Barriers, Sore Muscles, & Reflections at 45

This past weekend, the hubby and I installed a wire barrier in the Subaru between the back seat and the hatchback. Normally people do this to keep their dogs in the hatch, but my dogs ride in the backseat (I mean, that’s where the windows are, right?).

The thing is, just before Christmas, Athena-dog decided to eat a chocolate cookie while we were out grocery shopping. She climbed over the back seat and into the hatch to get to it while we were inside our last grocery store of the day.

Then the next week, I put most everything into a zip-top cooler, but left my bags from the bread store out (because it’s bread…not much of an enticing smell, or so you’d think). she ate an entire package of english muffins that day.

The week after that, I put everything into a sturdy zipper thermo-bag, and when I came out of the last store, I found a burly, tattooed guy in a big red truck towing a compressor sitting there in the parking lot, laughing at Athena as she ate her way through the top third of a beef liver container (it was half-frozen, thank goodness). He had a great time, she had a great time, and the dogs had slightly less liver in the batch of food I made that week.

So, we installed a barrier to keep the groceries safe from my little perpetually-hungry boxer. And it works great! The groceries are safe, Athena-dog only pouted a little bit, and I don’t have to worry about catching a dog before she can run as I open the hatch to put more groceries in. Win-win for me!

However. I am so, so very out of shape – something I didn’t realize until the day after kneeling/squatting in the back of the car for 30 minutes to install that wonderful piece of equipment. I tell you what – my butt, the backs of my thighs and my inner thighs were all in *so much pain*, they were just burning up. Walking hurt, sitting hurt, standing hurt…I haven’t been in that much pain in a long, long time. Even my back and knees got in on the “let’s remind Jamie she’s not getting any younger” bandwagon.


Yesterday was only slightly better. I did yoga, but it was the slowest I’ve ever done, and it hurt like hell stretching those poor, sore mustles out enough so I could make it back up the stairs. I tried not to sit for too long of time periods at work, but my inner thighs (abductors? Adductors? I can’t remember) are still painfully sore and hurt whenever I sit down or stand up. Or walk, to an extent.

My back, ankles and knees still aren’t happy either. Part of the back/shoulder/neck issues is all the crocheting I’ve been doing to get that shawl done…but I should be able to do that without hurting. And I would be, if I were staying in shape in the first place. *sigh*

I used to recover from such things far more quickly, but alas, I think I still have a day or two to go until I can comfortably sit down/stand up. It was a stark reminder of how out-of-shape I’ve allowed myself to get, and also how much longer it takes to recover now that I’m right at my mid-forties.

Yes, I turn 45 on Friday, and I know people in their 60’s who are in better shape than I am. So…I really need to do something about that, especially since we’re headed back to Universal Studios and Disney World in Orlando this coming fall. I see new, more intense workouts in my immediate future. You know. After it doesn’t hurt to move again.

I’ve been thinking a lot as I approach what is probably close to the midpoint of my life, about the life I’ve lived so far, and the choices I’ve made. I don’t regret anything, really – I’ve found regrets are pointless for the most part. I do wish I could believe in reincarnation or some such philosphy of infinite do-overs. Not because I think I *should* have done things differently, but I so wish life could be like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure novels. I think it would be fun to be able to go through life, making the choices you make, and then at the end, be able to start over again from the beginning and make just a few different choices, to see what that life is like, and then do it over again to see what *that* reality is like…don’t you think that would be fascinating, especially if you could remember it all?

I like the life I’ve built, but I’m also constantly wondering “what if?”, and I think it would be fun to be able to explore all of those possibilities. Alas, it’s not to be, but perhaps that’s why I’m a writer, eh? To explore all sorts of different lives without getting into too much trouble, hurting too many people, or getting thrown into prison (*ahem*).

What’s one choice you made a long time ago that you’d like to know how it would have turned out if you’d chosen differently? Or do you already know how it would have turned out, and would just like to go back and…do that, for the experience? Inquiring minds…

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Good News, Bad News

It’s crazy how much can happen in a week, isn’t it? More good news than bad, though, which is how it should be, methinks.

Good News: My new glasses came in last Tuesday, and I picked them up right away. I’m kind of missing the old bi-focals, because there was a clear demarcation of where the reading lens was vs. the rest of the correction, so it was easy to know where to direct your eyes. Now, I just have this sort of fuzzy area in between that won’t correct either way, and that does kind of drive me a little nuts. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, and I’m happy to have the stronger reading part (that does make a huge difference), even if it is kind of small, but it’s going to take a little more time.

Bad News: I think I mentioned that I missed budgeting the week before last due to poor planning on my part…and I definitely paid for that (no pun intended) last week. It was a very expensive mistake – one that I really couldn’t afford. So now, more unnecessary expenditures have to be temporarily dropped until I can make up the difference. Sucks, but this is a lesson I *will* learn, no matter how long I need to struggle with it.

Good News: Needless to say, I did get my transaction log downloaded early this past Friday, did my budgeting for the paycheck that should hit my account today, and as long as I’m careful and stick strictly to the budget, I’ll stay in the black. No finger-crossing necessary, just discipline.

I had Thursday and Friday off work last week – Thursday was my birthday, and I kept it all to myself. Friday was just for fun. My weekend was pretty low-key…household stuff, more new routines put into place (some money-saving), and I was more careful than normal with my time, so I got stuff done and didn’t have to rush about it. I am really going to strive to do that more often going forward. Weekends are so much nicer when they aren’t spent rushing to get everything done.

Yesterday wasn’t a vacation day, but a federal holiday, so I spent it writing and knitting. And playing a little, but I did limit close screen time because…

Bad News: I realized something a little depressing during the time I had off, which is that once again, I’m straining my eyes with all the “extracurricular screen time”. Mostly, playing games on my cell. *sigh* My eyes have been incredibly dry lately, and part of that is the extra heat running plus the cold air when we’re out walking, but part of that is my propensity for playing games in the evenings (Pokemon Go & Animal Crossing) rather than just watching TV and crocheting/knitting (or playing a game on the TV screen, which is far less taxing on the eyes than playing on my cell). The switch screen is bigger, and doesn’t seem to bother as much, but Pokemon Let’s Go is still engaging enough that I’ll sit there and stare and *not blink*, which is the killer.

So…along with breaks every hour or so, I also need to build in a few hours in the evening where I’m not visually focusing as hard. I’m using my Neo to write, which is a non-backlit screen with big letters, so that works well, and I’ll just have to make sure to put my cell down after we get back from walking and do something else while I’m watching TV (if not playing big-screen games).

Good News: My weight is slowly (oh, so slowly) dropping with the extra workout time I have with the new morning routine. I have time for weight lifting along with yoga four times per week (Mon/Weds/Thurs/Fri), and adding weight lifting in there has made a big difference. So hooray for that! I’ve lost around 9lbs since last August, and would like to lose another ten or so. We’ll see if the downward trend continues, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

Finally, I am a very small stack of comic books away from being completely caught up on my Harley Quinn backlog. Once that’s done, I only have a smallish stack of Amazing Spider-Man comics to get through, and I will finally be completely caught up with all my comic book series. *And* I got a gift certificate to the comic shop for my birthday, so…I see a restocking trip in my near future.

This week will be short, busy, and end in a haircut, which I really, really need.

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Odds ‘n Ends

Yesterday, I turned 41. It was a rather uneventful day, really…and I spent most of it trying to decide whether to get my normal Sunday chores done then, or put them off until today (since it’s a federal holiday, I have today off work). Needless to say, I put most of them off (except for what really had to be done, like laundry since my hubby has to work today), but I didn’t really do anything else either, so…I kind of squandered my “free time”. It’s almost better when my birthday falls on a weekday, because I always take the day off, which means I don’t have anything that has to be done so I can just do whatever without guilt.

In any case, it will only take me a couple of hours to get my chores done today, so I’ll still have plenty of time today for reading & writing. I won’t have time to binge-read an entire novel like I was planning (not if I still want time to write, anyway), but I have a (smallish) stack of comic books waiting, including the latest Harley Quinn and I Hate Fairyland issues. That’ll be a nice segue between cleaning & writing, methinks.

As far as drafts go, I’m currently working on Donteneoux’s Dragon, a medieval/steampunkish sort of fantasy/sci-fi story. It’s not nearly so convoluted as it sounds, but I’m not sure how else to describe it, since it will *seem* fantastical to the reader but there is no magic involved, and all will be explained logically…eventually. It’s got me intrigued, even though work on it has been slow, but I’m enjoying discovering the story as I go.

The second draft I’m working on is a still title-less short origin story/myth to complement my first young adult adventure story that will hopefully be coming out this spring. There will be several novels in that series, and I plan to write an origin story for each of them, to be sent out with quarterly newsletters throughout the year. I think it will be fun, and also add a little more depth to the main stories as they come out.

Hopefully, I’ll get a little work done on each today, to start the week off right.

In other news, this Wednesday Lucy-dog goes in to get her ear amputated to remove that monster-tumor and to have a lump just behind it removed. Whether or not that’s the “right call” is anyone’s guess, especially since my husband and I both thought we felt more swelling on the side of her throat this weekend. But, we’ll see, I guess. I’ll drop her off at 7:30am with food, insulin, syringes & care instructions, and hopefully they’ll give her back in somewhat better(?) shape around 48 hours later. Luckily work’s been busy lately, so I should have plenty of distractions on Weds/Thurs. And there are certain projects I need to get done so I can take this Friday, as well as the following Mon/Tues off to make sure she doesn’t pull out her stitches, and to monitor her blood sugar with the meds she’ll be on.

Fun times, I tell ya.

Now, I should probably get my butt in gear and get to work – time’s a-wastin’! Right after I make another cup of tea and maybe eat a leftover piece of angel food cake…

On Age, Tattoos, & Pens…

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day (which is why I’m not at the day job, but rather at home on this fine Monday)!

In any case, if you’re connected with me elsewhere online, you probably already know that my 40th birthday was this past Saturday. Yay leftover cake for breakfast! I have no idea how 40 is supposed to feel, honestly, but I can’t say I feel any different than I felt turning 39. And I dare say I’ll feel the same about 41. Age just really isn’t a big thing with me, though I’ll probably be a bit nervous about 50, but only because the week before I turn 50 is when my genetic “switch” for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma is most likely to trigger. Both my paternal grandmother and my dad had that very thing happen, one week before they turned 50 with a big lump appearing on their neck. So if I seem slightly obsessive about self-care (avoiding chemicals, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, etc) off and on for the next decade or so, that’s partially why.

One of my gifts to myself this year was this lovely tattoo, based on my Brazen Snake Books logo, drawn and executed by local artist Andrew Hauck of Ghosts of Grace Tattoo Collective:


That would be the outside of my right lower leg you’re seeing there, just this morning. A little swollen underneath at the ankle, but it’s healing well! Pepe le pew is just on the other side of my ankle down near the quill. Love my Pepe..

It had been 15 years or so since I’d gotten my last tattoo, largely because my husband is not overly fond of them. So I quit when we started seriously seeing each other (no, he didn’t ask me to – sometimes you just do things to make the other person happy in a relationship, because you love them). But the thing about tattoos is, once they get in your blood (so to speak) it’s almost a compulsion to get another one. And another, and another…like chips. Ask anyone with a tattoo, and they’ll tell you. I’ll bet around 98 percent of people with one tattoo either want another one, or have at least thought about it.

A few years ago, my hubby started encouraging me to get another one if I wanted to. I waited, partially to be sure he was really okay with it, and partially due to changing goals (and thus changing plans for placement). I finally decided my birthday was just as good a reason to celebrate with new ink as any, and that’s that. I have a couple of old (around 22 yrs or so old) tattoos on my shoulder that Andrew is going to do a cover for later this spring. I’m very much looking forward to that – much as those tats had/have meaning to me, the new one will better reflect my philosophies now. Even better, I won’t have to translate it constantly, so I’ll be able to wear tank tops again. Trust me…if you’re going to get words of some sort tattooed on your body, get them in English (or whatever your country’s main language is), so people can read it for themselves. Translating gets really old, really fast.

I know some of you are thinking this whole tattoo thing doesn’t fit with the whole “obsessed with self-care” thing…and you’d be right. But we all have vices that we cling to even though we know they could be bad for us…and tattoos are mine. I’ll let you be the judge of whether it’s better or worse than drinking/smoking/whatever else you can think of. Just…keep it to yourself, ’cause I really don’t care. 😉

In other ink-related news, did you read my buddy Carol’s blog last week: On Pens..? You know that friend she talked about who threw away a passel of pens without even checking to see if they worked?

Yeah. That was me. Last summer when I was dredging out our basement while my hubby was out of town, I tossed several plastic grocery-bags full of pens that he’d been “collecting” since before we’d even started dating (probably). You have to understand – it’s not like they had any special meaning, and I did pull out any that had interesting shapes or illustrations or functions. But he grabs pens like candy, at banks, stores, off people’s desks, trade shows…and there were way more pens than we’d ever use before the ink dried up. It’s crazy to give that much space to something that’s just…well, taking up space!

Part of being organized is picking and choosing what you’ll devote space to – and I say unless they have special meaning or are actually in use, there’s no need to keep more than…say, a small check-box full of pens at a time. Anything else is just wasted space, IMO – especially these days, when most everything we do is digital!

Now, time to go send a nag email, and then move on with today’s rather extensive to-do list. That’s what happens when you end up with a long weekend – “stuff” expands to fill the extra space!

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On Birthdays, Cold Temps & Hole-y T-Shirts…

I have one sister – younger than me by two years and ten months (she still gets mad when I round it up to three years). She’s one of those strange women who doesn’t like other people knowing her age (I really don’t think I’ll ever understand that), but I’ll be 40 this coming January, and her birthday is this coming Saturday. It’s not my fault if y’all know how to do math…

My dad’s birthday is also this week – and while I suppose I could make you do that math on that too, he won’t mind my telling you that he’ll be 63 on Tuesday – Veteran’s Day.

What does this mean for me (besides two slightly older family members)? An early Chinese dinner on Tuesday (it’s a federal holiday, so I’m off work), and chicken enchiladas at noon on Saturday.

Tuesday, of course, is supposed to be pretty cold (it’s snowing as I write this on Sunday night), with a forecast high of 9 and a low of 2. I was kind of happy I didn’t have to go to work, and when I subtly mentioned to my mom it was supposed to be that cold, I was not-so-subtly reminded that she still had to go to work that day (paybacks – she’s a middle school librarian, and I’m constantly reminding her that I have to work when she’s off on spring break or Christmas break or summer break or whatever). The implication being, of course, that I should buck up and get my butt off my cozy couch and out to Dad’s birthday dinner regardless of the weather. And I will, obviously.

If we could actually use the weather as an excuse not to do stuff up here, nothing would get done for at least a few months of every year. Still, can’t blame a girl for trying.


In other, sad news, several of my beloved t-shirts are starting to fall apart. Literally. Like, there are holes in them. I mean, it shouldn’t surprise me, considering I’ve had many of them since…um…actually, I think the one I’m wearing now I got in high school. Or college. My parents brought it back for me after a trip to Glacier National Park (pictured above). It’s incredibly comfy as only t-shirts that have been well broken-in are. *sigh* But it also has holes in the armpits and a few in other places as well – the sleeve, for one, and another near the hem.

A sadder one is my Super Novelist NaNo shirt from 2004 (10 yrs ago! – also pictured), which is getting holes around the front “superman” style logo, as well as other holes here and there. Dang it. I may cut out the logo portion of that one to keep. I really love that shirt…

In any case, I bought a dog rope toy at a craft fair this summer that is basically just a braid of old cotton knit material. And my aging t-shirts are…old cotton knit material. There are ways you can cut old t-shirts so they make one continuous strip of fabric, that can then be used to do whatever with….such as braiding into dog pulls, or crocheting into rugs and bags and such. Methinks maybe it’s time to retire some of these old shirts and give them a new life as something else…

But not until I get caught up with my NaNo novel. I’m way, way behind, and my plans to write Sunday didn’t ever really pan out, so…here’s hoping Tuesday will be my lucky day for lots of words.

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