From the Desert to the Great Lakes

Portage Lake

Portage Lake

I have not written a blog in a very long time. I haven’t even been crafting much lately. I recently moved from Arizona to Michigan. In fact, I live next to a lake, not one of the Great Lakes, but a natural lake all the same. Michigan has a lot of small lakes and rivers. And rain.

For the past year I have been suffering from caregiver burnout. I was an unpaid caregiver for my disabled friend for about 8 years. I gave up working to take care of her. She is not able to move around much, and is very obese. I had a very small pension that I needed to contribute to the household, which means that I had no money to spend on myself, except for Christmas and birthday gift cards from my family.

Caregiver burnout is a very serious situation that you can easily find yourself in. When you are a caregiver, the person you are taking care of can be quite demanding, not in a dominating way, but constant “can you get me this”  so you are up and down and have little time to focus on your own needs. In Arizona, where I was living, there are adult day care centers and respite caregivers, and I really wish I could have been able to take advantage of the opportunities. The person I was caring for was extremely obese, and we simply could not afford to transport her anywhere, even if she had been willing to go someplace. Also, money was very tight and we couldn’t afford to have someone come in to give me respite, because I was not a priority, the person I was caring for was the focus of pretty much everything.  I was on call 24/7, with no days off, no vacation, and no understanding of the incredible amount of stress that builds up.

The symptoms of caregiver burnout are: (courtesy of helpguide.org)

  • Anxiety, depression, irritability
  • Feeling tired and run down
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Overreacting to minor nuisances
  • New or worsening health problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling increasingly resentful
  • Drinking, smoking, or eating more
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Cutting back on leisure activities

In retrospect, I had gotten to the point where I was suffering from almost all of these symptoms. In addition, her health had declined to the point where it was causing me physical pain to take care of her, because she was not able to do much. She became seriously ill, causing me to call 911. That’s when I snapped. I talked to my family members who live in Michigan, and I was offered the opportunity to move in with my brother. His wife has Parkinson’s Disease (yes, another caregiver job so to speak) and he needs to do a lot of traveling for his job. The difference is that I have family here that can pitch in, and my sister-in-law can do a lot of things for herself. What she needs is someone to be on hand to provide companionship more than anything else.

I recommend that anyone who is a caregiver, especially if they are feeling any of the above symptoms, stand up for yourself and demand help and time away. You can’t help anyone if you get sick.

The following websites are helpful resources for caregivers.

  • webmd.com
  • aarp.com
  • caring.com

If there is anyone out there who is a caregiver for someone with Parkinson’s Disease, please share any tips or resources.

Make sure to take care of yourself, so that you can take care of others

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Could I Live a Tiny House Lifestyle?

jacaranda in bloom

Jacaranda in Bloom

I have been watching a few of those Tiny House shows on television where people decide that they want to keep life simple, reduce their carbon footprint, or in the case of some young couples, build a starter home they can afford. The convenient thing, and perhaps the not so convenient thing, about tiny homes is that they are built on a mobile base and can be moved from location to location.  Since I am getting on in years now, I’ve been wondering if a tiny home is something I can live in. So, I have been building a fantasy Tiny Home in my mind. After all, a girl has to have dreams.

First off, I really only need space for a small bed and my simple wardrobe and my gigantic craft supply. I already have all of my stuff condensed into 1 ½ rooms, so in a way, I kind of live a tiny life style.  The only difference is I have access to a normal size kitchen and bathroom. There are some really nice sewing and craft storage/work surface furniture pieces that should work well in a tiny home situation. These storage pieces from companies such as Scrapbox and Koala Cabinets are designed to fold away, and hold your stuff. I am used to sleeping in a daybed, so having a bed that has storage under the bed would work just fine.

One of the things that I cannot do is to have my sleeping space in a loft. I have a pretty bad arthritic knee and climbing up and down a ladder or stairs is not feasible. I also want a space that is on the larger size, so I think around the 400 to 500 square foot option would be best for me. I could have a larger living area that would serve as my craft studio as well, with a separate space for sleeping. I would not need a large bathroom since I prefer to take showers. The nice thing about the tiny home design is that furniture usually can be made so that it has multiple uses.

The essentials:

  1. I would have to have the Internet. So what would be my best option? This is something that would need to be explored based on where I would end up parking the home.
  2. Solar power vs regular utilities? That is an interesting concept, but what would work best if I am going to be moved from place to place?
  3. A nice little deck or porch. Perhaps with space for container gardening.

And the best thing yet, is that I can be carted from one family member to another without packing my stuff.  Of course, I would actually have to have the money to build my fantasy tiny home, but what a lovely thing to think about.

A Short List of some Tiny Home Builders:

The Original Scrapbox: http://theoriginalscrapbox.com/

Koala cabinets: http://mykoalastudio.com/

My Beautiful Boy has been gone for two years

Artemus and two friends

Two years ago on Father’s Day, I lost my beloved Artemus to a quick illness. We don’t know for sure, but we think it was cancer. This is one of the last pictures I took of Artemus. He is the chocolate Cocker Spaniel on the right, Thor, a min-pin is in the middle, and Artemus’s baby brother Sinjun is the Cocker looking at the camera. These boys were all partners in crime, and the best of friends. Artemus was the nurturer and the leader of the little pack. He had the sweetest nature and he is still very much missed. We still have Thor and Sinjun, and we have been fostering a greyhound mix named Rawhide.

It’s amazing how much love these little dogs give, and I feel so blessed having had Artemus in my life.

Okay, I did it, I got a Kindle Fire

6 inch Fire HD with caseI have joined the 21st Century technology crowd. I bought a tablet, the small, 6 inch Kindle Fire. I want to wade into the technology pool at the shallow end. I’m still not getting a cell phone. I spent way too many years of my life answering phones; why the heck would I want to take one with me? I only talk on the phone when I have to. Most of my family lives someplace other than Arizona (why?), so most of our contact is through Facebook.

I like the 6 inch Fire HD because I have small hands, and it fits just right, and I can surf the web, read a book or play games. I have decided that I will not be using my tablet for email or Facebook, because I prefer an actual keyboard for typing. I can also watch videos, but why? I have Netflix and a big TV at home for that.

Hope everyone is having a great start to their new year. I’ll be playing with my Kindle Fire.

Catherine

Me vs Vines

vinesI may have mentioned in previous blogs that I am a caregiver for a disabled friend. This means that I retired a little earlier than I had planned because she needs some assistance for a lot of day-to-day things. One thing that she is not able to do is tackle yard work. My friend needed to have her property appraised (property values in our neighborhood have been rising) and we were advised that there were a few things that needed to be done to the property to increase the value.

The main issue was the swimming pool, because just as soon as we had an appraiser scheduled, the pool filter died. Well, one of the housemates is certified in all things swimming pool, so she has tackled this issue (bless her heart) and worked her little tail off. The result is that we now have a new filter and a clean swimming pool. Between work and the pool the poor darling is exhausted.

I volunteered to clip the vines. I have to admit because of some health issues I had fallen down on the job. The vines are cat claw vines, from the neighbor’s back yard, that have been climbing over the fence and covering the north side of the house. There has been an ongoing battle between the vines and the circuit box. In past years I have tackled these vines about twice a year. I have just done some minimal clipping the past couple of years because my energy was pretty low. Now that I am on the right kind of medication, I have energy again.  So my task was to clip away all of those encroaching vines on the north side of the house, and the west corner where the electrical stuff is.

vines2We had about a week-and-a-half to take care of all of this stuff, in Arizona, in July, during the monsoon season. Needless to say I clipped vines in between dust storms, thunderstorms and 100 plus degree weather. Wisely, I chose to do all this work in the early morning.  There is still the big bush to take care of, but we have someone coming in a week or so to take care of that. I’m exhausted!