feeling a little better

December 18th, 2014 — 11:40am

I felt well enough to go to the doctor today. How stupid does that sound? But it’s true, I was too sick to go to the doctor until a few days ago. This is the 16th day of sore throat and cough, which is a little better every day but still very bothersome. She says it’s maybe the flu, or maybe not, but whatever it is hit me really hard because of all my other underlying health problems. She says to keep resting and I will get better eventually, and she gave me a prescription for a viscous lidocaine gargle which is disgusting but does numb my throat (and mouth) for a while.

I felt well enough to stop at the store for vodka so I could make my annual batch of cranberry liqueur, which I will write down here so I can quit googling the recipe every year.

750ml cheap-ass vodka
sack of fresh cranberries
2 c sugar
1 c water

Cook the water and sugar together into a syrup and cool. Grind the cranberries and vodka up in the blender. Pour everything into a bottle (one of those clear plastic “Simply Fresh” orange juice bottles is just the right size) and let it sit, shaking up the bottle every day, for (optimally) three weeks. I usually can’t wait three weeks, though. Then strain it through a cloth into pretty bottles.

My apartment is FILTHY. Argh. At least I’m well enough to care.

1 comment » | Blog

The flu

December 14th, 2014 — 10:32am

Jeeze this has been a vicious flu. This is the twelfth day of it and I’m finally starting to feel a bit better (as in, I can sit up in bed and type). I’m going to write down the sequence of events here for my own future reference. This will be a boring post. Come back some other day.

Monday the 1st my knees were wobbly, which was odd. I didn’t think much of it at the time but now I realize it was probably a Harbinger of Doom. Tuesday I could tell I was coming down with something.

Wednesday the 3rd I woke up with a mild sore throat, a very bad cough, a headache, and feeling generally ill, so I sat on the sofa with Henry (who was recovering from his own bout of the flu) and watched movies all day.

Thursday it hit hard. Ferocious sore throat and cough, aches, weakness, chest congestion. I felt too ill to get out of bed, too ill to watch tv, too ill to listen to music. At this point I became unable to sleep because of the endless coughing and the horrific sore throat, so I pretty much sat up and coughed all day and all night for days on end. Friday was much the same. Saturday was the same plus a fever of 99-100.8. I managed to keep drinking because I was scared to get dehydrated, but eating was close to impossible. Managed a couple of yogurts and some toast, I think. Henry brought me water and broth, and checked on me every hour on the scary feverish days. Sunday was awful but the fever was better. Monday was awful and the fever came back. Tuesday, awful but no fever; Wednesday, awful plus fever.

Thursday the 11th the fever was gone, throat and cough were microscopically better. I think I was able to watch some netflix that day and listen to music. (That was the ninth day of the illness.) Friday, two days ago, I was able to go out to the living room and sit on the sofa and watch TV with Henry for a while. Throat and cough improving but far from well. Same yesterday. Everything a little better, but still feeling pretty wretched.

Slept much better last night. The coughing fits that wake me up are less frequent and less drastic. Throat still hurts but not as much — for a minute this morning it almost didn’t hurt at all. My thoughts feel clearer.

Ever since Friday I’ve been able to eat but not much at a time, so I’m trying to remember to eat a little something every hour or two. Over yesterday I ate almost two potatoes and some steamed broccoli and applesauce and yogurt and a pomegranate.

I feel like I will actually get better someday; I can imagine it, where I really couldn’t a few days ago.

Christmas will be late this year. I’ve done nothing. All our decorations are still in the closet. I haven’t been able to make or plan anything. Oh well.

In case you’re wondering — yes, I got a flu shot in October.

1 comment » | Blog

so sick

December 5th, 2014 — 8:13am

Ugh I’m so sick. Horrible cough, HORRIBLE sore throat, headache, etc. Came down with it on Tuesday and I’m sure it’ll be weeks until I feel able to record again. I was hoping that I might be able to achieve my goal of finishing up Return of the King before 2015, but that would have required me to record a chapter every other day through December, and that’s not gonna happen now. Sigh.

Thanks for all the comments! :)

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Return of the King, chapter 8!

December 1st, 2014 — 11:17am

Finally! Thank you all SO much for the encouraging email and comments. You have no idea how much it means to me that there are so many listeners who wish me well and are eager for another chapter! :) :) :)

Return of the King Bk 1: 08 The Houses of Healing

Lord-of-the-Rings-Return-of-the-King

6 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

I am still here

November 20th, 2014 — 6:14pm

Hey guys, I had an episode of crippling depression for the last few weeks (feels like months but I guess it wasn’t). I’m feeling better now and catching up on things like laundry and eating. And soon, I hope, a little recording! Thanks for all the sweet “checking on you” emails. It means a lot.

This bout of depression was so horrific that Jeff-the-lovely-therapist suggested I see a psychiatrist about trying an antidepressant, which of course was far too difficult to manage while I was in my can’t-get-out-of-bed phase but I did see a great doctor once I started feeling a little better and am now trying a very low dose of Lexapro. Fingers crossed that it keeps me from sinking down as far again.

What else is new… Last week Henry and I saw David Sedaris perform live at the Balboa Theater downtown! Such a treat. He was so funny and sweet, and all the stories were new to us. We bought each other the tickets for our birthdays back in summer. Yes, we are super NPR nerds.

Which reminds me: http://serialpodcast.org

Also I saw “Nightcrawler” and was blown away! It was an old-fashioned suspense-thriller with a story and acting and characters and no CGI explosions and I enjoyed it tremendously. Plus it was not 100% predictable all the way through! Lol. I have a real problem with movies where after five minutes I know exactly how they’re going to end. This was not that kind of movie. Things happened that I did not expect!!

8 comments » | Blog

Return of the King, Ch 7

October 21st, 2014 — 1:58pm

Another chapter!

Return of the King Bk 1: 07 The Pyre of Denethor

Lord-of-the-Rings-Return-of-the-King

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Return of the King Ch. 6

October 17th, 2014 — 1:02pm

Good news, everyone! Here’s a new chapter of Return of the King for you – and it’s an exciting one! Stuff happens! Many thanks to everyone who emailed me some gentle reminders :) Those emails really help motivate me when I’m not feeling great.

“Great was the clash of their meeting.”

Return of the King Bk 1: 06 The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

Lord-of-the-Rings-Return-of-the-King

3 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

Neat stuff roundup

October 13th, 2014 — 5:13pm

Here’s a bunch of random stuff that I want to share:

Zenmate — a free browser extension which can mask your location and encrypt your traffic. Say, for instance, you lived in the US but you were addicted to UK tv shows. You could, in theory, install Zenmate, tell it you’re in London, and watch the BBC’s iPlayer until your eyeballs bled. If you got tired of non-commercial British TV, you could also watch the ITV player and 4 on Demand and enjoy the not-quite-American commercials and freaky reality shows. And Downton Abbey, which has definitely jumped the shark but has such lovely costumes…

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Star Trek sound effects: http://www.trekcore.com/audio/. A dizzying assortment just waiting to be made into ringtones and alarm sounds.

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Fans of The Great British Bake Off — do you know about Stuck-In-A-Book’s hilarious snarky-but-affectionate episode recaps? Here’s a link to his recap for the finale of Series 5. http://stuck-in-a-book.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/great-british-bake-off-series-five-final.html Dig around and read all the others. They’re priceless. I got to the point where I look forward to reading his recaps almost as much as watching the show.

(And congratulations to our Nancy! Well done, you!)

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If, like me, you get your TV shows from various sources (including but not limited to Netflix and HBOGO), you might sometimes find it hard to remember which episodes you’ve seen, which shows are about to start, what airs on Thursday, etc. It’s a lot more complicated than back when we had three networks and all shows started in the exact same week of Fall. Have I got an online tool for you!!!

TV Calendar: http://www.pogdesign.co.uk/cat/

Make an account. Click “Settings” and adjust the timezone (important). Click the “Shows A-Z” button. Add your favorite shows, or shows that you haven’t seen yet but want to be reminded about. Scroll to the bottom for shows that aren’t currently airing (very handy for if you’re doing a re-watch of some old show and want to keep track of where you are). Now the front page will show your personal TV Calendar! Tick the box after you watch an episode and it’ll go dim. Green is the first ep of a new season, red is the last.

Never again will we forget which Only Connects and Colbert Reports we’ve seen! And we’ve been doing a re-watch of Boardwalk Empire from the beginning (well, re-watch for me, first time for Henry), so I’m ticking off the episodes as we go. Every show’s page has a complete list of episodes and, as you tick them off, it will even tell you how many hours of your life you’ve wasted watching that particular show. Sigh.

(Only Connect wasn’t in the list when I made my account, but I requested it via the twitter account and the guy added it! :)

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I’ve been reading a German translation of Marian Keyes’s “Last Chance Saloon” (in German it’s “Pusteblume” (Dandelion) for some reason) on my Paperwhite Kindle. I installed a German-English dictionary a long time ago, but I just realized that if I press an unknown word my Kindle will look it up for me! Astonishingly helpful. After I’ve looked up a word, I highlight it — so I can glance back through later and see if I remember the new words. Some words are too slangy for the dictionary, so if I’m really mystified I highlight the whole sentence and hit “translate” — and google (I assume) figures it out for me — if not WELL, at least to the point where I know what on earth is going on. Remarkable.

2 comments » | Blog, Tech

pasta salad

October 6th, 2014 — 12:54pm

I just realized that I’ve never posted my excellent pasta salad recipe. Here ya go:

ingredients from Trader Joe’s:

about 1 1/2 lbs pasta
1 can black olives (I cut them in half)
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 bag sun-dried tomatoes
1 chopped fresh tomato (or two if they’re small, or a bunch of cherry tomatoes)
1/2 bag frozen peas
1/2 bag “melange a trois” frozen red, yellow, and green pepper strips, or a chopped fresh pepper
1 bottle Tuscan Italian Dressing

Rinse the frozen veggies in warm water to melt off any ice. Cook the pasta, drain, rinse, combine with everything in an enormous bowl. It probably tastes best if you let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours before you eat it but I can never wait that long.

You could probably add some fresh herbs if you have any, or pine nuts, or green olives, or anything that sounds good. Cold cooked greenbeans or asparagus might be nice. This was the first time I put in the artichoke hearts and peas. Those little marinated fresh mozzarella balls would probably be amazing.

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Return of the King, Chapter 5

September 23rd, 2014 — 8:20pm

Chapter five, yay!

Return of the King Bk 1: 05 The Ride of the Rohirrim

Lord-of-the-Rings-Return-of-the-King

3 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

Return of the King, Ch 3 and 4!

September 22nd, 2014 — 7:25pm

I finally recorded Chapter 4 today, and also noticed that I never posted Chapter 3. So you get two at once!

Also, today is Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday.

Return of the King Bk 1: 03 The Muster of Rohan

Return of the King Bk 1: 04-1 The Siege of Gondor, part 1

Return of the King Bk 1: 04-2 The Siege of Gondor, part 2

Lord-of-the-Rings-Return-of-the-King

And thank you to everyone who sent me kind messages while I was feeling down. I’m doing a bit better now.

2 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

“But I Like You” — chords & lyrics!

August 31st, 2014 — 12:38pm

Henry and I have transcribed my little Ernie and Bert song! (See previous post)

It was a lot of work, but we did it. I re-wrote the lyrics to be all from Bert’s point of view ’cause I’ll be playing it on my ukulele and singing it solo and I am much more of a Bert than an Ernie. Paperclips! Lentil soup! Yeah!

Click to download in .rtf format: But I Like You, chords and lyrics

But_I_Like_You_chords

Kudos to Henry for figuring out the Bb to Bbm business and the nifty Bb-Db-F-D7 sequence near the end.

You can play a Dm7 on “go and see the big hippopotamus” if you want — it sounds a bit better but it’s hard for me to reach on the uke.

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“But I Like You”

August 13th, 2014 — 11:12am

Babysitting my little niece and watching a lot of classic Sesame Street. Today we watched an episode from 1983 (I was 14 in 1983, so it was after I stopped watching) and I saw an Ernie and Bert song that I’d never heard before! It’s so sweet.

“But I Like You”

If I can figure out the chords I’ll try to learn this on the uke.

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Detachment and compassion

August 3rd, 2014 — 11:52am

I just read a book by Marian Keyes called “The Mystery of Mercy Close”. Funny, entertaining, good characters, satisfying ending. When I started reading, I didn’t know that the protagonist, Helen, suffered from depression and anxiety but I figured it out pretty fast. The author reveals it very slowly and I think the average reader might not pick up the clues quite so quickly, but to me it was obvious right away.

Helen’s thoughts felt eerily familiar.

At one point, late in the book after her condition has been revealed, she tells the reader about her therapist, Antonia, and it felt exactly, exactly, like the way I feel about my therapist, Jeff. Change the pronouns from “she” to “he” and it’s spot-on:

“She’d been nothing like I’d expected. She didn’t make me lie on a couch and ask me about my childhood, or my dreams. She didn’t bounce every question I asked her back at me by asking what I thought about it.

She was the one thing she wasn’t meant to be: she was my friend…. She was the one person I could be brutally honest with and she never judged me.

She’d say, “How are you, Helen?” and I’d answer, “I’ve been thinking of taking the bread knife and cutting out my stomach. If I could just cut out my guts, these feelings might go away.”

And she wouldn’t burst into tears. Or tell me I had to be strong. Or say that she’d be devastated if I died. Or ring one of my sisters and tell them I was a selfish, self-indulgent whinger.

I didn’t have to protect her from how horrific I felt. She’d seen it all before and she was unshakable….

She didn’t fix me. She didn’t provide reasons for why I wanted to die. But she pulled off the near-impossible job of offering me both detachment and compassion.

The detachment part — well, I was nothing to her, nobody. Twice a week I had an hour when I could slow down the terrible thoughts in my washing machine head and let my mouth say them and let my ears hear them and not have to worry about how it impacted on her.

But at the same time, I knew she cared about me … even though I was paying her … she was my true friend. She walked steadfastly alongside me through the rocky, smoke-black nightmare. She couldn’t keep me from tripping and stumbling, she couldn’t give me anything to stop the pain, but she encouraged me to keep going.

Not to put too fine a point on it, she’d kept me alive.”

I have actually said these words to people: “He kept me alive.”

Right now I’m in a better patch, which is good, although even better patches are scary because I never know when I’ll fall off the edge into a Bad Patch, but at least I know Jeff will be there if I do.

If you have depression (maybe you got here by googling “depression”), please find yourself an Antonia or a Jeff. Do whatever it takes. If your first therapist isn’t a good fit, keep looking until you find someone who feels right. And remember that no matter how bad you feel right now, you’ll feel better some day. You really will.

3 comments » | Blog

Bake off!

July 30th, 2014 — 5:21pm

Series 5 of The Great British Bake Off starts in just one week, on Wednesday August 6th, and I am BEYOND excited!

It’s the most civilized, sweetest, most charming, most delightful competition show ever created. Everyone is so nice to everyone else and I never want anyone to leave but of course _someone_ has to go home every week. Sigh. That’s the worst part.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_British_Bake_Off

Oh, Paul and Mary and Mel and Sue and all the bakers, I’ll be seeing you soon. On your marks, get set, BAKE!

If, like me, you don’t live in the UK you’ll have to figure out some clever way to watch. It can be done if you’re resourceful…

(Hey BBC, pleasepleaseplease allow me to pay a subscription so I can watch your lovely intelligent programming more easily!)

1 comment » | Blog

beach!

July 29th, 2014 — 9:20pm

A friend texted me today and asked if I wanted to go to the beach with him. Heck yes! (Even though the beach is really not my thing… all that sun and sand and heat and stuff. It’s not a very Kara-friendly environment. But it just sounded like fun.)

We took a little tent with us (his idea) which was an absolutely brilliant plan and one which made the whole beach thing so much more pleasant.

Untitled

We played in the water for a while and it was just lovely. I haven’t been to the beach in years. In my memory the ocean here is almost always freezing, even in summer, but today the water was quite comfortable. Not exactly warm, mind you, but not freezing, and we got used to it quickly and then it didn’t feel cold anymore, just refreshing.

I got tired fairly quickly (the beach is no place for an oxygen concentrator) and all-of-a-sudden, the way I do, and retired to our shady little tent. It was so nice having a place to keep my backpack and book and glasses quite safely while I was in the water, and then absolutely wonderful to have a shelter where I could lie down and rest and read out of the wind and sun.

I put on tons and tons of sunscreen (twice) and managed to escape with only minor burning. It hurts, and I’m covered in aloe vera gel tonight, but it could have been so much worse.

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Boyhood

July 26th, 2014 — 6:00pm

I saw Richard Linklater’s new movie, “Boyhood” today. Wow. It’s a quiet, tender little movie that follows the life of a boy, Mason, from childhood to college. It was filmed in bits and pieces over twelve real-life years (with the same cast the whole time) so Mason grows and changes on film, as does his family. It’s a brilliant filmmaking technique and so beautifully done.

There are just a few clunky moments (Mason’s mom’s meltdown as he leaves for college, for one), but there are far, far more moments of utter perfection. A few that spring to mind are: showing off treasured possessions to back-in-town dad; the midnight Harry Potter book release (Henry and I attended the midnight release party for the final book so that really resonated); the hilarious “use protection” scene (Mason’s sister’s embarrassment is truly palpable); the father-son camping trip; the “woken up by sister’s roommate” scene.

On the whole it’s a real treasure. Go see it.

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home home home

July 21st, 2014 — 10:27pm

Had a lovely visit with my sister and her family, and now I am home. Traveling is _so exhausting_. But it was worth it to spend time with my dear little niece. She’s 13 months old and quite a character.

Since she is so interested in everyone’s iPhone (she loves to tap and swipe) I went looking for baby-friendly iOS software and found a game that’s just perfect for her: The Playmatic. Free, no ads, no banners, no pop-ups — just three sweet, simple little games. Fun things happen when you poke the screen! Little Niece caught on right away and, by the time my visit was over, she seemed to be enjoying the hardest game the most — the hot-air balloon game. The bubble game and the music game were also very popular. :)

I’m re-reading “The Hills at Home”. Such a great book.

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brand new key

July 12th, 2014 — 3:39pm

I’ve been learning Melanie Safka’s adorable “Brand New Key” on my ukulele. I still suck, pretty much, and my uke technique is poor and I’m not a trained singer and I keep forgetting to breathe, but here’s a tolerable (if low-quality) recording that I think is kind of sweet. Sorry about the traffic and video-game noises in the background.

Brand New Key

Fun fact: my voice is considerably lower than Melanie’s so I had to transpose the song down a fifth, into a BRAND NEW KEY, if you will. Musician joke. Groan.

3 comments » | Blog

Return of the King, Bk1 Ch2

July 11th, 2014 — 12:00pm

In which we find out what’s up with Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry, and Eowyn.

Sorry, I mispronounced “Elrohir” a couple of times before I noticed the “r”.

Return of the King Bk 1: 02 The Passing of the Grey Company

Lord-of-the-Rings-Return-of-the-King

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