I may chat about my books, what I'm writing or reading, or just general thoughts. You may read posts about my cats or just my crazy life in general. Comments are welcome, if anyone wants to interact with me. Maybe we can share war stories, whether it's writing related or just about life in general.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

My Cataract Surgery Experience

I thought I’d share with all of you my experience with this because there’s a good chance many of you may need to have this surgery in the future.  Supposedly one of every ten surgeries performed in the USA daily is cataract surgery, so it’s common and routine.

However, this is still scary when you think of the prospect of a doctor cutting on your eyeball.  And of course there are a ton of disclaimers, as with anything.  They have to tell you everything that can go wrong because you have to agree to the surgery beforehand.

 There were charts like this in the doctor's office
So cataract surgery is what’s been going on with me during the month of July this year.  I scheduled most of my posts ahead because I didn’t know when I’d be able to get on the computer after the surgery.  They did the first eye on the eleventh and the second on the eighteenth.  Needless to say, the second eye wasn’t as traumatic as the first one.  But it was two totally different experiences.  I don’t know what the reason for that was – a different eye with a different lens implant, a different surgical team, or what?  I had the same doctor for both surgeries.

Both times I was in the operating room for about thirty minutes while they used ultra sound waves to remove the cataracts so they could implant the new lens.  They like to do the dominating eye first because supposedly one can get used to everything quicker and easier.  I’m still not used to it, but that’s another story.  I know it’ll take time, just like getting used to my trifocal glasses I had to get two and a half years ago.  Those glasses took me about two months to get used to.  Luckily I didn’t break my neck on the stairs in the process.

I decided on monovision after I got over the shock of how weird it sounded to make one eye far distance and the other near distance.  Some co-workers and one of my sisters said they loved theirs.  I felt more comfortable with the idea after talking to them.  So my far distance eye was first in the operating room.

After changing into a hospital gown, having an IV put in my arm for the sedative and being dowsed about six times in the eye with a numbing and dilating eye drop I was ready.  I had already been there two hours at this point.

 I received a nice tote bag advertising the place
I’m not sure what they hold your eye open with, but it felt like sticky tape to me.  They drape your whole upper body in a lightweight cloth and tell you to relax while they tie you down to a tiny stainless steel table.  They even strap your head in and tell you not to move, BUT they said I can shut the other eye, or blink, etc.  Naturally, I was stiff as a board and couldn’t relax at all.  I was afraid I’d move even blinking my other eye so I waited until I had to blink after it was burning and watering.  The only thing I could see was through a small hole that exposes the eye to be operated on.  But soon they shine a bright light in your eye and tell you to pick out a dot to focus on and stare at it the whole time.  Well there were three dots and they looked like marshmallows to me.

I stared at those as they moved all around and turned color after color as they morphed into different shapes and sizes.  It was like a psychedelic light show with all the colors of the rainbow and then more.  The only thing I remember beyond that was the blood pressure cuff going on and off as it squeezed my arm about every five minutes.  I made add that you are sedated but not unconscious so they can talk to you if they need to.

They helped me to sit up and transfer to my other bed as soon as the surgery was over.  I was a bit woozy and everything was blurry.  Then they wheeled my bed down the hallway and into recovery.  The doctor came in and said all went well and things would still be blurry when I went to my follow up appointment the next day.

I couldn’t eat all day except for the clear liquid diet you have to follow when you go in for a colonoscopy.  It was 7 PM once we left the surgical center, so hubby stopped at Subway on the way home and we got sandwiches to go.  I stayed in the car because I couldn’t see anything anyway.

 This is the awful patch, hard plastic, not comfortable and way too big
I had to sleep on three pillows for the first three nights and wear that awful patch, so I got little sleep.  It kept coming off so I’d have to get up in the night to tape it back on.  When I got up the next morning my eye was very blurry, but I did notice how white the walls were and the sinks in the bathroom too.  Everything was so blinding bright that I actually wore sunglasses in the house for the first two days.  My eye gradually cleared and was doing pretty well when it was time to go in for eye number two.

Preparing the patch

The second eye was my near vision lens and it was a very different experience.  First of all, the pre-op nurse was a different gal.  “Linda” from Tennessee did much better with starting my IV.  She didn’t even a leave a bruise.  I still had a nasty looking bruise on my right hand from the first surgery and the other pre-op nurse “Terri,” who was to be my doctor’s assistant in the surgery this time.

 These are my deluxe sunglasses
I still had to lie there watching TV with sunglasses on while my eyes got numbed and dilated but “Linda” only gave me about three doses of the drops.  I didn’t think that was enough so I asked for more in pre-op and again in the surgery.

I was finally taken back there where they hooked me up to a heart monitor, like before, and put the blood pressure cuff on, etc.  They taped my eye open again, but this time I felt like it wanted to close all during the procedure.  I don’t think the nurse got the apparatus on exactly right, or perhaps tight enough.  The doctor kept telling me to look up, look down, look toward him, etc.  The vision I was seeing this time had little color and was more like cracked eggshells or a shattered mirror or sheet of glass with lots of tiny irregular cracks running everywhere.  The background color was pale with an occasional burst of brighter color.

After surgery this eye was blurry too but wasn’t as bad as the first time because I had the good eye that was clear.  The next day it was still blurry and it still is almost two weeks later.  It’s not changing as fast as the first eye.  But I have noticed that the paper is clearer over the last couple of days and the far-sighted eye seems to be blurry when looking close up.  Both eyes previously have been trying to do the same thing – see close up and also far away and it makes them both seem blurry at times.  I’m hoping this means my brain is adjusting itself to the new situation.

 The patch taped on for the night.  Be careful here unless you want to wax your eyebrows.
I go back on August 10th and he’ll tell me if I need glasses then.  I hope not because they are a huge pain in the butt.  They’re always dirty and having dry eye doesn’t help the situation of trying to keep my glasses clean.

All my eye drops

On top of all this, there are three eye drops to use daily in both eyes for a different number of days each, so I have a schedule with lots of boxes to check off so I can keep it all straight.  Having eye surgery isn’t a piece of cake, but I figure I can do anything for a month.  Sorry for the long post, but now you know what happens for cataract surgery.  More updates later.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Resourcefulness Comes in Handy

Usually women can always think of a solution if the situation calls for it.  We used to hear over and over again while growing up that “where there’s a will, there’s usually always a way.”  This is so true.  Now maybe that’s because we were raised on a farm and had to invent things to use for projects, or just plain everyday life, because we always had to work with what we had.  Sometimes that was very little.  We learned to use our heads at an early age.  Today my siblings and I are very good at figuring out how to make something work if we have to.

 My makeshift "hidden clothesline"
Today I was washing clothes and I didn’t want to use the dryer because things shrink and I’d rather not put some of my tank tops and shirts in there.  I usually hang them over the hanger ends all around my closet and turn the hangers after about four hours so the other side can dry after spinning them out in the washer, even when I wash them by hand.

My makeshift "hidden clothesline"
Well today I had to fool around with the washer because it was being contrary and not wanting to work half the time.  I finally got that going after unplugging the machine, switching the breaker off and on several times and just plain letting it sit for about forty-five minutes in between all these steps.  So needless to say that will be the next big expense around here probably.

 My makeshift "hidden clothesline"
Anyway, I decided it sure would be nice to have a clothesline outside but hubby doesn’t want to see lines out there strung across the backyard.  So I looked around and after I ruled out the tree branches due to the amount of birds in the trees, I spotted the perfect thing—the ceiling fans on the patio.  We have two of them out there and in the afternoons they’re not in the sun so that was perfect.  And on top of that I knew things would dry fast because it was 100 degrees in the shade.

 My makeshift "hidden clothesline"
I got out my ladder I use in the kitchen to reach my high cabinets and went to work hanging things from the fan blades.  This was perfect and everything was dry in thirty minutes.  I was pretty proud of myself for thinking of my “hidden clothesline.”  Of course, everything was down and hanging in the closet before hubby got home.  I think I’ll probably do this again.

So how resourceful are you?  Have you tried anything unconventional for an everyday problem or chore?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Can I still see the fun in life or am I crazy!

Maybe I’d have better judgment if I didn’t post this story, but some of you may think I’m crazy anyway so I guess we’ll see what the verdict is here.

I have a wild imagination and sometimes I get carried away with things and crazy stories pop into my head.  I also have crazy dreams that I could make stories out of.  Maybe something like that will be for another time.

A couple of months ago I was in a crazy mood and everything seemed funny.  That happens sometimes when my imagination takes over, or perhaps I haven’t had enough sleep.  My hubby wanted to go and exchange a new frying pan he bought for a different one so I went along and was in one of my giddy moods.  Something he said gave me thoughts of a frying pan running behind the car to catch up with us.  I started giggling as this story played out in my head.

 You'll have to picture this pan standing up with legs because I couldn't find one and didn't have time to manipulate it in Photoshop

Once I told him about it and kept adding onto my story he gave me a look that said perhaps he should be driving me to the nut hospital instead of the store.  “I don’t know where you come up with all this stuff,” he said.  The more he talked the more I laughed.  I just couldn’t get the picture out of my head of the frying pan chasing us down the street.

I’m even smiling as I write this.  I don’t know why I get such enjoyment out of such a crazy thought that could never happen except in my imagination.

Have any of you ever let your imagination run away like this?  It happens to me probably more than it should.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Amazing Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe Vera

I don’t know how many of you grow these, use them, or have even seen them.  These amazing plants grow wild in tropical climates.  They thrive on humidity, but they can also be grown indoors.  I’ve always had some around all my adult life except the last decade I’ve lived in the desert.  Now I wonder why I don’t have one growing indoors someplace as these have many beneficial uses.  I’m thinking it’s probably because my curious cats would be helping themselves and my plants would be wrecked in no time.

I had them all over when I lived in Texas years ago.  The older plants will grow new ones at the base that can easily be plucked out and potted to start a new plant.  They grow rather quickly too.  I even had a giant one inside when I lived in Alaska.  I was always using them for burns and things like that.  The liquid inside the spiny leaves have a soothing, healing gel.

Nature has provided us with so many things we can use everyday, yet most of us never even think about that.  I’m sure the Indians took advantage of all of nature’s gifts.

 Aloe Vera

As I said, the Aloe Vera can be grown indoors with little effort as it needs minimal care.  You need a large pot with good drainage as the aloe plant doesn’t like to sit in water.  It also needs some light so place it near a window.  The leaves should be plump and soft but not mushy or brittle.  Squeezing them is similar to pushing on a firm pillow as they have gel inside so do yield a bit under your touch.

Caring for an aloe is easy.  The thing you can do is over water, so be mindful that the soil dries out between watering.  The plant doesn’t need fertilizer.  It will grow upright and look perky, so if the leaves get droopy it probably needs more sun.  On the other hand, if the leaves turn brown it’s getting too much sun.  You may also need to rotate the plant to keep it in good shape as it will grow toward the sunlight.  The plant doesn’t like frost or snow.  If you live in those climates, it must be kept indoors if you want it to stay alive.  If the leaves become thin or limp, you’re probably not watering enough because the plant is using its own gel to keep itself hydrated.  However, usually over watering is more of an issue than under watering.

 Close up of the spines on the outside of the leaves

Few pests will attack the Aloe Vera plant, but it is subject to mealy bugs, scale and fungus.  I’ve never had a plant that had any issues with this stuff.  However, if this happens to you, the fungus is easy to control because if that shows up, you’re probably over watering.  But I think you’d know this already if the plant wasn’t a perky as a healthy plant.  Mealy bugs and scale, small tan or brown bugs, will suck the life from the aloe leaves.  If this happens a pesticide may need to be applied.  I’d take care to find a “friendly” one if you have this issue.

When you harvest leaves to use, do so from the bottom and take them off as close to the plant as possible, being careful not to disturb the roots or any “babies” at the base.  I have broken off the tip of a leaf to use for burns and the plant will heal itself at the end, but after awhile, if you keep doing this, your plant won’t look like a showpiece anymore.  Be careful of the spikes on the leaves as they can puncture you and/or your clothing.  Remember, the Aloe Vera is similar to a cactus, as it likes to dry out and it has spines, but is a succulent and is actually about 95 % water.

You’re interested in the gooey inside gel of the leaves for their medicinal properties.  Avoid the dark green outer leaf of the aloe as it contains a harsh laxative.

Looking inside the gel inside of an Aloe Vera leaf.

Today we see aloe based products in all the health food stores.  Not only is it good for skin irritations and burns, but it’s also digestible and can help with digestion and your immune system and is loaded with anti-oxidants.  Aloe will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, but it’s best to pick and use when it’s fresh.  Some people put it in smoothies because the gel is slightly bitter.  If you’re buying this to eat make sure to do your homework as to all the ingredients in the product before you eat it.

As a closing note, the Aloe Vera plant is used for medicinal properties in many countries.  Today we find Aloe Vera in makeup, moisturizers, lotions, soap, sunscreen, and shampoo, as well as many other products.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Gutsy and Elusive Mockingbird

Mockingbird at water pan

As I’ve told everyone before, we have lots of wildlife and birds here.  Well we have one gutsy mockingbird that’s taken to hanging out in the backyard everyday.  He loves to torment the other birds and the snakes that come by for a drink.  Maybe he’s just bored, or maybe this is what mockingbirds do. 

 The snake had enough and  is going back to the desert

This snake came to drink from the water pan on the patio a couple of weeks ago and this bird wouldn’t leave it alone.  He hopped and flew at the snake until it finally slithered away back to the desert.  I got a pic of the snake but, like the title says, this bird is also elusive.  I’ve been trying to get shots of him daily and most of it is a waste of time as far as photos go.  Watching him is a whole other matter.  I love his chirping and crazy maneuvers.

 Mockingbird at birdbath

This little guy is so pretty with his showy white tail feathers.  He gets in the birdbath too and goes to town splashing away.  I haven’t been able to get a pic of that yet either.  The thing is he doesn’t stay put for long in one place.


He torments the other birds too and is so much bigger that maybe he intimidates them when they come to the birdbath or the water dish.  I think this guy needs something to do besides flying from tree to tree and making the rounds of the nearby desert bushes.  I’m still trying for decent photos.  If I get any, I’ll post them later.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Got Ink?

I do know.  And this is about my experience with getting a tattoo, something I’ve wanted to do about fifty years now.  This was on my bucket list with a few other things that I’m not sure I’ll get to, but we’ll see as time goes on.

Now, getting a tattoo isn’t an awful experience for those of you who think it might be.  This wasn’t ever a fear for me, although I’m not that fond of needles.  My issue was obtaining approval, which wouldn’t have been needed if I’d done this year’s ago.  None of that is important now.

The finished tattoo.  I love it!

My new tattoo was my birthday present this year.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  It was painless and the guy I used is such an artist.  Much research went into the best place to go in town though.  I would recommend this place highly.

When hubby gave me the gift certificate I couldn’t believe my eyes!  I was ready to get out of the house and do it that day.  Perhaps I thought this opportunity would vanish if I didn’t act as soon as possible.  So I did go to the place and introduce myself and told them what I wanted.  They set the appointment for the next day.  I was so excited.

My neighbor went with me because she wanted to see it done and didn’t have anything else to do that day.  I had to lie on a massage type table on my stomach after the guy showed me the design he’d drawn up and we decided on colors.  He uses the color wheel so everything matches in complimentary hues.  Then of course placement as to where on my shoulder I wanted it was discussed.  My neighbor gave her input too, which I was thankful for.  After all, this was so important to me and was finally happening after all these years.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First (after my approval) they make a copy of the design on paper that actually transfers the artwork to your skin.  The paper is then peeled off and the image is there, as if it’s drawn on paper.  I guess this is similar to putting decals on a T-shirt.

 This is the decal the artist will follow
The tattoo artist then took fresh needles out and poured all the ink colors into tiny cups.  He washed his hands several times during the procedure and then gloved up again.  This is a very sanitary place, but they have to pass a health inspection, he told me.
The tattoo artist filling up the ink cups

 These are the cups ready to go
 Another shot of the ink with the needles above the tiny cups

Now this whole procedure took three hours to do from start to finish.  I almost fell asleep on the table, no kidding.  It felt like he was drawing on my skin as he inked in the design.  It took a long time to do the black.  The color was done with four-needles-in-one.  That part just felt like scratching as if you had an itch and you scratched it.  None of it hurt.  These needles are very tiny.

 Ben working on my tattoo
The worst part of the whole thing was getting a crick in my neck from lying there in one spot for three hours.  I also got a cramp in my leg so moved it around a bit and that went away.

 Drawing the outline came first
When the artwork was finished, I could get up and stretch.  He wrapped my shoulder in saran wrap and told me to leave that on for four or five hours.  I ended up leaving it on eight hours before I took it off and washed and doctored it.

Wrapped in saran wrap

A lot of black ink washes off on the first washing.  That’s the excess ink along with plasma that comes to the surface.  He said that was normal and it would take two-four weeks to completely heal.

As I’m writing this, I’m at the end of week two and it’s still peeling because a tattoo is similar to sunburn.  By the time you read this I’ll be at the end of week three.

Anyway, so much for my tattoo story.  I love it and have had it three weeks now and am following instructions that Ben gave me.  I have to wash it four times a day with anti-bacterial soap, air dry and then apply a thin layer of aquafor for four weeks.  Black ink did get on my pillow case the first week because of the aquafor and probably more excess plasma, but it washed right out and it’s not doing that anymore.  It’s more in the itchy stage now. 

If anyone out there decides to get a tattoo, don’t scratch it so you won’t ruin it and do your homework so you go to a reputable place.

Now I have to tell you a funny story because my neighbor laughed all the way home about this.  A young kid came in while I was there (you have to be eighteen to enter the place) so we think possibly he just had his birthday.  He said he lived with his parents and told them he went to the gym but actually came there for his first tattoo.  He decided on a pair of cowboy boots with a snake twined around them.  Of course this kid thought he was so macho but he kept saying “Please can we take a break.  I need a soda.  This is really painful.”  And I was on the next table in the next cubicle, saying “Wow, this doesn’t hurt a bit.  I could fall asleep.”

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Lizard Love

We have loads of lizards around here this year.  They are everywhere and love this heat.  It never seems to get too hot for them.  Hanging out by the plants is usually how they spend their days.  I imagine there are plenty of bugs to catch there. 

 A lizard crawling across the patio
Watching them is fascinating.  They are really aggressive when it comes to hunting for food.  But I’ve noticed a lot of animals in the desert are that way.  I imagine food is in short supply sometimes so you have to make sure you get a meal if you spot one. 

Two lizards hanging out on our block wall

The lizards will actually chase competitors away from their hunting spot.  They can really run if they want to.  They have to stop and “pump” themselves up every-so-often, but then they take off at a fast run again.

 A lizard on the house
It’s not uncommon to go out and count ten of them around the house, on the house, or the wall that surrounds our property.  Hubby caught these two getting snuggly so I imagine we’ll have more lizards added to the group pretty soon. 

 You can hardly see them in the rocks in the second photo

There’s a lot of mating going on.  Raven wanted outside the door the other day when he spied two lizards chasing each other around in a courtship ritual.  I didn’t get a pic of that because I would have scared them off if I went out on the patio.

Here's one hanging out on the storage shed on the patio

Such is life in the desert.  It keeps the cats amused to watch all the creatures passing by, or hanging out under the patio shade.  I guess 110 in the shade is better than being out in the sun.  Besides what choice do these poor creatures have?  I feel sorry for them having to put up with the extreme conditions of desert living.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

More Progress in the Neighborhood

We live on a street with several vacant lots and this past month workers are busy clearing two of them for new homes.  So we’ll be getting new neighbors probably sometime before Christmas.  They’ve been working most of the weekdays on the clearing and leveling of the lots.  Dump trucks have been busy bringing in loads of dirt that is compacted for the foundation. No building has actually started yet.  Usually it takes them about six months to build a house here.

A water truck on the lot closest to us
A view of the lot from the street corner
 This is the lot up the street.  A block wall is now going up there.

One lot is up at the beginning of our street about half a mile away.  The other is on a corner and is a lot closer to us.  We used to own this corner lot several years ago but sold it before the economy took a down turn.  It’s been sitting vacant all this time.  It will be exciting to see what kind of house they build there.  I’ll be keeping up with this as time goes along.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Happy Fourth of July

I hope everyone has a most enjoyable day with family and friends.  It’s far too hot to barbecue here.  After Memorial Day that’s usually out until fall rolls around.  No one hangs around outside much in the triple digit heat.  Who can blame them?

At least the store will be closed today so we’ll probably be cooking hamburgers indoors and watching fireworks later on once it cools off to the upper nineties.  We can see them from our patio all around the horizon.  I’m sure some crazy kids will climb the bluff out in the desert and set some off too like they do every year.  I may even practice getting some more fireworks shots with my camera.  I’m not good at it and the only other time to do it around here is for New Years and that’s way too cold for me.

Everyone knows how I delight in dressing up my cats for the holidays.  The Fourth is no exception.  Of course, Raven is the only one that tolerates me.  Sometimes Tootie will, but Koki wants to get as far from me as possible if I try to put a hat on her.

I made my trip to the dollar store a couple of weeks ago to see what I could find that would be suitable material for a cat hat.  How I wish they made something “cat size,” but since they don’t it’s always a challenge.  However, I’m not one to back away from a creative challenge, so I put my thinking cap on and dive in.

I’m glad Raven doesn’t mind being my guinea pig. 

Raven ready to celebrate the Fourth in style

Happy Fourth of July everyone.  Be safe out there and remember why we celebrate this holiday.