The signs of spring have been everywhere recently, and as I type this, I’m happily sitting in my office with the patio door wide open letting the air waft in while I listen to the birds outside visiting the feeders and chattering. The most reliable sign of spring here? A couple of days ago, the first of the mockingbirds showed up and started singing. A family of Mockingbirds has nested in this neighborhood (and some years in our yard) scene we moved in here, and so their vocalizing is always with us starting in spring until late fall when they head elsewhere in the region for the winter.

The local chickadee flock has paired off and I’ve seen them flying around with hunks of fur shed by the local feral populations; the Oak Titmouse that lives in the neighborhood was signing for a couple of weeks and has gone quiet, so he’s likely found his friend for this mating season. And we’ve had our annual wave of Robins move through as they move from their wintering grounds to their summering grounds: every spring for 3-4 days our street is wall to wall Robins, and then once they move on, we have a dozen or so for the summer — but for that short time, we’re talking upwards of a hundred as they flock through.

I took a day and headed out to the Central Valley for a last visit to the refuges before the winter migration ends. A lot of the ducks are gone, and the Sandhill Cranes are leaving, but we still had a number of them in Merced NWR. Still good numbers of the geese as well, but you could tell spring was happening and the Marsh Wrens are actively and vocally defending their territories and the Song Sparrows were in good voice as well.

Photography wasn’t the most prolific, but I came back with some images I liked. And when I went to process them in Lightroom, I realized it was my first set of new images in 2017, and it’s March.

Red-winged Blackbird

Which I had to stop and think about, but yes, that’s correct. This year has started out that way…

When you and your prescriptions fight.

If it seems strange that I haven’t been out photographing more, it is. Part of the reason has been the significant rain we’ve had, which not only precludes photography during the storms, but this area has had some significant flooding and damage that’s made it impractical to get out to some areas; when I was out around Merced last week, there were still secondary roads in the agricultural fields closed due to continuing flooding. Could be worse, one of the bridges on Highway 1 near Big Surf failed and they’re tearing it down this week to start building a new one — and the road through Big Sur is closed for likely the next year. Four of the parks in the Big Sur area are closed due to ongoing damage from the storms and from last year’s fire as well, so that area is a hurting puppy and will be for a while.

But the real reason I haven’t gone out more is that I’ve been fighting with myself. A few months back we switched around a few of my prescriptions in the hopes it would help me lose weight. It did, quite nicely. A second tweak didn’t go so well, leading my visiting the ER, and unfortunately since then things haven’t been stable. About ten days ago I ended up in the ER again, for dehydration again, and was introduced to another bag of saline into the arm, which made life a lot better.

It didn’t really solve it, though, and it seemed to me the side effects were increasing, so I had a conference with my doctor and requested that we make changes. After discussion we decided to go back to Actos for a month or so and then evaluate things. My thought is that second set of tweaks upset something and it wasn’t able to return to normal under influence of the other prescriptions. The hope is shifting back to Actos for a while will let everything settle down, and then maybe we can try the Invokana again. We’ll see.

Without going into more details than you want to know, one of the problems I started having was very low energy levels along with a bit of trouble focusing on tasks, which is one reason blogging’s been somewhat sparse. On the plus side, my Ranger in Neverwinter has progressed wonderfully.

The good news is that within 36 hours of the switch the energy levels bounced back, along with my appetite and motivation to actually accomplish things again.

I did drop 30 pounds during this experiment and I’m hoping that will bootstrap further losses even though I’m back on Actos, but during this time my fitness work fell off a cliff, so I have work to do even to get back to my previous levels. I’m starting on that now.

We’ll see where this leads. It’s always something, right?

The Job Hunt

… is ongoing. The resume rewrite has definitely improved the response, but nothing is imminent. I was talking about this with a friend recently and quietly grumbled about not having a job yet, and he looked at me and said “but that’s because that’s what you want, do you realize that?”

That made me take a step back and think about all of this a bit, and yes, he’s right. I continue to want to be picky about options and in no hurry just to get back into a job, but that fights with my history of basically not being unemployed since the age of 12 and the overall feeling like I ought to be working. Which in a way is silly.

So where I’d been widening the search a bit, I’ve gone back to being very tactical about what I apply for, because I don’t have to go back to work any time soon. Thinking about this, I realized this: is getting the next 50 pounds off more important than getting the job to me? In reality, I think it is; I need to get the weight off more than I need the work, and I should be treating my priorities that way — but I wasn’t. So I’m shifting some tasks around and trying to re-align my priorities around that. I’d still like to get back to work, but I don’t have to, especially in the short term.

That said, I have had a few interesting lunches and coffees with people in the last couple of weeks, things that may open a door here or there (or may not), but which give me some interesting glimpse into things that are happening that I might want to plug into down the road.

So the new priorities for me: more walking, more camera time, more writing, less worrying about the job search — and get back on getting that app written, because it was another casualty of the lack of focus ability and so it stalled again. I have been doing things with it, including researching payment models and considering marketing and doing some of the app design — but I haven’t been coding, so that needs to get going again.

I also have talked with a couple of people about doing some WordPress work for them, and while neither of those turned into anything, it did trigger my feeling that my site’s gone a bit stale and needs some work, especially to make finding the podcast easier. And so I’m starting to think about a redesign again. I did some work on it a year ago when I started the sabbatical, but I feel like I want to take it in a different direction now. We’ll see how that goes, but it’s time to haul out the MAMP stuff and start experimenting. I have some ideas….

Manon

If you follow my Instagram account, you’ll see I occasionally post a picture of Manon, our cat. She’s recently turned 17, an amazing age for a cat we rescued out of the shelter. Unfortunately at a recent checkup where we had some dental work done they found a growth in the mouth, and it was cancerous. We’re working with her vet on this and we’re talking to the oncologists this week, but at her age, really invasive surgery doesn’t seem like the right option, so we’re working more on quality of life and comfort. Laurie’s doing the heavy lifting on giving her the various treatments right now, and she’s actually responded quite well, with her appetite up. What we’re trying to figure out is what our expectations should be and what’s best for her. Right now things seem to be going well, and I guess — especially at age 17 — we can’t ask for much more.

Southern California

And the good news down south is — the work on the house is almost done. After mom passed away, I took on the estate, which included some houses, one of which I inherited and one which went to my sister. It turned out both of them needed a fair bit of work, starting with the roofs. And the plumbing. And as we dug in, we found electrical work, and we decided to get the house a new kitchen. And carpets… and… And this is both a classic example of the joy of owning a house, and a practical experience in the realities of technical debt. Mom did what she could, but as she aged, she wasn’t able to keep up with all the work the houses needed, and things piled up.

The house I now own is now done, since the new windows went in last week. I think we have a tree we need to plant in the front yard to replace one we had to take down. And after that, we can stop annoying the tenants, who’ve been wonderful through this all. My sister’s worked with the contractor and we’ve approved a plan to do the updates on the other house that she’s taking over, and that’s going on now. Fortunately, other than writing checks, she’s driving most of that work…

And with that winding down and the rains here seeming to be ending, it’s time to start work on our house again, I think. Starting this next round will be a fresh coat of paint on the outside and some minor carpentry to get the living room finished up and painted. (hint: it never ends…)

Finally, cocoaconf

Finally, in a couple of weeks, I’ll be off to Yosemite for a few days for the Cocoaconf conference. I’m really looking forward to it. I went to this conference for the first time a year ago, just as I was starting my sabbatical and not really sure what the future was going to be yet, but I was also really worn out and I don’t think I was as appreciative of Yosemite as I wanted to be. Hopefully, this year I’ll be able to spend more time out with the camera and less time sleeping. If you’re going to be at Cocoaconf, track me down and say hi, and maybe we can go break bread and talk for a while.

P.S.

And hopefully now that I’m not brain dead I can get this blog going again…. But since I started thinking about a redesign, my list of “oh, this page needs updating” is growing rapidly…. (hint: it never ends… but that’s not a bad thing)