Tuesday, October 29, 2013

So much in my head

I'm slowly getting back into my groove after several days of travel and family visiting, and it's hilarious how writing here is a NEED more than a want, because it's not like I have anything mind-blowing to report.

I inherited a new-to-me iPhone 4, so I have a camera again, which is 14 kinds of awesome...once I get around to downloading the pictures, which should have occurred about 2 days ago...but we went hiking on Sunday, which meant lying around in a dazed brain fog yesterday, groaning occasionally because my everything hurt, and my right ankle arthritis flared up like the little bitch that it is and I couldn't find my decent ankle brace anywhere, because apparently it's been a good ankle year and I haven't used the damn thing since we moved.....

So the picture is from Tumblr, because I'm a lazy cuss, and I'm still piecing together how fricking adorable and weird Gatlinburg was...like an American tourist trap crash-landed and sprawled all over this delightful southern valley, so that it felt like a Jersey Shore boardwalk had transplanted itself in the mountains.

This autumn doesn't feel quite as showy, color-wise, as it was last year, but it was still incredible. The hotel we stayed at was within walking distance of almost everything of note, so we barely used the car...which also explains why my legs still aren't speaking to me. The prices there were about what you'd expect, so we didn't splurge much (and Hubs and I couldn't splurge til Friday anyway, because my delightful company decided to play around with payment processing and not tell those of us affected). But just wandering was a blast too, all the people-watching and hilarious storefronts. Ripley's is big there, and handmade candy kitchens, and all variety of shops; and the black bear is definitely the unofficial mascot of the area.

There's a ski resort smack in the middle of town, so we took the tram up there to look around, and I wished I had the balls to take the ski lift up the rest of the way, because the alpine slide looks nifty as heck...but I pussed out (I have a mild fear of heights). I'm the person who wishes rope tows still existed, so I could ski without having to deal with lifts. We hit a moonshine distillery for their free tasting (good stuff!), and discovered that peak season is not the time to hit the pancake houses (the lines were laughable).

My Lil Sis celebrated her 30th turn around the sun with this trip, and it was delightful. On Friday we headed to Bryson City to ride the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad up to the Nantahala Outdoor Center. The train has open cars with no windows for leaf watching, for those of us who aren't afraid of freezing our tails off (temps were in the 40s that day). We came prepared and appropriately clothed, and it was an awesome time! We found an AMAZING restaurant/coffee shop in Bryson City for dinner afterward, which was a terrific way to end the trip.

Saturday I had to get some work in, so after we picked up Mom's dog at the kennel and hit the farmer's market, I dove into the sites and Mom and Lil Sis wandered town, and then we met them for dinner at Avenue M. Food was delish, service was meh. They need to school their servers on sommelier terminology. Telling us the wine comes from grapes ain't gonna win you that 20% tip.

Sunday we hit Craggy Gardens, which was a lot easier than I remember, though my body is definitely telling me differently now. It reinforced how we need to be taking weekend days for hiking around here; there's no shortage of nice places/trails in the area and it's nuts that we're not taking more excursions. Of course, I'm getting this jones when we're a month away from the Parkway closing ;) That's OK though, as it definitely isn't the only game around town.

Pretty sure the rest of this week is workworkwork. I'm a bit behind, and much as I'd love an apple orchard excursion, I'm also recognizing that pickings are winding down and work must take its place front and center. The local Ingles and Greenlife have decent produce sections if I get in an apple butter and sauce making jones...but right now I'm more concerned with getting work done so I may can blackberry jam and cherry preserves with my freezer stock this coming weekend, and getting the bread recipe right. I was going to bale on the edX cooking course, but woke up today with renewed vigor toward learning that stuff. If I'm hoping to process more of my own food in the future, I definitely want to know the science of it. I thank Ben Hewitt for that motivation; his posts of late have been all about food making, and I'd love to be able to do that without the crippling worry that I could poison family members.

Image from here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


So deliciously chilly out this morning! 50s with a stiff breeze with more of the same into the weekend. I'm so simultaneously delighted and surprised by it. I really did get used to no seasons in Florida, because having it cold again so soon feels very weird. Not complaining, mind you, far from it...just tickles me that I'm so surprised. Half my brain is thinking, "wait, it gets cold in October?" while the other half reminds me that every Halloween as a child was frustrating because Mom and Dad would make us wear jackets over our costumes when trick or treating.

We're off to Gatlinburg this week! It's a quick trip to celebrate my Lil Sis's 30th. We'll enjoy good food and see the sights, and hike a pinch of the Smokies. Friday we'll play tourist leaf peepers on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. Should be cold, but gorgeous!

Mom J's weekend visit was quiet; we went to town once, but mainly stayed in, which was good for me, because with back-to-back visits, I worked quite a bit. Been working hard this week to afford taking the time for this trip without coming unspooled, and so far so good. I'll bring the laptop, but I'm betting I'll be making up what's left of this week's quota mainly on Saturday when we're back.

Have a great week, y'all! Go crunch in some leaves!

Image from here.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Another week past. It was a good one. Still not eating enough veggies or completely off wheat, but I'm reading Wheat Belly and should be initiating the latter very soon. So far, that book is well-written and illuminating.

The niece caught strep and couldn't come visit. We'll probably take it easy this weekend. I'm trying to finish up work, so I can join Hubs and Mominlaw on their jaunts.

Got the bill from the ER visit. It was just as bad as I thought it would be. I'll be calling the financial counselors at the hospital on Monday to see what wiggle room they have on payment plans, cuz that sucker's gonna take a while to pay off.

Discovered this blog this morning...should make nice filler today when I'm struck with concentration lapses while working.

Mom J came bearing the gift of a gorgeous old-fashioned butter churn. She found it for $50 at a local antique store; the image reflects it nicely and it's bigger than I thought it would be - 4 quarts! Can't wait to put that sucker to good use.

Gotta get back to work while there's no distractions...have a great weekend, y'all!

Top image from here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Aaaaaaaand, we're open again!

I'm posting political vitriol here tonight, because I can't post it on Facebook. I have a wealth of friends and relatives who are conservatives, and I'm not about to get into a pissing contest about the shutdown with them. They're never going to see my side, and I'm certainly never going to see theirs, ever again.

As some of you know, I was a Republican in college. I ran for student offices, held leadership positions, and blindly followed a herd, mainly because my parents were conservative and I didn't know how to think for myself yet.

Yea, OK, also, there was this guy......anyhoooo.....

College is supposed to instill free thinking, but I was a serious late bloomer. I didn't come to my liberal senses until about 10 years ago, as I watched government change, the nation change, and I realized I believed many things that were actually ideals on the left side of the aisle. Not maligning conservatives here, because we live in America and everyone is entitled to their opinion, and free speech is #1 on the Bill of Rights hit parade. I used to make fun of card-carrying members of the ACLU and now I am one. But this isn't about a mea culpa, not really...

I'm watching CSPAN tonight. The House passed the amendment allowing for the reopening of government tonight, following the Senate's passing of their bill, and it's headed to the White House for Obama's signature. I'm just enough of a masochist where I went to FoxNews.com to see how they were taking the compromise. Sure enough, the headline reads "It's Over...For Now."

They're right of course, as these amendments only extend our finances into January 2014. But what they really mean is that they're not done fighting to somehow take the Affordable Care Act and unmake it as a law. And while that baffles me on 14 different levels, it also doesn't surprise me at all, as I do remember the poor and lesser Americans not being worth the time of day back when I was a rightie. The sound byte was all about giving a hand up vs. a hand out, and there was no room for negotiation in that statement. But they don't seem to get how that separates them even further from the constituencies that they're attempting to represent, and I really pray that it starts biting them hard in the ass. Because dividing America between the haves and the have-nots must not stand.

It's an epic-sized ivory tower in Washington, where they don't see that for every welfare crack mama with no job and 4 kids nursing on government's tit, there's also 10 lower-middle class families who work their fingers to the bone to make ends meet and when they come up for air, they find they make too much to obtain any government subsidies, but meanwhile their kids can't afford college. Jon Stewart illustrated it rather beautifully last week in a segment where CNN or some-such interviewed a woman who was finding she made too much money to take advantage of the state subsidies provided under the ACA, but she lived in a miserable looking, manufactured single-wide. Her quote could've been written by anyone in the under-$40K-a-year bracket (paraphrased): "When you're faced with the choice of going to the doctor or putting food in your kids' mouths, what do you think the choice is gonna be?"

I got off on a tangent...my original reason for opening this post was anger. Not at the shutdown, but at the Republicans' continued unwillingness to compromise. They act like they caved, they're all going to affect hangdog expressions for the next day or so as they speak in compliant, Reaganesque tones about everyone working together for the good of the people, and they'll pray to the election gods that their party lives through any primaries this month and next.

I can't find it on the Interweb anywhere, whether the vote required a regular majority or a 2/3rds majority, and my political science degree is seriously dusty. But I'm going to assume they only needed a regular majority, because that's the only explanation I can find for the House conservatives saying that even though they (personally) were voting "no," there was no doubt that the bill would pass and we'd be up and running again, thanks to their efforts. Yea, I wouldn't sit by the mailbox waiting for the thank-you notes, you magnanimous bastards. Because if the vote needed 2/3rds to pass, then I'm livid. There are currently 432 House members able to vote on the floor. The bill passed 285-144. I'll save you the trouble of clicking on your calculators.....2/3rds of 432 = 285.

Coincidence? I'm just saying, even though it was probably a regular majority that was needed, we liberals definitely can't sit on our laurels now and think "whew, dodged a bullet," because we didn't dodge a damn thing, and in a few short months, we could be right back where we were, fighting with white men who think like it's 1950 and don't care about anyone below their tax bracket.

Y'all know I take the Affordable Care Act fight personally. I created my profile and started shopping on healthcare.gov the day after my ER visit last week, and I'm hoping to get in on some of the NC state subsidies. As an obese freelancer, I was turned down by not one, but two insurance plans when I went hunting months back, and the only reason they gave was my weight.

I may be the size of a Biggest Loser contestant, but between my family history and my actual health, I'm not exactly a heart attack waiting to happen. I'll bet it wasn't even my weight, rather, my BMI was too high on one of their all-knowing charts. They pigeonhole people, because it's a business that doesn't want to do what it's built to do: pay for people's medical care. I get it; they're private, they're there to make a buck. But that only punctuates how important it is to have a government-run health care system. Another Jon Stewart gem from last week brought up the point that when uninsured people go to the ER, and then default on their bills, the insurance companies are, in part, forced to take up the slack financially, which in turn results in higher premiums for the hard-working Americans who are paying into the system properly. This is where I get confused with the Republicans' insistence that the ACA is evil...because if more people are insured, won't the insurance companies have to come up with a new excuse for raising premiums? Oh, not to worry, since all the private insurance companies are so concerned with the government taking away their business, that they're spreading the rumors about higher premiums anyway "to cover the costs of ACA."  And any left or centrist publication will tell you that's bullshit.

Half of me didn't even want to bother with insurance for me, because it's hard enough right now making the payments on Les's premiums. I found a doc here in town who caters to the underinsured and uninsured, and they're doing a bang-up job. But thanks to that little jaunt to the ER, I was fully reminded of the necessity of health insurance...and we haven't even gotten that potentially-cringeworthy bill yet.

My point (and I do have one...sorry, guys, this was a long one) is that the system's still VERY broken, but the Affordable Care Act is at least a Band-Aid for the very large crowd of folks like me, who desperately need insurance, don't want to be a burden to society, and can't afford or get into a decent plan. I am losing weight now and getting healthier, but Obama's pre-existing condition clause in the ACA still practically made me weep when I learned about it, because it said "my government gives a damn and isn't going to leave me out in the cold." Sure, that's a rather Currier & Ives way of looking at it, but I still believe in that American Dream. I don't see that I should be excluded from a system that ultimately helps government, just because I'm plus-sized and have the audacity to work for myself.

Image from here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This and that

To be feeling so much better, is a gift.

The leaves are finally turning this week, and it's definitely fall. It could drop into the high 30s at night as early as this weekend, but looks like I still have a week or three before the first frost. We're pulling the last of our meager harvest this week, and I'll cover and move things around.

We spend our days and nights with the windows open now. Electric bill should be awesome again. It's chilly today, and I look forward to walking later.

I will own a flannel shirt this year, and wear that sucker so much that I need to patch the elbows by spring.

Repairing a flat-screen TV, it turns out, costs just as much as buying a new set. This is a disappointing realization, not just because we're sinking money into repairs that may not be worth their cost, but also because it so punctuates just how much of a throwaway society we've become.

That said, it's also helped me see that I don't need to be in front of the box as much as I usually am. I do work better with distractions, but so much of what I normally have on in the background is crap I've already seen. I'm hoping this drought of TV watching that I've been subjected to this week, will help me steer away from having it on for the sake of having it on. I really should only watch first-run stuff. Been dipping back into knitting and reading this week, and I know my head's in a better place because of it.

Sucks that such a drastic health issue needed to occur for my habits to change, but I am relieved that some changes occurred rather easily and quickly. I have one cup of coffee now in the mornings, then switch to water, and then have a cup or two of tea in the evenings. My head hasn't balked at the change in caffeine intake, and my moods are stabilizing after the first week. Well, I think they have, anyway...Les might have a different take on the subject. ;)

Feeling so. damn. good.

Image from here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

New Week

Didn't feel much like a weekend. Saturday was work interspersed with errands. Sunday was work interspersed with kitchen stuff. Made two loaves of white-wheat that came out maddeningly flat (will I never get bread right?), and an apple butter pumpkin pie that should more than make up for the breads.

Hubs adores apple butter pumpkin pie. It's a Paula Deen-pre-diabeetus recipe, and we were purging the freezer a week ago and discovered some apple butter left over from last year, so seemed as good a reason as any to make a pie. We'll be hitting Sky Top at least once in the next 3 weeks, so there will be more apple butter making in the near future...and applesauce, apple pies, apple muffins....sigh...

I had a single bite, because it's pretty off-limits to yours truly right now. It did not disappoint. :)

Carefully adding more protein to the diet this week, and decreasing the high-glycemic carbs even more. Recognizing that I can't really have crackers or any bread right now, and that's OK. I indulged in a slice of toast yesterday, and it was fine; but this is about losing weight and keeping the gallbladder in check, so I'll do whatever it takes. Plus, I can't lie, much as we talk about how we can't let our emotions be guided by a number on a scale...the fact is that I dropped a whole 10 pounds last week, and my gods, that feels GOOD!

I know I can't keep up that pace; I was practically starving myself last week, out of sickness and fear dictating my food choices, and I know it's not healthy for the body to lose weight that quickly for an extended period. Heck, it could even cause another gallbladder attack! But I'm over the first hurdle, my motivation is set, and my mind is clear.

Mom J and the niece roll into town on Thursday, for a weekend stay. I only hope I've got enough work done where I don't have to be completely antisocial while they're here. Lil Sis and Mom visit the week after; Lil Sis is turning 30 so we're jaunting over to Gatlinburg for a short visit to celebrate. Should be a blast!

Have a great week, y'all!

Image from here.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Check-In

It was a quiet week. Yesterday was the first day I started to feel normal again. My belly pain is all but gone, I'm trying some new supplements, and my diet has undergone a pretty severe overhaul. That picture is as close as I'll get to bread for the foreseeable future.

Editor's note: What's wrong with bread? High-glycemic foods cause the pancreas to create more insulin, which in turn causes the liver to create more cholesterol. I know, that was a newsflash to me too! Too much cholesterol filtering through the gall bladder creates gallstones. So, the good news, at least, is that these dietary changes oughta knock any pre-diabetes off the list as well, as I drop weight.

It's a big learning experience, figuring out what I should eat. I made wilted greens the other night to go over a sweet potato, and confirmed that I'm not a greens gal. Recognizing that this needs to happen in stages. Start with the foods you know you like, that you're allowed to eat. Experiment as you go. No point trying to force new foods...that'll only lead to disappointment and potential cheating, and there's no room for cheating right now, not if there's any chance of it bringing back that pain. I definitely got the hint.

The health distractions this week mean I'm a little behind on work. The weather's amazing here, so that ain't helping. The leaves are s...l...o...w...l...y...starting to change. Hubs and I hit the Antique Tobacco Barn yesterday while running errands and came away with a bread box and a hand-crank coffee mill. I hope to start walking again this weekend, gotta see how the body feels.

Have a good weekend, y'all!

Image from here.

Monday, October 07, 2013

A quiet week

This is going to be a quiet week here, probably. One of reflection, of turning inward. There are books to read, I'm starting that e-course, and work keeps me hopping.

I had a health issue this past weekend; Melanie's Gym has more on that. I'm learning what's OK to eat and what is not. I'll be practicing meditation, and in another day or two when my energy is back, I'll start walking again. I thought about walking today even, but I'm still pretty bone tired, and besides, it's soggy outside.

The queues are pretty dry lately, which means more working in the evenings. That sucks a little; I'd rather my evenings be spent with a cup of Tulsi and some knitting or a book. But it is what it is.

We're going from warm snap to cold snap here, so the leaves should start turning more this week. It's nice to have an extra layer on occasionally. Need to assess plants, and buy hoophouse stuff end of week.

Have a great week, y'all!

Image from here.

Friday, October 04, 2013


Not much to report. An average week. Get up, try to focus. Keep a clean house. Watch expenditures. The simple things.

Tropical Storm Karen is supposed to bypass most of Florida and drench us instead early next week, so thought that image was appropriate. And purty. I so adore fall.

Haven't been driving in a couple of days. Tomorrow, we'll drop off recycling and hit the north farmer's market, and I'm hoping to see more color in the trees. It naturally occurs a little later here, but we're getting close to peak.

New post at Melanie's Gym. Send some strength please that all that talk becomes reality.

Have a good weekend, y'all!

Image from here.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Hello October!

My favorite month. The leaves are taking their sweet time changing up here, but I'm betting that will adjust itself in just a week's time. The pumpkins are out at Whole Foods, and the apple orchards are getting busy. The silly temps are climbing just a bit this week, but honestly, we're talking 70s here, so I'm still my usual happy self.

Can't imagine working in hospitality up here right now...they've got to be losing their minds a little. The government shutdown means the Blue Ridge Parkway stays open, but all the facilities, like visitors centers and bathrooms, are closed. Great for short drives, not great for big, long hikes. Naturally, those closures extend to all the national forests and parks up here too, so bottom line is that if Congress doesn't get their shit together soon, the 2nd largest industry up here (tourism) will take a yucky hit.

I'm a Daily Show/Colbert Report fan, so I just rail against the right and try not to post political stuff on FB, where my conservative friends and relatives can attack. I've never been a debater, which feels cowardly as I type it, but it's also because I look on the whole health care thing from a deeply personal viewpoint, so don't even try to change my mind. I'm self-employed, and one of the uninsured, waiting for January 1st when my pre-existing obese ass can get insurance, thanks to President Obama, so don't whine to me about how the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, when the Supreme Court made it law months ago.

I'm seesawing a bit, but rallying. Spent yesterday fighting for focus, mainlining carbs, and generally being a grouch. Today I woke up knowing I was going to get stuff done, and sure enough, there's fresh bread and rolls on the counter, homemade waffles in the freezer, and bowtie lasagna to eat the heck out of the rest of the week.

I unearthed the 2nd bedroom this past weekend; sucker had gone to seed before our trip. HP replaced my bum adapter, so I can work on my laptop now without saying a prayer every time I plug the damn thing in. I'm getting a handle on my time management. Life is good.

Image from here.