May 12th, 2021 — 7:49pm

Omg omg omg I’m at the train station! My train is an hour late but that’s ok, I’ll just sit in this big old-fashioned station on this long old-fashioned wooden bench (or maybe on the padded seat of my walker) and watch the other travelers. I can hardly believe I’m GOING SOMEWHERE. Finally. I didn’t think I’d still be able to travel by the time it was safe enough to do so. I wish I could just ride trains back and forth across the country forever. I really love train travel. I love it as much as I hate flying, which is a lot.

A southbound train just pulled up and the bell went clang clang clang. Oh that sweet sound.

The ticket man says he’ll help me get to the correct track when the train gets here. People with disabilities — take the train! Make your reservation over the phone. Tell them you need a downstairs bedroom. If you have a wheelchair, ask for an accessible bedroom. Tell them you need help with your luggage. Tell your sleeping car attendent that you’ll need help when you arrive at your destination. They are happy to help! You just need to ask for what you need.

Here’s me right now in the station!

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still alive?!

May 11th, 2021 — 7:03pm

The last time I titled a post “Still Alive” it was to let you know that, even though I hadn’t posted in a long time, I was, indeed, still alive.

Today I’m using the same title but more in a “Wtf? I’m still alive?!?!” sense. If you’ll remember, back in January of 2019 my pulmonologist told me I had a year, maybe two, to live if I didn’t get a lung transplant. After a lot of consideration, and after talking it over with my therapist who works with transplant patients and knows how it goes, I said no thank you — I prefer to live out my days, however brief, without endless tests and operations and stress and even more anxiety, thank you very much.

Well! That was two and a half years ago! I thought Christmas of 2019 might be my last. I thought I wouldn’t see my niece turn 7, or my granddaughter turn 3. Those birthdays have come and gone and we’re rounding the corner on 8 and 4!

My health is degrading, of course. I have ever less energy, need more meds, need more oxygen, can do fewer things. But dammit I am still here! Nearly halfway through 2021 and I can totally imagine seeing next Christmas. (knock on wood)

I survived that subdural hematoma, against the odds. I’ve survived multiple bouts of atrial fibulation. I’ve survived heartbreak. I’ve survived a global pandemic. I’ve survived deep, black, seemingly inescapable episodes of depression.

And. I. Am. Still. Alive.

Hello! Sorry for being so large! Imgur no longer allows me to embed thumbnails. Grrr.

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Baumgartner Restoration

May 10th, 2021 — 2:45pm

Have I mentioned this fantastic YouTube channel before? My son and I LOVE it. Julian Baumgartner is an art restorer. His videos are endlessly fascinating and deeply soothing. Here’s the latest:

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May 10th, 2021 — 11:02am

I feel cheerful today! The birds are singing and the sun is shining. I think it’s really helping my mood that the endless gray gloom is finally gone.

So excited about my upcoming train trip. Ever since February of 2020, when I had the subdural hematoma and BRAIN SURGERY (I still can’t get over the fact that I survived that particular terrifying health crisis. I feel fragile, but apparently I’m tough as an old boot) and then lockdown began while I was getting brain surgery, I’ve only left my room for groceries and therapy appointments. In two days I’ll be on a train seeing something out the window other than a fence and my bird feeder! And then I’ll be with Henry and Jayla and little Lulu (she’ll be 4 in September).

I feel quite safe, covid-wise. Amtrak has a fierce and serious mask policy: if they catch a passenger without a mask, they will eject them from the train and ban them from future travel. No bandanas, no neck gaiters, no masks with mesh or valves. And they have a full fresh-air exchange every 4-5 minutes — that’s the most important safety feature, imho. Plus I’ll be in my own tiny roomette, away from all the other humans.

I’ve already started to pack. I counted out all my medications to be sure I wouldn’t need any refills. To avoid packing fifteen different pill bottles, I put all the morning meds in one bottle and all the evening meds in another. Then I have one more bottle that contains my sildenafil — I take 12 every day so they need their own bottle. I counted out my Remodulin supplies too — I have just enough to get me through my visit with a few days extra just in case.

I think I have enough energy to make something today! What shall I make?

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Bedtime yay!

May 9th, 2021 — 8:55pm

My favorite time of day is bedtime! Hooray for bedtime! I guess I still have a hard time with needing to rest all day, and when it’s officially bedtime i get to rest guilt-free. My bed is so cozy.

Today I got my summer dresses out of the box under my bed and put my flannel pajamas and long-sleeved shirts away. I aired my summer clothes in the sunshine all day so now they smell great. It’s fun swapping clothes with the seasons because I always forget what I’ve got hidden away and it’s a nice surprise to rediscover old favorites!

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favorite food

May 8th, 2021 — 8:13pm

Some people (most people?) like to eat something different for every meal. I like to find one good thing and eat it for every meal. Until I get tired of it and move on to something else. I’m not a huge fan of eating in general, and it’s easier if I don’t need to keep figuring out different meals.

My current lunch/dinner meal is taco salad. I put a layer of corn chips on a small plate with a few spoonfuls of refried beans on top, and nuke till warm. Then add a layer of shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes, minced onion, and a little shredded cheese. Half a lime squeezed over and a drizzle of Cholula sauce. Super delicious and easy. Fairly nutritious. One head of lettuce, one box of tiny tomatoes, one onion, two cans of beans, one bag of shredded cheese, and one bag of limes last for many meals. I eat a yogurt for breakfast (mid-morning) and usually an apple with goat cheese before bed.

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May 7th, 2021 — 10:57pm

Therapy this morning. Therapy day is the best day. Stopped by the library to pick up a book I requested: _Solutions and Other Problems_ by Allie Brosh. So good, already more than halfway through.

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May 6th, 2021 — 10:53pm

Made veggie chicken soup with dumplings. My best dumplings yet, turned out great. Onion, potato, carrot, celery, red bell pepper, garlic, thyme, chicken broth and, though I don’t care for actual chicken in soup, everyone else likes it so I thought I might as well use up two freezer-burned chicken breasts. Dumplings are 1c flour, 2 tsp baking powder, salt, pepper, 1 beaten egg, 1/4c milk, 1 tbsp melted butter. Make a stiff but sticky dough, drop by small spoonfuls (small! they swell!) into gently boiling soup, boil for 18 min with lid on.

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Travel plans!

May 5th, 2021 — 11:06pm

Today I booked a roomette on the Amtrack Coast Starlight Express so I can visit my little boy! And his wife and child too, of course :) Leaving next week, staying for two weeks! Finally, something to look forward to!

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May 4th, 2021 — 7:13pm

Today I felt, I don’t know, better? I didn’t cry at all. I feel lighter. Not in a Pit of Despair. Maybe not exactly cheerful, but heading in that direction. It helps that Spring is finally here, after weeks and weeks of nonstop gray gloom. It was sunny today and yesterday, and warm enough that I can have my window open without needing wool socks and a shawl.

This morning I took Em (niece, age 7) to the craft store for hot glue sticks and air-dry clay. She’s modding a knock-off My Little Pony, clever girl.

Did I mention that we went to the library last week? I got five books, of which three were great and one was readable. Only threw one down in a huff. Lol. Pretty good ratio! The good ones were _The Downstairs Neighbor_ by Helen Cooper, _The Children’s Blizzard_ by Melanie Benjamin, and _A World Beneath the Sands: The Golden Age of Egyptology_ by Toby Wilkinson (not finished with that one yet. It’s dense). I recommend all three!

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Bake off

May 3rd, 2021 — 10:37pm

I absolutely love The Great British Bake Off. I’ve been watching since the first season, when a uk friend recommended it (hi Chris!). I’ve downloaded every season and saved them, and have watched them all a million times. Now that the later seasons are on Netflix (look for “The Great British Baking Show”) those are the seasons I watch most often since it’s so easy and I like to watch on my phone while I fall asleep. However, I thought it was time to work the early seasons into the rotation so last night I plugged my Big Hard Drive of Shows into my laptop and started season one again. All the bakers are so familiar. Hi Edd, hi Jas, hi Miranda, et al! Watching ep 2 now as I drift off to sleep…

god i love bedtime. Hooray for bedtime, all hail bedtime, es lebe bedtime (long live bedtime)

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May 2nd, 2021 — 6:47pm

Yes I use instagram. Yes I know it belongs to Evil Facebook. But instagram makes me happy so OH WELL. I finally got around to sticking a link to my instagram account in the sidebar over there on the right. And here it is, too: @karashallenberg.

Today I visited a fully-vaccinated friend! Can you believe it? First time since lockdown. Sat in a hammock and listened to the birds and looked at the fruit trees and ate a nice home-cooked lunch. Pleasant and no-stress. All worn out now. But it was nice to see another human. I kinda forgot how to do conversation though — not that I’ve ever been good at it, but I’m even worse now, haha.

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Hello May

May 1st, 2021 — 10:29pm

Somehow it’s May already. Watching some Peep Show before bed :)

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That’s about the size of it

April 30th, 2021 — 7:43pm

An old, old favorite

“It’s nice to know that though we’re small there’s always room to grow, and that’s about the size of it!”

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Uk tv

April 29th, 2021 — 7:47pm

You may ask yourself — how does Kara, a Californian, access all those great UK tv shows? There are three super-shady methods that I employ:

  1. Torrents. I belong to a private torrent tracker with draconian rules but great content and torrents that aren’t dead.
  2. A couple of subreddits offer UK tv shows and are very convenient, if you get to them before the links go dead. Search reddit for a show and episode number, e.g. “Sewing Bee s07e01”. Can stream or download. You’ll have the best luck if searching for shows that are currently airing. (This is the easiest option for the non-technologically inclined)
  3. A DNS proxy. I pay about $6/month for a service that makes it appear that I’m in the UK, so I can watch the MOUNTAINS of streamable content on the iPlayer, channel 4, and ITV. (In the olden days, a VPN did the trick but the hosts got wise to that trick)

I only cried once today so far.

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April 28th, 2021 — 5:41pm

i keep bursting into tears for no reason. everything is impossibly difficult. therapy appointment with lovely suzanne on friday, just need to hang on till then, just two more nights WHY AM I LIKE THIS

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April 27th, 2021 — 9:47pm

Here’s a cool thing that Henry found on bandcamp — a recording of choral piece my dad wrote in 1967, performed by the New Music Choral Ensemble and conducted by Dad’s dear friend Kenneth Gaburo. I remember visiting him when I was little.

P.S. it’s a setting of a poem by Walt Whitman

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Tiny Suit

April 26th, 2021 — 8:12pm

Feeling a little better today. I finished sewing a Tiny Red Suit for Granddaughter #2 (due in August). It’s annoying and frustrating not to have enough energy to sew a whole project in one session — this one took four days, a little each day — but at least I can still make things if I take enough time. 

handmade red baby suit with yellow snaps

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And again

April 25th, 2021 — 5:40pm

Hideously tired. Doing nothing. Watching Line of Duty and waiting for bedtime.

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April 24th, 2021 — 9:25pm

Tired from my library visit yesterday. Did a tiny bit of sewing, a tiny bit of knitting, a lot of reading.

Re-watching series 3 of Line of Duty, a really excellent British cop drama.

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