Monday, April 30, 2018

Our Three Year Konmari-versary 

Just about three years ago now I casually mentioned to a friend that I was going through one of our bookshelves and purging some books. JoLee mentioned the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I hadn't heard of it. Apparently I was in the middle of the wave of people who were using this method to clear the clutter, dismiss the debris and manhandle the messes in our lives.

I've read so much since about people either loving it or hating it. I mean really loving it, or really hating it. I'm in the camp of really loving it.

I tackled my clothes first, then moved on to general household stuff. That was so refreshing and successful, I went on to find what sparks joy in the kitchen. By then, I had convinced my husband that we would live through the process of tidying up his clothes. Wow, was that ever a game changer! Then it was time to subdue the garage. By then it was the middle of summer and it was hot and it was awful and we had guests and it was awful and can you tell I'm still a bit traumatized by the garage purge? But I will swear on a stack of wrenches and needle-nosed pliers that this method works and that the benefits last.

So where are we now, almost three years after the initial start? Pretty good I would say, but there are areas that still need help. Since I started a bit out of order, we never really gathered all our books in one place and went through them. The floorboards under that pile may need some reinforcing. I never did do anything amazing with all our photos, or really do a good job just keeping the best ones. But at least I got all the really dumb ones pulled out of albums and now I have a lovely spot in my closet for all my shoes that made the cut.

And try as we might, we just can't seem to get our paperwork under control. We have attempted various systems for dealing with incoming mail, something besides dumping it on the kitchen table, or the back of the car, or in some random place that makes no sense. We've tried different folders to keep track of what's paid on line, what is a physical bill, junk mail, really junky mail and mail that doesn't even deserve to be touched once. Every now and then I pile it all up on the floor and try to devise yet one more system that works for us. Paperwork is our nemesis.

But as for the rest of the house, it is joy all around. If I need something, even an ever so unusual screwdriver with the funkiest head ever, I just prance out to the screwdriver drawer (yes, I prance) and find it. Then I go out there when I'm done (no prancing, but still smiling) and put it away in its home. Our garage has gotten a wee bit more cluttered on the edges with random things, but nothing a good spring sweeping out day can't deal with. It worked. It really worked!

Three years later
We didn't clutter it up too much. 

The scene of the Great and Gruesome Garage Purge of 2015.
You would never know from looking.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

That Friday Between the Twelfth and the Fourteenth

Nothing bad happened last Friday, I'll start with that. It's all good. Great. Terrific.


Several weeks ago, our friends learned the date of their baby's heart procedure. It was set for Friday, April 13th. They asked us if their older son could sleep over the night before, and then we would take him to school the next day, because baby heart surgeries start early. We happily agreed, and I was thinking up some fun stuff we could do.

Then I remembered - that would be the morning I was to proctor the engineering exam at Cal Expo, and engineering proctoring jobs start early. Our friends found out and made other plans, because we all needed a good night's sleep. 

The day of the exam had my mind split between the duties of a proctor and the worries of a friend. As we processed the test takers and got the exam under way, my mind was at that hospital, hoping everything went well. During the four hour morning exam, I found myself taking a lot of "bathroom breaks" to go check my phone for baby updates. A hilarious video of the cutie pie on happy juice before the surgery had me laughing in the break room, all looked good so far.

A few more "bathroom breaks" brought no news. Then my phone rang, it was our friend Jason. Had I heard from Ernst? No, I hadn't, but the concern in his voice had me immediately worried. He calmly broke the news that my husband had passed out in the salon chair while getting his hair cut (Jason's mom Lynn cuts Ernst's hair.) At this point all I heard were the words 911, regained consciousnesses, ambulance, EMTs, hospital, and that Jason was headed down from Yuba City. They didn't know which hospital, but I was 99% sure it was Kaiser Morse, the one that's right by our house.

In swift, highly efficient, yet hand-shaking, voice-trembling actions, I told the director of the exam the situation, went back to the proctoring room to tell my supervisor, grabbed my purse and coffee mug and sweater and water bottle and ice chest and all the other things one brings to a 12-hour job and walked out to my car. One of the proctor directors kindly walked me to my vehicle, offering to drive me to the hospital. No, I would be fine, I wanted to be alone.

I was incredibly worried, and had a sinking feeling this was really bad. Really. Bad. All the other hospital visits and emergencies had been bad, but he had never passed out during them. I felt like Jason might be holding back information that only could be found out at the hospital, that this was more life-changing than all the other times.

I drove quickly, efficiently, mostly legally and only yelled at a few drivers, who admittedly cannot know that their choice to go the speed limit was compromising my last bit of sanity. Pretty much the whole way, which was maybe just 10-12 minutes, I chanted Please No, Please No, Please No. Halfway there, I was resigned to face whatever I had to face. I was fairly calm, and except for those annoying law-abiding drivers I was stuck behind, I arrived in pretty good shape.

Things changed when I got to the parking lot. No parking. I had just been there the day before for a hearing test, and walked over because the parking is so bad. I looked near the ER, nothing. I went a little further, nothing. So I went to the farthest lot from the ER and took a tight spot I would normally pass up. I walked as fast as I could in my proctoring shoes, which are made for walking not running, and tried to stay positive.

Then I saw it. A young man with his pants magically hovering below his derriere, with only a thin layer of cotton/poly underwear between him and the outside world. Normally this form of attire just puzzles me greatly, and makes me wonder about the future hip problems this fashion statement is creating, as these men/boys walk with their legs splayed out to keep their pants just at the perfect level right below their rearend cheeks. But something happens when my husband is having a health crisis, and although outwardly I may appear calm to the hospital staff, inwardly I am ready to bite the head off of anyone I see smoking or chowing down a bag of Cheese Doodles with Mountain Dew. Because I know how hard we try to be healthy, and sometimes it just doesn't seem fair at all. 

Anyway, Mr. Droopy Drawers got my blood boiling. What I wanted to do was go behind him, grab his belt loops, yank his pants up where they belong and say "That's how REAL men wear pants." But besides the fact that civilized people don't go around rearranging the clothing on strangers, he most likely had his own sad story to tell of who he was going to visit. He didn't need the fashion police making a citizen's arrest. 

Then I had to pass through the Kaiser Friday Morning Farmers Market. the one I never go to because the parking situation is so bad. Table after table of organic and healthy produce, normally something I would be salivating over. But instead of showing the kale some love, I was still in a sad/scared/shocked/slightly numb state of mind, and I wanted to scream "Fat lot of good all these vegetables did us, my husband just collapsed!" Just as I didn't pull up the pants of Mr. DD, I didn't yell at the fruit vendors. I guess I did have a shred of self-control left in me; I'm thanking the green smoothie I had that morning.

Finally I ran/walked my way to the ER and got the room number and name sticker, which I slapped on over my proctoring name sticker. Bed #13, how appropriate. I made my way through the sadness and sickness that is a busy emergency room, and reached the large area where Ernst was. He was sitting up in the bed, looking good, looking healthy, smiling when he saw me, saying "They weren't supposed to tell you." He was fine, a bit dehydrated, with very low blood pressure, but completely fine. I mentally apologized to the slow drivers, the man with his underwear showing and the good people at the farmers market.

It turns out he passed out, badly, in the salon chair for an unknown reason, and his blood pressure dropped a lot. In the ambulance when he was already feeling better it measured 78/60, which for him is incredibly low. His EKG was great, no stroke symptoms, everything checked out fine. It could have been a medication issue, that he was slightly dehydrated, and his sodium was on the low side. He will see his cardiologist for a follow up visit, but they said just go home and take it easy and all is good.

We got some encouraging visits from a few friends in the ER, which always warms the heart. And the news on the baby front? It was all good — our friends' little guy came through his heart surgery like a champ. It was a lovely day, Ernst got released from the ER and now what? Finish the day, that's what. He went back to get the rest of his hair cut, and I drove back to the engineering exam, following all traffic laws, smiling and waving to all the rule-abiding drivers. Not our typical Friday, but it all turned out and we'll take it. 

Jason! Bed #13!

Real men, wearing pants. 

911 Caller.

My 12 hour work day, with just a slight interruption. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

My 600 Pounds of Produce Life

It's been over 3 months since I decided to eat a raw vegan diet for a year, so that means I'm one fourth of the way thru. Here's a little update on how things are going.

Great, but it's killing our food budget! Typically we eat very pure and natural foods with a fair amount of organics. With me not eating the cheaper vegan staples like lentils, potatoes, rice and oatmeal, the cost of this little decision of mine is starting to add up. But I'm really loving the food pattern I've settled into, which is usually a big green smoothie in the morning, with either kale, spinach or Romaine as the green, and frozen bananas and either fresh or frozen fruit. The really lovely organic frozen fruit from Costco has been a budget saver. The cheapest part of the smoothie is the water. I add lots of water. 

Lunch and dinner are big salads, big. I'm so hooked on Kimberly Snyder's Dharma Salad, I'm wondering if I'll ever tire of it. It's so filling and addictive, and I'm changing it up with whatever bits and dabs of veggies that are hanging around. When I bought the container of dulse flakes, I wondered if it would end up in the What Was I Thinking section of the food pantry. But the first container is empty and it's time to get more. And now that Trader Joe's has nutritional yeast, that ingredient is easily accessible.

Have I eaten anything cooked? Yes I have. This isn't a religion, it's just a way of eating, and I have strayed from time to time. I had got myself completely off coffee with vegan "mylk" in the mornings. First I switched to black tea, then I was off caffeine completely. After a big party we had, I had a canister of leftover coffee and that got me back in the morning coffee habit. Way too much. Possibly a combo of the coffee overload, some grainy crackers and spring allergies has got my ears ringing with an annoying return of tinnitus. 

An interesting and weird effect of eating raw vegan is that some people's eyes change colors. Dramatically. But these are usually people who went from eating really poorly and had super bad digestion issues before they changed their diets. That wasn't me, we eat pretty stinking heathy and have for a long time. But last week I saw a friend who I hadn't seen in maybe four months. She looked at me closely, too closely, and said my eyes looked like they changed color. She said they looked clearer. Seriously?

I don't have very big eyes, so it's not like they are a big part of my photos. But I looked back at a closeup of my eyes from just last summer and then did a way too up close examination in front of some way too bright light in a way too magnifying mirror. Way too many wrinkles! But I think my friend might be right, they looked different than the older picture. Way too weird. The power of kale? In three months? That's eye opening. Hopefully clearer eyes are a good sign, so I'll keep on keeping on with this budget busting eating plan as planned.

Cuties in a salad are so yummy.

Dharma Salad, the new normal.

This was a cheat meal...

...but when a Moldovan makes a vegan meal just for us, we say Amen and chow down.

Another day, another Dharma Salad. 

A smoothie still life.

I have no words...except that it was organic.