Category: Blog

Thank you, everyone

April 20th, 2021 — 8:08pm

I’m overwhelmed by the number of thoughtful, caring messages I’ve received, most from complete strangers, after talking about my current bout of depression. Thank you, dearest family, friends, and friends-I-haven’t-met, thank you. You are helping me greatly.

Today was better. i feel on the low end of neutral I guess. I’m not in the Black Pit of Despair. I ate food several times and it tasted like food instead of like sawdust.

Two things that everyone with depression must remember:

1. Depression LIES

2. You won’t feel like this forever

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April 19th, 2021 — 12:35pm

Henry and I love watching Baumgartner Restoration videos. Julian Baumgartner is an art restorer/conservator. He’s calm and talented and his videos manage to be fascinating and soothing at the same time. Here’s a good episode to get you started. It’s the first part in a recent three-part series about a painting that was seriously messed up. Enjoy.

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April 18th, 2021 — 9:59pm

I haven’t been eating anything but apples, goat cheese, yogurt, and grapefruit juice. It’s very hard for me to eat when I’m depressed. This morning I woke up feeling a bit better, so I jumped right on it and splurged on pizza delivery. Vegetarian — olives, mushrooms, onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers. i ate a few slices over the course of the day and have plenty leftover for tomorrow and the next day, if I can eat.

It was nice feeling less gloomy for a few hours. Took a shower and washed my hair. Sat in the sun for 20 minutes. Emptied the wastebaskets in my room. Watched the new episode of Line of Duty on the BBC. Played Cozy Grove. Listened to Mom playing Bach.

Feeling lower than dirt again now (Lies my brain tells me: i’m a horrible person, i‘m not lovable, i’m a problem, i’m annoying, i’m useless and worthless and pointless, you know) but it’s finally bedtime so i can sleep and maybe i’ll feel less awful again for a few hours tomorrow

4 comments » | Blog

oops missed a day

April 17th, 2021 — 5:04pm

Alive. Struggling.

Edit: oh, hah I didn’t miss a day. My laptop is set to UK time so I got confused.

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Still alive

April 16th, 2021 — 2:43pm

Having a hard time. Still alive.

8 comments » | Blog


April 15th, 2021 — 2:31pm

Ein neues Video für euch. A new video for y’all. Forgive the small errors please. I am well aware of them.

Managed to climb out of my Pit of Despair long enough to get it done, yay me.

2 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

Sewing Bee

April 14th, 2021 — 5:54pm

Sad today. Life, ya know? It cheered me up to watch the first episode of the new season of “The Great British Sewing Bee” with Niece. This link should work for a few days, and then you can search that same subreddit for subsequent eps each Wednesday: the_great_british_sewing_bee_s07e01/

I shall now show off my beginner Finnish:

Tämä undulaatti on sininen. Se on söpö. This parakeet is blue. It is cute.

Um. Why does Finnish render in a smaller font? I didn’t do that on purpose. Did all the umlauts confuse wordpress?

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New normal?

April 13th, 2021 — 2:04pm

Woke up after a good sleep, feeling fine. Ate yogurt, gave Niece her German lesson, played a little Cozy Grove (on both Switch and iPhone). But by 11am I was ready to go back to bed and lie down and wait for bedtime.

What I WANT to do:

finish sewing my wool bliaut (medieval gown)
sew lots of clothes for all my little relatives
knit something (anything)
clean my room
record audiobooks
cook something (anything)

But yeah. What I have the energy for is nothing. Days like this I always worry that this is my new normal. It will be, for certain, one day soon. Is this the day I don’t snap back from?

I realize this sounds like I’m depressed but my mood is actually ok! If this is the beginning of the end, well, so be it. I’ve lived longer than any doctors predicted. I have the world’s coziest bed. A family who loves me. And a DNS proxy so I can watch all the UK tv shows I want.

If I rest for a while now I might have the energy to play a bit of WoW later :)

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All better :)

April 12th, 2021 — 4:34pm

Slept ten hours, solid. Woke up feeling like myself again. One day of discomfort in exchange for peace of mind and being a Good Citizen? Yes please!

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April 11th, 2021 — 8:46pm

It’s Sunday night. I ended up having a fairly rough day. As the day progressed, I felt much more achy, fatigued, and generally crappy. Hot eyes and skin (but no fever). Tylenol helped the pain somewhat. I lay in bed and watched murder shows and Antiques Roadshow (UK), listened to audiobooks, played on my phone, and waited for time to pass.

It’s now 36 hours after my second vaccine and I’m starting to feel much better. I think a good night’s sleep will wrap this up.

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Good morning

April 11th, 2021 — 6:21am

I was braced for all the possible 2nd Pfizer Covid vaccine side effects but it’s been easy so far. My arm is slightly sore, and I woke up at 2:30am and never went back to sleep. (Writing this at 6 as the sun comes up) My mom had insomnia after her first vaccine, but I haven’t read of it happening to anyone else, have you?

I have so many side effects from my other medications that it’s hard to know what’s Pfizer-effect and what’s Kara-normal. Are my joints a little more painful than usual? Maybe. Is my stomach a little more funny? I think so (but I can’t define “funny”. Just feels odd sometimes) Mild nausea is par for the course. Coincidence that it happened tonight?

Well, the insomnia is the only bothersome thing and whatever, I’ll just have an extra-tired day. NBD.

The symptoms I was dreading — headache, fever, and unusually crippling fatigue — haven’t hit at all yet and it’s been nearly 22 hours since I got my jab. I expect crippling fatigue today because I got 4 hours of sleep. No problem. I shall Netflix and Nap :)

1 comment » | Blog

Pfizer #2!

April 10th, 2021 — 4:28pm

I got my second Pfizer shot today! (Recap for people in the future — we’ve had a terrifying deadly global Covid-19 pandemic for over a year. The wonderful scientists have developed a few vaccines which are now being distributed. It took a while to get the distribution going but now it’s efficient and easy to get your jabs!)

I’m waiting for the side effects to hit… so far, just very mild soreness in my arm. Most people get a sore arm, maybe headache and fatigue. A few get fevers, chills, body aches, flu-like symptoms etc. but it only lasts a day or two and then we are about 95% protected from Covid!

In two weeks, when the vaccine is fully operational, I will go to the LIBRARY for the first time in over a year. They’ve been closed this whole time but will soon re-open with careful safety protocols (we vaccinated folks still need to mask up, stay distanced, etc)

Also hope to sit in my friend’s garden and enjoy the Springtime and seeing a human who isn’t in my household.

Better times are coming! Hang in there, everyone <3

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April 9th, 2021 — 6:09pm

I’ve been learning Finnish on Duolingo for the last few weeks. I chose Finnish because Finland is cool and Finnish is completely unrelated to English and German so it’s a real challenge and very interesting! I can already say a few useful things:

minä olen Kara. (I am Kara).

Suomi on hyvä maa. (Finland is a good country)

Hän on velho (She/he is a wizard)

I’ve been watching a Finnish crime drama (All the Sins) with English subtitles and I recognize some of the spoken words, which is thrilling!

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April 8th, 2021 — 3:53pm

Super sleepy, can’t stop yawning. Made soup, ate soup. Cozy Grove was released for Nintendo Switch last night! I had pre-ordered because I’ve had so much fun playing on my phone. I SUPER recommend Cozy Grove. It’s calm and sweet, with a focus on, you guessed it, being helpful. The game is doled out in small doses, and is meant to be played for maybe half-an-hour to an hour per day. Can’t say enough good things about it, seriously. Beautiful artwork, lovely storyline.

When I was in the hospital just before Christmas (another terrifying bout of atrial fibrillation) my mom got on FaceTime so she could play Christmas carols on the piano for me. Next day, when I was home, we FaceTimed again but switched to Bach (ahhhhhh Bach). Ever since then, we Facetime for about an hour almost every afternoon and she practices Bach and I listen while I read or play on my Switch or just rest. So nice to be able to spend time together sharing music that way, and I don’t need to do conversation.

It’s almost Bach o’clock!

3 comments » | Blog


April 7th, 2021 — 2:10pm

Today is my little sister’s birthday (I live with her, her husband, and their daughter) so I pried myself up out of bed and bravely made choux buns! They turned out so pretty, especially the second batch, which are the ones I remembered to egg wash :D

I used this recipe:

I don’t have a piping bag and didn’t want to fool with plastic bags so I just put spoonfuls of batter on the parchment paper and smoothed them out with fingers dipped in water.

For the filling, I simmered a cup of heavy cream with a scoop of coffee beans and a spoonful of sugar. Strained, chilled, whipped. Then I sliced open the buns and spooned in the filling. Half were coffee cream, and for the other half I whipped a cup of heavy cream with a spoonful of Nutella.

They’re waiting in the fridge to be eaten after dinner. I hope they taste as good as they look!

All worn out now so watching Mister Rogers with Niece <3

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Good Thing #1

April 6th, 2021 — 9:06am

First, I want to thank everyone for the heartwarming comments, texts, and emails! Wow. A lot of people check on me and hope I’m ok, and a lot of people love my audiobook recordings. Wow. Just… wow. Thank you, everyone! <3

If I write something every day, instead of, like, once every 6 weeks, I can tell you about the small Good Things that I discover.

Today’s Good Thing is my current favorite bedtime snack. I always get really hungry just after I turn out my light to go to sleep, so I fix myself a snack ahead of time. My Snack of Choice lately is a sliced green apple and a lump of goat cheese. The tart crunchy apple, the creamy cheese… oh man, my mouth started watering as I typed this!

Since I have no income except my government SSI benefits that are just enough to cover my rent, I also get food stamps, which are not actually stamps anymore, but a handy debit card that is automatically refilled each month, with leftover funds carrying across from month to month. I can buy any kind of food or beverage, but not booze or vitamins. My benefits are nearly $200/month which is more than enough for a single vegetarian-type person who shops are Trader Joe’s. I have enough, after basics, that I can buy myself delicious treats, such as fresh pineapple and the aforementioned goat cheese. Yummy!

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Beverly Cleary

April 5th, 2021 — 8:52am

Look at me, writing another post so soon! Thank you, Trevor, for leaving me such a nice comment on yesterday’s post. Glad you enjoyed Gatsby!

Beverly Cleary died a few days ago. She was 104! One of those cases of “wow, she was still alive??” I wish I had written her a thank-you note 40 years ago. I never cared much for Ramona, though I know she is loved by nearly everyone. The Ramona books stressed me out. I was happier reading about Beezus and Henry. And I LOVED the teenage books. I must have read “Sister of the Bride” and “The Luckiest Girl” a hundred times. Our library didn’t have “Jean and Johnny” or “Fifteen” when I was a kid, but I read them in my twenties and loved them too. When I head about Beverly’s death I downloaded allll the Henry Huggins books and all four teenage books so I can do a big re-read. I started with The Luckiest Girl, which is just as great as I remembered, and then Fifteen which is also very enjoyable. I love how the heroine’s thoughts spin out of control with every turn of events. So real, so relatable.

6 comments » | Blog, Books

Hello again, I am still alive

April 4th, 2021 — 7:57pm

Is anyone reading this? Probably not, it’s been months since I last published a post. Well I’m still alive. This year has been weird. I had a couple of months of pretty bad depression which it turns out was caused mostly by hypothyroidism because of a dose change. Right now my dose of thyroid replacement hormone is back where it should be and I’m feeling better.

Every day feels the same as every other day. It’s really weird. We’ve been in lockdown for so long now. And it’s not like there’s anywhere I particularly want to go (except for visiting family) but it would be nice to have the option I guess.

I had my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine two weeks ago so my second dose will be next Saturday and I’m super excited about that! Just about everyone in my family has had either one or two doses already. We are still all incredibly careful but some of the worry has lifted of course! Such a relief! Our local libraries will be opening up soon with limited hours and lots of safety precautions so that’s super exciting!

My PAH is progressing, unfortunately. I’m on 7 liters of oxygen per minute 24 hours a day now and I have almost no energy to do anything, ever. There are so many things I want to do but it’s hard to get the energy to sit up and sew or record audio books or bake or do anything really. Ugh. So I lie in bed and listen to audiobooks and watch Netflix and BBC and And I play a lot of video games :-)

Right now I love Cozy Grove for iOS. So sweet. And Henry buys me a subscription to classic World of Warcraft which is just like it was in the olden days before any expansions and that is super fun! We play together sometimes, just like we did 16 years ago when he was a little fellow.

I’m writing this by dictating to my phone and it’s working pretty well. I need to clean up a few typos here amd there, but it’s no work at all so maybe I can get into the habit of writing more often, if anyone still wants to read my random thoughts!

It has been a whole year since I had that brain surgery, yuck! It took months and months to recover from that but I think I’m myself again.

OK I’m gonna go back to watching my current Scandinavian Murder Show on Channel 4 which is called “All the Sins” . It’s a Finnish one this time but there’s no snow — it takes place in summer, for a change. A woman just walked outside in what looked like broad daylight to find her husband and said “it’s 3 AM come to bed” LOL.

Which reminds me my brain is not doing so great. My thoughts are kind of cloudy, it’s hard to focus, my memory is shot, and I’m having trouble with vocabulary. Crossword puzzles are much much harder than they used to be. But I’m still trying to keep my brain active so I’m learning Finnish very slowly on Duolingo, as well as reviewing German. Finnish is super fun because it is not an Indo European language and so it’s completely unrelated to English and German. No cognates!

7 comments » | Blog

Millions of Cats

January 28th, 2021 — 3:43pm

I recorded this family favorite as a Christmas gift for my friend Elli (the same Elli who proof-listened my Gatsby) and her little boy <3

In other news, my pulmonologist recently increased my dose of sildenafil from 40 to 60mg, 3x/day. We increased my dose of Lasix (a diuretic to help control the fluid retention common with heart failure) at the same time. And within a few days I felt so much better! Like I wake up with some ambition and enough energy to do more than one thing in a day. I don’t get tired immediately and need a nap by noon; I don’t need to just lie in bed all day.

I’ve been sewing again! I got super inspired by the historical costuming videos and posts of Morgan Donner and others, and got the notion to make myself some modified Early Medieval clothing for daily wear. No corsetry required! My corset/stays days are behind me, lol. I’ve already sewn two cream linen shifts (under-dresses) and I absolutely LIVE in them. They’re even more comfy than sweats and tees. And linen is astonishing. I don’t overheat in it. It doesn’t seem to get smelly as fast as cotton, so I can wear a shift for multiple days between washes.

Right now I’m working on a pine green linen bliaut, which is an overdress that can fit fairly loosely but has lacing at the sides for a more form-fitted look. Traditionally they are floor length and have long dangling sleeves but I’m making mine shin-length with more practical sleeves. I’m planning lace-on long-sleeve extensions (but not dangling).

Some sources that I used (helpful list for Future Me):
Making Basic Medieval Underwear
Custom Smock and T-Tunic Pattern Generator
Izabela’s Bliaut Tutorial
Bliaut Tutorial
Square Underarm Gussets

Today I hand-sewed for hours, and watched a lot of Ok GO videos with Em, and gave her a German lesson, AND made a pot of soup! I’m tired now but that’s a lot of things in one day for me.

Now we’re going to increase my sildenafil to 80mg 3x/day (that’s 12 tablets a day hahaha) and see what happens. Maybe I’ll have even more energy! Or, maybe my energy level will stay the same as it is now but won’t decrease as quickly over time. Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe the side effects will be unbearable. But I’m hoping for good things. We shall see!

5 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

The Great Gatsby!

January 17th, 2021 — 8:58am

When we started LibriVox in 2005, the book I most wanted to record was The Great Gatsby — but it wasn’t to enter the Public Domain until 2021 and I thought for sure I’d be dead by then. (I have survived Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension much longer than anyone expected, yay!)

I started recording Gatsby on January 3rd and finished yesterday, January 16th. I’ve never recorded a book so quickly! It helped that it was only 9 chapters, and that it’s one of my favorite books in the whole world. Fitzgerald’s use of language dazzles me. Elli proof-listened for me, and I pretended I was reading aloud to her as I recorded :)

Here it is! The LibriVox book cover team even used the original “eyes” book jacket, which is exactly what I was wishing for :)

6 comments » | Blog

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