Adding to my routine

City of Palm Springs Aquatic Center
I miss our beautiful Palm Springs city pool.

For one week, I’ve gotten in the pool each day to kick. Tuesday I went back to the Y for the first time in months and lap swam.

Why did I stop with the lap swimming? Mostly it was the weather. Summer in the Arizona desert is cloudy with daily thunderstorms and lightening. Not ideal outdoor swimming weather.

If it’s not storming it’s brilliant intense sunshine which I tend to avoid. Before I knew it, I was out of the lap swimming habit.

I’ve been following “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron for years. At least most of her routine of morning pages, prayer and daily walks. The thing I’ve been missing is the “artist’s date.”

My excuse before was COVID shutdowns.

Now I have no excuse. The artist date is to go out — alone — and experience something to feed your muse. Cameron’s suggestions are looking in antique and fabric stores, go anywhere that will fill your senses and spark your creativity.

I’m going to try a once-a-week date with myself. I’ve added two days of lap swimming, and three days of kicking — now an artist’s date. I think that’s quite enough for now!

What is your morning or daily routine? What would you like to add to it?

Kitty is done with us

Olive the cat in the suitcase.
Every time I pack, this happens. Olive is done with our vacations.

We had a tiring but fun weekend. I’ve decided that a six-hour drive on Friday, followed by six-hours on Sunday to get home, is too much for me.

I don’t mind the long drives like we took to Santa Barbara in August. That’s because we stayed for awhile. My body had time to relax and recover.

We arrived in San Diego Friday with one hour to rest and get read for a 30-minute drive to the wedding venue. What saved us on the drive was listening to “The Rooster Bar” by John Grisham. It’s amazing how books on tape — or Audible — make the drives fly by.

I made the mistake of booking our hotel room in Santee, SC — instead of Santee, CA. Oops.

Who knew there was more than one Santee and they’d have hotels with the exact same name?

The highlight of our trip happened Saturday. We visited my husband’s aunt and uncle who live in Santee (hence the reason I booked a hotel there — or thought I did. Right town, wrong state.) His cousin surprised us and came too with her son from an hour away.

My husband’s uncle is 93 years old. The last time we saw him was August three years ago to celebrate his 90th birthday. Because of COVID and then moving we haven’t visited. I have to say he looks amazing. He’s full of energy. He drives, he shops, he cooks, he waits on his wife — my husband’s aunt. He makes the best Italian food I’ve ever eaten. Luciano (the uncle) came to the US from Italy when he was 30 years old after marrying my husband’s aunt. She met Luciano while she was the city planner of Rome.

After she graduated with a degree from Berkeley in the 1960s, she couldn’t get hired in the U.S. in her field because she was a woman. However, she did get hired in Italy, so she learned Italian and moved.

She’s a dynamo that I’ve always looked up to. Not only has she had an amazing career, she’s written and published at least 15 books. She’s a world traveler and had a series based on a travel agent/murder solver. If you’re interested, here’s a link to R. Ann Siracusa on Goodreads. My favorite book of hers is “Family Secrets: A Vengeance of Tears.”

If that’s not enough, she’s a grandmother who actively takes care of her grandchildren. And she quilts. She taught my daughter and I how to quilt.

Whew, I’m exhausted thinking about these inspiring relatives.

What relatives have motivated and inspired you? What’s your limit for drives on trips?

We’re having a heat wave!

Showing off my new boogie board.

It’s hot. Hotter than at my home in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and we are at the beach. It topped 104 degrees in Santa Barbara yesterday. The only cool place to be is in the ocean.

Taking the advice of fellow blogger of Living in the Gap, Cheryl Oreglia, I bought a boogie board. She didn’t say “buy a boogie board.” She asked if we’d done anything spontaneous lately. If you don’t follow her or read her blog, you’re missing out. She has her first book under contract that will be released in 2023. You can find out more from her latest posts.

I haven’t been in the ocean for several years. First it was my knee surgery from a ski accident. That was 2018 and I was sporting the heavy ACL brace you see on NFL players. Not a good thing for the ocean. Then I worried about waves and babied my knee the next year. The following year there were the Great White Sharks.

I watched my son’s girlfriend surf for hours every day while they visited. She inspired me. I remembered the days when I’d ask the lifeguards to watch my kids while I swam out to a buoy or did a bit of boogie boarding. Then I boogie boarded with my kids as they got older.

The other day, I was hot and I wandered into the ocean knee deep to cool off. It dawned on me — my knee is okay. Also, I had cataract surgery. I don’t have to worry about losing my hard contact lenses that I wore from seventh grade to age 59! Woohoo! One drop of water on my eyes and I’d lose my contacts. It really restricted my ocean adventuring.

I decided to rent a boogie board where my son’s girlfriend rented her surfboard — at the surf shop a quarter mile down the beach from where we hang out. $15 for one to three hours. But I was at the grocery store when I saw a boogie board on sale for $15 because it’s the last weekend of summer. Tough choice.

So I did it. I got back into the ocean after four or five years and I feel like a kid again. The perfect end to our beach vacation. Even with the heat wave. Or especially BECAUSE of the heat wave.

I caught a wave! A little one, but I’m back!

Heatwave, Ella Fitzgerald.

Are you having a heat wave? How do you survive the heat?

Have you done anything spontaneous lately? What was it?

When you eat vs. what you eat

lobster roll and chips
Lobster Roll at Freshies in Park City–the best food I’ve had in Utah.

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that said when you eat can affect your mood. And not just your mood but mood disorders. It was called When We Eat Can Affect Our Mental Health by Alina Dizik.

Here’s an excerpt:

The hunt for connections between our food and our mood is gaining steam in scientific research. New findings show that it isn’t just what we eat but also when we eat that affects how we feel.

Delving into the relationship between eating patterns and the body’s circadian system shows how eating on an unpredictable schedule such as during the body’s resting phase at night can hurt our mood or exacerbate symptoms of mood-related disorders, according to research from Elisa Brietzke, a professor of psychiatry at Queen’s University School of Medicine in Kingston, Ontario, and Elena Koning, a doctoral student at Queen’s University Centre for Neuroscience Studies. Their research builds on earlier studies showing that eating meals at different times each day contributes to weight gain and is linked to depression.

https://www.wsj.com/news/life-work

Their advice is to fast 12 hours at night. In other words don’t eat too close to bedtime. It can interfere with circadian rhythms that I wrote about last week HERE.

It’s also important to stick to the same schedule of eating — even on the weekends.

Here’s more:

MS. KONING: Eating rhythms that aren’t consistent from day to day, or that occur in the incorrect phase, desynchronize the circadian clock, which has a negative impact on mood. It can be hard to pinpoint an exact cause of altered mood, but we know that the brain is susceptible to changes from the body’s energy supply.

A meal eaten in the day has a very different effect on your brain and body than a meal eaten at night. Food is a wake-up cue to the brain and can worsen sleep quality if eaten too close to bed. Melatonin levels start to rise three hours before bed, and the metabolic process following food intake is negatively influenced when the melatonin levels rise. Essentially your body needs at least 12 hours of fasting at night, yet most people only get nine hours.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-we-eat-can-affect-our-mental-health-11660319113?mod=e2tw

Do you stick to a regular schedule for meals? How does your mood get affected if you’re off schedule? Or if you eat too close to bed time?

When I can’t sleep

Saguaro across the street on the nature’s preserve.

If I wake up in the middle of the night, I often turn on a podcast or a radio station and find myself falling back to sleep quickly.

Last night I listened to someone talking about circadian rhythms and something they called “midnight brain.” I fell asleep so of course I only remember a little bit. They were talking about how more crimes happen late at night.

I read an article today on Healthline called Why the Human Mind Is ‘Not Designed’ to Stay Awake Past Midnight.

Here’s an excerpt:

Most people have been tempted to stay up late at some point in their lives. Others may have to work late, often past midnight, due to the nature of their job.

But a new research review, recently published in the journal Frontiers in Network Psychology, suggests that staying awake past midnight may have implications that stem beyond needing an extra cup of coffee the next day. In fact, the study authors suggest that the mind simply isn’t “designed” to be awake into the wee hours of the night.

While prior studies have explored the effects of sleep deprivation on cognition, the new research focuses more specifically on what happens to the human brain when it’s awake past midnight.

The resulting “Mind After Midnight” hypothesis states that the mind isn’t set up to operate as it does in the daytime, and as a result, we’re more likely to make impulsive and even “risky” decisions.

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-the-human-mind-is-not-designed-to-stay-awake-past-midnight

The authors of the study said these four things can happen to those staying up past midnight:

  • suicide and self-harm
  • engaging in violent behaviors
  • use of alcohol and illicit substances
  • higher food intake

The article also mentioned that some people are night owls and are more creative at night. They don’t experience any of the downsides most people do.

My husband has said for years that nothing good happens late at night. I stayed up late as a teenager. Friends and I would try to stay up until the birds sang. It was a badge of honor.

But the older I get, the earlier I fall asleep. In fact, I go to bed so early it causes me to wake up in the middle of the night!

What are your thoughts about circadian rhythms and midnight brain? Are you an early to bed early to rise? Or are you a night owl?

Kitty soup

cat in a cat carrier
Olive waiting for the vet. Not a happy camper.

I realized how much the cat adds to our daily lives when she hasn’t been feeling well for the past few days.

Olive refused to eat over the weekend and didn’t use the litter box. She spent most of the time under the bed in the dark.

I tried to tempt her with Friskies ‘Lil Soup. When I call “Kitty soup!” Olive usually runs to me and answers with a “Meow-oup!”

But to no avail. She wasn’t having any of it.

The vet pumped her up with fluids and meds, did blood work, took X-rays. They aren’t sure what is causing her discomfort, but hopefully the treatment will make her feel better. He said she has “obstipation” which is a new word I learned. It’s chronic or severe constipation.

I want Olive to get back to our routine, where she hangs out in my husband’s office in the mornings, sits on my lap in the afternoon while I read. She enjoys a good game of chase around the coffee table and sofa in the living room.

The vet discovered she has a gallstone that’s quite large with a piece broken off that’s moved into the bile duct. He’s not sure if that’s what causing her discomfort or not. He said it could have been there for years — or not.

Here’s the X-ray:

X-ray of cat's gallstone
The gallstone is the white spotty thing to the left and the small piece to the right and slightly higher.

Naturally, I had to research gallstones and what causes them. One cause is high cholesterol. Another is too much bilirubin. I’m worried about the results of her blood work. The liver could be causing the issues. Not good.

Have you had pets? How do they add to your lives?

Random thoughts

Olive the cat
Olive the cat in the casita.

What’s that sound?

I was sitting in the casita writing with Olive the cat on my lap when “knock knock knock” sounded on the wall. The kitty leaped and tore out of the room. I quickly followed the cat into my husband’s office.

I told him what happened and he went outside to investigate. He came back empty handed, so I guess it was a bird? Maybe a woodpecker.

book cover for Marjorie Post

Book Club

I finished reading my book club selection in a few days. I dedicated time to get it done, plus it was a pleasant, easy read. I was fascinated with the story about the Post cereal heiress and her extravagant life. Her father, C.W. Post, who changed how America ate breakfast with Grape Nuts, raised his only child Marjorie to be a hard worker and ready to take over his business. But as a woman, she didn’t have the right to vote, let alone sit on a Board of Directors. She ran the company, which became General Foods, by proxy — through men including a husband and a friend of her father’s.

I told my husband about the story and he mentioned a TV show called “The Food that Built America.” I watched an episode that included Marjorie Post when she bought Birdseye frozen foods. It also highlighted the dueling Mars and Hershey’s companies.

Movie Day

A neighbor I have never met texted and invited me to her home for movie day. She said the movie is “Lion.” I’ve never seen it, but it sounds interesting. I was instructed to bring a salad. I agreed to go because I am trying everything out to see what I enjoy and to meet people.

A funny thing happened yesterday. This neighbor sent a long winded text going through all the details she’s doing to prepare for movie day –everything from cleaning, cooking to getting her hair done. She sent it to the invitees. Then she texted again embarrassed saying she thought she was texting her daughter!

I have one of the most embarrassing text snafus to share. But I’ll save it for another day!

What are some of the mistakes you’ve made with texts or emails? Have you been on the receiving end of a text error?