Monday, 21 July 2014

Shawna-Lou Who

Well it didn't last.  That is, my tolerance for the  Jones New York dress I wore yesterday.  It lasted a couple of hours but I felt too restricted, too tailored, too belted.  I changed into this outfit below.  I do fall for crisp tailored things at times but I  just can't happily wear them.  Not only did the dress attract lint and fluff and get wrinkly fast, it bagged in the bum and just did not hold a shape.  Sometimes it becomes really obvious why someone else donated the item!

I changed into this for the rest of the day.

The temperature has dropped about ten degrees and we are to have cooler days for the next week and I am happily back to layers.

....So about that massage appointment...well I am really pushing my boundaries.  I like the massage therapist, and despite the initial situation with the alkaline water and Chinese Medicine suggestions, I find him personable, professional and really good at what he does.  However, it is still a bit beyond my comfort zone to be mostly naked alone in a room with a strange man who is not my significant other.  He is absolutely professional but it is more intimacy than I am used to, having my buttocks massaged.

Yes, and my thighs.  I hear you gasp.  But you see I was all locked up and in pain and stiff and he has drastically improved this by spending an hour massaging places no man has been in awhile.  All I could think about was whether or not I had worn decent knickers, shaved my legs carefully and could he tell I had my period? Every once in awhile I remembered to breathe.

This is not a spa treatment; this is deep tissue massage with some manipulation and prescribed follow up exercises.  This is part of the self care I must pursue in order to live the best life I can with M.E.  My medical insurance covers part of it, thankfully.  I'm still in pain but I think this treatment is helping and I will improve.

In the meantime, it's Sophie's turn for medical intervention.  She has been peeing in places she is not supposed to and I suspect a bladder or urinary tract infection.  Actually I really hope it is one because if this is psychological I am in big trouble.

In order to cope with getting out on a trip to the vet and a quick stop at the grocery store if I can manage it, I've dressed in bright pink and jaunty stripes.  I love these trousers but I have to admit they aren't the most flattering from the back view, making my minimal posterior look a bit flat, an image I've decided not to put on the internet because I may be tired but I'm not stupid. 

 Oh look, the bangs are nice today but what are those bits sticking up like my name should be Cindy-Lou-Who.

When those errands are over I shall be crawling back into bed- my bed that is in the middle of the room because of the painting project I've started and which will take me forever and a day.

Oh well.  Life goes on, doesn't it?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Old and New

This photo is twenty years old.  My son is only about six weeks old here and I am 27.  I was still carrying unwanted pregnancy weight but I remember that I loved these clothing pieces, a blue broomstick skirt and a white peasant style blouse.  More than the love of my clothing though, this photo is a visual reminder (not that I need one) of how precious my son is to me and how in some ways he will always be my baby.  I have promised never to call him that in public.

So this photo above has the old me, and the new son.  Or, if you like, because I am so young here you could say this is the new me and now we are going to look at the old me..... don't know what is going on with my bangs there.  That was not a style choice on my part.

Here I am  road testing a new to me outfit.  This is not as impractical an outfit for going to a massage appointment as it first appears.  My wrinkle prone and lint collecting  black cotton Jones New York dress buttons up the front so it's easily removed rather like a coat.  Given that I am not the same size on top as I am on bottom and this dress is sized for bottom, I can't actually button it all the way up so it requires a tee shirt underneath.  In the middle of our warm summer weather we are having a day of grey skies and cool temperatures so it just seemed right to add the black leggings.

Amazingly it also seems right to belt the waist in this case and so far I am tolerating it.  Another feature of this dress which is an unusual choice for me is the collar.  But the dress fits well and the belt loops are actually in the right spot and the collar is away from my neck where it would normally irritate me because of the open buttons. Given the fit and that fact that I just darn well like it, I might be able to forgive the wrinkles and lint.  I think that if I can find some coloured leggings I could have fun with this.

I haven't mentioned anything about the shoes yet, but they are also a recent find at my favourite consignment shop.  I adore mary-janes and have many variations on that style.  With a regular width toe and narrow heel I have difficulties keeping shoes on my feet so I favour boots or shoes with straps, breaking that rule of not chopping up the leg line .  The shoes are Hush Puppies and very comfortable, with a bit of white stitching detail on them and a wedge heel.  I like a cute shoe that I could potentially run in and these meet the criteria, so I'm linking up to Sheila's Shoe Shine

Friday, 18 July 2014

I've Got The Blues.......

 But fortunately only in my wardrobe.  Lots of blues, mostly in navy, indigo and cobalt shades, plain and patterned.  Blue is my favourite neutral for summer.  I know technically it isn't a neutral but what doesn't go with navy or denim?  This post was originally going to be a rant against sparkle, but then the damn sparkly bits refused to show up in photos.

I am not a big fan of sparkle.  Or at least not on myself.  Even my jewelry choices reflect that as I love aged or matte metals, unpolished stones and the next man who proposes to me should not do so with a diamond.  I tend to pick sequins off clothing and avoid items with metallic threads.  I also avoid items with glued on sparkly bits, crystal embellishments I suppose they are.  BUT recently I bought two items that are sparkle-adorned.  I'm sure it would be considered minimal by any sparkle connoisseurs out there but I did briefly consider removing them and then decided not to mostly out of concern for causing damage to the fabric.  I confess I will not be terribly disappointed if they come off over time or dissolve in the wash.

The first sparkly item is this adorable denim vest, or waistcoat as my British friends would say. The sparkles don't show up at a distance in the photos but even a close up barely captures them.

Sophie approves of the vest and has given it a taste test just to make sure.

And again, though it doesn't show up in this photo, this top has little crystals glued all over the chest area and I would prefer that it didn't. I don't think I need to highlight my chest in such a way but I love the pattern in the fabric. I doubt I could remove the crystals without damage to the delicate fabric. Have any of you ever done so?  Or perhaps what I need is for someone to tell me what not to do in order to preserve my crystals and then I can go ahead and do it.  I always enjoy being contrary.

I took these glowing white legs for a walk with my son last night.  First he came over for a haircut and I asked for his help in pulling my very heavy bed into the middle of my room.  I am in the process of painting the room and I'm sure it will take me at least a week.  Then we went out for some ice cream and a walk around the air park.  I was too busy being happy to have an outing with my son to remember to take my camera. 

Final note:  That pose in the last picture is rather like how I actually tend to stand, minus the hand on hip.  My ex complained about it and said I was always tripping him.  Yes, how dare I take up all that space!  As you can see, I got rid of the man and not my stance.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Pens as per Ally's Request

Pens; I must say I rather love them.  I remember when I was nine and anticipating beginning grade four, the year we were allowed to use a pen for our school work and not just that pencil which everyone knows is for babies.  I went shopping for school supplies with my mum and I remember picking out my pen.  It was dark green and although plastic, styled to look like a pen of the sort one would have dipped into an ink well. Mum explained those to me and that she had used them in school at my age. That was the beginning of my love for pens and although I don't require fancy or expensive pens, what I write with does matter to me and I do love to write in notebooks with a pen.  I favour black ink for regular use but purple is rather divine when I am in the mood.  Blue ink seems too ordinary to me and of course red is too school teacher!  Green is more difficult to read though I will sometimes use it.

I also prefer a fine point, a very smooth ink that comes off the roller ball almost like a felt tip pen.  Thus one of my favourite pens is a bit prone to making blotches on my bedding and explains why my once white duvet cover is now dyed purple.  I'm sure I am happier with it purple anyhow.   To avoid pen mishaps in my bed and in my purse, I have some which are a little less bleedy. There are pens in my bedside table, pens in a basket I keep beside my bed and pens in my carrying case which I keep tucked into my travelling writer's bag. I have my preferred fine black pens in the case and some coloured ones for fun.

And then there are my drawing pens, the ones I use for my version of the popular Zentangle.  I enjoy drawing Zentangles or similar such doodles but I am rather incapable of symmetry, straight lines or anything well measured.  Precise, I am not.  It has been an exercise in letting go of the quest for perfection, since I am so admiring of people who can draw detailed line drawings with what looks like computer-generated precision.  I used to be somewhat peeved by the trendy term "organically shaped" used for curves, wavy lines and asymmetrical things, as though nature is incapable of creating a perfectly straight line or symmetry.  We  know that's not true.  Now I am considering embracing the term and calling my drawing style organic.

Anyhow, I digress from the topic as usual, though what could be more 'organic' than to progress from pens to what I create with them?  These are doodles in my doodle notebook, no plan, no pressure to be perfect.  Here I just enjoy making lines and sometimes I add colour.  I like the Sakura Gelly Roll pens for colour, as they are brightly pigmented and very smooth.

Do you have any favourite pens?  Any favourite ink colours?

Note:  I have linked to brands but there is no compensation involved here. I'm just sharing what I like and what I select from the selection available to me.

Pens for Writing:

The Write Dudes, ultra fine in black and assorted colours
Uniball Vision , fine black ( I don't think I've met a Uniball pen I didn't like but these are inexpensive so are my typical choice )
Bic GripRoller, fine black

Pens for Doodling:

Sakura Gelly Roll, assorted colours
Artist's Loft Illustration Pens
Uniball, Vision-as above
Pigma Micron

PS.  Is anyone else finding Bloglovin' acting strangely again?  I get posts from days ago suddenly showing up for the first time. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Thank You, Friends. Here's a Cat in Gratitude

Thank you my dear blogging friends, for reading and leaving such well considered comments on my recent blog post about M.E.  In thanks I offer up a picture of one of my latest dress purchases (probably supposed to be a maxi but not on me of course.  I confess to buying an identical one in red and making myself leave the blue one behind.)  And more importantly, cute cat pics!

I was so hot I found even the one necklace I put on felt as though it added to the heat so I took it off.  Hmm..could this slouching I am doing be the cause of all my illness?  Or wait, no, perhaps I am really hot and tired!

Here is my darling naughty Sophie 'helping' me as I do paper and computer work. She is keeping the books in line, wrestling them into submission as they are known to get a bit out of control.

Sophie's Advice for Living Well:
When the playing is done and you are all tired out just rest your weary bones awhile.  Lean on those books you previously wrestled.

And then sleep. 

Monday, 14 July 2014

A Skeptic with M.E.

I am skeptical about pretty much everything there is to be skeptical about.  It is my instinct to want proof, plenty of evidence, scientific rigour and for a hypothesis to at least become a working theory.  The scientific definition of theory is not the same as the lay usage of the term and in science anything called a theory is accepted as true.  I invite you to consider the theory of gravity. I am not inclined to magical thinking, though I am not immune to it and from what I have read on the human brain, I would not be human if I were.  Magical thinking is a very human trait but the human brain has also evolved the ability to be skeptical, thankfully.  You'll notice I'm not thanking any gods for that.

Skepticism and magical thinking are both most likely to be applied in the realms of religion and medicine.  Religion is not much a part of my life but medicine is in the sense that I live with a chronic illness and have lived with it for most of my life.  Unfortunately it is an illness about which not much is known and this leaves it open to the many ideas of those who find alternative medicine appealing.  If I only had a dollar (that's the inflationary version of the old saying) for every time someone I've met is convinced that some juice, royal jelly, herb or vitamin will cure me.  In fact I'd need that dollar to be paid out because alternative medicine is expensive.  I could spend millions trying out all the possible cures, non of which have ever been found to permanently cure anyone of M.E. and many of which have not actually been scientifically proven to cure anyone of anything, other than some of the obvious things like if you have scurvy try taking some vitamin C.

Scurvy has been ruled out in my case, but a few years ago I had to break up with my massage therapist because she began selling some miracle purple juice concentrate.  She was convinced it had restored her to her natural level of energy and vibrancy and that it would do wonders for me too.  I am quite capable of saying no, but it can still get awkward.  The response of someone who truly believes in their medicinal magic cure is generally that if you are refusing to try it you clearly don't really want to get well.  I am a very patient person but this tries my patience.

After that month of horrible headaches I recently suffered, I saw my doctor who confirmed what I suspected, which was that my neck and shoulders were really tightly locked up.  I am quite prone to that and it had gotten so bad that it was causing pain all the way up through my head.  I went for therapeutic deep tissue massage, the kind that really hurts, and after a couple of rounds of that it released the tension and successfully brought me back to my normal level of headaches.  I will continue to go for maintenance massages to help, along with some gentle stretches and exercises for my neck and shoulders, but I once again have had to deal with a massage therapist who wants to suggest alternative therapies to me to treat my M.E.  Have I tried alkaline water, Traditional Chinese Medicine, or meditation?  No, no and yes.  I politely listened to the long list of treatments I might consider, the books I might want to read and the things I may wish to eat or drink in order to obtain my optimum level of health.  I am good at politely listening, smiling, saying 'oh well isn't that interesting', and then doing exactly as I please.  As a massage therapist he is excellent. I think that people who work in the field of helping and healing want to do everything they can to help so they make suggestions about things they think might work and they step a little beyond their realm of expertise.

But I have an excellent doctor whom I trust, who wants me to be well, does not benefit in any way from  my not being so, and who would not discourage me from anything where there is evidence it could improve my health.  He does not prescribe a long list of pharmaceuticals as there is little there which can help me either, other than a few things to address some symptoms, so it's not a matter of his being involved in a certain system and supporting Big Pharma.  In fact he is very reluctant to prescribe things so I feel quite certain that what I do take is well considered.  I have troubles with sleep but I am not prescribed any sleeping meds and I have pain but I keep the pain medication minimal too and stick to over the counter medications to moderate it.  Such decisions are personal decisions to be made between patient and doctor and may not be the same for every case of M.E.

I am not skeptical about there being ways in which I can adjust my life style, my self care, my diet or sleep habits.  In fact, what is known of M.E. is that the most effective way of living with it is lifestyle management.  That doesn't mean the same things that a person without M.E. might do will always work for me, and in fact most levels of exercise except for mild to moderate, are detrimental to someone with M.E. I'm sure you can imagine how I feel about the "helpful" advice I sometimes receive from well meaning people who suggest that I need to exercise more or that my problems stem from not being fit, as opposed to understanding that my not being fit is a result of the M.E.  

I don't wish to rant forever, but sometimes I write about M.E. because what I do wish to do is help people to understand what M.E. is and improve understanding of it so people with M.E. can achieve the same level of understanding from the general public as people living with MS.  I wish to offer my own experiences as support to people who may be suffering from M.E. themselves and who may read this.

Below is an excerpt from the website of The ME Association, which is UK based.  Source Here

Main Symptoms of CFS/M.E.

  • Muscle symptoms include exercise intolerance and post-exertional malaise (i.e. feeling shattered the day after undue physical activity), pain/myalgia (present in around 75% of people) and fasciculations (visible twitching of the muscles which sometimes includes blepharospasm/eyelid twitching).
  • Brain and Central Nervous System symptoms include cognitive dysfunction (problems with short-term memory, concentration and maintaining attention), clumsiness, disequilibrium likened to ‘walking on rubber’, and word finding abilities. Problems with control of the autonomic nervous system results in palpitations, sweating episodes and symptoms associated with low blood pressure/postural hypotension (e.g. fainting).
  • Symptoms which suggest on-going abnormalities in immune system function include sore throats, enlarged glands, joint pains, headaches, problems with temperature control and intermittent flu-like feelings.
  • Other symptoms which frequently occur in ME/CFS include sleep disturbances (often increased requirements at the onset followed by an inability to maintain a full night’s sleep), alcohol intolerance (a very characteristic feature, particularly in the early period of illness) and irritable bowel symptomatology.
  • Some people also develop emotional lability or mood swings and features of clinical depression as time goes on.
ME/CFS symptoms tend to fluctuate in severity throughout the course of a day and people often report that they have both ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’, although the term ‘good’ is often used in a relative sense. The illness nearly always results in a severe reduction in a person’s ability to cope with all aspects of normal daily living (i.e. social and sporting activities, employment, household tasks). Relapses or exacerbation are often precipitated by infections, excessive physical or mental stress, general anesthetics and surgical operations, and extremes of temperature.

-End of excerpt

Final Note:

There is a saying that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and I find this to be the case with the so called health information that is disseminated through popular media, particularly in women's magazines.  I flipped through one such magazine at the doctor's office today and came across a blurb that informed readers that studies show slouching causes fatigue and depression so we should all be sure to improve our posture.  What a forehead slapping moment!  As someone who has suffered from both, I can assure anyone who cares to know, that fatigue and depression CAUSE slouching and there seems to be a serious case of confused cause and correlation involved here.  The moment someone advises me that the cure to all that ails me is to start walking around with books on my head to improve my posture, you can be sure I will have a blog post to write!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

She's a Daaaaay Tripper

I love a road trip but lengthy ones are not on for me these days.  A day trip is almost as good and there are plenty of beautiful places on Vancouver Island.  I decided to take a day trip to Qualicum Beach and when I found out that my friend and neighbour, Vera, could use a bit of cheering up and a change of scene, I invited her along.

We had a lovely time and I was a very efficient shopper, cheerfully supporting the Qualicum independent merchants as I scooped up summer dresses on sale and assorted tie-dyed items.  I even bought some locally crafted rings which I fell madly in love with.  Qualicum, a pretty seaside down of a little over 8,500 people, many seniors, is filled with little shops carrying the types of clothing I love most and of which there is next to none in my own town.  Qualicum is not afflicted with Big Box stores, due to its very close proximity to the city of Nanaimo which serves the Big Box shoppers quite thoroughly and is a significant shopping destination for much of Vancouver Island's population living mid and north island.  At forty-five minutes down the highway from Comox, where I live, I could definitely manage a trip there each season for wardrobe rejuvenation.  It is a significant tourist desination so it tends to be feast or famine for these downtown shops, with business being abundant in summer and only a small trickle in winter.

 We also had a lovely lunch and visited two markets, the farmer's market which sets up downtown on Saturdays and the ever present and popular Coombs Country Market, known for its goats on the roof.

The day was also remarkable for the heat!  Thirty-one degrees is a bit much for me, but at least the car has A/C.  My friend is originally from South Africa so she is a little more used to heat than I am, though she did live in London for ten years.  She wore a beautiful dress and looked as fresh as a daisy all day.  The dress I had on before leaving this morning was making a nuisance of itself with the straps constantly falling down my shoulders.  I hastily pulled it off and could not decide what to wear in place of it so finally settled on some loose cotton shorts and a blouse.  I spent the day feeling rather damp, wilted and sticky with sunscreen.

I also had a very severe attack of allergies.  Nothing life threatening, just the most extreme case of streaming eyes and running nose I've ever had.  This lead to a throbbing headache.  Even after I arrived home it took three more hours for the symptoms to taper off and they in fact got worse before getting better.  I tell you this to emphasise that it was actually a lovely trip and thus I was willing to suffer this horrendousness.  We had taken my car but we shared the driving and Vera drove home as by that point I was quite exhausted and visually impaired.   I had brought my camera, water and a large bunch of grapes with me but the only supplies I put to good use were the tissues and painkillers I'd brought.  I know myself well enough to always travel with those.

By now you have a good idea of just how ravishingly attractive I looked and how absolutely fantastic I felt in my own body.  Oops I hear the sarcasm alarm going off.  My physical misery was completely trumped however, by the joys of my purchases, the pleasure of Vera's company and all the pleasant conversations I had with shopkeepers and strangers on the sidewalk.  Vera and I are quite compatible shoppers and she is an easy companion always.  I did have to ignore all the bookshops I passed, which was not a small task for me, but the day was just not long enough to do markets, boutiques and antiques as well as books.   There will be another time.

Here are my non-clothing treasures of the day.  I haven't quite decided where to put the bells permanently so they hang here for now.

I increased my supply of gouache paint  and found a couple of rings I could not pass up, as well as the seastar earrings which are quite representative of my local environment.  Purple or orange seastars abound here.

The whole week is to be has hot as Saturday was, and I don't know what to expect beyond that but I hope it cools down a little.  

Yes, that is a heart-shaped rock my little shiny treasures are sitting on.  It's a battered heart, my favourite of all the heart shaped rocks my ex used to collect and bring home.  It was the only one I felt the need to take with me when I left the marriage and at the time I was only very vaguely aware of the symbolism of that.  I just always felt that I needed to protect that battered heart.