Flash Fiction (Shards)

From the 24 January 99 word challenge at Carrot Ranch.

Shards of a Life

The line of soldiers walked slowly, cautiously, testing each step.  The IED detonated anyway, shattering the  Sergeant’s leg and leaving him mercifully unconscious. 

Thousands of miles away a phone rang.  The love of his life found her heart shattered by words as easily as his leg by explosives.

Months passed.  Months filled with hospitals and surgeries.  A leg put together with pins and rods. A person put back together with therapy and exercise. A heart held together with patience and hope. A couple linked together by the past.

Their bodies may have been shattered but their love remained whole.

Two Weeks In

Two weeks into the low carb way of eating and how I do love thee? I am not sure. I was shocked at how good I felt emotionally, even with my impending period at the end of the first week. I was starting to sleep better and slightly more energetic. And then week two smacked me right down with something; part head cold, part just plain tired and achy. The addition of a heavy period was not helpful. (Something is going around this area big time, it’s not just me feeling sick.)

I was tempted to put low carb aside for a few days. I really wanted orange juice and saltines, two foods I don’t normally crave. Instead I made soup and tried to nap once in awhile. It was a very long week though.

Now I am just going to share a few things I have learned:

  1. I do not like anything with Sucralose in it. I was all excited to find so many flavors of Quest bars and then when I got home I realized many of them had Sucralose. I am still on the fence about Stevia, I mostly avoid that too. I bought some erythritol (a sugar alcohol) and having been using that the few times I need a sweetener.
  2. You would think almond flour would be almond flour and net carbs would be the same regardless of brand. Apparently not. I found a great low carb pancake recipe (and they do taste yummy) but there was a lot of debate about the amount of carbs in them. So I started looking at the carb count of different almond flours and Trader Joe’s wins. Bob’s Red Mill almond flour (not meal) has 4g of net carbs per two tablespoons while Trader Joe’s brand has only 1g. I checked the ingredient lists and both just have blanched almonds. It is a puzzler.
  3. Mashed cauliflower tastes/feels (in your mouth) nothing like mashed potatoes. But cauliflower rice passes the pretend test for me.
  4. Eating out is not as hard as I thought it would be. But I do feel sad about french fries.
  5. Fat bombs are disgusting. I now avoid any recipe that calls for more than a tablespoon or two of coconut oil.
  6. Frank’s Hot Sauce (not the Wing sauce) is the bomb! I put it on eggs, in soups and of course on chicken. Perks everything up. For my cold I made chicken soup with homemade chicken broth from the freezer, cooked chicken from Trader Joe’s, grated zucchini and riced cauliflower. I threw in a handful of spices and a few good splashes of Frank’s, just what my sinuses needed and maybe 3g net carbs for a big bowl of soup.
  7. Keto bread isn’t bad, tastes okay just have to get used to a slightly different texture. (Photo is above.)

And now we are in week three. Part of me is ready to give in but I know it is just fatigue from my cold and an overly long period. Dinner is planned: grilled chicken, cauliflower rice and salad. And maybe I will treat myself to an apple. It seems silly to give up apples. Maybe I can do 30g of net carbs plus one apple a day? My life, my rules and I need to do what works for me, not live by a somewhat arbitrary number. We’ll see what happens.

Almond, hazelnut shortbread cookie.  2g net carbs apiece. (I over baked these a little, oops. Thinking I may sub a little cocoa powder next time, doesn’t that sound yummy!)

Flash Fiction (Colonnades)

Last fall I started participating in Carrot Ranch’s 99 word flash fiction challenges. Not all of them but more than I realized looking back. Now on to the next step, posting them here as well. Creative Courage!

This week’s theme (17 January) is colonnades (an evenly spaced row of columns); natural, architectural or metaphorical.

Giant Redwoods

She put the lawn chair all the way back and stared straight up.  It felt scary, a thrill in the pit of her stomach.  The trees towered so far above her, swaying at the top with the clouds holding on to keep them from veering too far.  She looked at the thick trunks of the redwoods, sure the movement at the top would topple them. How did the trunks stay so straight?  She wondered what would happen if a branch came crashing down.  Would she be able to move away, or watch mesmerized as the clouds let it go?

Photo Friday (Sabino Canyon)

One of my new things is to ask myself in the morning, “what would make me happy today?” and then try and do it. One overcast day last week I really wanted to go take some photos at Sabino Canyon. So after dropping small child off at school I ate my low carb breakfast and went for a walk. I cannot tell you how good it felt to do something simply because it made me happy.

You can just see the snow on the Rincon Mountains.
I walked up to that small building first.

Water in the river!  How odd it is that I get so excited about the river having water in it?
Another river shot.
My artsy atmospheric shot.  You can see snow all the way down South to the Santa Rita Mountains.  On a clear day you can see Mexico (the Sierra Madras I believe).

Keep your focus!

Creative Courage

My word for last year was “unhurried” and I loved it. Having a simple, one word reminder staring at me from various spots in my office really made a difference. So I decided I wanted to pick a word for this year.

Last November I read this article at Carrot Ranch and the words creative courage really stuck in my head. As soon as I started thinking about possibilities for this year’s word I knew right away “creative courage” was it. I dithered a bit though, are you allowed to borrow your word from someone else’s website? Am I stealing someone else’s dream? No, the idea came from someone else and Carrot Ranch wrote about it. I think I am good. I feel like the words found me. (And it is too late to change them anyway. We bonded instantly!)

I am already trying out my creative courage, not just in writing but in other artistic endeavors which I will write about soon. In writing I have been entering some of Carrot Ranch’s flash fiction challenges. Now I need to start posting those entries on my blog. The best part is even if my entry sucks they are only 99 words so won’t waste much of your time!

I actually got an honorable mention for one of my entries, now I have to figure out how to post my badge here. I guess I should link to the entry too? So here it is. I am having enough trouble formatting my posts with this new editor who knows how long it will take me to figure out the badge thing! But I am cultivating my creative courage and will persevere.

Photo Friday: More Snow

We got more than a foot of snow in the nearby mountains the first week of January and as luck would have it our 11th day of Christmas tag read: “go find some snow.” So on January 4th I took my son and his friend up the mountain. I knew it would be crazy crowded and told them the first parking spot we saw above the snow line we were taking. We ended up at around 6000′ with a good 8″ of snow on the ground.

My son and his friend went sledding, made a snowman and had a snowball fight. We took a break for hot chocolate and cookies and once I heard complaints of cold feet we headed home. We got really lucky going when we did as at the bottom of the mountain the Sheriff’s Dept was stopping cars from going up until more cars came down as they had run out of parking! I read the wait was up to 25 minutes.

While the kids played in the snow I walked around taking random photos.

No re-touching, that is how blue the sky was.

We only had one saucer but another family loaned one of their’s and pointed out the sled run they had packed down.  So nice of them!

Such a fun day!

Keep your focus!

2018 Summary + 2019 Plans

I am always a bit behind the rest of the world at the start of the year as we celebrate through Epiphany which is the 6th of January. So as I write this on the 9th my house is in transition from Christmas to winter with half filled totes and piles of decorations scattered throughout. I have “officially” started on my 2019 goals this week which means I need to finish with 2018!


My aspirations of 2018 were simple: be healthier and be happier. Since I had such vague goals I had vague results. But I do feel like I learned a lot and made progress. Habits I am keeping include meditation, taking calcium, psyllium husk and melatonin and going low carb.

I feel like most of my unhappiness is directly related to sleep and energy issues. Due to impending menopause I only have so much control (if any!) over these two areas. The melatonin and calcium do help with sleep and hot flashes.

Last August I tried my hand at eating low carb and was amazed at how good I felt. Now it may have been a hormonally timed fluke but I don’t think so. So as of 7 January I am going low carb for as long as I can handle it. Even if I don’t get a repeat of the ‘miracle in August’ everything I have read points to low carb being a much healthier way of eating with lots of benefits.


For 2019 I suppose my goals remain the same, be healthier and be happier. Low carb will handle the healthier part. Be happier has more pieces.

  • This year I have made a list in my Bullet Journal: “What do I want my life to look like 1 Dec 2019?”
    • Be writing on a regular basis
    • Get my son’s room de-cluttered and redone (paint, new furniture that works better, area rug)
    • Feel content with my current life
    • De-clutter the garage
    • Have more energy (this is where the low carb comes in)
    • Do more things that make me happy and fewer things that make me unhappy

I have steps and timelines and plans on how to achieve my goals this year. I’ll start with small, steady steps. I have promised myself to reevaluate on a regular basis (which I find myself already doing!) and be open to making changes as I decide what is working and what isn’t. And I will not let myself get totally derailed by a bad day or two.

I can’t forget that just because I want to feel better and do more means that I will magically be done with the insanity of getting to menopause.

  • Another list: “What to do when I am feeling unbearably, hormonally crabby or crappy?”
    • take a nap
    • watch a comedy
    • meditate
    • stare out the window
    • whatever I damn well feel like doing!

I guess that about sums things up. Up next, my word for the year!

One of my last non-low carb meals, oatmeal on a cold morning!

Photo Friday: Snow!

In a highly unusual turn of weather we have been getting snow here in Tucson. And not just in the mountains but here “in the valley” as they say. And not just once but twice already! And yet the pollen count is still high. This place really is crazy. These photos are from New Year’s Day.

My lemon tree is covered with a blanket for the next few nights. Hope my lemons make it, they look so good this year!
The orange tree has been left to fend for itself.  The oranges are quite thick skinned so I think they will be okay.

This is what we woke up to New Year’s Day!

I loved the gray and white day, it made the Christmas lights so sparkly!

And then on Wed (the 2nd) it started snowing around 9:30 a.m. Little teeny tiny flakes. It was too warm and wet for them to stick but they came down for more than 2 hours! My son and I went for a long walk and it was wonderful!

Wednesday, January 2nd.

Keep Your Focus!

2018 Aspirations: December

I wasn’t going to do a summary blog for this month.  I was thinking a ‘what I learned’ summation for the year as a whole in January would suffice.

But halfway through the month I have changed  my mind.  I am a woman so I can do that.  I wish I could say a menopausal woman but alas…

December 12th:  It has been a very unhappy start to the month.  My insomnia has gotten out of control.  After a complete meltdown concerning my son not doing a task by a set deadline I realized I needed to solve the sleep problem.   And if I couldn’t figure out how to get more sleep then I needed to make arrangements to slink off to a deserted mountain cabin until such time I could be civil to people again.

 My current insomnia type is the wake in the middle of the night variety.  I am pretty sure this is being caused by a mild hot flash.  The problem was, once awake I couldn’t get back to sleep anytime soon.  For a few nights I got up and wrapped Christmas presents which was actually kind of nice.  Very peaceful.

But then the sleep deprivation began to build and that led to pure misery.  Waking at 3:00a.m. meant it was too late to take something to help me get back to sleep.  I wanted to just start going to bed at 6:00p.m. but that doesn’t work for so many reasons.

Enter melatonin.  Of course I had heard of it but I didn’t realize I could take it long term and at a higher dosage.  Not only does it help you fall asleep but it helps you stay asleep and sleep deeper.  So I got a bottle of the 10mg dosage and started popping a pill at bedtime.  The first night I still woke up (twice I think) but I fell back asleep pretty quickly. Phew.

January 2: It was a pretty unhappy ending to the month with a few days in the middle that were bearable. Actually those days were around the 21st through Christmas. For most of the month I felt really tired, even when I did sleep and apathetic about pretty much everything, including celebrating the holidays. I muddled through in a most unsatisfactory way.

I had a fairly heavy period again in the middle of the month. Luckily the worst was over before our trip to Flagstaff. (the picture is of me attempting to tame a dinosaur at a park in Flagstaff) 🙂 I realized that the bad days are now out numbering the good and it is time to make some changes. Stay Tuned.

Nice Dinosaur