One of the things I think most quilters do when setting up a new space is to check out all that inspiration on the internet. I mean, a quick search on Pinterest gets you all kinds of cool ideas, and I definitely found some of them for my new space (aka my super cool new table!). And so many of those spaces use the same kinds of pieces, mainly from IKEA – the Kallax units and Alex drawers. 

I bought both of those pieces for the new space, because I can’t understand a world in which so very many quilters are wrong. But I have a small complaint about all of those spaces shown off on the internet, singing the praises of the Alex unit and Kallax – and I have some bigger complaints with Kallax just because of the nature of inserts – why not show us what’s in your drawers?! I see the potential, I know everyone has different quilty needs, but if you’re going to sing the praises of a set of drawers or a shelf with drawer or door inserts, LET ME SEE HOW YOU USE THEM! 

Which brings me to now. Because no one ever seems to share how exactly they use them, what their drawers look like, etc, as I get my room set up, I will! And yes, we will come back after things have settled and maybe I’ve changed things. But no sewing room reveal is complete without baring it all. Including my shameful messes. 

Also as part of this whole “moving to Europe, downsizing, radical life shakeup,” we are adjusting some of how we handle the rest of our lives. Which, let me tell you, is a wild fucking journey when you’ve been together almost a decade and living together for 7 years. The last time we looked for a place, we specifically looked for storage – closet space, built in bookshelves, enough space that we didn’t have to see each other if we didn’t want to (and that last has been magical for our relationship the last few years). Now? We wanted enough rooms to each have our own space, a garage, and the ability to get a puppy. We did want a storage room, but it was less important. 

Closet space? HA. We have a tiny little broom closet and that is the only actual closet that comes with our apartment. Our trip to IKEA after clearing customs had to manage my office/sewing room, and closets. We came out with a coat closet and a small closet for our bedroom, and to manage the fact that we need to eventually also downsize our dressers, we made sure to have drawers in it.  Also, I’m sure everyone is aware of global supply chain issues? Both those closets are doorless for the moment. 

We also need to pick up a cabinet/pantry space for the kitchen, and finish getting the small appliances. Our kettle should arrive Tuesday, but we still need a microwave (pro tip: if you find something you like in MediaMarkt, buy it) and I need to sort out the order for that one. Beyond that, we’re trying to avoid buying TOO much until we know exactly what we have and what we need and where it’s all going. I waffled on bringing the base of my former cutting table, but given that we do need storage space in the kitchen and we haven’t bought something for that spot yet, it’s a good thing I did end up having them packed!

Above, a quick video of my sewing space with the new Kallax and desk installed. So, much more to come in the next few weeks, but big steps are happening and I cannot wait to see how things feel as we get settled!

Almost Home

One of the “super cool” (read: terrible, guilt inducing) features of WordPress is that when you start a post, and then leave it in drafts, it gives you a little timer with how long you’ve left it there. I’m sorry, WordPress, that I didn’t finish the post I started six days ago. I’m not sorry I just deleted it after you wouldn’t let me edit it the way I wanted to. Don’t be a jerk.

I had planned on writing something about how hard it’s been to sew. About how basting stitches and tiny joining stitches were made for three days to the sound of my grandpa’s breathing, about how I sat and stitched and talked to my uncles and my mom and my grandma about life and how wonderful of a man my grandpa was. And about how, since then, it’s felt like a little bit of a chore to sit down and keep stitching. Like every stitch punctuates the fact that he’s gone, the fact that it’s so very final. And the truth is, I’m absolutely not ready to confront those feelings. I struggled to sew in the weeks after my grandma on my dad’s side passed away a few years ago too. She taught me to sew, and every stitch punctuated the fact that she’d never see anything else I made. My grandpa loved getting handmade gifts from me. It’s hard to know that the quilt top I’m stitching will forever be connected to his death, and he’ll never get to curl up under it with me.

One of my very favorite plays is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard, and there’s a quote in it that’s always haunted me. I know, I know, everyone is shocked I’m not over here pulling from Order of the Phoenix right now, but I need a reread.

“No, no, no… you’ve got it all wrong… you can’t act death. The fact of it is nothing to do with seeing it happen —it’s not gasps and blood and falling about—that isn’t what makes it death. It’s just a man failing to reappear, that’s all —now you see him, now you don’t, that the only thing that’s real: here one minute and gone the next and never coming back—an exit, unobtrusive and unannounced, a disappearance gathering weight as it goes on, until, finally, it is heavy with death.”

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead – Tom Stoppard

How do you even cope with the disappearance? With the weight? I don’t know. I know I don’t want to cope with it. I also know that I’ll be picking Rosencrantz & Guildenstern back up as soon as our stuff arrives next week and I unpack it.

Which brings us on to happier things! Our furniture is due to arrive Monday morning! We have one more week in an Airbnb, and then we get to sleep in our bed, with our pillows. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited about the amount of work headed our way.

We rented an apartment last week, and we bought a refrigerator and a washer and a tv. We’ve started taking some of our things over to the house so we don’t have to move them next week, since we’ll need to be over there no later than 8am. We have a list of electric things that we still need to buy – kettle, coffee grinder, blender, vacuum, microwave, cables for dual voltage things- and a list for Ikea, which is on the docket for Wednesday after we have our customs-clearing appointment.

We spent some time Saturday walking through the apartment, trying to figure out where our furniture goes, what we need, etc. And we are definitely ready for it. We have (we think) most of the things we need sorted out. Tomorrow on the list is picking up a tape measure from the hardware store so we can measure some walls before we head to Ikea.

And, of course, there is a new sewing room coming! I’m so very excited to set up the room I’ve been pondering for a while. In our last house, based on the size of the room, I had a normal desk, a shelf for fabric (and some little shelves on top of that) and then I built a cutting table out of three Kallax units and some board. My new room is bigger, but in a different way.

I’m planning a long table with an Alex drawer unit in the center (inspiration credit Zaaberry) along one wall. On one side of the table, my sewing machine. On the other, my cutting mat and laptop(s). It’s a lot easier to move a laptop than it is to move a sewing machine, so I’m also looking at some risers/shelf options to help with this too.

Photo from Zaaberry – Click the image to check out her post on the table!

Behind me, a 5×5 Kallax unit. Six (top center 3×3) of the cubes with shelves, the five along the bottom with drawers/doors (tbd: let’s see what’s in stock!). This setup should give me plenty of space for not just my fabric but also my notions. I also am going to need a rug because our entire apartment is hardwood and I definitely want something cushy between the table and shelves.

Eventually, I’ll also pick up a comfy chair. I want somewhere to curl up with handwork or a book that is my own. Something soft (I’m thinking velvet), either a chaise or a plush chair with an ottoman where I could theoretically also nap and it would be a lovely photo spot for quilt swirls. Ikea is failing me on exactly what I want, so it’ll have to wait. For now, I can curl up on the sofa.

We’ll have a lot of decorating to do – with two HUGE rooms, one of which is going to be the living room and the other the dining room, it’ll be interesting to see how we put everything together. I think the biggest thing right now is we’re missing closets/wardrobes, so that’s part of our Ikea trip this week also – putting together wardrobes. It’s a party!

Grief is a Bitch

I need to start this post off with a couple warnings: TW: death, justice system is trash. Also, because we just moved and changed insurance, I am without a therapist. 1000000% I should be talking to someone right now, but we’re not sure what our mental health coverage is and the first priority was finding a place to live. As a result, this post is a lot of what I’d be telling a therapist, though somewhat sanitized.


My grandparents weren’t perfect people. I mean, who is? But they loved fiercely.

The last couple weeks have been flooded with memories, so forgive me while I wax poetic about them before I talk about what happened.

Two weeks before my first birthday, my mom was activated (National Guard) for Desert Storm. My dad worked, her parents both worked, and Grandma N (dad’s mom) stayed home. So I spent most of my days with her – she was essentially free daycare, especially when I was that little, and it was easy for my dad to drop me off there. It was also easy for my mom to drop by on her lunch to feed me. She and I had an incredibly special relationship – she’s the one who taught me to sew, who taught me to embroider. I’m fairly convinced she haunts my sewing room, given that my sewing machine tends to act up a little when I’m particularly excited about a project.

I never really got to know Grandpa N. He worked graveyard for so many years that even in retirement he slept through the day. I remember being at their house, playing “school” with grandma and wanting to play the piano they had and being told no, because we couldn’t wake him up. What I do remember of him was an incredibly sweet man who loved me so very much. When he died, we were on a camping trip. We left early and flew back to CA, and I remember just sitting at the table, not understanding why we weren’t having a funeral. Apparently he didn’t want one – he was cremated, and his ashes scattered somewhere. It breaks my heart that he doesn’t have a memorial somewhere. He died in their bedroom – she told me that she’d been sleeping on the couch and she felt him tickle her toes and she said “it’s okay, you can go now,” and that was when he died.

His death, in a lot of ways, broke my grandma. She had been a stay at home mom, a housewife, because that was what people did. He had been her connection to the outside world. And suddenly, it was gone. Her oldest son, my uncle B, had died about a month after I was born. We had moved to VA. Her son D was married and living nearby, but still his own life. And her youngest, R, was living with them. B’s daughter, T, was living with her as well with her two kids. And R, T, and the kids became her entire life. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school was hard for me. We were moving from VA to SC, and I had been planning on taking AP European History. We’d been assigned one of the best books for summer reading (A World Lit Only By Fire by William Manchester (not affiliate, support independent bookstores!)), and I was SO excited to tell her about it. After all, this was the woman I’d played “school” with for so many years. She just wanted to talk about how T’s oldest was starting to be able to read and the youngest liked being read to. And it just, I was mad. I felt like she didn’t love me all of a sudden, that I’d been replaced by her great-grandkids. And so, at 14, I decided I wasn’t ever going back.

I know now that she was grieving. Because how horrific to lose your oldest son and then 8 years later lose your husband. She wanted to protect herself – and she could do that by putting everything she had into the people who weren’t leaving her. I tried to stay in touch over the years. I’d call on occasion, she’d call on occasion. Once, in college, she called and told me that she’d been trying to call and my (now) ex had been answering the phone and telling her I wasn’t there. I tried to explain that I’d had my phone, he wasn’t even with me, she must have called the wrong number, but she wasn’t having it. In hindsight, even though all of those things were true, it seems like she probably knew something wasn’t right about that relationship (she was extremely intuitive) and I shouldn’t have completely brushed her off as a crazy old lady.

In 2014, D got a call from R that she was sick, and D told him to call 911. This kicked off a saga of epic proportions – a restraining order against R and T, moving her to hospice because she was diagnosed with leukemia (she held on for a VERY long time despite not being treated), a years long investigation by the police and DA’s offices, and ultimately charges against R and T. They were able to plead out and serve essentially community service, which is completely insane but that’s another story that I won’t tell here. I went out that summer because we were told she had 3-6 months to live, and she barely knew me. She asked for her mom, she talked about a baby on the floor at my feet, and she kept petting the quilt I made her telling me how the cats loved it. None of those things were in the room with us. It was insanely hard to be there, only 24 years old, and this woman I was SO angry at for having brushed me off had no idea who I was. I felt guilty for not having pushed this when I felt something wasn’t right. I still feel guilty. I wasn’t there when she died, and the quilt I made her (the one thing I asked to have returned to me) was donated to Goodwill. And this is why none of that side of the family was invited to our wedding – they are effectively dead to me.

As special as my relationship with Grandma N was, the relationships I had with Grandma and Grandpa R were even more. For them, I was the first grandkid. When my brother was born, to help my parents out early on, they took me to Disneyland for a week. We used to go to Marine World (probably where my love of fish was ACTUALLY started), and there was an incredibly affordable local park called Fairy Tale Town that was also a favorite place of ours. Grandpa worked as a grocery store clerk, and apparently my mom tried to keep me away from chocolate by telling me it was dirty (I hated being dirty). The way she tells it, we were in line, either his or next to him, and she told me it was dirty when I asked what all the candy in the checkout line was, and he grabbed some and was like “nope, we’re done with THAT story now, that baby needs candy.”

We went to church on Sundays, we’d walk around their neighborhood down to the elementary school playground, and I learned to swim in their backyard. Fun fact – they actually were able to afford their house because the guy selling it was terrified of the East Area Rapist (Golden State Killer) and willing to sell it at a loss. Several of the attacks happened less than a mile from their house.

When I got older, we’d bike down by the American River. When I was in middle school, he bought a Harley. A gorgeous Harley with blue horses airbrushed on the gas tank. He took me on my first “date.” Brought me flowers, took me to a movie. It was sweet (though I’m not actually a fan of the concept now), and we definitely went on the bike. He had a biker club at church, and we got to know a lot of those guys too. They were rough around the edges, but ultimately sweet guys trying to turn their lives around and he was doing what he knew how to do for them – leading bible study, praying with them, counseling them.

And then, in 2016 they went to Jerusalem with the church. When I went out in 2017, grandma was telling me and my uncle T that she was worried – he’d get up while they were eating and just wander off. She’d spent the whole week plus trying to keep him where he was supposed to be. He was forgetting things. We encouraged her to take him to the doctor, and we encouraged her to go to the doctor as well because she’d lost a significant amount of weight and we were concerned. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and she was diagnosed with Lymphoma.

Fortunately, she’s since recovered from the cancer. But her mind is going – we know about chemo brain, and when you combine that with long term damage from celiac disease, it’s been rough on her. He continued to decline. My mom spent a few years going back and forth, trying to stay with them to help out. Ultimately, after COVID started and they were so very isolated, my mom and uncle found them an assisted living community with memory care. And he…continued to decline. They got him on the waiting list for memory care, and early this month they had an opening for just him.

We think that’s what broke him. They were married for 60 years, and suddenly he had to be separated from her. On the 7th, I got a call from my mom that he wasn’t responsive and they weren’t expecting him to make it past the 11th. I told her to tell him he had to wait for me, and I flew back on the 9th. And we sat in his hospice room for 3 days. My uncles came back early from vacation, and on Monday, they went home so they could check on the house, etc. My parents had an appointment that afternoon, so I offered to stay with my grandparents. We’d been sitting there for 3 days with no change, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I read to both of them for a couple hours, and then she went upstairs to take a nap. I stayed, of course, and talked to him. And all of a sudden, he stopped breathing. I called my mom (she was in the building at that point) and told her to get in the room. She made it back for him, but barely.

Guys, watching him breathe for 3 days and then being the one he picked to finish off that process with…guys that’s hard. I’d spent two hours telling him I wasn’t going anywhere, that we would take care of grandma, and talking to him just about life stuff – that Michael and I had moved to Germany, that we were looking for an apartment, that we were excited to do all of this traveling – and it was like he realized “it’s okay now.” And that’s an honor in some ways, because I’m glad I could comfort him and convince him that it really would be okay and that we wouldn’t let grandma suffer, but it’s also this traumatic experience. I was very much alone with him when he started those last few breaths. Something in me panicked that I’d be blamed for his death.

Grief is a fucking bitch. I’m mostly numb still, but occasionally it hits that he’s gone and he’s not coming back. And when it does, it’s a punch in the stomach and I can’t catch my breath. Not having a therapist right now is also absolutely brutal. I’m absolutely terrified of letting the feelings out. Because it’s not fair that he’s gone. He can’t be gone. I feel insanely guilty for having stayed away over the last year and a half – I wanted to keep them safe, and flying 6+ hours, being in at least two airports…that didn’t feel safe.

I am, at the very least, so glad that he popped in for my dress shopping. C spoiled me rotten and booked this thing called the Princess Treatment and we had the shop to ourselves, which unintentionally ended up being perfect because of COVID. We were able to skype in L and T, and my grandma. And then he popped into the frame and made everyone cry because he was just so stinking proud and happy and I will never forget that look on his face.

By the time our wedding rolled around, we had to make the awful choice to not fly them out. They just weren’t able to handle it, plus COVID restrictions, and it ended up being one of the hardest decisions I had to make for the wedding. We did livestream it, and we made sure someone was with them to log them into the stream. He’d lost most of his ability to speak by then, but I was told he was so very proud and happy to be able to see it.

Losing him is hard. I spent the next few days trying to keep my grandma’s spirits up, making sure she was going to things at the Home (I dragged her to EVERY event I could the day after) while my mom and uncle handled making the arrangements. She has a great set of friends who have also recently lost their husbands, and I know they’re taking care of her. But I’m still worried about her. She and I are so very alike, and I know how easy it is to just get lost in the feelings.

I guess this is all for now. I have happier updates, but I needed to get all of this out first and this post is long enough. I’ll be back in a few days hopefully with better things to discuss (and hopefully pictures).

Fresh Start

Well gang, it’s been a few years, hasn’t it? Rather than go through the pile of things that have happened since my last post, let’s start with 2019?

I started therapy again in the summer of 2019. M and I were ring shopping, and my mental health started to significantly deteriorate. I was diagnosed with CPTSD due to emotional and psychological abuse from a previous relationship. I found the best therapist (if you’re looking for one in the NOVA area, let me know – she’s great!), and we have done a lot of work since then. M and I got engaged in December 2019 in Vienna, Austria at the St. Stephan’s Cathedral. His plan had been to propose in Munich at the English Gardens, but it was so damn cold and the timing never quite worked. Regardless, it was perfect and it was us.

And then, much like everyone else…our plans were derailed because pandemic. About a week after we signed the contract for our venue, I went home from work and didn’t go back to the office until the beginning of August 2021. Even so, we managed to hold with our plans for March 27, 2021 and get married. Our wedding was SUPER small (only 21 of us!) and almost exclusively outdoors, which was how we got away with it. It was an absolutely perfect day and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Three of my best friends made it – L, G, and C – and G’s daughter N was our flower girl. M had his brother and three of his best friends as his groomsmen, and my uncle T officiated.

Most importantly, NO ONE GOT COVID. Most of the group was at least partially vaccinated – there were five of us that weren’t yet. We did have a minor scare when L got here – she tested positive, but it turned out to be a false positive PCR (from a shallow nasal swab). It made no sense to us that she tested positive, so after that result from a free testing center, we called my doctor and had her rapid tested and PCR tested at their office. After the brain tickle rapid came back negative, we were pretty sure it was a false positive to begin with, and then her brain tickle PCR came back negative, and then mine a couple days later came back negative. And this is why it’s super important to ensure everything you’re using is sterile and you’re not cross contaminating your samples. We ended up only losing a weekend of girl time, but it was the longest weekend I think I’ve ever had.

M and I have obviously not had a honeymoon yet (thanks COVID), but we did something kind of insane, which is why I’m blogging again. After a lot of conversation, he started looking for jobs in March, and he got an offer that we accepted in June. I say we because, even though he’s the one working there…we’ve relocated. I’m writing this at 7AM from Stuttgart, Germany.

If you’ve never had a full service relocation before (particularly a DOD-managed relocation), it is a WILD experience. My parents used their full benefits a few times, but I missed those relocations, so this was my first. On September 22 at about 830 am (they were early!), two lovely ladies rang our doorbell and started packing our house. An hour or so later, three more people showed up. I packed exactly one thing – my Bernina 570QE, and I had to be watched and the box had to be checked before it could be stickered. And then, about 6 hours later, our entire house had been packed and a good chunk of our furniture had been wrapped like presents.

Sewing room..99% packed.

On the 23rd, they came back. They loaded all our stuff into a van in about 4 hours, finished wrapping our furniture like presents, and took it all away. And again, we weren’t allowed to help. As soon as they picked up the couch I practically died of embarrassment. Why is it that as soon as a piece of furniture is moved, your reasonably clean house looks like you’ve never used a broom or vacuum in your LIFE? They picked that thing up and the only thing in my head was “oh god oh god oh no why I swear I cleaned yesterday.” I’m sure delivery will be just as weird as packing/taking was, but at least the floors will be clean?

And with that, we had a few days to have the house and the carpets cleaned and do our walkthrough. M went to Florida for a wedding, and I stayed to avoid both COVID and gluten (lol, the gluten thing didn’t work out very well), so I stayed with G, N, and G for the weekend to relax and get some kind of normalcy back for a short time (and lots of girl time and kid snuggles). I ended up getting glutened at lunch on Monday, but M and her boyfriend were absolutely great about it and we managed to do enough intervention to skip MOST of the symptoms I would have normally had. Couple that with the fact we got the upgrade we had been hoping for on our flight, and frankly, the trip over could have been so much worse. We both got some sleep on the flight (god bless United Polaris), and our crew did a great job of cobbling together something gluten free for me since…due to COVID they’re not accommodating dietary restrictions? All the business class meals were full of gluten, but one of the economy ones happened to be gluten free, so at least I got something for dinner. And I may have gotten a little bit of extra fruit for breakfast (because it was either an egg pastry or french toast) and M let me have his yogurt as well.

And then…we were here. We had a lot to do on Thursday, and Friday M went in for a little bit to finish up paperwork. L came down for Saturday, so we checked out the pumpkin festival (Kürbisausstellung) in Ludwigsburg. It was so great to get to see her again, and my heart is so happy to know that she’s only a few hours away instead of an actual entire ocean away.

L, me, and M with the winning giant pumpkin at something like 1200 kg?!
The theme of the Ausstellung was oceans/ocean plastic, which feels deeply appropriate for me and L given our tendency to shout the scientific names of fish at each other. Here, a shark/Haifisch and the family he ate (we don’t know them).

M has gone in for his first full day today, and I’m in charge of sorting through apartment hunting stuff and figuring out phones and there’s a quick run across the street to the grocery store in my near-ish future. We have a couple apartments to look at on Thursday, so probably most of my day will be spent either reading or working on my La Passacaglia. Now seemed like the right time to start working on a 2000 piece hand sewing project, since who knows when our stuff arrives?

Limbo

After two falls at the end of last month, I took a week off leading up to March 5’s St Pat’s 10k.  My knees hurt, and I honestly had a lot of anxiety about heading back out again.  The week off was much needed, and I finished up a solid five books.

The race itself was slower than I wanted, but I was grateful to have L with me to talk.  She ran the double, and she killed it.  I had some nagging groin pain on my left side.  But I brushed it off, and kept moving.  The week after the race, I kept feeling the nagging pain during my runs on Tuesday and Thursday, and I was nervous going into the Rock and Roll Half on the 11th.

Let me tell you about this race.  I hate this race.  I don’t know why I run this race.  Just before the halfway point is Calvert Hill, and I have not yet beat that hill.  The back half of the race is pretty rolling, and it is a pile of misery.  Every time I finish this race, I swear that I will never run it again.  And then I register and we repeat the cycle.

If H hadn’t been waiting for me at the top of Calvert, I  would have been in trouble.  By mile 2, my groin pain had turned into moving hip/groin/quad pain.  And by the time I hit Calvert, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to actually run up the hill (that score is now Calvert: 3, Me: 0).  By the time I got to H, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish the race, and I definitely walked almost all of the uphills.  I wanted to cry from the pain. Knowing that my teammates were at Cowbell Corner just before mile 12 was probably the only thing that kept me in the race after mile 9.  Seriously, these ladies are the best.  I’ve never had so many cheers for me before.  I came out of the race with a 2:26:08.

The rest of my runs were hard, and they were painful.  To the point that I finally sucked it up and looked for a physical therapist on my insurance’s website.  I ended up at an orthopedist (I still don’t know how that happened), and he did some x-rays and put me on a 10 day course of prednisone in the hopes that it was just inflammation or a muscle strain.  And then he sent me off to PT.  My PT is great – she’s a runner, and she’s pretty involved.  She gave me some exercises to work on strengthening, but she told me to be aware that her initial evaluation suggested that my pain may be caused by a labral tear in my hip.

My follow up with my ortho was yesterday, and based on the fact that there was zero improvement on the prednisone (seriously, all I got out of it was a splitting headache and some seriously screwed up dreams), he’s sending me for an MRI arthrogram to look for that particular tear.  On the plus side, he was very specific about the doctor he wants to perform the test.  On the down side, I can’t get in until April 11.

My PT is allowing me to continue running as long as the pain doesn’t get worse or change – I’m to avoid anything that causes sharp pain, as opposed to the pinching feeling I’ve already got going on, and I’m to take walk breaks if I do start to feel crappy.  So, I’m working hard to keep up my mileage, and then I’ll see what happens when I get my MRI results back.  I’ve been trying not to panic too much about the fact that they’re going to have to stick a needle in my hip, but the needle-phobia has already started setting in.

In the rest of life, I’m off to San Francisco for work on Friday, and then on Tuesday, I get to head up to Sacramento to visit family before I have to come back to real life (and that MRI) on the 11th.  I’m definitely looking forward to seeing my grandparents, who will be just back from Israel, and my uncle, his fiance, and my cousins.  It should be a good almost week with them, and I’m planning on also getting my running in.  I was hoping to see my brother as well, but he’ll be out of the country for work.

I’ve been a book-devouring machine, though I’ve tapered off a little this week with the increased anxiety.  I’ve been trying to start The War that Ended Peace about 6 times, but I can’t seem to get further than chapter 1 before I’m putting myself to sleep.  So, I’ve been blazing through fiction:

Mostly, I’m just really looking forward to a few days off after this meeting.

Catching Up

Some weeks are bad, like the week I managed to sprain my ankle.  Some weeks are really fantastic, like last week.  And some weeks, most weeks really, are somewhere in the middle.  This past week was pretty bad, but not sprained ankle bad.  It started off really well.  We knocked out close to 6 miles on Monday, and I escaped from work early for it.  And that was the last really good run of the week.

On Wednesday, my shorts chafed 0.2 into the run, so we walked 3 miles instead.  On Thursday, I was a block from work when I tripped on the edge of a flower bed and fell, banging up my left knee and actually breaking my water bottle.  No, it didn’t shatter, but the silicone hi-flow valve in the lid actually vanished from it.  I got up and tried to keep going, not realizing anything was wrong, and was halfway across the street before I realized that no, I should not be soaking wet with water from the bottle.

Yesterday’s run was 12.95 miles, and it was a bear.  Super warm, and we actually got lost somewhere in MD.  Whoops.  Two blocks from finishing, I tripped again.  This time, I made the good choice to roll and save my knees.  I scared the bejeezus out of some poor guy walking by – I don’t think he quite understood why I fell forward and then was suddenly on my back, but other than some minor right hip soreness, damaged pride, and sand in my shorts (seriously, DC?), I’m fine.

My mileage is sitting at 74.25 total for Feb as of today, and 119.66 for the year.  21.51 for last week, which put me at 1.51 above my weekly goal.  My deficit is down from 41.85 miles at the end of last week to 40.34 this week.  I will catch up!

I’ve also read another four books since last week!

I read Miss Peregrine several years ago, and since the movie came out not too long ago, I really wanted to reread it before I saw the movie.  The other three, I picked up in Boston at Brookline Booksmith, and I’m actually a little sad that I’m now done with (almost) all of the books I got there.  It might be time for another trip to Carpe Librum this week!  I’ve been trying to decide what to read next.  I haven’t been able to get in to either of the two books I tried to pick up yesterday, so I’m kind of floundering here.

I also have started trying to reorganize my running gear.  You know, because I have quite a bit.  I spent about a week trying to figure out where my black shorts were, only to remember that I actually sold both pairs. Last year.  So, I did two things.  I started with creating an inventory of my Oiselle gear.  All of it – past and present, including stuff that’s been sold. Which I then marked as sold.  The second thing was to go through everything I own, figure out what I wear, what I’m attached to, and what I could donate.  I donated a bit of stuff yesterday, but I have a large pile of race shirts that I don’t wear, but that I’m too sentimental to donate.  I need to come up with something to do with them – something that isn’t a blanket.  For now, I have the clothes I do wear in a drawer, and my pullovers are destined for the closet, either to be folded on a shelf or hung up.

No sewing for me this week.  Perhaps next week!

Another Start

I saw my doctor a few weeks ago.  I managed to get an appointment early Monday morning, and she sent me for x-rays, and gave me some more anti-inflammatories.  It turned out to just be a bad sprain, fortunately nothing is broken.  So, I took it very easy, bought myself a new brace, and finished out January with 45.41 miles, a whole 34.59 miles short of my goal of 80 miles.  But, what’s done is done, and I’m feeling better.

I started running with L on the weekends, one of my Oiselle teammates, and it’s been super beneficial since we started on Jan 28.  The only downside has been that she has a coach and is following a training plan, and I’ve been a lazy putz for the past few weeks, so I’ve managed to cause a shin splint flare by not doing my mileage during the week and then trying to run long with her on the weekends.  I’m getting there though.  Last weekend’s run turned out to be 13.23 miles on Saturday, followed by Love the Run You’re With 5K on Sunday.  Yesterday’s run was only 8 miles, but I felt strong.  And, on Thursday, I did 4.79, and I finished out that last 0.8 with a sub-9:00 pace.

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Mad props to Coach Steve for grabbing this picture at last weekend’s Love the Run You’re With!  M and I ran it for the fifth time this year, and this was my first one getting to wear my singlet.  It wasn’t a fantastic race by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a strong one.  My legs were exhausted going in, but I resisted any urges to walk, even up the massive hill that is Army Navy Dr.  This singlet has magic powers.  And Coach Steve saw me as I was coming into the finish line and jumped out to get a picture, so I took the opportunity to get my Head Up, Wings Out picture!

As of today, I’m up to 52.74 miles for February, and a total of 98.15 miles for the year.  I’m still 41.85 miles behind schedule, but I know I can make it up.

I also started keeping a bullet journal last week.  It was something I’ve been toying with for a long time, and I finally jumped on it.  I’ve been using it to track how I feel on workouts, work projects completed (because reviews are hard unless  you have that list), books that I’ve read, and races.  I’m sure I’ll add more to it later, but that’s where it is right now.

So, books read this year.  I’ve finished 7 books so far.

 

Black Flags was hard to get through, but I finally tackled it.  It’s fairly dense, and mostly history, so it was hard for me to stay focused through most of the political and behind the scenes dramas that happened.

I Wrote This For You is a different kind of book.  It’s a format I’ve never read before, almost like a cross between poetry and a journal, and it did exactly what the author intended.  It tugged at my heart and reminded me that, somewhere out there, someone I knew maybe in this life, maybe before, knows my soul.

The Hopefuls pissed me off a bit.  I get that not everyone loves DC, and I get that political staff are a pain in the ass, but the whole attitude about DC really gnawed at me.

The Soul of an Octopus was brilliantly written.  Sy Montgomery captured so brilliantly the feelings that I get standing in an aquarium, and also being in the ocean.  This world is beautiful.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden is evocative.  Personally, I struggle with anxiety, and Deborah’s madness is easy to step into.  If you read only one book on mental illness, I recommend this one.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that as “sane” people, the mentally ill are nothing like us.  But, I think most of us can relate to the world that Deborah has built for herself.  It’s terrifying to think that the line between the well and the sick can be so thin, that one only need to push back one’s own curtain a little further to fall into illness.  “There is nothing you can do to me that my own craziness doesn’t do to me smarter and faster and better.”

I’m going to skip writing about the last two for now.  Huxley was not what I expected in this novel, especially after having loved Brave New World.  And Thicker than Water was a little too close to home in so many ways.

And, finally, sewing.  I’ve been working on bibs for K the past few weeks.  I’m hoping to pick back up one of the quilts that’s on my table once those are done.

12 Mile Defecit

I’m not going to lie.  I was really ready to kick some ass last week.  I swapped out my shoes at work when I started getting shin splints, and I was ready to roll for my 12 miles yesterday.  And then, the unthinkable happened.

I twisted my ankle on our run on Thursday.  It’s not a normally a big deal.  It happens at least once a day.  It just slips out while I’m walking and then I catch hold back of it, and keep going.  It wasn’t a big deal on Thursday, I finished out the 6 miles we were running, and my only pain was the shin splints I’d been fighting since Tuesday.  I had some pain on Friday, but figured it was just residual whatever.  And yesterday, I got ready to go, took 2 tylenol and a naproxen, ate my breakfast, and my fibula was still on fire.  I called Dr. Mom, who told me not to run, so I packed up the laundry and headed over.  She took one look at it, said it was incredibly swollen (I didn’t think so), and insisted I needed to make a doctor’s appointment.  I woke up this morning, did the pressure test to see if I had any pain, and was pleased.  And then I got up and walked to the kitchen and had to eat my words.

So, I’m benched for now.  I was hoping to see my doctor tomorrow, but her office is closed for the holiday.  Hopefully, she’ll recommend x-rays, etc via email and I can see her Thursday or Friday with test results and I can get back to running.

I’m going to cut off the updates on everything else today.  With any luck, I’ll be back later this week with good news and lots of updates on everything else!

Solid Start

It’s the end of week one, or the beginning of week two, depending on how you look at it, and I’m off to a solid start this week.  Let’s break it down:

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  1. Running – I needed to run about 19 miles this week.  I ran 3.1 on Tuesday, 6.78 on Thursday, and 8.17 yesterday for a grand total of 18.05.  So, I’m short about a mile, but we’ll make it up next week.  18.05 down, 990.45 to go!
  2. Reading – I read the paper this morning, but that doesn’t count.  Work has been a little crazy this week, so once I’m done writing, I’m hoping to finish Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS.
  3. Sewing – My grandmother asked for a toaster cover because she is gluten free, and people keep putting regular bread in her toaster.  So, I made a paper-pieced Gluten Free toaster cover for her.  I didn’t take a picture before I sent it home with her on Monday, but I’m hoping they’ll send me one of it on the toaster.  M and I don’t have a toaster, which is why there didn’t end up being a photo.
  4. General Fitness – Since we ran on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, we did abs and chest or arm workouts on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Moving forward, these will happen on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday.  We may end up with a lighter workout on Monday, but we’ll see.

In addition, I did some pretty awesome cooking this week.  Frittata muffins for breakfast at work, and then blueberry lemon scones for post long run yesterday.  We’re finally starting to get cleaned up from Christmas too.  We’re taking the tree down today, and the rest of the decorations started to come down yesterday.  Baby steps, and all.  First week down, 51 to go!

New Year, New Things

Oh, 2016, you were a pile of crap.  I had health problems, a pile of work drama, election drama…and, as a result, I didn’t run as much as I wanted, I didn’t sew as much as I wanted, and I slept a hell of a lot more than I probably should have.  But, it’s 2017, so we’re turning a page and writing 2016 off as a loss.

I did have a couple lovely things happen in 2016, so I should probably acknowledge those.  For starters, I was just promoted at work.  I’m so, so thrilled to be focusing on policy moving forward.  I moved my office in the week between Christmas and New Years, and it’s been absolutely fantastic so far.  The other thing I should acknowledge is that I got to spend a wonderful Christmas with so much family.  My grandparents flew out from CA, and my brother got a holiday pass with his girlfriend, so everyone was here.  I haven’t spent Christmas with my grandparents in about 5 years, and I haven’t seen my brother since he left for boot camp in November 2015.

One more thing, M and I celebrated 5 years together in December.  It seems strange that it’s already been 5 years, and yet, also only 5 years.  It feels like it’s been a lifetime in some respects, and also like it’s been only a heartbeat.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.

Enough looking backwards though.  It’s the first day of 2017, and a perfect time to look forward.  I have three facets I’m making goals for:

  1. Running.  M and I signed up this year to run 2017 miles between the two of us.  I need to average 20 miles per week to hit that.  I also am hoping to hit some big PRs this year – sub 1:30 10 miler, and a sub 2:00 half marathon.  I may also run another marathon this year, in November or December, and if we sign up for that, I want to break 4:00, which would give me a 1:00+ PR (my first marathon was 5:56:??).
  2. Reading.  I planned on reading 50 books last year.  At some point, I fell off reading on the metro and started listening to more podcasts.  So, I only hit 29.  This year, I’m starting off with the more manageable goal of 30.  That’s an average of 2.5 books per month.  I’m debating if I want to do BookRiot’s Read Harder Challenge.  There are some challenges that I will likely finish without altering the books on my to-read list, but there are (naturally) some stretches.  There’s also the Popsugar Reading Challenge, which has 40-52 challenges, a larger stretch, but probably still doable.
  3. Sewing.  You thought I forgot about this, didn’t you?  Nope.  I’ve got shit to sew, and I should probably get my shit together if I want to stay on M’s good side.  My space is a TINY bit of a disaster right now, and it may or may not be due to the number of UFQs I have going on right now.  Also wrapped into this side of my goals, blogging.  Holy shit you guys, I am TERRIBLE at blogging.  I have the hardest time remembering to do it.  So, I’m going to shoot for one post per week to recap the goals I have going on.
  4. General Fitness.  I know, I know, cliche to the core.  M and I started doing P90X at the beginning of December.  This was partially due to the fact that I looked at myself naked and then realized I was going to look like crap in my 3/4 singlet this year, and partially due to the fact that M has lost 10 lbs and looks amazing.  We’re doing arms and abs and shoulders, so I can get the flat stomach and some ripped arms to rock my singlet.  And, also, this will probably help with my running pace.

So, there you have it.  One of the most cliche posts of the year, but if I’m going to blog once a week, I should probably start somewhere.  It does mean that you’re going to see sewing stuff here, but also book recommendations and running recaps.  I guess that makes me less of a sewing blogger and more of a “general lifestyle” blogger, but I promise to keep the sewing most of the focal point.  Hopefully I’ll also be better at Instagramming things and taking pictures, so you’ll have some pictures to break up the rambling.

 

Head Up, Wings Out!