Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tracking a Scent

I did a little sleuthing today and discovered that my favorite (discontinued) Bath and Body Works fragrance, Black Amethyst, is a copy of Tom Ford Black Orchid.  I've tried on multiple occasions to find a fragrance match at but they told me they had no such copycat of Black Amethyst, or Tranquil Mint, for that matter.

For the record, Tranquil Mint is the fragrance I like to use when I have a migraine.  It relieves my pain better than anything else.  And they discontinued it.  Of course.  

Sweetcakes does have a copy of Black Orchid.  :).  I'll get some and hopefully, it will refresh the fragrance of my shower gel that I bought in bulk when I learned it would soon be gone.  Unfortunately, the scent has faded in the plastic bottles since I bought it, so I was hoping to recharge it.  It won't cost much to try it out, anyway.  

They also have a couple of fragrances that may match Tranquil Mint as well.  If they don't, I'll just have to hope for the best and blend my own stuff with essential oils from the health food store.  Yippee.

Now, I'm partial to Poison, but it's not really practical for me to wear it, given that my job and lifestyle provide me no opportunities to wear designer perfumes.  I don't see the point in buying them for myself and heaven forbid that someone I dated bought me perfume.  They were too cheap and I wasn't worth it.  (And people wonder why I have self-esteem issues given the parade of creeps in my life?)

I used to love to make scented soaps, but my kitchen now is smaller than my old one, to the point of being almost too small and enclosed to be useful.  After twelve years of struggling to make it useful, I've come to the conclusion that the only solution is to gut the entire thing and start over.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Stilton in London

I'm having nacho cheese soup for dinner while watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  It came from a can.  I've been craving cheese and chocolate all day -- to be precise, I'm remembering the chocolate-covered cheese Figurine bars my mother used to buy in the 70s.  Cheese and chocolate seem a bizarre combination, but I remember that even as a five-year-old, they tasted good together.

Nacho cheese is a poor substitute for the Celery and Stilton Soup I had in London last summer.  It made an impression, comforting me when I was feeling lost, abused, and downright unexpectedly sick.

In the middle of July, we were stuck overnight in London when we were supposed to be flying home.  A snafu at the control tower in Rome, coupled with an airplane-stairs thief at Heathrow, conspired to trap us, by British Airways, no less.  They said we couldn't be trusted to get our own luggage onto the flight, and then proceeded to lose it themselves.  And then we had to stand in line for four hours while they finally said they couldn't get our group home together.   With a British Airways pickle and cheese sandwich.  I had already had one of those for breakfast on the flight over.  Ew.  Hey, at least they fed us, right?

We were hassled at the airport when they finally put us in a hotel for the night, by rude and evil customs agents who wanted to make darn sure we didn't attempt to defect to England while we were there.  Don't get me wrong -- I'm sure that my trip to the UK next year will make me want to live there, but at the time, I developed a sudden cold just upon leaving Italy, and I hurt dreadfully standing in that line.  Both of my legs decided to chime in with horrible femoral nerve pain, and I really wanted to cry, I was so tired and miserable.  I just wanted to go home, because I couldn't go to any of the shops in Heathrow, and the bathroom kiosks contained nothing for colds and allergies.

(My dog was just in my lap for petting.  Have you ever seen a Yorkie grin? It's a jaunty, Elvis-esque sideways smirk, thank-yew-vurry-much.  In short, adorable.)

  We were finally sent through customs and released to the bus loading area, where we waited for about an hour for the shuttle to our hotel.  I seriously considered buying a pint of whisky at one of the duty free shops so that I could pass out when I got to a bed.

It was freaking cold down there, watching double-decker buses go by, waiting on our shuttle.  I was shivering. But when I looked around, no one else was, and they said it was fairly comfortable where we were waiting.  So I realized I had chills, along with my sore throat and stuffy nose that had come upon me in twelve hours' time.  Maybe someone sneezed on me in the Vatican and I picked up their bug -- I don't really know.  

I do know that I will not travel without my allergy and cold medicine again.  Lol. Other than that, I was very well travel-prepared.  I didn't expect an allergy attack or cold in July, and I didn't expect it to drag me under so fast, but I was worn out from nine days of travel already. That was the summer I went places.  I was busy, and it was wonderful.  :)

We were provided rooms and dinner at the Renaissance Heathrow, where a youth ministry convention of some sort was being held.  They kept the restaurant buffet open for us to have dinner, and that's where I found breaded mushrooms, a bunch of food I was feeling too sick to try, and the celery and Stilton soup.  It was the only thing I could taste, and it did wonderful things to soothe my raw throat.  I believe the soup, coupled with sheer exhaustion, made me sleep deeply most of the night, though I had tried to order a shot of whisky, again, out of desperation.

Being that this was a more upscale hotel than I'm used to, I was surprised by the down comforter on the bed and the heavy robe provided.  I put the robe on top of the comforter and slept like the dead until 3 am when I developed fever and had to kick off the covers.  It was a blissfully comfortable night other than the fever.  I even bought a down comforter for my bed at home a couple of months later.  :)

The next morning we had the breakfast buffet before returning to the airport, and I discovered that cold medicine was available in the hotel gift shop, bless them, along with throat drops and an Oxford University hoodie that I decided to buy myself as a consolation for being sick.  

The staff at the gate for the airline my reduced boarding party was transferred to (it was an American airline, but the staff were undoubtedly New Zealanders) tried for a couple of hours before my flight to locate my missing baggage, but they could only confirm that it was not going to be on that flight, when all was said and done.  They had a sort of "I feel your pain" attitude when I told them I blamed British Airways, and were very polite and amusing about it all.  I appreciated that they had even tried.  They were calling desks all over the airport to find my bag.  Oh well.  

I did enjoy the return flight in the daytime, because there was an entertainment screen at every seat and I got to watch three movies on the way over the Atlantic. :)

Having your bag of dirty clothes and souvenirs on the return trip isn't as important, and it just meant that I only had to lug my backpack around with me.  Lack of baggage, however, did create some serious suspicion in customs when we made our way through the Atlanta airport, where we were supposed to re-check our luggage for the final flight. 

Understand that I was ticked about BA's attitude about not giving us back our luggage, but at the time I shrugged it off as just one of those things that sometimes happens when you travel.  I learned my lesson several years before and made sure that I had all my necessities in a bag that was NOT going to be checked.  My backpack / purse.  So I was okay, and not bothered by trekking through Hartsfield without my rolling suitcase to wrangle.  I just hoped that it would eventually find its way home to me.  C'est la vie.  No biggie.

The Atlanta airport was COLD and kinda empty.  So I got to wear my new hoodie and charge my phone.  And I passed out on the flight, then on the drive back home.  I felt that I wasn't being polite to do that, but I couldn't exactly help myself.

Ah, but I wish I had some more of that soup.  :). Maybe I'll find some on my next trip.  I'd try to make some myself, but I'm not sure I can even find Stilton cheese in my little hometown.  It's getting hard just to find watch batteries these days.

Am I happy? Not particularly, at the moment.  I'm just snuggling within the warm memory of a comforting time in a strange place when I wanted to be home, sick in my own bed.  I'm just having a little better time handling the depression this week.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Shoot that Poisoned Arrow

It's been a few days since I've run.  Right now I'm on the fourth night of a nervous stomach, which was the underlying  cause of me skipping the race Saturday night.  Well, that and an ugly anxiety attack.  *sigh*. I don't want to go into that, but let's just say that I saw a lot of distended blood vessels during the worst of it, along with a very elevated pulse and inability to breathe well.

Let's face it -- I can't start a race when I'm already struggling before I've run a few feet.

I'm getting a bit bored with my self-guided training runs, so I think I'm going to use a Zombie running app.  And maybe start working on training for a 10k.

However, I can't sleep, and I'm sick, and no bug or food poisoning kept me ill this long, with crazy indigestion.  Heartburn.  Sharp abdominal pains.  Could be anxiety again, but it isn't the first time I've gone through this.  That's why I'm going back to my liquid diet.  I should have stuck to my juice only for today.  Main flavorful ingredient -- beets.  Yeah, not my favorite.  But good for heart and blood, and everyone knows by now my heart needs some work.  

If I gave in to a weird suspicion of mine, I'd think I'm a human incarnation of Cupid.  I seem to have that golden arrow touch, but doomed never to benefit romantically from my own arrows.   If I recall correctly, Cupid was unable to fall in love, and sometimes spitefully shot those who were incompatible for his own amusement because of it.  Oh, he was supposed to be above that mortal weakness anyway, you know.  

*swish, boing!* And the poor unwitting fools had no choice.

Maybe I just want to fly around and shoot arrows at everybody, especially come Valentine's Day.  If anybody should be allowed,  I think I've earned the right.  ;)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Devil You Know

I dreamed last night that I was in Venice with one of my friends and she kept walking off without me.  Well, in this case she was swimming out way past the lagoon into the Adriatic Sea.  The water was inky black and cold because it was night. Finally I gave up on trying to follow her and returned to the hotel we were checking into.  Somehow she was already there waiting on me.  

Two of my phobias arrived together in fine fashion, almost simultaneously.  According to my sleep tracking app, I had a 97% quality rest last night, which, considering that I was dehydrated and had a nasty headache when I went to bed, boils down to me passing out and being unable to wake.  

I had watched and read The Lovely Bones together for comparison, and I cried myself sick.  Again.  Somebody remind me to put it on my "never to watch again" list.  The movie conveniently glossed over the rape and murder, but the book spills it all.  And it hits far too close to reality.  If you have a daughter, you should read it.  Then, just maybe, you'll actually take those steps to fiercely protect her, instead of just saying you will in the future.

So I was trapped in a horrible nightmare.  Again.  With a horrifying inspiration piece to start me off.  Fortunately, my dreams didn't go there, but stayed within the bounds of tormenting me with my own phobias.  

After I was given my very heavy key at the front desk, I went to consider the elevator of this very colorful and elaborately decorated old hotel.  My room... was on the seventh floor.  

The elevator didn't have a door in the front, so everyone in the lobby could see the claptrap thing jerkily rising (and falling by several feet at a time) to the ground floor.  For a brief moment, I thought that I could survive to my floor if I got down in the middle of the floor and cowered with my arms over my head, holding my breath.  I didn't really care that other people would laugh at me.  I'd just explain that I have a debilitating fear of elevators. (But really, only in my dreams.  I can handle them just fine when I'm awake...  well, unless the elevator is really small, like the ones in Italy inevitably are. But that's a claustrophobic issue, anyway.) 

Then I just decided I'd schlep my bags up the seven sets of stairs and skip the elevator.  I only had two bags, after all, and one was a small roll aboard.  Easy. The first flight was fine.  Turn the corner, and it was normal stairs.  Another turn revealed that on the next flight, a step was missing, which created an ankle-breaker gap that was open all the way down.  At this point, I reasoned that the nice Asian couple running the front desk must have tried to save a few bucks on the stairs.  

Did I mention my dream phobia that even stairs are dangerous and inoperable?  2 phobias for the price of one nightmare.  Yay.  I should have looked up at that point.

On the way to the third floor, three whole steps were missing, creating a gap an adult could easily fall through, but people were carefully maneuvering the empty space and climbing to the next floor.  I did the same, but I could feel panic starting to increase my heart rate.

Approaching the fourth floor, five steps were missing, and while a few brave souls jumped or pulled themselves up, some fell and others gave up.  I was shaking while I climbed up the railing at the side, pulling my bags up behind me, feeling them grow heavier, and staring straight down through the hole in the stairs.  

When I reached the same side nearing the fifth floor, so many steps were missing that even an accomplished mountain free-climber would have had to hang by his fingertips from the nearest step available well over his head, dangling into a black abyss, and pull himself up literally by his fingers.  Two floors from my room and I was so panicked that it felt like I was being choked every time I tried to draw my breath.  I knew I would never make it to my room, and I found myself wishing I'd taken the deathtrap of an elevator.  At least I could see what was wrong with that up front, instead of taking my chances on the stairs.  

Better the devil you know, than the devil you don't.

Sometimes people say really horrible things to me about remembering my dreams, because they claim they don't dream, or they don't remember theirs.  I think they remember, and they're ashamed.  I write or talk about mine as a way to deal with them, and try to understand what's going on in my subconscious.  I think that I have to deal with these fears in nightmares because so many things in my life haven't been resolved, that's all.  I'm probably not the only one.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A-Maze-Ing Idea

I guess I'd better get moving.  My first round of Midol finally kicked in and pushed away some of the pain. Oh shut up.  I feel like somebody used my kidneys for a punching bag.  It's the kind of pain that takes over from my sternum to my knees, and you'd better be thankful you don't have to deal with it, especially when it is pointless for me to suffer this.

But anyway, moving on.  

The Discovery Park will have a hedge maze.... In a few years.  I'm guessing if they plant it now, it'll take that long for it to grow.  Oh, to have a magic wand and the talent to use it.  :)

I've had an idea for a maze-related invention for many decades now, but I don't have the technological know how to make it happen, so I won't say what it is here.  On the other hand, I've also thought it would be neat if people could buy prefabricated modular maze building panels to set up and change at will.  A fanciful dream of mine is to run a maze that people could pay to go through, but be unable to cheat, have it weatherproof and sturdy, and have the ability to change it up often so that it would be a continual challenge.  

This all stems from two things: watching The Shining as a child and being amazed by that hedge maze, and then constructing a maze for a mouse to run through for the school science fair in tenth grade.  My mouse got mad at me and bit me.  Oh well, it wasn't an original idea anyway.  Lol

About ten years ago, I had the opportunity to go through a wooden maze on a ranch in Texas.  Another teacher and I gave the students permission to direct us through from their vantage point on a bridge above the maze, but it seemed they were more interested in sending us continually to dead ends when we already had figured out how to get out. They were not happy when we decided to stop playing along and just walk out.  After an hour, I just got tired of being ordered around by giggling children.  Ha Ha .  I've never liked being ordered around, especially by someone who is mean-spirited.  

Still, I think that it might be fun to have something like that set up which would be locally accessible.  I found instructions online for plastic sheet maze walls, and plans which only cost $1000 to create.  Yikes.  For that much money, I would prefer to have something sturdier.  I could see people whipping out knives and laughingly tearing up a lot of hard work.

If only I had a reason to decorate my house for Halloween, I'd build a small maze in my front yard and send kids through to earn their candy.  If I had kids of my own, I'd love to turn one of their classrooms into a maze at their Halloween carnival.  If they still have those around here.  Seems the ultra-religious have taken all the fun out of my favorite holiday.  "Don't trick or treat, we will just give you a bag of candy."  (But going door to door and seeing all the decorations and scares WAS the good part!). "Don't wear scary costumes, that's sinful." (Where does the Bible say that?  )

Still, though I don't know all the details on how to mass-produce a maze kit, I do have a great design idea already.  :) Maybe someday I can see my idea made into reality.  

Bye Bye, Yummy Apple Cider

One of the things I look forward to every fall is apple cider.  I don't live in "apple country", so there is no multitude of roadside stands that sell it.  

The only offerings have been at supermarkets and the once-yearly craft festival I attended yesterday at Reelfoot Lake. Still packed with people, this year the festival was not-so-packed with vendors.  Lots of empty spaces, especially in the buildings.  Several vendors that I wanted to buy from simply weren't there.  No strawberry cider, and only one guy selling apple cider in wine bottles.  (The cost of using wine bottles instead of plastic jugs inevitably raises the price -- the strawberry cider I had bought before in bottles was $12 a bottle. I believe I can buy authentic local strawberry WINE cheaper.)

I finally found a brand of apple cider at Wal-Mart that tastes authentic -- it's tangy, stings the throat a little, thick and cloudy, and has to be kept refrigerated.  And it's $5 a gallon.  Yikes.  Other brands I'd tried tasted and looked like apple juice.  I've been buying my favorite apple cider for years, after many unsuccessful attempts to find good cider.

I thought it was strange that this year the jugs of cider were in the middle of the produce department, out of the refrigerated fruit case. Uh oh.  If it's shelf-stable, it's not going to be any good, I was thinking.

So I bought a jug anyway.  And then I drank a glass.  Instead of the real apple cider taste, what I got was a syrupy sweet glass of overly-sweetened apple juice.  :(.  So I'm really sad that now there's no real apple cider to drink, because I really enjoyed the stuff, and the new version is too sugary for me to drink unless I've become hypoglycemic.  

I mixed it with my bottled smoothie yesterday, to cut the sweetness, and hopefully I can finish it off that way.  It's kind of gross, but I can't just pour it out and waste it.  I just can't enjoy it in this form.  :(

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Dizzily Driving

Last night I did four-plus miles.  Well, I can't actually say that I ran the entire distance, because I did have to take several walk breaks.  (That's why I'm saying I did the miles rather than ran them.)  They weren't long walk breaks -- I allowed myself ten breaths each time to recover and then I started running again. 

So no, I'm not hardcore enough to run my miles nonstop yet, but I keep trying.  :). I think that, if not for my recurrent shin splints, I'd be much further ahead by now.  Hey, I'm dealing with it.  They're getting better.  They've plagued me from junior high, through high school, through my twenties, and I still have to deal with them even when I haven't run for weeks.  

'Tis part of me lot in life. Kinda like dates that never quite happen.  Last night was one of those.  Supposed to go to the movies, and he texted me to say "I'm gonna cancel."  His words, not mine.  Of course, I was invited to come and cheer him up after he got over the snit that made him cancel on me.  Uh, no thanks.  I'm tired of making all of the effort. At least staying home would grant me the company of someone who does love me.  (My dog.)

So to recap yesterday: I graded a ridiculous amount of papers, did four miles, almost passed out behind the wheel, and then had my date cancelled.  

The passing out? Well, I went past an hour of physical activity without refueling, and I wound up with a powdery coating of salt on my skin, so I'm pretty sure I sweated out all of my electrolytes, became dehydrated, and needed to eat.  In hindsight, I should have taken some Margarita Shot Bloks with me.  For the carbs and the salt replacement.  After all, it was 82° just before sunset, with no cool breezes to help.  I really wanted to enjoy a cool autumn afternoon run.  Didn't get it.

I felt fine leaving the park, other than being loopy from being tired.  It was on a straight stretch of the bypass that I realized groggily that I had a lead foot and was speeding.  I looked down and I was almost at 60 in a 45 mph zone.  Rather than being a WHOA! moment, it was more of a zombie like  uuuh? moment.  Corrected that and realized I was dizzy. Convenience store Gatorade, for the win.  A short stop after that and I had a SuperSonic breakfast burrito for my dinner.

Ah, you didn't think my date was actually going to spring for dinner, did you?  Neither did I, though I asked for them to leave the onions off out of consideration for him.  So as I was driving home he sent me the cheesy cancellation text. Oh, how thoughtful.  Especially since he has left me hanging several times before without even the text.  

I swear, I'm about tired of trying to date.

Know who I want to date? A running coach. Yep.  One who doesn't mind pacing a slow chick.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Running Away

Tonight I ran for the first time in over a week.  It was a rainy afternoon and hardly anyone was at my current favorite running venue when I arrived, because it was 6:40 and the sun had just set.  In just a couple of weeks, it won't matter whether I run in the morning or in the afternoon, because it will be dark too early either way.  *sigh*. 

I'd like someplace interesting to run that's safe, and people to run with.  Oh, to have running trails to choose from.  I enjoyed the coolness of early autumn.  No oppressive heat, a crispness in the air, and the freshness of rain hanging about.  I honestly hoped that it would rain on me.  Not a downpour, but the light rain that just makes the air sparkle.  I wanna sparkle.

Well, in any case, I ran my first mile in under 13 minutes (an improvement for me!) and that included my warmup, walking the monster hill, and a few walks to catch my breath.  I'm still gasping and wheezing when I get out of breath, and loud as a tornado with my breathing.  I guess I just have to accept that I'm going to be loud.  

On the other hand, my pace improved.  :). Must be my new bionic hip.  And not listening to music.  Actually, the 8 days I took off from running I was allowing my latest cortisone shot to work without new inflammation to deal with.  I still don't understand how a shot in a bursa down there on my lower hip can help the pain at the top of my hip, but I suppose it might be an illiotibial band issue. 

I think today I started getting close to the point where I can just abandon myself to enjoying the run.  That's what I want more than anything -- to enjoy running.  To not be tethered down by my weight, my shin splints, the heat, my lack of stamina.  To just RUN and enjoy it.  For a few minutes, I realized that my mind was wandering, thinking about something other than my breathing discomfort, and I went a fair distance just enjoying myself.  :). I loved it.  I was just a thought floating away. 

No sign of endorphins though.  I suspect that I won't hear from them until I can regularly push beyond five miles.  When three miles becomes a breeze, and I'm working on it, five miles shouldn't be a problem. 

Today I only ran two miles, then I took another quarter turn around the path for a cool down.  I didn't want to overdo it my first time back running.  So far, I feel okay, physically.  Emotionally, I feel a little lifted from the Slough of Despond where I was languishing for well over a week.  Maybe that's why I don't feel a rush -- my endorphins are doing all they can to pull me from the depths of depression and there's nothing left for the runner's high.

If it's going to improve my mood, I really need to run before work each day.  A mood boost would definitely help.