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When I first described my kitchen desires to out former contractor they included a central kitchen island, an island I already had. I was open to it being updated, but the contractor was very firm in his belief there just wasn't room for it, unless the kitchen space was pushed significantly further into the living/dining room, something he knew I was unwilling to do. We had agreed to enlarge the room in two directions, but not as far as he thought was needed to accommodate the island.

I moved the island from the old house into a storage unit here on the property. He knew it was here. I insisted it would wind up in my studio space when we got there. I meant it. I'm attached to it as it was built for me, to my specifications by a friend, sadly now deceased, long before his time. Mikey was a woodworker who specialized in turning scrap hardwood into beautiful cutting boards. I'd asked him to build me a kitchen island on wheels with a butcher block top, essentially a giant cutting board on wheels. It had pull out shelves made to accommodate my Kitchenaid mixer, as well as cubbies for baking sheets, etc. Well, when Mikey realized I intended to use the butcher block as a butcher block, he built me a huge cutting board from exotic hardwoods as a gift. That cutting board covered almost half the island.

My cabinets here include a narrow undercounter cabinet for items like that huge cutting board and large baking sheets. While I've been thrilled with the kitchen in most ways, I find I do a lot of walking side to side. Dishes and the fridge are on one wall, the stove on another, the area I've been doing food prep on yet another. It's not an efficient setup. A central island to work from really will make the space much friendlier to work in.

In my old kitchen, which was also large, the island was the heart of everything that went on there. Groceries we put down on it, to be put away; it was convenient to the pantry, as well as the fridge. It was a great workstation for food prep, and just a step from the stove, and could even be rolled closer to the stove, if I needed it. It even made putting the dishes away easier; they came right out of the dishwasher onto the island and once the dishwasher was empty, I could go around to the other side of the island where it was a breeze to put them away.

Well it's my kitchen, dammit! Screw what the contractor felt about it not belonging here

One of my projects today was to the move the island out of the storage unit and into the house. Once I got it to the patio, I replaced the wheels with new ones that shouldn't scratch the floor, that just happen to be half an inch taller. To my pleasant surprise, completely serendipitously, the new wheels now make the butcher block level with the granite countertops.

After being moved about the kitchen countertop for the past month, ever since it was unpacked, the Kitchenaid finally has a home again, back in the island where it lived for the past two decades. So does the huge cutting board. A place of honor in fact, dead center in the heart of the kitchen. The knife block will now live right next to it. No longer is there a hanging pot & pan rack above the island, but to be able to drink in the gorgeous views I see through my windows, I can live without it.

The island fits the space. It just fits. Just as I had envisioned it, when I first described to the contractor what I wanted. There's easily enough room fo me to circle it and have room to open any door, drawer or appliance fully. There is now a splash of wood in the center of a predominantly white kitchen. I'll change the door and drawer pulls to match the others in the room and live with this for a while, to see how it feels, but at this point it feels pretty damn good.

Slowly, this old farmhouse is not just getting a facelift; it's becoming our home. That's our home, not the he contractor's.
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I've got a lot to feel good about. The house is coming together. And many things and my wife are coming together for that matter. We have a new contractor not only who's doing the good work but who we are simpatico with. I'm sitting at the table on the porch finishing up a light breakfast of Greek yogurt over some fruit, accompanied by my morning coffee. I have just emerged from my closet, comfortable in my clothes, a pair of jeans marked 42, that I don't dare wear without a belt, & a favorite old Lands' End shirt that's not a 2X, but an 18. I have to run a brush through my hair come out and water the garden plants, throw a hat on my head, & I'm out the door off to Santa Rosa. I've got multiple errands to run including getting the car serviced at 11:30, and then there's Christopher's graduation party starting at three. There's much to get done.

David (our new contractor) brought me a high-end pole saw,so this weekend I can live the trees on our property that were too high up for me to reach with my own pruning hook. I started stripping the back door yesterday, the garish black paint is gone for most of one side of the door& I'm thrilled with how much better the door looks. David is promised to bring his orbital sander with him today to leave with me for the weekend so I can finish the door, throw a coat of varnish on it and rehang the thing. Getting that chore done is going to make the kitchen the feel much closer to being completely finished. To me, it was a complete eyesore prior; now the warmth of the wood underneath will shine through and be a welcome to all who enter this house. Tomorrow morning I have items that I wish to sell that I must photographs and get listings ready for eBay. Part of getting moved in and really nesting In this home is getting rid of things that I do not want or that are not be needed. It is a decluttering of my space and my life & it feels really good to be doing it.

On the list for this weekend will be starting to move into the bedroom and reaching unity with my husband about what kind of mattress we're going to put in the new bed. New bed here is a bit of a misnomer; It's new to us. I found an absolutely gorgeous, but huge sleigh bed early this year. It's pecan wood nicely carved designs in its side and will dominate the room, but that's not a bad thing for a bedroom now is it?

About the only sense of dread or for building I have now focuses on Washington. I wish I could put that out of my mind completely, but I can't. I am so completely appalled by trumps most recent grandstand yesterday pulling out of the Paris accord, but sadly I'm far from surprised.

Enough navelgazing for now. I need to get my ass in gear.
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The mood here in Lake Wobegon has much improved. Stress levels have gone down since the departure of our former contractor, G-d bless & keep him, far, far away.

David, started work yesterday morning, first assessing what remained undone and expressing strongly what he feels priorities should be, namely getting us into our bedroom and our home lives back to normal ASAP. Yes, he realizes how badly we want the bathroom done & after seeing home get to work, I have confidence he will have that done fairly soon too, but he has expressed to us how stressful living in a construction zone is and how hard it is to live without a sense of normalcy. Temporary sleeping quarters compounds that several fold and what's needed to have the bedroom ready for us to move into, he can knock out by Monday. Giving us usable personal space for us to make our own, is his first priority.

I love the way he thinks. He is also listening to us very carefully and treating us not just respectful, but lovingly. What a breath of fresh air, after months of walking on eggshells!

When he arrived yesterday morning, LJ and I moved were looking at the paint chips of the colors we'd picked for the bedroom. We had selected them a couple of nights before and wanted to see them in daylight. We talked about color with him and then looked thru the stuff left undone.

In the last 48 hours, everything has been moved out of the bedroom, I muddled and taped the large drywall patch over the new electric service to the house, patched a hole in the ceiling and muddled that and primed both patches, as well as the wall between the closet and the bedroom. David has primed the ceiling and painted it, painted the walls, though the accent wall will need one more coat (it's third). Tomorrow, he'll get the the hallway painted, the baseboards installed and painted, and the smoke detector hard wired in, before he moves on to the bathroom. That means this weekend we get the move the bedroom furnishings in. As soon as we get a mattress we get to move out of rth guest bedroom and into our master.

Can I get an a-men!
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Today I:

Finished giving a walnut tree a much needed haircut.
Taped & mudded drywall in our bedroom.
Patched and mudded a hole in the bedroom ceiling.
Smudged the house and driveway.
Unpacked the herbs, spices & extracts and put them away. (Unpacked box quota met!)
Spoke with an old friend.
Made an appointment for the Prius' 10k service.
Did laundry.
Got the last of the outlet face plates installed in the kitchen.
Opened a bottle of wine with dinner.
Watered all the potted plants and the youngsters in the ground that still require watering.
Installed a corner shelf in the upstairs bathroom.
Confirmed with the new contractor he starts tomorrow.
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I've been on CPAP for obstructive sleep apnea for over 20 years. My apnea is not as bad as it was when I was heavier, but from the description of my college room mate, I'm likely one of those people who had it at normal weight. My husband has teased that my nightly use of the machine is evidence of belonging to the Borg collective.

Last night he joined the collective.

For the past several years he has been tired all the time, napping almost daily for several hours by late afternoon. Then recently, now that I'm home much more since retiring, I witnessed him obstructing. I insisted on a sleep study, which revealed moderate obstructive apnea. Yesterday, he drove back to Sonoma county & after seeing his dentist for a new crown and then driving out to check on our old place, he went to the CPAP class at Kaiser and got a trial machine. He'll use this for the next couple of weeks, then return it for them to analyze its data card, after which he'll be getting his own machine.

He's not happy about this, but if it will make him feel better rested, he's willing.

To my surprise, he opted for the full face mask. (I use nasal pillows, with a chin strap to keep my mouth closed.)

I think he slept better last night, for which I'm grateful. Me? Not so much.

He was clingy last night. On a gut level, I think the admission he has a problem, a diagnosis that needs chronic management, is frightening. We're still in the full bed in the guest bedroom upstairs. It's not a comfortable bed for me. With my weight loss since last fall, we now both 'fit' in the bed, but it certainly isn't roomy. If he has plastered himself to me, as he did last night, I can't move. I have no place to turn over. While he was in Santa Rosa yesterday, I spent 4 1/2 hours clearing brush and landscaping in advance of fire season here. With the previous bad fires that hit Lake County over the past several years, I'm taking the warning to create a defensible space around your house seriously. Dry grass and dead tree limbs are fuel for wild fires. I'm in better shape than i once was, and I'm happy I have the ability to do this work, but truthfully, I'm good and sore. That partnered with the lousy bed & a clingy husband did not add up to a good night for me last night.

I need a massage and a long hot soak. Sadly, I don't see either of those happening today. I'm going to have to settle for some coffee and a couple of Tylenol. Time to get up.
osodecanela: (Default)
I've been on CPAP for obstructive sleep apnea for over 20 years. My apnea is not as bad as it was when I was heavier, but from the description of my college room mate, I'm likely one of those people who had it at normal weight. My husband has teased that my nightly use of the machine is evidence of belonging to the Borg collective.

Last night he joined the collective.

For the past several years he has been tired all the time, napping almost daily for several hours by late afternoon. Then recently, now that I'm home much more since retiring, I witnessed him obstructing. I insisted on a sleep study, which revealed moderate obstructive apnea. Yesterday, he drove back to Sonoma county & after seeing his dentist for a new crown and then driving out to check on our old place, he went to the CPAP class at Kaiser and got a trial machine. He'll use this for the next couple of weeks, then return it for them to analyze its data card, after which he'll be getting his own machine.

He's not happy about this, but if it will make him feel better rested, he's willing.

To my surprise, he opted for the full face mask. (I use nasal pillows, with a chin strap to keep my mouth closed.)

I think he slept better last night, for which I'm grateful. Me? Not so much.

He was clingy last night. On a gut level, I think the admission he has a problem, a diagnosis that needs chronic management, is frightening. We're still in the full bed in the guest bedroom upstairs. It's not a comfortable bed for me. With my weight loss since last fall, we now both 'fit' in the bed, but it certainly isn't roomy. If he has plastered himself to me, as he did last night, I can't move. I have no place to turn over. While he was in Santa Rosa yesterday, I spent 4 1/2 hours clearing brush and landscaping in advance of fire season here. With the previous bad fires that hit Lake County over the past several years, I'm taking the warning to create a defensible space around your house seriously. Dry grass and dead tree limbs are fuel for wild fires. I'm in better shape than i once was, and I'm happy I have the ability to do this work, but truthfully, I'm good and sore. That partnered with the lousy bed & a clingy husband did not add up to a good night for me last night.

I need a massage and a long hot soak. Sadly, I don't see either of those happening today. Time to get up.
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In some ways I'm surprised this hasn't happened sooner. I went into migraine aura this morning. All I can say is thank G-d for caffeine.

I had my first migraine at 17. I didn't know what the hell it was at the time. I was at a dorm party my freshman year- wine & cheese. First time I drank red wine. And the last. About 45 minutes after I got there my vision went wonky. Suddenly, my visual field narrow dramatically, & what vision remained it was horridly distorted by zigzagging lines and flashing lights. On top of that the lights in the room hurt like hell. I thought I was going blind. About 15 minutes after that, suddenly I felt like someone had stuck in ice pick through my right eye. I remembered hearing someone behind me if I started to heave into the john, "He didn't have that much to drink did he?" At that moment it felt like my brain was about to spill out through my eyes.

I landed at the college infirmary, where the emergency doctor on duty branded me a migraineur, & mercifully put me out with a shot of morphine.

When I came to a couple of hours later, I was still in pain, but not nearly to the degree I had been. My head still throbbed, though dulled, but amen, my vision has returned to normal. Seeing that I was now awake, The doctor walked back over. "Feeling better?"

"Is this what being hung over feels like? I only had one glass of wine."
"No, this is what it feels like to have to ride out a migraine."

It turns out that not only was I rather textbook in my presentation, but I had had the good fortune to have been taken care of by someone who was a migraineur himself. What I had suffered was a textbook visual aura in less than half an hour from my very first glass of red wine. It turns out that red wine is a rich source of the chemical tyramine, which a good handful of classic migraineurs are sensitive to. Aged cheese, herring and chocolate round out the other large dietary sources. A wine and cheese party is a recipe for a tyramine sensitive individual to experience true misery.

I left the infirmary with a prescription for Cafergot, as well as a small stash of Tylenol with Codeine to deal with the 'aftermath' headache that went on for the next couple of days. Cafergot was a combination medication of ergotamine & Caffeine, which if taken at the very first sign of a migraine aura can abort the headache. Over the years I found for me it usually worked like a charm. In the early 90s, a newer & safer class of migraine medication came out, a class called the triptans.

I have found over the years that meditation, stress reduction, and adequate sleep will usually keep me from suffering migraines. I've also found that if I'm caught with out my meds when a migraine starts, I may be able to break the aura and abort the headache if I hit caffeine pretty hard. We're talking like a quart of strong coffee. Amen, that worked for me this morning.

I think I'm going to take it easy on myself today. I'm not in the mood to go back into aura.
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The beginning of last week while I was rummaging through the garage looking for clothing, I had a moment of abject dejection. The amount of stuff I have to go through is verging on overwhelming. After a moment or three of hyperventilating, I made the resolution that I will open and empty a bare minimum of one box a day until they're all taken care of. Now, that's not a maximum; it's a minimum. On days when there is adequate time, I can do as many boxes as I have space and time for, but every day there is a minimum of at least one box.

Friday it was a dozen, yesterday morning before I left for Santa Rosa, five. So far today, I think it's seven or eight. How many I do in a given day isn't important. As long as it least one got done, I can cut myself some emotional slack, secure in the knowledge that eventually everything will be gone through, put away, or gotten rid of.

My former office manager invited us over for a barbecue at her place, intent on having the entire office staff over. My husband decided to take a pass, to stay home to get stuff done here. I felt the need for some R & R; further, other than seeing Oana last week when she came over, I had not seen any of my office self since early December, at my medical assistant's mother's funeral. Not only did I want to see them, I wanted them to see and hopefully take some pleasure in the changes that I'm making physically.

When I headed out to Santa Rosa, the back of my car was full. There were some items to drop off at Goodwill, and a bunch of clothing I no longer can use, to drop off to a friend who has a son, plus three foster sons, all of them sadly approaching 275~300 pounds and beyond. I also very much wanted to hit the gym and treat myself to a soak in the spa after running. I started lifting weights again recently & my arms are not happy with me. When it comes to lifting weights, I really have to push myself to do it. I don't enjoy doing it, unlike my cardio, which I really do enjoy, but building up some muscle in my chest and arms will be a good thing, as I 'deflate'. I really don't want to have nipples down around my beltline. Given the amount of weight I've already lost, I'm actually surprised by the dearth of hanging skin. Frankly, I expected stuff to sag everywhere, and as I get towards goal, likely there will be major SAG, but so far, not nearly as much as I would have expected. Granted, there's probably still another 80 pounds to get rid of, but honestly I seem to be getting flatter. I laughed, when on two separate occasions I've been told by others that I'm "flatter", but as I look at my lower belly for example, that's exactly what's happening.

For years I've used a laptop while sitting at a table or desk, & absolutely never on my lap. I don't really have a lap. Between the size of my lower belly, and the fact that my thighs are actually rather short, there is no appreciable lap for me to put the laptop on, at least, not yet. Such is the case for most people with Dunlop's disease (A.k.a. when the belly done lops over the belt!). Over the last several months my lower abdomen has noticeably contracted. There is still much more there than I am happy with, putting it mildly, but it is shrinking noticeably & at least for the time being along with it, my skin.

This morning I focused on boxes that were upstairs in the house. Within the next few weeks, we will likely be moving into our bedroom downstairs (once the drywall is repaired and the room painted) & the bathroom is completed. Since very little is being done to the upstairs, that hasn't already been done, the rooms upstairs can soon be set up for a combination of my husband's office space and guest bedrooms. It's time to get boxes that are upstairs opened and unpacked – basically out of the way, so that the rooms can be put to their proper use.

I've been spending a lot of my time outdoors focusing on the landscaping. I'm learning. Up till now, I have done very little gardening in my life. I grew up a city kid. A tree may grow in Brooklyn, but it sure as hell wasn't in my neighborhood. Over the last month I have taken out a fair number of bushes & other plants that were unruly and unwanted. One of them was an oleander that despite its size (about 20 feet tall) was looking both leggy & rather sickly. Further, it was right behind the garage, a space that we are planning to enclose and create workshop space for me and my artwork. That oleander was blocking any potential view of the lake and so I decided it needed to go. I managed to get that plant out, but still need to deal with its root ball, which I'm sure will be no small task. I've done major pruning on fruit trees all over this property and have cut back many dead branches off of a fair number of beautiful Manzanitas we have dotting the property. Every couple of days I'm out somewhere with the Weedwhacker, trying to make a defensible space around the house in advance of fire season here. Our county has been hit the last several years by devastating fires, something in our neighborhood has been spared. I cannot afford to tempt fate and so I must continue whacking down the weeds and pruning the plants to reduce our own fire risk here.

60 to 70 years ago, there were a large number of rather stately grafted walnut trees here, both on our land and the surrounding properties. A fair number of them have died, and two of them are just outside of our fences. One is immediately to the side of the garage, while the other is right at the corner of out property where Cliff and Park Drive intersect. The one next to the garage still has some life in it; the rootstock seems healthy and whatever the native rootstock plant is seems to be springing to life. The grafted branches however, not so much. Up until a month ago, I thought the entire tree was dead, but in the ensuing weeks, towards the center of the tree, new foliage is springing up. Unfortunately, The bulk of the grafted tree is not coming back and in addition to it being a fire hazard, it's uglier than sin; not exactly what you want for guests to see, as they drive up to your house and park. When I went to take out the trash, I decided no time like the present to attack the tree with my pruning hook. My pruner extends to 18 feet and has a saw blade out the top. It's a lot of work to get through the trunk-like branches high up in the tree, but it's a hell of a lot safer than climbing the tree myself with a chainsaw. I came back inside, threw on a pair of overalls, without a shirt, slathered on some sunscreen and walked back out with the pruning hook. Did I mention it's 92° here today? I'm on the front porch now sipping a tall glass of ice water, before I go back out to take out the remainder of the dead wood. It's looking a hell of a lot better than it did and if I have the energy, thereafter I will start to attack the one on the corner. Later this week I see a dump run happening to get the deadwood out of here.

I was planning to hit the gym today, but I think I may just skip it given the upper body workout I've gotten today in the yard. Back to work.
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It's been a busy day.

I'm sitting on the front porch at watching the sun over the lake as it sinks towards the mountain. I'm wearing just a pair of gym shorts and nothing else having just gotten back from said gym. I ran a 5K in 36 minutes and 10 seconds, that is if the elliptical is to be believed. I did it while listening to Rachel Maddow's podcast from last night. Amazing how anger at the current administration can be motivation to get out and run at breakneck speed. This is a minute and 20 seconds faster but the last time I ran a 5K the end of last week.

Speaking of the administration, times are feeling more and more The Nixon administration just before his resignation. Trouble is the country is much more divided than it was back then, or at least seems to be & I don't think we had nearly the degree of right wing extremist media as we have today. Neither did the Internet exist, along with Breitbart news and the Drudge Report, pedaling their version of "news". Still, each day brings word of yet another outrageous thing associated with the president and his administration. I simply cannot fathom how this can continue without his base turning on him.

In addition to running and lifting weights today, I've spent time clearing brush, helping out contractor cl among the kitchen fun tile post grouting, and unpacking stuff and getting it out away. I'm trying to find as much as I can that I can do that with. Today, it was my coats and jackets, as well as Pop's suits.

I packed up a good sized box of outerwear, none of which fit me last December. Now all of it does. I have an Aussie oilcloth duster now hanging on the back porch airing out, several nice leather jackets in my closet as well as two XL Landsend field coats in the closet. There are two coats that will go away in a couple of months, one a Levi denim jacket, the other a down coat. They fit loosely now, but by fall I suspect they will have outlived their usefulness size wise. I feel a bit like a kid in a candy store. "Oh! Yeah! Look what fits!! Yes!!"

The suits were also pleasing but in a different way. These were my father's and came to me after his death over 20 years ago. I've never worn any of them. A) they were too small and b) I never had the occasion to need them. Still they were pop's, which made them important to me. Pop wore suits daily. He was a pharmaceutical detail man working in hospitals, also a heavy man. We however were built very differently and since I'd been to big to try them on till now, I'm just now realizing how different.

The box was labeled "open @ 250". They had been hanging in my office closet from the time they came to me. All were too small for me to wear when I got them. When I closed the office last year about 1/2 went to Goodwill, 1/2 I kept. I cried when I left them there. Even though I was ready to let go of them, since they had been pop's, it was difficult. As for the remainder I'd kept, traditional men's dresswear changes so little, that a classically cut business suit really changes very little over the years. If they're kept properly, you can get away using them for decades. Anyway, suits vary in cuts. Pop wore a portly or executive cut where the drop from the chest circumference to the waist was 4". A standard suit is 6". An Athletic cut is 8". Weirdly enough, guess who's an athletic cut. Almost all the dress clothes fit now. Sort of. Any suit where the jacket fits, the pants are huge and have to be taken in. Any where the pants fit, the jacket is too big. I now fit a size 52 suit coat, but the pants have to be taken down to a 43" waist. Pop's 52 suit have pants that are 48".

Fortunately for me, both my grandfathers were tailors. They made and did alterations on men's clothing their whole working lives. Pop's father first stuck me behind a sewing machine when I was 6 or 7. I know how to take all those pants in and if the need for a suit arises, I'm ready.

Our contractor will soon depart. When is not absolutely certain, but his work is drawing to a close. With luck the bathroom will be finished by the weekend. Famous last words. We'll see.

Also the central air and heat people are finally on the installation path. Ducting is now mostly in. The real heat this area is known for has not hit yet, but it's just around the corner. I have my fingers crossed that work will be done before the temperatures begin to roast. I succeeded in finding a pet door that is large enough for Arjuna and that fits the both the sliding door to the front porch as well as the one to the back patio, so he will have egress once the heat hits and we have a h doors closed to keep the house cool.

We (as in my husband and I along with 2 helpers) husband upped out the carpeting, padding and fiberboard underlayment in the living room last weekend intime for heat and air guys to set the floor ducts at the correct height. The old floor is in surprisingly good shape, only needing two small repair patches. Turns out the front living room was once two separate rooms and where the wall once existed the hardwood did not. Given the pattern and size of the missing hardwood, I'd say there were either French or pocket doors that separated the two rooms. Patching those missing areas should not too difficult or extensive. I may ask the contractor to take that on, or not depending his demeanor this week. If not, we've got another construction guy lined up for the next phase of renovation and if floor repairs are not his forte, Oana's husband did flooring for half a dozen years. This might be something he would be willing to take on.

Much to do. Time to go make supper.
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It's been a long, & productive day. I'm sitting on the porch swing, enjoying not just the breeze, but just the ability to sit down.

I've been up since just past 6 this morning.

LJ & were at 6s & 7s with each other last night, and annoyed, I went upstairs to lie down. I had no appetite for supper. Not hungry? Then don't eat. As I think about this, I'm smiling. Me? Skipping dinner because I'm not hungry.? Well, that's progress. Once undressed & lying down, I realized just how tired I was & shortly thereafter, I was out cold.

I awoke at 3 briefly, in the midst of a pleasant, but strange dream, turned over & successfully went back, not only to sleep, but back to the same dream. I was still in the midst of it when I awoke this morning. For some odd reason I was in a taxi in I think NYC. I was sharing the cab with a guy who needed me to witness his wedding ceremony which was going to happen right there in the cab. He handed me the wedding rings to hold till the justice of he peace asked for the rings. The one for her looked similar to mine, but smaller and instead of channel set diamonds hers were channel set emeralds, graduated in size to a center stone nearly double the size of the smallest at either end. Like mine, the part of the band towards the palm was solid gold. His was a simple solid gold band. I slid them both onto my left pinky for safe keeping, stones facing my palm. I was signing their wedding license as the witness when I awoke. Once I opened my eyes, the first thing thing I did was to look at my hands, just to be certain I didn't have on any other jewelry, other than my own wedding band. That's how vivid this dream was.

I dressed and slid into a pair of cargo pants. As I reached for my belt, said pants made a run for it and went straight to my ankles. They're 46s and were the only pair of pants I still had upstairs, all the rest having gone into he closet downstairs. I opted for a pair of bike shorts instead. Those, at least, will stay up.

I attacked my closet today, installing more shelving, as well as a clothes rod, all of it for footwear. I have a bunch of boots, which at our old place hung by hooks from copper pipe near the ceiling of my old closet. Getting everything installed directly into studs was crucial for strength and durability, so I took my time getting things just right. I'm happy with the results. After getting things up, I headed out to the barn on a shoe hunt. I'd located on box of boots there yesterday, so I suspected I'd hit pay dirt. I did. I also found more pants, specifically the box of 42's. The dress pants were still to small to wear, but not the jeans. All are now in the closet. I also found a box of XL shirts, plus some even smaller pants which for the time being will remain in the barn. I made a mental note, backed up with a reminder on my phone's calendar to check them again in late July.

I'm excited with change and progress. I feel in some ways like I'm emerging from a chrysalis.
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I charged all 3 20v DeWalt batteries Wednesday afternoon and first thing Thursday morning, I was out to finish whacking the weeds that ring the outside of the property. Yeah, there remains plenty within the fencing to take care of, but this is the stuff the neighbors see and I want to be on good terms with them all. I made it perhaps a 1/5 of the way around the west side of our land before the third battery gave out. I'll continue to do the same daily till I've finished. Slowly the place is looking more like a homestead, than an abandoned ruin.

Also Wednesday morning my contractor took 15 minutes to get the baseboards nailed in within my closet. Thereafter I went to the garage, in hunt of my clothes. I didn't bother with the box labeled current wardrobe. It was current when it was packed in January, but that was 38 pounds ago. I did locate a bin I packed away perhaps a dozen years ago of both jeans and office slacks/Dockers/khakis. Jackpot!

Moreover, I know there's another box floating of pants around somewhere, with the next 2 sizes down so I should be good for another 4 months or so. There's no longer a need to shop for pants any time soon.

Yesterday, Oana (my friend & former office manager) came to visit a yard the place, her 11 year old in tow. Zeb was an appropriately bored pre-adolescent who went not hiking disappeared into a portable video game on the phone; even he fell in love with the view from the front porch and it's swing. We hiked a bit down to the lake, taking a path my husband knew, but one I had not taken before leading to a well worn dock two properties to the west. I'm grateful to see my gym work has paid off; I made it down and back up the steep hill without difficulty, breathing a bit hard back near the top, but carrying a conversation with no trouble.

After they departed, I went on the hunt for more clothing to put away. Having found a small box of 2Xs the other day, most of which now fit, I remembered there's a box somewhere of Levi's denim shirts I'd like to find. I'm dead certain those will not only to wear now, but will serve well as light jackets or over shirts once nights grow cooler again. A quick survey of the garage yielded zip, though much remains inaccessible for now. On the off chance they might be in the barn, I looked there. No go on the denim, but I did find a box of long forgotten 2Xs, both dress and casual shirts. Fortunately for me even though they were in the barn, which was damp most of the winter, I'd put them in vacuum storage bags before boxing them up. Every last one of those fit. After essentially living out of a suitcase for the past 5 months, having a couple of dozen shirts to choose from in the morning feels like an embarrassment of riches! It's also now time to pack away all of the 3's I can still get away with wearing most of them, but more and more I'm starting to look like a kid in his dad's hand-me-downs. Why do that when I have stuff that's the right size now? I've set aside 1/2 a dozen of the 3s to send off to a friend up north who apparently likes knocking around in oversized shirts. He's likely to read this so hopefully I'll have them in the post shortly (once I have a mailing address). The remainder are in the process of being folded and being sealed in those vacuum storage bags. I'm going to hold on to them for now. Once I'm certain they've outlived their usefulness for me, I'll divest.

Why not let go of them now? It's a combination of fear and practicality. While the trend for me has been downward with my weight for the past 3 1/2 years, I went back up for a while. The discovery of my gluten intolerance causing my psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, put me into remission and allowed me to start moving again. In 2 years time, I went down about 80 pounds. Then time went to hell in a handbasket and for a year I had no time to exercise at all. While I was putting in 65-70 hours per week, I stayed gluten free and without the inflammation that had hobbled me, but due to time constraints I was once again physically inactive. I regained 35 pounds of what I'd lost. With my time once again under my control, those 35 pounds are gone again, along with another 30. I have no intention of becoming inactive again, but stranger things have happened. Who can foresee the future? What happens it my arthritis returns for some reason? What happens if I am forced to hunt for work again, which remains a possibility. The 'what ifs' are nagging enough that for now, these shirts are going to be put into storage. I let go of the 4's, confident enough that those would no longer be needed, just as once before I let go of the 5's.

I did have an OMG moment Thursday evening in the garage. In rifling through boxes looking for shirts, within the space of ten minutes, I came across the two extremes of what I still have. I'd held onto both of these as reminders of what I'm capable of doing; I found the largest and smallest pants I've worn as an adult. The smallest date from my sophomore year in college (1974), while I was both running and doing yoga. They're a pair of Levi 501's, with a 32" waist. I held them up and first thought they were my husband's. Then I recognized the patch I'd sewn on them. I can scarcely believe they ever fit me. The other pair was from my heaviest weight in 1990, a green pair of cords. The purchase of that pair drove me to start out trying to change my life. The waist on them is 64", double the size of the jeans.

Today I'm 172 pounds lighter than when I bought those cords, but 90 pounds heavier than the day I got those jeans. Thinking about that simply floors me. Admitting it is hard to do, but I need to own it. I held onto both these garments as reminders, not just of what was but what's possible.
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It was my husband's turn to run into Santa Rosa today. I've been up since eight (I'm actually shocked I slept that late!). I've spent 2 1/2 hours weed whacking today. I'm taking a short break while I'm waiting for the batteries to recharge. (Yeah, it's an electric Weedwhacker.)

Huzzah! The heating and cooling guy is here at work installing the central air and heat! Say amen!

Enough naval gazing for now, I need to get back to work. More to follow later when I finally sit down to have some dinner.
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My closet is nearing completion. The contractor took off Friday morning for a previously planned side job. I slapped paint onto the walls and ceiling on Thursday. What was left from his perspective was the base board molding and painting the door jam.

I hung the majority of the shelving/clothing rod combo (thanks Closetmaid!) yesterday and today. I lined the back and one side wall with two levels of the stuff. There are more planned, but not till the baseboard is in, the door is back on and the jamb is painted.

Late this afternoon I went to the garage, found three large boxes of shirts and carried them into the bedroom to open, sort, try on, cull and *gasp* put away!! Three boxes came in and before I was done, two went out to the car to go to Goodwill mañana. That's not quite half of shirts I carried in today. What went bye bye? Anything clearly too large, anything I just wouldn't, wear even if it did fit, and anything torn or stained. Much of what remains is from Landsend and of better quality. I'm certain I've kept more than I should, but more culling is planned. Boxes I opened today were mostly packed in late December/early January, which was about 25 pounds into the 65 I've dropped since I started last November. They were labeled 'current wardrobe'. I've yet to find the smaller sizes that were packed last fall. Those constitute mostly 2Xs and XLs.

I found a handful of 2Xs in this batch, all of which now fit. I suspect once I find the boxes of the smaller shirts, most of the 3's will get packed up again, to be given away down the line. As I've said previously, letting go of stuff does not come naturally to me. I jettisoned a huge amount of stuff in the process of packing, knowing if was just the first cut. As I'm carving away at myself, and letting go of the lifestyle choices that were not working for me, so too am I chopping away at my possessions, winnowing what is worthy of retaining.

Oddly enough, I found myself talking to the shirts as I sorted and discarded. Some were validated - "you were well made and once looked good on me; now it's time you keep someone else warm." Others, not so much. "Your sleeves were always too long/short" "You were always wrinkled." "What was I thinking when I bought you?" I'm actually glad my husband left me alone to sort things. Had he seen me talking to myself, he might try to have me committed.

So the top clothing rod is now half full. Three solid feet of shirts. See why I'm saying I've kept more than I should? This is just for now; the lion's share of these will disappear from my closet by the time I hit 250. Assuming I've found the smaller sizes by then.

I have kept a handful of 'before' clothes, reminders of what horrors I'm capable of when I leave myself and my needs on the back burner, if not off of the stove altogether. There's a tie dyed polo, I was so happy to get back into. It now swims on me. I've got pictures taken of me wearing it, from a couple of years ago. (For anyone just tuning in, while I'm down almost 65# since November, I've lost almost 110# since I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance 3 1/2 years ago.)

Why just shirts for now? Pants are going on the lower rod, and until the baseboards are nailed in, I'm not doing anything that will make the contractor's work more difficult. However, this sorting, purging, and putting away was cathartic! It was a major step towards a return to normalcy and damn is that ever a relief!
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I had a ton of errands to get done today. I succeeded at most of them. A Costco run was on that list.

I was on my way toward the pet treats and paper products when I spotted these - dried mango slices covered in dark chocolate. Two of my absolute favorite things combined. The bag had my name on it.

Now home, as I read the package, I'm both amused and impressed.

Sustainably farmed, gluten free, kosher, organic, fair trade, rich in both fiber and antioxidants. All but as words that certainly catch my attention. The only thing not listed was halal. I feel like Costco must have seen me coming.

I have to say, damn these are good! I got 3 bags & they're so good I'm putting them up high in the pantry. I definitely don't need them too easy to get to. They're that good.
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It's been a long day. I had plans his morning of heading over to Santa Rosa, running some errands and hitting th gym there, which would allow me the reward of a soak in the spa thereafter. That got short circuited.

I had just finished brushing my teeth, when our contractor finally made it clear, he was unclear what my pattern was for the shower. The tile has been in the house for over a month and he first is looking at it now. A 15 minute discussion which I could not get out of him prior, made it clear I needed to drive back to the tile place to exchange tile. Did I mention the place I got the tile is in Sacramento?

The good news was when I exchanged the tile, I wound up saving significantly. I went from white beveled subway tile to the white flat subway tile, got some extra bullnose tile we were missing and I got almost $400 returned to my credit card. Which was more than enough to pay for a new tile saw he felt he needed.

At least I returned home to find they'd almost finished installing the kitchen back splash. Whee!

It was just a 6 hour jaunt to the Central Valley in 90° heat.

So I hit the gym tonight, and got my half hour run in. I did make a goal for this week of making it to the gym daily and getting a 1/2 hour run (or reasonable equivalent). So I'm 4 for 4 for the week so far. FYI - that half hour reliably gets me to 2.5 miles and a burn of 500 kCal. This is a very good thing.

And tomorrow, I get to go to Santa Rosa to do the errands I was going to do today, which now include getting the kind of grout the contractor wants to use in the kitchen.
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A friend asked me about the changes I've made to my diet, and my weight loss and if there was more to it than eliminating gluten and limiting other grains. I know a lot of other celiac & non-celiac gluten intolerant folks and just going gluten free is not going to take weight off of anyone. Many gluten free alternative products are very high in sugar and other very simple carbs. I have little more business eating them in large amounts, than wheat products. They won't flare my joints or skin, but they do me no favors.

Here's what I said to him:

I firmly believe that diabetics & prediabetics need to reduce intake of all simple carbohydrates to reduce the need for insulin. The more simple carbs consumed, the more insulin is required to keep blood sugar normal; the body responds by making more, as long as you still have a functional pancreas. Many, if not most, insulin requiring diabetics report insulin makes them hungry. Why wouldn't your own endogenous insulin do the same? I have noted for me personally, the more simple carbs I consume, the hungrier I become thereafter.

Further, insulin causes not only your general cell population to take in glucose to use for energy, it also decreases the amount of fat turned into ketones by your fat cells. All that extra insulin around is screaming at the fat cells not to break down fat.

The reason for exercise here isn't just to burn more calories, but to also increase insulin sensitivity as well. Again, it decreases the need for more insulin. Again, speaking from my own personal experience, my hunger level decreases with exercise.

So, in my case, getting off of the gluten turns out to have put my inflammatory arthritis in remission, so I can exercise again without the degree of misery I was having. This year is not to say I'm pain free; I'm not. I still have the damage that was done to contend with. I no longer have joints that get red, tender & swollen. I also now have a built in assist in resisting the temptation of wheat based foods. While potatoes, rice and other starchy food were easier for me to resist or limit, I never met a slice of bread I didn't like. If my husband asked me to bring him home a pastry, if it didn't go into the trunk, it was even money it didn't make it home. Today, I could have a dozen donuts sitting on the seat next to me and there is no way in hell I would touch them. The compulsion to eat them is gone. The temptation to grab something fast is challenged. I have to read everything I eat or I'm gonna pay the price for it which gives me the time to honestly consider if I really want to eat it. The two times early on I had wheat accidentally, I was visited by arthritic flares that lasted a week. So my choice is clear; I can walk or I can eat wheat. I cannot do both.

I'm pushing my exercise now for both weight control and sanity. I'm calmer and much more centered when I work out. It makes me feel better and more vital. That's the immediate benefit. The body I see emerging? That's icing on the cake, to use an unfortunate analogy.
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it got up to 89° today. I now sitting in the cool of the porch looking out at the lake. My husband is upstairs, napping.

I split for the gym several hours ago and true to my promise to myself, got my half hour run in. I managed to hit 2 1/2 miles at 29 minutes in, clocking in at 520 kcal, If the elliptical is to be believed. With the hour and a half Spence weeding in the garden, as well as moving the tomatoes to an area where they'll get more sun, I'm up somewhere around 900 cal for the day in exercise.

I know yesterday I said I would probably cover in the upper 260s for the next week to 10 days. Well, I weighed in at 264 1/2 at the gym. I am ecstatic with the change. I am much more comfortable weight-bearing joints wise and I'm comfortable in my own clothing. The closet walls got primed today; I could wind up hanging shelves in there is early as Thursday which would be a godsend.

I found myself going through my journal from earlier this year. It was right after New Year's when I broke through from 300 into the 290s. At the time I wrote that for the first time in next to forever getting back to my normal weight felt like a real possibility and was no longer just a fond fantasy. It appears to me (and perhaps my flatter myself) that I had graduated from "that fat guy" to a guy that's fat. This isn't just semantics. I suspect if anyone were to have described to me previously, fat or obese would have had to have been the first descriptor. I'm sure that for many people asked to describe me it still will be, but at this point, I'm also pretty sure it wouldn't be for all.

Enough navel gazing for now. I have stuff to do.
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Well the goal was to hit the gym daily this week and to get a minimum of half an hour in on the elliptical. Well, my gym has all of three and all were occupied when I got there. I opted instead for a treadmill, which I promptly set for a 15° incline. I went for 50 minutes at 2.5 mph, not a blindingly fast pace, but nonetheless a brisk one to be walking up that steep a hill (I mean incline). According to the machine if it's to be believed, I ascended some 1600 vertical feet in that time. I was pretty well drenched when I was finished, much the way that I am after a run on the elliptical.

I went on to the neck to try and figure out just how many calories were expended & Three different calculators came up with over 880 kcal. None too shabby for an old fat guy.
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So it's May day and I'm just leaving the house for the gym. I need to get my run in. 24 hours ago I was just leaving the gym to come home having done 2 1/2 miles on the elliptical in a half an hour. My goal this week is to replicate that daily.

I used to challenge myself, when previously working out, sort of let's see what I can do this week. Well I decided this morning to make it a goal to get their daily for the week and see where I go.

So I just stepped on the scale in the garage. (Hopefully, by the end of the week, the scale will not want to be living in the garage, but in the bathroom, as completing the master bath is our contractor's goal for the week.) After brunch yesterday, I'm now 269 pounds. Given recent history I now likely to hover in the high 260s for the next 7 to 10 days and then find myself suddenly in the low 260s. If I can continue the current rate of progress, I should be down in the neighborhood of 250 by pride weekend, perhaps even a bit lower, but as I am so fond of saying, will see with the passage of time. Both my legs are significantly harder and more muscular than when I started in November. I suspect there's probably somewhere in the vicinity of 5 pounds of muscle added to my frame, & if that's the case, then I've already lost north of 60 pounds of fat.

While I was in the garage I spotted a box labeled "2X bike shorts", which I of course opened. Guess what fits! Now bike shorts are very stretchy and I could physically get into these when I packed them, although more appropriately these would have been labeled tourniquets & not bike shorts. I now have on a pair underneath my regular gym shorts and I'm going to use them on my run today to see how they feel. The weather has gotten good, and I think it's time to attend to fixing up the bicycle this week. The gym is just 4 miles from here and should prove a relatively easy bike ride (famous last words), which in turn will increase my calorie burn. Once upon a time (read college and medical school), I was a bicycle commuter. My rather sudden weight gain started the day I stopped doing that. To be honest one of my pipe dreams is to be able to bicycle around this lake, all 100 miles of it. That's never going to happen unless I start getting back on that time.

Also in the pipeline this week, should be the finishing of my walk in closet, which in turn is going to allow me to really unpack, sort through my clothing, find out what fits, and figure out what goes away. I was at Home Depot last week to pick up the shelving I need for the closet once it's completed. I've got closet maid wire shelving come out with clothes rods built-in to go round two of the four walls of the closet at two different levels there are more shelves to go on the wall with the door to the left hand side to serve for a place for shoes and boots. All I have left to do is to collect my chest of drawers from the old house, so I have placed for sweaters, T-shirts &socks and the like.

I'm excited at the prospect. Not only will this be getting on with life, but also it will be yet another yardstick to measure my progress by. Most of the shirts that I still have hanging in the closet unpacked are 3X. Some of them swim on me. I know for certain it's time to get rid of any 4Xs I still have, and so to likely most of the 3s. I can't wait to start looking through pants. I'm very curious to see if I have any dress clothing that will fit.

Enough navel gazing for now. I need to get my butt to the gym and start moving it, rather than counting my chickens before they hatch.
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In November, while we were back east, my Aunt Lu, my mother's brother's widow passed away. Yesterday it was Aunt Arlene, my father's brother's widow.

Aunt Arlene was 88 & had been in dwindling health for some time. The funeral is Monday morning and I'm in no position to go. With all recent expenses in the remodel and no money coming in, I really can't afford to fly to Minnesota right now. My sister is making the trip from NJ, which I'm grateful for. At least someone from my immediate family will be there.

I need to call Aunt Rita in the morning, and confirm my cousins' current addresses and get condolences into the mail. My sister just texted me the obituary from this morning's Star Tribune.

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