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Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Journey

There are blogs that just reading them makes me feel like a better person for having done so. Lloyd Kahn's journal at http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/ is one of those. He is a 70-something guy who is still active, still creating (he's a writer), still enjoying life. I was feeling pretty down this evening. Just seems like I've slid backwards so far I won't catch up to where I thought I'd be by now in my life. Finances, the stress of living in a house that is basically an encampment, a dog that I discovered in the past 24 hours has been using the bedroom carpets (the rest of the house is laminate flooring) to pee on, a lot, and in general just feeling like '10 years have come and gone... you missed the starting gun'. His journal puts life more into the perspective of being a journey and that the idea is to enjoy the ride, wherever that ride happens to be at the moment.

Again, I need to stop making excuses and get on with living this life I have. And I am grateful that there are folks like Lloyd, Stumpknocker, Bush Whacker, and others out there showing how it's done and writing journals so the rest of us can be inspired.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ongoing

I am measuring to decide where to set up the waterbed. I thought about putting it in the office when I get it finished, but my heart is set on actually moving into the office with my desk and computer equipment. That is part of the vision. So, I'm measuring in the great room. It is packed with furniture in here. The twin bed just fits. However, I am having trouble sleeping on it. My waterbed is king sized. I will have to move some of the furniture... well... somewhere. I have pretty much decided to do this though. I need to start sleeping better. This weekend I will start the process of setting it up.

I went to Home Depot and priced kitchen ranges and front loading washer/dryers. The combo comes in around $2K. I really don't want to turn loose of that much money right now. The range is $400, plus tax, delivery, etc. I should go to the Sears scratch and dent store and price things before I make a decision. I decided against buying the washer and dryer now, mostly cause I wouldn't be able to move them out to remodel the laundry room, which I will have to finish at some point. Seems like everything has to wait on 6 other things.

Nancy got back from her trip and we had a good hour or so long talk. It is fun to hear what's happening on her life, and share tidbits of mine. Good friends are treasures, and I have been blessed to have more than my share of exceptional folks in my life. They keep me stretching to be a better person.

Time to get back on the bandwagon of getting into shape. I'm back to getting up early and feeling better. So, tonight I'll go to the gym. If I'm sent back up north again like I was yesterday I'll go to the smaller gym up north. I prefer the one down in town, but they both have the machines I tend to use. I may put on the list of projects to make myself a pop can alcohol stove. Darn it, I could have gotten some of the supplies I need while at Home Depot last night... oh, well. The most costly part, actually the only part that costs money, is some flue tape to tape the halves together and some vermiculite to put inside to hold the alcohol. I have the empty pop cans.

And so another day starts. I still have more projects than energy. I think I'm making some progress...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Odds and Ends Again

This has been an uncoordinated week so far. I have just felt out of sync. But, today I got up at 6 am for the first time in many weeks. I had intended to keep getting up early as if I had to be at a 8 am job. But... I must be feeling better cause I am wide awake. This is good. I didn't go to the gym last evening because my back has been hurting again. I've decided that it is this twin bed I'm sleeping on. I need my waterbed back! However, there is little point in setting it up in a room that is a wreck and in need of remodeling. Then again, it will be months till I get to that room... pondering... maybe I should just bite the bullet and set it up.

I am going to go to Home Depot and check out kitchen ranges. They are having a sale. Why spend money on a temporary solution when I might be able to buy a new stove for just a bit more? I will make a decision when I have the data in front of me. I didn't work on the office so far this week. Perhaps as I clear out the clutter and get a bit more settled in I will have the energy to work in there again. In the evenings I come home and get chilled and just crawl under the covers and stare at the computer till I decide to turn out the lights and fall asleep.

I got the truck back on the road. It's good to drive it again. It needs new tires and some other work. Oddball checked and informed me that I need to schedule a timing belt change a year and a half ago. The truck is a 96 Toyota with somewhere between 280-290K miles. Tires first, then timing belt. Back to if it's not one thing it's another.

Two more pieces of info due in the mail, and I can file my income tax. I'm hoping for some money back this year again. See above list of stove, tires, timing belt and add in hiking gear and it's obvious I have places to spend any money I might get back. Oh, and I got the news that my COBRA insurance has gone up from $239/month to over $300/month. sigh. Time to start pricing an individual medical policy. Maybe even join that Organization That Will Not Be Named in order to get a policy through them.

On a lighter note, SimpleLiving.net discussion boards again have given me a cool link. http://www.yogatoday.com/ has daily one hour yoga workouts. I downloaded part of one last night before my connection froze up. There are some advertisements (a la TV) which are a novelty to me since I don't watch TV. But, a free workout if it's any good would be a good thing. I will try downloading a couple of the workout videos while I'm down in town and have broadband.

Another cool site that I haven't explored much is: http://www.oculture.com/weblog/2006/10/free_university_1.html It is Open Culture and is a list of podcasts from Universities free for download. Notice the word download... which I can't do at home very well. Some of the folks on the forum download these to their IPod and listen to them while they work out. I would be content to be able to just download them to my computer...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Adventure Log

I went over to nanowrimo.org to post my Big Fun Scary Things list for the year, and there are 67 pages of folks posting theirs already. So, I'm posting it here in my blog so that I don't lose track of it. Someone posted about the site 43things.com(?) where you can post your life list. I remembered when I saw it that I had done so at one time a few years ago. Don't remember my user name or password or whatever for the site now. So, here on my own blog is my list of things to accomplish, or rather a modest list to get me started:

1. repair the walls in the office and paint it turquoise
2. hike the approach trail to the AT
3. get up to 30 minutes on the elliptical machine at level 1
4. make a dentist appointment to take care of this broken tooth once and for all
5. live on what money I bring in for at least one month, not using savings or credit cards

That is a good start for now. I have other goals, and longer range ones. But, if I do these 5 things it will set the stage for the rest.

Rainy Sunday

I did the hike yesterday morning, just like I'd planned. I got up, drank a bunch of coffee, got dressed and went hiking. I was home by noon. I did forget a few things in my desire to get going early. I forgot my hiking poles since I keep them in the truck so I won't, ummm, forget them. Unfortunately I driving the car right now... I could have used some gloves, and a stocking cap rather than the ball cap I wore that didn't cover my ears. It was a bit nippy when I started out. Some kleenex or a hankie would have been good. I thought of all this within 5 minutes of hitting the trail.

I got home around noon. I had a list of things to do the rest of the day, notably to change the tire on the truck so I can start driving it again. The jack in the truck was locked up when I tried to change the tire on Tuesday. I now own a nice, new 2T hydraulic jack. I waited for yesterday so that I could change the tire in the daylight and not while I'm on my way to work. Also, I discovered that I have a trunk full of stuff in the Stanza from moving day that I forgot was there. I was going to unload all of that. What happened instead was that I crawled into the bed to warm up since on the way home I got chilled. When I woke up 4 hours later I was still chilled and didn't feel all that well. I figured that the chilling was mostly about not enough food, so I fixed some dinner. It made me not feel well, but about an hour later I felt a lot better and was warm. Unfortunately it was dark. And, today it is raining. Hard. So, looks like I'll be driving the car again next week.

I have been making plans with Stumpknocker to go hiking on the approach trail to the AT sometime at the end of February. He has hiked the entire AT several times. I posted to his guest book after following his journal of his hike this year, and when he emailed me to thank me for signing we started an on-going (so far) exchange. Actually, I keep pestering him. The approach trail is 8 miles and goes from the lodge (I'll look up the name since there is no way I can spell any of these places correctly without it right in front of me) to the top of Springer Mt in GA where the AT begins if you hike from south to north. It seems rather daunting to me to have to hike 8 miles just to get to the trail. Then again, the AT is 2,189 miles long, so 8 shouldn't be a big deal. The idea of hiking with a 'real' hiker is a bit daunting, and one reason why I was diligent about getting on the trail yesterday to train. After collapsing from hiking less than 6 miles with I'm sure much less elevation change I'm feeling even less ready. However, I have a month to work on being in shape and eating enough to not collapse.

I happened on some more self-sufficient sites. One says that the place to start is in the kitchen, learning to cook from scratch. It reminded me that I need to pull out my bread machine and make some bread. Mom used to get bread for me. Actually, I wanted to make my own bread, and was doing so, but Mom would bring me a couple of loaves of multi-grain bread whenever I saw her. I couldn't let that bread go to waste. Now her source has gone away so I can make my own again. I have 20 lbs or so of flour and all the other ingredients. It's a step. I was thinking I would unpack my loaf pans and make normal looking bread for my dinner in a few weeks. I then realized, yet again, I have no oven. Just like when I was going to make muffins, my loaf pans won't fit into my toaster oven any better than the muffin tin did. Who knew I would need an oven so often? I look at my empty kitchen with the horrible dark maroon walls, look at my office which is my current work in progress, and sigh. I may need to get a larger sized toaster oven. I had one once and they are ok if you don't have a real oven. I hate to buy yet another appliance, but it will be awhile before I either have the kitchen remodeled or have the money to buy a real stove. If it's not one thing, it's another (tipping my keyboard to Gilda Radner)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Rapid Reversals

This is my day of the month to be grumpy. And a bitch. I know many of the folks would ask what is different about today. The difference is that today I'd cut them into 3 pieces if they said it to my face. I don't want to face the day.

So, since the world doesn't stop this one day a month for me, I started my morning routine. It includes checking my email. There I saw a letter from Chris at the Nanowrimo site. If you remember (or if you don't) it is the yearly challenge to write a novel in 30 days in November. I started it before life got completely out of control with the move. I made 5000 words, the least I've done in the 3 times I've tried it. At any rate, I figured he was branching out into fund raising year round. I sighed, but I didn't delete it. I started reading. Here is a partial copy of the letter:

"Think for a moment about those activities, classes, and endeavors that you've long daydreamed about, but have never quite got around to tackling. I'm talking about the roads less traveled---the tuba lessons, the family-history writing, the foreign language learning, the transformation of your living room into a multi-story race course for feral hamsters. These are the nonessential creative activities that get us in over our heads, bring new people into our lives, and help make life more magical.

As adults, we tend to steer clear of these pursuits because they t ake time and cost money. But putting off all our adventures for later comes with its own set of costs. Our souls become dry and brittle. Our energy levels sag. Our noses fall off.

Which is why I'm inviting you to pick a couple never-before-attempted endeavors that have long intrigued and daunted you, and then do them in 2007.

Publicly.

Yep. Once you have your list of new adventures post it in the Adventure Log, 2007 thread of the brand-new Trying Big, Fun, Scary Things Together 2007 forum on the NaNo site.

We'll cheer each other on, post updates on our various achievements and defeats, and generally revel in the joys of being inspired dilettantes. I'll also email a special certificate to anyone who accomplishes at least one of their Big, Fun, Scary Things by the onset of NaNoWriMo---October 1, 2007."

No fund raising anywhere in the post. Just an invitation to have fun. I smiled so hard I have tears in my eyes. This made my day. I am already in the beginnings of one of my Big Fun Scary Things, I plan to paint the office turquoise. This is out of character for me. I will put brightly colored prints on the walls. Again, very out of character. Or, maybe fabric and textiles. But, I will make it a bright room. This is why I'm excited to work on the office now and why I'm actually making progress on it. But, I needed to be reminded about this on this previously grumpy, gloomy morning.

The Nano site is: NaNoWriMo.org for those of you that wish to join in the fun.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Moving Along

I worked out tonight. I'm getting better at the pulling into the parking lot and walking into the gym thing. I went to the larger gym this time. Talked to the trainer who did the initiation workout with me, we got a lot of things straightened out. He gave me what I had initially wanted, a tour of where the different machines are in the main room, rather than the women's only room. That room has a bit too much estrogen in it for me. Dr. Phil on the TV, etc. I like it out in the main room better.

I did 5 minutes on the elliptical machine. I keep being able to add a minute each time I'm on it. This is good. Working out once a week seems to be good for now. It gives me time to recover between times. I'll increase that when I am more in the groove. I did more arm machines tonight. Still just beginning, but I am progressing.

Came home and ate and had my protein drink. Then I worked on the office a little. Just enough to make a bit of progress there, too. Now I'm going to crash. I'm sleeping too much, but that seems to come with the territory of working out for me.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tarot

I have an on-going casual interest in the Tarot. Also, I Ching, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and other mystical and arcane things. It's all part of the mix for me. I have both of my Tarot decks packed away as well as my I Ching book. I have mentioned SimpleLiving.net and the discussion boards there as a place I hang out under another name. Tarot came up on there, and some good links were given by various folks.

To learn Tarot:
http://www.learntarot.com/

Get a Tarot reading:
http://www.facade.com/tarot/

I went to the Tarot reading link and to see what it said. One of the layout choices was Shadow Truth. How could I resist? I always learn something from a Tarot layout, whether it is what thought I needed the answer to or not. This was no exception.

"The Shadow Truth spread provides insight into your attitudes and hidden feelings. This spread is used when you are having trouble confronting something, or fear that you are concealing something from yourself."

The remarks in quotes are from the facade.com site and belong to them. The ones not in quotes are my observatons.

I had asked for a 'general reading' and was after an overview of my life. However, the significance of the 'Shadow' in the layout name attracted me. So, I got a reading giving insight into my attitudes and hidden feelings. Ok, whatever. This is a 5 card layout.

"The card in the center represents the attitude you assume. The Magician: Mastery over word, mind, and matter. The ability to turn ideas into actions, handle problems, and control one's life. The initiation of new projects, great works, or a new way of life. Eloquent and moving communication. Arcane and eldritch technologies."

I would personally say that this is my ideal, what I would like to be. If I assume this attitude then I am happy. Arcane is defined as: known or understood by very few; mysterious; secret; obscure; esoteric and eldritch technologies are are not defined in wikipedia so I'm guessing they are, uhh, arcane. So far I am totally down with this reading...

"The card to the right represents the thoughts and feelings that underly your attitudes. The World: Completeness and intricacy of design. A great work. Achievement, reward, and well-earned recognition. A time of success, prosperity, security and joy. May also indicate travel or a change in residence."

Again, I'm totally down with this. I just changed residences and am already thinking what I want my next one to be. I have traveled in the past and traveling is very much a part of my future plans. This is really what I want my life to be.

"The card at the top represents how your attitude is evolving and will evolve in the future. Knight of Cups, when reversed: The dark essence of water behaving as fire, such as a flash flood: Deceptive charm in the service of intense insecurity and rapidly shifting moods. Selfishness, indolence, and a complete lack of maturity. Misguided idealism divorced from practicality. Destructive romantic passions and infidelity."

Oops. Ummm. Intense insecurity and rapidly shifting moods? Me? Misguided idealism? As for the last sentence, ah, well, hmmmm. Ok, so I'm not making the progress on any front that I had envisioned. I have these deceptively charming excuses... sigh. Is this cognitive dissonance, the gap between perceived reality and true reality? This card smacked me up the side of the head. Hard.

"The card to the left represents how others perceive your attitude. The Hierophant: Faith in tradition and the old school. A justified and ancient source of power. Being supportive, sympathetic and loyal. Receiving instructions, learning, guidance or inspiration. The ability to hear a higher or inner voice. May also indicate a religious ritual, such as a marriage or an initiation."

I would venture that those I run with now see me as 'old school' and ancient, and even maybe hearing inner voices. Power maybe not so much.

"The card at the bottom represents what you cannot confront or are hiding from yourself. Six of Pentacles (Success): A time of prosperity and profit. Success and generosity in material things. Power and influence turned to noble pursuits. Philanthropy, and the balancing of physical and spiritual life. May suggest gifts or aid to one in need."

So, I'm hiding and not confronting prosperity, success, power and influence. All the things that I supposedly believe in and underly my attitudes. Damn that cognitive dissonance again.

Wrap up: What I take from this reading is that I can have all the things I want in life if I get off my butt and make it happen and stop sabotaging myself. Yeah, well, but you see (turning on charming smile) there are all these things standing in my way...

Friday, January 12, 2007

More Accomplished

After work I went over and installed more software for my Mom. Her new computer is almost set up right. I have one more thing that I need to dig out and she will be set up like her old one, only better. I kept wondering where her pictures were. They weren't where I remembered storing them. This morning I had a flash of memory, and they are on her laptop, not the old desktop. sigh. I'll move then next time I'm over there.

I'm excited to get going on the office. And, I'm excited to sit down and plan the dinner. I feel back to normal now, or at least as normal as I get.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Back to Work

I have made a couple of decisions in the past 24 hours. One is that I'm going to stop working on the laundry room for now. For a small room it is actually pretty complicated. I am going to move to working on the office. It is smallish, and is just 4 walls. Only 4 corners, one door and 2 windows. I will start cleaning the boxes out of it this weekend and go from there. I am totally stalled at the moment and it's time to change something out in the process.

Also, I have decided to have everyone that helped me move, along with spouses and/or dates, to my house for dinner. Tentative date is Feb. 3. That means I have a lot of re-arranging to do and cleaning and such. I want to do it this way because I think that folks will be more likely to come if it is here rather than going out to dinner. I may be wrong. I say I can't cook, but that isn't really true. Even Nancye was surprised that I would decide to have the dinner here. I USED to cook and entertain fairly often. Then... well... I just stopped. So, I have my projects lined out for me now.

Monday, January 08, 2007

On Track

I worked out this evening at the gym. I didn't mean to. I had talked myself out of it. I finished work early so I was running around doing errands instead. Jonie sent my wonder protein, and I knew I wanted to start on it ASAP, so I went to Sam's to get some bananas and soy milk. I make a smoothie of the protein, a banana and the soy milk. Good for what ails me. Well, I realized that I was a couple of blocks away from the branch of the gym that is actually closest to my house, and it was only 4pm, so I really had no excuse not to go in. I even had my work out clothes with me. So, I ended up exercising that weakest muscle of all, the one that pulls into the gym parking lot and walks in. This gym is much smaller than the one across town. I wasn't impressed at all. Almost walked back out, but couldn't really justify it in my plans to get into shape. So, I changed and found a cardio machine and managed to go 4 minutes! That is a full minute longer than last time. My steps in the program are small, what can I say. I then found two of the three machines I hadn't seen at the other gym, the ab machine and the one for the lower back. So, I used those. A bit too much I think. I'm feeling it now. I got one of their smoothies as a treat for forging ahead against my strong excuses not to actually work out. The $5 smoothie wasn't all that good. I knew I had the ingredients for a better one in the truck.

By the time I got home, drinking their crushed-ice based drink had me chilled. I crawled into bed to warm up and fell into a deep sleep. I know that means I'm still calorie depleted, so when I woke up (via a phone call from Mom), I fixed a frozen dinner and my own, much anticipated, protein smoothie. The bananas from Sam's were VERY green, but hey, I'm not going to wait another day or two to get my wonder protein drink. I ate dinner and drank, and my abs were starting to hurt. Or was it my tummy? I mentioned on the chat room that I'd had a green banana, and Dc0de said that that would give stomach cramps... great... He said to drink more soy milk to dilute it. I never drink soy milk straight, always mixed with something. Turns out I really can't stand it straight. So, I'm going to deal with tummy pain. So far it's not too bad, but I know it's there.

So, two steps forward, 1.5 steps back. The process continues as I try to get into shape.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Another Saturday

I feel like I'm back in college. I'm basically living in one room, and it's trashed. Gotta spend today cleaning up. This has been a pretty good week. Work went well, although I spent most of it down in the south part of town instead of heading up north. Went to some clients I haven't been to in a long time. Not sure what is up that that side of town has so many calls and almost none on the north or west sides. I finished all my calls each day. Makes me look better. The previous dispatcher would send me places that I drove a long ways to and still try to give me the same number of calls that the guys in town had. That was the basis of our bad feelings cause I never got them all done and he wouldn't listen to me that I couldn't. So, given the same route, I can finish the calls. Good.

I worked out Tuesday evening. Not a huge effort, but still a good all-around workout. I was sore cause I don't have any Physique, Shaklee's protein and bulk up powder. That stuff is awesome mostly because it keeps my muscles from being sore. I used everything down before I moved, and somehow New Year's Eve and New Year's Day I had little or no food in the house. Couple that with the fact that I'm trying to work out more and I started to really feel the calorie deficit. I started buying groceries to stock up. By Thursday I had the grumpies that I always get when I'm working out, so I decided that I'd not work out Thursday evening and instead started eating as much as I could. I even cooked Thursday evening! A real meal! It caught up with me last night since my body doesn't like to go from not much food to a lot of food, but this morning I feel a lot better and ready to start working out again. I may go do the ridge trail at the county park, which is 2 miles in and 2 miles out. Go light and fast. It's been raining a lot, so the trail may be muddy. And, I called Jonie and ordered some Physique.

I have managed to track my spending all week in my spreadsheet. I was just about to say I'd spent over $200 on groceries, but the numbers actually are $123 for groceries and $14 for restaurants. That has me stocked up for a couple of weeks or so. Hmmm. The spreadsheet is good because I obviously don't have a good feel for just how much I really spend. It also motivates me to keep my little chart that monitors income and outgo on the positive side rather than the negative side when I chart income minus outgo.

Davy finally contacted me about working on the website for the convention this summer. I hadn't really talked to him in several years. Really, I haven't talked to hardly anyone from back home in a long time. But, anyway, he said that he will meet me half way this weekend or next to give me the materials and such. I'm guessing it won't be this weekend since I haven't heard from him. It will be good to get back into the caving group. I was going to go to the local grotto meeting here in town, but it was Thursday evening and I just wasn't up for it. Next month...

Time to get to work.