Tuesday, August 31, 2010

That Was Then, This is Now

Yesterday was a nice, comfortable day. I went to regular yoga practice today, but my back was twinging a bit. I manifest stress in my lower back, so I spent most of the class just doing gentle stretches to try and loosen things up a bit. It helped some. In the evening as I was heading out for a ride in the park, I made a different shoe choice. I decided to wear a pair of athletic/fashion shoes (my new travel shoes) rather than my usual running shoes. Boy, could I tell a difference immediately. These shoes had a much thinner sole and it really threw me off AND I felt it in my back at once. So I took it pretty easy and just rode the flats in a leisurely way.

While riding, I began to think about how much of the hoarding habit I had either inherited or adopted. I used to shop for entertainment, out of boredom and because I was raised to believe that every occasion called for a new outfit. Now I didn't stay in this aspect of the disease for very long, but I loitered far too long in the bad housekeeping realm. It just all seemed too overwhelming.

Looking back on it, housekeeping was just not something we did with any sort of regularity. Beds weren't made, dishes weren't done, meals weren't prepared, clothes weren't put away. We kept our underwear in a kitchen drawer. I am not assigning blame here, I'm just saying that I never got in the habit/learned any sort of habits at all. And when there was "cleaning", it was just frustrating, as one couldn't clean around all the stuff. I guess I spent so many years focused on the spending/wasting money half of this devil, that I never really saw the other part - the keeping of all this stuff and how many of these behaviors I had.

Where I had my worst time as an adult was with the decluttering and I guess it was probably a set of beliefs that I'd adopted as a reaction to the spending. I'd spent money on these things and the frugalista in me had a hard time letting things go. It was with time that I was able to pare down, declutter and it began to be possible for me to keep a decent enough house. Prior to the decluttering, it was just all to overwhelming, but yet I had a difficult time figuring out that this, like so many other things in my life, was of my own doing. Yet another case of being my own worst enemy.

Cut to last Friday night, a girlfriend was just driving by and called me on a whim and wanted to hang out. I said "Come on up". And in three minutes, she was knocking at my door. There was no panic, no stash and grab, no shame and no anxiety. Even when my house was company clean, I still suffered residual anxiety from just having someone else in my home. Not anymore.

I believe that my whole belief or notion that I am a loner stemmed from this issue. I took the circumstances I was in and modified my needs to fit. It's funny how I held on to that for years - turns out to be completely false. I am not a loner, I do like people and I love entertaining them in my very own home - all 500 plus square feet of it.

Don't get me wrong - I'm still not a fastidious house keeper. Life is too short to be THAT concerned about the minutia. And when I'm in the kitchen, well, Katie bar the door! There's a scene in Julie and Julia where Julia is chopping a mountain of onions and the pieces are flying. When Bick saw that scene, he just cracked up laughing, as that's what I am like in the kitchen. No telling where things will end up. I make a total wreck of a kitchen, which always made Bick antsy, so he handled clean up. Unfortunately, he was married to the world's best wall-washing-every-month, hands-and-knees-floor-scrubbing ex-wife so he had an unreasonable set of expectations :-) I made short order of that! I offered to hire in extra help, but I will never be THAT kind of housekeeper.

Today is pre-procedure, so no real food for me. It's a yogurt day until 6pm and then it's clear liquids from then on. Pebbles is coming over tonight to hang out (need to remember to tell her to eat before arriving!) and is bringing movies to watch. I think I'll get her to color my hair, as it is much easier to have someone else do it. Maybe we'll just play beauty shop tonight.

ETA: I start salsa dance lessons on Tuesday! Aye carumba

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Are your truths really true?


August Round-Up

Here's some randomness for August.

Ending weight 140.5. Starting weight 139. Weight range through the month - 138 through 143.

Logged my food for 17 days. Logged planned exercise for 9 days. Logged my weight for 18 days.

I was about half here for August. Not a stellar month, but it was a month filled with work issues, family and property issues and a vacation. I'm still in goal range on weight, so I'll take it and know that without some recovery in a variety of areas, it would have been worse. Anything else would be expecting perfection from an imperfect person.

I am late to everyone else's bandwagon, but let me hop on for the Flat Out breads. I bought the lite Italian last week and I've enjoyed them very much this week. I only use half a time (45 calories), crisp them up in the oven, and put my egg-beaters and vegetables on them for breakfast. Yummy! Tonight's dinner will be a Flat Out Pizza with tomatoes, fresh basil and a bit of cheese. This has certainly added a nice crunch to my life in a way that doesn't make me want to eat the whole package at once. Always a danger for me.

I should start tracking my ice cream consumption. I've fallen into a bad habit with this one. If I stay out of my car and on foot, I stay away from the ice cream. Something to remember. I'm not beating myself up over this, but I can count the times I've had ice cream last week on one hand and not have any fingers left over.

I am grateful for Erica and her offer to send me a book she had just read. It has helped me so much in dealing with the situation with my Mom.

Last night was another "clean up" night and it was not pleasant. She cannot make herself leave while anything is being moved or touched, as we might throw something away that she might need later or has value. The problem is, everything to her has meaning and value. Through reading the aforementioned book, it allows me to get not quite so frustrated with being yelled out when I am trying to discard an almost empty tube of lotion amongst a sea of other lotions. It allows me not to respond when she's raving about how could she ever have given birth to two meaner people. I did get to see some examples of how the mind of an afflicted person works, as outlined in the book. It's like she has ADD. And none of this is a function of age, per say. I think it's more a function of the progression of the disorder. Truly, I am grateful to have had a bit of insight into this mess before tackling, well, this mess. I am still sticking to my plan of solving only what is mine to solve. I don't have the power, knowledge or skills to do anything else. I am undecided as to whether I even name the problem to her. I'll read more and think about it.

I did tell my sister that I thought that was her problem. And she agreed, but seemed so resigned to it. And this was when we got a few minutes together out of Mom's sight and only because we move faster than she does. She followed us every step.

So yes, I think a lot of my malaise is as a result of this underlying issue that's been around for most of the month. Well, the issue has been around for decades, but I am forced to deal with a part of it. And the truth is, I'd rather avoid this. And I also realized last night that the situation would be much, much worse if my sister wasn't around. Oh, it's still not-good-at-all, but if left to her own devices, well, it could probably get news-worthy pretty quickly.

Oh, well. Enough of that. We are making some progress. I think one more week and I can actually have contractors come out and see enough to give me some bids. There will still be lots of work needed to be able to have enough room to move the appliances out of the kitchen.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Take good care of yourself. It bears repeating.


Monday, August 30, 2010


On my way home from Bick's yesterday, I listened to a wonderful radio broadcast. One of the main topics was what really makes us happy and there was one quote that I think is so true:

"last year's want becomes next year's need"

When we take what we have for granted, it ceases to bring us pleasure. The whole gist of the story was to stay in a grateful and mindful state of mind. The interview subject said he wrote down one gratitude each day and he tried never to repeat. He said it helped him be more in the moment and not awaiting the next thing, whatever that may be.

The entire radio was a great reminder of all that I have to be grateful for. I had a really wonderful ride on Saturday, as noted. Then I headed up to have some ribs and brisket that Bick had prepared - his best EVER! But I do think that I sort of offended him, as I really wasn't that hungry and didn't eat that much. A really good long workout will quell my appetite for the day. Unfortunately, it comes back with a venegence the next, but that is just how my body seems to work. I did get some ribs and brisket sent home in a care package to enjoy this week. Yummy!

Nice weekend. No big shakes, watched some movies and hung out until it was time for me to head back to The Closet. My schedule is a little skewed today, but I'm off to the gym to do something, as I won't get to ride tonight. Another clean-up night at Reata South.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. What are you grateful for?


Saturday, August 28, 2010

30 miler

Just completed my first 30 miler this morning - actually 31.24 according to map my ride. It would have been just 30, but I got a little lost! The street names on the online map didn't complete match those on the actual streets so I took a bit of an uphill detour. But on my way back, I saw where other cyclists were turning and just followed them.

This new stretch of the road actually follows the lake and opens me up for another 15 miles of what is, for me, more hills than I am used to. But I am going to gradually add to my distances over time. I did talk to Pebbles this morning and she is going to take Cha-Cha in for a checkup next time she is over here, which will be Thursday.

Which I am dreading. I'm having the guess-what-you-are-turning-50-and-you-need-this-routine-but-invasive-test on Thursday. Pebbles has agreed to be my designated driver on this escapade and while she's here with her handy dandy haul anything vehicle, she's going to take Cha-Cha in for a tune up, too. One of us is slipping - this should be getting easier and not feel like it's a bit harder.

Last night ended up being an impromptu blast. I had planned to ride with my city's non-confrontational version of those group mass bike rides. I was home and all dressed and ready to hop the bus with Cha-Cha to go to the start. And yes, I'm well aware of the irony, idiocy, whatever of taking the bus to a bike ride, but I do not feel safe riding on the streets (major thoroughfare and I'm too slow) to get there and the walkway on the bridges are too narrow and too dangerous to ride upon, imho. So, I'd decided to take the bus. There were three buses scheduled to come by and each carries a bike rack with room for two or maybe three bikes. Figured I'd try to grab the first available, but still have options in case they were already full.

Just as I was about ready to leave, it finally struck me that the whole ride wasn't safe for me, as it would go until 9pm and I still don't have lights for me or for Clementine. So much for that idea! Safety first. It would have been fun. I've seen pictures from other such events here in town and they look very family friendly.

But before I could even get disappointed, one of my GNO friend's called me and said that she didn't want to go home yet - could she come hang out with me and so we did. Had a great time - tried out a new restaurant for which I had just purchased a groupon - how fortunate was that? And then we went to the ice cream sandwich place and had a bit of ice cream and a warm cookie and people watched! It was great fun! I do, however, need to throttle back on the ice cream.

Except for one thing - she left and I was getting ready to go to bed when I realized that we had accidentally, but dramatically under-tipped our waiter! I was mortified! So I put my shoes on, walked back down to the restaurant, found him, apologized and gave him an extra-generous tip because of our stupidity (actually, we were just so involved with talking, etc. that we weren't paying attention). All in all, a lovely evening. I love being on the street at these little sidewalk tables. Last night the weather was lovely and people were just wonderful. We talked to people walking down the street, at ours and neighboring restaurants. Wonderful summer evening!

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Scope out your environment.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Tool Time by Tena

Tena totally saved the day - or specifically, my upcoming ride on Saturday morning. I must also give Slater props for trying. He stayed on the phone with me for about a half hour as I tried to configure the pump in such a way to make it work. I even drug out my tool kit, which consists of a hammer, one screwdriver and a set of tweezers. The pump had had come apart in the flattening event of the day before and I didn't really pay attention to the fact that it could go back together in a variety of ways. Anyway, I could only get the thing to latch on one time and I think the difficulty was the size of the pump and the spokes getting in the way. Slater has promised me lessons the next time he's over here.

But Tena saved the day by sending me the YouTube video that showed how to remove the front tire off the mountain bike. I'd noticed that I had a quick release front tire during yesterday's debacle, but wasn't willing to try to disassemble the front brakes. Tena's video link showed me exactly how to do it, so when my attempt at telephone tech support failed, I watched the video a time or two, determined that the bike couldn't really be any more out of order than it was now - plus, Bick had promised to come into town and haul Cha-Cha to the vets if necessary, so with that, I clicked apart the front brake mechanism and pulled the front tire. Easy, peasy. Threw it in the back of MalibuKen and headed for the gas station.

Filled the tire up with some purchased air, went next door and bought myself an ice cream cone (.49, I'll have you know) and came home damned pleased with myself.

Yesterday was also the return of my favorite yoga instructor. She'd taken several months off, but returned to offer her specialty - adult naptime yoga. Seriously, if more people attended classes like this, the world would be a better place. It's just so relaxing and centering and, well, I could go on and on. This is yoga for the mind. The body is just there to give gravity something to do.

Looking forward to the weekend. Nothing on tap, which is a problem, but I've got a couple of ideas. Oh, and this fun thing that I hope comes through - my GNO girlfriends are proposing a series of salsa dance lessons! I'm so in. I hope they have a remedial class!

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Get by with a little help from your friends.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Paving The Road With Good Intentions

Yesterday turned out to be laughable, which considering my mood of late, was an improvement. The day was okay, but I managed to get through the day without any of my planned exercise.

First up - the gym at lunch. I remembered my ID, but was almost at the gym when I realized I was taking my lunch bag, rather than my gym bag. So, I turned around and went back for my gym bag. Did the bag switcheroo and headed back for the gym, only to have the rain begin. My umbrella? In the lunch bag. I was scheduled to have a photo taken later in the day and didn't want rained-on-hair, so I just headed back to the office with the thought that I would take Cha-Cha out for a spin later in the evening.

Later in the evening - I'm home and all dressed for cycling. Then I remembered that I thought Clementine Peddleford felt a bit low in the front tire and that might explain my dogged ride yesterday, so I pulled out my never-before-used-bicycle-pump-with-more-stem-options-than-I-could-possibly-identify to give her a lift. End result? Front tire completely flat and the valve stem pushed up under the rim. It is so time for some bicycle maintenance lessons. In the meantime, I've got to try to figure out how to get Cha-Cha to some sort of repair shop. I tried to take off the front wheel, but it appears that would require some dis-assembly of the front brake structure and I am not going there.

Much later in the evening and I still hadn't had any exercise that day. I've been meaning to get some more reading in, so I just decided to take my book and head over to the gym at The Closet and at least treadmill and read. So I packed up and walked over there. Forgot my glasses and I'm incapable of reading without them. I did end up spending some time on the elliptical but got no reading done. And before I screwed things up anymore, I just went to bed.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. When you find yourself in a hole, put down the shovel.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Change In The Weather

I was surprised by the cool front that blew in yesterday. Dropped a ton of rain for about an hour or so and dropped the temperature by about twenty degrees. I knew that I must take advantage of it, so I went home and hopped on Cha-Cha for a ride in the park.

While the temp was low, the humidity was pretty darned high, so the ride wasn't as good as I'd hoped. My legs felt like lead, but they pretty much always do when I start out, but yesterday they just stayed that way. I was looking forward to that "whee" feeling, but I didn't get it. Oh, well. It was still a nice ride and I saw some different wild and not-so-wild life. I saw a pack of raccoons that were adorable, but scary at the same time. I was riding on a trail in a wooded area and happened upon them. But the scariest thing I saw - is the newly elected Mayor of PissyMoodVille (I've been demoted to merely a city council member) - a big old domestic goose that was IRRITATED that I was riding on the path that His/Her Honor wished to cross. He/She lowered her head, stretched out her neck and made a charge! I just peddled around.

Change of subject - Maintenance. I've been trying out some lower numbers this summer in an effort to determine what is reasonable and sustainable for me. I don't know that I have a specific goal weight in mind, but I think I'd like to establish 142.5 as my high end. I'd like to weigh below that. I seem to be able to sustain this weight and still live a non-restrictive life, if I keep the stupid stuff in check.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Cool down.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Powerless Over People, Places and Things

Last night's trip to Reata South was an exercise in frustration for all concerned. Nothing dramatic happened, but I came to realize that I STILL think I can help fix this. I cannot. Neither of them want to let go of anything. Mom turned out to be unwilling to leave and therefore, not much got accomplished. My Sister's willingness to defend Mom's position on this has me baffled. Oh well. I will assist with the boxing up of stuff to move stuff out of the kitchen. It will be stacked elsewhere. Where it goes is none of my concern. I am powerless to fix this. My sister is 35 years old; I'm offering an assist and she's refusing it. Her life, her decision. I need to stop adding to everyone's frustration.

And speaking of frustration, Hell's Bells. On my way home from Reata South last night, I was stopping for a McDonald's ice cream cone, because, well, I use food. I'd recently changed purses and dropped all of my change into my change container at the house and I was out of folding money. McD's has their vanilla cones on for 49 cents and I'd managed to scrounge up enough car change to buy myself a new dimple on my ass. Except when I got to the drive thru, ice cream was no longer on sale, I didn't have a dollar seven and I wasn't about to use my debit card for that. But it sure did make me the Mayor Of PissyMoodVille until I had to laugh about it. Sometimes the universe has to slap me around a bit before I will take notice. I did seriously consider going to an ATM because I WANTED that damned ice cream. I did finally stop and think how much better I was going to feel if I just went on home - hell, it was almost ten pm anyway! Sheesh. Tender Mercies and all that.

Did get a bit of good news yesterday over some left-over legal wrangling. Actually won a skirmish with a state agency/bureaucracy. That almost never happens. Plenty to be thankful for on that and all counts, really.

Back on the bus again today. I'll remember to take my ID to the gym and things will be better today.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Sweeping my own side of the street.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Short Fuse

I've had a really short fuse lately. I've been quick to anger and while I haven't acted out in horribly inappropriate ways, it's important for me to note and to try to figure out what's triggering (ha!) it.

I can recall three incidents just within the last ten days or so where my temper/anger flared and I reacted in a way that I am not pleased with.

1. On the rafting trip, I let the chip on the guide's shoulder become mine.

2. Yesterday, I said something to the couple buying a week's worth of groceries while in the ten item or less express line. Wasn't my job.

3. Walked out of the gym at lunch. I forgot to take my ID and the new people were probably just following orders. I just said "Forget it" and left.

When I start being quick to anger, it's usually a sign that something is going on. People have commented that I sound mad and angry on the phone/messages when I'm not even aware of it. I'm carrying all sorts of tension around in my face - constantly with the pursed lips. I've been doing all the things that I know to do to combat this: getting exercise, getting rest, deep breathing/meditation, journaling, etc. but I just can't seem to shake it. As I told Diana in a comment on her blog, I feel like I am in Funkville. Or more accurately, PissyMoodVille.

Interestingly enough - the thing that really appeals to me right this very second is hopping in the pool. I'm not a swimmer, so that it's it. Wonder if the water serves as some sort of sensory-deprivation thing? Who knows?

I thought that surviving last week would change how I'm feeling, but I guess not.

Had a nice day with Bick yesterday. He came into town and we grabbed a burger a new place. I didn't really pay attention to what I was ordering and it was a huge, double patty outfit. And while the bleu cheese and bacon sounded good, the cheese really overpowered everything. Next time, just a burger.

We followed up lunch with a trip to the museum to see the abstract exhibit. I really enjoyed it, while Bick preferred the Adams' photography exhibit. The real fun began when we took in a local antique mall. I got a framed print for my apartment and Bick got a piece of music memorabilia, suitable for framing.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Pay attention.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

On Top Of Old Smokey

She is so my daughter.

I get a phone call while I am on my way over to her house this afternoon. We are scheduled to go shopping. No hi, no hello, no nothing. Just:

Her: "You have to promise not to laugh."

Me: "What? What are you talking about?"

Her: "Just promise you won't laugh."

Me: "Laugh about what?"

Her: "I was brushing my teeth and I got toothpaste on my dress. So I took off my dress to rinse it out and I kinda bent over to step out of it. I wasn't paying attention and I sort of caught my hair on fire on a lit candle".

Me: "Oh my god, are you alright?"

Her: "Well, I didn't actually notice that I'd done it until I saw the bathroom begin to fill with smoke. Then I noticed the flame in the mirror and dunked my head under the water at the sink".

Me: laughs hysterically

I arrived to find the stinkiest apartment in the history of ever. She's got a patch on really singed hair right on the top of her head. I'd say her hair in that spot is about 1/4 inch long. I think a pixie cut is in her near future. I spent the rest of the day calling her "Sparky".

Photo - November, 2004 - back when she had hair.

Feelin' Groovy

I got in a good ride this morning. I even extended it a couple of miles. Thought about pushing it to thirty, but decided to just leave well enough alone. I've only ridden once in the last three weeks? I think that's right. I probably rode three Saturdays ago and then again last Saturday, so it felt good to back into my "groove". I needed this time on Cha-Cha this morning and actually chose to do that rather than spend the night in Dallas with Pebbles. While I love my daughter to bits and pieces, I really needed to practice good self-care and that meant staying home, getting some good rest and getting in some good exercise. I don't always keep me as a priority, but I did this morning.

I am looking forward to more "back in the groove" next week. My plan is to be back on the bus again, meaning more time spent on foot. I like how that seems to keep me more centered, focused and better grounded. It takes me about three days of healthy eating and healthy living to get back into the zone or groove. The zone is that special place where carbs hold no sway and I am immune to all things chocolate. The zone is when I am anxious to exercise and feel hale and healthy, irrespective of what the scale might say. I used to feel like the zone was some magical something that sort of happened my way and in some cases, it may be. But mostly, if I can invest three days, I'm rewarded.

Monday evenings have the potential to be stressful, but I am going to do my dead-level best to focus on the problems that are mine to solve. I've been getting calls from my sister and I know she's feeling lots of pressure to do something about this and I've tried to reassure her and not make her feel pressured, but I just got off the phone with her and she's knee-deep in the middle of this. Oh, well. She is an adult and is responsible for making her own decisions on this. I cannot control her actions, nor her mindset. It's not for me to judge.

Time to strip the bed and do some laundry. Then I'll get cleaned up and head for Dallas. I'm in the market for traveling shoes - that both are comfortable and fashionable, but I may be tilting at windmills.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Get into your groove.


Friday, August 20, 2010

It's been a rocky re-entry

Re-entry back into my real life after such a wonderful vacation has been a bit rocky. Work has continued to be chaotic, with Monday being like trying to take a drink out of a fire hose. Tuesday was a bit of an improvement and Wednesday brought me back to dealing with family issues.

Wednesday was the inspection of the water damage to Reata South. It went pretty well, although it turns out my insurance is not what it should be. And this is my fault, so I get to pay the idiot penalty on that one. In my financial planning, my dear Meg had asked that I review all my insurances and get them up to snuff. That was part of that "Tuesday Challenge" stuff that I've yet to complete. Oh well. It's done now. Now comes the next hurdle which is to find someone to do the work. I've got a couple of leads on that. And then the issue will be when to do the work. And where will my mother/sister live while the work is being done. I've got some ideas on that.

I did have a long discussion with my Mom over how things needed to be in order to get the repair work done. No judgment on my part - no griping. Just a statement of facts that we had to have room to move the appliances out of the kitchen and they needed to come out the front door. That all the kitchen would need to be cleared out, etc. She conceded that stuff needed to be let go of, but that she just couldn't do it and she couldn't be there when it was done. So I talked to my sister and every Monday night for the foreseeable future, Mom is going to visit her sister and her brother and my sister and I are going to clear some stuff out. Since we are only doing this once a week, I hope we can stay ahead of Mom and her buying. This is not a solution, hell, I don't think this is even progress. But it helps me solve the problem I need to solve, which is getting the repair work done.

Last night was the wrap party for the big project I've been working on. Glad to get that behind me. Yesterday the auditors pointed out a mistake I'd made. That sucked, but I am not beating myself up over it. Hell, I wasn't even defensive. New tactic for me. Felt a lot better this way. "Yes, I guess I must have over-looked that. I'll get right on it and try to pay more attention in the future".

I guess the really great news in all of this is while I am very tired, I am very happy with how I've handled myself in the face of pressure and anxiety. I chose my attitude and was able to stay in the solutions, rather than add to the problems. For that, I am grateful. It's a new and different way to live and I am happy to be learning a bit of it.

This weekend brings some time with Pebbles. I was supposed to go over and spend the night at her house tonight, as Slater is in CA visiting friends, but I think I'll pass on that. I need to get Cha-Cha out for a spin. I did ride LAST Saturday morning out at Bick's, which was nice and new, but it's time to get back into the routine. I only hit the gym one time last week and that was a for not much of anything. So Saturday morning I will get a ride in and then go to Dallas to visit/shop with Pebbles. I am still in the market for a pair of comfortable, but non-nun looking shoes for the upcoming trip. I also need a new purse. So spending time with Pebbles should be fun.

I'm staying in town this weekend to attend meditation/church on Sunday. Bick is coming in on Sunday afternoon and we are going to see a movie. Great way to avoid the heat. I am hoping this heat will break soon. It's been a real drain this week.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Regroup.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Roxie Mountain High: The Remains of The Days

The remainder of the time in Colorado was spent taking it really easy. We would get up, get some coffee and sit on the porch. We'd go sight see a bit and come home and sit on the porch. Bick would take a nap and I'd sit on the porch and read or perhaps wander down and sit by the stream. We'd walk into town and then come home and sit on the porch and watch the world go by. It was very cool, both literally and figuratively.

On the last morning, I got up extra early and walked from our cottage to The Garden of the Gods. Hiking through the park in the early hours of the morning, feeling like I had the place to myself. It was an awesome experience. I walked/hiked through the park for nearly three hours. I want to go back to Colorado for that experience alone.

In summary, this was the most relaxing vacation I've ever taken. I am very grateful for the opportunity.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Roxie Mountain High: Day 4 - Premature Evacuation

We returned from our rafting adventure ready for some heavy-duty relaxation. Dinner was to be pretty simple - grilled pork chops, couscous and some grilled corn on the cob. And then the storm clouds started to gather, AGAIN. Bick said he wasn't cooking in the rain this time, so we jumped in the truck and headed back for CC. Except there really wasn't anyplace to eat that wasn't a casino. I will play a hand of blackjack if forced to go to a casino, but Bick pretty much refuses to darken the door. So we drove up and down every street in CC, just looking around and waiting for the deluge to stop. Hell, we even toured the cemetery! The city was nice enough to have a map available, so Bick drove and I narrated. Finally, after about two hours, the rain stopped. We drove back to camp, only to find that it had been hailing or sleeting at the campsite! We dug out the chuckwagon supplies and made another run at fixing dinner.

At that point, we made the decision that we were sort of through with CC. There wasn't really any more to see, so we decided to cut the camping portion of the adventure one day short and head into Manitou Springs.

I cannot tell you how much I loved Colorado. Each site was more beautiful than the next. This is raw, real beauty. Nothing Disneyfied here. The Garden of the Gods was beyond spectacular. That place will put you right with the universe, for sure. We went to the visitor's center, saw the new video presentation and I bought some "Bear Poop" for a friend's 6 year old son! She is going to be so irked at me - I cannot wait! hee. Bear Poop is a hot-selling item at all the local gift shops - it's candy of some sort. But I have to say that these gift shops were the least cheesy and most decently priced of any I've been in. Gift shops do not tempt me, but these had some nice stuff.

Oh, and the best news of all - we went to our cabin and they were able to check us in a day early. Now I cannot say enough fabulous things about this place. If you ever make the trip to that area of CO, stay there. It was like going to a family reunion for family we never knew we had! The place has been in the same family since 1953. Two sisters are now running the place and they and their staff are just wonderful. Seriously, the place is so cute and funky and it feels just like staying at Uncle Leroy's place in the country and it has all the modern conveniences. Well, if you have a pretty long term memory for modern - we had a cottage with a full kitchen - complete with a chocolate brown Kelvinator fridge - proudly made by American Motor Company. Our cottage was built in 1906 and so of course, it was a little funky - fitting in the stuff we modern folks need. I loved every charming inch of the place. This was the perfect place for Bick and I to stay. We teased the girls about us being garden gnomes, because everytime they would walk the grounds, we would be sitting on the porch or down by the stream. Spectacular place - not the usual cookie-cutter hotel experience. Oh, and the beds were super comfy! I cannot wait to go back - and the rates are so reasonable as to be shocking!

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Go to Manitou Springs, CO. You'll thank me for it.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Roxie Mountain High: Day 3 Roiling On The River

At first we couldn't figure out how to even get there from where we were. We asked one local who asked us if we were in a rental car and we said no. He then said, that he wouldn't drive anything except a 4WD or a rental car over the "Phantom Road". We asked someone else! Turns out, Phantom road is an unpaved "short cut" between Cripple Creek and Canon City, where the rafting adventure was to begin. We look the long way round.

We went with the same rafting outfitter that Bick had used twenty years prior. WiverWunners, if you are Elmer Fudd. I wouldn't use them again, but that was just because of our guide. He was a total asshat - none of the other rafts/paddlers got the kind of harsh, rude and smartass lip that he gave us. He nearly ruined the trip for me and he and I did have words. If Bick chose to tip him, that's his business, but he didn't get a nickel from me. Okay, enough of that.

Let me say that I've never whitewater rafted. Hell, I've never even tubed down the Guadalupe. But I did envision this as more of a float trip, which it would have been, had there not been for the amount of rain storms and flash flooding that had been happening in the prior two weeks. The river was up - not to June melt-off levels, but high for an August run. So during the safety briefing, the staff wants to make sure we get into our life vests properly. Hell, it's just five snappy things! But no, they cinch you into that puppy like it's an 18 hour Playtex girdle. Know why? Because they need to be able to grab the shoulders of the life vest and pull you back into the raft should you go overboard! I'm beginning to get the idea that this isn't the Lazy River at Splashtown. There were four rafts from this outfitter on this trip and one person did go over in the drink.

We get all suited up and in a raft. There are 6 in our raft, Bick and me, Rick and Janet and their 12 year old twins, Kassie and Kody. And away we go. The scenery is just breathtaking. I'd never been to The Royal Gorge, and to be honest, I was so focused on the river that I didn't spend a lot of time looking at anything but Bick's backside, trying to time my next stroke to his. Jeez, talk about a full-body workout. Between using your entire body to paddle, your lower body was constantly pressing against parts of the raft to keep yourself IN the raft. You sort of wedge your front foot up under a part of the boat and your back foot against a piece of the raft that is behind you and sort of scissor your legs together, using pressure to keep wedged in. By the time we exited the raft three hours and a half hours later, I was spent. It was spectacular - a class 3/4 run. I'd do it again in a heartbeat and I'd look around a little more, as the Royal Gorge is another one of nature's stunning displays.

The last half hour or so of the trip really is just a float, after leaving the rapids. And during that time, I did get cold (I didn't rent a wetsuit, it wasn't necessary) and I think having that much adrenaline leaving my body, I almost went into some sort of shock - I got the shakes so bad that I'm sure everyone around me could hear and see my teeth chattering! Now doesn't that all sound like fun? Trust me, it really was, but both Bick and I were glad we hadn't signed up for the whole day trip.

We did, however, stop in Canon City to buy some Ben-Gay, as my little first aid kit of Aleve, Neosporin, Claretin and pantiliners was no match for the mighty Arkansas River. We were also seriously re-thinking our decision to camp that night. I would have paid a fortune for a hot tub, a massage and a king sized bed. But we stayed at Camp Relaxation - although there was one funny moment. So you can't really stand up upright in the tent. It's the middle of the night and nature is calling to the both of us. So we are moaning and groaning (and not in that good way) and trying to crawl out of the tent - which is pointed downhill, I might add. Honest to goodness, I thought I was going to run to the bottom of the valley before I finally got my back working well enough to straighten up so that I could stop!

The unfortunate part is that we didn't get any pictures! Or we didn't choose to buy any of the pictures proffered to us. $30.00 for a single picture or $60 for a disk. Well, there wasn't a single picture of me that didn't show me with a look of abject terror on my face and there were several where all you could see was whitewater and a paddle!

I really did have a great time and I really would like to do it again, but as Bick said, this put a quick stop to any notion we've had of taking a multi-day rafting trip!

A photo - not of us, but representative of the trip.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Keep paddling.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Roxie Mountain High: Day 2

The drive from Manitou Springs to our campground outside of Cripple Creek was beautiful. I think it's about 35 miles, but it's sort of twisty. As Bick said, it would be fabulous to take it in a ram-air TA, complete with T-tops - but I think he may be living back in the 80's :-)

Our campground was beautiful and pretty much deserted. Cripple Creek has changed a lot in the twenty years plus since either of us had been there. Bick was last there in August of 1988, and I was last there in August of 1989. Legalized gambling was voted into CC in 1990 and so the nature of the place has changed a bit.

We got camp set up pretty quickly and set out to do absolutely nothing. It was at this point that I decided that I was really fine without Cha-Cha. At this elevation on the western slope, everything is either uphill or down. We did well to find a level-ish spot to pitch the tent.

We headed back into CC to see the sights and enjoy charming old gold mining town that we'd both remembered from a couple of decades prior. While the buildings were still there, nothing except casinos, old and new existed. The old train (which we rode) doesn't even go into Victor anymore. I can't blame that on gambling - that's a function of the modern gold mining that is still going on. That's a story for another day. Anyway, we did hop the narrow gauge train to see the sights and it was fun and interesting. The narrator/conductor appeared quite proud of and knowledgeable about the town. Oh, and fun trivia fact: the doctor upon whom the Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman character was based practiced in and was buried in CC.

It was about time for dinner, and so we headed back to camp.

And then the storm clouds began to gather.

The temperature dropped by twenty plus degrees.

Bick and I got to spend the remainder of the rain shower in the tent. The rain did stop and we were able to resume dinner prep. We were cooking using the Coleman stove, the Weber Q grill and the coals from the fireplace. We are nothing if not simple!

It got pretty cold at night. We had two sleeping bags zipped together on top of the air mattress (we forgot our pillows at the seedy motel the first night in CO) topped by two other sleeping bags. I was wearing sweat pants, socks and a fleece sweater. I stayed warm enough! Thank goodness.

But even with the rain and the gambling and the cold, I LOVED camping. We sort of hiked (it was STEEP) around the camp a bit and just enjoyed the out-of-doors. I cannot wait to go again!

ETA: The tent didn't leak - we were just wet from doing the stash and dash go get our stuff stowed before the rain hit! We borrowed Pebbles and Slater's tent and she was horrified to think it had leaked. It stayed snug and tight.

Day Three: Whitewater Rafting - Or this ain't no float trip!

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Get outside.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Roxie Mountain High: Day 1

We got off to a pretty early start on Saturday morning, with only one casualty. Cha-Cha. By the time we got the truck loaded up with stuff for Joad family trip, it was pretty "grapes of wrathy" looking. No room for Clementine Peddleford and I was quite sad. But we headed out anyway on what turned out to be a pretty easy ride out of Texas. We were expecting a long beating and had made arrangements to stay in Walsenburg the first night, but we got there so early in the afternoon, that Bick suggested we just make like a nail and press on. So we headed on into Manitou Springs for the night. Our hope was that we could get a spot at the motor court/cottage we'd reserved for the later part of the trip, but they and almost every establishment in town was full up on that Saturday night. We stopped at several, but were turned away. Finally, we found a rather seedy looking place, but it said it was voted best motel and had been newly remodeled. We took it. It was the last room in town. Pretty run down place and I wouldn't recommend it. But it appeared clean enough, so there is that.

After driving all day long, Bick suggested we just walk back into town for dinner, which I am always for spending time on foot. So we headed back into Manitou Springs. On our way, we spotted a Moroccan restaurant that was very uncrowded and decided to take a chance. We go into this strange room and there is no one to great us. We stand there for a few minutes and finally Bick pokes his head through the curtain and starts to walk towards the owner/greeter. The greeter sternly shoes us back into the anteroom to go behind a partition to remove our shoes. He then brings us into the restaurant and seats us on the floor beside a low table. He then brings back a menu that I cannot read due to: font, lack of light, no prices! Our waitresses are very nice and explain a few things to us - while we thought we ordered ala carte dishes, in fact, this is a six course meal! But as the courses came out, they were each more wonderful than the last - lentil soup, with a hearty honey/whole wheat ground bread. hummus, and taubouli, palate cleanser of citrus lettuce soup, chopped chicken with chopped nuts inside a phyllo dough and dusted with powdered sugar (we looked like we'd been in the bathroom at Studio 54 back in the day after eating this course) and then our main courses - I ordered the lamb in honey and almonds. Bick order the lamb tajine with vegetables and said it was wonderful. Our dessert was the best baklava I'd ever, ever had accompanied by mint tea that was poured from over the waitresses shoulder! Our arms and hands were then washed in rose water and dried and the meal was over! Amazing meal and experience. Oh, and there was a belly dancer that felt more like a lap dancer - I was a little uncomfortable with her just dancing so close to our table - Bick tipped, but wanted her to go away, not to keep hanging around and disturbing us from our meal. All in all, it was a wonderful, surprising and impromptu meal - one of only two meals away from home we had on the trip.

Next up? Heading up on Cripple Creek for some camping.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Oh, The Humidity"

I am home. The vacation was the most relaxing ever. More to follow.

Friday, August 6, 2010

On Vacation

I am going to the aforementioned location. In a tent. Weather report forecasts thunderstorms EVERY.SINGLE.DAY! On one day it won't matter, as we are scheduled to go white-water rafting (I'm renting a wet suit) and we'll already be wet. This could prove interesting, fosurenuf. I got down my long underwear, hat and gloves. And I'm bringing travel Boggle. Woo hoo!

Cha-Cha and I will miss you!

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Get away from it all.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Other People Think About Me

There's a slogan that says "What other people think about me is none of my business". I LOVE this. It is so incredibly freeing to realize that I don't have to run around and try to manage/control/manipulate what other people think about me. Am I perfect at this? Heavens no. But I am light-years ahead of where I used to be.

This concept has helped me in my professional life, in my personal relationship life and in my health and fitness life. Age may be a part of it, but being able to give up worrying (mostly) about what other people think has given me permission to run (slowly), to bike (slowly), to take belly dance classes (uncoordinatedly), and to dance The Chicken Dance in the frozen foods aisle at a WalMart in Johnson county.

And today I get to an opportunity to put this notion to a real test. Today I get to be the face of a hoarder, as Mom has made herself unavailable. I get to meet the plumber at Reata South, only now, as an adult, I don't have to own anyone else's issues or behaviors. They are not me. And whatever the plumber may think, whatever assumptions he may make about me, they are none of my business. I do not have to defend or be defensive. I am me and that's all I have to worry about.

Last night's dinner was very nice. Sandy seemed to really enjoy herself. I was a bit concerned as to whether it would be awkward, but it wasn't. I think everyone had a nice time. The food was good and in some strange way, I think the dinner was very good for Bick and the ExMrsBick. I think they enjoyed each other's company in a relaxed and easy way, sharing remembrances of bringing their "little tree frog" home from the hospital. I feel pretty sure the ExMrsBick is happy to see Bick's recovery efforts. While the ExMrsBick and I probably won't become BFFs, we did well together and enjoyed a nice visit.

Work issues are still popping up like popcorn and I've got to meet the plumber today and then I.MUST.PACK or else I will be very cold in CO without any clothes!

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. What other people think about me is none of my business.

ETA: I got what I wanted!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Asking For What I Want

I hit a snag when writing a good morning email to Bick. Brought me to a dead halt, in fact. It was a simple thing, but one that proved to be difficult for me to do. Ask for what I want. Very simple, right? Apparently not for me.

It's one of my character deficiencies that I need to work on. I'd made up my mind during this "relationship reboot" or whateverthehellitis, that I would be more direct and ask for what I want. No more secretly having a set of expections "if he loved me, he would know how much I want this" and then being resentful if they are not met. No more expecting him or anyone, for that matter, to be a mindreader.

No more couching requests so subtly in words that one would have to be a forensic wordsmith to catch my true meaning. I will be clear and straightforward and, here's the real kicker, vulnerable. What if he says "no"? Well, I can deal with that if and when the time comes. And at that point, I can evaluate facts rather than supositions and unmentioned expectations. It will be more fair to him and to everyone around me if I can be honest. And that's what it really is, being honest and acting with integrity.

Part of having codependent character traits is that I am (or at least I think I am) spectacular at anticipating others' every need. And it turns out, I expect that same type of behavior from others. How twisted is that? While I am getting much better at letting others own their own stuff, there is still this part of me with these secret expectations. It's time to get it all out there - straightforward and direct.

How can I ever get what I want if I am unwilling to ask for it?

I did not ride last night and I have no real excuse other than pure laziness. I did, however, fix myself a wonderful dinner of oven roasted okra with Indian spices and a lovely piece of cod. I wrapped the cod in a foil packet, added some sliced garlic, fresh herbs, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. It was wonderful. I haven't had cod in a long time. Of course, I prefer it fried as fish and chips, but it was still super yummy last night.

Insurance adjuster cannot make it until August 18, which actually works out fine with me due to vacation.

Can you come flat out and ask for what you want? How do you respond when the answer is "No"? Is it the want versus need question? I find it easier to ask for a need than "just" a want.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Ask for what you want.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Taking Care Of Business

I am being productive today and doing the next right thing in all areas of my life - well, perhaps those peanut butter cookies weren't on the list - but I'm out and about and a productive(ish) member of society.

I am very tired today, as I didn't sleep much at all last night. I was wrestling with my own dysfunction - thinking if I said just the right thing at just the right time that perhaps THIS time I could get through to my sister. I've effectively given up on my Mother and there is some relief in that. And for me, there is the return to the quest for serenity. This whole ordeal has been very enlightening and ultimately, I am sure, lead to greater peace and understanding of all the parties involved.

The plumber can't get out there until Thursday, which is fine. I know this firm and I'd rather wait the extra time and deal with people I know and trust. I filed an online claim and am awaiting a call back from the adjuster. So place check marks in my column for taking the next right step.

And in a rather ironic turn of events, I do need to spend some time fluffing and sprucing up The Closet, as it will serve as the gathering place for Bick, Sandy, Aloisius, and the Ex-Mrs.Bick prior to Sandy's birthday dinner tomorrow. I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow afternoon, so tonight is my only opportunity. I am going to try to squeeze in a bike ride in the park this evening.

Saturday morning we leave for Colorado. I will be glad to leave Texas behind for a few days.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Do the next right thing.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Staying Focused

Thanks for the support, everyone - both in comments and in email. Erica is sending me a book to read, which also got me to thinking about the entire subject, about which I know very little. I ended up doing a bit of research, including reading professional research papers. Very interesting and very enlightening. Some of the results of these studies show that this is one of the hardest addictions/behaviors to break as hoarders typically have no self-awareness of their own problem.

In addition, the research was very interesting in pointing to how this disorder affects children of hoarders, depending upon how old they were when the disorder presented. While I think there were always tendencies always towards the buying/accumulating, my Dad actually had taken away the checkbook and she was on an allowance that was doled out my his mother, as he worked away from home through the week. Looking back on it, I can see that the signs were there even when he was still alive. He came home for the weekends and Friday would be this mad dash to clean and straighten everything up (or stash it) before Dad came home. He died when I was ten, so from that point on, it just fell apart. So I had ten years of normalcy - other than the obvious dysfunction in my parents' relationship. By the time my sister came along when I was almost 16, it was in full phase. My sister has never known anything different.

Anyway, as Leslie pointed out, I spent the most of the day feeling a lot of the old feelings. I did get some insight and relief by doing do a bit of studying and my experience and results are pretty darn typical. Oh, and the most given advice for professionals? Treat children of hoarders like they were children of alcoholics - their outcomes are pretty similar.

I came home from the office, changed, spent some time journaling and reading literature. I determined that my best course of action was to stay focused on the task at hand - finding the leak. I could not/would not be deterred. It was my best chance of maintaining my serenity and not going off on any tangents about what other's should be doing. My opinions are to be kept to myself, other than in matters of determining the cause of the leak.

After being assured that they had checked everywhere, including under the sink and no leak was to be found, the leak was under the sink. I did not get it fixed, as I don't have the right tools, but I will call the plumber to come out tomorrow. For as long as this has been leaking, one more day isn't going to make things that much worse. Neither Mother or my sister is available at all tomorrow, so I will come out and meet the plumber and hopefully the insurance adjuster at the same time.

I did manage to stay in my solution. There was plenty of talk about why things were the way they were, but I didn't allow myself to comment or voice an opinion or call bullshit. I just let it be and stayed focused on my need for a solution to the only problem that was mine to solve. So I am happy with how I got through the day - other than by eating everything that I was fast enough to run down. But tomorrow is another day. I cannot expect perfection of myself or anyone else. I did the best that I could.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Staying In The Solution

I don't know why this has to be so hard. The situation at Reata South is very, very difficult. My Mother and perhaps my sister as well are just this side of hoarders. My Mother is/was a compulsive shopper/pack rat and the place is filled, in some cases to the rafters, with stuff. And there is, what I think, is a water leak with some pretty severe water damage showing up as buckling and rolling of the kitchen floor.

And while I wouldn't have known about the problem if she hadn't told me, she's bucking me on every turn on solutions. Pebbles and I went out there on Saturday to try and figure out where the water is coming from and Mom came very near having a meltdown over being told that I would have to have insurance adjusters, plumbers and repair people in. Hell, she barely let Pebbles and I in. It was 100 degree plus and she finally came outside after we knocked at the door and yelled her name for several minutes. Pebbles called "bs" and said I'm going in the house, it's too hot out here and just went inside. And when I started looking for the leak by opening the kitchen cabinets, she became very upset and agitated. Obviously, there is a lot of shame about how things are stacked, stuffed and unusable. I mean, you can't see a surface anywhere. So I backed off.

I thought about this for a day and have decided that I have to move on this. I've got an active leak, so I called her and said that I would be out after work tomorrow to search for the leak. Again, I said that I would have to have plumbers, insurance adjusters, etc. come in. I was trying to give her some opportunity to deal with some of this crap. So about two hours ago, my sister called me in near hysterics about having to deal with all of this. And I said I wasn't asking her to deal with any of it, I just told her what I was going to be done.

And she was all "we can't have repairmen out there to fix this, they will have to turn off the a/c" etc, etc, - one excuse after another about why this can't be done. They don't have the money to buy boxes to box up all their stuff. They don't have the time to do it, etc. etc. I am not trying to make things difficult for either of them, but I cannot let this go. Their solution was that they would just turn off the water.

I was raised in this chaos. The entire second floor of the family home was unusable and inaccessible. You couldn't see the floor anywhere. There was stuff stacked and covered with sheets in the rest of the house. No one could come over. And as an adult, I actually lived like this myself for longer than I would like to admit. It's amazing how it can go unnoticed and be considered normal. So I am not without sympathy. I know the anxiety that goes along with having stranger see this, I know all about the shame, but I cannot enable this behavior. I cannot not deal with the repair issues because it make them uncomfortable/anxious. I am not going to try to mitigate this, I'm not clearing it up or clearing it out. I just want to get the plumbing fixed. I am not going to gripe about it or preach about it, but I am going to give clear information about what I am going to do and when. And the consequences will just have to be what they are.

I hate it that my sister feels forced to continue to fix, make excuses and take this burden on, but she is 35 years old and an adult. She has choices she can make, even if she thinks she doesn't. And me going in and cleaning things out is just like pouring out the bottles of an alcoholic. It does no good, it doesn't change a thing and just leaves every one pissed. So I am going to have to just move forward with the solution to my problem by being as clear and direct with my intentions to get this leak fixed. I shall not go out of my way to be harsh, but I will let the consequences be what they are.

I am powerless over people. I have tried for decades to fix this and I cannot.