Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 In Review

At risk of repeating myself....It's been a rough year. Husband ended up being on-call over the holidays, which meant we couldn't go anywhere and I was actually a bit relieved about that. It's not that I don't want to go home and visit our families, but it's been so long since I've had a bunch of uninterrupted time to myself at home. I needed it.

Looking back..

  • Cautiously optimistic that my knee was better and I could get back into an exercise routine
  • That's what I see from looking back at the few posts that I wrote; I can't say there was much memorable.
  • Looking forward to plans to go visit my sisters in April! All kicked off by my baby sister sharing the Rod Stewart concert event on Facebook and then commenting that it would be a nice birthday gift to her if we all went to the concert. I'd already half been thinking that it would make a great excuse for a visit, so plans were made.
  • Unexpected work stuff. Bad, bad, work stuff. Stress through the roof, and me feeling miserable. This company wins all kinds of "best workplace" awards, and I will admit that the benefits are excellent (and make it hard to leave), but quite honestly I am less and less happy working there as time goes on; haven't really been happy since they acquired the company I originally worked for. Ended up taking an extra week of vacation to recover from the stress a bit before I took off to visit my sisters.
  • Vacation was excellent.
  • Work still sucked once I got back.

Spring & Summer
  • Busy, busy with home improvement stuff 
  • Allergies were terrible this year; tried different allergy meds to no avail; only thing that helped as taking Advil Cold & Sinus Advanced on top of the allergy meds when it got really bad. I know that's probably not good, and if things don't get better I'll have to go to the doctor about it.
  • Heat pump installed. (Wanted by husband)
  • Tank-less hot water system installed (Wanted by husband)t
  • Fix dry wall at back of garage (Wanted by husband) and discover we need to have our roof re-shingled.
  • Cat fence kit installed! (Wanted by me)
  • I spent most of my free time in spring and early summer hanging out in the yard with Isabelle. She needed the outdoor time, or she would get wild; we couldn't leave her outside by herself, because she could easily get over the fenc.
  • Early in the spring it was less pleasant, often cold and windy and mostly I was just standing around the yard watching her.
  • As things warmed up/thawed/started turning green, I was able to pick away at yard work which was nice; I felt like I was accomplishing something and I enjoy being outside if I have something to occupy myself.
  • Still, it meant I didn't have much free time for anything else.
  • But then the cat fence went up, and for the first time in several years, I could actually have a garden!
  • We actually had a pretty good growing season, and I enjoyed puttering and grew lots of tomatoes.
  • I will say, I appreciated the heat pump then. Husband likes to be cool and while I often felt it was a bit too much - me in sweaters during July and August - it was nice to be able to come in from gardening in the summer heat and be able to cool off.
  • Two quick trips home to NS; one for Husband's family reunion weekend, and one when my baby sis came home.
  • Baby sister was home for two weeks, and actually came over to visit us for a few days and we went to see ZZ Top (they were excellent).
  • Summer flew by too fast as usual.

Fall & Early Winter
  • Harvesting tomatoes, canning salsa and tomatoes...
  • Parents came for Thanksgiving weekend and Dad assembled a new Tardis for me (the original one was unfortunately rotting away from damp).
  • I didn't get fall yard clean up done this year. I kept meaning to, but somehow there was never time. It rained a lot. We were busy. It turned cold early.
  • We went to Hal-Con in late October. Lots of cool guests this year, but we only had one day. Minor crisis when I somehow lost my convention bracelet in the morning, so we had to go back to registration again. We saw Levar Burton (Q&A panel) and Anthony Stewart Head (Photo Op, Q&A Panel, Autograph). This was our second time going, and the first time we saw any of the guests, so we were still figuring things out. 
  • November we were off to the  Whisky Festival for the 4th year in a row, this time with a couple of friends which made it even more fun.
  • Was sick for a couple of weeks - end of Nov/beginning of Dec - and still haven't quite shaken the sniffles and cough.
  • Off on vacation from Dec 21 to Jan 2nd. Did a lot of cleaning on the 21st, my first day off, and ended up not feeling well again. It felt like a mild asthma attack at first - and maybe was - but it lasted and accompanied by sniffles and cough lasted a couple of days. The feeling of having a weight sitting on my chest was gone after that, but still have the sniffles and cough. Feeling like allergies again  I may have to break down and go to the doctor if this keeps up.
  • Thinking back, I found the allergies seemed to get bad this spring after we got the heat pump. I don't know if that's what is making it worse again now? I don't know, maybe it was coincidence.
  • So after the first day, I spent my days relaxing for the most part. Husband was home anyway, and I find I am less likely to do house stuff if he's around. He went back to work on Thursday, so I puttered around Thurs & Fri, picking away at some things I've been needing to get done (taking everything out of china cabinet to clean and dust, cleaning out cupboard that mouse has been into, more de-cluttering in kitchen, laundry...and the list goes on).
  • Managed to play around with a little bit of painting, but not as much as I would have liked. Hardly touched the piano at all.
  • Friday evening we had a Pokemon Go EX Raid to go to. It was mildly snow-stormy all day, but off we went with our intrepid Pokemon Go friends to do it anyway. Normally difficult to get Husband to step foot outside in good weather, but he'll go out in the snow for an EX Raid. 
  • Weekend was quiet aside from Husband's on call, and our garage door deciding it didn't need to close....sigh.
  • We got an instant pot...a few weeks ago? A month ago? Made Pork Carnitas on Saturday, and that is the best thing we've done in the instant pot so far.
  • And now here it is Monday, and vacation is almost over. I do feel more rested and de-stressed, but still not ready to go back to work and I wish the cold/allergies/whatever would go away.

Looking ahead...What do I want this year? Ah...Okay...Maybe that should be another post or I'll never get this one finished!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Let's Try This Again

[Part B]
I kept trying to write this post...Starting in March/April I think. I don't know how many times I started over; could just never manage to finish. Last time was in August, so I'm just going to hit publish with that date now and leave it. This has been a really hard year for me....And the 2016/2017 were rough as well, as I tried to deal with the loss of Frank & Zappa. Things have to get better from here?

Early April, 2018...

Well that totally didn't work!

What can I say? Still so exhausted, and then a couple of busy weeks, and then I got sick....

Towards the end of March there was actually a bit of yoga, and I started easing into Les Mills Pump again. I decided it was best to stick with something simple. So I've been doing the first Pump workout which is sort of the intro workout, and the shortest one - around 25 minutes I think? Using the lightest weights I can stand to use; sort of the opposite of what one usually aims for, but trying to give the knees an easy start.

So that seems to be going okay, and now I'm getting ready to go away for a week...So basically let's interrupt things again, and hope I don't wind up getting sick upon my return.

Haven't really been tracking things well. Will try to start again because I know it is useful for me to do that.

My work stress increased by a great big huge amount last week, due to a major [and unexpected] re-org. I already had vacation time booked, but ended up adding some extra days on to the front.

Work is constantly stressful these days as it is. I don't think I've been getting enough introvert time lately [I'm going to start calling it that because I don't know how else to describe it - I periodically need a bunch of time with no plans, no demands on me, and preferably a bit of solo time and since I used up all my vacation time on traveling and visiting last year, I am way below quota on the down time].

So I've been off work since end of day Thursday. I think I've been sleeping better, and am feeling less physically tired; still working through the mental and emotional stuff and honestly not so sure how that is going. This whole working for a living thing can really suck the life out of you.

Late May 2018...

Ha ha ha! Still totally not working!

I forgot I had started this post, and thought about deleting and starting over; I'm writing this mainly for me though, and this is how things were/are, so I decided to leave it. It will be a long post, but it's my blog after all.

I had a wonderful vacation. Quality time with my sisters. Explored Butchart Gardens and enjoyed their Afternoon Tea, Wandered Victoria. Saw Rod Stewart in Vancouver. Checked out Stormcrow Tavern. More family time. Actually came down with a cold during my vacation, but didn't let it spoil my trip.

Ended two weeks vacation in a much better frame of mind, more rested and balanced that I had felt in a long time.

Work...Well, it's still never going to be my happy place. It pays the bills and lets me sock away a bit for retirement, I get good vacation time and other benefits. We'll leave it at that.

Which brings us to now...Not so exhausted. Yay spring and more daylight! Makes such a huge difference for me. I still have no time for anything though. My lovely little Isabelle wants to be outside all the time, but if she's outside, I have to be outside. Not that I don't enjoy the out doors time, I've been spending a lot of time in the garden (though somewhat slow going, as I am having to constantly check on where Isabelle is), but I'm not getting much of the indoor stuff accomplished. Oh well, who needs a tidy, uncluttered house anyway? And yes, I am the human, I do not have to give in to the cat (Ha!), but she gets all wild and fractious if she doesn't get outside to burn of some energy.

It looks like we are finally going to get moving on converting our fence (which was the deal we made when I agreed to go with a chain link fence back in 2014) . If all goes according to plan, we should be back to have a fence that will keep the cat in and the deer out. So I get my life back, and get to have a garden again. Dreams, people, maybe they can come true now and then.

Even assuming we do get the work on the fence completed, I expect I will still be spending a lot of time outside for a while, to make sure that it is cat proof. But reprieve is in sight.

So it will probably be autumn, at the earliest, before I get back to a semi-normal exercise routine. I have always been less likely to do formal workouts this time of year anyway, since I'd rather take advantage of the nice weather while it's here.

Try, and try again

[Part A]
I kept trying to write this post...Starting in March/April I think. I don't know how many times I started over; could just never manage to finish. Last time was in August, so I'm just going to hit publish with that date now and leave it. This has been a really hard year for me....And the 2016/2017 were rough as well, as I tried to deal with the loss of Frank & Zappa. Things have to get better from here?

I keep trying to write a post and not getting it finished. It just keeps getting too long, for one thing. So here I go again, trying to keep from going off into the weeds...

This winter/early spring were really hard on me. I was exhausted all the time, and super stressed by work stuff. Coming home from work and then having to take Isabelle outside; otherwise she would get fractious. I couldn't do much of anything, just have to follow Isabelle around the yard to make sure she didn't go over the fence; that time of year can be wet, cold and windy. And it left me with less (sometimes no) time for other things which just added to my frustrations.

I was taking vitamins - D3, B12, an anti-stress remedy - to try and feel better. I remember wondering to Husband at one point; what do I need to do to stop feeling so crappy? He responded: Isn't that called spring?

End of March it all came to a crisis when there was a re-org announced at work, that just amped up my stress levels even more. We already had vacation planned for the second week in April, and after my manager suggested that maybe I needed some extra time off, I added on extra vacation days so that I had a week off at home before our trip.

Looking back now, I can say I was pretty much burned out. The extra time off, time to myself, definitely helped, as did our trip out to the west coast to visit my sisters (and see Rod Stewart in concert). I'm still not happy with how things have changed at work, but I don't feel like I'm ready to go to pieces, which is how I was feeling before.

In May, I started picking away at doing things in the garden, so at least while I was on Isabelle duty I could keep myself busy (an then chase after her if she went over the fence while I wasn't looking).

The days got longer, and I started feeling better. Husband was so right about that. Some years are worse than others for that, and this was a bad one. But, aside from a cold June, we have been having a beautiful summer. Our fence is finally fixed up, which means Isabelle can have more outdoors time and I don't have to be out there following her around. And the extra bonus for me: I can actually have a garden again.

I've spent a fair amount of time outside this spring and summer, and energy-wise I've been feeling decent.

We don't have quite so many trips away planned for this year, so I've been able to have some extra long weekends at home, which helps a lot. I've still got  a lot of stuff around the house to catch up on, but I've been picking away at some. And formal workouts are still not happening. I'm not worrying about it too much, better to take advantage of the good weather while it lasts.

We do have another vacation coming up soon, which will be a trip home, and looking forward to it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Which Wednesday?

Not Wordless. Witty? Wonderful? Wild & whimsical?

Early-ish deploy window (i.e. earlier than I wanted to have to get myself into the office; particularly after staying up too late watching Olympic figure skating), so worked from home. Also was not ready to eat anything that early, so just had coffee.

Around 10 am was able to step away from computer for a break. Went down and started a fire in the wood stove; not really that cold out today, but I was feeling chilly. Still not terribly hungry, but should eat something, so finished off leftover Thai Hummus with some sprouted grain toast and another coffee.

Back to the computer for a couple of hours, then go up to take another short break. I find I really need to be conscious of getting up and moving around when I am working at home; for whatever reason, I am more likely be glued to my desk at home, hunched over the computer, and I end up feeling crappy by the end of the day. Better to get up and take some breaks.

Actually did my 20 min walk break on the treadmill (and added some more wood to the fire while down there), then came back up to grab some blackberries & cottage cheese...And didn't take a picture, but really, how exciting is that to look at anyway? Did enjoy eating though, especially the blackberries.

It was actually a nice day - it has been warming up again. Isabelle has it pretty good on my work from home days; she usually gets a few trips outside, instead of one after work on normal work days.

Snow is melting, melting, melting again...

Husband came home from work, I took Isabelle for one more walk about in the yard, and then we were out the door again to meet up with friends for dinner.

Beer & Whisky flight (Husband & I shared; I may have made a bit of a pouty face, but he did have to drive home).

Appetizer special, which I would have (we probably should have shared) but we each had our own. I had Fish Tacos and Macaroni Bites.

And...veggie burger with parmesan fries. I was really hungry when we ordered. I ate most of the burger, and a few fries. Husband helped out with the fries, his dinner was smaller than mine.

Good evening with friends, home to watch some more Olympics. Looking forward to quiet evenings at home for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Pancake Two-sday

Making it a quickie...Pancake Tuesday! My always-happy-for-excuse-to-eat-pancakes day!

A whole stack of these delivered to the kitchen at work to start off the day:

I am sure I have not had McDonald's Hotcakes since I was a child. There were sausage patties too, but not my thing.

Lunch, pretty much the same as yesterday:

I did have another clementine too, but somehow that didn't make it into a picture.

Then for dinner I made real homemade pancakes, with blueberries, blackberries and maple syrup. Eggs on the side (1 for me, 2 for Husband).

Husband also brought me home a present which I totally was not expecting!

I was supposed to have my piano lesson, but we were running late, I was rushing around trying to throw dinner together, totally stressed and feeling like I wouldn't even have time to eat, so I ended up cancelling.

Enjoyed my pancake dinner and stayed up too late watching olympic figure skating.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Sweets for your Sweetheart

Couple of busy weeks coming up, starting today. Here we go!

- Was sore yesterday, particularly right hip. Expected worse to day, but is better. Still feeling the right hip and my right knee a bit though.
- Was aiming to try and get out of the house a bit earlier this morning, since we want to leave work early today, but Husband was the one slowing things down for a change.
- Our driveway, and the drive down to the road are solid ice. The car actually slid sideways down the hill, but fortunately not all the way to the road. It's garbage day, but we didn't see ourselves walking down the icy hill; put garbage in trunk and got out of the car at the bottom to put the garbage out.
- Lots of new Pokemon to catch on they way to work this morning! Yes, we are easily amused.

Breakfast: Coffee, cottage cheese and a clementine from the kitchen at work.

 Lunch: Sweet Potato & Black Bean Mole, popcorn and the clementine that I never got around to eating with breakfast.

- Being a day I need to leave a bit early, I'm in the midst of trying to resolve a problem when I look at the time are realize it is 4:28.
- Rushed out of the office, forgetting to change into my outdoor boots. Fortunately sidewalks in town are mostly clear.
- Met up with Husband, and we were off for a quick dinner before the main event.

Let the festivities begin!

I honestly walked into the restaurant planning to order a salad. But then we discovered two of the things we loved from the last Chop Chop week were on the menu: Street fries and Thai Hummus. We shared these, and husband also ordered some kind of chicken bites and Thai Brussels Sprouts.

And then off to the "Sweets For Your Sweetheart" whisky and dessert pairing.

- There were two seatings, and we chose the early seating even though it meant leaving work a little early and having a quick dinner; old fogies that we are, we didn't want to be out late on a Monday night.
- When we get home, our driveway is still looking like a skating rink. Husband takes a run up the hill, I brace myself to crash into the house or something; we did a bit of sliding around, but we made it safely into the garage.
- Husband then called our snow plow guy to have some sand dumped on our driveway before it's time to leave for work in the morning.
- Isabelle was a bit desperate to get outside as usual, but it was dark by this time and I wasn't going to risk going out and falling on any icy patches in the dark, so she'll just have to survive until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Easy Does It Plan

Since getting the all clear on Tuesday morning from my doctor, I have been thinking about the how to get back into the exercise habit, build up my fitness again, and avoid doing any more damage to my knees...

Walking, at a slow pace, seems safe. I'll get bored if that's all I'm doing though.

Should I go back to my usual workouts, but reduce weights and intensity? I'm afraid I'll get impatient with that, and I'm not so sure those workouts are the best for recovery. Maybe I am overthinking, and worrying too much, but I would prefer to be cautious rather than wind up right back where I was last fall.

So, I turned to google for specific ideas and decided to give this a try:

8 Exercises to Help Your Knees from WebMD

Yesterday, did 6 of the 8 exercises here, alternating each one with an upper body or core exercise. It took me an hour to do, so not something that I am likely to squeeze in on a work night. Feeling it today, and probably will be feeling it even more tomorrow. 
Aside from this, what I have been trying to do is:
  1. Get in a a walking break of at least 20 minutes during my work day. The office building I work in is part of a complex of buildings connected by walkways, so I can easily walk indoors without worrying about the weather (or slipping and falling on ice, and possibly banging up my knees even more).
  2. Aim to get in an additional 20 minutes of activity after work. This could be walking, or other exercise.
The workouts might be longer than 20 minutes. Some days there might only be one. Some days I might do a block of 40 all at once. Basically just trying to get movement back into my life without overdoing it. 

I'm not sure how I'm going to track this. So far I have set it up on my side bar to just mark off the blocks of [at least] 20 minutes that I get in each day. I don't want to get into writing down specifics of treadmill walks; I used to always write down speed, distance, incline for my treadmill sessions but this tends to lead to me wanting to outdo my last session, which in turn can lead to me overdoing things, and I really want to keep things slow and easy for now.

I really do feel like I'm being ridiculous and making too big a deal of this...But then I remind myself of what it was like to not even feel confident about walking. I'm already nervous about walking down stairs, and always try to keep my hand on a railing because I don't trust myself. I have a real fear of falling now (something to do with having done that three times in three years).

So this is my loose plan. I will likely have to come up with some shorter strength routines; possibly I will just break up the Web MD one, but I did see some other exercises when I was looking around.

The rest of last week passed in a blur...I'm trying to remember what I did, but obviously nothing exciting! We had more snow on Wednesday, I remember that for sure. Yesterday morning it was snowing again, and it looked very pretty in the morning. Then by afternoon it turned to rain again.

I slept in a bit, then relaxed for the morning with my coffee and a book, plus a bit of time on the computer. Cottage cheese for breakfast because it's easy, I like it, and it gives me protein. Did my workout and then had lunch:

The Indian meal delivery for this week was Pad Thai (which is not so much Indian, but not complaining) . This is the second time for Pad Thai, and last time I found that one serving was enough to give me two meals. There is always a Dal dish offered, so this time we ordered one Pad Thai for me (with Paneer), two for Husband (one shrimp, one chicken) and one order of the Dal.

I split the Dal between us for lunch, and toasted some sprouted grain bread. I very much enjoyed it, Husband said he didn't like the Kale that was in it.

I followed that with a piece of Dark Chocolate Almond Bark that Husband brought home on Friday;

Then I tackled sorting through some old clothes to get rid of. I am such a pack rat, I have a hard time getting rid of anything. Over the years, as older clothes no longer fit, I have packed them away in the hopes that someday they will fit again...No such luck. It's gotten to the point where it is really too much. If I just chucked all of, it would probably be a lot less stress, but I don't know how to do that. So I am making an effort to go through things and at least make a start. Yesterday, I found that I pretty much had an immediate Yes or No reaction to most things, so I didn't allow myself to think about it too hard; anything that was a No immediately went in the toss pile. My aim is to spend a bit of time every weekend on this.

I thought about going downstairs to do some painting, but lately this has been a difficult thing because Isabelle comes down, getting into things and wanting attention. In the fall and early winter she didn't do that so much, I think because the basement seemed like Trixie's domain, but she's getting braver about that. So I ended up just puttering a bit upstairs - I cannot find Isabelle's harness, have not been able to for a week and I keep searching - and then playing a little ESO, and some more reading while I munched on some Pistachios.

Dinner was the rest of our Indian delivery; 1/2 serving of Pad Thai with Paneer for me, Pad Thai with Chicken for Husband.

And there was some more chocolate for dessert. The Husband brought me a rum & coke. Apparently it was a day for treats.

Today has been another damp, gloomy day. We were supposed to go out and do grocery shopping, but our drive way is all ice at the moment; we live on a hill, so we worry about being to get back up the drive way when it's all icy. Forecast is for freezing rain, so tomorrow might be interesting.

I need to get in some piano practice, and a short walk on the treadmill would be good. And the next thing I know, it will be Monday again...