September 23, 2012

My red-headed step child

I haven't blogged much lately, because I've been working 10 hour days 5 days a week. I haven't run much lately, because I haven't been feeling well.

I haven't been doing much at all lately, really.

Not my photo
But definitely my fav

Monkey Boy went back to Germany two weeks ago. Before he left, we had a final night out at a local Stir Fry place. I still don't know the exact cause, but my system went fubar that night - enough to make me consider staying home from work the next day (a Friday). I didn't, but it took until the following Wednesday to feel healthy again, and about then I got hit by a mac truck i.e. allergies. I don't like to run with my head all stuffed up. The pressure makes my pulse reverberate against my skull, and I start getting all worried I'll stroke out or something.

Last Monday I felt well enough to run again, and got a good 4 miles in. Tuesday I was up and dressed to run, but when I opened my front door I was greeted with sheets of rain. I don't mind running in the rain. I actually kind of like it... when it's a warm gentle rain, or when I've already put in the better part of my mileage. Heading out into a torrential downpour is not my idea of a good time. I decided this was the exact reason I'd purchased a treadmill, so headed upstairs.

I'm not good at zoning out on treadmills, but I am a sucker for an increased-interval workout. Somehow all my treadmill runs turn into increased-interval workouts. Huh. Wonder how that happens. I actually hit 7 mph - for a 10th of a mile. Then I noticed the rain had pretty much stopped so I trotted my happy butt outside for a speed mile. I didn't make it all the way around my mile circuit, so turned this into intervals as well. Sprint to the next fire hydrant. Walk to the next fire hydrant. Sprint to the next fire hydrant. I love when I feel faaaaast: arms pumping, heels kicking high behind me, hips and torso involved in each stride. I know fast is a relative term, but "as fast as I can go" sure does feel fun!

Because you need a reason?
(source)

Tuesday I also gave blood, which I've only been able to do once before in my life. I keep trying, but there always seems to be some reason the Red Cross doesn't want my blood: I'd been pregnant recently; my boyfriend's sister contracted malaria; my iron was too low... Mostly my iron was too low.

It almost didn't happen this time either. They were doing the blood drive at work, and when I tried to sign up the site wouldn't give me an appointment. I contacted the person in charge, who told me all the spots were full but they could put me on the back-up list. Then, the day before the drive, I got the call! Could I give at 12:30?

Turns out I couldn't!!! They wanted an hour time slot, and I had training at 1:00. I tried to find a time I could switch with someone, but one guy on my team was already scheduled off for his wife's surgery, and the other guy had a meeting right smack dab in the middle of both time slots I maybe could have switched to. I had to bow out. Imagine how pleased I was to find an email in my inbox the next morning, telling me they would take walk-ins. I walked right over! I went through all the questions, waiting for the pinprick and hoping my iron levels were high enough. I was thrilled not to have to sit there and watch my drop of blood drop. They have a machine now, and the machine liked me!

(source)


The next day (Wednesday) I didn't run, because the Red Cross told me no strenuous exercise for 24 hours. Also, I've read blog posts about people who run the day after giving blood. It is never an enjoyable experience.

(source)

About an hour after I started work, I brought the server down for a couple hours. Of course, I didn't realize I brought the server down. Also, I didn't do anything specifically wrong. I used a query in the database I'd never used before, which appeared to run. I didn't write this query. It's one of our stock "use this if you have to do that" queries. The query finished running, but somehow and for some reason it still tied up all the server resources. We started getting clients calling in saying they couldn't access their inventory. I started sending out broadcast messages to Engineering and Management, telling them each new development. About 2 hours later, SaaS came over to my desk and asked me to close down my SQL Server Management Studio. Lo! All of a sudden everyone (included me) could access their inventory again.

I thought the discomfort I felt later was due to lingering stress from dealing with the server issues and being the cause of said issues. My hips ached, which I blamed on the speed work the day before. I went home that night, spent about an hour having dinner with Superman and studying SQL, then crashed.

This is not what I experienced
(source)

I woke up about 2 hours later, and every hour or so after. I could not get warm, even with the heated mattress pad turned on, double blankets, and a very warm Superman to curl up against. The next day I had zero energy, as in I. Could. Not. Sit. Up. I couldn't keep my eyes open. I slept the better part of the day, only fighting to stay awake long enough to eat the soup and crackers Superman brought over for me. I couldn't find my thermometer so I don't know what my temperature was, but I know I was downright miserable. I considered going to the emergency room, but there was no way I could drive. I'm also not big on doctors, so my logic was "this will pass..."

This was not what I experienced either
(source)

Friday I woke up still feverish, sinuses now thoroughly congested, but feeling SO much better than Thursday I was convinced it was probably a 24 hour bug that hung on just a little long. I won't go to work with a fever, but I was able to sit up and work from home a good bit of the day. I don't have a regular doctor, so any thought of making an appointment was instantly 2x as difficult. It would not be my happiest weekend, but I was certain I would be fine by Monday.

So I'm not the brightest crayon in the box. It wasn't until Saturday I realized I might be in trouble. I went about my normal weekend, starting with grocery shopping. It completely wiped me. I got home drained and exhausted. I'd purchased a new thermometer and my temperature was in the 99 range. I'd hoped the fever would have broken by then. My real hope was the fever would break by Sunday morning. I researched the exact amount of my health savings account, and how the account worked. I started thinking I might have to go to the doctor Monday morning and be late for work. Not the best plan since with the new hours it's just me and one other guy on Mondays.

Sunday morning my fever was low grade, but still there. I ran a few errands and realized I might really have a problem. I won't get into the gory details, but there was some level of gore. I looked to see if my old doctor is in plan for my new insurance. As the health insurance site searched, a box came up suggesting I go to urgent care if I had flu-like symptoms. Huh! Now there's an idea! I started searching for nearby urgent cares.

This is DEFINITELY not what I experienced!
(original source)

Long story slightly less long, I now am the proud owner of a partially consumed (by me) Z-Pac. My fever was of course at a low when the nurse took it. The doctor thought I just had allergies, since I'd been taking allergy medication to deal with the congestion. Never mind that allergy medication wasn't really working very well, or that I was completely a vegetable Thursday. Whatev. I got my meds, which is all that really matters. Now comes the slow hard climb out of exhaustion.

Apple Zucchini Oatmeal muffins.
My gluten-free baking skills are improving!

I've been talking the gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free (and now soda-free) talk, but not exactly walking the walk. To show how subversive my mind can be, I congratulated myself on a week of being gluten-free. Then I realized I'd been eating my co-worker's pretzels every day. I decided the dairy free thing was pretty silly. I'd tacked it on at the last minute, because I heard Carrie Underwood say in an interview she felt "less heavy" after going dairy free. How's that for conclusive research? So yeah, cheese and yogurt are again my friends (though cheese at least still has to be in moderation). The soda thing is one I've tried before. I've found a way to happily drink up to 3 quarts of tea a day, so that one final lunch-time soda is going away.

None of this was supposed to be obsessive. Funny how it all feels obsessive...

Speaking of obsessive, I refuse to be obsessive about my blog, either. Working as many hours as I currently am, making my morning runs a priority, it's hard to find time to write. I have to prioritize, and the blog falls a distant 3rd right now. That said, I will not be working these hours forever. I expect to get a promotion somewhere around February-March, which damn well better come with a raise in pay. I expect I'll be working overtime at least until the new year, if only because I can't pay all  my bills otherwise. I'll have a credit card paid off at the end of December though, so that will help.

Until I can devote more time and energy toward this creative endeavor, it will have to limp along with the attention levels given a red-headed step child. I hope that's enough to keep it alive, because I really do like writing here.

I guess only time will tell.

September 9, 2012

Monkey Boy, the neighborhood stalker, and other news

Well hello there! Fancy meeting you here! I know, it's been so long! Who knew life could actually get in the way of blogging? So much has happened, even the condensed version is lengthy. Grab yourself a cuppa joe and come on along for the ride!

First, work:

They say no good deed goes unpunished, and doing a good job means you're given more jobs to do. I don't know if I've mentioned it, but I've been busting my butt at work. I rarely take a lunch. I stay late every day. Where the other 2 guys pick and choose which tickets they take, I routinely take the oldest. This means I get whatever they've left behind. The hard ones. The difficult customers. I also regularly help them through the tickets they have, and sometimes take over the ones they don't know what to do with. If we as a team need access to something, I'm the one getting us access. Getting access invariably means I'm the one doing that particular ticket as well.

The good news is I'm recognized at work for the effort I put in. Management has asked me to attend meetings they would normally ask a Lead to attend, and my boss told me they are aware I've "taken a leadership role."

The bad news is, they have no intention of making me a Lead any time soon, even though I'm already doing the bulk of the work. This is partially due to the fact that I've only been there 2 months. When I told my manager the guys had been asking why I'm not Lead yet, he said they were thinking of putting me on a development path after year end reviews. Year end reviews are somewhere around February. So basically they expect me to do the job for another 6 months without the recognition (which I don't really care about) or pay (which I DO really care about). I told my boss maybe we should think about a development path now. He said he would talk to his boss about it, and we'll see.

So I guess I'll see. I'm not holding my breath, but I'm not letting it go either. I'm having a hard time living on my current paycheck. This is one way to alleviate that issue.

Family:

It's been the summer for family. We've met up with cousins from across town, Hawaii, and Michigan. Two weeks ago, Monkey Boy came to visit!
I spent more time hanging out with him than taking pictures of him...
He was in and out most of time, spending time at both my place and his Dad's. This was expected, and I'm happy I got to spend quite a bit of time with him. Mostly we just hung out. Occasionally we went out to eat, and once to a movie. He'll be back for Xmas and New Years, then not again until he's out of the Air Force a year from now. How does the time fly by so quickly?

The time does fly by quickly. Monkey Boy was home for my annual birthday bash, which I share with Superman because his birthday is 4 days after mine. I'm the older woman, you see. By all of 4 days. I don't have any photos of the party because I was too busy visiting with people I haven't seen, in some cases, for years!

Superman shares my father's birthday. How has it been a year since we threw Dad that fabulous 70th birthday party he almost didn't let us throw for him, and how has it been almost a year since he left us? It boggles my mind.

Running:

I've been running off and on since I last blogged. I learned I have a neighbor who runs. I've taken to calling him my neighborhood stalker, because it seemed for a while every time I went out to run, I ran into him. He appears to be a very nice guy, but I kind of like my solo runs. I also do not have time to chat after my run, because I have to get ready for work. I have a hard time saying no, so I have yet to tell the man this. Instead, I found myself all dressed up to run, and not going anywhere. I didn't want to run into him so I didn't run at all. That's not going to work!

I did do some long runs in the parks on the weekends, both with and without Monkey Boy.

He complained for 2 days that his calves were sore from this run
The deer have been out in force lately. I've had multiple sightings on every trail run.
Can you see them?
No zoom on this photo. I was that close!
I did start running in the mornings again this past week, neighborhood stalker be damned. If I have to I'll put my headphones on and be anti-social. It's so awkward when he lives right across the street!

Eating:

After several weeks of eating like a teenager (i.e. everything in sight), I decided I really need to re-evaluate my food intake. I'm going back to sugar free and gluten free. I'm also cutting out dairy, which is not really much of a stretch for me. Mostly that just means no cheese and no ice cream. Which really doesn't mean NO cheese and ice cream, because I refuse to be obsessive about any of this. I can and will control what comes into my house, what I make for the meals I make. I fully intend to be a bit lax when I'm not doing the cooking. Yes, I can be pretty certain a piece of bread will have gluten no matter who's cooking. I'm a big believer in special occasions meriting special consideration, though. I'm not going to turn down a piece of really good birthday cake, although I might turn down a piece I don't think I'll enjoy. No sense going off the wagon if I"m not going to enjoy it!

I've spent this entire weekend processing food. I chopped up and froze a ton of vegetables left over from last weekend's party. I also chopped up and froze about 10 cups of collards. I planted 4 plants this year, and found I got tired of collards rather quickly. They went and got overgrown since I wasn't eating them, so I had to do something. I gave quite a few to Superman, froze a bunch, and there are still leaves on the plants to donate to my Mom next weekend.

I had to re-trellis my monster tomato plant, which gifted me with 7 more large, almost ripe tomatoes for my trouble. I've re-trellised this thing twice now, and lost a few tomatoes in the process. Next year I'll know to just use the wooden trellis from the start. I apparently have a magic tomato spot, and my tomato plants quickly outgrow the cages I've tried to use the last two years.

While re-trellising my tomato monster, I also strung up a framework for my raspberry patch. I have a raspberry patch and a strawberry patch, both of which have kept me happily in breakfast fruit for the past month and more. I get about a handful of each, every morning.

I also trimmed back my grape vine. I planted this thing two years ago. It got kicked over the first winter, and I didn't think it survived. When it did, I was thrilled to see even the single bunch of grapes it produced. I was slightly less than thrilled to find the birds ate all but one of those grapes. This year the grape vine made up for the single grape I got last year.
This is about half what I harvested
I ended up with almost fifty 1.25 to 1.5 cup baggies, which does not include the quart or so I ate while cleaning and packaging them! I'm thinking of adding a few more trellis to the two I now have, but I'm not sure what I'd do with all the grapes if the vine grows into them. Right now I have a refrigerator drawer full, and a freezer drawer full as well. I've been juicing them, then using the juice to sweeten things like oatmeal and these:
My first ever attempt at canning
Monkey Boy left me a large bag of grapefruit, and I was concerned I wouldn't eat them before they went bad. I've been gathering glass jars to store food in, because glass just keeps food better than plastic. I figured that out when I started making Refrigerator Oatmeal (a large batch of which I also made today). Anyway, getting and using the jars has had me thinking about canning, but I didn't have the jar grabber and thought it was more complicated than it turned out to be. I'll probably eat these a lot quicker, now they're already peeled and spoon-ready. 

To recap, Monkey Boy is now back in Germany, I'm running even though I may yet run into the neighborhood stalker again, I'm going gluten, dairy, and sugar free, and while it turns out I'm something of a farmer I'd rather shoot photos of deer than shoot the deer.

Hopefully it won't be quite so long before I see you again. Thanks for stopping in!