Monday, August 31, 2009

Change in the Air

Last evening I opened the laundry room window for some air. Normally, it's closed through the summer because the heat and humidity outside are far worse than the laundry room. But last evening, just as the sun was sinking into the tree-tops, the air felt just a bit fresher.

Elbows on windowsill I paused to enjoy it. I could still smell a faint hint of chlorine from the pool as it rested like a mirror out back. The crickets and cicadas chirped and droned on like so many late summer evenings. But the air was different. As I waited for the dryer, I listened and listened. I couldn't discern anything new or unusual, but something had changed--perhaps in the patterns, the urgency--maybe the laziness wasn't quite as lazy as it had been yesterday. It was so subtle that I couldn't put my finger on it until this morning.

As we left for the early morning school run, my son and I both shivered. It was only 60 degrees, after yesterday afternoon's 90. The overcast sky kept out the sun, the air was cool and dry, and a lone cricket sang hollowly. Only then did I understand what I had percieved last evening. This was the first taste of Fall. It would soon be time to say goodbye to Summer yet again, but now, right now is the time to cling to and fully savor each balmy day we have left before it's gone.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Very Happy Return to Sedona

On our family vacation this year, we introduced my son to one of my loves: Sedona, Arizona. Hubby took me there for the first time several years ago, and we've been wanting to return since then. The people we met were all very friendly, and the whole area has an open, relaxed atmosphere. Sedona's first white settlers came in 1876, and the town was officially named (after the shopkeeper's wife) and granted a post office in 1902. So, compared to much history "back east," Sedona's pretty new. In the late 1950's, spiritualists and "hippies" came to Sedona, drawn by spiritual "vortexes" (energy centers) they found in the red rocks. Now, the place is full of "new age" spiritualists and has a very relaxed feel.

Although the area has grown up a lot since we last visited, much remained the same. This time, though, in search of adventure (teenager, remember), we booked an "Extreme" Hummer tour through the mountain trails. It was fun and scary for me--here's a picture of one of the so-called-roads we first came down, then went up. (You cannot get the full idea from the picture, but it was just barely wide enough for the hummer, with a cliff-like drop off just past the trees, and the darker step-like rocks are about 14-16 inchs high each.) The teenager had a fantastic time. Both of them.

Hummer dude also took us on a tour of the named rocks. Here's Snoopy Rock (he's lying just to the right of the big squarish formation.)

We also biked in the red rocks. The still-great Bike and Bean, , still at the edge of Oak Creek, hooked us up with the perfect bikes, helmets and water, and off we went. It was darn hot, even at 9 a.m., but once my son and I discovered the exhilaration of racing down the last half mile of trail, "catching air" over moguls, riding willy-nilly over gravel and loose rocks--it was addictive. We rode back up 2 more times just to fly down. I honestly felt like a kid again. My son even called me an adrenaline junkie. Here are some pics from the farthest point in our ride...up close to the rocks.

In the foreground is part of the trail we rode; in the distance (if you click and enlarge it you might be able to see it) is the cathedral of the rocks--a Catholic church built right into the red rocks.

We had a great time tubing on the Verde River (no pictures, too wet...whose idea was it to provide us with super soakers???), and saw free range cattle along the road. We also went up to the airport, which is on top of a huge mesa, to watch the sunset and look out over Sedona. It's become quite popular, judging by the crowds that were there. On our last trip, it was very quiet and peaceful. These photos are of Sedona in the valley, encircled by the red rocks.

We had great meals--Picazzo Pizza really excelled--both in their huge salads and delicious, gourmet (or plain, for the boy) pizzas. Really good. A world away from your everyday pizza joint. It was such a pleasure being back in Sedona!

I mentioned in another post that I did a good job spraining my ankle one morning while on a power walk in Sedona. Here's the rest of the story. I was out around 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday, doing my exercising around several residential blocks behind our hotel. In a second's inattention, I planted my foot at the edge of the pavement, which was maybe 3" higher than the adjacent gravel. I'd have fallen, except for extreme hopping ability, spurred on in part by all of the cactuses growing along the roadside. (A five-hop recovery: pretty impressive.)

In the next few minutes, as I tried to determine how badly I was hurt, an angel in an Acura stopped to ask if I was ok. I gave her a typical east-coast "Oh, I'm fine," but she was too nice for that. "But you're obviously hurt--I live right here--let me give you a ride home." She assured me it was no trouble, and I accepted her generosity. Three blocks later, she pulled right up to the base of the stairway to our room. I thanked her of course, and she refused praise, but her kindness so touched me--I was so far from home, a visitor knowing no one--and she, a complete stranger, completely unbidden, was willing to lend a helping hand. There are still good people in the world. Wow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Origami Diversion

Sometimes I need to do something different. It refreshes me to use my mind in a different way! Then, when they're done, they make nice little gifts for friends.





Trio of Cranes

Doing origami also reminds me of my "little" brother (which I persist in calling him despite the fact that he's at least 6" taller than me), who has been an origami expert for years. One time, when I visited him while I was on a business trip, he made me a phenomenal origami bird with fluttery wings. I still have it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Interesting Choice

Well. I couldn't tolerate the side effects of the Norvasc at 10 mg so I called and told the cardiology nurse. She relayed it to a partner of my doc, who directed me to go back to 5 mg. Interesting choice. Not what I expected, since I gave them my history in detail, (I did 2 weeks on 5 mg; it wasn't enough...) and my doc told me he was leaving instructions for "medication choice B" in my chart for his vacation coverage--which I also relayed to them. But I reduced it last night, and today my diastolic is up to 101 again. Interesting choice. I'm supposed to report in on Monday (which I will do sooner if I don't like my numbers) when my doc is back.

An echocardiogram is pretty easy, if you don't mind someone pressing a hard plastic transducer into (probably in between, actually) your rib bones very firmly for half an hour. And that goopy gel all over. I though I might end up with a bruise, but I didn't. My little heart valves all look very nice--that's all you can really tell while lying on your side with your head twisted back over your opposite shoulder to see the screen 4 feet away! (Of course I watched the whole thing.) My tech was really very nice, but she wouldn't tell me any measurements at all. 'Course not. It's only the ones I used to work with for 10 years at my old hospital who would do that! Without the numbers, I know nothing, so now I wait again.

Perhaps because of the uncertainty of the above, I went into another Scheduling Frenzy yesterday. From time to time, I get to the point where I absolutely must have everything on my calendar. Perhaps it's the way we live (or is it universal?), but hubby, teenage alien and I tend to talk about doing this or that--what we need or would like to do--invitations we receive, plans--and after a while they all seem to be floating out there, but nothing has actually been set. Yesterday, per pre-arranged telephone appointment (yes, our schedules are that bad), hubby and I did calendaring through the end of October. I feel so much better!! We have "the plan." I don't think we have one free weekend throughout that time, but that's another story. At least I know that we've scheduled the things we want to do so we don't miss them. I'm looking forward to a fun fall!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Healthcare "Debate"

The "healthcare debate" in the U.S. is unbelievable to me. Having worked with sick and injured people for a good portion of my adult life, I've seen so many who have suffered needlessly and foregone appropriate, necessary medical care because they simply didn't have access to care. They respected the "system" and understood that, without "cash money," (or any realistic ability to obtain money to pay for care), they were not entitled to healthcare under our system.

This evening I heard an interview on Fresh Air with T. R. Reid, an international correspondent for the Washington Post, who has researched and personally experienced the heathcare systems of numerous countries. I would highly recommend everyone listen to this interview, from August 24, 2009, to learn a bit about how other developed countries provide healthcare coverage for everyone, while actually spending a much smaller percentage of their GDP on healthcare than the U.S.

If you can't listen to the interview, here is one of his recent articles from the Washington Post on the subject: (you may need to "sign up" with WP to view it, but it's quick, simple, and FREE, so why not?)

There are SO many problems with the health care system in the U.S.! I think the first, and biggest, problem is that we do not believe a basic ethical principle that nearly all developed nations believe: every human being has the right to basic health care, and that rich countries have a moral obligation to provide healthcare for everyone.

This nation was founded on principles of equality (laying aside the women and slavery issues), and it seems to fly in the face of this principle that only those of means, or noble birth, or certain positions, get to have access to necessary health care to lead decent lives!! This is not what our founding fathers would have seen as equality, I dare to venture.

I really hope that we get past whatever this supposed "debate" is really about, and get on with programs that move in the direction of eliminating the health care access gap among U.S. citizens--and that the people of this country recognize that access to basic health care is a fundamental human right.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

They Like Him!

I was noticing that I hadn't written anything recently which qualified for the heading "Happy Things" and that's not how I want to be. There are so many things I am happy about!

Here's just one. This past summer, I gave my alien teenager many options for how to spend his time. Working with dogs and cats at the SPCA, for one, and several other options. He seemed absolutely unmotivated and unwilling to try anything at all. After a few days of him lying around, I informed him that he was going to be working with me. There are always things to do around an office, and I alone had enough to keep him busy for at least the first day.

After some weak protests, he very soon became comfortable at my office, and worked in the mail room and helped others with basic tasks. When he went to his dad's for a week, at least a dozen people would ask me where he was. They liked having him around. The final proof of success came this week, though, when I had a hearing in court one morning and offered to return home to pick him up for work. He could have said no thanks, but instead was very anxious to get back to the office, and when I pulled up to the house, he was totally ready to go (not the norm for this teenager). And, when he had the option to go in for a half day on Friday or not, I didn't even have to ask him because I heard him tell others that he would definitely be in on Friday--even if mom wasn't!

Friday was his last day at the office before he returned to high school. I was playing "catch-up" due to the shortened workday for us, but my son was used to walking a couple of blocks by himself to get a sandwich for lunch--in fact, he really enjoyed the independence--so he picked up lunch for both of us and brought it back. A little bit later, he texted me that he was "going out again"--not unusual, no problem.

Before I next saw the kid, one of the secretaries stopped by my office to tell me what a great young man he is, such a gentleman, so mature and well-spoken. Then the HR director passed me in the hall and complimented him again--he's so friendly, and so nice and outgoing, but not rambunctious--(her son is 4 years younger.) And our receptionist just gushed that he is such a delight, and "such a cutie!!" One mentioned that he had joined them for lunch, but I just thought they ate in the kitchen together.

On our way home I learned that 5 or 6 (you don't want to question too closely) women from our office had gone out to a nearby diner for lunch and had invited him to come along, and even though he had already eaten his sandwich, he went along with them, had a soda, and had apparently charmed them all! (It's ok with me that my son is more popular at the office than I am. I've never been into popularity contests. ;-))

Every time I think of my boy, I get a warm glow in my heart, and it's just so nice to know that he really is a sweetheart--to know that I'm not just completely taken in by the fact that he's my son. I've always thought he was someone very special, and it's just such a happy thing to know that so many other people--who wouldn't have to say a word about it--think so too!

Friday, August 21, 2009


We have all made mistakes. We all know we will make more. But when I began realizing what the biggest mistake of my life was, it was far too late.

It's hard to go back to the beginning and fully acknowledge where that mistake actually began, but I've looked that direction before, and I know my error. I married at age 19, instead of taking a college scholarship 8 hours away by car. He was out of college. I believed he loved me, but later figured out that he only loved how he looked in my eyes. I was too young, too needy, too abused to know what actual love was. We spent 16 years together, and God gave us a beautiful, perfect son.

But we had 5 horrible years, and then it got worse. When I learned that certain other much younger women had been giving him that reflection of himself that he needed, something ended. I no longer believed that he loved me or really ever had, and I still think I'm right about that.

Since 2000, we've been apart, but only for the first year was I free of his hatefulness. During that first year, he just drank and left us alone. I called him about seeing his little boy, but he rarely showed up. I was so relieved that I didn't have to deal with him--such a weight was off my shoulders. Then began a campaign which has gone on for 8 years. Such was his need to be the "good" one while I was the "evil" one in the divorce, everything became about how I was only out for myself, while he was all about our son's "best interests."

It actually still goes on today. I just recently got an email from him objecting to the "emotional distress" he accuses me of causing my son--and many more baseless accusations--founded on absolutely no truth whatsoever, and all couched in terms of him just being concerned for the boy, all prefaced with fake pleasantries, as though he's really a friend. He either believes that I am a despicable mother (and stupid), who lives to torture her son, or he has a need to portray me this way, to absolve himself of his role in our breakup.

His second custody filing trying to get my son away from me resulted in a full psychiatric evaluation: he was diagnosed as "narcissistic" with significant control issues, and was found to be using our son for his own ends. I was "normal." After we settled in early 2008 with yet another nearly 50-50 agreement, my ex told our son that the "evaluation" came back with the recommendation that our son spend 100% of his time with my ex...but out of the "goodness of his heart," my ex allowed me to spend time with my son...when that statement could not be further than the truth.

I ignore his insulting emails as much as possible, since I've seen so many of them--I've really tried to let them roll off my back. But this time he's trying to implicate the "mediation" provision of the order, requiring a response. Of course, he has already decided that his demands are in our son's "best interests," and whatever I have to say is wrong or bad. Nothing new there--it's precisely the same pattern as the last 8 years.

So, that's my gravest mistake. I never thought it would stay with me for so long after the divorce and his remarriage. It was not a mistake to have my son, he's the most precious thing in my life. But oh, how I wish I had been older, wiser, more mature, more confident.... But since that's all long past, I just need to move forward. Usually I'm unwavering on that path, but some days it's hard. Some days I feel like I'm being dragged back into that place. Heaven help me.

BMI Check

I've missed a couple of days posting for a combination of reasons--a work assignment I had to finish, guests for dinner last night, feeling "weird" from (I think) the BP med.

Not much new on the BP front; it is slowly coming down, but still not all the way there. I have a weird foggy-headed/spacey feeling which I am guessing is from the med (and/or my change in BP) but no cankles yet. Plus, every afternoon around 4:30, I can barely stay awake. What's that about? My echo is on Monday, and I'd be lying through my teeth if I said I wasn't worried about it. But, I'm trying to keep from obsessing about it until I know whether there's a real problem with my heart. The potential super sucks, but I'm going to avoid thinking about that for as long as possible. On a great note (in my opinion, obviously) I've lost 2-3 lbs. so far, depending upon which point in my normal fluctuation you measure it. I'm taking that as a win, and looking for the next lower number on the scale to appear.

I used one of the many free BMI calculators on-line, and found that I "only" need to lose 14 lbs. to be back in the "healthy weight" zone based on BMI. Here's one, in case you want to try it. So far, I've only cut back on indulgences, kept up the healthy food choices, and (per the cardiologist's order) kept exercising. I've added to my walks at lunch and now go for 45-50 minutes 3-4 days per week, with Jazzercise on Saturdays. Once my schedule at work levels off, I fully intend to walk every day I'm not in court. It's been a challenge recently because all week it has been 90 degrees with high humidity at lunch--the heat index has been 98-101--but I'm out there. I'm committing to a positive attitude, with positive change as a result!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rafting the Colorado

We went rafting on the Colorado River through the western Grand Canyon. It was the only one-day rafting adventure to be found, and it was definitely an adventure. It's run by the Hualapai Nation, (said 'wal-a-pie') and almost all of us who went on the trip stayed at the Lodge, on the Hualapai Lands. The signs read "Hualipai Reservation" as we entered, but the pride and reverence with which Cole, our guide/raft captain, said "our lands" each and every time he spoke of his home made me realize his connection with his lands. It was never "the reservation" or anything less than "our lands."

But I digress. From the Lodge, we filled two school busses and rode about an hour down through a side canyon to the Colorado. It was only then that I realized that when the website cautioned that "the road" might be washed out in a rainstorm, they weren't kidding--because great portions of "the road" were actually the bottom of the (usually dry) creek bed which, when running, fed the Colorado. We had had a pretty good storm, and several times the Hualapai woman driving the bus stopped and eased her way through streams and over washes.

By about 10 a.m. we had reached the river. I had read that the microclimate of the depths of the Canyon was true desert, and this we found. It was oppressively hot; we were told 118 degrees F. The Hualipai men worked very hard in that heat to ready the boats, including carrying big outboard motors by hand from a truck to the rafts.
It was my first time rafting in rapids, and I have never claimed to be a "water" person. My goals were to (1) stay in the raft, (2) not get hurt. As we set out our guide added another goal: don't lose my hat (apparently it happens all the time.) The sun was beating down so hard I knew I'd never make it without my hat.
We started into the first rapid. It's a lot like riding a bouncy roller coaster while a giant throws full buckets of ice cold water right at you. Literally. We were in the back of the "U" seating, facing directly into the waves as they hit. I quickly figured out a routine as we went into each rapid: check hat, apply deathgrip to the edge of the seat, watch first wave launch into the air toward me, then tuck chin vigerously and scream at the top of my lungs as the bucket of water hits.
We stopped a few times for various reasons--which were the only times I could take pictures until very late in the trip when we were past the rapids. It was awesome to see the canyon walls rise straight up from the water at some places, while at other places there were soil deposits with grasses, shrubs and trees.

What was supposed to be 5 hours of rafting turned into 9 hours when we arrived at the helicopter pick-up site and learned that it was TOO HOT for the helicopter to fly! "Option B" was to continue rafting the Colorado until we arrived at Lake Meade, where the crew normally takes the rafts out. We arrived there at 7:30 p.m. and rode back two hours to the Lodge via bus.

The extra rafting time was unexpected but interesting; it contained several more rough rapids, but lots of flat water riding in the glaring sun. Most of the boat went for a swim in the Colorado to cool off--including my son--but I was pretty sure my sprained ankle would make getting back in a big problem, so I stayed aboard.

We were absolutely exhausted by the end of the day, but SO glad we went. It was an experience never to forget.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy Monday!

Back to work Monday. I can't say it was a very happy Monday, but it was an ok day. I have a friend that sends out messages regularly with subjects like "Happy Monday!" (or any day of the week.) It's a bit "off" to put it that way, since "Happy ___" usually goes with holidays--"Happy Easter!" "Happy New Year!" or "Happy Hanukkah!"--not with days we are fond to dread. Maybe she's being ironic? Or more likely, she's just hopeful.

Well, not too much news (no swollen ankles yet but not much response to the BP medicine either), so I'm going to just show you a picture of my pretty girl cat, Frankie. (She was named after "old blue eyes" Frank Sinatra, mostly.) It's not easy to get good cat pictures because they normally get right up and come investigate the camera, but Frankie was just settling in for a nap when I took this one.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Animals Make Us Human

by Temple Grandin

I chose this book after hearing an interview of the author

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cardiology? Me?

I went in for a cardiology consult yesterday as my internist/pulmonologist wanted. It's still hard for me to fathom that I would need a cardiologist. Working in ICU's, I used to treat all of those poor unhealthy souls who had heart problems...but I worked out, ate right, and made it a point to be healthy.

They did an EKG right there, which was fine. They printed me a copy of my labwork which (if I do say so myself) was spectacular. Cholesterol, fantastic. Triglycerides, great. HDL, LDL, VLDL all in delightful balance and where they should be. Blood sugar, electrolytes, proteins, all normal. Kidney function, good. Thyroid studies, normal. (Although I was kind of hoping the hypertension was endocrine related, because that's something that can be fixed.) Blood pressure: still high.

He doubled my medication and expects me to get swollen ankles...but maybe not, we'll see. If I suddenly grow cankles, he has a plan for that. (Which is good, because I do have decent ankles.) I'm getting an echocardiogram done in 2 weeks (something I've seen so many times but never thought I'd ever be getting myself.) A piece of good news: people do just suddenly get hypertension without something else being horribly wrong, and it can be as sudden as 5 months ago it was 120/82 and then it's 128/100, no other explanation. I asked him point blank about the diastolic dysfunction, but he just told me that the echo would tell us if anything's really wrong there. No false reassurances (darn), but I picked this guy because I know he's good and straightforward.

So, next step: see if BP comes down on double the dose, monitor blood pressure, keep positive attitude. And, direct order from cardiologist: KEEP EXERCISING! Good advice for almost everyone, don't you think?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Just Act Normal

We are busy. Hubby and I have demanding jobs--demanding both mentally and of our time. We are fairly recently married and still have both of our houses....which are an hour drive apart...which we try to keep up. We have the usual social things we do as well, the teenager, and the cats. All of this explanation is just laying the basis and forming the excuse for my next statement: the houses are a MESS! (or 'the houses are messes' I guess, to be grammatically correct.) It takes all of our time to just cook meals and have clean clothes and dishes from time to time, so the vacuuming and dusting fall by the wayside.

This weekend, my sister and her family are coming to visit, and by whatever stroke of "luck," they are spending one night at one house and the second night at the other house. I had no time to take off work to clean--and we just had the contractors finish up some work at my house last week, so all of our time this past weekend was spent putting several rooms back together and cleaning construction mess. So, we did a rare splurge and brought in a maid service to clean his house.

We got home from work last night and I was absolutely giddy. I went from room to room looking at where dust bunnies and cat hair used to predominate, and it was so CLEAN! All of the kitchen counters were shiny! I ran up to the bedrooms where the maids had changed and made the beds up! All of the bathrooms were sparkling!!!

I came downstairs to where hubby was watching baseball on TV and literally skipped through the room singing "It's so clean! It's so clean!! It's so clean!!"

He turns his eyes my way. "You know, when your sister gets here tomorrow you need to act like this is normal."

Yes honey, I'll try.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

When Life Strikes

Whew. I just learned something about a colleague and friend, and then talked to him about it. My heart now aches.

My friend is a young man, a paralegal, law student, husband and father. Most of our talks had been about lawyering--the techniques he was learning, books on the law, the challenge of the logical argument and jury persuasion. His enthusiasm for the law was palpable. His eyes sparked with intensity when he talked about being a trial lawyer. Not just any kind of lawyer, a trial lawyer. I don't really know why he talked to me, except that I try cases, and I listened. I was happy for his enthusiasm, his passion for the law (which so many lawyers lose.) He was excited that he was about to join "us," the members of this small and civil bar, here in this close-knit jurisdiction. I was happy for him, and I knew he'd fit right in.

Today, by chance, I brought in a book I though he might be able to use for bar prep, and eMailed him to stop by. I hadn't spoken to him for a few weeks, but I thought it was just vacation schedules, end of his semester at school, etc. I learned that next week he will be moving back to his wife's home town and her parents' home, more than half way across the country, due to her severe medical problems. He's decided to leave his friends and employment here so his new, small family can survive with help from in-laws in another state. He'll have to look for another job in this over-stressed economy, in a place which isn't exactly booming. All of his former plans were crushed, and he was no longer light and enthusiastic. His sadness and disappointment were barely below the surface, and the spark of enthusiasm was gone.

We talked a little about his plans, and how he and his wife were going to manage. I encouraged him as best I could, while not parting from reality. But more importantly, I needed to find out if that spark was gone. Could it just be extinguished by a harsh blow of reality, changed circumstances, dashed dreams? We talked a bit about what he wanted to do as a lawyer--wherever he might be living. Despite all that had happened, the spark was still there. We talked about how good it is to be able to help people, and about the complex competetiveness of the law; the satisfaction and happiness it could bring. Thankfully, his spark was tempered a bit by circumstances, but not out.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Koi vs. Heron: a.k.a. Life in the Pond

Have I mentioned the pond? Hubby, sweetheart that he is, liked the idea of a pond, but not the round, Roman-bath-style (rather out of place, really) pond which came with the house. He naturally wanted to improve on the idea. So, now we have a pond which covers an entire third of the unwooded part of the backyard. He admits to grandiosity creep on any number of levels, and this pond is truly grand. I, of course, turn it into a gardening experience, and play with the waterlillies, water hyacinths, and iris.

Then there are the fish. When hubby moved into the house, there were several nice sized Koi in the Roman bath, along with numerous small orange, white, and black fish. However, there is this great blue heron who considers our pond to be his own personal buffet. We lost two of the beautiful Koi we started with, along with many of the smaller fish, regardless of the various and creative ways we attempted to keep the heron away from the pond. (I will note we have not yet tried a shotgun, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about it. It's the darn federal fines and potential prison sentence that keeps us hesitating.)

Funny thing is, after we finished the pond, people now give us fish. One such fish giver was an elderly lady who couldn't take care of hers anymore, and somehow convinced my brother-in-law to first ask us if we'd take them, and then to transport her "few fish" to our pond. We were away for the weekend when the fish came to our house. We got back and our new pond looked like a fish stadium during a sell-out game. Hubby called his brother, and we learned that we had just acquired 44--count 'em, forty four new fish. (Our fish count before the new additions was already in the mid-30's.) There were two Koi and the rest were fat orange goldfish.

I eMailed a plea for help to my office to try to get anyone to take some, but no one could. We worried about the filtration system, adequate oxygenation, overpopulation, the price of fish food.... One thing we did not think about was the heron. All that natural selection "survival of the fittest" stuff must be true, because over the next several weeks, most of the really fat, apparently slow, bright orange goldfish disappeared, courtesy of the dreaded heron. Sorry for the fish, but I guess things work out for the best in the end. Now all we have to do is convince the heron that the buffet is closed!

Quick Update on Health

I wish I could say that my blood pressure had come down nicely on its own--or even that the new medication had started working. However, there's been no real change yet. I've taken the norvasc religiously (it's only the 4th day though) and still diastolics in the high 90's. I've even managed to get back walking on my ankle (did I mention that I did a fantastic job of spraining it in Sedona, which will be 2 weeks ago tomorrow, and that it still hurts quite a bit? I guess I didn't mention that yet.) And, that I've even started to lose a little weight--ok, a really little so far, but I've started, and that's what counts (or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

I'm practicing patience. I've iced my ankle as ordered, (in fact I'm icing it now), had my bloodwork drawn, got my allergy shots, and I'm walking as much as I can. I'm taking meds as ordered, and I'm just going to have faith that it'll all come together soon. I'm going to keep it positive!!

The Grand Canyon

We've been back for a week, so it's high time I said something about the glorious Grand Canyon. I was told you have to see it to believe it, and now I agree.

We drove up from Flagstaff and our first view of the Canyon was from Desert Point on the South Rim. It was a boiling hot late July day, and the haze softened the distant canyons. In the first picture, the tiny-looking stream is the Colorado River. (click photo to enlarge) When you see the vastness of the Grand Canyon and the side canyons coming in, it's mindboggling to think that all of it was created by flowing water over the course of 6 million years. This wonder is 277 miles long (that's further than from New York to Washington D.C.!) and 18 miles wide at some points, and averages 4000 ft. but reaches up to 6000 ft. deep in some places.

The colors were magnificent! The burgundy and purples blended into the terra cotta colors as far as you could see. I don't think the pictures really do the colors justice because of the haze. But the real problem with the pictures is that you lose all sense of perspective. Each of the plateaus that looks like it has some green moss-like growth on it is actually covered with trees and medium sized shrubs, and the cliffs on the far side are actually MILES away. In the second picture, the elongated greenish outcropping on the left actually has one of the hiking trails going down the middle of it. In this photo you can only see it if you click and enlarge it to whole screen size, and if there were people on the trail, they would probably be too far away to even see.

We continued on the Desert View Drive and stopped in at the other view points: Navajo Point, Lipan Point, Moran Point, Grandview Point...I think that's as far as we got since it was getting late and we had quite a drive to our hotel.

On the way out of the Grand Canyon National Park, we saw two Elk munching some greens along the side of the road. They were beautiful, fantastic animals; a rare tawny brown, and the male had the beginnings (about 18") of a nice rack in velvet, which he held proudly erect.

We also saw a falcon or hawk in an airborne battle with a crow or blackbird (they were too far away to really see) while looking out over the Canyon. I looked hard for the endangered California Condors, but I think they're in another area of the park so we didn't see any. Also for me, seeing the new and strange flora such as yuccas 12-15 ft high was really cool.

In case you're interested in more information, the National Parks Service has a wonderfully informative website that gives practically all of the information you could want to know about the Canyon, including maps, info about the Condors, plant life and ecosystems, and how a cougar died of the plague in 2007! The NPS is here:

I was thrilled to finally see the Grand Canyon, and even more so to raft on the Colorado River through the Canyon for a day (more on that in another post).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Under the Tuscan Sun

by Frances Mayes

First it must be said: There is a movie with this same name, however, the only similarity between the movie and the book is

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another Blow

I went to my doctor today. In mid-July, my allergist noted my BP was high--I've been watching it closely and it's still high. She was suitably impressed; she put me on a medication and she wants me to see a cardiologist! I never ever thought I'd be seeing a cardiologist, I was always working with them, and I used to exercise a lot, and was very fit. In the past 2 years I've gained weight, but I still exercise pretty regularly. I thought I was doing pretty well--but I have had this thing where as soon as I start exercising my heartrate pops up to a very high rate. Doc said she was thinking along the lines of diastolic dysfunction. Something's not quite right I guess.

So, I will start the ace inhibitor and see what happens; I have a cardiologist in mind and I'll get an appointment I guess, after my bloodwork is done. Bloodwork tomorrow morning as long as I remember to keep fasting.

Sorry this post was so boring; I'm just a bit out of it. BP was 134/105 when I got home this evening, blame that.

A Walk in the Woods

by Bill Bryson

This book attracted me because it promised tales of nature and exploration and a great adventure

Monday, August 3, 2009


by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter

Dewey is the story of a tiny kitten who is abandoned in the library book return in Spencer, Iowa on a frigid January night.