Tales of the Caffeine Monster (solsc 1/31)

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I love the look of a tall glass of black coffee with ice in it just as the heavy cream begins to swirl and slip to the bottom of the glass. I always think I need a photo of it, because this time is the most beautiful.  Unfortunately, I am hypersensitive to caffeine and it affects me in an unappealing way sometimes. It’s funny how I can drink a fully caffeinated latte every morning for a while and then suddenly one day I become a snappy bitchy harpy. I don’t even notice it at first. I think everyone is being so annoying for some reason, but by about 10:00 AM I recognize the symptoms of caffeine and I realize it’s me. Or my caffeine overload. Is is a cumulative thing? Something that just builds in my system until it explodes? Whatever. It’s not pretty. This is what happened to me on the day before yesterday.

I was partway through my Friday morning at school, usually an easy day as it’s a short one. For some reason the kids were annoying me no end.  Ivan asked if he should do the assignment that I just gave or should he work on his Anne Frank biography notes. I (swear this is true) rolled my eyes and said, “Your  notes should already be done. We’ve been doing them all together every day we’ve been reading the story.” I know I sounded like a thirteen year old. But please!! I was right, just didn’t need to be so churlish with him. Of course he hadn’t been doing them – he seldom does anything at the right time, so why should this time be any different?

My day continued kind of like that until I got home at about 5:30 and discovered that my son had left the heater on all day and the house was at least 85 degrees. That day probably cost about a hundred dollars! (Fortunately) he wasn’t home as I came in yelling my head off. I opened all the windows and left the house. Stomped off in my Prius to I didn’t know where. Just away from the oppressively hot house. But not before I stopped my yard guy (who does a nice job) to tell him to quit pruning my camellias and Japanese Maples and sago palm with his hedge clipper.  He’s shattering the ends of the branches which is ruining them. So yeah. I hope he doesn’t quit.

I drove off, unable to think of where to go because I was dressed in my school t-shirt (it was spirit Friday), which isn’t suitable for any restaurant other than a fast-food drive through, only I don’t go to those, so a restaurant was out. I decided to drive out to the bird refuge where I could walk it off without offending anyone else. It takes fifteen minutes to drive there, and when I arrived I saw where the rain clouds had been busy. The sky was so exquisite that it made up for the complete lack of birds there. It was too cold to walk much, so I just sat in my car and breathed slowly. I walked out to the closest viewing station and just took it in. I came back to myself and decided it’s time for a hiatus from caffeine. Getting annoyed with things is a common enough thing, but being mean about it is unnecessary.

 

I won’t say this ended there and then. When I stopped at the grocery store on the way home, I wanted to buy a loaf of bread and eat the whole thing with lots of butter, but for me gluten avoidance is working well, so I didn’t do it. I did fall prey to some sugar however, and didn’t beat myself up one bit about it. It was just the cost of doing business that day and that’s that.

Today my latte was half-caff, and tomorrow I’ll try easing off to decaf.  Maybe I’ll even break off my relationship with coffee. For a while. Or maybe not. I will definitely alter my relationship with caffeine.

 

 

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A Guest Post by Eric Preston

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A couple of days ago my friend Eric Preston sent me a short piece he had written about his take on the holidays. It resonated with me, and I asked his permission to reprint it here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Here it is:

Christmas–the time of year that as a child you wait for all year. There is so much excitement surrounding shopping, family visiting from afar, decorating the house, sending Christmas cards, baking cookies, making Grandma’s peanut butter balls, Santa’s delivery of the toys you so desperately wanted all wrapped up in a three to four week flurry beginning just after Thanksgiving.
Flash forward to adulthood and so many of us still cling to those heartfelt memories. But now, instead of genuine excitement, we look to many of the festivities with dread, family tensions fresh enough to still hurt, work parties, block parties, school parties, church parties, too many parties, rushing to buy or make gifts for everyone on that ever increasing list, trying to find the time to get the house decorated, to keep up with the Elf on the Shelf, to keep up the facade that is Christmas for our little ones.
As a 45 year old father and grandfather, I find it difficult to admit that I’ve had but two good Christmases as an adult, neither of which had anything to do with the kids. Christmas has become a selfish time of year. Although I was raised in church, I am far from religious, but the concept taught me in my youth, “It is better to give than to receive,” seems to have been forgotten, and far too often by me as well.
The two Christmases that stand out for me as good ones were all about doing for others. One of the years I got myself roped into delivering dinners to those less fortunate in our community. For about a week leading up to the event, I found myself dreading the day, making sarcastic quips to friends about it. But when the day came, the genuine smiles and gratitude shown by those receiving the dinners dissolved my cynicism and underscored what I had been taught as a child.
The second Christmas, though not nearly as selfless, was the year after my wife and I were married. Desperate to be “that” couple, although we didn’t know it then, we spent two days making homemade jams, cookies, bars and candies. We neatly packaged and decorated our goods and delivered them to friends, family and work colleagues. Everyone loved what we had done for them.
It is amazing the appreciation people have for homemade gifts, oft remarking they don’t know how you find the time, or that they could never do what you do. The answer is simple. You make the time. You turn off the TV and eliminate other distractions, putting the focus on the pleasure others will gain by the fruit of your labors. By eliminating the desire for receiving gifts and, instead, remembering that the more we give, the more we receive, we can reclaim a more grown-up version of the childlike excitement Christmas should be bringing to all.

Thank you Eric, for putting into words what I know many of us feel at this time.

Paleo Stuffed Acorn Squash – Wow!

IMG_6327Now, I’m clearly not a food photographer, and this isn’t a food blog, but I have to tell you about a delicious thing I made tonight. The basic recipe is Sarah Fragoso’s (It’s in her Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook). That is the only one of her cookbooks I don’t have, so I just asked her how to make it and then improvised. I’m never a good recipe follower, but I do like to know the basic idea and then go from there. This stuffed acorn squash turned out so interesting and delicious, I just had to share it. I am usually a simple eater, but I’m trying to change things up a little and make some delicious Paleo food, so this is my first try for a dinner recipe.  Here goes:

Ingredients:

2 Acorn Squashes, cut in half and scooped out.
Butter and Nutmeg or Pumpkin Pie spice to taste (Or ghee if you don’t use butter.)

Bake the squash upside down in a 350 degree oven for about half an hour. When it is pretty well cooked, turn it right side up and put some butter and a little of the sweet spice in it. Return it to the oven for about 5 minutes.

Filling:

While the squash is baking make the filling. The ingredients I used are:

1 Onion and 2 cloves garlic, chopped.
1 pound of ground pork (I used Llano Seco grass-fed pork)
2 medium size zucchini squashes, cut small
2 Bosc pears, peeled and seeded, cut the same size as the zucchini
2 small ancho chiles, roasted and seeded and chopped
For seasoning I used Kosher salt, cumin, ground red New Mexico chiles and a spice mix that smells like sage. Just add these to taste – I didn’t measure, but I just sprinkled some in. (Sorry, I’m not a measurer.)

Saute all this together, beginning with the onion and garlic, adding the pork and cooking until the pork is cooked and the onion transparent. Then I added the vegetables and pears and the spices, stirred it up and cooked it on medium heat for about 15 minutes.

Once the squash is done, take it out and fill it with the filling. Return it to the oven for 10 minutes and serve it. It was so yummy and so easy to do! I overdid it a little on the red chile, but I like things spicy so it was fine with me. You really can put in any seasoning you like. The surprising part is the pear and sweet spice with the savory dish. So delicious!

If this is impossible to figure out because I’m not very precise and even a little vague, you could check out Sarah’s cookbook. It’s full of delicious well seasoned recipes. I’m going to be working my way through it/them this winter.

 

Listing My Life, Another Day

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This simple little mandala is sweet, I think. Kind of a centered place to begin this post, after a pretty off-center day. I don’t know what the deal is with the kids this week…it’s like Halloween and Daylight Savings Time just sent them into orbit. But we persevere – a long weekend is coming up. So, once again I begin a list. Have you noticed that each item keeps getting longer? I suppose that means I’m digging back into writing, which was the purpose of this exercise. Yay! Thanks for continuing to come back. It’s nice to believe that someone is on this little ride with me.

1. Monday. My orange tree is so loaded with fruit. They are like little gems hanging from the branches. Tonight I picked a (small) basket full of them. I think I have so many I want to share them with everyone! Organic Tangerines!! It feels like an embarrassment of riches. Once I get going at picking and eating and giving there will not be as many as I think, but that’s okay. I don’t want a single one to go to waste. Take a look:

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2. Tuesday. This post has been a couple of days in the making. For some reason WordPress will not open the photos in my iPhoto, on my laptop. So I have to upload them from my phone and then come back and write about them, or about whatever. Somehow this seems so labor intensive that I languish. I watch the Property Brothers on TV or sit in the hot tub and then go to bed early. Why is it, I wonder that if a thing involves extra effort it seems like too much trouble to do it? It seems like I’d rise to the challenge, doesn’t it? Or not. Guess that explains my not writing much lately. Ideas are sparse, and seem like a hurdle to overcome, for some reason.

3. Wednesday. Oh my, the natives were restless today. The kids just couldn’t focus for anything – no amount of input from me had any influence over them. It was icky. Yesterday I was in a goals meeting with our Vice Principal and one of the new teachers I am mentoring this year. The teacher had set behavior management as one of her goals for the year. The VP explained that at her stage of teaching she is just discovering her way of managing behavior. He reassured her that in a couple of years she’d have it figured out, and would know what works best for her. I felt like crawling under the desk because after 23 years I still don’t really have it figured out. Truth. I guess what I do understand is that kids aren’t things or jobs to be managed, and the way to soften the flow in the classroom changes with the group of students you have each year. This year I have some really loud kids. They are smart and do their work but they are so loud and they move so much. Puberty has struck and their focus is not on their English class!

4. Friday. I’m at school now, laughing a little over one of my students. He’s a guy who is always just a little out of step with things. He wears thick glasses and learning requires extra effort for him. He is a sweet guy who usually tries pretty hard, and has a pretty good handle on his progress. Today he told me, “God, Ms. Jacobs, I’m so screwed on this week’s packet. Hardly any of it’s done.” No self-chastising, just “Dang! I didn’t do my work!”

Then he went to the ringtones setting on his iPad and played his favorite ringtone about five times in a row, bouncing his head as he listened. He said, “Bro, this is so swag! It’s my music.” It was hard to keep a straight face. It is a ringtone. Fifteen beats of “music” over and over. So swag. Now that he has it memorized, he sings it without benefit of the iPad accompaniment. “Doot doodle-oot toot…” over and over. In case you’re wondering which jazzy ringtone it is, it’s the default one called “Opening” on an iPhone. Yes, that one. So swag.  Sweet, because although he’s laughing at himself a little, he really does love that sound. (I’ve never heard anyone use that word as an adjective, by the way.)

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5. Saturday. For the past two weeks a Tibetan monk has been creating a healing mandala in the student union at Chico State. This has happened several times in the past. He works painstakingly placing every grain of sand just in the right place, and then at the end of the time, after it is all made, he and his volunteers hold a mandala class and blessing ceremony and dismantle it all. I’ve seen it being made but have never attended the dismantling ceremony, so today I did that. The completed mandala was so intricate, so three dimensional, truly a work of art.

I got there early enough to stand in the front where I could see everything. He gave a “mandala class” in which a volunteer read  paragraph of an explanation, and then he interpreted it. He was so delightful. Funny and self effacing and he gave so much meaning to each part of the mandala. It took a long time, and I got sick of standing in one place, but it was worth it. He spoke of compassion and joy and truth and love. Humility  and peacefulness within ourselves. It was beautiful.

After he finished I noticed one of the volunteers taking a great deal of ownership over where the fortune cookies were placed for the crown to be able to offer a prayer and take a cookie.There was a quick bicker  with another volunteer over their placement, with the winner saying “he said to put them there.” End of argument. Later I observed three women coming to the front with wooden trays which obviously had something to do with the dismantling of the mandala. As they tried to get through the crowd, I observed a tall man refusing to give them passage, waving them over to the other side of the table. He did this twice, before he realized that they were connected to the event. In a setting like that, the normal foibles of humanity were so very noticeable, much more so than on a normal day, in everyday situations. I was a little embarrassed for them, except I wasn’t really. I mostly tried not to judge them. And in that effort lies yet another human foible, the judging of others for no good reason.

Okay. This took me too long. And it is too long to boot. So there we go. I’m losing attraction to my new listing genre. We’ll see if I maybe find something else for tomorrow. Hope you’re having a great weekend. It’s almost like a four-day weekend for us, only it’s not. Still, I’ll take it! Here’s the goodbye photo for the day:

A little pen and ink mandala I made.

A little pen and ink mandala I made.

 

Listing My Life, Day Three

I caught these on my walk Saturday. They look like little daisies, but are mushrooms.

I caught these on my walk Saturday. They look like little daisies, but are mushrooms.

Day Three. I began this listing two days ago after reading an article by Leo Babuta that a writer friend, Christina Frei, posted on Facebook. Here is a little piece of it: (It’s really worth clicking over and reading the whole thing)

How do you push through when you don’t feel motivated? You start moving. Take just one step, any step, a tiny step. Movement begets movement. Once you start moving, even a little, you feel better, you see that you’re capable, you want to move more.”

To me this meant that if I want to write, I have to just start. Anyplace, just start. Lists are something I can always write, so I decided to start here, with some lists. And lo and behold, I’m enjoying writing again. So, here is day three.

1.  Twenty-seven eighth graders three days after Halloween are not the most pleasant people to be around. They are having fun but I’m not. It’s kind of funny how I expect them to behave as though they were older than thirteen, just because they aren’t eleven or twelve any more. Thirteen was my most awkward, confused time of life. Actually eleven was, but thirteen was close to the same. I still played the trombone in the marching band, always secretly wishing I played a girly instrument like the flute. I put yellow Kleenex in my bra and then thoughtlessly wore a white blouse that showed the Kleenex, which was duly commented on by a girl who wore a larger bra but didn’t need to put Kleenex in it. (Who even remembers when toilet paper and Kleenex were colored?)  Mortification. When I was in eighth grade, I talked so much in class I know I drove my teachers crazy.  So maybe this is some karmic payback. That must be it.

2. I’m waiting for the fireplace-insert repair guy to show up to light the pilot on my fireplace thing. It suddenly got kind of cold this week – not like those of you who  live back east where it’s frigid cold, but less than comfortable. I really try to do as many homeowner things as I can, but for some reason I just can’t get this thing started and it’s driving me crazy. I don’t like to mess with gas either, so once again I’ll pay someone else to get things going for me. UPDATE: Done and done. Fresh and clean and warm.

Speaking of warm, have you ever seen these paper lanterns? I think they came from Korea. You light the little light inside, and they float up into the atmosphere. Probably becoming litter somewhere, but when a whole lot of them take off at once they are breathtaking. We didn’t have very good luck sending more that a few off, but wow, so beautiful/
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3. Yesterday it was pointed out to me that I missed number three on my list. I don’t know how I managed that. There was actually another thing I was going to write about yesterday but didn’t, so it must have been number three. That thing is the topic of dyeing hair. My hair, to be specific. I don’t do it anymore. For years I had a skillful colorist who added lowlights and highlights to my hair. I think it looked very natural, as the grey wasn’t completely covered up. It just blended in. But whenever it would get close to time to go in for a touchup, I would see roots that were completely white. And I felt shame. That’s right, shame. It was all tied up in aging and looking older and not wanting to admit that I was getting older. If I kept coloring my hair no one would guess my age. Something like that. Because all my life I’ve seen women lose their power when they got older. The slope from being a ‘woman’ to being an ‘old lady’ seemed steep indeed. It was kind of like I feared being whacked by it from behind. I thought and thought about this, and then I came across Cindy Joseph and her Pro-Age Revolution, and I had to rethink all that. I decided that it was time to own it. My age, my hair color, all of it. I told my hairdresser of my decision and she was completely supportive. That was nearly three years ago, and I don’t regret it for a second. It was interesting to see what color it would be if I just let it grow. It’s completely silver in front and a little darker in the back. People sometimes say, “I wish mine would look like yours. I’d grow it in a second.”  I say, go for it! It’ll probably look better than mine. It’ll be perfect for your skin tone.

This is kind of a long #3, so I guess it’s two days worth! Let’s see if I can find a picture of this silveryness. I can’t bring myself to put this photo as big as all the others. It’s enough that I’m even putting it in here.

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4. What about making things? I like to do that, so much. It’s like I go along, and go along and all of a sudden I just have to make something. It doesn’t matter what, actually. Could be a collage, a mosaic, a little pen and colored pencil drawing or a photo. I used to make quilts, but it’s been a while since I did that.  The funny thing is, I don’t think any of my students ever have that urge and I wonder why. It used to be that I had incredibly talented artists among my students. They loved to do projects that would allow them to make something. But that is past, and I’m afraid that was weeded or trained out of them by the whole No Child Left Behind fiasco. The kids of my classroom would rather do a worksheet than draw or cut and paste. It makes me sad, because I know that within some of them is an artist that wants out, only they don’t know how to recognize it. Surely that will lead to feelings of frustration as they go on. I hope some art teacher in their future is able to introduce them to this part of themselves.

IMG_2917 This is my last mosaic project.

5. Okay, here’s the last one for today. Cooking dinner. I’m just not into it lately. I’ll eat the same soup I made on Saturday for as long as it’ll last if it means I don’t have to cook. I don’t know where this cooking aversion came from.As much as I love eating vegetables, I don’t love cooking them. Just in case there was any question about that.

Let’s see what I can come up with in the way of a farewell photo today.

Taken at the Northern Sacramento Valley Bird Refuge. An amazing thing to watch.

Taken at the Northern Sacramento Valley Bird Refuge. An amazing thing to watch.

Listing My Life, Day Two

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Here we go again. Day two, in which I ramble around again, searching for whatever I’m thinking about. Probably in preparation for my beginning to work on an actual project again, but maybe just a list a day for a while. Which is okay with me. Actually, this list making is pretty satisfying. Thank you to those of you who read yesterday’s list, and double thanks to you who left comments, here and on Facebook. It’s great to know someone is reading what I write! Here goes day two:

1. The picture above is the Day of the Dead altar my students and a parent and I made for our school. Even though el Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday, people of all descents participate in our altar. We love the time it is up in the hallway. Each of those little colored squares and photos is a memorial to a family member who has passed away. This is our fourth year of doing this. Yesterday I read an article which a Mexican-American friend posted on Facebook entitled “Dear White People: You Want Our Culture But You Don’t Want Us.” While I understood the message of the article, I felt like shit a little bit. Like, why do we all keep on dividing ourselves? Can’t we all become a little more loving and accepting across both/all sides of this aisle of race and culture? Must I be embarrassed about being white? Apologize for it? Sorry, I can’t help it. This is just the luck of the draw. It’s who I am. I hope I’m not contributing to the things that piss people off. I’m also a senior citizen. We baby boomers are hitting that status in droves.

2. Enough of that. Today I decided I’d take my walk in lower Bidwell Park. In Chico we have a city park that is seven miles long. It ranges from downtown, through a big flat, well tended park to a less and less tended park, to a series of rocky rambling trails into the foothills. It’s our pride and joy, really. Lately I haven’t been going there very much. So I was disappointed that the entry to the park was closed today due to a running event. I decided to go to upper park to walk instead, and there were runners there. I guess it was a marathon, maybe. Anyway, I parked my car and hiked up a rocky trail to the top of the hill. It was beautiful. The air was just perfect. Warm with an undertone of crispness. Sounds like I’m describing a wine, doesn’t it? No wine. Just air. Here is a picture of lower park:

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And here is where I walked today:

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4.At this time of year I get obsessed with taking photos of migratory birds, especially at sunset or sunrise. I go to the bird refuge which is about 15 minutes away and capture whatever I can see. I especially love it when the Sandhill Cranes come in for the evening. They are always the last ones to arrive, so I have to wait until it’s almost dark for them. They are huge birds with a loud raucous call. There is another place to watch for birds and sunsets, which is usually completely devoid of people. It is a collection of settling or overflow ponds behind the sewage treatment plant, outside of town. It smells a little ripe walking past the plant, but once beyond it, there is no smell. Just egrets and ducks and geese and walking paths. A good sunset is superb out there, with all the reflection. Here’s the thing about me watching these birds: I am not a bird watcher in any other sense of the word. I went out on a goose-viewing jaunt one day with a group of bird watchers, and I could hardly stand it. The competition to see a new bird, the conversations touting all the birds each has managed to see just bugs me. I am definitely a solitary bird watcher. Except I like to go see birds with my friend Jeannine. Even though she is definitely a bird watcher, she is not at all annoying about it. I love to go out with her. Here is a shot of a Sandhill Crane I got when I went out on a photo of birds outing with the bird refuge people. The leader let me borrow his 400mm lens. It was amazing to use that equipment!

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I like this one, too, of a Kildeer (I think), taken with the same lens:
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5. I see the plant nurseries are having sales. I wonder what you can plant right now. Cyclamen, for sure, and I suppose tulips or other bulbs, but isn’t that all? I have a dilemma about my garden. I have this big orange tree that I wrote about yesterday. Last year it hid all its oranges inside its branches. I almost missed them. This year they are everywhere. It is loaded. Right next to it is an apple tree. It had six apples this year, which somehow disappeared when I was in New Mexico last summer. Not even a rotten core was left. It’s a young tree and is really too close to the orange. I value the oranges more than the apples. I think to be good, apples need a little colder environment than my hot valley yard. But I think the orange is beginning to avoid the apple, so I’m thinking of taking it out. The apple. That seems wrong somehow, yet maybe necessary. I’d rather have a fig tree or a nectarine, a little further from the orange. It’s a dilemma that I think about quite a bit. I wonder if I have a photo of this situation. Here: any ideas?

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6. Today I’m making egg cupcakes for breakfast this week. They are a delicious and easy way to get some protein and vegetables for breakfast. I found the recipe in Sarah’s first cookbook, “Everyday Paleo” and have adapted it to fit myself. I cut up zucchini, roasted poblano chiles, spinach, red peppers and bacon. I mix it with eggs and some sea salt and maybe some ground New Mexico chiles and bake it in a muffin tin. Then I just keep them in the fridge and pop a couple of them into the toaster oven every morning. They get crispy and are really a treat. The only part that I don’t like about making them is they get stuck in the muffin tins and I haven’t been able to work that out. I grease it liberally with coconut oil, but still they stick. I’ve tried removing them hot and not hot, and there is no definitely predictable solution so far. I also tried those paper muffin things. Nope. Worse, they had paper stuck to them.

I guess I’m going to stop now. I”m posting more photos than words, it seems like. Balance. I must work towards that. I could keep this list making thing going on for a while. I just keep thinking of things to talk about, and no one is interrupting me, and I don’t have to write a whole post about it, so I just keep going. But there are lessons to plan and food to prepare so enough better be enough for today. Just one more photo, an older one, of sunset at the settling ponds, on a day when I felt like I was inside of a kaleidoscope:

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Have a great day.

Listing my Life, Day One

Stuck. I’ve got lots to say but apparently no words. I sit to write and after a sentence or two, I’m dry and judgemental about whatever I just wrote. This has been going on for a while now. Months, actually. Maybe it’s time for a list of things. Just things – who know what will emerge? First a photo. Eye candy, maybe.

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The little creek at Chimayo, New Mexico

1. On August 1 I began working out at a gym, with a personal trainer. Before I began I went in to be interviewed, and to interview them.I went with trepidation because I hadn’t worked out in a very long time. I didn’t know if anyone could help me or if I’d missed the fitness boat. I had grown overweight and not at all strong. I didn’t believe I could do hard things because of that. When I went to that first meeting, I was completely honest.I said that I felt this might be my last chance to regain some strength. I said that I want to lose weight, but even more I want to be stronger and flexible. I want to be able to carry my grandchild around. John, one of the owners, said he thought that we could work well together. I signed up for a series of personal training. The first day, as I drove to the gym I realized that had I joined a regular big fitness center, I would have once again not gone even once. The only thing that got me to that gym was the person who was waiting for me to arrive. When she asked how I was feeling, I surprised myself by answering,”Scared.” It has now been three months. I have lost 18 pounds and I am getting strong. I can do things today that I couldn’t even imagine doing three months ago. My gym is owned by a couple who are Paleo enthusiasts. My trainer has written several Paleo cookbooks. I have quite eating grains and sugar, but nothing fanatical. I’m definitely not fully Paleo. And that’s okay for now.

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A little bit of beauty on my almost daily walk.

2. Last summer I went to an incredibly nourishing writing retreat in Taos, New Mexico. It was a week of writing and learning and spiritual recovery. I came home feeling blessed. I will probably go again next year.

We stayed here last summer. Amazing place.

This is an Earthship. We stayed here last summer. Amazing place.

3. I still have a teenager living with me. He is 19 now and a lovely person. Except when he thinks I don’t know anything and shirks the truth to do whatever he wants to do. At those times I miss my privacy and solitary life. At those times I think enough is enough. But mostly I don’t think that, so we go on.

4. My orange tree is loaded this year. I thought they were mandarins, which would be such a wonderfulness. But today I’m thinking they might be tangerines. They have seeds. I’m disappointed about that, although the flavor is pretty good. I hope they get a little better once it gets a little colder at night.

Inside a home at Taos Pueble

Inside a home at Taos Pueble

5. NaNoWriMo has begun and I haven’t even pretended that I’m going to do it this year. Duh, if I can barely write a word how would I write a novel in a month? I wouldn’t, that’s how.Just like the last few years when I started without really starting. A dud year.

6. My class is finally using iPads in class. We are using Edmodo as our home base, and I assign things there. They hand them in on Edmodo and it’s pretty great. I had to hide the cameras behind a password for now because they just couldn’t get enough of those silly Photo Booth photos. I realize that our kids are accustomed to using electronics for fun only. Photos, Snap Chat, games and other social media. It’s no wonder that when I give them an iPad to use they go straight to the fun stuff. If they’re to become how we do school they have to learn to see beyond all that, to the schoolie possibilities. So far we have used four apps: Edmodo, Flashcards+, Educreations (a little) and Accelerated Reader. I used to worry about how I’d teach them to use so many apps, and how we would make them be the way we do school. Now I know that the way to teach them to use all those apps is one at a time. So we keep a little list of our so-far apps on the board in front of the class.

7. Last night I was heading out to my daughter Melissa’s house for Halloween sitting around, as I tried to avoid a wet low-hanging branch I whacked myself in the forehead with the corner of my car door. It hurt more than I could imaging anything hurting. (Except for my injured knee that hurt that badly earlier in the day when I whacked it on a chair.) I dissolved into tears and had to go lie on my bed and cry for a while. It suddenly occurred to me that I must be trying to do too much, too quickly if I was hurting myself twice in one day, so I just stayed home and didn’t move much for the rest of the night. I would have gone out and enjoyed the hot tub, but the next door neighbors were having a Halloween party at the top of their lungs, which kind of stole the magic from the crisp evening. So I watched an episode of Nate Berkus I’d DVR’d and went to bed.

8. I’ve been struggling in my mind, not in a written way, obviously, about how much personal stuff to put in a blog post. I tend to think it should be kind of general, but where is the interest in that? I think people wouldn’t be interested in my personal take on things, but what else to I have? That’s it. So I’ve been not writing at all while I think it over. Duh.

This is a start. Is it enough? Why yes it is. I’ve managed to write quite a bit without erasing it or beating myself up. So I guess I’ll hit publish. And I think I’ll come back and do it again tomorrow, and maybe the day after that, until I find my rhythm agin. Now just maybe one more photo…

Taos Mountain