70s Flashback

No, I’m not having flashbacks to the decade of disco, the oil crisis, feminism, civil rights, etc. I’m talking about autumn-like temperatures in the mid-70s at lunch time here in Kansas City.  I took full advantage of the beautiful weather by walking a couple of blocks to my favorite local Italian restaurant for lunch.

WeatherAfternoon14Aug2013For a comparison, here’s the average temperatures, historically, reported for Kansas City (thanks to the Weather Underground for the stats):

August 14, 2013 Max Temp Min Temp
Normal (KMCI) 88 °F 68 °F
Record (KMCI) 113 °F (1936) 54 °F (2002)
Yesterday 80 °F 66 °F

When I first walked out of my house this morning, I knew something was different.  For starters, the sky was clear.  I felt a bit of a chill in the air, not something I expect to feel in the middle of August during a Kansas summer.  The dashboard information center in the van confirmed temperatures in the lower 60s in the pre-dawn morning air.

PreSunrise14Aug2013I took the above photograph about 20-25 minutes before sunrise this morning.  I can’t take an actual sunrise photo during the work week because the sun is rising at or shortly after 6:30 a.m. Central local time.  By that time, I’m fifteen minutes into my morning commute, picking up the last three of my vanpool riders.  I did drive into a glorious golden orange sun hanging barely above the horizon for a few minutes.  The atmosphere was pretty hazy, so I could look directly at the sun for long periods of time.  I didn’t spy any sunspots though … my eyes are not quite that good.  I’m far-sighted, but not that far-sighted.

So today I’m very thankful for mild temperatures, low humidity and beautiful clear skies.

A Bunch of Little Bits Make a Big Whole

Today’s gratitude journal post may be a bit rambly.  I don’t have a cute photo to share.  I’m not feeling extraordinarily witty either (not that I’m ever anything but marginally witty).  Nothing momentous has occurred in the last twenty-four hours in my small sphere of space.  But often it’s the little things that add up to the best moments.

I came home last night to some of the best grilled chicken courtesy of my hubby’s wonderful rub and grilling skills.  Hands down it was hundreds of orders of magnitude better than the barbecued chicken I tried at the baseball game.

After dinner, we hung clingy clear plastic drop cloths in the main bathroom to prep for painting the ceiling.  We managed to complete that task without too many harsh words or bodily harm.

We took the dogs, Lexy and Apollo, on a short walk after sundown.  I could see the almost quarter moon easily, as well as Venus and Saturn (near the moon).  Terry and Lexy headed home early and Apollo and I walked for another twenty minutes.  I didn’t see many children out playing (a couple of teenagers) because school starts this week.  Summer break is over for them.

Terry is taking both dogs to the vet today.  We’re not sure what’s going on with Lexy.  She’s got a spot up near her left shoulder-blade that she keeps trying to scratch.  We’ve treated her for fleas and ticks and inspected her skin.  We gave her a bath.  She’s still scratching that spot.  Terry’s worried she may have been bitten by something.  Lexy will get a pedicure from the vet as well.

We’re also worried about Apollo.  He’s been lethargic lately.  And he has a growth on his back that we’ve had the vet look at before.  Terry wants a needle biopsy done, so poor Apollo will get poked this afternoon.  I can’t remember if he’s getting a pedicure or not like Lexy is.

All of them will get some sort of treat on the trip back home from the vet, probably mini-cheeseburgers.

So, today, and every other day, I’m grateful for my husband.  He’s great at so many things:

  • grilling
  • home improvement
  • pet care
  • being awesome

My life would be empty without him.

Anti-Dog Days of Summer

tbones gameI took the weekend off from my gratitude journal, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a ton of things to be grateful for.

Like most other weekends, I spent all of it with my hubby (shown eyeing me dubiously in the photo at left – I’m famous for my ‘candid camera’ approach to family photography).  We took a break from our home improvement projects to attend my employer’s summer event at the T-bones baseball game Saturday night.

tbones gameA short list of items I’m thankful for from the weekend:

  • free barbecue with free beer (if you drink beer – I had water)
  • free baseball
  • free fireworks
  • unKansas like summer temperatures in the 80s
  • not having to water my lawn (because it’s been raining)

Terry and I enjoyed all of the above, plus a good effort by the T-bones against a team from Fargo, who out hit and out scored them to win by two.  Saw a couple of double plays and a lot of errors that went mysteriously unreported for both teams.  I also enjoyed seeing the blast from baseball days past coaching first base for the T-bones:

tbones game
Frank White #20 coaching 1st for the T-bones

Frank even stopped at the bottom of our section, 109, to sign a few autographs after the game.  Almost made me wish I’d moved down a few rows since most everyone left the game after the seventh inning stretch.

Terry and I stubbornly stayed in our assigned seats until the lights were turned off and the fireworks began, only to discover that you can’t see the fireworks from the stands.  We quickly vacated our section and left through the front gate in time to see most of the fireworks.  We were home before eleven o’clock and I debated staying up to watch the Perseid meteor shower.  I opted for bed.

In hindsight, I should have stayed up as Sunday night/Monday morning, during the peak of the meteor shower, we experienced a vigorous thunderstorm which dumped an inch of rain in less than an hour during my Monday morning commute.  Thankfully, there’s always next year for the Perseids.

Afternoon Delight: Frozen Crumbly Chocolaty Goodness

Mocha Cookie Crumble FrappaccinoFor my first entry in my Gratitude Journal, I want to expound on the joys of frozen mocha cookie crumbly goodness.  For the past couple of months (summertime), this scrumptious treat has been available from Starbucks ~ the Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappaccino.  I took the photo (to the right) yesterday afternoon after making a quick stop between the Country Club Plaza and Crown Center.

Yesterday wasn’t particularly hot, but for the third day in a row, I left work with a persistent headache, possibly related to job/project stress or the weather (low pressure system most of the week).  I don’t like to take any medications if I can avoid it, so when I do get a headache, I reach for chocolate or a caffeinated drink.  In this case, I doubled down with a frozen blended mocha cookie beverage.  My headache vanished before I made it halfway to the bottom.

Thus I’m very grateful for the ease with which my headache left and for the incredibly delicious way in which I encouraged its exile.  And also grateful that there are two Starbucks near where I work:  one within walking distance on the Plaza and one on Main Street that I pass twice daily.

No, I don’t give in to temptation and treat myself every day.  Just occasionally … once a month or every other week.  I tried to make up for the extra calories I ingested yesterday by walking Apollo last night.

Reversing My Poles

mid-July moss rose bloom sEach quarter, my employer features a health enhancement challenge that I routinely register for with the best intentions.  Our theme this time around, which is beyond ironic, happens to be stress management.  I laugh every time I log into the intranet log page where I record my goals for this challenge.  My entire department (the ever maligned Information Technology one) is under tremendous pressure right now as we proceed through a merger with another firm.  Since so much of today’s business is transacted using technology, you can imagine the challenges we must overcome to provide a seamless transition for our internal customers.  Hence, my chuckles each time I review the stress-relieving activities I’m supposed to complete each day (a minimum of ten from among these):

  • 7-8 hours of sleep (I’m lucky if I get six, and I usually wake up at least 2-3 times thinking about work projects)
  • Hobby (My favorite hobby is reading, and I do that while driving by listening to audiobooks; my other hobby, amateur astronomy, is frustrated this season with inconvenient cloud cover)
  • Eliminate caffeine (Only if I don’t get a headache while at work … then I reach for a mocha or some other form of chocolate).
  • Exercise (I try to walk the dog for 30 minutes in the evening, if it’s not raining or so muggy that you start sweating the minute you step out the door.  This combos up with more reading of audiobooks because my dog’s not a great conversationalist, except with other dogs)
  • Deep breathing (If you count hyperventilating over some missed deadline or hurdle on a project)
  • Meditate/Quiet Reflection (If you consider being hypnotized by the road during the commute home or the oblivion of dreamless sleep)
  • Unplug from technology (Seriously, you expect me to do that? Only when my battery dies, which won’t happen since I bought a backup battery with my new smartphone back in January)
  • Quality time with a loved one (Renovating our main bathroom with my hubby)
  • Gratitude Journal (I just learned about this today which prompted this blog post)

Thnx4-logo-smallI watched a short video on negative thoughts.  Apparently, on average, I have 60,000 thoughts each day when I’m conscious.  Of those, about 70% will turn up negative.  To counteract that trend, I’m going to try writing a gratitude journal for twenty minutes per day.  I’ve actually done something similar here at this log, back in November 2011, when I wrote a blog post every day on things I was thankful for.  For the purposes of this endeavor, though, I’m going to pretend that I’m starting from scratch.

Starting tomorrow, I will post my first gratitude journal entry here.  Perhaps I will be able to flip from negative to positive before the sun flips its magnetic field.  If it helps let off some stress steam that has built up in me over the last few months, then I’m ready to give it a try.