Saturday, December 8, 2018

Stick Dog

This is the name I've given to a sleeping position I adopt
Stick dog or self portrait?
when I break out in a sweat, a common occurrence generally limited to my sleeping hours. It involves laying on my side with my arms and legs extended in search of cooler sheets.

Another position, unnamed, involves laying face down except I've been told never to sleep face down so while my lower half is face down, so to speak, my shoulders are rotated as in the Stick Dog position.

Temperatures are in the 20s at night now. Yet, I sleep with the fan on, covers thrown off, with arms and legs splayed while Hubby shivers under two Pendelton wool blankets. Both of us believe we should be losing weight - he because of vigorous and continual shivering and I through profuse sweating. It's hard to imagine that our slumber is restful! Neither, however, has found any weight loss in sleep.

Why am I telling you this? Your guess is as good as mine. I needed to post today so this is what you get. As in most blogs, it is a rambling of personal problems best kept to oneself. And, yet, I ramble on!

Now posted, you are dismissed.

Friday, December 7, 2018

I've suddenly become addicted to Triscuits and potato chips...

... and I know exactly how it happened: cleaning up. Let that be a lesson to you!

Putting away the party snacks, one inevitably must nibble. A cracker here, a potato chip there. Before I knew it, I was craving my next snack. I NEED A TRISCUIT!

I knew I hit rock bottom when I found myself eating potato chips for breakfast - Kettle Brand Krinkle Cut. I thought I could restrain myself. I only had a handful - maybe two - and then I put the bag away. But I couldn't stop thinking about them. They were ground into my teeth. I tried to dislodge the snack with my tongue only to taste their salty goodness and crave them all the more.

It's been four and a half hours since my last cracker - almost an entire day without chips. I'm trying to be strong but have turned to coffee to distract myself. Am I doomed to replace one indulgence with another? Thank goodness there aren't any cookies in the house!

(Anymore....)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Is it Friday yet?

. . . because I had too much Wednesday.

My house is a glorious mess. We hosted our first party since we remodeled, the first party since we've had both a dining room table and chairs, and the first Holiday party since we moved here. We purchased our condo with all the furnishings three years ago. It came with a dining room table but no chairs. This was great because, without chairs, we were never expected to host anything. We attached a net and used the table for ping pong instead.

Last year, we decided to remodel including all new wood floors. Rather than store the furniture for the duration, we sold it all and bought new stuff. The previous owner's furniture was worn and we wanted an updated look to go with our updated space. We bought dining chairs but no table. We couldn't find one that would fit the space and still be good for ping pong.

We spent six months looking for a table. During that time, we had no ping pong but we also continued to have no obligation to host anything. Luckily, we had friends who were gracious enough to include us as frequent, if not perennial, guests.

Even though we've had both table and chairs since February, the reputation persisted: We don't host.

Until last night. We invited friends and neighbors over for dinner and then a short walk to watch the Christmas Ships cruise along the Columbia River. That was the "Holiday" part. There was no gift giving. No ugly sweaters. No roasting fire. We had our measly few decorations, some holiday music in the background, and a whole lot of wine.

We invited Jimmy. We also invited Al who lives nearby. I have no idea how old Al is but if I had to guess, he's in the neighborhood of 80. We see him out walking every morning, rain or shine, and got to know him as our regular walking buddy. We invited a chef (no pressure!), a friend (our adopted daughter?) with two small children, and it was perfect: our house was made a home.

The kitchen was a littered with food, pots, and pans. The table was covered with wine glasses and coffee cups. After our wintery walk, blankets and coats were draped over every surface. We found Triscuits under tables and ground into carpet. There were dominoes dangerously dancing on glass table tops. (Our condo is more kid dangerous than friendly.) But no wine was spilled in the making of this party!

It's just the kind of mess that I don't mind. The kind that comes with warm, fuzzy feelings for being the evidence of love, messy as that is.

I slept in this morning and am slogging my way through Thursday, still in my fuzzy afterglow. I'll get over it. The Grinch isn't far away. Rain is back in the forecast. The nights are still long. But for now, everything is all right.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Here are two gifts I won't be giving you.

If it's the thought that counts, you are doubly blessed because I have two gifts that I won't be giving you.

Aloe

I have three aloe plants, two of which have given birth to several more and their pots are getting crowded. All year, I kept thinking I would come across a sale of adorable small pots that I could use to re-pot all the babies and gift to friends. But, I didn't. And, I didn't go out of my way to find them either.

Fruitcake

Phew!, you just sighed, but have you actually tried one? At the turn of the century (or thereabouts), I came across an article in Martha Stewart Living, to which I then subscribed, that extolled the virtues of this holiday phenomenon. Somehow, even though I had a career and two kids, I had enough time to bake all five varieties mentioned in the article. I think I liked some better than others but since I can't remember, it might be time to make them again.

The cakes are literally fermented and, therefore, must be made well in advance of when you intend to eat (or gift) them. For this reason (and the fact that I suck at managing my time), you will not be receiving such a cake this year. (Beware, I've already put it on my calendar for November to start baking for next year.)

Of the five recipes included in the article, only one can be made in less than one month's time: Chocolate Panforte. It is possible you'll get a bite of this before the year is over. However, I also found this at Martha Stewart dot com: Miniature Golden Fruitcakes so you're not entirely safe from the gift of fruitcake although it's highly unlikely that I'll get motivated enough to actually make them.

But, I thought about it so there you go. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Stress

The effort it takes to reduce stress is stressing me out. My blood pressure has been running a little high lately and I'm trying to avoid taking medication for it. For alternatives, I found this list (from 13 Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure - ABC News):

  1. Power walks [Already doing it.]
  2. Breathe deeply *
  3. Potassium [Had it tested. No deficiency.]
  4. Reduce sodium [Also tested fine.]
  5. Dark chocolate [Every day, baby!]
  6. Coenzyme Q10 [Started taking it as of today.]
  7. Drink (a little) alcohol [I'm an overachiever here (and not in the "little" department).]
  8. Switch to decaf coffee [In your dreams but I'll do it if nothing else works.]
  9. Hibiscus tea [On my shopping list.]
  10. Work less [I'm in front of the computer most of the day whether I'm working or not.]
  11. Relax with music *
  12. See help for snoring [For me or my partner?]
  13. Replace refined carbs with foods high in soy or milk protein [I'm not sure how one can replace the other but reducing one and increasing the other makes sense. I have a soy latte, generally, every day.]
     * This is where I get stressed out.

I'm doing well in most of these areas but there are a couple bad habits I probably should fix. Deep breathing and relaxing music? Who has time for that?

I've tried to close my eyes and focus on my breathing and found myself getting antsy almost immediately. Today, I tried while listening to the most relaxing music ever and set a timer for one minute and was, frankly, surprised at how quickly the time passed. I'll work on increasing that time but just thinking about it is like: "Great, just another chore I've got to do." (If I all I did was worry about my "gottas" I'd never get to any of my "wannas.")

As if that wasn't stressful enough, I looked up how to properly take my own blood pressure. The instructions from Mayo Clinic include (and I quote although the emphasis is all mine):
  • Measure your blood pressure twice daily. The first measurement should be in the morning before eating or taking any medications, and the second in the evening. Each time you measure, take two or three readings to make sure your results are accurate. Your doctor might recommend taking your blood pressure at the same times each day.
  • Don't measure your blood pressure right after you wake up. You can prepare for the day, but don't eat breakfast or take medications before measuring your blood pressure. If you exercise after waking, take your blood pressure before exercising.
  • Avoid food, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol for 30 minutes before taking a measurement. Also, go to the toilet first. A full bladder can increase blood pressure slightly.
  • Sit quietly before and during monitoring. When you're ready to take your blood pressure, sit for five minutes in a comfortable position with your legs and ankles uncrossed and your back supported against a chair. Try to be calm and not think about stressful things. Don't talk while taking your blood pressure.
My morning routine includes coffee first thing so there's no period between "right after you wake up" and coffee. Certainly not 30 minutes. If I take my bp before exercise, that's less than 30 minutes after I had coffee. And twice daily taken multiple times? Sitting still for five minutes? It's all getting to be too much!

Ugh! It seems that medication is the easy way out - pop a pill and go about my day. But, if I want to avoid that, I need to quit whining and figure out how to relax a little. 

Maybe I need a cat. [I typed "stress and cats" into my search engine and found articles about stressed cats. That's the last thing I need!]

Monday, December 3, 2018

No Explosions

Sunday started with coffee in bed and an email from KenKen Puzzle Company saying that my December puzzles were ready. It was the perfect start to any day.

I decided, after all, to get out the holiday decorations which now consist of a ceramic tree lit by Lite-Brite-like lights (say that ten times fast), empty Christmas stockings, and a few decorations left over from when we used to get a tree. I turned on the fake fire (adding a YouTube crackling fire soundtrack), and lit an evergreen-scented candle.

It's not like Christmases past. No live tree. No family coming to visit. No music. (There's still three weeks to go. Don't want to overdo it.) I'm not nostalgic. Rather, I appreciate the easy, low stress, simplicity.

My family is strewn across the country so it's been decades since we were all together for the holidays. Meanwhile, Hubby's large family of four generations has managed to get together every year. (36 in all now, including spouses, if I counted right). A boisterous crowd, everyone somehow managed to get there. There were white elephant gifts and gift exchanging games that were loud and rambunctious. There was a kitchen full of food and more cookies than could be conceivably consumed. Santa sometimes showed up and one year even the Grinch made an appearance.

This year is the first year we won't all be together. Families have moved apart. There are new households and new traditions being established. Ornaments are being passed down to younger generations. They can have the stress, too! I'm enjoying the quiet.

I guess the transformation is complete. I've managed to get into the spirit of things (although "jolly" might be a stretch). And, I didn't blow anything up.

Peaceful, all around.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

BADASS!

After a lazy morning yesterday, Hubby and I approached each other with "What do you want to do now?"

I answered, "Well, we could go to a movie or maybe take a handgun lesson."

*record screech*

These words have never before formed in my mind, much less come out of my mouth. I don't have any desire to own a handgun and have only had a mild curiosity about how to handle one. We discussed movie options, a possible hike, a quick day trip to a winery but by the time I got out of the shower, we had an appointment with an instructor at the local gun range.

It was a little nerve wracking since I've never even handled a handgun before. I've only (knowingly) been in a room with one a couple of times. Yet, here we were. We started with classroom instruction that covered safety, range rules, stance, grip, and aiming before even handling a weapon.

Our instructor chose a Glock 17 for us to try and we headed to the range where we covered the mechanics of the gun before even loading it. I felt calm even as my hands shook. The noise didn't bother me. I wan't afraid of the recoil, although I found myself anticipating it at times, and I wasn't worried about the shells as they were ejected from the gun. I just tried to take it all in- intellectualize it all - yet the adrenaline found its way to my sweaty palms.

In the end, I had fun -  a word that feels funny to use in the context of lethal weapons. Using firearms responsibly should never be trivialized. That being said, I felt badass. I did something that I was uncomfortable doing. I learned something. And, I did well.

I'll probably go back but I still don't want to own a gun. And I'm just as interested in taking a traditional self-defense class. (My alter ego is a ninja.)

So maybe range shooting wasn't a very Christmas-y activity and it did nothing to get me ready to celebrate the holiday. (Now that I mention that, what does that even mean? Why does anyone need to get ready?) But, I'll grin the next time I hear the song, "You better watch out..." because this Grandma is a badass!