Tuesday, March 31, 2009

You've Got a Question - I've Got an Answer

It's the last day of March - woohoo! - and I've decided to do things a bit backwards with this post and rather than ask you a question as is my norm, give you the chance to ask me a question that I will then answer in tomorrow's post. Surely there must be something out there you'd like to ask me, right? Or maybe there's something you'd like to ask Amanda? The only thing I ask is that you keep it clean as this is, after all, a family blog of sorts!

So - ask away and while you're doing that I'm going to grab the Nikon and head down to New London to see if I can find some decent photographic opportunities. Rumor has it that it's supposed to be a nice day!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Saturday Evening Out

After talking about it the better part of forever and having to change plans a time or two due to weather and unforseen illnesses, I was finally able to meet up again with Ralph of Airhead 55 and his lovely wife Patti of the Late Bloomer Boomer. Both are fellow Nutmeggers whom I have had the pleasure of getting together with the past.

The first time that I met Patti (or Princess Patti as she has been dubbed by Her Majesty Mimi, Queen of Memes) was exactly one year ago yesterday when she and I were invited to dine with Her Majesty at a local Bertucci's Brick Oven Pizzeria in Glastonbury. The Queen had deigned to fly north from Bloggingham Castle during her Spring break and Patti and I, mere commoners at the time, were granted a royal interview which ended up including plastic petunia posing, the assignment of royal titles, some definitely unroyal-like behavior, and a lot of giggling. Somehow, I don't think Bertucci's has been right ever since but we sure did have a good time!

Princess Patricia, Queen Mimi, Duchess Linda
The second time I got together with Princess Patti in August, she brought along an entourage which included Prince Ralph and Lady Allegra, and we made bloggers of our ourselves in a local Olive Garden!

Prince Ralph Lady A
This past Saturday's visit was again in my neck of the woods as Ralph and Patti made the drive from Ansonia (in the New Haven area for those slightly familiar with Connecticut) to Waterford where we met up at Charley's Eating & Drinking Saloon in the Crystal Mall. Charley's is a nice restaurant where the service is beyond exceptional and the staff couldn't be friendlier if they tried. Even if the food wasn't all that great - though it is - the staff alone makes a trip there more than worth it.

I knew that Patti had been feeling pretty pooped from a previous bout with the flu so I brought her a pretty potted purple pansy to perk her up as well as maybe a hint to Mother Nature to kick it up a notch and bring on Spring as we all agreed that we had had quite enough of winter - thank you - and some warm weather would be more than welcome!

Having sung the praises of Charley's clam chowdah in a bread bowl, I naturally ordered that for dinner and even though it was quite tasty, I have to admit that I have had better in the past. I'm not sure if they've changed their recipe or what but it seemed to be missing something - either that or my tastebuds suffer from the same problem as my memory which tends to be quite forgetful these days!

Following our main course (Patti also had the chowder while Ralph opted for a pulled pork sandwich), we had to order dessert of course as what good is dining out if one doesn't get dessert every once in awhile? Exactly!

I opted for the strawberry New York style cheesecake while Ralph and Patti decided to split one of the new desserts that the chef had created that morning. I believe it was a big Reese's peanut butter cup (or something very similar to it) topped with fresh whipped cream and a very large strawberry. Patti said that it was a little too sweet (I think peanut butter filling has a tendency to be that way) and would have preferred to have some vanilla ice cream on it but that the fresh whipped cream was a treat.

Conversation was lovely as we talked about the pursuits of our respective children, the sorry shape of our economy, the downfalls of Medicare and Medicaid (insurance quotes did not come up in the conversation!), and I got Patti up to speed with some of the bloggers that she hasn't had a chance to visit since being taken ill. This flu has really knocked her for a loop and it was easy to see that she wasn't quite feeling 100% as Princess Patti is usually pretty perky but she seemed pretty peaked instead and more than ready to go home and take a nap by the end of the evening. Methinks if she doesn't feel better soon she should get herself to a doctor as it's been several weeks since she was sick and I'd hate that it was more than just a passing flu that has worn her out.

In parting, I told Patti & Ralph that our next get-together would be in their part of the state as, from the posts I've seen on both of their blogs, it appears that there is quite a bit of history as well as some enchanting older buildings. Plus it's good for me to get to other parts of Connecticut and get to know the place I live that much better. I've had relatives in Connecticut since before there was a Connecticut and they didn't originate in this area of the state but more towards the Hartford/Southington area. A road trip sounds great - once the weather decides to cooperate! Whenever that may be ...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Scenery

Just enough time for a quick post today sandwiched in between yesterday's work shift, a nice evening out with Ralph and Patti - Blogging Royalty who came in from The Uplands for chowdah and conversation - and today's 16-hour dispatch bonanza.


For Lee's Sunday Scenery meme I chose this photo that I took a couple of Saturdays ago down by the Long Island Sound in New London. I was using a friend's borrowed telephoto lens to see how I liked it and even though I did, finances are such right now that buying one of my own is not really an option. I'm thinking that when I fly west next month, I may just rent a lens from one of the many places online that have them available. It's something I'm kicking around at any rate.

In the meantime, everyone have a great Sunday! It's going to be a chilly, drizzly, sorry-excuse-for-Spring day here in Connecticut but at least I'll be nice and dry watching chick flicks in between 911 calls and dreaming of warmer days to come. Soon, I hope!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

An Amanda Artwork Update

It's been quite some time since I've done a post about any of Amanda's artwork so I figured I should rectify that. Despite what I might think, she apparently does occasionally do something other than chat with her on-line friends and eat me out of house and home!

It's still her dream to someday become an illustrator and make her living as an artist but I don't think she's quite caught on to the fact that she's going to be a Senior next year and that she really needs to start getting a portfolio together as any art school she applies to is going to want one. It's that whole "I'm a kid, I've got plenty of time" thing going on with her.

At any rate, she's been playing around with watercolors lately and trying to perfect her style in that medium. The first picture is the line drawing for what would become the final product in the second picture.

You'd never know that she has become a major fan of the band "Creature Feature from looking at these pictures, would you? Ah well, I guess the kid's got to get her inspiration from somewhere and now you can see why she doesn't mind walks in the cemetery with me at all! I'd just rather not have the whole monster vine and hand coming out of the ground experience though! I wouldn't mind a moon like that one, though, maybe I could finally get a good picture if there was one that big and that close!

This last picture is the line drawing for her next watercolor attempt; which is based on Creature Feature's song "Greatest Show Unearthed" hence the creepy looking sideshow barker and the dancing skeletons in the amusement park. Amanda was pretty happy with the way the skeletons turned out as it does rather look like they're dancing in a macabre sort of way which was her intent.

Once she gets the watercolor done on the second picture I will post an update along with the latest two plushies that she recently finished who are based on the singers in Creature Feature - Curtis RX and Erik X. Now if I could just get her to finish cleaning her room and get her stuff put away! Maybe she needs a few dancing skeletons to help her out??

Friday, March 27, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday

For Tisha's Looking at the Sky meme this Friday, I chose a photo that I took the other night while I was out walking along scary railroad bridges and hoping that no hobos jumped out from underneath like the troll in the Three Billy Goats Gruff! For all who left comments (yes, Sarah, I have read Pet Sematary and you're right, a gun works much better than pepper spray!) and told me to bring Amanda with me next time , I've already put the kid on notice that she will be accompanying me on all further walks in the woods just in case I need someone to call 911 while I beat off a rabid squirrel or something!

At any rate, here's my entry for this week's meme -

As I was walking back over the railroad bridge I just barely managed to capture a shot of three ducks taking off from the Yantic River and into the clear blue sky with nary a cloud in sight. Personally I rather like the silhouetted affect of the black against the blue, what do you think?

For other pictures of the sky that you're sure to like, don't forget to swing by Tisha's and check out the linkies!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Getting By With a Little Help From Her Friends

Since leaving behind police & fire dispatching and becoming an ambulance dispatcher almost six years ago, I have met some truly fantastic people. I'd like to introduce you to one of them today ...

To meet Kirsten Frostad, you would think you were meeting a 23-year old with a beautiful smile, sunny personality, and not a care in the world beyond those of every other 23-year old in the world – student loans, plans for the future, and what to do with friends on Saturday night.

Kirsten, however, is not your ordinary 23-year old. She’s a 23-year old who has been diagnosed with Stage Four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with the rarest subtype of Hodgkin’s known. As a matter of fact, her type is so rare; doctors still aren’t sure what type of cancer has invaded her bone marrow.

A 2003 graduate of Wheeler High School in North Stonington, Kirsten went on to graduate with honors from the University of Connecticut in 2007 majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Her plans were to continue her education as a Physician’s Assistant specializing in oncology at George Washington University . In the meantime, Kirsten began employment at American Ambulance Service, Inc in June of 2008 as an Emergency Medical Technician; a job that was perfect for her as it gave her the chance to help others while saving up for her continuing education.

Her plans and her full-time job came to a halt in October after a swollen lymph node under her arm was biopsied and came back malignant. Following a month and a half of testing, her diagnosis was made and it wasn’t a pleasant one. Kirsten had cancer in her lymph nodes and bone marrow both and it was at Stage 4 – an advanced form of cancer. For someone who wasn’t feeling bad at all, it was an unthinkable diagnosis but reality soon set in when Kirsten went in for her first chemo treatment.

On December 10th, the first round of the powerful drugs that would eradicate the cancer began coursing their way through Kirsten’s system; drugs that left her weak and sick and feeling worse than she ever thought possible. Just a mere two weeks later, on Christmas Day, Kirsten’s hair began to fall out – a fact that she shared with her friends on Facebook and tried to make light of as much as possible.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was more to worry about than just the cancer that had invaded her body. Kirsten was obviously unable to work and her health insurance capped out and was canceled leaving her with over $20,000 in accumulated medical bills from the diagnosis and testing alone – never mind the next five rounds of chemo; the trips to Yale-New Haven Hospital to consult with the cancer specialist there in addition to the oncologist she sees in Norwich, and other living expenses which include unpaid student loans from her four years at the University of Connecticut.

On January 14th, Kirsten was finally able to return to work for a single shift at American Ambulance sporting a cute blonde wig courtesy of the American Cancer Society. Her co-workers were very happy to see her back but some weren’t sure how to approach her as there were rumors that she had been given a prognosis of only six months. Kirsten assured her co-workers that was not the case – that she had a six-month chemo schedule to start with – but that there was no horrible prognosis given.

If you ask Kirsten, she’ll tell you that her prognosis is excellent and she is going to beat this thing no matter what it takes. If she can beat it by dint of will and attitude alone, then her cancer doesn’t stand a chance as Kirsten has one of the most positive and upbeat attitudes ever. There is no feeling sorry for herself, no sitting in the corner and crying “why me?”, and no flagging of spirit in spite of not knowing what sort of cancer has invaded her bone marrow. She is an inspiration to everyone who meets her and rightly so.

Unfortunately, Kirsten is also fast going broke as she’s only able to work one eight or ten hour shift every three weeks due to a chemo schedule that makes it hard to work any more hours than that. By the time she’s starting to feel better and able to work, it’s time for another round of chemicals and then she’s down for the count again for another week or two. It’s a tough cycle – especially for someone who is normally so vibrant and active and would much rather spend her time taking care of others rather than having others take care of her.

A fundraiser for Kirsten has been planned by her sister and other friends for April 11th in the hopes that enough people will be able to join together to help alleviate some of Kirsten’s financial worries and make the difficult time that she’s going through perhaps a tiny bit easier. Money is not something that she should have to worry about at this point – getting well and beating the cancer should be her only concern.

If you live in the local area and want to attend Kirsten’s fundraiser, the spaghetti dinner will be held at the Pawcatuck VFW from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will include music by the band Double-Fisted as well as a raffle. If you can’t make it to the fundraiser but would still like to contribute a little bit to help Kirsten out, please feel free to click on the PayPal button below and make a donation. If you have any questions, please send them to for.kikii@gmail.com and someone will get right back to you.

Even though she hasn't asked for any of this help, I have no doubt that Kirsten will appreciate every single penny given as each one helps to lift the weight of the burdens that cancer has been placed on her way-too-young shoulders. Thank you!

To help us help Kirsten, click here -





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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Making More Tracks Along the Yantic River

Even though it wasn't as warm as I would have liked it to be yesterday, it beat Monday's cold wind and temperatures by a mile so after spending most of the day puttering around in the house and doing things like baking a cake - a slice of which is pictured to the left for those of you who requested photographic proof! - I decided to throw on a couple of layers, grab my camera, and head out into the chilly but beautiful blue evening air.
I actually did have a goal in mind ... last week while Amanda and I were walking around the Yantic Cemetery, I caught a glimpse of a railroad bridge over the river that runs behind the cemetery. When the leaves are out, you can't see it and would never know it was there but with still no leaves to speak of (but there are buds a'plenty!) I saw not only the bridge but a place I could park and then hike in a bit to gain access to the bridge.
This was my target for the evening ... not much as far as bridges go but it looked like a good spot to take some pictures. It was kind of quiet and a tad bit creepy out there in the woods by myself and I kind of wished I had brought Amanda with me but I hadn't so I was just going to have to press on by myself. After all, just because I was in the woods behind the cemetery way off the beaten path didn't mean I needed to be a wimp!
This is the Yantic River as seen from the top of the railroad bridge and looking east. I'm not sure how deep the water is here and wasn't in any great hurry to find out so I was really careful walking over the bridge.
I don't know what it is about me and railroad tracks lately - I must be channeling my Grandpa Joe who was my Dad's father and a big wheel at the railroad out in Kansas back in his day. I don't remember which railroad he worked for (I'll have to ask my Uncle Alton) but I do remember him taking us for a ride in an engine one time when we were out there visiting. My mother's father was always a big fan of railroads, too, so I guess I must come by it naturally!
I was feeling adventerous and even climbed down underneath the bridge to take a picture or two. Of course, once I climbed down there, I was wondering whether I was going to be able to climb back up or not but I managed without slipping even once!
Down a little ways from the bridge on the other side of the river is a big ole pile of railroad ties ...
... I can only imagine how many snakes and rats and other things are living in there amongst all the leaves and debris. Ugh! I wonder how long they've been sitting there? I'm not quite sure what those pieces of metal are that look like an 'S' are on the ends of some of the railroad ties. Anyone know?
On the other side of this railroad tunnel is the Upper Yantic Falls that I've posted pictures of at least several times. This was the first time I'd seen the tunnel from this side but underneath looked just as muddy as it does from the other side!
I thought this picture was kind of cool because you can see the setting sun shining in the trees on the other side of the tunnel. I was really kind of hoping a train might come through while I was there but alas - no such luck!
I took this shot of the trees reflected in the Yantic River while crossing back over the railroad bridge. If you were to climb up the hill where those trees are, you'd find yourself in the back part of the Yantic Cemetery as the trees that are reflected in the water all border the back edge of the cemetery.
Finally, this shot shows the tracks as they continue to make their way east along the river towards the village of Yantic, which is part of Norwich. There are a couple more railroad bridges up that way so chances are real good you'll be seeing pictures of them sometime, too! With any luck, there might actually be some greenery in the pictures rather than just bare branches!
I hope you enjoyed another Tuesday evening walk around part of Norwich with me. As the weather gets better, I'm hoping to get out to take more walks so perhaps this will become a regular Wednesday feature - in which case, I'll have to think of a good name for it! Any suggestions??

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday Tidbits

Norwich Sunrise

It's really too bad that I'm not a morning person as there are sometimes some very lovely sunrises here in the Rose City. Unless I need to be up for work though, I sleep right through them!

Speaking of being up for work, I'm such a dope that I almost forgot that I signed up to work overtime this coming Saturday to cover for another dispatcher who will be on vacation. Good thing my memory isn't shot completely or I would have been getting a call really early Saturday morning asking where I was!

Also this Saturday, I'm hoping to get together with a blogging friend and her blogging husband at a local eatery for some really good clam chowder in a bread bowl. We had planned on going a couple Saturdays ago but she was recovering from a nasty cold/flu and I wasn't feeling so hot myself.

My ortho doctor's office called yesterday to let me know when the MRI on my back is scheduled for but of course it's when I have to work so I'll be calling them today to get that changed to a different time. Who goes for an MRI on a Friday evening anyway?

I believe I am going to try to extend the time that I will be out in California in May by a couple extra days. I'm currently only going to be there from Saturday afternoon to early Tuesday morning but that doesn't seem like enough time to visit the people I want to visit, see the places I want to see, and eat all the Mexican food I want to eat. After all, Lord only knows if/when I will get back out there again.

I was debating whether or not I should cancel my mini-break to Block Island I have scheduled for June what with the trip to California now happening. Selfishly I don't really want to as I was really looking forward to a few days alone in a bed & breakfast on a beautiful island but I guess it's something I should think about.

I'm pretty sure that Winter did not get the memo that it's time to go now that Spring has arrived being that yesterday felt more like a late January day than a late March day. Granted, there was a beautiful blue sky but the wind was blowing like a banshee and it was cold! When I left work at 11:00 p.m. the sign at Walgreen's read 26 degrees. Brrrr!

Today is going to be a putter around the house and try to get some organizing done kind of day but maybe I'll take the time to bake a pie or a cake; it's been awhile since I've baked anything but a dessert sounds good!

Amanda has been working on a couple new plushie dolls but they're quite different from the ones she has made previously. I'll have to post some pictures soon to let you see.

Hope everyone has a great Tuesday and that it's more Spring-like wherever you may be! If you've got any spare warm weather floating around, feel free to send it my way!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tragedy Strikes in Oakland, California Over the Weekend

Some of you may have noticed that I have not been doing Line of Duty Death posts for law enforcement officers this year - most of you may not. I did the posts all during last year to honor those officers who gave their all for their communities as well as to bring attention to the fact that good men and women were being killed right here in our own backyards simply doing the jobs whose oaths they took. The problem though was that with 140 officers becoming statistics last year, I have to admit that it got to be kind of depressing and I decided not to write the posts this year.

Just because I'm not writing the posts, though, doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention and no longer get the emails advising me every time there is a Line of a Duty Death. I have and I do and I say a prayer for each officer and his or her family every time I get one. Not writing about it doesn't make it go away as brave men and women are still losing their lives way too frequently fighting the battle against crime right here in America.

As I was watching the news at work Sunday morning, my heart skipped a beat when a story came on about three law enforcement officers in California who were killed Saturday with a fourth barely hanging on. Naturally the lead-in didn't say where in California and I think I held my breath until it was revealed that the shootings had occurred in Oakland - which is still way too close to Stockton for my liking. As a lot of you know, there are people I know in Stockton who are in law enforcement that I still worry about and Stockton isn't exactly one of those places where crime is on the decrease. Unfortunately.

Saturday's shootings were among the deadliest in California history and began when two motorcycle officers attempted to pull over a 1995 Buick on a routine traffic stop at approximately 1:00 p.m. near the Eastmont Town Center in East Oakland. The operator of the vehicle, a parolee who was wanted on a no-bail arrest warrant for violating parole on a previous assault with a deadly weapon conviction, opened fire on the two officers killing one and gravely wounding another.

Following the shooting of the motorcycle officers, the 27-year old suspect fled on foot and a massive manhunt ensued conducted by members of the Oakland Police Department, the Alameda Sheriff's Department, and the California Highway Patrol. The suspect was located approximately two hours later after a tip led officers to an apartment building just blocks away from a police substation in East Oakland. As heavily armed SWAT Team Members descended upon the apartment to take the suspect into custody, two more police officers were shot dead inside the apartment with an assault weapon.

A fifth officer, whom police did not identify, was grazed by a bullet; he was treated and later released from a local hospital. The gunman was also killed in the shoot-out that was described by some as a "Wild West" scene.

Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan identified the slain officers as: Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, of Tracy, who was killed during the traffic stop; and Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, of Danville, and Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35, of Castro Valley, both members of the SWAT Team that were killed at the apartment where the gunman was holed up. Dunakin was with the department since 1991, Romans since 1996 and Sakai since 2000.

A police spokesman said a fourth officer, 41-year-old Officer John Hege of Concord, was pronounced brain dead but was still on life support Sunday afternoon pending organ donation arrangements. Officer Hege, shot during the course of the first traffic stop, had been with the Oakland Police Department since 1999.

"This is probably one of the worst incidents that has ever taken place in the history of the Oakland police department," said Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason. The deaths of officers are nothing new in Oakland, though; the memorial wall in the Oakland Police headquarters shows that at least 47 officers died before Saturday with the last officer killed in Oakland in 2004 when William Seuis, 39, died in a hit-and-run crash. The department has been in operation since 1867.

Tension between the police and citizens has been running high since the shooting death of a 22-year old unarmed man in January by a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer at an Oakland train station. A preliminary hearing was set for today for the former officer who has pleaded not guilty to murder charges but has been delayed to May 18th due to the weekend's shooting deaths.

Tension aside, this weekend was horribly tragic for not only the families of the slain officers but also for their fellow officers from all over the State and for the citizens of Oakland themselves who find themselves living in a pressure cooker.

"In these moments, words are extraordinarily inadequate," Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums told reporters at a news conference Saturday night at Oakland police headquarters. "We come together in shock, in grief, in sadness and sorrow. Our hearts go out to the officers' families who are experiencing a level of tragedy that goes beyond our ability to comprehend."

"These folks leave their homes in the morning, with every expectation of returning," Dellums said, "but they did not." And they never will again.

My heart goes out to the families, friends, and colleagues of these four brave men who gave their all to the City of Oakland and the people they swore to protect and serve.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Scenery

This week for Lee's Sunday Scenery meme, I am posting more pictures of the Yantic Falls from my archives as I thought they might be nice to have something to compare to in a couple of weeks when Spring has finally popped here in my part of Connecticut and leaves once again hide the bare branches and birdsong fills the air. For now, Spring seems like it's just a name as it's been darned chilly the past few days no matter what the calendar says. Ah well, I just need to learn some patience!

Over the falls

Buds & the Falls

Give me a few weeks and I'll go back and see if I can take these same shots. I bet you notice a major difference!

Everyone have a great Sunday and may all of your scenery be beautiful!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Survey Says!

While visiting Autmumn's Meadow the other day, I came across this fun little game that Patty had and thought it would be nice to do for a quick post. Considering I am off to work at the other job for 12 hours today, this seemed like a good day for a quick post so let's play Family Feud - the Blog Version!

If you want to play along, copy and paste the questions to a new post, erase my answers, and fill in your answers. Just remember, you can't use any of the answers I've already given or you'll hear a loud annoying buzzer go off in your head! If you want to pass the game along, tag 5 of your friends and don't forget to send it back to me. Remember, you can't use the same answer as the person who sent it to you. Also bear in mind, if my answers are dumb, it's because the person before me had the good ones and I was stuck scrambling around for reasonable substitutes!

1. Name something you use in the shower. Shampoo

2. Name a product for men. Barbasol Shaving Cream

3. Name something people hate to find on their windshields. Bug guts

4. Name something a man might buy before a date. Earplugs (ok, ok, I haven't dated in a very, very long time obviously, it's all I could think of!)

5. What is another word for blemish. Zit

6. Something you cook in the microwave. Hot Pockets

7. Name a piece of furniture people need help moving. Piano

8 Name a reason a younger man might like an older woman. We aren't quite as needy!

9. Name something a dog does that embarrasses its owner. Shakes slobber over visitors

10.. Name a kind of test you cannot study for. Eye test

11. Name something a boy scout gets a badge for. Woodworking

12 Name a phrase with the word home in it. "Home is where the heart is."

13. Name a sport where players lose teeth. Hockey

14. Name something a teacher can do to ruin a student's day. Give too much homework.

15. What is a way you can tell someone has been crying. Red, puffy eyes.

16. Name a bird you wouldn't want to eat. A vulture

17. Name something someone would wear with a hole in it. Jeans

18. 18. Name something that gets smaller the more you use it. Sandpaper

I'm not going to tag anyone but do let me know if you decide to play along so I can come by and check out your answers. Everyone have a great Saturday. May your first full day of Spring be a wonderful one!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday

There were hints that Spring was almost upon us this week with a couple of nice days - especially Tuesday. The weather was so nice I took a walk in the cemetery and remembered to catch a shot of the sky for Tisha's great Friday meme as we were leaving and the sun was starting to think about setting ...

Cemetery Sky

Just to prove that it really is almost Spring I took this picture, too, and then made it "special" just for Amanda!

Spring Macro

Everyone have a great Friday and don't forget to spring by Looking at the Sky on Friday for more great sky shots!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ramblings of a Tired Blogger ...

Let's see what not having enough coffee and sitting down at a keyboard does for me today ...

Nothing for nothing but what is up with "Octo Mom" and the way people are acting like complete and total idiots when it comes to her? Did anyone see the mob scene on the news when the first two babies came home? Pathetic! My personal opinion is that the media needs to back off, find something else to talk about, and let these poor kids try to grow up with some semblance of normalcy. Mom has had more than her 15 minutes of fame and this type of thing is just going to encourage other people to try the same thing so that they can get a "free boat", too. Truth be told, I feel bad for all 14 of those kids and think mom needs some serious counseling.

American International Group, Inc.Image via Wikipedia

As for this company ... you have got to be kidding me! These people accepted those bonuses without the slightest twinge of conscience? In today's economy and the financial mess the country is in?? A good chunk of which was brought about by their own company?? I don't care if the bonuses were "contractual" - the company has lost more money in the past year than many, many, many people will ever receive in their entire lifetime and last I knew, you didn't get a bonus for doing a lousy job. Every single one of them ought to hang their heads in shame but I suspect the vast majority are more likely laughing all the way to the bank where they will cash their checks and then take the money home and hide it under the mattress because banks aren't all that reliable these days, are they?

As for unreliable, I heard on the news last night that our own Connecticut State Senator Christopher J. Dodd (who spoke at my high school graduation many, many years ago) is taking some heat for this entire AIG fiasco and rightly so ... I kept wondering why he wasn't taking more heat on all of this to begin with. Oh wait - that's right - everyone was too busy blaming every tiny little thing on former President George W. Bush.

Speaking of Presidents, it is my own personal opinion that "sitting" Presidents have no business going on late night talk shows no matter who is sitting behind the desk be it Leno, Letterman, or anyone else. I believe that Gracie of Echoes of Grace referred to it awhile back as "the trivializing of the Presidency" and I've got to agree with her. I'm certainly not saying that the President shouldn't have a sense of humor as he definitely needs one but I don't think that he should be sitting across from Leno yucking it up, especially this soon into his Presidency. Why is it I get the feeling he'll be making the rounds to Oprah and Ellen soon??

While on the subject of television, I haven't been following American Idol all that closely this season (just like I don't follow any TV show that closely) but I'm glad to see that Adam Lambert is still in the running. I'm not exactly sure why I like him - perhaps it's that Way/Leto/Wentz combination that he has going on. According to my resident teen expert, he has Gerard Way's jacket, Jared Leto's gloves, and Pete Wentz's hair - I suspect he's got some guy-liner going on, too! - but what I really, really like is his vocal range and the fact that he's willing to take chances - something not a lot of the contestants on AI are willing to do. He also looks like he could easily kick Ryan Seacrest's butt but that's just a fantasy for another day (am I possibly the only one who thinks Ryan is completely and totally annoying?!?).

And one final thing ... why do States bother to pass laws if they aren't going to enforce them? Here in Connecticut we have a law that states thou shalt not talk on thy cellphone whilst driving - or something very similar to that - and yet what do I constantly see but people driving down the road talking on their phones and not paying attention to anything around them! Do people think that the law only applies to other people and not to them? It's kind of like drinking and driving ... oh, that's only for people who can't handle their alcohol, right? WRONG! Connecticut is looking to make up a budget deficit so how about the cops start pulling over and ticketing these people who think the cellphone laws don't apply to them? Oh wait, the cops are going to have to get off of their own cellphones first, aren't they? And don't try to tell me that they're "only on them for business", I was a police dispatcher once, remember?

Oh well, I'd best go get some more coffee! Everyone have a great Thursday!
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday Photos on Wednesday

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day here in Connecticut so in honor of the sun shining and temperatures being quite reasonable, I talked Amanda into going for a walk with me after supper. I figure the kid needs to get out from behind that darned computer every once in awhile and what could be more tempting than a walk through our favorite cemetery which is now only a stone's throw away? Well, it might be more than a stone's throw for me but I bet some people could get one there from here!

At any rate, it was about 5:30 when we walked over to the Yantic Cemetery and there was still a beautiful blue sky above us so it gave me the perfect opportunity to take a few pictures. After all, I did bring my camera - just in case!

Gate to Yantic Cemetery
Gates to the Yantic Cemetery

These two first shots are of the wrought iron main gates to the cemetery which are always left open and, from the looks of the rust on the wheels, have been left open for a very, very long time! The first shot is of the right side of the gate and the second is, of course, the left! I was inspired to take these pictures by a post that Mo of It's a Blog Eat Blog World had the other day for his Saturday Photo Hunt. His post was of a cemetery gate in Benton Harbor, Michigan and the gate there had fleur-de-lis ornamentation on top. I'm not sure what you'd call this pattern but I thought it was pretty cool!

Celtic Cross Focal B&W
This Celtic Cross is a grave marker for one of the graves towards the back of the cemetery. It's a little dark but I think you can still make out enough of it to see that it's very detailed. I have no problems picturing this gravestone standing on a lonely hillside in Ireland as fog rolls in over the lands.

Statute of Music Muse
This muse stands on a pretty high pedestal near one of the graves towards the front of the cemetery and I think it's quite beautiful. I can only imagine how much something like this would cost these days. Luckily, she's high enough up that vandals can't get at her either. No doubt whoever is buried here was a true music lover to have wanted this fine lady standing above his or her grave.

I have more cemetery pictures but I don't want to bore you guys to death (no pun intended, of course!) so I will save them for another day. Now that I live so close to the Yantic Cemetery, I get the feeling I'll be taking lots and lots of pictures there in the months to come. Luckily, there are some very unique grave markers there as well as some very beautiful trees so there is a lot to take pictures of.

As a final picture for today's post, I just couldn't help myself even though Amanda was really rolling her eyes when I did this one ...

Evra can haz ...
I read recently that it's a good idea to try to capture a fly or two and put them in the habitat with your lizard as they are not only a tasty treat (blech!) but they also provide a source of exercise. It was warm enough for a few flies to be out and about yesterday so I went out and managed to catch a couple to give to Evra. If you guys want a good laugh, be here sometime when I'm out trying to stun - but not kill - flies to feed to a lizard! No doubt anyone who drove down our road was wondering what on earth I was out in the front yard doing!

The first fly I hit a little too hard and killed but Evra was a good sport and ate it anyway. The second one I brought back alive and I've got to say the thing didn't stand a chance! Lizards are quick when there's food on the fly ... sorry, couldn't help myself on that one either!

Hope everyone else had a great Tuesday; now if you'll excuse me I need to go dispatch ambulances for 16-hours ...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

One For the Guys ...

Considering that my main post today which appears below this one is definitely "female oriented" and probably not something my male readers are going to want to read, I thought I should put something up here for the guys - especially what with it being St. Patrick's Day and all.

Evra wasn't exactly cooperative with the camera this morning but that's probably because I was interrupting his St. Patty's Day festivities for which he had turned a lovely shade of green ... I get the feeling he was going to attempt to sneak out for a nice green beer or something!

Evra Go Braugh

Yeah, yeah, I suck at Paintshop and can't doodle for beans but have a Happy St. Patty's Day anyway! May the luck o' the Irish be with you all!

Taking a Look at Bioidenticals Cuz I Had Nuthin'

Back on the 3rd of March I wrote a post wherein I lamented that I've Got Nuthin' to blog about and as a result, I received a very nice email from Lisa who is one of my NorwichBulletin.com readers. Lisa had a suggestion for me and wrote ...
"Since Oprah had the segment on Bio-Identical and there is very little subject for this, in this area (CT)…and you're getting older it's something to research and ponder on."
Not being an Oprah watcher I wasn't really quite sure what bioidenticals were even about but a quick search of the internet set me straight on the issue and left me wondering why all women weren't using bioidentical hormone replacement treatment when it came to the issue of perimenopause or even menopause itself?

EstradiolEstradiol image via Wikipedia

For those also not familiar with them, bioidenticals are exact duplicates of hormones produced by women primarily in the ovaries that contain estrogen, progesterone, estradiol, or other hormones. Many of these bioidentical hormones are commercially available in several well-tested, FDA-approved, brand-name prescription drugs and Oprah, as well as the actress Suzanne Somers, swear by them as having given them their lives back.

In February's edition of O, The Oprah Magazine, Oprah wrote that she felt "out of kilter" and had "issues" for two years that she suspected were hormonal. Upon a friend's recommendation, she went to a doctor who specializes in hormones. The hormone specialist told her that her "hormonal tank was empty" and gave her a prescription for bioidentical estrogen.
"After one day on bioidentical estrogen, I felt the veil lift," Winfrey writes. "After three days, the sky was bluer, my brain was no longer fuzzy, my memory was sharper. I was literally singing and had a skip in my step."
Nothing for nothing but I'm pretty sure Oprah isn't the only woman who has reached a certain age out there who feels that a veil is covering her and is motoring around with her hormonal tank needing a fill-up. As a matter of fact, Lisa emailed me back the next day when I wrote her to thank her for the suggestion and told me -
"... this morning I woke up in a fog full of cobwebs…and couldn't focus on anything - thank God for my husband-who is one in a million. Then there is the forgetfulness… it's bad and you find yourself using sticky's for everything…then you get overwhelmed! This is not my nature, as usually I'm very focus to details, with everything in it's place - like a right brain personality or Type A."
I know exactly what Lisa is talking about - exactly - except that I haven't been smart enough to get the sticky notes yet as I keep telling myself to but then I always forget! I've noticed that for the past six months or so, I find myself mentally grasping for words that were right there on the tip of my tongue just a moment ago, forgetting something that someone just said to me 30 seconds ago, and having big-time short term memory loss in other ways, too. Having a job where I have to think fast on my feet (or in my dispatch chair), multi-task like there's no tomorrow, and retain things people have told me it is becoming a real hindrance to have a brain that apparently has the characteristics of a sieve!

I can't begin to tell you how many times I have gotten up and gone into another room to get something and then stood there totally dumbfounded as to what it was I was going to do. I used to pride myself on being organized but that's gone right out the window with everything else and I'm even beginning to think there's a hormonal reason why I'm still sitting in a room with boxes all around me even though I've been in the new house for about a month and a half now. Oh, and one of the worst things is that this "brain fog" of mine has seeped into my fingers, too, as you wouldn't believe some of the things I've typed and then gone back to find later when I do proofreading. If I don't proofread something at least several times there's a good chance I may use a completely different word than I meant or worse. Trust me, this could get dangerous in the world of blogging!

At my last annual exam with my GYN, I mentioned that I was starting to have lots of problems remembering things and focusing and he told me that I was too young to be going through menopause and dismissed the issue but what he should have said was that I was more than old enough to be going through perimenopause - a transition period that precedes menopause. Women in their late 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s may transition in and out of a perimenopausal state many times before they finally enter menopause . This perimenopausal state can last from 5 to 15 years or longer and trust me, I am more than old enough to fit in this category!

The symptoms that I described to my doctor could definitely be part of the hormonal fluctuations that women go through and I would have thought that he would have known that rather than just pooh-poohing my concerns as nothing to be worried about. Along with the more obvious changes like hot flashes, sleep disruption, dry eyes, night sweats, and a host of other fun (not!) symptoms, many perimenopausal patients find they have short-term memory impairment or a lack of focus. Apparently these cognitive effects of hormonal imbalance are frequently overlooked in mainstream discussions about perimenopause so I guess I can forgive my GYN for not being up-to-date (and considering he's now retired from practice, I can't even give him hell when I next see him!) but still ... if Oprah's doctor could fix her, why can't mine fix me??

I know that the majority of the responsibility of dealing with these things lies with me in that my diet, lack of exercise, and somewhat stressful job certainly aren't helping things and definitely need to be addressed but if there is a form of hormone replacement treatment out there that can help me get my mind back (as well as a good night's sleep) without an increased risk for breast cancer, heart attack and stroke then I'd like to know more about it!

As always there is the usual controversy that's present when someone comes up with what's probably a better treatment than the one people have been using for years and years but from what I've read it appears that bioidenticals are helping a lot of women get their lives back and step out of the fog they've been in. A fog like the one that causes me to do things like call Amanda by her sister's name way more often then she'd like or not remember what medic number a crew has within 5 seconds of them giving it to me over the radio.

So, due to not having nuthin' on the 3rd of March and an email from a reader (thanks again, Lisa!) you can bet I'll be talking to my new GYN about bioidenticals and whether they might be something to consider ... provided I remember to write the question down and take it with me to my next appointment! I may not be Oprah but I deserve a shot at a clearer head too, right?

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