Friday, November 14, 2014

Nap Time!

Nap times are sooo good most days; today, not so much.  Most days have me going on a joy ride as people get dropped off for work and school before I take the wheel to return home to feed the dogs.  Everyday, I plan to get back into bed as soon as possible.  Why?  Because I don't fall asleep until well after 2:00 am.  I know.

Since returning to southern California, in summer, my reasoning is always, conserve energy while trying to stay as comfortable as possible (while also eating as little as possible) because we are still living paycheck-to-paycheck.  If I'm asleep, t.v. and computer are off.  The a/c still kicks on automatically to cool The Place down to 74 degrees, but if I nap before having to go taxiing around town picking people up from jobs and school, it's like I've not even been home.  My body doesn't respond to excessive heat and bright sunlight very well - not at all, actually - so I sort of have to recover from high desert temps; solution... have restorative nap.  I guess you can say this is my "how-to" manage summers with fibromyalgia.

October began with me prematurely - excitedly - welcoming in yoga pants season.  I was SO off target.  Here we are mid-November and the air-conditioner still kicks on around 3:00 pm.  It's nearly 11:00 pm now and still going on and off.  It just kicked on as I typed, "on and off!" Whoa!  Ahhh, feels sooo good.  Anyway, here we are inching our way closer and closer to Thanksgiving and I just started wearing the ol' yoga pants this week; mornings have been so cool that I've even worn socks & sneakers... brrrr.  Problem.  Remember the fibromyalgia I mentioned above?  Well, did you know that a good indicator that you are in the midst of a flare-up is when you walk out into the the lovely cool night air and that delightfully cool night air sometimes causes a burning sensation... all over exposed body parts?  That's right, air and light make my skin hurt. Oh, and I must not forget, wind.  Sigh.

So, back to naps.  Man, I love naps.  I remember when the kids were little and I'd pop in a Disney vhs after lunch playtime; we'd lay out our favorite squishy, quilted comforter on the living room carpet, grab some pillows, blankies and buddies to snuggle with while we watched the movie.  Movie?  What movie.  We'd all be asleep ten minutes into whatever movie was playing.  My mom was usually around to help with the babies, so she made sure to keep ears and eyes open if little ones needed anything while mommy was sleeping.  Oh naps, good times.  Thank goodness for babies... and naps.

Naps are like medicine.  I have to take my meds every single day to be able to function; same with naps.  Sometimes things don't jive and naps can seem like a nightmare.  That happened today.  I'm pretty sure I forgot to take my meds last night... very bad. We had evening company that distracted me from nightly routine and I didn't fall asleep until 4:00 am.  I awoke with pain from bad tooth that's been giving me trouble for a while.  So today was a "Four Advil every six hours for pain" day.  By the time I felt some relief from horrible toothache, it was late morning.  I crashed.  I slept hard - no dreaming, no tossing, no turning, no finding that perfect comfy spot, no blanket snuggles, no puppy snuggles, just sleep.  I felt like crap when I woke up.  Sometimes naps aren't as magical as I like them to be.  This bad nap threw my day off just a bit, but not so much that I forgot to take my meds again.

I'm fifty, and I often call myself "old."  Truth is, I've felt old half my life - no thanks to fibromyalgia and other stuff.  So, I'm getting older, but not complaining.  I love the gray streaks in my bangs.  I love the possibility of grandchildren in the not-too-distant future.  I love that I don't have to pretend to be anything I am not.  I love that I'm eligible for AARP discounts.  I even love when my kids are amused by my crankiness.  But mostly, I love the naps.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thank You, Bloggers

It's been several years since first discovering the blogging world; or more like, discovering how varied and vast the blogging universe actually had become.  I'm sure I was reading plenty of blog posts under the assumption that they were journalistic accounts written by someone earning a regular paycheck from a newspaper or magazine publishing house.  At that point, the internet was providing as much of the news as I was getting from television, and I had pretty much abandoned print magazines, for snazzy, ever-changing, mobile online content.

Years before, I arrived early to the world wide web party. I bought my first computer with the intention of self publishing children's storybooks. (I have a very interesting story about that for another post.)  That time coincided with my being determined disabled.  (That story is a huge blur peppered with memories of unbearable pain and sorrow... an unimaginable reality.)  Anyway, my only real comfort was my little family.  I had decided - since it was becoming more and more evident that I was in no condition to keep a job - something that I could do was teach my little ones at home.  So, with my husband's encouragement and my mom's support, I got on my new computer and researched "homeschooling."  Most night's would just pass right into early morning while I explored the wealth of information (and rubbish) at my fingertips.  Now that I think about it, I'm certain that there were countless times that I was visiting blogs specific to early education.

The other thing that was keeping me "logged on" was shopping.  Catalogs which were filling up baskets around the house were now filling up the internet.  How convenient, my condition was worsening and my symptoms unstable, yet there it was... online shopping.  During times when I had little to no energy, or was barely able to move, much less trek out to a mall with three small children, I now had the internet for shoe & clothes shopping for them.  Good thing most days my fingers could handle typing away for long stretches of time.  I was getting pretty good with this computer business;  I had a printer, a scanner... a whole slew of hardware extras and software.  Remember floppy disks?  No...  oh never mind.

So I was learning, teaching, shopping, and biggest surprise of all... I was creating!  And loving it!  There were lesson handouts, newsletters, greeting cards, calendars, brochures, my little book.  Clip Art; Photoshop, I believe the software was called.  The name Broderbund also comes to mind.  It was so much fun.  I though, how great it would be to have a job doing all that stuff and be paid to do it.  I had no idea there was such a thing as a graphic artist.  Back then, if someone said, "You should try blogging."  I'd probably give them a blank stare.

Well, I know what blogging is now... I think.  It's like a book, or magazine, or newspaper, but without paper.  Today, if someone asked which blog I last visited, I would not be able to say.  But back during a very lonely and difficult period, when the only thing I had to help me cope was my sense of humor, a sudden burst of relief came in the form of blogs.  They made me "feel" again.  Happy, sad, mad; soothed, awakened, spirited - I felt it all.  This was good.  It was very good.

In no particular order, these are the authors, bloggers and posts that have provided inspiration and introspection, and invoked most heartfelt emotions. And thank goodness, LAUGHTER. I am grateful for them all, and yes, these are the ones which come to mind at the moment.  (Click highlighted, bold items below to link to corresponding blogs.)

The Bloggess

People I Want To Punch In The Throat



An Inch of Gray

Knuckle Salad

Robin O'Bryant

Mark Joyella

Hello Giggles (One of my posts was even featured during this blogs first weeks!)

Thoughts From Paris

Wendi Aarons


Liz Henry

Jasmine Banks


Wendy Liebman

Heather Christena Schmidt

Good Men Project

RSA News

Dean Obeidallah

So many more blogs have joined this list since things took a turn for the better.  I've even become a huge fan of a crazy mix of YouTube creators.  Time doesn't allow for regular reading or viewing, but I'm still enjoying blogs, vlogs, and late-night talk shows as much as ever.  If I could possess even a tiny sliver of what the creators listed here have, that would be conviction.  They have a story, a story worth telling, if for only that one person who is going to laugh, cry, guffaw, or re-examine and re-evaluate their beliefs.  And, sometimes, call bullsh*t.  Thanks for that too bloggers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Writer's Block... Writer's Block... Writer's Block...

That's what I imagine muttering all day if I were a writer with, well... writer's block.  Good news, then.  I am not a writer.  I'm a... hmmm.  I don't know what I am, but I do know who I am.  I am someone's wife, mother, daughter, sister, auntie, friend.  Jeepers, that does sound very much like what you'd find on a gravestone, doesn't it?  *shudder*  Actually, I'm not even sure if that friend one applies.  I see no friends.

Let's see... I guess I could say I'm a car singer, a food eater, a movie watcher, a typist, an imagineer - no, I think that's a Disney thing.  So, let's say, imaginer,  goer-of-when-things-get-tough, a sayer (Is that even a word?) of, "What you think about, you bring about." A maker-up of words.  Oh yeah, I've always thought myself an "idea person."  Problem.  All these great ideas come to me when I'm either driving, in the shower, or doing something which does not allow me to take the time to make notes, draw sketches, or do research.  For instance, I have an idea for a design to assist individuals who use walkers.  I have some ideas for jewelry design.  Oh, something else I've always wanted to do is create a suitable-for-everyone program about.... hmmm.  Sorry, my secret.

There are things I'd like to learn, like, play guitar, piano, drums!  I wish I were a good singer.  I'd love to be in a play - my "acting career" ended in the sixth grade.  I had so much fun doing school plays.  I loved to dance, and wish I had done ballet.

See, now I've gotten all wishy.  I'm a dreamer; a feeler.

I want to be a writer, but the only way I could see that happening is doing it as part of a team.  So, I don't much get writer's block, it's more like writer's lonelies.  Is that a word?

Monday, November 10, 2014

A How-To Video From This Is Fifty With Lil

Honestly, I have nothing original to post as a how-to lesson, however, I have had the good fortune of being surrounded by women who provided priceless advice when it comes to conquering cooking dilemmas.  One of my favorites came from my now long departed cousin, Sylvia.  Syl was five years older than me, and one of my favorite people on the planet.  I'd like the idea that she was one of the first people to ever hold me as a baby.  We were very close.  Anyway, when we were grown, I still looked to her for guidance in all aspects of life.

What I loved about Syl was that spending time in her company meant a lot of laughter.  It also included sitting down to sample whatever it was she had prepared for her family's dinner - Syl was always hungry, yet remained thin most of her short life.  I was a short version of my cousin and had an appetite to match, with the same ability to not gain weight.  One memorable day in her kitchen our shared meal included rice and beans that she already had on the stove.  I always wanted to learn how to make a home style pot of pinto beans like the kind all the women in our family cooked on a regular basis.  So I asked my cousin what her recipe was for the delicious homemade pot of beans that we were enjoying with our meal that day.  She generously shared these how-to instructions:

They are so easy to make, she began.  Between chuckles she offered the following gem.  First get in your car and drive to Stater Brothers and make sure you have a couple of dollars to buy three cans of Sun Vista pinto beans. After you've made the purchase, get in your car and drive home.  Once home find a good size pot, then bring out a can opener.  Open all the Sun Vista pinto beans cans and pour all the beans from each can into the pot.  Put pot on the stove, read the instructions on the can wrapper; follow the directions,  Finally, serve with whatever you plan to have with them; enjoy.  Oh, Sylvia, how I miss you and your kooky ways.

Another time, in Texas (this was years ago), I was chatting with a neighbor's mom when the subject of cooking came up.  I mentioned that I had recently experienced a major fail baking my husband a German chocolate cake for his birthday.  I also admitted that the last time that I tried to make my favorite recipe for cheesecake ended up a baking nightmare.  The subject came up because a neighborhood block party was planned and I had signed to bring something.  All the mom's would be bringing homemade treats. So, I felt obligated to do the same but feared failure. My neighbor Catherine's mom was a godsend when she shared this tried and tested helpful hint for the perfect cheesecake:

She said, "Lily, this is what I've done more than once, and no one was the wiser." Her instructions for me were that I go to the supermarket and buy a frozen plain cheesecake.  While still frozen, carefully remove from tin and place on serving plate.  Cut parchment paper the length of the pie circumference and just a bit past the depth.  Wrap the strip around the cheesecake,  Finally, make a quick easy mixture of sour cream, a few drops of vanilla and a smidgen of sugar to spread on top of the pie.  Put in refrigerator to set.  When it's time for the party, take a couple of large mint leaves, a few raspberries and blueberries to place at center of sour cream topped cheesecake.  "Let me know how that goes."  She put my worries at ease, and by the time the party was in swing, I really didn't care if anyone knew my secret.  It was a great party, and I'll never forget Catherine's mom saving me from disaster.  She was a talented artist, and I was lucky enough to receive one of her oil paintings as a birthday gift.  I have very special memories of Texas and our wonderful neighbors.


In past blog posts I think I've mentioned, or at least tried to convey, the fact that I am an expert at nothing, and any kind of profession is non-existent.  Plain and simple, I am a wife and mother who possesses additional skills in typing and driving... not at the same time, of course.

With regard to this blog title, my decision to produce A How-To Guide was based on the idea of advising what not to do.  That said, my personal goal to write about life-as-I-knew-it was to put emphasis on how to survive the hell that was the result of long-term unemployment that my family was going through in 2011 and 2012.  I'm still posting here, regardless of the fact that there is little to no how-to do anything. I'm hopeful a few helpful how-to posts find their way onto this blog.  My sincerest apologies for coming up short so far.


I have a vlog called This Is Fifty With Lil.  TIFWL features In The Kitchen With Lil On Wednesdays.  Only one has been uploaded, but I do plan to post the few more very soon.  I'll update this post for your viewing and constructive criticism.  This is all I have for today.  It was created specifically with my husband and kids in mind.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

O. No.

I have  confession... are you ready for this?  I'm not a fan of Oprah.  I. Know.