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During my adult lifetime, I have been everything from a size 6 to a size 22.  After years of up and down and not liking crowded closets, I have settled on having rubbermaids labeled 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and I used to have 18, but I got rid of it last year.  For ever!!!

While I have not gotten back to my weight lifting and aerobic exercise routine I had before my heart problems came up, I am serious about how I eat.  After open heart surgery, I found out I was one of the 26.9 % of people who develop Type II diabetes.  During 2009, I laid off of sweets, to a large degree, and went even lower on salt than I already was.  I cut out red meat, for the most part.  My doctor told me that it will not kill me to eat a piece of cake for my birthday and I have occasionally done so.  Did I mention that I have three official birthdays a year?

Salad for breakfast

In the beginning vegan diet, there was salad to eat. I was hungry 24/7 and now salad is but one part of my diet

Then, I found out that my heart surgery had failed and I had 70% blockage in a vein at the entry point to my heart. I am no longer a candidate for further open heart surgery, so I decided to go vegan.

First, let me say, in no way has this been an easy battle.  The first two months of a plant based diet seemed to be the magical formula.  I lost two pounds a week, but was continually hungry and never satisfied.  It’s the same plant based, no oil diet that President Clinton went on after his heart problem.  Only thing is, I do not have a chef to make the food taste good and the creator of the diet has the wierdest taste buds on earth.  He puts sweet potatoes or sweet squash in everything, along with about 26 more ingrediants) and frankly only sweet and sour chicken is a sweet/sour mix I like.

I am now eating Vegetarian and hoping to work my way back to Vegan.  With the help of three cholesterol busters (medications) and my no meat diet (and there is the very, very occasional hamburger out) I have reduced my clogging from 70% to 50%. You can do that.

Now, if I can just get my body back on the treadmill and weight bench, I can maybe get some of those rubbermaids emptied out to Good Will.

Bon Appetite!

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Here’s the deal.  Things are tough for a lot of people and we happen to fall in that category.

Disabled husband hasn’t had a raise in social security for the twenty-two years he has been considered permanently disabled.  Raises in Medicare or our personal insurance have always eaten them up.

He smoked for one month, as a teen, but his lungs (and apparently several people in his family have problems) are shot.  He has COPD; with emphysema and chronic bronchitis.  His body also produces way too many histamines, so he has reactions to many things everything.

We had put off going to the food bank as long as we could, but with Thanksgiving this month, it was time.

What I didn’t expect was my reaction to going to the food bank.

I read the article in the paper wrong, first.  So, we went during the two hours they were closed.  The doors were open so I thought I could get the paperwork to fill out at home and come back.

So, instead of thirty-five people going through a line of “take one from shelf A, two from shelf B, etc. the woman had me sign a paper that our
income fit the Federal criteria, which it definitely does, and then she handed us a bag for food.  Then, a box and some more bags as we threaded through the food shelf maze.

I was fine until she handed me a frozen turkey, I just broke out in tears.  A grown woman, crying over a frozen turkey.

I don’t know why?  I guess relief that we would be able to have a normal Thanksgiving for our boys, but, then I also cry at all of CNN’s reports of people who make a difference.

Things I have learned about food banks:

1.    The people who work at them really care.  Sometimes, it is hard to believe that anyone  cares, but they do.

2.    They are making the best of the world that they can.  They run around and gather canned goods and  whatever else local businesses will spare.   They are so grateful for the donation of a freezer, they want our 19 year old to be sure and have a Christmas gift.   They care that we have warm coats and chairs to sit on.

3.    But, if I ever get wealthy, I’m making some specific donations that are along the line of if you teach a man to fish, only this is  if you give him food to cook, he can serve more meals at home.

4.    Things you don’t see at the food bank are staples of cooking:

a.    Flour
b.    Sugar
c.    Butter/margarine
d.   Spices
e.    Cheese: although we did get an industrial sized jalapeno cheese that has our nineteen year old eating nothing but tortilla chips and cheese this week. And, I do know that cheese is not generally considered a staple.
f.    Ground Turkey would be a good alternative for meat.
g.    Eggs
h.   Oats

But, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for these wonderful people who go out of their way for others.

P.S. I am still working on my vegan diet. I have some wheat flour left and picked up some black beans for black bean burgers, and I’m searching for new recipes for all the other beans I have collected.

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I usually have pretty good instincts. It’s when I ignore that little voice that I get into trouble.

Andy Rooney said something like,

I wish there was something you could take to stop you from doing stupid things.

Well, I wish I could have taken it on Friday because I did that “stupid thing.” As with a lot of you out there, our money is really tight. We’ve even taken to getting meals and some groceries from a local food bank.

I got out my tin of pennies and decided to turn them in. We have a car to pay Indiana’s ridiculous license plate fees on this month. The bank with the coin counter is about twenty miles up a road we rarely go up. There is the price of gas to consider there. I was not going to buy coin sleeves. I don’t think the bank gives them away but I did not ask. I decided to use the Coinstar machine at Walmart.

When you pour your pennies in, and it goes up to $22.16, the machine says, “My, you have a lot of coins.” It did not add, “And, I’ve got a way to scam you so I get all of them, instead of the $2. 16 fee. We rarely eat out anymore. When we do it is the $4.00 meal at Steak N Shake or the $1.00 menu at McDonald’s. If Jacob is playing at Muddy Boots, sometimes we sit with water and once in a while we split a meal.

So, when the evil change machine offered me double my money by giving me restaurant coupons.  I did debate it. Outside of Walmarts was a Steak N Shake, White Castle, something else and a steak house. Surely with over 600,000 restaurants, there was something I could afford.

With a great deal of trepidation, that I ignored like an idiot, I pushed the Restaurant Certificate button.

DO NOT PUSH THE RESTAURANT CERTIFICATE BUTTON.

Just go ahead and pay the $2.16 fee. When you push the Restaurant certificate button, you go home with a slip that says NOT VALID FOR CASH, and that’s all you go home with.

In my search on their http://coinstar.Restaurant.com site, you can search alphabetically or by mileage. Within 15 miles of my home, was 1 restaurant. Opps! Have to buy a $45 dinner to use the certificate. Now, I think that would mean only paying $20, with a $25 certificate. It was for an East Indian restaurant. Could be doable.

Let’s try 30 miles, since they gave me Indianapolis restaurants, closer to 45 miles away. I guess that’s it. Under A’s one restaurant was listed 4 times and there was a second restaurant. So, two A’s. It went like that through the alphabet, other than letters like Q, X, Y, Z which had none. Many meals are pay $75 before using your coupon. Definitely NOT doable.

I had not heard of one of these but I did see a spot that said,

“What do you do if you have your certificate and the restaurant is closed?”

Enough said.

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Martha Southgate author of “The Taste of Salt” was complaining about the movie “The Maid” on CNN.   Then, on comes one of the actresses and says something like, that she had to debate doing the movie because she had trouble with doing a part (that of the maid in 2011), that being a maid is demeaning.

Now, don’t shoot me if I misunderstood because far be it for me to get anything wrong and run with it, but I’m not about to stop now.

EXCUSE ME!?!

Is being a ditch digger demeaning?  Is it more demeaning to be a lawyer than a doctor or a babysitter than a waitress?

Were these maids possibly treated in a demeaning manner?  HELL YES!

But, were they also doing an honest day’s work for less than an honest days wage to feed their families?  HELL YES!!

No matter what society you live in, you do the best you can with what you are given.

I grew up in the 50s, in a household that did not believe that women should go to college.  Women  were to be taken care of, (all the while they are cleaning the toilets, that  is.)  Did I finally get my butt through  college?  Yes, I did.  Did I pick the best vocation for the    money?  Well, no!

I started off in pre-law.   Made straight A’s and thought about doing something, other than being a  lawyer in this vein.  Then, I got a  divorce and needed to work to support my girls.  So, I became a legal secretary.   It was there, I was good at it and it was a wage.  I never once thought about it being demeaning  to be a secretary rather than a lawyer.

I have, however, been treated in a VERY demeaning manner by bosses, and then I have had other bosses who treated me like family.

In the end, I’m an artist and there is definitely a reason  why they call it us “Starving artists.”   I have my hand in about five separate ways to
make a living.  I get $200 here and $20 there.  I don’t care if I paint toilets,      there is nothing about working any job that is demeaning.

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Where is my head lately?

I have forgotten everything I used to know.  Two years of pre-law, two years as a law clerk, probably around 14 years as a legal secretary and dummy me, writes that we can actually sue some arm of the government: I was going for the whole shebang here.

It was the thought of all those $35 overdraft charges that had me panicked.  All those things that debit out of the money that is supposed to be deposited on the third.  When you live on Social Security, there is no extra in there to cover next month.

I was delusional.  High on fear.

IDIOT:  You can’t sue the government.  Well, not without their permission anyway and like, “THAT’s going to happen.”

Oh, well, it’s nearly over.  The wealthy still get the tax breaks.  I still have nothing to get a break on.

Life stays the same and I can move on to something, perhaps, more fun to blog about.

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69.8 million families, in this United States, live on Social Security and/or Federal Pension.  Those checks cover anywhere from one to —— people/adults and children in a family.

IF OUR government cannot get its act together, 69.8 million families will not get a check (and that includes the military) on the Third of August.  What will happen????

1. First, no direct deposit or card to pay that money.

2. No deposit, EQUALS, no money to pay the mortgage, utilities, doctors, gasoline, car repairs, house repairs, food, school clothing, book rental.  For one month, we will sit in our HOT homes (my husband has COPD and by the end of the month will most likely be in the hospital.) opening bank statement overdraft fees, and mortgage late payments, and, after the freezer is all melted, canned goods.  Not to speak of the student loan that I could not cancel the automatic withdrawal on in time.  That would certainly rank under the mortgage, if I could have.

3.  The end of the month will see us walking three miles away to have a free dinner at Mother’s Cupboard, well some of us.  My husband could not walk that length even in 70 degree weather.

4.  I will cancel the MRI for my possible crushed disc, in my back that is causing intense cyatic pain.

5.  We will not order medicine that we run out of.

6.  We already cancelled our land line but have a contract on the cell, so I guess they just turn it off without payment, but you still owe it.

7. What happens to your health and life insurance premiums?  I think I have two months before I am in default and lose my health insurance.

8.  Our income is already under $20,000 a year.  We have a nineteen year old with one more semester of high school, long story, he wasn’t being homeschooled when we took him, so he had problems.  One boy was just deployed to Afghanistan and one boy is working in food service and paying his own student loans and gas and food bills.

9.  Just wanted to give you a taste of our world.

MY PROPOSAL:

Every single one of those families need to write to every Congressman, senator, tea party, republican and democrat and send them a bill for the actual and mental damages when this happens.  Maybe that will wake them up.  Do you know a good Class Action lawyer?

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Ah, for the good old days.  You know, a simpler, gentler time when pulling your best friend’s hair at the dinner party was considered rude, and your mother always reminded you to stand up straight.

I came of age during the Leave it to Beaver era.  I never wore pearls or high heels while housecleaning.  What I did do, was try to be polite to other people and manage not to deck they during a dinner party.  I still remind myself to straighten my posture.  I rarely have to remind myself not to hit my best friend.

I am not a big fan of “bad girls” nor “Big haired girls from New Jersey.”  In fact, I am so much not a fan that I have no idea what the correct names of those shows are, but I’m talking about bad housewives too here.  I lean more toward crime shows, Law & Order and it’s varients.  Where the enemy is some ‘unsub.’  It’s certainly not gentler but you know the enemy and he has not usually been your best friend for twenty years.

I do not understand what America’s fascination is with watching obnoxious people berate their friends, fight at parties and be generally obnoxious.  Does it make all of us feel better that we would never treat our friends like that?  Or maybe just remind us how lucky we are that we have had friends for thirty years with whom we have never had an angry word, so we have to watch trainwrecks to see what that is like.

And, while we are on it, I would like to know just exactly what is it with the way these women stand?  These photos were courtesy of the television station’s website, which I looked up days ago and now don’t remember.

Okay, I get that short tight skirts are sexy.  Off topic, I will never understand what the attraction is with these shoes though.  I really do think they are just really butt ugly.  I cannot see one thing sexy about them.  They make you look like your feet are bandaged.

Several of the girls are standing in a manner that makes it look like they have to run to the bathroom.  Otherwise, this picture doesn’t show the ultimate “Bad Girl” stance.  The object of which is::::::::::

To throw your boobs out and enhance your butt.

In my day, you stuffed your bra with kleenex if you wanted to enhance your boobs and no one that I knew wanted to make their butt’s look bigger, so that was not an issue.  Nothing explains these shoes.  Bondage maybe????

I see one commercial for one of these shows, in which the girl sort of does the above stance and then another move and throws her boobs one way and her butt another and I’m thinking there is a whole generation of women whose backs will be so damaged by striking this pose that, by the time she is 50, she won’t be able to walk at all.

Is there really any man who finds this sexy???  I suppose there is something for everyone, so there is, but I would love to know if there is actually a man who thinks these shoes are sexy; pose or no pose.

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It has been a busy week; a tiring week; an exhausting week.

On June 26th, Sunday, we held a (F)UN birthday party to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday.  Her birthday is actually in January but no one wants to travel in January.  It was quite a success, with my sister flying in from Arizona, my neice and two daughters driving down from Michigan, my daughter from South Bend, along with one of her sons and his adorable girlfriend, and nephew and his fantastically funny wife coming down from Wisconsin.  The rest were from all over Indiana.  Mom was dully surprised.  When daughter brought her down from her apartment, to the building’s common room, she couldn’t figure out why I was taking a picture of her and who was that woman who looked like her granddaughter standing next to me also taking her picture, until she realized it WAS her granddaughter from Michigan.

Picture of my daughter, mom, greatgrandson and his girlfriend.

It was fun watching her wheeling around in her power chair going “Oh, you too!” as she spotted her sister-in-law, sister, and old friends.  Some of the food (mostly that made by my husband) was a big hit.  My potato salad needed doctoring.  The cake from Sam’s club was great.  People didn’t just eat and leave and that made it nice to talk with everyone.

Sheryl, Mom and sister, Eve.

Sheryl, Mom and sister, Eve.

I, and my daughter from So. Bend, had been planning the party for three months.  We even had blue grass music compliments of Dan Cantwell, of Travis Creek Band, from Nashville, Indiana and our boy, Jacob Wells, who sings with the band occasionally and threw in some country music. My family is an artistic family and used to my uncle playing guitar in the background, so it reminded the relatives of him. I have movies of Dan and Jacob up on Youtube. My Youtube name is SAVanVleck. You could also search for Jacob Wells. He gets good feedback on his singing. I’m trying to link it but ……. haven’t got that down.  I think I have to upgrade to link a movie?

I would love to say that the band in front of the window was a wonderful cinematic affect, but I’m afraid the shaky camerawork and the one place of missed lyrics will make that a true lie.  I plan on rerecording this song when I can and have my tripod with.  I am afraid I am developing a family tremor.  I used to shoot 35 mm photos at f-stop15 with nary a shake, now I can’t hold it still at any speed.

Now, the bad of the week: A few days before the party we found out that my mom is in Stage 3 heart failure. With that, and other problems, the doctor has decided to have Hospice come out to her apartment. It is really a blessing. It will help ensure she is getting the best of care and take a load off of me. I suspected last month, as I purchased only a small amount of food for her that she wasn’t eating right. This month, it didn’t seem as if she was eating at all. Turns out, she is too tired to eat and they will figure out what to do about this, and send people out to help her with her personal needs and her house cleaning needs.

Today, when I went to her apartment to give her a shot (of blood thinner) and take her for blood work and meet her new Hospice nurse, she met me with: “I’m not stupid.” I told her I knew that and asked what was wrong. She decided that she only had six months to live and I was trying to hide it from her and that was why we had the party and Hospice coming out. While it is true she could only have six months, it is also true that she could have only one week or she could have two years, and we started planning the party months before I found out. I think she finally believes me but I am pretty sure that I will have to settle the matter several more times before she moves on to something else.

I have always wondered at older people saying they have no one left alive (no mate, no children, no friends) and so they are ready to die. I miss people who have died, but I do feel that life is a blessing to be lived to the fullest. Yet now, as I look at the photo of my dad’s family that I posted two months ago and realize that there are only two people left alive in that picture: my cousin, Richard and my sister, Evelyn. There is something that sets you adrift when you realize you are so close to being that alone. I mean, I have a family other than dad’s family; husband, daughter, grandsons, but not so many of those people who were there when I was born. It’s just strange.

I’m limping from sciatic nerve  leg pain, tired from everything, including taking steroids for the leg,  and probably boring, but meeting all the Hospice people makes it all so real.  Thanks for listening.

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I have trouble sleeping.  Not just sleeping, but also staying awake.  At times, I fall asleep with my head on my keyboard.  I usually fall asleep in moving cars (fortunately only once while I was driving), and I tend to doze off when visiting people or sitting.  The only time I don’t fall asleep is at night. 

Since my mother, age 88, has always gone to bed around four am and gotten up around six, I think this may be something in our DNA.   She has been observed falling asleep twice while standing.  Perhaps we were the watchmen/women for the tribe of cavemen we belonged to.  It was up to us to keep sabre tooth tigers at bay.  Now, all it gets me is angry snorts from the dog, who also refuses to move over when I finally am ready to sleep. 

I was recently put on a CPap machine.  (Officially, I wake up 7 1/2 times an hour and 80 times during REM sleep.  And, we wondered why I remembered my strange dreams so well!)  The machine really worked for about two days.  Then, I turned the heat up for the water a notch and slept great for about four days.  I’m up to five on the heated water thing and am thinking by 10 maybe it will just boil my lungs and I can sleep. 

Anyway, here I sit, having reformatted my computer yesterday and with barely anything on it, but the internet, and I am learning so much.  What did you learn, you ask!  Oh, come on, pretend you care even a little bit.

  1. There is a reason people find these cute names for their blogs.  Anyone who uses their real name eliminates all the fodder that their family gives them for blogging.  I mean, when you name it Braindebris, you don’t have to tell anyone who Braindebris is (It’s my daughter by the way, but don’t tell anyone.)  But, naming your blog savanvleck, kind of ruins the anonimity you want for telling on your relatives.
  2. This is for the times when you realize that Facebook has educated you to the fact that you are staunchly liberal and the rest of your family loves Sarah Palin, and that if your sister asks you one more time, to declare your love for something, you are going to…..  Frankly, I think I am exempt because I, obviously, was stolen from the Gypsies as a child. 
  3. Why can’t we have two Facebooks.  One for people who want to stay in touch with other people and see pictures of their children and another for people who are looking for radishes for their imaginary farm?
  4. When you format your computer (and since I have done this like every three months this year, I should have known this, but, when you do, you lose your favorites and stay up till 3am searching for things like, “Librarian+Seattle+Blog” to try and replace the bloggers who must be your real family because they laugh at the same things you do. 
  5. Of course, since it is 3:00am, after you have spent three hours searching, you realize that you blogged about the science teacher who blogs a fascinating science fact every day (Mr. Barlow’s Blog) and have a link in your own blog to him.  I imagine I might have realized that sooner at 3:pm. 
  6. My computer, a Dell Inspiron 1545 (who before I trash talk Dell, I will say, has the most awesome customer service on the face of the earth) has many flaws.  See numerous previous posts for those rantings.  But, the most irritating one I was left with (warranty is now up) is that I type over 100 wpm and for some reason the cursor jumps around all on it’s own.  So, I will be typing away and realize that the cursor is now two lines above where it was and I am typing stuff in the middle of another sentence.  Well, this format I did the smart thing and I downloaded new drivers for the touchpad, first thing.  It has not done the jumping around thing all day.  Fingers crossed!
  7. That I still do not remember how to post links well on WordPress.
  8. Well, folks, that wonderful little pill I took two hours ago is starting to work.  I guess it is time to fight the Chihuahua for the bed.  Sweet dreams in your REM sleep. 

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Every time something bad would happen, when I was a girl and mostly in school, I would come home and complain to mom and she would tell me, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” 

Frankly, it did not make me feel one whit better.  Not one.  And, I mumbled all evening about a God who has nothing better to do than to screw up my life.  Couldn’t he feed one of those starving children that I was so diligently cleaning my plate for, to make sure they got enough to eat?

There was another premise that did not make a lot of sense to me.  It went right along with how much protection I thought I got hiding under my wooden desk from an atomic bomb attack. 

While attending Casper College, in Casper, Wyoming, I studied under and with Lynn Munns.  Lynn became a great friend and fantastic mentor and, excuse me if you have heard this before.  I used to just not “get” modern art but something made it all snap into place for me and Lynn made the statement about this phenomena, that you may see or hear something a thousand times but you need to be in just the right place for it to snap into place.  He was so right.

Which was just a huge, no humongous build up to a very small story.  I was reminded of it by scratches on a scrap of paper but I read Crazy Aunt Purl = via Crazy Aunt Purl,  titled: You Got My Attention with your Big Orange Sticker and finally remembered to blog the story.  Check it out.

The poor State of Indiana got my attention, but it was with a small paper orange sticker, stuck ceremoniously on top of a sign warning travelers, going probably 50 mph, of upcoming road construction.  Some states have huge bright lights that shine in your eyes.  Others flashing, spinning orange ones.  Indiana had taken three post-it notes and mounted them on a wire above the sign.  The orange notes spun around the wire and made a truly impressive warning sign.  NOT!

Guess, God and construction workers work in mysterious ways, or I just was not in the right place to see the brilliance of it all.

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