26 November 2012

Sudden Hiatus, Explained

The past week has been a tumultuous one.  On Monday, I was laid off from my job with little to no hope of returning.  About a quarter of the company was laid off due to the extremely weak global market in our industry combined with pervasive mismanagement across the board.  Still, I valued and relied upon my job to support myself and provide a home for myself & my dogs (all three of us have chronic medical conditions).  It came as a shock that I was eliminated simply because I lacked seniority; I had expanded my job (which was extremely easy and only took a few hours of the day) to tracking all of our parts & raw materials orders for purchasing (which in addition to working with vendors involved working closely with the project manager & project engineers).  Basically they got two positions filled for the price of one.  If they truly intend to salvage and save the company with financial cost being the bottom line (and the reason so many were laid off), they would have been wise to keep such a hard-working and valuable employee.  Ah well... like I said, the company is badly run from stem to stern.

Okay, enough about that.

Wednesday was a deeply saddening day.  I wrote about Rusty, the older German shorthaired pointer that I would be fostering to determine the severity of his health and/or behaviour issues.  Thankfully once his very long nails were clipped he got around much better with only moderate osteo-arthritic stiffness.  However, upon examining his teeth I found that he was much older than the 9 years we were told when we rescued him last May.  I estimated his age to be anywhere from 12 to 16.  His back teeth were worn almost to the gumline and the front were ground down considerably so that he had a difficult time chewing dry food.  His most notable symptom was that he was easily disoriented and when confused would stand there and cry pitifully unless someone was there to talk to him & calm him down.  Even after spending several days with him (during which I was home most of the time), I don't believe he even recognized me; I was merely a reassuring presence when he became frightened and confused.  Because of the severity of his dementia we made the decision to have him humanely euthanized.  While that is always a heartbreaking decision to have to make, his quality of life was so poor that giving him a release from that constant suffering was the most compassionate gift I could give him.  RIP sweet Rusty.

The rest of my week was consumed with Thanksgiving and the weekend was mostly spent cleaning, reorganizing and decorating my home for Christmas (my favourite holiday).

Last night I went for a run with R. for the first time in a week.  I really surprised myself by running 10 minutes with only a 3 minute rest, then running a quick 7 minutes followed by a nice long cool down walk!  While I've given up the C25K program, I plan to still run twice a week (with R. or Gatsby or both) and then do yoga, Zumba, and bike around town the rest of the time.

16 November 2012

Foster Dog #21 - Meet Rusty!

I shall endeavor to type this post quickly, as I need to leave work in about 8 minutes to catch an earlier bus than usual home.

Around 7pm tonight I'll be getting another foster dog (yes, number 21!) named Rusty.  He's a 9 year old purebred German shorthaired pointer (of course) and is suffering from advanced Lyme disease.  He seems to be in pain and is having mobility issues.  His treatment will require vigorous treatment and even once he is feeling better, he may never be a very adoptable dog.  Even if that is the case, he will remain with my rescue (Arizona Bird Dog Rescue) and we will care for him for the remainder of his life.

Rusty stayed with us for a few days, post-rescue and I got some nice photos of him (and a cute one of him and Lola Lulu smiling).
Lola Lulu & Rusty

15 November 2012

A Bit O' This and That

It seems like all I write about lately is running (for better or worse).  This week hasn't been much of a week for cooking, being the final stretch before payday tomorrow.  My laptop's screen is fried, so I haven't been able to blog (or upload photos) at home.  I have gotten a lot of reading done, however.  Enough that I can almost justify buying myself another book tomorrow.  (I promised myself that I would read the books I have before I bought any more...)  Hopefully my laptop screen will be replaced this weekend (it's still under warranty) and I can resume blogging more or less "as normal."  It will be nice to include more posts about food, the dogs, and some of my great vintage finds over the past few months (especially Pyrex and glassware!).  If you'd like to see some cute pictures of my dogs, Lola Lulu started writing her own blog again.  You can read it here: Adventures with Lola Lulu

Either Friday night or Saturday morning I will be taking in a 9 year old overweight German shorthaired pointer named Rusty (who was rescued several months ago, with my beloved Lemons and another GSP, Bones).  He has advanced Lyme disease and will be mostly convalescent and on several medications (two antibiotics, anti-inflammatory pain pills, and glucosamine/chondroitin) for quite some time.  I don't know how long I will have him in my care;  hopefully he will be easy to have around my house for time being and can go to another foster home later.  He stayed with me for several days, post-rescue, and was a really sweet boy.  Currently he is having a lot of trouble standing and walking so we'll have to see if we can get him feeling better on the medical regimen that we're developing for him.  I hope that we can help him feel better even if he isn't a very adoptable dog and he might end up in the care of my rescue until it's his time to pass on.

To take a sharp left from that sad note, I may be taking a trip overseas after the holidays.  I am not going to say very much about it at this time, but I have never been abroad and it would be an amazing trip in many ways.  The only foreign country I've ever been to is Canada and when you grew up in Michigan, Ontario is pretty much exactly the same!  I am excited/anxious/nervous/delighted with the prospect all at once.  My mother is buying me a very nice set of houndstooth luggage for my upcoming 30th birthday (which is January 4th).
My "personalized" set of luggage will be the smaller bag here and a larger 29" suitcase, as well.
It is looking more and more like Thanksgiving may be just my dear friend S. and I (with R. stopping by after she spends most of the day with her parents) cooking, baking, and watching movies in our pajamas.  We still haven't worked out a complete menu yet, but I think this recipe (by Joanne of Eats Well With Others) is going to have to be a part of it.  I love (and by love, I mean LOVE) kale and S. makes the BEST roasted brussels sprouts.  The lemony vinaigrette will be a nice bright touch to the squash and greens.  Doesn't it look divine?!  Recipe here: Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Butternut Squash

Photo by Joanne Bruno of Eats Well With Others

14 November 2012

Running: Post-Plateau

Whew!  Not only did I survive last night's run but it really felt good.  Stretching before and after made a huge difference and I think instead of sticking to the C25K program to the letter, R. and I have decided it's more important to just keeping running, keep running longer, and keep improving our stamina.  If it takes us a little while longer, so be it.  Our goal was to become more healthy and fit, first and foremost, with the 5K giving us a tangible goal to keep us motivated.

Today is the first day in over a week that I don't feel sore or disillusioned about running in general.  I feel like I've overcome a hurdle and will be in good form for Thursday evening's run with R.!

In other news, don't weigh yourself after you just ate a big sandwich for lunch (even if it was only rye bread, mustard, pickles & veggies).  It's disheartening, to say the least.

13 November 2012

On the Brighter Side

Something I try to refrain from doing is going back and reading past posts (especially recent ones).  I tend to get a little extreme with over-editing and seeking unattainable perfection with my writing.  So instead, I've made a habit of writing as my thoughts and the words flow, doing a quick proofread and then flinging the words out into the world.

However... upon second glance, my last post (as much as I tried to still maintain a degree of hopefulness) sounds somewhat depressive.

To counterbalance that tone, I'd like to share some recent wholly positive recent developments.

Today for breakfast (and lunch!) I had two pieces of Magpie's "Mikey's" Lite-R pizza on a whole wheat crust with olive oil & garlic for sauce.  Each slice is only 172 calories and 4 grams of fat.  SERIOUSLY!

Yesterday I got another space heater (dogs count as space heaters when they are over 50 lbs., right?), which helps me gather a bit more courage to get out of bed in the morning.  Tile and wood laminate floors are COLD.  I really need to buy some slippers.  Preferably dust/dirt coloured ones that won't show the ever-present dust/dirt that results from: (a) living in a desert & (b) having very active dogs.

British Invasion Duchess of Pearl Princess Grey Black Tea by local Tucson tea purveyor Ausperitea has changed my life and has ruined most other tea blends for me, forevermore.  A traditional Earl Grey with the addition of lavender and rose buds/petals.  Faintly citrus and delightfully floral on a classic base of black tea.  Absolutely sublime.

Thanksgiving is a little over a week away and I still haven't sorted out what I'm going to be making/baking/what-have-you.  I can't let S. have all the fun!  One thing is for certain... I am going to be baking a "naked apple pie."  (As seen on the Snack Girl blog.)  Or maybe it will be a naked pear pie.  Either way, I'm baking a pie and it will be naked.  ...and yes, I am going to snicker about the pie's lack of attire.  Since I don't have any biological family in Tucson, the holiday will be spent with my friends-who-are-my-family.  Hooray!

I am almost done reading Michael Pollan's well-known literary pillar of food ethics, "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and can dig back into "Empires of Light" by Jill Jonnes (which is about Tesla, Westinghouse, and that jerk Edison).

Not-So-Cool Running

To be frank: the past week (Week Five) of C25K was the absolute worst.  I don't know if I've hit a sort of "running plateau" or if I'm progressing faster than my body can manage.  Every day the times increased, which was without question a challenge.  The first two days I completed the regimens (barely) and while I felt mentally happy to "finish" them, I felt physically awful and so sore that I've given up biking, walking the dogs, etc. because on running days I am too exhausted to do either and on rest days I am too sore to want to exert myself, knowing that I'll have a brutal run the following day and I want to be as ready/rested as possible.

I know part of my inability to finish the 20 minute run last weekend was because I didn't have enough fore-warning to use my inhaler in time, I felt rushed and didn't take the time to stretch beforehand, and it was MUCH colder than I'd anticipated.  I ran the first ten agonizing minutes, then stopped to stretch for 3 minutes, walk for 1 minute, then run for another 6 before I started feeling dizzy and asthmatic.

Truthfully, I do hope that last week was just an exceptionally hard week (I was getting over a cold, at the time) and that this week I finally feel "good" running again.  If not... I'm not sure that I want to risk injury but stubbornly pushing myself to finish the program (or at least finish it on time... stretching it out and using it as a guideline doesn't sound too awful).  I know that if I choose to run less often and increase my times more slowly that R. will be deeply disappointed.  I love running with her and I am so proud that we've come this far together, but at some point I have to balance the physical toll on my body with letting down one of my dearest friends.

I really, really hope that this week is a better one.

Today is only 8 min./5 min./8 min. with 3 min. rests in between.  After Sunday's disappointing run, this sounds a lot more pleasant... I hope I'm right!

08 November 2012

The Looming Gloom

5pm, outside my office.  :(

Tonight is Week Five/Day Two of C25K, which I am actually pretty excited about!  Aside from the weather and the fact that I packed a tank top to run in (and will probably freeze the first mile or so) tonight.  Ugh.

There is supposed to be a silver lining, right?  I'm looking...

In other news, my laptop screen is fried which means no viable internet at home aside from my not-that-smart-phone.  It should still be under warranty; I hope I can find the paperwork tonight (I got it right before I moved... which makes the chance of successfully locating it somewhat grim).

Before you think this really is a gloomy post, I have some good news to share!

My dog Lola Lulu starting writing her blog again!  I know, I know... ...I didn't even know she could spell!  But there you have it.  You can check it out here.

Well.... off I go, to run in the rain and hopefully not get shin splints or slip and fall on my ass in front of rush hour traffic.


'Tis the Season!

Now that Halloween has passed, it is finally time to gear up for my favourite holiday of all: Christmas!

Yes, I am aware that I'm skipping right past Thanksgiving but honestly I don't see much point in that holiday (other than the four day weekend and cooking/eating with my close friends).  I practice gratitude and mindfulness daily.  Shouldn't we take a moment, each day, to be thankful for the people, places, and dogs who enrich our lives?  Anyhow, Thanksgiving is pretty much just a potluck with friends and wine.

But Christmas?  I love Christmas.  The music, the decorations, the cooking and baking, the time spent with loved ones, and the whole festive spirit in general.  Yes, I celebrate Christmas in an entirely secular manner... but I don't love it any less for that.  This year I am excited to buy a second tree; my current tree is a silver one about two feet tall.  Last year the small tree was ideal to display on a table top, out of Gatsby & Lola's reach (in theory).  Aside from Lola repeatedly stealing the abalone shells I had put beneath the tree (they looked so pretty with the blue twinkle lights!) and chewing on them, the GSPs left the tree alone.

So... this year I will be getting a five or six foot tall artificial tree.  I have not yet decided if I will choose a matching silver tree or a contrasting green one.  This will be a serious test of the dogs willpower vs. curiosity vs. petty thievery.  Will they eat the tree?  Steal tinsel and/or ornaments?  Poke themselves in the eye on a branch?  I guess we'll find out!

Each year I buy myself an ornament to add to my collection.  Who says a single lady can't start her own holiday traditions?  This year, after scouring the internet for days, I found the perfect ornament for this year:

As many of you know, I lost my beloved English pointer "Lemons" to aggressive cancer (hemangiosarcoma) last month.  When I saw this ornament, I knew it was the one.  The profile looks so much like his and the craftsmanship is remarkable.  It will be bittersweet to hang this ornament high upon the tree.  I can think of no better tribute to one of the sweetest, most loving dogs I've ever met.

I had hoped he would live until the new year, but at least this way we can remember him the way he was before he really became sick: regal, stoic, gentle, warm, and so loved by everyone he met.

RIP Jack Lemon, aka "Lemons"
2002 - October 17th, 2012

07 November 2012

I Think I'm Hooked!

I just realized that I haven't written much about my journey from woman-trying-to-awkwardly-run to eventual-actual-runner.

Yesterday I ran Week Five/Day One of C25K which entailed three sets of five minute runs, with three minute rest periods in between.  As usual, the first day of a new week strikes fear into my heart when I check the training schedule.  The ramped up running times and rapidly diminishing rest/walking intermissions always seem like too much too soon.

However... yesterday wasn't nearly as rough as I imagined it would be.  While there are definitely days that I enjoy running more than others (and some days I don't want to do it at all), yesterday felt GREAT.  Absolutely great.  There have been only a couple of times since R. and I started C25K that I have so thoroughly enjoyed a run and enjoyed running in general.  I felt so happy and invigorated afterward.  It made last week's miserably toilsome run through Starr Pass worth it, just to get to this point (and to forge ahead!).  I can hardly believe we are over halfway to running a 5k!

Today is a rest day; my idea of "rest" is a 3 mile brisk bike ride to and from work.  Tomorrow and Saturday will finish up Week Five; Sunday is Zumba (which I am trying for the first time... I was too apprehensive to try it when we began running because I didn't think I had the stamina and has horrible visions of myself running out of class then crying outside the dance studio).  Then back to our usual Mon/Wed/Fri or Sat running schedule.  Only four more weeks!  WOW!  6 weeks til our first 5k and 8 weeks to our second!

Even though I should be resting today... I'm so tempted to take Gatsby out for a jog.  Maybe just a short one?  Before bedtime?  We shall see...

Daily Gratitude - 7 November, 2012

#1 - Today, I am happy to be an American.  We're an imperfect country, but we're moving in the right direction!

#2 - An apple empanada is a thing of beauty.  (Even if it isn't pumpkin as I'd hoped...)

#3 - I rode my bike to work in only 18 minutes!  (My fastest time ever!)

#4 - Porter and Gatsby are now playing!  He is the 3rd dog Gatsby has ever played with in the year or so I've had him.  He greets dogs politely, then ignores them & displays no interest in interacting.  Normally he only plays with Lola and if Lola is inside with me, Gatsby is outside digging holes in the yard.  He hasn't dug holes for a few days now!  (I can tell, because I recently filled them all in with a shovel.)

#5 - Also in Porter-related news, he slept in bed with Gatsby and me last night (his first night not sleeping in his crate) and was very good!  No "accidents" in the house and he slept through most of the night except for a few coughing fits (he still has kennel cough).
Gatsby & Porter

06 November 2012

Four Things I Love

#1 - My dogs

#2 - Beer

#3 - Mysteries

#4 - Politics

I swore that I was not going to watch the election coverage.  I was going to run with R. after work, then go home and relax with my dogs and perhaps have a beer or two.  All of these things are true and did happen.

Yet somehow, I found myself on Huffington Post's result page and hitting refresh about every 30 seconds.  The suspense is too delicious!  I remember the first time Obama was elected.  I lived in Chicago (on Broadway, in Uptown) and spent the night chain-smoking decadent rose infused cigarettes from Marshall & McGearty's.  Drinking to much wine, pacing around my loft, and kicking myself that I'd declined to go down to Grant Park (my friend has an extra ticket!) because the wait for the El or cabs afterward would be extreme.  (I'm kicking myself now, just thinking about the opportunity I passed up for such a silly reason!)  I remember the wave of joy that electrified a city that has stayed up late to await the results when the final announcement was made.

People, myself included, ran into the streets.  Crying, clapping our hands, yelling in joy, hugging neighbours we'd never met... I've never experienced anything like it.  Even the next day, taking the El downtown... the city felt different and surreal, like I'd woken up in a parallel city.

I wonder what tonight's results with have on my current city and on my country itself...

05 November 2012

Life Lessons From the Desert

#1 - When you have multiple dogs (and a yard that is devoid of grass or any plant life) a post-monsoon muddy yard (complete with muddy paw prints through out the house) are MUCH more preferable than the ever-present dust which seems to coat everything immediately after sweeping, mopping, dusting, and otherwise cleaning.  In summary: my yard is a dust bowl.  :(

#2 - If you have dry skin expect to use twice as much facial moisturizer and body lotion.

#3 - You might think that someone will seasonal plant-related allergies would find life in a desert less histamine inducing.  You would be very, very wrong.

#4 - The daytime high temperatures and the nighttime low temperatures can easily (and often are) be 40 degrees apart.  Shivering and bundled up in blankets with dogs as space heaters at midnight?  Check.  Tank tops, flip flops, and sweating after walking two blocks at midday?  Check.

#5 - Living in the city and seeing coyotes on a regular basis are not mutually exclusive.  Thankfully my dogs are larger than coyotes and seem pretty battle-ready if need be (although I sincerely hope that never happens).

02 November 2012

I Think I May Be In Love...

Just look at that face!

He is the newest rescue dog in the Arizona Bird Dog Rescue family.  For anyone who may be a new reader (hello and thank you!), I am the president and founder of Arizona Bird Dog Rescue which is a non-profit dog rescue whose dedicated volunteers, fosters, and transporters rescue homeless, sick, and needy German shorthaired pointers, English pointers, and English setters across Arizona and the Southwest.  As of tomorrow we've rescued 39 dogs since the rescue was founded on November 5th of 2011.

We've named him Porter, after the dark beer (which is one of my favourites).  He is beyond sweet and has a lovely temperament.  Tomorrow morning he will be meeting his potential foster family (who may adopt him if he gets along well with their female GSP) tomorrow morning.  Fingers crossed that the dogs get along and he heads down to Sonoita to fatten up so we can get him neutered, micro-chipped, and then find the family he belongs with.  

If so, I'll be heading to the pound to rescue another skinny, sweet GSP boy who I had tried to take into the rescue last February when the current owner stopped cooperating with us.  Today he showed up at our local animal control and the owner said he was "aggressive" which means immediate euthanization.  I volunteered at the Pima county shelter for over a year and everyone there knows me.  A good friend and employee called me at work, let me know the situation, and I was able to put a temporary hold on his euthanization until Monday morning.  Tomorrow afternoon I'll be heading down to the shelter to evaluate his temperament and most likely will be taking him home right then & there.

01 November 2012

A Coming Out, of Sorts

Recently I have written about my diagnosis of exercise induced (and allergy aggravated) asthma, which I am still learning to manage in conjunction with my fitness journey.

However, the medical diagnosis which has most affected every facet of my life and which I have never spoken or written about publicly is Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder.  I was first diagnosed around 15 years ago and struggled with it for many years afterward.  I have been re-diagnosed twice since then, most recently by my current psychiatrist (whom I only told I had "depression" but who properly diagnosed me anyway).

It's taken years for me to feel comfortable enough to write about my experiences, past and present, and in what ways my coping (and often lack thereof) have shaped my life.  I am currently on medication and along with meditation, healthy eating, avoiding excess of alcohol/caffeine (which I'm not always successful at...), and making exercise & physical fitness a priority, I am managing my Bipolar Disorder better than I ever have in my life.

Through my writing I hope to paint a different picture of what most people think of when they hear the words "Bipolar Disorder."  I don't feel like the stigma associated with mental illness is as pervasive as it once was, but it still persists.  I've been dumped by a boyfriend simply because I admitted to him that I have it; even though no incident had happened, he feared what "might happen" or what I "might do" someday.  And that was enough to send him packing.

If you would like to read more about what Bipolar Disorder really entails and about the various types, please read NIMH's page.  It's an excellent and detailed resource on the topic.

My name is Garnet Scarabin and I am a writer, a dog rescuer, an excellent cook, a vintage culture aficionado, a soon-to-be runner, a good friend, I hold down a good job, and I have Bipolar Disorder.

(I'm also lactose intolerant, but that's a lot less sensational.)

Smooth Sailing!

On Monday I was terrified of beginning Week Four in C25K.  I had skipped a day of training the week before and spent half the weekend recovering from a killer hangover (one of the many reasons I almost never go "out" on a Friday night).

But you know what?  WE DID IT.  The running parts doubled in time, the walking in-between parts decreased, and not only did we do it but we did two laps of our downtown course (two weeks ago we were doing one lap in 20 minutes) in 25-30 minutes if you count a few minutes of walking to cool down afterward.

Yesterday I biked a total of 10.5-11 miles, back and forth to work, the doctor's office (more about that later...), and the grocery store.  Not only was I not exhausted, but when I got home from the store at the end of the day... I felt tempted to go bike a couple more miles!  Crazy!! 

This week has marked a significant turning point in how I view and I how I feel about exercise.  Other than yoga, hiking, and dancing... I can't say that I've EVER enjoyed physical exercise.  I used to joke that the only time I'd run was if I was being chased.

I think those days are over.  I can definitely see how people can become addicted to running or biking!

Tonight I have another doctor's appointment (more later... yadda yadda...) and will be running Day Two of Week Four with Gatsby.  Friday night I'll be having another German shorthaired pointer boy stay over and he'll be meeting his potential foster family on Saturday morning.  Later that day R. and I will conclude Week Four; on Sunday we'll be doing the Scavenger Dash which is part race, part scavenger hunt, and part adventure with clues and puzzles to solve along the way.  Fun, right?  Exercise AND mystery solving.  What could be more up my alley than this?