Waiting has to be one of my all-time least favorite things to do. Luckily smartphones have made most of the waiting times more bearable. They sure do come in handy when I’m left with nothing to do for 5 or 10 minutes. But when I have to wait for weeks or months there is no such device that can make it any easier.
The past couple of months have been torture for me. Over two months ago Karlo’s regular eye doctor found something strange in his eye. When Karlo told me about this I didn’t really think much of it and wasn’t too concerned about it. They sent Karlo to an eye specialist of some sort and that doctor said that he wanted to “keep an eye it” (not sure if he intended the pun) for about a month to monitor it. I still didn’t put too much thought into it during that first month, but when Karlo went back for a follow up and was told that it was some sort of a tumor and that it was growing rather quickly, now suddenly it got my attention. Getting told that you have an unknown and fast growing tumor inside of you is NEVER a good thing. And the fact that the doctors had no idea what it was or why it might be there was even worse. The only thing I hate more than waiting is uncertainty!
From that point it turned into Karlo needing surgery to remove the tumor. If it was up to me it should have been done that very minute, but of course that can’t happen in the real world. First you need to schedule all sorts of pre-op appointments and then you have to find a time when the hospital can squeeze you in. It was going to be another 3 weeks of waiting. Torture.
And then to make it even worse the doctor had to postpone an entire extra week. Pretty soon I was going to need a doctor to cure my anxiety!
Finally, the surgery day came and I couldn’t be happier that it was finally going to happen. The removal of the tumor went off without a hitch and that certainly gave us some relief, but yet there was still more waiting to be done. Now they had to send the unknown object to pathology and we were to wait SOME MORE for the results. No distraction in the world was going to make that easier for me, but somehow I got through it. We finally got the news that everything is going to be OK. The tumor was not anything dangerous. Still nobody knows what it was or why it started to grow on Karlo’s eye, but we are very very grateful that it was nothing serious.
Now let’s not do that again anytime soon.
I am happy to report that our duck relocation program was a success. And it couldn’t have happened at a better time. After a few days of suspecting something was up with one of our ducks, Karlo did some investigative work only to find a dead duck in the duck house. How bizarre that she died sitting on her eggs. No predator this time, she just plain stopped breathing. How very sad, not only to lose another duck, but my heart also broke for the lone little ducky. That poor girl spent about a week all alone, quacking up a storm. She must have been so scared and lonely.
So what did we do? We scared her more. Much more.
Karlo has been working on his sneaky little plan to capture and relocate the ducks for several weeks. We noticed that the ducks were still hiking up to their old pen for some occasional snacks. All we needed to do was stumble upon them in their pen, sneak up and shut the door. Well, that was easier said than done, but by some miracle Karlo managed to do it last weekend. There was more of a sense of urgency upon us now that we had a solo duck and the pond was already starting to show signs of freezing.
The whole plot couldn’t have worked out any better. The duck must have been really hungry because she literally walked right in front of a service van that was trying to drive out of our driveway. The guy had to stop his vehicle and wait for the little quack to slowly make her way across the driveway. Since she was displaying such braveness Karlo got the sense that he should put his plan into action soon. The service guy finally was able to drive past the duck crossing and Karlo went about his business of blowing leaves, while always keeping one eye on the duck.
Sure enough she waddled her way into the pen to eat and that’s when Karlo sprung to action. He was very sneaky in that he left his leaf blower on, placed it on the ground and while the load roar of the gasoline engine lulled the duck into a false sense of security that the human was still far away, he ran across the yard and slammed the duck pen closed.
Oh, we had one upset duck on our hands!
Luckily we had already made some arrangements with a friend that happens to have a flock of ducks of his own. We packed up our little quack for a road trip and off we went with a duck in the box. She didn’t make one single peep for the entire 45 minute ride. The only noise we occasionally heard was the pitter patter or webbed feet tap dancin on the cardboard when Karlo drove around corners. A little duckie seat belt would have been very handy!
For someone who wanted nothing to do with getting into a box she really wanted nothing to do with getting OUT of the box. I only wish I had a video of the little duck feet moving a million miles an hour backwards to avoid slipping down and out of the box as Karlo kept tipping it up. Eventually gravity took over and out she fell. Nothing was more pathetic than watching her stand in her new cage (which was quite the nice ducky diggs!) all by her lonesome self. Little did she know that pretty soon she would have an entire new family to join.
I’m sure by now she has assimilated into the pack, has made new friends, and has shown off her fine flying skills to all the other non-flying ducks. I hope she’s happy in her new home. I can’t help but to think about her constantly when I’m at home . . . and it’s too quiet here. I keep looking out the back windows to the empty pond I’m gonna miss those buggers!
The only redeeming thing to this time of year is the thrill of shopping. I love the hunt for good deals in all the holiday craziness. I love it when I stumble over a great gift for a loved one and I love it even more when I stumble over my next favorite thing. You never know when one is hiding around the corner. And sometimes it’s really surprising when something makes my list that belongs in the kitchen and that’s exactly what happened this year. Who would have thunk I would ever put a kitchen appliance on my list?
I keep making these lists every year, mostly because I enjoy looking back to see what it was that tickled my fancy in previous years. It never fails that some of things that were all the rage last year are barely a memory this year. For instance, last year I was in love with prepared delivered foods and this year we hardly used the service at all. Go figure.
Well, without anymore further rambling here is my “Paula’s Favorite Things” list for 2013 – in no particular order . . .
Vanilla Pear Seltzer
At some point during this year I stumbled upon this flavor seltzer and I absolutely fell in love with it. I couldn’t drink enough of them. Sadly I haven’t been able to consistently find them, but when I see them I must have them. Why anybody would drink soda when this stuff exists is beyond me.
There is no doubt that something warm makes my list every year and this year is no exception. Karlo bought me an amazing pair of lithium ion battery operated gloves that are life changing. I think we have finally nearly solved my “dot” problem. Although I didn’t go completely un-afflicted last year, the number and severity of my condition was greatly reduced thanks to these God-sent gloves. Now there is no excuse for me not going out to play in the cold. Bring it on!
Yes, my love and devotion to cashmere continues. It’s like a drug. Once you experience it you can’t imagine life without it. Once again, Karlo bought me this present for Christmas and it will remain my all time favorite scarf for the rest of my life. It’s a piece of Heaven around my neck keeping me warm and cozy. Almost made me forget about how much pain my neck was in all Winter long.
Full Length Lined Leather Coat
OK this is the last warming device on the list, I promise. It has been years of hunting for the perfect winter coat. You can not imagine the amount of hours that both me and Karlo have spent searching online for the perfect coat only to be left completely disappointed and resolved to the fact that the perfect coat simply did not exist. And that was true. It didn’t exist . . . in this country. But leave it to me to find the perfectly warm winter coat on a tropical island! Unlike most coats here in the USA this one fits me to a T and the combination of thick lining and leather is amazing. I’ll keep this coat until it disintegrates.
Coconut Rum, Coconut Flakes, Coconut Milk, Coconuts . . .
A coat wasn’t the only thing I fell in love with in Mexico. Seems every since our last visit I’ve become slightly addicted to all things coconut. Enough said.
Ninja Food Prep Machine
Well here it is . . . history in the making . . . I’m adding a kitchen gadget to my Favorite Things list. Not sure how this happened, but it did. During the Summer I was on a smoothie kick and my blender was not cutting it. It got to the point where the yummy smoothie was hardly worth the aggregation of fighting with the useless blender. This Ninja thing is amazing and brilliant. I just love it when things actually work they way they are intended. What a concept. The brilliance of this blender, chopper, processor is the multiple blades. Rather than just one set of blades at the bottom of the machine there are 2 or 3 sets (depending on which size device you are using) that chop the food in multiple places. Works like a charm every single time and when it’s time to clean, the blades come completely out so you don’t slice your fingers washing the containers. It’s just too bad there are never any ripe bananas in the house to blend.
Nikon Coolpix 7700
Since I already wrote an extensive review of this camera. I’ll just add it to the list and leave it at that.
Bud Light Lime-a-Rita
I get teased over this one, but I don’t care. I love these things and they became my ultimate Summer go-to drink. No blender or limes required. You just crack them open and pour over ice. Done. The only down side of them is that they are so darn good I drink them way too fast. I’m so looking forward to next Summer . . .
Oprah & Deepak Meditations
Karlo and I have made a commitment to meditation and I would say that it all started early last year when we tried our first Deepak 21-day meditation challenge. We have since done 4 of these challenges and liked them so much that we bought the entire series so we can do them daily. We’ve tried meditating many times before, but it’s just plain hard to do. I have to say, of all the meditations I’ve tried these are the easiest and most fun. Seems there is a free one offered every couple of months so you should keep your eyes out for one. https://chopracentermeditation.com/about-us
I’ve been wanting an activity monitor for a long time, but after researching several I just didn’t think they were up to snuff and would actually work. Finally I broke down and gave one a shot. Yes, the reviews are partially true, it may be just a glorified and expensive pedometer, but something about it actually motivates. I live for the feeling of the device vibrating on my wrist to let me know I achieved my daily goal. You can set your own goals for things like steps, active minutes, calories, etc. Of course, you do have to log your own calories and non-walking/running workouts. Now if it magically knew what you were consuming and every calorie you were burning it would really be ideal, but I suppose I need to be patience for that device to get invented. It’s only a matter of time. But in the meantime, this thing helps to motivate me to walk 10,000 steps a day (roughly 5 miles). It tracks my progress and not only displays it on my wrist but also syncs to my phone where I can check all the stats. It can even track my sleeping patterns and best of all it’s my silent alarm clock that not only knows to shut down on the weekends, but knows when I travel to different time zones. The only feature that I wish it had was the inactivity buzzer where it buzzes to tell you to get up and walk. I could really use that at the office, but for now I’ll just use Karlo as my get up and move alarm. Glorified pedometer or not, I think it’s worth $100 for the extra motivation to get me moving more.
That was the question to focus on during a recent meditation that Karlo and I did. We just started another 30-day meditation challenge hosted by Deepak Chopra. This is the fourth one of it’s kind that we have done and we simply love them. If you’re interested in checking it out, it’s free, and you can find more info here.
Anyway, during this recent meditation we were to really focus on asking ourselves the question, “Who am I?” At the end of the session Deepak explains that we are our deepest desire. I thought, “Gosh that is so deep” and it really made me wonder further who I really was. What was my deepest desire??? I started to think about my burning desires to be creative, to make things, to learn things. I decided that was my purpose for being alive. I’m meant to learn how to make creative things! That is what I spend most of my free time doing and that is what brings me the most joy.
So at the conclusion of the meditation I just couldn’t wait to ask Karlo, “Well, who are YOU?” And without a second of hesitation he answered, “I’m a banana!” Because, at that present moment his deepest desire was for a banana. sigh. I’m not totally sure, but I’m thinking the whole meditation process might be wasted on him.
The photo above represents less than a one-week supply of bananas in our house. I think I married a monkey!
This morning Karlo and I took a glorious early morning hike. The conditions were perilous with all the wet leaves making very slippery conditions. Karlo got used to constantly looking back to make sure I will still upright. Given my recent track record (doing a complete face plant on the pavement during an afternoon walk) he’s been overly cautious with me. And I, in turn, have been a bit more careful than usual. I can honestly say that I didn’t like the feeling of my check bone hitting the ground, nor did I like the crazy amounts of pain I endured for the few days after. So I was taking my time on the trail, being very careful with every step and Karlo had many opportunities to look back at me. During one of these backward glances he made a comment about me being such “a fashionable hiker.” I had to laugh. Fashionable??? What on Earth was making me fashionable? I couldn’t have looked more blah and ho hum. Everything I was wearing was a blah color and nothing actually coordinated or went together in the slightest way. Let’s just say that my outfit was not going to make my “outfit of the day” photo.
Karlo couldn’t really justify what made him say that, but it did start me thinking. It made me take a closer look at my hiking outfit and that’s when it hit me that everything I was wearing was a “name brand.” I had on Garmont hiking shoes, Columbia pants, a First Ascent by Eddie Bauer fleece, a Mountain Hardware jacket, and North Face gloves. Now normally I couldn’t care less about brands. In fact, I would be hard pressed to list a dozen high fashion brands. I never shop by brand. I buy things I like, despite the label and I would never ever buy something based solely on the label. I just never fell victim to that nonsense. I’m not out to impress anyone with my designer brands.
So it’s funny how I know every single high tech brand there is. Not only do I know the brands, but I have them categorized in my head and ranked based on past performance. I know exactly which ones work for me personally. Which ones fit me the best and are the most comfortable. When it comes to fashion, as far as I can see, we buy based on the prestige of the label. It’s not like any of those clothes are more comfortable or built with any more quality. It’s just a matter of whose names carry more clout.
When buying my “play clothes” the comfort, fit, and performance mean everything. It can make or break whatever activity you are doing and you better have the right clothes for the right occasion. It’s funny that it would positively pain me to spend $50 on a pair of jeans, but picking up a pair of Pearl Izumi bike shorts on the sale rack for that price makes me giddy. I feel like spending the money on biking clothes is ‘worth it’ compared to some fancy jeans that are no better than the non-fancy ones.
I still remember the day I found a Smart Wool bike shirt in a TJ Maxx. I was with my highly fashionable friend Tina who was never more confused in her life. I acted like I just found a winning lottery ticket when I picked this shirt up. And it was my size!!!! It was a miracle. I never found a bike shirt in a TJ Maxx before or since. Even in TJMaxx the shirt was still about $40, but that was a total bargain. I wasn’t sure if Tina was shaking her head in disbelief or disgust, but she just didn’t get it. Why on Earth would I spend that money on such an ugly shirt when the store was filled with fashion?
I find it easy to resist the lure of high fashion because I don’t know one brand from the other. I like it that way. I think I’m happy just being a fashionable hiker.
I recently watched a photography lesson where the instructor gave a lengthy discussion on the difference between looking and seeing. The lesson itself was “How to See Like a Photographer.” They were very careful in the wording of this lesson and the entire point was to illustrate the difference between “looking” and “seeing.” A great example was a person looking for their misplaced keys. I’m sure it would be easy to imagine a scene where you run frantically around all the rooms in your house looking for your car keys. You start in the most obvious place (the kitchen and the kitchen counters – the notorious place to accumulate miscellaneous things). You look and look and when you discover the keys are not there you start to extend your search to other rooms. You retrace your steps in hopes of going back to the spot where you last saw the missing keys. After many minutes of frustration you finally break down and ask your family members to help you. Come to find out, your spouse finds the keys sitting on the counter, right under your nose, despite the fact that you looked there several times. The problem was that you were “looking” for the keys, but not “seeing” exactly what was on the counter.
Our brains use our memory to fill in the blanks on so many things. Whenever we look around at scenes that we are familiar with we are really only seeing half of the matter. Our brains automatically fill in the rest with what it thinks should be there. We really only “see” things properly when we see them for the first time. In those instances our brains don’t have the past experience to override reality. The lesson I was watching suggested spending 5 minutes purposefully looking at objects around the room, pointing to them and calling them by some other completely different object. For instance, look at and point to your telephone and say “umbrella.” Continue to do this for several minutes until your brain is so confused that it will start to really see things for what they are.
One of the biggest reasons why I love photography so much is that it forces me to see the world differently. When I’m looking for a shot I really open my eyes and take the time to see things in a much different way than I normally would.
Yesterday I realized that this theory also applies to listening. During my morning run I had my headphones on (like I always do) and I was listening to the same old play list (like I always do) and l listened to the same songs that I’ve heard hundreds of times. Despite the fact that I’ve “heard” them hundreds of times, yesterday I became aware that I never really “listened” to the lyrics. Normally music is playing in the background when you’re busy doing other things. You hear the melody and the tunes, but it’s nearly impossible to really listen unless that is all you are doing. Playing music through headphones seems to make all the difference. Suddenly you can hear the words, and not only just hear the words, but listen to the story and understand the meaning.
The song that made me realize this was Jack Johnson’s “Cookie Jar.” After waking up to news about a young man opening fire with an assault weapon at LAX I suddenly became interested in the story that Jack was telling through this song. Here’s a sample of some of the lyrics:
“Well, it wasn’t me,” says the boy with the gun,
“Sure I pulled the trigger, but it needed to be done,
Because life’s been killing me ever since it begun.
You can’t blame me, ‘cuz I’m too young.”
“You can’t blame me; sure the killer was my son,
But I didn’t teach him to pull the trigger of the gun.
It’s the killing on this TV screen.
You can’t blame me; it’s those images he’s seen.”
“Well, you can’t blame me,” says the media man,
“Well I wasn’t the one who came up with the plan.
And I just point my camera what the people want to see.
Man, it’s a two-way mirror and you can’t blame me.”
“You can’t blame me,” says the singer of the song
Or the maker of the movie which he bases life on.
“It’s only entertainment and as anyone can see,
Its smoke machines and make up man, you can’t fool me.”
It was you, it was me, it was every man.
We’ve all got the blood on our hands.
We only receive what we demand,
And if we want hell, then hell’s what we’ll have . . . .
How many times have I “heard” this song, but this was the first time that I really listened to it. It made realize how disappointing it must be to be the artist with a serious message to tell the world, and the world is happily buying the music up and playing it daily, but in many instances completely missing the intended message. The whole experience just made me realize how much of life we are missing by not going out of our way to pay attention. Our brains have a way of putting us on cruise control and sailing through life without taking it all in. It really does takes some effort to see (rather than look) and listen (rather than hear) the world around us.
I just love it when my city-slicker friends come out to visit us. I always feel the need to remind them to “bring sensible shoes” and “don’t forget a warm jacket” and “make sure you get off the right exit or you’ll kill your car on Jeep trails.” I’m going to miss all of these warnings and reminders to visitors. Some day our only instructions to visitors will be “make sure you have some patience” because that is all that will be required to get to us.
But it is nice to watch our guests that aren’t used to being “out in the country” enjoy their visit. They comment on how they never seen so many leaves on the ground, or how much colder it is at our place, or how much they like the smell of fire. It’s even kind of funny to watch them completely wipe out the second their feet touch the “trail” despite the sensible shoes. I couldn’t resist telling my girlfriend’s daughter that she was “such a city girl” when she landed on her butt in our back yard. She got a kick out of my “Welcome to the country” comment as I helped her up! There is no doubt that visiting our place is an experience for most who come out.
This weekend was another great adventure for my friend Tina and her kids. We had such a fun visit and got the chance to stroll around in the back yard goofing off. The girls had their cameras out snapping shots left and right and even Karlo was taking part in the action with his new trusty camera. Go figure that I was the only one camera-less! I guess that was because I trusted that Karlo had me covered. He’s getting to be quite good behind the camera already. I’m so proud of him!