Gratitude List (March 25, 2022) #TToT

It’s the last weekend of March. I didn’t realize it until I read it in this week’s Ten Things of Thankful. Yay, I’m joining in again with a gratitude post! Here goes.

1. I am grateful for daylight until nearly 7PM in the evening. Make that 8PM come this Sunday, as we’re entering daylight saving time. Yay!

2. I am grateful for a field of daisies near the day center. I am grateful I was able to take a few photos of them and I didn’t fall over when sitting on my knees to snap the pics.

Daisy

3. I am grateful I didn’t lose interest in polymer clay altogether. I made a unicorn again today and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also worked on another, larger polymer clay project yesterday.

4. I am grateful the weather permitted me to go outside without a jacket on several days this week.

5. I am grateful for a delicious microwave omelette on Wednesday. I didn’t use cooking oil or butter to microwave the egg, so according to the dietitian, it’s as healthy as a boild egg. I also added chopped onion and bell pepper.

Microwave Omelette

6. I am grateful for birdsong. I got awoken by a bird at 6AM several mornings this week. Though I wasn’t particularly thrilled about that, I do appreciate the sound of birds singing in general.

7. I am grateful it was pay day on Wednesday. I had a whole list of things I wanted to buy in my mind that I had told myself to wait for until pay day at least. So far, I’ve only ordered one thing off the list and that’s something I’ll need for a staff’s birthday next week. Sadly, I haven’t received it yet and have no way of tracking it down.

8. I am grateful I was able to get through a few intense days full of emotional, visual and bodily flashbacks thanks to the support of some trusted staff. I am grateful these few staff are still there and, though no-one can predict the future, they don’t intend on leaving.

9. I am grateful for my PRN quetiapine. It helped me calm down on Tuesday, when I was having a particularly rough evening.

10. I am grateful for my journaling app, Day One. I picked it up again and finally figured out how to use tags properly in it. I also transferred a template from Diarium, the other journaling app I’d been using. One of the good points of Diarium is that it has its templates available in other languages than English, but other than that, I think I prefer Day One after all. I am really hoping I can make journaling a habit again.

What have you been grateful for?

Yet Another Goodbye

One of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompts this week is to show your readers your most recent photo and to let it inspire your blog post. This might not be an easy prompt for other people to be doing without cheating, but I rarely take random pictures. As such, I do have a clear story behind my most recent picture.

This picture shows a necklace I made this morning for a staff who’s leaving. Yes, yet another staff is leaving my care home. It’s the fifth or so within the past four or five months. At least as many people have looked around at my home to see if they might want to work here, but none do. Thankfully though, my care home has managed to attract a few new staff from internships and the other care homes that are part of my care facility. Overall, it all still makes me intensely sad.

This staff who’s leaving now had only been working here for six months, but I did kind of trust her already. Some staff say this means I can build trust in new staff too, seeing that I could develop a kind of attachment to this staff within six months. The reality is though, I don’t think I want to build trust in another staff, knowing that the reality of the current employment climate is they can leave when they feel like it and no-one can guarantee me they won’t leave within a certain timeframe. After all, originally this staff planned on working here for at least several years too.

I did feel kind of like I had to make something for this staff, so I made this necklace. The round-looking beads are actually hearts. The story behind the beads is also interesting: another staff found them while clearing out a fellow client’s cupboard and had no idea whose they are. They most likely aren’t hers or at least she isn’t able to use them because the holes in the beads are far too narrow. Ultimately, the staff decided to give them to me. I at one point thought I might be able to use them for macrame, but the holes are far too narrow for that too.

The staff who is leaving is the staff who got me Indonesian takeaway food, the best Asian food I’d ever had, last week. She said that, on Monday, when it’s her last shift here, she’s bringing me another meal. I think that’s really kind of her.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Ten Things I Love About Spring

Hi everyone. It’s the first day of spring, so what better day than today to share my favorite things about spring? Granted, I didn’t come up with this idea myself, but found it in a list of journaling prompts. Here goes.

1. The flowers. Yesterday, I came across a spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum). I love the many other spring flowers, including daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, etc.

Spring Snowflake

2. The sunshine. When it’s sunny on a spring day, it’s not so sunny that I will get very easily sunburned. Not that I get sunburned easily anyway, and I do make sure to use a facial cream with sunscreen when going out in spring too. However, I really like the spring sunshine more than winter’s or summer’s sunshine.

3. The temperatures. This week, we get really great spring weather, with temperatures rising to about 18°C. I love this. It usually gets like this even more often in April and May and may even get warmer, which I like more. My ideal daytime temperature is about 22°C.

4. The birdsong. I really love to hear the birds sing in spring! I of course can listen to birdsong on Spotify too, but the real thing is much better.

5. My mood usually being better. I know that spring fatigue is a form of seasonal affective disorder, but I don’t suffer from it. In fact, my mood tends to improve in spring.

6. The smells. Of course, this is related to the flowers, as most spring-related scents are floral. I really love the smell of hyacinths in particular.

7. The fact that sunset is still early enough that I can go outside close to it to take pictures. I recently learned that taking pictures outdoors at midday will make the pictures look bad due to overexposure to sunlight, so I instead decided to go out to take pictures closer to sunset. (Sunrise, as regular readers of my blog will know, is way too early for my liking even in the middle of winter.) Now that it’s early spring, the sun sets at around 6:45PM, but when daylight saving time sets in this Sunday, that will be an hour later. In the middle of summer, I won’t be able to go out close to sunset because my one-on-one will have left, but in spring, I will still be able to.

8. Daylight saving time. This means longer days (for me). I already talked about the advantages of it for photography, but it also means I can have the curtains open longer and get daylight in.

9. Baby animals being born. And the cows at the nearby farm being released from their barn. It’s awesoome to watch farm animals in spring.

10. Extra money in May. For whatever weird reason, people on disability benefits, like those in regular employment, get holiday pay. This is deposited into my bank account in May. I usually have something in mind to spend it on (other than a vacation) months in advance. This year, I’m still undecided, but I really look forward to it.

What are your favorite things about spring?

Sunday Ramble: Motivation and Positivity

Hi everyone! I’m feeling full of ideas today, but none make it out of my head and into my hands. I’m talking both crafting and blogging here. Thankfully, with respect to blogging, I can always count on some great bloggers to provide me with prompts. Today, I’m participating once again in E.M.’s Sunday Ramble. This week the topic is positivity. Here goes.

1. What are the greatest attributes about you that make you feel good about yourself?
First up is, of course, my creativity! Many years ago, I would have said my intelligence, but I don’t really value that as much anymore. I do still consider it an asset that I’m a quick learner, but it’s not like I feel particularly good about being intelligent. It does make me feel good that I have many interests and I do consider that both related to my creativity and my intellectual ability.

2. What is/are your biggest motivation/s to get things done?
I find that I’m very much driven by an internal sense of motivation that comes in spurts and then goes away completely again. I’m not really sure what motivates me to do things I’d not otherwise be motivated for, other than maybe a kick in the butt from my staff.

3. Do you have any tips that could help others with their own motivation?
No, not really. I mean, other than getting treatment for obvious mental health problems that stand in the way of motivation, such as depression and anxiety. It may also help, if like me you’re neurodivergent (autistic, ADHD, etc.), to ask for help with step-by-step instructions on daily life tasks. There are groups for this on Facebook, such as Neurodivergent Cleaning Crew (I’m not a member of that one as I don’t do my own cleaning). That still may not help with actual motivation though.

4. As you are sitting there reading this question, look around you. What item in your home/work/car (wherever you are) made you smile when you looked at it?
I cannot actually look at it, being that I’m blind, and I cannot touch it from where I’m sitting at my desk, but my bed with all my stuffed animals and the satin duvet cover and pillow case that I got from a staff definitely makes me smile! I just had to leave my desk to take a picture (of course I did arrange the stuffed animals for it!).

5. What always makes you laugh and smile in your life?
My husband’s jokes! He has the funniest sense of humor.

How about you? What always makes you laugh and smile?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (March 18, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’ve been neglecting my blog a bit as other creative passions take over. I really need to remedy that. Today, I’m once again late writing a post, as it’s nearly 9PM. At least I’m writing something. I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. As you can imagine, it’s rather late for coffee for my liking, but I bet we still got soft drinks in the fridge. I allowed myself a Dubbelfrisss this evening. I normally skip them, as they’re not 100% sugar-free and I’d rather have an extra piece of candy than this. Today though, I gave myself permission for both some licorice and the Dubbelfrisss. Anyway, Dubbelfrisss is only slightly carbonated, but we might have coke too or even alcohol-free beer (alcohol isn’t allowed here). Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I had a good appt with my psychiatric nurse practitioner on Monday. Last week Friday, I had had a panic attack. It was related to the war in Ukraine and fear of what might happen, which I realized at my appt is different from a flashback to a traumatic experience I really did go through in the past. Not that it really mattered in that moment, as the feeling was just as overwhelming.

I also linked the panic attack to the staff who had triggered me and, since this staff is new, I felt really anxious about the whole situation of allowing him to work with me one-on-one. Thankfully, once it got to this point, we were able to talk through the issue and let it go that way. And indeed, this staff’s first time working one-on-one with me went pretty well if you ask me.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, on Wednesday, I cooked the best chicken pilav! I did most of the cutting of the vegetables myself (the chicken was pre-cut) and also most of the cooking. We had my favorite rice with the pilav too!

Chicken Pilav

If we were having coffee, I’d also tell you that I’ve been taking more flower photos. I finally started actually snapping the pictures myself most of the time rather than letting my staff do most of the actual photographing. Of course, my staff still have to tell me where to point the camera. It’s cool that I can make use of my knowledge of photography, gathered from photography blogs of course, to help the staff figure out ways to help me take better pictures.

I’ve also been running a few of my photos through a plant identification app called PictureThis. The one below is a Chaenomeles Japonica.

Chaenomeles Japonica

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that yesterday, I decided semi-impulsively to go to Action to try to find macrame cords. Obviously, experienced macrame artists would say I should get high-quality cords, but I’m just trying to get a hang on the knots. The lark’s head knot, square knot and spiral knot are relatively doable after some practice, but I keep getting stuck on the half hitch knot (and don’t even get me started on its variations). I mean, when I saw a beginner tutorial with pictures, it sounded a lot easier than I thought it should be. That tutorial was doing the half hitch knot with just two cords, which all other tutorials show isn’t possible. I’m pretty sure I spent some significant time tying just plain ordinary “old bitch knots”, as my husband would likely call them.

With respect to my shopping spree at Action, I also ended up buying a lot of felt stickers that I now don’t know what to use them for, a new organizing box that I may not even be able to use yet, deodorant, butterscotch candies and probably more. I spent less than €10, but that’s also because my staff paid for the macrame cord and the felt stickers from day center budget.

How have you been?

Things That Made Me Smile (March 14, 2022) #WeeklySmile

Hi all. I’m joining the Weekly Smile today. I don’t promise this will be a weekly feature, of course, but the hashtag is #WeeklySmile. I could really use a bit of cheer today, so I’m going to share some little things that gave me joy lately. Hopefully writing about them will make me smile now too.

First up are flowers once again. Last Thursday as well as yesterday, I went for a walk and took some pictures of flowers I came across on my way. The below picture is of an anemone we came across yesterday. We initially called it a giant crocus, but I found out it’s an anemone by running the picture through some plant identification apps.

That’s my second little joy: I just love learning about all sorts of different plants and running my pictures through identification apps. I haven’t yet found the perfect plant identification app after having tried out several, but that’s okay.

Finally, a thing that’s been making me smile for days: discovering an app that will allow me (with some help) to make collages and mosaics with my photos. The app is called PhotoGrid and, though some parts of the app are free, I decided to try out the premium membership right away and didn’t cancel when my trial period (which admittedly is only three days) was over. The below collage, my staff and I made with most of the photos we’d taken while going for a walk on Thursday. I’m linking this post to Mosaic Monday. Hope I did it right.

One of my staff later suggested I use this collage as my cover photo on Facebook, so I did. I had never had a cover photo before.

It may seem weird that I, being blind, like photography. However, with the image description tools, including now the plant identification apps, on my phone, I think it’s a great way of getting acquainted with my surroundings.

A Walk on Wednesday

Hi all on this beautiful Wednesday. It was sunny all day and the temperature reached 13°C in the afternoon. For this reason, I decided to go for a nice walk again. I’m still not fully recovered from COVID, but I was able to walk for about 15 minutes without feeling very tired. I really enjoyed my walk!

I took my phone with me on my walk, so that I could hopefully snap a picture of some flowers in bloom. I was really surprised when my staff said that the daffodils were in bloom in a garden we passed by. I mean, I’d been of the impression that they don’t blossom until sometime in mid-April at the earliest. I did feel a little self-conscious, taking a picture of some random person’s flowers, but oh well, we weren’t taking the flowers away.

Like I may’ve said before, VoiceOver Recognition no longer automatically describes images when I tap on them. However, contrary to what I used to think, image recognition isn’t completely gone; it was just moved to being its own separate function. This does allow for more detail to be added into the descriptions. In this case, VoiceOver clearly recognized that there are daffodils in this picture both on the lower right and lower left side of the image. I love this!

I’m linking this post with Cee’s Flower of the Day.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 25, 2021)

Hi everyone on this cloudy but warm Saturday afternoon. We’re supposed to get temperatures to rise to as high as 25°C tomorrow. I remember once, I think it was in 1999, writing in my diary in late September that I wished for this high a temperature for once that year still. Three or four years ago, it even got to 27°C one day in mid-October.

Anyway, I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. It’s 2:30PM, so I just had my afternoon coffee, but the other clients are still having theirs. Yesterday, the late shift actually came to my room with another cup of coffee at 3:15PM, because apparently the other clients had been late having theirs and she erroneously thought this meant I still needed to have coffee too. I didn’t mind, of course. Anyway, let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I managed to get my corona pass ready in time for this requirement in restaurants and indoor events today. Not that I’m likely to go eat out at a restaurant or go to the theater anytime soon. In fact, I’m feeling a bit off about this requirement, even though, as a fully vaccinated person, I’m good to go. Getting the CoronaCheck app, on which you need to create your pass, to work, was a bit of a hassle, because for some stupid reason the “Next” button to get beyond the introductory screen wasn’t easy to locate with VoiceOver. I eventually asked one of my staff to click that button for me and from there could do everything myself.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I celebrated two years in the care facility earlier this week. I made a cheesecake with my favorite large cookies, ie. stroopwafels.

Stroopwafel Cheesecake

I did worry at first whether the other clients could eat it, as most are at higher risk of choking. However, apparently the staff were able to sufficiently blend the cake so that it was edible by everyone.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that this week was quite a good one in the walking department. I got in over 10K steps almost everyday. That one day that I didn’t reach my goal, I really should have looked at my Fitbit, since I needed only like 100 more steps to reach it.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, at the recommendation of one of the community psychiatric nurses at the mental health team, I’ve been taking my phone with me whenever I go on walks. We were discussing my grief about my vision loss and the wonders of technology and she suggested I take more pictures on my walks. Last Tuesday, I took a picture of the cows in a nearby field.

Cows in a Field

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I sadly haven’t been too creative lately. I tried to create a necklace this morning, but found out midway through it that I didn’t have enough of a certain kind of beads that I needed for it. I didn’t want to start redesigning it all over again, so will do that at some later point.

Overall, this week wasn’t too intense, other than Wednesday. It was a pretty good week.

How have you been?

An Eventful Wednesday

Hi everyone on this Wednesday evening. The weather was beautiful today. It was cold in the morning, but sunny and about 21°C in the afternoon.

This morning, I had an appointment with my community psychiatric nurse. I hadn’t seen her in four weeks, as two weeks ago she had had to cancel due to a crisis situation. This time, I was able to talk through some of my struggles. I vented some of my grief with respect to my blindness. I ended on a positive note though, sharing the wonders of VoiceOver Recognition.

At 1PM, I had a quick dental check-up. The dentist comes to our day center four times a year for these, so I didn’t have to travel. Thankfully, all was well and I was literally gone within minutes.

Then I had a talk with my support coordinator about my upcoming care plan review. We had to discuss my risk inventory. This is a long list of possible risks someone can experience, such as of choking, falling, epileptic seizures, aggression, etc. With each box, the staff have to tick of “Yes” or “No” and if yes, elaborate on the risk. I disagreed with several “No” answers, but then my support coordinator explained that this is within the current care situation. For example, there is no risk to my personal hygiene because my staff are there to help me with this.

I did get my coordinator to add a “Yes” to risks re social media use because my Internet use can often trigger me and lead to meltdowns. I did ascertain that these risk assessments are not necessarily associated with restrictive measures. In other words, just because there’s a risk associated with my Internet use, doesn’t mean they need to restrict my online activity.

Later, I realized there really needs to be a “Yes” in the box on risks associated with overweight too. I had said this at the meeting but my coordinator had said that since I don’t suffer with sores due to fat or the like, there’s no risk. I do feel there is, given that my BMI is above 30 and I need support in maintaining a healthy’ish diet.

I went on three walks this afternoon and evening. On my way back from one of them, my one-on-one asked me whether I wanted to photograph the chickens near the day center. A client at another care home here has always wanted to have chickens and he finally got his wish granted a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, only one of them lays eggs so far. The guy whose chickens these are says the other one’s crest needs to get redder before she will lay eggs. My husband said it might actually be a rooster though. I hope not.

Things That Made Me Smile (August 30, 2021) #WeeklySmile

Hi everyone on this beautiful Monday evening. I was feeling a bit down in the dumps earlier today. The reason is the fact that I had a vision screening by the blindness agency this morning. The result was more or less as I expected: I only have a tiny bit of light perception in the central visual field of my left eye. It however was a bit of a bummer too, in that I’d hoped to perform slightly better.

To cheer myself up, I thought I’d join The Weekly Smile and share how amazingly far assistive technology has come. It may not replace actual vision, but, combined with my imagination, it can go a long way.

What I mean by assistive tech specifically is VoiceOver Recognition, the iPhone’s built-in image description functionality that was released first in iOS 14 not even a year ago. Last month, I already mentioned that it can recognize some basic shapes and colors (such as my pink, heart-shaped polymer clay ornament.

on Wednesday though, my father-in-law posted a picture of a statue to the family’s WhatsApp group and asked us to guess who it was. Without VoiceOver Recognition or similar third-party apps, I would have lost out on the fun. VoiceOver Recognition though immediately described the image as a statue of a bear on a water fountain. I replied with this answer in the group and was asked to name the bear. A little Googling revealed that it was “Berend Botje” from the nursery rhyme by that name.

My husband told me that, from the picture, he hadn’t made out that the statue was of a bear. I ran the image through VoiceOver Recognition and Seeing AI, one of the more commonly-used third-party apps for image description, just now and neither recognized it as a bear specifically this time. However, the fact that I “won” my family’s very visual riddle despite being totally blind, definitely makes me smile.

I’m also joining in with #LifeThisWeek and #SeniSal.