Sunday, November 15, 2009

A few weeks ago, I bought these wonderful dolls from one of the galleries in Oakhurst. They are made by a local artist, Julie Mitchell. I just picked them up the other day from the frame shop, who put them in a fabulous shadow box frame and today, we'll be finding the right place to hang them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Well, it looks like all that resting and recuperation after the surgery has not had the niftiest effect on my weight, I'm a tick over my "happy" range, so I'm going to start doing something about that as of today. I must say that I feel strong and back to normal, although the ear still looks a big larger than the other, but it will be a couple of months yet for that to change.

Here's a tasty recipe for Chickpea and Cauliflower Soup:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 1/2 cups tomatoes, diced
4 cups cauliflower, cut into .5 in pieces
4 cups vegetable broth

In a large pot, saute the onion in the olive oil until it starts to get tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, ginger, cumin and coriander and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add the vegetable broth, tomatoes, cauliflower and chickpeas. Heat to a bubble, then reduce the heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is somewhat tender, but still retains a bit of crunch.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Definite Improvement

I can say that today I feel something approaching normal. My ear still looks huge and swollen but overall there's a big surge of energy and very little pain. Lots of itchiness - and if I hear one more time that means it's healing, I'll have to bop someone. I am not a fan of itching - have had too many bouts of poison oak to view it as anything but intolerable.

I felt good enough to take a decent almost hour-long walk, although I stayed on the road which meant the exertion level was low. I ran into a neighbor coming down the hill; we hadn't met before so I was somewhat embarrassed to be doing so with a cotton ball still stuck in my ear. Just when you think you're far enough out in the middle of nowhere, you get caught.

I have my followup doctor's appointment tomorrow, I am very much looking forward to getting the stitches out and the other cleanup items that will be taken care of then also.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Found This in One of My Notebooks

A quote from Thomas Merton:

"Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed…I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. "

Friday, October 16, 2009

Frankenstein's Monster

This is day two post-surgery, and this afternoon the bandage came off to my great relief. The bandage involved a hard shell placed over the surgicized ear, then miles of gauze and tape to hold it securely on. Honestly, the bandage itself is more of a pain than the actual ear cuts. Now that it's off I feel about half-normal as long as one doesn't count the fact that I haven't showered in three days (I will later today, I promise) or the fact that my right ear is about twice the size as the other one.

Since we went back to the Bay Area for the surgery, it was lots of fun when I had to make a bathroom stop on the way home yesterday - got a few shocked stares. It's getting close to Halloween, right, just a little early hellish headgear.

Actually, of course, I am very grateful to have come through this third procedure so well. There was, indeed, another cholesteatoma, and I did get the more complex surgery, so supposedly from here on in, any clean-up can be done outside the operating room.

Here's a morbid little shot from our last weekend's walk - someone stuck this cow skull on a fence post.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Not Really Looking Forward to Next Week

Wednesday, I will have ear surgery number three to remove another cholesteatoma. This time, the procedure will be a "canal wall down" surgery, which is a bit more complex, a longer surgery and possibly a longer recovery time.

The upside is that this version means that additional surgery will not be required as the required followups can happen with office visits. The downside is that it's a bloomin' nuisance.

I love that word for this, by the way. It's the term my doctor used in describing this condition, since there is really nothing that can be done to prevent it (other than this surgery I guess) and it can recur at anytime (if you don't do this surgery). If you don't have the surgery, well. Possible growth into the brain, meningitis, and other icky stuff. I like the phrase because it reminds me not to feel sorry for myself.

I've got my strategy for my week + of down time all worked out. Reading, watching DVDs, fiddling with photoshop, sitting on the front porch watching the birds. I may even go so far as to nap during the day!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I broke my favorite coffee mug to smithereens yesterday during a bobbling clumsy moment doing the breakfast dishes. I literally shed a few tears over that. I suppose it's not good to get so attached to a thing, but I was. I bought it in a store in Moab, Utah on a trip a couple of years ago. It was a lovely handmade one, tall and slender with a perfect fire orange and dark ivory glaze that evoked the desert area there.

Consolation prize: waterbugs

Friday, September 11, 2009

Changing Things Around

Since I last posted to this blog, we managed to get our Bay Area house sold and moved full time to our paradise in Central California, Dryad Ranch. Although the whole process of getting the house ready to sell and doing all the packing and moving was crazily stressful, it was all done knowing that the end result would be amazingly wonderful. And so it has been. My husband seems to be enjoying his retirement, only three weeks in, but his smile is broader than ever.

There are a few creepy crawlies around, such as this scorpion which was discovered lurking in between a couple of bowls in the cupboard. Even I thought it was just a bit too plug ugly to appear as is.

I've been allowed to keep my same job and telecommute, a circumstance that thrills me to pieces. I've rented a small office in the nearest town, which isn't large but has a couple of grocery stores and a small public library and various other amenities, such as high-speed internet connectivity, a must for the commute being over the tele and all.

I read this article in New Scientist the other day and honestly, I don't know what to think about it. It discusses gastric bypass surgery and how it has proven to be amazingly effective in some cases in bringing about an almost immediate reversal of diabetes. Evidently, the gut and the hormonal interactions of metabolism are much more complex than anyone can understand yet. I have had such a negative opinion about this type of surgery for such a long time and still don't like the idea of it, on many levels. An online friend of mine even knew someone who died as a direct result of having it, so obviously there can be some dreadful side effects. This article has really presented a different view of it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

11 weeks or so into the knee recovery thing - honestly, if someone were not really motivated to get help it would be well nigh impossible to get through all of the hurdles put up by all of the various medical entities - just to get a few sessions of physical therapy.

All during this time, I've been doing my knee strengthening exercises, that I found mostly from this book: Healing Your Knees, and doing an upper body only weightlifting program. By the time I finally got my first physical therapy appointment, ol' Leftie the Knee was feeling not too bad. The physical therapist I'm working with is great, though, and is showing me all sorts of perfect strengthening exercises and really guiding me through what I need to do. Evidently, I need to really work the foam roller for the iliotibial band and also do lots of hip strengthening, specifically hip abduction.

What I still need to figure out is how to tell when I'm overdoing things. For example, yesterday, I had a great workout - some weights, a little walking, but the knee was really talking, as in sore, during the afternoon. I've promised her a complete day of rest today, but during the workout, I wasn't getting any cries, I guess because the endorphins kicked in and masked it? The New York Times had a great article recently about this: Link.

The photo is called "Crow on a Stick"; I know it's not a stick, but anyway.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Proceeding Apace

The knee feels better, but not quite right yet - it'll still zap me a good one if I bend the wrong way. I went for an MRI on Friday morning, early (6:45) and was turned away because I didn't have the paperwork proving it was OK to do with the titanium implant in my right ear. (Yes, I know I sound like an old granny with all of her surgeries and so on. In reality, I'm an iron woman with killer biceps.) Just another hoop to jump through, I should have the written approval Monday.

Continuing my knee exercises which help.

None of this has prevented me from taking photographs of course. More from the Collier Canyon project, although this particular spot is outside the Canyon itself, nevertheless I've been enjoying this view for years.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I'm currently healing up my left knee from a meniscus injury. (update: turns out to not be the meniscus, it's chondromalacia). I don't know yet whether it's torn or not, since the approval for the MRI is still winding its way through my health insurance bureaucracy. This little problem happened when I got over-enthusiastic about going up an escalator and missed or bobbled or something and twisted my knee. That was two weeks ago, and I've been limping ever since, although I must admit, feeling much improved the last few days.

As you can imagine, my brain sort of exploded a little at the lack of activity the first several days, but I've been finding ways around it that don't aggravate the injury or cause pain and I've been able now to get back to the gym for some upper body weights workouts, which feels great.
Although I would really like to get back to heavy lifting, it appears that it's going to be a while, so I'm playing the waiting game now while I let my sad little left knee recuperate. (I refuse to call it my bad knee - I have a sad knee and a happy knee - disgustingly perky, I know.) At any rate, I am constrained from doing knee bending at the moment, both doctor's orders and also frankly, just the thought of it makes me cringe. So squats and lunges are out.

I've been working on a pretty good substitute upper body program into which I'm incorporating some unweighted and prone or seated leg exercises. Quad sets: contract and hold the quads while prone; hamstring sets: seated upright, knee slightly bent, activate the hamstring by pressing the heel into the floor, hold. Straight leg raises, various varieties. Single leg balancing. Calf raises. The only weighted leg exercise I feel comfortable with just now are RDLs - oh I did some yesterday with a pretty light barbell and feeling that hamstring stretch and work felt great. The mighty deadlift! And I'm thinking that by the end of this recovery period, my upper body should be killer, even if my legs will have to catch up later.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Collier Canyon Project

I've worked at the same job now for 8 years. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I just this last week passed that anniversary date. As is true with all jobs, it's really awful and really great. I must say that just now I'm grateful for being gainfully employed, so I'm not griping, believe me. I have two possible driving routes to work, one on a piece of freeway that consistently makes the top 3 worst congested commutes in the Bay Area, the other using a scenic backroad. Guess which one I take?

I have seen so many interesting things on my little backroad, the aforementioned Collier Canyon. The bird life is wonderful, although a little difficult to see sometimes from a moving car, but I consistently see red-tailed hawks on the power poles, scrub jays making a racket that can be heard through rolled-up windows, killdeer swooping across the road and loggerhead shrikes sitting on their catbird seats. (I recently read a blurb somewhere that the phrase "catbird seat" was actually in reference to shrikes.) The residents of the houses along the road keep horses, several breeds of cattle including some longhorn numbers, llama, sheep and goats. I've seen lots of wildlife: deer, wild pigs, coyotes, skunks, the everpresent and numerous ground squirrels and the remains of opossum and raccoon.

Toward one end of the road is an absolutely magnificent view of Mt. Diablo.

All in all, this drive makes the extra few minutes it takes worth it and can anyone argue with avoiding the freeway?

I've started taking my camera along some days to record it. Here is something from the start of this project. This is a ewe from the sheep pen.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Yes, But Why Does It Have To Be So Invasive

A week ago last Friday, I finally gritted my teeth and went and got the recommended screening colonoscopy that "they" want everyone to get when we turn 50. Yes, I procrastinated a couple of years. And of course everything went well and I got a clean bill of health.

I have to admit that I was more apprehensive about the day of fasting that's required beforehand than I was about the actual procedure or other prep. I have convinced myself that I go a little nuts when really hungry but it seemed to go just fine. Maybe just knowing that I couldn't and that it just had to be done made it easier. Also it's just a day.

The other thing that I have noticed in the last week since then is that I get fuller faster - or I notice my fullness more. Or I don't enjoy being really full the way I have in the past. Now, I've been just eating an extra bowl of salad to achieve this lately but still there's a marked preference for fullness, which is a leftover from the old stuffer days of eating. I haven't really been working on eradicating that preference but now I'm thinking that there's a little crack in the armor. We'll see. I don't know if that happened because that day of required fasting flipped a switch somewhere (I'm NOT recommending fasting by the way unless you have to do it for something like this, mostly I think the fasting craze a BS weight loss fad.) Maybe it's just because it took a while for my digestion to get back to normal and I'll go back to it? I think what I'll do, as an experiment, is to see if I can hold off on satisfying the urge for getting very full, even if it is just with lettuce and cucumbers that I do it with.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ladybug Butts and Hunger

I've moved on from New Rules of Lifting for Women and am now working the original New Rules of Lifting programs, by the same authors. Anyway, I'm in one of the fat loss programs, which boils down to doing relatively high reps and short rest periods during the workouts. Also, keeping a slight calorie deficit, because really, if you don't do that there is no fat loss. So I'm feeling a little hungrier the last couple of weeks, the prospect of which caused my husband, the Dinosaur, when I told him about it and said we'll see if I can stand it, to inquire whether he would be able to. Ha! There are only four more weeks, she said through gritted teeth.

But of course, with being somewhat more peckish on a daily basis, comes the usual dealing with the mental and emotional issues of eating. Here is an example of some of the food-related BS my brain comes up with sometimes. After supper the other night, with a nicely full/satiated stomach, some needy part of me was insisting that I "had to have" a bowl of cereal. Not just a little bowl - a big full bowl of it. Excuse me? And where would that fit exactly into the aforementioned Full Stomach? Somehow the earth continued spinning on its axis when I passed on that suggestion and drank some tea instead.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Days Do Tend to Follow One Another

I find that I'm not coming up with ideas for here much. Some periods of life are like that I suppose, the struggle isn't so "struggly" I suppose. I've been posting at my Dryad Ranch blog with all of our weekend walks and the beauty of the place. I have been enjoying taking photographs and sometimes they just don't fit for Dryad, so what the heck.

An aloe from the Lower Garden. This photo almost makes me want to get out my pencil set and some paper, but in spite of looking everywhere, even under the couch, I have not found the time to do it.