physiology 101

My dear friend of 40 years and fellow blogger writes  about life-changes she is seeking, and how she is trying to pay more attention to her gut instincts and give the constraints of pure logic a bit of rest as she searches for new directions.

I liked her post and it made me think (as her writing always does, bless her) … I was reminded of something I have done and should do more of … so I post a rephrase of my comment to her here:

My instincts don’t lie in my gut, I don’t think. The things that thrive in my gut are panic, anxiety, dread. Also extra pounds. I would just as soon not know about my gut – where it is, what it’s doing or thinking, what it wants to eat, how it is getting along with the size of my pants, etc.  

My question is to my heart — the soul part, not the bloody pumping part. “Are you there? How do I make you grow? How do I live out your desires? ”

One thing that has helped me in moving along when I have been stuck is visualization. Draw the image of where I want to be, who I want to be, what I want to do. Make the image as real as I can. I write it out in words, draw and diagram pictures of it. Keep looking at it, keep it in my head at all times. It becomes part of me, my conscience, my sub-conscience. I start moving in the direction I visualize as if by magic.

I learned this awhile back from a friend who shares some of my fears around horseback riding … specifically the performance anxiety that comes with competing, and my huge fear of jumping. I started to ride the perfect dressage tests or hunter classes in my head, over and over. I even visualized burps in the rides and how I would ride through them. In my car during my commute, in the shower, during boring meetings at work, whenever I could let my mind safely wander away from reality, I would put in my head the vision of where I wanted to go.

Build the vision and live it in your head. What are you doing? What kind of person are you? How are you dressed? What is your daily routine like?


It is just like practicing for a speech or a difficult conversation, really.  Write the speech and then present it to an imaginary audience.  Have the audience throw some rotten tomatoes and then visualize how to deal.

I have my current passion, the Book, storyboarded on the wall of my home office — Will start posting pieces of it for my Fun with Murder Readers team …Googled images of landscapes and buildings and artifacts that figure into the story — timelines of events — an organization chart of the key characters’ interrelationships  — photos of people who look like my characters.    I am still looking for the character that will fit into Tommy Lee Jones.  Gotta have Tommy Lee Jones in the eventual movie screenplay, dontcha know.

The Upside-downside to being Nutty(er than usual), or More Fun (Way!) with Math

I don’t know about you but I’m getting a bit bored with the whole anxiety/panic disorder topic.  Not to mention the whole anxiety/panic disorder thing (IT) itself.   Honestly, writing about IT has helped some.   Up until now, when IT has started to Thoroughly.  Piss. Me. Off.

Today’s status:  Still here, still have some of IT symptoms, dealing.  But I have a buttload of work to do before my vacation next week.  So the increase in my usually barely tolerable work stress is making life a bit more enjoyable.

Now, on to the Upside.  Which is a Downside.  But a good one, especially given the whole freaking point of this freaking year and this freaking blog.

Since August 1, I have lost

♦     18 pounds     ♦

(204 to 186 today).  My last published weight log showed my high point at 202 in March. That was not the eventual high point.

All of my not-so-hard work was paying off in the reverse.   Which was not the trend I wanted to publish, which is why I took down the weight log,  although I did continue doing and woe-is-me-ing weigh-ins March through July.

(Aside:  Rather than Outright Lie, I prefer to Withhold Comment.  Sort of like when a  friend asks me if they look (good or bad or smart or stupid) (doing or wearing or dating) (something or somebody).   I do not want to Lie but I do not want to tell the Truth, either.  So I WC, which is similar in concept to being PC,  but of course without the P.    Since I try not to do or say anything whatsoever that has the remotest chance of having the label P(olitical) attached to it)).  (I love parenthetical comments, as you know.  I think this wins the Most Parentheses Ever In One Paragraph In My Blog award.)  (But I am more in love with run-on sentences than anything, as you also know.)

And no, I do not think achieving the reverse of desired results had anything at all to do with  IT, the Thing I Am Tired Of  Writing About.  Being overweight does not cause me IT.   Being overweight  just Pisses. Me. Off.

Anyway, I told you I was feeling different and bits and pieces were rearranging and my underwear was getting large enough to hold both the Boob Section and the Other End.

I think that I get the biggest kick out of the fact that I have lost a good bit of weight while I am still on Paxil (holding at 10 mg, terrified to step down again until I get a better handle on things).

My formula appears to be:

<20 gr carbs (very little sugar/starch) +

>50 oz liquid +

(30 mins cardio 5-6 days/wk)

= – 18 (in 2 months).


the toolbox

first, there is some movement on the fat front.  movement away from me, which is good.  but i’m not allowed to know how much movement until end of this month.  In the meantime, it is very interesting to feel parts of me shifting around and not being there anymore, or not being as big as before.  I can tell this because i am able to pull up the waistband of my underwear to just below my bustline.   When I can get the waistband up and over the boobs, real progress.   And a trip to Walmart for different underwear, I suppose.

For now, though, I wanted to go through my disorder repair toolbox — I need to cowboy it up a bit, I think, given the Paxil withdrawal experience and learning how to live life with GAD  in new and fun ways.    I’m thinking about what stuff needs to be added, but here is the list of the most frequently used items:

1.  Mo:  The best and biggest tool.  He can be the best person on my planet one day, and then the biggest moron the next day.  Heart pounding cardio and hypnotic rhythm.  Self-confidence and humility.  Fresh air and dirt.   Cuddles and nods.  Physical strength and wimping out.  Powerade Zero and peppermints.  Slender legs and helmet hair.  The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.  or deseat.  which is on the way to de ground.

2.  Deep breathing exercises:  These are for anxiety and they work.  I am learning pranayam from my co-worker.   It is a set of peaceful, meditative breathing exercises that improve the flow of oxygen and reorder my chakras or something.  I suppose.  I am not 100% convinced of chakras but I do feel more reordered somehow after I do deep breathing.  I also feel more anxiety from doing deep breathing.  This is another Murphy’s Law, or maybe a Catch-22.  When I do deep breathing I feel like I am doing something good for myself.  But the fact that I need to do deep breathing means there is Something Wrong, which the Heebie Jeebies read as a Welcome mat.  I think I just need more practice.  And perhaps a half hit of # 9.

3.  Cigarettes:   These work well.  They are especially effective at counteracting both the benefits and the stresses caused by #2.  And Yeah Yeah, I KNOW.  I am just not going there until [1]  significant fat loss, to make room for what I am going to gain back when I quit and  [2] the  100%-off-Paxil date plus a yet-to-be-calculated probationary period.   In other words, not in the very near term.  Get over it.

4a.  Music.  Old skool R&B, classic rock, blues, Latin and classical.   Stuck in the 70s mostly.  Except for Chopin, who wrote Nocturnes while he was stuck in the 1800s.  The Nocturnes were my favorite pieces to play when I studied piano.  This was before my planet invented horses.

4b.  Old Movies.  1930s-50s.  Film noir, crime/mystery, Hitchcock, Bogie, gangsters, westerns.  Roy Rogers and Trigger.  Another sickness of mine — I have collected 88 of the total 90 movies that Roy Rogers made.  Also have CDs of all of his early radio performances and releases with the Sons of the Pioneers, before he became Roy Rogers and got Trigger.  Don’t get me started on this topic, btw.

5.  Knitting needles and yarn.   To keep my hands moving — moving my glasses from my nose to the top of my head and back, back and forth until the glasses get Put Down Somewhere and then … you know this part already (see headaches).

6.  Chopsticks:  These are sticks like knitting needles, except they are prettier and fun to eat salad with.   So, good for both mental and physical well-being.

7.   Lily, Lulu, Rainy, Stormy, Ody, Roushone, Dudie, Tinkie, Pootie, Phooey, Babalooey and Izzyboo.  Having furry ones at home to care for helps focus me on other things besides mild vertigo, brain zaps, housework, and my newly developing anxiety about doing deep breathing.  (see #2).


8.  Job:   On a good day, a good anxiety fix.  On a bad day, still a good anxiety fix due to throwing things and screaming expletives.  Although sometimes, rarely, throwing things and screaming can sometimes make me feel a wee bit out of control, which can cause an Episode, most times throwing things and screaming make me feel utterly normal and happy about life.

9.  Xanax.  Duh.

10.  My Bible.  Ditto.

11.  My Book.  This is actually just My Storyboard at this point.  But it is a real storyboard taped on my real wall with real things on it that contain the whispers and nudges and glimmers of possibilities of a real mystery novel.   If ever I learn to write like a real writer.

If Living Well = Best Revenge, I’m going to need a bigger car

What prompted me to write yesterday’s post was a fairly severe episode of anxiety/panic yesterday morning.  Got through it of course, but sheesh.

Then a major meltdown during my riding lesson tonight.  The  lesson itself was nothing really out of the ordinary — I’m trying to get back some lost time learning how to jump and jumping for me is scary but I had been doing pretty well with my comeback.   Tonight a few canter strides over poles on the ground went a little rough, I pulled back in fear,  Mo got a little amped in response, and I lost it — I didn’t fall or get hurt or anything,  just got scared and broke down.  Eventually, with my trainer Alejandro’s  patience and encouragement, I composed myself, worked on something else, did okay with it, and finished the lesson. A few weeks ago, I would have just talked with him about what went wrong, and tried again, perhaps still a bit fearful but ammoed-up by his coaching  for the next attempt.

When I was first diagnosed with panic syndrome in the late 80s, then general anxiety disorder in the early 90s, I did not recognize any specific causes, such as triggering events or difficult circumstances or what-not.   Still don’t — definitive causes have remained a mystery.   The shrinks I have seen over the years theorize that I am a type of a Type A personality that needs to be continually building something to be happy and feel productive, needs a lot going on at once, and can handle all that cheerfully with ease, then get even more overloaded and still keep on truckin’.    The disorders are my chemistry’s rebellion when the all-that  finally gets to be too much.   What the shrinks have not been able to tell me is what the too-much point of the all-that is.  And after all-that-money I have indirectly invested in La-Z-Boy (Live Life Comfortably) to upscale the leather factor of my shrinks’ offices.  That I could have just spent directly on new leather sofas for my own living room so that my dogs can turn them into upscaled dog beds so that they can Live Life even more Comfortably than what the present ultra-shabby-crappy-ragged-cat-shredded-dog-smashed-chic decor can offer.

For years I have been telling people that Paxil saved my life.  Its symptom fix absolutely did make my living so very much better.   Of course, with my steps down in dosage, the symptoms are back with a vengeance.  And with each step down, they are more frequent and more determined in their quest for vengeance.

Is this what life off meds is just going to be like?  I am just going to be This Way from now on?

If that’s the case, ok, I say Bring It (I say that from the relative safety and peace and good coffee and dogs sleeping at my feet of my home office).    I am getting off Paxil and not going back on.

I have to find a good life without it,  in spite of  This.  Maybe I just have  to accept This as my constant companion.   Sort of like a nervous and jerky backseat driver who is always in my car, unleashing a continual screaming barrage of warnings and gasps and “Turn-HERE!”s and “Don’t-turn-THERE!”s and “Slow DOWN!”s and “Go FASTER!”s and  “LOOK-OUT!!“s … who refuses to get out the car even though they think I am such a bad driver, and won’t shut the fuck up and just let me drive.  And who may be pointing a gun at the back of my head besides.   If I could just stuff them in the trunk.  Or have a very large vehicle with many rows of back seats, sort of like a limo-cum-movie theater, and stick them way back in the farthest-back row so their shrieking can barely be heard.

Drawing this image of the unwanted screaming meemie lethal-weapon-toting passenger has given me some ideas …  Time to get out the toolbox and check the inventory …

10 is Not Enough

… 10 mg of Paxil, I mean.

Let’s begin with a review of the Paxil withdrawal symptoms I posted a while back — in Blue are the ones that I am currently experiencing off and on:

  1. intense insomnia
  2. extraordinarily vivid dreams.   This confuses me, given #1 above.  Unless this is extraordinarily vivid daydreams.  Which I have always had.  So, normal.   
  3. extreme confusion during waking hours.  This one also confuses me.  WebMD or whoever you are — what other hours are there beside waking?  (see #1).   
  4. intense fear of losing your sanity.  Fear, not so much.  Let’s call it Intense Acceptance.
  5. steady feeling of existing outside of reality as you know it (referred to as depersonalization at times).  This is the one of the main things for me.  It would be the worst thing if there was no panic.  
  6. memory and concentration problems.  I take this to mean lack of memory and/or concentration.  I have the opposite.   Over-memory and over-concentration.  Which are problems.  So which is it?  Again I am confused.  thinking about making #3 Blue too.
  7. Panic Attacks (even if you never had one before).   This is the worst thing.
  8. severe mood swings, esp. heightened irritability / anger.  This is the most annoying thing.  
  9. suicidal thoughts (in extreme cases).  Not a chance.
  10. an unconventional dizziness/ vertigo.  Yes. Like what you might feel when you are experiencing an earthquake.  A brief warning — something’s up — and then imbalance, rocking and rolling.  Very strange.   I am getting used to it.  And I can make it look like my normal penguin walking so people don’t think anything of it, except perhaps to wonder why I walk like a penguin.  See #12.
  11. the feeling of shocks, similar to mild electric one, running the length of your body.  This goes with the above.  It is what they call the Paxil brain zaps and these come immediately before onset of the earthquakes. 
  12. an unsteady gait.  This I have but I do not attribute it to withdrawal.  I attribute it to my walking like a penguin.    I walk like a penguin because the share of the medical community that I have available to me for treating my bad ankle is not actually treating the bad ankle, and is therefore a moron.
  13. slurred speech.  Not Paxil withdrawal, but work-related due to conference call overload.  
  14. headaches.  These I have always had.   I do not attribute headaches to withdrawal.  I attribute headaches to wearing my glasses on the top of my head instead of on the part of my head that contains my eyes.  Or wearing the wrong pair of glasses for the task at hand — short vision for reading, medium for computer, long for driving/riding.   Sometimes I choose wrong.  Because of the Murphy’s law of glasses.  The pair you need you cannot find when you need them.  You need them because you cannot see.   Therefore, in order to find them, you have to see them, and in order to do that you have to have already found them.  This and being left-handed are the two primary reasons why my actuarial life span is about 9 years shorter than average.      
  15. profuse sweating, esp. at night.  Nope.  just profuse #1, esp. at night.
  16. muscle cramps.  Yes but I think due more to penguin walking.  Or due to Mo when he decides to be taking a nap while I am trying to get a big canter from him.  This causes me to work my legs extra hard to floor Mo’s accelerator pedal, which causes my muscles to overwork and later cramp.  Or this could also be due to Mo when he decides to spook after he has gotten into the big canter, which usually ends up with me overworking my muscles by trying to hang on for dear life,  or by trying to get up after landing on my butt.  
  17. blurred vision.  Yes but not withdrawal.  See #14.
  18. breaking out in tears.  yes.  this is new since the step down to 10 mg.  
  19. hypersensitivity to motion, sounds, smells.   Nope.
  20. loss of appetite.  absolutely, significantly.  not entirely a bad thing because of my other goal.  
  21. nausea.  especially in the morning.  
  22. abdominal cramping, diarrhea.  Nope.
  23. chills/ hot flashes.  I have noticed some brief chills.  But I think they come  from when I stand for long periods in front of my fridge with the freezer door open, staring inside and not deciding what to make for dinner, because of #20.  Otherwise I am and always have been too hot.  I am thinking this will change when I am no longer carrying extra heat-retaining blubber, like that of whales, the beached group of which I am an honorary member of  when I wear my dressage whites.    

The past week, since my step down to 10 mg, some of these have become more noticeable or frequent – breaking out it tears,  loss of appetite, brain zaps,  anxiety/panic episodes.

Now I’m sure  you already know what the drug Paxil and others in the SSRI class are believed to do … which is increase the extracellular level of the neurotransmitter serotonin by inhibiting its reuptake into the presynaptic cell, increasing the level of serotonin in the synaptic cleft available to bind to the postsynaptic receptor.   Withdrawing the SSRI decreases the extracellular level of serotonin.   Translation:  Both the SSRI itself and the withdrawal from it are f-ing with my head.

Which is really pissing off my brain.   So it is throwing all these temper tantrums, thinking it can wear me down and make me come off my high horse and just go back on the drug already.

Well, I don’t respond to temper tantrums.    If you think throwing a tantrum is going to have the effect of getting what you want from me, Brain, think again.

The Cosmos has nodded

Or, perhaps, the Atlas on my personal planet has indeed Shrugged.

(Aside begin:  I was very amused by the interest in/hysteria about Ayn Rand’s philosophy as reported in the media of late.  And, perhaps more cosmic timing, the movie The Fountainhead starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal was on the other night.  Enjoyable, but over the top in many ways.  Just like Ayn Rand.  Aside end.)

Because, finally, after 238 days of mostly wishing sprinkled with some tiny flecks of actual hard work, one of my horse peeps Paula said to me the other day  “Carol!  You have lost weight, haven’t you?  You look fantastic!”  Paula is in her late 50s-early 60s, an engaging stick-person of a woman who rides second level dressage on her adorable 19 year old Leopard Appaloosa named Riot.  (If you are not a horse person, I don’t expect you to get much of that last part, just know that Paula is to be admired, and she and Riot are friendlies.)

Ok, so don’t go getting all excited.   I have not lost all that much yet and I know I do not look all that fantastic, really.  I am guessing 7-10 lbs.  I am guessing that range because of the way some of my clothes are fitting.  I am guessing, period, because I am not allowed to weigh myself until I have passed the first 8 weeks of the particular diet plan I am following.  I am guessing I am not allowed to weigh myself because I am one of those morons who gets discouraged and quits the plan and makes a big pot of rice when I don’t drop 5 pounds each day.

And on this particular day,  I was wearing this assymetrical-hemmed sweater thing that makes my belly disappear like magic.   I’m guessing it is made out of the same fabric that covered the fusilage of the now-retired F117a Stealth Fighter.  It is partly because of this fabric, and partly because of the angularity of the fusilage itself, that rendered the airplane invisible to the Bad Guys’ Radar.  At least while it was flying around.   (Another aside:  I do not know how good the Bad Guys’  radar is — could figure into it. )   (Another aside:  Years ago when I was still connected to the US Air Force,  I had the privilege of visiting one of these airplanes at a secret base somewhere in the Nevadan desert.   The fabric did not hide the airplane when it was just sitting in the hangar.  I discovered that because I was able to see it well enough to locate the cockpit and climb inside and pretend I was a fighter pilot until the Crew Chief who was showing me the plane started getting nervous.)

And yes, there really was a secret base in the Nevadan desert.  The coolest thing about that, for me at the time, was that it was completely overrun by wild horses.

Back to …. So, yes,  I do feel like the latest approach is working.  This latest approach has two key features:

[1]  Significant step down in my Paxil intake.  I think my body decided it was okay to start shedding fat when I got to the 20 mg point in my step-down (I started at 40 mg in June.  I got down to 20 mg a few weeks ago and just stepped down again to 10 mg a few days ago); and

[2]  NO SUGAR.  Less than 20 grams of carbs per day, total, and I do mean less than 20 grams.  Roughly equivalent to less than 5 tsp of sugar per day.  Or 1/4 cup of rice. Oh, come ON.  Which is roughly equivalent to no rice at all.

…both of which are keeping me pretty cranky about life in general … until of course I got the Nod.  That was pretty cool.  So today, when I made flan and key lime pie for my friend Alejandro’s birthday, I celebrated a little and ate a slice of flan. Oh well.  Back at it mañana.


Circle your wagons, Cosmos, someone is on the warpath

I am Not Very Nice these days.  with Good Reason.  Day 22 on the no-sugar (20 grams or less net carbs per day) regime with a few days break here and there for special occasions.  Still treading water at 20 mg Paxil, which is half the dose that I had been maintaining for several years.  Over that time, my personality weather pattern had been Mostly Sunny, with a few clouds and some meteor showers of anxiety/panic now and then to keep things interesting.

The past few weeks I am very different.  I can get to the Mostly Sunny state frequently but I have to work at it.  There are more clouds and they come with thunder boomers.  Meteor showers are frequent but my tool box is keeping up.  I am way more excitable, on edge, aware.  Like there is danger around but I am not afraid.  I just need to be ready to pounce, or run.

At work, it is a real struggle to control my temper.  This is because of the morons.  I am noticing there are more morons than there were a few months ago.

Usually morons mostly just amuse me.  Now when I am on my multiple back to back conference calls all day, and the morons begin to speak , I smash the mute button on my phone so I can talk back to them with lots of insults and F words, a la “You just said that same f-ing  thing for the third f-ing time inside of 10 f-ing minutes, you f-ing mo-ron.”

These muted discussions I have with myself I try only to do when I am working from home.  When I am in the office, I put Scotch Magic brand tape over my mouth and a Post It note on my forehead that reads “Just Shoot Me.”.  I would put “Just F-ing Shoot Me” on the Post It posted on my forehead if I had a private office.  Which I don’t because all of the Mid-Level Manager offices are already occupied.  By Mid-Level Mo-rons.

But even in the privacy of my home office, my temper tantrums could be hazardous, since frequently I can have two conference calls going at the same time — I have one call going on the cell and the other on the land line.  My pretentious little blue tooth thing goes in my ear for the cell calls, and my land goes on speaker.  The hazardous duty part is when I forget which phone goes with which meeting, which phone I should speak into when I need to speak, and which one needs to be muted when I launch one of the shrieking tirades in homage  to the morons.

So is this the real me?  Is this how I was before I got disordered?  I don’t like this person much.  Except for the part that I have actually lost some pounds.  I am not allowed to weigh myself until 2 Oct, 8 weeks into the no-sugar thing.  Not a huge amount, somewhere between 5-10 is my guess, but I can tell from my clothes, and from the decreasing aches in my back and knees and from my increasing stamina for riding Mo.

I will go into the eating plan next time.

I’m sticking with it, the diet and the drug withdrawal, pissy attitude or not.  I figure this is how I learn to use the toolbox and become a regular person.  I want to take my next step down to 10 mg this weekend.

You can say a few prayers for the Morons if you like.

Exercise is better when it involves muck

I have been AWOL from here for the better part of two weeks, which also means AWOL from FFFF for the most part.   But I’m back now, with a new batch of groceries and the renewed spirit that goes with having fresh, non-fuzzy food in the fridge.

I took a short vacation from blogging to work more than usual.   I have to figure out how to work in a fairly demanding job and still do everything else I am supposed to do, like ride, knit and write blog posts.  I pause to consider working parents and then I pause to thank God that all I have to take care is a brood consisting of the rough equivalent of 13 three year old children (6 horses, 5 cats, 2 dogs) who do not need much except space, food, water, cookies, belly rubs, and the occasional field rodent, reptile or skunk to kill or play with.

Oh, and the horses get something else … pedicures every 7 weeks or so.  That is, they get their hooves trimmed and some horses get shoes if they aren’t being kept barefoot.    Someday I will blog on the heady politics vs. science of the Horse World’s barefoot vs. shoes thing if you’re up for some controversy and general nonsense.

I use the horses’ spa time with our farrier to do some catching up on barn chores, since I need to be nearby while he works on the horses.  It is usual and customary for there to be a “handler” standing by for the farrier.   Just in case Something Happens.  Like if someone gets kicked.  More than likely at my farm, the someone getting kicked would be a horse, by the farrier.  But only for potentially or actually dangerous misbehavior.

Our farrier, Glen, with Tatiana supervising

What I do as the handler is hand the horses cookies while they balance on three feet instead of the usual and customary four.  This in my mind keeps the whole pedicure experience a pleasant one for the horse so they won’t misbehave and get kicked.  It also keeps me from annoying the farrier which I try not to do.  Having a good farrier is like having a good hair stylist.  You don’t want to piss them off and have them fire you as a client, and then have to test drive a bunch of new ones.

The other thing I do as the handler is walk away from the horse I am supposed to be handling and go do something else.  Like one of my favorite forms of exercise — cleaning the barn stalls.  It involves a wheelbarrow, manure fork, and of course manure, aka muck.  The only fashion statements you might want to make here are muck boots and gloves, but only if you’re fussy about getting muck on your feet or hands.  The exercise part is shoveling and lifting and dumping.  All the better for strength training if it has rained recently and the manure is soggy and ultra heavy.  Not to mention especially stinky.

Exercise room, with equipment

I don’t know what it is, but there is something about shoveling manure that I like.  It is so much more enjoyable than, say, mopping my kitchen floor or vacuuming the carpet.  It might be because I have poor eyesight.  I can see manure because it is big, and I can see the difference when it’s gone.  When I mop or vacuum, I can’t really see much of a difference from the before state.   The particles getting cleaned up are just too small to get much enjoyment out of the cleaning up of them.

Or, more likely, I can’t see the difference because I didn’t really actually do the mopping or vacuuming.  I just thought about it.  And then decided to go hang out in the barn.

Spring, is that you lurking just around the corner?

No.  It is March after all, which means winter is coming.  The best storms and the most snow I have had in the almost 16 years I have been enduring  enjoying wannabe-farm life in the Sierra Nevada foothills have happened in March.

The other night I was up into the wee hours stormsitting.   Stormsitting is patrolling the farm outside, in the howling wind and pounding rain, with my 2 million mega-mega watt laser-powered flashlight searing holes in the dark for me to walk through, fashionably dressed for the occasion in my authentic Australian oiler coat and hat and tall rubber muck boots.  Storms are both fun and scary out here on the farm.

A fun part is bedding down the horses in the barn late at night and then sitting there listening to them eat contentedly while the rain pounds on the metal roof and the wind whips up a symphony in the pines and oaks on the hill behind.  Somehow getting the horses inside and quietly munching calms my nerves.  A lot can go wrong on the farm if the wind gets too strong.  But because horses are prey animals, they know when there is really something to be afraid of, and they let you know in no uncertain terms.  So as long as they feel safe enough to eat, I can feel safe.   And I can sit there with them and read my Kindle, since it has this cool thingamajig that lights the reading panel without needing external power.  Which by now has more than likely already gone out anyway.

Another fun part is being inside the house with a fire blazing in the woodstove, dogs and cats setting up their various homesteads on couches, the floor, window seat, inside the clothes dryer, and inside the kitchen cupboard where the baking pans live.  It is good to have something purring or snoring nearby when there is a storm.   Of course if you happen to go into the kitchen, the cat that is dozing on the cookie sheets inside the cupboard will make noises and you will think the skunk has returned.  Or the bats.  Or the ghost.     And then that becomes a scary part.

Scary is when the power goes out.  Not because I am afraid of the dark, I am not.  But because when there is no power, there is no water.  So when a storm threatens, I fill up every possible item that can hold water — pots, pans, bathtubs, washing machine, outside garbage cans.  With horses, there has to be a decent amount of water available at all times.    With me, there has to be a decent amount of coffee available at all times.  With dogs and cats, there has to be a toilet.  As long as I am on Restroom Plan B, they are fine.

Scary is when there is too much rain and the clay soil gets saturated and the barn floods.   I hate that.  But to make myself feel better I remind myself that there will be a lot of good exercise re-digging out the trenches around the barn, and that will be Good For Me.   It does make me feel better.  It also pisses me off.

Or when tree limbs from the couple of acres that are nothing but trees start flying around in the wind and who knows where or on what they are going to land.    Like on Stupidest Horse Rainy who won’t stay inside the barn during the storm.  Probably because of her name.  But then again her mother mare’s name is Stormy, and Stormy knows to stay inside the barn during a storm.   So, theory debunked.

The absolute scariest?  When the weather is angry enough to take out my Internet satellite dish.  Since then I would have to face housework or some other productive use of my storm time. Please, not that.

Sometimes no progress = some progress

As you can see from my scoreboard,  I had a very small upswing last week.  This I attribute entirely to the perils encountered during my business trip.  Notice I didn’t even bother with the Weekly Food & Activity Journal for last week.  I couldn’t remember half the stuff that should be recorded in the Food part.  And the Activity part was just about nada, anyway.  I think I rode my horse two days.

I will have more weeks like this and I don’t care.   Really.   The next trip is slated for San Francisco end of March.  San Francisco being one of the food capitals of the world, and my boss apparently enjoying the food part of working very much,  I will just need to gird my loins.   Or bring my own food.  And then explain to the co-workers in San Francisco that I am allergic to San Francisco and all the food that is in it.

But I sort of like this lack of progress.  I like it because there is a reason for it.  I knew what I was doing with the poor food choices and the resulting 1.0 probability of negative  impact on my goal.   So, I like that I can predict the future.    I have been hoping to gain this magical power for quite some time.

This is if the lack of progress is actually real.  A 0.2 pound gain may not be really any gain at all, given my scale has a mind of its own and likes to play tricks on me to drive me mad.  Think Charles Boyer – Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight.   He play tricks on her to make her and everyone else think she was losing her mind, so that he could declare her insane and  get control of her dead aunt’s jewels.

My scale does not have this particular goal I’m pretty sure, but it does add and subtract pounds from my reality for the sheer joy of torturing me into madness.  I know this because sometimes I pick up one of my fatter cats and get on the scale, and it subtracts three pounds from the sans-cat result of five minutes earlier, instead of adding the approximate 10 pounds I know that cat weighs because it weighs just about the same as a flake of hay.  I know this because when I am tossing hay to the horses, sometimes there is a cat hiding in the hay cart and I pick it up without looking and toss it into the hay feeder and don’t realize right away that a cat landed in the feeder instead of the green stuff.    I later realize this because the thud of the cat landing in the feeder sounds different to the horses than the thud of hay and they react by spooking in all directions.

Anyway, let’s say there no overall change this past week.  That’s true enough.  I like this because part of the week I successfully  stayed on my plan and got in a little bit of activity, which I hypothesize (since no one has ever thought of this before) counteracted the effects of the other part of the week.

So the progress in my lack of progress is that I seem to be getting a clue.  I like that.