Categories
Diary

Shelter in Place: Day 21

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!

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Diary

Shelter in Place: Day 20

Purple azaleas, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

Oof.

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.

Green trees, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

Work was good. I ate

  • a banana,
  • 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.

Me in my balaclava, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

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.)

Pink azaleas, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.
Stairs and a Japanese maple, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

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.

Large flowering dogwood, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

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.

Me in my balaclava on a bridge, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.
Categories
Diary

Shelter in Place: Day 19

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:

  • Greek yogurt
  • a banana
  • a boiled egg
  • a bowl of maple and brown sugar oatmeal
  • a turkey sandwich (on wheat bread, yay!)
  • Cheetos
  • sliced apples

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.

Categories
Diary

Shelter in Place: Day 18

Here’s the update for today, March 31.

Rainy and green spring afternoon, March 31, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

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.

A nice place for lunch, March 31, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.
Me and my new pillow, March 31, 2020.
Refrigerator calendar, March 31, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

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.

Refrigerator whiteboard, March 31, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

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!

Stir-fry turkey and veggies with rice, March 31, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

(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!)

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Diary

Shelter in Place: Day 17

Pink azaleas, March 30, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

Ugh.

I was up too late and I’m tired today.

…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.)

Flowering tree, March 30, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

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.

Deer amid green leaves, March 30, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

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?

COVID-19 social distancing sign from the US Postal Service, March 30, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

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.

Categories
Diary

Shelter in Place: Day 16

This is the update for March 29.

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.

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Diary

Shelter in Place: Days 0–15

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.

What Heart Patients Should Know About Coronavirus, March 24, 2020; retrieved March 28

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.

Categories
Adventure Diary Health Travel

Hello again

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.

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Diary

Dammit

I can feel myself already starting to recoil at the thought of figuring out how to accomplish all those goals. Come on, motivation. This is your time to shine.

Here! Here’s a list of things! Try to do them!

  • Find an at-home smoothie recipe that could substitute for the delicious green tea with raspberry. The raspberries can be frozen so no worry about fruit going bad in the fridge. (Get a new blender?)
  • Plan to bring lunch once a week until it becomes easier, then up it to twice a week.
  • Go through 500 Heart-Healthy Recipes and find ones that don’t look too hard to do for dinners. Put them into Plan to Eat.
  • Audit all the wall art. Note dimensions and what needs to be framed.
  • Pick a strength training program, either online somewhere or one of my old videos.
  • Plan to go on a walk one weekday every week.
  • Come up with a way to track these things. Probably a handwritten notebook. Put checkboxes next to things. Make a page/spread for every week?
  • Make a list of all chores that should be done regularly. Maybe reference FlyLady?
  • Make a list of everything I want to konmari (bookshelves, guest closet, coat closet, kitchen small appliances…is that the whole list?)
  • Stop making list items, you’ll overwhelm yourself

Okay, here we go then…

Categories
Diary Health

What is life

Hey, it’s been awhile!

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…

Categories
Diary Health

Status update

I feel like this blog, among other things, is just a huge record of me trying to do things and failing, but here I go again.

This past week I have tracked what I ate every weekday using MyFitnessPal. I also packed food for breakfast and lunch every day except Friday, on which day I only packed breakfast because we went out for lunch to celebrate Tobi’s birthday. Dinners were all cooked at home.

The primary goal was to not eat out as much as possible to save money, since the account was low and I didn’t get paid until Friday, but I also decided to try to eat more healthily at the same time. So as I mentioned before, I paid attention to various nutrients while I was tracking.

Despite saying I wouldn’t start exercising until after my vacation at the end of the month, I have been trying to do some walking. Partly this is because since going to Tallulah Gorge on April 29, my left knee has been in near-constant pain. I am trying to rebuild muscle strength there so something like that doesn’t happen again. (A friend said I should see a physiotherapist. My boss says it is probably arthritis. I don’t know. I just want to be able to hike…) On one of my walks my right knee started having shooting pain, and now both of them are sore, but I feel better after today’s walk, so hopefully I am not just destroying them.

I was hoping this week would result in some weight loss, but it did not. I didn’t take my weight till Wednesday, at which point I weighed 159.8. Today I weigh 159.7. This is not significant, lol. However, I need to let more time pass before I can really know if my food changes are helping or not. (Also, I ate an ice cream cone and four Oreo cookies yesterday, which is not exactly nutritional.)

The main goal, of course, was to save money. According to Mint we spent $189 this week on food vs. $263 last week. That’s pretty good, especially considering I spent $40 at the lunch place I went to yesterday. (I’m gonna mess it up by going out to breakfast today, but eh.)

So I’m cautiously hopeful.

Ta-das for today:

  • Went for a 30-minute walk as soon as I got up. I did three brief jogging intervals and briskly walked the rest. My knees feel sore but good.
  • Took a shower.
  • Cleaned my toilet.
Categories
Diary

More food stuff

I was successful in packing my breakfast and lunch and cooking dinner today, just like yesterday and Monday. Whoopee!

It’s been interesting to watch my nutrition info in MyFitnessPal. One commonality across all three days is that I’m not getting enough fiber, so I want to look into that.

Otherwise, I just want to keep cooking at home to save money. I’ll check Mint to see how much we spent on food this week versus other weeks. The last time I did this I saved like $300 over two weeks. Crazy what not going to Starbucks every day can do…

Once I’ve made cooking at home a habit, I want to add in exercise as well. I don’t want to try to do that too soon or I’ll burn out and quit everything. I have a vacation coming up at the end of the month, so maybe I’ll start exercising after that.

Categories
Diary Health

Food stuff

In order to save money, primarily, and also possibly to eat more healthily, I am going to once again try to pack my breakfasts and lunches and cook dinners during the week. So far I have done so yesterday and today. Wish me luck.

For breakfasts and lunches, I have amassed a few staples: hard boiled eggs, cheese snacks, yogurt, grapes, carrots, and supplies for sandwiches. On Monday I packed with abandon, not paying attention to the nutrition info. On top of my morning protein shake I had two boiled eggs, a yogurt, and a slice of bread with peanut butter for breakfast. For lunch and snacks I had some leftover Kraft macaroni and cheese, a bologna sandwich with two slices of bologna and a Kraft single, a banana, a serving of barbecue chips, grapes, and two Oreos. Dinner was beef knockwurst with four-cheese pasta and steamed veggies. I also splurged and had a Drumstick ice cream treat.

It turned out that was a lot of food. I was way over most of my nutrition recommendations, in some cases double. So today, I tracked all the food I packed for breakfast and lunch while I was packing it, making sure not to pack too much. I didn’t have a protein shake. I had one boiled egg, a yogurt, and two cheese snacks for breakfast. For lunch I had a bologna sandwich with only one slice of bologna, a snack bag of baby carrots, and a banana. For a snack later I had grapes. Dinner was chicken curry with steamed white rice. After tracking everything I found that while I was still over in most categories, it wasn’t by very much, and I was actually under for fat and sodium. Huzzah!

My highest sugar items today were the yogurt, banana, and grapes. I may need to cut back on fruit, or maybe try to find yogurt that isn’t so sweetened. I had too much rice at dinner, and that added a lot of carbs. The banana is the next-highest big-ticket carb item, then the bread from the sandwich, then the yogurt. Not having a protein shake and sticking to one egg and one slice of bologna seems to be a good idea in terms of not going totally crazy with protein. I don’t really mind the protein or the overall calories being a little over, because my digestive system isn’t as efficient as it used to be due to weight loss surgery, so I need to get a little extra in order to have proper nutrition anyway.

I’m happy to have managed two days so far, and I hope I can keep it up for the rest of the week. My goal is to do this for three weeks in a row, and then at that point start integrating regular exercise too. Fingers crossed.

Categories
Diary

Tallulah Gorge

Spring is arriving in Atlanta in fits and starts. One day it’s sunny and 72, the next it’s dreary and in the 30s. We’ve had some amazing blooms this year, starting with some early redbuds in February and continuing through cherry blossoms and dogwoods and more redbuds and whatever those extremely tall trees with the sprays of white are. Gibbs Gardens has looked incredible each of the times I’ve gone. So far this year I’ve visited on four different Sundays: March 4, the first weekend they were open for the season, at which point cherry blossoms and daffodils were the main features; March 25, when the trees were mostly still bare, the cherry blossoms were gone, but the daffodils had been joined by colorful tulips and an array of pink-flowering trees, including redbuds; April 1, at which point the gardens were bursting with brightly colored petunias, white balls of viburnum, and pink azaleas; and April 22, when the Japanese maples framed the pools and walkways in sprays of brilliant red.

That last weekend, I’d considered going somewhere else. On Saturday the 21st I woke up thinking that I should go hiking. I liked the idea of going to Gibbs again, but I’d been three times already, and it would be nice to go somewhere new. Plus, there are many places in Georgia I’ve been meaning to see. I started poking around online and decided that Tallulah Gorge would be the perfect place–but I had already spent most of the day at home, and it’s an hour and a half drive to get up there, so I decided to hold off. The next day, it was supposed to rain, so I didn’t want to go that far only to not be able to spend much time. I decided last-minute to go to Gibbs again, banking on the rain not starting until around noon, and it worked out perfectly; the rain came as I was driving home.

The idea of going to Tallulah Gorge stuck with me, though, and when I saw that this weekend’s weather was forecast to be incredible, sunny and 72, I decided that Saturday, yesterday, would be the day.

The drive up was extremely easy. I didn’t need to leave Google Maps running; I simply read the directions and went: I-285 to I-85 to I-985, which turns into US-23. The turn for Tallulah Gorge’s Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center is right off that highway.

My first stop was Tallulah Point Overlook, which I’d read about online. It’s a gift and supply store with an ice cream and candy shop upstairs and a burger and fried peanuts stand off to the side. From the store’s back porch and the upstairs porch beyond the ice cream shop, you can look right into the gorge. There was a lot of foliage, so the view wasn’t amazing, but I did see some charging rapids between the trees. I was really glad I’d come, because I loved the store; it’s filled with homey trinkets and nice souvenirs and feels very charming and welcoming. I got a Tallulah Gorge t-shirt and a handmade pottery Tallulah Falls magnet. If it hadn’t been too early to eat, I would have had some ice cream.

After that I drove to the Interpretive Center. It was around 11 am at this point and the parking lot was packed. I ended up parking in the grass, next to several other cars doing the same. I wanted to get right to hiking, so I skipped the Interpretive Center and headed down past a sign that said “North Rim Trail.” I had a vague idea of what the trails were and which ones I wanted to go on–the rim trails go around the rim of the gorge and offer spectacular views, so definitely those. I was surprised to find the trail blazed with recycled tires, like some of the trails at Amicalola Falls. The overlooks were jam-packed with people. It felt more touristy than I had been expecting, though I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me that a popular destination would have friendlier trails.

As soon as I hit the stairs for the Hurricane Falls Trail, I abandoned the North Rim Trail and headed down. I knew there was a suspension bridge and I definitely wanted to cross it. There are 310 steps down to the suspension bridge; I got through these fine and stepped out onto the bridge.

I was sort of expecting the bridge to be scary, or the views to be better, but the slight wobbling wasn’t frightening at all, and the views were obstructed by all the suspension lines. Being on the bridge didn’t give me as much of a thrill as I had hoped, but it was still neat.

After the bridge, there are 221 steps down to the gorge floor. We were allowed to walk down to a pier-like structure there that led out to a nice view of Hurricane Falls. Access to the actual gorge floor was cut off, as this weekend they are doing an “aesthetic flow” and allowing more water through the dam, so that Tallulah River is too high for people to walk near. Of course, this flow means all the waterfalls looked really cool, and Hurricane Falls was no exception.

Back up the 221 steps, I was starting to flag. My legs were shaking and I was starting to get short of breath. I had to stop several times to rest; thankfully there are platforms for this purpose, so I was able to get out of the way.

At that point I could have gone back across the suspension bridge and up the 310 stairs, but I chose to do the 347 steps up to the South Rim Trail, which runs along the opposite side of the gorge from the Interpretive Center. I did not notice at the time that there were more steps up than I had come down, but a guy going the other way mentioned it to me when I got to the top. Of course, this was after a lot of struggling and stopping and drinking water. I’m really happy to have conquered all those stairs: 1099, all told.

The overlooks from the South Rim Trail were great. At one point there were stone stairs leading up to some huge rocks that you could stand on. I climbed up there and someone kindly took my picture standing on one of the rocks, with the gorge in the background. (I took theirs in return.) Then I sat down on one of the other rocks and had lunch. It was great.

After that, it was just a matter of finding my way back to the other side of the gorge. I did not particularly want to try to do the stairs again. I thought I’d read online that it was possible to cross where the highway crosses, so I headed in that direction. Sure enough, it worked out. The signs got confusing, but I finally figured out that I needed to cross the road on the sidewalk and then take a flight of stairs down to the trail.

From on top of the bridge, I got a great shot of the gorge, and some photos of what may have been a peregrine falcon–I’m not sure, but it was big, and there is a family of them nesting in the cliffside, so here’s hoping.

Once back on the trail, I had some pretty cool views of the waterfall pouring out of the dam I had just crossed. Then it wasn’t long before I was back to the Interpretive Center and my car.

All in all, it was a very satisfying hike! I had a really great time. My legs are so sore today, but in that good way that gives you a sense of accomplishment. I’d love to go back in early spring or late fall, when the trees aren’t so leafy, to get less obstructed views of the gorge.

Categories
Diary Health

Ta-Da List

Since this past weekend, I’ve been working on goal-setting and breaking big dreams down into achievable targets and tasks. My overall goals fall into these general categories: improve as a writer, improve my health, enrich myself/experience the world, and give back. Under these categories I have various broad targets, and under those targets I get more and more specific until I have drilled down to tasks. For example, under improve as a writer one of my targets is read consistently, and I have laid out some tasks for myself to help me get to the point where I am reading more. My first task is “create prioritized list of books.”

A lot of my initial steps have been the creation of some sort of list. And I have set up a spreadsheet that has a list of all my current tasks, Getting Things Done-style. But one list I haven’t quite figured out yet is my Ta-Da List.

Alongside having targets to reach, I want to have a place where I can look back and see all the things I have accomplished. I feel like this would be a great motivator. In the individual project tabs on my spreadsheet I do leave finished tasks in with their completed dates, but over time this will become infeasible–I’ll need to delete them just so I can keep the spreadsheet manageable. So I’m thinking I will need some sort of area to round up achievements. A daily report might be too hard to maintain, but perhaps weekly or monthly. I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

For now, I thought I’d list out here all the tasks I’ve done since I started this effort on Saturday.

Project Management

  • Wrote out a list of all the goals I’d like to work on
  • Created a spreadsheet to manage the goals
    • Features a main tab listing current tasks for all projects and then a tab for each project
    • On project tabs, automatically strikes out tasks for which I enter a completed date
    • On task tab, automatically turns items due that day orange and overdue items red
    • Note: I’d like to automatically pull tasks and due dates into the task tab from the project tabs, but I haven’t figured out how to do that, or if it’s even possible
  • Came up with tasks for each goal
  • Set due dates for each task
  • Next step: figure out how to do a ta-da list

Create a Writing Routine or System

  • Brainstormed milestones/targets
  • Next step: set a plan or schedule to test out for each target, or perhaps a combination of them

Travel More

  • Created a list of desired travel locations
    • Included driving time for close locations and flight cost for farther locations
  • Next step: continue pricing out each location (lodging, transit, activities) and then prioritize

Meal Planning

  • Created lists of easy-to-pack proteins, fruits, vegetables, and starches
  • Purchased supplies for a test run for the last three days of this week
  • Next steps: create a list of example meals so shopping is easier; purchase a single-serving set of dishes and flatware to keep at work

Exercise

  • Made a list of aerobic exercise options
  • Next step: make a plan/checklist for weekly aerobic exercise
  • Also, I walked for two hours on Sunday :D

Read MorePhotography, ExplorePolitics, and Volunteer

I have set tasks but I haven’t done anything on these projects yet.

  • Next steps: create prioritized list of books; finish editing and uploading Hawaii pictures; make lists of local gardens, museums, restaurants, hiking locations, and festivals; make a list of all my various representatives in government; make a list of local volunteer opportunities

One-Offs

I also used my spreadsheet to keep track of a couple errands I’d been putting off.

  • Paid medical bills
  • Shipped some packages

This is looking pretty impressive, and it’s only been four days. If I continue to complete tasks at a decent rate, I probably won’t be able to sustain doing a post like this every week. Or if I do, I will have to reformat so I can just copy and paste from my tabs. But this is a start!