The Wednesday HodgePodge (August 17, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’m joining the Wednesday HodgePodge again. Here are Joyce’s questions.

1. August is National Back To School Month…how does that make you feel? Share a back-to-school memory.
I don’t really feel much regarding back-to-school time, as I’m not in school anymore (it’s been 17 years since I graduated high school) and my nieces are too young to be in school. I’m so glad to be out of school though.

A back-to-school memory? My first day at the school for the blind I spent fourth till sixth grade at. We went to church to mark the beginning of the school year, as it was a Christian school. I found it all very strange, having never been to a church before, since my parents are atheists. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep during the service though.

2. Something you’ve learned in “the school of life”?
People who get paid to have any sort of relationship with you, won’t stick around for you, so you have no reason to stay for them either. Yes, I’m referring to my wish to transfer to another care facility here.

3. Three words to describe your current mood.
Unquiet, determined, sad.

4. A summer food you’ve eaten too much of/are tired of? A summer food you haven’t had enough of?
There isn’t any summer food I’m really tired of, though today I turned down another ice cream cone because I’d had three in the past week already. A summer food I haven’t had enough of? Summer fruit!

5. What small stuff do you sweat that you know you shouldn’t?
I tend to get very easily frustrated, so quite a lot, but lately I’ve also tried to solve small problems more rather than just not caring. An example are air bubbles in my clay. The reason that I do try to solve the problem now, is that I know how to (to an extent) rather than just having to wait for my pieces to be cured and then deciding whether they go in the trash or are just about good enough to be displayed. It’s a tricky balancing act of trying not to sweat the small stuff but also trying not to be careless.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Yesterday, we had daytime temperatures of 30°C. It isn’t expected to get this hot again anytime this year. My husband, not surprisingly, started the Christmas prep WhatsApp group with his family. He always does in mid-August. I, too, before we got to discuss this, started reading a winter-themed chapter book.

Book Review: Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie

Hi everyone. Like I said a few weeks ago, I started reading Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie. I discovered it on BookBub, then downloaded it off Bookshare. I finished the book just before midnight yesterday, so here are my thoughts.

Book Blurb

A gripping psychological suspense novel about a woman diagnosed with cancer who sets out to discover if someone poisoned her before her time is up

Jennifer Barnes never expected the shocking news she received at a routine doctor’s appointment: she has a terminal brain tumor—and only six weeks left
to live.

While stunned by the diagnosis, the forty-eight-year-old mother decides to spend what little time she has left with her family—her adult triplets and twin
grandsons—close by her side. But when she realizes she was possibly poisoned a year earlier, she’s determined to discover who might have tried to get rid
of her before she’s gone for good.

Separated from her husband and with a contentious divorce in progress, Jennifer focuses her suspicions on her soon-to-be ex. Meanwhile, her daughters are
each processing the news differently. Calm medical student Emily is there for whatever Jennifer needs. Moody scientist Aline, who keeps her mother at arm’s
length, nonetheless agrees to help with the investigation. Even imprudent Miranda, who has recently had to move back home, is being unusually solicitous.

But with her daughters doubting her campaign against their father, Jennifer can’t help but wonder if the poisoning is all in her head—or if there’s someone
else who wanted her dead.

My Review

The story is told in short chapters and from alternating viewpoints. Jennifer’s story is told in first-person perspective, while her three daughters’ viewpoints are displayed in third-person perspective. I loved both of these aspects. The short chapters allowed me to lay aside the book for a bit when I wanted to do something other than read. The alternating viewpoints allowed me to gain a nice glimpse into each character’s mind, while the fact that Jennifer’s perspective was the only first-person perspective made it clear that she’s supposed to be the center of attention.

I originally thought the book was on the predictable side for a thriller, believing I’d figured out who caused Jennifer’s poisoning by 22% and the exact nature of the ending by 57%. I was wrong. So wrong. In fact, I didn’t figure out the exact nature of the situation until the very end of the book and it’s not because of some stupid plot twist that makes no sense other than it being required to show the reader that this was a thriller after all. In fact, the story is really well-constructed. I once again had trouble letting go of it once I’d finished it. I gave it a five-star rating again even though I noticed its average rating on Goodreads is only 3.65 stars. I’m not even sure I’d give it a 4.5-star rating if I could this time around.

See more details about this book on its Goodreads page.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 13, 2022)

Hi everyone. How are you doing? Want to join me for #WeekendCoffeeShare? I’ve had all my coffee for the day, but I’m soon grabbing a Dubbelfrisss (my favorite soft drink). Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would start out by asking how your weather is. Ours has been hot most of the week. Today, the weather institute officially recorded a heatwave, meaning five days in a row of daytime highs of at least 25°C, including three days of at least 30°C. Today, the temperature reached 32°C here. Tomorrow, it may even get a little hotter. The last officially-recorded heatwave was in 2020.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the woman from the care home down the road from mine was very happy with the polymer clay necklace I gifted her for her birthday. I stayed for a while to have coffee and apple pie.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my orthopedic shoes still aren’t as they should be. I developed two small blisters on my feet after a short walk yesterday evening. Granted, I’d also taken a longer walk in the morning without much trouble, but blisters really shouldn’t happen anyway.

If we were having coffee, I’d complain about the care facility’s WiFi once again. Oh wait, yesterday, I showed gratitude for it, but today I’m complaining, because three days in a row it’s now gone out in the evening. I am currently redirecting my iPhone’s mobile data to my laptop because I was in the middle of typing this blog post when the stupid thing went down.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I did start on the green polymer clay unicorn I mentioned this afternoon after all. I’ve decided it’s going to make a great present for the student staff who’s leaving at the end of this month. I so far only made the surface it’s going to stand on, which is currently in the oven. It took me 45 minutes to create a slab for it that was relatively free of air bubbles. Not completely, but enough that there hopefully won’t be huge holes in the bottom of the thing. Not that they will be seen, if they are there, when the unicorn stands on its surface, but well.

How have you been?

Unicorns, Of Course! #SoCS

Unicorns are my favorite mythical creatures. When I saw that this week’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “U” – to start your post with a word beginning with the letter “U” -, I of course had to go with “unicorn”.

Not that I know much about the origins or meanings of unicorns. I mean, I love reading chapter books about them, in which they are always described as having magical powers. For example, in the Branches Books early chapter book Bo’s Magical New Friend, a unicorn tries to help discover her friend’s power. In a chapter book for slightly more advanced readers, Twilight, Say Cheese! by Daisy Sunshine, a unicorn has trouble containing her power of invisibility.

In addition to books, I love stuffed unicorns. I have two. One is Sophie/Rainbow, who has two names because two of my blog readers independently came up with names for her. She is a white unicorn with rainbow-colored mane. The other is completely white and I call her Snowflake.

I also love crafting unicorns out of polymer clay, though I haven’t done it much lately because I haven’t found a way to prevent the thing it stands on from bending and/or developing air bubbles. I do really want to create another unicorn soon, but am too busy with the presents for various people to get to that one. I already have the colors I want to use for my next polymer clay unicorn though. It will be three different intensity levels of a bright green.

Gratitude List (August 12, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I want to write a gratitude post this evening. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here are my gratefuls.

1. I am grateful for my husband’s new car. Last week Sunday, he came by for a visit and drove me to Subway for lunch in it. It’s a Fiat Panda. I remember those as really small and uncomfortable cars, as my parents had one from the mid-1980s back when my sister and I were children. This one’s a 2010 model though and much better.

2. I am grateful I was able to finish the necklace for the woman in the nearby care home who has her birthday tomorrow. The Fimo beads did get a little discolored, even the white ones that I’d cured at 110°C. Oh well, according to my husband, the colors do fit nicely together.

3. I am grateful I actually got the money back from the pasta machine I’d ordered and then returned. I wanted to spend it on polymer clay supplies I do want at that same store this evening, but then somehow our Internet broke down.

4. I am grateful for Internet access on my iPhone, so that I wasn’t completely cut off when the care facility’s WiFi broke down.

5. I am grateful the WiFi is back up for now. After all, blogging on my iPhone is still a pain.

6. I am so grateful my one-on-one shift today got sorted eventually. The care home is so short-staffed that no-one could initially be found to work my shift. They finally found a solution that was far from ideal, for the person doing my shift and me, but we got through it.

7. I am grateful for ice cream cones. Like I said on Wednesday, a staff bought them for me when we were at the supermarket. We still had some left today, so I got one again.

8. I am grateful for a tiny bit of weight loss regardless. I didn’t really mind my diet over the past week and it was too hot for exercise, but still I lost 0.2kg.

9. I am grateful getting blood drawn wasn’t painful yesterday. I went to the doctor last week because my IBS-related symptoms seem to be increasing and changing. The doctor ordered bloodwork just to be sure it’s nothing else and I had to have it drawn yesterday. I have really thin veins, so usually it’s real trouble, but not this time.

10. I am grateful for books, music, YouTube videos and podcasts to entertain and inspire me.

What are you grateful for?

My Ideal Space

I have been thinking about my ideal living space lately; a space I can feel safe, secure and at home in. When I wrote my post describing my safe space a few weeks ago, I realized that, other than the unicorns, I could almost recreate my safe space right here in my current care facility. In fact, I have nothing to complain about my room, with my private bathroom, kitchenette and even my own balcony.

So why do I feel I want to move to a different care facility, and why, in fact, do I feel like I actually want to sacrifice some of the aspects that make my current room great, in order to live in a more suitable care home, and what does “more suitable” even mean? I’ve said many times that I want to move to institution grounds, because then I’d be able to feel like I’d be more sheltered when going outdoors. Thankfully, most of my current readers didn’t know me fifteen years ago, or they’d call me crazy now for such a 180-degree turn from saying institutionalization is bad and community care is always preferrable to now wishing to be institutionalized myself.


This post was written for this week’s Six-Sentence Story link-up, for which the prompt word is “space”.

An Engaging Wednesday

Hi everyone. I originally wanted to title this post a “creative”, then “inspired” Wednesday. Both fit, in a way, but neither fully captures the essence of today. Not that “engaging” does, but I ran out of adjectives to think of. I spent the day crafting and watching personal growth YouTube videos and that’s what I want to talk about. Oh, I could just have written “A day spent crafting and watching YouTube videos” as my post title. Then again, that’s too long.

In the morning, I finished a YouTube video in which an enneagram geek talked about annoying things type Fours say and do, then watched another of her videos about things to know before dating an Eight. No, I’m not looking to find another lover. My husband is an Eight and I just thought it funny to learn about all the stupid mistakes I’d made all along. Of course, I could just listen to my husband (that’s the first tip!).

Re the other video, I may write a separate blog post listing all the ways in which I relate to all these annoying things Fours do and say. And yes, I related completely to all but one of them.

Then, when my day activities started, I had my morning coffee, then went for a short walk while it was still cool enough outside. My orthopedic shoes arrived yesterday and I can now actually walk on them without any pain. I won’t get my hopes up, because I have been saying all along that they won’t be ready until 2034 and that’s exactly when World War III is going to start according to a book by that title. I am too superstitious to admit publicly that my shoe problem is over yet.

After my walk, my staff and I drove to the supermarket for quark, which I eat for breakfast. We also both got ourselves a sausage roll for lunch and she treated me to ice cream cones. Of course, I just ate one today and she had one too, so the rest are in the freezer.

In the afternoon, I first used my alcohol inks that I’d bought at Action several weeks ago. I had finally managed to create earring pieces that didn’t have air bubbles in them and was going to add a little alcohol ink to them for some extra color. The pieces haven’t been turned into actual earrings yet.

Then in the evening, I crafted the last of the polymer clay beads I’ll need for the necklace I’m making for the person from the other care home. I’m probably going to put together the necklace tomorrow. Overall, it was a good day.

Book Review: The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart

A few weeks ago, I was looking for something new to read and decided to look on Bookshare whether authors I’d previously enjoyed, had had books released that I hadn’t yet read. It turned out Erin Stewart had. The Words We Keep was already released a few months ago, but I hadn’t yet known about it. Its blurb immediately appealed to me, as I am myself a mental health consumer and I love poetry. Here’s my review.

Summary

It’s been three months since The Night on the Bathroom Floor–when Lily found her older sister Alice hurting herself. Ever since then, Lily has been desperately trying to keep things together, for herself and for her family. But now Alice is coming home from her treatment program and it is becoming harder for Lily to ignore all of the feelings she’s been trying to outrun.

Enter Micah, a new student at school with a past of his own. He was in treatment with Alice and seems determined to get Lily to process not only Alice’s experience, but her own. Because Lily has secrets, too. Compulsions she can’t seem to let go of and thoughts she can’t drown out.

When Lily and Micah embark on an art project for school involving finding poetry in unexpected places, she realizes that it’s the words she’s been swallowing that desperately want to break through.

My Review

This story is told entirely from Lily’s point of view in first person perspective. I like that, as it shows Lily’s innermost thoughts and experiences through her own eyes. Interspersed are Lily’s made-up words (which took me a while to figure out weren’t actually real English words) and her poems. These aren’t particularly excellent, but they definitely give me a glimpse into her world too. Besides, my poetry as a teen (or even now) is probably worse.

Even though this book deals with heavy subject material, I really wanted it to be a feel-good read too. In this sense, some of the twists I didn’t see coming, disappointed me a little, but they were also important to the overall story.

I really liked Erin Stewart’s writing style of alternating between storytelling and such vignettes as poetry or Lily’s made-up words.

Overall, I gave this book five stars on Goodreads, but I would’ve given it 4.5 stars if Goodreads did half stars. The reason is the disappointment I felt at some of the plot twists. This book really gave me a bit of a book hangover.

Book Details

Title: The Words We Keep
Author: Erin Stewart
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: March 15, 2022

Technophobia

Today’s topic for Sadje’s Sunday Poser is tech-phobia. Sadje describes having been encouraged to learn Linux for a while and having had a Macbook sitting around for several months now too, but both intimidate her. She asks us, and specifies that her question may be more relevant to those of us who didn’t grow up with modern tech, whether we’re tech-phobic.

I grew up with computers and got an Internet connection when I was fifteen. That’s relatively late for someone my age, but I attribute that to the fact that I’m blind. After all, my parents did have access to the Internet already, but my first private computer, or rather the Braille display that came with it, didn’t support Internet Explorer.

When I was fifteen, I acquainted myself with the Internet quite quickly, but still stuck to old-fashioned methods and platforms far too long. I mean, I had a DiaryLand diary until 2007, when I finally moved to WordPress. Currently, the fact that for this post, I’m still using the classic editor, is probably proof of the same. I think I’m quite old-fashioned when it comes to technology. I am rarely the type to try out new functions when they first come out, or even when they’ve been out for a while.

With respect to Sadje’s question of being overwhelmed by new technologies, such as smartphones, I can only answer in the affirmative. Of course, again, this is complicated by the fact that I’m blind. I mean, a regular touch screen can’t be worked by a blind person, so it was no wonder I felt hugely incompetent when my husband tried to guide me hands-on to send a text message on his phone when I was about 29.

I was nearly 31 when I decided I wanted to learn to use a smartphone after all. Thankfully, a blind person who was also a qualified computer trainer for the visually impaired lived in my town. He came by the psych hospital to introduce me to the iPhone. He allowed me to use his iPhone to practise on during our introductory lessons, because of course if I couldn’t learn to use an iPhone there was no point in me buying one myself. Eventually, I not only was found to have the skills necessary to learn, but I mastered the use of the iPhone in half of the amount of course time he’d originally thought I’d need.

Since starting to use an iPhone, I have overcome some of my technophobia, but not all of it. Like I said, I still dread the WordPress block editor.

I’m also somewhat anxious about possibly making the transition from touchID to faceID on a phone. I know, I don’t have to, as Apple released the third generation iPhone SE last March, but with the fact that I now have a second generation SE, it just doesn’t quite cut it, honestly. For this reason, I’m really looking forward to the models going to be released this fall. Then again, if I can’t get faceID to work for me, this might be a lot of money gone to waste (unless I find out soon enough and can return the thing).

I’ve also been thinking of buying an Apple watch. That’s less of a risky investment than the faceID iPhone, as firstly they’re less expensive and secondly it’s not as essential (yeah, I consider my phone to be essential now). Both of these pieces of technology though induce my technophobia. But they’re both also really cool.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 6, 2022)

Hi everyone on this first Saturday of August. Okay, that starting phrase gets boring, but who cares? Well, me, but I can’t think of any better way to start my post. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I’ve had five cups of coffee already today and it’s mid-afternoon. Want one too? I hope I haven’t used up the whole pot. Well, it’s a virtual coffee share. Let’s have a coffee and let’s chat.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask about your weather as usual. Ours has been mostly warm, sometimes hot. On Wednesday in particular, the daytime temperature rose to 31°C. Today, it’s only about 21°C. I even wore long sleeves this morning when going out for a walk.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I discovered a function I hadn’t previously known about existed in JAWS, my computer’s screen reader. When you press INSERT+4, INSERT being the designated JAWS key, JAWS displays a menu with special characters to select from, such as the euro sign, the degrees sign I used above, etc. Before I knew about this function, I’d do a Google search for something that’d pop up the character I wanted, copy/paste it into a text document and copy/paste from that document to my blog. However, if I wanted a character that wasn’t yet in the document, I’d need to do a search all over again. Besides, it’d mean having to open a separate app, in this case Notepad, and copy/pasting from there rather than selecting the character from the menu.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that, today, I started on 25mg rather than 27.5mg of aripiprazole (Abilify), my antipsychotic. So far, so good, but I’m not expecting any effects as of yet, as aripiprazole has a half life of 72 hours and the dosage decrease is so small anyway. This is my second decrease out of possibly twelve, each taking three months. That’s an incredibly slow taper, but it’s this way so that any possible changes in my mood and/or behavior can be observed over time.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been busy crafting this past week. Someone from a neighboring care home has her birthday next week and a fellow resident from my care home has his birthday on the 25th. I asked the woman who has her birthday next week what her favorite color is and she immediately understood why. “Ah, you know when I have my birthday!” she exclaimed. Of course, I didn’t reveal anything else. I am creating a necklace with all polymer clay beads for her. I did this for someone else, who had her birthday at the end of January, and back then it’d taken me weeks to create all the beads. Now, I was able to do half of them in one day. The other half is a little harder, because that color of clay is more difficult to work with.

For the man who’s having his birthday on the 25th, I bought a canvas, which I painted black this week and am going to decorate with polymer clay cookie cutter shapes once I’ve finished the necklace. I am doing his name and a car. Since the challenge theme for this month in the Dutch polymer clay Facebook group is mixed media, I’m also thinking of including some other technique, but I’m not yet sure what.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that today, my husband went to get his new-to-him car, a Fiat Panda. He’s coming for a visit tomorrow. We originally thought of driving to some town or city in the area, but neither of us can think of an interesting one, so we may just go to Subway to have lunch.

How have you been?