Sunday, July 26, 2015

Traveling with My Aunt

I've been writing about this trip on my other, more public, family blog, in my own handwritten journal, in emails, on Facebook and Instagram, and even on Twitter, I think. So what the heck? Let's start another record of it all.

The GMT Tour of Europe has been more than I expected. I was excited about the trip but very hesitant. My aunt and I get along great, but we've never spent more than a night or so together, at least not in our adult lives. But it turns out that our personal modes of travel mesh pretty well, and we've seen and tasted and smelled and heard more than I might have otherwise. Now that we are on our last day, it's hard to believe or even remember everything we've experienced. Lucky for us, she is keeping an extremely detailed and entertaining documentation of everything we've done from Day 1. I haven't read any of the missives home yet; I've just heard extracts as she types them up. But I know I will someday, as it will be a great way to reminisce about all we did.

But as I knew from the beginning, this is not my trip. We are not here to explore little nooks and crannies or to buy fruit juice from a street vendor or to hike up mountains or to sit on secluded beaches or to roam through book stores or to sit in a bar listening to the local music or to try some new exotic food from a hole-in-the-wall cafe on a deserted street, as I am often known to do. Instead, I am a tag-along traveling companion. [Caveat: I am not complaining. How could I, when I barely shelled out a dime for any of this in relation to all that she has paid? But I certainly have a better understanding of what it was that ladies-in-waiting did back in the days of royalty. (Perhaps there still are ladies-in-waiting. If so, my heart goes out to them.)] I have been on my best behavior for the majority of this trip. And I've probably dressed better and been better put together than on any of my other journeys, which is probably not a bad thing at all. It definitely made for better photos. But I am the keeper of maps, the finder of information, the navigator, the wine carrier/pourer (sommelier?!), the research assistant, the bus/tram/ferry/train/subway finder, the captive and appreciative audience, the travel adviser, the not-so-great translator of menus/signs/conversations. Again, I am not complaining, as I essentially have been paid to do that ... sort of like a chaste kept woman?!?

Actually, come to think of it, I am the Mark of this trip. I can even point out our hotel when looking back on the city from a hilltop and find my way home from any outing, no matter how twisty the roads. Hmmm, don't tell my husband, as now he'll expect me to be like this on all of our upcoming trips!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Writing and all that

Huh ... apparently, if you hit the wrong combination of keys, blogger will just post a blog post before you've written any more than the title. Things you learn when going on autopilot with the typing and the key strokes and all that. Of course, I have no idea what I did, so right now, there's just a blank post floating on my page.

And of course, it doesn't really matter, because in a matter of moments, I will finish vomiting out these words, hit the update button, and call it a night.

This writing thing is work. I'm not even out there as a writer, and it's keeping me up in bed wondering what the heck I am doing. So I crawled out of be and came down here to get it out of my head in the hopes that now I can get some sleep so that tomorrow I'll have enough brain cells to do my other job.

There's nothing new to report from here. The Blue Dog trainer showed up today, and I think maybe she should just take our dog away. Within the first seconds, our little devil knew all the commands and did just as she was supposed to. Of course, once Saint Trainer Lady left, it wasn't all so peachy keen easy ... though there were baby steps of progress. How can a total stranger have such a soothing effect on our dog? Are we really that anxious, neurotic, weird that our dog picks up on all that and freaks out when we make any sudden movements?

I guess we are.

I have no witty conclusion to this post. No final words of wisdom. My brain is shutting down. So I'm thinking the word vomit worked. G'nite and sleep well.

(I would just save this without posting it, but I don't even know how to do that. And for whatever reason, I feel compelled to post this rather than just hitting cancel. Oh, vanity.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What a Difference a Week Makes

I didn't even make it a week on this year's Bon Appetit cleanse. My main excuse is that the recipes just weren't inspiring me. Some were quite tasty, but several were just plain blah. Or maybe the funk from last week dragged me down (more likely). Of course, it didn't help that last week some girlfriends and I had a cooking night. I made the ramen soup (which, all in all, wasn't that bad in terms of health--well, the carmelized pork probably isn't what health food nuts would agree to, but it's protein, right!?). It was actually the 40+ potstickers and the two bottles of wine we devoured that put me over the edge. But it was all so dang tasty. Then Saturday morning, Mr. J and I made the trek to Emmett, Idaho, to try out a diner spot that had some dang-tasty homestyle potatoes and delicious homemade sourdough bread. OK, we didn't drive all that way just for breakfast. (1) We were hoping to escape the dismal inversion that has settled over southwest Idaho. Unfortunately, Emmett suffers from the same blah grayness that exists everywhere else around here. (2) After breakfast, we headed to the Canyon County Humane Shelter to meet this little girl:

Hello, Bella Blue. We finally caved, after a year-plus of dog-free living. She's a sweetie but needs a little work on the dominance side (she thinks she is in charge). I love having her, but she makes me miss Kai even more. He had his issues, but he is still number one in my heart (after Mr. J, of course ... at least most of the time).

Anyway, I've been a little stressed out about her issues and how we are going to deal with them. Plus I'm not sure taking on this new job has been the smartest thing, so that's on my brain all the time. Add that to my usual level of nervousness and you have the perfect storm for my stupid skin issues to come roaring back with a vengeance. Dumb inverse psoriasis!! And my toe is still sore ... I went from neuroma and gout ideas to a downright fear that it might be psoriatic arthritis (do NOT look that one up). Now I've concluded that I probably just have a minor ingrown toenail that got beat up on New Year's Eve, when I walked two miles in heels. So heat and soaking in epsom salts and massage seem to be working. Just not fast enough. Anyway, my God, how old am I?! I've just spent an entire paragraph on all my aches and pains!? Soon I'll be discussing my bowel movements!

Before I go there, I'll state here that I am officially doing a real cleanse/elimination diet. I know, I know. I couldn't even stick to a fake cleanse for more than a week. How am I going to survive 21 days of no eggs, corn, gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, or nuts--or alcohol? Good question! But I am going to try in the hopes that I can determine what is causing my stupid aches and pains. I will also start working out again, even if I can't put full pressure on my big toe. As my good friend reminded me, it's not like I can't do sit ups and push ups or even swimming. I just used my toe and my grumpy mood to throw in the towel on everything.

But this is a new week, so here I am, flitting on to the next thing that will cure me of all of what ails me! I know that no one reads this (thank goodness for that), but I am hoping that having it out in public (sort of) will keep me somewhat accountable. Here's hoping!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Monday, Moanday

I am in a f-u-n-k today. We hiked yesterday (nearly 5 miles on icy-slick trails), and now I am paying the price. There is something wrong with my big toe ... after lengthy Internet research, I've narrowed this mystery pain down to anything from turf toe (yes, there really is such a thing, and it bring to mind a gangrenous Astroturf-green toe) to a neuroma to gout. Ah, the miracles of Web-enabled self-diagnosis. But none of those diagnoses have made the pain go away, and thanks to that pain, I walked all of those nearly 5 miles with a funky gait, which means that today, my entire left leg hurts, from my stupid big toe, around my ankle, up the outside of my calf, through my aching knee, and into my hip/lower back. That old song sure is true, the toe bone is connected to every other freakin' bone in my body. Of course, that pain didn't stop me from hiking yesterday. And neither did it keep me from braving this dismal gray frozen-rain weather to head to the gym for "athletic conditioning." If I'd known what a helluva class that was going to be, I might have just stayed in bed. And that would have been a brilliant option, because stupid big toe still hurts, which means I did many of the exercises while favoring one leg. Guess what hurts even more today than yesterday ... my entire left leg!

But there is a faint silver lining to the endless gray sky overhead. My neighbor is a physical therapist, and she has generously agreed to check it all out and see what I can do to make it better. This does not bode well for my planned "five days straight of exercise." I guess I'll just put that New Year's resolution off until next week.

In other news, I'm sticking to the BA meal plan fairly closely. Unfortunately the beverage plan is a little off-kilter. We're just too dang social, and I seem to find it impossible to sit around the dinner table with friends with anything but a bottle of wine (or three) in front of my face. And the morning lattes seem to be a necessity on these bleak days (did I mention it is absolutely glum outside? hello, Inversion).

So my moaning is over. Here's to better and brighter days ahead.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Smells Like Christmas

I have spent the better part of the past 3 hours cooking, cleaning, making shopping lists, and all around trying to get organized for the weekend. This is what the folks at Bon Appetit do to me. This little "cleanse" requires a ridiculous amount of thinking and planning, even though they pretty much spell it all out for you. I don't want to do one big shop for the week, because I know that as much as I say I am going to stick to this plan, shit comes up. So I'm plotting out three days at a time, which means going through each recipe and making a list of what I'll need through Sunday. So much for BA's handy-dandy shopping list.

But the house smells delish ... roasted beets with rosemary and thyme and some kind of squash raisin compote that is filling the house with the mouth-watering aromas of cinnamon and cloves. Smells like Christmas, but without the cookies!

A case in point of not all things going to plan: Tonight, after we enjoy our healthy snapper and chard, we will be trekking up the hill for a hilarious night of Cards Against Humanity. Is it wrong that I love that game so much!? I am bringing along the BA dessert for tonight ... how can you go wrong with Spicy Orange Hazelnut Chocolate Bark (oh, how I love BA's idea of a cleanse!! so so so much better than cabbage smoothies and plain broth)? The trouble with tonight is that I know I will indulge in my week's "allotment" of four alcoholic beverages in one night.

Oh well, it's the intention of it all, right? It's not like it's a doctor-prescribed program.

Other than that, all is well in the world ... mostly. I need to sort out stuff in my head and ratchet up my libido after the lethargy of the holidays. Gotta keep Mr. J and me happy! Of course, my idea of one way to keep me happy is to get me one of these:

Who looks an awful lot like this old guy, who I miss so much:
The first little guy, who I call Chester Part 2 (after the gorgeous fellow in the second picture), followed Mr. J into the house the other day. He explored all around, ate some canned crab, and then asked to be let out again. So polite. Today as I went out to check the mail, he followed me right inside. After another lunch of crab, he curled up on my lap and promptly fell asleep, purring away. I am in love! But he obviously belongs to someone in the 'hood, so when he loitered around the front door again, I let him out, and off he ran.

I'm thinking Chester Part 2 is one smart kitty who knows a good thing when he finds it. I wonder how many other homes he hits up during his daily wanderings!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Hello, (almost) 2015!

Apparently, I'm not very good
at these fun props. It looks like
my face is melting out of its
mustache and antlers.
Here I am again. With one post since January, I think my blog writing is on an incredible roll, don't you? Yeah, well ... anyway ...

It's that time of year again. The Bon Appetit cleanse. I wasn't going to do it this year, but The Man and I enjoyed it last year, and Lordie knows we need just a little motivation after another gluttonous holiday season. So I'm back here to keep track of it all, though I may not link to the recipes this time. Just head on over to the link above and read all about it.

It looks like this year the folks at BA are even more organized than last, what with a fancy-schmancy Google calendar that lists each meal with links to the menus and even more prepare-in-advance foods. All of which is great, because I'm not semi-unemployed as I was last year at this time. Hooray for me!

In addition to eating well, I'm back on the exercise track ... well, I worked out today, so that's one day in a row. Again, hooray for me! I was going to go to the Y, but one thing led to another, and what was supposed to be a virtuous day of working and working out turned into a mini shopping spree at Sierra Trading Post, along with a tour of "The Village" (the name of which puts me in mind of the M. Night Shamalamadingdong movie of the same name). It's one of those made-to-look-like Venice type outdoor malls smack dab in the middle of the suburbs. Totally fits in with southwest Idaho decor?!? Yeah, right. More like it's just kind of weird and almost creepy. But big fat snowflakes were falling, outdoor firepits were blazing, kids were ice skating, and lots of folks were milling around. So it made for a kinda pretty scene, if you ignored the faux-patina domelike rooftops and pseudo-Venetian architecture. A couple of local food trucks have opened up there in and actual glass-and-mortar building, so we got what I think was local good food for not too much money. I was even able to stick to my meatless Monday plan for the day (though I did try a bite of The Man's yummy kimchi chicken tacos). Then it was off to wander through Sur La Table (swoon) and Z Gallerie (double swoon). We totally refrained from shopping because (1) we didn't really need anything and (2) we are cheap. But it was fun to browse. Plus we got a free coffee sample. Yay, us! And, when we finally made it home (with a detour to Cost Plus), I squeezed in a 30-minute Daily Burn interval training workout. Sweaty!

Hmmm, I didn't mean for this to turn into a what-I-did-instead-of-working-today blog post, but there you have it. I haven't pursued the whole writing to find my inner demons/feelings/spirit/what-have-you. But maybe that will happen this month too. It is January after all. Time for a month of sticking to resolutions before February hits!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Writing and stuff

The other night, I went to a friend's 46th birthday party, where I ran into some other friends I hadn't seen in months. There was wine and brisket and cider and sausage and mojitos ... and did I mention there was alcohol and fantabulous food? Well there was also laughter and wonderful camaraderie and the joy of being with a group of friends who take you for what you are and vice versa.

Anyway, ages (eons) ago, I thought of myself as this aloof, mysterious, hard-to-know kind of person. It was a persona that I always loved in the movies and books that I read, and in my brain, I thought that I was that way too. But as I evolved out of sulky teens and confused early 20s, I realized that this is about as far from the truth as you can possibly get. When given the chance, I will literally vomit my fears and issues and concerns and foibles on others. I don't do this to get attention, though I may do this to get the occasional laugh. Mainly I do this because, over my long and illustrious 40-plus years of life, I've learned that so many of us have the same fears and dramas and self-inflicted anxieties. So my hope is that by putting it out there, perhaps I'll get an, "I know just what you mean .... this is how I deal with that." Perhaps it's because I'm too cheap for therapy. Or maybe I'm overly empathetic. Or maybe I am looking for some sort of validation. I do try to keep my personal-issue-vomiting sessions to a minimum, but sometimes, when the wine is flowing, the conversation is congenial, the friends are so supportive, and maybe the moon is just waning from being full, I go off on a little riff. What was nice about Saturday, even as I look back at it from a somewhat more sober frame of mind, is that my friends were truly supportive (and I honestly did not monopolize the conversation ... I really did want to hear what they had to say). And what they had to say resonated with what I wanted to hear.

My anxieties and fears are not substantial. They are not life threatening. They don't stop me from living life and enjoying life. But they are there and they are real and I want to work through them, or with them, or past them. I want to recognize them and then move on. But I am not always sure how to do this. I've always been of the frame of mind that I don't know if a therapist is what I need. I feel like maybe there should be a sliding scale for therapists. Not based on my income; rather based on degrees of whatever it is that is bothering us. I honestly don't think that my concerns warrant the same fee of someone who truly is battling demons and devils. But maybe I'm just belittling myself or not taking myself seriously (who me? do that? never!). Or maybe I'm just scared (most likely).

But these friends of mine on Saturday night listened and commiserated and shared similar concerns and feelings and then proceeded to tell me of ways that they approached their lives. And it's what I've heard before, but I think maybe I am in the right place, the right frame of mind, even the right financial situation to seriously think about it for myself. So tonight I wrote to a man and asked for information about his writer's group. Tomorrow I will call Lula the healer. And I honestly will take the time for myself for some meditation and exercise ... things I love but that I say I have no time for (even though I have time to plow through cheesy romance novels for four hours at a time at night or to play stupid addicting Montezuma Revenge on my phone for 10-minute stretches).

I said to the writer's group guy that I wasn't sure what my intention was for writing, and I don't. I think I feel that writers need a lofty goal or to spout philosophical gems or at least make people laugh. But maybe for me I just need to open up, be honest with myself, write what I am thinking to get it out of my head, and then just breathe and enjoy. In all honesty, I think my intention is to become the person I want to be ... a fun-filled, peace-filled, content-with-myself human being.