Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Descending into a cold Grand Canyon

I got up this morning at five thirty to shuttle Chris and Steve up to the Grand Canyon to start their five day backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. It's cold this time of year, with at least a foot of snow on the rim, and the snow level reaching all the way down to below the redwall. Chris and Steve looked like they were ready though, with their crampons, gaitors, trekking poles and maybe a little too heavy packs.

I watched them walk away down the trail, more than a little jealous that they'd get to spend the next few days in the bottom of the canyon, one of my favorite places in the world.

I was happy to at least get to look over the rim for a little bit, especially as the sun came up.

My mom drove up with me, and we had a great breakfast at El Tovar lodge. It was so icy even right around the lodge that we didn't get to walk down into the canyon at all. The view was beautiful though, especially with the snow. Hopefully I'll make it down there sometime next year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas travelers or, the grapes of wrath

As we left Tucson for Amarillo this Christmas, we couldn't believe how much traffic was heading East on I-10. I know it was the Saturday before Christmas, but it was stop and go for a while, and when we stopped at the rest area in the Dragoons, it was packed with cars, almost all of them carrying tarped loads like the ones in the photos. All the spaces were full, so people were pulled along the side with their loads. The line for the bathroom was a half hour long. The tarped loads and trucks with their rear ends almot couhing the ground made it look like a modern day Grapes of Wrath style migration.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Baby Boy

We had our first (and only, maybe ever) ultrasound yesterday. We got these kind of neat images, and found out that Sesame is a boy!

At first we were a little surprised because we had really tried to convince ourselves that it would be a girl. But, it only took about a few hours to get used to the idea, and by today I'm feeling very excited about this tiny (8 oz.) boy whose feet measure about 2.7 cm long.

The reason I said it might be the last time we do this was that it turns out that one of my kidneys is in an unusual position. This has nothing to do with anything really, and is not a problem, they kindly told me AFTER about a half an hour of laying there listening to several different ultrasound techs look at the screen and say quietly (of course the two feet of air between them and me would muffle their voices so I wouldn't be able to hear right?) "Hm, that's not normal. Hm" If that's not cruel and ridiculously unprofessional, I don't know what is.

They kept me there, ignoring the fact that it was hurting my back, and the baby's movements made it pretty clear that it was not enjoying the scan, for about an hour and a half. They did several different tests, not giving me a choice, being that not only could I not hear, but was apparently not a human with rights or anything like that. Maybe it was liability. I think maybe even more likely they saw that I have (thankfully) good health insurance and wanted to exploit it. This is why health care is so expensive. They will undoubtedly be charging my insurance company hundreds of dollars for tests they performed against the will of an incredibly healthy young person.

I realize that at this point, if you are more fond of Western medicine than I am, you might be thinking that it was perfectly reasonable for them to do those tests, given the strange kidney. Okay, maybe. But here is what really inspired tears of rage as I walked out of the building: As they probed to look at the kidney, one ultrasound tech said to the other, "It looks like a double collection system." The other, apparently less experienced with looking at babies, but more experienced with looking at kidneys, said, "I don't think so. It looks normal other than the placement." the first woman tried to convince the second, but finally gave up before moving to the uterus. "Look at this," she said, "it looks like there's a septum in the uterus." "Where?" asked the other. "Right there, you can just barely see it." "I really don't see anything. It looks normal to me." Well, they had to call the doctor in by this point, and they still had not told me what the abnormality was.

The doctor was the only good part of the whole episode. A calm, reasonable woman, who unfortunately was a little reluctant to overrule the power-hungry ultrasound tech. She looked at the kidney, told me it was in an unusual spot, which probably did not matter at all, considering that in twenty-seven years I had never noticed. She looked at the uterus on the screen for a few minutes, with ultrasound tech #2 (the one who didn't see it in the first place) and said, "Well, it looks totally normal to me." #2 said, "I didn't see anything before." They had to ask the first woman to come back and show them the supposed septum. She was busy, so we waited. When she came back, the doctor was busy, so we waited some more. She tried for at least fifteen minutes to prove that there was a septum in the uterus. Despite the fact that this would worry me, would change my record considerably, and that the doctor and other ultrasound tech said it looked normal, this woman wanted to write in my chart that there was a septum in my uterus.

The doctor gently said a few times, "I don't really want to open a can of worms if it isn't necessary, but what do you think?" To the power-hungry-not-wanting-to-be-wrong ultrasound tech. Finally, so frustrated that I could barely contain myself, I said to the doctor, "If you don't see anything, I would really appreciate if you would not write that in my chart." They decided not to, but that did not stop the first woman from continuing to search for it, pretending to want to look at the "cute" baby (i.e. fuzzy black and white image on a TV screen).

The last thing, and I'm sorry to have gone on for so long, but it makes me feel a little better to share my indignation, was that as we were finally ready to get out of there, the woman said, "We're sorry to have worried you. That's what we do." ha ha ha. That's exactly the kind of stress that hospital staff should be placing on pregnant women, don't you think?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Chris!!

Today is Chris' 27th birthday. I'm excited because it means we're the same age again, and it's a great excuse to eat some sweets and celebrate. For his birthday we picked out a gore-tex type shell (jacket) that he's been needing for a while, but that we couldn't quite justify spending the money on until now. Not only because it's his birthday, but because he and Steve and Adam are planning to do a Grand Canyon backpacking trip over New Year's. It sounds to me like the best possible way to start a new year, since the Grand Canyon is one of my favorite places in the world, and backpacking one of my favorite activities. But I'll have to enjoy it through the photos, and the knowledge that Chris is going to enjoy this first trip down into the canyon with some great friends. Anyway, none of these photos are very new, but I wanted to post them anyway.
A day trip to see the sights outside Gunnison, CO.
A picknick beside Taylor reservoir, near Gunnison, CO.

Backpacking on the Long Trail, Vermont.
Waiting for a train in Spain with Steve and Tasha.
Happy Birthday Chris!!! I love you!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A visit with Dad

For the past week my dad has been in town visiting from Vermont. We had a really good time shopping at antique stores, and of course, at Saver's (every one in town). It was really great to see my dad and spend time with him. Also, he did a lot of work on our house, which was very much appreciated.

It was pretty amazing to see the things he could make in a short amount of time out of scrap wood lying around in our yard (which he also organized).

We also had a good time this weekend when two of my dad's best friends for the last 30 years who live in Snowflake now came down to hang out for the weekend. Vincent is Maya and Louisa's dad, and Larry is Aurora and Corona's dad. I grew up being great friends with all these girls, and being around these guys all the time. One of the things I really remember about my childhood, and still enjoy, is hearing the three of them play music together. My dad plays guitar. Vince plays either drums, guitar, or sometimes the mandolin, and Larry plays the accordian. If you haven't heard Larry play, you might not think an accordian is the kind of instrument to play reggae, rock, and every other genre of music you can think of, but you'd have to hear it. He's been playing for 55 years, and to listen to him is to be amazed.

Despite there being an amazingly full moon, it was pretty dark for photos, so they're a little blurry, but I think it shows some of the movement and energy maybe. The photo on the bottom reminds me of one that was taken about ten years ago and my (and Maya's) graduation from high school party. I wish I had that to compare, and well as maybe some from thirty years ago when they all first met.

The first night of playing, the band was called, "Cheeses Christ" and the second, "Disguise blue." My dad is great at thinking up the pun band names. One of my favorite of his ideas is "Loud Sue." I wish he didn't live so far away.

One more thing, tomorrow (which happens to be Chris' birthday) Chris and I are going in for our first ultrasound and I'm hoping to find out the sex of the baby. If we do, I'll be sure to let you know!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Farewell to Petri

My old cat Petri passed away yesterday.

Petri was always a playful cat who especially liked the little caps from bicycle tubes, and would chase them all over the house. Another favorite was a paper bag to sit inside, safe from the rest of the world, and pleasantly crinkly.

My dad and I couldn't figure out exactly when she was born, but we figured it was between 1995 and 96, which made her a very old kitty. She lived with me in several different houses in Flagstaff, in Cortez, CO, and Gunnison, CO, and all our houses here in Tucson. Recently she had been living with our friend Annetta, which made Petri quite happy since she was the only cat in the house for the first time in a few years.

She was terrified of the car, of new places, of dogs, and just about everything else except being at home. Petri also had the tiniest little kitten sounding meow you ever heard. I was really sad to see her go, and hope I took care of her as well as I should have. I'll miss her a lot.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thinking of Nana

My mom reminded me today that Nana (her mother) passed away on this day a year ago. She sent me a photo of an altar that she made to remember Nana. I wish I would have done something like this, but wanted to post the photo and remember her here.

One thing that always makes me think of Nana is antique knickknacks. My dad is here visiting this week, and he loves antiquing, so I've been discovering some very large antique malls that I had no idea were here. I was wandering through one of those places earlier today looking at antique dollhouse furniture. You know the kind that is so detailed that you can imagine tiny people living in the house that it furnishes? I kept thinking of Nana as I looked at the dolls, the little furniture, and the many antique things that remind me of her house, or of old dusty boxes full of treasures in her old barn. As much as I try not to be a person who keeps boxes and boxes of little things around forever, thinking of Nana and all her goodies today reminds me that I should hold on to a few things to show my grandchildren someday.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Making Pie

Last week when we visited the Subys, we ate some of Beth Suby's pies, an apple pie and a pear cranberry pie. They were so delicious that I decided it was time for me to try making an apple pie myself. I've make pumpkin pies before, but they seem so easy, I was intimidated by all those fruit pies, with juices bubbling and dripping onto the bottom of the oven. So, here is my first attempt at making a pie, apple cranberry.

The recipe I used can be found here. I followed the recipe mostly, sort of (I guess I take after my mom a little in this). The main things I did differently were that I only used 3/4 C of sugar in the apples because (don't laugh) I couldn't find the 'quick cooking tapioca' the recipe called for, so I mixed in about a cup of Kozy Shack tapioca pudding instead. It turned out really well I think. I would recommend it.

Another exciting thing about making this pie was that I discovered something that Chris is fast and efficient at in the kitchen -- peeling apples! Who would have thought. It took him hardly any time to peel seven apples.

The apples and cranberries mixed together looked so holiday-festive-exciting.

I decided that there was enough filling to make two pies (although if you were going for one of those really tall pies, I guess you would want to just make one).

On top there was a crumbly crust made out of butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and flour. The recipe says to brush the top with egg. Well, I'm no expert, but in my experience, when you try to brush something gooey onto something crumbly, you pick up the crumbly, and don't brush any of the gooey. I tried it on one, and unless you are an expert, I would skip this part.

It baked for about an hour, and then there it was, a tasty pie. It was much easier than I expected (although I have to confess, I used the roll-up pie crusts). I just couldn't handle that much experimentation in one project.

Just one more thing, not related to the pie, but it happened during the baking, so...
If you don't already love Chris (and I doubt there's anyone who reads this blog that fits that description), you just have to look at these photos.

Last night he filled up our MSR dromedary bag. It's a soft nylon bag that holds about four liters of water. So when it's full, it's soft and squishy, and probably weighs somewhere around ten pounds. Well, last week in Flagstaff we stopped by a fair-trade crafts booth downtown and found this very cool baby sling that we've been itching to try out. Chris thought, hm, maybe the sling would work with this dromedary bag...

He walked around patting it for probably five minutes.