Bits of Life

I’ve been having a lot of rough, tired days lately, but despite not having energy or deep thoughts for a full post, I noticed a few blog worthy odds and ends of life recently.

This year I tried growing a garden (read: four plants) as it had been a while since I had a nice collection of dead plants… Actually, I’d managed to grow some peppermint, and I thought there was a slight chance I could expand that to *slightly* harder to keep alive plants. I’m still a bit shocked every time I go look at my plants and they don’t to be turning brown and falling over. My swiss chard (above) is producing well, and I’ve harvested a bit of mint and basil as well. My tomato plant has blossoms (!). My zucchini/squash attempts didn’t go so well, as half of the plants immediately got eaten by rabbits, and the one remaining plant doesn’t get enough to sun to thrive, though it’s somehow holding on and also not dying yet.


 A friend introduced me to the concept of maximalist decorating, and I really liked the impression of my test run. In fact, I haven’t taken it down yet, even though most of it isn’t spaced properly. I’m thinking about mostly leaving the arrangement, just moving the hangings that are put up with sticky tack until it’s all properly balanced. I’m hoping to expand this display even further, possibly with some of my own artwork across the very top of the wall. (I got this up in one of my occasional bursts of, if not quite energy, at least lower fatigue. I’ll add to it slowly and continue the adjustments in future bursts.)

 Sometimes clearance roses are good idea even when you haven’t got around to clearing the table. That’s one thing I’m starting to learn with not having a lot of energy: sometimes the nice little finishing touches have to come first, or you never get to them.


Fatigue Life

One of my least favorite things about chronic health problems is the unpredictability. There a few reliable factors: if I stop taking certain supplements or medications I will feel significantly worse, if I have something going on every single day/evening for more than a week or so (without significant rest time as well) I WILL get sick, and if I’m around mold for very long at all I’ll feel crummy.

You might notice that all of these involve feeling worse. There’s nothing I can really do to guarantee a good day, though I do have a few tricks that usually work IF I guess right what’s flaring up to make me feel bad at the moment: activated charcoal and epsom salt baths for mold exposure or herxing/detox symptoms, oregano oil for Lyme flare ups, protein and healthy carbs for blood sugar fluctuations.

I’m getting familiar enough with the pitfalls and health boosters that I have a lot of tolerably good days now, and sometimes a string of really good days where I breeze through my normal chores and have energy left over for the projects I rarely get to. I really like those days, and try not to ruin them by wondering how long the energy will last, and whether I should start planning to work on bigger projects.

Then there are days like today where my body suddenly and inexplicably decides that being awake is overrated, and after getting up and eating breakfast on relatively normal schedule I get nothing else done except several hours of naps until mid afternoon. I’m pretty sure I could have napped again after I ate something resembling lunch. (Okay, it wasn’t lunch, it was unsweetened hot chocolate. Call it a gut feeling that I needed nutrients, but that my body didn’t want to digest solid food.)

Sometimes I wonder if I would have gotten better faster if I’d slept more during the worst days of fatigue. Of course, it’s easy to forget how hard it was to sleep during those days–just being exhausted and needing sleep didn’t always mean it was possible. But I do know I pushed too hard and didn’t rest enough in general.

It’s easier to let myself take rest days now, when I have routines that I keep up with most days, and I know that all the important chores have been done recently, and can be caught up on again on a good day. I don’t know for sure when the next good energy day will come along, but it’s nice to be able to expect that it will be sooner rather than later.

Getting better at being tired was never one of my life goals, but weirdly, it is one of the more useful things I’ve achieved in the last decade or so. Life skills, y’all. Maybe in another decade I’ll figure out how to be confident about backing out of parking spaces.

Sushi of Peoria: Sushigawa

I’m a little late getting the review written, but a couple weeks ago we added Sushigawa to our Sushi Tour of Peoria (previous stop: Happy Fish ).

We got there a few minutes before it opened and walked in seconds after they unlocked the door. The first thing I noticed was that the background music was a song from Annie–I love Broadway musicals, and rarely run across them being played in local restaurants. The entire rest of the time we were were there the music sounded like anime soundtracks (I’m sure there’s a name for this musical style, but that’s the only association I have with it), which was also a lot of fun and worked really well for setting the feel for a sushi restaurant. At first I assumed that the Broadway music was just something the staff was playing and they hadn’t switched over to their normal music yet, but I’ve heard from other people now that Sushigawa also plays music like the La La Land soundtrack, so it seems like they just have a fun range of background music.

Anyway, moving on with the rest of the experience… The ambiance definitely worked well for us. It had the feel of a nice restaurant without being overly formal, and the decor all fit perfectly with that feel. The only odd part was the ordering process, which involved checking off our selections on a paper menu with provided pens. That would have fit better in a more casual atmosphere BUT I actually liked the simplicity of it and (as an introvert) not having the pressure of listing off verbally what I wanted.

The sushi itself came at pretty standard prices for what we’ve seen in Peoria. We got a Philadelphia roll, yellowtail (which we’d really liked at Happy Fish), plain tuna and salmon rolls, crunch spicy crab, and (I think) spicy salmon. Most of those were $5-$7 a roll, but the crunch spicy crab was a special roll for around $10. We were surprisingly unimpressed with all of their basic rolls. I enjoyed the Philadelphia roll, but most of the flavor came from the soy sauce and wasabi rather than the roll itself. Colton said the plain tuna and salmon were so bland that it was hard to tell which was which when eating them. The spicy crab, however, made up for the other rolls, because it was amazing!

It’s possible we just came on a week when they had a harder time than normal getting high quality fish or something like that. (I actually have no idea how sushi restaurants in Peoria usually manage to get any decent quality fish, but I’m sure it’s one of the challenges of running a sushi place in the midwest.) However, our impression based on this visit was that we wouldn’t come back for the basic rolls, but we’d love to go back and try more of their specialty rolls to see if they measure up to the spicy crunch crab roll. Overall verdict at this time is that Sushigawa is the place to go in Peoria if you’re planning to splurge on more expensive specialty rolls, but not worth it if you’re mostly planning to order basic rolls.  If we do go back I’ll post an update with our further findings.

Sushi of Peoria: Happy Fish

Colton and I ate sushi for the first time a few  years ago. We talked about how we should try sushi from every restaurant in town and compare them, but for a while we mostly settled in at a favorite restaurant, which with its unlimited sushi option, was particularly good for trying out sushi as newbies. (That restaurant was Hokkaido, in case you were wondering.)

Last week we finally decided to start our full sushi tour of Peoria with our first visit to Happy Fish.

We showed up a bit after 5 on a Tuesday evening, since we headed out pretty shortly after Colton got home from work. Happily, this landed right in the  middle of their “Happy Hour”–Monday through Friday, 4-6 PM they have a selection of maki rolls for $3.95 each along with similarly discounted prices on a couple of appetizers and nigiri options. The catch is that each person has to order a drink to get the special pricing, but since drinks were $1.95, it was still a very good deal.

To start with, Colton got sweetened iced green tea and I got hot green tea. Colton’s tea was very good, with a light fruity flavor. My tea came as a tea bag with a small mug, small tea pot of hot water and a piece of lemon to squeeze into it. I got several small cups of green tea out of the pot of hot water, and it worked with the fact that I felt like something hot to drink at that moment, but next time I would definitely get the iced green tea. (They also had the standard soda options and unsweetened black iced tea, none of which really appeal to me to go with sushi.)

We didn’t get any miso soup or any other appetizers on this particular night because we were focused on sushi. Colton ordered a spicy tuna roll (his standard for judging sushi quality), a california roll, and a yellowtail roll (which neither of us had tried before). I ordered a salmon and avocado roll and one of their specialty rolls which I’ve now forgotten the name of. I wasn’t paying enough attention to realize the specialty roll was one of the deep fried ones, which are much heavier than standard sushi, and I wouldn’t have intentionally chosen to go with the other rolls we ordered. (I did enjoy it though–it was a good version of deep fried sushi at least, with a spicy-sweet sauce I liked.)

For my taste, there was shortage of pickled ginger to go with the rolls. Aside from that, all the non-sushi elements of the experience (service, presentation, ambiance) were good in a low-key kind of way.

Overall, we enjoyed the meal. We would both order yellowtail sushi again sometime (which is particularly useful to know since Colton normally goes for tuna and I go for salmon). I would say the sushi was good but not great–not what I would describe as ‘chef’ level sushi. In Colton’s words, the flavors were ‘one note’ instead of being complex.

That said, during their happy hour, they have a cheapest sushi that I’m aware of in the Peoria area–we paid $26 (before tip) for the meal for the two of us. If we were going out for sushi at a time when we’d have to pay full price, I would choose to go somewhere else with better sushi for that price. But if we were going out around dinner time on a weekday, Happy Fish would be high on my list of options, because their sushi is well worth the discounted price.

The Life and Adventures of Raquel

Sometimes I think  my life would make a good Youtube show. Not a full TV show, or even a Netflix show, with its instantly bingeable seasons. Just some short episodes  like the old radio soap operas, but without the break-ups, and more of a dramedy.

Take last weekend. As part of a one car household, I order a lot of essentials delivered to the house, so that I don’t often have to get the car to go pick one thing, and only have to make grocery store trips once every week or two. Often, I order my thyroid medication shipped to the house.

So, last Friday I take my last thyroid pill in the bottle and check the tracking number. It’s scheduled to be delivered Saturday. This isn’t really optimal, because our mail won’t be delivered until mid-morning, and circadian rhythms interacting with thyroid meds mean that taking the pill the same time of day is a big deal. (Think about that next time you say that daylight savings time isn’t a big deal because you can just go to bed an hour earlier…)

The complication is that I’m out of refills on my thyroid meds, and so even if I tried to put in a new refill to pick up at the store that evening, there’s no way the doctor’s office would respond to the refill request before they closed down for the weekend anyway. (Believe me, I’ve tried before. If you have to send in a refill request on a Friday for an urgent refill you’re in trouble.) Getting my thyroid pill just a few hours late on Saturday is acceptable.

Saturday morning I wake up and check the tracking number. (cue dramatic music) The package was delayed. It reads that my package was in town and then left again, for no discernible reason.  Monday is now the soonest I can get my thyroid medication. (Remember, I still have no refills, and the doctor’s office is now closed for the weekend.)

I muddle through my day, feeling only slightly zombieish, which means my overall health is doing a lot better than a few years ago, when I missed a thyroid pill and felt like death warmed over. I take essential oils. I fix some decaf coffee and add every thyroid boosting substance I  have in the house, starting with coconut oil.

Now, this is where we pick up one of those slow sub-plot threads that’s been building for many episodes. On this Saturday, I walk down to the library, despite feeling slightly zombieish, because I have my first ever inter-library loan waiting for me.

I’ve put books on hold from other libraries in the system many times, but this book came from outside the local system, and required a librarian to fill in a paper card for me instead of me just clicking a button on the website. The rules are unclear to me, and I’m not sure how long they’ll hold an inter-library loan before sending it back, and it doesn’t even show up in my account as a hold when I check the website. I can’t risk it being sent back and having to go through that whole paper system again. (I do occasionally act my generation… “What do you mean I can’t do this on a website? And what is this paper stuff you speak of?”)

At the library, when the clerk hands me the book without a receipt (okay, I guess I do like paper sometimes) OR a comment about when it’s due back (I normally get both when I check out a book), my T3 lacking brain isn’t sure how to handle the situation. I take the book, walk off a few steps and have a sudden fear that I’m not actually supposed to leave yet, and stop and stare at the front of the book as though examining it for information for a good ten seconds before I slowly risk actually walking off with it. No one tries to stop me, so apparently inter-library loans are just weird like that.

As I walk up the driveway holding my not-actually-stolen library book I notice the corner of a package sticking up out of the mailbox by our front door. Huh. That looks a lot like the packaging my thyroid meds get mailed in. I walk up to the mailbox. The return address matches the one on the tracking number and the package definitely feels like it contains my thyroid meds.

The package does, in fact, contain my thyroid meds.

Tracking numbers are often helpful and occasionally the stupidest things ever.

So, it turns out that providentially I didn’t have to go an entire weekend without sufficient supply of vital energy supplying hormones, and that the timing of my first inter-library loan was surprisingly important to my timely discovery of  said hormones being available in my mail box. (Did I mention that tracking numbers are occasionally stupid?) Basically, my life would make a good YouTube show  because God writes better plots than I do.

Plot Twist


On Mathematics: Multiplication Tricks and the Concept of Zero

I’m finally getting back to reading Here’s Looking at Euclid, and am determined to finish up some of the non-fiction books that have been sitting in my reading pile for an embarrassingly long time.

I’m mostly posting about chapter three because I want a place to stash this quote about Indian/Vedic multiplications tricks which I found interesting:

Vertically and Crosswise, or “cross-multiplication,” is faster, uses less space and less laborious than long multiplication. Kenneth Williams told me that whenever he explains the Vedic method to school pupils they find it easy to understand. “They can’t believe they weren’t taught it before,” he said. Schools favor long multiplication because it spells out every stage of the calculation. Vertically and Crosswise keeps some of the machinery hidden. Williams things this is no bad thing, and may even help less bright pupils. “We have to steer a path and not insist that kids have to know everything all of the time. Some kids need to know how [multiplication] works. Some don’t want to know how it works. They just want to be able to do it.” ‘

This makes sense to me because I’m a huge fan of specialization. Yes, most kids probably need to know HOW their math works, but for a kid who’s struggling with it, it probably makes more sense to teach them a trick so they can do it, and focus on honing their skills where they excel, instead of spending hours and hours on something they may never excel at, and likely teaching them to hate it in the process.

The other thing that stood out to me about this chapter was the commentary on the Indian discovery of zero being related to their religious understanding of the importance of ‘nothing’ or the void. This bothers me a little as I doubt I agree with their emphasis on nothingness, but I do think the concept of zero is important and helpful in mathematics, and would like to be able to figure out the true philosophical reason behind that.

Perhaps they simply over emphasize the importance of zero as an existent entity, and the proper understanding is closer to it actually being a placeholder for nothing, but I would love to see a Christian worldview explanation of the concept of zero, as I just can’t quite figure out where to start in exploring the philosophical underpinnings.