Friday, September 6, 2013

This Blog Has Moved!

This past weekend, I registered Soapbox By Kay with its own URL and moved over to Wordpress. I won't be removing these posts, but all that's here has been copied over there and all new posts will henceforth be found at

If you have been receiving this blog in your email inbox, and wish to continue, you will need to sign up again over there.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I Just Wanted a Nice Pair of Boots

Every once in awhile, I decide there's some item I actually want badly enough to make a foray into a department store or two. A few months ago, it was boots. I wanted a pair of non-Western-style boots to wear with skirts on the occasional colder days. I thought my requirements were pretty simple: leather, moderate-to-low heel, side zipper, attractive design suitable for work. Below is a small sample of what I found.

Here's the "break-a-leg" boot, perhaps for aspiring thespians.

And the Harley girl biker boots.

Neither of which are made from anything that's ever been near a cow.

And then there's these lovely open-toed pumps in an array of colors to match any ensemble.

Ok, I realize the last couple of pictures aren't of boots, but shoe departments any more are like sartorial train wrecks - absolutely horrible, but you just can't look away. When I was 20-something, heels this high were referred to as "hooker shoes". I would feel way older except that my now-20-something daughter agrees with me. 

I still don't have any dress boots.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Banana Babies

Many years ago (damn it!), the Dairy Queen that was on MacArthur Blvd., one block away from MacArthur High School, would freeze bananas on a stick and then dip them in the chocolate shell they used for dipped cones. This process turned an ordinary piece of fruit into something of surpassing wonderfulness.

When I was extremely pregnant with my daughter (also many years ago, damn it!), I went for a check-up on a Monday, and was told something to the effect of: "Wow - you could have this baby almost anytime! Come in tomorrow for an induction so we can be sure you won't be delivering tomorrow evening in Houston rush-hour traffic. And don't eat anything after midnight." The local Dairy Queen drive-through closed at 11:00 pm, so I went up there at 10:55 pm in order to have my very favorite food item just before going NPO at midnight.

As the independently-owned Dairy Queens across North Texas were closed or bought out by a large conglomerate that marketed only DQ-branded items, frozen chocolate-dipped bananas became harder and harder to find. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in the outlet mall in Terrell sells them. I guess the one in Grapevine Mills probably does, too. And you can sometimes find them at county and state fairs, but it's not a regular or reliable thing. And since I moved to Tampa, none of those places have been available. *sigh*

But - a couple of years ago, I discovered Diana's Banana Babies! Right in the freezer at my supermarket! Half a banana, frozen on a stick, and dipped in chocolate! With choices! Milk Chocolate! Dark Chocolate! Rolled in Nuts! So yummy. So simple. And I no longer get those crazy looks from the kids at random DQ drive-throughs from my wistfully asking if they have frozen chocolate-dipped bananas.

Life is good.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Camp NaNoWriMo - July 2013 Edition

I've still got my mug from last year.

And I've just ordered my t-shirt!

What's Camp NaNoWriMo, you ask? According to the website, it's "an idyllic writer's retreat, smack dab in the middle of your crazy life." The summer version of November's National Novel Writing Month, it allows those of us who are more solar-powered to participate in a writing frenzy that coincides with being fully charged, not to mention having a full extra day and not competing with Thanksgiving.
I have a title, a mere kernal of an idea, but no plot to speak of, which, according to the founder of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty, is actually no problem at all. We'll see, anyway.

The goal is to write a minimum of 50,000 words during the course of the month, with the idea that 50,000 words is the size of some fine short novels, and of a size to be revised into something that might actually turn into a real thing. In NaNoWriMos past, I have gotten as far along as about 22,000 words. Anyone who reaches the 50,000 word mark "wins". I am planning on being in the winners' campfire circle at next month's Camp.

When you see me in July, be sure and ask me how the novel is coming. And don't accept any hemming or hawing or lame excuses. I need the social pressure and fear of public ridicule to keep me from kicking back and eating s'mores while watching the endless supply of Big Bang Theory re-runs on our DVR. My sincerest thanks in advance, even if I don't seem particularly appreciative at that time.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mother and the Dementia Paradigm Shift

(Please note: this is a stock photo, not Mom's scan.)

This past Tuesday, Mother and I headed over to USF for her first-ever MRI.  She did wonderfully, and they got very good images, which they then handed to us on a CD to carry to our later appointment at the Byrd Alzheimer's Institute. After a nice lunch at Panera, we were able to make our noon appointment with Dr. Fargher with 10 minutes to spare.

While I waited in the lobby, Dr. Fargher escorted Mother back for an MMSE and evaluation. Afterward, it was my turn in the doctor's office to talk about the results. Mother scored higher on the MMSE this time than she did when we visited two years ago. This does not usually happen. What made the biggest difference was one item that last time Mother didn't even try, saying "I can't", that this time she attempted and got 4 out of 5 points for. I told Dr. Fargher that when we had visited before, Mother had only just started going to the Neighborly Care Network senior center, and for the past 1.5 years or so, she has been attending three days per week.

With the report Dr. Fargher had received from the imaging lab, and the CD I had in hand, we looked at the brain images together which showed some overall shrinkage (not uncommon given Mom's age), very little shrinkage in the areas of the brain normally connected with Alzheimer's, and a couple of spots indicating small strokes (ischemic incidents, for you medically-oriented family members). This indicates that most of Mother's dementia is actually vascular in origin.

We also talked about Mom's hearing loss, and the doctor mentioned that she had to resort to using a pen and paper to clarify some of the questions, and Mother was able to easily understand and answer, even doing fairly well on remembering a set of three words, after they were written down. The doctor suggested we keep a whiteboard handy at home for times when Steve or I didn't feel like we were getting an idea across. We decided that Mother's current meds were all good, and that there was no reason to set up regular appointments, but to call if any additional problems arose.

This really changes everything! 

The length of time from diagnosis of Alzheimer's to death is usually 3-7 years, depending on what stage the person is when evaluated. Since Mom's initial diagnosis for Alzheimer's-type Dementia back in 2007 (no MRI done at that time), I've been worrying about how I would handle her inevitable decline, starting with having to work part-time so I'd be home with her anytime she wasn't at the senior center, and of not being able to leave her alone even for short periods of time. I've been waiting for the horrible eventuality of Mom deteriorating into some mere shell of herself, not remembering anything or recognizing anyone.  

For vascular dementia, if the stroke risk is addressed, then relatively normal functioning can be maintained indefinitely. All this time, I just thought that her meds were working really well, as the decline we've seen is really minimal, and the memory loss patchy and not interfering that much with her daily functioning. (You don't really need to remember what a hush puppy is in order to fix yourself a sandwich for lunch.)

With the realization that a lot of Mom's seeming inability to grasp what we're telling her is probably directly linked to her hearing loss, my falling-off-to-sleep self wondered last night about the possibility of us all learning some basic sign language. I already know how to sign "thank you" and "good morning" - maybe Mom and I will start working on that today.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Morning Walks

Low energy. Low mood. I know, as a mental health professional, that the first, best offense against depression is to get one's heart rate up over 120, at least 3x per week. But I really enjoy being sedentary. I've actually developed a bit of a reputation among family and friends as being particularly exercise-averse. Partly due to all the icky sweating involved. *shudder*

Anyway, the mental health advocate in my head somehow overcame the websurfer office-chair potato and I found myself donning sweatpants, one of Steve's old Buc's t-shirts and my sneakers, with the crazy notion that a little exercise might not do me any real harm and could perhaps do me a little good. Bella heard the sound of the velcro on my shoes and came trotting in to see if this might be a dog-walking opportunity. Why not, I thought. I prepared a Responsible Pet Owner Dog-Poop Pick-Up Kit (a plastic grocery bag and 4 paper towels) and we headed out.

Day 1 of Walking with The Dog: 4/10 miles to the park, 4/10 mile back, brisk walk. My walking mantra: "Come on, Bella!" I worked up a little sweat and Bella was puffing a little by the time we made it back to the house. And no poop to clean up! Hooray! Maybe she does that at night!

Day 2 of Walking with The Dog: This time I decide to take a little longer walk, around the block and along the Mobbly Bayou walking trail, probably about 1.4 miles total. Shortly after we leave the house, she wraps her leash around a tree, and when I try to pull her back around it, she puts her head down and slips out of the harness. I pick up the harness, and after only five commands  to "Sit!", I get the leash attached to her collar. Before we are halfway through the walk, dog poop happens. Darn it! That's ok, though - I have my RPODPPU Kit from yesterday. I quickly clean up after her, we're off again, and I'm able to deposit the bag in the trash can at the beginning of the walking trail. We make it back to the house as Steve is getting ready to leave for work. I get a hug and a kiss and an "Ew! You're all sweaty!" I love you, too, dear.

Day 3 of Walking with The Dog: I get dressed, and Bella comes running when she hears the velcro on my shoes. She is impatient and starts talking to me about how slow I'm being. It takes 3 tries to get the harness on because she won't sit still long enough for me to complete the process. Short walk again this morning, to the park and back. I've replenished supplies in the RPODPPU Kit, which is good because just as we turn around at the park, doggie nature calls. All four feet on the grass, but with her butt hanging over the sidewalk, I give her a swift nudge to change the target to the grass, and just totally interrupt her mojo. Now she's spooked, won't be still while I clean up after her, and has grass hanging out of her butt. I think/hope that on the walk back to the house, she will get the urge again, but no, it's gone, and once we get home, I get to exhaust paper towels in my RPODPPU Kit wiping her and pulling the rest of the grass out so I can let her go in the house. She does not seem to find this any more amusing than I do. And I think I'm getting shinsplints.

These walks have really not been the meditative experience I had hoped. Maybe we'll both get the hang of it soon.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Travel Help Epiphany

I like to read. On long trips, I would like to read in the car. But until our most recent trip, I was never able to do so due to motion sickness. If the car is moving, I can't even look at the map for more than 30 seconds before getting queasy. As we were preparing for our recent Thanksgiving Trip To Texas, I remembered the medication I had gotten for a bout of vertigo several weeks ago.

Bonine is an antiemetic marketed to combat motion sickness. It worked beautfully. I was able to use my cushion-backed lapdesk for my daily journaling and also read almost all of The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging on the drive home. I may never get to drive the truck, but when Steve and I hit the road next spring pulling the new travel trailer, I'll have lots of time for reading.