Saturday, May 24, 2014

Minor Mania

    Minor Mania has been my companion of late. It is distracting, leading me hither and yon, preventing me from focusing on anything for any length of time. This has effected my endurance training more than anything. I know, one would think that mania would be the perfect workout companion, but it is not. I am too distracted to keep my head in the game. I can't concentrate on form, technique, or training drills. Mania is intruding on my training time, luring me off to work on several projects at one time, flitting from task to task, keeping me occupied for hours, until I force myself to stop in order to get in a 2 hour workout before bed time. It is cutting into my sleep, as I find myself mopping a floor at 10:30 at night, when I should be in bed asleep, attempting to get at least 7 hours of sleep. Lack of sleep leaves me with less than optimal energy for my evening workouts. Last night, what should have been my long swim, was a struggle. Yes, it was a friday evening, at the end of a long, tough work week, so being tired is not surprising. But I was too tired to swim my full 2 miles, and I only had energy for one set of power pyramids (50 yards easy, 50 yards hard, then 100/100, 150/150, 200/200... it is pretty demanding). I did get a good night's sleep last night at least, since it is the first day of a glorious 3 day weekend. But I skipped my morning cycling workout so I could get outside early to work on my Bronco, then I was planting trees, then working on the Bronco, then pulling weeds, then planting, then hacking blackberries, until 8:00 pm. Yes, I did get in a 90 minute cycling workout, but I should have done 2 hours this morning as well. Tomorrow I will get out for a 50 mile ride, that should help remove me from the temptations to let my attention wander to tasks that need to be done. I will say, I am taking full advantage of Manic Mode, accomplishing major tasks on the To-Do List, regardless of its impact on my training. Tomorrow, after my bike ride, I hope to begin work on my Hugelkultur mound garden, Yes, I could just say "mound garden," but honestly, I just like saying "Hugelkultur." It is one of those words, like "Fartlek," yes, I could say "speed play," but "Fartlek" just sounds so much more entertaining. Now I sit, sipping my rosemary tea, trying to unwind, knowing I need to get some sleep to recover from my amazingly busy and productive day, but I am having a tough time shutting down Brain and Body. That is one downside of Mania; no Off Switch.
    I could take something, I do have a little white pill that will put me to sleep in a matter of minutes. But I won't. I weaned myself off of all meds. No more pharmaceuticals. No sleepy pills, no happy pills, not even pain relief. I am clean, and happy with being clean. I maintain my balance with whole foods nutrition, exercise and clean living. Don't scoff, I feel amazing. On that note, I will shut off this electrical distraction with its stimulating videos of cats doing silly things, dogs being rescued, and flash mobs dancing in rail stations. Time to let my body rest and recover, I have a 50 mile bike ride in the morning before I can continue on with my Minor Mania.

Friday, May 23, 2014


    "Home is where the Heart is."
    I know I mention my beloved little home quite frequently. It is my sanctuary, my escape from the world, my shelter from the storm of humanity, and it is also a the cornerstone of my freedom. Yes, it does tie me down, take my time, make demands on me, and yet it is so much a part of my freedom that I doubt I could ever give it up, or even share it easily. I know, it is a small, simple house. A 1958 Ranch on 1/3 of an acre, surrounded by farmland. I have wonderful, mature shade trees, including one of the largest and most magnificent Birch trees I have ever had the pleasure to know. There are 3 mature apple trees, the largest and gnarliest of which I have dubbed "my Apple Ent." There is also a Green Gage plum, an heirloom variety that is absolutely luscious. I leave a ladder under the tree when the fruit is ripe and every evening after work I climb the ladder, gorge on plums, and toss some down to my eagerly waiting dogs. It is a peaceful, pleasant, uncomplicated place. My corner of the world.
    I bought the place, or more correctly, I managed to get the bank to buy the place and I send them a monthly tithe to live here, 2-1/2 years ago. I moved in over Christmas weekend of 2011. It was the best Christmas ever. The first night I stayed in the house it was so cold from having sat vacant and unheated for so long that I could barely sleep. It was like winter camping indoors. The first 6 months were filled with all the fun things of owning a home; every surface had to be cleaned and painted, floors were scrubbed, cupboards dismantled and reassembled, pegboard torn down, finding a place for everything, purging myself of unnecessary possessions, reveling in my freedom and independence.
    So here I am, my third summer quickly approaching, and I have been hit with yet another Manic Nesting Phase. It comes and goes, my desire to build, repair, plant, paint. With the coming of the sun I feel the urge to plant. My first spring here I planted 2 Stanley Prune trees, a Texas King Fig, 3 grapes (2 White Himrod, and a red seedless), and herb gardens overflowing with varieties of sage, mint, lavender, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and tarragon. I grow heirloom tomatoes every year, and have a small raised bed in the back for salad greens and sugar snap peas.
    This year I am adding more permanent plantings. I have 3 new apple trees awaiting their new places of honor. With the climate extremes we are seeing I wanted cold hardy and heat tolerant varieties. I settled on 2 heirloom trees: The Early Rambo (no relation to Stallone) that ripens in August, and the Roxbury Russett which ripens in October. Both are good for fresh eating, canning, and cooking. The Roxbury is great for storage, lasting up to 6 months. For my pollinator I opted for a Golden Delicious since they are a nice all around apple. I also have raspberries, and tomatoes ready to go into the ground, and the plants I have started from seed; heirloom sweet pumpkins, Blue Kuri squash, slicing cucumbers, and a profusion of sunflowers. I want to get my strawberry bed built, but that may not happen yet.
    As geeky as I am being about gardening right now, one epic addition will be my mound garden, aka Hugelkultur. It is a way of building up a raised bed on a foundation of logs, creating a self feeding garden that holds moisture for weeks on end, is highly productive, and easily maintained. It is going to look fabulous when it is covered with the lush vines of my pumpkins, and with sunflowers popping up between the vines.
    I am continually working towards being more self reliant. I want to eat off of my own land, to literally enjoy the Fruits of My Labor. I am making slow but steady progress to self-sufficiency. I know I will always need an income, so will never be truly self sufficient, but I can produce more and more of what I need, lessening my dependency on the rest of the world. Next year I will hopefully have my chicken coop built so I can get a small flock, and maybe, just maybe, I will get my bee hive. So many plans for the future! This is a main reason that I so love my little house, I see it as my ticket to freedom and independence. It is so much more than a mere house. It is my shelter, my sanctuary, my home, my sanity.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Full Moon

    This week was the full moon, the Flower Moon, to be precise. A full moon is a time to perform prosperity rituals, a time when the power of the moon is at its fullest. Rituals can be simple prayers, or elaborate, fully accoutered shin-digs. I prefer simplicity, sending my hopes and aspirations out into the Universe, the full moon acting as a signal boost. This last week, as I stood on my back porch, gazing up at the moon framed between my two, giant willow trees, I pondered my needs. Prosperity. What did I need? What changes did I want to happen to improve my life, my comfort, my actual prosperity? As I stood there, bathed in silver luminosity, I ran through the litany: wealth, health, happiness, love. With a bit of a shock I realized that there was nothing to ask for, nothing I wanted or needed that I don't already have.
    Wealth? Yes, I could use more money, who couldn't? But the reality is that I have my little house, and despite a near constant struggle to pay bills and "get ahead" I really do have everything I need. I am well fed, have a solid house, though not debt free I am doing all right. So, no need for wealth.
    Health? I am the healthiest I think I have ever been. Yes, I am older, and do feel the aches and pains of someone who has lived an active life, but g'damn, I feel great. I am strong, healthy, slender, well toned, and getting more fit by the day (or at least by the week). I am doing things with my body that I could never have imagined 3 years ago.
    Happiness? It is no secret that I struggle with depression. I have let this become a public fact within the barely censored words of this blog. Some days I feel so imbalanced that it is a struggle to keep a "normal" facade at work. But, I do manage it, and manage it quite well. But my strong, vital physical shell, my Temple, protects my delicate spirit, gets me through the toughest of days. Then I escape to my lovely little home, and do what needs to be done to return everything to balance. My demons have been relatively calm and quiet these days. I think we have developed a truce of sorts. Besides the depression, I am actually incredibly happy with where my life is. I have my cherished freedom, I live my life the way I wish, in a way that was only a heavily guarded secret a few years past. I am not burdened with possessions, yet have more than enough creature comforts. I am surrounded by adoring animals who entertain, help keep me grounded, and chase off most hints of loneliness. I have rid my life of toxic people, am surrounded by people who's company I enjoy, family who nurture my soul, and am working towards the inner peace that comes with a simple lifestyle. I am the happiest I have been in a very long time.
    Love? Here is a bit of a tricky subject. Do I have a soulmate, a spouse, a partner? No. Soulmates are highly over-rated. Spouse, been there, it was a good marriage, but I have no need to tie myself down. Partner, yes it might be nice to have someone to help share the load sometimes, but then I would have to give up some of my cherished freedom. Not a price I am willing to pay. I do have a "partner in crime" as I like to call him. We have an understanding that works exceptionally well; no ties, no guilt, no recriminations, no need for daily contact, no endless texts. We get together a couple of times a month, enjoy our time together immensely, then each of us goes back to our separate lives feeling content and satiated. Love? No, it isn't love, but it is a great friendship. As for love, I have my family. The unconditional love and respect of my children and grandchildren, my parents, my extended family. What more do I need? If I am feeling the need for love it is easy enough for me to stop on my way home, gather my grandson in my arms, and feel his little arms wrap around my shoulders in a heartfelt, innocent, loving hug. And don't underestimate the joyous greeting of dogs at the front door, and their absolute love for me. What more is there to life and love?
    And so, as I stood on my back porch, gazing up at the beauty of the full Moon, feeling her silver rays bathing my face, I realized that I do not need a prosperity ritual since I have all that I want and need. Instead I sent out a prayer of thanks to the Universe, a heartfelt appreciation for all that I do have. I am a very prosperous, lucky woman, and now I know it.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Caved In To Social Media

    Because I don't already have enough on my plate, I have decided I need stop being a pussy and get onboard with some self promotion. To this end, and to finally cave into pressure to hook into social media, I have started a new, public FaceBook page just to link my writing, and maybe expand my readership a bit. I do know I have readers all over the world, not many, but it is titillating to think that somewhere in Russia, or Malaysia, or China, someone is reading my postings and thinking, "Who the hell is this batshit crazy American?" I have enjoyed my public self-flagellation, flaying myself open for the world to see, even if it only a handful of people. Honestly, I have wished to know more about who my readers are, I feel that since I share most of my deepest, darkest secrets that there must be some small bit of kinship. I do have some friends who read my ramblings and give me near instant feedback. One friend said, once upon a time, "It is like looking in a mirror." My original intent for starting my blog was to improve my writing skills. It is said over and over that aspiring writers should keep a journal. Well, I'm not much of one for "journaling" so to speak, but I realized that there is something of the exhibitionist in me. Some quirk of my personality that makes it easier for me to write regular entries if I know that someone, somewhere is reading them.
    What started as a simple exercise quickly became an outlet for long pent up emotions, and secrets I kept even from myself. It soon became cathartic for me to pry open my skull, let the words pour out in a senseless morass, and stir them about as I tried to make sense of it all. Writing is one thing that kept me sane during some of my darkest hours. It was often my lifeline to reality as I stumbled about in the darkness of the abyss. It was where I came to self-analyze, self-flagellate, and sort through the chaos that was wreaking havoc on my health and happiness. It wasn't long before writing became far more than mere self expression when I realized that, despite what I was going through, I wasn't alone in these feelings of despair. Oddly, I came to feel almost like a Pied Piper of sorts, playing a tune that was so familiar to so many, letting others understand that they were not alone in their fight against demons. I know I am not the only one who has found themselves on the floor, curled into a fetal position, crying with silent sobs wracking their body, wondering if the tears would ever stop.
    Depression is a curious place, it lies and tells us that we are alone, and we will never leave. It is a lie. We are not alone, and depression does not have to be a permanent residence. I am convinced though, that the demons that followed me up from the abyss are mine to keep forever. I am oddly comfortable with this, and have even seemed to build a shaky truce with my demons. We understand each other, and I think I might feel lonely and abandoned if they were to disappear. They are part of who I am, they made me who I am.
    Once again, I am rambling. I can't help it, I am tired, the day was long, I swam hard, abused my legs with a series of barbaric strength training exercises, and topped it all off with a massive, though ridiculously healthy, dinner. Brain and Body are starting to fail me now as the hour grows late. Damn, rambling, again. My pint in all of this was to share the link to my new FaceBook page, with the hopes that readers will pop in and maybe get a little bit better acquainted. It is still bare bones, but it is a start: