Friday, December 18, 2015


It’s a rare day when a woman wants to talk about her weight, unless she is bragging about her weight loss.  Well, I am here  to tell you about all of the weight I have gained over the years, how miserable I am, and the probable cause.

I started gaining weight when I was 40, averaging about 10 pounda a year.  By the time I weighed 268 pounds, I decided to get Lap Band Surgery.  It was wonderful at first.  I lost a total of 50 pounds, which isn’t very much for a person having bariatric surgery.  That loss caused me to Lose my gall bladder, having emergency surgery in 2007.  Then I started gaining weight again.
Keep in mind, with a lap band, you can usually only eat a cup of food at a sitting.  So why was I gaining weight.  Of course, the death of my husband caused a lot of stress, but really?
I went to my doctor and told her I had gained 10 pounds in a month, and that it hurt.  She ran some blood tests and said I had a slightly low thyroid.  Getting thyroid medication did not help me, and the pain persisted. In the next two years I made three trips to the ER with severe pain and difficulty breathing.

And the beat goes on.  Still no answer.  My legs were swollen like tree trunks, and my abdomen was so swollen, it was difficult to bend over.  The doctor I was seeing here in Tukwila told me to go home and drink herbal tea and calm down.

Last year I qualified for Medicare and joined Group Health.  The doctor I was set up with was okay, but pretty much the same old thing.  Then she retired and I was placed with a Physician’s Assistant.  I went to see her about getting off my blood pressure medication since it was making me cough.  She looked at my records and said “You take Mirapex?  It’s notorious for causing edema.”  A year and a half ago I had gone to a neurologist for that reason, since the medication is for restless legs.  I have been taking it since I was 40.  The neurologist I saw who was not with Group Health, said there was no connection.

So.  Here I am now, I weigh more than I did when I had my lap band and I am miserable.  It could take quite some time for the edema to subside, but I am hopeful.  I want change over night.  I’m transitioning to a new medication and that has made the condition worse.

I need your good vibes and prayers to give me the strength and optimism to get through this.  It has been a long haul.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Tukwila Trailers

I am so lucky to have the Tukwila Community Center just down the street from us.
They have some amazing activities there, but I will only concentrate on the Tukwila Trailers for now.
This is a group for senior women.  We meet every Monday, regardless of the weather, and head out for a vigorous walk or hike.  I am so lucky.  Ever since I joined them, we've only had two days of inclement weather.  You just dress for it, and carry on.

On the way to Thompson Falls
There are usually 14 of us, a full van load.  Sometimes we have more and have to take a second van.  At 8:45 we load up and ride to the location chosen for that day.  We have gone as far as Cle Elum to the East, Olympia to the south, Bellingham to the north, and Kingston to the west.

Denny Creek
We hike for 2 hours.  I am the baby of the group at 65 years.  Our oldest member is 87.  These women inspire me.  I'm pretty bummed out right now since I'm having a lot of hip pain and can't join in until I do some physical therapy and feel better.  I have moderate arthritis and bone spurs in my right hip.  How the heck do we get bone spurs?  Guess I need to Google that.

This picture is at the Tacoma Waterfront.  I thought it was of the bicycle mounted way up on that piling, but I guess I picked the wrong one.  Scenery is the same, though.  I love walking along the waterfront, with the smell of the salt water and the sight of seals and dolphins.
If this weekend is any indication of what our weather is going to be like this year, we will have many wet hikes.  I do have rain gear, so I will be fine.
After the hike, we go to a nice restaurant for lunch.  It's a full day with a wonderful group of women.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Stuk in the Tuk

I had thought about starting a new blog, since my life has changed so drastically in recent years, but it was too much work.  So, I will keep Fiberfabrications with a sub title of Stuk in the Tuk.  Stuck in the Tuk is a phrase young people use to describe life in Tukwila.  And to be honest, that was how I initially felt when I moved in with Terry.  Tukwila?  Really?  But as time has gone by, and I have made friends and gotten involved with volunteer work, I realize this is my calling.  I was meant to be here.  At least for now.  Tukwila is a diverse and multi cultural community, with over 35 languages spoken in the grade schools alone.  What a sight to drive by the Community Center and see a soccer team of young girls all dressed in their black burkas.

Last month, Terry went on a tuna fishing trip out of Westport, and came home with 275 pounds!  Needless to say, we have been very busy since then, freezing and canning.  I am attempting to get 40 jars a day done, but we had a week of sidetrack when both our furnace and water heater broke.  The hot water is back, but we are still waiting for our new furnace, which should arrive tomorrow.  Fortunately, this has been a very mild year, and we are doing fine without heat for now.

We bought a boat last spring and have been so happy with that decision.  Besides fishing and crabbing and filling up the freezer with salmon and crab, we enjoy picnics on the boat while cruising around Mercer Island, admiring the multi million dollar homes.  The other 1%.  But, as Terry likes to say, they are all at work, and we are here, enjoying the beautiful day.

Here is my grandson, Cadel.  We were giving him a safety lesson before he gets to go out in the boat with us.  Our schedules just didn't jive this year, but he is ready to help Granny drive the boat next year.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


It's been difficult to have a positive attitude lately.  We have been having a hard time getting my thyroid kick started.  In November and December, things were going well, and then I had a setback.  The meds weren't working, and I reacted adversely to any new ones we tried.  I had gone down two sizes, but gradually took it all back in.  My worst problem with this disease is the swelling from inflamation.  The edema is so severe, it is painful.  I know when I wake up each morning how I am going to do by how badly my ribs hurt.  My toes feel like I could poke them with a pin and they would squirt water.  I wish it were that easy.
I think I sabotaged myself.  I gave up on my diet, truly believing that what I ate did not affect my symptoms.  I continued to be gluten and dairy free, for the most part.  I love tomatoes, and I wanted to not be affected by them.  Dumb, but I finally have to admit that the nightshade vegetables are a big issue for me.
So, I am back on the Paleo Leap again.  I am also drinking 10 ounces of coconut water a day to help with the swelling.  I was whining the other day about how yucky it had gotten to be, when my husband started singing "Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up".  Well, darn, if it doesn't make it more palatable.  I had been adding lemon, but lime is much better.  In addition to the coconut water, I am taking 400mg of Potassium at night.

I had a family event to go to on Saturday, and I could not fit into any of my clothes.  I went in to Nordstroms, where I don't usually shop, but I needed help.  I started crying when I told the clerk what I needed.  She was amazing, and set me up with a beautiful orange skirt, an aqua tank top, and a multi colored floral cardigan.
Three days later, I am down two sizes again.
Yesterday I went on my Monday hike with the Tukwila Trailers, a group of senior women who go out hiking for two hours every Monday, rain, snow, or shine.  I love this group.  I was dismayed to discover I had very little energy, and found myself bringing up the rear.  Fatigue is my second worst symptom.
After we hike, we all go out to lunch.  This is also very difficult, since it is hard to find something on the menu I can eat.  I'm finding a bacon burger without bun, tomato or cheese will be good.  Or, a salad is a good option.  Yesterday the fist bite of my salad told me it was from a bag, and often, those bagged salads have sulfites in them.  I swelled up on the way home in the van.

Lasagna Gardening and other Tales

Happy St. Patricks Day.  I'm really not sure why we celebrate this day, I just know that in college it meant we went out to drink green beer.  I do enjoy the tradition of corned beef and cabbage, and I cooked mine Sunday night.  This morning we had hash with our eggs for breakfast.  Yum.

Friday was an incredibly beautiful day, with temps at 68 degrees.  The record in our neck of the woods is 70, so we almost made it.  I took advantage and started working on the vegetable garden.  We first formed this garden when I moved in with Terry two years ago.  The soil was in great condition, but the weeds had won the battle.  We spent hours on our hands and knees, pulling out every last root of every last weed.  Friday when I started work by raking out the straw, there were 3 weeds.  Three.  So, I am going to tell you about how we do our lasagna gardens.

 You start with a bed with good soil and no signs of weeds.
 Next, you cover the soil with either cardboard or wet newspaper.  I chose to use newspaper on this garden since I had lettuce and cabbage starts that I wanted to plant right away.
 A simple poke with the trowel makes for a hole to place your starts in to.  Then, you cover it all with either straw or mulch.  I need to take a trip to the farm and garden store to get some straw, since I like it best.
This method cuts way down on your weeds, and more importantly, conserves moisture.  With the mild winter we have had, and no snow in the mountains, I suspect we are going to have a dry summer with water restrictions.
 This is the garden in the front yard that we finished that same morning.  I want to start growing  more vegetables out front, so I lifted all of the perennials and replanted them elsewhere.  Then I raked the soil level before laying down cardboard.  We save cardboard all year, since our goal is to have all of our beds lasagna style.  It's a little hard to see, but I set up the bedsprings as a trellis for the sweet peas I planted.
 On Saturday, I joined my son, brother, and sister in law in taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island for a Memorial service celebrating the life of my Uncle Norman.
 Here I am with my son, Michael.
Uncle Norm was quite the man.  He was loved by everyone.  He never seemed to lose his temper.  
As my cousin, his daughter said, he didn't even get mad when she crashed the car into the mailbox.  Or when she drove it into the ditch, or when she crashed it. . . . .
I know as a child, he would delight me by talking like Donald Duck.  His passing gave the family the opportunity to gather and share stories and pictures and be embraced by the love.  He would have loved the party we held in his honor.

We arrived early for the service, so stopped at a Starbucks for some coffee.  One of my cousin's sons was there with his family, and he told me he had something for me.  He presented me with a bag full of booklets that my Mom had given him years ago when he was writing a report for school on the history of aviation.  I was totally amazed when I got home and looked them over.  This is just a sampling.  They were all published in 1943.  I guess I should explain that my Dad was a Marine, and a Naval Aviator.  He flew a SBD dive bomber.
Now, we need to have a family meeting to decide what to do with these.  Terry wants to scan the covers for the artwork.  Maybe they will end up in a Flight Museum.  We shall see.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

On Line Dating in your 60's

Most people are amazed when they learn that Terry and I met through an on-line dating service.
Yes, it's true.
I was 61, lonely, and looking for some fun.  I didn't necessarily want to get married again, but wanted some male companionship.

I was on vacation with my brother in Palm Desert.  He had just met a woman on E_Harmony, and was pretty sure this would be his wife.  (They were married that year).  So, he sat me down and showed me the ropes.  I went through the lengthy process, answered all of the questions, and sat back and waited.  And waited.  After a few weeks, I got notification of some picks for me.  I saw there was a man from my home town, and I got a little excited, wondering who that could be.
When the picture came up, I was flabbergasted.  It was my brother!!!
I had always told him he needed a woman like me, but really.
I never made a connection on that site, but tried several others.  Most of the men who contacted me were frauds.  They prey on widows, but it's not hard to discern them.
I met a couple of nice men.  Actually had a few dates.
Then Terry contacted me, and the rest is history.
It was not smooth sailing.  I broke up with him three times, but eventually came to realize that I wanted and needed him in my life.
Thank you, Terry, for being patient with me and waiting.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

I Had a Farm in Nooksack

Last night, we started watching "Out of Africa".  At the beginning, Meryl Streep says:
I had a farm in Africa.  She said it with such feeling, it embraced everything I felt and the tears began to fall.  She said it two more times, and I was a goner.
I had a farm in Nooksack.

Leaving here was the hardest thing I ever did.
When my husband inherited a half interest in this farm in 1996, it was a derelict former dairy farm.
We maintained it for two years, with occasional visits, but it sat vacant during that time.

 Then we discovered alpacas.  We bought our first alpacas in 1998 and proceeded to convert the dairy farm to an alpaca friendly environment.  I moved to the farm in 2001 with 21 alpacas while my husband continued to work in Seattle and visit on the weekends to do the remodeling and heavy work.  I was there mostly by myself for 7 years before he retired.
I converted the grounds to a showcase, and created a business and store.
 The farm became a destination for tourists, including busloads from Seattle, Bellingham, and Canada.
Then my husband died in 2010, right before Christmas and my life was changed.
Leaving the farm was hard enough, but leaving the community was the worst.  The life I had in Nooksack was idyllic in many ways.  I had so many friends, and my church was the best.
More than anything, though, I needed to be closer to my family.
I was gratified the other day in talking with my son about it all, and he told me how relieved he and his brother were that I moved.  They worried so much about me there, and it was so difficult for them to come for a visit.
There were many factors involved in my halving to leave.
But I have found new happiness in my life with my new husband and my new community.
And I am happy to be closer to my family.