Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter

So, yesterday was Easter.  

Due to family drama about which I do not care to elaborate, Spouse & I opted to just drive down Sun morning, spend a few hours with the family, and then head back home.  In the past we would have spent the entire weekend there.

Sitting is not a comfortable position for me with my herniated disc, so I popped a pain pill before we left and headed up the road.  We picked up my aunt Mary 1st, then headed over to Spouse's mom's house.  Two of his brothers were there, and then his sister and her husband and 3 kids stopped over on their way home from church, so we had some time to talk to them before the official Easter dinner at his other brother's house at 3pm.

Other family members came too, so it was a full-fledged soiree.  Aunt Mary brought her famous hummingbird cake, which is reason enough to celebrate Easter or any other holiday for that matter.  By 4pm my arm was hurting a lot, so I took another pain pill and waited eagerly for it to kick in.  We stayed at his brother's house until 6pm, said our goodbyes, then dropped Spouse's mom off at her house, dropped aunt Mary off at her house, and headed back to DE.  We got home at 9:30.  I learned the hard way that 6 1/2 hours is too long for me to spend in a car in my condition.  I was happy to sink into bed and into painlessness.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pain meds

Since the pain from the herniated disc is worse when I am in a sitting position (eating, working, driving) I asked the doctor for some pain medication.  The ibuprofen I've been taking just wasn't cutting it.  Tues after work I picked up the prescription for Tramadol, and took 1 after dinner.  The dosing said to take 1 or 2 within an 8 hour period, and didn't mention anything about taking it with food.

Since my arm was already hurting at 8am yesterday, I took 2 pills with my morning cup of coffee, then went to work where I had 1 more cup of coffee and a glass of water.  Then at 1pm I began feeling hot and flushed.  It felt as if the temperature had suddenly gone up to 150 degrees in my office.  I was literally sweating in my clothes.  I also started to feel nauseous.  I went outdoors and stood in the cool 40 degree air for a few minutes, then returned to my desk.

"Hey, its after 1pm.  I must be hungry and that's why I'm nauseous" I thought to myself.  So I grabbed my lunch from the refrigerator and ate an apple.  I was still so f'ing hot and didn't want to continue sweating in my clothes, so I went outside for a few minutes again to cool off.  As I came back in the nausea got more intense, so instead of going back to my desk I went to the bathroom.  And vomited.

I thought that was the end of it and rinsed my mouth out and patted my face with a cool wet paper towel.  I had clients coming into the office in 15 minutes and I needed to get myself together.  But before I could get from the bathroom to my desk the nausea returned in waves.

I had to call my clients and cancel the showings planned for the afternoon.  Fortunately they were very understanding and we rescheduled for Fri.  As soon as I got home I ran to the bathroom and vomited again.  I laid in bed for a few hours and each time I attempted to get up, I felt a wave of nausea again, so I stayed in bed from 2:30pm and until this morning.  Spouse brought me some oatmeal and ginger ale around 8pm because I was so hungry.  I'd only had coffee and an apple all day.

The potential side effects listed are nausea and vomiting, but since I didn't experience them on Tues night when I took 1 pill after dinner, I'm thinking I probably shouldn't have taken 2 pills on an empty stomach.  Since today is my regular day off and I've been in comfortable positions all day I haven't needed to take any pain medication today.  But just to be sure, I will take 1 after dinner tonight to make sure that is the correct way for me to take them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tax day

Here we are:  April 15, tax day.

Like millions of others I suppose, we usually aren't ready to file by April 15 so I end up emailing our accountant and requesting that he file extensions for us, buying us a few more months to get our stuff together.

Our taxes have always been complicated.  We own 2 rental properties together, we own a 3rd rental property with another couple, and I am self-employed.  There are all kinds of depreciations and exemptions that we couldn't possibly keep up with, so we give all our financial stuff to our accountant and breath a sign of relief that it isn't US who has to make sense of it.

However, this year is different.  I actually got motivated in late Feb to collect and summarize our stuff for 2013 and sent it off to the accountant early.  We got our returns back from him in mid-March, signed them, attached the W2s and payments, and mailed them in right away.  It felt good to get that done and out of the way, early for a change.

Yes, we have to pay.  Since I am self-employed and only pay estimated quarterly taxes, and since our marriage in 2013 is recognized not only by the State but also by the federal government, Spouse no longer gets refunds either.  But as I told Spouse when I was writing out the checks, we should be happy that we are employed and able to pay taxes.  There is still a lot of unemployment and underemployment these days.  We feel fortunate to not be among those groups.

Have you filed yet?  Are you getting a refund?  If so, what will you do with it?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Backsplash: Complete!

As promised, here are the before and after photos of the completed backsplash.
Before:  left side of kitchen
After:  left side of kitchen
As you can see, Spouse was so motivated by the new backsplash to make dinner that I didn't get a chance to take a photo before he cluttered up the counter and stove with food.
Before: right side of kitchen
After: right side of kitchen
The tile is a combination of glass and marble, in various colors and widths.  Here's a close-up of the tile with the cabinetry and granite:

We're really happy with how it turned out!  Spouse said he thought it made the area "open up".  I think it makes the kitchen look 'finished' compared to how it looked before the backsplash.

What do you think?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pain in the neck: Diagnosis

After several visits to the chiropractor for adjustments, electronic muscle stimulation, stretching exercises, and therapeutic massage with little relief, my chiropractor sent me to have an MRI done yesterday.

The MRI was not a big deal to me.  I just kept my eyes closed the entire time so I couldn't see how close the machinery was and I didn't feel claustrophobic.  Unfortunately having to lie on my back with no head/neck support for 20 minutes was extremely painful.  A few times I could feel muscles in my left arm spasming and I hoped the movement didn't mess up the scan.  But 20 minutes was better than the 45 minutes it takes with the less powerful scanners.

The MRI doctor reviewed it with me immediately afterward.  He spoke to me like a physic medium, telling me where and how long I've had the pain!  It was like having an MRI done by John Edward

I have a herniated disc in my neck.  The disc presses on nerves that run down my left arm and shoulder blade, which is why I've been having so much pain there and not in my neck.

So today I saw the orthopedic doctor to review the MRI and he also took 2 x-rays, which confirmed the herniated disc.  He said that since the chiro visits weren't helping, the next step is physical therapy. 

He referred me to a PT specialist nearby and I have an appointment for Mon.  If that doesn't work, the next step would be an injection in my neck near the disc, between the 2 vertebrae.  This must be done with a lot of precision in order to be effective, so they reserve it for when the chiro and PT treatments don't work.  The last resort is surgery, but I have decided that is NOT going to happen.

So the 'mystery' is solved.  Unfortunately it is proving to be a painful one to deal with.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Backsplash: Coming Soon!

For years Spouse & I have thought about having a tile backsplash installed in our kitchen, both for functional and aesthetic reasons.

Anytime we were in Lowes, Home Depot, or the expensive tile store we would look and pick out samples we liked, but couldn't come to an agreement on one.  We even bought a 12x12 sheet of several different tiles to view in the kitchen, but they were either too dark, too bland, too busy, or too modern.  Our cabinetry is a medium cherry color and door design is rather traditional, so that's why some of the tile we liked was too dark and others too modern.  Our granite counters have a lot of 'movement' in them, so that is why some of the tile was too busy.
Close up of our granite counters
But on our latest visit to Home Depot we finally found a winner!  Unfortunately they only had about a dozen sheets of it and we need 3 dozen sheets.  The tile associate told us more was on order and should be arriving soon, so he went ahead and designated the amount we needed.  They called today to say our tile is in.

My colleague Erin's husband is part owner of a tile installation company so he will be putting it up for us this weekend.  I can't believe that after living in this house for over 7 years, we will finally have the backsplash we've wanted!  Look for photos on Mon.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Watch-athon results

So this year Spouse & I watched the entire 3rd season (12 55-minute episodes) of "Spartacus" and 2 full seasons (16 55-minute episodes) of "Magic City".

Normally I wouldn't be interested in a show like "Spartacus" because of all the fighting, blood and gore.  But we watched 2 seasons last year and the 3rd and final season this year because "Spartacus" is full of hot, buff, scruffy men wearing little more than leather diapers.  Call me shallow and see if I care!
And there's a fair amount of male and female nudity too, so there you have it.  Plus the fighting scenes are done in a sort of video game style, where the camera slows down into slow motion and the blood spurts out of the wounds with an unnatural force, as if it were being viewed in a video game, so it really makes it a lot more watchable and less real.

I'd not even heard of "Magic City" before.  But after finishing "Spartacus" I was looking at what else Starz had on-demand and I read that "Magic City" takes place in 1959 - the very year my Big Ella was born.  Spouse & I love mid-century furniture, architecture, clothing, and of course cars so we decided to give it a try.
Its about a Jewish beachfront resort owner and his family who live in the hotel in Miami Beach.  We liked the series a lot, and I would recommend it to anyone who liked "The Sopranos" or "Mad Men", or both.

Do you have Comcast?  Did you watch anything new or different during "Watch-athon" week?  I'd love to know!

Friday, April 04, 2014

This is Wholesome, part 2

In this post I shared with you my favorite of the "This is Wholesome" videos made by the Honey Maid graham cracker company, and I predicted there would be some backlash from the conservative and unenlightened.  Unfortunately I was right.

However, those clever folks at Honey Maid took that backlash and turned it into something beautiful!  How could they do that??  Watch and see.
"Only one thing matters when it comes to family... Love."

Now, please excuse me while I go buy a few boxes of Honey Maid graham crackers.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Pain in the neck, part 2

So last Thursday's massage didn't do much if anything about the pain in my neck and shoulder.  After several more days of pain I decided to go to a chiropractor.  This was not a decision I took lightly.  Growing up both my parents and all 3 of my siblings had to go to the chiropractor at some point or another, with my mother and my middle sister Dianne going extensively.  I have prided myself for being the only person in my family to NOT go to a chiropractor.

Until yesterday.  I just couldn't take the pain anymore, and really wanted to find out what was causing it.  Unfortunately I still don't know the cause.  I probably have a pinched nerve, and since I don't remember doing anything to incur it, the doctor says it was probably a long-developing thing that has just gotten worse over the years.  My posture and my age have intersected at a very uncomfortable place.

After asking me a bunch of questions, examining me, and discussing everything, the doctor stuck electrodes on my neck and shoulder and turned on the juice.  I could feel the electrical current stimulating the muscles, attempting to relax whatever was pinching the nerve.  After 15 minutes of that, I was back to work.

Today I went back to the chiro office for a therapeutic massage of my neck, shoulder, back, and arms.  Talk about painful!!!  That b*tch pressed and poked and punched me so hard I felt like I'd been run over by a truck.  It was definitely NOT a relaxing massage.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that yesterday's electro-muscle stimulation or today's therapeutic massage are helping.  I'm not sure where this is going but I hope it results in relief from this pain in my neck.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Watch-athon

Our cable company's "Watch-athon" starts today and runs through Sun.  That is where they open up on-demand viewing of past seasons of network shows and some premium channel content to all cable subscribers. 

For instance, during regular viewing times you may only be able to get the most recent season of "NCIS" or "Chicago Fire".  But during "Watch-athon", all previous seasons of those shows are available on-demand.  Its called "binge watching" when you start with the 1st episode of the 1st season and just keeping watching episode after episode, season after season, until you've seen the entire show.

The same principle is true for many (but not all) of the premium channels.  Even those who don't subscribe to premium channels can watch past seasons on-demand.  However, we were pretty disappointed to find that Showtime was not participating with any of the series we wanted to watch, such as "Masters of Sex" and "Nurse Jackie".  Booo for Showtime!

When they had "Watch-athon" last year Spouse & I watched a bunch of episodes of HBO's "Girls" and Starz's "Spartacus".  It was fun!

"Girls" is about Hannah and her 3 friends who all live in NYC.  Hannah wants desperately to be a writer.  Its kind of like "Sex and the City", only with poor, less attractive Jewish women with bad fashion sense.
 
We also watched the 1st and 2nd season of "Spartacus", the story of a men captured by the Romans and forced into slavery and become gladiators.  Normally this would not be 'my thing' but these gladiators are HOT!

So if you email, call, text, or private message me on facebook and I don't respond, its because I'm binge-watching cable shows during "Watch-athon" week.  Please be patient... I'm watching gladiators.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pain in the neck

Literally.

For the last few days I've had a pain in the muscle that goes from my neck to my left shoulder.  I don't remember lifting anything heavy or otherwise injuring my neck.  I don't think I 'slept on it funny' because that usually goes away in a day.  So I really have no idea what's causing this pain in my neck and shoulder.

So yesterday I got a massage, hoping the talented hands of Deiter could give me an answer AND some relief.  Overall the massage was nice and felt good, but Deiter wasn't able to tell me much about the source of the pain.  He said both of shoulders and neck were very tight, although the pain was only going to 1 of my shoulders.  He gave me some stretching exercises to do and suggested that I work on my posture.  I do recognize that I tend to pull my shoulders forward and lean my head forward, probably from so many years of sitting at a desk working at a computer.

So hopefully yesterday's massage will help.  So far I'd have to say it hasn't.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekend redux

On Sat morning we drove back to the DC area, stopping 1st at Spouse's mom's house for a visit and to change our clothes, and then we went to the wedding reception of our good friends Ron & James.  Since the District of Columbia has marriage equality, they actually got married on the steps of the Lincoln monument a few days earlier (on their actual 26th anniversary), but had their reception at their home in Virginia which does not have marriage equality yet.  
James & Ron eating wedding cake
The weather was very pleasant so they had the windows and doors open so the breeze could blow in and people could spill out into their back yard.  Their was food and drinks, of course, and many old friends we'd known from our former days as members of a very progressive and inclusive Presbyterian church where we met Ron & James.  It was a lovely afternoon of smiles and joy.

Afterward we returned to Spouse's mom's house, changed our clothes again, and then drove to visit our other dear friends Kerry & Hugh.  For the past 8 months they have been restoring an early 1900s Victorian home that sits just 2 doors down from their own home.  The home had been abandoned and was in very poor shape, to the point that the City was about an inch away from condemning the home and destroying it.  Kerry & Hugh couldn't stand the thought of this historic home being demolished so they formed a small partnership with a neighbor and a relative and quickly purchased the home 8 months ago, which a strict timeline from the City on getting its dangerous porch and steps repaired.  
The Prescott House 8 months ago
 After shoring up the home to comply with the City, they began the huge job or making the home beautiful and livable again.  They've replaced all the plumbing and wiring, converted it from a 4 bedroom 1 bath into a 3 bedroom 2 bath, added central air and heat, and were installing the new kitchen when we arrived.  We'd seen photos of the home and were eager to see it in person.  Though the inside isn't quite finished, we got a very good idea of how it will look once complete.  
The Prescott House 8 months later
Its been a true labor of love for them.  They are hopeful that it will all be worthwhile when they sell the home to someone who appreciates the character and charm of a grand home like this.  After the home tour, the 4 of us were joined by several mutual friends for dinner.  After dinner we stopped in to see Bob & Harriet's house, which is across the street from the one under renovation.  It was great to see our friends and their hard work!

The next morning Spouse & I went out to breakfast with his mom, sister, and nephew, then packed up and headed home.  We ordered pizza delivery for dinner.

Friday, March 21, 2014

This is Wholesome

"No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will."  - Honey Maid website.

With that in mind Honey Maid, makers of the graham crackers I grew up eating, decided to make a series of videos called "This is Wholesome". My favorite is this one which features a 'wholesome' gay couple enjoying s'mores with their son, and talking about what it means to be a family.
Although the conservative and unenlightened would portray gay people defective and mentally unstable, this video presents a very different story, one that I personally believe to be much more common.  You can view all the "This is Wholesome" videos here.

Although I expect there will be some backlash from the "christian" "right" (quotations used to imply sarcasm, since the Christian right is neither), I applaud Honey Maid for including this family in their "This is Wholesome" video series.

Oh, and have you ever tried a Honey Maid graham cracker with cream cheese on it?  Fabulous!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dieting

So after a brief hiatus (okay, 6 months) from my diet, I started back on it.  God, it is so boring.

One of the things about dieting that I resent is that I have to constantly think about food!  Friends want to go out to dinner and ask where we want to go.  I then immediately try and think of places that - not taste terrific, but - have low calorie options.  And I believe everyone who's ever read this blog knows how daddy likes him a Cosmo now and then.  Well, alcohol is a definite no-no when you're dieting.

The diet that makes the most sense for me is Weight Watchers.  It forces you to convert food into points and then not exceed the points that match your weight.  It works.  A few years ago I lost 40 lbs on Weight Watchers.  But I guess I'm lazy and I just get so damn tired of constantly watching what I eat and having to think about food.

One of the 'tricks' I've used with success is drinking water.  Its no secret - every diet tells you to drink lots of water.  But sometimes I get so hungry that I feel sick to my stomach.  I don't want to eat something if its not 'meal time', so I will drink water.  That will often quiet down my stomach and carry me over until its time to eat a meal.  And I TOTALLY make use of those chemical-laden, artificially flavored water enhancers because they give water flavor.  I don't care if they contain red dye #5, if they make water taste like a virgin cocktail, I'm in!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Another snow day

It began snowing last night around 8pm.  Lightly at first, then heavier just before we went to bed.

The forecast is for measurable snow.  Just like last time, the accumulations differ widely, depending on which source you check.  When I went outside to clear off my car and shovel a clear path from the house to my car around 4pm, it seemed the snow had all but stopped.  It looked like about 7" to me, but its difficult to tell since the wind always causes drifting here.

Except in front of my driveway.  You see, the snow plow came along and plowed a 2-foot snow bank in front of my driveway!

I know, he has to push the snow somewhere, right?  I just find it ironic that he pushed the snow toward the left side of the street, where me and my full-time neighbors all live.  On the right side of the street there are only 2 houses, neither of which are occupied except on occasional weekends.  So the driveways WITH cars in them got blocked by the snow bank, while the EMPTY driveways continue to have easy access onto the street.

Shortly after I came back inside, the snow picked back up again.  Now, 24 hours after the snow started, it seems to be winding down again.

Schools were closed today.

The state government was closed today, which meant that Spouse got the day off.

Many local businesses including my real estate office were closed so I got a 'snow day' too.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The blues


"What I've got they used to call the blues
Nothin' is really wrong
Feelin' like I don't belong
Walkin' around, some kind of lonely clown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down"


Suddenly, without any warning, and seemingly without any reason, today I've got the blues.  Just like the lyrics to this beautiful but haunting song, nothing is really wrong.  Yet, nothing seems particularly right today.

Its not depression.  I've known depression and hopelessness before.  Fortunately not recently, as those were symptoms of years of repressed feelings in my case.  Once I came out 20 years ago those feelings went away.

No, this is something different.  What I've got they used to call the blues.  No need to talk it out.  We know what its all about.

No need to worry, as I'm sure it will pass.