Sunday, April 9, 2017

Oh, the Places We'll Go!

Apologies to Dr. Seuss for blatantly ripping off one of his titles. A friend commented a few days ago that she looked forward to reading my blog posts from our next trip. I guess I had better get back in practice.

I chose the above title because of its relevance to our upcoming trip. We all (well, most of us) have a mental list of places we would like to visit. In my case, I have such a list but in the mental in-basket atop that list has been my list of places I will go. It's a short list, and after the upcoming trip I can mark it as done.



At some point in my early childhood, there was an article about Angkor Wat in National Geographic. I remember looking at the photographs and reading the article and deciding I would go there someday. In fact, when the husband called me to ask if I'd like to spend a month in Vietnam, my answer was can we go to Angkor Wat before or after that month? It turned out that he had had the same thought. We spent several days there, and it was one of the highlights of that trip and not just because it was the start of the rabies world tour.



I have no inkling how Iceland made the places I'll go list, but it's there. We've actually been there twice, both times in search of the aurora borealis or Northern Lights. The first time was for our 25th wedding anniversary and we did, in fact, see a pretty weak aurora on the anniversary day itself. We went back last year on a cheap fare quick trip and saw the most incredible aurora, shown in the photo above. I did not take said photo. I was too busy watching it. Having been to Iceland now twice in the winter, I am actually not sure I'd want to go back in the summer. It's less crowded in the winter, and there's just something magical about being there in the snow.

I made the final entry on the places I'll go list in high school, after seeing classic photos of Machu Picchu in Spanish class. And that's where we're off to on May 22. We're not doing this on our own. I decided a long time ago that this was one trip I wanted to do right, which for me was not worrying about the fine points. We picked a tour company that limits its tours to no more than 24 people. The fact that they handle alumni trips for more than a few universities suggests that they do a decent job. You can see the details on our tour here.

While we're leaving the trip itself to a tour company, there is lots that we've been getting ready. Things to buy such as a burner laptop, walking sticks that come apart to pack more easily and that can double as a camera monopod, lightweight soft-sided small duffel bags, maximum-strength insect repellent with DEET, and permethrin to treat some of our outerwear. We've filled prescriptions for anti-malarials (and let the kind folks at Virginia Blood Services know that they won't see us as donors until sometime later than June 5, 2018). We both got tetanus boosters. I've had a typhoid shot; Blaine has typhoid pills to take before we leave. We're headed to the UVA Travelers Clinic tomorrow for yellow fever shots. We still need to pick up over-the-counter anti-diarrhea something and get some prescription antibiotics for any nasties that we encounter in our food. And to stop any questions in the comments section, I am not getting a rabies vaccination. If I happen to get bitten by a dog, I know what to do all too well.

Someone advised we get a prescription medicine to take to help prevent altitude sickness as we will be going to Lake Titicaca some 12,500 feet above sea level. After a bit of research and reading reviews by people who have taken this tour before, we decided to forego that. Everything we've checked suggests that the tour director will know what to do. We just need to know what symptoms to watch out for. The tricky one for me will be headache since I do have the occasional migraine. I will not assume a headache that I get at altitude is a migraine and treat that; I will treat it as possibly due to altitude sickness and let the  tour director know.

This is probably more than anyone needs to know about the trip prep, but I've actually looked back at blog posts from earlier trips when preparing or packing for an upcoming one. In other words, this is as much for me as anyone else.

Circling back to the theme of the places I will go, I've told the husband that he needs to tell me what's on his will go list. Otherwise, our next trip will be to the top place on my list of places I would like to visit, which is Antarctica.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Resolution or Re-Solution?

Over the years, I have often posted resolutions for the coming year--the calendar year or the year that starts six months later, on my birthday. I've done better with some sets of resolutions than others. The past couple of years falls into the former. For some lists, I'm sorry I publicized them here so that I or others could remind me just how few of them I accomplished. Here's my sole resolution for 2017.


I'm not sure I can explain what I mean by that, but if you ask, I'll try to come up with something.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bucket Lists

My mother asked in a recent email if the husband and/or I had made a bucket list. She said that it was too late for her to make one, but she thought we should. While I do have a mental list of places I would like to visit, I would not call it a "bucket list." That term has actually always bothered me. Preparing a list of things to do or see before one kicks the bucket stresses how finite one's existence really is. Crossing items off the list (and there is now even a website where one can post their list, cross items off, and post video of oneself doing things) seems as if you're counting down to the day and time that the last item is crossed off the list and then you answer the door to see a figure in a cloak carrying a scythe. I am compulsive enough that I write out a list of things to do each day the night before. The next morning, I fold the list and put it in my right pants or skirt (on those rare occasions when I wear one) or jacket pocket, not to look at it again except in its folded state as I chuck it into the garbage can at day's end. If I did prepare a bucket list, I would likely obsess about items I had yet to complete. I would not treat it as I do my daily list, the one never consulted and easily discarded. I have enough things to worry about; I don't need one more.

As for the list of places I would like to visit, the top two are Machu Picchu, an Incan ruin in Peru, and anywhere in Antarctica.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Birthday Bling

I recently complimented the birthday tiara of a dear friend, The Other Jean, and look what she left for me overnight! My very own birthday tiara. Heck! I may wear it on days that aren't my birthday.


So I'm wearing a tiara and my "I'm Not Dead Yet" t-shirt from Spamalot, and more people (one) have reacted to the shirt than to the tiara. Go figure. Perhaps someone will comment on it when I'm working out at the gym. I won't wear it into the shower, but I will certainly wear it for my workout.

I always like seeing what The Washington Post's horoscope has for me in its "if today is your birthday" entry. I must remember to ask younger son for his interpretation of it when he arrives this evening. Here's the published version:

This year you have an innate sense of independence. You will have opportunities to make certain situations more to your liking. If you are single, friendship will play a significant role in the meeting or development of your next relationship. If you are attached, check in with your significant others frequently to confirm that you are on the same page. Get behind a key mutual project together, and you might be surprised by how quickly the two of you can achieve that goal. Taurus can be very stubborn.

Seems somewhat rosy, but then an entry saying, "Watch out! You're going to be victimized in the coming year." probably wouldn't fly. I guess the entry above just doesn't seem that different from what I'd normally do.

Those pesky resolutions for the coming year of my life or the rest of the calendar year? I've got a couple but I think that, as older son does, I will keep them private. That will take away the chance of my flaming out in a public forum. I'll post next year at this time or perhaps on New Year's Day how I did or am doing. If I remember to. If I make the time to type something here. (I've resolved to be a more regular blogger before, and it does not work.)

I have been treating myself today, starting with a deluxe pedicure using one of the gift certificates the husband gave me. The deluxe comes from wrapping your calves in hot towels and, later, oiling them and rubbing them with hot rocks. This is pretty darn incredible in how good it feels.


I picked the loudest, shiniest color I could find because it would go with wearing a tiara. (I used a glittery polish on my last pedicure, and you would not believe how difficult it was to remove.) The technician asked if I also wanted a manicure; I declined. Had I gotten one, I guarantee that the polish would be cracked with 10 minutes of leaving the studio if not before or on my way out the door. Manicures are not my friend.

The rest of my birthday? I'm stretching it out to two days. Younger son arrives late this evening. I'm told that he and the husband will be making me a cake. Tomorrow we're having breakfast at the place with the best pancakes I've had since our favorite pancake place closed down. The we'll go to the city market for some tomatoes. I'm getting back into canning, and tomatoes are something I've always wanted to try. In my domestically healthful fantasies, I make spaghetti sauce from scratch using all natural ingredients. I also want to do some strawberry jam. Jam implies bread, and we are now out which means the bread-making is on the agenda as well. I'm trying to limit myself to things I want to do even if they are mundane such as running errands. It is nice to run errands if one can do it at a chosen pace and change the itinerary as desired.

And now? I could balance the checkbook, but that seems more like work. The statement's not going anywhere; doing the act of balancing it can wait. Maybe I'll do the New York Times crossword. Or not. It's my birthday (the 61st one as in I am now 60), and I'll do whatever I damn well please for a day or two.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

About Those Resolutions ...

Can I have a mulligan for recent resolutions such as those I made a year ago or six months ago? A do-over? I don't even want to look back and see what they were. I just know I didn't meet the ones I remember making. I came close on the "run the Charlottesville Ten Miler" one, and I did get a very special medal for running the Jean Ten Miler, but that's only one of several. Oh well (said with appropriate inflection).

Back in March, I reflected on how this has been far from the year I expected. It has since occurred to me that expecting that what I want to happen or do will happen or will get done is perhaps more than a bit conceited. Who am I to tell the deity(ies) that my will be done, not theirs? So let's just say that the year from last year's birthday and the six months from New Year's Day were not what I wanted. I certainly did not want a do-over on rotator cuff repair, especially when it appears that this one was a total tear. In terms of a positive side to the surgery, being unable to do some things I never really got back to after the first shoulder respite is making me realize how much I do want to get back to them, that I miss them more than I had thought. As before, shoulder rehab is making me slow down, but I'm not sure I want to put that forward as a good thing. Slowing down because one has to is far different from slowing down because one wants to. The biggest positive has probably been the reminder of how strong some of my friendships are. I just hope those friends know that if they ever need anything from me, to ask as freely as I may have asked them. That's what friends are for, right?

I go back and forth about whether I should do any sort of resolutions this year. Sixty is something of a milestone birthday after all. I'll potentially have to check one box down on a survey-type question of how old I am. I should be eligible for a wider range of discounts should I remember to ask about them. (I had to show my ID once to prove to the clerk I was over 55.) I don't expect I shall feel any wiser. What besides wisdom is supposed to come with growing old? Nothing immediately comes to mind. Wait! Isn't forgetfulness age-related at least stereotypically? Perhaps that's why I can't recall any other accompaniments of aging.

So, if you're waiting for some resolutions about which you can nag me throughout the coming year, they aren't coming today. I'll still be 59 tomorrow and the next day and even the day after that. Three whole days! That seems plenty of time to go back and forth a bit more.




Sunday, April 17, 2016

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

I do love the opening line of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book even if  it isn't exactly descriptive of tomorrow. It will be a scalpel, not a knife, and there won't be darkness except, I hope, for me. I woke up very, very briefly during my 1982 IT band release surgery and heard the doctor talk about drawing a line on my leg. As it turned out, that was when he was showing someone how to do the actual incision. I am very glad I did not know that at the time.

The husband and I went out for a belated anniversary dinner last night. I suggested we go out while I could still cut my meat on my own. Tomorrow, I revert to the childlike passing of the plate to a parent who slices the meat both ways into neat little squares. On the way home, I mentioned that perhaps the best thing about the surgery is that after, painful and slow though  it may be, I can feel as if I am doing something even if it's just letting my arm dangle and move like a pendulum. There's a long-range goal of getting a left shoulder back. Up to now, the goal has been pretty much don't screw anything up before the surgery, and I've been doing that long enough (I stopped my regular physical training workouts in either late January or the very start of February) that it's gotten pretty old..

Even though I'm looking forward to the surgery, I do have some nervousness. I'd be worried if I didn't. I signed all the waivers with the lists of all the things that could go wrong. I have an advance directive on file even if older son is worried he might have to make the call if the husband croaks in the waiting room while I'm still technically alive. I trust the surgeon. He did my right shoulder in 2014, and I waited for him to be able to do the left, now.

And I do have two special friends in my corner, Bella and Xandra. Bella
is the rabbit, and Xandra is the guardian mermaid pictured on the card. Xandra came to me from a dearest friend before my last shoulder surgery. Xandra normally faces me as I'm using my personal laptop. She reminds me of my friend and that I have a guardian mermaid. Everyone should, really. Bella came to me from younger son's significant other, who had her own shoulder surgery in January. I commented how much I liked the stuffed rabbit she brought with her when she came for the surgery. She ordered a gray one to her brown and gave it to me. Bella is going with me tomorrow. They say that children can bring a favorite stuffed animal, and I certainly can act like a child.

I had a somewhat long list of things I wanted to get done before the surgery. I did this before the last one, too. Nesting, I suppose, since I know I'll be somewhat restricted to the house for the six weeks in which I will be unable to drive. I got the important ones done, though, which is better than I did last time when the big thing left undone was cleaning a somewhat sloven master bath. Until I no longer draw breath, I will owe a debt of gratitude to the person who came over and did that for me. She came over yesterday as well, and helped me with the biggest thing I wanted to accomplish. I moved my entire yarn stash from boxes in the basement and baskets on the main floor to the now-empty bookshelves in the room older son vacated when he bought his own home. The books are still a bit at loose ends, and I have two baskets of patterns to sort. The big thing was getting all the yarn consolidated. I think the husband was so happy to have all the baskets gone from the main floor that he didn't comment on the amount of yarn I have. Or perhaps he was in shock.

So, it's time to enjoy dinner and dessert. There is no way I'm going for more than the 12 hours between midnight and surgery without dessert. Ice cream with toppings for the win! The husband is on tap to email or Facebook friends post-surgery should I not feel like doing it. See everyone on the flip side!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Unexpected Expectations

The title of this post has been bouncing around in my head for some time now, perhaps because a lot has happened recently that I did not expect. I'm trying to think if there's any one thing on that list that I would accept as something positive on the surface, but I'm not having much luck. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

I did not expect to be looking at more shoulder surgery, but it's scheduled for April 18, for the left shoulder this time. I didn't wait as long to go to Sports Medicine as I did with the right shoulder, and they did the MRI up front rather than trying physical therapy or cortisone first. And you'd think I might be in Canada; when I called to set up a consult with the same surgeon who did my right shoulder in 2014, it was five weeks before I could get in to see him. I had been wondering how the "80 percent tear" on the right side compared with the "near full-thickness tear" on the left. The doctor said the two tears were remarkably alike. He said he had to let me know that cortisone, physical therapy, and rest were alternatives to surgery, I replied that while it did feel better since I stopped doing shoulder training after I got the MRI results, I also didn't want to rest it forever. I already have physical therapy set up with the therapist I saw last time, and I know what to expect. At least this time I will be able to sleep in the recliner should I want to do so. The handle to make it go back and forth is on the right side, and I couldn't use it with the right arm being the one in a sling.

I did expect to have run the Charlottesville Ten Miler by now. It's something I've always though I should try, and my 60th year seemed a good time to do that. While I was running on the day before the MRI, it occurred to me that if there was a tear in the shoulder, I would be told to stop running.  So I ran ten miles that day. As someone told me, I ran the Jean Ten Miler. I did pick up the t-shirt, though, just as I will for the 8k race I was supposed to run this coming weekend with a former kendo buddy who started running and lost a bunch of weight. I said I'd run with her, at her pace, and cheer her on for the five miles. Fortunately, she's found some other people with whom to run.

While I knew that it was only a matter of time until older son moved into the house he bought, I did not expect to be turning to say something to him and he's not there. Lots ore readjusting going on for the husband and me, not to mention for the family dog. I suggested older son that he could send me motivating seriously or not things via email, and he has been doing that. He comes home on weekends to have some time with the dog, but it's not the same as it was. It was time for him to make the move out into the world; I just didn't expect to be missing him so much. Except for the shoulder, I would be seeing him at workout every weekday morning, but I stopped going to those even before I went to sports med for the first time.

When the title was knocking around in my head, I thought there would be so many things to be profound about. The difference between theory and practice can be a wide one, and this is as much as I feel like writing right now. I guess I didn't expect that either.