Tuesday, December 25, 2007

And to All a Good Night!

For everyone out there to whom Christmas means more than a day off of work and an excuse to eat cookies-- Merry Christmas! For anyone like me-- enjoy your day off and your cookies (and spiced cider, spiked eggnog, and/or chocolates). Right now, I am basking in the sense of accomplishment that can only come from finishing a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Not just that, but finishing it between the time it arrived as a Chanukah present and today. I think working on puzzles may be an undiscovered form of meditation-- the intense concentration, the forgetting of one's daily concerns, and yet the mindlessness of sorting and piecing. I bet that studies would show that doing jigsaw puzzles lowers one's bloodpressure and resting heartrate the way that meditation does. Since no one seems to be studying this, however, I have no proof to my theory. Or disproof, for that matter.

Speaking of searching for houses (Yes, I am master of segue. No, there is no missing paragraph.) Don and I have potentially found another candidate. The log cabin we were interested in turned out to be a burned-out shell.

Us: So when was this place last occupied, do you know?

Agent: Oh, not since the fire in 2002!

Us: .... fire?

So the "Unique opportunity for first-time homebuyer or investor!" was ever so slightly exagerated and should have read "Burned-out building ready for tear-down-- but has a nice corner lot." We have learned to take the listing ads with not so much a grain of salt as a full tablespoon. Our weekends lately consist of driving from town to town, clutching a handful of ReMax printouts. Good times.

Because our price range is at the bottom of the barrel for these parts, we've seen some interesting interpretations of "house". One that defies description sits on four acres of land that seem to have been used as a private dump for decades-- and as a private cemetery, with 3 graves behind the house. Not old graves, either, but from the 1980's. Between that, the junked-out car engines, camper shells, boats, and random trash, and the hunters that we could hear but not see had me desperate to get back into the car and onto the main road.

However. There is one possibility I'm quite hopeful about, in a town about 20 minutes away. It's a farmhouse, built in the 1880's, and it's in our price range-- barely. To me, it looks like what a real house should be. You know, with two stories, a staircase, pitched roof, porches, fireplaces. We haven't been inside yet but it looks like people actually live there, or did until recently. Which indicates that the house is habitable. This is a real step up for us. The brochure claims the place is "fundamentally sound but could stand some cosmetic improvements." ...we just need to find out what that means once translated from realtor-speak into normal human. "Cosmetic improvements" aught to mean that some surface stuff needs updating. But we shall see. The house is over 100 years old, after all, and not so expensive. There must be a reason why.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


January 1990 -- December 2007

What can you say, when you've lost the dog you've had since childhood? Oh Max, Maxi-poo, Maxim Poochini, puppy, we will miss you so much. I can't imagine our family without you in it... I'm so sorry that I couldn't be there for you at the end, when your seventeen years got to be too much for you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Over-disclosure, Much?




Seriously, unless reading about the all-powerful uterus appeals to you, I'd skip this post. I mean, *I* wouldn't, because I love uteri, but I'd think that *you* might want to...


I never feel comfortable discussing my Womanly Cycles without a disclaimer, because some people are so weird about stuff like that. Like how some men are fine with picking up an economy pack of tampons for the lady in their life, and others feel faint at the very idea of, you know, that happening. Squeamish. I know a guy like that and he's a doctor, for heavens' sake... Told me that he attended a birth as part of his residency and it really grossed him out, what with the bleeding and all. And yet he wanted to be a brain surgeon-- don't brains bleed too? Or is that not gross because it's not Female Blood? I don't know. I just wouldn't want anyone to read my blog and have to reel away from the computer wailing, "My eyes! MY EYES!"

Anyways, I am on my period today! Sound the trumpets, hang the banners-- the trying-to-conceive begins again this month! I thought it would be last month, but Don wanted to wait one more cycle and I was fine with that; one additional month to heal and recover. My periods have been different since the last miscarriage. They're heavier, last longer, and start more suddenly than before; no spotting, just Bam!-- period. I've read that going through pregnancy and giving birth can change a woman's cycle, but can a miscarriage do the same thing? I mean I guess of course it can as mine have done just that, I just didn't know. I take it as a good sign; maybe my hormones have straightened themselves out a little, maybe the pregnancy and supplemental progesterone jump-started my system. It feels cleansing. Of course, I take things like cloudy weather or a stiff breeze as good signs, too. I'm irrepressibly optimistic and slightly superstitious... it's a fabulous combination.

I'm also PMSing much less than before, but I'm attributing that more to a better diet, as PMS is so strongly correlated with that. It's all the Omega-3s, the salmon dinners, probably, and the B- vitamin complex in my prenatal multi's.

I feel like, logically, there's no real reason for another pregnancy to fail. Statistically, I'm not at much higher odds of losing a third pregnancy than someone who's never lost one, especially since I've been screened for all the major causes. I think we can write the first loss off as a blighted ovum, something that's common and doesn't raise the odds for future miscarriage. The second, I don't know... a genetic default? A fluke? A bad egg? Hard to say in retrospect and we'll never really know. I think that between ensuring adequate nutrition, taking the artificial progesterone, maybe some baby aspirin... There's no reason to think that it won't work.

Emotionally, though, it's like Charlie Brown trying to kick that damn football.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Abusing My Powers

Awhile ago, the bank I work for started a new program in which you can get pretty pictures on your debit card. There are other things that go with it, like donations to charities and organizations or whatever, but the way I see it is that your debit card is now purty when it wasn't before. I didn't pay much attention to this, mainly because I didn't know how to switch people over to the new shiny cards. But then various coworkers and customers started turning up with their pretty check cards, and one card had a wolf on it. (It was for a non-profit wilderness-protection group.) Don just loves wolves. So I figured out how to do it so that I could get Don the wolfie card. Of course I didn't change his account myself because we're not supposed to mess with our own accounts; one of my coworkers made the switch and it was a nice surprise: Hey, what's this in the mail? Why it's a lovely new check card, with a wolf on it! That you will never confuse with your credit card again! (Because our debit and credit cards are nearly identical, leading to issues like, "Why on earth did you CHARGE a 12-pack of beer?" "I didn't mean to-- must have handed over the wrong card.")

Don loved it. And there were no problems with his existing card; the new card had the same number and everything. Fast forward to last night...

When I was out to dinner with some friends of ours. My friend (I'll call her "Jen") was asking about the fees on her account, and I offered to waive any future fees, cuz I have crazy authority like that! Not to the point of refunding fees already charged though... that would be too much power for me. So this morning I find Jen's account and set it to waive maintenance fees for the coming year, no problem. But THEN...

I remember that Jen is a rabid, obsessed, Red Sox fanatic. Crazy. And we have a Red Sox debit card! And wouldn't it be fantastic for her to get, as a surprise, a debit card that displays her devotion to her team! (You know, in case anyone missed the baseball cap.) She would love that, really. Except that I didn't realize that for some reason the Red Sox special debit card (unlike the Wilderness Whoevers) is a MASTERCARD, not a Visa-- which is what most debit cards-- including Jen's existing debit card-- are. So when I changed the card from plain to fancy, it also changed from Visa to Mastercard-- which automatically closed the old debit card and issued a new number.

Which left me in the embarrassing position of having to call Jen and tell her that I had just accidentally canceled her debit card, and totally ruin the surprise. I'm glad that she's got a good sense of humor, in any case.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Call me Einstein

I have discovered the following:

1. The public library. Why did I ever stay away from this marvel of civilized society? The limit here is 75 books! 75! I can take out as many as I want for free. There are a lot of small libraries incorporated into a larger system here, it's nice.

2. Creamed spinach. The cream, it does things to the spinach. Makes it milder, somehow. Perhaps this explains why spinach with cheese is so good, like in a quiche or spinach dip or that Greek dish I can't pronounce or spell. I don't know what kind of chemistry this is, but it will be hard for me not to add cream anytime I do spinach from now on.

3. For some reason I've been sleeping really well lately. One of these dietary supplements seems to be having the un-looked-for side affect of helping my chronic, mild insomnia. Tuesday night I went to bed at 10:00 and fell right asleep and slept till 6:00. Felt like a new person after, seriously. Unfortunately I don't know which part of this cocktail is doing the honors.

It's been a big week, really.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Apparently It's not "Gravy Train"

When I wake up before Don, I tend to serenade him with whatever song is playing in my head as I awake. The song selection (including but not limited to "the more we get together", "this land is your land", "crazy train", "let it snow", and "wild mountain honey") combined with my (pretty damn awful) singing voice combined with my lack of a snooze button...

Who wouldn't want me as a wife, seriously?! I mean come on.

By the way, everybody wakes up with music in their heads, right? That's normal?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Label Rant Part 2

Because nothing's more fun than random bitching, right?

In getting ready to try-to-concieve again (hoping that third time's the charm, right?) I've gone from taking no pills or supplements at all to lining them up on the kitchen counter like an old lady. I'm now taking: a prenatal daily multi-vitamin, a fish-oil supplement, an additional, 1,000IU Vitamin D supplement, and am about to start taking the additional B6 again as well. Oddly, the vitamin D is also derived from fish-liver oil, but it makes no claims for containing omega-3's, nor do the fish-oil capsules claim to have vitamin D. The vitamin D also contains a fair amount of naturally-occuring Vitamin A; because of this, it has the standard pregnancy warning on the label as too much A can be dangerous then. I decided to compare the amount of A in the D supplement with the amount found in the prenatal vitamins and it's actually the same amount.

What's funny is that the prenatal vitamins ALSO contain the pregnancy warning, as do the fish-oil caps and the B6 pills. I just don't get it. I can understand why a product containing Vitamin A would carry the "consult your doctor" warning, but prenatal vitamins are specifically designed for pregnant women. "Hello? Doctor? Is it ok if I take pregnancy vitamins while pregnant? It is? Oh thank you!" And B6 is commonly prescribed to ease discomfort in pregnancy; the reason I have a bottle is because my doctor recc'ed the stuff for my morning sickness. And fish oil? Which contains nutrients that are both absolutely essential for the growing fetus (DHA and EPA) and hard to get elsewhere without eating a ton of mercury-tainted fish? What could possibly earn fish oil the consult-your-doc warning?

And don't even get me started on the idea that only the all-mighty doctor knows what's best for the hapless, ignorant mama-to-be. Because, you know, we can't possibly have the means and intelligence to research and make our own decisions.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I think I'll sue

I hate how litigious our society is, how everything has to be controlled/regulated/labeled to the extreme to protect-- not the consumer, but the producer-- from potential misunderstandings, misuses, general stupidity. This is an old, stale joke, but take the nuts I bought yesterday. (Nuts being part of the let's-get-pregnant! diet that I've created for myself; it's a yummy diet but if it doesn't work, I may get fat from it.) A small bag of almonds to eat with lunch; the word ALMONDS emblazoned across the top of the bag in large, bold letters. And on the back, the usual warning: "may contain nuts." You think? Really? If someone didn't notice the ALMONDS on the front of the bag, why in the world would they see the warnings on the back? Also, the bag was clear cellophane. Clear. Even someone who couldn't read would notice that the bag was full of nuts. There is no common sense involved here, and no credit given to the consumer.

I read somewhere (can't remember where, now) that quite a few foreign visitors to the U.S. think that we must be a bit dim, because of all the labels telling us obvious things: caution, coffee will be hot; caution, moving sidewalk coming to an end; caution, may contain nuts. Basically, if we need to be told these things so often it doesn't speak well for our general intelligence and common sense. That we label everything towards the lowest common denominator isn't immediately clear if you're not already used to it.

On the other hand, labels can be very useful, especially if the alternative is to outlaw something completely. Take something like, say, pasteurization. The routine heating-up of stuff like milk, cider, and orange juice, to kill germs-- not bad in theory, right? Fine for most folks who don't want to think twice about their milk except to consider 2% versus 1%, regular versus organic. But there are plenty of people that would just as soon not have their milk scalded for a variety of reasons-- that want raw milk, yogurts and cheeses made from raw milk, or would like to buy unpasteurized apple cider with the enzymes and nutrients intact. It seems to me that those who want unpasteurized (whose ranks I may be joining) should be able to legally get it, somehow. Wouldn't a warning label be great for that? Caution: unpasteurized! That would be useful. I don't understand why I can buy cuts of grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken and eggs at the farmers market, but not fresh milk or goats' cheese. Why treat the entire population as though they're too dumb or uneducated to make those decisions for themselves?

The way around that law, incidentally, is to buy "cow share" from a dairy farmer, so that you're not buying raw(!) milk, you're paying a farmer to maintain your cow and periodically, you come pick up your milk. So much to-do, when legalizing the sale of unpasteurized milk would be so much more efficient.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Happy Chanukah, ya'll.