Temporarily grounded. (Non-fitness updates.)

I titled this post “non-fitness updates” because there’s currently no fitness anything going on around here.

I’m not amused.

Long story short: I caught a virus, it hit me hard, I’m having a tough time shaking it, and bronchitis has joined the party. I’m at high risk for pneumonia. My last workout was last week Monday when I did that garage gym workout. My symptoms kicked in the next day, aka election day. I’ve been out-of-commission sick for nine days, and now my ass has to sit here not working out for another “maybe two and a half weeks” per doctor’s orders.

All of this is related to being medically immunosuppressed. I was blissfully pain-free on methotrexate, but here’s a part of the price! Haha!

Long story long (dry details for anyone interested): The doctor today said that there are several species of crud* ripping through my vicinity, and because of my plaquenil/methotrexate (immunosuppressant) autoimmune cocktail, I’m easy game for them… also, my body will have a hard time fighting any viruses that get into my system.

Yesterday, my rheumatologist put a temporary hold on the methotrexate until I get rid of this virus (while I continue with the plaquenil). Today, a primary care doctor prescribed antibiotics for the bronchitis I’ve developed. The meds should help with my coughing. I have my voice back, but just barely. I’ll take it, though… I was completely speechless with laryngitis on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

The doctor instructed me to “quarantine” myself for the duration of the illness, which could be up to two and a half weeks. “If you have to go out, you should wear a mask.”

(I’m sure you autoimmune readers can relate to all of this!)

Back to working out, though! I asked the doctor whether I could work out at home. In the parlance of the army, NO-GO. She said that I’m at high risk for pneumonia because of my autoimmune meds, so she doesn’t want me working out at all. She would prefer that I not leave the house. She would prefer that I remain on bed rest.

Is there a way to work out without working out? That’s the fitness question of the century, right? Enough innovators have tried to sell apparatuses that will “do the work for you.” I’m not supposed to get my heart-rate up. Maybe I can do this workout:

 

 

[Thanks for this, Caroline!]

So that’s the update! Stay aware and take all the precautions this winter, everyone! Callaghan caught my virus, of course. Poor guy. Luckily, he’s getting over it.

*”the crud”: 70’s throw-back slang, I guess. I never hear anyone say it anymore. Now we say “the plague,” which is more fun and more specific for infectious illnesses, anyway.

 

 

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Good night and good luck, Geronimo. (Desert tortoise update!)

Let’s talk about Geronimo one last time in 2018!

Geronimo has left the building. I mean, he’s gone into the building. He’s gone into his building. He’s gone into his burrow. He’s gone… for the rest of the year, and for the first few months of next year. Our beloved Sonoran desert tortoise has gone into hibernation. We won’t see him again until April or May.

The last time we saw him was November the 7th.

This is absolutely natural and expected, and it’s uneventful as such. However, I’m a new tortoise mom entering our first hibernation cycle, and as such, the next five months are going to go slowly. I’m not used to having animal babies who leave for five months. I miss him already! He’s spoiled us with his robust energy and affectionate personality, his always wanting to be with us and loving to be hand-fed and getting pets and scritches on his head and neck and under his chin and on the sides of his face and the tip of his nose. He loves human company and he loves to interact, so his absence is palpable.

It was interesting watching him progress to this point… to watch him gently fade away.

He ate with great appetite throughout the summer, growing more voracious as September gave way to October. Our yard – his yard – is a bottomless buffet of grasses, hibiscus flowers, hibiscus leaves, and weeds. He loves it all. He continued eating heartily throughout October, but with the last ten days of the month came cooler nights, and he slowed down with his eating. He hung out in his burrow more, even though daytime temperatures still registered in the 80’s. Sometimes he’d come out and bask in the sun for a little while before going back in.

Toward the end of the first week of November – last week – we’d look in and talk to him as he sat in his burrow. He wouldn’t come out. He sat just inside, toward the entrance, but not down at the bottom. Then we’d see him at the bottom with just his face visible. He’d take a few steps out toward us, then turn around and sit with his back to us.

On November 7, I looked in and saw his little face. He was looking at me. He blinked as I spoke to him, as he seems to do as a way of interacting with us. And that was it. He’s turned the corner at the bottom of his burrow to snuggle in for the winter, completely undetectable.

Here are some pics from mid-October:

 

Making his way up the path to his burrow…

 

Geronimo in the early fall

 

This guy will be so missed during hibernation!

 

It’s a relief that he’s been deemed healthy to hibernate and he can now do his natural thing, but of course I’m wringing my hands just a little. As I said, I’m not used to having animal babies who go away for five months out of the year.

See you next year, Geronimo!

 

 

Cold virus! New Reacher novel! But mainly… (Garage gym workout!)

It’s a good thing I got this garage gym workout done on Monday, because I woke up sick on Tuesday, and that was the end of my workout week. This particular virus bypassed my nasal passages and went straight for my throat. Whether I go to Body Pump this Saturday remains to be seen… if I’m coughing to the slightest degree, I’ll consider myself contagious and stay home. Gym friends: you’re welcome.

This is the first cold virus I’ve caught in over five years, as the last one was when we were living in France. It’s been even longer since I’ve had a sore throat! Rumor has it that my susceptibility’s increased courtesy of methotrexate. Luckily, the misfortune timed itself perfectly with the release of Lee Child’s new Reacher book, Past Tense, which I’m enjoying immensely. It’s already one of my favorite Reacher novels, and that’s out of Child’s entire (substantial) body of Reacher literature! Incidentally, I love that there’s reference to sumo in one of the fight scenes. I love a lot of things about this novel, but this is a garage gym post, so I’ll leave it at that.

For my first garage gym workout of fall/winter 2018, I kept it simple and followed a Body Combat workout from Les Mills On Demand. It was simple because it was a no-brainer; my favorite thing about a group fitness class is that someone tells you what to do, and you simply do it.

I recorded the workout track by track and crunched most of the sample pics together into frames in the interest of saving space.

Also, apologies for the terrible lighting! I tried to brighten the pics, but there was little payout in the effort. I’m in the shadows and the inadequate golden glow of a light bulb. I had to position myself where I did because I needed the mirror, though I switched directions a few times. I did my post-workout stretching near the open back door, though, so the lighting is better in those pics. I didn’t feel the need to brighten them.

All that said, here’s an idea of what you do in Les Mills Body Combat (cardio kickboxing). I tried to capture screenshots showing a range of the sorts of techniques applied in this high-intensity cardio workout:

 

[punches: jab, cross, hook, uppercut]

[defense: slipping, weaving]

[from Muay Thai: downward elbows]

[cardio/constant movement: dynamic stance, plyo, cross jacks, scissors]

[dynamic balance: repeating round kicks]

(My balance while doing these is terrible, by the way. Working on it.)

 

[from MMA: shoots (wrestling take-downs)]

[propulsion knee to push kick in two separate moves with the same leg]

[roundhouse chamber and kick – sorry about the incomplete kick pic!]

[from Tae Kwan Do/karate: blocks]

[from capoeira: escapes, ginga, front kick from ginga]

[from Tae Kwan Do/karate: back and side kicks]

[post-workout stretching and staring at the camera]

Body Combat is a great cardio workout, and I love the wide representation of martial arts styles integrated into it. I’m still getting acquainted with Les Mills’ On Demand offerings… I’m thinking I might try other LMOD workouts and record them, too.

 

 

No faster month. (October Favorites!)

This post is going to go as quickly as October. Shenanigans of all flavors abound! So I’m here once again to drop my favorites (of late) in mindless entertainment, vegan junk food, and  a couple of cruelty-free products, because it’s the little things that brighten our little worlds.

To sum up, October was an awesomely creeptastic month, made even better with a bonus good house guest. There’s a lot to be said about good house guests!

Let’s get right into it.

 

1). Bad Times at the El Royale (film)

 

 

We actually found ourselves in the movie theater not zero, not once, but twice in October!

We went to see Bad Times at the El Royale, in which it’s confirmed that Jeff Bridges is more than just The Dude, Jon Hamm is more than just Don Draper, and Chris Hemsworth is more than just a pretty face. Also, Quentin Tarantino isn’t the only one who can pull off a film like this. Good times, not bad times.

 

2). Halloween (2018) (film)

 

 

We also (surprise!) went to see Halloween (2018). If I’m not mistaken, this was the first Halloween film I’ve had the pleasure of catching in a theater. Halloween is my favorite classic horror flick of the slasher variety, so this was a treat. It was like that time I saw AC/DC live after enjoying their music for three decades. At long last, it happened… and it was worth it. Little things, right?

 

3). The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix)

 

 

The Haunting of Hill House: not only the scariest T.V. series we’ve ever seen, but maybe the scariest anything we’ve ever seen on a screen… especially as far as the ghosts. The ghosts of Hill House aren’t cheesy. They often appear casually and without warning, so there’s little in the way of cheap jump-scares. The series is psychologically dense and gorgeous in its visual elements. With an emphasis heavy on the family drama, you sometimes forget that you’re watching a work of horror, which heightens its chilling effect. Basically, if This is Us had a horror genre sister, it would be The Haunting of Hill House.

 

4). Lore (Amazon Prime original series)

 

 

Lore is Amazon Prime’s original horror documentary series. With each episode devoted to a horrific episode in history, Lore amounts to a collection of informative creative nonfiction short stories, each compelling in its production. We’ve enjoyed season 2’s story-telling even more than season one’s. We have two episodes left to go!

 

5). MHz Choice (streaming channel).

 

 

We finished all the Engrenages available on Hulu. Knowing that there was another season (the latest), we went online and did a mad search. How and where could we watch the most recent season of one of our favorite French series? We stumbled upon MHz Choice and added it to our Roku immediately. This is a channel that offers (I believe) international series and films exclusively.

 

6). Olly Protein Bar (Peanut Butter Chocolate).

 

Olly Protein Bar (Peanut Butter Chocolate)

 

Another month, another favorite protein/energy bar. It seems that way, doesn’t it? As with the last few months’, the Olly bar is vegan and gluten-free. At one time not long ago it would have been too sweet for me, but thanks to last month’s Blueberry Bliss Luna Bar discovery, my taste has now gotten accustomed to the fake sweetness of such bars. I’m okay with it. I really like this bar. The Olly bar is actually a cookie, rounded and dense, with a nutritional profile that surpasses that of the KIND breakfast bars I’d listed a couple of months ago (which I still enjoy). I should also add that so far, I only like the peanut butter flavor; I tried out the chocolate coconut Olly bar and loathed it. That’s just me… to each their own.

 

7). Follow Your Heart Dairy-free Parmesan Shredded Cheese Alternative.

 

Follow Your Heart Dairy-free Parmesan Shredded Cheese Alternative

 

I’ve probably talked about this stuff before, but I rediscovered it in October, and I’m still heavy on the kick. Follow Your Heart found a way to replicate shredded fresh Parmesan cheese using plant-based ingredients, and it’s delicious. Lactose intolerant and vegan friends, rejoice!

 

8). Fortune Yakisoba Stir Fry Noodle (Hot and Spicy).

 

Fortune Yakisoba Stir Fry Noodle (Hot and Spicy)

 

This is for sure a “favorites” list repeat; I listed it the first time two years ago. The processed-all-to-hell delicacy managed to vanish shortly thereafter. I was thrilled to find it again in October, cleverly disguised in new packaging. It’s the same as it was… it’s just as delicious, just as spicy, just as vegan, and just as inedible by Callaghan (too spicy-hot for his tolerance level). More for me! Heheh.

 

9). Yes to Superblueberries Skin Recharging cleaning facial wipes.

 

Yes to Superblueberries Skin Recharging cleaning facial wipes

 

The thing about posting a skincare regime post is that I change up my routine frequently, so whatever I’m doing when I post about it usually isn’t exactly what I’m doing several months later. In October, I started using these cleansing wipes in the morning in lieu of washing/exfoliating my face. I wanted to see what would happen if I stopped using water on my face twice a day. I haven’t noticed any adverse effects so far, and I’ve been liking the way the change has simplified my morning routine. These wipes work well for this purpose! They’re full of good stuff. My skin likes them.

 

10). e.l.f. Runway Ready Lip Palette (Berry Bliss).

 

e.l.f. Runway Ready Lip Palette Berry Bliss

 

The bloody kisses lip look I wore in October came from this cruelty-free and vegan palette… I layered the darkest shade over the red shade (third from the right). I love the creamy smoothness of this product. It applies easily, wears well, and feels comfortable. e.l.f. has done it again.

 

There we have it for now… we’re less than a week into November, and I already have a few favorites on deck! Spoiler alert: it’s garage gym season and it’s a sumo month and a few of my favorite MMA fighters are on next week’s UFC card. (Crossing fingers that everyone makes weight and stays on the card.) A solid combat sports month is underway. Let the good times roll, as they say.

 

The End.

Halloween 2018 (+ real horror and scary times).

Happy (day after) Halloween!

I’m still talking about it, yes. Just today. Halloween decided to happen on a day between blog days, so here we are.

Curiously, we didn’t dress up this year. The most I ended up doing was a lipstick ode to Bloody Kisses (as in the band Type O Negative). That was it. I did the rest of my make-up as I normally do:

 

Bloody Kisses Halloween 2018

 

(The lip product I’m wearing here is one of my favorite new little things, by the way. You’ll see it on the “October Favorites” list I’ll post next week Tuesday. Also, the color you see is the actual color; the pic is raw and untouched, as usual.)

I made it to Body Combat last night against all Halloween traffic odds. It took 50 minutes to get there! No, that’s not a typo! I’d left even earlier than usual, too. I got to the gym late but missed only half of the upper-body warm-up, so that was good.

Back at the house, we had zero trick-or-treaters, which wasn’t surprising; we’ve never had trick-or-treaters on our street. This year was like last year: I bought Halloween candy just in case, Callaghan harvested the ones he likes, and his co-workers get to eat the rest.

We lit candles and continued with The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. We happened to be on the Halloween episode!

The most deliciously scary thing we’ve watched this week has been The Haunting of Hill House. The ugliest scary thing I overheard this week was an exchange at the courthouse that included this snippet:

Customer: I’m not stupid.

Woman working behind the window: I suggest that you are.

Maybe the spookiest aspect of this exchange was the casual, low-voiced calmness of it. It was chilling how gracious and refined both women sounded in their quiet and measured tones.

I’ve read that cats respond to your voice in accordance with recognition of your tone. You can say heinous things to your cat, and your cat will feel content and loved if you deliver the words in a content and loving voice. This came to mind when I overheard these two women. I detected no aggravation, no aggression, nothing sharp-toned, nothing uttered loudly. No impatience. No snarling. Just the quiet “I’m not stupid.” “I suggest that you are.”

This is a strange moment in time, I thought. In history. It was a warm day and I’d walked to the courthouse, but I couldn’t shake the chill as I left to walk home.

 

 

The Drain, Brother, Larry, The Jester. (Day 7: Horror short film October!)

In OCTOBER, of all months, my mother-in-law – “Maman” – came from France having never been to the States. She was here for ten days.

Immediately bewildered, suspicious, and dismayed when she saw skeletons, jack o’lanterns, ghosts, and other Halloween figures hither and yon, I remembered my experience living in France: in dramatic comparison to the States, Halloween doesn’t exist there. With Maman visiting, I realized exactly how seriously we Americans take Halloween. We have a lot of popular holidays here, and Halloween is up in the top three.

Halloween in the States is ubiquitous. It’s in your face. At the bank – skulls! The supermarket – more skulls! At the Arizona Territory store – skulls, skulls, skulls! (Garden-variety skulls in addition to Dia de los Muertos skulls.) At Target – forget about it. A good quarter of the store is dedicated to Halloween, including a section of Halloween children’s books about hauntings and creatures of lore.

Poor devout Maman, crossing herself and literally kissing her imaginary rosary crucifix everywhere we went.

 

Target, Halloween 2018

 

Target, Halloween 2018

 

I’m happy to report that skulls did not stop Maman from having a grand time. For one thing, we got her into sumo. This happened by accident, the same way Dad accidentally got us into sumo. Maman sat down with us in front of the T.V. when we were re-watching the highlights from the last Grand Sumo Tournament. Next thing we knew, Maman was on the edge of her seat holding her breath during the bouts to see which wrestler would hit the floor or exit the ring first. She got totally into it. Heheh.*

*My work here is done

Getting on with today’s horror shorts, then, I’ve got a random assortment. This being the last day of our horror short series, and me being loathe to exclude any of the following films, I’m posting all four of them. That’s right – I’m coming at you with 32 minutes of horror on this final day!

1). The Drain is the second of the two films I’d said did not strike me as belonging in the horror genre, but in the horror genre, it is. In any case, The Drain is an exceptionally well-crafted, original short film. I do find it to be psychologically haunting.

 

 

2). Next up: Brother. You knew there had to be at least one Japanese horror story in this series!

 

 

3). Then we have Larry, who teaches us to bring our own electronic devices with us to work. I’ve read that this horror short is being developed into a full-feature film, by the way.

 

 

4). I’m throwing in The Jester especially for Halloween! Moral of this story: clap in appreciation after a jester performs a trick. Jesters like applause.

 

 

Happy Halloween, All (who celebrate)!

Luna. (Day 6: Horror short film October!)

Leaving the gym last night, a friend stopped and pointed at the sky. The full moon could be seen rising above the horizon…  a colossal, intense moon poetically aglow with inner fire and lore. In honor of this year’s Hunter’s Moon – a perfect Halloween moon if I ever saw one – I bring to you the horror short Luna.

The moral of this story: pay attention to the lunar calendar.

 

 

La Fin.