Monday, June 30, 2014

Wild child

I haven’t posted much about the kitties recently, and realized it’s because the boys have settled down for the most part and don’t tend to do so many crazy things. Oh they’re still quite playful and have their little idiosyncrasies but neither one is out and out wild any more. That’s a relief, especially at night. Nowadays we’re more likely to be woken up by one of the boys crying in our ears rather than breaking things in another room. Even Wally has mellowed.

These days I have two cushions on my desk—there’s a cut down brown cushion left over from an old Poyang chair from Ikea on the left side that Eddie claims, and an actual pet bed (dog, to be specific but don’t tell the cats) on the right side (that’s mostly all Wally’s). I didn’t want to give up that much real estate to the cats but found that if they didn’t have a cushion, they tended to sprawl and then push things off my desk with their paws. That gets dangerous when what’s pushed is a full cup of coffee which then spills on electronics nearby like cell phones, keyboards or tablets.

Chloe remains firmly ensconced either on the second Poyang cushion (which is on top of the two drawer file cabinet between our desks) or on the pink knitted blanket our friend made for us. She still gets huffy if I don’t make the bed quickly enough in the mornings; she will wait and cry or grump until I get the blanket folded and into its proper spot so she can knead it and then curl up to sleep most of the day. She’s 14 or 15 years old now, so she sleeps a lot.

Eddie still loves, loves, loves his pumpkin with his canned food. He’s slimmed down a bit but let’s face it—that cat is always going to be a big boy.

And Wally is still the complicated, slightly high strung, easily bored cat he always was. This picture is pretty unusual. Normally you don’t see him that relaxed unless he’s on the pet (dog) bed on my desk.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

You just might be a precious snowflake* if you

  • Drive the wrong way in a one way parking garage so you can get to a parking spot faster.
  • Refuse to pick up your dog’s poop when your pooch poops in someone else’s yard OR
  • Leave your dog’s filled poop sack in someone else’s yard OR
  • Just generally toss any of your own trash in someone else’s yard.
  • Sniff that others aren’t very ladylike because they don’t talk the way you do and then you write judgmental things about those same people. Yeah, because gossiping is such a ladylike trait, right?
  • Take or make a cell phone call at your table while dining out anywhere more upscale than McDonald’s. 
  • Hit a parked car and then leave without calling the police or even checking to see how much damage you did to the other car (and you find out later you are exceeding your own $1000 deductible to repair the damage you did to your own car).
  • And big negative bonus points if you use the term “Jew” to describe someone’s behavior. That’s so far beyond the pale of anything remotely approaching appropriate that I think you’ve entered a special realm of nastiness.
Got any to add to this list?

*Where precious snowflake is not at all a good thing

Thursday, June 26, 2014

For a dear friend

My friend S has lived in the US since she was 14 (she's now somewhere in her early 30s but I couldn't tell you her exact age mostly because I don't know it). She was born in Saudia Arabia to parents who are Indian but really has lived here most of her life. After a really long slog full of insane bureaucracy, she's now a citizen.

I wasn't able to go to her citizenship party but I did make her a bag. I picked denim because it's a quintessential American fabric to my way of thinking, and I used a wild, brightly colored tie-dyed fabric on the inside. No, I don't think tie-dye is Indian but when I think of Indian fabric, I do think of very brightly colored fabrics. Here's how it turned out:

I'm so thrilled for her and so honored to call her friend.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Feeling groovy

On last Wednesday’s run, I saw a man walking toward me, up the very long hill that becomes nearly the end of my run on the way back. He had two white bands around his knees, they almost looked like gauze but weren’t. Honestly I don’t know what they were, but both knees were wrapped. He was walking but had clearly been running because he was soaked with sweat and as I passed him, I could hear his very heavy, labored breathing. He sounded so bad—and looked so bad—I wondered if he were having a heart attack and if I’d find him on the second half of my run.

I didn’t see him though, and gave him no more thought until Friday’s run, when I saw him again. Again both knees had the white wrappings and again he was walking, and just gasping for air. As I had on Wednesday and as I always do, I waved on my way past but got no return wave. I’m guessing he didn’t have any energy to spare.

I saw him again this morning –same exact story with the knees, the sweat and the breathing, and again no wave. No biggie, he was on the giant hill and that sucker can drain your will to live. But I also saw him on my way back and this time I got a hand flop in return. Progress!

I know it can be really intimidating for people to start running. We feel so self-conscious, like the entire world is looking and laughing at us. We think we look stupid, or slow or both and that other runners must be judging the snot out of us. So I'd been wondering if maybe he was thinking that way too.

But the thing is I don’t feel that way when I see people who are clearly new to running, or are slower than I am or just generally out of shape but are out there trying. I give a mental cheer, I want to high five them or somehow just let them know I admire them for giving it a try. So if I feel that way, why do I not ascribe similar motives to those are much better runners or athletes than I am?

And with that realization this morning, I’ve decided that exactly what I’m going to do. When a gazelle passes me, I’m going to believe he or she is cheering me on and giving me that mental high five.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Silver lining

So allergies are bad this year; I'm hearing it from all my friends and certainly feeling it myself. My ears have been clogged for a month now and I have a hard time hearing things. But here's the silver lining: I can't hear my husband's snores as much! Whoohoo!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Maybe this is good enough

Professionally, I work in the change management and training development/delivery space. As part of any change management initiative I handle, I always share a reframing tool that helps people who are going through changes. Basically it’s a four square that looks a bit like this:

During my run this morning (because yes, I am still running), it occurred to me that I need to reframe my perspective on running (and the rest of it). I’m so goal oriented that it’s pretty much impossible to do something just because. I’m always looking for the point, the achievement or accomplishment. For running, the goal has always been to go faster and faster. But I’ve known for years that I’m not a fast runner, so I’ve had different, although still performance-based, goals.

For example, I’ve used distance as a goal (currently I run just under 3 ½ miles and as you might imagine, I had to work up to that distance), as well as running all hills without stopping. If you are not familiar with Kansas City, you might be surprised to learn that it’s quite hilly here and my run is no exception. I have a pretty good hill almost at the end of my run—it’s both long and kind of steep. I’ve written before about using difference houses along the way to mark my incremental improvement on running that hill. Now I own the hill and in fact when I drive up it, I almost always say or at least think “I own this hill.” Silly, but it works for me.

If I shift my perspective and think about running the way I do about, say, brushing my teeth, then my speed doesn’t really matter, or at least it moves down in terms of priority. I’m not trying to break imaginary speed records; instead I run for mental and physical health, and for greater lung strength. I can see parallels between those results and the reasons I am such a fanatic about flossing and brushing my teeth. I focus on consistently running when the weather allows, and finding some other aerobic activity when it does not.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sometimes I wonder

Sewing, yoga, running and blogging—four things I enjoy for the most part, although I’m not exactly what you’d call expert in any of them. Generally my enjoyment of these activities is enough for me, but sometimes I’m so competitive that I get myself all knotted up over my lack of expertise. Occasionally, it’s been bad enough that I’ve actually stopped doing one or the other.

Case in point, I’m trying to step up my fitness because I feel better that way. Tuesday morning, I did the hardest lower body weight workout DVD I own and just got more and more sore as the day wore on. Yesterday was a run day, and I was so sore from Tuesday’s workout that the run was miserably tough. I kept wondering why was doing this, why run, what’s the point? After all, I don’t run races (I hate to lose so it’s not fun for me), I’m not in any sort of a running group (which is way too reminiscent of running when I was in the Army, so no thanks) and it’s just me out there at 5 AM which is stupidly early because I have to be up by 4:30 to be able to run shortly after 5 so really—why do I do this?

I feel the same way about blogging. I certainly don’t have a big audience, I rarely get comments and yet I keep writing and have done so for six years and over 1100 posts.

Sewing—same story, different verse. I sew some things well, but struggle with others (forget welt pockets, they are dead to me). And still I buy patterns and fabric and I sew.

Yoga isn’t any different.  I will never be able to have my feet flat on the ground when I’m in downward dog, not ever. My triangle is a sad little triangle because I just don’t bend that way. I keep doing it though, in the hope that as inflexible as I am, I won’t lose the little that I do have as I get older.

Yes, I enjoy these activities. But sometimes I miss the days of being really quite good at something. Maybe you have to learn all these things quite young or maybe you really do have to be born with a certain build or whatever. All I know is I’m mostly right in the middle of mediocre and sometimes that just isn’t enough.

Edited the title because tone can't be read online and this isn't about me feeling down on myself or depressed. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Until recently—as recently as Sunday—I would have told you that vertigo and dizziness were the same. Not so! I know now because I looked up inner ear + nausea after a truly wretched night of vertigo (not dizziness) and puking.

According to Dr. Google, dizziness is more about feeling as though you’re going to faint. You might see black spots and things may whirl but the emphasis is on the lightheaded feeling you get. Vertigo is feeling that everything is spinning around even when you know for a fact it is not (and it most certainly was not on Saturday night—but you couldn’t have convinced my brain and my stomach otherwise).

Thanks to seasonal allergies and bad ears, I generally have a few weeks every year when I can’t hear well because my ears are clogged. I’m pretty certain that I have woefully ineffective Eustachian tubes that don’t do a very good job draining my middle ears.  This lines up with my childhood experiences, when I did have a lot of ear infections.

This year, the tree pollen count started quite early and has been exceptionally high. So even with my normal regime of anti-allergy medications, I’ve been struggling with my ears. I’d had some bouts of vertigo but nothing like what happened Saturday night.

For about two hours, I barfed every 10 to 15 minutes while Kent, who truly is a saint, waited patiently for me to sort of shove the bucket his way before I gingerly lay back down again on the bed. He told me later he really wanted to rub my back or something while I was so ill, which while sweet would have earned him growls from me. I hate throwing up, absolutely hate it and I can’t stand to be touched while it’s going on. Just let me be miserable and then you can rub my back when it’s all over.

The next day, though, I was really curious. I knew I didn’t have anything seriously wrong, this whole episode was so clearly tied to my ears and my allergies but I wondered if there was anything else I could be doing. And that’s when I learned about the difference between vertigo and dizziness. Now you know it too.

As a sort of gross aside, the vertigo is mostly gone. In addition to ditching one OTC for a different one, I also suspect that my very vigorous puking somehow opened up those Eustachian tubes enough for my ears to drain.

And just because, here's an ear worm for you. Ear worms are nothing like being dizzy or having vertigo.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Needles and me—a family story

My daughter-in-law posted a story about her daughter having to have blood drawn, and mentioned that it was a scary situation for A. Well, I can completely relate to that so here’s a little story about me and needles.

I have always feared needles. Maybe it’s because I had more than a couple of penicillin shots as a kid (those suckers hurt) or maybe it’s just the needles—regardless, any trip to the doctor that involved needles also involved tears.

When I was nine or ten, my parents started the process to adopt a child. In addition to home studies and background checks and I don’t even know what else, we also all had to have physicals. And those physicals meant we needed to have blood drawn. Since my dad was an M.D., he did the physicals and blood draws.

Everything went fine until it was my turn to have blood drawn. This time, in addition to crying (at least I’m pretty sure I cried), I also ran. I ran all over that tiny house: down the stairs, up the stairs, into the kitchen, I mean I just flat out bolted. He couldn’t catch me and was absolutely furious. At the time, it seemed as though I ran forever, but it was probably more like a couple of minutes because truly, the house was pretty small.

Mom saw that things weren’t going well and managed to both get Dad to stop chasing and me to lie down on my bed. I do remember crying then, probably from the adrenaline dump, and my mom rubbed my hand. I calmed down enough that Dad could get the blood and yes, I felt it but I didn’t act out any more.

Over the years, I’ve gotten much better at handling my fear of needles but it’s never gone away. Some of the reactions are involuntary (I have puked when getting an IV installed because those suckers hurt), but I no longer cry from fear. I still hate them though, and I guess I always will.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sewing, fast fashion and me

A couple of weeks ago, I read a blog post about the author’s realization that she’d replaced buying fast fashion or disposable clothing with sewing fast or disposable clothing (sadly I don’t remember the site, it’s not one of my regular sites). Fast fashion items tend to be poorly made from cheap materials and generally don’t last more than a season, if that. They’re often made overseas in wretched factories like the one that collapsed last year in Bangladesh. I don’t like disposable fashion for a number of reasons, and generally avoid buying any.


I realized I have a pair of PJs I bought at Target three or four years ago that are close to disposable—and I’ve gotten close to four years of use out of them. Conversely, I have some clothes I’ve sewn that have gotten zero use, either because of fit or the end result didn’t look good on me or some sort of user error.

So there’s my dilemma: am I falling into the trap of replacing one less than ideal product with another? Waste is waste whether I made the item or not. Certainly, the process of manufacturing cloth produces a lot of pollution no matter where that cloth goes.

I’m writing all of this because Sunday Kent and I shopped at Old Navy. Now I’m not pointing a finger at Old Navy, well maybe just a bit, but neither of us have any illusions that the items we got are couture quality. Of course we didn’t pay couture prices, either. I justified my purchases by getting things I can’t make well for myself (shorts) but must confess I also bought a camp shirt because I love the fabric.

So the other part of the dilemma (aside from moral and environmental issues) is budget. Those clothes were inexpensive: we got four shirts for Kent, two pairs of shorts for me, the aforementioned camp shirt and two tank tops for under $100. The fabric alone would have cost far more than that—never mind the additional cost of notions like thread, interfacing or buttons or the cost of patterns if needed.

Clearly I’ve got no answers. What do you think about this issue?