Things That Are Making Me Cranky

Yesterday was for giving thanks. Today I’m remembering all the things that are making me cranky. Okay, maybe not all of them, but at least some.

Outpatient physical therapy is ending on December 14th. I’ve apparently met my goals and maxed out on insurance coverage for this category of “outpatient following inpatient following hospitalization.” There probably is some kind of Home Health Physical Therapy that falls into a different coverage category – or that I can have if I pay for myself. Since I’m not close to feeling ready to give up on therapy, I need to work the phones starting Monday to figure out options. My PT wants me to continue with e-stim so I need to figure out if there’s an option that will cover that. So I’m cranky.

Christmas is a month from yesterday and I want to put up decorations. But I can’t reach them in the closet. The wreath is in a box on the floor but I can’t wrangle it out to the hall and up on the door while also keeping the cats from escaping to the exciting world of the hallway, which they are dying to explore. And the wreath box is in the way of getting to the box to store the fall velvet pumpkins and gnomes, so I can’t put them away first anyway. I need help and it won’t be here until next week. So I’m cranky.

Somehow I pulled a muscle on the inside of my left thigh and it hurts like hell when I try to raise my knee. Or when I am using the leg lifter to get my leg into the bed. Or rolling over in bed. Basically it hurts. And I’m too cold to want to put ice on it, although after almost a week, it probably is too late for that anyway.

I’m cold. It’s been a very long time since I lived somewhere without rugs on the floor. While the bedroom has carpet, my living room has a very cold floor that can’t have an area rug because it’s a trip hazard. Our apartments apparently have a 70 degree heat setting, which I can live with except my feet are cold. So I’m now wrapped up in a fleece robe and two throws and feeling like a wimp for wanting it to be warmer after years of living in colder settings in New England.

I really want pizza. We have wonderful food but pizza’s not on the menu. I can get it delivered from somewhere like Bruno’s but then I would have way too much pizza and not enough self control to not overeat it because it’s here.

I really want to just be able to stand up. Today I managed 20 seconds of standing without holding on to anything which sounds so ridiculously tiny that I can’t believe I’m even telling you about it. I understand that it’s a big deal because it’s the most I’ve done so far, but it’s still ridiculously tiny. I have so far to go.

I’m tired of dealing with all of this medical stuff. Most of the time I push that down because it doesn’t help me to wallow when I have no other option but to deal with it. Maybe I’m not as courageous as I said I was. I really missed my family this Thanksgiving, even though I spent time on the phone with them and with my other scattered single friends. I don’t want what I have now to be my new normal even while I recognize that it’s my normal for NOW – and it might be forever stuff. It’s just hard.

Weather Crisis in Texas

May be an image of nature

Texas is a disaster right now. We’ve had Polar Vortec frigid temperatures for days on end, causing crazy high demands for heat. Of course. Except Texas isn’t prepared for this. Not.At.All. We’re used to super hot temps in the summer and rolling brownouts when we try to keep cool. But winter? No one could have expected this, even as meteorologists told us it was coming. We didn’t know the Texas power grid couldn’t handle the load as power plants froze up – and then water plants froze because they had no power, leaving millions of people without heat and/or water as the temps hovered in the teens.

There is no excuse for this, and even less for the way our governor and state leaders are blaming it on the Green New Deal with windmills going offline. Uh, hello? Yes, they went down – but they only account for a small portion of our state power. It’s a factor of greed with unregulated utilities choosing to opt for profits over weatherizing their power sources. And our ex-governor Rick Perry says Texans would suffer for days rather than submit to federal authority. Hey Rick, do you have power at your house?

I lived in New England for thirty years and I know how to prepare for a winter storm. Most Texans don’t have a clue. You fill the car with gas, pick up prescriptions, and stock up on bottled water and shelf-ready foods such as peanut butter with a grocery store run two days before the storm is due. You get out the snow shovels and ice melt, do laundry, and run the dishwasher so that everything that can be clean IS clean – in case you lose power. You fill bathtubs with water, watch the Weather Channel for the forecast, and get off the road as soon as you can. It’s time to hunker down – and to stay there until officials tell you it’s safe to be on the roads. I always brought work home, too, in case I wasn’t able to get out for a few days.

Maine did the best job of weather cleanup. They get lots of snow and know what to do with it, have plenty of trucks to plow and treat roads, and residents parked in lots off-street so plows could do their work. People are realistic about whether or not to drive. And people know how to prepare for a winter storm – they get lots of them, so they need to be practical so no one freaks out and wipes out the bread and milk sections of the store. Businesses mostly recognized that employees needed to travel safely and made closing/opening decisions accordingly.

Boston didn’t do as good a job as Maine. The roads were a lot worse, people didn’t pay attention to “no parking” rules, and public transporation on the T was often a mess. Universities (and there were many in Boston) almost never closed for weather because hey, the students lived on campus and who cared if the staff had problems getting in? But we had snow shovels and boots and knew how to plan, though the milk and bread sections did get empty.

New Haven was terrible for a place that saw a lot of winter. My town of Hamden was much better at plowing and treating roads; you could tell when you crossed the town line into New Haven because the roads were bad. Parking lots and sidewalks, theoretically treated, were a mess. But we rarely lost power, had lots of snow gear for ourselves and our vehicles (I had 3 shovels and many, many gloves and hats). We wiped out milk and bread and wine, too. But most of us, at least after one winter there, had basics in the pantry and closet and were ready.

People in Texas were not ready at all. They expected that things would warm up in a day or two and all would be back to normal. Ah, no. There was ice everywhere. Power was out at stores if you could even get to them. Medical equipment that depends on electricity failed, putting lives at risk. But no one could really prepare for days of no power, no heat, and no water. It was too damned cold – and it will happen again. The climate is changing and weather patterns are changing with it. I do not trust the Texas power infrastructure to put people’s lives over profits.

I’m out of practice with cold

Emma watching birds

Texas is in the grip of a week of frigid temperatures with snow, ice, sleet, and freezing rain. Which of course means huge problems with the electicity supply. People are losing power for days with temps in the single digits, while others have lost water, too, as water treatment plants shut down from cold or lack of power. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have kept my power throughout so far, though I’m expecting it to go any minute because, well, we lose power for no reason much of the time. This IS a big reason so it’s baffling – in a good way – that we’ve stayed plugged in and on.

It’s very cold. We’ve been advised to cut back electricity consumption and I’ve unplugged many “extra” things while keeping my blinds down on windows that have them. I’m extremely grateful that all my windows were replaced in the last 18 months with double-paned energy efficient windows that aren’t leaking cold air the way the old ones did. I’m wearing three pairs of socks, my warmest leggings and a sweater that I’m getting really sick of wearing. There are cute flannel sheets on the bed along with blankets and a quilt, so that’s toasty. And I’m using multiple throws wrapped around legs when sitting in one place.

I’m out of practice for this. Oh, I know how to prep for a storm and stocked up at the grocery store and Sam’s by noon on Saturday, got 4 bags of bird seed, and made sure I had plenty of cat food and litter. I didn’t need to go anywhere or do anything except stay inside and warm. But I have no snow boots or long puffy coat (it was finally too big to keep). No long underwear. No sheepskin slippers. There is no snow shovel or ice melt. I’m afraid to try to walk because I know there is ice under the snow. I manage to fall when there’s no reason to fall; this would guarantee I’d end up on my butt.

Because I knew this was coming, I brought work home on Friday and uploaded files to Dropbox so I could access what I needed. We cancelled church on Sunday because of icy conditions, and ended up closing the office for the full week. I’m going in to work on Saturday to do bulletins and PowerPoint slides, praying that there not be broken pipes or power problems when I get there.

We have been bird watching, the kitty girls and I. Ellie naturally wants to be out on the porch to do this even when it’s frigid. She is goofy. I can’t reach the bird feeder because of snow so am using a dust pan to help spread bird seed out the kitchen door, on the unscreened back porch, and in front by the dining room window. It’s a win-win since the birds are getting food and the cats can watch from the warmth of inside the house. We have so many birdies – little bitty sparrows, gold finches, red headed woodpeckers, big fat robins, brilliant scarlet cardinals, and cuddly bluebirds. And a bunch that I don’t know what they are but they’re hungry.

Cold and Blessed

Shivering in the coldIt’s hard to type with a bandaid on my thumb. Why do I have one?  Because my cold-induced frozen brain didn’t remember that knives have a sharp side and that I shouldn’t grab the pointy parts when doing dishes.   Oops.

Last weekend I was wearing sandals and a light jacket when I went about my Saturday errands.  Yesterday I had on the puffy coat, scarf, fleece hat, and insulated gloves.  Warm weather is gone until late spring and the kitty and I are having problems adjusting.  She wants me to have the door open so she can pretend she is outside freezing.  I want to close everything and crank up the heat.  I have the opposable thumbs (even if one is in a bandaid) so I’m winning this one.

I went out in the cold yesterday to run some errands, including a stop at Avenue to return something purchased online that I didn’t like in person (yayy for saving money and not keeping it just because it was already there).  At TJ Maxx/Home Goods, the store was full of people who were doing more looking than buying; clothes were the most popular thing found in carts, not the aisles of fancy schmancy Christmas decorations.

The grocery store was a nut-house with people shopping like crazy for Thanksgiving dinner and extended entertaining.  I managed to stick to my list except for lima beans which were inexplicably missing from the frozen food section.  Why would a store sell out of LIMA BEANS?  I only use them for one recipe and would never want a little serving of just limas.  Oh well, I’m substituting edamame in today’s Brunswick Stew recipe instead, because it was already in the freezer.  Plus it will add some additional protein.

The local fire department was outside the grocery, soliciting donations for the food bank.  Much as I want to donate food to the pantry, I’ve had a hard time finding actual physical locations to take stuff so this was perfect.  In addition to my own stuff, I added in pasta and meat sauce, a big can of ravioli, a bunch of jars of baby food, and canned fruit, which I added to their boxes as I left the store.  Plus $20 to help buy turkeys for families.

I have so much, am so blessed with a home, food, and money to buy what I need.  Watching stories of the newly homeless, the folks without medical care or making choices between food and electricity, food banks with empty shelves, and so much more, has made me feel helpless and sad.  But I’ve decided that I can do something with the money I have — it’s not a cop out to donate to organizations that actively help people.  The Food Pantry and the Salvation Army are two that I’m choosing to support this winter, not just once, but often.  Since we’re scaling back Christmas shopping, I’m going to just channel the “extra” money into donations.   It feels good to know that I can help.