Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What's Grosser Than Gross?

Did you ever play the game "What's grosser than gross?" when you were a child? It was a very popular game where I went to school. The things that people came up with, it makes you wonder how many serial killers were in the group now that I think back on it.

I just spent my morning playing a live-action version of the gross game. I awoke early to a horrible, awful, disgusting smell. It was truly horrific. The kind of smell where your nose seems to curl inward on itself in some sort of self-defensive attempt at saving what little sensory receptors it can from the odoriferous assault.

I have to be honest here and tell you that I wondered for a moment if the love of my life snoring blissfully away next to me just had really bad gas. WHAT?! It's happened before. I mean, I love the man, but... seriously. (Is it just a guy-thing? And I know you ladies know what I'm talking about!) Yet, this was bad even for him.

I pulled on my running gear, thinking it was about time to go anyway, and maybe it was just the local farmers spraying manure on the fields again. I stumbled down the stairs, and the smell just kept getting worse.  I started opening windows. I opened a window where my dog, Lily, was crated and then continued on. Lily suddenly started yipping and making weird noises, and that's when I put it together (Hey, it was 5AM, and very little of my brain functions at 5AM - which is why it's the best time to run!)

You see, my parents brought their two cats with them... and their cat boxes which they've put in some interesting places. After two years, my lovely Labrador finally discovered the litter box. Being that she's a dog, Lily did what all dogs do when they discover the cat's litter box.

Let's just pause for an "EW!" moment.

Right, well, it turns out that this whole endeavor did not sit well with Lily's stomach. As in one giant pile IN the cage, and then a whole lot of you-don't-even-want-to-know outside of it, on the walls and floor. Honestly, I haven't ever seen anything that bad. We had to lift the entire crate - with Lily still in it - and carry it out through the front door and into the yard. That's where I stayed, spraying, and scrubbing everything. Including Lily.

My husband tackled the inside, which was the really awful part - and that's saying something considering the mess I faced. He's my HERO. The next person who asks me how I made it through 20 years of marriage, they're going to get that moment as an answer. If that's not love, I don't know what is.

The guilty, all freshly washed and smelling like coconut and sunshine. Seriously, why doesn't MY shampoo smell like that?! Does anyone know of a good brand that does, for humans? 

Our running block was totally shot, and I was sick to my stomach from all of this, but we decided to squeeze in a short (20 minute) run after everything was clean, bleached, and/or scrubbed within an inch of its life. So we headed out thinking that things could only get better. Right?

That was when I started noticing all the frogs. Frogs squished all over the road. My already irritated stomach started lurching, and I tried really hard not to look at anything on the ground. You know, that runner's gaze where you sort of make things blur except for passing cars and potential ankle twisting obstacles? I was going for that, but then we came upon what had probably been the biggest bullfrog in Vermont history. Freshly squashed, right in my path.

Now, I am normally not squeamish. I have cleaned up the most vile things as a mom, and not even batted an eye. I dissected frogs in school, and put up with all manner of nasty things without issue. But after my morning? That bullfrog almost did me in. I've only come close to throwing up a couple times while out on the run, but always because I had pushed too hard physically. This was the first time I contemplated finding a bush to throw-up in just because I was finally that grossed out.

I managed not to lose it, but I did have to stop a moment. That's when I took this picture:

We were running in some pretty thick fog. On the opposite side and in front of us, the fog looked like a giant black wall. It was pretty creepy. My husband even said "I've seen this movie. This doesn't end well for the runners!"

I'm really hoping the rest of the day gets (and smells) better! I'm off to help my parents move the last of their things into storage or in with us. For the record, I've been bang on track and even weighed myself - even while things are happening like my dad having a bowl of ice cream right in front of me, knowing that we don't do that and it's my favorite. Bang. On. Course. I have a lot to say about this, but my morning just blew anything else I had to say out of the water.

I will say I can laugh about this morning. Now, anyway. Have a great day!
Sunday, July 27, 2014

Critical Mass

Happy weekend all! Well... end of the weekend, anyway. Sundays are always a little bit sad, like some sort of farewell to the fun and back to real life. 

Do you remember being younger and just working for the weekend, so you could then go live your "real life"? Now that we're older, that seems to have switched and weekends are supposed to be an escape from real life. When did that change happen, I wonder?

Anyway, things have hit what we like to call critical mass because... my parents have moved in. I realized today that I have boomerang parents! Sort of like the boomerang generation that keeps moving in with their parents, my parents have now moved in with me more than I ever did with them. I did it twice, actually. I moved out right after I graduated high school with a total moron, did the whole soap opera thing, and then moved right back to my parents' house having hardly been away. I also moved in when we moved back from Chicago. We thought we would only be there a month, but then the housing market exploded and as soon as we had saved a down-payment we had to save even more. It turned into nine months, ick! That was 1997. Since then, we're at 3-4 times with them moving in with us. I'm not sure exactly how many times, I think because I tend to block out traumatic events. 

I suppose they're not true boomerangs, because it's not permanent. They're here until we get final word of us moving or staying, so we're thinking this will last about six weeks. That being said, that decision about whether to go should happen by next week. My husband is actually going to be down in NC for THE meeting and plans on exploring where we might live. After all, this isn't just whether they want him, but whether HE wants them and the location. (Yes, he's said yes, but there's still room to say no seeing as it's not solid yet.)

Merging households has been... stressful. They have two obnoxious cats that delight in walking on every counter and dumping anything they can. This has actually put my art projects in jeopardy along with my floors. For example, this is chalk pastel:

It turns out that you can fingerprint (pawprint?) a cat in chalk pastel. I don't know if this is going to turn out or end up in the burn pile at this point. 

Ok, I admit, I like the cats. But I'm glad I only have one. One GIANT cat that seems to be the only thing in this house that their two cats see as an alpha. Our dogs are completely cowed by them.

Anyway, bigger issues have already cropped up. I'll be talking about those later (because I tried in this post and inadvertently wrote War and Peace.) For now, suffice it to say that I'm beyond stressed. 

In some ways though? This feels almost like a relief. I mean, my parents have moved in with me - exactly how much more stress could possibly be piled on me at this point? I think we're full-up! So,  minus major tragedy (knock on wood, twirl three times, shake your booty to the anti-bad-juju beat) there is nothing more. Now SOMETHING has to happen. Decisions have to be made, and if my husband's company isn't going to do it, we'll be doing it for them. We have options, all decent ones, but it's come to the tipping point where if one thing doesn't happen, the other thing will. Period. The end of this pain-in-the-neck-since-February road! WOOHOO! 
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hot and Humid

First off, YAY to everyone who did the 5k this past weekend! I know it looks like only a few posted on the main blog post, but many posted on the Facebook Group too (if you're on FB, please join us!) Although, we do have about 50 people signed up... where is everyone? Too hot? Come join us for August, OK? We miss you!

...Oh, hey! Wanna know who won the canvas? *drumroll* Mary Fran! So... MaryFran, just shoot me a message and let me know what you'd like on your canvas and where to ship it to! Congrats!

Speaking of hot, it's awful here. The humidity is icky and sticky and foggy and it was 96 degrees just a few minutes ago. That's just wrong. Although, I'd probably complain less if we had central air. I'm finally throwing in the towel and begging my husband to help me put in the window units tonight since we're going to have a repeat of this all tomorrow. I don't care that we were told to never have the A/C units in if the house is going on the market. At this rate, it'll be Autumn by the time we do that anyway. It's not worth melting over.

Although, the heat and humidity is a good appetite suppressant. So, there's that. But the whole heat-stroke-thing puts a bit of a damper on that. "You'll be thin! Unconscious, sweaty, smelly, maybe slightly green and unable to recall any word with more than one syllable... but thin!"

My husband and I got up at 5AM, before the sun rose, to run this morning and it was still really hard. The humidity was super high, it was already warm, and the bugs were everywhere. Big bugs. Alien bugs (ever seen a dobson fly - nightmares, right there, people!) Maybe if I run in a snorkel?

Anyway, enough about creepy bugs.

On a completely new tangent (the heat is giving me blog-ADD) I read that taking a picture of yourself (selfie) - at all - is considered bad form. I can't even find the original article, but in summary? It's a faux pas. Essentially, you should share other things with the world and keep your actual image out of it. Oh, here's another one I found - meaner, maybe, but saying essentially the same thing.

Me, sitting in the car today - passenger side, because my daughter wanted to drive - thinking about selfies, because. Well, because it was 96 degrees and I had nothing better to do, other than obsess about my daughter's driving! I actually took this one just for the purpose of this discussion, however.
I actually try to NOT take selfies. I do now and again, but rarely. I feel bad every time I do (and I hate having my picture taken anyway - always have. Although, somehow it's easier being the one taking it.) However, I started taking a few for what I think might just be a valid reason; sure, maybe no one wants to see my selfie (even me), but I realize that I have almost NO pictures of myself since I moved out of my parents' house when I was 18. I take the pictures, I don't get them taken. Maybe someday, when I'm older, I'll be glad I have a few around - or my children will be. I existed, I was actually here, and not just holding the camera but occasionally in front of it too. There are times when you are supposed to step in front of the camera, but it's hard to tell when that might be. I do have an instagram, but mostly I take pictures of what I am working on, or my cat, or my dog, or my yard... Life in the fast lane, right here!

Also? I REALLY like seeing my online friends. Whether it be via Facebook or blogs, or what have you - I like seeing you. We spend a lot of time spilling our guts out online, but unless you're a 16 year old girl, you probably rarely take pictures of yourself too. I like seeing you. But then, I'm a visual person, so maybe that's just me.

So, to my blog friends; I'd sure love to see your lovely faces, and I'm really sorry if you didn't want to see mine.  But... HI! What do you think about the "selfie" debate - good, bad, a serious faux pas?

Lastly, I know this may be the wrong note to end my post on, but I just had to share. I was out with my daughter at the Walmart and saw this:

That is a wall o'Twinkies, right there. Now, I happen to hate Twinkies (something my mother doesn't understand. She worshipped at the Twinkie alter for many years, and was upset when they were going out of business.) But, I thought they were gone? Apparently, not only do Twinkies have unlimited shelf-life, they also reincarnate into alien flavors! That blue stuff is supposed to be some sort of blueberry-raspberry flavor. Ick. Just ICK! And while I have no desire to eat one, is it wrong that I'd love to get ahold of a vat of them and just squish them? It's their texture, it's just so odd to me!

Just me? Right. Well. *ahem* 
Saturday, July 19, 2014

July Chase the Stars 5k!!!

Welcome to our fifth (can ya believe it?!) 5k in the 2014 virtual 5k series!  Still want to join in today? You can! Just sign up on the original post or by joining the Facebook group and letting me know by leaving a comment here or there, go do your 5k (run, walk, crawl...) and then post your results here (or there!)

The rules are simple:

  • You can run, walk, crawl, or any combination of those three, but those are your only options. 
  • You can do the 5k anytime in the 48 hours (but it needs to be in one go, not added up over the weekend or day.)
  • It MUST be done on either the Saturday or the Sunday, races done on Friday or Monday do not count for the 5k. 
  • You need to keep track of how long it took you, not because you are in competition with anyone, but because you WILL BE in later races with yourself. 
  • After you have completed your 5k and posted the results here (along with a link to any blog post you may have posted, but that's not necessary if you don't have one or don't want to) you are more than welcome to the "medal" that's below. You can display it on your website, or simply print it out to tack up on your wall, whatever you like!

...and that's it! If you'd like a race bib for the 5k, it's on the bib post (the one before this one) or in the Facebook group for you to download or print out.

What's the prize? I know I should do something sporty, but things are wild here. So, I've decided to give away a custom 2x2 inch canvas with the winner's choice of subject matter!

How big is that, really? And what kind of ideas for subjects are there? Well...

Here are a few I completed recently, with my hand for size reference:

But don't worry, you don't have to pick a little monster or something. Those just happen to be for my Whimsical Misfits business.

I've done itty bitty houses:


I know I can only seem to find my holiday examples, but usually I paint them and sell them quick. I don't usually take pictures of them all. But basically, the possibilities are endless. I work in fantasy and surreal and abstract. I pretty much cover a big range, so I should be able to paint you something you'll enjoy! The only thing I won't do is a portrait. It's simply too small. Oh, and no violence. It's just not my thing. So, other than that it's really up to you and your imagination! Something fantastical? Something more down to earth? It's totally up to you if you win! So, get your ideas together!

And of course we have finisher's medals (LG, MD and SM):

Good luck everyone! Have a fabulous race and tell me how you did! (I'll update my post as soon as I get mine in too!)

My 5k: 33:15
Friday, July 18, 2014

July Bib

Hey, it's that time again! For those that want it, here is your race bib! It's also available for download in the Facebook Group! As always, those people who would like to join, the more the merrier! Just leave me a comment either in the FB group or my original post for the race, and I'll sign ya up!

July race bib!

This month, as a prize I have decided to give away a free mini 2x2 canvas painting - winner's choice of subject (portraits not included, because they drive me batty.) To enter, you MUST complete the 5k in one go (adding up your steps throughout the day does not count) on either Saturday or Sunday. I don't care if you run, or walk, or some combination of the two. It doesn't count if you get it in on Friday or Monday, it has to be on those two days. Then, you simply comment on the official race post (the one that will follow this one) or on the FB group post (some people are having problems commenting on my blog, I'm not sure why) with your time and how it went, and I'll draw a winner from those comments!

So, you ready?!?!
Thursday, July 17, 2014

Buried In The Past

My husband is off this week, and we're using the time to get the house ready for the market. Or if we end up staying (unlikely), just getting ourselves organized. It's amazing how much junk we hold on to. For the past three days, I've been over my head in the crawlspace.

Here is how it started:
The "before" picture. My husband seems very chipper, doesn't he? I think it was just denial over how bad it was going to be. That space goes back quite a ways!

There was all sorts of stuff that we'll just call garbage. We had three piles: keep, sell/donate, and OMG get it OUT OF HERE! We've made three trips to the dump so far, and there were scary things (dead for the most part) that I came across as well as one giant spider that had me jumping OUT of the crawl space and right into the shower.

Now for the fun stuff. Let me show you some of the things I discovered (fortunately, it turns out I actually DID throw out the creepy clown doll that was similar to the one in Poltergeist. My kids were constantly worried they'd come across it!)

Hello 1980's! I found my boom box, and books from when I was 6-8 years old, and an ACTUAL record! We showed my kids, I'm not entirely sure they've ever touched a real one before.
My high tech walkman. It actually had an eject button so you didn't have to pry the side open. That was a big deal, remember? Oh, and my very own MIX-tape! It was a "workout" mix that included Michael Jackson, Bette Middler, and Paula Abdul. I don't even know what to say to that. I listened to a lot of rock, so I can't figure this one out. It's in my handwriting though, so it must be mine. It sounds more like my mother's. Ugh.

I also inherited a lot of stuff from my grandfather when he liquidated his house before he moved to a home a long time ago. I found this picture of my great grandparents:
My great-grandparents' wedding picture from 1910. I wonder if they had a nice day or not?
The one with the red X on it is my great grandmother. I assume it's the same one? She was younger, clearly, and I think this is HER class picture.

And here is a section of my class picture (quite a contrast for 100 year difference?)

My class was pretty big. This is just zoomed in on a section so I you can pick me out. I'm the blond in white next to the guy wearing a green streamer on his head in the middle. Don't you kind of wish that my great grandmother's class had done a silly take too? I do. 

And here is the after:

In that big cabinet on the right, it's actually a storage thing for maps and such. Giant flat documents, etc. I got that from my grandfather too, and while there wasn't much in it, one drawer was lined with a newspaper from 1975 (the year I was born.) Look at some of this!

This one just makes me giggle.

What did you pay for milk recently? We're over $4 a gallon here and my NEIGHBORS are COWS! Come on!
TV guide for all four channels! 
Current movies.

I also found old diaries of mine. One was from elementary school (I was 10-12) and I was amazed at how many entries referenced trying to lose weight. Actually, it made me pretty angry because I was a thin child. Objectively, it's just evidence on how a mother with a serious eating disorder (my mom was a bulimic anorexic) affects her children. For me personally, I just felt tired.

I tossed all my diaries. I don't need them. I even burned the one from high school/early 20's as it's just one of those ugly sorts of things you don't want to relive or ever have anyone see. It's a bit cathartic to set fire to some of that, I won't lie. Also, rereading how dating went for me? Yeah, I'm never doing that again. Ever. If something were to happen to my marriage, I think I'd just enthusiastically become a collector of cats and live happily ever after that way.

I found my senior prom dress, which my daughter eagerly ran off to try on, them came back complaining about my height and bust line being too big. And the shoulder pads. I have no explanation for the shoulder pads, because I'm not really sure I understood them back then either!

This is the senior prom dress. You can SEE the shoulder pads! GAH!

Anyway, memory lane is hopefully closed. We have a pretty big pile for a garage sale and then donations, and while the crawl space looks great... the rest of the house is a disaster as we're pulling it all apart. Still, I think that part was the one we feared most.

And now I'm being yelled at. More work to be done!
Monday, July 14, 2014

The Negatives and the Positives

We have a lot of influences in our lives, little ones we sometimes don't even notice. It came to my attention that I changed a couple things unintentionally, and they made a nice impact.

The first thing was that I used to have the morning news program (usually the Today show) on in the background while I was puttering around and getting ready for my day. The second, in the same vein, was that my home page on my browser was set to yahoo news (default, but I never changed it.) One day, the browser page was glitchy and I finally changed it to my email page. Now, while they say you should only look at your email at the end of your day otherwise it's a time-suck, this was still a huge improvement.

I didn't realize how much the negative world news was impacting me, but it was. Some people argue that I'm turning a blind eye to the big picture; the suffering, the conflicts, the wars, the scandals. Maybe. Yet, 99% of those things are something I have no control over and no impact on. I can't save that country, I can't make that guy stop sleeping with that girl, I can't stop this or that... I can only conduct my life in the best way possible, help where I can when I have actual opportunity, and then? I need to actually LIVE my life. No one should be weighed down with the weight of the entire world, and people who immerse themselves in the news likely carry more pointless weight than they realize. There is purpose to some of the weight, but most of what we see is just for headlines and less about what we can do. The places we have impact, well those are usually learned about from other sources closer to us. Plus there is good news out there, we just don't see it much, so what we get is imbalanced.

So, removing all the news from it's sideline position in my life has actually improved my feelings a bit.

I removed something else too; my weighing frequently. I've had a back and forth relationship with my scale. I do NOT believe in weighing every day for myself because it's detrimental to who I am. It can make or break my day from the very first naked moment in the bathroom. And really? Who wants their day ruined like that? More, my weight swings wildly from day to day, weather change to monthly change to hormonal changes... It's really ridiculous. I'm also a human sponge, and I can gain as much as 13 lbs in water weight overnight (documented.) So, I learned that I needed to weigh only once a week in order to not lose my ever-loving mind.

In the midst of all of this craziness going on here with probably moving, I realized that losing weight on the scale cannot be my focus. Instead, I need to focus on eating the right things in the right amounts. I know that sounds like the same thing, but it's not. Normally, I can focus on eating the right things and then hopping on the scale once a week gives me a snapshot of how I am doing. However, with all the crazy going on, hopping on the scale only makes me... crazier. And seriously, that's saying something.

For example, right now I can't step on the scale and feel good about it at all - even if it shows a loss. Why? Because why wasn't it more? Or maybe it's a false low. Or maybe it's too high even if it is going down, you stupid-stupid-cow, how could you let yourself get to this point to NEED the scale to go down to that, and you're supposed to be HAPPY that you accomplished getting down to something you never should have gotten back up to in the first place? You waste of space!

See? Doesn't end well in Kyra-ville. At least night right now, not with all the pent-up frustration over things in my life right now. So, here is the good news: I tend to operate just fine without the scale right now. If I focus on tracking calories and eating cleanly, without knowing how it's going on the scale, I'm actually OK. I feel human. I feel like I can allow myself to exist without beating the crap out of myself, and if that only means maintaining until this whole move is sorted out, then so be it. Deep down, I'm hoping I'll lose weight because I am being good, and I would technically expect the scale to be moving downward, but I don't think I could even see it doing so and feel positive about it right now.

So, I removed the news and I removed the scale. It's kind of funny because I had to say to myself "stepping on the scale doesn't actually DO anything. It doesn't make you weigh more or less, it's simply a tool to check in. It's what you are doing throughout the day, with your time and your food consumption that causes you to gain or lose, so the scale doesn't actually matter." I've had to say it a few times, because there is that worry that if I'm not watching, it'll do something sneaky and evil and suddenly gain another 20 lbs. But the scale doesn't do that, I do. And I can lose it too.

My goal, for now, is to maintain. Sure, I'll hope for a loss, but if I say to myself to follow the rules and only expect a maintain, I can accept that right now. This is actually positive for me.

I've been working on my business, making a few decisions, and it led to a lot of computer work and no painting (like dividing up my work into three FB pages and Etsy shops.) I also found that I'm even more negative in times when I am not creating. Even if it's just for an hour a day, giving time to myself to be creative keeps me... well, me. Last night, feeling like I was in a total funk, I decided to just do a handful of tiny Whimsical Misfits:

Mini-misfits, the back two are still in  progress obviously. I'm thinking green for the one on the top left. Feathers or fur? I haven't decided yet...

And I am already feeling a little better because of it. I guess my focus now is on finding negatives in my life that I have any control over, and trying to change them into positives (or removing them from the equation.) That's my healthy goal right now!

Oh, and sidenote... or footnote? The prize for the 5K this weekend is something of your choice  (doesn't have to be a mifsit, I do a lot of different work: Surreal, Fairy tale, etc) painted on a canvas this size!