Working on Me!

These are the stairs that I have mastered, twice a day.  There is a matching set at the other end of the parking lot that we circle three times to make up one mile.  It has not been easy and I huff and puff, but I have achieved some success. Around 20 pounds since Thanksgiving, 40 pounds in the last year.  That’s three dress sizes!  The last one is a little slower to come off.

It’s easy to do something for someone else, not so easy to be your own best friend.  Fitness is one of my goals for this year.  My weight was starting to signal early signs of medical problems ahead.  When your feet scream at you in pain by the end of the day, check your weight first.  My loving daughter let me know that one pound of fat can exert 7 pounds of pressure on just your knees.  No wonder my poor feet protested!

Seriously, diabetes and other medical problems run in my family and I am doing my best to beat the odds and avoid it all by eating right and exercising.  That means getting my weight down another 40 pounds.

While I’m at it, I’m working on my financial fitness as well.  Selling some stock, why was I keeping it anyway, some of it was a negative rate of return and some down in the 2% range.  I’ve kept the good performers and dumped the bad.  I have a new financial guy and he wants to manage all of it, but I’m a little on the cautious side.  I decided to compromise and keep my star performers, liquidate the bad actors and send the cash to him to invest.  He has one year to convince me he can handle my retirement money.  I can do about 5-7% on my own.  He was a little surprised when I told him that.  The money in my 401k was doing 3-4%, time to make some changes.  So I rolled the account out for him to handle it.

We all know that God has just two rules for us to live by, Love God, Love others.  That little rule that goes like this:  Love others as yourself.  Somehow we are able to lie to ourselves that we are doing good by giving away all our time.  Giving all your time to a cause, even to your family, is not a good thing.  Balance is a good thing.  If you do not spend the appropriate time taking care of yourself first, the quality of the remaining time degrades.  It is not giving your best to others.  Spending an hour on fitness at least 3 times a week keeps you healthy.  You are able to give to others a rested healthy persons time as opposed to a tired, run down and possibly sick persons time.

I’m sleeping through the night for the first time in my life.  No more sleepwalking, RLS and insomnia.  They finally figured it out; after a lifetime of extremely low REM sleep waking up felt like I was swimming through mud.  I am so grateful that they did since I have much more energy and as a result, I can exercise more and get in shape!

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Filed under Fitness, Inspiration, Life Lessons

Taking Care – Goals

The nasty head cold is circulating at work.  It has hit just about everyone, including me.  I don’t get the flu, but this hit me hard.  I beefed up on vitamins and hand washing, it still got me.  The nurse was afraid it could go into pneumonia and I have been on bed rest for the last two weeks.  BORING!!!

I did follow the doctor’s orders and made myself rest and take care.  I focused on my nutrition and being still.  I spent some time going over my goals for 2017.  I am a list maker and I need to look back to celebrate accomplishments in order to move forward in a positive space.   It has been hard to rest the last few days.  I’m finally released to return to the land of the living.

Goals for 2017 (subject to change)
Celebrate 2016 accomplishments
Finish attic bedroom
Move pantry move to new location
Build balcony (includes concrete work)
Kitchen remodel
Finish medical needs
Continue to lose weight and build strength
Remove carpet and lay hardwood floor in my office
Improve home security
Take a vacation
Save $$$
Stay out of debt
Resume Saturday patio brunches during the bloom
Finish at least one of two novels in progress
Let go of the novel that isn’t up to par and focus on the good
Grow critique group
Teach needle skills
Get notary license
Be more sustainable
Be humble and kind

I don’t know that I can do everything on my list of goals, but I’m sure going to give it a try!  Nothing is every gained by failing to take the first step.

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Burst of Energy!

panoramic-photo-project-status-12-20-16It’s been a few weeks since my last post.  I’ve been putting the time to good use in my attic room conversion!  All the sheetrock is hung, 90% of the taping is complete and at least one coat of “mud” has been applied.  The finish skim coat has been applied on about 10%.  I hope to get the rest of the taping/mud done this week and possibly the texturing sometime around Christmas.  The panoramic view might be difficult to get a good idea of the room.  It helps to orientate yourself if you imagine the wooden door and the glass door as opposite each other.

framed-and-insulated

Overkill Support Beam

Here’s another view of the early days when I first split the room in half at the top of the stairwell.  I’m not very fast, but it is getting done.  I used to be able to work only a half day on Saturday.  Since I’ve been sleeping better, I can now do an hour or so here and there after work and a whole day on Saturday.  If I had a whole Saturday!  I can also wake up as a functioning human by 8:00 a.m. now.  It used to take me until 10:00 a.m. to be able to think straight at work.

 

It’s been a large project, but I wanted to do everything above code requirements.  I’ve managed to do a lot of the construction using recycled/reclaimed materials.  The drywall looks like a puzzle because a lot of it was left over from construction sites.  It was free because the corners were slightly damaged.  I managed to get contractor packs of insulation for $50.00 at a going out of business sale.  I saved almost $500.00 there!  I did have to invest in two new LED lights and a fan.  I paid a professional electrician to alter the wiring.  My HVAC guy at work gave me the “T” to divert A/C and heat from the main line and coached me on how to do it myself.

I’ve made tentative arrangements with a High School senior art student to use the wall with the wooden door as a canvas for a senior project. Maybe a Dawn Redwood.  I love all things Sequoia!  I’ll post a photo if that happens.

The room is a little more private that my other bedrooms and I hope to have some very special visitors in it!  I think my WWOOFer* will like it!  I plan on giving them three choices of where to sleep.  This next year will be exciting as I attempt to transition from a consumer to a sustainable producer of my own food.  Who needs well over 5,000 sq. ft. of green lawn?  I would much rather have some zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, herbs and more in my garden.

*World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  WWOOF has allowed Urban Gardens into the organization.  I already have a couple of WWOOFers that are interested in visiting my “garden”, several want to help in laying out the new format I’ve chosen.

https://wwoofusa.org/

Lots of changes, exciting times!

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Filed under Garden, Homeowner, Prepare, Projects, Urban Farming, WWOOF

My Brain is Broken – Why RLS?

I’ve always had what my mom called the wearies.  Even as a child I would shake my legs to fall asleep.  I remember my cousin shaking her whole body to get to sleep.  This was more normal than not in my family, so why would I question it?

I’m getting ready to retire in a few years so a round of medical appointments and routine screening.  My generalist was not happy with the non specific pain in my legs and my chronic exhaustion.  He sent me to a neurologist.  What seems like a million questions later and his diagnosis, broken brain.  Actually, low dopamine levels.  Just talking about my history of sleep walking, sleeping a few hours a night, waking up and trying to fall back to sleep resulted in almost no sleep night before last.  I’ve started on a very low dose of a drug given to RLS and Parkinson’s sufferers.  It’s so low that I didn’t expect to really notice any difference.  I managed to sleep approximately six hours straight through and was able to get out of bed before the third alarm went off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still exhausted.  Just much less exhausted.  I’m hopeful that I will someday soon wake up rested and wonder at the experience.  Just think how much Mrs. Winchester could get done if the hammer didn’t feel like it weighed a ton and I could keep my eyes open!

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Filed under Homeowner, Life Lessons, Medical

Better Man “The Gates of Your Dreams”

Head on over to The Better Man Project, this motivation blog on personal risk is worth the read!

The Gates of Your Dreams & The Dues You Must Pay

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Want vs. Need

Loft Update 9-2016.jpgMy fingers are itching to plant something so bad!!!!  Winter garden anyone? No, that is not on the list.  Sigh! Mrs. Winchester wins again!  Keep on building.

The loft room is almost done.  The electrical is mostly complete, the fan and second light fixture will be installed after the paint work is done.  I finally found a solid core door that will fit and if you look at the 8×8 block of wood on the right side of the roof, that is where I will eventually punch a hole into the main part of the house.  I still need to complete the short wall frame on the right and build a bench over the A/C.  I have purchased all the parts for the A/C vent into the room waiting for the box to be built.

I was rushing to give my adult kids more space to move back in.  They gave notice and are in the process of buying their first house.  Bad news is the good news, depending on how you look at it.

The Good News

  • They found a house they loved right away.
  • It’s close to me.
  • Their offer was accepted.
  • It’s in escrow, waiting for the home inspections now.

The Bad News

  • They found a house they loved right away.
  • Their offer was accepted.

Some of the pressure is off to finish the room and I’ve been lazy, feeling under the weather this week.  Mostly I think it is from the barometer dancing up and down with the weather.  We had some rain, but I was at work and didn’t get to enjoy it.  I did go outside for a quick minute to do my traditional dance in the rain.  I love to light a fire in the fire-place and read my Nook by firelight with a bowl of soup and freshly baked bread.  I’m making my own bread again, this time with bromine free flour!  (This is important for hypothyroid issues, metabolic syndrome or anyone with hormone issues of any kind!)

I added the rest of the single pane windows to the list so it bumped back up to 38.  That’s a lot better than 100 that we started with when we bought the home.  It will happen, I keep reminding myself that God is still in control and to just take it one nail at a time.

Instead of planting, I went online and selected what I want in my organic CSA box next week.  I can wait.  Retirement is not that far away and although I really want to build those raised garden beds, I need to finish the loft and balcony first!

Blessings to you all, remember to pray for Florida this week!

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The List Goes On!

shed-painted-cropped

The shed finally gets painted!

 

I think “The List” has become a sentient life form!  It started as a punch list of 100 items when we purchased the house.  My beloved whacked it down to 75 before he fell ill and died.  I have continued to hack away at the list.  Friends, family and sometimes hired help have helped me to whack some more off the list.  It was at 28 this morning but I allowed myself to add to it.  I have found myself arguing to avoid any additions, to just finish what we originally listed.  I lost the argument today and added eight window replacements.  They are all poorly hung, leaking, single pane windows.  Only one should be a problem replacement because of its location.  Three I might be able to do by myself, if Dahve will assist in the selection process.  Who knew there were so many different flanges to windows?

The List now sits at 36 with seven items to be completed before December 31, 2016.  The total estimated cost is between a conservative $10,000 to a possible $13,200.  “The List” is the reason I may work freelance for a few hours after I retire.  I have a couple of post retirement offers of work.  I will be fine with Social Security if I keep the income under $17,000.

I didn’t get any work done on the loft room or any of my could of, should of, or would of’s.  I did get the tool shed painted and is ready for winter and the sprinkler system is finally repaired.  The connecting pipes were disconnected from the main pipes.  The general belief is this happened due to the tilled soil settling and/or running over them with heavy weight.  We deep tilled the soil before installing the pipes due to the problems in the yard with chunks of debris buried in it.  We removed several truckloads of trash and concrete before the yard was ready for seed.  I would rather repair the sprinklers than have toxic trash and bits of concrete work their way to the surface, ewww.  The side yard was not tilled and I am still digging out trash from inside the house six years later!  Six heads repaired or replaced and my dead lawn is good to go again.

I feel like this was a good weekend.  Sprinkler system repaired, shed painted and a great talk on Sunday from Andy.  No Elvis impersonator this Sunday, but a great version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love”.  My take away this week is to love on purpose, to think before I speak and to bear with those irritations in life.  (Co-workers come to mind, 468 days to retirement!) More positive thinking and positive talking!  I also spent time with the beautiful daughter, son-in-law and my stolen son’s daughter.  The four of us walked through IKEA, (g-daughter and I did it twice) so daughter could get design ideas for their new house.

P.S. Could you use some relationship help?  The current Thrive Church-CA series is all about relationships, some good talks with usable information from Andy Bernard and Jeremiah Aja.  Check out Thrive Church-CA!

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Filed under Family Times, Foster Children, Garden, Homeowner

Don’t Wait to Say You Care!

life-handle-with-care

A friend of mine recently posted some wonderful family photos on FB. I miss her, we grew up together and her Mr. Man took her to the opposite coast. They have had a wonderful life as far away from tragedy they could get and still be in the United States. Her FB photos of her handsome grandson triggered nightmares for me. I’m writing this post to try to exorcise the negativity and avoid stress eating my lunch. My nightmares centered on the dichotomy of the following paragraph. I’ll try not to be in too much of a rant in the following comments.

My friend’s father is the reason that I am a Christian.  Mr. P. was the kindest man I had met growing up.  He demonstrated his kindness as a Christ follower in ways that the rest of us aspire to in more flawed ways.  (So glad I don’t have to work my way into heaven!)  He was a loving father, husband and son.  He served his fellow man in all the ways he could.  Isn’t there always a “but” with humans?  But, he suffered from multiple personality disorder.  We never knew until a horrible thing happened.  He was tried and convicted of the horrible thing and went to jail, never remembering the horrible thing that Jack did.  It left Mr. P. a broken man to think he did this horrible thing and a week of this life was forgotten. What was left was a soul shattered life missing important pieces.

Fast forward to this morning: My co-worker brought her coffee cup into my office today and expounded on the self-centered nature of drivers. On and on she went as if she had saved up all her words to use on this one subject. I agree that we have become a self-centered and sometimes narcissist culture. My co-worker was upset because a vehicle was slow moving, often at erratic speeds. Her niece was driving, yelling at the man, her 18 year old friend in the back seat flipped him off as they passed. My co-workers concern was for possible retaliation, not that the driver might be impaired or the young adults need some anger management and road rage training.

The nightmare, still fresh in my mind, of Mr. P. driving around for a week before being picked up by the police stumbling, hungry, dehydrated and incoherent, rambling as one of his lesser personalities asserted himself. What if Mr. P. had been that erratic driver? What if it was one of my military heroes who suffer daily with PTS? There is a host of mental illness, medical conditions, grief and stress that could result in an erratic speed, not just distracted driving or a jerk driving as a self-appointed traffic monitor . Caution should be a virtue practiced at all times. I tend to practice the negative form of caution, cynicism. Either would have worked, as well as a touch of empathy, during this driver training exercise between my co-worker and her niece.

I have driven at erratic speeds, appearing fine to the world, while grief was crushing my chest like a 500 lb. weight. I would give much to say thank you to Mr. P. for all his kindness and unconditional love to an awkward young girl. I would give even more to erase the horrible thing from their lives. I would trade the rest of my life to be able to be with my beloved. The opportunity is gone. I must wait until my time to see Jesus is due and then I can see them all again. I grieve words not spoken, the road not taken.

Tell your loved ones you care, not only that you love them, but that you care about them. Give them a hug! Cut people some slack and eliminate provoking behavior from your daily life. How much better would this life be if we didn’t swear at each other, call names or gesture obscenely? Consider how you can improve the quality of your life in how you conduct yourself. Dare to care for the human race by being kind!

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Filed under Grief, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Marriage, PTSD

I Can Sleep When I’m Retired?

Most of the insulation is done for the attic space that will be closed in as a bonus room.  The wiring is complete and I only need to build the wall out that the door will be installed on.  I drove my trusty truck and picked up 10 sheets of drywall.  Now, how do I get those 10 sheets up the garage stairs into the attic?

Daughter is on a weight restriction, no go.
Son-in-law is working late, too late.
Foster son is working overtime, too tired.
Neighbors are out-of-town, no go.
Friends are older than me, nope.

Pastor Andy’s sermon from Sunday reminded us that we can create our own loneliness and isolation.  When we are hurt or even grieving, we withdraw and then wonder why we are lonely.  He challenged us to reach out instead of withdrawing, to ask for help when we really need it.  O.K. so is this a test to see if I was listening?  We have a neighborhood watch app for my street that includes four or five neighboring streets.  I posted a note that I needed help unloading 10 sheets of drywall.  A kind husband/wife team in their 70’s were the ones that showed up to help.  The wife and I switched off carrying one end and the husband carried the low-end.  I was very grateful for their help and sent them home with jam, honey and a dozen eggs from the girls.  They were so helpful and would not accept money, true neighbors!

I checked the punch list.  I’ve been telling people I was down to 30 something.  I’m happy to say that I am down to 28, Whoot!  Down from the original 100 and no under 30!  Tonight I will be cutting drywall to fit into the small spaces.  Tomorrow night my son-in-law will be over with his might and height to help with the ceiling drywall.

Sigh!  I will be happy when all the construction projects are finished.

28

 

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Filed under Grief, Homeowner, Projects, Uncategorized

The Sounds of Mrs. Winchester

Ahh, September, and a better attitude!

The kids call me Mrs. Winchester because of my “punch list”.  I can hire the work done or live comfortably in retirement.  So this month I have been hanging insulation in the attic, framing in part of it, and finishing with drywall.  I need to have the painting and carpet done by the end of the month.

I’ve put the screws to my independent daughter to move back in with me.  I have all this space to myself and not even a cat shares it with me now.  I want to be able to travel when I retire and having the kids there will give me freedom.  My house has two bedrooms upstairs and two downstairs with the master on the first floor.  That gives them a certain degree of privacy and the bonus room in the attic will give them even more space to spread out and two external entrances once the deck is rebuilt.  Plus, there is the added security of having a large 6′ something man hanging around brings as well as fewer hours the house is unoccupied.  They will bring with them two hefty attack cats.

The original deck was causing a major water problem and mold so it had to come down.  I hope to have it rebuilt by the end of October but the City is a bit slow on the permitting process.  It will provide even more privacy and a nice relaxation space overlook the backyard.

I’m a bit frustrated because I can measure, cut and place the boards, but I can’t seem to seat those screws and I have to ask a manly man to come finish them off for me.  So much for equality of the sexes, we are equal, just not the same. Sigh! At least this way the work progresses and I don’t have to wait for someone to donate their free time.  Mr. T or my friend Dahve are happy to finish off those screws since it doesn’t take much time.  Dahve is always ready to give me building advice.  He dropped by this week because I was two inches off and didn’t see how to solve the problem.  He had a quick answer that provided a nice finished look.  There is no substitute for experience!

The chickens are doing fine, enjoying the seeds from the spent cardone.  I didn’t get to cook and eat much this year because of my schedule so I let it go to seed.  The vocal birds encouraged this.  My feathered friends come when I get close to the plants and bock at me to pull the fluffy tufts to get the seeds.  They push each other out of the way to compete for treats.  I’m constantly amazed by these dinosaur relics.  Their fantastic eyesight is demonstrated as they zone in on the little seeds and pluck them with 100% accuracy out of my hand, never hitting my hand once!  Chicken T.V. is still the best show around.

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Filed under Chickens, Homeowner, Projects