Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In which I've been too busy to talk about myself

I've been so busy lately.  Doctor visits, physical therapy, hiking, preparing for hiking, birthday, work.. there aren't enough hours in the day.

I'm happy to be in physical therapy, but at the same time I can't wait to be done because of all the time it's sucking out of my waking hours.  Man, I hope it's worth it!  I hope my back ends up stronger and more functional as a result.  I'm really not sure if that's happening or not.  I've been doing the same exercises for weeks.  Shouldn't they be getting more tough?

I went hiking this past weekend.  If you recall, I fell down on Wednesday and kind of roughed myself up.  Skinned knee (still scabby), roughed up palms, whiplash, back all kinds of unhappy.. but good enough to hike.  DeLee, unfortunately, was not that lucky.  Her doc said no hiking until she got an MRI.  So she was on the sofa with an ice pack all weekend.  Me, I went on.  Perhaps foolishly.  But I needed the mental break.

JD drove me out to Bears Den Hostel Friday evening so I could get an early start on Saturday.  It was nearly deserted when I got there.  Soon, however, three people I sort of knew showed up.  Total coincidence.  They went out and had hijinks, but I just went to bed, since I wanted to be gone around dawn.  And I was.

It was lonely without DeLee, but still beautiful.  The weather was about ten degrees colder and 30 mph windier than forecast, but I managed all right.  Part of the point of the weekend was working on my cold weather camping technique, and that I did.  Cold weather hiking technique, also.  It's a little tricky to wear enough warm stuff in windy weather while not wearing so much that you soak yourself with sweat.   I didn't get it right the whole time, but I managed to dry my clothing out while hiking so it worked out okay.

It was cold enough Saturday evening that my mug froze right away when I set it down with a few drops in it.  I pulled out most of the stops - I made a hot water bottle, I wore down slippers to bed, I opened up two "hotties" iron filings packets, and I started out wearing my down jacket in the sleeping bag.  Oh, and I slept in my down skirt.  First time ever that my butt didn't freeze.

I was able to take off the down jacket relatively quickly.  After that it was just a long, long night.  It was too cold to stay out of the bag after sundown, so I was in from around 6:30 to dawn.  The dawn was gorgeous, btw.  No pictures because the camera was still off from the night before.  I just lay there in my sleeping bag and sleepily gazed.  I had deliberately set my tent up just at the very edge of the ridge so that I would have an unobstructed view of the dawn, and I reaped the reward of that in the morning.  At night, I had the unexpected effect of seeing all the lights in the valley, which was pretty in its own way.

In the morning I got moving shortly after sunup.  It was below freezing when I started but warmed up quickly.  I saw hikers, which was pretty different from Saturday.  The day passed quickly as I bopped along the ridgeline.  Unfortunately, Saturday had been quite rocky (as was Sunday for that matter) and my arches weren't too happy with me.  I think I may have stepped on some of the rocks wrong, with weight on the arch.  At any rate, my feet kind of hurt on Sunday.  In fact they still kind of hurt now.  JD hiked in on Sunday and walked the last mile and a half with me, and was treated to the sight of me wincing and mincing as my feet completely gave up and just started screaming "eff you!" with every step.  They were happier once we got to the car and I changed out of boots and into crocs.

JD and I had celebratory pizza in Harpers Ferry, and then we drove home.  I had a shower and then a nap.  My nap lasted twelve hours.  It was a good nap.

We had dramatic clouds on the way out

I got the best bed in the bunkroom

There was a mysterious banana at Bears Den overlook

Rocks.  Rocks are cool.

Hey look, I'm in West Virginia!

The view from Raven Rocks.

Annnnnd there's the rocks

Lunch - peanut butter on pilot biscuits.  Delish.  I even found a warm bit of sun to sit in.  That's a log, btw, not a table.

I got water down at Blackburn Trail Center.  Probably should have just left the filter home, as now I'm wondering if I left it out long enough to crack or not.  I don't think so, but..

I never did get an exterior shot of the tent.  It got a little crowded inside after my pack explosion.

Rockdancer hat:  check

I didn't stay in the shelter, but I did use the nice chair (with back!) to retie my shoes and add some tape to my feet.

Hey looky, a town!

And a husband.  And pizza.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

February 2012: nothing to write home about

I'm having kind of a sucky month.  I'm busy as a one legged man in an ass kicking contest.  I keep forgetting things (like my visa bill, apparently).  I keep being ungraceful.  I was freaking just walking yesterday and tripped on a ROCK and was laid out on the ground.  The chiropractor says I now have whiplash.

I'm pretty much ready for February to be over.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Speed post

Went to REI.  Purchased items.  (Have replaced all my daily wear jackets so I don't have to wear something that has permanent farm stains.  Also can reserve super ultralight down jacket for backpacking use.)  Practiced speech 3 times.  (It still sucks.)  Ate and ate and still haven't made it up to my minimum for the day.  No longer hungry, giving up.

Was a long day and tomorrow is going to be longer.

Hasta.  Maybe catch up with you Monday.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whee new tent!

My new tent actually arrived several days ago, but I haven't had the time and energy to get it out and set it up until today.  I'm glad I had a long stretch of time, because I spent at least an hour just cutting, singeing, and knotting cords for guylines.  Oy.

Anyway, with that all done, I took it out into the yard to set it up.  The instructions are one page, typed.  No pictures.  I had to read carefully.  First I attached all the different length guylines to the correct spots, and then I worked on actually setting it up correctly.  However, it was fairly straightforward.  The geometry made it set up MUCH more nicely than my fairly similar Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis, since sold off to a lucky bidder on Ebay.

I must say, I'm pleased with the tent.  I weighed it after attaching all the guylines.  In the stuff sack, sans stakes, it weighs 13.5 oz.  Not too shabby!  It is extremely roomy inside.  There is a surprising amount of head room.  I should have guessed, since it wanted my hiking pole extended to 52" (which is pretty tall for an ultralight one man tent.)  While I had the pole extended, I painted a circle on it at the right spot.  My poles are unmarked so finding any specific length requires a measuring tape.  This way I'll always be able to find the right length.  Until the paint wears off.

The included seam sealer wants to be applied when it's over 60 degrees out.  It wasn't that warm today.  It will be later in the week, but I'll be at work.  I might come home from work for an hour just to seam seal, as it will be over 70 one day this week.  On the other hand, it's not supposed to rain this weekend, so I could go with an unseamsealed tent.  That pretty much guarantees rain, though..

I was texting DeLee while setting it up and having a look at it, so without further ado here are the pictures I took for her:

The view from inside looking out

My feet all the way down at one end.  Note the lots of room over them.

It takes TEN guy lines, which is a lot.  The guy lines sort of take the place of tent poles.

I'm sitting in one front corner, which my coat tossed down at the other end.  You can see the six inch gap all the way around the bottom.  That's mesh.  I'm sitting on the ground sheet, which is *inside* the tent.

With the extended beak down, for privacy or protection from driving rain.

Doggie is posed for size comparison.

A view showing how wide the door is.  Extended beak is rolled up.

And this view from the side sort of shows the bathtub floor of the groundsheet,  In theory I need to seam seal the ground sheet, but I can't find the seam!  I'll have to email Joe.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Shirley thinks we dum simmed

I've been trying to gather my gear for next weekend's backpacking trip.  How come it's so frustrating every time?  I can't find my X.  I don't remember the last time I saw my Y or Z.  It's all alphabetical up in here.

So, as I do every single time, I'm making a list of items that I need to locate (or refill) before I leave for the trip.  I hope that folding the laundry will provide me with all the clothing (except my silk shirt, which I have no idea where it is but I know I haven't worn it recently.)  I know I have at least three headlamps and I'm not sure where any of them are right now.  And since it's been more than a week since my last backpacking trip, I no longer have a fresh mental list of what I usually take.  Oy. (Although, I do have gear lists from previous trips.  That helps.)

Anyway, that's what I'm doing this evening.  That, and slowly migrating all my camping equipment to the sunroom, so that in the future it'll be a little handier (as compared to scattered around the entire upstairs.)  (And downstairs.  The stuff is freaking everywhere.)

This morning, I slept in, and then when Shirley and Susan got home from their respective churches, we went out for dim sum!  Unfortunately, by the time they got home from church and we got over to Wheaton, the pickings were getting a little slim.  I never did see some of my favorite items.  It was still tasty, though.

Shirley pouring tea while we waited (and waited) for somebody to come by with food.

Shrimp and chive dumplings, chicken curry egg rolls, some kind of noodle thing

I got to try a few things I'd never had before, so that was nice.  But if we go back, it'll be earlier.  We think the sweet spot is around 11:30.  Also, yesterday may have been overdoing it.  I was hungry again by the time we left the restaurant.  Stupid appetite!

Also also, there may be some apocalyptic kind of thing going on, because Andy voluntarily ate next to Olli today.  It was totally his idea.  I'd keep an eye out for dogs playing with cats (crap!  this totally happens here!) and other omens and portents.

Andy acting like it's totally normal for him to be this close to Olli.  Olli being shy about having his picture taken.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I so deserve dim sum tomorrow

Woohoo!  I did it!  I finally had the fortitude to walk the park twice. I've had the strength for a long time, but I've never been able to face the boredom of retracing my footsteps for another two hours.  Today, I buckled down, listened to my podcasts, and did it.  I had motivation.  Guilt free dim sum!  I am so there.  Tomorrow.

I did around eleven and a half miles in around four and a half hours. That's pretty close to what I'll do next Saturday, but I intend to take a lot longer to do it then.  It'll be prettier terrain, it'll be tougher terrain (we'll be starting in "The Rollercoaster"), and I'll be carrying significantly more gear.  Plus, it's hard to charge ahead while gabbing, and much of the point of going backpacking with DeLee is the conversation.

I had a nutritional plan for today, and it worked pretty well.  Cereal and a banana for breakfast, high carbs snacks on the trail, regular low carb for dinner.  After having cereal (high protein, high fiber cereal) and a banana, I was on some kind of crazy sugar high.  Man, my body adjusted to low carb very quickly.  I decided I better not add caffeine to the mix, and swapped my Keurig cup for something decaf.  And then I charged off to the park.

Isn't that a nice little trail?

I find bridges to be very inviting.  It's nice to cross a ravine / stream with little effort and dry feet.
After that, mildly triumphant, I drove down to check on Pluto.  I had intended to blanket him against the incoming snow, but it was still nearly sixty degrees!  Instead, I fed him cookies.

This was the best picture I could get.  Cookie shark wouldn't leave me alone.  I'll be keeping an eye on the weather and possibly dashing out to blanket him, but as you can see it was still gorgeous out.
JD suggested a nap after I got home, and it sounded like a genius idea to me.  Unfortunately, I couldn't sleep.  I have two more chances, though.  Three day weekend woo!  I realize that some people have more exciting plans than napping, but I really like napping.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Trail showed up at my house today

This is how my day went.  I didn't notice that I was wearing one boot, one running shoe, until I got to work.  I stopped at the vet's office on the way.  I figure I was wearing the footwear for an hour before I noticed.

I would like to be a morning person.  I've tried.  I'm just not.  I can get up, but I can't be alert.  OBVIOUSLY.  There is a very good chance that any decisions I make before about 10 am (having been up 2-3 hours) will be wrong.   If at all possible, nobody should ask me any questions until after lunch.  Ideally nobody will talk to me at all until my brain has gotten up to speed.  Some kind of minimum coasting is required for conversation.

I am so grateful that today is Friday.  I'm planning to go to bed early and get up late.  And then, if I have somehow recovered from today's somnolence, I'm going to try to get in two complete perimeter loops around the park.  I need a huge calorie deficit so I can go out for dim sum on Sunday without adding a spare tire.

I received two awesome things in the mail today:  My own personal white blaze
Made personally and gifted to me by the creative genius that is Just Blue Skies

And my new tent, a Zpacks Hexamid Plus.  I hope to set it up and seamseal it this weekend so it's ready, but I don't intend to use it on my camping trip next weekend, as I want to use a warmer tent.

When it's set up, the Hexamid will look like this:

Very open, very airy, very LIGHT
Whereas next weekend's tent will look like this (unless the forecast changes a lot)

Much more enclosed, although of dubious seamsealing now that I think of it.

And that's all my scattered brain is holding right now.  G'night.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's not Buffy, but it's close enough

OSX and I continued our unfriendly relationship today.

Did you know that if you had two OSX machines who each have the same hostname (internally to themselves) but different IP addresses, they'll figure it out and one will add a "2" to its name?  You might have noticed this if you've replaced one of your machines before.

Did you know that the only good way to tell the "2" machine to assume its real name is to use the scutil command?

Did you know that this won't fix any mailing list information you might have imported (which also got changed to "2" once the machine realized it had a twin), and you'll need to use the mailman "withlist" command to fix the hostname?  Like so:

/usr/share/mailman/bin/withlist -l -r fix_url my-mailing-list -u

I didn't.  At least not that last little part.

For those of you whose eyes haven't already glazed over, I did think about things other than OSX today.  I had my second reassessment at PT today.  I'm doing well front and back, but when I lean from side to side I shake.  Apparently.  More strengthening needs to be done.  They're getting me permission to have more appointments.  I'd guess at least another month.  I haven't asked yet about maintenance - do I keep doing the same exercises I do there?  Do I try to increase intensity?  I dunno.  I should ask about these things.  However, I'm pretty sure I shouldn't work on my cobra pose immediately before doing the PT exercises.  That's what happened in the last 24 hours, and my back is going "yow!"

A coworker lent me a book today.  It's entitled "Carpe Demon (Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom)".  Charlaine Harris described it thusly:  "Shows you what would happen if Buffy got married and kept her past a secret."  My coworker immediately thought of me when he found it, what with my unmedicated obsession for all things Buffy.  I'm seventy pages in and it's pretty butt-kicking so far.  I'll have to give it back to him after I'm done.  He actually gave it to me to read first.  Wow.  Just goes to show that people can be much, much more considerate than me.  I'd have read that sucker first.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I want an operating system divorce

Life is kicking my butt a little bit.  I feel too busy.  Need some downtime.  A boring evening, perhaps.  Maybe even a boring weekend.  I'm thinking mid-March.

I spent my whole day wrestling with OSX.  I am so over that operating system.  Someday, if we sit down with some beer, I will tell you why, in great detail.  But for right now let's just say that it is not sys-admin friendly.  It's not server friendly.  It pretty much wants to eat your dogs and babies.  It's fine for the desktop, but trying to use it as a real server is just asking for trouble.

While I was still at work cursing at OSX and saying "Are you kidding me?"  (I feel the same way about OSX server that I do about trail layout in Maine) poor JD was home feeling sick.  I'm pretty sure he caught the cooties I brought home from Tennessee.  Poor guy.  He was already in bed when I got home from yoga tonight.  With luck I won't wake him up when I creep on up to bed.

Okay, Wednesday.  You're done.  Two more days, and then it's hiking time.  And dim sum time.  And then hiking time again.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

But if I take the drugs I'll have a less holiday themed face

The sore throat that's been dogging me for the last week or so finally resolved into something yesterday morning.  A cold.  Not a horrible cold, apparently.  But with chills, and aches, and snot.  I toughed it out as long as I could, which was about three hours.  I'm not very tough.

I came home and lay down on the sofa, and when I woke up I had several cats on me.  And there was lukewarm pizza in the kitchen.  I had some, then went upstairs to bed.  *conk*

After thirteen cumulative hours of sleep, I was too sore to stay in bed.  I think.  Honestly there's no telling how long I would have slept if the alarm hadn't gone off.

I decided to keep my coughing and my chills to myself, and telecommute.  But first:  doctor's appointment.  It was a bit of a let down.  They had not much clue about ocular rosacea.  I'm not sure why the ophthalmologist sent me to a dermatologist.  Apparently, however, only internal treatment will fix ocular rosacea.  The internal treatment is 40mg of Doxycycline a day, in the form of Oracea.  $547/ month, without insurance.  $10 with.

I am not thrilled with the idea of daily antibiotics for life.  Nor am I convinced that my ocular rosacea is bad enough to require treatment.  I'm giving it a shot for now.  The 40 mg a day dosage is supposed to be anti-inflammatory but not anti-microbial.  I have a return appointment to see the dermatologist in six weeks.  Regardless of what she says, if my eyes don't feel less dry and scratchy by then, no more drugs for me.

Are there holistic ophthalmologists out there?  I'm sure there's some dorky treatment like rosewater eyedrops that a) works, and b) doesn't give you a lifetime of yeast infections and sunburns and resistant bacteria.

The dermatologist also prescribed me a gel and a facial wash for the redness.  I guess I'll give it a try, but I don't really see me as committing to a lifetime of drugging my face.  The redness doesn't bother me, it only bothers other people who see me.  Perhaps I could just get some of those cheap sunglasses to hand out to people who are disturbed by my face.

Anyway, so that was my morning.  A mild cold and a lot of fairly useless prescriptions.

Heh!  I just realized that I forgot to wear red for Valentine's Day, but at least my face was red!

My sweetie got me a Valentine's Day card that was bigger than Oliver.

And for dinner he made me a heart shaped fried egg.  Aw!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Inaugural AT 2010 Reminiscence Hike

I flew out to Tennessee this weekend.  Cody had the genius idea of getting some 2010 thruhikers together.  It was me, her, and Just Blue Skies.  Blue Sky was invited too, but she had a grandbaby on the way and couldn't be torn away from the expectant mother's side.

I had a *fantastic* time.  It was so fun and relaxing to get together.  We hiked all three of the full days we had together.  Cody only hiked two because she had school one day, but JBS and I went out on a couple of short hikes that day.

The first day of hiking, we met up with Cody's friends Lillian and Marnell for a hike down to Virgin Falls.  

It started out nice and easy, but it didn't stay that way

The first of many falls on the trail

Almost a classic Cody shot - the red jacket is missing.

Just Blue Skies and her fancy new daypack

Cool overhanging rock wall

Virgin Falls.  It comes out of a hole in the rocks, and it thunders down into a hole in the rocks.  It's a feature of the porous geology of the area.

Coming back, Lillian and Marnell led us off trail, across country.  It was definitely tougher than staying on the trail, but it was a lot of fun.  I would have found the hike challenging prior to some of my New England hiking, but without a backpack it was just a really, really good time.  I loved meeting Cody's friends.  They're definitely my kind of people.

In the morning JBS and I headed on out to a really nice overlook

And then we walked out to Welch Point, which was a flat road walk in a gated off area.

Then we spent the afternoon slowly getting colder, as neither of us were bright enough to figure out that Cody's thermostat had a touch screen.  We stared at it like chimps, trying to figure out where the buttons were.  Doh.  I made Cody's little dog Nutmeg stay on my lap to keep me warm.

Friday night, Stickwalker and Belle showed up!  I'd been texting Stick, trying to convince him to join us, but I didn't think he would do it.  It was great to see both of them.  This is the group watching JBS's trail photo compilations.

In the morning, it was way below freezing.  I had bought a bottle of Cheerwine to take on the trail, but I decided to drink it at home rather than risk it freezing in my pack.  I can't get Cheerwine at home very easily.  Note that my low carb menu went out the window while I was hiking. 

We all headed out to Falls Creek Falls.  Here's Stick and Belle, back on the trail!

Stick dayhiked with his thruhiker pack!  I had my little daypack I've been using for dayhiking and as luggage for the last decade or two.  I didn't even notice he was using a giant pack until later when I saw it in the house.

I was a little saddened to see that Belle apparently has Bell's Palsy.  She got sick with Lyme on the trail, and that's one of the possible problems with it.  One side of her face doesn't work quite right.  It doesn't appear to bother her, though.  Belle took a fair amount of damage from the trail but she's still a pretty happy dog.  Stinky, but happy.  I love that crazy Weimaraner.

So, here's another falls.  You can see too many falls, if you ask me.

Back in the woods, I fantasized that I was back on the AT.  It was nice.  I daydreamed about what the shelter would be like that night, and about snuggling into my sleeping bag, and meeting other thruhikers.  I didn't fantasize about blisters, hiker stench, or ramen.  My fantasy, my rules.
It was such a good time.  We're hoping to make it an annual tradition.  I talked and laughed so much that my throat hurt.  I figure we hiked around 20 miles, so those oreos were TOTALLY REASONABLE.  I don't know what my excuse for the wine was.

Tomorrow morning it's back to physical therapy, work, and low carbs.  I'm a little scared to step on the scale.  But I don't regret one single minute of this weekend.  Or one oreo.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I just thought I was showing my Irish side.

I had my annual eye doctor visit this morning.  I was expecting a slight change in prescription.  What I got was two eye openers.  (.. and I didn't really mean to make a pun, but you can take it if you want it.)

1)  I have presbyopia.  It's just starting.  In my case, since I'm myopic with astigmatism, the effect is that I need to take my glasses off to see near things clearly.  As the lens in my eye continues to stiffen, I'll need to get reading glasses.  Probably in two or three years, though the doc says there's no predicting how quickly it will progress.  It could be as little as a year.

I knew this was coming.  Nearly everybody becomes presbyopic with age.  The doc warned me about it when I had Lasik over a decade ago.  He said that he could correct my vision then, but it wouldn't prevent my eyes from changing with age.  It seemed so far off in the future then.

Hello, old age.  Make yourself comfy.  It's not like you're going anywhere.

2)  I have rosacea.  When the eye doc said "You have rosacea" I didn't know what to think.  I mean, a) it's a little rude to bring up my red face, isn't it? and b) isn't that more of a dermatologist thing?  It turns out that rosacea has an eye connection.  There is such a thing as ocular rosacea.  Ocular rosacea is not one of those things you want to let go, as it can lead to blindness.  And while I am not anywhere near that stage, I do have ocular rosacea (according to ye olde eye doc) and it needs to be treated.

Despite years of people commenting on my red face, it never occurred to me that I might have rosacea.  I have friends with it, but I just never thought of it in my own case.  It makes sense, though.  I *do* get a red face regularly.  I figured it was wind burn, sun burn, reactions to drugs, exercise, overheating, you name it.  And some of it probably was.  But the visible veins in my face are definitely from rosacea (if the intarwebs are correct).

I still wouldn't be to concerned about treating something that is essentially a matter of vanity, but rosacea can lead to disfigurement.  That does seem to be a mostly man thing, which is nice for me.  And, there's the eye thing.  Gotta save the eyes.  So, at the urging of my eye doc, I've made an appointment with a dermatologist to get it checked out.

Also good to know?  You shouldn't use topical steroids on your face if you have rosacea.  Like the topical steroids that are prescribed for my occasional flares of psoriasis.  Which, of course, occur only on my head.  Guess I'll be looking at other ways to manage that.

Monday, February 6, 2012

This shall not stand. Probably.

Do you think the world has too many people?  I mean, we have a *lot* of people.  Many of them live in desperate poverty.  Many don't have access to clean water, or even clean air!  Too much pollution from too much industry, too many cooking fires, just too much everything.

I don't want to die soon, of course, but I think a big old round of plague would solve a few problems.

The same problem we have here (a few immensely wealthy people, and then everybody else) applies on a larger scale around the world. A few immensely wealthy countries, and then everybody else.  And the trickle down effect never does seem to trickle all the way down to the bottom.

You'd think at some point, something would have to give.  I guess it has, in places.  The USSR took a shot at leveling the playing field.  I'm not sure how well that worked out.  I mean, I know millions died.  But I'm not sure if the daily life of the peasant was better or worse afterward.  Probably the daily life of the rich guys that didn't get killed was about the same.

I think the US is effectively a giant theme park, compared to much of the rest of the world.  There's huge excess.  It's all shiny and it keeps getting upgraded.  It's not based on anything real.  We don't make that many products anymore, I mean.  "Finance" is a very large chunk of our economy.  Not something you can smell, or taste, or feel.  We effectively pay our best and brightest to make wagers on what might or might not happen.  Weird.

By an accident of birth I live in a house probably 30 times the size of the shack that I might have lived in elsewhere on the planet.  (The yard, however, would need to be a lot larger if I were doing subsistence farming.)  And this house isn't big by US terms!  It's ludicrous when you consider it.  I very much doubt that I work harder or am more deserving than people all over the country, and yet here I sit in the American middle class.

It all seems unworkable, and yet it keeps working.  Perhaps that's why we have such a huge (and expensive) military - to keep all the other guys from trying to make us share our wealth.

Ludicrous.  Not the military (well, maybe the military), but the disparity in the lives of people all over.

All those immigrants who came here and struggled and sweated and endured racism and classism, so their children could have a chance at a better life?  Totally made the right call.  Maybe not those coming here today, because I don't think it's as easy now as it was a hundred years ago.  Our lower classes seem to be staying low.  But those guys in the first couple of hundred years vastly changed the lives of their descendants.

I wonder what will happen in the lives of ours.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pumpkorn would be a good name for a band

Do you ever have days where you never really wake up?  I'm having one of those days.  Even though I have cooked and hiked and driven and done dishes, I'm not really awake.  I caught sight of myself in the rear view mirror and I have pouches under my eyes, as if I had just spent 48 hours awake.  When in fact I got 10 hours of sleep last night.

I'm on day 5 of trying to eat fewer carbohydrates, and so far I have irritated everybody who has ever been born, and also some zygotes.  For instance they say "Would you like a brownie?" And then their brows furrow with consternation as I explain that I'm eating low carb, and I'd rather have a bunch of spinach.  And some almonds.  Eating different food from everybody else is a little bit trying.  I suppose I've just given myself a valuable life lesson in what it's like to be a vegan, strict kosher, gluten free, or other strict diet type eater.  I'm sorry, y'all.  I'm sure it's hard for you.  And you're probably not just doing it on a whim, either.

The thing is that my whim is working out pretty well.  It's easier to eat less when I'm eating a lot of fat and protein.  More satiety.  Also, in the last 5 days I've lost 2 pounds.  That might not seem like much to you, but I've spent much of the last year not losing ANY pounds while eating a low fat, low calorie diet, and exercising vigorously.  So to me this is a minor miracle.

It is an unnatural way to eat, for me.  I couldn't do it at all if I didn't have supplemental enzymes to take with meals.  (Because of my nonfunctional digestive processes, I can't eat very much fat without pain.  Say, six grams at a time.  Supplemental enzymes fix that.  )  But I do, and I am. And so far so good.  I guess I'll see what happens in the next few weeks.

I'm trying different foods, and of course not eating things like bread and pasta, so my plates sure look different.  For snacking I picked up some Pumpkorn, which are yummy spiced pumpkin seeds.  I got Adobo Chile flavor and they're so, so good.  I also tried a recipe for a homemade MIM (muffin in a minute) microwave muffin.  It was horrible.  I'm going to try another variation tonight, because the idea is enticing.  I suppose if it is also horrible I will give up.  Which would be sad, because it's a nutritional powerhouse.

Oh, also?  It would appear that Uncle Sam has done something odd with taxes, because JD and I have been withholding the same way for years, and this time we owe very much when normally we don't.  Or perhaps it's not Uncle Sam's fault, but the point remains that we are going to be handing over a large chunk o' cash to the IRS soon, and we are not best pleased.  And we need to change our withholding.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Never mind about Pluto. Look at Blue go!

I went out to ride Pluto today, and the rotter is sick!  Again!  This time he appears to have a cold.  I've lost track.  Let's see.. I think it started with him colicking last winter.  Then the bloody thing on his jaw.  Then the second round of that.  Then his UTI.  And losing weight.  Now a cold.

The poor guy has really been through the wringer this year.

I groomed him, blanketed him, and put him back out in his field.  I figure if he's sick, he doesn't need to waste any more calories than he has to on keeping warm.  Even without the snot and the coughing, I'd have figured out something was wrong when he didn't try to misbehave at all.  I even left him tied to the post while I went in to use the loo, and when I came back he was just standing there placidly.  That's not normal.

Sigh.  I finally feel up to riding and now he's not up to it.  We have stinky timing.

I went to watch Tara get ready for her ride, and Timber was feeling FINE.  And so was Blue.

I came home, took off my completely unnecessary riding pants, and folded laundry.  We fold the laundry on the bed, and when all the clothing was stowed I could feel the bed calling me.  I lay down right on top of the covers and nodded off.  And so did JD.  I dragged his big comforter over me after a while, and I was zonked.

I woke up and thought I'd turn over and give the other side a go, but then I glanced at the clock.  Crap!  It was time to leave for a social event.  And it was raining.  And we'd have to walk in the rain.  I looked over at JD and said "I don't know about you, but I don't really feel like going out tonight anymore."  He didn't either. I hopped onto the internet to send our regrets, and we settled in for a cozy evening at home.

My back, btw, feels fine.  My neck is a little stiff from the various weightlifting I'm doing at PT, but my lower back feels as good as it has in ages.  I can feel the poky parts of my bad vertebrae grinding if I lean forward or back in a chair, but it doesn't hurt when I stand or bend.  Which is awesome.  I love PT.  Right now anyway.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wool socks and a Ball Gown: So Prince George's

Don't even talk to me.  I am so aggravated.

It's been kind of a rough week.  The wrong drops in my eye.  The upgrade that went poorly.  Nasty pain in my neck and back.  An extremely irritating and pointless (but thorough!) security investigation.  An old cyst that chose to swell up again.  Getting on another diet and feeling like a zombie as a result.  (You know, I wish I could go back and retroactively not write a couple of "I'm never going on a diet again" posts I've written.  That was before I was pre-diabetic and had an effed up back.  Before ye olde neurosurgeon told me the best thing I could do for my back was lose weight.  Sigh.)

Anyway, that week is done, and good riddance.  It's time for the weekend!  I started by changing into comfy pants.  Oh hell yeah.  I'm wearing the frak out of these comfy pants.  Sheepskin boots too. If I'm not comfortable now, it's not for lack of trying.

After the switch to extremely comfortable, JD and I drove on over to the local Outback Steakhouse.  He thought we'd get there before the rush.  Hah!  I know my Outback culture.  Friday evening rush starts well before I leave work.  I'm flexible, though.  I told them we'd be happy to sit in the bar, so we got seated pretty much right away.  Dinner was *delicious*.  A wood fire grilled steak, grilled asparagus, and steamed green beans.  You can't beat that with a stick.  I mean it.  Stay away from my steak with your sticks.

We popped into MOM's (My Organic Market) to get some flax seed and $75 later walked out with sweet potato dog treats, fancy chocolate, probiotics, and several other organically expensive items.  It's almost as bad as visiting the store my boss likes to call "Whole Wallet".  I seldom get out of there for under $100, though in that case it's almost entirely cheese.  They have an excellent cheese counter.

Tomorrow is farriery and riding (do I remember how?  does Pluto?) and sig-beer.  JD is still disappointed that our long time beer venue has turned hoity toity.  They no longer carry onion rings, or in fact most kinds of bar food.  They carry risotto balls.  Risotto balls!  Because beer and fried risotto go together like wool socks and a ball gown.  Who thought that was a good idea?  At any rate, they still serve beer.  So far.

Sunday I plan to go hiking, possibly in the snow.  That actually sounds like a good time to me, provided I can be warm and dry afterward.

Also, this weekend, I am PACKING!  Because it's almost time for me to go see Cody and Just Blue Skies so we can get our chick hiking on.  I miss those women fiercely.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Feeling sorry for myself kept me really busy

You may have noticed that I was missing yesterday.  I had a bad evening.  I went to yoga and everything started to hurt.  I left midway through (I NEVER leave midway through) and sniffled on the drive home.  And felt sorry for myself.  And then felt even more sorry for myself when I couldn't fall asleep because my sacroiliac hurt too much.

This morning at PT I asked for reassurance that it was normal to have increased pain.  She said yes.  She said that it would go away again.  That was all I needed to hear.  I did today's exercises with more determination than ever.  If all it takes is perseverance, I got that.  If it takes grace, or some kind of athletic ability, I'm out of luck.  But I can keep on keeping on with the best of them.

In the last few days I've been reading up on carbohydrates, trying to figure out what's what.  It's confusing.

Per my doctor(s), I'm pre-diabetic.  I would like to be completely non-diabetic.  One of the things involved is losing weight.  And a low fat, high carbohydrate diet just isn't doing it anymore.  I track my food using (and have for years.)  I know how much I'm eating.  I know how much I exercise (lots.)  I know in theory how much I should be losing.  And it doesn't happen.

So, one camp says that I'm insulin resistant, and I need to get the majority of my calories from foods that aren't in the realm of insulin.  I.e., fats and proteins.  Which, okay, kinda makes sense.  But then there's the polar opposite camp which says that carbohydrates are essential, and it's not healthy to eat so much fat and protein, and they also make sense.  Everybody sounds so reasonable!  If you read their arguments, they all seem sort of logical.  But they can't both be completely right.

The Mayo Clinic says the type of diet doesn't matter as much as your ability to follow it.  Which my experience has proved wrong, at least for me.

I will say that when I follow the Sparkpeople guidelines on ratios of carbohydrates to fat to protein, it's pretty easy to fit in quite a bit of fairly unhealthy food.  In the counter, at least, they don't distinguish between sugars vs other carbohydrates.

A lower carbohydrate diet forces me to lean heavily on vegetables and unprocessed foods, which is a good thing.  I "can't" use very many sugar free products, because I don't wish to use artificial sweeteners.  I wouldn't mind stevia sweetened foods, but those have not hit the grocery shelves in any great numbers yet.

It would be easy to get too many "bad" fats on a low carb diet, and I need to start paying attention to that.  (Hi mother with heart disease!)  I don't want my wakeup call to be in the form of an ambulance ride to the ER.

Anyway, I'm reading a lot, and generally eating a lot more vegetables and berries, and a lot less in the way of grains, starchy veggies, bananas, and dried fruit.  Ironically, I'm having a hard time getting as much fiber as on a low fat diet.  My regular morning cereal had a *ton* of the stuff.  And gobs of protein.

I don't think I'm eating at a level that anybody would consider "low carb" just yet, but I'm feeling good about what I'm eating.

JD had just stocked up on a bunch of stuff before I whimsically decided I wasn't eating that way anymore (at least for a while.)  And I'm still confused about what's what - I brought home a bunch of brussels sprouts tonight, not having noticed that they're a higher carbohydrate vegetable.  We're going to be freezing or wasting some food in the near future, looks like.  Either that or JD is going to have to run a LOT so he can afford to eat it all.