Be careful what you Give-A-Shit for, you might end up with sore muscles, that then have to be used to shovel more and heavier snow.

I did crunches and pushups last night and then went for a walk this morning, but then this high-wind thing happened today. And I don’t care what anyone thinks, shoveling snow is officially going on the organized-exercise list. I did a bunch of shoveling over the weekend and again today. This weekend’s work was nothing compared to today’s, though. The wind is howling and packing the drifted snow tightly, and the above-freezing temps are making it all the more heavy.

I grunted, a lot. And whined to myself, a lot.

The pain is going to be so much worse tomorrow. So is the whining in my head. As is the wheedling little voice that will be trying to bargain my way out of doing exercise.

Fortunately, none of that will matter because I still have lots of shoveling to do, so the exercising will happen, come hell or high drifts —

which are kind of the same thing some days at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

Well, I’m not avoiding you for your own sake. It’s for mine.

I don’t want to have to declare my next Give-A Shit project. Don’t make me say it. Don’t make me make it a reality … .

Exercise every day.

AAAaaaw, hellfire, it’s out there. Gaaah!

Now, I gotta do it. I’m doomed! DOOMED.

I was going to do something food-related because I’ve been anticipating doing so since around Thanksgiving, thus I have conducted myself accordingly since then: eating constantly as if I will not have another meal. Ever. Because the loud irrational voice in my head keeps declaring that I’m going to give up eating altogether, and that sends the rest of my brain into a must-eat tizzy.

But, no, I’m writing more, sitting at the computer more, it’s winter, I’m lazy, yada yada yada, so I think I need to pay attention to the needs of my back first. That means exercise and stretching.

I’ve been whining in my head about this for a few days now. Anticipating my hatred of this prospect, despite the fact that, if done right, it will eventually make me feel better. (Or so the infamous “they” say.)

I have to keep the goal tentative and vague because I don’t know when the weather will allow walking, which seems to be the only exercise I can do without causing more damage. Unfortunately, if I can’t walk that leaves indoor exercising, which history and tradition have proven is just a perfectly awesome way for me to over-do things and hurt myself. Badly enough to require medical assistance. Whatever.

Therefore, in the interest of not damaging myself, finally, maybe, this year, I’m shooting for 15 minutes a day. Don’t laugh at me. I can walk a mile in deep snow, bundled for winter in that time. I can do three or four sets of crunches and pushups (yes, wimpy crunches, but I do full pushups so I’m not all puss), plus a few stretches. I can do my tai chi warm up and the 24-position routine. If I’ve been out shovelling or performing other heinous and strenuous activity, I can do three sets of my back stretches.

I’m just sayin’, I have options. Options that I might survive intact.

I’m not a believer in exercising every day, but I’m pretty sure that if I set my goal at five days a week I’ll be hunting ways to put it off for another day, tell myself I’ll make up days next week and do other stupid things to cheat myself. So every day. 15 minutes. Don’t be a wimp. It’s only 15 stupid, friggin’ minutes.

In the words of the Greek god Nike, “Just do it!” I think that’s written on a Greek tablet somewhere,

Yeah, I’m pretty sure at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

The trouble with drinking lots of water is the constant peeing.

I used to make three stops, maybe four, in a day. But now? 64 ounces a day now? It’s just me making tracks to the nearest bathroom. And you would think that having to get up in the middle of the night — every night — would be the worst part.

But no.

I have to pee at work every day now. Sometimes twice. That’s the worst part. The women’s bathroom at work, I’m certain, does not meet OSHA standards and is in violation of some kind of human rights laws.

Sure, it’s clean, but that’s not the only standard by which a bathroom should be judged. It’s also a little, unheated closet-thing that is right there off the big, open room where editorial staff has their cubicles, not too far from my very own desk in fact. The little closet has tiled floors and one painted cement block which is also the exterior wall to the building that is opposite the door which is one of those cheesy hollow-core doors like you see in cheap-ass old trailer houses, such as the one I live, so I know whereof I speak.

Here’s the problem, you go in to pee and the little tinkly (or big gushy) noise you make doing your beeswax echoes off the tile and the cement wall and out through the thin door to be heard by everyone in the freakin’ room. Of all the things I really don’t care about and will hang out there for the world, this is not one. I am, in fact, a little hinky about public bathrooms. If we’re buds, you and I, no problem. We walk into adjoining stalls and piddle away without a break in conversation.

However, I don’t want to share some things with coworkers.

Back when I couldn’t make it till I went home only maybe once every week or two, I used to just suck it up, tell myself that everybody pees and go in there. Not make a big deal out of it … except, yeah, I’d make sure I started pulling TP off that noisy holder right away to cover up the initial rush of noise. Then one day this week I realized I was getting a little psycho about that, really yanking on the TP end to make that thing rattle and squeak, then turning it back to squeak and rattle a few squares of paper back onto the roll, then squeaking it back off. It seemed a little excessive, and slightly, y’know, more than quirky, maybe obsessive. Whatever.

I had to start being mature about it.

Now I wait until someone has turned on the defective fan in the men’s bathroom — that sound rattles through the whole building, and someone would have to be standing there with their ear to a cup against the door to hear any sound in the bathroom. Problem solved.

What? You think I’m going to turn on the fan in the women’s bathroom? Voluntarily? Then they’ll think I’m in there farting!!

Hydration is complicated at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

John suffers from character spectrum disorder like the rest of us, possessing the gamut of qualities from awful to awesome, some qualities more than others. And he does his best to try to improve himself, sometimes harder than others. Just like the rest of us.

One of the things he does that I am very fascinated by is taking on huge tasks, that require an inordinate amount of time to complete. He just keeps chipping away on them until the end.

For example, he built an airplane. For those of you who don’t know, he has only one arm. He built an airplane despite that. And it wasn’t an assemble-it-yourself box of parts (which I always imagine coming in a wooden crate from the Acme airplane company, like in a Wyle E. Coyote cartoon). It was a home-built ariplane from a set of drawings and a pile of materials. It took six years, and he got maybe a few hundred hours of help total from me and a few other people. The rest? All him.

As impressive as that is, I’m actually more impressed by other times he shows this amazing stick-to-it-iveness. The mundane times. If you stay focused on the airplane project, at the end you get to fly this really cool sporty airplane all over, woohoo! But the 40’x70′ shop we bought with the land came with the floor coated in roughly 1/4″ of caked-on, baked-on, dirt-infused grease; soot and grease covered parts and tools and walls and equipment and, well, everything; along with the accumulated clutter of decades — some of it old, some of broken, bent or otherwise hinky, and some of it useable, but most of that at least in need of tuning. Think Pig Pen only with black grease instead of dirt. Every week John just chips away at cleaning, decluttering and repairing.

Sure, at the end he’ll have a clean shop so we won’t get black just walking in the door and we’ll have more storage for our things, but none of that seems to be worth the effort it will take to clean, repair and make safer all that needs be done in there. On top of it all, it’s always needing cleaning just from daily use.

Some days I think we should have an “accidental” oil spill next to an open flame, right after we’ve taken the good stuff outside to “give it some air.” (My luck, we’ll have an accidental fire now, and the insurance company won’t pay up because I said that, but I’ll leave it in — flirt with danger.)

The thing is the cleaning, repairing, etc. is the right thing to do. It’s functional as is, but it’s not right, so forgets the size of the entire task and he just chips away at it.

He explains it like this: It’s like eating an elephant. You can’t sit down and eat a whole elephant for lunch. You just have to keep taking bites out of the elephant and, eventually, it’s gone. You’ve done it.

Once I get past the fact that the imagery is gross (I always have to imagine that the elephant is cut up and wrapped in neat white packages labelled “burger” or “steak,” and it’s all kept in a giant walk-in freezer to prevent bloating and spoilage) and I disregard the fact that John hates leftovers as if he grew up privileged (one of the annoying characteristics he’s changing for my sake — and because I repeatedly tell him “Supper is leftovers or whatever you want to cook”), I really admire his method of keeping himself motivated.

Some days he’ll walk into the house and declare, “I took another bite out of the elephant!” and he sounds proud and happy … and not overwhelmed.

That’s a good thing.

It’s the inspiration for the plan behind the Year of Living Give-A-Shitly. In fact, I was going to call it the Year of the Elephant, but I kept forgetting the name (message me privately if you need that joke explained).

To be honest, he’s been blamed for worse at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

 

The key to making any delicious bean soup hideously ugly: black beans.

I just lost my head for a minute. I was going to use pinto beans. I swear I was.

I only wanted to look at the black bean bag to check the pounds to cups conversion, and then I was going to put it back in the cupboard. But then my brain thought “Hey, look! I’ll be able to use up this measly portion of a bag of beans. Won’t THAT be nice!” So I poured the black beans into the measuring cup. And then I got more black beans from the decorative storage jar, and they all ended up in a pot. And then I put the prescribed amount of water in the pot. (I was on a roll.) And then I put the pot on the stove and fired up the burner. And then I said, “Aw, crap!”

It’ll be OK, I decided. How bad could black bean and ham soup be?

I can tell you that it tastes delicious … however, it is butt-ugly.

All the veggies have a purple-gray tint to them — and I don’t know what that goes with worse, the supposed-to-be-pearly-white potatoes or the supposed-to-be-bright-orange carrots. And the ham is as dark purple-black as the beans. Maybe darker. It looks sinister.

We ate while watching a movie — that gave us something to look at besides the soup.

As a homemaking encore, I’m going to buy some new black jeans and launder them on hot with a load of brights.

Homemaking, one disaster at a time at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

 

 

I’ve gotten a few comments of “thank you for coming back, we think you are so totally awesome that our lives were made dull and lifeless without your words in them.” Well, OK, that’s an exaggeration, whatever, and it also illustrates my point that I don’t take compliments well.

With criticism (which is vastly different from evaluation or critiquing), I’m all over the place in my responses. I might consider the words and learn the lessons either implied or stated despite the manner in which said lessons were delivered. I might get hysterically angry or neurotic in my brain, which manifests itself as no verbal response at all. Or I might coldly, impartially or hotly dismiss the criticism in some way mentally, verbally or physically that says some version of “fuck off.” Any further words would be heavily profanity-laced. It’s like a Tourette’s disorder, don’t judge me.

Compliments, though, I’m pretty consistent in my flat out denial. “Ha ha ha, get real.” “Don’t let rumors like that get around.” “Oh, yeah, I’m so awesome you can’t hardly contain your desire to genuflect in my presence. Whatever.” If I get a compliment and say thank you without some verbal slight of tongue to deflect the praise or a joke, preferably a self-deprecating one, to soften the blow, then you know that I’m quietly writhing with internal agony as I fight to contain the sudden urge to say: “No! Take that back, I’m not awesome. Shut your mouth you dumb dummy!”

I don’t know why. I would need to win multi-millions in the lottery to have enough money for the therapy to get that answer worked out.

So all that said, I was endlessly fascinated by mini-namesake K-Pam when I saw her at Christmastime. At nearly 4 years old, she is a highly energetic, supremely opinionated and forthrightly self-assured little wisp of a child.

At one point, a bunch of us adults were sitting at the table chatting, letting our latest heaping of holiday food digest (and by that I mean we were complaining about being stuffed while mindlessly eating snacks), and K-Pam was stacking some variously shaped wood blocks and pegs into formations. Each time she announced that her creation was complete, we would tell her how awesome it was or how brilliant she is. “I know,” she would say offhandedly, while dismantling the formation and laying the groundwork for her next display of brilliance. What?!

I kept complimenting, with outrageous abandon, her every effort — just to watch her calmly accept the praise. Once, I told her that her creation was boring, and she assured me that “no, it’s not.” And she didn’t say it, but you could see from the slight shift of her shoulders she was really thinking, “no, it’s not, dumbass.” But she was too nice to say it out loud. My laughter ensued.

I felt like a scientist running tests on the mind of an alien creature of unknown origins, from a new world farther away than far, far.

I can’t say “I know” to a compliment, as much as I admired the response and the attitude, but perhaps I can get better at a simple “Thank you.” That will be a future/ongoing/lifelong project. But for now,

it’s a pretty big two-word leap for a dumbass at pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

Not so many years ago my dad commented to me that when I was a small kid I always asked interesting questions and made interesting observations. The example he gave is that I asked why daddy deer have horns and mommy deer don’t. He said he told me that the daddy deer need them to fight. I apparently thought about that a moment and commented that if that’s the case then the mommy deer should have them because they raise the babies and should have horns to use them fighting to protect the babies.

I remember thinking after he told that little story: “Wow, maybe I really am clever.”

In the past few-ish years I’ve come to ask just one short question more and more: “Why?” And not coming up with an answer.

Clearly I peaked early in life, and my only claim to mental acuity beyond the average 2-to-3-year-old asking the same simple question is that I also rephrase it: “How come?,” “What’s the purpose?” and “Is there a point to this?”

That, now, is my only evidence of advancing sophistication. Such as it is.

I’m not here today to delve into those questions, although I will say this: Don’t worry. I’m not suicidal. Unless I’m trying to eat-and-do-nothing myself to death. The good news, though, is that death by lassitude takes a few decades, so my loved ones will have time for an intervention.

I am here today to – maybe, probably, possibly – make an ass out of myself.

I’m doing the thing every expert tells people they shouldn’t because they’re setting themselves up for failure: I’m making a New Year’s resolution.

I have spent many years falling into this general state of apathy, and I have a long list of things I wish to make different, but I’m not going to set a failure minefield by making a physical list of them, changing everything at once (or in a year), or even formulating a plan.

Given my genetics, there is a strong likelihood that I could like another 40-50 years, with a high probability that at least the next 35 of those years will be sans dementia/Alzheimer’s. That’s a long time to wallow in apathy, and I’m almost as apathetic as one can get without being declared catatonic.

As I said, I have no plan, but I do have a guideline. Every week or so I’m going to try changing something, meeting a goal, starting a new habit, whatever. Some of them might take longer than a week to wrap my brain around. I suspect that at some point I’ll be overloaded with so many changes.

I’ve already implemented a few things that are ongoing projects (don’t make me say struggles). More will come about those later.

This week (or so) my goal is simply to drink more water. I know this sounds stupid but, if I remember, sometime in the future I’ll explain why it’s so important. Trust me, I need water. I need to consciously put effort into hydrating myself – 64 ozs. of water each day.

And, of course, I am blogging again. So that’s two things this week. I’m assuming I can handle it.

I have, if you’re wondering, been doing more writing, but I’ve wanted to get back to this. I write blog entries in my head. A lot. I just don’t commit myself to this, the sitting here and writing them in my blog. Now I’m trying. I may fail, but I’m trying.

This blog entry is an uncomfortably personal declaration to the world, yes, but I’m doing it because, well, if I don’t, I won’t start blogging again. I am compelled by my nature to share the things that my brain is obsessing about or share nothing at all.

Nothing at all was lonely. I felt like I had left things hanging out that needed to be on a shelf for display or zippered up for politeness’ sake.

I was hoping to think of a kick-ass name for this new journey, but the only thing I could come up with is:

“The Year of Living Give-A-Shitly” at pam@viewfromthenorth40.com.

Not so many years ago my dad commented to me that when I was a small kid I always asked interesting questions and made interesting observations. The example he gave is that I asked why daddy deer have horns and mommy deer don’t and he told me that the daddy deer need them to fight. I apparently thought about that a moment and commented that if that’s the case then the mommy deer should have them because they raise the babies and should have horns to use them fighting to protect the babies.

I remember thinking after he told that little story: “Wow, maybe I really am clever.”

In the past few-ish years I’ve come to ask just one short question more and more: “Why?” And not coming up with an answer. Clearly I peaked early in life, and my only claim to mental acuity beyond the average a 2-to-3-year-old asking the same simple question is that I also rephrase it: “How come?,” “What’s the purpose?” and “Is there a point to this?”

That, now, is my only evidence of advancing sophistication. Such as it is.

I’m not here today to delve into those questions, although I will say this: Don’t worry. I’m not suicidal. Unless I’m trying to eat and do-nothing myself to death, but death by lassitude takes a few decades, so there will be time for an intervention.

I am here today to – maybe, probably, possibly – make an ass out of myself. I am doing the thing every expert tells people they shouldn’t because they’re setting themselves up for failure: I’m making a New Year’s resolution.

I have spent many years falling into this general state of apathy, and I have a long list of things I wish to make different, but I’m not going to make a physical list of them. I’m not going to try to change everything at once, or even in a year. I don’t even have a plan.

I just know that things have to change. I have to change them myself (shocking as that is). Given my genetics, there is a strong likelihood that I could like another 40-50 years, with a high probability that at least the next 35 of those years will be sans dementia/Alzheimer’s. That’s a long time to wallow in apathy, and I’m almost as apathetic as one can get without being declared catatonic.

As I said, I have no plan, but I do have this: Every week or so I’m going to try changing something, meeting a goal, starting a new habit, whatever. Some of them might take longer than a week to wrap my brain around. I suspect that at some point I’ll be in overload with so many changes.

I’ve already implemented a few things that are ongoing projects (don’t make me say struggles).

This week (or so) my goal is simply to drink more water. I know this sounds stupid, and if I remember sometime in the future, I’ll explain why it’s so important, but trust me, I need water. I need to consciously put effort into providing myself water – 64 ozs. each day.

And, of course, I am blogging again. So that’s two things this week, but I think I can handle it.

I have, if you’re wondering, been doing more writing, but I’ve wanted to get back to this. I write blog entries in my head. A lot. I just don’t commit myself to this, the sitting here and writing them in my blog. Now I’m trying. In fact, I’ll toast with a big swig of water to that.

Feel free to comment or email me, join in on this endeavor. It’s a personal one,yes, but I’m sitting here declaring it to the world because, well, I am compelled by my nature to share the things that my brain is obsessing about or share nothing at all.

Nothing at all was lonely.

I was hoping to think of a kick-ass name for this journey, but the only thing I could come up with is this:

“The Year of Living Give-A-Shitly” at pam@viewfromthenorth40.com.

We had a gorgeous, spectacular, god-cloud kind of evening last week, so I went out to take all these stunning photos that make amateur photographers look good, when all you really have to do is put the camera on auto, randomly point the lens anywhere in the sky and push the button. Presto! Instant artistic genius.

Then I downloaded the photos and discovered that I had the auto-setting on one of the lower quality settings = grainy photos.

Instant genius fail at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

I cut my hair this weekend and, since putting the scissors down, every time that I have looked at or gotten distracted by my hair, I have thought this phrase first: “What the hell?”

As a rite of passage into adulthood my painfully stick-straight hair decided to turn curly, but only the hairs that grow out from my ears down, and more on the right side than the left, so that I had to leave the right side 1/2″ longer than the left.

And it’s grown more and more curly every year so by now I have to layer my hair or else the underside curls shrink up in length to be shorter than the upper hairs. And more so on my right side (which now has to be 3/4″ longer — on the underside — to match the left side). It’s complicated. I would love to be one of those women who can wash their hair, scrape a comb through it and go. I resent every moment I’ve ever spent fixing my hair.

All that said, one simple, reliable truth about my hair is that no matter what the style of cut, the left side turns under and the right side flips up and tries some crazy shit. Always. Aaaalllwaaaysss. Until Sunday, June 17, 2012.

Now the right side turns under and the left side flips up. The right side looks good (or at least salvageable or maybe passable) and the left side looks like I combed it with a Cuisinart dual-speed, stainless-steel mixer.

I spent 20 minutes fixing my hair this morning. 20 minutes. Tweeeennntyyyy minutes. (I had nightmare flashbacks to high school.) And after that major time investment, it still looked a sketchy. (See earlier PTSD reference.) And, by the time I got to work, the left side had flopped, like the left side had taken a steamy, over-crowded school bus to work — where I arrived late because I had been fixing. my. hair. for. 20. minutes.

What is my world coming to at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

In an awe-inspiring display of my training acumen and current state of physical prowess, I fell off my pony this weekend. No, “pony” is not a euphemism for either the ungainly youth, or the stunningly athletic rocket launcher I have for big horses. It was the little paint pony.

In my defense, I was riding in my dressage saddle with “slick” jeans (as opposed to my breeches with grippy suede knee patches) and she’s a freakin’ pony that doesn’t have much body to wrap your legs around.

So when we were strolling on home, on a loose rein because she was being a good girl, and then she spooked at a great big nothing that she imagined from thin air that caused her to swoop abruptly sideways, I just flipped off her into the ground like someone had kicked my favorite barstool out from under my favorite butt. Splat.

In the pony’s defense, she was just as surprised as I was to find me picking myself up out of the gravel.

And on the plus side, it wasn’t very far to fall.

In unrelated news, after John and I had returned from a short walk around the property tonight, he started swiping at his waist band on his right side.

“What’s up?” I asked about his odd behavior.

“Bug,” he said.

“Oh, it’s probably not a bug,” I assured him. “It’s probably just a tick.”

Swipe.

“Great. I was under that tree,” he said. Scratch.

“Oh, ticks don’t fall off trees so much as they jump on you from tall grass,” I explained.

“We walked through all that pasture … ,” he said pulling his shirt from his waistband and rooting around for possible sources of a tickle, of a possibly creepy-crawly origin.

Hmmm. Cue the evil laugh in my head here.

Despite a bruise and scrapes, I still got it at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com