Friday, March 28, 2008

Idiot Lights

About two weeks ago the Check Engine light came on in the Outback. The car was running fine and once before it came on because of the gas cap not being tightened enough -- DH didn't know that it had to go click-click-click.

I had filled up my Subaru Outback at a gas station near work that I don't usually use. It had Costco-like gas prices and I didn't have time to run over to Costco and I had no other Costco-related errands so I used this station. Either there was something with the pumps, which are in the running for the world's slowest gas pumps, or I didn't put the gas cap on tightly enough (doubtful, after 85,000 miles I think I can get that right) or it was just a thing...

I removed and tightened the gas cap and kept my fingers crossed that the light would go out within a tank or two of gas. The Outback has a March inspection date so I couldn't let it sit forever. DH offered to work from home and take care of the issue. He called the Subaru dealer and they said come in on Friday and we'll put it on the machine for $110. I suggested AutoZone since he didn't want to wait until Friday. I took his car to work and he took my car to AutoZone over lunch. On the way to work, the check engine light in his car came on. Yikes! Oh, it as 15% of oil life is left. Annoying but not problematic. (Note to self, if getting Honda Fit, make sure that they can turn that annoying thing off at the dealer. I can remember to change the oil by myself, thankyouverymuch. I really only want my car to tell me if there is a problem.)

AutoZone checked the Outback, determined that it was nothing and reset the computer for a whopping $0.00. Yes, for nothing. DH took the car across the street to the state inspection place and they couldn't read the car's computer. They did not charge him but said that he needed to drive the car around for a while to get everything to reboot. DH ran an errand and came back and the Outback now sports a spiffy March 2009 inspection sticker.

Kudos to AutoZone and the state inspection center for being so nice about everything.

A big thumbs down to Subaru for not being as nice.

Emma visits Grandma

Last night, Emma and I visited Grandma at Rex Rehab. Grandma isn't a huge dog fan. She grew up on a farm in Wisconsin and to her dogs are outdoor creatures, not family members. She does tell the story of one of the farm dogs that would scratch at the back door to be let in at night, and yes, their training went well and the dog slept inside. Why bring a dog to visit someone who isn't a dog person? I brought Emma for two reasons:
  • Change of scenery from Grandma. It was an excused to bring her outside on a beautiful spring day. It was about 70 degrees out and I wheeled her out to the front porch area and then went to the car to get Emma who made herself available for petting.

  • The Other Grandma has a dog visit her. My Uncle Phil's family brings a dog to visit his mother-in-law who is in a nursing home after having not one but two hip fractures within a few weeks (she broke her wrist too). This way my Grandmother can report the Phil and his family that yes, in fact, a dog has visited her as well. Grandma will like that.
This was probably my last visit to Grandma at this facility. She is not progressing the way the staff had hoped and the social worker at Rex Rehab told my mother that Grandma is "on the fence" between needing assisted living or a nursing home.

My parents did a ton of research in a short period of time and selected a facility that will help her with rehab to get out of the wheelchair. Nursing homes do rehab but to keep from getting worse, not rehab to improve. Grandma is scheduled to move to The Oaks at Carolina, near the NC Farmer's Market, on Friday. My parents felt that this would give Grandma one more shot at getting to Abbotswood, the independent living retirement community that she had planning on moving into in April. With the broken hip and the need for 24 hour care, though, that move is on hold.

Grandma should be at The Oaks for at least a month.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Grandma's Easter weekend

This weekend we gave Grandma an Easter basket and took a few pictures when we saw her.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Energy conservation, not in a good way

Eating. I'm not sure that I should blog about this or not. I hope that it helps someone else because I honestly thought that this was a myth and that I have been doing the right thing. Eating fiber and fruits and vegetables and lean protein in addition to 10-12 hours of exercise a week. I have not understood how other people can eat so much when I can eat so little.

The beginning seems like a good place to start.

In 2003 we got a puppy named Emma. People took pictures of me with Emma. I looked at the photos and said, "Who is that fat lady with my puppy?!" A few weeks later, we went hiking. I had problems hiking, more unflattering photos. Checked BMI. Holy Cow?! No way. Rechecked BMI. Got a program called BalanceLog and started to eat less and move more.

Fall 2003. The weight is pretty much gone. 80+ pounds of it. Woo hoo!

This is where the problem may have started. I may not have increased my calories enough when I moved to maintenance mode.

In 2005, I had an injury. My brain said moving less = eating less so I ate less. Again with the not increasing intake appropriately.

In 2006, I had a surgery. Moving less = eating less plus now there was a hormone change. I ate even less. Recovery from surgery was slow and I struggled. Would eating more have helped? Who knows.

2008, very sick of being hungry all the time. I am thinking, "I'm dong a metric century on the bike each weekend and I've done that before but it was mostly with supported rides, maybe I need to revisit this whole eating for long rides thing." I contacted a nutritionist and scheduled testing of my RMR. When I saw that my RMR was 720, I freaked out. It was not a pretty picture. I had expected it to be more like 1200. When I showed the results to my nutritionist, she said, "I don't understand this." The nutritionist and everyone else seem to think that I've managed to put myself into an energy conservation mode.

The good news is that the fix is most likely to gradually eat more. I welcome that. If someone is going to tell me to eat more, I'm not gonna argue! I hope that's the solution and that an visit to an endocrinologist is not in order.

I'm a bit surprised that with all that, no one had asked me what I eat until this week. Odd since I did have amenorrhea before my surgery. Odd since I actually told a medical authority that I wanted to "gnaw my arm off." Frustrating because I have been trying hard to do the right thing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Grandma update, still in rehab

DH and I went and saw Grandma last night. She is still in the rehab facility recovering from her broken hip. She's had more bad days than good recently but we did manage to get her to smile a bit.

Grandma had complaints about the food -- cucumbers, pasta with asparagus, broccoli soup. She giggled when I pointed out the green theme and the fact that it was St. Patrick's Day.

She repeatedly said that one of the workers there was "flirting" with her. He brought in her evening snack of apple juice, graham crackers with peanut butter. Clearly flirting!

Of course she had nothing good to say about my aunt. My poor aunt can't do anything right. "She was going to call me every day but she didn't call..." We pointed out the time change but I doubt that it helped my aunt's case.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Oh Melo Velo

Last night I participated in my first Oh Melo Velo ride -- and the first OMV ride of 2008. The way that it is organized is really cool. At the beginning of each ride they provide a cue sheet listing an out and back route and a Magic Time. Last night the time was 6:40 because the ride always leaves at 6:00 and sunset was 7:20.

The ride is sort of two rides in one. The OMV "fast group" and the Slow Spokes group which is 12-18 mph.

The ride was really fun and it seems like a good group of people. I saw Jim, K1v1n, Lisa, John, Ralph, Zonda and met Frank and Fred and Eugene. The only bad thing is that I lost my bike computer somewhere in the last mile or so. It must have popped off when I was going over a bump on Old Raleigh Road because I was averaging 18.6 and then I looked down a few minutes later and it was gone!

Jim went out somewhat further than I did and he said that he did 24 miles. K1v1n didn't go quite as far as me and he said 24 miles as well. I'm writing 24 miles down in my training log. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

After work today, I retraced the route from James Street to the BP on Old Raleigh Road. Nothing. I turned around at the BP and came back and what was in the middle of the street but -- my bike computer! Woo hoo!

I don't think that it will work though. Time to head to the local bike shop for a replacment...

Naked Juice Energy

Last Thursday, spin class was, uh ... challenging. After 15 minutes the instructor asked if we were ready to to start working.

Someone -- a newbie -- innocently asked, "What have we been doing up to now?" We were all wondering the same thing but we were afraid to ask. Ugh.

Anyway, the instructor said that it must be the Naked Juice with caffeine that was doing it. His wife had been getting Naked Juice for him... Bad bad bad. After some behind the scenes research, we were able to determine that Naked Juice Energy Cherry Pomegranate Power is his drug of choice. The power referred to is caffeine from guarana extract (about 80 mg per two serving bottle) in addition to green tea extract and B vitamins. (Hint: All of the blends in their Energy product line have yellow caps.)

This morning, most of the class came in with Naked Juice. One class regular said that he thought about printing a sign saying, "I got Naked with..." but decided against it.

I had never had Naked Juice before and I'm not a comsumer of "energy drinks" outside of coffee products. All I have to say is that about 30 minutes after consuming half a bottle --

Grandma in rehab

No, not that kind of rehab! She was transferred from the hospital to a rehab center while she recovers from her broken hip. She's at Rex Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center of Apex, which is pretty close to my house.

Since her fall last Friday, her health has been really up and down. On Saturday, she was super cranky and not making sense. My mom said that maybe she had a mini-stroke. On Sunday and Monday, though, Grandma is in a really good mood. Then Tuesday, not so good. She had a lot of visitors on Monday so maybe she was tired? Mom went over all of the medications with the nurses in the hospital and everything seemed to be in order, however, Grandma has a history of not taking her medications. Maybe there are some side effects that we weren't seeing earlier?

On Tuesday afternoon, Grandma was transferred to the nursing home for rehabilitation. They didn't have any beds in the rehab wing so she's in the nursing wing for a few days. Last night Mom was very worried and mentioned mini-strokes again and said that Grandma's speech was slurred which is new. We are hoping that once she is moved to the considerably livelier rehab wing, she will feel more herself.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Zoning out

This week started using my new training zones that were developed based on my fitness assessment. I'll still be keeping an eye on the perceived exertion but it's more of numbers game now.

Maya the Virtual Coach provided these training zones for me:

Zone 1=<146
Zone 2=146-159
Zone 3=160-166
Zone 4=167-175
Zone 5=176-179
Zone 6=180-184
Zone 7=185+

The bad news is that now I need to start wearing my heart rate monitor (HRM) during my outdoor riding -- something that I have resisted. I acquired bike mount for my Polar F6.

One interesting thing is that now that I know that what my lactate threshold (LT) is, I can feel my body "switching over." I can look at the HRM but it only provides confirmation of what I already felt.

Another thing that I've noticed is that some spin instructors keep me right in the "base" zone and up to the tippy top of that and they jump to T2 and others would have me sit in T1 if I am not paying close attention. This is important to know since base improves endurance and T2 improves LT and T1 just feels like hard work. It's too hard to be efficient and too easy to improve LT.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday bread

I bake bread most Sundays -- at least until it gets too hot. One of our favorite recipes we call "buttermilk bread." It's based on a recipe from "Frannie's Fast, Fabulous Buttermilk Bread" in Crescent Dragonwagon's Soup and Bread. It makes two loaves and one of our modification is making one of them into cinnamon raisin bread. Most of the time DH slices and freezes this loaf and gets out pieces to toast each morning.

Buttermilk bread

Bread dough
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups buttermilk (lowfat)
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups whole wheat flour
2-3 cups bread flour or all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar

Raisin Bread topping and filling
3/4 cup raisins, plumped
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • Combine lukewarm water and yeast. Let stand until foamy. As the yeast proofs, combine 4 tablespoons of butter and buttermilk and heat until butter melts. I measure the buttermilk into a 2 cup measuring cup, add the butter (cut into pieces) and microwave for a minute or two, checking the progress. Don't worry if the buttermilk curdles.
  • In a stand mixer, combine 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 cups of white flour, salt, baking soda and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Add the buttermilk and combine. This should bring down the temperature of a bit and keep the yeast happy. The add the proofed yeast. Process until the dough comes together forming a ball that does not stick to the sides or bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too moist, add flour 2 tablespoons at at time.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Butter a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch it down and let it rise again until double, this time about 45 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into two equal portions. Place one loaf into a buttered loaf pan. If you are making two plain loaves, add the second piece of dough to the other loaf pan. Let rise for 45 minutes.
  • If making raisin bread, plumb the raisins by pouring hot water over them and letting them sit for 5 minutes, then drain. While the raisins are plumping, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and melt 3 tablespoons of butter in another small bowl. Roll out the dough no wider than the loaf pan, about 8 x 24 . Using a pastry brush, cover the loaf with most of the melted butter (reserving some for the topping), sprinkle most of the cinnamon sugar(reserving some for the topping) evenly over the buttered dough and then sprinkle the raisins over the cinnamon sugar. Roll the loaf from the narrowest side to and fit it into the pan. Let rise for 45 minutes. Towards the end of the final rise, brush the top of the loaf with the reserved butter and sprinkle it with the reserved cinnamon sugar.
  • Towards the end of the final rise, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the loaves until nicely golden and turn onto wire racks to cool. If you are unsure about when the bread is done, check to see that the internal temperature is 200 degrees.

Grandma's fall and her plans to move

The plan was for Grandma to move on April 1. We thought the problem was her plans to go to Atlanta for the week of Easter but it turns out that is not the issue at all.

On Friday Grandma fell. She was able to get to a phone to call my parents but my parents quickly determined that they could not move her and called 911. She was transported to a local hospital where they found that she broke her hip. The good news is that after rescheduling her surgery twice, they were able to get her in on Friday and she was admitted to the hospital where she will stay until Tuesday. Then she will be discharged to a nursing home for rehab. We are expecting her to be in rehab for a week or two.

While she was in the Emergency Room waiting for the surgery, they gave her several morphine injections. At one point, after her surgery was rescheduled for a second time, she turned to my mom and asked, "Do you think we should cancel?" Mom explained that canceling was probably not an option!

Later on, one of the nurses came in and another nurse commented to the first nurse, "Oh your pregnant!"

Grandma replied, "But I'm 88!"

When I saw Grandma today, she was in a good mood. Apparently that was not the case yesterday.

At this point, her move to to Abbotswood retirement home is still on. Instead of moving from her apartment to the retirement home, though, she will be moving from the nursing home. That means that my mom and dad are going to end up going through 16 years of stuff that she has accumulated since moving to Raleigh from Milwaukee. Since her apartment is more than twice the size of her rooms in the retirement home, this is be no small task. The apartment is packed to overflowing and that makes it even more difficult.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Smallville (or cookies in small batches)

DH and I were very happy to see the recent small batches posted on Cookie Madness. With just two of us, it's sometimes difficult to satisfy my desire to bake cookies and DH's desire to eat them without either of us looking like one of Knat's cows.

Tonight I made Outrageous Cookies. They batch makes only 10 cookies and that's great! They look wonderful and I'm hoping that they get come decent review from DH's office.

Why are they called outrageous. Hmmm. A 2 ounce bar of bittersweet chocolate and and 6 ounces of cut up flavored chocolate bar are in the 10 cookies! We had some two bars that I got on sale in the house so this batch contains one 3 ounce bar of Endangered Species 52% milk chocolate with almonds along with a less glamorous 3.5 ounce bar of Cocao Reserve 65% extra dark chocolate with cocao nibs in addition to the 2 ounce bar of Dagoba Organic New Moon 74% bittersweet chocolate purchased specifically for this recipe and melted into the batter. Chocolatey enough?

Spring goes to the dogs

This evening I took a few more daffodil photos to share with my northern neighbors. They can laugh at me when we are in our second week of hot hot weather this August but today was one of those beautiful days that must be shared.



Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Frostbite to Flowers

A friend that lives in a latitude north of here said, "Send me daffodils!"

I thought that I'd help her out with that so I walked over to the arboretum at lunch and took some photos to share. Daffodils, camellias, magnolias and several other plants are currently in bloom. The magnolia trees are heavy with their perfumy scent.