Monday, December 27, 2010

Important work

The list of things I was supposed to get at least started on tonight is pretty long.

Once my latest headache broke, I'd promised myself, I would Get Busy. The piles of unwashed laundry alone are borderline hoarder-y, never mind gross, and then there's the necessary wrangling of pet-fur dust bunnies, some of whose size rival that of the cat. I need to sort papers to do my taxes. Organize a drawer or two or 10. Find about six pairs of earrings that have gone missing. And so on -- you get the idea. The chaos is reaching epic proportions, and if it bothers me when my head hurts, it's definitely time to take matters in hand.

But, it turns out, when you have a nearly-16-year-old dog, your time is not your own. As I earnestly outlined my semi-ambitious To Do list, I caught Daisy out of the corner of my eye. Sitting next to me on the couch and just watching me. And, I think, waiting. For me and my attention, which had also been a bit absent prior to the headache breaking.

Putting aside pen and paper, I sat back on the couch and she climbed right into my lap, curled up into a ball, sighed maybe the most contented sigh I've ever heard, and was sound asleep inside 60 seconds.

This, it turns out, is all I need to do tonight.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Having a spell

I may have technically been born in New York City and lived my adult life in California, but I am a Southerner through and through. Raised by a mother from Georgia in suburban Houston, it's only been in adulthood that my accent has flattened out to where it's not immediately apparent where I'm from until I'm tired (or had a glass or two of wine...). The "y'all"s have stayed, though -- what can I say? it's a great plural. And I say other words strangely. The word "lever" is apparently not pronounced LEE-ver; the thing you use to keep the rain off you is not an UM-brella, but an um-BRELL-a; and so on.

It turns out, when I'm under duress, the colloquialisms also come back. Daisy had a pretty bad seizure very early this morning; she's been having small ones off and on, and given her advanced age -- and given the fact that she is basically a little Southern old lady herself, a case or two of the vapors every now and then is not unexpected. But this morning's was especially bad, and scared me. Scared me enough, as it turned out, to bring the Southern dialect back in full force.

I called the vet's answering service in a panic and was connected with a very kind and patient person who tried to get salient information from me about what was wrong with Daisy before she called the on-call vet for me. And I was telling her, over and over, what was wrong. She kept saying, "Beg your pardon?" "I don't understand," and "Can you say that again, please, ma'am?" And I thought (but thankfully did not say), "Are you learning impaired, lady? I mean, how plain do I need to be here?"

It was only when I stopped to draw breath that she said "I'm sorry, but what do you mean she's had a 'spell,' exactly?"

After much of the day at the vet, Daisy is home (she'll be heading back to spend the day there under observation while I go to work tomorrow), medicated on anti seizure medicine to the point that she is snoring with her tongue stuck out, and Boo is hovering protectively.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Could it be this simple?

One of the message boards I frequent has a lot of other migraine sufferers who post there -- it's not a migraine board per se, but lots of us get them so it's a topic that comes up pretty frequently. I was browsing topics there today when I saw a post that caught my attention. It said, "Migraine sufferers, could your light bulbs be to blame?" And it contained a link to this brief article from 2008:
Sure, we know you want to do your part for the planet and all that jazz, but what if conserving energy is killing you? Okay, well, it might not be killing you, but according to a new report out of the UK, it's possible that those new-fangled fluorescent bulbs everyone is telling you to buy these days may be aggravating your migraines, making you nauseous, or causing you physical pain (if you've got lupus). The Daily Mail says that because the bulbs work in the same fashion as typical fluorescent bulbs (which can be irritating to some), the subtle flickering inherent to the technology can cause problems. Britain's Migraine Action Association director Paul Jansen said, "For some people a migraine attack can be triggered by fluorescent lights, video screens, stroboscopic effects and flashing lights." And added that, "We hope that the Government will allow regular light bulbs still to be available to those who need them." On the flip side, compact fluorescent supporters say only older technology or low-energy bulbs have flickering issues, and that new models being produced are clear of problems. Surely that may be the case -- but we need something to blame this stabbing eye pain on.
It would sure make sense -- my headaches have dramatically increased in the last couple of years, during which I have also switched the vast majority of light bulbs at home over to compact fluorescents (to save both money and energy). The majority of my headaches used to start mid-day (when I was coincidentally at work under fluorescent lights), whereas now I get them any time of the day or night. My exposure to fluorescents was also previously limited to my work hours, and now it's basically any time I am awake.

I need to do a lot more research, and even from a cursory Google search it seems the jury's out on the nexus between whatever flickering there might be in compact fluorescent bulbs and migraine headaches, but it sure makes me wonder.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


  • Yep. I haven't written in a while. Head, work, blah blah. The reasons why are not interesting even to me.
  • The Legislature is in the death throes of its last two days of the regular legislative session (known as sine die, even though the technical time for that is the last day of November) -- and I am home. On the couch. Got hit pretty hard with stomach flu on Saturday and have been down ever since. All year the Legislature basically gears up for these final days, and while they are strange and challenging, they are also part and parcel of why most of us work there -- in spite of the weird hours and sleep deprivation and grueling sessions, it's what we do. And not to be there for these last two days has been ... interesting. 
  • And in the last few days, a couple of my sisters in Christ have really preached to me through their examples. One became a first-time mom yesterday to a beautiful little girl -- after a pregnancy wrought with crippling morning sickness and all sorts of issues that arose from that. She too once worked in the Capitol and in the course of three years, she's now married, home full time and as of yesterday -- a mommy. It sort of blows my mind.
  • Another sister wrote on her blog about her full hands -- the blessing of being home with her children -- in a way that brought tears to my eyes. She acknowledged the work, the sacrifice of some things she loved from her single days, but was so clear about the blessings God's provided through His provision of a husband, children and a home to keep for them. Our lives, on the outside, could not be more different -- but her clarity and grace blessed me so much.
  • God's used both these women (and my case of the flu) to help me see that my value is not in "the building." It's the work I do, and having integrity where it's concerned is right and good, but I can serve Him where ever He puts me. The Capitol's environment can be a bit like a vacuum -- it's hard to imagine doing other work, or how your skills would even translate to the private sector, or what else you'd even be good at. Five years ago, it would have been unthinkable for me to be home these two days. I would have been beside myself. This year? I'm on the couch, eating Popsicles and sipping Gatorade and waiting for my sea legs to come back.
  • I have no idea if these ramblings even make sense.
  • In other news, Daisy's carb fixation has shifted from potato-based treats to the broader starch category. I've been making and eating lots of rice over the last couple of days, one of the few foods I have been able to keep down, and Daisy's prancing and begging has been nonstop. Her new favorite thing is teaspoon-sized balls of cold rice.

Friday, July 23, 2010

On pins and needles

I've tried so many things to alleviate my migraines -- lots of drugs and drug combinations, standard chiropractic and cervical chiropractic adjustments, adjusting my diet -- and so far, nothing has worked in a durable way. I've wanted to try acupuncture for a while, but I didn't know anyone personally who'd tried it and/or could give me a referral to a non-quack.

A couple of weeks ago, lunch with a friend led to a friend of hers recommending an acupuncturist; this woman, too, had had several migraines a week and after being treated with acupuncture weekly for a couple of months, no longer had any. She's now gone a year and a half without a migraine and gets acupuncture monthly as a preventative treatment. I could barely believe my ears ("I can even drink WINE now!" she said), so one thing led to another, and I had my first acupuncture treatment Monday.

I have to say, meeting with the acupuncturist was really different from my standard office visit with an MD. The acupuncturist took a really thorough medical history, including looking at my tongue and drawing a picture of it for my treatment chart. She spent a long time sort of pressing on my abdomen and lower rib cage. As she pressed I kept thinking "But it's my head that hurts. What is she doing?" And then -- ow! A tender spot right under my ribcage on the left. Weird. But she said "Aha!" She want to the same location on the right side, and there too was a sensitive spot. Apparently, soreness in these areas correlates to "congestion" in the liver and gall bladder. That congestion in turn correlates to headaches and migraines.

Talking through my symptoms and triggers took a long time, and then -- out came the needles. She placed several on both sides of my abdomen where the sore spots were, a couple on each of my feet, and then a couple more in the backs of my hands and forearms. My job during all this? To lie on the table and relax. It was not in the least bit painful, but the sensation coming from a few sites where the needles were placed was interesting -- sort of a tingle or radiating feeling. After about 20 minutes, she pulled out the needles. Done.

I'm going to go weekly for a while. I really hope it will provide some relief.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Eliana tells the tale

I can hardly stand how cute Christina and David's kids are anyway, but Eliana's retelling of last night's adventures is almost more than I can take, cuteness wise.

Party like it's 1998

Someone seems to be a bit tuckered out today.

Someone has I think realized she's a lot closer to 105 in human years than 21, so she's paying a but of a price for last night's bacchanal. And she seems a little embarrassed about the whole thing, too, if that's possible.

Her feet are better today and based on the snoring and drooling, she's resting comfortably.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Daisy's brief but glorious life of crime

Daisy is, as I am sure most of you know, your basic small, pampered, inside dog. While remarkably spry, she is still 15 years old, so most of her adventures these days involve chasing the cat, begging for potato-based treats and sneaking upstairs to my room when I'm not looking, wriggling under the covers of my bed, and sleeping.

I have a small back yard with a largely decorative, three-foot-tall wrought iron fence around its grassy area. The whole time we've lived here, which would be nine-plus years, Daisy has never once tested the fence's integrity. The visual boundary was sufficient -- this area was her yard and she had free reign within it. But she never went outside the little fence without her leash -- never even tried to.

The guy who cuts my grass came today, and sometimes he doesn't close the little iron gate into the back yard when he finishes. Often I come home on Friday afternoons and it's half open, so I know to check it on Fridays in particular when I let Daisy outside when I get home.  Today was no different -- the first time I let Daisy out after he left this afternoon, I visually checked the gate. It was closed; out she went.

Except it wasn't closed, because after a while, I realized I'd lost track of time and went to let Daisy in -- and she was gone, the iron gate swung fully open.

The next few hours were not great. Crying. Hyperventilating. Combing the neighborhood. Berating myself for not putting my cell number on her tags. Designing and printing and hanging fliers. Calling Shu! and freaking out. Walking and driving around, calling for her, listening for her, watching the sky getting darker and darker while realizing she is 15 stinking years old and a slightly feeble inside dog, not some sort of young outdoorsy creature, and the best case scenario was that she was scared and lost somewhere.

Shu found someone on Craigslist who'd seen her at like 6:30 near the park by my house, and he talked me in to the area via Google Maps, and then as I was walking in that area, a couple said they'd seen a small dog running but didn't know what color is was. Adding to the fun -- I have no answering machine at home since I switched to cell for my main phone service. So I kept coming home every little bit and dialing *69 (like a creepy teenager) to see if anyone had tried to call while I was out looking since they couldn't leave messages. Finally at almost 10:00, pay dirt -- *69 gave me a number to a guy, Nathan, who had Daisy at his house! Which was almost a mile away in the opposite direction to where the Craigslist lady had made her sighting. Daisy Mae Clampitt had covered some ground.

With Shu! on the speaker phone I drove over -- to find Daisy drinking bottled water out of a cute little bowl surrounded by gang bangers (complete with scary tattoos and shaved heads) sitting in lawn chairs in a circle around her on the driveway. I ran to her -- she was completely unhurt, a miracle in itself -- and she looked at me puzzled, like she had no idea who this sweaty crying lady was. The guys were very sweet about the whole thing, and she hung over my shoulder, looking back at Nathan longingly as I carried her to the car for the drive home. Halfway through which she seemed to remember "Oh, right, the lady who feeds me," and climbed into my lap.

So, to sum up, Daisy is out on her own a matter of hours and manages both to join a gang and find herself a boyfriend. She is a little tender footed from her adventure (it was 103 or something crazy today, so I'm sure the the texture and warmth of the pavement have made her feet sore) but otherwise just fine. I, on the other hand, may need a little more recovery time.

Thanks to everyone for their prayers and concern. And to Shu!, for his cool-headedness and rapid operational strategy. It takes a village.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The latest from Wisteria Lane

I have been home the last couple of days, weaning myself off the most recent failed anti-migraine drug. Going on the meds is always hard, but going off is definitely worse. I'm not going to lie -- it's been pretty rough. And if any of you hear me say ever again, "The doctor wants me to try a new preventative drug and I think I'm going to give it a shot!" you have my advance permission to smack sense into me or take away my prescription card or to otherwise take whatever steps are needed to intervene and make me not do it. Really.

But since the Legislature is, if not in formal recess, in sort of an informal stupor, I haven't missed much. And it turns out there are all sorts of fascinating goings on here in the neighborhood which I don't get to enjoy while gainfully employed.

For instance, the neighbor whose daughter stole my door mat and blocks me into my driveway with her car? Has apparently reunited with her husband. I know this because over the 4th of July weekend there was a giant WHOMP! sort of noise early one morning and, lo and behold, a semi dropped off one of those enormous rectangular container thingies people load their stuff in when they move. Except this one was refrigerated. (Why? Is there a moose or something in there?) Anyway, he and the rectangular thingy were both here through the long weekend. And now the container is gone but he's still here, with the Nickelback blasting. So, yay. A reunion.

The little boy next door who constantly screams continues to do so. His grandparents have been visiting so there's been lots of wiffle-ball-like behaviors followed by uproarious applause, and he's been screaming at them that he loves them, too, just like he screams at his mommy, so that's a really nice thing. At one point his grandmother said something like, "We are so proud of you!" and he screamed back, "I KNOW!" Ha.

Daisy's love of potato-based treats continues apace. I've made tater tots a couple of times over the last few days (potatoes + salt are something that's agreeing with my rebelling digestion), and both times I've caught her while they were baking licking at the opening where the oven door's hinge is and scratching at it. By the time they're out, she just paces and whines and snuffles 'til I share with her.

And I watched "Cloverfield." If you haven't seen it, please don't.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Finding something you didn't know was lost

My mom and I had a, shall we say, challenging relationship. We were very different kinds of people in the first place, which didn't help matters, and while we had some degree of love for each other, I don't think either of us liked the other a great deal. Then there was the brutal childhood and string of stepfathers. I wound up leaving home at 18, finding my way to Alaska through a series of misadventures (pretty much as far away from her as I could be from her and not need a work visa) and winding up in California, where I married and basically built my life as much without her as I could.

But I was an only child. So try as I might to stretch the bonds between us to near the breaking point, and I went years at one point without speaking to her, we eventually settled into a somewhat brittle relationship just as I was finishing college. Recently separated, I was more open to some sort of family, even if it wasn't exactly ideal. And she had made some changes in her life that made this a safer thing to try out.

Just about two years later she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer, which she fought tooth and nail. I went home every 28 days to be with her for the weekend following every chemo treatment, and those years are a literal blur. Somehow having a pretty demanding job at the Capitol here, shuttling back and forth, managing doctors and caregivers and, eventually, hospice from afar. She died in 2001; I packed up her house (with lots of help), moved most of it to California and basically carried on.

I kept a lot of her books; I love books myself, maybe more than she did even, and though the majority of them weren't things I'd choose to read personally, it seemed like a way of keeping a piece of her close. They have been stacked in a spare bedroom in my house, mixed up with books of my own, waiting for me to find the gumption to organize them properly.

Cut to this week, when I found myself ferreting around up there for a particular book. When instead I found this.

A very old Bible. Weird that I hadn't noticed it before, but I figured it was my grandmother's, since she'd attended church. I looked inside.

It had my mother's maiden name in it. Weirder still. Then, the clincher...

It had been given to her by her father. Who died when she I was think 7 or 8.

As someone who felt so separate and apart from her mother even in the closest of moments, this remembrance of her as a little girl, as some one's daughter, bowled me over. A snapshot of her from a time when she was small enough to call her father Daddy and before all badness and craziness and disease. And now that I am a Christian, that we share some connection -- however fleeting, however small -- to the same text.

I keep turning the book over in my hands, wanting to sort of get familiar with it. Its pages are yellowed and its binding weakened, so I have to be really careful, but I've officially moved it out of the piles of books to be sorted some day and down to the family room, where I can see it every day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Maybe it's time for a webcam

I take Ambien to help me sleep.

I've had bouts of insomnia since I was little, and about six weeks or so ago, when I hadn't slept for a couple of days and I mentioned it in passing to my doctor during a migraine appointment, she prescribed Ambien. The sleeplessness might or might be a symptom or causal agent for my headaches, we agreed, but whatever the case, I should be getting some sleep. Every day.

And the sleep has been amazing. Sound sleep undisturbed by my neighbors' garage band and domestic squabbles and pool parties. I actually look forward to going to bed now and wake up feeling much more rested. But I have (apparently) been experiencing at least one of Ambien's most famous side effects -- sleep walking.

It started out with small hints of something being awry. For example, one morning I came downstairs to find the doors of my TV armoire closed. I rarely close them, since the TV runs so warm and I want air to circulate freely. I didn't remember closing it before I went to bed, but whatever.

Then there was the Peanut Butter Incident. I haven't eaten peanut butter since I made the connection between nuts and headaches, and I thought I'd thrown own my last jar. Imagine my surprise when I found an open jar on my kitchen counter one morning -- its lid off and a spoon sitting next to it. All lined up, the spoon licked clean. Apparently my unconscious mind remembered I still had peanut butter in the pantry and wanted a snack. Thankfully there weren't finger marks in the jar.

But finally this week, when I woke up on the couch in the family room with no idea how I'd gotten there -- no memory of getting a blanket out of the linen closet, going down the stairs and curling up with the pets on the couch in the middle of the night -- I had to laugh. I guess I should be worried about what all else I do in the night, that I'll sleepwalk to the garage and paw through the garbage cans like a raccoon or buy a car online or something. But truthfully, the nighttime antics have mostly amused me. The idea that there's a Sleeping Nora who has a pretty interesting life going on, with the wandering around and eating snacks and potentially watching cable.

For the time being at least, I'm going to make sure all my blinds are closed before I head to bed and keep looking for clues in the morning.

Edited to add: Eric reminded me that I also rearranged the kitchen in my sleep! I'd completely forgotten. I woke up one morning to find Sleeping Nora had moved an entire shelf of cookbooks, an espresso machine and coffee maker to different places in the kitchen. I like the arrangement just fine, as it turns out, but that was pretty weird, too.

Monday, May 31, 2010

On Memorial Day

These days I'm reading No Ordinary Time, an amazing book by the way, and as I've read about the days leading up to World War II,  President Franklin Roosevelt's faith in the American people has been striking -- faith in their ability to meet challenges, to overcome want and to strive despite overwhelming circumstances to make the world safer, fairer and more open.

But he knew that none of that came without a price. That however much isolation from Europe's tyrants we were afforded by ocean borders, as long as we stood for something that flew in the face of subjugation and cruelty, eventually we would have to join the fight.

FDR had no illusions about war's horrors, price and reality. And to whom it would fall to bear their brunt. With the Great War still sharp in Americans' memories and Nazis sweeping through Europe, he committed the country's military materiel (such as it was at the time, given protectionist world views), factory production, and eventually its young men (my father among them) to the second world war in a generation.
I have seen war... . I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded... .  I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed... . I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Acoustic Killers

Lifted from say la vee. An acoustic version of The Killers' "All These Things That I Have Done." What a sweet voice Brandon Flowers has.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Eat mor chikin 4 free

Chick-fil-A will be offering free spicy chicken sandwiches from May 31-June 5.

I am compelled by this. Chick-fil-A chicken is pretty much perfect as it is now, but I love spicy things. I really, really, really hope it's not gross.

You have to make a "reservation," but who cares? Free is free, y'all. And my birthday's that week, so yay.

Go here:

And in other Chick-fil-A news, the last time I ate there I had the nuggets and highly recommend them. Really nice breading-to-chicken ratio thanks to the overall greater surface area.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

There are no words

An engineer's guide to cats.

I... yeah. You just have to watch, really.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Changing my tune on the iPad

I'm a self confessed Apple junkie. I just love how well their products work as well as their design -- so much so, that when my MacBook recently made a pretty serious suicide attempt, I nearly immediately replaced it with an iMac. The laptop has since mysteriously came back to life, more or less, so I still use it occasionally -- when I want to cuddle with Daisy on the couch, for example -- but most of my hardcore work and surfing is now done on the desktop, and I love it, too.

The night last month when I bought my iMac, the Apple Store was just a-swarm with people fiddling with the store's iPads. And, really, I just didn't get the furor at all. Its screen was too small, I thought, to be of real work use. And even if it were bigger, it's hard to produce multi-page documents if you're typing on a faux (touch screen) keyboard. I already have and love a Kindle, so its book reading ability didn't suck me in. And its ability to watch videos wasn't a selling point for me. Basically, I need a portable computer to be a portable computer, not an overly ambitious iPod touch. This was the first Apple product* that I wasn't drawn to at once.

But then, I read this today from Gizmodo. And as quickly as that, my mind has been changed:
I went nearly 24 hours without charging my iPad, watching four hours of video, reading books for a couple of hours, getting in a few rounds of Strategery, and still had a bit less than half of my battery life left when I hit the ground three planes later. That longevity changes the experience profoundly, more than making up for the iPad's deficiencies for me. Except for editing video, there's not a single thing in my workflow that I can't do on the iPad, and I haven't even begun to experiment using VNC or other screen sharing tools to connect back to my iMac to access its "real" computing power.
But I returned from this trip convinced that this form factor has legs. (And everything I came to appreciate about the iPad's merit as a travel computer should apply to Android and WebOS tablets, if and when those actually make it to market with a consumer-friendly level of UX refinement.) Since I have a power-guzzling traditional computer on my desktop to do all the heavy lifting when I'm home, I don't see a place for my laptop in my life right now. I had an inkling that might have been the case when I bought my iPad, but I had to take a leap of faith to be sure.
If the iPad can easily produce documents with the simple addition of a Bluetooth keyboard, weigh next to nothing and have a really long battery life, then it meets all the needs I could want out of my MacBook. Whenever my MacBook finally does die for real, I know what my next Apple purchase will be.

* Leaving aside iPhones because I have/had cell phone provider/Outlook compatibility issues that drove my decisions in this arena.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A vending machine made of win

Yep, that's bacon in there.

And various other forms of meat. But really, the bacon is the point.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010


To: Fellow neighbors on Wisteria Lane
From: Mild-Mannered Lady Who Does Her Best to Keep to Herself
Re: I have apparently found my breaking point

So, I don't say anything when your pot and/or cigarette smoke drifts over the fence and through my open windows. Or when you decide that the thing to do at 12:30 AM is to throw yourself, cannonball-style, into your pool, whooping when you hit the water. Or when your garage band practices and one of the guitarists (because you need more than one when all your "band" seems to play is the same section of Steely Dan over and over...) is flat, seriously flat -- to the point that I, a non-musician, cringe pretty regularly at the dissonance. It's all part of living in a community. Or something.

But I am not kidding when I say this -- turn down the freaking Nickelback. I can't make you turn it off completely, I don't guess, and I can't blame you for wanting to blast music while you're composting your plants or cleaning your pool or whatever, but if you continue to bombard your general vicinity that faux rock music after the sun goes down, I guess we'll see what our little suburb's noise ordinances specify about appropriate times of day and decibel levels. Because aside from being clear about the depravity of my sin and my complete reliance on Christ to pay the price for it, I am also pretty clear about music. And Nickelback? No. Just -- no.

To: Boo
From: The Human You Barely Tolerate Who Feeds and Houses You
Re: It's me or the vet -- you make the call

Cat litter? In your eyes? Both of them at the same time? How did you do this? And why won't you let me get it all out so you can see and/or not get some sort of really gross infection?

And while we're at it -- stop growling at me. Honestly.

From: Frequent viewer
Re: All sizzle, no steak

Your new fangled high def studio makes me dizzy. It's oddly open and the camera crews following the "talent" around are really distracting and the new graphics packages often contain misspelled words or are incorrectly punctuated.

You've got too many things going on, and too few of them are news.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Try not to be too jealous of how I spend my Friday nights

I don't know how to fold a fitted sheet. How I have manage to be almost 45 years old without mastering this, I am not sure, but there it is.

Tonight, trying to get a jump on my weekend chores by throwing in a few loads of laundry, I've been wrestling, quite literally, with queen-sized fitted sheets. The flat sheets and pillow cases have easily been folded into tidy rectangles, and then there's the fitted one sitting next to them -- a cottony lump without corners, without true folds. Just -- there.

I found myself thinking, "I'm sure there's a method to this or an easier way or something. I wish someone could just show me."

And then -- it occurred to me. Al Gore's internet! And YouTube specifically! Someone *would* show me, in a manner of speaking.

I am apparently not alone in the "how the heck to you fold one of these things, anyway?" category. There were quite a few how-to videos on the subject. I liked this one, mostly because the man's accent sounds like home to me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In which I learn what my name would be if I were a panda

Scene: Afternoon in the office. I am working through my voicemails, setting up appointments and generally trying to dig out after a morning spent in committee and an afternoon on the floor. I am on the phone with a constituent, a former school teacher who's coming to Sacramento and wants to meet to discuss education issues.

Me: So, I'll see you Wednesday at 11 here in Room 5080.

Constituent: Thank you, Nora Lynn. I'll just send you an email to confirm. What's your last name?

Me: Lynn.

Constituent: Lynn is your last name?

Me: It is.

Constituent: Your name is Nora Lynn Lynn?

Me: ... [I can feel the giggles starting in the back of my throat. Must... maintain... composure... ]

Constituent: Hello?

Me: Sorry. *choked voice* No. My first name is Nora and my last name is Lynn.

Constituent: Oh. Oh, I see. I bet you get that all the time.

Me: Actually, no. Not really.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Hey, so, it turns out...

... that there are people who don't take handfuls of Advil every day.

... that some people come home after a long day at work and do chores and cook dinner rather than collapsing on the couch in tears.

... pretty regularly, most people actually go to bed at night -- and sleep. For hours and hours at a stretch and wake up in the morning feeling better than they did the night before. Like, rested.

... that when Northern California is blessed with its typically gorgeous springtime weather, not everyone hisses at the sunshine like a vampire because it makes glare that sneaks around even enormous sunglasses and hurts.

... that there are people for whom pain is not a constant daily reality. Some of these people may be made, um, pudgy and a little more spaced out than usual by the multiple daily preventative medications they take to get this way (and all of which is made possible as all things are by His will and mercy and the constant prayers and concern of friends).

It turns out there are these people.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Is it wrong that I think this is kind of cool?

From the "um, what?" category, Eric directs us to the story of a British woman who, after a particularly bad migraine, began spontaneously speaking with "a Chinese accent."

Via Sky News:
Sarah Colwill, a 35-year-old British woman, is now speaking, somewhat inexplicably, with a Chinese accent after suffering an extreme migraine, according to reports in the UK press.

Doctors suspect Colwill has Foreign Accent Syndrome, a rare condition which damages the part of the brain that controls speech and word formation. There are only 60 recorded cases of the condition.

While the syndrome may sound absurd - Colwill herself admits that she found it amusing at first - it can be extremely frustrating for its victims.

"I spoke to my stepdaughter on the phone from hospital and she didn't recognize who I was. She said I sounded Chinese. Since then, I have had my friends hanging up on me because they think I'm a hoax caller," Colwill said.

"The first few weeks of the accent was quite funny but to think I am stuck with this Chinese accent is getting me down. My voice has started to annoy me now. It is not my voice," added Colwill.

"It's in our ears," says Professor Sophie Scott, from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, tells The Guardian. "Speech may be altered in terms of timing, intonation, and tongue placement, so that is perceived as sounding foreign."

Colwill is now receiving treatment for the syndrome.

And of course there's video, albeit shaky and with relatively poor sound. She's been getting treatment for a bit, but I don't hear whatever it is she and the doctors think she has, Chinese-accent-wise:

If I were in this spot and started speaking in, say, an Australian accent, I'm not sure I would get treatment for it. I would probably put on a Crocodile Dundee costume and go with it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Report from the Valley of the Dolls

For those of you following the odyssey of my migraines and efforts to find a successful treatment regimen (and, really, it's all so very interesting, how could you not be?), here's the latest after an appointment with my doctor yesterday.

In the first place, it was a group appointment -- she scheduled patients with like ailments to come in all at the same time. We met in a conference room at the professional building where her office is, wore name tags and, one by one, told the doctor our concerns or symptoms. Other patients would chime in with strategies or alternative experiences or non sequiturs or what have you. It was... interesting.

So. In no particular order:
  • I am not alone with the nut sensitivity. Nearly everyone there also gets nut triggered migraines. And chocolate triggered ones. And weather triggered ones. And flashing-light triggered ones. And, based on what they shared, I'm going to avoid a few other apparently common triggers and see if I notice any improvement -- hot dogs, luncheon meat, bacon (no!), wine (how will I console myself over the lack of bacon?!), and a few others.
  • I've battled insomnia my whole life, and Lynnie noticed that my sleeplessness seems to go hand-in-hand with migraines. The doctor prescribed Ambien for me, figuring that even if there's no direct connection with my headaches, I really should be sleeping. Every day.
  • The doctor also switched around one of the preventative medicines I take. I start that tonight, since the pharmacist indicated it might make me dizzy and I also wanted to be sure the other medicine was completely out of my system.
  • And I got a prescription for an anti-nausea medication. Both the migraines and some of the intervention drugs for them make me really barfy. Hopefully this will help me keep down fluids at least when I have a headache.
We (the doctor and I, not the collective) also decided that if these changes don't make a significant improvement in the frequency and intensity of the headaches, then I am off to a neurologist. Which is nice in a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel sort of way but also kind of scary.

Friday, April 9, 2010

New favorite thing: buckwheat pillow

I am a little weird about sleeping.

I've fought insomnia most of my life, even as a small child, which has left me sort of oddly controlling about details of my sleeping environment. The temperature of the room has to be just so; sheets and blankets have to have a certain weight to them, be layered just exactly right. And the pillows I sleep with have been chosen very carefully. Add to all this my migraines, which generally cause me to take to my bed at some point -- bedding is important is all I'm saying.

For nearly 10 years, I've slept on a TempurPedic pillow, and I really didn't think there was anything better, at least for me. It provided great support, even though I sleep on my side, and when I'm in pain from a headache, it was comfortable.

But one day a couple of months ago, I was trolling Al Gore's internet, checking in on the various message boards I like. On one of them that usually hosts conversations about shoes and makeup and whatnot was a post titled "Magical Pillow." This person had just slept her first night on a buckwheat pillow and couldn't say enough wonderful things about it. It was supportive, dissipated heat well so its surface stayed cool, and it was easy to smush into the perfect shape regardless of her sleeping position. She reported having the best night's sleep she'd had in years.

I was skeptical. I mean, I remember the old Sobakawa pillows from a while back -- undersized and sold over the TV. No way could something like that be good. But then I clicked over to a migraine message board board, and what did I see? Another post by a completely different person titled "Magical Pillow." This woman, who is just as weird as I am about bedding and whatnot since she too takes to her bed with headaches, had just had just had her first night with a buckwheat pillow. She too raved about the quality of sleep, the ability of the pillow to conform nicely without being too soft or too hard. She went on and on.

So, of course I bought one. I mean, I'd stand on my head and eat raisins if someone told me it'd help my headaches and/or improve my sleep. It wasn't cheap at $55, but good down pillows run at least that much, and if it turned out not to be all that, I'd just return it.

But oh my gosh -- wow. It is amazing, basically. I mean, it is just a pillow, not a cure for cancer or anything so it can only be so good, but from the first night I slept on it, I could tell it was the right choice for me. Firm, but able to be manipulated to support my head as I flopped around in my sleep. The buckwheat hulls do provide a much cooler surface so I spend less time flipping my pillow over during the night. And when I take to my bed with a migraine, it supports my head nicely without being too firm. And since it's heaver than a down pillow, it stays in place on my bed even when I'm wallowing in my sleep and/or from the medicine, so I don't wake up to find it on the floor.

It may actually be a magical pillow.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Opening Day!

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter fail

It takes a lot to surprise or disgust me anymore, particularly when it comes to how low many seeker-sensitive megachurches will stoop to separate lost sheep from their money, but this pretty much left me speechless: there's a church in Corpus Christi, Texas, celebrating Easter by -- wait for it -- giving away sports cars and flat screen TVs.

Sixteen cars, 15 flat-screen televisions, furniture sets and other prizes are lined up at Bay Area Fellowship Church and ready to be claimed by anyone who attends the church's Easter services on Sunday.
Though the church of some 7,000 weekly attendees has regularly flexed its creative muscles to draw the unchurched, the upcoming "Ultimate Giveaway" is like no other outreach it has ever attempted.
Pastor Bil Cornelius, who made the game show analogy, admits it's a bit "outrageous." But he sees it as "an opportunity to share Christ with people who may never go to a church for any reason," he told The Christian Post.
And then there's this:

I don't mean to pick on this one church, because goodness knows there's a lot of similar nonsense going on out there. But there are so many things wrong with this, both for this body in Corpus Christi and others of its ilk -- that a church would make its focus cash and prizes rather than the sovereignty of God. That church is akin to a slot machine -- show up and you could win an Audi! That on the weekend Christians acknowledge the price paid for their sin -- the death of God's Son on a cross -- this is what this church is choosing to do, at best eclipsing and at worst ignoring the cost of our sin as well as the primacy of the gospel.

I now have another item on my prayer list for this Resurrection Weekend -- that the publicity and outcry this church's antics have garnered will be used by God for His purposes and not the world's; that the unchurched sheep who find their way to these services will be given supernatural grace and godly insight to look past the snake oil and mercenary tactics to, in spite of all efforts to the contrary, acknowledge their sins against a holy and all-powerful God, know that Jesus Christ died to spare them (and me) from His wrath, and turn their lives and will over to Him; and that the elders and pastor of this church would chose the narrow gate in the future and feed their flock on the meat of God's Word.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What did we do before YouTube?

1 seemingly normal house cat + 1 strange soundtrack + induced cat weirdness = ~85% of YouTube's videos worth watching. Al Gore's Internet brings you ... Trololo Cat.

Finally, the epic showdown

Elite 8? Final 4? No idea when it comes to college basketball. But when I saw this, I realized I have much stronger feelings about dessert than nearly anything else. Except the gospel. And "Lost."

You may need to click on the image to en-bigger it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Long time, no see

Sorry for the prolonged absence. I just haven't felt great between some persistent insomnia and the normal gamut of migraines. I had quite a restful weekend, though, and will have a short week at work this week, so hopefully I've turned the corner on some of this.

It was strange -- last night, after about two weeks of feeling not great, it was like someone flipped a switch. I started doing laundry, running the dishwasher, rearranging furniture. Crazy.

In any case, I hope not to have such long absences in the future.

In other news, today was Daisy's 15th birthday. We celebrated with a few of her favorite things: a nap on the couch, prolonged ear scratching and some French fries (no salt, though).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Enormous cutlery

I have, shall we say, a somewhat quirky home decorating aesthetic. I've paired some inherited 150ish-year-old antiques with plush ferret toys perched on their chair cushions. Up my stairs are what seem to be at a distance two very formal looking watercolor portraits, but up close you see that the portraits are of dogs, wearing formal robes and ruffled collars. I also have my initials hanging on the wall in my den, not because I'm a narcissist but because I watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show growing up, and she had an M on the wall of her apartment. I always wanted to be her when I grew up, and the initials are as close as I can get.

So, you get the idea. I'm weird. And anything too serious or formal needs some sillying up.

So imagine the squeal of delight I squealed when last night, at Pier 1, I spied this:

Yes, it's a fork. But it's a giant fork! In real life it's just about four feet tall. And shiny. And fantastic. And, and -- there was also a spoon!

I have long been wanting to do something to my dining room to make it a bit less stiff. I have an old French poster featuring a picture of a grumpy black cat on one wall (can't imagine why that would resonate...), but it still needed something. And that something, I now realize, was a giant fork and spoon mounted on the wall.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Prayers for Miss Daisy

She was pretty barfy yesterday, and then in the middle of the night, she had a seizure in her sleep.

We went to the emergency vet where she was rehydrated and given some meds just in case she's back on her way to a case of pancreatitis. The fluids alone seemed to really perk her up. She hasn't barfed since early last evening, so I hope a day of sleeping on the couch with me in front of a roaring fire will do the trick.

She'll be 15 on March 29 (which the ER vet couldn't believe -- even shivery with a little fever, she jumped up and down to smell his face and lick his nose), so every little hiccup in her health is taken seriously. I hope this doesn't sound silly, but I hope you'll keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

ETA: Someone is feeling much better. Here she is watching DVRed "Meet the Press." Apparently health care reform is fascinating to her.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


  • It's Day 2 of Operation: No Nuts and so far, so good. I did wake up headachey this morning, but once the rain started (and the medicine kicked in), it moved from the "oh dang" category to "not so bad."
  • Please behold Daisy from the couch this morning. In the time she sat with me while I waited on the rain and drugs, she managed not only to snag all of the woobie from me, but also to cocoon herself in it.

  • The new job is going really well, I think. I really like the people I work with and the team aspect of how things get staffed here. And it's so lovely to walk into a committee room or onto the Senate Floor and be greeted by familiar faces and welcomes. It's nice to be next door to Sean and David, too.
  • I have a New Favorite Thing, which I shall write about soon. A pillow that I read raves about online both on a makeup/clothes message board as well as a migraine one. And it's fantastic.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A moment of clarity

I've been trying to puzzle through, to the extent I can, the various things that trigger migraines for me. Some are pretty clear cut, if weird (like the smell of asphalt or tires, flashing lights, changes in barometric pressure that come before rain, and chocolate), but others have been elusive. In particular, I've been stumped as to why so many mornings I wake up feeling fine, good even, but within an hour or so am in pain.

Until today. Maybe.

This morning I puttered around, getting my stuff ready for church, and felt great. Made breakfast (peanut butter toast -- try not to be too jealous of my glamorous life) and sipped coffee. I'd gotten through about half the toast when Daisy decided to freak out at a neighbor's lawnmower. At 7:30 a.m., but that's another post. Anyway, so I put down the toast, wrestled her back into the family room and played some fetch to soothe her. After about 10 minutes of this, I became sort of dimly aware that my head was starting to hurt. So I headed to the kitchen to get some medicine and on my way past the breakfast bar, grabbed a half-eaten piece of peanut butter toast -- and a light went on for me.

To experiment, I didn't eat any more. Just took a couple of Advil and drank more coffee to see what would happen. And sure enough, the headache got a little worse but finally sort of leveled off and then dissipated. I decided to push further -- and ate the rest of the (cold) toast. And wham! Another headache. Worse this time.

The rest of my little experiment isn't terribly interesting to anyone but me, but I really think I've stumbled onto something. It would explain why adding Benadryl to whatever other medicine I take usually makes the headache resolve sooner. And it would also explain why I can eat a small (couple of Kisses' worth) of chocolate without risking pain, but even the smallest amount of Nutella brings me to tears.

I really hope my nonscientific experiments are right and I'm on to something. I really do.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The week that was

The first week at the new job was mostly a blur, I have to say.

Even after so many years in the Legislature, taking on a new role is tiring. Learning to fit in with established routines and patterns, starting to figure out how my strengths can be brought to bear, fighting the forces of technology (the BlackBerry is still sort of at half mast) and new-hire paperwork -- and then there were hearings and floor sessions and meetings to fit in, too. I woke up today just worn out from it, but in a good way.

I'm thrilled at the amount of responsibility I'm being given, the warmth which which I have been welcomed, and just the amount of good work that is getting done. With people who kind and open minded and gracious. I'm still not sure how many bills I'll wind up carrying. So far, I have one, but will be staffing the senator for Education and Appropriations committees as well as the floor, so those assignments should be enough to keep me off the streets.

All this, and I was still able to see Cora this week, visit Sean and David (immediately next door!) for coffee and a cookie and screen saver pictures, participate in a limited "Lost" caucus and manage to eat lunch every day. Not a bad start.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Going home

I am so thrilled to report that Monday (pending Rules Committee approval), I will be joining the staff of State Senator Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara).

Not entirely sure yet what policy areas or legislation I'll be staffing, but that will unfold in the next week or so.

Whew. And yay!

Monday, February 15, 2010


In no particular order...
  • I chopped off my hair Saturday. I needed the normal trim/color thing that happens every six weeks (oh, being 44 is fun fun fun sometimes) and just decided to go short. Sweet Colette is, I think, the only person to see it so far as I've been housebound with headaches and some sort of a gross stomach thing, but yes. Hair. Chopped.
  • Christina cannot send her crazy-if-obedient husband to my office to take paparazzi pictures of the new cut, though, because I lost my job. A week ago today, I was let go. And that's all I want to say about that.
  • I had a couple of interviews that went, I think, well in the past week. Such a blessing in a down economy and when unemployment figures are a trailing indicator of economic recovery. I'm blessed with great friends. And a great God.
  • I just hate Facebook anymore. Am I alone here? The format changes coupled with the distinct sense I have that my data is being mined have made me just sort of "meh" about the whole thing. I never log in anymore, so if you've sent me a Facebook message and I haven't responded, I'm sorry. I'm not sure how much longer I am going to go through the charade of maintaining an account there.
  • When Sweet Colette came over Saturday, she brought (among other things) sweet-potato-based dog treats for Daisy. Knowing that Daisy has a weird sixth sense for potato detection and begs shamelessly for potato-based foods. Daisy loved the treats, doing her prancey dance in anticipation of them and chewing so seriously that she adopted a widened stance and sort of unfocused her eyes. Once I manage to charge my camera sufficiently, I will record her prancey dance for all to see.
  • Yes, I changed the blog template again. I have a short attention span.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Late breaking update

All three of the aforementioned lost items have come home to roost:
  • The glasses were in the guest bedroom. I haven't been in that room that I can remember for at least a month.
  • The remote control was under my bed. Of course.
  • And the mailbox key had somehow found its way into my garbage disposal.
Because I know y'all were dying to know. I really have lost it, or there's a boggart in my house. One of the two.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Losing it

In the past 24 hours, I've managed to lose a pair of glasses, the remote control for my bedroom TV, and my mailbox key.

The maddening aspect of this is that I know for a fact these items are somewhere in my house. I mean, I don't exactly take the TV remote out to run errands or anything. I haven't worn the pair of glasses I've misplaced outside the house for at least three months. I do take the mail key outside since that's where the box is, but it's a pretty short walk and for nearly nine years now, I've checked the mail and then, once I'm back inside, hung the key on this specific hook. And yet, somehow, it too is not where it should be.

I share all this because it's sort of a metaphor for how I'm feeling these days. Out of sorts. A little lost. Like the pieces of the the puzzle of my life don't quite fit together as cleanly as they used to or as they seem to for other people.

I haven't talked much about this, aside from a few oblique references, because I don't know that my battle against migraines is terribly interesting. It boils down, on some level, to an equation of Head Hurts + Medicine - Brain Power + Discomfort. But a dear brother in Christ urged me yesterday to talk about this part of things, that it's part of my life just as the pets or the job or the YouTube kitten videos are.

The preventative medication I'm taking nowadays is an anticonvulsant -- not as intellectually stunting as the Topamax was, but I'm still pretty much dumber than a bag of hammers (a very sleepy, yawning bag of hammers). It definitely blunts my creativity: finding the right word is a challenge, and my problem solving and capacity to synthesize data or concepts are limited, too -- and, to some measure along with them, my me-ness. Since I can't really engage as quickly or fully in conversation as I once could, I tend to hang back more. Coupling that with how sleepy the drugs make me -- I am drinking a whole lot of coffee and Red Bull in the afternoon these days -- I'm not exactly a social butterfly.

And that's become my real struggle -- at what point is the medication the problem versus the pain? How much of myself am I willing to shut down or drug away as part of the pain management process? My doctor and various Internet message boards assure me that the side effects will abate in time, so for now I'm willing to wait it out. Every day I weigh this, and so far, even with the dopiness and limited intellectual capacity, the medication wins: the pain is less, I think, overall, and I can still more or less function. But I'm definitely nearing the tipping point.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Please give

In the week and a half following the earthquake in Haiti, I have been glued to CNN.

Port-au-Prince lies in ruin -- its people unsheltered, its children parentless, its wounded untreated. An estimated 1 million Haitians have been displaced.

It's staggering to watch the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere struggle to right itself in the wake of a catastrophe the likes of which would gravely test the emergency readiness and response of even the richest of nations. But for a country already impoverished, where even before the quake 80 percent of its citizens lived on less than $2 a day, it's almost unimaginable how this people will rise from the ashes.

Officials there have conservatively estimated some 150,000* Haitians have been laid to rest in the last 10 days alone. How many more have yet to be unearthed? And given the lack of emergent medical care, antibiotics and the ability to conduct even relatively routine surgeries, how many more will survive the initial quake only to die in the days and weeks to come?

Inevitably it's the children's faces that are the last to leave me as I fall asleep at night -- safe and warm in my bed, a seismically-sound roof over my head and uncontaminated food and water at the ready. No want, no need.

With no skills that I can put to use there binding up the injured or sheltering the homeless or feeding the hungry, I'm left to pray. And to open my wallet.

* The original 70,000 figure was updated by Haitian governmental officials on 1/25/10.