Friday, July 20, 2018

7ToF: This one really is short. Sort of.

1. If you see me going into an office supply store or turning down the office supply aisle at Target, could you please just go ahead and whomp me with one of those Loony Tunes baseball bats? Every time I open another drawer there are more pens and markers and tape and post-it notes and pads of paper. It’s a disease.

A small selection of the pens available at our house. Want some?
2. I spent twenty minutes today trying track down the Summer Off Right reading challenge on Instagram before I figured out that it was actually the Summer of Fright reading challenge (hard to tell when the hashtag is #summeroffright) and therefore not something I am interested in. Horror is the one type of book (and movie) that holds no interest for me. I value my sleep, thank you very much.

3. I really do try to support independent booksellers as much as I can. Just last week I had a shopping accident in UTown at one of their two indies. I make a point of seeking out independent bookstores and buying books from them when we travel, too.

4. But they can be so annoying. Not long ago I went to the indie that is in the next town north of us, about 12 miles away, and asked if they had Strange the Dreamer. The woman got a smirk on her face and said, "I'm sorry, we don't carry that kind of book." I realized that a) she had never heard of the book, in spite of it being a prizewinner and NYT bestseller, and b) she thought I was asking for a romance novel.

But isn't a romance novel (although as I told you last week, I haven't finished it yet, so maybe it turns into one, but it sure didn't seem like it at the place where I stopped). The main character's last name is Strange, and he is a dreamer. And anyway, would it be so hard to carry it even if it was a romance novel? If you're the only bookstore local people have, can't you carry what they want to read? Apparently not. So in spite of it being the only retail bookstore in a hundred mile radius of my house, I haven't been able to bring myself to go back. Snobs.

5. All of that was in preparation for telling you that I had a major book shopping accident on Prime Day at Amazon. Oh, my. As if I didn't already have a stack of forty books to read. At least. But I am such a sucker for a bargain, and they had all kinds of buy this book and get a credit toward another book deals going and so even though I bought about eight books (several of them for kindle), I think it ended up being less than $40. Speaking of sicknesses. Books and office supplies.

6. So tonight I get to do every reader's favorite part of planning for vacation: figuring out what books to bring. Because yes, next week we are on our way to Southern California for Dean's big family reunion. We get together with his immediate family (siblings and dad) every year, but we haven't been to the big aunts-uncles-and-cousins version in a long time. None of us are big fans of Southern California, but it is supposed to be gorgeous next week and the kids are all old enough that no one will expect to go to the (hot, crowded, expensive) theme parks, so maybe it will be OK.

7. Next week was the week I was planning to re-post a bunch of old posts in preparation for new discussions, but I'm not exactly sure I'll have time to get it set up before I leave. If posts start appearing next week, you'll know I got it worked out. If not, I'll be back again soon.

Have a great week, and think of us sweltering on 12-lane highways. Or alternatively, hanging out with a good book at the beach. :-)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Kitchen sink, because this post has a little bit of everything

1. You know how sometimes you run across a random object and you get practically knocked flat by memories and nostalgia? This week it happened to me with a box of hot chocolate packets. Since we live in the land of eight months of winter, when the kids were younger, I could not keep enough hot chocolate in the house. Every time they came in from sledding or skiing or even just school, they wanted hot chocolate. Even in high school they would dump a packet into their coffee. So whenever it was on sale, I bought a bunch. And of course you don't learn to buy less stuff when the kids are gone until suddenly it starts to pile up. I ran across a stash of three boxes of hot chocolate mix this week and it brought those days back so sharply it took my breath away.

2. I feel like I'm figuring some things out (finally) and I have to confess that the instigator of the positive changes I'm making is understanding more about my personality type. I know I keep harping on this, but it really has been helpful. The Enneagram thing-- I am enneagram #5, the Observer type-- has been the missing piece that has helped me put some things together. (for more posts about personality types, try the second half of this post and the first half of this one and this one. that's not even all of them.)

I still don't have my enneagram book, but the gist of what it said for number fives is that an observer's main area of growth is learning to break out of observer mode and participate to create the life you want. Obvious, right? But in a way, it was news to me-- I mean, of course if you had asked me I would have known that you need to participate in life, but I hadn't put that together with my natural reluctance to move out of my comfort zone, which is observing and analyzing.

3. The specific wording was something to the effect of "Fives naturally feel that they need to protect their inner resources by maintaining their distances as observers, but they need to understand that if they move out of their observer stance, there are resources and energy that will rise to meet them." The first time I read that, I stared blankly at the page and thought, "there are??? really? how come no one told me this?" So that's what started this latest round of positive growth. I may be almost 57, damn it, but I can still learn new things.

4. Example. Years ago, I was in a women's group that would pick a book and read through it together. We met weekly, and part of the meeting was check-in time, when each of us gave a brief summary of how we were doing. One of the reasons I immediately resonated with the type of Observer is because in situations like this, I always prefer to listen to everyone else rather than take my turn. I don't feel like I have anything to add-- not in a pathetic way, I just would rather listen than talk (until something sets me off and then you can't get me to shut up). So I always ended up going last, because really I didn't want to say anything at all.

At some point after many months of this, one of the women said to me that she thought it was unfair of me to always wait until last to take my turn as if I thought I was more important than everyone else. I was speechless, since she had so completely mis-read what was going on in my head. I don't remember what I replied, but I probably totally blew it because I didn't know what to say.

5. Now that I have a better understanding of being an introvert and an observer and a thinker (as opposed to a feeler) and an obliger, I have a better way of understanding the dynamics of what is happening in group situations like that. Although I still probably wouldn't know what to say to that woman (who actually stopped speaking to me and dropped out of the group shortly thereafter)(that's how I know I blew it). So I've been working on better ways to be part of a group, but it's hard for me to break out of the role of observer. Work in progress. But at least I understand better what is going on now.

6. OK, I goofed up. On Friday I told you about my sous-vide cooking adventures, and I told you perfectly cooked chicken breasts register 140 degrees, but I was wrong-- it's 150. And the package of chicken breasts I opened tonight said quite prominently on the label "Cook thoroughly to 165 for safety." So, use your own judgment. I'm still doing 150 because they turn out just right. If I die of salmonella poisoning, you'll know why.

Apologies to those of you who are email subscribed (as far as I know, I have no way to tell who you are), but I had to go back and fix that, and it took two tries. Also I forgot to tell you that sous-vide is pronounced "soo-veed." So now you know.

7. And I did not even come close to finishing my mini reading challenge-- I did finish Calypso, so I made it through four books, but then the boys came home a day early and I didn't finish the fifth one until yesterday.

This was supposed to be short because I didn't start it until 11:15pm on Monday night but it ended up long. I'm hopelessly wordy. Have a great day.

Friday, July 13, 2018

7ToF: awakened by cat fighting at the last minute

1. The biggest challenge of being home alone for a week? No, it's not the lack of conversation. No, it's not the tiny bit of worry I can't quite escape. It's the damn pets. The dog is bored to death. The cat just woke me up having a cat fight under the window. The chickens really, really want to wander the yard, in spite of the frequent appearance of the neighborhood fox and disappearance of another hen (we're down to three now).

2. But at least now that I'm awake, I've remembered that I completely forgot to write a Friday post, and since I can't go back to sleep, I might as well knock one out, right? At least it will be short. Probably.

3. The mini-reading challenge isn't going very well. I think I'll have finished five books by the time my boys get home, which would still be too much reading in a week except that a couple of them were really short. Have been listening to David Sedaris read his latest, Calypso, so if I drive somewhere tomorrow, I'll get that one done, and it is good. I think especially hearing him read it.

4. Can a book be too long? If there isn't enough plot to make it work, then yes, I think so, but sometimes I suspect I'm just a slacker. Why would I want to read a 700-page book when there are so many good 300-pagers? But this week's interesting read is a blog post by a guy who agrees with me, so it seems like a reasonable opinion instead of laziness: Farewell Inspector Lynley. For all the times I've finished a overly long book with draggy bits and really wished the editor had more guts.

5. Have any of you tried sous-vide cooking? (actually, I know at least one of you has!) It's this gizmo that looks like a stick blender but is really a water heater. It heats a bin of water to a temperature of your choosing and then you can cook food in it. Perfectly cooked chicken breasts have an internal temp of around 150 degrees (fahrenheit). If you bake them in a 350 degree oven, it's easy to overshoot and dry them out. But if you cook them in water that is exactly 150 degrees, it may take a little longer, but at least you know they won't get any hotter than 150. I got mine for Mother's Day, so I'm definitely not an expert yet, but I've turned out perfectly cooked chicken breasts several times and steak once. I'm a fan.

6. Except the meat comes out bland and colorless, because it hasn't been seared. So you can (esp in the case of steak) sear it after you're done. Pro-tip from my friend who has been doing this a lot longer than me: if you're going to sear it after, set the sous-vide for five degrees below the desired temp since it will be cooking further during the sear. If you have more hints, let me know.

7. My favorite bookstagram pic from this week (account @bookspate): Terry Pratchett's Wee Free Men. I was about to do a much more elaborate setup when i noticed that the wooly throw pillow on one of our living room chairs almost exactly matched the cover art. That was easy.

And that's it for me. Back to our regularly scheduled mayhem next week.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

At the movies: Tag

It seems to me that one of the keys to liking a movie is to go into it thinking you're not going to like it. So making a movie recommendation seems a bit counter-productive, because then you'll walk into it expecting great things, and inevitably you'll be disappointed. But I'm doing it anyway, because I went to see Tag this week with some friends, and it was really fun, way more fun than I was expecting it to be. The gist of the plot is that a bunch of guys in their forties have been playing a game of tag during the month of May since they were nine. Antics ensue.

Reasons I went to see Tag: 1) It is largely set in Spokane (pro tip: pronounced Spo-Can), and when you live in a big, sparsely populated state, a city that's a mere four and a half hours away is practically your next door neighbor. When we first moved here 26 years ago, back before we had Wal-Mart and Costco and Home Depot/Lowe's, everyone in town drove to Spokane a couple of times a year to stock up on whatever we couldn't get here locally. It was like living in pioneer times and driving your Conestoga over the pass (except it only took 4 1/2 hours).

2) At the end of the movie, when they show a photograph of the real men who inspired the movie, the guy in the priest duds really is practically a next door neighbor, since his parish is one town over from here, a dozen miles away. So of course, because this is still a relatively small town in spite of the fact that we now have all the above-mentioned stores plus two Starbucks (three if you count the one inside Target), there was a big spread about it in our newspaper.

and 3) there was absolutely nothing else I wanted to see (that I hadn't already seen) and we really wanted to go to the movies. So, it's fun. But probably not fun enough to have gone on and on about it. If you can manage it, go in with low expectations. You do wonder what the deal is with Jeremy Renner, because he is (of course) awesome at the action parts, but whenever he has to actually act, the scene goes flat. I love Hawkeye so this was disappointing to me, but it's possible they had to film around his busy schedule and none of them were in the room at the same time. Fair warning: lots of salty language, which doesn't bother me, but one of my friends was unimpressed.

I was going to do this as the first part of my Seven Things post for this week, but it got so long that I'm posting it separately.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

My mini-reading challenge, cliffhangers, and the thing I apparently can binge on

Well, you may just get Seven Things posts for the rest of the summer. It's all I've got the energy for. Because summer. And who's going to complain about that?

1. Dean and MadMax are on a week-long fishing trip in a remote location that involves a 22-mile hike from the trailhead to the river they're planning to float. Yikes. But they're experienced backpackers and floaters, and they're well-prepared, and they're part of a group of five, so I'm assuming that no news is good news.

2. This will be by far the longest I've ever been home alone. It will be interesting to see how I respond. I know I'm good for a few days, but it's entirely possible that by Wednesday or Thursday I will start hanging out at the mall just to see people. And the dog is already driving me crazy. She wants her boys back because they are way more fun than I am.

3. I've set up my own mini-reading challenge for the week. I want to see if I can read seven books in a week. I'll let you know how it turns out. They're mostly books that have been on my TBR list for months (even years), but I admit that I went through and picked books that were less than 300 pages, so it's not all that many pages, really. *cough*

4. How do you feel about books that end on cliffhangers? I've been burned by them often enough that I decided several years ago that I would not start another trilogy-or-similar until all the books were out. Which is why I still haven't read Game of Thrones, in spite of the rest of my family getting into regular conversations about various characters and plot points.

Or Patrick Rothfuss, who published the second book of his Kingkiller trilogy in 2011 and still hasn't announced the publication date of the third (or at least, not that I could find with a brief google search). Dean loves those books, and I'm pretty sure I will, too, once they're all out.

5. So before I started Strange the Dreamer (by Laini Taylor) last week, I checked for a cliffhanger, since the author has written a trilogy in the past. I couldn't find anything that said first in a new series, so I thought I was safe. Authors who write series also write stand-alone novels, right? But about halfway through, I saw someone on Instagram had posted a picture of it with the caption #worstcliffhangerever, and a several comments agreeing, and I dropped it in mid-read. Even though it was shaping up to be one of the best books I've read in a long time, with genuinely interesting characters and premise.

Fortunately I discovered a few days later that the next book in the series is going to be published this fall, so I can figure out what to do about it then. If you don't mind cliffhangers, highly recommend it. And if you read it, let me know what you think.

6. I read Zealot (Reza Aslan) last week, a book about trying to understand who Jesus really was. It's been out for several years, and at the time it was published (2013), it made a big splash as being boldly controversial. To be honest, I didn't think it was all that wild, but I didn't agree with him, either. If it's a topic that interests you, I wrote a review on Goodreads that you can read here.

7. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I wrote an entire post about how I can't binge read/watch books or TV series? Yeah. Well, be careful what you say. Just about every time I make a lame statement like that, I end up finding out it's not true shortly after (what do you want to bet that I end up reading a doozie of a cliffhanger by the weekend?). Because I discovered something I apparently can binge on, and it's podcasts. I've listened to so many in the past month that they're cutting into my reading time and everything else, and also I'm getting sick of them. So I think I'm going to stop listening to back-episodes and just listen to new ones as they come out.

And I really wish I had thought of something interesting to say..... maybe a few days from now when I'm desperate for conversation I will write a long post about something fascinating. Or not.

Monday, July 9, 2018

QoTD: things that matter

In the middle of a discussion of the Buddhist idea of emptiness and impermanence, Susan Murphy says:
And yet! Every being we love is irreplaceable and matters terribly. Personhood matters dearly. Character--or the way realization forms us and learns to walk upright in the world, in the most ordinary and understated way--matters, and the particular way clear action radiates out effecting change in ways that can't and do not need to be counted, this, too, is inexpressibly dear.
 -- Susan Murphy, in Red Thread Zen        

Resonates on several different levels at the moment, although I think sometimes muddled action can have similar results. I'm not reading this book straight through, I just pick it up at random when I'm in need of some thoughtfulness. So far, highly recommended.  

Friday, July 6, 2018

7ToF: Ding-a-Ling

1. I waited awhile to tell you about this to make sure I was going to stick with it, but I have a new hobby. Avocation. Fun thing to do. Back in February, a friend of mine invited/coerced/strong-armed me into join a New Horizons band, an organization devoted to giving senior citizens the opportunity to play in a concert band. Our local group is not just seniors, it's open to anyone interested. Skill levels range widely, from people who are quite accomplished but haven't played in years to people who know music but are learning a new instrument to people who have no prior experience at all.

2. The first night I was there, I was one of six flute players--which is four too many if you ask me-- and also the music was ....basic. But I've always secretly wished I was a drummer. So it occurred to me that I could learn a new instrument. I talked to the director, and later to the percussion section leader, and it turns out that all of their percussionists hate playing the bells. I can read bell music, and voilĂ , I am becoming a bell player.

3. It is so fun. If you haven't picked up a totally new hobby recently, I highly recommend it. You make new friends, it wakes up your brain, you learn a new skill. What's the downside?

4. But the funny thing is, I had to really push myself to make it happen. I worked up the courage to go talk to the conductor, which was hard enough. Then she wanted me to try clarinet, since they had a shortage of clarinet players. But I have no desire to play clarinet, just drums. So I had to push through my obliger feelings of I should fill the role they need me to fill, and get up the courage (again) to say, no, I really want to play the drums. It's surprising how hard that was to do. It literally felt like I was pushing through my reluctance to go against expectations.

5. But I did it, and now I'm taking private lessons once a week and going to band rehearsal once a week. The other drummers have been amazingly supportive and patient. So far, I've mainly played the bells, although I've filled in on crash cymbals and slapstick and triangle a time or two. I am learning to play snare drum, but since I have zero skills there, it's a much slower process than bells, where I have flute music-reading skills and long-neglected keyboard skills to draw on.

6. A strange feature of this is how weird it feels to publicly display my incompetence. I think probably most of us at midlife have stopped doing things we're not good at. It's a very strange feeling, and not one I like, to openly display my meager skills. But there I am every week at my lesson, stumbling through various exercises and simple songs. A weekly lesson in humility. As someone wise said, in order to learn to be good at something, you have to be willing to do it badly--and that's exactly where I am.

7. Wednesday we had our first concert since I joined. It was outdoors at a local historical home. They serve "free" ice cream on the Fourth of July (donations requested), so there were two hundred-ish people there for the ice cream to listen to us play various patriotic and nostalgic songs. It was really fun, and I managed to not embarrass myself. I forgot to tell Dean to take a picture, but here are my bells (on loan from the band, but I think I've convinced him to get me a set for my birthday).

So if you've got a secret longing to learn to weave, or make birdhouses, or bake bread, maybe now is the time to push through and do it.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, June 29, 2018

7ToF: Nerd Central

1. I thought it would be so fun to do book puzzles on my bookstagram account. The first one was books with numbers in the title, and I spent hours gathering up the obvious ones (1984, Fahrenheit 451, The Two Towers, Station Eleven) and combing my shelves for less obvious ones (The Thirteenth Tale, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Tenth of December, Hyperbole and a Half). I even created rules: the number had to be in the title, not in the subtitle; collections like Best American Short Stories with the year in every title didn't count; Stephanie Plum didn't count, because it would have taken all the space.

2. Perhaps not surprisingly, no one else thought this was as much fun as I did. Only two people bothered to respond, and no one took up my challenge to think of more (although I have to admit I took all the easy ones). When I told MadMax about it, he started laughing and said affectionately, Oh, Mom, you are such a nerd. (I'm sure he meant it in the nicest possible way.) I already had a list of possible future puzzles going before I posted, though, so I will probably keep doing it. I may put less time and effort into future versions, though.

3. Best outcome: I re-discovered Eight Cousins, by Louisa May Alcott, which I adored as a child and read several times. I always liked it better than Little Women, which-- to be honest-- I never read all the way through until I was in my twenties. But now I can't really remember either one, so I'm in the midst of a re-read. Thirty pages in, all I can say so far is that Rose (from Eight Cousins) is more of a prissy snob than I remembered, sort of like Amy in Little Women, but we'll see.

4. Not long ago I wrote about my obsession with finding the perfect tea. I mentioned that I always warm the cup before I put tea in it. My reasoning was that if my tea was made in a warmed cup, it would stay hot longer than it would if made in a cold cup, and I lose interest in tea (or any hot drink) once it's cold.

I decided to put that to the test. We have a motley assortment of mugs, but we do have two that are the same. So I pre-heated one with hot tap water, then heated water in the electric tea kettle and poured it in each cup. After one minute, the water in the pre-warmed cup was four degrees warmer than the other cup; after five minutes, the difference was three degrees. Not as big a difference as I would have thought. NOW YOU KNOW.

But being a creature of habit, I still made my cup of tea the same way this morning.

5. Once again I got in a discussion with some friends about genre fiction. It just astonishes me how anti-romance people are. And honestly, I think it's a completely false opinion. I'm pretty sure if I handed them one of my favorite romance novels and actually forced them to read it, they'd come back and say, that's not a romance novel! It's just a good story! And yet it IS a romance novel, and the problem is that they don't know what they're talking about because they've never read one. Or maybe the problem is, as one Book Riot editor realized in this week's Interesting Read, our culture's misogyny has created a disdain for romance.

6. But having said that, I have to say it's been a long time since I've read a current romance novel (published in the last couple of years) that I finished. I'm all in favor of occasional escapist reading, but all of the ones I've read recently have been of the fantasy type-- the hero is fabulously wealthy, drop-dead gorgeous, and his only faults are the adorable sort. And/or they're so insanely attracted to each other that there is almost no story besides their physical attraction. I'm good for one or two of those a year--they can be fun to read-- but that seems to be all that's being published these days.

7. Summer is here. I lose faith every single year--winter lasts so dang long, and then spring never really seems to come, and then suddenly it is gorgeous and I almost get teary-eyed when I go outside to feed the chickens. We had record breaking heat and then wildfires for most of last summer, so this year is especially appreciated. Here is the picture I snapped this morning, strategically aimed so that you don't have to look at chickensh!t (you're welcome)(Past the fence is our neighbor's field).

And that's it for me. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

yup, that nest is still empty

I halfway feel like I should apologize for that sad-panda post on Thursday, but you know what? It really helps. Writing stuff out and posting it works for me in a way that journaling does not. It helps me think things through, and it helps to see how people respond to it. So I guess occasionally you'll have to put up with it. Thank you. I feel better.

It occurred to me over the weekend that part of what I'm going through (still) is the long-term adjustment to being an empty nester. The short-term part of it, the month or two after each kid went off to college where I missed them intensely, was over pretty quickly. But the long-term transition away from devoting a signiticant portion of my time, energy, and attention to keeping track of their schedules and their school's events and their friends and their laundry and everything else-- I think I might still be working my way through that.

My kids were pretty independent even when they were still living at home. They managed their own homework and by the time they were seniors, they were driving themselves around. We didn't really see them all that much. But still there was always a part of me that was aware of what they were doing, when they'd be home, if they'd had dinner, when was the band concert, etc. Having all that energy back again is great (really great), but there's also a bit of a vacuum. Having a job for awhile filled the gap, but now I'm not working and I guess I'm back to figuring this out again.

Another aspect: I've been thinking about the distinction between being an introvert (someone who recharges via alone time) and being a lone wolf (someone who prefers to work alone). I am definitely an introvert, as I've told you ad nauseum, but I'm not a lone wolf. (I don't know enough about this to know if being a lone wolf is a subset of introverts, or if you can be an extrovert lone wolf??)

At work, I prefer to be part of a team. In fact, my perfect job situation would be to have my own office and yet still be part of a team that meets regularly and accomplishes work together, bouncing ideas off each other, vetting each other's work before it goes live/public/whatever, talking through things that aren't working, etc. I was lucky that for about six months that's exactly what this last job was. But then we moved into cubicles. If you have to work in a cubicle, as one of my colleagues still does, you have my utmost sympathy.

So it occurs to me that another part of the adjustment I've been going through recently has been the loss of my colleagues at work. I spent a year working every day as part of a team, so I'm not just missing the structure and the feeling of accomplishment you get from a paying job, I'm missing the feeling of being a member of a group. And since I'm an introvert, that's not something I can easily replace. I need to brainstorm some ideas on this. (Maybe starting with not grumping at my friends who want to be supportive when I'm feeling down. Just sayin.)

Remember awhile ago I told you that I am an Enneagram number 5? Fives are the observer type, and for observers, it can be hard, really hard, to push through the veil of observation to become a particpant in whatever's happening around you. Being part of a team at work makes this easier, because it just happens. You show up at work and boom! you're part of a team. But it's not so easy to make it happen on my own.

So, as always, work in progress.

Friday, June 22, 2018

7ToF: Will you help him change the world, can you dig it? yes I can

I've been waiting such a long time, for Saturday....
Listen children, all is not lost, all is not lost....

Love that song. Not feeling even slightly apologetic for putting it in your head, too.

1. I'm trying to stop reading on my Kindle. Only temporarily, because I love the thing, and there is nothing better for reading in bed at night. (We've discussed this before.) But I'm not reading the actual books that are sitting on my shelves, and there are a bunch I want to read. I'm so attached to my Kindle that this oddly feels a little scary. (how weird is that?)

2. My waitlist of e-books at our library's website has coincidentally come to a halt-- my next one is Amor Towle's Rules of Civility, which I'm supposed to get in six weeks, and the next half dozen are stacked up after that, so it's a good time to do this instead of rooting around for more kindle books to read.

3. This week's interesting column, from the UK version of Elle: I stopped eating carbs after 2:30, not because I think we should stop eating carbs at all, ever, but because of the discussion toward the end about how everyone processes carbs differently, and we each need to figure out our individual metabolism. I think this gets discussed way less often than it should be-- there is no one healthy way to eat that works for everybody. What looks like a healthy diet for you may not be healthy for me. And what worked for me twenty years ago is not going to work for me today. I guess the key is to pay attention to how my body responds to different things and figure out my own healthy way of eating.

4. Update: you may remember that a couple of months ago, I told you that I was going to try exercising more without dieting to drop the pounds I gained over the winter. I hate to weigh myself, but I thought this was working because my clothes fit again the way they did last summer, and I'm definitely stronger than I was when I started this. But then I had my annual physical this week, and not only had I not lost any weight, I'd actually gained some. I know, I know, muscle weighs more than fat and I can tell myself that the workouts are working and etc etc etc.

5. But at some point, I have to be shocked that I weigh within a few pounds of what I did when I was nine months pregnant with MadMax, and I gained forty pounds during that pregnancy. I am not a skinny person who is obsessing about a couple of extra pounds, I am a dumpy (plump?) 56-year-old who weighs more than 170. I really should not be carrying this much weight. So how can I work on this without a) obsessing about it, or b) beating myself up about it (because I got a thumbs up on everything else in my checkup, including all the bloodwork)(except I'm low on Vitamin D). I guess it goes back to the previous Thing: pay attention, and figure out what works for me.

6. And the most important Thing to remember: I have a basically healthy body that is taking good care of me. I need to continually remind myself of that-- to be gracious and thankful to my physical self for allowing me to be here--rather than to feel that stupid frantic sense of panic that I let myself feel all to easily-- how the hell did I get this heavy?? I'm a whale! I'm a disaster! No, actually, I'm not. On the whole, my body is coping remarkably well with the challenges of menopause.

7. I'm taking a Facebook vacation for the rest of the summer. I took about ten days off recently (partly because of being out of town), and when I went back to it, in ten minutes I was stressed and depressed. I do have my beloved groups there, so I won't be deleting my account or anything drastic, just taking a break.

Also due to my mental summer mode: I may not be posting regularly. Not sure about this yet, but I may ignore the usual Tuesday/Friday schedule, and get back to it after Labor Day. Also, at some point I am going to re-post the "Celebrating mid-life" posts from a couple of years ago (which, in spite of the name, are not always celebrations) so we can get started on that again.

And that's it for me. Hope you have a great weekend.