Stress Nightmare About Stress

I have nightmares very rarely. This morning, I think my dream qualified.
I was at work, at a design review meeting that I was simultaneously not invited to, but everyone was there. The review was about our company website and not a building. I found that interesting, since web design is something I'm a little more conversant on than the initial design of a building. Plus, there were some cool programs they were using that I knew nothing about. For some reason, some of my friends showed up too, and I found it difficult to tear myself away from a gathering that I found so interesting. I really had to, since I had a ton of work to do at my desk, but I didn't manage it until the very end of the dream, when I yelled at some architect of the community for delaying me (it took him *forever* just to take a picture of me and a friend). To top it all off, I needed to pick up my mum at the airport and I had no idea when she was getting there.
When I awoke, I realized I was failing in three ways. I was failing my family, since I couldn't fulfill my commitment to help my mum. I was failing my job, since I wasn't getting the actual work done that was on my desk, despite being at work. This is a very real concern of mine, as I have been feeling less than effective at work. Oh, I've been getting stuff done, but I've not been getting enough (in my opinion) done.
And most interestingly, I was failing myself. My interests, technology and design, were not being fed. I felt extremely sad that I: a) wasn't conversant about the programs being used for the web design and b) wasn't being included in the process. I thought I was supposed to be at my desk producing work and not dilly-dallying with the design or the functioning of the office. I say "I thought" because there was no evidence that this is what the managers of the office thought.
I can still feel the weight of the dream pressing on me. "I really shouldn't be writing this in my blog, I should go to work early," I'm thinking. I'm temporizing. I woke up an hour early, so I'm using half of it to write this here and the other half to go to work early.


Knee Update

My doc is pleased with my progress towards healing. He said that I was doing better than he expected, as he had thought the tear was worse than it turned out to be. I was surprised, since he hadn't let on at all during the previous visit. It's good to have a doc who doesn't weigh you down with negativity. He also was pleased that I had gone to an acupuncturist, which was another positive point in his favor.
He said that if I proceed sensibly with my recovery, there should be no increased chance of injury once I return to my usual activity.
So, I'm doing well!

I also did a tai chi set for the first time since my injury tonight. I took it easy and was careful with my weight shifts. All in all, there was no pain, but my knee got achey by the end. It feels to me that tai chi is a good way to continue to improve the strength and flexibility of the knee, so I'm going to pick up my usual twice a week schedule, but do it carefully.

(Satisfied, Mum? ;)


A Concert I Nearly Missed

A couple weeks ago, I won some tickets to see John Hiatt and the North Mississippi Allstars. I asked several friends to go with me, but everyone was busy. It seemed not very efficient to ask people one at a time, so at the beginning of the week, I sent out an e-mail to family and friends in the area. Still no takers. People were either busy or didn't know who he was. That last is understandable, as I didn't know who he was either when I won the tickets.
How did I win the tickets, you ask? My buddy, Rachel, found out I had never been to Red Rocks for a concert. Not content to just arrange an outing to a concert or one of the Film on the Rocks series, she wanted to win us free tickets to a Red Rocks concert. She entered me in a radio (KBCO "select-a-set") contest. My entry did not win on the week she sent it in, but the next week, when the prize was different - the John Hiatt tickets.
So, I could get no takers to go with me. I even tried giving away both tickets, as did Rachel - still no takers. By Friday, I had given up. I didn't feel like going by myself and I was considering going to the venue at concert time to give them away. Then, I got an email from Kat: "did you find someone to go with?" Hurrah!
Yesterday we went to the Irish Snug, had a drink (beer for her, hard cider for me) and an appetizer (a yummy cheese quesadilla), then went to the concert. We got there early enough to get a really good standing spot at the very front. We did not get there early enough for the seated spots at the mezzanine level. My legs and my knee got really tired by the end of the concert, but c'est la vie.
The concert was great! The backing band, the North Mississippi Allstars, also played as the opening act, and I would go see them even on their own. They were obviously having a wonderful time playing together and the on-stage chemistry was great. When John Hiatt started playing with them, the chemistry continued to shine. He obviously took a lot of pleasure in the younger musicians' joy in music. They played long and hard and the notable songs were two that were made famous by other singers ("Riding with the King" by Eric Clapton and BB King and "Thing Called Love" by Bonnie Raitt), whom he thanked for putting his daughters through school, and two that I've heard him sing often on the radio ("Perfectly Good Guitar" and "Have a Little Faith in Me"). I found a really good review of the concert when it played in Orlando. It pretty much says everything I would say.
I had a great time, and I have to thank Rachel for winning me the tickets and Kat for accompanying me. Thanks, guys!


Fun Times at Lakeside

My friend, Rachel, discovered I had never been to the Lakeside Amusement Park here in Denver. She promptly organized a field trip, which was yesterday evening. It was a heck of a lot of fun. The park, originally called White City (presumably in honor of the Chicago World's Fair (1893), also called the White City), has been operating since 1908 and has old rides that give you as much fear about them breaking down as they do designed-in-fear. My guide was Rachel's son, Benton, who is 9 or 10. His mom and little sister, Ava (5), had to go on the kiddie rides, so he and I went on the big rides. We did the "Wild Chipmunk" (opened 1955) three times, the "Cyclone" (opened 1940) once, the "Scrambler", racecars, "Skooter Boats", "Matterhorn" (which I know I've ridden at Boonesboro Days), bumper cars (not the ones pictured, thank goodness), and some devilish thing that swings upside down. Fortunately that one was last. I thought the going upside down was fun but my stomach did not.
Some other people from the office came: my old officemate, Dee, and his two kids, Benjamin and Jonathan; also Scott and his fabulous girlfriend, Colleen. Because Benton wasn't amenable to sitting still, I didn't get to talk to them as much as I would have liked, but we have plans to go to Elitches Amusement Park together later this summer. I had lots of fun and hope to go again. Best thing of all, it's inexpensive and not crowded. If any of you are interested, just give me a call!
I couldn't resist including this photo. Note the fields beyond the roller coaster. My house is now located in the fields to the right (though off the picture's view). Cool, huh?


Disappointing Truth

Sometimes people are as shallow as they appear.



Alternative Medicines

I've already talked about my friend, Paden, doing Reiki energy work on my knee. That seemed to help a lot.

Then, on Tuesday, when I went to tai chi, ostensibly to check up on how the class was doing, but I admit I took my tai chi clothes along, "just in case" I could manage to participate. I couldn't, but a friend of mine suggested I go up and see the acupuncturist on the second floor of the same building. I did and he said, "well, let's do something about that right away." So, he poked me with some needles and temporarily made the pain diminish considerably. It came back that evening something fierce. When I say I was in pain, I'd like to clarify that it's not my knee that was giving me sharp pains (it aches when I over use it). It was my calf muscle that was tense and painful. Wednesday I decided not to wear the ACE compression bandage, as I disliked the side-effects, most notably increased swelling in my whole leg. I may have been putting the bandage on too tight, but what do I know - no one's ever shown me. As usual, my calf was stiff in the morning, but by the end of the day, it had loosened up to the point that I had reached with the acupuncturist - dull ache in the calf and knee, but able to walk without a limp. I don't know if it was the acupuncture settling in or the omission of the bandage, but I like it. I am going back to the acupuncturist today, for a followup session.

Also, I got my mum's promised herbs and oil yesterday. It's an Ayruvedic oil that is rubbed on the joint once a day. I faithfully did it yesterday and today. That might also be part of the improvement. Thank you, Mummy!

I'd like to point out that as a topical blog, this won't always be about my medical issues. I promise! ;)


Rebuilding Libraries

Here's a good deed for you:

Donate books (or money) to libraries in Mississippi that were damaged by Katrina last year.

Dewey Donation System has set up a way to send books from each participating library's Amazon wish list. It's cleverly set up and donations will be much appreciated by those hard hit by the hurricane.

I donated the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud to Saucier (children's) Library in Biloxi, Mississippi. I don't know if I've ever read it before, but the three books caught my eye and the author's name sounds familiar. I think I may have read something of his at one time.

Being an invalid sucks (plus, you don't count)

... get it? Invalid? [ba da bump]

My knee's getting better. I can put weight on it with no problem. The problem comes when I have to bend it a lot, like to walk up or down stairs. I went to a street fair yesterday and my knee aches today, but that might also be because I am not wanting to take Tylenol constantly.

Well, I couldn't resist going to a jazz concert in the park. I was tempted to go to my team's soccer game afterwards (to watch, NOT play!), but did resist because it was late, I was tired, and my leg hurt.
I am not a good patient.

Also, I now know that I'm a Tylenol addict. This evening, I couldn't find my bottle and felt a little panicy. Thankfully I found it.
At least I'm not popping Vicadin like Dr. House. ;)


What's up, doc?

I love my doctor. Not love as in marry ('cause if I married him, he couldn't be my doc anymore!), but love as in he-does-a-great-job-and-his-manner-suits-me.
He greeted me as one would a friend and I filled him on the status of previous issues before explaining the knee. He did some tests that surprisingly hurt very little. The diagnosis? I have injured my cartilage. That's generally a bad thing, as torn cartilage usually requires surgery. The good news is that I'm healing well already, so it's probably a very small tear that won't require surgery. Here are a few relevant points I found on a Knee Injury site:

"Meniscus cartilage does not heal very well once it is torn. This is mainly because it does not have a good blood supply. The outer edge of each meniscus has some blood vessels, but the area in the center has no direct blood supply (it is 'avascular'). So, some small outer tears may heal in time, but larger tears, or a tear in the middle of a meniscus, tend not to heal. "

BUT, read on...

"Non-operative treatment: Small tears may heal by themselves in time. Some tears which do not heal do not cause long-term symptoms once the initial pain and swelling subside, or cause only intermittent or mild symptoms. In these cases surgery may not be needed. You may be advised to have physiotherapy to strengthen the supporting structures of the knee such as the quadriceps and hamstring muscles. "

I have many friends to thank for the good advice about how to treat it. The site had this to say:

"When you first injury your knee the initial treatment should follow the RICE formula: rest, ice, compression (with a bandage) and elevation. This, combined with painkillers, helps to settle the initial pain and swelling. Further treatment may then depend on the size of the tear, the severity of symptoms, how any persisting symptoms are affecting your life, your age, and your general health."

And guess what? That's exactly what people told me to do! What great backseat doctors I have! ;)

This morning I feel ok. My leg muscles are a bit tight from the inactivity. I found a replacement for my tai chi duties. I wasn't able to baby the knee quite as much yesterday as I would have liked, but this evening should be pretty quiet. I'm hoping my friend Paden will be able to visit again and do more Reiki work, as I believe it helped a lot.



I've been hurt playing soccer before. I hurt my hand a couple (?) years ago when a ball hit my thumb and hurt the ligaments there. I also had a nerve pinch in my back that was exacerbated by playing soccer. Thankfully, my masseuse Aunt Ruth helped me with that one.
Now, I've hurt my knee. I stopped suddenly when running forward and my knee bent wrongly to the side (it felt like backward when it happened, but the ref said it was to the outside). The worst part was that I had to stop playing. My team was short on substitutes and I had to sit on the sidelines! :(
I iced it during the remaining game time and a friend helped me off the field and to the car. Many friends gave me much needed advice. I'm not practiced on this kind of injury at all. I am doing the RICE mnemonic (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) and my friend Paden (thank you, Paden!) did Reiki energy work on it yesterday. I am doing much better today than I was yesterday. I can put weight on it, when I couldn't yesterday. I am a little worried because I can't bend it as far as I should be able to.
I am going to the doctor this afternoon and will report on what he says.

A special thank you goes to my sister, Aileen, who came over and made a couple dishes for me that should last throughout the week. I strained my knee too much on Sunday night when I was going up and down stairs to do about four loads of laundry. The pain I felt that night convinced me that standing around cooking would not be a good idea. Aileen answered my call for help, angel that she is. She made beef curry (English version) and "Sonoma Chicken Salad", which has chicken, grapes, pecans, and a dressing made of mayo, poppy seeds, honey and cider vinegar. I had it today for lunch on a bed of greens and it was yummy! The curry, which I had with basmati rice and mango chutney was delicious too. Thank you, Aileen!


Am I a "Foodie"?

I'm not sure.
I went to a chili cookoff yesterday with some friends who were in the restaurant business. We talked about food and I certainly enjoyed the conversation, but it made me wonder later how I fit into the spectrum of food eaters/thinkers. I'd heard the term "foodie" before, but am I one?
First, we must look into the definition. Wikipedia (an online collaborative encyclopedia) says that "foodie" is a conversational synonym for "gourmet." And a "gourmet" is: a person with a discriminating palate and who is knowledgeable in fine food and drink. Well, that's a pretty exalted sounding definition. I wouldn't put myself up there. That would be equating myself with someone like Jeffrey Steingarten (a restaurant reviewer and a regular judge on Iron Chef America and the fact that I know who he is does add a mark or two in my favor). I do not think of myself as a gourmet.

I *do* like food, though not to excess. I like cookbooks and have to stay away from the bargains tables at bookstores because they're loaded up with cookbooks with interesting pictures. I like reading blogs about food (Megnut and Grub Report, for example) and websites about restaurants (Alinea, where I got the fabulous picture above). I like thinking and talking about food, much in the same way I like thinking and talking about writing. My attitude toward food is probably best described by using an example of chocolate. I love chocolate, but I'd rather have a small amount of a good quality chocolate than any volume of a mediocre quality chocolate. It's about quality and moderation, though it is tempting to want to be like a hobbit, with 9 meals per day. Our family tradition is to graze on Christmas Day (a dining style I prefer to Thanksgiving Day's sit-down-and-pig-out), but it's just not my habit to think about eating all day long.
The other aspect about my attitude toward food is that I like cooking for others. I enjoy having dinner parties and making food to take in to the office. I'm working on presentation of food and I do think about dinner parties quite a bit.
I'm beginning to think that it's not so much about eating, but more about appreciating fine food and seeking out knowledge about it. In that respect, I am a foodie. I would not say I am a gourmet, as I don't have enough knowledge yet, particularly with wine. Let's say I aspire to be a gourmet one day.


In the trough

Like a wave swelling and falling, my emotions dipped below equanimity today. Yesterday I felt great because I got some nice compliments on my appearance and had the lovely honor of having two far away friends comment on my last post within 24 hours of posting it. Today, in the middle of the day, someone reminded me of... well, let's just say an instance a few months ago when my jealousy got the better of me. The situation is gone, but just being reminded of it made me feel sick to my stomach again. It's bad enough to have experienced it once, but to relive the pain just from the memory of it... I just don't understand emotions sometimes.
Anyway, after work, I went grocery shopping. My heart wasn't in it at first. I didn't really feel like eating at all, so to plan something to eat was a bit of a challenge. I did find a couple things, and I tried to focus on the moment (my usual escape from dwelling too much on the past or the future). Then, the Universe helped me out. The store music started playing an instumental version of John Denver's "Annie's Song." It's one of my favorites, not only because it's got my name in the title, but because the words are so beautiful and the sentiments it speaks of are those I wish to have in a relationship someday. It focused me on what I really deserve in life, not what I see in others' lives and want for myself. It's a fine distinction, but an important one.
In the end, the Universe gave me another little reward. I had thought about buying a DVD for myself in Costco ($19), but decided to wait. And in Safeway they had DVDs "buy one get one free". So I got two classics - The Great Escape & The Magnificent Seven - for $10. Life is good.


An Unintentional Hiatus

I'm not sure how it happened, but I seem to have dropped the blogging for a couple weeks. Big apology to my readers, all two of them.
In the interim, I've had my annual Spring Dinner (pictured), made breakfast for the office, and gone camping at Rocky Mountain National Park.
Ok, well, I guess that explains the haitus.
The Spring Dinner was a success. Seven guests and I enjoyed a full meal of Argentine food, including sangria, empanadas, milanesas, chorizos and bread, grilled steak, green salad, ensalada rusa (potato salad), flan and gelato. The grill was acting up a bit, but we ended on a good note with the yummy desserts. I was much better prepared than last year (in fact, my sister and brother-in-law came over to help but ended up not having much to do), but the grill problem was frustrating.
My office has "donut day" every friday. An employee is assigned a week to bring breakfast for the entire office. Often that turns out to be donuts or bagels, but every once in a while, a culinarily-gifted employee will bring in a full breakfast. I happen to be one of those (big suprise, eh?). I made four different kinds of fritattas and mini chocolate croissants and served them with bagels and orange juice. This may seem like an unfair trade for what sometimes is a breakfast of a couple dozen Safeway donuts, but I get great enjoyment out of cooking for people and I only have to do it about every six months or so. I like being known in the office as a good cook.
And finally, last weekend I went camping with some good friends of mine. We camped for two days at Rocky Mountain National Park. The weather was lovely. It was hot in Denver, but at the higher elevation, the heat was blunted to a very pleasant level. It was a bit cool at night, but nothing a cozy sleeping bag, a thermarest, and a wool blanket couldn't handle. This year's annual camping purchase was a little gas stove and some camping pots. My first year not mooching hot water for breakfast! Yay! I had some of my favorite camping foods: bacon and hot chocolate for breakfast; summer sausage and cheese for lunch; steak, potatoes, and tomatoes for dinner; s'mores for dessert. (Krissy mastered the art of the s'more during our two evenings by the campfire.) We went for a short hike, but mostly lounged about and relaxed. It was nice to get away, but it was also nice to come back to my handsome boys (Martin pictured).
During the camping trip, Kevin asked about blogs and I revealed that I have this one. Wendy then described it as "pretty normal." At first, I was a bit taken aback. "Normal?" That's like saying "boring," isn't it? But, then I turned my ego down a notch or two and had to admit to myself that yes, this blog is pretty normal and no, that doesn't mean it's boring. At least, not boring to people who know me. I hope. ;)