why buying milk made me sad

by dichroic in daily updates

I just bought a gallon of milk. I don’t drink milk. I buy it sometimes for cooking, but I don’t know if I’ve ever bought so much as a gallon. So why did I do it today? Because a woman at my lunchtime knitting group (who also works in the LYS part time) mentioned that they were having some trouble getting her husband’s disability paid, and that when he went to the food bank they didn’t give him milk and cereal, though they gave those to other people with kids (they may have run out; she wasn’t sure). They are a family of 7. She didn’t say any of this in an asking-for-help way, just that we all tend to talk about our lives as we sit and knit. Well, I go on Tuesdays at lunch to sit and knit for a while, then I go to the grocery store down the street, pick up lunch and bring it back to eat at my desk. So I asked if she wanted to go with me so I could get her some milk (I don’t think I said it that clearly but she understood what I meant). Bought some cherries too, because I wanted some for me and even people dealing with hard times need a treat now and then. Maybe especially people dealing with hard times. And told her about the time I was on unemployment and it turns out Arizona only pays $200/week, max.

I love my country but some days I don’t like it very much. Our safety nets are too holey.

On the other hand, in happier beverage news, we had a great long weekend – the in-laws came to visit us at the lake, and much wine was consumed.

on immersion in October Daye

by dichroic in books

I’ve been rereading the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. Their plots are very twisty, an I’d realized I was missing a lot of the connections when I read the books as they came out, a year or so apart (Seanan is amazingly prolific and the first few came out at a faster pace, but now she’s got several series running.) Reading the series in order is a much more immersive experience; whenever I put down a book, after spending a while in Toby’s head, it takes a few minutes to decompress and realize that no, I don’t have a propensity for putting myself and my friends in mortal danger, I don’t have accelerated healing or an affinity for blood, and I’m not a changeling. The sort of trouble I get in is not the same sort Toby gets in (good thing, as I don’t have her resources, though I wish I had her gift for gaining friends and allies). Total book hangover, and a thorough one.

I realized the other day that the world Seanan has envisioned here may be unique in my experience . If I lived in Toby Daye’s world and Faerie existed, I wouldn’t want to know about it (assuming I was fully human) – and this is the first series I can remember thinking that about. In that world, humans are shut out of magic completely; I can only think of a single example where a human intersected the Fae world and didn’t ultimately lose out (and even then it led to major upheavals in her life). I can’t think of anything more depressing than learning that yes, magic does exist … but you are barred forever from having any part in it or even really seeing any of it. Your kid might – but if so they will be taken away from you. Normally I’d want to know what’s happening even – especially – if it might hurt me, but I think in this case knowing might actually be worse than not knowing.

colonoscopy: achievement unlocked

by dichroic in daily updates

Writing up an account of what the whole colonoscopy thing was like for me (avoiding graphic detail!) in case it’s useful info for anyone who needs to have one.

Overall verdict:
Not as bad as expected.

Liquid diet: actually, I thought this would be the worst part of hte whoel thing, but it was OK, really. I was able to ingest enough calories to keep from feeling dizzy, lightheaded or “hangry”. (So much so that I may eventually decide to do a liquid diet for Yom Kippur, on the theory that it drives in the notion of abstention and departure from every day practice, without ruining my ability to focus on the contemplation we’re supposed to be doing.) I was allowed to eat a “light” breakfast before 6AM and went to some lengths to make sure I had acceptable food prepared, and then I totally forgot to bring it in to work, and arrived at work to a whole bunch of emails that needed immediate response and forgot to eat anything else. So I was basically on only liquids from the time I woke up.

That famously nauseating stuff you have to drink: There are several variants of this – one friend mentioned having to drink disgusting stuff over 6 hours. Oig. The stuff I had was called MoviPrep, and what it tasted like most was the Japanese sports drink Pocari Sweat, only more so.(Think Gatorade, but more salty and less sweet.) Keeping it in the fridge definitely helped. I’d never drink it if I didn’t have to, but it didn’t make me gag, even at 6AM, and was all around not as bad as reported (quite possibly some of the other variants are worse). I think it basically combines a laxative with the electrolytes of Gatorade. After spending all of Thursday on the liquid diet I had to drink a quart of it that night – 8 oz (roughly .24 liter) every 15 minutes starting at 6PM, then another quart the next morning at 6AM. The morning time depends on when your procedure is scheduled; they want you to have it ~3 hours before you have to show up, so you’re not, like, white knuckled and wishing for in-car restrooms on the way there.

As for the results of the prep, for a person with IBS it can best be described as “a random Tuesday when maybe lunch didn’t quite agree with you”. Well, OK, it was a little more thorough than that and went on a little longer, but on the other hand it was easier for me to put up with and less traumatic because a) no queasiness, everything going the proper direction and b) this was, like, what I was supposed to be doing. I had the time planned and I was at home, not trying to finish up, quit hogging a work restroom and get back to whatever I was scheduled to be doing. Also, while I did spend most of my prep time in the bathroom, I was able to go sit on the sofa between times – I never felt I didn’t have time to get from there to the bathroom.

The colonoscopy itself was weird because I’ve almost never been in a hospital as a patient, except for having my wisdom teeth out at 18, and that was outpatient surgery. This time they took me to my “own” room, where we sat around for a bit, then they stuck heart monitors on my chest, started an IV (which took two tries), then we sat around a bit more. At this point, the IV was just saline solotion, probably a good idea since I’m sure I was dehydrated by then. About ten minutes after the scheduled time, they kicked Ted out wheeled me into the procedure room, plugged various wires into the monitors they’d put on me before, and then sat around watching the readouts for another ten minutes or so until the doctor was ready. (I’d given all my stuff to Ted, but wished at this point I’d brought a book. There were nurses around to talk to, though.) The nurse in charge of anesthesia asked me how out of it I’d like to be and told me they “were happy to customize my experience” in a way that sounded oddly spa-like, but I didn’t feel they really needed my (conscious) presence. After that, they hooked some drugs into my IV, told me to roll onto my left side …. and the next thing was that I have a woozy memory of being offered some water, OJ, saltines and graham crackers, then walked out to where Ted was waiting with the car.

Apparently they pump air into you during the procedure; for my doctor it’s standard procedure to pump it back out (I gather this is not universal – I asked, after reading a recommendation to somewhere online). I did not feel bloated at all afterward. I was afraid my gut would remain a bit unsettled afterward, but it really didn’t. When we got home I crashed and slept HARD for a couple hours. After that we drove out to the lake house (2.5 hours); I did request a couple of pit stops in the first half of the trip (I’d warned Ted in advance this might happen!) but was OK after that.

They tell you not to drive or make important decisions for 16-24 hours after the procedure. I intended to row lightly Saturday (which would have been close to 24 hours later), but got out there and somehow it was just a giant NOPE! so I came back in. Sunday I still felt slightly fragile somehow so I just erged 5K at about a half-pressure pace. Other than that I took it fairly easy over the weekend, doing nothing else more strenuous than a bit of weeding.

gut punch

by dichroic in daily updates

Other things I can’t say outside this blog: My friend who lost her baby? Literally the day before the baby got sick, the mother posted on Facebook about how said she was that her own grandmother would never get to know her daughter. I will not write “be careful what you wish for,” because I do not believe, in my conflicted agnostic soul, that either an implacable universe or an omniscient God would connect that to a baby’s death.

But still, ouch. (Though I hope some day the image of a beloved grandmother rocking a beloved daughter helps comfort my friend.)

We’re all a little shell-shocked around my Ravelry community these days.

Otherwise my life is fine – we went to a fun wineblending event last Saturday, I went downtown shopping at the cool stores (Title Nine, Athleta) Sunday, and we’re looking forward to our big Galapagos trip in July I’m also looking forward, in the sense of “get this over with”, to this damned colonoscopy Friday. I just broke the code of silence around TMI matters to talk to a couple of coworkers (nice thing about older people: they’ve all been through this) and figure if they can, I can.

But I still keep coming back to that tiny hole in the universe that was once filled by a happy baby I only ever ‘met’ in photographs. Grief is like that; it never wants to go away – and it can be cumulative. Tomorrow is Dad’s yahrzeit, so that will be hard.


by dichroic in daily updates

What a depressing day. An online friend of mine has just lost her child, and it’s giving me feelings of, “No, the universe isn’t supposed to work that way!!!” The three-month-old baby was fine Sunday, in the hospital with viral pneumonia Monday, better Wednesday, worse Thursday and now gone. I knew that any time you have an infant (or anyone, I guess), in the ICU, it’s very serious, but I guess I just expect that people will get better from diseases. I mean, I understand that miscarriages happen all the time because so many things can go wrong in developing a whole new person; I understand that sometimes neonates die because something was wrong with them or went wrong with the birth; I even understand that sometimes babies die for no apparent reason with SIDS. I’m just used to modern medicine being good enough that diseases get handled and people get better. It seems trebly tragic because her mother went through a lot to conceive her, then had a difficult pregnancy, and was so happy to be a mom. Also, the baby’s name was Felicity, so I keep harking back somehow to the loss of Joyce (Joy for short) in Anne’s House of Dreams – I guess I tend to sink into stories as a way to react to real life occurrances. (I am only writing about my own reactions here, in my own blog, because the mom is on other social media I participate in, and any mention of the death there should be about trying to support and comfort her.)

She’s someone I know via a Ravelry group; I’m really hoping we can pull together to do something, whether it’s a group donation, a blanket, or whatever. Not getting much response yet, though.

I’m a bit down at the moment anyway; this is the week between the anniversary of my dad’s death in the Gregorian calendar and the yahrzeit in the Hebrew calendar. Then yesterday, I got scheduled for a colonoscopy next Friday and I think this will majorly suck. Not so much the procedure itself, for which I’ll be sedated, as the prep and maybe the recovery. I have to go on a clear-liquid diet Thursday, which is going to make the workday interesting, drink 32 ounces of some stuff that’s said to be fairly unpleasant that night, drink 32 more ounces in the morning, go in at 9:15, come out three hours later and have someone to drive me because I’ll be groggy, and not drive a car for 16-24 hours after due to persisting grogginess. Apparently I won’t be completely knocked out, but the stuff they give you has an “amnesiac effect” (the doctor’s words) so I likely won’t remember it anyway. Somehow this has always seemed like slightly less of a big deal when it was my mom going through it, which is probably partly because it always seems worse when it’s yourself, and partly because she’s brave about this kind of thing.


by dichroic in daily updates

I’m scheduled to get a mammogram AND see a gastroenterologist today. Indignities at both ends!

Mammograms kind of hurt. I am just not very squishy!

Also, on the no-so-ugh front, I got a new haircut the other day. I like it but have been having trouble taking a good photo. I think this one works, though.

docs and more docs

by dichroic in daily updates

This is getting ridiculous. It seems like I’ve done nothing but go to doctor this year – and I’m healthy, for the most part! Now I’ve managed to unwittingly schedule two appointments for the same day, though at least fortunately they’re not close together in time.

Here’s what I’ve had and have scheduled, so far:

  • Annual physical provided from work
  • Annual physical from my own doctor (because my company got a new provider in to do these this year, and they don’t do as many blood tests – including the one that found low thyroid levels last year.
  • Trip to lab before physical, to get blood taken for testing.
  • Dentist for cleaning and checkup – no fillings needed, yay!
  • Optometrist for annual checkup – no change in prescription
  • Followup with my GP to recheck thyroid (I’d been told to take it in the morning and was missing a few per week. She told me it was OK to take it at night after all – since when I haven’t missed a dose – and wanted to recheck after 6 weeks of more consistent meds. Bear in mind I have *no* symptoms and only knew thyroid was low due to blood tests. TSH level is in the normal range but on the high end (meaning low-ish thyroid) so she upped my dosage.
  • Dermatologist. Had never been to one and it seemed like time to get a baseline check.
  • Superamazing internationally known (according to dermatologist) nail specialist – to get mysterious line in my toenail checked out and make sure it’s nothing much. It is indeed nothing much, as expected.
  • Mammogram scheduled next week. I think I’m quite low risk, but I’m old enough that I’m supposed to be getting them every few years.
  • Gastroenterologist scheduled for next week. Like the nail doctor check, just to look at a minor symptom and make 100% sure it has a correspondingly minor cause. Will probably end up with a colonoscopy, which I’d have had to get next year anyway, due to turning 50.
  • I will also need to go back tot he blood lab in another 6 weeks or so, just to recheck thyroid numbers again after the doctor upped my med.

I try to be responsible and all, but that sure seems like an awful lot of highly educated people, just to tell me I’m very healthy!

I’m on three meds: birth control (yes, still needed); a special extra-fluoride toothpaste (they have prescription toothpaste – who knew?); and thyroxin to increase thyroid function (as noted I have NO symptoms – but am curious as to whether increased thyroid function would give me thicker hair (seems like it has), better cold tolerance (no), weight loss (not so far), and more energy (maybe but it’s hard to tell – erg workouts have been seeming slightly easier to finish).

happy things: weddings and new books

by dichroic in books, daily updates

Weddings! We haven’t been to a wedding for a few years, but now all of a sudden we’re invited to two within a week of each other, both requiring travel. There’s one for a young cousin of Ted’s; I’d like to go, because it would be nice seeing all that side of the family, but I’m a bit uncomfortable with the idea of planning travel to North Carolina right now.

Then yesterday we got an invitation to the wedding of a former coworker (Ted’s worked with him closely, I have just a bit). This one is less than a week later in the small Dutch city we used to live in. In an ideal world, we’d go to the one then hop over to the other, but vacation time is limited. I don’t know what we’ll do. (Also, coolest wedding ever. It’s an older couple (by which I mean, older than me) and the invitation is made to look like the cover of a Penguin Classics novel, with their photos on it.)

Also, I can’t wait until next week. ALL of the following are coming out inside 3 days:

Trials of Apollo – new series by Rick Riordan in the Percy Jackson-verse, May 3
Lies, Damned Lies and History – next book in Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St Mary’s series, May 5 (Someone commented that she found these repetitive, but I think they’re hilarious – also, both characters and the stakes at hand have grown through the series.)
At least 3 books by Angela Thirkell – May 5 (Someone commented in racism in her books, but I still haven’t seen it except in Trooper to the Southern Cross, where it’s clearly from the character. Otherwise, not even as much as there is in Angela Brazil.)

The next fertile release period I know of will be September – at the beginning of the month we get Seanan McGuire’s new October Daye book, then at the end there’s Trenton Lee Stewart’s new series (he’s the Mysterious Benedict guy); the next Flavia de Luce, which seems to promise a new direction in the series, and then the second in Rick Riordan’s ASsgard series. Yay books!

Weekend plans:

by dichroic in daily updates

Noted here mostly as an aide–mémoire.

Tonight: trivia night at Ardiri. Fake matzo ball soup (Start with boughten broth, add carrots, celery, onion, dried dill, and of course matzo balls). I think what I’ll do is make these balls from a mix, which my husband prefers, and make the ones for the homemade soup from scratch, which I prefer. I suspect the main difference between them is a lot of salt.

Tomorrow: Erg, probably AN intervals (which means short, 1 minute or so, but very hard, at anaerobic threshold.) Release party at Gran Moraine for their Pinot Noir. Roast chicken for our ‘Seder’, aka dinner for the two of us.

Sunday: Erg a long piece, 10km or more, at marathon (slow) pace. Costco run. Make soup from the chicken carcass unless I did it Saturday night, as well as matzo balls. This is to have during the week – make enchiladas (with corn tortillas!) for dinner.

The sad thing is, this is supposed to be my relaxing cath-up weekend after last week’s regatta-that-didn’t-happen.

Racing (or not) and also Passover

by dichroic in rowing

I. No racing last weekend after all. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, but was windy enough to result in very rough water. Our visiting friend Rebecca and I were scheduled to race early on Saturday morning (heats A and B of women’s Masters singles). She was already at the start, and I was just about to cross the course to row to the start, when I told the Crossing Marshall to radio in that I wanted to scratch – as soon as I turned perpendicular to the course I realized it was too rough to be safe. He told me they were going to bring everyone in, so he wouldn’t scratch me yet. Apparently four people had fallen in so far. (They had plenty of safety boats to fish them out.) So everyone out on the course had to row back in through the rough water, a definite challenge. They kept postponing the race, and eventually decided to cancel the novice events that had already gone by entirely, and move the womens’ singles to Sunday morning, letting some of the bigger (wider) boats race. All in all we ended up walking back and forth to the park where the race was about four times, between the morning race meeting and then trying to figure out what was going on.

Rebecca and I comforted ourselves with a long kayak paddle in the afternoon, so at least she got to see all of the lake.

Unfortunately, moving our race put us right ahead of the men’s singles, so Rebecca couldn’t row Ted’s boat as planned (she’s much closer to his size than mine). She tried out my racing shell and established that it was at least possible to row it, but Sunday morning was again rough enough that she decided to take my open-water boat, which is much more stable and self-baling. It’s perfectly happy handling those conditions, as long as you don’t expect to go very fast. This time she got only to the park before being told the race was postponed again – they eventually ended up canceling the rest of the races all together. Rebecca did a row down the course just for fun, probably giving a heart attacks to any of the race officials who didn’t know she was in a boat that could handle rough water.

Care and (especially) feeding of a vegetarian athlete was something that worried me a bit beforehand, but we ended up just having pizza on Friday night (carbo-loading!) and a big varied salad with assorted grilled stuff that everyone chose their own to skewer, so that worked out OK, I think. We should have gotten more lunch food, but I was expecting the wonderful and diverse bakery sandwiches this regatta has provided in the past, and they didn’t have them this year.

So it was a great weekend, aside from the small issue of the actual race that was the reason we were there – beautiful weather, a chance to catch up with an old friend, and time at the house. Oh, well.

And also, after all these years it is really nice to have someone other than Ted understand why I don’t go into races expecting to win, and that no, it’s not just that I don’t train enough. (There are three components to being ready for a race: having your head in the game, boat feel/technique, and fitness. I definitely failed on the first one and haven’t gotten nearly enough water time this year, but I actually do feel like I was physically ready for this race – my training plan was very good and I followed it fairly faithfully, aside from breaks for a couple of business trips. I still would likely have come in at the back of the pack, though.

II. Passover is going to be a lot easier to keep this year. I decided last year that I was an honorary Sephard, but I didn’t really fully embrace the possibilities. Sure, I ate some popcorn and maybe a little rice, but that was about it. But I’ve realized that for instance the dinner we had last night (Grilled Chicken Marsala over rice) and the one I plan for Sunday (enchiladas, with corn tortillas) are both Pesadic under the new rules.Not that I really needed a rabbi to tell me what to do, but it’s nice not to feel I’m somehow cheating.

I made gnocchi the other night (having bought shelf-stable ones from the supermarket) and was wondering if they might be Pesadic also but alas, gnocchi contain potatoes, eggs …and flour. Apparently it might be possible to make my own, though, if I figure out what sweet rice flour is and where to buy it. (I doubt I will bother. Once Passover is done, though, the supermarket ones were very good and we’ll definitely be having them again.) Meanwhile, I’m just trying to figure out how to reconcile first Seder on Friday night with some other plans I had – trivia night at a local winery, that we were planning to go to anyway, to pick up our wine club shipment. And okay, a trivia game isn’t really the kind of thing you move around anything as important as a Seder for, but when it’s just a meal for the two of us somehow the importance is diminished a bit.