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Kitchen Organization & Irony

If I were to sum up this past weekend in one word, it would be: “whew”. I’m tired. I was almost happy to be back at work today, except my muscles had more time to try to stiffen up as I sat at my desk. I used quite a few this weekend that I haven’t used in quite a long time. A couple trips up the stairs and back down plus morning yoga seemed to keep the stiffness down a bit though.

Saturday I had a good time book shopping with a friend met on Facebook, and then the work began. We loaded up our two couches, took ’em out to the dump, and then it was off to the furniture store to pick up our new sectional. Back to the house, I vacuumed while hubby freed the new furniture from its packaging, and then we hauled everything in, put it together, and man…it’s a very nice sectional. Not too big, looks great, plenty of room for me and both dogs, and room enough for the rare guest too.

Hubby took a shower and headed out for a night with his brother, and I set out to clean off/out the refrigerator for our next project: fixing a leak in the water line that popped up and ruined the kitchen floor a week and a half ago. I cleaned off old appliances and such that had been living on top the fridge – just tossed ’em, since I don’t need them or they didn’t work any longer. Dusted, took off the magnets, cleaned all the old food out, and…decided to go ahead and replace the water inlet valve, which we suspected was the leaking culprit. I was on a roll…didn’t feel like waiting for hubby to help on Sunday.

I replaced the valve, turned the water back on, and…turned out there was a pinhole leak in the water line. Dammit. Taped up the leak, pushed the fridge back, and called it good for the night (around 10pm).

A good deal of Sunday was taken up with going out to get the new line, snaking it up with the old line, not having the right connector fittings (so another trip to the store for hubby), and then finally getting it fixed late in the afternoon. After that, I finally got to my normal weekend chores – vacuuming, garbage duty, recycling, laundry, and grocery shopping (which I normally do Saturday afternoons now, but I didn’t want to fill the fridge again until we were done moving it around).

I’ve been thinking a lot about my kitchen lately (I tend to do that when stuff breaks and/or doesn’t work like it should), and wanting to make a few changes with how things are organized. So cleaning out the fridge/freezer this weekend was a good start, and also a good way to really take stock of my counters and how I want to rearrange them to accommodate the appliances I need/use.

Cleaning off the top of the fridge also gave me storage for appliances I use, but only once a week or less – like my yogurt maker. I’ll use it tonight, and then it will sit again for a couple of weeks, so instead of having it in front of my crockpots (in the way), I’ll put it on top the fridge between uses. It’s one of those things I have no problem actually reaching for when I need it. Same with extra pitchers/etc for my Ninja blender (that I mostly use for smoothies). Right now, they tend to “float” on the crockpot trio just because I’m out of cupboard space. Those can live up on the fridge as well.

I’ve ordered a smaller microwave, which may or may not end up being a mistake, but I’m tired of the huge one we have taking up 2/3 of the countertop where it lives. It’s a beast, and we’ve been getting occasional “door not closed” errors on the display, so it’s time to replace it anyway, but the one I ordered is half the size and wattage (only 700watts!), so…we’ll see. The new one is much cuter – a retro look, and it will leave enough room on that counter for my dehydrator, which currently lives by the stove. Then the few cookbooks I refer to on occasion can move to that tiny counter, leaving room on the other side of the stove for the toaster oven I want to get later in the month.

I don’t use the microwave for cooking, only defrosting/reheating. I’m hoping this smaller one will do the job. It does have excellent reviews. And I’m hoping to eventually use the toaster oven more than the microwave or larger oven. At least until I can buy a new convection oven, maybe even one with two separate cooking zones…because I love kitchen gadgets just as much as I love other electronics, and because there are only two of us, so it’s not like I need a whole lot of space to make dinner most nights, and it would be nice not to heat up an entire large oven for just a single pan of veggies (or 3 slices of toast on the weekend).

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.

I need a new oven (one burner on my stovetop doesn’t work, and the oven itself doesn’t heat evenly), and I’d like a new fridge, but those are going to have to wait awhile. Crazy how much appliances cost, isn’t it?

I’m always looking for ways to make my little galley kitchen more efficient…and I freely admit I have too much stuff packed into it already. But, I use it daily, and use most of the appliances I have on a very regular basis, so it’s not like I’m just collecting a lot of stuff I don’t use. Aside from baking dishes. Because I rarely bake (calories!), but when I do need them, at least I have them.

I’d also really like to keep a running inventory of the fridge, freezer, pantry, and deep freeze, in hopes of using things up on a more regular basis (instead of buying too much and wasting food). Alas, that’s a project I’ve been trying to get going for years, and still haven’t managed. But maybe this next weekend I’ll be able to finally get a good inventory entered into an app of some sort. I’m taking this coming Friday off work, and the plan is to give the pantry and deep freeze the same “clean it out” treatment I just gave the fridge. Which would be a good time for inventory…if I were so inclined….

Better efficiency and inventory of course doesn’t just mean better food management. It makes it easier to cook and eat healthier. Which makes it easy to manage weight and stay healthier overall.

Ironic thing number one this past week: We switched to whole grain breads in order to be healthier with our carbs. Neither of us have ever particularly cared for the taste, but I did find some that are at least passably palatable.

The irony is, for years I’ve been struggling with how to keep bread from molding without keeping it in the fridge. Apparently, whole grain bread keeps better than white – not one roll or bun molded last week in the breadbox on the counter. So apparently, healthier is actually heartier, in the case of bread at least. Who knew?

Ironic thing number two is that all weekend, my SHealth app was pestering me because I “wasn’t as active” over the weekend as I normally am on weekdays. The truth is, I was far, far more active, but I tend not to put my cell in my pocket when I’m doing things like…moving couches, cleaning out and moving refrigerators, pulling new water lines, vacuuming, laundry, etc. I mean…why would I have my cell in my pocket for all that, when it could get lost or broken or whatever? Duh.

In any case, new couch – check. Working refrigerator – check. Plan for the kitchen this weekend – check.

Energy/motivation to get all this stuff done…well, let’s wait and see what I’ve got by Friday.

Exercise, Focus, & House Names

I tend to think of my brain as the “command center” for my body – I think we all do, at least to some extent. And in a lot of ways, it is. But as with so many things in life, it’s more of a symbiotic relationship than I generally like to admit. If something’s wrong with the body, or the body as a whole isn’t getting what it needs, then the “command center” won’t function properly. The only way to ensure optimal “processing power” between the ears is to make sure everything below the neck is in good functioning order as well.

The command center only works as well as the body allows it to. Which is why I should not be surprised (but somehow always am), when taking better care of my body results in more focus and disciplined decisions coming out of my brain.

I started last week like always, trying desperately to find my way back to more disciplined, focused writing sessions morning and night. And failing to really focus well, though I did get some writing in. Then cooler weather hit mid-week…cool enough that I could walk the dogs a decent distance in the evening, and it was like a switch flipped in my head – when I sat down in front of the laptop later that night, it was much easier to just ignore the browser and email client, open my writing program and start typing.

Incidentally, I also work out in the mornings right before I do my half-hour writing stint, and just after a workout, I’m alert and focused, and find it much easier to resist the temptation to scroll.

We got a walk in the next night as well, and once again, opened the writing app right away and got to work, no fuss. This week, I’m going to start doing a small set of squats and/or crunches mid-way through my late night writing time, and see if that helps boost the focus even further.

I’ll admit, I did cut out my crochet time in favor of “screen time” as well (cell and TV), so I didn’t feel so much like I was “missing out”, which undoubtedly contributed (crochet will just have to be a weekend activity). And I also made sure to get my kitchen chores done early so I could have a full hour late at night. But I’ve done both of those before and still had a hard time focusing on writing rather than just surfing…the activity was the only real difference last week.

I’m still not losing the weight I need to lose, and neither is hubby, so we may shift back towards a low carb diet and replace white breads for wheat/whole grain for at least a little while and see if we can’t break the plateaus we’re on. That will be a gradual change over the next few weeks. I’m betting it will help even more with the focus and discipline issues. I’ve always done far better on a very low to no-carb diet, which sucks, because it’s kind of boring, but if it’s what my body needs, then so be it. There will be more probiotics in my immediate future too. A daily dose of yogurt isn’t something I really notice eating, but my whole body notices when I stop for even just a few days. Details, details.

Because while I do worry about my body, my genes, and triggering latent cancer cells, I also really want my brain to work as well as possible for as long as possible. And the health of the brain is largely determined by the health of the rest of the body, inconvenient as that is.

In other, writing-related news, I was alert enough last week that I actually caught up on several other blogs as well, so if you’re so inclined, go check them out (links below). My “theme” for the week was named houses in fiction, inspired by this article I read early last week: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jul/29/pemberley-manderley-howards-end-real-building-fictional-houses

I’m working on changing my own perspective to see settings in fiction as “characters” rather than just window-dressing for the characters, and starting with something very solid and normally tangible made sense to me. And the more I thought about it, the more of an “a-ha!” moment it became, and it feels like something has finally clicked into place that I can actually use in my writing. A very good feeling indeed.

You can check out the other blogs for more in-depth info (and an example) at these links:

Alex Westhaven (one of my alter-egos – you’ll recognize the name of the town where this fictional manor sits)
The Writer’s Desk (my writing blog)
Snake Bites (the BSB blog)

Yes, three. So I get a little excited when I figure something out. Also, themes make writing all those posts easier. I may just do that every week, at least when I can… 😉

The Pensive Season

I don’t know what it is about summer, but warm, sunny weather always makes me pensive. I mean, I’m an over-thinker on a good day, but summer is when “what if” becomes almost a daily mantra. What if I choose this over that? What if I’d made a different choice 20 yrs ago? What would I do if this life-changing event happened tomorrow? Would my life turn out the same no matter what decisions I make, or do I actually have some control over fate/destiny/whatever you call it?

Yes, I know. Exhausting and in the end, pretty much pointless, but that’s how my brain works, and in the summer, it just seems to be worse. Not much I can do aside from indulging it for a little while, and then forcing myself into a different, more productive headspace.

I’ve always been a dreamer of sorts, which is kind of at odds with my otherwise very practical, logical nature. I remember very clearly laying on my waterbed in the basement as a teen, steno notebook and pen in hand, scribbling/lamenting about whatever guy I happened to be obsessing over at the time (bad habit of mine). I’d lay back, close my eyes, and lose track of time day-dreaming about different scenarios involving said guys and wishing I could just stay in that fantasy world forever.

Writing, of course, is a physical (digital?) manifestation of that sort of day-dreaming habit…when I write, I’m basically day-dreaming on paper, just not about myself anymore. Well, not always, anyway. 😉

And of course when I get in these ultra-pensive moods, I tend to slip back into “day-dream” mode more easily, and it makes me want to write more. Which is frustrating because I only have so much time to spend on that right now. Ideas/day-dreams keep piling up, waiting for me to exorcise them from my head by getting them down in book form.

The co-worker who backs me up when I’m out (and I do the same for him) is in and out of the office for the next month and a half. But after that, I do believe I’ll schedule a week off just for writing. Get some of these ideas out of my head and at least started on paper. Perhaps that will ease the pensiveness a bit.

Even if it doesn’t, it will be fun!

This & That

I’m running late again (imagine that, right?), so just bullet-points for now. I’ll pick one of these for a deeper discussion/exploration next week. Or later this week, maybe. I do have Wednesday off work…

– Took my Note tablet apart last week, pulled the battery, and it’s running fine now (check last week’s blog for that saga).
– My new tea kettle works great (whew!)
– Went for two bike rides this weekend, a short one around the (very hilly) neighborhood Saturday, and then 6.7 miles (round trip) on Sunday to visit my parents. Good exercise, that, and pretty darn fun, too.
– Posted what I think is a pretty interesting discussion topic and writing prompts on the BSB blog today.
– Scheduled excerpts to post on my alter-ego sites this week, and I’ve discovered a couple of stories that need minimal editing/work to be ready for publishing from those two. Stay tuned…
– Next tattoo appointment is this Wednesday at 1pm. I’ll be getting poison bottles put on my inner arm, which is probably going to hurt a lot but it’s gonna look really cool. Pictures soon! I took Weds morning off work too…because I can.
– Graduation party Saturday for a friend’s kid who’s graduating Sunday. And of course, next Monday is a holiday. Yay!

That’s what’s goin’ on! Mostly.

High-Low Tech

So…busy weekends lately, which is why posting is kind of hit and miss at the moment. The nicer weather has our schedules all wonky, and I’m also trying to find a good routine for my business hours late Friday night, which means the BSB blog post sometimes isn’t getting done until Sunday night, which leaves me no time to get a post done for this site. All of which to say…posts may be spotty until I can get my summer routine a little more stable. It’s not you, it’s me (but that seems rather obvious…).

It’s not like you’re waiting anxiously on my every post, right? 😉

In any case, I’m in kind of a weird spot right now where I want to use the latest and greatest in tech, but am also really seeing the value in slowing down and maybe using lower-tech options for certain things, or mixing the two for the “highest low-tech” option available. Reading that back, I realize it sounds convoluted, and it is, but such is life in my brain. Or part of it. I mean, I keep a lot of stuff to myself. Because if you think I’m weird now…well. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, as the saying goes.

Ahem. Back on topic, my first high-low tech conundrum this spring came when I started using my 3-year old Samsung Galaxy Note 8 tablet to write poetry last month. One of the best things about the Galaxy Note line is, obviously, Samsung Notes, wherein you can write on the screen with a stylus (high tech!), and use a device just like a notebook. I have been enamored with this feature ever since it came out, and I absolutely love the fact that I can erase my digital handwriting, which means my “pages” are less messy/more legible (I have horrible handwriting).

This is kind of a “best of both worlds” thing for me, because handwriting (low-tech) forces me to slow down and pay more attention to what I’m writing, so I think I do better work that way. Computers haven’t quite figured out how to *read* my handwriting yet (not holding out much hope for that one), which means I have to type everything I write on the screen by hand back into my writing program (currently Shaxpir). And that forces me to do an editing/revision pass, as I’m always finding ways to improve whatever I’ve hand-written as I type it back in.

So, I’m kind of loving this new-to-me writing “process”, and my tablet decides it needs to update to the Kit-Kat version of Android (it came with Jelly Bean). What harm can an update do, right? As it turns out, updating to Kit-Kat on these tablets makes them think they’re overheating even when they aren’t, and the only solution (from internet-land) seems to be to pull the battery and reset the bios.

Fun times.

I am a software girl, not a hardware girl. I don’t like messing with hardware one little bit – I just want it to work. But at some point in time this week, I’m going to have to get all my notes off of that tablet, pry the back off, take the battery out, and hope it resets like it’s supposed to. *sigh* Was going to do that this past weekend, but just didn’t get time.

Until then, I’ll use the notes function on my Galaxy Note 5 (cell) for my high-low tech solution, since the only other real options are to use paper/pen, or type directly into the laptop – neither of which seem to work as well for me.

I know. Special snowflake, and all that. Writers do tend to be a bit neurotic about…all sorts of stuff.

Another, slightly more fun example of high-low tech is the new bicycles my husband and I bought this past weekend. One of the simplest low-tech methods of transportation ever invented, but these new bikes have some pretty amazing technology now in braking and gear-switching. I find it somewhat ironic that so much technological invention has been put into these things, and yet somehow, they decided bikes don’t need kickstands anymore. What the heck is *that* all about? Does no one want to just park their bike in the driveway for a few minutes anymore? Weird.

I should probably mention that it’s been nearly 30 years since I’ve been on a bicycle…or it had been until last Saturday when I test-rode the one I bought (thank goodness you never forget!). That’s probably long enough to give up the grudge I developed when I fell off my 10 speed and shattered my right hand/wrist when I was 15, right? In any case, riding a bike is fun, it’s good exercise, and it’s something my husband and I can do together. I have friends who like to bike (okay, one, but still), and my mom would be happy to have company on her occasional excursions as well. I might even be able to sneak off on my own here and there. I used to love using a good long bike ride to clear my head.

So, investment in both my health and social life. Not a bad use for my annual longevity check, eh?

And finally – a high-tech solution for a low-tech problem failed me this week, and I had to remedy that ASAP, which is the other reason this blog post is a day late. If you know me at all, you know I’m a heavy tea-drinker. And to make tea, you need warm to hot water, depending on what you’re brewing. And if you want hot water fast, you don’t make it over a fire or on the stove, you plug in a handy dandy electric kettle.

Last week, my electric kettle started sounding more like R2D2 than a kettle, and while I gave it a good scrubbing this weekend to get all the hard mineral deposits out, it’s still not acting right. I haven’t used a thermometer yet, but I suspect it’s not heating up to temp anymore, judging by the taste of my tea.

*big sigh*

So, instead of getting this post done late Sunday night, I was reading the reviews for a ton of different electric kettles as potential replacements. I mean, I could just get another Cuisinart – this one’s done well for quite a few years, but there are so many fun options (even though I will never be able to quite justify the $250 Breville automatic tea kettle, dammit)…

In any case, I decided on a KitchenAid kettle with 6 temp settings and a very cool-looking steeper basket around 1am, and that was largely because I really, really had to sleep so I could work Monday (today).

And now it’s nearly midnight *again* (how did that happen so quickly?!), and I need sleep *again*. Seriously. Needing sleep is so inconvenient…

First Quarter Observations

Yes, this weekend I wrote & scheduled my first quarterly newsletter for BSB. I need to get my author newsletters going again too, but…babysteps. This year while I’ve been working to get back on track with the writing (with some success), I’ve also been working to get back on track with the business side of things. Stuff like updating the web site regularly, scheduling promotions, checking sales (my books actually sell better on iTunes than anywhere else – who knew? I do now!), keeping in touch with readers, posting writing samples on the site…and supposedly keeping my accounting up to date so I can get my taxes done (um…yeah. Babysteps, like I said.).

You know. Actually *running* the business, instead of just letting it limp along on its own until I need something from it. Novel (so to speak) idea, eh?

Time is an issue, as you’re aware, but the whole Friday late-night business hours thing is actually working really, really well. I kind of feel like Tim Ferriss (he’s the guy who wrote that 4-hour work week book, right?) would be proud. I start around 11pm, and work until around 3am, and that time is dedicated completely to taking care of business/BSB tasks. It’s not quite enough time, granted, because I still generally end up doing blog posts on Sunday night (just did that before hopping over here), and I don’t have a good workflow figured out yet, so I spend too much time deciding what to work on, instead of working. But that will come in time, and if I can eventually hook up with someone who’s marketing-graphics inclined, that will save me a bunch of time too (I currently make all of our marketing graphics – it’s very time-consuming). But…babysteps.

The cool thing is, stuff is getting done. Books are getting marketed (thanks to the marketing assistant working with me), updates are being done, things are moving forward.

And I’m writing regularly again too. Still need to work on priorities and time management, but Monday through Thursday nights, I am in my booth no later than 11pm, and working on a piece of fiction. I may get a few words in or a lot, but nearly always something. I will have at least one, and possibly two or three new books of my own to publish by the end of the year. That feels pretty darn good.

I’m also reading regularly again (at night, after I write and before sleep), and I’ve taken up archery (I did indeed buy a bow), and this past weekend we got a really good start at turning our backyard into a “lawn” again. It doesn’t sound like much, I know, but all of these things add up to good progress on the things that felt like they were just completely out of control and out of reach altogether just a few months ago (well, aside from the archery – that’s just a new hobby on a whim, but a good addition, methinks).

Things are good. Life is good. And I hope it will just keep the next curve ball to itself for a little while longer, because I’m really enjoying this little interlude from the conflict that tends to plague us all here and there.

Post-Concert Late Night Musings

This will be quickish, because as the title says, it’s a late, post-concert (Adelita’s Way) Sunday night (nearly 1am), and this is the last thing I’m doing while drinking a cup of tea before bed.

It’s been a kind of chaotic/abnormal weekend, and I’m going to pay for it first thing tomorrow when I have to drag a laundry basket up from the basement so my husband has socks to wear to work. I still have another load of laundry in the washer that I’ll transfer to the dryer after work tomorrow night, and I need to take the garbage out too. The consequences of not getting household chores done over the weekend. *sigh*

I spent a good chunk of Saturday writing for the weekly BSB prompt story, and my little fairy tale turned out very well, methinks. Naturally, there are other things I should have been doing with that time (like the load of laundry I’ll have to dry tomorrow night), but it was fun to just sit and write most of the day.

Sunday I was just lazy…so I have no excuse. And we went to the concert tonight, which was okay, but the sound really wasn’t good. They really need to turn the volume down in smaller venues like the one we were at – it was so loud you can hear everything…including the feedback and monitor buzzing and all that, and it’s just a total assault on the ears so you can’t actually hear anything in the chaos. I’m glad we didn’t pay much for those tickets.

We did find a spot in the back to sit down briefly, and while people watching, I made a few observations:

  •  I still don’t have any clue why people want sparkly things on their butts. Nor do I think that would be comfortable to sit on.
  • Louis Vuitton looks awkward at a rock concert.
  • Youngsters don’t seem to care how the music sounds, as long as they can drink and dance
  • I’m not 20 anymore, and neither is my husband. We did okay, but between my still-kinked neck (pinched nerve) and his gout flare-up, we were quite the pair.

Now, it’s time to get some sleep…largely due to that last observation. You know. Adults, work, etc. Mundane, but pays the bills so I can do fun things like buy my first archery bow on Tuesday.

I hope your weekend was far more exciting (and less painful) than mine!

Mental Flotsam

Lots of things going on in my head lately – I’m still dealing with the mental “fallout” of that whole midlife crisis thing I’ve recently
crawled out of. I’m still not ready to do a full-blown blog on that, but I will say that it’s been a real roller coaster, and as enlightening and…liberating, I guess, as it’s been, I hope I don’t have to go through another one anytime soon. I go through self-assessment periods every decade or so, where I’m just not happy with…”whatever” in my life and need to make some adjustments, but this…this was different. This was more of a total re-examination of all the major life decisions I’ve ever made (and some of the minor ones too), which causes some major cognitive dissonance that has to be worked through before one can move forward. It’s unsettling and uncomfortable and now that I’m on the tail-end looking back, I can totally see how some people end up hitting the “reset” button completely during this time in life (which a rather large percentage of us go through whether we want to or not). Weird, wild, and wacky stuff.

In any case, there are other things on my mind these days too, including:

  • Archery – I *loved* my first time on the range last week, and will have to post more about it later. Suffice it to say, I liked it well enough that I’m going back to the shooting range this week, and hopefully once a week after that as well. I’m planning on buying a bow kit and arrows, and taking a few lessons. It’s been awhile since I’ve been that drawn to something out of the house!
  • Love Triangles – I was surfing TV channels Sunday night, and got sucked into an episode of “Victoria” on PBS Masterpiece Theater. Ended up watching two episodes, and the relationships therein really got me to thinking about love triangles in fiction and real life, and how there always is one, whether we’re aware or not. It’s fascinating and uncomfortable, and I’d like to explore that phenomenon more.
  • My neck – which is kinked up again. Stupid thing. Or stupid drivers who rear-ended me twice in as many years. I never had problems with my neck before those…
  • BSB Advertising/marketing, and how effective it is/isn’t. Also, getting the documents together for that to do my taxes. Ugh.
  • The ring in my rook piercing, which I want changed out for a bar that will be so much less of a pain to deal with, because it won’t stick out at all like the ring does.
  • The drones in Warhawk, the James Rollins book I’m reading. Yikes!
  • New crochet/knitting patterns I want to try out, now that I’ve finished the dog sweater I was working on.

Never a dull moment, eh?

What’s on your mind lately? Care to share?

Archery & Eyestrain

Things have been a bit busy around here lately, what with getting a couple of new releases ready and promoted for BSB. Hence my missing last week’s normal discussion post here – I just sorta ran out of time. We have one more new release today (My buddy Carol’s new book – go check it out here!), but since today is also a federal holiday, I’m off work, which leaves a little more time for things like blog posts. And archery!

Yes, archery. I’m heading out to our local archery range late this afternoon to try my hand at a bow and arrow. From what I understand, they have simple compound bows for rental, so it won’t be all “medieval” like, but I think it will be a lot of fun, and I’ve been wanting to try it for awhile now. So I’m really looking forward to that, and who knows? Maybe it’ll inspire a new story or two. Possibly even a new hobby? We’ll see…I really don’t need another hobby, but something physical aside from dog-walking that gets me out of the house occasionally wouldn’t be a bad thing.

I did spend a little time this weekend watching beginner archery videos, and a video or two on the type of bows they rent. So I’ll still look like an idiot to start with, I’m sure, but at least I’ll know *why* I look like an idiot, and I know the basics of bow safety so I shouldn’t hurt myself (too badly) or anyone else. A perk of being an over-analytical INTJ personality type.

So that will be fun, methinks. So far this morning I’ve entertained the dogs, made yogurt, chatted on FB, and tried to write this blog post – a task that just keeps getting interrupted (mostly by the cabin-feverish dogs). I had to stay away from the screen for the most part this weekend, as I’ve neglected to take care of my eyes over the past week (too much screen time, too much wind), and they’re pretty strained. They felt better this morning, but I need to be careful – pushing them too hard will end me up on steroid drops and constant watering again, and I *do not* want that!

I used to have a “no computer in the living room” rule back when I lived alone. If I wanted to use the computer (I didn’t have a laptop back then), I had to go into my office deliberately. That limited my screen time because I like to watch TV in the evenings. Then I got a laptop, that rule went out the window, and now I have to be firm with myself and leave the laptop closed or in the office again at night while I watch TV and crochet or knit, rather than staring at both my laptop and the TV for the hour or so I have. Using my cell isn’t quite so bad, as long as I’m only on to check messages/emails or post photos. The keyboard is too small to do much else efficiently, so it’s self-limiting.

Last week I was working on graphics and other things for a book launch, so I did have reason to be online other than just gawking at social media feeds, but even that, I could and should plan better so I can stay away from computer screens between the time I leave work, and my writing time. That will give my eyes plenty of rest, and if I remember to use eyedrops after particularly windy or cold walks, those two things should keep them in good shape.

That, and remembering to stay hydrated. I don’t know why it’s so hard to remember to drink a glass of water between mugs of tea, but it is. And it makes a noticeable difference in my eye health when I remember to do that.

Good grief. It’s a lot of work to keep a body running properly…

Now, lunch. Then a dog walk, another blog post, and archery and some TV/crocheting, and then writing. If you have the day off, I hope you’re doing something fun! And if not, I hope your Monday is going quickly and quietly.

That Could Cause Cancer, You Know…

…and water is wet, and the sky is blue.

But we’ll get to my rant on supposedly well-intentioned cancer warnings in a minute. First, a bit of blog news:

If you were/are a fan of my blog serials, I have good news! I’m around 6 chapters into my next romantic suspense novel, and I’ve decided to serialize it again. One chapter every Friday, right here on the blog. Keeps me motivated and accountable, even if I know there are only two people reading. And since I rarely look at my stats (too lazy), I can pretend there are at least two people reading, which keeps me writing. Ignorance/fantasy is bliss, you know.

So, if you’re interested, stop back on Friday for Chapter 1 of…hmm. That’s a pickle. I should probably pick an actual title for this book, eh? I’ve been calling it Rattlesnake Falls Book 1, because the series will be Rattlesnake Falls, and this is the first one (I know, so logical). But I haven’t come up with an actual title for it yet. I’ll think on it, and hopefully have one by Friday.

I currently have subscription options for either “all posts” or “non-fiction only”. I’ll have a “fiction only” option as well by Friday, so those who prefer to get each chapter (but not these rambly weekly posts) via email can do so.


Alrighty then. Admin business done, now back to the rant o’ the week:

As I understand it, cancer isn’t really a disease so much as a cell mutation, and the things that turn it on/off are varied and individual to specific people depending on their own genetics and lifestyle. Cells mutate, and those mutated cells spread through the body and left unchecked, it will eventually kill us. Odds are incredibly good that a high percentage of us will eventually be killed by cell mutations (cancer) at some point (hopefully very late in life when our bodies are worn out, but that’s if we’re lucky).

Why am I thinking about this, you ask? Because I was challenged about my tattoos twice last week, and one of the arguments used was “tattoos can cause cancer, you know – and especially lymph node cancer”. The reason that last part was tacked on, obviously, is because Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma runs in my family, and it was an attempt at emotional manipulation. Scare tactics. Needless to say, I didn’t appreciate it, nor do I respond to such things all that well.

There are a *lot* of things out there that can cause (trigger, really) cancers. And we have a lot of warnings all over the place alerting us to that danger. The main cancer that runs in my family is genetic, and has a tendency to hit the same oldest (or only) child of the family in the same place on the body (lymph nodes at the side of the neck) at the same time in life (one week before a 50th birthday). It’s been very predictable for at least three generations on my dad’s side, and I’ve lived a great deal of my life knowing that one week before my 50th birthday, a lump will probably appear on the side of my neck, and it will be my turn to get radiated/chemo-ed/poisoned/whatever-the-current-treatment-happens-to-be in order to keep my body from killing me in the process of turning into a giant mass of monster-cells.

We humans are nothing if not hopeful, though, and to that end, I’ve done and continue to do a lot of things in order to reduce the risk of my genetic switch from “flipping”, or at least to prolong the process. With the occasional lapse, I workout fairly regularly and do my best to keep my weight under control (all previous generations where the cancer triggered, the “victims” were quite overweight). I eat as healthy as I can stand to, which is pretty healthy and includes a high-fiber, low carb diet, I stay away from most extra sugars, all artificial sweeteners, and I try to keep my indulgences to a minimum. I drink the equivalent of six cups of tea per day, no sugar added, and I do my best to get a proper amount of water for good hydration.

I read labels religiously, do my best to avoid potentially harmful chemicals in skin care, makeup, soaps/cleaners, household cleaning products, and personal care items. I use herbal-only hair dyes, and my nail polish is all “big-three-free” (which means it has less toxic chemicals, but it’s still not perfect). I don’t use plastic water bottles or storage containers if I can help it – everything is metal, glass or ceramic. I stay away from commercial drugs as much as possible, and use herbal/holistic remedies whenever I can.

You’d think I’d be confident in my ability to prolong or circumvent my family’s genetic curse, but honestly? I have no idea whether or not any of it will even help. And there’s a very good possibility that nothing I can do will stop that genetic mutation from triggering in my body in exactly the same way, at exactly the same time as my dad, and his mom, and her dad before that. Even if I can prolong it, there’s no guarantee that it won’t trigger differently, maybe at some other time, in some other place. That’s the thing about cancer. If the genetics are there, there’s no guarantee that anything we do differently will ever be able to stop it from actually manifesting.

I have tattoos. One of the few things I indulge in knowing full well that it isn’t the healthiest thing for my body, and that some of the pigment particles *will* settle in my lymph nodes. And I fully plan on getting more tattoos. Because I love them, and because no one can guarantee me that any of the things I do to keep my cells in line is actually going to work against my base genetics. I could live as pristine a life as possible, and still end up with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma one week before my 50th birthday. Or, the curse could mutate differently in me, and manifest as some different sort of cancer at some different time of my life too. Earlier, later…impossible to say. The potential is there, dormant (hopefully) for now. The possibility that something will eventually trigger it is high. If not my tattoos, it will be something else.

At some point, you have to just stop worrying so much, live your life, and deal with things as they come.

Well, you don’t have to, I guess, but it’s sure a lot more fun/less stressful than constantly worrying about every single thing that could go wrong and trying to control things that really are pretty much out of your control.

I’m keeping the tattoos and nail polish, thanks. My two main unhealthy vices, and the nail polish has been one since I was a young kid, way before they thought about things like avoiding toxic chemicals (nail polish is derived from automobile paint, you know, and then there’s polish remover, of course…), so I’ve certainly absorbed my fair share of those along with all the tattoo pigments.

Yes, I know tattoos could/may trigger cancer, thanks. I’ll take my chances.