It’s been a while

I know, I take forever and a day to post something new–sorry about that.  Life just takes on a super speed the older you get, and time seems to slide by with no effort whatsoever.

The year has started off well.  Family is good, friends are doing well, life in general is a-okay.  I put in three garden beds this year, rejuvenating the raised ones we built in the past.  I did put in less tomatoes per bed versus the square foot gardening method I’ve used in the past, because I want to see if less per square foot yields a better harvest or not.  I put in the tried and true varieties, yellow pear, Juliette, San Marzano, as well as some new ones, including the tomato that started Heinz Ketchup.  My bell pepper bushes are doing great, finally, because I planted them in the partial shade of the peach tree.  Here in San Antonio some shade is needed for them to produce well, I’ve found from personal experience.  I have a few cucumber plants, one that is producing impressive cucumbers, and the rest (five plants) a Burpee variety that is producing a LOT of flowers, but no cucumbers save for one cuke.  Not happy about that.  I had that happen with a pumpkin variety from Burpee in the past, all flowers, no produce.  Grrrrr, especially when you devote prime real estate to those plants.  My yellow and red onions are doing great, as well as yellow squash and broccoli plants.  My basil is rebounding from seed it dropped, as it has done a few years in a row.  Thyme is still chugging along, along with the Meyer Lemon and lime bushes/trees.  I’m not sure what happened to the peach tree–lots of blooms, zero peaches.  Bummer.  The roses are blooming, not as abundant as in years prior, but still a decent showing.  I keep encouraging my fig tree to grow, giving it pep talks, a few hugs here and there.  My Grandma had a HUGE fig tree.  I used to climb it when I was little to harvest the figs at the top!  My fig tree could be climbed by a lady bug.  *Sigh*  Maybe it’ll surprise me before we leave.

Yes, leave.  We’ve pretty much cemented we’ll be moving when hubby retires in approximately 3-1/2 years, barring any unforeseen circumstance, and we’ve pretty much settled on Tennessee, leaning towards the eastern part.  No state income tax, property taxes drastically lower than what we currently have, as well as a multitude of services offered that we don’t have here–yep, Tennessee is looking pretty darned good.  We want a place where we can experience all four seasons, not just variations of summer, have snow but not have to constantly shovel/dig our way out, and have enough rain where the word “drought” has no meaning.  Johnson City, Kingsport, Jonesborough, Knoxville, etc, all fit those criteria.  We want to move to a place where our retirement dollars go the farthest, and so far this area is fulfilling all those wishes.  Not to mention I saw a video where two men were metal detecting in Tennessee, and they had dug down about four feet with A SHOVEL, by hand.  OMG, that’s unheard of where I live.  You either hit limestone, or have clay so dense you need a stick of dynamite to get that deep.  I want to be able to garden, vegetables, fruits, fruit trees, roses, vines, and maybe, just maybe, some lilacs.  Oh, I LOVE the smell of lilacs!  Tennessee seems to be the place to do all of that, and then some.

So, my attention has turned to making our current home as up-to-date and welcoming as possible within the next three years, to max out the value when it comes time to sell.  We joined Angie’s List to be able to select from companies that have favorable reviews from actual customers in our area.  From them we found an electrician and a drywall repairman to come in and change out a bathroom fixture as well as repair drywall from said bathroom fixture swap as well as a plumbing repair.  They both did excellent jobs, and we’ll probably have the drywall company come out to remove wallpaper from a bathroom(s), re-texture as well as paint, not to mention the electrician addressing any lighting remodeling.

Okay, any guys reading this can check out NOW.  What follows is female-only information.  Got it?

I turned 50 in February.  I’ve had symptoms of perimenopause for about 3 to 4 years; irregular periods (early to late, heavy to light), hot flashes, some hair thinning, skin dryness, etc.  Two years ago I had a cyst flare up in my right breast to the size of a ping pong ball–no joke.  After diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds, it was determined to be “normal”.  How in holy hell is a ping pong ball sized cyst “normal” in your breast???  Don’t get me wrong–I’m not complaining, in fact, I’m VERY thankful it was normal.  The cancer surgeon I had a special consultation with told me if I could tolerate the discomfort, it was fine to leave it in place.  If it became too painful, he could drain it via a needle.  Needle/breast???  Yeah, NO, if at all possible.  He felt it would shrink as my hormones started to settle into menopause.

Was he right?  Yes.  The cyst shrank to the size of a pinto bean over the ensuing 18 months.  The days of wishing I could take my breasts off and leave them on a table because they hurt so bad seem to be in the past, too.  What they don’t tell you about perimenopause/menopause, though, goes beyond the hot flashes, irritability, collagen loss, etc.  I thought I was losing my mind.  In the past year I’ve had bladder problems, intestinal problems, cardiac problems, memory problems, reproductive issues, weight gain in the form of fat, etc.  From an outsider’s point of view, I probably sounded like a hypochondriac.  But the above listed problems could be documented–urgency, frequency, throwing off white cells as if an infection was present; abdominal pain, tenderness, constipation; can’t remember why I got up and went into a room; painful intercourse, rawness; and the biggest fear-inducing symptom of all, my heart skipping beats, feeling like an alien was doing kickboxing in my chest.  What in the Hell is Going On???

The answer?  Perimenopause/menopause.  Think about it.  If you’re my age, approximately, hormones have been something your body has been exposed to for approximately 40 years.  These are hormones that control your sex drive, your body development, your reproductive development, adrenal function, etc.  You’ve been influenced by these hormones for 40 years–what kind of withdrawal symptoms do you think you’re going to go through when your body starts producing less of said hormones?  It’s like a drug addict that’s going through withdrawal!

A body of a 50-year-old requires different vitamin/mineral levels than a body of a 20-year-old.  When my heart started skipping beats and feeling like an alien was trying to kick its way out of my chest when the skips would occur, I started doing research.  At 50, we don’t need as much iron as we did when we were younger, but we need more magnesium, more vitamin D, more zinc, probiotics.  I started taking Centrum Silver for Women, as well as supplemental magnesium, vitamin D, zinc and probiotics.  Also found out the best way to take in magnesium was through Epsom salts in the bath–it’s absorbed better through the skin than the digestive tract.  Within a week and a half of supplementing my vitamins/minerals, vitamin D, zinc, probiotics and magnesium, my skipped beats were down to occurring a few times a day, with much less intensity than when they first started, and almost all of my female issues completely disappeared.

Mother Nature hasn’t reared her head since March 9th.  It’s the longest I’ve gone without a period without being pregnant.  And yes, I’m NOT pregnant!  Bite your tongue!  I’ve been exercising between 30 minutes and 60 minutes per day, every day.  I’ve slowly reduced my weight, lowered my blood pressure, and decreased the instances of skipped heart beats by doing so.  Between the treadmill, weight lifting, recumbent bike and (my newest acquisition) a spin bike, it has made my heart and my mood much, much healthier.

I’ll be continuing on with the home improvements, as well as body improvements, as time goes on.  In approximately three to three and a half years’ time, hopefully I’ll be blogging about our major move from Texas to Tennessee.