04/21/16 Updates (Cinnamon Torment, Lego Addiction, and Time to Breathe)

This entry is part 10 of 14 in the series Periodic Updates

Life, Our Universe, and Pets:

Still more than a week later, but closer than the last time.  I may be finding a rhythm for things again.

Our biggest excitement is a return to normalcy.  Or, what counts for us as normal.  In a very specific area.

Our chickens are finally laying regularly again.  This means we have proper home eggs again, in the right colours.  We’ve had the Easter Eggers for long enough that not seeing green shells with regularity is weird.  Admittedly, buying eggs at all seems vaguely wrong.  We aren’t quite to an embarrassment of eggs as yet, but they are keeping us in steady supply.  I am quite looking forward to a number of things I only make when we have a largess – deviled eggs and quiche, among others.

We also are making a concerted effort to give our beloved Wolfhound more exercise and socialization.  Walks are complicated, given the randomness of my physical capacities.  Taking her out on my own isn’t really an option yet, as we need to solidify her leash training and figure out if dog + wheelchair = potential walk.

However, we’ve managed a few rambles, and she loves it.

Dulce Updates Rawhide Pic

We already knew she had an amazing personality, though internally I admitted to some potential bias – but our walks with her have proved it.

She loves people.  Yet, she’s respectful enough to not force herself on not-dog-people.

There were plenty of dog people.  She made friends everywhere we went, and was even invited into a store so that more people could properly meet her.  When we stopped for lunch, we settled ourselves outside, and she had visitors from inside.

“Is that a Wolfhound?  Oh my, she’s so pretty.  And her ears…  and beard…  and….”

Many versions of that conversation were had, and it was brilliant to watch her brighten days and provoke glee and…

We’ve found a trainer who is willing to work with us at home, without adding an astronomical surcharge.  (The primary location she uses is upstairs.  Stairs are iffy with forearm canes and my wheelchair isn’t that high tech.)  Hoping we will have much good news as things progress.

The Flash -- "The Fury of Firestorm" -- Image FLA204A_0152b -- Pictured: Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow -- Photo: Cate Cameron /The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

On the mind over matter front…  My matter must have gone to a mountaintop or a secret dojo in the clouds or something else intensive and improbable.  The complications of the year so far continue, and I’m having an interesting time with managing life.  We’re keeping things on a relatively even keel, but it is becoming more challenging.  There are still piles of things that need to be done to get the new doctor the initial data she needs, but getting them done has been unendingly complicated.

It was a spectacular victory that I dealt with taxes on time.  The level of proud I was of myself was a wee bit embarrassing.

Social Media and the Internet:  From SHINY! to the RNG hates me

Things here are relatively calm and happy.  It is still amazing to me the kind of support that can come through the internet.  It isn’t just about information, friendship exists here, too.

Nothing new, though with that as a constant, does there really need to be?

With less energy to work with (given the matter-training mentioned above) my focus has needed to be in other areas.

Teas, Cocoas, and Coffees (Oh My!)

This is one of the places my focus has been.  Which makes a certain amount of sense, given that this is my “job.”

We’d made a bunch of new things nearish the winter holiday season, and one of my priorities has been to Finally List them All.

Triforce Tea Angled

I managed that quite handily, so since our last updates post the following things have become available:  Earlderberry Grey, Triforce Tea, Darth Apricot, Leia’s Legacy, and SereniTea:  Raven’s Rest.

Triforce Tea marks our first step into teas for Zelda, though we have made teas saluting other games that we’ve enjoyed.  An extended thread in our Tea Naming Group has sparked ideas that pretty much guarantee at least three more teas to come for that particular fandom.

We’re closing disturbingly swiftly on having 200 different blends of tea, coffee, and cocoa to offer.  Given that we’ve finally decided to start working up decaffeinated coffee blends as well, it is likely we will reach this number before our third anniversary.  We haven’t decided yet how we’re going to mark this milestone, but there is definitely a sense that we should do something.

Suggestions are appreciated.

On an amusing note, though not as funny as cocoa parkour – one of our attempts to complete one of our ingredients quests went awry.

We’ve been hunting for a way to add cinnamon to our cocoas.  I know I am not alone in having a liking for cinnamon in my chocolate – especially my hot chocolate.  We’ve been shying away from attempting to just use powdered herb in our cocoas, as our first experiment with that went hilariously badly.  (Peppermint.  Taste was right, but it was very….  chewy….)  Through one of our fruit and nut suppliers we were able to find organic hard candies, which work quite well for adding extra flavours to the cocoas.  However, the selection is somewhat limited.  Cinnamon appears to be impossible to find in that format.  We can find artificial cinnamon hard candies, but I wouldn’t want to make Atomic Fireball Cocoa, even if it weren’t for our aversion to artificial colourings and flavourings.

We popped into a local baking supply shop on one of my excursions into the Outside World.  We found these interesting chip things that claimed to be cinnamon.  They weren’t organic, but as real cinnamon was apparently involved, we decided to bring a bag home to test.

The first step in such things, is, of course, to taste the potential ingredient.

Mister Tea tried one first, and his facial expression really should have warned me.  It wasn’t disgusted, exactly, not at first, more…  confused.  Something along the lines of – “What is this that I have put in my mouth?”

He handed me one, and I attempted to eat it.  I really tried.  I did.  I cannot describe to you the flavour experience that Slimered my tongue.  There aren’t words.  Not that truly express it.  It was waxy.  And sticky in that pervasive oil-that’s-a-little-off sort of way.  Eventually there was almost cinnamon…  I think.

I couldn’t swallow it.

Mister Tea did.  Two of them, in fact.  I admire his perseverance.  (Or personal sacrifice in service to Desert Sage.  One of the two.)

Our quest continues.

Entertainment:  The Final Frontier

IMG_0412

I mentioned in the last updates post that we’d rediscovered comics.  The diving back in was thorough.

X-23 is a character I’ve been curious about for years, due to the gift of an action figure ages back, and tantalising snippets regarding her character story.  Unfortunately, her story began so many years ago, we’re having difficulty putting it together at all – much less in sequence.  I want to read more, and so does Mister Tea, so we shall continue to hunt.

The Civil War sequence from Marvel was another arc that both Mister Tea and I wanted to read.  We picked up our first years ago, and have been pursuing more as we can.  My favourites so far are the Frontlines books.  I couldn’t adjust to the some of the art in the X-Men, the New Warriors was…  not my speed in either art or story…  but I want to know the whole story.  This is one of the ways in which comics become dangerous.  You cannot get the entire story without collecting all the bits and pieces from all the titles it leaks over into. I’m a completist.  Comics are evil.

Marvel Zombies was great and disturbing fun.  We’ve only read the first, but there were so many aspects of it I quite enjoyed.  Including one of the great things about graphic novels – the extra information.  Letters and intros and extra art from alternate covers and….

The ‘Michonne Special’ and ‘A Flight of Angels’ were part of a care package from a dear friend.  Real mail from real people who care is always amazing – and settling down to read these two finally was like a hug.  Couldn’t actually share the pot of tea and read companionably, but…  still very neat.  I enjoyed them both, for different reasons.  I love the character of Michonne from TWD (not unusual), and having the pieces of her story as a comic, and all by itself, made me happy.  ‘A Flight of Angels’ is a collection of stories within a story – regarding the Fae and Angels.  I loved the premise of it, and the end result was surprising.

The 50 Years of Doctor Who book made me want to sit down and watch them all.  In order.  Which I cannot do.  Which is saddening.  I learned a number of interesting things about various doctors, ways in which the show was created, and the Royal Navy….

…  and I’m going to stop meandering on about the various books here.  Everything in the pile except for the New Warriors Prelude, the Transmet, and the ADHD Alternatives are solidly recommended by me.  (The first two because they didn’t appeal and the third because most people wouldn’t enjoy it.)

In other news, we’ve been resisting a particular game for quite some time now.  We knew how dangerous it would be.

Lego Dimensions

Resistance was futile.  (Combine a sequence of bad days and a need to stay still and distracted for a bit with a reason for celebration and….)

Mister Tea’s theory on this game is that video game designers were looking at Magic: The Gathering and trying to figure out how to apply a similarly unendingly addictive model to their market.  (I kicked my cardboard crack habit many many moons ago, and can quite understand the desire, from a business standpoint.)

From this thought was born Skylanders, among others, but they wanted to increase the draw.

Finding a way to add one of most popular toys of the modern era, both IN play and OUT of play was diabolical.  You build the legos that you then use to play the game.  Once they added the Doctor and the Tardis I knew it was only a matter of time before we gave in.

It has been loads of fun.  It has also finally made us start experimenting with something resembling a pillow nest for me.

Lego Platform

This platform integrates with gameplay in a way that requires you to move characters about on it.  Everything from hacking to teleport tunnels to…  but our cables do not reach anywhere near far enough for us to share the couch and properly play the game.

We’re slowly fine-tuning a floorspace area for me.  So far it involves two pillows and a gigantic pillowpet and snuggly blankets.  Not perfect yet, but I’ve considered trying to sleep in it because it makes life hurt less.

Last Cutscene

There are several things that came to mind for this last set of words.  The inside of my head has been a hive of activity lately, much of it unwanted.  (There comes a point where things just get too loud and complicated in there.)  Journaling helps some, reading helps more.  Not as much with the comics explosion that has been the last few months, but the deeper kind that occurs with a full book.

What doesn’t help is being poked and prodded about everything that should be done.  All of it now, of course.

Social Media Image

“269 People who follow Desert Sage Natural haven’t heard from you in a while” proclaims Facebook.  It also informs me that I haven’t posted in one day.

One.  Day.

It’s a small section of the sidebar on my Facebook page, but it looms far larger than the real estate it takes up.

All of the social media platforms have one aspect or another of that not-so-subtle pressure.

Even Etsy is after me to figure out how to take pictures or video I can stand with my phone and start posting shop updates.  I’ve read a few places that they have restructured so that your place in search results will be harmed if you do not do so.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, Blogging, the thing attached to gmail I cannot remember the name of right now, others I know of, and likely things I’ve never heard of.

It’s part of a pace increase and an expectation of immediacy that is part of the price of technology.

I do love the capacity to have conversations with people all over the world, but sometimes it feels like the ability to communicate immediately, regardless of distance, leads to the expectation that it should be standard.

Not just speaking to external expectations here, it seeps inside my head  as well.

When you combine this pacing with the “interesting times” of living with chronic illness, it can cause an irrational sense of guilt.  Frankly, I’m assuming it can do the same even without the added fun of a chronic issue.

If this hits you the way it does me from time to time, just remember:

You are human.

Let’s repeat that, just to be sure.  You.  Are.  Human.

You need sleep, food, rest, recuperation – time to recharge.

Snag a good book and a comfy space.  Curl up with a dog or a cat and co-exist with rumbly purrs or relaxed puppy sighs.  Meditate.  Watch a movie with someone you love.  Allow yourself to be silly.  Create.  Play.

Whatever it is that gives you back the ability to be you – make the time for it.

Lissa Needed Reminder 2

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