If someone had told me several months ago that I’d turn into a gym rat I would have laughed. While I’m not at the gym every day, I’m there at least 3 times a week lately and trying to figure out how to fit even more exercise time into my schedule. It definitely helps me deal with all the stress and I’m starting to like the way I feel afterwards.

Besides keeping a busy gym schedule, I’ve also been having more fun with friends. Yesterday, I had high tea with Betsy at the Four Seasons. It was very pleasant to sit in front of the fireplace with tea, champagne and scones. We followed up with another glass of champagne at The Matchbox and a chat with some of the patrons. [Betsy: I still can’t believe that I introduced you to the place less than a year ago and YOU are now considered one of the diehard regulars!] 

I could have stayed there all night, but thought it best not to tempt myself in such a way. Instead, I went back home to take care of the pets and change, then hustled over to my sister’s for a home cooked dinner and a rental movie.

This afternoon it was another movie — an afternoon matinee — and I cooked the dinner afterwards. We went to see Doubt, which was stunning and had us talking quite a bit afterwards. Philip Seymour Hoffman is such an awesome actor and Meryl Streep was amazing in this role. Now I only have The Reader and Milk left to see in preparation for the Academy Awards.

I guess it’s lucky that I’m spending so much time at the gym as my other diversions seem to involve mostly sitting around in front of screens these days: movie screens, TV screens, and laptop screens.

Another holiday survived

This was a rough holiday for me, but thanks to my wonderful friends I’ve survived it. Yesterday was a hard day for me for some reason. I was supposed to be working, but found it difficult to sit still again. I was back to having to stay in motion.

After an hour long cardio session at the gym, I still couldn’t sit still so I worked in the kitchen. I made bread. I made a dozen muffins. I pulled the meat off a roast chicken and set it aside for chicken salad. I washed up all the dishes, and still I couldn’t abide to sit down at home.

The original plan for my Christmas eve was to drive out to my dad’s house. But I was afraid to brave the icy expressway by myself and had to cancel. The thought of sitting at home with Mark last night was too much for me, though. So, last night I drove over to Jamie’s with some snacks and what was left of my bottle of MacAllen’s 12-year old single malt scotch for a girls night.

While I was weepy during the drive and when I first got there, things started looking up after we settled down. We ordered Thai food, drank scotch (not necessarily a good combination), kvetched, watched a movie (The Village), and knit. And I felt so much better. I was able to come home and slip into bed with a night cap (brandy this time, as the scotch was all gone) and a good book and sleep well.

Today’s sunrise was incredibly beautiful: pink, orange, and gold. It was clear and sunny today, although it was quite cold this morning. The chickens got their warm morning mash, and then I slipped back into bed for a bit more rest time. By 9:00 AM I was up and making coffee. Then it was time to shower, dress, and finish some last minute wrapping before heading out the door to pick up my sister, neice and nephew for the drive out to my mom’s house.

One of the good things that is coming out of this major change in my life is that I’m getting to spend more time with my neice and nephew. My neice (Ashley) is 21 and my nephew (Colin) is 15. They are both a lot of fun to be around and help me keep up with pop culture so I don’t feel so old and stodgy. I enjoy the long drives out to my mother’s house or my father’s house with them. My sister is also a lot better to be around now that she is working her program.

So it was a fun trip out to my mom’s where we ate a great meal, exchanged some lovely and thoughtful gifts, and then had to drive back too soon. My mom lives in a rural area and the side roads are very icy and treacherous; we didn’t want to be on them after dark, so we had to leave fairly early. But the drive home was fun as we played the “animal game” (what animal am I?) and motored along on fairly uncrowded expressways into the city.

As long as I have such wonderful people to be around, I know I’m going to be OK. I’m not christian nor am I inclined to be very religiously observant. But I am grateful for the past 24 hours. Thank you.

Wintery Mix

Oh, how I hate that phrase! Lately, the weather reports have included the following: extreme cold, snow, or “wintery mix.” We’re having that last one now, and it is likely the worst.

A “wintery mix” means that there will be precipitation of all kinds during a weather event. So far this morning, it’s been freezing rain, sleet, and snow, and it changes back and forth at whim.

This makes for treacherous conditions for any pedestrian or car. You’re ambling along just fine, and then you hit the results of this wintery mix: slushy, crusty, slippery, icy snow. Likely you will end up on your rear or in the ditch, depending on the way you’ve been moving (in a car or on foot).

The other thing making me cranky is that I had to dig out the end of the driveway this morning. Again.

It’s incredibly irritating that the plowing service for the condominiums across the alley continues to dump snow at the end of my driveway. If I could catch the guy I’d tell him to stop it, but he seems to come in the dead of night or something.

I called the management company to request that they pass on the message, but I don’t have much confidence that the irritated woman who answered my call will do so. She must be upset to be working Christmas Eve.

Well, at least I got a good workout of my arms while shoveling.

I’m supposed to go to my father’s tonight for Christmas Eve, but I’m thinking that won’t happen now. It’s daunting enough to drive 75 miles one way on my own along various expressways [I’m not sure if the heavily traveled portions or the sparsely traveled portions are the most intimidating]. The current weather situation makes it more complicated. I’d rather not risk black ice on Interstate 80.

So, I think it will be another night to enjoy the comforts of home. Last night I made beef stew in the slow cooker and there is plenty left over. I have one DVD from the library left to view, and I fixed the satellite yesterday [it just needed to have some stuff cleaned off around the connections]. I’ve been a good girl and have done an hour of cardio at the gym already today. I even cleaned the chicken coop this morning, so the birds have fresh leaves to snuggle down into tonight.

Here’s hoping for a peaceful night. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, have a merry one!

And now for something completely different

Just to update on other things in my life (code word for d-i-v-o-r-c-e), there was supposed to be a big meeting of the lawyers last Thursday. Supposed to be. Mark’s lawyer cancelled at the last minute. What a surprise.

I have to say that was a bad day for me. At one point during the evening, I closed myself off in my bedroom, beat a pillow against the wall and yelled “*ucker” at the top of my lungs over and over.

How much more clear can I be here: I just want this over with. As soon as possible. Now that it’s inevitable, I want it ended and Mark’s lawyer — and Mark’s incredible passivity in just letting his lawyer call the shots — is making it difficult to finish it all.

At this point, it’s clear no meeting will happen before Christmas, and I highly doubt anything will happen before the new year. So…it just goes on and on. I wonder if I’ll be divorced by spring…


It’s been so cold here that I just don’t want to go outside. Yesterday morning, it was -4F and this morning it was -1F when I got up to open up the chicken coop. And those temps don’t include the wind chill, which got as low as -30F on Sunday.

I’ve been impressed that the chickens have been able to do OK in this weather. They don’t wander around the run that much, but everyone is still doing just fine. I start them out with a warm mash every morning, and that seems to get them going. I don’t get an egg every day, but it’s a perpetual surprise: one egg, two eggs, no eggs, which will it be today?

I’ve been working from home quite a bit lately as the weather has been alternately bitter cold or snowy. Trying to struggle through either on a commute that isn’t strictly necessary is something to avoid, I say. So, thank goodness for high speed Internet at home and an employer with a generous telecommuting policy.

It’s so cold that the satellite won’t work. I’ve got DVDs I rented from the library, though, so I’m going to snuggle under some polar fleece throws and keep working on my February Lady sweater. Maybe by February it will finally be finished. *sigh*

Animal house

The kids are growing up. *sniff, sniff*

Over the past few days I’ve seen Marshall definitely trying to fulfill his rooster destiny with the ladies. So far, none of them are having anything to do with him.

I must say, he really needs to work on his approach if he wants to get anywhere. Reaching out and rudely grabbing a hen by the neck feathers then trying to jump her is so…sophmoric.

Marshall’s crude approaches may be one of the reasons I’m seeing such an interesting roosting pattern these days, too. Little Selma — one of original 3 Red Star hens — started sleeping in the same coop as Marshall and Speedy, abandoning Maisy and Betty. Actually, I’ve seen Selma slip in the other coop here and there over the past month or so anyway, but once Missy died it has become a regular occurance.

Then a few nights ago, Betty moved coops, too. This left poor Maisy all alone at night. I just couldn’t let her spend the night on her own so I moved her to the coop with the rest of the chickens. After all, it is getting down into the teens at night and I think that warrants snuggling up with others. Plus, recall that all my Red Star hens are *still* molting and don’t have the benefit of full plumage right now. Tonight, I had to move Maisy again. This is getting to be a routine!

I sort of think that Maisy doesn’t want to bed down with Marshall in the same coop. She has evaded him every time he tries to get her, and then turned right around to show him who’s boss. Maisy is one tough female!

Then today we reached another milestone: Speedy laid her first egg. Hooray!! It’s a beautiful, small pullet egg for sure, and coupled with the eggs I got from Maisy and Betty, today we are back to a 3 egg day. Woot!!

Good thing the chickens are doing so well, as the dogs seem to be on the outs with each other. This afternoon, Sadie and Hannah got in quite a snarl fest with each other, and they continue to slink around giving each other the stink eye.

I think that my heightened tension and low mood may have something to do with their problems. Plus I’ve been much too indulgent of Hannah lately, which also tends to tip the balance in how they interact with each other. Dogs are so *different* than people. My being more lavish with attention and letting Hannah snuggle up to me on the couch leads to a change in hierarchy, which leads to a fight. Oy, the challenges of trying to balance my human need for snuggling and affection with the dog perception that this means a change in the pack leader structure is so inconvenient, to say the least!

I’m going to have to take another Xanax tonight, I just know it. Today the bank’s appraisal of the house came in and tomorrow the lawyers meet. I’m tense with anticipation: is it worth holding onto the house if that is *all* that I get? Would I really be comfortable with a bunch of monthly bills that I must pay all by myself, with NO cash reserve in the bank to back me up if needed? That’s the way it is looking, my friends: house or cash. Which will it be?

I know Mark will take the cash and gladly, but I really didn’t want to uproot myself and turn my life even more topsy turvy than it already is. If I gave up the house, I’d have to give up my garden, my chickens, and possibly my dogs. I’d have to pack and look for alternate housing. I’d have to show the house and put it up for bid in this crazy, scary real estate market.

I’m hoping that Mark and his lawyer will see the fact that I want the house as a good thing for them and cut me a bit of slack. He could take his chance with the housing market and get no assured rate of return on his investment, or he could take my assured equity cash out of  a certain amount with some concessions — help with the closing costs and legal fees, for example.

So, we’ll see how things go tomorrow. For tonight, I’ll take what comfort I can in single malt scotch and big pharma.

It just won’t stop

…snowing. I think we’ll get the maximum predicated amount of 6 inches before this is over. Yikes!

I’m supposed to get to the gym early tomorrow for an hour of cardio, but we’ll see if that can happen. First I’ll have to shovel out the driveway which may be workout enough!

Tuesdays aren’t a day I usually work from home, but I did today due to some early morning meetings. I took the rare opportunity to go over to the gym and try out a Vinyasa Flow yoga class there. I’ve been to many different yoga classes over the years and just haven’t found one that I feel comfortable in. I’m not sure about this one either.

I found myself  stopping the flow and going down to rest in Child Pose a couple times because I just couldn’t hold the pose we were doing. I like to think this was partly due to the fact that I did a major leg workout yesterday and my muscles were sort of shocky. There are parts of me that ache now that didn’t ache earlier today, that’s for sure.

The really disturbing thing was the second time I did this and found myself starting to cry. I’ve cried during yoga before, too, but I like to think of that as an exception. I was able to pull myself together and resumed the class, but since then I’ve been feeling sad and wanting to cry off and on.

I’m just trying to allow myself space, as I apparently need it. Tonight I was supposed to go to the Windy City Knitting Guild meeting, but decided it wouldn’t be a good idea because of this crazy weather. So instead I will feed myself well, spend a bit of time relaxing, and then…start shoveling. Sigh.


When it comes to my health and fitness, I’ve made a lot of changes over the past several months, and I’m pleased to see them finally paying off. I reached a big milestone late last week: I was able to wear a suit that I couldn’t put on for about a year. Woot!!

I started getting dressed that morning by putting on the pants to a suit that bought just last July in a concession to the fact that I just *had to* have at least one decent suit to wear to work when the occasion called for it. I put the pants to the suit on, and then realized they were very baggy on me. So, I decided to take the plunge and try on the pants to one of my suits that I’ve been forced to just look at for many, many months. They fit. And I mean it wasn’t just that I could squeeze into them, I mean they really fit the way they are supposed to. Woot!!

When I got home that night, inspired by the success of working a full day wearing smaller pants that hadn’t once seemed too binding or uncomfortable, I put on a pair of jeans that had seemed a bit too tight a couple months ago, and was happy that they fit comfortably. The nice work pants I typically wear are looser on me, too. And just in time as I often have to wear another layer under my pants now due to the onset of winter. A pair cotton or wool tights do add a little extra bulk, you now.

I’ve made so many changes that it’s hard to point to just one that has made the difference. So maybe it’s the combination of them all. What have I been doing?

Taking my 1/2 grain of Armour thyroid every day. I had my thyroid levels checked just a few weeks ago and my TSH is now down to .8. That would seem to be on the low end, but it’s working for me. Interestingly, my free T3 and free T4 have hardly changed.

Exercising more. I had been working with the trainer 2 days a week only. About a month ago, I started adding another day to my gym schedule just to do cardio on my own. I work out one hour on either the elliptical, treadmill, or recumbant bike. For the past couple weeks, I’ve been working with the trainer only one day, and then following a program he gives me on my own later in the week. So, I’m working out 3 times a week with cardio and strength training. I’d like to add another day of just cardio or yoga, but I have to figure out how to work this into my schedule first.

Taking my supplements every day. I’m not certain if this is contributing to the weight loss or not, but I’m sticking to it. The doctor ordered me to take 2000 units of Vitamin D a day, but I’m taking more like 3000 units when I add up what is in all of my daily supplements: Vitamin D (2000 units), multi-vitamin/mineral tablet (400 units vit D), cod liver oil capsule (10o+ units vit D, plus omega-3s), calcium (plus 400 units vit D), B complex. And, I’m continuing my weekly 1000 units of B-12 via IM ingection.

Eating differently, including eating less. This one is complex to explain. First, I stopped eating cow dairy as recommended by the doctor based on the food sensitivity tests. Over the past 2 months, I only “fell off the wagon” once when I had some dessert on Thanksgiving day that was made with milk and cream. [Days 3 and 4 after that I suffered from extreme fatigue….hmmm…think this is a cause and effect situation?] So, to ensure that I do not consume ANY cow dairy inadvertantly (remember that casein and whey, both cow dairy by-products, are potential ingredients in processed or restaurant food) I have been eating food made by my own hands 90% of the time. I have eaten out about a once a week, but I ask about/review ingredients very carefully.

I’ve cut down on portion sizes, too. Whereas I would eat the full meal in a restaurant in the past, I typically eat about half of it now and take the rest home for later.

Snacking happens much less frequently, too. I do have  a snack occasionally, but I’m careful to keep it small and controlled in size.

That’s it.

Yes, there is hard work involved here. I have to schedule in time at the gym and sweat through the workouts (ewwww! I hate to sweat!), as well as schedule in time for meal prep. But I’m feeling and looking so much better now.

And I’m going to keep this up because there are still more lovely suits in my closet that are even smaller sized that I’d like to wear. As well as more jeans, dresses, blouses, and etc. (Thank goodness there is *lots* of closet space in this house!)

Hooray, hooray, hooray!

Full cycle

Missy, one of my Delaware pullets, died. I’m not certain what happened, but I discovered her dead and stiff this morning while I was letting the chickens out of their coops. She was laying on her side, halfway in and halfway out of the coop door.

That detail distracted me for a moment, as I KNOW I shut the doors on the coops last night. It’s possible I didn’t push the door hard enough to lock it, I guess, and the others pushed the door open so they get into the run. There’s no way Missy froze to death as it the temps were actually rising last night.

I examined her body closely looking for some sort of clue as to why she had died. I didn’t see any marks on her, nor did I see anything that looked like mites or parasites had been at work. She was fleshed out well, and otherwise looked very robust.

Yesterday I had to leave for work exceptionally early (just after 6 AM) and by the time I came home it was dark and all the chickens were inside their coops. I therefore had no time to observe behavior yesterday, although I had been home the day before and didn’t see anything unusual.

Missy was a 23 week old pullet. She hadn’t started laying yet, and her comb and wattles were barely developed. (She seemed to be lagging as the comb and wattles on the other Delaware pullet, Speedy, are much more developed.) I doubt she was eggbound, but the only explanation I can come up with is that she had some sort of impaction. As I looked at her vent, I could see some fecal material lodged there and it looked like the flesh surrounding it was much too reddish: as if the inner tissue was exposed and torn.

As a days old chick, Missy earned her name due to the fact that she suffered from “pasting up,” a potentially deadly problem that can occur in chicks where fecal material gets stuck around the vent and plugs them up. The solution is to monitor a chick with this condition closely and manually clear away the droppings from the vent whenever they start to accumulate. I started calling her Miss Poopy Butt, which I shortened to Missy as she matured and I could stop wiping her bottom all the time. It almost seems as if she was meant to go this way.

I didn’t see Missy hatch, but I got her when she was one day old. So now I feel like I’ve experienced nearly the full cycle of chicken life: as a chick, as a pullet, as a hen, and now, at death.

Rest in peace, Missy. I tried to give you the good life, and I think I succeeded. I’ll miss you.

Thinking sunny thoughts

It’s a gray, wet day here in Chicago. We started getting rain over night that is washing away the snow from the last storm. For folks who love snow, though, the news isn’t all bad. The rain will turn to snow later today or tonight, leaving us with about an inch on the ground.

So, I’m thinking about sunny places today. Sometime in the past few days I saw an ad for Puerto Rico on TV and now I’m tempted to go there. I’ve promised myself a short vacation after the divorce is final, and since we will be in the depths of winter a trip someplace sunny is a must. After all, I have to do all I can to boost my lagging Vitamin D levels, right? Wonder if I could write such a trip off on my taxes as a medical necessity…hmmm…

In other news, our governor is a making national headlines for being taken into custody by the Feds. What an idiot. Trying to sell a Senate seat and holding up public funds until he gets campaign contributions are the signs of a true douchebag.

The folks in this state have been disgusted with G-Rod’s knuckleheaded behavior for some time, so we’re more than ready to get him out of the position. It would be great to get a decent governor in office again. Almost as great as a trip someplace warm and sunny.