Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead!

Wow, I've been a really sucky blogger. Sorry for the long delay--I really have no excuse. I haven't really had anything interesting going on in my life to blog about so maybe that's part of the problem. Work has been busier than usual--working in investments is a little crazy these days--and I haven't had a lot of emotional and psychological energy to spare lately, which conveniently brings me to...

...I took part in an overnight sleep study last night. I've never really had trouble sleeping as an adult; no bouts of insomnia, no restless leg syndrome. But previous "bed mates" have advised me that I snore. So what? I snore--wear some earplugs. However it seems that the snoring may now have morphed into something more sinister. My Honey advised me on my last visit that I was making "strange sounds" in my sleep. It kinda got me thinking a little.

I have noticed that over the last 6 months to a year I haven't felt well rested when I wake up in the morning and in the middle of the afternoon I have an overwhelming urge to curl up under my desk and have a little lie-down. I've always been an "early to bed, early to rise" type but lately that has become more of an "early to fall asleep on the couch while watching TV, late to rise if I don't have an alarm to wake me up" kinda thing.

Recently a close friend enthusiastically shared her adventures in being diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea. She had been having sleep issues like insomnia for a while and had tried numerous things--getting up at the same time every day, sleeping for fewer hour a night, etc.--and finally went for a sleep study only to find out her apnea was so severe, she was having sleep interruptions 57 times per hour. 57 times! No wonder she felt like crap! Now she's using a CPAP machine and it's changed her life. So I asked my doctor to refer me to a sleep clinic. I figure at the very least I'll know one way or the other if I have any serious sleep problems.

So off I go with my jammies and my pillow and I fill out this long questionnaire and then this nice guy named Glen takes a bunch of measurements of my head which was very relaxing and nearly put me to sleep then and there. Then he sticks all these electrode thingees to my head so they can measure my brain waves during sleep which will let them know what stage of sleep I'm in. He attaches a few more to my face which will detect eye movement and whether I'm grinding my teeth. He puts a band around my waist and another around my upper chest to measure my breathing and a couple more electrodes on my lower legs to tell them if I have restless legs (which I don't--at least, not when I'm sleeping). The last thing he attaches is a little pinchy thing on my right index finger which is supposed to read my pulse or something. I hated it--it was uncomfortable and made my finger really sore. It was all I could do to not rip it off and hurl it across the room in my sleep.

I slept pretty well all things considered. It wasn't the most restful sleep I've ever had but I've done worse. They finally let me go to bed at about 10:30pm (way past my normal "school night" bedtime) and woke me up at 5:30am. For the last little while I was asleep I was dreaming about them coming in and waking me up--very weird. Glen said they got lots of good data (whatever that means) so I guess it was a success. My follow up appointment isn't for another month, so I guess I'll find out at that time whether I have any sleep disorders. In the mean time I'll be happy to be back in my own bed. Sans jammies.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Baby You Can Drive My Car

Cars have been a hot topic for me and a couple of my friends this week. Randy and Kiki purchased a "new" car last weekend and I'm taking them to the dealership later today to pick it up. They got a good deal and they're very pleased with the purchase and this is sounding like the impetus Kiki needed to finally get her driver's license. She's got a bit more of a challenge ahead of her with this car--it's a standard!

My car isn't particularly new--it turned 12 this fall--but in spite of that it's in pretty decent shape. The previous owner (whom I know very well and very generously gave it to me 2 years ago) took extraordinarily good care of it and I've done my best to maintain it in a similar way. But due to her age, things are bound to wear out.

This week it was the alternator that gave out. After a few days of a persistently squeaky fan belt, finally all hell broke loose and I had to abandon her at 1 AM on Saturday night (I guess that's actually Sunday morning) in the parking lot of a Muffler Man near Randy and Kiki's place. Conveniently Guy had loaned them his car for their car shopping adventures that day so they were able to drive me home.

It turns out the alternator had seized up and the squeaking was the belt being forced over a wheel that wasn't moving. The mechanic said $470 would clear the whole thing up (gee, thanks) so I gave the go ahead and took the bus after work Wednesday to go pick her up. The guys at Muffler Man were very nice, joked about going on a spending spree with my Honey's credit card (with which I paid for the work) and then after the ransom was paid I went out to the lot to take my baby home. Unfortunately as soon as I started her up the loathsome squeak was still there! I immediately turned her off and marched myself right back to the office. The mechanic seemed surprised but sure enough, when he fired her up to take her back into the bay the squeak was audible inside the closed up office!

After much conferring amongst each other, revving of the engine and whatnot, the mechanics agreed that everything was moving alright and that the belt was just loose. Some tightening of said belt ensued and a half an hour later I was on my way.

The squeak hasn't had the nerve to show it's face since.

Speedy Update:

No change--she's still listless and not eating but miraculously still alive. I want to thank all of you for your well-wishes and positive thoughts. Turtles may not be the snuggliest of pets but I've had these gals for a long time and I've grown quite attached. I was really touched by how sympathetic you all have been and I just wanted to say thanks :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Tale of Two Turtles (well, mostly one)

My turtles don't get along. Zippy has always been the aggressive, overly-active one and Speedy more passive and lethargic. Zippy will eat all her food and climb over Speedy to get to the rest. About a year and a half ago Speedy seemed to be in failing health so I separated her out from Zippy on the off chance that she was contagious and by some miracle hadn't yet infected her roommate. She made a "miraculous" recovery and that's when I realized she was likely near starvation and malnourished due to Zippy the little piggy eating all their food!

Once Speedy seemed fully recovered and even (dare I say) active, I felt she could probably hold her own against Zippy and they began co-habitating again. Very shortly thereafter I came home to discover Speedy with a bloody and torn-up nose! Obviously Zippy had taken a swipe at her. I again separated them and started treating Speedy with hydrogen peroxide and Polysporin and tea tree oil in the water. Eventually her nose healed (although she'd never model again) and I started doing "play-dates" again, letting the two of them spend lightly supervised time together. The reason I really didn't want to keep them separate was partly sefish--I didn't like having to clean two turtle "abodes" but also I felt perhaps they were lonely by themselves and would rather be together despite Zippy's contrary behaviour.

Well, shortly before my August trip to California I woke up to find Speedy with an even nastier facial injury. This time, Zippy had ripped half her nose clean off! The right nostril was torn very badly and there seemed to be a lot of blood. I was frantic! She seemed relatively unscathed by it but it looked so terrible! I immediately separated them (obviously) and went to the local aquarium shop and the guy there recommended some healing stuff for reptiles. But when I got it home and used it on her, it didn't seem to be very waterproof so I was unsure it has having any benefit at all. I left Guy with strict instructions to keep a close eye on her and put the stuff on whenever he was there to feed my menagerie, but I was reasonably confident she'd be okay because she seemed to be coping, was eating fine and there didn't seem to be any signs of infection.

Well, when I got home she was very sluggish and she seemed to have either vomited or coughed up a lot of blood because there was semi-congealed globs of it floating in the water. It definitely hadn't been bled out of her body I can tell you that. I examined her wound carefully and it didn't seem infected--there was no redness and no puss--but if the blood in the water was any indication she had lost a lot of blood and it was unclear if she would recover.

Over the next few weeks she got progressively worse, went completely off her food and stopped moving around entirely. The day I was set to leave for this last trip, I was firmly convinced she had died overnight because she was completely unresponsive to my prodding in the morning. I kinda freaked out a bit--what the hell was I gonna do with a dead turtle?! And it was way more upsetting than I thought it was gonna be. I had sorta been preparing for it over the last week or so as she got worse and worse so I thought I'd be okay, but it really laid me low. I finally decided I would put her in the freezer until I got back from California and then I'd decide what to do with her then. Well when I went to clean her off she suddenly started moving! She was alive after all! But really, for how long? I mean she looked terrible. Again Guy was looking in on my babies while I was gone and I warned him she might go. I told him not to worry if she did--I wouldn't blame him or anything--but he didn't look reassured.

Against all odds she was still alive when I got back. She's still hanging on and I'm not really sure how. She's gone at least a month without food but maybe it's part of some process she's going through to replace the blood she lost or something. Every morning I check on her and every morning she's still alive--barely moving and still not eating, but alive. I want to believe that she's not suffering a slow, agonizing death but instead undergoing some miraculous regeneration and that one day she's just turn a corner and be all better. This may be too much to ask of a 15 year old red-eared slider I bought at a pet store in 1993 , but I just can't give up hope.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I Practically Live Here Now!

Here I am again in Governor Schwartzenager's little fifedom. It seems like I was only just here...

Anyway, I'm back again and this has been a whirlwind trip! Saturday started with a fabulous breakfast at a place called A Good Morning. I had something called a "scramble"--essentially a messed up omlette--with chicken apple sausage, mushrooms and cheese and some yummy seasoned roasted potatoes and My Honey had an egg, avocado and bacon sandwich on rye with hashbrowns.

After that we were off to Santa Cruz where we met Austin who runs the Santa Cruz Experience. He took us and 4 other people on a terrific wine tour which started at Soquel Vinyards where we tasted several wines both white and red. My favourite was a 2007 Pinot Noir and my second favourite a buttery Chardonnay that was surpisingly refreshing on what was turning out to be a gorgeous, sunny day. We wandered around the grounds a little, exploring a small garden and tasting some grapes right off the vine. The winery's architecture is inspired by Tuscany complete with red tile roof and wooden beams and it has a spectacular view of a lush valley. Definitely the prettiest of the wineries we went to.

Our next stop was Hunter Hill, a small estate winery with a morbid story--the winery takes its name from the owner's beloved Chesapeake Bay retriever "Hunter", now deceased and buried on the property. I liked this place because it was unpretentious and the staff were very knowledgeable and friendly. We ended up buying a Sauvignon Blanc for me to take home and a Cabernet Sauvignon for Honey to keep. We had a picnic lunch under a shady tree and then we were off to the town of Santa Cruz proper to visit a couple of small places whose names I can't remember (wasn't a fan of the wines, so I didn't bother noting the names) and then we took a brief detour to Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing where we did a "flight" of beer--about 8 beers at about 2 ounces each. My favourites were the Dread Brown Ale and the Wilder Wheat.

By this point I was pretty intoxicated and my palate pretty much shot, but we went on to one final spot, Storrs Winery where the wine was so good it even got through to my thoroughly abused taste buds! We bought a Petite Syrah for me to take home and a Chardonnay for Honey to keep. Austin dropped us off at our car but I was in no shape to drive, so we walked around downtown Santa Cruz until we sobered up and then had dinner at the same Greek place we visited last time we were in town where Honey had Moussaka and I had a lamb dish, the name of which escapes me, and just like last time it was fantastic.

Sunday we spent in San Francisco (after another delicious breakfast at A Good Morning) and this time we stuck to the west end of the city. A scenic drive up Great Highway brought us to Sutro Heights Park where we took some pictures of the ocean and beach view, then we headed off to the far east end of Golden Gate Park because I wanted to go to the Strybing Arboretum and Hagiwara Tea Garden. Well after circling Golden Gate Park twice we finally found a spot to park. Did I mention the park is 1017 acres big? Central Park in New York is 174 acres smaller! Anyway, we had a lovely walk through the botanical gardens and the Japanese gardens, took lots of pictures, then eventually headed back to Mountain View. Dinner Sunday was at Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi Too! where I had scampi sauteed with garlic, shallots and mushrooms served in a white cream sauce and Honey had the special which was shrimp and clams served with a cream and tomato sauce over linguini. Dee-lish!

Monday we decided to go to Monterey. We parked near Fisherman's Wharf and walked down Cannery Row to the aquarium. On the way I spotted a Dippin' Dots which neither of us had ever tried. The Smores flavour made us instant fans. The insane cold also helped me avert heat stroke because more than a half hour of walking in the crazy heat had me nearly passing out! Happily the aquarium was mere steps away and we spent the next few hours taking in the exhibits. Honey could have watched the sea otters all day, but I made him come see the jelly fish which were my favourite. We headed back toward Fisherman's Wharf around 5:30 or so, wandering in and out of the little shops and watching kids on the beach. We had dinner at Abalonetti Seafood Trattoria which specializes in calamari--the reason I picked it--where we had an appetizer of 2 roasted giant garlic bulbs with toasted French bread and then I had the Siciliano which is calamari sauteed in garlic and white wine and Honey had combination plate of 3 different calamari: the Abalonetti which is cutlets French fried and served with a light buerre blanc; Marty's Special which is the same French fried cutlets but served on grilled eggplant and topped with Marinara sauce, Paremesan and Mozzarella cheeses; and the third was calamari cutlets in garlic, Parmesan and seasoned bread crumbs grilled with lemon. His favourite was Marty's Special. We somehow waddled back to the car and I managed to keep the food coma at bay long enough to drive us home.

Today Honey had to go back to work and I had to return the rental car but before we did that we had breakfast at a place around the corner where I had their signature French Toast with a fried banana and toasted sliced almonds. It was more like dessert than breakfast, but fortunately it came with two eggs and fruit so it didn't kill me. Honey had a fabulous omlette salsa and cheese and all sorts on wonderfulness on it and some really good home fries on the side. Yet another successfull breakfast! After returning the rental car I hit Mervyns and Target at the San Antonio Mall in an attempt to find some fall clothes for work. I did pick up two pairs of dress pants for $20 each and a bra and underwear so it wasn't a complete failure. Tonight's tentative plan is to take the Caltrain to Palo Alto and hit a gourmet burger joint called The Counter. I can't wait--I'm already trying to figure out what I'm gonna create. We might take in a movie and maybe finish off with some Haagen-Dazs before taking the train back to Mountain View. Tomorrow it's home again to hot and humid Southwestern Ontario and back to my beloved pets. I'm sure Jax will be equal parts pissed off with me and happy to see me. I'm bringing him some fancy organic treats from Whole Foods, so I doubt he'll be mad for long.