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Variety News: June 21, 2021

On My Mind
Last week, I had a goal to make an eye doctor appointment on Monday. I haven’t managed to get it done yet, so that’s how last week went. I did manage to get my hair into a french braid though, which is a game-changer when it comes to this next phase of the grow-out period.

I really need to get the eye appointment made though, and an appointment for Athena to get a broken tooth taken out too. Those are top of the list this week. Why are the simplest goals sometimes the hardest to complete?

Making
We didn’t “make” it so much as put it back together, but our patio swing is usable again! We took it apart this spring to paint and re-cover, and finally got it back together this weekend. It’s so nice having a place to sit and watch the dogs in the yard. Slowly but surely, things are coming together back there.

Growing
Last weekend, we finally added some annuals to the pots out front for a bit more color while our new plants grow in. Oranges, yellows and purples are the “it” colors this year, and while they’re kind of sparse at the moment, I think they’ll look very bright and cheerful once they mature.

Eating
The best thing I ate last week was a thick bone-in pork chop with fresh spinach penne on the side. I try to eat local whenever I can, and everything in that meal except the mushrooms were locally grown/made. And it was all *delish*. The perfect end to a very busy week.

The Thin Mint Blizzard from Dairy Queen mid-week wasn’t all that bad either…just sayin’.

Bling & Things
I mentioned I can get my hair in a French braid now, and one of my favorite hair accessories at the moment is a bow barrette with a small snood attached. I got a pack of 6 in different colors from Amazon, and they are the *perfect* accessory for that hairstyle for work. The satin bow is elegant and classy, and the snood keeps the short, unkempt ends all tucked up and neat.

I also keep forgetting that I have some fancy bobby pins I could use to keep the straggly side hairs up. I’ve just been using regular bobby pins (from Lilla Rose – they are the *best*, hands down…very strong hold) and trying to keep them hidden under hair sections, but there’s no reason I couldn’t use something with a fancy flower/bow on on the end, or pearls along the length just for a little extra “pop”, right?

Post Round-up
The Writer’s Desk – My notes on writing and progress reports (last updated Sat, 6/19/21)


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Variety News, June 14, 2021

On My Mind
It’s been a very weird week. Seems like everyday, something odd happened, either out of order, or out of place, or something that threw me off my game. I had one ultra-productive day wherein I followed my list, got nearly everything on it done, and felt really good when it was all over.

One.

I want more of those days. More days when I get up, get busy, and random stuff doesn’t happen to derail my whole plan. I know it’s not practical to expect because “life is change”, but that’s what would really make me happy long-term. Maybe this week I can get two really productive days? One can only hope.

Growing
Last weekend, hubby filled the second raised bed in the backyard, and I went to my mom’s to pick up strawberry and cucumber plants, and to my sister’s to dig some rhubarb plants she didn’t want anymore. Planted them all up, and they’re already growing! It looks like we’ll have some strawberries already this year – yum! We have baby cherry tomatoes too. I don’t love the heat, but our tomato plants sure do.

Eating
I splurged on a small pack of fresh sugar-snap peas last week, and you know what? They really are the perfect snack. Sweet and crunchy, I grab one nearly every time I open the fridge (so no, there aren’t any left for salads). They go perfectly with carrot slices.

No, I’m not being sarcastic. Try it. Get a bowl of sugar snap peas and carrot slices, and see if that doesn’t completely hit the spot on a hot summer day. Bliss!

Bling & Things
I got a great pair of earrings this week. They’re made of a dark, African hardwood, with abalone inlays shaped like question marks (pics on my Instagram feed). They’re big and bold and on the day I wore them, I really needed a pick-me-up, and all day I was just happy seeing those earrings dangling by my neck. It’s amazing how a good piece of jewelry can make your whole day better.

Post Round-Up (news on other things in my sphere)
The Writer’s Desk – My notes on writing and progress reports (last updated Sat, 6/12/21)


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Beauty, Patience, & Dog Food

This past weekend as I was working in the yard and exposing my oh-so-pasty legs to the sun for the first time since last summer, I thought about beauty, and the patience it often requires. Effort too, to a certain extent, but while I trimmed the rose bushes and maple saplings and cleared away last year’s weeds, it occurred to me that while in that moment it felt like a lot of effort to facilitate growth and eventual beauty, the effort on my part wasn’t actually necessary.

The thing is, despite the dead leaves and weeds and dead grasses, the roses were budding out (and in one case, growing new canes under the weeds), the trees were budding out, and geraniums were pushing up through the dead leaves. Nature really does “find a way”, no matter what we do for (or to) it. And even weeds can be beautiful if we’re not trying to keep them from strangling our favorite “domestic” plant or tree.

Beauty is a very subjective thing, of course. We used to have an apple tree in the backyard that I absolutely adored. Every spring, it would bloom with these huge clusters of single pink flowers that filled the yard with a divine scent – especially at night. It provided shade and privacy for the yard, and the apples it produced were small and tart and perfect for just eating or making all sorts of fun treats with. I found great joy in just watching the flowers in spring, picking the apples in the fall, and having shade from the hot afternoon sun.

My husband, on the other hand, hated that tree. The sprawling branches that I found intriguing and interesting just got in his way while he was trying to mow, the fallen apples made a mess all over the lawn and attracted yellow jackets, and the leaves were just one more thing that had to be cleaned up in the fall (along with any leftover apples).

Needless to say, the tree needed to be trimmed, and when we decided to replace the back fence it was growing by, hubby happily said the tree had to go. They could have worked around it, I think, but I knew hubby would never be happy with that tree in the yard, so I agreed to let it go.

Yes, I miss it. One day hopefully our maple trees will be as tall and provide their own kind of beauty to the back yard (without annoying the hubby). Will we put effort into supporting them with water and nutrients and pruning? Absolutely. But they’re tough, and I’m fairly certain that without any interference from us, they’d still leaf out and be beautiful every summer. It’s just the destiny of a tree. Or a rose bush, as it were.

In other, completely different news, I’m on the hunt for new dog food again. For the second time, a favorite dog food brand made in Canada has set up a plant somewhere in the southern US, and I hate to say this, but even though the ingredients list doesn’t change, the quality of the food goes way, way down when that happens. Murphy and Mica are both having problems with the food they’ve been on for several years now, so it’s time to find new foods for them both.

This sounds like it should be an easy task, but my dogs are never *that* easy. Murphy needs fish, and lots of it for the anti-inflammatory properties of the omega-3 oils. Too little omega-3’s, and he’s gimping around like he’s 80yrs old, due to the self-inflicted damage and resulting arthritis on his right front foreleg. Good omega-3’s, and he’s hopping around like a puppy. Magic.

Yes, we can supplement, but it’s a tough balance without a predominantly fish-based food to start with (too much fat alone is just as bad as not enough). There are few foods out there based solely on fish, and none raw that I could tell, so we’re going to try a dehydrated human-grade food instead. Hopefully that will work, otherwise it’ll be back to reading a million dog food labels again. Oh goodie! Said no one ever.

I’m going to try a dehydrated food for Mica too, though he’s hard to find food for too, because he’s allergic to pretty much any grain and…yes, he’s allergic to fish, too. Trying to find a kibble without added fish oil is next to impossible. The food he’s on right now used to be fish-free, but they added herring oil awhile back. He can tolerate it, but it’s pretty obviously not optimal for him. He’s an odd dog in that he doesn’t do well with raw feeding either (tried that back when I was making Lucy’s food from scratch), so raw is out too. I’ve considered cooking for him, but it’s a big time commitment (which is why I stopped making raw food…though I regret that, which is another story for another time).

I have to order the fish-based food in specially…our local pet shop carries The Honest Kitchen dehydrated line, but not that particular food. She’ll order it if I ask her too, but I want to have Murphy try it first, to make sure he’ll do okay with it. I got a box of a limited beef-based/grain free version for Mica to try, and gave some to both dogs last night with no ill effects, so I’m optimistic, but you just never know.

It’s expensive, but health always is, it seems. I haven’t always been able to afford specialized diets, and I did the best I could (especially with Lucy’s very specialized needs). That’s all any of us can really do. But I do feel like I need to make the best choice I can at the time, which generally involves a lot of label-reading and googling and gnashing of teeth until I find something that “might” work. And then there’s testing, and trying again, and maybe trying something different….

Crazy process, that, but if I’m patient *and* put in a lot of effort, I should be rewarded with beautiful dogs in good health for however many years they have left (too few, at this point).

Except they’re already beautiful, without any effort *or* patience on my part. Which is exactly as it should be.

What kind of beauty have you noticed recently? Did you put any effort into it, or was it just…there?

Recalibration, Spring, and Dreaming

I don’t know if this works the same way for everyone, but every time I make a plan, I end up being surprised at how much longer things take than I expect them to. Occasionally I’m surprised the other way, but for the most part, I think I’ll be able to fit more in than I actually am. Which is why I’m constantly recalibrating.

It’s kind of annoying, honestly.

Of course there are always those tasks that take longer initially, and then I get more efficient the more I do them, so I can shave the time down some. And I hate to say it (because I hate sounding like a whiner), but a lot of the time my “allotted time” gets encroached on either by my own laziness, or the dogs, or other humans/plans going on around me that I have to be flexible for. That annoys me too – mostly when I have a nice routine going and finally have all the things in a time slot perfected to fit there, and then…the routine has to change. And that just blows my fragile little mind for some reason. I don’t know why I can’t just adjust and recalibrate to keep moving forward “on the fly” so to speak, but I can’t. My mind needs time to process the new order of things, and re-do my routines, and then settle in again and then…usually something happens to change it again.

I wish magnesium (or any of the other supplements I take or could take) would fix that too, but unfortunately, it’s more a personality trait than a physical thing. There isn’t any “fix” for personality quirks.

So then I try to “proof” my routines by building in extra time, and that never really works either, so…I just muddle through knowing that I could be so much more productive than I actually am if only I could get into a daily routine and not have anyone change it on me for a good solid six months or more.

Yes, I know. That sounds horribly boring to most of you, but it’s heaven to me (and others like me).

In any case, I don’t have a “meal budget” this week due to routines being thrown out of whack this past weekend, I let my workouts get sidelined for most of last week, and I had to spend “business hours” (ie, 10:45pm – 11:45pm) working on the new book cover/uploading instead of the tasks I wanted to, because time is finite and that had to be done on deadline. I’m trying to just roll with it. I got a quick workout in last night, I’ll try to do a menu plan tonight and I started getting back on track with the business plan last night since the book is all done/uploaded/ready to go, but it still niggles in my head that I lost all that time.

In other news, the garden is waking up, and I love going around and checking out which plants have buds on them, what made it, what didn’t, and seeing all the potential for the beauty that is to come. Both of our maple trees have buds (thought we lost the little one!), all of my rose bushes have green on the lower canes and buds on the stems, and a couple rhubarb plants that I thought for sure were goners because I left them in a big pot on the patio last year are coming up as if winter never happened, which is pretty amazing for our climate (things don’t tend to overwinter well…or at all, in pots here). I’m getting the itch to go out with a rake and clean things up, and then get started on all the “beautification plans” we have for this year. Even if we only get a fraction done, it’s going to look so much better and be so much nicer than it is now…I can’t wait to see what it looks like by the end of summer.

We went out looking for a mailbox last Saturday, but not just any mailbox. We wanted a large, nice-looking, sturdy metal mailbox, with some decorative elements to it (ie, not a big box store “box”, so to speak), so we drove out to a specialty shop on the frontage road. Unfortunately, said shop has closed up business and is waiting for liquidation auction scheduled for early May. We decided to wait and we might go out to the auction and see if we can get a nice mailbox and a patio set, if there are any up for grabs. It’s really too bad we didn’t go sooner. But who knew they’d go out of business? It happens so fast, and always makes me wonder what happened.

The other thing that made me wonder recently was running over two things as I was pulling into my parking spot for work yesterday morning: a nail brush attached to a lid, and a polish bottle. The lid/brush actually fared far better than the bottle, so I can tell you the polish was black.

Things that make you go “hmmm….”

 

On New Audio, Maple Trees & Blind Dogs…

For those of you who like/prefer audiobooks, I’m happy to announce that MacKenzie Saves the World is now available in audio! You could grab a copy on Audible at the regular price, or…you could comment on this post (here, FB, twitter, wherever), and I’ll gift you a copy for free. It’s a comic-shop themed contemporary romance (hence the title and cover), and I found it both incredibly difficult and personally satisfying to write.

In other news, my husband and I spent a good chunk of our weekend planting new trees, and doing yardwork/cleaning up our patio. Last November, we had some crazy freeze-thaw cycles that knocked half the trees/shrubs in the whole city out or back several years, and two of the three baby trees we planted didn’t survive. The lone survivor was a maple tree I didn’t even order, but just got for free with the other two.

So when I found some nice, bigger maple saplings while shopping at one of the local hardware stores, hubby and I decided maples were the way to go. We both love them, and they’re pretty hardy/fast growing, so we planted both an Amur maple and a Crimson King (Norway) maple. Hopefully within a couple of years they’ll provide good shade for our west-facing backyard and patio so they’ll be usable in the summer again. Our shade grass might pop back again too – the sun is just too, too hot back there right now!

As for the rest, we have a few landscaping projects on the go for this year, just to make the yard and patio nicer, but we also had to start getting the patio cleaned up and rearranging some things due to the Lucy-dog suddenly going blind last week.

She was fine Sunday/Monday, and by Tuesday, she could barely see. By this past Saturday, she was running into things, missing stairs and getting lost in the yard. I’m taking her to the vet Tuesday morning to see if there’s an underlying cause, or if there’s anything we can do for her, but I think we have to realistically expect that this is a permanent condition. So we’ve been trying to make things safer for her, one thing at a time (because every little change is very disorienting for her now), and working with her to learn where things are as well as new commands to help her navigate things like stairs and new obstacles.

She has some other symptoms that possibly indicate either Cushings disease or diabetes. Personally, if it’s one or the other, I’d rather deal with Cushings. Lucy already has Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), which means her body doesn’t make the enzymes needed to digest food. So I pre-treat/pre-mix her food, feed her three times a day, and supplement her with B12 and a few other things that help her get nutrients from her food. I’m constantly watching how she looks & acts to see if adjustments are necessary. It took me a good 6 -8 months just to figure out how to feed her when she was first diagnosed, because these dogs all respond differently to the different nutrient profiles of foods (for instance, Lucy does better on higher animal fats, and doesn’t do well on lean meats, so beef is important, and at least some raw is vital for her). Of course she can’t digest anything that hasn’t been treated with enzymes, so we have to be careful with between-meal treats (and she’s luckier than other EPI dogs in that she can handle some treats okay).

Lucy’s 8 years old, which is considered a senior dog, but she’s still very active and incredibly smart – she doesn’t act old at all (German Shepherd/Lab mix). I’m sure she’ll adjust to the blindness eventually (and so will we), and we’ll just have to see what the vet says about the rest. I’m doing my best not to worry too much about the diagnosis (and hoping it’s neither of the two most likely), but it’s easier said than done. And then there’s the whole issue of getting a newly-blind 95lb dog into a car, out of a car, into a “strange” building, and back home again after fasting for 12 hours (which is incredibly hard both physically and mentally on a dog who quite literally starves without the correct food at routine intervals).

It’s going to be an interesting week…


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