Monday, July 19, 2021

Multiplying Happy Places

Mini Tramp In Front of the Front Window

The latest happy place created is making room for my tramp in front of the front window.  It matters what I'm looking at when using the tramp and if I'm looking at ugly clutter and chaos I can't find the the serenity I need to process, recharge and prepare to move on.  Thus instead of proliferating peace I find anxiety increasing.

I know this about myself so in the weeks I had to plan for the moving process, I promised myself I would put priority on creating spaces of calm functionality in the midst of the chaos to facilitate the early creation of healthy habits in this new environment.  Because another I know is that bad habits once made are hard to unmake.

I'm loosing count but I think this makes five: The standing desk at the breakfast bar was the first.  The kitchen counter where I make my coffee, tea and salads was the second, the shower with the third.  All three on the first night, Thursday.  Then on Friday I set up the first version of my rest and recreate happy space where I can indulge in reading, writing, thinking, video watching, or crochet as the spirit moves me when taking breaks during the day or in the late evening after it becomes too late to be making noise that might disturb my neighbor on the other side of the bed alcove wall.

Where did the sorting station that stood here since the first night?  Well...

The Sorting and Unboxing Stations Merged

This was possible partly because the boxes left to unbox are dwindling but mostly because I now have Ed's tall table where I can stand at a yard square surface without bending over in the slightest.

The tall Table in the Center of the Room.

You could almost call this another Happy Place since sorting and organizing is one of my favorite things to do.  It's like playing solitaire or match three games--almost meditative.

Early today that table gave me a wake up call.  I had just woken up and was checking messages when I found one from my sister-in-law in the Rogue Valley Oregon informing me that Ed's Dad had passed that morning.  That makes four of my Davis family gone in under ten months-=Ed, his brother and both parents.

My first thought was that I needed to get over to the tramp before the grief grenade I'd just been handed blew up in my face.  The tramp helps me process thoughts and feelings.  It calms the raging anxiety and helps me organize my brainspace. 

As I turned away from the computer and took two and a half steps toward the front window already tearing up and in the act of raising both hands to my face I smashed nearly all of my knuckles against the edge just before crashing into the table which then scooted at least a foot towards the window.  I stopped its slide by gripping the edges on both sides just before my rolling office chair parked under the table tackled my knees. 

Gripping the table edge probably saved me from a bad fall but it nearly brought me to my knees anyway as the pain in my hands exploded.  Worse than the pain tho was discovering that my hands had stopped working.  I could no longer grip anything, i couldn't flex them, I couldn't use the pincer movement between thumb and index finer, I couldn't do any of the fine motor skills.

It was the weirdest sensation.  It was a bit like when your hand goes to sleep from laying on your arm in your sleep but it wasn't numb.  It wasn't the pain itself causing this.  It was more like my hands had stopped taking commands from my brain.

It was a very long half hour or more waiting and wondering.  I couldn't get on the tramp without the use of my hands as I have to grip something as I'm climbing on and off and I wouldn't be able to break my fall if I lost my balance.

So I did my waiting and wondering in my read, write, rest and re-create happy place.  While I sat there the bags I was sitting on started to slide out from under me and one of the bags of clothes in the pile next to the door fell and another shifted like it was about to.

So while my hands got a hold of themselves, I contemplated how I was going to re-create my recreate happy space.  Less than half an hour later I was able to make my coffee and type my reply to my sister-in-law.  I sat in my recreate space planning my day.  I realized it was very important to have the tramp in front of the window so I tackled that smaller job first so I would have the tramp as a happy place when I needed breaks from the huge task of moving and repositioning every bag, box and misc item in the bed alcove.  That took over two hours and when I finished it looked like this

My Rest and Re-Create Happy Place Day 4

The hassock storage box is now up against the wall in place of the bag of coats I'd been sitting on.  That's the only change I'm going to name here.  It is just obvious comparing the pic from last night's post of the same area that there is more order in spite of the amount of stuff still occupying the space.

And now I know exactly where each bag is and what is in it.  Speaking of which: two bags put on the craft wall had to be move over to the clothes wall because...well...sweaters and scarves are yarn right?

A Happy Place In the Making

This will eventually be another happy place but right now tho it has the functionality it does not have the beauty and it will not until all my books are in place.  Right now its function is to play musical shelves with me as I shuffle things from here to there.

Yet I try to arrange at least a few things pleasing to my eye as I sit across from it against the bed alcove wall recreating my life


Saturday, July 17, 2021

Stuffing My Place

Closing in on my first 24 hours alone in my new place.  Above are a few of the new things I acquired in the weeks since I learned I was next in line for placement.  I broke them out to celebrate my first night with a relaxing herbal tea--Ginger Peach Turmeric.  

The little electric tea kettle is made of silicon and has accordion pleats that allow it to collapse flat.  The little cup on the left came with it and also collapses flat inside it's lid.  The water boils faster than a teakettle on the stove and uses less electricity.

Against the wall hiding the outlet and ugly cords from the kettle and computer is a mini dish drainer which I've still not used as I haven't moved in my cleaning essentials collected from Ed's apartment last October.  I can't clean up anything that needs more than water and paper towels so I'm trying hard not to make any serious messes.

My goal for this first day has been to create several of these  little oasis of peace and functionality amid the chaos so that I can establish some healthy routines even before everything is moved in and put away because to wait for that would risk making bad habits in the several weeks it is going to take me to reach a minimal order--bad habits that would likely carry forward or at least be hard to un-make.

Some of these oasis and/or functional routines with estimate of completion are:
  • 100% Keeping that counter space pictured above where I make things to eat and drink clean, cleared of clutter, functional and whenever possible also pleasing to look at.
  • 90% Put all food items in the fridge and cupboard for ease of access so food and drink prep does not always entail more of the same bending, lifting, searching, and sorting of the unpacking process.
  • 10% Locate, organize and place in temp homes all food supplements and over the counter meds.  I learned the hard way why this is important when a spasming back kept me awake past dawn this morning and I realized that all my pain relief stuff was buried under  piles of stuff stacked against the bed alcove wall shared by my neighbor's mirror image apartment. 
  • 100% Create a space or two for unpacking or unboxing and sorting stuff.
  • 100% Provide the bathroom with the minimal necessities for daily showers because if the last several days are to be typical I'll be sweating upwards of six hours a day for weeks.
  • 70% Create a space for sleeping.  This might include creating a routine for laying down the mattress and making it up with bedding for sleeping and then getting it all up off the floor before the day's work begins. I tried leaving it all on the floor this morning and it became clear it was a trip hazard as well as just being in the way when I needed to access the pile on the wall behind it.
  • 100% Create a space for sitting to relax, to write, to eat, to rest briefly when my back is screaming.  This is a challenge today as I have no chairs yet.  In fact there is nothing here yet that can be called furniture other than a plastic dresser for crafts and several as yet unboxed Amazon orders that include a folding desk, a beanbag chair and several shelving units that add up to over approximately 100 shelves around 12 to 14 inches wide.  All of which need assembling which is my first big task after I've established these oasis and routines as they are the linchpin of my organizing plan.
  • 100% Stack all the boxes and bags against the walls nearest to the spots they will find their homes once all my storage solutions are in place.
  • 100% Create a USB charging station for all my electronic devices--tablets, lamps, personal fan, rechargeable batteries, light boxes etc.  This may have to migrate or split into more than one.
  • 80% Establish a safe zone for important papers and for the essentials for leaving the house on errands
  • 30% Locate and organize the essentials for prepping self to leave the house.
  • 100% Create a standing desk for laptop for ease of communicating via message aps for routine messages as well as potential emergency as do not yet have the phone that comes with my Xfinity service.

The Bed alcove.

Can you believe all this stuff needs to find homes in this space and the closets in the hallway and still leave room for my bed which is currently a folding mattress but eventually I hope will be a daybed or futon couch?  

And it's not yet all here.  

I have four more 22 gallon bags of yarn and probably a dozen middling sized boxes of craft supplies to move over as well as several bushels of clothing, accessories and bedding.

From left to mid back wall is all clothes.  The mid spot is winter coats and bedding, in front of which I tried to create a place to sit on my folded mattress placed in front of the coats and bedding for back rest.  But it was too low to the floor and the mattress was still a trip hazard.  So I tried putting the mattress atop the pile of coats and bedding and sitting with my back against the wall but I kept falling off.  I finally repacked the two bags of coats and bedding into one 22 gallon Ziploc zipper bag as a more level foundation.  Still the mattress slid off.  So I removed the mattress from the concept and put two 11 gallon Ziploc bags under the coats bag--one full of plastic bags the other full of bubble wrap and foam scraps.  That is working.  I'm sitting on it as I type and it's been over an hour and it still feels solid and comfy.

In order to make it work as a writing and eating station tho I had to unbox and assemble the folding table.  I will get pics of that for tomorrow's post.

To the right of the bedding at mid wall and wrapping around across the entire window wall is all fiber art projects and supplies.

The long wall in the living room.

On the left is the charging station and the wifi box.  On the right are all the Amazon orders to be unboxed.  I created a station for the unboxing and assembling by rearranging the boxes to create a high 'table' and keeping tools like box cutter and measuring tape and scissors on the window sill.  All that as well as unboxing the folding table and the tower fan was done after I took the picture. 

The front wall.

These boxes and bags were brought in and placed willy-nilly last night.  It is hard to place most of them according to the rule--stack near their final destination--because they were also packed willy-nilly with a mix of categories.  I've actually managed to unpack and find temp homes for the contents of several of those boxes since the pic was taken.

That wall is designated for the soon to be moved boxes of papers, books and office/writing misc.  Once all of that is unpacked and placed on the shelving going up on the long wall I will have my writing station on that wall with my desk in front of the window. 

Tho the desk will probably be the one I assembled today which is likely to migrate according to tasks.  For example when I want to work on fiber art I might want the table near the materials on the window wall of the bed alcove.  Or if I want to watch videos while sitting on the future couch/bed I would set up the device on this table.  I will likely be using it for meals as well.  And any of the above except video watching can also be done out on the front porch or front or back yard.

One item, multiple functions.  That is a necessity for small space living.

The cubby space between fridge and back door.

This was hip-high last night and spilled over to fill the space all the way to the stove one bag or box deep but most of that spillover was food which got put away in the first hour I was here.  I got the back door unblocked before I went to bed and spent part of today bringing this pile down to knee-high.  One of my shelving units is destined for this spot and much of what's left here needs to wait until that is assembled.

The tub showing the shower curtain and water shoes

One of the tasks I had to do last night was find and hang the shower curtain.  Then I realized I don't have a bath mat so I wore my water shoes.  So far there is only two bags of stuff destined to have homes in this room.  There will be more when Ed's stuff is moved over and even more when the stuff I brought up here in 2013 at the time Ed got evicted down in Oregon gets brought out of the garage and basement at Mom's.

Not everything that was mine or Ed's before and during my 8.5 year stay at Mom's will find permanent homes in this apartment.  Purging will be a theme of the unpack, sort, and organize tasks.  I've been reading about and watching videos on the minimalist and tiny home living themes.  I tend to be a hoarder and I'm trying to learn to let go.  It is a slow process but I've already made significant progress in the last two years--especially on the emotional drivers of the condition.

The breakfast bar as standing desk for the laptop

One of the goals stated at top completed last night and functioning well all day.

A view from my front porch.

Looking down the sidewalk toward the lane.  One of the things I am grateful for about my new place is how much like a village this looks and feels.  It has the ambience of community instead of a parking-garage for people.

Earlier while I was still struggling with creating the faux easy chair in the bed alcove I had a blood sugar meltdown and needed to fix and eat food.  I was too tired and sore to stand at the kitchen counter to eat but I still had no place to sit except the throne which works for brief respites but not when food is involved.  So I fixed my meal of cold cereal with blueberries, nuts, dried cranberries and peach yogurt smoothie instead of milk.  Then I put on a visor and sunglasses, grabbed my cane and ventured down that front walk to the bench where I took my time, eating slow and soaking up the ambience of my new neighborhood.

That took big courage.  It was out of character for me even before vision loss made me a shut-in several years ago--unable to venture more than a few steps out the door at Mom's without an escort because of so many trip hazards.  The idea would not have crossed my mind if I had not just been studying the photo I'd taken shortly before the hunger attacked and my back and feet screamed NO to standing for a meal.

Well, it's officially been over 24 hours since I began living alone for the first time in my life.


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Findiing My Place

Walking towards the front door of the efficiency unit duplex I was being shown for my approval nearly a month ago.  I approved.  This week I'm moving in.
The window on the left is the front room.  The window under the porch roof is the bed alcove.

My front door.
So many doors have shut for me in the last decade it is about time one opened.

Standing next to the breakfast bar for one with the kitchenette behind me and looking down the length of the front room.

Spun on my heels and took this shot of the back door with the breakfast bar on the right and the fridge on the left.

I stood in the empty space between the fridge and the back wall to get this shot of the stove, sink, counters and cupboards.  The breakfast bar is just out of the shot on the right.

I stood on the back wall of the bed alcove to get this shot of the long wall of the front room.  Most of it anyway.

Now I'm standing on that long wall next to that window looking into the bed alcove.  visible on the right is and accordion curtain that can be pulled across to close it off.  The entire space is barely bigger than a queen bed.

Now I'm standing in the hallway between the bed alcove and the bathroom looking down the length of the alcove at the window next to my front door.

Now I'm standing in front of that window looking down the yard square hall into the bathroom with the window onto the back yard visible.
two closets with double folding doors are to the left and right inside the hall.

The one on the right holds the water heater and shelving.
I had to stand in the hanging closet to get this shot so there was nowhere to stand to get a similar shot of the clothes closet.


I settled for a shot that showed the shelf over the rod.

To the left upon entering is the tub/shower.  I had to shut the door to get the whole thing in the shot.

To the right of the door is the sink.

There is a full length mirror on the back of the bathroom door.

Leaving was soooo hard.

Signed the lease and took possession of the key last Thursday.
Took the first load of stuff over Saturday morning.
Took the second load over today--Tuesday
Also got signed up for Internet which was the necessary thing for spending the night as I must have a way to call for help.
Hoping I will have enough essentials moved in by Thursday to spend my first night there.



Saturday, April 24, 2021

My Brain on Books XXVIII


I am reading for The Office of Letters and Lights the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo today as I love what they are doing for literacy with their Young Writer's Programs and because I've participated in NaNo every year since 2004.  I have been blessed to have it in my life and would like to give something back if only kudos and link love.  I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. 

This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones. I may be posting some updates on Twitter @Joystory and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Including mini-challenges that don't require a separate post..   

Be sure and see my tribute poem to Dewey and the Thon she birthed at the bottom of this post

1:11AM Sunday - Too engrossed in reading...

Did not take into account, when planning to spend the whole readathon on my bed, the time consuming and frustrating task it is to set up my laptop on my lap desk, open and wake it and then when finished with the task of updating and/or visiting various readathon social media to dismantle the setup, putting all of its elements away in their various slots within arms reach.  If I had, I think I might have considered it a better plan to leave the laptop set up at my desk in the other room where I could stop by on my way back from bio breaks.  Because of the frustrating experience with the first update upon waking this morning, I kept putting off new updates preferring to keep reading.

My expectation to finish Julia Fine's What Should Be Wild by noon was as fantastical as the story itself.  The factors contributing to that include my messed up sense of time passing, my need to savor the language of so many phrases and paragraphs by rereading them and/or highlighting them, my petulant bladder and a nap attack that robbed me of over an hour between 11 and 1 and the lengthy kitchen raid that followed that.

Based on my memory of the window light in the room as I switched books, I judge that it must have been between 7 and 8 PM.  The Libby App tells me that I read for 11 hours and 47 minutes but that includes the 38% that I read in the two weeks before this morning.

The book I picked up next was 
Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country by Cristina Rivera Garza.  I have advanced even slower through this collection of essays by a Latina feminist and human rights activist about the decades long War on Drugs and the impact its horrors have on individuals, community and national unity/identity.  The state of perpetual fear and loss is dehumanizing unless grieving becomes a communal response actively weaving them into solidarity across all classes and borders against the power brokers imposing atrocities with impunity--the drug cartels, the police/state and the northern empire.

One of the themes running through these essays is the efficacy of storytelling (oral, written or visual arts) in processing the grief.  Storytelling from personal diary to social media, from novels to journalism, from poetry to photography, from music to statuary, from whispered confessions between intimates to testifying at small and large gatherings, story subverts the efforts of the Powers That Be to divide and conquer via the dehumanizing butchering of language and bodies.  Thus storytelling is the ultimate resistance against tyranny.

7:55AM - Oh Darn! Forgot to Set My Alarm.

Will be starting out with Julia Fine's What Should Be Wild.  I started it earlier thus month after I had put a hold on her newest, The Upstairs House, via the Libby ebook library I have access to with my local library card.  My turn came for the new one a few days ago and I'm eager to start it but I am also eager to finish What Should Be Wild.  It is a surrealistic or magical realism story about a young girl whose touch both kills and brings back to life anything organic.  It has something to do with a curse on the women in her family.  The plot is complex, the ambience is eerie and the prose is luscious.  I'm 38% in and hope to finish by noon. 

5:00AM - 
Opening Survey!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Longview, WA  USA
My Mom's home which is where I live.
Will spend much of it here:

That's a pic of my bed on the floor of Mom's room taken for a NaNo prep post last October but it looks about the same except the pillow pile is about double that now so that it is like a recliner.  it is the most comfortable and quietest space in the house and because Mom is at my brother's home for the weekend I don't need to worry about disturbing her before 9am and after 9pm.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
NF Grieving by Cristina Rivera Garza
Fic  The Upstairs House by Julia Fine

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Blueberry Yogurt Smoothie dark chocolate.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
   As of next Monday I'll have been a widow for seven months.  The grief, tho not as fresh as it was during last October's Thon nor as constant, can still fold me over intermittently in moments as sudden as a gasp.

Tho, I managed to participate in the Thon and NaNo last fall with sporadic posting, I took a 'brief' hiatus after mine and Ed's anniversary December 2nd and am only now returning.  

I had been just about to resume posting with announcements of my ROW80 goals for January right after Christmas only to be hit with another grief blow when Ed's brother died.

This spring I started working with a long term caregiver who comes in three times a week to help me with chores, errands and taking me for walks.  Because of my visual impairment and high-functioning autism I will always have to have this kind of help; especially to live in my own apartment.

In March my long time counselor had to quit her job and shortly after that my first caregiver quit her job with the company providing my care.  I'm currently on my third caregiver since the first week of March.  These losses have been compounding the grief over Ed's death like applying icy hot ointment to a healing burn.

I made the mistake of allowing grief to steal my words though.  For months after December 2nd I neither wrote nor read.  And I know I need my words to process any changes in my life and boy or boy change seems to be gunning for me.  Like most on the spectrum change is not my friend.

But reading has been returning for me this month.  In the last two or three weeks I've finished around a dozen books.  Which means focus has returned.  And the completion of several emails proved that focus is working for writing as well.  So i figured I better use the opportunity of the Thon breaking the blogging ice to recommit to regular posts.  So as soon as I've recovered from the Thon, I'll rejoin ROW80 writing accountability group with a goals post for the Wednesday check-in.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? 

   Tho I have many tree books, ebooks and audio books via Library of Congress talking books for the print disabled, I'm putting most if not all of my focus for the thon on the fifteen ebooks I have checked out from two Washington State libraries via the Libby app because both cards are tapped out and I have holds about to become available and besides more than half of them are due by next weekend and several of them had been on hold for weeks or months and if I don't finish I'll have to get back in line.

It is interesting how many of them have some connection to the concepts of grief, loss, widowhood or broken hearts--both fiction and non-fiction as will become clear as I share the titles in my updates as the day progresses.

4:44 AM - I'm setting this to go live at 4:44 AM but it may be as much as an hour before I check in.  Making coffee, Getting eyes focused.  Settling in at primary reading station.  But I will be reading by 5AM.

Ode to Dewey
by Joy Renee
We Miss You Dewey


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