Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween from...

Our Pink Puppy Princess!

Coffee Jangles

During my early college years I learned that coffee was a no-go. It took a ruined stomach to convince me to drink decaf. I was working summers and school holidays at the Polar Corporation in Worcester, Massachusetts. Early on it became clear that sugar and caffeine don't work well for me, so I switched to coffee during breaks.

While I bottled soda, I couldn't bear to drink it. Everything is perfectly clean, antiseptic even, but the ingredient listing was not lost on me. And this was just as corn syrup was being introduced in place of sugar. To this day, soda pop holds no temptation for me. But I loved coffee, and drank it in place of sweet drinks and milk.

Until I wrecked my stomach. The diet wouldn't allow caffeine, and soon I realized that I was--quite--sensitive to the stuff. All well and good, right? Wrong. Decaf made a worse mess of my gut.

Of course today we know that decaffeinated coffee is largely junk. Because the process requires huge amounts of natural coffee, the manufacturers use the worst grade of coffee that they dare to use. I was ruining my stomach with very poor stuff that resulted from processing huge amounts of bad stuff to start. And compound that with instant decaf, it's a wonder I could convince myself I was drinking coffee.

What to do? Trust me on this one:

I buy the very best decaf I can afford. After all, I am the only one who uses it; it lasts forever. And it's definitely worth the extra money. Hands down.

Right now there is Folgers Classic Decaf in my cupboard, both regular grind and instant. I have not carefully gone over the local stores for better, but I will when it comes time to restock. That may be months in the future.

When I'm out and about, Dunkin Donuts seems the best cheapie chain, but almost any of the Big Name coffee house companies that charge all outdoors will top DD. Finally, if you readers are ever in Elmira, New York, I recommend Kountry Krullers. Their fresh doughnuts and bagels put DD to shame. And their decaf coffee is always excellent. And everything they have is Kosher; they are the top supplier of rolls and bagels to our local restaurants, kosher or not.

Am I the only MSer who is sensitive to caffeine, or is it a regular part of the nervous syndrome?

Little Pond

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Notes on the Fairy Tale Wedding

Mr. and Mrs. PapaDog having their first married kiss. Then we danced all night. I can't leave the house today because I can't walk and I'm hypoglycemic from the rich foods. So, all in all, it was a huge success. Pictures will follow.

Monday Morning Musings:

This was a relatively good-sized wedding with just over a hundred people. My family, his family, and their rather wide circle of friends. We are very fortunate that we've come to know many of those friends along the way.

The kids themselves paid for the Inn and the lodgings, as well as the beer and wine (Yes!). We backed them up wherever we could and paid for the reception and the rehearsal dinner (which was catered by a friend's mom, also as a gift). I was marginally involved with the process from the beginning. She made favors and placecards.

On a spiritual note: my little girl mentioned a while ago that there was a place that she would choose if we had the money. It was beautiful and remote. Apparently we have passed our "old house" genes to her. When she came to me this summer, she reminded us of the place and said they were going up to have a look, if only to get an idea of the "champagne ideal" they could shoot for on a "beer budget."

The owner was very busy with a wedding weekend and somewhat brusque with our baby. BrideDaughter mentioned her rather hopeless aspiration and left. A few days later the call came that there was a cancellation and would she be interested if they discounted the price? They would require a cash deposit.

I knew at once that Someone was working for us. My sister also told me that she had a premonitory dreams that our Grandparents were urging us on. This weekend my mother said she was certain God wanted a beautiful wedding.

Our newlyweds live in a very, very modest home. Only my son-in-law works, while MammaDog finishes her degree, which she must pay on her own. They scoured the area for a caterer that met the requirements of the Inn. A local mom&pop had suffered a devastating fire that ruined their facilities and are now working from a tiny storefront in town. They are lovely people. They turned out to be the least expensive of the good places, surprisingly so. I took a loan against my 401K, and paid in cash. They decorated the tables with simple hurricane-lamp style candles, nothing more. They also provided a three tiered chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

Because the food was excellent and the setting itself was sumptuous, we were able to keep everything simple. We also eliminated anything that became a problem. As a result, there was no promenade through the autumn woods, and guests were driven by our groomsmen and their friends from the chapel to the Inn. Husband RJ and I chose to spearhead a return walk along the paved road, during which there was a sunshower and a rainbow leading to the Inn and the lake! We also eliminated the reception line; everyone was hungry.

The girls were crying (during the ceremony), but I never did. In fact, I behaved like a Precinct Boss, hitting the tables and urging everyone to party hearty. Our photographer is a neighbor, as well as the mother of the best man. Her services were also a wedding gift. She kept the studio-style shots to a minimum and was good natured throughout the evening. Many people brought those cheap, disposable cameras and we provided some to non-photography partiers.

Sunday would have been a day of rest, but VeggieGirl had a health scare, when an ugly node appeared suddenly on her leg. After six hours in the ER, which RJ and I shared, three hours apiece, we were relieved to find out it wasn't a blood vessel ready to burst, but a badly infected (staph) ingrown follicle. My girls get very curly hair from Scottish ancestors on both sides. She will need to rest a few days, so I will enjoy her company. It was the first time I felt like crying all weekend.

Would I do it all again? I'd better. VeggieGirl is next, but not in the foreseeable future.

Praise the Lord.

Little Pond

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wedding Weekend 2006

I'm cheating on this one. MammaDog was a bride for Halloween of 1986. There will probably be posts, but they will be attached to this picture all weekend. Same for the Little Pond.

Thank goodness I have MS. It gives me an excuse to stop scrubbing carpets and floors for a while. The Massachusetts guests begin arriving today. BabySister and her hubby will check in to help with last minute details. BrideDaughter, who is also MammaDog, will work with VeggieGirl to prepare favors and placecards tonight. They will be making candied apples, wrapped in cellophane and tagged with name cards. BabySister will assist me in hemming my pants.

Sure do hope we finish the pants before we finish the bottle of New York State wine...

Little Pond

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


No, not my smallest cat. Numb patches, like my good buddy in PA talks about.

I never thought much about them, because I thought they were all in my head. You know, the "feelings are not facts," sort of thing. So many of the other MS bloggers talk about numb digits and numb patches that I am beginning to conclude that they do exist.

The amount of stress that I enjoy can often be quantified by the number of numb patches I currently experience. Right now, I have patches in my inner thighs, outer thighs, knees and my left little pinkie. Also my cheeks, the ones on my face and the lower portions of my lower portions.

The BrideDaughter stopped by today to fill me in on her current crises. Not enough money for alcoholic libations during the reception that we are footing. To put it very mildly, I am conflicted over this one. We are already shelling out over $4000 for the reception, and I had left the alcohol up to her. Most in my generation and older will not drink past the toast, because the wedding is a 45 minute ride from Little Pond. We do not wish to attract the attention of the local smokies. On the other hand, we don't want to lessen the party atmosphere with an announcement that the host is out of wine. (Unless of course, budding Messiahs happen to be present. In that case we will prepare some extra large vats of water.)

Other crisis: the expected trouble between the various (divorced, separated, feuding) families is already raising it ugly head. Spite, innuendo, misunderstanding are all meeting together where these kids are getting married: surely hilarity will ensue. I told her everything will work out, that weddings are always like that, kissed her and sent her on her way.

Now even my nose is a numb patch.

Little Pond

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More on Shoes...

One commenter below caught my attention. He mentions a brand name that can sometimes be very expensive, and that's the point of this post. It is easy to spend the extra money when we know the quality will be worth it.

For men, Florsheims would be my choice--If anyone were asking--for a mens shoe that is good for the foot.

When we lived in the DC area, Husband RJ was nearly crippled by his cheap shoes--eveything including the bloody socks. We walked into a good shoe store and explained the situation. He was properly fitted for Florsheims. These are now very, very hard to find, but David Taylor is another good brand that's less costly.

The trick is to go to a very long established shoe store with a very old, old employee, from back in the day when they knew how to fit shoes. They measure six ways to Christmas and feel the shoe with their hands when it is on the foot of the customer, who must be standing up.

This works for women too. I learned it when my kids were little and Panosians was the place for that sort of service in Elmira, NY. The ladies taught me a lot over the childhoods of my girls.

Fit is everything. The shoe must fit exactly, so the available sizes must include all the letters (A to E), not just narrow, medium and wide. And all the sizes, including the half sizes. When the shoe properly fits, then we don't need to wonder if our feet are being damaged.

The employee will also use a shoe stretcher for the trouble spots that are customer specific, although you can do this yourself at home. I don't want to say "saleperson" when talking about the fitting professional. The difference is huge. A real fitter will not sell you a shoe if you aren't properly fitted.

The cost needn't be horrifying, either. I'd say $70 to $90 would be a fair price for either mens or womens shoes. Not too bad for a shoe you will wear until the whole world is sick of looking at them, including yourself.

A properly fitted shoe ought also be good for dyeing. For that you need a leatherworker or a cobbler (a shoe repair place). You can dye the vinyl shoes yourself, but leather dye comes only in neutrals now, and needs to be mixed.

I have shoes that feel really wrong, but that's dysaethesia. At the end of the day, I remove the shoes, and if there is no redness or hot spots (that I can feel with my hands) then the shoes have done no damage. Feelings are not facts, although it pays to make sure the foot is okay. Like anything else with MS we have to be good observers.

Too much work? Not for a shoe bug.

Little Pond

Monday, October 09, 2006

Shoe Bugs come out of the closet

The shoe closet, that is. Check with Sherry/ Have Myelin for the beginning of the debate, and read the comments. This is one topic that hits home.

I had to respond. Me and my big mouth and big opinions. But I do have some experience worth sharing here. I just didn't start with it. The best I have to offer is recent experience.

My Blogsister, Karen of Scottsdale, has another facet of the discussion, in the comments. Like it or not, I have an opinion on that, too.

Two Words: Space Shoes

Way, way, way back in the 1970's I worked for an orthotics-prosthetics place run by a man and his son who were practically born to the business. Back then, only the Beautiful People would consider Space Shoes, because they had to be ordered through a doctor, with a prescription. I don't think that is the case anymore.

Google "space shoes.". They used to be very expensive and I would bet they are quite pricey still. Some people can actually go through their doctor and their insurance or MedicAid will pay much of it. It wouldn't hurt to ask.

When considering the cost, keep in mind that they will simply last forever. For me, fancy shoes always last until I am sick of looking at the outdated things, years and years. I don't wear them often enough, but I do keep and do wear them. Because my feet are such a problem, I spend enough to buy what fits exactly. Comfort doesn't exist in my feet. Dysaethesia does.

Caveat: Be sure to specify--and stress--that COSMESIS is very important to you. Otherwise you will get shoes that match your feet, with some companies. I would love to believe that they know better now, but it was quiet a sticking point back then. If you don't get what you want, send them back for reworking.

They won't be Nine West, but they will be adorable. And quite smart!