Thursday, December 18, 2014

My sleep number

Eight. I get eight hours of sleep nearly every night. Some times it's an hour or so more. More often it's a couple hours less. But it averages out to eight hours per night over the course of a week, generally.

HOWEVER … my eight hours usually begins at 8-ish in the evening, meaning I'm wide awake at 4 a.m. And last night things really caught up with me and I went to sleep at 6. Right after dinner. Before the news. BEFORE JEOPARDY!

And I've been awake since 2 a.m.

On the bright side, I'm cooking spaghetti squash to freeze for future use, and the rinds will be ready to dispose of when the trash truck comes later this morning. I hate when discarded food remnants sit in a trash bag for a week. Early to rise means you get things DONE.

Next on my to-do list is to wrap all the Christmas presents. I have one more thing I need to make, a sewing project, and all the gifts are stacked up on the sewing table. Soooooo, first things first: Wrap, then cut fabric, then sew.

And then I think a nap might be in order. 

We were gone all day yesterday. I'd planned to walk when we got to our destination, but it was cold and rainy and I opted to sit in a waiting room knitting instead. But temperatures will be mild for the next week, and I should get three or four four-milers in over the next few days. I'm still trying to hit the 1000-mile mark for the year. 

But I really really really need to figure out how to make my day start at 6. Instead of 2.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Let the holidays be OVER. Please.

I seem to have absolutely NO self-control this year. Not only can I not resist others' temptations (I'll spare you the descriptive food porn, just insert treat of your choice here), I am even making (and eating) some decidedly NON-paleo food items using ingredients that cause severe pain.

I guess that makes me a masochist.

My previous post was all about eating crappy-for-me food because I was cold and needed comforting. Apparently the myth of comfort food has been busted by scientists, so there goes that rationalization!

I have NO excuse for going off the deep end now. The furnace is fixed, the house is warm, we didn't break the bank, the Christmas shopping is done, the out-of-town gifts are on their way. One project remains unfinished, but there's still plenty o'time before it gets delivered in person the weekend after Christmas.

Sooooo … if Life is so Good, why am I sabotaging myself and my success?

That's a good question, I'm glad I asked.

Because it's definitely something I need to figure out.

I've a feeling getting a handle on this is going to be a one-day-at-a-time project. Or even one hour at a time.

Maybe I should make it a rule to only eat off-plan when I'm walking. Walking hurts. A lot. And the correlation between eating grains and sugar and feeling pain is unmistakeable. Self-evident. Clearly a slap upside the head.

Or, in my case, a somewhat low blow to the right hip.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Insert title here

Because I'm all out of creative ideas for titles this morning.

We're attending an open house this afternoon, at which there will be food, of course. Not the best day to begin working on my personal infrastructure, now that our home infrastructure is back on track.

I will admit to some very not-good choices the past couple weeks, which have proven to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'm an emotional eater.

Not everyone believes that

I AM COLD = I MUST EAT CRAP

but apparently I do. (In case you're new here, our home heating system went out on Thanksgiving and wasn't replaced until December 11.) And I really, really, really paid for it yesterday.

I walked in the early afternoon (and listened to the next-to-last episode of Serial for the first two miles). The first three miles went well. I noticed a slight twinge of pain in my right hip, but that's been going on for a long time now, and I'm 63+ years old, and who doesn't experience slight aches and pains when they hit their 60s?

But it got worse and worse and worse during the last mile. I remember thinking at the 1/4-mile-to-go point that I wasn't sure if I could make it or not. My husband was with me and offered to go get the car, but I declined, gritted my teeth and kept putting one foot in front of the other until I made it.

I took a shower, thinking the warm water might help – it didn't – after which I took some Tylenol and then I took to my bed. I got up to fix dinner a couple hours later and went back to bed right after dinner and another Tylenol.

And I woke up 11 hours later, pain-free.

The crap food I've been eating (which is only crap for ME, mind you, you may eat whatever you like) included whole-wheat sandwich buns, oatmeal with brown sugar, and pasta. In other words, gluten and grains and sugar, oh my. I don't keep much crap food in the house, but the past couple weeks have been BRUTAL and COLD, and in order to comfort myself I NEEDED carbs.

Apparently.

But I realized limping home yesterday that comforting my psyche with crap food truly does hurt my body. And when my body hurts, my psyche does, as well.

So we'll go to the open house this afternoon, a time when I don't normally eat anyway. (I try to do a three meals/no snacks routine.) If there are high-protein options, I might have a bite. If not, I'll do my very-very-very best to remember how hard it was to make it that last quarter mile yesterday.

It wouldn't hurt to remember how good it felt to wear skinny black jeans last year, either.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Today's problem

It's lovely having heat.

Now if we could just have Internet access.

Perhaps that's asking for too much.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Today's the day!

If you've been following along recently, you know our heating system has been dead for two weeks. We've been limping along with a couple of space heaters. The inside temperature this morning hovered just slightly above 50°. It's 28° outside. I wouldn't want to be the crew who will be working outside and under my house. But I can't wait for them to show up! They should be here around 9 a.m.

I've done a lot of knitting the last several days. 

Pink Kitty is done (except for the eyes). Once I sew the eyes on all four of the knitted toys, that family's gifts will be finished and ready to wrap. We never know what they'll enjoy or what they might already have. The last time we visited we took school supplies, and the boys said, "But Mom already bought us school supplies." Which, of course, I knew she would have, and what we brought them were just little crafty things to add to their already ample supply of crayons and stickers and glue sticks.

At least they requested their handmade toys … and once they're delivered they're out of my hands and off my mind!

I started a fuzzy scarf for my son's daughter yesterday and am nearly finished with it. I found several shades of pink and purple "fur" fiber, and am striping it lengthwise. It's the first time I've ever made a scarf by casting on the length instead of the width, and I'm surprised at how quickly it's working up. All garter stitch, all the time, since you can't see any pattern when using this kind of yarn.

Despite the cold weather, I've been able to walk a couple days this week. Yesterday was impossible because of rain and ice, but I figure if I'm going to be cold anyway I might as well get some exercise. And I get warmed up by the end of the first mile. Hoping to get four miles in today.

There's an outside chance I'll be able to hit 1000 miles for this year. Not nearly what I'd hoped for at the beginning of the year, but pretty respectable, nonetheless. I need to average 2.5 miles/day for the remainder of December, which sounds doable, even taking a couple days off.

And now … I think I'll find yet another movie on Netflix and finish the fuzzy scarf. I'm pretty boring lately, I know. But I'd rather be boring and warmish, watching movies in my little knitting nest, than bitching about how freaking cold it is all the time.

You're welcome. Heh.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Down the home stretch

The good thing about having no heat (installation of the new system might begin tomorrow, and we're definitely on schedule for Thursday) is that I've had lots of time to knit. I park myself in my little chair in front of my little TV in my little den with my little space heater and knit, knit, knit my little fingers to the bone.

The pink kitty (mine is solid pink, not striped like the original) – the fourth of four gifts for one set of grandchildren – is nearly done. AND IT LOOKS LIKE A KITTY! I was having doubts during the process, as it's knit all in one piece and it wasn't looking very kitty-like there for a while.

Stuffing works wonders on a shapeless piece of fabric.

All that's left to knit is the front legs. Then I need to sew button eyes on all four toys and they're DONE. (The children are 4-1/2 and 6-1/2, so no chance of swallowing buttons.)

Next up is the pink-and-purple scarf for my younger granddaughter, and I've also found a hat pattern I want to make for my grandson, whose birthday is early in January. Along with a pair of fingerless gloves and some money, I think it will make a fine gift for a young man.

Knitters with time left before Christmas morning will always find a new project to work on. Good thing I'm not baking this year. Or maybe it would be a good thing to bake this year.

At least the oven would be on and the kitchen would be warm.er.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Being there

You can gracefully decline invitations to some events. There may be certain parties you'd rather not go to, some reunions that aren't so meaningful, date nights where you'd really rather be alone.

Your daughter's law school graduation ceremony?

You want to be there. Trust me.

My daughter, the lawyer.
She takes the bar in February.
She wasn't even sure she wanted to be there, but after all was said and done, after the processional and the speeches and the, well, the pomp and circumstance of it all, she was happy to have the memories.

And so were all of us who were with her.

She graduated third in her class, and was asked to stand for special recognition with the others in the top 10 percent.

She spent four years taking classes (and tests!) at a nontraditional law school, with classmates who, like her, worked during the day, had families and friends and responsibilities outside of school. Some major MAJOR life events happened during her years of study. Events that might have derailed a woman with less energy, determination and grit.

She's truly an inspiration and a role model, not just for her children, but for all of her family and friends.

I drive between seven and eight hours when I visit my daughter and her family. I go twice a year, in January and June, and in the past have always attended performances by her children. I'm going to miss both of the recitals this year – a law-school graduation trumps a winter dance concert, and my granddaughter's high-school graduation will happen one week before spring recital.

My grandchildren have assured me they'd rather have me here for graduations than for performances.

You can gracefully decline invitations to some events. 

But you really ought to be there for others.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Brrr

And the hits just keep on coming.

We knew we needed a new compressor for the heat pump. And we need a new furnace. Because the new compressor would be incompatible with the old unit, you see. (It's more complicated than that; you'll have to trust me. Something to do with refrigerant and the ozone layer and space travel.)

The entire deal is going to cost way more than we originally thought, but we are blessed. Rainy-day funds are there for times like these, right?

In the meantime, it's cold in here. I have a borrowed space heater blowing warmish air on me but it doesn't do much good in the large room in which my desk is located. It does a great job in the den, so I think that's where I'll spend most of my day. Knitting!

Red teddy bear is done (except for eyes – all the eyes for all the toys will be sewn on at the same time). I'm now working on a pink kitty for the youngest granddaughter, after which I'll start a pink-and-purple scarf for the next-to-youngest. A special request.

She (the next-to-youngest) is the easiest of all the grandchildren to find gifts for. She appreciates everything and has so many interests. She's willing to try new things and just oozes enthusiasm.

So, yeah, when she asks for a pink-and-purple scarf, it goes on the to-do list.

Before I do anything else today, though, I'm going to fire up the oven (just saying "fire up" makes me feel warmer!) and bake a paleo apple pie. It never got done for Thanksgiving. I guess the Universe knew I would need to FIRE UP the oven a week later.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Half-full

So with the heat problem we're experiencing here in Ye Old Middle of Nowhere, you'd think – nay, you'd expect – some grumbling, right? (See yesterday's post if you're not aware of our issue.)

But that hasn't happened. In fact, the most grumbling so far has been from me, listening to the furnace run constantly, in a futile effort to keep the air warm.

Yesterday I got tired of listening to myself and adjusted the thermostat downward until the fan stopped running. The inside temperature has remained at about 60° ever since. With wool slippers and layered clothing, we're not uncomfortable at all.

My mood almost instantly changed from mumbly-grumbly to A-OK.

Granted I went to bed early, because, um, blankets! But really? I've not found anything to complain about since that constant fan noise stopped.
  • We're fortunate to have the money to have paid for that weekend service call.
  • We plan to check on our homeowner's insurance, which could possibly cover part of the replacement expense.
  • If it doesn't, the emergency fund is ready and available to handle the cost of a new compressor.
  • We have a working oven, which did a masterful job yesterday. We were quite toasty filling our bellies with food which had slow-roasted all afternoon.
  • We have a working automobile. With a heater. Which we will use today to shop for another source of auxiliary heat.
What's the common thread in all those bulleted items?

Gratitude.

And along comes science (well, Google science, anyway) to prove that I'm a happier woman because I'm looking for and listing the things I'm thankful for.

I've been doing that fairly regularly for the past 24 years – having an attitude of gratitude is a benchmark of sobriety. I'm not perfect. I still gripe and moan, and I still have wishes and wants. But finding and recognizing what I do have helps me ignore the things I don't.

Pretty soon I'm going to mix up a batch of paleo pumpkin muffins. I'll pop them in my working oven and you can bet I'll be grateful when I eat them for breakfast!

What are you thankful for? And, especially in the face of trials and tribulations and challenges … what's on your gratitude list?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Even when it's unseasonably warm …

it's cold.

I came home from my trip to NC to find a broken heat pump. It's not 100 percent broken – the fan blows air – but after a very expensive weekend visit from a technician, we learned we need a new compressor. The original one has somehow become grounded, rendering it useless for warming the air coming into the house.

I know NOTHING about heat pumps, other than what I've learned from Google this weekend.

What I do know is that it will be several days before a new compressor can be installed, it's going to cost lots o'bucks, and it's cold. Even the slightly warmer-than-normal outdoor temperatures aren't warm.

So we're wearing wool socks and multiple layers and huddling in the TV room with the door closed and a space heater running full-blast.

Our next electric bill will be astronomical.

The Emergency Heat setting on the heat pump doesn't provide any heat, again because of the compressor. I think. Without that critical component, we're stuck with the unit sucking outside air in and pushing it, barely warmed, throughout the house.

I'll be using the oven today. Roasting a turkey, since my husband stayed home for the holiday and he likes turkey and I picked up a fresh one that needs to be roasted. I'll probably make crackers and pumpkin muffins, too. And I'll roast a mixture of beets, sweet potatoes and carrots, using this recipe (but not as many vegetables) for a side dish with our turkey.

I should probably bake a pie, too. Just to keep the oven going.

I might be tempting fate, though. It would be just our luck for the oven to break during the bake-a-thon.

•••

For Denise and Gingerzingi, who have been commenting about the Ferguson issue, I haven't read the testimony yet. I have read some commentary about the case, and my conclusion is that the prosecutor should have recused himself (due to his close ties with law enforcement and being chairman of the board of a group that raised $400K for Wilson's defense), and a special prosecutor should have been appointed.

Something about the whole thing smells funny.

•••

Finally, if you haven't started listening to the podcast Serial, you're missing something unique and fascinating. I got all caught up on my trip and can't wait for the next episode.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

As you gather together

Whether you'll be spending your Thanksgiving with friends, family or all alone (which is sometimes a delicious option), I hope your heart is filled with gratitude for your blessings, great or small.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When I feel as I do this morning …

it's probably better to keep my thoughts to myself.

But THAT ain't happening! Heh.

I expected there would be no indictment against the Ferguson police officer who killed Michael Brown. I haven't looked at the evidence, and I didn't hear the witnesses. I can't say whether the grand jury decision is good or bad. It just is.

What I'm left with – and what I started with, once the facts began to come out – is why that officer had to kill that child. Why was deadly force necessary?

I'll grant you that the young man wasn't a fine, upstanding citizen. He wasn't helping the Little Sisters of the Poor. He'd just shoplifted cigars (and not even especially good ones) from a convenience store. He apparently tussled with the officer. He was a big guy, while the officer was of average build.

But who are we, when it's acceptable to kill someone for shoplifting?

Yes, that's simplifying it. But to me, that's the essence of it.

My opinion – and I'm entitled to it – is that the officer overreacted in the worst possible way. A dozen shots weren't necessary. Gunshot wounds are largely survivable if they don't penetrate the head or the heart. Disabling the criminal would have been sufficient.

That child didn't have to die.

I'm not a law enforcement professional. I've shot a gun, but only in target practice, not in a dangerous situation. The only thing I can do with this is accept that the officer felt his life was threatened and he reacted instinctively.

That's tough for me to do. We don't kill shoplifters.

But in this case, I guess we do.