Chasing Inspiration

Monday, September 28, 2015

The War of the Walnuts


  1. Summer is fading into autumn and the weather is starting to become bearable again. 
  2. The black walnut trees in the yard have shed all their nuts. These are messy and attract squirrels, who make them even messier.
  3. I'm not working which means I have the time to assist a dear friend who is recovering from surgery. I wouldn't have been able to be there for her if I was still working. 
We have two enormous black walnut trees in our smallish yard. They are fantastic for creating shade along the southwestern corner of the house and the deck, which makes being outside fabulous for someone like me who is sun sensitive. 

The downside is that black walnut trees, while pretty and excellent shade trees, are messy. They drop leaves and twigs all the time. And the walnuts. Did you know that a walnut is the seed of an ugly green fruit? I have the proof!


See that bucket? That is a gallon sized bucket filled to the two thirds mark with walnuts. From the beginning of August until mid-September we pick up at least this much every other day. Often we fill the bucket. What we don't pick up and throw away the squirrels eat. They peel off the green skin and the white fruit (fruit that turns black as soon as it makes contact with the air). They don't sweep up their leavings and neatly toss them in the trash. No, they leave these bits of walnut fruit and shells every where. In the grass. On the driveway. On the deck. In the rain gutters. In the pots I use for plants. Every. Freaking. Where! 


I used to just itch with the need to pick up every last bit of walnut. Do you know how difficult that is? Impossible. But I would try. I would rake on the days the husband didn't mow. I would even attempt to be proactive and pick the nuts right off the trees. It didn't matter how hard I tried, the nuts would continue to fall and the squirrels would continue to make a mess of things. Eventually, I stopped. I continue to pick up the nuts that have fallen, but I no longer attempt to pick up every single bit of walnut from the deck and yard. 

At first, this felt like giving up. I don't like to give up. I am a pit bull when it comes to something I am passionate about, or something I've started. I have to see it through. I have to give it my all. Anything less is admitting defeat. This attitude is what helped me be a functioning adult for over twenty years while battling fibromyalgia. It's also a contributing factor in why I am now unable to work because of the fibromyalgia. That tenacity, it's a double edged sword. 

Letting go of my desire to have a neat and tidy yard during walnut season wasn't giving up. It was adapting my expectations so I could pour my energies into something more worthwhile. So the yard was going to be Disneyland for squirrels for two months out of the year. It keeps the dog entertained. It's nature doing what nature does. And the walnuts aren't going completely to waste. 

The walnuts now represent the ability to adjust expectations. And to mindfully consider just where on the scale of importance something stands. Sometimes I get so worked up about something that is minor. Do I really need to expend all that time and energy on something that isn't truly worth my time? And won't really matter down the road? 

Walnut season is over. We can reclaim the deck and the yard. We can go outside without fear of nuts falling on our heads. Sure, it was inconvenient for a time and required we gather nuts we neither desire or use. But those two trees are still a gift and because we are a little less diligent in picking up the nuts, the wildlife benefits. Velcro Dog benefits. Sometimes looking at a problem as though it is a benefit is a good thing. 

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

A Younger Me


  1. I've said it before, but it is worth repeating. Air conditioning is a gift from the gods. I'm so thankful we updated and resized our AC unit when we first started renovating the house. I can actually function during heat waves. 
  2. Libraries. Why? I do love owning books, and would live in a bookstore if I could figure out how to manage that. Since books are currently a non-essential purchase, I have been making great use of our library's paper and ebook offerings. 
  3. Rob Thomas! If you haven't listened to his latest album, I insist you find it and do so immediately. 
I have a journal that I write in almost daily. Things I'm grateful for. My fibromyalgia log. Observances. Hopes. Dreams. These days they are filled with the mundane as I try to get a handle on my health issues. These are a far cry from the journals I kept in high school and college. These were works of art filled to overrunning with longing poetry and existential angst. I have journaled in one way or another for most of my life. 

I was cleaning the guest room this weekend and found a box of old journals from college. That was over 20 years ago. As I handled the fabric covers, I wondered if I would recognize my younger self in those pages. College was both amazing and devastating. And the mix started the foundation on which I have built my life. 

I looked at those journals for several minutes before setting them aside to continue cleaning. I'm easily sidetracked by shiny objects, and the fact that I was able to set these bits of shiny aside had me patting myself on the back. I was also unsure if I wanted to open those doors of memory. Like I said, college was both amazing and devastating. It has been a long time since I was that girl, and even thinking of reading those journals felt a bit like prying into something private. 

In the end I ended up packing the journals away. They are a part of my history. Part of who I was and a part of who I am. I remember college with an adult's eye, can see the heartache and think "phew, those were close getaways." I have the luxury of looking back with 20 years of knowledge and life lived between myself and the girl who poured her heart on on those pages. She deserves my respect and my compassion. I'm not sure I would be able to give that to her right now, knowing what I know now. So the journals have been gently packed away. It was a little bit like grieving and letting go, while celebrating who I am now. 

The guest room is clean. My heart is light. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

In Which We Say Buh Bye Pity Party


  1. The rain brought with it cooler, less humid weather. This week is supposed to be cooler than the last few. I'm glad. Fibro and heat/humidity don't mix.
  2. I figured out what was draining the battery on my phone! Thank goodness it was an app I don't use so deleting it was not a difficult decision.
  3. Inspiration. I'm writing again. In fits and starts, but I'm writing. I never realize how much I love it until I take a long break.
It's cloudy and grey out and I'm not complaining! If it were winter, I would be crawling the walls due to weeks upon weeks of grey, cold weather. In the summer, a break from the heat is more than welcome. The temperature dropped with the rain and the dog and I have spent our day tromping in and out of the house. He looks at me like I'm nuts, but once he's outside, he loves running in the wet grass. And barking at the squirrels that take up residence in the walnut trees. 

I don't like to complain a lot, but I hurt. I have lived in a constant state of flare - recovery - flare for the last month and a half and I'm tired of it. Even now I am climbing out of a flare. Everything takes longer. Some basic things I should be able to accomplish I just can't. Last week I was thrilled that I could even read a book! So I overdid things and read three books. Romantic fiction. All delightful in their own way. The husband asked me if I needed glasses. This could be part of the problem. So I have booked an appointment for next month to get my eyes checked. And I have booked an appointment for him, as well. He hasn't had his eyes checked since he got glasses seven years ago. Who does that? My husband, that's who.

I'm in pain. My brain is fogged over. I think I missed paying a bill last month. I feel like I'm lazy, but I know I'm not. I'm trying to do the best I can within the limits my health creates. Oh, and I found out that if I don't have an autoimmune disease, I have all the markers for one. Great. Just what I need. One. More. Thing. I guess that taking a few months off to heal and recover before getting back to the workforce is off the table. 

/pity party

Instead of focusing on all that is wrong, I am trying to be mindful and focus on the here and now. And to celebrate what I can do. Yesterday I couldn't have done the library if my life depended on it. Today I was able to get two loads done. YES! Last week I wasn't able to take the dog for walks every day. This week we are two for two. FIST PUMP! This weekend I was unable to run errands by myself due to vertigo. Today I got gas and dropped some items off at the post office. By myself. TOUCHDOWN DANCE! 

I may not be where I was a few years ago, or even last year since things appear to have gotten worse. But I'm alive and I have a dog and a husband who love me, a house that is relatively easy to manage, and friends who make me smile. All in all, when I think about things, I have a good life. So shove over, pity party, there's a new sheriff in town! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Trumpets and Vines


  1. Sweet summer corn grilled over charcoal. Yum! 
  2. For all that's wrong with it, health care coverage. Without our coverage I wouldn't be able to afford some of the meds I take to manage my fibro.
  3. Morning glories. Yes, they may edge into weed territory and without hardcore management they will take over every damn thing, but they are beautiful trumpets of happiness and I love them. 
Every April I promise myself I'm going to get serious about planting a garden. I dream of vegetables, berries, and a riot of flowers that bloom from late spring until the first killing frost. And then life happens and I'm lucky if I get a planter or hanging basket going for the deck. We have been those people with the boring yard - a few trees that were planted long before we took over, and lawn.

This changed a few years ago when a neighbour gallantly offered to hang dried out morning glory vines on our fugly chain link fence. We share a fence line and I have always loved the colorful flowers on that fence so we took him up on his offer. The first couple of years, our front yard looked like we had let some weed get a little out of control. There were few if any blooms and the vines grew in patches. We have diligently spread the seeds along the fence every spring and this year we have so many vinces that the middle two thirds of the fence are covered and we have had to add trellises for the vine to climb up on.

I sit on my deck or at my dining room table and I sip cold brewed iced tea and smile. Why? Because my front yard is no longer ordinary. It has a wall that is a riot of color. Butterflies and birds are drawn to the verdant green foliage and brilliantly spiked flowers. My yard feels special thanks to an aggressively jealous vine that wants to creep into my lawn and claim all surfaces for it's own. I almost want to let it.  

I have high hopes that within a couple of years, the front fence will be covered with these beautiful trumpets of happiness.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

In Which I am Thankful for Dancing With the Stars


  1. My Ninja blender. It makes morning smoothies so much easier to make. And the food processor attachment makes my life so much easier.
  2. Caribou Coffee's crafted press. It's cold press coffee blended with cream and sweetener (or none if you don't want). I add vanilla and yum!
  3. Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) season 20. We've only watched season 19 and 20, and the talent has been awesome. Even Mountain Man has gotten into the show. 
It's been a bit of a surprise to me that Mountain Man and I can agree that a dance show is awesome. I can't get him interested in So You Think You Can Dance but the moment he learned Sadie Robertson from Duck Dynasty fame was going to be Dancing With the Stars (DWTS) last season, he willingly jumped down the dance rabbit hole. Only for DWTS mind you. I think it has something to do with the mix of 'stars' and professional dancers. And the judges. Something about the judges resonate with him. 

DWTS has it's season finale tonight and I'm worried. I love Noah Galloway and his story. I swear I cry every time I see him dance. It's beautiful and touches me deeply. That said, as much as I want him to win the mirror ball, he's not the best dancer. That would be Rumer Willis, in my opinion. I want her to win. Ryker Lynch is steep competition, and Noah may be the fan favorite due to his story. And that freestyle. Damn!

No matter who takes home the mirror ball, this is has been an amazing season. And I think Mountian Man and I will continue to watch future seasons. Now, if I could convince Mountain Man he needs to take a ballroom dance class with me...

Sunday, May 17, 2015



  1. My husband has discovered Better Off Ted on Netflix. This was such a good show. It always makes me laugh.
  2. Coldstone Creamery. Amazing ice cream. Enough said.
  3. Knitting. It's full of mindfulness and productivity.
Life is full of twists and turns and forks in the road. Each decision we make, each choice means we choose to leave certain paths behind as we propel ourselves along. Eventually, these choices catch up to us. The path not taken may rear up and shower us with consequences. Some of these may be painful, even devastating. Perhaps there will be a do over. Perhaps there will be loss. Perhaps we will have avoided something truly awful. Either way, we are forever changed by our choices as we walk through the twists and turns of life.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Knitting and Pie


  1. Good friends, good pie, knitting, and cock jokes. No, not THOSE cocks! Get your minds out of the gutter.
  2. After making a concerted effort to get up earlier in an attempt to actually be tired enough to sleep through the night, I actually averaged a solid eight hours a night this past week.
  3. Shiloh Walker because her books rock my world! Thank you so much for Busted. Please, please, please tell me that Travis and Seb have books coming....
I have started a new knitting project. Hopefully this one will take much less time than my previous one. It's forcing me to try new stitches. I'm not bitter about that at all. 

On the surface this looks really easy and really fast. I'm doing a test with some leftover yarn I have from a lap blanket I made for J.R. Ward when I first met her at Lora Leigh's Reader Appreciation Weekend in...2008? Yes, that was it, 2008. It was my first knitting project and OMG, it took forever. But it was a good first project and turned out really well. I hope J.R. enjoyed it.

My Warden Lap Blanket

Since then I've made a lot of small items for family and friends. Nothing for myself. I really want this cowl. It looks so cool. And then I want to make it for my friend's daughters. Because I keep talking about knitting them something and then I procrastinate and never do. Maybe this will be the year of knitting. Don't get your hopes up.