Ready to tackle 2024!

At least I had better be because the first ~4 months of the new year are going to be VERY busy!

2023 ended up being a challenging year in a number of respects, particularly with my health (nothing ever too serious, just annoying). A lot of it really started at the winter solstice in 2022, beginning with a frigid cold snap that caused an outside (thankfully) pipe to burst, but of course getting a plumber to fix it on Christmas Eve was $$$$! And then, we plugged in one too many space heaters downstairs and blew a circuit that knocked out power to half of the kitchen on Christmas. So then we had to get that fixed a day or two later... and then the refrigerator died on New Years Eve, so 2023 started out with buying a new fridge. Not the best way to start out the year, even if I really like the new fridge!

January also brought the first head cold I've had in about 3 or 4 years, followed by me getting a bad case of rashes and hives shortly after (possibly from poison ivy), which caused me to go on steroids. (Which I was delayed in getting by a few days thanks to a terrible ice storm.) All while working way too much thanks to way too many things coming at one time at work... and then interacting with ~20 people who had been on airplanes. Which was the perfect set-up for me to finally catch Covid in late February and miss my first winter board meeting since I started working them in 1996. Thankfully I had received the updated Covid jab just a few months before so I didn't have it too bad, although the lingering brain fog ("Swiss-cheese brain" as I nicknamed it) was very annoying. I also got my shingles vaccines this year and had a pretty rough time after the second shot, but as I point out to my coworkers approaching 50 - get the shot regardless since it's better than getting shingles!

The biggest health thing for me this year though was dealing with my eyes. I hit the genetic jackpot of early-onset AND fast-growing cataracts, at least in my right eye. It had become so obviously worse between my summer 2022 and summer 2023 eye appointments that I was pretty sure my optomitrist was going to say that it was time for cataract surgery - which she did! And I just had that surgery a couple of weeks ago, which was fantastic. A few things I immediately noticed was that dark (especially black) colors were actually dark again, and that my left eye was further along with its cataract than I had realized. My right eye was so bad that my left eye was pretty good in comparison, but now that my right eye is clear again, I can really tell the state of the cataract in my left eye. I think it's still a couple of years away from needing surgery, but not as far as I originally thought. And, to be honest, there's really not much to the surgery other than the cost (even with insurance, it's going to be about $2500 out of pocket - thankfully I had been saving for it) so I'm looking forward to getting my left eye fixed too!

But 2023 wasn't all bad! One definite highlight was that we managed to pull off a pretty good public viewing of the October 14 annular eclipse (most of the props for that go to the amazing CNS events team) and we had absolutely perfect weather in Austin - now I just hope we have the same on April 8, 2024.

So, keeping all of these things in mind when I check on how I did with my 2023 goals, I need to give myself a little grace when I realize how many I didn't manage to accomplish. (More about 2023 stitching and 2024 plans are over at Lara's Loose Threads)

For health goals, I did do Dry January (as usual) and my bloodwork numbers in early 2023 were improved over 2022, but I didn't manage to lose any weight this year and I've been eating pretty poorly over the past couple of months, so I'm not sure how good they will be when I go in for my physical in a few weeks. I really need to keep in mind that, at nearly 52 years old, I can't eat and drink like I did in college. :P

I did a fair amount of yard work early in the year, but once I got the rashes and hives - most likely from poison ivy - I kind of stalled. Plus it started to get too hot, or was too wet, to do much. I was hoping that the awful summer we had would kill off more stuff than it did, but no luck. I did grow a few tomatoes and bell peppers in containers, but no start on a real veggie garden yet. I did plant some oregano and thyme in a little mini-plot, and they are still going good. And I planted some flowers and put a potted rosemary plant in a weird little square in the front of the house. But there is still a lot left to do!

I did do a "new to me" movie a week this year, but I didn't make it on my Goodreads goal in 2023. Blame the podcasts for that! I ended up listening to more podcasts in the car than audiobooks, so that kept me from reading as many books as I normally would. I also continued going through my YouTube channels, but I did in fact subscribe to some more with large backlogs, so I think I kind of came out even on that one. Same with podcasts - I've started keeping a list of shows that I want to subscribe to, but not until I've caught up on the back catalogs of more of my current ones. I also didn't get as far on catching up with TV shows as I would have liked, but I think that's because I was spending too much time with other entertainment options. I did start sorting through my comic book backlog - I was somewhat forced into it when Amazon finaly killed the Comixology app and brought everything into the Kindle app, which I'm not a huge fan of since I liked keeping my comics and digital book libraries separate. But at least I did start hacking through that particular jungle!

Goals for 2024

If I'm being perfectly honest, for the first quarter (plus a few days) of 2024, my main goal is just to survive it without getting sick or too burned out since we have a very busy time at work - with prep for a total solar eclipse on top of it. But I'll do Dry January and I'm going to really try to not depend too much on quick fast food dinners when I get very busy. What I really need to do is get back to doing batch cooking on the weekends so I have healthier, quick options during the work week.

I've optimistically set my Goodreads goal for 25 this year, which I think I can do if I get back to listening to more audiobooks in the car and continue trying to read a little in the evenings before going to sleep. I'll also try to get back to some comics collections, which I count as read books if they are volumes of 6+ issues. That probably means I'm going to have to be a bit more realistic about how many podcasts I can keep up with, even listening at 1.2X speed. And I'm going to take another stab at finishing up a number of TV shows that are completed but I still have a season or two left to watch. I'll also keep chugging along on the YouTube channels that I follow. Finally, I'm going to do a "new to me" movie a week again, but this time I'm going to add in (and count towards the goal) some things that I know I have seen but not since I was a kid. I'm thinking primarily of old Disney animated features, many of which I haven't seen in 40+ years, since that will also help me work on a longer-term goal of watching/re-watching all of the Disney animated features. I missed a bunch of them in the 1990s and 2000s so I have a lot to catch up on.

I definitely want to get back to working on the yard, but finding the time and energy while the weather is mild is going to be a challenge. But I'm going to try to do at least a few hours each weekend (weather permitting) to tidying things up. The veggie garden is still TBD, but maybe I can get some of the junk hauled off this year so I can at least start planning out the spaces. Maybe I can even get started on the herb garden I'm planning to put next to the patio, something I've really wanted to do since moving back to the house.

That's it for now - I might take a look at things at the middle of the year and add in some more goals or reevaluate the ones I have after I see how the first half of 2024 goes. Happy New Year!