Why I love fall

I love fall. It is my favorite season by far. Just coming out of summer in the beginning, rolling into winter… it’s amazing through and through. The sunny, warm days give way to the days where the sun, warm on your back or your face or your toes, cuts through the brisk breeze that brings the crisp, leafy scent of autumn swirling around you. Those, in turn, blend into the blustery entrance of winter. I would say that we get snow, but living in the Pacific Northwest… well, we got about two feet of snow 5 years ago. It was nice… until it sucked. When you live in a city that isn’t entirely prepared for that, keeping from going stir-crazy is a little difficult. (And, on a technicality, this was, for the most part, during fall. Winter doesn’t begin until December 21st!)

But it’s not just the weather.

It’s the scarves and hats and long-sleeved shirts. Is the jackets. It’s the boots, the shoes, the socks… all these warm clothes—fresh out of the dryer or no. (And when those fail, the layers. Oh, the layers!) And then there are the blankets. There is nothing so wonderful as wrapping up in a blanket, or throwing another one (especially my lovely fleece-y thing) on the bed. And cozying up to the fire… especially with someone else! :3

It’s also the food. Chili and soups, hardy salads, mashed potatoes, pies, squashes, apples, and so much more are all raining down from the sky, it seems. The weather is perfect for baking, by the way. Unless it’s pie crusts… bloody difficult things. They’re a pain to make, but well worth it. And then there’s the stuff I don’t make for myself. No, I am not a “pumpkin spice ERRTHANG!” girl—I’m more partial to my salted caramel hot chocolate and my caramel apple spice. Also, maple bars. To me, they are inherently autumnal. Doesn’t hurt that I love maple.

And the scenery… oh, the scenery! (Hey, it’s not weather!) I love all the colors of the leaves. And the sunrises and sunsets are glorious. Even the fog and mist are amazing. Just this morning, fog banded around the top of the moraine I work near, and it was stunning. There’s the corn mazes (city girl, but within reasonable driving distance of some really fun farms), the hay bales, the sunflowers, the pumpkins, and all the bountiful harvest. But it doesn’t stop outdoors; oh no! There’s the fire in the fireplace, the table cloths, the low lights, the throws…

But, even more simply than that, it’s the family. Fall brings us together. The other seasons do, too, but there is nothing like bundling up together to sit around and chat. It’s the time of year when I get to see my brother most reliably. (Like I said, December 21st is the official start of winter!) It’s the time of year when the family sits by the fire eating cheese and nuts and drinking wine. It’s the time of year when we all come together because it’s too short to go elsewhere. (That makes it sound like we don’t love each other, but we do!)

Fall is, to me, the grand wrap-up of the year; the bountiful harvest that gently maneuvers out the old and parades right in with the new. It is glorious. It is beautiful. It is the season I feel most comfortable in.

I can’t name every reason why I love fall; some things are just mysterious like that. But I love it just the same.

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Chickadoodle Gets a Massage

I try to have good posture. Really, I do!

As a (mostly) desk-rider, and one with the occasional flare-up of sciatica at that, it’s pretty important that I treat my back, neck and shoulders nicely.

During the day, I do find myself slipping sometimes, but as I’ve become more aware of it, I’ve gotten better about not doing it. Really, college was the worst because, let’s face it, no college desk is made for good posture. They’re made to keep you as uncomfortable as possible so that you don’t fall asleep during class. I don’t think even that works well, but that’s not the point.

I actually had about 2 or 3 months of semi-weekly physical therapy for my neck and shoulders at the end of my second year of college, it got that bad. This did involve a half-massage, half-OHGODTHEPAIN in which the therapist actually pressed down on my shoulder to rearrange the bones and muscles just a bit so that they’d be more inclined to stay strong. Like I said, it hurt. A lot. I’m pretty sure I cried. Because it hurt. Did I mention that it hurt already? Because it really. F***ing. Hurt. (Yup, so bad that I’m “using” a word that I shouldn’t on a PG-rated blog. I know, I know, I’ll go through labor in another decade or so and pain will be nothing anymore. But having things actively rearranged inside you, especially when you’ve otherwise had a pretty healthy life, is not an enjoyable experience.)

But anyway, long story short, I’m no real stranger to some small amount of neck/shoulder/back pain. The boyfriend will give me the occasional back rub if I ask for one, but even he admits he’s no professional. He’s good, but sometimes, you just need someone who knows what they’re doing to dig an elbow into your back.

I had my wake-up call on needing a professional the other night when, while sitting, I leaned forward just slightly, and there was this feeling about mid-way down my back on the left side like someone had popped open a can of Pillsbury Grands rolls inside my back. It was a mild twinge for a moment, and I was like, “Oh, crap, this is annoying.” In five seconds, that became, “Oh crap, this is excruciating.” I’d still give it only a 6 (maybe a 7) on the hospital pain scale. The pain wasn’t making me throw up or pass out. But it hit me so suddenly that I was gasping (“Ithurtsithurtsithurts…”) and crying. I hobbled out to where the boyfriend was gaming (which made the pain a little worse—the hobbling; not the gaming) and we both started trying to figure out why I was suddenly in so much pain that even lying down hurt like hell. The internet was only giving him sciatica-related links (well, webMD probably said I was pregnant or had cancer, but I digress…), but this just didn’t feel like it. So, I called Dr. Mom. My mama is, quite unfortunately, no stranger to back pain. I figured that she might be able to steer me in the right direction.

About 5 minutes had elapsed at this point, and the pain was receding. That, combined with a few other things, like the location (way out, almost on my side, rather than on my back), ruled out renal failure or any other organ-related issue. Her best advice was some ibuprofen, a heating pad, and sleep, and then a massage the next day.

So, I went in for my massage.

Now, if you know me in person, chances are, you know that I am ticklish. Very, very ticklish. I don’t like people getting near my neck for this very reason. Massages are a bit of an exception, as long as they’re really cranking down, like they do in therapeutic massage. I also have ticklish spots on my back (perhaps not coincidentally, they’re where I can feel sciatica. Massage those… I might twitch.

And then there’s my quads and knees. I actually had to ask the masseuse to stop because I was trying very, very hard not to kick because it tickled so damn much.

But it was so very worth it. One pain-free Chickadoodle, please!

(Not stress-free, unfortunately—the normally 20 minute drive home took an hour and forty minutes because so many bridges and roads were closed. Thank you, department of transportation…)

In other news, simmer sauces and McCormick meal inspirations spice packs are amazing. With them, dinner takes, like, 20 minutes to prep. Soooo amazing…