whne it happened and it sounds like she went peacefully which is good. No word when the funeral might be and until there's a date and time no idea if A will be able to go or not. E had promised to drive her, so if she's able to go, I'll be staying home with the animals.

Bought a new CD, and it's actually something popular for a change. (My music taste is all over the place so the last few CDs I've gotten for myself have been Värttinä albums which is not really mainstream stuff.) I bought the Gorillaz album Demon Days today. I don't like the entire album, but that's normal for me, but I like a lot of it particularly Feel Good Inc. and DARE. I'll have to see how money shakes out for the month, there's a few other CDs I'd like to get.