Friday, January 31, 2014

Random 5 Friday: The last day of January

Happy Friday to you on this last day of January! Can you believe the first month of 2014 is almost over? It seems to have flown by.
I’m joining Nancy of A Rural Journal for Random 5 Friday. Check out Nancy’s blog to find more posts where bloggers share their random facts.

Snow on the camellia bush.

We had another snowfall this week. We were supposed to get mostly flurries in our area, but we got more than that.
The roads were treacherous Tuesday night. I had to work at the newspaper office into the evening, but Larry came to the office and followed me home in case I had trouble getting up any of the hills. I made it fine, but it was nice knowing he was behind me.

My work week at the newspaper wasn’t as hectic as I thought it would be. A trial set for Wednesday went to a plea last Friday.

My schedule seems to be different every week and can change at the last minute. That makes it hard to have a lot of week-to-week routine.
I am working on finding a more peaceful morning routine. It’s hard for me to get up early before it’s light outside, but I feel so much better when I get an early start.
I have got to stop hitting that snooze button.
What time do you get up in the morning?

My skin is suffering from the cold, dry air of winter. My hands look like claws. They’re not like they were when washing OCD ruled my habits, but they are dry and rough. I have dry patches on my face, too.
I probably don’t put enough lotion on. I don’t like the thick feeling of too much lotion, and it seems to make my face oily if I’m not careful.
What lotion do you use for dry skin? Do you know of anything that moisturizes without leading to breakouts?

Chase Bird loves to curl up in small, dark, warm spaces, especially during the day. To accommodate him, we arrange a kitty blanket over different chairs, wherever he’s hanging out, so he can hide away and sleep.

Here’s one we fixed in the den. It’s where Larry usually sits when he’s watching TV. But he gives up the chair for his Chase Bird.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The influence of my childhood reading

Having to empty one of my bookcases to move it for the heat pump work was an inconvenience. But on the positive side, it has allowed me to look over some books that I haven’t opened in years.
Some of those books are ones that I received as a child.
I was a bookworm from an early age. I remember being fascinated with books even before I could do more than recognize the letters of the alphabet.

OCD has bothered my reading on and off, but I always find my way back to the love of reading.

Trixie, Honey, Diana, Jim, Brian, and Mart find mysteries to solve even while on vacation in Arizona.

I found my first two Trixie Belden mysteries among some books that my oldest brother had read when he was a young boy. Those Trixie Belden books started my lifelong love of mystery books.
I eventually collected most of the series, but over the years, through a lot of moves as a young adult, I’ve ended up with just two.

I took the whole box of Little House books with me on vacation one time and read my favorite parts as I rode in the car.

When I was in the third or fourth grade, I received the Little House books for Christmas. I read and reread those books so many times. I can still remember many of the stories.

This is the second book in the series, where the Ingalls family moves out to the prairies.

I got in the habit as a child of writing my name in my books. Here’s my signature as a child:

Nancy Drew was another favorite series. I collected a lot of them, and still have them. Password to Larkspur Lane was one of the best.

This book had some scary moments. Nancy helped rescue some elderly people being held against their will.
I’m still working on organizing my books. I’m moving them around on different bookcases, trying to give them a logical order and trying to keep them neat enough to enjoy looking at.
Here’s what I’ve done so far. You can see that I still love mysteries.

On the top shelves, you’ll find Sue Grafton, Kathy Reichs, Meg Gardiner and Lee Child. On the bottom shelf are my Trixie Belden, Little House, and Nancy Drew books.

I’ve recently discovered the mystery/thriller novels of John Sandford. I’ll be adding his books to the shelves soon.

What did you read when you were a child? If you read mysteries now, who is your favorite author?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Let’s not leave out anyone

You may have heard in the news last November that a Virginia state senator, Creigh Deeds, was attacked by his son at his home before his son killed himself.
The CBS news program 60 Minutes did a story on Creigh Deeds and Gus Deeds Sunday night, and it shed more light on what happened in November and how the U.S. is not equipped with resources to properly care for those with mental illness.
In a segment called “Nowhere to Go: Mentally Ill Youth in Crisis,” Creigh Deeds tells his story about trying to get help for his son. Creigh Deeds got an emergency custody order, which lasted just six hours, to get his son to an emergency department in Virginia, but he and his son ended up going home without the help Gus Deeds needed.
The next morning, Gus Deeds attacked his father with a knife before shooting and killing himself.

The story notes that most people with mental illness are not violent. The story focuses on those “who are a danger to themselves or others.”

You can view the segment or read the script HERE.

In the 60 Minutes interview, Creigh Deeds said, “There’s just a lack of equity in the way we as a society, and certainly as a government and insurance industry, medical industry, with the way we look at mental health issues.”

I agree with him. What can we do about that?

Here are some suggestions:
*Find out what is going on in your state with mental health services. Are they adequate? Do they meet the needs in each community?
*Support legislation that would improve services.
*Be a friend to those in your life who have mental illnesses. Be the kind of friend that you are to those without mental illnesses.
*Remember that there is much more to a person than his or her mental illness, just as there is much more to a person with diabetes than his or physical challenge.
*Seek help if you have any concerns about your mental health.
*If given the opportunity, be a voice for those who have mental illness. Remind others that those with mental illnesses deserve the same kinds of sympathy and help that those with physical illnesses deserve.

Thank you for reading this and for your support of me on this blog. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

A cold Random 5 Friday

Happy Friday! I hope if you’re in a cold part of the world, you are staying warm.
It’s time for another Random 5 Friday, a great meme started by Nancy at A Rural Journal. To read more random posts and to join in, click HERE.

It’s so cold here, some of the meager snow we got on Tuesday is still hanging around. As I write this on Thursday night, the weather people are calling for temps in the single digits by morning, with wind chill 0 and below. That’s cold for Central Virginia.
I don’t usually wear hats, but I’m wearing them these days. Gloves are a must, too. And layers.
What are you doing to stay warm?

Snow in the yard on Wednesday.
It was cold, but the sky was blue.

In the continuing story of the heat pump, the contractor called early Wednesday and said they couldn’t come that day because they hadn’t finished up the job that took them away on Monday.
So they returned Thursday and got the new heat pump installed and hooked up to the electric heat. They’re supposed to come today and finish.
We will believe it when we see it.

As most of you know, I work 32 hours a week as a newspaper reporter for a weekly newspaper.
I recently read something interesting. CareerCast came out with its list of the most stressful jobs in 2014. “Newspaper reporter” was number 8.
I had to laugh when I read it. My first thought was, why is a person with anxiety disorders working in one of the most stressful jobs?
From comments I read on the site, not everyone agrees with the list, of course. And I don’t think my job stress can compare to those who work in personally dangerous situations or who work to save others’ lives.
But it was all food for thought.
What has been your most stressful job?

My job with the newspaper can be very interesting. We have such a small editorial staff—one other staff writer and the editor—that we all end up covering a variety of stories.
Just on Wednesday of this week, I conducted a phone interview with an expert on senior issues. Then I did an in-person interview with the fitness director at the local Y on mind-body fitness. Finally, I covered a visit to Altavista by Sen. Mark Warner, one of Virginia’s senators.
On Saturday, I will cover the local chamber’s annual awards dinner. Next week, I’ll cover a murder trial in the county.

Chase Bird will be glad when the heat pump work is done. Every time the HVAC workers appear, he has to be put behind the gate in the back bedroom.
He still goes in there on his own to eat sometimes. We kept his water bowl and a dry food bowl in there even after he got full access to the house last fall. Sometimes he sits on a stool by the window or in a cat bed in there.

But it’s better when it’s on his terms.

Chase Bird.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow and expectations

Whatever it is you're seeking won't come in the form you're expecting.”
― Haruki Murakami

I made a private vow that I was going to place less value on expectations. But, like a lot of things we decide to do, it’s harder than it seems at first.

We got our first real snow of the winter on Tuesday. I expected we would get at least a couple of inches.
We didn’t get enough to cover the grass completely.
I was disappointed. But the snow that did fall was pretty. And I still took some photos. The pictures aren’t good—I didn’t get much chance to be outdoors until after dark—but I still enjoyed it.

Snow outside the office in the late afternoon Tuesday.

Snow in our front yard in the evening.

A little snow on the bench by our side door.

The HVAC people came on Monday to work on the heat pump. I expected that they would complete the work that day.
They didn’t. They asked if they could go finish a more pressing job (and it was) and come back Wednesday.
I thought I couldn’t relax until the work was done and everything was back in place. But I can.

I’ve got deadlines and big stories to cover at the office. I expected to be able to relax a bit after gritting my teeth and getting through it. I had my schedule all planned.
Then I was reminded of another story responsibility on the very day I had set aside (in my mind) for relief.
I’ve got time every day to relax and do things I enjoy. I’ve got time every day to do the things I need to do. I’m grateful for that. I don’t need to wait for a far off day, after everything is “done,” to enjoy life.

Expectations don’t have to drive my life. Though I expect I’ll have to learn that lesson many more times.

How about you? Have you had your expectations dashed lately? 

Monday, January 20, 2014

I want my normal house back!

It’s not even over yet, and already I want my house back.
It’s in disarray. Things are out of place. And there’s a feeling of anticipation in the air, the feeling that it’s only going to get worse.
On Friday, the HVAC contractor came to the house and measured and looked around and decided where the hole in the ceiling for the new heat pump would go.
They are coming back today to take out the old pump and install the new. At least we hope they’re going to complete the process today.

This new heat pump is larger than the one we have now. Plus, Larry wants to install those attic steps. So the new, larger hole has to be in a different part of the ceiling: right where we have a bookcase full of books and my keyboard.
OK. I can deal with that, I thought.
It’s a heavy bookcase, made heavier with more books than the bookcase should hold. We’d have to pack up the books before we could move the bookcase.

This isn't the usual home for the keyboard.

On Saturday, Larry was going to cut the hole in the ceiling, do the prep work for putting in the attic steps, and get me to help him install the steps.
He had been working for a while when I went into the den. The keyboard was gone. It was now in the futon room/my office. On the floor in the den, there were pieces of plaster and plaster dust all over the large dust cloth covering half the room. Tools lay everywhere.
I didn’t say anything. I just walked out of the room. And took some deep breaths.

I don’t do well with chaos or even semi-chaos. I like things to be somewhat orderly. But I told myself I’d be able to get through a few days of things being upside down.

Chase Bird feels left out.

Poor Chase Bird was not very happy either. We needed to keep him out of the den while dust was flying and dangerous tools were lying about. So we closed the French door between the futon room and the living room, keeping him safe (or trapped, in his mind, I believe) in the other part of the house.

The measurements provided by the contractor didn’t seem to line up with where Larry thought the joists were. So he reluctantly decided to wait until Monday, when the contractor returned, to finish the hole. He taped up what he had done with duct tape.

It looks like we're in the midst of moving. 

I packed books. And packed. And packed. Larry put the boxes on a hand truck and moved them to the foyer in the front of the house. Thirteen boxes of books. And that’s from only one of four bookcases/shelves in the house. Plus, I have many books packed up in boxes already.

We carefully folded up the dust cloth so Larry could take it outside while I picked up pieces of plaster.

My grandfather built this bookcase. My father refurbished it when he and my mother gave it to me.

Then we allowed Chase Bird to come back in the room. He jumped up on the now-empty bookcase. I wonder if he thinks it’s now a bunk bed for cats?
To me, the empty bookcase looks sad. It’s waiting for the books to come back.
I’m waiting to get my house back.

Do you operate well in semi-chaos? How do you cope when you have to live in the midst of a work-in-progress?


My website for my editing business is now live. If you'd like to check it out, it's at

Friday, January 17, 2014

Random 5 Friday

Happy Friday! I’m joining Random 5 Friday, a wonderful meme started by and coordinated by Nancy of A Rural Journal.

Thank you for all the kind comments regarding Larry’s trip to the ER. He’s doing fine now. He (finally) called his regular doctor today to make an appointment for follow-up as advised by the ER docs. His regular doctor is out of town until week after next, so he’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to see him.

The HVAC contractor is coming over at 7:30 this morning to start replacing the heat pump, so I’ll be up and out early to get to the office.
He told Larry it would take about three days to install it. We’re scratching our heads over that one. Apparently they are not going to put in three full days on it. Today they are just going to measure and plan, I think, because he said he didn’t want to leave a mess over the weekend.

During this heat-pump-installation opportunity, Larry wants to install attic steps into the crawl space over the den where the heat pump apparatus is. He’s going to work on that this weekend. My job—I’ve been told—will be to help lift the steps to the hole in the ceiling so Larry can attach them.
I am not particularly adept at jobs like this. Do you like home repair or renovation projects?

I hope to have my website for my editing business ready to go live by Monday. It has certainly been a learning experience, buying a domain name and creating a website.

I have not been taking many photographs lately. It seems like either the weather doesn’t cooperate or it’s dark outside.
If I take photos inside, they are usually of Chase Bird. I think he’s growing a bit weary of seeing the camera lens pointed in his direction.
What have you been photographing lately?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A scare, and maybe a wake-up call

A favorite picture of Larry.

Long story short, all is well.

Yesterday started out just another Tuesday. Layout day at the paper. A busy day, a long day, but a normal Tuesday.
When Larry called me a little before noon, I thought he was calling me to see if I was ready for lunch.
“You doing OK?” I asked, without even thinking about it.
“Well, I don’t know,” he said.
“What’s wrong?”
“I know it’s your busy day at work, but I think I need you to take me to the doctor,” he said.
He had been to the Y, walking on the track. He planned to walk for 45 minutes. During minute 44, he felt what he described as a “thump” around his heart, got dizzy and felt like he was going to pass out.
He was able to lean up against the wall, then sat down for a while before going home. He thought maybe he needed to see a doctor.
I rushed home.

A little background. Larry has had several episodes over the last few months where he felt weak and dizzy. Sometimes he felt pressure in his chest, but he thought it was his hiatal hernia and heartburn. He wouldn’t go see the doctor.
I knew that if he was asking me to take him to the doctor, he thought something was wrong. Which meant, to me, that something really might be wrong.

I insisted on taking him to the emergency room. There was no need to take the time to go see the doctor, I said.
Larry wouldn’t let me call EMS. And he didn’t want me to speed. Regardless of how fast I drove, though, I felt like the car was moving in slow motion.
I got him to Lynchburg General Hospital in Lynchburg, and they took him right back. They immediately hooked him up to a heart monitor and did an EKG, then blood work. Then, because he had been exercising when the episode happened, they had him do a stress test.
Everything came back normal.
They don’t know what the “thump” was. But his heart looks good.

On the way home, Larry said, “Well, I guess I shouldn’t have called you.”
“I’m glad you called me,” I said.
It’s much better to have something checked out and be nothing than to take a chance, I said.
I think Larry was most upset because he couldn’t go as long on the treadmill during the stress test as he thought he should have. He was out of shape.
But they put it on an incline, and the technician warned him ahead of time that it would be hard. They needed to get his heart rate up.
I told him that it was perhaps a good kind of wake-up call. He hadn’t been to the Y for a few months. He needed to exercise more for his health.

Larry is doing fine now. He’s watching one of his favorite TV shows, “Justified,” right now. Chase Bird sits on his lap, then jumps down and walks around, then jumps back up.
And me? I’m incredibly grateful for good test results.

Have you had any wake-up calls lately?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Open for business

Tina F. Barbour Editing Services LLC is open for business.
I decided in 2013 to explore starting my own freelance editing business. It took a lot of research and preparation before I was ready to say, I’m going to do it.
I started with lists of things to consider. In a notebook I bought for the planning, I made my first list on April 21, 2013. I didn’t make my next one until November 3, 2013.
Why the delay?
Probably fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure.
This past fall, the desire to edit for others and to own my own business outweighed the fear, and I started making lists with more purpose.

Discuss structure/taxes with CPA. Check.
Settle on name of business. Check.
Discuss structure with attorney. Check.
Write a business plan. Check.
Decide what services to offer. Check.
Begin stocking my reference library. Check.

The only real headache in all this was when I applied for a business license from my town. I learned that I first had to register my business name with the county circuit court.
I went to the court. They weren’t sure if I had to register and sent me to the commissioner of revenue. They said, yes, I had to register, assisted me with the paperwork, and sent me back to the circuit court.
Then it was back to town hall for the business license.
But all is in order now.

A second headache is developing a business website, which I’m still in the process of doing. I hope to have that up and running very soon.
In the meantime, here are the services that I will offer:

I provide editing and proofreading services to writers working on a variety of manuscripts and copy, including blog posts, other Web works, nonfiction books, nonfiction periodical articles, essays, business writing (articles, Web copy, and newsletters), medical and scientific articles/copy for the lay person, and government agency copy.

I provide the following types of copyediting:

Mechanical editing: Reviewing and making corrections in consistent use of style, capitalization, spelling, use of hyphens, abbreviations, punctuation, numbers, grammar, syntax, word choice, consistent use of names, and consistent use of documentation.
Substantive editing: Includes mechanical editing. Also includes reviewing and suggesting changes in structure, organization of content, paragraphing, clarity of the content, audience consideration, and obvious factual errors.

I also provide proofreading services:

Proofreading: The last phase of editing a manuscript. Usually done by comparing proofs with last edited copy, reviewing for and correcting typographical errors, spacing, inaccurate punctuation marks, consistency in font and point size, page numbers, missing words, accurate hyperlinks, and accurate indexes.

I’m excited about this new adventure! If you have any questions about my services, please contact me through this website or by emailing TinaFBarbourEditing(at)gmail(dot)com.

Have you ever had your own business? If you could have any kind of business, what would it be?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Random 5 Friday

It finally got warmer here. I didn’t realize how much I would appreciate temps in the 30s, 40s, and 50s.
I hope all of you are doing well, and if you were in the path of the frigid cold, I hope you made it through OK.
It’s time for another Random 5 Friday. I’m joining this fun meme started by Nancy at A Rural Journal.

Chase Bird peeks over the arm of the chair.

I usually have to work late on Tuesdays because we lay out the paper and get it ready for press. I didn’t get home until after 10 p.m. this past Tuesday.
Larry said that Chase Bird was listening and looking for me before I got home. When I got home, he seemed happy to see me. Apparently he doesn’t like me to work late. I miss him and Larry, too.

Our heat pump gave out this week, and we have to have another one installed. That was obviously not what we wanted to hear from the HVAC people.
It takes care of two rooms in the house, with an oil furnace taking care of the rest of the house. But it will still cost a chunk of money.
Larry called me at work to tell me about the heat pump. A little bit later, he called back, laughing a bit. The oil company had just shown up to fill up the oil tank and left a nice bill. You might as well laugh as cry, I guess.
I’m just thankful that we can take care of these things. There are so many people worse off than us.

I didn’t put away our lighted snow couple when I took down Christmas decorations. It’s really a winter decoration, don’t you think? And I like the lights.

Sometimes I learn things through my work that help me in my personal life. I attended a nutrition program today offered through a partnership between the county libraries and a state university. It provided such good information that I can use for my own eating.
It’s not a complicated way to eat. It’s eating whole foods as much as possible, eating a mostly plant-based diet and eating foods that help reduce chronic inflammation. And it's individual. Foods that are good for you might not be good for me.

Eating better will help me feel better. I know that. In order to eat better, I know I’m going to have to start cooking more. One thing that will help me do that is to plan better. If I wait until the end of the day to decide what to have for dinner, when I’m tired, then I’m probably going to want to take the path of least resistance.
How far ahead do you plan your menus? Does it help you to plan ahead?

A pasta salad I fixed a while back.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The O stands for obsession

This blog post is dedicated to Jackie and Janet. Thanks for all you do.

It happened again last week.
I was at work, sitting at my desk in my office. A person came into the main office to speak with the ad person about an ad. She wrote down what she wanted the ad to say, paid for it, and then left.
Less than a minute later she came back into the office and asked to check what she had just written. It must have been fine because she didn’t change anything.
“Sorry about that,” she said on her way out. “I am so OCD.”

Did you hear me scream in frustration? OK, not really. But I was definitely frustrated.
I get frustrated when I hear those words: “I am so OCD.” Frustrated with people who equate being conscientious, double-checking, with OCD. Frustrated when people—who mean no harm, I believe—say they are “so OCD” because they keep all their Virginia Tech clothes in one drawer. Or because they like to keep their desk organized.
Maybe these people have OCD. I’m not a doctor. But I am someone who has OCD. And I’m going to quote the title of a post by my friend Jackie Lea Sommers, who also has OCD: “If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not OCD.”

Recently, the writings of two good blogging friends have touched me. Jackie wrote another great post called “The Dreadful O of OCD” this past Sunday. And Janet, whose son has OCD and who writes the blog ocdtalk, wrote an insightful post last month called “Where are the Obsessions?

Jackie and Janet write about how everyone sees the compulsions of OCD, but they don’t see the pain caused by the obsessions that drive the compulsions. That can lead to misunderstandings about what OCD really is.

If you look closely, you can see my red hands in this photo from 1990.

For example, I used to wash my hands compulsively. My hands and wrists were bright red and raw looking. My family and friends witnessed me washing my hands, soaping them over and over, rinsing and rinsing.
What they couldn’t see was what was driving me to wash my hands: the obsession that I would hurt someone else. I was so afraid that I would have germs on my hands and pass those germs on to someone else that might get sick and might die. I had to wash my hands. I had to be sure they were clean because if I didn’t, I would be a murderer.
Can you imagine thinking like that? Doesn’t it sound illogical? Like I was putting too much responsibility onto myself? That I was worrying needlessly?
Yes. But I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop obsessing that I was going to hurt someone. The only way I could get any relief from the feelings of guilt of what might happen—relief from the obsession—was to wash. And wash.

OCD is not cute or funny. It’s not a little habit that can be easily changed. It’s not synonymous with being organized. It’s a mental illness that manifests itself in different ways. It hurts.

I don’t want pity because I have OCD. I am so much better now. I live such a free life compared to the way I used to live. I have OCD, but OCD doesn’t lead the way anymore. I thank God for that.

And I don’t want to sound preachy or judgmental.

I just want to join Jackie and Janet and others who are speaking out and helping friends and strangers learn a little bit more about a disorder that may affect someone they love. I just want people who have OCD to be encouraged that they can get better, too.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A quiet winter’s weekend

"Trees in January"

I’ve spent a quiet weekend burrowed inside from the cold. I ventured out only twice, once Saturday and once on Sunday.
It rained all day Sunday. It’s supposed to get warmer through the night, then the arctic air hits Monday (today) and we’ll have wind chills below zero.
It won’t be nearly as bad as many of you in other parts of the country and the world have it, but it will be very cold for this area of Virginia.
Over the weekend, I read a lot. In fact, I finished my first book of 2014, a mystery by John Sandford. Sandford is the pen name for John Camp, a writer who won a Pulitzer as a journalist.
I read the first of the Lucas Davenport series, Rules of Prey. It was not only scary and intense, but well written.
I also took some naps, sat by the fire with Chase Bird, played with him, did some household chores and watched some TV with Larry.
I didn’t do much adventuring this weekend, as you might guess.
I’ve had to come to the realization that the holidays are really over. The extra time off from work, the changes in schedule for the past two weeks—it’s all done, over with. Now it’s back to the usual.
That thought doesn’t appeal to me. But I’m pushing through my reluctance.
I’ve got work to do for the newspaper.
And I will get my business license for the freelance editing this week. I tried to get it last week, but I had missed a step in the process and had to take care of that bit of business first. I look forward to telling you when I’m officially in business.
And there are some other writing projects percolating.
I’ve just got to shake myself out of my semi-stupor and get back into the routine, with my new sense of adventure.

Are you ready to get back into more of a normal routine? Or has that already happened for you?