Covid and My Risk.
This is 2020. A hundred years from now, it wil still be known for Covid 19. For all the things that we can’t do, like go out to eat, or see our seniors. It will also be known for the things we have to do like wear masks or stay socially distant.
I’m considered at risk. I’m 61, and a diabetic. I knew when Covid came out that I had to follow the rules. . I stayed home, went out only for groceries, and wore my mask.
Summer came, and my husband and I helped my daughter move. It felt so good to be away from home. To wear my mask less. I even ate at a restaurant, outside. It was lovely!
Then Covid spiked and my kids talked to both of us, about following rules and staying safe. It’s funny to have your children give you advice. I loved them for doing it, but I didn’t want to be a baby, or a wimp. I promised them I would take it seriously, and I did . . . I talked to my doctor about my plans.
And the Doctor Said
I wanted to sub this fall. I thought I’d be fine, but I promised my kids, my husband too. I asked the doctor, and the doctor said . . .
No subbing for me, unless I’d be willing to be double masked all day. She wanted me to wear an N95 mask, with a face shield.
I’ve been wearing an N95 since March, but I’m only out for groceries or quick errands. An hour, tops. I’m always glad to take off the mask and breathe again. For me, it’s just not worth it to take the risk, and, wear a double mask all day.
I thought I’d be subbing in my hometown by now. I thought the spread would slow, and I’d be safe to go out. But, I’ll listen to my doctor and wait – till she says it’s safe. When you can’t do something, you really want to do it.
Tomorrow – what I really miss about subbing . . .
Part 1 – Meet Melanie – She’s a German teacher by day, and the school year of course. But at any other time, she’s a writer.
Melanie is from Southern Maine. If you’re trying to picture Maine, think New England, then go to the north-east corner of the Atlantic seaboard. Go across the border, and you’re in Canada, the nation to the north.
very musical – she sings, plays the piano, the recorder, and a few other instruments. She IS super talented!
Her website is titled Schreibenfreude, and it’s about sharing the joy of books, words, writing, and language. I think she’s on her way! If you’d like to learn more, visit her at https://melaniekyer.com/
This is Melanie with one of her favorite people, Gibran Graham from The Briar Patch. He helped her with presales. That’s when you buy a book before it’s published. Why? So you can be one of the first people to read it. It’s pretty exciting for authors, and for readers.
This is Melanie’s debut book, her very first. Your first is so exciting – for you, your family, for everyone you know. It’s a lot like your first child. You love all your kids, but there’s something special about that first one.
December is a month full of holidays, and they come from cultures all over the world. From religions like Buddhist to Christian to Jewish, and so many more. When eight cookies from different cultures come together, there’s a scramble to be the top cookie. Thank goodness for Indian Shortbread, who pushed to make peace.
Enjoy this rhyming picture book. It’s full of recipes and facts about traditional cookies from Greece, Germany, Israel, central Africa, the US, and Mexico.
Take a look at this map. You can find all of these countries. But to find the US and Mexico, this map would need to extend across the Atlantic Ocean.
Greece (in pink) Germany (green) Israel (red)
India (pink) I can’t see the name, but Pakistan (green) is west of India. I checked on a larger map 😊
Niger and Chad (green and yellow) are part of the continent of Africa. They’re in the north. Central Africa would be farther south.
Question 1 –
What vegetable was traditionally carved long before pumpkins?
Turnips Beeetroot Cabbage Potatoes
And the answer is . . . TURNIPS!
I can’t imagine hollowing out any of these vegetables, but evidently back in the 18th century (the 1700’s) pranksters used to hollow out turnips. Then they’d carve scary faces into them and turn them into lanterns. Some people said those faces represented evil spirits. Others said the faces kept evil spirits away.
Question 2 –
So where did those first jack-o-lanterns come from?
United States Ireland France Transylvania
And the answer is . . . Ireland!
Here’s the map of Europe. Do you see, France and Romania? They’re both in purple.
d you eliminate Transylvania? It’s not even a country. It’s actually in the center of Romania.
Ireland is in yellow, and the Irish were the ones who started making jack-o-lanterns out of turnips. It’s based on this old Irish folk tale . . .
Stingy Jack tricked the Devil out of his soul, but the Devil got even. He made Jack walk through the underworld with a lantern. It was really a turnip, held on a stick, lit by coal.
The Irish started making their own lanterns using a big turnip or potato. When immigrants came to the US, they brought their lanterns with them.
We switched to the pumpkin, a much bigger and better vegetable! The US isn’t on this map. You’d have to go west from Ireland across the Atlantic Ocean to find the US.
More Info: www.history.com
Part 2 – The Roots of Halloween
Question 3 –
Who is at the roots of Halloween?
The Celts (Kelts) The Romans
Question 4 –
What’s the name of their original festival?
Samhain (sow-in like cow)
Question 5 –
Why did they need this festival?
To speak with dead ancestors
To make predictions for the future
The answers . . . The Celts were at the roots of Halloween. If you look at the map above, they originally came from Ireland, the United Kingdom (England), and France. The first photo is a wooden Celtic figure.
Their Festival was known as Samhain. It started the night of October 31st, when the fall harvest was ending. The Celts believed that ghosts returned to cause trouble and damage their crops. They also believed those ghosts made it easier for the Druids, the Celtic priests, to predict the future. A Druid is in the last picture.
The Druids made huge bonfires. The people burned food and animals in them as sacrifices to their gods. The Celts wore animal heads and skins. They told fortunes for each other. Their festival helped them survive a long, cold winter with no grocery stores or new crops till spring.
The sacrifices, are now our treats. We exchanged the animal heads and skins for costumes, and the fortune telling became the trick part of Trick or Treat.
Tricks have mostly disappeared, but early Americans used to celebrate their harvests by telling ghost stories and fortunes, or by singing and dancing. Maybe with Covid this year, we should go back to those roots.
Please check out this source. It has a short video, 12 seconds, plus 4 sets of photos with the ghosts of Halloween past.
Part 3 – Halloween and Pop-Culture
Question 6 –
Which weighed more?
The Titanic OR One year of trick or treat candy
Question 7 –
When did kids trick or treat for coins, toys, and home-made sweets?
30’s & 40’s 50’s & 60’s 70’s & 80’s
Question 8 –
What is the most popular Halloween song of all time?
Dark Masquerade Farewell Forever Monster Mash Awaken
The answers . . . I can’t believe it . . . Halloween candy! The Titanic weighed a mere 100 million pounds, and it was one of the biggest ships of all time!
Every year we buy about 600 million pounds for one Halloween. That’s six Titanic’s! We must love our kids and their candy!
In the 1950’s and 1960’s kids got coins or toys or home-made sweets. I trick-or-treated in the 60’s, and I never got a single toy. Not one! Candy was cheaper to give away. When I started, we got regular size candy bars. When I finished, people gave out the miniature ones.
Home-made treats – I didn’t get them very often. By then more and more moms were working and didn’t have time to bake. Besides, would you rather have a chocolate chip cookie or candy? I’d pick candy every time!
By the 70’s and 80’s people started putting bad things in the treats. I remember hospitals would x-ray candy for kids. It’s a sad day when you can’t trust Halloween candy.
The most popular Halloween song – THE MONSTER MASH! Perhaps you’ve heard it! I have – ever since 1962 when I was 3 years old! It’s been a Halloween hit ever since for Bobby “Boris” Pickett.
Here’s the link for an animated version of Boris’ song. I remember the stairs and the blinking eyes from my childhood. Enjoy!
Read and Write - I’m always reading. I pick Young Adult/Adult books to read for fun on my Kindle. They can be new or old. It doesn’t matter.
With children’s books, I only read new ones, and I read them as a writer to stay current with the market. I pick out 4 picture books and a chapter/middle grade book a month from my local library.
I don’t read them just for fun. I read them to understand how to write for kids, to learn how to put in the content they need. It helps me build words and sentences into stories.
I also enter each one in my book log. I write about what I like/ don’t like. My Log is where I find the titles I review for My Reads. I look for books that match up to each new blog post.
I’m always writing! I write in segments for my website each night. After I finish a post, I pick a book to review. It’s one of the things I’ve done over the past four years to build a platform as a writer.
During the day I write as much as possible. I hate days with appointments. I never get as far as I hope. I always want more.
My favorite writing days are when I can stay in my PJ’s most of the day, and I can focus on the words. It’s heaven!
I never expected to have 3 WIP’s (Works in Progress) at the same time. Two of them are scheduled for March 2021. The third is due in October.
It’s funny to say a book is due, but in some ways it’s like birthing a baby. You have to give it enough time and nourishment to grow into a story you’re willing to put your name on.
Here’s what it looks like when I write. I find a comfy spot and sit with my laptop. I used to write in a room by myself. If there was any noise, I’d put on headphones. The bad part – it isolated me from my family.
I still write in a comfy spot, but now the TV is on. It’s background noise. I half listen, but my attention is focused on my writing. The best part – my husband can be in the room, and I can be part of the family.
Take Classes, Market Ourselves, or Our Books - When I was teaching, this is what my classes looked like. Well, if I only had 15 in my room. Most years I had between 20 and 25. The first year I had 30. YIKES! That’s a lot of kids to divide my time between. If each kid could talk for 1 minute, they could each speak twice in an hour. Most people don’t think of class size that way. Teachers do!
When I took classes, to help me teach or write better, I used to have to physically go into a class. That’s lovely if it’s only 30 minutes away. Once I traveled 15 hours to do a weekend of classes at Highlights, you know the magazine company! It was great, but expensive – time and money-wise.
I’ve also taken classes or done critiques online. I’ve never had a critique partner in my home town. Writing for kids is not something done in Wapak or Auglaize County, Ohio. I’ve had critique partners in Ohio, in Tennessee, across the country, and a few that were international. I’m in two online groups now, and one of my partners is originally from New Zeeland. Now she lives in Canada. The kidlit world is a small one after all!
Since Covid reared its ugly head, online is the only way things are done in the kidlit world. I went to my first national conferenc SCBWI in LA because of Covid. I would never pay airfare and hotel to get there, especially when my learning curve as a writer is still high.
Right now I’m working my way through the Northern Ohio SCBWI conference, online. I had 13 videos I wanted to watch. I have 3 left to see by the 19th. Only 2 days left, but if I don’t make it, that’s OK. I did the ones I wanted to see, FIRST!
Marketing is as unfamiliar to me as this illustration is. I’m a second grade teacher. That’s my wheelhouse, where my skills are.
Marketing, when you get down to the nitty-gritty, is about getting people to do what you want. I understand that – I am a teacher! But I don’t understand how to sell my book, or me as an author. That’s way over my head, like 100 feet deep!
But I am excited about marketing this year! I’m working with a hybrid publisher. It’s a little of self and traditional publishing smushed together. So far, I LOVE working with an editor. I love pushing my work to be better.
Soon we’ll start working on marketing for this new book, and you’ll HEAR about it. They’ll do part of the work. They’ll also guide me on how I can help. I’ll watch, take notes, and apply those things to NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM. I can’t wait!
This part of marketing, I DO understand! I know shopping, and one of the best places to sell Neil is at a museum gift shop. Neil was once sold at two museums – The Armstrong Museum in Wapak and the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. I’ve been trying to get it into a NASA Museum in Virginia. I was close – till Covid hit. Now it’s time to try again. Christmas is coming, and Neil’s book is a perfect gift for aviation-loving kids!
Part 1 – Celebrating a Socially Distant Halloween Trick or Treat
Project #1 – A Halloween Candy Slide
Trick or treat, anyone?
If your community is holding one this year,
here’s the perfect way to use social distancing, with PVC pipe. Here’s a basic supply list:
PVC pipe Spray Paint Cheese cloth
Skull Skeleton Acrylic Paint
Tools: glue gun scissors Hacksaw.
To get started, click on this link. It’s my source, and it also starts with a video: https://www.instructables.com/Halloween-Candy-Slide/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email
You might watch this video before trying this project. I added in photos and quick directions below to help you decide if it’s right for you.
1. Cut the pipes into the right lengths. 2. Assemble the bases.
3. Add the lips. 4. Paint the stands. Theirs is in black, but you could
use white, or, a different color.
5. Add the slide. 6. Decorate! You can use skeletons, witches, or
whatever’s on sale. Happy Trick or Treat!
Project #2 – A Halloween Cooler – OR – Walk by Candy Containers
I was looking for another socially distant way to pass out candy, and I think this could work. The project is done as a cooler, but I can imagine a string of pumpkins sitting at the end of my driveway. Let kids take one or two treats out of each pumpkin. It would be cute, fun, AND SAFE!
Here’s my source link, but no video. It doesn’t need one.
I’m sharing some steps with quick basic directions to help you decide if this project’s for you.
1. Draw a line to help you cut the top of your pumpkin. Cut, then scoop out the pumpkin pulp.
2. Repeat step 1 with the side of your pumpkin. Then give it a bleach bath.
It will keep your pumpkin from rotting for as long as possible. Then decorate.
3. Line your pumpkin with plastic wrap. Add ice if you need a cooler.
Add treats if you’re using your pumpkin as a candy dish.
Now, get ready . . . get set . . .
GO Trick or Treat, 2020 style.
Part 2 – Three Cute Costumes
#1 – Paper Butterfly This is one cute costume whether you follow the directions on the site, or make up your own. Here are photos for the wings, abdomen, and head.
Costume 2 – Spiderboy/girl What kid wouldn’t love this costume? The spider legs are black socks stuffed with newspaper. You hold them in place using cardboard and a black bag. His mom used face paint for his mask. She made two sketches before actually painting his face. You could do the same with a real mask. Link: https://www.instructables.com/Spider-Costume/
First sketch Second Face Paint
Costume 3 – Shower Anyone? Try this one! The other two shots show the tricky parts, the framework. Link: https://www.instructables.com/Shower-Costume/
Looking for something unique, try this one: https://www.instructables.com/Toilet-Costume/
If you still didn’t find a costume, try this link: https://www.instructables.com/howto/costumes/
Part 3 – Snack Time!
Snack 1 – Broomstick Anyone? If a picture’s worth 1000 words, these two equal this recipe. All you need are some pretzel sticks and cheese. The strip that goes around the cheese, is Nori (seaweed), but you could substitute anything long and stringy. Licorice could work, but I don’t know how it would taste. Link: https://www.instructables.com/Witches-Brooms/
Snack – Sand-witch? These three pictures are worth a recipe too, but I’d click on the link for some of the details. The author gives you a list of possible foods for each piece of the witch. She also has some basic patterns to help you cut your food. Finally there’s a video from Susan’s mother. She invented the sand-witch to get Susan to eat. If you want to be as cool as Susan’s mom, try red food-coloring in your milk, and you can pretend to be a vampire too!
Snack 3 – These eyes have it! WOW! They do! Would you believe that these eyeballs are made with fruit? I didn’t – till I read the recipe. The other ingredients hold it together. Click on this link, and then have some fun!
Part 4 – Projects Please!
Project 1 – A Haunted House This project came from a Kindergarten teacher.
She started with the letter H, made from strips of construction paper.
You’ll need black markers next. Add the roof, then the sides. Doors and windows come last.
Finish by drawing in the other details. Miss Kelly has her kids draw with pencil, then color in with marker. Link: https://www.instructables.com/Arts-and-Crafts-for-the-Letter-H/
Project 2 – Pastel Haunted House I love each and every one of these houses. They’re all different!
1. Pick two watercolors. Then mix them together on your page. Let it dry COMPLETELY.
2. Draw lightly with pencil. Put in everything you want – Graves, Trees, Bats, Moon, a Ghost. Don’t forget a house with doors and windows. Everything you draw will be colored in yellow, or black.
3. Start with your yellow Pastel. Don’t overdo it. Keep the focus on black. Let the yellow pop out.
4. Finish up with black Pastel. You’re done when your paper is filled by paint or Pastels.
Project 3 – Blockhead/Headless Robots Too cute! But you need to be old enough to use an Xacto knife, or have a parent do it for you. Click on the link for directions and for PDF’s to download and print out. The robots come in 2 sizes, with and without color.
Part 1 – Setting the Stage
Welcome to Germany, and to North Rhine Westphalia. In German, it’s spelled Noordrhien-Westfalen. It’s one of their 16 states.
Look at the map again, and find the red dot above the ‘e’ in Westfalen. That’s Münster. Now take your finger northeast to Osnabrück.
Lengerich is in the middle, and that’s where the real bat story took place, where I was pushed into writing – by a flying mammal!
Here are two postcards from Lengerich. Take a look around. I love the old buildings, the architecture. The first one reads ‘Beautiful Lengerich.’ The second is easier – Lengerich in Tecklenburger Land. That’s the beautiful northeastern section of Westphalia known for its hills, forests, and 100 castles.
I met Uschi, my host, when I finally arrived in Lengerich. I was a little anxious about staying a month with a stranger. Sending a few letters back and forth helped!
I wish I had a picture of her house, but I never took any. We spent all our time in her favorite place. In the US we call it the backyard. In Germany it’s the garden. Uschi did all the work herself. She’s one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met!
Uschi had six small gardens within her back yard. Each one unique and gorgeous! I’m not an outside girl, but I learned to be. I enjoyed every moment in Uschi’s garden!
Come inside Uschi’s house. It’s gorgeous, like her garden. This is her living room, where I met the bat. Sorry, I never got its picture!
But I made some other friends. The cat is Baghira, and the dog is Odin. They belonged to Uschi’s daughter Nina. I felt like I’d been given a new family, for a month, and I adored them!
Part 2 – In Flew a Bat
Look at the living room above, again. Imagine it’s the witching hour – midnight! It was my second night in Lengerich, and I was sitting in the chair behind Nina, reading. Uschi was watching the news from across the room.
From the corner of my eye, I saw something flying back and forth across her house. I’m a city girl. I thought it was a bird. Whatever it was, I wanted it to fly out the door. German doors and windows don’t have screens. All of them were open that night, and that’s how it made it into the house.
I called, “Uschi, bird!” When you’re in a foreign country, the fewer words the better. Uschi didn’t answer – she was sleeping. I walked over, quietly . . . I didn’t want to upset the bird . . . I nudged Uschi, and said ‘bird.’ She woke up, and then we started arguing/discussing what it was. I said bird. She said night bird, and whatever-it-was kept flying through the house, over and over again. Now I wonder, was it laughing at the two of us?
Then Uschi crossed the room. She picked up a thick book, 2 or 3 inches thick. Maybe not as big as this one, but big!
I looked at the book and wondered what she was going to do with it. The only thing I could think of – hit the bird with it.
She didn’t . . . she opened it up . . . turned to the page with the word Fledermaus. I didn’t have time to look –
Because the bird was hanging upside down, not from a branch, but from the curtain rod. I didn’t need to look in the book, which happened to be a German/English dictionary to know that it was a bat, a Fledermaus. BTW- German nouns are always capitalized.
Uschi and I argued about what to do (the bat’s still flying through the house). She was worried it could hurt us, or worse, fly into our hair.
I said, “It won’t. My 2nd graders read two stories about bats. They both said bats are interested in bugs, not people. Bats have echolocation so they know where they’re flying.”
I tried talking to the bat. I asked it to fly outside and catch some bugs, but it just stared at us. Either it didn’t speak Amerikanisch (American English), or it wanted to watch humans panic.
Then Uschi abandoned me – yes, my 2nd night in Germany, she left me alone with the bat, but she went searching for something, anything to help. Meanwhile I was stuck inside with the bat, still talking, still being ignored.
Then – I saw something – a mop at the back of the room. And – I had an idea – get the mop, hold it up to the bat, and the bat would start flying again. It didn’t!
It climbed down onto the mop with three limbs. The fourth clung to the curtain rod, just in case.
We stared at each other, like forever. Then I heard Uschi come in the door. I yelled, “Uschi, door!”
It was my short way of saying – leave the door open. The bat might fly outside.
My words broke the spell. The bat swept away from the mop and started flying again.
Eventually its echolocation found the door, and it flew out into the German night.
The End – For Now –
I didn’t think I was enough, or this story either. Another post is coming.
It will introduce you to two more characters, and where I found them.
Link for that post:
From my life! I didn’t think it was exceptional, but I’ve found some great stories to tell.
Story #1 – This was the first one I wrote. It came from the unbelievable moment when I held ¾ of a bat on a mop. Really! But I didn’t have enough confidence to tell that story. So my German friends introduced me to Herman the German and the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. When I thought it was ready, I took it to Highlights. It was good, but had lots of first writer mistakes. It’s still in my computer, waiting for me to grow into it.
Photo Source for the Teutoburg Forest By Arminia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1343268
Story #2 – I couldn’t let go of the bat so I wrote the mostly true story. The characters – 2 bats, a German grandmother, and her American granddaughter. Frog and Toad served as my mentor text. I took it to an SCBWI conference for a critique. My reader said it was flat and that bats don’t have legs – the shelf life for a bat story is September and October, longer if I had reading followers. It’s safe in my computer waiting for me to build that career.
Story #3 – If bats don’t have legs, schools do! They’re forever. Every summer I closed down my classroom, and the school felt dead. In August I’d re open it and prepare for a new batch of kids. I wanted to tell that story using a caterpillar and the butterfly it became, but I couldn’t find my way into that story.
I don’t remember how, but somehow ants found their way in, and I found my words, over 30 chapters worth. I believe this will be a book someday, but I haven’t found the right words, the right story arc yet.
I spent most of the summer working on those ants. I have 4 chapters to go. I built up the beginning, got rid of the saggy middle. Now I have to write to the climax and finish with a satisfying ending. Summer school was the best thing ever for me and my ants!
Story #4 – My dog Leia gave me this idea. That’s her in the first picture. The second is a look-alike. Leia used to sit outside my bathroom door every morning waiting for me. I’d ask if she was hungry. If she wasn’t, she’d just stare. If my daughter forgot, Leia went crazy – bouncing, barking, and telling on my daughter. When you write a story, it changes. It grows and develops. Leia’s did. I hope someday I can find a way to tell her story.
Story #5 – I went into lockdown with my last class in 2014/2015. I remember it like it happened yesterday. I didn’t think of it as a story until a year later. Since then it’s gone through lots of revisions, It started as the lockdown I experienced, but that’s too real for my audience. I changed the setting into a drill, and now I have a better chance of seeing this story published. It’s close. I’m working to find and agent and a publisher for it. Someday!
Story #6 – I wrote this story before I published my newest book. I don’t think it has a niche market like Lake Fun did, so it’s still sitting in my computer. Both stories started at Norris Lake. That’s where my husband and I have a house. It’s heaven, unless the ducks visited our dock. I love them on the water, but not so much on the dock. They think it’s their poop deck, literally, and they don’t clean up their own mess. My husband and I have to. The story changed, as it always does. Now a young boy is telling about a lake vacation with his grandparents. It’s perfect, until the ducks arrive.
Story #7 – This was my first published book, NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM. It started with a part of Neil’s real wind tunnel. Do you see it? It’s to the left of the red print. I discovered it when I was training to be a docent at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum back in the fall of 2017. I was fascinated, thinking how Neil built it back in 1946. He was 16, and he modeled it after the Wright Brothers. In May of 2018 I decided to write and self-publish this story.
Story #8 – This was my first picture book from 2020. The inspiration – that middle picture. It’s our lake house. I wanted to do a book about my lake and all the fun my family had. I thought I had a niche market at the lake and its marinas. I started writing during the summer of 2019. By August it was time to figure out the illustrations. Finding a way to do that last illustration, wakesurfing, was key. It’s an image I wanted kids to see, to read about. My critique partner said he could digitally enhance a photo from Pixabay so it would look like a real illustration. When I looked at that image, I knew I could keep writing!
Stories # 9 & 10 – Both are scheduled for March of 2021, for now. Take a look at these two images. They’re clues to the next 2 books. I’ll tell you more, SOON!
Story #11 – It will debut in October of 2021, for now. I thought about next month, but I changed my mind in July. I’m glad I did. Extra time is always a good thing!
Part 1 – What is sleep apnea? I have it, and that means I stop breathing at night, a lot, enough that back when I was teaching I was always tired. I didn’t want to wake up in the morning, and the car put me to sleep, even when I was driving. Sometimes if you have sleep apnea, you snore. I do – LOUD! I knew there was something wrong so I finally went in in 2014 and did a sleep study.
The results put me in a c-pap machine. A year later I went in with my results. My machine records things like how much sleep I get or how many times I wake up in an hour. My doctor didn’t like my data so he had me do another study. It put me on a bi-pap machine.
The 2 machines look exactly alike, so what’s the difference? They both have pressurized air going in my nose, but c-pap is a continuous stream that never changes pressure, ever.
A bi-pap has two streams of air. When I breathe in, the air is set to a high pressure. When I breathe out, the air is set to a lower pressure. My bi-pap machine controls both levels.
Look at the mask to the left. It’s the one I use with my machine. The biggest difference – my mask doesn’t cover my mouth, but I don’t breathe in and out with it. If I open my mouth with either machine, the air going in feels funny, in a yucky way. When I have on my mask, I don’t mouth-breathe. My machine keeps me on the staight and nasal.
Photo source sleep machine:
By PruebasBMA - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
C-pap & Bi-pap Source:
Part 2 – Test #1 - I checked in with my doctor. Most of the summer I couldn’t seem to get enough sleep, 9 hours wasn’t enough. I needed 10 or 11. If I didn’t get it, I felt tired, and I found myself taking naps.
The doctor looked at my SD card to get my sleep numbers. She decided it was time for another study. They started me back with the basic beginning one.
I had a sleep-over August 11th at Lima Memorial’s Sleep Center. With covid they checked my temperature and asked those key questions before they admitted me. They showed me to my bedroom, and this was the equipment waiting for me – a lot of wires! I went in at 8, and it took almost an hour to connect them all.
The wires had to be loose/long enough that I wouldn’t kick them off in my sleep. If that happened, my buddies would have come in and fixed them. Thank goodness, nothing came loose.
FYI – that paste is petroleum-based. Shampoo won’t wash it away. Dawn dish soap will, just like it does for birds caught in oil slicks.
It looks like there are 5 more coming off the front of my face. If you’ve been keeping track – 4 from the legs, 10 from my back, and 5 from the front, that’s 19 wires. I think there are still enough holes!
This is what I looked like from the front. There may be another wire or two, but I don’t see it. I also had a gizmo attached to my left hand, middle finger. It wasn’t to take temperatures, but I’m not sure what it tracked.
Do you see the two black belts on the bed? I didn’t get them for judo. I wore one under my arms, and another at my waist. Sorry, I didn’t ask why.
Do you see the blue box under my left arm in that first picture? That’s the bread box again. When the technician held it out, I was wearing so many wires it looked like the strings on a harp.
Here’s a close-up of my face. I’ve never looked lovelier! Ha! Do you see the tube under my nose? It took the place of my mask. I had one tube in each nostril. They used it to keep track of when I took a breath, and when I didn’t.
I slept with my wires and the machine. I was allowed to keep the TV on. I laid down at 10 PM, and my technician woke me up at 6 AM. My sleep buddies tracked me for 8 hours’ worth of data. They said they’d gotten the information they needed.
After I woke up, my sleep technician came in, pulled off the wires, and sent me home. It took 2 weeks to get the results. I hoped they would change the settings on my bi-pap machine, and I’d be back to sleeping 9 hours again. No such luck!
Instead I waited a week for my next sleep-over, then another 2 weeks for the results.
Part 3 – Test # 2 – Here’s what I found waiting for my second sleepover on September 2nd, but in a different room. It’s pretty much the same supplies. The tray is new, but the things on it aren’t.
Here’s me again, in all my glory. I’m all wired up, taped up, and plugged in, ready to go. With this setup I could move around the room before bedtime, 10 PM once again.
No TV this time. They needed to be able to hear clearly for this study. No extra noise allowed.
When I got into bed, my sleep technician took off the wrap, below the bread board. It sat on the nightstand, just like last time, with the wires connecting me to the machines and the people monitoring me. I could only get up if I called my technician.
I had a horrible time going to sleep with no TV. I must have rolled back and forth at least a dozen times, but nothing came loose. Thank goodness! But if it had, my buddy would have wired me back up again.
She woke me up at 6 AM, unplugged everything, and sent me home to wash with Dawn one more time. It’s perfect on that paste.
I waited 2 weeks to get my call on September 17th. No more studies! YAY!
My doctor looked at the results and decided to take me back to another c-pap machine. Now I’m waiting for my order to come in, hopefully the week of September 28th.
In November I’ll go back to see my doctor. She’ll look at my SD card to see how my new machine’s working. Don’t worry! I’ll update you then.
Have you ever gone through a time of despair? You feel like you’ll never be happy again. I haven’t had many, but they feel like the opposite of inspiration – desperation. You remember them clearly – they’re a scar you’ll never forget.
This post is about my 3 most desperate times, and how I coped. I hope they help you,. I’ve dealt with colds and the flu, but never with sickness and death. They found me 9 years ago.
The first story is about my dad. He was a teacher, a principal, and a man of words. I’m a daddy’s girl, and I lost him to Alzheimer's in February of 2011. He went looking for a boat in the middle of winter. He came home that night for the last time. He moved into a nursing home by Valentines Day.
With Alzheimer's the neurons in your brain slowly gum up until they won’t connect anymore. At the beginning you lose a thought, can’t find the word you need. Later you forget where you’re at, where you’re going, like my dad did.
In February the dad I’d always known was gone. He lost touch with the real world and found himself living in a fantasy. He showed me his classroom. It was really his bathroom. Another night I found him ready to pilot a plane. He’d never flown one before.
My dad was gone, locked in his own brain, so where’s my silver lining? I found it by meeting him where he was. I was dad’s Peter Pan. If he wanted me to see his classroom, I looked inside and talked school.
When dad said he was flying, I said don’t crash. Ahlzheimer’s was never his fault. He believed what he said. I didn’t fight for the truth. I wanted both of us to enjoy the time we had left.
The last time he said Rinda, he asked about my funeral. I didn’t cry. I looked for the silver lining, my dad still remembered me. I said she had a great funeral. Story telling has its benefits!
The ultimate silver lining for me – a story. I wrote about our golf course adventures. It was the last place I found my dad, the one I remember. He used to hunt golf balls in the creek, and he tried to drag me in after them. Alzheimer’s took away so much, but I’m grateful for our last memories.
That story is still in my computer. I hope I can find a way to edit it for kids. They’re natural Peter Pans, if you show them a few rules about Alzheimer’s.
The second story is about our family dog. This is Leia Millenia Beach (we were a Star Wars family). She came to us as a pup in August 1999. Her kids were in 5th, 3rd, and K. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend for them.
Leia loved to walk and would go crazy if we said walk, w-a-l-k, or the w word. She was that smart! Her favorite kind was to pull her kids down the street, panting and choking the whole way, but with the biggest doggy smile ever. Life couldn’t get any better.
She loved to pull me down the street, in shoes. That little 10 pound dog had to lead! I’ve never had a better friend. Loyal, true, and always happy to see me.
In 2013 she was a senior dog. This was her favorite spot because she could keep track of her people.
Age had taken its toll. I didn’t notice until November when we did a photo shoot. (Leia has her own story.) I took her to the town next door and realized she had doggy dementia.
She’d walk a few steps and rest. No more pulling me down the street. At the photo shop, she paced. She used to sniff her way around the room. Not any more. She paced like my dad, and I realized I was losing her too.
I cried all the way home, only 10 minutes, thank goodness. I felt like I was losing my dad again, plus my dog. I’m so glad we did those pictures. I still have them, ready to publish when her story is told.
She’d look at me like this, like she could see down to the bottom of my soul, and she loved me anyway.
By March my cleaning lady called and said I think it’s time. I called our vet, left a message, and of course my 2nd graders came in the door when she called back. One of them asked about Leia. He said it happened to his dog too. We agreed that someday I should write this part of Leia’s story, saying goodbye.
I took her to the vet the next day. She gave Leia the shot, and as she passed I told story after story, about how much we loved her.
When I returned to school my kids asked. Word spread. My sister teacher in 3rd grade found out on bus duty. My kids passed the word to her and to my old 3rd and 4th graders. We were family.
My Texas son, daughter-in-law, and their 2 dogs sent me flowers. Here’s part of my Facebook thank you to the dogs: Your flowers made me cry, but they also made me think of the stories Leia would tell you like how to squirt between 2 children so they don't catch you, or how to find M&M's and drag them to your crate.
This post is about silver linings, and that’s what I found. I asked my school nurse how to get through the grief. I’d never gone through it before. She said put a rubber band on your wrist. When you feel tears, snap it!
I found something better, memories. When tears came, and they did for a week or two, I would close my eyes and remember Leia pulling my kids down the street. It made me smile again, and I hugged it to my heart.
My other silver lining is having her story in my computer, waiting for the right time to become a book. Our picture will be on the author page together, the one from our photo shoot.
The third and final story is about my dad and his last summer. It was the end of May 2015, my last week as a teacher. That’s when we got the call that dad needed hospice care. I knew that meant he was dying.
Hospice doesn’t help you live. You only qualify if you have a terminal disease. There is no hope. Nothing left to try. Hospice helps a patient face death, as comfortably as possible.
Sometimes you only have a few days. Sometimes a week. In May we didn’t know how much time was left. It turned out to be 4 more months.
From 2011 on, Dad lived in a nursing home. Hospice worked with his nurses to minimize his pain, to help him end life as comfortably as possible.
Hospice also helped my family to understand what was happening. When changes in medications needed to be made, dad’s hospice team would call and guide us through them.
The saddest thing about 2015 and watching dad go downhill was that he would never hear my stories. A friend said tape them. I did, and Dad could hear my voice anytime his nurses pushed play.
After school let out, once a week I went in to read with dad. I started with my stories first – 2 bat stories, golfing with dad, the ants, Leia’s story, all of them. Then I turned to my kindle.
I started with MARLEY AND ME and Nora Ephron’s I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK. Both stories are about aging and death. They gave me a chance to talk about the important things – dogs and kids, aging and death. I’m grateful for that time with my dad, to read, to talk to him about the things that mattered. I left nothing unsaid.
The last time I saw my dad was the week before my son’s wedding. I told him I had to leave, when I’d be back, and that it would be OK for him to go. My son’s wedding was Saturday, September 19. Dad died Tuesday the 22nd. I didn’t make it home, but I was at peace. I had said everything I needed to say. I’m glad for my summer of silver linings.
The Inspiration for this post came from STRANDS OF MY WINDING CLOTH (The Elizabeth of England Chronicles, Book 4) by Gemma Lawrence. I read the passage below and knew I wanted to share it in a post. It’s how I feel about life, death, and how to live on.
I messaged Gemma for permission to quote this passage – Elizabeth had just asked Kat Ashley how to fight death, and this is how she answered . . .
“Live, Elizabeth. That is all that can be done against Death. Live each day and know the beauty of life. Laugh with friends, and know that even when Death separates us, we are never lost to one another. Love those who deserve your love, and be grateful to be loved in return.”
Kat wrapped her arms tight about me. “Speak the names of those who have died, so that they are not lost from memory. Step out into the sunshine and the rain with equal joy, and cherish the feel of the wind upon your skin.
Know that to live is a gift, and even when it is taken from us, understand we have been fortunate to possess such grace.”
She pulled me closer. “That is all that can be done, Elizabeth, to thwart Death. None of us can escape Him for all time, nor should we mourn such a fact.
When He is done with His work, He takes us to join those we have loved and lost in Heaven. But enjoy life for as long as it is yours. In that way do we defy Death. In that way do we learn to live without fear of Him.”
That’s what I’ve tried to do since Alzheimer’s took my dad. Since old age took my dog. I live, and I look for silver linings. For hidden, unexpected joy, and I always find it.
In 2020 I still use silver linings to handle things like Covid. To help my mother with her steady decline. Mom has always been the Ever-Ready Bunny. She never, ever, stopped moving.
After dad died, she slowed down, sits down, and even naps. She never did that before, ever. I know our time is finite, not forever, so I look for those silver linings – like finding letters from my grandfather that Mom forgot she had, or discovering my prom picture from 1977. Yikes! That was 43 years ago if I got the math right!
Here’s the link for G. Lawrence’s book (That’s her writing name!):
Part 1 – Update on Taking a Writing Class
I wrote a post about taking a writing class back in June. Here’s the link: http://www.rindabeach.com/blog/taking-a-writing-class
It started with this illustration and these words: This is the main character from a story I’ve worked on since 2011. Her name, Poppy Minor . . .
That was June 13th. I was finishing chapters 13 & 14, and I was 44 days into my class. I was still hoping to finish all 30 chapters, by the middle of July. I said I’d update you back on June 13th, and here it is . . .
I sent in Chapters 13 & 14 on June 18. Chapters 19 & 20 went in July 7.
I sent in Chapters 15 & 16 on June 28. Chapters 21 & 22 went in July 20.
I sent in Chapters 17 & 18 on July 2. Chapters 23 & 24 went in on July 29.
It took me about 7 days to edit and submit two chapters. Then I fell off a cliff!
I sent in Chapter 25 & 26 on September 12. It took me 45 days to get them done.
Chapter 25 only took 3 or 4 days. Chapter 26 took the rest. I knew it would be more than a week, but I never ever would have guessed 40. That’s Biblical! Like Noah and that ark, 40 days and 40 nights!
Left: Chapters 27 & 28 The final Chapters 29 & 30
Will it take me 90 days to finish 4 chapters? It could even be 30- 40 days a chapter. I hope not! I’d love to finish before Christmas!
Part 2 – How & Why I Got Stuck
Poor Poppy! She was stuck in her story like this ant is trapped in amber. I hadn’t written or edited Chapter 26 in 5 years. The good news – I grew as a writer during that time. The bad – the words in Chapter 26 were trapped in time.
The other 25 chapters grew with me. I learned to add in the 5 senses. Writing what Poppy saw was easy, but the others were harder. Middle grade novels don’t have pictures so words have to show what Poppy was hearing, smelling, feeling, even tasting. That’s how readers become part of the story.
I also learned how to show, then tell. In stories you never say Poppy’s sad. You write . . . Poppy was lost outside. She couldn’t find her way home. She felt hopeless. Showing, then telling helps you bond with a character.
Then I took a writing class in May and June. I worked my way through those first 25 chapters. I learned how to give each character their own personality. I have 6 ants in the story, but each one has to be different. You have to tell them apart, like you do with identical twins.
I added a new character, another bee. He has to be different than the first one, and he has to become part of the plot.
I also built up the middle. It used to be saggy. Now it’s not. I have 2 more chapters till I reach the climax. In a middle grade novel that’s the point where the main character is hopeless. They feel like everything is lost, that they will never succeed. I must push Poppy to the breaking point. Then in chapters 29 and 30 I can drive her towards a satisfying ending.
I wonder, will chapter 27 and 28 be harder than 26? Will I reach my breaking point?
I think chapter 29 and 30 will be easy, like Sunday morning. At least that’s what Lionel Richie used to sing about.
PS – I’ll do an update to let you know.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!