Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Different Kind of Mouse Invasion


Some people get husbands. Some people get children. Some people get large houses that they own all by themselves. Other people? We get mice.

I've been wanting another pet for quite some time. A while back, I got on a hedgie bender where I REALLY wanted a hedgehog. I'm a researcher, however, and after reading about hedgehogs long enough (and their often poop-encrusted feet), I decided against one. For years, I've also been wanting a bird. But after more extensive research on the various types of pet birds, I decided not to go that route. I've already lived with a bird before (cousin Kira's lory), so I know they can be very demanding. Mostly, I wanted a pet I could just sit around and watch. Kind of like having a National Geographic special right there in your living room.

So I spent quite some time researching pet mice, or "fancy mice." I even joined a forum so I could ask questions and learn everything I needed to know up front. (You can find all of the basic information on the The Fun Mouse site or in their forum.) After doing all of my research, I went out on a quest to find three girls from PetSmart. For various reasons I won't go in to on the blog, you want to get your girls from PetSmart -- NOT Petco. Just sayin.'

Above, you can see the girls I chose in their PetSmart cage. The employee was kind enough to open the cage for me so I could see them close up. We discussed many options, and I told her I wasn't sure if I wanted three girls (you need three for social/colony reasons) or one boy (who has to live alone or he'll fight/kill the other males). She suggested that I go over to Petco to simply LOOK at the males and see if I like them. Nope. No likie. I went straight back to PetSmart and bought my trio right then and there.

They were terrified on the ride home, but I coo-ed at them to keep them calm. I also briefly wondered if I'd lost my mind:


I put them in a 10 gallon glass tank with a hard, strong mesh lid on top. The problem? I didn't trust Gretchen with just the clips. Luckily, my father had a handy, long piece of HEAVY steel. Nobody is getting in or out. No, they are NOT:


I tried a mesh wheel at first, but it was quite squeaky, so I switched to a Flying Saucer. The girls were unsure of it at first, but now they LOVE it. They run so fast that their little legs blur. And -- this is crucial -- it barely makes any noise at all. WHOOT!

Can you find anyone in the strawberry?


My favorite is Alice (named for Alice in Wonderland). She's the white one with the brown rump. She's the most sociable and least skittish. She always seems happy to see me. The brown and white one is Agatha Christie. She's clearly the bossy alpha. She's also an OBSESSIVE nest builder. I put some newspaper in the tank, and Agatha spent a whole night dragging large pieces of it into the strawberry with her:


Agatha also likes to climb up the sides of the tank like this. She's incredibly dramatic:


Charlotte (for Charlotte's Web) is the most skittish. She runs away and hides when she sees me coming. But if I sit there long enough next to the tank, she'll come out and say hello:


All three of them sleep in the strawberry together. It's so cute, isn't it??? I know. I got the strawberry and a few other things at Petco. I'll say this for Petco -- they have great mousie SUPPLIES. I'll need to get a few extras of these because Agatha has been chewing up the inside, of course:


There's also a ceramic gourd house. They like to go in there to eat their food. They also totally crack me up by peeking out of the very top when they have enough bedding piled in there:


The problem? You guessed it. Gretchen went BONKERS that first night, and I was so worried. Did I make a huge mistake? Webster also had his hunting instincts kicked into high gear. Oh no!!! But I figured they would calm down with time, which they have done. Gretchen now realizes the mousies are for watching, not eating touching:


I tried to get the cats a new, little hut to make them happy, but it was too small. They both tried to crawl in, but only their heads would fit:


So I returned it and splurged on this puppy:


Now Gretchen rests peacefully, despite the sound of meece shredding newspaper and running around in the cage nearby. I also got the meows a fancy, new scratcher that looks like a lounge chair. They love it:


And this guy? Webster doesn't even notice the girls anymore. He's happy if he's with/near me. That's just how he rolls:


So the Great Meece Experiment of 2014 is underway. I'll work with the girls to tame them a bit and see how I feel about being a mouse owner in general. They have an average lifespan of about 1-2 years and right now are roughly 2-4 months old (my guess), so if this doesn't work out for me, I won't get them again. But right now, I'm having a blast, and I'm REALLY glad I got them. Their wee paws and little noses touch my crusty, black heart. And I think it's safe to say that everyone in the household is enjoying Mousie TV.

You may think I have indeed gone crazy, but you know what? I'm happy, and that's all that really matters. It's all about small pleasures, my friends. Very, very small pleasures.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Mini Acquisitions


My blog has been very INTENSE lately, so let's take a break from All Things Serious and enjoy some minis, shall we? I'd like to share some more of the goodies I got at the NAME conference in St. Louis. I broke my wallet there, but it was totally worth it.

Above, you can see a Marigold in a Milk Carton kit from true2scale. I've always admired the one Brae has in her Haunted Heritage (scroll down here and look for it in the window above the sink), so now I have one all of my own. It remains to be seen if I will be successful with this little kit. I have high hopes!

I got this beautiful copper rooster statue from Smaller Than Life. It reminds me of Grandpa Blonderson, so I will treasure it: 



I found some more fun things from William Cambron Designs. I got another Art Deco beauty:


He also had a bunch of nice garden statues, so I got some flower holders and a wee version of Winged Victory. I had no idea what the statue was until Morrigan told me -- thank you for that tip! The flowers were made by a friend of mine from OCBMG. She was also at the conference, so she gave them to me there:


I love these Art Nouveau pedestal tables from William. So classy:


I used a bunch of birdies from mini-gems in Karu's Kitchen, so I needed to get some more. I also picked up a garden gnome and a sock monkey. SO CUTE. I'm on the hunt for a really great 1:12 scale birdcage for the budgie. I know I'll find the perfect one eventually:


At this moment, I honestly can't remember who I got this little elephant from, but I love it:


I also made some "big" purchases. I might never get to a NAME conference again due to distances and finances, so I decided to take advantage of the experience while I could. I LOVE this little 1:48 Nautical Emporium Kit from The Quarter Source. I got a bunch of goodies to put inside as well. I'll save those for the eventual reveal of the completed kit:


And my absolute favorite purchase, Briarwood from Robin Betterley. I've seen the kit on their site, but when I saw the bibliophile bunny in Real Life, I knew it had to be MINE. No regrets whatsoever. I also got to meet Robin and Shawn Betterley in person, gush over them, and get a photo all for myself. Whee! Feel the bunny love:


Now I need to remind myself to actually work on these kits instead of just petting/hoarding them. I will soon!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Whooshes: I'm Afraid


I recently joined Facebook (with the dummy name LaBlondie Tales -- it wouldn't let me use Blondie Tales) in order to join whooshEr's group for people with PT (private, safe group): Pulsatile Tinnitus "Whooshers" Unite! It's a fantastic group. I'm really grateful that I finally got up the nerve to dip my toe in the FB ocean to learn more about my fellow whooshers. However, I'm also HORRIFIED that I joined FB because I've been ranting about the evils of FB for years, so now I'm a Huge Hypocrite. Oh well. I'm desperate, people. And just a note to my friends and family: I'm not on FB to participate in anything except the whoosher group. I don't want you to think I'm not friending you or being mean or something, I'm just hiding out over here in this one little corner.

ANYWAY...

I'm scared.

I'm really, really, really scared.

I've been reading about CURED WHOOSHERS!!!!!!!! and SURGERIES!!!!!! and crazy wackadoo PROCEDURES!!!!! and this is all very exciting and interesting and WHOA HOLY CRAP I COULD BE CURED!!!!! but at the same time, my old friend, General Anxiety Disorder, has kicked into high gear. I've had to limit my time in the Facebook group to only a little bit here and there because the panic begins at my fingertips as I type and works its way up my arms and into my chest and then it's flooding into my hamster-wheel brain.

  • What if I get a surgery, and it gets worse?
  • I'm now realizing I might need two different kinds of surgery (because each side of my head seems to have something different). One surgery seems scarier than the other. They both look/sound awful. Do I really want to spend months of my life getting two different kinds of surgery and recovering from them only to have them not work/make it worse?
  • What if I have a major complication during surgery and end up with a Really Bad Problem in my head/neck veins/arteries/groin (one of the procedures goes in through the blood vessel in your groin area)?
  • How much is this going to cost me? 
  • How could I EVER possibly afford it?
  • Do I really want to fly to across the country and live in a hotel for a long time with my parents to get this taken care of?
  • Do I really want to put my senior-age parents through this?
  • I'm so terrified that how will I even get in the door of the hospital?
  • What if I get MRSA in my head? What if I get MRSA in my eyes and go blind? I'm an EDITOR. That can't happen!
  • What if I have some other wonk complication that only happens to like .000000000006% of patients, but it's AWFUL?

Even though my Rational Brain knows that these fears and questions are quite out of control and ridiculous, I can't help it. I'm hard-wired to PANIC. This is how my mental health rolls. Then there's the other side of the equation.

  • What if I DON'T get the surgeries, and this gets worse and worse as I age?
  • What if this problem -- left alone for decades -- causes new, far worse problems over time, and then I beat myself up for not just taking care of it when I was young(er)?
  • Can I seriously live with the double whooshes for the rest of my life without going Certified Insane? (I'm not exaggerating there. I'm actually worried about losing my grasp on reality from the whooshing.)
  • How can I possibly get this done and still work enough to keep a roof over my head?
  • What if I wake up one day, years from now, and all I can hear is the whooshing so loud that I can no longer hear anything above it?

 And then all of these questions trigger my other old friend, Depression:

  • Why am I alone in this decision-making process? 
  • Why can't anyone tell me what to do for sure? 
  • Why don't I have a magic ball to help me? 
  • Why am I so terrified? I'm a grown woman! Why am I letting this fear hold me so tight?
  • Why do I have to be solo? Why can't I have a boyfriend or a husband to calm my fears and help me get through this? 
  • Why is this my lot in life?

I'm now bawling. Really bawling.

I share this on the Internet for all the world to know because I just have to get it OUT of me. I've been holding in my fears, panic, and sadness about this whooshing problem for so long. Every time I get the tiniest bit of hope about this situation, something else happens to shut it down hard and fast. I'm SO excited about talking to/learning from Dr. Possibility and my fellow whooshers on FB, but at the same time, all of the hidden anxiety and stress from this NIGHTMARE WHOOSH WHOOSH WHOOSH WHOOSH SOUND is bursting up through me.

I'm also having the life-energy sucked out of me by the NOISE. I have no urge to work on miniatures. I've been cleaning/reorganizing my house as distraction so I don't have to sit still and listen to it. I no longer enjoy reading, which is my favorite thing in the whole world -- or it was.

I no longer remember silence. It's foreign to me. Despite all of my creativity, I can't even imagine silence anymore.

I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm stalling on asking Dr. Whooshsaver to prescribe the MRV I need because I'm scared. Frozen in the headlights. I'll just put it off for a while. It will be OK. My whooshes aren't life-threatening, so there's no rush. It's already been 8 years, after all. But then again, how STUPID am I to live for almost a decade with a debilitating physical condition, then learn about a cure, and then stall it out? It's a Catch-22.

It may be possible that I could have fantastic, easy surgeries and be whoosh-free and then look back and ask myself: Self, why didn't you do this earlier and save yourself all of those years of suffering? I don't want to live with regret either way.

I don't have to make a decision today, so I'm not going to. I'm going to shut down the computer after I finish this post and walk away. I don't actually have to work today, so I'm going to take advantage of it. I'll run errands and Be Outside and cut myself some slack and maybe work on minis. I don't know.

But I do know that I feel a HUGE weight has been lifted off of my chest from simply writing this post and allowing myself to ugly-cry (which I never let myself do when I'm alone because it's scary and lonely). I did it anyway, and I feel so much better.

Words -- secret words inside of us -- have so much power. The "what-ifs" are detrimental to one's mental health -- especially when that one (----> ME) has an anxiety disorder. This is how I'm fighting back.

Here are my fears, no matter how crazy they make me sound.

I offer them up to the Universe and release them.

Thank you for listening.

----------------------------------

HEY WHOOSHERS:

Go to whooshers.com for more information and follow their site on Twitter: @Whooshers

Join other whooshers on Facebook HERE and HERE.

To read all of my posts about my whooshing journey, go HERE

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Goodies for Ollie and Luna Lair


Poor Ollie has been very frustrated by the lack of progress on his house. It's really hard to explain to a wee not alive fake miniature owl that I HAVE TO WORK AND STUFF. I've been getting more glares than I need from the cranky, old bird.

I tried to do him some justice recently when I went to the St. Louis NAME convention. First, I have difficulty putting together the itty bitty wood kits, so when I saw this tiny gluing jig above, I knew it must be mine. It's from Smaller Than Life, and I picked up extra magnets just in case. I also got an itty bitty self-sealing mat from A Mini Thing. Love these goodies!

I got these 1:12 ojime beads from Jar/Jaf Miniatures. The detail on them is incredible. You can use them to make lamps, but I'm going to use them simply for display. I will see how the owl looks in Ollie's house, but I'm sure it will be too big. Then I'll just have to use it elsewhere:


Aren't those feathers amazing?? I know:


I can't say enough good things about the ladies from A Mini Thing. They are a FANTASTIC resource for 1:24 or half scale miniatures. They had TONS of building supplies, books, doodads, accessories. It was half scale heaven. I got Ollie a pot with a lid, a bowl of fruit, candlesticks, and a couple of plates:


I also got doorknobs for his door and the tiniest glass jar I ever did see:


It's hard to find half scale things that really ARE half scale. This jar is for sure. SO tiny and wonderful:


I seriously really love the A Mini Thing team, and they had a bunch of things available that might not be listed on their site (not sure -- I haven't dug through the whole thing yet). If you are seeking half scale, shoot them an email to see if they have it because they probably do. Again, EXCELLENT customer service. Can you tell I really like them? Good, cause I do.

And the most important thing EVER I could get for Ollie is a 1:24 Scale Card. Sadly, these cards aren't made anymore, so I was really excited to find both 1:24 and 1:48 from Pam's Supply Source. And it was even more wonderful that they were $2 a piece:


Now, I obviously have no excuse to not get going again with Luna Lair.

*Ollie squawks in background*

Thursday, August 07, 2014

A Gift from the Heart


I recently had an epidural/steroid injection in my lower back to help with my herniated discs and my lower back arthritis. Sadly, this time, the epi failed. I'm not too happy about that because my out-of-pocket costs for these injections are RIDICULOUS. The first one worked so well! Why fail this time? Well, I have multiple things going on back there. My doctor felt the joints/arthritis might be the culprit. So while I was in the office for a simple check up, he suggested giving me a Medial Branch Block, which is when they go in and shoot up a bunch of your joints to see if it helps. I got shots in six different places along my spine. Multiple shots of things in each place. Total, it was 18 shots. And you know what? Afterward, it f*cking HURT. Worse than it did before.

*sigh*

So yesterday, I was having a rotten day. My ears were whooshing loudly, I was behind on this crazy work schedule, my back hurt way worse than it did the day before, and everything was overall BOO HISS HATE.

And then a package arrived in the mail. What is this? It's a BELATED BIRTHDAY BLANKIE FROM APRIL. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEEE! Ma just happened to be here when the package arrived. We ooooohed and ahhhhhhhed together, and then I asked her to take a few photos of me with the blanket. I looked like a$$, but I really didn't care. I HAZ A NEST BLANKET!

Above, you can see my loooong self stretched out on my couch with my new gift. April knows I'm 6' tall, so she had her Very Tall Husband be a body model to get the length right. It's THRILLING to have a blanket that is truly long enough for me -- with room to spare. I can't even begin to describe how soft and cozy this blanket is. And it has bobbles!! I know how to crochet, but basically only in a straight line. April is a Master Crocheter. She rules.

The sweetest and most thoughtful part of all of this is that she actually searched my blog one night and found this post about my new, colorful bedding. She wanted to make sure it could match my couch AND my bed. It was so touching to have someone care about me enough to make a specialized blanket just for me that my face started leaking a bit. My crusty, black heart melted. I splayed myself and all of my pains and whooshes across my giant bed and groaned with happiness:


That's Brutus. Don't mind him:


The bobble work is truly incredible, and I'm crazy in love with the colors:


Here are some photos from April herself. She gently washed the blankie and hung it on the line to dry:


So perfect:


So loving:


So generous:


April, thank you SO MUCH for making my day brighter yesterday. I turned down the AC and cuddled under my SUPER SOFT perfect blanket last night. I slept so peacefully and did NOT want to get out of bed this morning. Thank you for this cherished gift. But most of all, thank you so much for being my Real Friend.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Your Friendly Neighborhood Gazebo


A few weeks ago, I went to the 2014 NAME National Convention in St. Louis. It was my first conference for NAME, and it was extremely fun and interesting. I lurve my minis. Escaping to Miniland was just what I needed since so many Stupid Things have been going on in my Real Life.

One of the events was a silent auction. I put in a bid on this lovely gazebo, and much to my surprise, I won! I didn't bid very much, so I thought I would lose. However, something about the gazebo was calling to me, so I kept my silent hope going.

Isn't it lovely? There are peaceful flowers all over the place:


And fairies:


And a poodle with her puppy:


A few of the pieces had popped off in transit to the convention, so I got some bubble wrap to wrap them up for the ride home. One thing that had popped off was the table. I turned it over to wrap it up and BOOM found a gun:


Seriously? A hidden gun? I busted out laughing in my hotel room. If the table had not come off, I doubt I EVER would have noticed it. The secret gun must have been calling to me at the auction. Hey, Blondie! You like weird things. Check ME out!! It worked.

The inside of the top is unfinished, but I don't mind:


I'm usually not a fairy person, but the girls are growing on me:


Love it:


Inside, there is some extra food to lure in anyone you may need to murder with your giant gun:


(To learn more about the NAME conference, check out the Omaha-Council Bluffs Miniatures Guild blog.)

Even though I haven't had any time to work on minis, I've been able to enjoy them by studying this beautiful gazebo, which I've now discovered was made from this out-of-print Lawbre Gazebo Kit. Very nice, indeed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

UPDATE: Whooshing: Temporary Pregnancy Pulsatile Tinnitus; Explaining Sigmoid Sinus Diverticulum


NOTE: See important updated parts of this post in italics below.

I recently had an interesting conversation in the comments section of a post I wrote about my pulsatile tinnitus. Reader Linda is pregnant, and she sadly has developed PT. My heart goes out to Linda, but I have hope. It turns out that many pregnant women get temporary PT. This is because of the increased blood flow during pregnancy. Often, after the body has gone back to its normal state after birth, the PT disappears. I'm very hopeful for Linda that her whoosh will whoosh itself away when her little one comes out! You can read the comments here to see our conversation about this. Now again, I'm not a doctor, so it's possible that Linda is developing one of the other causes of PT. I'm hoping this isn't the case. She will have to (annoyingly) wait and see if it disappears. If not, time for more investigation. (Linda: I'm whooshing with you in spirit, girl!!)

One question Linda had that I promised to answer in a post was about the head turning thing. Many of us whooshers notice that our whooshes get LOUDER if we turn our heads to the left or the right. Remember -- I'm NOT a doctor. This is a guess on my part, but I think the process makes sense. When you turn your head, all of the "stuff" in your head and neck turns with you. By twisting or adding pressure to the veins/arteries, you're temporarily changing the blood flow in there. Just as when you push on a water balloon and part of it pooches out, your blood runs a differently when you turn your head. I believe it gets louder simply because you moved. Sad but true. This is MY theory. Others are certainly welcome.

Regarding what's going on with me, Dr. Possibility found no additional abnormalities on my MRI/MRA from 2010, which is great news. However, now I need to get a CT or MR venogram, which is a test where they look at the blood flow through your head/neck veins with contrast. I asked what the difference was between this test and a CT angiogram (I had one of those back in 2007 in Chicago and was deemed "unremarkable."). Dr. Possibility explained:

  • CT venogram = looks at veins
  • CT angiogram = looks at arteries

Once again, I'm grateful to have NOT gone to Dr. Google for this or I would have found a bunch of scary things, no doubt. I've learned my lesson well: Ask a real doctor -- NOT Dr. Google. Also? I'm constantly amazed at the inner workings of the human body. It's fascinating, totally bizarre, and I commend anyone who studies this stuff/works on it for a living. You are amazing, all of you.

I've been trying to explain what is going on with me to my friends and family, but it's very hard to help people understand, especially because I'm Not a Doctor. The word "sinus" keeps tripping people up. The sigmoid sinus isn't a sinus, it's a vein, but that rarely makes sense in general conversation. I found this image of the head and neck anatomy and marked it up to show what's going on with me:


 Original image c/o Quizlet.com

As you can see in this image, the sigmoid sinus (vein) is INSIDE your head bones. If those bones wear away, the vein is going to intrude upon the ear apparatus, including the all-important eardrum. Now, after minding your own business and blissfully living your life in silence, the normal and natural sound of your blood flow is suddenly going to make itself known. WHOOSH WHOOSH WHOOSH. 

So why does the bone wear away? Well, your vein is pooching out. Imagine a hose in your garden. Imagine one part of that hose gets a weak spot. So over time, the hose gets a little bulge. That's what happens with your veins, too. I have a bulge in my vein (sinus) in my head -- right next to my ear. The bulge rubs on the bone and wears it away. I am very lucky that (SO FAR) I can only hear my heartbeat. If enough of the bone disappears, you can start to HEAR YOUR EYEBALLS MOVING. You can read about that problem HERE.


------------------------------------------

Now we begin the updated part of this post. I was SO WRONG about what I was looking at. I sent Dr. Possibility my blog post to see if I was right. I was not. Very not.

*crickets*

Bless his heart, Dr. Possibility sent me some images to better explain the problem. I'm not going to use them here on Clark Street because it was a private conversation and all, so I'll just use the images I was using before to show you what I've learned. I searched for my initial stolen borrowed-in-the-name-of-science images. They are from EURORAD. If you click HERE you can see that it's Figure 4. Figure 4 is from: Department of radiology, Glan Clywd Hospital, Bodelwddan, Wales. Thank you, Glan Cywd Hospital!!

Now on to my bones -- well, someone's bones. I blatantly stole borrowed this image off the Internet. I can't remember where I found it, so I'm so sorry if it's yours. It was in some public medical files place, so I think we can consider it a "teaching tool" and just cut me some slack because I'm GOING CRAZY WITH THE WHOOSHING HERE. This image shows part of what I have been diagnosed with. Imagine you are looking down at the top of this person's head. The eyeballs are the facing up here toward this text in this paragraph you're reading.

At this point, I told everyone that what we were looking at was a sigmoid sinus diverticulum. I was wrong. I mistakenly thought that the "hole" you see on the left was the "wearing away of the bone." Actually, that "hole" is your sigmoid sinus, which is your large vein. I'd originally drawn an image of closing off that hole to fix the problem. Dr. Possibility kindly explained that if someone put a little wall there, you'd basically cut off the signmoid sinus. WHOOPSIE. And that, my friends, is why Dr. Blonderson has been fired. 

So here is what the images truly show:



I want to go ahead and guess that the other ear NEEDS to be patched, but I learned my lesson last time. I'm going to be honest, as you can see in the image. I have no idea what's going on there. I do know for sure though that on the left side where I have a pointer, the person has had his/her bone repaired. So this is what it looks like AFTER surgery.

Also, I have some news straight from whooshEr herself about the Whooshers Facebook pages. It turns out the main page just updates when there is new news. There is a different Facebook page that you have to sign up for. I'm going to take the bold step of creating a Blondie Facebook account specifically so I can join that group to discuss the whoosh online. There are almost 1,000 whooshers on that page, but you have to ask whooshEr to join. She asked me to add this information to my blog so that new whooshers can find it. HERE IS THE LINK. I still can't see it for now, but I'll be able to soon. Then I can chatter with my fellow whooshers easily. Yay!

This concludes the update. Thank you, Dr. Possibility, for helping to educate me and so many others like me.

--------------------------------------------------


I'm hoping this will give all of my loved ones a better understanding of what is going on with my head/veins/whoosh. To be honest, I'm overwhelmed by it on my own, and trying to explain it over and over is exhausting. OOF.

Now I need to see if Dr. Whooshsaver will order the CT venogram, which I'm sure he will. Then I'll wait to see what Dr. Possibility thinks about it. This is the next step toward surgery, which is both exhilarating and BATSH*T TERRIFYING.

Baby steps.

The closer I get to a possible surgery, the more scared and anxious I get. There has been crying involved. But I know my other whooshers are out there, and I know you are with me. I am not alone. You are not alone.

-----------------------------------

HEY WHOOSHERS:

Go to whooshers.com for more information and follow their site on Twitter: @Whooshers

I don't have access to the Facebook page, but go to it HERE and HERE if you do!

To read all of my posts about my whooshing journey, go HERE