Thursday, April 11, 2019

Time flies...

I don't remember much of February other than it was dark and cold and I worked a lot.  The start of March was still cold, but I was so happy to see the sun rising sooner in the mornings.  Then daylight saving time rolled around and the clock change screwed that all up.  I was out of sorts and grumpy for weeks afterwards and it stayed cold.  It feels like April 1st was just a few days ago instead of ten, but I guess that is what happens when one spends their time working 10-15 hour workdays and working quite a bit on the weekends too. 

Although it sounds like it's been all work and no play, the band has started getting together on occasion to eat, drink, and be merry play music.  We usually kick things off in the late afternoon and then turn off the amplifiers and quiet the drums at 10 PM in the interest of sparing the new neighbor's small children a poor night's sleep.  At that point we switch to doing Karaoke and hilarity ensues since none of us are the slightest bit good at it. 

I also watched quite a bit of TV (Netflix & Amazon Prime) because I was too tired to do anything else after a long workday and thoroughly enjoyed shows I normally never would have watched.  Turns out "fluff" TV is pretty good for letting my brain unwind.   I read books too, on those days when my eyes weren't too tired from staring at a computer screen all day.  I probably read more books in the last three months than what I read in the five years prior.

And this weekend I'm finally taking off a few days and will be spending the time at a cabin in the woods with some friends.  I've got another friend who is going to house-sit for me and take care of my dogs so I'll have a few days where I'm on a REAL vacation! 

Well, break time is over for now so back to work until 9 PM, but after that - VACATION TIME!



Thursday, January 17, 2019

Fighting the wintertime blues

January has always been a dreary month for me.  There are too many days that are dark and cold, often combined with rain, mist or fog and I usually get a bit down in the dumps during this time of year no matter what else is going on in my life.  This year I was already feeling depressed after Rob's death and even though I survived the holidays relatively well, the winter blahs have now arrived in full force.  This depression is frustrating, but I also know it is perfectly normal and it will pass over time.  I just have to figure out the best way to muddle through the next few months.  It's not easy for me to find any sort of motivation when I'm depressed, but I have managed to attempt a few things.

My office at work is a dark, windowless cave which is a plus during the hot summer months, but a total drag in the winter.  Right now it's dark when I go to work, dark when I come home and I never see any daylight until the weekend.  That's certainly not helping things so I've decided to work from home one day a week with my desk strategically positioned between two windows that will give me the maximum amount of daylight.  Today is the first day I've tried it and it's a nice change of pace. 

I've spent the last couple of weeks packing up Rob-stuff to go through later.  The packing up part has been difficult and hasn't done much to improve my mood, but looking at it all the time didn't help either.  If I have no immediate use for it, such as beading supplies, or it's something that will probably never bring me joy, like that really ugly skull shaped wooden thing hanging on the wall, then it goes in a box or a closet and I'll make the decision to keep it or get rid of it later when I'm in a better frame of mind.  The house is still 90% Rob, just pared down a little.  

I also got rid of the couches.  He died on one of them and there wasn't any way to keep them and not be constantly reminded of that day.   With that space freed-up, I moved the band equipment from the upstairs bonus room downstairs to the old living room and turned the dining room into my new living room.  We never used it as a dining room since it's by the front door rather than by the kitchen and the dining table just became a place to plop stuff down when you walked in the door.  It's too small of a space for a couch, but a love seat and a few chairs will fit and that's really all I need.  It will be a while before I have saved enough money for new furniture, but in the meantime, I have my camping lounge chairs and camping rocking chair.  They are actually quite comfortable despite looking a bit odd as indoor furniture. 

The junk car in the driveway is gone.  Rob insisted he was going to fix it some day, but he's certainly not ever going to get that done now so I donated it to my local public radio station. 

Cooking and baking are things that I used to really enjoy doing so this weekend I made five different quiches, chopped them up into individual portions, vacuum-sealed them and threw them in the freezer.  

Is any of this helping?  I can't say for sure, but at least it's more productive than just staying in bed under the covers, binge-watching Netflix which about all I really want to do. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

I survived the holidays!

This was a really tough holiday season.  Thanksgiving without mom and dad was hard enough, but without Rob?  The man who loved to cook and thought Thanksgiving was one of the best holidays ever?   Yeah, it was tough.  And then there was Christmas.  A big part of the fun of Christmas for me was finding as much cool stuff as possible for Rob on a limited budget. Skull shot glasses, Grateful Dead ashtrays, cheap novelty knives (one year I found one that looked like a grim reaper riding a motorcycle!), novelty salt and pepper shakers (he collected them) and silly gag gifts, it was so much fun!  I'd spend a whole month searching for these things.  But this year I only had to buy gifts for my remaining family; off-the-shelf toys for the younger grand-nieces/nephews and gift cards for the rest.  What a big yawn and it took me only one day to do all of it.  And when I was done wrapping the gifts, I realized that I had bought wrapping paper that was mostly black, with just a little bit of red and white. That wasn't a conscious decision, but it accurately reflected my mood. 

Overall, I never could get into the holiday spirit and quite frankly, I was pretty much depressed for the most of November and December.  But I did promise to go to my brother's house for the traditional family Christmas Eve dinner and gift exchange, now held there and no longer at my mom's house.  That thought stung a bit, but I forced myself to get out of the house and drive out of town to do it, fearing if I didn't go that I might start a new habit of never celebrating Christmas again. 

My sister-in-law did a great dinner spread and between my niece and nephew and their kids, there was plenty of family there.  Much to my surprise, I had a really good time and you can't beat having an adorable grand-niece fall asleep on your lap when she finally crashed around midnight.  I'm so glad I spent the night there with my remaining family instead of driving back home to an empty house where I'd be sorely missing Rob. 

Once I got home, late in the afternoon on Christmas Day, I proceeded to cook my own version of the perfect Xmas day dinner feast - tamales with chili con queso and my secret recipe for 60's side of the highway mom and pop restaurant where no one speaks English style Mexican rice.

I not only survived, but I came out much happier than when I started.  That is probably the best Christmas present ever. 


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

On the road again

I was able to drive to work yesterday.  It was very uncomfortable when I tested out my ability to do a "panic stop", but it didn't seem like I was going to be dangerous out there on the road so I went ahead and drove to the office.  It's about a 30 minute drive with several long traffic lights and always one or two panic stops on the way because the drivers here are horrible.  I pulled it off, but 30 minutes is about the most I can do and I'm not good for much walking afterwards.  That pretty much rules out making a grocery store run any time soon. 

Truth be told, even if I had someone else do the driving, there's no way I'd be able to walk the distance it takes to get through one of our huge grocery stores.   I won't starve though.  Only a mile from my house is a small convenience store that also has a meat market and carries fresh produce.  Well, "fresh" might be a misnomer, but it's better than nothing and it's the only option out here in the food desert where I live.  They call it a food desert because the closest grocery store is 10 miles away and about a 45 minute drive.  There's also no public transportation access and the cab fare is about $30 one-way.  Although the convenience store is a bit more expensive on some items, the extra cost is still a lot cheaper than paying $60 to go to and from the big grocery store in a cab.

The convenience store is what's called a "Mexican Market" which means things are not exactly the same as what I might see in my regular grocery store.  I'm not really sure what those cuts of meat are (other than the ground beef) and I'm also not sure what to do with them.  The produce is not your normal selections; nopales (cactus), chayote squash and other odd things.  The cheese selection is also interesting and I have already gotten used to putting Oaxaca cheese on my pizza because they don't carry Mozzarella. 

Now I can cook regular Tex-Mex any day of the week, but if I want any variety I'm going to have to go beyond my usual tacos, tostadas and enchiladas.  I'm hoping the internet can give me some clue on what to do with the unfamiliar cuts of meat.  I already know several recipes for chayote squash since I've been eating that for years. but I've never done anything with nopales.  Who knows, I just might be having cactus for dinner tonight.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A hard lesson

I'm a pretty independent person, not usually willing to let others help me out if I can do it myself.  My friends stepped in after Rob died and I was grief stricken enough to let that happen.  But apparently I didn't learn that lesson well enough so the universe saw fit to orchestrate another demonstration. 

This weekend I was out at Bastrop State Park with my friend Tracy for his birthday.  We were setting up a canopy that needed to be moved over a picnic table and I hopped up on the table to help move it along.  When I stepped off the bench of the table, my right foot landed wrong and it made the most interesting noise; sounded a bit like a Xylophone or a bunch of knuckles cracking.  I wasn't sure if it was a break or a sprain, but either way I couldn't put much weight on it.  No bones were poking out anywhere so I didn't see any point in going to the doctor right then; just threw some ice on it and went on with the party.  Other people joined us, we cooked dinner, I drank a lot of beer which dulled the pain, and had a wonderful time.

The next morning, my foot was no better and now this was a problem.  Not only did it mean that Tracy had to load up both cars all by himself, but I suspected that I might not be able to drive my car.  I gave it a try and was able to get the car up to the park office, but only just barely.  There was no way I could drive in traffic on a busy highway to get home. 

Tracy took me from the park to a minor emergency center in Bastrop where I was hoping they could fix me up enough to drive.  They took some X-rays, determined nothing was broken and it was only torn ligaments, but that I would not be able to drive for at least a few days, and most likely not for a week or two.  They gave me a shot for the pain and big boot to stabilize my foot.  I might not be able to drive, but with the boot I could hobble around without crutches for short distances and for that I was extremely grateful. Tracy took me home and found someone to drive my car back from Bastrop, a friend of his who had never met me and no reason to do that, but was more than willing to help out.  Not only did I have to rely on my friends, but also the kindness of strangers! 

Today I'm working from home.  I've got a co-worker who will give me a ride to work tomorrow.  What happens after that remains to be seen, but I suspect I'm going to have to lean on people for at least a few more days. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

A party for Rob

Rob didn't want a memorial or a funeral.  Instead, he wanted me to throw a big party like the ones we used to do at our house back in the 90's.  I chose Saturday, October 20th as the date, hoping by that time I could actually celebrate his life instead of crying the whole time.  There were a lot of preparations to be made and out of town guests to accommodate so I was quite busy in the weeks leading up to the event.  I decided to hold it at my mom's house since it has a large backyard. Tracy did all of the work to get that house ready for the party, even using his vacation time to do it!  We rounded up an assortment of tables and chairs.  There weren't enough chairs so I went out and bought some more. There weren't enough beds for the overnight guests so I went out and bought some airbeds (and had to wait over an hour at WalMart just to get someone to unlock the cabinet that held them!)  It had been raining for two weeks and was expected to rain the day of the party as well so I went out and bought some popup canopies (it didn't rain.)  We hauled PA equipment over there to provide the Rob requested music, both recorded and live.  Guests flew in and were picked up at the airport.  Then on Saturday morning a crew of friends descended on the party house to start cooking the food and setting things up in the backyard.  They did a fantastic job and I'm so grateful because there was no way I could have pulled this off by myself.

The party was everything that a Rob party should be, from the people to the food to the music.  I only cried twice, first when Bill brought in a beautiful memorial display and second when Matt Amos played the song that Rob always sang at our friends' memorials, Ain't no Grave.  I had planned to get  drunk, but ended up spending so much time talking with people that I didn't even get a buzz that night.  On the other hand, some of Rob's friends did get extremely drunk and although that might sound like a bad thing, it was just perfect.  Because it's not a Rob party unless one or two of the guests have had way too much to drink and have to be carried off to a bed or couch to sleep it off until morning. 

It was a fitting tribute to my husband and I was surprised that it provided me with quite a bit of relief. I didn't feel any sort of closure or relief from the funerals for my mom and dad.  Those events just seemed to deepen my grief.  This did not and I don't know if it was because more time had passed between death and event or if it was because this was truly a celebration and not some dingy, dirge of a funeral.  Either way, my recommendation from now on to anyone who loses a spouse is to wait at least a month, and then throw one hell of party. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Fall weather

Weather forecast for the Austin area issued 410 PM CDT Mon Oct 15 2018:

  • Short term (tonight through Tuesday night)...
  • much cooler temperatures along with widespread rain and a few thunderstorms can be found across south central Texas this afternoon. Temperatures are currently in the upper 30s to upper 40s across the region, compared to 24 hours ago when temperatures were mainly in the 80s to lower 90s.
Yep, that's Texas weather for ya - almost a 50 degree drop in 24 hours.