Friday, December 28, 2012

Stressful Autumn

I'd keep peeking in here and seeing my last post from AGES ago and the longer I didn't write, the more I put it off...there is so much to catch up on and I hardly know where to begin. But I have learned some weight-related stuff during this time that I want to share.

First the description of the stress:

After our wedding in July, we dove immediately into preparations for Burning Man. We were gone for two weeks this year (usually it's about 10 days). A friend of ours stayed with my little doglet, Nick, as a gift (saved me about $50/day!). The night we got home, just as we walked into the house, Nick collapsed on the floor, couldn't get up, peed himself. Both DB and I thought he was dying. We rushed him to the emergency vet and, by the time we got there, he was fine. The vet checked his oxygen levels and said to just take him to my regular vet to do a full work-up.

(Background: Nick had had a heart condition for a couple of years that we had managed with one pill a day. A week or so before we left for Burning Man, his eating had slowed down so I switched his diet to something I thought he liked more.)

When I took him to my vet, we saw his heart was a lot worse than it had been just a few months before. He also had lost weight (probably from not eating enough. My vet put him on a lot more pills and sent us home. After a few more days, Nick wasn't eating at the point that I called my vet to ask how long he could last without eating or drinking (answer: not more than two weeks). That day, my vet gave me an appetite stimulant and, finally, that worked. Nick started eating again and seemed much better for a time.

Late in September, I decided to run for a local political office. I was running against the virtual incumbent so I really did not have much hope of winning, but I am distressed about some things that have been happening in my community and how constituents have not been empowered to get involved so I thought it was important to run.

For the entire next month, much of my time off from work was spent campaigning. I had a great time meeting all the other local candidates and talking with people about our neighborhood. The election was October 28...I won.

And then that stress started...even though I wasn't sworn in until late November, the transition from the former office-holder to me started virtually immediately. The whole thing was a mess so I have been spending the past couple of months working on establishing protocols going forward, updating systems, etc. At last, I think I am almost at a point where I will be able to have things running smoothly in a month or so. (All of this is on top of learning how my local government works, the politics of all the characters, etc.)

In mid-November, Nick slowed eating again. He was back to just eating the little kiddie wieners that were my go-to calorie-injection if he wouldn't eat anything else (we had been through chicken liver, cottage cheese, you name it, during this process). On Saturday, November 17, he was really having trouble breathing and standing up. By the time we got home from an afternoon outing, it was clear that he was close to done. It was time. I called a friend who does home euthanasia and scheduled her to come on Sunday morning. I spent my whole evening at home, just holding Nick. He liked that a lot. I did too...but I was crying all the time.

I got ready to sleep with him on the sofa and put him in his little bed while I got ready. He went to sleep so I told DB I wouldn't disturb him...we could move to the sofa in the night if he woke up.

I woke up at 5 am and didn't hear him breathing. He was gone. After lots of crying, I went back to sleep and had an amazing dream: it was the next morning. I woke up and Nick was all better. He was running around the neighborhood playing with other dogs (which he never did in life), jumping through windows into rooms where I was and on top of garbage bins. He was like super-dog...he even was wearing an orange safety vest. I think that was a visitation dream...and how he is in heaven.

The pet mortuary came that morning and I was able to put his body into their car in his own bed. I had a lot of meetings that day and cancelled a few, but it wasn't enough. The next day I had a total breakdown at work...thought I was having a heart attack, couldn't stop crying. I'm amazed I managed to drive home. DB gave me a pill and I went to sleep. It was horrible.

I am grateful that he went peacefully in his sleep, but I miss him so...we were together for almost 14 years (I got him on Boxing Day 1998). I still get teary when I think about it (like writing this now). Nick will be my last pet...DB is severely allergic so he's it for pets for me now!

After this, holiday season started in earnest and it's been non-stop since.

Another note about autumn: my beloved yoga teacher left the country in early September. I have had a really hard time getting myself to go to yoga since he has been gone because the replacements are (of course) not of his caliber. I know that the practice is mine to create, but I am struggling. The good news is that I went to the new Saturday teacher last week and he was very good. At least I'll have one good teacher a week...and I'll just have to be my own teacher the other two days when I go to class.

Sooo...with all this said...I have gained 10 pounds since early-September. Other than being not-as-regular with yoga, I have not changed my diet or routine at all. Since my scale is my good barometer of health, I went to see my doctor in November: we upped my thyroid meds, tweaked some supplements and she said that, if my weight wasn't back to normal by January, we would do adrenal testing. I am certain that the weight gain is due to the unusual stress of the last few months. Of course, not losing the additional weight as I normally would adds to the stress.

In addition to the meds/supplements, I have cut way back on alcohol and have gone back to yoga regularly in December. Result to my weight? Nada. Again, I am sure it's the stress. I'm pretty sure we'll have to test the adrenals in January and I hope we can get them back in balance with my other hormones.

As usual, I wish that my body processed food better...I fight resentment that I can't eat like "other people"...but I can't. Mostly I'm ok with that. But when my weight goes up without changing what I eat, then I'm cranky!

We are off to Vegas for this long weekend. I haven't been in over 20 years so have no idea what is in store, but it seems like it might be fun and it's a fairly short drive.

Wishing everyone who might still be reading a wonderful New Year!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Wedding #2 Week

The wedding was wonderful; the vacation not too relaxing with grandkids to take care of and one-too-many urgent care visits (suffice it to say that DB was not used to wearing a wedding ring and paid the price of three stitches and having the ring, which was my dad’s, cut off his finger!), but still very fun. A few photos below. :-)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Dream-Come-True Trip

So here's the thing: I've always wanted to go to New Orleans. My studies in French pre-dispose me to wanting to see this most quintessential Frenchy city in the U.S. And I love zydeco music and so much more. Plus, of course, "The Big Easy"...who wouldn't want to go after seeing that?! ;-) (DB and I actually watched it last night -- he had never seen it -- I have seen it so many times that I know many of the lines by heart!)

In 1989, my daddy and I were planning a trip to Memphis to see Graceland and then to New Orleans. I was 27 and this would be our big "grown-up" trip together. I was so excited. We were leaving in October. He died very unexpectedly on September 10. And, all these years, there has been a part of me that was nervous about going to New if I planned a trip with someone, something would happen to them. So I never really considered going.

Then, late last year, our nephew got engaged. He's been living and teaching in Baton Rouge. And we hoped that we would be invited to the wedding...both DB and I had never been to Louisiana and this would be our perfect opportunity...even though we had been told "it's gonna be hot, y'all".

We knew the date of the wedding and had been saving that time...but time went on and on and the wedding invitation never arrived. We thought, "oh well, weddings are pricey and we have a big family so maybe they are not inviting everyone". But I encouraged DB to finally ask his sister (mother of the groom) sometime in early May. It turns out that they had sent us a "save the date" and an invitation...but to the address where DB lived with his old girlfriend 10 years ago! Oops.

We got all that straightened out and, excitedly, planned our trip. There were a few things that made me nervous: the "New Orleans curse" idea (above) and flying. I hadn't flown in two years...on purpose. My fear of flying has gotten progressively worse the past many years and there is so much to see in California that I've managed to not have to face a plane in that period of time. So I plunged in, made plane reservations, hotel reservations, car reservations...but I couldn't quite bring myself to actually believe this was all going to happen. I didn't do my usual "travel geisha" pre-reading/planning, etc. We were going to get there and be able to get around, but no tours pre-booked and very little reading about things to do and see. (I did, however, solicit recommendations from friends as to what to do in NOLA -- most of which came back with a list of places to eat! I also got some anti-anxiety meds from my doctor for the flight.)

Thursday, June 21...time to go...and that's where this story starts:

I left work early on Thursday to come home, meet DB and cab to the airport. All went smoothly. I took my meds before and on the plane and most of the flight was ok. Ate well and got into NOLA at 12:30 am Friday morning where we were staying close to the airport before picking up our car to drive to Baton Rouge Friday morning.

We got a cab at the airport and had our first of several remarkable experiences. Our cab driver was hysterical: had a Cajun accent almost impossible to decipher and was full of stories. We also think he was very probably drunk. It was a funny and fun ride to our motel.

We arrived quite late (1 am?) and the person at reception was very sweet. Already I am in love with the accents. But I am tired from my meds and we quickly get to our room and decide not to try to find any snacks...just go to bed. The bed was remarkably comfy. We slept great and woke up in New Orleans! I was so excited although there was nothing interesting in the neighborhood where we were and nothing except industrialness to see from our window. We grabbed in-room coffee and packed up for the next leg of our journey.

As we checked out, we asked to be shuttled to the airport (included in our room rate...along with breakfast which we missed, but the breakfast room looked nice). The shuttle driver was a sweetheart -- he agreed to drive us to the car rental place instead. And told us of his Katrina experience - he lives near the lake and evacuated to his wife's family about 80 miles north. When he came back, his house (that they had just bought!) had 2 feet of water in it. It took them 2 months to get an insurance adjuster out so nothing could be done until then. But insurance did apparently cover their loss and repairs.

Picked up our car and headed out for the 1-hour drive to Baton Rouge. The topography was nothing DB or I had ever seen. The highway drove over the river and bayou. Louisiana seemed mostly to be water...and very very green.

We were planning to get some coffee and breakfast on the way, but after taking two exits that promised (at the very least) McDonalds and finding the nearest food 2 to 5 miles off the exit, we gave up. Finally grabbed a McDs snack somewhere where we could see the place from the highway.

When we got to Baton Rouge, we quickly learned that traffic patterns there are not well-thought-out and so traffic is kind of a mess. But, despite this, we did make it to our hotel where two of my sisters-in-law and their spouses were staying. Everyone turned out to be running around doing different things so we headed for lunch to a restaurant recommended by the (very nice - this turned out to be a pattern in Louisiana) staff at our hotel.

OK, I had to have etouffee RIGHT AWAY. So we had blackened alligator and shrimp and crab etouffee (DB and I shared). Oh oh...etouffee (like most everything else in Louisiana) is served over rice. OK...I ate around the rice. And the alligator was ok - tastes like chicken, but gristly and tough. Don't need to try that again.

From the restaurant, we saw a favorite! So we headed over there for some bargain shopping. :-) I got a dress, two pairs of shorts, two shirts and a pair of capris for $20. Very happy was I.

By this time, it was time to go back to the hotel and get ready for the Friday night pre-wedding dinner. This was at a place that had good Cajun food and live zydeco...yes, a dream was about to come true, y'all!

We met our family at the restaurant and had a ball catching up, eating, drinking and dancing. The band was great...very authentic to this Yankee's ears. Slide guitar, drums, guitar and the vocalist with three accordions. I was in HEAVEN.

The wedding was at noon on Saturday so we got up, grabbed some breakfast at the hotel (the best included breakfast I ever had -- could get eggs instead of just pastries!) got gorgeous and headed out in the sweltering heat for the beginning of the love-fest. The wedding was at the Catholic cathedral downtown and the priest who conducted the wedding was an old friend of our nephew. He is a Jesuit and, in my experience, they are so much more interesting and fun as speakers so the service was really beautiful and special. Our nephew was beaming the whole time and that made me smile...he is a big charming guy, an Army major (or something similar) and his emotion was really sweet to see. We love his new wife (who we've all known for a long time since they've been together for 5ish years) too so this was a very happy celebration.

The reception was at a plantation! Seriously. It was amazing. Everything you would think it to be. We ate (best food so far...although at this point I'm starting to realize that there are no green vegetables served in Louisiana), drank, danced and strolled around the grounds. Very fun. The reception was over at 5, we threw lavender at the couple and everyone headed back to their respective hotels to freshen up for the evening.

We were all supposed to meet at a bar downtown at 7:30, but everyone seemed to arrive a little late (we had napped...which I never do!) and, when we got there, there was no food. So everyone kind of disbursed to various restaurants around downtown. We ended up at a nice place that had great salads. OK, they do have iceberg lettuce in Louisiana. ;-)

After everyone had eaten, the venue for us to hang was changed to this amazing sushi restaurant that had a huge patio overlooking the Mississippi. It was a scene! Totally packed and fire dancers entertaining. During this time, DB and his four siblings who were there had a pow-wow about the continuing saga of the sale of their parents house (which has caused a lot of bad blood). The rest of us tried to stay out of the way. ;-)

Another night's sleep in the Baton Rouge hotel on the bed that sounded, every time you turned over, like it was wrapped in plastic. I couldn't wait for a new bed...

There was a post-wedding brunch with family and friends on Sunday and, as that ended, we all said our goodbyes and we were off to NEW ORLEANS!

A friend of ours had recommended that we take a "swamp tour" between Baton Rouge and NOLA. DB had done the research and found one that looked appealing: Cajun Pride Swamp Tours. It just sounded delicious!

We arrived in plenty of time for the 2:15 (2-hour) tour. Got a quick drink and walked down by the boats (with names like "Cajun Queen")...right there by the boat, there were alligators!!! And DB walked a little ways away and there was a baby alligator about two feet long (3 years old, we learned).

The swamp was gorgeous: Spanish moss (named by the natives after invading Spaniards beards), water hyacinth (which is a huge plague on the bayous), lots of 'gators (who love marshmallows!), a cemetery, and a wonderful Cajun tour guide who told fabulous stories in his fabulous accent. Stories of not going to school because they weren't allowed to speak French and learning so much about his culture that he was offered a professorship at a university. Stories of an outlaw culture that is so much a part of Louisiana's charm and history. It was sweltering (again), but we loved it.

And then it was time to head to town...we dropped off our car at the rental agency (where they tried to charge us extra for an upgrade we had declined...DB fixed that!) and got the shuttle to the airport to get a cab to our hotel.

That's when we met THE BEST CAB DRIVER EVER. Like most of the Louisianians we met, this man was very warm and friendly. We told him it was our first time in New Orleans and he started to talk to us about this city that he very obviously loves. He evacuated before Katrina and didn't come back for 2 1/2 years because there was no work for cab drivers (obviously). He is so happy to be back now...born and raised in NOLA. He could tell we were interested so he took us on a few detours (this was a flat rate ride so he didn't get extra money for doing that) to see some Katrina damage...when we came up on the Superdome and saw the iconic overpasses where people were waiting for rescue it was quite something. (Even though we were at Burning Man when it happened in 2005 and we didn't see any of it on tv like most of the rest of the country/world as it was happening.) All through the ride, he showed us things, gave us advice about where to eat and what to go see (we never would have known that the oldest cemetery in town was just a few blocks from our hotel without him). He even got a kick out of driving us down Bourbon Street for our first time. He deserved the giant tip we gave him...what a gem. Started our time in N.O. in a special way.

We got to our hotel about 6 pm and checked in quickly. The room was huge and nice. But we had paid extra to have a balcony and were disappointed when we realized that, although we had two balconies and there was a table and chairs on one, we would have had to crawl out a regular window to get to it. The rooms on the floor below had French doors so you could actually use your balcony...oh well. We were sweaty and tired so we went to the hotel bar for a drink (free with hotel room)...the bar was adorable, dark and mysterious. It used to be a brothel! We met a couple from St. Louis and, thanks to them, had our first taste of one of the quintessential N.O. cocktails, the Sazarac. I loved it.

After resting a bit, we headed over to Bourbon Street (our hotel was only a block away) to stroll. It was kind of exciting to see it the first night...neon, balconies, lots of bars, restaurants and junky tourist gift shops. But it was NEW ORLEANS. There was a line at the first place we tried for dinner (recommended by our cab driver and someone I had met in our hometown). We should have waited, but I was impatient so we walked...and ended up at a place that looked cute where we could eat on the second floor balcony overlooking the street. That, unfortunately, was the only good thing about that restaurant. The service and food were horrible. The less I remember it, the better.

Then we started to just wander around the French Quarter. We stopped at a grocery store to get some water and soda for our room and saw the best music of our week -- a trio playing in the street outside the grocery, trumpet, accordion and stand-up bass. They were great! New Orleans!

On the way home, we stopped at a bar around the corner from our hotel (oh yeah, in case you don't know, you can get drinks "to go" in NOLA...everyone wanders around drinking!) that advertised "Frozen Irish Coffee". This was basically an alcoholic milkshake. And we loved it...that was the first, but not the last one we had!

[One thing I should mention here is that Bourbon St. smells like vomit 24/7. Our hotel was a block away and it was fine until you got within a half a block of it. Yuck. I got tired of that pretty quickly.]

Monday we wanted to do a tour of the city to get the lay of the land and some basic history and information. Unfortunately, the tour company that we wanted to book through was already totally booked that afternoon. But we found another one (with air-conditioned coaches which was KEY) and booked for the 3-hour afternoon tour.

Around 10 am, we set off walking toward the famous Cafe du Monde, planning to try a beignet for breakfast. On the way, walking down a street in the Quarter, DB noticed a tunnel into what looked like a beautiful oasis of a courtyard. It appeared to be a hotel...and there was a sign out front advertising a jazz breakfast buffet. We wandered in through this dark tunnel, then bar, and into the courtyard garden. It was so beautiful! A large fountain, ironwork tables, umbrellas, lots of greenery...and a jazz trio. Brunch was $29, but we decided it was worth it...and it was.

The place is called Court of the Two Sisters and is apparently very famous. The buffet was perfect because we could taste small portions of all the traditional and classic New Orleans dishes. And, oh happy day, they had broccoli!!! That was the first green vegetable I had had in Louisiana except for iceberg lettuce for over 3 days!! (Wait, I had 4 asparagus spears at the wedding reception...the only green veg on that buffet!) The broccoli was delicious as was everything else. My favorite things were the turtle soup (best thing in Louisiana that I ate) and bread pudding (I had a few bites only...did that with most of the carby stuff down there...including some yummy grits on Sunday). The Bloody Mary was also quite good. Anyway, this was the place where we tasted everything, sat in an amazing courtyard and listened to NOLA jazz.

After this, Cafe du Monde was for another day so we kept on walking down toward the river. Saw the cathedral and Jackson Square and the riverbank. Walked down to see where Cafe du Monde was (because we knew we'd have to go there on Tuesday, our last day), then walked around the Quarter more until it was time for our tour...including a stop at a National Park site that we happened upon.

The tour was perfect. It was a sweltering day so it was great to be in a small air-conditioned tour bus. Our guide was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot about the history of the city. Of course, Katrina has become part of that history and I'm sure that most tourists, like us, are very interested. As we drove from the Quarter toward the Lower Ninth Ward, our guide would say "here the water was 3 feet deep, here it was 8 feet deep, here it was 20 feet deep" was chilling. When we got to the Lower Ninth, we didn't see too much destruction...the city has torn down most of the is an area full of empty lots. But it's also an area of renewal -- there was a really cool memorial as you come off the bridge into the neighborhood -- and we drove all through the "Brad Pitt houses" (he gave something like $5M to help rebuild). The houses were fascinating -- very modern looking, but somehow with traditional New Orleans "shotgun" house style. They are all up on stilts -- parking underneath. Most have escape hatches out of the roof.

We did a short stop in the Lower Ninth at a house where they make homemade pralines. Now, you know I am not a real sugar-lover, but these things were A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. We tasted factory ones in town and they were nothing like these homemade ones. I wish I would have bought 10 instead of 2...but then I would have gained more... ;-)

After that neighborhood, we went to one of the newer cemeteries (most all above-ground). It was so hot that none of us wanted to walk around too much, but we could. And then off for a refreshment stop in City Park. Everyone got drinks and stretched their legs.

Finally we headed to the Garden District -- didn't learn too much about it, but the houses were, as promised, truly lovely. Next time we go back, I'd like to spend some more time there.

By the time the tour was over, it was about 5:30, so we stopped at our hotel bar for a drink then went to frolic in the pool to cool off. After that, it was time for a nap (yes, I actually napped twice while we were away...unheard of!)

For dinner on Monday, we went to a restaurant (Deanie's) that was close to our hotel and highly recommended by a friend in L.A. It seemed to be less of a tourist place, not fancy, but the food was excellent. We had salad, boiled shrimp, gumbo...and, I think a bit more, but the meals are all running together now!

After dinner, we walked back toward our hotel because we intended to get a cab over to Frenchman St. where all the locals go to hear music. We ended up flagging down a pedi-cab (I can't believe people actually pedal others around in that heat, but they do!). Taking the pedi-cab over was fun -- riding through the streets of the Quarter at night (this was about 10 pm), looking up at the wrought-iron balconies, breathing the steamy air -- it was evocative!

When we got to Frenchman St., we went into the first club where we heard music we liked. No cover, one-drink minimum and, wow, what great music for that bargain! I remember the lead singer most -- a trumpet playing woman and vocalist. Everyone was having a grand old time. But, after a while there, we were getting tired so we wandered around a little bit more, didn't hear anything else compelling, and grabbed a regular cab "home".

Tuesday morning was our last in NOLA. We slept in, packed up, stowed our luggage, arranged for a cab to take us to the airport at 3 and, after grabbing a frozen Irish coffee to go, were off to visit the oldest cemetery in the city, St. Louis 1. It was just a couple of blocks from our hotel and very very old. Rumor has it that the voodoo queen, Marie Laveau is buried there. It's very mysterious and we didn't see her grave...but we saw a couple that very likely were what people refer to. I'd like to take a tour with someone who knows about it someday. It was cool.

Next it was time for Cafe du Monde. I'm going to say some sacrilege here: we didn't really like the beignets. I didn't like the chicory coffee that much either, but DB had plain coffee and said it was great. Oh well...

After more Quarter wandering, we had a final special Southern drink -- mint juleps. We happened onto this place that specializes in them and, wow, were they yummy and refreshing. And not a bad thing to calm me down as I was starting to anticipate the flight home.

Our cab ride to the airport was uneventful and so was the flight home (except for my anxiety).

Once we got back (June 26) it's been non-stop ever since. I'm a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding on August 4 so we had her shower and bachelorette party last weekend. I'm scrambling to get all the stuff done for our wedding (July 23...we leave July 20). And work is slammed. I told DB this morning that I feel like everything is running away with me...but he assured me that we'll get everything done.

I have my appointment with my wedding dress alteration lady Monday evening...I am hoping that she can work her wonders because I have not lost the final 5 pounds that I wanted to. If she can't, I'm going to have to just eat lettuce for the next two weeks! ;-) I also have to get my bridesmaid dress altered -- it has the opposite problem -- too huge. Oh well, First World Problems.

Time to get back to work...I've got two weeks to do about 4 weeks worth of work!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Very quicky...running out of town

Vickie reminded me that I haven't posted in a month and that does not surprise me. It's a swamped summer with now three weddings including ours and supervising visitation which sucks usually at least a day of our weekends every other weekend. I won't put a sad face because I am lucky that my life is busy with things and people I love. But blogging is not something I've been able to do lately since I'm also slammed at work.

We leave tonight for Louisiana until next Tuesday for a family wedding. Am looking forward to it except for the flying part. ;-) (Thankfully, my doc gave me some meds to fight the flying anxiety...which is getting worse as I get older, not better.)

Oh yeah, and the food...whenever you ask anyone what there is to do in New Orleans they send you a list of restaurants. I am not kidding. This is a big hint to me so DB and I have a plan -- we can TASTE things we want to taste, but we can't eat, for example, a whole beignet. We plan to share A LOT. I hope this works because it sounds like all anyone does in NOLA is EAT. ;-) Comfortingly, a friend told me "don't worry, you'll be sweating a lot of it off". It's supposed to be in the 90s with lows in the upper 70s.

I would still like to lose 7-10 pounds pre-wedding -- haven't been losing, but still maintaining my loss from last year. If I don't lose, it won't be horrible because I fit in my gown as is. But I will probably buckle down when we get back next week.

I've been having some arm, shoulder and neck pain so had a private yoga lesson with my teacher a couple of weeks ago. Wow, it really helped! Still hurting some, but he's so good with alignment and I'm working hard at it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekends jammed/weeks busy

Once again, I am so very busy and I realize I am not writing here as I want to...

Last weekend, we went to Lake Town for a "wedding scouting trip" and we took my mom along for the ride (particularly since it was Mother's Day weekend). We left town after work on Friday night and arrived in a town close to Lake Town late (no reason to spend big on a nice hotel or inn when you are only in it from 11:30 until after breakfast!).

Our first stop on our scouting expedition was the actual wedding location. We had reserved a day-use site overlooking the lake and had done our best to choose it sight-unseen. It's a good thing we went to check (DB's idea)! The location, while pretty, was very sunny (would be unbearable in July) and on a any attempt to put catering tables would have been difficult. With the help of an extremely nice and knowledgeable ranger (thanks, Ranger Rick!), we found another totally perfect spot. We can actually used the huge picnic tables for our reception (so no need to rent tables). And the location for the ceremony is perfect...and all in shade. Ranger Rick was able to tell us about where the shade would be in July so our guests will be comfortable. AND, we were able to switch the reservation at no extra charge so we are all set.

After this, we went for lunch to the restaurant where the caterer is headquartered. The food was yummy so we were in a good mood for our meeting with the caterer right afterwards. We had already had an estimate so we knew that we were in the ballpark with this company. She thought of lots of things that I hadn't thought of -- linens, tubs with ice for beverages, reduced per-head rate for kids. I was really impressed. And I was really surprised just how fun it was. Being a girl who never thought of details of a wedding, I wasn't very interested in all the trappings, but I'm having fun with things like this! Am working on flowers now too. :-)

When we had finished with the caterer, we went back to the wedding location to measure the tables for her, then we took a drive around the lake and checked out the houses we have rented for our family from the outside (we couldn't, unfortunately, see the insides). I realize I may not have written about all this -- this wedding is for our family -- none of whom could come to the wedding in September. Our immediate family is over 50 people! Anyway, the houses are all walking-distance to each other and look very nice.

I had reserved rooms at what looked to be a nice inn near Lake Town (Lake Town only has one hotel and it's PRICEY). After checking in and seeing our rooms were lovely -- and each with a private deck overlooking a rolling lawn down to the river -- we went to the on-site winery for a tasting. On the way strolling up the hill, we said hi to the alpacas. The wine was really great -- I've never been to a winery where I liked so many of them, I don't think. I joined their wine club! After this, DB and I had a glass of wine at the wine and beer garden which was also on the property. It was beautiful. Then we all went to dinner and DB and I finished our night back at the wine/beer garden with live music and dancing under the stars. A truly fantastic time.

On Mother's Day, we took my mom into Yosemite Park for brunch at the historic Wawona hotel. It was a dream. So very beautiful and the staff was very accommodating. But before this, we had coffee on the patio of the inn...not wanting to leave. As we went back to our rooms, my mom asked us to come into her room because she had something for us. She handed me a small box which was obviously jewelry. It was the cameo necklace that her mother gave her on her wedding day in 1960!! Of course, I know this necklace as it's in all her wedding photos. It matches my dress perfectly and it's over 100 years old. We both cried. It continues to be so interesting to see how important this wedding is to our family and friends.

All in all a really fun weekend -- I've booked DB and me into the same inn for the night before our wedding week starts so we have a little alone time before the family descends. :-)

This recent past weekend was in town, but jammed! One of our friends was graduating with her masters in nursing on Saturday and we had offered long ago to help set up for her party. I had been asking her for weeks what time and where we should be. I knew the party started at 1 so I figured we wouldn't need to be there much before noon. On Friday when our friend finally responded to my repeated requests for info, she said we needed to be at her house at 8:30 and then sit at the beach saving space until everyone came (which ended up being around 3). No bueno, amiga! We had no time to do that, but we got up early and did take a couple of her friends down to the beach to save space until we could get back at 11:30. We literally sat there for all those hours. People arrived around 3. I was cranky. But we did end up having fun...and learned that this particular friend has a lot of trouble communicating. All her friends involved in the set-up were pretty pissed off and DB and I spent time diffusing some "situations".

After the party, some of the people ended up coming to our house...along with PD1 and her 4 kids who were staying with us before an early-morning visitation with The Molester (which continues to suck). We all had a great time and everyone headed to bed a little before midnight. I decided to stay up for a little bit to play Words With Friends before sleep. When I got to my bed, there was DB and two of the grandkids sound asleep. No room for me! So I got a non-comfy 6-hours of sleep on our (very cool, but not very comfy) 50-year-old sofa.

At 6 am, I hear rustling (which often happens when the grandkids are over). I get up and see that one of the grandkids has left our bed so now there's room for me! I go to get into bed and, ugh!, it's sopping. My 5-year-old grandson had wet the bed...ALL over. I stripped off what I could and put towels where I could. Then a light went on upstairs and there was my sweet grandson, all dressed for the day. He had taken care of himself as best he could. I told him to come down and I'd help him with buttoning his shirt and I said "you forgot to get up to go to the bathroom, huh?". I told him it was ok and asked if he wanted to come back into bed with us in his clothes. He did, so 4 people in the bed. Then the 3-year-old showed up and, with 5 people in the bed, all sleeping was pretty much over. We did rest though and I had fun listening to 3-year-old practicing his words while he thought we were all asleep. Cute!

After visitation, DB and I got a teeny rest, then I went over to a friend's house to help her weed her garden. We had been over there a couple of weeks ago and I saw lots of weeding needed. I love to weed. I mean I really love it! And I have no real yard so don't get to garden at my house. They are selling their house so I asked her if I could help and we made it a party! After about 3 hours, some other friends came over and we had a potluck dinner outside and watched the eclipse (after we showered, of course!). It was lovely. And there's still weeding to be done next weekend!

Today my body is sore in all the good places. Gardening is such good exercise. I miss it. And I've been off yoga for almost three weeks due to a bad back attack. Going back tomorrow...and have acupuncture in the afternoon in case I tweak something again.

Life is good...and full! ;-)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Summer approaches

Well, barring a huge snow storm in the Sierra sometime in the next month, I think we are done skiing for the year. Our last weekend (two weeks ago) was the best of the season -- light snow all day Saturday, bright sun and warm all day Sunday, and warm on Monday (when we skied two hours in the morning before heading home). I actually skied a few "blue/blacks" (advanced intermediate) and had fun on them (after the first panic of seeing the steeper slope -- DB takes me down my first time on different slopes and I'm usually good after that). I'm proud of me! ;-)

That weekend we also were able to afford a condo right at the lift so all we had to do was walk 100 yards and we were skiing. I can't begin to tell you what a great luxury that is -- to not have to lug all your equipment into a car, then park, then lug into a lodge to change then stomp to the lift. We can't usually afford to stay so close but since the snow has been minimal this year the rentals are much cheaper than usual. Oh oh, now we are spoiled.

Our last run that Monday definitely told us it was time to stop for the season -- it was so warm it was like skiing through slush or mud. Not fun. The "snow" is so wet, you can't turn. And if you can't turn, you can't stop. DB and I both almost crashed on that run -- a very familiar and easy one for both of us. We went into the lodge and said "ok, that's it for this season!".

So now we have our weekend back and, while I LOVE ski season, I must admit it's nice not to have to crowd two weekends' worth of chores, social life, etc. into one. Last weekend was wonderful. Saturday, after we supervised visitation with The Molester, I went to yoga, then we had a date to see "American Idiot" live show downtown. The next day, we had NO plans. It was AWESOME. We walked for hours at the beach and around our neighborhood. Luxury.

We have a similarly unscheduled weekend this weekend - yay!

My weight is still maintaining. I am back at yoga with minimal pain in my ankle, but I still have to be careful. Walking seems fine, but yoga still is kind of ouchy. I still want to lose at least 10 pounds before the wedding in July, but I am feeling pretty good in my body right now...and that is rare.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April might be the end of ski season

So I might have some more time to be here! When gone one work day out of every 10 for a few months (and three "real" days out of every 14), things get backed up. But I am doing well. I am consistently 15 pounds or more less than I was last ski season and it makes a real difference in my ability, I think.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a ski accident. I was coming in slowly at the bottom of the hill after only a couple of runs. It was one of the first real "powder days" of the season (California has had a winter drought this year = not the ton of snow we usually get in the mountains) so the mountain was crowded (which I dislike...and I am spoiled because it rarely gets this way). There were two snowboarders stopped right past the "gate" (where you radically slow to get into the lift lines) and there was a ton of space between them so I went to ski between them to get to the lift line. Just as I was ON TOP of them, one scooted toward the other, completely closing off my route. I could not stop and crashed into them. Twisted my left ankle badly and my left ski popped off...

At first I was just very mad at them (you MUST be aware of yourself no matter where you are on the hill...even stopped at the can't move without looking/being aware of people around you). DB was right behind me and helped me up. The idiot snowboarders asked if I was ok and I said I didn't know. I didn't. DB encouraged me to walk around a bit before going back up to ski. As I did, I realized that my ankle REALLY hurt. So we headed to ski patrol...

When we got my boot off, it didn't look too bad. Definitely did not look broken so I just laid down on one of their cots for 1/2 hour and iced it and took some ibuprofen. At that point, I felt like the ankle was just bruised from impact with the interior of the ski boot (thank goodness they are so stiff...I am convinced I would have broken my ankle if they weren't). So I headed back up the beginner run to see how it felt. Not good...I was done for the day.

I sat and waited for DB to finish a few more runs, then we headed to our hotel. After I took the ski boot off, my ankle really began to swell. I laid down on the bed with my leg elevated and with ice. DB went out in the (by this time) blizzard to get some ibuprofen (he had to hike across a parking lot and take a gondola to get some for me!). By dinner time, I could hardly walk downstairs for dinner. Not good.

The next day I realized I couldn't ski. I stayed in bed with ice and elevation and a movie (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close...excellent). When DB was finished skiing, I hobbled to the car and we went to the pharmacy to get an ankle brace. With that and my stiff snow boot at least I could walk. But no more skiing for me that weekend.

When we got home, I knew I couldn't go to yoga for at least a week...the ankle was dark purple all over and still hurt. I knew I had to be very careful with food and I was. I was off all formal exercise (including no morning beach walks) for a week. Then I started walking again. This last weekend, I skied and, with a little pain, was ok. Today I went back to yoga and had a similar result. I am looking at yoga as physical therapy to finish my healing.

I didn't gain weight during the non-exercise time. I was very careful with food. In fact, I weighed slightly less when we went away for skiing last weekend than I did two weeks prior before the accident.

Our ski weekend last weekend was a ball because we went with PD2 and our 4 granddaughters! Two had never skied before and we put them all in lessons on Saturday. They were the only ones that got to ski that day because wind gusts were up to 75 MPH so all the grown-up lifts were shut down. It was an adventure! Sunday the weather was beautiful and we all had a ball skiing.

So, moral of the story: you can survive enforced non-exercise if you are very very careful with food. But it sure feels great to be back at it! :-)