Z is for Zero

Z is for zero posts missed in the A to Z Blogging Challenge!

Z is for zero posts left to do for the A to Z Blogging Challenge!

My favorite post to write was “F is for Fiction from Fact” (and great alliteration in the title).

What looked to be my most popular post was “I is for Introvert”.

The post that I hoped would have the most impact was “L is for Lumpy Breasts”. I was hoping the catchy title would lure a few more readers. Hopefully it led at least one person to do a self-exam.

After a short vacation (say a week to ten days) we will return to our regular posting schedule.

zero

 

Y is for….

Youtube – where you can learn to do a multitude of things. My personal examples include treadmill belt replacement, how to do the ladder stitch and how to darn a sock.

Yawning – which thanks to my allergies I seem to be doing a lot of lately. Along with blinking due to very itchy eyes.

Yellow Carnations – a small treat for myself since I have been doing so well on the Whole30 and conquering the A to Z Blogging Challenge!

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Sometimes I like to pretend Richard Gere sent the flowers 🙂

X is for Xylophone

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As I kept staring at the empty ‘X’ space on the calendar I thought I would need to use the emergency back up plan.  Besides x-ray did I even know any other ‘X’ words? And the word xylophone came to mind along with a memory.

Sixth grade Christmas concert. Or was it fourth grade? So long ago, back when the word Christmas was still allowed in schools. I played the xylophone. I don’t even remember what songs we played. I just remember being up on the small stage plinking away. I love the sound a xylophone makes. How cool would it be to take up the xylophone now, at my age? I could finally learn to read music. It would be good for my brain and eye-hand coordination. It would be fun. I have never heard of a xylophone teacher or lessons but turns out there are lots of learning sites on line. Sounds like a great starting point.  I think I will ask Santa for a xylophone this year.

W is for Whole30

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From Mother’s Day 2014

 

As I write this I am on day 21 and doing incredibly well. (I’ll be on day 24 when you read this!) This is my fifth or sixth try at the Whole30 and while I have never really completed one I don’t think of them as failures. Each time I have learned something and incorporated a few new foods and better eating habits for the long term into my life.

This time around I really tried to set myself up to succeed. I picked a 30 day span when we had no holidays or camping trips to make it as easy as possible for me. Bought some marinades and sauces from Tessemae’s and placed an order with Wellness Meats.  In addition to planning dinners a week at a time I planned breakfast and lunch too.  All this has really helped.

The most important thing though has been having the right attitude and specific goals.  I am not cheating at all.  I don’t even think about cheating but vowed to simply follow the rules. No “I am going to eat butter instead of ghee after the 30 days so what difference does it make now” sort of thinking.    My main goals are to see how sugar and grains affect my joint pain and moods.  So once I am done I will resume eating cheese and real butter.  But grains and sugar will be done in small amounts with close attention paid as to how I feel. At least that is the plan.

As for how it is going right now,  all my cravings are gone.  My mood does seem more stable and some days I do think the joint pain is less. Sleeping is still an issue but I believe that is due to bad seasonal allergies and perimenopause.  I guess hoping eating a clean diet would make everything better was an unrealistic expectation.  🙂

Another surprise was how well my last two dental checkups went.  I had my semi-annual cleaning two weeks ago and the hygienist again commented on how clean my teeth were.  I have always been good about brushing and flossing but she pointed out my gums aren’t inflamed anymore either.  She only found a little soft plaque along the gum line.  The only thing that has changed is my eating habits. Looks like avoiding grains and sugars is really good for your teeth!

The biggest change is now I only eat because I am hungry.  The pleasure of food has disappeared which is kinda sad.  I make nice meals and keep up the variety of foods but something has changed.  I am not looking forward to eating, it has become a chore. Hopefully this feeling is only temporary.  I am glad that I no longer snack and I really hope that habit sticks.  And while I  am okay with eating only when hungry I really want to look forward to meals again.

I am also feeling a bit disappointed that I am not feeling any “Tiger Blood”.  Could be due to the bad allergies or it could be that my eating habits really aren’t that bad or that what foods I eat don’t negatively affect me.  If that is true then I am happy I can eat everything but sad that I can’t improve any of my ailments via diet.

But I can’t lie, I am looking forward to Mother’s Day and making pancakes with my son for breakfast and having dessert with dinner.  I have one last homemade peach crisp in the freezer that sounds perfect for a warm, sunny Sunday in May!

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Henry and Mudge and the Funny Lunch”  By Cynthia Rylant  was our inspiration.

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Our fruit family is Whole30 Compliant!

 

 

 

V is for Vision

I have learned over the years that the things I spend time dreaming and thinking about happen. Not right away but I like to believe when the time is right.

Two Examples:

Joining the Air Force. I started thinking about it at the start of high school, delayed enlisted the beginning of my senior year and left for basic training a month after graduation. It’s not like we were a big military family and I have no idea how the thought popped into my head but it was an excellent decision and totally right for me.

Buying my Saab.  I saw a Saab 9-3 at an autoshow in 2001 and fell in love.  I thought it was out of my price range but continued to dream about that car for years.  Someone mentioned leasing one so I went to the Saab dealer “just to look.”  This was 2003.  Saab had been bought by GM and totally ruined the new models.  As I walked away from the new vehicle I spied the resale section and there was my car.  A 2001 model, exact same color and options that I had seen at the auto show.  I bought it, paid it off in six months and I am still driving that car today! And yes I still totally love it.

What am I dreaming about these days?  Returning to New York.  Buying a small house down in the Fingerlakes region south of Rochester.  Outside I can see the front porch, the clothes line and rose bushes.  Inside is a sunny eat-in kitchen, one large-ish living space with a gas fireplace, cozy couch for watching tv, a good reading chair, bookshelves and a work table for puzzles and games and craft projects.  There is a small bedroom and a bathroom with a black and white hexagon tile floor and a clawfoot tub.

I see myself walking to the business district to visit the library and farmer’s market, maybe grabbing lunch at the diner.

tiny house

Something like this would be sweet! (no palm trees though)

 

This vision sustains me through these horrific spring allergy seasons and the long hot summer seasons.  It will probably be years before my dream comes true but having no doubt that it will keeps me happy and enables me to endure this time in the desert.

Don’t be afraid to dream and plan and be patient all at once.

 

U is for Upgrade

Like so many others I was dismayed to find that Google Chrome was no longer going to support Snow Leopard, which is my MacBook Pro operating system. Last year I had switched from Safari to Chrome because of the same issue. I decided I did not want to switch browsers again and most likely encounter the same lack of support in the near future.

I bought my MacBook Pro in the spring of 2011 making it now five years old. Ancient in computer time. I love my laptop and have not had any issues with it. I love how it seldom needs updating, and no viruses. One of the reasons I bought a Mac was because people said they kept them a long time. I was perfectly happy with what I had and felt no need to change. But I knew eventually I was going to have to do something so I felt it best to peruse my options sooner rather than later.

Of course I considered simply buying a new computer. An easy answer but pricey. Plus I don’t need new bells and whistles, I am content with no bells and whistles, I just want basic functionality. I use the internet, mail, Microsoft Office and iPhoto. No gaming or code writing. Little streaming. I am a simple user.

Option two, upgrade the operating system. Sounded pretty scary at first. I googled and read and checked my computer memory and asked my computer savvy friend if I could do it.  I asked the Magic 8 ball: all signs point to yes.  So I decided to go for it, secretly reserving the first option as a backup plan if things didn’t go well.

In my browsing for information I found a guy who had two laptops running Snow Leopard and the first thing he did was double the memory. Hmm. I looked around the internet and read some more on this. It looked really easy and inexpensive. Did I dare?

I dared and it was easy and my memory went from 4 GB to 8 GB. The actually installation took about 10 minutes. Seriously, that easy. The hardest part was making sure I ordered the right memory boards. The screws were really tiny but I put them on a magnet and had no problems. I had to finesse the bottom card out and in a bit, but again no biggie.

After ensuring that everything seemed quite okay with the new memory and backing up my computer to an external hard drive I proceeded to the next step of the project: downloading the new operating system El Capitan. My computer showed it was going to take 11 or 12 hours. I thought I would let it run overnight but three times it failed with an internet connection error. I believe my ISP either hiccups or resets or something during the night. For the fourth try I started the download in the afternoon and hit pause before I went to bed. It had run about six hours and looked to be half way done. Honestly I did not trust the pause thing but the next morning when I hit resume it started downloading again. Much to my surprise it finished just an hour later.

Now it was time for the install. My research had showed this could take anywhere from 45 minutes to 20 hours. Boy Howdy! With a deep breath I closed all my other programs and hit start. Then I walked away. An hour later I checked and it was done! I spent the next hour confirming that my word docs, photos, bookmarks etc were all still there. I had three issues that I found and resolved rather easily.

1. My mouse wheel was now scrolling in the opposite direction. At first I thought I was nuts but after 10 minutes of not knowing if I was going up or down I googled for solutions. Under System Preferences go to mouse and uncheck “scroll direction: natural” . Easy peasy .

2. My printer wouldn’t work. I simply deleted it and then re-added it. Printer works. (I think it had something to do with updating the driver.)

3. Missing mail folders. This one was kind of scary and to be honest I can’t remember exactly how I found them. One solution had simply unchecking and then re-checking a box but that didn’t work for me. Other resolutions were too technical for me to follow but I did get a few ideas. In Finder I confirmed the folders were still on my computer and in mail I went to add mailboxes and somehow found the folders and now everything is hunky-dory.

Not much has changed for me with the El Capitan. The icons look a little different. The biggest negative is the change from iPhoto to Photos.  Some loss of functionality like no more drag and drop to add photos to wordpress.  I haven’t seen anything in Photo that works better than iPhoto. I am toying with the idea of restoring iPhoto from my backup but not sure if I want to push my luck!

My MSN mail account is different. I have switched it to “classic layout” which helped some. Am I the only person who prefers words to icons? I have been doing a lot of hovering in order to find what I want to do. I hope in a few weeks I will adjust to the new pictures. (Unlike the new laundry tags on clothes which may as well be written in Greek. I say “new” but after all these years I still have no idea what those symbols mean!)

So there you have it, a basic non-technical computer user can lengthen a MacBook Pro’s usable life span without even swearing a little. Here’s to five more years!

T is for Treadmill

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This is how my treadmill looked for 2 weeks.  It felt much longer!

As I write this on Friday the 15th the treadmill saga has not ended, but soon, very soon, I will know the final outcome.

I have gotten into the habit of doing most of my computer work while walking on the treadmill. It was a devastating blow when right in the middle of the A to Z Challenge the walking belt developed a crease and every time the belt went around it made a thwumping noise.

So I looked up treadmill repair and talked to a very nice woman who did some research and said they would only replace the belt if they could replace the deck too. The belt was available but not the deck. The deck was no longer made and the deck wasn’t flippable. Bummer.

My next step was to look for a new to me treadmill on Craigslist.  I found one that looked decent, a good price and would work with my Surfshelf . But someone else was coming to look at it already and they ended up buying it. Nothing else on Craigslist looked suitable or in my price range.

Back to the repair option. I did some more looking around and decided maybe I could replace the belt myself. First I decided to remove the current belt to see what the deck looked like and to make sure I could actually do this.

My treadmill is around fifteen years old but it has been gently used. I am the original owner, it has only been used by me and only for walking. I have never done any type of maintenance on it because it has always worked fine. Before moving to the desert most of my walking was done outdoors, I just used the treadmill during really bad weather.

I got the belt off pretty easily, my husband only had to help with a few super tight screws. The deck looked fine to me. Smooth, no cracks or bowing. I decided it was worth the $100 to try and replace the belt. I ordered one through Amazon and impatiently waited for it to be delivered.

Once the belt arrived it took maybe forty minutes to get it on and get all the rest of the pieces reinstalled. There was only one problem. When I actually stood on the treadmill the belt wouldn’t move. It moved fine when it was just switched on so it wasn’t the motor. With the treadmill belt I received two tubes of treadmill lube. Apparently one is supposed to lube the deck every so often. I had NEVER in fifteen years done this. So I put the lube on and spend several hours trying to get the tension on the belt right to no avail. Now what?

I call a second treadmill repair place and “confess” as to what I had done. Now I wait for the repair guy (on Saturday the 16th) and hope it really is just a matter of getting the tension correct.

I am prepared for the worst but hopeful for the best.

Two Hours Later (on Saturday)

There has been no feeling of joy. No excitement at the thought of getting back to my old routine. The treadmill guy is an hour late. When I call him I get “What time was I supposed to be there? Wow, I really am running late.” He is to call next week and schedule a new time. The treadmill saga is turning into the treadmill debacle.

The Happy Ending

By Wednesday morning still no word from the treadmill guy.  I send an e-mail and he says he’ll be here later today or Thursday.  Late Wednesday afternoon he says he is on his way. Turns out to be a very nice guy.  He is the owner of his own independent business.  I am happy to do business with an independent owner.  And he was very good at what he does.  As I type this I am once again walking on my treadmill!!!  Turns out I missed a guide underneath that the belt needed to go under (or maybe it was over?).  Other than that I did everything right. Once the belt was under (over?) the guide the tension was easy to fix.  While he was here he also tightened up the belt on the motor which he said was a little loose.  And he tightened the handle on my front storm door on his way out.  (It fell off just before he came and I couldn’t find the allen wrench.) If you need exercise equipment repair or maintenance I can highly recommend Tommy G Fitness here in Tucson.

Can I tell you how happy I am?  Now I can spend more time reading A to Z blogs!

 

S is for Sketchbook

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No pictures of the drawings yet because I don’t want to ruin the surprise for my friend.

 

My friend Joe and I both turn the big 5-0 this year. We always exchange small birthday and Christmas presents. He lives back in New York so we stay in touch mostly via e-mail. I wanted to do something special for our birthdays this year and borrowed this idea from Anne at My Giant Strawberry.

I mailed Joe my sketchbook and I kept his. We are each doing 12 pictures, one for each month. At the end of the year (or whenever we are done) we will swap sketchbooks back. Then we can do our companion pieces on the opposite page.

Neither one of us is a great artist but we both like to doodle and have no expectations of great works of art. So far it has been lots of fun. It is nice to spend a little more time thinking of my friend. It is a challenge to try and be creative within my limited talents but so far the ideas have come easily, if not the execution.  Working on a drawing is one of my favorite ways to spend quiet time in the mornings.

This is an excellent way to share a project with a long distance friend!  I am also thinking about doing a similar project with my son over the summer.

Bonus “S”

I finished my Spring Banner!

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R is for Rhythm vs Routine

The problem with getting into a routine is that all too soon it turns into a rut. Or the routine gets interrupted and then never resumes. What I am really looking for is a rhythm to my days. For once I am finding the balance of accomplishment and quietness. I  climb into bed at night pleasantly tired, not physically and mentally exhausted. I  feel good about the work done maintaining our home and life while having the time and energy to pursue personal goals. I am spending my time more mindfully.  I am having it all, albeit in small amounts.

One thing I am learning is that taking care of myself really makes the rest of life better. Most times working on my personal goals first actually leads to more household tasks getting done later in the day and doing them is far easier.  This is a huge shift for me because I have always been a get all the work done first kind of girl.  I have learned the hard way that the work is never done and I was making myself miserable in the trying.

The best thing I have been doing for myself lately is what I call ‘Quiet Time’.  As early in the morning as possible I spend five to thirty minutes sitting quietly. Not meditating but planning my day, thinking about how to best use my time. I find starting the day with this small pause keeps the day from feeling rushed. When I have more time (which is most days) I usually work on one of my current projects, listen to the birds and enjoy a cup of tea. But even just a five minute pause help sets the tone for the day.

Once in awhile I do the same thing in the evening, usually right after dinner clean up.  I retreat to my office and sit at my work table.  I typically gaze out the window and watch the day end.  It is very soothing to stop everything for a just few minutes.

The rhythm of my days is right for right now. As the weather heats up, school ends and vacations begin the routines will change, as they should. The challenge will be to find a way to keep the rhythm going while embracing the extra time with small child. To find a balance to our days that works for both of us. I believe the key is to remember that I count too and sometimes a mere five minutes is enough.

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I grew these flowers from seeds!  A rare and wondrous thing for me here in the desert.

Q is for Quote

 

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This year I decided to keep an index card on my nightstand. On this card I write two sentences for each month. Sometimes it is my own thought or something I stumble on in a book. It could be a quote or just one word.

The purpose of these sentences is to remind me of how I want to live my life, who I want to be, what is important. I review it each night before sleep, sometimes again in the morning or whenever I feel the need to regain some focus.

In March when I watched Peyton Manning give his retirement speech one thing he said really stuck with me:

“Life is not shrinking for me; it’s morphing into a whole new world of possibilities.”

I LOVE this idea and I hope it is true for all of us!

My military life is way behind me and motherhood is being revamped with small child in school all day and becoming more independent all the time.  I find myself wondering in which direction my life is going to go next.  A whole world of possibilities await!