A Day in the Life: Adobe CC Misery

2048px-The_Scream

For those of you who are graphic designers or other heavy duty Adobe Creative Cloud users, this rant may strike a chord with you. I have used Adobe programs daily for my work since 1990. I used to love them. You buy the program, admittedly rather expensive, but you own it for until it’s no longer compatible with your computer. You upgrade as necessary to keep up with your clients’ work flow. You produce beautiful work with relative ease because you know and understand how the programs work.

Enter the Creative Cloud. At the beginning, things seemed to work fine, even if pricey. Adobe promises regular upgrades just by going to their cloud site and updating. No extra charge. But what good is it if every time you upgrade, it’s buggier than the last time. For the $85 dollars or so a month I pay for the CC programs and Adobe stock images, I would expect them to work as they should. It has become increasingly difficult to work in Indesign due to the fact that the spinning beach ball is a constant, having to force quit when it hangs and then it doesn’t actually quit, and then having to manually shut down and restart my laptop because it won’t start up unless I do.

I’ve done everything suggested to fix the problems, reinstalling several times, and even reverting to an older version. I absolute despise the whole suite at this point. I just want to be able to work and get things done on time, instead of having to make excuses to my clients. In all the 46+ years I’ve worked as a graphic designer, I’ve loved my work. Tonight, I’m angry that I have to continue working in retirement with such a miserable excuse for software as the Adobe Creative Cloud. I’m forced to pay for 21 apps I never use just to be able to have the ones I need. To rent them each separately costs a fortune, far more than buying the whole group together.

I Googled the kinds of issues I’m having. There is no shortage of other people having the same problems I’m having. So far, Adobe seems oblivious to the mess they’ve made of the formerly great programs we’ve come to know and love. It would be wonderful if they’d pay attention, get their heads out of the Cloud and stop trying to out-Adobe themselves with every release.

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A Day in the Life: I Consult Dr. Google

Some days, Dr. Google is my best friend. We spend a lot of time together.

After three orthopaedic hip surgeons, including the one who did the original hip joint arthroplasy on the right hip in 2012, told me there was nothing to be done for the split muscle on the side of and pain in the front of my right thigh, I decided to give Dr. Google a try.

First I found an anatomical illustration of the human leg, which led to the discovery of the iliopsoas muscles at the top of the thigh. Pronounced ilee-o-so-as, the iliopsoas is a compound muscle comprised of the iliac and psoas muscles. Separate muscles, they merge at the thigh. The iliopsoas muscle joins to the femur at the lesser trochanter, and acts as the strongest flexor of the hip. (Thank you Wikipedia!)

Iliopsoas syndrome may be localized to thigh, lower back, hip and/or leg, and may take years to become acute. Symptoms include pain with lifting the leg to dress, geting into bed, getting into the car, and climbing stairs, among others. I have them—all in spades. There is treatment available if I can find someone to diagnose the problem. The promising news is that I inadvertently dicsovered that the MD who does the trigger point injections in my spine also treats this problem. Now I just have to get the referral from my rheumatologist for an appointment.

I cannot believe that my second opinion docs, including the original surgeon, never bothered to listen to my list of symptoms and description of pain, and simply blew me off with, “There is nothing I can do. Get a cane. You’ll just have to live with it.” This is why I consulted Dr. Google.

At least now I have some small hope for diagnosis, treatment and relief.

As for the bone-headed orthopedists (pun intended), if “living with it” is the rest of my life, thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather not.

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A Day in the Life: Anomaly Me

daffodil lr

Art keeps me sane. “Daffodil” digital collage. © Barbara Berney. All rights reserved.

a·nom·a·ly

Dictionary result for anomaly
/əˈnäməlē/
noun: anomaly; plural noun: anomalies
1. something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.
synonyms: oddity, peculiarity, abnormality, irregularity, inconsistency, incongruity, deviation, aberration, quirk, freak, exception, departure, divergence, variation;
 
I loathe that word. Unfortunately, I’ve heard it far too many times with respect to my medical history. Add to that, “Hmmm, I’ve never seen/heard of that before.” Rather than list them all, suffice to say that dying on the table in the midst of a simple procedure is an anomaly. Being unable to tolerate even trace doses of narcotics (I die quickly) is an anomaly (three times). A stroke in the left occipital lobe that affects vision generally leaves one with permanent impairment: my vision recovered completely in a matter of hours with no sign of damage. That was a good anomaly. There have been others, none of them good.
I finally consulted a hip surgeon in my previous home town. His examination revealed that the muscle over the bone, which had been cut during surgery and then sewn back together afterward, has at some point, separated into two pieces, leaving the bone exposed directly under the skin, and a crater where the muscle ought to be.
Yep, he’s never seen that before. “It’s very rare, an anomaly,” he said. “A surgeon might only see this three or four times in an entire career in practice.”
He has referred me to a hip reconstructive surgeon closer to home, whose earliest appointment is in mid-July. When I asked him if the workouts, walking and other activities involving my legs could worsen the condition, he didn’t knnow. An Internet search turned up nothing helpful (too rare?), so I am now trying to find information and answers before July 17.
To say that I am frustrated would be an understatement. I’ve had 24 separate and diverse surgeries (that I can remember) to date, and have never batted an eyelash at the prospect of any of them because they were all known quantities, and I was younger then. This one has thrown me for a loop.
To keep myself sane, I create art.
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A Day in the Life: Open Spaces

selfportrait

Five months ago, I left behind someone I thought was my best friend of 24+ years for her egregious behavior on a road trip we took where we stayed with my other best friend. She had been growing more critical, more aggressive and strident over the last year or two, but I had ignored all of that because, well, best friends and all. The result of the disastrous road trip is that our host, a close friend of more than 15 years, has never spoken to me again since the morning we left their home, although we still have to work together in our nonprofit, albeit awkwardly. He ghosted me exactly the way his BPD ex-wife taught him to do…you’re either all good or all bad. I find it a sad loss for both of us.

While the sting of those losses was sharp at the time, that gaping hole provided an opportunity to reassess my choices, my boundaries, and my life, and finally to allow more joy and some truly amazing people to come into my life. (I’m not considering the myriad physical issues, because while I have them, I am not them.) A friendship with an artist I’ve known for years has blossomed as we endeavor to inspire one another. I’ve made new friends in my new home, while maintaining precious relationships from my old home. Online friends have become supportive, loving friends in real time. After 20 years of being single, I’ve even ventured into a new romantic relationship with someone wonderful. (I’m still in shock over that one.)

Weeks away from turning 65, I’m happier now than I ever imagined being. I have more joy, more love, more possibilities, more life, than ever. I’ve learned to respect my own boundaries, to make choices that are right for me, and to go with the flow.

Namaste.

Quick edit: Thank you to all who have followed me, liked my posts and commented. I’m pretty sporadic, but I hope to do better in 2019.

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A Day in the Life: Friendsgiving 2018

Mom's Hamilton Beach hand mixer

Mom’s ancient Hamilton Beach hand mixer—making pumpkin custard.

Over the years, I’ve often invited others with no place to go on Thanksgiving to share our feast, but I’ve never set aside a special day for Friendsgiving. My younger son and his wife have done that for a few years, and today, I took a leaf from their book. I invited 11 of my friends and neighbors at my new home to come and share a special feast I created just for them—to thank them for accepting me as a friend exactly as I am, and for being here when I need them. They’re an extraordinary crew. I had expected 11 people, but two couples bowed out at the last minute. (We sent plates of food over to them for later.)

Here’s the menu from my teeny-weeny kitchen: Roasted chicken quarters and breasts (12 lbs raw); four pounds of mashed Yukon Gold potatoes; gluten-free cornbread stuffing; chicken and mushroom gravy; cornaroni and cheese; French cut greens beans; broccoli crowns; glazed carrots; cranberry-orange relish; stewed apples with raisins and rum; cucumber salad; charoset (apples, pecans, cinnamon, sweet wine, and a bit of sugar); pumpkin custard; and pumpkin and pecan pies with whipped cream. My Filipina neighbor brought rice noodles and another neighbor brought a sweet potato pie. Another brought a two bottles of wine, and Bailey’s for after-dinner coffee, and another not only supplied all the plates, napkins, cups and utensils, she came early to help set up, and stayed late to help clean up!

I’m awash with gratitude for my mom, although we had a very difficult relationship for many years, for teaching me to love cooking at an early age; for all the tools and utensils from her kitchen; and for giving me their Kitchen Kraft waterless cookware set (amazing stuff). And in the mix, thanks to my wonderful sister-in-law, who sent me home from a visit this summer with more of Mom’s stuff, including her ancient Hamilton Beach hand mixer, which got a real workout today! For many years, I had so few happy memories of Mom, but today, many came flooding back. It was a very good day.

I made sure to prepare enough food for everyone to take some home. I don’t like to take hostages after a big meal, mostly because my dinky refrigerator doesn’t have enough room. What I have left over, I put in a cooler out on the patio until I can make room tomorrow. It’ll probably all be frozen by then, as we are under a winter storm warning.

We have a wonderfully diverse crowd and I’m delighted that everyone who came enjoyed themselves and stayed all afternoon! We had a blast. I am so grateful for their friendship, and especially for all the nice things they said about my culinary efforts. I love to cook and I love to feed people! Seems I’ve started my own new tradition in my new little apartment and my tiny kitchen.

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A Day in the Life: Reflections on Apartment Life

first snow November 18

View from my front door. Heavenly.

A little more than eight months ago, I packed up and left my home town of the previous 36 years to move closer to my younger son and daughter-in-law. I was happy to go, but I knew I’d miss the many friends I’d made in all that time. The months have passed quickly, I’ve made new friends…and in a peculiar twist in life, lost the two closest to me for the longest time, neither of whom lived there!

As I reflect on my time in my new apartment, I’m happy. I love living alone, I’m happily all on one floor, and I have a beautiful view from my front door! All summer long, flowers bloomed in pots on the patio. I spent many a lazy morning drinking my coffee out there just listening to the birds—redwing blackbirds, robins, cardinals and others, and watching the resident herons and egrets, ducks and Canada geese that graced the pond.

Before I ever moved in, I had the apartment painted a very pale, soft, minty green—cool and relaxing. For the first time in many years, I sit in my living room and say, “I love it here”—and mean it. The only thing to mar my apartment life has been the Thumpty Dumpties upstairs—three very heavy adult walkers and a toddler who thunders around, plus a dog who barks incessantly—who make my windows rattle in their frames, and have caused a new crack to appear in the ceiling. Today, they moved out and into a first-floor apartment across the way. I’m hoping the next tenant is as quiet as I am!

Aside from being closer to my son and his wife, the best part of living here is the pond. In summer, its banks are cloaked in green with cattails, long grasses, shrubs, and more than a few trees. Some days, it’s so still the reflection is perfect, others the wind churns up small whitecaps, and on others, when the sun peeks out of the clouds, the water turns to thousands of sparking diamonds. I feel a sense of peace and relaxation as I look outside.

Tonight, as I wrap this up, I am treasuring the bliss of silence overhead and looking to a very quiet weekend of work.

 

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A Day in the Life: Yum! Rum!

rum raisin custard bread pudding

Rum raisin custard bread pudding. Yum!

Before I moved from my house with a small, but usable kitchen to an apartment with a teeny-weeny, difficult kitchen, I cooked or baked nearly every day, mostly for other people. Lately, as the weather has grown colder with the not-so-distant approach of winter, I’ve been in a cooking/baking mood again. It started with the chocolate zucchini bread made with zucchini from a wonderful friend’s garden, shredded and frozen for the someday I’d bake again. Then came the Italian style meatloaf, made the way Mom used to—enough for an army. Day before yesterday, I made split pea soup, and yesterday evening, I baked one of my favorite desserts, rum raisin custard bread pudding. Keep in mind that I consume neither gluten nor dairy products, and you’ll understand why my neighbors are worried about gaining weight!

There is something comforting to me about feeding other people I care about. For the few months before I moved away from my house, I’d been cooking for my neighbor, who had been very ill, and needed desperately to gain weight. She asked for comfort food—shepherd’s pie, pasta, Quiche, soups, stews, and especially desserts. I experimented with all sorts of microwave cakes in a mug, creating luscious, fruity or chocolatey concoctions. Cobblers are so easy and quick to make—blueberry, rhubarb, or peach. For a change of pace, I’d throw in a caramel apple pie once in a while. And every other week, I’d experiment with some variation of bread pudding. I enjoyed every minute of my cooking adventures right up until the week I moved away.

So, while bread pudding was originally a way to use up stale bread, it’s no longer reserved for the days when you must use your bread or lose it to mold. When I first started making bread pudding years ago, I used whatever I had on hand. One rainy day , I decided to make some, but as I searched the refrigerator and freezer, I found only a frozen cinnamon raisin loaf I’d bought on sale a while back. The rest is history. The first pans were a bit too dry, so I subsequently added a few more eggs and a couple more cups of half & half (instead of milk) as an experiment. The extra eggs and half & half made a very tasty, moist, rich, custardy pudding. It was good! But it wasn’t as delicious as I knew it would be if, in addition to the almond and vanilla extracts, I threw in some rum. The next batch, I added a quarter cup of rum, and it was out of this world!

Herewith, my recipe.

Rum Raisin Custard Bread Pudding

Ingredients
1 loaf stale (or not) raisin bread (14-16 slices)
1 cup raisins (golden or regular)
3/4 cup of sugar
6 eggs
5 cups half & half
1/4 cup rum
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions (Preheat oven to 350°)
1. Cut bread slices into 16 cubes each and place in large bowl.
2. Add raisins and cinnamon to bread and mix to distribute.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and half & half.
4. Add rum, vanilla and almond and stir until thoroughly mixed.
5. Pour over bread cubes and mix throughly to make sure all the cubes will absorb the wet mixture. Let sit for half an hour, stirring from the bottom occasionally.
6. Use baking spray to coat 2 large loaf pans, or three smaller foil pans, and then pour mixture into each pan. Try to make them even.
7. Place pans in a larger baking pan filled an inch high with water.
8. Bake 1 1/2 hours at 350° or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
9. Allow to cool on rack before enjoying, or cover with foil, refrigerate and save for later.

Whipped cream or rum sauce adds another dimension to this [carb, dairy and gluten-laden] once-in-a-while treat.

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