duriyah: (Default)
I'm off to the Culturefest folk festival in the West Virginia mountains. I hope to have lots of fun! I'll be offline until Monday.


Aug. 9th, 2010 03:05 pm
duriyah: (Default)
I had an uncharacteristically busy and social weekend. Saturday evening was a birthday party for a dancer friend of mine. We ate at a sushi restaurant with the most inefficient service ever. They simply weren't set up for dealing with a party of 20 people. Their strategy seemed to be to serve the small parties of twos and fours first, while waiting to serve us until the rest of the restaurant cleared out so they could devote all the staff to helping us. What a strange strategy. They were all over our drink orders though, so by the time my food came I was kind of smashed and talking waay too loud. My food was good though, when I finally got it. Vegetable hibachi. Really yummy.

Then we went a couple doors down to a karaoke place, the kind where you rent a private room for a group of people. Was that ever fun! We had three mikes that got passed around, and everyone sang at once. We were loud and silly, and three hours passed in no time. My voice was hoarse by the time we left.

Then on Sunday, Rob and I spent the day at the Dublin Irish Festival. We got there in time to catch the last 20 minutes or so of Moya Brennan's performance. Moya Brennan is the lead vocalist and harpist with the Irish group Clannad. She has a beautiful voice. She and her band played a number of old Clannad songs from the 70's and 80's, the equivalent of Irish "oldies," really. They even played the old Clannad song "Dulaman", which contains some lovely mouth music, a style of singing that I had particularly hoped to hear. The performance was a musical high point for me, for sure. I'm only sad we didn't make it out there earlier so I could hear more, but we were still recovering from our Saturday night out.

We spent most of the rest of the afternoon hanging out with old friends who I haven't seen in over a year. I miss them greatly, and it was wonderful to see them again.

We still hadn't bought groceries for the week, so after we left the Irish Festival we swung by the grocery store and picked up drinking water and food for the week. Luckily we don't need much this week so we got it completed pretty quickly. It was perhaps 8:45pm when we pulled up our driveway. I didn't think about it at the time, but it was still light out. It's nice to come home so late and still have a little light left. It makes it not feel quite so late.

Enjoy it while you can, I guess. The days will very soon be noticeably shorter and the darkness arrive sooner. Not that I want to think about that yet.


Jun. 24th, 2010 06:06 am
duriyah: (Farmhouse spring)
We have central air, but it doesn't work so well to cool the upstairs. We finally got our window a/c unit in the bedroom window last night. On the hottest day of the year so far. I haven't slept so well in weeks! Aaaahhhhh!

License plate sighting yesterday: NTRL 20. Think they were heading to the Origins gaming convention, perhaps?
duriyah: (Default)
I actually ended up going to BOTH the Concrete Blonde concert AND the YSO Street Fair! Go me! We got to the Newport during the opening act, so there weren't many seating options by then. But I did manage to find a step that worked both as a place to see above the crowd and a place to sit when my back got tired. Concrete Blonde started off their show with Bloodletting, I started dancing, got lost in the music, and mostly forgot about my back problems.

They played a really great show. The people watching was fun, too. Most everyone there was about my age or a little younger, many with tattoos. Almost all looked like interesting people who know how to think for themselves instead of following the crowd. My kind of people.

I figured after all that standing (I stood for almost the entire concert) I wasn't going to be up for a street fair the next day, but ice and some good sleep did wonders, I guess, so off we went. I had a really good time in spite of the heat. I bought some handmade soap and pain reducing salve, and stocked up on healing herbal teas from the herb shop in town. I didn't seem to be in the mood to buy clothes, which was a shame, because there were some amazing dresses for sale!

The only other think I purchased was a 15 minute shiatsu massage. I don't think I've ever had shiatsu before. I asked the therapist to concentrate on my low back and hips. She had me lie on a thick mat on the ground and used her hands, knees, elbows to press acupressure points. She also did a lot of stretching. She made use of her entire body to do the work. At one point she placed the bottoms of my feet on her abs and leaned in, pressing my knees toward my chest, for a great low back stretch. It was an absolutely fantastic massage. Different from the massages I usually get, and well worth the $20 for 15 minutes.

Just as the vendors were packing up and we were making our way out of the street fair, a man pointed at my shirt and said, "Nice shirt!"

I was wearing a t-shirt with a batiked tree design that I bought at a YSO street fair some 20 years or so ago when I lived there. It turns out he and his business partner were the artists who had made my t-shirt! They don't make that style any more because it's so labor intensive. I thanked them and told them what a great shirt it is. How cool is it that I met the artists!

Sunday morning, after all that activity, I felt sore, but "normal" sore. Like I used to be in years past. It was the best feeling.
duriyah: (Default)
Just over a week ago I bought this ergonomic keyboard. It's split, which the woman who assessed my workstation a few weeks ago recommended. It also has an embedded track pad, similar to one on a laptop, to replace a mouse. The keyboard looks like this:

Theoretically it should help with the carpal tunnel symptoms I get from using a computer mouse. However, learning to use the track pad takes a lot of concentration at this stage. And unfortunately, the second day I really used the keyboard, I did a bunch of data entry and by the end of the day my right shoulder was tight and aching. I suspect that I'm holding tension there because of the intense concentration of learning to use the track pad.

I had my massage therapist work on it Monday night, and it released a whole lot. I hope it gets better as I get more used to using the track pad, and I don't have to concentrate as hard to control the cursor. I've been learning more shortcut key strokes to use instead of the track pad. That has helped a lot. I'm also trying consciously to relax when I'm at the computer, as well, which is also helping. This week has definitely been easier on the shoulder than last week.
duriyah: (Farmhouse spring)
This morning when I went to water my herbs I discovered that some creature had rooted them all out of the pots. In most cases the plants themselves looked untouched, but the creature seemed to have snacked on the roots of a couple of the plants.

I didn't have time to deal with them before work, but I repotted them all this afternoon. I think most of the plants will make it. I wonder about the thyme and oregano, though.

This happens ever year. Almost every time I plant something, I find it uprooted a day or two later. I replant. Sometimes they'll get uprooted a second time, and sometimes not. Usually the plants do make it.

I tire of this game.
duriyah: (Farmhouse spring)
I've been kind of busy, so I'm really behind on my updates. I'll try to catch up. I wrote this entry earlier this week. It's about last weekend:

As the weather has gotten warmer, and grass and weeds have been growing, I’ve had increasing stress about yard work. The good thing about living in the country is there are no neighbors to complain if I let the grass or the thistles get too high. The bad part about living in the country is that there is SO MUCH grass and SO MANY places the weeds (like thistle, Virginia creeper, and poison ivy) can take over. I was in so much pain last year that I couldn’t even think about doing anything except mowing. I don’t want another year like that to go by. This year I really would like to bring a bit more order to the farm yard.

Saturday morning I woke up stressed about all the many things that needed doing. I realize that it’s just a yard and this stress is not worth it, but still….it’s the feeling of not having control that bothers me. It doesn’t help that most of the recent weekends have been rainy and/or windy so I couldn’t get anything done.

My response on Saturday was to put off the “shoulds” and take a break for something fun FIRST rather than later. So I went shopping. First at World Market, where I bought some really pretty candle holders and a pillow to brighten my meditation/exercise space. Then up to Microcenter, where bought a new ergonomic keyboard. More on that in a later post.

Sunday, though, I got to work. I enlisted Rob to help me with the yard work. We took the lopper and cut down all the saplings that have sprung up in places where I don’t necessarily want trees. Like inches from the house or garage. Or in the middle of the raised flower bed. He trimmed some dead branches from the established trees, too. I pulled Virginia Creeper, mowed, and did some trim work. I stopped the minute I felt my back begin to get tired, came inside and put ice on it.

It was good work. With Rob helping it seems almost manageable. We got a good start on the work that needs to be done. I feel MUCH less stressed about it all now.

And now, a few things from this weekend:

Saturday morning, after breakfast (er, brunch), I potted up all the herbs that I'd bought: parsley, cilantro, lemon thyme, oregano, marjoram and basil. After the herbs I potted a few cuttings of pothos I have been growing over the winter. It took two hours, but felt like a huge accomplishment when it was done. My back did start complaining, and my butt is sore now, but I don't think I did any real damage, i.e., nothing's gone into spasm.

I still want to plant sage and mint, but this is a good start. The tall spiky plant is garlic I planted two years ago.

I can't tell you how much being able to get some work done outside has helped my mood. I really wanted an herb garden this year. Planting them in pots was definitely easier on my body than digging holes for them would have been. It feels like I have some ownership of my yard again. Or maybe relationship is a better word. I find myself enjoying being there more comfortably now.
duriyah: (Farmhouse spring)
Just got back from a local garden store with herb plants, pots and potting soil. That's right, I'm going to make a potted herb garden. This way I can plant herbs without having to break sod or dig holes, which could hurt my back. Additionally, the soil here is also very poorly drained, so any planting really needs to be done in either pots or raised beds (increasing the level of initial necessary effort). This way I know I'll plant at least a few things this year.

However, I did see that they were selling "raised bed kits", including pre-made frames and soil, for $90. That's very intriguing. Of course, the sod underneath the bed would still have to be removed, which I can't risk doing. It might be an option for next year, though. Or this year, I suppose, depending how badly Rob would like to have home-grown tomatoes.


May. 19th, 2010 10:03 am
duriyah: (Default)
I had tickets to see the Canadian synth-pop band Metric last night. I had [personal profile] rfunk buy the tickets a month ago when they went on sale, figuring the show might be sold out. The show was at the Newport, a mostly standing-room-only venue with a few scattered chairs. I knew was taking a risk, betting that I would be strong enough to be able to stand without much pain for the length of a pop concert.

Unfortunately for me, I ended up being scheduled to give a workshop at work yesterday, the same day as the concert. Would I be able to make it through an afternoon of teaching followed by an evening out?

I actually did a lot of standing during the training. I actually made it through the first hour and a half without wishing for a chair. After that I switched off between sitting in a chair and standing. I made it through the afternoon, though.

Driving home, I realized the pain in my low back was at about a 2. That's not bad, but is really my limit for continuing whatever activity is causing the pain. In this case, standing.

I ended up not being able to go to the concert, and I'm pretty bummed about that. But the silver lining is that I now know I can stand for up to an hour and a half without increasing pain. That's quite an improvement from the 10 minutes of standing I was able to do six months ago.

Now I have to decide whether to try for the Concrete Blonde concert in three weeks.

Edited to add: My strategy for recovering/getting through the strain of a concert included taking the following day off. This was a hugely good idea and I'm happily enjoying my day off today. :-)
duriyah: (winter)
Snow and ice on the ground this morning; I very nearly fell before I realized how icy it actually was. How quickly we forget. The poor cats did NOT want to be left outside this morning. They were particularly pathetic, and in a moment of weakness I let them back inside. But having them inside is too much hassle, so then I had to round them up again and toss the poor beasts out the door.

Now, the weather is still cool but above freezing, the sun is shining, and the snow is gone. Fused ice pellets no longer hold the cats' food dishes fast to the ground. Ki was sunning himself in the field when I drove up.


Mar. 19th, 2010 06:01 pm
duriyah: (Default)
I am grateful for my friends. My friends make me feel loved. The ones at work who like to hang out at lunch with me. Other real life friends both near and far who care about me and bring happiness to my life. And of course, you all, and the friendships I have built here.

I feel truly blessed.

Thank you all.
duriyah: (winter)
Life has been pretty normal around here recently...not much to write about. My exercise regimen last week included some new qigong workouts as well as some additional ab work. I can always tell when I've done good strengthening work, because I'm hungry and tired for a few days. Healing sucks my energy like a sponge.

I am eating well, though. I have slowly been adding additional foods to my diet to meet the increased nutritional needs of my healing body. Pumpkin seeds and almonds for zinc, folate, and a host of other minerals. Blueberries and blackberries for antioxidants, and their tonic effect on the liver and kidneys. Parsley--called a "spring tonic"--for iron, vitamin C, and blood-purifying properties. Beets, also for iron. Spirulina, a blue-green algae, for vitamin A, iodine, and B vitamins. Even fish for healthy fats, iron, and extra protein. And of course I was already eating lots of leafy greens and beans.

An old friend of Rob's visited us this weekend. She was a nutrition major in college and is now an organic farmer. She confirmed all the foods I've added to my diet as good choices. She was able to suggest a few new foods to add: avocados for high mineral content, and eggs for vitamin B12.

I do take supplements (lots, actually), but I have this theory that my body can absorb nutrients from actual food sources better than it can from pills. And it's really good to understand what foods actually do for you. It's one thing to be told to eat more vegetables and fruits, but feeling the direct effect certain foods have on me as I rebuild my body brings a whole new level of understanding to nutrition.

We had another visitor this weekend.

I took this picture from the living room window, just after noon. I suspect it was looking for food, as it was moving pretty slowly. I'm pretty sure it's been getting scraps from the compost bin. Poor thing.
duriyah: (farmhouse winter)
I am not doing well at handling my morning routine these days. The last 20-30 minutes before I leave for work is a blur of activity. I have to feed three cats three different kinds of food, and remember to give Patches her insulin shot.
feeding cats

Since Patches is diabetic it's pretty critical that she eat only her food. But, cats being cats, she tends to wander over and try to eat out of the other cats' dishes, while they, in turn, try to steal her food. So I have to keep an eye on them while they're eating and run interference whenever I spot food stealing going on.

Then while the cats are eating I set up Patches' automatic feeder so she gets a couple of meals throughout the day, then stick the feeder in the oven so that Ki doesn't break open the feeder and eat all of her food within minutes. (Rob puts the feeder out before he leaves for work, after having locked Ki upstairs behind two stacked baby gates. This extra bit of morning fun is all due to the fact that a) the weather is bad and Ki can't go outside, and b) this old house doesn't have doors that shut well enough to latch.) *
Ki contained

At this point I can fix my own breakfast (a smoothie of soy milk, blueberrys, spirulina, and ground flax seeds; and often a cup of microwaved egg whites) and pack my lunch into my messenger bag.

It takes the cats about 15 minutes or so to eat, so all this while I have to keep a lookout to what's going on with their food and correct any errant felines. Hissing works for the two hearing cats, but Patches, being mostly deaf, requires moving physically. Often I end up herding her across the room with my feet like a footballer**, which looks pretty comical.

There is so much going on that I sometimes end up forgetting a step. Not always, or even often, but when the step I am most likely to leave out is to give Patches her injection, it's a problem. That happened this morning. Luckily I remembered in time to call [personal profile] rfunk and he was able to go back and inject her. But I feel really bad about sending him back because he had to navigate the snowy, now slightly icy, driveway twice (thankfully he didn't get stuck).

Clearly I need to rethink my morning plan. I think I'll try posting a morning to-do checklist in the kitchen to remind me of all the steps in my routine. A friend with an ADD child had such notes posted around their house and it seems to work for her.
morning list

Much of this madness is a result of having to feed all three cats indoors. When the weather is better I can feed Ki and Barney outside, where they are happy to stay during the day (major advantage of living on a farm. Of course, working interior doors would also help with the food separation issue.) Life will be much easier come the thaw.

*I was sure I had mentioned this before, but looking back over my recent entries it doesn't look like it. Probably because the whole thing seems so ludicrous.

**Embrace your inner Anglophile, I say.
duriyah: (winter)
There are two new entries up at Drishtis, my other blog. In them I talk about I have adapted my my practice from being primarily yoga based to having a much greater emphasis on Chinese Qigong in response to the needs of my back and overall health. I also contemplate how I am doing at keeping my New Year's Resolution to better integrate a spiritual aspect into my daily exercise routine. Check them out if you think that might be interesting.
duriyah: (farmhouse winter)
We're supposed to get another 6"-9" of snow in the next 24 hours. I had planned to take advantage of the President's Day holiday and do some fun shopping at The Container Store today, but when I heard yesterday morning of the impending storm, I canceled my Sunday home-body plans and headed out shopping yesterday. As did everyone else in Columbus. I have never seen the mall parking lots so full, even near Christmas. I almost didn't find a parking spot, but just as I was about to give up and go home, I lucked into a spot as someone was leaving.

At The Container Store I acquired lots of things in which to put other things. My inner 2-year-old is really very excited.

So today, I'll be organizing, filing, paying bills, and generally being a homebody. Hopefully I will be able to get to work at some point tomorrow.
duriyah: (Default)
My back so much better last week that I felt able to do more exercise. I increased my time on the elliptical from 8 minutes once a day to 10 minutes twice a day. My cardiovascular system loved it, but by the end of the week the trigger point in my mid back was inflamed again from the rotational aspect of the elliptical machine.

*sigh* Two steps forward, one step back.

Saturday I rested. I was exhausted, both from the week and from the early morning trip to the vet. We were totally out of drinking water so a trip to the grocery was mandatory, but it was totally naptime after we got home. Dinner was pizza in bed.

Sunday I felt much more like myself, and was able to complete the rest of the weekend chores. After which I did lot of qigong and gentle stretching.

Yesterday I again got a massage before acupuncture. This time my student therapist worked right on the areas of knotted muscle (interspersed with plenty of area-wide friction, gods love him!) to loosen them up. Today my back feels muuuch better: wide and loose. Ahhh...

I hope it still feels good tomorrow. The first couple of times I got massages at the school I was really sore the day after, even though I drank several glasses of water afterward to flush out the toxins stirred up by the massage. That didn't happen this time, meaning that a) I've progressed quite a bit (yay), and b) following massage with acupuncture is a really good idea. I have had much success these last three weeks with that protocol.

This week's exercise theme is "Keep It Loose!" I'll be doing lots of qigong, focusing on moving gently and slowly, trying my best to keep those muscles from tightening up again.
duriyah: (farmhouse winter)
Patches made it through another vet visit yesterday morning. I treated her for an upper respiratory infection a month ago. It returned, so this time she was given a different, stronger antibiotic. She's prone to these sneezy colds; I hope this med kicks it. I must remember to give her some yogurt once the course of antibiotics is done.

She also has a mild eye infection, and we got some antibiotic ointment to treat that. Otherwise, she seems to be doing well. As well as can be expected for an old girl. We did get a recommendation for a glucometer that can check blood glucose. I can use the tip of one of the insulin needles to prick a vein in her ear to obtain the tiny drop of blood the meter requires (immediately throwing the needle away, of course). That way I will be better able to stabilize her blood sugar and adjust her insulin dose as needed. I'm relieved to be able to have that ability so there's no more need to get her blood drawn at the vet, which just stresses her out too much for my comfort.

She has been on insulin since last May. She's made it through an entire vial, something I never thought would happen. She's a resilient, stubborn old girl. Later this afternoon I'll go get her prescription refilled, and pick up a glucometer at the same time. Caring for her is work, but I'm glad she's still with me. It makes me happy when she's happy and feeling good. :-)


Jan. 18th, 2010 06:29 pm
duriyah: (farmhouse winter)
[personal profile] rfunk's working today, but I have the day off. The house is quiet. I have been very productive today, doing laundry, a little grocery shopping, and a few other things on my to-do list. I have enjoyed the quiet, but it's a bit strange to have the house to myself.

Now to do my exercises and meditate a little before he gets home.
duriyah: (Default)
I have now had an acupuncture treatments once a week for the past three weeks. I'm lucky enough to have a school of alternative medicine in my town (American Institute of Alternative Medicine). I knew they offered student acupuncture treatments, but I have never taken advantage of them before. But a friend at work who has had back problems about as long as I have (only hers are much worse) recently started getting treatments there, and swears by it. So I decided it was time for me to try it out.

Once I sign in and pay my $30, the acupuncture intern takes me back to the treatment room, where she begins the session with an intake interview. In addition to the questions you would expect, relating to my presenting problem and general health, I'm asked questions specific to Chinese medicine, relating to my diet, water intake, and excretions. The acupuncturist then takes my pulse and asks to look at my tongue. I'm not sure what they are reading in the pulse, but they always take their time with it, so it's obviously more than the usual beats per minute.

The intern's instructor, a Chinese woman, then comes in and also takes my pulse and looks at my tongue. The acupuncturist and her instructor then leave the room for a few minutes to make their treatment plan.

My first and third treatments have been basically the same treatment for the pain in my middle and lower back. The intern inserts a pair of needles (one on either side of the spine) at the top of my neck, mid-back, waist, and lower lumbar. I also get needles at the back of my knees, my ankles, the top of my feet, and top of my hands. This last time I also got a needle inserted in the top of my head at the crown point.

Sometimes I feel nothing when the needles are inserted, but at the places where the muscles are tighter there can be an initial sting that dissipates within 30 or 60 seconds. The treatment lasts 30 minutes, during which I lie on the table and try to relax.

The first treatment didn't feel really bad, but not good, either. I felt sensations of heat in the muscle around where some of the needles were, that slowly spread into the surrounding area. The weirdest part was toward the end when the heat spread into my illiopsoas muscle. That's the deep muscle that runs along the anterior pelvis and into the groin, and flexes the hip. It's your tenderloin muscle. It was weird to have the heat sensation so deep, when all I'm doing is lying there.

Later that evening I felt sore through my waist in the back and front. The soreness was gone by morning. The experience was similar to the first few times I got electrical stim: vaguely unpleasant during the treatment, sore and painful directly afterward, but much better the following day.

The third treatment, this past week, was much easier than the first. I didn't feel as much pain when the needles were inserted or as much sensation during the treatment. And the addition of the point at my crown really relaxed me. I nearly fell asleep.

My second treatment went differently from the other two because my needs were different. The day before, my elderly, diabetic cat had to be rushed to the vet to be treated for hypoglycemia, which can be fatal within hours. She pulled through, but she very nearly died. Needless to say, I was still full of anxiety and grief when I arrived for my acupuncture appointment, and the muscles of my upper back burned from the tension I had been carrying there.

The acupuncturist inserted needles at points along my upper back related to the lungs. Apparently the lungs relate to grief, and that is why I had been carrying tension in my upper back. She also inserted needles on my hands, inner wrists, feet, and one at the top of my skull.

I didn't feel much in the way of physical sensation except deep relaxation. I nearly fell asleep, and when the half hour was over I was so relaxed that I had to take my time getting up from the table. It also grounded me and brought my emotions back to a more manageable level, which was a relief. So: acupuncture works not only for pain management, but for emotional balance as well.

Interesting thing: one morning several days after the first treatment, I discovered quite by accident that I can encourage the energy flow simply by thinking about the acupuncture experience. I was lying in bed waiting for sleep, and my mind wandered to the acupuncture. The moment I remembered the sensations of the treatment,I felt the same sensations of heat flow through my back as I experienced during the treatment. That took me by surprise, but what a useful thing! It's just like my meditation teacher says: energy follows thought. Since that first time I have made a point to send thought/energy to these areas at least once a day, especially before I do any qigong, in the hopes of helping speed the healing process.


duriyah: (Default)

August 2013



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