Category Archives: Exhaustion

Scaling back

Late Saturday night, I realized I’d spent nearly 10 straight hours doing blog-related stuff and STILL didn’t have a whole week’s worth of posts filed, and I ended up so tired and frustrated, it literally made me sick. It occurred to me that I’ve taken something I started for fun and made it stressful. That’s really screwed-up.

My New Year’s resolution was to do less, live more, and hopefully spend less time battling the stress-related health problems that plagued me for most of 2016. To that end, I’m making some changes around here:

Vegetarian Friday. When I started this feature in 2014, my goal was to try one new vegetarian recipe every week for a year in an effort to incorporate more plant-based meals into our diet. Posting them was a way to keep myself honest. Three years later, a good 80 percent of the meals I cook are vegetarian, probably a fourth are vegan, and I’ve learned a lot about staging food photos. The most important thing I’ve learned is that I don’t like staging food photos. I see no point in doing something I don’t like if I’m not being paid for it, especially if other people are better at it. With that in mind, if you enjoyed Vegetarian Friday, I would encourage you to visit Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker. If I dream up something really exceptional, I’ll still share it like I always have, but it’s probably not going to be a weekly occurrence.

Eco-Saturday. I’m not getting rid of this, but I’m changing it. Like Vegetarian Friday, Eco-Saturday was supposed to run for a year. Three years later, I’ve gone about as far as I can where I am, so I’m going to focus more on reviews, recommendations, links, and daydreams about things I’d like to do someday. If there’s anything you’d like me to cover, feel free to suggest it in the comments.

Make-It Monday and Tiny Tuesday. You’ll get one or the other each week, but probably not both, because they overlap a lot, and separating them out is starting to feel forced.

I hope that doesn’t disappoint anybody too terribly. At this point, trying to do too much is easily my worst habit, and I’m trying very hard to break it. Bear with me; down time is still an alien concept for me, and self-care isn’t really one of my strengths.


No recipe today.

I don’t have a Vegetarian Friday recipe for you this week, because frankly, I’ve felt like crap since Tuesday and didn’t eat much for a couple of days. Remember a few weeks ago, when my Eco-Saturday entry was about making your own TV dinners? Weeks like this are why I do it. I fed Ron one of those prefabbed meals on Wednesday because my stomach was touchy from staying up too late and my head was congested from too many tears and I just didn’t feel like cooking anything, much less eating it. I was grateful to have that tray of capellini ready to go; it kept Ron from having to go out for lunch, which would have cost us a day of our debt-retirement effort. (Related: We are now $809 from paying off that dead Subaru so we can get it out of our driveway and move on with our lives.)

We had toasted ravioli yesterday, which came out of a bag in the freezer. The ravioli wasn’t vegetarian, but the convenience of having it on hand reminded me that I haven’t done an entry on stocking the pantry and freezer for tough days. If I don’t come up with a good new recipe between now and next Friday, I might work up a list and some instructions for you. When I was vegging full-time, the hardest part was planning far enough ahead to keep from falling off the wagon when my schedule got hectic. Now that I’ve been cooking most of my meals at home for a year and a half, I could probably make the transition without a major effort. Maybe I will one day.

I need to write something about the loss of Leonard Cohen — which was a sucker-punch I didn’t need after leaning on “Anthem” and “Hallelujah” for two days while I tried to digest Tuesday’s election results and figure out the best way forward — and I’m working up a piece about Hillary Clinton and her influence on my life, but first I’m going to treat myself to an afternoon in Makanda, because I need it.


Sunday self-care: In the long run

I started this weekly feature on self-care partly as a means of keeping myself honest, because frankly, I’m great at taking care of other people but lousy at extending the same courtesy to myself. Self-neglect rarely ends well.

One of my most valuable self-care tools is long-distance running. I don’t run as often, as regularly or as sensibly as I should. But I run when I can find the time and energy, and I’m always glad I did. Even if I’ve gone too long between runs and lost some of my training base, the mental and spiritual benefits are enough to make up for whatever physical discomfort I have to deal with along the way.

Props to Chief Blair at Cape PD, who recommended the LaCroix Trail to me.
Props to Chief Blair at Cape PD, who recommended the LaCroix Trail to me.

I’m terribly prone to seasonal depression, and when the days get ridiculously short, an hour or two of fresh air, sunlight and endorphins can make all the difference in how I feel.

In addition to doing nice things for my brain chemistry, long runs give me some much-needed time to think, pray or just “be still and know.”

Yesterday was gorgeous, so I treated myself to an ill-advised 10-mile round trip out to Abbey Road Christian Church to walk the labyrinth.

The labyrinth. One of my favorite places in town.
The labyrinth. One of my favorite places in town.
Love this pergola next to the labyrinth.
Love this pergola next to the labyrinth.
Rudbeckia growing around the perimeter of the labyrinth.
Rudbeckia growing around the perimeter of the labyrinth.

I say “ill-advised” because I’d planned a walk and ended up turning it into a run on the spur of the moment. The problem with that lies in preparation: A walk that long is fine, but if you’re going to run more than five miles, you really need to take along a couple of packets of carb gel and a quart or so of water. I’d made no such preparations (that self-care thing again), and about seven miles into my impromptu jog, my calves and hamstrings started telling me about it.

I was about a mile from home when I looked up and saw salvation in the form of an IHOP. I limped in and ordered a meal specifically intended to replace the nutrients I’d lost on my run: orange juice (potassium, quick carbs), whole-wheat pancakes (complex carbs, a little protein), bacon (protein, salt) and several glasses of water.

Eating solely for nourishment was a singular experience that made me rethink what and why I eat, and it made me genuinely grateful for the meal in front of me, which I desperately needed to soothe my sore legs and fuel that last mile home.

When I was still a practicing Christian Scientist, I was particularly fond of this quote:

Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.
— Mary Baker Eddy

The labyrinth of my life has taken me on a little different spiritual path the last few years, but that truth remains with me, and running has a way of reinforcing it.

Yesterday, that reinforcement came in the form of a well-timed stack of pancakes that met a pressing need beautifully.

I’ll take it.


I’m tired.



I haven’t had a chance to spend much time online lately, because I’ve been busy redoing my office. After the past three weeks, I kind of feel like Lillian looks in that picture above.

The drywall in here was as disastrous as the mess in the bedroom, so I had to retape and mud the corners and repaint the whole room.


Because textured paint covers a multitude of sins, I decided to sponge-paint the office. I chose two shades of light blue to open up the space a little bit and give it a sort of airy feeling. I’d planned to do sort of a random pattern, but clouds started appearing as I worked, so I just let them happen.


Before I put the room back together, I cleaned Ron’s desk (which he cluttered up again within 12 hours, because Y-chromosome), steamed the carpet, rearranged the furniture, and discovered the two smaller dogs’ crates would fit neatly under a folding work table I’ve been keeping in the basement, giving me a much-needed work surface without costing me any floor space.


After all the rearranging, Song got a little confused about which crate was his and inexplicably decided to wedge himself into Riggy’s crate — prompting Lillian to go into Song’s crate, while Riggy went into Lillian’s. (When I texted the picture of Song to my sister, her immediate response was a Talking Heads line: “This is not my beautiful house!”)


I used the newly freed-up space to sort my old photo prints from my 35mm days. In the span of three days, I threw away more than 1,600 duplicate and/or inferior-quality prints and rounded up close to 100 more to give to various people I thought might enjoy them. A collection that once took up eight photo storage boxes now fits in three — two of prints and one of negatives. When I finished sorting photos, I went through my newspaper clips and knocked that collection down to half its former size.

While I was on a roll, I picked up some small baskets from the dollar store and reorganized the medicine cabinet so we could find things easily. I wish I’d taken a “before” picture. It was a jumble.


To reward myself for a job well done, I went to Target and bought myself a little combination bulletin board/chalkboard to hang next to my desk. I really like it.


Here’s another thing that got cleaned recently:


Poor Walter. He grooms himself pretty well, but that long coat is a dirt magnet, and it had gotten so dingy, the vet even commented on it last time he went for a checkup, so we gave him a bath and a good brushing. He didn’t like it much, but everybody survived.

I. Am. Exhausted.

What a weekend. I wrapped up another revision of the novel (which I now refer to as The Project That Will Not Die) late Saturday night, spent a big chunk of Sunday working on a preservation project, tweaked the novel a bit more Sunday night, caught up with an old friend in Makanda and picked up xylitol for the last step in my cider project today, and finished transcribing the last interview for Zaphod’s dissertation tonight.

I kind of want to finish that last step in the cider project now, but I think I’ll settle for watching the first Weeping Angels episode of Doctor Who with Ron, who is not a Whovian but has decided “Blink” sounds interesting enough to warrant his attention.

Hope you had a good weekend, wherever you are.


Trying to catch up.

Sorry I haven’t posted in ages. Things have been nuts at work, with big deadlines last week and an execution that was scheduled for this week but was stayed twice, necessitating two trips to Bonne Terre and a lot of strange hours in a high-security environment that made me tired and nervous, partly because it involved trying to work from a remote site while separated from a lot of the tools and resources I’m used to having at my disposal, and partly because I was really dreading the thought of watching a man die, regardless of what he did to put himself in that position.

In between, I had a perfectly marvelous, much-needed three-day weekend that included a massage; beekeeping; a trip to the hardware store; a trip to a 95-year-old feed store; the purchase of a lawn gnome and a fabulously creepy statue that’s weirdly evocative of the infamous Weeping Angels; a little time on both Route 66 and Highway 61; and a Judy Collins concert in a 325-seat theater a couple of blocks off 66 in Edwardsville, Ill. (We were in the second row, and yes, it was wonderful: Tiny venue full of Baby Boomers who knew all the songs and sang along at every opportunity. It felt less like a concert and more like an old friend had thrown a party and brought out her guitar to break the ice — which is exactly the sort of vibe a folk concert ought to have.)

The weekend was great, but it wasn’t quite enough to overcome the stress of last week’s deadlines and the stress, late nights, erratic meals, and general failure to take care of myself over the past couple of days, so I woke up this morning with a fever, muscle spasms in my legs and a level of exhaustion that kept me in bed until about an hour ago.

Twelve hours of sleep, several bottles of water and a lot of electrolytes later, I’m doing much better and am optimistic if I go back to bed soon and get a decent night’s rest, I’ll be able to hit the ground running tomorrow.


Busy, busy, busy

I owe you an Eco-Saturday. Sorry ’bout that; I promise I’ll make it up to you with a double helping this week. The last couple of weeks have been crazy. I worked 12 consecutive days (including 85 hours in one seven-day stretch), visited my family, replaced my cellphone (if we’re close and I haven’t given you my new number, email me, and I’ll update you), and then came down with a nasty 24-hour bug that flattened me Sunday night and forced me to spend Monday in bed. I hate getting sick, but it was probably the only way I was going to get the rest I desperately needed after the last couple of weeks, so I’m not going to grumble too much.

I had some good intentions about picking up groceries tonight, but I was still a little shaky when I woke up this morning, and after covering a meeting and filing two stories today, I was pretty well tapped out, so I just cleaned out the refrigerator, loaded the dishwasher and made myself a batch of butternut squash soup out of some steam-in-bag squash I found in the freezer. It turned out well and will probably be this week’s Vegan Friday offering.

I am pretty sure I am going to spend the rest of my evening curled up on the couch, listening to Joni Mitchell on vinyl. Unless I give up and crash early, which is looking increasingly likely.

Hope you’re having a good evening, wherever you are.



So … my week has included a tornado, three 12-hour days, an arrest in a case I’ve been covering since April (which happened on what was supposed to be my day off, of course), a homicide, a counterfeiting case, an election, a mad scramble to beat the competition to a story they shouldn’t have known anything about in the first place, and a city council meeting.

Y’all know how much I love my job, but if you live in Southeast Missouri or deep Southern Illinois, and your weekend agenda involves official corruption, blowing something up or killing somebody, I’mma need you to pencil that in for Sunday, because until then, here is a complete list of everything I care about that does not directly involve coffee, Birkenstocks or Joni Mitchell:


That about covers it.

Have a good weekend, and if you’re a criminal, please take some time off. I’m sure you work as hard as I do, and we could both use a break.


Still here.

I really, really hate neglecting this blog. Sadly, I don’t have a lot of other options at the moment. At some point when I catch my breath — probably after my kids finish taking their all-important End-of-Instruction tests in a couple of weeks — I’ll give a thorough update that will (hopefully) serve as sufficient excuse for my delinquency here. In the meantime, please know that I haven’t forgotten y’all, and please check back now and then, because I really do expect to have more time on my hands in the not-too-distant future, and I really will have stories and photos to share.

Summer will be here soon. Allegedly. I think. Maybe. I hope. I have a sneaking suspicion that when it finally arrives, I’m going to feel exactly like I did at the finish line of my first marathon, and for the same reasons. But I have a really, really good story for you, full of healing and hope and joy and excitement and adventure and creativity, tinged with a little trace of sadness, seasoned with a big helping of road karma, sprinkled liberally with hugs, and garnished with at least one classic Emily Priddy maneuver.

Stay tuned….


Hell for leather

March has always been a busy month for me, but this one has been ridiculous even by my standards.

Last time I blogged, we were getting ready for an accreditation audit at school. We passed with flying colors and apparently impressed the snot out of the evaluators. It was a lot of work, but I kind of enjoyed the excuse to design some new instructional materials, write some really whizbang lesson plans, and show off for the visitors. Two of my journalism students spent the better end of two days following the evaluators all over the building with a camera and a notebook; you can read their article here.

I got busted rifling our very dignified assistant principal’s trash during lunch on the 14th. It was Pi Day, and I needed a pop can to add to my collection of cylindrical objects the kids were going to measure as part of the lesson. Somebody told me Saundra had just finished a can of Dr. Pepper and suggested I go Dumpster-diving in her wastebasket to get it. Predictably, she walked in just as I retrieved it. Thank God she has a sense of humor and appreciates my gonzo teaching style….

After working an 11-hour day the Thursday before break, I came home and spent another 13.5 hours laying out the Trip Guide. When I finished, I took a nap, went out to dinner with Ron, and then drove nine hours to Illinois to visit my family. Major kudos to the state trooper who saw me changing a tire near Catoosa and stopped to help. (I have now decided I need to buy one of those hydraulic jacks like cops carry in their patrol cars, because that thing made quick work of a tedious job.) Ron wound up meeting me at the next exit and swapping cars, as there was no way I was going to attempt a thousand-mile road trip on a doughnut.

Flat tire notwithstanding, I had a pretty nice trip. I got back from Illinois (locked the front door, oh, boy!) on Wednesday and spent the remainder of my break finishing up the mural at Brews and Bytes, running errands, checking beehives, and writing lesson plans for next week. Looks as if I’m in for another crazy week, as I’ve got a ballgame, a concert, an NHS induction, and a visit from my in-laws planned between now and next Sunday.

Ah, well. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.