House seasons

There are many ways to track the seasons, the calendar being only the most obvious and arbitrary.

I track the seasons by how my house stays warm and cool, and how I stay warm and cool in it. Let’s begin with spring, which is heralded by Furnace Stays Off Overnight Day. As the days warm, there’s Attic Fan Kicks On Day, followed fairly soon after by A/C Kicks On Day. The passing summer is marked by Removing Wool Blankets from the Bed Day, Lisa Turns Off the Heating Pad at Her Feet Night, Attic Fan Kicks on Before Noon Day, and A/C Runs All Night, which usually occurs at the zenith of the Hot All the Time season.

As the summer wanes and the days cool, we see the A/C Stays Off All Day, after which we usually get at least a couple of gloriously temperate weeks when I don’t have to either heat or cool the house and that is our favorite season.

But before you know it, Furnace Kicks On Day rolls around, and that means Cold All the Time season is just around the corner. Eventually I have to put the wool blankets and heating pad back on the bed, usually around Doggie Daytime Warming Station Activation Day (when I put a heating pad under a blanket on the couch to keep them from getting chilled). And so begins the long cold stretch when the furnace runs continuously, the heating pads are in place all day and all night, and the piles of blankets on the bed and a lot of snuggling together for body heat manage to keep us all from shivering ourselves senseless at night.


This year the weather has been out of order for months, so today was A/C Kicks On Day with a vengeance, which should not be here for another couple of weeks. I can tell it’s too hot when I find Rudy stretched out like this on the bed.


It already looks like it’s going to be a long A/C Runs All Day and Night season in these parts. We’ll do our best to keep cool.


Turning the page

We here at Going Forward (meaning: me) are pleased to be finally turning the page over from 2014, leaving behind us a difficult year stuck in the doldrums, so to speak, with high hopes for fair winds and following seas to support all our efforts in the coming year.

One thing I’ve been remiss in over the past 12 months is my blogging, and I hope to be better about that. I will tell you that I’ve been having my share of struggles, large and small, but I won’t tell you all the details because, you know, the internet. My focus on surviving and resolving those struggles has taken up a lot of my time and emotional energy, leaving little left over to talk about it all here. 

I completed my certification as a nursing assistant in February, and decided not to pursue any job opportunities in that field for several reasons. I have found the knowledge I gained very helpful in assisting my parents, however, and that is the whole reason I took the course so I consider the time well spent.

My weight has been bobbing up and down all year, gradually trending upward. I pay a handsome fee to participate in Weight Watchers each month, but can’t seem to motivate myself to follow the program. Not sure what I’m going to do about that, although I think my options are, essentially, to fish or cut bait. I’ve determined that part of why I am not feeling so great right now physically is my higher weight, and that I definitely feel better when I am about 20 lbs. lighter. It’s just a matter of finding the mojo to get myself there.

My darling doggies are, as ever, the lights of my life. Rudy had a tumor on his foot this summer that required the removal of a toe, but he’s fully recovered from that now as if nothing ever happened. Reggie has maintained perfect health and excellent behavior all year, and I’m very pleased with and proud of both of them.

My parents have been holding pretty steady, with a few mishaps here and there but generally okay. I had hoped my mother would be walking on her own again by last spring, but she took a fall in her garage a few months ago that has slowed her way down and it looks like the wheelchair might be here to stay.

On the business front, I branched out from product photography into real estate photography over the summer, and got a crash course in how to light a room properly (which is much trickier than you might think). This endeavor proved profitable and allowed me to acquire a bunch of new photography equipment, including lenses and lights, that have expanded my repertoire considerably. I hope to substantially increase this service in 2015.

At home, I have invested considerable time and treasure in my cooking practice, and that has been tremendously rewarding for me emotionally. I have been creating my own recipes and riffing with confidence on others’ recipes to create dishes that delight me—and as we know, I am a huge fan of my own cooking. 😉 I spent 10 days with my folks over Christmas and cooked many meals for them that they immensely enjoyed as well, so I seem to be doing it right! I recently finished reading Michael Pollan’s book Cooked, and gifted it to my mom and my brother-in-law for Christmas. My sister and mom have read it and they both say that it has changed their lives. I had the same reaction. Highly recommended.

Like 2013, 2014 ended on an unexpected, expensive and stressful note. In 2013, it was Rudy’s mysterious illness over Christmas vacation, and the keying damage to my car while I was visiting my parents. This year, we hit a deer on our way to my parents’ house, which disabled my car with a busted radiator but fortunately did no harm to us. The accident occurred roughly midway between my house and theirs, so I had to leave my car in the nearest town for 10 days to be repaired and got to drive a brand-new rented Hyundai Santa Fe in the meantime, which was actually a rather nice consolation. When we came through to retrieve my car on our way back to our home this week, the icy roads and snowy weather were so treacherous that we had to stay overnight there. I have never seen such horrendous driving conditions in 12 years of going back and forth over that road, and have never in 30 years of driving hit a deer. I am hoping my deer-strike clock will now reset and I’ll have another 30 years of no trouble!

And so we begin another fresh year. I am really hopeful that the hard times are behind me and I am so very ready to move forward on so many fronts. Rev the engine, pop the clutch, let’s blow this popsicle stand!

Happy New Year, everyone, and best wishes to all of you for a healthy and happy 2015!


Ugly weather

My town, thankfully, is not in the path of the polar vortex that is still freezing everything in other parts of the country right now. Our weather is more just typically wintry: some snow, some ice, some fog, that sort of thing. It snowed about 6 inches again two nights ago, thawed quite a lot today, and is probably going to freeze solid tonight. This is a wetter snow that is hard on small dog paws because it clogs them up with icy chunks. Which is as good an excuse as any to take the dogs to Camp Bow Wow rather than walking them.

As a friend of mine in the Midwest said at New Year’s, “had a white Christmas, ready for spring now.” I think we’d all be happy to bump the calendar ahead a couple of months.


Our weather is not deadly in the main, fortunately, unless you’re on the roads early in the day or late at night, in which case you take your life in your hands along with the steering wheel. I feel very fortunate that I don’t have a daily commute to contend with and that I can usually choose to make my excursions in the heat of the day. Also, I got my Escape back from the shop yesterday, two days sooner than expected, so I have a solid set of wheels under me again. I feel a lot safer when I am riding higher off the ground, especially when the roads are bad.

The shop did a fantastic job of fixing my car. My only quibble is that now the undamaged passenger’s side looks kind of shabby compared to the factory-fresh driver’s side. I’ll have to get a full detailing done in the spring.


Rainy Monday

After nearly a solid month of sparkling sunny days, the clouds rolled in yesterday and the rain started last night. It’s been falling pretty steadily for most of the day, causing some of us to experience deep carbohydrate cravings, chilly feet that want only to be in fuzzy socks and wool slippers, and an intense desire to nap.


It’s dark enough in my house that I have to turn on the lights in every room to get any work done, so of course it’s felt like early evening all day. I’ve felt ready to go back to bed pretty much since I woke up this morning!

October has really been the perfect month, with clear blue skies, crisp temperatures and flamboyant fall colors everywhere you look. All good things have to come to an end, though, and now it’s time to find the rain boots and Gore-Tex jackets and mufflers and mittens and get ready for the cold season.

One of the blogs I follow, Simple Provisions, has delicious-sounding recipes and absolutely lovely food photography. It featured a recipe for Bangers and Mash with Beer and Onion Gravy a couple of months ago that sounds like just the thing to make for dinner on a rainy day like today.

Back online

I was forced to take a brief vacation from the interwebs because I somehow overlooked my wireless router when I was packing up to leave my parents’ house last week. Funny thing, I didn’t realize I had left it behind until I got home and unpacked, but several times on the way I thought, “Maybe I should take a break from things this weekend, turn off the phone and computer, and really get some rest.” Apparently my subconscious had this all worked out well in advance!

Here is what my inner guidance suggested I do this weekend:

  • Eat lightly
  • Drink (water) heavily
  • Sleep as much as possible
  • Avoid the sun
  • Don’t get overheated
  • Postpone all heavy labor for a cooler day

So that’s exactly what I did—washing the car and mowing the lawn will have to wait for the coming weekend, when it might be cool enough in the early morning to work outside for a couple of hours without risking heat exhaustion. The weather here has been cruelly hot lately, and not really safe for woman or beast to be venturing out in except for quick trips in an air-conditioned car. (Side note: My dogs are so lucky to spend their days inside with the A/C; my neighbors have left their English bulldog and Chihuahua out in their yard all day long when the temperature has gotten well over 100, and I pity those poor animals.)

The router is back in hand now, obviously, and I am back up to digital speed. I was anxious about not having my window on the world last Friday, but by Sunday night, I was completely fine with it. Amazing how much time one frees up in one’s real life when one goes offline. 😉


The sounds of summer

Right now, the crickets are chirping outside my window, a sound we get to enjoy every night for the next few months.

I was thinking today about some of the other sounds of summer, most of them less pleasant than crickets singing. Such as:

  • The roar of the local motorway on weekend nights, followed by the artillery of fireworks.
  • The hum of pressure washers cleaning houses to be painted, and the rhythmic tapping of hammers on new roofs.
  • The swish of sprinklers early in the morning, and the roar of lawnmowers early in the evening.
  • The hum of ceiling fans, attic fans and air conditioners.
  • The incessant barking of dogs put out in back yards to fend for themselves through the day.
  • The tinkle of the ice cream truck making its slow rounds.

Except for the motorway and the dogs, I love summer and all it brings. Especially, right now, the crickets.