Chasing Inspiration

Friday, February 05, 2016

Flowers are a Girl's Best Friend

 Gratitudes:
  1. My husband because he shovels the driveway and never asks me to help.
  2. Chocolate mint rooibos tea. 
  3. Tulips in February.
It was difficult for Hubs to shop for me for Christmas this past year. I didn't want much, and what I wanted was out of our budget. He would have spent the money, but I would have felt bad every time I looked at or used said gift. 

So instead of asking for anything off my someday/maybe list, I asked for a bouquet of flowers once a month for the next twelve months. This month, I got tulips. Beautiful purple tulips. 

February's Christmas flowers

They have lasted about a week, though they haven't opened up completely. I blame this on user error. As in my user error. Perhaps the vase wasn't clean enough. Or perhaps I didn't cut the stems in water to ensure air didn't make it's way up the stems, thus blocking water. Either way, the leaves that weren't in the water yellowed and died and the flowers haven't opened. they are still very pretty and I'm thankful for my man every time I look at them. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Into Every Winter, A Little Snow Must Fall

 Gratitudes:

  1. Aveda Hand Relief lotion, where have you been all my life? My hands have been in the best shape they have ever been during winter. 
  2. Friends.  Especially the friends who pick up where we left off after I've been in my hole of non-communication.
  3. Velcro Dog's continued insistence that I walk him every day or else he may do more than threaten to eat the furniture. 
It snowed yesterday. Over a foot of light, fluffy snow fell yesterday afternoon through the evening and caused havoc for drivers everywhere. For a few hours, anyway. The roads were all cleared overnight and it was a winter wonderland while I drove Hubs to work and then the dog to the park this morning. We've had so little snow this winter that I was beginning to think we wouldn't see any accumulation at all. 

I didn't take any photos of the snow last night as it was falling, but this is the yard today. The snow is almost pristine and when the moonlight hits it, it's magical. Sorry the picture isn't of the snow at night. My flash washes out the magic. 

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Velcro Dog enjoying the snow

Velcro Dog couldn't wait to get out and play in it. I was far less sanguine.  Mostly because snow = cold and I'm not a fan of cold. Or hot. I like it nice and temperate. I continue to think moving to Hawaii may just be the best move for me. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Of Winter and Books

 Gratitudes:

  1. Dunn Bros coffee. 
  2. Kindles & Wine book blog - if I have no idea what to read next, I check out this amazing blog! I feel like I'm sitting around a table at a coffee shop chatting books with my besties. 
  3. Brené Brown because her books on shame, courage, and resiliency are full of awesome. 
I've been rather quiet here and on social media because this winter hasn't been good to me so far. Hubs wants to move to somewhere with less extreme weather, believing this will help my fibro. Honestly, from what I experience, read, and research, if there are barometric shifts in weather, there can be flares. If there is stress, there can be flares. If you move and eat and breathe, there can be flares. Sure, moving somewhere else might help. But it might not. I know what I'm in for here. I have a good support team here. My doctors are here.

In other words, I'm not ready to move and the simple (or complex) act of moving may cause enough stress that I will flare and be in an entrenched state for some time. Life holds no guarantees. I'll stick with where I am for now. Unless I win the lottery. Then I'll move somewhere and bring my people with me. :) 

An upside to not doing so well is that I have a lot of time to read. I think I've read twenty books in January alone. Some of that was rereading. And not all of it was fiction. Sadly, I didn't keep a good list so I have to go back through my notes and update my lists. A problem I have is that I have paper books and e-books. My paperbacks I can scan the barcode and upload to my tracking sheet. The ebooks, not so much. Especially when some of them are library books and some are from Amazon, others from Smashwords, and yet others from Barnes and Noble. I've been thinking about a system that will easily allow me to track all these books and honestly, I'm back to a spreadsheet. It's a bit tedious but it works. I can upload the spreadsheet to my iPad or my phone when I'm shopping and quickly see which books I've already read. I can add books I want to buy or read and sort it by that. I can even add the books I'm waiting to be released. If I adopt the GoodReads spreadsheet upload procall I can even use the spreadsheet to update that internet based database. 

Now I just need to remember to update the darn spreadsheet when I read a book. 

A few notable books I've read this month are:
  • I Thought it Was Just Me by Brené Brown
  • The Spiritglass Charade by Colleen Gleason
  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley
  • Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
  • The Survivor by Vince Flynn and Kyle Mills (Vince started this book before his death in 2014. He left us too soon, but the series is in the capable hands of Kyle Mills so Mitch Rapp will live on)
  • The Bourbon Kings by J. R. Ward
  • My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis
  • Face of Danger by Roxanne St. Claire
  • The New Testament: Methods and Meanings by Carter Warren and Amy-Jill Levine
I found the two nonfiction books I read fascinating and thought provoking. I will need to read them both again as they are packed full of great information and one can only absorb so much on a first pass through. I was reminded how much I loved reading research articles and books for papers in college, even if I didn't love writing the papers that often went with the reading. It almost, but not quite, made me want to sign up for classes somewhere. 

Hopefully the winter will decide whether it wants to be cold or mild and I can get back to cleaning and organizing the house. And walking the dog with regularity. Velcro Dog says hi, but the way. 

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Let it Snow!

 Gratitudes:

  1. Hubs took the week off and I'm very glad he did. We've had some great quality time together and he was home to shovel the snow this morning so I didn't have to.
  2. My friend's children. They are made of awesome and make me smile.
  3. Flowers. They brighten up a room even on the darkest winter's day.
I'm not going to look at when I last posted. I know it's been a while. I haven't had the best of winters so far but thanks to some new herbal therapies, the quality of my sleep may be getting better. Whoop!

It's definitely winter. Snow came last night in large fluffy flakes, which looked beautiful in the headlights as we came home from watching Spectre at a local theater. But didn't look so beautiful as they piled up in the driveway, requiring both the snowblower AND the shovel. Hubs did not ask me to assist in the snow removal, for which I am eternally grateful. The fibro is bad enough right now. Shoveling would push me into a catatonic state.

This afternoon as I ran errands so we would have kid friendly food for tomorrow (my friend's daughters are having a sleepover at our house), the streets were mostly cleared and traffic was light. The picture below was taken on a side street as I was making my way to Starbucks for a much needed green tea latte. 



Christmas day may have been a snowless yet frigid sea of green, but 2016 looks like it will be fluffy and white. As long as it continues to snow when it's convenient for Hubs to take care of the driveway, I'm good. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Of Impending Snow and Cute Boots

 Gratitudes:
  1. Chris Pratt. Always.
  2. Silk blend yarns because they are so soft and wonderful to knit with, even if they are cost prohibitive.
  3. Velcro Dog.
It's been a hard few weeks here at my place. Autumn may be my favorite season, but the ups and downs and highs and lows and constant craziness of the weather patterns have made it difficult for me. My brain feels disengaged and fuzzy. And Velcro Dog has more energy than I know what to do with. Does the colder weather with the biting wind really come back every year? Why yes, Naomi. Yes it does.

I am putting together my winter dog walking outfit, which is all about functional layers. I have a lovely jacket that I layer over fleece. There is the hat, the gloves, the various scarves to wrap around my face depending on just how cold and biting that wind decides to get. What's been missing are winter boots. I have never owned a pair of serviceable winter boots. At least not a pair that met the husband's approval.

This year I decided we had to remedy that. But the boots had to be at least a little on the cute side. Boots can be functional and cute, right? Why yes they can!

Cute and functional! Not boots I would wear out on the town, but cute enough for walking the dog!
They aren't super cute work boots or night-on-the-town boots. But they are cuter than most winter boots I've seen. I can walk the dog in style! Of course, I've also just lost my excuse for not shoveling the driveway. No longer can I say, "I'm sorry but I just can't. The snow is so deep it will get into my shoes!" I'll have to find a different excuse for avoiding snow removal. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Of Scaredy Cats and Velcro Dogs

 Gratitudes:

  1. We have an awesome vet who understands our dog is a bundle of neuroses and loves him anyway.
  2. Seanan McGuire, an author spins tales amazing enough to pull me away from my pain and into a world of whimsy, daring, and adventure. 
  3. Mator the Mutant Tomato plant will provide us about 40 more cherry tomatoes before we have to mulch him. I'm a little sad about that. The mulching, not the awesome tomatoes.
Velcro Dog had a new experience last week. It wasn't awesome.

We've been very lucky that Velcro Dog hasn't required more than a once yearly vet visit for a check up. He's fine walking into the lobby, playing sit/stay/lay down with me while we wait (and I arrive just in time so the waits are never long), and going into the examination room. He hates the scale and loves to cower when getting his temp checked, but over all he does very well.

He is now almost nine years old and at our last wellness check the vet informed me it was time. Velcro Dog needed his teeth cleaned.

With a resigned sigh, I made the appointment and in the ensuing weeks attempted to get Velcro Dog to become accustomed to the stairs and elevator at our vet's office. Why? Because he is an anxious dog and he dislikes unfamiliar indoor stairs with a passion. He also has never ridden in an elevator.

New experiences and Velcro Dog don't always go well together and no matter what I tried, I could not get him to go near the stairs or the elevator. He would sit and would not be budged until we went outside.

An unhappy Velcro Dog. 
I informed Hubs that his assistance would be required. At 0700 last Tuesday, we loaded Velcro Dog into the car and drove to the vet's office. We got him inside and Hubs had to carry him into the elevator. Once in the basement surgical suite, the dog was fine. He was hungry and sniffing for a treat for being a good dog, but fine. We left him there with a pick up time of 1800.

The cleaning went well. He didn't require any extractions. He does have an bonus tooth that is behind one of his molars. Hubs refers to it as his shark tooth. It's not bothering Velcro Dog and it's healthy so the vet didn't see any reason to remove it.
I did get a call at 1400, however. Velcro Dog was anxious, could we pick him up earlier. I was available so I got to the vet and a shaking and whimpering Velcro Dog was released to my care. He slunk up the stairs and out the building, and dragged me to the lawn where he emptied his bladder forever. I got him in the car and started the incredibly short journey home, only to pull over a minute into the drive because the poor boy kept whining. I don't know if he was in pain, if he was feeling really out of it still due to the anesthetic, or what. I pulled over, got into the back of the car, and just sat there petting my baby until he settled and I could resume our trip home.

He was clingy and whimpery for the remainder of the afternoon/evening, and indicated he needed to go outside about every 20 minutes. By the time Hubs got home, I was exhausted. Hubs ordered take out and took over dog duty so I could rest.

It took three days for Velcro Dog to return to his normal self. His teeth are spotless. His breath is fresh. Hopefully we won't have another surgery visit any time soon for both our sakes. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

In Which There Are Donuts

 Gratitudes:

  1. Cold water brewed iced tea. Yum!
  2. Reconnecting with old friends and celebrating the joy of having them be a part of my life.
  3. Gluten free donuts. 
I've been eating a gluten free (GF) diet for almost three years. The first year I would cheat and eat wheat/gluten filled food. Mostly because I was craving baked goods and didn't like the GF options available. Initially I didn't notice a difference in how I felt, but the longer I would go without gluten, the more I would notice increased pain and tummy troubles when I would eat food those really tasty treats. 

GF foods have come a long way, though they tend to be on the pricey side. Baking mixes are a godsend and more and more stores carry GF options for things like breaded fish and chicken strips. Yay! I have found pasta alternatives that I enjoy. And Hubs is getting used to gluten free dinners. Which we were mostly doing anyway, unless the meal included pasta. 

The problem occurs when dining out. So few restaurants have menus that point out items that contain wheat. There are many times I need to quiz the server on ingredients in sauces, dressings, breadings. I ask about GF substitutions. Usually I get a blank look. A few times open hostility. I totally understand why some people with severe food allergies don't eat out. We are viewed as a pain in the ass and entitled. When in truth we just want to enjoy the same thing everyone else does: a meal out of the house that we can savor within the company of our dining companions. 

Imagine my extreme joy when I found out that a local coffee shop now serves GF donuts. I haven't had a fresh donut in three years. When I visit Canada, I can no longer find my bliss within a Canadian Maple or Sour Cream glazed donut dipped ever so delicately in my cup of hot chocolate. Let's have a moment of silence as I'm still grieving this loss. 

Mmm, donuts!
Photo courtesy of devildolmail via Flickr (CC license)
While Timmy's may be out for me (until they get their act together and start making GF alternatives. Come on people! Think of the sales!), the GF donuts at my local café are amazing! Truly. I kid you not. They make my heart sing and my taste buds do a little happy dance. Finally, baked goods at a coffee shop that I can eat. My wallet and waistline may start to hate me, but my mouth will be so filled with joy it won't matter. 

Dear @StarBucks and @caribou_coffee, for the love of all that is holy, please start offering GF baked goods. And advertise this fact far and wide. Do you know how many people will flock to your locations for a coffee AND a GF baked good? In this day and age NOT having GF fair is a travesty.