Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘Informational Stuff’ Category

Time to Heal…

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Folks, I’m glad to finally be able to tell you that I think I’m on the mend.

Note that I said “I think,” because I’ve had health reversals before. Still, I am hopeful that I’m not speaking too soon, as I now have antibiotics and steroids and feel much clearer of mind. (Thus, the hope is that I’ll be sounder of body soon as well.)

How did this happen? Well, yesterday I marched into urgent care, and told ’em that I felt like I was getting weaker and weaker, and sicker and sicker. I also had a temperature, which is very rare for me; it was 99.8 F when I went in there and it was 99.4 on the way out. As my normal temp is lower than most people’s, this was almost shocking. (To them as well, as they’ve seen me a lot in the last two years.)

I have another sinus infection.

It’s frustrating that this one got so bad, especially since I’ve been trying to take care of my health. I did call my doctors, but every single one said I needed someone else to make the call. Only the ENT doctor was willing to try to get me an appointment, and he didn’t have one until after the first of the year. (I took it.)

That said, I now have medication that has helped — after only one day — to clear my mind significantly, as I said before.

The other problem I had yesterday was that my phone’s battery was low even though I’d charged it before leaving the house. I was supposed to take my mother to a dental appointment. She needed this. Unfortunately, I had zero bars, and the phone was just barely working. Text takes less energy than a phone call, so I sent her several texts.

And, of course, she did not get them in a timely manner.

I feel very bad about this. But I don’t think I could have done anything else.

She did call me, but I was waiting for medication at that time and the phone was still low battery anyway. I didn’t see that she’d actually called until I got back home and was charging the phone. At that point I called and left her a voicemail.

That I was not able to help my mother saddens me greatly. That I couldn’t reach her due to technical problems to do with my very old phone (at least eight years old, and a flip-phone; the cellular carrier has said it must be upgraded next year) is extremely frustrating.

I don’t blame her for being furious.

Anyway, that is all I know. (Time to heal, I guess.)

Have you ever been failed by technology? Or had to work through months of illness? Tell me about it in the comments! (I hope you’re reading out there…)

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 16, 2021 at 11:50 am

Struggling, but Alive

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Folks, I am dealing with some health issues that aren’t getting much better (despite all my trying, and despite the intervention of the most thorough allergy doctor I’ve ever known). This is the main reason I haven’t blogged much in the past week. (Hell, make it more like the last year, and you’d probably be closer to right.)

I get to trot off to the urgent care clinic in the morning, again, in the hopes they can do something — anything — to help me.

Note that I called my own doctor’s office three times in the past week, and tried to talk with a nurse about two things: this lingering illness, and whether or not I can get a Covid booster shot while I’m ill. (Most people say no. Now I’m going to have to ask them in urgent care about that, too.)

Urgent care clinics have been overwhelmed since the pandemic, because of doctors elsewhere being asked to do too much (so the urgent care clinics also get to do way too much, as crap runs downhill), and also because no one seems to know much about what policies any given clinic should have. (Some doctors are flexible. Some aren’t. My own primary care doc seems to be on the less flexible side, but it may be that people are out due to the pandemic and again are being asked to do way too much.)

I feel sorry for the urgent care folks. Truly, I do. I agree with them that they should not be having to see me so often, and that someone, anyone else should’ve responded this past week (so maybe I’d have had antibiotics earlier this week; this has to be bacterial in origin as it’s gone on for much of the past year, and it does respond to antibiotics, as viruses do not).

But as they’re the only game in town on the weekend, and as I continue to be so ill that I can barely hold my head up, I’m going to have to force myself out there in the morning.

Wish me luck with this nonsense, will you?

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 5, 2021 at 1:45 am

Posted in Informational Stuff

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The Waukesha Parade Tragedy, Ten Days Later

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Folks, on November 21, 2021, a man who I shall not name drove his SUV into a parade route and injured over sixty people, killing six. The youngest of the six was eight; the oldest of the six was eighty-one.

There are any number of GoFundMes set up for various people who got hurt during the Waukesha Parade, but the best place to go to see a good number of them is here. I do urge you to donate, if you can.

Anyway, I’ve found the Waukesha Parade tragedy an extremely difficult thing to talk about, because some of those hit by the driver (I’ve called him a lunatic/maniac/criminal on Facebook, and that does seem to fit) were musicians who played in the Waukesha South Marching Band.

I can easily picture myself doing what those young musicians were — just playing their music, minding their own business, trying to make people happy during the holidays — and get so upset, so frustrated, and so deeply angry that anyone would want to interfere with those kids just playing their horns that it’s been all I can do not to break into tears at odd moments.

My best friend played in the Lighthouse Brigade Band (in Racine). So did my sister. So did quite a few of my high school bandmates. (I didn’t, because my first instrument was the oboe. There is no such thing as a marching oboist. I didn’t take up the sax until fifteen, and the clarinet until seventeen.) So I can easily put the people I know into that context, and think, “There but for the grace of God…”

Yet, why should we have to think this, when all we want to do is spread a little holiday cheer?

There’s another reason this all hit home, too. That’s in the nature of what happened with the Dancing Grannies, a beloved Milwaukee-area institution. You have to be a grandmother to dance with the Dancing Grannies. And one member, just fifty-two, was performing for the very first (and last) time. While another member, seventy-nine, filled in at the last minute by holding the banner (as someone had to do it).

Four people affiliated with the Dancing Grannies died. (One was one of the Dancing Grannies’ husbands.)

I know how it feels to go from wife to widow in the blink of an eye. (At least, it feels like it, at the time.) And I also know how awful it is to have to go see your spouse, in the hospital, hooked up to multitudinous machines, just praying to God/dess that you will somehow, some way, be able to hug your husband again. Hear his voice again. Hell, even hear him complain again about something…just so long as he’s there to do it, you see.

Too many people lost their spouses, suddenly, for no damned good reason.

And too many kids, just playing in the band and doing their best to uplift people’s spirits, were injured as well.

The child who died was only eight, and he played baseball. His twelve-year-old brother was apparently thrown out of the way (best I could tell from grainy video evidence), as he had road rash (which he’d most likely not have had if he’d been hit) and much lesser injuries than his younger brother.

So, I keep thinking of the last acts of the Dancing Grannies. Some of them were trying to get others out of the way, knowing full well they were going to be hurt, or killed. But doing what they could in a time of crisis to save lives was an admirable act of selflessness that I wish was being celebrated in the news.

I have a category here on my blog called “Truly Horrible Behavior.” The actions of that SUV driver qualify.

I truly wish that SUV driver had never gone onto the Waukesha parade route at all, much less hit all those people. But as my wishes don’t count for much after the fact — and before the fact, who could’ve possibly thought of something so vile? — I don’t know what to say other than this:

Keep the spirit of the holidays in your heart, despite it all.

Care for others, even if it doesn’t seem worth it.

Let those you love know it, even if it sounds silly or contrived. (The action of saying it isn’t, no matter how it sounds.)

Find a cause you care about, and donate time, or money, or whatever else you can think of to it, because life is short, and meaningful acts sometimes seem shorter still.

Remember those who lost their lives.

Remember those who were injured.

And, finally, do what you can to drive back the darkness. It’s tough. I know that. (I am fighting as hard as I can, myself.) But we must live through all this, as witnesses, and do what we can to shape a better world, one act of grace at a time.

Holidays, Schmolidays: A Rant

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I read an article online about a young woman who planned a “Friendsgiving” dinner (Thanksgiving dinner, with friends), but no one showed up. Her boyfriend, thankfully, asked a lot of his friends to show up instead, and the food and drink she’d so carefully amassed and cooked was consumed.

This article was frustrating to read, in more than one way.

First off, if you have friends, treat them like gold.

In other words, do not stand them up. Do not forget to call if you’re going to be late (or can’t come at all). Do not do what happened to this poor young woman, as it’s beyond rude.

Second off, if you have even a smidgen of empathy, you need to realize that how you treat others shows how you, yourself, should be treated.

So, if you can’t be bothered to let a friend know that you aren’t able to be with them…or if a long-distance phone call is planned, and you aren’t able to make it…or if there’s some other reason that keeps you away from their presence after they’ve made so many plans, there’s something the matter with you.

And I say that knowing full well I, myself, have had to beg off plans at the last minute due to health concerns. (In fact, I wasn’t able to be at my father’s birthday celebration yesterday because I had a migraine. This cost me a chance to see my sister and niece, too.)

I was ill, so I texted my sister and made my apologies. That was all I could do. (My father doesn’t text, and doesn’t understand it. I knew my sister would tell him, and she did. I’ll try to make it up to him later, if I can.)

So, if I can do it through a migraine, what is everyone else’s excuse?

This poor woman was expecting at least ten friends to show up (by how many place settings she had sitting out), and none showed. Not one person had the decency to call or text her, either.

That’s just plain wrong.

The only good excuse for not being able to let someone know what happened to you if time was planned (online and/or off) to be with you is a quick trip to the hospital, unconscious. (I might reluctantly accept a work emergency, too, depending. Might.)

Third off, why must people be so obnoxious?

Life is really hard right now. We have the pandemic, which goes on and on and on. We have the holidays, which are tough, especially for people grieving a new loss (or even an older one where the loss was huge and heartfelt).

(In fact, I wrote a blog post called “Please Remember Those Who Grieve During the Holidays” years ago, because I felt it needed to be said. But as always, I digress…)

And people who’ve lost loved ones who mattered deeply and desperately to them deserve to know that other people care. That other people are thinking about them. That other people do understand their losses, at least insofar as they have themselves gone through various losses.

So, if you have good friends, cherish them. Do not take them for granted. Do not stand them up on Friendsgiving. Do not treat them like they don’t exist, or don’t matter.

Pay attention. Stay in their lives. And think beyond your own concerns about others, because that’s truly what life is all about.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 27, 2021 at 2:57 am

When the Going Gets Tough…

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Folks, I wanted to stop by and let you all know that I’m starting to get a little better. I’m weak, somewhat dehydrated, and and extremely tired, but the symptoms of the food poisoning are finally gone.

As I said before, I think what happened is this: The Irish sausages I ordered were not fully cooked, as they were cold when they got to the table. Even eating the half-portion I ate was enough to put me down for the count for the past week.

So, now I am going to try to slowly ramp up again. I hope to do some writing (fiction included). I hope to do some editing. I also hope to play my sax and maybe my clarinet soon…there’s a concert scheduled for late January with the Racine Concert Band that I want to take part in, and I want to be ready to go before the first rehearsal for that starts in mid-January.

I don’t know how tough I am, mind, but I do know I’m committed, determined, and persistent.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s the only way to be.

Let me know how you’re doing in the comments.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 9, 2021 at 2:34 am

Aaron Rodgers, Covid-19, Personal Responsibility, and You: A Sunday Thoughts Post

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Folks, if you are a sports fan — or even if you’re not — and you live in the United States, you’re probably aware of the foofaraw around Aaron Rodgers. (I do like that word, foofaraw. Anyway, I digress.) He said when he reported to the Packers in August that he had been “immunized” against Covid-19, but he hadn’t actually been vaccinated. Instead, he had some sort of holistic treatment (also known as a homeopathic treatment) meant to raise his overall antibody count.

A few weeks ago, his team, the Green Bay Packers (the Wisconsin state-wide team, for lack of a better term; the Packers are also one of the most recognizable American football teams in the world), had a couple of their best wide receivers out due to Covid-19. One, Davante Adams, was vaccinated. The other, Allen Lazard, was not.

I say all this because we learned, at that time, that NFL players are treated differently depending on whether they’ve been vaccinated or not. Lazard had to miss a minimum amount of time, and could not be tested until that minimum time (ten days, I think) had passed, even though he was only listed as a “close contact” of Davante Adams and didn’t directly have Covid at the time. Whereas Adams, once he tested negative for Covid twice, would’ve been eligible to play. (There also was a scheduling hiccup where the Packers had an especially short week in that they were the Thursday night game of the week, which did not help anything. I mention this for completion/emendation more than anything else.)

So, this past week, Rodgers himself tested positive for Covid-19. Because he is not vaxxed, he has to sit out a minimum of ten days. This is due to an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA (player’s association). At that point, if he tests negative, he’ll be all right to play again.

In the meantime, he’s had the monoclonal antibodies. (He said this on a 45-minute long talk show appearance.) He also took the controversial drug ivermectin, which is used to treat parasites, including some roundworm infections. There has been no proven benefit to ivermectin as of this writing with regards to Covid, but some swear by it.

Now, do I like it that Rodgers took ivermectin? No, I don’t. I think taking ivermectin for Covid is silly and stupid.

But it’s his life. His body. His choice. His responsibility.

Where I get more frustrated with Rodgers is that in not getting vaxxed, but saying he was (i.e., “immunized”), he skirted the truth. He plays a team sport where all 53 guys on the team are in close proximity during practices and games. Not being vaccinated meant he could spread Covid more easily than a vaxxed person (even though — and I know someone’s going to think of this — it certainly is possible for a vaccinated person to spread Covid also with some of the variants. The trick is, they should not be spreading as virulent of a variant. Try to say that five times fast. It’s not easy. But again, I digress.)

I think “your choice, your responsibility” ends when you can conceivably hurt someone else — a loved one, a personal friend, a co-worker — due to being unvaccinated.

Now, Rodgers is going to be protected from Covid for a time due to the monoclonal antibodies. He should not get it again for several months. By that time, if he wishes, he can get one of the easily available Covid shots. (He said he’s allergic to two, the Pfizer and Moderna.) The Johnson and Johnson shot was not available for a week or ten days in the summer, so that apparently unnerved Rodgers. (No one, yet, has asked Rodgers, who has plenty of money as he’s a multimillionaire, why he didn’t just hop on a plane to the UK and get the AstroZeneca vax that’s in use over there.)

I still think “tempest in a tea cup” here, for the most part, because Rodgers is a sports star. While he’s of a more intellectual bent than many football players, he’s still not a nuclear physicist. Nor is he a doctor, much less an infectious disease specialist.

What he is, as I think he’d admit, is an intelligent layman.

I think he did do research. I don’t know why it led him into what to me seems like a blind alley. But his error was more of omission than commission. That doesn’t make it right. But it may remind us all to pause, and think hard about who’s giving us advice about our health.

As Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett put it in a recent press event (my best paraphrase), you pick a health expert to tell you about the virus. You only pick a football expert like Rodgers to either play or explain football.

But I did mention you in the above title, and it’s time to get down to brass tacks.

The upshot, for you, with the Covid-19 vaccines is simple: Who are you around everyday? Are your loved ones immunocompromised? (Maybe they have to do kidney dialysis. Or they’re undergoing cancer treatment.) Can you safely be around them, masked or unmasked, for long periods of time if you haven’t had the vaccine yet? And if you don’t like or trust masks — many don’t, myself included (I wear them, but I definitely don’t like them) — are you willing to bet your loved ones’ lives in this matter?

That’s your basic risk/benefit calculation, right there. And it’s what I considered, myself, before getting my first shot of the Covid vaccine (Team Pfizer, if you must know). I knew I have weird allergies, and I told ’em right off the bat about them.

So if Rodgers is allergic, he has a reason not to get Pfizer and/or Moderna. (If he tried and had an allergic reaction, I mean.) But if he was worried about an allergy, as I was, all he had to do was sit there for a half-hour rather than the standard fifteen minutes after he got the shot, and see how he reacted. I know I did that both times, and I will be doing it again when I get the booster shot soon.

Anyway, what you need to know, this Sunday, is simple:

Make your best choices. Do your research. Be prepared to defend your choices, if need be. (That goes for the entirety of life, not just whether or not you get the Covid-19 vax.)

But don’t obfuscate about it, as the obfuscation in this case is what got Rodgers into trouble in the first place.

And for the love of little green apples, please stop putting sports stars, actors, musicians, and other public figures on pedestals. They’re like anyone else: fallible and mortal.

As we have just seen with Aaron Rodgers.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 7, 2021 at 3:13 am

And now…food poisoning?

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Folks, in my last blog I told you I’d been dealing with some ongoing issues for a couple of months. Mostly, it’s been my sinuses; there has been a recent suggestion of different allergies than I’m used to having, so I have to get an appointment with the allergist soon.

The one bit of good news I had was that I was going to see my friends from Colorado, who I haven’t seen in at least five-six years, while they drove through Wisconsin on their way back home from seeing family elsewhere.

Murphy’s Law, however, has bit me again, as the restaurant we chose to eat at gave me food poisoning.

Now, some of you are probably sitting out there going, “Barb, how do you know it was that restaurant?”

Simple. I was coming out of a migraine. I had eaten nothing the previous 24 hours, at all, save one sandwich while I was at my good friend’s in Racine (she came with and met my friends, and we all had dinner together). That sandwich could not have possibly given me food poisoning, as everything was at the proper temperature. (My friend is a very good cook, and she takes pride in that, as she should.) I’ve also had this particular sandwich many times (as it’s very good), and it’s never set me off before.

So, we went to this restaurant. I had Irish white sausages called “bangers,” as Michael used to make them. However, the way he made them — which was superlative — and the way this place made them (in beef broth, with veggies; oh, the horror!) was not anywhere close. Because of the way they were cooked, it was impossible to tell if they were cooked all the way through. And the food was slightly cold, which means those bangers were the most likely way I came down with food poisoning.

Most of us who cook at all — like me — know that if food is not hot when you get it, and it contains any type of sausage, be wary of it. Fortunately, I was wary, and I did not eat more than half of the meal.

Eating that half of the meal, though, has put me down for the count now for three and a half days.

That means no fiction writing has taken place. Fewer manuscripts have been looked at than I’d planned on, too. And I’ve had to go much more slowly than usual, as my concentration has been broken by having constant fevers and chills.

Before anyone asks, yes, I did go to the Urgent Care clinic. I was worried this might be a case of the flu as this was considered to be all wrong for Covid. (Thank the Goddess for that.) The nurse practitioner I saw said she’s seen no flu yet, and my symptoms were not the ones she’d expect. But she thought I was wise to go right in, because if it had been flu, they could’ve given me Tamiflu (something that will shorten a flu cycle; it also can be given only in the first two days of the flu’s onset, or it will not work well).

In a case of food poisoning, all you can really do is wait it out. Drink lots of water. Eat bland foods, for the most part. Get your rest. And live to fight another day.

So, now I’m waiting out the case of food poisoning. That obviously wasn’t on my bucket list for the year, but…I’ve no choice in the matter.

Once I feel well enough, I will be contacting the restaurant in question to let them know I had food poisoning. I don’t think anything will get done, but I do have to let them know.

Has anyone else reading this blog had a case of food poisoning? How long did it take to go away? When did you start feeling well again? Please tell me in the comments, if you have anything to share…as right now I definitely feel like I’m shouting into the void (or at least the wind tunnel) again.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 4, 2021 at 4:31 am

Another Day, Another…

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I figured I’d best drop a wee “bloglet” here, to let you all know I’m still alive.

While I’ve had many things that I’ve wanted to talk about, I’ve simply been running out of time lately. I finished one edit, and am working on several more. (As for most people, work comes before everything else.) I’ve also been dealing with my health. And the best guess any of the doctors I’ve seen has as to why I feel so lousy beyond the usual suspects (which include fibromyalgia) is that I may have an acute allergy of some sort.

Now, I’ve lived with a particularly bad bee sting/wasp sting allergy for years, so I know allergies are no joke. (Michael also had some allergies to egg whites, banana skins but not the bananas inside providing there was no skin or oil left on the banana, and tree nuts, so I’m aware of these issues as well.) I also get the “free and clear” laundry detergent, use the “free and clear” fabric softener (though I have found one of the Downy regular ones — the extra-large sheets — doesn’t set off any skin issues), and try to avoid things that give me indigestion on the off chance it may also be some sort of allergy. (Thus my avoidance of artichokes.)

So, next week I get to talk with the allergist’s office to see about setting up an appointment to be evaluated there.

I’m also taking a low-dose oral steroid (as the doctor feels my infection is gone, but everything remains inflamed in there), working to tolerance (oh, how I hate that phrase), and hoping I’ll regain enough energy soon to play my musical instruments as well as write fiction and poetry again.

I’m also looking forward to seeing some old friends over the weekend, as they’re passing through my neck of the woods on a driving trip. It’ll be good to see them, as I haven’t seen them in several years.

So, for the moment, I remain in a holding pattern, health-wise. I will try everything the doctor suggested, though, to get my sinuses to stop giving me fits…and hope that the allergist has some guidance for me (as I already take OTC allergy meds) that will do some good as well.

What’s going on with you and yours? Tell me about it in the comments! (That way I won’t feel like I’m shouting into the void again.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 30, 2021 at 2:36 am

Friday Oddities…and a Brewers Playoff Series Starts

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Folks, it’s Friday. And as this week has been full of odd things, I figured I’d mention a few of ’em before getting to the main event (that being the Milwaukee Brewers playoff series, starting today).

A few days ago, I got an “urgent alert” warning me to stay in my home due to heavy police presence in the area. It turned out that I was on the far edge of this, and the police presence was due to a federal agent getting shot while serving a warrant. I didn’t see any extra police, but followed the updates on my computer once I figured out what was going on.

Anyway, these things do not happen often in my neck of the woods. I did find it strange, and I hope the federal agent will recover promptly. (Last I read, the agent was in stable condition. The person being served the warrant apparently committed suicide.)

Next, my Malwarebytes software decided that my own blog was spam. I had a Hell of a time getting in, to the point I seriously thought about uninstalling Malwarebytes. (It had the nerve to say “lightly trafficked websites run the risk of blah blah blah, blah blah blah.” I felt like pitching my computer out the window.) I had to tell it five times that I wanted to continue to the site before I could get in here, and every time it did the same, damned thing.

Anyway, the good oddity — if you can call it that, considering they’ve been to the playoffs now four years running — is that the Milwaukee Brewers are playing the Atlanta Braves today in the National League playoffs. This Brewers team is known for its pitching far more than its hitting, as it has the NL’s ERA leader (for lowest amount of earned runs per nine innings pitched) in Corbin Burnes along with two other starting pitchers who’d probably be aces for most of the other teams in Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta. They also have an outstanding closer in Josh Hader, and many other good relievers, besides. The Braves team is more traditionally balanced, and definitely has more hitters with playoff experience than do the Brewers.

I’m hoping the Brewers will play very well, that they’ll hit surprisingly well, and that their pitching will perform up to standard. If so, it should be an exciting series, and fun to watch for this fan.

Anyway, what’s going on for you on this Friday? (I hope you haven’t been having to deal with the same crap as I have with regards to getting Malwarebytes to recognize my own blog as a safe and protected site, mind you.) Let me know in the comments!

Seventeen Years Later…

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Folks, the last few weeks I have been very quiet. There was a reason for that.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ve probably read about my late husband Michael. I’ve never stopped talking about him and his manifold talents. He was a writer, editor, contracts administrator, and overall Renaissance Man. He was my equal, my partner, my best friend, my co-writer, and so much more. By far, Michael was the most important person ever to be in my life, and by far, his loss seventeen years ago was the most devastating loss I’ve ever suffered.

Mind, I had been married before I met him. He, too, had been married before he met me. We both knew what we wanted when we finally found each other, and we both vowed to do everything we could to make our marriage work and to support each other to the limit our human bodies would allow…and maybe a bit more.

And we both lived up to those vows.

There’s no way I will ever be able to forget Michael’s life, but around this time I also am bombarded with images from Michael’s untimely death.

I remember the EMTs, and their idiocy. (One asked if I was Michael’s daughter, and I snapped, “No, I’m his wife. Now please get him into the ambulance already!”)

I remember the doctor at the hospital asking why I didn’t catch my husband as he fell from the first heart attack. (He was behind me, I told them, and he fell backward. I would’ve surely tried, though I’m sure I’d have dislocated both arms had I managed, if I’d been behind him.)

I see that. I can’t help but see that. And the only thing I know that will get me away from seeing that is to work as hard as I can and hope I’m too tired to worry about it, else.

That means over the past week I’ve finished two full-length edits.

So, when I’m working hard on the one hand, and am seeing all this other stuff due to the sad anniversary on the other, I don’t blog much.

I’ll try to blog more, though, now that I’ve officially gotten past the sad anniversary of my husband Michael’s death. I want to talk more about writing, more about editing, and because the world is what it is, probably other things I see or hear that drive me batty.

So, do keep dropping by, will you? And I’ll try to keep you all in the loop. (Promise.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 22, 2021 at 8:29 pm