Work can be fun

  • Had a meeting this evening with one of the groups (the nicer one). I'm officially there to take the minutes and answer questions about the project, but this group actually listens to me, and they decided to go with the author I suggested for an article! That's a good feeling. But I'm pooped now, so I'm heading off to bed in a minute.
  • Cold. Even though it's just below freezing, there's a hefty northeast wind that makes everything seem colder. I'm now wearing thermal underwear every day, and I use an electric blanket when Man is not here. Have to decide tomorrow whether I can take Horse to her vet appointment on Thursday to have the leg checked. The main roads are fine, but the rural road where she lives is covered with ice. It's only about half a mile, if that, to a main road, but if it's not an emergency I'd rather not chance it with her in the trailer. Have to see how the road is tomorrow.
  • The little Christmas shopping I've planned is going well. Love internet shopping. Never had a problem with it, except for one time last year when some flake on Etsy (not saying that everyone on Etsy is a flake!) took my money and didn't send the goods. The PayPal complaint procedure works well, by the way. I got the flake suspended from PayPal until she paid me back. Take that!

Let it not snow...

  • Well, I was hoping it wouldn't happen, but it did...snow. Only an inch or so, but enough to make biking treacherous. I'll continue as long as I can. The temperature is not going to be rising anytime soon.
  • Dragged myself to the gym again; hope to go twice this week, which has been the plan all along. (I did, until my dip last month.) I really must let myself reap the benefits of exercising. I was thinking today, I have the kind of body that isn't strong (although I can leg press 100 pounds) or sculpted, but it needs the exercise to work out back tension, keep the blood flowing, reduce stiffness, give energy, try to increase the cardiovascular fitness. And it probably won't ever be easy for me to keep it up, but missing a session makes a difference in how I feel. This is where ya gotta be an adult, folks. Still working on that sometimes... :-)
  • Talked to my fave uncle. He sent me a little wooden ring with flowers painted on it for Christmas. (I peeked.) I like it just because he sent it to me.

And so to bed

  • After a crazy week, a bit of respite today before starting up again tomorrow. (A colleague of mine has a personal situation requiring her to be somewhere else during the week, so we are doing our joint work this weekend and next weekend.) It's cold, but not raining or snowing, so I can use my bike as much as I want, which I much prefer to walking (leg problems). I hope it just won't snow at all this winter, much as I love the way it looks and sounds outside after a snowfall.
  • Hope that everyone has a happy and safe weekend! I'd love to hear how people will be spending their weekends.

Nothing like pumpkin pie

  • The pumpkin pie was a big hit! Not difficult at all. And the maple whipped cream was, in a word, amazing!
  • I'm thankful that I am free to decide to use my time to make a pumpkin pie, that I have a kitchen to bake it in, and the rest of the house to eat it in, that I can afford these things and am healthy enough to enjoy them, that Man and I are happy and that I live in relative peace. I know there are many people who can't say the same. And there are plenty more things I'm thankful for.

Take it easy...but how exactly?

  • Although I am not a Buddhist, I can "relate" to many aspects of Buddhist philosophy and practice. One point that seems to keep coming back in my thoughts is "lovingkindness". It's closely related to compassion, and may be familiar to many people from the Plato quote: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." The post on Brave Girls Club illustrates this so well. Melody reminds us very movingly how we can't see what's going in another person's life just by looking at them. It makes me think of the times I've actually wanted to put a sign on my desk, saying, "Can't you recognize that I'm doing the best I can?" Or one saying, "Can't you see how much your behavior is hurting me? Don't you care?" Of course, we won't make those signs. But we could, in a different way: by somehow making known what we would like to put on the signs. It takes courage to say that someone is being hurtful. And there's no guarantee that saying it will solve the problem (says one who knows). I'm always looking for some kind of balance between different ways of "protecting" myself, on the one hand making sure I'm not too hardened, on the other hand being hard enough to say "NO!" when something goes too far. Trying to gauge when I should give a sign and when it would be better not to. And trying to learn that the consequences are not predictable, and that I'm not always responsible for someone else's reaction. It's definitely not easy, all this interpersonal stuff. But the other end of the spectrum is loneliness, being cut off, wasting our possibilities. Meeting others in openness can bring big rewards to those who dare to try it.
  • And now for something completely different...I've made my own pumpkin puree! Tomorrow morning the pie. Man has never had it, so I'm curious what he'll think. Me, I love the stuff. And I read somewhere you can put maple whipped cream on it; how amazing would that taste?

Just passing through

  • It's a crazy week, with three work projects running at the same time (one of them is for the group I dislike), extra work because of Horse's leg problem (walking her and cooling the leg twice a day) and a number of other things, including making a pumpkin pie, my only tangible genuflection to Thanksgiving Day. I find it helpful during this kind of week to make a table with three rows (morning, afternoon and evening) and the same number of columns as the first several crazy days. Then I fill in what I will need to do during which part of which day.
  • For those of us who want to help dogs and cats (and who doesn't?), there's a great free and easy way to do just that. Go to FreeKibble for cats and/or FreeKibble for dogs and play the trivia game. For each answer - right or wrong! - given, ten pieces of kibble will be donated to animal shelters. The (other) very cool thing is that this program was started a few years ago by an 11-year-old girl! You can get yourself a daily reminder in your inbox, as I do, so you never forget to visit the sites. Run, don't walk, to sign up! See the badge on the right side of my homepage.

Riddle me this

  • I only have one question that bugs me enough to postpone my bedtime by a few minutes: what's the story behind the lone shoes you see on the side of a road? There's never a pair; if it were a pair I could imagine...well, probably more than I can imagine with one shoe. Is someone (I'm assuming it's the passenger) riding around out there with one shoe? Why? And, given that the shoe is not on the foot it's meant for, why is it lying here? Why not in the ex-shoe-wearer's backyard? Or at the home of the person with whom he (they're usually men's shoes, you know) had a secret tryst before escaping out the window just in time? Or anywhere besides here? Who has a theory about this?
  • Speaking of theories (yes, this is indeed how we end up going to bed too late): here's a shout-out to Rupert Sheldrake. Who is Rupert Sheldrake and what does he do? He's a British biologist (Cambridge-educated) who does scientific research on the intangible side of biology (my words). He's looking at "a larger scientific view of the world" (his words). I started with his book "Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home" and was hooked. At a seminar I learned something about his theories on "morphic fields", amazingly interesting. I have yet to read "The Sense of Being Stared At", but fully expect to be entranced again. Can't recommend him enough to readers who are interested in the "more" that's out there beyond the obvious physical world. Really fascinating.
  • And speaking of British biologists (I really see how this works, this bedtime thing), check out anything by Redmond O'Hanlon, who is British but not a biologist, and who jumped up in my thoughts because of his thoroughly engaging participation in the re-creation of the route Charles Darwin took around the world on the HMS Beagle. The website of that project is mostly in Dutch (it was beautifully filmed by a Dutch TV company), but in the lower left-hand corner there's an icon of a British flag. You end up with a list of posts in English. And the videos are incredible. Anyway, O'Hanlon has written several books describing his adventures while traveling. Again, recommended.

Love, public and private

  • So Wills/William and Kate/Catherine are getting married. I admit that I always look forward to these royal weddings. Love to see all those perfect-looking people walking around in their sparklies. :-) They seem very happy, as did Victoria and Daniel (Sweden) at their wedding. I hope they stay happy, which will probably be extra difficult living as they do under magnifying glasses. I love looking good and wearing sparklies, but I don't think I could live that way. 
  • And the way I do live...well, I had an appointment this morning and would just come home for a few minutes before leaving for another appointment that would take all afternoon. When I got home after the first appointment I discovered that Man, who was gone for the rest of the day to do his own things, had made me soup and set the table so that I could have a quick but good lunch. And done the dishes and made the bed. That's as good a princess feeling as any! 


  • So. Horse has "splints". At some point she must have banged her leg against something, or gotten a kick from one of her girlfriends, something like that. It's something like a bruised bone; the bone is not smooth anymore and is irritating the tendon lying over it. The place has been injected with something I forgot the name of because I was so astounded after hearing the cause of her problem. :-) (Later note: it was hyaluronic acid. Kind of like WD-40 for joints or other moving parts.) When I pick her up tomorrow they'll give me a report and a plan for further treatment. The prognosis is generally good, the vet said.
  • Nothing much else to report. Enjoying the media frenzy about "Wills and Kate". They do look happy, and I hope they stay that way.

What's next?

  • I was intrigued by Barrie Davenport's post, "Make 2011 the Year of You: 49 Days of Preparation" on Live Bold and Bloom. It's designed to help you "put yourself first"; I think it is applicable to any big change(s), whether or not you have problems putting yourself first. The thing I like is the step-by-step approach to identifying goals and identifying the steps needed to reach them: it's actually divided into discrete steps for each of the 49 days until the end of the year. And the plan doesn't ignore the problem of negative thoughts we and others might have. I recognize elements of Getting Things Done, including the need to look at your life from different levels in order to discern what's working and what's not. A very good point is the emphasis on integrating your plans into your social system. For example, the author asks you to share your goals with friends and family and to plan for their reactions. You're also invited to choose two people to whom you'll be accountable with respect to achieving your goals. (That's two people other than yourself. :-) ) And if this all sounds like too much hard work, there are rest days and inspirational articles included. Soooo...I think I'm going to give it a whirl. I love making lists, using notebooks, thinking about what I'd like to do or be. This looks like a great short-term project in which I can do all these things, while paving the way to the realization of important goals. What's not to love?
  • Had a wonderful weekend with Man. I certainly am lucky.
  • The animules, as my favorite uncle always says, seem to be happy. Horse is going to a clinic tomorrow. She's not lame or ill, but her way of moving has not been totally normal. After a check of her back and her saddle it's time to have a more in-depth check. Hope the mist lifts early tomorrow, otherwise we won't be going anywhere. Safety first.

Love and dreams

  • I read another lovely post by Courtney Carver, revealing some very personal experiences with love. I was really touched by it. What she's learned from her husband and her marriage resonates with me (I feel lucky to be able to say that). "Not everything needs to be resolved": so true! I'm so glad her husband didn't take her up on her offer to "let him off the hook" (my words). :-) And what a fantastic idea, to propose to the daughter as well. I wish them all the very best and hope that many of us can experience the same depth and beauty in our lives and our relationships.
  • Interesting research into what the researcher calls "daydreaming". At first I thought: daydreaming can be a good thing: relaxing, helping the creative process, etc. But if I read the story correctly the research is more about a kind of multitasking, wandering off in your thoughts while doing something else. (I can't get the image of people filling in research forms during sex out of my mind!) This must fit in with what we know about mindfulness. I think the moral of the story is that daydreaming should be, well, daydreaming, in order to benefit us.
  • Hoping for a restful weekend. Orange muffins will most probably be a part of it! Mmmm....

Blustery, frugal (at least, MORE frugal)

  • Lots of wind today, and periods with lots of rain. Managed to avoid most of the rain.
  • Thinking a lot about how to arrange some financial things, balancing out short-term and long-term wants and needs. The animals can be expensive, as far as health care etc., but I'm not cutting down on that. By shopping at one of the discount grocery stores I've realized how much TOO much I've been spending at the regular grocery store (which isn't even the most expensive chain). It does help a lot to get in synch with Man, who's not a big spender. The trick (as it is with trying to lose weight, for example) is to choose the things you're willing and able to spend more on, and emphasize the things that don't matter much if you don't. The discount grocery store is an example of the latter. I do have to plan my trips there to coincide with other appointments, because it's not close to here (and I'm trying to save gas as well). For me the whole money thing is kind of loaded. There was very little money when I was a child, and that continued throughout college. Then I had a period of there being more financial leeway, and to be totally honest: I loved it. I loved the freedom. I loved being able to surround myself with things and situations I really enjoyed. Now I'm cutting down again to meet some long-term goals. I can do it, but sometimes I have to fight the fear of having no leeway and of having to "make do" with things I don't love. I don't particularly want to go back there. It should be possible to strike a balance.

Christmas is coming...

  • Getting going on the Christmas thang, which I keep pretty low-scale. Man always has a busy time up to and including Christmas, so I do some cards, think of a few presents I want to give, try to see a couple of people I haven't seen in a while. Sometimes I make some Christmas cookies. I saw something that might make a good present - in two senses. It's Kiva, an organization that facilitates microfinance. You can pick the person or business you want to help, based on geographical location, gender, sector, or individual/group. It occurred to me that this could be used as a Christmas gift, kind of like a donation to a charitable cause in the name of the gift recipient. Worth looking into.
  • Border Collie had a good vet visit today. Horse is unfortunately not what she should be. I think she'll be going to the clinic next week, since the back treatment she had didn't solve the problem. She's not lame, just not moving as she usually does, and I want to see what's bothering her.
  • I "cleared the decks" the last couple of days, trying to reduce the stress level that's been making me a bit snappy. You never know exactly how long you need to clear the decks. But I have been feeling happier and my mood is more even. Nice for everyone concerned!


  • So...the short version of the sheepherding story is that Border Collie did a fantastic job and had the most points! I should mention he has a visual handicap, and even with that handicap he blew everyone else away. Unfortunately, he nipped at a sheep right at the end of the second run, and nipping means disqualification. Actually, he did a very logical thing considering the situation at that moment, so I was proud that he took action to solve a problem. But it's against the rules, so no winner's trophy, just the knowledge that he was the best sheepherder there (aside from the nip). And  just to reassure everyone: no sheep was hurt. He didn't even get a mouthful of wool. :-) 
  • Mom is leaving the hospital today. There will be more tests later, but it looks like she got some kind of "bug" she just couldn't shake, and had to have support during her recovery. She's really feisty again. Wonder whether this is just because of the whole hospital thing, or whether it's some kind of new development in her personality.
  • Speaking of medical questions, there is as always an interesting post by Alex Lickerman on Happiness in this World, with his thoughts on medical screening. I don't agree 100% with his criteria for screening or not screening, but I always appreciate his well-considered thoughts, products as they are of both his medical training and his Buddhist practice.
  • I realize more every day that I get overstimulated by too much fast information. At the same time, it's addictive: I keep wanting to check the news sites, my e-mail, etc., my cell phone's on and I enjoy getting and sending texts. I often zap around the tv channels in the evening. I once read that constant running around on the internet is a sign of needing some other kind of movement, like going for a walk or whatever. Whatever the cause, I notice I really need to pay attention to creating moments/hours/days with less (or other) stimulation. Courtney Carver at Be More with Less just wrote a great post about "disconnecting". I agree (obviously) with her premise that we need to disconnect more, at least from the whole electronic scene. (It gives us room to connect in other ways, including with ourselves.) I also agree with what she says about the shift in perspective you get when you do turn off the electronics, however temporarily. Since Man and I communicate a lot by e-mail, this is a challenge for me. But I could certainly "let go" when I know he's busy or not around his computer.
  • Made two pans of brownies. Mmmmmm....
  • Mom getting feisty. On the one hand it's a good sign. On the other hand she can be kind of harsh. Not the easiest conversations to have.
  • Early to bed and early to rise: sheep tomorrow!

Not much

  • Was too tired last night to post. Mom is in the hospital getting tests. Not clear yet what's going on with her. 
  • Have to try to rest enough today so I can enjoy the sheepherding tomorrow. Also...I have to bake brownies for 45 people. :-) 

Mud. Wind. Sheep.

  • Last training session before the sheepherding trial-ette this coming Saturday. Man. It was muddy, there was that kind of driving drizzle rain that doesn't seem like much until you're out in it for an hour and a half, and the sheep didn't move. Haha. Sometimes you have sheep that run as soon as you look at them, and sometimes they just stand there and dare you to get them going. Frustrating for the dog, who'd really like to run. :-) Apparently we may have to drive them into a trailer on Saturday as part of the run. Haven't done that yet. Really enjoying the fact that a few friends are going to come and watch. Unfortunately, Man can't be there.
  • Anybody else running around in mud and rain as a hobby? It's supposed to be good for your resistance, being outside a lot. Well, I qualify.

Trudging along

  • After a weekend spent dealing with the backlash of my own medical news (sleeping an unusual number of hours, tissue in one hand, tea in the other, Man at the ready), and that of my Mom (not getting significantly better; unclear what exactly is going on), it felt surprisingly good to work this morning (annoying colleagues excepted) and reasonably good to go to the gym this afternoon. Not feeling so bad now, except that I'm ready to snap at total strangers if they even look at me. Have to cut myself some slack, I guess. At least I am doing the dishes and have brought some stuff to be sold second-hand for charity.
  • Fall has cut loose and it was foggy and leafy this morning. Ever since I was a kid I've loved fog: the way things melt into the fogginess, the hush, the lack of wind. Of course, whenever the sun decides to show up I'll be glad about that, too.
  • Christmas. Don't do a whole lot about Christmas, but Man and I have picked out a photo for Christmas cards. Do have to think of a few presents. Wonder how I'll deal with Brother's antipathy, because I'd like to send something to his child (I'm an aunt!). How do others deal with this kind of tricky situation, I wonder?
  • Animals are doing pretty well. Waiting for the osteopath to check Horse's back on Wednesday.