Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pawpaw's Birthday Present


My father-in-law turned 84 Friday. He loves to play games and probably misses game night with friends more than anything since they have moved here. We try to play with them every week or two but I'm sure it's not the same. My mother-in-law wants him to play games to keep his mind sharp, or as sharp as it can be with the medications he takes.



For his birthday, I bought these handmade domino holders from Mike at Wood-n-Things. I described what I wanted and Mike turned out these great holders along with little train figures for the game of Mexican Train. They turned out great, which shows how talented Mike is, because they were a first for him. Thanks Mike!



Pawpaw made the center train station years ago and we just set our dominoes on edge in front of us. However, Pawpaw has Parkinson's disease now and it is difficult for him to pick up one domino without knocking several over so these will help with that. And if you've ever played any kind of domino game, you know that one bump of the table knocks all the dominoes over. Someone in our family, the tall, dark and good-looking one, thinks it's really funny to bump the table and tell everyone he knows what they are holding. The person holding the double blank doesn't want anyone to know where it is. So no more domino pickup after a table bump. Sorry hon.

Pawpaw was really pleased with the holders and we'll set up a game this week to try them out.

Until next time, may you have blessings and time to play,
Marti

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Candida Diet

Every doctor has a diet and supplements they prefer, but they all have the same core: cut out yeast, sugar, and vinegar, and fruits (at least for the first three weeks); and add garlic, Pau D'Arco, and Caprylic acid. Nystatin is a medication that is often prescribed but it is not without side effects. I took it years ago, but since then have just been following a diet and using these and other herbal supplements.

The last book I read had some interesting points, though it leaned toward Eastern medicine. One thought was drink liquids between meals but not with meals because the liquid dilutes the digestive juices. Also, the author recommended to chew food 20 times each mouthful to make the most of the enzymes in saliva.

Another recommendation is to add lemon juice to plain water, five drops to a glass, to release the dead toxins. Also, it has to be juice from an organic lemon, not bottled lemon juice. A frugal way to do this is to poke a hole in the lemon with a toothpick, squeeze out some juice, and then plug the hole with the toothpick.

There is another long list of forbidden foods and drinks, and one of the hardest for me is tea because anything dried, aged, or fermented encourages the growth of yeast. The only exceptions to teas are Pau D'Arco which has anti-fungal properties, and black walnut tea which is known to eliminate parasites.

I've been doing the core diet since Monday and can't tell any difference yet. I'm still taking the digestive enzyme too. Without it, the pain in my throat comes back, though the pain in my stomach seems to be gone. So maybe I am making progress.

Until next time, may you have blessings and health,
Marti

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sneak Preview



I know what you're thinking "A toilet in the bedroom, how cool, I want one!" Right?

Give me a few days and I'll reveal how you too can have a toilet a mere two feet from your bed.

******************

Changing the subject, I started a modified candida diet again yesterday, kind of a pre-candida diet. Until I can ease off caffeine again, I've eliminated sugar, yeast, and vinegar for now. Although I wasn't thinking and had some ketchup today. Not much. I still get a gold star for the day.

Until next time, may you have blessings and unique decor,
Marti

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Sun is Shining

All around town, snowmen and snowwomen are melting into bent and grotesque forms, all except this one that is. It was huge the day I saw the family making it, but I didn't have my camera with me. It was well over twelve feet tall and looks like it is still at least eight feet tall. The snowman next to it looks like it has kowtowed to the sun and sacrificed it's head. See why I don't kowtow?



On Saturday, Hubby picked up the neighbor whose garage was blocked by the fallen tree and took him to Home Depot where they both bought chain saws. Hubby had a chain saw, but wanted one with more power. Argh, argh, and all that. The neighbor's driveway is now usable and Hubby got most of the limbs off one tree in our backyard to keep it from falling all way, taking with it the cable tv line and landing on our fence.



He tried to use his trusty cart to tighten a come-a-long but couldn't get any traction even with it's nubby tires. Poor little wimpy electric cart.



And finally just had to leave it as it was with the tip hanging over the cable tv line. The good news is that it's the neighbor's tv cable, not ours.

Until next time, may you have blessings and more power,
Marti

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 6

This is my blog entry for Week 6 of the challenge created by Amy Coffin of We Tree and hosted by GeneaBloggers.com.

The assignment:
Online databases at your public library. Search your library’s web site and see if your card grants you access to online databases. Libraries (even small ones) often have wonderful online tools including genealogy databases, historical newspapers and more! Take some time and play with these little perks that come with a library card. You just may get some help in your own genealogy research and gain some free research tools to boot. If you don’t know how to access online library databases or you’re not sure if your branch has them, ask a librarian for guidance. If you have a blog, discuss which databases (if any) to which your library subscribes.


Great timing to do this assignment while there is snow on the ground and the library is closed. With my library, I have home access to TexShare Databases made available by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission which includes a lot of databases such as The Handbook of Texas, ProQuest e-library, Texas Digital Sanborn Maps, InfoTrac Custom Newspapers, Net Library, Heritage Quest with the census, PERSI, Revolutionary War and Freedman's Bank. From the library, I can access Ancestry with my library card. While I'd rather search from home, it's nice to know I can search Ancestry without having to have my own membership. It would be nice if our library had enough space next to the computers to lay writing material though. But they have put as many computers as they can fit into a small space and the result is that patrons are sitting elbow to elbow with writing materials in laps. One time I also rammed my knee into a table leg trying to scoot the heavy wooden chair up to the computer. I still remember the blackout pain that accompanied that computer session. A woman next to me said she had done the same thing one time.

Until next time, may you have blessings and painless searching,
Marti

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

If you've been reading my blog long, you know that I don't like Hallmark Holidays. I don't like anyone telling me I have to buy cards (at $3.50 a pop) or gifts at a particular time to prove my love. Part of my independent streak I guess. (I wouldn't join a sorority in college because I didn't want someone my age ordering me to do whatever they said, whenever they said it. I don't kowtow.)

It has taken a burden off the whole family to know that nothing is expected of them on Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparent's Day, Groundhog Day, President's Day (that's tomorrow you know), or International Pancake Day (that's Tuesday).

So imagine my surprise when Hubby handed me a box yesterday. It was the necklace I wrote about in November's I'm in Jewelry Love.



It was smaller than I thought it would be, but nice, and really nice of Hubby on so many levels. For one thing, I didn't think he even read my blog and I've never mentioned the necklace anywhere else.



And he bought it outside the regular gift giving days which is pretty incredible because Hubby doesn't even like shopping for those days. So that was really nice. But it also presented me with a problem: The Rule of Reciprocality which states that for every gift received, one must be given. (It's an unwritten rule.) Then there this one: The Rule of Gratis (another unwritten rule) which states that a gift should be freely given from the heart, which brings me to the last one: The Rule of Obligation (you've never heard of these unwritten rules?) which states that the obligee feels overwhelming guilt and rushes out to fulfill The Rule of Reciprocality which then breaks both The Rule of Gratis and my rule I Don't Do Hallmark Holidays.

Hubby magnanimously told me he didn't want a gift in return, which has allowed me to really enjoy this day and this unexpected gift.

Until next time, may you have blessings and unexpected gratisfaction,
Marti

(P.S. I make my own rules, and all rules are meant to be broken.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 5

This is my blog entry for Week 5 of the challenge created by Amy Coffin of We Tree and hosted by GeneaBloggers.com.

The assignment:
Play with WorldCat.org. WorldCat is a massive network of library content that the public can search for free (user name and password not required). Not every library is a part of WorldCat, but the vast size of the network makes it an important genealogy tool. If you are looking for a specific book or publication, enter the identifying information into the WorldCat search box and see which libraries hold the item. You may even find that you can get the item through your library’s inter-library loan program. Don’t forget to search for some of your more unusual surnames and see what comes up. The goal is to play with WorldCat and examine its possibilities for your own research. If you’re already familiar with WorldCat, play with it again. The network and collection grow and change constantly. If you have a genealogy blog, write about your experiences with searching WorldCat for this exercise.


While I knew about WorldCat, I seldom used it. Why? I dont' know. I guess I thought it a book wasn't in my library or the Dallas System, I didn't need to know about it. Such is life with blinders on. While playing around with their search engine, I put in names of family history books I already own, and didn't get any hits - even though I know one of them exists in at least two other libraries. Then I put in names of books I have heard about and found a couple of them. But most interesting was when I put in my family name and found an autobiography I'd never heard of. I then googled the name and found the obituary for the man, and while he seems to have had an interesting life, I didn't read anything in the obituary that made me anxious to read the book. Then, I put in the name of locations where family members came from. One was the Allison Prairie of Illinois and a search for it just gave me the name of the flora and fauna of that area, so I doubt I would learn anything about family history there. But the other was for the Waxhaw settlement of South Carolina and a search for it turned up a 100 year history, 1989 centennial. That might be interesting, but my relatives were long gone by 1889 so even though they were some of the founding members of the community, I doubt there would be any mention of them.

All in all, it was a good perusal and I will go to it first rather than last the next time I need a book.

Until next time, may you have blessings and answers,
Marti

The Aftermath

The tree I was watching yesterday was actually two trees growing up together, and each fell.



As the sun broke through the clouds and temperatures rose, the snow began melting and the trees fell more.



There were branches that broke off as they became weighted with snow, but the main trunks either broke under ground or uprooted.





I'm surprised we still had power this morning. I guess all the trees near power lines to us must either be upright still or fell the other direction. This double tree of ours just barely missed the line, and landed on the fence.



The worst part is that the trees were right on top of our septic lines, thanks to the previous owners who didn't stop it, and the septic people told us not to mess with it because the roots were probably in the lines. At least alive, the roots were taking in water, but if we took down the tree, the dead roots would clog the lines. Now, the lines have probably been jerked apart from the tree(s) falling.

A walk around the rest of the yard showed damage to a couple of other big trees too. One fell on the shed but we can't get in the shed to see if there is any damage yet.





I was surprised not to see any animal tracks until I came around the back of the critter pond and saw where something came to get a drink. Hope he got one, it looks a bit frozen.



From the other side, the tracks look like a rabbit.



In the front yard, a yaupon holly. One lone limb remains intact, the others are crushed against the house.



The neighbor's photinias are also bent to the ground. They used to be as high or higher than the electric lines. (By the way, that gray strip isn't driveway, it's water beside the driveway.)



Hubby cleared a path through the tire ruts so we could get to the street. See all the neighbor's cars at the end of their driveways where they had to leave them last night?



This neighbor's tree fell across his driveway. His cars aren't going anywhere for awhile.



Another neighbor used his tractor to clear his long driveway.





Oh yeah. You know that post office slogan about neither rain, nor snow, nor dead of night keeping them from delivering the mail? Not true. We haven't had mail delivery since Wednesday.

I also had a DVD due at the library today. Hubby had to get out so I thought I'd impose on him to drop it off, but no one answered when I called the library. They'd better not charge me a fine since they are the ones who weren't open when they were supposed to be open, and don't want patrons dropping DVD's in the book return chute.

Until next time, may you have blessings, and a sharp chainsaw,
Marti

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winter Wonderland











I woke up this morning to the sound of footsteps on the roof. Since squirrels usually jump from a nearby tree onto the roof, it wouldn't have been unusual except this was no squirrel, unless it was Arnold Schwarzensquirrel. It was someone from the electric company replacing the electric meter, so I figured it hadn't snowed yet and rolled back over for a few more z's. But he was too noisy and I got up and looked out the window to see the yard blanketed by snow. That was one gutsy man on the roof.

It's supposed to start a rain and snow mix soon so that will turn it to slush, but it has been absolutely gorgeous all day. For most of the day the snow has come straight down; big, fluffy flakes that balance on top of fence posts and coat every surface with a quilted blanket. Walking across it makes a satisfying crunching sound. Under the trees are bare spots where the birds congregate looking for a few morsels of food, and there are interesting little footprints scattered across the yard. The air is crisp and clean and a few neighbors have been out walking and building snowmen. Schools are closed and there hasn't been much traffic on our dead end street so it's been a quiet, peaceful, snow.

I fear some tree limbs may break in the night though. The snow is wet and heavy, and when it stops the temperatures are supposed to take a big drop. Until then, I'm going to sit with my mug of orange spice tea and watch the flakes come down.

It's been snowing all day and at last count we had a little over nine inches. Now before you people who get snow on a regular basis shrug and think that's no big deal, it is a big deal here. I can't remember getting more than two inches in the thirty years we have lived in this part of the country. They said on tv that it's the most snow since 1978. Most people here don't know how to drive in snow because we usually get less than an inch of snow once a year. We have ice occasionally, but even that is fairly rare. I don't drive when it snows or ices because even though I grew up with snow, I don't want to be on the roads with people who can't get it through their heads that they have to drive differently when it is slick. Hubby's boss sent out an email telling everyone to stay home tomorrow. Good advice.

I've been watching this tree all day, watching it droop lower and lower as the snow weighs down the limbs.







Then, a loud crack and the first limb fell.



Then another as it was getting dark. This is a better angle.



A loud crash, and the shed porch collapsed. It was totally dark when I took this picture and had to lighten it with software.



Hubby got home early and didn't have any trouble getting into the driveway and garage, but all our neighbors who have come home after dark are stuck in the street the end of their driveways. So far Hubby has pushed two of them into their driveways. At least it's better than hanging out into the street when someone loses control on the ice in the morning.

Until next time, may you have blessings and the glory of nature,
Marti

Did You Guess?

Remember my post on Almost Wordless Wednesday?

Were you puzzled?

Did you guess why I posted those three pictures?

Did you know it took me almost a full minute to realize my new phone wasn't ringing the number I dialed because it was my calculator!

Think I should start looking for an assisted living center yet?

My old phone is big, heavy, and has one function: making and receiving phone calls - oh and it had voice mail.

My new phone is flat, lightweight and can do all sorts of things: phone calls, voice mail, texting, surf the internet, and it can make phone calls. So far I can make and receive calls, check voice mail, and read a text if it has just been made. (I can't seem to retrieve them once the light stops blinking.) Trying to figure out how to get on the internet or retrieve old messages reminds me of my mother-in-law when she got her first VCR. We had to reset the clock every time we visited them because every time the power went out it reverted back to the blinking 12:00 and she never could remember how to set the clock.

I laughed then. I'm not laughing as much now.

Until next time, may you have blessings and a knowledge of all things geeky,
Marti

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Still Catching Up, Week 4 of 52 Weeks to Bettery Genealogy

This is my blog entry for Week 4 of the challenge created by Amy Coffin of We Tree and hosted by GeneaBloggers.com.

The assignment:
Learn about your local public library’s inter-library loan (ILL) policy. Pick a genealogy-related book that you want to read that is not in your library’s collection. Ask the librarian how to request the book from another library. Find the different library systems from which you can request books through your own library, as this can dramatically increase the number of genealogy books to which you have access. If you have a genealogy blog, write about your experience with requesting items through your library’s ILL service.

This one was easy because I have recently used the ILL. At our library, we have access to all the libraries in the Dallas Library System as well as nearby college libraries. The cost is $2 which has to be paid in person, and in advance. It's not a perfect system because occasionally the book doesn't arrive, or the library doesn't notify that the book is in and sends it back, and the fee is non-refundable, but for the most part it is a great way to get hard-to-find books.

Until next time, may you have blessings and successful research,
Marti

More Makeup Work: Week 3 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy

This is my blog entry for Week 3 of the challenge created by Amy Coffin of We Tree and hosted by GeneaBloggers.com.

This assignment:
Assess yourself! You’re great at researching everyone else’s history, but how much of your own have you recorded? Do an assessment of your personal records and timeline events to ensure your own life is as well-documented as that of your ancestors. If you have a genealogy blog, write about the status of your own research and steps you may take to fill gaps and document your own life.

Oooh, that one got me where it hurts. I have never really thought of documenting myself, my husband, or even my children. I have birth certificates, social security cards, and our marriage certificate in various files. As of today, I now have the birth and marriage certificates scanned and in my genealogy program, and all documents are in my family file, along with school records and photographs.

Thanks Amy!

Until next time, may you have blessings and good records,
Marti

Makeup Work: 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy Week 2

This is my blog entry for Week 2 of the challenge created by Amy Coffin of We Tree and hosted by GeneaBloggers.com.

Here is the assignment:
Go to your local public library branch again. Examine the local history, archives and/or special collections section. Ask a librarian if you don’t know if your library has special collections or where they are located. Be sure to check the reference section, too, as many of the newer and more valuable books are held in that area. If you have a genealogy blog, write about what you find in your library’s local history and special collections.

Maybe I didn't understand the directions again but this was either an easy assignment or a trick question. I consulted the librarian in the reference section and this is what we came up with: we have a small library with limited resources and special collections are limited. We have a Texas collection of books and the Granger collection. As far as local history, there are a few books written about families or places in the county, and there is a vertical file with newspaper clippings and letters donated by local families. As far as archives, the local newspapers are all on microfilm dating back to the late 1800's. They aren't indexed so it is rather time-consuming to find obituaries or news articles.

We also have the DAR registers, but they are currently out being indexed.

So that's about it for this assignment. I didn't have time to pull my camera out and snap pictures of these collections, but maybe I'll go back to do that. I have found it helps a lot to take pictures of the location of certain books in the library, especially if they are in an area I don't go to often and there is no numerical way to find it easily.

Until next time, may you have blessings and good luck with your searching,
Marti

Almost Wordless Wednesday

My old phone:



My new phone:



My calculator:



Until next time, may you have blessings and fun guessing,
Marti

Watch Your Electric Bill - Or Maybe Not

I just got off the phone with my electric company, the one with three letters. I don't get it, I really don't. You'd think a company making millions of dollars would be a little more careful.

Let me start at the beginning.

At the end of August, I received the bill for that month, and it showed 0 usage. I just figured they misread the bill at the end of July and were adjusting it.

At the end of September, I received another bill showing 0 usage, so I read the meter myself and then called the company and asked what was going on. I asked if my bill had been misread in July but the guy didn't know and said he'd have someone call me in ten to twelve days. No one ever called, so I called again mid-October and was told an investigation had been started September 29 and they determined that the meter wasn't working. I told them I was standing in front of the meter as I talked to them and it was working, the dial was spinning and number dials were moving too. But they sent someone out to change it anyway.

My October bill matched the meter so I figured all was well. The November bill was a bit high considering it was a mild month and I wondered if they over read the meter.

The December bill once again showed 0 usage and I once again assumed they did over read the meter in November and were adjusting it.

Then I got the January bill with another 0 usage and called them. They said they would look it into and someone would call me. No one did, so I called again today. This guy had me go look at the meter while we were talking and I could tell the meter wasn't working. The dryer was running yet the dial wasn't moving at all, and the number dials showed the same numbers as the bill which was read two weeks earlier. So once again they are sending someone out to check the meter. I bet my next bill is going to be a budget buster.

What I find so unbelievable is that NO ONE at the company picked up on one 0 usage month, much less two in a row. No wonder our economy is in trouble. I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't called at all?

Until next time, may you have blessings and low bills,
Marti

Changes in Local Grocery Stores

I don't know if it is because they are feeling the pinch or if they are pushing their high margin products, but lately the loss leaders at my local grocery chains have been for store brand products. I've also noticed more store brands on the shelves, and some of my favorite name brands are missing. Even Walmart seems to be following this pattern.

I haven't read or heard anyone else talking about this, so it may be fairly local. What about stores in your areas? Are there more store brands this year?

Until next time, may you have blessings and a stocked pantry,
Marti

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Night Out with a Little Country Music


Last Saturday night Hubby wanted to take his parents to a local country music show. It is a lot like the variety shows at Branson, Missouri (or like the shows at Branson used to be in the '80's), without the long drive and crowds. I didn't know it, but Johnnie High's Country Music Revue is one of the top country music shows outside Nashville.

I expected to sink miserably in my chair with my hands over my ear-plug filled ears, but I enjoyed it a lot. I did have to wear ear plugs, but didn't need the additional hands over ears that I often have to have with loud music, which means it was loud, but not deafening.

I had no idea there could be so much talent in one small theater. The announcer, Michael Hix, was cute, funny, and a talented singer. He did an Elvis song and a Loretta Lynn song and managed to capture the style of both of them. Of course it was funny to see him do Loretta Lynn and he hammed it up so it was quite entertaining. We were told that it would be an hour show so we weren't expecting much, but it was actually a little over two hours and there were at least a dozen singers, some were Johnnie High regulars and others were guest singers. Each sang a couple of songs, and like Hubby said, there was enough variety to please everyone. My favorite was a young lady named Brandy Morris; I predict she will be a big star one of these days so watch for her.

Except for families of the young singers, it seemed to be a crowd of mostly senior citizens, and the older end of senior citizens at that. I felt positively youthful. Usually, when I am sitting in a crowd, I notice the smell of perfume and cigarette smoke clinging to the clothes of people around us. That night I smelled hairspray, and then I noticed that nearly every woman around us had a recent coiffure in the senior citizen cotton candy look - short, white, curled hair, teased and sprayed unmercifully into a puffy ball.

Most of the audience seemed to know each other and I heard them greeting each other, inquiring about their week, and finding their favorite seats. Toward the end of the show, birthdays and anniversaries were announced and there was friendly bantering with the audience. Made me wish I was a regular, it was so comfortable among them.


Until next time, may you have blessings and good music,
Marti

p.s. I took Terry's advice and bought some digestive enzymes, and started taking them Saturday. When we left the theater about 10pm, it dawned on me that I had very little pain when I'm usually dying about that time. I'm encouraged.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Craig's List: Scammer's Haven

We have bought and sold on Craig's List before without much problem, but it has really changed in the past year or two. We've been trying to get rid of excess furniture and have listed a couple of things there lately. Before Christmas, I listed a piece, and my email immediately filled with offers to buy it, if only I would go through their agent, their shipping company, etc. Most of these scammers started off asking for additional pictures. Why, I don't know since they had no intention of taking delivery.

A tip from the help board there said to uncheck the email option, and either take a picture of your handwritten email address or write one in a paint program and load it into the listing as if it were a picture so spambots can't pick it up. Scammers can still find it and email, but it takes more effort and most of them won't do it.

So two weeks ago I listed this original 1950's dinette set that belonged to my in-laws.


I heard they were really popular and this one is in good shape, so I thought it would be easy to sell, especially since I priced it much lower than similar sets. I got one email from someone wanting additional pictures, so I pulled it out of the garage and took more pictures even though I had a feeling it might be a scammer. Sure enough, after I sent the pictures, he asked if I would deliver, and would pay me well for my time and effort. Of course when I told him delivery was not an option, cash only and he picks it up, I never heard from him again.

That was the only email we got, so the next week we lowered the price $50. Toward the end of the week, I got another email simply asking if I would take $50 for the set. Hubby and I talked it over, his parents just wanted to get rid of it, and we countered at $60 even though that was almost $200 cheaper than anything else listed on Craig's List. I also requested cash when she picked it up. Never heard from her again, so today, Hubby and I took it to the thrift store. At least the in-laws can claim what it is worth, even if it only gets them a small fraction back on their income taxes.

The lady at the thrift store was thrilled to get it, and I wouldn't be surprised if she listed it on ebay. She admired the chairs and said "they sure don't make vinyl like this anymore," to which I answered "thank heavens." Why anyone bought orange and green vinyl chairs with a white and gray table top is beyond me.

Just a few minutes ago, I got a call from someone who wanted to know about the barrister bookcases I listed last year. He had kept my phone number he said. I remember talking to him last year too since he was the only one who called about then. He wanted two 5-stack cases for $75 then.

What is it with people? I like getting a bargain, and was ready to make good deals on these pieces, but I don't want to give them away, and I'm really tired of the scammers which seem to dominate Craig's List these days.

I've still got a table and chairs to sell, and dread having to deal with it on Craig's List. If anyone has a secret to successful selling on Craig's List, I wish you'd let me in on it.

Until next time, may you have blessings and mutually beneficial dealings,
Marti

Coming Attractions

Hubby went over to his parent's apartment the other day, and they were watching tv (with antenna so not much selection). His dad complained that Bonanza is really getting stupid. Hubby said, yep, sure didn't seem that stupid back in the '60's but those old reruns are pretty silly. Then his dad said these aren't reruns, these are new ones. Hubby looked at him a minute and said, pop, these are all reruns, and all those actors are dead now. Pernell Roberts just died the other day and was on the news,remember? His dad still argued that this show is currently being filmed.

I guess this is will be our lives in another 30 years.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Candida and Me

Terry asked me what my candida symptoms were, and I started writing an email to her and realized it was probably more than she actually asked for. But once I had this written, I thought I might share it here in case anyone else wants to know.

Before I start, here is a list of the typical symptoms of candida:
Bloating, gas, cramps
Diarrhea (can alternate with constipation)
Food allergies
Abnormal fatigue
Anxiety, mood swings, depression
Insomnia and forgetfulness
Autism, hyperactivity, and learning problem with children
Diaper rash, thrush, and colic in babies
Hives and extreme itching
Rectal and vaginal itching
Recurrent yeast infection, urinary tract infections, jock itch, athlete’s foot, and nail fungus
Intense craving for sugary foods, chocolate, breads, pickles
Loss of interest in sex
Recurrent prostatis
Impotence
Thrush
Esophagitis (trouble swallowing, chest pain)
Joint pain

Note: Having one or even a few of these symptoms does not mean you have candida, as all of these have many causes. It is when you have all or most symptoms that you might consider that possibility. A simple home test for candida is one you do in the morning. Before putting anything in your mouth, get a clear glass of water, work up some saliva, and spit into the glass. Wait one to 30 minutes and check the glass through the side. If the saliva is still floating on top, you are fine. Yeast is heavier than water, so if there are strands coming off the saliva, if it sank to the bottom, or if it turned the water cloudy, you could have candida and should see a doctor. They can do a fecal test which is more accurate and there are also blood tests like the Candida Antibody test and the Antigen test.

My Candida Story

Looking back on my life, my first symptoms were joint pain in my knees and diarrhea. My mom took me to the doctor when I was ten because my knees hurt so much and he said it was just growing pains, but it never quit, and I just learned to live with it. I just figured it was normal and everyone in gym class was in pain when they did exercises with a lot of jumping and squatting. Also, I have been hypersensitive to sounds and smells as long as I can remember. Noise bothers me to the point that I don't go to movies and even a lot of church services bother me. I can hear someone's watch ticking from two feet away and hearing aids drive me nuts. Smells are almost as bad; I can identify the odors on most people the minute they walk into a room, whether it's their perfume, smoking, if they have been near fried foods, and even the brand deodorant they wear.

When I was young, doctors dispensed tetracycline like it was candy and there was always a bottle of it in our medicine cabinet. When anyone even coughed or had a fever, mom dished it out until we felt better. There was none of this ten-day-take-it-until-finished thing. There’s really no telling how much I had as a child.

Back in those days, people didn’t have a case of soda in the house; getting a coke at the store was a special treat, and so were candy bars. My mom didn’t bake a lot either. Her idea of dessert was ice cream, and I didn’t really care for ice cream because it hurt my teeth, even then. But when I was twenty-four, I went to work at the corporate office of a construction company and a stocked refrigerator was one of the perks. For the next several years, I probably consumed three or four cokes a day. I had had yeast infections since I was a teenager, but during that time of high soda consumption, they were a lot more frequent and eventually the prescriptions for it did little or no good.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had dry, itchy skin and I spent time every day raking my fingernails up and down my skin to stop the itching. Lotions helped only a little. I remember my father scratching his legs all the time too. About five years ago I noticed that my shins were always red like his and they itched so bad at night that I found myself scratching all the time, especially at night. Two different dermatologists said it was just dry skin but lotions didn't help a bit. I just stopped wearing shorts because I was so embarrassed by them. When I finally kicked the sugar & other candida foods again this past year, the redness and itching finally started going away.

When our first daughter was born, she had colic and diaper rash for about six weeks, and I won’t say how crazy it made me, but I definitely understand some of the crazy things I hear about on tv. Once she got over that, she doesn’t seem to have any more problems connected to yeast. (Edited to add: Terry mentioned that bad breath is another symptom of candida and that is something my daughter has had since she was young, and I have noticed in me since I got the bad taste in my mouth.) When our daughter was about a year old, I was crawling around on the floor with her and I couldn't bend my wrists enough to crawl with the palms of my hands on the floor. A few years later my ankles got so stiff I couldn't run, and even walking hurt. Doctors diagnosed both as arthritis

My youngest was born when I was thirty-two and she had jaundice and thrush (candida) which took a long time to get rid of. She's twenty-two now and has the bouts of diarrhea I started with, but she won't listen to me. Yet.

But the biggie was when I was thirty-six and had my gall bladder removed. Before the surgery, my diarrhea had gotten a bit worse each year, but after the surgery it was constant and extreme. The surgeon said I was the only person he ever knew who actually needed a gall bladder. He prescribed a gritty powder to mix with water and drink but it didn't make much difference. That's when my life started revolving around my good days and bad days, and there were more bad days than good. I finally figured out that soda and sweets would trigger a really, really bad day, but being selfish (and stupid), I never gave them up completely. And that was my life for several years. There were times when we would all be in the car and I felt the first wave of pains that told me it was coming, and we all had to come home, or they had to bring me home before going on with their plans. There were times when I thought I couldn’t possibly live much longer like this, I mean it couldn’t be healthy in so many ways. I also spent a lot of time on my pity-pot (pun intended) wondering “why me?”

I also noticed that a headache came on the bad days with the diarrhea. Then, Hubby heard a nutritionist on the radio talking about candida and I made an appointment that day. He asked me questions like 'did you have antibiotics often as a child', 'have you ever been on antibiotics for a prolonged time', 'have you been on The Pill', 'do you drink a soda or have a sugary snack every day', 'do you crave sugar or chocolate', 'do you have yeast infections often', etc. I answered yes to every one of his questions, and when I thought about it, I had had a complication with the gall bladder surgery and had to go back to the hospital to clear up a secondary infection so I got a double dose of antibiotics then, which is probably what set off that constant diarrhea.

Anyway, he started me on the candida allergy shots and told me to cut all sugar, vinegar, and yeasts from my diet. He explained that while candida is present in our intestines, when it gets out of control it moves on to other soft tissue, like the joints. The shots helped, but I had to give them to myself and I'm not good with puncturing myself, so quit after a week or two. By then, I felt better and was on track with the diet. For six months I felt terrific, and then the holidays hit. I ate pie and all that stuff at Thanksgiving and it didn't bother me at all, so I pronounced myself cured and started eating anything I wanted. After Christmas I was not only having all the candida problems again, I was depressed and didn't want to help myself.

After six months on antidepressants I lifted out of the fog enough to get motivated to take care of the candida. By then, it was a lot worse and I was often housebound. I just wanted my life back. So I went to the library and checked out every book, okay, I checked out the one book they had on the subject, and went at it full tilt. That books was Candida Albicans, Could Yeast Be Your Problem by Leon Chaitow. It went into a lot more detail about what causes candida to get out of control, what foods to avoid (it was a lot more than just sugar, yeast, and vinegar), and anti-candida herbs and others to heal the intestine. The diet was really hard to follow while trying to cook normally for the rest of the family, but I followed it and felt better. I never could tell that all the herbal supplements made that much difference.

Then, just as before, I ate some things that I wasn’t supposed to eat, didn’t suffer any immediate ill-effects and gradually dropped back into my old eating habits. When the yeast infections or diarrhea got bad, I just stopped the bad foods temporarily until my symptoms were under control, and then went on again, or I ate the bad foods the day before I knew I had a free day to be sick. How twisted is that? I went back to the library to read the book again and get back on the diet, but the book had been stolen and the library didn't replace it, and at that time our book budget was the $15 I spent on the library membership. Then I discovered Imodium and my bad days were limited to just a few bad hours before I could continue a normal life. At first the Imodium worked really well, and as time went on, it took more and more of it to work. And again, I started wondering how long I could live taking such large amounts of it every day; I also felt guilty for being a burden on my husband and spoilsport for my girls.

In 2007, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis and decided to clean up my act, health-wise. I didn’t totally stop eating sugars and yeasts, but I ate in what I thought was moderation. The more I read about osteoporosis, the more I believe it was brought on, in part, by the constant diarrhea which kept my intestines from processing correctly and calcium was leached out of my bones to make up for it. Between a better eating pattern (notice I didn’t say good) and the Imodium, I actually functioned like a normal person most of the time.

In 2009, I quit taking Fosamax because of two side effects. One was a bad taste in my mouth, and I had heard that a metallic taste was quite common with the drug. I wouldn’t describe mine as a metallic taste, just not good. The other was that it felt like the pill was stuck in my throat long after I had taken it, and that feeling was lasting longer after each pill. I had called my doctor’s office about it and they said to call if it didn’t go away, and it always did go away so I continued taking it a few more times. The feeling in my throat did go away, but the bad taste never has.

Then I decided to take up tennis again after many years and immediately got a pain in my elbow. I went to a orthopedic doctor and got a cortisone shot, but the shot made my candida symptoms worse than they had ever been. It seems that cortisone triggers candida growth, and not only did I have all my regular symptoms, it triggered something like chronic fatigue syndrome. There were days it was all I could to drag myself out of bed, and after just one small activity (like eating breakfast) I would be so wiped out I had to go back to bed. It also made the pain in my elbow a lot worse. It took months before I felt like a real person again, and then I started the candida diet again. That was in September, just two short months before the sugary holidays. I also took one more Fosamax just to see if the feeling in my throat was caused by a build up. Sure enough, it happened again, but this time it didn't go away at all.

I started feeling better again but I wasn’t losing any weight, so decided to start the 7 Day Cure to the Middle Aged Middle diet. That’s when things started going downhill again, and I can’t figure out what was in that diet that caused me so many problems unless it was all the vitamins I took with the diet. Not only was the diarrhea really bad, but it made the feeling in my throat worse, the feeling like I had a pill stuck in my throat. I had been meaning to see a doctor about it anyway, but now that it was worse, I made an appointment with an Ear, Nose & Throat doctor who then sent me to a gastroenterologist. He wanted to scope my throat, and after I told him about the candida, he wanted to do a colonoscopy too. He doesn’t think candida causes problems and is convinced it is something else. He didn’t find anything except an inlet patch in my throat which most people don’t even notice having.

This doctor thought I had just a little reflux causing my throat problem and he prescribed Prilosec, and thought Bile Salt Diarrhea causing the intestinal problems and for that he prescribed Questran. After reading that article, I think that it has merit, but I also think I still have candida, mainly because my diarrhea can be controlled by a strict diet, and I don’t think the bile salt diarrhea can, at least not from the little I’ve read. The Prilosec is doing no good at all. I called and told the doctor’s assistant and she relayed to him and then back to me to double the dosage.

It is still not working and since seeing the doctor, the feeling in my throat is worse and has been joined by a pain in my upper stomach. It feels like someone is sitting on me with a knee in my stomach and hands wrapped around my throat and is worse around bedtime with pain radiating through my back like I’ve been sitting in an uncomfortable position too long (and most of the time I have been), but I can’t find a comfortable position sitting, standing, or lying down. There is no burning like I would imagine heartburn/reflux to be, just pressure. The weirdest thing is that moments after eating, there is a feeling of being so ravenously hungry that I’m on the verge of nausea. I googled that and found some websites about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), so I mentioned that to the doctor, but he (as relayed by his assistant) doesn’t think it is. One day I was out of Prilosec and took Prevacid Complete (an H2 blocker used to treat infrequent heartburn) instead and felt better than I had in weeks, but the doctor doesn’t want me taking it, only the Prilosec (protein pump inhibitor used to prevent frequent heartburn). Some online sources say Prilosec works better in the morning and Prevacid in the evening. Neither should be used long term and both have been linked to hip fractures. In any case, I want to get to the cause, not just treat the symptoms.

Now, back to candida, in case you think I’ve gone off chasing rabbits. The symptoms of candida in the esophagus (esophagitis) are painful swallowing (✓), pain behind the breastbone (✓), sensation of food sticking in the chest (✓), and nausea (✓). The way to diagnose candida in the esophagus is by endoscopy, which I just had. However, my symptoms were fairly mild at the time and have gotten worse since then. I had no pain in my upper stomach area when I first went to the doctor and had a feeling of a pill stuck in my throat, which has progressed to a feeling of a thumb pressed against my throat and now feels like something tight wrapped around my throat. And this week I've added burping to the list - that's a new one for me. Since I know the rest of my digestive tract is swimming with overgrown candida, it does make sense that it would work its way up into my throat also.

Lately, I wake up every morning with a headache and the tennis elbow has also come back with a vengeance and nothing I do makes it any better. Now I wonder if it is truly tennis elbow or candida. The occupational therapist I went to this summer thought the pain wasn't in the usual tennis elbow place. I kept telling her it was deep in my joint and even the bone on my elbow hurt to touch and she said that wasn't normal.

Even though this probably sounds like I have had miserable, sickly health, it hasn't been all bad. There have been some really bad days, and stretches of bad days, but there have also been really good days and stretches of good days. Most of the time, the candida has not been debilitating and I have even had several jobs through all this. Those times when it was debilitating I was fortunate not to have been working.

So, what to do now? Hubby thinks I need to find a new doctor which is easier said than done when I’d rather not be on a medication for the rest of my life.

If anyone has stuck with me through this novelette and you have some advice, I’m all ears.

Until next time, may you have blessings and good health,
Marti

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Small Town Sights That Made Me Grin

Yesterday, I rode along when Hubby went to look at a job located in a little town in another county. I took some of these pictures along the way.


Hubby named this picture "Progressive Redneck"


Truly a man's home is his castle:


I didn't know Herman Munster drove a school bus:


Motorcarriage?


Gee officer, I swear I'm sober, but I just saw a giant caterpillar eat a truck!


It's right there on the highway near the giant flying saucer and the mushroom village.

Kudos to these people for following their dreams.



Until next time, may you have blessings and unusual local sightings,
Marti

Monday, February 1, 2010

Decluttering by Zone

I wish I could say this was my idea, but it was Carolyn's at The Frugalista Files. Since the clutter in my house is almost overwhelming with my current circumstances, I latched onto this idea like a wet cat in a swimming pool.

I really didn't divide my house into zones as much as I divided them by rooms. Luckily, since I am a procrastinator, I had assigned the master bathroom to January, and I didn't even start decluttering until 10pm on the 31st since I really didn't think I would find anything that qualified as clutter. I mean we are in this tiny room every day, and it's too small for anything nonessential. Wrong. I found almost a full drawer of creams and ointments we no longer use.

I also have this lotion bottle that has been sitting on the counter for awhile. I could feel and see that it still had lotion in it, but it wouldn't pump out because the tube was about a half inch too short. (I propped the pump part on a tape measure to show how deep it goes into the bottle.) The label on the bottle might say it contains 10% more lotion, but they didn't provide a way to get it out. Turning a bottle with a pump head upside down doesn't work well. Obviously you can't pump anything out when it's upside down, and unscrewing the pump top is messy.

The solution is putting a different lid on it to turn upside down and get that last bit of lotion out. Most of the time, I can't find a lid that fits exactly, but a soda lid fits this bottle exactly. Most frugal people probably do this without even thinking about it, but at one time I would have thrown the bottle and that last 10% of lotion into the trash can. *gasp!* But now I'm reformed.

In February I tackle the master bedroom and since I can see clutter everywhere there, I have divided it into fourths to make it manageable.

Until next time, may you have blessings and a plan of action,
Marti

Finally - On to the Kitchen

Hubby had been thinking about my kitchen remodel suggestions, and after the latest kitchen disaster, we discussed his ideas. Now here's where I confess that we shouldn't have started remodeling this house until we had lived here awhile, but our ideas seemed so good when we first saw the house. Live and learn I guess.

Here's the floorplan of the house when we bought it:


This is the floorplan after we made our initial changes before moving in:


Then we enclosed the garage, turned it into a den, used the living room as a dining room. Last year we moved the door from the location by the fireplace to the kitchen, and added a door from the dining room to the kitchen so everyone wouldn't have to walk through the kitchen to go into the backyard. To do that, we had to move the upright freezer into the laundry room. Then the floorplan looked like this:


Notice anything?

I have never liked having an open doorway to the kitchen in front of the sink and we always thought we'd put a butler's door there, but we never did. This has been the view from my front door for fourteen years, and this is cleaned up, usually the dishwasher is open while dishes dry:


It's also a giant pain in the caboose to have the upright freezer next to the chest freezer, and even though I like having an enclosed laundry room, I'd rather close off the door in front of the kitchen sink and have access to both freezers again. Two doors into the kitchen take out some valuable wall space. I thought it would be great to move the wall of oven cabinets down so both refrigerator and freezer could be side by side again. Hubby's thought was just to close in the door and put the freezer there. Less expensive and less labor. Here's his plan:



Yep, just about right back where we started.

Where we stand now the ceiling has been replaced, the doors are done, and now we need to paint and replace some trim and then we are ready to replace flooring. Now that the houseplan is back the way it started, I appreciate the ease of having that door in the kitchen, but I really like walking in the front door without a view of the kitchen. Live and learn. What I've learned is that this house was just not designed well.

Until next time, may you have blessings and good design,
Marti