Monday, March 10, 2014

Sleep Apnea

Turns out I have sleep apnea. That means that during the time you are asleep you stop breathing. I stopped breathing 50+ times during my study at the sleep center. I don't remember any of that. I actually worried nothing would show because I slept better there than anywhere else I've been recently. Actually, for a LONG time. I had an adjustable double width bed, and just that extra bit made a big difference from the adjustable twin at dialysis or the hospital. I put all my stuff within reach and didn't have to twist to get things off a table or nightstand. A table and nightstand were available, but my preference is to have things closer. I know, I'm weird.
I think the thing that made it such a restful sleep was the lack of noise. No dialysis machines, no traffic, nobody mumbling in his sleep, and no nurses checking vitals. The tech came in twice (that I remember!), once to attach the EEG leads, once to reattach one that had fallen off, and then once I was awake she came in to take them off my head.
So, imagine my surprise when I heard the results. I had no idea I stopped breathing for up to 35 seconds. Matt wasn't surprised since he'd seen it at home. It scared him to watch me gasping for air after one of those longer episodes. So, I'm very glad I had the study done, despite the part that I now have to get used to sleeping with a machine. On the bright side, maybe it can mask some of the other noises that I need to ignore!?!?!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Copy That Burger, Animal Style

While we wait for me to figure out how to post the pictures of food and other things to my blog I thought I better start writing some posts before it becomes too overwhelming to catch up. That's usually when I just give up. I can cite several projects that have recently been ignored because I'm too far behind, but since this is about Animal Style Burgers I should stick to the subject.
I'm not a burger fanatic. I could even live the rest of my life without a burger and still be happy. This, from the girl who got engaged at The Training Table, a fancy burger joint. (I still love their special fry sauce and lemonade!) All of this doesn't mean I don't like burgers. I do! But, sometimes it's the mood and sometimes it's the burger. For these In-n-Out knockoffs there is a decent amount of work and they didn't taste like In-n-Out. They were dang good though! I got the recipe from They have a good sized knockoff menu, so there are several things I want to try. Because there is already a perfectly good recipe, I won't rewrite it. The tweaks for Lizzie are obvious- no mayo, Lizzie cheese, etc. There are, however, tweaks that I would use, and some that are out of my hands.
The first is the meat. The recipe recommends a 60/40% ratio of fat in the meat. I'm not sure my butcher carries anything like that, and even if he did that is a lot of fat! I went with an 80/20% and the burgers still shrunk nicely.
Next is the special sauce. The food network people either have not looked into this or they don't print it because they know it will be unpopular with the general population. The special sauce consists of ketchup, sweet relish, vinegar, and mayo. This comes very close to the actual sauce in a way that mixing ketchup and mayonnaise can "become" fry sauce or Russian Dressing. The flavor is similar, but slightly off, and the color is the same, so that's good enough, especially when the actual ingredient goes against every rule their taste buds have given them. The secret to good sauce is NOT mayo. It's Miracle Whip.
Noooooooo!!!!!!! I can hear some of you screaming now. But trust me on this. Do your own experiments. Buy the smallest bottle of Miracle Whip available, Salad Dressing if you buy the store brand, (I wouldn't, just for accuracies sake) and then pick up a burger, asking for extra sauce on the side. If you have Fry Sauce in your grocery store you can pull it into the debate. I haven't tasted it, so you'll need your own taste buds to work overtime if you are so inclined. Mix up two types of sauce, one using mayo (1/4 cup), ketchup (2 Tbls), sweet pickle relish (1 Tbls) and a white vinegar (1/2 tsp), with the other simply substituting Miracle Whip (1/4 cup) instead of the mayo.
Remember, this is only to verify my claim that the original fry sauce from Arctic Circle and the special sauce in these burgers uses M.W. Do your taste test. You can still like and enjoy the blander version, but unless you know the truth you won't have the option to prepare this correctly.
Next, the size of that thing! The picture shows an overwhelming double-double, dripping with flavor and grease. We each used only one patty and some of us still couldn't finish! Talk about a mouthful!
I'm going to need to find a nice hickory smoked b-b-que sauce soon. All this talk about burgers has made me crave stuff, and that fry sauce that The Training Table had was made from hickory b-b-que sauce and ......... Miracle Whip!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I can't sleep!

This is day four of a run of sleepless nights (not so unusual) and only catching an hour or two during the day. It's not for lack of trying. I'm in bed now, and I know I shouldn't have my electronics and gadgets in bed with me when I'm trying to sleep, but at some point I gave up lying in the dark listening to Matt breath and Duchess snore. I'll be getting up in about 15 minute to start my day. If I'm lucky it will include an actual nap and not an attempted one.
I am lucky enough that I have time for naps and a grown family who support my nap habit. I just need this recent inability to sleep to say goodbye. I am tired. Trust me on this. I need the nap pretty badly today since I have to drive the 26 miles to dialysis tonight. That 45 minute drive is not safe if I fall asleep in the car with the rhythmic movements of the tires, the overly familiar sites, the inability to change positions, and whatever else makes small children and me fall asleep so easily on a car ride. 45 minutes? 10 minutes could be just as bad at this point!
Do I worry more now after my two accidents? Yes.
Did I fall asleep to cause either accident? No.
Are you sure? Yes! I am a statistic.
The first accident was one mile from dialysis. I had driven 25 miles of the incredibly familiar road and wasn't as aware as I should have been. A minor curve in the road, a lack of sidewalk, potential ice in Matt's opinion, and there it is. A bent tire rim and the beginnings of reality checks I've given myself lately.
The second accident was about two miles from home. I had safely navigated 24 miles back from dialysis when a familiar curve was sharper than I judged it to be. A broken axel and a serious questioning of my driving abilities from myself (and Scott) and there it is, again. The car should have flipped over, but apparently I'm needed around here still.
I bought my Saturn with the thought in mind that I will probably bump into things still. If I put down the number of bumps and bruises the Chevy had it would seem that the "accident" was really a mercy killing, inanimate object version. The Saturn is also a P.O.C., but with rust spots instead of dents and a locked steering column instead of an overheated engine. The Chevy's AC didn't work, the Saturn's barely works.
Okay, that's enough of that. Lets just say they are comparable in their worth. Whatever the problems though, if I don't fall asleep in this bed, that car is not where I can make up the time.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


The tone of voice, the terror implied nearly stopped my heart. Why was my little girl screaming like that at 2:00 in the morning? She had not had nightmares for ages and she just kept screaming, "Mom, Mom, Mom!"
I grabbed a shoe, not clear why I needed it, but it was the first weapon handy. My baby needed protection from something.
I raced up the stairs, mentally cursing the number. When we bought the home I was enthralled by how beautiful the high ceilings were in this 100 year old building. So much character comes with older homes.
I finally reached Sarah's room to find her huddled in the center of the bed, sheets and blankets pulled up to eye level. She was staring at the open door to the porch just off of her room. That porch was another quirk of the home. There were no trees next to it and climbing over the rail only led to a steep roof. No sneaking out after dark. So, what was she looking at?
"Mom, I saw someone!"
"What do you mean you saw someone?" No one was in the house but me, my husband Matt who was still sleeping, and Sarah.
"Right there, in the doorway! An ugly man peeked around the corner! But, I didn't hear anyone run away." This last line was delivered very solemnly. She knew that for someone to run away there were obstacles in the way. First, dry leaves. They were everywhere on that porch. They got trapped by the railing. Second, the location. There would have to be slipping and possible thuds from falls. No auditory clues reached our ears.
Slowly, I approached the door, shoe at the ready. I didn't know how some pervert had gotten up there, but he would pay. Common sense said Matt would be a better weapon than my shoe, but between the flight up the stairs and my mothering instinct, I was ready for anything.
I noticed the dead leaves on the floor, trailing from the open door. They weren't there when I tucked Sarah in. I managed to whisper to Sarah, "Get your father."
The door was close now. I could touch the knob, slowly gripping it. My muscle tensed, preparing to smack the daylights out of him. I knew my anger and forthcoming actions were justified. Perhaps Matt would have to stop me.
I yanked open the door, unsure if I would encounter someone preparing to escape or someone still set to intrude on my world. I stepped over the threshold and found...nothing. The wind blew gently, Sarah and Matt came behind me, each needing an explanation, and the invisible fingers of ice began their dance on my spine. No one was there. No one had been there. Except for an ugly face and an even uglier beginning to episodes where I can feel the ice fingers right before objects fall from sturdy shelves or leaves blow across the empty bedroom floor.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Another FlashFiveFriday

AJ looked out from the cabin doorway to survey the damage from last night's storm. He had heard several lightning strikes, felt the ground shudder with massive impacts from fallen giants, and hunkered down under the sturdiest piece of furniture in anticipation of personal danger. Ara had remained calm, surprisingly so, while they rode out the storm. It had petered out sometime around four in the morning, slowing in fits and starts, then finally a truce with simple rain for an hour before leaving them to see what remained.
Ara was still asleep, two hours not being enough, and not as invested in his mountain as AJ was.


A bit more catch up, and a couple of related topics make that easier!

Do you prefer to have still photographs or videos from important moments? and Talk about your favourite photograph.

I have two very important people in my life who have ideas about which of these is best. My sister Hanna is a professional photographer. She is very good at what she does and is always getting on me to take more pictures! I love going through her port polio, and our best family photos have been shot by her. Without actually asking her, I'm pretty sure she sides with still photographs. On the other side is my sweet husband Matthew. He is a video fiend. Even back in the 80's when the large, heavy, clunky cameras were becoming accessible to the layperson he had one and used it constantly. Now, his iPhone video camera is overused, taking up all the space on out photo stream. It used to be VHS tapes, some labeled, some not, cluttering our bookshelves (which took up room from the much more important BOOKS.) To be fair, he also takes stills-about a million of them, and whether it is video or stills, he has always had the same problem with editing procrastination. I don't think we need 20 shots of a stranger along with a video while she gives a speech. Sorry honey.
With that information I'm sure it will come as no surprise that I like still photos much better than video. Part of this is vanity, since I hate the way I sound in videos, especially as I demand that the video camera be cut off. Part of it is the inability of anyone I know to take a decent video. And, part of it is the way modern video doesn't stack up to the old 35 millimeter, black and white, silent films from my grandparents era, and even some of my own very young cameos. I like the B & W best, but as color was added there were still many good qualities in these films. Perhaps it is because the equipment, film, and processing all were finite resources, unlike our digital cameras now. Maybe the older generation was simply more talented!
I like still photos from any era. The professionally posed portraits and the spontaneous snaps all capture moments in time that become a story unto themselves. Videos are stuck with the story that comes between frame one and the end. Still photos have endless stories attached, from history to in the moment spontaneity. The best photos remind us of a story, that leads to a new story, that continues to another story, that... well, you get "the picture!" even that phrase, "get the picture," has specific meaning for those who hear it. A mental picture, or series of pictures, are available for perusal at leisure or to frame a situation in a way so that it is relatable to anyone listening and "getting the picture."
My favorite photo is one from my wedding. My new husband and I are standing in front of the Manti Temple where we had just been married for time and all eternity. It isn't my favorite because I look so gorgeous. The wind was blowing, messing with my hair and dress. It isn't my favorite because the photographer captured all the beauty of the spring gardens. I didn't have a lot of money, so I hired a friend's son who worked cheaply. Don't get me wrong, he did a good job, it just wasn't professional. It's my favorite because Matt and I look so happy. Radiantly happy. It's my favorite because of the symbolism of the temple. And, it's my favorite because it is the photo Matt and I chose to tape in Sarah's incubator as she struggled for life.
The hospital encourages parents to place family photos in the incubators for the babies to be able to see their parents faces since most babies can't be, and aren't taken care of by their parents, but by highly skilled and compassionate nurses. I'm pretty sure the photo is more for the comfort of the parents than the babies, because most of the babies don't have much of an opportunity to be awake and aware of their surroundings. These are sick little souls who wear themselves out just fighting to survive each day. Sarah's nurses did like our photo, and several asked if we had gotten married in a castle. I wish I had the photo scanned so I could share it here, but for those who are not aware of how beautiful Manti is you can go here:
It does have a castle type of feel, and the questions gave us a chance to share our faith and why we felt so calm about Sarah's condition. she was our little missionary from day one.
One picture is worth a thousand words, and while I haven't reached that mark in this post, I could, and easily surpass that. Just the two stories attached to this picture that I have shared are the tip of an iceberg. I have to feel that those of us who are writers might have a common love for still photographs. Pictures can remind us, inspire us, and push us. It's a good thing.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Trip Memories

I've fallen behind on my blog writing, mostly because I needed a break. Everyone needs a break, and the posts I'm using to get back into things are appropriate. Part of my break was a mini-trip to Albany with Matt and Sarah. It was just the right amount of relaxing. The two topics are
How much of the world have you seen? And What was the best thing you ever saw on a trip?
I'm not sure what the percentage of the world that I've seen, especially since my travels outside of the United States are limited to Canada above Niagra Falls and a small trip in from Michigan, and two trips to Tiahuana, Mexico. So, all tourist attractions and not real experiences. I have seen and enjoyed a large portion of the U.S., first by living a bunch of places from the East Coast to the West Coast, and then also by vacations. Some vacations were road trips, where the trip was as much fun as the destination and stops for photo ops next to roadside attractions are expected. My favorite roadside picture is probably in Georgia, where I stopped next to a giant peanut with buck teeth for a photo. (For those unfamiliar with the reference, this was near the hometown of Jimmy Carter.)
My favorite spot was a relatively recent trip to Bear Mountain. The park itself was not open yet, so there weren't bus loads of tourists. It will be nice to go back when the lodge is open to hear more history, but the reason this is the best thing I've ever seen was because of the completeness of the scene. The hill and trees were green from an abundant spring rain. The air was fresh because we were far from the cities and interstates. The sun was waning, and finally setting as we left, but for the time we were there it brought light to our hike without forcing a sweat. A small stream highlighted scents of nature, both pleasant and not, but honest just the same. Canned "mountain stream" never smells like this. A few animals crossed our path, and we were able to see some in a small zoo kept on the premise. I don't know if anything could have improved the memory I have of that trip and that particular destination.