Tuesday, July 30, 2013


It's obviously been awhile since I've posted about my dogs, and since I spent an hour at the vet with Small Dog after work today, the dogs are on my mind. So...

Mr. Dog is now 13 years old, which means he is considered a senior citizen. As such, his eye sight is faltering but still sufficient for day-to-day life. His hearing, on the other hand, is almost completely gone. He can no longer hear my commands to go outside or to get in his kennel. I have to flail my arms around to get his attention (if he is awake) or nudge him (if he is asleep). The most complicated part is that he was never particularly good about being quiet on command and now he is even worse. I have to holler at the top of my lungs for him to even know I'm making a request. It's best to remember that when the windows are open. No need for the neighbors to think I'm trashy (or abusive). Otherwise, he's as healthy as one can hope for a senior dog.

Small Dog isn't so lucky. Sometime over the winter she developed an allergy. Her skin reacted horribly and became infected (both bacterial and fungal). She scratched and chewed and lost patches of fur. She flaked, she smelled, she was greasy and gross and of course, she was quite uncomfortable. At the first trip to the vet they quarantined us in an exam room until they could get the results back that it wasn't scabies (it was not, thankfully, scratch, scratch). The receptionist even came in to retrieve my credit card and then ushered me out the entrance to avoid any interaction with other dogs in the waiting area. We went home with anti-fungals, steroids, and special shampoo (she received a shot of antibiotics while at the vet). And she got better.

Then she got worse. The meds ended, but I kept bathing as instructed. I tried benedryl (with the vets permission, of course). By the time I took her in again, the microscopy revealed her skin infection was twice as bad as the first visit. This time we went home anti-fungals, steroids, and antibiotics since the infection was too severe for the single shot.

Tonight was her follow-up. The vet and I discussed a maintenance plan, since obviously her allergy is too much for shampoo and antihistamines to control. It's amazing what a difference the meds make. I hadn't realized how it had affected her personality since it happened so gradually, but she became clingy and whiny and anxious. Now she's bouncing around the house again, willingly goes outside, and scarfs down her meals. Clearly she's feeling better!

(Small Dog wrapped up like a burrito en route to a campground. The blanket makes all the difference for her when it comes to traveling.)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Morning Walk

This morning I went out to Second Home Nature Center for a walk around the lake. It had been far too long since my last visit, as is often the case these days. I had only taken two or three steps onto the trail before I was close to tears from relief. It is part of my blood, part of who I am, but sometimes I forget how badly I need to spend time there.

After my walk I stopped into the building to renew my membership. Maybe I can start fitting in the occasional walk after work like I've done in the past. And for 50 cents I picked up a novel from the used book rack. Not bad.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Counting Steps

I've been thinking about what it takes for me to meet my goal of 10,000 steps per day (especially today when I know I won't be able to due to evening commitments). I lead a sedentary life. I sit at a computer all day, then I relax on the couch in front of the TV all evening.

My suburban lifestyle is very car-oriented. I need to drive everywhere because there isn't much within walking distance. There are no sidewalks in my neighborhood. So if I want to get in 10,000 or more steps every day I have to do it deliberately. They don't add up on their own like they would if I lived in a city.

So here's what it takes for me:
  • 20 minute walk from my car to my office
  • 15 minute walk during an afternoon break
  • 20 minute walk back to my car
  • 25+ minute walk around my neighborhood
    • (Substitute: mowing the lawn once a week)
On Saturday I try to take a longer walk somewhere more interesting than my neighborhood (preferably a local nature center or park). I almost never meet my goal on Sundays because I spend the day with my husband who is not a walker.

It's not hard, but it does take time and effort.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


One of my informal goals for the future (how vague am I?) is to consume more protein. As I've mentioned before, I have never been a fan of eating meat. I don't care for the taste of any warm-blooded animals, and it actually turns my stomach if I think about it too much. I do not like the idea of eating other beings with eyes and feelings. Not to mention the environmental impact and the absolutely wretched conditions found in factory farms. That said, I am not a vegetarian because I've never been good about getting my protein from other non-meat sources. However, I do draw the line at beef. No eating cows for me, thank you very much.

I typically eat about 2 servings of meat per week (this includes seafood, which I enjoy a great deal). I have issues with the texture (and taste) of beans. Nuts are not my favorite food. While I do like the occasional pb&j sandwich, I doubt eating one sandwich per month is going to meet my recommended daily allowance of protein. Eggs in any form other than hard-boiled skeeve me out. I've been on a kick of eating yogurt and granola for breakfast every morning (although I'm currently taking a break from that). I do love cheese. But still, none of this adds up to the 46 grams of protein I'm supposed to eat each day. I bet I average closer to 10 grams/day if I'm lucky.

My doctor even told me to eat more protein, fruits, and veggies and less carbs. (I'm not good about fruits & veggies either, but we'll save that for another day.) I'm not excited about trying to force myself to eat more dead animals. Maybe I could try hard-boiled eggs? Yogurt for 3 meals a day? Clearly, I'm running short on ideas.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Decisions re: blogging

I've been reading through old blog posts, and I've come to the conclusion there's quite a few that I no longer want to be tied to. I am not the same person I was when I started this blog and there's a lot of crap on here I'd like to forget. So now I need to decide what to do about it...

Do I go back through and un-publish the posts that I want to erase and stick with this blog?

Do I abandon this blog altogether and move my most recent posts to a blog I am willing to be associated with (and has no embarrassing baggage)?

Do I continue with my pseudo-anonymous profile or go public as the "real" me (obviously once the baggage has been lost permanently)?

Waffle, waffle. Comments from the (non-existent) peanut gallery?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Contacts vs. Glasses

I've worn contact lenses since 9th grade, more than two decades ago. In recent years they've become increasingly uncomfortable. My eyes feel dry and sometimes gritty (I have a chronic infection which doesn't help). I do a great deal of squinting because the contacts have never thoroughly corrected my vision. I can see much better with my glasses.

For me, there is a disconcerting difference in size between things as seen through glasses or contacts. It may sound ridiculous, but I think it may have partially contributed to some of my weight gain this winter. I stopped wearing my contact lenses immediately after our wedding at the beginning of January. Everything appears MUCH smaller with my glasses on, so I think I was able to ignore some of the visual cues. I went without wearing my contacts until the end of May when my husband and I climbed a small mountain in the Adirondacks on a rainy, humid day. My glasses became a liability, and I realized I wouldn't want to deal with that while climbing High Peaks this summer.

But after wearing my contacts again for only two months, I'm desperately tired of them. I don't like not being able to see well and the dryness is beyond irksome. On our recent hike up Seymour Mountain my poor sister was forced to carry her glasses more than she was able to wear them because of the humidity. My eyesight is so bad I can't imagine being able to take more than two steps without smashing into a tree or tripping over a rock (two things I do regularly even with corrective lenses).

My guess is as soon as the snow flies in the mountains my contacts will take a long winters nap. I'll just need to remember not to be fooled by the illusion of smallness created by my glasses.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Blisters and Boots

My last pair of hiking boots were old school, full-grain leather ones that I bought during college more than 15 years ago. Whenever I wore them on long hikes I would develop nickel sized blisters on the back of my heels. In fact, I got the same blisters in the same spot during pre-college days wearing poor quality Nike hiking boots. I just assumed my feet were the problem, not the boots. Plus, I was getting used to blisters that were deep enough to leave scars.

After climbing Table Top Mountain (ADK High Peak #19) last summer I decided to try asking for assistance at a local outdoor equipment store near Lake Placid. I was hoping for suggestions, but I ended up leaving with a new pair of boots and sock liners (my old sock liners from my college days were long dead).

A couple days later my sister and I climbed Street (#31) & Nye (#45) and my new boots felt great! They were much lighter and more flexible. Sweet relief. Over Labor Day weekend we climbed Colden (#11) and I noticed some tenderness in my big toes. The outer edges and bottoms of both big toes were sore on the instep sides, but my heels were still OK.

Last month we headed up to climb Macomb (#21), Carson/South Dix (#37), and Grace/East Dix (#42). By the time we got back to the car my big toes looked pretty gross- lots of thick white skin, which eventually turned into a deep blister on my left toe. The blister peeled and left me with fresh, new skin just in time for our next climb earlier this month. Seymour (#34) was hard, harder than any of the other High Peaks I've climbed, and it took its toll on my toes. The blister on my left big toe was bigger and deeper than before and a toenail on my right foot has blackened suspiciously (I had clipped my toenails, so I know that was not the problem).

It seems that in order to have boots fit my heel, the toe box ends up too small. At this point I almost think the heel blisters are less troublesome than toe problems. At least after the hike I can wear backless shoes until the blister heels. I can't avoid walking on my toes.

During some internet research I read a recommendation to try wearing toe sock liners under my hiking socks, so I ordered a pair.

On our next hike I'll carry my regular liners in case the toe sock liners don't work out. I'm never going to give up on hiking, so I'll just have to keep trying to find a way to make it easier on my feet.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Not exactly camping

When I think of camping I think about tents. I think about sleeping bags and campfires. I think about splashing icy water from a nearby stream or lake on my face first thing in the morning.

Until recently, I would not have connected running water, flush toilets, heat, electricity, or a queen (short) bed with camping. But near the end of April my husband and I went to yet another camper show at the Fairgrounds and found one that really clicked for us. A few hours later, it was ours. A few days later it sat in the side yard, ready for use.

My husband is 6'4" so ceiling height was important to him, as was fitting in the shower. I wanted a bathroom bigger than those horrible little corner units. So we sacrificed the typical "bunk house" in the rear of the camper for a bathroom that runs the entire width. I'm not too keen on sharing my camper with other people anyway. It's crowded enough with two small dogs.

It has rained on every single trip we have taken so far, which makes us doubly grateful not to be sleeping on the ground. We've gotten to hike, kayak, go for a bike ride, and just sit around the campfire and relax to the sounds of the woods and creeks around us. So far, so good!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Married Life

"How's married life?"

I am constantly being asked this question and I always stumble over the answer. Married life is, in fact, absolutely the same as non-married life was for us. We already lived together (for almost 3 years), so there were no new surprises lurking in dark corners. Day-to-day life has not changed one iota. Which is fine, or else we would not have gotten married (duh!).

Some things have changed though, like my last name. It was a decision I put A LOT of thought into. As is tradition in my family, I did a lot of waffling. I leaned one way, I leaned the other. I asked my now-husband for his opinion: "I don't care, do whatever you want." And so I did. I decided to change my last name for a variety of reasons, all of which are personal and NONE of anyone else's business.

However, apparently lots of folks don't appreciate these boundaries, which in my opinion, should be obvious. Everyone is welcome to their own opinion of course, but I don't need to hear it. The most distressing incident was when my boss yelled at me for having changed my last name. And just so we're clear, I'm NOT exaggerating. She raised her voice and essentially told me I was wrong (and stupid, being the underlying message). The little respect I had for her vanished in that instant.

A complicating factor is that my husband (he needs a nickname, doesn't he?) has a sister with the same first name as me, which was weird enough when we were dating. But now, people are constantly harping on how strange it must be for her to have someone else take her name (never mind the fact that she's been married with her husband's last name for close to 15 years). And they go on and on right in front of me, without any concern for how this makes ME feel. Clearly, I'm still working on developing that thick skin.

Maybe one day I will be able to not let little stuff bother me. And maybe one day I'll finish changing my name with every entity on the planet (Passport Services, I'm looking at you).

In the meantime, I'll just keep marveling at the fact I now have a HUSBAND and am MARRIED. After 36 years of being single, these things take time to get used to.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Getting fit & losing weight

Weight has mainly been just a number for me. That's not to say I never obsessed over it in high school, but generally I've been more concerned with how my clothes fit or how I feel in my body.

Over the last couple years I've been eating more and experiencing a gradual shift. I occasionally bought another pair of jeans that were more comfortable than some of my old standbys. I stopped wearing some of my other clothes and added them to the to-be-donated pile. On a warm day in early spring I pulled out a pair of my capri pants and found I could barely button them. And once I managed that I couldn't breathe or sit. In a panic I pulled out the rest of my capris and shorts. I could only squeeze into one pair of each. That was the last straw. It was time to do something.

So I bought a bathroom scale. And saw a number I'd never seen before and was not willing to live with.

So then I bought a Fitbit One. It tracks steps, distances, calories burned, and overall activity level. I clipped it on my waistband and haven't taken a step without it since. The daily goals and cheesy badges help motivate me. I get bummed when I don't make my 10,000 steps per day. Really bummed.

I also knew I had to address my eating habits. Somehow I had let my portion sizes increase to unnecessarily large. My husband cooks for an army every night and I was apparently trying to eat for one. So smaller serving sizes were needed. I also had to get my dessert consumption under control. I'd let myself develop the habit of eating at least one form of dessert EVERY DAY. That had to stop. At first I put into effect a "Sundays and special occasions only" rule. In order to break the habit, I had to do something drastic. And with my sweet-tooth, that was drastic.

Now I've been able to relax that rule and eat s'mores when we're camping or get ice cream with my nephew without worrying about falling back into the daily candy bar from the vending machine, cookies, and cake-apalooza I was enjoying before. I'm back into my capri pants and most of my shorts and jeans (still some work to be done). But more importantly, I feel better. Because it isn't just about the number on the scale or being able to fit into my clothes again. It's about being FIT. I want to know my body can climb tall mountains and hike 14+ miles in a day when I ask it to.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Am I really going to try this again?

The last time I posted was in 2011, so why am I back here?

Because I've been thinking about it. I've been thinking of things that need more than 140 characters to be properly expressed. Plus, it might do me good to write somewhere other than a spiral notebook again. Somewhere slightly more structured. I'm not making any promises about posting x number of times per week. I was actually a little surprised I could still log in to my blogger account. But I can. And so I am here.

Because really, why not?

So here are some topics I may decide to talk about:
  • married life (because yes, I am now MARRIED)
  • adventures in campering
  • mountain climbing
  • wine making
  • container gardening
  • my attempts at writing poetry
  • getting fit/losing weight

I guess I better clean up my blogroll and see who else is still out there in bloggersville. Until next time...