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Showing posts from December, 2015

Day 235: Joe

I have an appointment for a blood panel this morning. I've been fasting for over 12 hours. No big deal. I've trained myself to avoid eating in the evening. I'm drinking copious amounts of water.

After my appointment I am going to have a light breakfast and hit the gym with a vengeance.

I was so tired yesterday. I had just gone to Mass and was at Fred Meyer, buying beef and potatoes for another stew when my daughter called to ask about the plan for the day.We had planned on going to the gym. I told her I needed to get the stew into the crockpot. Then we would run to the gym before visiting Grandma and Grandpa. I paid for my groceries.  I walked across the street to wait for the bus home.

I had an interesting commute. I will end my blog with this account. It was very bittersweet.

I met a young man at the bus stop. He wore a dirty, raggedy long jacket. His hair was a mess. He was carrying a shopping bag.

He looked at me with the most beautiful deep blue eyes and said, "E…

Day 234: Breathing Deeply and Smelling the Pho!

The bone broth turned out better than I had imagined! I used lamb chops. I baked them and then threw them in the crockpot with one half of a minced onion and two cloves minced garlic. Covered the whole shibang with water and left it on low all day.

The kids and I drove over to Vancouver to see my mom and dad. My dad was released yesterday. That sounds funny, like he just got out of prison. But he says it felt like prison because they kept tabs on him. And if he tried to get out of bed, the alarms would sound off.  But he didn't seem too upset. The nurses were really good to him. I overheard this conversation the other day as we were leaving:

Dad: "Why do you have to fuss over me so much?"

Nurse: "Because we love you!"

Dad: "You just love the IDEA of me!"

That made me laugh.  He must be feeling better, because he is back to his wise cracks.

Yesterday we went over to offer support to my mom and clear out some more of the vcr's and videos.

He was si…

Day 233: Feeding Frenzy

Yesterday was a family day.  A lot of good bonding went on. Thankfully I did get to the trail first thing.  It was very cold, but dry. I walked a brisk mile and then headed back.  I even made it to Mass in the morning.

Then I met my son for breakfast.  We went to Tom's. A family favorite.  One tradition I miss is back to school dinner at Tom's. Every year, I would pick up my kids after school on the first day and we would head to Tom's.  I enjoyed hearing about their new teachers, friends and looking through all their papers.

Tom's is owned by a Greek family. They just celebrated their 40 year anniversary.  They gave out free mugs.  It's typical diner food with a Greek slant. I am partial to their feta omelettes. And in my pre gluten-free days, I would love me a plate of their Greek Spaghetti! The staff and owners are very personable . We feel like family when we dine at Tom's! (No, they didn't pay me to say that!)

We both had…

Day 232: Musical Volunteering

I feel better this morning. I am planning a short, brisk walk in the trail this morning before church. It is current t my 35° here in Portland. Overcast, but no precipitation. Yesterday's homeless meal concert lifted my spirits.. we played at Sisters of the Road Cafe in Old Town. Not for the faint of heart. Old Town Portland is pretty rough and very real. We were mostly background music as the people came in to get warm and have a meal. But some of them came and chatted. Had some wonderful conversations. The workers were so sweet and kind. They brought . US all coffee. The . Food looked really good. They asked if we would come back on a regular basis. I think maybe I'll stay for lunch next time! :)

Only drawback is they don't have a piano on the premises. Our soprano brought her keyboard. It was decent as far as keyboards go. But it didn't have enough volume. I think we will have to look for an amp.

We have one more homeless concert next weekend before winter term sta…

Day 231: Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

I have a food hangover. And a worry hangover. But before I start my day, I am going to have a talk with God and leave my worries with Him.

Philippians 4:6-7New International Version (NIV):6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus".

Anxiety and depression run in our family. This is a continual struggle for me. The "letting go and letting God".

Our chamber music group is playing for a homeless meal this morning. I am hoping it will shake my soul a bit. Get my out of my worried head. Sometimes I feel like my emotions are holding me hostage.

I will continue this tomorrow.  Need to put one foot in front of the other.



My Dad, An Update

He had a right thalamic stroke .

He is doing well cognitively and exceptionally well emotionally. He can walk with assistance. But his blood pressure is elevated again and he is very sleepy. He will remain in the hospital at least until Saturday. We will visit him tomorrow.

Please continue to pray for my mom and dad.

Thank you.

Day 229: I Can't Feel My Face/Comfortably Numb/Let it Rain- Thank you President Obama!! :)

I just had a very successful dental visit. I  usually cringe when I think of all those high-pitched whirring, squealing instruments.

But I found a wonderful dentist. And I have Obama to thank for the insurance. Because of Obamacare I am able to qualify for the Oregon Health Plan, since they lowered the income requirements. Thank you President Obama!

I have two chipped teeth on my  lower front. Ugly. Shameful. Makes it look like I practice poor dental hygiene. But I brush and floss religiously! I didn't have a cavity until I was 36! But I think my binge eating caught up with me. And my 6-pack of Diet Coke-a-day habit. This is embarrassing to admit!

Day 228: My Father- An Update

My father is meeting with the physical therapist this morning. He is still weak, but has been having animated conversations with the nurses, doctors, and pretty much anyone that will listen. So, I know his time is not up yet. The speech therapist, after evaluating him, shook his hand and said,"Peter, I want to thank you for your intellect and articulate conversation", according t o my fact, she told me this morning that  she has never seen him so happy.

Honestly, my mother sounds twenty years younger. Much more joy in her voice, without the usual overtones of anxiety. I told her I had a whole troop of friends praying for him. "I can tell", she said.

She told me that when they first got him to the hospital, he was in atrial fibrillation ("Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications"~…

Day 227: On Aging Parents-Please Pray for Mine!

My father is in the hospital. Last night my mother came home and found him. He was passed out on the floor in front of his recliner. My dear, tougher than nails mother singlehandedly got him on his feet, out the door and to the emergency room.

I am so  relieved. This could have had a very different outcome. We talked about her asking for help next time. They live about half an hour away, in Vancouver, WA. They are in their mid seventies. This was a good wakeup call for keeping them safe and healthy as they age. My next phone call was to my brother. He and his wife are pharmacists at the VA Hospital. He had talked to her too. He has good advice since he works with vets who are discharged from the hospital. He and I are going to go to their house and do a safety check. Of course, they say they are fine and don't need help. 
To this we say, "Ha!"  
Being proactive does not hurt and may save their lives. We want our kids to have grandparents around for as long as possible. W…

Day 226: High Wind Warning and My Current Stats

Last night was my end of the term piano recital for my piano students. I had about 45 students perform.  Best recital ever!  I think all my chamber music concerts are increasing my confidence.  I've always enjoyed putting on recitals, but often get really nervous about public speaking.

Not anymore! I just focused on the task at hand.  Mostly just being present for my students. I had two sections last night, the first at 4:30 p.m. was for my beginning students.  Most of them are in my group piano classes.  Ages 6 and 7.  I had them come up onto the stage in groups.  I sat at the piano with them.

They all brought their own unique spirit to their music. We heard probably 7 different versions of Deck the Halls and Jolly Old St. Nicholas.  But they were all special. And so cute!

My 72 year-old mother is one of my students. As well as my 8 year-old niece.  But truly, all of these people feel like my family. I've been teaching at the music center, (where the recital was held) for ab…

Day 225: Taking the "the" out of "the Homeless"

I got to the church early. There was a huddled form underneath a dirty brown blanket on the porch. I tried the door. It was locked. I peered inside the window. The room was filled with tables decorated with holiday tablecloths, topped with plates , glasses of juice, and little bags of candies. Through the door came a smoky, salty scent of roast meat, which I later discovered was ham from Otto's Sausage Kitchen across the street. I was just dialing the volunteer coordinator on my cell phone when the other members of our group started to arrive.

We were greeted warmly by the woman who opened the door. I had spoken with her on the phone. A lovely older woman with Christmas bulb earrings and a brightly colored apron covered with butterflies.

 We introduced ourselves and started to set up our instruments. One nice thing about being a pianist is not having to haul my instrument around to every gig. The piano at this church was a beat up old baby grand, slightly out of tune, but with al…

Day 224: Background Music

I had another quick in and out gym experience yesterday. But I challenged myself to first do the exercise I hated.  The Power Tower. I did 12 leg lifts.  Briskly.  It's a start. I felt stronger today.  Then I hopped on the treadmill and power walked for 8 minutes. I did 1/2 mile.

I just realized that today is Saturday and I did not do my weight and measurements this week. Probably subconsciously avoiding it. Still struggling with the eating.  But I am still gluten free and avoiding junk food and sugar.  I will do a weigh in and measure on Monday. I promise!

Our chamber music group is playing for a homeless Christmas lunch today. I am really looking forward to it. Also a little nervous. Not sure what to expect. So I told the others we are just there to provide some cheer and background music while they get a meal and warmth.

My holiday season is winding down. The Portland Musical is done.  Yesterday was rehearsal for my piano students. Their recital is Sunday. I have about 60 stud…

Day 223: Still Alive!

Was in a hurry yesterday. I was achy in the morning yet again, so got up late. Too late, in fact to make it to the gym on the bus, back home to shower and change and then to the school for the afternoon performance of the Portland Musical I was accompanying.

I knew I needed to get some exercise.  And, although it sounded like a monsoon outside (there have been flood warnings in the greater Portland area), I put on my rain parka, rain boots and scarf and hightailed it to the trail! I did a good mile. The cold rain got my sore, tired feet moving quite briskly.

And I am a better woman for it!

Both performances went really well. I was so inspired that I called my daughter during the break. When she was in third grade, her class performed the Portland Musical. And I was the accompanist! Such nostalgia!

Oh, but that was about 18 years ago.  Portland has changed a lot since then. I found out that the director, Jeanne bought the rights to the musical from the original composer, Ralph Nelson.…

Day 222: Got 12 Minutes?

Yesterday I had 17 minutes to catch my bus from the time I entered the gym. If I didn't make that bus, I would have been late for rehearsal.  I am accompanying "The Portland Musical" at one of the grade schools. Yesterday was dress rehearsal.  It would have been very uncool to be late.  So I was in crunch mode. Ironic that the name of my gym is "Crunch".

I almost skipped my workout.  I could have grabbed a cup of tea and gotten there early. But no. I am a determined woman!

So I hopped on the treadmill and sped walked for 5 minutes. I did 0.29 miles.  I actually worked up a sweat! I had a few minutes to spare, so I went over and did some leg lefts on the "Power Tower", one of my least favorite exercises. But I remembered a conversation with my daughter. She said if I want to see progress, I need to do the exercises I hate. Because they are difficult.  I hate the Power Tower.  In fact, I hate all exercises that work my lower abs. But those are my weak …

Day 221: Attack of the Chicken Nachos

Tired and sore today.  Decide to make this my sleeping in morning. Played in a wonderful concert last night with the choir. The same program we did on Saturday.  I was so hungry afterwards and had not packed a meal, so I took myself out to dinner.  Celebratory food has been a big part of my life. And I enjoyed it. I went to Pollo Rey on Hawthorne. I had a small chicken nachos and a margarita.  At 8:30 p.m. Past my new normal cut off time.

But it was a celebration! Interestingly enough, that one drink knocked my socks off! I floated home on the bus, unable to worry or think about anything other than one foot in front of the other. Good thing I do not drive.

I said hello to my clan and headed straight to bed.  Honey Dawg followed me.

I slept like a log until 6 a.m. I briefly contemplated Mass. but it is raining again. And quite cold. And I hurt all over. So I had a glass of warm water and crawled back under the covers. Honey Dawg was snoring in her kennel.

I did grab my Kindle and check…

Day 220: Can I get a Yeehaw? Hint: Size 12 jeans!!

Yesterday after Mass, I was going to run to the gym and then home to make breakfast. My daughter had told me last night that she would like to meet me at the gym. But she didn't answer her cell phone. "Probably still sleeping", I reasoned.

I wished at that point that I was home in bed. Very tired, I was. And hungry. And without my rice cakes! I decided right then and there, on the bus to take a detour. I hopped off at Burgerville- they have gluten free buns. And electrical outlets so I could charge my ever dying Kindle. I felt the need to sit and contemplate my life so far over a hot meal.

And hit the pause button for a bit.

Best decision I made in awhile! I tried my daughter's cell again. No answer. I sighed peacefully, enjoying the moment. I looked out the window at the traffic flowing steadily on SE Powell Boulevard. Then I noticed it. My pulse quickened. I grinned, downed the last drop of my coffee and flew out the door, heading towards the Goodwill Store across…

Day 219: The Joys of Adult Children

Still glowing from last night's performance. The chamber music group I perform with (Portland Chamber Music) had our holiday fundraiser at the most sublime venue. A little restaurant, "Vie de Boheme" (

I felt like I had come home when I walked in last night. Dark, except for strings of lights. Old lamps and antique looking chandeliers. Bottles of wine and kegs. Small, intimate tables.  My inner Gypsy was pleased!

We had a very enthusiastic crowd. I had one of my newer piano students come with her mom, grandma and sister. These girls are 7 and 5. They stayed for the entire concert, which was well over two hours!

Best of all, my 23 year-old, hip-hop, rap loving son surprised me by showing up. I had put him on the comp list, but didn't really expect to see him. And he stayed. For the whole concert. Gave me a ride home.  And he had many wonderful observations. I think this mother-son talk in the car after the concert - about the music, the …

Day 218: Death by Chocolate

I like to be real on this blog. But I am tempted to just talk about the good stuff. My accomplishments, my epiphanies, the people I help, the pounds I lose. Good stuff like that.

But I need to be honest here. I am struggling with chocolate overload. I have some dear sweet students who have been giving me boxes of chocolates for early Christmas gifts. Last week I got a box of Godiva chocolates. This week I got two boxes of Hershey's Pot of Gold.

I shared a few Godiva chocolates with the wonderful people at the Salem Amtrak station.  They were most appreciative!

The Hershey's I shared with my kids. But my daughter has an annoying habit of taking one bite out of a piece and then putting it back in the box. Who does that? lol  Well at least she has the will power to stop at one bite!

I have eaten probably a dozen pieces of chocolate in the last 3 days. Not proud of myself.  I didn't think I had a problem with binge eating on sugary substances.  I seem to have kicked the potat…

Day 217: Recital Season

6:30 a.m. Going to pop up out of bed in five minutes to start my day. First Mass. Then breakfast. Then piano classes. Then lunch. Then piano practice. Then a performance. The choir I accompany is performing at the end of term concert at the music center where I teach group piano classes. So I get to dress up a bit. It's not raining this morning. I might forgo my rain boots today. After the concert I plan on coming home to change clothes and then head to the gym. Then back home for more piano practice. The chamber music group I play with has its holiday fundraiser concert.
I love this time of year. I love performance, especially when I am prepared. 
On that note,must pop up! Happy Saturday!! :)

Day 216: I'm in it for the Cookies!

Such a busy time of year. Tis the season to be stressed, some say!

But I feel happy today. I've noticed that here in Portland, when the weather is unusual, people are unusually friendly.

The weather has been unusually strange lately! Portland is known for it's rain. But really, it's usually just overcast with a light drizzle.  The rain we have been having over the past few weeks is a steady DOWNPOUR.  Many Portlanders go through most of their lives without umbrellas.  As a walker and a commuter, this is no longer possible for me. Even my bubble umbrella doesn't quite cut it! I have to wrap everything in plastic in my backpack. Especially my music and my Kindle.

Today was another rainy, blustery day. But thankfully not too cold. And everywhere I went I was met with jolly, friendly looking people!

I have noticed that I have become inordinately attached to my routine.  So this morning, when my alarm clock went off at 5:30 a.m. and I was wiped out and sore, I felt extrem…

Day 215: Another Glove Story

I worked out this morning at 6:30 a.m.

I had a really good strong workout. I actually sweated!  I did an 8 minute mile on the elyptical machine.  I was really burning!  And then I did some weights - Chest and tricep. And I finished with crunches!

It was raining steady, not heavy, but steady. Not too cold.  I was waiting for the bus to go to Mass when the wind picked up. There were 3 or 4 of us huddled under the shelter of a bus stop.  I called the "transit tracker" to find out when the bus was due. 9 minutes.  I could handle it. I had my sensible rubber boots, my bubble umbrella and my sparkly gloves. But the young lady next to me was shivering. She glanced at me and asked when the bus was arriving.  I told her. She said she had been waiting over a half hour because she missed her last bus. She kind of chuckled, but I she looked cold and miserable. She was wearing leggings, a t-shirt and an old hooded sweatshirt. She had a bag full of soggy looking items.  We talked about t…

Day 214: FOCUS!

I just heard Nelson on 104.1 say we are in for a day of "normal rain" here in Portland, Oregon.

Happy Dance!

Today is my Salem day. I was looking at the weather report, trying to decide how to dress and what to pack.

Definitely my new rainboots and my bubble umbrella!

But I am going to pack light. I am very sore this morning. I did a very quick workout at the gym yesterday. I did some weights, focusing on back and biceps. But BEFORE the gym my daughter coaxed me into doing a workout to a youtube video she is using. Apparently the woman trains people like Jennifer Lopez. It was intense!

I don't know if I am sore from the gym, the J-Lo trainer woman, or my long commute in the rain yesterday. But today I just did some stretches on the balcony while trying to coax Honey Dawg outside for her morning business.  It was wet.  But  not raining. But still, she put one little paw gingerly on the wet deck and then backed into the house and sat down looking at me.

Maybe Honey Dawg ne…

Day 213: Boots on the Ground!

I went out to lunch yesterday with my kids.  We went to Chang's Mongolian Grill. It was raining buckets.  Right before we left, the UPS truck drove up and delivered my new boots! An early Christmas gift from my daughter, my son-in-law and my son.

I was so happy all day. There was standing water everywhere. But my feet remained dry! And the boots are comfortable too! They have nice high arches.

It made such a difference in my day to travel about in a sensible, comfortable fashion. I travelled light. I had my new boots, my bubble umbrella,  a light meal of yogurt, cheese, gluten free crackers, and grapefruit slices, my thermos full of hot green Jasmine tea and some stickers for my students.

I hardly  missed my Kindle.

l listened to the radio during my commute. Mostly NPR. And Clyde Lewis. His program last night was about the dark side of Christmas. He spoke about the "Krampus". As usual, very thought provoking. But also rather creepy. I switched over to 104.1 The Fish and…

Day 212: A Doggie Foot Warmer

I decided to start my day a little bit later today. It is pouring down rain outside. My daughter's dog, Honey escaped from her kennel in the wee hours of the morning and crawled into bed with me. She is like a doggie foot warmer. She is curled up against my legs with her head resting on my sore feet. Very cozy. I am finally feeling relaxed.

Honey does not like this rain. She is a German Shorthair Pointer.  Very little fur. Which is nice because she doesn't shed, but she hates getting wet. Especially when it is cold.  We have been having a hard time getting her to go outside to do her "business".  I wonder if a doggie raincoat would help? Or a covered doggie port-a-potty?  Has anyone invented that? lol

I do not feel the need to race out the door this morning. I have been catching up on emails, the news and social media. My plan this week is to focus on my work. Piano practice is a priority since I have several recitals looming. I will still workout daily and go to Ma…

Day 211: Mercy!

I am turning into a morning person! I never really believed it was possible. I popped right up at 6:00 a.m. It is now 9:30 a.m. and I have not even had a drop of caffeine. I didn't even think about until that last sentence I typed. Maybe it is time to consider cutting back. I much prefer tea over coffee. I drink my tea black, but I seem to require much cream and sweetener in my coffee.

I did have orange juice with my breakfast this morning. I've been craving it lately. I think I need to increase my intake of citrus fruits. This morning I squeezed a bit of lemon juice into a mug of warm water. I've read this is a good way to start the day.

I am heading to the gym shortly. I am thinking about roasting a chicken and root vegetables for dinner. So after the gym I will stop by the store and do some prep in the kitchen before my afternoon piano students.

I am feeling peace…

Day 210: Changing the Channel

Day 210.  I have been on this self-improvement journey for seven months today!

And I plan on continuing.  I am quite proud of my discipline!  I have been going to the gym 5 to 6 days a week. On the days that I don't make it to the gym, I do extra walking and calisthenics.

I do not eat gluten.  I usually stop eating by 7:00 p.m.  Occasionally I allow myself a small meal when I get home, which is often after 9:00 p.m.  But I eat consciously. No more mindless munching on a bowl of buttered popcorn.(How in the world did I break that habit?)

Last night when I got home, I had a bowl of pinto beans, topped with beets, sauerkraut and olives.  It was surprisingly satisfying!

I still have many things to work on.  One of them is worry. I tend to have a one track mind when it comes to anxiety.

Yesterday, after my workout at the gym, I was getting ready to go teach piano. But I kept thinking about the most recent mass shooting in San Bernardino.  I am a fast reader. I have read massive accoun…