Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Big Changes Ahead

This is how part of me is feeling right now.  All the color drained out of my world.  You see it seems my 'numbers' have been creeping up. And not in a good way, as in my bank account.  I'm talking about my health numbers. I am hovering on the borderline of my blood pressure being high and I've always been the 90/60 girl.  And my blood sugar has been slowly climbing and I've always wrestled with low blood sugar, even when pregnant in my 30's.  My weight, while it hasn't been climbing, hasn't been decreasing either.

So I've been bumming a bit.  My head knows what needs to be done, but my body is screaming "are you kidding!"

But there is a little bit of color with this 'challenge' in my world.

  • The girls are behind me.  In fact, Savvy has been really embracing the natural foods and quality over quantity for awhile now.  Texter will pretty much eat anything as long as she isn't the one cooking.  So I have a support system at home.  And this will get Kayden 'trained' a bit better on her eating habits at an early age.
  • My job is offering incentives this year for dropping the numbers, which would mean dollars in my pocket at the end of the year.
  • My health, both mental and physical, would be better.

You see, I had a couple of really good friends back in North Carolina who had a ton of health issues.  Their lists of doctors and daily medications took up pages.  Their lives were ruled by taking meds several times a day.  I don't want that.  In fact, I don't want meds at all!

My appointment with the doctor to go over my latest numbers is Thursday.  I will come out (hopefully) with a definite plan of action to (1) lower the numbers and (2) do so without resorting to medications.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not anti-medications.  I firmly believe in them.  However, I am not the world's best on taking anything on a daily basis.  Secondly, I don't want to jump on that band wagon until absolutely necessary.  I think if adjusting my habits keeps me off of them, then adjust habits.  I would really love to be like my grandmother and be in my 90's with only a baby aspirin daily (and that was her own idea).

Now don't get me wrong.  This person/body loves her 'treats' way too much to completely cut things out.  I am talking about different cooking methods (damn Southern Fried Chicken, rice and gravy) and quality over quantity.

So while I won't inhale a dozen macaroons at any given time, that's not to say after a hike I won't have one.  It means looking at less refined foods and more whole foods. It means 'mindful' eating, rather than just inhaling what is in front of me.  I don't have to bolt food down in less than 30 minutes any more. I can make eating a joy and not something to just do and next done with. Since it will also mean planning meals and shopping accordingly, hopefully, the food waste will go down (along with the dogs' weights) and perhaps saving some money since there will be less 'junk' food. Note, I said less, not none. If I tell myself 'not any' then I would hit the kitchen and inhale a 5 pound sack of sugar like a coke addict. I need to learn to pick and choose and be selective.

And more physical activity.  Like walking the dogs (who are over weight themselves).  Noel has a harness on order which warns 'no dogs/petting'.  She is a bit old and cranky now and doesn't always react well.  And hiking.  I'm leading my own hike in a couple of weeks, which is exciting. And yoga.  I'm so not bendy! 

Like I said, my head knows what I need to do.  I just need the rest of the body to fall in line with it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Mandala Monday - Yellowstone

The colors of the water as it rushes and tumbles over rocks in the rivers of Yellowstone.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Week In Review

It's been an interesting week.  Several things, large and small, going on.  

The first was the Anti-Bullying Law passed by the Montana government and signed into law by the governor.  I had a semi-ringside seat as a friend, whose son has been bullied and no remedy from the school, was actively involved with her son.  It was gratifying to see it pass and for him to be right there the whole way.

On the home front, the most exciting news was this....

Savvy has a tattoo now.  This one was a bit of a family endeavor.  She had the idea of what she wanted.  Texter, who draws great tattoo art, is very into all things tattoo and knows tons on the subject.  She drew a preliminary sketch and advised Savvy on a couple of items.  Then the artist refined it a bit.  I was taxi service and lotion spreader.

On a less dramatic front, Texter had a yard sale with her Nagucon group (scifi/fantasy convention group based in Helena).  Got rid of a ton of books, primarily.  However, in picking her up, there was a small, drop-leaf dining table and 2 chairs - $20.  As I had spent the morning cleaning up the living area, I knew just where it would go.  And it did!  So now we have a table where we can actually sit down and eat.  Perhaps more importantly, it is a place Lady K can sit and color while I'm cooking.  And in the fall, where Texter can spread out and study some.  And it really doesn't reduce the walking area through the apartment.  Now for a vase of flowers to go on it.

In other areas, I accomplished the following...

  • mailed a handful of postcards to postcrossing people and a couple of friends
  • wrote and created an envelope and mailed a huge, long letter to a friend and ex-co-worker
  • read 10 books (actually, finished leafing through 5 which were either cookbooks or manuals and finished up 5 actual books)
  • had blood drawn for my physical this coming week
  • walked 41,733 steps or 19.10 miles
  • set out my vitamins for the week, but only managed to take them 2 days!
Meal planning, walking, vitamins and the like are getting ready to take a bit turn for the better.  Not only to I have some health goals in mind for myself, my employer is offering some financial incentive to do certain things this year.  The goal of $300 is enticing for meeting them.  Of course, once I tell Savvy and Texter there is a monetary gain to be had, they will be on my case too!

Today, my room gets a bit of straightening and cleaning.  Some writing and planning and hopefully, a bit of knitting too.

Friday, April 24, 2015

More Yellowstone

I am continuing my love of Yellowstone by watching Ken Burn's The National Parks-America's Best Idea.  It's hard to wrap my head around the whole idea of national parks and the creation of most of the parks, is barely 100 years old.  And some of our parks owe a great deal of thanks to some rich people who gave a lot of time and money to this idea.

But here are a few more pictures from my brief journey through part of Yellowstone.

On the hillside to the Boiling River.

The water is a brilliant, bright blue.  And boiling!  As in majorly boiling and bubbling.

The colors of the minerals from the waters.

And creeks, streams and rivers everywhere.  Tumbling over rocks and boulders.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week in Review/Mandala Monday - Yellowstone!!!

Normally I do my week in review on Sunday mornings, enjoying the quiet with a cup of coffee.  I use that time to reflect and plan the coming week.  Possibly crank out a few other posts.  Maybe a mandala or other photoshop play image.

However, this past Sunday, I was on the road at 7 a.m., dropping off Savvy at work, with Texter and Lady K in tow for a trip to Yellowstone and the Boiling River.  This was a hike I missed in February of 2014 due to the flu and was a bit upset about.  However, I am glad I waited and had 2 of the 3 girls with me.  It was also one of the handful of days when the park waives the $25 per car entry fee.

I have to say right off the bat, Texter was the main photographer on this trip as I was busy driving.  And avoiding 4 legged road blocks, as you will see later.  With about 400 pictures on my computer, I think we documented what we saw pretty well.

The sign over the North Entrance arch.  As the road is pretty narrow there, you can tell they weren't expecting the RV's and cars of today when it was built.

Right before the turnoff into the Boiling River is this sign.  Halfway between Santa and a sunburn and pina colada. 

The other side of the road from the sign.

The scenery we were 'forced' to endure.

Texter and Lady K took turns pulling 'waggy' down the trail.  It's a short hike on a wide path, so bringing the wagon was great for all the towels and clothes we needed to lug in.  There is no 'changing' room at the Boiling River.  We had our swim stuff on under our sweats when we went in and then changed Lady K at the site.  We walked back in our clothes (with a bit of cover up) and changed in the toilet there at the parking area.  This is NOT spa-like, so if that's what is wanted, don't bother here.  But if you want an 'experience' to enjoy and remember, this is it.

You could see the plumes of steam from way down the path.  You basically walked pass where we were sitting and make a u-turn to get into the water.

You definitely need water shoes to navigate the rocks (which are smooth).  You also have to find that 'spot' between the hot water on the right side of the picture and the freezing water on the left side.

Don-the-hiker-man and Texter were scoping out the other bathers.

The rock formations where the hot water from the Boiling River meets the cold waters of the Gibbon River are interesting.

Texter is waiting for Kayden and I to make our way into the river.  The current was really strong and, of course, the rocks were, well, rocky.  But other bathers were so helpful and gracious assisting Texter and Lady K into a spot where they would be comfortable.

(Editorial Note:  I have found hikers some of the nicest, most giving, people around.  Every time we go somewhere, they are more than willing to help out.  Without even being asked or expected.  If you want a pastime where you meet the best people, take up hiking.)

And yes, it is!  I love a hot bath, but in spots this was way beyond what I would bath in.

One of the hikers in our group took this picture.  Lady K takes a few minutes to scope out a situation and then is right in there with everyone.  The problem is finding a spot not too cold or too hot.  Unfortunately, this part of a Yellowstone trip will not be repeated until she is much older and can make her own way through the swift current.  The life jacket we bought a couple of weeks ago, we forgot and left at home.  Swimming lessons are definitely in her future.

On the way back up the trail, we passed an elk carcass.  It seems it had been by the river, but dragged up to the path by rangers.  They were getting ready to move it completely away from the trail and the Boiling River site as a bear had been sighted eating on it.  A dining bear and dozens of people in a close area is not a formula for success.  

We did take a picture of the carcass (ok, we are weird) and Lady K was not in the least put off by the sight or the smell.  She was really to poke it.  I think she got that from her Aunt Savvy.

We changed and had lunch in the parking lot.  Since we were here, it was only about 1 p.m., Texter and I decided we really, really needed to try and see Old Faithful.  Don-the-hiker-man and the other hiker decided to make a shorter trip, as they both needed to be back at a reasonable time since they had work Monday.

We both drove on down to Mammoth and stopped at the visitor center.  I really need to come back when more things are open and look around.

There are warnings about approaching the wildlife.  But they seemed pretty friendly.  They even used the cross walks!

And were waiting for their mail to arrive.

Then we drove further into the park.  Old Faithful was only 50 miles away.

Looking back down at Mammoth.

First off, let me say "Yellowstone - WOW".  I can understand why it is on just about every list of places to see before you die.  The wildlife is everywhere.  We were fortunate enough to see not only deer, but elk and buffalo.  We were hoping for a bear and/or a moose, but that didn't happen - this time.

The hundreds of hot spots, sending up plumes of steam.  Dozens of streams and rivers.  Walking trails built so you can enjoy safely and still get up close.  The limited amount of actual roadways in the park so as to protect the land and animals.  Stunning views everywhere you look.  I am just disappointed Lady K won't remember this later on since she is only two.  But she will be back again and again if I have my way!

This seems like the perfect picture for Yellowstone.  The steam from the hot water in the background, with bison, or 'bi-sees' as Lady K calls the 'cows', grazing nearby.

Around every corner there are hot spots.  Makes me a little leery of venturing off hiking across country.  I don't want to become a boil-in-bag.

Areas were there are several hot spots look surreal, something out of a scifi movie.  And a part of me wants to go over and get a rock.

If nothing else, the smell sometimes will deter you from getting too close.  Telephoto lens are your best friend at times.

Another waterfall.  There is just too much to see.  I think you could stay in Yellowstone for decades and not see everything.  But there are plenty of turn outs so you can stop (most of the time).  And to let those who are less into scenery than you are, go by.

We stopped at Gibbon Falls and walked out to view the falls.

They have done an excellent job throughout the park giving you access to lovely vistas without harm to you or the environment.

Someone, with her 'eyes' doesn't want to get back into the car.

A Yellowstone road block.  They could have cared less about the cars.  Personally, I think they get together and plan this out, just to see how ticked off some people can get about being held up.

Lady K was uninterested in parts of the trip, unless the 'bi-sees' were right by the car.

We made it to Old Faithful.  In a way it was a bit of a disappointment as there is a whole 'village' on one side of the geysers.  However, this is a really nice visitor's center and a boardwalk around Old Faithful and down through some of the other geysers in the area.

And it is just 'right there'.  Something I had only seen on TV for decades and it is right there.

Texter and Lady K waiting for Old Faithful to erupt.  It was a bit chilly, so we had our blankets to stay warm.  I was a bit surprised by how much Texter enjoyed the trip and she can't wait to come back with Savvy for another look around.

Lady K was doing what everyone else did, take pictures with 'her' phone.  She was walking around the boardwalk, phone up, and taking in the scene.  Between running down the path like a crazy person.  

Then we heard gurgling and hissing and Old Faithful did his thing.

Texter and Kayden celebrated being at Yellowstone and seeing Old Faithful.

One tired hiker/explorer.  We did have one car sick episode on our way out of the park.  Thank goodness no bison or bears to stop us from pulling over and cleaning her up.

We pulled back into the driveway at 10 p.m.  It was a long, long day, but one I can't wait to do again.  I want to take Savvy.  In my head I have planned an earlier departure, more food/snacks and no stop for dip in the Boiling River.

So off to clean out the car (and take a nap) and plan my next trip to Yellowstone. Even paying the $25 a car, it is a bargain and worth much, much more.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Joys of a Writing Group

At the end of the year I finally decided to 'come out of my isolation' and create a writing group.  While it is not standing room only for the privilege of writing with me, there is a pretty solid core group of participants.  And they lend a wide variety of styles and information. "Writing Buddies!" People who understand the pitfalls and perils of the written word.

Another good thing about the writing group is we are all pretty much on the scifi/fantasy roller coaster.  Which leads to some good discussions.  Like comparing the TV show "Babylon 5" to Tolkien. Which means I am awaiting the loan of the complete series to watch.  

image courtesy of i09.com
I have gone through 'Star Trek', for the most part.  Texter just finished up 'Supernatural' and is currently on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' (Spike is mine!).  

I have more than just a passing interest in sitting down and watching the series.  It means I can knit!  And boy, do I have knitting to do. I need to finish up my Dr. Who scarf.  I have the yarn for a pair of socks (yep, again socks - let's see if I finish it up).  I need to crank out a piece for a friend. 

I figure knitting is fairly safe from Lady K's assistance.  Much more than if I set up a table for sewing.  That will be my next adventure.