Friday, May 31, 2013

Looking for me?

All 6½ of you :)

I'm over here today, just cuz.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Midweek wanderings

I swear the most annoying part of trying out homeopathic remedies is figuring out how much is too much.

This happened once before: I misread the instructions on a box of Coldcalm and took so much of the stuff that it set me emotionally shattery for like, 36 hours. I like to say that it felt like something was fucking with my chi.

I'm still weaning off Paxil and trying some natural supplements to take the edge off. One of the things my doc recommended was drinking tulsi tea. I bought the green version recently, which tastes wonderful, but I learned that mainlining it as iced tea, glass after glass ... my body doesn't like that so much.

Yesterday, I. was. shredded. Same absence of chi, like someone took the damn thing out to be cleaned and didn't tell me. Zero focus, felt like crap, headachy, couldn't find anything to eat that improved the sitch. Woke up this morning still feeling the effects, so I switched from coffee to regular tea, had a good breakfast and lunch, and rallied nicely mid-morning. One of those times where you feel so much better, it punctuates how much you felt like crap previously.

Not sure what prompted the not-wanting coffee this morning, but I'm liking it. Going to see if I can keep that up. Had 3 cups of tea instead, so my head hasn't revolted yet from the less caffeine.

Hit the Weaverville tailgate market today and was pleasantly surprised. Small, but lots of actual farmers. Picked up spinach from two different places, plus swiss chard, breakfast sausage from pastured pigs, and eggs. Looking forward to a serious salad for dinner, and eggs with sausage and spinach tomorrow morning.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Monday

I try not to dwell too hard on Memorial Day. I didn't lose any family members to war, thank goodness. My father and father-in-law were veterans, so I think of them on November 11. And unfortunately, I do take for granted the freedoms we are lucky enough to have. But P-Dub's post this morning highlighted some images she had gleaned from others for a contest a couple of years back, and looking at those again brought tears to my eyes. We are so very lucky to live in the US, and I do thank those who gave their lives for our freedoms.



If you haven't discovered Spotify, you are missing out. It's the ability to create playlists of music without having to purchase the songs. I could never get into Pandora, because it was like having an iPod Shuffle—you never had control over what you wanted to listen to, not really. Spotify remedies that. This morning has been an '80s/'90s throwback day with Depeche, Erasure, Yazoo, Benatar, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and others fueling my website editing, along with a bit too much caffeine.



Ever since I got out of college, I've wished I could get back in. I adore learning, and my school focus was so dang average when I was younger, that now that I'm much more stable emotionally, I wish for the opportunity to excel in school again. I'm sure I've documented here before, times when I go through a "school" phase, digging out old textbooks and notebooks and attempting to create a curriculum for myself. Usually it's a project that's abandoned after a couple of days, which is fine....I have my BA for now, and while I do desire to eventually go for a Ph.D., Hubs has only spotty college credits to his name, so he'd be the first of us back in school once our finances are able.

The concept of Open University courses started online several years back, but it's taken years for it to become something...I would peruse the Ivy League's attempts to offer free college courses online, but for the most part they weren't blowing my skirt up. Lil Sis happened upon Coursera recently, and I'm delightfully hooked. Very interesting variety, and while I'm not crazy about the peer-review grading concept, I'm going to give it a try anyway. I'm betting the "statement of accomplishment" won't be taken seriously by society (as something I should put on a resume), but I'm not doing it for that anyway...simply personal edification. I'm starting an Intro to Art course tomorrow, 2 Lit courses next week, and have my eye on a course about global sustainable food systems. Hoping this will also force me into better time management, because I don't want this to be another something that I'm seduced by and then quickly abandon. I can already tell it's opening up my mind a bit and giving me ideas toward my writing.

FYI: There's a nice selection of Yale Open U freebies on iTunes as well!

Goin' Native

Birkenstocks, check!
Hippie purse complete with politically charged button pins, check!

Mom J. was in town this weekend, so we hit downtown on Saturday (mob scene! hello Summer!) so she could check out the bead shop on Lex again. Since Les and I aren't bead folks, we wandered a bit up the street to a little shop right up our alley (bumper stickers, water pipes, hippie apparel), where I found the bag in the picture. I've been wanting one of those cross-body types for awhile, while knowing deep-down that a shoulder bag is more my speed. This shoulder bag with its cockeyed peace symbol and granola button pins will do me nicely for now.

Have a great week, y'all! Get outside!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

So very much

As I type this, I hear the gentle snoring/groaning of our cat, Figaro, who decided to pop into a box top in front of my laptop to nap this morning. This is a first-time thing, and the only explanation I have is that she read my mood when I woke up this morning and decided I might like some company. We don't get along normally; she's really more Les's cat, so this turn of events is sweet. Damn cat's 10 years old and still bites me if I pet her when she's having an off day.

I slammed the snooze alarm off this morning and proceeded to oversleep for another hour and a half, during which time I dreamed about friends of ours getting pregnant when they were told they were infertile, while our attempts failed. In my dreams, I discussed going to the fertility specialist again...and then remembered that I have no insurance, so that's not even an option right now (although when you consider how few insurance plans even cover that specialty, it IS kind of moot). I remember being angry at how adoption isn't even an option because of our financial situation, how even if we had the credit to get that size of a loan, realistically I'd want to spend it on a mortgage before a child. That's my pragmatic side talking obviously, because it does still sting that we probably won't conceive, and I'm dashed if I know what to do with those emotions, so I'm apparently working them out in my sleep (goody.). And all the while, it's impossible to give up the dream, because I am only 43, there's still a chance, so much of our problem is timing.....

I stepped outside upon waking up this morning. Stretched a bit, shook the dreams out of my head. Walked down to the stream just to look around. There's a bush down there with small white flowers with yellow centers...should look up what the heck it is (elderberries? no, they look more like queen anne's lace, I think...). The bugs aren't bad yet this morning, the birds were chirping away, and I breathed in with gratitude being in a place where I'm able to shrug off bad dreams with nature so abundant around me. Checked the plant leaves; the peppers are still the main victims of those tiny bugs, so I'm keeping a close eye on them.

I'll try and put in a few hours on sites, and then I want to meander to the West Asheville Tailgate Market. We're almost out of eggs. For motivation, there's Longest Acres, a couple of very sweet 20somethings who just bought their farm. Gonna look at that pic frequently over the next couple of weeks. They've got themselves a helluva front yard. Also, Ben Hewitt's intelligent writing reminds me of just how much the hard work pays off in happiness and fulfillment.

It's going to happen here. One day/step at a time. Today's step is keeping aphids off of peppers, and hopefully transplanting seedlings. I've got such a long way to go, and I'm determined to enjoy the ride.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Learning to grow

  I like to think I'm not much of a quitter, but one area where I'm having trouble is gardening. Once something starts to shows signs of heading south (dying), I have to resist the urge to...

a) neglect it altogether, thereby assisting the process.

b) toss it into the "nice try" bucket and then neglect replanting and trying again.

Our access to local foods being what it is, it's easier to give up, to tell myself that I'll do better when I've got my own ground to dig in, when I'm not relegated to container gardening. What bullshit! If I don't learn how to container garden, how to keep stuff alive in small batches, how exactly do I expect better yields on a larger scale?

The local foods sitch will definitely supplement us nicely, at least. Right now, the tailgate markets are mainly pushing greens still, but I'm betting in about another month, we'll see more variety.

Yesterday, when we were heading out to lunch/dinner, I looked over the plants and saw those damn tiny nibbling bugs (and their equally tiny eggs) that live on the bottoms of leaves and surreptitiously destroy plants. We rubbed off as many as we could, and when we got back, I went out with soapy water and treated the leaves on the peppers. Those seedlings were gorgeous when I bought 'em last week, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let those go...

But on the same rack, most of the herbs are a joke, and our bean plant yield is slowly waning to half what we started with. I'm not certain why some plants give up when others don't, when they all appear to look the same, but I'm determined to keep alive the beans that look hardy.

But why haven't I replanted tomatoes, peppers, greens, and herbs since the initial failures? Poor time management and cowardice are the only reasons I can come up with. I'd love to be picking my own tomatoes off the vines and canning them come fall. I want to be able to grab a handful of cilantro or basil from my herb garden when I'm cooking dinner. So what the hell's stopping me?

Quit ranting, Melanie. Go outside.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Tried working outside yesterday. As in, brought the laptop outdoors, set up a couple of TV tables, plugged it into the exterior outlet (because my battery lasts maybe 3 hours on its own), and attempted to edit sites. Interesting experiment. Learned a couple of things...

• SO fucking ready for our own place, a rental (or purchased) house as opposed to an apartment. Our current apartment is so much better than our past places, but...

     a. Our neighbors, who barely hang out on their balcony normally, had friends over who weren't getting along and had a small child...

     b. The house across from us was breaking down a large tree or something, so there were plenty of large machinery noises...

     c. The yellow jackets are out. They like my plants. I can't find a nest anywhere. Are they pollinators? Cuz if not, they need to get the fuck out.

I'm not actually complaining about the to me in another week when I'm crunching on cicada shells during my walks. I know any buggies are good for the environment, help plants more than they harm, etc. (I say that with a heavy sigh, since I've lost at least 2 bought seedlings to bugs, the little bastards...the downside to buying local at a big venue, can't exactly track down the guy who sold 'em to me and demand my $6 back...) Plus I'm fairly Buddhist these days, so there's the whole live-and-let-live mentality. But try to edit sites with a yellow jacket buzzing around your head, while you stay as still as possible because you remember how those stings hurt like a MFer...

I know there'd be plenty of bugs in my own backyard, but my own backyard would also have the room for a patio table without worrying that the property management company's going to get on my case for having too much shit outside my apartment. I'd be able to situate it away from the plants that attract the big buzzers.

I'm already admitting to myself that we'll likely renew the lease in December. This year is already reaching midpoint, and I've yet to chip away at our new debts. But it's definitely time to adjust our budget, look for other ways to bring in dough, and start repairing the ole credit again. I got pre-approved for a secured credit card at my bank recently with a tiny limit and abhorrent APR. Gonna snatch that sucker up as soon as I have $99 to spare. Baby steps.

This and that on the interweb this week:

• Another GF waffle recipe I'll be giving a try in the near future.

• Learning to embrace greens.

• Another free open courseware resource.

A very refreshing take on the Merida (Disney) argument.

Weather's turned balmy last couple of days, with summer heat tempered by the wind and lower humidity. We're leaving windows closed during the day, to keep the house cooler. I itch to get outside again, but the laptop calls first.

I'm shifting my dietary goals, focusing on moderation and healthy eating, rather than hard-core elimination. Surprisingly, seems to be working so far. I know, lousy day at a time.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Riding the wave

Midweek. A little behind on sites. A little hormonal. A little energized and motivated.

Doc appointment went well. Lost 4 lbs. LDL and blood sugar numbers were where I expected them to be. Total cholesterol below 200 and triglycerides within range! Prediabetic though. Implement what we discussed, see ya in 3 months.

I'm ready.

So I'm couching last night, thinking of questions for the doc and looking over the sheet of instructions he had given me at the last visit....and I realize his instructions are much more realistic than Dr. Hyman's advanced elimination plan. Even with the proper mental preparation, I'm still dealing with physical cravings that are going to crop up as I shed adipose fat around my organs. Removing sugar and wheat completely may "reboot" my system, but the chances of my sticking to that program for 6 days, never mind 6 weeks, aren't great. This isn't self-defeating language; it's realism. The good news is there are happy mediums that will allow me to decrease the "white" stuff (fast-burning carbs) without making me want to reach for a loaf of bread and eat the damn thing in one sitting. I'm learning about portion control, choosing foods carefully for what they will do for my body. Added some supplements, still decreasing caffeine this weekend, ramping up the exercise.

Went to Greenlife after the appointment. Spent a bit more than I wanted to, but stocked up on some grass-fed local meats and veggies. So much easier to deal with meals when you're pulling from the fridge rather than the cabinet. Working hard to get off the processed stuff. Hitting the cookbooks this week.

I don't have the time to work out today. I'm going to find the time anyway.

Monday, May 13, 2013


My body was so tired today, I felt numb. I was finally able to focus on work around 5PM. Les only looks grumpy cuz he was concentrating on holding the camera...he wore his moccasin boots and brought his walking stick on that hike, and I could tell he loved being in nature like that. Got to talk to his dad for a moment too. Those moments become so necessary when our loved ones are no longer with us.

It was a very necessary weekend. Mom and Meara came up for a city breather, and because we Lyons's tend to prefer to be anywhere but at home (in our own heads) when May 12 comes around. Mom's Day this year coincided with Dad's anniversary; he's been gone 6 years. I'm, painfully and thankfully, not hit as hard by this, this year; but Mom and Meara ache pretty hard still. They popped up Saturday and in spite of the miserable weather, we drove a half hour up the Parkway to Craggy Gardens to meet them and take a quick trek on one of the hiking trails there.

Hiking...I'm loving it, but I need several things: decent shoes and hiking poles are at the top of the list. The terrain we were covering was pretty rocky in places with ascents and descents, but I kept up with them. I have ankle boots that work better than my sneakers right now for hiking, but I don't want to ruin them on trails when they would also work as a work shoe if I end up back in an office. Something to save for.

We cruised back to Weaverville to relax a pinch, and did dinner at Farm Burger downtown. Wow. Ashley wasn't exaggerating. Pretty sure it was the best burger I've ever had at a restaurant, and that feeling was shared by everyone at the table. We groaned with pleasure, lingered over beers (me and Meara) and milkshakes (Mom and Les), and wandered down to French Broad for further indulgence before heading back home. We ladies watched Silver Linings Playbook finally...holy crap, very well done! And a good reminder for me that maybe I should be on lithium if nothing else. Talking it over with my doc this week, because I can tell my socially awkward symptoms and lack of filter are cropping up, and while it's not important that I fight those symptoms when I don't work in an office, I also don't love my personality when I'm not medicated. I'll be trying a combo of natural supplements and lithium, hopefully.

Also, I have a serious crush on Jennifer Lawrence.

Sunday I made breakfast and we lounged, figuring out where we wanted to gallivant. Weather was gorgeous Sunday, but naptime killed a bit of our afternoon, so we decided to go back up to the Craggy area of BRP, specifically Craggy Dome/Pinnacle where there were additional trails.

Middle of May and it was COLD up there, 5,500 feet and climbing as we trekked to a 360 degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Harder climb too, definitely...I loved every minute of it, even as my knees argued with me up and down the trail. My god, the views! The wind! Absolutely exhilarating!

The aches in my muscles are so motivating. This week begins another leaf turning.

Friday, May 10, 2013


When the breeze blows in from the 2nd bedroom window, where my office is, I have to stop work and drink it in. I really don't think it's possible to miss Florida (and its humidity) less than I do. I miss my friends and family there, certainly, and if tragedy were to befall one of them, I'd certainly make a trip....but beyond that, I don't see a huge need to cross that border again until my (amazing, beautiful, gigantic) nephew graduates high school in 6 years.

Little selfish, huh?

My work decided to give me a startle by not paying me on time today. That's on its way to being remedied, thank goodness, but definitely punctuates how careful we need to be with dough now.

I put the plants out yesterday, but I have such studying to do on the subject of gardening. I really only expect half the beans, a pinch of the cilantro, and the rosemary to keep up the good fight; and I'm thinking of investing in seedlings of tomatoes, lettuce, and peppers later this coming week. The marjoram, catnip, and spearmint that we bought had a bug (bah!), which is giving me black-spotted leaves and making all their livelihood questionable, so I sequestered them from the others in the hopes I can keep that problem from spreading.

It's a little disheartening, but I simply don't know enough yet. And I was so busy with the move this winter, that I didn't make enough time to read up on gardening. Our successes are built on our failures. Patience, Melanie.

Laid out a plan with a start date on Dr. Hyman's program. He guides you carefully on preparing yourself physically and emotionally for the tasks ahead. Memorial Day weekend, shit gets serious.

Some links that caught my eye:

• Mom and Meara coming to visit this weekend! We're hitting Craggy Gardens and maybe Chimney Rock State Park. Yay!

• An unschooled 8-year-old and her mom have a YouTube channel about organics. She called out Dr. Oz for a Time magazine article that proves he's pretty much a sell-out to Big Food now. Terrific stuff!

• I'm doing Dr. Hyman's Advanced program, which cuts out most grains, but in order to be realistic about it, I need to have some familiar options around. Thanks to the influx of gluten-free recipes online, my 30-year waffle addiction won't need to completely disappear.

This recipe looks yummy too! Hell, anything that's easy-ish and made from home blows my mind right now :)

Have a great Mother's Day, y'all!

Monday, May 06, 2013

So THAT's what it's like to relax...

Image is just cuz strawberries are in season, and because yours truly is giving up flour very soon. Insert gigantic how-the-hell-am-I-gonna-live sigh...

So the dotcom sent out emails last week that the exchange server would be undergoing maintenance and be down all weekend. Silly me thought that meant just email, forgetting that I access the web tool to edit via the exchange server as well. So went online to finish up my quota for the week on Saturday and discovered I was locked out. Well, crap! So paycheck will be a smidge lower than I'd hoped, but I gained volumes by having 2 days off.

I realized having 2 days off isn't a bad thing at all.

Been working whenever, which is the nature of the beast at times...there are times when I have to walk away from it because there's no work to be done. But I haven't been managing my time as a result, and wondering why I'm fried. Actually I tend not to notice when I'm fried, I just keep puttering along as if nothing's wrong, my stress level is completely normal, ah-la-la...such an act! Hubs can see right thru it, the bastard ;)

This weekend was NECESSARY. I started really studying Dr. Hyman's program. Taking notes, plotting how to wean, digging out the books I already have that are going to be a godsend (Clean Food, Clean Start, The Kind Diet, The Spectrum, Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes). Lining up recipes for quick meals. Really reading labels. We're low on funds and green veggies this week, but I'll make do for now and get serious next week.

It's drastic, but I need drastic. I have 100 pounds to lose. Talk about staring at the mountain from the bottom! I'm certainly pre-diabetic (or have "diabesity", as he calls it) and am insulin resistant. I've been eating junk since junior high, and I'm sedentary, in spite of some good-natured attempts to get walking here and there. Insert the boilerplate disclaimer here about how I'm not a doctor, nutritionist, or at all associated or qualified to discuss his program. Check stuff out for yourself, visit your doctor before starting any program, blah, blah...

"Hello, doctor? This is Rita. I've been thinking of bending at the waist..."
~ From Rita Rudner's stand-up routine

I just think it's what I need. It lays it out for you as a program, a lifestyle change. It's helping me realize that the modified elimination style of the program is something I very much need, if I want to get this weight off. I'm not dropping wheat and sugar because I have celiac; I'm dropping it because gluten and sugar contribute to the vicious cycle of insulin resistance, which piles on the pounds and makes it nearly impossible for them to go away, so long as you keep eating them, even in small doses. It's also helping me reconcile with the fact that I won't reintroduce certain key foods after 6 weeks, or 12 weeks...I won't re-introduce them period, until I've lost the weight, and ONLY THEN can I make a determination about whether those foods become a part of my new lifestyle or just a special treat. And I'll be much better equipped then to make that decision.

It's interesting stuff, rather Michael Pollanesque in its militant stance on food. His oft-quoted line from Food Rules rings true with this program: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." But it certainly ain't a vegan approach, which helps...more like if Michael Pollan went Paleo. I'll have to watch my cholesterol a bit, but I'm not worried...there's big emphasis on proper nutrients and omega 3s.

Well, enough of that! I also puttered this weekend, performed couch gravity tests, and transplanted the seedlings we bought last weekend. Realized the plants are quite ready for natural light...may get them out there this week. It's a week ahead of the last frost date, but given how many do-overs we'll have this first batch anyway....besides, it ain't that hard to check the low temps and cover 'em if necessary.

The Wild Foods Walk & Talk was cancelled on account of the deluge-style rain we had on Sunday. I was both disappointed and relieved, because in spite of my best efforts, we really couldn't afford the class this weekend. I so want to meet Ashley though! Hoping I can keep open an email line of chatter without her putting out a restraining order or anything ;)

Image from here.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Friday Faves

Camera's been on the fritz, so sorry, no original pictures today.

Still pinching myself. I wake up and greet the day, and even if I have deadlines looming, just looking outside brings relief. Not working in an office brings relief too. I'm quite attached to working from home, and recognizing that that's going to mean bringing more money in.

Hubs will start looking soon. He FINALLY got a doc appointment with the local headache center, but it's not til top of June, so I'll go easy on him until he's laid in a fresh supply of his meds and charted a fresh course for the ole noggin. But the squeeze is definitely on, and at first I thought it was my mad spending on those last 2 pairs of shoes, but then I realized this was also the first month we were paying insurance finally...which means no more mad money. That's fine, we (read: I) were spending a little willy-nilly there, so it'll be good to get back on a budget. I'm just worried that said budget and my paychecks won't mesh well enough.

Rearranged the 2nd bedroom a bit again, now have a window view from which to work. Can't decide yet if it's awesome or distracting. Little bit of both, I think.

My May articles are up at The Laurel here and here.

Stuff that's caught my eye:

This post of Amanda's has a pic of a very well-worn copy of The Garden Primer by Barbara Damarosch. My copy looks like it just came off the bookstore shelf. A good indicator of how I've got a LONG way to go on this gardening thing, before success becomes more frequent. It takes time, patience, and serious study...and the elements will still do whatever the f*ck they want.

• In my quest to go gluten-free, this site should help.

Shannon Hayes' blog, just because. Interesting stuff.

Whole Larder Love, same reason.

• Found this site while researching the Craft Guild interesting!

This weekend! Also wishing I could hit this and this, but alas, no mad money...patience, Melanie, they hold these every year.....

Next weekend! and this!

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Image from here.