Saturday, April 30, 2016

Back to walking with the ladies

Judith and Barbara framed by the sun
Yes! This morning I went for a wonderful walk at Lake Padden with the Fairhaven walkers, my first time back in three weeks, since I hurt my knee. I intended to go around once (instead of twice the way we usually do) in hopes that I wouldn't be taxing my knee too badly, but after one time around, I was pleased to find that there was little to no pain. And now here it is a while later, and there is still no pain, so I am quite thrilled.

No, I won't be heading out on any nine- or ten-mile hikes with the Trailblazers quite yet, but I'm definitely on the mend. I'd call my knee 90% better. Then I headed to the Farmers' Market to have a piece of Sophie's rosemary and sea salt bread, toasted with butter and apricot jam. Now it's a nice rest on the schedule for the rest of the day.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A lovely day not hiking in the woods

Rhododendrons in bloom
Another day not hiking with the Trailblazers. My knee is SO much better, but I'm not willing to have a setback, or worse yet, need to be hauled out of the woods by my friends again. So I'm taking it slow. Plus today was a rather steep, hard hike that I didn't mind missing. I sure miss my friends, though, and hanging out with them for a day. This was Week Three and I suppose it'll be another couple of weeks before I feel safe. So I drove around and took pictures of the rhododendrons, Washington's state flower, which are in full bloom all around town.
Just beautiful out there today
Our hikes to the High Country might be starting soon, and I'll be there, hopefully, with my knee ready for heavy use. In any event, it's not easy to hold back when I think I'm doing well, but I'm learning the hard way.
Sophie taking her wares to the market
Speaking of the hard way, Sophie of Raven Breads hauls her entire Saturday's offerings to the Farmers' Market by bike and trailer. Somewhere on there she also has a toaster, which gets lots of use toasting up her dense fabulous breads for her customers. I partake almost every Saturday myself.

This Saturday I will make an attempt to walk with the ladies for the first time in three weeks, and I expect to do just fine. It will be a test for me of my readiness to resume my regularly scheduled activities.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Making peace with my name

I was supposed to be just "Jan"
Back when I was born, mothers were kept in the hospital for nine or ten days. As you can see from this little snippet from my birth certificate, I was born at Hanford Sanitarium in California, because my father was stationed at the time at an Air Force Base that didn't have its own maternity ward. As you can see from the time she spent in the hospital prior to my birth (two hours), she was obviously not ill.

But that's not the reason I took a picture of this. It's because of that first name, written in a different handwriting and short of stuck in. Well, that's because it was: my paternal grandmother, Dorothy, decided on her own that she would go into the hospital records and insert a proper first name on the birth certificate. Mama found out after the fact. As you can imagine, I was NEVER called "Dorothy" in the years when I was growing up.

She (the Dorothy in question) also never allowed us to call her anything but "Mommy," although she was actually only my father's mother. Didn't matter: this cheeky woman was very strong-willed and everyone did as she said. Here's a picture of her with her three sons.
Marlow, Mommy, my dad, and Jack
She also gave birth to a daughter, but I never met her. For some reason I was never able to know for sure, she disowned Edith long before I was around. And nobody was telling. But I decided a few decades ago to add the initial "D" to the beginning of my name, becoming "DJan," which is unique enough to make it easy for me to find myself on Google. Anyway, that's the story of how I became DJan, and now I'm quite fond of it. "Jan" is still nice, though, which is what my family has always called me.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Good news and more

Golden Chain tree in bloom
I took a picture of this tree while I was on my solo walk this morning! Yes, I walked more than two miles at a reasonable clip and felt little to no pain in my knee. It's getting better very quickly, at least to anybody else standing by watching. When I saw my fantastic doctor yesterday, Patrick, he listened carefully to my description of my knee woes and then twisted it this way and that. We discussed treatment options, but he was so positive and upbeat about the possibility of being back to normal in just a couple more weeks that I was ecstatic. He treated me like an athlete rather than a creaky old septuagenarian, and I thanked my lucky stars that he is my new doctor.

He told me he would send me to a specialist if I felt the need, but he suggested that I begin to try some walks and see how things go. Since it has not hurt that much lately, I went out this morning for that walk and enjoyed seeing how well I could do. By the end of the two miles, I could feel my knee but it still didn't hurt that much. I'm resting now, and for the rest of the day I'll spend time in the garden but otherwise take it easy. He suggested an MRI, but I told him I didn't think I could have one because of metal in my hip.

So, to find out the scoop on my old hip fracture situation, he ordered an x-ray of the pelvis. This morning I got the results from the radiologist and found that I could indeed have an MRI if necessary. She also noted that I have mild osteoarthritis in both hips, which surprised me since I don't seem to have any pain from them. Maybe it doesn't always hurt. I suspect that three decades of running contributed, not to mention more than 4,000 landings under my parachute, not always perfectly. But in general, I am pleased that I am doing so well!
Carol crossing a downed log with help
Several people sent me pictures of last Thursday's hike, and this one (from Bob) was my favorite. Apparently the windy winter caused lots of fallen trees on the Noisy Creek trail, some of them huge like this one, and there was nothing to do but crawl across, with lots of assistance from fellow hikers. Eleven Trailblazers enjoyed a ten-mile hike complete with adventures like these, and great views of Mt. Baker.
Would you eat one?
I finished my walk this morning with a visit to the Farmers' Market and saw this booth with "Jurassic Snacks." Yes, powdered crickets pressed into little cookies! I listened to the spiel and considered whether or not I'd have one, but I finally declined and took a picture instead, which I can share without having to ingest any insects. Maybe some day, but not today.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

My favorite garden store

Joe's Gardens
When I woke up this morning and tested out my knee, it felt pretty good. But not good enough to go to Noisy Creek with the Trailblazers. Although I don't know how many of them went, I suspect they had a good turnout, since the day was just about perfect for it. Here's the link to our 2013 hike, when it was perfect weather, too; in fact, I named the post "Noisy Creek was Fabulous." I am hoping they are having just as wonderful a day, and maybe somebody will send me some pictures. I won't be going to the gym tomorrow because I'll be heading to my doctor's office to talk about my knee and hope I can get a referral to a specialist.

Whatever. Today I spent going to the gym and riding the exercise bike and taking the strength and tone class, while I tried to avoid looking out the window at how beautiful it was outside. So in desperation to spend some time out there myself, I went to Joe's Gardens to get some flowers and some veggie starts.
An enormous selection of just about everything
Such a beautiful day! I sure hope they are having a good time without me. I went out to the garden and got a good start on my starts, so to speak. I put in gourmet and spicy salad starts, as well as something called "brokali," a hybrid broccoli and kale plant. I'm excited to see what it is.
The beginning of my 2016 garden
Here you can see what I've done so far. In the front are my strawberry transplants, and then after the three stones are the salad stuff, and behind them the brokali. I just got a call from John and he says if I come out to his farm right away, he'll cut me some fresh asparagus right out of his garden for dinner tonight! How can I turn that down? The garden will be waiting for me when I get back to it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

News from my corner of the world

Lilacs and sky in Bellingham today
I didn't write a post on my other blog on Sunday because I could actually hardly wrap my head around just a few words, I was so sick. Saturday morning everything seemed normal, with just a twinge of a tummy ache bothering me slightly. I wrote the previous post on here after I got home around 11:00am. Well, from that moment until early Monday morning I was so miserable all I could do is stay in bed and try to sleep. Chills and fever of 101F, headache and body aches, and worst of all, vomiting. I could keep nothing down for two days, including water. As of Sunday night, my fever had not broken when I went to sleep.

But when I woke Monday, it was all behind me. Fever gone, everything seeming normal except for residual weakness and a slight queasiness, which is still here on Tuesday. But I'm so much better it seems like roaring health by comparison. So I gave myself permission to go out into the beautiful warm sunny day and walk carefully to the bus stop. Once I got to the coffee shop, I didn't even want any coffee but I had a really nice half-strength latte anyway. It stayed down, I was fine, but working out didn't seem like a good idea, so I strolled around for awhile and headed back home.

What was really interesting is how much my knee improved after staying off it for two days. People had been telling me to take it easy and to stay off it. Now how do you do that unless you're flat on your back? Which I was, and it made a difference. I am walking much better but still injured. I've got a doctor's appointment on Friday, which I am looking forward to.

But there is something else that is very contagious. One of my blogging friends, Far Side of Fifty, wrote a post about spring cleaning, and I commented that I would only do it if I had a housekeeper. Well, not long after I wrote that, I had to find something from last summer and couldn't remember where I put it. After digging through drawers and pushing numerous dust bunnies aside, I caught the bug: I'm going to start with one room (the bedroom) and make a huge donation to the used clothing store, and organize my dresser drawers!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Last Thursday's hike and Fun with the Fuzz

Barb, Steve, Rich, Peggy, Carol, Al, Chris (taken by Renae)
Since I wasn't able to join the Trailblazers last week, Barb graciously sent me some pictures of the hike. Eight intrepid hikers met to go on a ten-mile-long slog through some serious mud and rain.
Negotiating mudholes
This hike up Olsen Creek is always brushy and hard to follow, but apparently the weather conditions and numerous blowdowns from the wind storms of the past winter made it even more difficult. Peggy sent me an email and said, "We all agreed that this trail might be one to let nature finally have back; it was pretty well grown over in spots and, of course, I felt guilty stepping on various types of wildflowers." Even with those conditions, I was sorry to miss it.
Two of the almost 1,500 participants in this morning's race
 Since I couldn't go out with the ladies this morning, I noticed on the way to the coffee shop that some streets were being blocked off, and I discovered that there would be a race called "Fun with the Fuzz" to benefit police officers who have fallen in the line of duty. It was only a few blocks from the coffee shop, so I convinced John to walk over there with me. "That's pretty far," he said, and I told him it was only four blocks, maybe five, and if I could walk it, he could, too. So off we went.
The starting line
We got there and it was a bit farther than I thought (8 blocks), but we both did just fine. There were lots of people with strollers and dogs on leashes, and everybody seemed to be in a good mood. To be eligible for the prizes, you had to be sure to cross over the orange line.
And they're off!
It's a fun 5K race (3.1 miles) and I asked John if he would be willing to walk it with me next year. He equivocated but said he'd think about it. I'm assuming I'll be back in shape by then. The weather was perfect for the runners: cool and crisp with no rain. This afternoon I'm going to the movies with Judy, so I figured I'd better get this posted before my sister begins to bug me about it.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What to write about today?

A shower of pink petals
No hike for me today. I also happened to notice that although it's after 3:00pm, the rain hasn't let up all day. This means my fellow hikers spent the day in their rain gear while I stayed dry. I would have traded places with them in a minute, though. And now I am casting about for topics to write about on Thursdays. This won't be the last hike I will miss, unfortunately.

No change in the knee. I have an appointment to see my primary care physician a week from tomorrow, and at that time I'm hoping enough time will have passed with no change that he will send me to a specialist. I feel confident I know what happened: while stepping down and lowering myself onto a steep rock (even with the help of my trekking poles), something snapped or tore or otherwise made my knee unusable in the medial area. It hasn't changed in a week, no better and no worse.
My pain is spelled out in the light green words
I found this picture online, although I don't remember where I got it from or I'd link it, and now I can't find it again. Anyway, I can still get around if I take stairs with one leg, both up and down, bringing the injured one along with a straight knee. Yep, Chester and I still walk the same. My limp is no less noticeable but when I inconveniently forget that I'm injured and try to hurry, I am immediately reminded.

Nevertheless, I walked the half mile to the bus stop and managed to do my gym routine. I couldn't actually use the rowing machine again today because my arms are really sore from yesterday's rowing activity! Instead I used the exercise bike and then attended the hour-long strength and tone class. I usually can't take it on Thursdays because, well, you know: I'm out hiking. (glum face)

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to find that nothing I did in yoga class hurt my knee at all. This is good news, and other than not being able to walk normally or navigate steps, I can pretty much carry out my regular routine. Everything takes longer, but at least I am not a complete invalid. (smile trying to take over glum face) I'll continue to stay as positive as I can and hope for the best.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The YMCA will keep me sane

The stationary bikes at the Y
Today I went to the Y for my usual 9-10:00am class of Strength and Tone, which was fine, no pain at all, but then again it's mostly upper body weight work. I rode this bicycle for fifteen minutes before class, also without pain, and asked my friend Carol (who was in the 9:00 class too) if she would take a couple of pictures of me using the gym. She was happy to do so. Behind this particular very comfy bike style, you can see the ones with the skinny little seats, which are nowhere near as pleasant to ride as these. There are six of this particular style and at least one is always in use. You can make it hard or easy to pedal, and since I'm trying to keep my knee happy, I'm using a lighter setting. I might work up to making it harder to pedal if my knee cooperates.
The rowing machine
Yesterday Al saw me on the bike and suggested I give the rowing machine a try, since it would not only burn more calories but also give me an upper body workout. So today I tried it, and I found that it doesn't hurt my knee at all to use it, and in no time at all I could feel myself begin to perspire. Yep, these kinds of machines are going to be my new pals to help me get through without my hikes and fast walks.

Tomorrow I'll be going to my first yoga class since I hurt my knee and hopefully I'll find that I can do most if not all of the poses without knee pain. I guess it's noticeable that I'm limping: I walked by a little boy of three or four with his mom today, and I could hear him telling his mom that he can walk like that, too. He stiffened up his little legs and marched alongside her.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Nursing my sore knee

Lilacs a month early
Well, the doctor visit on Thursday evening was almost useless. He took some x-rays and said nothing is broken (I already knew that), and suggested that I use the RICE method to heal up (that's Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). I've been here before a time or two and have done it all. There's little to no swelling, but pain right under the kneecap. I was hoping he'd refer me to a specialist, but he said that would the next step if it doesn't get better on its own.

I learned enough online to be able to diagnose what happened when I stepped down on my sore knee and it sort of gave out with rather excruciating pain. It was either the medial ligament (not likely) or the medial meniscus that tore, so for now I have figured out that if I keep it taped up and walk with a stiff leg, much like Chester in the old Gunsmoke series, it doesn't hurt. Chester was played by Dennis Weaver, and I have learned that he found it so hard to walk that way he had to take yoga lessons! My knee bends just fine without pain when I'm sitting and there's no weight on it. I can ride the exercise bike at the Y without pain, so I went there this morning to take the place of walking with the ladies on a sunny Saturday morning.
Our neighbor's apple tree is in bloom
I'm still going to attempt to get a minimum of 10,000 steps every day, even with this injury, but there's no doubt that I'll be unable to hike or do any fast walking for awhile. My stiff-legged walk is slow but gets me around, and if I try to hurry it up a little I'm reminded by a pain from my kneecap that I just can't do it. There's nothing to keep me out of the garden, though. I'll just take it easy and enjoy planting and watering it. So even though I'm down, I'm not out of commission. Just need to change things around a little and adjust my attitude.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A hike to remember

Ow! My knee!
Fourteen Senior Trailblazers met on a fabulous sunny day to drive the 45 minutes down to the trailhead on Fidalgo Island to hike on the Anacortes Community Forest Lands to both Sugarloaf and Mt. Erie. Some of the hikers got to cover around seven or eight miles, but not all of us.
Chris' new removable cast
First, the back story. Chris is thrilled with her new removable cast and managed admirably to navigate the ups and downs of this rabbit warren of trails that starts at Heart Lake and takes us first to Sugarloaf and then to the top of Mt. Erie.
Fawn lily
We saw fawn lilies in several places. We know that's what they are because of their purple and green leaves. They are lovely and only bloom for a short period, so I had to capture this one as best I could. Then we headed for the first of our destinations, Sugarloaf. The view is pretty spectacular, to say the least.
Linda gazing out at the view
Since it was after 11:00 by the time we got here, we stopped to have a quick snack before setting off for Mt. Erie. On the way back down, I had an event with my knee. A sore spot became an excruciating show stopper. Although I don't know yet what broke, something did. It started last week on the steep downhill but today it finally made it impossible for me to continue. That's somewhat of a problem when you're out there.
Making my way carefully to the road, with help
Although I could still walk, I couldn't bend my right knee much at all without pain, so everybody pitched in to get me to the road. (There's a road to the top of Mt. Erie, but we take the trails. Usually.) Once we got to the road, Steve said he would jog to the parking lot and get his car, and he and I (and Jacqueline, who stayed with me) would meet the others who would hike to the top while he came to get us and drive us to the top to join the others.
The trail where we waited for Steve
The two of us settled in and had our lunch while we waited for Steve. Plenty of cars went by, but no Steve. Although cellphone connection was spotty, Al managed to get through and found that we were still waiting, and then... here he comes. He had made a wrong turn to the parking lot and ended up going more than twice the distance he should have, and he jogged the entire way! A dog saw him and decided to make it even more difficult for him by taking a bite out of his leg. He kept going, picked us up, and by the time we were all joined together at the top of Mt. Erie, we redistributed the cars and started back down.
A Trailblazer conversation on top of Mt. Erie
Since Steve, Jacqueline and I had only just arrived, this is the only view I got from the top of Mt. Erie, but the others had been waiting for us for awhile, not knowing that Steve had been jogging for what was around seven miles to get to us when he did! The hikers headed back down to the cars, while Carol, Steve, Jacqueline and I got in Steve's car and made a beeline to the Senior Center. While driving, we imagined how we could make a movie out of today's adventure. We wouldn't have to exaggerate much to make it a good story, would we? (A case of rabies from the dog bite, the two waiting for him having contracted the Zika virus from mosquitos, and a car crash on the way home, maybe?)

Once we had cell coverage, I called my doctor and was able to snag an after-hours appointment tonight at 7:00pm, when someone can take a look at my knee. I suspect I will be missing some hikes, because although I can walk, it's only slowly and with care, and stairs are a serious problem. Any downhill causes pain. But we'll see what he says. In any event, it was definitely a hike to remember.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Garden news and a good egg

Krysta in the henbit
This past weekend, another sunny one, I found Krysta finally making some headway amongst her field of henbit dead nettle. She's a full-time nursing student and had to wait until she got a break to get started. Not long after this picture, though, we began to receive a fair amount of rain. In fact, it rained all Sunday night, most of Monday, and today (Tuesday) is off-and-on showers. However, once this patch is over with, we've got more nice weather on the way.
My garden plot as of today
And look at my wonderful area! It's all ready for planting. In the foreground are some strawberry plants I transplanted from the rear area (see that stool? it's in the part of my garden that still needs work, pulling weeds and clearing, basically).  Now it's time to head to Joe's Garden to find the starts I'll be putting in there. It's an exciting time of year for me.
The things I find in my refrigerator
And yesterday when I went to the fridge to make my breakfast, this good egg smiled at me, his eyes at half mast the way mine are before my latte. He was just too precious not to capture for posterity. And for my blog. Now I am going off to the local Home Depot for more garden supplies.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A day filled with springtime delights

Leo at the coffee shop this morning
I could get used to all this sunshine. Apparently it will stay around until tomorrow night, when we will get some rain, and then get sunny and warm again. Leo let me take this picture of him this morning, showing his new short haircut as he basked in the early morning sun.
The season's first asparagus
And yesterday morning at the coffee shop, John brought in some freshly picked asparagus from his garden, and we happily munched down these tasty treats. He said there will be more next week. I love asparagus in any form, even uncooked. So delicious!
In keeping with the signs of spring, I captured this picture of my first trillium of the season during our Thursday Mud Lake marathon. Look at the size of those leaves! No wonder they are called trillium, three leaves and three petals. They are also very fragile, as I have learned from this site. An excerpt:
While they are beautiful to look at they are also extremely fragile, and picking them seriously injures the plant by preventing the leaf-like bracts from producing food for the next year, often effectively killing the plant and ensuring none will grow in its place.
Our Saturday walk was also wonderful, and as it was the first day of the season for the Farmers' Market, I went there afterwards to enjoy some delicious Raven Bread. As I have mentioned before, the young baker has some of the best breads made from ancient grains I have ever tasted. I snagged this picture from her Facebook page. I bought some of this concoction that eventually became rye and spelt bread.
Sophie wresting with a HUGE batch of bread dough
So that's the news from my little corner of the universe on this wonderful Saturday. Now I'm heading out to the garden to start blending some mushroom compost into my soil. I hope you have a great day, too!