Happy Halloween!

Halloween is definitely not my favorite holiday.  I'm not really into dressing up, and would rather just go to a fall-themed party sans costume.  But I get that a lot of people are into Halloween, and if you are one of those people I hope you had an amazing holiday! 

We don't get trick or treaters at our house.  It's too remote and not easily accessible, so Halloween could easily come and go without us noticing if it wasn't for going to Oakland on Friday night where there ridiculous numbers of college students in even more ridiculous costumes.

But I'm not totally anti-Halloween.  In fact, dressing Murph up in one of his many costumes is one of my favorite things in general.

A pumpkin, in honor of Halloween

In his "patch"

I'm ok with being one of "those people" who dress their dogs up in costumes and treat them like humans.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Super Dog - his favorite costume

I'm not sure that there will ever be a day when dressing Murphy up in costumes doesn't make me smile - I'm fairly certain it will always be funny.

And now I can't believe that it's already November!  Where did 2010 go, seriously?

I want an epidural in my FACE

The drama with my tooth continues, and it seems like it's going to be an on-going saga.  The past three days have been filled with unbearable pain.  My entire left jaw, both the top and bottom, ache constantly and throb with pain that is completely blinding at times.  Vicodin are no longer cutting it - I take them and feel crazy drugged and tired but still in too much pain to be able to fall asleep.

I've been so unbelievably unhappy.  I am in so much pain at work that all I can think about is going home.  Then when I get home, I sit in my car because I dread having to get out of the car to cook dinner.  Cooking dinner seems like more than a chore than ever before because I get no enjoyment out of eating.  It's painful and unsatisfying. 

I reached my breaking point today, when I was sitting in a training session and I realized that I wasn't paying attention because I was so distracted by the pain in my face.  I couldn't stop rubbing my jaw.  I wanted to rip my jaw off of my face.  I felt light-headed was waves of pain would wash over me and a couple of times I thought I might even faint.  During some waves of pain it shot into my shoulder and has even been causing ear-ache like pain in my ear.

So, despite my extreme reluctance to do so, I called my dentist.  When he asked why I hadn't called before, I responded, in a choked up voice full of anxiety, "Because I'm terrified. I have had four root canals. Novocaine has never worked on me during root canals.  I've blacked out from the pain in the past. They were horrible, horrible experiences and I don't want to go through it again." 

My anxiety and distress is beyond measurable.  I frequently feel sick to my stomach during the worse bouts of pain and headaches come and go - one even became a migraine at one point.  I am so incredibly cranky all the time that it is exhausting to pretend that I feel anything other than complete and utter misery.  I feel bad for my husband who has to put up with me when I'm home. (On a side note, his school was CLOSED today and he got to be HOME! I was so jealous.)  I feel bad for my employer, because I am definitely less productive since I am distracted by pain or drugs for the majority of the day.  I feel bad for me, because.. well, because this sucks!!!


So here's where we stand with things:
- My dentist called in an antibiotic prescription that I started taking this evening; assuming that the pain is caused by an infection, this should hopefully start helping in a day or two
- I'm scheduled for a root canal on Wednesday of next week; by that point the antibiotics should have hopefully calmed down the infection (assuming there is one)
- My dentist promised me that - given my extreme concerns and fear - he would be extremely sensitive to making sure that I am pain-free before doing anything, and that if I feel any pain, he would stop and re-evaluate

The challenge now will be to get through the next week. Actually, let's just try to get through tonight... that seems like an enormous challenge at this particular moment. 

This post was definitely not very happy, so please enjoy the cuteness above.

(Oh, and regarding the title, that was a direct quote that I said this afternoon to my pregnant-due-any-minute-now co-worker while I was high on Vicodin.)

Our First Friday Wedding

Two weekends ago DH and I both took off of a work for a day to drive to Delaware for our first Friday wedding.

I'm still not sure what I think about Friday weddings.  On one hand, it was nice to have the entire weekend left after the wedding, and I'm sure that having the event on a Friday saved them a ton of money.  On the other hand, DH and I both had to use vacation days, and he only gets two a year, so they're really a precious commodity.  We decided that we were going to make this wedding a priority and take the day off to attend, but we could have easily had something going on at work that meant that we were going to have to miss out on this because of the date.  Also, because most local guests did work that day, the ceremony didn't start until 5 or 5:30 and thus the reception didn't really get under way until around 8 p.m.  That's late for dinner (for us at least) but I guess if your guests are prepared, it's fine.  We're just idiots.  We were starving.

The weather was absolutely beautiful that day, although a little chilly.  It seems like whenever we're in Delaware we have amazing weather, and DH tries to convince me to move there.  Not happening!

The church - isn't that sky amazing?!?

 Doesn't DH look incredibly proud in the picture?

There was a cute but cold cocktail hour outside and then we piled inside for dinner.  As you might recall, this wedding was the day after my horribly traumatic tooth experience.  I was originally selected steak for my entree but was worried that I would be able to chew it.  Luckily, for whatever reason, the waiter had too many chickens and not enough steaks at our table (I think because people didn't remember what they ordered, and the staff had no way of knowing) so I was able to get chicken after all.  It was delicious and so tender and easy to chew.  I was really happy.

Sadly, we had to leave shortly after dinner and so I didn't get to do any dancing at all!  I took one quick snapshot of the dance floor, and then we had to head out. 

Looks like so much fun!

Congratulations to the beautiful bride and groom!  We're sorry that we had to leave so early but we had an amazing time while we were there!

You can't lose your dog if...

This past weekend we went to Baltimore for a quick trip that included about 10 hours in the car, 4 hours of sleep, and about 12 hours actually spent in Baltimore.

We were there to celebrate the (surprise) 50th birthday party of DH's step mom, and I believe that it was quite successful.  Early in the afternoon, I assisted with decorating which included tying ribbon to helium balloons.  I got the genius idea to tie one of the balloons to a dog, and it was hilarious, especially considering that he couldn't care less.


Chillin' (with Murph watching)
During all of this picture taking I also took a short video which isn't really interesting enough to post here.  But in that video I made the claim "You can't lose your dog if you tie a balloon to him."  Which I'm pretty sure is not true.  Ok, it's definitely not true.

Especially since silly me didn't tie the string to his collar tight enough, so at one point when he scratched the balloon detached and immediately started flying away.

It was actually quite pretty. 

And of course, all we did was tie another balloon to poor Dillon anyway.

Sometimes the smallest things can be so incredibly amusing.

It's hard when it hurts

I feel like I have a ton of things to write about, but life is passing me by so quickly I'm not sure if I'll ever get the chance to put it all down in words.

My tooth pain, which I know you're probably all sick of hearing about, still exists, and although it is certainly less intense it has been accompanied by pretty horrible headaches (or more accurately, is probably the source of the headaches.)  It's hard to write when my head hurts so bad in so many different ways.  To get the motivation to sit in front of the computer and type is near impossible when the only time I can feel relief is when I'm sleeping (and even then, sleep is often interrupted by pain.)  I skipped my exercise class this week and didn't run on the treadmill at all.  I thought that perhaps tonight would be the night to get back into that routine, but after a weekend with very little sleep and a horrible, debilitating headache today, that's definitely not going to happen.

I'm keeping hope that this is the week that things are going to turn around.  My wishes for this week are for a healthy, pain free existence full of healthy eating and exercise!

We'll see how that goes!  More about what we've been up to the past couple weeks coming soon.  I promise.

Random Updates

1. My tooth still hurts.
On Wednesday night I woke up at 1 a.m. because of throbbing pain.  I tried to fall back asleep but after half an hour I realized that this was the kind of pain that could keep me awake all night.  I got out of bed, took a Vicodin, and did actually fall asleep.
On top of that, I have had headaches pretty much all this week.  I am blaming the tooth problems and the stress that the pain has been causing me.

And yet I still feel convinced that not doing anything is better right now than going back and having more work done on the tooth.  I may not be sane. 

2. Murph turned 7!!!
In all of my selfish agony, we missed Murphy's birthday! He turned 7 on October 19th (our made up birthday for him, although we think we're pretty close, at least on the month.)  Since we forgot to celebrate on the 19th, we gave him yummy people food the next night and put a candle in his dog dish.  He definitely did not appreciate that but it was funny to watch nonetheless.

So instead, we decided to wrap him in a blanket, because he likes to be warm, and because our house feels like the Arctic circle inside. 

Happy Burthday Murphday!

Does YOUR dog do this?

Every time Murph gets a bath he goes absolutely crazy, running around like a mad dog and rubbing his face on the carpet or a towel.

I realize that every dog in the world probably does this, but I just think it is the funniest thing in the world, every single time. 

Does your dog go crazy after bath time?

Dental Disasters

I have been waiting to write this post until a time when I could see through the haze of the Vicodin I've been taking.  Or perhaps until I could at least pause from the general writhing in pain that I've been doing the past week or so.

But apparently that's not going to happen anytime soon, so instead I'm sucking it up, pulling it together, and telling the world why I am definitely one of those people that hate dentists.

A couple of weeks ago I went for my regular six month check-up/cleaning.  At that time - like she does every time - the dentist hygienist commented profusely on how much my gums bled.  "Yes, I know," I responded, "When I got my flu shot they debated whether or not I would need stitches to stop the bleeding."

Ok, so that's not totally true, but I do bleed profusely whenever I get a cut or shot or anything that punctures my apparently delicate skin.

I'm so good at getting off of the subject.  I've barely started this post and it's already off subject.


Turns out that my dental x-rays showed that one of my old fillings wasn't looking so hot, so they wanted to remove the filling and simply replace it.  Sounded easy enough, so I agreed.  I went back the next week, and the dentist removed and replaced the filling.  Easy peasy.

Except that when I got back to work my face was so numb that I had to shut the door.  I couldn't drink water because some of the Novocaine had dripped down my throat and it took over 3 hours for the numbness to go away.  I was miserable.

Once I could finally make my face function again, I noticed that I was now experiencing a lot of pain associated with that tooth.  Very strange, considering that I hadn't been experiencing ANY pain prior to the "replacing" of this "deteriorating filling."  Now I couldn't even chew on the left side of my mouth.

Fast forward two days later and I am STILL hurting.  Sometimes the pain would be intense that I would literally see stars and my entire jaw would ache from the pain.  I was also experiencing headaches.  After a particularly bad shot of pain when I tried to chew a piece of gum, I called the dentists office and went there 10 minutes later.

The dentist could not figure out what was causing the pain, so he decided that he was going to remove the filling and then refill it.. AGAIN.  And he wanted to do it this time without Novocaine to try to determine the spot that was generating all of the pain.  His theory was that maybe there was a pocket of air in there causing the pain.

I know that drilling and fillings without Novocaine sounds awful, but I assure you that it wasn't so bad.  I felt fine actually (proof that I am NOT actually a wimp, like this story might make me sound.)  When he was done he filed it down and then asked me to try to chew on a piece of gum.  I put the piece of gum in my mouth, chomped down and nearly jumped out of my skin.  It. Hurt. So. Bad.

Holy shit.

At this point I couldn't control myself - tears started streaming down my face. I couldn't stop them.  And believe me when I say I am NOT a crier.  But it hurt so bad and it was so frustrating not being able to know what the problem was and not knowing if there was a solution in sight. It took me awhile to calm down - I may not be a crier, but once I get started it's like a flood that's hard to stop.   The dentist asked permission to start poking around again to see if he could identify the source of the pain and eventually - through a LOT more tears - we figured out that there was a particularly sensitive spot under my gums and between the two teeth.  Every time he poked that spot with his little poker thing I screamed, or jumped, or jerked... and of course, I cried.  My shirt was soaked from tears.

I could tell that the dentist felt horrible about causing me so much pain, and he still wasn't sure what was causing me such excruciating pain. He took another x-ray, but even that looked fine, even in the spot where I was experiencing the intense pain.  So I had to make a decision - try to get through the weekend and see if the pain went away, or allow him to drill out the filing for a THIRD TIME and try to take the filling lower, to below the gum line, to hopefully cover the spot that was causing me so much trouble.

After much thoughtful internal debate I decided to give him one last chance. There was no way that I could get through the weekend and enjoy myself (we were going to a wedding!) with the pain that I was experiencing.

So he drilled again, this time with Novocaine, and although he was fairly certain that he had gotten the filling sufficiently low enough since I was numb now it was impossible for me to tell if I was still going to be in pain or not.   He wrote me two prescriptions - one for 800 mg ibuprofen and one for Vicodin.  On a whim, I decided to get them both filled "just in case" even though I was hopeful that my problem was solved.

But there is no happy ending to this story - at least not yet. 

My pain still varies from mild to nearly unbearable, although not quite as excruciating as it was initially. It's more like a dull ache that gradually encompasses my entire left jaw near the end of the day.  On Monday night it hurt so bad I had to take two Vicodin just to fall asleep.  I can't chew on that side of my mouth at all without some pain, and there's now a huge gap between the two teeth, and food is constantly getting stuck.  I have also had to more or less quit chewing gum, one of my all time favorite snacks during the day.  Now, if I'm really craving gum, I chew it on my left side a little, and then I just suck on it for flavor.  Yum....

The is not the first time that I've had dental problems.  I've had no less than half a dozen dentists, and in almost every instance I left them due to a traumatic dental experience such as this one.  I have hyperactive nerve sensitivity, and in this case, it seems like it became inflamed when they removed the original filling the first time.  Now I'm not sure that it will ever stop hurting until I have the nerve removed through a root canal.  I am only 29 years old and I have had 4 root canals.  I do not want another. 

This problem is quite possible related to the fact that I took tetracycline for acne as a teenager.  Back then they didn't know that tetracycline basically destroys your teeth.  (Oh to think of all of the thinks I'm probably doing right now that will similarly come back and haunt me 15 years down the road...)

So what's a girl to do???  At the risk of sounding dramatic, I am seriously traumatized, and right now I'm pretty sure that I would rather continue taking pain killers for the rest of my life versus having to have another root canal on a severely hyperactive nerve. But obviously that's not a viable long term solution. 

For now I'm going to wait it out for hopefully a few more weeks, until I can work up the nerve to once again go and visit a dentist.  And although I know it's not my dentists fault, I'm not sure if I will be able to go back to him after this ordeal.

Turn up the heat!

It's 39 degrees outside, 58 degrees inside and we are still holding out on turning up our heat.

But considering that I've slept the past two nights with my electric blanket on the entire time, and that temperatures will be continue to be in the 30s at night all week, it might finally be time.

Is it normal to let your house get so cold just to save money?

Mums mean fall

I used to love fall.  In fact, back in the day, I would quite confidently tell you that fall was my favorite season.  I liked wearing sweaters and jeans, and appreciate the generally clear skies and cool weather.

But now I live in the country and fall means raking leaves, digging up the garden, and wrapping arborvitaes in deer block mesh stuff.  It means work.  On top of that, after last winter - the worst winter ever - I am not ready for another winter.  Fall means impending winter, thus another strike against fall.

Spring is now officially my new favorite season.

But it's fall and there's not much I can do about it.  So I decided to brighten up my fall just a little with a beautiful bright mum. 

It's bright and pink and blooming like a beautiful spring flower!  And even though mums mean fall, fall becomes a little easier to tolerate when I have something like on my porch.

I love mums... but that doesn't mean that I love fall.  Spring - I hope you come back soon!

Fires are fun

I have a husband who can't keep his fingers out of a burning candle if there's one in front of him.  He'll stick his fingers in the wax or roll up a piece of paper to try to make a mini-torch - anything to be playing with fire.

So a couple times each year we build a real fire, and for one or two of those fires, we try to make a party out of it. 

We scheduled this year's bonfire on the evening of the day that we were going spelunking.  Probably not the wisest idea, but DH was convinced that we could pull it off.  On top of that, if we didn't have it this weekend, we wouldn't be able to reschedule it until late November, and late November can be reeeeeally cold.

So we whipped up an evite and sent it out into the cyber-net-world.

And very quickly the "no" replies starting coming in.

Apparently this was a bad weekend.  The majority of people that we invited couldn't make it for one reason or another.  During the first two weeks or so following the sending of the evite, it was pretty much me, DH, my sister, and one of his co-workers.  We were discouraged but after debating the pros and cons of rescheduling, decided to leave it as is.  Thankfully a few people responded "yes" in the week or so preceding the event and the bonfire was on.

And I'm so glad they came.

Initially we were sad that it was going to be a fairly small group.  But in retrospect, this was one of the better, funner bonfires we've had.  The people there were all good, quality people who could easily start a conversation with people that they didn't necessarily know that well.  During some of our larger bonfires in the past, they were so big that no everyone could sit around the fire, and people would branch off into separate little groups.  But on this occasion, we could all sit around the fire - close enough to stay warm - and we could have one big conversation as a group.  It was fun.  I didn't feel overly stressed out about feeling the need to be the buffer between groups, or to have to entertain those one or two people who weren't talking to anyone.  For perhaps the first time ever, I could really relax and just enjoy the fire.

Murph loves bonfires too but they make him oh-so-tired

It turns out that when you take pictures from the other side of the fire, they get all crazy wavy on you!

And it turns out that when you give the camera to DH for any length of time, you get a lot of pictures of him.

Thanks to everyone who came this past weekend - we had a blast.  And thanks to everyone who brought mountain pie makers, s'mores fixings (and for leaving the marshmallows!), pizza sauce and cheese, and everything else that we forgot to get because we were too busy thinking about spelunking.  It's people like you that make these get-togethers so much fun.

Fire is good.

Spelunk, Spelunker, Spelunking

According to dictionary.com, to spelunk is to explore caves, and subsequently a spelunker is someone who explores caves, usually as a hobby.  

On Saturday, I allowed my husband to talk me into attending a field trip with him and student's from his school, to go spelunking (definition: "to go" and explore caves) at Laurel Caverns.  I wasn't particularly interested, but DH gave me the "it's a childhood dream of mine" speech so I gave in.

In the end, I am glad that I went.

So, the picture above was taken in the "public cave" section.  You can see that's well lit and attractive looking, although what you can not tell from this picture is that it's a massively steep hill (heading down - we had just climbed up it.)  

But we weren't in the "public cave" section - oh no.  We did "lower caving," which is an undeveloped cave, that including sliding down slippery rocks, lots of mud, crawling through small spaces and lots of head bumps.  And once you get to the very bottom - 47 stories down, according to our guide - you turn around and climb another 47 stories back up; the only way to get out.

I'm dehydrated and ready to go!
One of the rules was that you had to have a headlamp.  I didn't quite understand why that was necessary if I had two flashlights instead, but once we got in there I quickly realized that I would need both of my hands for all of the climbing I was going to have to do.  The other rule was no bathroom breaks, for three solid hours, which I was deathly afraid of.  I dehydrated myself for hours beforehand and am still suffering from that.  But, I didn't have to pee during the caving, thank god.

Allow me to state the obvious - caves are dark.  We turned out our lights at one point and the blackness is absolute.  You think that maybe you can make out the ceiling, or perhaps see a shape right in front of you, but that is - in fact - an illusion. It's your eyes trying to find light.  Apparently, if you were stranded in a pitch-black cave for an extended period of time you would go completely blind after about three weeks - your retina's try so hard to find light that eventually they burn out and you go blind.

A little sleeping bat
 47 stories sounds like a lot, but when you're basically going down 10 stories in one scary little drop, it actually goes by quite quickly.  More time was spent sitting in the "rooms" looking around than actually going up or down.  But those moments were nice because you could actually stop and look around, take in your surroundings and remind yourself that you are underground.  Going UP 47 stories was obviously much more difficult than going down.  While I felt like we spent over 2 hours going down and exploring, the trip back up was actually fairly quick and I was definitely sweating even though the temperature in the cave was only 52 degrees.

Cave picture with the flash
It's hard to capture the essence of caving in a photograph.  The flash reflects off of the rock, removing any sense of depth that you might be trying to capture.  Without flash is a little better, but the constantly moving lights create blur, and it's still hard to get a real sense of what you're experiencing.

Cave picture without the flash
Spelunking (at least for me) is one of those experiences that I struggle to describe.  I can't really do the experience justice.  Walking into an enormous, dark, undeveloped cave, climbing over enormous boulders that have fallen from the ceiling, crawling on my hands and knees in a very narrow space under tons of rock, sliding down the sides of rock walls on my butt, and sloshing through little creeks of water that back in the day actually carved out this cave is hard to describe.  Thinking about where you are in the earth is a little surreal.  Imagining the hundreds of men back in the late 1800's and early 1900's that entered this very same cave with little more than a torch and a candle (which they then used to write their names and the date on the ceilings) feels like experiencing a piece of history.  And imagining how scary it would be if that torch or candle burnt out and you were left in there to die - a little creepy.

Taken from the top of a rock before I slid down to join the group
There were a ton of opportunities to explore, and the more adventurous among us had the opportunity to crawl through small tunnels were there was actually a small river running through it.  In the picture below, DH actually climbed up a large section of rock and come out through that small hole that you can see behind his right leg.

If you ever have the opportunity to go spelunking (and I mean real spelunking, not lit cavern spelunking), I highly recommend it.  I can assure you that it will be a unique experience giving you a glimpse into a world you probably knew nothing about. 

And, if nothing else, you'll walk out of there looking really rugged and tough.

I NEVER look this tough

The Mario Mosaic

Recently the Consol Energy Center unveiled the Mario Mosaic - an awesome mosaic of fan-submitted photos covering a wall of the center. I had heard about it a long time ago, back when you could submit pictures for it, but I had no idea how cool it would actually be.

Image from http://www.mariolemieux.org/

You can check out an online version of it here:

AND! If you submitted a photo you can search for it on the mosaic to see where you are.  If I was even just slightly more interested in hockey (I know - it's basically blasphemy that I live in Pittsburgh and don't worship hockey), I would have probably submitted a picture myself.  I love the concept of being a small part of something way bigger than myself, and this project is definitely a great example of that.

"I'm so glad we don't have snakes anymore"

I'm going to file that quote under "famous last words."

On Sunday I took advantage of the nice weather to wrap our arborvitae's and Rose of Sharon plants with deer mesh.  The deer already had a nice-sized meal of the Rose of Sharon's and I really hope that they survive the winter and come back next year, but it's too early to tell for sure.  The arborvitaes are evergreens, and you would think that deer wouldn't want to eat evergreens.  But you would be wrong.  They nearly destroyed the poor little bushes our first winter here (and actually did completely destroy at least 3 or 4 of them that we had to replace.) So now, each fall, we wrap them in this black mesh product called Deer block, and it more or less prevents them from being able to snack on my shrubs.

So, as part of this project, we also decided to bring in the hoses that we run to the garden each spring for watering and for our Scarecrow (another deer repelling device.)  I was pulling multiple long and gray hoses down our mountain of a backyard and towards the garage, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted moving and my heart did a little jump - I thought the movement was a snake.

Of course, it wasn't a snake.  It was the end of one of the hoses that I was pulling, but because I was going around a corner, the end of it caught in my peripheral vision.  Calming down, I thought, "I'm so glad that we don't have snakes anymore."  Because when we first moved here, there were quite a few snakes, including one that lived quite comfortably in our retaining wall, evidence of one that had lived in our attic, and more than a couple of times when we nearly stepped on snakes in the yard.  They were always small snakes, but I'm not a fan and didn't appreciate having to be on edge every time I walked through my yard.

It's been at least a year since we've seen a snake, hence the thought that I had above.

But not five minutes later, while tinkering about in the garage, DH calls me over.

"I don't have my glasses on. Is that a snake?"

"Yes, that's definitely a snake," I said, while thinking to myself "Are you KIDDING me!?!??!"

I take one measly moment to appreciate the recent lack of snakes in my life, and within minutes, a snake appears.  What kind of sign is that!?!?! What does it mean????

Is it karma? Did I jinx myself? Seriously - is there a lesson to be learned here???

Anyway, DH proceeds to attempt to capture the snake, but he's unwilling to pick it up.  He approached it with a shovel at which time it started to slither away, and at the same time I let out an ear-piercing scream so shrill that I can barely believe it came from my own mouth. DH jumped a mile and the snake slithered behind our wall of tools.

See him back there between the wall and the carpet?
"PLEASE do not scream like that again," he said, as he tried to move tools away so that he could get a clear shot of the snake again.  The snake pulled back and coiled up, like he was going to strike, and I zoomed in to take more pictures.  I was chastised as not being helpful, and was subsequently asked to leave, but not before I got one last picture of that ugly little bugger.

Preparing to strike
You see, I'm not actually afraid of snakes, per se.  If I can observe one from afar, and it's not moving and I know exactly where it is at all times, I am fine.  But if a snake catches me off guard, or if it's not clearly visible to me, then I totally freak out, causing more shrill girly screams. 
So this morning, after I had already gotten into my car and was backing out of the driveway, I saw it again - right there, in the exact same spot it had been yesterday, on the rug to our door.  I told DH and I don't think he did anything about it (or at least, I'm not sure that he did.)  So when I got home this afternoon I did a thorough visual inspection of the area surrounding my car before I was willing to put my foot on the ground.

And then I ran inside.

Maybe I am afraid of snakes. 

The Funk

I know that I haven't written much lately, and mostly that's because not a lot has been going on recently.  But in addition to that, I'm already started to fell the cold-weather funk. The same funk that I was in last winter, and is already returning even though it's only fall.  I don't think this summer was long enough or warm enough (or perhaps I just didn't get to enjoy it enough) for me to be ready for cold weather already.

Murph loves the cooler weather - me, not so much

The weather was sunny today, but unfortunately I was indoors, at work during all of it.  I leave the house - it's dark. I drive home - the sun is setting.  It's sad, and I hate the short days of winter.  I'm in trouble this winter if I'm already feeling this way, since it's only October 7th.

So what's my plan?  Great question! I wish there was an easy answer... but for now, there are a few things that I know are important.
  1. Stay warm - Feeling cold just makes me want to curl up into a ball under my electric blanket. 
  2. Exercise - Helps with #1 and is a good way to stay in shape during the winter months where you can't do much outside. 
  3. Do things - This sounds easy enough, but it's hard for me to get motivated in the winter.  I need people to ask me to do things, and when I say no - as I inevitably will - I need people to push me. I almost always have a good time when I go out and do things, but getting the motivation to go is something I struggle with. 

The key here is motivation - I need to find it, catch it, and then wrestle it into a cage where I can keep it all for myself throughout the entire winter.  Hopefully it's warm and fluffy and cute... all of my favorite things.

What do you do to stay motivated in the winter?

Fall TV - Part 1

After a sad and dismal summer, the fall TV line-up is finally here!  I am excited because having a lot of shows that I motivated to watch means that I will be motivated to exercise as well.  I try to make it a goal of mine to not watch TV unless I am exercising while doing it.  Otherwise, I feel like it's counterproductive, because if I'm just sitting on the couch, I'm probably eating or snacking as well.

But the end of last season marked the end of a lot of my favorite shows, including Lost and Flash Forward, so now I find myself needing to fall in love with new shows. Ugh... time investment.  Oh well.  There are some promising options.  Here is part 1 of what I'm watching so far, with more to come in the near future as we work our way through out DVR. 

The Event
The Event is like Lost meets Flash Forward meets 24 meets V.  Seriously.  In fact, there are so many similarities to those shows (the vanishing plane from Lost, the jumps in time from Flash Forward, and the black screens with character names straight from 24, the aliens that look just like humans from V) that it's almost annoying, but considering that I liked all  of those shows, I want to give this one a fair chance.

So far, here is what I gather about the plot.  A man and his girlfriend are on a cruise when suddenly she disappears and all of his identity is poofed (gone.)  In the meantime, the president of the United States is visiting a compound in Alaska that holds questionable prisoners, but we're not sure what they did.  Then, in present day, we see the man who lost his girlfriend on a plane with a gun, trying to stop the pilot from doing something.  Oh wait, what he's doing is trying to stop the pilot from crashing the plane into the President's vacation home.  As it's about to happen, the plane poofs, just like the girlfriend. Gone.  One of the "prisoners" from the Alaskan compound, who is at the President's house, and who is apparently an alien says "I haven't told you everything, Mr. President."

Lone Star


I hadn't even heard of this one or seen any previews of it, but it popped up on our DVR, I watched it, and am now intrigued.
This show is about a young, attractive con-man, living multiple lives with multiple wives and scamming people out of their money with fake oil fields.  What has me coming back for more is an incredibly charismatic main character, that is so inherently evil yet the viewer is convinced that he has some good left in him, so we found ourselves rooting for him even though he continues to rip people off.
My initial feelings about this show are positive, but this is one that I'm definitely going to need to do a follow-up post on.

Update: So I just heard that they're canceling this show!!! What!?!?! I am so bummed. I was actually really intrigued by this show and was looking forward to seeing where they went with it... Definitely a disappointment, especially since so far there hasn't been that much else that has caught my attention.

My Generation
We watched one episode of this show and we hated it - in fact, we almost didn't finish.  No surprise that this one is being canceled already.  We stopped recording it before we even got to the second episode.

More to come soon, but in the meantime... 
What are YOU watching this season?!? Let me know in the comments below, since so far, this season isn't looking so hot!

The Apple Orchard

As if I didn't already have enough on my plate with the garden, Mother Nature just dropped a bomb on me.  Literally.

You see this tree?

Stupid tree....
We've lived here for three years now, and we always thought that tree was a crab apple tree.  The apples were very crab apple-ish, small, bumpy and unappealing looking.  I hated this tree - still hate it really - and two years ago when there was a chainsaw lying around, I begged for it to be cut down.  But DH refused, and after giving this tree some TLC in the form of some fresh mulch this spring, it started producing crab apples on steroids.  Seriously large crab apples.

We ignored them for most of the summer.  Our yard is mostly a dust bowl, and when it's not a dust bowl it's mostly tall, stupid weeds, so we don't have to mow much.  Thus, the apples could sit there - hiding in the weeds - without us really noticing them at all.

Then came this weekend, and DH decided to mow.  He asked me to pick up apples, and I started digging through the weeds/dust bowl and picking them up.

"I'm going to get you a bucket," he said, and I didn't argue, since I already had an arm full of apples and they were rotting and disgusting so I didn't actually want to hold them close to me.

But about two minutes after I started putting apples in the bucket, it was full.

Why?  Because these apples were as crab-apple-shaped as I had originally though.

So then I got to thinking, "How many apples are there down here?"  And I went and got our wheelbarrow to find out.

Well, it turns out there were a lot of apples.  A lot of apples that are definitely not crab apples.

These were all laying in our yard! At the bottom of the hill!!!
Apparently we have an apple tree in our yard.  An apple tree that produces some seriously nasty looking apples.

In the interest of science, I kept some of the best looking apples and brought them inside to conduct some internet research and experiments on them.   My research has led me to believe that these apples are diseased with not one, but two diseases - sooty blotch and flyspeck.

A non-crab-apple with sooty blotch
But the prognosis isn't as grim as one might think.  Both sooty blotch and flyspeck are caused by a fungus, usually from your soil or from the tree, which is no surprise to us since we have already learned that our soil is wildly fungus infected by the amount of massive mushrooms that grow each year.  You can treat it with fungicides in the spring, right after the flower bloom and fall off, but neither disease really affects the taste of the apple in any way.  In fact, I peeled one of these apples, fed it to DH, and he said that it tasted great.

Comparing these apples to dozens of pictures of other apples, my best guess is that they are of the Braeburn apple variety, but obviously that is just a guess.

So now, in addition to the garden, are we seriously going to have a mini-apple orchard as well?  It would be a dream for the grocery budget - produce is where we spend the most money - but do I really want more gardening work?  And can we really rehabilitate this tree?

Only time will tell....