In Which I Fake Being an Artist

Some people have a specific creative ability that they nurture until they become really good at it. I, on the other hand, have this massive volcano of creativity inside me and it comes out in every direction, which means I love almost every creative activity but rarely master one. I want to do all the things.

Today for instance, I participated in three unrelated creative activities. The first one was a watercolor class that was offered for free at my new favorite bookstore. I talked Lucy into going with me, and we drove over there in the pouring rain with our bag full of art supplies. I had a feeling that Lucy would be the most accomplished artist there, and I’d say that was accurate.

However, it was fun just to do something completely different. The instructor was very kind and enthusiastic. We did a kind of abstract painting and then attempted a sunset. The lady beside me was just observing and didn’t paint anything. She took it on herself to be my self-appointed cheerleader. My finished sunset ended up looking like someone had spilled used motor oil onto a rather insipid attempt at a sunset, and then splattered it with some watery oatmeal. My one-person fan club still liked it—or at least said she did!

Lucy’s painting was the prettiest, in my totally unbiased opinion:

2-27-18 Lucy's watercolor

The room was crowded and Lucy and I had to paint on our laps, but it was still enjoyable and it made me want to paint some more. The teacher said she’d keep the room set up for painting and we can go there and paint any time. I’m thinking maybe I will. And this weekend I’m taking another painting class there too.

After returning home, I picked up my sadly-neglected autoharp and enjoyed playing it for nearly an hour. Now that I don’t have to play in church every week, it takes more discipline to make myself practice. I don’t know why, since I really enjoy playing! I will need to put in a lot of practice time if I really want to improve my playing.

And finally, this evening was my critique group meeting followed by our regular monthly writers’ meeting, at which I’d been asked to speak on writing nonfiction. It was a very small group tonight, but I don’t mind. I just love that I get to hang out with other writers once a month.

After I returned home, Spencer drove up in his new car, a 2016 Ford Fiesta. Of course we all had to go out and admire it. I hope it runs well and lasts much longer than his last car did!

And to cap off my day, I got to read a glowing review of one of my short stories that another writer linked to online. It’s such a relief to know you’ve got at least one satisfied reader!

We See the Sun at Last

Today I was dressed and out of the house relatively early (for me) to go visit a friend in the hospital. He had a heart attack on Saturday night, had some stents installed, and is already looking pretty chipper. Well, as chipper as you can look while lying in a hospital bed and wearing one of those hideous gowns!

I took a thermos of spiced chai to share with him and his wife, and then felt very guilty about it when I learned that he too is diabetic. I would never knowingly offer a sweetened beverage to a fellow diabetic!

Jasper woke up sick with a cold yesterday, and still felt rotten this morning, so we did very little school. The downside is that means he’ll have to work extra hard for the next couple of days to get caught up before our class on Thursday. I hope by tomorrow he is much more functional.

It was a glorious sunny day and for the first time in quite a while I actually wanted to run errands. In addition to my trip to the hospital, I went to Walmart and the hobby store. Later I took Spencer to his favorite coffee shop. Spencer, by the way, spent his afternoon car shopping and found a car he likes that he can also afford. Now he is trying to get all the paperwork done. Buying his own car is his first big step toward his goal of moving out.

My Diabetes Miracle #10: Good News, Bad News

Usually the doctor’s office calls me with my lab results within a day or two, but this time they did not, so I had to call and request them. So first, the good news: my A1C has gone down a couple of points, to 5.4. If you’re not diabetic yourself, you may not realize how miraculous this is. That number is firmly in the “normal” range for blood sugar—and I’ve been off insulin for a year now. Normally, diabetics are told to aim for an A1C of 7.0, which is not optimal.

So my A1C score is definitely something worth celebrating. In fact my doctor was pretty thrilled with me this time. When I complained about how slow my progress is now, she gave me a pep talk: “But just look how far you’ve come! You took charge of your own health and you’ve had amazing results! You should be so proud of yourself!”

My blood pressure was also fantastic and my thyroid is working just fine—thank goodness.

Which brings us to the bad news. My cholesterol and triglyceride levels are still high. I have been researching like crazy this afternoon, trying to figure out why, and what I can do to get those numbers down. Normally, a ketogenic diet results in excellent cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

I will have to do more research before reaching any conclusions, but the one thing I found was that sometimes, significant weight loss will temporarily cause those levels to rise. So perhaps by my next appointment in August my levels will be better on their own, but I still want to see what I can do to help lower them without having to give up my low-carb diet which has otherwise been so effective for me.

 

The Old Rugged Cross

The Old Rugged Cross

George Bennard

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

Refrain

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

Refrain

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

Refrain

 

A Rainy Birthday

I, uh, wrote this last night and then forgot to post it.

Today was my husband’s sixtieth birthday, but we are saving his official celebration dinner for tomorrow, when we have college students here to help us celebrate—including Lucy, who’s been gone all day at her rugby tournament.

So it was a quiet day staying in because of the continued rain. I did make a quick run to Walmart for a couple of items, but that was it. I worked on clearing my desk (still not done) and scanned some old photos I found.

Lina was able to have a birthday video chat with her dad, and Flynn called this evening. Meanwhile, I called my own dad to see how he is doing after surgery. Instead of going to rehab as expected, he was sent home, so that changes their plans somewhat. But the surgery went well and for the next week or so he has no choice but to rest.

Lucy arrived home late and sunburned. She had fun playing, even though her team didn’t do well at the tournament.

 

Intercontinental Movie Date

Of course we had school today, and of course I went grocery shopping at Aldi, where nothing interesting at all happened.

This afternoon Jasper and I watched a movie with Lina, who was watching in Zambia. It was a nice little break and I got quite a bit of knitting done.

Lucy left for her rugby tournament.

Spencer was forced to spend the evening at home because the Suburban isn’t running at the moment.

Jasper played outside all evening because the rain actually stopped for a few hours.

Walter and I watched a lot of Olympic curling. The competitors were very vocal!

Class Day

First of all, my dad’s surgery seems to have gone well. I am hoping to get a chance to talk to him tomorrow, but didn’t want to bother him this evening. I remember only too well what it feels like to be a few hours out from surgery.

Jasper and I were very busy doing homework and preparing for class this morning. It’s been another gloomy day, with rain on and off.

After class, Jasper and I went to Walmart so I could buy medicine for Lucy and he could buy a pair of jeans. Lucy seems to have caught my cold and has been sick all week, and she is very anxious to be well enough to play a rugby tournament this weekend.

We finished off the day by watching more Olympics. It has been fun to have this option for the first time in many years!

 

Friends in Need Are Friends Indeed

I don’t believe I mentioned that my personal primary motivation for going to Tyler on Monday was to pick up a couple of iron lantern stands for Mercy’s wedding. I had been keeping an eye on the website and waiting for them to go on sale, and they finally did, so after dropping Spencer off on Monday we drove down to World Market to buy the stands.

The buying part went off without a hitch, but the putting-them-in-the-trunk-of-the-car part went quite badly. They simply were too long and no matter what way I tried to fit them in, they didn’t! And since we had four people in the car, there was no point in even trying to force them into the back seat either. I had to take them back into the store and have the cashier put them on hold for me until I could return with a larger vehicle.

The only problem was, our larger vehicles are not running very well right now. Spencer did not think the Suburban could even make it to Tyler. The van is Walter’s work vehicle and he is carefully babying it along, but I didn’t feel confident driving it 45 miles on my own. Then I remembered my friend Robin has a minivan. I begged her to take me to pick up my purchases, and she said yes, and the time that worked best for her was this morning.

I got Jasper going on his schoolwork and then Robin arrived and we set off in the pouring rain. So. Much. Rain. We finally made it to the store and I dashed in through the deluge, grabbed the stands, and dashed back to the minivan, where they fit very nicely.

Having done what we came to do, we drove to the other side of the parking lot and treated ourselves to Thai food for lunch. Then the siren call of Half Price Books became impossible to resist, and we didn’t really try very hard to resist it. Even though I was only there on Monday, I still found a couple of things I couldn’t live without. Half Price Books is one of Robin’s favorite places, so while she continued browsing, I went next door to JoAnn’s to check out a few things. I don’t dare stay too long in Half Price Books, because the longer I stay, the more I find.

Somewhat to my relief, I got out of JoAnn’s with only a knitting magazine that has some patterns I might actually make.

We finally were ready to head back to our own town, but Robin wanted a cup of coffee, so we stopped at a Dairy Queen and she ordered a small cup of coffee at the drive-through, and you know what it cost? Five cents. Yes, I said . I didn’t know there was still such a thing as a five-cent cup of coffee. Almost makes me wish I drank coffee!

We drove home through the pouring rain and saw that many fields and streams had already flooded. It is supposed to continue raining for another couple of days, with more rain due next week! I am so thankful to have a friend who came to my rescue and drove all those miles in the rain for me.

The rest of the day has been full of school and getting ready for tomorrow’s class, while listening to the rain continuing to fall.

My dad is having shoulder replacement surgery tomorrow, and I would appreciate your prayers for him.

Ready or Not . . .

Here it comes! Spring, I mean. It has been very warm and muggy lately. There is a cold front on its way and I am anxious for it to get here. I am not ready for spring. Our camellia is now blooming at last:

2-20-18 camellia

And the little hyacinth I bought in a vase at Aldi last year has started blooming also:

 2-20-18 hyacinth

I had an enjoyable visit from a friend this afternoon and spent quite a bit of time on schoolwork.

My Diabetes Miracle #9: The Gift of Diabetes

Recently, I watched a video by a doctor who works with diabetics all the time (for a jaw-dropping fee) and helps them “reverse” their diabetes and get off their medications. He said that people who are successful at the very challenging task of dealing with their diabetes and losing weight share three key traits.

Obviously, I wondered if I have these all-important traits, which is why I was watching in the first place. The first trait is that you have to be desperate. You have to have reached the point where you think, “Enough is enough. I can’t live like this anymore.” I reached that point a year ago, on February 6, 2017, when my doctor said, “Your pancreas is wearing out.” I was so done with following the mainstream advice and seeing myself get worse and worse. Many of my diabetic friends and acquaintances have not reached this level of desperation yet, and I have made no effort to “convert” them to my plan of action. You have to be desperate to be willing to attempt it!

The second crucial trait, according to this doctor, is that you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get better. I would actually add to that. A year ago I made a solid commitment not only to do whatever it takes, but to keep doing it for the rest of my life. One of the ground rules I set for myself was that I would not take any sort of “temporary” measures to deal with my health issues. Anything I did, I had to be willing to do for the rest of my life. Had I known what I was really getting into, I might have been daunted, but the decision had already been made.

The third essential trait was simply a willingness to fight for your own health, and to keep fighting no matter what happens. I have been fighting hard for a year now, and I don’t see things getting easier anytime soon.

Today was a case in point. Since it was a holiday, the kids wanted to do something, and we all ended up driving to a nearby town, where I dropped Spencer off to play tennis with his buddy Britton. I took Lucy and Jasper out to eat, and had to sit there with my cup of water and watch them eat food that I would have dearly loved to have, but today was a fast day so I had to be strong. Later, I got them some frozen yogurt for dessert and again had to watch them eat while my own stomach rumbled.

Hardest of all was when we picked up Spencer, and he was ravenous, so we went through a drive-through and then he sat beside me eating ice cream and very fragrant French fries while I tried to focus on driving! Do you have any idea how much I miss French fries? But I can’t have a single French fry any more than a recovering alcoholic can have a sip of wine for communion. (And lest you think that I shouldn’t have let my kids eat in front of me—well, why should they be punished because of my life choices?)

But my point is, I committed to doing whatever it takes, even if it means having to watch other people eat food I can’t ever have again, and even if I’m really hungry, because part of what it takes for me is regular fasting. On days like today, I have to give myself some little pep talks. First of all, no matter how tempted I may be to eat French fries or frozen yogurt, no food in the world is worth going back on insulin for. That makes it a little easier to resist temptation. I don’t ever want to buy another vial of insulin or have to inject myself again.

Then comes the realization of how fortunate I am. I am not helpless in the face of my disease. I know what to do, and I’m doing it. So many people like me are stuck watching their health decline, and they’ve been told it’s inevitable, and they don’t even know they could do something about it. I am so thankful I figured this out before I got any worse!

Which brings me to an interesting point. After a year of strenuous effort, I have reached the point where I can honestly say I am thankful for my diabetes. I’m thankful to have it, and I’m thankful I found out about it instead of just dying of a heart attack. Here are some of the reasons why:

—I have been SO motivated to beat this that I’ve figured out what it really takes for me personally to get healthier.

—I have had the resolve to eschew all refined carbohydrates, which aren’t good for anyone, but especially not for me.

—Thanks to what I’ve learned and put into practice, I should be able to stave off heart disease, dementia, and cancer for many years to come.

—I have lost 75 pounds and I think I finally know how to keep from “finding” them again, which is what has happened every other time, no matter how faithfully I stuck to a diet.

—I have learned that I need very little food to sustain myself, and that frequent fasting is a very powerful secret weapon, because it helps me lower my (natural) insulin levels.

—I have learned that food is really not all that important. Holidays and other celebrations are about being with people I love, not about stuffing myself with carbs until I can barely waddle from the table to my armchair afterward. I never have that “painfully full” feeling anymore, and I sure don’t miss it.

Tomorrow, I go to the doctor for my six-month checkup. I don’t know if my test results will meet my hopes and expectations, but whatever happens, I know I am so much healthier than I was a year ago, and if anything, more determined than ever to keep working toward even better health.