Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cold Weather Blues - Zags Lose

Oh no ... the Zags lose!

First a close one with Conneticut here on the West side in Seattle which they had ever chance to win, but then they turn around a few days later at home with Portland State and blow really it. All of this in the midst of some real winter in Seattle and especially in Spokane with what appears to be a record breaker for total December snowfall. It's as if the whole world has come to a stand still in disbelief ... the Zags lose.

There is good that intermingles with this bad Zag news and that is Cara and Matt arrived safely on Friday December 19 (actually slightly after midnight so Saturday December 20) and Carla and Denny Gish made up here for the Battle in Seattle on Saturday which gave us all a chance to meet when they stopped here to pick up Matt and Cara for the Battle in Seattle. Then on Sunday it was redux when all Denny, Carla, Matt and Cara all came back through Federal Way for another cup of coffee and to pick up some more Matt and Cara bags before heading to Battle Ground and the Gish and Sarvella homes. See some shots of Uncle Matt at Megs blog.

It is now Friday December 26, Christmas day is behind, but remember Christmas day is only the first day of 40 days of Christmas. May the light born on Christmas shine those 40 days and then everyday for all of us.

And now Saturday, December 27. Matt is off to James and Ada's with some of James' friends and then back home to FW for a few days. Cara is back to Battle Ground to spend time with her family.

There were lots of pics of the winter weather and Christmas, but for some reason that continues to frustrate me my camera cannot be read directly be my computer. So I sit here with the camera attached. The computer knows the camera is there, I can find it in the hardware, but none of the software can find the camera - Picassa, Photoworks even Canon. I have uninstalled and installed ad infinitum and still nothing. So to get pictures I have to download on another machine and then load then transfer them with a thumb drive or some such to my machine. Some times computers just irritate the heck out of me. And no it has not always done this, I am convinced that one of the camera reading softwares I used somewhere disabled them all and I can't figure it out.

That's it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cribbage, Thanksgiving, Grappa and Not Medically Necessary

On Thanksgiving day Mary and I drove to Ellensburg to have Thanksgiving dinner with James and Ada. They couldn't be here on the west side because of James work schedule so we went over there for the big meal. Mary drove because my leg was (is) still aching. We spent a few hours with them and then left to let James get off to sleep so he would be ready for the early shift on Friday morning.

On Saturday James and Ada drove to Federal Way, a chance to get away from E-burg and do some shopping. First thing we did was our annual trip to Bees and Trees for our Christmas tree. We got that home and in the stand and through the afternoon Ada with a little help from James got the decorating started. James and Ada found some time to go shoping and then we all watched Oregon State tank their once in 44 year opportunity to go to the rose bowl by losing to the Ducks. Vey humiliating and humbling.

After the game Fran and Jim Pearson came over and we proceeded to celebrate with beverages and dinner. Jim had to return to Italy early Sunday morning and he had some grappa he was sharing with friends. Thank goodness there was only a "small" amount of the grappa left when he came over. Jim also brought along some Italian field wine (2008 vintage - very rugged). As you can see from the pic, Mary is something of a grappa fan ...
It became an evening of too many different beverages for me. Although the grappa was very good ... or so Jim said, and most seemed to enjoy including me, but in combination with everthing else it was too much for me and I paid for it through the night. Needless to say Sunday was pretty quiet, we didn't even make it to church and I am not a grappa fan, even though I am confident that this was very good grappa.
On Sunday morning we got moving slowly, had some breakfast, easy does it for me and eased into the day. We watched a little football and later in the day decided to play some cribbage before James and Ada left. We couldn't find our cribbage board so we dredged up our crib golf board and our book of Hoyle Cribbage rules and plowed forward. James and Ada proved to be the masters of the afternoon winning handily before heading up and over the hill back home to Ellensburg. During the crib game I found out that James played regularly when he was in Junior High and it was clear he had not lost his touch. And after playing it dawned on me that everybody seems to have crib boards on their Christmas lists this year ... hmmm!
Here it is a week later and Mary and I wanted to play some cribbage. We still couldn't find the crib board so I conjured up a crib template, left and we played a quick round. I think we will be ready for a rematch with James and Ada and ready to take on Matt and Cara when they visit at Christmas.

Just a little bit more ... an update on my hip leg. I have continued to live with want is sometimes rather acute pain in my left hip and leg. What I describe as chronic pain. Where it has eased of from early on it is still pretty persistent. I did see the doctor on 11/21 and he took xrays which convinced him I needed an MRI, this had to be submitted for approval. This past Friday I heard back from my doctor that the insurance review board had determined that an MRI is not medically necessary. I will follow-up this week on next steps, in the meantime I have been doing massage (including some agressive work on my piriformis in my left butt cheek) stretching and hot/cold treatments. It is getting better, but I sure would like to get some additional data which for now is Not Medically Necessary.
Hope all is well with all of you.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bursitis? ... Not!

Last week I shared the story about my leg pains and the preliminary assessment that I was dealing with bursitis, in this case an inflamation of the bursor on my hip. The chiropractor gave it that label and with some online searching it seemed to fit. The hip busor is where all of the various muscles in the upper leg and butt come together at the outside of the hip bone or pelvis. But as the pain hung around we decided to take it to another level, get another truly diagnostic opinion. On Friday I went to see the Orthopedic surgeon. He took pictures (xrays) of the hip and then examined me and said he didn't think it was bursitis, and thought it might be the sciatic nerve, and that he want to get an MRI, including a look at the lower spine. After asking me if I was claustrophobic he told me he would make arangements for the MRI and that it would be a week or so before they got the approvals to go ahead ... all of that is in process now.

I was initially disheartened by the sciatic nerve preliminary diagnosis. It seemed like one more strike against this old body. Anyway, on Saturday morning I headed to the chiropractor for another adjustment, having decided to keep getting regular adjustments to see if they would help, at least until the MRI. I also decided I would pursue some Massage Therapy which I hope to get started this week. And in the meantime, after working through a serious case of shared "getting old" blues with Mary, she started digging into the web information to learn more about sciatica and she is now betting on my hip and leg issues being problems with my puriformis.

Let me explain. The number 1 cause of sciatic problemns is Puriformis Syndrome. This occurs much more frequently than disk problems. The puriformis is a muscle in the butt and it just so happens that the sciatic nerve passes under (86% of people) or through and/or around (14% of people). And reading the details, lots of the info seemed to fit. I jumped right on some new puriformis stretches along with my regular stretching routine and felt almost imediate relief. Hope abounds. Now as I wait for the MRI to find out what is so irritated, I plan to pursue a course of stretching including the new puriformis strecthes, applying hot and cold therapy (I am currently trying some heat), chiropractic adjustments and finally massage. I would love to go back in and tell the orthopedic doctor I am feeling much better and then learn from him and the MRI what I can about my lower back and left hip.

All of this is of interest for obvious reasons, it is hard to have much fun lying on my back or having to stand up all of the time. Yes these were the only two postions where I was consistently pretty comfortable. Sitting was the worst and I found it difficult to hold still, expect for a few chairs that seemed to work. Car seats were bad, especially the Volvo with its plush seats. And my new R&D job involves some travel . Frankly I am scared at the prospect of a cross country plane flight if my leg is acting up sitting down. With these motivations and Mary wanting to see me out of pain I am delighted to have found what looks like a plan to improve.

The learning for me is when they say stretch they mean stretch ... no short cuts. So I expect this is one more reminder to me that I am getting older and that I need to take care of myself. The scars and problems I inflicted as a younger man cannot be fixed, but I need to be disciplined and do the things necessary to preserve and maximize what remains and persevere. It doesn't get easier, but it sure is nice when you find some answers with more to come.

Thats all for now ...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Work, wine, bursitis and Football

In an earlier blog I talked about being on notice for layoff at Weyerhaeuser. Last Friday I received a job offer to join the Lumber and Wood Science group, which I have accepted. This job takes me back to a scientist role, which is similar to the role when I started with the company and it will now extend my tenure with Weyerhaeuser beyond the end of this year ... Hooray! I spent some time this week haggling over the offer and transitioning from my corporate headquarters (CH) office to the Weyerhaeuser Technology Center (WTC). I officially start on Monday, November 17. Which brings us to wine.
For those who may not know Mary and I do enjoy wine. On Tuesday we got our quarterly shipment from our Elk Cove (Oregon) wine club - 2 excellent bottles of Pinot Noir. One of the two bottles 2007 Richmond Hills Pinot, filled out a flight (3 years of the same vineyard and wine maker) which we will look forward to sharing with friend some years from now. We have done that one other time and it is a lot of fun tasting the year to year differences in the fruit because of all the factors that affect the crop from year to year as well as the wine making itself - very interesting or maybe I should say "berry interesting". Anyway with work starting Monday and not much more I could do there until I am electronically transferred (in this case re-instituted as an active employee in People Soft) into my new team, Mary and I decided to take an outing. Our default idea was to go to Poulsbo for the day, but I couldn't get too excited about it and countered with a suggestion to go to Seattle for the day. This didnt stick either, no real plan just kind of kick around and explore some sites we havent seen and old sites too. Then Mary suggested wine tasting ... she had seen an article on some up and coming wineries and one of them was in Woodinville. After mulling it awhile I latched on and while Mary was at Book Club I found 4 wineries to visit. Mary liked the research so we planned for Woodinville and starting to get to know more of the "local" wineries.
So it is time to go, I write this as Mary preps to leave. We will spend the night up there too so we dont have to fight Friday evening traffic. Early this morning the wine trip seemed like it could be in jeopardy. Since Tuesday night I have been dealing with an ache in my left hip. Friday morning I went to the chiroprator hopeful that he would do a simple adjustment and magic the pain would subside. No such luck. After a few simple tests he says you are having a bursitis flare up and the answer is rest and ibuprofen. Seems my workout on Tuesday, running side-by-side with Mary had flared up the bursor in my hip and it is still alive and well 4 days later. It significantly distracts my ability to think of much else. With the diagnosis in hand Mary and I decided to carry out the wine tasting as it would not require much walking. The most painful part of the trip was the car ride. It is very difficult for me to get comfortable in the seat of a car. The result is constant squirming. Mary drove to Woodinville, about 40 miles, with the first stop at Januik/Novelty Hill wineries; these two operations share a warehouse factility where they have their wineries, common tasting room and the same wine maker, Januik. From there we had lunch at the Barking Frog which is at the Willows Inn if you are looking for a nice ($$$) place to stay. The food was great, Mary had sauteed scallops and I had a very good chicken club sandwich. After lunch it was back to wining with Brian Carter which was written up in the local newspaper magazine last week, then a first stop at Delille to pick up a pre-ordered bottle of wine (more on that later), on to Bookwalter (an add suggested by the host at Brian Carter (Ken), and then to Matthews, a total of 6 wineries. We ended the day at Delille Cellars where our pre-purchase wine was the ticket to an evening of hors d'ouevers with a tasting of their fall release wines. Summing it up for the day - some great wines, interesting conversation with people who make and sell wine and some very nice time together with Mary. Damages at the end of the day was 17 bottles of very good wine and a busted budget for the month.

Finally, Saturday is football day. This evening we plan to watch two (2) 2008 "never ran" teams - Washington Huskies and UCLA Bruins - battle it out at Husky stadium. The real novelty is likely to be watching Rick Neuhiesel coaching at Husky Stadium after being asked to leave in a gambling scandal several years ago. Neuhiesel is now coach of the UCLA Bruins which is also his Alma Mater. The Washington coach Ty Willingham is also something of a pariah at UW as the Huskies have gone 0-11 in 2008 with 2 games still to play. It has already been announced that Ty will not be back to coach next year.
Well this is more than enough blogging for one time ... the bursitis is still bugging me, the trunk is full of wine, we will head home soon to get ready for the football game and Monday I start my new job. I wish and hope all is well with everybody reading this and Cheers!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Edison Angels

This post is from my archives, something I wrote several years ago that I want to share ... at least the season is timely as it recalls a November road trip along the north Washington coast.

Long Live The Edison Angels

This story is about a trip to explore Washington’s Chuck A Nut highway and one of the surprises we found along the way. Winding between the Chuck A Nut Mountains and Puget Sound, along the north Washington Coast, the Chuck A Nut is a gateway to adventure and discovery. Late summer outings provide sunshine, fresh Dungess crab and oysters, beach parks trails, Bellingham shopping and more. Every turn of the road offers views of the San Juan Islands, which speak of more adventures for another day.

The trip from Federal Way north, late on a Sunday morning, was a hum drum zip up I-5. Leaving the interstate behind at exit 231, we entered the Chuck A Nut region from the south. Coming into to Bow, we were keeping our eyes open for a morning latte. The two store fronts we did see were too modest and got only passing attention, until we were five miles up the road. At that point we decided to turn around and take another look to see what we missed in Bow.

As we headed back to Bow a check of the map revealed another town, Edison, west of Bow toward the Samish Bay. We decided to check it out, finding Edison to be a larger, though still small, farming community, consisting of mostly agriculture buildings, quite a few houses and two bars. Tucked in among these structures was a small little house with a sign out front that identified it as a bakery. With plenty of cars in the parking lot and customers sitting on the porch, we decided to check it out and at least get some coffee.

Little did we know that we had just stumbled into the secret hiding place of the Edison Angels – Girl Bakers. Inside this little house we discovered two women whipping up latte’s and conjuring up pastries to the obvious delight of a steady stream of customers. The glass counter displayed an array of marvelous monstrous cookies and cinnamon rolls and something new to me, called Galettes. Behind the counter one of the two women was carefully preparing a new batch of these Galettes, while the second woman took orders, prepared coffee drinks and managed the cash register.

The Edison Galettes are a rectangular pastry, formed by softly folding the four corners of the flattened pastry dough inward, to the center of the pastry. This forms something of a cup to hold a large dollop of colorful fruit filling, which is spooned onto the waiting dough. The filling is a rich mixture of blueberries, raspberries and honey, which could be seen simmering away on the stove. The sights, smells and tastes were all simply divine.

Contented, because we had fulfilled our first quest, we sat and enjoyed our coffee and these new found treats. Wishing to capture and hold the moment, we decided to buy two more Galettes, for the next morning, and two marvelous, monstrous cookies for later that same day. Snacks in hand we headed back to Bow where we turned north up the Chuck A Nut highway to our next adventure. The day continued to offer delights, but none as special as our encounter with the Edison Angels and their baked delights.

3 November 2002

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Acute Angles and Election Day

It is early November here in the Northwest, the sun is on its march to its winter solstice. The days are short and last weekend they seemed to get a little shorter with the return to Standard Time. Do you like that extra hour that we get back each fall, the one they take away each spring? Anyway, the arc of the sun this time of the year is so short, the sunshine comes at us at acute angles, like dawn and dusk even at mid-day. If you are driving in the direction of the sun, (and it is clear) the sun will be in your eyes. I heard once that Seattle has the highest per capita purchase of sun glasses of any city in the US which seemed a bit of a paradox given the reputation for rain, but when the sun is out you need the sun glasses. Especially those times you may be driving down the highway in the rain and the road spray is all around and then all of a sudden you have a sun break, you will wish you had your sun glasses ready at those times.

Today's color is BLUE or probably more appropriately Red, White and Blue! It was with great pleasure and hope that I watched Barack Obama make his acceptance speech tonight. I think he is a person who is well aware of and admits to his own faults, who listens to and understands all sides of an argument, who has demonstrated a great skill in managing an election and building a team of advisers that represent many of this nations best minds. He has pulled himself up from modest beginnings with his insatiable desire to achieve the American Dream, and he recognizes this as a dream to be shared with and for every man, woman and child in this country.

I was also gratified listening to Barack Obama and John McCain speak to a spirit of cooperation. This is sorely needed after such a long and hard campaign. It is just amazing to me that this (young) man, has ascended this political mountain. The path ahead is full of huge obstacles, unimaginable complexity and risks that will challenge us all. In leading us, our new president is key to setting the tone, we all share in the responsibility to find and create the solutions we need to succeed.

May God Bless Barack Obama and his family, and may God Bless the United States of America.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

All Souls Day

The end of a quiet weekend. I think the main event was going to the movie The Changeling on Friday. This was a very good movie about the corrupt LA Police Department in the late 1920's, supposedly based on a true story. Christine Collins (played by Angelina Jolie) is an up and coming manager at the phone company. She comes home from work one evening to find her 8 year old son missing. She engages the police department to help find her son and they, in need of some good PR deliver a boy (not her son) and notify the community that they have found and returned her son. Of course the plot thickens further, if you are looking for some good drama this met that bill for me.

After the movie Mary and I went for a bite to eat. Our goal was to avoid being home for the trick-or-treat crowd. Mary said she had enough of kids for the week - it was conference week and she had worked about 70 hours counting the previous weekend. So the plan was a movie and "dinner", through the trick-or-treat hours. So after the movie we went to the Zephyr Grill (in Kent, WA) where we started to sit down to dinner and then I asked about the bar menu - 1/2 price bar menu until 6 PM and happy hour drink specials - and we went and found an empty stool at the bar. We had some great bacon wrapped meatloaf sliders and onion rings and some good conversation. I was wearing my Obama T-shirt, which started the conversation. I must say you find a lot of Obama supporters in this part of the world. We got home about 8:30, I know we are quite the party animals. And we did have 1 set of trick-or-treaters who came by who I dispatched quickly with some snack sized candy bars.
In the end, not much of a Halloween celebration at our House this year. It sure was nice to see some of the events from Ellensburg - James and Ada - and from Knoxville - Matt and Cara. It was our taste of Halloween - some great pumpkin carving by all. Here are some pictures from Jaybo and Ada I particularly like the flying pig.

I am now in my preparation run up for a colonoscopy on Wednesday. This will be my 3rd one, I am on a 5 year cycle because of a family history for colon cancer. A friend in town sent me Dave Barry's colonoscopy journal, it is a great read if you have a colonoscopy coming up. This is the big event for the week and if I am lucky I may hear about next steps for a job I am pursuing.

For now this is DaddyHoag signing off ... Peace!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Chiken Cacciatore Redux

Or maybe it is chicken cacciatore echo ... in any case it was pointed out to me that I misspelled chicken cacciatore in my earlier post. I grabbed it off the webthen and I did so again, so ... it may still be misspelled, no trusting the web for spelling accuracy. In any case I think folks got the intent ... oh yeah, tonite was leftovers of the chicken cacciatore with a salad and a merlot blend (The Jack) from Walla Walla. Not as good as the first night, but still a solid dinner.

Mary asked me "What was the most exciting thing you did today?" Answer, I took the 30 2x4 cedar boards from the garage and I laid them out in the sunshine. We had a beautiful October day today, mid-60s here in Federal Way. I have been "aging" the wood in the garage with plans to prefinish it in a week or 2 and then with a contractor friend upgrade our front porch. Last year we put in a real centerpiece front door and it is past time to improve the deck to match the quality of the door. We (I) hemmed and hahhed on the choice of deck, synthetic or cedar and in the end opted for cedar cause I just am not an affeciando of the synthetic deck products. Anyway, it is hard to find great cedar these days, too much sapwood in what is available, but that said we found some pretty good wood and will have a great deck when we are done. This is a pic of "the door" before the new deck, oh yeah and after the new paint job. I will add the new deck in a later blog.
More later ...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Chicken Catchatori

I am currently on notice from my job at Weyerhaeuser. That means I have been given my 60 days notice and during this time I am able to work with provided outplacement services to find new work. This has been fairly rigorous, but much less so than my prior job. I have updated my resume (several times), attended workshops (mostly by phone) and I am learning about all the various ways to distribute resumes and look for work through job boards, other company websites, networking, LinkedIn and on and on. So far I have kept my search to Weyerhaeuser and with luck and a killer resume I will find a great job here. And because I do not currently have a daily commitment in my Weyerhaeuser office I have been mostly working from home, with occasional trips into the "real" office.

I know this work arrangement has some longterm downsides, at some point the paychecks will stop, but with Mary working fulltime this fall it has some advantages. It really has been nice to change routines and to stop travelling for now. Here at home I have taken over primary responsibility for most meals. For a long time now, I have been the lead on preparing breakfast, each of us would do our own lunches and then Mary would do dinners. Well this fall I have taken over the majority of the dinners too and am enjoying cooking dinners again. Last night - Friday - I prepared Chicken Catchatori and if I do say so myself it was great. We had it with a Rigatoni (pasta) and a Sangiovese/Cabernet blend wine from eastern Washington.

Today, Mary has been grading papers and I have done some prep work for a deck project we are doing. I started to replace a light switch in the hall, but when I got into it I realized I was dealing with a 4-way switch and I had bought a 3-way. Now I have a good excuse to go get the right switch at Ace Hardware and then to drop into Metropolitan Market (next door) for the Spainish wine tasting. After that will come home and watch the VOLUNTEERS vs Alabama and the World Series with Jamie Moyer starting for the Phillies. I am more of a Tampa fan this year, but tonight I will be pulling for Jamie to win. Sunday I will get back to the 4-way switch.

About Braided Rivers

Braided rivers is a theme that got into my head when we went to Alaska. It was the first time I heard the terminology. In case you don't know these are the rivers flowing from the glaciers ... the new rivers flowing through glacial silt with ever changing channels. One stream of water will form with others and then be redivided and reformed again and again. In Alaska they flow like this to the sea. I also noted on the same trip how our paths would touch and then separate only to retouch other travellers. On this trip braided rivers flowing from Denali became a metaphor for life. This is my first posting .... more to come.