Sunday, November 28, 2010

Socks Appeal

The second pair of socks, which I'll hopefully finish up this weekend. I love the self-patterning yarn, it keeps things interesting because the pattern unfolds as I knit, I never really know what a given section is going to look like.

Yarn: Schoeller Stahl self-patterning sock yarn. Pattern: Classy slip-up on size 0 needles.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Giving Thanks

The Before....

Table set, flowers arranged, food prepared, waiting on the turkey to finish up and family to arrive.

And The After:

Great food contributed by everyone and nuclear family: Mom, Dad, Wilson, Joe, Scott, Carrie and Day. Thankfulness all in one room!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Everyone deserves a special treat on Thanksgiving, even Baby, the late-season squirrel pup who has cleverly figured out how to hop on to my "squirrel-proof" bird feeder. Normally I'd chase him off and re-apply the butter I put on top to deter him, but today he will be allowed to stuff himself like the rest of us.

Enjoy, Baby, for tomorrow you will be relegated to scrounging on the ground, like the rest of your kind!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Importance of Being Earnest

As someone who is old enough to remember days before the internet and online communication, it's interesting to think about how dramatically things have changed. We now have access to each other 24/7; we can see what friends are doing at any given moment on FB or Twitter; research a topic at any hour of the day or night and get up-to-the-minute information on our bank accounts and stocks. We are able to look up friends we've lost touch with, find others who share similar interests and meet people from across the globe. The world is at our fingertips.

Written communication is now the norm. No longer do we need to sit down, put a pen to paper and drop it in the USPS mailbox. We don't even need to pick up the phone and speak directly to a person: for a short communication a text will suffice and letters have been replaced by emails.

With this ease of communication comes a host of problems. When things are put into writing much of the context is lost: there is no face-to-face interaction which gives a large part of meaning to the words that are said. Something that might obviously be a joke when told in person could come across as a nasty remark without the hand and facial gestures that would have accompanied a verbal exchange. Misinterpretation is easy when reading others' comments.

Another tendency is to put everything out there: every emotion, feeling, interaction. What used to be saved for a personal journal with an individual's most innermost and private thoughts is now published on the web for all to see. Is this healthy? Who's knows? I do think that because we're typing into a computer and not having a conversation and looking into another's eyes we tend to overshare and say things that might otherwise be saved for a private personal conversation.

I've also noticed that we don't hesitate to put into writing things we would never say to someone in a face-to-face conversation. It's much easier to be blunt and honest to the point of rudeness when you're not looking at the person you are "talking" to. Perhaps it's just because I am of the generation that is accustomed to communication prior to the internet that my skin is a bit thinner than those who grew up with this technology. It could be that in another 20 years everyone will be telling each other "like it is" and nobody will think much of it, and I just need to evolve with the times.

Personally, I'm going to try to make it a point to not say anything over the internet that I wouldn't say to someone in a face-to-face conversation. Call me old fashioned but I'd rather not have every detail of my life flapping in the wind for all to see, nor would I like to be someone who is blunt and inconsiderate of people's feelings by telling them things about themselves that they probably won't acknowledge anyway. Walking away is still a good option, even if it's a virtual walk-away by clicking the "close" button.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Skill Set

I'm proud of my mom; she's someone who has, for the larger part of her life, not had any medical issues. I think she has done amazingly well in mastering the skill of how to navigate the medical system under challenging circumstances.

My parents are part of the generation which saw their own parents live out their lives only visiting a doctor if there was a dire issue: Broken bones, surgeries or a catastrophic illness. Most things either resolved on their own or the person died, simple as that. No routine screenings for colon cancer, no yearly pap smears or mammograms. It's no wonder the medical system can be difficult to navigate- many illnesses, tests and reasons to visit the doctor have come into being only in the past 40-50 years. My parents' generation has had no modeling for this aspect of their lives and are now having to set precedence for the rest of us.

Just knowing when to call the doctor is a challenge. What symptoms are concerning? What is normal, what's not? How does one find the best care for their particular situation? What makes a good doctor and how does a patient find one? None of this is taught to us and, unfortunately, it isn't something that comes naturally to most people.

Medicine is 75% science and 25% art, in my opinion. It's more than just looking at lab values, numbers, test results. It takes some creativity to weave all the information together with the information gleaned from the patient: how they are feeling, how their illness affects them, treatments that are going to fit in with their life. It's not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. Two people may have the exact same diagnosis, but with very different presentations and treatment plans.

Over the past few years my mom has faced an increasing number of medical issues, which she has handled with grace and good humor. She's a medical challenge requiring numerous experts and specialists, all of whom really need to work together since one change in medication can cause disastrous results. The learning curve has been steep- it's not easy to go from a healthy, active person to someone who needs to see a number of doctors, sometimes on a weekly basis.

I'm so happy she has a good care team in place, with most of her doctors at one facility, which both my parents are truly impressed with. Cooperation seems to be the key there, and an effort is made to accommodate the patient. For example, if tests are ordered they are scheduled at the time of other appointments, saving the patient a trip back in.

It's never easy navigating a change in circumstances, especially in terms of health, but I feel confident that my mom is in very good hands and can add that she is a top-notch patient. Definitely one of the more challenging aspects of life to master!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Acupuncture Part Deux

The acupuncturist I see is located in the town next to mine, on a dead-end, narrow street in a home from the 1860s. Parking is non-existent so cars must be left on the street prior to turning onto the short road. As I walked down the street I saw 2 men standing outside the acupuncturist's home; one was holding a dog on a leash. I smiled as I approached and said hello.

The older of the 2 men asked why I was smiling and if I was there to be massaged or poked. Poked. He asked why. Did it help? Why was I going? In the past I might have felt put on the spot or even tongue-tied, but I honestly didn't mind his questions. I told him being poked was something I was open to and I wanted a complement to traditional medicine. Yes, I thought it did help. This was my second appointment and I probably wouldn't have come back if I didn't think I was going to benefit. He made some joke about needles being placed in my face to make me smile and I said "who knows?" as I knocked and entered into the office.

Office sounds like too formal of a word, though. The entryway is more like a comfortable foyer with nice scents, soft music and 2 low chairs. Shoes are taken off. Tammy led me into a second treatment room, this one different but just as lovely as the one I was in last time. We discussed how I have been feeling since my first session. I gave her a list of my medications, something I had forgotten last time. We reviewed them together; she asked quite a few questions and explained my medical problems from an Eastern perspective.

The table was just as inviting and comfortable as the one in the other room. Needles were first placed on the back side of my body and left for 20 minutes. About half way through the time I felt an urge to lower my shoulders, a very natural feeling. I was in a deeply relaxed state and hovered just above sleep while remaining aware of my breath and the music.

Flip over and then the front with another 20 minute rest. This time I felt a clear sensation of my sinuses opening up. Very cool! I hadn't been having any pain or pressure but they felt much more open, as if there was a lot more air moving through them. There was some post-nasal drip following this sensation.

At the end of the session I was again left with a sense of peace and well-being. I'm not sure whether it's simply the amount of time gone by that has helped my acceptance of the new medical issues or if the acupuncture is somehow contributing. I'm just happy I feel more at peace with things. Tammy mentioned she feels that I'm following my true path and that the universe wants me to be around for a good while. Now that is a diagnosis I like!

My next appointment will be in 3 weeks because of the Thanksgiving holiday and already I'm looking forward to it.