I want to write a book. That’s not news. It’s in the back of my mind just about all of the time. But, I have a million ideas about the kind of book to write. Then, I had an issue this week.  I let the prescription for my SSNRI lapse.

It was unintentional. I had guests and I let them distract me (I also missed an MRI appointment I had scheduled). Next thing I know, it’s the weekend and I’m out of this medication.


The acronym SSNRI stands for selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. I take it for my Fibromyalgia, my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), my depression, and it also has an impact on my dust, pollen, and mold allergy symptoms. For some reason, I kept delaying calling in the prescription refill.   Mainly because I knew they were expired and the pharmacy would have to call my doctors and I knew I should call as early as possible. Then, in general, I just procrastinate as part of my depression and such.

Yes, you read that right, doctors and prescriptions plural. Originally, my Gastroenterologist prescribed an SSRI (close, but not quite the same thing). Actually, she was a Nurse Practitioner (NP), but she was very helpful and did a lot of blood work for me when I first started having FM symptoms. When I finally ended up at the Rheumatologist, she prescribed an SSNRI and I ended up calling my Gastro Nurse Practitioner and asking if I could swap the two.   Later, I asked my Primary Care Physician if I should up my dose because I can’t get out of bed in the morning. She added a second pill to my dose.

Monday evening I called in the prescription refill and talked to a person at the pharmacy. I had a quilt class Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, at the place I work. I also had a staff meeting at the same place Tuesday afternoon. I work selling Sewing machines anywhere from zero to 36 hours every two weeks. Sometimes getting out of the house is a great thing for me to do and it’s the catalyst for me to get up and do things with my day. Working a full day is generally too much, but I do it and come home and do nothing else the rest of the day.


At Tuesday’s meeting, I talked to a fellow employee with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and discovered that everyone seems to have issues when they reduce or go off their SSNRI. This was great confirmation for me because I had been feeling funny all day after 2-3 nights without that medicine. I woke up late for my class on Tuesday morning and I heard the pharmacy leaving a message that both doctors offices said they had no record of me. I stumbled out to the car anyway to go to class since I’d been late to class the day before and knew my boss would be annoyed with me that. At first, I thought the stumbling was lack of sleep. Though I likely got more sleep than I think I did, I felt like I was waking up every 15 minutes either in pain or gasping for air because of my congestion. After I scraped the idea to go to class, I realized I was feeling sort of, well maybe it could be called dizzy but it was weirder. It was sort of like being drunk, but not. I had the feeling that my body was turning to the right.

I resolved my prescriptions and by bedtime on Tuesday, I felt almost normal. But, I lost pretty much all of Tuesday and part of Monday. This is where I think there is something missing out there—knowledge that a large portion of the population has these invisible disabilities that might impact their life in small ways every day or might impact their life in huge ways. I feel like the average Joe doesn’t know how much these illnesses impact people’s lives.

The little symptoms I had when I was first seeking a diagnosis were annoying but not totally debilitating. Mostly, I spent a good portion of my weekend sleeping or just sitting to try and recover the energy I expended during the week. About 6 months later, my symptoms flared. I remember sitting on my couch, in pain all over that wouldn’t respond to Advil or Tylenol, and thinking that my life as I knew it was over. At the time, I could not see being able to go to concerts or walk around museums or go hiking or pretty much anything any one does for entertainment. It was depressing. After starting the SSNRI, my pain got a lot better during the day. I continued to use topical ointments like Icy Hot and Ben Gay to sleep at night. It took about 5 months for the pain to go away altogether, but it took a couple of years to not be paranoid that whatever I did might send me back into that unrelenting pain I’d been experiencing. Lots of things cause a temporary spike of pain, but I have not had more than a day or two of pain since that original flare of symptoms.



In the information I’ve read about FM over these past few years, I noticed that medical experts do not recommend quitting your job. I left because I felt I needed to have the option of working at home and my bosses told me I couldn’t do that anymore. I didn’t do what I needed to do with the Employee Resources I had at my disposal. At the time, I felt like it was all I could do to get my work done and the most basic of home, child, and self care tasks.  Plus, I was pretty sure I wasn’t disabled enough to get disability retirement.

Now, I wonder how? How can I possibly get a new job when I need so much time to take care of myself? How can I get into a pay scale similar to the one I had at FDA ($50/hour)? How can I go to school to gain credentials? How can I restart when I’m 55 years old and I have no energy?




I haven’t written in awhile.  My apologies.

About a month ago, my Father’s sister died; his only sibling.  She was the last of my blood relatives from that generation. You might think this seems an odd way to put it, until you get to this point. It feels like another level of being orphaned.

BRock moss

Actually, the gut punch of being on the precipice of losing this generation came several years ago, when I saw my Aunt for the first time in many years.  My Aunt and Uncle traveled a lot, but I lived well outside their regular route.  We met at my sisters. My Aunt’s health had started to decline and she looked different.  Being the youngest of the cousins on both sides, I think, sometimes causes me to shirk larger responsibilities.  I know I have raised two children to college age, managed my house, had a job with large responsibilities, etc., but the thought of not having the safety net of a generation older than mine around seems scary.

The loss of another relative also brings up memories of my parents’ deaths. I have always seen my their deaths as falling on the opposite ends of the spectrum.  Dad had a heart attack at 66 years old; well before I had thought it necessary to prepare myself mentally for it. He lingered for a little more than a year while I learned to count on my sister for updates as my mother kept insisting he was getting better.  In hindsight, I know Mom was not only dealing with the truth in the limited way she could handle it, but also battling the onset of her dementia.

We then spent the next 15 years or so watching Mom deteriorate from Alzheimers and similar dementia causing diseases.  It’s a different kind of pain to watch a parent lose aspects of themselves and then basic abilities.  There were still glimmers of her personality that showed to the end.

This is just a brief summary of how I recall the whole thing, in summary. My sister experienced it differently.

cardinal mug

My Aunt loved cardinals and she collected mugs with their image.  I went on vacation right after the memorial service and their was a cardinal picture on the wall in my hotel room.  I think she was saying “Hi.”


Working on the House

I’ve been busy.  I went to Kentucky twice to see my oldest daughter.  She graduated last Sunday with a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education and poised to take a job as a teacher for pre-school or Kindergarden for next Fall.  Meanwhile, she works at a private school for daycare/camp over the summer.  My younger daughter is finishing High school and had her first of two Proms tonight.

I’ve also been looking at job ads and planing a 3 part approach to income:  a local part time job, an Etsy store, and a writing (poetry and children’s books to keep it small for awhile). In addition to trying to build inventory and work on my art/writing skills, I’m cleaning up the house and getting rid of stuff.  Also, I’m trying to make the house more functional.  My bathtub was cleaned up several weeks ago.  And then, I filled it with curing soap.


The picture above is a small sampling.  I had these racks and racks of soap and no room to wash my hand knits.  I moved some to the shelf across from the shower and realized that wasn’t going to do it.  It wasn’t enough room and it suddenly occurred to me that maybe less humidity would be better.


So, I took an old shoe rack and mounted it on the wall with these copper brackets from the plumbing aisle at Home Depot.


I used these E-Z Ancor wall anchors because they worked by just hammering the anchor into the wall.  I chose them to cut out some steps.  As you can see from the photo, I was moderately successful with the anchors.  But since I didn’t check for studs that may have been the issue.  The anchors do split while you’re “nailing” them in if they run into too much resistance.

In the end, I have this great rack for drying and curing soaps in a cool dry room.


And even though I won’t make soap to sell, I will continue to make soap for personal use, friends, and family.  I really love making it.  Its such a fun transformation to watch and play with.

So, I am slowly emptying out our storage units.  Plus, I am working towards some employment goals.  I will try and continue to add a blog post here and there.  Keep you up to date on my progress and add a pet picture once in awhile.







This child just graduated High School.  The cat is still around-he survived the awkward hold just fine (its not as bad as it looks).  He’s our orange striped cat.

Save me from Pinterest

I am cruising Pinterest and I found these great ideas for bracelets. (Just see my Pinterest Other crafts board.)  And next thing I know, I’m buying supplies on Etsy and looking for patterns. So, yet again, I’m building supplies I don’t have room for.

In the big picture, this is small potatoes.  However, it makes me think about how 1) I have no income coming in and 2) how much I’m not doing about that.


Sometimes, I feel like I spend my days wondering what to do with this mess I’ve made. I waffle between various options for a solution to the problem.  I keep looking for what feels right after a ‘lifetime’ of being in job where I felt like I wasn’t where I should be.  The items I’m considering are mainly focused on writing–modern fiction (novel or short story), time travel fiction, memoir, or poetry.

Then, as I noted in one of my soap posts, I considered making soap and selling it online. Its seems a simple transition.  With minimal effort on my art, I have 7 batches of soap. The smallest batch being 6 bars, I probably have more than 60 bars of soap.  Then, I thought maybe liquid soap would make more sense because its seems more popular in general.  I was considering this enough that I started reading some stuff on it and making some spreadsheets on costs verses going prices per bar.


many soap4 mod.JPG

Before I got too far, however, I had my cooking moment on Super Bowl weekend.  Its not quite the same.  That is, I put the ingredients for soap together the night before, so I’m not on my feet for as much time as when I’m chopping tomatoes and such for pico de gallo.  So, maybe I could work around bad days and not over stress myself.IMG_1781 Maybe I could make soap a few times a week and keep up with demand.  I could start by giving away to friends and family (which will happen no matter what).


Then, I realized that starting even an online business requires a lot of effort–advertising and packaging.  More stock and actually writing down what I fragrance was used so I can make it again.  Further, Soap is regulated as a cosmetic by FDA (as this article from Soap Queen reminded me) and requires compliance with labeling requirements and good manufacturing practices, etc.  I probably wouldn’t be able to make soap in my kitchen for sale purposes.  I also watch Shark Tank and they always say starting a business doesn’t mesh with having a life.  I may not be that bad off.  I am not house bound, but I also have some limitations.

I also considered investment for a few weeks.  I took some money thats already invested in mutual funds and invested in some individual stocks.  I was following recommendations from a subscription investment service.  After reading the newsletters for several weeks, I realized that it bored me.  Not only that, but clearly if it was easy every one would be making money hand over fist.  Well, duh.  Why did it take me a month to figure that out?  I think my reasoning came from my craft experience–if you can give me instructions, I can learn it.  BUT, investing requires an ability to predict the future.  Plus, obviously, its just not the same as making a physical something.


My daughter gave me a basic story line for the picture book we’re working on and I am having a resurgence in interest on that.  I’m trying to draw every day to help develop my skills and I am working on watercolor painting.  A part of me thinks this is crazy too, but I have been drawing for years just not seriously.  I used to sit in meetings and draw the people in the meeting (large meetings are great for this).  I drew my dogs and cats.  I bought my kids drawing books and showed them how to use them.  I really like doing this. Its fun to draw these pictures and if I work enough they feel like they look good.  And its okay even preferable maybe they look a little cartoon-y rather than realistic.  We are working on the text together.  

Maybe I can focus on this picture book and I’m also working on my poetry.  I want to try some traditional forms for poetry.  Two things seems a reasonable number of pursuits to put my energy into.


Keeping Busy

I should be writing or illustrating, but instead, I’m making things.  I wasn’t being productive at all.  My daughter wants to write a children’s book with me, but she is finishing her last semester of school and she’s very busy.  So, we are having trouble making much progress.  I’ve been drawing, but its here story and I feel stuck until we discuss the story further.

Cat cartoon xmastree


This is my drawing comparing the lemon in my water at a restaurant to the christmas tree in the water my cats are drinking.

So, as I said, feeling stalled.  I’m working on my drawing, but I needed more, so I was finishing some projects and I made some more soap.  It also helped distract me from losing Tucker (separate post).  Four batches in about 10 days. And this is what I learned: I’m impatient.

So, scientific method says you change one thing in an recipe at a time to seem what effect the change has.  Instead, at least twice, I took the ingredients and changed the mold type and method of manipulating the soap.

LOL soap

The first batch was simple, Lots of Lather recipe from Soap Queen.  I split the batch into mini batches and added different labcolors and fragrance.  It set pretty fast.  I was mushing the soap into silicone molds like frosting and trying to smooth it out.  The soap was ready to un-mold in less than 12 hours.

I figured I had basic soap under my belt and I wanted to do something more advanced.  I picked a spin technique mentioned on Soap Queen (search spin) and Aaron’s Hazelnut soap from the book Smart Soapmaking by Anne Watson.

Hazelnut soap crop

The picture shows the bottom of the soap.  The spin technique requires soap thats thin enough to move when the mold is moved.  This soap was too thick to move almost the minute I mixed the oils and the lye water together.  I picked great colors, but at the end, I wash (again) spreading soap like frosting.  I swirled the colors a little with a spatula about half to 3/4 of the way through.  But, apparently the bottom is still nearly all white (and the top is nearly all black).

I read some more and realized that if I wanted to spin my soap it needed to be thinner than other thin recipes.  So, I picked the recipe that Soap Queen uses for the Psychedelic Spin Swirl.   BUT, I wanted to use my 5 pound loaf mold.  The one from Bramble Berry with the removable bottom and then I would manipulate the colors a little with each other.  So, I made the lye water the night before and mixed together the oils ahead of time and I mixed it very, very lightly–all in the name of keeping the soap from getting too thick too fast.  Halfway through, I think maybe its not mixed enough, so I blend each color extra.  But, if I really didn’t mix it well, the oil to lye ratio might be wrong and I might end up with unusable soap (not to mention that each color might be a different composition).  The biggest problem, though, was that the soap leaked out of the mold.  Oops!  Bad recipe and mold combination!  I put extras soap in my silicone cube mold as (mostly) individual colors.

sludge soap6

There are some cracks in the loaf.  Plus, although I’ve started to un-mold, I had to stop because its too mushy.  You can see below that my cubes are mushy as well.



We will have to wait a few weeks to see how these turn out.


See my next post for more soap making.


I went to football game over the weekend.  I drove 9 hours to get there on Friday.  We stayed in a hotel with kind of hard beds.  We walked to breakfast and then to the game.  And we turned around and drove home on Sunday another 9 hours.


And I felt great.  It was almost like being a normal person.  I was worried about it because I have these days where I am exhausted and I just don’t want to get out of bed.  I was exhausted when I got home of course and the next day I slept a lot. But, Wow!

Then on Tuesday, I went to our Aquatic Center and went swimming!  Before noon! It was a bit tiring and I didn’t ‘swim’ much, but it felt good.  I got home and wrote 2000 words in my memoir!

  Swimmin Dogs

(picture courtesy of my husband, Paul Kopp)

I went again on Thursday and that was good, too.  I swam more.  I was really surprised how much more actual swimming I was able to do without getting winded. And then I stood up after crawling out of the pool and thought “Whoa!”  It felt like I’d been on the moon and just come back to earth; like I weighed ten times as much as when I went in.  But, I reminded myself that water is very buoyant and I adjusted pretty quickly, took my shower, and came home.

I wanted to go back to bed when I came home, but I resisted and sat down to stuff knitting patterns into sheet protectors (a new project wherein I throw most of the knitting magazine away and keep just the patterns I like).  Next I knew it was 6 pm. Minus a couple of breaks, I’d been doing this for 7 or so hours.  And I was exhausted.  My whole body ached and I felt like I might have a fever (typical fibromyalgia for me).


So, I guess I need to work on what works.  I want to keep swimming, but I need to keep things in balance.  At least for right now, its actually making me want to get out of bed.