Monday, November 05, 2012
A coworker went to the US last week and was kind enough to offer to go shopping for me, for those items I can't get here in France (or at least in my area of France).
Today he's back and brought me my goodies, 2 of each :
I'm so excited, I can't wait to have breakfast tomorrow!
I found something here that looks like oatmeal but isn't quite like it. Hard to describe exactly how it's different, but it is just slightly off. It could be I'm not cooking it right, but there were no instructions because it is intended to be sprinkled on yogurt or something, at least based on what I remember from the package. I've been eating it anyway (as oatmeal) because it's the closest thing I could find.
The peanut butter is actually for my long run days. It's what I eat before and after the long distance runs. I finally did find some PB on the store shelf here, hidden with the Greek food on a tiny little section in the foreign food area. It is a non-US brand and has been sitting there for a very long time from the looks of the jars, and one had even been opened. So I passed on it; I'm quite picky anyway and prefer my White Chocolate Wonderful.
Fortunately peanut butter is not one of my trigger foods. The two jars should last me a while.
The other week when I was in Paris I stopped at the American food store and bought some cans of refried beans. Last night I was going to make burritos...and realized that while I now have the refried beans I have no way of actually using them.
I have no can opener. And the stores are all closed at that point.
Tonight I stopped and bought a can opener. But I used the meat in something else for dinner yesterday so the burritos will have to wait a few days.
I never thought I'd actually miss Taco Bell.
The cats enjoy their food though. They get to eat things like rabbit and duck and all sorts of fish I haven't bothered to translate for them (because, really, they don't care). And spiders and ladybugs.
Not in the cans of cat food, those last two. The spiders come up from the basement and get eaten by the cats; Stupid Dog tries to get in on the spider eating but he's generally not fast enough to beat the cats to the goodies. Plus they smack him when he tries to muscle in on their spider stalking. And apparently the ladybugs have decided now is a good time to hibernate and invade everyone's homes. Except mine...bugs are a delicacy in the Kitteh world.
Stupid Dog has his "revenge" for missing out on the spider action...he keeps trying to sneak up to the litter box, which he apparently considers to be his personal dinner buffet.
This is just one of many reasons I call him Stupid Dog (names have been changed to protect the guilty).
Last week in the grocery store they were selling whole smoked pigs, all shrink wrapped & boxed. I should have taken a picture, but the store was crowded. Not something one generally sees, even at Walmart (in the North anyway, not sure what a typical hillbilly Walmart might look like No offense intended to any self-identified hillbillies out there ).
Sitting in my freezer, waiting for my daughter to forget they are there so I can cook them, are some horse steaks.
Another item one doesn't expect to see in the meat cooler in the US! Along with all the animal organs and innards - none of THOSE are in my freezer, I do have some food standards - no organ meats or hot dogs
I've already gotten my daughter to eat rabbit; I told her it was chicken.
Because everything tastes like chicken, right?
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Yes, I'm a day early this month.
1) Maintain my weight at +5 / -14 pounds
Re-committed to tracking my nutrition every day. Iím not doing anything with the data yet, as far as balancing carbs/proteins/whatever, but maybe in another month or so Iíll start paying attention to more than just total calories.
3) Do some sort of housecleaning or maintenance daily.
I should really move this to the Completed Goals section since it is now a daily habit and not really a goal but I like giving myself a thumbs up every month lol!
5) Finalize my budget by the end of Jan and stick to it to pay off at least 3 loans by Dec.
Seven debts gone so far, instead of the 3 I was shooting for (although to be honest I hadnít included ALL of my debts in the original list so Iím actually right on track and not ahead). I remembered I had opened a U-Promise account way back when; checked it and found about $90 in it just sitting & not doing anything so Iím transferring it to one of my student loans. Because of the move eliminating some subscriptions, lowered utility rates, some unexpected refunds and finding a renter for my house in the US, I have been able to revamp my budget a bit and make some extra payments, which should put me at 2 more debts gone by year end. Moving this goal to the Completed Goals section for November since Iíve now paid off all the originally intended debts.
9) Other goals as they occur to me.
For October I got more of the necessities Ėdining table and a car. The washer/dryer & TV got delivered. I found a service that will allow us to watch US TV on-line (at least as long as the episodes are available on whatever websites). I still need to get chairs for the table, an armoire for my daughter and light fixtures for the house.
10) Have fun and stress less!
Not sure if this is a thumbs up or down month so Iím awarding neither. On October 5 my internet/phone/TV stopped working and it took them until 10/16 to get it fixed. I had to have my coworkers make repeated calls to the phone company because I donít know nearly enough French to do that myself. I hate feeling incompetent and dependent. My daughter had a horrible September with the original school, I finally got her transferred & they helped her figure out the bus systemÖand after a week of everything starting to go wellÖthe bus just stopped going to her stop. The 1st time it stopped at the bottom of the Never Ending Hill of Death instead of going to the top, so she said that wasnít too bad. But the next day Ė a very rainy cold Monday Ė it didnít even get to the bottom of the hill, the driver just turned left instead of right and she ended up in the next village, over 3km away, and had to walk home in the cold dreary rain along a road with no shoulders (she refused to wait until I could get there, which was in 2 hours). That coupled with her isolation (due to the language) on top of the lack of internet to keep in touch with her US friends sent her into a big angry depression which I had to deal with.
On the positive side I ran my first race here, an 11k, on October 7 and am settling into the house & life here in France. Our stuff from the US was all delivered intact and weíre unpacked. There is a local running store that carries my brand of shoe & other gear (although significantly more expensive than the US!) and some local gym possibilities. Weíre slowly getting all the little touches to make the house into a ďhomeĒÖcurtains, lighting, etc. (although the owner wonít let me paint and they have some Ė to me anyway - questionable color choices in the house!) The upstairs pipes leak down the wall so the paint is blisteringÖbut itís not MY problem! Itís the property managerís / homeownerís responsibility. *I* donít have to fix it or figure it out myself! WooHoo! School is slowly getting better and my daughter now has her bus card which tells the driver where she goes is so no more missed stops.
12) New Goal Ė Marathon Training
Finished week 7, made some tweaks to the plan; skipped a whole week, missed some other days here & there, but since itís a 30 week plan Iím still in early days where the misses arenít a major deal and Iím on schedule with my total miles (we wonít discuss the extra miles run one Sunday because I got lost lol). I canít really afford any misses like that going forward though, Iím at the point where I either make the full-on commitment or donít. And since Iíve already registered for the marathonÖIím making the commitment.
2) Become a half fanatic by the end of August
4) Break my dependence on Splenda
5) Finalize my budget by the end of Jan and stick to it to pay off at least 3 loans by Dec.
6) Ready to test for black belt by end of June:
6a) All techniques approved by May
6b) Ni kyoso suro no kata approved in February; Bassai kata approved in March
6c) Make terminology flashcards by end of February; review weekly until testing
6d) Assist in 4 classes per month (20 total required)
6e) Learn and master sais kata
6f) Keep running so as to maintain ability to run 2 miles in 18 minutes
6g) Be able to do 55 pushups in May; 60 in June
7) Goal revamped Ė finish mailbox / light switches / outlets / floors / doors / ceiling fans / curtains before I move
11) NEW GOAL - weekly pushup challenge
8) Postponed to 2013 - Run my first marathon by October 21
My priority is black belt testing; I will aim for the Paris marathon in April 2013
Monday, October 29, 2012
Captain Klutz strikes again!
The very first time I went down the stairs from the back deck I said to myself (and out loud) that they were an accident just waiting to happen. The stairs are kind of narrow and a little steep, more so than what I am used to.
Well, the waiting is over. I fell down the last 3 or 4 steps this afternoon. In slow motion.
Fortunately I hobbled away with only skinned knees and shins and shredded pride. It could have been worse, I could have broken something. But I think I will be taking the long way down in the future...out the front door and down the hill at the side of the house to get to the backyard.
No sense tempting fate any more than necessary...there are still the basement stairs waiting for me to take a tumble.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
You're familiar with the expression "Stupid is as stupid does" right?
Yeah, that's me today. The directionally challenged one. I know this about myself too but I don't let a little thing like knowing better stop me!
Week 7 of marathon training had me scheduled for a long run of 7.5 miles today.
No problem. I've run 6 half marathons in the past year and have repeatedly run that distance and longer. I suited up in my (only) cold weather clothes since today was in the high 40s, remembered to wear gloves, and had a charged Garmin AND iPod (unlike yesterday when it was completely dead. I hate running without music).
I had my route all planned, and was ready to go. 7.5 miles in about 90 minutes, a nice tidy 12 minute mile marathon pace.
My route was to be up the hill to the top of my street, run behind the village, down the hill, cross the road, keep running past the right turn to the village, go for about 1.5 miles, turn around and turn into the village and finish the run home. That would have put me somewhere between 7.5 and 8 miles. This is right at the distance where I don't carry any water or shot blocks with me; anything longer and I will fuel.
So off I go. I get to the top of the hill and...change my mind.
Instead of going right to run behind the village I continue straight, onto the farm road to run between the fields.
Sane Me - Wait, we were supposed to turn there!
Crazy Me - Yeah, but if we go this way we can turn at the Wall of Straw and come out at Jesus on the Hill and resume the route with some extra distance.
Sane Me agrees because this sounds reasonable.
Big mistake. NEVER assume the Crazy One is reasonable. Lesson learned by the end of the run.
Hey, wait, that was the Wall of Straw! We were supposed to turn there!
Yeah, but if we keep going this way I bet we get to that last field where we were before, that ended at the forest. See, there's trees up ahead, and a field, and the main road we ran next to. We're just adding some extra distance before getting back on the route.
Sane me still hasn't learned the lesson at this stage.
Except...the farm road curved into the trees and into the forest, away from the field which was suddenly at the bottom of a hill I was on top of.
So I keep running but the trail quickly gets ugly. Huge farm tractor ruts, big stones, steep incline on the vertical & horizontal.
We need to stop now! And go back! We're going to get hurt! We have no way to get help!
Yeah, in my incredible foresight I grabbed my work phone to carry, not my personal phone. My work phone is a 20th century wonder, when they were first trying to figure out how to make cell phones smaller. It is not a smart phone. No GPS, no maps or directions. The only thing it is good for (and not even that good) is making calls...and I realize I don't know how to call for help here (in addition to that minor detail about not speaking the language!) or even where I am. I do have my ID so if they find my body in the spring at least they will know who I was.
Shut up! If you keep jabbering at me I'm going to get distracted and then we WILL get hurt. Let me pay attention to where we're going.
Eventually I make it out of the forest, congratulating myself because even running on a trail and having to walk through some rough spots I'm still ahead of my 12 minute mile goal. The path continues between more fields and turns into a dirt road, then a paved one and I emerge into a village.
But which village you ask?
I had no idea. I'm still not sure.
So I turn right on the road and head towards the buildings. I see street signs but the mean nothing to me because I don't know where I am and have no GPS to tell me. I turn right onto a road that sort of looks familiar...nope, it just heads into more fields.
Go back and continue until I cross a small bridge and stop.
Hey, there's a river! And a path! There's a river that goes through the village before ours, remember we took the picture last week and there was a path next to it. I bet if we follow the river path we'll get back to our route!
Too late, the Crazy One is off and running through more forest. I eventually exit onto a road, the river continues but I have no way to keep following it. Turn right and follow the road, it seems to go in what I think might be the right direction. I wind up in more fields and keep following the path...to where it dead ends at the river. Except this time I'm on the side with no river path.
Undeterred I resolve to keep following it anyway. 5 minutes later I admit defeat, blocked by brambles and fallen twig trees.
There's nothing to do except go back and retrace my steps. At this point I have 5 miles logged on the Garmin. I head back through the fields, follow the river path and get back into the unknown village...and miss my turn back to the forest path. I went a block too far, turned onto the road which I kept thinking didn't look that familiar.
But hey, I was watching where I put my feet on the way out, not looking at the view. And there were a bunch of cars parked of on the side, they probably churned up the road....
I don't remember cars before
And that 4 wheeler passed us, which contributed I'm sure. Of course I'm going the right way.
I think we would have remembered going past that gypsy encampment...
Oh quit whining! See, there's the forest ahead.
Except by the time I get there I'm pretty sure this isn't the way I had come out. But I don't let that stop me! Oh no, not me!
I continue...and the path ends.
Gotta go back...all the way back down the road and into town. At this point I start walking instead of running. I'm now at 7.0 miles.
THIS time I see the other road I should have taken, which also heads into the forest.
I get to the trees...and now have 3 choices. Do I turn left, right or go straight? I have no idea, I don't remember which way I came from.
I'm pretty sure the right hand path is not correct, that leads to where I just came from. So that leaves straight or left. I go a minute up the straight ahead path, change my mind and come back to go up the left path. Change my mind again and go back to the straight. Go 2 minutes, change my mind and come back to go to the left. 2 minutes up that path and I come to a fence running along the side of the path.
I'm pretty sure I don't remember seeing a fence before but at this stage I am pretty sure I'm lost too so - of course - I change my mind again and go back to take the straight path. I follow it for awhile...and a while more....and finally emerge onto a grassy trail with lots of farm tractor ruts.
I have made it! I am going back the way I came! WooHoo! Almost at 10 miles now.
I turn at the Wall of Straw and keep walking between the fields until I come to Jesus on the Hill (this is a giant crucifix on a hill across the road from a cemetery. No idea why it is not in the cemetery and it is guarding the farm tractor field access roads).
Hey! Let's go left and do the original route to the bottom of the hill...
Or maybe not today
So I turn right and start running again, now that I am back on pavement.
11.7 miles and 2 hours 49 minutes after leaving home I return.
Quite a bit longer and farther than I had planned.
My calves started to burn because I was dehydrated so I got a banana, a granola bar and a bottle of water first thing.
Lessons learned today...stick to the plan, carry the right phone, learn how to call for help, don't forget to bring some cash in case water or fuel is needed, and avoid the local forest trails (too much opportunity for the accident prone me to twist or break an ankle).
And DON'T let the Crazy One make the decisions!
Saturday, October 27, 2012
My son chose to stay in the US when I moved. So now he lives with his father. Thursday was his birthday, he is now 17 years old. And this is the first birthday I was not there.
I am not all broken up, it was going to happen eventually. One day he was going to grow up and move out and live his own life; it's just happened a little sooner than expected. And I've always been OK with that. I make sure I have no apron strings to keep my kids tied to; I've always encouraged them to be independent and self-reliant. I look forward to the day in the not too far future when they are on their own.
I sometimes feel like I should think I'm a bad mother for for not wanting to keep them small and home with me, and looking forward to my upcoming empty nesting. Then I snap out of it and start planning what to do with their rooms.
A coworker is completely aghast that I'm looking forward to having them move out of the home. Her son is 19 or so and in his second year at the university. His first year she made the 2 hour drive just about every single weekend to bring him home, for the entire school year. She packs and unpacks his clothes for him, makes his bed, straightens his dorm room, hovers & smothers. She wants him to live near her when he graduates.
I'm not a perfect parent by a long shot. But part of being a parent is raising your kids to be able to function in the real world. Life isn't all roses and parties and mommy to make your bed and scrub your undies clean.
I'd have done my kids a disservice if I didn't teach them how to cook and clean and fend for themselves and if I shielded them from the reality that life is not always fair.
So, anyway, my blog point isn't to moralize. I just tend to get sidetracked easily.
My son is - finally - starting to "grow up" now. He is not yet on his own, but moving in that direction. He is done with high school, has a job and successfully negotiated for more hours and a raise. OK, he works at Dairy Queen, but it's a start, and not a bad one for a (then) 16 year old's first job. He is saving money to start college in the spring or fall, after making the decision to postpone from this fall due to his move to a different county; he plans to go to a community college the first 2 years to save money and then transfer to a university. His idea, not mine. I'm not thrilled with it, but realize it has to be his decision too because he's the one who actually has to do the work.
And several months ago he had started asking all the questions teenagers ask as they try to understand growing up : What is insurance? How does it work? What do you do when / if xxxxx?
And he is becoming responsible. I now get e-mails like..."I took the car in for an oil change last week because it was due for one and had them change the transmission fluid too because it had never been done; next week I'm going to get the tires rotated and find out when they think I will need new ones." Or "Tyler (my/his cat) might be sick, these are his symptoms and what I think it might be so I made an appointment to take him to the vet." Or "What do I do if the car breaks down on the side of the road? I want to plan and be prepared in case it ever happens so I know what to do."
Makes a mother proud.
I was worried about the Tyler e-mail. Ty-Ty is 11 years old, we got him when he was such a tiny kitten he couldn't even get up the stairs. He had only ever lived with us in my house. Then we moved. He had to go in a carrier, in a car, for an hour long drive to a new house where nothing was familiar. He didn't do well, my son had to stop the car before they were even half way there because Tyler was so freaked out and desperate to get out of the carrier his paws and mouth were bleeding from trying to escape. He hid under the bed for a week. And he has been meowing constantly and peeing on the floor.
We were worried about a UTI or blocked tubing or something serious. My sister had to have her neutered male cat Cujo put to sleep because his urinary tract got blocked and they couldn't fix it; the poor little demon cat was in so much pain it was horrible (he was named Cujo for a reason).
So I was worried, especially given his age and the recent stress. He is technically a "senior" cat and never did handle change with grace and equanimity.
Which turns out to be the most likely problem according to the vet. Stress. Tyler is so anxious because of all the changes he is acting out. So now he gets pheromone therapy and anti-anxiety cream smeared in his ears. And flea meds because I forgot to tell my son about putting the flea medication on him every month so he has been without for 2 months, with predictable results.
Right now I'm picturing my son telling his dad there are fleas in his house.
Poor Tyler, I feel so bad for him. But leaving him with my son was the best choice. Bringing him to France would have killed him, there's no way he would have survived 12 hours alone in a carrier, and most of that flying, when he couldn't even manage 30 minutes with my son in the car with him.
I must remember to tell my son to get a catnip plant for Ty-Ty. Stoned kitties are happy kitties.
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