Saturday, March 19, 2011

Better late than never

Yeah, I'm running a little late on the picture post. It really has been a whirlwind of a week. We'll get to that in a little bit though. For now lets see if I can get some images on here without having a mental breakdown.

When I was sitting in my wife's craft room the other day I noticed how inefficiently everything was set up. It wasn't her fault, she just didn't have the proper work spaces to do what she needed to do. So this whole concept started with the idea of building her a new desk. The one that was being replaced was approx 2 x3. I built it a few years ago out of an old dining room table. It worked at the time but that was before Highland Handmades took off. Fast forward to now and just one of her pieces of equipment can consume that whole spot. That's when I decided to come up with this.

The size of the room made it difficult to get a good picture but here it is. All 7 feet of her. For being built out of 2 x 4's and plywood I am quite happy with the way it turned out. As much as I would have loved to spend the time building my wife a truly hand crafted table out of cherry or maple, it really didn't make much sense. To build a desk the right way out of hardwood lumber would have taken me 30-40 hours of labor and probably doubled my cost. This table and the two sets of shelves you are about to see cost me about $65.00 in material and a total of about 10 hours labor. I'm a little bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my wood working. I have to keep telling myself that this is only a work table and it's going to get dinged and nicked up. It DOESN'T need to be made out of high grade lumber. I've become very spoiled working at the mill. I get to see some of the most beautiful hardwood lumber that would have most craftsmen drooling and I get first pick. In the end what it all boils down to is this...She's happy, so I'm happy.

Next we get onto the shelves. Obviously when you decide to build something you start with a plan. Whether it's a plan you find online, in a magazine or one you come up with yourself. You need something basic to go by. I sat down for the rest of that whole evening with a calculator and a graph paper notebook. I knew when I started I wanted to do a set of shelves as well. Somehow I had to figure out how to get that desk as well as a whole set of shelves out of one piece of plywood. I knew it was possible but my measurements and my cuts had to be dead on. These are what I wound up with...

Standing just a hair over 6 feet tall and 27 inches wide these took the place of the cheap aluminum ones we had. These are 10x stronger and in my opinion look 10x better, especially with a beautiful lady draped over them.

So I posted last Friday about how I was going to get the pictures up here. Well there are 2 reasons that didn't happen and here they are...

First off, as I was drinking my coffee Saturday morning I couldn't stop thinking about a few extra pieces of that beautiful cabinet grade plywood I had left. I have been bored out of my mind this winter sitting at home with nothing to do. Spending the past two days in the garage was kind of a dream come true, and I wanted more.

After a quick trip to the garage to get all the measurements of my left over pieces, I headed to the graph paper. After a few rough sketches and another cup of coffee, I headed back into the garage. Approximately an hour later I emerged with these.

I'm hoping these little guys will come in handy. I fashioned them together in such a way that they were meant to be versatile. 24" wide by 10" deep and 16" tall, these guys will fit on top of just about any desk or cabinet. The way they are built would also allow them to be hung straight from a wall. They are good for just about anything you can think of, books, bobbins, beer bottles. Whatever you need for your upcoming work day.

When I started this whole plan of revamping the work area I had no intention of coming up with this second set of shelves. I am really pleased with how much I got out of the one sheet of plywood with very little waste. And not to toot my own horn, I think they look pretty good too.

By the time I had managed to get these shelves to their finished state and up in her craft room it was about 3 pm. We had dinner plans at 4 so I needed to get cleaned up and out the door.

A little over 14 months ago a friend of mine had a little baby girl. Karlee is one of the sweetest little girls you will ever meet, but there has always been something wrong. She's had jaundice for months. They have gone to doctors all over the state and are now going to Boston to try and figure out what is causing her liver problems. Well they finally nailed it. The problem is, no one has ever seen it before. Their best solution is to give her a liver transplant.

They have all been through so much that some people decided to throw them a benefit supper. It was a donation at the door spaghetti feed with a 50/50 drawing, ticket/prize raffles and auctions galore. People and businesses really stepped up for this one. There were over 50 items donated for the silent auction. 2 dozen $25 gift cards donated for another raffle and at least 30 themed gift baskets donated for the basket raffle.

We tried to help out what we could by donating this little beauty to one of the basket raffles...

This basket consists of two of our bulky weight yarns dyed up in Autumnish colors and aptly named "Bushel". We also put in a brand new set of bamboo needles and the 'Harvest Wheat Scarf Pattern' that my wife designed herself. I won't lie..I sneaked a peek in the can to see how the response was to the basket...I was pleasantly surprised...sssshhhhh

The turn out was amazing. The dinner was held at the Brownville Elementary School in the gym and let's just say, it was probably a good thing the local fire marshal was attending as a dinner guest and not on business. They served a little over 400 meals and they estimated that there between 100-200 people came that just came to socialize and put in for the auctions, etc.

In a small town area where the two closest towns combined only equals about 3200, a 600+ turn out in my mind is extraordinary. When it was all said and done they raised just shy of $10,000 dollars for baby Karlee. A true testament of how small town life can step up, even when the world and the economy are going to hell. On that night I was proud to say I was born and raised in Brownville.

As I stated this week has been a roller coaster ride and a half. I would like to explain more but this post is already long enough. I will come back sometime in the next couple days and try to get everyone caught up on the happenings as well as the regular segments.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, folks!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Great Flood of 2011...

Actually it's a pretty minor flood. Some of the smaller streams and rivers are supposed to spill over from the inch and half of rain we are getting today. But, the rain is melting this @$#%$*! snow therefore it's GREATTTTT. Yay for springish like weather!!!

Let's just jump right into things shall we. Health wise I am still in a complete holding pattern. I still don't have any answers to anything and I still don't have any appointments booked with the cardiologist or the weight loss clinic. I know for a fact that both places have received my referrals so I'm not real sure what the hold up is.

Also, both my primary care doctor and my knee surgeon have reneged on their promises to write me letters of clearance to go back to work. The letter my knee surgeon sent to the mill is not what we discussed when I spoke to him. He maintains that it is and isn't willing to budge. The primary has decided she will not clear me until I meet with the cardiologist. I expected this to begin with. What upsets me is that she told me she would clear me and got my hopes up only to turn around and change her mind. At this point I don't know when I will be going back to work and it's looking like the knee surgery might have to get put on hold until next year.

I am on short term disability through my job. I am only allowed 26 weeks of disability a year. Right now I am already on week no. 6. I am afraid that by the time I meet with the cardiologist and figure things out with them and what may have to be done with my heart I will not have any time left for the knee surgery. I don't like the idea of this but right now there is absolutely nothing I can do. The mill isn't running to full capacity right now due to the economy and they certainly aren't willing to take any chances of bringing me back without clearance. I'm in a hurry up and wait kind of mood.

It's no big secret that I love wood working. My love of building things started at a young age being around my Grandfathers who were both master carpenters. Over the years I have built everything from cribbage and cutting boards to chairs, bird houses and book cases. I love working with my hands and there is a deep, deep satisfaction when you get to use something that you yourself made. We are into our third year of Highland Handmades and as it has grown it has slowly and unstoppably consumed our home. I give my wife quite a bit of grief about it but in all reality I don't really mind. She loves what she is doing and I have to fully admit, I enjoy it too.

on Wednesday as we were trying to get some packages put together and sent out it became all to apparent that our "work station" aka a desk, wasn't working at all. So being the completely bored out of my mind craftsman that I am, I devised a plan of building my wife a whole new work area.

After hemming and hawing for a few hours and trying to pry some ideas and opinions from my wife I came up with a plan. Thursday morning I made a flying trip to Home Depot with my trusty sidekick, Jax. We made it home about 11a.m. and I spent the next 5 hours toiling away in the garage. The end result is a 36" tall table that measures 24" deep and 84" long. It's built out of 2x4 frame work and topped with a 3/4" piece of cabinet grade plywood that is trimmed out in basswood. I have to admit that I am quite pleased with how it turned out. Today when I am done blogging I am headed back into the garage to try and fashion together a new set of shelves. Currently we have a set of the cheap aluminum ones which in all reality the sewing machine that is setting on them is too much weight.

When Heather has a moment (hopefully tonight or tomorrow) I am going to ask her to help me post some pictures on here of the two pieces. I would try to do it myself but the last time I tried posting pictures on here I damn near had a fit.

I do have more to say but since I will be posting again tomorrow I am going to cut this one a little short.

Have a great day folks

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The next edition

My life is changing.

It's happening in both the ways I have wanted and hadn't. There's not much I can do about the things I didn't want except to try to heal, fix and improve them for the future.

I've come to the realization that with these changes are permanent. Again some because they have to be, some because I want them to be.

I've tried hard never to take my life for granted. I admittedly fail at that sometimes. I can't anymore. I have known for a very long time that life can be snuffed out quickly and I think the last couple weeks has been a stark reminder of this.

I'm not trying to sound all down and depressed here, it's really quite the opposite.

I want to do more with my life. Do all the things I've dreamed of and go to the places, see the things, experience the experiences. That way whenever I do have to move on. I can do so saying I did things my way.

Part of the change I have decided is to open myself more to people. Share the things I experience and discover. So on that note, I give you the newest edition of "A Bear's Tale". Gone is the generic black theme and up comes something a lot more personal and something I love. I love maps, old, new it doesn't matter. I can sit there for hours and paw over them. I love seeing how things used to be a century or two ago and how they are now. I think it's kind of a fitting theme to my new outlook. Old changing to new.

You'll see I've also added a couple lists, which I will be updating regularly and may be adding more categories as things go on. Music is something I haven't really talked about much on here which is amazing because it is a huge part of my life. I have loved music for as long as I can remember. I listen to it every day, I used to play several instruments. I love the making of the instruments and everything about the whole industry in general. It's time I start passing a little of that love along. I'm also thinking about putting up a places to go and events list. What do you think?

I'm trying to make this place, my little blip of the internet more personal. Before it felt like just a blank canvas to throw out a few stories and updates. I want to make this place my online home. I want to make it feel more like me and not something everyone has.

We'll see if I can succeed in my new mission. I'm glad I've got you all here with me because it's definitely going to be an interesting ride.

Have you ever...

had that feeling that so much is going on and you're trying so hard to make sense of everything and what to do that when you think of it, you just feel tired?

That's kind of where I'm at. The last time we talked I had said how I had made the trip to the ER with the chest pains, etc. Well, over the last few weeks I have been put through a battery of blood tests, stress tests, imaging test and the works. So far what I know is that my blood pressure is running a little high. Nothing extreme but they have started me on a low dose of hypertension meds and a daily regiment of aspirin.

The second thing that I know is that there IS some damage done to my heart. After completing both a treadmill stress test and a nuclear dye/adrenaline test they have determined there is some damage from a past cardiac event even though my heart seems to be functioning as properly as it can at this point. I DO NOT know the extent of the damage or what might have caused the damage. It could have been a heart attack, a weak muscle, anything and I don't know. I am being sent to a cardiologist in the city and I don't even have the appointment date yet.

Right now I am beyond frustrated with my lack of knowledge. I have a doctors appointment in a week and half with my primary care and I'm hoping I'll get a few more answers then. Tuesday I met with my knee surgeon and we have both agreed that the surgery has to be put on hold until this whole mess can be cleared up. He doesn't want to take any extra chances since he is putting me in an extensive surgery for 4 to 5 hours which will be hard enough on my system to begin with.

He is adamant about the surgery, however. After talking it over with him there is no real other treatment route to go. He hates the idea of doing this extensive of a surgery because there are risks involved but as he put it "you've got a set of tires that are way out of alignment and have been for a long long time, sooner or later those tires are just going to blow and there's no repairing them at all". If we can repair my knee the way he wants to Now I should be good to go for a replacement later on down the road. If I don't do anything and suffer through it, he said the chances of doing anything in a few more years will be nil.

So I guess thats about enough of the health crap for now. The weight loss has been pretty much non existant since the heart issues started because I was told to do no strenuous activities except light walking and lets face facts. It's Maine. It's winter. It's -25 fucking degrees. I'm not walking. I have been gingerly riding the exercise bike but its not moving me forward just keeping me where I'm at which I guess is better than going up.

So what else has been going on? This past weekend Heather and I made our way down to Freeport to the first (that we know of) fiber/yarn show of the year. We weren't vending at this particular show, just going to check it out as neither of us had ever been. I was impressed with the venue and the amount of people that were there. We met up with some other vendors we had talked to and got to know at previous shows. It was fun catching up with our friends and it really got us geared up for the show season this year. Our first show isn't until May. Now we're trying to find one in April cause we just want to do it that badly.

Since we are on the subject of fiber and yarns, I have made a very big decision in my life. We, at some point in the future, are going to own a buffalo. Yes, you read that correctly. I said a buffalo. I have always loved and admired buffalos. There are a couple different buffalo/bison farms in the state which I have visited over the years just because I love watching them so. Well, it turns out that buffalo down is a very desirable fiber. It is all harvested very ethically which I love and when I found this all out I decided I wanted a pair of buffalo down mittens. Heather took to the task of finding some down and then we both said in unision "Holy Shit".

Buffalo down goes for on average $100 AN OUNCE. not a pound...not half a OUNCE. It takes roughly 4 ounces to do a pair of mittens. Now its understandable that you really don't get that much fiber from a buffalo in one shot because basically you just walk around picking up pieces that have shed off. It takes a while to collect enough worthy of spinning.

So we let the idea of the mittens go and after many days of pondering to myself I said that I would really love to own a buffalo one day. I got online and did some research and I found out that although they are huge animals and do require a little room they are quite easy to maintain and a lot more affordable than most people think. A heifer costs on average around $1200 and a bull costs around $1400.

I know I'm not very smart but it seems to me that in reality you should be able to recoup your costs of the animal within a year or two just on the fiber alone. I could be wrong. I think though, if we had the right piece of land with good grazing and watering capabilities a buffalo would sustain itself for the most part, and most of my research backs me up on this. So yes. I will own a buffalo. a big furry cuddly buffalo. and I will hug him and squeeze him and I will name him George.

So reading is a big part of my life. Ever since I was a wee lil one I always preferred books to toys. So I thought as a new addition to my blog I would start a little snippet about what I'm reading and what I think of it. If any of you who read this enjoy reading as much as I do (and yes, Heather this even means you), tell me about it. I love hearing about new books and am open to suggestions. Well except for really sappy romance novels, sorry guys I just can't do it.

So currently I am reading two series but for now we are going to stick with the one I have my nose in today. The series is the "King Raven" trilogy by Stephen R. Lawhead. What Lawhead has done has taken the Robin Hood legacy, flipped it upside down and made it all grown up for us big people. The books are aptly titled "Hood", "Scarlet", and "Tuck". Hood starts off the series with a young Welsh prince without a care in the world except attracting the attention of Merian. Normans have taken over England and are making conquest for Wales. His father the king is killed trying to save his land and the prince himself becomes the hunted as well. Almost killed after being captured by the Normans he is taken deep into the greenwood of Wales and brought back to life by what he deems an old witch. Towards the end of the book you start to see the formation of the hero but in a far different light. Also in this book you see how Lawhead has taken the classic characters of Little John and Friar Tuck and breathed a new life into them.

I am currently about half way through "Scarlet". I love it. I can't say enough how much I love it and how much I thouroughly enjoy the way that Lawhead writes. This book starts off with Will Scarlet in a Norman prison relaying his story to a priest of his adventures with the hood. I can say with all honesty, in the thousands of books I have read in my lifetime that I believe this Will Scarlet is my favorite character ever. As I read this book I can so clearly hear Will Scarlet's voice in my head it's like I'm sitting there in the prison listening in on the conversation. If you at all enjoy the idea or story of Robin Hood and you can keep an open mind, please, please, read this series. This is a stripped down, raw, taken back into the earth, natural version of Robin Hood.

Stephen Lawhead is very quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I began to read another one of his novels, The Skin Map, but quit halfway through since the next book isn't due out for atleast another 9 months. I'm the type that likes to read them bang bang boom style. From what I read however, I would recommend it as well.

I know this is a long post already but I need to keep with my commitment of sharing a little snippet or story of mine that brings back a happy memory. I know my wife loves this one so I'll put it out there for those of you who haven't heard it yet. I was a little bit of a hellraiser when I was younger. I always had a good time one way or another, usually at my own expense and other peoples amusement. If you dared me not to do something or told me I couldn't, I proved you wrong.

So one night I was in Bangor with my brother and a friend of ours. It was about 7:30pm and we were at McDonald's. It wasn't packed but there were a few people in there. As you probably know most McDonald's are nothing but plate glass windows on three sides and as we were walking out my friend dared me I wouldn't do a belly press on the glass. Now you got to remember..I weighed about 340 at the time. It took me about .5 seconds to decide and sure enough a guy half way through a bite of his mcchicken got a site I'm sure he still hasn't forgotten. I'll admit the glass was a bit cold and it was hot out so it left a nice ummm "outline" we'll call it on the glass. As we jumped in the car and sped off laughing we did a lap around the McD's to find that the outlines of my curvacious upper half were still dominantly steamed into the glass and the guy as well as a couple others looking at the window horrified.

The moral to this story? Don't eat at McDonald's...It's bad for your health any way you look at it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hoping for the best..

I haven't had too much positive to say in the last couple weeks. I've been feeling like all I do is rant when I write a blog post so this time I thought it would be better not to write anything at all. It's got to the point that I have to get a little bit off of my chest.

Two weeks ago I was riding the exercise bike, pushing it pretty hard. Afterwards I started getting mild pains in my upper left chest and a little bit in my neck. There was no numbness in my hands or jaw pain, nasuea, etc etc. So I let it go thinking I just over did it. I mean I have been sitting at home for 7 months this past year, I am completely out of shape. I went to bed that night and the next morning they were pretty well gone. This past Thursday as I was working around the house, I had to go up and down the stairs several times in a short period and they came back, not as bad as before but this time they stuck around. So Saturday night I wound up in the ER with mild chest and neck pains after my left forearm started cramping up a little bit. Of course with my size and family history everybody went on red alert that I was having a heart attack. Heather and I wound up sitting in the ER until 1 a.m. before they finally released me. They did a couple sets of blood tests which both came back fine and did two e.k.g.s. One came back fine and one came back with a slight abnormality. The doctor said it could very likely be benign because the bleep came off of only one lead or it could possibly be a sign of a past event.

When I am up moving around and doing stuff my blood pressure does get slightly elevated. When I first showed up Saturday night it was 136/93 and Monday at the doc's office it was 130/90. When I am at rest, it goes down to the point of even being low (at one point while laying in a room at the hospital it got down to 85/45. go figure). So at this point we are not sure what is going on. I had to go have more blood work done yesterday and they are scheduling me a stress test. The doctor did say she will most likely send me to see a cardiologist and then I will probably have to have the catheter of my heart. I have a bad feeling I'm not going to pass the stress test but I am actually looking forward to it. I want to see what kind of shape my heart is in and get to the bottom of this. There is too many risk factors in my family so this needs to be taken care of now.

Admittedly, there has been a fair amount of stress going on the last few weeks. I am hoping that between that, the pushing myself on the bike and just being out of shape is the problem and nothing major. If I have to get put on a blood pressure medication so be it.

My orthopedic surgeon is pushing for me to go to the weight loss clinic and look into a weight loss surgery. I'm starting to seriously consider doing just that. I always said I didn't want to do the surgery but I think my choices and time are running out. My heart has handled my weight well over the years but I think it's going to start catching up with me and when it does it will not be good. I have to call my insurance company and see if they will even cover a procedure.

I guess thats it for now. I've got to go gas up the snowblower 'cause we are expected to get another 6-12" tonight. yipee

Monday, January 17, 2011

Big trains keep on rolling...

I cannot tell a lie. This week pretty much sucked balls. big balls. It was sort of one of those weeks that if something could go wrong, it most certainly did. Somehow though I have managed to keep my mood and mentality on the upswing and I'm kind of in the "bring it on" mode. 

We'll start out with the beginning of the week. Actually we have to go back to last year and then we'll come back to this week. I currently own a 20+ year old snowblower. This snowblower and I, we butt heads..a lot. The thing is a beast, I can remember watching it pull my grandfather around the yard when I was a kid and now it gets just as much enjoyment out of doing it to me. I can't lie. The thing has been a stellar machine. With minimal work and my family putting it to the test year after year it's held on like a trooper. Last year, towards the end of the season I lost a couple of gears in the transmission (reverse and one of the lower gears) it's to be expected. The poor thing is only a few years younger than me and I've lost a couple of gears already too so I feel its pain. Losing reverse was the biggest issue. I live on a hill and sometimes walking all the way to the bottom or trying to turn around on the hill isn't always an option. I debated on putting the money into fixing it or just going and getting something new. Low and behold my godparents had a plow for their four wheeler that they weren't using anymore and they graciously gave it to me. So I spent my fall prepping the wheeler to get it ready for plowing (changing fluids, putting on new tires and fabricating a new mount plate for the plow itself).  

So now we fast forward to this week. We got hit by some snow..nothing to major, just 4-6". So I bundle up, go jump on the wheeler and vroooooom out the door at an exhilirating 3 mph pushing a plow width of snow down the length of the driveway. Now since I have a full plow width of snow to get rid of I have to push it further into the bank...So I drive her and push her and swear at her and just as I am happy, the winch quits on the plow and I'm stuck. So after a little swearing, kicking and name calling I manage to get the wheeler out and back in the garage. It appears the switch has gone to now that I have less than a quarter of the driveway done my means of clearing said driveway has gone kaput. I sit there idly pondering what forces really hate me when I spy the old snowblower sitting in the corner, beckoning me. "come and get me, come and get me, I dare ya, ya big chicken" it called out to me. Fine. So after a little more swearing, kicking and name calling I managed to free the blower from the confines of crap that I buried on top of it during the summer. She starts on the first pull, good. We make our first path down the driveway and once in the road out of curiousity I try the reverse. It works. W..T..F. I spent a month last season trying to get this stupid gear to work and all I got for my efforts was a lot of grinding. Now? it works seamlessly I finished up the whole driveway for that storm and one since with the old girl and it hasn't given me a lick of trouble...I think it's just trying to lull me into a false since of security. 

So now we get to this second storm on this week that came in on Wednesday. I think we managed to get about 8 inches overall. Thursday morning my wife leaves for work and I saunter online to do my morning ritual while enjoying my coffee. The phone rings. As soon as I hear my phone go off I instantly know what has happened. I answer it to find a hysterical wife on the other end. She has had an accident. Because of some jack ass coming towards her in her lane the car has gone down over a 12 ft bank and come to rest in some trees. Thankfully she is fine. The guy in the truck that caused her to crash never even stopped to check on her. She is sore and a little banged up but otherwise fine.I call a buddy of mine who is our mechanic and also the local tow truck driver. After he, a friend of ours who lives up the street, and two cops show up, we shut down the whole road for the process of getting the car up the embankment. It was a little hairy there for a few minutes but overall he did an excellent job.  The car has some damage but in my opinion nothing to consider it totaled. I am going today to try and get a couple of estimates and wait for the insurance adjuster to show up tomorrow. I'm just thankful Heather is ok. She was scared I was going to be mad or blame her. I'm an ass but not that much of an ass...however, if I do ever find out who it was that caused her to go off the road, we might just find out how much of an asshole I can be. I've yet to go to jail...I've heard its a nice place. 

So now we get to Friday. Heather has gone to work, I'm sitting online waiting for my father in law to show up when my god sister sends me a message on face book. Dad is in the hospital, they think he has had a set of mini strokes and they think a couple of his arteries are blocked. This sent me a little over the edge. My god parents are basically the only family I have left. My real dad died when I was 9. Darrell has raised me. He's been the only father figure I have ever known because even when my dad was alive, he wasn't around much. There has been the joke for decades that Darrell is  my real dad and if you looked at us, you might actually believe it. Hell if I didn't look just like my birth father in the eyes, I'D believe it.

The problem with both of my fathers is they didn't/don't take good care of themselves. They didn't/don't go to the doctors when they should and even when they do go to the docs, they didn't get the help they should have. This is kind of like re-living everything from 17 years ago. On Wednesday he is having heart surgery at Eastern Maine Medical Center which is closer to me then where he lives. I already know I'll be at that hospital all day. I know my god mother can handle it but my sister is going to be a wreck, even if she says shes won't be. Please guys, keep your fingers crossed for him and as selfish as this sounds, for me.  

Now we get to the weight stuff, seeing is that is my goal of blogging about the weight once a week. Last week wasn't very good. Between everything going on and both my knees being kind of sore, I didn't count my calories the way I should have and didn't exercise the amount I needed too. On Thursday I was back up to 321. A lot of this was fluid weight because I had managed to drink a couple beers, a soda or two and a lot of coffee. I flushed my system with a few glasses of water and made a couple dozen trips to the bathroom and I was back where I was supposed to be on Saturday. I managed to get in some much needed exercise this weekend and I am happy to report that I am down to 317.8. Now, if you want to get really technical I missed my goal of 2.5 lbs a week because the starting weight of the week was 319.2. However, where I have only been dieting for two weeks and my original weight at the dr's office was 325.6...I have lost 7.8 lbs and therefore TECHNICALLY I am ahead of schedule....So I'm safe....That's my reasoning and I'm sticking to it. 

I love my dog. As much frustration as he brings me on a daily basis for getting into things he shouldn't be and barking at every noise, I love him. I forget some days he's still a puppy at heart and there are a lot of things in this big wide world he hasn't seen. The other day while we went for our walk. Our walk takes across a set of railroad tracks. Jax has never seen a train, until Saturday. The dog went ballistic, his tail damned near beat me to death, he was bouncing all over the road, and enjoyed a rousing game of, bark at that strange man standing on the giant metal box. All he wanted to do was play with that giant motorized toy and the guy riding on it. He wouldn't move until it was around the bend and out of site,  fussing and whining as it chugged out of site. I love my dog 

Monday, January 10, 2011

This weeks numbers are....

So I have come up with a goal, not necessarily a resolution, but a goal to try and blog at least once a week. If it is for nothing else it will be to record my weight loss goals, practices and results. I'm hoping by doing this much it will encourage me to continue on writing about what is going on in my life. I've always have something to say, but every time I try to sit down to write it out I lock up and my fingers won't move. This is frustrating beyond belief. All my life I have used written words to express myself.

In person I am pretty much a quiet guy, much to the dismay of my wife. I like to sit back and observe what is going on in life and in  the world. It has been said that if you were to walk into a bar I'd be the biggest guy you'd never see. I have a way of fading into the back and dissolving into the landscape. I'm quite fine with that. I've always had my avenues of speaking out. The last couple of years those avenues have seemed to shut off. I have a hard time writing blogs. I haven't written a poem in I don't know how long. Enough is enough. Time to get the lead, er, keys out...

So the numbers for this week are...6.6 lbs. I am ecstatic about this! I know a lot of this is just soda weight coming off. When you have such an affection for Mt. Dew like I do, it tends to become a part of you..literally......I quit cold turkey on Jan 2nd and have done quite well all things considering. I did make the amendment that if I were to go out to dinner I would be allowed a soda. I admit I took full advantage of that Thursday night when we went out to dinner with my father in law.

So, Axing the soda was the first step. That saved me anywhere (depending on how bored I was sitting at home) from 180 to 800 calories a day (Sometimes those 2 liter bottles just seem to disappear). I will say that most days I drank one to two cans (180-360 cal.) so over the course of a week, even on the low end I just saved myself 1260 calories. whoooo baby. 

I have been cutting back on my portions as much as I feel I can for now.  I might try squeaking out a bit more later on. The dietitian I saw a couple months ago said that my portions and calories are quite average to a normal person. She said on average I eat about 2300 calories a day. From what I was told, for a person doing the type of physical labor that I do is quite low and is honestly acceptable. She did say that it would be much easier to lose weight if I did get to 2000 or under.

So that is the intake side of things, but what about the output. I have been trying to ride our recumbent bike every day (You can hear other horror stories of this bike on my wife's blog). I ride it for as much as I dare to push it with my knee. Usually this is around 300 calories. I've also been trying to walk the dog more often. Again, the length of the walk is based on my knee. Well, that and how cold it is considering IT IS winter in Maine. Friday we managed to go for a walk that was about 1.75 miles round trip. I'm really pleased that we are making it that far. It really does bode well for me as well as the dog. He's burning off some extra energy and weight as well. It's a good thing the whole way around.  I am going to just keep on keeping on and hoping that this trend will continue. 

I am still at home, not working. The doctor has told me I can go back on light duty but everything has to be cleared from the worker's comp insurance. I am under the restrictions of minimal standing, walking, and definitely climbing. If the mill reports to the insurance company that they don't have anything that I can do, I am stuck at home until god knows when. The boss did say he was looking for work for me but he was concerned by the restrictions as well as the fact that business is pretty slow right now. Keep your fingers crossed folks.  I'm about to pull a "Heeeeeereee's Johnny" if I don't get out of this house before long. 

I've got a couple things to finish this post up with and then we'll call it quits. First, I again have to say thank you to my wife for letting me steal her phone upgrade. I am hard on phones. Between working hard and playing hard a phone does quite well to last me a year. The phone I just currently had was dying a slow and pitiful death. It had been a trooper but it's lights were fading, literally. The hiccup was I was not eligible for a new phone until May, so my wife let me steal her upgrade and got me a brand spankin' new Samsung that is pretty much a twin to a blackberry. I love it. So far, in the house, it has the best cell service we've ever had. I'm impressed, and that my friends, takes a lot.

Secondly, don't hate me for the cliche line that is about to come out of my fingers. It's the small things in life that counts. Well folks, it's true. I have traveled all over this contintent, met a million people, done things most people will never do and I've got to say, it really is the small things that count. So at the end of all my posts from now on, I'm going to try and share a little tid bit of my life. It might be from twenty years ago or from yesterday. For today though, I want to share this.... 

Every thought, feeling, or memory is but a rain drop in a pond or a leaf in a forest. Each time we swim in it or walk its paths, it draws forth an emotion. Happiness, sadness, humor, tranquility. Every towering trunk that we pass is a story, a tale of our yesterdays, covered with little slivers of our inner self laying bare for all the world to see. We must use these sentinels as our landmarks, our maps of past journeys. Learn them well because to walk forward you must first look backwards. The past cannot hurt your future. It is to be learned from so that when we do move on, we do so with a deeper knowledge and a better since of direction. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A little bit of this, a little bit of that...

So I know the last few posts I have been some what of a downer. I'm sorry. I really need to start writing some more fun and uplifting posts. I know I have it in me I've just got to dig out the Bear side of me and put away the starkingly realistic side. Unfortunately there will be a little bit more of that in this post, but I promise I will try to make most of this a little more upbeat. 

I've made some decisions regarding the knee surgery. The decision right now is to put it off for approx. 4 months. When I left the Spidey's office the other day he scheduled me in for March 1st but told me if I wanted to I could make an appointment earlier to get things started sooner. I think for now we are going to stick with the March 1st appointment and here is why. 1) I'm fat. I'm not being self degrading or anything of the such, it's just pure fact. I am obese. I've always been big, ever since I was about 3 I've been a little bit above average. When I was in high school going through everything I was going through, I learned beer and whiskey were my friends. That and for whatever other reasons my weight went to a whopping 450 lbs. As of this morning I weigh 320 lbs.  Before I went in for my surgery this spring I was down to 278, but after sitting at home for a total of 6 months this year not being able to get around and do much because of my knee, my weight has skyrocketed. Spidey is willing to do the surgery at this weight but he has expressed concern not only in the recovery aspects but as well as the anaesthesia. He told me once I gave him the go ahead to book the surgery it would probably take at least 1.5 months - 2 months to book the O.R. so therefore I get the 4 months I need to shed as much weight as possible. Because of this my weight has become my No. 1 resolution this year. My goal is to lose a minimum of 2.5 lbs a week. If I can do this it will put me near the weight I was of the first surgery. Obviously if I can manage to lose more, that would be spectacular. I am trying to keep my goals realistic, however.  

The other determining factor in the delaying of the surgery is financial. After crunching the numbers so much that I became temporarily dyslexic I've determined right now it's just not do-able. I know 4 months isn't a lot of time to make a big financial impact on anything but I do believe we have come up with a plan that will make enough of an impact to make it an easier pill to swallow. Here's to keeping our fingers crossed that we stick to our guns.

The surgery has to happen. As Heather said in her blog, it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. I need the surgery. I've come to terms with that part of it. I'm slowly..very slowly coming to terms with the idea of putting the plate in my leg and how it will affect my life. 

One thing that I'm finding a little heart breaking is having to bail on my birthday goal. In early November I had decided to set a goal to get to 240 lbs by my birthday on August 29th so that I could go skydiving in September. Skydiving is something I've wanted to do for as long as I could remember. I finally had made the resolve to do it. Amazingly I had 4 friends offer their moral support and agree to jump with me if I could lose the weight. That was really slap in the face of reality. It made me realize just how lucky I am to have the friends that I do. I mean, really, do you have friends that would agree to jump out of plane for you without even giving it a literal minute of thought? I still want to do the jump but I think we're going to have to postpone it for a year.

So that is that about the knee. Things may change but for right now that is the tentative plan. 

How were your holidays? Mine were great. The one upside of being home with an injury is that I get to spend a little more time with friends, family and my wife. I was able to make some rounds the few days before Christmas and catch up. Something I haven't been able to do the last few years. We went to my Aunt and Uncle's Christmas eve afternoon and enjoyed a couple hours over there. I think the best time was the hour long nerf gun war we got into with my nephew. It's been quite a while since I've had that much fun.  I'm not a big one for receiving gifts but I've got to admit, Heather knocked it out of the park this year. We have a long standing tradition of opening a gift on Christmas Eve and this year she gave me Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii. It's awesome. My brother came over that night and the three of us stayed up til about midnight playing it. It was about the best Christmas eve you could ask for. 

She also got me the entire Harry Potter book series, I love the movies but I have never found the chance to read the books so it was an excellent gift. She got me the new Trans-Siberian Orchestra cd which kicks ass, as well as a new work light for the garage. Finally she surprised me with a photographers gift pass to the Maine Wildlife Park. The Maine Wildlife Park is basically what it sounds like, you can check it out here The photographers pass is a special permit where a guide takes you around before or after hours and actually takes you in the enclosures with the animals so you can get unimpeded photos. My brother has graciously agreed to let me borrow his digital SLR camera for the shoot. I am super psyched about this gift.  My in laws also bought me a gorgeous New England Patriots hoody and my brother in law and sister in law bought me Cabelas' Dangerous Hunts 2011 for the wii. I made out like a bandit this year!

New Year's eve went pretty similarly to Christmas Eve. Lot's of Wii. It was quiet with a couple beers. Even though Heather suffered a migraine later in the night overall it was a good time. 

So, now that the subject of New Year's has been brought up, I guess it's time for some resolutions. 

My resolutions this year really aren't all that creative. I'm stealing most of them from the list I posted earlier last year. I'm definitely willing to add things as I go through the year but here's what I have so far. 

1) the weight thing. it's kind of a needed thing obviously

2) Take my nephew out for another day. I took him out to McDonald's and to see Iron Man 2 this summer. It wasn't much but he said it was awesome. Maybe this year we can do something a little more

3) Go to the Penobscot Observatory. My sister and I almost went this past fall. If it hadn't been for an hour long wait to get in we would have. This year it's a must. Get ready, sis.

4) Get lost. I'm going to be home for 6 months. I think, just maybe I can find some time to go for a ride and try to get lost. If I can somehow just lose my uncanny sense of direction I'll be all set

5) Go camping at least 3 times. Again, I'm going to have some time recovering. I should be able to devote some of it to sitting around a campfire getting eaten alive by mosquitos. 

6) Read. Read. Read. I have 17 books on the waiting list to be read. That's not including some of the classic lit that I want to delve into.  I don't think I will get all 17 read this year so my goal is going to be 14. 

7) Write the third chapter of Heather's story. It's been a few years since I wrote 'There Be Beasties' and I think she deserves the next step. 

For now that is it I guess. If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to leave me comments. I'm always up for ideas for resolutions or opinions. If you have anything, Spit it out!

See ya folks

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year.

I want and have to start this post off by wishing everyone a Happy New Year. I hope this year we'll meet you with good graces and that the next 365 days will bring you good health and good fortunes. May we keep our resolutions and say good bye to the year of 2010 that has haunted many of us. 

That being said. Lets get down to business shall we. Between facebook, e-mail, my wife's blog and my own you know that I fell at the beginning of December at work and injured my already bad knee. It has also been said in the past that the idea of surgery had been thrown around quite abit prior to this newest injury. Well, I met with the surgeon. 

On Thursday afternoon I met with the new ortho specialist. For now and future reference we are going to call him Spidey. In my research of him I have learned that he is one of if not the best ortho surgeon in Maine. From what I've heard and seen of his credentials and clientele, my estimation is that I'm in good hands. So I meet with Spidey and I like him, he seems to me like the right mix of business and personal. I want a doctor who makes me feel comfortable but at the same time makes me feel like he knows what the hell he is talking about. As he is going over my chart he sends me in for a set of xrays in his office. So when I finally get back we spend the next 45 minutes going over everything he has in my folder along with the new set of scans. To put it bluntly he's worried. He's never seen someone my age with a knee that is as messed up as mine is. So we go over the options. I don't like what I hear.

He is proposing what he even calls a "very serious surgery". The procedure is going to take 4 hours in the O.R. followed by a minimum 6 month recovery. In his words, "You're going to go through hell". The procedure is basically this, he wants to lay open my leg. Spidey wants to go in, completely disconnect my knee cap, take a good size chunk out of my tibia (shin bone) an inch or so below the knee join and then try to reattach my knee cap so that it will set where it is supposed to and STAY there. But that's not all folks, oh no, that's not even the fun part. He then wants to go a couple inches Above the knee join on my femur and break it. He wants to break my thigh bone, spread it open so that my leg is straight. He then wants to attach a metal plate and screw it in a few times so hopefully it will take to the bone. That is just what he has planned so far. He said he can already see some arthritus building up again so I don't know if he wants to try to clean that out or not. I know for a fact I have a new tear in the miniscus and I imagine he will try  to repair that since he will be in there anyway.

Most of this was done on my own though. Spidey said the new miniscus tear was from the fall at work and the fall definitely did not help the prior problems. So as much as I didn't want to screw my company anyways, most of this financial burden will fall on us. To me, right now, that is the major problem. The thought of this surgery turns my stomach. The idea of putting a plate in my leg doesn't set will with me. I understand though, that if I want to get better this is what needs to be done. The problem is I don't know if it can be. As everyone in the world knows the economy sucks. Money is tight for everyone. At this point I don't even know if this kind of surgery and recovery is financially possible for us. I can get short term disability through my work but I lose almost $125 dollars a week compared to my normal paycheck. I just don't know...

So that is where I am at right now. I already have some New Year's resolutions but right now I just can't get them on here. Maybe later today I'll see what I can do but for right now I need to walk away.