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Archive for October, 2011

My horoscope this week said that even if I don’t know where a creative venture is leading, I should just keep attempting to create something  until the way becomes clear.

So I’ve interpreted that to mean that I should attempt to write something — anything — until I get a great idea.  Combine that with November’s novel writing challenge, and I am simultaneously inspired and intimidated.

Sometimes it’s easy to find something to write about. But what about those days (today being one) when all you’ve done is work?

Well, that’s not exactly true. There was the brisk 3.88-mile walk to East Campus and back. And according to Lance Armstrong (via my Nike+ GPS), I broke my record time for the 5-K. Yay!

There was also the lunch excursion to an Indian restaurant.  Something and Kabob.  I had okra masala; it was very tasty.

I’m waiting to hear from L., who’s going to pick up basketball tickets.  Then I’m headed home for a prayer meeting and hopefully an early evening.

My dog Bailey has not been sleeping well, and when Bailey doesn’t sleep, no one sleeps.  She paces and pants loudly.  And if you’ve never had a dog with smelly fish oil breath pant in your face while you are trying to sleep, you’ve been missing out!

I’d imagine Bailey’s predicament is a combination of being in pain, being demented, and having her internal clock messed up.   The question becomes what to do?

I give her as much pain medicine as she can handle.

I’ve tried taking her for walks before bed, though many times she’s just not interested.

I’ve tried giving her some food before bed.  She always eats it, though I haven’t noticed it making her any sleepier.

I’ve tried giving her melatonin and allergy medicine, though not at the same time.

I’ve tried putting her Thundershirt on in the evenings.

Tonight I’ll put one of my heaters near her bed to see if the added warm will soothe her and help her sleep.

Maybe with more sleep myself I’ll be able to be more creative.

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People post the most surprising things on Facebook.

One of my college roommates has a history of posting what I view to be rather extreme opinions on politics.  Remember the earthquake that hit DC?  She thought it was unfortunate that no Democrats were killed.

My sister-in-law’s sister, who seemed meek and mild in our few interactions, posts off-color sexual jokes.

And a spiritual counselor, whose feed I subscribe to, recently posted something I found to be puzzling.   She said she was eating at a restaurant and saw someone eating an “insane” amount of food.

The comment felt prickly to me, so I had to take a look at why.

My first thought was what GrannyB always told me: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

Unfortunately, I do not follow GrannyB’s advice.  I’ve been known to snark with the best of them.  But somehow, and unjustifiably so, I find it acceptable to say mean things amongst a few friends rather than posting those thoughts on my Facebook wall for all the world to see.

So this comment was showing me  that I needed to be more careful in what I say, both on public forums and to my friends.

Another reason I had a strong reaction is because the comment was posted by spiritual counselor, of all people.   Shouldn’t she be encouraging us to move beyond judgment?  To send love?  See how easy I judge her for not doing what I think she should do?  Shouldn’t I be sending her love right this very minute?

So maybe next time I have judgments about someone, I can choose to send love, say a prayer, and/or ask to see the truth in the situation.

Back to the original comment by the counselor.  People did respond with various reactions.  The counselor then commented that she is worried about the earth’s scarce resources and she doesn’t like seeing people abuse their bodies by ingesting too much food.

That leads to the other, rather insane thought I had.  She would judge me if she saw me!

Now, I’m not obese, but I do weigh more than I should.  And I can ingest some “insane” amounts of chow, especially if  I’m stressed or depressed.

So there are plenty of things to look at here. Why do I care what some person I don’t even know thinks about me?  Why do I take something she said about someone else personally?   Why do I still define myself by a cultural standard of beauty that I do not meet?

I don’t really have the answers for those yet.  They are life-long issues for me.

Ah… Facebook.  I wonder if the founders of this lovely social media tool realized how many opportunities for growth it would provide?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yesterday, I was doubly inspired to take a long walk. It was warm and sunny, with a light breeze: the perfect temperature to be outside.  And I was going to see “The Way,” the Martin Sheen/Emilio Estevez movie about a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.

I took a little bit different route this time, getting my distance up to 8 1/2 miles. I was happy to see that many of the trees are starting to show off their fall colors:

I found a creek along the way.  If this weren’t private property, I would have been tempted to investigate:

Then I went by the Eno River,  and took a moment to enjoy the view:

Then it was off to rolling hills, and grassy fields. One of the things I love about living in the Triangle area of North Carolina is the proximity to open spaces.  You can be in the city, then drive 10, 20 miles and hit wide open spaces.    Of course, this area is still growing in population, so those open spaces will move farther out as developers buy up the land.

But that’s for another day.  I’m going to enjoy the view as long as I have it!

My notes from this walk:

1.  Lots of hawks!  Hawk is one of my power animals, so I was happy to see them.

2.  I love that I am allowing myself to take the time to do long walks, and that I have designated Sundays for this time.  There’s plenty to do at home: part of my garden still needs to be put to bed, and I can’t seem to stay ahead of the cleaning chores.  (Don’t ask about the last time I washed my windows!)

I still end up doing some housework, but these long walks allow me to commune with nature (and God) in a very deep way.  They rejuvenate me before beginning another work week.

3.  I read somewhere that one way to prevent blisters is to use duct tape on your feet.  So when I stopped by my house for a potty break, I pulled out the duct tape.   It did indeed help buffer where my feet rub against my aging orthotics.  I hope to remember to tape my feet from the get-go next Sunday.

Who knew duct tape could help you survive a terrorist attack and prevent blisters!


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It’s Thursday, and the water fountain outside my office has been broken since Monday afternoon.   I know this; I really, really do.  But  every time I get up to fill my water bottle — and I drink A LOT of water — I go to that particular water fountain and press the lever.  “Oh yeah … it’s broken.” I then trudge up the stairs in search of a working fountain.

I’ve been in this particular office space for more than two years now, and the water fountain and I are fast friends.  Like a robot, I’ve been conditioned to just get up, say hi, and imbibe without so much as a second thought.


I have certain routines that I always follow.  Even if I’m supposed to be doing something different, I often find myself on automatic pilot, following the same, well-worn path.

Take driving, for example.  I’m on the highway, headed in the same direction as work, though I’m actually going shopping at the mall, or to my friend M’s for prayer meeting.  Six times out of  ten, I’ll take the exit for work instead of continuing on to my actual destination.

And heaven forbid if friends move!  I’ll often find myself headed toward their old address, and not the new.

I have routines with the dogs, too.  I get up, walk them, then feed them.  I come home from work, walk them, then feed them.    However, if I change the routine any, I can sometimes forget about the feeding.

It’s only when they approach with sad eyes and starving tummies that I remember perhaps my most important job of all.

I tend to act on auto-pilot with my reactions to life as well.  I have this bad habit of assuming that, just because something happened one way in the past, it will happen that way again in the future.   Not only does this create a lot of needless stress, it also takes me out of the present moment.  I don’t allow myself, or others, to make different choices.  I close myself off to good that might come my way.

So I’m working on turning off the auto pilot.  I’m focusing on living in the present and allowing for alternate possibilities.   I’m paying more attention when I’m driving — always a good thing! And, out of the four times I’ve filled my water bottle today, I’ve remembered to go upstairs once.    Baby steps!

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Gardening leads to cooking, leads to canning, leads to reading the internet, leads to finding sites where people cook and can and do amazing things with food all the time.

I’m overwhelmed when I read these sites!   Shall I say it’s painfully obvious that my little efforts to cook and can are exactly that — little.

But a girl’s gotta start from where she is and build from there. And, let’s face it, I’m in the baby stages of canning.

This weekend, I tried a variation of the blueberry butter recipe found on the Food in Jars website.    Because it is nowhere near blueberry season, I used some tasty frozen blueberries purchased from my favorite box store, Costco.


Side note: these are yummy.  I eat them in plain yogurt all the time!

Back to the blueberry butter:  the reason I tried this recipe is that it looked incredibly easy.  Basically, it’s blueberries, sugar, a little spice and lemon zest.  Then it sits in the crock pot for hours.  And hours.  And hours.  The goal, according to the recipe, is to get the concoction very thick and liquid-free.

I didn’t quite meet that goal.  Night was fast approaching, and I wanted to be done with this project.  So I went ahead and jarred up the mixture, sealed the jars in a hot water bath, and called it a day.

The good news is that the jars sealed perfectly.  The bad news is that the contents appear to be a little runny.  The little extra I kept aside for tasting did thicken up nicely, but that was after I put it in the fridge.

So the verdict for next time:

1.  Take the time necessary to thicken the ingredients, like the recipe said.

2.  Add more lemon zest.  The lemon-blueberry combination was heavenly.

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Yesterday was a beautiful fall day here in North Carolina. And what better way to enjoy the weather than by walking for several hours?

So I grabbed my trusty iPhone, logged into Nike+GPS, and meandered around my neighborhood for 6 1/2 miles. Then it was time for lunch!

Along the way, I looked for fall color. Unfortunately, the leaves haven’t really turned yet. This is about the best I could find:

While I was walking, I realized several things:

1.  I love trees!  I really, really do.  I can’t imagine living in a desert.

2. I really need two walking sticks.  Using just one left me feeling unbalanced.

3.  There are some interesting street names in my area.  I’d love to live on this spicy street:

4. I need new orthotics.  Unfortunately, the person who made mine has gone out of business.

5.  Last, but definitely not least: there’s a skunk in my neighborhood.

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Remember that old saying that you can count on two constants in life: death and taxes? Well, so far, I’ve been able to count on one more: not being able to figure out what I want to do with my life.

“Career confusion” has been a recurring theme since I moved to North Carolina twenty-odd years ago. Before moving here, I worked in journalism and public relations. But, due to family circumstances, I moved without a job at the same time that one of the local newspapers was shutting down. I was unable to compete with the glut of already established, well-qualified people, not to mention the freshly minted graduates from UNC’s award-winning journalism program.

But a girl’s gotta eat — and pay back her student loans. So I took what was available. There were the stints at restaurants (waiting tables as well as cooking) and at retail stores.  I tried my hand at freelance writing, but could not make enough money.  Now, I’m seemingly stuck in the world of office jobs.

While I have reaped benefits (and stories ) from my various jobs, none of them have been particularly soulful. When discussing this issue with my friend C., she would say that not everyone can do what they love: “Someone has to do the non-glamorous jobs.”

Maybe I’m a hopeless dreamer at heart, or maybe I’m terminally depressed. But I just can’t go through life working so many hours, doing something that I don’t really enjoy and that doesn’t have meaning for me.  I want to do what I love, so the money will follow.  Problem is, while I can definitely identify what I don’t want to do, I’ve had trouble envisioning what I do want to do.

I’ve read The Artist’s Way, I’ve taken personality tests to see what I “should” be doing.  I’ve experimented in making money off my hobbies  of gardening and cooking.  But still, there’s this huge block.  When I think of where I want to be careerwise in five years, all I come up with is a big, fat blank.

So, that’s a long story to set the background for the excitement I felt while watching a French movie called,  “The Grocer’s Son.”

I loved this movie!  The actors were beautiful (yes, I am shallow), the scenery was picturesque, and the story was sweet.  But what I loved the most was the idea of a new career: driving a grocery truck around the countryside.


Now, I wouldn’t do that just anywhere.   I can’t envision doing that in my neck of the woods, for example.  Nope.  I’d do it on the Camino. My truck would carry foodstuffs, water  and medical supplies (bandaids, aspirin, etc.)  I’d offer prepared sandwiches, soups, and coffee.  Pilgrims would hear about this Americano and her truck and look for me along the Way.

Problem is, this isn’t a realistic dream.  From what I understand, most of the Camino is not on a paved road, so I’m not sure how pilgrims would find me.   Plus, starting a business overseas could be fraught with trouble.  And I’m not fluent in Spanish!

But, it’s fun to think about.  And at a time when work seems even more frustrating than usual, it’s nice to have a dream.

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