Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Taking It Easy

I'm still recovering from the cold that blasted me on Christmas Eve. Yesterday I worked on my ACT manual--it was something that I could do while relaxing and drinking tea.

I discovered a Game of Thrones marathon on TV. Apparently HBO is marathoning a season each day. It reminded me of  last year: watching Game of Thrones helped me deal with losing Spike--I guess by distracting me from my pain. I wonder if Games of Thrones marathons will always remind me of Spike.

Today I forced myself to do some household work: I finished unpacking my suitcase (on Christmas Day when we returned home I only threw my dirty clothes on top of the already full hamper) and did seven loads of laundry. It was tiring--I had to take a few breaks. I also managed a few pages in the manual.

Tomorrow I have to take my mother to the eye doctor. I guess I should be in bed already, but Cold Care PM Tea should help me sleep.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Bah Humbug

The consensus is that a three day Christmas is too much. We were able to mesh together all the missing pieces--i.e. the people and their various commitments and schedules. But it was exhausting.

It didn't help that Friday's sniffles warped into a full-blown cold yesterday. I still had a family lunch, dinner and brunch to attend. I tried to enjoy myself, but I couldn't wait to get back home. We returned around 3 PM today.

I've parked myself on the couch in sweatpants and a tee shirt with a pillow and blanket, gypsy cold care tea and a new supply of tissues. I hope I feel better tomorrow.

Friday, December 23, 2016

More Music Memories

At Taylor Farm the other day, Lola bounded up a trail of mud, leaves, snow and ice. I kept telling her to slow down.

That reminded me of this song. Then I remembered a business trip to Portland. Oregon. Jeff and I went early to explore the city. Our friend, Patti, was living there then. One night we met her at a club. As the band played Slow Down, Patti and I started singing the song through. I don't know about Patti, but I hadn't heard the song in years. I love when I can just bring up lyrics, seemingly out of the blue. (Wish I could monetize this skill.)

Further back in my memory: I was a high school freshman, rushing from my last class to my locker. My friend Karen told me to slow down. We looked at each other and started singing.

I'm lucky that I had friends who wanted to sing with me and knew the lyrics.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

One Year, But Also Eight Months

Spike died a year ago today. He had a pretty good life; he was well loved. His death was peaceful and calm. We were devastated by the loss and still miss Spike. He was awesome.

But today is also a good anniversary. It's been eight months since Lola joined us. Lola is loving and playful. Unfortunately, she's still fearful and timid, but she's becoming more comfortable with neighbors, family and friends.

I ran into an old friend at the dog park the other day. She had also lost the dog she had when we first met and rescued a dog. She heard that it may take two years for a rescue dog to fully adjust to a new home.

We'll be waiting.

Bad Attitude

Sometime between 1 and 6 this morning as I was trying to get back to sleep, I started thinking about how much easier it would be if we were going up to Jeff's sister's on Christmas Eve rather than Friday night. Friday would be a free day--a great time to wait for those last minute packages to arrive, cook, finish wrapping presents.

But this is a bad attitude. Christmas is a family thing--this is the date that worked for everyone--we did agree to it. But now that it's almost here, I want more time.

I admit I have it easy--I just have to make a few dishes (pumpkin apple soup, cheese scalloped potatoes and carrot salad)--and show up.

I'll do my best. I've finished my shopping. I'll get up early tomorrow to get the soup going. I'll do a quick workout then hand out some gifts. I have to take Lola to the park. Then cleaning and wrapping. Before getting our hair done. I can do this.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Four Days To Christmas Celebrations

Officially, it's six days until Christmas. But we have family dinners on the 23rd and 24th, a family lunch on the 24th and a family brunch on the 25th. So we really have four days to prepare. I still have shopping to do (for presents as well as food.) I've realized that I will have to make purchases for two people that I had previously designated as Jeff's responsibilities. So much for that. He won't have time to shop. If only we can figure out what to get.

I'm making a pumpkin-apple-carrot soup, cheesy scalloped potatoes and a carrot-dried fruit salad. I think I'll do the soup on Thursday and the rest on Friday morning. I tried to buy all that I need last Friday, but I forgot a few things.

I didn't feel like shopping today, but I did wrap several presents. I also worked on my ACT Coursebook though I doubt that was the best use of my time. I had already prepped through my lesson on Wednesday. It's another two weeks before the next class. But I was in the mood to work on the book so there's that.

The next two days will determine how crazy Thursday and Friday will be.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Snow Day

Today is the first real snow of the season for us; I don't count snow flurries. It started snowing sometime last night and continued into this morning. We ended up with a few inches of snow, which turned to rain sometime this afternoon. Jeff and I didn't have to go anywhere. I had gone food shopping the day before, so we were pretty well-stocked, except for no beer.

I spent most of the day doing light cleaning and Christmas decorating. Jeff cooked a pork loin with carrots, potatoes, garlic, onion and apples in the slow cooker.

By the time I have to leave tomorrow, most snow will be gone. Temperatures will rise to the fifties--a bit of luck for me and my schedule.

The term "snow days" reminds me of school. Schools are more lenient in calling snow days than businesses. And you didn't have to worry about being docked pay in school.

I'm not sure what to expect of this winter; there have been contradictory forecasts. I'm hoping for decorative snow and no ice.

What I've Been Reading

The Sunday New York Times is the only newspaper I consistently read. I enjoyed two articles in The Magazine last weekend.

The first is on anxiety dreams, or what I call frustration dreaming. I've had a variety of them. I'm not fearful in these dreams--just annoyed and (of course) frustrated. I'll have to wait until my next frustration dream to see if I feel like a champion the next day as the article's author suggested.

The second article discusses the importance of frequent activity to offset prolonged sitting.The gist of it is that occasional workouts aren't enough. Being more active generally--walking and moving around often--seems to be most helpful.

When I track my exercise, I only count sessions when I exercise for at least 30 minutes. I only count hikes of an hour or longer. I don't include my visits to dog park with Lola, which take place most days. Ironically, these may be the most beneficial for me.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I Needed This Today

I read this around 8:30 this morning.

I was feeling kind of overwhelmed and discouraged about several things.

The good news: I don't use my phone or laptop (don't have a tablet) in bed. I could use the other suggestions. Today "Appreciate the here and now" was most helpful to me.

I was also reminded of this article. 

These suggestions help keep things in perspective. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

TCM Noir Night--Elevator to the Gallows

Saturday night I watched Elevator to the Gallows--a film I recorded last year as part of TCM's Summer of Darkness film noir course.

Elevator to the Gallows has subtitles. I'm not anti-subtitles per se, but it means that I have to pay close attention.

Overall, I liked the film. I was originally going to describe it as a "What could go wrong?" plot. But the meticulously planned murder hinges on a rope climb outside an office building on a busy street in Paris in broad daylight. It's such a foolish move--it takes me out of the movie.Then the murderer leaves the rope hanging from the window after he makes his "getaway." His attempt to retrieve the rope leads to him being trapped in the elevator in the title.

A series of seemingly random acts follow that complicate and jeopardize the original plan.This is the part of the movie that I liked--the things that could go wrong.

I had a few other issues. Why did the accomplice wander the streets of Paris asking if anyone had seen the murderer? Isn't that suspicious?

There's a final twist that will take too long to describe in detail--there are enough spoilers in the post as it is. At the end of the film, the policeman tells the accomplice--a woman--that she will serve more time than the man who actually pulled the trigger. At this point, there's only circumstantial evidence against the woman. I'm no expert on French law, but that just didn't seem right--and more than a little sexist.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Week Working Out

It wasn't a good week for working out. I went to the gym twice and exercised twice at home. Actually that's pretty good for a not good week, especially when I didn't feel well one day and had other priorities another. I had to negotiate with myself to get to the gym today. I finally decided to do two sets of legs, two of chest, one of shoulders and four of abs, and skip cardio.

Today marks my 98th visit to the gym in 2016. That beats the year-end total of 97 for 2015. Barring some catastrophe, I'll make it to three figures this year. Maybe that's no great accomplishment: I should be at 150-200.

But a little improvement is something to build on.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Lola and Me

Jeff's away for the weekend. I was thinking that it was his first time away from Lola since she joined us on April 22. But no, I remembered that Lola spent six nights away from us in August. But this is Lola's and my first time alone together.

Unfortunately, Lola's been sick the last few days with digestive ailments. We took her to the vet yesterday who advised that she shouldn't go to the dog park for a few days.So I can't expect a wild weekend. Lola's also limited to a chicken and rice diet--and she ate the last of the homemade chicken broth for dinner.

The truth is that I want a quiet, productive weekend. I want to work on my ACT book (though I'm disappointed that I didn't get to it today.) I want to buy some gifts online, organize the gifts I've already purchased--maybe even wrap some.

Right now, Lola and I are snuggling and that works for me.

Mid-Week Get Together

Tuesday was my friend Elaine's birthday. It hasn't been a good year for Elaine. I thought it would be a good idea to go out with her and some friends. I had the idea over Thanksgiving weekend. Unfortunately, it fell off my radar. I only remembered the night before to contact people.

Six of us (including Jeff and me) joined Elaine for drinks and appetizers. We went out early to take advantage of happy hour. When Jeff and I returned home around 8:30, it felt as if it were 10 or 11 PM. Funny how early winter darkness messes with time perception.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Happy Repeal Day

I got an email from a local liquor store to celebrate repeal day, the end of prohibition. I didn't run out to the liquor store, but I did decide it was a good excuse to make a classic cocktail before dinner: a perfect Manhattan.


A Sunday in a Life

I was supposed to work in the morning, but my student canceled. Jeff went to visit his parents, and I decided to stay home. I had many things I wanted to do.

I got up around 7:30 thinking Lola wanted to go out. Instead she went back to bed with Jeff. I made coffee and wrote in my journal. Later  I made chicken orzo soup. I used some of my homemade chicken and vegetable broths. I sauteed some garlic, onion, peppers and carrots and put everything in the crockpot before I took Lola to the dog park. 

We got to the park around 11. Temperatures were only in the low 40's, but it was much nicer than I expected. Sun and wearing layers helped. I had hoped to run into two friends, but no luck there. We stayed at Taylor Farm for an hour.

I had lunch, added chicken and orzo to the crock pot, did some cleaning and exercised. I had gone to the gym four times last week; yesterday was a good time for yoga and stretching.

Jeff and I had a cup of chicken orzo soup as an appetizer. For dinner, I cooked duck breast, a sauce of blackberries, fruit juice and Grand Marnier, risotto (my latest obsession) with shallots, garlic, pepper and mushrooms. I added a salad of romaine, tomato, carrot and pepper.

After dinner, we watched The Big Lebowski and a few TV shows. I found myself dozing off again, went to bed at 11.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Thoughts on Christmas Shopping

I used to aspire to get all my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving. I hate the stress that comes with last minute shopping. Of course, that was before online shopping. I used to go to three or four area malls. There were more differences among the malls than there are now. I'd also try some smaller stores. One year I lucked out and got several unique items from a store in my home town.

We've been inundated with catalogs over the last few weeks. I've gone through most of them and saved pages of interest. Jeff has already made several online purchases.

So far, my purchases have been made in person: a few miscellaneous finds in brick and mortar stores and at craft fairs. 

This year's gifts will be a combination resulting from online research and lucky finds.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thoughts on NaBloPoMo

In five of seven Novembers I've been blogging, I've managed to post at least 30 blog entries. I'm too lazy to go back and check if I posted every day in those months. But I did check this morning and saw that I did post at least once every day this month. I wrote 36 posts in November--my second best posting month ever. Whoo-hoo.

For the most part the posting was easy. Once I committed to it, I found something to write about. I didn't sabotage myself by saying it had to be meaningful or that it had to be a certain length. But there were a few days when it was tougher to write something.

It should be easy for me to blog at least five times a week. I'll keep you posted.