Saturday, November 28, 2009

slow recovery

I've been slowly getting the house back together after the Thanksgiving debauchery. Nothing is getting done fast and I've intended since Thursday night to run the Swiffer over the kitchen floor. Still not done. Regis fed the dog too much turkey (apparently the ham bone incident has faded from his memory) and we had unfortunate event of dog intestinal distress. Those, believe me, are all the details you want.

I went for a long walk outdoors this morning instead of going to the clear my head of cobwebs. There was a gentle breeze and the air was brisk so it helped.

A year ago, I never thought I would say that I enjoyed exercise. Never having done it, except for short periods of time in my life, I was not going to be convinced that this would ever be fun. In fact, I used that as a justification for not starting: I’m not the kind of person who will like it, so I might as well not start.

If you've been a reader here for a while, you might remember when Regis and I decided to join the 500 miles in a year group through our community education program. We made it through October but figured out quickly that if we missed a day or two, we were screwed. The math of 500 miles in 365 days was against us.

Regis was a vigorous and regular walker for a while. I joined him occasionally but I usually dragged behind and complained. He was a goal-oriented and rapid walker, I was an ambling sight-seer. It didn’t work.

In preparation for my surgery, last August, I started plodding around the block and down the street. I dreaded it and it exhausted me. We tried riding bikes together but the same thing happened as did with walking. I liked to pedal slowly down the street and Regis liked to push further and faster.

Through the winter, I went swimming with a friend four or five times a week. We didn’t join the folks at the high school pool who wore goggles and swam with their faces in the water. We went to the little hotel pool where it was warm and dark and smelled like waffles. We paddled back and forth for an hour, talking and laughing, and rarely getting our hair wet.

An interesting thing happened. Even though I got up at 4:30 to be in the water early and many days it was icy and frigid outside, I started to feel good about what I was doing. Even though I enjoyed the early morning conversations in that pleasant setting, I can’t say I was enjoying the exercise yet, but I did enjoy having done it.

I joined the Pulse in June and started working out with Rachel once a week. She worked me hard for thirty minutes then I did the cardio part on my own. It was difficult and I dreaded it, but gradually I felt better and it wasn’t so hard and I started to think of myself as a person who exercises. Me. An active person who exercises. A person who works out.

Now when I work out, I remember how to breathe. I can plan which exercises to work different parts of my body. I know what abs and biceps and triceps are. Things that are difficult to do this week, like the lunges, I know will be easier next week.

In October, I walked a 5K Halloween Fun Run with my friend, Joanne. We walked fast, ran a little, and finished with a time right around 16 minutes/mile. Since then, I have been fascinated not only with my time, but with the email I was sent telling me where I finished overall and in my age group, and with the possibility of doing this again. I watch people run on the treadmills and outside, playing with the possibility of running myself.

I sent in my registration for the Jingle Bell Jam in New Ulm, a 4-mile fun run and walk. That’s quite a marketing genius who came up with that phrase: fun run! I’m looking forward to the training for walking that far and to maybe running a little. Imagine it. I’m amazed. It’s part of the miracle.

In spite of dire predictions from my friends, I have started running. Rachel was excited about it (a convert!) and set me up with a training schedule that includes running only about 8 minutes out of 30 for now. Surprisingly, my shoulders are the only thing that hurts. I can't figure that one out. I haven't fallen down or ruined my joints. Regis has shown me a couple funny videos on Youtube that show running people toppling ass over teakettle. Very amusing.

My goal with running is only to work hard enough to sweat in less than 30 minutes. I felt like I couldn't walk fast enough to do that and was getting tired of trying to go further all the time. I just want to go faster. I registered for the Jingle Bell Jam in New Ulm on December 12th, my second fun run/walk. It starts at 4 in the afternoon so I imagine that will be dusk. It's 4 miles and I don't know how many K that is...but I can walk 4 miles. Regis will wait for me in a warm, dark bar.

This might be a little mixed up as part of it was snatched from a message board where I write about weight loss and exercise. I get an inspired thought once in a while and I like to take advantage of it.

Now I think I'll go run that Swiffer over the kitchen floor.

Friday, November 27, 2009

reality of Thanksgiving

Things that can go wrong generally do. Alex was sick so he and Emily couldn't come. We missed them! Good thing they don't live far as Bob was able to transport food over to them at the right time for eating dinner. We had good luck in the kitchen with most things but the lefse fell apart. It felt chaotic as it was happening, but the meal was good and the aftermath was sweet. Most of the clean-up is done. I'm going to exercise this morning and having lunch with Joanne and Laurel later. My goal is a relaxing weekend. Now go back and read sentence #1!

One of the nicest moments was when Tiffany and Peter were in the kitchen making gravy and I was sitting in the chair in the dining room directing them. They were laughing and having fun together. It was fun to see.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

cooking cooking cooking

Awake at 4 a.m. As usual.
Made a peanut butter pie.
Made a pistachio salad.
Checked over the recipes for the traditional bread stuffing and the Andouille sausage stuffing.
Rolls are rising.
Had coffee. Had another cup of coffee.
Did the dishes. Many times.
Opened a Thanksgiving card from Mom.
Checked my email.
Had another cup of coffee.
Thinking about taking a nap.
Thanksgiving Parade starts at 8:00!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve

Came home after work.
Opened a bottle of sauvignon blanc.
Made a pumpkin pie.
Made cornbread.
Visited with the Young Regis who bought a house today.
Cut up all the onions and celery for the dressing.
Went to the garden and picked sage, parsley, rosemary, and thyme.
Helped Regis with the brine for the turkey.
Got the turkey into the cooler with the brine.
Cooked the giblets.
Reviewed the to-do list.
List looks good.
Poured another glass of wine.
Talked to Tiffany on the phone.
Looking forward to tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

on a mental vacation

I've let go of all the stress. I've just let it go. I'm not going to worry about the BS anymore. Life's too short and too sweet. I'm going to get done what I can get done today. I went to Patrick's for a glass of wine tonight. I stopped at the liquor store to buy wine for Thanksgiving Day and thought about a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream. There was a beautiful baby boy sleeping in my bedroom today and how I can be upset about anything when that's true. I'm glad to have my friends (sane as they are) and my family (sane as they are) and the rest will sort itself out eventually without my interference or worry.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

oh my

I can't believe it's been a week since I wrote on my blog! I used to love documenting my mundane activities here but this fall, there are a lot of things that make it happen infrequently.

My exercise routine, getting up at 4:30 and working out for 60-90 minutes in the morning, kicks my hinder. I'm not tired for the most of the day, but by the time I sit down on the couch after dinner...maybe doesn't take much for me to tip over and go to sleep. Some days I can stay about until 9, but not often. It doesn't leave much time for anything in the evenings.

I don't read much anymore either. I've been reading the same damn book for weeks. Spooner is good and the writing is entertaining and funny but I can read about five pages and I have to go to sleep. I hate to think about all the good books I'm missing.

My job is more stressful this year. Some days I go to three or more buildings and probably three or more meetings. By the end of the day, I hardly remember where I've been and what I did when I was there. I write down every phone call and make notes on all the meetings but I still miss things. Last week I missed one meeting entirely and went an hour late to another one. Scrambled marbles.

The other factor is that I got hooked on the instant gratification of facebook. So easy to jot a quick line or two as a status update and move on. I didn't have to think much or compose anything in my head...and remember it until the end of the day. Believe me...I have composed some great blog posts in my head this fall only to have them disappear into the breeze.

I have managed to get my Thanksgiving menu ready, the groceries bought, and the to-do list printed. This is my favorite part of the meal preparation. I wish we had more people coming this year....might have to beat the bushes for some unoccupied friends!

Reggie came over for dinner and we started talking about the Christmas Eve menu. Fun! I won't reveal the possibilities yet.

I made a delicious wild rice and chicken soup for dinner with corn bread. A good dinner for a late fall day. Joanne came for a mid-afternoon glass of wine but didn't stay for dinner.

Our friend, Dick, was recently diagnosed with congestive heart failure. I talked to both Jane and Dick last night...Dick sounded much stronger and more like himself than he did when we saw him this summer when he seemed pale and tired. It's discordant...having your friends diagnosed with old people diseases. Like seeing the scruffy old man at the grocery store at noon buying two shrimp rings with cocktail sauce. We hope Dick continues to recover and feel better. Discordant...interesting idea.

It was so beautiful outside today that we did some surprising things. Regis hooked up the hose and washed the outside of the house. I took our old fish tank out and washed it off on the patio. As miserable as October was, November has been wonderful.

About a month ago, we found a foster home for our last surviving fish, a loach. I found someone who was interested in the tank so now it's in a new home, too. Fish are high maintenance. I only want low maintenance pets for which our current little dog qualifies. He can't hear so he doesn't back when the door bell rings and he can't see very well so he doesn't bark when the mailman goes by.

I have to see who the next Iron Chef will be. And then on to bed. I'll do better at documenting our own imperfect lives, I promise.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday psychosis

Oh, I hate the end of a weekend. Since school started, we have hardly had any weekends with nothing to do. Not even one day... and I could tell by the archaeological dig that is my house. The late summer brown-eyed Susan flag was still up which means the Halloween flag didn't see the light of day. At least the 4th of July decorations were gone. Small favors.

A lot accomplished and we're ready for the week.

It will be a busy one. Haircut tomorrow night. AARP class Tuesday night. Night class Wednesday night.

Time for bed.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

slide show of the goings-on

i get my picture taken with the dignitaries

me with Santa

me with Tim Walz (and Gus and Hope)

me with Terry Morrow

We had a blast at the 169 Celebration today. I have more pictures to post of the festivities but these are some of my favorites. I was excited to see which dignitaries would show up for the opening but I never dreamed that Santa would be among them. In a golf cart, no less. He was happy to pose for a picture with me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

thursday already

Regis and I walked down to the highway late this afternoon to see the progress they're making on the construction. It's starting to look almost normal down there and it's a good thing. Tempers are running a little short with the detours and disappearing and appearing stop signs. To say nothing of the rapid traffic down the other residential streets that aren't designated detours. This morning a woman followed me down 4th Street and man was she in a blazing hurry right on my bumper. I slowed to 20 mph and put an end to her big deal rush. What a bag.

There is a big grand opening to foot traffic celebration on Saturday. I'm all over that since there will be state and federal dignitaries there and I want to see that! There's a beer and wine tasting at our favorite beverage store, a band at one of the establishments starting at 4:00, and pictures with Santa at Total Entertainment. It will be a happening.

I had kind of a grump going today. Maybe it's because I was in a building with no windows. That wears on a guy. Hell.

My computer is all messed up tonight. It's hard to explain what it does. Regis tries to use it and he claims it's fine. It's possessed when I take over.

I went back to Mayo on Monday for my 6-month check even though it had been 7 months since my surgery. I saw the dietitian. It's always curious because she gives me information that the doctor laughs at. She said I should be eating 130 grams of carbs a day. He laughed himself silly over that one. Then I saw the psychiatrist. She remembered me from my first appointment so it was nice to visit with her. I could have sat there a long time because I like to talk about my inner workings and she seemed interested. I suppose they don't pay her for that though so she ushered me out after about 30 minutes. Then I saw the nutrition doctor who proclaimed me a healthy person. He said I am doing a great job, my lab results were perfect, and I should keep doing what I'm doing. I'm a rock star!

I'm reading a good book called Spooner. I've been tired this fall and I can only read for about twenty minutes so it's like watching five minutes of a movie a day. I can hardly track with the plot. This is from the review: Warren Spooner is a sad sack. His mother despises him as the surviving twin from a hideously painful delivery. He's not very smart, and his one redeeming talent--baseball--is nullified by catastrophic injury. He gets into trouble, a lot. Though he manages to organize his life through marriage and a (terrible) job, the self-destructive behavior endures. Really, it's funny.

Tomorrow is Friday. My favorite day of the week. Have a nice one.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

mournng the end of summer

Regis and I spent the afternoon raking leaves and putting away the remnants of summer...the lawn chairs, the patio table, the bird bath, the lawn mower. It was a wonderful summer and a not so nice fall so we really appreciated today. If we could have days like this for a few months, winter might not be so intolerable.

I've started planning my Thanksgiving menu. This is the part of it that I love. I have a big binder full of menus and recipes from the last Thanksgivings and I look them over and decide which ones to make this year. Not like there are that many choices, you might think. My family likes the old standards: turkey and gravy, green bean casserole, bread stuffing.

I like to throw in a few new side dishes like the corn bread Andouille sausage stuffing I made two years ago and loved. That gets a repeat performance every year now. Regis made some little onion tarts one year that were a big hit. We don't stray too far off the beaten tofurkey or roasted parsnips and rutabagas.

This year, I'll make a couple changes to things so I can eat them. I have a recipe for no-sugar cranberry fluff (it's got the dreaded Cool Whip in it...) that I think I'll make. And a peanut butter pie that sounds good. If you don't have a place to go and think this sounds like a menu you could eat, let me know. We always pack a crowd in our tiny house for Thanksgiving.

I have a big pot of chili bubbling on the stove. It is such a big pot of chili that I had to dump it from one pot into another bigger pot. We like chili and we'll freeze the rest of it into serving packages with the vacuum sealer tomorrow.

On Monday, Regis and I travel to Rochester for my six month post-surgery visits. I have an appointment with a humorless dietitian, a psychiatrist who makes me nervous, and with my nutrition specialist who is a little aspergery but very nice. I feel attached to him like I did to the doctor who delivered Peter. Is that a universal thing? Regis sent an email to his heart surgeon on the tenth anniversary of his bypass so maybe it is. I'm anxious to see what my lab work reveals...if I get enough protein and calcium, etc. And it's always nice to get props for your hard work. I'll give a report on my visit when I get back.

So, that's it for the end of the week. Tomorrow we get ready to move into the next week by making an early morning visit to the HyVee. Regis has been shopping alone on Mondays since school started so I bet the guys at the meat counter think he either got divorced or I passed. They'll be glad to see me alive and kickin'!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

bloodybelly comb jelly

Is this the weirdest thing ever?

Brilliant and seemingly glowing, the bloodybelly comb jelly comes in different shades of red but always has a blood-red stomach. The sparkling display on the outside comes from light diffracting from tiny transparent, hair-like cilia. These beat continuously, propelling the jelly through the water.

This species has only recently come to the attention of scientists, thanks to images like this, supplied by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s remotely operated vehicles.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


We had several sunny days in a row even though one of them had gale force winds. Today started out bright and clear but about 2:00, the clouds moved in and it started to rain. Again. Oh, it can be difficult to get through these gloomy fall days. I came home and lit a candle, turned on World Cafe, and made meatballs. Regis made a pot of coffee and we visited while we cooked.

On my way to work this morning, I saw a woman and child get in a car, drive around the corner, and wait in a line of five other waiting cars with their motors running, for the school bus. What the. Do kids today melt when they get wet or cold? At the end of the day at the high school, the streets are full of idling cars waiting for the little prima donnas to come out and get in a warm car for the ride home. It isn't even cold yet! Here I could launch into my "I walked to school...." speech but I won't.

I'm shopping for a long goose down coat. In my lightened condition, I get cold easily (sorry...whining) and I want a warm winter coat. I'm currently looking at a Cabela's goose down coat.

The meatballs were delicious.

I go back to the Mayo Clinic on Monday. I have an appointment with the dietitian at 10:00, the psychiatrist at 2:00, and the nutrition specialist at 4:00. I'm curious about the psych appointment. I wonder what she'll want to know. I like things like that and can go on and on...thinking aloud. I have pages and pages of notes I could share but they don't really want to know all of that. They want the basics. I've done blood work and such and had it sent over there so I'll get the results that day. I'm curious about that, too. I've lost 130 pounds (about the size of some people...or a month-old horse) and I feel great.

I skated over the Halloween Fun Run but it was not an insignificant thing for me. I'm 57 years old and have never exercised regularly in my life until I started planning for WLS. Last winter, I swam every day. In June, I joined the fitness center in town. Now I can walk for 60 minutes on the treadmill, I finished a 5k (walking!), and work out with a trainer once a week.

When I was seeing the therapist before surgery, she identified one of my thinking errors as this: People who exercise love it. Since I didn't love it, I guess that let me off the hook. She told me to think about it like this instead: You might not love doing it but you can grow to love how you feel because you do it. She was right.

I don't exercise to make my pants fit better, although I enjoy that they do. At my age, I don't exercise to fit into a bikini, although I did think about a pair of tall boots as I did my walking lunges.

I exercise because I feel stronger and healthier and because it might help me live a longer and better life. It might keep me out of a nursing home! An older friend of mine shared that as she exercises she thinks these muscles will help her be independent longer. Not a bad motivation. One of my motivations for surgery was seeing lots of people my age in walkers and scooter chairs. I didn't want that for myself. I exercise because it helps me mentally. I feel better about myself having done it.

I'm thin and healthy and strong. Ah, that feels so good!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

a very busy weekend

Friday, I spent two hours in the cold rain, taking Tiffany to get her oil changed and her tabs renewed on her car. Tote a baby along and you have some real errands. She headed over to her dad's about 5.

Saturday morning, Joanne and I did the 5k fun run in St. Peter. This involved leaving the house at 8:00 and not getting back until about 11:00. I needed a long, warm bath after that adventure.

Tiffany arrived about noon with Elliot. We baked brownies and went to the grocery store and played with Elliot until we went to Tom and Betty's at 4:00. We partied and danced and ate and had a great time until we went trick or treating (see photos). We came home at 9:00 and I went to bed shortly after that.

We got up this morning and went to breakfast at Patrick's. When we came home, I put a roast on for dinner, peeled carrots and potatoes, and took Elliot for a long walk.

Tiffany and I had a wonderful time. We had some time to relax and visit about school and about other things in between our business. I'm exhausted but all in all, it was a grand birthday weekend.

This is a video of Elliot. I wanted him to do a different trick for the camera, but what he did was crawl over to the couch and starting eating the tassels on the sofa pillows. It was hilarious.

Fun Run Results

443   22 W50  Joanne Smith, 51, Le Sueur, MN             46:54.0   15:06  Pulsators          
444 23 W50 Teresa Saum, 57, St. Peter, MN 46:57.6 15:07 Pulsators

Joanne and I finished 443 and 444 (in the over 50 group) in the Fun Run yesterday.
That's out of 700 some.


We had a great time on Halloween night! We all went trick or treating (leaving some folks at Tom and Betty's to hand out candy there. Good food, good music, lots of laughs. Great fun.

More Halloween pictures here!