Friday, December 26, 2014


It's the day after Christmas and all through the house, not a creature is stirring except this web editor who would LOVE to be napping...


We left Aiken at 10:30 a.m. Stopped for Chipotle on the way back. It was almost on the way, winkwink.

I sat down to the laptop at 3 p.m. I should be trying to do 25 sites today and 25 tomorrow. I'm skeptical that that will fully occur.

My anger and frustration are two-fold. I have an IT department that royally screwed me over last weekend, and there's no way they can or will make that up to me at all. It's my bad luck that I'm a freelancer, and I have to suck it up.

There's also the mother-in-law. She started trying to ingratiate herself and our niece into a visit here about a week ago. We balked, on several accounts: I'm buried in work, she was just here for Thanksgiving and we were visiting for Christmas, and we had my family visiting right after Christmas. For her, it has nothing to do with actually visiting us; she wants an escape from her home while the kid is on vacation.

We decided to work our way around to a hard "no" with her. She fished around the subject with me once or twice while we were down here, and I hedged and suggested they come up for the 3-day weekend that usually occurs around MLK in January, as that would be better for us. Honestly, I'm so buried in work worry right now, I tried not to answer her directly because I was spending the entire time down there just marking time through the holiday and holding my tongue. It's an unhealthy house, and they do NOT actually want my opinion on the situation.

Then Les went upstairs for something last night, and his mom, in a voice heavy with reject, said something about how she guessed she and Kylie wouldn't be visiting this week. Les got just pissed enough and said yea, that's right, that we're here visiting now (in Aiken), and that we just saw her at Thanksgiving, so it's not like it's been ages. She tried to throw guilt about disappointing Kylie. He reminded her that it's not his fault she told Kylie they'd be going when she hadn't solidified plans with us, and she didn't give us enough notice. She tried to claim she'd mentioned it at Thanksgiving, and he said nice try. But she's still his mom, so he wrestled with guilt and anger the rest of the night too.

It's a house of manipulators, and I've helped him see that we don't have to respond to that bullshit. But it's still family, so treading carefully is essential.

I'm so damn glad to be home. We only visited for 24 hours, and it was more than enough for another year. But I'm coming down off the stress, and I'm exhausted; and that doesn't bode well for my focus or my ability to get this crazy number of sites done. There's coffee and sugar in my future, as I plow through my sites and thank the gods that I've created a safe and healthy haven for us to come home to.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The calm and the storm

After the shock wore off, I actually had a really terrific weekend. I was at loose ends at first, but given how close we are to the holiday, that didn't last. We spent Saturday pulling off most of the rest of our holiday shopping and wrapping presents. We went down to South AVL to grab dinner at Chipotle on their first day, and while the wait was what you'd expect, their delivery was terrific - no complaints, good food, great, hardworking, cheery staff. I was in heaven!

Sunday was Yule, so we got up and opened our presents to ourselves and then had breakfast. I popped out to the store once, but otherwise stayed close to home, reading and gaming. Didn't want to bake because we still don't have room in our freezer, and don't want stuff drying out between now and Thursday/Christmas.

And then it was Monday (today).....

I joked on Facebook that I hoped I would be back online by 10AMish, so I wouldn't have to cast a naughty spell on the IT folks who put me in this position. I'm a believer in karma, but they are fucking with my livelihood here.....

10AM came and went.....

12 noon came and went.....

By 1PM, I was enjoying a small conniption. I brought my laptop into the kitchen so I could get a jump on the holiday baking anyway, while keeping an eagle eye on the work email for any news. My immediate bosses were sympathetic, and their hands were tied; so I wasn't mad at them. I was however, starting to compose an imaginery letter to our CEO in my head.....

Dear dotcom CEO,

So you were always a big proponent of an open door policy, even as the company went from small to huge. I always liked that about you. However, today, let's just say you're lucky I live in NC now.

I recognize it would be employment suicide to actually show up at your office door with my head exploding, but I just want you to understand how stressful it is to not be able to work, when this venue is my sole means of earning money right now. I get that I should have a safety net; believe me, this weekend brought that home in spades. But the fact remains that this shit should NOT have gone down the weekend before Christmas. We independent contractors have schedules we keep, and we have families to travel to for the dang-blasted holiday. I can normally roll with the punches pretty well, but when family responsibilities are lodged smack in the middle of a week and I'm unable to get any jump on my work at all.....well, that's bullshit and shouldn't happen.

You locked me out of almost 4 days worth of work, with no ability to make up that time other than spending the next 6 days running myself into the ground. I want restitution. I understand there are likely laws against awarding stock options to independent contractors, so I'll just be gracious and take cash.

(hysterical laughter devolves to ugly cry)

Ah, Melanie's's a happy place.

So here it is, 4PM, and I'm finally working (well, once I finish venting here). No chance of extra money, just nose to grindstone and work on my protective shield to deflect family stress once we're visiting. Here's hoping.....

Merry Yule, y'all! In spite of all this, it was really lovely here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Finding words

My frustration level over the last 2 hours has skyrocketed, and I don't want to rant on Facebook.

This morning, I knew I wanted to do a little shopping. Just got paid, and we haven't been able to do any holiday shopping up until now. Jumped online to see if I could knock out any sites before the stores opened. The kitten was kind enough to wake my ass at 630 this morning. If I need help getting up with the chickens once we have them, I swear all I'll need to do is get another kitten. Little furry alarm clock, that one...

The tool I work with is web-based, but was down, so I made sure it wasn't just me - emailed my supervisors - and was told that IT was on it. So I figured I'd take the morning and get the shopping done. Hubs was awake and came with, and we meandered here and there all over East AVL, getting most of our holiday shopping taken care of, as well as doing a decent grocery shop for the first time in 3 weeks. Didn't get home til 3ish, and by the time I got back online, it was 4PM....where I was greeted with the inability to get into the tool still.

Further investigation revealed they had JUST come up with a remedy, which involved downloading a fresh app to my smartphone (wha?) in order to acquire a security code that I would then tell IT, so they could catalog it with my name before I can move forward to trying to get into the highly secure program that might lead me to the tool (although they mention a prerequisite of being in a program that I haven't accessed in 2 years, because independent contractors get tossed out of such things)....and you get the idea.

And by the time I've figured out how to get the information they need, it's freakin' 4:45PM on the Friday before Christmas and every conceivable Monster-drinking IT geek burned hell out of there at approximately 4:44PM.

I exchanged a couple emails with my manager-to-be, and she's aware of my predicament, but her hands are tied. IT may or may not be working the problem this weekend; as far as I know, only Tech Support runs 24 hours there still. I'm not privy to nearly the scuttlebutt, being up in NC, but I don't think this is an accident, this latest outage, more like an upgrade that went horribly wrong.

Why is this so lousy? Several reasons...the main one being that the timing just blows donkey butt. Thank the gods I wasn't behind by much; I try to knock out 100 sites a week and I was in the 70s when this went down, and we're on the first week of the pay period, so normally, I'd say oh well and make up the difference the next week. 

But this means I can't work until Monday.....on Christmas-damn-week. We're traveling Thursday to visit family and staying a house that is so chaotic, so full of negative energy, that I won't even bring my laptop would be pointless to attempt to focus. Besides, we'll be celebrating the holiday as much as possible, making a nice dinner, playing with our 8-year-old niece, and trying our best not to rock a very shaky boat. Les's side of the family, unfortunately, has become painfully fractured since his dad passed.

It's all doable, but man, it's going to be hard. I was hoping to knock out holiday baking Tuesday or Wednesday. I normally do it earlier, but our freezer is packed to the gills lately and there isn't any room for half a dozen pound cakes or whatever. My mom and Lil Sis are visiting one day next weekend for gift exchanging, and I know Saturday would be better for them. But if I'm unable to plow through a significant chunk of sites Monday through Wednesday.....

I am fit to be tied, and there's no remedy except patience. 

Monday, December 15, 2014


This blog's practically defunct, because I figure if I'm investing the $18 a year to have a Wordpress account, then that blog should get the majority of my mental drivel. But that said, I rely on this one for when I need to talk about nothing. I guess I should call it the Seinfeld blog.


I've been crazy busy. Work has been paying extra, but only if we do more than 100 sites a week, and it's a royal bitch just getting to that number, because they're outsourcing again, and godbless'em, I'm sure the company's saving money, but it's at the expense of the editors' sanity. Some of the copywriting is so abysmal, I want to write the CEO an anonymous letter questioning his intelligence at allowing people for whom English is obviously a second language to be writing English websites. Alas, we send sites back for more work, we send feedback, and we suffer in silence instead.

So they pulled that on Thanksgiving week (right when the mother-in-law was visiting) and then again this past week, and I'm so drained I spend my days off not doing a whole lot beyond playing on the Kindle and staring into space. Actually, haven't had a day off in a solid week, because I get twitchy when there are ecommerce sites in the queue just sitting (because they're easy, if not easy money anymore), so when the extra money period had passed yesterday, I knocked the ecomms out just to get a jump on the week. Felt a little like that ep of M*A*S*H when Hawkeye couldn't stop operating, but I'm also pushing past family stress regarding the holiday and enjoying very little holiday spirit right now, so I  put my focus where it does the most good.


Random: I understand the point of the traffic sign "Bridge Ices Before Road". Makes lots of sense to have those up here. I get that it probably has to do with different materials having different temperatures (my dad's voice is in my head saying something about the static coefficient of friction too); and most bridges are concrete, whereas blacktop is warmer and doesn't freeze as fast. My question is: if they've blacktopped over the bridge, what's the point of the sign?
This went thru my head while flying down highway this morning to procure cut-rate Krispy Kremes. Go Panthers!


I started knitting Les socks for Yule. I don't see them getting off the needles by then.


Eye insurance is a joke. I pay into a plan every month for the privilege of a $10 copay on appointments and a royal fleecing everywhere else. Anyone who thinks that contact lenses are elective must have perfect vision. What's sad is it's a good plan probably, by industry standards. They pay $40 off wholesale on frames, 100% on lenses, OR up to like, $115 on contacts annually.

Either/or is frustrating enough when you consider that it makes good sense to have a decent pair of glasses around for when you have eye problems, your contacts run out or crap out, or some other issue. My eye allergies this year alone have demonstrated the need for a good pair of specs. Alas, it's that either/or that usually keeps me from getting new glasses, but my prescription has changed enough in recent years (I just LOVE being over 40!), where it was time for a new pair.

So I told them to run the insurance on the glasses, and I'll save up for the contacts in January and just buy 'em online. Here's where the insurance falls through. Lenses = a very old-fashioned idea of what lenses entails. They cover single vision, bifocal, or trifocal (with lines). No Progressives. No High Index.

I live in contacts, and I have a decently strong prescription; so I say screw that and get the Progressive, High Index lenses, because I want the most optimal visibility possible. I normally HATE wearing glasses, and I'd love to be able to change that viewpoint with a nice decent pair. Insurance thinks I should look like the girl on the bus at the end of Ferris Bueller.

So in addition to paying $300+ for glasses, then I get to turn around and pay $200+ for contacts, because they consider them ELECTIVE???

The only bright spots in this story are a) I should be able to pay off the glasses by my next paycheck, in spite of Christmas (crosses fingers). and b) the trial contacts he ordered helped me see that my left eye has improved significantly. My focus issues are clearing up, and I'm not as frustrated with my astigmatism.


I went shopping last night at the local Ingles. They have those smaller carts with upper and lower baskets, and I slipped my phone into the little tray in front as I shopped. Finished shopping, left phone in cart, drove home. Thankfully, we live in BFE with civilization, so it wasn't too huge a hardship to race back up there when I got home and discovered I was without my communication device. Cart was gone, so I checked Customer Service, but nothing had been turned in. A stock boy went outside to check all the small carts in the parking lot (serious KUDOS to Ingles for their southern hospitality training! I wanted to hug the kid afterward.). I went walking up and down the aisles, praying that some old fart was shopping and hadn't even realized that the phone was there.

I found the phone all the way in Dairy, in a young fart's cart, as it turned out, and my assumption was correct - she hadn't even noticed it was there.

It's a password-protected iPhone 4S, so it's barely worth stealing, but I couldn't help wondering a couple of zoned out people get when they shop. How that definitely worked in my favor this time. And how in spite of it being an older model iPhone and password-protected, if I'd forgotten it in a city market, the chances of my finding it would have decreased significantly.


That last story would be unremarkable, were it not for the fact that I went shopping last week, bought pasta and sauce, got back in car to drive to another errand, and realized I really should've bought ground beef too, for meat sauce, so after errand, went to the OTHER Ingles near us to purchase meat. I can't decide if my flakiness is reaching epic levels or what.....but I'm definitely getting off the junk food again after the holidays.


How do you regulate weight on two indoor cats of significantly disparate ages? Our cats are 11 years old and almost 8 months. We've discovered there's really no point in them having two separate and different food types (we've been buying Mature for the big girl and Kitten for the little guy), because the kitten hoovers everything. in. sight. He's already developed a pooch! This cat is no stranger to activity yet; he does play and fly around the house, but our apartment layout could be better and they just don't get the exercise they should for the amount of food they take in. After the holidays, we'll probably integrate a weight control formula slowly and see if that helps.

K, i'm done for now. If you stuck around through all that, I'm impressed.


I lied, one more thing.....

Asheville Citizen-Times is reporting our Chipotle opens on either Friday December 19th or Saturday December 20th. I'm torn between...

a) not wanting to go near the place for at least a week while they work out the kinks and disasters that occur in the first week of a restaurant's opening,
b) showing up on their doorstep first thing on opening day, so I can be the first person served, thus cementing my crazy obsessed fan status.

I'm only half kidding with option B.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sap, Grass, Leaves, Snow

I'm buried in Thanksgiving prep and the impending visiting of family, but this post of Ben Hewitt's rang so true to me this morning, that I had to repost it somewhere. 

I still pray for the days when the wheel of my year turns according to that subject line. I will make it happen.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Yea, I fell behind's bein' a hard week.

My attempt at a standing work station. Didn't have the angles quite right, made my wrist hurt. Also, legs didn't mind it much, but lower back was a whiny bitch.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Morning :: Noon :: Night

:: Morning ::
:: Noon ::
:: Night ::

Monday, November 10, 2014

Morning :: Noon :: Night

:: Morning ::

:: Noon ::

:: Night ::

Morning :: Noon?

I've seen a bunch of bloggers in the past, do a photo series of just simple shots from their mornings, noons, and nights. I thought about trying it yesterday, just for a week, in an attempt to be more present of my surroundings.

I've decided that people who do this live in larger houses, because the kitchen was a mess and the lighting sucked for taking any pics last night. Maybe tonight will be better. I hope to do this for a week, at least.

:: Morning ::

:: Noon ::

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Autumn Winding Down

Yea, it's been a while, sorry about that.

I've been blogging a bit over at Dark Meadow. Just updated my Tumblr blog a pinch, just for fun...haven't been over there in a while, was a nice visit. Also been thinking of starting up Melanie's Gym again. Because naturally, I've turned over yet another new leaf where my health is concerned and need the outlet for verbal spewage.

Thought the wooly worm lied, but turns out his predictions don't start til official winter (solstice), so he's not to blame for the hilarious white stuff we just got.

Halloween night, NOAA said we'd get about a quarter-inch. They didn't factor in the wind, I guess, because it looked more like 6 inches or so in some spots. Woke up to a winter wonderland...seriously, remember when Ralphie looks out the window Christmas morning in A Christmas Story? It was that white. Took 2 days to melt, and they're saying we may get more on Friday. The trees are standing around half-leafed, half-colored, looking confused.

September and October kind of flew. I'm hoping November settles in and stretches out a bit, so I can prepare for the holidays without wanting to blow my brains out.

We don't want to travel for Christmas this year. Whether or not we're able to get away with that without crushing guilt from one side of the family remains to be seen.

My side, thankfully, is hosting friends and doesn't mind that we want to stay put. They also have a better grasp of our financial straits. Hubs' side knows we're strapped, but it takes a backseat to their emotional needs, which are rather vast.

The new contract for work kicked my ass the first 2 weeks, and I'm not looking forward to the paycheck this Thursday because it's going to be less than I need it to be. Only comfort is the fact that I'll get an extra paycheck of sorts by the way the periods fall this month, so I may be almost able to catch up. But it's the other reason I'm not looking forward to the holidays yet...any gift giving is mainly going to occur from our hands and hearts, and that doesn't go over as well with Hubs' side of the family. In better years, Christmas was a time of serious giving and gluttony, and weaning away from that usually means some depression on their end at how life has changed. Coming up on 3 years without the patriarch, and that side is still at loose ends.

The weather changes have me itching to read, and finally to put my hands in yarn again. I haven't knitted in months, but all it takes is one walk around the local track with freezing ears to remind me my life would be better if I had a headband and/or a cap with a hole in the back for my ponytail, for hiking/exercising in winter. I'm getting back on a smart work schedule this week, and as I find my groove, it should free up my evenings a pinch.

As for reading, I'm still nipping away at Cold Antler Farm, have progressed to Dragonfly in Amber in the Outlander series, and am studying Ayurveda with the help of Deepak Chopra.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


Just some shots from my latest hike

My internal alarm clock is hilarious these days. Set the alarm for 10 so I wouldn't sleep too late, but wanted to allow myself a bit of a lie-in, given it was my birthday. I woke up at 9:57.

I woke up slowly, meandered out to grab coffee, check my email. Woke the Hubs up 2 hours later for bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches. The bacon's from Hickory Nut Gap, the eggs from Imladris (their 13-year-old son runs the egg business), the bread is homemade. I need to make more tomorrow. This recipe is proving our favorite, for a crumb that allows us to slice thin or thick and a soft crust.

I clicked on Google's doodle this morning, curious about the fact that I share a birthday with Tolstoy. Instead it takes me to their main page, where the Google is made up of birthday cakes and the alt tag says "Happy Birthday Melanie!" Have to admit, that's nifty. Creepy stalkery too, but nifty.

We left the house around 2 PM. I wanted to haunt the River Arts District a bit. I've been jonesing to try my hand at some mixed media. It seeped into my birthday wishes: I asked for and got some new acrylic paints, new brush markers, and canvas panels. People are going to be subjected to my idea of art in their Christmas stockings this year. Gods help them.

The inspiration was there. We both came away with an appreciation for Nancy Joyce's work, and wandered through a handful of galleries, admiring several different types of media. The artists were usually working, but welcoming and very willing to answer questions and explain their processes. Even as dilapidated as that area can seem, right on the train tracks, surrounded by buildings in various stages of exterior disrepair, all I could think was what a prime location it is for an artist's studio. Really good vibes down there.

I drove us up to downtown, snagged a meter spot in front of the Grove Arcade, and we walked to Urban Dharma, to watch the monks working on a sand medicine mandala, which will be completed at the end of the week and blessed in several ceremonies to commemorate the 2-year anniversary of the storefront temple and its continued good works. They're selling zafus and zabutons there now at good prices; I'll be visiting again soon. Next door is the Captain's Bookshelf, where we briefly wandered and came away with a tome a piece, because the Hubs and I are rather incapable of not spending money in a bookstore.

We hopped home to grab our pizza coupons and bring in the Amazon windfall from my Mom and Sis, and headed to Blue Mountain Pizza & Brew Pub here in Weaverville. I indulged in a microbrew created from local hops courtesy of Echoview Fiber Mill. Hubs hopped across the street to grab dessert before they closed or ran out, at Well Bred Bakery. Their chocolate fudge cake is a nice treat, and their Mountain Eclairs are rather legendary. Imagine a New York-style eclair the size of....I can't think of a decent size comparison. People call 'em cathead eclairs; the dang things are HUGE.

It's 9:35 EST here. I turn 45 at 9:56. I'm really relaxed now; the beer buzz has dissipated and was replaced with an impressive sugar high. I have 3 new books to tuck into, I'm itching to draw, and I need to get into work mode for tomorrow. I'm thinking of tearing into the 2nd bedroom and rearranging a bit again, getting it back in working order. It's gone to seed since the kitten arrived on the scene, and I've been working in front of the TV again more often than not...and then wondering why it takes me twice as long to get shit done. I'm ready to reorganize again.

The kitten's a purr machine in my lap, against my folded leg. Hubs feels bad because he doesn't think he got me enough for my birthday. I remind him that I have a shiatsu massage scheduled next week, and that the furry creature in my lap is the best present I've had this year. I'm having trouble keeping the wolf at the door these days, but I'm incredibly happy and know I have the strength to keep us here. What more do I need? I'm a very lucky lady.

Happy birthday to me!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Quick Check-In

I'm pretty good at avoiding the realities of life. This personality quirk keeps me optimistic in the face of scary stuff.

Money is painfully tight right now. I'm not making enough to cover all our expenses, and the tax bill will continue to creep up with penalties if I don't contact them soon. But I still have work, and I can always try for something more if things get too desperate. I just have to do more sites. That's doable.

I have a birthday next month. It's a big enough one to be sparking a bit of a midlife crisis. I'm mostly working on denial...for example, I've decided to stop aging beyond the aforementioned birthday on account of my fear of dying. But the timing is lousy, since money's so tight, because my dreams require money, or at least decent credit, neither of which are on the horizon right now. I want my farm. It's time to get working toward that for reals.


Loved that middle shot, just felt so "small town"...

So today I was crawling out of my skin and knew I needed to get out of the house. I thought about hiking, but quickly realized what I really wanted was to drive. I hopped in the car and headed toward Marshall, and then kept going. Hot Springs is 30 miles west of us, which translates to almost an hour away when you're new to the curvy roads. There were some serious drops and S curves to get down to the valley, and then you're tipped out into a tiny town that has made a name for itself as an Appalachian Trail thru point and a French Broad River access point. Rafting outfits lined the road near the river, and the Hot Springs Resort & Spa is the first thing you see as you drive into town.

Apparently there are actual hot springs that are supposed to offer healing properties there. I was more interested in the AT. I've been following Fimby, the Tougas family as they hike the AT, or as much as I can since I'm too cheap yet to purchase the vid series (yea, OK, not cheap, just frugal). Les and I talk about doing that crazy hike someday. It's a pipe dream, unless we can get physically fit and financially more stable. I know this in my heart though, so it motivates me. The drive took long enough where I didn't hop out to walk any of it, so I could say I walked the width of the AT, haha! But I'm glad I got out of the house. The drive was lovely.

That's what I needed the drive for, the motivation. I'm a little scared of not being able to keep the wolf at the door. I adore living here, and that could be taken away. I take chances with our finances occasionally, putting off paying a bill to take care of another, robbing Peter a bit to pay Paul, as my folks' generation would say. But in the back of my mind is the fact that we don't live in a normal apartment complex, that the landlord (who doesn't even live in the US apparently) could decide he wants to unload this investment property and not renew leases, and we'd be up shit's creek rather quickly without much locomotion. I'll be asking about a lease renewal at the end of next month, and I really don't anticipate a problem; but I'm a realist who likes to be prepared for any contingency.

I drove down the US highways at varying speeds, through gorgeous mountain ranges bordering the Pisgah National Forest. Mountains upon mountains, with views that literally took my breath away once or twice, reminding me of when we drove through West Virginia last year. I had escaped the house today hoping to see farmland, and I saw that and more. We're surrounded by farmland here, but you have to keep an eagle eye out for it because it's so nestled in the hills and valleys of the Blue Ridges. The fields are smaller than what you'd see in Pennsylvania or the Midwest, but they're no less agrarian, plenty of crops or stretches on their second cut of hay. Barns in various states of disrepair. I'll bring the camera next time.

I normally have every confidence in my ability to keep our heads above water. Money's thin enough lately to shake that resolve just a pinch. I'm thinking about downsizing, doing another purge of some of the apartment, wondering if we have anything worth selling. But I love living here way too much to lose it. Just gotta get a little ingenious, work a little harder.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Summer rains and kitten wrangling

We've been getting rain at night here, which is nice as it means less watering of the garden. But the fact it's July already has me worried about what will actually bear fruit out there. We should see flowers on the tomatoes and peppers this month. The Russett leaves have died off for the most part, and I need to sink my hands into the soil and see if that's because the tubers are ready, or if they're rotting under the earth.

We started seeds a bit late this year, and my organizing of the plants occurred late, and I fear I'll get a good lesson in how those slights affect my yields. But as I look at the tomatoes on their stakes and remember that every one of those plants came from seed this year, no seedlings purchased at the farmers markets, I still pat myself on the back. This is the time for learning.

I applied for a position at a local paper. It's a place that has already rejected me once, so I'm being realistic about my prospects. But it's also helping me think about what I want in a career. I don't even think of what I do as a career anymore; it's what pays for our livelihood. But as the IRS continues to send letters, I realize I need to step up my game. If I don't want to work outside of the home, a helluva lot more needs to occur on the homefront.

Ansel is a hilarious ball of energy, climbing wherever he can. Our bodies still bear his scratches and bites, but he's good at listening and showing himself to be more trainable than Fig ever was. Fig is rallying from her URI, thank goodness. Giving that cat medication is a two-man job; she's probably close to 15 pounds now. I'm so finding my peace with both critters. I appreciate Fig more now, and the little guy continues to heal my emptiness. I look forward to having more animals in my life.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014


Not much to report. The days are long, the weather's warm, the tea is sweet.

Kitten's name is still Ansel. Big cat got his cold. Garden stuff over at Dark Meadow. Accountability stuff over at Melanie's Gym.

My days this week are spent working, tending the garden, making exercise habit, and allowing myself to work slower at the laptop when there's a kitten hogging my left arm...

Ansel's a doll, mostly. Inquisitive, finding circuits to run in the house, biting and clawing mostly in play. I try to remind myself that he's teething, and we've employed spray bottles of water for when he gets too rambunctious. My scratches are healing. His belly is round.

Fig was almost reaching a level of tolerance and now we need to separate them again, because she started sneezing last night. It's all good though. We haven't really integrated them fully into each other's lives yet. We tried moving food and litter back into the common areas for Fig and found that a) Ansel thinks any litter box is a place to crap and play in, so b) Fig gave up food and pooping for 24 hours in protest. We don't want to have to resort to Kitty Prozac for her, so we're going at it more gradually for now.

I can't believe it's July. The calendar refuses to slow down, however badly I may want it to. I'm getting us back to eating in, not spending as much. It feels like we're missing out on things, and I have to remind myself that we both love it here and aren't going to be moving out of the area. That there is time. But I also have friends fighting cancer, and it's a good reminder not to let life pass by too. That making plans and following through on them is good.

Monday, June 23, 2014


I keep trying other names, but that one's sticking for some reason. We tried Orion last night, but it's not flying with me this morning. I almost don't want to name him Ansel, because Les flips it around a bit and calls him Aslan instead, and I'm not a huge CS Lewis fan. But when I look into his little kitten eyes, that's the read I get.
Poor little guy was terrific when we brought him home Saturday (after a detour to Petsmart to throw down ridic money on decent food and kitten toys, which he's so young, he's ignoring so far)...but yesterday after a long midday nap, the URI (upper respiratory infection) which is so common in critters that come home from shelters apparently, hit him big-time. Watching a kitten sneeze is frickin' adorable (well, until he snots on you a couple of times), but he started coughing last night, and you can just tell he's miserable. He has an appointment with the local vet this afternoon, not a moment too soon, because he's showing no interest in food today. Hubs is brilliant; he bought a little booger sucker and eye dropper last night, and I was able to get some water and milk into him this morning. I'll breathe a sigh of relief when he hits the vet's table though, or eats something solid.

Little dude turns 2 months today. We got him for a song (shelter was running a special). He's got his first shots, and he's neutered and microchipped. I'm hoping the vet takes the kitty insurance we've got for 30 days free, because I'd love for this not to be his well kitty visit, but owning pets is like having kids, so you find the money when it's needed.

I spent the weekend imprinting on him. He's a chest snoozer, to the chagrin of my posture. He's on my shoulder as I type this. Figaro is definitely more Les's cat, so we're trying this guy as more mine and so far so good. He's so tiny! I'm actually surprised they neutered him at a month and 27 days, because 2 months is norm, but he must've seemed strong enough.

We scored him at the first shelter we tried, about 15 minutes outside of Weaverville, one county over. I held a couple of other tiger/callie mixes and a white girl with black spots. Ansel has stronger tabby markings along his body, so when I spotted him, I asked to hold him, and he was definitely the most chilled out of the bunch. Slipped right into my arms and said hey. I went in there hoping they had orange kittens, but knowing I wanted to walk out with one, so the decision really wasn't hard at all.

Figaro is less than thrilled. Hell, she tolerates us pleasantly on a good day, but pet her when she's not in the mood or in the wrong place, and we're just as likely to get hissed at. 11 years old. She's a bit of a shithead. So we're taking her initial anger in stride. Les warned me she may act out, like not crapping in her box or something. Kind of seems right now that she's acting out by not crapping, period, so we moved her litter box to the bedroom for now, since we're isolating them anyway on account of the URI. Once Ansel's healthy and a little bigger though, we'll put them together more, ever so slowly. I swear, Fig's an above-average size cat, but I've seen bigger, but put them in the same room, and she looks like a friggin' panther!


Ansel's definitely feeding something in me...not sure I've been cross for the last 48 hours. I've been really damn mercurial this year, which I know is part hormones and part other body chemistry stuff, so it's nice to have my head and moods settled a pinch. I'm trying a new supplement, watching my moon cycle so I can supplement it with a tea that's geared to it, and I have a kitten on my shoulder. Life is good!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Quick vent

Nothing too exciting to report here, but I need to whine for a sec, and this is the place for that.

I did that 6K on Saturday. I fell once, but quickly recovered. I had my 2 days of soreness and almost-complete lack of focus following said walk. Then I woke up today hoping I would be back to semi-normal. My lower back apparently has other ideas.

Luckily, I'm not a person who has back problems, not really. It seizes up on me occasionally, but I get that it's thanks to the weight, and not (possibly yet) something else. I say that last part because my adorable Mommie is walking with a spine that's crumbling to pieces on her, and there's no way of knowing if that shit's inherited. But for now, I get that my back wouldn't be a whinylittlebitch occasionally, if I weighed less. That's definitely a given in this geometric equation.

But boy, when your lower back decides to be a whinylittlebitch, it affects EV.RY.THING. Try putting pants on like a normal person. Try bending anywhere without giving it some thought first. Try lifting your friggin' arms without pain. It's a blast.

So that's where I am today, when I was hoping to rearrange the 2nd bedroom, clean out the fridge of last week's leftovers, and hopefully get some damn sites done. The Advil isn't working, so I'll likely spend my last precious happy pill on this nonsense in the hopes I can at least catch up on sites. I hate taking the better part of a week to recover from busyness and exertion, but at least it's motivating and spurring me to real change.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Finding strength

Bartender: How old is she?
Iner: She's still shiny.....she still expects everything's going to turn out alright.
Bartender: That's a good age.

~ An Unfinished Life

You make allowances for family. It's a given, no matter how idyllic your family may seem. There are times when you must dig down deep and find your strength to deal with them. I wash dishes rather obsessively when I need to control my environment. Suffice it to say, we're gonna have a clean kitchen week here chez Johnson.

The MIL and niece arrived Friday. It's Sunday now. So far, time is crawling a bit. I have to start working, already have today, and my days will be full of it from now until they leave, and that will help with the whole time-crawling thing.

But I'm learning about myself as I interact with them, and it bears notice. How I am able to find patience when how I really want to react is "wow, seriously?!" (MIL was angry yesterday when she got a lousy steak at Cracker do you walk into Cracker Barrel expecting a decent steak?! Also, MIL's driving in general...I need a shot of whiskey before getting in a vehicle with her.) How allowances must be made for my niece's minor emotional and developmental delays, and when to take a hard line with her. The child could manipulate paint off a wall, but she's a product of an unhealthy environment. I've never been so glad that a child attended public school. I wish it were year-round. She needs the structure. And focus therapy. And speech therapy. And has no business going into any "gifted" program when she's getting C's in regular work. And....I'm not her parent.

My gods, the frustration!

But she's a smart critter too, bright and curious. I hung out with her outside yesterday, let her climb all over our creekbed. The water's way low right now, and there's plenty of bedrock there, so I let her explore so long as she remained in eyesight. She likes throwing rocks in the water to get a big splash. But she was also checking out bugs, wild strawberries, all the green.

We have an ancient and neglected playset just below our property, next to the creek, a climbing set with slide and a swingset. They're not 100% safe, and my first reaction was "absolutely not" to her playing on them, but I took another look yesterday and relaxed. What's the worst that could happen, she snags on something and needs a tetanus shot? Our town has an urgent care and she's Medicaid. Parenting, even spot/trial parenting, requires knowing when to react and when to relax.

Picking your battles...such a dance. Hubs was all, no problem, you can work in the bedroom, but I knew better. Could tell this morning that if I kept that up, I'd have a small person popping in every 5 minutes, half bored, half curious, wanting my attention. So I moved to the living room, and sure the work's going slower, but I'll make it work. The child is neglected rather criminally at home, so it makes sense she'd demand more attention. I'm not going to punish her for her parents' shortcomings.

I've popped outside now, so she can burn off some energy on that playset. She's being 7 this morning, a little needy, more than a little pushy. Hubs will take them up the Blue Ridge in a little while to see the views and picnic. For a second, just now, I thought some other kids had joined her. She's on the swings, singing at the top of her lungs. Such a great kid.

How different our lives would be with children. I'd get up earlier to knock out some work before the small ones rose, and my day would be punctuated by stolen moments of precious time, both for them and for the work that keeps my family fed. Same with if we had more animals, or a small farm. I'm not managing my time well enough in my present life, not nearly. Interesting that it takes a little reality to really see that. I wish, and say "if only" where the niece's raising is concerned, but the adjustment would be incredibly jarring. We are such lazy creatures.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Holding Pattern

When the Paxil really isn't working anymore, but you're taking it anyway because you are trying supplements in the hopes you won't have to rely on modern medicine and your doc drags his feet every time you suggest weaning off the damn thing...

Let's just say rallying is a relative term. Meaning it stalls when relatives come to visit.

They're not even here yet, but they're planning to stay a week in our tiny-arsed 2 bedroom apartment and one of them is 8 years old. I love her to pieces and ache that we can't raise her ourselves, because her home life could be better, but her visiting means I get to get creative on when and how I work, since I work from home. There will be library trips this visit. The work queues are high, we need the money, and we're traveling next weekend. I'm feeling the stress.

It's summer here, mid-80s during the day, still cool mornings and evenings. Stepping outside in the mornings and not having it be the Florida wall of heat...that's still a delicious novelty for me.

Happy Friday, y'all!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


No, this isn't going to become a blog that rants about the woes of perimenopause, so the 3½ males who read this site can relax. But seriously, if you don't sympathize with your wife during these trying times, you're asking for physical injury, so suck it up, gents! Luckily, my husband has about the kindest heart on the planet. I pray I haven't abused that kindness too badly this month. It's been rough.

I've been dipping back into projects slowly, things that speak to me. Bought tank tops, realized they fit too well, so they will serve as camis for now, but still needing workout tops that bring the sun to my arms...I'm cutting the sleeves off t-shirts. But combine those with my latest ball cap and I look like I just stepped out of the cab of a big rig, and that's just a shade too blue collar for me, so I'm hoping to spend my evenings the next week or so, sewing them at the sleeve and collar area just a bit to look more like tanks. Hopefully this will naturally lead to the apron building I've been rolling around in my head the last month too.

Got my first notice from the IRS.

Lil Sis registered us both for the Brew Dash. I'm in no shape to do a 6K naturally, which is why I pushed it so hard...I need real goals to motivate myself. Since that sucker's looming just 3 weeks away, I'm back to walking on a schedule, and jogging when the spirit moves me. I try not to give a damn about speed, but this is a timed 6K. Depending how godawfulhot it is that day, I may not care either. There's a comment right on the site that they don't mind walkers, so long as you stay out of the way of the runners initially. I can always time myself, and I probably will, just for kicks. Races are meant to be methods of pushing yourself, seeing what you can accomplish.

I have zero brain for work this week. I can feel myself rallying, hence the subject line, but it's an all-over waking up of the brain from the hideous fog it's been swamped in the last 3 weeks or so. With all the season finales over with, I'm at loose ends TV-wise, which has to be a good thing, and a good reason to get the hell away from the evil box for awhile...but it's a process. I ache to be outside more, so at least it's been easier to get out and walk...the key will be keeping it up after Brew Dash.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Random post

Since we're likely not going to be blessed with children, we definitely need more animals around this joint. One pathologically unfriendly cat ain't going to cut it. I mean, seriously, now I get how SAHM blogs are so popular...the kids provide unending material. This has been a dry week.

We celebrated Les's birthday this week. I tried too hard to cook him a nice meal and it didn't come out as well as I'd like. I tried my hand at banana cream pie and way overdid it on the whipped cream, and I added too much tomato paste to the beef and barley. He was a good sport about it, but birthdays are hard for him. One family member or another will usually forget to call him, and it definitely stings harder with his dad gone.

We went to Godzilla yesterday. I went into it never seeing any of the old flicks, not really caring about it, and had a blast. It was nice to get out of the house too...we were low on gas and money this week, and cabin fever was setting in nicely.

About once a year, my moon cycle will jump off track and go way late. It has done this for my entire 30something years of "being a woman" and I should take it in stride. But when you're 44, polycystic, childless, in denial about perimenopause, with a medically impotent husband...yea, I've already said too much. I'm just sorting through some extra fun emotions this week.

I've been thinking about looking for a real job. But I'm also recognizing that these thoughts are dictated by fear of the debt we're in, and that I need to sit down, really look at the numbers, and figure out how to make this lifestyle work; because I'm much happier working from home.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Craggy Gardens

I post pretty infrequently here these days, I fitness quests are still logged over at Melanie's Gym and my gardening and homesteading posts over at Dark Meadow Farm. I'm just changing a bit, I think...not wanting to pour everything out in public, diary-style. Shocking, I know.

But I visit this blog daily, because I troll the blogs on my list at the right, and having Dad up is quite bittersweet, so I thought I'd push him down just a pinch for some pics of Craggy this past weekend.

Mom and Lil Sis came up for Mother's Day weekend. We went to Wake on Saturday, and hiked to Craggy's high outlook on Sunday.

Wake deserves its own post. It's a foot sanctuary that offers soaks and massage for surprisingly reasonable prices. I can't wait to go back! It was the most relaxing experience I've had in ages!

The Blue Ridge Parkway, from Ox Creek to Mount Mitchell, was closed all autumn and winter, due to a 6-inch crack in the road caused by the torrential rains we encountered last summer. In spite of a busier snow season here this past winter, the contractors hauled some tail and got that stretch of the Parkway reopened in time for Mother's Day weekend. Makes sense for the tourism industry, but given our cold and wet winter, I wasn't expecting it to reopen before Memorial Day, so it was a nice surprise to read last week.

The rhododendrons aren't in bloom yet, but everything is lush and green, so the views from the top of Craggy Gardens were lovely.

Dear Department of the Interior, could ya maybe toss just a pinch of money Buncombe County's way so they can repair Ox Creek Road? It's abysmally torn up from the heavy-duty dump trucks accessing it to repair the Blue Ridge.

I digress...I'm glad it's open again. We access the Blue Ridge from Ox Creek, and I'm dying to go to Mount Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain, and other points north this summer. Can't wait to get to know my state better!

Monday, May 12, 2014

7 Years

It's that time of year again. Time to take note of the big guy.

Aortic dissection has subtle warning signs, no cure, and a 90% mortality rate. Dad had his first one in 1982. I guess you'd call it a near-miss, because they were able to operate and place a Dacron graft, a procedure that was pretty damn new at the time. Fast-forward 32 years and we're still talking about a 90% mortality rate, because when that sucker springs a leak, you better have put your affairs in order.

That graft lasted 25 years, and I wonder if it could have lasted longer if he'd lived just a pinch cleaner. I don't say that to be mean; it's just fact that the man was a meat-and-potatoes, butter with a side of butter guy and it certainly contributed to the artery blockages that put stress on the graft. But the real thing that killed him was old medicine; in 1982, when they placed grafts, they were still oversewing the aneurysm, and that meant taking away space, however microscopic, in vital arteries leading to and from the heart. Dad's carotid became 100% blocked, which meant his jugular was doing the work of two, which meant there was no way they could operate to repair the problem without serious risk of him stroking on the table. Since Dad never wanted to linger (he'd watched his own father vegetate from a debilitating stroke, and never wanted that for himself), it wasn't discussed.

Enough time has passed where I don't place blame or rant and rave over the injustice of losing him so young. The ache is no longer a daily occurrence. But today, May 12th, will always be bittersweet and a time of reflection. He wasn't an easy man to know, but I'm forever grateful for my life and my time with him. I miss him dearly, and hope he's proud of me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day

I guess if it helps people become more aware, then it's a good thing, but I don't understand the need for an Earth Day, not really. For me, every day is Earth Day.

Don't know if it's because I used to be a witch or just the way I've evolved into an adult. I identify as pagan now, half witch, half Buddhist with plenty of Celtic and Norse curiosity thrown in. I'm a gardener and farmer wannabe who gets pleasure from figuring out how to grow things. I see how the climate is changing for the worse because of humans, and it makes me ache; and I'm studying sustainability in the hopes that my efforts will retard that ever-so-slightly. Our next car will be some sort of hybrid, and I dream of solar panels and rainwater catchment.

Asheville is an amazing community, chock full of hippie types intent on changing the world. I hope to be able to find a niche of friends here eventually. I should be getting out more, to knitting circles or community gardening. It'll happen eventually. I'm only just getting back to some semblance of time management, and debt looms like a storm cloud.


The fair was so terrific...more on that over at Dark Meadow. I'm still processing, and digging into the books we bought. I experienced another 2 days of soreness after all the activity, and it was the push I needed to get walking again. I've already signed up for another 5K, this one in May, and I have my eye on that June 6K too.

My body surprised me by jogging a fair amount yesterday. I'm trying not to think about what it looks like, because it certainly isn't a Merriam-Webster definition of jogging. Not going to make any magazine covers any time soon, winkwink. But it's just a pinch more than a speed walk, and my joints aren't screaming today, so I must have been watching my gait well. Hot damn!

Image from here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday! Mother Earth News Fair! Huzzah!

I know! Twice in one week! Call Ripley's!

Was going to post on Dark Meadow, but the guilt over not starting seeds yet drew me over here instead. I'm plowing through sites today as quickly as possible, so I can plan out the delicious logistics of our weekend. Mother Earth News Fair is in town!

Homesteading is so much more than being a farmer. I stopped buying bread about 6 months ago, and never looked back - I make it by hand. Now that the farmer's markets have started up again, our Saturday mornings will consist of getting up at a decent hour to take a wander through the North Asheville Market, our cash jingling in our pockets as we maintain loyalty to vendors and make a friend or two along the way. Made breakfast this morning of a made-from-scratch waffle with unsweetened almond butter and local jam and was struck by how these simple things taste so much better than what the American food industry passes off as food.

Side note: the jam people at Imladris are often at the North market, and I've bought eggs from them a couple of times. The lady running the booth said her son was in charge of the eggs. Happened upon this article recently, which only increases my love of the area. Her son is 12.

Les and I attended the Fair in Seven Springs, PA, last September and it was an amazing, motivating time - a serious 3-day high. Even if you already have a farm or live sustainably, there should be stuff of interest for you there. From workshops to live demonstrations, if you have any interest in homesteading, living sustainably, knowing where your food comes from, animal husbandry, goodness, I could go's an educational and fun time.

Les learned enough about herbalism to start himself on a new hobby, and our apothecary has slowly grown ever since. Just this past week, we created a homemade first aid salve that will definitely replace anything with the name Neosporin in our cabinet (full disclosure: Les added arnica for pain relief and comfrey and plantain for wound healing, and double boiled everything instead of straight pan heat). I learned about a little bit of everything, and hope to narrow that focus just a touch with this year's workshops.

Joel Salatin is headlining again, Deborah Niemann and Dawn Combs are in the house, and I'm digging thru the program guide today to see when the demonstrations are occurring at the John C. Campbell booths, as I'd love for Les to see some blacksmithing first-hand. While I dream of enough pasture land for sheep to live comfortably, he dreams of a backyard forge.

Come on out to the WNC Ag Center in Fletcher, y'all! Should be a big time!

Image from here.

I'm not a sponsored blog, so this postscript is barely necessary, but Mother Earth doesn't know me from Adam and hasn't compensated me for this post. I just seriously dig what they do.

Monday, April 07, 2014

April Showers

Man, time flies. And it turns out I have 7½ readers instead of 6, because someone actually missed me, which is funny since I've always thought of this blog as a diary that very few read.

I pulled out of my responsibilities with Ashevillage, which made me sad but couldn't be helped. They weren't asking much of me, but we're in decent debt this year, and my attention needs to be focused on projects that actually make us money.

The landlord never inspected our place, but I'm glad I tore down the shelving out front, as it was a catch-all and an eye sore. I set up our plastic patio furniture and gardening containers out there, and I hope to have the same size garden as last year. Starting seeds this week. Guess I should decide on what the heck I'm growing...I'm already thinking it will be more of an herb and tea garden this year than veggies, just to be safe. I'd rather not have lots of veggies growing and have the landlord decide everything needs to be moved inside.


I'm still struggling with my weight issues over at Melanie's Gym. I'm not on the straight and narrow yet where that is concerned, unfortunately, but reading Robert Lustig's Fat Chance was illuminating, and I just did a 5K, my first walking race in years. Hell, maybe a decade. I finished in under an hour, my everything is sore, and I'm determined to improve myself more.


Over on Dark Meadow, I focus on the farm, such as it is. Our debt isn't going to go away overnight, unfortunately, but on the other side of the coin is the knowledge that our landlord is a bit of a douche (based on the way he's treating a neighbor), so I'm motivated all the more to improving our situation so we can find somewhere more stable.

April is shaping up to be rather excellent. I read and respect a handful of bloggers, and this past weekend, I got to meet a biggie: Ashley English of Small Measure. She hosted a wild foods walk and talk with Keri Evjy of Healing Roots Design. Les and I joined a bunch of other females as we traipsed through Ash's property a bit, identifying edibles, and then enjoyed lunch out in the sunshine. Made me a bit sore going into yesterday's walk, but I wouldn't change a was an informative and exhilarating time! I'll likely gush more about it over on Dark Meadow in the next day or so.

This coming weekend is the Mother Earth News Fair here in Asheville. We attended the Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, last year and it did not disappoint. Les came away with a strong interest in herbalism, and I came away solid in the notion that this farming dream ain't going anywhere. Can't wait!

Image from here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Yea, it's been awhile...


End of February already. Time's flying, and I can't decide how to feel about that.

I'll probably never shut down a blog, per se, but I'm definitely putting this one on the back burner. As my interests shift into full-scale farming on a really small scale, and my busyness with both that and my work for the nonprofit escalates, I just don't have a lot to post on this here blog. Which is fine, cuz this space was for whining anyway. OK, it certainly wasn't all about that, but it was a much more personal space that I'm pulling away from right now. So whatev.

The big guy upstairs giveth, and he taketh away. We were forgiven my ER bill last month, but a trip to the tax man unveiled a painfully egregious underestimation of my quarterly tithe to the feds (and the much for my pipe dream that I wouldn't have to pay NC because my contract is with a Florida company), so it's a little more than a wash. The result means we're looking at easily a year of debt, and it ain't pretty, because budgeting will only do so much. As I related to Lil Sis recently, it's totally doable, so long as we give up food...

That setback certainly hurts a little, because I was hoping this would be the year to start saving for our little patch of land. I'm hoping to not touch what's left of the nest egg (stocks), because I'm earmarking it as money for Les's teeth down the road. But I can't stay in a funk too long about where we're at, because it definitely needed to happen. We've been living a little too loose this first year, and freelancing barely does pay the bills. Recognizing that, and reorganizing to tackle it, should keep me from online shopping whims, for the most part.

A byproduct of some classes I'm taking to boost my knowledge for the nonprofit, is that it's showing me how to market myself as well. I know a girl from work who's a self-published author, and I used to chuckle at her borderline spam-like flooding of FB and other venues to get her name out there. But now I see her for the shrewd businesswoman that she is, making use of the tools at her disposal. Makes me wonder how many people in my age group find themselves in the same boat, because even after years of computer use, we just aren't used to thinking of the web in that way. So that's another thing keeping me busy in the coming months, finding more paying work, finding ways to get my name out there...

Hop on over to Melanie's Gym and Dark Meadow Farm if you get bored...I'm still fighting the big butt fight, and diving into permaculture on those outlets.

After a week of false spring, the temps are going to nosedive again this week and give us snow showers. I'm starting to itch to get my hands dirty, and when I walk outside to our front area, I'm pondering raised bed layouts and clearing under the tree. Time to start planning!

Image from here.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Turning point(s)

I've been working with the TV on in the background lately. It doesn't really distract me enough to slow me down. There's plenty of other things that do that. Blogs, Facebook, dreaming...a little Law & Order and Waltons ain't gonna make much of a difference.

I've been itching to write lately, itching to find my focus and put words on paper (or screen, as it were). But I let life live me, I eat too many carbs and my brain gets fuzzy...there are a million excuses.

I've been making soups from scratch this week. It feels like a February thing to do, and I need the reminder of how dang easy it is to do, because I really do like a good soup or stew and lord knows, I'm not eating right and want to get away from anything that comes from a box or can...

I happened upon the blog of a woman who's perfectly average-looking, body-wise (actually, she's easily 25 pounds "overweight" probably), who is a triathlete and Ironman champion. Her blog mantra is "just keep moving forward®" and she writes under the name Swim Bike Mom. It gets me thinking about how I'm not even a mom, so what the hell's stopping me....

Letting life live me also resulted in me being behind on my Ashevillage work this week. I do not like the way that made me feel, like I'd let people down...


So, grumble, grumble, yea, yea.....the sad thing is there's nothing new here. New subject matter glossing over the same issues: disorganization, laziness, food addiction, and scatter-brained nonsense. Why not do something about it, Melanie?

That image above...can't decide if I'm pushing the snow down the hill or if I'm already underneath it...

Image from here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Perhaps a pause

I'm definitely in a bit of a dry spell on this particular blog. Maybe it's winter, maybe it's work...just ain't a whole lot going on here to justify a post lately.

As my work for Ashevillage increases, I'll be posting more over at Dark, once Spring starts to sneak in around these parts, I'll be wrist deep in the soil and writing about that over there.

I'm also in a dry spell over at Melanie's Gym, but that's just laziness. I'm having a helluva time finding the necessary willpower and mental strength to make the changes this body needs. January has been Einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results (is that even attributed to Einstein? just realized it's one of those web quotes that's been used enough where you just assume, rather than research its veracity...). I voiced the issue rather succinctly on my FB this morning: I just want to detox from the Standard American Diet, while maintaining focus on my work and not desiring to murder everyone around me in the process. File it under work in progress, I guess...

It's been actual winter around here! Not getting much above 40 these days, and quite a bit of snow, though the white stuff is light and doesn't stick around. Still, so nifty to watch it fall and dance around in it like a kid!

Getting proactive about the indoor plants finally, keeping them in window areas during the day and watering them when needed. I fear I lost the rosemary and the holy basil...time will tell.

Have a great week, y'all! Stay warm!

Image from here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Just popping in

Nothing exciting to post, actually. One of those times when you want to push down the previous post, because it's too sad to think about. Kendra's memorial is this Saturday, and I wish I could go, even though it promises to be more of a zoo than a memorial. She garnered such support and publicity during her struggle. But it's moot. Weaverville, NC, to Pace, FL, is way too far to drive in a car that needs 2 tires, new brakes, and a serious tune-up, even if we had the dough (and patience) for another long car trip, which we don't. But her story had me praying again, and that's something I struggled with for years since going non-Christian. When you grow up talking to Jesus, and now Jesus isn't the big guy in your spiritual life anymore, who the heck are you talking to now when you pray?

I went to church this past Sunday, a UU congregation a half hour's drive from here. I bypassed the Asheville UU to get to them. I went to Asheville's UU once last year, and the vibe in the place just didn't appeal to me, no clue why. I have high standards with UU churches, because Rev. Dr. John Young (ret.) at the Jacksonville UU was excellent, very friendly and immensely learned. But the Swannanoa Valley UU felt better. The reverend seemed smart and jovial. I was in my shell the whole time I was there. That's the one hard part about hitting a new church - everyone's so dang friendly, and it takes me at least one service to thaw out. But I liked what I saw, and I'll be going back, weather-permitting, this Sunday.

In a case of painfully coincidental timing, the service I attended last Sunday was that congregation's chance to honor the members who passed on in 2012 and 2013. Reading out names, dedicating a song, ringing the meditation bell. I thought of Kendra and got teary, but I also felt a peace, similar to the comfort I experienced at the Catholic funeral last week. Hey, I'll take it.

Just wrote a pile of paragraphs on the frustration surrounding my MIL's attitude and living situation, and then thought better of it and stuck it on my private blog. So I'll just ask for prayers of compassion, that I may relate to her situation better and help her find her way eventually.

This week is about making new habits. I've half-assed started Whole 30, meaning I'm burning through the almond milk in the fridge first and THEN I'll really start, and there have been slip-ups here and there in just the 2 days that I've tried to be more conscious of my food intake. But my inflammation is down again already, noticed it when I woke up this morning, and that's motivating as hell. Eating clean, whole foods as often as possible, and getting back on a walking regimen are the main goals this week.

Image from here.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Into the Light

Meara's friend Kendra passed away yesterday afternoon. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers.

Images from FB and here.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Down time

Every two months, for security reasons, my work password dies. I understand this; it's a pain in the tail, but easy to remedy.

In an instance of impressively shitty timing, this occurred yesterday. I spent yesterday attending a funeral, the reception that followed, and then driving from Hilton Head Island back to Weaverville, a 6-hour trip. I didn't go into the work tool to check the queues until 10:45 PM.

I'm stuck, unable to work until Monday, because IT doesn't work on the weekend. I did maybe half my usual quota of sites this week.

Sales hasn't quite ramped up since the New Year holiday, so I may have been screwed anyway; my boss said there wasn't much in the queue to work with. Small consolation.

It's the beginning of a pay period, so there's hope. I can bust my arse on work next week and make up the difference. This will occur only if sales ramps up enough to supply me with work.

I made a good living this past year, better than I expected. I get that this is a temporary condition, that sales should increase in the next week or so. Work has always experienced a significant drop around the holidays. Doesn't make it any easier, and it's certainly a well-deserved/timed wake-up call that I need to expand my portfolio and opportunities.

The funeral was lovely, a standard Catholic mass. I found it a comfort. I don't miss Christianity, but I do miss the rituals behind it.

It almost wasn't my place to grieve...I'd only met Kaye a few times; she was Les' aunt. My grief was for his cousins who lost their mother, and for the grandchildren who lost their grandmother. I was brought to tears by their tears. I watched a 15-year-old boy break down, and I wept for his pain.

His cousins are our peers, and I found myself doing character studies in my head about them on the ride home. We'd be closer friends with these folks, if we lived closer together. This death brought us a little closer, and in spite of the requisite funeral conversations about how we must get together on a happier occasion, I'd like to actually see that happen, instead of it being lip service. But they are spotty Facebook users, and real life gets in the way, so we'll see.

I watched this funeral with a new clarity about my beliefs. In the past, as a pagan, I've been terribly uncomfortable at Christian funerals, not knowing my place, not knowing how I felt. Over my father's dying body, I was forced to take communion and felt like a hypocrite. Yesterday, I bypassed communion and felt fine, felt I was honoring their rituals by not participating. But at the same time, I felt fine repeating the refrains of the mass, doing the motions of the sign of the cross or the little motions right before the reading of the Gospel. I have found my ways to respect religion without believing in it. I found both relief and comfort in this development.

My Lil Sis's friend Kendra is gravely ill. I've written about her before on here. She gave birth prematurely, because she came down with pneumonia, and then a host of other complications ensued, sending her into a medically induced coma for the last 2 months. She contracted pneumonia again, about 2 weeks ago, and if the updates we receive on Facebook are any indication, the doctors are obviously preparing the family for her to pass. Her baby daughter is out of the hospital and thriving, living with relatives while her husband sits vigil.

I learned how to pray again, thanks to this woman's fight...figured out how prayer was possible again, in spite of my non-Christian status. There are other lessons sneaking into my psyche as my mind wrestles with the sadness that this family has been experiencing. It's coming too soon after losing Kaye, standing in a church and realizing that I've hit mid-life and there's still so damn much I want to experience. These thoughts are exhausting, but necessary; they bring clarity about how unique and precious life is.

We came home last night to snow on the ground and bitter temperatures. These temps are supposed to stick around for the next week, turning the roads to ice. I'm going to get back to walking anyway, somehow, and I'm starting the Whole 30 next Sunday. All prayers welcome for my husband's and my sanity as I traverse that sucker.

Image from here.