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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Spring Cleaning


I know I have been complaining a lot here lately, dumping all my sadness, etc. I kind of feel bad about that! But I feel like it has to go somewhere...

Tuesday was one year since the day we lost Frank. And I still have October 31st coming up, the day we lost Zappa. Those were both very hard days/weeks for me, and while I am doing much better, there are still hard times. I don't feel like I really want to talk to people about it; in some cases because I feel like someone might not understand, in other cases because I don't want to overburden someone. But I do still feel the need to articulate my feelings now and then, and, oddly, I also want to remember it.  It's part of my life, and I know that memories can grow fuzzy and change over time...That is the main reason I keep blogging, I think; I like to be able to look back.

I am finally feeling better; all over that cough, the weather is improving - we've had a sunshine-y weekend which has been fabulous. I was looking at the calendar last night and I could not believe that it has only been two weeks since my over-booked Saturday on May 6th.

We went to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2 week before last, which was a blast. We hardly ever go to the movies these days; we went with friends and had a great time. I had a chat with my manager at work this week that made me feel better about some things; not that anything is likely to change, but at least I know that I am not alone. Planning summer vacation with the family, plus some weekend trips in the summer and fall. It's been busy, but it's been good stuff.

I haven't had much time for painting lately...which may be partly due to the fact that I can't quite settle on what to do next. But I finally filled in the blank space at the bottom of my cloud practice piece from a month ago.





Last Friday, May 12, a little ball of sunshine was delivered to my house by a friend. Meet Isobel.






Seven weeks old, she hit the ground running as soon as she arrived, and she has not stopped since. Interesting times around here, for sure. It was sudden, in that I was not actively looking, but I think she is what I needed. I am simultaneously happy and terrified...in other words, back to the cat-mom status quo.

At this point, I feel like I should share the fact that Isobel is not the only cat in the house at the moment. Not all that many people know this, but I took in a rescue that had nowhere else to go at the beginning of April. She actually arrived on April 1, and she was not at all happy to be here. It was not really mentioned until she was dropped off that she doesn't like people and she scratches. I can also tell you from experience that she bites.

This is Trixie:


It's been hard to get a good picture because she mostly hangs out in the basement. It has been a long road to get her to trust, but we're getting there. She's not too happy about the new addition, but I'm hoping she'll adjust. It took her about a month to warm up to me, so here's hoping...





Monday is Victoria Day, and I took Friday off work to give myself a 4 day weekend. It has been too long! Having some sunny days off with no obligations does a lot to improve my outlook on life.

I've been trying to get some spring cleaning done. We've been barbecuing and enjoying the sun. Playing with the kitten to tire her out (kittens are adorable, but I'm kind of looking forward to her growing into a lazy, sleepy cat).

 So that is life at the moment. It has been good to finally have a weekend where I have some energy, where I'm feeling rested and relaxed. The next set of problems will come along, no doubt, but for now I'm going to enjoy the rest of my long weekend.



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Deep Breath

Well. That did not go as planned. 

Looking back at my last post, I had been struggling with getting back into my workout habit, and not feeling well. I was getting over one cold, Husband came down with a second cold, and you guessed it...I got sick again.

Had to go to Nova Scotia (while sick) and accompany Husband to see the eye specialist  (while sick), did enjoy a nice visit with family  (while sick), then head back home on Saturday so I could go to my last painting class (you guessed it - while sick). And I was still sick for a week after that. It is only the past week where the cough and rattle in my chest is pretty much gone. 

Saturday was a super busy day since I managed to overbook myself - volunteering Saturday morning (in the rain, praying that I wouldn't end up getting sick again), and painting event from 3-5 pm, in between that I went home to pick up Husband because it was also free comic book day, so a visit to our local comic book store was necessary. And then we went out to dinner.

Sunday I mostly took it easy and puttered around the house, but when Monday morning rolled around it really felt like I hadn't had a weekend.

And I was hoping to ease back into some workout this week, but it has ended up that we've had something going on every evening after work. Really abnormal for us.

Deep breath. 

Here's hoping that next week things will be back to normal.

I got to bed right on time last night - a few minutes early even. I don't remember a thing after I turned out the light and put my head down on the pillow. But it was so hard to wake up this morning. Maybe because it has been grey and rainy for the past couple of days. 

When I was in the shower I remembered a dream. Details of the beginning part are fuzzy; I was with my family, I was trying hard to wake up but I felt like I couldn't. Some obscure family member came to visit, and they or someone said that now I had to wake up, but it was so hard to keep my eyes open. I was in a car driving, with my Dad in the passenger seat telling me to do all kinds of crazy things; yes, drive through those bushes! Drive up the stairs! I was trying to step on the break pedal but it wasn't there or it wasn't working, and it was so hard to keep my eyes open. 

And finally, I was at home in my bedroom, lying on the bed with the sun shining through the window, and Frank was sleeping on top of me. And in my dream I thought: Frank can't ...Something, I'm not sure what, but in my dream I knew something wasn't right, but my dreaming mind came out with: " but he can still sleep with me."

This morning, in my still somewhat groggy state I remembered that, and puzzled over it for a short while, then moved on. It came back to me later today, and I felt sad because Frank can't sleep with me. Coming up on a year now actually. But slowly getting a bit easier.

From my last painting class. We went outdoors to paint. It was chilly, a grey, overcast kind of day. But it was an interesting experience.


Saturday morning at the park for the annual Walk for Autism. We were having a down pour, but people still showed up to walk. Then I went home and changed into dry clothes so I could get on with my day.


Painting event - Paint Your Pet. You send a picture (or pictures), they do the sketch for you, and you paint it.  It felt unfinished, it was a rush to get done (it always is for me), but it still makes me happy to look at a painting of Frank.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Blue Skies and Clouds

Last Sunday in my painting class we were focused on clouds. At the start of class, we all went outside and looked up; we were observing the blue of the sky - which was actually quite bright that day - and the clouds.

Then we went in and worked on painting the shades of blue, and adding clouds. I was painting without actually being able to see the sky, which is probably not the easiest way to go about it, but sometimes I can get very focused on what I am doing and not stop to think about things like, say, getting up and going out for another look or two or more...




Still, I love the color blue and who doesn't like contemplating fluffy clouds in a blue sky? 

Next, we chose pictures from old National Geographic magazines and tried to paint those skies.



There was more in the picture I was working from - a castle, in fact, I think it may have been Bulgaria? But trying to get that sky took plenty of time. I added the ridge line in at the end, just to give it some sort of definition.

No class this week, because of Easter, but next week will be the last class. I can't believe how fast the weeks have gone by. Despite the fact that it has been so busy, I think I will miss it.

If I had the energy, I would continue by turning the idea of blue skies and clouds into an insightful blog post about ups and downs and silver linings...but I don't really.

The week following my previous post, I did manage to up my game from 0 or 1 to 2 workouts in one week! Then the next week I got 3! but I was kind of exhausted, because busy with all the usual things, plus husband got sick, so I was making him chicken soup and doing all of the chores....And of course the next week I got sick.

I had a cold, which I have gotten over, and I was looking forward to a 3 day weekend to get a bunch of stuff done, and try to jump back into workouts, but I have still not not feeling well. Headaches and a queasy stomach...I can't figure out if it's stress, or what. But it has made me feel like I don't want to do too much.

The weather has been beautiful though, finally. I did get out for some walks, and a couple of yoga sessions - basically things that might help with stress and/or relieve my headache.

I have also been staring at clouds with great fascination since that last painting class, and have spent some time this weekend painting.

From a photo of Peggy's Cove that I took in June of 2014:







There are details that I left out because a) I started it to work on the sky, and b) I was afraid I would mess it up!

It is far from perfect, but if you look at it from a distance, it is not too bad. I think this is a photo that I will work with as I attempt to improve my skills, and hopefully one day I will have a decent painting.

And still in progress, from an iPhone photo that I took in July 2012; pretty sure husband and I were in a restaurant overlooking the Saint John river. I'm mainly looking at the top part of the photo though, so it's all clouds at this point.:



But, it was a nice view:



 I've got a busy week coming up, and still not feeling great, so at this point I feel like I will just be concentrating on keeping my head above water. And hoping that I start to feel better soon.

Monday, March 27, 2017

One foot in front of the other...

I posted a while back about ups and downs,  highs and lows,  and lately I've been in one of the down phases. I suppose some of it can be ascribed to end of winter blues. I have also been stressed over work related things. I am tired. I am sad. I seem to have misplaced my motivation to do a lot of things. 

Which is not to say that it has been all misery all the time.  We've done some fun stuff. I've had some up moments for sure. It's just my overall mood lately, I guess; I'm tired and I just have to keep slogging through.

Just a little ball of sunshine right now,  aren't I?

I am here to say that I need to start feeling better,  and to do that I need to start taking better care of myself. Spring will make its presence felt eventually  (hopefully sooner rather than later), and wouldn't it be great if I could greet it with energy?

So I promised myself that if we got home at a reasonable time today, I would get in a workout. Can't say I really wanted to do it, may not have been on my best form...but I did it. 

I would like to get at least two more workouts in this week...Lately it's been more like one workout per week...Three is better.

We've been sticking to the slow cooker plan, trying to make sure we have plenty of meals in the freezer each week which helps a lot. Work lunches were going pretty well up until a couple of weeks ago when things got busy, so that has been a challenge. I have resorted to cans of Amy's Kitchen chili, that will probably have to do for the next couple of weeks, but will try to add some fruit and/or raw veggies to go along with it. 

What have we been up to....Well, there was Winter Chop Chop, which is restaurant week here in Saint John. We always enjoy checking out the menus and trying new things...This time around there were quite a few menus that interested us, so that pretty much wrote that week off. It was fun, but we were happy to get back to home cooked meals at the end of it.

Saint Patrick's week we did an Irish Whisky tasting on the Thursday night, which was interesting.


Then we went out to dinner on Friday, and the restaurant had a special on a flight of Bushmill's Irish  Whisky, so I basically did whisky tasting two nights in a row.



Fun, but have had enough whisky for a bit.

I am taking a Sunday afternoon painting course. I took some time to debate that with myself, because I know I don't handle it well if I have too much going on and this meant giving up six weeks of Sunday afternoons...Then I thought I wasn't going to get in because the class was full, but at the last minute the added a second class, so I've been doing that - 3 classes done so far. We're spending a lot of time learning to mix colors, which is maybe not the most exciting thing, but something I wanted/needed to learn. 

Our first class, after painting a color wheel, we painted oranges.



Oh, and there have been a couple of Van Vino painting nights in there too. There was another one I would have liked to get to but I had something else going on that night. 

 
Oh, and I mentioned in my last post that I was thinking of doing a painting from a photo I took last summer, which I did do. Lately I haven't found much time to work on any thing else. 

 

This past Saturday we went to a fundraiser lunch for a charity that is friend is involved in, then got groceries on the way home. Then Sunday morning I had to work, and then rush off to my painting class....It was really hard to wake up this morning and realize it was Monday. I've got more busy weekends coming up in the next month...I'm tired just thinking about it.

I know for many people this would not be a lot, but for me it is. I need a certain amount of time where I don't have to be anywhere or do anything, otherwise I get overwhelmed and exhausted.  

We've had a weird winter. Very little snow, a few cold snaps, but mostly mild. One week - in early February maybe? - where we had two snow storms and had a big pile of snow dumped on us. That's still melting. Back the the alternating cold and warm...And this week snow. 

I've had lots of pictures popping up on my Facebook feed the past few weeks from two winters ago - the snowpocalypse winter, where we completely buried. That was a long hard winter, but it made for lots of good photos. This year there hasn't been much to take pictures of, especially without these guys.





I am still sad. I've had people ask when I will get another cat, but I'm just not there yet. I do it to myself too, actually; Maybe now? Am I ready now? And then realize all over again that I'm not. And every time it is hard, and it is a relief.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mid-January Check In


There was a post over on Cranky Fitness to kick off the new year. I don't really do New Year's Resolutions, but when you are facing the end of a relaxing vacation, the start of a new year at work, it's hard not to think in terms of planning ahead. Mainly, I want to make things easy on myself and try to keep my sanity! So I stated my goal as:

Keep doing what I know I can do, but do it better, and be kind to myself.

So two weeks in, how's that looking?

Do some workouts!
I had already started round 2 of Chalean Extreme in Nov/Dec, so I am carrying on. I am into phase two - the Push phase - which is heavier weights, less reps. I still like these workouts. I confess I do adjust the schedule when it comes to the cardio workouts, but I stick to the strength training ones.

I have dumbbells up to 20 lb, and honestly I could probably stand to have some heavier ones, particularly for lower body, but...I find it hard on my hands, holding on to the 15, and especially the 20lb weights if I'm using them a lot. I noticed the same thing when I was doing Pump. I might feel like my muscles can take more weight, but my hands (and with Pump I noticed wrists and forearms) can't take as much. I don't know if I will eventually build up to that if I keep at it? I have small hands, that probably doesn't help?

Healthy eating!
We have been giving our slow cooker a workout. I just get so tired of washing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. Using the slow cooker once or twice a week, freezing things, having lots of leftovers just makes things so much easier.

I resurrected an old Looney Spoons favourite - Rockin Moroccan Stew - and threw that in the slow cooker as well, to freeze for lunches. Haven't done frozen lunches in a long time; we don't tend to have a lot of room in our freezer, but we're managing it.


Rockin' Moroccan Stew going in the slow cooker.

Exercise your creativity!
Still doing some painting. Over the holidays I did a lot of it, and I feel like it is good for my mental state. I don't know how to explain it exactly - I was chatting with my sister and I said it felt almost therapeutic. I think it takes so much focus and concentration, it gives my brain a break. And I enjoy it - I've always had the urge to do creative things, but it was difficult to make that leap and get started again.

 Time is a factor too of course, I really only have the weekends for painting, though I have been finding time some evenings to practice sketching as well. My middle sister and I used to draw and read all the time when we were in our teens. Drove our mother crazy; she was always wanting us to get up, go out, do other things...Funny how when you are a kid, that stuff can be seen as lazy or a waste of time; when you get older it can be seen a cool thing. Or maybe that's just my experience?


The jug was an online lesson in painting with a limited palette, I then took that lesson and did the chickadee painting.


 In Progress - I am looking at a hummingbird photo that I took last summer and thinking of turning it into a painting, but I am afeard! So I found an example of a hummingbird painting to try out first. No idea why, but working from someone else's painting is less scary than working from my own photograph. I will get there.


Miscellany of daily life
I am continuing with my piano lessons.  My camera gets less use these days - no cats to take photos of. There hasn't even really been much snow...The weather turns cold and it snows....Then it turns warm and rains...Then it turns cold again. The good news is that the last warm spell got rid of a good amount of ice - we can now walk down our driveway without danger of landing on our bums (or breaking bones).


Finches in the snow....


Snow all gone!


Winter is my least favourite time of year, but I am doing my best to get things done that need to be done, and finding enjoyable ways to occupy myself. January is half over, the days are starting - oh so slowly - to get longer. It so far has not been a hard winter here.

I miss my cats, but I'm doing okay.