Category: Blog

Quick check-in

January 28th, 2020 — 7:50am

I’m still here! I got over my virus and felt ok for a few days, and now I’ve caught something again. Coughed all night. Arghhhhh. Gonna try to get a walk-in doc appt today.

1 comment » | Blog


January 13th, 2020 — 10:01am

I’m still sick but on the mend. I think maybe I don’t have a headache right now, for the first time in days. It’s just the stupid cough that lingers and lingers and lingers. My lungs are so messed up that with every coughing fit I feel like I might pass out. Ah well. I never had a sore throat with this one so it’s all good.

My reading-tracker app (iReadItNowHD) broke in iOS 13 and I’m tired of waiting for the guy to fix it, so over the last few days, when not napping or coughing, I’ve been manually entering alllllllll my reading data into I do not like goodreads — I’ve been avoiding it for years. So many ads; ugly, cluttered, clunky interface. ALL I WANT in a reading tracker is to be able to keep track of what I read and when I read it, a wishlist, and the ability to bookmark my current book in either page numbers or a percentage. But one small independent iPhone app after another keeps going belly-up (first Readmore, then iReadItNowHD) so I guess I’ll just switch over to goodreads and be done with it.

If you want to find me there and be all social that’s cool. I’m Kara Shallenberg:

Not sure why goodreads has decided that I’m an author. Someone must have put me in as a librivox narrator and it got confused? Anyway if you scroll down past the books I didn’t write (dracula, etc.) you’ll get to my actual data, like what I’m currently reading. Two of them (Standard Deviation and Because Internet) are instant re-reads because I loved them so much the first time!

5 comments » | Blog, Books


January 8th, 2020 — 6:12pm

Still sick. This is a really odd virus. It was mild till last night but then I was awake all night with a cough, ferocious headache, severe back/shoulder/neck/knee/foot/etc. pain, and a strange speedy feeling. (I didn’t eat or drink anything unusual the day before and of course never any caffeine, but all night i felt like i was WIRED on coffee.)

I lay there and listened to an audiobook all night. Figured I’d sleep today but NOPE. So I can only hope that I get some nice normal sleep tonight.

(I wrote and scheduled the previous two posts a few days ago. Not feeling well enough to fiddle with podcast feeds)

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The Talking Parcel

January 8th, 2020 — 11:24am

Another podcast feed for you!

The Talking Parcel, by Gerald Durrell (reprinted as The Battle for Castle Cockatrice for some reason)

As usual, you may copy/paste this link into your favorite podcast app to subscribe to the book:

Or visit my Gerald Durrell page to download or stream chapters the old-fashioned way:

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January 7th, 2020 — 10:56am

Hello my dears, I’m still sick but not miserable, so I created a podcast feed for my old recording of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Copy/paste this link into your favorite podcast app to subscribe :)

Or visit my Roald Dahl page to stream the chapters, if you prefer:

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Happy New Year!

January 4th, 2020 — 10:00am

Hi everyone — Happy New Year! It’s 2020 (first time I’ve written it) and we live in the future.

I’ve been fairly exhausted since Christmas and not up to much. Lots of lying in bed, watching foreign murder shows, listening to audiobooks, and playing Breath of the Wild. Came down with a little cold last night but I don’t think it will be a bad one — no sore throat (yet, cross your fingers), just a bit of a drippy nose and cough. So today will be another extremely lazy day.

Breath of the Wild is an AMAZING game. It took me a while to get the fact that it’s non-linear, and that I can play in any way I want. I’m too much of a weakling to do much fighting but I have hours and HOURS of fun running around the world looking for seeds, shrines, and towers. The open world is astonishingly varied and beautiful. I’m in a sort of jungle terrain now, in the south part of the map. There are banana trees, and it just pours rain most of the time — the rain seems wetter than the rain in the northern zones, and I find myself looking for shelter so I can dry off for a while. Ha!

3 comments » | Blog

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil

December 25th, 2019 — 6:00am

Merry Christmas to all but especially to Henry, who requested these poems. I love you!

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book

Subscribe to The Adventures of Tom Bombadil as a podcast and download all the poems at once. Paste this rss link into your podcatcher:

01 The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
02 Bombadil Goes Boating
03 Errantry
04 Princess Mee
05 The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late
06 The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon
07 The Stone Troll
08 Perry-the-Winkle
09 The Mewlips
10 Oliphaunt
11 Fastitocalon
12 Cat
13 Shadow-bride
14 The Hoard
15 The Sea-bell
16 The Last Ship

Or download all 16 poems in one file here:

Paste this rss link into your podcatcher:

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book

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Self-care at Christmas

December 23rd, 2019 — 2:00pm

Marian Keyes is my favorite living author, a recovering addict, a survivor of serious depression and anxiety, a mental health advocate, and an all-around delightful person! She has made a 14-minute video all about taking care of yourself, and being kind to yourself, at Christmastime. It’s important!

Much of this advice is stuff I figured out on my own, long ago, and I think it is one reason why I love Christmas. I try hard not to stress about anything. Not everyone gets a homemade present, or even a present at all. I cook and bake as much as I like, and no more. No Christmas cards. My tree gets smaller every year as my energy wanes — but it’s still beautiful! I hide in my room when things get loud or overwhelming.

Marian’s advice about getting through a hard day is useful in any situation. On days with difficult, stressful medical stuff, I tell myself, ok, in twelve hours (or whatever) this will all be over. I can get through twelve hours.

Merry Christmas! Take care of yourself! If you, like Marian and me, suffer from anxiety and/or depression, keep a help line handy in your phone or follow @SarahMillican75 on twitter — she does a #JoinIn event on Christmas if you’re feeling lonely (or too crowded) and need to have a chat with some friendly internet people :)

2 comments » | Blog

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

December 23rd, 2019 — 10:14am

Here’s another Christmas audiobook for you! The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson. It’s funny and heartwarming and very Christmassy :) Those Herdmans are the worst kids ever!

You can find all the chapters, and a new podcast feed, here:

Comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

A Christmas Carol

December 21st, 2019 — 4:36pm

This is your yearly reminder that I made a recording of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” for librivox a few years ago. I just listened to it while I had a nap. It’s a very good recording, if I do say so myself :)

4 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

Christmas Music!

December 19th, 2019 — 9:00am

I love Christmas music, all sorts. From traditional to novelty to pop, and (almost) everything along the spectrum, the tacky and the glorious, the beautiful and the silly. (Though I’m not a fan of angelic children’s choirs or goopy harp-filled schmaltz. I’m more an up-tempo girl, I guess.) Right at this moment I’m listening to the Robert Shaw Chorale, “Christmas Hymns and Carols”, which is an absolutely perfect traditional, unaccompanied, non-ornate, SATB choir recording. Here’s a YouTube playlist of the whole recording:

I’ve mentioned Mixmas here quite a few times, and I’m not going to stop mentioning it. Ever.

A gem from Mixmas 2019 is “Every Single Christmas” by JD McPherson. Here’s a live recording:

From tracking down that song, I discovered that JD has a whole Christmas album of original Christmas songs, “Socks”. The official YouTube videos have charming, simple animation and lyrics, which Em really enjoys!

Another favorite this year is “Santa’s Coming for Us” by Sia. This all-star, lip-synced video is so charming! (Wait past the slow B&W intro. It gets good.)

A couple of favorites from last year are a cover of “Rise Up Shepherd” by Twin Bandit and a cover of “You’re a Mean One, Mister Grinch” by Small Town Titans:

I’ll stop for now, and assault you with more of my favorite Christmas music next time! :)

1 comment » | Blog

The Christmas Tree Book is finished!

December 16th, 2019 — 12:46pm

All nine chapters are ready for you to enjoy, maybe while you decorate your tree or watch the Netflix fireplace :)

Subscribe to the book as a podcast by copy/pasting this link into your favorite podcast app:

While reading the chapter about electric Christmas lights and bulbs, I added a little note about our old antique Santa bulb! Here it is. I don’t know whether it was originally from the Shallenberg side or the Jacobs side, but it’s really old for sure! Behind Santa you can see a reproduction of one of the old German ornaments made of cotton batting and crinkled wire in the shape of a bird’s nest.

Also, the text mentions the custom of making a little village, farm, or nativity scene under or near the tree. That’s totally a tradition in my family, too, maybe from my German heritage (on both sides). What traditions or special old ornaments do you treasure?

Comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

The Christmas Tree Book, Ch 5 and 6

December 15th, 2019 — 12:27pm

Two more chapters of The Christmas Tree Book!

Chapters 5-6 are finished and ready to download here:

Subscribe to the book as a podcast by copy/pasting this link into your favorite podcast app:

Me, recording this morning :)

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The Christmas Tree Book, Ch 1-4

December 14th, 2019 — 12:22pm

I re-read this book just about every year — I love it — so this year I decided to record it for you!

Chapters 1-4 are finished and ready to download here:

Subscribe to the book as a podcast by copy/pasting this link into your favorite podcast app:

Comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

Mixmas 2019

December 13th, 2019 — 9:04am

Every year, Henry and I look forward to DJ Riko’s yearly Mixmas. Usually he releases it just before Christmas but it’s a bit earlier this year!

Go here and download for Christmas cheer!

Here’s his track list for 2019:

Dram – Litmas
JD McPherson – Every Single Christmas
Margo Guyen – I Don’t Intend to Spend Christmas Without You
Josh Rouse – Sleigh Brother Bill
Sufjan Stevens – Put the Lights on the Tree
Bailen – Christmas is All Around
Hoodoo Gurus – Tojo
The Magnetic Fields – Everything is One Big Christmas Tree
Sia – Santa’s Coming for Us
New Order – Rocking Carol
The Regrettes – Marshmallow World
James Brown – Santa Claus go Straight to the Ghetto
Justine Skye – Eyes for You
Satan’s Pilgrims – Feliz Navidad
Livingmore – Show me Light and Love
Jagged Jaw – Pink Xmas Tree
Beach Boys – Little Saint Nick (Alternate Version)
Tralala – Holiday Hearts
Cocteau Twins – Winter Wonderland
Redtenbacher’s Funkestra – Deck the Halls
The Duke Spirit – Melt by the Morning
The Grip Weeds – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
The Silhouettes – Under the Mistletoe
The Oh Hellos – Every Bell on Earth Will Ring

I haven’t finished the whole thing yet (Henry and I are listening together when we have time) but the second bit — “JD McPherson – Every Single Christmas” — is so good that I went looking for the song to add to my Christmas music collection, and discovered that JD McPherson has a whole album of original Christmas music called “Socks” and it’s great!! (Be sure to watch some of his live performances on youtube!) You can buy “Socks” on iTunes and other places. The whole youtube playlist is here:

I have plans, eventually, to write up a review of every single Mixmas and point you to my favorite parts ’cause there’s always something that just rocks my socks that I never would have heard otherwise… Right now I’m listening to 2014, which is such a good one! Liz Phair’s Ho Ho Ho “Doing shots of room-temperature peppermint schnapps while the yule log on tv crackles and pops…” (I always skip the Crash Test Dummies bit, though. That’s ok – every Mixmas has a clunker or two, the aural equivalent of the Ugly Christmas Sweater :)

1 comment » | Blog

Ugh, pt 2

December 9th, 2019 — 10:51am

The less said about that hospital visit the better.

Upshot: They can’t fix my ASD. So that’s that — the last possibility for extending/improving my life. I also realized that, even if the implantable Remodulin pump is ever approved by the FDA, I won’t be able to tolerate the operation to install it — so that’s that too.

My throat, which got seriously messed up during the TEE, is starting to feel better and I can swallow real food again.

My body still hurts all over but I can move without actual agony so that’s nice I guess.

The adhesive-itch is still terrible and I’m trying hard not to claw my skin off.

Let’s think about Christmas instead! I’ve been listening to DJ Riko’s Mixmases :)

1 comment » | Blog


December 5th, 2019 — 7:31pm

Horrible horrible day. Up at 4:30am to get to UCSF hospital by 6:30am. They wanted to do a TEE (trans esophageal echo), then a heart cath, a balloon occlusion test, and potentially fix my ASD.

So I had general anesthesia while they did all kinds of stuff to me.

Woke up at 11:30 with the world’s worst sore throat from tubes being shoved down it.

Turned out that they couldn’t fix my ASD after all, so it was all in vain.

Lay around in bright busy noisy recovery room for hours in pain, weeping.

Finally got real room around 6pm. Had giant fight to get them to remove all adhesives including IV and monitors. Haven’t eaten or drunk anything but 2 cranberry juice boxes in 26 hours. Still waiting for soup to arrive. Throat hurts too much for real food.

Extreme misery

2 comments » | Blog

The Apple Stone podcast feed

November 23rd, 2019 — 11:00am

I have made a podcast feed for my recording of The Apple Stone, a beautiful magical adventure by playwright Nicholas Stuart Gray about 5 siblings and cousins who find a magical golden stone in the middle of an apple. I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

Copy and paste this RSS link into your favorite podcast app:

You can, of course, still access all the chapters individually on this page:

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I have a new bed!

November 18th, 2019 — 8:06am

I was sooooo comfy on the mattress (Serta Perfect Sleeper) in New York that it made me realize how uncomfy I’ve been on my 8-year-old foam mattress. So my wonderful Mom bought me a new mattress! I like a FIRM mattress, so I chose a Serta Perfect Sleeper Trelleburg II Firm, and I got it from who were having some kind of pre-Black Friday sale and threw in an adjustable bed frame!

It arrived last week on Wednesday. A pair of highly competent and professional delivery men brought it in, set it up, and took away my old mattress.


I’m a hot sleeper. My old foam mattress seemed to amplify and hold my body’s heat so I was always rolling around trying to find a cool spot. The Perfect Sleeper line of mattresses has some kind of cooling gel merged into the top layer, so I’m not noticing that problem anymore. Also it is wonderfully firm and non-bouncy and non-cushiony! I fall asleep best on my stomach, and then I roll onto my side or back in the night. It’s comfy all three ways.

And the adjustable bed frame has changed my life. I have trouble breathing at night now even with supplementary oxygen so I’ve had to build mountains of pillows in order to elevate my head, but it’s hard getting the angle just right. My new bed frame has a wired remote that lets me raise the head of the bed to near vertical, or lower it completely flat, and stop anywhere in between. Amazing!

If I know I’ll have an easy time falling asleep on my side, I can leave the elevation a bit higher than if I’m having insomnia and need to lie on my stomach. And of course it delights Em to be able to raise it up and lean against it when it’s iPad Minecraft Time!

1 comment » | Blog

A brand-new ailment

November 14th, 2019 — 7:44pm

Went to the doc today for two reasons.

1) I’ve had a strange red rash on my face for several months; it started around my mouth and has spread all the way to my eyelids. It hurts, itches, and burns; looks raw and red; and has little zitty bumps everywhere.

Doc thinks it’s rosacea — another incurable, chronic, difficult condition to add to my plate. ARGGHHHHHHHHHH.

I’ve had facial flushing for years because of the high-powered vasodilators I’m on for the PAH. Looks like that, plus being a fair-skinned middle-aged woman, is a good enough reason for rosacea to get going.

“Rosacea is a common inflammatory skin disorder that can seriously impair quality of life.”

So now I have an antibiotic ointment: metronidazole. Let’s hope it works, and works fast. This condition is driving me absolutely crazy. I want to claw my face off. I miss my beautiful skin :( :( :(

(The second reason I went to doc is kinda gross. Sorry.)

2) Stomach Issues. My remodulin (for PAH) causes severe diarrhea, so I take tons and tons of Imodium to try to keep things on track. My poor stomach is a battleground. But lately I’ve been feeling just really crummy, like I always feel full, everything I eat makes me bloated and gassy, I feel constipated but then I have diarrhea… etc. Doc says massage my abdomen and skip the Imodium for a few days, then start back up gradually and add Pepto to the mix. So…. I will be in the bathroom 24 hours a day for the next few days I suppose. UGH.

3 comments » | Blog

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