Silk & Snail Mucus

“Oh man,” I can hear you thinking as you read that title. “She’s really gone off the deep end now…”

And you would be right, but that’s not what we’re discussing today. Although I have to admit, I nearly didn’t use this title on this post, because as soon as I typed it, I thought, “That would actually make a great book title…” I still might use it, actually. The deep end, indeed. Join me?

ANYways…

I was recently reading Jezebel (yeah, I know – judge all you want), and one of the regular features is a beauty box run-down. You know, those monthly delivery boxes that are all the rage these days? I have been getting a tea box that has just now been discontinued (sad, but I was having trouble making it through that much tea in a month – I’m seriously backlogged and I drink a *lot* of tea), and I still get a monthly yarn box from my favorite eco-friendly online fiber shop, Darn Good Yarn. Their claim to fame is recycled silk yarn…the factory remnants from making silk saris in India, and they also sell said saris as well as oddball yarns made from things like banana fiber (which is seriously soft and silky, let me tell you).

I’ll be honest, the yarn isn’t the easiest to work with, but it’s funky and fun and I love it. And I love getting that monthly “surprise” of sensory deliciousness too. For a not-so-touchy-feely-person, I cannot resist the feel of silky or fuzzy fiber across my fingers. Mmm, mmm, good.

I used to have a couple of real silk shirts (short-sleeved button-downs). I loved, loved, *loved* the feel and drape of them. Sadly, I am really not good at caring for things that require hand-washing…

In any case, back to Jezebel and the Beauty Boxes (sounds like a somewhat risque band, eh?). In this particular round-up, one of the things our intrepid blog reporter was most excited about was…snail mucus.

Apparently, it’s a “thing” over in Korea to collect the slime trail from snails (the snails are supposedly not harmed), and use it to make concoctions that are supposed to heal small wounds and blemishes faster – like pimples. According to said reporter and several people in the comments, this actually works. Who knew?

What I want to know (really!) is…who was it who thought it would be a good idea to put snail slime on your skin? On purpose, I mean. Did someone study the chemical composition of snail slime and think, “hey, this would work great for getting rid of pimples!” Or was someone just laying out in the garden (do they have gardens you can lay in in Korea?) when a snail crawled across their face and instead of jumping up and flinging the snail off and getting all grossed out (you know, like a normal person probably would – ohm…), they just stayed still and let the slime sink in, and then later realized, “OMG! My skin looks great! It must have been that snail that crawled across my face! I should tell everyone!”

Or was it one of those bets in a bar one night – you know, one of those “hold my Redd’s and watch this” sort of things (do they have Redd’s Apple Ale in Korea? Or hard apple cider? Things that make you go hmm…)?

“Bet you wouldn’t let this snail crawl across your face!”
“You’re on – gimme that!”
“Hey, your skin looks great! We should market this! Think if we eat the snail, it’ll cure tomorrow’s hangover, too?”
“I don’t know…any French people here we could ask?”

I’m gonna get crap for that one, aren’t I? Yes, Americans eat escargot too, but the word itself is French, so…

Yes, I know. Google could probably hook me up with the right answer on how snail-slime-as-beauty-treatment was discovered in a matter of milliseconds, but sometimes it’s still fun to ponder and pretend that we don’t have all the knowledge we could possibly ever want (and plenty we really don’t) at our fingertips. Don’t you think?

No, I’m not planning on trying snail mucus for my complexion (or anything else) anytime soon. And I’m not having escargot for dinner either – I have a pork roast in the crockpot, thanks. But I may sign up for one of those beauty boxes. Ironically, the one that appealed most to me was one mentioned in the comments – Goodebox. Because…goodies. In a box. What could go wrong?

Aside from snail mucus, I mean…


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Serial Story: Live With Me, Part 19

This serial story is presented in draft (unedited) form. Each installment will be available for one week, and new installments will be posted every Friday. Miss one? Joining in late? Email me and I’ll send you the previous installments. Enjoy!


Live With Me

Part 19

“That’s not possible.” Emmett shot Dan a look as his friend and trainer started laughing again. “It takes weeks for the average person to book an appointment. And they aren’t supposed to talk to anyone about my medical information, either!”

Candy shrugged, a small grin playing at her lips. “I didn’t discuss any medical information, other than the fact that you may have re-injured the knee he operated on. And apparently just your name carries plenty of weight, because once I mentioned that I was looking after you, they fell al over themselves to get you an appointment.” Her brows drew together. “That was kind of annoying, actually.”

Dan scooted his chair back and stood. “I like her,” he said, pointing at Candy. And I think you’re in good hands, so I’m going to leave you two to fight this out amongst yourselves.” Turning a stern look on Emmett he waggled a finger at him. “Stay off your knee, no matter what the doc says. We want you back, but you can’t play with a blown out knee, so take care of it.”

“Yeah, yeah…I will.” Emmett rolled his eyes as Dan walked out the door. He started taking the ice packs off his knee and putting them on the table.

“What are you doing? Shouldn’t those stay on?”

“Twenty minutes on, twenty minutes off,” he droned. “And apparently, I have somewhere to be this afternoon, so I should probably take a shower.”

Candy shook her head. “No to the shower. You need to stay off that leg. You can rinse off with the sink and a washcloth.”

“I’m not a damn china doll, and if I want a shower, I’m taking a shower!” He pushed the chair back and stood up on his good leg, somehow managing to hide a wince as the warm blood rushed into his bum knee and made it ache. Bad. He reached for his crutches, but she was quicker and snatched them away, holding them just out of reach.

“Not gonna happen,” she insisted, his crutches in one hand, and the cup of coffee she was nursing in the other. “If you slip and fall, you’ll just hurt yourself again, and you really should keep that leg elevated until we have to go.”

He narrowed his eyes and leaned forward as much as he could without losing his balance.

“I haven’t bathed since I got here, and I need a shower. You can either give me those crutches and get out of my way, or you can watch me hop, and probably fall, my way to the bathroom.”

He could see her assessing him, trying to decide whether or not he was bluffing. Truth was, he figured he could make it to the couch before he had to rest, but he’d probably have to crawl the rest of the way to the hall, since there wasn’t anything to hang onto between the couch and that wall.

He wasn’t sure how he was going to manage a shower, either, but he’d figure it out. He could smell himself, and it wasn’t good. No way was he leaving the house with that stench.

She shoved the crutches at his chest. “Fine. If you’re determined to do more damage, then let’s get it over with. I just need to call work and have them reschedule my appointments.”

“You can go in this morning – my appointment isn’t until this afternoon, right?”

Candy reached for the phone. “You think I’m going to just let you shower without making sure you don’t fall? Your mother would kill me. She’s already going to kill me. So you go…do whatever you need to do to get ready, and I’ll be in to help you in a few minutes.”
Emmett grinned, the pain in his knee no match for the sudden shot of adrenaline in his blood.

“You’re going to help me shower?”

She already had the phone to her ear, and she looked annoyed. “Yes, now go!” she whispered, shooing him away and turning her back to speak into the phone.

He situated the crutches under his arms and headed toward the bedroom. The day had just gotten a whole lot brighter, and it was all he could do not to whistle a very happy tune as he went.


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Mental Calisthenics

A modge-podge of things this week, because my brain’s been bouncing all over the place this weekend. That’s what happens when I manage not to stress or obsess about anything – my poor mind doesn’t know what to do, and starts looking for something to focus on/obsess over. It doesn’t really handle “free time” too well…

Something I have been sort of obsessing over in the back of my head for quite some time now (years, in fact) is summed up very nicely in this blog post at Brain Pickings:

In Praise of Missing Out: Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips on the Paradoxical Value of Our Unlived Lives

Yes, the title is a mouthful (eyeful?), and if that intimidates you, you probably want to skip the article. For those interested though, it basically talks about how we’re constantly thinking about the paths we didn’t choose – ie, when we choose one thing, it means we don’t choose another…and humans generally give at least some thought to the “Option B’s” we leave behind (or don’t, in some cases). I know I often think about the “other lives” I’d live if I’d made a different choice at once crossroads or another, and in some cases, I struggle with it. This post actually kind of made me relieved that it’s not just me…and I ordered a copy of Phillips’ book which I’m very much looking forward to reading.

I also loved this post by KD Sarge this weekend, because it’s just…so very, very true:

Procrastination Bites

Also, I’m really not fond of cupcakes. The cake part is generally okay, but I really am not big on frosting (or anything that sugary), and it seems like most cupcakes are all frosting. Way too sweet for my taste.

Amusingly enough, KD’s post made me feel like I should clean my shower this weekend (a couple mentions of pulling hair out of the drain), but in a hilarious twist, I didn’t actually do that. Instead, I procrastinated on that particular project by reorganizing two drawers in my kitchen. Because that makes perfect sense, right?

An interesting post by the always funny Perry Block shed some light on why my husband’s attitude on tattoos has always been…lukewarm at best (he was born in the 60’s, which Perry explains was still the wild-west of body art:

Tattoo Breakthrough

When I got my first tat, they were just starting to become more trendy, but they were still a sort of “badge of rebelliousness” and a tribute to how tough you were, and I’ve always been sort of a laid-back rebel. The kicker with tattoos is (and anyone who has one will tell you this), they’re very addictive. You get one, and all you can think about is your next one. I stopped after the fourth for awhile out of respect for my husband’s dislike of them, but I still thought about what I’d get next. It was a good decade until dear hubby put me out of my misery and encouraged me to go get that next one, and I knew exactly what I wanted, and where. I’m already planning my next appointment, probably sometime in September.

And finally, this enlightening post gave me an epiphany about my attitude towards phone calls:

Phone-Reluctant Introvert 

I don’t hate them like this person does, but I struggle with them, and this post does an excellent job of explaining why. For me, it’s not even the intrusion so much as the fact that I simply cannot communicate well when my auditory system is the only one involved. I do hate calling people when I know it’s a cell phone, for precisely the fact that I know people will feel obligated to answer, and I hate the idea of interrupting people while they are shopping or working or…not somewhere it’s convenient to take a call. With landlines, I know if they aren’t home, they’re busy and I can just leave a message and it wasn’t an intrusion. With a cell, I’m always afraid they’re doing something else, and I’m butting in on whatever that is, and the sense of manners and politeness that was drilled into me as a child is just completely mortified by that knowledge. So I rarely call cell numbers outside of work (and then only when people tell me to call them there) – only when I have absolutely no other choice.

This is why I don’t have a voice cell plan either – my cell only has data, and I use Google voice for free texting. If people want to call me, they have to call my landline, and if I’m busy or out, I don’t answer, and if they don’t leave a message, I assume it’s not important and they don’t need a call back. When I am talking on the phone, I’m pacing and moving and “doing things”, as the blog post author writes. It helps me focus on the conversation, which really is interesting, I think.

Email, text, or some form of social media is generally the best way to communicate with me, though I understand that not all people are like that, and I do try to accommodate others when I can…or at least meet them half-way on the way they like to communicate best. I certainly don’t expect everyone to just cater to my needs, but it’s still fascinating to know that my communication style is probably inherent to my personality.

So there you have it…just a few of the things that have caught my attention recently. Never a dull moment in the gray matter, I tell you what…

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Work, Home, & Writing Changes

It’s weird how some things make your brain stutter. Last Tuesday, for instance, after my new title of “Database Coordinator” was finally made official at work, my old job as “IS Internet Specialist” was posted for people to apply for. They posted it before anyone told me the new job was official, so for a little while there, I had this vague sense of being in “job purgatory”, even though I knew they wouldn’t post my old job if the new one wasn’t official.

And then of course the realization hit that my self-appointed title of “Webmistress” didn’t actually apply anymore (well, not as far as pertains to the day job, anyways…obviously I still have my own sites to care for). That was weird too. No, my day job isn’t how I define myself as a whole, but it definitely is part of who I am (I mean, I’ve been the “webmistress” for 15 yrs or so now…that’s a long time to lay claim to a specific “label”). And now I am the DBA, which means I *am* that person that I’ve had some…uh…biases & preconceived notions about when dealing with others who wear that label. So that’s gonna take some getting used to.

My focus is a bit different now, and as with any new job, there are a lot of things to learn and become proficient in. And as I mentioned last week, I have to be at work an hour earlier on Mondays, which isn’t on the “pros” list, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to switching jobs in this particular case.

So. Lots of changes going on at work. For the better, I think.

We’ve been making changes at home too. Motivated by my dad’s cancer recurrence, my husband and I have started doing twice-daily workouts, morning and night. I was already doing yoga in the mornings, but slacking off at night. The hubby decided he wanted to get up and get moving earlier, so I’ve been waking him up before I hit the showers, and he does his cardio on the treadmill in the morning. At night, we head downstairs about nine, and I do my cardio and he uses the Total Gym for resistance training, and I do my resistance training after. It’s been good for both of us, I think, and we motivate each other. When neither of us is motivated at night, we have a show we can only watch while we’re working out (we’re currently working on the second season of The Transformer on Netflix), and that generally gets us down there, at least. Just showing up is often all you need to start doing the thing that needs to be done.

I’m pulling off pounds, slowly but surely, which is good. I need to lose around 10-15lbs to be at a comfortable, healthy weight. It’s a little higher than what the docs “say” is good for my particular frame/height, but whatever…it’s the weight I’ve always felt best at, so that’s where I’d like to be. The body knows better than the docs, methinks.

We’ve also been working hard on getting the yard and gardens back in shape. I’ve been meaning to buy and plant bulbs for spring color for years, and last week, I finally did. Or I started, anyways. Every time I look at the bags in the basement, waiting to be planted later this fall, I think I need more. I’m pretty sure I’ll be adding to our bulb collection before we even get them in the ground. Which means our gardens should explode with a riot of color next spring. Makes me smile just thinking about it.

Some of the changes we’ll be making to the backyard this fall and next spring are going to be a little confusing for the Lucy-dog, which is unfortunate, but I think ultimately, a few of them will make things easier for her as far as getting around by feel rather than sight. So hopefully we’ll be able to guide her through adjusting to them without too much anxiety on her part.

As for the writing, I’ve been thinking about retiring one of my pen names next year. It’s difficult keeping up with three genres at once, and I actually have more that I’d like to work in. Writing in that particular genre has grown a bit tiresome, but at the same time, there are other people invested in that name and I have an obligation to work at sales for that reason. The best way to sell more books, of course, is to write and publish more (and get better). So…I’m not sure what I’ll do about that just yet, but I’m leaning toward at least a partial retirement for that name. Maybe just a year-long break? I have until January to decide.

I freely admit that when I finally started writing seriously, I had dreams of selling a bunch of books and being a full-time writer. It’s such a seductive dream to have, but the fact is, the thing that makes good writers stand out from the rest of us is…well, something that really can’t be defined. It’s a certain voice, a unique way of telling a story, or a combination of the two that grabs the attention of enough readers all at once to create buzz, and then they do it over and over and over again.

I don’t have that…yet. I’m not a bad writer, but I could and will be better, with time and practice. I think one of the reasons that writing, unlike so many other things for me, hasn’t fallen by the wayside is because it’s not easy, and I’m not nearly as good as I want to be at it. I generally lose interest in things pretty quickly after I get them figured out, and I’m not even close to figuring out how to tell a good story just yet. Maybe I never will be…in which case I’ll die trying. There are much, much worse ways to go.

But it’s not just that either – you have to get your books in front of people, and get them to read them before they can even find out if you have that…certain something…or not. And that’s not just something self-published authors have to do, it’s what all authors have to do, no matter how they’re published. It’s also not something I’m willing to put all that much time and/or effort into, because there’s a point at which you have to decide whether to go “all in” with writing (which generally means giving up a serious day job in favor of more part-time type work in order to have more time for the writing part). The thing is, I like my job, and all the things that come with it like a steady paycheck, and a retirement fund, and free health insurance, and stability. I like not having to make my writing pay at any cost. I like being able to take whatever time I need to figure things out.

Will I ever figure out that “thing” that will draw people so deep into my stories they won’t want to come back out? Maybe. Maybe not. Thing is, it doesn’t really matter. I enjoy writing, and I’ll just keep on doing it in my spare time, and if something eventually comes of it, great. If not? No big deal – I spent a lot of very pleasant hours making up stories and writing them down. It’s a win-win, really.

It’s been such a year of change already (exhausting!), and there are more on the horizon. Hopefully by the time we hit December the good will outweigh the bad…


 

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Perspectives & Time

It’s late Sunday night, but not terribly so as I sit here sipping a rather lovely oolong tea from a frog-adorned teacup. I’m waiting for Lucy’s dog food to finish “marinating” on the counter so I can go to bed, which makes this just like pretty much any other late night for the past 5 years or so.

I’m tired from a flurry of activity this weekend – our county fair started Friday, and my husband and I went to concerts both Friday and Saturday nights, plus did some shopping on Saturday. By the time we hit Sunday, we were both running on fumes and had pretty much zero motivation or energy left.

I keep thinking “It’s not that we’re old…” but the fact is, we are, comparatively speaking. When I was young, I practically lived at the fairgrounds during this week every year. I had a zillion 4-H projects on exhibit, and a couple of years I even exhibited small animals (rabbits). I went to every concert and night show I could with my work schedule, all three nights of rodeo, horse racing and bingo with my grandparents, and ate enough food sold along the midway to fuel my teen acne for months. My 4-H exhibitor status got me fair tickets for all seven days, so I spent quite a few afternoons there as well, when I wasn’t at work, anyways. After the night shows, it was time to trawl the midway and ride the rides, looking as good as teen girls can just in case we could catch the eye of a cute cowboy somewhere along the way.

Yes, I wore Wranglers and Ropers and crisp button down shirts back then. With a leather belt hand-tooled by my grandfather and a buckle with my initials on it. Giddy-up! Maybe I shouldn’t admit it, but I still know all the words to “Fishin’ in the Dark” by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band…

The year I broke my arm, I had the cast put on a week or so before the fair started. And of course having a cast didn’t stop me – I popped some tylenol and rode all the rides, including the Gravitron, which spun around in circles until you were going so fast that the wall panel you were leaning against rose up to the ceiling. I’m fairly sure that ride helped realign the broken bones in my hand and wrist that year.

Now here we are, sitting at 40 and 51 respectively, and two concerts in a row is enough to knock us both back a day’s worth of energy. Not to mention the toll that eating concession food takes on the skin and body. I was all too happy to make a big salad for dinner tonight. I need my fiber, after all (or my gallbladder does, anyways).

I watch the crowds at those concerts, and the youngsters that look too young to be running around on their own (even though they’re certainly not), and I think of the people who are always wistfully saying they want to go back to that time when they were kids, and had all that energy and optimism for the future.

But I’m not one of those. I had a decent childhood, don’t get me wrong – nothing terribly traumatic or unbearable happened to me, but I’ve always been an “old soul”, and while I enjoyed my teen years well enough, I wasn’t ever really “present” in them. I was always looking to the future, wanting to hurry up and grow up so I could get on with life without the barriers of youth in my way. Even in college I identified more with the non-traditional students than my own peer group (probably because I was working every minute I wasn’t in class), so again, while I enjoyed my time in college, I have no desire to revisit it.

Getting my first real job (the job I have now, incidentally) and buying my first house (both events happened on the same day, which made that one of the absolute best days of my life) was the first time I finally felt like I was living in the present. Like I could slow down and just enjoy life as it came, instead of constantly looking toward the future. I had…arrived, I guess. And it’s been good ever since, despite the ups and downs we all have to weather sometimes.

I’m happy to be where I’m at, I guess is my point. It’s been a hard year this year, and I think we’ve still got more storms to weather before things clear up for a bit, but I’d still rather be 40 and dealing with adult problems than 18 all over again.

And now, the clock just struck midnight (literally), and due to some changes going on at work, I have to be there an hour early on Mondays starting tomorrow (today?). So a little extra sleep would be good, methinks.

If you’re feeling chatty…tell me – are you one of those people who’d like to go back and relive high-school/college again? Or are you just as happy to be an adult and enjoying life as it is now?


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Of Grapevines, Sheets & Colored Pencils…

Two things tripped me up quite literally this past weekend – grapevines and sheets. I ended up on my butt both times, and I have scrapes, bruises and sore spots all over my poor, abused body. This is a side-effect of something called “ambition” mixed with “distraction”. And it’s funny how every time it happens, I’m reminded of  one of my art teachers in college, who used to insist that we practice “mindfulness” whenever we were creating art.

As mindful as I can be when I want to (I have great ability to focus), he never saw anything at all remarkable about any of the artwork I did in his class, and I was always so very confused as to what it was, exactly, that I didn’t have. I still am, for that matter. I have many talents, but creating art from pencils, pens or paint is apparently somewhat beyond me. It’s probably the same indescribable “thing” I keep looking for in my writing. As I’m far more motivated to keep writing than to explore most other forms of artwork, perhaps someday I’ll find it on a digital page somewhere…

It’s so easy to judge a piece of art, whether painted or drawn or written or constructed, and say whether you like it or not. Whether it speaks to you or not. Whether it has that subliminal quality that takes it from paint or ink or lead or yarn or marble or words to something on a slightly different level.

But it’s nearly impossible to actually describe what that “something” you’re looking for is, and because of that, it’s also impossible to know whether you’ve put it into your own work or not. To add more complexity, other people may or may not see something you cannot see for yourself, in work that you’ve created.

“Art” is a very odd & subjective thing. Mindfulness, not so much.

Enter the colored pencils.

I scoffed when I saw that the trendy new “thing” for adults is coloring. Crayons, pencils, markers, and adult-oriented (no, not *that* adult, though I think you can get those too) coloring books filled with intricate designs and patterns to be filled in however we see fit.

I scoffed, because I am not five, but my fingers and the less-logical part of my brain seemed to think it looked like a very relaxing activity to both focus on and be distracted by at the same time. Like solving a jigsaw puzzle, with less brain-work. The only decisions to make would be what color to use next, and where to put said color. That’s it. No following a complex written pattern, no active reasoning or logic needed, just a very simple task of applying color to already drawn shapes.

So I overrode the logical, adult part of my brain and ordered a couple of coloring books for my husband and I to share, along with a couple sets of colored pencils (in case we both wanted to use them at the same time). And last week, hubby and I started coloring (again).

I’m still not sure how I feel about it, to be honest. It’s a fun, almost hypnotic craft project that does allow the mind to sort of just wander along as the pencils scratch over the paper. I like seeing the black and white patterns start to pop as the colors are laid down. There isn’t any right or wrong, and it’s a pleasant way to sort of just “reset” and relax for a bit. I like the smell of the pencils.

Still, I’m not sure whether it will be a long-term thing, or just a short-term trendy diversion. There are plenty of other relaxing things I want to do and get back to, now that day-to-day life is sort of stabilizing again. That is one thing about coloring though…the materials needed are very few, and the time commitment need only be whatever time you have. I can’t say that about most of my other hobbies.

I also can’t color while watching TV (not and actually get any coloring done). I can, however, knit and crochet, which I plan to get back to this week. Finally.


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On Newsletters, Concerts, & Rolling With It…

So…my newsletters are late this month (they’re supposed to be out today). All of them (four – me, my two alter-egos, and BSB). Because the serial story installments aren’t finished (one is, two are not). And the reason the one that is done hasn’t been sent out yet is because I have a mental quirk about doing things in groups, if they belong to a group. Like the newsletters. I do them all at the same time and then schedule them to send and that’s that for another month. Then again, I normally have the serial installments done close to the first part of each month, so I don’t have to worry about finishing them close to the newsletter deadline…

This month, we had some holidays, some family stuff, and a lot of unexpected dog health stuff to deal with all in the first two weeks of the month. Needless to say, when I had the time to write, I often didn’t feel like it, and when I finally forced myself, it was to get my weekly blog serials done.

Yes, I’m overbooked, and yes, I did it to myself. I do this *every single year* with the writing…and then I get behind, and I kick myself for doing it, and I swear I won’t do it again next year. And I begin the year with good intentions, and then I get an idea (or three), and it all just spirals downhill yet again.

Planning ahead would probably help this considerably, and I am a planner, which is what’s so weird about it. I am ultra-organized in pretty much every aspect of my life – except writing. I’m not really sure how to fix that, since I do *try* to organize that, and always end up just throwing my beautiful organization out the window…

The artsy side of me isn’t all that responsible, apparently. It really bugs the intellectual side of me, but reasoning with the artsy side is just…pointless, really. Which is also annoying.

Some of you may have noticed that this blog post is also late. The reason for that is far simpler – well, somewhat simpler, anyways. I could have written it Saturday, but I was having a bit of a “reflect and regroup” day. Sunday was crazy-busy, because hubby and I went to the Alice Cooper/Motley Crue concert here in town, so I had about four hours less than normal to get all of my normal Sunday housework done.

A few notes from the concert, including about a hour in line (it was sold out):

– “Oh my God – we forgot glitter!” (overheard in line…amusing, since I spent most of the day just waffling on whether or not to shower and put makeup on for the concert…I did, but it was a close call)

– “I was smart – brought my own beer.” (from a man in line a couple feet ahead of us, who promptly dropped his plastic cup and spilled all but the couple of sips he’d taken off the top before the line even started to move)
Our main entertainment venue has about the worst sound ever on a good day, but it was actually worse than usual last night, which sucks. The last time Alice was here, he played the Alberta Bair, a smaller local theater where our symphony performs, and it was spectacular. This time…the stage show was awesome, as always, but the sound wasn’t even close to what it should have been. I should note that I’ve heard it sound just fine on very rare occasions under the hands of master mixers – the Volbeat/Five Finger Death Punch concert was absolutely awesome, and the only different was the sound techs (and maybe their equipment?).
Alice Cooper’s stage show is never disappointing. I just wanted more (and better sound). And I wanted the girls in front of us to stop blocking my view, dammit.
Motley Crue’s sound was even worse – the mic (or the lead singer’s voice, not sure which) kept cutting out every third or forth word), for very muddled lyrics. Not that it mattered much – the music was mixed poorly and there really was no balance between the lyrics and music, so if you didn’t know the songs, it’s not like you were going to really “hear” them.
The drum-kit roller coaster was incredibly cool. So was the light show.
The pyrotechnics were…really loud, really bright, and made me feel old for wishing they would just stop already. My ears have since recovered (more or less), my eyes, not so much. Extra eye drops today, thankyouverymuch.
Skunky weed is so…not cool. Whoever was toking up near us last night had some of the nastiest smelling weed ever. Seriously, dude…if you’re gonna bring it out in public, splurge for something more mellow to share with the group. No one wants to smell that cheap (I assume/hope) crap at a concert.

On a possibly related last note: The Taco Bell nearest the concert venue was hoppin’ afterwards…

So…that was…well, it was fun, but not as much fun as I’d have liked it to be. And we had to adjust Lucy’s dinner/insulin schedule just a bit, which seems to have screwed with her blood sugar a little. Just gotta wait and see if it was actually the schedule change, or just her body still adjusting to the insulin. Either way, the hubby’s off work this week, so that will make a difference too. It’s pretty amazing how even the slightest thing can make a huge difference in blood sugar (rarely thought about unless diabetes is in the picture).

As for rollin’ with it…that’s exactly what I’m trying to do at the moment. There are a lot of changes that come with having a diabetic dog, and a lot of routines that have to be added and adjusted for. Hubby and I are also making changes in our workout/evening habits, which are good, but still create stress during the initial break-in period. There are changes afoot in my professional sphere (good changes, just…changes) as well, so among all of those, life has been pretty topsy-turvy lately, and I’m really not fond of topsy-turvy, overall. This past Saturday I was attempting to make some sense out of things, but didn’t get much farther than realizing it was going to be awhile before that could logically happen. And reminding myself that it hasn’t been topsy-turvy for all that long, and I can roll with the changing tides a while longer.

It seems so simple in theory, doesn’t it?


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On Genetics, Motivation & Habits…

In light of my Lucy-dog’s recent health issues, along with the news this past weekend that my dad’s lymphoma is back and worse than before (stage 3, tentatively diagnosed), I’ve been thinking about genetics. Aside from the fact that one was a lab and the other a German Shepherd, I have no idea what Lucy’s parent’s medical history is like, and I’m curious as to whether her parents had any of the problems she’s having. It’s not like you can really do anything to avoid having the pancreas stop working, and one side of hers stopped working 5 yrs ago when she wasn’t quite 3 yrs old. The other side stopped working this year, and no one quite knows why dogs get diabetes (and they almost always get type 1).

As for my dad, his mother got/developed Non-Hodgkins lymphoma presenting as a lump on her neck one week before her 50th birthday. They treated her with chemo, it came back every 5 yrs and she went another round of chemo, and finally after 15 yrs or so, it stopped coming back.

My dad developed the same thing presenting as…a lump on his neck one week before his 50th birthday (signals a very strong genetic component). It was treated by radiation (followed by hyperbaric chamber treatments to repair the damage to his jaw bone), and he’s been clear for…well, 10 yrs to this diagnosis, but certain symptoms point to the cancer maybe being present for a couple years prior.

My grandma was an oldest or only (can’t remember) child, my dad is the oldest in his family, and I’m the oldest in mine. Which means I have about 10 yrs left before we find out whether my mom’s genetics are strong enough to overpower my dad’s as far as this particular cancer goes, and if any of the healthy choices I’ve made and keep trying to make will have any effect at all on whether I end up with rebellious lymph cells or not.

Basically, it’s all a big crap-shoot.

Some days, it’s motivating. When I heard about my dad’s cancer coming back, my knee-jerk reaction was to review my diet & exercise and adjust accordingly for optimal health. I have been rather lax with both lately, and while I’m never going to be one of those people who completely eschews cookie dough and the occasional coke, I absolutely have some room for easy improvement. It would be stupid not to, really – I mean, I have ample warning about what could and may well happen to me when I hit 50, and even if I can’t stop my cells from going bonkers, I can make sure that I’m healthy enough to fight it if it does happen. There is no downside to living healthier.

But I also have those days we all do, when I just look at the genetic history and think to myself, “What’s the point? It’s gonna get me anyways, I might as well have that big plate of pasta or the too-big piece of cheesecake, or skip tonight’s workout.” Destructive thinking that is always a no-win situation, but we all indulge occasionally (thought-wise and physically).

The trick is, of course, to have more motivated days than destructive days – sometimes easier said than done, especially when there are other things going on in life. In the absence of motivation, of course, the second-best thing is habit – that thing that tells us to get up from our desks a few times a day, or get up off the couch every night whether we want to or not, just because “it’s what we do”.

I really need better habits. I’ve developed a morning yoga habit, and I keep up with that faithfully – I really enjoy starting my day that way. You wouldn’t think anything could possibly get in the way that early in the morning (I do it before my husband even gets up and the dogs go back to bed after breakfast), but last week, it got trickier with Lucy’s new insulin and blood testing needs. I still managed, but it was tight, and I might have to rework my morning routine a bit to give myself a little more breathing room. I’m determined to hang onto that habit though.

Break times at work, nightly treadmill and total gym sessions, drinking more water, making better carb choices for meals…all of that can be turned into a habit. And they should be, just like ordering iced tea in a restaurant instead of coke (even though I abhor restaurant tea – it’s still slightly more interesting than plain water).

No, I’m still not going to pass up the occasional root beer float, or pizza on Thursdays, or donuts on Sunday mornings. But the motivation to create these new habits won’t last forever (though it might be longer this time – looks like my dad’s got a lot of chemo ahead of him), so I need to get on it while the motivation is there, in order to keep the habits when the motivation fades.

I may not be able to beat genetics, but I have the opportunity to lesson the negative impact they could have on my life. Seems kind of stupid not to take advantage…


 

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The Lucy Saga Continues…

Last week, I mentioned that Lucy-dog went blind, and we were taking her to the vet on Tuesday. Well, we saw three different vets – or I did (Lucy saw two). The first one diagnosed possible uveitis (and infection/inflammation of her eyes), and diabetes. The second vet got me set up to start injecting insulin on Friday. The third vet diagnosed and prescribed steroids for the uveitis, which by then (Sat) had gotten worse and put Lucy in a lot of pain.

So, Lucy is now on insulin for diabetes, and prednisone for a really bad eye infection, and I’m trying to monitor my poor dog as she deals with both meds (incidentally, the corticosteroids raise blood sugar while the insulin is trying to lower it, so color me confused as to what symptoms I should be more worried about when I see something concerning). It will be a lot easier once the glucometer I ordered gets here…hopefully by the time I get home from work today. Then at least I’ll know what’s going on with her blood sugar levels, which will help me either rest easier, or be firm with the vet about her insulin dosage.

There’s a whole bunch of info I’ve been sifting through online, and other things the vets gave me to think about that have me concerned, but we’ll see. Honestly, I’m tired of it all, and just want it to go away. But I’m not tired of Lucy, and I don’t want her to go away, so we’ll see where it leads. Later this week, she’ll have to spend a day at the vet’s for a blood glucose curve – where they get her blood glucose reading every 2 hours to see how the insulin is working and adjust the dose from there.

At least she doesn’t even feel the shots. Being blind, she can’t see them either, so they don’t bother her, which is a godsend. And she is feeling better, so that’s something. I think the steroids have helped more than the insulin, honestly.

I wish I had something more scintillating to talk about, but this has pretty much been my whole world lately, outside of work anyways. We did watch “Big Hero 6” the other night, which was kind of odd in the way that they did it, but overall a good animated film. And we started “Kingsmen” last night, but it ended up being too long to finish in the time we had for it, so we’ll finish that tonight. The part we’ve seen is good, if a bit slow in spots.

We started season 5 of Covert Affairs too, but it’s so dark, I’m not sure we’re going to continue with it. We both miss the light-hearted banter between the characters, and that seems to just be gone. I hate when that happens.

This week, more vet stuff, more dog monitoring, and hopefully more improvement. I need to get back to writing too – had to set it aside because I just couldn’t focus with everything going on last week, but now I’m behind on serials, and I really do need to get caught back up on those. I ended up taking more time off work than I wanted to last week for vet visits & just general Lucy stuff, and that put me behind there as well. So…catching up is the name of the game this week.


 

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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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