Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Quick Note to My Blogging Buddies

I feel sorta funny writing this post, but I'm guessing that some of you may have noticed that I haven't been around on your blogs as much lately, and I just wanted to give you a quick head's up so that you don't take it personally.

We're coming up on the second anniversary of my mother's death, and I find myself trudging through a bunch of emotional mud. I keep thinking that my childhood demons are "dealt with" but alas, it doesn't seem to work that way.

Anyhow, when my "mother issues" start to surface, one of my tactics for running away from it all is to go focus on everybody else's relationships with their mothers - or their relationships as mothers with their children, rather than to deal with my own stuff - and it's really not healthy for me.

So I'm trying to limit my exposure to anything that pushes my "mother buttons" and tempts me to go off into comparison land rather than focusing on the reality of who my mother was and my relationship with her.

This means that if you tend to write about raising kids, or your relationships/issues with your family, or any of a strange list of random other things that seem to inexplicably remind me of my mother, I'm probably not going to be visiting for a while.

It doesn't mean that I don't want to be supportive, or that I think there's anything wrong with what you're writing or doing. Seriously, a friend on Facebook posted something about how wonderful her mother is, and it sent me into a tailspin for 2 days!

Anyhow, I don't mean to be overly dramatic about any of this...

Just wanted y'all to know that I still love you guys, even if I'm not around as much as I used to be.

Big Hugs...

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Well, That Was Good Timing!

So my new smartphone got to go out for it's first bike ride today, and it was a real lifesaver - literally!

I took it out a few times, curious to see if I could find any wifi hotspots along the bike trail - and I actually did. I'm still a fumbling fool with it, but it's slowly getting better.

I took a few pictures along the way... I'd say the quality is not half bad...

The Bear Creek Open Space
At the top of Bear Creek Dam (Mt. Carbon)
The "Ice Water Palace" - in other words, the outhouse and water station
at the top of Mt. Carbon (which is a long, hard climb)
My "bike tattoo" I think I need to clean my chain!
So on to the lifesaver part...

As CatMan and I were riding home, we came upon a guy by the side of the path who was covered in blood and had obviously had a really bad crash. We stopped to see if he was OK, and he swore that he was... but honestly he didn't really look OK.

He wasn't wearing a helmet and by the looks of it he had fallen and hit his head pretty badly.

He had a big gash on his head, and couldn't even remember what had happened. I kept asking if I could call an ambulance for him and he kept saying that he was fine.

But CatMan just kept asking him questions and talking to him, and it became increasingly clear that he needed help. He kept asking the same questions over and over, and when he tried to stand up and almost passed out I decided to stop asking for permission and informed him that I was calling 911.

Thanks to the smartphone's GPS, they were able to pinpoint our exact location on the bike path, and the ambulance got there in less than 5 minutes.

But here's the disconcerting part. This accident hadn't just happened right before we came upon the scene. From the looks of the guy's injuries it had been at least half an hour or so, and from the pool of blood on the path it looked like he'd been laying there, probably unconscious, for a while.

Now this is a popular path, and it was full of people. In the few minutes that we were standing there helping the guy a whole pile of people gathered to see what was going on.

So why had nobody stopped before us to help him? I mean it's possible that they did and when he said that he was OK they just went on their merry way... but what about all that time he was lying on the ground? Did people just ride around him?!? Maybe they thought he was a drunk who had passed out or something?

Anyhow, I hope the fellow is gonna be OK - I don't even know who he was (other than that his name was Dave). In fact, I'm not entirely sure that he himself knew who he was (other than that his name was Dave!)

It's sorta ironic don't you think? I mean, part of the reason I got the smartphone was to have the GPS so people could find us on the bike path if there was ever an emergency, and the very first time I take it out...

So let this be a reminder to all of you...


'nuff said.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Say it Isn't So!

Well folks, I hate to say it, but...

I've been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Say hello to my new phone.

Yup, as of today I am the proud owner of a Motorola Moto G (3rd generation) - complete with 4G LTE coverage (whatever that means) and a 13 MP camera.

Why, you might ask, would a confirmed Luddite like myself take such a drastic step? Well... it just finally got to the point where not having one was more inconvenient than the trouble of getting one.

Now, lest you think that I'm going to become one of those earbud wearing, app checking, texting zombies...'s my rationalization... I mean excuse... I mean reasoning...

First of all, since Google's "mobilegeddon" it's pretty much imperative that all web pages be mobile friendly. This is what I've been working on for the past few months. And while I've accomplished a great deal using simulators, there comes a point when you really need to understand the mobile experience to effectively design for it.

Secondly... while I don't spend much time away from home, there have been a few times recently when it would have been really nice to have had a smartphone out on the bike path.

CatMan is pretty good at reading the skies, but the weather this summer has been nothing short of crazy, and there have been several times that it's been sheer luck that kept us out of the tornadoes, hail and major street flooding. Having access to the weather radar while on the road is starting to feel like a genuine safety concern rather than just a luxury.

Plus, having GPS would be really nice in the event of another emergency like the time CatMan fell and broke his pelvis. We called for help on my flip phone, but trying to figure out exactly where to send our rescue party was a bit... um... challenging. "Well... we're along Clear Creek somewhere - there's a big white building to the north, and some trees to our east... um..."

I am also really looking forward to having a phone and camera all in one - it will be one less thing to carry on my bike, and transferring photos will be a lot easier through my home WiFi than having to plug in the camera, upload them to the computer... yadda, yadda, yadda.

I probably would have gotten a much cheaper phone if it weren't for the camera. I wanted to be able to take decent wildlife shots yanno...

And finally, it's just getting to the point where doing business without a smartphone is becoming increasingly challenging.

Recently my online savings account changed their policy so you can no longer transfer funds to another bank without a smartphone (well... you can, but only if you're willing to wait on hold for about 30 minutes and deal with the PITA factor of having to go through customer support).

Plus, I've tried to sell some things on Craigslist recently, but they won't let me do it because I have to send a text to verify my account and I haven't a clue how to do that on my flip phone.

Anyhow, I just think the writing's on the wall, and not having a smartphone is getting to be like not having email or something.

Soooo, when the minutes recently expired on my pre-paid flip phone, I decided that it was a sign. So I bit the bullet & took the plunge.

I researched various budget smartphone plans and finally decided to go with Ting. It's a pretty good deal for someone like myself who doesn't intend to use the thing very much. You pay $6/month (per phone) to have the service, and an incremental fee on top of that based on your actual usage. And if you use WiFi for internet access, it costs nothing. I figure most months I'll probably only have to pay the $6 - and if and when I do need to make an occasional call or check the weather radar on the bike path, I'll be happy to pay the small fee for the privilege of doing so.

BTW - if anybody out there is considering signing up for Ting, if you do so through this link I'll get a little referral credit on my account.

So we'll see how this goes. So far my experience is... well... it took 5 hours to get the thing up and running. I'm trying not to hold that against either Motorola or Ting since I'm a complete newbie here, but it took me half an hour just to figure out how to turn the darned thing on!

I'm hoping it will get better... please tell me it gets better...

So tell me, do you have a smartphone? I'm assuming most of you do because I think I was sorta the last holdout here... Do you enjoy using it? Because, to be honest, at the moment I'm sort of having to fight the urge to throw the thing at a wall and watch it smash into little bits. Learning curves... it will get better...

In the meantime, I'm gonna go take a walk and leave this thing at HOME!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Taking Stock

OK... so my freezer inventory is finally complete...  Here's the damage:

Downstairs Chest Freezer
14 pounds(!) of cheese
4 12-ounce packages of scallops
6 jars of milk
6 jars of chicken broth
2 chicken carcasses, 2 gallon buckets of veggie scraps & 4 jars of veggie juice for making broth
6 eggs
2 small jars of chutney
3 frozen meals (2 lasagna dinners, one potato kale soup)
4 servings of frozen peaches
3 loaves of bread (2 are CatMan only)
Princess chicken
ice packs
15 packages of frozen veggies
1 pound butter

Upstairs Freezer
1 pound ground turkey
6 hamburger patties
1 hamburger bun
4 hot dog buns
4 hot dogs
3 chicken thighs
1 pound of chicken breast strips
3 pieces of salmon
5 pieces of cod
3 jars of marinara sauce
1 jar milk
Frozen veggies (about 6 packages)
Oatmeal bars (for bike rides)
Princess stuff (raw cat food, broth cubes, supplements)
Ice packs
1 loaf of bread (for CatMan)
1 jar of veggie juice and 1 package of scraps for making soup
3 packages of tortillas
2 very ripe bananas
1 pint apple & raisin compote
1 pint grape puree
1 pint of mystery something (I think I should toss it... whatever it is)
1 package smoked salmon

Hmmmm.... looking at this I can see that my food surplus falls into several definite categories.

First we have the things that I stocked up on because they were on sale.

The cheese falls into this category... seriously, it just kept getting cheaper! When it got down to $2 a pound I knew I didn't need anymore, but c'mon... $2/pound! How could I pass that up? Anyhow, the cheese is 2 kinds, shredded Italian blend that I use for making CatMan's special weekly lasagna treat, and shredded Mexican blend that I use for everything else. Anyhow, I'm not actually in a hurry to use this up, because the current price is now closer to $4.50/pound - so it's more like I want to ration it until it goes on sale again.

The frozen veggies also are in this category, though the prices there were less spectacular and since veggies are more prone to freezer burn, I really do need to eat them up. The butter was also on sale, and it will get eaten quicker than I like to admit! The tortillas also probably belong here.

Next we have things that are waiting for me to have time to deal with them - by this I mean all of the stuff for making soup and stock.

Here's the deal... it's HOT here, and I the idea of simmering broth on the stove for hours at a time... well, it's just not gonna happen for a while. Someone suggested once that I could do it in a crock pot in the garage... and I have considered this... The thing is, I sorta suffer from an "out of sight out of mind" kind of problem, and there's a significant possibility that I might burn the garage down if I tried this. I suppose I could use the solar oven... but that would still leave me with soup to eat, and it's just hard to want to eat soup when it's 95 degrees out! Well anyhow, the soup fixins might have to wait until this fall...

Next we have stuff that I either make or buy in bulk and freeze because I don't use it very often - or it's for CatMan and doesn't get eaten often, or for Princess. The milk, the oatmeal bars, the bread, the marinara sauce & all the Princess stuff falls into this category. (Princess gets treats of roast chicken breast & chicken broth, but she consumes them in very small quantities, so I freeze them in ice cube trays and little packages so we don't waste it.)

Next we have stuff that I froze to save it from going bad. The eggs (check out Lili's page for info on freezing eggs - though next time I'll use slightly less salt) the bananas & apple compote all fall into this category. Need to use this stuff up!

Then we have the stuff that I bought because I had good intentions of using, or stuff that I made/put up at one point, but sort of forgot about it. Most of the meat & fish falls into this category (though I do like having some on hand... but not as much as I do!) The chutney, the ready to eat stuff, the frozen peaches, grape puree, and some of the frozen veggies fall into this category. Need to use this stuff up!

And finally we have the stuff I just don't know what to do with... ie the ice packs! So here's the deal, one of Princess' medications needs to be kept refrigerated, so when I order it, it arrives in a little Styrofoam cooler packed in ice packs. Oy! I really don't know what to do with either of these things... I think I have 3 or 4 coolers at this point and a pile of ice packs. I really don't want to just toss them. Any ideas what to do with them?

Well... one thing's for sure. I'm not gonna go hungry any time soon!

And I haven't even talked about the fridge, or the cupboards, or the garden (which is producing more food than I can eat at the moment...) Anyhoooo...

Part of me wants to just not buy anything else for a few months, but that really isn't totally reasonable. So I did buy some things for making CatMan's lasagna dinners - he's not exactly on board with these sorts of challenges. And I did also have to buy some chicken gizzards to make broth for Princess... so now I'm trying to eat up all of the cooked gizzards.... arrrrrg! Plus - Colorado peaches are in season, and I'm NOT gonna miss that, so I have bought some peaches (ok and some grapes and apples too - but that's all... well, except for that one little pint of Ben & Jerry's....)

So there you have it. I think it may take me a while to make a meaningful dent, but at least I know I don't need to buy frozen veggies, cheese or meat/fish for a while!

Any recipe ideas jump out at you?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Eating Down the House

So... sometime last week I was making a grocery list and dreading going to the store. I just didn't feel like dealing with it. Eventually laziness won out and I spent the evening communing with my couch instead.

Somewhere in there it hit me - how on earth can I think that I need to go to the grocery store when I have 2 freezers literally bursting with food, cupboards that are soooo full that I can hardly fit any more in them, and a garden full of fresh produce!

I just seem to get myself into certain eating patterns, and then it becomes easier to keep doing what I have been doing than to engage my brain and look at the situation logically. But the truth is that I've got a ridiculous amount of food in this house... so much, in fact, that I'm not entirely sure what I've got!

I think I once read about something called "Parkinson's Law" that essentially says that work expands to fill the time allotted. Well, apparently if you're like me (in other words, if you can't pass up a good sale, and react to stress by stockpiling food) food also expands to fill the freezer space allotted!

So. I'm on a mission to eat down the stockpile to a more reasonable level, and hopefully get the freezer emptied out enough to defrost it before the fall surplus arrives.

I'm not gonna do anything crazy like I did a few years back where I tried to go for a month with only a $25 grocery budget, as I think I could quite possibly go crazy without fresh fruit - especially at the peak of the summer season, but I am gonna try to re-arrange my eating a bit to use up some of my surplus before I buy more.

Anyhow, it's been about a week since I thought I needed to go shopping, and I've barely made a dent - nor have I noticed much difference in my eating. My last trip to the grocery store was on July 28 and I'm betting I can easily make it for a month with only a small trip for some fruit & a few things for dinners with CatMan.

Stay tuned folks... I see a freezer inventory in my future...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Hello (Again) World

OK guys... I'm sorry for my extended absence without any warning. Everything is fine, I've just been really busy. Well... busy and I felt like I needed a bit of an attitude adjustment

Do you ever feel like life is just overwhelming? I've been there a lot lately, so I decided to take a step back and survey the situation.

Here's the deal. I feel like I've been drowning in sand.

I may have blogged about this before, but there's an analogy out there about putting your big rocks first.

Basically, the analogy goes like this. Your time is an empty jar. Your tasks are rocks, pebbles and sand. The big rocks being the important stuff, the pebbles the stuff that sorta matters, and the sand is the stupid little stuff that only really serves to distract us. If you put the sand in first, you'll never have room for the rest. But if you put the big rocks in first, there will be plenty of time for the small stuff around the edges.

So I've been on a mission to get the pebbles out of my shoes, and deal with some of my big rocks... or watermelons, as the case may be...

Now... I'm not saying that you guys are sand, because my blogging buddies are important to me. But it's just soooo easy to spend an entire day cruising the blogosphere, getting all self-righteously indignant about anything out there to be indignant about, feeling inadequate compared to all the people who really have their shit together... yadda, yadda, yadda.

So here's what I've been up to.

1) I've been working. 

I know... say it isn't so! But here's the deal, I've totally let my webpages languish over the past few years, and, well, my income had dwindled to a level where even my frugal little self is having trouble making ends meet. So I've pulled myself out of mothballs, and I'm re-tooling my old MySpace glitter graphics/meme sites to work on mobile platforms for use on Facebook & Twitter. I got an extra shove in this direction by the fact that Facebook recently announced support for animated GIF's (all of my glitters are all animated GIFs) - that was the carrot... and Google provided the stick by deciding to demote all webpages that weren't mobile compatible.

Sooooo... this all meant that I had to get Facebook & Twitter accounts (lots of opportunities for sand there) but I'm trying to remain strong. I have to say that web based programming is a bit like trying to speak a whole handful of languages simultaneously. HTML, PHP, Javascript, SQL - holy moly! But I'm getting my brain to work again, and it's all good.

2) This will horrify the minimalists out there, but I decided that I really needed to buy some things.

Specifically, I decided that I needed more bike clothes, and more cat food dishes. Because, while my cats and my bike rides with CatMan are big rocks, but laundry and dishes are most decidedly pebbles. I have to say, that having enough of these items to comfortably make it through until there's a full load to be done has made a world of difference. I guess sometimes, having less is not always the answer!

BTW... remember my Commando dream in the last post... the part about having ID printed on your socks? Well, one of my new pairs of bike shorts is a cheap made in China brand (I know, I know, it's an eco-sin, but bike shorts are expensive and consider point number one above.) Anyhow, I almost died laughing when they arrived in the mail and I looked at the tag:

My, oh my!

3) I've been trying to take better care of myself.

So, I've been doing yoga again, trying to eat better (back on the veggie bandwagon) and get more sleep. It's all wonderful, but it does take a bit of time. But I figure this is "big rock" time, so it's totally worth it. The sleep part has been a tad bit challenging what with Princess needing to eat every 4 hours or so... plus, she also requires some rather um... "intense snuggling."

But she's doing wonderfully, so it's all worth it. Seriously, the other day I got worried because she wasn't in one of her regular spots, so I went looking for her... found her at the top of the kitty tree looking out the window. Not bad for a cat who is supposed to be on death's door!

So that's what I've been up to... oh... and the zucchini harvest has begun... did I mention I wanted to get more veggies in my diet?

Anyhoo... that's the news from the funny farm...

Hope life is treating you all well!