Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Well, as a couple of you know, I recently received a bit of bad news. After a few doctor visits and lots of tests, I have been told that I am borderline diabetic with high blood pressure. Understand that this wasn’t a surprise. My grandmother was diabetic, and my mother has hypertension. So the writing was on the wall. My weight has always been an issue for me, even when it probably shouldn’t have been. I look back on photos of myself 10 years ago and think, wow, I wish I was that thin now. But I can assure you that even when I was “that thin” I saw myself much differently.

I come from a large family, and that’s not a headcount. Most of my family is overweight to some degree, like most people. I don’t think I was the typical “fat kid” growing up, but I always felt I was. When I was in junior high school, I had a year where I was really what I would call “skinny” – but I never knew that until years later when I looked back on old photos. Still not sure who that kid was. But, as I grew older and entered high school, my weight began to climb.

The same day that I got this diagnosis from my doctor, also happened to be the same day I had scheduled an appointment at my new gym for a total body analysis. For someone like me, this is always an emotionally delicate experience. It’s the ultimate feedback where you have to face the realities that you fear the most but know are true. I managed to hold it together and got through the assessment. Thankfully, Victor, my new wellness coach, was nothing but professional and never once did I see that secret wince that I feared.

There were a lot of emotions that day (and there still are), and mostly I was scared. Not for the reasons you might think. Not because I was told I am on the verge of a serious condition, the stress of which nearly knocked me out anyway, but because of what I didn’t feel. As I said, this wasn’t a surprise. I figured that someday, a doctor was going to give me the “lose weight or else” speech. But I always assumed that would be the incentive to make me do something about it. I would finally be forced into action. I would be ordered into life changing habits. Someone else would take control (and ultimately responsibility?). What scared me the most was that I didn’t feel this inspiration or compulsion to make the changes I need - which led to frustration, anger, and despair. My last motivational hope crumbled beneath me.

I managed to lock away the emotions for the rest of the day at work, through my appointment at the gym, and all the way home. I knew when I got home I was going to have to tell Bill, and I was not going to do this well. I love Bill more than I can tell you. I knew he would be supportive, but I knew better than to expect sympathy. And I’ll admit that maybe I needed a little pity party – just a small one. I shared this news with only a few of you, but only a little bit of info and at a safe distance. I couldn’t talk to any of you face to face. I’m feeling a little better – but not much. We talked and it was as I expected. But this works because I know he can look at it all objectively. He is being very supportive and we’re looking at the foods we both eat. And I’m trying really hard not to take my anger or frustration out on him when he makes a comment or asks a question about the food I am eating (or wanting to eat). I know he’s just trying to help. And it’s not his fault that I’m where I am now. It still doesn’t make it easy.

I still have a lot of raw emotion around this. I’m not even sure why I’m feeling compelled to write it down and share it with you in this manner. Maybe it’s easier to share it in a way that I can remain detached. Maybe this is how I need to cope. But don’t be surprised if you read this and notice that I’ve taken it down soon afterwards.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Oregon Gardens

One of the things we managed to squeeze into our trip to Oregon was to visit the Oregon Garden. It's in Silverton, a small town about an hour from Portland. It's not too far from Troy & Lisa's place up in the mountains (formerly known as Branch Ranch, soon to be renamed Morning Wood). But it's definitely worth the drive.

It was cold and rainy, about 52 degrees when we got there. I was sportin' the Oregon uniform of hiking shoes, shorts and a sweatshirt and cap. Bill dressed a little warmer in jeans and a coat. And even though it wasn't perfect weather, I'm so glad we went. Oregon gardens are very different from Florida that's for sure. I miss a lot of the things that we can't grow here successfully like hostas, lilies,
daphne, and especially Japanese lace leaf maples. I tried California poppies when we first moved here in the summer, but it wasn't successful. It was just too hot for them. Anyway, I took lots of pictures, which I won't post here, but you can view on webshots.
Additionally, I continue to be amazed at Phil and Albert's place. They have cultivated the most incredible garden at their home - something I never would have predicted. It's definitely the most beautiful in the neighborhood, and one of the nicest ones I have ever seen. Good job guys! (I was going to post this great picture they sent to me of the front yard, but I just discovered that I've apparently lost a TON of pictures on my computer. SHIT!)

Sorry about the post-post. I've been a little behind lately...

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Family Visit

The decision to visit the NW this year when we did was so that I could attend my nephew's graduation. It's hard to believe that they would allow a ten year old kid to graduate from high school. But time flies, and I guess he's not ten anymore. We drove from Molalla, Oregon to Portland, to Olympia to Elma, Washington. It's a small town about 30 minutes West of Olympia. As rushed as I felt getting there, it was a really pretty drive. The graduation was like most - a lot of talking by people I didn't know, trying to be inspirational, but really just kind of droning on and making inside jokes that only the students get. But a lot of my family was there from all over Washington and Idaho. I always have a lot of anxiety when I go to visit my family. It's not that I don't love them, I do. But I don't share their religious views, which I can see past, but they really can't (although, my mom seems to be pretty good about that). It really bothers me that I want to just visit with them, but that always seems to insert itself in some way. So, as a result, I don't see them much. And when I do, it's only briefly. (The pic is my nephew, Seth, my brother, Tom, my dad and me.) My mom said once that "family is important, in the end, it's all you got." I didn't really understand that at the time. I think she said it at some sort of family gathering surrounding a funeral, so I chalked it up to that. Family seems to get tight when they loose a member. But, maybe it's a part of getting older. We start to feel our mortality, yearning for younger days when everything felt safe. The safest place was always at home with your family. Now that I'm getting older, those days seem to be a little dream-like, maybe a little idealistic. Of course I do remember the times I was unhappy and down-right miserable too, but somehow in hindsight it seems so manageable. One thing we always hear is that we eventually turn into our parents. It horrifies all of us I know, and in the end it's true to a point. I still remember that first time I looked in the mirror and just for a second - as quickly as you could think about it - I saw my dad. Kinda freaked me out. Now I find it interesting because I see other members of my family too. Sometimes my dad, sometimes my mom, my uncle, or even my grandfather.

I've been thinking of my grandfather a lot lately. He passed away years ago. He wasn't the "climb into his lap and fall asleep" grandpa most people visualize. He was quiet, but loving. Aloof, but there. He was always a bit of a mystery to me as a kid. Not very gregarious - I don't think he liked kids much, and barely tolerated most people. That's always been my version of him. He liked to spend a lot of time gardening. They had a double lot, and the back half was all vegetables and berry gardens. He also did a lot of ornamental gardening - roses, tiger lilies, peonies... just about anything. He was an avid camper, hiker, and fisherman. He loved being in the mountains. I remember that sometimes he would come home from a long camping or fishing trip just long enough to pack up and go again. I was lucky enough to go with him once when I was in high school. It sounds strange, but it is one of those special memories I shared with just him and me. He was also an incredible photographer. He played the guitar in church and at family functions. Even "taught" me as a kid. He had boxes and boxes of pictures and slides. Many of his pictures were of scenery from his camping trips or of different flowers in bloom. He had his own printing press, and printed all kinds of graphics on business cards, brochures, announcements, I think he even printed napkins for someone's wedding once. All of this is starting to sound personally familiar to me. I like spending time in my garden, I miss hiking and camping in the northwest, and I have tons of photos of things in bloom, and I've been attempting to learn how to play my guitar, and have been working in print and online media for years.

A few years ago, my mom came to visit. We were walking around the back yard and I had my camera in hand. I stopped to take a picture of a bromeliad that had just started to display this spectacular bloom. I smiled and chuckled and said, "I'm starting to feel like grandpa." My mom's smile faded a little. We both got quiet as those words slowly sank in. We both missed him.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The best friggin' latte ever.


Well, it's been a while since my last post. We recently got back from the NW. Went to my nephew's graduation, saw lots of family in WA, and friends in OR. There's never enough time to see everyone. I really hate that.

It still amazes me that after being in FL for 10 years I still get "homesick" when I visit Portland.

Miss you all already.