For breakfast I had Greek yogurt and a boiled egg. We’ve been out of bananas for a while. I remembered that I had gotten some frozen blueberries, so I put some of those in the yogurt, and it was really good.
I ate my Hillshire Farms Bistro Board early, at around 10am. I didn’t really have time for a lunch break due to a bunch of meetings, so I sort of turned in my chair and got on my photo-editing computer and goofed off for about half an hour when I had a free moment. I wrapped up everything I could since I was taking the next day off, and I logged off at 5.
Knowing that I was done working for the week was a relief. I felt very free. Sean was sleeping in the bedroom, so I took the opportunity to bake cookies. (Normally I try not to make a bunch of noise in the main living area if he’s asleep on the couch.) I made a regular batch of Nestle Tollhouse, using the dining table as my staging area. While I did clean up the table afterwards, I did not really clean up the kitchen, so Sean took care of that for me later.
After baking the cookies, I started on dinner, which was pork roast, scalloped potatoes from a box, and mixed veggies. I was able to cook the roast and the potatoes at the same time, and it worked out perfectly. We ate and watched NCIS until bedtime. It was a pretty decent day.
They keep sending me emails about how they’re still open, and what all is blooming now, and how they are in compliance with Gov. Kemp’s shelter-in-place order. Right now there is a lot in bloom, and I really want to go.
“Easy to maintain 6ft. of social distance” is an irresponsible thing to say. The virus is airborne. If you walk through a spot where someone just walked, even if there is six feet between you, you’re still breathing in air that they just exhaled. In a garden, all you are doing is walking along trails where a bunch of people have walked ahead of you.
The virus can also live on surfaces for hours all the way up to days, depending on the surface material. “Restrooms available” does not tell me what precautions you are taking. I highly doubt that you are only letting one person in at a time and that you are scouring your facilities after each person.
These constant emails telling me that everything is fine and that I should come see the pretty flowers are basically torture, because ever since this began I have wanted to go there SO BADLY. It is KILLING ME that I am missing all the spring blooms. Apparently right now the cherry trees, azaleas, pansies, Spanish bluebells, and snowball viburnum are at peak, and I AM MISSING IT.
I decided I didn’t want to eat yogurt for breakfast, so I made myself eggs and toast instead. The pan was a little too hot, but I didn’t overcook the yolks, so yay. Lunch was a sandwich and chips, and I had apple slices and chocolate chips for a mid-afternoon snack. For dinner I had thawed some ground beef, but instead of making meatloaves I decided to make a casserole. I found a recipe on AllRecipes for a casserole using minute rice, cream of chicken soup, chicken noodle soup, and an onion, so I made that, and it was delicious! We had mixed veggies on the side.
I didn’t go on a walk or anything, and work was too busy for me to even take a real lunch break, but I did have a movie date with Lee after dinner! She streamed TRON: Legacy for us, which I hadn’t seen before, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack since the movie came out (I love Daft Punk) and I was glad to actually see the movie that incredible music was written for. The story was good and the characters were fun and I loved Quorra! I also didn’t know Bruce Boxleitner was in the film, so that was a pleasant surprise. (I love him.)
After the movie was over it was bedtime. I went to bed feeling very cheerful. I need to do more group watches of TV and movies I think!
It wasn’t a great day. I didn’t go on a walk…I’ve been avoiding it ever since my walk at the river where there were five billion people around me. I also only took two pictures, and they were both of my dinner.
At lunch, I wrote:
I just want this to be over.
This morning I let myself sleep in for 20 minutes. When my timer went off I didn’t get up and I didn’t reset it. Fortunately I was awake enough to finally force myself to get out of bed. It helped that I had to pee.
Today has been the worst in terms of focusing on stuff. I feel like my brain doesn’t work. I’m taking Friday off, but I don’t know how much that will help.
Hillshire Snacking Bistro Board
Around mid-afternoon I started to spiral into depression, but I was able to talk myself back out.
Okay so I missed some daily updates there. Let’s catch up.
Saturday, April 4, 2020 (Day 22)
This was a pretty good day. I slept in a bit, then banished Sean from the living room so I could have the TV. I sat at the dining table with a breakfast of a banana and some cottage cheese (in one of my newest cherry blossom pattern rice bowls) and poked around on my writing laptop for a bit, but I felt like was just goofing off. After whining about feeling directionless and unproductive on Twitter a little, I moved to the couch, made the last of the popcorn, and put on Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Wow, that was a good choice. Absolutely gorgeous film. I cried a lot.
After that, I heated up leftovers for lunch (mini meatloaves, Julienne potatoes, mixed veggies) and worked on some writing. I made some progress on several small stories and officially posted two of them. It felt great to actually accomplish something.
When dinnertime rolled around I asked Sean if he wanted to get Shane’s, but he was uninterested. He suggested Thai and I was uninterested. We compromised on Mexican, and we placed an order online and went and picked it up. All safety protocols were followed: we put everything in different containers when we got home and washed our hands and the countertops.
I had beef fajitas. They were delicious. And I have leftovers.
Sunday, April 5, 2020 (Day 23)
I let myself sleep in a lot. I actually woke up for the first time around 5 in the morning, but I just went and gave Sean a hug and then went back to bed. When I got up again a little before 11, I went out for a walk.
I was thinking I wouldn’t go down to the river trail, because it was sure to be crowded, but then the apartment complex turned out to be crowded too, so I said what the hell and hiked down to the river. I saw a ton of pretty flowers, and the river was rushing in a way that felt vibrant and free, and the air temperature was great. Unfortunately, there were about fifty billion people down there. It wasn’t too hard to avoid them to begin with, but once I got near the parking lot at the other end, it was almost like a festival. I ducked off onto a side path for a bit, then gave up and just turned around. I did not come within six feet of anyone, but I did worry about walking behind people who might be breathing out particulate that I was then walking through. I was wearing my balaclava, which I disinfected rigorously when I got home, but I think I will just stop going to the damn river, for real this time.
When I got home I hopped in the shower and scoured myself. Then I spent some time with Sean (there’s that code again, tee hee). He wasn’t feeling real well due to allergies, so he decided to take a long hot shower of his own and try to clear his sinuses. I ordered Shane’s for lunch for myself, since Sean would usually still be asleep at that time, and got curbside pickup. When the server brought it out I rolled down my passenger window so they could set it in the seat without having to get too close. It worked out pretty well. Of course, I shifted it all to a plate when I got home, disinfected the gallon of tea, etc.
I sat at the coffee table/kotatsu and ate my Shane’s and worked on some more writing. Sean stayed up, using the blow dryer to try and dry out his sinuses, and eventually he came and lay down behind me on the couch. After awhile I couldn’t concentrate on writing anymore, so I closed all that down. I was extremely grumpy by this point, so we ordered Jimmy John’s for dinner and had it delivered. (The delivery person sent me a picture by text message of the order sitting by our door and said “Hope that felt like amazon” which cheered me up some, haha.) The food made me feel better, fortunately. Sean was very snuggly around bedtime and I didn’t want to get up from where he was lying in my lap, so I put off going to bed by about 45 minutes, whoops. Fortunately I still slept pretty well.
Monday, April 6, 2020 (Day 24)
I slept in a bit but got started at 8 as usual. Had an egg and cottage cheese for breakfast while working. On my lunch break I ate a turkey sandwich and some cheesy popcorn and got on my writing laptop and worked on stories. I finished out my workday eating apple slices, cheese, and a Slim Jim. (And the rest of my Jimmy John’s sandwich from last night.)
After work I got on my writing computer in bed and worked on stories some more. Around 6:30 I finally started cooking dinner. I had thawed some chicken so I cut it up and stir-fried it with two bags of stir-fry starter. It turned out to be just enough food. Sean and I ate and watched NCIS and had ice cream. Around 9:30 I tried getting back in bed with my laptop to write some more, but I was tired and irritable, so nothing productive happened.
That’s it for those three days. It’s getting harder and harder to…I don’t know, live? I feel trapped and helpless and worried, and also angry, and I can’t focus on things. I’m just…tired.
Yet again I did not want to get out of bed this morning, but somehow I managed it. Since I took a shower last night after my walk I didn’t take another one…my hair is a little ridiculous but eh.
Work went pretty well. I had lots of video conferences as usual; my team has a daily standup meeting, plus I am doing a lot of training. But they were all fine. During one meeting I shared the work I’ve been doing to compile/add to some research for the new tool we’re building, and everyone seemed to be pretty impressed with it, so yay.
Yet again I didn’t really have time for a break, so I stayed sitting at my desks and just turned to the other computer (my personal one) to goof off a bit between my 11-noon and 1-2pm meetings. I actually started eating my lunch at 11, so my coworkers got to see me take a bite of turkey sandwich ^^;;
After work we had a “virtual happy hour,” which was just the larger team chatting casually. There are two managers and one senior manager on my new team, and then people under each manager. Day to day we work with our own manager/team, but we also work together on broader projects. It was nice to just kind of hang out. I already knew everyone in the other branch just from sitting near them; I really haven’t had a hard time fitting in with my team. I think maybe sometimes I am a bit too serious about how pleased I am with our company’s response to coronavirus, but honestly, it is super impressive that we are prioritizing people over profit, unlike certain other companies.
Anyway, it was a fun half-hour chat and I got to see some of my coworkers’ cute kids.
After that was over, I decided to clean up the patio and lounge around outside while cooking dinner. This was some impressive multitasking, but I managed it. First I cleaned the kitchen, then I started the roast, then I peeled and started the potatoes, and then I cleaned the patio (sweeping billowing clouds of pollen off the furniture and concrete slab and washing the tabletops with Formula 409), and then I settled in with my laptop, running back in here and there to turn things down. Once dinner was actually ready, I just stayed out there until Sean was out of the shower, enjoying the perfect temperature and the beautiful green trees around me. (And the sound of my neighbor and her kids through the open deck door right above me ;D)
Breakfast today was a banana, cottage cheese, and a boiled egg. Lunch was a turkey sandwich and Cheetos. Afternoon snack was apple slices, a cheddar cheese stick, and a small Slim Jim. Dinner was a teriyaki pork roast, mashed potatoes, and peas. Yum!
I did not want to get up this morning. When my alarm went off at 6:30, I set a timer for 20 minutes and went back to sleep, and when that went off, I did it again. I only ended up dragging myself out of bed because I really had to pee.
Work was good. I ate
Greek yogurt, and
a boiled egg
as I worked and attended meetings, finishing that breakfast around 11. I meant to take my lunch break from 11:30 to 12:30, but I got super involved editing an Excel spreadsheet (sometimes I just really enjoy doing that sort of thing) and ended up working on it until after noon. Since I had a meeting at 1 and another one at 2, I didn’t take a break until 3, when I finally stepped away from the computer to relax in bed with my writing laptop.
I’ve been doing that all week, and it’s very cozy to be all snuggled up in bed with my new giant pillow. It’s especially nice today, as the temperature dropped precipitously overnight. It was 40° out when I got up this morning. It eventually got up to 68°, but the apartment was chilly the whole day.
I didn’t end up writing anything, but I did a tiny bit of editing on the story I’ve been working on, so that was good.
After work I took an hour-long walk. This time, I wore a balaclava.
I bought the balaclava way back in November of 2018. I was thinking it would be good to have for walking/jogging in the cold. However, I threw it in my pile of workout clothes and never actually used it.
It’s obviously meant to help you keep warm, so it was perhaps a poor choice for 70° weather, but it made me feel better to wear it while being outside. There were lots of neighbors out, and only three of them (a family) were wearing masks. For the most part, everyone did decent social distancing, though one woman and her dog walked kind of close to me twice. (I turned my face away.)
I didn’t get super uncomfortable in the balaclava. I was able to drink water by pulling the bottom hem out and sticking the straw of my Camelbak inside. At one point either a bug or some sort of plant detritus flew inside the mask and kept tickling my nose. And it did get warm; my ears actually got sweaty. But it wasn’t terrible, and I felt a lot less anxious about being outside. I know the balaclava wouldn’t protect me from someone coughing or sneezing in front of me, but maybe it would help with particles still left in the air from someone who coughed earlier. And at the very least, it made most people want to keep their distance.
There were lots of blooms to take pictures of today: azaleas, dogwood trees, redbud trees, and trees with pink flowers that I’m having trouble identifying.
Someday I’ll get back to uploading to my photo site, but for now the blog will do.
When I got back from my walk, I took a quick shower and then started on dinner. I forgot to take meat out to thaw yesterday, so I cooked frozen fish fillets and made Alfredo noodles and mixed veggies to go with. Tomorrow we’ll have one of the Kroger teriyaki pork roasts we love.
The walk cleared my head and made me feel really good. I’m so glad we live in such a beautiful area, and that I’m able to walk through the neighborhood while safely practicing social distancing. If I couldn’t be outside at all, getting through this pandemic would be a lot harder.
I’m starting this update a little earlier today, so hopefully it won’t take a lot of my time to finish this evening.
So far today I have eaten:
a boiled egg
a bowl of maple and brown sugar oatmeal
a turkey sandwich (on wheat bread, yay!)
The first three items were the breakfast Sean packed, and then I was still hungry and the apartment was cold so I made the oatmeal. Now I’m on my break, sitting in bed like I did yesterday, and I just finished eating the lunch Sean made.
Had another brain-melting morning of meetings, so I’m just kind of relaxing and recovering from that before jumping back in. I wanted to do some writing during this time, but eh. Maybe after work, or maybe tomorrow.
I have several works-in-progress that I need to get back to, including one with an actual deadline, but I’ve really been enjoying the story I started recently. I hope I can wrap it up pretty quickly and actually post it; it’s been awhile since I posted something.
The rest of the workday went well. We had a big meeting to discuss the whole coronavirus situation and what the company is doing, and I got a little teary-eyed. I love where I work, y’all.
It’s just below 60° out. The apartment is chilly. I’m gonna take a walk. I’ll try for an hour since I skipped the walk yesterday. (Unofficially I’ve been thinking it would be best to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, so that’s where that came from.) I hope something new is blooming!
I was out for an hour, but I stopped a lot so it wasn’t like I was walking the whole time. I went down to the river, then out under the bridge to the community walking path, then back up the street and back into the other side of the apartment complex, and finally home. I saw pretty flowering trees and bushes, and I also saw some foxgloves in bloom, which I think I hadn’t seen before. They were right in front of a self-storage sign, but in a tasteful way ;D
Tonight’s dinner will be mini meatloaves, Julienne potatoes from a box, and peas. I made the potatoes first because they had to cook at 450° for 20 minutes, then put the meatloaves in at 350° for 45 minutes. Halfway through that I started the peas. I like timing the meal to all be done at the same time, but given the different oven temperatures and times, this was the best solution I could think of.
While cooking I did a little housekeeping on my social media accounts, and now I’m about ready to settle in and eat. I’m gonna sign off here and enjoy the rest of my evening.
I was already pretty much awake when my alarm went off, but that didn’t mean I wanted to get up, lol. I did anyway, since I needed to take a shower today. Shaved in the shower which took up most of my time; I went to boot up my work computer before I was done getting ready so all my programs would be loaded for my 8 am start.
Today was filled with meetings. Some of them were just for my edification and not anything I needed to contribute to. One was for me to explain a marketing process that I am intimately familiar with due to my previous role. All of them were fun; I really like my new team and I feel like we get along well.
At lunch I went into the bedroom and sat under the covers leaning back against the big pillow Mom sent me, which is now all fluffed up and very comfortable. I ended up writing a nice big update to that story I’ve been working on. It felt great to get some creative writing done! I also folded some laundry I had started that morning.
I ended up working a little late. When I was finally done I put the laundry away, then debated going for a walk. Another package had arrived, but it was rainy and cold, so I decided not to walk over to get it. I drove over instead, and it turned out to be my new blank magnetic whiteboard for the fridge (I had decided I wanted more room to write notes) plus a bunch of markers in different colors. This was a nice surprise, as I had expected this non-urgent order to arrive on April 19.
I took some time to put the blank whiteboard up and to rewrite some notes on the whiteboard calendar in color instead of black marker. Then I started the rice cooker. While that was going I changed into night clothes and sat down at the dining table to work on yesterday’s update. When the rice cooker beeped, I stir-fried some more of that pre-seasoned turkey along with some veggies, then made a plate and sat back down at my little laptop to finish the update. Sean got out of the shower a little later, and he’s been sitting on the couch eating dinner while I’ve been in the dining room. (I drew a heart with “H+S” in it on the fridge which he liked a lot.)
Today was productive and good. I’m going to try not to stay up too late so I can keep this momentum tomorrow!
(As a side note, I love WordPress’ new 2020 theme, and how the blocks work and everything. It’s so easy to make a post look nice!)
…and the above was all I wrote yesterday, so here’s the update for March 30.
As yesterday-morning-me mentioned, I was up too late due to the whole grocery situation. Since I’ve been working from home, I’ve set my alarm a half-hour later than usual, so it went off at 6:30. I don’t remember if I snoozed or not but it’s very possible, especially since I didn’t shower that day. (I shower every other day, typically. More if I have been out in coronavirus.)
I was a bit early when I got to my desk, so I swiveled over to the photo-editing laptop and tried to start this blog post. I didn’t make it very far, and I ended up switching to playing games on my phone (Words with Friends with Mom and The Arcana). Then it was 8 o’clock and time to start work.
It was my first official day at my new job. I have transitioned from a copywriter to a marketing analyst. I’d done a little bit of training already and attended several meetings, but this was my first real day on the job. I had two morning meetings, after which my brain was basically Velveeta. I have so much to learn! I tried to switch gears and write on that story at lunch, but I apparently needed time to mentally recover, so no writing occurred. I also tried to think about what I would need to do for dinner that night and what I needed in order to go for a walk after work, but I simply could not seem to figure anything out, lol.
After lunch I had a one-on-one with my new boss, and we talked about what resources I need to get caught up. She told me it would take awhile and that nobody on the team knows absolutely everything, so I shouldn’t stress about it. That was nice to hear.
The rest of the day went pretty well, but I was thoroughly exhausted by the time I finished work. I went for a short walk, around the apartment complex a bit and then over to the parcel lockers to pick up a package that had arrived. (It was The Rise of Skywalker, which…deserves its own post.) On my way there I saw a deer! I heard all this rustling in the forest below the bridge I was walking over. Thinking it was too loud to be a squirrel, I wondered if a dog was down there, but when I looked it was a pretty doe! She didn’t run away even when I stupidly said “Well, hi there!” to her. I managed to get a digital-zoom picture of her looking up at me. Can you see her?
When I got home I opened the package and threw it away, then washed up like crazy in the bathtub. Then I made dinner, which last night was butterfly shrimp (from frozen), creamy garlic shells, and peas. Someone on Twitter had mentioned a show on YouTube called The Great Pottery Throw-Down, so we watched an episode of that before switching to NCIS. It was really nice; I enjoyed it a lot! The format is very similar to Great British Bake Off, and I learned a lot about ceramics. Someday (when coronavirus is over, I guess) I want to take a pottery class.
At around 9:40 or so started getting super emotional, apparently due to exhaustion. I stayed up a little longer for no good reason, then finally went to bed and slept like the dead. All in all, not a bad day, but I probably should have gone to bed a little earlier.
I got up sometime after 8. I was about to just plunk down at a computer, but instead I decided to take a walk. I got dressed in workout clothes and grabbed some water and my camera and was out the door at 9.
I walked out of the apartment complex and down the street to see the cherry blossoms. Some of them were in full bloom and some of them were losing petals (just like the end of the school year in anime). It was really pretty.
When I got up to the big construction area north of our apartment complex, I walked in front of it and then alongside it to try and get a good view. It looks like dirt has been piled super high in some spots and cleared in others, so maybe something multi-level is going on? I know there will be something residential there, and one of Sean and my favorite restaurants, which closed for this new construction. Right now, though, the only thing built is a parking structure.
I decided to keep going down that side road, which was a great choice—I got to see beautiful flowering trees and pushes and a drainage feature that was actually quite picturesque. Eventually I passed through an area of new condo construction and came out at a large office building housing a handful of businesses; there was a giant fountain out front, and the cool breeze there was refreshing.
I’m not sure I’m more likely to get COVID-19 than anyone else—I’m not immunocompromised or over 65—but I really, really don’t want to get it, just like I really don’t want to get regular flu. I’ve had heart failure twice (2007 and 2016). I’m not interested in putting my heart through stress like that.
The American Heart Association currently says:
The virus could affect heart disease patients in several ways, said Orly Vardeny, associate professor of medicine at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and University of Minnesota.
The virus’s main target is the lungs. But that could affect the heart, especially a diseased heart, which has to work harder to get oxygenated blood throughout the body, said Vardeny, an adviser on the ACC bulletin. “In general, you can think of it as something that is taxing the system as a whole.”
That could exacerbate problems for someone with heart failure, where the heart is already having problems pumping efficiently.
So yeah…I’m taking this very seriously. Not going anywhere is super difficult for me, but it’s better than getting coronavirus (or helping spread it to others). I have been doing my best to strictly “shelter in place” since March 14, not leaving the apartment at all if I can help it.
The second time I had heart failure, I did daily update posts. While I’m not actually sick right now, being stuck in the apartment all the time is wearing on me, so I think daily updates might be helpful. I’ll have something to do (during the times when I’m not working or doing chores) and I’ll end up with a record of the experience. So here we go! I’m starting a bit late; following is a recap of what’s gone on so far, from March 13 until now.
I did sort of overwhelm myself by making that list in the previous post. However, I’m happy to report that I’ve actually done some of the items.
Sean is now doing the grocery shopping and packing my breakfasts and lunches every workday. This is such a huge load off my mind. Food stresses me out to no end, so to not have to worry about two meals or the shopping for the third one is huge.
I make dinner, and to make them healthier we have decided to stop getting bagged noodles and rice. This cuts down on a lot of salt. We instead have plain rice, potatoes from scratch, or no starch at all alongside our protein and steamed frozen veggies. Eventually I might get back into cooking real pasta, but this is working for now.
I did actually audit the wall art, and I now have a list of all the pieces and their dimensions. I’m still not sure where to hang everything, as I keep thinking I want to rearrange my office again, but I can’t quite figure out the best configuration.
But this next part is the most fun. As I mentioned wanting to do in the first of the three posts I made on May 19, I have gone on a ton of hikes this year, as well as back to Gibbs Gardens and even on vacation.
In late June I went to the new-to-me Long Creek Falls, which was quite an adventure. I had to drive deep into the mountains on forest service roads to get to the trailhead; the trail to the falls is a spur off the Appalachian Trail. My car was covered in gravel dust by the end, but the hike was fantastic and the falls were absolutely beautiful. There were some lovely flowers in bloom in the forest, and the trail crossed streams frequently, necessitating some jumping from rock to rock. Adventure!
In September I went to another new-to-me site, James H. Floyd State Park. It was one of the nicest state parks I’ve been to, really set up well for staying overnight and having fun. I want to go back and spend a weekend in a cabin someday. This visit, I took the Marble Mine Trail to the ruins of (you guessed it) an old marble mine, then hiked up and along and back down Taylor Ridge, which overlooks the park. The ridge hike was kind of intense. At one point on the descent I fell right on my ass! Fortunately my backpack broke my fall, so the only injury was a little scrape on my forearm. When I was done hiking I was utterly drenched in sweat, as if I had jumped into the pond. I felt triumphant. I was so excited about this hike that I actually edited and uploaded pictures soon after I got home.
In late October I headed home to Kentucky to go camping at Cave Run Lake with AJ, Krystal, Connor, Logan, a few of Connor’s friends, and three dogs. It was amazing. There was beautiful fall color everywhere in Daniel Boone National Forest. We made s’mores and played Cards Against Humanity and AJ made us a big camp breakfast with eggs and bacon and hash browns. We hiked around the campground and the lake a little. And we just had a really good time together. After we got back, we had a big party and cookout for Connor’s 20th birthday.
So far in November I have gone to two new-to-me places: Providence Canyon and Red Top Mountain State Park. Providence Canyon is absolutely incredible. It looks like the Grand Canyon on a smaller scale (but it’s still pretty big). The rock formations are amazing; the state parks website explains that they are “unusual geological formations created by erosion of the Coastal Plain after years of poor agricultural practices.” The result is that you get to see spires and ridges formed of layers of different types of rock. I had no idea such a place existed in Georgia. It was amazing to explore. I hiked the canyon floor first, then went up and hiked a complete circuit around it. It ended up being a pretty long hike, but it was totally worth it.
Red Top Mountain State Park, which I went to the following weekend, has lots of nice trails, and there’s also an adorable Trading Post that had served as the visitor’s center until a new building was recently constructed. I’m pretty sure I hadn’t been there since 2014. It was lovely to explore the park and to see the fall leaves. The Trading Post has one of the best selections of magnets I’ve seen; I got one that was made to resemble the “US Engineer Department” (now the US Army Corps of Engineers) benchmark that exists somewhere in the park.
The day after I went to Red Top Mountain, I went to Tallulah Gorge, because I remembered the views from going for the first time back in April of 2018, and I figured it ought to look amazing with fall color. I stopped at Tallulah Point Overlook first, then went to the state park proper and hiked all the overlooks around the gorge. On my previous visit, I did the North Rim Trail, took the stairs down into the gorge, crossed the suspension bridge, and took more stairs back up to the South Rim Trail. That hike is extremely strenuous, and I didn’t want to overdo it this time. So instead of going down the stairs, I went all the way around the gorge to get to the South Rim Trail. It was a Sunday, and apparently the kayakers and rafters all come on Sunday. To get back out of the one-way South Rim Trail, I had to literally climb over people’s boats as they waited along the trail for permission to descend to the river. So that was funny. All in all, I had a great time. L’Eau d’Or Falls was absolutely beautiful, and I saw a ton of fall color. It seemed a bit past peak, but it was still gorgeous. The hike was great too, and I got a better view of the dam than I did the last time.
Of course, aside from visiting state and national parks, I’ve also gone to Gibbs many times since May—in June, July, August, and November—and I’ve also taken a few nice long neighborhood walks. The fall color has lingered around here, so I’ve been getting as many pictures as I can of it.
I’ve done some fun things other than hiking too. In September I went to JapanFest 2019, and in mid-October I went to the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay with Heidi.
And then, of course, there’s that vacation I mentioned.
This year, when Mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told her that I wanted her to go to St. Augustine with me. To my surprise and delight, she said yes. So we spent a few months working out the details, and then at the end of July we actually did it.
Mom drove down to Atlanta on July 22, and then we left together the evening of July 23, stopping in Savannah for the night. We stayed at Savannah Bed & Breakfast Inn, which was beautiful and cozy. The next day, we looked around Forsyth Park, walked River Street, and had lunch at The Lady & Sons before heading on to St. Augustine. The drive was rainy most of the way, and we were very glad to arrive. We got settled in at the homey and welcoming Ocean Sands Beach Inn, had dinner at a lovely oceanfront restaurant down the street called The Reef, and then went to Publix to grab some groceries for the week’s breakfasts.
We packed a lot into our first full day in St. Augustine: trolley tour in the morning, lunch at Burger Buckets, strolling St. George Street, exploring Ripley’s Believe It or Not, having dinner at a mom and pop Italian restaurant called Casa Benedetto’s, and then heading to our hotel’s private beach at dusk for a view of the ocean.
Our second day, we went to the Colonial Experience and watched a few demonstrations. Then we had an incredible lunch at The Floridian; we shared a cheese board and we each had a sandwich and everything was absolutely divine. After that we took the trolley to the other side of town for tours of the Old Jail and the Oldest Store Museum. They were both really fun. That evening, we had a huge dinner at Aunt Kate’s Restaurant at the River, then spent some time on the dock out back watching passing boats and birds and enjoying the sunset.
On the third day, we went to the Pirate and Treasure Museum, which is always a good time. Then we took the trolley to Whetstone Chocolate Factory, but we didn’t get there in time for a tour, so we just bought some chocolates to enjoy. We did a little more walking in historic St. Augustine and I got a nice ice cream cookie sandwich before we caught a shuttle bus to St. Augustine Beach. I had never been there before and was interested to see how it was different from the hotel’s beach. The whole area was basically a beach resort, filled with hotels and restaurants and surf shops. We had lunch at the Beachcomber restaurant on A Street, and then Mom had a rest while I walked down to look at the ocean. It was a very hot and sunny day, and I ended up not spending much time there. We also were a little nervous about catching the shuttle back to town! But we made it just fine. For dinner we got cleaned up and went to the Raintree, which I love and had been to before. We shared lobster bisque, Beef Wellington, and crème brûlée, and it was all absolutely amazing.
By the next day, we were both slowing down. We decided to keep getting trolley passes so we wouldn’t have to do too much walking. The first thing we did this day was take a narrated boat tour of the river. It was kind of rainy, so we were happy to be below deck, but we still got great views of the skyline and the Castillo and the lighthouse. We also saw some cool birds. After that we had a late lunch at Harry’s. We had meant to go there the day before, but we had to leave shortly after being seated so we wouldn’t miss the beach bus, so we were happy to come back and actually eat! After that, we were both pretty tired, so we went back to the hotel and relaxed, goofing around on our computers and watching TV. For dinner, we ordered pizza and lay in bed and watched a movie.
For the fifth day, we planned ahead and scheduled a Whetstone tour. It was just as wonderful as I’d hoped it would be; we got to see some cool equipment and taste some incredibly delicious samples and hear some really interesting history. We had fish and chips at the Prince of Wales for lunch, sitting outside and enjoying the cool breeze and the ambiance of historic downtown. Then we did a little browsing for souvenirs along St. George Street, finishing with some Dole Whip (a must). We spent the afternoon at the Fountain of Youth, where I got an inordinate number of pictures of peacocks. And then we did what I’d been hoping to do the whole trip, but which had never worked out until that day for various reasons: we went to Cap’s on the Water, sat right along the front of the deck with an excellent view of the river, and leisurely ordered appetizers while watching the sunset. It’s one of my favorite St. Augustine experiences, and I’m so glad I got to share it with Mom!
That was our last day. The next day, we packed up and headed back to Atlanta, bidding St. Augustine a fond farewell. I had always gone to St. Augustine by myself before, so bringing someone with me was new and fun. I really enjoyed sharing my favorite things with Mom and also discovering new things with her. Hopefully she and I will be taking another vacation together next April.
So while I haven’t fixed my entire life just yet, I have made some good changes and had some great experiences in the latter half of this year. There is more going on with me than just these things, too. But this is a pretty nice update, I’d say.
I’m going to try to reincorporate journaling into my life. I’m hoping that will help me with figuring out what I want and how to get there.
(WordPress has completely changed the layout of the posting screen since I last used it. It looks like there are a ton of exciting new features. I’m trying to focus on that rather than on my initial “Why do things have to change! I’m old! Get off my lawn!” reaction.)
A general life update: I’ve been at the same company for going on seven years, though my position changed from contract copywriter to associate after the first year, and the things I’ve been writing about have changed a lot. It started with a specific product, expanded to a product category, and now comprises several product categories. When I started I was writing for web, and a little over a year ago I shifted to print, and now I’m doing both. It’s just challenging enough to keep me happy without overwhelming me, so I have to say I am happy in the job arena.
As far as hobbies, I’ve been focused on writing. I don’t write anything that is traditionally publishable, but I am able to publish on the web and get feedback, which I enjoy. However, I’ve been kind of rethinking it lately. The community I’m part of moved from Tumblr to Twitter after Tumblr made the ludicrous decision to ban adult content, and I’m finding this new way of communicating to be really hard on my mental health. While I’ve had a Twitter account since 2007, I had never really used it much for fandom stuff until recent years. The functionality is best for quick, punchy ideas. It means there is a lot of negativity (it’s easier to be “clever” by tearing things down), and it also means I feel a lot of pressure to continually produce “content.” It feels as if I will fade into obscurity if I am not constantly posting something new, whether it be a full fic, a chapter, or a tweet thread. Unfortunately this is not how my writing has ever worked; I’m slow and inconsistent, and I have trouble joining in on the “headcanoning” that is popular (where you come up with a ton of personal details about characters based on how you interpret their personalities).
This situation makes me feel like there’s something wrong with me, like if I just stopped being a lazy loser I could make regular updates like Real Writers, and until I do that, I’m worthless.
So that’s not great. I’m starting to feel like leaving Twitter is my best option, but there is nowhere else for me to interact with the majority of my fandom friends…so I would essentially be leaving fandom.
I’m still taking tons of photos, so much so that I have run out of hard drive space. I have an enormous backlog of photos to process, going back to 2014. I plan to get a spare hard drive so I have room to breathe, but I really want to come up with a plan to work through all those photos. There are so many steps: the initial pass, during which I delete rejects and rename files to put them in chronological order (since I have photos from two cameras); the edit pass, during which I straighten and adjust colors and whatnot; the actual upload; and captioning/tagging, which can be very time consuming. (It’s even harder when the photos are years old and I have to try to remember the context.)
Hand-in-hand with photography is my hiking hobby. I bought a book called 50 Hikes in the North Georgia Mountains and I plan to go through it to find new places to go. I’ve been to lots of trails already (need to get those pictures posted…) but this year I’ve mostly gone to Gibbs Gardens, which isn’t really a hike so much as a stroll, though there are some good uphills. In any case, I need to get out to a mountain trail soon.
I also want to get back into shape. Since recovering from Heart Failure Part Deux and going back to work, I’ve slipped back into my old bad habits: eating unhealthy food because it’s faster and spending most of my time sitting around on my computer or phone. I would like to come up with a plan for meals and exercise that would actually be feasible with my schedule, and not so difficult that I would hate doing it. I went on a really nice walk through my neighborhood today, about 3.5 miles, and I think walking should definitely be part of whatever exercise plan I come up with, but I think I need to do weight training of some kind as well, and definitely stretching.
Another goal, getting my spending under control, goes right along with the health goal, since cooking at home would save money as well as be healthy. Right now, a usual weekday starts with me getting a smoothie for $8, and then at work I either buy lunch in the cafeteria (roughly $8) or go out somewhere (roughly $15). I have also been going to a restaurant after work to write every now and then, so that’s another $14 on those days. On other days, Sean and I have worked out a few meals that are easy to make, so we do those…but they are not healthy. They are: crab alfredo, hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, turkey sausage and creamy garlic shells, Hungry Man frozen dinners, and Marie Callender’s pot pies. Sometimes I will make chicken curry or cheeseburgers; these are more time consuming so they’re rarer. On weekends, I usually go to the restaurant to write at least one of the days. Breakfast is sometimes an $8 smoothie, sometimes leftovers, sometimes nothing. Dinner is either one of the unhealthy at-home meals or something from a restaurant (could range from cheap fast food to nice sushi).
And finally, my home. I’ve never had a system for doing chores; it’s always just been “when it looks like it needs it.” Laundry is fairly consistently done on the weekends, and Sean handles the dishes every day, but everything else is just random. Dust piles up over everything, and crumbs and dirt get on the floor, and nothing gets dusted or vacuumed until we have guests coming. I don’t have a system to deal with paperwork, so it’s just a big pile that I occasionally go through. And I have a ton of wall art just waiting to be hung up, but I haven’t figured that out yet. I want the apartment to be nice all the time, not just after a last-minute deep cleaning. And I want it to feel comfortable to me instead of like a place where there’s always something that needs to be cleaned or organized. Maybe I could spend more time writing there instead of at a restaurant if I felt relaxed.
So yeah, this is all a mess, and I would like to get it under control.
I realize this blog is basically a record of me coming to the conclusion that I need to organize my life and then never actually doing anything, so I want to approach it differently this time. I think what shoots me in the foot is thinking I have to figure it all out at once. So what I will try to do is come up with a plan for making changes over time—an adaptable plan that can grow as I move forward. What can I do here and there during a week to start?
This plan also has to take my ups and downs into account. There are times (like today) when I’m feeling very motivated and energetic, and then there are times when it’s a victory just to get through the bare minimum. The plan has to allow me to have down days instead of expecting me to be on all the time.
And finally, the plan has to be flexible enough that I won’t feel smothered by it. I tend to not do well with rigidity; I get bored and recalcitrant. So I need something that gets things done regularly but doesn’t feel too regular. Heh.
So anyway, this has been kind of a catch-up-and-see-where-I-am post. Now that I’ve gotten all those thoughts out of my head, I can start trying to actually work on the problems. Here we go…