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DRAFT TODAY, POST TOMORROW: Some posts may be in draft status until I (aka procrastinator extraordinaire) get around to posting them.



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dentist

I went to the dentist to get the temporary crown off and the "real" crown on.  For some reason, they did that and then moved me to a different room to have the rest of the work done.  I'm not really sure they were going to do it--it almost seemed like they did one of those, hmm, that's an idea, when I asked if they were doing one or both sides.  So they did the filling on the new cavity on the right side and then replaced the silver filling on the left side.

It feels like part of my face is missing.  The part in the front, below my nose and mouth.  Mmm, mashed potatoes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

And someday, a garden.

***I just watched three episodes of Yard Crashers.  Tips I picked up (beside DIY network is letting my know that I cannot DIY) were: use a soil conditioner for clay and a pebbletec-like surface over concrete can look beachy.  They tiled an outdoor grill and used a mosaic tile for a backsplash and I thought that fits in our plan.  And my friend will probably work with me to DIY--that's as close as I'll get to DIY is helping someone else!

***I know that bugs have to be, but I just don't like to see them.  In my house.  Some flowers have pest control tendencies.

***Is it really free if you pay $6.95 for shipping?  Well, not in my opinion, but that's a pretty good price for a plant delivered to your house, with proceeds of other sales going to the Nature Conservancy.  I could use a bamboo (current month's "freebie") plant in the pot I just bought at Smarty Pants consignment shop.

***I know Illinois and Phoenix do not have the same gardening challenges, but I may be in love with The Casual Gardener, author of Gardening Nude.  The first thing I saw was this amazing pop of color in the garden; then I noticed the square foot gardens on both sides of the amazing purple arbor, and then the flagstone walkway edged by rocks in the back.  (Yeah, not a fan of the wine bottle edging, but I get it.)  Then I saw the flagstone bench and I thought about how much I loved the flagstone at our old house--I'm not sure what we'll end up using for the new yard--wait and see.  Other coolness: how to get rid of earwigs, tough plants to kill (drought tolerant, but all I heard was "tough to kill"), the cutest chicken coop ever, and how to maintain garden tools.  The pool picture shows flagstone topped and edged by concrete, it appears--love it.  This picture makes me think of the sloped areas in our yard going into our retention basin from the block walls--maybe I can plant (groundcover?) on them rather than covering them in "just" rock.  LOVE this blue bench--how do I get one, where do I put it, how do I keep it from falling apart in the heat!  And more garden blogs to look through.  I'm looking for gardeners in the Phoenix area--where are you?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Are we healthy yet?

***In Frankfurt, researchers send a clear message to neurologists:  in view of the impressive improvements treated patients have experienced, we consider it unethical to withhold this treatment from those patients who are aware of and willing to accept its experimental nature.  CCSVI treatments for MS patients are showing improvement in general and sensory symptoms.  Fatigue does not seem to be affected.  Most cases had no complications.

***My friend sent a link to an interview with Dr. Terry Wahls, a woman with MS who believes the solution to our chronic diseases is in the biology of life--through diet rather than medicine.  It is lengthy but I finally listened to it. Her story is one of disabling and progressing MS, turned around through a diet of essentially 9 servings of vegetables daily.  She has a book, Minding the Mitochondria, with recipes.  She has her students practice the diet for 2 weeks and they love it.  She recommends trying at least a dairy and gluten-free diet for 2 weeks, then have a gluten meal.  For the ambitious, the diet has no grains or legumes.  It is essentially a Paleo diet.

***I was contacted because I commented in a LinkedIn group that I try to avoid artificial sweeteners but I include xylitol (not considered artificial) because I don't feel it is "real" and the side effects (see xylitol and dogs) are undesirable.  The person who contacted me was from France, and he felt I was being unfair to xylitol--but he said he had a conflict of interest.  After explaining that I have MS and am still making decisions about what is right for me, he responded that his brother has MS and also avoids xylitol!  He says his brother follows a "hypotoxic diet as defined by Dr. Seignalet."  Most of the information online is in French; however, since it is so close to the Paleo diet, I found that foods allowed include raw or moderately cooked meats and eggs as well as soy and alcoholic beverages.  Forbidden foods include most grains and cereals, dairy, chocolate, and beer.  The summary: it's a paleo diet including raw meat.  I don't eat raw meat or eggs due to my drug trial.  I don't think this will work for me.

***I think that this study says that vegetarian diets contain higher levels of soy.  These higher levels of soy, even a few weeks of supplementation, improves cardiac function but increases incidents of hypothyroidism.  So, let's see if I got this right--I should give up dairy, but I also can't have soy.  WTH.

***Big Pharma does some good research--I guess.  I know they are trying to make a profit but some of their tactics seem underhanded.  It's a long article, so I admit I only skimmed it.  Just enough to piss me off.  Done.

***I obviously spend too much time online reading about anything and everything MS related.  I just found out that I am an e-patient!  (Watch e-patient Dave; it's totally worth your time if you have been or ever will be a patient!)  Also, while I don't agree with Montel all the time, I completely agree that patients need to be taken off the battlefield.  To me, these two videos are about REAL health care reform: giving patients their medical files, giving patients the resources and raw data to make informed decisions, allowing patients to have options and make decisions about their care, and reducing the stranglehold that politics and profits have on our treatment options.

***MS drug prices increase.  And increase.  And increase.  I remember looking at Avonex prices when I wasn't sure how or if my company's insurance would cover it.  I ended up on my husband's insurance (although my company would have paid for my insurance coverage) because I could not find out if Avonex was a drug that would not be covered but count towards my (high-) deductible or if it was not covered AND did not count towards my deductible.  The latter option would have meant paying $10,000-12,000 for a year's supply, and still having medical costs that I had to pay out of pocket.  Wow.  Yeah, I stayed on his insurance.  Later, I changed medication--Rebif wasn't covered on my insurance but Betaseron was.  Um, okay, they are practically the same thing.  Then I went into the drug trial so I moved to my company insurance (about the time that my husband's company started charging too much for my coverage for it to make sense anymore.)  So, long story long: the cost of Avonex has increased to almost $40,000 a year.  And that's middle of the pack for MS drugs.  WTF.

***Researchers are looking for ways to repair myelin damage in MS patients.  "Myelin repair holds real potential to prevent or even reverse the devastating effects of MS."  While activating stem cells sounds like a fantastic idea (maybe, I have no idea if it's fantastic or not!), I have two issues with this.  First, I'm starting to be very skeptical about the "laboratory model of MS" because the lab rats are being subjected to this process to get an MS-like result but it's NOT MS.  The second issue is this: "We are excited to see this work moving towards clinical trials and are hopeful that this will lead to a new form of treatment for people with MS within the next 10-15 years."  Do you know what kind of progression someone with MS may or may not see in that time?  I know I'm impatient, but I know that I am not doing as well TODAY, NOW, THIS WEEK, THIS MONTH, or THIS YEAR, as I was doing when I was diagnosed.  So excuse me if I don't get all giddy about your awesometastic research that you are going to do for the next 15 years while I fall the fuck apart.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

Hi.  My name is "Dog Days in Arizona" and I collect recipes.  Yes, I make recipes sometimes, but mostly, I collect recipes.  And interesting ideas.  And nifty tips.  You too, can share my problem.  I recommend you start by picking up old cooking magazines at Half-Priced Books for 50 cents each.
  • Bake bananas for 15 minutes (350) with butter and cinnamon or chocolate chips and marshmallows.
  • Cook Irish oats in the rice cooker (1 cup oats, 3 cups water, 1 Tbsp butter) for an easy, hot breakfast in 10-15 minutes.  This could totally work for me--I go to the kitchen to feed the girls, then head upstairs to get showered.  When I come back to make sure the canines have gone outside, my breakfast would be ready to go with me in the car.  Don't judge me for eating in my car!  I can't eat for an hour after taking my thyroid medication, so I'm usually on the freeway by then.
  • Make stuffed shells--freeze half (at least) for another night.  I'm thinking that this could work for manicotta, the man's favorite.  The only issue is the one recurring issue I have at my house--planning to make something, and then life intervenes and suddenly, the frozen meal has been in the fridge "thawing" for 3 days.  I'm also thinking that I have a better "stuff" recipe, but I love the idea.  And I'll have to serve it with make-ahead garlic bread.
  • Double the recipe, make pumpkin bread or banana butterscotch muffins (O.M.G. you know you want some), and freeze half for another week's breakfast.
  • I work with a guy who makes burritos and then eats them for days and days and it just seems so, so boring to eat the same thing so, so much.  However, you can make chicken (or other) burritos and freeze them.  They don't even have to be thawed before microwaving (and/or baking) before eating.  (Note: the chicken recipe will also make some chicken broth to use when making rice.)
  • You know those awesomely yummy Banquet chicken pot pies that are really, really bad for you in many, many ways?  Make your own pot pie and double or triple the recipe so that some can be frozen for later!  I am in love with this idea (not necessarily the actual recipe, but the basics) because the pies can be customized for me and the man.  I need to figure out the individual pie size pans or other dish....
  • We have been eating these steak flautas that Costco has been carrying recently.  Um, no, they are not healthy in any way at all; why do you ask?  They also had chicken empanadas but the man like the flautas better.  I think I could make these empanadas as flautas with corn tortillas (or small flour tortillas).  When I have time...
  • In an earlier post, I reported on how disgusting pre-shredded cheese is, although I have used it for years.  This week, I made burritos using some thawed, previously frozen bison meat--I just add some salsa and water and a little of this and a little of that (this and that being half the seasonings "for tacos" in my drawer).  It turned out really well, much better than I expected since I didn't mix in the fattier ground beef.  I also grated some Colby-Jack.  I should have grated the whole chunk and frozen the half we didn't use.  I have a chunk of pepper-jack, too.  And Cheddar-chipotle.  I like cheese.
  • The man's cousin was in town and has an Italian wife who makes her own red sauce.  I have a recipe I used to make and I loved the flavors, but who has time?  So I usually just use a good jar of sauce.  Maybe making it in a crock pot when I'm going to be home all day anyway would be a great way to start freezing my own sauce.  Too ambitous?
Note: I got most of this from links on Mom's Plan.  I am not going to follow Mom's Plan or The Full Table.  See "I have a problem--I collect recipes."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Survey says...

I have a new log-in for the extension trial monthly online survey, but the questions are the same as I have answered for the past two years during the trial.  First month of three years--done!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Doggie angst

I thought Teka had bit Cassi on her left side (on her lypoma) last week.  It was weird cause I didn't think it really looked like a bite mark, but I couldn't find another explanation.

Today, Teka has a big hole in her face, right under her left eye.  It looks almost exactly like Cassi's hole.  I can't believe the dogs got into it and Cassi bit Teka.

Our block wall fence has these drainage bricks at the bottom about every six feet; they have huge holes--enough that cats come and go through them.  Our neighbors behind us have blocked the holes to reduce the doggie angst.  Our new neighbors on the right side have a dog. I haven't seen it but it sounds big.   I realized this because my dogs were out barking at the new dog.  And Teka had her head IN THE HOLE.

O. M. G.  Neither Cassi nor Teka were bit by the other.  Cassi found something to run into, scraping herself, and Teka is trying to squeeze through a hole made of concrete and scraped her pretty little face.  They are being restricted to supervised yard time until we figure out what to do about all those holes in the fence.  We are actually NOT supposed to block them like the neighbors have done, so we are taking suggestions.  And volunteers.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

You do pick your family. When you get married.

We recently saw the most recent installment of Meet the Parents/Give a Fockers, whatever it is called.  I must say, I have great in-laws.  Okay, there are definitely some quirks and craziness, but in the overall scheme of things, we love each other and I'm happy they are my family.  They make me laugh, even when they don't mean to.  (They might not think that is good, but I think it is!)  Most of the things that "bother" me (that's not really the right word, but I don't what is....) are because of my family/life experience that has horribly tarnished my soul, clashing with their weirdly perfect family.  Yes, I know they aren't perfect, but bear with me.

My parents have been married four times each.  In my dad's defense, the marriages are getting longer.  My mom is divorced from her fourth husband.  I heard a rumor about a fifth but she isn't with that guy and I'm not sure if they ever married.  My husband's parents have been married 45 years.  To. Each. Other.

My maternal grandmother made my life hell while I lived with her for 8 years.  His mom spoils the grandkids to the point of making other awesome grandparents roll their eyes.  (I'm guessing--I've never seen it, but really.  The oldest thinks he gets a present every time he sees grandma.  And it's often.)

I don't ask my family for anything.  They either don't have it or wouldn't give it to me anyway.  More likely, they would ask for something from me.  Yes, that has happened.  Requested with a document stating it was a gift, not a loan.  His dad paid for our home improvement projects as a loan while we were paying two mortgages, then gifted the loan balance to us.  (Disclaimer: my paternal grandparents are awesome and would help if I asked, but I wouldn't because everyone in the family asks. And expects.  And I think that's kinda crappy.)

My mom never contacts me, so I reciprocate.  I'm the kid, I can be petty if I want to be petty. Yeah, you thought I said pretty. Hey, I'm grateful that my parents chose to have me--I'm generally glad I was born, but they both missed most of my childhood--although my dad has made an effort to have an adult relationship.  My mom got upset that I didn't send a Christmas card one year.  That was the year I sent New Year's cards to everyone, including her.  I know that she is special, but that year kicked my ass and everyone else felt lucky to get anything at all.  My husband talks to his parents several times a week.  I sometimes think he's talking to himself, and then realize he's on the phone.  Again.  It's like having a teenage girl in the house, but without the angst (most of the time).  And he tells them everything.  Unless I say: don't tell anyone THIS.  Including your parents.  (Usually followed by a "why?" from him.  Um, learn to censor.  I'm just venting so don't offend people by making them think I really feel this way.)  I don't think it's bad, it's just not who I am; it's so unfamiliar and foreign.

When we were engaged, my husband was told repeatedly by my sister's (now ex-) husband that he didn't know what he was getting into and he shouldn't get married and blah, blah, blah, this family, and so on.  So the four of us took a trip to Houston--where I had spent 8 years of hell, ahem, I mean my childhood--followed by a trip to Pecos to meet the family.  And the guys saw where we came from.  It didn't matter to that idiot, but I can't imagine what kind of mental horror my now-husband went through on that trip.  I imagine it was something like this story:  He had a spray tan so bronze he looked like third place.

I know he learned a lot about where I came from and how I came to be this person.  And he married me anyway.  He's a keeper.  He has great role models, celebrating 45 years of marriage.  And that's family values.

Pawprint on my heart

Friday, June 17, 2011

Level 3 madness

After talking to my neurologist about the Provigil prescription costing a lot under my high-deductible plan, I did as he suggested and called my insurance company to find out if they cover Nuvigil.  I found out that both are considered Level 3 medications, so they cost the same, even with mail order.  In addition, Nuvigil requires a pre-certification.  (I think the samples I have taken are keeping me awake at night, too.)  So I am stuck paying a lot for my prescription and there isn't anything I can do about it.  However, once I spend $3,000 out of pocket, I get refunded $1,000 and don't pay anything else for the rest of the year.
Good news, bad news.  Good-ish news first:
  • Paying $284 for a monthly-ish supply of pills will get me to my deductible limit more quickly, so I am extremely likely to get the $1,000 back.
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses will also count, such as my Synthroid prescription, at just over $18 a month.
Bad news:
  • My Provigil went up by about $50!  Yikes!  The insurer is covering about $75, less than a quarter of the cost.
  • My dental and vision are on a separate policy, different provider, so none of those costs count towards my deductible.
Rebuttal good-ish news:
  • I can use my flex plan (I only allocated $960 from my paycheck for the year, thinking my costs weren't so high) to get reimbursed in pre-tax dollars--this can include the vision and dental expenses.
  • The higher cost of my Provigil will get me to my deductible limit even sooner.
So the bottom line bad news is that my prescription deductible increased more than 17%.  I'm all for paying my share, but I'm pretty sure that I'm paying more than my share.  Without insurance, I would "only" pay $75 more, or 22% more than I pay now.  It makes me wonder if the cost of my insurance is even worth it?  I will continue my analysis throughout the year and report my conclusions as I jump to them.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dentist. Substitute dentist. Part II.

One filling replaced.  One temporary crown in place.  One more filling on the right side to replace.  Another on the left.

Soft foods from Boston Market.  Not super-healthy, but not so bad either.  Mmmm, mashed potatoes.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Super 8

Delorean. In Chandler, AZ.
We went with our friends to dinner (and dessert--a very tall piece of red velvet cake) at Kona, where we saw a Delorean.  Wow, I thought I was stuck in the 80s, but there was a guy taking his own photo at different angles with the car.  Move away from the flux capacitor, dude.

We headed to the movie theater and decided to see Super 8.  I had seen the trailer but my husband had no idea what it was about and our friends were just happy to be out and seeing a movie without their kids.  I have a huge celebrity crush on Kyle Chandler (of Friday Night Lights fame), who is in it along with a very talented group of young actors.  We all thought it was a good movie, with a kind of Goonies vibe, but an updated and sci-fi story line.

As the credits start to roll, the guy in front of us is talking to his daughter and her friend (maybe they were both his daughters), probably junior high age.  My husband (he's so smart and knows me so well) tells us after the guy leaves that he told his daughter "I let you pick the movie and this is the crap you pick?"  She was rubbing her eyes as they left--probably crying.  Okay, first of all, it was not a crappy movie.  Second, most parents and kids have different taste in pretty much everything.  Wait till she drags his stupid ass to a Justin Bieber concert.  Third, who does that to their kid?  And I would have totally said that to him; that is why my husband is such a smart guy--way to avoid a scene.  But wait, there's more.

So the credits are rolling and the BEST part of the movie is during the credits.  That jerk totally made those kids miss the BEST part of the movie.  It's the kind of movie I would not usually see in the theater, but I would see.  It made me want to see the Goonies again.

Kachina cat

I came home yesterday, and my husband M, who had been home all day, told me that Kachina cat had sat in the middle of the living room crying for several hours in the morning.  Then she laid in her litter box the rest of the day.  Jill laid nearby for a couple of hours.  I went and found her still laying in the box--I'd never seen her do that before, and she came out when I called to her.

M and I talked about the decision we knew was coming.  Although Teka never let Kachina lay with her--we think she didn't like the purring--she did not move when Kachina jumped onto the couch last night.  Teka just laid there and looked at me with a mopey look.  Then Kachina laid with Cassi.  I tried to go to bed but ended up downstairs, laying on the couch with Kachina for a while.

This morning, I called to make an appointment at the vet.  M took Kachina out to the front yard, where she did a little exploring and laid in the (fake) grass.

M took me, with Kachina on my lap, to the vet's office.  I asked for her weight, but didn't hear anything after "5 pounds."  Wow, that's just unbelievable.  She was about 12 pounds at her heaviest, and she was over 7 pounds at her last vet visit last fall.  The vet was visibly upset, but said that it was obvious Kachina was well loved, we took good care of her.  They are going to make her paw print into something for me.  Chiina-bean was almost 19 years old

Friday, June 10, 2011

Why I can't write a book

I've heard that I had a crazy, messed up life when I talk about my "childhood" and my family.  I've been told I should write a book about it.  Well, that's all and good, but I wouldn't know where to start, where to end, and what to put in between!  I don't know that I'd want anyone to read it--I mean, it's was a messed up life.  I would be concerned about accuracy, too--timelines get blurred and what people said may or may not be true (or they claim it's not although it's known to be true).

It appears that a novel based on a life story can be a way to deal with that.  But that doesn't quite get me on board.  While I don't think I'd be writing for young adults, I would be horrified to find out I had written something that was controversial or, even worse, banned.  A recent WSJ article claimed that teens are reading darker, more graphic literature and more should be done to protect young readers.  I found her arguments flimsy and the article (and gender-specific recommendations) condescending.  As many others have pointed out, she must think that young adults are innocents who are not aware of the real world.  Or maybe she really believes that these gory, awful things don't happen to the majority, or the rest of us shouldn't discuss it in front of the younguns'.  I have to agree with someone who says if it hasn't happened to you, you know someone who is dealing with it.  Right now.  It is happening.  Isn't it better that we're talking about it?  Or does it "normalize" behaviors to read about it?

Is censorship ever the answer?  I think it's better to have kids reading something disagreeable or irredeemable than to not read at all.  There are fantastic librarians out there that make sure strong readers, like my younger self, are able to find challenging books to read, while they may not recommend all the students read the same things.

In this excellent rebuttal (READ IT!  READ IT ALL!), the author of one of the oh-so-offensive books mentioned in the previous article writes about resilience, and about reading books the way I remember: As a child, I read because books–violent and not, blasphemous and not, terrifying and not–were the most loving and trustworthy things in my life....I read books about monsters and monstrous things, often written with monstrous language, because they taught me how to battle the real monsters in my life.

And now he is a writer for a teen audience: I don’t write to protect them. It’s far too late for that. I write to give them weapons–in the form of words and ideas-that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed.

It makes me want to write.  And read controversial young adult literature.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Focus (audio "book" review)

I put "Focus" on hold right before I got some feedback, same as last year, about my opportunity area being prioritizing.  I am organized in some ways, but not in others.  But figuring out what is the most important thing to do at any time is a real challenge for me.  There are always things I would rather do, but also things on my list tend to get done when they are completely urgent.

I picked "Focus" up at the library and realized it was not a book but a program.  It alternates between Covey's narrative and a live program.  This program is the one I may be taking this summer as part of my development plan.  I think I took a Covey program many, many years ago before I could really use the information--I really didn't even use a calendar then--but I think I picked up some tools.  I'm looking forward to going now that I use multiple calendars.

The audio program is a good refresher for those who have been through the program, and maybe even for those who are just trying to pick up some tips for dealing with a never-ending to-do list.  However, this audio program was a bit dated.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Do you believe in pain?

When I was recovering from my very serious car accident during my college years, I was sent to a therapist.  I don't recall her official title, psychiatrist or physiciatrist or whatever, but I thought quite a bit of the time was unimportant.  However, she did help me overcome my fear of being the car with someone else driving, giving me coping strategies.  The other thing that we spent some well-worth it time on was pain management techniques.

When I went to the physical therapist a while ago, he kind of brought me back to that time.  He was talking about listening to your body and how pain is telling you about unresolved issues and so on.  As I have previously mentioned, his office is the only place I found medical professionals who actually made any effort to help me address my pain issues rather than dismissing them, and me.  When I do not address my pain issue early, or I have just overdone it to the point that I can't prevent it, my pain will sometimes cause me to get what I'm gathering is a migraine--a horrible headache that comes with nauseau, weakness, and seeing stars, according to patient comments.

The WSJ reported on a conference of the American Headache Society, discussing the stages of migraines and the research that shows that maybe they can be prevented if the signs can be identified.  The interesting part is that some of the things thought to be triggers may actually be symptoms of the coming migraine.  Food cravings may be a symptom rather than the trigger.  So listening to the body or recognizing the signs can help prevent the big showdown between a person and their body.  I alternate between listening to and ignoring what my body has to say.  It's hard to listen in the midst of a love/hate relationship.  But I continue to work on my listening skills.

Side note: based on one of the article comments, MSG is an ingredient I have tried to eliminate from my diet.  I have a friend who cannot eat it, and I could not believe some of the foods containing it.  Well, there are even more than I thought--it can be labeled as anything with "glutamate" as well as any version of hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, yeast extract, soy protein, etc.  If it's not one thing, it's a dozen others!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

MRIs and doctors and needles, oh my.

When N at Hope Research said I would need to have my MRI and all my appointments on the same day, I decided that, yes, first thing in the morning would be my best option.  So I wouldn't have to wait an hour or two like the last time.  I thought I was running late but I put it on my calendar a little early so I wouldn't be.  I ended up waiting about a half hour, so I think that was a good choice.  The technician seemed to be "nicer" to me after she knew that I get MRIs just about every year.  I did get to snooze a little during my MRI.

When I left, I ran into Starbucks for my reward: a latte and a pastry.  Yummo.  Then I went to the doctors' office and filled out paperwork for N.  I saw Dr. M, did his balance tests and all that.  Then Dr. G saw me.  I explained my issue with obtaining Provigil at a huge price.  He gave me some samples of Nuvigil and told me to call my insurance to see if they would cover it differently.

N and I went to Sonora for my blood draw.  The lady who took my blood (a lot of tubes this visit) opened a new bandage roll so that she could match my shirt.  Then N and I went back to the Research Center and I did the rest of the tests, including the peg test, the numbers test, and the vanishing eye chart test.  We talked about the extension and I signed my paperwork.  I also asked about something I noticed on the MRI paperwork--it asked about tattoos.  N said that they sometimes see a blurry spot in areas that have tattoos.  I guess that means I'll have to get my tattoo on my leg, ankle, foot area.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Vibram Five Fingers

There seems to be a lot of discussion right now on the runner's blogs about minimalist or barefoot running shoes vs. traditional or modern running shoes.  I have had a lot of trouble finding a shoe I can run in without my foot moving around.  I know part of the problem could be that I'm "between" sizes. Even when I got a custom insert created for me, I ran into problems.  It tends to slide forward in my shoe because it's created for my foot length rather than my shoe length.  (Then I feel the heel of the insert under my heel instead of cupping my heel.)  Another issue I think I have is that my heel seems to move around--I think it might be narrow relative to the rest of the foot.

I keep thinking about this barefoot running idea.  I've seen it done at agility trials, either completely barefoot or, more recently, with the five-finger shoes.  I'm a litte grossed out by running barefoot in a place that dogs may be relieving themselves.  So the five-finger shoes are intriguing.

I am trying to make sure a walking/running path ends up in our yard design.  I think it would be a great use of an acre and a half, to have my own fitness track.  And if I could figure out the correct surface, I would love to use the track while barefoot.  I think there is something about being barefoot that makes us feel like we're closer to nature.

I tend to go barefoot a lot in the house as well.  I've even transitioned over time to more shoes that I can slip off under my desk at work, so I'm even barefoot most of the time in my office.

Of course these yellow VFF caught my eye!  There are several models of VFF now, as well as other brands besides Vibram (such as Fila) coming out with their own versions.  This model has an insert that comes out, so I could probably put my custom insert into it.  (Or would that defeat the purpose?)  I think a little more research, mostly of the trying them on variety, will be needed.  Or I can go completely barefoot.  Now, what kind of surface can I use for my path that will integrate into the design, not attract cats, and be fun to walk/run on?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Braised Fingerling Potatoes

Adapted from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" Braised Potatoes:
2 pounds potatoes (I used a bag of fingerling potatoes)
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
one small onion, minced (I used about a quarter of a huge red onion)
2 cups stock or water (I used a can of chicken stock)
1/4 cup chopped parsley for garnish

Cut the potatoes into chunks.  Heat oil in pan.  Add potatoes, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until turning golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Add onion, cook till soft, a couple minutes, stirring as needed.  Add stock and water until potatoes are barely covered.  Bring to a boil, stirring every once in a while to make sure the potatoes aren't sticking.  Turn heat to medium so the mixture bubbles gently.  Cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Add more liquid if they start to stick.  Taste and adjust seasoning and garnish.

Note that I added carrots about halfway through.  The parsley at the end is a nice touch.  I under-seasoned overall.  And I did not add more liquid, and thought I ended up with too much--I thought about removing the potatoes and carrots to another dish.  This would be a good "crowd" dish and it would go well with a roast of some type; however, M did not like it as much as the "normal" fried potatoes.

I used the leftover potatoes by frying them in a skillet with a little oil, letting them get browned again, adding zucchini and seasoning mix.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Green bits

I keep running across what to do about ants.  They must be a bigger problem than I thought.  I hope that ant was ready for his close-up.  I feel itchy now.

When we finally get grass in our yard, if I can get a landscape maintenance company that is green, we can use our grass clippings to discourage weeds.

There are apparently some issues with hand sanitizers, but it looks easy to make your own with just a few ingredients.  I may even have the ingredients now.

I loved the fun theory on the piano stairs and these are almost as good.  The rubbish bin makes a freefalling sound effect and the recycling bin is an arcade machine.  I love how the guy picks up someone else's trash in the first one and the kid in the second one dances when he gets the points.

Maybe you CAN build a better light bulb.  We'll see....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dentist. Substitute dentist.

I go to the dentist every six months; I love my dentist and the staff in the office.  Today, my hygienist changed for the first time in several years.  I was also told that my dentist is with his family on a well-deserved and long overdue, lengthy vacation.  So I saw Dr. V.  My hygienist (who has been in this office for about 8 years but is not usually my hygienist) told me that my gums are very healthy, which was news to me--I used to have poor gum health.  I also saw on her notes that she wrote "hygiene: good" and that made me a little happy.  I don't brush or floss as much as I should, but I do make an effort!

I let her know that I had some pain in my lower right teeth a few weeks ago but hadn't noticed anything recently.  Dr. V said that my silver filling had leakage, but when I thought he was saying the filling was leaking, he said that wasn't it.  Then he said something that sounded like English but I didn't understand the words coming out of his mouth.  Or at least their meaning, as he was trying to explain this leakage issue.  At this point, it is just hitting me that I am FINALLY going to get my silver filling out.  I have wanted all of them removed since I started reading about MS shortly after my diagnosis.  One of the first "detox" recommendations is removing silver fillings.  (Note: dentists don't really but many high-profile MS patients have had this done anyway.)

Then Dr. V said I had the same issue on the left lower side.  And on the lower right side, near the front, I have one that should also come out but I will need a crown, as was recommended in my last visit with Dr. S, who said it could wait.  So Dr. V just told me I can have all 3 silver fillings taken out!  I can't believe how happy I am to be scheduling a couple of painful procedures.  Detox me and call me silly!