Sunday, April 30, 2023

 Over a year since my last post. 

Well, things are going MUCH better.  DH is doing well, actually went on last spring to have surgery on his neck, but the neurosurgeon explained to us beforehand that they do not like patients to wear neck brace after surgery and my DH was like "I'm IN!".  If he would have had to wear neck brace, he would not have gotten the surgery.  The neck brace gave him essentially clastrophobia and off the chart anxiety.  The new hardware (forgot the name of the material/composite they use) is more flexible than 20 or even 10 years ago and so it "gives" more with movement and they actually want a little more movement.  So no neck brace.

So that was April.  Then in May I enjoyed my garden, my flowers, couple of fun floats in my kayak when I was not working.  Still working 60 hours mandatory.  Then last May miraculously my employer made us work a couple of mandatory 70 hour weeks.  Really!  Then 2 weeks at 40 and then bam!  I got laid off.

So, all of the sudden I had no income.  I did manage to get signed up for unemployment - what a hassle that was, took about a month to get signed up, provide the documentation required and get a check.  But it was a relief.  I have paid all my life into unemployment (I am late 50's) and had never used it.  So, that was a relief - just enough to pay the absolute bare necessities - but a safety net nonetheless.  

Well, at least when I was not enjoying my yard/flowers (I did not plant veggies last year because of all the hours they were making us work), enjoying the lake condo and seeing my Florida friends at the lake.  When I was not outside, I was inside looking for a job.  So, I looked all of June and part of July, then I had a couple of phone interviews.  Then a 2nd Zoom at the place I really wanted to work.  Then they told me they would be in touch.  I waited about another month and saw that they had done a background check on me and still I waited.  While waiting I half heartedly keep looking for other jobs.  

I even got a haircut for my Zoom interview.  Well, late July I finally got word that I got the JOB!  With a large very well known insurance company in claims, which is what I did before I worked for the law firm.  But, it had been since 2005...would I be able to get over that learning curve?  


Saturday, April 9, 2022

Stressfull last month and a half

So, my husband suffers from chronic back pain.  Had surgery in 2009 and it helped for a while, then over time one who have had back surgery, including any type of fusion of the vertibrae, the movement can translater more to the level above and below.  Along with normal age related degeneration that is has more problems and pain.  This and the fact that my husband is not terribly health conscious and does not stretch or walk - he is aging poorly.

Well, we had a family member who had a morphine pump installed and it did wonders for his pain, my husband went through all the pain protocol and tried everything and finally decided he wanted that also.  He had the pain pump installed under his skin in Nov.  He has lots of problems just with that procedure, then it took several weeks to heal and get the medication level right.  Then about 6 weeks ago, after I got home from Texas...he was walking to the bathroom early in the morning and fell and had a huge gooseegg on his left upper forehead.  I ran into help him and saw that his head was bleeding and huge bump...I helped him off the floor back onto the bed.  He was crying out in pain.  I took him to the hospital...

I was concerned about his head injury, but not only did he hurt his low back, now he had shoulder and neck pain.  They did films of all...come to find out - he had 2 neck fractures!  So crazy.  So, they put him in a very stiff neck brace and released him to follow up with a neurosurgeon.  Cut to 5 weeks after that, they have done more films, recommend MRI (did this past week - still waiting on results).  And has to wear the brace 2 more months!  And it gives him severe anxiety and depression.  And now we wait to see if he has to have surgery.

Just wanted to check in and jot down some thoughts.  Has been very difficult, the depression and anxiety is the worst, i know he will eventually heal his neck and stablize his back (please Jesus).  But I just feel so helpless.  Meanwhile, I am working the same crazy 60 hours and now it is mowing season.  We have a large yard...1 acre we mow.  I did the entire yard last weekend by myself and it was not too I feel that is doable.  I am not going to have a garden or flowers in pots this year to also take care of.  

I am trying to streamline things around the house and minimize, get rid of even more clutter/unnec stuff and just put one foot in front of the other.  The prospect of caring from this house, 4 dogs, the yard, my gets overwhelming at times, but i just take a deep breath and know I can do it and remember how grateful I am for a warm home, a loving partner and dogs i enjoy, good friends and extended family.

Well, I will try to come back and write down more to help process everything.  I hope everyone out there is doing well and dealing with whatever things life is throwing at you with patience, love, and prayer...deep breath, some sort of inspiration and gratitude...and a little humor.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

My 2nd Full Day at Big Bend National Park in Texas

 On the 2nd day we had to spend in the park, we knew we were going to hike a trail in the Chisos Mountains portion, the central portion of the park.  So, we tried to get a little earlier start to drive the hour+ drive from our hotel so that we could find a trail we wanted to hike that had parking.  Some of the trails have very limited parking.  

We were planning to do the Window or the Lost Mines Trail.  The Lost Mines Trail was pretty busy, so we drove on to the central Ranger Park area by the lodge and hooked up with a place to park so we could access the Windows Trail.  

In the parking lot we saw a very tame, but partially lame roadrunner up close.

This in the distance is essentially the V-shaped canyon we were walking toward, called the "windows".

It was gradual downhill for almost the entire 2+ miles...meaning the entire time I was thinking I have to eventually turn around and walk back up this incline.  It was pretty gradual though, except for the park right next to the parking lot, that is a .3 mile staircase made out of railroad ties and rocks and dirt - it was a real bummer coming back up!  Got my heart really pumping!

You can tell in these photos, the trail is mostly in a dry creek bed/canyon where the water runs in the wet season.  It looked essentially like a desert canyon, but parts of it had really pretty trees, large trees.  My hiking friend said some of it looked like parts of northern California.  Others looked more like Arizona or Texas.

This is me sitting in the last section of the Canyon before it goes through the "window".  

This is looking back to where we came from and eventually had to walk back through.  Many rocks and trees.  

As we walked back and felt like we still had enough energy, we took a side canyon trail that goes up the side of one of the canyon walls, so show a lookout up above the "window".  I think it was called Oak Canyon.  It was about 2 miles and then one can keep on going on beyond the window canyon and down into the lowlands and on out to an old ranch site off of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.

This was a shot of my lookout way up above the window, to the right, as I looked out at the valley.

This was a shot of our hike back, about 4.4 miles total in and back.  In the distance, you can see Emory Peak, which is the highest peak in the Chisos Mountains.  About 7500+ feet high.  But being as this area is part of the high desert, we were already 1700+ feet up, so we were feeling the altitude a little this day, all the incline and up and over the rocks, etc.  

After we got back to the car and drank more water and had a snack, we decided to ride down part of the Ross Maxwell Scenic drive again and see if we could find the turnoff for one of the ranch sites, where the Oak Canyon hike comes out.  I really wanted to see if we could see the "window" from the other side.  A sort of "look where we were!" - type of thing.  

So, we parked and walked about a mile or so down this road to see the other side.  We met an older couple looking very cute and experienced in their hiking gear walking toward us.  They had done the entire hike one way - to the valley side.  The woman pointed out the trail and confirmed for us, which of the rock structures we were looking at.  

The window we were just at, is the large "v" canyon in the middle.  It was cool to see it from this side.  

After this, we said good bye to this beautiful park and made our way back to Alpine for dinner.  We ate at the historic Hammond, and shared a steak and a salad - it was very good.  I would definitely come to this area again.  I really want to go back and do the 11 mile hike up Emory Peak - after I condition myself to be able to carry 3 liters of water in my backpack!

Have a great week!

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Back just in time looking at the weather!

I have a friend who loves a road trip and a good hike - she drove the entire 12 hours to BBNP and back!  I was the navigation and co pilot.  We went on a few nice hikes!

Here is the Wiki link:  Big Bend National Park - Wikipedia

We stayed about 70 miles away (this area of Texas is spread out and pretty isolated and the places in closer Terlingua, TX were booked up!) in a cute little Western Texas town called Alpine - we did a walking tour when we got there Friday afternoon.  

The next day we went to the park and the Ranger Station and got some maps and visited the Eastern most corner of the park, the Rio Grande Valley.  On the way there, we saw a fossil display area - really cool.  Describing how millions of years ago, this area that is now a desert was a shallow ocean.  The archeologist who discovered T Rex (unsure where) came here and found more T Rex and there was a dinosaur discovered here called Alamosaurus.  The display said (I think) in 1940 it took 6 men and a horse drawn wagon several days just to get the head removed and preserved!

This picture shows an TRex head (replica) a Deinosaucous (I think closest head) and a flying dinosaur replica - I almost think that flying one would scare me the most!

We drove past the Boquillas crossing (into Mexico) and saw the Rio Grande for the first time from the overlook near Boquillas, Mexico.  Then we hiked the Boquillas Canyon trail.  It was pretty!

We spent the entire first day seeing the desert portion of the park.  We went to lunch area and had our car lunch on a picnic table under the large cottonwood trees.  Then we started the 3.5 mile (one way) hike along the southwest trail, which was already pretty warm.  We hiked all the way to the overlook about 1.5 miles and enjoyed that pretty view and walked back.  Then we drove to the shorter 1.4 hike near the hot springs.  

The hot springs are a popular spot, we felt like we would rather sit in the 100 degree spring early in the morning or late in the day!
I was lucky enough to spot a road runner on our way driving to the closer hike to the springs.  I did not catch him with a photo though.  On our way driving to the park we also saw coyote, a wild boar and antelope.  The next day we would see mule deer, javelina and couple more road runners.
After the hot springs, we drove by the centrally located Chisos Mountains station to plan our 2nd and last day, on our way to catch the sunrise at Santa Elena Canyon, which is closer to the west side and also along the Rio Grande.

This is a pretty popular spot to see pictures taken in this park.  The taller cliffs on the left are Mexico and the cliff on the right is USA.  There is a hike that runs along the canyon on the right with steps and railings for a pretty overlook hike, but it was getting late in the day and although we both had lights, i was not really up for trying to walk more in the dark!

So we drove back along the very pretty scenic Ross Maxwell drive along the Nail and Wilson ranch sites, the Mule Ears mountain, the Tuff Canyon, etc to a really pretty vista called Sotol Vista Overlook where we finished up seeing the sunset and stayed until 9pm to see the dark sky light up with the stars, plants and part of the Milky Way Galaxy - next time I will take a good camera for that!

The 2nd to the last photo in these 4, the split in the canyon in the middle level of the horizon showing the cliffs is where Santa Elena Canyon is.  Just amazing to see!  This park is a designated "dark sky" area, where this is almost zero light polution, allowing one to see the stars all around, almost like a snow globe effect!

Hope you enjoy.  I will post more next week about our hike in the Chisos Mountains!

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Getting ready for a road trip

 So, I am happy to say that as of Friday, I am getting 4 days off.  At least, I hope I am.  I requested 2 weeks ago, and of course have not received confirmation from work yet.  Jeez.

Last week I had 2 full days where I was on the phone literally ALL DAY with the help.

 desk.  The department help desk was trying to outsource my problem to a contractor who in turn, was referring me back to my department help desk.  So frustrating!  Essentially I was told I need a new computer, but evidently the federal government has a shortage of laptops - go figure!

Anyway, I need some R and R badly.  I am going on a 12 hour drive with a hiking friend to Big Bend National Park which is in Western Texas, where the Rio Grande River (which separated Texas from Mexico, makes a "big bend".  It is fairly isolated and already warming up, so we will be taking lots of layers and water and sunscreen!

Here are some pictures I found online and an article about the park Attractions in Big Bend National Park (

I will hopefully be back safe and sound next week and will post photos.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

More Winter

 Well, we got about 6 inches of snow last week and it has stayed pretty chilly, but warming up slowly.  We still have some patches here and there, but the sun is making short work of it. 

I am trying to go strict on keto, want to lose a little weight in case I get to go on a little vacation with my cousin to Mexico.  This is Rocky Point Mexico, so she will be driving down from her home if Phoenix.  She has been many times over the years.  But my DH is a little nervous, what do you think.  It includes driving about 60 miles from the Mexican border down to the gulf.  It may not be an issue, because I have to send in my passport to be renewed, so I will pay for the expedited but it's anyone's guess whether it will come back in a timely manner...stay tuned.

I have made some pretty decent keto for a dessert called Sex in a can find it on Pinterest.  I found the addition of a 1/2 cup of finely chopped almonds really helps the "crust".  I gave the recipe to my girlfriend in Florida and she and I both discussed it could be made easier with sugar free-instant pudding and cool whip.  But I am proud of myself for making homemade pudding and it was really good (rich).  

I also made a good "mock" potato salad made with roasted cauliflower.  It was pretty good too.  And a decent bread, made with almond flour and baking soda.  I will definately make these again.

The other day they were spreading chicken waste in a field and there were vultures, crows and eagles everywhere.  I took a photo of 3 eagles sitting in a tree...hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Winter is Coming

Reminds me of the old Game of Thrones memes.  Did you watch Game of Thrones?  I watched very late, in 2019 after DH and I retired (I am now un-retired) and working a gazillion hours a week.  I asked off for this Saturday to go on another hike and still have not been told if I am going to get the day off.

Today it is getting cold and windy and gray.  Supposed to be snowing this evening.  People i am friends with on Facebook are talking about the snow they are getting and how the stores are all busy and running out of milk and bread.  Isn't it strange that is what everyone buys when the weather turns bad.

I got a wagon full of wood so we can have a fire in our woodstove tonight.  Supposed to be cold through Friday and fairly typical Saturday, so I am still going to go on that hike if I get the day off.  If not, I will take a long weekend the weekend of President's Day and go on a roadtrip to hike in TX with a hiking friend.  Go ahead employer...make my day.

So, Sunday was a pretty sunny day and i enjoyed a 5.5 mile with with some hiker friends on a golf course in Bella Vista.  Was such a pretty course and pretty day.  I missed the first half of the Chiefs game, then hurried home with tacos.  Just in time to see the sad ending...booooooo.

Oh well, guess I don't have to stay up late and watch the Super Bowl and be tired the next day.  Ha - gotta look at the positive.  

I did get a chuckle out of this i saw on FB: