October 2020 in Review

I feel like all my months have been reversed and thrown off this year. Likely due to the incessant everyone-is-always-home bit. (I have this funny story about how people were showing first-snowfall-of-the-year photos on Instagram, with captions groaning and saying things like “here we go again,” and it took me about a week to realize they were new-season snow and not late-spring-snowing-again photos. That’s how far OFF I am this year.) Anyway, for as pleasant as September was, with many good moments and lots of unseasonably nice weather, October tried to dive straight into the toilet on Day 1, when I woke to a data breach and ransomware on my computer. Sigh. Weeks of (unrelated) family issues and anxiety followed, as well as persistent 90+ degree temps, until the last week of the month. Sheesh.

Trying to look on the bright side, though. Ash has had some improvements, and we’ve now passed the 11 year mark with him in our home, rather than losing him early in the month as we suspected. Jason and I were able to vote early and safely. Laurence’s wisdom teeth surgery went well. I’ve had a lot of very lovely hikes with my friends, and I was able to safely visit with another old friend twice this month. I ended the month with a spooky nighttime hike to a local park thought to be haunted, which was just so awesome!

Reading and Watching
Like last month, my reading has focused on RIP-related books, and 7 of my 8 books were from that category. Ironically, my favorite book of the month wasn’t one I even put on the blog or toward that count. It was My Last Duchess by Eloisa James, a short prequel to her Wildes of Lindow Castle series, a silly romance series that I’ve found very fun to listen to over the years. Back in the day, I was all embarrassed about putting romance novels on my blog reading list so I just skipped over them. I really don’t care anymore, but I do care about consistency and so I’ve continued to just ignore them in my book counts. Shrug. It’s not like I’d have anything to say about each of them as a review – they’re just fun to read! In any case, since most of what I read this month was just okay, and I really enjoyed My Last Duchess, I’m claiming it as my favorite.

The family has continued to watch the newest episodes of the Great British Bake Off (of course!), and I quite enjoyed the next round of Unsolved Mysteries through Netflix. I hope to see the new remake/sequel/?? of The Craft once the cost comes down a bit, even though it would’ve been nice to see it during spooky-month. But the only Halloween-y movie my family watched was our traditional viewing of Hocus Pocus.

Meh. Not much to say here. I did spend about a month sitting down to write every day, starting in late September, but all I learned was that at present, I no longer even enjoy writing, which is not a feeling I’ve ever had before in my life. Maybe that’ll come back again one day. I hope. I’d like something of my longterm-self to have not been smashed to smithereens in 2014. (And oh the irony – Jason ordered an Astrohaus Freewrite Traveler several years ago for my birthday, and it finally came this month…right after I gave up daily writing sessions.) That’s really all I can say about my 2020 goals, which have been highly impacted by covid. As for my autumn bucket list, I’m doing quite well and on track to finish all 27 little tasks I set up for myself!

My health suffered quite badly this month in a lot of ways. I mentioned in my September in Review post that I began taking a new injection medication that’s supposed to help regulate certain hormones. It’s a medication normally taken by people with diabetes, but is helpful for insulin-stabilization and weight loss in women with PCOS (me!). By the end of September, I was still on a very tiny dose that’s not even considered beneficial, but suddenly I was able to sleep again on my own for the first time in nine years. In October, I moved up to a slightly higher dose. Because I transitioned very slowly, I didn’t have the major side effects you normally get with increases in this med, but I did have a few negative impacts of my health.

First, I could hardly eat anything. Frankly, that’s what this med is supposed to do – curb your appetite by controlling hunger hormones and keeping food in your stomach for a prolonged period of time. The thought is that you’ll lose weight that way. Only that doesn’t work for me – if my calories drop below a certain threshold, I start gaining weight. Which I did. I was eating about a third of my normal daily diet (example: I only managed about a quarter of what’s on my plate in that picture), and gained about 3 lbs this month. Second, because I couldn’t eat enough, both my exercise and my sleep suffered. I’d lose steam partway through exercise, and I’d wake up in the middle of the night starving. It was the only time I ever felt any hunger at all. Third, if I ate anything with a lot of fiber – say, a small side salad – my stomach would go into full-on cramps for hours afterwards, as if it just couldn’t handle complex foods. Just like the last time I was on this medication, I began to crave processed food as a way of avoiding stomach pain. Not good! So I’ve dropped back to that lower dose of the medicine, and we’ll see what happens next.

Then there was my daily coffee consumptions, which nearly tripled for about 10 days mid-month when all the anxiety crashed down on me together, and I’m sure that also contributed to the weight gain, medicine issues, etc. Sigh.

Otherwise, I further overcomplicated my month by doing a whole hell of a lot more exercise than I should have (24 days, for over 24 hours total exercise, including 58 miles walked, run, or hiked). I’ve tired myself out (especially on the decreased calories), injured my formerly-broken foot, and pretty much felt like crap all month between the combo of extra coffee, reduced food, and increased exercise. The family-related anxiety and insomnia issues didn’t help, either. I’m aiming for a more moderate, controlled November, especially with my weight loss anniversary coming up on the 27th. I’m always a bit hyperaware of the date.

Most of the construction we were doing on the house got finished last month. Other than one issue with our month-old dishwasher breaking and needing the warranty people to come fix it, everything else we did was self-paced and done on our own. Jason has been working on building the deck, though it took until mid-month for him to get the wood for it. (We had to cancel three different orders from the first place because they kept saying the product was delivered when it hadn’t been, ugh.) The floor is mostly on now, and he’s currently trying to finish up the sides and stairs.

I’ve been working on the front yard landscaping. Costs haven’t been friendly the last few months, so I had to settle for just doing the path up the yard rather than both the path and seating area like originally intended. We managed to find a landscaping tool similar enough to a grub-hoe that I could remove the sod and break up the caliche ground mostly on my own. Jason put down landscaping fabric, and I laid out edging stone, gravel, and a stepping-stone path. It looks quite cute, and after Jason finishes the deck, he’s going to freehand paint some blossoms onto the stepping stones!

Things that worried me
The worrisome bits were the parts that made October difficult. Several members of my extended family came down with covid, and their exposure to other members of my family still hasn’t fully resolved, so we don’t know yet who all might get it, including some very vulnerable people. One of my best friends ended up in the hospital after her blood pressure soared to unimaginable heights just out of the blue (this pic –> is mere hours before the attack). Morrigan had some problems up in Kansas, though he seems to be doing well again. My grandfather has had major health problems including dangerous levels of edema and a fall that affected his pacemaker. Jason continues to get sick every few months (including October), likely a reaction to some of his medications, though his doctors have yet to figure it out despite many tests. (It’s quite unlike Jason, who used to never get sick.) Ash made some good progress in the early parts of the month, but then lapsed into eating very little again. There are speculations that the state won’t allow school districts the option of virtual schooling too much longer. That horrible woman got put on the Supreme Court through political manipulations of the GOP. Political crap is everywhere and I’m very, very worried about tomorrow’s election.

Highlights of October
It’s ironic that in a month with so many worries and frustrations, there’s also been a lot of nice moments. Here are some faves:

  • Halloween squishies!
  • getting together with Nat for the first time since March, and then a second gathering later in the month
  • Jason made the best hand pies with a stout-beef-and-veggie stew inside, mmm…
  • my Bridge Four poster arrived and it’s gorgeous
  • Ash actually playing and eating food!!!
  • Orange is sus. Vote him out.” Ha!
  • the mayor’s safety guideline for Halloween, read with a completely straight face on air: “Avoid going into houses, especially if they are haunted.” Ha!
  • fun new crop top from Torrid
  • an amazing hike out at a near-ish State Natural Area, with a 400-ft climb into hills so misty we could see the fog blowing around us, and places deafeningly silent
  • the Pope endorsing same-sex civil unions – it’s not perfect by any means, but it’s far more than I ever thought I’d see the Catholic church do in my lifetime!
  • more foster kitten videos from my sister
  • a fireside night out with the family
  • first major cold front of the season, with temps in the 30s and 40s yay!
  • record voter turnout in SA, and many other places
  • a (safe, masked, small-group) girls’ night out to walk along the Riverwalk and then an outdoor dinner by an Ofrenda (see pic below); my dinner was SO good – if you’re ever in San Antonio, I highly recommend Mi Roti!
  • seriously, the meal was so good that it deserves its own bullet point: roti wrap with butter chicken, coconut rice, roasted Brussels sprouts, shredded cabbage, toasted corn, and avocado cream, with masala fries on the side. Mmmm…
  • Halloween Haunted Hike, complete with costumes, spooky ghost stories told on top of the hill, and running into multiple cold spots on the way down!

Coming up in November
You know, I thought I’d participate in NaNoWriMo this month, but given the way things have gone with my experiment in returning to writing, I don’t think I will. I haven’t participated since November 2015. Maybe next year, assuming my desire ever returns? Instead, I’m going to focus on moderation, getting back into regular running again, and cutting my coffee down to none by the 27th (!!!). Plus of course there’ll be Thanksgiving, likely celebrated with immediate family only, or with extended family via Zoom. Kinda sad times ahead in that. Stupid covid. Fingers crossed we can get a vaccine in the next few months!

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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4 Responses to October 2020 in Review

  1. I’ve never heard of the Lindow Castle books. Are they set in the Lindow Moss area? It’s about 20-25 miles from me 🙂 . About 35 years ago, the preserved body of a Stone Age man was found there, and put in Manchester Museum – before he got taken off to London, bah – and we all had to go on school trips to see him!


    • Amanda says:

      I’m not 100% sure about the setting for the Wildes. Lindow Moss IS mentioned, and they often take place in multiple areas including London because they’re historical romance and clearly Dukes and Duchesses will spend the season in London. But disdainfully in many cases, ha! But I just listen to these while I’m doing other things – the other reason I haven’t really reviewed them here, because I’m sure I miss quite a bit, and it feels a bit disingenuous to review books under those conditions!

      I do know their land is right on the edge of a peat bog and one of the kids actually dies in it, and that it plays a big role in the series from time to time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, yes, that sounds like Lindow Moss! The peat bog is where they found the Stone Age Lindow Man … known as Lindow Pete!


      • Amanda says:

        I imagine the peat bog in this series is a bit more fictionalized than the real thing, though you never know! Eloisa James does do a lot of research in order to make her books more nuanced. I’m not prone to reading romance genre generally, or historical fiction, but she always puts so many interesting details in and makes fairly well-rounded characters, so I like the stories quite a bit.


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