Taking vitamins is hard

I’m trying to create healthier habits in my life, I eat mostly vegetables (and cheese), I am finally to a place where I’m regularly exercising and not despising it. I wear sunscreen always, and I decided that it probably wouldn’t hurt if I started taking a multi-vitamin. So, I bought a bottle of vitamins formulated for women (it doesn’t really matter which one, honestly, I bought the bottle that was on clearance because that is how concerned I am, but hey, baby steps to start). I’m supposed to take this vitamin with a meal and because I always eat breakfast I decided that would be as good as any other time.

Yesterday I made myself healthy breakfast (omelet with spinach and tomatoes from the backyard) but by the time I remembered about the vitamin I was out of my drink (I ALWAYS drink filtered water in Arizona, and always with a squirt of flavoring because the water here is cringingly bad (Especially to someone like me who was literally raised on mountain spring water our town collected from a burbling fountain coming out of the bottom of a granite mountain.).). Ok, so, fresh drink. Doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, right?

Ahem.

I added a little orange-tangerine flavor to my 24 oz bottle and grabbed the Brita pitcher out of the fridge. When I started pouring water the little plastic flap that covers the spigot fell into my tangerine sauce. I sighed and went to fish it out, getting bright orangey sauce all over my fingers, turning my nails orange (that’s….probably not very healthy). I rinsed off the little flap thingie and when I went back to finish pouring I knocked the pitcher which bumped my bottle which fell to the tile and sprayed orange droplets everywhere.

I maybe cursed a little and reached for the Clorox wipes, I wiped up all the orange droplets on the tile, and then used a little elbow grease on some other spots that I probably should have paid more attention to the last time I mopped.

….when was the last time I mopped the kitchen? Two weeks ago? Three? Uh, it might be longer than that. Eeek, that’s gross.

Some of the orange drops landed on the kitchen mat by the sink, which as an indoor/outdoor mostly plasticy rug I can clean relatively easily. I started scrubbing the worst spots with more Clorox wipes using the last in the canister. To the laundry room for more wipes.

While I was there I changed a load and started folding the towels as I pulled them out of the dryer, I sorted the dirty pile of the floor into the right bins and cleared off the top of the dryer. Why was I in here again?

Oh. Clorox wipes. Right. I swear I’m losing my ever-loving mind.

Back to the kitchen, hmmm, that rug really probably needs a good bath from the hose, actually, the orange isn’t coming out very well. I take it to the patio and turn on the hose, there are still a few spots that are staying orange…hrrm…. Baking soda! I could use some baking soda on it to get this stain out!

I put the hose on a dry spot in the grass and go back to the kitchen to make a baking soda paste, which I also rub on my orange fingernails and am surprised at how quickly it removes the stain. I probably need a manicure sometime soon, or at least should deal with those cuticles, eeek.

I rinse the baking soda paste down the sink and then remember I needed it for the rug. Batch #2 of paste (good thing baking soda is cheap) and outside again to deal with the rug.

The stain comes off just like that and I start watering my little plants, the squash and tomatillos and strawberries and beans are looking really good and I’m glad I moved the basil to a spot where it will get a little more sun! I pick up some of the trash that is always blowing into the corners of our yard and tidy up the seating area of the patio. I should probably check on the new plants in front as well.

The field of peppers I put in a few weeks ago seem to be doing well (literally, it’s almost 30 pepper plants, I believe “field” is the right descriptor here) and the musk melons should cover that bare spot nicely when they start sending out trailing vines. Dah, the front yard is looking so good! I can’t believe how much of a difference adding plants to our formerly solid gravel yard has made! Hot pink bougainvillea, bright yellow daisies, and rosemary and aloe and marigolds and petunias! Swoon!

Some of the gravel is lumpy and mounding weird, so I grab a rake to smooth it out. Then I track down the big sweeper broom to brush all the little rocks off the driveway and sidewalk and back into the gravel pit, I hate stepping on those in my bare feet.

Which…also, I need a pedicure. Oops. That sounds like a great plan for later this afternoon, I have a new deep orange polish that would be perfect for summer.

Orange.

Oh! I forgot to take my multi-vitamin! Dangit! It says “take with a meal” and breakfast was hours ago and I’ve been doing all this work since then….I guess it’s time for elevensies. I make myself a snack and retrieve my drink and settle down for another episode of The Great British Baking Show. And vitamins. Because, my health.

Yesterday morning was very much a “if you give a mouse a cookie” kind of morning. Being healthy is hard work, ya’ll.

Sabbaticalette: Week One

Salt River Arizona_feistyharriet_February 2017

It has been only one week of my sabbaticalette yet three people have commented that I seem like a completely different person. I feel more myself than I have in months, and despite a very strange crop of zits all over my face (the hell, face!?) I feel like I look about 5 years younger than I did 3 months ago. I sometimes break out SKIPPING or GIGGLING for no apparent reason. It’s weird, yo.

So, what have I done with my newfound freedom and head space? Well, you know me (or you don’t, and the rest of this post will be very telling of my personality); I made a huge list and started checking things off one by one.

I painted the last room in our house, banishing the cardboard-box-brown paint that is ubiquitous in all Arizona homes forever. It is a lovely, soothing gray now and waiting for the last touches. (Check that off my New Year’s Resolution list!)

I pulled the millions of weeds in our yard, the rain lately has turned the gravel into a jungle. I also replanted a bunch of veggies and started two pallets of flower seeds for the front yard. I spent an entire afternoon pulling a WHEELBARROW FULL of concrete bits and rock out of the window box in our front yard. It needs some topsoil and then I can plant the lovely fuchsia bougainvillea bushes and bright yellow daisies in there. I potted a bunch of ranunculus for the front porch and back patio and am loving those little splotches of color.

I scrubbed all the corners of the house that have been neglected, I opened the windows and let the breeze blow through the rooms and air everything out.

I pulled up some nasty industrial-grade carpet that the previous owners GLUED to the side patio cement…I think a few months of the blazing southwestern summer sun on the remaining glue-gunk, with some strategic spraying and scraping will get rid of that stuff quite nicely. I’m just so glad to have it gone, I don’t like thinking about what was probably living/lurking in that nasty nasty carpet.

I’ve been to the gym, or on a walk, or a bike ride, almost every day. It has been GLORIOUS to move every day! My FitBit hardly knows what to do with me.

I did a mountain of laundry (see: deep clean everything) and watched some of my Netflix list for the first time in…weeks? (I’m watching The Tudors which is about the history of Henry VIII, because even my Netflix stuff must be nerdy. Hashtag: Harriet Life)

I’ve finished reading two books, started two more, and listened to three others while doing all my chores.

I went grocery shopping at Costco (for the FIRST TIME EVER! (I know.) (I SAID I KNOW!)) did some large-batch cooking, and filled up the freezer with some meals I can reheat later. I also bulked up our nearly non-existent pantry storage with a few cases of canned foods.

I unpacked the last of the moving boxes and have made a towering pile of things to send to Goodwill.

I’ve spent several hours on the phone with family and friends I love and feel I’ve neglected the last few months. I’m so grateful for technology, and simultaneously annoyed that I’m so far from the people I love.

I volunteered at a church event for young girls ages 8-11, we had a blast laughing and giggling and, uh, being super spiritual and stuff. Ahem.

Things I haven’t done, but intend to: hiking; painting on canvas/panels; a little photography spree to catch some early morning or pre-sunset light on the big rocky formation down the street from my house; take the pile in the garage to Goodwill; tidy up my side of the garage, especially the piles of project pieces that need to be corralled or recycled or finished up already; lunch and a movie matinee with a friend.

A few friends, upon hearing a little of what I’ve been up to, have commented that I don’t quite know how to “relax.” And…well, partly that is true. But the other part is something my friend Saskia wrote about, inspired by this article: There is a different between “self-care” and “resourcing.” Self-care is the spa day, or the massage, or the relaxing night at home. Resourcing is taking care of all the “life” stuff that you’ve somehow been neglecting. For me, before I can get into the self-care piece (hiking, painting, photography, etc), I need to take care of that resourcing bit that has eluded me for months. The resourcing part is almost done, I’ve got a few little projects I’d like to wrap up, and then I’ll have a few days truly to spend on myself, and then it will be time to go back to work. And for me, that sounds like the perfect sabbaticalette. (You know, because “two weeks in Europe” wasn’t quite in the budget/cards.)

How do you replenish yourself? Does the “self-care” and “resourcing” thing look different for you? If you had two weeks off, but limited funds for big adventures, what would you do?

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Harriet: Age 34

Boone Hall Butterfly Pavilion, South Carolina

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy BIRTHday toooooo meeeeeEEeeeeeee!!! (deep breath!) HaaAaappyyyy BiiiirrrrtthhhDaaaaayyy TooooOoooOooOOoooo MeeEeeeeEeeEee!

Today I am thirty-four, and that means I’ve officially entered my “mid thirties”…which I think is supposed to somehow kick-start a biological clock, or at least give me some age-related anxiety? It’s not. It’s just another birthday and I have to spend the next 4 months trying to remember how old I am all over again. (After writing the rest of this post and going through for a quick edit, it occurred to me that I have been pretty “meh” about my birthday for years. I don’t WANT to be “meh” about my birthday. A day-before-Valentine’s-Day birthday somehow seems to be anti-climactic, and there’s been a lot of Stuff that precludes me celebrating the way I want to. And I don’t like that. So. Next year for the BIG Three-Five, I shall throw a fabulous bash. I like celebrating, I love hosting people, and I’ve got a really really great birthday cake recipe.)(Moving on with thirty-four. Ahem.)

How will you spend your birthday?
In a really annoying twist of circumstances, I shall be going to work while Mr. Blue Eyes has the day off. I know. It’s stupid.

Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Sadder; thinner; richer.

What did you do last year that you’ve never done before?
Went camping by myself. I felt kick-ass and super nervous, all at once.

What was your favorite discovery last year?
Overdrive! I’m only, like, 8 years late to the party, but I luuuurve Overdrive and use it to listen to audiobooks!

What do you hope to learn this coming year?
Better time management for my life as a whole, instead of just the few pockets that I have under control right now.

What would you like to have this year that you didn’t have last year?
Peace. This last year was full of turmoil on almost every front . And not just the regular dumpster fire that is meme’d on the Interwebs, but deeply personal and in my most vulnerable places as well.

What was your biggest achievement of this year?
Had you asked me this six months ago I would have gushed about negotiating a new job here in Arizona. However, uh, that has been one of the worst overall “improvements” of my career and my life. I shall write more about this soon; there is light at the end of the tunnel.

What was your biggest failure?
Letting the sadness win. And sometimes also letting the anger and darkness win. It was a rough year, ya’ll.

Where did you travel this year?
The first half of my 33rd year I was all over the place, which was exhausting and glorious, all at once. (A small sampling: New Mexico (twice), California, Colorado, Washington DC, Montana, Chicago, several trips back to Salt Lake, and visits to Joshua Tree and Sequoia National Parks.) For the last half I have more or less stayed home, and that is glorious and heart-wrenching in its own way.

Do you have a destination in mind for next year?
Yes! We have booked tickets and part of our accommodations for a proper vacation to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary (which was in November, and/or January, depending on who you ask).

What did you get really excited about?
Vegetables in my backyard, if we have had more than two conversations I have probably mentioned my little plants at least 7 times. Also the women who serve as Supreme Court Justices.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Finding joy in the people and activities that I know are a salve for my aching heart.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying. This is two years in a row with this answer, btw.

What was the best book you read?
Oh goodness, I love/hate this question. In the last year I’ve read almost 150 books with MANY 5-star reviews in there. In no particular order (but all non-fiction, because that’s my fave): The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander; Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot; The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown; Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik; The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge, by Matt Ridley.

What did you want and get?
A backyard with grass and a new patio and boxes for my little vegetables!

What did you want and not get?
Superficial Item #1: To fit back into my skinny jeans, I’m still working on it.
Superficial Item #2: A wall of bookcases to fill up.
More Honest and Infinitely Harder to Admit Item: happiness or even contentment with my life, my relationships, myself.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Several months of temperatures in the low thirties and high twenties; I am not cut out for the nine months of temps over 90 degrees. It makes my brain melt.

What kept you sane?
Long conversations with dear friends, audiobooks to keep me company, wandering around art museums and exhibits, puttering with my plants.

What political issue stirred you the most?
I really don’t know if I can answer this question because I haven’t got 3,728 hours to write in all the details. Which issue? All of them. I have ranted and raved and cheered and spent emotional energy on more political causes in the last 12 months than in the rest of my life combined.

Did you fall in love?
No.

Who did you miss?
Same answer as last year: My people in Salt Lake, my nieces and nephews, siblings, and my glorious rocky mountains.

Did you learn a valuable life lesson this year?
The grass is not always greener elsewhere. That being said, I also firmly believe that all of our choices will not  and can not result in confetti and fireworks and unicorns and solely positive outcomes; sometimes even the most carefully thought out plans–the ones with flowcharts and back-up contingencies–will fail. At that point I have to wallow for a bit, because I am human, not a freaking robot, then pick myself up and get back to work.

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Previous birthday posts here: Age 33Age 32.

Don’t pick up the cactus

Yesterday I sat down, gave myself a little pep talk, and did a Really Hard And Scary Thing. Upon completion of The Thing I had butterflies in my stomach and spent 30 minutes rage-cleaning* my house to try and burn off some of that frenetic energy. It’s a waiting game now and I hate waiting, hence the rage-cleaning. (*Rage-cleaning is a manic maid state I get in most often when I’m pissed, but, apparently, also when I’m anxious and also when waiting for results after completing a Really Hard And Scary Thing.)

After the cleaning session I took myself on a little walk, the night was cold and the stars were clear and I was feeling pretty darn proud of myself. Very adult-like. Responsible. Have my shit together. Etc.

And then I picked up a cactus.

Prickly Pear_feistyharriet_Jan 2017

Ok, that’s not exactly true (it is totally and 100% true), I mean, I was walking along and I saw this really beautiful dried paddle of a prickly pear, you know, those tear-shaped “leaves” with cute little white polka dots on them? Well, this one had fallen off it’s momma plant and was all yellowy-cream and dried, the ridges looking a lot like the back of an octogenarian’s hand. The polka dots were a soft dark brown and the whole thing was arrestingly beautiful in gorgeous sepia tones with an almost quilted-looking pattern. I had to have it.

So I picked it up.

…Ya’ll, I must be some kind of serious Arizona rookie, because I PICKED UP A CACTUS WITH MY BARE HAND!

Those soft dark brown spots were, shockingly, not soft at all. They were actually strategically placed little defensive forests of bristley brown spikes that quickly transferred themselves from the prickly pear paddle to the fingers of my left hand. I yelped. I maybe cursed a bit. And, momentarily losing my sanity and thinking a game of Hot Potato was in order, I tossed the spike-infested prickly pear paddle to my other hand.

I’mma stop right there and slow it down:

I picked up a spiky cactus because it was so so pretty. And when I was legitimately surprised at the immediately pain of said spiky cactus, I THREW THE THING STRAIGHT INTO MY OTHER PALM!

Yep. That happened.

Almost 10:00 pm and I’m swearing up a storm on the sidewalk, clutching a (gorgeous!) cactus in one hand and shaking my other hand furiously, somehow thinking that cactus spike pain was like being burned, you just blow on it and it will stop hurting. Ha. Hahahahahaa. Nope. Not the case.

Mr. Blue Eyes and I spent 45 minutes tweezing cactus spikes out of BOTH of my hands. Any sense of greatness I felt for accomplishing that Really Hard And Scary Thing? Yeeeeah, totally gone. I’m sure there is a really poignant metaphor in this story somewhere (“Pride goeth before the fall”, anyone?), but to be completely frank, typing is giving me the distinct impression that I’ve missed a few cactus spikes in the pads of my fingers that will need some additional tweezing, stat. That’s also probably a metaphor.

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Some thoughts about MLK’s dream

I have been thinking for several days about what I should, or could, write to commemorate today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I’ve spent hours and hours reading books about race and racism in the United States, past and present. I’m part of an online discussion book group to critically analyze and apply what I’ve learned. I follow activists on Twitter and when they tell me to Do This Thing, more often than not, I do it. (Call someone, sign something, promote something, share something.) But I still feel like the powers we are fighting against are so strong, so prevalent, so violent, and I feel like they are winning.

I know, of course, that there are thousands of people like me, thousands more who are far more involved than I am, and even thousands more who are the leaders of the movement I’m trying to understand. But so often it feels like we are so few, and despite fighting the good fight, despite all our calls for love and respect and change…so often the results are, at best, disheartening, and at worst they turn my stomach.

People can be so noble and kind, so self-sacrificing and generous and determined. And people can also be the absolute worst part of this planet. The range is truly astounding.

I wish I knew what else to say, I’m struggling to string together my thoughts in any kind of meaningful way. I feel like I’ve learned so much, but the more I learn the more I realize I know so little about it. So, I keep reading, I keep learning, and I keep sharing what I learn with those who may not know (or care) about what I’ve learned so far. I keep hoping that, week after week, conversation after conversation, year after year, even my seemingly small contributions will make some impact. I also hope that as I continue to learn and my opinions continue to grow that I can take larger steps forward. I want to be part of that dreamy place where all men and women are seen, treated, and celebrated as equals.

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