Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Nervous Stomach

Yes, I have problems with my current work situation. The stress is not good for me. And I don't mean that in a may-shorten-my-life-span-someday abstraction. It's not good for me in ways that are immediate, painful and occasionally last days.

I went to my doctor about the problem, thinking maybe I was sick, or maybe there was a way to treat the symptoms so I could ignore them.  (Because that's always a healthy reason to go to a Doctor.. geez...)
He said that stress absolutely could cause the painful gastrointestinal symptoms I'd had. He said the only thing he knows to call it is Nervous Stomach.  He said there's nothing he can give me for it, but over the counters like Imodium could help quiet things. The yoga and running and gardening that I do help, but only in the evenings/mornings when I can do such things, they don't help in acute situations.  Situations where the only thing I can do is stay in my cube and try to code/email/document my way out of the stressful situation.  In between trips to the bathroom that is.

It's not a good situation.  I know I do better with stress when I can move, physically move and exert myself, but that's never the solution to the problems and stressors at my current job. The solutions always involve more screen time, more cube time, and/or travel to places with bad food using uncomfortable company cars.

I know any career I have will involve stress. I push myself too hard for that not to be true. But surely I can find a career that has more physical work to balance out the times I'll need to stare at a screen.Surely I can find a career that has solutions to stress that are physical in nature.

I can see what a career in cube-land often leads to. Most of the programmers here have a less than healthy body weight, and postures that would make my yoga instructor cry.  I literally couldn't take the pain of a sit down cube anymore, a couple of years ago I had to switch to a standing cube in order to lessen the physical pain I experience with the sedentary work style.  Even with the standing cube I still find myself antsy, pacing, occasionally on tip-toe to stare out at the slim swathe of grass and sky I can see over the cube walls.

Does the pay I receive for this work mitigate any of that? Do I get paid "enough" to write off the health damage?

No, not in my mind. Maybe others here think differently, would answer affirmative to that. Others probably don't even think about things in that light. But, for me the answer is no.

Knowing that, I'm seeking an exit. I'm not running hysterically towards the nearest exit, but I am exploring what other options could look like.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Losing Ground

One of the main drawbacks to my current style of Urban Farming is that space can disappear. Not like it vanishes, the dirt is still there, but suddenly I find out that my share of it is only 10% of what I expected because now the old gal wants to let a girl scout troupe plant it to earn badges.  Or the church decides they are much more comfortable about spraying Round Up around the food plots than they are about letting me hoe and mulch the weeds into submission.

Oh and the other drawback is having to deal with the crazy. I got a call from the old gal this weekend about the whole scouts-taking-over news, and she was chewing me out because I was planting peas too early.  Didn't I know they are supposed to go in on Good Friday?   O_o

No, lady, I did not know that I had to plant my seed based on the schedule you expect to see from your lifetime of living in this small isolated Christian town.   I thought I would just plant my peas as soon as the soil was workable.

I'll be happy when I have plots of land that I have contractual and agreed upon rights to plant on. Enough space that my succession plantings can be done logically and not squeezed in to any random available space. Peace of mind as I plant my garlic in the fall that I'll still be growing there in the spring.

So I'll be in new ground again this spring. :-) It's good practice for me.  Got some feelers out already.  And of course that better solution is waiting in the wings for next year. As long as my courage and savings don't give out.

Speaking of practice, so far I'm really liking the looks of my tomato and pepper transplants. Still a few more weeks where things could go horribly wrong with them, but I feel like my years practice is finally paying off. I actually have pepper seedlings.  Literally a first for me. I'm trying onion transplants again too.  Been a couple of years since I tried, and I've learned a lot since my last attempt.


I've got big goals for this year. I can't let something like losing half my grow space deter me.   Onwards!
-Jennie

Sunday, March 2, 2014

How Have Thigns Been Lately?

I know, I know, the blog has been quiet lately.
There are multiple reasons for this. I've written a couple of posts that didn't get published. They were mostly written for me. But I may publish them later, as certain break points get closer.

The short story is I'm not really happy with how my life and work are aligned right now. Dave and I have exciting goals for this year, in relation to this disconnect. We're going to make some changes. Some changes will be more drastic than others. Some changes I can't talk about yet, because we're not ready for them to be public knowledge. Most of the changes will happen in late fall/winter.

Life is too short to suck it up and deal. Not that I'm not doing some of that. But you know what I mean. If somethings not working, I'm the type that wants to try to fix it.

The high level breakdown is I want job #3 to replace job #1. It will mean turning a hobby into a fully fledged business, my own business. It's a hobby with a decade of practice and a hobby that I find myself more and more passionate about as the years pass. It's a hobby that I'm used to documenting and tracking; numbers and money. The passion will help, and I'm quietly confident in my skills.

I am doing lots of number crunching right now. We have savings goals for the next year, broken down into month goals.
I have business planning to do. I'm taking an online course in the type of business planning I need. (This is another reason the blog has been quiet, my personal online time is more focused on that class and the work I'm doing to set us up for next spring. In fact, I should be working on my homework right now. :-D) New tax forms I need to get familiar with so I document the right things this year and next year.
Moving expenses plus start up expenses. Ouch.

Is it going to be easy? No.  Is it guaranteed to work out? No.

Does any of that mean I'm not going to try? Fuck no.

So, that's how things are right now. :-D

On a lighter note, seeds are already sown for spring, I have onions and leeks in my little greenhouse doing their germination magic.
We bought a new car! Well, new to us anyway. It's a 2011 Subaru Outback. The boys have plenty of foot room, Dave doesn't hit his head on the roof of it, and it will handle more of the things that I like to haul around, and more of our leisure activities.

The boys are growing bigger by the day. Rowen is excelling at his preschool work, and we're trying to figure out how we want to do Kindergarten. We homeschooled the preschool, and since we're probably moving before next spring, we are likely to home-school the kindergarten too.  Logan is practicing all his words, learning new ones every day.

Hope all is well with all of you.
-Jennie


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Some of the Delicious Food We've Been Eating

We have been eating well here in NW Iowa. I wanted to share some of the recipes, for anyone interested. As well as a batch of recent pics. Here's a shot from Thanksgiving, we're pretty low key about it.

Roasted Pork. This one was fun because I used dry sherry for the first time. Turned out really good. RECIPE it's called Chinese Roast Pork, probably because of the soy sauce and ginger.  We used a big 4lb tenderloin instead of the shoulder that recipe calls for. Mostly because I thawed the wrong piece of meat. Still good.

Orange Sweet Potatoes
I can't find the recipe we used for this. But we made thick coins out of some long skinny sweet potatoes. (Skins removed) We layered them in a pie dish, (prettily, because this was for Thanksgiving) and put in orange zest, some orange peel, and butter and brown sugar. Then we baked them for 40-50 minutes until the sweet potatoes were soft.


Cranberry and Citrus Salad
I boiled a cup of cranberries in some water and sugar with a cinnamon stick. Not long, just a few minutes. Then I poured the hot syrup and soft cranberries on top of a bowl of nicely cut and arranged citrus slices. I had grapefruits, oranges, and clementines in mine. Put in the fridge to chill.

Of course I've made my annual batch of Pumpkin Chip Cookies. We've had endless varieties of apples/butter/oatmeal. Various soups. I had a GREAT crop of leeks this year. So we've had a couple versions of my usually made up on the spot Potato Leek soup. 

Now Yule is coming up fast. We may need to switch things up and do a chicken for that holiday, I'm a little bit tired of pork. :) Dave has informed me that stuffing is de rigueur if chicken is to appear at a holiday meal.  lol

From NW Iowa, me and the family wish you and yours all the best. May your new year be a bright one! Full of good food and family.
-Jennie

Friday, September 13, 2013

Missouri Vacation!

Well, we made the journey to Hannibal MO over labor day weekend. All 4 of us strapped into the FestivaCivic. lol


And we drove.. and drove.. :-) We arrived so early at the campgrounds we couldn't even get into our cabin. So the boys played on the playground equipment and we had a pleasant picnic lunch.
 The meadow behind the playground had a couple of young deer in it when we showed up, Rowen got a kick out of watching them bound away.  We did eventually get into the cabin. It was a great cabin, I'm so glad we went that route. I didn't get any pictures while Dave's family was with us for swimming and dinner, his sister is a shutterbug, and I'm hoping she shares those pics soon. Here are the boys at breakfast time the next morning.
And here is an exterior shot of the cabin. Mark Twain Lake has GREAT cabins, I can't rave enough about how great it was.
We left the lake on Monday and went to Hannibal for the Mark Twain Caves. I love me some spelunking. I may have abandoned my geology dreams, but my love of rocks and caves and dirt remains. :-D We took the easy hour tour, what with the toddler and 4 year old lacking experience underground. They mostly enjoyed themselves. Logan got bored about 80% of the way through. :-D

 Logan stayed in the sling the whole time, this is one of those caves that's a maze of passages, and our little one is such a fast escape artist, that this was the ONLY way I was going to take him underground. It worked out really well.
 He's chewing on the top to the glow stick necklace, not the glow stick part, just the plastic bit where the stick attached to the necklace. The glow sticks were a good idea, but ruined one of the tour stops where the guide turned off all the lights. :-D Our little group was still glowing. Oh well.

 Logan was telling me something here... who knows what.

Isn't Rowen a cutie in that one. :-D
We had a lovely dinner at a park overlooking the Mississippi river. Again our camera went unused as Julie captured the time with her lens.
A parting shot here of Rowen as Tom Sawyer.
Yay for vacation trips. Hope you enjoyed the pics.
-Jennie

Monday, August 26, 2013

My first 5k!

Well, I  (sorta) did it. I ran in my first 5k this weekend.
The Sioux Falls Glow Run.
I asked an old friend, and experienced runner, to run it with me, and he graciously stayed by me the whole way. Thanks Schwenk!  I had fun. I think he did too, in spite of everything.

It was disappointing in some ways. I didn't get to really test myself for the 5k distance. The organization was too poor, and there were multiple choke points during the run that we had to slow to a walk to squeeze through. It took us 42 minutes to get back to the finish line, and I had only trained for a time of 26 minutes.  So, the last 5 or 10 minutes I was just tired, and had to do some walking to give my legs a rest.
I didn't have a bit of trouble with my asthma though, and I'm not terribly sore today, so I think if I do another one, I'll be pretty close to running the full thing. It would be nice to run another one just to try again at running the full thing.

Have I mentioned I may have become a runner? I have never liked it. Ever. I was one of those students in high school that intentionally scheduled enough AP courses that I could opt out of PE and the running that would entail. "I'll run when someone is chasing me," was a favorite line. So, I've never ever gotten this far before. And training the last couple of weeks was ... dare I say it.. fun. Every run, it seems like, something hurts. Something is tired, or crampy or sore, and I have to get past it. And every time I do, I feel great. 0-5 minutes, always feels disjointed, ungraceful. 5-10 minutes is when I usually have to let go of whatever is paining me, run through it, but I'm starting to feel warmed up and not so disjointed.. And then there's this time period from like 20-26 minutes where it just feels great. I have my pace, I have my breath rhythm, and I'm just running, and I've never experienced that before. It's peaceful in some ways and cleansing in some ways, and triumphant because I've overcome my lazy inclinations, my little pains and I know I've done good for my body. 

I thought running would be more similar to my biking, in that I would just feel like I had a good workout.  But it's more than that, and that's been a nice surprise.

So, I'm going to keep at it, at least for now. Will I buy expensive shoes? Go without shoes? Try for something longer? I don't know. Maybe not.. but I'm not ruling anything out at this point. 

Thanks to everyone for the support. 

Official run time: 41:32   (lol, and by official, I mean that's what my watch said, as this run had no tracked time keeping.)
- Jennie

Friday, August 9, 2013

Apparently I'm Still Not Feminine

I've been married to Dave for over 5 years now. This morning we were having a frank discussion about something and I used a turn of phrase that literally made him double take. Followed by a comment on how I still surprise him sometimes with my less than feminine speaking ways.  And a smile, because he loves it, and me. But still, it surprised me.

I speak how I've always spoken. Perhaps with a bit more confidence now than in my awkward teenage years, or bookish childhood. But honestly, I don't feel as though my verbal and written communication has ever been described as feminine. "Strong," or "advanced for my age" were used when the speaker was being polite. (I can remember a conversation with a teacher in 4th grade when she mentioned that she spoke to me like she would an adult, knowing that I would understand what she was saying.)  I was always yelling out answers in class, especially in math and science lessons. It took me years to get in the habit of raising my hand to speak, and by the time I'd figured that out, I had also figured out how to read a different book under my desk or read ahead in the book the rest of the class was struggling to get 1 chapter into, completely uninterested in what was going on. By the time I hit 7th, I was adept at keeping one finger on the page the class was working on, and reading ahead to the things I was actually interested in.

I feel that, as an adult, when I disagree with something and I speak vehemently or passionately about it, I get accused of being mad, or yelling. I can pepper it with smiles and consciously keep my voice tones low, and I still get the accusation. WTF is up with that? And why do I feel like if I was a man my counter points would be accepted without the complaints about my tone?


August is an interesting month for me this year, probably heightening my awareness of these things. I'm turning 30 this month. Control of my fertility is high on my priority list right now. The onslaught of state, national and religious groups fighting to take away my control of my reproductive organs is upsetting. Honestly, I find it hard some days to deal fairly with my Christian neighbors, it can be difficult to divorce them from the larger religious organizations trampling my human rights. But, that's fodder for a whole 'nother post.

As some of you know, I stopped shaving years ago. I was/am tired of the media saturation promoting their airbrushed, unattainable version of femininity. One of the best things about the lack of a television in our house if I don't have to see that crap on a daily basis.  Hair, stretch marks, freckles, wrinkles and fat are all part of reality. Yet women embracing those aspects of their feminine reality are scarce. Armpits4August is a group of women doing just that. Encouraging women to grow their own under arm hair and to love it and rejoice in the perfect hair that our wonderful bodies grow. Not to shave it away, wax it away or hide it under sleeves. They are mainly in the UK right now, which is too bad for me, no rallies near enough I could get to one.

Also this month, much nearer to home, is the August 25th National Go Topless Day. I ask you this, my American readers, why is it my male neighbor can mow his lawn topless and I can't? Why is my husband so sure that I would get arrested if I tried something like that? There are no laws about it on record for my town. Just the vague sort of indecent exposure type laws. In New York City, law enforcement and community activists annually remind citizens that such displays are completely legal in that city. Male or female, equal treatment, everyone can show nipples in public.  Does the constitution not extend to Iowa? Does my equal treatment depend on my geographic nearness to one of the coasts?

So, if you hear of my arrest on the 25th, you'll know why.

I guess I should just resign myself to the comments about my less-than-feminine traits. Especially since I flaunt pretty much every societal norm for my gender. Proudly. With one finger in the air.
I have opinions and I'll say them. I have hair, and I'll grow it. With any luck my boys won't grow up with the current bullshit view on what feminine is. Maybe they'll have more freedom in expressing their own uniqueness. Maybe their wives and/or daughters will have more freedom because of it.

Here's something fun to end today's post.


---------------Jennie Fun Fact
Perhaps the single most feminine aspect to my communication is the circle I put over my lower case 'i' in my stubbornly not-cursive handwriting. I learned cursive enough to pass the 3rd grade requirements, and I knew then that I was never going to use it again, and I haven't. But even that circle, has its roots not in girlie doodling, but in logic. It was because of that same 3rd grade class, in our daily cursive exercises, with a teacher who was sloppy about her 't' crossing and 'i' dotting. Because of that sloppiness her cursive 'l', 't', and 'i' all looked a lot a like. I thought, that's just a recipe for miscommunication, I'm going to make sure my 'i' are clearly 'i's and not stumpy 'l's. So I used the forced daily cursive writing practice as a medium for changing my handwriting, and I taught myself the circle over the 'i' and I've never gone back. 

Take care y'all,
Jennie