Monday, December 07, 2009

Good Deals

Free MP3s on Amazon
Lots of cool albums, unusual stuff. Install their music downloader and tell it where you want it to send your songs (to your iTunes player or Media Player).
Individual songs and albums.

Arrested Development, the complete series (Seasons 1, 2, 3)
On sale at Amazon, $28.99 plus free super saver shipping

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Vacuums Rock!

I brought home my new vacuum last night. After figuring out a problem (my little turquoise lever to lock the canister wasn't locked), I took off and enjoyed the splendors of my new vacuum.

It's funny how cleaning goes from being a chore to being fun - all you have to do is get a new toy! This vacuum was great, with good suction and my carpet has never felt this fluffy and wonderful before! Plus, even though I was only vacuuming a hallway and a bedroom, I had to empty the dust cup 3 times!! (In my defense, I took about a month researching and procrastinating before I bought this, so my carpet was in need of a cleaning...but heck, we don't wear shoes in the house, but it's still amazing how much crap your carpet can collect.)

It's a Bissell 82H1 Cleanview Helix and I bought it from Amazon for $79, an upgrade from my last vacuum, a hand-me-down $59 Eureka. I love that I don't have to buy bags and that it works on hard floors, too. If it lasts me for 3-4 years, I'll consider it money well spent!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chile Roasting Party

Chiles roasting away...

Under the grape arbor

Apples piled up, like a trough to feed the local elk

Croquet in the backyard

June Wedding

It was so great to go see my friends in California this summer. In June, one of my friends, Jan, got married at the Long Beach Aquarium. We all had a lovely time and the best part was getting to see these gals.

Brett and Julieann (one of my better photos - I had so much red eye!!)

And here is the wedding caption for this photo is: "Here, sweetie, have a drink...relaxxx!" (I wish that I had gotten a better photo of the bride - darn lighting!)

Jan looked beautiful and the wedding was a blast.

Here were some of the cutesy little jellyfish at the aquarium!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Optimist or Pessimist?

I say it doesn't matter whether the glass is half empty or half full - it's whether the glass holds a margarita.

My boss announced today that he is leaving the company in a month's time, much to the surprise of everyone in my division.

As I've visited with folks today, it seems to be a time for worry and reflection. I haven't really seen much in the way of hope from anyone. Perhaps it's too soon to expect that from people.

My coworker said, "Well, I decided I can either be really negative about it or not be really negative about it." I thought that was an interesting take. I pointed out to him that the two options weren't being negative and being positive, but either being negative or having a lack of any emotion towards it.

I told him that it's like saying either "The glass is half empty," or "I don't want to talk about the damn glass!"

I follow the belief that the quickest way to upset people is to mess with:

a. their home
b. their money
c. their children

And right now, in essence, a lot of my coworkers are probably feeling like their money is being threatened.

The other belief that I have is that things eventually work out - one way or another. In about 4 weeks, we'll know how this is going to work out (or at least begin to get an idea).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Momentum & Redefining Priorities

I recently started to use Google Reader to quickly browse through new posts on my favorite blogs and websites. I love to cruise through what's new at Gourmet, Design Sponge, I Will Teach You to be Rich and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, among others.

In one of my quick perusals of new posts this week, I saw one titled The Curse of Momentum. I skimmed the article and felt that it really resonated with me.

It basically says that it is a lot easier to keep moving in the direction you're already going than to stop, reevaluate and change course. So, we either keep going with the flow or we make some changes, put the effort in and see what the payout is.

In alignment with this has been my dawning revelation that buying a new home isn't all that I thought it would be. I thought that it would be this life-defining moment where I would feel an indescribable security and sense of well-being. And really, it hasn't done too much to change my life, besides take away that feeling that I'm throwing away money on rent.

When I figured out that owning my own home wasn't everything I dreamt it would be, I asked myself again: what do I want? And the answer was simple. I want to be in love and I want to travel the world and have amazing experiences.

Now that I've redefined my larger priorities, I have to ask myself, what am I doing to get what I want?

I plan to continue to do a couple of things. First, I will continue to do things that scare me. Second, I will continue to try and meet new people in all different types of circumstances.

Then comes the new things I'm going to try. I am planning on doing an exercise that Wisebread talked about on their post: Feeling Stuck? 100 Ways to Change Your Life. I plan on always trying to experience the feelings of hope and openness to change. And I am going to work on discovering specific ways that I can achieve my goals. (Any recommendations are welcomed.)

Everyday is a new day to embrace life and move forward. And I hope that I move forward in the direction I want, instead of just moving with the momentum.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Moving Forward...with a vengeance!

I bought my townhouse this summer. It's great and I like it. Everyone keeps asking me if I'm thrilled or in love with it, but the simple answer is that it's just another place that I'm going to live for a while. I think that it wouldn't really matter where I'm living, as long as I'm doing it without someone I love by my side, it won't mean as much.

However, I'm very pleased to have my new home and it's one big check mark next to that item on my to-do list.

I am fortunate enough to be able to start another item on my list, as I'm returning to school this week. I'll be in 3 classes this fall, attending through a distance degree program that meets my scheduling needs. I am excited about the challenge of the work and wish that I could devote myself to school full time.

Last week, my mom visited and as a housewarming gift, bought me a bedroom set. I was pretty excited about seeing new furniture in my bedroom. It was the first time I've ever had a new bedroom suite and it's awesome. I especially like my new bed, it's so nice and firm.

I am thrilled with the direction in which I'm moving in my life. It just feels good to make goals and be able to accomplish them!

Monday, August 10, 2009


I, like others I know *wink*, haven't been keeping up with blogging.

So, here is a brief recap of the last several months:

Bought my first home (it's a townhouse). Replaced all of the plumbing, painted a wall and moved in.

Work has been frustrating. However, I'm enjoy the fact that 1) I have a job and 2) I have friends at work.

I applied to a college and should be starting classes soon, again working toward my bachelor's degree.

I've decided that I really need to start dating because I'm feeling very motivated to have a companion.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Life With Bees

One day at work recently, a coworker told me that one of our custodial staff members keeps bees. Mehmed was telling the people who work in our offices about his "second job," because he was pitching his honey.

He and I struck up a conversation about it the next day and he explained that he was increasing his hives this season. He said that by the end of the season, he would have 100 hives. And those hives would produce about 5 tons of honey. I don't know much about bees or keeping hives, so I'll have to trust his figures on the amount they can produce.

After hearing his projections, I was curious to know where he lived. I wondered where can you keep that many bees? He described where he lived (not too far from my office or my apartment) and I immediately found myself asking, "Can I come see your bees?" I don't think I could've stopped myself if I wanted to.

I have always loved bees, and always felt that they were good luck. I remember once as a child finding a bee dying in the gutter next to my house. It had stung something and would suffer the inevitable consequences for that. But it upset me so much that day. I didn't know if it was in pain. I went inside and found one of my small prized possessions, a white cardboard jewelry box with flat cotton padding in it. I made a little bed for the bee, while probably poking at it a little too much, until it died. I remember crying over that bee and eventually burying him in the box in the yard.

Above: hives all riled up after Mehmed pulled 2 combs per box to start new hives.

Above: honey combs, full and new.

Now, as an adult and a lover of all things food related, I see the real value and luck of having bees around. They are essential to the way of food life as we know it. And since they've been dying out from various problems at an increasing rate in the last decade, a part of me longs to answer the call to raise my own bees in my own yard. Granted, I may end up buying a condo or townhouse and have no place to keep bees, but I get absurdly lucky and end up with a single family home, Mehmed has already promised he would teach me how to keep them.

Above: a tree that died last year cut into 3 sections, with bees living in them.

Mehmed and his wife Fatima are refugees from Bosnia, fleeing years ago during a time of war. They ran from Bosnia directly to Boulder with their three children and have never left. Mehmed previously was a mason, and has various stonework projects around his home as proof. Included in these is the brick fireplace, or as I see it, a brick oven. It is built into a small building next to his garage, the chimney poking out of the roof. Fatima has baked bread and other various goods in the oven, while Mehmed uses the building to smoke meats.

As you walk into his yard, we saw stacks of hive boxes. Mostly they were unoccupied but it didn't stop bees from swinging by, confused, wondering if this is where they should come and drop their loads of nectar. On opposite sides of his yard, there are garden plots holding a plethora of green onion and spinach plants. When we eventually headed home for the day, Mehmed sent me and my neighbor home with bags stuffed full to the point of stiffness with spinach and green onions.
Above: the scene you see when you step into their yard, stacks of hives, ready to be occupied.

After we spent quite a bit of time discussing the bees, including how to start new hives, watering systems (bees will drown in pool type arrangements), frames & combs, and extractors, we sat down with cool beverages and just chatted. We cut into a piece of smoked beef (that I had so forwardly asked Mehmed to let us taste - I know it was rude to ask, but I couldn't stop myself!) and sat in the shade chewing the tough meat and feeding the yipping dogs at our ankles. Once, one of their short dogs managed to jump up and steal a piece of beef from my fingers, teeth scraping against my fingertips, before I even knew what happened. I guarded my meat much more carefully after that. The meat was smoky, tough and chewy and had enough fat content to leave a light layer in the mouth.

Above: chewy, tough, smoky beef.

Fatima came out and handed Mehmed something that looked like a stainless steel pepper mill, said a few words in Bosnian and went back inside the house. Mehmed started to grind the handle of the contraption and when asked, answered that it was a coffee grinder. He showed us how the coffee comes out as a fine powder in the resevoir at the bottom. He explained that they grind the coffee to the finest setting, size zero, because they do not filter the coffee. Fatima came back and retrieved the grinder and went off to make herself some coffee. Or so I thought.

In reality, Fatima was making us some coffee. When she came back out 15 minutes later, she had a tray with a small pot of coffee, a smaller pot of milk, Bosnian sugar cubes (which were white sugar but had a finer texture and less processed taste than American sugar cubes, along with a cruder shape), a set of small espresso style cups and saucers and honey, of course.

While we continued to enjoy the afternoon, discussions moved to family and children. My neighbor and I dutifully shared photos of our only children, which inspired Fatima to go inside and retrieve a photo of her three daughters (who are grown) from when they were children. She tried to find the words in English to express some particular sentiment and when she failed, waited for Mehmed to come back out of the house to help her. Finally, when he returned, she was able to tell us what she couldn't before. The photo of her children, when they were perhaps between the ages of 4 and 8, was the only photograph that they were able to save from being burned in a fire in Bosnia.

I knew that there was a larger story there, but we were on the verge of leaving after staying for 2 1/2 hours and I wasn't ready to push into their past that much (see, I have some boundaries). I can only guess what kind of heartache they must have left behind when they came to the United States.

As we left, I realized that it was the most pleasant and fun afternoon I'd spent in a long time. I went home and made fresh biscuits the next morning so my son and I could enjoy the honey in a way that would honor the freshness of it.

There is something about getting a fresh product made in your local area that makes it inherantly better. I savor it, knowing that it was labored over by a neighbor, produced with care and affection. Every time I eat this honey, I see Mehmed, enjoying the companionship and work of caring for the bees in his yard. And it is sweeter with the memory.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pizza Margherita

From Gourmet magazine's January 2009 issue.

This pizza was full of simple flavors that got better the next day. If I could find some San Marzano tomatoes, I think I'll try those next time.

Pizza Margherita

yield: Makes 6 servings

active time: 35 min

total time: 1 3/4 hr (includes rising time)

The secret to a great pizza Margherita is to use the best ingredients you can find—and to approach them with restraint.


For dough:
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup warm water, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

For topping:
  • 1 (14-to 15-ounces) can whole tomatoes in juice
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 basil leaves plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Equipment: a pizza stone

Make dough:

Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl and let stand until surface appears creamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t appear creamy, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Add 1 1/4 cups flour, remaining 1/2 cup water, salt, and oil and stir until smooth. Stir in enough flour (1/4 to 1/3 cup) for dough to begin to pull away from side of bowl. (Dough will be slightly wet.)

Knead on a floured surface, lightly reflouring when dough becomes too sticky, until smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form into a ball, put in a bowl, and dust with flour. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours.

Make tomato sauce while dough rises:
Pulse tomatoes with juice in a blender briefly to make a chunky purée.

Cook garlic in oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until fragrant and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Add tomato purée, basil, sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and cool.

Heat pizza stone while dough rises:
At least 45 minutes before baking pizza, put stone on oven rack in lower third of electric oven (or on floor of gas oven) and preheat oven to 500°F.

Shape dough:
Do not punch down. Dust dough with flour, then transfer to a parchment-lined pizza peel or large baking sheet. Pat out dough evenly with your fingers and stretch into a 14-inch round, reflouring fingers if necessary.

Assemble pizza:
Spread sauce over dough, leaving a 1-inch border (there may be some sauce left over). Arrange cheese on top, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border.

Slide pizza on parchment onto pizza stone. Bake until dough is crisp and browned and cheese is golden and bubbling in spots, 13 to 16 minutes. Using peel or baking sheet, transfer pizza to a cutting board. Cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with some basil leaves before slicing.

Cooks' notes:

•Dough can be allowed to rise slowly in the refrigerator (instead of in a warm place) for 1 day. Bring to room temperature before shaping.

•Tomato sauce can be made 5 days ahead and chilled.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Glenwood Springs

Last week, we went to Glenwood Springs for a couple of days. It is known for their warm pool that uses the water from the springs. It was lovely. They have one large pool that is just nice 90-93 degree water and then they have a separate "therapeutic" pool which is about 10 degrees or so warmer than that. It was so relaxing.

We also hiked up to the old cemetery where Doc Holliday is buried. Here is the view of the town from the half way up the mountain.

And here are the markers erected for him. It was very interesting to see that many of the old markers included the number of years, months and days that the person lived. I guess they counted it down to the last day since they didn't live as long. The earth there is so red, my tennis shoes were caked with thick red clay.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Coyotes in the Night

Tonight I hear so many dogs and coyotes calling that it's hard to count them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Good news...and more good news!

Okay, the first and best news: I don't currently have any signs of ARVD, so I'm off the hook for about 2 years. Two years isn't that long of a reprieve, but I'm so relieved to know that everything appears to be okay. It's like having a potential prison sentence delayed.

The second and still really good news: I have a date on Friday! I'm letting my hopes get too high this week that it might be a good date. However, the way I'm looking at it is, chances are, the date will end up sucking and the anticipation will have been the best part. So, I'm letting myself be giddy for 2 more days.

I have also selected a lender for my home purchase. I ended up talking to 6 people in total, and went with the one who I liked financially as well as personality-wise. I am going with Countrywide, which is in the process of being bought out by BofA.

I selected this gal because
1. she was friendly and not condescending
2. she was proud of the work she'd done for her other clients
3. she enjoyed telling me how she watches the rates very closely and locks in when they're at their lowest (she locked in some 4.25 rates back around Thanksgiving - the rate was only that low for about 30 minutes and she was on it!)
4. she says that she'll work with me on the closing costs to make them be what I need them to be
5. our personalities work well together
6. she brought in a rate among the lowest
7. it only helps that she says that BofA is buying them out - I always liked BofA
8. she is local and seems to know plenty about the business in this area

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Shopping for a Mortgage

This last week I have started to talk with lenders about a mortgage. I used Lending Tree and I also asked friends to refer me to their banks/brokers.

It has been an interesting process so far. I have received four responses and none of them are exactly alike. There are 30 year conventional loans, loans with origination fees, FHA loans, etc.

But, what I've learned a few things.

First, some brokers and lenders can get lower rates than others. Period.
I compared a conventional bank's rates for the same day to another lender's and saw a .375% difference. That is money - my money - and I care. If you can't get me the lowest rate, we probably won't play ball.

Second, rates change quickly (especially in this market).
If you have to get quotes, do yourself a favor and tell the lender, I would like to get a good faith estimate based on interest rates current at (date and time). That way, you can see what rates all of the places have, side by side. If you get some quotes one day, and then a few more a couple days later, the market may have changed enough that the rates are different for all of the lenders.

Third, the lender's fees are what you are really going to be comparing (right after the mortgage type, if you have points or origination fees).
This is the place on the estimate is referred to as the 800's. (All of the lenders fees fall onto lines in the 800 numbering range.) One lender might have fees of $1120 total, bottom line. Another might have fees of $1650. The only difference is that one is taking a bigger commission for themselves. Keep your good faith estimate, they should stick pretty close to these charges.

And last, don't be afraid to ask.
Ask questions, even if they make you uncomfortable. Ask what this fee is, and what exactly it's for. You will probably get an honest answer. If it's easier for you, I would recommend emailing the lender, so you can phrase things very nicely.

Wait, this will be last thing. If a lender doesn't have the right kind of customer service attitude - dump them.
There is simply no reason, especially in this market, for a person in a customer service oriented job to not offer good customer service. I don't like when people assume I know nothing or provide a half-assed quote because they can't be bothered.

The players so far in my quest for quotes are:
Cherry Creek Mortgage Corporation
Bank of the West
RMC Vanguard Mortgage Corporation
Southwest Direct Mortgage

Joining the game soon:

Friday, March 06, 2009

House Shopping

I'm going house shopping tomorrow!

Ok, realistically, I'm probably more condo/townhouse shopping, but hey, it's all good.

I've been waiting for this day to come for so long. I thought it would have come sooner, but I'm afraid I took a detour called marriage a while back.

I'm so excited! I know that the places I'll be looking at won't be too terribly beautiful or nice, but I don't care. I'm going to try to remember to take photos of the places for my memory, so maybe I'll post them up here. Just think, by the time my lease is up at the end of July, I could be the proud owner of my own little spot on earth.

And just to make sure I start my day off right, after I visit with my friends, I'm going to get a massage. I'm a very happy girl!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cautiously Optimistic

Well, another minor delay came yesterday in getting my diagnosis. The doc who was supposed to read my MRI results has been on vacation all week. My doctor didn't realize this until I was already in the office (had already paid my $50 copay, of course).

So, he called the hospital and someone else gave him the opinion that my results looked "perfectly normal." So, while I'm going to get an official answer from the guy who specializes in diagnosing this disease, it is still very reassuring to hear that another cardiologist thinks my results are normal.

I have this feeling of duality - I am relieved but also keep thinking, "Are you sure?" I guess it's disbelief.

Once I get the all clear next week, I will rejoin my gym, try to cut back on eating so many frozen pizzas and try to get out of the funk I've been in.

Right now (smiles), everything is good.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Finally - finding love again

I realized recently that I've begun to find love again. I'm starting to see the good in the world all the time.

I think I used to feel this way, but after going through a divorce (or maybe a better explanation is going through a not-so-great marriage) and then having a couple more men act like huge egocentric assholes, it's taken a while to regain this vision of the world (especially towards men).

I'm so glad it's back. Life is much more enjoyable with love in your heart.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cardiac MRI

I went in on Friday to get my cardiac MRI. When I got there, they had me use the restroom and change into a gown.

They asked me if I'd ever had an MRI before. I answered, no, and they responded, "So you decided to start with the longest one, huh?" I couldn't believe it, but it would end up lasting almost 2 hours. In the tube.

After they assured me that they were not kidding me, they explained the process in detail. They spoke in low, calm voices, as if I were a skitterish horse and might bolt at any moment.

Since the order was for a cardiac morphology with and without contrast, they put in an IV line before I was slid into the tube. I asked Siegrid what it was that they inject into me to allow the contrast. She said that it was a rare earth element, a metallic fluid.

Once in the tube, there was a computerized program that told you when to breathe in - hold your breath - and then, relax. I had to hold my breath for approximately 15-20 seconds at a time and got maybe 5-7 breaths in between. This lasted for about 1 1/2 hours. Then, they injected the fluid, and had me hold my breath for a full minute (I lasted about 2/3 of the time, then slowly released my breath).

I kept falling asleep (yes - in a tube with loud banging noises that made it so I had to wear ear plugs) for a half second at a time. Then I would start suddenly when the machine made a noise or the voice instructed me to 'breathe in.' I would hastily breathe in, trying to catch up, my heart beating a little too fast because I was caught off guard.

When it was all over, I was stiff from laying so still. I was so glad to be done, glad that they could see the results right when the test was happening, so they knew it was successful. Glad that soon, I would have some answer to the question running laps in my mind: am I at a higher risk of sudden death?

This Thursday, I will know.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Under the Influence

I am under the influence. It's comical. I can see it clearly. I listen to a motivational/inspirational CD and I'm ready to conquer the world (I guess that means they're doing the job, right?). I read a story of someone who defies the odds and I want to, too.

I guess that my response is normal. The only thing that isn't exactly average is the pain the butt character trait that runs in my family. The desire to make money. To somehow break out of the regular 9 to 5 lifestyle, and live free...traveling and dining and kissing the cutest guys. Ok, the last part is an embellishment, but I want it still.

So, my sister got me going this time. She told me about a book she's reading (it's on my hold list at the library now) called the Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.

So, since I knew I would be waiting for his book for a while, I decided to check out his website. People who write books like this always have a website. And usually, the website is full of free, helpful information. Tim's website is definitely like this. He writes about all sorts of things: recommendations for becoming more efficient and effective, travel, how to lose weight or gain muscle, etc.

One of the ideas that I like is the definition of New Rich. I'm not sure who originally coined this phrase, but it's a concept that I'm sure will ring true with many.

It's not the millions of dollars that I'm after. It's the flexibility in my time, the ability to go travel, having a nice car, owning a home and financial security that I really want. That a a drop-dead gorgeous boyfriend who worships the ground I walk on.

And Tim talks about defining what you want and determining what it would cost to get exactly what you want. And, amazingly enough, it is less expensive than you think to get everything you want - if you go about it the right way.

I recommend his website to anyone looking for a new take on life. His own life stories are interesting to read and often times very entertaining. Check out the From Geek to Freak page. The title alone makes me laugh.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Postponed, AKA Dealing with Insurance Companies - Yech!

I was all set to go to my cardiac MRI this morning. My doctor's office had called me last week to tell me that the insurance company said no precertification was required. But the hospital wasn't buying it. Apparently, this type of procedure always requires precertification. So, they called my insurance company to get it.

Long story short, I got involved this morning, found at least one more problem and had to reschedule my appointment to Friday.

What a pain. However, since I'm battling a bit of a cold/sore throat/sinus issue, I thought, perhaps it's better that I'm not trying to stay still in a tube.

On a brighter note, my dinner on Valentine's Day was excellent. Medium rare steak, cooked to perfection, haricots verts, and baked potatoes with butter and sour cream. Delish!! Add in some limoncello and life was excellent.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Robotic Once More

I went back to my doc's today. I kept sensing all sorts of small ironies about my visit. I would ramble on about them, but even I think that they're better left unsaid - they probably wouldn't make much sense to anyone else anyway.

I had an echo done (basically an ultrasound of the heart), and the technician was nice enough to tell me that everything looked good. My mitral valve prolapse hadn't changed, in fact it was very minor that she wasn't sure that she'd even call it that. It was wonderful to hear that.

I also had the Holter monitor reapplied (this time with pads for folks with sensitive skin - nothing like removing a bunch of stickers from your body after wearing them for two days, only to look like a terrible circular sucking leech has gotten ahold of you). I'll wear it again for 2 days.

Erin, the nurse applying the Holter, told me that they'd gone through and checked all of the cards in the monitors since mine had failed. She said it was rare for that to happen, and was apologetic. Somehow, I told her, it doesn't make me feel any better to know that I'm going against the odds, considering the odds of the disease we're looking at.

She also mentioned (like several of my coworkers) that Valentine's Day is tomorrow. I told her the same thing I'd told my coworkers. Ugh. Valentine's Day is a black holiday for single people.

Unless I can meet someone - anyone!! - to catch my interest in the slightest. I wonder where, statistially speaking, the best place is to meet a single guy on Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"For as much as I've been showing my boobs...

in the last two weeks, I wish I were getting laid."

That was what I said to the two girls placing the sticky leads on my body for the SAECG this afternoon.

SAECG stands for signal averaged electrocardiogram, which is basically like a regular ECG (or EKG as some folks know them), but in a high-def kind of way.

I went down to University of Colorado Hospital, a big sprawling place, which looked pretty new. They are about 45 minutes away from me, but apparently, since this test is so rarely given, they're the only place around with the machine anymore.

I asked how often they performed the test and they said about once or twice a month. In fact, I think the reason that I had two nurses there was because one was learning how to do it because she'd never seen it before. And they said they'd been working together for a long time.

This was the third test out of the five that my doctor ordered for me. I did a stress test on Monday (I told my boss, I don't need a test, I can tell them - I'm stressed!). The nurse told me all through it that my heartbeat looked good and my blood pressure was good. My pulse did get up to over 180 bpm, which was pretty darn fast. But after I sat down, I could feel that I was having a lot of irregular heartbeats and could see them being recorded on the machine. My nurse didn't make any comments after that.

I have my echo on Friday and my MRI scheduled for Tuesday and then I'm done. By Wednesday next week, I should have a good idea of whether or not I have the heart disease in question. It's like Christmas in reverse. The waiting is so hard and I want time to go by faster, but I'm afraid of what I might find on the other side of this week.

Friday, February 06, 2009

I Feel Like a Robot!

I went to my doc's office yesterday and got a Holter monitor placed on me. It basically consists of 5 leads (just stickers, with really good adhesive) placed on your chest in varies spots and then wires connected to them that join together into one plug and go into a small device. The computer device is about 4.5 x 3 x 1 inches in size and right now it sits in my jeans pocket.

It will record all of my heart activity for about 48 hours, at which point, I'll remove it and it will shut off. There is a small button on the top that I press whenever I feel like my heart is doing something funny, which kind of highlights that area in the readout to bring it to the doc's attention.

When they first put it on me, I was feeling very self conscious. It felt like someone was watching me and it was difficult to relax. I hesitated on pressing the button (I've learned that I have issues with expressing when I feel funny/bad, like I shouldn't tell others) initially, but now just go ahead, figuring, it won't hurt if they don't see anything special. Yesterday, the wires hung below the hem of my shirt and I felt like a robot, accidentally exposing my terrible android secret to the lowly humans surrounding me - would they rise up and kill me?

So far, I've managed not to pull off any of the leads, even in my sleep. I only have to wear it until tomorrow around 1pm. Thank God. Because I need to shower!! I can't stand having to skip a shower if I've sweated and we've been having glorious weather for a couple of days. Which means I've perspired. One day down, one more to go.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

You Smell Good Enough To Eat...


Anybody who knows me knows that I have an extreme fondness for cheeseburgers. I don't know exactly why, but they are heaven when they're good.

So imagine how much this tickled my funny bone when I saw it:

Yes. You too can smell like a flame broiled Whopper, courtesy of Burger King. Only $3.99, it can be found at Ricky's.

ARVD Dr. Visit #1

I went in to see my cardiologist for our initial visit. I was pleased with my experience.

Dr. Oza had me explain my family history leading up to my trip to talk to him. He was very thorough, asking for copies of autopsy reports and anything else that I might mention while I told the story.

He then told me what his experience is with ARVD. He has about 10 patients out of his entire clinic that have ARVD. He said that this number is a very low percentage of his patients (which is good that he told me, since I have no baseline). He says that he probably has more than anyone else in the Boulder area because they are all referred to him. (This is comforting.)

He told me what approach he would like to take (which basically matched the recommendations from Johns Hopkins). He told me that he'd like me to do a bunch of tests and then evaluate them, using contacts from Tucson (another place where they specialize in the disease) to confirm the findings, whatever they may be. He also said that if I wasn't comfortable with that, that he would be happy to provide a referral to either Johns Hopkins or UofA in Tucson.

So, I have four appointments already set up (echo, stress test, 48-hour Holter monitor, follow-up visit with Dr. Oza) and two more to schedule (SAECG and cardiac MRI). I have to get everything done by 2/18, when I go back to see my doctor for a follow up visit.

I mentioned to him that once I started to discover that I'd need to undergo testing, I'd stopped going to the gym (I was going 5-6 times a week) and stopped drinking my one lousy cup of coffee that I enjoy each day. He smiled, told me to go ahead and drink my coffee. But not to go to the gym until we have figured all of this out. I knew that, but it still freaked me out to hear him say that. I just feel like I'd been taking my life into my hands with every trip to the gym and I never even knew it. Oh well, I guess that's's more about what you don't know than what you do.

Friday, January 30, 2009

When is exercise not a good thing? When you have ARVD.

About 8 years ago, my grandmother died. She had smoked and drank her whole life (always had a Bud in her coozee), so nobody was surprised when they said she had a heart attack. And my grandpa said it was a blessing in disguise because they'd found cancer in several places as well.

Last August, my cousin Donna died. Suddenly. At age 40, leaving behind a husband and children that she'd home schooled. When we heard about this - we were all shocked. After all, Donna was only 9 years older than me, a young person still.

When her sister Robyne started to look into her sister's cause of death, listed as ARVD or arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (with mitral valve prolapse listed as a contributing factor), she learned that it is a genetic disease, inherited from a parent. Of course, this meant a lot more investigation and testing to see if Robyne was affected, too.

When she started to do research, our Aunt Terry pulled out grandma's autopsy report and told Robyne what was listed as the COD. Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia. If we had known and been tested 8 years ago, Donna would still be here.

ARVD is a rare heart disease that causes fatty or fibrous tissue to develop where normal heart muscle should be. The abnormal tissue interrupts the electrical impulses being sent to your heart, telling your heart to beat. It is a progressive disease (gets worse with time) and about 75% of the people who have the disease will develop symptoms (which is a really high number). Everyone who carries the disease, which doesn't discriminate between the sexes, has a 50% chance of passing it on to their children. Again, this is a very high number and not very comforting.

Because having an arrhythmia greatly affects the chance that your heart might misfire, there are particular things you are told not to do. Exercise, or other strenuous activity is the first thing they eliminate. If you've ever heard stories of a healthy 20 or 30 something who suddenly dropped dead, this is probably the disease the killed them. Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and even cold medications are limited.

To diagnose the disease, a person would undergo about 6 noninvasive tests. There is no one definite test that can be performed to tell if you have ARVD. Rather, it is a set of symptoms and indicators taken as a whole that diagnose it.

The most common treatment for a person with ARVD is to be put on a beta blocker and have an internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD) installed in their chest.

My cousin Robyne had it confirmed - she has the disease. She was put on beta blockers and just had an ICD installed.

My sister and I will be going through all of these same tests to see if we, too, have this disease. As it stands now, I was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse and PVCs a couple of years ago. I can only think of Donna's autopsy and how mitral valve prolapse was a "contributing factor." And how PVCs are a symptom of ARVD.

It changes your whole perspective on life. You feel like you might drop dead at any second. It's difficult to go to sleep, especially when your heart is beating erratically from the stress. You feel every heartbeat thudding and wonder if it's going to stop suddenly. And if it does, will you have time to dial 911?

I have cancelled my gym membership, until I get this all straitened out. I find myself I buy a house or do I run away to Europe to enjoy life before it's gone?

I think of the words I recently read in a book - I can't die now. I haven't even lived yet.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Anatomy of a Romance Novel

I've been reading some romance novels lately. I find their structure and patterns reassuring with their predictability.

I decided that I should write down a few of the things that I've started to recognize in romance novels for my future reference. I wonder what it is like to write a book. I like writing in general, but find the idea of writing a full length novel or any sort daunting.

Nonetheless, here are my observations to date.

1. There is a strong female heroine. (I believe that this may be because more women than men read romance books and it is more appealing to women to have their character written as smart, attractive and brave - usually to a fault.)

2. The men are hot. (Why else would we read them, right?)

3. The men are usually macho, strong (physically and mentally), but also have something that needs to be healed. And of course, the heroine in the story is the only one who can heal him.

4. There is usually some big obstacle that one of the main character's must accept about their lover, and their lover is terrified that their partner either a. won't believe it or b. won't accept it and will therefore leave them. (They never do.)

5. The sex is always the best, most mind blowing sex they've ever had. (But I've realized it doesn't sound too different activity-wise than the sex I've ever had in my life.)

6. There has to be a situation where they face losing each other because of forces outside of their control.

I can't think of any more right now...I'll update this list later if I can recall anything else.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obtaining a Salvage Title in Colorado

I am living through a very interesting experience. I brought a car from California to Colorado

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Green Chili

There are certain recipes that I've always wondered about. Wondered if I'd ever really make them or know what makes them so dang tasty (especially when there are lots of variations).

Green chile is one of those meals that have been an enigma to me. Maybe it's just because I've never been around someone who would cook this type of food, maybe not.

I have a coworker who is quite the dynamic man. He is a tall, slightly older, masculine guy with a sarcastic and, at times, pun-filled sense of humor. He looks like he might ride Harley's (and does) and doesn't like to take too much crap from people. On the other hand, he loves his wife and loves to cook, especially spicy foods.

Last week, he brought in a little bit of green chile and shared with me. It was the second time he's done this, probably because he knows what a food nut I am. So, at lunch, I asked him how to make it. And I loved his answer.

He told me how to make it, exactly, well, sort of. There were no measurements, just the process and ingredients. But my brain really likes this sort of recipe. I understand it, so it sticks with me longer and easier. So, forgive me if I don't give exact measurements. Perhaps in the end you will understand green chile just like me, which is even better than a perfect recipe.

1 pound meat:
I like pork, but basically, the rule is that you want to find about 1 pound of meat that will be fairly tender after being pan sauted and then stewed for about 30 minutes. Because I couldn't find a small pork butt/shoulder roast, I settled for a pork ribeye roast. It cost me about $7 at Walmart for a 2.25 lb roast. I cut off just under half of the roast to use for my chile and threw the rest in the fridge for another dinner.

Cook meat and then cook onions (1 small chopped), garlic (2-3 cloves minced):
I trimmed the big fat and cubed the meat. I cooked the meat over medium heat in my dutch oven, in a little bit of vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Once it was browned, I took the meat out and set it aside, added a bit (2 tablespoons) more veggie oil and threw in one diced small onion and a few cloves of minced garlic. Cook until the onion is softened a bit, but don't burn the garlic.

Add jalapeno, spices; then add flour for a roux:
Add in one chopped jalapeno, some oregano, a tiny bit of cumin, salt and pepper. Next, add in a couple of tablespoons of flour and cook until the raw taste of the flour is gone, but don't darken the roux.

Add stock, crushed tomatoes, chiles:
Next, add in about 1-2 cups of chicken stock (depending on how thin you like yours, I only did one cup and figured I could add more if I wanted it later), a can of crushed/diced tomatoes and your chiles. I used a package of roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped chiles from Walmart...they were in the freezer section and they cost $3.50 for 30 ounces. I used half the bag in my stew. Stir the bottom of your pot with your wooden spoon to get the nice fond up off the bottom (the brown coloring and bits stuck to the bottom of your pot from cooking the meat and stuff).

Add the meat back in and simmer for about 30 minutes or so, until the meat is tender and tastes a little more like the stew.

It is a very nice basic recipe that you could alter very easily, depending on your tastes.

Eat, Pray, Love

I think they could replace the title of the book I'm reading from Eat, Pray, Love to Fast, Slow, Slower.

This book is broken into 3 parts and perhaps it's my own enjoyment of the topic in the first section that made it more enjoyable. The author decides to take a year's journey, going first to Italy, then to India and finally to Indonesia. The reason? She is unhappy in her life after a difficult divorce and the realization that she doesn't want the things she thought she was supposed to want (kids, etc.). She has started to explore a spiritual side of herself and finally decides to make the trip.

The first leg of her trip, in Italy, is to spend 4 months experience pleasure. If you take into account that she's sworn off sex at the time, I think you could revise her goal to be something like, make friends, learn Italian and eat lots of great food.

Then, she is going to India in order to find and explore her spirituality. She goes to meet her guru at her ashram. This is where it's starting to slow down a bit and frankly, lose my interest. I guess it doesn't help this author any that I've just read about 10 books that have action, drama, love, sex and vampires. (See what Twilight started?)

And lastly, she goes to Indonesia to live with a medicine man that she met there the year before, to learn how to join the two ideals: pleasure and spirituality.

I think that many people have loved this book. But, on the other hand, I think that many people have been like me and my friends. The book starts well and then slowly -SLOWLY- goes downhill to a point where all of the momentum is gone.

I will finish reading the book however, to give it a fair chance and a real review. Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and have to amend what I've written. I certainly hope so (or it's going to be a boring week).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Where are all the cute guys in Colorado?

I'm beginning to miss the vacuum that I once lived in called Southern California. With the film industry, beaches and glorious year-round weather, the area attracted many very beautiful people.

At times it could be annoying. There were days that I knew if I never saw another blond with fake tits I'd die happier. But there were good sides, too. Like when you go to a restaurant and the waiter, host and cooks were all gorgeous. It would be dinner with a view.

Ever since I moved to Colorado, I find myself wondering if this is what the rest of America looks like. I can't help the fact that I'm not attracted the the guys that I've met here...but boy they want to take it out on my and tell me how shallow I am, etc. I would be more affected by these comments if they weren't talking to me based on the fact that they like my looks. Pot calling the kettle...well, you know.

I'm going to start spending some time in Boulder, because that seems to be a place that has more attractive folks. We'll see how that goes. Better than going to church and meeting someone and then admitting I'm a hypocrite.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Daydreaming for Mental Health

I was thinking, trying to figure out what to write about today. Then I realized, what I'm really doing is daydreaming.

The next question in my head was, well, that's not so bad, right? I went to my main resource for research (the internet) and googled daydreaming. Within the first 10 webpages, there were multiple that were articles discussing the benefits of daydreaming. I glanced at a few and here is what they generally say:

Daydreaming helps you deal with problems and stress. It can help you find solutions to problems. It can help you maintain better relationships. It is the mind's natural state of being. Letting oneself have a little time to daydream results in higher productivity.

And one of the articles also mentions the fact that the guy who worked for 3M who created the Post-It note, daydreamed it up while sitting in church one Sunday.

I think I'll keep daydreaming and trust that the positive side effects will benefit us all.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Gargoyle

I've lived 1/3 of my life (if I'm lucky). I try not to think about how long I might live or how tenuous our grasp on existing sometimes proves to be, but one of the books I'm reading made me start pondering this again.

Last night, as I lay in bed, trying to tuck in a few more pages before I put the light out, I got to a section in my book that shook me. The character in my story, whom I don't really love or hate at this point, was in car crash (because of his hallucinations due to drugs and alcohol) and was burned very badly. He is found and taken to the hospital and there he is in the burn ward, with too much time on his hands and all-too painful procedures to endure.

So, he decides that all he is doing is playing along with the doctors, pretending that he cares about healing. While in reality what he's really doing is acting until he's well enough to be released, at which point he plans on killing himself. It's very early in the book, so I have to imagine that he doesn't end up doing that...besides there is an interesting plot development that I see coming.

But something that the character thinks about his currently planned impending doom got me thinking. I don't know if there is an afterlife, but one day, I'll get to find out. And that, more than anything else, terrifies me. Not enough to make me pretend that I believe in some imaginary afterlife to make myself feel better, but more than anything else I can think of.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

First Attempt at Running

I guess this is the second thing I've done this year that "scared" me. (The first was going on another internet date.)

My friend and I tried to run on the treadmills at the gym. I know, it sounds silly to be scared of running, but I was. I get worried that people will see somehow that I'm not a runner (and perhaps tell me what I'm doing wrong). I also worry that I'll be SO out of shape that my helpless panting will scare people into calling emergency medical personnel.

When it came down to it, I walked for 10 minutes, ran for 4 and a half minutes, walked for 5 more minutes, ran for 5 minutes and then walked for another 13 minutes. Total time was 37 minutes and I felt good when I stopped. I was sweaty and felt that good kind of tired. I am going to do this some more!!

This makes me feel better about adding the slight twist to my #1 New Year's resolution. Instead of simply not letting fear stop me from doing things, I want to do things that scare me. So I can train my brain and my body that it will be okay. Once my brain and body are retrained, I think I'll be able to face so many more scary challenges.

On one hand it sounds frightening, but I'm also so looking forward to some new found freedom.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Time for a new calendar

Many times, especially now that I'm working, I don't care about having a regular wall calendar. But this year, I feel that I have enough going on that I'll need to be able to visually plan it all out.

I feel like I'm looking forward to certain things so much that I'm missing on living in the moment. Because what else do we really have in life but right now?

But even though I do believe that, I think that it's also important to have things to look forward to. I have asked some of my friends if they made New Year's resolutions, but once decided to ask someone, "What are you looking forward to this year?"

The answer surprised me. They didn't really know what they were looking forward to. Hmm. Huh. I don't get get it...? Seems like if you're not looking forward to anything it might mean that you don't have hopes or dreams. How could that be?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Random Thoughts

Thank you, Stephenie Meyer, for giving me a happy ending. Now I can always imagine that I'm Bella and I have my Edward.

Fifty degrees tomorrow - ahhh, something to look forward to.

I want to have good dreams tonight. Dreams of hot weather on sandy beaches, a king sized bed and a big, strong man...knowing what occupation would be fulfilling.

Off to bed.

View from my window

Here is the view from my window this morning.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

First Date of 2009

Tonight I went out on my first date of the new year. I met T online, by responding to his personal ad on Craigslist.

We went out for a cup of coffee. It was very interesting. He is about 1 inch shorter than me, and probably weighs less than me. He was friendly, but nervous and self conscious. I felt a little bad for him there, because for whatever reason, I felt very comfortable most of the time.

He is about my age but has lived a completely different life than me. He is a recovering alcoholic and has been sober for about 3 years. He also quit smoking recently.

He was a little quirky, kind of a thinker, and definitely different than I was expecting. I learned on my first date from the computer (last year), that the best thing to do is not decide or tell each other if you want to see each other again. I think that you should wait until you go home, think about it, feel it out and see what your gut says.

I don't know if I would be romantically interested in T or not, but at least I know that I would be comfortable hanging out again. We'll see what he thinks. You never can tell.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Boy, there is a part of me that hates making resolutions. Maybe it's the simple fact that I've written some resolutions in the past and haven't necessarily followed through with them.

It's embarrassing to say the least, but I guess that I shouldn't let that stop me from trying again. Which brings me to my first resolution.

1. I will not let fear control my choices. (This one is an all encompassing subject. I could actually just leave the list at this one and feel like my bases are mostly covered.)

2. I will not avoid doing things out of laziness.

3. I will be open to change.

My list was actually a lot longer when I started writing them down this morning, but then as I typed, I realized that these 3 are all I need. I often wonder what it was in my younger life that made me who I am today.

I find that I sometimes think and rethink things and hesitate to take action because of fear. I become afraid of losing what I have, of looking stupid, of stepping outside my comfort zone. And I hate it.

One way or another, I am going to find a way to change my life. Now.