Tuesday, December 31, 2013

NYE Owwies...

I'm lying here in bed trying to gently wake myself up after a night of really solid good sleep. About five hours of it in deep sleep, so, yay! So good for me.  I say gently because I'm sore.  Lol. It's cold in the house right now, which is why I'm reluctant to leave the warmth of my comforter.

I'm trying to drink my hot lemon water for day two of my juice fast redux.  I say trying because i don't like hot lemon water, and I know this is cup one of two.  It's not as bad as say, coconut water, but let's face it, I'd really rather have hot chocolate or a latte.

Hot is a relative term, I've discovered.  What one person calls hot is simply very warm to another. I'm pretty sure that when someone says they like hot coffee, they don't mean truly hot.  Just maybe... almost intolerably warm.  I discovered when I was in college that there is a difference between "hot" and HOT!! when I was sick living in the dorm.  I had a terrible sore throat so I made myself some ramen soup.  A raw throat is oh-so-much more heat sensitive than a healthy throat.  What I thought was simply hot soup literally burned the tissues of my throat.  

Funny, I didn't burn my tongue or my mouth, but my throat was scalded.  You know that horrible dessicated and swollen feeling the inside of your mouth gets when you burn it?  That was my throat for a couple of weeks that winter, to make matters so much worse.  I couldn't help it stay moist no matter how much I drank, and I had that scalded feeling 24 hours a day.  Lozenges and candy didn't help either.  I sipped a lot of thin, bland, rather cold soup while it healed because solid food was too painful to swallow and anything salty or spicy tore me up all over again.  

If only I'd known about smoothies and had a blender.  And the money to afford fruit.... A cold strawberry soup would have been lovely and very healing.

Just be careful with warm liquids when your throat is raw, okay? Trust me. Your throat will perceive them as boiling hot if it's irritated by days of coughing already.

I went to the gym and had an old friend who is a certified personal trainer show me some new things and make me lift heavier weights.  I'll be honest... I didn't want to.  I was scared. I got a little flustered when he told me to add more weight.  Lol. But I went up to 70 pounds on leg extensions and 130 on leg presses, and I was folded up like a pretzel for those.  I couldn't keep my thighs from flaring out a bit when I was at the beginning of a rep, because my belly got in the way.  :(. Boo. Oh well.  The more muscle I build on my legs and butt, the easier it will be to burn the fat from my belly. Although... It will never really be easy.  Ha ha ha. 

The only part of me that isn't sore is my calves, which means I need to get myself on the elliptical or the treadmill today. My chest and back are reminding me just how weak they are, and that they want to be stronger.  Luckily for me, DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) won't truly hit me until tomorrow, so today I can feel really positive about what I did yesterday. This isn't too bad, but it's just a hint of what tomorrow will feel like. I dislike being sore, but I know it's necessary to get me from here to there. I don't like what "here" looks like in the mirror or feels like moving around.

Ah, I added some minced ginger to my lemon water and it tastes MUCH better.  (I squished it through my garlic press.  Shortcut! No peeling!  Lol). I wish I'd done that yesterday when I had a headache upon waking.  I took some Tylenol and went back to bed, and a few minutes later it made me sick.  I was lying there, thinking, hang on, I feel nauseated... what the...?  Then the saliva machine turned on and I headed to the bathroom to throw up.  Looks like Tylenol on a truly empty stomach is a problem for me.  I should have had some ginger then.... wherever... that bag of crystallized ginger has gotten off to.... Have you seen it? 

As for New Year's Eve plans... Hm.  Well, I don't have any.  I don't know of anything going on, and I'm not a bar hopper, so I may just spend the evening in my own living room dance club playing Dance Central with several glasses of green veggie juice.  :)



Sunday, December 29, 2013

MRI Panic

I had an MRI of my hip on Friday. Before I talk about that, let me share something else I have learned:

When your orthopedic surgeon starts twisting your limbs and poking his fingers into tender places, it's a good idea to drop your stoic act and react to the pain so he knows where the problem is.  Of course, if you're used to your pain mattering to no one else but yourself, this might be a difficult front to shake.  

To be fair to myself, I thought he was feeling around for something in particular -- something palpable in the tissue. I didn't know he was gauging my reaction.  I thought my job was to just endure the painful poking.  The last poke into my hip really did make me yell unexpectedly.  LOL 

He put a stop to the cortisone shots because he didn't believe they were helping enough or long enough, and definitely hadn't fixed the problem. (And they've caused a couple of side effects, too.)  Then he said he thought an MRI would possibly help see what the problem was, because the X-rays had been inconclusive and the my neurologist's office hadn't shared the MRI results from scanning my lower back.  

The first MRI had been of limited value, to me.  The doctor said I have the spine of a healthy 19 year old, and that the nerve pain and numbness in my leg is due to an irritated femoral nerve.  He offered me a prescription for painkillers.  I didn't take it.  I want the problem corrected, not glazed over.  I don't want surgery, either.  I was hoping for maybe some physical therapy that would fix me up, though I know that would be painful.  

Another problem with the steroids: I should have continued steadily losing weight from my continued juicing, but my weight loss stopped right after I started the steroids, even though I was still on juice for three meals most days.  My weight just stopped in place.  So I guess it was a good thing I was juicing or I would have gained weight.  

For the MRI, I got to choose music (80s music was my request, and a favorite of the tech, who thanked me afterward) and had big headphones to wear.  The machinery was still pretty loud, though the music gave me something else to focus on.  My feet were taped together, and there was a heavy frame thing draped over my abdomen.  I supposed that was to limit where pictures were taken, to my hip.  

She slid the table I was on into the machine.  It stopped before my nose was actually in the tube, and every so often, it would move me forward another millimeter or two.  That's when I first noticed that if I was in the tube completely, the top would only be a couple of centimeters from touching my nose.  What do people with big noses do? Get it smashed flat?

That's when my claustrophobia, a foe I had thought vanquished, returned to constrict my lungs in a mini anxiety attack.  I was afraid to take a deep breath, because I didn't want to mess up the scan and have to redo it.  I was afraid if I breathed too deeply, I would touch the walls of the tube and freak out.  Then I realized I couldn't take a deep breath at all and the continuous shallow breaths I was taking didn't give me enough oxygen.  

There's nothing so terrible as the frantic longing to fill your lungs with one good, oxygen rich breath, when it is absolutely impossible to do so.  I'm not even sure it was true hyperventilation, because I was breathing slowly, but still feeling like I was there wasn't any oxygen coming into my lungs. Sometimes I can fully inflate my lungs and feel that it wasn't enough.  I suppose that's a trick of the mind I need to conquer, because it plagues me when I run too.

Before long, my taped-together feet gave me the feeling that they couldn't possibly ever move again, even though they were only held loosely together by masking tape over my socks.  I knew that any minute, my right leg was going to spasmodically jerk out of the tape.   

And then... The "what-ifs" started.  I started thinking of random, scary scenarios.  I didn't want to, it just happened.  I started wondering what would happen if I couldn't breathe. It was like being in an extra small coffin, and there wasn't even room to try to break through the lid.  (As if the weight of the dirt on top would allow that, LOL) 

Okay, it wasn't a coffin, but what if zombies attacked?  I started visualizing the undead breaking into the control room first and killing the technician, then coming in where I was, probably looking like a captive Hot Pocket.  I wouldn't be able to wiggle through the hole where my feet were before they grabbed my head and started crunching in. Heck, there would probably be a tug-of-war between my feet and head and I'd get ripped in half.  *shudder*

Okay, now I was being ridiculous.  Zombies aren't real. Then Final Destination scenarios started going through my head.  I went from being magnetically cooked, to having all the metal in my system ripped through my organs and skin, to the machine exploding and impaling me like a skishkabob inside.  

About that time the tech asked how I was doing.  I lied and said I was okay.  The next time she asked, fifteen minutes later, I lied again, but she said there were only 14 minutes or so left in the test so I really tried focusing on the music and not my impending gory demise.

Next time.... I'm going to ask for a small dose of Valium before I put myself through that.  Or drink some wine before I go in.  And some sort of back pillow, too, because that killed my lower back.  Ouch...

Let's not fool ourselves... Claustrophobia doesn't really get cured, does it?  I still can't handle a crowd of people pressing tightly around me, and I don't like it when someone gets into my personal space without warning or permission.  Including a sudden, passionate kiss I received back in the summertime.  At the time, I hadn't decided that I wanted anyone physically that close to me, so the kiss startled me and I may have unintentionally recoiled as a result.  I apologize, if that was the case, though I'm sure the kisser doesn't really care how I feel anyway.  I suppose it truly is ancient history, per his choice.

I'm really tired of the OtterBox picture always showing up, so I'm going to try to replace it with something else.  Cross your paws.  Maybe a little Jaqen H'ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) first?


 (You should see the video of him reading his lines on helium.  That's hilarious!)

http://m.youtube.com/watch?sns=fb&v=q4U1rFLUsNw&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dq4U1rFLUsNw%26sns%3Dfb












Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dreams and Portents

The new year is just a few days away, and I just realized something.  The year will be 2 14, and my birthday is 2 14. It's the only time in my life such a thing will ever occur.  

I'll be 43, and if you add the digits together, it's 7, which is often a lucky number.  2 goes into 14, 7 times.  

It might be significant.  Maybe it's a sign of a good year to come.  Maybe it's a sign that I should stop believing in signs and understand that numerology is silly.  

Unless of course, you win the lottery.  And that would make me, among other things, build myself a cavernous new house with secret passages to amuse myself and freak out visitors.  Lol

Talk about "winning friends and influencing people," that would make 'em crawl out of the woodwork, wouldn't it? :)

I slept until nearly 2 pm today.  I missed the trash pickup, which just came by a few minutes ago.  I didn't think they would come today / this week.  Our usual pickup day in my neighborhood is Thursday, but there have been Thursdays close to holidays before when they have skipped my poor, declining neighborhood for the week even with trash piled up and waiting near the curb.  The wealthy neighborhoods never have to miss a pickup, and they pay the same for the service as I do.  Anyway, it's not a real problem right now. It might be by next Thursday.  ;)

So... I hadn't meant to fall back asleep when I did.  My dog woke me at 5 am with a gurgle tummy. Nothing happened while he was outside.  At 7, he woke me again, with the same problem.  Again, no results.  At about 10, he wanted out again.  That's when I fell asleep again, unwittingly.

I dreamed that I went back to college.  (I often dream that, with sometimes fantastic and whimsical variations.). I had begged my sister to come with me, because I was nervous about such a big place and thousands of strangers.  As it turned out, there was so much to do and see there, that I forgot my fear and just started enjoying the surroundings.  (Maybe I was dreaming of what Heaven will be like? A place where I can learn anything I want and I'll never have to be afraid again?)

Anyway, it was a warm, sunny day, and people were outside, enjoying themselves in a huge park-like area.  Swimming, playing frisbee, sunbathing, reading, and skateboarding.  (I actually did that because it looked fun and I wasn't worried about getting hurt.  It was more fun than it looked. Ha Ha ha ha.)

We walked around campus and I noticed that the leaves on the trees were lively and bright, in their autumn colors.  They were even piling in small drifts in the ground, but they weren't dead, crunchy, and faded.  They were still vibrant and looked like they were still alive, though separate from their trees.  There were even flowers in the many planters and flowerbeds.  

Several of the buildings had entire sections devoted to different students' educational departments, for them to socialize and study together. There were huge fountains dancing and one of them got me very wet while I was waiting for a security check, but the water wasn't upsetting.  A few different men flirted with me. (BEFORE I ever got wet, if you must know, LOL.) There was even a movie theater on campus with a candy store next to it. (Of course I bought some.  And ate it.  No worries - I just ate one piece of chewy candy. )

I was really surprised that there were so many shops there right there on campus, because there wasn't much when I was an undergrad years ago. Anything I might need was within walking distance, and I knew I would be okay here, all by myself.  Nobody was trying to hurt me by making out with my ex-boyfriend in front of me at every opportunity, no ex-boyfriend trying to make me jealous just for the sake of hurting me. (I had both of those situations forced on me my first year on campus, all the time.) 

No constant underlying feeling of being the gloomy, annoying hanger-on in a group of people who were always someone else's friends.  No worries that I wouldn't be able to afford food or clothes when I needed them, and that I didn't really know how to take care of myself when I was sick, or be sad that nobody came to visit me while I was gone merely one hour away from home.

College was really a lonely time for me, but in this dream it felt like there was the potential for something wonderful to happen, without the worry of loneliness and failure.  The future held great possibilities, and I knew things would be different this time.

When I awoke, I didn't have a headache from sleeping too long. I felt awake, refreshed, and positive.  Restored.  It must have been due to my time in the land of healing stage 4 sleep.  The concept of unhappiness never crossed my mind because I was in such a beautiful place.

So what does it mean? Well, could be a number of things.  

* I was so overtired that my brain devised the Matrix, to keep me down long enough to reboot the system.

* 2014 will be a happy year for me, and I'll start feeling better, possibly complete some goals.

* Maybe I'm going to spend time on a college campus.... Maybe working on an art degree? 

* I'll find some decent light bulbs and finally get able to get some light in my house. :D

* It was a warm-looking sunny day while I was doing my best to emulate Sleeping Beauty, and I could see all that light through my closed eyelids.

Possibilities... If I believe the next year has positive significance, maybe it just could have it after all.  I can't psyche myself into it entirely, so anytime anybody wants to help provide a positive start to the wondermousness, I'm ready.  :)



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Learned, Part 4

The recipe that makes precisely one pie's worth of pumpkin pie filling at Thanksgiving may leave you with a cup and a half of leftover filling at Christmas. More Christmas math.  Lol. You can just pour it into a small stoneware cooking dish and bake it along with the pie for a crustless pie.  :) Hey, fewer carbs and calories, amirite?  

Kroger carries canning supplies even this late in the year.  They even stock my favorite salsa mix.  (Mrs. Wages' Medium -- make it with apple cider vinegar... It's yummy!)

Other women decide on ponytail styles... I struggle with *containment*.  As in, my ponytail is a failed bondage scene. It just won't submit and stay where it's supposed to.  It's always in my face unless I use hairpins, which does not look pretty.  Besides, hairpins make my head itch the moment I start sweating.  I guess I've learned that my ponytail will never obey.  *sigh*. (Where is Christian Grey when you need him to braid your hair?). I can't get my hair successfully French braided to contain it either.

Buffs are too tight on my head to use for headbands.  Polar Buffs work nicely for making balaclavas.  Fortunately, Buff does make a headband that doesn't squeeze my cranium into a migraine, though said headband is not compatible with my hairstyle.  

Sparkly Soul headbands, while I love their gorgeousness, aren't compatible with my hair either.  They can't go back farther than a couple of inches from the hairline, and I need my headband closer to my ponytail to assist it.  I suppose they're more fashion than form, but I did give them a hearty try.  

My sweat makes me itch.  During my bathroom break last night, my face looked like it was irritated, everywhere it sweated heavily.  I scratched my itchy arm and the marks were bright red compared to the pale rest of me.

All the crunchy leaves in my front yard fit well in my two flowerbeds.  The pulp from my juicing spreads very well over the leaves and disappears quickly.  I'm sheet composting for this year's gardening efforts, all at the same time, and being very green about it. :) 3 birds, one stone. 

I feel awful when I don't eat healthy food.  All the raw veggie juice I've been drinking has turned into a craving.  Right now, I'm thinking sautéed kale with a little bacon and red onion sounds yummy, and I've never been big on green vegetables.  Kale chips turned out to be as yummy as zucchini chips, though I had a hard time finding zucchini locally all year.  




Christmas Math

Make 1 1/2 gallons of Grandmomma's boiled custard recipe, and decant it into jugs for refrigeration, and what do you get?  Almost two and a half gallons of finished custard.  I think my grandmother is having a good laugh up there in Heaven.  :)   Good thing I had several quart jugs to pour it into.

Seriously, it's probably from the bubbles.  No matter what you do, with cooked custard there are always lumps, and I hate lumps. They're just egg protein that clumped together but I prefer a smooth drink. I usually strain them out and let my dog have them when I'm done. 

Last night I ran the whole batch through the blender and it came out smooth and a little bubbly.  Well, the small cup I tasted this morning was smooth, anyway.  It's also light and fluffy, rather than thick and heavy enough it can be eaten with a spoon.  It tastes wonderful, no matter the consistency.  

Now all I need is a dish of my grandmother's Poor Man's Pudding.  :)  Made from leftover buttermilk biscuits rather than stale bread, and absolutely without raisins or you'll incur the disapproval of my brother.  Lol

Monday, December 23, 2013

Learned, Part 3

A really nice thick terry cloth robe is worth the money if you love lounging in it whether you're fresh out of the shower, recently awakened, or home from work and needing an extra snuggle over your clothes for a nap on the couch.  Matching (fake) sheepskin slippers are pretty fabulous too.  Go on.  You deserve a cuddly robe and slippers, for the first time in your life.

Jojoba oil is a great overnight hair conditioner, but you really don't want to be called for a ride to the emergency room that night, you greaseball looking thing.  People will think you never wash your hair, instead of realizing you're taking exceptionally good care of your hair that night. Timing and clairvoyance are everything.

Sometimes it's better not to answer the phone, if you know the caller is going to ruin your night.

Christmas eventually degrades from thoughtful gifts, to gift card trading, to an exchange of plain old cash because people don't want to be bothered with shopping for another person.  

Cortisone shots will really mess with your cycle, in more than one way. Do the research, because the doctors haven't figured this out yet and it's icky to talk about. Cortisone messes with estrogen levels.  Hmmm...

Sometimes you just can't rescue that scorched pot.  *sigh* Be happy about your nineteen years together and meet some new cookware. And understand that your new cookware will have a huge gooey sticker attached that will NOT come off!

A sturdy metal coatrack makes a great pot rack when you have nowhere to put a real pot rack... Or all of your new pots. Leather shoelaces make great hanging loops for your pots and pans when the hanging holes won't accommodate your coat rack... I mean pot rack's hooks.  :)

There's always someone who will twist your words to deliberately make a complete stranger angry at you.  The stranger will be dumb enough to fall for it, like you were.  You may never understand why they did it, but knowing that person is a manipulator gives you the measure of his character.  Seeing how he or she treats someone else will show how that person will treat you.  

There is not "someone for everyone" unless you are talking about a worldwide average.  Some people take multiple servings of cake, and leave nothing for others.  Some people were never allowed to have any cake, and say that the crumbs are all they need to be forever happy.  But you know they wanted some cake too, so don't go on and on about how fabulous your cake is, right in their face all the time.

Using my stand mixer makes for less cleanup time when I'm doing a lot of baking.  It has one bowl and one large beater, so I wash it after every use to be ready for the next use, and I have a lot smaller mess to clean up.  :). And oh yes, the KitchenAid was worth the price. :)

People say that you can't be loved by someone else until you love yourself, but they refuse to understand that sometimes you need someone else to prove that you are worth loving.  For half of us, it's the lonely flip side.  I think it's easier to be stuck on yourself, actually, and it shows a lack of humility and compassion for others. People who are happy are often too willing to feel superior to those who are not.

A pound of butter costs a dollar more if you buy it as 8 half sticks, rather than 4 regular sticks.  Holy cow, that's ridiculous!

There are recipes out there for eggless cookie dough, able to be eaten raw without fear of raw eggs.  And of course, there are warnings about eating raw flour.  *sigh*. I've eaten raw cookie dough all my life, and I used to put raw eggs in my peanut butter breakfast milkshake before school in high school, and I've never gotten sick from that.  The one time I got salmonella was from a can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup, properly heated.

Doctors are bribed by product reps to recommend certain blood glucose meters and supplies.  You'll need their prescription to buy the test strips, which will cost double or triple the price of the ones you can buy without a prescription. The cheaper, no-prescription-required meters and strips will do the same job as an expensive meter.  I lost a lot of respect for my doctor when I realized this. The fact that he was influenced by someone without a stake in my health or finances really bothers me. That, and the fact that he can no longer get my name or health issues right even with my file in his hand caused me to drop him.

Blue cheese stuffed olives will not do when you want almond stuffed olives. :(

It's possible that one batch of red velvet truffles could take all day to make.  And you should reduce the oil in the recipe while you add cocoa powder to it.  You can reduce a cake to crumbs with a decent stand mixer.  :)

Providing someone the cash they requested for a gift takes all the fun out of giving them a gift. It's easier, but no fun.  Boo. 


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Learned, Part 2

Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy does wonders for ketchup... And Domino's pizza.  The pizza is improved over the old version, but it ain't all THAT.  

I can oil paint, and though I'm a beginner, my teacher considers me advanced. She has a lot of confidence in me. Lol

Apple's chargers really are dual voltage.  I know a guy who has tested that in China, India, and Poland.  

Twist ties will hold Yorkie bangs... Until said Yorkie feels that there is something in his hair and removes the tie.  Maybe I should continue to French braid his hair and use a twist tie at the end.

Lemon, lime, and ginger will improve the taste of most homemade juices.  Beets will overpower the taste of a quart of juice if you use the whole beet.   Beets are a beautiful shade of purple-red and taste like dirt if you don't peel those suckers. Beets also do interesting things to your bathroom visits, so, though they are great for heart health, they might also cause a heart attack in the bathroom if you forget you ate (or drank) them.

Planting basil around tomatoes really does help to keep pesky insects away.  Maybe I just got lucky, but I didn't have any hornworm problems.  Purple basil is just as tasty as sweet basil in a Caprese salad, and it's pretty, too. :). Basil needs to be harvested OFTEN, or the leaves get big and lose their flavor.  

I learned how to can salsa.  I thought there was this huge mystery to it, but it turns out that it was just another simple craft project for me.  Lol. I made some terrific salsa.  Too bad some people kept the jars. No jars, no salsa for them.  (Y'all know those jars aren't throwaways, right?? And they're not cheap?)

Propping open my carport gate will not lower the water level when my property is flash flooding.  The water just keeps flowing through the gap, a couple of inches deep.  Thank God my house isn't level with the ground! 

I can put large dry erase boards in my classroom (though they will not be provided) simply because Lowes is kind enough to sell the unmounted boards for about $11 each.  I still need a stand to set one on for immediate instructional use, though.  Maybe I can design one from PVC.

Trying to smuggle alcohol on a Carnival cruise rarely works if you try bringing it in a mouthwash or root beer bottle.  On the other hand, if you buy it in port, the guy scanning your bag will tell you to turn it in for storage until the last night.  Furthermore, if you're told to take it over to another table 10 or more feet away, chances are the turn-in guy didn't hear what the other said and you can just walk past him because the first guy will be too busy scanning more bags and telling them to turn in their liquor purchases.  Chances are good that your sister will obey their orders and stop while you just walk past, ensuring stunned hilarity later on.  :)

No matter how well you make your veggie juice, you're never going to get B-12 from it, so that supplement will still be necessary.

Hot flashes really can begin in your 30s for no other reason than you're childless.  (THANKS for that double whammy, btw.). They absolutely suck, but having them in the middle of the night has to be less of a hassle than during the daytime.  At least you can lie there under the ceiling fan in a 68 degree room and cool off again... Eventually.  If you can't sleep through it.  

I've learned that I would rather hand paint an entire sign of specialty text than use Mod Podge again.  If the stretching paper of my print doesn't drive me nuts, the bubbles under the paper will.  Spray adhesive only helped a little bit with this problem, which turned piecing into a nightmare. Maybe my Cricut would be better...

People are actually buying handmade, hand (and arm) knitted, and crocheted items.  My mind is blown.  I can do all of that but I have a dread of being left with a room full of handmades that nobody wants to buy from me.  I gave two afghans as gifts this year.  One to my father (lukewarm reaction, but that may have been a post surgical funk) and one to our Chinese teacher who was really happy to get it.  :).   And now I need to make another round of hats for my nephews.  

I still feel like an utter failure at life.

Reeds, makers of awesome sting-your-throat ginger ale and ginger beer, also makes Butterbeer, which is not available in these parts and too expensive to ship.  Sad face.  A bottle of A&W Cream Soda and an ounce or two of butterscotch schnapps make a really tasty grown up version suitable for making you forget that you can't have the Butterbeer soda.

Canvas drop cloths are wonderful when you have to spray paint something but you don't want to paint your yard, nor get bits of grass stuck to your freshly painted item.  

Foamboard is incredibly useful stuff.  Just look on Pinterest.  I've used it for making fabric storage cubbies, paper racks for my classroom, a doggie gate, drawer organizers, carryall sectioners, storage boxes, photo collages, nightstand organizer, and a bunch of other stuff so incorporated into daily life that I no longer notice.

Venus Embrace? Not a great razor for me.  Maybe five blades is overkill.  Perhaps three would work better.  Five blades skip over a lot...

I can handle darkness at night.  I thrive on it when I'm not tired.  But the grey days of winter, when everything looks dead and most trees are skeletons, depress me horribly and make me feel cold all the time.  Winter cold should have snow to brighten things up.  I need more light!

Juicing makes your stomach shrink, and this is great when you want to eat less anyway.  It supports your willpower. Tell people you are juicing, and they act like you're in a cult.  Lol. (I'm in a cult that consumes raw fruits and veggies for nutrition....ommmmm!  How weird, right?!?).  Tell people you're taking weight loss drugs, and you are their BFF.  ;).  (Those don't really work on me anymore, and they barely did before.). 

Some people will still be your friend even if you can't buy weight loss supplements from them.  Some people only act like your friend when they are trying to make you their customer. You can usually tell which just want to help you and which only want to make money off of you.  You won't be any less lonely when you figure it out.  ;). (I really do wish the pink drink had worked for me, like it does other people.). 

I still want to create awesome playthings for kids. *sigh*. Of all people, I should have had a house full of kids to make things for.  *SIGH*

I can't tell kids in my class sad stories (even fictional, animated stories) or I will sniffle and cry in front of them.  WAHHH!! I can't control it! It's so embarrassing!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Learned, Part 1

I have learned that when there are 2 inches of water steadily flowing through the carport, a cat will not leave her perch, safe in a chair, for food. She will, however, allow you to bring her food bowl to her so that she can eat where she is without getting her paws wet.  The next morning, in gratitude, she and her mother will sing you the song of their people, requesting more food. It was an amusing duet.

I have learned that it is possible to use a Kyocera copy machine to create a computer scored exam, grade the exam, and analyze the results in every possible way.  All on one copy machine.  I learned this incidentally from the teacher who wanted me to do this because I was left out of the training on that copier.  I had no idea it could be done! Such is life as a "not a real teacher", as seen by fellow faculty members over whom I have seniority, and some of whom have less education than I do.  Amusing. :)

need between 8 and 9 hours of sleep to feel my best, and if I push it toward 9, I'll wake up with a sore back and ribs.  I can survive on 6 or 7, but I'll feel awful until a few days of consistent, plentiful sleep.  Ten straight hours of sleeping will give me a headache.  I get my best sleep when I've exercised that day, but if I exercise late in the evening I will have a hard time sleeping and I'll start back on that vicious cycle of sleep deprivation again.  

Melatonin gummies DO work.  :). And they taste good.  

I CAN wake up and go to the gym at 5:30 in the morning, though I will look like a swollen-eyed, ponytailed, pale-faced and tired hag when I get there. And I really won't care about it, either.  All this despite the fact that I'm a night owl and would rather go to the gym at 1 am to have free run of the place.  

Casey's IS FULL OF MEN at 5:30 in the morning, and apparently that's where my gym invisibility fails me.  They all stared at me, looking like a hag, obviously headed to the gym, fresh out of bed in my workout gear, buying a large Smart Water bottle that will be reused with my home's tap water until the bottle cracks. 

An hour workout before work perks me up and boosts my mood until lunchtime or later, even though I didn't want to get up.  I felt great both days I tried it, and wanted to be home in bed at 9 pm, though other people refused to let me the second day, and I ended up too sleep-deprived to go the next morning.  

Exercising myself to death won't make me lose weight, but juicing certainly will.  :) 

When my dog has a dirty backside, he will want to stick it in my face.  It's his way of requesting a bath.  He hates baths.

You can create a couple of square feet of countertop in my kitchen by moving the microwave to the baker's rack, which was previously just a clutter catcher.  That "new" countertop prep area will feel like it's the size of a football field.  You can also create workspace by putting a large cutting board into the 2 pulled-out drawers your entire kitchen boasts, but only if you don't need to use the stove. Lol. (Okay, just go around and use the stove from the back side.  It took me 12 years in this house to figure these things out.  Thanks to Pinterest for the second tip.)

Dap makes horrible DIY bathroom caulk for the tub.  Loctite is what you want, if you're a DIYer of my questionable caliber.  Dap sucks.  Dap cracks and molds rather quickly.  Trust me.  Loctite. Just go to Lowes and get it. And use the neighbor's shower for three days while yours dries.  (Ok, the neighbor is a sibling, so that's not too creepy.)

Turning all the lights on in the room and burning a few nice candles will boost your mood a little, especially if you drink something warm and chocolatey.  

Even after your mom is gone and you feel relieved that you won't have to crow over the dollar box of chocolate covered cherries she always gave you because she loved them, somebody is bound to keep giving them to you and you'll be bound to be ever so grateful for the thoughtful gift.  Forever.  One man's heirloom fruitcake is another's cheap chocolate covered cherries.  I swear to God I'm going to give that person fruitcake next year. This is my reminder note. I should go on and buy that fruitcake this year. It'll keep, right?

People will brag about specific sweets they make for Christmas to one person, and then come to you asking how to make those sweets.  I kid you not.

The vet can give your dog a shorter pedicure than you ever dared and the right vet can keep your dog absolutely calm for two injections that never even make him flinch.  That is an awesome vet.  She must smell just right to my dog.  He trusts her. :)

Loving someone for fifteen years has no bearing on how willing they will be to hurt you.  Forgiving their lies and shortcomings seems to be inversely proportional to how well they treat you when you are most vulnerable.  

People do change for other people, or rather, as a result of knowing those people.  I have definitely been changed by the man who broke my heart, with him knowing full well exactly what he was doing.  I wish I could tell him that while he is labeling all of his exes bitches, he made them that way.  He complained that they were sweet at the start, then turned into bitches, but never acknowledged that his treatment of them was the catalyst for their change.  In fact, he would probably call me a bitch for saying that.  But that wouldn't be correct.  I'm still just trying to survive what he did to me.  He lied when he said he would never hurt a woman. He does it without even an apology.  Karma is a bitch, too. And she's got teeth.

Ah, what am I doing, thinking about him?  It's obvious to me now that he never really cared about me.  I hadn't thought about him in a while, but he was in my dream last night.  Just a dream where I was at work, things were frantic, and he was a useless, cold, unapproachable administrator who was forcing everyone to watch a video that literally put me to sleep in my dream. It's as weird to truly sleep in a dream as it is to truly die in one.  It's like the "dead man" on the floor through most of Jigsaw.  

I learned how to eat alone in a restaurant this year. The third time was the charm (it no longer bothered me intensely), and I spent that time focused on properly using chopsticks to eat my sushi, while trying a friendly smile on the guy sitting across from me.  He seemed freaked that his invisibility had slipped. Lol. I was just practicing being a non-rabbit.  :).  I'm not into picking men up -- I'm just old fashioned that way -- and he wasn't interesting.  I was just trying to eat without choking on my wasabi.  It tends to go up my nose. Lol.  I love it anyway. :). 

The experience reminded me of the scene from City of Angels, when Seth is alone and buying pears at the market after Maggie's death.  You can see him blinking back tears, but ultimately, he just got on with his life, without her.  

It's what you have to do, because it's all you have left -- either a dead end altogether, or shadowy possibilities you don't dare to hope for.  

I'm finally enjoying sushi enough that I won't wait months for someone who will go with me to the restaurant.  :)   I can't parlay it into a reason for living, but I have to live long enough to try out the chopsticks and spoon my friend gave me for Christmas, emblazoned with this year's Chinese National Opera good guy.  ;)










Saturday, December 14, 2013

Finished First Oil Painting

Okay, here's my first oil painting.  I realize it has flaws, but I'm pleased with my results.  I suppose it's a derivative work of the photo I used, which isn't mine, but I obviously had to change a few things from the inspiration piece.  I'm not thrilled with how my fan brush handled the paint -- it felt really sticky to me.  I did like what my teacher showed me to do with the washout areas below the waves though.  

I'm feeling a little trepidation about choosing what to paint next.  Maybe a big tropical flower? I've drawn tropical beach scenes since I was a teenager, but I think the palm fronds and the fan brush would aggravate me too much at this stage.  Lol

Right about now I'm supposed to be at an acrylic painting class, but it was canceled this morning because there weren't enough people.  I was REALLY wanting to paint that particular picture -- I'd been looking forward to it all week.  I know it's just an Afremov ripoff, but I love all of those bright, bold colors, and I don't really like their other samples because they look kitschy and amateurish.  For me -- I mean, I've done craft painting like that for many years already and I want to learn something new.  

Granted, they look perfect for Mommy and Me parties, and I'll never have any business at one of those unless I'm teaching the class myself.  Best wishes to all you parents out there, but I'll never get to be one of you. I've given up on that too.

Maybe they'll offer it again sometime.  Maybe I'll get a set of cheap oils to play with and just follow the free tutorial posted by the artist himself.  All I'll need is a palette knife, after all.  Hahah and a lot of patience to learn the technique, as well as forgiving myself for making a big goopy mess of my canvas.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Oils and the Sea

So far, my oil painting lessons are going pretty well, for a beginner.  I'm sure that I will, sooner or later, hate my first effort, but for now, I'm not completely embarrassed for other people to see the painting.  

It's a very colorful seascape, complete with waves tumbling over rocks. The rocks were easy, thanks to the spirit of Bob Ross and numerous videos of his memorialized on YouTube.  At least I could understand what I was doing with the palette knife. :). 

The waves, on the other hand, gave me fits.  I couldn't get a good handle on using a fan brush, though I practiced for about an hour on a practice canvas.  Finally, I just decided, what the heck, and gave it a shot.  It was.... Not bad.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture before I left, so proof will have to wait until Tuesday night.  Haha. 

I look around at my classmates' work and wonder, wow, will I ever paint as well as they do? And then they look at what I'm painting and seem shocked that it's only my second lesson.  Well, I'm flattered.  I am.

And I'm awed because these ladies talk about paintings that they have sold.  Sold? Really???  Cool!

Part of me is skeptical and I think they're just being kind and supportive.  Then the other part of me says to stop being so insecure and accept the praise as honestly given.

The real test is walking out of the room and taking a fresh look from a distance.  That's when I realize I'm doing a lot better than I thought. 

And I'm happy with my progress.  :)

Where Does it Hit You?

Just a brief, musing thought, late on a brittle, icy December night.  I had a small glass of red wine and it hit me fast.  

The first place I felt the effect was my right collarbone, and then the left.  It's like a weight has blossomed beneath the bone and muscle.  Why that side first?  I'm not really sure.  Maybe that's the one I broke when I was two.  Lately it hurts a lot, so it's possible that's where the wine affects me first. It needs anesthetizing. 

I wonder if other people have a particular place that they're affected first.  Granted, beer goes straight to my belly, and I think anything stronger just goes right to my bladder.  Lol

Any thoughts?


Friday, December 6, 2013

The Ice Storm Cometh

For the last five days, an ice storm has been predicted for my area. Naturally, everyone went crazy buying bread and milk. Tuesday night, the bread shelves at Kroger were almost depleted. All the name brand bread was gone, but all of the store brand generic bread was plentiful.  "We WILL have our Wonder Bread, but will starve before we eat no-name bread! And we will dunk our bread in the milk." Because that tastes sooo yummy.  

I still don't understand why people insist on having bread and milk during an ice storm. If you lose power, what are you going to make with bread and milk?  You can't even make French toast without an egg. And then of course, you'll need some butter to cook it with, some syrup to pour over it, and maybe even some powdered sugar to sprinkle on top. 

Maybe it's due to my fear of unnatural hormones these days in cows' milk and the fact that I just don't buy bread anymore. Homemade bread is wonderful, but again, I can only eat a little before it goes stale or moldy on my, though I do love making homemade bread.  I wish I had someone special to make it for.  It seems I'm forever on a diet.

I realize that hyping up an approaching winter storm is perhaps a sales ploy so that hardware stores can sell out of their current stock of gasoline powered generators. I am sure that the victims of the last ice storm probably vowed that would never be caught with their pants down again, and generators are not an item that stores keep in high stock in the deep South.  But 13° F in the south is just as cold as 13°F in the north, and few of us can handle having no electricity for weeks at a time.

Canned ravioli.  That's my idea of a sensible ice storm - no power - shelf stable - kind of food to keep. If you get the kind that comes in a ring-pull top, you don't even have to worry about electricity for a can opener. About 10 years ago I abandoned my electric can opener for a manual one that I could put in the dishwasher and sanitize, so I don't even need electricity for that anymore. 

That does NOT mean I would happily go without power.... I'd gripe all the way over to my sister's house next door, lemme tell ya.  And hope she has Cheetos. 

You could also get Beanie Weenies, but I didn't like them until I became an adult. I still don't understand how British people eat beans for breakfast.  Maybe when I go to the UK next summer, I'll have some of their beans for breakfast and understand what the difference is. :)

So yesterday when I got off work, I decided to drive to a local dollar store and pick up some canned ravioli just in case I had no electricity. There was no way I was going to drive as far as Walmart or Kroger, and I knew that they would be like zoos anyway.  There's something about stocking up food for an emergency which puts a desperate, animalistic look in the eyes of some people. 
 
Traffic told the tale. It had started raining, and the temperature was rapidly dropping.  I was actually in the same parking lot as a grocery store and I could see one across the road from me, but the parking lots were full of cars. My destination was a dollar store because I knew that they would have canned ravioli and most people wouldn't go in there for supplies because they would need real grocery store items that dollar stores don't stock.  

This was an afternoon during which people apparently forgot driving laws, even in the parking lots. One car was zipping through the fire line of the grocery store at better than 40 miles an hour and almost ran over me.  Fortunately, I saw them coming and stopped before I got to that part of the parking lot. They stopped in time and let me cross to the front of the store.  

And the first dollar store was closed with a sign on the door about the registers not working. Well, that was okay because there was another dollar store just across the road, with pretty much the same items in it.  Getting across the road to the other parking lot was an adventure, because people were driving down the highway like they were totally panicked. 

So I went to the other dollar store, and when I walked in I heard the employees of the store in a state of panic themselves.  One was whiningly wondering why all of these people were in the store at the same time.  There must've been 15 people there! (LOL, I know. She should try working in a mall music store on Black Friday if she wants to know what a real crowd looks like.). My shopping a success, I carefully sneaked down the road back to my house, hoping to avoid a collision with another panicked driver. 

I came home and made juice. Three days of juice, so I am sitting here sipping my carrot juice cocktail. I call it that because it contains carrots, celery, cucumbers, apples, ginger, lemon, and oranges, and that's a fairly unwieldy name to wrap your tongue around.  :). My canned pasta is still sitting in its bag because I do have electricity, and I want to keep up my clean eating as long as possible. If I run out of juice and can't drive to the store, then I will eat it.  But I'm loving my juice.

I'm also enjoying an unplanned Friday off work, sitting here on the couch, nestled in my jammies under a cuddly blanket I made, with warm slippers, fake fireplace "roaring", and my dog being adorably affectionate, but most of all, enjoying the bright whiteness emanating through the window from the ice and snow outside. :)


Monday, December 2, 2013

S.A.D.

So, I'm home from work and I noticed that the minute I walked in the door, my mood started dropping.  It starts with a dragging feeling that spreads down through my legs, and works it's way back up with that anxious internal trembling that feels similar to the panicked feeling of a hypoglycemic episode.  

Really? I'm getting depressed and anxious by the simple act of coming into my house??? I don't know what's going on there but I doubt it's my blood sugar, because I'm drinking beet juice and it's not changing a thing.  

Yes, I said beet juice (they're high in sugar), because I'm back to my juicing again.  Frankly, I felt better during my three months of juicing this summer.  I had energy to exercise and run, and I felt happier and more alive.  I also didn't have any stomach pain while I was juicing, but the minute I started eating full meals again, the pain returned.  *sigh*. My belly swelled up again.  And then the girly stuff got weird.  Really weird.  Scary weird.  I'm still going to have that checked into.  

I'm still in my two-sizes-smaller pants from my first juice fast.  By Christmas, I'd like to lose another two pants sizes.  I'm not sure if I can make it happen that fast, but hopefully in another couple of days my green juice will start energizing me again.  

Right now I feel like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.  As in, peel me off the ceiling if this feeling doesn't pass quickly, because I'll be up there crying my eyes out with my nails clawed into the Sheetrock as I defy gravity. I don't know what is causing this; maybe I'm just afraid to go home to my empty and quiet house.  My dog is here, and the cats are outside, but neither is a remedy for the freaked-out, terrified feeling I get coming home.  

If my house is haunted by the lady who died in it a month before I bought it, I think I would have noticed it twelve years ago.  :). I'm pretty sure this is all me.  Maybe it's because  Christmas is approaching and I'm dreadfully lonely all through such a happy family holiday.  I don't have a family of my own, and my family has better things to do than be around me.  

Ah, Christmas... The best time to look back on your life and see what is glaringly absent and beyond your control.  I'm working on making peace with it, but it's not a quick and painless process.  

So, what can I do? Drink my beet juice and Mean Green (merely a catchy nickname because of the icky color -- I like the taste), turn on all the lights in the house, and make sure the place is very warm.  It could just be seasonal depression on top of my usual ups and downs.  (Seasonal Affective Disorder. I need a lot more light than what I'm getting.). I hate coming home in the dark.  I get up in the dark, and come home in it.  But there are no sexy vampires in the darkness to make it the least bit entertaining.  

I've started taking an oil painting class as a means of distraction... Before I'm driven to distraction by the darkness.  I miss the sun.  I really do.  

I know the juice is starting to do its thing, because I'm going to the bathroom more frequently, but in all seriousness, the volume of urine is just not matching up to the amount of fluid I've been taking in.  (So it's not peeing I'm talking about, LOL)  Some people complain that the first days of juice fasting gives them diarrhea, but not me.  I'll just put it this way:  with me, my digestive system does it's thing with highly improved efficiency. Nothing bad, just showing that things are working properly and clearing out everything.  It's easier and there's no feeling of broken glass tumbling around inside my belly all day.

Well, the preparation isn't easier.  There's all the produce to buy, store, prep, and juice.  Then I have to clean the juicer.  Then dispose of the scraps and pulp, which requires a trip to the compost pile in my backyard.  So I hate prep and cleanup, but it love my yummy fresh juice, and I definitely need to get my veggies in somehow.  Juice takes care of it.  So I'm mainlining vitamins.  No wonder I lost weight and felt great last time.  

So it's on again.  I'd love to be lighter and leaner by the time I head back to Europe.  Traveling will be a lot more comfortable without my belly in my way.