Saturday, December 21, 2013

Numbers Queen

Yeah baby, I'm the Numbers Queen. I am my new health care provider's "Star Patient."
Because, in 7 months, I have cut my cholesterol in HALF.
Lost 43 pounds.
Dropped my blood sugar from so high it was not on the charts, to so low it doesn't qualify as even PRE diabetic.
No longer anemic.
No longer low thyroid.
Blood pressure? Still need some meds, but one-EIGHTH of what I was taking before.
The physician's assistant said, I have NEVER had a patient accomplish this before.
After all the hard work, this feels pretty damn good. Like a Christmas present.

On other notes--the traveling boy is HOME AGAIN. So glad to have him back. I go in his room and just smile when I see him sleeping. I forgot how much he made me laugh, how much I enjoyed having him around.
Caspian, will be my next gypsy. He is leaving in three weeks for months in New Orleans, helping a team of young people rebuild an apartment complex in the city. He will be there for Mardi Gras. Oh dear.
The new year is fast approaching. I am not without concerns . . . . have some pretty worrisome issues waiting for my attention whenever I find a second to think about them. But as I face them, I will do it knowing that I am the NUMBERS QUEEN. Yeah, baby.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Just in Case . . . .

 . . .you don't get enough of this Orr's writing, you can read another Orr's writings at this link.
Yes, she's wonderful.
Yes, I'm prejudiced.
Yes, I don't care that I'm biased. And proud. And adore every fiber of that girl.

Promise to post soon. Life has been kickin' my butt and I am pulling myself up again. After all, I'm a vampire.
Not sure what that means? Read her blog and you will.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Holidays are Upon Us

As I post this, it is bitterly cold outside. From inside, it doesn't look like it. The sun is shining and the winds have slowed. Ah, just deception, however. The wind chill is below freezing and will hit single digits tonight. Brrrrr. All the more reason to stay inside where it is warm and I am happy.

My career seems to be in a state of . . .dormancy? . . . right now! Hey, maybe Tami gets her own mid-season hiatus like her favorite TV shows. Ha, never thought of that before.

My assignments have dwindled down to almost nothing, which is a little (Ha, a little) scary. I was hired yesterday by a new company, and I have several jobs pending that will probably kick in after the holidays, but for right now, I have one large project to tie up and then I'm assignment-less. On one hand, I LOVE it. I can spend the holiday season wrapping and napping, reading and watching movies with the family . . . . I certainly relish my time off, but I also know that about February/March, life will be very, very stressful because of this time off.

I've looked into getting a "regular" job, but hesitate to commit to anything. Right now Caspian and Nicole have jobs that they have to get to and from (some are public transportable--some not), Coryn is returning in 11 days (YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and there's much to do to prepare for the holiday. I am sending out the gifts I've been accumulating in our bedroom all year for people.  All of our relatives are back in Indiana, so lots of boxes headed back that way. (The post office depends on what I send out each month to pay the electric bill, I think.) I'm putting together the annual holiday letter and sending out cards to people I've worked with this year. I don't know how to fit in a regular job . . and would really prefer not to. I will keep sending out those emails to companies and hope someone says, Wow have I got a great, months-long, high-paying, fascinating-topic, fun-editor, flexible-deadline job for you.

Ha, right. Well at least a combination of two of any of those factors. I can settle for that.

I am planning to post some book reviews/comments, as I haven't done that in ages. Do you keep track of what you read each year? I always start out thinking I will get so much reading done, and, at the end of the year I total the titles up, I am amazed to not hit 50 books. Where, oh where, did the time go?

Hope your house is warm, your hours are busy, your bank accounts are full, your heart is fuller--or at least some combination of these factors!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Finally Back!

Well, that was a ridiculously long absence, and I apologize. I have had many, many beneficial changes since the seizure in May. I have lost 40 lbs., I have drastically changed my diet, I have been exercising regularly for 5 months and even joined a gym. My blood sugar numbers stay pretty perfect.  But . . . I feel different.

I tire easier. I get overwhelmed easier. Is it weird to say I don't feel like quite the same person as I was before? I can't even say I don't like this person, in many ways, better, but there are some things I don't care for as much either. I get angry at my inability to tolerate as much as I used to. I get especially upset at the physical problems I am still dealing with. I mean, HECK, how much more virtuous can I get?! :) (I suppose I could give up coffee, but then I wouldn't want to live anyway . . . just kidding. Sort of. Love my low sugar mochas.) I've had a weird assortment of physical issues in recent weeks and I simply have no patience for any of them. They make me angry.


Other news? Family is doing very well. Nicole has a new job working at the Portland airport and, for the first time, she really, really LIKES her job. No news on the dating front. She is doing National Novel Writing Month for the 7th year in a row. She turned 23 last week--amazing. The age I was when I got married. How did that happen?

Caspian is still working about 20- 25 hours a week at a local brick manufacturing plant. He is thinking about going to Indiana in early 2014 to live with his grandmother for a few months, get a part time job, visit friends and family, and increase his traveling experience. He will be 21 in the spring. Once again, how did that happen?

Coryn has a little less than a month left on his grand travel adventure. We have missed him terribly. He has certainly had some incredible experiences, from learning to live in remote locations, helping to  take care of two very lively, busy little people, driving a quad, and discovering how hot Africa can get to holding an adorable baby monkey, attending a UN floating barge party and meeting a cute Greek girl. He will be home the week before Christmas and we have warned him we will do a great deal of hugging to make up for lost time. In the spring, he will turn 18 and I will officially have all "adult" children. (They've been adults for years in my opinion.)

Joseph is good--having sleep issues, which is lousy for him, and for me, since his disturbances bleed over into mine. We are experimenting with changing sleep schedules to see if we can figure it all out. We celebrated 31 years of marriage at the end of last month. As we so predictably are at that time of the year, we were broke and so did little. We went out to dinner, had some wonderful sangria wine, and had silly pictures taken in a photo booth. I cherish them. And him. And our years together. And the ones to come.

Still writing letters (they are occasionally my personal salvation on a day when I have written assignments all day and want to put words together that are about ME). Still reading when I have a chance. No new glasses yet, sadly. Not in the budget. Think I will ask Santa to bring them. :) Does he have elves who specialize in that kind of thing?

Sorry for the long silence. I should be back more now. It means a lot that people check in, read and I love comments, so feel free to leave them. Thanks all.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Guest Author?! Really? YES!

Hey almost two dozen followers . . . . sorry for my continued absence. I have tons of excuses but it will boil down to lack of time, as usual. In my stead, however, I'd love to post something my daughter Nicole wrote recently. It touched my heart in many, many ways and I thought it said so many essential things about who we are and who she has become, as a person, an adult, a writer, a daughter, a future wife and mother, that I had to share it. Give it a read. Leave comments if you want. I so enjoy knowing you came by. 

Reviews and Ridicule

I came to a realization recently regarding my own writing.

A few weeks ago, I submitted a piece of my writing to the writing group I am a member of. Now, I had done this several times before and had thought I knew what to expect. They'd always been very good about giving good feedback along with the bad, had always made a point of ending on a positive note. With this in mind, I gave them the longest piece they'd ever looked at and in retrospect; it feels as if they tore it to shreds. It's been weeks since that happened and I've had time to gain distance from it. At the time, however, I found it almost impossible not to take it personally. When an author shares a piece of writing that's a work-in-progress, it's a show of trust. When I had my story ridiculed, torn apart and then given back to me with a "there's nothing to salvage here," I found myself wanting to do nothing more than put my laptop in a box.

I'm done. That's it. I suck. Why keep going?

Because I am stronger than that, I didn't give in. I've pushed and shoved onwards into the next story, next plot, next plot of characters. I've put distance between me and my hurt feelings, but more than that, I think I've realized just why my work was received as it was.

As you likely know from reading my recent post on the Cal Leandros series by Robin Thurman, I am one of her biggest fans. This is due to the bond between her main characters, which are almost always male. Sometimes they're brothers, sometimes they're brothers in all but blood, but they're always incredibly close, yet believable. That's what I've vied for. That's the sort of dynamic I want to insert into my own tales, but according to the reviews I've gotten, I'm somehow missing the mark. When I read a review of Robin Thurman's first book, Nightlife, (I own 13 copies now) I realized why.

I was raised in a rather unusual household. It isn't just that I was unschooled all my life or that both of my parents were atheist. It wasn't just that we were a bunch of hippies, believing in things like home births instead of hospitals, breastfeeding instead of formula, family beds instead of cribs. It wasn't even that we visited nudist resorts or that we changed diets as often as most people washed their hair. No. What made my household weird and unlike that of any of my friends was the LOVE and our ability to share it.

My parents have never yelled in anger, not at each other or at their kids. Throughout my childhood and then my teens, my parents are known to kiss, grope, fondle, tickle and even (GASP) play footsy under the table at meals. Many people reading this may frown on their doing this in view of their children, but to us, it was normal. It was our parent’s way of modeling what love was supposed to look like. And no, they didn't just do this at home. Out at restaurants, my dad would hold the door open for my mom as much as he would kiss her as she walked through. Walking into one of our billion favorite coffee shops, my mom would share the newspaper with my dad as much as she'd rest her leg on his knee while they read them. These aren't inappropriate acts. They're signs of love. It only seems weird because they're showing them to the world. Shouldn't we smile at the sight rather than remark "get a room?"

At this point, you might already think my family bizarre. Stick with me though. I do fully intend to swing this topic back to writing fiction and the epiphany I had regarding my own works.

A lot of people look at my parents PDA (public displays of affection) as odd, but they're a married couple of 31 years. It's unusual, but my dad dipping my mom in the middle of the library to kiss her for no reason other than he felt like it, is STILL romantic, even if startling to some. They're married. They're supposed to be close.

What people can't wrap their heads around is the idea of siblings being close. So what if my brothers and I hug each other after being gone all day, visiting with friends? So what if my 20 year old brother worked an eight hour shift, is in pain, so I rub his shoulders while the whole family watches TV? So what if I sit next to my 17 year old brother in bed and watch TV with him on his laptop, his hip jammed up against mine (because futons are NARROW!)? So what if my entire family is walking into a restaurant and my parents link arms, so my brothers and I do too? And finally, so what if my siblings and I say "I love you" to each other at the end of phone calls and when we head to bed at night?

We're FAMILY. We love each other. Why is it weird for us to show it? It's not creepy love. It doesn't cross any taboo lines. We don't have a house or a home. We have a haven. We're 100% percent comfortable with who we are here and who our family members are. Frankly, I think I'm lucky that our hugs aren't awkward. I'm lucky that I can say I love you to the people I adore without any hesitation. I'm lucky that if one of us is in pain, I can reach out and hold a hand, rub shoulders, kiss a cheek, sit closely so that he knows I am there.

I love this, but I will admit that compared to the rest of the world, we're weird. THIS is my normal, but it's the world's weird. Thus, when I insert this type of relationship, this type of physical and verbal affection, into my stories, I get adverse reactions. Writing about two fully grown brothers hugging each other after something traumatic comes across as un-masculine. Writing about two men, unrelated yet raised as brothers, who let each other see them cry--well, that's not just girly, that's just plain wimpy. In fiction and in life, it is unbelievable for men to be affectionate with each other and still be straight.

Put simply:
(1)  I come from a household that is verbally and physically loving
(2)  As a result, I like authors such as Robin Thurman and Sarah Rees Brennan, who write stories of characters who are also verbally and physically loving, such as brothers, sisters, really good friends
(3)  As a result, I also write want to write about these types of relationships
(4)  Because these are not societal norms, my stories and my taste in stories similar to them comes as a challenge to those attempting to review them

When I read that review of Robin Thurman's Nightlife, she was being given flack for the unbelievable connection between her two main characters, Cal and Niko. As a devoted fan, I knew just what the reviewer was bothered by. You know what? They were bothered by the very thing I love Robin's books for, the very thing I always write about, the very thing I grew up with. With all of this in mind, I can now understand why I got the incredibly critical feedback that I received from that writing group.

This has left me with just one question though: Shouldn't you showing your love for your loved ones BE a societal norm? 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I'm Baccccccccck.

Sorry for the delay. In part, it is due to the fact that I have to sign in under one account to get access to online documents editors send me, and into a different account to post to this blog. Switching back and forth is sometimes irritating and complicated, and so I simply give up on posting for a while.

In part it is also due to being a little overwhelmed by life. While my blood sugars continue to stay in target range without any insulin, and my weight is still dropping (albeit S L O W L Y), I have been dealing with an angry gallbladder and then, out of the blue, some type of food poisoning. Up all night erupting (that's enough detail, right?) and then this weekend dealing with the sore muscles and pain the aforementioned eruptions caused.

So--a catch up on the Orr House is as follows . . .
Caspian is working 20 to 30 hours a week at a local company that manufactures bricks. While he doesn't LIKE going to work, he likes bringing home a paycheck and casually saying, "Here Mom, let me cover dinner tonight" or "Let me fill up the gas tank today."

Nicole is back from her travels, and has been focusing on writing jobs, transcription jobs, job applications, and gazing at handsome men from afar. Some guy so needs to come along and sweep her off her feet. She is more than ready, and is tired of making the first move after all of these years.

Coryn left Belgium this morning and lands is Africa later today. It is hard for me to imagine him there as I know so so little about where he will live. I am anxious for the chance to Skype (when clear weather in Liberia permits) and get a look at what a rubber plantation is like. I have stereotyped images in my mind as to what Africa looks like--you know, the stuff we see on the National Geographic documentaries--and it's hard for me to picture him in the middle of all of that. I miss him but am loving the adventures he is having, knowing they will be with him for the rest of his life.

Joseph is . . . . good. We have had several days of rain and already have discovered leaks that we had hoped an entire summer of money, time and VERY hard work had repaired. That was a blow, and I know he lies in bed in the mornings thinking about what to do about it. I lie there thinking about meeting due dates and how to write an introduction and what my "to do" list dictates I am doing with my day. He thinks about flashing, shingles, water patterns, and leaks. Ah, adulthood.

Anyway, that is the overall catch up for the Orr House. I will try to post more often in coming weeks, and just put up with the account switching. I have a couple of new followers now (hey guys!) and that makes me smile. Keep stopping by, leaving a comment and letting me know you're reading. It's a great motivator to give you more to read.

Til next time.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

That Sound you Hear . . . .

If you happen to hear a high-pitched keening sound early Monday morning, it is not the U.S. attacking Syria. It's not a plane with engine trouble. It's not even Miley Cyrus attempting to outdo her hideous performance of earlier this week.

No. The sound is Tami's apron strings stretching around the world. I've done it before and survived. I did it in 2011 when Nicole went to Alaska, and again in 2012, when she went to Australia. Now I am doing it as Coryn walks away to go to Europe and then Africa for almost four months. His bags are packed, his yellow fever vaccine has been given, his tickets are printed, his insurance is purchased, and his Kindle is loaded up. He has such amazing adventure in front of him, I can't begin to imagine it.

I am beyond thrilled for him. This is a dream we have been holding for months, postponing in May when the seizure changed all of our lives, and then resurrecting when the family reached out to say sure, we still want him! (Thanks Laura and David!) I've bought his supplies, helped him design an online fundraiser, managed donations (thanks again to all!), and supported him every way I can.

But . . . the truth is . . . I will miss him so much, it's like walking around with a low-grade fever. It wears you out, it slows you down, it makes you feel off and irritable, and unsettled. It won't last long. He will fly out very, very early tomorrow morning, and I'll stand in the airport and cry (once he can't see me any longer), and then, as the days past, I will hear about his incredible adventures and be so happy for him I will be ridiculous.

But . . . right now, the idea that he won't be here to tease and laugh with, and to give the most amazing morning (which were always mid-afternoon since he slept in) hugs is hard to get past.

So many parents are eager for their children to grow up and move out and on with their lives. While I want excitement and adventures for all of my children, I must admit their leaving almost undoes me as I love and enjoy their company so much. Roots and wings, right?  I think the quote forgot to mention that flight is exciting freedom, but is not without its pain.

Nicole's Trip Back in Time

Nicole has been busier than usual these days. After a week spent at the Oregon Country Fair with a friend, she worked a booth at the Hood River Country Fair, learning how to get burnt making cotton candy, how hard carnies work, and how fabulous it is to be at a fair at night when everyone else has gone home.

She returned from those adventures to get on a Greyhound bus and travel all the way to Tennessee, where she was a counselor at an unschooling camp for a week. She taught her group how to do the Cup Game, performed in the talent show, and had a wonderful time. From there, she took another bus over to Indiana. She stayed for a week with her Grandmother (Joseph's mom, who lives in our old house, so she slept in her original bedroom), and visited her past in every way possible.

She had coffee with her best friend from the past--now a mom and wife. She met up with neighbors, going to lunch, getting rides and catching up. She went to our all time favorite playhouse where Jasmine and I used to usher, and saw one of the best plays ever, "Forever Plaid". She went to the office where Joseph, his sister, and his parents once worked, and to the playground and park where she used to play and go to day camp. She had dinner with two families that did--and still do--mean the world to us. They showed her amazing hospitality and kindness, welcoming her into their lives as if we had only stepped out for a few weeks instead of years. They plied her with coffee and delicious food and laughter and memories.

She visited our old grocery store, ate at favorite old spots, and walked through familiar pathways. She went out into the huge field behind our house where we took the kids to play all the time. We shot rockets up from here, shouted hello down the mancovers to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that the kids KNEW lived down there, and had picnics there over the years.

She met up with very kind relatives and borrowed Grandma's car to drive around, getting Penguin Point french fries, and some coffee at Courthouse Coffee, and then drove to Leesburg to see the house she was born in. I had her walk down the main street and told her about how, when we lived there, Jasmine and I would get up in the morning and walk down to the post office to get our mail (no home mail delivery in a town this small), and then stop in the grocery store to get a glazed donut. We would sit on the curb and share it.

As she took this trip into the past, I was vicariously right along with her, you see. Tonight we will sit down and go through the 1,000 photos she took of the her time in Indiana and further reminisce. I am glad she is back home, sitting next to me as we do so. As much as she enjoyed her time connecting to the past, she is happy to be back here where the present and a very bright future await her, and so are we.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Family Visitor!

Since we came to Oregon in late 2001, we haven't had many visitors from back in Indiana. My parents came out in 2005 and my Mom was here in 2007. This week we have been fortunate enough to have Joseph's youngest brother Jon here to visit as he explores this part of the country on his most lovely motorcycle. Here are the Orr bros, reunited again!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

More Books!

It has been a while since I posted any books reviews/comments, so here is what I've been reading in my severely limited free time lately:

1. Zoo/James Patterson . . . . really quick, fun read. If you like fast action and a good story, he is the master.
2. Both of Us/Ryan O'Neal . . . a biography of his years with Farrah. Meh. Mostly skimmed this one.
3. Insane City/Dave Barry . . . . if you like funny and are not easily offended, RUN, do not walk, to get this book. Plan to be a pain to anyone in the room with you as you read it. You will want to read it out loud constantly and when you aren't reading it out loud, you're laughing and falling over. What a delight.
4. Defending Jacob/Landay . . . disturbing, trial/law oriented tale. Worth your time.
5. Mad Scientist's Daughter/Clarke . . . hmmm. . . interesting premise but I felt somewhat let down by it by the end.
6. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend/Matthew Dicks. . . . incredibly unusual and fascinating read. It is from the perspective of a little boy's "imaginary friend" and what he must do when his little boy is in danger.
7. Lunatics/Barry and Zweigel .  . my second Dave Barry book. I  laughed just as much and ended up reading half of it out loud to Nicole and Joseph. Ludicrously wonderful.
8. NOS4A2/Joe Hill . . . wow. I'm a Stephen King fan but his son may just be taking over his spot in favorite authors list. This novel was fabulous and scary and beautifully done.
9. The Guilty One/Ballantyne . . . didn't think I was going to like this one at first and ended up really enjoying it. Excellent story, but would have loved another chapter or two at the end to tie us some loose ends.
10. Redshirts/Scalzi. . . . If you know the term "red shirts", you will like this book. It's a zany take on shows like "Star Trek" and a lot of fun.

I've read a few other titles, of course, and am currently reading Sisterland (really well written and incredibly intriguing story line) and Forever, Interrupted (which made me cry by p. 10 so I'm in big trouble). What's on your night table to read?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Beautiful Trio

They are such good friends, these three. Can't tell they are related at all, can you? Taken this June at Maupin VW Rendezvous. 

Random Family Pic

From one of our trips to Seattle. Cas still had long hair, Coryn hadn't dyed his yet and I was pre seizure. But we are all happy and having fun, so I love this one. Not sure how the guy in the yellow raincoat got in the pic.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Gypsy Children

The Orr children continue to either be on the move, or preparing to be on the move. Nicole leaves in an hour for Tennessee to be a counselor (see below) and then over to Indiana for a week of nostalgia as she revisits familiar places, sees relatives, and reunites with friends and lots of childhood memories. She returns in three weeks.

Coryn is preparing for his upcoming trip to Belgium/Liberia (Africa). Caspian was working for Dannon Yogurt, got laid off and is interviewing for more jobs soon. The house is a'buzz, and I just try to keep up with all of the details. Recently someone told me I clearly had "gypsy" children. I suspect he is right.

Here is Nicole's profile for the unschooling camp where she will be a counselor. (ETUSC)
Nicole Orr, Mentor
If the zombie apocalypse was actually to occur, I’d probably be one of the best people to have in your survival group! Building houses with Habitat for Humanity means that I could help create a zombie-proof town. (Just as I’m not stupid enough to name a boat the Titanic, I’m also smart enough to NOT call our town Woodbury) With a certificate in man-tracking, I could help you chase down lunch without BECOMING lunch ourselves. My First Aid certificate could come in handy, but I won’t be using CPR on anybody! (No kiss is worth getting my lips gnawed off!) While my having been an Assistant Team Leader to a Search and Rescue Unit might make me good leadership material, I wouldn’t want to be your leader against a zombie tsunami. (The leader may not be a Red Shirt themselves, but they get to be responsible for them!) Be warned, however, that if I were a member of your survival group, your ears would soon bleed with my endless Supernatural, Walking Dead and Big Bang Theory references….all in the interest of survival, I swear!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Great Idea . . . Now What?

So . . . I came up with a really terrific idea this week. I have spent a couple of hours putting together lists and brainstorming ideas and getting really excited. I think this business would stay relatively small, but be profitable and fun and provide a great service for all letter writers/penpallers/writers out there.

Now what?

I have the ideas, the prices, the inventory, the name--but I don't know how to follow through. I don't think an Etsy account would work for what I am doing, and I don't have the money to hire someone to do a website just for this. I am checking in with friends for bartering free ads, posted something about it on Facebook and will even create a sales sheet to send to those wonderful personal correspondents of mine.

But, what else? How can I get word out further?

I will figure it out. I will be in bed tonight, trying to sleep and instead making lists in my head of possible avenues.

Hmmmmm. Great idea, Tami . . really. Now what?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Perfect Example

Ok, I admit our family has a perverse and somewhat wicked or illicit sense of humor. I should perhaps be ashamed, but now the kids are all too old for Child Services to come around, I really can say I'm proud of it.

Perfect example.
Last night, dinner time was approaching. For a million stressful reasons, there was nothing in the house to make and the usual cook (Joseph) wasn't feeling his best. Tummies were rumbling, so Nicole went online and got a tasty looking paleo recipe. Together we made a list of the few ingredients we needed and didn't have. She and Caspian went to the store and got them, brought them home, and cooking commenced.

45 minutes later a delicious looking meal was on the table.
We all took a bite and . . . frowned.
We took another  and . . looked at each other.
What was wrong with it? Chicken . . ok. Pineapple .. ok. Red pepper . . ok. Carrots . . ok. It didn't taste spoiled, it tasted incredibly BITTER. EVEN THE TEENAGE BOYS COULD NOT EAT IT. Proof it was inedible right there.
(We finally realized it was the grated fresh ginger. Although we had just gotten it, apparently the store had had it a while and it had turned very bitter.)

So, yes, we were all very disappointed--and still quite hungry. A waste of money, food, and time. How did the Orr family respond, however?

Joseph started it by saying, "It was bad ginger that did it."
Me: Bad Ginger? Sounds like a porn movie title.
Kids start laughing.
Me: Tonight's triple-X feature, "Bad Ginger" .  . . . watch what she can do to YOUR chicken.

Okay, perhaps inappropriate to some. But we finished the meal laughing and sharing a watermelon between the five of us.

It made me smile. Perfect example of the Orr sense of humor.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I Can Say . . .

Do you have times where you just feel "off"? Where things seem to hurt more (emotionally and physically), when humor is harder to find, when worries are louder, when your self-esteem dips, and where you feel a little lonely even though you're surrounded by people who truly love you? That pretty much describes my last week. I have many causes to point my finger at (and yes, I just ended a sentence with a preposition, but I'm feeling feisty so gimme a break).

I can say it is because I just stopped a medication and even though it was at the doctor's recommendation, I've taken it twice a day for more than two months and I think I can feel the impact.

I can say it is because, despite daily exercise and eating very carefully, my weight loss has stalled for weeks.

I can say it is because, despite all of the above, my blood pressure has been creeping back up for reasons I don't understand. (Well, other than the LIST of reasons in this post, eh?)

I can say it is because my husband is very stressed right now because of the roofing job and other pressures and we are SO connected that when he goes internal and quiet, I feel somewhat adrift as he is often my anchor. His way of handling stress is right for him, but I honestly feel like my soulmate disappears for a while, and goodness, I miss him.

I can say it is because Coryn is leaving in six weeks for Europe and I already miss him. I can also add the stress of worrying about getting enough money for it to order that ticket next week. A number of people have been quite kind, but we are still short of what we need to click "purchase ticket" and every passing day, the price climbs a little.

I can say it is because of this rotten, rotten headache I have that I can't seem to shake for days. I feel sure the neurologist on Tuesday will give me the all clear, but I do wish I knew why the headache (which started three days before the seizure).

I can say that my self-esteem took a hit this weekend. How I look in my head, especially after losing 26 lbs., is not how I looked in our family pictures. (And yes, it took me TWO HOURS to decide what to wear, with input from the entire family, and if I could do it all over again, I would change in a heartbeat.)

I can say that when a friend snapped a pic of me during our neighborhood walk (hair up, sweaty, shorts) and put it online, my confidence slipped lower. I can add that trying to explain to my husband why this was upsetting to me right now was futile. He just looks at me with complete confusion, and while I never doubt he LOVES me, sometimes, being a MAN you know, he just doesn't GET me.

I can say all of this and every statement is true. But I know that each one will pass. Each one will be weathered or disappear or be resolved, and I will feel better. But right now . . . I'm feeling a bit low. I can say that, right?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Family Picture Day

My friend Susan came over today and graciously put up with our shenanigans as we had family pics taken. Are you as picky about photos as I am? I know how I look in my head and then I never look like that in pictures. Ah well. We can't all be supermodels, right? Anyway, my beautiful family looks wonderful and I wanted to share the new pic with you. How did I end up so much shorter than everyone else?

This shot was supposed to be like "Charlie's Angels". I think we look terrifying--mostly because we are insane, not because we are dangerous. Thoughts? 

And finally, because we can never do NORMAL pics all the way through (and because Susan is so patient with our odd requests), we have the attack of the killer vines.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Boy's Fundraising Project

In case you aren't on Facebook (there must be a few people left that aren't  . . . ), this is my son's current project for raising the funds he needs for his trip to Belgium Take a look at it and see what you think. Leave a comment and if you have a few spare bucks with nothing to do, that would be wonderful as well. Thanks!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Most of us . . .. on a Sunny Oregon Afternoon

Here is a picture a neighbor took today. Coryn wasn't with us, so missed the chance, but thought you'd like to see how great the kids are doing.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Little Smug?

I am feeling pretty pleased with myself of late. I've stuck to the diet . . . no, sorry . . . LIFESTYLE change . . . for almost 7 weeks now. When I started walking, I could go to the end of the street and back. Now I'm on the track 4-5 times a week, doing as many as six laps (1.5 miles) in a day, plus the walk there and back. In between, I walk throughout the neighborhood, plus I've been doing the Health Rider 3 times a week.

Weight loss continues, although slower as my body adjusts to what I'm doing (which is why I keep doing different exercises) and I'm down 24.5 lbs.  My blood sugar numbers are staying between 97 and 125 and my blood pressure is fine on about 1/4 of the medicine I used to take. Now, if I can ace this upcoming MRI and get my eyes to the point where I can read again, I will consider this "reboot" officially a good thing.

Work is going well . . . I'm behind, but not to the point of tears yet. I"m JUST keeping up, but I need to because I've got a staggering $14,000 in medical bills to pay, plus a roof to finish.

So, just for the moment, I gotta admit, I am feeling a little bit smug. Is that allowed?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Fourth and Memories

Today was the fourth of July. It's a day I associate with lots of memories. I loved going to the fireworks growing up and I remember many years out in the high school field watching the explosions overhead. I remember one in particular that was great fun, spent with my family and a dear, dear friend of mine. He and I lost touch after high school. I called him up about 15 years ago and we had a great talk. A couple of years ago, I dreamt about him and decided to search for him online. When I did, I found that he had committed suicide three days earlier. I still cry when I think about it.

The fourth reminds me of when I broke up with my boyfriend of 4 plus years. Painful. Liberating, Scary.

The fourth reminds me of being in labor with Jasmine and not knowing it. Going to dinner at my in-law's house and wondering why I felt uncomfortable every few minutes. By the time we got back home, I was having contractions every 3-4 minutes. She arrived in the early hours of July 5th. It was supposed to be at home, but ended up in the hospital for reasons I would know better to change today, but was clueless then. Coming home on the 5th with that precious, tiny bundle and desperately hoping I would know how to take care of her. The loving part of her was easy.

The fourth reminds me of the year Nicole was in Alaska and we talked by phone as I watched the colors in the sky, through tears because I missed her.

This year, I came up with a new idea--every day, I go to the local high school track and walk. The view is amazing--clear sky in every direction. So tonight, we went early and took chairs. We walked laps and then set up the chairs and watched fireworks in seven different places across the sky. It was the most amazing thing ever. Of course, we celebrated with Oreos--a tradition that began 26 years ago. I haven't had sugar in 6 weeks, but I had one cookie because heck, it's a TRADITION. We sat in chairs and laughed and talked and oooohed and ahhhhed and even shivered a little as a brisk wind came through.

It was all about family. And really, that is what all of my memories of the 4th were about. I look forward to future July 4ths and making even more to add to the list. Happy Independence Day to all.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Inspiration and Improvement (and Irritation!)

Sorry for the lack of updates. My days are so full lately and I can't seem to find the spare time to sit down and post. Ridiculous excuse, I know. It's amazing how making time for two to three walks a day messes with a person's daily schedule.

We are currently doing some re-roofing. Unless you are masochistic, don't try this at home. It's hot, dirty, exhausting, expensive work. Our insurance company JUST happened to come by a few months ago when we had JUST put a tarp on the roof during heavy rains . . . we have had this same spot fixed THREE TIMES (and paid for it three times) and it just leaks again. Anyway, they saw that and the fact that we had taken out the fence on one side of the house (to put a car garage there since the city told us we couldn't keep it in the front yard!) and it was leaning, and decided not to renew our policy unless we fixed them.

Sigh. They told us this in March. Portland in March? Nothing but rain until July. Deadline? July 16. Sigh again. Weather report? Mid-90s. BIG sigh. So my 61 yr old husband and my 20 yr old son have been up there everyday scraping, digging, pulling, tossing and getting tired. I take them water and help with clean up. Coryn is at the Harry Potter conference so he got a free card until he returns tomorrow. Nicole has been going to multiple job interviews and babysitting jobs, so hasn't had a chance either. (For some reason, the family decided that a woman prone to vertigo and known to have seizures should not work up on a roof . . . go figure!)

That has been the focus of the week. Not a fun focus at all.

Today, however, I took my walk alone. This is rare. Usually I am accompanied by (a) husband, (b) one or more children and/or (c) dog. It was too hot for the dog, the hubby was on the roof and kids were sleeping, so I took off on my own. I have been going to the high school track a few blocks away, doing one lap and then returning. Today I felt good, energetic,and did TWO laps or 1/2 mile. So that is IMPROVEMENT part of the title. I am walking better every day. When it is this hot, I do it very early or very late so it isn't too taxing.

Before getting to the track, I pass through the school parking lot where there are a line of dumpsters. As I paused by one to bend over and touch my toes to loosen my back, I heard noises coming from one of the other dumpsters. My mind went to (a) wild, ravenous animals, (b) angry demons trapped by invisible devil's traps, or (c) crime victims desperate for rescue. When I peeked around, I saw (and I live in PORTLAND, I should have KNOWN THIS), a dumpster diver. He was in search of cans and bottles to recycle for money (common here). I laughed and wished him good luck.

While walking the track alone, I thought a lot and here are the earth-shatteringly, profound thoughts I came up with (prepare yourself to be enlightened):

1. You can never see your eye floaters better then when looking up a bright blue morning sky. I said hello to Sherm and Spot.

2. I have a great new stationery idea I can't wait to try out. When I get today's work done, it will be my reward.

3. Who knew softball diamonds had to be maintained? There is one attached to the track and people were out there smoothing it out and weeding around it this morning.

Hence, the inspiration.

The irritation, you ask? How kind of you to pay attention to the title! I am on a weight loss plateau. Eating regular meals but taking in very very low carbs, no sugar . . . and I'm on my 5th day of weighing the EXACT SAME THING. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Maybe I should climb up on the roof? I might lose a little extra if I sweat enough . . . .

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Yet Another Progress Report

Checking in to let you ALL (17 of you at least) know that I'm doing okay. I have not had any insulin for two weeks and my numbers are staying in the perfect range. I'm walking two to three times a day, each time accompanied by anyone from a handsome hubby to chatterbox kids to all of them PLUS the dog. I actually cherish these walks. They are family oriented and peaceful and we do a lot of laughing.

My blood pressure is also back into the normal ranges, so taking those medications may end soon as well. I don't want to take medication that will drive the numbers TOO low.

I am down 18 pounds and counting. I have little to no appetite most of the time and nothing tastes "good", which makes it much easier to not eat much.

Work? Well, work has been . . . unusual. I've had some very kind editors that have patiently moved deadlines. I have others who have been compassionate but can't move deadlines so took the projects back. I've had others yank them away from me because I don't move fast enough. Hard to do when you can barely see the screen. My vision is changing by the hour such that I do most of my book reading WITHOUT my glasses on because that is better than trying to look through them.

In a few days, we will pack up our trailer and drive 120 miles away to the desert region of Oregon for our annual VW camp out. I suspect we will go in our van instead of our bus because, currently, the engine is still sitting on the floor of the garage but honestly, I do NOT care. I just want the sun, the fresh air, the tent, the family together, the NO WORK, the time to read and nap and write letters and soak up summer time. How we will manage to eat paleo at a camp out I have yet to figure out, but we will manage.

So, that's how I am doing. My only complaint right now, other than being half blind, is my sleeping schedule. For weeks I have gone to bed absolutely brain dead exhausted. I pulled myself up the stairs, even if I took a nap in the afternoon. For the last two nights however, I can NOT get to sleep. I crawl into bed and just lie there, awake. Tired, but awake. Hence the 1:30 a.m. post. Not sure what's going on, but heck, I liked the sleeping soundly much better.

Stay tuned. More to come, I am sure!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Progress Report: I'm Learning

How am I? I get that question a lot and I appreciate it each time. I know it means people care about me. I am just never quite sure how to respond. Mostly I'm adjusting. I'm learning to take blood sugar levels twice a day. I'm learning to shoot up insulin twice a day. I'm learning what to eat and not eat. I'm learning that antiseizure meds make me cranky. I'm learning that if I don't take a nap once a day, I fall apart by bedtime. I'm learning that I am WAY colder than I ever was before so I keep adding layers. I'm learning that adjusting your blood sugar levels messes up your vision and trying to do my job when you can't SEE is challenging enough to make me more than a little feisty. 

Of course, I'm also learning that my family and friends are wonderful people. I have gotten a dozen get well cards in the mail and even a few packages. My daughter checks in on me every 15 seconds and makes sure I have whatever I need and makes me smile. My sons grab me heat packs and blankets without being asked. This morning I came downstairs to a note from my oldest son about how much I mean to him. .  . cue tears, of course. My husband is incredible . .. spending hours in the kitchen making healthy meals for me, plus rubbing my shoulders, bringing my pillow so I take a nap, and somehow STILL thinking I'm beautiful. 

Bottom line? I feel loved. I feel overwhelmed and tired and frustrated and I am violently angry about the cost of medical care--but I feel loved. For each one of you who has reached out to me, thank you. I return to your messages and cards and letters and posts whenever I need the boost. 

I'm learning. It isn't always fun or easy, but  . . . I'm learning. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

31 Years

31 years ago a hot young doctor pulled up in front of my house in Elkhart, Indiana. He was driving a T-top orange Corvette. He pulled up and parked while I, unbeknownst to him, was watching from inside the house and trying to settle my pounding heart so I wouldn't look as terrified as I felt. He rang the doorbell and I answered it.

It was awkward. Last time I had seen this guy--two years earlier, he was in a white coat and he was my doctor. I didn't know his first name and I thought he was completely and utterly out of my league. I mean this guy was HOT. Not to mention I was involved with someone at the time. (So was he.) Now he was standing at my front door and so handsome I couldn't breathe right.

That was May 31, 1982.
17 days later, we were engaged.
Six months later, we were married.
31 years later I look at his long haired fella who I know better than any other human being on the planet and I want to hug that 1982 me. I want to tell her that times won't always be easy, that disagreements will happen, that life will present us with pain and loss and heartache and sorrow, but through it all, we will get closer. We will laugh and cuddle and shake our heads. He will get pulled over by a cop for missing a crosswalk because he was groping me (just this year). I will get jealous because a woman will move into my "no fly zone" around him and I will have to threaten to shoot her down if she doesn't vacate the space. I will turn to him when I am frightened and he will turn to me when he is overwhelmed.

He will catch me when I have a grand mal seizure and get help.
As I recover, he will take me to my favorite stores and sit patiently.
He will bring me a blanket and refill my water glass. He will tell me I"m beautiful when I couldn't feel less so, and still convince me he believes it.

31 years ago I had NO idea how lucky I was going to be when I invited this handsome doctor into my house. Today I do know and I am so appreciative. Happy anniversary, hon. Let's start on the next 31, ok?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Changes . . . .

Life sure feels different post seizure. Some things are better, some not so much. For example,  I am sleeping better, not running to the bathroom every 30 minutes, and not drinking 20 tumblers of water a day. I am not hungry so have lost four pounds just in the last 5 days. Instead of being warm all the time, I tend to be cold.

On the other hand, I have NO energy. All I want to do is curl up on the couch or go for a ride in the car. (Good gawd, I sound like the family dog. If I start chasing my tail, I'm in trouble.) I don't want to read. I don't want to talk because my tongue hurts. I look at work and am absolutely overwhelmed to the point of tears. I am learning to inject myself twice a day but it ain't fun. The anti-seizure meds give me a stiff neck and headache.

Whine, whine, whine.
I will get back into regular life again soon. Having a tongue without a hole in it will help. :) And I'll get myself some energy somewhere but gosh, I wish me and the dog could trade places for a week or so.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Hey all. Just a quick update. I'm doing  . . . okay. A LOT to adapt to. Twice daily insulin shots. Trying to eat with a tongue that has a huge hole in it. Taking anti seizure medication that makes me feel slow and stupid. Trying to adjust due dates enough that I can start back to work and not want to just put my head down and cry a while. Taking long afternoon naps like an old lady. No appetite at all. Continuously struck with the love of my friends and the unbelievable support of my family. Wishing I could rewind to last week and then skip over this entirely. Appointment with the neurologist on Thursday to see what the "white blip" on the MRI was. So stay tuned. This old bird ain't done yet.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Well. That wasn't what I had planned.

This will be short because it is hard for me to concentrate right now. Wanted people to know on Thursday afternoon I had a grand mal seizure, complete with chomping on my tongue and losing consciousness. It terrified my poor husband (I was too out of it to know). I missed the arrival of the firetruck and ambulance and the ride to the hospital. I was completely confused when I woke up.

Two days later, I am still far from myself. I am in a lot of pain, both from the seizure and the fall, plus biting my tongue to badly. I  even have the gout back which seems extra unkind. I am home however, and learning to give myself insulin injections and try and figure out what caused the seizure (I vote too much work!). I hurt from head to toe and cannot think clearly. Typing is a slowwww process.

I plan to be back to speed soon. Zipppp, there I go. Send love. Always appreciated.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sittin' on my A **

Those of you many fans who follow me on Facebook already know that I am struggling with some tailbone pain of unknown cause. I think it's improving. No temperature for a few days and the pain is done from "kill me now" to "would you just STOP?!?!?!".

Perhaps, you may think, this woman shouldn't spend so much time sitting on the injured element. Ha, I say! This is where I pull out my handy dandy list (one of many) and tell you the facts, baby.

In April, I wrote one book, four college courses, 7 online ELA courses, 33 passages and . . get this one . . . .258!!!!!!!! items. So, yeah. sittin' on my a** but not being remotely lazy. Just trying to keep my head above water, in fact.

On another note, of course, today is my youngest's birthday. My "baby" is 17. HOW did that happen? This camera-happy kid who smiled as soon you aimed the lens in his direction (from birth!), this tow headed boy who was always happy and sweet turned into this incredibly handsome, hairy, fashionable, wicked smart young man. He's my favorite geek and one of most precious accomplishments (I have three others I am awfully proud of as well.)

Happy Birthday, Mr Coryn Orr. You got your first job yesterday. You're looking into international travel and the world awaits you. Just remember to come back home now and then. Your Mom kind of adores you.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Various and Sundry

Today's post will be a scattershot of thoughts and ideas. I'm tired, and that's about all I have in me right now. :)

  • Caspian turned 20 this week. Seems impossible. He had a great day though. He had to go to his volunteer job and the people made a "big thing" out of his day, earning him a free juice, some raspberry danishes and even--get this!--a brand new pair of Danner boots. Wow. At home, he had favorite dishes for lunch and dinner, and cake gave way to cheesecake, plus ice cream, of course. His gifts were two games he had requested weeks earlier, plus a new mouse for his laptop. 
  • Next up is Coryn's birthday--on May 1 he will turn 17. Sheeesh. How it will be celebrated I don't yet know, but I am sure it will be fun. Food requests are already coming in. 
  • Nicole currently is employed by three companies, but the first ends tomorrow. It is one of those jobs that went from fantastic to stressful and none of us know what happened. Wish we could get some closure on that one. In the meantime, she is working for a catering company and at a greenhouse on weekends. 
  • This past weekend we sold our beloved Green VW bus . .  not without some tears though. We have another bus that Joseph is fixing up and I am desperately hoping will be ready by the time Maupin rolls around in mid-June. The front of the house sure looks empty without our Avocado Crib. 
  • Work . . . well work is kickin' my ass, honestly. I am, as always, grateful as very few people can earn enough writing from home to raise a family of five, but I've been able to do it for the past 12 years. There have been some pretty tense times in those 12 years, but for the most part, we do pretty well. Of course, we're driving a 18 year old van most of the time and we do our best to deal with health emergencies at home with minimal care, but still--we do okay. 
  • I think it might be important for me to officially state that when I come on here and bitch about my workload and being tired, I am not asking for anyone to DO anything about it. I'm simply venting so I can then relax and go back to the next assignment. A recent comment on my blog inferred that I was setting myself up for failure and behaving irresponsibly . . . which was interesting because I am pretty sure the person making the comment knows little about me and my family situation.  I do believe the person was speaking out of concern for me, which I do appreciate. 
  • Suffice it to say, I would like to cut back and take more time to "stop and smell the roses--which Portland has a ton of!", but I can't. I have a family to raise. They are all getting old enough to contribute and they DO in so many ways. As time goes on and they all end up employed, things will ease up. For now, I am grateful I can earn enough to let them pursue dreams and goals and ideas. THAT is what I work so hard for. Paying the bills is not nearly the motivator giving my children freedom is. 
Back to work. I have birthday cakes to pay for--especially since 54 is coming up in about a week. Maybe I will take the day off!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Just Teasing . . . .

Yesterday was a really fantastic day. Granted, I started it with less than four hours of sleep, but still . ... I got up early, got dressed and Joseph drove Nicole and I to the train station. We got on the train and rode it to Seattle. Once there, we walked to a nearby bus station where we got the chance to connect with Coryn, who was in transit from Port Orchard, Washington to Vancouver, Canada. It was so nice to spend a little time with him. Then, we went to our favorite store in Seattle (because it has aisle after aisle of paper, pens, paper, pencils, paper, cards, paper, postcards, paper, markers, paper, notebooks, and PAPER!) We lingered and then went to the Asian grocery store to pick out fun drinks and snacks.

From there, we walked to this GREAT coffee shop/bakery we had found. Best sandwiches and salads ever. We grabbed seats in front of the huge picture window and ate, drank and wrote letters--and talked, of course. We watched the sunny weather turn gray, then dark, then wind and rain swept through, sending pedestrians into their hoodies and splashing fountain water way out of its boundaries. We just watched from our comfy spots inside.

Then, the weather turned gorgeous again just in time for our walk back to the train station. It was almost like it had been designed for our pleasure all day! We got back, boarded, and had a peaceful ride home, spent reading, writing letters, talking, and looking out the window at a gorgeous sunset, sparkling waterways, mysterious mounds, endless pine groves, and graceful bridges.

Yes, perfect. (Well, except for the heart stopping moment when the phone rang and I heard, "Mrs. Orr, this is the Canadian border patrol and we're calling about your son." No, not a line I ever wanted to hear!!! Coryn had his passport, but apparently, when a minor crosses the border, he is supposed to have a letter from mom and dad saying it's ok. Oops. I reassured her I knew he was there, where he was going and when he was returning. Nope, not a runaway. Thanks.)

But the perfect day made returning to reality awfully hard. I came home to 56 emails. Four of them were to revise what I had written before I left--immediately, of course. Having a free day was like a this really mean tease. It's like that first sunny, warm day in early spring. It stays around long enough to remind you of what you are missing, and then disappears again, making those gray, rainy days so much harder to bear. I am yearning for free time when my work schedule barely allows time to eat and pee.

Sigh.  It's a work teaser.  :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Utterly Overwhelmed

If you are currently unemployed and desperately searching for work, please DO NOT read this post. If you do, you will most likely end up shaking your head at me, and asking me if I want some cheese with my "whine". But, this is my blog and I can bitch if I want to (sung, of course, to "It's My Party and I Can Cry if I Want to.")

My brain is overflowing and I keep thinking I must have brain juice dribbling out of my ears. (Apologies if you are eating as you read this.) I am absolutely astonished at the rate of jobs coming in for me right now. In February, I was offered 26 new assignments, of which I accepted 24. In March,  I was offered 28 and accepted 26. In the first two days of April, I have been given 5 assignments and taken all of them. Since the beginning of the year, I have been hired by 4 new companies. In the last three months, I have had 11 training sessions. Each one a different system, a different project, a different topic. Keeping the details of each one separate is a killer.

Sure, I could say no more often. But I have a family of five here, and two of them are grown boys who like to eat. Nicole currently has two jobs, so is certainly taking care of most of her expenses, but Caspian is busy interning (learning but no pay), and Coryn is just now applying to jobs since he will be 17 soon. So, without any real stability, or health insurance, or regular paychecks, I say yes unless the pay is hideous or the topic is out of my element. I am very proud of the business I have created, but lord, I get tired by the end of each day.

A few statistics for you . . .
In February, I wrote 33 passages and 192 items. I also wrote two PowerPoint courses, and two entire books.
In March, I wrote 30 passages and 185 items. I also wrote two more entire books.

And you wonder why I keep lists?
So if you think I am frazzled, or behind on my letter writing, or hard to get in touch with, or never free to hang out on the weekends . . . . this is why.
I am just . . .. utterly overwhelmed.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stop the Quarters!

Sometimes my brain feels like the little silver ball bearing bouncing around inside a hyperactive pinball machine. I'm not sure whose hand it is that keeps pulling on the handle to send out another bearing, or who is having so much fun operating the flippers on the left and right sides of the game, but I wish they would get tired and take a vacation for a while.

Currently, I am bouncing back and forth between these ringing bells and flashing lights:
*new companies hiring me and training me on multiple projects
*ongoing due dates that never seem to diminish
*various and sundry sleep issues of my husband and I
*various health issues that are not serious but do make life too challenging sometimes
*the IRS, an organization I cannot begin to explain my deep feelings of loathing for
*helping Coryn plan for some possible international travel this summer
*helping Caspian figure out adventure plans
*helping Nicole navigate the dating world and finding a second job
*doing two to three times work per month than I have been paid for in months
*explaining to places I owe money to that I know I'm behind, but many of the companies I work with take 60 to 90 days to pay me . .. it's on its way, but it sure takes its time

So . . . please, I would deeply, deeply appreciate it person who has an endless supply of time and quarters, if you would take a nap, pick up a book, go out to lunch, or visit the coast . .. please? I need some down time.

Thanks from the ball bearing in Portland

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Author in Portland's Head Explodes, Film at 11

Want to know why I am occasionally frazzled?

I finished a 10,000 word book at 1 a.m. and slept til 7:30.
Since I got up four hours ago, this is what I have done:
* wrote a 800 word passage and submitted it
*researched for a second passage and started writing it
*was called and hired by a new company and reviewed the project
*received two emergency assignments from companies, one is due on Friday and the other one on Monday
*prepared for a training session at noon on a new project
*took time to pee twice :)
 And it isn't even noon yet . . . . . .

First Quarter Reading List

As the first quarter of the year comes to an end, I am astonished to see that I have read 15 books already. When I was a teenager, this number would have shocked me, since I typically read that many in a single month. However, as mom and wife and full time writer, my free time is pretty limited, and so, for the last four years, I have averaged about 39 books a year, or less than one a week. This year is a definite improvement. It has not been because my workload is less, but because, thanks to Joseph's incessant pushing, I take an hour out each evening to sit in bed and read with him. It's peaceful . . just us, classical music on the radio and books.

Here is a list of what I have read so far. I would rate all of them A's and B's except one, which I will note for you. Wanna know my thoughts on any of these titles? Leave me a message!

Prepare to Die!/Tobin (favorite one of the year so far--read it!)
Niceville/Stroud (odd, but fascinating)
The 37th Hour/Compton (predictable mystery)
Desert Places/Crouch (creepy as always)
Warm Bodies/Marion (fun take on zombies and eager to see the movie now)
The 13th Hour/Doetsch (really great way to approach a thriller--in opposite order)
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie/Bradley (adorable main character)
Eyes Wide Open/Dekker (although I'm atheist and he's a Christian writer, I've always enjoyed his novels. Not anymore. The last two I read were awful, and this one was just . . . . confusing, boring, and pointless.)
Rook/O'Malley (darn fine read--like a Secret Service for supernatural characters)
The Borrower/Makkai (implausible to the point of losing interest eventually)
Brain on Fire/Cahalan (fascinating autobiography of going crazy and getting better)
Ferocity/Knight (Jaws with a musky fish . . cliche but just so much fun)
The Wild Thing/Eggers (novel version of Sendak's classic)
The Con Job/Frobeck (novel version of the Leverage TV show; predictable, but love the characters, so I didn't mind too much)

What have you read lately that you think I should add to my list?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Insomnia . . Yuck!

This afternoon, I was falling asleep at my desk, barely able to keep eyes open. Joseph was struggling as well, so we curled up on the couch together and took a very delicious nap together. Almost 90 minutes snuggled up under a blanket. Lovely.

The problem, however, is that when I crawled into bed tonight, I was ridiculously wide awake. After lying there for more than an hour, I got up and am back downstairs, trying to decide what to do until I get sleepy. If I work, my brain speeds up too much and I end up just more awake than I was! I think I will end up reading on the couch and waiting for those eyelids to get heavy.

Why can't I be THIS wide awake in the middle of the afternoon? I need someone to reset my circadian clock or something. Last night I fell asleep at 11, trying to read. Tonight it is almost 2 a.m. and wide awake. Last night, Joseph woke up at 4 a.m. and came back to bed at 5. Each time he gets up, I wake up. I know some couples get separate beds as they get older, and I cannot imagine that. One of my very favorite moments of the day is crawling into bed with him at night in the darkness. We snuggle and talk and connect and drift off to sleep. Sure, our sleeping issues might mean we impact the other's sleep, but that sacrifice is well worth the time spent together in the darkness. Sleeping alone? Couldn't imagine it. YUCK. Give me skin--I'll sacrifice some sleep for it.

Back to counting sheep.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Side note . . . . .

When you click on my blog to read it, does the screen shake up and down? It does for me and I don't know why. The page where I write the post is fine, as are all other sites on the net, but the actual blog shakes on my computer, as well as my kids' laptops. Does it when you read it? Does anyone know how to fix it?



Not a lot to report on, hence the lack of posts. I spend so much of my day writing that sometimes, even though I know I should post and I want to post, the idea of typing more words on this big white screen is more than I muster up the energy to do. Yes, that is today's excuse for not posting daily like many do (and you know who you are, Amimental.)

The gout is not gone, but it is better. I find that if I get really tired and stressed, it tends to flare back up. I'm trying to get some really good sleep in each night so that doesn't happen. Yesterday I was sleeping wonderfully when I got a charlie horse in the GOOD leg. Watching me limp on both legs was amusing, I'm sure, although it did not FEEL amusing.

Work is keeping me hustling as usual. I am currently being considered for hire by three companies, and since my work load is already pretty intense, it could get interesting. Nice to be in demand, especially when I know people who are scrambling for work. If I could shove off some my overflow to them, I would. Topics fly left and right and today, yes, just TODAY, I will be writing about GPS systems, renaissance festivals, a new colony of emperor penguins, South American folktales, pharmaceutical careers, and astronomy. Fighting any chance of Alzheimer's left and right, baby.

Last night Nicole and I got to see my all time favorite author in person. Jodi Picoult was in town for a reading and I was thrilled to finally see her face to face. She is an incredible writer and does a fabulous presentation. Confident and interesting and funny. I had her sign my book and had her picture taken and tried and tried to come up with something to say that wasn't like what the other 200 people in line were saying. What I finally came up with was, "Thank you for writing books that make readers better people. You make us walk in other people's shoes to understand them and that makes us less judgmental." I think she liked that. Of course, I have been on the other side of the book signing table (although never with 200 people in line waiting. I think I might have hit 25 a couple of times.) and I know how you are often so tired that you sometimes completely miss what people say, and just keep smiling and signing.

Not much else new to report. Kids are busy. Nicole is flirting online, Caspian is searching for volunteer positions, and Coryn has applied to three international jobs that would take him far, far away for the summer. They keep me busy and oh, how they make me laugh. Nuthin' but joy, those kids. They make the stress fade away, and replenish me with glasses of ice water, hot heat backs, occasional back rubs, and frequent hugs. I'm a lucky one.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Time Keeps on Slippin', Slippin', Slippin' into the Future

(Apologies to the Steve Miller Band for the use of their lyric.)
Have you ever looked around your house and realized how fast time is passing and how quickly your children are growing, developing, and changing? That has been happening to me lately. My kids are growing up and moving in such interesting directions.

Nicole's traveling days seem to have come to a halt for now and she is in the midst of flirting online with some young men she met through a dating site. She shows me profiles and messages (which range from eloquent and articulate to pitiful and vulgar) and we groan at the one liners that took no effort whatsoever to compose and devour the long, detailed messages that show personality and intelligence.

Coryn applied this week to two jobs . . not just typical jobs, of course. One is for a travel assistant to a couple with two children who go all throughout the world. The other is to help in an alternative school in Germany. No flippin' burgers for this kid, no . . .. off to see the world. Amazing how I help him search for these opportunities, help him fill out papers, and then all I can think is how much I will miss him if he gets either one.

Caspian. . . my sweet boy who struggles to find his place and direction . . . is currently exploring different yoga workouts and has, once again, quit playing World of Warcraft, recognizing it is not always the best choice for him. What I'd really like to do is find him a great girlfriend. He is such an amazing young man and he would do as much good for the right girl as she would do for him.

So, there they are, changin' like crazy. Me? I just sit here and keep writing and wishing my gout would disappear (it's better, just takin' its darn time!) and marveling at the creatures Joseph and I created and how they make the world a much better place.

Time keeps on slippin . . . .

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pardon this brief vent . . . .

In the month of February, I wrote almost $10,000 worth of material, from items to passages, to books, to lessons to whatever.

In the month of February, I was paid 40% of that figure.

It is hard to stay motivated sometimes. Yes, I know . . . it WILL get here. Eventually. Could you please put that in writing to the bank and the utility companies and the IRS? Think they will go for it?

I think not.

Sorry. Lettin' off some steam.
Now pardon me while I take my nose back to the grindstone.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

On the Downhill Slide

Well, to my vast life experience, I can now add gout.

I would have preferred to have missed this one, actually. To say it is painful is quite the understatement. I am on day 5 and I am just now able to put my whole foot on the floor again. I am keeping it elevated and iced and if someone bumps it, I still cry, but it is better. I am thinking by Monday, it will be gone.

If you've experienced a decent amount of pain in your life, you know that there are different qualities to them. Some are deep and achey, some sharp and needle like . . .etc. I have also found I react differently to them. With gout, I cry. It is an emotional pain. When the dog stepped on my foot and everyone was sorry but chuckling at my swearing, I went in the bathroom and cried. I put my head down on my keyboard and cry. I sneak into another room and cry. One of my kids hugs me and I cry. This is NOT like me. I rarely cry with pain. Swear? YES. Cry? No. Gout is an entirely different story.

But let me tell you the silver lining of this story. My family. Wow. They have helped me walk, and get up and down the stairs. They have brought me food and water and medication. They have warmed up heat packs for my back and grabbed the ice pack for my foot. They have listened to me whine and hugged me when I cried and put up my rampaging emotions. Nicole is virtually telepathic and can sense what I need before I open my mouth. Caspian's strong arms have acted as my crutches multiple times. Coryn's amazing hugs encourage me even as he is making me laugh. Joseph, poor man, has been at my side throughout it all (only bumping my foot a few times in the process.)

I may be cursing this damn gout, but I am feeling blessed by the family sharing it with me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Perchance to Dream

I've not been having my best week. Gout is making life incredibly painful. I was considering going to the doctor, and then, this morning, we got up to find someone broke into our van during the night and, OF ALL THINGS, stole the remote to our malfunctioning car alarm. This means we cannot start the car because the alarm will go off. Sigh. That was a complication we didn't need in our lives.

Last night, in the hopes of getting an entire night's sleep without waking to cry because my foot was soaking in broken glass and molten lava, I took some medication so I would really, really, really sleep well and it worked great. I slept the night through for the first time since this started.

However, a good portion of my sleep was spent in a long, complex, detailed dream. And really, it was a painful experience. Not about my foot. Not a nightmare. No, this one started with my visiting my parents. We laughed and talked and had fun and it was so wonderful because I miss them so damn much. And then, because that wasn't enough emotional turmoil for one night apparently, in the dream my Mom called Jasmine and we were all invited over there. (I love how thousands of miles disappears in dreams. My parents, in the dream were in Florida. LONG way to Oregon.) We did, and we had the best time. Everyone was happy. Everyone got along. We were just a family enjoying each other. In this dream, I got to hug my parents and my oldest daughter, something I haven't done in years and years. I can still feel them in my arms.

Nope, not my best week.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I am Humbled

Bursitis. Gout. Old people's health problems.
Apparently, I am an old person.
Honestly, I didn't have a CLUE what gout was. I had heard it and thought it had something to do with a growth on the thyroid. Yeah, that's GOITER, Tami. Obviously, I need to expand the list of topics I cover. :)
So . . . I have gout in my right foot. And let me tell you, it's humbling. It's humbling like a kidney stone. My best description of the experience is that it feels like a nail has been driven through your foot and then set on fire. Occasionally, someone adds some acid to drip on it. Wouldn't want those flames to fizzle out, right? I mean . . . wow, does this hurt.
This morning, I was gearing up to swing that foot out of bed and face walking on it down stairs when I got a charlie horse in the OTHER leg. Now really, was that fair? Did I honestly do something to deserve that? I sure wouldn't think I ticked off the Karma Fairy that much, but I have my doubts.
Anyway, I'm increasing water uptake, taking vitamin C, searching for some cherry juice, and trying not to be a wimp. I'm trying to keep meeting deadlines and getting assignments done in time for Monday morning, but it isn't easy when you are really thinking how grand it would be to chop off your foot instead. I am pretty sure amputation would hurt less.
Sheesh, when I did I get this old?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Jackie of all Topics!

Ok, but Jack of all Trades didn't sound right . . .

Last night on the radio, John Tesh, dispenser of wisdom for all ages, said that one of the keys to the prevention of Alzheimer's was actively using your brain to read and learn new ideas and subjects. I have decided that if this is true, I am impervious to Alzheimer's. Here is why.

For your intense viewing pleasure, I would like to share with you the topics I have written about in the last 21 days. The least I wrote was 150 words (a few poems) and the most 8,500 (a book). This is why Tami's head wants to explode sometimes.

How we remember (ironic, eh?)
Farmer's markets
K2 mountain
American government
World history/spread of Islam
Hurricane Katrina
Ben Carson
Building an anemometer
Medical and non-medical dialogues
Folk tales
Tall Tales
Workplace Diversity
Olympic gold medalists
How to find something you lost
Coral reefs
Nocturnal animals
Back to school night
Aristotle's ethos, pathos, and logos
Jacques Cousteau
Paavo Nurmi
Basic bicycle care
The Spanish inquisition
R2 Robonaut
Zion national park
Natural resources
Marketing and Sales

In three weeks.
Now if I could retain it all, I could go on "Jeopardy", win millions, retire and only write about what I wanted to.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Watched this Video . . .

Facebook . .. ah, Facebook . . . I resisted you for ages, and then succumbed to your lure. And yes, I admit it . . I love it. It makes me laugh, keeps me up to date, connects me with friends new and old, and just gives me something interesting to read when I am taking a break between projects.

Today I saw a video linked there ( and I was intrigued, so I watched it. Ended up in tears. Made my kids watch it. Cried every time through. It touches a deep chord in me. I was bullied pretty badly when I was in elementary school. Typical stuff, but it hurt and it is a wound that has scarred over, but hasn't really healed. I know it affects who I am today and it was certainly integral to my choosing to homeschool our kids. There is a part in there about a young girl who grows up to be a loved mom, and it breaks me down every time.

I cannot fathom watching this with kids in school. I know many of these kids do fine and thrive in school, but so many are wounded. I sure was. I was beat up, called names, and made fun of daily. It didn't end until I was in junior high. I remember being absolutely terrified to walk out on the playground during recess. I remember begging not to go to school. I don't hold any grudge against my parents for not letting me stay home. They didn't know there were any alternatives. They loved me dearly and did all they could to counteract what my peers were doing to me. I'm grateful for that.

But watching this certainly touched me, and all I can do is reach out to my children with incredible gratitude that while they will (and HAVE) encountered unkindness, bullying, and extremely unpleasant people, they are young adults equipped to handle it, not tiny little people with vulnerable souls.  We grow up, we know, as the video says, "THEY WERE WRONG!" but . . . . we are scarred.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Oh . . . and also . . .

(Yes, I am on a venting kick here. Bear with me.)

On top of please writing this material for FREE, these same companies will not tell you how much the project will pay IF/WHEN you get hired.

That's right.

You can submit a resume, do an interview, write a sample and THEN, when they decide to hire you, discover that their pay rate is far below what you usually get, so you end up turning them down.

Remind me again why I am in this field.

Oh yea. No panty hose, my own hours, home with the family, and my office is in the living room. Now I remember.

Can You Imagine . . . .

Can you imagine . . .

  • being a carpenter and being interviewed to do a whole house remodel . . . .the client says, Hey, do my bathroom FOR FREE and if I like it, I will hire you to remodel the rest. 
  • being a photographer and being interviewed for a wedding . . . the client says, Hey, take pictures of my cousin's bar mitzvah FOR FREE and if I like them I will hire you for the wedding.
  • being a doctor and doing a history on a new patient. . . .the patient says, Hey, repair my hernia FOR FREE and if you do a great job, I will let you take out my gallbladder.
No? None of these sound plausible? Well, if you're a freelance writer, you had better get used to it. 

Oh yes, we are considering you for this job. Your resume is extensive. Your interview was flawless. BUT. BUT . . . we want you to write a sample for us. It will take you HOURS. You will spend the best part of a day working on it BUT . . . .you are also going to do it FOR FREE. Yes, and IF we like it, we will hire you. Will we pay for the sample? Heck, no. That is just hours you have to donate to prove you're worthy. 

I understand that companies have to hire carefully and they have a LOT of applicants to weed through, I really do. But for me to make time to do your sample, I have to push aside paying clients and that seems a bit foolish. If you would offer to pay for the sample, even if you want to base it on payment only if I am hired for the job, that would be really professional. 

Unless, of course, you know a carpenter that would be willing to come and do part of my remodel for free. Then, we can talk. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

If I could . . . .

If I could say anything to the editors and companies I work for . . .it would be this . . . .

When you tell me that:

  • you have misplaced my invoice
  • you need my invoice on a different form
  • your accounting person is on vacation or maternity leave
  • you are changing accounting systems
  • your payment system had a glitch
  • you can't find my W-9 form and need another one
  • you overlooked my original invoice, so please resend
  • your process just changed from 30 days to 45 or 90 days
This is what happens on my end because YOU are the only money I get. If it isn't in the mailbox, I don't have any income. I have no regular "payday. So when you don't send the check when I am expecting you to: 
  • We don't go out for coffee
  • We don't fill up the gas tank
  • We don't pay our bills on time
  • We start buying groceries at the Dollar Tree
  • We skip meals
  • We fall behind on utilities
  • We empty our coin jars
  • We empty our savings accounts
So, please, PLEASE, try to pay your writers on time. You have no idea what a domino effect it can have when you send an email letting us know the check we expected three days ago has been delayed a week, two weeks, a month--or more. It isn't fun, it isn't easy, and it makes my work that much harder. 

Thus end today's public service announcement. 

A Sacred Hour

I am not one for making serious new year's resolutions. Of course, each year, all of us take turns saying our top three--it has become a tradition. One of mine, due to a generous dose of HN (husband nagging) was to establish more regular sleeping hours. Mine were admittedly erratic. I often did not get into bed until 1 or 2 a.m., commonly working until I got up to get in bed--not terrific for easy sleeping. My head would still be completely caught up in the project I was working on, and I would be there for more than 30-45 minutes before finally going to sleep.

So, we started a new habit. Right around 10 p.m. I get off the computer, say goodnight to the kids, and go upstairs. Then, Joseph and I turn on classical music (another change for me), and putting our pillows just right, we get in bed and we read for an hour. Doesn't sound like much, I know, but it has really altered the day for me.

I love this quiet time with Joseph. The kids are downstairs watching another episode of "Dr. Who" or something along those lines. J and I cuddle (a lot--I usually have both legs thrown over him) and we read. I read for FUN. Nothing for work. (A side effect is that in only the first 6 weeks of the year, I have read nine books!) We read fun lines out loud. Share a quote we like. Laugh. Share an apple.

I LOVE this hour. I slow down my brain. I feed it fun material. I get warm and cozy in bed with my favorite husband. At 11, the lights go out, the radio goes off, and we cuddle closer in the darkness, under warm quilts. I turn on my CD player (with tinnitus, a quiet room will drive me nuts) and drift off with J spooning behind me. the music under my pillow, and peace in my mind and heart. What a wonderful way to end the day, right?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Reading the Comics

Do you read the newspaper's comics? We have for years, following certain ones closely that seemed to reflect our lives. It used to be "Baby Blues", then "Foxtrot" and "Zits". Lately "Pickles" covers some very familiar topics. :)

Reading comics in the Orr house is a bit of a tradition. I was reminded of that this morning as Nicole, Joseph and I were reading them in a coffee shop. We separate the comics into single pages (two on weekdays, and three on Sundays when they're in color) and hand one to each person. Then THIS happens . . . . .we read, we snicker, chuckle, and smile . . . then we look up and say "Luann" or "Stone Soup" or whatever name of the comic we just read and appreciated. That is code for "pay special attention to this one because it's extra great today". Then, occasionally, we will read a comic either so funny, so poignant, or so true for us that we will stop the other ones reading and make them read that comic right now.

I love the process. I love how we share and hand back and forth and make comments. Many times, the cartoons will spark memories, thoughts, ideas, and conversations. Now and then it will remind me of when Jasmine was very small and Joseph would pull her up on his lap and, since it was before she could read, he would read each one to her, panel by panel, making different voices for each character. It made her laugh. It was something the two of them shared and it is a sweet memory.

I cut out comics I like best. I send them to friends or put them on the fridge with magnets. I have a few I have had for more than 15 years.  One of my all time favorites was reposted today and I am including it here for your enjoyment. Hope it makes you smile as much as it did when we read it in the coffee shop this morning!
January 27th 2013 - Baby Blues,Rick Kirkman

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Creating Family Memories

When I was a little girl, oh heck, until I was off to college, my parents would take me on our annual "fall drive". We would get in the car, me in the back seat with books and a pillow, and head out of the city to the country roads. We would drive in search of finding a pumpkin farm to get a pumpkin to carve for Halloween, plus some tasty hot chocolate to sip, and we would each keep our eyes darting about to point out the most beautiful leaves on a tree . . . well, until the next one. We would exclaim at the colors and wonder why the trees dropped their traditional green garb in autumn to dress up in oranges, reds, browns, and golds. As a young child, I remember thinking they were dressing up for the upcoming holidays. (I still like that idea better than the scientific chlorophyll explanation.)

Reflecting back on that memory and how strongly it stays in my heart, I wonder what family memories we are creating for our children, and which ones they will most likely remember. Some they will be far too young to recall. When Jasmine was a baby, she would always fall asleep during car rides. On nights when she was just so wide awake at bedtime, we would get in the car and drive back roads for 30 minutes until she fell asleep. Then we would carry her like a fragile egg into the house to make sure she stayed asleep tucked under the covers between us. Those drives in the darkness were precious. Joseph and I had long talks and we sang to Jasmine and I nursed her (yeah, I know . . car seats . . . but now and then . .. ) and it was like we were in this cocoon of darkness with our headlights just showing what was a few feet in front of us. I know she can't remember those days since she was so tiny, but we do. I hope she does remember trips to Camp Singing Hills and countless days of ushering, and movie quotes on the computer screen and staying up late to watch movies.

I think that Nicole, Caspian and Coryn will remember many of the events from our life in Oregon. They will remember midnight runs to VooDoo Donuts. They will remember countless trips to the ocean/coast. They will remember Saturday nights on the couch watching some ridiculously stupid, cheesy scifi movie.They will remember sitting at tables in bookstores with piles of books, and passing them around to share and picking out something to take home.

What I want all of them to remember, more than anything, is that we are a family and that we loved every one of our wonderful children. We weren't infallible (lord, the mistakes we made over the years!), and sometimes our intentions were good but our follow through was flawed. Sometimes we were tired or broke or sick or sad . . . . and that impacted our ability to be mom and dad. But overall, without reservation, we have loved our four kids with every ounce of love we had, and did the best we possibly could.

And when they are grown ups, and we are gone, I desperately hope they will look back and smile. I hope they will realize that family memories are more precious than anything else and that they will, in turn, create precious memories with their own.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy New Year/Happy Birthday

Ah, I have been remiss in keeping up--apologies. I could blame it on work, which is partially true, but I have also been battling the dreaded LAZINESS plague. I get up in the morning and want little more than to spend the day on the couch reading, writing letters, watching movies and talking to my wonderful little family.
Alas, I have not found a way for that to earn money to pay bills, so I spend most of it in front of the computer instead. Work Karma has been good to me--I have been hired for a half dozen new jobs just in the first two weeks of the year. I am grateful. Tired, but grateful. :)

In addition to it being a New Year, today is also Joseph's 61st birthday. We are spending it the way he wants--a homemade breakfast with everyone at the table, then a few stops at thrift stores, perhaps a car parts store or two, and, if there's still time leftover, a peaceful layover at a bookstore. We sang to him at midnight and I gave him his traditional, very personal, no way Hallmark could ever compete with this card. We came downstairs to find post-it notes in every room saying, "Happy Birthday" from the kids. Tonight we will all gather in the living room to watch a cheesy monster movie or something along those lines. I also plan to call Joseph's mom and thank her for bringing such an amazing person onto the planet.

Tomorrow a few of the VW guys are heading over to the house to help Joseph rebuild an engine. I will be in the house researching for my next book and bringing out cold beers and hot pizza when the men are ready. Through every minute of this, I will be smiling, and basking in gratitude that I have this life, this man, and this family.