Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wherein I Summarize my Previous Whiny Post and Ask for Your Help

OK, so, I sat down to write a book review and it quickly devolved into me whining about how I get a lot of headaches because I spend too much time in front of the computer because I have no discipline.  This has resulted in increasingly longer periods of absence from the blogosphere, and it makes me feel like a bad blogger.  As nerdy as it sounds, I came to the conclusion that I need to draw up an actual schedule for myself and stick to it because otherwise I am too dumb to not keep giving myself headaches.

Here's where I could use your help though, fellow bloggers.  Does anybody else out there do this?  How do you break up your time?  Do you break up your on-line activities by day--writing blog posts on Monday, reading/commenting on blogs on Tuesday, running errands on Wednesday, catching up on current events/news on Thursday, etc.--or do you do all of these in a day and just allow, say a certain amount of time for each?  Any other hints, tips, or tricks?

As a good-faith gesture (Ha!  I almost typed "good-faith jester), I am going to hit "Publish" and then I am going to walk away from the computer for the night instead of starting in on the book review that I didn't get done earlier.  Even though I really just want to get the review done now that I've finally decided to buckle down and do it.  'Cause, you know, there's no telling when I'll get back to it now...see, this is how I get myself into trouble.

OK, I'm going.    

Trying to Find Balance...and a Little Bit (OK, a lot) of Whining

Seriously, this is long and whiny, and I'm going to post a two-sentence (OK, maybe two-paragraph) summary here in just a minute anyway; but if you feel like sticking with it, enter at your own risk.

Wow, I just realized that I am over half-way through my reading year...well, half-way through the year, period, but...anyway, I have only reviewed four books this year.  That's pitiful.  I just haven't been very motivated to do any reviews lately.  Part of it is probably because I haven't read that many books that I feel all that strongly about; but, also, I have been having a really hard time being a good judge of how much time I spend in front of the computer, and I keep debilitating myself with headaches.

The thing is, I can feel when I've been sitting in front of the computer for too long--I start getting this weird eye pressure and pain between my eyebrows and it sort of wraps all the way around to the back of my head--and I know I should stop then, but if I'm in the middle of blogging, I'll try to finish my post or I just want to check this one more thing on email or I just need to work a little bit on this spreadsheet or I'm just going to catch up on a couple more blogs and wait! What's this headline about?? Etc.

The other thing is, I think the eye pain sets in a lot like other muscle aches.  You know how you get that two-day soreness after you've worked out really hard?  Like, the day you workout, you might feel really exhausted, but you're not really sore and the next day you're starting to feel it a little bit and by the next day, you can't get your own cereal because it's inside the top cabinet, and it hurts to reach up and open the door?  I think it's kind of like that.  I'll over do it one day, and the next day I'm like, Hey, I feel OK, I'm going to go sit in front of the computer some more or, worse yet, play on the iPad for a little while (add a teeny tiny bit of nausea to the above symptoms...yeah, I know!); and then the next day, I'm out with a dull ache in between my eyes for an entire day.  Sometimes it gets so bad that I actually can't physically exert myself at all because it just intensifies the headache so much.  And I mean AT ALL.  Like, the pressure required to squeeze the handles on my pruning shears to trim my flowers causes the blood going to my head to throb and exponentially increase the pain in my head.

I know there is an easy solution for this:  Don't spend so much time in front of the computer.  It's just such a vicious cycle though.  If I'm out of commission for a day or two with a headache, I might be pretty good at staying away from the computer for an additional day or two after that, but then I feel like I have to catch up, so the next time I sit down at the computer, I'm behind on my blog and I want to catch up on the news and I want to see what's going on with my stocks and I need to see what everyone's up to on Facebook and Twitter and, now, Google+, and, Oh!  Headache!

I think part of the problem is also my prescription for my glasses.  I need to get in to my optometrist and see if he can tweak my glasses a little bit, and that's another thing I hate doing.  Just once, ONCE, I'd like to get a new pair of glasses or contacts and have them be right the first time.  The optometrist can only fiddle around with my prescription so much, and at some point I might just have to go back to the ophthalmologist for a whole new round of, "Which one is better, A or B?...A?...or B?" "They're both about the same." "No, one of them should definitely be better." "OK, let me see them again...." "Don't think about it; just answer."  Well, let's see, if I stare at the screen without blinking, it's A.  If I blink, it's B.  If I blink a couple times in rapid succession, it's A...or B.  I DON'T KNOW!  THEY BOTH LOOK THE SAME!  WELL, OK, NOT THE SAME, DIFFERENT, BUT NOT IN A BETTER/WORSE KIND OF WAY, JUST IN A ONE'S-BLURRIER-IN-A-DIFFERENT-WAY KIND OF WAY AND IF I ANSWER THIS WRONG I'LL HAVE TO  WALK AROUND FOR A COUPLE WEEKS FEELING LIKE SOMEBODY'S TRYING TO PULL MY LEFT EYEBALL OUT OF MY HEAD WHILE ALSO TWISTING IT JUUUUUST A LITTLE BIT!

And if any of you well-meaning people out there pop in with a "Why don't you just get LASIK?" I will come through the screen and punch you in the face.  Nothing personal.  I know all the same people you do who have had it done and have said it's the best thing they've ever done EVER; I'm just not ready to have anybody laser my eyeball open just yet, OK?        

So, vision issues aside, I'd appreciate any advice.  Although mine are largely self-inflicted, I know I'm not the only one with issues balancing virtual and real life.  I could just sit down, write my blog, post my tweets, and leave, but that just seems rude.  Besides, where's the fun in that?  I want to read your blogs and follow your interesting links and leave comments on your posts too.  (And, OK, yes, have you do the same for me!)  How do I do all that without making myself miserable?  I know it's mostly just an issue of discipline--I just need to say, "OK, one hour(...or whatever) today and that's it!" but the question is, what do I do in that one hour?  Do I only visit my book bloggers on Monday and my garden bloggers on Tuesday and work on my personal stuff (spreadsheets, email, etc.) on Wednesday and blog on Thursday?  What about all the interesting articles that crop up throughout the week?  I can't save all those for one day because then I'm back sitting in front of the computer for 8 straight hours, catching up on the week's events.  Then I'm out of commission for a few days, everything backs up, and it's right back

OK, I've realized that as nerdy as it sounds, I think I AM going to have to actually make a schedule for my virtual life and try to stick to it.

Wow.  Congratulations to anyone who made it all the way through this.  Believe it or not, this started out as a book review.  Ha!  All this stuff has been going around in my head for a long time now, but actually sitting down and putting into words helps me think through it.  Thanks, and I'm sorry.  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

June 2010 Vacation Cont'd: Yosemite-Day Two, Part Two: Mostly Waterfalls

After we left the Mariposa Grove, we headed back toward Yosemite Valley so that we could take the same pictures that at least 800,000 other people probably took that day!  But, hey, it's worth taking, especially when you have a beautiful clear day like we did.  This is the Tunnel View...view.

That's El Capitan on the left, Bridalveil Fall on the right, and Half Dome tucked away in the back.

Driving from Tunnel View back into Yosemite Valley, we saw a bear.
Hello, Mr. Bear!

And a bunch of other stunning sights...most of them waterfalls, apparently.  
Ribbon Fall from Southside Dr.

Bridalveil Fall from Southside Dr.

Yosemite Falls (Upper and Lower) (and lots of mosquitos) from Southside Dr.

Yosemite Falls from Lower Yosemite Fall Trail

Lower Yosemite Fall

Yosemite Creek

My "This is beautiful, but I'm about ready to go." face.

I don't think we got any pictures of Horsetail Fall, but if it had looked this this, we definitely would have! Wow.

And that concludes the Yosemite portion of our summer vacation.  From here we spent the night back in Mariposa, then got on the road to Sacremento to catch our return flight to HNL.  For a trip that was largely unlplanned, this turned out to be a great vacation. 
(If you're like me, you'll go crazy combing through this post, trying to figure out what point D corresponds to.  It doesn't correspond to anything.  I just had to put that in there as a waypoint to get my route to come out correctly.  I apologize for any distress this might have caused!)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day-July 2011

Well, somehow I managed to completely miss last month's GBBD.  I don't know what happened--it just went right past me without even stopping to say hi.  I waved at it and everything, but it was gone; it wasn't going to turn around just for little ol' me.  But here I am today, and here it is, so here we go!

First, my miniature rose, which hasn't bloomed in months, finally made an appearance just in time for today's photo shoot!

I was surprised to see my bleeding heart, Clerodendrum thomsonae, preparing to bloom a few days ago since just a few days before that, I was thinking about pruning it back pretty severely.  Maybe it picked up on my mood and decided it had better get it in gear before it got cut back to a nub.

This belongs to my purple plant that I don't know the name of, you know the one that I watched unfold from a kidney bean.

As always, my golden shrimp plant, Pachystachys lutea.  Or as my young friend Abbi would say, SHRIMP PLANT!  (That's a play on the enthusiasm she expressed for the shrimp trucks when her family was out here on vacation.  Any time the topic of meal time came up, Abbi would interject her opinion, which was always, "SHRIMP TRUCK!")

I think my ice blue plumbago is blooming like it has never bloomed before, perhaps because I haven't attacked it and cut it back to a nub lately.

My intensely blue lobelia continues to gain ground amongst the Sweet Alyssum in my lemon tree pot.  

My crape myrtle, which only blooms once a year, showed up right on time for Bloom Day as well.  I thought it was blooming early this year, but it turns out, it was just blooming late last year.  July seems to be its normal bloom time.  

In a thoughtful effort of color coordination, these volunteer snapdragons put themselves in the same pot as my crape myrtle.  Didn't they do a nice job?

More lobelia.  Man is it hard to get this color to show up accurately!  Anybody have any tips?

I don't know what is going on with my Agapanthus, but apparently it's been going on for a while now.  See the weird little collection of buds below the main group?  Below, you can also see a couple tiny little buds sticking out about half-way down the stem.  What is that? 

Of all my most recent acquisitions, my hardy ice plant seems to be holding on the best. 

Peeking out from the middle of all those leaves, watching over everything from the top of our rock wall is the yellow flower of my variegated hau, Hibiscus tiliaceus.

Thanks for joining me on this fine July day!  To see what else is blooming around the world, please visit our host, Carol, over at May Dreams Gardens.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

June 2010 Vacation Cont'd: Yosemite-Day Two: Big Trees!

Okay, back to our tour of Yosemite!  We had talked about visiting the Sequoia National Forest and/or  Sequoia and King's Canyon National Park on this trip, but that proved to be just a little too far out of the way for us, so we were psyched when we found out that there are sequoias in Yosemite!  Who knew?  Well, probably lots of people, but still.  It was a happy surprise for us!  So, after a nice rest in Mariposa (point C on the map below), it was back into the park and down to Mariposa Grove (point E) (Don't worry about point D--it doesn't correspond to anything.)  Parking was full, so we were looking at having to park and walk a fair distance.  Luckily, a shuttle bus came by just about then, and we were able to jump on.  Yay!

Once we got up to the grove, we did what we never do, and jumped on one of the trolley tours.

This way we knew we would get to see the whole grove, make it back in time to catch the shuttle bus back down to our car, and still have time to check out the park some more.  Although we would have liked more time to meander among the trees, this was still a nice tour.  We did get to stop and walk around at a couple different locations.

We even saw a deer!  I would have gotten a cool shot of him (her?  I can't tell) framed up in the burned out portion of the tree, but when the other people with cameras started running toward him to get a picture, he took off.  Go figure.  See what I mean about people ruining my wilderness?   

Anyway...we saw a deer!  And the Grizzly Giant. 
See that giant limb on the left?  It is 6+ feet in diameter!  I feel so insignificant!  (By the way, this shot of me would have been centered better on the tree, but someone started running after me with a camera and a got spooked and started shuffling off to the side.)

From here we left to head back into the valley to see what else there is to see.  Join me tomorrow for the wrap-up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

June 2010 Vacation Cont'd: Yosemite-Day One: Orientation

After a stunning lead-up to Yosemite National Park, we were starting to get excited.  If it was this pretty on the way to Yosemite, Yosemite itself must be amazing.  And it was.

We came in on the eastern side of the park, from Lee Vining (see map below, point A), and even though it was toward the end of June, there was still plenty of snow and ice floating in the water.  After about half-an-hour of driving, we caught our first glimpse of one of Yosemite's famous landmarks, Half Dome.

Wait, where is it?

Oh, okay, got it.

Along with Half Dome, we saw some more impressive cloud formations.  

So, after this, our first official sight-seeing stop in Yosemite, we wound our way down into Yosemite Valley (point B).  Somewhere along the way, we detoured and found the sad remains of a forest fire.

Upon closer inspection though, it was clear that this area was making a comeback, slowly but surely.

By the time we got into Yosemite Valley (map), it was nice and warm and not snowy.  And packed to the gills.  Oh my God.  I hate people in my wilderness, and this place was swarming with them!  Seriously.  The area is beautiful, but once you get into the heart of the valley, where all the lodging, shopping, and food is, it is absolutely stressful.  Maybe the newly implemented park and ride program will help with some of this, but I think it is still going to be chaotic.  If we had driven straight into this (i.e., entered the park from the west side), I think our whole trip would have been tainted.  I don't know if we would have even come back the next day.  (Okay, we totally would have because they have sequoias, and we wanted to see those, but otherwise, we totally wouldn't have come back.  Maybe.)  

It was sort of late in the day by the time we made it into the valley, and we needed to figure out where we were sleeping that night, so we didn't spend a lot of time looking around, but we knew we wanted to come back the next day.

Let me take a minute to say this:  Accomodations in Yosemite are no joke.  You had better have a plan if you are going there for a visit, at least during the peak season.  There was no lodging available in the park, AT ALL.  We ended up having to drive almost 30 miles west to the town of Mariposa (point C), and I think we literally found the last room that they had avaialable in town.  There were a few sketchy looking motels along the way that we didn't bother to check with, and they may have had some availability, but I'm guessing not.  The upside was, we really enjoyed Mariposa.  It's a cute little town, and we had some awesome pizza from the the Pizza Factory.  I appreciate a place that doesn't mess around with their toppings.  I ordered pepperoni, olives, and mushrooms, and you couldn't even see the pepperoni for all of the olives and mushrooms!

Tomorrow we'll go back into the park to check out the trees, and you know I love me some giant trees!  
(If you're like me, you'll go crazy combing through this post, trying to figure out what point D corresponds to.  It doesn't correspond to anything.  I just had to put that in there as a waypoint to get my route to come out correctly.  I apologize for any distress this might have caused!)
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

June 2010 Vacation Cont'd: Jacksonville to Yosemite

Now that I have finally updated you on the rest of last year's mainland summer vacation, it's time to start wrapping it up with our trip to Yosemite.  Like me, I'm sure you've seen pictures or video of Yosemite on TV, online, in your friends' vacation photos, etc., but I'm telling you right now, unless you've been there, you have no idea how spectacular it is!

We drove from Jacksonville, OR back to Sacramento, CA, and on the way, we decided to stop through Yosemite--might as well, right? It was a little bit out of the way, but not nearly as out of way as it would be once we got back to Hawaii!  We had a nice view along the way.  Nothing special, nothing special, then, ooh!  Something pretty is coming into view!

Well, hello, Pretty! 

After our scenic drive past Mt. Shasta, we continued on the eastern route, which would take us through Carson City, NV.  Along the way, we went through Lassen Volcanic National Park. I'm sure if we'd had time to stay there and explore it a little bit, we would have loved it, but it was sort of a half-assed decision to go there, and we ended up just staying there the night, camping with 53 of our closest friends, you know, exactly the type of camping I don't like, and by the time we got back on the road the next day, we were both just...grumbly.  We were wondering if maybe we'd made a mistake, tacking on this extra portion of the trip.

At some point, something shifted, and by the time we came around to Honey Lake, we were in a better mood.  This is a dry lake, something I'd never seen before, and it was surprisingly pretty.  It's hard to describe, and it's one of those things that doesn't show up all that well in pictures, but the whole thing had a soft, pretty feel to it that was completely different from everything else we'd been seeing.

A little ways past the lake, dust devils started kicking up like crazy in front of the mountains. 

A little further on, and we were starting to see some interesting cloud action and hints of more mountains on the horizon.  

And, we didn't realize it at the time, but we were getting our first glimpses of Yosemite

A little further on, we'd passed through Stanislaus National Forest (OMG, longest URL ever!), and after a few more bends in the road, the mountains were getting closer and now we had a beautiful view of Mono (rhymes with "oh no") Lake as well.  Mono Lake is a saline lake (roughly three times as salty as the ocean), and, among other things, it is home to about eight hundred bazillion alkali flies.  When I first heard about this, it sounded disgusting, but now that I've read a little bit about them, I have to admit, I'm kind of intrigued.   

For some much more stunning photography that probably was not shot out of a rental car window, please check out the two short promotional films that have been put together to promote this beautiful area. 

We knew that Yosemite would probably be amazing, but we had no idea that our drive there would be so spectacular.  Every place that we drove through had a beauty all its own.  If you're thinking about a road trip, you could do worse than this. 

View Larger Map

Tomorrow:  Yosemite!