ANARIE's SparkPeople Blog ANARIE's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community Hurry up and wait Well... I kind of have a job, maybe, sometime. <BR> <BR> I was offered a job with a non-profit agency that operates bookstores in national parks. They were asked by the Park Service to take over the bookstores in two parks from a similar agency that is in deep financial doo-doo. Only, the request was made more than a month before the other agency was told they were getting the boot. In the interim, that agency borrowed more money to try to keep themselves afloat-- and they borrowed it from ... Mon, 3 Mar 2014 00:42:55 EST Why our economic system sucks Archimedes commented on my previous post asking if I was done being a Park Ranger. The answer is, "probably, for now." <BR> <BR> Sadly, the Park Service isn't a viable career for most people starting out now. There are virtually no real jobs, even for people who have advanced degrees in park management and other programs designed to prepare them for park positions. If you want to be in the Park Service, you basically have to have online work at the same time to beef up the salary and fill i... Mon, 13 Jan 2014 12:05:41 EST Sometimes you hunt for a job, sometimes a job finds you I've been working at a term job that ends at the beginning of Feb. I started a half-hearted job search in mid-December, but all the things I've gotten nibbles on don't start until April or May. I could last that long because I was working double hours for a few months, but it would largely deplete the little bit of savings I've rebuilt. <BR> <BR> And then out of the blue last week, I got offered my choice of two jobs with a non-profit. One pays chicken feed, but it would be very easy and it'... Sat, 11 Jan 2014 01:07:59 EST No work for 6 months followed by 2 jobs at the same time for 6 months... ...wasn't the best idea I've ever had. <em>198</em> <BR> <BR> I was a volunteer for almost 8 months last year, with no income during most of that time (although with extremely little in the way of expenses-- housing was provided and I had laid in a pretty impressive supply of non-perishable food before I started). Then I picked up a freelance job that was supposed to give me 15-20 hours a week at a fairly generous hourly rate. Since I could accomplish 15-20 hours on weekends and evenings,... Sun, 1 Dec 2013 22:59:14 EST Shut down I am, as far as I know, furloughed until the government reopens. There's a slim chance that I could be declared "excepted" and forced to work without pay instead. <BR> <BR> Fortunately, I think I'm going to have a fair amount of work from my online job, but it's still going to be a financial hit if it lasts very long. <BR> <BR> And I at least still get to stay in my not-very-expensive National Park housing. The people really taking a hit are those who live and work in, but not for, the Nat... Tue, 1 Oct 2013 16:38:10 EST Nothing new to report I'm trying to blog at least once every other week, so here it is-- but nothing has changed since the last time! This is the slow part of the year here. Hopefully things will start picking up in another few weeks. <BR> <BR> It's coming around to the end of summer; I'm going to start a little gardening this afternoon. I have a back yard, but the soil's not great and we can't compost because it attracts javelinas, coyotes, kangaroo rats, and vultures among other critters. I'm going to plant mos... Mon, 23 Sep 2013 15:08:53 EST New job, new house, new issues So I've been a Park Ranger for three weeks now! My particular assignment is a little boring, but I'm working on getting extra stuff to do. I wear a uniform to work, which will be fun once I get my own. Because of the sequester (I assume), nobody gets a uniform allowance until Oct 1, so anybody who started in the summer had to make do with what was in the used uniform box. I did manage to borrow some shirts that are only two sizes too big, but the pants... I don't actually wear pants; I just ... Tue, 10 Sep 2013 23:13:24 EST A little freaked out... I just found out that a childhood friend, the boy I had a crush on from the time I was 7 and he was 9, who was valedictorian of his high school class, prom king, youth Sunday School leader, and the kindest, most polite child in our school... <BR> <BR> is IN JAIL. <BR> <BR> Mortgage fraud. He was overvaluing houses to get people bigger loans. <BR> <BR> The sad thing is, I'm willing to bet that he wasn't making a penny off of it. I can see it all-- I bet he was just trying to help nice peop... Mon, 19 Aug 2013 17:12:02 EST General update I don't know whether I mentioned this at any point earlier, but I have a second job. I'm going to be working in the National Park full-time and continuing with my much better-paying part time freelance job. (It's kind of a national shame that Park Rangers get paid 1/3 what I'm earning for writing test questions in my pajamas. The Rangers get paid less than the non-uniformed janitors, and the seasonal ones-like I will be-- don't get benefits. I'll still have to go on the exchange to buy my own... Sun, 11 Aug 2013 16:47:12 EST Solar oven results So, as I mentioned, last week I made a solar oven. <BR> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <BR> I used the plans from this site: <BR> <BR> <link><BR>um%22_Solar_Box_Cooker </link> <BR> <BR> I modified it a little because I had a box with a lid the right size, so I didn't have to cut and fold. Basically, it takes two cardboard boxes, half a roll of aluminum foil, some black paint, tape, glue, an... Tue, 23 Jul 2013 15:14:20 EST Solar cooking Yesterday I made a solar oven! It's a simple design that uses two cardboard boxes, an oven cooking bag, and some tin foil. Last night I heated it up and got it to 250 degrees, not bad for this type. Today I've got some banana bread in it, but I'm having trouble keeping it going. It's windy, and the reflector blows shut. I think I've got it pretty well propped with some wire, so we'll hope it goes okay the rest of the afternoon. If it works, I'll post pictures and links to the designs. Sun, 14 Jul 2013 15:46:57 EST Happy news! "My" dog didn't move far away after all! They just went halfway to the other side of the "metro area" here-- about 4 or 5 miles. (There are actually two little named settlements here. Neither one is big enough or dense enough to be a town; there are maybe 100 buildings spread out over 50 square miles or so. There is a post office, and a few years ago the school expanded from K-6 to K-12. This year I think they graduated 8 kids.) <BR> <BR> Anyway, doggy is close enough for me to ride my bike ... Thu, 4 Jul 2013 01:34:49 EST Things really do change I had kind of a sad day today; my neighbor moved and took the community dog with her. This is a dog that everyone loves but nobody ever really took responsibility for. He lived at the gas station/general store for a long time and the store owners paid for his tags out of the "leave a penny" tray, but they passed away last year. Maria took over paying for his license, but he still had run of the "town." My parents loved him and would make sure he always had water, and he was particularly fond... Sat, 29 Jun 2013 23:38:33 EST Toe update, 'cuz I know everybody wants it! Today is 60 days since I broke the toe. It doesn't hurt at all, though it feels odd and stiff and will occasionally twinge if I step just the wrong way in hard shoes. It still doesn't look normal, though. It's only a little less swollen than in the second picture in my last blog. <BR> <BR> <em>39</em> <BR> <BR> But it's no longer stopping me from doing anything. In fact, two weeks ago I climbed to the highest point in the state of Texas! It was part of a trip north and west of here. I ... Sat, 22 Jun 2013 15:25:32 EST That toe I've been whining about <img src=""> <BR> <BR> That's what it looked like a day or two after I did it. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> This is now, a full month later. Still about twice its normal size, and still tender if I wear the wrong shoes or just step the wrong way. It's frustrating! I'm getting almost zero exercise, and I want to go on a hiking vacation by the beginning of June. <BR> <BR> That... Thu, 23 May 2013 23:40:21 EST Sigh. Why do I have to be bound by the laws of nature? I broke my toe about three weeks ago. I don't even have a good story; I was just climbing up on a chair to dust the top of a refrigerator and stubbed it on the seat. It was black-and-blue and extremely painful for a week or so, but now it's just swollen and sort of sore. <BR> <BR> Everything I read says it takes six weeks or so to heal. But I don't want to wait that long! I decided last Sunday that it was good enough and I was going to do a hike I've been wanting to do, before it gets too ho... Wed, 15 May 2013 20:11:58 EST So, the scoop.... I have GOT to get out of the habit of saying, "Oh, I'll wait to update my blog until I have definite news about..." Because you know what? Nobody ever has definite, final news on anything, and by the time you get something decided, months have passed! <BR> <BR> Although, now I finally do have some settled news to report. I am still in the Big Bend, and I have work. I'm doing online editing almost full time, at a respectable rate of pay, so for the next six months or so I can pay the bills. ... Mon, 29 Apr 2013 20:28:29 EST Not such a schlump after all I was whining before about my "January schlump." Typically in January and February I slow down physically and motivationally, and end up gaining weight that I then spend the next three or four months fighting. This year I did slow down, but between having much less holiday partying and no exposure to leftovers, and being at least a little more active than usual for January/February, I came out of it with no gain, and in the last week or two actually lost two or three pounds. Yay, me! I'm now ... Wed, 20 Feb 2013 15:26:46 EST Grocery shopping! I think I've mentioned before that where I'm living now is 100 miles from the nearest tiny supermarket. Today I went there, my first grocery shopping since I went to Odessa on Nov. 7! Produce is painfully expensive there, so I just got a little fresh fruit and some frozen veggies, plus milk (some to use fresh, some to make yogurt, some to freeze), flour, cereal, oatmeal, eggs, dried beans and lentils, and COFFEE. I think the coffee was the most urgent need-- I ran out on Friday and had to dri... Tue, 22 Jan 2013 22:05:43 EST January schlump Oops! I can't believe I missed blogging the entire month of December! Yikes! <BR> <BR> So, good news/bad news. The good news is that I didn't gain any weight over the holidays. I didn't lose any, either. I had been losing about a pound a month, which is not bad when you're not very overweight, and especially when you add in the food complications I'm dealing with-- lack of availability of produce and so forth. <BR> <BR> The bad news is that I'm slowing down like I always seem to do in Janu... Wed, 16 Jan 2013 00:39:17 EST It's Fall! Not much news; mostly just pictures. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 17:39:19 EST Travels Two weeks ago I went to beautiful (not) Odessa, TX. Since I decided to stay longer, I needed a few groceries and other supplies that aren't available locally, and Odessa is the nearest place with large chain grocery stores, Target, sporting goods stores, and so on. I stayed overnight at a nearby state park, got my oil changed, and spent more money on groceries than I think I've ever spent in one trip. So I'm pretty well stocked with long-storing fruit (over 10 percent of the bill was just app... Mon, 19 Nov 2012 15:21:16 EST Sad news A U.S. Border Patrol Agent assigned the area of Big Bend National Park died while on duty this past Friday, November 2. There was a tremendous inter-agency rescue attempt, involving the local EMS, Border Patrol, National Park Service, and county sheriff's police, but they weren't able to save him. He was out on a routine foot patrol to check on some camera equipment, in extremely rough and isolated terrain just outside the National Park, and suffered some sort of medical emergency, possibly a... Mon, 5 Nov 2012 15:59:20 EST Staying a little longer My money is holding out (sort of), and I don't have anything pressing to do anywhere else, so I've signed up to stay in the park as a volunteer for another 2 months, until the first week of January. I'm going to be looking for some paying work with the Science and Resource Management division; if they've got funding, I might even stay longer. It would be cool if I could hang on through the spring, or even until next August so I will have seen a whole year here. (Then again, I'm not sure I wan... Fri, 26 Oct 2012 17:07:08 EST Nutrition in the wilderness Some of you know that right now I'm living 25 miles from the nearest village and 100 miles from the nearest town with a supermarket. (Actually, it has two.) Before I came down here, I was really worried about whether I'd be able to eat even a little bit healthily. <BR> <BR> As it turns out, it's not too bad. It would be rough financially if I had to buy everything here, but I stockpiled a lot of non-perishable things to bring with me-- too much, as a matter of fact. I've got canned vegetable... Sun, 14 Oct 2012 13:44:34 EST What I'm doing here- and National Public Lands Day This probably should have been the beginning of my last blog post-- where I am and why! <BR> <BR> I'm in Big Bend National Park, working as National Parks Volunteer for about 3 months. The National Park Service hasn't had a budget increase since the late 80s, so they increasingly rely on volunteers to take some of the burden off the Rangers. There's a pretty developed volunteer program with the mission of getting work done that rangers don't have skills for, or doing low-skilled work to free... Thu, 27 Sep 2012 18:28:41 EST Soooo... Golly, it's been a long time since I blogged! <BR> <BR> The move happened, though not without some delays and $1200 in last-minute repairs on a truck that's only worth about $1500. I'm now in Big Bend National Park, running one of their Visitor Centers 3 days a week, doing minor research or translation one day, and hiking or messing around the other 3. No internet at my apartment, and if I want to go where there's wi-fi.... Well, it's a 50-mile round trip and gas is $4.28 a gallon in the pa... Fri, 21 Sep 2012 17:24:34 EST So easy to slip, so hard to get back on track! Sigh. Whine. <BR> <BR> I went out of town last week, for a big family reunion to celebrate my dad's birthday. My sisters and their families stayed with my parents, so we had a total of 15 people packed into a 2-bedroom house and two RVs for most of a week. Meals were whatever could be made in mass quantities, cheap, and I really didn't feel that I could cook something special for myself. So it was a week of chili and sloppy Joes and ham on white bread, potato salad, and way too many sweets.... Fri, 27 Jul 2012 11:05:16 EST I kind of understand the "hoarders" So, I'm moving. I'm trying to get rid of most of my unneeded junk. I've been doing pretty well with books, I did great with clothes, and eventually I'll get the nick-nacks sorted. <BR> <BR> But it's time to get rid of the cooking magazines, and I just don't want to! I look at them all tidily lined up on the kitchen built-in bookshelves in the magazine holders I bought at IKEA, and my brain goes, "Hey! I'm saving those for.... for.... uh... Well, I don't know, but look how tidy they are! Obv... Fri, 13 Jul 2012 21:51:44 EST Has anybody else seen this commercial (and do you HATE it as much as I do?) There's a commercial for "mobile minis," those cargo containers you can have delivered, fill, and they pick them up for storage. The husband and wife are moving, and he has a cardboard cutout of Wayne Gretsky (I think. Some hockey guy, anyhow.) They go back and forth with him putting it in the container, her taking it out and hiding it in the garage, him putting it back, her threatening to cut it up with a chainsaw, etc, etc. <BR> <BR> And all I can think is, "WTF is wrong with you, lady?!? ... Mon, 9 Jul 2012 23:45:41 EST So I don't forget... I made up my own recipe for fig preserves, and I'm typing it here so I don't forget it! <BR> <BR> Vanilla Fig Preserves-- makes about 5 half-pint jelly jars (5 cups) <BR> <BR> 2 pounds fresh figs <BR> 1 whole lemon <BR> (2 tablespoons lemon juice-- I didn't use this but will if I make it again) <BR> 1 cup brown sugar <BR> 1 cup white sugar <BR> 1/2 cup orange juice <BR> 2 T vanilla bean paste (or 2 large whole vanilla beans) <BR> (You could also use 2T vanilla extract, but if you ... Fri, 6 Jul 2012 11:49:06 EST Dang! I had to reset my ticker. <em>39</em> I had a target to run 5K (or more) a day, and I did it from the 16th of June to the 1st of July, except one really hot day when I ran about 2K and walked the rest. But Monday I worked 14 hours and just didn't feel like doing it when I got home, and yesterday I drove to San Antonio and back to pick someone up at the airport, down one of the country's most congested highways at rush hour. I should have gone out anyway, but I was just really sleepy. Excuse... Wed, 4 Jul 2012 12:52:19 EST Not really healthy, but YUM! I have some sour cherries that my brother canned for me quite a while ago. I've been "saving them for something special," but now that I'm going to be moving shortly, I decided I'd better use at least some of them. So I went through the computer cookbook that my mom made with old family recipes, and found a cherry cake was my great-grandmother's recipe. According to the cookbook, when my mom got the recipe it was just a list of ingredients with no amounts and no instructions, and mom figured ... Sat, 30 Jun 2012 01:47:00 EST Sometimes, it's more like an insult Yesterday I got my "payment" for the day I did jury duty back in April. A big ol' $6.00. I had forgotten how annoyed I was at that whole situation, and this was a reminder. It took the whole freakin' day, I lost my income from two jobs for the day, and they "reimburse" less than the cost of parking and barely more than bus fare. (I rode my bicycle, but most people don't live close enough.) And then they wonder why it's so hard to get people to do jury duty, and why they end up with juries tha... Wed, 20 Jun 2012 13:59:56 EST Giving a new meaning to "lifestyle change!" So. I've made a big decision to take a big leap. Around the first of August, I'm moving. I'm going to serve 90 days as a volunteer in Big Bend National Park, and I have no idea where I'll go after that (I'll be job hunting from there.) <BR> <BR> So I'm going from one of the busiest, liveliest cities in the US to a little compound where about 50 rangers, volunteers, and other employees live. There's a little gas station there, and there's a convenience store about 13 miles up the mountain, bu... Mon, 18 Jun 2012 13:07:27 EST Such a lovely time for freggies! I'm just swimming in great fruit and veggies! A friend whose parents live in the Rio Grande Valley (where much fruit is grown) brought me a little watermelon and a pineapple. Baby kale was on sale earlier in the week, and I've been making green smoothies. I went shopping yesterday and came home with strawberries (4 lbs/ $5), mushrooms ($3/lb), red and green grapes ($1.99/lb), crookneck squash (88 cents/lb), and a few cherries. (Not cheap.) My garden is just finishing up the carrots and beet g... Thu, 24 May 2012 18:13:58 EST Alcohol IS evil Oddly, I have drunk alcohol twice in a little over a week. I don't do that often, mostly because of the calories, but on the last Friday of the semester I went to happy hour with colleagues from the community college and had about half a beer. (We went to a brewpub that offers a sampler of four 5-oz glasses, and I drank half of one and about a tablespoon of the other three.) Today I went with a different bunch of colleagues to a little artsy-craftsy town out in the countryside, and we went to... Mon, 21 May 2012 23:39:30 EST Weird bargains I went to the grocery store for strawberries and asparagus, and what did I find tucked back in one corner? Champion sports bras and singlets for $5.00! I got me one of each for a little over half what I would normally pay for one. Not what I expected to come home with, but it's better to impulse buy a bra than a quart of ice cream! Mon, 14 May 2012 03:11:05 EST Shopping karma and sugar karma I had stopped doing this, but I have to brag a little about yesterday's shopping score. I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from a happy hour (!), which could have been a disaster since I'm discovering that alcohol and I are not friends-- I had about half a beer and it made me feel strange for 6 or 7 hours. But not only was there only one small impulse buy, I also got some serious bargains. I came home with: <BR> <BR> --1 gallon skim milk <BR> -- bag of 4 frozen Lightlife brand po... Sun, 13 May 2012 00:18:04 EST Accountability and bread Two unrelated topics, actually! <BR> <BR> I've been trying hard to start a "no refined sugar" streak, and failing because I keep telling myself, "Eh, I'll start tomorrow" (especially when someone offers me a free cookie sample!) Then I read someone else's blog about using the ticker for accountability. I wish I remembered whose it was, but it was just one of those, "Click, read, realize later that that was really inspiring" situations. Anyway, I went in and reset my ticker from weight (which... Wed, 9 May 2012 00:16:27 EST This week's bread I found a tiny cast iron pot, made a single batch of dough, and took a portion out and kneaded in some chopped apples, dusted with cinnamon and nutmeg, and some dried tart cherries. Luckily it only made one roll, because if I had made a loaf, I probably would have ended up eating the whole thing! <BR> <BR> Now I have to decide what to do with the rest of that batch of dough. I have left it in the bowl on the counter, and it's turning into natural sourdough. I'm still looking for an inexpensi... Mon, 7 May 2012 01:58:31 EST More Lazy Bread I made a loaf with three cups of regular whole wheat flour and one cup each of all-purpose, semolina, and rye. (At least, I think it was rye. It's in a canister and I didn't label it, one of my bad habits!) I also tossed in a little bit of some old "sourdough enhancer" that I found in the back of my cupboard. It's mostly malt, with a little citric acid. <BR> <BR> It's fabulous! So far each loaf has been better than the one before. This one tastes very complex. It's still moist because of the... Sat, 28 Apr 2012 16:06:01 EST Going back to an old "bad" habit that might not be so bad Diet soda. <BR> <BR> The whole time I was losing weight, and on into the first two or three years of maintenance, I drank massive amounts of diet soda. When I changed job and money was tight, I couldn't see spending good money on fizzy brown water, so I quit... and started to gain back weight. Of course there are a gazillion other things that changed at the same time, so I can't really blame the diet soda. Then again, one of the gazillion other things that changed about that time was that I ... Mon, 23 Apr 2012 03:22:40 EST Lazy Bread Update (with photo) I tried it again, and this time it was a success! I made a double batch, 2 cups semolina flour and 4 cups white whole wheat. I think my yeast was old last time, because this time it rose much faster, especially on the second rise. It works out to 60 cals per ounce, with only a trace of fat and no added sugar. Semolina flour is expensive, and so is the King Arthur white whole wheat, but even so it's less than $2 for a 3-pound loaf. The bakery up the street charges $7 for a smaller semolina loa... Fri, 20 Apr 2012 12:57:08 EST Jury duty I got out of it. I did have to miss one job and half an hour of the second, but now I'm not likely to get called for another year, at least. <BR> <BR> It's kind of too bad that I couldn't do it; it was an interesting case and I didn't really have any biases. It was a patent case; the plaintiff was an inventor who had sued this company for infringement of his patent several years ago. They settled on a licensing deal, where if they used the patened process they would pay him, but 8 years lat... Tue, 17 Apr 2012 03:16:42 EST Lazy Bread I tried the method of making bread where you barely touch it. It was popularized by some guy with a bakery in New York, and Mark Bittman wrote a couple of articles about it in the NYT. Basically, you put 2 parts flour and 1 part water in a bowl with a teeny bit of yeast and some salt, and let it work for 18 hours or more, then bake it in a pre-heated pot in a very hot oven. <BR> <BR> I don't see what all the fuss is about. It came out flat and a bit tough. I'll try it again, but frankly I th... Sat, 14 Apr 2012 22:00:28 EST Am I out of line to be FUMING about this? Flippin' jury duty. I got a summons that arrived the day after the deadline it listed to enroll online. That was annoying, but the online sign-up actually was still open. However, I can't serve. I work adjunct hourly jobs where if I miss work, I don't get paid and I might even have to pay a substitute out of my own pocket. <BR> <BR> They have a provision for that; you can be excused for financial hardship. Only, you have to GO in person to ask the judge. So, no matter what, you have to lose... Fri, 13 Apr 2012 00:08:32 EST No news is good news, I hope? In my last blog I mentioned applying for a government agency job. You apply through a website using their resume generator, and the first round is a computerized review. The position closed on the 30th, and I haven't gotten a rejection e-mail yet. I'm assuming that means I made it past the computer to the first round of humans! I'm still not really expecting anything to come of it, but I'm also still keeping my fingers crossed. The position is similar in a lot of ways to a previous job I've h... Sat, 7 Apr 2012 00:07:50 EST Scale movement, and life movement Yay! I weighed in today, and I lost 3 pounds over vacation. All that activity did me good, even if my eating wasn't exemplary. (And my eating wasn't really all that bad-- I took veggies with me because I shopped wrong and had leftovers, so the whole family ate a little better.) And I hadn't really realized it, but I had essentially lost the holiday weight before I went. I'm down 7 pounds since January. That puts me 3 pounds above the "healthy" BMI and 8 pounds above my previous happy weight. ... Mon, 26 Mar 2012 00:07:44 EST So, how come...? On my vacation, I climbed this: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> and this: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> and this: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> and hiked across about 40 miles of this: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> So why is it that I keep thinking I can't ru... Fri, 23 Mar 2012 13:42:32 EST