Thursday, April 29, 2010

Milk Cow Blues

Yes, believe it or not, that is in fact a song title, and it's not as esoteric as you would think. It's been a while since I blogged, and I think the last update mentioned my issues with exhaustion, muscle and joint pain, and some other symptoms and issues. After some research, I decided to try eliminating dairy from my diet because I have tested positive for an allergy to the casein protein before (although previously it only seemed to bother my asthma if I had too much) and because I was exhibiting the other symptoms for the allergy, and guess what, the symptoms for lactose intolerance too. After a week, the exhaustion improved 95% and the muscle and joint pain went away, and digestive issues went away. Okay, I was glad that it appeared to be an easy fix, as I was tested for some really nasty other conditions, but I was still ticked off in a major way that this appeared to be the problem.

Me, being me, and really not wanting to totally eliminate dairy from my diet, decided to test it, and I accepted an ice cream sandwich that was being handed out at work as a treat for making it through busy season. I had an immediate reaction, which explained some of the mystery symptoms, and then a delayed reaction several hours later that wasn't pretty. So I've basically been forced to accept that dairy is the issue.

My friend Mary Kate pointed me to a couple of reference books, Dairy-Free Cookbook, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dairy-Free Eating, and The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. Linda D., Gina H., Ashley G., and Mary Kate also weighed in on milk replacement recommendations. I've purchased a couple of things to try, but just about the time I purchased them, I got wacked with a killer head cold and I can't taste any thing anyway. So I'm going to wait until I'm clearer before the taste tests. I'll post results when I'm done. Another site Mary Kate suggested is where I was able to purchase a list of dairy free replacement foods and regular dairy free processed foods.

I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but the thing that ticks me off the most about this is coffee. I cannot drink coffee without half and half. And it has to be real half and half, I can't even do the fat free fake crap. So I've been drinking diet pepsi at 8:00 am since I went off dairy, because I have to ingest caffeine somehow. I did buy soy creamer, but I don't have high hopes for my reaction to testing it out. Sigh...

Anyway, to catch up on the last couple of weeks, here's what we've been up to. Shawn and I went to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. They have a really neat museum display area, and gorgeous open spaces. There appear to be a lot of bike trails too. I'd love to take the bikes here. But since we went before I got my energy all the way back, we just walked around a bit.

The following weekend, I had a Misplaced Modifiers meeting (our writing group). Unfortunately, our writing group has been spectacularly unmotivated in general. At least it wasn't just me. So we decided to use the group meeting to do short timed writing exercises based on some writing prompt exercises I had complied on index cards from several sources including What If, which is a book of writing exercises. It was really amazing how much you can generate and make up in 15 minutes. Mary S. has a new challenge for haikus and I can't wait to see the results.
Last Friday night I went dancing with some of my knitting friends for a girl's night out. Alison M., Lora K., Jackie W., and Mary Kate R, and I went to the Derryfield to dance. They had a
band and we danced, a lot. For hours. I could barely walk the next day. Seriously, that was the first strenuous exercise I'd had for several months while the exhaustion thing was going on, and the next day was not pretty. But it was really fun. In a junior high dance kind of way :)
We also managed finally to get our cable box switched out for the HD one for the TV we got for Christmas from Brian and Joanne (Shawn's parents). I will spare you the diatribe I subjected Comcast to over that lovely experience. Suffice it to say, they are a bunch of moronic cretins.
Shawn did manage to get Netflicks set up with the Wii so we can watch instant downloads on the TV so that is cool, since we cut the cable package back.
In fiber news, the group secret project is not much further than it was on Sunday. Okay, it's not any further than it was on Sunday. I just haven't wanted to knit with the cold. Hopefully I feel better this weekend, because I have to get my act in gear.
I think that's all the news that's fit to print. Stay tuned for late breaking news.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dog & Butterfly

Okay, there are really no dogs in this post, but its the only song that I could find that I could stomach with the word butterfly in it in the 5 minutes I bothered looking on Itunes. Why I need a song with the word butterfly for the title of this blog will become apparent shortly.

Since I hadn't seen my mother in a while, she decided to come down last weekend. When she comes, we have a bad habit of doing dumb things like going out to eat a restaurants that we've already been to because Mom has trouble getting really good Chinese in Maine. We also then end up going to Target, Walmart or Bestbuy and dubbing around, because going anywhere like that is a production where she is in Maine. It would take me 5 minutes to walk to the Walmart by my apartment and 10 to walk to Target. It's about 10 to 15 minutes by car to the mall that has the Bestbuy in it. However, this time I wanted to make sure that we did something different and interesting, as I'm trying to re-implement my plan to not be vegetative on weekends and see near by attractions that I've never bothered to go to, despite the fact that I have lived in NH since 1997.

Kat D. suggested that we go to The Butterfly Place in Westford, MA. I ran a couple of suggestions by Mom, including this one, and she picked this place. It's just outside of Tyngsborough, so it was only about 30 minutes from Manchvegas. There is an enclosure where there's a garden, a koi pond, little birds and all kinds of butterflies flying about. It was fairly early in the season, so it looked like the garden was not as lush as it will be later in the season, but it was still beautiful to see all the butterflies. I'll post a few pictures here, but if you're one of my friends on Facebook, the whole set is there.

Believe it or not but the blue butterly and the brown butterfly that looks like an owl, are the same butterfly species, but open and closed they look completely different.

Mom bought some praying mantis egg cases for Wren and Noah to hatch. They apparenly hatch out 200 or so baby praying mantises but only 2-3 make it to adulthood. I was so jealous. If I didn't live in an apartment and had a good place to put them once they hatched, I would have loved to get some. How cool would that be to watch?? They also had butterfly hatching kits as well.

We ended up going to Taipei Tokyo for dinner as usual, and then we hit Ocean State Job Lots which just opened in Hooksett. I got a bunch of random stuff, including $4 pajama bottoms, a $5 purple umbrella and $10 plastic mats for office chairs on the carpet that I'm going to use under Kiwi's play palace in the living room. They had a lot of really cheap gardening stuff too, which is good because I'm going to attempt another balcony garden this year. Tomato Topsy Turvey, here I come!

On Sunday we hit Walgreens to attempt to get last minute Easter stuff for the boys that Mom could deliver on her way home. I got trapped in the "as seen on TV" aisle. Those of you who know me are aware that I have a problem with this stuff. I don't expect it to work, but I just want to see if it does. I am the proud new owner of a Titan Peeler, and the 8 foot tomato trees. I haven't tested the peeler out, but I will let you know. I'm planning to start the tomatoes today. In a related topic, I saw a new commercial for a robo stir, which is a battery operated thing to automatically stir your food. I'm convinced that this is a portent of doom for the end of Western civilization.

Still working on the fatigue thing. Mindy C. came up with an idea that it may be a food allergy or intolerance, and researching about it, the symptoms seem to fit. I'm going to stay away from a few things and see if it helps, and then if I notice a difference, I'm going to contact my doctor about a food elimination diet. One of the articles noted that as you head toward midlife (read menopause) women can experience new allergies, food intolerances and exacerbations of current allergies. We'll see how it goes, at least it would be something I could fix.

Still working on secret projects. We're nearing the deadline for the group project, and I've got quite a few back from the participants. On the Secret Project for Sally, I'm nearing completion of the first thing. Have to say though, I'm disappointed in the yarn company authoring the pattern for severely overestimating how much yarn it took to do the project. I'm going to have several full skeins left over. This does not help with my stash issues.

I still haven't written anything more on the novel. I'm considering whether I skip this month for writing group, or I need to produce something ASAP to have it posted on our group's website. Shawn and I are planning to try visiting the Seacoast Science Center on Odiorne Point, but I'm not sure if we'll get there today.

Stay tuned for breaking news...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Getting Better

I have not blogged for sometime. Between battling an as yet unidentified health issue which is causing me some joint pain, massive fatigue, and night sweats, and dealing with the current round of baby knitting because my friends must procreate in swarms, I've been blowing off the blog.

Don't worry about the health thing, they've tested me for everything that could be potentially nasty, and I'm clear. My doc thinks it may be a virus. I think he's possibly out of his mind, but we'll give it another month or two and see how it goes. (Not that I didn't give it a month and a half before I trooped into his office, but whatever.) In the meantime, I've decided that I'm sick to death of being tired, and if there's one thing I'm good at, it's forcing myself to do stuff even if it kills me. Therefore, I will be refusing to let the fatigue affect my life at all, even if it means jabbing myself in the leg with a knitting needle to keep myself awake, which I was actually forced to resort to doing on Friday night, so that I could continue knitting. (Picture me shaking my fist at the sky, because that's pretty much what I'm doing at this point.)

By way of catch up, and because the pics are so cute, I finished the Thistle and Hat Mitten set and got Alison to pose. I've already sold 5 of the patterns, which I think is solely due to the model.

At work we had a giant cupcake birthday cake for Kat, which I threatened to put a picture of on my blog, and look, I did :)

A couple of weeks ago at writing group, there was some discussion about my novel, and in order to explicate a character's motivations in my book, I need to possibly create and kill off a younger sibling for my main character. The younger sibling would be about 4 or 5 and I'm trying to brainstorm on accidental deaths in rural Maine on a farm. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. This is the other part of the fatigue thing that I have to bull my way through. We had a really great writing group, and I've been so tired, and focused on baby-palooza knitting, that I haven't touched any of the ideas we came up with. (Shaking my fist at the sky again...)

In other news, I finally found a third party backup service that I liked. Now I can access all my computer files on any computer through the web and I can do it on my blackberry too. And it syncs anytime I make a change that minute. Yay!! I'm continuing daily backups on my external hard drive, but you all know how much that ended up working last time. Here's the link to the service I got, if you want to check it out Sugar Sync.

There's not much fiber related news that I can post right now, given that some of my friends read my blog. The group Secret Project is progressing, the solo Secret Project for Sally is moving at a good clip, and the Secret Project for Chris and Kristie is at a standstill except when I need it as a decoy at guild meetings. I'm prioritizing knitting by due dates at this point. Once my friend Sarah A. has a gender, I can put her into the queue as well.

We did get out bikes out of Brian and Joanne's basement (Shawn's parents) and took them over to Goodale's to get them tuned up for the season, so they are all ready to go now. But between the cold and the fatigue, I haven't managed a ride yet. And this weekend my mother was here, so it hasn't happened either. Soon though, I'm going to make myself go no matter how tired I am.

Now we are returning to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress.