Good Enough

I’m really struggling to write this post. I can’t think of anything to say, and I’m getting frustrated and distracted, and it’s probably at least in part because I set my expectations too high this week. I wanted to come up with something more to write about than just a quick update or picture, but there’s also a lot of other stuff going on in my life right now, and that inspiring idea just didn’t show up.

It’s so easy to feel like I should just throw my hands up and not post anything if I have nothing cool to share, but that’s not a healthy approach to meeting goals. I said I’d post every Friday, and I do. Ground-breaking content is not specified, although it’d definitely be neat if I could scrounge some up more often.

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Pussy willow branch in front of a wooded area and blue sky with fluffy clouds

February Life Update

My birthday is coming up at the end of the month, so that’s exciting. I’ll be thirty one! I suspect it’ll feel very much like being thirty.

I finally got a treadmill last week, and I’m actually surprised by how much I love it. I really like walking, and I already spend a truly excessive amount of time listening to audiobooks and watching youtube videos about weird stuff, so now those activities can be combined. This makes me feel much less useless and floppy.

I’ve been iron deficient for quite a while, and I found out that the supplementation I’ve been doing hasn’t actually been working all that well, so that’s fun. Having shitty blood really saps energy and focus, and the things required to make me absorb iron better are all also things that throw my potentially very painful stomach issues into overdrive. It’s a wee bit frustrating.

On the bright side, though, I did some vital houseplant maintenance and drew some tropical fish.

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A moorish idol (top) and banggai cardinalfish (bottom) that I got to see at the Seattle aquarium recently, drawn in black pen and colored pencils. Sorry about the lighting on this pic. It’s always hard to find enough light to show the colors without washing out the black a bit.
One of my African violets was looking pretty sad, so I trimmed and repotted it.

 

Messing Around with Colors

I have no idea where I’m going with this one. I usually aim for detail and accuracy, but right now I’m really just playing with colors and shading. Maybe I should just mess around creatively more often. It’s pretty fun not to have any particular expectations going in. I’m not even sure if it’s finished yet.

A pen and ink drawing of a narcissus flower
The same drawing, but filled in with colored pencils. Things got a little wild around the edges.

Keeping the Balance

The schedule I’ve been using for a few months is still working well for me, overall. It’s gone through some adjustments, and I’ve had some pretty rough days where things just fell apart, but it’s good to be in a place where those unproductive days don’t snowball into whole weeks of frustration and self-recrimination.

The dogs and the bunny have even gotten on board. They each get a quick training session every morning before I sit down to work. Their increased biddability does not hurt my focus, even though it probably is just an act they’re keeping up while they plot my doom. I’ve also been managing to regularly fit in yard work like raking, weeding, and planting beautiful flower bulbs for the squirrels to dig up and throw around like tiny beach balls. I’ve read/listened my way through more than a few books already this year, and I’ve even been doing a little bit of freelance writing.

There’s still always that impulse to think everything is going well, so I might as well add, like, ten or fifteen new things to my list this week. I remind myself that I can only manage a little bit more at a time, but then it all seems equally important, so I tell myself that a lot more will just have to be fine. (Spoiler: it wasn’t. It never is.)¬†

I’ve never managed to run at my full capacity without immediately going over the red line and into rapid burnout levels of stress. Part of the problem is that it’s genuinely challenging for me to tell the difference between the two sides of that line, having had so little experience with balancing near it for any length of time. Consistent effort of any kind is tiring in a different way from a sprint or a last minute scramble before a looming deadline, and gauging its effects probably takes practice.

So, I’m practicing.

A yellow flower drooping out over a mossy curb

Winter Blooms

This winter in Seattle can’t seem to make up its mind. No snow quite yet, but plenty of drizzle. They’ve been predicting it for a few days, though, so maybe we’ll have gotten some noticeable flakes by the time this posts. That’d be fun.

With the colder weather rolling in, I’m super happy to have the third season of Anne with an E to watch, because it definitely picked up in the second season. Not that I didn’t like the first season, but I really love the diversity of characters they introduced as they went along. It feels like they’ve very much kept the spirit of the books and just broadened the scope of it.

And, in keeping with that spirit, here are some very romantical winter flowers that I discovered in the arboretum. Turns out they have a whole garden devoted to things that bloom in the colder months, and it is gorgeous. It smells amazing, too.

Daphne flowers. I thought they were a type of jasmine at first, because the scent was so sweet and strong, but they’re a whole different plant that I now really want for my own garden.

Daphne flowers

Hellebore

Pink camellias, I’m pretty sure

More pink camellias

Yellow witch hazel flowers. They smelled divine.

Yellow witch hazel with lots of frilly lichen

More yellow witch hazel and a path through the bushes

Orange witch hazel flowers

Some sort of interesting bulbous flower bud on bare branches. Possibly an edgeworthia, but I’m not sure.

A still pond full of algae and floating plants

A pair of mallard ducks in a different pond

Some new buds forming on a mossy branch in front of ferns

Last Nature Walk of 2019

My sister and I managed to fit in a nice little hike at Foothills Park before she had to catch her flight. It’s possible that I’ll get a little more hiking done before the end of the year, but this was definitely a very nice walk to cap off the decade with. We met a surprising number of cute critters, and even saw a bobcat, although he was too far away to photograph.

Arboreal salamander. These guys have quite a set of jaws on them for salamanders, although I’ve never personally been bitten by one. They’re usually pretty chill, in my experience.

California slender salamander

California slender salamander

Little white mushrooms in grass

A baby california slender salamander in their classic defensive/resting pose

California newt hanging out on a log

Feather millipede refusing to pose for the camera

Camel cricket

Oak branches against a blue sky

Trees being majestic and stuff

California Visit

I visited my family the week before last and got to hang out with my cousin and her beautiful baby for the second time since he was born. They live in England, so she’s a major badass for traveling with him to see all of us, (although in my biased opinion he’s also an uncommonly well-behaved baby.)

I’ve been working on my general aversion to flight so I can visit more often, even though I still love the drive. Driving involves four days of travel total, which does mean less overall family time. Flying makes me nauseated and stressed, but it gets me there in time for a lot more tea with my grandma, shit-talking with my siblings, and cuddles with the baby when he’s there.

The November Pokemon Go community day fell during my trip, so I also dragged my dad and my sister around downtown Mountain View with me to catch shiny pink monkeys. It was a nice chance to get some extra walking in and take some pictures. The Castro Street area is quite pretty.

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My dad and sister, who were kind enough to be seen in public playing Pokemon with me.

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White rhododendrons (I think?) that are planted all around Pioneer Park

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Blue flowers of some sort that looked really nice against that clear California sky

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Succulent flowers are pretty wild

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Sweet peas and lavender

Pretty Leaves and Fuzzy Caterpillars

I’m visiting my family in the Bay Area this weekend, but here are some pictures of the arboretum and the cute caterpillars I met there a few weeks ago.

Red maple leaves and a nice clear sky

Pink flower of some sort

Cool sunshine over a structure at the arboretum

Variegated leaves on a pretty plant at the arboretum

Adorable fuzzy caterpillar!

I had to move a few of these guys off the path. Don’t touch these fuzzy guys with bare fingers unless you know they’re friendly. Some have stinging hairs.

Light purple aster (I think) flowers

Bananas for Breakfast

I signed myself up for NaNoWriMo (National novel writing month) this year. It’s probably the first time I’ve actually been in a position, mental and physical health-wise, to give it a more than half-hearted try. I’m not trying to write an entirely new novel this time, but I figured it would be a good time to pull together my new outline for Somnolence and do that full reworking of it that I’ve been planning. It gives me a start and end date, plus a little bit of outside support and encouragement. I’m on track so far, which is cool.

I’ve also been experimenting with different ways to make my days more consistent. So far the weirdest but most effective thing has just been eating the exact same breakfast every day. For the past few weeks it’s been cottage cheese with a whole cut up banana and a drizzle of raspberry syrup. It’s surprisingly delicious, filling, and it gives me a decent amount of energy. The other most effective thing has been making sure that the the kitchen is always useable and cleared up for the morning, even if that means I wind up doing dishes right before bed.

This means that I don’t have to think at all when I get up. I just roll out of bed, turn on the kettle for tea, make the bed, make the tea, give the rabbit his morning salad and let him out of his pen, thaw the dog food, cut up my banana, give the rabbit the end piece of the banana so he won’t try to hop onto the table to steal it, then actually put together and eat my breakfast and drink the tea. Oh, and somewhere in there I usually shower and get dressed, too. It’s possible that part of the reason I need consistency so badly is because I have very spoiled animals, but it definitely helps to cut down on general friction in my mornings. It also cuts down completely on those super un-fun days I used to have occasionally where I would totally fail to eat any breakfast because the kitchen was a mess and/or nothing sounded edible to me, which meant I didn’t take my meds, which meant I couldn’t sort out how to fix the breakfast problem, which usually led to an eventual meltdown of sadness and starvation, and nobody wants that.

I think the next step might be to add a short after-breakfast walk for me and the dogs. Frodo seems interested in the concept, too, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t stand for a bunny leash. I’ve been trying and failing recently to keep up with my longer walks, but a quick daily walk¬† before work would probably have more of an effect on my everyday energy levels anyway, and even a short bout of exercise is supposed to help with concentration. We’ll see how that goes.

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Pretty succulents growing out of a cement wall, because plants are hardcore.