A Much Overdue Update

So I’ve been kind of scarce around the blog for a while now.

I didn’t mean to step back for so long, but a confluence of factors conspired to kick my backside hard and kept me sidelined for a while.

These included winter blahs, a scad of stress factors – tight finances, health issues, mostly not my own, and an unexpected death in the extended family – and some kind of low-grade ick that had me feverish, headachy, and in the bathroom more than I’d have liked to be. Fun times.

But spring has sprung, most of the fires have been put out or at least banked for a while, and I’m feeling more or less human again. And I’m back!

So what have I been doing these past few weeks?

Cooking

One of the stress factors we’ve been dealing with is money – or the lack thereof – and we’ve been working to cut our expenses by cooking and eating most of our meals at home. This means that I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen prepping, cooking, and cleaning up.

MrH still does a fair share of the cooking – and usually tidies the kitchen at night after dinner – but it’s a lot easier on him to come home to a clean kitchen and a plan so that all he has to do is throw together some rice or cornbread and maybe a vegetable.

As a side project, I brailled some index cards to lavel cans in the pantry and we used braille tape to mark all our spices. So now, at least in theory, I can find the ingredients I need and don’t have to rely on someone else to pull things out for me. Yay for independence!

Reading

The book binge continues, though I think it’s slowing somewhat. I tore through nine books in January, ten in february, and eight in March, all on the audiobook player.

I’ve caught up on a lot of the fiction I’d been wanting to read forever, and now that I don’t feel the pressure to zip through a book cartridge and mail it back, I’m reading more nonfiction as well. I should probably posta few reviews, or at least a list of what I’ve read.

I’ve also downloaded a bunch of cookbooks onto a separate drive. It’s nice to be able to look through recipes on my own, rather than ask someone to read one to me or try to find something suitable on the internet.

Learning

Despite being somewhat under the weather, I managed to complete two online classes.

Fundamentals of Technical Writing was an online class through the local community college, paid for by Vocational Rehabilitation.

I really don’t feel I got as much out of it as I should have. The worst of my brain fog seemed to kick in just as the lessons got, well, technical, and the instructions were given in very visual terms. (“Click this thing in the upper right corner of the dialogue box.”)

When I asked if there were keyboard shortcuts, the instructor posted…a screenshot. With detailed description. Um, thanks?

Yes, at this point I should have advocated for myself and asked again for clearer instructions. But…brain fog. So I read through the lesson, tried to absorb what I should be doing even if I couldn’t quite figure out how to do it, and hung on.

The good news is that I aced the final, on which my grade was based, and kept the notes to work on when my head was clearer.

If nothing else, it was a great learning experience in what it’s like to take a class designed and taught for sighted students.

The second class, Using Excel, was offered through the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. I’d actually been taking it for a while, and just finished up the last lesson in early March.

This class was designed for visually impaired students, and all the lessons were easy to follow. There were a couple of instances where the keystrokes given didn’t quite work for me, probably due to a slightly different version of Excel, but I could always figure out a way to do what I needed to.

Even better, this class helped familiarize me with MicroSoft’s stupid Ribbon, which means I may be able to go back to my technical writing notes and work through the assignments I couldn’t get earlier. Win!

Just in case, though, my next Hadley class will be Using MSWord.

Etcetera

I’ve been cutting back on some of my activities, partly to cut down on my stress level and partly because some of them didn’t seem to be a good fit any more. Now the pendulum’s swung the other way – I’m starting to get a little stir-crazy from not getting out – so I’m thinking it’s time to start finding new activities. More on that in another post, probably.

I’ve been doing some household sorting and organizing.

I’ve gone through the stuff under the kitchen worktable and straightened the linens in the back bathroom and the current guest room closet.

We still have some other moving and shuffling to do, but I think we’re all tired of living with boxes and clutter, and this is the year I’m going to get a handle on that.

I hope. ;>

I haven’t been my usual artsy-craftsy self. Which is a shame, because I could really use something physical to do that takes me away from the computer.

Part of the problem is that I’m bored with the things I usually do – stick weaving, braiding and knotting – and all the other things I want to do – inkle weaving, bobbin lace, making leather purses and pouches – seem to require sighted help for at least one step, or equipment or knowledge I don’t have.

I’m sure there are ways around this; I just haven’t thought of them so far. Maybe now that the brain fog has lifted…

I’m planning to try my straw bale garden again this year. Last year’s attempt was not very successful, but the bales should be better broken down this time around, and I’ll be here to supervise it in the early stages, so maybe it’ll go better. Our 2011 straw bale garden was a resounding success, so I know it can be done!

If not, there’s always the produce stand.

What about you? Been up to anything exciting? Feel free to share your latest in the comments!

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