You know how it feels to walk headlong into a gust of wind so
strong you really have to lean into it in order to walk?
That’s kind of how I feel trying to keep Apollo from playing or
doing anything that might pull on the stitches from his neuter last
Thursday. The vet said 7-10 days of seriously reduced activity. We’re
counting down, I tell you what. It’s like giving both these dogs a
new toy (each other – they love to wrestle and play tag), and then
telling them both they can’t play with it. But it’ll be over soon
enough, and they can get back to the business of burning energy like
they bought it at Costco.
It’s just as well I had all this extra vacation time to burn,
since there would have been no way to keep them “quieter” if
someone wasn’t home with them. I’ll be home another two days, and
then hubby will work from home Weds, the last day before Apollo will
be able to resume his normal activities.
That gives them only two days home alone this week too, which is a
good thing as well. We switched our lunch break to an hour later so
they’ll only be alone for 4 hours at a time, instead of 3 in the
morning and 5 in the afternoon. Until Apollo matures out of puppy
stage, that might help him to not be so destructive. We’ll see.
As far as the landscaping goes, our plants are in, and our lights
are ordered, so things are moving along! It’s muddy out there today,
due to rain this past weekend, but I’m sure our landscaper will get
going as soon as things dry out a bit more.
So what am I doing with my vacation days while the dogs sleep?
Puppy proofing is a main thing – clearing all flat surfaces of
papers and things that would be fun for a nearly-year-old pup and a
high-energy boxer girl to grab and spread all over the place. I
started on the dining room table yesterday, and will finish that and
move to the kitchen counter today.
Tomorrow I’d like to get started on our taxes. Super-fun. Not. But
they have to be done.
And yes, I did break the rules and take the dogs for a short walk
yesterday. After breaking up play sessions and trying to stop zoomies
around the yard more than twice, it was either that, or they would
have insisted on some potentially more damaging “energy-release”
mechanism. There’s only so much I can do to keep all that energy in
check…and walking is the least damaging of the activities they
really want to engage in.
We’ll go again tonight for another short jaunt. I’m keeping a
close eye on his stitches/incision to make sure everything looks okay
and keeps healing like it should.
Everyone dealing with the time change okay? Me neither, but I
suppose we don’t have a choice. Habit is a hard thing to break, and
humans are not real great with change (I know I’m certainly not).
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much time I waste
thinking (bemoaning) about how much stuff I don’t have time to do.
An argument could be made that I could do more stuff if I didn’t
spend time whining about not having time to do everything, and that’s
certainly somewhat valid, but my complaint is also valid, simply
because I want to do far more than anyone (not just me) could
conceivably get done in one day.
The problem then is not that I don’t have enough time, but
rather I have too many things I want to do. A blessing and a curse,
as the saying goes.
When I was younger, my priorities were most often:
Things that make me money
Things that make me happy
Things that keep me healthy
Now that I’m older, I had to switch that
Things that make me money
Things that keep me healthy
Things that make me happy
There is some overlap in those areas, of
course – I do like my job, but I also wish I could make money doing
things that make me “happier”. As far as staying healthy goes,
enough sleep, eating well (instead of just eating fast), and making
sure my body stays in working, movable order instead of
stiffening/swelling until I’m at one with the couch has to be a
priority just so I can keep doing things that make me happy well
after I can ditch the monetary requirement.
In any case…there’s never enough time, and I whine/think about
it far to often, rather than just accepting it and making the most of
the time I do have.
I need to stop that. Stop fighting, and keep moving forward.
Are you a “waste time whining about time” sort of person? Or
do you do what you can do, and call it good? Is there a happy medium
in there somewhere?
The sun is shining, the weather is beautiful (at least for now), there’s a bobcat in our front yard because the landscapers we hired last fall are finally starting work today, and…there’s a puppy in the house.
No, not a tiny puppy, thank goodness. But a ten-month old whirlwind now named Apollo who has more energy than hubby, Athena and myself put together. Athena loves him, he loves Athena, and that is what matters most. Also, he’s adorable, which is going to come in very handy for him while he’s learning things like “stay out of the roses” and “don’t eat that”.
Not to mention “Off” – which he’s learning quickly as my internal organs try to heal from where he punched them in his jumpy eagerness his first few days here (he’s much better about not jumping now, and will be much more polite about that posthaste).
It’s been a long time since we had a puppy in the house, and that wasn’t originally what I was looking for. But, he needed a new home, Athena needed a new bestie, and it all just sort of worked out.
Apollo is an American Staffordshire Terrier, a breed that is part of the unofficial “pitbull” group of dog breeds. He’s a bit bigger than Murphy, who was an American Pit Bull Terrier – same group, wider size-range, slightly different features, very similar personalities. His previous owner did a bang-up job of raising him, and took fabulous care of him, so Apollo doesn’t have any of the baggage a lot of rescues tend to bring with them, which is nice for us. He’s a nearly blank slate, and a very quick learner who is going to just be a stellar companion all around. We’re incredibly lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to have him join our family.
Though I will be glad when he’s old enough to let me sleep in on the weekends again. I miss that already.
It’s unfortunate that he’s only been with us a week, and I can’t really take any time off right now to make sure he’s okay with all the workers and equipment that will be in the front yard for the next month. We’ll cross our fingers and hope for the best. He’s pretty resilient and smart, so hopefully he’ll roll with it fairly easily. The week after, I have some time off to finish my back tattoo, and he’ll be getting neutered on the day I get that done, so we can spend the next few days after healing up together.
The hubby and I have also started cleaning up the backyard, getting ready to put a gazebo cover on the patio, and spiff things up a bit out there so it’s potentially usable in the summer heat. Since the new front yard should take care of itself, we can take more care with the backyard, and make that a great space to hang out and play with the dogs. Maybe I’ll even be able to grill out there, with the covered space to keep it cooler. We’ll see!
The maple tree out back is budding out, and the roses will be doing the same by the end of the month. Things are coming back to life, and I’m optimistic that it’s gonna be a good summer.
Last Wednesday, we said goodbye to the Murphy-dog. I’m still not one-hundred percent sure what happened, because he was doing better, and then just sort of crashed, but due to several other health issues he’s been dealing with, we opted not to treat this time, and instead had him euthanized. Thanks to our amazing veterinary team, it was quick, peaceful, and I was able to be with the Murph right up to the end, even with pandemic precautions still in place.
Murphy was one of the best dogs we’ve ever had, bar none. Sweet, kind, independent, stubborn, smart, lazy, loud and seriously goofy. There will never be another quite like him, and I’m so glad we got to have him in our lives for the last five or six years.
As we all do, I deal with the grief and
letting go in my own way. The day of is the hardest, and the next few
days after a mixture of loss and guilt and second-guessing.
Distractions are welcome from that point on, so things can be dealt
with in small bites rather than big gulps. As I move through the next
few weeks, I’ll remember the small moments as I move through my days,
a sort of ongoing tribute as time passes. And much like Murphy’s head
prints in the snowbank outside my back door (he loved to go out and
rub his face in the snow, which always made me laugh), the pain will
gradually fade and the memories will make me smile when some small,
everyday thing brings them to mind.
After awhile, when you’ve lived and
loved enough, this sort of ongoing random tribute happens a lot. I’ve
said goodbye to seven dogs now, and I still remember each of them
often, for specific things they liked and did and disliked. They are
each always with me in spirit. I love that.
For now, it’s just Athena here with us,
and she’s dealing with the loss in her own way. The happy howling is
on hold (I miss that!), and she’s quiet, unsure. But like the rest of
us, she’ll get through this, and soon enough, she’ll have a new
friend to bond to and play with. Sometimes it takes awhile to find
the right fit, but we’ll start looking this week.
Life will go on, as it always does. Happiness will prevail, as it always should.
Hair is such an oddly complex thing, mentally speaking. It’s one
of the first things people see when they look at us, and an integral
part of our personal identity. Many of us hang on to a certain style
or color for years just because we can’t see ourselves any other
way, and others of us cycle through hairstyles and cuts like seasonal
Our hair often defines us, either by style or cut or color, and while we’re all told not to judge other’s appearances, for some reason, we generally do just that, at least at first. I’m betting that actual first impressions are often made subconsciously, before we even realize what we’re doing, which is probably an instinctual/survival thing.
I was thinking about this and how it relates to my writing (or
should), and I’m annoyed and kind of embarrassed to say that…I
really don’t know, because this is the first time I’ve given any
thought to it. And that’s really not a good answer, because given
how important hair is to real people, I think it should have at least
a similar amount of importance to my characters and decisions they
make. It certainly will going forward, for sure.
I’ve been growing my own hair out for about eight and a half months now, and it’s gone from a short pixie cut to just barely shoulder length at the back (the sides and top layers are still pretty short). It’s a process that has included a lot of ups and downs, both physically and mentally, but the experience isn’t so different from when I first cut it off. I still have days when I just want to chop it all back off, and days when I wish it were mid-back length, and days when I feel like it’s fine just the way it is (not often at the moment – it needs a tad bit more length to pull the flips into nice waves for that).
When I decided to grow my hair out, several people assumed I’d
also be letting it go natural too (salt and pepper with a lot of
pepper on the bottom is my “natural” color now). I wasn’t ready
yet, so I said ’no’, and have spent a lot of time since trying to
figure out how to successfully dye my roots, not just in the front,
but also in the back so I can pull my hair up without white showing.
Alas, I finally figured out that not only is it nearly impossible to
color all my roots every time, but they grow out so quickly that I’d
really have to touch them up weekly to avoid them showing at all
against my dark brown/chestnut dye job. Also, my hair is thinner than
it used to be in some spots, and while it doesn’t stand out so much
against the white roots, it’s a rather stark contrast with my
darker dye when my scalp peeks through.
Needless to say, there’s really only two good, easy-maintenance
choices since I have so many more white roots than I had when I
started dying my hair. One is to cut my hair off again, so that it’s
easy enough to just dye the whole thing every three weeks, and since
there’s only one real style to that, it doesn’t matter if the
underside gets missed.
Or I can grow out the henna/indigo as I’m growing my hair longer,
and let my natural color take over. That’s the choice that feels good
to me right now, so that’s what I’m going with.
I wish I’d been ready to make that decision last year when I
stopped getting my hair cut. I’d have pretty much grown out the dye
by now, and the process would have been a lot easier. I was already
dealing with flippy, annoying hair, so different colors would have
just been one more thing.
But I wasn’t ready then, and this isn’t something you can
really rush, so I’m starting the color grow-out process now. It
could take as long as two years, or quite a bit less if I decide to
chop my hair off as soon as the gray is long enough for a shaggy
pixie. We’ll see how long I can stand that sharp demarcation line
that will be evident on top of my head soon enough. I could just dye
the top/most visible roots with a color conditioner too, and I might
do that, depending. I just need to see what it looks like when a
decent amount of the roots have grown out, and for that…well, it
just takes time and patience.
I don’t regret dying my hair for the last…12(?) years or so. I
think that and the short hair cut gave me a lot of confidence, and
people definitely treated me differently than they had before (that
was a lot of what gave me the confidence), which certainly worked to
my favor, at least professionally. I think it was very attractive on
me, and made me look a lot more outgoing and approachable than I
actually am, which served me very well.
But, I feel like I’ve accomplished what I needed to with that
look, and that maybe I can afford to be more authentic to my original
sense of style and color now (more natural, low-maintenance). I like
longer hair (I can always put long hair up, can’t take short hair
down), and while the salt and pepper look will undoubtedly make me
look older, I’ve looked younger than my age for my whole life, and it
might be refreshing to have people not question my age or experience
for a change.
It’s going to be another long wait as my roots grow out and
look…well, not great while they do. But, a lot of women did the
same thing when the salons closed last year, so I’m a year behind the
trend is all (story of my life). I think it’ll be a change for the
better, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the new ratio of white
to brown to black will be when the dye is finally gone.
Updates here and there, as the grow-out progresses. Another adventure begins, and with it, a character or two in a story who has to deal with gray roots, demarcation lines and conflicting emotions about hair.
You know how when you set up a bunch of new routines that are
almost guaranteed to be successful just because you’ve done the
research and testing and everything is finally ready to fall into
place and then…it’s like the universe knows you’re on the cusp
of something really, really good, and takes it as a challenge, and
suddenly in the space of a few hours everything falls apart due to
one completely random event that has to take precedence over
That’s how my week started last week.
Monday was a horrible day, from the minute I crawled out of bed,
and just kept getting worse, culminating in a trip to the emergency
vet after work so the Murph could get diagnosed with “old dog
vestibular disease”, which is basically the worse case of vertigo
you can possibly imagine.
That led to two days at home making sure he was on the mend and
safe to leave with Athena the Cyclone. Thankfully he was able to walk
again within around 16 hours or so, but it was shaky (literally) for
a good while there (and still is occasionally).
Even so, my new routines have been proving themselves mostly
worthy, though I’m not getting as much writing done during my late
writing time as I’d like (despite moving it up by half an hour).
I’m just not awake/alert enough at that time, and I need to figure
out how to wake myself up enough to get a good hour’s worth of
writing in, while not keeping myself up much longer than that. But
otherwise, things are working. Which is a nice change.
I didn’t meet my publishing deadline for this month, but considering I didn’t set the deadlines until mid-Jan, I’m going to cut myself some slack on that, and focus on meeting February’s deadline. I have a plan, I have motivation, and I’m pretty confident that everything should work the way I’ve set it up. I just need to show up at the keyboard and do the work.
In non-writing related news, I’m definitely getting better at dying my longer hair, and it’s getting to a place where I’m going to need to get it cut soon. Which means picking out a new hair stylist. I was hoping to hold out until we were closer to the end of the pandemic, just because it seems like a bad idea to have someone who can’t see the bottom half of my face figure out how to cut/style my hair, but…well, we’ll see.
I also figured out my hip issue and have almost completely
rehabbed it. Huzzah! Now to just keep getting my body into better
shape, and strengthen the muscles in that area to protect against it
happening again. That’s the key, really. No being lazy, no skipping
workout sessions. It’s important.
The only other thing really bothering me at the moment is my eye,
and that is going to require a very up close and personal exam, new
glasses, and probably a referral to a cornea specialist. I’m still
trying to wait that one out, but it’s probably contributing more to
my productivity problems than I realize, and it might be better to
take the risk and make the appointment sooner rather than later.
It’s a new month, and despite everything, I feel optimistic about what the next few weeks have in store. Here’s hoping.
Changing routines is hard. I am trying rather valiantly to switch things up, with moderate success, but it’s slow going considering I have to rewrite neuro-pathways (essentially muscle-memory for the brain) and also actual muscle memory/kinetic energy. But! I was able to get back to the office at 11pm every night this past week, and after comparing the time it takes me to transcribe with the time it takes to just write, and the editing time required after each…I was able to determine that for me, writing the initial draft instead of dictating it, and then transcribing it later is definitely more efficient.
So, no more dictation, though I may use that just for capturing random thoughts to set the scene or details I want to include later. We’ll see.
It also means (given the editing component) that I have a lot of rewriting to do from last year. *sigh* But I can use my dictations as outlines of sorts, so all isn’t lost.
In other news, I’m trying to figure out how to motivate myself to keep up with daily/weekly chores so small issues don’t become big issues. Like the fact that I had to clean out my fridge yesterday and it was completely gross. Or that I routinely let non-dishwasher-safe dishes pile up in one of my sinks, and they sit there for weeks simply because I hate hand-washing dishes so I don’t do them right when they’re “generated”. And there’s the recycling that I don’t take out to the garage, so then I have empty cans and bottles piling up on my kitchen counters making it more difficult to cook.
Laziness is the only reason I don’t take care of these things right away, before that pack of celery becomes goo on a fridge shelf, or before there are so many cans on my counter I don’t have room for a cutting board. I know it needs to be done, I just choose not to take the 5 minutes to do it because I don’t feel like it, or I’m too tired, or just unmotivated.
I’m not sure how to motivate myself to do these things right away instead of waiting until they get to the point of no return (which then requires several hours of time to catch up rather than 5 minutes). I know routine is part of it, so that even when my brain doesn’t feel like it, kinetic energy and muscle memory just pull me into getting it done. I rely on that a lot for daily things, and it works well, once it’s coded into my brain. Re-coding though is…often problematic.
But I need to do something. Keeping up on these things gives me more time overall, and that is what I covet most…more time not doing housekeeping or cleaning chores. I also really hate cleaning veggie goo and moldy leftovers out of my refrigerator.
Am I trying to change up too much, too quickly, between the writing and household stuff? Possibly. I’m impatient with the fact that I can’t make quicker progress, mostly because I’m finally motivated to fix these problems, and it’s stressful going through the change. So I’m anxious to get through the transitional period and to the other side where this stuff just “happens” without so much mental effort.
Alas, “extra mental effort” seems to be the theme of the past 12 months and continues on. So I don’t know why I expect personal growth to be any different.
I did make some monthly goals for writing/publishing, and a plan for reaching those. I may have made them too late to hit this month, but it’s still a solid plan going forward. So there’s that.
I’ve been working on rehabbing my hip too, with good progress. Slow and steady with that…Friday was the first day I could do three sun salutation sets with zero pain. So this week, I start strength training for the muscles in and around my hips, in hopes of keeping any future damage to a minimum. Yet another change where patience is required (or a lot of damage could occur).
And my hair has hit another awkward point of growth…I really am going to have to find a new stylist soon, if only to even up the back and then sort of calm down the flippy-ness of the upper layers. That will be a February project, I guess.
Change and patience. Patience and change. Two things I am quite weary of at this point, but with enough patience and time, things will stabilize and get easier. It sometimes takes awhile, but they always do.
For this first Fiction Friday (Fiction Friday continued? Whatevs…), I thought I’d share a quick bite I wrote for the writing class I took in December. Partly because it’s about snow, and we’ve had virtually none this year. I miss snow. *sigh* Enjoy, and Happy Friday!
tucked his chin and nose down into the thick woolen scarf his
grandmother had knit years ago, and fought to steal a full breath
against the cruel wishes of the icy sideways snow that pelted his
skin with microscopic needles. Tiny pellets tapped at his rough
canvas coat, and stung his legs through not-thick-enough acid-washed
jeans. He hadn’t wanted to bother with heavy boots and thick socks
for the drive into town, a decision he regretted as he dragged one
tennis shoe after the other through two-foot high drifts, his feet
already numb and clumsy.
old Toyota had gone on strike in front of the Meadowlark County
Courthouse, an imposing, three-story square stone building to the
north only just visible through the fierce flurry biting and
whistling at Nick’s ears. A single illuminated globe hanging from a
small stone awning cast a wide, reflected glow over the stately
stairs and double wooden doors that led inside. It was the tallest
building in Juniper Falls, and also one of the least likely to be
populated on a Sunday.
town Montana had seemed like a good idea last spring. He leaned into
the storm and trudged forward to forge a path where he thought the
sidewalk went, wishing the cell service didn’t suck.
California was probably nice right about now. Hawaii, too. No storms
howling like a wolf through the night, just waiting for its prey to
nod off before making a final attack.
his head to the south just slightly, Nick peered through the ice
flakes on his eyelashes across the road at the shadowy outlines of
buildings almost completely hidden behind the gauzy static. One
church-shaped with a prominent steeple, another flat and squat like
an oversized shipping box. Both dark, without even a curl of smoke to
wish on. Closed for the winter.
cold wind-wolf snapped at his head and he stumbled, falling sideways
into a deep, soft bank that cradled his body as he sunk deep and
rolled to his back. It was quieter inside, the cold not so sharp, the
smell of fresh ice reminiscent of snowcones. He stuck out his tongue,
tasted the snow-slush, not so cold as he’d been just seconds before.
should get up, keep moving. Someone would be at the bar.
Words for the Week: sigh, social, depressed, frustration, birthday
Yes, only five words this week…I missed a couple of days. Remembering to choose a word on Friday and Saturday nights when I’m not reading/writing may take some time.
Last week was very frustrating just due to the slow speed at which things I needed to get done were getting done. But I did fight to make progress, and the little I did make was good and solid, so there’s that.
I turned 46 yesterday, and it’s the first time I can remember that I actually felt like I aged over the previous 12 months. I think the near constant stress and change of pandemic and election year living, coupled with my body going deeper into perimenopause certainly contributed to that. And then there’s my stupid hip which has been hurting for the last six weeks or so, and miraculously fixed itself Saturday night (a somewhat painful process that felt like a tendon or ligament slid fire-like over my hip bone to get back to where it needed to be). Hopefully that’s on the mend – I’ll be careful with it for awhile and work on building up the muscles in that area to stabilize, if I can.
I’m pretty sure I’ve been low in iodine, as a couple sheets of seaweed daily seems to be helping with some other problems I’ve been having. Problems or changes, I guess, depending on how you want to look at them. Either way, I’m game for whatever helps me feel the most normal, relatively speaking.
I’m still trying to figure out a good writing workflow, and that’s frustrating me more than pretty much anything at the moment. Mostly because the workflow I have, which is to dictate on my way to and from lunch at noon and then transcribe during my late-night writing hour feels like it’s just too slow. I don’t really feel like I’m making enough progress, which is annoying and frustrating.
All this means I need to either figure out how to be more awake at that late hour, or I need to figure out how to prioritize my writing for earlier in the evening. I’d prefer not to do that, because that’s my unwind and relax time with the dogs and hubby, but…if I want to be on track for the 10 year retirement plan, I need to step up my publishing game. And to do that, I need not only to write, but to finish things on a reasonable timeline.
I think for this week, I’ll try getting off the couch at 10pm (instead of 10:30 after the news, or 10:45 after Colbert’s monologue), getting the kitchen cleaned and making sure I have a full hour to write before midnight. It means skipping the news, but…do I really need to watch it when I get news and weather all day long via the internet? I like it as it’s kind of a “end-of-day” signal for my brain, but it’s certainly not necessary. And it’s the least difficult thing to cut out of my evening – I still get dinner, gaming and TV with the hubby, and a walk/time with the dogs.
So, that’s the plan. Alarms are set. Here’s to more words this week!
Words for the week: Perseverance, Begin, Success, Intention, Pain, Content, Confusion
It’s been a crazy week, and I’ll admit my focus got seriously fractured round about Wednesday the 6th. I’d like to believe it’ll get better (and it will, eventually), but I suspect it’s going to be a month or so before things quiet down on the political front. Yes, I’m following, even though I don’t discuss politics online. This is a turning point for our government and country, so of course I’m paying attention. We all should be.
I’ve been off work since last Thursday, burning extra vacation hours and healing the latest session on my Medusa back tattoo. Friday I took basically the whole day to write out and redo all of my routines, in order to accommodate my yearly goals. I still need to create schedules and deadlines for my writing, so I have an idea of how much I need to get done in a day, week, month, etc. And then…then I should be ready to move forward, finally. I feel good about that.
My writing class is done, and I’m itching to put my new knowledge into practice, but I signed up for several more that I can take at my own pace. So I need to figure out when to slot those in as well. I’m excited to take them, and expand my knowledge.
I’ve been easily distracted lately, which is probably a sign of both the times and hormone imbalance. I don’t think women give themselves enough leeway for changes in their bodies, because we’re taught to just “tough it out” and keep acting like nothing’s wrong. Thing is, even if nothing’s wrong and it’s just a normal up or down, I don’t think we should have to deny who we are and the physical challenges that come with it. My body is aging and it’s going to do that whether I want it to or not – why can’t I just acknowledge that some days, I’m not going to get as much done as I’d like, and *that’s okay*? I need to work on that – on giving myself permission to have an “off” day here and there, when my brain isn’t focusing as sharply as I’d like it to.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I want for the future – what my goals are for ten years from now. I like my job and the steady paycheck/insurance/pension that comes with it, but I freely admit that the only thing I’ve ever truly wanted to be was a full-time writer. I’ve never thought I could make enough money solely as a writer, but in ten years, I won’t be eligible for social security, but I will be eligible to take county retirement early, because I started with the county so young. Given that, and the fact that I’ve found a way to learn writing that is giving me new confidence, I think I’ll work towards the goal of being established enough as a writer in ten years to retire from the county and write full-time. I’ll be 55 then, and that seems like a good point in life to make a major career change to self-employment, barring any major issues that come up between now and then. And hubby will be either retired or ready to retire by then, so we could retire together (easier for traveling!).
Ten years seems like a good amount of time for planning and preparing for such a big step. So that’s the first goal deadline I’m setting. Now I’d better work backwards, and set the goals and deadlines that will get me to that point on time. Goals are good, and this one’s been in the works since I was 16 years old. It’s good to feel like the dream might actually become reality.