Never Too Old to Learn

Around mid-February, I became involved in a “group project”, if you will. Typically held 2x/month, we would meet and discuss very important subjects related to life, military, and anything else that came up. Our host served as a mediator of sorts, but there was no syllabus nor direction to our meetings. Throughout the past 6 months, give or take, we battled our group being involuntarily disbanded, technology issues once reunited, and an assortment of other small decisions impacting our ability to meet in person vs remotely. Shaky at best.

Looks different under bright lights

Now we’ve come to the end of our project. We tacked on a few extra months because the world went crazy. The question was posed what will we each do with the time we’ve spent devoted to attending? Suddenly we all have 90 mins back in our life – decisions, decisions. Perhaps I’ll write more or include an extra workout per week or solve world peace. The options are unlimited! Each of us has our own answer, but I think I might continue to make this date with myself. It’s already on my calendar. I could work; who does that? This time has already been carved out and I’m my best project anyway.

Now the sappy stuff. Without this project, I feel confident I would have eventually gotten to where I needed to be, but it wouldn’t have happened as efficiently. I certainly wouldn’t have made new friends. Although they may balk at my use of the word “friend”, I consider them such. Believe me, it’s almost impossible to share very intimate and uncomfortable details of my life with strangers and not consider them friends at the end.

K, a seat just for you

Dear K – Thank you for being raw and unapologetic. From day 1, your candor was refreshing. I will never know what it’s like to walk in your shoes, but you wear them so well. The work you’ve done in your life, the self reflection you employ, and the take-no-shit attitude you developed drove our group forward. The path your life has taken put you in this moment, I believe, for many reasons. Your heart is so big. The rescuer in me wants to take away the pain you experienced, the unfairness of giving many years to the military that eventually took so much, but you are strong and brave and I am honored to have met you.

DW, this sign led you here

Dear DW – Thank you for having the courage to join us. I have met many strong individuals, but you represent this project for those who often don’t come forward. There’s a deep appreciation of your work in recovery and the lessons you’ve shared with us. I’ve heard your stories of overcoming loss and navigating anger. These experiences paved the way for my own self-understanding. When you speak, I know I’m not alone. I have appreciated from afar what you stand up for, the grace you give your children, and the listening ear you provide to us. We began as strangers; I will never forget you.

Because of the two of you, I owe you each so much of me. My heart will continue to heal, my soul can sleep in safety, and the uniforms we served in will stand up for what we, and others, deserve. We are not victims; we are survivors.

In a turn of events, there will be no asking of you, my dear readers, for feedback on this post. I welcome your comments, but I choose to honor some amazing individuals in this moment. There is no question I have met some of the bravest our country has ever seen. For this, I am truly thankful.

Solid Work Takes Time

I like to manage projects, but I don’t always complete them in a timely manner.

Background: I bought an old chest approximately 11 months ago. Completion time: 11 months. Difficulty level: 2. Same issue, different project. Background: My dad custom built a shadow box for my Navy memorabilia. Completion time: (him) 1 month, max. (me) 24 months. Difficulty level: (him) 4. (me) 1.

Moral of the story: if you expect me to get things done in a hurry, please lower your expectations. But, on the bright side, I completed 2 projects this summer! For past information on the chest renovations, you may visit this post: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/running-on-fumes.blog/776.

Now I have the utmost pleasure to reveal…..Ta-Da!! He completed it and I (finally) filled it. Better late than never, right?

As for the chest, in my defense, I was solely responsible for the stripping, sanding, painting, re-assembling, and decorating, among other woodworking things. I didn’t want to rush it lest I mess something up. And when I started it, I was working a million hours a week so naturally the time I could devote was a small fraction of what is available to me now. I mean anything can be an excuse, right? Overall, I’m super impressed by my own work. The simple understatements of the chest serve my purpose. My mini aptly refers to it as a treasure chest and our next project is to find and paint a miniature version just for her.

Stand by to stand by.

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I ask you –

Who built it better: dad (shadow box) or me (chest)? My feelings won’t be hurt. I’m blessed to have a dad who is both handy and creative. He made my vision come alive.

On average, how long does it take you to complete a project?

Ideas for my next project(s)?

Collections of Collectibles

So much more than displayed

I believe everyone, young and old alike, share an inherent need to collect things. No? Just me? It’s fascinating why we do this. There’s a premise called “concept of collecting” which allows us to relive our childhood, among other reasons. For me, this is very true. As a child, I regularly visited my paternal grandparents in the Dallas, TX area. Somewhere along the lines of age 7, my ‘Granddaddy’, as we called him, settled on I Love Lucy for me to watch. The very first episode I saw was “Lucy’s Italian Movie” (Season 5, Episode 150). I was hooked!

Black & White, just like I watched it

I can’t name my favorite episode because I truly love them all. May I mention I do a great impression of “Lucy Does a Commercial”, specifically Vitameatavegamin? I even crack myself up!

Thankfully, my family really encouraged my collecting habits of all things I Love Lucy. Presently I own posters, photos, glassware, trinkets, movies: both VHS and DVD, and any other memorabilia you can think of. I have it all. The few photos I have included here are but a minimal illustration of the huge totes and areas in my home showcasing how much I love Lucy.

Every episode

Even thought I named this post “collection…”, I really have only one other thing I collect. Clocks. Warning! Although it may not be funny to you, in writing this post I realized the importance of spell check because if you miss a particular letter in the word clock and then proceed with explaining how you collect them, perhaps this blog format is not doing you any favors. I don’t remember what prompted my love for clocks – spell check don’t fail me now – but I own more than is acceptable in most rooms. Who wants a clock in every room? Me! I do!

Truth be told, only a small percentage of my clocks are in working order. And even if they are I usually remove the batteries. The times are set to important dates in my life, i.e. birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Neurotic? Probably. Creative? I like to think so.

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I ask you –

Favorite childhood cartoon?

What do you collect?

Is my crude humor too much? Nevermind. This isn’t a real question. Rhetorical at best. Forget I asked.

Well, this wasn’t included in the brochure

Until recently – shortly over a year ago – is that considered recent? I don’t know – home ownership was only a future possibility. Yes, it was always my dream and something I envisioned would happen eventually, but it was on the medium-to-long-term list. Semi-suddenly, the possibility of moving back to our home state was a very real decision and one we literally jumped at.

Texas, my Texas

Fast forward to today: home owners! But it’s been a rocky ride. For example, no one explained how much work goes into owning a home. It was easy to be complacent when we knew the landlord was only a phone call away and was legally required to fix whatever issue was in question. Now? If I was to pick up the phone and call myself, it makes sense why I refuse to answer!

No one explained to me potential issues. I mean, how could they?! No one shared the underlying expenses. Grass seed. No one gave me a list of all the things that could go wrong. Hello, $700 water bill. No one will be at your beck and call. See “calling myself’ above.

Am I complaining? Yes, but good naturedly, I promise! Investing in something to call my own, to watch my mini grow up in, to be a reflection of my personality and lack of decorating technique: priceless. Until I see the mortgage statement each month. Holy crap. But when I consider the amount of money paid in rent each month for the past, oh, 15+ years, I could have paid for a whole house. Well, back in those days when a house didn’t take 30 years to pay off. Again, I’m not complaining! Just a little.

The real story here is new appliances. Rightfully considered an investment, the available options are overwhelming. Colors, sizes, functions, and the list goes on. Thankfully we bought a home which included all appliances, minus a washer/dryer. Being the realist I am, I fully expected to purchase other appliances as the need arose. So within the first 3 months, we installed 2 new water heaters. I concurred the idea of waking up to a water-logged floor because the over 10 year old water heaters had leaked/exploded/whatever water heaters do when they die was not in my best interest. Price tag: $1200.

Then came the above mentioned water leak issue. I hope you’re seeing a pattern because I’m not done yet. After getting over the initial shock the bill wasn’t a cruel joke, we discovered the culprit. An underground water leak the previous owners probably knew nothing about because they had been paying the minimal water bill while the house was vacant for over a year. As angry as I was about the bill, I was more worried about my home sitting atop an underground swimming pool I didn’t have the luxury of splashing in. Excuse me, where’s the ladder to enter said pool? Price tag: $1800, not including water bill.

Enter my superstitious mind. The power of 3. Approximately 2 months ago, the refrigerator began spewing ice upon kindly asking it to please drop a select number of cubes into my glass. The spoiled nature of this story can not be overlooked. I guess it just had enough of being nice as ice cubes continued to flow from its confines, long after my glass was full. I must share my mini human has a fantastic sense of humor because watching me panic and yell and rush to find a large vessel to collect all the ice was quite comical to her. Even I laughed at what I thought was my own look of utter defeat. In an honest effort to remedy this error, I cleaned and consoled the refrigerator. Begged is more like it. For a time, we figured out how to get ice without the excessiveness. And I began shopping around because I know my luck.

6 weeks later, ta-da! Shipping delays, par for the course.

My first choice was the ocean

Did I mention I own lake-front property? I’ve already encountered my 3 water-related issues. So I should be good now, right? But, just in case, I have great flood insurance. Superstition only takes me so far.

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I ask you –

What was your biggest surprise upon owning a home?

Barring the differences, or because of them, do you have a preference: rent or own?

Share your favorite story of appliances gone wrong!

About Blogging

Fancy yet simple

Do you know the hardest part about blogging? The photos!

I can write all day long. In fact, I do. There’s no shortage of things for me to endlessly elaborate on. But pictures? Are they even required?

In short, yes? Some? Ugh. This is hard.

Occasionally I use stock photos. Now, I know no one wants to hear that, but it’s the truth. Sometimes I don’t have time to take the photos I want; other times I feel like I keep repeating what I’ve already done. There’s only so many flower photos, people. Barring using the crazy self photos I take at the gym or after I run, it requires a conscious effort to include well thought out photos in each post. Believe me, no one has ever accused me of being well thought out hahaha

Somewhat miss these days

In the meantime, I try to keep these posts relevant and fun. If you have ideas for a post or a subject you’d like my take on, let me know! I’d like to say my door is always open… but I’m scared of the dark – yes, seriously – and it keeps the bugs out.

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I ask you –

Fellow bloggers, what do you do for photographic content?

Any takers for the photography position I have available? Volunteer work only.

Enjoy the first week of June! Somehow we made it this far!

Some things

Reading of other great moms and parents who devote themselves to their children’s artistic and mind-blossoming activities, I decided to jump on the proverbial bandwagon. I promptly fell off. In January, we began asking my knowledge-thirsty, small human what her favorite part of the week was. Each Sunday, I pose the question, then draw her memory on a much-too-small piece of paper, date it, then drop it into the unicorn bucket. Mostly, she recalls whatever was done within the past 48 hours; occasionally she surprises me with something from earlier in the week. Let’s be real. It’s my job to remind her of the week’s highlights then she chooses.

I believe it’s going well! The plan is to read all 52 weeks sometime around New Years. Give or take. The joke has become “She tried her best!” I’m the ‘she’ and, yes, I do my try my best but clearly I’m no artist.

My animals look like their evil counterparts and even the stick figures are lacking in depth. I can draw a really great tree, though! Is there anyone who can’t? Nonetheless, maybe I’ll look back on this upon the great unveiling of each week and see how my skills have improved. Just in case, I’m not holding my breath. You shouldn’t either.

Bring on the tacos!

Anyone else have a love affair with cilantro? I absolutely understand it’s a love/hate relationship with this particular greenery. You either believe it is heaven sent or it is what one may envision Dawn dish soap tastes like. I’m of the former. Small favors. Interestingly enough, there was a short period in my life where I was an unwilling participant in cilantro’s soapy side effects.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved cilantro. Raw, in foods (hello, salsa!), I would eat it to my taste buds’ content. However, during pregnancy, and unbeknownst to me, something awful happened. As I sat down to eat one night, I placed a heavy dose of cilantro on my taco, took a bite, and probably made the worst face of my life. Hubby, who can’t stand cilantro in any form, looked appalled. As I stuttered and mumbled along the lines of “It tastes like soap”, I registered complete sadness. I wanted to cry. How could my beloved cilantro turn on me? And during my time of need!

For many months post-pregnancy, I recounted the terrible taste, afraid to try it again. What if it never returned to normal? As anticlimactic as this post is, it should be clear now that my love for cilantro returned. I’ve never had another soap experience. Hallelujah. But all this does lend itself to the fascinating way our bodies and hormones work together.

So what’s the moral of the story? Draw pictures, laugh at yourself, and, for the most daring, try cilantro again.

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I ask you –

Do you have any talents, hidden or otherwise?

Name your most/least favorite vegetable.

Thoughts on cilantro? Bonus points if you’ve been through a similar situation.

Little Things – They Make the Days Go By

Broken record alert. I’m over this. They days all run together and most of the time I don’t know what part of the year we’re in. Oh, look. It’s still March. Wait. April? Great.

Within the past year, I switched from half-caff coffee to a full blend. Turns out I really love Starbucks Blonde Roast. Incredible smooth with this great, deep taste. Mmmmm, so good. However, spending more time at home lends to multiple cups of coffee each day. By accident, one night I realized I was having a tough time falling asleep. This is pretty unusual for me because I’ve had an 8:30pm bedtime since I was a child and my body naturally finds this rhythm no matter how old I am. I’m serious. 8:30. I’ve always been an early riser; my quiet time in the mornings is precious and not to be disturbed. So I was somewhat put off by my inability to fall asleep. Until I realized the culprit: the 3 cups of coffee I’d had that day.

The more I pondered, the more I recognized each day was starting to become the norm for several cups of coffee. Interestingly, the reason I was drinking half-caff was because I had an issue with too much caffeine. Caffeine sensitivity, if you will. Too much caffeine makes me shaky, my heart starts racing, and I’ve passed out on occasion. Not a pretty sight. I don’t drink sodas or energy drinks; I love hot tea but limit consumption to 2 cups/day max. Imagine my surprise and suspicion when it turned out I was ingesting a lot of caffeine via coffee. But instead of downsizing or decreasing the amount of coffee I drink daily, I’m experimenting with making sure I drink said coffee earlier in the day and not within a few hours of bedtime. I’ll keep you updated!

Dalgona Coffee, all the craze

Disclaimer: I don’t drink black coffee. Oh no. I enjoy a hybrid of classy, expensive drinks and keto-accepted beverages. My coffee includes 3 ingredients: coffee (you don’t say!), heavy cream, and sugar-free syrup. It’s keto-approved and tastes incredible! There’s a certain brand I’m partial to; others just taste like sweet nothing.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my happy place. The kitchen! Trying out new recipes is both rewarding and disappointing. Sometimes they work; other times they don’t. Much like relationships. I think what is most difficult is accepting that no matter how much you want it to be all the hype it doesn’t. For example, the next photo.

AKA yucky cake

Truthfully, it wasn’t yucky. But it won’t be winning any Best in Show awards. The recipe had major flaws to start with and I probably shouldn’t have trekked on when I noticed them. Ever the optimist. “I can make this work!” Even coming from a reputable cookbook, perhaps the writer was having a rough day. Some ingredients were left out of the instructions leaving me to guess where they should be placed. I do have a great background in recipes, but this one was something else. Maybe next time this Butter Pecan Sheet Cake will turn out as intended. Or I’ll just stick with what I know and love.

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I ask you –

Any new trends you’ve been indulging in?

What’s your favorite cake or sweet-something recipe? Want to share the recipe with me?!

How often do you try out a new idea or do something you’re not accustomed to?

Where the Red Fern… can’t be found?

As the frustration sets in and I find myself pacing the halls somewhere between bedtime and when I actually fall asleep, it’s not so much not going anywhere, it’s the realization that I can’t. Perhaps this is what a caged tiger feels. Restless, getting angrier, trying hard to find peace and thankfulness yet locating none.

Photo Credits: @a.c.sparks and @jmstormquotes – photo link available at https://www.instagram.com/p/B-wiMynHNMY/?igshid=1c6p510nkjx82

After a lengthy email to my own city council, I was rewarded with a personal reply and an acknowledgement I had been heard. Disclaimer: personal opinion only. Under our county/city order, we have been prevented from purchasing flowers, both seeds and anything in the growing process. Allowed are seeds and plants that produce food sources, i.e. fruits and vegetables. My email clearly states I’m disappointed in this decision because if you expect me to stay home, then at least give me something to beautify my surroundings! How are liquor stores deemed essential but nurseries not? Very clearly I was not the only one with this complaint.

As I made my way within a local big box retailer with receipt of the newly established permission to purchase beautiful growing things, I encountered a very nice employee who stated only one customer at a time allowed on the patio. She also triumphantly shared with me this news: I was the very first person desiring to do so since the revised order. What?!? Did no one else want to plant flowers? Their loss. My shopping cart began to overflow with greenery – half price greenery, I may add – because some were looking sad and unkept with very dry soil and rapidly dying blooms. It needed me!

The moral of the story is this: as we take care of each other, let us not neglect ourselves. If you want flowers and are restricted, reach out. What’s the worst that could happen? No? Please note: I’m not saying purchase, beg for, and borrow every damn pot you can find, fill it with whatever strikes your fancy, and leave it lying around another’s yard until they began to feel like a de facto nursery themselves. I can name a few culprits. I’m also not saying it’s your job to rescue every budding plant like this is your ticket to the Pearly Gates. Perilously close to naming above mentioned culprit. My point is to advocate for what you want. This was truly a need, but I’m not arguing semantics.

What’s left to say here? Beats me. I just write a lot of nonsense. Oh yes. Go forth and plant flowers! But not too many. And only at your own home.

May you all find beauty in your surroundings.

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I ask you –

Am I the only one advocating for flower sales?

Are alcohol sales truly “essential”? I will concede this. For some, it might be yes.

Know any flower hoarders? Do tell!

The Show Must Go On!

With a string of birthday months piled together, my house has seen so much partying! And it probably wishes they would end promptly. Spring is a very busy time: thunderstorms, flowers, parties, and whatever else we can get into.

Decoration skills: sub-par

The real deal is in April though. That’s when my mini me celebrates her rapid inclusion into the aging community. We may only be in the single digits and we haven’t progressed from one hand yet, but her attitude and independence tell a different story. Nonetheless, the show must go on!

Contrary to our plans for a huge get together, a smaller gathering was agreed upon. And by small I mean very very small. Seems the world had other plans for us. Run with it. But with the addition of unicorns, cake, and a photo prop wall, I think we achieved success! Small people just love the surprise of it all anyway. It was a magical day!

Unicorn Princess

Since her birthday was a weekday, she was treated to multiple celebrations! The weekend included a party and the weekday involved making cupcakes and pink jello! Oh, to be young again. Not to mention gifts galore. I must say my birthday was incredible – surely hers could be considered over the top.

Unicorn Princess, take 2

Until next year. 5 is a milestone, right? She seems to think so already.

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I ask you –

How much fun are children’s parties?

Do you prefer homemade cake or store purchased?

We’re accepting virtual happy birthday accolades! Send them all!

Next Up!

Rock climbing

Sometimes I write entire posts in the blissful space between falling asleep and dreaming. Often there’s an internal struggle: should I get up to actually type these words or will I remember them the next day? The answer is always the same. I fall asleep, then spend the next morning attempting to re-create what my sleepy mind so eloquently said in monologue. Never fails.

In this short space of unemployment, rest and relaxation have helped with creativity. Or forced it. Whichever. I’ve tried some new recipes. Decorated and rearranged a whole bedroom. Cleaned a bunch of sh*t. And finished an art project. Not bad for a self-proclaimed non creative person. I’m doing pretty well!

Semi-return to Keto

I also worked out almost daily. Built some muscle. Gained a few necessary lbs. And took walks outdoors with the soothing sounds of nature and angry birds. I’ve made appointments, attended appointments, and considered joining a yoga studio. I’m zen in my short-lived creativeness! Minus those pissed off birds.

There’s something to be said for time on your hands. Nowhere to be; no time clock to punch. Waiting on others can be a lesson in futility. Or a blessing in disguise!

Now let me see what that weightless class is all about. Suspending myself from the ceiling via a sex swing-looking contraption sounds like so much fun. Gotta go!

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I ask you –

How often do you find yourself with extra time on your hands?

Bet you also wish you remembered some of the greatest things thought of before falling asleep, right?

Cookies: favorite kind?