Friday, December 14, 2018

FMM - Still Busy!

FYI, I snuck a post in yesterday - a review of getting a DEXA Scan.  Click here if you're interested.

 *******************

I powered through my knitting and whew - I'm finished with what I needed to get done.  Knitted items aren't really finished when you stop knitting; you still should block them to make the stitching relax and look nice.  That means soaking the item in a tub of cool water with some wool wash, then wringing it out gently and shaping it, and letting it air dry.  Which is not a fast thing in cool weather, but I figured out that if I place the items in my closet and shut the door, it becomes a little warming room whenever the heat kicks on.  I'll have pictures to show you of what I've been working on after Christmas...some bloggers do a New Year's Resolutions post, but I do a knitted Christmas gifts reveal post instead.

*******************

We bought a bed for our second guest room so that both kadults will have an actual bed and room to sleep in when they're here for Christmas.  The bed was delivered yesterday, which meant that I had to figure out where to place it in the room and shove aside all the boxes of childhood treasures waiting for said kadults to go through while they are here.  I also had to let go of getting that room perfectly set up because I don't want to rush it and just randomly buy stuff to make it guest-room-like.  So for now, it's a bed in a room.  AND I'M OK WITH THAT.  Seriously.

*******************

Paco update:  I accidentally bought the wrong kind of dry dog food for him last week - I normally buy Wellness Core, but I grabbed the bag of Wellness Core RawRev - the bag is the same color, so honest mistake.  We decided to open it and see if Paco liked it - if he didn't, we'd donate it to the animal shelter, but if he did, I didn't have to make another trip to the pet store.  Guess what?
 
Can't talk.  Eatin.

We poured the bag into his food can and he shoved his head inside and started gobbling away.  Paco is normally a dog who can take or leave his kibble until he's realllllly hungry, but he LOVES this food.  It has raw turkey in it along with the kibble, and for the first few days, his bowl was constantly needing refilling.  One day I discovered that he'd picked out most of the turkey and left the kibble - that's like just eating the marshmallows from a bowl of Lucky Charms!  I waited until he ate the kibble before refilling it.  Maybe with this new love of food, he'll put on some weight.  His spine has been pretty prominent and he's only weighed about 24 pounds for quite a while - he could stand to put on a few pounds.

It isn't all great in Paco's world, though.  Over Thanksgiving we noticed that he had a bunch of bumps from his neck down, and he was yelping if I petted him and touched a bump.  Another vet visit with our traditional vet selfie:
Mom.  I not lik dis.

And it turns out that our vet thinks he is having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic he was taking for a little mouth and skin infection.  She felt so bad about this!  He has such a rough time with antibiotics that we tried something different, and it almost cleared up the mouth infection but his poor body is a hot mess.  So now we are bathing him with a medicated shampoo three times a week and hoping to see some improvement.  As you might imagine, he's not enjoying the extra bathing, not one bit.  I'm not either, because when I'm drying him off afterward, even though I'm only patting him with the towel, not rubbing his fur at all, he yelps and cries and then I feel bad.  And as a result of that, he's getting a little extra spoiling:
Waitin' for dad to share ice creeem.

We added a round of prednisone to his care yesterday; fingers crossed this does the trick in pushing him toward feeling 100% again.  I felt a bit silly when I went to the Target pharmacy picked up a prescription for myself AND my dog, but hey - this is my world, LOL.

********************

Our marathoners have 20 miles on tap for tomorrow.  TWENTY.  Our halfers only have 10 miles, which any other time seems like a lot...but TWENTY.  I'll probably run 5 miles.  I'm enjoying this not training for a big race, can you tell?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

My DEXA Scan Experience

I am not a numbers person - not in math, not in statistics, not in the scale (anymore), so when I got an email offering me a free DEXA scan with body composition analysis, I dismissed it without a second thought.  But then I had a second thought and looked into it; when I saw that a DEXA scan gives a bone mineral analysis, I decided to take the offer.  Being a 55-year-old woman, I probably should have an idea if my bones are about to crumble into dust, right?

The process was simple enough, considering there was only one place in town who offers the scan.  It happened to be in the same building and is connected with my orthopedist's practice, so I was comfortable with going there as it's a nice facility with a professional staff.  It was easy to call and make my appointment - the cost was $100 for the first scan, and $75 for a second scan if you wanted to have one later to see any changes that you might have made as a result of the first scan.

I was told to wear clothing that didn't have metal in it, and to leave off jewelry; I was expecting to have to remove my bra once I got there because of the metal hooks but the technician said that wasn't necessary, so all I did was remove my shoes, climb up on the table, and get scanned.

The table looked like a standard X-ray table, with the scanner above it.  I didn't think to take pictures because I was too busy asking questions about the process, which my technician answered in detail, but here's a picture of the machine:
Thank you Google for this image.

I laid on my back and the technician aligned my body along a center line; once that was done he gave my feet a tug and strapped them together at the ankle.  I was to hold still and the scan began, starting at my head and working down my body.  Once the scanner was past my hips I could relax my arms, which was nice.  The scan took about 10 minutes, and it wasn't noisy at all, unlike an MRI or even a CT - and is it sad that I know what both of those machines sound like?  I digress.

Afterward, I sat up and the report was generated and printed so the technician could go over the results with me right away.  I liked that this was a one-visit experience and didn't have to wait for the results.

The results:  My bones are good!  Yipee!!  I kind of though that they would be in decent shape based on genetics - my mother, grandmother, and grandma don't/didn't have any osteoporosis issues, but you never know when a rogue gene will pop up with crumbly bones.  This scan provided BMD (bone mineral density) analysis for the entire body and broke it down by region (head, arms, legs, trunk, ribs, spine, and pelvis). Bone strength is done with an age-matched comparison, and I was in the 99% percentile, so I feel pretty good about that.  If this scan had shown some red flags in any of the areas, or the total number, I would need to have a separate scan that concentrated on those areas.

The DEXA scan also provides results and analysis for a number of other things, which I'll list below:

RMR (resting metabolic rate):  The minimum number of calories my body needs daily, at rest.  The number - 1,506 - is an estimate and one that I suspect is too high for me - if I ate 1,500 calories daily along with all of the workouts and running I'm doing, I don't think anything would change for me except for becoming more compact as my muscle mass increases.

Body Fat:  The report provides both a total percentage number, as well as mass (weight), lean tissue and fat tissue.  I have more lean tissue than fat, woohoo!  I also saw my weight, which I haven't seen in many years - it's not as bad as I thought, although I will say that I've gone down a pant size since I started workout out at BCS Fitness so that is probably a contributing factor.

VAT (visceral adipose tissue):  Fat that is associated with obesity and Type 2 diabetes.  Considering that even when I was at my lowest weight after my big weight loss my stomach was still blobby, it didn't surprise me to see this result was considered unhealthy.

Muscle Balance Report:  I'm unbalanced, what else is new?  Oh, not just mentally, LOL - my left arm is stronger (I'm left-handed) but my right leg is stronger, which is probably due to the calf muscle tear in my left leg: I'm able to work it as much as the right leg now, so that should probably sort itself out soon enough.

This was an interesting experience - I didn't pay too much attention to the actual numbers and percentages presented to me in the post-scan report, because my brain pretty much glosses over numbers, but it was a good bit of information to get, especially considering that I've started doing my intense workouts again.  I'll get my second scan in four to six months and report back with any changes that might happen. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

WWU - Back to Back to Back

I know it's December and it's a busy time - believe me, I am at DEFCON 1 with my knitting right now - but I'm pleased to report that I haven't let it interfere with my workouts.  Now, rain HAS interfered, but seriously, who wants to run when it’s pouring cold rain?  Not I.

Anyway.  I have to tell you about last week because it was both slightly impressive to me and also slightly dumb.  I added Mondays to my workout schedule at BCS Fitness, so I go M/T/Th.  I also run on T/Th mornings, and Saturdays, when it's not raining.  But last week, with the funeral train coming to town, BCS Fitness closed for the late afternoon workouts on Thursday and offered a Wednesday workout instead.  Which I did.  If you're keeping track, that meant I worked out Monday afternoon, then I ran Tuesday morning, then I worked out Tuesday afternoon, then I worked out Wednesday afternoon...and then I ran Thursday evening.

I do not recommend this.

That Wednesday workout was a tough one - I think it would have been tough even if it hadn't been my third workout in a row, but we did a "41" workout in honor of George H.W. Bush.  Doing 41 reps is hard!  Our coaches kept telling us to break it up, and I did for the most part - like I might have done 20 reps before pausing for a few seconds.  Then I'd do another five reps, pause.  Three reps, pause.  Try to add it up in my head, pause.  Keep going until I hit 41.  Some were harder than others, but there were no easy exercises in this workout.

One station was the rower, where we had to row to burn 41 calories, which takes a while.  I got on at the same time as another person who is older than me by at least 10 years.  Both coaches came over and told us to take breaks while doing the rower.  Well, we started, and I figured I'd row until he took a break and then I'd take one too.

He never took a break.  So I didn't either - I figured if he kept going then so could I.  But I was toast at the end of that one...still, I kept up with the older man.  I know some people take pride in keeping up with the younger crowd as they exercise but me?  I'm just trying to catch up to the oldsters who are all in better shape than me!

Diane and I normally run on Thursday morning, but the marathoners were doing their Saturday run on Thursday evening because one of them couldn't make the Saturday run, and Diane was going to be out of town on Saturday as well, so we made plans to run at the same time as the marathoners - it's nice to be out there at the same time, even if we're not all running together.

After we spent the afternoon outside with the funeral train, we went home, changed into running gear, and then met up to run.  My legs were tired and sore from the previous three workouts in a row, and I was pushing myself much more than I usually have to, but I didn't give up and walk.  I just kept running, and I attribute that to getting a little stronger thanks to my workouts at BCS Fitness, and also because I push through those workouts as well - if we have 10 reps (or 41...), I keep going, no matter how long it takes, until I finish.  So I guess that unconsciously translated to my running.

By the way, we finished with 4 miles.  It wasn't until later that night that I realized I should have run just one more tenth of a mile, to make it 4.1 - I can't believe that number slipped my mind, especially considering how we spent the afternoon!

We didn't end up running on Saturday because of flooding rains, and while Jeff and I thought about running Sunday, it was still rainy and cold and we decided we needed an extra rest day.  I think that was a good decision because when I went to my workout on Monday, we did a 12 Days of Christmas set which took me the entire 30 minutes to complete.  Good thing I was well-rested!

Monday, December 10, 2018

HSU Marching Lumberjacks 50th Reunion!

I don't know exactly how to describe the Humboldt State University Marching Lumberjacks.  They are a band unlike most others - for one, they are a scatter band and do not march in formation.  They put on a show at every home football game that is topical, funny, irreverent, and most often pushes the limit just a bit.  They sometimes start playing and then stop to sing.  They are all inclusive - to be in the band, you just have to say you want to be in the band.  You don't even have to play an instrument - they will find something for you to do.  They are a tight group and if you're in the band, you have friends for life.

I met Jeff because of the Marching Lumberjacks.  Backstory is that a friend of mine attended UC Davis and she was in their band; she kept telling me that I needed to come visit her when the MLJs were in town, and I finally wore my parents down enough to let me go.  I was 19 years old and in my second year of school at our local community college, so going to a university event was a big deal in my little world.  The bands played at a basketball game; I was sitting with my friend and the Davis band when the Marching Lumberjacks came into the arena...they were playing a song, wearing hard hats, and dragging a stuffed sheep by a rope, kicking it as they walked.  I was intrigued.  I watched them play during the game, and then afterward both bands went to someone's house for a party.  That's where I met Jeff, and the rest is history.  We were engaged about five months later, married a year after that, with a large contingent of MLJs attending our wedding.

The band welcomed me right away, and I was given my first nickname by one of Jeff's roommates, J.R., who couldn't remember my name at first and called me Sheba.  I became a part of the band and got to spend time with them every time I visited Jeff (we lived over 300 miles away from each other).  I marched in with them to a San Francisco State basketball game carrying cymbals so I didn't have to pay for a $2 ticket.  I went to Picnic Day at Davis, slept on the floor of the gym, and witnessed an epic battle of the bands.  I have so many memories of the Marching Lumberjacks, and I wasn't even a student at Humboldt State!

Because we live in Texas, we haven't been able to get to a MLJ reunion since the 20th.  It's very expensive to fly from our little airport to the even littler airport in Arcata, but for the 50th reunion, we made it happen.  All weekend long, Jeff and I kept saying to each other how happy we were to be there - sometimes you just have to ignore the cost and go for it, and this was one of those times.

I can't give enough kudos to the reunion planning committee - they worked on this for well over a year coordinating a lot of events, and everything ended up being perfect.  Jeff and I arrived in Arcata on Wednesday evening and took a shuttle from the airport to our hotel.  Because we didn't rent a car, we stayed in the center of town, on the plaza, in the Hotel Arcata:
We spent the first night on the side that is next to a bar which was noisy long into the night so we moved to the corner room on the second floor for the rest of our stay.  It was bigger and we had a better view, so I'm glad we did that.
Why yes, the sign was right outside our window.  And yes, I was leaning out the window to take this picture - gotta love an old hotel with sashed windows that raise all the way up!

We spent Thursday visiting old haunts before heading over to the school for band practice.  It was funny, Jeff and a few other alums had to stay outside of the band room when they played a couple of songs, but the loudness didn't bother me.  WHAAAT?  Then the band went outside to the practice area, where we got to watch Zane, who is the current Axe (drum major in other bands):
That's him in the middle, holding an axe, jumping.  He had so much energy and it was very entertaining to watch him.  He's the son of an MLJ from Jeff's era, which is extra cool - a legacy!

After practice was finished, we adjourned to a local brewpub, where the band had a gig.  Man, did they sound good!  There was so much joy in the room as everyone got to catch up with each other, and smiles everywhere you looked:
Jeff, Doug, Hugh, Diane.

I wrote about our activities the following day in this post, but in the evening, we went to the first official reunion activity, which was conveniently located just a few hundred feet from our hotel:
It was held in the Arcata Theater, just behind Jeff.

We got our registration packets, with a cool stainless steel pint glass with the MLJ logo on it, our wrist band for meals, and we bought some 50th reunion t-shirts, hats, and a sweatshirt for Jeff.  This was a cocktail/appetizer event, with a slideshow running in the background showing pictures that the committee had collected - I'd sent in a few, so even before I was blogging, I was still taking pictures to be posted later - just a few decades later, as it turns out.  More people to hug, more people to catch up with - it was loud and crowded and fun!

The next day was the big event - breakfast, band practice, lunch, the last ever football game played at Humboldt State, the band's last ever halftime performance, and then the evening dinner and more catching up.  Jeff and I got dressed and headed out walking to the university around 6:30 am - we'd made it a half mile when a truck pulled up and offered us a ride.  We didn't know the driver but he was an MLJ, so of course we hopped right in.  We had breakfast with more old friends, and it was there that we discovered who drew the current (well, it's been current for over 35 years) band logo - it was Bob, and he was sitting with us!  Funny how no one really knew this, even though he was of Jeff's era.

After breakfast everyone headed out to the football stadium, for an official group picture and then for field rehearsal.  Jeff played drums in the band but there weren't enough to go around with all of the returning drummers, so when Gordon, who was his Axe, asked him to help man the cannon, he was happy to oblige.  Doug was going to play the trombone in the band, but they had a ton of trombones and decided he couldn't pass up the opportunity to shoot off a cannon.
Doug and Gordon.
 
 
They had a little trouble getting the bottle of acetylene to open up so Jeff, Doug and Joe Band (yes that really is his name)(he was the guy who picked us up in the truck that morning) ran out to a welding supply store to get another bottle.  ANYTHING FOR THE BAND.
Once they returned, they got the bottle set up but needed to check the seal for leakage.  Soapy water is a common way to do that; a bottle of Fireball that had started getting passed around on Thursday evening was finished off so Jeff could mix it up.  ANYTHING FOR THE BAND. 
Jeff, Doug, Gordon...in his pink hat and wearing a fanny pack.  Fun fact - Gordon used to scare me back in the day.  Now I wonder why?
 
Jeff, Doug, and Joe - I joked that I was taking their memorial picture.  They were in charge of shooting off the cannon while the band played the 1812 Overture during the halftime show.  What could possibly go wrong?

After the band finished rehearsal, we headed inside for lunch.  I laughed that there were kegs of beer to go along with the food - hey why not?  Then it was time for the football game.  This was the last game because the administration, in a cost-cutting measure, eliminated the football program.  The band will continue on because they play at other games, in parades, and wherever they're invited to play.  But it's a shame to lose the football program.  Anyway.  The stadium is called the Redwood Bowl and it was a gorgeous day - Arcata is foggy and rainy a good deal of the time, so to get this kind of weather was really special:
The best weather for the best day with the Marching Lumberjacks!

I was sitting in the stands with the band, taking pictures and videos - here's one of the band taking the field to play the national anthem at the start of the game.  This gives you an idea of the MLJ personality:

Zane leading the band - they played throughout the game.  It was so much fun to be with them and hear them play.

Halftime came, the band went on the field and played and boy did they sound good!  Having that many people playing was amazing.  The third song was the 1812 Overture.  The cannon was supposed to go begin early on, with each DA DADA DADA DADA DUM DUM DUMMM(cannon), but Jeff and Doug weren't expecting it to happen so quickly so they missed the first couple of opportunities; then they got into the rhythm and the cannon was booming throughout the song.  I kept cracking up each time it boomed, I don't know why except that it was funny to know who was making it happen.  Also they didn't blow themselves up, so that was good.
Post-cannon, all in one piece.
Shenanigans ensued during the game; first a human pyramid and later a line of MLJ can-can dancers.  Everyone was having a blast!

The game went into overtime but ultimately Humboldt lost.  Afterward, the team came over to the stands and the band played the school fight song, and I have to admit, it made me choke up.  End of an era and all that.  Here's an article about the band's 50th reunion, and here's an article written about the end of football, with a quote from Jeff and a video - fun fact, the white-bearded man playing the flute was the DJ for our wedding.

Then the former Axes each led the band in a song - it was interesting to see the different techniques and energy that they used - all unique, and each of them led while holding an axe, which is no small feat in my book.  That went on for quite a while, and then we went back to the hotel to change into our Hawaiian shirts for the evening party.  If you're at an event with the band, there will be Hawaiian shirts - in fact, most of the MLJ's who attended our wedding wore them!
Jeff, Joyce, Gary. 
Lori and La.  Lori is married to Gary (pictured above).
Mic, Rebel, Diane, Kathy.  Mic and Kathy are married.  Fun fact, Mic was a groomsman at our wedding, and just a few weeks after our wedding, we attended theirs. 
Rebel and me.  We hung out together a lot back in the day and it was so good to see her again.
Jeff and Bob.  Fun fact, Bob is the guy who drew the Marching Lumberjacks logo.

Group pictures were taken, and if you think it wasn't easy to herd these guys into group shots, you'd be correct:
These are all of the General Managers - Jeff is in the back.  

This being a family-friendly blog, I can't show you some of the other group pictures, but there are quite a few people who all have the MLJ logo tattooed on their behinds, and they all dropped trou for that picture, LOL.

It wouldn't be a reunion without remembering the Marching Lumberjacks who have died, and it was beautifully done with a sculpture that the daughter of two MLJs (married, because that's what happened a lot in the band) made.  She brought it out and read a poem and we all raised a glass to those who were there in our hearts, and then we clamored closer to see the memorial:
A log with a real axe embedded in it, a hard hat and boots that are part of the Marching Lumberjacks uniform, the rubber ducky because they always play that song at least once (and sing along) - and engraved plaques with the names of the gone-but-never-forgotten bandas.

Once a Marching Lumberjack, always a Marching Lumberjack.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Honoring President George Herbert Walker Bush

Yesterday I experienced a moment in history.  I got to watch the train carrying the late President George Herbert Walker Bush, our 41st President, to his final resting place at the grave site on the grounds of his presidential library here in College Station, Texas.  He served his country well, with strength and dignity, and was well-respected - it feels like an era has ended with his passing.  I'm sad that I won't be seeing him wandering around his library grounds anymore - just about every time I went there, I saw him and Barbara, and they always waved to me.  For a former president, he felt very approachable - he came to town often and it felt quite normal to have a former president attending a Texas A&M football game.

This entire week has been pretty crazy; once the funeral plans were announced, schools, businesses, and government offices announced early closings for yesterday, and it seemed like just about everybody was making plans to be there as the train came through town.  Unfortunately Jeff's work didn't close early, so he wasn't able to view the train, but Diane and I made plans to see it in the south part of town.  Once she was free from her job, I picked her up and we drove to the parking lot where the company who did our house renovation was located - I'd remembered getting stuck there a couple of times as we waited for a train to cross by, so that seemed like a good viewing area.  A lot of other people had a similar idea, but I found a parking spot so we were set.  It was raining and we stayed in the car until 3:00 pm before venturing out - the train was supposed to come through around 3:25 and we wanted to get as close to the tracks as we could.

(Click on these pictures to see them better)
Yep, pretty close!  By the way, the rocky part leading to the tracks is much steeper than it looks here.  It's almost like the railroad doesn't want you to walk on the tracks.

We ended up walking over the tracks to the other side, which turned out to be a very good decision as you'll see later:
People and vehicles everywhere.  If you play I Spy you might find my Mini.

Karen and Jimmymeow had watched the train go by in Navasota, which is about 30 minutes south of College Station.  She texted me that once we see a helicopter, the train was not far behind.  Sure enough, a helicopter flew overhead and circled around us several times.
We waved to the Secret Service.

A policeman drove by, telling us via his loudspeaker that the train was about to arrive and that we had to stay off of the rocky area.  So now I'm two for two in having a police officer tell me to move for Bush funeral processions.  We moved down to the slope and I stood on a railroad tie for a better view:
Diane's shoes are on the ground - she was weirded out by having me at her eye level for a change!

Then we heard the train's horn, and it slowly came into view.  I held my camera so I could just push the button repeatedly and hopefully capture some pictures, but I wanted to see the train with my own eyes, not through the screen.  I ended up with some decent shots, all things considered.
President Bush was a huge train enthusiast, and in 2005 Union Pacific painted an engine in the Air Force One colors from his era, and gave it the number 4141.
I had to include this picture because the angle that I shot it makes it look incredibly long.
This is the car carrying his casket.
Seeing the flag-draped casket with a Navy serviceman standing guard - I couldn't breathe for a moment.  I still can't put into words what it was like to watch this car go by.
 
The very next car had people waving, but it was hard to identify anyone as the train was moving just fast enough to make it difficult.  It wasn't until I got home and looked at the pictures on my desktop that I realized I'd gotten a shot of former president George W. Bush, his wife Laura, and daughter Jenna.  We wouldn't have seen them if we hadn't crossed the track to the other side - it was a very fortuitous decision, indeed.  In the funeral motorcade earlier this year for his mother, Barbara Bush, I saw him waving at us as they drove by so it felt only right to see his face in this picture, in this funeral procession.
 
Another thing I noticed afterward - they were on the Lone Star car.
 
More people waving - I love that they made a sign saying THANK YOU to everyone lining the tracks.  My hand accidentally got in this picture - I was holding some small American flags and waving them back at the passengers in the train.
 
The caboose.
 
There it goes, continuing the journey into College Station.

We knew that there would be a 21-plane flyover of Navy fighter jets coming around 4:15, so we waited for that.  President Bush was a navy aviator in WWII and this would be the largest flyover ever.  It wasn't long before the first jet - an F/A 18 Hornet - came screaming over us.  Then, in formations of four, twenty more flew by.  We turned and watched the last group and saw one plane veer off, going almost straight upward, toward the heavens, by itself.  This was the missing man formation and it was a powerfully emotional thing to witness.  And because we'd had rain earlier and the skies were still cloudy, seeing it disappear into the clouds made it even more touching.
Diane got this shot - it's hard to get a clear picture of fighter jets with an iPhone, but it's nice to have as a remembrance of what we witnessed on that day.