Friday, May 30, 2008

Boxing Day

In Canada, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas. I believe that it's the day that the servants there get to celebrate and relax while the Master of the House and his family serves them. If I have a reader who is versed in the subject, you would please comment?

In Tarzana, though, Boxing Day turned out to be something quite different. I decided to try out L.A. Boxing as a means of exercise and it was an interesting experience. Not a bad one either.

First, I have to admit that I had some trepidation in trying out something seemingly so different than what I am used to with Richard. I mean, come on! Boxing? As in gloves and a punching bag? Sounds kind of mean, but then again, some of my experiences lately at Slimmons have not been all that friendly either. This kind of new environment certainly would be a different focus and it was only one class. A FREE class. What did I have to lose?

So I went, and worrying that I might have a physical issue or embarass myself or really hate it, I walked in that door, only to be greeted by some lovely people behind the counter. They wrapped my hands (kind of like a sports wrap to give my knuckles and wrists some extra support) and loaned me some gloves. That was a little bit gross... kind of like wearing bowling shoes without socks when everybody before you wore them without socks too. But I certainly was not going to buy gloves for a perhaps one time experience, so I made do. (And washed my hands thoroughly once I got home.)

Soon P.J., our teacher and a professional boxer, showed up and we were introduced. I gave the typical schpeel about my medical issues and how my information was in my bag if something happened and I was unable to speak for myself. Nobody seemed to take it very seriously, but then again, until something happens, nobody ever does. To quote the doctor who saw me in ER when the paramedics took me in last year, "I don't look like somebody with all of those medical issues."

Soon, the room filled up with other students. Mostly heterosexual men although some women thrown in for good measure. We all took up a position behind a punching bag (they had them laid out in rows suspended off of steel girders) and the music was put on. We did some quick warm up exercises, and then were off!

PJ told the class what sequence of punches we were to throw (jabs and hooks)and with what foot combinations thrown in (the boxers dance!) and they just did it. He had to come over to me and show me a little closer, but I didn't have much trouble picking up the moves. We would do a few minutes of boxing exercises, then break them up with cardio moves like jumping jacks, running around the room, push ups, etc. Then back to the bag again for further sequences. This went on for 45 minutes.

After that, we had 15 minutes of ab exercises and were dismissed.

My arms are somewhat sore and I expect that they will be more so in a few hours. The cardio and stamina portions of the class were not difficult for me; Richard prepared me well. PJ did have a few ab exercises that were new to me and I may adopt a couple of them into my permanent home routine.

Financially, LA Boxing was very attractive however they do require a one year commitment. I need to think about that. I believe that I might be better served in an environment where I can pay by the class. But they did have one option where I can just sign up on a month-by-month basis. It's not monitarily the best deal in town, but who knows?

I have no idea how this whole exercise shopping trip is going to work out. I tried to walk around Balboa Lake again, and had a problem within 5 minutes. Immediate bathroom access is critical for me and I fear that a walking program is just not going to do. I do have an appointment to try out Ballys on Monday... for those of you who I have complained to about the never-ending phone calls from "Art," he finally reached me today. I had intended to call them next week and set up my two-week trial, but it's starting a litle earlier and that's ok. I can live with it.

In the meantime, I would not exclude boxing from my range of choices. It was kind of fun.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Animals Elude Us

Just as the animals went onto the Ark two by two, so did Eric & I, Gabby & Miles head down to the Skirball Cultural Center to see their 'Noah's Ark' exhibit last Sunday.

The timing initially seemed fortuitous as, according to the brochure that we received upon parking, there was a special event held in the venue on the last Sunday of each month.

We headed up towards the museum with anticipation of the wonders that we were going to see and get to play on.
And were greeted at the door by banners featuring one of the animals.
Unfortunately, though, the exhibit was sold out for the day and we had to "make do" at the archeological dig site, also known as "Digg It!" There we found sand pits with archeological tools ready to receive the kids in pursuit of ancient treasures. And find them they did.

Above and beyond the standard shards of pottery, the various pits - each with a different theme - were seeded with items of interest. Miles located an oil lamp.
While Gabby discovered an ancient tablet of writing.
Despite what it appears, this is not the hollow tree that the Keebler Elves bake their cookies in.
We wandered around the grounds for a while, then headed home.
The day, for a May afternoon in Los Angeles, was awfully cloudy, but we knew that it was not going to rain because we had not made it into the Ark.
But we are making advance reservations for June.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

World o' Blogs

There are some days when writing comes easily to me. Other days, like today, I don't feel so good (Methotrexate injection related) and have a hard time keeping my topics light if I choose to post at all. Fortunately, when I am suffering for a lack of words and don't feel like seeing or talking to anyone, I am still not alone. For there are a whole world of friends out there in the blog-o-sphere to visit.

I am regularly visiting Angie's "FitBy40" site. I met her a few years ago at a Richard Simmons Retreat in Beverly Hills and her weight loss journey since then is inspiring. She's down 40 pounds now and has the right attitude to take it the whole way.

Francesca used to blog under the name Fluffbuff about her adventures in knitting and the fiber world, but since entering Culinary School, she now regularly updates her cooking blog Tanta Robina with her new adventures. She always was a supurb cook and hostess and it's wonderful to see her pursue her passion.

Crazy Aunt Purl was the first super blogger's blog that I read. Amazingly, even though she is a fiber nut and lives right in my neighborhood, I have never met her. I've occasionally considered skipping exercise class just to attend the Stitch 'n' Bitch that she goes to, but then that would make me a stalker, right? I answer to most names, but 'stalker' can stay at bay. So I'll just continue my journies around town as will she, and sooner or later, or paths must cross.

And then, speaking of super bloggers and authors of all things fiber, there is Stephanie McFee of the Yarn Harlot fame. She always seems to be up to something interesting, whether it's alone time in the deep Canadian woods with nobody to talk to but the deer, or traveling around North America on one of her various book tours, or dealing with family and friends and the forever-late handmade gifts.

Mrs. G of Derfwad Manor fame always seems to keep me entertained. And sometimes, since I started commenting on her blog, she comments on mine! There's nothing like somebody to talks back to you to keep you motivated in your writing pursuits. And then there's her fabulous idea of a Woman's Colony. I signed up for it on the first day it was announced.

Getting Stitched on the Farm allows me a glimpse into a lifestyle bucolic and leaves me longing - but only sometimes - for a more rural lifestyle. Until the occasional posts where she talks about the destiny of her auction animals. Then I remember that city life isn't so bad either.

I'll talk about some of the other blogs that I like in the next day or two. I am eternally grateful for those who post for giving me an opportunity to escape my own life into other worlds which, while no less problematic than mine, allow me to travel around the world right from my desk.

Viva la blog!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Child's Play

Memorial Day has come and gone, but it was a nice one. I joined Eric & his family - and Adele, Steve, & Ian joined us too - for a BBQ in his back yard. You could say it was a somewhat low key affair in that there were no pretentions, the food was modest as were the accomodations. But especially amongst the kids, spirts were high.

Garrett & Ethan helped participate in their own way. Garrett is the BBQ Master. He used his Hand Grenade style lighter to light the charcoal and then cooked us up a bunch of terrific hot dogs. Ethan helped shuck corn and carve up watermelon. As did Gabby and Miles.

The fun truly started once Adele, Steve, & Ian arrived though. Gabby and Miles were looking forward to Ian with great anticipation and they were not disappointed. Nor was Ian. You see, Ian is an only child. He leads a very active and productive lifestyle, but one of discipline and purpose. Eric is the sole custodian of four, on the other hand, so you can say that chaos rules. Don't get me wrong... they're good kids, but very smart and active and they have each other to bounce and enact ideas off of. More than one man can keep track of.

So you can imagine Ian's impression when he is turned loose in this environment. The first time he came up, he was a little bit isolated; especially when the Nerf Automatic weapondry was brought out. (He lives in a very passive home.) He was intrigued but did not know what to do with the exposure. Not this time though.

They played superball handball against the living room wall. They ran around on a self-administrated game of "Scavenger Hunt." I'm not sure what else they were up to, but I can tell you that the bursts of high-spirited laughter were eminating from all corners of Eric's home. When Ian was asked if he would like to be left behind to live with Eric's kids instead of coming home with Mommy & Daddy, it only took a moment's thought before he responded "yes."

I think that the situation was summed up very nicely by Adele in her Thank You e-mail to Eric later last night.

Ian especially had a great time. Apparently he was
very enthusiastic about the way your kids play. When we got home he
whined and whined that all I ever taught him to do was to sit on the
couch. I guess he forgot that this weekend he went out to dinner, to
a musical theater performance, went glow in the dark mini golfing and
got a new bicycle. Anyway, I got the impression that he much prefers
the chaos over at your house. I've got to admit, it did look awfully fun!

She's right. It did.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I Had No Idea!

I took the time to balance my checkbook and review the status of my bills this evening. Never a pleasant task, it did take a turn for the bright side when I made a major discovery.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power AND the Southern California Gas Company both offer a discount to people with qualified medical conditions. That would include AutoImmune deficiencies. I had no idea.

To get the discount, I had to request copies of their applications. The Gas Company's application can be printed right on line, but the DWPs has to be requested through their Customer Service department. Having been on disability for the better part of 4 1/2 years, you can bet that I will be on the phone with them shortly.

When the application is received, I then have to fill out my portion and get my doctor to certify that I am suffering from a qualified disease. That should not be an issue.

I'm going to have to check AT&T to see if they also offer a discount. It seems that there may be a theme going here with utilities.

For any of my readers who may be living with medical issues - or who have family members with disabilities living with them, I urge you to check with your utility companies to see if there are corresponding programs in your area. I can't imagine that Los Angeles is all that unique in that regard.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cosmos on Guard Duty

Entrance to my condominium is gained - at least in theory - by my visitors contacting me on the security phone by the front gate and me buzzing them in. The fact that anyone can gain entrance just by standing by the front gate for a few minutes is a story for another day. Today we're going to talk about the people that I invite into the complex.

My dogs have long been aware of the English Language and what the implications of different words are. When I'm planning on taking them for a walk later in the day, for example, I cannot mention that word to a person that I'm talking to on the phone as they will hear it and react accordingly. Over the years, I've used the words walk, stroll, meander, sojourn, and countless others to describe the same activity of leashing up and getting out of the house. I don't know if they're so smart that their vocabulary is increasing, or I might have a certain inflection of tone when I say the word, but the boys always figure it out with only a little time applied. In fact, I need to come up with a new word shortly. They're just about on to 'picking up their pee-mail.'

When Sunny needs to go out, he stands by the door with a very specific bark emitted. Cosmos, however, is another matter. He whines - he whines for countless things - and I don't always understand what it is that he wants. When Sunny finally gets involved by standing by the door with the "I have to go out" bark for his brother, when it finally dawns on me what Cosmos is telling me, I usually say "Ah, so you want to go out!" Whereupon Cosmos gives me a bark of disgust like how could it have taken me so long?

With all of this interaction, it isn't a long leap to know that Cosmos understands the significance of the phone and the potential for visitors when it rings. And visitors mean a few things. Trespassers! The potential of being pet! The potential of being fed!!!!!

Don't misunderstand. Cozie does not approve of the phone under normal circumstances. That's Beth's fault. I was on one evening, talking to her over the speaker phone. I mentioned to her that Cosmos was in the room. And the phone started talking directly to Cosmos, saying his NAME. That was a big deal to him. He did not like the fact that the phone was suddenly addressing him directly and specifically picking him out of the crowd. And so he barks when the phone rings.

But nowhere near as much as when he thinks that the phone is sending company. The conversation goes as follows:

Phone rings. Cosmos barks in disapproval.
"Hi! Are you here?" Cosmos's hackles go up.
"Hold on. I'll let you in." And I push "9" on the receiver pad.

That's it. Cozie knows that somebody is coming and that is cause to go into full alert. Barking. Hackles up. Generalized frenzy by the front door.

Sometimes it's the UPS or Federal Express man. We've been seeing a lot of them lately with all of the medication deliveries. And that's always a disappointment because we have an agreement to do all of our business over the patio gate so that they don't need to interact directly with either of the dogs.

Sometimes it's Eric. That makes Cosmos happy as long as he stays out of the bed. Eric out of the bed means that there is a potential of food. But it's Sunny that really loves Eric, food or not, and is glad to see him.

Sometimes it's somebody else... like Adele and Ian or a nurse practitioner, or who knows who?

But all of it calls for a frenzy of barking, because that is Cosmos's job.

Then, there is the misconception on Cosmos's part that I might let somebody in. That misunderstanding usually happens when my conversation is short and to the point. Like with a pharmacy or a wrong number or such. When friends call and I am going to settle in for a real conversation, the dog knows it because I will put the phone on speaker, much to his dismay. "The phone is talking again." He knows that this situation is not one where somebody is likely to show up at his door.

The short conversation, though, is full of potential. He does not go immediately frantic as he does when I push "9" but he works himself up all the same. Slowly he pulls himself off of the floor. A few questionable barks. A few more barks in full throat. The neck hackles go up as does the tail. (This situation does not call for hackles all the way down his back, over his butt, and into the tail. That is reserved for the times that he is sure that somebody is coming.) And then he runs to the front door, barking and turning in small circles of anticipation.

I try to tell him that nobody is coming; he does not acknowledge that he might be wrong. He is a watch dog and a watch dog he will be.

But then comes the moment that he dreads. When he realizes that he has wasted his time. He could have been sleeping or eating or watching TV or eating or who-knows-what or eating! And he walks, stiff legged, into the kitchen to beg for a dog biscuit because we all know that his blood sugar is low with all this watching he has been doing.

And I appease him as a rule. Because that dastardly phone, the one who talks to him, has taken on a new role. That of the great deceiver.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Who's Doing the Laundry? (Warning, Not humorous)

My apology to my readers in advance if you were looking for a lighter topic today. But this subject is important to me and, after a conversation that I had with a dear friend this evening during which I expressed my ongoing distress about people I know who, last fall, expressed in my presence how funny it was to contemplate people "pooping in their pants," I've decided to drag it from the hold bin into posting reality.

In that one conversation, they did irreperable harm to me, especially in light of my current health struggle. It was not an easy decision to expose this to the light of day just as it is not easy to live with Crohns Disease.

I only hope that by talking more openly about the subject - and in nowhere near as descriptive or graphic terms as it could have been done in although it is certainly graphic enough, that I inspire a greater sensitivity towards people who are experiencing physical issues beyond their control.

I am inconceivably tired of laundry. This has been a banner week for it.

Crohns Disease sucks. "Laurel1nd," in her posting of March 14th, says:

When you say "Crohn's disease" to most people, the first symptom that comes to mind (if they know what the disease is) is diarrhea. It tops the list of symptoms in almost any information you find on-line or from your doctor. What that word doesn't express is just how severe the diarrhea can be, and how very difficult it can be to live with.

The severe diarrhea of Crohn's disease happens because the cells of the intestinal wall absorb lots of water and salt. Unfortunately, your colon can't absorb that water into your body, so you end up with watery diarrhea, which is frequently "explosive." If you have Crohn's, you know what that means and how it feels; if you don't, it's pretty much what it sounds like. No matter how hard a person with Crohn's tries to "hold it in" and get to the bathroom, that diarrhea is not controllable. It blows out. If you don't like reading that, imagine how we feel living with it.

If you're having a relapse or flare of Crohn's disease, chances are that you are experiencing severe diarrhea. You are probably in the bathroom for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes at a time (I'm basing this on my own experience; I couldn't find any statistics, no matter how hard I searched), and when you leave the bathroom, you are probably back in it within 10 to 15 minutes. It is impossible to sleep very long when your diarrhea is severe. If you are trying to sleep, you should wear an "adult incontinence product" because there's a very good chance that at least once you won't make it to the bathroom in time. I'm seriously considering getting an inflatable mattress to use in the bathroom when I'm having a flare; I wish that were a joke, but with the severe diarrhea of a Crohn's flare, I don't want to be in my own bed when I have to go, because when you have to go, you have to go NOW, not 15 or even 2 minutes from now.

Thank you Laurel1nd! Seriously... that's a better description of the situation than I've ever been able to give without details that would disgust the most brave of heart. The only problem with your synopsis is that I've tried "adult incontinence products;" they don't work very well since Crohns Disease is not what they were designed for.

I've been walking around Balboa Lake for the past 10 days. They have two bathroom buildings at that location, unfortunately both located in the same third of the lake. That means that if I have a problem during the other two thirds of the route, I'm shit out of luck. Pun intended.

It would be easy to say "just don't go to the lake," but the fact is that I am currently feeling like I cannot pursue my more traditional means of physical activity. So what am I supposed to do? Sit at home and gain weight? Or find some means of exercise, anything that I can do that I can afford, and hope for a good day? With Crohns, you never know how the day is going to go until moments before it goes that way. You don't know you're going to have a severe day until about three seconds before it goes severe so you can't really plan for it. But I certainly don't want to sit at home in fear of a bad day when it might turn out to be a perfectly acceptable one and an opportunity was missed.

I am inconceivably tired of laundry.

I've had an issue while walking almost every day out of the past five. I've had issues in my home come on so rapidly that even though I am usually no more than 20 feet from a bathroom, sometimes I don't make it. And with each of these "issues" comes another immediate cycle of laundry.

I am inconceivably tired of laundry.

I just finished my regular laundry (non-Crohns related). Pulled everything out of the washer and put it into the dryer. Then came inside and to my bed. That's when I discovered it. The stain on the bottom sheet that I missed when I checked first thing this morning. Yet another load of laundry to do. Today. This minute. Now.

I am inconceivably tired of laundry.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More Fowl Play

The playground at Lake Balboa...

Is under construction and almost complete.
I'm hopeful that it will be open by this weekend, Memorial Day, although no signs are posted saying as much.
In the meantime, the children of the lake happily swim along with Mom
while Dad keeps watch over the rear.
Lonely gull.
Do my wing pits stink?
Is that why you won't come near me? Do my wing pits stink?
Duck or ?????
Almost like a cross between a duck and a chicken.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Horse, Of Course!

Eric's daughter Gabby turned 10 yesterday, and as many girls her age, is totally engaged with the idea of horses. Last summer, she was lucky enough to have been enrolled in Horse Camp at Foxfield Riding Academy and hopes to be able to repeat the experience this summer. Such is the power of the hoofbeat.

I, of course, relate to this obsession. I went through my horse phase too and had certain events not happened when I owned one, I might never have left. In fact, a couple of years ago I thought about taking some lessons just to see if I still could ride. Of course, that idea was met by universal disapproval by my doctors and since I saw the sense in their arguments, I decided not to pursue it.

Meanwhile, Gabby lives horse, breathes horse, spends every waking moment thinking about horses. She has a model barn in her bedroom,
and almost every time I see her on her computer, she is looking up horse web sites. So when I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, it wasn't much of a leap for her to request a horse model. "A Breyer Horse Model?" I asked. With a happy nod of affirmation by the girl.

When people my age shake their heads in disapproval at the antics of kids today, I know that they are not seeing that things have not changed all that much. The cosmetics and fashions have come of age with the young set (yes, they're horrible) but if you get back to the fundamentals such as personality, they're pretty much the same as us. I collected Breyer Horse Models when I was young as did my sister Adele. And most of our friends. And now Gabby wants them too.

My favorite one, growing up, was the Palomino, and that was before Rose - a real Palomino Mare - came into our lives. But when I went to KB Toys, they had very few models on their shelves.

One struck me as appropriate, though. The Arabian. And so that's what I bought.

Apparently I did well, too. I got a phone call from Gabby last night to thank me, and then Eric came on the line afterwards. Gabby had told him that "that was the particular model that she really wanted." Of course, I don't know if that's the one that she wanted before she got my gift or afterwards, but it doesn't matter. It's a horse, the best horse I can do, and it's hers.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Heart Healthy

Last Thursday, I spent an hour in Dr. Goodman's office having a Cardiac Stress Test. We were not expecting to find any heart issues; in fact, the appointment was to rule them out as the cause of another situation. In fact, that's exactly what we found. Nothing wrong with my heart.

The process started with the usual EKG and being wired for sound. Then, in came Dr. Goodman, ready to administrate the test. He had me hop on the treadmill, feet to either side of the belt. He told me that I would get tired, and in fact I should expect to be very tired. The issue would not be the speed of the machine, but the incline that it would ascend to. I was fine with that and told him that I could take anything that he wanted to dish out. "Bring it on." I said with confidence.

He flipped the switch and was immediately surprised. Apparently whoever had used the machine last had not slowed it down to the snail's pace that it was supposed to start at. I offered to hop on at the high rate, but he declined without a flinch in either expression or attitude.

Treadmill adjusted for speed, I started walking and it wasn't long before he wanted to register my BP. It's pretty rare that I get one taken when I'm walking, but I'm happy to report that it was low. (My resting & starting was 100/68; I can't remember what the first treadmill reading was.) Then, like Lucy in the chcolate factory, he announced that he was going to "speed 'er up!" and pushed the button.

Not a problem. Now the treadmill was moving at my normal walking pace and he put it on a small incline. I was happy... it was fun. And after a few minutes of this, Dr. Goodman decided to take my BP again. Normal.

A raise of the incline and an increase in speed and I was having to work for it. But only a little... way less than I might in even a standard exercise class. Dr. Goodman - who was watching my heart rate on the screen - asked me if I could go another minute or two and I answered that I could easily go five or ten or more. Again, no response. Not a flinch, not a sign of amusement.

We went awhile at that rate. My heart is apparently in good shape and it was several minutes before the beats per minute were satisfactory to measure my "stress" heart performance. Dr. Goodman again took my Blood Pressure... the final one was only 140/80. He announced that he was about to stop the machine and that I should move over to the table for the second EKG as soon as he did.

"But we're just getting started!" I protested. "Come on. I can do more!"

That's when I finally got the reaction that I was looking for. Dr. Goodman turned my way, gave me a look of exasperation, and put his hands on his hips.

"You know that this isn't Bally's, right?!" he exclaimed.

As if I wouldn't know the difference. I wouldn't have a team of trained specialists to annoy at my beck and call at Bally's.

Monday, May 19, 2008


There comes points in every person's life where they are forced to take a look at what is working for them and, more importantly, what is not. When I weighed in the mid 300s, I rarely would look at any aspect of my living condition, preferring to stay stagnant but safe. I hated the world and believed that the world hated me. I blamed everyone and everything but myself for my living condition. It's true, there were (and there remain) lots of things that are outside of my control, but what I've come to grips with is that there are just as many that should be evaluated and changed up at my own discretion. And that by changing up what I can, I can also influence my perception of(and therefore ability to live with) what I cannot.

I'm at one of those crossroads again. I've been dissatisfied for probably around six months now, but with the introduction of Cimzia into my life, it seems to have crystalized into a tangable force... something that needs to be taken action on.

It's not that I know that the Cimzia is going to work. Indeed, there have been significant changes in the way my body is functioning since I took the first injections, but they are proving to be largly inconvenient and embarassing. The "Accident" is now becoming a daily (and sometimes several times a day) phenomena. Of course that signifies an improvement in function as I am not so inflamed that my bodily systems are virtually non functioning, but it makes it hard to leave my home. Whether the drug ultimately continues to improve my functions until I do as well as the best and am in remission in six weeks remains to be seen.

But the fact is that for the first time in many years, I have hope. I may not have to live like I've been living... scared, embarassed, destitute... for much longer. If I am in remission in six weeks, I suppose that I will have to sit on the sidelines for another six months or so to make sure some of the very severe side effects that Cimzia threatens don't manifest. Things like Lupus and Lymphoma. (It took about six months for Remicade to bring out significant enough Lupus symptoms to identify.) But if they don't, I want to go back to work. Be productive. Be a contributing member of society and, at the same time, become self sufficient and not live in a medically-induced state of poverty. Maybe even make a difference. To somebody. Anybody. I have a dream.

The thing is, though, that hope does not wait to manifest itself six months down the line when the timing is appropriate. It is now. And it's influencing how I view other activities, social interactions, and people in my life. What is important; what is not. What still serves it's purpose; what does not. What do I still enjoy; what do I not.

I have to be careful when making these evaluations. Just as Auto Immune disease, when it's flaring, get's into your brain and changes how you react to given stimuli (I've often appeared and acted erratic and 'nuts' when deep inside when I knew that I was not representing myself well... it's one of those out-of-body situations that you can't help), so do the powerful chemicals that are now being released into me. Am I making rational evaluations? Or are my logic systems imparred because of the new regime? Is this really the time that I should start the process of metamorphysis and change, or would I be better served by waiting a little longer?

Any time anyone makes a significant life change, there is - and should be - a period of mixed emotions. Of fear. It keeps us alert and sharp. And I am fearful.

But I'm also determined. I cannot continue down the path as it is laid out for me right now. I may be on chemicals, I may be afraid, I may even be making some of the biggest mistakes of my life. But I need a change.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


It appears that I may be sleepwalking. I don't know for sure as I don't remember it if I have been doing so, but I've been a little suspicious of it for some six months now and a couple of weeks ago, I woke up in the morning next to a box of cereal in my bed. I asked Cosmos if he put it there; he denies it. Since he is a dog with a narrow range of tastes and Special K isn't usually included in his approved spectrum of food, I believe him.

The idea that I am up and about and don't have a clue about it is disconcerting, to say the least. It is likely a side effect of one of the regular medicines that I take - sleepwalking is so common on it that it is announced at the end of the TV commercials in that monotone "don't pay any attention to the warnings" voice of the narrator. And I am well known for having every side effect to every medication known to man. But this one is still an odd one.

What am I doing when I am up and out? Apparently eating is one of the activities. At least I think it must be. It would be a convenient excuse for my lack of weight loss in the past several months, but truthfully, when I get off of my behind and keep my food journals, my weight is where it should be based on my calories consumed. And the box of cereal in bed was closed. So I don't know for sure whether I am eating or not.

And what else am I doing? Am I walking around enough to count it as exercise? Am I walking around like a zombie with my eyes closed and my arms extended out in front of me, moaning as they do in the movies and on TV? Am I naked when I walk (Ok, it's out. I sleep in the buff) or do I put my robe on? And what if I am naked and am going outside of my condo? What if my neighbors have seen me? I don't particularly want to be friendly with them but this is not the way I want to advise them to keep their distance.

So I talked to my Therapist about it at last Wednesday's session. I had been meaning to since the cereal episode but chickened out each week because I knew that, without fail, he was going to recommend that I stop the medicine that is likely causing it and immediately. (I happen to like that medicine... one of the only ones I take that I do like.) And of course, that was his suggestion. He went so far as to leave a message on my home phone this last Friday with suggestions for alternates and also encouraged me to discuss the situation with my doctor.

At my appointment, he told me that he had other patients who experienced the same thing on the same medication. He said that they figured it out in very much the same way as me... a suspicion for a while and then an event of one sort or another that could not be denied. But when I asked him what people look like when they walk around while sleeping, he didn't know. Claiming that he had never actually seen anyone do it. So what does he know?

Here I am. Wondering. A lot. Trying to figure out which of my doctors to call... which one of them will be least likely to assume I am nuts in the head when I call them - again - about a side effect to a medicine. And who will be most likely to prescribe one of Dr. M-s suggested alternative.

I'm not going to ask them how many of their patients get dressed before walking about. But I do think it's time, just for a little while, to start wearing PJs to bed.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fowl Play at Lake Balboa

Jonathan Livingston
Love is in the air...
My walking partner
Love is in the air, redux...
White Duck, White Duck, Yellow Duck.

Name that bird.
Going Vogue
Warning Sign.
Mother & Child Reunion.
Tending the flock.
A nice day for a family outing.
Dedicated to Becky, who loves all things geese.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Very Cool Animation

This is well worth the time to watch:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lake Balboa

It's over 100 degrees out today. True to form, like the last time it was so hot out, I went to Lake Balboa to walk. But this time - in deference to the heat - without the dogs.

The lake is an established stop on the migratory route of many kinds of birds. Of course you'll find the standard ducks and geese there, but also more exotic species such as cranes and herons, pelicans and seagulls (what on earth are they doing so far inland?), and all sorts of other birds that I couldn't begin to identify without a birding book. There were people there feeding them... on a Thursday, they're generally hungry and will accept most kinds of food where on a Sunday afternoon when they've spent virtually the entire weekend gorging themselves, they're way more picky. My favorite scene was a mother and daughter with a large flock of geese around them eating Kelloggs Corn Flakes. I was tempted to join the geese as I haven't had a corn flake in many-a-year.

I decided that, without the dogs to slow me down, that I was going to do the circuit twice. That would be an approximately two mile walk and, according to my pedometer, around 300 calories burned. The first circuit was easy... despite the heat I was fresh. But coming round to where my car was parked, I had a momentary flash that I'd rather go home than do it again. I ignored it and forged on.

That's when I realized my mistake. I should have brought a bottle of water along with me and perhaps even an apple. I'll have to remember that the next time. As it was, I opted when I was feeling a little dehydrated, to sit under a tree (farther away from the water and away from the birds who had forsaken the water for the shade of the trees in the midday) and take in the peacefulness.

When I decided to continue, it was lunchtime and there were many groups engaged in picnic activities. A group of seniors from who knows where? A school. A group of school bus drivers. A group of Japanese ladies on a blanket right by the water, eating sushi with chopsticks.

There were also the fitness nuts. Many of them jogged right by me despite the heat, oblivious to it all with their Ipods strapped on their arms. They were all very young and fit.

There were also a lot of pairs of young men filming. In their late teens or early twenties, I couldn't help but think that they must be working on some college project or another. It is, after all, mid May when they would be working on "term papers" and such. With all the entertainment based colleges in Los Angeles, it would make sense that I would run into this kind of activity.

Walking gave me a lot of time to think about physical activity and my future. I'm at a crossroads right now. Trying to decide what is right about my pursuits and what can be improved upon or changed. I know that it's time to shake things up a bit. I also know that although I really liked today's walk, it is not something that I can reasonably expect myself to do on a regular basis. It's too solitary and since I'm home alone a lot of the time any, I crave human contact.

But I'm guessing that I may be able to pursue it a couple of times a week.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Applesauce Pie

A semi-healthy dessert featuring one of my very favorite fruits... Apples!

Start by making the Applesauce. (Note, this pie recipe will also work by buying a jar of your favorite brand.)


1. Peel and Core Apples (For today's recipe, I used six Granny Smith.)

2. Cube and put into pot with about one inch of water.

3. Add sweetner of choice and cinnamon to taste. (I like to use raw sugar.)

4. Boil apples until very soft.

5. Turn off heat, use wisk to turn apples into sauce.

6. Cool.

Applesauce Pie.

1. Start with a pre-fab grahmn cracker crust from the market. (You know, that dried out ol' thing in the pie tin you get in the baking section. Today's creation is a "Keebler" crust and everyone knows that it's the best. Not because it tastes any different than other pre-fab grahmn cracker crusts, but because it's made by elves who live in a hollow tree.)

2. Pour cooled applesauce into crust. Top with more cinnamon if you desire.

3. Refrigerate until liquid in applesauce permeates crust and apple portion is firm.

4. Serve.


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