Thursday, June 28, 2012

Good grief

This is the week of doctor's visits.  OK, this is the INAUGURAL week of doctors' visits.  I've been ignoring my health for a couple of years, not getting in the RYA (recommended yearly allowance) of anything but dermatology visits (of which there now have been 4 this year!). So, a couple of weeks ago I buckled on my big girl undies and made a few calls.

First up, on Tuesday, was the primary care doc.  Or, in this case, the primary care PA.  Whatever, I don't mind PAs, they're more humble than 'real' doctors.  The good part is that I didn't need to undress, the bad part is that 1) I'm really very fat now and 2) I've been given a prescription for blood pressure medication.  I suspect 1 caused 2.  Unknown as yet is what will come of the bloodwork that was done and what the 'pee inna cup' test will tell us.  Good Lord - there could be any NUMBER of things still wrong with me that need tested or medicated.  Happy freaking getting older, baby, here's your meds.  And you referral for a colonoscopy.  And your contact information for getting a mammogram.  Which you need, like, yesterday.

So, I'm rolling with the notion that I really seriously and honestly now need to lose 50 pounds or so.  That's right, 50 (SHIT!).  That 25 pounds I lost 5 years ago came back and brought friends, about 15 of them, and those suckers are going to be evicted.  I am, still, sick of being the fattest person in most situations.

Therefore, we visited another gym last night, and, shocker, I like it.  No pool, but get this - we went at 7 p.m. to check it out, and there was NOBODY THERE.  Apparently it's packed with old ladies during the day, and the classes they offer are pretty well attended, but the gigantic room of cardio and weights?  Nada.  This encourages me, as does the 'no contract' way of doing biz.  Also, there's an area sectioned off by a wall that's for ladies only, if you're intimidated by anyone in the big room.  A fine idea, if you ask me. 

So, yeah - gym.  Say 'buh-bye' to about 100 beans a month if I sign all 4 of us up.  *Sigh*  It's only money, right?

Then today I visited my dermatologist again (see '4 visits so far this year' above).  I thought it was just to check out the results of the PDT thing I had done to my face a few weeks ago, but nope, it was for a full skin check.  I did have to undress for this one.  Not all the way, but it might as well have been, as the PA was selectively baring bits of me that even I don't like to look it.  Once again she blasted a spot with the liquid nitrogen, doing away with a nice inflammatory seborrheic keratosis on my left arm that had popped up recently, and asked to see me back in a few weeks to follow up on a couple of things she thinks might need blasting.  That gal loves her some liquid nitrogen.  I don't mind it, but one of the spots she's looking at is on my LIP, and I imagine that's going to smart some.  Once again, first world issue.

Next week?  The girl doctor.  Oh, joy.

But wait! Follow Up!  Just got a call from the primary care doc's office, and most of my tests came back OK.  Except for that pesky thyroid.  Levels are too HIGH.  Huh?  Wouldn't I be all jittery and stuff if that was the case?  Well, NO.  It's the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) that's too high, which means that I'm pumping out gobs of that stuff to stimulate the thyroid to make the hormones that are the regulatin' kind, but apparently they're not playing and so more TSH is being pumped out to to try to get some stimulatin' going on.  Poor TSH, like a little kid who keeps hollering at another little kid on the playground, hoping that if it hollers long and loud enough the other kid will finally relent and come over to play.  Seems that my thyroid is being all standoffish and punking out on me.  Sidenote: Hey - did you know that hypothyroidism can cause unintentional weight gain and puffy hands and feet and also that two risk factors are being over 50 and female and I have all of that?  Isn't that awesome?  Simply stellar.  Yeah, it's looking like I'll be on thyroid mediation before too long.  I can live with that.  It's not the end of the world.  At least all the other tests came back fine, so yeah, it's OK.  We're over that hurdle and if I have to take a couple of pills a day to regulate what's gone bonkers, then it's fine.

*Sigh*, take 2.

While I'm proud of myself for taking control and making these appointments, the bald-faced truth is that facing my current realities is a real slap in the face.  My puffy, actinic keratoses-ridden, wrinkly old face.

Can't WAIT for the colonoscopy prep.  Oh, boy.

So hey, I'll be you can hardly wait for the blog post about THAT one, eh?  'Cause you know you're getting one.  But no pictures, I promise.  Not even of the mammogram.

Tiff out.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I can't name it

Ever heard of ravioli lasagna?  I hadn't, or didn't THINK I had, as of last night when dinner preparations began the in usual way, with me looking in the freezer to suss out what the inspiration would be.  The choices were ham, sausage, hot dogs, and frozen ravioli.  Oh, and chicken.  There's almost always chicken.

Which, of course, is why we went with the ravioli.

And sausage.


I got to thinking, and wanted something different than 'regular' ravioli, which, even when coated with lovely Parmesean cheese, tend to slide around on the plate as you attempt to cut into them with the side of a fork.  No, nobody should use a knife to cut ravioli, it's inelegant!  I wanted something more...solid...and thought 'hey, why not make some lasagna-ish thing that will hold together well and NOT slug itself all over the plate,' and thus I did.  Here's how:

Parboil 5 sausages in a large pot.  It can be the same pot (and water!) that you intend to cook the ravioli in, that's fine.  While the sausages are cooking, dice an onion and 3 cloves of garlic, saute the onion until translucent then add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds over low heat.  Add 2 cups frozen shredded spinach, cook a couple of minutes, then add in 1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes and 1 15-ounce can of plain sauce.  Stir in 1/2 cup red wine after swishing it around in the sauce can, then add whatever herbs you might like.  I used about a teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.  Let that cook down while you're fishing the sausages out of the simmering pot (after you're pretty sure they're done).

Once the sauce has simmered for 30 minutes or so and is looking pretty thick, add about 4 ounces of light cream cheese (or not, your call).  Melt the cream cheese into the sauce so it gets silky and very thick.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.  While that's bubbling, boil about 20 large ravioli  for a bit under their called-for boil time - you want them 'al dente,' not falling apart.  Slice the sausage while you're waiting for them to cook.

Prepare a large baking pan with a little cooking spray, then fish the cooked pasta out of the pot and place in a single layer in the bottom of the pan.  Overlap 'em a little if they don't fit, but remember, they're going to be slippery. :|  Spread the lovely thick sauce over that, then evenly distribute the sausage on the sauce.  Sprinkle with about 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (or more, your call), then bake for 20-30 mins uncovered until the cheese is bubbly.  Remove from oven (and turn the oven off while you're at it, please), and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

By my calculations, this should serve about 6 people heartily.  So far we've 'used up' about 5 meals worth, and there are about 2 lunch-size portions left.

And I know all good food blogs have pictures of the finished product, but we didn't take a photo until it was over half gone, so here's that one.  My food stylist (me) needs some lessons, methinks.

An hour earlier it had been whole and bubbling. Oh how the mighty have fallen (for it).
That's it from here for today, just thought I'd share OUR rendition of 'Ravasagna' with you so that I remember it when I want to make it again.

Hope you're having a Thpethial Thurthday - Tiff out.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

now that you're nearly men

Because in a year Colin will be graduating from high school, I'm having some thoughts.  As follows:

Some things I'd like those kids I birthed to know:

1) I love you beyond anything, ever.  But of course you know this. My general effusiveness with the L word is evident and I LOVE that you love me back both in word and actions.  Be that person you choose to love.  Do NOT hold back.

2)  I celebrate each step you take toward a new independent life.  Each invitation you have to a social thing is an instant 'yes' from me; the time you spend with your friends is utterly invaluable for finding your way forward in a whole new set of roiling social possibilities.  College is looming.  Let who you chose to hang out with now determine who you feel comfortable hanging out with in the future.

3) Dave Matthews Band doesn't necessarily have to suck, like some kids think.  Neither does Nickleback.  Do NOT listen to the crowd.  If you like something, then like it because you do.  Example: I will not apologize for introducing you to Klaus Nomi, ever.

4) The world is your freaking oyster.  You do NOT have to be sure of what to do with it just yet, simply know that something great could be inside.

5) It couldn't hurt for you to know how to cook.  Many things.  I can teach you - just ask.

6) Exercise.  Make your body wonderful.  It will serve you well, now and in the near-term.  Then, when you're older (like me) you'll be grateful to have that store of strength to again build on.  Trust me on this one.

7) Whoever you fall in lifelong love with, be sure to know them WELL first.  Like, really well.  (corollary: know yourself well too.  do NOT let someone tell you how you feel, ever.)

8)  Be what you want to be.  You have to have a dream or desire.  Do that, and I will be with you, completely.  Thought it couldn't hurt to have a marketable skill to fall back on while you're writing that novel. I'm just saying.

9) See your worth. Know that you are valuable.  Embrace your skills.  Enhance your best parts.  Evaluate your worst parts.  Engage in the notion that your life is a process.

10) Then chill out. Be interested in the world.  Open up, let life in, and follow the path you know is right for you.  Nobody can ask or demand more.

I love you with every bit of me,

Thursday, June 07, 2012

That man is a sneak!!

Last Friday I had the pleasure of having lunch with my good buddy Rennratt.  It had been WAY too long since we'd seen each other, so we spent a good solid hour hanging out in the could-be-cheerier lunch room at her place of work, just shooting the bull and catching up.  It was lovely, and a treat.  I left there thinking 'we should do this more often,' which is a very nice way to leave someone.

Imagine my surprise when I pulled up to our house that evening after work and saw a car that looked verrrry much like Renn's on our street.  In front of our house, even.  "Hmmm," thought I.  "That car looks a lot like Renn's, but how can that be?  It's awfully far away from her home, and Biff told me he'd invited R and A to our house for a little birthday celebration tonight, not Renn."

Well, I have to say here and now, that not only is my husband a sneak, but my good buddy Renn is too, as not even the tiniest little SPECK of a hint was floated at our lunch earlier that day that she might just be seeing me again, very very soon.  Color me tickled pink at that particular turn of events, because  that means I can tell her secrets and there's a very good chance she'll keep them,  You know, if I had any secrets left to tell.  That I can remember.

You must understand that even though Renn and I work a 5-minute drive from each other (used to be closer, but I got a new job), we LIVE at least an hour from one another, and more like 90 minutes.  That's committment, to come to my house for dinner.

Nearly equally as committed is Sparky, who showed up next.  You might know her as JC?  Yes, that JC.  She is another wonderful friend I don't get to see enough of, though lately we've been trying to do stuff together.  Clearly, dinner and cake is a good enough reason for her to drive over an hour.  I almost jumped up and down as much as Biff at her arrival (I think he might have a crush on her, and that's oddly OK with me), and felt might good to have 2 such wonderful ladies under one roof, with us. 

However, I must say that Oldfriend (self-named, I didn't give her that moniker) is the mostest committed friend of them all, because SHE walked through the door after a drive of at LEAST 2.5 hours.  Seriously?  All this for some saag and chocolate cake?  Dang, my friends are easy.  And plainly love to drive long distances.

Turns out, R&A came over too, but they only live like 4 miles from us so I couldn't really test their committment to our friendship on distance travelled.  :)  Also, my friend Donna stopped by - she brightened up the environs with a gorgeous bouquet of purple hydrangea blossoms and her sunny disposition, but couldn't stay for dinner. :(

And lo, once gathered, we had good timez.  There was chicken saag, rice, slap-you-momma potatoes (Thanks Renn!), grilled veg salad (Thanks Beth!), bratwursts onna bun (to go with the potatoes), and a table big enough for everyone (except the boys, I'm afraid, but they didn't seem to care.  They just took their plates into their rooms and proceeded to continue killing stuff on the Xbox360).  A gigantic festive occasion balloon loomed over the groaning board, and we settled in to making merry.  Because, you know, people drove a long way to get there and needed to be making with the merry as reward for their efforts.

I should also mention here that these people know how to enjoy, talk, and laugh.  More than one of us was gasping for air during the making of the merry, which I do count as a very good thing as it was not a medical condition that left them short of breath but instead a piling on of goodwill and some very unusual use of language...  I should probably have used waterproof mascara.  My sides hurt the next day, if that's any indication. 

It was a big ol' good night, and I knew about NONE of it before it happened.  NONE.  Biff kept asking 'are you sure you didn't suspect anything?' and I could answer only 'nope.  I had no idea.'  I might be getting more dense as time moves on, but I prefer to view this as me just being very trusting and accepting and not at all sneaky or looking for hidden motivations or secrets.  And maybe, just maybe, I might be just a little dense.

Turns out, I like surprise parties.  Thanks, darlin' Biff, for a whopper of a good time, and to all other attendees for being so wonderful to this old gal. 

Me last Saturday night
Then, the next night we went out to hear Biff's band play out.  Let's just say it's a darned good thing Oldfriend was there to act as designated driver.  I sucked down so much bourbon I even got out on the dance floor.  Let's just say that if anyone has pictures of that little incident, please burn or erase them.  And we shall never speak of it again.  Bad enough that my elbow made it into one pic...because the rest of me probably looked like that fellow over there.  Not an attractive pictures, I think we can all agree.


Well, I guess it's time to wrap this up.  I'll talk about something other than my birthday at some point, but I did want to send out this Thank You to the Best Schmoompins in the world plus all my friends who make this life richer for knowing them.  I am truly blessed to have each of you in my life.

Monday, June 04, 2012

simple sideways walking


Feet underneath, sky above.   Still in the right position for a Monday.

Still wishing I could fly, right here and now,
arms outstretched, back muscles ready to churn up a wind.

I might be aging, but I'm not old.
That bright lightness of youth is still in my back pocket,
a rub of it on my life right now is enough to get me up and dancing.

Suppose that what I stored up in youth is yet deployable,
a redolent whiff of energy playing to my stiff nostrils and arguing feet.

No matter.

I dance.

In mind,  heart, hips, feet, and fancy, I dance.

Life ain't got the best of me yet, and I haven't given it all I have to give.
Praise be, and swagger 'round the kitchen a while.