Category Archives: chronic illness

Nano killed me this year

I have officially given up on Nano for the first time in years. I had a good streak, 4 straight years, but this year it was not working. It was closer to pulling teeth from a live, awake and pissed off bobcat, than writing.

It didn’t help that we had a long, warm Fall which encouraged mold growth up the wazoo. Usually we have had several days of hard freeze by now, which kills off the mold. Mold of pretty much any kind, but especially cellulose mold, gives me migraines. Bold, visual, pounding, nauseating migraines. Guess what the moldy leaves and grass are made of?

Staring at a computer screen trying to force out a set number of words didn’t help either.

Neither did the pressure of a deadline, trying to get 2 books up on every imaginable platform, a sinus infection thing that may be mold related since I’ve had it for a month (same length of time as the migraine, more or less)

Now, I can hear a few fellow migrainers questioning the month long migraine and my still being able to function at all. And in most cases, you would be right. But I’ve been living on antihistamines, migraine meds, tylenol, etc. And I’ve had them for 42 years. (OMG does that make me sound old!) I started them the year before puberty hit. (That’s a bit better)

And since I have always been allergic to mold and cigarette smoke, although undiagnosed until 2003, I am accustomed to being able to function. Not brilliantly, witness my 500 word days on Nano, but enough to eat, dress, wash dishes, go to my Dr for more meds…

I end up with a “migrainey”. Flashy lights, but no real hallucinations, some light sensitivity, but not crippling. (except making coffee before 9am because the sun bounces off our neighbour’s barn’s tin roof right into my kitchen by the… you guessed, coffeepot.)

Other things are difficulty focusing; both eyes and attention, slight nausea so I munch salty things constantly, short temper and other migrainey things, just in smaller amounts.

But don’t worry about A Ring of Earth. I will still write it, just without that kind of pressure. I have someone who wants the complete, perfect manuscript next fall. So… deadline, but reasonable. Hopefully, it will be the first in a series of five books. I’m hoping to pitch it to an agent and/or publisher next year.

To celebrate my freedom to be migrainey, I will be posting a free coupon code in a few days for last year’s Nano winner, Alone in the Night. It’s a gritty, realistic look at teens from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds fighting to survive in the worst neighbourhood in Ottawa. There are elements of sexual/ physical abuse, drugs, homelessness, and street gangs. Recommended for 14+ years

If you have not read the first in the series, A Test of Loyalty, comment and I can send you a coupon for that, too.  My goal is to get 25+ reviews up on Amazon so they’ll put me on the “People who looked at this book, also looked at this one” list.

So, see you in a few days with the codes!

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A writer’s best friends!

When I write, I immerse myself completely in my story. I call myself a “method writer”, Similar to a “method actor” but less annoying. (Why is my hubby laughing?)

I surround myself with tokens of that world; an intricate ring, a photo of a misty mountain, a particular scent… Then I disappear completely. Not always good for something on the stove, but great for imagery in the book.

It’s the burned offerings for supper that annoy me. I know better than to ignore something on the stove. But it happens, rarely, but always the most expensive meals.

So I have decided that these two things are my best friends in the kitchen. A crockpot and an Instant Pot. These two are programmable, useful for more than one thing, and holy guacamole, do they make supper easy!

*I get a small percentage of sales off these 2 items if you purchase them through this page. The crockpot is an incredible price! And if you buy through this page, Amazon won’t close my acct for inactivity.

Both are programmable, so you can pile everything into the pot in the morning, set the timer and ignore it all day! My kinda cooking. The Instant Pot also has 7 functions, including slowcooker. So technically, you only need the one.

I have made chicken and veggie curry in 25 minutes (from frozen) in the Instant Pot. I’ve also made broth so strong it gels in the fridge in 2 hours. THat usually takes at least 24 hours in the crockpot.

I also use them both for making stuff to can; jams, leftovers, stews…. The Instant Pot even lets you pressure can up to 4 500ml jars. Like leftover 20 minute chili?

 

Climate change and Senate seats?

I’ll start with the Senate. Further to his agenda of making the Senate (in Canada) non-partisan, PM Trudeau II has opened the senate to 35 non-partisan, self-nominated appointees.

What this means is that if you feel you’d make a good senator, don’t religiously follow one party, and can find three other people who think you’d be a good senator, you can apply to be appointed.  Last time there was an open season on senate seats, there were 300 applicants. That makes it a 1 in 10 shot.

I’ll take those odds. Although I have asked 10 people to write me a letter of support and only ONE has done it. Does no-one but me think I’d be a good senator?

I’m educated, open -minded (about everything but Harpes) and a strong supporter of  equality, human rights, equal pay, religious freedom, climate change strategies, and more.My foster son, with whom I’m still close, is a gay person of colour, so I’m keen on both those groups having rights and protections under the law. I have worked with and done a documentary on Indigenous groups at risk, including the devastating poverty of remote reservations.

I follow politics and keep an eye on legislation for its impact on specialty groups. I’m not quite so open minded that my brain falls out, but I’m willing to listen. I’m white, from a poor family, but now have a foot firmly in the middle-class. I know what it is to be hungry, to choose between hydro and lunches at school. I have also seen the widening gap between the haves and have-nots.

I’m mobility impaired, I know how insufficient disability support is at both federal and provincial levels, I know how poorly executed a lot of “accessible” buildings are.

I’m a firm believer in stopping omnibus Bills (one bill = one changed/ new law), and in having Bills written in plain language, if you mean X, say X, don’t leave it open to interpretation and abuse.

I’m also a very spiritual person, I formed and led Ottawa’s largest open neo-pagan temple in history. I have been a spiritual elder for twenty years, and am well respected in the community. I have published articles on paganism for a non-pagan audience, and have written for pagan magazines.

As a senator, I would watch closely every Bill that may impact individual freedom of choice, pay and job equity, religious and cultural freedom, health care and any that slide into omnibus status.  I would fight for the average, lower-to-middle-income guy. I would fight for the environment.

I just need three letters from people who’ve known me more than five years, although “fan mail” would also help. LOL

 

And speaking of climate change.

This is my garden 3 years ago, and this year. See a difference?

2013

2016

20160623_133630   Can you see the difference? I sure do! It is getting hotter and drier even in Canada. Since when is 35C+ the norm ? I used to wear sweaters in August!

Old friends and birthday surprises!

A few days ago, I turned 55. Many would shy away from admitting such an age, but I take pride in it. I am less thrilled with asking what age the senior’s discount starts at, but frugal is an art form where I’m from.  🙂

Laurie Stewart 6-7-2015 Besides, this is me at 54. Not too shabby.

A bit of backstory on my chronic pain and degenerating spine…. in 1980 I was diagnosed with Scoliosis, my back was curved wrong. Not too bad, and not painful. But this shiny-eyed young surgeon had an experimental technique he thought would fix the curve and let me live a better life.

He convinced my parents to sign off. The operation was a “limited success”. Years of body casts, hip to neck braces and pain followed. In 1985, he tried to fix it again. Messed it up worse, and informed us that I’d be in a wheelchair for life by age 35.

Well, suck on this, Mr. Expert! Not only am I still walking, I garden! And I paint and write and occasionally produce films! Twenty. Years. Later!

Okay, I do use a wheelchair or scooter in conventions, festivals, malls or big stores, but most of the time I walk. Just, not far or for long, but that’s beside the point. I can still walk!

I have also not just survived, but thrived after partners who broke my ribs, beat me into a miscarriage, cheated on me, stole from me….  And I met and married the most wonderful man, ever! So, HA! to those guys too.

As for the surprise birthday party, well… it starts with Blue Gypsy Wines. A small fruit winery owned and run by awesome friends, where we often have BBQ dinners and buy way too much cranberry wine. It also starts with planning a quiet luncheon with a couple friends, then driving to the winery to try out the new sangria slushies. (May I just say O. M. G!) And in a hilariously accurate attempt, my auto-correct wants to change slushies to lushes!

So we drove for an hour to my friend’s house, with dearest hubby even doing a little moaning about the drive for veracity. And we had a lovely visit. And incredible lunch! Hummus crusted chicken breasts, GF herb-cheese scones, deviled eggs, 3 kinds of cold cuts, salad with home-made herb dressing, quinoa salad, and a shortcake with berries and whipped coconut cream. This was about 4 days after my birthday, so I thought nothing of the cake being anything other than yummy.  I was so stuffed I waddled.

After chatting all afternoon, we realized that the winery closed in about an hour, so we hurried over. I needed to try that sangria slushy.

I walked in to masses of friends! Including one I see only every few years! It was awesome! We talked and laughed and caught up until long after they should have closed. But being wonderful, awesome friends, Louis and Claire kept the winery open for us.

We had another dinner, and I practically needed to be rolled out by the end.

Claire is also an amazing GF baker. She made me a salted caramel birthday cake with caramel sauce held in by fluffy caramel frosting. It was a real cake, light, flavourful… perfect. (Claire runs Indulge! the food fare at Blue Gypsy.)

Only one skinny piece was left to take home. Soooo good!

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The lone surviving piece! I would have taken a photo of the whole thing, but it disappeared too fast.

 

Orlando shootings, another voice

It’s been ages since I posted, I’ve been crazy busy, and the world has just gone crazy.

After my mom’s wedding a little less than a month ago, I worked a book fair, dealt with pain levels that would make a grown man sob hysterically, attended two milestone birthday parties, started a garden, had three doctor appointments, wrote a 7 page outline, adopted a stray cat, had friends over for dinner….

For most of you, that might not sound crazy busy. But I do most of it hunched over from pain, barely able to walk. I am on morphine from the pain, and some days it doesn’t even make a dent.

I got to feeling sorry for myself. I cleared 4 garden beds (well, I cleared one, my niece cleared three) and could barely move for two days. I worked at the kitchen table because it was so much closer to the coffee machine.

Then the mass shooting in Orlando put things into perspective. I live my life in pain. Some live their lives in fear. Fear of things like that slimy little turd in Orlando.

And their fear is as real as my pain, but a lot harder to fix. Morphine wouldn’t touch it on its best day.

Most of you don’t know this, but I had a foster child in the late 80’s, early 90’s. He was high school age, failing, depressed, suicidal, and GAY. Also a gorgeous person of colour.

He was being bullied so badly at school that he’d been moved from foster home to foster home because of his anger and depression. (Way to really help these kids, Asshats!)

So I got him. I adored him at first sight. By the time he aged out of the system, he was happy, creative, and had a scholarship to university. What did I do that was so incredibly different?

I accepted him.  After all, who he loves is none of my concern as long as I show him it’s safe to love. Where he puts his dick is none of my business EVER.  (Unless his partner is abusive, in which case I try to help him get the strength to leave, but that story is none of your business.)

He’s now a strong, loving, beautiful man. He supports himself, owns his own home, has a wonderful partner, acts and sings on stage, and probably still lives in fear.

It breaks my heart. And terrifies me.  My son used to go to bars all the time when he was in his 20’s. He rocked that dance floor! And any of those fun-loving people out for a few drinks could have been him.

None of them were a threat to to anybody, none of them were doing anything but enjoying a night out. I look at their eager, happy photos and cry for the loss of so many lights. So many shining ones snuffed out, into darkness.

I’ve seen a couple of people celebrating their deaths. Do that anywhere I can see you and blocked will be the nicest thing to happen to you. Excuse me while I go write an execution or something, pretending it’s one of those small-minded, foul-mouthed cretins.

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My beautiful, happy boy.

So, it’s been long two weeks.  Maybe a long month, I’ve lost track.

I went to New Brunswick on May 8th to help my mom with the last preparations for her wedding, meeting her groom for the first time. Eh, he’s OK, better treat her right, I know what he looks like now.

Goldie and George 14-5-2016.jpg

 

This is the first kiss!

He seems to be a little selfish, but then again he was single for at least 10 years, he may not be used to thinking of other people. My sweetie showed him how a confident man treats women: with respect and spoiling them at the same time.  The size of your manhood is not determined by whether you ask others if they want something when you go out for coffee. Nor is it diminished by doing what she asks you to, especially if you are gluten intolerant and have IBS and she wants you to stop with the fracking donuts!

We fixed up the house, made endless cakes and bought tons of snacks and paper plates. The reception was at Mom’s house. I got to see all her brothers and sisters, some I haven’t seen in over 5 years. It was great.  So was spending time with friends in person instead of just FB messenger.

The long and short of it is that I was exhausted and out of spoons by the time we started home on the 18th. Thank Gods we got to overnight at a friend’s, the 6 hour drive that day was more than enough.

So, that was last week, the weekend included two friends birthday parties. This week was a train wreck.And it’s not over yet.

I had an appointment for an mri on tuesday, arrived at 7am to find that it was booked for 730PM! Unfortunately, all the walking to and from my non-existent appointment made me too sore to hang around for 12 hours or the real appt. Rebooked for June 20th. And time CONFIRMED.

Doctor appointment on Wednesday to followup on a problem. Calendar says 130pm, went on time. WRONG. It had been rescheduled for 9am and I was too tired to check my phone messages on Tuesday. Rebooked for next week.

Went to see dear friends for dinner, started a migraine. Frack!

Home today and my house looks like we were attacked by mad bombers while we were away. But the TV is still here, so it’s our mess. I put African chicken in the 4l crock, and hambones and water into the 15l one. Then started trying to clean up.

Ever had one of those days where you can’t do A until B is done, can’t finish B until C is done and can’t do C until A is done? Yeah, that. I want chocolate and a nap.

And the house is still a disaster.  I’m supposed to go to my writers assoc meeting tonight and pay my dues.  Sigh….