Thursday, July 28, 2011

High Anxiety

So.... we are going on a vacation in about a week. The plan is to fly into Seattle, then split time between North Cascades National Park, Mt Rainier NP, and Olypmic NP. All of which will be CLOSED if the idiots in charge of our government can't get their shit straight by August 2. I am trying not to freak out, but every day that passes without any hope of an agreement sends my nervous system into overdrive. We have a lot of money tied up in a vacation that may need quite a bit of modification on the fly. NOT what I had in mind when I planned it. We had briefly considered returning to Canada to see the remote parts of Jasper, and now I am wishing that is what we decided to do. It would be far less uncertain. Yes, I know the general area we are traveling to is beautiful, and there should be some state parks and other alternatives, but really, we should be able to just look forward to the trip instead of getting that awful sinking feeling every time we think about it. I have enough stress in real life and on the job. I don't need vacation anxiety. I really don't. (And yes, I realize that far worse things will happen if an agreement is not reached than us not getting to do what we want on vacation. Just another reason why this needs to be resolved by level headed compromising! This is not rocket science - raise income AND cut spending. They need to do both. Duh.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Brain Fog, and Other Excuses

A Flock of Seagulls

I haven't been around the blog much during the last few months. There has been other stuff going on. LOTS of other stuff. Here is my list of excuses:

1) Work - busy days, long hours. Frankly, I don't want to look at a computer once I get home some days. Been there, done that all day, too tired to care.

2) Summer is peak gardening season. This year I declared all out war on the monkey grass that we inherited when we bought this place. It might have seemed like a good idea in 1965, but monkey grass spreads all over the place, including our "lawn" which is mostly a collection of stuff that is NOT grass of any sort. So around Memorial Day weekend, I started ripping out huge beds of monkey grass and replacing it with nice plants that mostly stay where you put them. This coincided with the onslaught of perpetual heat waves, so I had to get up early to do this and it was still pure hell. I also upset a bunch of yellow jackets who had an underground nest in one of the monkey grass beds and got stung. They got blasted with Raid. I win.

3) Lots of doctor visits and tests. I've had some hearing loss and tinnitus in one ear since last October, and ignored it until April, when I started getting vertigo. That was scary and demanded immediate attention. The good news is that I don't have a brain tumor (they did an MRI to check). The bad news is that I have something called Meniere's Disease. They don't know what causes it and there is no cure. Awesome. Anyway, the primary method of managing symptoms is a low sodium diet (<2000mg, which is less than one teaspoon of table salt). Which brings me to #4...

4) Learning how to cook all over again. Almost everything in our standard repertoire of meals has too much sodium for me to eat. So we had to start nearly from scratch. Adapting some recipes (with mixed success) and making new stuff from some new low sodium cookbooks takes more time than we used to spend on meal prep. This diet also greatly limits where we can go out to eat, so we are obligated to do more cooking at home, and much more work is involved. Nearly everything we eat now is fresh, frozen, or dried. NOT canned, cured or processed. If we want sausage, we have to make it ourselves. Ditto for pizza - we have to make that from the dough up. Have to use dried beans, not canned (there goes spontaneity). It is really amazing how much sodium there is in EVERYTHING. I have become quite the label reader. Even cheese is a problem! Bacon, sausage, pickles, olives, cheese, salty snacks, canned goods, soups (unless homemade), fast foods (including my beloved chick-fil-A), breads, condiments, soy sauce, and most common snack foods - all on the bad list.

5) Not feeling well - vertigo takes it out of you. Ditto for stress and migraine headaches. Some days I come home and go straight to bed. Most of my symptoms have improved with the low sodium diet (the hearing loss seems permanent), and I am losing weight and feel better overall. But I still need to crash about once a week due to whatever.

6) Other interests - been doing some photography stuff (finally getting my last vacation shots - like the one with this post - processed and posted on Flickr), reading (not as much as I would like), catching up on our backlog of DVR stuff, vacation planning (happening soon, and we are not ready yet), and I've already mentioned the garden projects.

7) Hanging out other places on the internet - I started a separate blog about the new low sodium lifestyle, and also joined Google+ (both as my very own non-anonymous self). So those are dividing my attention. If any of you are on Google+ (other than the two of you I already know about and have in my circles) let me know in comments or email me - I am fermicat at both gmail and yahoo.

8) This is not really an excuse for not blogging, and maybe it is a result of the valium I have to take to "suppress my central nervous system" in an attempt to calm down the vertigo, but I am turning into a complete airhead. Absent minded doesn't even begin to describe some of the stuff I do now. It is almost comical. But also kind of sad. I used to be fairly sharp. Now... not so much. And kind of clutzy as well. Running into walls, falling UP stairs, etc. Not fun, and a bit embarrassing (and bruise-inducing).

So... in a nutshell: work, monkey grass, medical tests, learning to cook from scratch, feeling crappy, doing other stuff, being myself on the internet for a change, and brain fog are my excuses for not doing much blogging. How about you?

Photo info: A flock of seagulls crosses the rising sun at the beach. Amelia Island, Florida. Aperture f/8, 1/400 sec exposure, 55mm focal length. January 3, 2011

Monday, July 04, 2011

Freedom Is A Light For Which Many Men Have Died In Darkness

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Have a happy and safe Independence Day.

Take some time out to remember the many souls who sacrificed and died to make our country free.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square (Philadelphia) honors those who died in the Revolutionary War. The tomb itself is inscribed with: "Beneath this stone rests a soldier of Washington's army who died to give you liberty."

This square was used as a mass grave on many occasions beginning in 1706 and continuing through the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793. Paupers, soldiers, common citizens and criminals all lie co-mingled underneath the square. The area was cleaned up and named for George Washington in 1825. In 1956, one soldier was disinterred and placed in the memorial tomb to represent all. The statue, tomb, and memorial were erected to honor both George Washington and the unknown soldier.

An excellent overview of the history of Washington Square can be found here.