Hi! Did you miss me?

Years ago, I read an article that blog writers should never start a post with an apology for not writing in a while. I can’t remember exactly what the reasoning was in the article, but I thought it was good advice and I resolved never to do so. My primary reasoning, since I can’t remember the article’s reasoning, is because this is my space, dang it, and if I don’t want to be here, then I don’t have to be here. And I don’t have to apologize for that. And secondly, starting posts with apologies is really boring to read.

So, you’re not getting an apology. But I do want to write about my absence a little bit becuase I have been thinking about what was behind it and figured I might as well share that. There are two primary reasons, I think, behind my lack of posting here.

One is that I stopped writing almost entirely once I started using a tablet to read the Internet instead of my laptop. My laptop has gotten old and very slow and it doesn’t do me much good on a day-to-day basis. I tend to read a lot of different things on the internet and I can read all of those things more quickly and with less weight just by reading on my small, handheld tablet. My tablet has been one of my favorite purchases in the last several years. So much of what I do can be done using the tablet instead of a full processing personal computer — with one glaring lack. I stopped writing.

I don’t tend to write using my tablet. Primarily because it’s a pain in the butt to use the integrated keyboard for long lengths of text. I didn’t even text much with people I know online using it becuase I got so frustrated with how slowly I’d have to type compared to how fast I can type  on a keyboard, and I’d get more typos and autocorrect errors and it was SUPER FRUSTRATING. So I stopped. Mostly. I kept typing to one or two key people because they kept texting to me, but otherwise, I mostly went silent.

And the not writing didn’t bother me too much because of the second reason, which was that I was feeling more and more vulnerable about how my life was not feeling very private. I started to back away from any social media and places where my personal life was available to people outside of my own home. (Not that I was much online anywhere, but anyway…) The reasons behind this are partially because I was getting overwhelmed at work and with stress and a lot of things that were only happening inside of my own head. But the solution that I found was to curl up into myself and not share.

And I think that was healthy, to an extent. The amount of information that we willingly share on the Internet is massive, and there is a point, for everybody, where you should hit the point of “I’m not going to share that.” (For some people, that point is WAY FURTHER past where it should be…) I think it’s normal and important to sometimes stand back and evaluate what information you’re sharing with which groups of people and think about if it’s appropriate and think about what’s happening that could or shouldn’t be shared and to be cognizant of the difference.

Of course, in my evaluation of what was happening in my life, most of what I came up with was the fact that I was working. A lot. And that it wasn’t something I could/should share and if I did, it wouldn’t be terribly interesting. So I didn’t.

And on top of that, I didn’t think people would care or notice if I stopped typing, so why not? If I didn’t want to write and people wouldn’t care if I didn’t, then why did I go through the trouble? And that may or may not be true — since I’m not sure that anyone other than the people in my immediate family actually even know this website exists, and as far as I know, only the women of that audience have ever cared to read it. If that’s my whole audience, then shouldn’t I just be able to communicate with those people in other mediums?

Except I haven’t.

I mostly just sunk into working too much, doing little else, and getting more and more mired in the muck in my head.

So, finally, I’m working on changing that.

Justin bought me a keyboard for my tablet. He’d asked me several other times if I’d want one and I kept telling him that I  didn’t think the expense would be worth it. But we’re working on setting up a new computer as a media server (for all the CD’s he spent months coping digital copies of) and we were going to need a keyboard to use for that computer. And he found a keyboard that would easily switch between three different devices and asked if I’d be interested in that.

So now I have a keyboard for my tablet! Which means I can enjoy all the ease and speed of my tablet AND still be able to type!

On top of that, Justin and I had a heartfelt conversation about how I needed to stop working so much. I’d been working 50+ hour weeks since October and I was not holding up under the strain. I’d started thinking about finding another job, just to be able to walk away from all the problems I’d been dealing with in this one. The outcome from that discussion was that there were two options: Work could have me for 40 hours or they could have me for 0 hours. I would actively start concentrating at leaving ON TIME and not working overtime. And either things would pile up because I wasn’t working enough or I’d find a way to make it work in the 40 hours in my week. And if they piled up and the company decided I needed to work more hours, then I would leave. Or if I couldn’t find a way to be happy with the amount of backlog that was happening because I wasn’t working overtime, then I would leave. Either way, it was going to be 40 or nothing.

It’s been about a month, and I’ve been at 45 hours or less that whole time. And it’s been VERY HARD. But so far, no one in my department blames me for cutting back. And no one has said anything about my job performance needing to improve. And while I sometimes have to tell myself that it will be FINE. Just leave it. Go home. Do it tomorrow… I’m getting better.

And cutting back on my hours and my stress means that I’ve opened up my brain space to deal with other things that have been stuck up in there, lurking, waiting, rotting. And I’m working through them.

My concerns about what I share publicly are still relevant and there are a lot of things happening right now that I’m not going to write about. But I think I’m going to try to at least write SOMETHING. After all, I have this shiny new keyboard that needs to get used.

Hurricane Matthew – part 2

We have decided that we are going to leave town after all. Not because we’re worried about the weather, although an increasing number of people keep saying that we should be. But because we’ve been intending to go up and visit Mom and Dad and this is a really good weekend to do that! We used to have plans for Saturday — Family Day at work, Justin needed to go to the art museum for an exhibit for his Art History class, and a friend invited me to an Indian festival in town. But all those things got cancelled. I have off from work and Justin has very little homework due on Monday.

So we’re planning to head out there tomorrow and come back on Sunday.

As far as local news, this morning, the county decided that everybody east of I-95 should evacuate. We are west of the interstate. Less than a mile west, but we are west of it. This afternoon, our apartment complex sent out an email recommending that people leave. One of Justin’s classmates told him that her family was leaving around 1:45 this afternoon. He got an update from her recently (about 2 hours after they’d left) and they’re only 30 miles away. Hopefully traffic tomorrow morning will be clear.

It’s still calm and cloudy here. We kind of wish we’d be here to see what kind of weather does come through over the weekend. But we’re going to pack up and head to TN and check out how the weather is up there instead. I hope to get some hiking in this weekend! And getting to see Mom and Dad and the finished up house is going to be AWESOME!!

Hurricane Matthew

The biggest storm to come up the coast since 2007 is on its way into town, so I figured I’d write about it.

Hurricane Matthew has it’s own wikipedia page already and it’s a lot more accurate and detailed than I’ll be able to get, so if you want to know about the specifics of the storm, I’d recommend that you go read that article.

What I can tell you is about how it’s effecting things around here.

Yesterday morning, Tuesday, we were mostly not very concerned. It sounded like Haiti had taken a beating and it was surprising how little the storm slowed. And Cuba was looking like it was getting hit hard, too. But mostly we figured that overnight it would either slow down or, more likely, take a sharp right and head out into the Atlantic.

By that afternoon, though, it wasn’t turning or slowing down any, and Gulfstream decided to reschedule the Family Day scheduled for Saturday. And then the governor of South Carolina started putting into motion the mandatory evacuation of Beaufort county and others, which includes Bluffton and Hilton Head Island, starting Wednesday afternoon. I heard about it at work as some of my coworkers started telling the bosses that they had to leave and they wouldn’t be back until the governor said they could get back into their homes. They had to go home, make the house ready for the storm, and then head out of town to wherever they’d be spending the next couple days.

We had chiropractor appointments in Bluffton that evening, so we went up for our adjustments and looked as the ramp to the interstate was already getting backed up and the gas stations already had lines queuing down the street. Our chiropractor’s wife stopped by the office on her way out of town with their kid, on her way up to her family’s house in North Carolina. He was spending the night to get the house in order, but she was heading up early to beat the traffic.

At the grocery store next door, some people were shopping like maniacs, taking carts full of bottles of water and bread and, of all things, milk. Like, most of the milk was gone. What are you going to do with milk on the drive out of town?

Back home in Chatham County, our city of Pooler was mostly still unconcerned. Savannah sits in the “armpit” here and storms tend to come up Florida and then skip out into the ocean and make landfall again above us near Charleston. And Pooler is further inland from Savannah, on the other side of I-95, so there’s a number of us who were not very worried about this. Even so, Justin and I went out to the Scottish pub for dinner and every time the weather report came on about the storm, the whole place would get quiet. And then the Gulfstream Emergency notification network sent out a message saying that all the Chatham area schools were going to be closed for the rest of the week, and half the cell phones in the pub answered that message.

Justin’s school, Armstrong, was not cancelled for the morning, and neither was work for me. So we both got up this morning and went into town. Some people were absent from the office, taking care of their kids. But not as many as I expected. And Justin said most of his classmates were complaining about the fact that they didn’t get the day off like most of the other schools in the area. Armstrong did cancel all the classes after 11:00 this morning and for the rest of the week. (Justin was glad that they waited until after his exam was done for the day so he didn’t have to keep thinking about that all weekend.) At about that same time, they cancelled work for Friday for me.

I stayed at work over lunch and had meetings for the afternoon starting at 1:00. Half an hour into my meeting, a coworker stuck his head into the conference room and announced that they’d just cancelled work for Thursday. We could hear the hum of conversation outside the conference room ramp up to a quiet roar through the door. We pulled up Google maps to check how traffic was looking and I-16 from Savannah up toward Atlanta was already backed up for miles. The roads from Hilton Head and Charleston, which were supposed to get converted to all going one direction starting at 3:00 this afternoon, were looking pretty clear, up until the interstate ramps when things were getting backed up.

It’s been cloudy all day — even through the eye of this hurricane hasn’t even made landfall yet on the States, because this storm is HUGE. Seriously, it’s ENORMOUS. And the body of it is moving slowly, even if the winds within it are moving crazy fast. We don’t expect to feel any effects from it until late tomorrow, maybe not even until Friday. Saturday should be lots of rain, and then Sunday should be back to clouds again.

It’s been a mixed bag of how people are handling the pending storm. There’s the people who have been ordered to leave, obviously. And then there’s the people in town here who have the option to leave or to stay. There have been a lot of people stocking up on water and batteries and gas. Lots of people are heading inland, booking hotels as far north as Atlanta, or heading to stay with friends or family elsewhere.

We’re going to stay. We’re on the third floor of our building, so we’re not worried about flooding. The garage might get wet, but we’ll double-check it tomorrow and make sure it’s all safe to get wet. The worst that we’re expecting is if the wind gets strong, we might need to worry about the windows breaking — but we don’t believe to be likely. The power might go out, but if it does, we’ll eat all the ice cream and cook dinner over the propane stove we have for camping, and snuggle up reading books for the weekend. I’m okay with that plan. I have some work that I brought home to try to get done over the “long weekend,” but for the most part, we’re just going to take a quiet weekend, I hope.

Talking with my coworkers, I realized that even if Justin and I are not overly concerned and we’re going to “ride it out” at home, I would never try to convince anyone who was considering leaving that they should stay. Because we just don’t know how this storm is going to be until it actually arrives. If someone feels like they ought to leave and I convince them to stay and then the storm is worse than expected, or something horrible happens even if the storm isn’t that bad, then I would never forgive myself. I’d rather people evacuated and have nothing happen other than a bored weekend watching TV in a hotel somewhere inland rather than have them stay in town and have to suddenly deal with the floodwaters rising through their living room when they have nowhere to go or the wind taking the roof off their house above their heads.

And that brings us up to current! We’ve got no plans to go anywhere for the next couple days, lots of reading, lots of games, lots of Netflix, a bit of work (homework or work brought home), and not a lot of worries. Tomorrow we’ll be double-checking that we’re ready in case the storm starts to look like it’s worse than it looks right now. Friday and Saturday we’ll watch the rain. If it does start to sound like it’s not looking good, we’ll make sure to let everybody know. But so far, we’re just expecting to to get rainy and windy, and that’s about it.

Anniversary dinner

Hey! We didn’t actually end up having pasta! We had soup! That I made from scratch! And it was yummy!

So, allergy season is mid-swing now and Justin’s having a heck of a time, like I mentioned yesterday. (Look at me, posting two days in a row!)  We’re at a forecast pollen level of 9.4 (out of I’m not sure, 12?) and the top culprits are oak, juniper, and elm. The oak trees are trying to kill him. The juniper are working their way up to me, but I’m so far putting up a fight.

Anyway, yesterday he was head achy and draining and sneezing. Today he’s got awful gunk in his lungs and he’s miserable. He slept most of the day. (No classes today, so he didn’t skip anything.) We cancelled our chiropractor appointment because he wasn’t going anywhere and I didn’t want to go by myself. Which means we didn’t go to the grocery store or get tempted to get dinner on our way home. When he did finally decide that he was getting hungry, he said that what really sounded good wasn’t the frozen fish that we’d discussed, but a really creamy tomato soup with vegetables and noodles in it.

Well, we don’t have any cans of soup right now. But we do have a lot of other stuff, including a half bag of red potatoes that needed to get eaten. So I looked up a few recipes online, extrapolated a few concepts, and made up a pot of tomato soup from the stuff we had in the house!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons sweet unsalted butter
  • 6 oz bag of chopped carrots and celery (left over from the last time I made soup and stored in the freezer)
  • 1 young sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-ish pounds red potatoes, chunked
  • 1 small can of no salt added tomato paste (less than 1 cup, the tiny little can)
  • 1 big can of no salt added petite cut tomatoes (but whatever type you like would work just fine) (this was the biggest can we had in the house — 3.5 cups)
  • 4 cups no salt added chicken broth (or stock)
  • Optional: pasta, cheese, milk or heavy cream
  1. I melted the butter in a big skillet on a medium heat and added my frozen carrots and celery and let them cook for a while. It would probably go faster if they weren’t frozen, but I didn’t feel like doing it differently. Meanwhile, I cut up a small sweet Vidalia onion into small bits, and then I added that to the pan. It got pretty watery as the veggies melted, but I just kept giving it a stir now and then. And I crushed one clove of garlic into the pan with all the rest. I let this go until the onion was translucent and the other veggies seemed like they were getting pretty soft and the water had evaporated.
  2. While that was cooking, I scrubbed and cut up my red potatoes into small chunks and put them in a pot of water on the stove to boil.
  3. Into the pan with the carrots/celery/onion/garlic, I added the can of tomato paste and turned up the heat to a medium-high for just a little while, just to get the sauce bubbling a lot, and then I brought it back down to medium and let it reduce for a while, stirring it constantly to keep it from burning and sticking. I have no idea how long this took, but pretty much until I was bored and then again half as long. Once it got pretty thick looking, I removed it from the heat and set it aside.
  4. I put my big pasta pot onto the burner and added the carton of chicken stock (the carton was 4 cups, so I just put it all in there) and the big can of tomatoes, with all the liquid from the can, and then ground a bunch of a spice that Justin recommended and I can’t remember right now — I’ll find it later and tell you. And then I turned that up to medium and let it boil for a while. It’ll get a little bit foamy on the top as it boils. I was still waiting for the potatoes to boil at this point anyway, so I just worked on cleaning up the kitchen and let them bubble away. I don’t know how long that was — maybe 10 to 15 minutes? Not longer than that, I’m sure. Once the potatoes were done, I removed them from the stove, drained them, and set them aside for a little bit.
  5. After letting the tomato/chicken broth mix boil for a while, I added in the tomato paste/carrots/celery/onion/garlic mix from the first pan into the pasta pot and stirred that in for a while. (I kept on cleaning the kitchen.) Once it seemed like everything was integrated nicely, I turned the temperature down to a simmer and let it cool down a little bit.
  6. Since Justin had barely eaten all day and he’d mentioned wanting noodles in his soup, at this point, I set a pot on the stove with some pasta to boil so he could add it to his soup. I didn’t want the pasta in mine, so it didn’t get added to the big pot in the end, but he added it to his and said it was good that way.
  7. Once the pasta pot of soup had cooled down a little, I took out half of it (roughly) to another container, making sure to get a bunch of the solid vegetable bits. Then I used my immersion blender (Thanks, Mom!!) and blended all the rest of the soup in the pot, making it all creamy and foamy. Remember: you can always add the vegetable bits back in, if you decide that you’ve taken out too much. But you can’t take them out once they’re blended!
  8. Then I took about half of the potatoes and added them to the pasta pot and blended those into the soup, too. By this point, it was looking nice and thick and creamy. So I went ahead and put back in the rest of the soup that I’d removed but not blended and the rest of the potatoes and mixed it together to make a nice chunky, but still thick and creamy soup, and let it simmer just a little longer.

Justin put more spices into his bowl, along with the pasta and some cheddar cheese and probably a splash of milk. I didn’t want the calories, but adding some heavy cream or milk at the end of this would definitely make it even more creamy.

I thought it was delicious as it was and I’m very pleased about it! Even after we each had a big bowl of it, there’s still 5 cups of it in the fridge. So I’m definitely calling it a 6-serving soup. And if I’ve entered everything into MyFitnessPal.com correctly, 1/6 of this recipe comes in around 212 calories. (This is excluding the pasta/milk/cheese, just to be clear.)

Nutrition Facts
Servings 6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 212
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7 g 11 %
Saturated Fat 5 g 23 %
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 20 mg 7 %
Sodium 136 mg 6 %
Potassium 951 mg 27 %
Total Carbohydrate 30 g 10 %
Dietary Fiber 6 g 23 %
Sugars 8 g
Protein 6 g 12 %
Vitamin A 76 %
Vitamin C 57 %
Calcium 5 %
Iron 13 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

 

So I’m feeling very accomplished! And Justin is feeling, I hope, well fed. He went back to bed about half an hour ago, poor thing. I need to head to bed myself in order to prepare for getting to work at stupid 6:30 in the morning.

Did you know that there’s an actual word for the mix of carrots and celery and onion that was the start of this soup? It’s a French word: mirepoix. I think that’s nifty.

I should be sleeping, but instead I’m writing

  • It’s been crazy around here. I should be heading to bed, but everybody else is posting today, so I figured I’d join in.
  • Last week I worked 52 1/2 hours
    • I was told on Thursday that I’d have a big thing done by the following Friday
      • And then on Monday, I was told I’d have it done by Wednesday
    • It got done well enough, but it’s a mess and I have a lot of work yet to do
  • This week and next week, I’m covering the morning meeting for my coworker who is out on vacation
    • I have to be at work at 6:30 tomorrow
      • And Wednesday
        • And next Monday,
        • Tuesday
        • & Wednesday
          • Remember how I was so excited to not be awake at 5:00 AM anymore?
            • Yeah
              • This stinks.
  • I haven’t got my morning work out in since Friday before last.
    • I didn’t exercise at all last week, to be honest
      • I also didn’t eat well last week
        • My weigh-in this morning was not encouraging.
    • I did exercise this afternoon after I got home
  • Justin’s allergies are trying to kill him
    • Mine aren’t so bad … yet
      • Our grocery store sells 90 packs of generic allergy meds that we can both take for about $15
        • They also sell 15 packs for about $12.
          • They’ve been out of the 90 packs every time we’ve checked for the last 2 weeks
            • We have 3 pills left
      • Costco also sells allergy meds for cheap, but it’s an hour away
  • We saw Zootopia over the weekend
    • It was adorable
  • We are watching season 2 of Daredevil
    • It is almost as violent as season one… :(
      • The plot line is not as interesting as season one
        • I wish I had Karen’s hair
          • Also, her waistline because dang that girl is slender
  • Justin is still doing well in school
    • We have about 2 weeks before he has to focus on getting ready for finals and all his big end-of-the-semester projects
      • I’m going to have to make dinner more often when that happens…
        • I see a lot of pasta and frozen dinners in our future.
  • It’s our 8-year wedding anniversary tomorrow!
    • We have no plans
      • Besides going to the chiropractor
        • Because we are old and boring
      • I think dinner is probably going to be pasta
        • Because it’s quick, easy, and goes well with the broccoli going bad in the crisper
  • And now I have to go to bed so I can get up again in 6 1/2 hours.