21 Days

I have done yoga 21 days in a row, which is definitely a personal record. (I usually give up on these things after a week.)

I’m happy to report that 3 weeks in I’ve lost 20 pounds, look 10 years younger and…none of that actually happened.

But I am more flexible and my balance is improving and my core is definitely stronger. I actually did this morning’s short but brutal core work with only muttering fuck a few times, instead of screaming at YouTube. I did have to surrender on the side planks. I can get into a side plank with sufficient time, but Adriene was moving FAST today. I modified that into a side-ish plank with a kickstand, and am not at all disappointed in myself. I couldn’t have managed that three weeks ago.

There was a lot of slow, low bicycle kind of leg work, with shoulders raised and breathing, and I did not struggle with it! I have no core, just a liquid center, and am seeing improvement in my core strength at 63.

I needed this, and I now feel like a half hour of yoga in the morning is a manageable thing and a must do thing. I don’t know why 30 minutes feels like something I can do, while a 45-50 minute program is “Nope, I don’t have time.” But 30 minutes daily is better than an hour now and then, and way better than a 90 minute fancy class every other week. Until your schedule changes and you can’t get to that class anymore. And this is FREE. I really have no excuses left. This just has to be part of the morning.

I don’t have the energy to write about politics. The GOP actually tried to do a coup and install a dictator. We will all find out exactly what kind of pressure was used to make career Republican politicians turn on their country, and I think we’ll find out in the next few months. We have been living in Interesting Times for the last 5 years, but I think it’s about to get kicked into overdrive.

Anybody both-sides-ing at me EVER AGAIN is gonna regret it. My upper body strength is already much stronger, and I’m feeling motivated to swing a broadsword.

Recycling Gingerbread Houses.

So that’s what happens to the giant gingerbread displays after the holidays.

I’d always wondered about how they manage these creations, and what happens afterward. That’s pretty cool.

The giant house at the Grand Floridian is the biggest, but not the only, amazing gingerbread display at the resorts. There’s a gingerbread carousel, and I believe the Contemporary resort has something, so that’s a lot of sweet stuff that gets recycled and composted and fed to bees.

Now I understand why that little bee was so fearless about demanding frosting. If they do this after every festival display, those bees are tiny frosting addicts!

In my weird, Gothic horror upbringing I was raised to fear bees and bats. I was actually told the ridiculous old wives’ tale about bats getting tangled in your hair, when I was maybe 3 or 4 years old. I was an adult college student in an environmental biology class before I met and fell in love with the cutest little bat. It had flown into the gym and was rescued, and our professor took the opportunity to give us a close up look at a bat. It was in a tiny creature carrier, it looked scared to death, and it was just so adorable and velvety and looked like a tiny stuffed toy. They rehydrated it and released it, it had had a really bad day.

And that’s how I finally got over my bat phobia. They are precious and excellent neighbors, and now when I hear them at night I cheer them on: “Eat those mosquitoes, little buddies!”

Ditto with bees. I want to go back and apologize to every bee I was ever mean to, let alone the ones I might have killed. I will now happily share my cupcake leftovers.

Do I forgive my parents for inflicting these and so many other baseless fears on me as a child? They were the products of their environment, they didn’t know any better, but I wish they’d made some sort of effort to not share every old wives’ tale they were raised on with me. We didn’t live in the backwoods, they were both educated and read books, but looking back on my childhood I realize how even for my era, it was weird. I had to do a lot of educating myself.

Bats and bees are our adorable little friends.

Wasps and hornets are still worthless bastards though.

And so, January.

Both my daughter and granddaughter have had confirmed COVID exposures this week. The Dancer is out of dance for a week and needs a negative test to return, because the dance studio has more sense than the governor.

My daughter is vaxxed and boosted, and the Dancer has had both her shots, and they have no symptoms, just exposure. My daughter works in the Florida school system and my granddaughter attends a public school, so unless one of them is symptomatic they’ll be back in school next week, as Our Good Lord DeShithead, the Self-Anointed Second Coming of Trump (Eeew) has decreed. Masks are optional, though of course they both wear them because they’re not fucking idiots.

I was pleased to see that people were mostly masking up in Publix again. It had fallen to below 50%, but today we were back above 75% when I was there. But I overheard bits of a disturbing conversation that involved the words “mucus” “doctor” and “COVID” from a large and abnormally red faced man who was of course unmasked.

We are all going to fucking get this, aren’t we?

Yoga Day 11.

I haven’t missed a day, even though this morning I had to drag my ass to the mat. I’m glad I did, it was a strength practice, and I realized I should spend my standing breaks during work in tree pose. (That’s the one where you stand on one foot and put the sole of the other foot somewhere on your standing leg – the flexible can put it up around their crotch, but even putting it on your calf counts.)

Tree pose looks easy, but for me it definitely isn’t. I’m very wobbly when standing on one foot. My balance has never been quite the same since the brain thang. This isn’t an issue when I’m walking on two feet, that’s back to normal, but anything on one foot and I look like I’m failing a roadside sobriety test. I’m wobbly on ladders, even two steps up. I’m thinking of just giving The Dancer my Trek Pure Lowstep (mine is metallic pink) bike because though I can still balance and ride, I don’t feel confident. But I’ll hold onto it for awhile and see where I am in a month or two.

So I’ve decided that whenever I take a break from my desk I’ll spend a minute in tree pose. Building strength and balance is my goal. 11 days into this 30 day program and I’m definitely seeing and feeling improvement.

Work is insane, but I do have people on my side. My new manager is concerned about my overload and we have a plan to shift some of it to another contractor, whom I’ve known for years and has been a contractor as long as I have.

And I still might win the lottery, and then they can all wish I’d been an employee who might have had an incentive to stick around. I keep getting paid, I’ll keep showing up. As soon as I have an alternative, I’m out.

Shifting to Politics:

And, how bout that GOP, amirite? Jesus, they are criminal beyond even my deeply cynical imaginings! So, we now have evidence that multiple states sent forged documents with Trump electors! And the fake elector documents were all like, the same form, so they didn’t cook this up on their own! This was not just a few yahoos cooking up a scheme, this was a coordinated coup attempt.

It’s all one big coordinated thing, a coup on multiple fronts, and the Electoral College is our nation’s weak spot because it’s a vestigial organ written into the Constitution as a way to get anything done with the slave owning colonies. Now it’s infected, and our government might die of sepsis.

Turnout in 2020 was so huge it overcame the EC Achilles Heel, so they resorted to Actually Sending in “official” FAKE electors where they thought they might be able to get away with it, because if they succeeded, it wouldn’t matter. Honestly, this plot twist was beyond my imagination. It’s like Scooby Doo Villains Do a Coup.

I’m not worried about the legal repercussions, I’m confident that the hammers will fall. The AG runs a tight ship, and I really wish people would stop whining about not SEEING ARRESTS NOW!! This is the biggest fucking crisis we’ve ever experienced, a coup from without and within, and so sorry you’re not getting daily clues on Twitter.

What we can do, and what is working in local elections already, is to educate voters, register voters, and create a culture that votes for every damn local election from dogcatcher to water management district, and definitely school boards. There have been positive signs in the last few days of Democratic victories in runoffs.

Engagement matters. Don’t listen to anybody claiming all is lost, OMG, why hasn’t Trump been arrested already? Just keep swimming (and by that I mean, either contributing money or time.) Social media means jack shit.

Yoga Day 7 Done.

And can I both humble brag and mock Facebook groups just a bit? Of course I can, this is my blog.

So, when the Move program started I joined an unofficial FB group about it, because why not? Keep in mind that I’m 63, and most of the members of that group (not all, there are a few other Olds) are in their 40s, 30s, and younger.

Everybody starts with enthusiasm and commitment. By Day 7, the bitching and excusing had begun. Some excuses are totally legit of course, I’ve had those myself. I can do 30 minutes of morning yoga if I plan carefully, but 45-60 minutes just can’t happen. It was the other complaints that got me, as an old lady.

Day 6 was freaking hard, y’all, lots of core work, and the complaints were like “It didn’t feel like yoga.” I’m not sure what that meant, but yeah, that’s yoga too, and you know it. It was about 20 minutes of core strengthening poses, and if this old lady without a core could do it (awkwardly and with laughing and cursing) honestly child, just STFU. If you don’t want to do it, just don’t. There’s no reason to make an online complaint that it “disappointed” you.

When did Facebook become Karen’s Complaint Department on every fucking topic? (Don’t even get me started on most of the Disney boards. Did you know Disney Is Expensive? Apparently this is news.)

Meanwhile, Twitter is just an endless Whoring for Followers. I’ve had a Twitter account for a long time (@bossylittledogs). I am not asking you to follow me, because I’m very boring. I don’t tweet much, I mostly follow political figures, writers, and since COVID, doctors who know their shit.

I do not understand the purpose of accounts that just endlessly post stupid questions: “Are you vaxxed and wearing a mask? I want to follow you.” (Spoiler: they don’t actually want to follow you.) “Raise your hand if” Nope, I will not. And no actual journalist will tweet “BREAKING:” with news that broke 12 hours ago. Jesus people, just stop doing that stupid shit!

These aren’t obvious bot accounts either, some of them are blue checks (Twitter verified). I haven’t figured out the scam there, but I’m assuming there’s money to be made for having a shitload of Twitter followers, and once again, I’m doing it all wrong.

I’m a very disappointing Twitter account, because I have an actual day job and mostly read the tweets of official accounts and only interact with other small accounts like mine. And mine is still really, really small, like this blog level small.

And I’m not trolling for Twitter followers here, God knows. I’m a lousy tweeter. I’m just baffled by the point of begging for followers.

But I’ve done 7 days of yoga that made much younger women bitch and whine on FB, so I’m feeling pretty damn good this Saturday evening.

Day 4 of Yoga, Day 2 of the New Work Year.

I woke up this morning before the 5:30 alarm. When I got out of bed, my left knee (the same side as my bad ankle) was very stiff. Not very painful, just not willing to fully straighten. I hobbled to get Gidget’s leash and told her to take it easy on Mommy going down the stairs. We survived Going Down the Stairs for the Morning Pee without too much trouble. (Thank God she’s not a big dog and doesn’t pull.) It’s just mildly painful, the joint itself just stiffens up and doesn’t want to flex normally and needs time to wake up. (And my bum ankle has been feeling better after just 4 days of getting back on the mat, so overall, everything is getting better.)

20 minutes and a jumbo mug of coffee later and my knee was back to normal, so I did Move Day 4.

My body does make alarming noises, which is also why a home practice is right for me. The cracking and popping noises are sometimes alarming. My knees are loud, there are these cracking sounds as tendons tight from endless desk work unclench and rearrange themselves. It’s entirely painless. If you heard my knees popping in chair pose this morning you’d swear I was doing horrible damage, but afterward my knees feel so much better. Yoga really is wonderful for old joints.

And I feel my core again! I joke that I don’t have a core, I have a liquid center from decades of desk work. I’m not sore, I just have that pleasant feeling of neglected muscles waking up. It’s very motivating to continue a daily practice.

I am wildly out of shape and my transitions between poses are godawful, but I got it done. Once upon a time, like a whole year ago, I could press up from cobra into a plank without struggling. That shit ain’t happening right now. The extra 10 lbs on top of the 15 I’ve been talking about losing and not doing yoga for many months – yeah, my transitions are not pretty. I’ve lost so much strength and flexibility just in 2021, it’s a wake-up call about the importance of exercise.

I have concluded that yoga and bullet journaling and basically anything shared on social media gets competitive and shaming – “I am not artistic enough to do a bullet journal” (bullshit, it’s an organizational tool, watercolors and fancy spreads are totally optional). “I can’t do yoga the way Adriene does it!” She’s the teacher, you don’t have to be as good as she is, and she repeats this constantly in the videos.

My lunge from a 3-legged downward dog really ain’t pretty. I don’t lunge gracefully (see aforementioned knees) but eventually I get there after a lot of adjustments. I’m fine with this.

It wasn’t pretty but it felt good. “Day 4 is in the books.” And I’m feeling really good about sticking with this for the entire program.

Work. Oh, my. Two days into the year and I just want to buy lottery tickets and pray for the chance to retire. I’m too old for this shit.

2022

As someone on Twitter said, “I didn’t know 2020 was going to be a trilogy.”

Florida had more than 75k new COVID cases on Friday. Yes, you read that right; SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND. In one day. And that’s just the officially recorded count; what’s the actual number? 10x more? 100x? We really don’t know. My county sent out a text notice that test kits were available and five minutes later sent another text saying never mind, they’re all gone. We have no functional state plan – Florida’s official position is to pretend nothing is happening.

And while I was writing this, my elderly neighbor called me to let me know that she and her husband both tested positive. He’s 80, she’s I think 78 or 79, both have a number of health problems. I THINK they’re vaccinated, but they’re Republicans so who knows?

So, 2022 is off to a rousing start!

Let’s talk about coping skills. I realized in the last couple of months that I seriously need to fix myself. I’ve gained 10 lbs in the last year, a combination of that badly sprained ankle that made it really hard to walk for exercise for many weeks, followed by absolutely brutal weather for months that made outdoor exercise impossible, plus working at home and stress eating (and of course, bears).

I’ve also been drinking waay too much wine, which is probably the main reason for another 10 lbs on top of the 15 I keep saying I’m going to lose. I’m tired and cranky and have fallen into a bad habit of sitting at my desk all day then shifting my ever-increasing ass to the couch to spend the evening with wine and mindless TV. That needs to change. I will be going back to the office eventually, and I am not exaggerating when I say that nothing in my closet fits right now.

I’ve been working on changing my evil ways before the traditional day of fresh starts. I’ve been eating better and meditating and going to bed earlier, etc., but now that the holiday temptations are gone, along with the prosecco, it’s time to really focus on changing my ways.

Every year the Queen of YouTube yoga does a “30 Day Journey” series to kick off the year, and every year I start with good intentions, do a few days, then she schedules a session that is over 45 minutes long on a weekday and I don’t have time to do it so I skip it, then I skip another…and you know the rest.

I was happy to see that this year’s series doesn’t have any sessions longer than about half an hour, and I can do half an hour. God knows I spend more than that each day just sitting on my ass staring at a screen.

I did Day One today (Jan 1 is an intro video) and OMG, I struggled, and it wasn’t even anything that challenging! I am glad I was doing it in the privacy of my living room because it definitely was NOT pretty. It also proved how much I need to do this program.

I am seriously out of shape. I now have a permanently bum ankle. It doesn’t bother me 90% of the time, but when I walk long distances (or do yoga) I am reminded that it really was badly sprained last year. It’s nearly normal, but not quite, and I should have been exercising it more regularly to help it heal. My knees have always been shit, but now I have two bum knees and a touchy ankle, and all my creaky old parts spend way too much time in a chair. That HAS TO CHANGE.

I am committed to daily yoga, a minimum daily 30 minute walk, and watching what I eat (and drink), because 2021 was the year that smacked me upside the head and made me face that I ain’t getting any younger. I want to be in great shape for a life beyond spreadsheets and meetings, one of these days.

Do Not Attempt to Exit 2021 until the Ride Comes to a Complete Stop.

In perky blogger world, I should be writing cheery and targeted posts about “How I’m going to bullet journal in 2022!”

Spoiler: Same way I always do, but I did indulge in a truly gorgeous notebook from Notebook Therapy. I mean, c’mon, they had me at their company name, and then the notebook itself? Absolutely stunning, the quality is excellent, and I got it on sale.

And because I am really, really bad at monetizing this blogging stuff, I am not getting compensated for sharing the link to their site. But this will be the year of using the GOOD stationery. We have earned it.

Anyway, I’m totally in a funk at the moment. Remember when 2020 was ending, and we were all, “Thank GOD that bitch of a year is leaving!” and then within the first week of 2021 January 6th happened, and COVID never went away because we have a lot of shitty humans among us, and the sequel got much darker.

I have not been writing about politics because honestly, I don’t have the energy for it. It’s not that I have stopped paying attention or given up. I’m immersed in it as always. I just don’t have the mental bandwidth to write about it here.

And now 2022 is almost here and we are doing yet another round of this COVID shit, and I am truly hitting burnout.

I’ve been working this week, though hardly anybody else at The Place Where I Work That Does Not Pay Me was working. My inbox went from 50+ emails a day to THREE, and next Tuesday all the people who have been “relaxing and enjoying the holidays,” on their paid leave will be back and frantic to catch up on all the shit they shelved for two or three weeks.

I’m going to be 64 in June. That still seems surreal to me, because in my head I’m still somewhere in my 40s. I’m tech-savvy, politically active, wise in the ways of social media, I’m truly not as mentally old as the calendar says, but some asshole pasted pictures of my mother on every mirror.

I saw someone around my age on Twitter say in his head he’s really Gen-X, not a Boomer. I have to agree – my life experience has been far from the Boomer stereotype of, “Work at a job for 30-40 years, retire with a pension around 65, get really into cruises and spoiling the grandkids.” My dad got to retire. I just want a fun, lower stress job for my old age.

But I also know that my body is not 40ish, and I need to take better care of it. I have post-desk-job goals, because I’ll never be able to afford to retire, and I need to be in shape to achieve them. I’m accepting that I’ll always have to work at something, somewhere, so goddammit I want to make it something FUN, once I can get Social Security and Medicare to backstop the loss of income and insurance.

So I do have fitness goals, because as GAWD is mah WITNUSS, my next job will not involve desks and spreadsheets and Teams meetings and deadlines that move without notice, because YES, we did have two weeks post holiday to get a thing done (when everybody’s back to work again) but now it’s going to start a week EARLIER? What fucking genius did that without asking? I only found out about it after seeing it on somebody else’s spreadsheet. That sort of thing used to make me frantic, like, “How can I MAKE THIS HAPPEN?” Now I just shrug. There are a lot of moving parts and I’m only one of them. If it happens, it happens. (I’ve been meditating daily. It does help.)

So, I do have plans for 2022. I need to focus on the future to stay sane, because the present is just freaking Groundhog Day in Crazytown.

So much for a holiday break.

It’s an annual tradition at the Place Where I Work That Does Not Pay Me: the two weeks around Christmas and the New Year are dead quiet. Employees who get tons of time off need to burn days, and it’s not unusual for people to announce around 12/15 that they’ll be out until 1/4. We contractors soldier on, and it’s usually a fairly quiet two weeks for catching up and slowing down, even if we don’t actually get to take off.

Not this year, baby. Today I was in 6 hours of meetings and 8+ new projects I have to review and deal with were unexpectedly shot into my in box. My relatively slow calendar is now packed with meetings and follow up stuff. We have a load of stuff launching in January, scheduled by employees who are unavailable for the next two weeks, because that’s how it works. No worries, we will take care of it. More than half the people in the meetings today were contractors.

So, yeah, the usual holiday slowdown isn’t happening this year, and it’s a good thing that Christmas is low-key: daughter and granddaughter for lunch/dinner/whenever, FaceTime with the Asheville crew, that’s about it.

I don’t even get informed about when the place where I work is closed for holidays, unless it’s something OBVIOUS like the 4th of July or something, so I found out yesterday that they are closed for Jan. 3.

We’ve already planned Jan 2 for a Magic Kingdom day, which is when our passes are active again, and we want to stay for fireworks. It has been years since we’ve done MK fireworks.

I promptly added an Animal Kingdom day for Jan 3, because all those damn annoying tourists (who pay Disney’s bills, just kidding about the damn annoying part) will be winging/driving their way homeward.

So, 2022 will be starting without any break from work, but will launch with Disney. Begin as you want to continue, right?

Something Actually Christmas-y

My mother used to make a really labor-intensive cookie at the holidays. They’re called by many names, “angel wings” is one. In our family, they were called “Crischicky,” so I’m guessing that’s the New Jersey Irish version of their name.

That’s not “my mother’s recipe” which I’ll share further down the page. Hers was from a grease stained paperback cookbook published in 1955, it doesn’t have the citrusy touches of the recipe above. Now my daughter wants to try that version, because my granddaughter totally inherited the cookie gene.

My mother grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey, which back in her childhood (she was born in the ’20s) was a kind of melting pot as seen in the movies. She grew up on Irish food, Jewish food, and these damn addictive cookies we called Chris-chicky.

My mother was still cranking them out in the 80s and 90s when my kids were growing up, and my late husband adored them. So she’d double and triple her cookie production, until my father was groaning, because it was like a “fucking cookie sweatshop” before the holidays.

My kids are grown and the cookie boss is long gone, as are my father and husband. I was never inspired to open the fucking cookie sweatshop, until this year, when my daughter and I were probably both drinking and she suggested it. She swears it was my idea.

So, I found the ancient cookie recipe and we embarked on frying dough.

My father was right, it’s a cookie sweatshop. The Dancer took to it like a pro.

We decided that because at 10 years old, 5 ft. tall and about 90 lbs of dancing muscle, she’s exactly the size of her great-grandmother, she was perfectly suited to cutting and shaping these cookies.

How did a nice Irish Jersey Girl end up with a Hungarian cookie as her signature holiday cookie? We will never know.

The Dancer didn’t do the pointy diamond shape, so hers are square bows. The secret is to roll the dough really, really thin (her mom helped a bit with that). But otherwise, DAMN, she hit the texture just right – light as angels’ wings, addictive as heroin. Eastern European beignets? That’s as close as I can describe them.

After a good two hours of frying dough, the kid wants to do this again. God help us all. We smelled like cooking oil and I spent an hour cleaning up oil and flour and confectioners sugar after.

Of course we’ll do it again, maybe in a couple of months.