Guadalupe River State Park

I probably have written about Guadalupe River State Park, but just figured that since that was my outing today, it can’t hurt to write again.

Back in the misty dawn of history, I used to go to Guadalupe River State Park up US Route 281 to State Route 46. This, combined with its mailing address in Spring Branch, made it feel like it was way out in the boonies (is boonies racist? I’ll leave it here for now).

So, when we wanted to go to a nearby state park, Thomas, Alex, and I used to go to Government Canyon State Park, which has a mailing address of San Antonio.

Then, at some point, it may have been due to my next-door-neighbors, I realized that if I go up Blanco Road to State Route 46, it’s not nearly such an arduous trek.

I just checked Google Maps, and Government Canyon is ever-so-slightly closer, but that route is way more inconvenient. As a result, I’ve been using Guadalupe River as my “local” state park.

There are a few places to walk there, but the biggest draw is the Guadalupe River, just like it says in the name. Today, Evelyn and I took the dogs up there to start to expose them to swimming. We got each of them to swim a bit, but none of them seemed really enthusiastic.

Mila swimming in the Guadalupe River. Will she ever like it? Dunno. But if I ever take her on, I don’t know, a boat or a dock and she falls in, at least she’s able to keep afloat. I played around with the levels on this photo, but ended up just leaving it as-is.

We then walked around in the park for a while to lessen the possibility of wet-dog smell in the car, and once the dogs, and my sandals, were dry, we headed home.

We definitely intend to take the dogs back to the river. We’ll being chairs and snacks this time (Evelyn has a canopy/pavilion thing we can sit under, too) and be prepared to hang out for a while. Maybe a few trips like that will have them more eager to spend time in the water.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Today we have Holes by Louis Sachar. I’d always heard great things about Holes, but couldn’t get focused enough to read it until I saw it in Half Price Books on my annual trip to buy myself a Christmas present. Unlike some of my annual Half Price Books books, this was definitely worth it.

Dream Journal

Since I’ve decided that my dreams might be a good source for possible fiction stories, I may decide to actually do a dream journal here.

My dad insists that all dreams mean something and usually I take that with a grain of salt and think that they’re mostly about my desire to be able to write fiction again or to have the money to travel the way I want to. This one, however, seems to be packed with at least three meanings.

I was visiting some kind of factory with Thomas. We did the factory tour and it was all very interesting. We left (the parking garage was my usual dream parking garage, in that it looked like M.C. Escher was the architect).

I decided for some reason to go back to the factory and this time the floor was quaking. I found out that the material the factor had been using was being quarried out from under the building itself and had destabilized the building.

Now, there is the obvious end-of-my-marriage interpretation, with everything being okay with Thomas and falling apart without him.

But another interpretation is something that’s been on my mind yet. And that’s. . . .

Okay, we’ll start in the last couple of weeks. In one of my Reddit communities, a poster said that they were struggling with learning to love themselves. They’d achieved all they wanted to, and they still felt unfulfilled.

My immediate reaction was that they were getting their self-esteem from their own achievements rather than from a feeling of intrinsic worth as a human being. And I realized that was a big part of my own problem. I feel like I can achieve my way to feeling better about myself.

And I haven’t achieved anything like my potential. I worry that I should push myself harder and achieve more, but there’s a part of me that recognizes that I should love myself despite not achieving what I had hoped to.

And I think that I might be putting the proverbial cart before the horse. I craved love and acceptance from my mother, and she gave me her attempt to make me an √úberkind instead. If I can base my feelings of worth from who I am and that I am a human being who deserves love, maybe, just maybe, that will lead me to a place where I can achieve what I feel is my potential.

And that’s what I see in that dream. Building the factory on top of the source of its raw materials destabilized the factory. If the factory stood on its own, with the mine somewhere else, then it wouldn’t be threatening to fall into the hole that is now where the mine used to be.

Also, I shouldn’t hire M.C. Escher to design a parking garage.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Today we have the first book in Margaret Petersen Haddix’s Greystone Secrets series: The Strangers. Chess, Emma, and Finn Greystone find out that three children also named Chess, Emma, and Finn, and having the same birthdates have been kidnapped. Soon afterward, their own mother goes on a business trip and the three Greystone siblings begin to search for their mother and to find out what, exactly, is going on.

I have bought the second book in the Greystone Secrets series, and downloaded it to read by cellphone light during the snowstorm, but haven’t quite gotten to it yet. And, since I read The Strangers in October of 2019, even if I were to read it tonight, the Gratuitous Amazon Link is way far away. Also, it feels very weird having a two-paragraph Gratuitous Amazon Link. I don’t think I’ve ever done this before.

Yay!

I finally finished my taxes last night (April 10, 2021). I’m getting a slightly larger refund than I did last year, so that’s nice.

I usually get right on my taxes, but this year I sold a bunch of stock to pay for critical care vet bills for my poor Phobos who died of hyperparathyroidism, possibly secondary to cancer. I opted not to have him necropsied because I wanted to know that I’d done everything I could for him and if something that I could’ve fixed would turn up in the necropsy, it’d haunt me. So definitely hyperparathyroidism (the fix for which is surgery that he couldn’t’ve had because he was very low on platelets).

Anyway, as I said before, I sold a bunch of stock and I remembered from the last time I (well, we, technically) sold a bunch of stock Thomas needed to take a crash course in tax accounting to figure out if we sold it at a profit or a loss and by how much.

I usually use TurboTax, largely because I have so many bank and investment accounts that it’s nice that TurboTax makes sure I don’t miss anything. I have three investment accounts, and CDs in three different banks.

I’d hoped that TurboTax would be able to do the math for me and it swears to me that it did, so I went ahead and filed. I also buy the Audit Defense package because I’m always scared that I missed something. I don’t think I’ve ever made a “you’ll go to jail for this” mistake, but still, it’s nice to hope that the Audit Defense thing will work for me.

I filed it last night and then today got notified that the IRS accepted my return, so everything should go smoothly from here. I hope.

For today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link, we’re back to one of my favorite YA/kidlit authors, Ally Carter. I don’t know if I have a read date for the first book in this series, and I haven’t read the third book yet (dang life getting in the way!). So, today we have the middle book in the Embassy Row trilogy, Take the Key and Lock Her Up. The premise of the series is that Grace Blakely has moved in with her maternal grandfather, the ambassador to the small Mediterranean nation of Adria. She makes new friends and discovers long-held family secrets along the way.

Let’s See If I Can Make this Quick Post Quick

Ha! That’ll never happen. I have to be up in nine hours, so I don’t want to spend all of it writing; I’d like to get *some* sleep.

Let’s think. I guess that last night’s dream will take up some words towards my 35,000 word goal.

I was at the movies? Watching a movie on television? Something like that. And the movie that was playing was one of the Harry Potter movies. I don’t know if they were the original Daniel Radcliffe ones or newer ones. But as the movie progressed, I found myself actually *in* the movie.

And the longer I was in the movie, the less Harry Potterish the movie seemed. I met a man with a small child and the man told me that he had a new wife, not the mother of the child, who, when he said her name, I recognized it as the name of a woman who had figured in a video that had gone viral in which she had been behaving badly. I don’t know what she was doing; I think she may have been mouthing off to a cashier or a waiter or something.

The group I was with ended up inside Malfoy Manor somehow, and while we were snooping around, it occurred to me, like a memory that I already had, not like something that I’d been told, that the guy I was with had a twin brother who’d died somehow.

We ended up inside Narcissa Malfoy’s wardrobe and I remembered a scene where Hermione was wandering around in there and that the very back of the wardrobe is where the most beautiful of all of Narcissa’s beautiful clothing was located.

I seem to recall having an ongoing theme of beautiful dresses in my dreams. I swear I had a dream where my mom had a hidden wardrobe of gowns in the back of her closet (or was it in our basement? dreams are weird).

This, in turn, may have been influenced by having seen a wedding gown dressing room at my local Sears when I was a kid. I didn’t know what I was looking at. I only saw a room with mirrors all over and a platform in the middle. In fact, I never saw another one until I was getting ready for my own wedding.

Anyway, Narcissa’s wardrobe was a room full of shoes and purses, laid out more like a shoe store than anything else, and then a small closet at the back. You open the small closet and there’s another type of clothing in there, like, pants and skirts, maybe and an even smaller closet. Then you open the even smaller closet and there’s another type of clothing, like tops, and a smaller closet. And then eventually you come to a very tiny closet about the size of the knee hole in a desk and that’s where the gowns were.

Something happened there and we ended up in some kind of danger and someone rescued us. It was a person of indeterminate gender dressed up in a way similar to a sandperson from Star Wars. They were wrapped in brown fabric and had some kind of mask on their face. I got the impression that the person who rescued us was the twin of the guy in our group.

When we got safely out of Malfoy Manor, we bumped into a woman who was a kind of mother figure for our group and we ran to her and I hugged her.

When I first woke up, I realized that the place we were was less like Hogwarts and more like New Rome from Rick Riordan’s mythology books. There were entire families living there, not just students.

And now that I’m thinking about it again, I realized that the entire dream took place in some kind of shelter, like maybe a cave or something.

One day fiction will come back to me and I’ll be able to parlay at least one of these dreams into a book and maybe, just maybe, be able to make enough money to survive on my own. Maybe.

I know that my Gratuitous Amazon Link should be a less gratuitous Harry Potter or Rick Riordan book, but I think I’m going to continue to go through my Goodreads list like I have been doing. So, today we have The Hidden Power of F*cking Up, by the Try Guys. In The Hidden Power of F*cking Up, each of the Guys takes an area that they feel insecure about and sets a goal for improving that area. We watch their journeys and get to enjoy the humor that the Try Guys are famous for along the way.

Procrastination

I need to get back to looking for an app that will let me dictate my posts. I have had so many ideas for posts and now that I’m sitting down at my computer, zip.

I think I may be asexual. In the orientation way, not the reproduction way. Though if you’d ever seen Alex and me standing next to each other, apparently we look like I created him by budding.

I’ve never been in step with my peers regarding sexual matters. I was surrounded by budding allosexuals for years during middle school and just felt so out of place during their conversations about sex. I would complain to my mom, who I think was more than likely ace, because she never seemed to believe me. “Girls don’t talk like that,” she’d say. “That’s not natural,” was her response when I became friends with an allosexual who allosexed quite a bit.

I think that she thought that girls didn’t talk like that because she didn’t talk like that and I think that she didn’t think it was natural because it wasn’t natural for her. Her friends may have intuited that she wasn’t motivated by sex and didn’t talk about it around her as a result, as well.

Meanwhile, the situations I found myself in were *not* friend groups. There were the eighth grade girls talking about hiding naked guys in their rooms and the sex-obsessed budding allosexuals in my Girl Scout troop at about the same time. And, like I said, I’d go to my mom for moral support and get the aforementioned “girls don’t talk like that” that really gave me the impression that she didn’t believe me.

Then there’s the real sore spot on my soul — Doctor Who. I loved Doctor Who. I loved the patchy continuity, I loved the way the quarries of the UK could so convincingly play other planets, I loved the characters, and I really, really loved the “no sex on the TARDIS” rule. I could relax and watch it and be comfortable, knowing that random penises wouldn’t suddenly be popping out at me (thank you for that stressor, Stephen King).

And Doctor Who was the first thing that Thomas and I ever talked to each other about. It was very important to me during my adolescence. I always hoped to find a good Doctor Who fan club and actually, you know, have a social life. That never happened.

After the show was cancelled and resurrected as a novel series, I picked up a few of the Virgin imprint novels and there was sex on the TARDIS. Ick. No thank you.

When they decided to relaunch the series, Thomas said that he had heard that they’d pulled Virgin’s contract because the books weren’t family-friendly enough.

My eyes are stinging right now.

Deep breath, Olivia. Let’s do this.

I was thrilled. They were going to make the new series family-friendly. Yay!

We didn’t have BBC America, so we didn’t get to watch the show in real time. I don’t even know if my cable company even had it.

So several years passed of me being envious of people who could watch it. Then they started talking about how sexy it was. How clearly the characters were boning when the cameras were off.

I know that you can’t go home again or step in the same river or whatever. But I was crushed. I’ve seen a few episodes and Thomas would talk and talk and talk about them, but I just couldn’t commit. One time after Thomas and I divorced, a group I was in was just having a field day talking about all of the sex on the show and it drove me into a full meltdown.

Poor Alex had to talk me down. If I can avoid touching my investments until my death, Alex will inherit a million dollars from me and he’ll have earned every penny.

I’ve pretty much worked out most of my angst for right now, so I guess I’ll sign off with a Gratuitous Amazon Link. Today we have Tara Westover’s memoir Educated, which chronicles the development of Westover from the home-schooled daughter of survivalists in Idaho to earning her Ph.D. in history from Cambridge University. It’s a wonderful book and I was captivated by it.

Reduce, Reuse, Recyle . . . Embellish?

Back in the fall, I began a project of unraveling a cotton blanket in order to make a new blanket out of it.

I have always had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. And I do mean always. When I was little, I would sleep in what my mom told me was 15-minute increments and it was driving her crazy. So she asked my pediatrician, who suggested she spike my bottle with whiskey. I . . . don’t even know.

When I was ten, I had an EEG. My third grade teacher had never had a child as distracted as I was. She thought I was having absence seizures.

Two years later, my best friend convinced me to join the girls’ summer softball league. I was not at all athletic and she assured me that it was all just for fun and I’d enjoy it.

I did not enjoy it. In fact, I didn’t enjoy it so much that the rest of the team invited my best friend to join them in ganging up on me. She took them up on it and so for however-many weeks it was, I was all by myself with no one to support me (my mom’s best friend’s daughter didn’t even support me). One of the girls decided to try to trick me into believing that I could be the hero of a game if I’d steal home.

For those who don’t know baseball/softball lingo, that means to just run towards home plate from third base when it’s not actually time for the people on the bases to move. I’d been telling them that no way was I going to do that, because I knew that I’d never be able to do it and that it would just expose me to more ridicule.

Still, they kept on me. Every game, “This is the one where you’re going to steal home.” “Not going to happen.”

Finally, I decided that the only way to make it stop would be to just do it and let them laugh at me. But I wasn’t going to make it look like I really was going along with it, so I just walked off from third base towards home plate.

My mom thought that this was the result of some kind of brain malfunction. She didn’t ask me what happened or anything. She just called my pediatrician (a different one from the one who suggested she spike my bottle) and scheduled a brain examination.

Anyway, I needed to be asleep for the test, so she kept me up all night and then gave me . . . a sleeping pill of some sort before we left the house. They hooked the electrodes up to my head and left me alone in a dark room.

My mom says that the tests show that I was awake the whole time, but I really only remember waking up once when someone opened the door to look at me.

But still, between the sleep deprivation and the sleeping pill, you’d expect that not even someone opening the door would have woken me up, right?

And it wasn’t just those things. I always had trouble sleeping. I tend towards bimodal sleeping anyhow, where I go to sleep and wake up about four hours later, and then go to sleep after having been up for maybe half an hour.

I talked to my first psychiatrist about my sleep problems and he suggested that maybe I had sleep apnea, but I think that would’ve shown up on the EEG. My psychiatrist suggested that if I had sleep apnea I would snore, and both Thomas and Alex assure me that they’ve never heard me snoring.

So, my psychiatrist suggested that maybe I’m having trouble regulating my body temperature at night. He suggested that I try turning the air conditioning down a degree or two at bedtime and that worked really well.

My dad moved in with me ten years ago (!) and he gets cold way easier than I do, so we stopped having the temperature drop farther at night. Then my insomnia came back.

I have recently remembered the conversation about my body temperature, and so I started sleeping on top of my covers. That works really well.

I’ve also heard good things about the weighted blanket, but the only one I like, which is knitted out of cotton, is $200 for more weight than I need at my weight. So now I’m thinking that when I make this new blanket, I’m going to thread glass beads onto the blanket as I go. Probably one every other stitch and one every other row, so that there’s some space between the beads.

I will, of course, not be able to sleep on top of this blanket. It’ll be far too bumpy for that. But just maybe it’ll have that weighted blanket magic and sleeping under it will give me a good night’s rest.

I haven’t finished unraveling the old blanket, but I am starting to cast the new blanket on so that I can see how it works out. I’ll make posts once I have some pictures of the work in progress.

In Gratuitous Amazon Link news, we have The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson.

Hardware . . . Inventory?

Since I’m doing all of this writing on my computers, my hardware has been on my mind a lot lately. Additionally, every time I pause a YouTube video, it takes quite a while to get up to full steam again.

So. I got this computer in I think it was 2013? 2015? It’s hella old and running really slowly. I hesitate to replace it based just on that (I only replaced my first Android phone in 2019. I literally couldn’t install software on it anymore and now I use it to listen to podcasts and Chinesepod lessons in my car).

I had to have a new hard drive installed in this computer a few years ago because the hard drive just crapped out on me. I have a data drive, so I didn’t lose any data (hooray for data drives!), but the c:\ drive wouldn’t work at all anymore.

More pressing, in a odd way, is that I’d like to start using my most recent laptop (which, by “most recent” I mean I got it when Alex was a toddler). I booted it up recently and discovered that the BIOS can’t find the hard drive at all. I don’t know if my computer repair place can install a new one, but I just need to be able to write on it. If I could watch YouTube videos on it, that’d be nice, too, but not necessary. I’d like to take the laptop with me when traveling. I’m not planning on doing any traveling this month, so I don’t need to get it fixed for Camp NaNoWriMo. I do need to remember to call the computer people about it anyhow. Maybe I should get a new battery, too.

My phone is in good shape. I also have a tablet from 2012 that I literally can only run Kindle on anymore. Which means that I have a nine-year-old e-reader. I can work with that.

Gratuitous Amazon Link: In 2015, a friend gave me a copy of Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson, a steampunky science fiction novel set on a planet called Solace. I don’t have a read date for that one yet, so instead I’m linking to its sequel The Secrets of Solace. It’s odd for a sequel, because the characters from the first book aren’t even referenced in this one. But I really enjoyed the book and its look into the World of Solace. I just realized that I’ve never read the third book in the series, The Quest to the Uncharted Lands. I’ve added it to my Want to Read shelf on Goodreads.

My Travel Memories: 1988, an Introduction

My whole life, I wanted to see New York City. I wanted to visit Central Park and Grand Central Station, and go to the tops of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. My folks had gone to the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens and my mom had hated New York City. Every time we went to the northeast and I suggested New York City, she rejected it out of hand.

Now for some personal history. In the early 1970s, my mom became friends with another lady who had three kids — boys Tyler and Thomas and a girl, let’s call her Sue. Sue was just a baby and Tyler and Thomas were a few years younger than I was, but Tyler had a very high vocabulary and was extremely talkative, so he and I became friends. Friendly? Well, we’re friends now, so let’s just go with friends.

Thomas didn’t speak much during those years. That didn’t come until the mid 80s when I graduated from high school. My mom told me that Tyler and Thomas’s families watched Doctor Who, as I also did, and so Thomas and I had a long conversation on the subject. I wondered why he’d been so quiet all those years, because I found him very pleasant to talk to.

A few years later, Tyler and Thomas graduated from high school and my mom and I went to their high school graduation party. Thomas was even more charming than he’d been a few years earlier and I found him very attractive.

I started going out with Tyler and Thomas and some of their friends occasionally, but I didn’t know if Thomas found me as attractive as I found him.

A few months later, a friend wanted me to meet her new boyfriend (who is now her husband), and knowing that the friend tends to get wrapped up in her boyfriends, I knew I’d need someone to keep me company and so I decided that this might be my chance to find out if Thomas found me attractive. I called him up and asked if my friend and I could work it out to meet for dinner or something, would he like to go with me? He said he would.

We never met up with my friend, but Thomas and I started spending more time together, and in February of 1988, we started dating. When my folks were planning our 1988 trip, my mom said that since I was grown up and would be going out on my own someday, I could pick the destination, I chose New York City.

My mom had a friend who’d just come back from Philadelphia, where they’d had a wonderful time. My dad had also recently found out that his father had trained for the Navy on the USS Constellation, which was built in 1854 (my paternal grandfather was born a long, long time ago). The Constellation was then, and is now, in Baltimore.

And that’s how we ended up going on a trip to New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore in 1988. And, yes, that Thomas is my Thomas, my ex-husband. We got married in 1991. More on that whenever I get to 1991.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. The folks at one of the places I hang out on line had a ongoing thing about a comic book heroine called Squirrel Girl. It had been a long time since I read comic books, but when I decided to get back into them, Squirrel Girl was one of the ones I tried. And I loved them. So today I bring you the first compilation volume of the series, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1: Squirrel Power, by Ryan North, Steve Ditko, Will Murray, and Erica Henderson.

Working on Improving My Body

I’m not getting any younger* and, while I haven’t noticed any significant decline in my physical functioning, I know that it’ll come someday.

So, to that end, I’m trying to do things to improve my physical health and, if it makes me, er, hotter, um, I’m okay with that.

Of course, I’ve been walking as much as I can. After Alex moved out, I had a real decline in my mood, which led to me not doing any walking, which led me to having an even worse mood problem.** I’m pretty sure I’ve turned it around, but I may backslide.

And now I’m starting a new project. I have never, in my entire life, been able to do the splits. So I found that Cassey Ho’s Blogilates site had a 30-day splits challenge. Every day, you do these five repeated stretches and starting on the sixth day doing a sixth, different, stretch every day.

I think that this project may be a bit like Hooked on Phonics***, where if it doesn’t work, the program isn’t the problem, you are. If your kid doesn’t improve on their reading, you obviously didn’t apply the program correctly. In the 30 days to the splits program, there’s no “if you skip a day, it’s no big deal.” You can’t skip a day of stretching. So, if you want to do it correctly, every time you miss a day, you have to start all over. I missed yesterday, so guess what I’m doing tonight before bed? Yep. Day 1. I’ll post here if I ever get it together and can do all 30 days.

Our Gratuitous Amazon Link for today is, much like my last post (or two posts ago, I’m not sure how this is going to work out), in Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series. Today the book is the second book in the series, Deep Wizardry. In Deep Wizardry, the lives of the residents of the sea are being endangered and Nita and Kit are assigned to help S’reee, a humpback whale wizard, perform a ritual that will set things to rights. I love this book. OMG.

*The other day, I was talking about prepping for my 50th birthday colonoscopy to a very, very young coworker who finally asked me my age. Another very young coworker told her that she shouldn’t’ve asked me that question, but I don’t have any secrets, so I told her.

**This led me to the conclusion that I may be self-medicating my mood problems with exercise, which concerned me. I’ve always thought of self-medication as less than ideal. So I mentioned it to my shrink, who said that it made sense that I felt better when/after walking and she didn’t seem to have a problem with it. So that’s a relief.

***No shame to anyone that was helped by Hooked on Phonics. I have a degree in education and I know that phonics can be an important building block to learning to read. It is not the only way to learn to read, though. Some kids read by sight. Some kids need phonics. Some kids need a combination of the two. The pendulum swings back and forth from sight reading to phonics every so many years (10? 20?) and the reason that the pendulum swings back and forth is that both methods are useful and if you want the entire population of kids to read, you will always need to have both in your arsenal. :steps off soapbox:

My Travel Memories: Battle Ground, Indiana

I think.

On our way back to Chicago from Ohio, we went through Tippecanoe County, Indiana. The site of the battle of Tippecanoe.

We didn’t go for any kind of white supremacist reasons or anything. After all, the Battle of Tippecanoe was the United States Army versus the Native Americans. So, yeah. There’s that.

We went there because just to the north of the battlefield was an old Methodist church camp where my mom used to go to camp. The camp had, at that point, been sitting empty since sometime in the late 1960s. My mom wanted to take some pictures of the buildings there while they were still standing.

My mom’s picture of the chapel (just like it says on the tin) at the old church camp, 1987

So that brings my memories of our 1987 trip to an end. Up next: 1988 –New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore!