Year Review in Pictures

It’s no secret that I love Galveston. I’ve posted about it several times (like here, here and here). There are many reasons why. Galveston’s beaches aren’t the most spectacular. The water is not crystal clear, but it has a soul like few other towns in the US. There were pirates, cannibalistic natives (and I don’t mean politicians I mean actual cannibalistic natives), tall ships, sailboat races. It was called the New York of the south back in its prime. It has Victorian architecture, brick streets, curbs that were high enough for people to step out of horse-drawn carriages with ease, and charm by the bucket-full. Even its alleys are cool.

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So I decided that it was only fitting for my last post of the year to be a picture post of Galveston over this past year.

Luckily, there are webcams all over Galveston, so you don’t even have to be there all the time to get some good pictures. Like this one, for instance.

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This one was taken on the Cruise Cam, which happens to be right next the Tall Ship Elissa and one of my favorite restaurants of all time, Fisherman’s Wharf.

Here is the Elissa as seen from Fisherman’s Wharf.

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And, Fisherman’s Wharf as seen from the Elissa.

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The Cruise Cam captures some of the coolest sunsets, and some pretty nice sunrises too. Don’t ask me why I’m up early enough to see that every morning. I don’t want to talk about it…

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Another of my favorite cameras is the Surf Cam. Here are some of its views.

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The start of the 2018 Harvest Moon Regatta

Then of course, there is my favorite souvenir shop, Murdoch’s Pier. My aunt lived a few blocks down from Murdoch’s when I was a kid, and my brother and I loved going there every time we went to the beach. The first picture is from inside. The rest are from the webcam on the front corner of the store.

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July 4th Weekend

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Evening Fog in November

I guess the moral of this story is that if you aren’t stalking the Galveston Webcams, then I really just don’t know what you are doing with your life… Unless you live at the beach, in which case, you seem to have life figured out and I’m a little jealous right now.

So, here are a few more of my favorites from this year.

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I hope your 2018 went well, and I wish you all the best for 2019!

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Helicopter Dog Mom Unleashed

I have been a helicopter dog mom since I got the dogs over 4 years ago, but I haven’t been fully embracing my helicopter-dog-momness. Recently though, I’ve had a shift in my thinking.

About three weeks ago, my big dog started having issues. I thought he had a normal urinary tract infection, but I got really worried when he started straining and straining without anything happening. I took him to the vet, and it turned out to be bladder stones. In fact, there was a stone that was over an inch in diameter. I don’t want to bore you with all of the gory details. Basically, the stone stayed in, and the vet prescribed a special food that he hoped would dissolve the stone.

Mr. C the first time he had bladder troubles. Notice the red circles around his eyes.

It didn’t. And of course the stone got in the way again the Sunday before Christmas. So, Sunday, he had issues- straining and straining and straining with just a few drops coming out. Monday it was worse, but of course no vets were open because it was Christmas Eve. By Christmas day, he was completely blocked up. He would strain and strain and absolutely nothing would come out. On top of that, he was completely in pain. By the evening, he was whining and crying non-stop and looking at me with glossy eyes grumbling as if asking me to fix it.

During the night, he wet the bed. A lot.

I was really happy that his bladder drained, but very not-happy about having to take the quilt, the down comforter and all of the sheets off of the bed because they were soaked.

I put new sheets on, covered the bed in towels and we went back to bed. He wet it again.

By morning, he looked completely drained (literally) and weak. His eyes were listless and he didn’t even wag his tail like he usually does in the morning. As soon as they were open, I called the vet. They didn’t have any appointments until the afternoon, but they said I could bring him in early and leave him there and they could squeeze him in between other appointments. So that’s what I did.

The prescription food hadn’t worked, the stone hadn’t dissolved at all, and there was a second one completely blocking up the works. So… the day after Christmas, he went in for surgery. He’s home now, but totally high on pain meds, which I normally wouldn’t recommend, but it’s keeping him from messing with the incision at the moment. Plus, judging by the Frankenstein-style scar near his nether regions, I’m pretty sure he actually needs the pain pills right now.

Cat snuggling with Mr. C after he got back from the vet.
Mr. C getting some kitty snuggles after he got back home. Everyone was very concerned,

I was supposed to keep him on the prescription food, but none of the dogs will touch it- not even the wet food version of it. My dogs are not ones to turn down food of any kind, so I figure that the prescription food isn’t what they need to be eating. In an attempt to get Mr. C to eat something so that I could give him his medicine, as a last resort, I opened a can of chicken. He gobbled it down like he hadn’t eaten in days (probably because he hadn’t eaten in days…).

That got me thinking. I’ve been a helicopter dog mom since rescuing the older two over four years ago, so maybe I should stop fighting it and just embrace it.

Every gentle formula food I’ve ever seen was based on chicken and rice. My dogs love chicken in any form, and rice is super mild. Here’s where the lightbulb really went off. Why not just make their food for them- maybe not on a permanent basis, but at least for a little while until everyone is back healthy again? Chicken is super easy in the pressure cooker, and you can get the ten pound packs of leg quarters.

For now, I’ve been just making chicken and basmati rice. Today I added a little bit of turmeric because it has anti-inflammatory properties. I think after a couple of days of super mild chicken and rice, I think I will add some vegetables like carrots.

The puppies have been super excited about the whole chicken and rice idea. I haven’t seen them so happy about mealtime in a long time.

I am kind of excited about this. It really doesn’t take long to make in the pressure cooker, and it is really healthy. I’ve been putting food in the bowls and then just leaving it out all of the time, but the main problem is that my youngest one eats more than the others. They are all overweight (treats may also be playing a role in this), but the little one is obese.

If I feed them food they actually like, I can give them each a bowl, and they gobble it down at the same time. It’s a lot easier to control how much they are eating when they eat at the same time.

I have been doing some research, and I ordered a homemade dog food book from Amazon. I am going to start adding vegetables today, and a little bit of pumpkin I think.

I don’t have any pictures of the food that I have made so far. I will try to remember and take pictures this evening. I have to admit, I am a little excited about making their food, but a little concerned that they will be getting enough nutrients. I will be doing more research over the next few weeks. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

A New Mindset

(Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn a small amount from any purchases that you make when clicking on links from my posts- at no extra cost to you.)

So, I have decided that I need to change the way I think about, well, almost everything. I have been trying to get in better shape for a while now. I would like to lose a few pounds along the way, but mostly, I just want to be fit and toned and just look better and have more energy. I tried the Keto diet for a few weeks. I started seeing results, but then I just couldn’t seem to hold it together. I never could really figure out what kinds of snacks to have on hand, so when I would get home after school, I would immediately grab whatever I could find to eat because I was starving. 

I am not completely giving up on Keto. I am definitely not giving up on the idea of a lower carb diet than my “normal” diet. I realized a while back, before even going on Keto, that some days my entire diet pretty much consisted of carbs (bread, tortilla chips, etc.) and cheese. I didn’t buy milk because I wouldn’t drink it fast enough for it to not go bad in my refrigerator, but still, the vast majority of the foods I was cooking depended on carb rich ingredients and cheese for taste. I had already decided that my dietary path was unsustainable and that I needed to make a change, but I have had a really hard time sticking to anything.

Then I realized that I have been looking at food all wrong. So, I have decided to change my mindset in two main ways.

First, I think I need to look at food as more a source of energy not just something to make me not feel hungry. I’m thinking it should literally be about quality. Sugar tastes good, but it is a terrible source of energy.

Second, I suspect that I have been having a hard time with diets because the foods that I have been eating suck. Like, really suck. For example, the other day, I took some leftover Brussels sprouts from Thanksgiving, added some thinly sliced beef that I sautéed, some cream of mushroom soup, Crema Mexicana (which from what I can tell is like a table cream), and some corn. I like all of these ingredients separately, and theoretically, the mix wasn’t bad. The problem was that the Brussels sprouts weren’t that good. I used the last of my red wine vinegar (because that was what the recipe called for), but I think maybe my vinegar was past its prime. So the sprouts were really bitter. Needless to say, the dish was okay the first day, but as leftovers for the second time, I can honestly say that if I had to take them to work for a third day, I would end up getting a Starbuck’s protein box on my way to work.

If anything is going to work for me it has to work for me. It has to taste good- as in, it needs to be something I don’t mind taking to work as leftovers for lunch. It needs to be easy and quick to make. I don’t have the time or the desire to spend hours in the kitchen on the weekends or in the evening during the week trying to meal prep. If a meal is going to make it onto my short list of menu items, it needs to be fast and easy. It also needs to require as few pans/ utensils as possible. I am fascinated by the whole casserole, one-pot-meal idea. It’s one of the reasons I started using a pressure cooker and is definitely why I bought an Instant Pot. (The Instant Pot is on sale right now by the way). Click here for my previous post about my glorious Instant Pot. I really should give it a name at this point.

So, now I am on a quest to figure out a system that works for me with a set of recipes that are easy and quick but taste amazing so that I actually stick to my meal plan. Also, as part of my quest, I am looking for recipes that include seasonal vegetables. Everything in nature is so well organized, I have a hard time believing that things aren’t seasonal for a reason. I feel like the vitamins that are in the seasonal things are the vitamins that we need at that time of year. I will keep you posted on how this all goes.

Gratuitous kitty picture…

Chromebooks and Captain Ron

I bought a new laptop last summer when I discovered that my normal laptop was having problems connecting to wi-fi regularly. I guess it was kind of to be expected. I got it in January of 2009. Anyway, I loved my old laptop. It was a Toshiba, and it had the clearest display. The colors were super vibrant, and it didn’t make my eyes hurt. So, when I upgraded, I thought that it would be like my old laptop. I didn’t see any Toshiba’s available at the store when I bought my new computer, so I got what I thought was a better computer. Not to name any names, but I am not happy with my new one at all. It’s a touchscreen which I really like, but the display is really hard on my eyes if I use it for very long- not a good thing for an author and for someone who does a lot of editing.

I found the computer that I really want. It’s a Dell, with touchscreen, backlit keyboard and the clearest screen I’ve seen in, well, ever. The only reason I haven’t gotten it is that it’s not in the budget at the moment. The problem is that my main computer gives me headaches and I’ve been avoiding editing my latest book because I don’t want to come home after a long day’s work and stare at a torturous screen.

So this weekend, I decided to bite the bullet and buy myself a chromebook. It just got here today. I’m testing it out on this post. I bought it on Amazon, and so far I’m enjoying it quite a bit. After I’ve tried it out for a little while, I will write a post about it and include a link. Stay tuned…

In the meantime, I’m playing with my new toy, watching Captain Ron for the 25th time (give or take a time or two). Some movies just stand the test of time. All three of my dogs are snuggled up asleep on the couch next to me while I write. Life is good.

And Just Like That I Was Boatless

If you’ve been around boats long enough, you hear certain sayings that people spout left and right like they are completely original and funny. For instance, “A boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money,” or “BOAT stands for Break Out Another Thousand.” One of my personal favorites is the piece of apparent conventional wisdom that the happiest two days in a boat owners life are the day they buy the boat and the day they sell it.

I don’t agree with any of these. And, by the way, if you find yourself around a friend who has just bought a boat or mentions that they would like to buy a boat, do not under any circumstance repeat any of the above phrases. They will instantly make you look like a pompous, self-righteous douche-bag.

Friends don’t let friends sound like douche-bags.

Anyway, the day that I bought the Sea Bean, I wasn’t really all that happy. I wasn’t in love with the Sea Bean to start with. The only reason I went after it at all was that the previous owner was looking for a car, and I happened to have a car that I was trying to get rid of. It was way more of a project than I wanted to deal with and was smaller than what I really wanted. After months and months of slowly chipping away at the many projects and not feeling like I was any closer to actually going sailing, I decided to sell the Bean.

I learned a lot. My dogs quickly got used to hanging out on the boat. I was actually really impressed with how well they adjusted and with how much they enjoyed going to the boat even though it was too small for them to do much.

I listed it for sale on Craigslist, not really expecting to sell it very quickly, but late last week, a guy started texting me about it asking questions. He spent a few hours looking at it on Saturday. We agreed on a price, and Monday morning, I officially sold the Sea Bean.

I thought I would be happier. I know it’s for the best. I was spending money every month on slip fees and insurance and wasn’t even spending much time there. Since school started in August, I’ve been at the boat maybe twice. I haven’t spent the night since July. I decided that it would be better to sell it so that maybe someone with more DIY skills can get it going again. A boat that sits at the dock completely neglected and unused doesn’t do anyone any good.

Knowing that the Sea Bean wasn’t the boat for me and that it would take way more than I was willing to spend to get it running again, I thought I would be happier about selling the Bean. I was a little surprised at how I felt. It totally felt like a loss even though I wasn’t in love with the boat to begin with. Somehow it just feels sad to know that I don’t have a boat anymore.

I know that it’s for the best and that it’s the right thing to do for right now, but it is still a little disappointing.

What I have noticed though is that as soon as I sold it and canceled the slip rental, I started thinking about cruising again. I guess hanging onto the wrong things can totally block your dreams, and it isn’t until you get rid of them, that you start seeing your dreams clearly again. Since having the Sea Bean, any thoughts of sailing and cruising the Caribbean and beyond were pushed aside, replaced instead with thoughts of how I might install a holding tank so that I could actually have a toilet onboard and thoughts of how I was ever going to get all of the wiring straightened back out so that I could have the navigation lights I needed for sailing at night. Now that my attention isn’t fixed on those issues, I have been turning my attention back to taking my basic sailing certification courses and reading books on cruising again.

I definitely plan on buying another boat, but this time I want a boat that will actually cross oceans. I mean seriously, what’s the point of having a boat if you can’t sail off over the horizon?

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Life Choices and Teaching

I think I should have been an art teacher. Okay, besides the not having ever even taken an art class thing. Art teachers have a reputation. They are supposed to be moody, flighty and downright weird sometimes.

As a math teacher, I have expectations to live up to. Nobody expects math teachers to be bored some days. Math teachers are supposed to be oddly in love with teaching- like English and history teachers.  They are supposed to live for this crap. I mean, what math teacher did you ever know who didn’t get up ready to come to work every day to crush kids’ dreams?

Don’t get me wrong, I love math, but having to try to teach it to snot nosed kids who don’t give a damn about what I’m teaching or why something like math could even be important to them is a total pain in the butt some days. I like doing math. I like factoring quadratics. I like a challenging SAT practice problem. It’s like a puzzle but with numbers.

But trying to be super happy about getting up at 5:30 every morning to deal with teenagers who would much rather be face-timing with friends in other classes? Seriously? If I taught art, I could just pretend to have a meltdown and then play with water colors at my desk while the kids were left to fend for themselves on whatever project I had assigned. I totally should have taught art. It’s beside the point that I don’t know anything about oil painting, or paper mache or pretty much anything except for the little bit of water color painting I picked up on YouTube. I mean seriously, I could just assign them YouTube videos to watch and then give them the tools and tell them to have at it.

Most days I feel like a closet math-lover. The kids don’t understand why I get so excited about new calculators (especially since I don’t let them use calculators very often), but how could you not be excited when you find cool new calculators?

Ugh. Anyway, I think I should have been an art teacher. Then you get to see the creative side of kids instead of spending your day trying to get them to put their phones away for long enough to actually learn something.

I’m ready for Thanksgiving break!

Overflowing with Fall

I’m not going to lie, here in Texas, we spend half of the year wishing it weren’t so freaking hot. The past couple of weeks, we have been getting a small hint of cooler weather to come.

Fall has to be my favorite time of year. It all starts with Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and then it just gets better from there. I have read quite a few blurbs from people complaining about an overload of pumpkin spice, but to those people, I say Phooey! There can never be too much pumpkin spice. Thanks to Starbucks and their ubiquitous fall classic, Pumpkin Spice is the official spice of hope here in the south where we nearly burst into flames every time we go outside from May until October. Once the heavenly lattes show up, we can rest assured that there is light at the end of the sauna tunnel. Not long after they show up, there is high school football.

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Homecoming Football Game

Then there is Talk Like A Pirate Day. And I mean seriously, aren’t all math teachers pirates deep down? Think about it. Do you really think it’s a coincident that the formula for area is pi Arrrrrrrr squared?

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International Talk Like a Pirate Day- because hello… Pirate hats.

Then, before long even the bacon gets into the spirit. At least the bacon here in Texas does. We have Hayride Bacon at the local HEB grocery stores that are seasoned with fall spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

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They may or may not have been waiting for a tiny bit of Hayride Bacon at Grandma’s.

This fall brings with it the added anticipation of the first mass printing of my book Away Away. I’ve written two more since finishing Away Away and am in the process of editing them and getting them ready for publication too, but Away Away is still my first. I am in a slight state of overwhelm at the moment trying to decide how best to get the word out so that when the shipment gets here, there will be people already wanting to buy it. I don’t have kids, but I’m thinking this must be kind of what it feels like when they go off to Kindergarten.

While I’m waiting for the books to get here from the printer and working on a marketing strategy, I am going to keep on enjoying the fall flavors and the slightly cooler weather. Stay tuned for more updates. Here is a cute kitty picture just because.

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My parent’s normal size kitten next to their Main Coon Cat.