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Making Some Changes

I had to adjust to a new reality recently. In fact, I’m still going through it.

Losing over 40 pounds has not been without its side-effects. You never hear about the drawbacks of weight loss, only the benefits. Well–not to discourage anyone who is trying to lose weight–my particular drawback has been a new sensitivity in my hips and tailbone.

Do I want to gain the weight back? Absolutely not. So far, the benefits still outweigh the costs. I am now down to half a blood pressure pill a day, and the Florida heat hardly bothers me at all anymore. I fit into the world better, making it more comfortable. But I realized that I needed to do something about this chronic pain if I want to get back to my old writing schedule. And I started in the past few weeks.

The first change is I moved my recliner into a different room, and moved an old reclining couch back in our family room. The reclining couch does not recline back as far as my old rocking recliner, so all my weight does not end up concentrated in one place at the base of my spine. I also realized that some strategic positioning of cushions has been making the problem worse, not better.

The second change is to move my writing area back to an actual desk, instead of any recliner. So I bought a nice office chair and started working at an old writing desk I had. However, my laptop is too large to fit into the area designed for the smaller laptops of yesteryear (ok, so the desk isn’t that old), and the drawer prevents me from pulling my new office chair all the way up. I looked around for a nice corner desk, but they were all too elaborate and expensive, and looked too difficult to move. (I know because I’ve had such desks in the past.) I will be visiting a used office furnishing store this week to see if I can find an old Steelcase corner unit, but in the meantime, I have pushed two 4-foot tables into an L shape. It is comfortable enough that I have been able to work here off-and-on for most of the day. My next book finally feels like it is taking shape.

The last change I am making is exercises to pump up my — er — derriere. There’s no fat at the base of my butt anymore (although there’s still plenty higher up), but I know there’s muscle back there, so if I can bulk it up a bit, maybe it won’t hurt to sit anymore. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past ten years, is to not let your muscles atrophy. It actually causes pain. My shoulders usually don’t bother me anymore, and if they do, a nice round of the same exercises that my therapist taught me is as good as a pain pill. The same kind of thinking keeps my feet from hurting. An old friend who was born with no kneecaps told me that if she had not kept exercising over the years, she’d be in a wheelchair by now. So where there’s pain, I tend to add exercise. I’ll report later if it helps–I just started yesterday.

I guess these are good problems to have, rather than the problems my obesity were causing and threatening to cause to my health. Still, a problem is a problem, and it’s encouraging to take some steps to solve it. The last step I intend to take is to mention the issue at my annual physical, which I need to schedule. Hopefully the doctor will be able to recommend some things I haven’t thought of.

Knocked Flat by Antibiotics

Hopefully, I’m back.

Where have I been? It’s kind of an epic. A lot of people, when they get sick, hang out online. When I get sick, I go low-tech. I read lots of books. The only time I fire up the computer is to lose myself in a computer game. So that’s where I’ve been.

I wasn’t “sick” sick. No fever, runny nose, or chills. I had an infected sebaceous cyst. It had been growing larger and larger for a number of years, and it started feeling funny just after Easter, so I went to see my PA about getting it removed. She gave me a referral to a dermatologist to get it drained. But I never had a chance to get it drained, because it started swelling and turning red. Heh. I guess that’s why it felt funny.

I left her a message, but the doctor called me back instead. This was on a Tuesday. He put me on an antibiotic with a steroid, and warned me that I may need to get it lanced. Ouch. That just sounded so painful. I took the antibiotics, but by Friday, it was clear that it was only getting worse. I went in and as we walked in the door, he said, “Miss Patricia (my real name), are we going to have to do surgery?”

I said, I think so. I showed it to him, and it had already started to rupture.

With the help of an assistant, he cut two small incisions into the cyst, and then proceeded to squeeze the hell out of it. The damned thing was about ten years old, and it took significant effort to squeeze all that crap out. It hurt way worse than the incisions. He handed me a script for a truly wicked antibiotic called clindamycin, told me to draw a circle around the red area, and to change to this new antibiotic if the redness spread outside the circle.

My sweet husband went to fill that prescription at 10:00 that night.

The clindamycin kicked that infection right in the ass. The wound would heal at a miraculous rate, and then would break open to drain, only to heal over again. This went on for a week. It finally healed for the last time, but remains an ugly purple scar.

A week and a day after I took that last pill, the fun began. I won’t in all the gory details, but ever since I took those antibiotics, I have had every type of infection you can have, except for parasites. This includes a case of shingles that turned out to be mercifully mild. I now have a toothache, and I think the timing is suspicious. I can’t find any kind of lesion or broken skin around that tooth, but it looks like I’ll have to let the dentist see for himself. You can bet I’ll be telling him about the clindamycin.

So what have I been reading? I finished Karen Azinger’s Silk & Steel Saga, which is a seven book series. I reviewed the first three books here. I read the second book in Blake Charlton’s series (here’s a review of the first book).  I read a debut called The Sherlockian, by Graham Moore. He doesn’t have a website, which I find baffling, but he has a Wikipedia page.

What computer games have I been playing? I discovered that my old PC copy of Skyrim plays quite nicely on my PC, so I started a new game. I never seem to finish these games, so this time, I did something different–I jumped right into the main quest. I finished the Civil War, and now I’m about two-thirds of the way through the main quest. My character is a paladin/spellsword who specializes in one-handed, block, heavy armor, restoration, speechcraft, smithing, and enchanting. She has been single-minded in her focus, and has pursued very few quests outside of her main residences. It’s so much funner this way.

What have you been up to?

Quick Update

Hi, everyone. I see it has been a while since I last posted. All is well; I guess you can call it an extended hiatus. I also really want to get off and back onto a self-hosted wordpress implementation. I think my enthusiasm will return once I have full control over my site again. I just need to be able to combat spammers, so I am being quite picky about web hosting.

Other than that, it has been the same old stuff for me. I have a stack of books that I’d like to review, and another stack to read. I have also been writing and revising and polishing–also as usual. And–I must admit–I have been playing entirely too much Skyrim. (I discovered that my new computer plays Skyrim quite well, to the detriment of my more productive endeavors. So it’s really like playing it for the first time.)

So I’m off to review web hosts! Let me know if you have any recommendations.

IMO: When to Give Up. And When Not To.


Today’s post is about perseverance. When to stick to it. And when to not to.

No, I’m not planning on giving up on anything. But that is not to say that I have never given up on stuff. Once, I dreamed of being an artist. I still have pictures that I drew in the 6th grade, and they are not bad. I stuck it out all through high school, mostly because I already had signed up for the courses. But then something happened after I left high school.

I discovered that it was not my passion.

So, I stopped doing it. Well, not entirely. I still have extensive art supplies and I still occasionally use them. I have a discount card to my local art store. And I keep up my calligraphy skills. But, I no longer actively pursue art as a career or even as a serious hobby.

More difficult to give up was music.

When I was in my 20s, I rediscovered music. I retaught myself how to play piano and I started taking violin lessons. For two years, music overtook my life. I was a very serious violin student. I practiced for hours each week–probably 2 hours a day (in addition to working full-time) and 10 hours over the weekend. I was also still writing my Trunk Novel Epic, so I was also a very serious aspiring writer.

And then I went back to school.

And at the ripe age of 27, I realized that with the demands of a full-time class schedule, I’d have to pick one serious hobby. I asked myself, which hobby do you honestly have a shot at turning into a career? So the violin went into the case.

Why? As a musician, I really did start too late. And I was inspired by an old woman I knew in my community orchestra who had re-taken up the violin at the age of 60. I knew I would not lose my ability to read music–at least not permanently. I may temporarily forget how to tell the difference between E-major and A-major on the musical staff, but I’ll never forget how to play them, and I’ll never forget the theory behind them.

Although I didn’t play for about 15 years, I did take it back up again, and I did brush off my piano skills. (I would have brushed off my violin skills as well, but the danged thing keeps eating my D string.) Still … it’s not a serious hobby. It can’t be, until I can quit my day job.

What about writing? I’ve had some successes, but nothing career-changing. I think it’s the one thing that I won’t ever give up. At least, not for long.

What hobbies or interests have you had, that you eventually lost interest in?

Random updates: Webhost Research and Unposted Posts

I got a sudden fever this morning, so I took advantage of some physical downtime to research potential new homes for this blog. This is a hosted premium account. I first moved here several years ago to escape hackers who kept taking advantage of the fact that my then-webhost wouldn’t the underlying mysql database. And through the magic of DNS services, y’all came with me.

And so, I’ve been here ever since, feeling somewhat limited, but not overly so. Every year, I would research self-hosted websites, but none seemed to have the anti-hacking support that I was looking for.

Until now.

In the coming months, I’ll either move this site back into a to self-hosted site, or I’ll port the whole thing into another platform altogether. I’d like a place that makes it fun to blog again. I’m not sure if, anymore, that is WordPress.


Since I’ve been poking around my website, I made a discovery–I wrote all kinds of posts that I never posted. What happens is this:

  • I get inspired by a great idea, and start writing a post.
  • Something distracts me, and I save it as a draft, and set my computer aside.
  • I never remember to finish it.

Among these unposted posts are one that I decided to run tomorrow on stick-tuit-iveness, and two posts on an upcoming feature that I’ll announce later. I want to get several posts written before I commit to this.

(I also had a book review from a few years ago that I had pulled into draft status. When I reposted it today, it sent emails to all my subscribers. Sorry about that if you experienced some deja-vu when re-reading.)

And finally, there are two reviews that I started, but never finished. One is mostly finished, so I’ll try to get that posted soon as well.

Oh, and don’t worry about whatever’s making me run this low-grade fever. Obviously, it’s not slowing me down much. 🙂

Updates, Recent Research and Upcoming Series Review

This summer has been pretty active. The action started when I was laid off. The timing was actually pretty good because over the next couple of weeks, I was needed to help with a family illness that came up during the same time. And then we went to a long-planned wedding. I made three trips across Florida in five weeks. When we got back, I received a job offer, which I accepted. I started a week later. Just after that, we had to bundle my daughter off to camp. Which involved a huge amount of shopping and packing. She came back the following week, which meant a round of unpacking and laundry, and the week after that, we made another trip across the state.

This weekend, I’m having a little downtime.

Recent Research

While polishing up East of Yesterday, I had to revamp a scene where a group of young men must sneak into a camp and retrieve some stolen items. One of them needed to cover for the noise they were making, so I decided to have him sing a song. Since he’s from the Revolutionary War era, he sings an almost-forgotten song from that era. Here’s the opening verses:

THAT seat of science, Athens,
And earth’s proud mistress, Rome;
Where now are all their glories?
We scarce can find a tomb.
Then guard your rights, Americans,
Nor stoop to lawless sway;
Oppose, oppose, oppose,
oppose, For North America.

We led fair Freedom hither,
And lo, the desert smiled!
A paradise of pleasure
Was opened in the wild!
Your harvest, bold Americans,
No power shall snatch away!
Huzza, huzza, huzza, huzza,
For free America.

You can find the full song at Bartleby.

Upcoming Review

I recently read the first three books in an excellent epic fantasy (and warrior woman!) series, and I’ve written a series review.

Any reviews I post here are for books I’ve purchased and enjoyed. I generally don’t post negative reviews because I don’t usually finish books that I’m not enjoying. Sometimes, people still contact me for book reviews, but I have not requested any material from anyone since I closed down Debuts & Reviews. Katie and I briefly discussed reviewing again, but I ultimately had to bow out, because if I were to make this a review blog again, something else in my life would have to go.

I have the series review scheduled to post on Monday.

How I Lost Twenty Pounds

A few weeks ago, I hit the twenty-pound mark in my weight-loss efforts. I had been trying to lose weight for a number of years, but I have only been successful in the last six months. The weight-loss method I am using is traditional calorie counting.

Here’s what I did that was different.

1. Enlist a partner. My husband had some bad news from his doctor, and we knew it was time for him to lose weight. I have been on high blood pressure medicine for about five years, so we decided to do this together. It has been SO much easier–especially since we are both committed. I was unable to stick to a plan until my husband and I started this together.

2. Find a calorie counting app with reminders. I’ve had MyFitnessPal on my iPhone for a couple of years now. I selected it because it was the only one that enabled me to set food tracking reminders throughout the day. This is important when you are establishing the food-tracking habit, because it really does take 21 days to establish a habit. Now, we both use it.

3. Find a daily goal I could stick with for month after month. This is important. You need to be able to cut enough calories to lose weight, but you don’t want it to be so difficult that it is discouraging. It took me six months to lose twenty pounds. I’m good with that. It took years for me to pack on this weight, after all. If I lose a total of forty pounds after one year, I will be totally thrilled.

MyFitnessPal suggests a goal for you based on your activity level. Because I know I have a somewhat active metabolism–I can’t blame my weight on my glands–I chose Lightly Active as my activity level. This is even though I am probably not that active. Because I chose Lightly Active, I don’t carry around my iPhone with me so it can track steps. I only let it track steps when I have my purse with me. If I happen to be more active than usual, it will count those steps. If not, the few steps I take won’t have much of an impact. My husband chose Sedentary even though he probably is Lightly Active. But he carries around his cell-phone, and it records every step he takes.

Important take-away here–I have managed to lose 20 pounds even though I have not stepped up my activity level.

4. I Track every day–even when I go over my calorie goal. Face it–you will go over your calorie count from time to time. I find that I need to eat more when I have a bad headache, or when I have lost more than 1 pound in a week. But the important thing is to track the calories anyway. If you stop, it will just make it harder to start up again. So I don’t care about blowing it on the days that I go over–I just make sure I track everything.

MyFitnessPal has this wonderful Complete Entry feature, which tells me what I will weigh in five weeks if I eat that many calories every day. It is motivating both ways–when I go over, I see that I will gain if I keep eating that much, and it puts me back on-track. When I am under or on-target, I see how much more I will lose, and I am motivated.

BTW, the predictions have been fairly accurate. It now predicts that I can lose 4 pounds in a month, which is pretty much the rate at which I have been losing, excepting for a plateau or two.

5. Weigh-in over a three-day period, and record the lowest weight. I started weighing myself on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and I record the lowest weight. Why? Because your weight fluctuates so much over the course of a few days. This way, you don’t have to record a discouraging gain on a day when you may be constipated or retaining water. This goes with number 6 …

6. Only record losses. This will probably fly in the face of most advice. I found that when I plateau or have a slight gain, if I record it, it is demotivating. Sometimes, I now reason, it takes me two weeks to lose a pound, instead of just one. So if after a week of faithful calorie counting, if I am at the same weight or slightly over, I wait another week and try again. This gives me another week to lose that pound, and keeps me motivated.

Now if you go two or three weeks without losing any weight at all, or if you gain, you may have to re-evaluate your daily calorie goal, or perhaps stop indulging in so many over-limit days. However–important point, here–this has not happened to me yet. The most I have ever had to go without recording a loss is 2 weeks.

And so, that is what has worked for me.

As ever, if you have health issues, please discuss any potential diet with your doctor before starting. As for me, my doctor told me to lose 20 pounds when he first put me on these blood pressure meds. So I am just about 5 years late in following his advice.

Better late than never?

Dratted, Overcrowded Brain

Today, I got a nice email from Zillow. Why, you ask, would Zillow send me a nice email? Because of this post. They asked that I embed a link in it, and even though the link was rather real-estate-y and this is not a real estate blog, I did what they asked. Because they asked so nicely. Who knows? Maybe the cool architecture will inspire one of you to move to St. Augustine one day.

Lesson learned: It never hurts to ask.

Anyway, when I reviewed the post, I realized I had never written a promised follow-up. Even though I took the trip to St. Augustine and drove down the streets I mentioned. (In my Jeep. With the top down, of course.)

I keep doing that. Forgetting stuff I say I’ll do. I guess I need to come up with a reminder system. So I am going to brush off my old Google Calendar account–the one where I used to keep track of debuts–and have it send me reminders. Because apparently, this brain is overcrowded.

In fact, I think I’d better write a procedure for writing up blog posts. Because I evidently need all the help I can get.

(Nah. Cause if I do, I’m sure to forget I wrote the dratted thing.)

A Needed Break

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I didn’t post last week because I took a staycation and took care of some health issues. Other than a brief trip to visit my mother for 2 nights, I hardly budged outside of my house. I did some serious R&R, as we called it in the military. I played low-stress games like Freecell and Solitaire until I was winning almost every game. I loaded music on my computer and synced them up with my iDevices. I only wrote about a thousand words. I browsed lots of news sites (you may not realize it, but I am quite a news junkie).

I also got my blood pressure managed. Additional dietary choices are now open to me, so I will once again eliminate dairy from my diet. I went the entire month of January without milk, and my intestinal issues and rib pain went away. Unfortunately, my blood pressure also went up because my breakfast without milk has a lot more sodium than plain cereal with milk. Now that I can eliminate dairy again, I am hoping this rib pain will go away again. It kept me up last night for about an hour.

So it was a good week. I don’t want it to end, quite frankly, but that’s why they call it vacation. My husband wants me to schedule another week already. July is looking good.

I decided not to move my website. I am currently using a premium WordPress account, and after reflecting that I have spent zero time worrying about my website over the last year, I decided to stay put. The managed WordPress accounts are too expensive and don’t get me anything that I don’t have here, plus I have been accumulating a few handfuls of WordPress followers (hey guys!) I don’t want to cut them off by moving.

I may, however, redo my theme, and maybe procure a premium theme … if I can find one that is worth the cash.

Financial Tip!

This is my first financial tip ever. But we got our first American Express card and it is really helping our finances. We put all our charges on the AmEx card and pay it off at the end of the month. Nothing else is going on our regular credit card, allowing us to pay it off faster. Plus we are getting lots of AmEx points.

An important note about AmEx cards–they are designed to pay off at the end of the month. So be careful to only use it for planned expenses, like grocery, gas, and small credit card purchases. You do NOT want to be in a position where you are unable to pay off the card at the end of the month. AmEx is designed to be a charge card, not a credit card, and there is a distinct difference.

It is going to totally be worth the 200 dollars to renew at the end of the year.

Writing Update

Chicory, Anne Elizabeth and I were having quite a discussion on epic fantasy and warrior woman tropes in the Back From Hiatus post. They got me to reveal some of the ideas I have been playing with (ahem–paladin story–cough), and we have just been having a good ole time. While my first priority has got to be finishing East of Yesterday, I am finding it difficult to resist working on my paladin story!

Anne Elizabeth recommended I try reading David Weber’s War God series, and I probably will, but it seems to be kind of a spoof of a paladin story. Has anyone ever read any good paladin stories, other than the quintessential Deed of Paksenarrion?