Is it Easter Writer's Block?

Nope.  On the contrary I have so many things whirling around in my head from this past week to write about that nothing has gelled yet.  Not even this rather late in the weekend. Read on and you'll see what I mean.

Work contract extension.  Jewelry "homework." Lots of parties this week...from a work party to a great girls night in with my neighbor A to watch reruns of the Real Housewives series on Bravo.  Shamelessly.  Oh, and Easter.  Time with family today.  An INTENSE Canucks/Blackhawks playoff series right now (I'm a huge Canucks fan, by the way).  A fabulous silent auction last night to benefit a team a few friends will be playing on next week in a tournament to benefit Hockey Fights Cancer.  Once I saw the spa package up for bid...AND the TPS hockey stick (a lefty - yay!) decked out in PINK, yep, with the breast cancer awareness ribbons on it...I knew those two beauties would be mine.  And they are! 

I started the evening yesterday meeting my dear friend J for sushi before we headed to the auction.  And ended it meeting another friend J for a drink afterwards at the bar nearby...one of the guys I've know through the league for years but we fell out of contact recently.  Good to reconnect.  Too funny how I was tired yesterday and didn't think I'd stay at the auction too long, but I ended up heading home close to midnight with a pretty long drive ahead of me.

Now I'm even more tired and ready to hit the coffee before spending some time with my family to celebrate Easter.  Can you believe how LATE Easter is this year?  It's about as late as it can be. 

Ahem, excuse my geekiness, but I happen to know why.  There was a full moon just one day prior to the Vernal Equinox (the first day of spring) this year.  Easter always needs the Equinox first, then a full moon, then a Sunday.  So because a full moon was just the day prior to the Equinox this year, the moon had to go through a whole wax and wane cycle again...it wasn't full again until April 18, a Monday.  Since Easter has to be on a Sunday we had to go another week till today, Sunday April 24.

And there's your Easter lesson from a rather tired fivenineteen here.  Time to get ready for brunch, visit with family and then glue myself to the Canucks/Hawks game tonight.  Can the Canucks finish off the series and send the Hawks to the golf course?  Or do we have to go till game 7 to decide this once and for all?


Half Dreams

I didn't do it.  It didn't happen. 

This morning was supposed to be my first 5K of the year...the Bellevue 5K/10K which starts and ends in the Downtown Park.  My good friend T, fellow 5K'er and partner in crime for all things shopping and all things fabulous sushi, asked me to join her and a few others to do this one.  Why not?  She and I did two last year, and we were excited to try a different route!

For some reason I had a gut feeling early on that it wasn't meant to be.  And it was for something as silly - and frustrating - as the registration process.  I went online a few weeks ago to sign up and the damn system put me in the most bizarre loop.  I kept getting prompted to register and create an account, starting with my email address.  So, after creating a new account, I got an error that my email address was already registered and that I just needed to sign in.  Huh?

OK, OK, no problem.  Perhaps I did create an account many moons ago with this registration network.  But try as I might with a handful of the standard passwords I use, no luck.  I then hit the 'forgot my password' button, but got yet another error that 'this email address is not on file - please register.'  REALLY?  And the same thing happened with three different email addresses.  So, the system was hosed.  Thankfully T registered on my behalf after I'd tried this a few times to no avail.

If you know me in real life or perhaps read my ramblings here regularly, you may recall I've been under the weather, battling a lingering cold and cough since about February.  It's pretty much gone (dang I say that every week...longest decrescendo ever eh?) but it's very apparent how it's sapped my energy level - moreso my voice.  I was talking with T yesterday on the phone to figure out timing and where we were going to meet this morning and she asked, "Are you feeling OK?  You don't sound so good."  I was feeling good, but my ravaged voice sounded otherwise.  I guess I've gotten so used to how somewhat raspy it is right now.  I told her no, I'm fine, looking forward to tomorrow and all.  And I was!

It's a little frightening how horrible a morning person I am becoming.  The race started at 8am, which meant I'd have to get up even earlier - on a Sunday - than I typically do for work, to allow enough time to drive, park, pick up my registration packet and all.  So I forced myself to bed a few hours earlier than normal, but I tossed and turned like a dumbass.  Did I have my alarm set correctly?  Did I turn off its weekend sleeper cycle so it WOULD go off on Sunday?  DUH.  I NEVER worry about that on weeknights!  Anyway, I remember this tossy/turny feeling the nights prior to 5Ks, so I tried to just laugh it off and relax.

Normally my adrenaline kicks in and I bust through my inner fog and get up.  But today, that didn't happen.  Around 6:30am or so, I stumbled out of bed and went downstairs to text T that I was a no-go.  Feeling oh so very turdlike.  But I knew deep down she would understand.  And she was doing this race with her boyfriend and a few others so I wasn't leaving her high and dry.  

Then I went back to sleep.  I had no idea how much - or little - sleep I'd gotten the night before, but I sure needed more now.  Alarm...off you go.

But in the fuzzy purgatory-ish moments between laying awake and falling asleep, I started having what I call Half Dreams.  I'm not fully asleep in a dream when these happen.  Rather I have two visions in front of me.  First, whatever I would normally see, like the bed blankets, the ceiling or the window...and then an overlay of whatever the dream scene is.  Anyone else ever experience these?  I've only just noticed them recently.  They are mostly very brief scenes of recent memories - things that have happened at work or just hanging around the house here.  And even the memory of the flashing lights in my rear view mirror when I got a speeding ticket last month.  Ha.  Somewhere there's some irony and humor about getting a speeding ticket going TO work.

I finally crawled out of bed around 10am.  Sweet freakin' bliss.  THAT cleansing sleep (and a few Half Dreams) was exactly what I needed.  And as I went downstairs a second time to start my day (Take 2!) I smiled as I checked my phone and saw T's text:  "Totally understand! Love you!". 

Now THAT'S a true friend alright. Can't wait to see her later this week and get caught up over fabulous sushi.      


The Nine Year Sage

This November I will celebrate nine years here in my townhome.  Yes, it was Thanksgiving weekend 2002 and I won't ever forget the adrenaline rushes, from waiting on offer respones to the inspection...and the hugeass cashiers checks in my hot little hands.  Sweating it a bit as a first-time home buyer...doing this on my own, with no husband or boyfriend.  And being in a dual residency position for a few weeks, as the last days of my apartment lease overlapped with when I closed on the place here. I remember thinking oh, this is perfect, I'll have time to paint or whatever before the furniture gets moved in.

Yeah, right.  Turns out I had to go out of town on business for a week, very last minute, and I got home literally at midnight the day of the big move.  My pre-move time was focused on packing up endless boxes and making multiple trips to Goodwill. My Mom, bless her heart, offered to help me put shelf paper in all of the kitchen and bathroom cabinets and drawers because there was NONE.  Gross.  So, after some good scrubdowns and seemingly endless cuttings of shelf paper, we did it.  Between the kitchen cupboards and cabinets, plus 3 bathrooms (a powder room, full bath, plus a separate large master open vanity), there was a LOT of surface area to cover.

Trust me, even moving just 3 miles is a huge pain in the butt.  I had to get a new phone number (landline) because I'd moved out of whatever zone or grid they were using. [I was late to the cell phone party, just getting my first in 2001, so I was much more reliant on the landline in those years]. And I now also recall how the cell phone reception in my old apartment was pretty bad - we were perfectly poised in a dead spot.  Ugh.  Other than that, I adored that old apartment.  So much I stayed in it nearly 5 years, and it really didn't motivate me to look for a place of my own.  The rent was very reasonable, and the amenities in turn were incredible.

I am probably the 5th or 6th owner in this home.  These units were built in 1980, and, as cliche as it sounds, they really don't make 'em like this anymore.  These units are true townhome style, not cookie cutter square boxes.  Each home has an oversized, 2-car garage.  You really, truly don't see large garages in newer condo/townhome construction around here.  Maybe a 1 car garage, or a 2 car, tandem style.  And STAIRS.  Three levels.  One of my earliest posts in here was how much I felt grown up when I got stairs of my own. My earliest childhood memories are of my folks' large rambler - we moved to a home with stairs later.  To me, as silly as it seems, this meant GROWING UP.

I can only imagine all of the memories jammed in my house from the past 30 years.  Lordy, just my short block of nine is chock full.  Painting - doing it on my own and schlepping back and forth to the local Home Depot.  Countless trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Holy crap, now I had THREE bathrooms to furnish, not just one!  Updated window treatments.  Workin' on that curb appeal.  Not to mention the social memories - too countless to list here. 

I met the sellers of my place very briefly, and they mentioned that they had 6 ferrets as pets, but replaced all of the carpet and flooring once they moved out.  FERRETS?  SIX?  Faint.  Did I really need to know this?

They may have replaced the carpet and flooring, but took the fridge and washer dryer.  Not very appealing to a buyer necessarily, BUT it gave me good leverage in negotiating a price.  After all, I would need to fork out a few grand to purchase appliances. At least they would be new. 

How much updating have I done in here beyond that?  Well, not as much as I'd hoped after nearly a decade, but I have a tendency to be overly self-critical.  Between a large outside repair assessment (for our entire HOA), and later a large, individual project for me to rip out and redo my back deck, those were large chunks of spending for sure.  But so worth it.  I have a nearly 400 square foot back deck which is private.  I've had a ton of fun painting and playing around with bold colors, plus I just adore the custom wood blinds I've added in the living room and bedrooms.  Replaced the microwave and stove too.  The fridge now, ahem, twice. [See my 'Refrigerator Drama' post from last fall on that episode].  

And yet in this age of super-large kitchens, granite countertops and slate tile flooring, well, I have yet to make any of those updates.  Hell, I still have popcorn ceilings which need to be sprayed down and scraped.  For real.  No floor molding updates either, as I ripped out the yucky brown stuff when I painted.  And some old, scary dark brown doors on the upper floor need replacing.  I did the downstairs doors but was on the brink of a job change and held off doing the whole house, grr.  Now I wish I had.  Too funny how I have the doorknob hardware all ready to rock - but no new doors.  Yes, the list is long.

So what's the deal with saging?  Well, several of my friends have done it and really recommend it.  It's cleansing and gets rid of negative energy in a house - moving into a new home is a perfect time to sage.

The sage I purchased is about the size of very small bundle of asparagus.  You light it, blow out the flame, and let the rest of the 'torch' smolder.  Spring has yet to really, well, spring, around here but it wasn't raining so I decided to do it today and open up all the doors and windows here in the house.

And no, the smoke alarm did not go off, whew.  

You're supposed to go clockwise in each room with the sage smoke, saying a blessing meanwhile.  Clean, clean clean.  All of the bad memories for me in this house BE GONE, plus who knows what else happened prior to me moving in.  I know a woman died in here a couple decades ago but honestly that never has really freaked me out.  What else happened?  Doesn't really matter now - the vibes if any are gone.

Call me cuckoo, but I DID feel better after doing this.  And the smell was not overwhelming at all - in fact it was gone after about 30 minutes - all I felt was fresh air after that.  Nice.   


Title of Post Goes Here

Never have I been so happy to flip a calendar page!  Welcome, APRIL!!  March, well, you were great for the first five or six days, then you pretty much blew chunks.  Better luck next year.

You know what's great about blogging?  The power of the written word never ceases to amaze me. I've had a fair amount of feedback on my March posts, for example...from empathy and support all the way to 'get over it...for fuck's sake stop blogging about it.'  Hmm.  Us Taureans are masters at digging in our heels...we'll do whatever we want to, when we want to.  And I'm extremely flattered that people read my writing.  It's from me all the way down to my toes.  You might not always like what you read in here.  Some of my posts I'm very proud of, while others might be mediocre or clunkers. But you can be assured it's all Me.

After about a year and a half blogging (this is my 110th post - wow) I smile and laugh at the variety of topics in here.  Maps. Makeup. Childhood memories. Food. The almighty Job Hunt.  Whatever it is, I've stayed true to my self-imposed 'rules' in here:  no names - initials only. It's OK to call out locations (cities, restaurants, shops) by name but not people.  Stay away from political or religious-themed posts.  Too polarizing.  And the biggest rule of all? 

No apologies and no regrets. 

When you know you want to start a blog but have zero idea what it's going to be about - well, you need a LITTLE structure, right?  I know damn well that once something's out here I can't take it back.  Sure, I can remove posts but it really can't be undone.  I am human and gloriously flawed as we all are.  Some stuff in here may later be cringe-worthy once more time has passed, but it's documented, out there and I can't (and don't want to) do anything about that.  

I made one of my favorite dishes last night - Moroccan style chicken with olives.  The spice combination is incredible:  cumin, ground ginger, cinnamon, paprika and a little cayenne pepper.  Combine that with garlic, sauteed chicken in olive oil, kalamata olives, a couple bay leafs, white wine and chicken stock...the aroma is heavenly.  Therapeutic even.  I threw in a can of diced tomatoes when I discovered that my newest cookbook also has a version of this recipe too.

Still battling through this second cold/sore throat - whatever it's going to evolve into.  I volunteered last week with a few co-workers at a middle school where they were conducting police training.  They needed actors to simulate various scenarios in a school shooting, such as people running down the hallways screaming, or being hostages held up in a classroom with the shooter.  It's a really great experience and the police are so very appreciative of our time so they can train on how to handle what's become a sad fact of reality in our schools - and workplaces too.  We wore multiple layers of clothing plus protective headgear as the ammo they use in the training is like paintball on steroids.  The headgear is a little like Darth Vader meets Miner's Helmet. Hard to breathe. I got overheated and maybe somehow that made me vulnerable to getting sick again.  All I know is I wasn't feeling very good once we were finished, like a bad wave washing over me.  But I will definitely volunteer again!  

I was chatting with my good friend T today and she reminded me that emotional stress has probably affected my health too.  I think she's right.  She also recommended saging my house.  Gets rid of negative energy.  Bad juju.  Now, I'm pretty open-minded about stuff but I have always kind of pooh-pooh'd saging. Plus, I don't want my house smelling like I had a million friends over smoking pot all weekend.

But, I jumped in my car and headed down to the PCC - a food co-op and organic grocery store chain here in the Seattle area.  I knew that if I wanted sage, that was the closest, most convenient place to find it.  And how wonderful to re-discover this store.  I used to frequent it far more often when my work commute took me right by it on the way home a couple of years ago.  And when I delved into raw food "cooking" and vegan cooking it was one of the best places to find specialty ingredients.  With super nice, helpful staff.  We are so fortunate here to have such an amazing variety of higher-end, specialty grocery stores. 

Is it expensive?  Sure.  But, after reading The Primal Blueprint I totally get and agree with the author's argument that doing away with processed foods, energy drinks, energy bars, whole grains, dairy, etc means more $$ to devote to what's truly good and healthy for our bodies.  Pick up the book if you can - it's a great read and Mark Sisson says it far better than I can here.

So, off I went to purchase some sage. I also stumbled upon some fish oil capsules (I haven't tried these either but they are highly recommended).  And I found my favorite gluten-free crackers.  I've had a hard time battling my weight gain, which was very gradual over the past 7 or 8 years (after losing about 30 lbs walking a few miles a day for a few months).  And I have a weakness for late-night snacking.  Things like chips with super hot chipotle salsa and a blob of sour cream.  I need to think more about what I'm putting in my body and try staying away from too many carbs, gluten and such.  Plus, cutting back on dairy. Now, I've never met a cheese I didn't like, and that's a hard one to give up, honestly.  Just a tiny wedge of delicious brie at breakfast can keep me content all the way till lunch.  Sounds a little weird I know.

I'm going to try this healthier eating discipline and see where it takes me.  Snacking on a handful of (unsalted) nuts.  Or gluten free pretzles.  Flax seed chips.  Holding off on the cheese.  Trying rice pasta whenever possible, or running steamed cauliflower through the food processor as a substitute for rice. Can I do this?  And wave the smoldering sage around my house, once it's nice enough weather to open the windows?  You bet.

And I just found this treat on a friend's Facebook page.  Love it.

"This morning at 7:33 AM (Pacific), the Moon renewed itself in Aries... New Moons are always opportunities for setting intentions, for starting, for letting go of what was... Well, what’s going on is that it’s time to be getting on. Time to get on with what needs to be done. Time for all the ways you’ve thought about it to become reasons for how you are doing it. — Jon Waldrup, Sense of Vision Astrology"

Now, when's it supposed to warm up around here anyway?