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Archive for January, 2008

Tuesday, January 29
11:07 p.m.

This evening I met up with co-workers at Andina for a farewell party for a colleague who is no longer working with us.  She’s a fun girl, my former fellow co-Eyetalian.  I do miss her and the old office shennanigans.  This evening we laughed so much my cough came back.  I still get some residual play from the cold I picked up a week ago.

I ordered quinoa and ham stuffed red peppers, a salad with hearts of palm and the fried yuca sticks – all gluten free. The group had ordered a number of cocktails and bottles of wine.  I had one glass of Cava.  After we ate, we went over to the Rogue brewery.  I had a rootbeer float -my coworkers teased me at first.  But it was wonderful!  I hadn’t had a rootbeer float in years.  Made me think of summer nights when I was in middle school and my dad would make us floats.  In fact, I always think of our screened-in porch and just hanging out with my family whenever I sip on a rootbeer float.

Shadow greeted me, happily, when I got home.  I am somewhat sad to have to find her a home.  I’m growing a bit attached.  It’s nice to see how happy she is to see me, even though I can’t even let her into my home.  She humbly accepts my small gifts – a dish of food and water in the morning and evening, a warm box filled with warm towels under a roof, preventing the cold wind and rain from getting anywhere near her.  She seems content.  She mews when I arrive, when I walk out to fill her dish, etc.  It’s very sweet and it’s pretty nice to know I am making a difference in her little life.  I haven’t been able to put up the “cute cat found” posters I made, but I will tomorrow.  I’m looking into some options in the event that an owner is found.  I know I keep writing the obvious, I want to find her a home.  But, I’m really focused on this!

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Monday, January 28
9:27 p.m.

I woke up to an icy parking lot.  It snowed last night.  Thankfully, Shadow was nestled in her little box, warm. 

So, this evening I saw an ad for a new show on NBC called “Lipstick Jungle“, starring Brooke Shields, which was created by the writers of “Sex & the City”, which follows the show “Cashmere Mafia“, which debuted about a month ago.  Ever since S&tC went off the air, it seems like every writer, producer and network is hell bent to recreate the phenomenon.  Which ain’t ever gonna happen.  Puh-leeze.  Most of us will be re-watching over and over the full seasons of S&tC on DVD instead, thank you v. much.  I found a great e-article on the subject.

Meantime, I am trying to acquire some artwork from a friend, a very talented painter.  I want authentic, real artwork on my walls.  She offered a great deal on two of her amazing paintings.  I have to figure out how to make it work.  I asked if I could pay a downpayment and then pay installments, like lay-away.  We’ll see.  I didn’t want to offend her, I just don’t have the cash upfront and would fare better paying it in installments.  At a time of near recession, and trying to pay off debit, I realize the ridiculousness in buying something frivilous like art.  But, is art really frivilous?  To me, it’s a real expression that’s timeless, haunting, thought-provoking, prolific, and so on.  I certainly don’t need art.  But it’s never about need.  More, it’s about appreciation, desire, contemplation, reverence, I don’t know, seeing something humbly created by a creative person who wants to make people feel.  It’s no different that my ambition as a writer.  What’s the point if no one opens up my book?  My purpose is to create something that will make others feel.  So, I tend to be attracted to the kinds of mediums that perpetuate this desire – paintings, sculpture, music, poetry, cinema, literary non-fiction, and so on.

So, like “Cashmere Mafia” and “Lipstick Jungle”, I want the original, S&tC, as I don’t want prints of artwork on my walls, I want the real deal, originals, paint on canvas.  Sometimes there are no substitues.

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Sunday, January 27
9:35 p.m.

I got up and quickly dressed for Church.  I put my writing stuff in a bag.  I fed my kitties – my two babies and our temporary outdoor tennant.  I had made signs to post in the surrounding neighborhoods – I will print them on Monday, post them immediately, and hopefully will hear from an owner who lost the poor kitty, waiting desperately for her return.  Meantime, I sent an email to friends hoping someone will know someone who will want to take in a kitty in the event that she doesn’t get claimed.  I am hopeful.

Off I went to church.  It was a nice Mass – the priest talked about Christ and his disciples walking around Galilee, and that it was a place like a crossroads – many different cultures were going in and out of Galilee, caravans of traders, journeymen, etc.  Christ and his disciples walked around the streets of Galilee as a  brotherhood, showing their united faith to all they’d pass by, radiating light and peace, smiling at people, helping out those in need.  The priest reminded us, as a united Parish, to go out to the streets of Portland and radiate our own lanterns of light – to smile at people, offer help when we can, demonstrate our faith in all that we do.  I loved his sermon.

When I left, I did my best to practice what I was instructed today.  I went to Blue Hour and sat at the bar for brunch.  The bartender was a nice guy originally from upstate New York, a Syracuse graduate and professional artist.  I worked on a couple of writing exercises from my The Way of Story book.  I ordered the French Press coffee, which is a special blend made for Blue Hour by Stumptown – my favorite coffee in the northwest.  I had the poached eggs on cooked spinach and portabello mushrooms with rosti potatoes and since I couldn’t do gluten, the bartender substituted with a fresh fruit plate of orange, grapefruit and apple.  I made a mistake, though, my eggs had hollandaise sauce, which has wheat (gluten) in it.  Within an hour I felt nauseaus and I was starting to get anxious.

I left Blue Hour and went up to Dosha to pick up a couple of Aveda products I needed.  Then, I left Portland and headed back toward Tigard.  I stopped by Bridgeport Village and went to Whole Foods.  In addition to a short list of things I needed, I grabbed a bag of Glutino’s gluten-free pretzels – never had their pretzels before.  I also bought some cat grass for them to snack on to aid in digestion.  I bought two lovely indoor house plants for my living room.  After, I drove up 99W/Pacific Highway toward a garden center to pick up a large copperish pot for one of my new plants. 

When I got home to unload all my groceries and things, Shadow met me and kept following me.  She’s very cute.  I wish I could find her owner (if she’s lost) or a new one.  She deserves a happy home and I’m working on it!  I brought up all my stuff, fed her and my kitties, and got to work inside.  I put stuff away, found the perfect place for my plants in my living room, by the fire place and patio door, and then vacuumed, while prepping for soup.  I was sweating!   

When I was upstairs, I noticed my tongue had a white film.  I know this to be a symptom of autoimmune disease.  Which, given my gluten intake today, I got anxious about.  I finally went online and looked up autoimmune diseases – which are more common with women than men – but they include MS, diabetes, Lupus, Graves and other thyroid diseases.  I panicked.  I was worried that I had a thyroid disease, or worse, MS; I was feeling like a hypochondriac.  I then opened a more reputable medical site and Celiac disease was one of the first autoimmune diseases listed.  I felt like a paranoid idiot.  While I knew that Celiac disease affected the immune system, it did not occur to me that Celiac was an autoimmune disease.  Duh.  I panicked for no reason.  Clearly, when the white tongue appears, it had been after times when I had gluten exposure.  I should have known better.  It’s actually been one of my first symptoms, only, idiot me didn’t put two and two together.  I did get sick today from the hollandaise.  I called my mom and confessed I haven’t been 100% on top of my gluten free diet.  While I’m about 95% on track at home, when I dine out, which is pretty often, I let it slide.  I eat a lot of sauces that I know I shouldn’t.  Part of me thinks it won’t kill me, so a little here and there won’t hurt.  But then, I get the symptoms and I’m immediately reminded why I need to stick to the diet.  It’s so hard.  I don’t expect sympathy, because there are a lot worse conditions I could have, but, it’s such a tough diet to follow.  I often feel remorseful for having what seems like so many restrictions.  After talking to my mom, I promise her and myself that I will do better with my diet.  I don’t need the extra stress and anxiety.

I think I’ve finally put my health anxieties to rest, though.  No more worrying over my congestion and “allergy” symptoms.  I started a journal for when I get congested, runny nose, sneezing and itchy/watery eyes.  So far, I have noticed symptoms peaking when I imbibe wine and coffee.  I wonder if I have a sensitivity to sulfites and caffeine?  Not the typical anxiety here, I’m just trying to figure out what the allergist did not so that I can cut out whatever I’m sensitive to. 

Time to relax.  I lit some candles and took in deep breaths.  It’s time to start changing my outlook, to stop feeling sick and dreary, and to focus on the good, to be healthy-minded, to eat mindfully, to make more of an effort at this crazy life.

I ate my soup and tried to relax.  I realize how important vitamins and supplements are to my diet.  I am going to start taking the pro-biotic religiously.  I will keep up with my Omega-3 intake, now by way of flax seed oil and lignon supplements.  I am taking a women’s one a day.  And I’m going to just try to do my best.

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Saturday, January 26

This evening I went to Andina to help my friends Erik and Carolyn celebrate Erik’s birthday.  We had a group of 15 in the privite dining room downstairs.  Their friends were celebrating another birthday and it soon became a toast to all January birthdays, so I got in on the celebratory action.  Dinner was amazing.  I started off with their Cava sparkling wine by the glass.  I had the special sopa del dia which was a gluten free bean soup with a cream and yellow pepper.  It was delicious.  I love that they have a gluten free menu – it’s very progressive.  I then ordered the Corderito de Los Andes – “a succulent double rack of grass-fed lamb, grilled medium-rare, and served with a Peruvian yellow potato  and two cheese timable”.  It was amazing – the lamb was super tender.   Our table ordered a few bottles of wine – I had a small glass of the Rioja Grenacha, which was a perfect pair with the lamb.  I had a chocolate mousse for desert and coffee.

Erik and Carolyn’s fellow birthday celebrator’s mother-in-law picked up the tab.  It was way too generous.  I’m trying to get her address so that I can send a proper thank you note. 

After dinner we went to Blitz, a bar in the Pearl that has pool tables, games and shuffleboard.  I drank tonic water with limes.  We played pool for about an hour before calling it a night.  It was very cold and rainy.  I dropped Erik and Carolyn off at the Hotel Monaco, where they were staying overnight.  I drove home.  Sure enough, Shadow got out of her little bed to see me.  I pet her then went inside and brought her some food and warm water.  I took another small towel and heated it in the microwave.  When she got back in the bed, I put the warm towel over her.  She seemed to like it.

It was late, so I got myself ready for bed.  I’m glad that I could celebrate with my friends – I spent Thanksgiving with them.  They feel like family – I really care about them.  It was a nice evening.

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Friday, January 25
9:46 p.m.

I was supposed to meet my friends at Park Kitchen tonight, but I pooped out.  I got home and Shadow was right there waiting for me.  I think she’s starting to get attached to me!  I must confess, I’m starting to get a little attached to her.  I now refer to her as my outdoor kitty.  I was happy to see that she’s been sleeping in her box.  She wanted me to pet her, so I did.  I went inside, washed my hands and filled her dishes.  Per usual, she happily ate.  Later, I looked out and she was snuggled in the makeshift bed.  I gave her one of my kitties’ extra toy mice. 

My sister emailed me a list of cat shelters in the area.   I am going to call the Cat Adoption Team (CAT) tomorrow morning to find out what I should do with Shadow.  If they tell me to bring her in, then I’ll try to get her in India’s travel bag and I’ll bring her over.  I loved the CAT website and I’m going to inquire about their volunteer opportunities.  I will miss seeing my new little friend, but I’ll feel much better knowing she’s out of the cold and on her way to a loving home.  This is a humane shelter that keeps cats alive until they find them new homes – no euthenizing.  That’s a relief to me.

I stressed about finances as I paid my current bills.  I complained on the phone to my sister, pointing out that our society benefitted married people and that if I were married my expenses would be cut in half and I’d be able to pay off my debt.  My poor sister gets to hear all of my random rants.  She mentioned that at least we would all receive a $600 rebate soon from the federal government (to stimulate the economy).  And, hey, some stranger handed me a Saturday Powerball ticket at the Portland Lumberjax game last night – which,  I know won’t amount to anything.  Still, you better believe I’m going online tomorrow to check and see if I won anything!

When I finished paying my bills, I could feel my chronic nonallergic rhinitis symptoms kicking in.  I tried to take deep breaths.  Seemed like a good idea to meditate.  Enlightenment creates balance and well being.  My indoor kitties, India and Capri, would get in on the action and curl up next to me while I’d light the incense, play the Tibetan healing music CD and take in the healing, calming breaths. 

My Yogi tea fortune read: A relaxed mind is a creative mind.  Which is true.  If I don’t relax I won’t be able to write well.  I need to keep things in check, exercise, meditate and just go with the flow. 

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Thursday, January 24
11:45 p.m.

Tonight, I drove straight to Urban Wineworks to meet Claudia.  We went over to her friend’s apartment, enjoyed a bottle of Zardetto Prosecco and headed out to the Portland Lumberjax Lacrosse game.  The Jax were playing the Colorado Mammoth; they were ahead during most of the game, but then lost by a devastating last minute goal in overtime.  It was an exciting game.

After, we went to Silk in the Pearl District for a quick bite to eat.  I had a bowl of the Pho soup and a glass of Pinot noir.

When I got home, Shadow was dutifully waiting at my door.  She tried to come into my apartment, which makes me so sad.  I filled her dish with food and put some warm water in the other dish.  She seemed happy.  I went right to bed, snuggling with India and Capri.

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Wednesday, January 23
10:10 p.m.

This morning I went to the Asthma Allergy Centre in Tigard.  I have been convinced that I have bad allergies, not to mention a deviated septum.  Today, I finally got some answers.  I had a scratch test done and there was absolutely no indication of any allergic reaction to the Oregon-focused allergens, as well as common household allergens.  I was perplexed.  What the heck is wrong with me?  The doctor looked into my nose and the left side was congested, the right side was perfectly clear.  She confirmed the left side had a deviated septum and she said the only way to correct it is to have surgery.  She gave me the name and number of a doctor in Portland who specializes in this procedure.  Looks like all of those hits to the nose in lacrosse may have actually done some real damage.

She also suggested I have chronic nonallergic rhinitis.  So weird.  I really think I am my father’s daughter after all.  He has celiac disease, I have it.  He has chronic nonallergic rhinitis (CNR) and a deviated septum, so do I.   CNR is a chronic inflammatory disease involving the nasal membranes.  Patients have symptoms of a runny nose, stuffy nose and sneezing, but mostly the nasal congestion.  Yup, those are my symptoms exactly.  Cold air, weather changes, and irritants, such as aerosol sprays, cigarette smoke, perfumes, detergents, solvents, cleaning agents and dusts may aggravate the nasal symptoms, which are usually chronic. 

CNR usually develops in adulthood, frequently after age 35 or 40.  A diagnosis is made when there are no allergies or sinus problem demonstrated to explain the symptoms.  The cause of CNR is not understood.  And this doesn’t explain my itchy, watery eyes, the crazy sneezing attacks I get.  Is it possible that the skin scratch tests miss other allergens out there?  Is it possible there are new allergens out there, new microscopic organisms out there that have yet to be discovered?

I was given a sample steroid nasal spray to use when I get really clogged, as well as eye drops for when my eyes get itchy.

I wonder if my facial lotion is part of the problem?  Or my make-up?  Who knows.  It’s so weird.  Meantime, I will make an appointment with the doctor to check out my deviated septum.  Hopefully that will help to clear my nasal passages to restore freer breathing.

Meantime, my little cat friend survived the night, the other night.  Only, this evening, when I got home from work she was under the bushes by my apartment.  I heard her mews and she appeared, looking up at me as if I were her mom.  She followed me up the stairs to my door on the second floor.  She waited as I went inside.  I could hear her mewing for me.  I filled a dish with cat food and one with water.  She was very pleased to have something to eat.  Two hours later, she was at my front door, hoping I’d let her in from the cold.  I felt terrible.  I tried to contact the humane society, but they don’t take in non-collared/ID’d animals.  I was heartbroken.  I don’t know if this fuzzy little friend is a stray or if she has a neglectful owner in my apartment complex.  I saw her at one point at the door below my apartment.  I took a smaller towel and heated it in the microwave and blanketed it over the fuller, thicker towel in the box outside of my door.  I had hoped she’d snuggle up in the box.  At 10:00, I looked out my front door and she was still sitting there.  This killed me.  Because I have two cats I love, I can’t let her into my apartment.  She clearly has mites and could very well have a number of diseases.  I am not willing to compromise their health.  So, I brought out another dish of food and hot water (not boiling) and re-heated the smaller towel, hoping the warmth would entice this kitty.  I think I should call her Shadow.  She comes out of nowhere and follows me up to my front door.  She, for some reason, picked me out of all the neighbors.  I feel it is my responsibility to look out for her.  I hope she can warm up in the box I set up for her, I hope she can stay warm and survive these cold nights.

Makes me want to open a shelter here for animals that get neglected or just need a warm place to stay during the crazy cold winter.  It should be open 24 hours, in the event that kind people come across these animals and want to help them.  I should look into this…

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