Just Life

Digging Deep

Y'know, there are just times when the Overwhelm comes for a little visit.  When life just feel a little . . . heavy.  When friends are struggling, or life's realities just kind of swamp you, or you have to do this-or-that that you'd really prefer not to.  (When not being signed in when you really ARE signed in and can't leave comments on friends' blogs is your Last Straw  . . . )

That's when I know I need to dig a little deeper.  
Turn things around.
Listen to what's already there . . .  in my heart.

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A gratitude list is usually a good place to start . . .

  • the smell of rain in the morning
  • a cool breeze through the open window
  • a cup of coffee
  • dogs at my side
  • an old pair of flip flops that perfectly conform to the shape of my feet

And, suddenly, the day seems brighter.  
Manageable.  
It's those simple things, really, that turn away the Overwhelm.  
Digging deeper . . .  opens the path for a fresh new day.  
(Because, really.  How can old flip flops not turn the tide?)

Happy Friday, my friends.  It's going to be a good day.


The Cat's Away. . .

I dropped Tom off at the airport yesterday.  It's just me and the dogs for a few days!

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You know what they say?  While the cat's away, the mouse will play!

Not that I change my routine all that much when Tom is away.  (We really don't get in each other's way.)  But there are some noteable differences when I'm at home for a few days on my own.

  1. I let the dogs sleep with me on the bed.  (No room when Tom's home.)
  2. I spread projects all over the kitchen island and leave them there.  (As my kids would be quick to tell you, this is taboo in our house!)
  3. I don't cook.  (I have a batch of leftover carbonara that I will eat for every meal until it runs out.  Then?  Take-out sushi!)

How about you?  Do your routines change when you're at home on your own?

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Head over to Carole's today to read other Three on Thursday posts.

 


Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Thirty-seven years ago today . . . 

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these two kiddos (my god we were young) walked down the aisle and said, "I do."

Today . . . we'll be walking down a different kind of aisle.  This time, we'll be looking for our seats at Hamilton in Chicago.  (Because you can't just see it once.)

Enjoy the rest of your week.  (I'll be back on Monday!)


Just Live Your Life

So.  This week was to be a Momentous Week for me.

But it didn't quite turn out that way.

You see, on Tuesday I was scheduled for my once-a-year check up appointment with my oncologist.  It would mark my ten-year-cancer-free-anniversary, and top on our agenda to discuss . . . was whether I really needed to continue coming in for my annual check-ups.

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These appointments always fill me with a little dread.  (Because cancer is creepy, y'know?)  But I also was really looking forward to this appointment.  (Because graduation!)  I also just really adore my oncologist!  She is laser-focused and super smart, compassionate while being totally no-nonsense, pragmatic -- and funny when you need humor most.  I was looking forward to celebrating with her, sharing a high-five, and thanking her for, well . . . saving my life.

A few years ago, my oncologist had her own brush with cancer when her husband become ill and died (just after my mom).  She drastically cut her patient load and moved her office closer to her home when he first got sick -- about a 45-minute drive from Kalamazoo.  She allowed me to continue on as her patient, because I was on the once-a-year schedule by then, and it made sense . . . if I was willing to make the drive.  (I was.)

On Monday, I got what I thought was going to be a reminder message from her office about my appointment the next day.  Only . . . it wasn't. Not really.  The message said, "When you come in for your appointment tomorrow, you won't be seeing Dr. L; you'll be seeing another oncologist from the Kalamazoo office."

HUH?

I called right back to reschedule.  But.  It turns out that my doctor had . . . retired at the end of June!  Just like that.  With no fanfare or communication or letter or anything. *

It was shocking to me.  Very distressing.  Suddenly, I had no oncologist!

I canceled my appointment.  (Because, really, who needs to drive an hour and a half to see a randomly-assigned oncologist who normally practices a couple of miles from my home?  And . . . who doesn't know me at all.)

And I've set up an appointment with my rather fabulous internist in a couple of weeks.  He'll go over my most recent blood work (which is reassuringly normal and very consistent with every other lab workup I've had in the last 9 years!) and help me decide how (and whether) to monitor things going forward.  

So. . . it's all good.

But also a bit discombobulating.  Because I was so looking forward to this appointment . . . as closure . . . for a very disturbing time in my life.  This should have been a celebratory week for me.  And, well.  It just doesn't quite feel celebratory yet.

I'm trying to just move forward.  And I will.

I remember how lost I felt . . . back when I finished my chemo treatments and felt so raw and exposed and vulnerable.  I asked my oncologist, "So, now what do I do?"  She smiled at me and said, "You get out there and you just live your life!"

I think that's what she would have told me to do - again - on Tuesday.  So . . . that's just what I'm going to do!

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* I knew she was planning to retire soon.  I just didn't expect it before I had a chance to see her again.


Really . . . What Are the Chances?

So.  Yesterday I wrote that my afternoon had opened up due to a change in plans.  And I rejoiced a little.  Because I really did want to get some paperwork completed.  (Mission accomplished.)

I never expected a similar situation to happen today.  Two days in a row.  Another cancellation -- and a suddenly open afternoon. Again.  (Really . . . what are the chances?)

Only . . . well.  I'm not rejoicing about today's change in plans.  It doesn't feel like a gift, this one.  In fact, it's requiring a little bit of brain-space today; some pondering.  (Not all cancellations are equal.  Y'know?)

So, here.  Have a distraction.  Enjoy this little flower arrangement -- a random collection of what's blooming in my garden right now. . .

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and I'll catch up with you tomorrow.  (Where there is no chance of an afternoon cancellation.)

 


Little Changes Everywhere

Like I said yesterday . . .

Change.  It would do you good.

Now, I wasn't talking about big changes.  Just little changes.  
(And I'm not just talking about a new air conditioner.  Although there is that, too.)

Like . . . we've been digging up whole garden beds at home and renovating them.

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And Tom got new glasses.
(Two pair, actually.)  (Costco is a great place to go for new frames.  Just in case you're in the market.  Quick, great prices, good service.  So much less spendy than at our opthalmologist's office.)

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The weather certainly has changed!  Last week?  Super hot.  This week?  Super cool.  (So cool that I'm currently wearing two sweatshirts with a shawl.)  (Fashion forward, that's me.)

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But probably the best change for me right now . . . is a change in location.

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We're up north this week - and it's so nice!  Quiet.  Slow.  Relaxed.

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Little changes everywhere . . . add up to big changes in your heart and soul.


How Hot Is It???

As I mentioned earlier this week, we've had this sudden and unwelcome heat wave for the last several days here in my corner of the world.  Super hot and really muggy for this time of year.  For days.

Although neither Tom or I are fans of air conditioning (much preferring open windows and fresh air), we were mighty glad to have it last Friday.  We turned it on, held our breath for a minute or two (because our air conditioning is a bit . . . temperamental), and celebrated when the cool air flowed from the vents in our house.

Until it didn't.

Over the weekend, the air went from cold . . . to cool . . . to cool-ish.  And the temperature outside kept rising.

It was then we noticed all the water in the basement.  (Did you know that a broken air conditioner coil coupled with a refrigerant leak makes for the creation of an ice block in your vent system?)  (We do now.)

So. . . 

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We're now in line for a new air conditioning system.  To be installed next week.  (Yeah.  Next week when the temperatures are back in the 60s and low 70s.)  (Because of course.)

Tom has been up north this week, setting up the docks and getting the pontoon back in the water.  (Also fishing.  A lot.)  I stayed home.  Because the air conditioner needed to be dealt with.  (And someone had to do it.)

I made a conscious decision to . . . adjust my attitude and Make the Best of Things.  To not complain.  (Except to Tom.  Because he's up north.  Fishing.)  (And I am trapped in a hot, stuffy house with two panting dogs.)  (Just sayin.)  To get through this with grace and dignity.  To not yell at repair people who can't repair.  Or at my "Comfort Consultant" (that's his job title) (I'm not even kidding) who is giving me so many options for new air conditioning units (when I just want one that works).

And you know what?  I've done okay with it.

  • I've created "cool spots" for myself in the house, and I just hang out there.
  • I'm drinking lots of water.
  • I'm avoiding housework.  (Like I need an excuse for that. . . )
  • I'm grateful for our many ceiling fans.
  • And our old oscillating fan.  (The one with residual blue Silly String remnants from one of Brian's youthful "experiments.")  (Oh, man.  The mess that made. . . )

I consider myself pretty lucky for the most part.  I mean . . . I live in a house with central air conditioning, and I can afford to replace it when it needs to be replaced.  It doesn't get much better than that, you know?

So . . . how hot is it?  Really damn hot, thankyouverymuch.

But it's cooling down outside this weekend.

And I'm just fine.  Almost comfortable, even.

Have a great weekend!  (Stay cool.)

 


Mud Pit in the Making

After living my whole life until last summer without the pleasure of a Bobcat in my yard, I've got another one parked out front.

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As I've mentioned many times, my house is built on a rather significant hill.  On one side of our property, there is a city sidewalk that follows the slope of our yard.  So it's steep.  Like . . . really steep.  Brian and his pals used to love it for skateboarding, but it's not so much fun if you're pushing a heavy stroller or maneuvering a wheelchair.

The city finally took notice.  Because the pitch of that sidewalk was not ADA-compliant.

A couple of weeks ago, a city-representative stopped by the house to explain their plans for making it so.  Let's just say it involves a lot of digging and some sort of retaining wall.  The photo above shows the work as of Sunday.  By yesterday, a whole lot more of my yard has disappeared, and now there is a big trailer, a Bobcat, and several piles of dirt and broken sidewalk at my house.  (Because of the hill and the layout of my house, I can't see the work being done at all.  But I can hear it!  And the dogs are very aware that we have a Perimeter Breach.  I can only see what's happening when I'm in my driveway.)

I'm anxious to see how it all turns out.  For today, we have rain in the forecast.  Lots of rain, actually.  Followed by "wintry-mix" and then several inches of snow.  (Yay.  My favorite kind of April weather.)  

Can you say . . . mud pit?  (Stay tuned.)


Inspired by My Refrigerator

Earlier this summer, the inside of my refrigerator reached The Danger Zone.  No longer functioning as an efficient storage place for cold foods, my fridge had become home to partially-used jars, uneaten leftovers, and god-knows-what lurking in the far corners.

Something had to give!

I spent a couple of summer afternoons pulling everything out of the fridge, assessing, dumping, recycling, cleaning, and reorganizing.  (It's a shame I took no photos, because the task was Herculean - and would have looked very impressive.)

In the end, I dumped a whole lot of uneaten, wasted food.  Much of it came in partially-used jars.  Things I bought to make a specific recipe.  You know how it goes . . . you need half a jar of some exotic ingredient and a couple of teaspoons of some specialty mustard and almost - but not quite - a whole jar of some sort of marinara sauce.  Anyway.  Being frugal, I always save the leftover stuff -- because I'll just use it next time I make the recipe! 

What always happens, though?  Well ... by the time I make that recipe again, I forget I have the stuff in the back of the fridge.  Or it's been in there so long it's now a Petri dish.  Or I remember I have it . . . but don't have enough, so start the cycle all over again!

So.  There was a lot of wasted food in jars.

There were also quite a few leftovers of uncertain origin squirrelled away in the depths of my refrigerator.  Now, Tom and I have gotten much better at regularly building leftovers into our weekly dinner menus, so this situation has improved quite a bit over the last year or so.  But, still.  Leftover waste -- and plenty of it!

I'm happy to report that my refrigerator is clean, organized, and functional once again!

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But.

I remain disgusted by my own food waste -- and I am all the more determined to buy only what we need, use everything I buy, and eat leftovers!

One thing I've stopped doing is weekly grocery shopping.  I used to have a system where I planned out all of our meals for the week in advance (based on what our schedule looked like for the week).  I made a big list based on that meal plan, and I shopped on Sunday afternoon.  Filled the pantry and the fridge every week.  This system worked quite well when the kids lived at home because our schedules were busy and predictable.  Back then, I was working and needed to be super organized.  (Besides . . . I had growing kids always looking for more to eat.)

When it became just Tom and I at home, though, everything changed!  Our schedules were much more apt to include spontaneous dinners out.  We had more leftovers.  We tried more exotic recipes that required more exotic ingredients.  Our lives and eating habits had changed -- but my old system of weekly shopping excursions had not!

To discourage food waste here at home, we changed two things:  First, I let go of the weekly shopping and now make several quick runs to the grocery store to just pick up what we need for dinner.  Second, we've made a commitment to eating our leftovers.

It's been working . . . but there is still food waste.  Mostly from partially-unused jars of ingredients -- so that's my next target!  I'm trying to be more discriminating about recipes I make -- really considering if I need to make something that requires me to buy several exotic ingredients that I wouldn't normally store in my pantry.  This is harder than expected -- because I really like trying new recipes, and the "exotic" always appeals to me.  But I'm working on it.

I decided to try one of the online healthy meal delivery services, too.  (Here's a quick run-down of some of the services out there.)  After doing some research, I signed up with Blue Apron.  Three meals per week.  Fresh ingredients.  Original recipes.  Perfectly proportioned meals -- so no waste.  

Our first box arrived last week.

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I was totally impressed to find . . . real, fresh ingredients packed into my box of three-meals-for-two-people.  Everything was pre-measured and packed (when packed) in recyclable materials . . . right down to a single farm-fresh egg!

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The recipes are clear and easy to read, and include photos, cook prep/timing details, and step-by-step instructions.  Because everything is pre-measured and included in your box, all you need to do is . . . cook.  (The only things I've needed to grab from my own cupboards are olive oil, salt, and pepper.)

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So far, I've prepared two of the three meals - steak and fish, each with a fresh vegetable side dish and some sort of potato. Both have been excellent -- really tasty.

But.  I would also say that both meals have been a bit more . . . fussy and involved. . . than I would normally prepare for a weeknight meal.  Lots of pots and pans and bowls.  Lots of overlapping steps.  Prepping one thing while cooking another.  Yes . . . everything was THERE and available -- but there was still prep and staging and managing to be done.

I actually found it to be a bit stressful -- and I'm an experienced cook!  (I was considering giving a Blue Apron subscription to Erin and Keith -- but decided against it because it would just be too overwhelming for them at this stage of their cooking lives.)

I'm going to give it another try -- now that I know I need to plan my own prep-steps -- because the quality was great.  The ingredients were fresh, the recipes were interesting, and the meals were really good.  I also really like having just enough to prepare a meal for Tom and I.  We have plenty to eat -- and no leftovers.  It really is perfectly proportioned.  And . . . it's super convenient to know exactly what you're going to cook for dinner --AND that you have everything you need to cook it.

How about you?  Have you ever tried one of the meal delivery services?  Do you have any suggestions for avoiding food waste?

Because I want to keep my refrigerator looking like that. 

 

 

 


It's Friday and I Need an Opinion

I'm having a decision-dilemma.

I can't decide which shoes to wear for Erin's wedding.

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I'm hoping y'all can help me choose!  

I'd prefer to just wear my flip-flops (or - better yet - no shoes at all!!!), but I think I'm going to have to go with mother-of-the-bride respectable for this one, and put on Real Shoes.

Here's my dress. . .

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After shopping (in stores and online), I remain uninspired with my shoe options, but I've narrowed it down to two pair.

What do you think?

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Disco feet? 

(These somewhat sparkly silver sandals are comfortable and - as a surprise bonus - they do not highlight my extreme flip-flop tan lines.)

OR . . . 

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Neutral putty peep-toes?

(Also comfortable and nearly invisible - but my god . . . that flip-flop tan line is rather extreme.)

OR . . . 

Should I keep shopping?  (And, if so, for WHAT . . . exactly?)

What do you think?  Opinions, please!  Help me decide. . .