Saturday, February 28, 2009
Well, the support group meeting for people with SD is today. I was up WAY too late last night getting ready. For some reason, I am nervous about this meeting. I don't know why.
There will be nice snacks - I baked mini chocolate chip cookies and mini peanut butter cookies (be proud of me - I didn't sample any since I gave up sweets for Lent!), I cut up three kinds of cheese and got out the Ritz crackers for a cheese plate (for those who gave up sweets for Lent!), and even bought a bag of Chex Mix for those who like munchies. There is a case of water out in my car just waiting to be lugged into the meeting room.
Lists of upcoming events are printed with neat little note paper on the flip side - the note side has the SD icon I use with the name of the support group and the date and then room for notes. Extra business cards - mine - are printed and ready to go.
My Spokeman personal amplification system is charged up and ready. My camera is sitting next to my stuff to be taken to the meeting.
Everything I can think of is ready. So . . . why am I nervous?
Voice Update: Still doing well. The crunchiness is still around a bit in my throat but it is getting better every day. I still don't feel like talking - must be one of those "moods" I get into now and again. Talking just is a pain so I don't want to do it. Go figure!
Friday, February 27, 2009
Has this week lasted forever or is it just me? On Tuesday I was positive it was Thursday and yesterday I kept thinking it was the 28th instead of the 26th! Last night I got home early because my Deaf Culture teacher had strep and dismissed class early. As soon as I was home I felt like flopping into bed and snoozing.
However, I couldn't fall asleep because Hubby was calling me from Lubbock to let me know when to pick him up at the airport today. So I listened to some podcasts, played some solitaire on my iPod while trying to keep my eyelids from drooping.
What a week!
Lent has started. Normally, I don't give up things because I never have the willpower to keep my resolve. This year I am giving it a go and giving up sweets. It has been two complete days and part of a third and so far, so good! It doesn't seem like much of a victory but for me - it is wonderful! It will be interesting to see how long I can do this. I am determined to go all the way!
Do you give up anything during Lent?
Voice Update: Still plugging away at making the crunchiness go away. It isn't too bad but I just don't feel too much like talking. That could be a problem when the next meeting of the North Texas SD Support Group is tomorrow! By the way - if anyone is reading this and has SD in the DFW area, contact me if you are interested in attending the meeting tomorrow from 1:00 - 3:00.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Previously, I have posted about my love affair with my iPod Classic. My music all in one, very portable place is fabulous and I am enthralled by the shuffle feature which lets me enjoy different kinds of music back-to-back. True, I also had some "issues" with my iPod that I had to work out with the "geniuses" at the Apple store but, I still like the device a lot.
Also, you may know that I produce a podcast of my own about Spasmodic Dysphonia. A podcast is rather like a radio show which you can download to your computer to listen to whenever you would like. Regular people can create podcasts and post them to the internet for free (like me - I am cheap!) or businesses, universities, etc. can produce podcasts for their customers. Schools utilize podcasts to help students study and to keep parents up to date with school activities. The uses for podcasts are literally endless.
However, while I have mentioned podcasts in passing, I have never really told you my all time favorites which I listen to regularly. So this post is all about the podcasts to which I listen.
Agatha Presents Mystery: This podcast originally caught my notice because it plays the Agatha Christie Radio Mysteries Series which I enjoy. The podcast also plays other radio mystery shows and they are good for those long journeys!
APM: Performance Today - Piano Puzzler: As a lover of classical music and a lover for puzzles, this podcast is perfect! Composer Bruce Adolph creates hybrid compositions which combine the style of a well known composer with a popular tune. A caller tries to identify both the composer and the tune. A fun listen which works your brain!
B&N Tagged! Published by the mega book store, Barnes & Nobles, this video podcast reviews newly published books. Each podcast has a theme and normally a guest author to talk about his/her book. If you enjoy reading this podcast can suggest some interesting new reads.
Best Of You Tube: Also a video podcast, this production is NOT associated with You Tube and it shows selected videos from You Tube. Always good for a chuckle or some awe!
Dancing With Elephants: A podcast created by a family living in the Chicago area, this podcast is entertaining. The entire family participates in the creating of the podcast including the two young children who, by the way, are very intelligent. A super listen to people who have children to find out how one family deals with the daily/weekly issues that happen in families with children.
Decoder Ring Theatre: This podcast recreated old-time radio shows with great success. The dramas have modern twists and are an enchanting way to pass the time.
Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing: Almost everyone I know who listens to podcasts has this one in their playlist. Grammar Girl talks about grammar topics suggested by her listeners and guides confused writers down the correct grammar path.
NPR: From The Top Podcast: This podcast is created from a popular radio program which showcases amazing young musicians. The musicians are all under the age of 18 and are from all over the country. Another terrific listen for classical music fans. These kids are amazing!
NPR: Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me! Podcast: A "game" show heard weekly on NPR which deals with current events. There are three guest panelists who make comedic answers and try to convince call in contestants that their wacky story is correct. Just a lot of fun.
Podictionary - for Word Lovers - Dictionary, Etymology, Trivia, & History: A short and sweet podcast exploring some unusual and some familiar words. Good for the word geek.
The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd: Another modern twist of the classic radio dramas, this one features scientists who travel through time to historical times. The "bad guys" try to steal historical artifacts to sell on E-bay in the current time while the "good guys" foil their plans. Fun and with lots of features for children.
Short Cummings Audio: One of my favorites - short, pithy narratives on a wide variety of topics by Ken Cummings. Entertaining in a nice, short package for those times when you want something good to listen to but don't have a lot of time.
Stuff You Missed In History Class: Produced by the makers of the website How Stuff Works, this is a wonderfully informative podcast features a different topic each episode and is filled with intriguing facts and trivia.
Storynory - Stories for Kids: While I am definitely not a kid, I like listening to stories so this podcast is a hit with me. All kinds of fun stories.
Tapestry of the Times: A podcast of a radio program featuring historical recordings from the Smithsonian Folkways recordings. Full of interesting music and back stories. A very wide variety of music that isn't normally played on the radio!
YarnCraft: If you are a knitter or crocheter this is a good podcast for you. It is published by Lion Brand yarn and covers all kinds of topics of interest to people who yarn craft.
Most of these podcasts have websites you can find using google and you can listen to the podcasts on your computer without needing an MP3 device. Of course, if you have an MP3 player - you can download them and have these shows "to-go!"
Voice Update: Doing well. The Insecurity Thugs are making me not really feel like talking but the crunchiness is waning and my voice is strong. Yeah!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Okay - I have lost three games of Bejeweled and so I guess I should stop procrastinating and blog. Why am I procrastinating, you may ask? Well, to tell you the truth, I have hit a patch in my life where I feel control slowly slipping through my fingers.
This happens to me from time to time. The normalcy flees and leaves confusion and chaos in its wake. All of the things that I thought I had under control . . . not so much anymore! My emotions edge closer to the surface and I am likely to snap at people or to cry if you look at me sideways.
Does that ever happen to you?
The whole world is against me! Well, that is how I feel. The reality of the situation is MUCH different. You see, when I get into one of these "patches," my sense of reality is overtaken by thugs from the last outpost of insecurity in my personality. Suddenly these thugs wallop my confidence and have me second guessing everything I say and/or do. The normal confidence I have in my abilities is missing in action - I always picture confidence bound and gagged and shoved in a janitor's closet somewhere in an out of the way place in my brain.
If (and when) I take a step back, breathe deeply, and analyze the situation with clear eyes, I find that the thugs are just trying to scare me and that things are not as bad as they first seem.
For example, the things which have me "in a tizzy" at the moment? First of all, classes. To be honest, I am ahead in my classwork and am doing well. No cause for panic. Second, Destination Imagination. I have a ton of work to do for the tournament on March 7th. It seems like I will never get done. The truth of the matter is that I have done this so often that it doesn't take as long as I think it will. I have things down to a routine AND this year I actually have someone to help me! While I do have a lot to do, I know that I can handle it. (I hope!) Third, SD Support Group meeting this Saturday. Why would I worry about this? It is a chance for people to gather and discuss things that relate to SD. I am good at that! Besides, in this too I have someone to help me out! Finally, my podcast! I really, really, really, want to post a podcast in February since I haven't posted one since sometime in January. I have been so busy (sometimes busy procrastinating!) that I haven't had time to sit and get my act together to make a new podcast. Well, I have an idea now and can just do the recording. Simple.
See- nothing too terrible in that batch. A lot to do, yes but, nothing I can't handle.
Now if only I would remember to step back and breathe more often!
Voice Update: Still a bit crunchy but getting better. I have started getting some nasty drainage in the evenings here which, as you may guess, doesn't help my voice too much. *sigh* It is always something! I am still doing well with the exercises and massage!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I almost forgot to tell you about the peach cake I posted on Saturday. Well, I remembered today and so . . . .
This recipe, according to my mother, is old. She got it from a friend many years ago and it is still a favorite in our family!
I don't have pictures of the ingredients to show you but the recipe is simple so just follow along.
Here is what you need:
a box of yellow cake mix
a can of peach pie filling
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
Totally ignore the directions on the cake box and simply stir the mix, the eggs, and the pie filling together. Put into a rectangular cake pan (I spray mine with Pam first).
Mix together the butter (softened), the sugar, and the flour. Sprinkle this concoction over the top of the batter.
Put the cake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.
The cake is wonderfully moist and flavorful with a sweet, slightly crunchy topping.
Voice Update: The crunchy throat is gradually going away with the more massage I do. I am doing my exercises and massage like a good girl. My voice does still have some breaks but not nearly as many as Sunday and Monday. Here's to hoping it just keeps getting better!
Monday, February 23, 2009
As most of you know from reading my blog, I have Abductor Spasmodic Dysphonia. If you would like to read up on the disorder, check out the website of the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association.
Anyway, while I try not to focus only on my SD I do tend to write the occasional blog about SD related things. This is my way of dispersing information to people who may be unaware that such a disorder exists. If more people understand that there is a disorder out there that robs people of their "normal" voices then maybe people will be kinder when they come across someone with a voice problem.
I am a very lucky SD person. Through hard work and a hefty dose of miracle, I have gotten about 95% of my "normal" voice back. I have to continually work to maintain this voice and no one - not even the medical professionals - can tell me if I will continue to keep this voice or if I will relapse and return to having no voice at all. It is a good feeling to have my voice but it is also a bit terrifying to live with the uncertainty of if I will be able to speak when I wake up each morning.
Recently I learned a VERY important lesson - that I MUST continue to do my speech exercises and massage daily (at least three times a day) in order to maintain my voice. I "fell off the wagon" so to speak a while back and have been struggling for the past two to three months to return to my "good" voice. Now it is almost second nature for me to massage or do my exercises many times daily.
This past weekend I learned another valuable lesson. This is something that Susan, my speech therapist, has told me over and over but . . . I guess I have to live it to learn it! This past weekend I had a training to do for Destination Imagination appraisers. I have been doing two of these trainings every year for the past six years. I know what is involved. I KNOW I need to try to keep my talking to a minimum so I don't overwork my vocal cords. I KNOW this.
Did I remember to do it? Of course not!
THEN I came home and proceeded to call my friend D and talk to her for over an hour. Then I talked to my brother for a couple of minutes. Then I talked to my parents for a while.
I overdid it. BIG time.
Now I am paying the price. My voice yesterday and today is hoarse. It isn't good. I am missing more unvoiced consonants than usual. When I massage my throat - it is crunchier than normal (which is a sign that things aren't quite right). I am hoping that massage and exercise and a little vocal moderation will help me out.
Stupid, stupid, stupid!
What was I thinking?
Voice Update: I think I pretty much said it all in the post but . . . massage, massage, massage, exercise, exercise, exercise!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Really - I will. I promise!
Voice Update: Too early to tell but my voice was scoring high points yesterday! We will see how it goes during training where I "get" to talk a lot!
Friday, February 20, 2009
I wanted the shape so I agreed to pay an additional fee for a custom shape. To be honest, after I got the artwork from the company I started having second thoughts. Hubby, my mother, and other people seemed skeptical that I would sell any at all. That made me hesitate in ordering. Then I got busy with school and stuff and never did anything about the order.
Maria emailed me a couple times asking if I was going to order and I responded that I hadn't made up my mind. Then, it started.
A person other than Maria emailed me from the same company asking if I was ready to order. I responded again that I hadn't made up my mind.
A couple of months later, ANOTHER different person emailed me asking if I was ready to order! Now, I understand that there is turn-over in companies and that I was taking a long time to make up my mind but none of the emails after Maria mentioned what had happened to Maria (Your account has been passed on to me . . .) and the third person even sent totally different artwork without the custom shape! Weird, I thought!
Well, the third person, Ginger, keeps emailing me. It isn't all the time but about once every couple of weeks. I am sure that I am frustrating to them, they want to make the sale. I understand and feel slightly bad that I am still waffling like I am. The idea of the magnets has not left my mind but has been shoved into the back of my mind since I have been preoccupied by other things.
Today I got another email from Ginger saying that since I had approved the artwork -which was different from the original artwork and which I NEVER approved - all they needed was my money to print the magnets. Excuse me? Does Ginger think I won't remember that I never approved the artwork she sent? Does she forget that I sent it back with questions about what happened to the original artwork and that she ignored that question and told me that a custom shape would cost more (duh! I knew that and had worked that all out with Maria!)?
Frustrated, I sent back a rather terse email saying that I had three questions. First, where is the original artwork that I did approve? Second, what in the world is going on with their company that I am being passed around to different people with no mention of the fact. I am being treated like I never talked to Maria (via email) at all! Third, what is the big deal if I decide to wait?
Then I forwarded the email from Maria with the original artwork to Ginger and said that THIS was the artwork that I had approved.
Now, quit bugging me until I make up my mind!
Voice Update: Rockin' and Rollin'! I am doing well and am still doing my exercises and massage faithfully!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
You have read all about our recent troubles with the hot water tank and the phone. You have read about my stomach issues. I can't recall if I told you about the front door not latching correctly or not. Well, all I can say is . . . now what???
Yesterday, before he left for work, Hubby took me out to the garage to show me something. When we were out there he pointed to the garage door opener button and pointed out that for some reason, it sticks at times. If it sticks, the "rolling code" or whatever it is called, is continually working making it impossible for someone to open the garage door from the outside with a remote. Apparently, I pressed the button, it stuck, and he couldn't get into the garage on Tuesday. Oops! I received a nice little demonstration on how to make sure that the button isn't stuck so that doesn't happen again. Let's just say Hubby wasn't too happy.
Then . . . after speech (which I will tell you about in a minute) I stopped by the post office to pickup a certified letter that the postman had tried to deliver the day before. The letter was from the Foundation Warranty company. With a slightly sick feeling in my stomach, I opened the letter and browsed it before pulling out of the parking lot of the post office. Can you guess what it said?
The crack in our foundation is NOT covered. Surprise, surprise!
Actually, Hubby and I figured that would be the result. We can take the company to arbitration (at our cost if we lose) if we don't like the decision. The decision, by the way, is based on the fact that no doors are impaired (the crack is in the middle of the house which is pretty open with no doors!) and that the property has "mature trees in the proximity of the foundation," "the front planting beds have marginal to poor drainage," and " the downspouts are discharging at the foundation."
Let me take each of those on one by one. First of all -the trees were planted by the builder, the canopy is not near the roof line of the house and that means that the root system isn't near the foundation, and since the homeowners association requires trees on the property we don't have much choice about having the trees. Now, if the builder had told us that we couldn't let the trees reach maturity because it would void our foundation warranty (which was never said), we would have made sure to rip them out before they were mature! Ridiculous!
Next, the front planting beds have no drainage problems. There is never any standing water anywhere in the beds and certainly not near the foundation. So that indicates marginal to poor drainage? Excuse me?
Finally the downspouts. Okay, the downspouts do come down the house and turn out at the foundation. They have the traditional bend directing the water away from the house. They have splash blocks which further direct the water away from the foundation. Apparently we are supposed to add extensions onto the downspouts which are at least two feet long so that the water goes that far from the house. Can you imagine having two feet of downspout in the yard? Really?
Anyway, Hubby and I are not happy about the decision. Now we need to decide if we try arbitration or if we just fix everything at our own expense. What a hassle!
Moving on to happier topics . . . at my speech appointment yesterday Susan said that I was back to the point where I was before I "fell off the exercise wagon." This is good news because my voice was doing really well and it is now back to that level! YEAH! That is good news for me. Susan made sure that I understood how important exercises and massage are in maintaining the progress I have made. Believe me - I know! I know!
Voice Update: Well, I pretty much said it all in the post. I am doing well. Praise God!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I took pictures of my teachers to show Mom and here is my Deaf Culture teacher, Kelly (on the left) and my friend Beth (on the right) signing "I love you, Mom!"
Quickly changing gears . . . here is a visitor to my birdfeeder. He stayed around for a long time just sitting and swinging while all puffed up against the grey, ugly day. Redwinged Blackbirds are frequent visitors to our feeders but this one if the first I have seen for a long time.
Maybe Spring will really show up today!
Voice Update: Still doing really well. Of course, I am going to Speech today so I can give you the full update from the professional tomorrow. I HAVE been doing my massage and exercises!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
My walk today was a revelation of the start of spring in my area. First, the temperature was in the low 50s which meant that I didn't have to "suit up" to venture outside. Instead, I was clad in a turtleneck and sweatshirt along with my walking jeans. No coat. No gloves. No scarf. No earmuffs! It felt freeing to not have layer upon layer padding my body.
The wind was blowing softly as I set out and felt like a welcoming gesture upon my skin. The breeze perfectly accented the music my iPod was providing as my soundtrack for the morning. Beautiful.
Walking onwards I stopped often to appreciate the newly opened faces of golden daffodils nodding in the breeze. Among the new buds were also hopeful young sprouts of indeterminate variety just emerging from the dormant earth.
A sprouting sprig of Forsythia was next to stop me in my tracks. One lone sprig on the shrub was budding with vibrant yellow flowers and pale green leaves. The tiny blossoms held the hope that the rest of the shrub would soon awaken to the gentle spring and burst forth in joyous color.
A dash of red in a budding tree caught my eye and caused me to pause to savor the Cardinal's sweet song. My heart swelled with joy as I glimpsed a female Cardinal flying to join the stunning male on his swaying stage.
Not much further along the way several trees were showing vibrant green buds just opening out of the dark winter shells protecting them from ice and frosty gusts. The buds looks like natural fireworks bursting forth in a gray sky to brighten the mood.
Smiling, I sniffed the air as I headed towards home. Spring. I could just detect a hint of Spring.
Returning home I dug out a pack of Bluebonnet seeds and sowed them around the base of a tree out front. Maybe they will take hold, root, and grow. Maybe they will only serve as food for hungry birds. Either way, I am satisfied.
Voice Update: I got back to massaging my neck yesterday. I am really beginning to enjoy seeing the looks on faces as I sit massaging away at stop lights. It is really comical sometimes! Yesterday a woman even touched her own throat as if to see what I was doing. Fun! My voice is doing very well. I am happy.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Happy Presidents' Day!
Hubby, being a government working, is home today and let me tell you - it is throwing my schedule off! I did get myself out of bed this morning (with some help from two hungry kitties) and out walking. What a good thing walking is. There is nothing quite like a brisk walk in the morning - watching the birds and the people. Hearing all the morning sounds. Looking at all the landscaping. Feeling alive!
Speaking of feeling alive . . .
In the March issue of Reader's Digest (don't get me started on why magazines come out ahead of the month they are designed for!), there is a nice little page on which Jim Lehrer, anchorman of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS, tells what he is listening to, watching, reading, etc.
Normally, I enjoy this kind of page. I feel like I am getting some kind of special insight into a celebrity's life. I also like to get hints about books, movies, and music I might not know about.
Jim Lehrer's page though gave me quite a shock. He is quoted under the "What He's Listening To" section as saying this "I'm always amazed when people say they have 3,000 songs on their iPod. I'll think, Why? I appreciate classical music, but it's not a big part of my life."
That just stopped me in my tracks!
It is difficult for me to imagine that someone, who is not Deaf, doesn't have music as an important part of their life! Music is such an integral and vital part of my life that I can no more imagine a life without music than a life without breathing! In the mornings, I wake up with a song in my head. During my drives to school I cherish the variety of music available on XM radio. Flipping between Country, Classical, Broadway tunes, 50s music, Elvis, Classic Rock, and Jazz makes my drive interesting. As I drive I can marvel at the minds of the composers and the musicians who create such beautiful music (or sometimes such horrible music!).
Sure, there are times when I choose not to listen to music. Sometimes I need the quiet. Sometimes the house is so loud with the dishwasher, the tv, etc. that music would just intrude. In an odd way, all of the background noise is a different kind of music to me. I can find music in the rhythms of car tires on the highway, tools at a construction site, birds chirping at the feeder. The wind creates music as it whistles through the leaves and plays with the flag on our flagpole.
Music isn't that important in Jim Lehrer's life. How sad!
Voice Update: I slacked off on the massage and exercise yesterday. Probably because I was sleeping a good portion of the day in an effort to stave off further stomach "issues." I haven't talked much today but, my voice is still here. As for the quality . . . I have no clue yet! Back to the massage! I have speech this week!
Sunday, February 15, 2009
This is just a short post to tell you to be careful! Today I logged on and found that I had six comments from people I had never heard of. This isn't exactly unusual but they seemed a bit fishy. When I checked them out - they were SPAM! That is right! I got spammed on my blog!
Luckily, I review all my comments before they get published but I did decide to take off the code to post thing. Maybe I need to put it back on?
I am just wondering why in the world they would choose MY blog to SPAM? Weird,huh?
Just a word to the wise - check your comments to make sure you aren't getting SPAMmed too. What is the world coming to?
Voice Update: I just woke up and haven't had time to figure out how my voice is doing but . .. so far, so good!
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Yes, friends, THIS is what happens!
Actually, the cut isn't that much shorter than I have been getting for a while but the front, the little spiky bangs are much shorter - necessitated by my stunning lack of forehead! Also- keep in mind that I took this picture after taking a nap so the back is a bit weird (you can see a little funkiness happening right over my ear in the picture).
I should tell you that Hubby doesn't like the cut. He says it is too short. Personally, I am a bit on the fence. True, the cut is short but, my hair grows extremely fast and I know that within a week, it will be grown out quite a bit. That is why I get it cut short - it is a blatant attempt to stay away from the salon for at least six weeks.
Also - the picture is a self portrait and . .. well, I am just not that good at the whole taking a picture of myself thing. Rats!
In other news . . . have you seen the Geico ads with the money that looks at people? It sort of freaks me out while leaving me a bit bewildered. There is something that just isn't right about those commercials! They also make me wonder how much an advertising company is getting paid for putting little googly eyes on money. Were the advertising people a bit slap-happy one day and were messing around with their kids' toys when they came up with this idea?
Did I mention that Skor actually tried to eat my opal earring the other morning? For a while now, he has had a habit of pulling on my earrings while I sleep (yes, I sleep in my earrings because for some odd reason, the holes close up really quickly - even after 27 years - and by morning would be painful to insert earrings into). Skor particularly enjoys my diamond stud and my opal.
If I am not able to quickly cover my earrings, Skor gets a grip on them with his teeth an tugs. Not a pleasant experience for me! Well, the other morning I wasn't fast enough and Skor latched onto my opal. He tugged just hard enough and actually got the earring out of my ear!
Luckily, the back was still hanging around and Skor decided to spit out the opal rather than swallowing it. However, I still had to sterilize the thing before I put it back in my ear.
Voice Update: My throat is getting less crunchy with massage! YEAH! My voice isn't too bad - only the occasional skip when repeating or talking on the phone - both stressful things for a person with SD. I am planning on writing emails to both Oprah and Ellen telling them about SD and the upcoming World Voice Day. Maybe they will do something on their shows and help spread the word!
Friday, February 13, 2009
This morning I had the "pleasure" of waking up with a big pouf of hair on my face. Since this isn't that unusual for my house, I casually brushed the pouf off and rolled over . . . into another big hair ball! Again . .. a casual sweep of my pillow and a roll to the other side. Only to be greeted by a nose full of kitty whiskers (they ARE hair, right?)!
Please don't think that my house is dirty - it isn't. Hubby sweeps every room pretty much daily in his never ending quest to conquer the hair. I dust and lint brush and clean as well. In fact, I think we spend more money on those little sticky lint rollers. We buy them in bulk from Sam's Club and go through about ten to twenty sheets a day!
No - our house isn't dirty. It is just . . . hairy! I guess having two medium to long hair cats is part of the reason. Well, MOST of the reason. Okay - pretty much ALL of the reason! The stray human hair gets into the mix once in a while but the tufts of white and brown fur are the basis of the problem.
Before anyone tells me I am complaining . . . I am NOT complaining. I fully understand that I chose this lifestyle by having cats. This blog is merely an observation of the results of that choice. I love my cats and don't regret getting them . . . most of the time. There are moments when I wish they would be transported to Mars but, in general, I am glad that they are around.
Back to the hair.
In addition to the regular amounts of cat hair that we deal with, Skor has decided to add another entry into the mix. He enjoys pulling hair from his fuzzy mouse and from the tail of his fuzzy rabbit. He can sit for literally an hour and methodically pull hair from these defenseless critters. The hair is left in pouffy piles around the house.
It is very obvious that this is NOT cat hair. The mouse is a weird beige-orange shade and the rabbit is a bright orange! While it is apparent that Skor enjoys this "de-hairing" both Hubby and I are mystified as to just why. Those two critters are Skor's favorite toys and you would think that by pulling the hair out of them, he would understand that he is ruining them. Of course . . . he IS a cat!
The little poufs on my face and pillow this morning were courtesy of the fuzzy mouse. Apparently, Skor was waiting patiently for me to get up and while he was waiting he was denuding the poor mouse's tail!
All of the hair is something that I generally take in stride but lately . . . I am getting a bit freaked by never having a single piece of clothing without at least one cat hair on it! Doing laundry is like preparing hides for processing . . . first get all the hair off the item . . . Not too much fun! There is even hair floating in the air inside my car. Now, the cats are never in my car unless they are in a carrier and you would think that the carrier would impeded the hair floating ability. Wrong! In fact, the hair stays hidden for weeks and then innocently floats by your face while you are driving. How nice!
Part of the hair issue, I must admit, is probably me as well. I am getting my hair cut this afternoon and I CAN'T WAIT! My hair has been driving me crazy. Which is probably why I am so fixated on hair.
Voice Update: The crunchiness is much less! I was massaging my little heart out on the way to classes yesterday and the crunchiness diminished! YEAH! Of course, now I need to keep massaging to keep the crunchiness at bay! My voice is doing pretty well. I am having some problems with having to repeat myself but, that is "normal" for me so . . . it is just life!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
What were you thinking when you started writing (or reading) blogs? Did you want to change the world? Did you want to write literary masterpieces? Did you want to find the answer to all the problems in the world
A conversation I had recently with a woman I will call "Goetta Girl" started me thinking about blogs and their purposes. GG told me that she had started a blog but hadn't updated it in a long time because she wasn't an expert on anything. She couldn't blog because she wasn't an expert! Huh? I blog all the time, practically every day, and I certainly am NOT an expert on much, if anything.
Do you have to be an expert to blog? Do people who read your blog actually think you are an expert? If you do and they do . . . I am in BIG trouble around here!
My blog began as a way for me to express myself at a time when I quite literally couldn't do it in any other way. My voice wasn't very audible even though I was beginning to get a "real" voice again. Talking on the phone wasn't really an option because SD had robbed me of volume and most people didn't have the patience to actually listen to what I was saying so they could hear me.
There was never an intent to be an expert on my blog even though I did intend to spread information about Spasmodic Dysphonia to different people. I only write about what I know in my life and experiences. I write to express myself, to feel validated as a member of the communicating world, to vent. Basically, I just write to write.
As for reading blogs . . . I don't choose the blogs I read regularly because of their expert opinions or their literary quality - even though there are some blogs which show both characteristics frequently - I choose them because I like them. For some reason, I just plain like the blog. There is a connection there somewhere. There is enjoyment.
Why do you read and/or write blogs? I am curious!
Voice Update: Still have that crunchy thing going on. It normally won't go away until Susan gets working on my neck and reaches those spots I just can't reach. So - until next Wednesday, I guess I will be crunchy! Massage and exercise. Massage and exercise! Massage and exercise!!!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Thank you all for your good wishes. I am feeling much better today after a good night's sleep only interrupted by two annoying kitties. Hubby just trotted out the door to have blood drawn for his doctor's appointment next week, the kitties are fed, I have a nice glass of orange juice on the desk and I am ready to blog!
After a long weekend of waiting, I FINALLY got my presentation for ASL 3 done. In fact, despite feeling rather bad, I volunteered to go first! A few times I was corrected by the teacher but he does it so nicely - compared to last semester's teacher - that I don't mind his corrections at all. About halfway through my presentation, my teacher's evaluator came into the room with an interpreter. It is very, very weird to be signing and have someone in the room voicing, albeit in a whisper, what you are signing. Strange! At least I didn't have any embarrassing topics to sign about. One poor woman had to sign about the prevention of AIDS and condoms and sex. She was NOT comfortable doing that with the evaluator in the room!
Anyway, I think that I did pretty well. Some of the other students said that I sign fast but I couldn't get them to tell me if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Oh well. The teacher, Henry (who is also the head of the ASL department, by the way) had a few things to correct at the end of the presentation but over-all I am relieved. The only bad thing is that because this was out first presentation, Henry said he would give everyone an a. So- how am I supposed to know how I did? At least now I won't be so nervous about presenting in front of the class and Henry!
In addition to the presentation, I also turned in a video of myself signing a magazine article. My article was about the increase in the population of wild turkeys (really!) and how they are starting to cause problems by entering suburban areas. These turkeys are huge - they can stand 4 feet tall - and can be very dangerous since they can peck and get you with their feet as well. In fact, one family has a hole in their door (a small one) where turkeys have pecked their way through!
Now, I HATE videoing myself but it is a requirement for fingerspelling class. I turned in the turkey article and got back the first video I turned in - twenty sentences with numbers and fingerspellings. Worth a total of twenty points, I got a nineteen. Not too bad! It seemed like a lot of work for only twenty points but who am I to quibble?
The college bookstore FINALLY got the last two books I needed in stock! I bought them for a ridiculously high price but by now I was willing to pay almost anything to get the darn things! Now I can do my homework! YEAH!
Last night Hubby bought a chicken and sides from Boston Market for dinner and had it waiting for me when I got home. If you haven't tried "the Market," you should. The chicken was moist and flavorful and the sides . .. well, you can never go wrong with mashed potatoes in my book. Besides, Hubby and I met at "the Market!"
It was a pretty good day despite the whole stomach issue. Of course, we did have a tense moment or two when it looked like a tornado might be headed out way. Hubby and I gathered the kitties and took shelter in our closet under the stairs for about half an hour. While not the most fun thing I have ever done it did give me a chance to play with the crank powered radio! We also formulated a better plan on just how to get kitties into the closet if and when we ever need to take shelter again.
Luckily, the tornado, if there was one, didn't come into our area and we only got some torrential rain and strong winds out of the whole thing. I know some people in southern Oklahoma got hit with tornadoes as well as some people in other parts of Texas. I hope they are doing well today.
Voice Update: My throat is a bit "crunch" again and that is never a good sign but I persist with the massage so hopefully, that will help. My voice is good with hardly any pauses or misses. I did have some problems in Deaf Culture class when everyone was talking in groups and a member of my group needed me to repeat something. Darn!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Well, my stomach is still on the rampage so I will be making this a short post today. I just got off the phone with my mother and she is full of ideas about just why my stomach is giving me problems. All I know is that it isn't fun. At all!
I hope all of you are feeling better at the moment than I am!
Voice Update: Surprisingly, my voice is doing well despite my feeling totally icky!
Monday, February 9, 2009
Luckily, I was awake at about two in the morning when Hubby turned over and said "What's that sound?"
Since I had been awake for a while, I knew exactly what the sound was even though it has been a LOOOOONG time since it has been heard in this part of the world. The sound, my friends, was rain. Yes, rain.
Rain was thumping on the roof and rattling down the downspouts. When the wind shifted it pelted the window panes with tiny tinkles of sound. It was a symphony of watery sound.
It is understandable that Hubby was woken by the sound. It has been several weeks, or maybe even months since we have had rain. Each time the weather man tantalizes us with the possibility of rain, it misses us or manifests as a barely-there mist. This time, however, it was real rain. The kind that soaks you to the skin in less than a minute if you venture out to pick up the paper in its protective plastic bag.
Normally, I would tell you how much rain we have actually gotten to this point but, as I said during my date night, our rain gauge is broken and we can't find another.
Noble Pig - a rain gauge is just a hollow tube with inch measurements on the outside which catches rain. By noting how high the rain is in the tube you can tell how much rain you have gotten.
Our trusty rain gauge, which we have had for about ten years, finally gave up the ghost and cracked during out recent ice storm. Since Hubby is the kind of man who enjoys the weather station I gave him for his birthday several years ago, he also likes knowing exactly how much rain we have gotten. The online search for a rain gauge is on!
In other exciting news . . . my stomach is conspiring against my plans for this week to be the week when I am finally feeling back in control of my life. It all started late in the evening of my "date night" with hubby. Cramping and the feeling that everything in my body was becoming liquid before making a rather hasty exit. Nice, huh? I thought so too.
When I woke up on Sunday I felt better. Until I actually ate. Then . . . the cramping and liquefying began anew. Imagine the fun I had! Well, to increase my enjoyment of the whole experience, I also got the upgrade to "waking up multiple times during the night to visit the bathroom." Something that is soooooo "special!"
Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep last night. Between the rain, the bathroom visits, and unusually restless cats (both decided to walk up and down my body pretty much all night long), I was able to log in about four hours of actual sleep. Goodness. This week is certainly beginning well, don't you think?
When I told Hubby I was still feeling rather "punky" this morning he responded with "It must have been something you ate." Gee - you think?
Voice Update: Massaging away the day . . . that is the name of the game if you want good voice.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Even thought I am busy as a beaver reading books for my classes which are . . . shall we say, less than enjoyable, I have managed to read a few for my own pleasure. So, hang onto your hats and . . . away we go!
The first book is another of Grandma's Goodies - The Dreamers by Vera Caspary.
This book is . . .okay. It was good enough to keep me reading but not good enough to make me not want to put it down. The story is that there are three daughters of a "poorish" family. Their father dies and they are left with their rather puritanical mother. The oldest is a bookish woman who isn't that pretty. Next comes the self-centered beauty who need constant adoration to feel complete. Finally is the baby, a strong willed woman who becomes and artist and lives a rather bohemian life.
The oldest teaches school and remains at home to help their mother. She contributes to the household finances even when the Great Depression hits and the school can no longer afford to pay her salary. The middle daughter marries a man whom she believes will "take her away" from her old life. Unfortunately for her, she finds herself caught in a bad marriage. She has an affair which eventually causes a divorce and a remarriage. The youngest moves into an artists loft where she has an "illicit" affair with a married man.
All three daughters continually search for their own identities during the course of the book.
This book is . . . interesting. However, I don't believe I would run out to the book store this minute to look for it. If it happens to fall into your hands . . .fine. If not, no big loss!
Next is Always the Bridesmaid By Sarah Webb.
Set in Ireland, the main character is a 29 year old woman who has recently broken her engagement to "the perfect man." (Please forgive me but I don't remember her name and have given the book to a charity book sale!) She has moved back home to live with her parents and to lick her wounds.
Enter her younger sister who returns from Australia with a handsome fiance. The knife twists as the younger sister plans her wedding and asks her older sister, the main character, to be her bridesmaid. The knife twists again with mc's (main character's) best friend gets engaged. Again, MC is asked to be a bridesmaid.
During all of the wedding planning, MC's ex-fiance becomes involved with her other best friend. MC finds out when going to her friend's house for a surprise visit and learns the man has spent the night!
MC's only refuge is her job at a quirky, local bookstore. While working she meets a handsome, rich, young author who appears interested in her. Many unexpected twists and turns occur in the course of the book ending with an ending that will leave you smiling.
This is a good "chic " book and, as the cover says, would be perfect to take on vacation for a beach read.
Finally is Fireside by Susan Wiggs.
Hubby had no end of fun making fun of the author's last name. I am so glad that he gets some enjoyment out of my reading!
Apparently, this is a book which continues a story about a small town called Aurora. I have never read any of Susan Wigg's books so I really have no clue.
In this book, a woman arrives in the small town dressed in a badly wrinkled evening gown and high heels with dark glasses hiding her eyes. At the airport, a handsome man helps her get her heels unstuck from the moving walkway despite her very, very apparent dislike of him. The two part ways only to find themselves flung together by fate.
The man is at the airport to meet his twelve year old son, whom he has never met. His son, AJ is coming to stay with his unknown father because his mother has been caught in an immigration "sting" in Texas, their home state. A battle to keep his mother from being deported continues throughout the book even though everyone who knows the woman is sure that she was born in the United States.
While waiting for the immigration mess to be cleared up, the man and AJ move into an oddly painted boarding house in town which just happens to be run by the airport woman's mother. Doesn't this sound like a fun twist to the story?
This is a fun book and I would say it would be perfect as a vacation or fireside read for anyone who likes to read "light" literature.
Well, there they are folks! My most recent "non-class" reads. As I type this they are on their way (thanks to Hubby) to a local book sale to benefit an education foundation. Since I will no doubt be shopping at the sale, I feel like I should contribute to their stock. If anyone is in the area of Carrollton, Texas during the time of February 26 to March 1 - stop by the sale. All books are $1 with hardbacks at $2. The inventory is absolutely enormous with the sale filling an empty Old Navy store to the brim. Let me know if you want more info!
Voice Update: I am still doing well. I am getting back on the massage boat, so to speak. Yesterday at DI training I only had some missing unspoken consonants during the last part of the training so . . . not too bad!
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Sorry that I am late posting this but . .. I was DIing this morning. Remember Destination Imagination? It is the problem solving program for kids and I am in charge of a part of the tournament. Today was a training for the adults who are going to be judging or appraising (which is what it is called in DI) at the tournament.
Anyway - I had training today from 8:00 until about noon. It was actually sort of fun despite the early hour and the lack of sleep (thank you so much, kitties!) the night before. When I got home I took a nap and then woke up and went on a DATE with hubby!
Yes, you read that right! Hubby took me out for a date! What does that mean? Well, we went to the Irish Rover Pub for dinner (Hubby had the fish and chips and I had a steak and mushroom pie- both were yummy) and then . . . hold your breath! Then he took me to Home Depot in search for a new rain gauge. After our shopping trip - which was fruitless because Home Depot has stopped carrying rain gauges! A hardware store which doesn't have rain gauges!- after that Hubby took me to Wendy's for a Frosty - yummy, yummy!
Now we are at home and I am checking email and doing a quick blog before we watch a movie together. What a sweetie Hubby is!
Voice Update: Still doing really well. Unfortunately, I didn't do much massage today because I was either in training or sleeping. Rats! Back to work tomorrow!
Friday, February 6, 2009
Remember all the hassle my procrastination caused me? I rushed around like a crazy person and worked and reworked my paper and my Powerpoint. I sweated over my AOL Gloss paper making sure that I had the right number of each specific kind of sign. Forgoing lunch, I headed to the lab early to practice my presentation and to learn the signs I didn't know.
While not feeling really prepared, I was resigned to the fact that I was as prepared as I was going to be. Class came and I sat at my desk nervously only comforted slightly by the fact that I knew every other person in class was just as nervous. After the professor told us how he would evaluate our presentations and all of that vital information, the presentations started.
Only THREE students gave their presentations before the end of class. THREE! I was not one of the THREE! Now I have to wait until Tuesday! I have MORE time to sweat and stew and refine and tinker. Great!
Today I am going to attempt to show you some sign language using the movie function on my camera. I don't know how this is going to work yet so . .. be patient and please, please, please, ignore the fact that I have no make-up on! I will give you a transcript of what I sign so you know what is going on.
Transcript: Hi! My name is Trisha. I live in Texas. I took up ASL because I have a voice problem called Spasmodic Dysphonia. It isn't bad. It doesn't hurt at all. ASL interests me. I learn a lot about Deaf culture and I meet nice Deaf people. If you are interested in ASL, you should take up ASL classes. Ok. Bye!
Now wasn't that a hideous video of me? Oh well! Enjoy!
Voice Update: Still truckin' right along. I am still doing my massage in the car despite the odd looks I get from people. Last night, in Deaf Culture class, I remembered to turn my body towards the movie screen while we watched a video. If I only turn my neck, I usually end up with a stiff neck that complicated everything! The joys of SD!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Well, today is the day my presentation is due in class and so I am working like a busy little beaver. What? Oh . . . I guess because I am blogging right now I am not exactly working at the moment. Let me restate. . .
Well, today is the day my presentation is due in class and so I have been working like a busy little beaver. Is that better? Okay!
Did I mention that I have been busy? First, I researched my topic (The Pros and Cons of Easy Access to Information and Communication). There is a LOT of stuff on the Internet that is almost,but not quite, what I wanted. Having to narrow things down was quite a challenge! Next, I wrote my paper. This wasn't too hard because I have been doing papers for classes for years and years! This one included footnotes and references. Fun! Then, I worked on my PowerPoint keeping it succinct and making sure that I didn't overload people with the content. After that, I started planning what I would actually say during the presentation. Since the teacher wants us to basically say the same thing as our paper . . . I went back and forth to get everything in the presentation. While doing the presentation part I had to be aware of requirements to include - this was the frustrating part of the whole thing!
You see - in ASL classes, they teach you various things and then expect you to include them in your next presentation even if your topic isn't conducive to using those particular things! Hence the struggle. However, I believe that I finally, after much angst, got everything included. I hope.
Today I need to get to the ASL lab early so I have plenty of time to have someone work with me to refine my presentation. I don't know all of the signs I need! Yikes! I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS TODAY!!!!!!
Voice Update: Still on track with the massage. My throat has been really dry lately making talking a bit difficult.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Yesterday, I wrote about procrastination. Of course, writing the blog on procrastination was my way of putting off working on a paper, PowerPoint, and presentation for my ASL 3 class. Nice, huh?
Yesterday, I got myself working and, instead of reading blogs (which explains any lack of comments), I wrote my paper and completed my PowerPoint. Nothing too exciting but I certainly felt a little less pressure because two thirds of the whole thing were completed. The process of the work was so absorbing that by the time I surfaced enough to check the time at the bottom of my computer screen, I had just enough time to shower, change, scarf down some lunch, and make it to class in the nick of time.
In actuality, I was just in the nick of time to get some lab hours in before class. Lab hours are problematic this week due to my lunch with M on Monday and the need to wait for the plumbers today. Two prime lab hour amassing days down the drain! Of course, I will still head to the lab on Friday and will probably get several hours then.
Okay - back to class. Remember how I have the paper and PowerPoint done. Well, in class we were presented with some things we need to include in our projects. We were also given some more guidelines. Great timing, huh? So now I need to revise what I have done to fit the guidelines and to include the material presented in class.
Here is the weird thing - I am oddly motivated to get to work! My fingers are itching to edit that paper and PowerPoint and I am already thinking in ASL Gloss (the system used to write an English translation of ASL) about what my presentation will be like. I want to get busy!
And yet . . . I don't!
Voice Update: Still doing well. Massage was the topic of choice yesterday in the front of my mind. During a movie in class (which WAS very interesting) I did some massage. The stop lights along the way all were massage breaks. The woman in the SUV next to me during one massage break was obviously fascinated with what I was doing - she missed the green light for the turn lane and got honked at!
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Ever since I can remember, I have been plagued with the propensity to procrastinate (and to alliterate!). Being very "head strong (stubborn?? No way!)" I found that procrastination put me in control of things I didn't want to do.
The teacher wants me to write a boring report of mythology? I don't want to do it so . . . put it off until the last possible minute and then cram to get it done.
Somehow, the teacher never figured out that it was done hastily. I had gotten away with it so I continued to practice procrastination. Or course, I totally understood that procrastination wasn't a good thing. I don't particularly like the pressure of knowing something is coming up and that I might not have time to finish my project properly. Much of the pressure came from the expectations others had for my performance. I was expected to do great things - creative, interesting, unique.
It is a lot of pressure to have people expect that kind of thing from you! The dislike of the pressure and the fear that I wouldn't live up to the expectations pushed me deeper into the world of procrastination. If I don't have to think about it . . . I don't have to worry about it. Right?
Wrong. Sort of. I am able to forget about projects for short periods of time but then they start to creep into the edges of my thoughts. They invade my dreams and wake me in the night. Then they decline to allow me to drift off to sleep again and keep me up, tossing and turning, while details of the project run endlessly through my head.
Currently, I am in full procrastination mode about a paper and presentation I need to finish for my ASL 3 class on Thursday. I am nervous about the presentation so I have put it off. Now that the time is running out and I am faced with limited time to both create and practice the presentation . . . I am feeling pressured!
I should tell you that as I have matured I have become much better with procrastination. Normally, I do things ahead of time now - even things I would rather not do at all. I have learned that procrastination - and the sleepless nights that come with it - isn't exactly my favorite past time. Take my classes - I am ahead in every single class and on every single project - except this one.
And what am I currently doing? Procrastinating by blogging, of course!
Voice Update: Not too much to say - things are still going well. I am going to have to cancel my speech session for this week so I can stay home for the plumbers. Hubby said he would take another day off of work but he has already taken a bunch lately so . . . I am biting the bullet and taking one for the team!
Monday, February 2, 2009
Well, the weekend is over and a new week has begun! I have FINALLY gotten myself back into my routine of walking and weights (day one today!) and I feel like I am getting back in control after last week with its water heater and phone issues.
Of course, I am not totally in control yet - the water heater isn't working quite right. We get nice, hot water at the beginning of the shower and then, after a minute, the water cools and you need to turn the hot water up. A minute later, the new hot water cools and you have to turn it up again. You keep doing this for the entire shower until the knob is turned as far as it can go.
For someone who likes hot showers, this is just not right!
The plumbers are coming back on Wednesday which means that I will be stuck here at home all day waiting for them. Fun, fun!
Our phone got fixed on Saturday. Apparently, the problem was that while the plumbers were working on the water heater they had bumped or moved or jostled something which caused the phone to "short" out. Nice, huh?
My parents are getting DSL. They have been living with dial-up internet and getting more and more frustrated with how slow the internet was for them. Normally, I talk to my mother each morning (except Sunday which is our day off) on Instant Message. Today, no Mom! I wonder if they are having problems with their DSL. I know that last night, when I called them to let them know that we had a phone again, they were having someone come out today to see what was going on. They had the "easy to install yourself" box which, as it turned out, wasn't so easy. Dad followed the directions and even called the support line for their help without any success.
Mom says that they are trying to compete with us for frustrating things going wrong. I don't know - I still think we win with the water heater AND the phone!
Today I am meeting my friend M for lunch at the mall. We meet once a month and today is the day. I am looking forward to a nice visit!
If you don't read my comments, check out Scott Adam's comment on Saturday's post. He is the creator of the Dilbert comic strip and also has SD. He recently had surgery for SD and is doing well. I don't know a whole lot about this surgery but I do know that it is only used for people who have the adductor type of SD - which, of course, I DON'T have!
Thanks for the comment, Scott!
Voice Update: Still working the massage and exercise. The voice is doing okay but I am still having issues with drainage, sneezing, and coughing. Not too fun!