Thursday, April 25, 2013
(Warning: this blog isn't my usual mix of cheerful and snide )
...but I just can't seem to get myself together today.
I woke at my usual 6:30, but because I knew the house would be freezing (don't ask) I stayed huddled in the bed with Lucy (the dog) and KayKay ( the cat who sleeps on my head), reading and generally putting off the inevitable. Finally rolled out about 9:00.
Proceeded to do absolutely nothing other than drink a mug of coffee and eat a handful of walnuts for the next FOUR HOURS. I have plenty to do, but no will or desire to tackle any of it. Halfhearted Sparking, some staring into space. I have to (as in MUST) go out at some point today, because I'm out of cat food.
Finally took Lucy for a nice long ramble - although FitBit only acknowledges 2800+steps, WE thought it was a nice long ramble. We went in the grove where the people are buried (supposedly - and over 200 years ago), spoke with the faeries, looked to see if the wild onions are ready (almost), sat on the twin boulders (my late husband John and I had each claimed one) and looked for spring. I wanted to somehow drag the boulders up to the lawn, but realized today that that isn't going to happen. They're each the size of a large lounge chair, and that's the part ABOVE the ground. So we said our good-byes, because they're in the parcel that will be sold. We went through lots of places you can only go in late April and early May, because everything is still flattened down from winter - later on it'll be too scrubby for walking.
Selling 100 or so acres was the only alternative to moving altogether, and it's a great solution for everyone. I get to stay and have some money and a good 60 acres, the lovely Amish family has a place to live and farm and cut wood, and generally God's in His heaven. It makes perfect sense. On paper. In my head.
I guess somebody forgot to inform my heart.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Because I've started working with developmentally disabled folks, I've had to take a couple days' worth of specialized training (we'll talk about that another time) about 50 miles from here. 50 miles x 2 (I'm coming home again every night) x 3 days = more fuel cost than I had handy. Luckily, I had $21 in Canadian dollars from a trip not long ago. Easy one, I thought. I'll just stop at the bank and convert it.
I'm slowly learning that any time I think, "Hey, no sweat!", it's going to turn out to be a real fiasco. This was no exception.
me: "Excuse me, can you exchange some Canadian cash for me?"
teller: "You mean, you have, like, Canadian money?"
teller: "And you want us to, like, change it into American money?"
me: "Yes, please"
teller: "Do you have an account here?"
me: "Yes, yes I do."
teller: "Well, we can't do that. Money from Canada? Huh-uh."
me (wondering why she wanted to know if I had an account there...)
Second bank, same question:
teller: " Sure, we can do that! Do you have an account here?"
me "No, I don't."
teller: "Oh. Well, then we can't do that."
me (wondering if they thought I was laundering currency internationally)
Third bank, same question:
teller "Sure! We can do that!"
me: "Whew! Ii thought I might have to..."
teller:"In increments of $100."
me: "But I only need $20..."
teller:"Nope. Sorry. Only in increments of $100."
me (thinking that *this* would be the place to do international money laundering)
Fourth bank, same question:
teller:"Sure, we can do that!"
me: "Whew! Here's my $21."
teller "Okay, great! Oh, by the way, there's a $15 service fee"
me:" A $15 service fee ...for exchanging $20..."
teller: *giggle* "Yep. Sorry!" *giggle "You know, you can, like, use it on the Thruway! They deal with money all the time!"
me (wondering if I should point out that banks also deal with ... oh, never mind.)
Fifth bank, same question.
teller: "No. No international currency whatsoever. You cannot deposit Canadian currency, nor can we exchange it for you."
me (thinking that first, I'm close enough practically to walk to Canada - it's not as though Canadian currency is all that unusual around here - and second, that it's not like I'm trying to change drachmas to francs.)
Sixth bank, same tired old question:
me: "Look, I don't have an account here, and I know there's probably a service charge, but I have $21 in Canadian currency. Could you, would you PLEASE exchange it for American currency so that I can buy some fuel for the car?"
teller:"I'll have to check with my manager"
me *clutches bridge of nose*
teller, returning with concerned looking manager
me (losing hope rapidly, becoming resigned to walking to Canada...)
teller and manager: "Yes, we can do that. We take bills, loonies and two-nies."
me:"Really? You can do that for me?"
teller and manager:"Sure. Just give us a second here..." *much clicking of computer mouse, consultation with papers...* "Here you are. $18.something cents. The coin and the bills have different exchange rates, and we did have a $2 service fee. And here is your receipt, explaining all that we did."
me: (happy. happy. happy. much thanking and praise, and promising to open an account if they ever have a branch anywhere near me.)
There really is no moral to this story, I'm afraid, other than perhaps some Benjamin Franklin quote about the virtue of perseverance. And keeping the proper currency on hand at all times.
Monday, April 22, 2013
This all started about a week ago, when a very dear (and significantly overweight) friend decided to address her weight problem and arranged for a personal trainer and nutritionist. I can't recall the exact numbers, but the nutritionist gave her something like 1100 calories a day and a list of ways to use them. The fitness aspect was going to start slowly, since my friend is a web designer and not used to much moving about that doesn't involve chasing children.
She sent me a list of all the excuses she'd used and lies she'd told herself over the years, and my response was along the lines of , "$%^&! These aren't her excuses, these are my *reasons*!" The next day, I put on my FitBit (the fact that it took me half an hour to locate it should tell you something) and at the end of a normal day, I had taken exactly 1,178 steps. I figure that's out to the barn twice, out to the kitchen four or five times, maybe to the bathroom, over to the window to look out, etc. In other words, totally sedentary.
I used to joke with one of my daughters that she'd pass me on the way down. I'm not laughing anymore - she did ( she's 5'11" - we started at the same place, I took an early lead and then just...stalled, I guess, while she's clean eating and eating chia seeds and running and boxing and all kinds of good stuff.)
One of my friend's excuses (that she's just not good at/has no time for recording the minutia of food and exercise) hit home for me, because I have never, ever been able to do that for longer than a meal or two. I've since realized that it's not that I can't do it, it's that I don't want to know. The only reason I "can't" track is because I don't want to own up to those guavatinis and garlic bread.
I'd like to be done with this losing phase by the end of October. That's six months...a little over a pound a week. Realistically, I eat probably 3000+ calories a day and exercise in massive spurts (it's the nature of farming.) If I cut the food (and alcohol *cough*) in half and add some reasonable amount of motion on the non-frantic working days, I just might be able to pull this off.
Yesterday I tried on a bunch of stuff that didn't fit this last summer. Much to my surprise, after having lost 45 pounds, it still doesn't fit! It's closer, but I still look like a link sausage instead of the graceful being I had envisioned. (And I can button my raincoat this year (useful now that it's rainy season.) I still hold my vision of sitting on my porch sipping...okay, it used to be mint juleps but now I guess it's just unsweetened tea.
So I'm going to go for it. I'm over all the trauma of the past couple years, life is definitely looking up (semi-gainfully employed, sold 100 acres so I'll have Amish neighbors and have a nest egg again, stuff like that) and it seems like time to give this an honest go.
1. Tracking food and drink
2. Tracking exercise (FitBit syncs - it's not exactly serious labor here)
3. Setting interim goals (I'll let you know when I've got them figured out)
4. Keeping regular mealtimes (I tend to grab-and-go)
5. Start applying a little discipline to my inner and outer life
This is a rough week for me - several anniversaries, none of them happy ones. But I figure I can either use that as an excuse to drink too much and eat whatever, or I can rise above that reaction. Do I really want this health deal, or am I willing to muddle along, looking the other way, inventing "reasons", and having absolutely no sense of accomplishment?
So I made a deal with myself - if I do decide to use this week to drink too much and eat whatever (I hope I don't, but I know me pretty well), the least I can do is be a big girl and record it. You've got to start where you are, true, but you can at least point yourself - honestly - in the right direction.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Lyrid Meteor Shower To Peak Tonight (April 21) But May Be Dulled By Moonlight
Posted: 04/21/2013 10:14 am EDT
Video, Astronomy, Comet Thatcher, Lyrid Meteor Shower, Lyrid Meteors, Astronomy, Meteor Shower Peak, Meteors, Moon, Space, Skywatching, Science News
By: Tariq Malik
Published: 04/21/2013 07:33 AM EDT on SPACE.com
The annual Lyrid meteor shower will peak tonight (April 21) and early Monday, but the moon's bright light may spoil the celestial fireworks display.
The Lyrid meteor shower occurs each year in mid-April when the Earth passes through a trail of dusty debris from the Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), which orbits the sun once every 415 years. Humans have been observing this particular meteor shower for at least 2,600 years.
Typically, the Lyrid meteor shower is a relatively faint stargazing event, though observers with clear dark skies away from city lights can usually spot up to 15 or 20 meteors an hour. The meteors appear to radiate out of the constellation Lyra (hence their name), which can be found in the eastern night sky tonight. [Amazing Lyrid meteor shower photos of 2012]
The moon is expected to spoil much of this year's Lyrid meteor display because it is currently in its bright gibbous phase, with the lunar disk nearly 85-percent illuminated, according to SPACE.com's stargazing columnist and meteorologist Joe Rao. That means that moonlight will likely wash out fainter Lyrid meteors, with only the brightest streakers being visible.
The best time to seek Lyrid meteors is actually in the wee hours of Monday morning (April 22) after the moon has set, but before the sun rises. This observing window opens at about 4 a.m. your local time and can close by about 4:30 a.m. At that time the Lyrid radiate will nearly directly overhead in the night sky, Rao explained.
Here are some tips to view the Lyrid meteor shower:
Don't stare directly at Lyra: Focusing on the radiant point of the meteor shower sounds like a good idea, but the Lyrid that tend to occur there appear to have short tails and look more like unimpressive dots, NASA scientists have said. A better technique is to lie on your back (or a comfortable reclining chair) and look straight up.
Get comfortable: It can be a long, cold night without warm clothes or a blanket, depending on your location. Also, don't expect to just step outside and see some meteors. Make sure to give yourself at least 40 minutes to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness.
Get away from city lights: They really can spoil a meteor shower, and this year that potential is doubled since the moon is already interfering with the display.
The Lyrid meteor shower is not the only celestrial event occuring this week. On Thursday (April 25) the moon will pass through part of the Earth's shadow in a partial lunar eclipse. The eclipse will be primarily visible in its entirety from parts of eastern Europe or Africa, central Asia and western Australia, according to NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak.
Editor's note: If you snap a great photo Lyrid meteor shower that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, send photos, comments and your name and location to managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This from the Huffington Post, where they have links to other years' photos.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
It's been a really weird morning. Activities included pulling a cat out of the woodstove, trying to convince a dog that a backhoe is not a dangerous thing that could charge at any moment, and digesting the fact that it's snowing again.
The cat thing was actually kind of funny. There was a bird caught in the back room wood stove pipe (its an old pot-bellied Franklin which I never use) and I opened the valve in case it was stuck in a crevice. I also opened the front of the stove to see if the bird would fall down. It didn't, but the idiot cat jumped in and had to be extracted manually, because it's not a cat-shaped launch-out place. No more fluttering, so I figured the bird had been freed and gone out the top vent the way it got in.
Not so! Two minutes later - I had *just* sat down with my coffee - there was a huge fluttering and this massive black bird came flapping frantically out of the kitchen into the living room with all four cats in hot pursuit and good old Lucy the dog leaping around yelling "bird in the house!!! bird in the house!!!" in case we all hadn't noticed.
The bird doubled back into the dining room, then did a quick 180 into the living room again. Pocket doors divide the two rooms, so I managed to capture all the cats in one part of the house and only the bird, the upstairs cat, and the dog (still frantically proclaiming the threat level) in the other part.
Shooed the bird into the front hall and hooked the door so the dog was dealt with. Ran upstairs, called KayKay, the upstairs cat (who always answers, bless her), located her and shut the door to that bedroom. All domestic animals now dealt with.
Ran back downstairs, keenly aware of my rapidly cooling coffee. Opened the front door and the screen/storm door. (Please remember that it's extremely windy and my other screen/storm door blew off on just such a day.) The bird responded to the wide open portal and inrushing fresh air by immediately flying upstairs.
The bird flies into a few windows and doors, with me swearing a blue streak and trying to herd it, by waving a coat hanger (totally ineffectual as a bird-herding tool) back downstairs to the open door and dangerously swinging storm door. Finally the bird (by now identified as a starling) flies into the bathroom. Ooookay. Can deal with this. Shove all the stuff out of the way of the door and try to shut the door, figuring I can then open the window and the idiot bird will fly out.
Nope. Bird flies back out into the hallway (still ignoring the wide open door only fifteen feet away and rams into a few more things, but then flies back into the bathroom. Got it! I tear into the bathroom, shut the door behind me and try to gently approach the bird, which is batting frantically at the window.
I go to open the window and, since I'm watching only the bird, step into the litter box. Yes, bare feet - of course. Said a few more things I'm not proud of. Opened the window, threatened the bird verbally, and it actually flew out. Thank you, god of birds.
Freed all the domestic creatures, shut the various portals, and tried to calm the dog, who has changed from barking about the bird to barking about the backhoe that's been parked across the street for two days but apparently hasn't posed a threat until now.
Return to coffee. Oops - wood delivery! Find boots, run outside. Deal with all of that. Come back in. Coffee. Is. Still. Hot.
Moral of the story: if you're ever in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, get one of the Resort Hotel insulated mugs. They are awesome at keeping coffee hot.
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