Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of 2013

2013 had its share of issues for me. Basement sewage flood being the crappiest (pun intended). Broken dishwasher a few weeks out of warranty, and replacement hasn't been quite as good. Numerous car repairs. Vet bills. Intentional mortgage penalties and associated legal fees. It's been an expensive year. I hope 2014 isn't quite so bad in the money department.

2013 isn't a year I'll look back on with fond memories, but it certainly wasn't the worst I've had, either. There were good points about this year, our "year of not procrastinating."  We did finally get John on the mortgage, protection for him in case anything were to happen to me. We didn't quite make it to getting our wills done, but that can be part of 2014's plan. We did allow ourselves to get sidetracked due to the basement nonsense.

The basement, despite the hassle of the flood, is now better than ever. Still work to be done organizing, unboxing, and decluttering. Our new IKEA bookcases are great. We're a lot closer to finishing the bathroom than we would have been otherwise. The mold issues we likely had from previous floods are now gone. It's definitely an improvement. Now I just need to replace my bean bag chair.

In the personal goals department, 2013 was actually a huge success. I lost approx 15 lbs through portion control and calorie counting, without having to swear off every food that tastes good. I'm proud of my accomplishment, and validated in my thought that if I just put my mind to it, I knew I could get it done. I had said that for ages, but when I got back from California at the beginning of May, I knew I had to act if I wanted things to be different. I'm glad I succeeded and am keeping it up.

I've dropped off on my photo-taking, but we got a new DSLR camera for Christmas and I hope to pick that back up again. Having the better camera will help improve my skill and interest.

I'm not sure exactly what goals to set for 2014 just yet. In the case of 2013, my most successful plans were set not at the beginning of the year. So maybe I'll take some time to think about what I want to accomplish. It should involve some decisions about my career direction. I hope to see more of some friends I've reconnected with recently, because they're uplifting friendships. I need to push myself to knit something more complicated than a dishcloth again.

Happy New Year to you all. Be safe.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

We've all got one

Everyone has a food they like, one which they prefer the "fake" or processed version over the real thing. Using my husband as an example, he would take instant mashed potatoes and canned green beans over real mashed and fresh beans.  I don't understand that, and I force him to eat my real mashed potatoes -- thankfully I make them smooth enough for his liking.

Today I had one such experience. I was out for lunch earlier than usual, and was able to get mac & cheese from a vendor who usually sells out before 1pm. I brought it back to my office, had a few bites, and couldn't understand how it could be so bland. I couldn't help but think that I preferred the Kraft Dinner 3 cheese variety.  It seems wrong, but I guess we all have our own individual tastes and likes/dislikes.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Feeling useful

I scroll by those posts on Facebook, the ones designed to gather and sell Likes with their pithy quotes.  I saw one this morning, however, that has stuck with me all day: People need to feel useful.  Consider that akin to the phrase most often used during tragedy: “If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know.”  I think this hits the nail on the head as far as some of my relationships go, and one relationship in particular.  I don’t feel useful to that person anymore. They don’t need my skills, my input, or really my presence. I don’t think we have any animosity, but I don’t feel like they need me for anything at all.  I guess that’s why I’m not included in much of their life anymore.

On the other extreme is being used.  Some people will take all that you give, and then take more.  I’ve had relationships where I wanted people to like me, so I gave of myself, only to realize later that they were just using me to get what they needed without providing me with anything in return.

So I am not advocating people who are users.  But think about those in your life, what skills they have, and whether you’ve taken them up on their offers lately.  While some friends haven’t needed me around, others have asked for me to join them but I’ve been too busy to take part.  So I’m making an effort at carving out some time for those who appreciate having me around, and will attempt to worry less about those who don’t.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The reprieve

The sun came out, and she decided it may be one of the last times she could take advantage of it. She walked down to the beached dock and sat, examining rocks, listening to the water, enjoying the scenery. She still had problems, but they were somehow dulled by the calm surroundings and the warmth of the sun. A friend came down, and they talked alone for a while, something they hadn't done for what felt like a long time. More friends joined in, and laughs were had. The friends moved back to the house, but she stayed on the dock, soaking up as much of the sun's energy as she could. She could have stayed there all night, continuing that feeling of relaxation that she hadn't felt in months. No one would have minded if she'd stayed, but she knew she'd have to get home eventually.  She drove home in a good mood, feeling generally calmer and stronger about her problems. The reprieve was good. Maybe everything would be ok after all.

Then she arrived home.

Her husband had hurt himself while she was gone. His back was throbbing and he was unable to move freely. The following two days were stressful as they dealt with drives to the hospital, doctors,  intense pain, and medications.  She missed a day of work due to exhaustion and her husband needing her assistance.  Though she informed her boss that she was taking her husband to the ER, there were no kind words offered, only accusations about a problem that she didn't know existed. More accusations followed from others. She discovered one of her employees had done something known to be off-limits, and the disappointment and frustration continued to mount. At the same time, she managed to disappoint someone very close to her because she was too busy concentrating on her own problems.  She came home crying and shaking, yet again feeling like a breakdown was imminent. She knows this can't continue, and that change is needed for the sake of her mental health.  But she fears change greatly and seems immobilized with indecision. She feels she will never get things figured out.

The reprieve already feels so long ago that she wonders if she'll ever feel it again. She hopes so.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New cat buddy

I take walks on my lunch hour around the neighborhood near my office.  I often run across cats, but lately hadn't seen my usual white/orange cat buddy from last summer, nor has the all-orange cat made many appearances either.  Today I met a new cat buddy on my walk.  I called her over (assuming female, but wasn't sure), not expecting anything, but she ran right over.  Very sweet and loving, and her markings are really nice.  She really enjoyed my petting.  At one point she even got up on a higher part of the wall, jumped up on her hind legs and put her paws on my shoulder, and rubbed her head on me!  I would have taken her home in a heartbeat.  She looked well-fed enough to have a home, though.  She walked down the street with me for a while, but stopped around the end of the property, so likely belongs to the house I was walking past.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Morning walk photos

I've dropped off on my photo project because I got busy, and I also found that some of the prompts were repeating. I haven't given it up entirely, just haven't had much enthusiasm for it in recent weeks.

I did, however, snap a few pics along my morning walk last week.

I wish my camera could actually capture what I'm seeing. The raised peninsula is the Nature Park, and the water in front of the raised area was still and glassy. Must have been high tide for it to have been that smooth.

A tanker in the middle, and a cruise ship coming in to town on the left.

These two seagulls (I like to think they're the same two) seem to love sitting on this roof most mornings. I picture them as Frank and George, having their morning coffee.

Another attempt to get a shot of the cruise ship, in the middle of the shot. I had a better angle a couple of weeks ago because I was walking an hour later when the ship was closer, but the shot was poor quality from my phone.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Material Girl

I haven't been posting much on Facebook lately.  I draft a status, sit and look at it, and figure very few people will care. Or it will just get lost in the mountain of cat pictures, wine memes, and advertising.  So I'm going to hop over here and talk a bit about my day.

I had a bit of a meltdown this morning. I had been holding it together pretty well, but after a discussion that involved the suggestion of many changes, I just snapped. I spent part of the morning crying, and the rest of the day feeling totally exhausted. Though things are moving quickly with the renovations after the sewage backup, it's evident that we'll still be taking a loss through this process. It makes you feel like all of your stuff, listed out on a spreadsheet, is pretty much worthless. It's old, you can't find an equivalent, it doesn't make sense to replace it, it might get depreciated to the point where it's not worth replacing.  Any way we look at it, we'll be paying extra to get back to "normal" even after insurance settles up.

In addition to that, I made the decision to try and rehome my childhood furniture, which when it goes will be a physical representation of "not having kids" that I was finding more upsetting than I realized. Despite being upset from that realization, it doesn't make me want to commit to doing the work involved to have kids. So there's a double whammy that feels like I'm letting someone or something down, admitting defeat, and/or being a failure.

I have a problem with material possessions. I find it incredibly difficult to let go of "stuff". I am not in hoarding territory, but I hang onto things and have an emotional attachment that is likely stronger than most.  I'm not sure where this comes from, since as a child I never wanted for anything. So I'm not making up for a life of loss in the material sense.  People say "it's just stuff," but when you have such a strong emotional attachment to something it also becomes a way to hang onto a memory. I think it's the memories I'm afraid of losing the most.

After getting that out today, I'm considering still moving forward with the decluttering. If I don't find new homes for the old "stuff" then I have no shot at gaining something better. Maybe what we choose to do in the basement bedroom will be way better and I won't miss my furniture at all. Or maybe I'll wish I had it for a spare room when we move to a different house some day. It's the fear that I'm making the wrong decision and can't ever recover from it that prevents me from doing a lot of things in life.

I had a conversation with friends a few years ago in which most of them said they had less fear and were more willing to try new things the older they got. I said the opposite: the older I get, the more fearful I become.  I still feel the same way, and that's probably quite sad.

So I'm not really in a good place today, combined with another struggle that plagues me on a daily basis, I feel like I'm a mess right now. I'm thankful for a loving husband and cats to help me through.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

June photo Day 22: Enjoying Life

Now that our main reason for heading to Bangor was done (banking), we headed off for the fun portion of the trip: shopping.  Here's John having fun in Sam's Club (he seems to always be happy there) as he discovers the world's largest Post-It Note and a new technology called a "pocket" -- what will they think of next?

June photo Day 21: Lunchtime

At lunchtime that day, I was off for the afternoon and headed to Bangor with a stop in Calais for yummy sammiches at The Sandwich Man.  Unfortunately, The Sandwich Man was closed, and we ended up with a high-calorie yet unsatisfying meal at Burger King which I forgot to photograph.  What was more exciting and I did remember to snap was our dinner at Texas Roadhouse in Bangor.

June photo Day 18: Street

The request for the 18th was a streetscape, so I snapped one of Mount Pleasant as I went for my lunchtime walk.

June photo Day 17: Centred

Centred is a gate to a park that I walk by on my lunchtime walks.

June photo Day 16: Family

June was a bad month at work, and didn't leave me with much desire to take photos.  I did manage to get a couple in since the 9th, so I'll post those now.

The 16th was Father's Day, and I had planned on making a pie for my Dad.  Instead, I discovered our basement had flooded again.  John and I had to clean up the mess, so it was a family effort.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June photo Day 9: From down low

We have many large maple trees, so I took a shot from the base.

June photo Day 8: An animal

Caught a deer munching on some foliage at the Nature Park.

June photo Day 7: Bright

The flash shone brightly on my new co-worker's new monitor.

June photo Day 6: Transport

After days of walking, I finally caught a picture of a bus. Wasn't the bus I wanted, nor is it a great pic, but at least I finally got one.

Monday, June 10, 2013

June photo Day 5: Environment

This is the environment outside my office, which is basically a giant hole. The City has been doing water pipe replacement on Somerset St, which led to some unexpected extra work on Wellesley Ave.

June photo Day 4: After dark

"When the sun goes down, take a photo" is today's prompt.  This time of year, we're approaching the longest day, which means it's still not totally black out at 10pm.  One of the down sides to living here, says John, who prefers the sunset at a "decent hour."  Having lived here all of my life, I can't imagine summer without it.

My camera isn't the greatest, so I took a pic at dusk, which is technically after the sun went down, just not necessarily "after dark."

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

June photo Day 3: On my table

On our table today are a couple of new board games, and some fruit.

June photo Day 2: A moment

Sapphire got tired while playing trackball and fell asleep mid-game.

June photo Day 1: B is for...

B is for buds. Lilacs are in bud stage right now and will bloom shortly.

May photo Day 31: Four things

The intersection of four stones on a walkway.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

May photo Day 30: Tool

Skipping yesterday's "kiss".

For tool, I picked the crowbar.

May photo Day 28: What you're doing now

When I checked in on the day's prompt, I was out for my lunchtime walk. The green light is the reflection from my water bottle.

May photo Day 27: Something I can't live without

I cannot imagine a world without chocolate.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

May photo Day 26: Fave thing to do on a Sunday

Sundays often end up being cleaning days, doing laundry, tidying things, etc. Normally I would say football, but it's not on this time of year. Lately Sundays have involved Zumba, since my regular class isn't running on Mondays.  I like to do some baking on Sundays.  Today I caught up on some saved TV.  To represent the "kicking back and catching up on TV" phase, I'll let Hugs & Choco fill in for me:

May photo Day 25: Us

Day 24 was "Go" and I just wasn't feeling it, so I'm skipping that one.

Day 25 is "Us" so I snapped a pic of the two females of the household hanging out.

May photo Day 23: PJs

A variety of clean PJs after doing the laundry.

May photo Day 22: Change

SJ is going through a lot of change lately. One such change is the construction of the "Police Palace" and a new parking garage, seen below.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May photo Day 21: I care about this

I care about a lot of things, but the day we were at the San Diego Zoo, I cared about seeing the hippos.

May photo Day 20: Light

Here's the Morongo Casino lit up at night as we drove by on vacation. One of the many times we drove by, since our vacation involved a lot of driving.

May photo Day 18/19: Want/My Favorite View

I'll combine the weekend's photos into one pic with multiple representations.  What I want is peace & quiet, and a favorite view of mine are water scenes.  This was taken at my friend's cottage on Lake Utopia.  I wish it was as warm as it looked.

May photo Day 17: Season

Our two-week vacation out of the country turned into a 4 week vacation from picture posting. But I'm back with some new pics now.

It's Spring here, so I snapped this pic of some growing maple leaves.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April photo Day 18: Hello!

I asked John to give me a visual "hello!" and he delivered.

April photo Day 17: Busy

This week I've been busy getting ready to go away. One of those prep tasks is laundry. "Busy" doesn't have to mean "exciting."

April photo Day 16: Your favorite color

My favorite color has been purple for a very long time.

April photo Day 15: Alone

Alone stumped me for a few days, but I snapped a pic of Sapphire tonight hanging out by herself.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April photo Day 14: Water

When we went to Boiestown last weekend, we traveled alongside the Nashwaak River.  The river had deposited its ice on the shores.

April photo Day 13: View from your bed

Our bedroom is located in the front of our house, which I dislike since it doesn't offer privacy. The blinds are closed 99% of the time; I'd prefer they be open more often than not. When I wake, I usually look to the gap in the blinds to tell me what kind of weather is happening. There is no blue in that smidgen of sky.

April photo Day 12: In the middle

A Sapphire sandwich.

April photo Day 11: Detail

SJ is an old city, so many uptown buildings have a lot of detail that just aren't done anymore.  I caught this detail above a window on Carleton St.

April photo Day 10: A place

On my way back from an errand at lunch, I stopped at Fort Howe, which is near my office.  It gives a great view of the city.  Winter is hanging on for dear life, so nothing has turned green yet.  The brown, dead grass, dark skies, and wind made for a somewhat depressing stop.