Friday, December 18, 2009

How school stole christmas...

I used to really like Christmas. Five years ago when we first bought our house and I wasn't in school I went crazy buying decorations and covering every inch of our house in festiveness. Since then, it's always a struggle. If school got out around the beginning of the month I could rally and it would be fine. Unfortunately, I tend to be done with school around the 18th of the month, at which point I am completely exhausted, my house is a total mess, and I have not done a single thing to get ready for Christmas. I really want to like Christmas, but I liken it to getting invited to Disneyland when you have the stomach flu-- any other time it would be really fun, but it's just hard to enjoy it when you aren't feeling up to it.

This is where I find myself today. I am so tired I can barely move, my house is a mess and I haven't bought a single gift. I did try very hard to go shop for at least Marc's family this morning, since we are celebrating Christmas with them this Sunday. I went to four stores looking for the sweatshirt Marc wants and did not find it, nor did I find the airpopper his sister wants. By that time I was nearly delirious in my exhaustion and came home to lay on the couch and recuperate before I do more errands.

I really want to send Christmas cards, reorganize my entire house, put up the tree, find the perfect gift for everyone and do lots of baking-- but right now I don't have the energy for any of it, which is terribly frustrating. Last year I didn't decorate for Christmas at all-- I was too tired and thought, well we are going to Oregon for Christmas anyway-- but we ended up being home due to the snow with no tree and we felt like we missed Christmas entirely. Somehow I need to find the energy but it's not going to be today.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Not exactly low-maintenance: why I'm not a typical Seattle girl

I have been pondering lately why it is that Seattle girls are so frequently low-maintenance. The stereotypical Seattle girl wears jeans, super comfy if somewhat ugly shoes, Northface or similar jacket and not a stitch of makeup. In my rotations the past couple of weeks I saw a lot of women wearing very (suprisingly) stylish, work appropriate clothing, had good hair, but still not even a swipe of mascara. This phenomenon fascinates me. One of my friends from grad school (who is originally from the East Coast but has lived a number of years in Seattle) said she thought I was probably from the East Coast when she first met me because I didn't look like a Seattleite.

I was getting into my mom's makeup when I was very little (though she's never worn much makeup either so I don't really get it from her). From the time I was in 6th grade I have worn makeup almost every day of my life. I've gotten better as there was a time I didn't go anywhere except the gym without at least mascara. I admit I have applied makeup in a campground bathroom, worn it hiking, skiing, to the beach etc. now I will often run weekend errands to the grocery store, library etc without it, and skip it for the beach but that's about it. In the summer when I'm a little tan, I do wear significantly less makeup (it melts!) but I still do at least mascara and lip gloss, and most days a lot more. I probably apply 9 or 10 things to my face in the morning. I use mostly natural mineral makeup and except for my mascara I try to avoid parabens and other chemicals (I can't find an acceptable natural substitute for Diorshow mascara, sorry.)

It's not that I think I look horrible without it, but wearing it is so much a part of who I am I feel uncomfortably naked not wearing it. It's like a fun art project every morning I get to wear, and as a bonus it makes me look better. I love hanging around in Sephora playing with all the fun toys they have in there. Now that I think about it other women must be wearing makeup since Sephora hasn't gone out of business, but I don't see these people often. Only one of my childhood girlfriends regularly wears makeup-- everyone else will maybe wear it to a wedding or similar event.

I do feel a little weird sometimes being the only woman in the room with a full face of makeup. I was sitting in rounds at SCCA this week and looking around the room full of doctors, physician assistants, nurses and dietitians and not a one had even mascara on. No one I saw in a full day at UW Medical Center appeared to have any on either. It gets to be like wearing a cocktail dress and finding everyone else at the party is wearing jeans.

This phenomenon is very much a Pacific Northwest thing. When I went to college in Southern California I had the shock of my life when girls in my dorm got up really early to do their hair and put on tiny outfits before their 7am classes. I didn't really fit in there either-- I wore jeans and t-shirts every where instead of short skirts and heels. San Diego was bad enough-- I can't describe to you the extreme grooming practices of women in Los Angeles. The older women get the more they seem to be going for a plastic Barbie appearance, so I know it can go too far.

I'm not judging my fellow Seattle girls-- I know they could no sooner be comfortable wearing makeup every day than I would be not wearing it, I just wonder why we have this cultural phenomemon, and how I missed the memo when I was 12? Is it the rain? The outdoorsy activities? Water proof mascara does exist! Someone explain it to me.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Relax and Reload

It is SOOOO nice to be home again. Last Friday I packed up my car, washed sheets, cleaned bathrooms and left my temporary home for the last time this year. Over the weekend I worked 16 hours at Ski Fever handing out Larabar samples. It was a pretty boring event-- we were told to expect 30,000 people and there couldn't have been more than 4,000. It turned out to be a great event for me as I got to chatting with the Chiropractor's office that was stationed next to us. As it turns out their office is thinking of bringing on a Nutritionist a couple days a week. Long story short, we hit it off and I went to the office last Wednesday to see the space and to get to know them a little better. Some time next year I may be setting up private practice in Kirkland-- I'll keep you posted!

Almost immediately after my meeting Wednesday I came down with a cold. Amazingly I went about 12 weeks working in medical settings around very sick people and I finally got sick sitting at home by myself (actually, I probably picked it up at Ski Fever). I fortunately did not seem to have the flu, and just spent a few days with a cold. As always when I get sick it started in my lungs-- ever since I had bronchitis a few years ago every illness settles there. We spent Thanksgiving with Marc's family, which was fun, though exhausting for me since I was not feeling well. I had to cancel doing product demos and dinner with an old friend on Saturday. I spent Friday and Saturday laying on the couch in sweatpants watching movies and bad TV (don't the networks know people are at home the day after Thanksgiving?! There was nothing on!) I'm feeling mostly better today and excited for my rotation this week at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. I get to sleep in my own bed, carpool with Marc and learn about oncology-- a perfect two weeks for sure!

Above are my silly girls-- they are difficult as always to capture because they move faster than my camera. I guess I need a high speed lens...

Friday, November 13, 2009

The return of Fatigue

During grad school, off and on I would be sidled with deep fatigue that felt as if I was exhausted all the way to by bones. It came and went and treatment for both anemia and adrenal fatigue helped to eradicate it. Now it is back. Not all of the time, but some days, especially when I get a minute to hold still it returns. Wednesday I had the day off and had plans to get a great deal of work done on a presentation I have to do next week. I was fairly unproductive and felt like I could barely move much of the day-- yet yesterday I was buzzing around the hospital as if it had never happened. I also had beef for dinner and leftovers for lunch yesterday, making it murky as to whether I'm iron deficient or my adrenals are suffering.

The case for anemia: last year when I was anemic I took iron for two months and when my ferritin got just barely in the normal range (normal is between 15-150 or 200 depending on the lab-- mine started at 7 and went up to 35) my doctor said I should stop taking iron. Taking it made me feel immediately better, which the doctor said couldn't be due to the iron (apparently taking iron doesn't make you feel better right away). I think that when there is a range that is so huge for "normal" that maybe being just barely in the normal range is not going to work for every one. Plus, I have not been eating much iron lately (we have beef maybe once every other week, mainly because it is both expensive and because I don't have time to go to PCC very often and I refuse to eat it if it isn't grass fed), and being a girl, I lose iron.

The case for adrenal fatigue: I am not anywhere near as stressed doing this internship as I was in grad school, except that this fatigue started right after my two weeks in ICU hell, which consisted of very little sleep and a lot of stress. I also have been drinking coffee every day, and now I'm drinking it on the weekends too because avoiding it gives me a terrible headache and I don't have time to detox off it right now. Not so good for the adrenals.

So for now, I'm taking my adrenal support, taking iron and trying not to over do it. The fatigue is annoyingly getting in the way of me being consistent working out-- last week in honor of my birthday I went to the gym 5 days (it helped that my rotation didn't start until 9am so I could go in the morning). This week I've been too tired when I've had time.

The other thing that's weird about this term is I somehow, effortlessly learned portion control. I can not eat more than a small portion at a time, even of sweet things which have always been my achilles heel. The only thing I can think of, is that at the very beginning of the semester and again during ICU I was so stressed I lost my appetite entirely and it shrunk my stomach. At any rate I'm definitely not complaining.

I also have been having flare-ups of my TMJ, which usually rarely bothers me. Last night after a tense drive home I took an aleve and spent the evening holding ice to my face. If I had real health insurance I'd see a doctor, but since I don't I'm going to have to figure something else out. It is definitely tension related though.

I've been home more than away this week, which made for some stressful drives. I had Wednesday off and today class was cancelled, so I drove both ways to the hospital yesterday-- I'm so glad I don't do that every day! Three hours in the car is exhausting! After next week I move home, maybe for good, but at least until January-- I'm still not sure where my rotations will be next semester.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Older and wiser

Tomorrow is my 30th birthday. I've been trying to pin down for a few weeks now how I feel about this, searching the corners of my psyche for an impending breakdown, but finding...nothing. I am at peace with this transition in my life. I know that birthdays that end in zero are often traumatic for people, reminding them perhaps of their own mortality and of time passing. Besides, as my husband pointed out to me, you either get older or you die, so given the choice, getting older is good!

The year I turned 25 my dad turned 50 and we jokingly agreed that we would stay those respective ages. When I turned 27 I did have a mini freak out, because in my mind I was 25 for two years, so when I hit 27 I felt as though I had missed a year. Though I facetiously invited people to my 5th annual 25th birthday party last year, I learned from that experience to own my age and live in the moment, rather than to try and hold on to time gone by, because you miss things in the moment when you are holding on to the past.

In some ways it is a tremendous relief to enter my thirties. I was never a very typical twenty something-- I have been married since 6 weeks after my 21st birthday. I worked multiple jobs through college, rarely went out, am not much of a drinker and would rather hang out with friends at home than in a crowded bar. I always kind of felt like something was wrong with me and I somehow could not quite identify with my peer group on this level. Now I am entering a decade of my life where many of my friends are in the swing of their careers and starting to have children and I feel like my life goals are more in line with those of my peers. In some ways the struggle of my twenties through college and grad school have all lead up to this moment. In six months I will finally be done with higher education and can at last GET ON WITH IT and get a job, start a career and have babies.

****Yes!!!-- I am looking forward to my 30s. *****

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Still here

I haven't been doing a very good job at keeping up this blog, I think mainly because all the internship stuff goes on my other blog and I don't have much of a life otherwise, so there isn't much to say! I seem to have found some semblance of balance with my eating, though still I'm not getting enough exercise, mainly because I'm way too tired.

During the week I have been eating very well. I stopped bringing anything with sugar in it with me, and since there are no grocery stores near by I really only eat what I bring. I usually eat a hard boiled egg or two, a banana and coffee or tea in the morning-- usually I can't quite manage to get down two eggs but I try. (I used to always be a breakfast person and now I have trouble-- I guess because I used to eat breakfast when I got to class at 9 or 10 and now I'm eating before 8). Lunch for the past several weeks has been chicken chili over spinach. Last week when I was stressed into no appetite from my horrific ICU rotation I was only eating maybe 3/4 of a cup of chili but this week I'm more hungry so a little more. For dinner every day I have chicken salad and half a yam, or occasionally just chicken yam and cooked greens. I eat a ridiculous amount of larabars (3 sometimes 4 of the sample size ones in a day is not uncommon, never less than two) and usually grapes and half an apple during the day. Once or twice a week I get a soymilk latte at Starbucks. That's it-- I have no other options (well, okay, today I did eat popcorn but that's not the norm and it upset my stomach just like it always does).

I am not sure if I am just tired from stress-- which seems unlikely since this week I have nothing to do, or if perhaps my anemia has returned. Maybe a few days of iron would be helpful-- I have been pretty faithfully taking my multivitamin, but it does not contain iron. I'm thinking next week when the time changes I might try to work out in the morning, since it won't seem like I'm getting up earlier, but we'll see how that goes given that I am not really a morning person. Lately I seem to get to the gym once, maybe twice if I'm lucky in a week. I need to do better-- I'm feeling quite out of shape.

Oh, and then there's the weekend food-- after all that ridiculous perfection all week, I go home and eat lots of gluten free pasta, chocolate cake and other not so good things-- but I actually have lost a couple pounds and my clothes fit better so it doesn't seem to be hurting anything. I have been actually doing a very good job of eating just until I'm full and then stopping without over eating. Getting protein at every meal and much less sugar has helped a lot with that.

Emotionally the whole not living at home with my husband situation is getting pretty old. I have less than four weeks to go until I get to move home and it can't come soon enough. I am extremely lucky to get to live so close to my rotations with a very lovely person, but it's still not the same as living in my own house with my best buddy and my chickens. The only thing I will say, is it has definitely reminded us not to take each other for granted, because our time together is precious.

Five out of seven chickens are laying eggs now. Strangely the two younger ones started laying before two of their big sisters. Roxie is such a greedy girl that if you don't have treats for her when you go outside she'll jump up and nip your fingers. She also will come running the minute you get into her sight and will follow you all over the yard until she finally decides you really don't have food. It's very funny and completely exasperating at the same time. I think it is this desperate search for the best food that makes the yolks of her eggs the darkest and richest orange.

Skittles still insists on trying to sleep in the tree every night. Last Saturday it was absolutely pouring outside and pitch dark. I was making dinner when we suddenly realized we hadn't put the chickens away. Marc went out in the rain to find only Skittles in the tree, her friends having deserted her for the dry chicken house. So stubborn! Normally four of the five older chickens end up in the tree at night when they are let out of their pen and we have to retrieve them every time. Olive stays in the house with the younger two because she is too little to fly that far. The youngest two are by far the fattest and biggest now and I doubt they could fly that far if they wanted, but they never seem to want to anyway.

That's about all that's going on with me-- I drive home every Friday, do absolutely nothing except cook and eat until Sunday morning and then frantically do laundry and cook for the following week. Not the most glamorous of lives, but there you have it. A week from tomorrow is my 30th birthday and I have not a clue how to commemorate it. I might very well spend it sitting on my couch eating cake.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


This was a weird week. Last Sunday I stayed home instead of driving down to Dupont, which meant I had to get up at 4:30 in the morning on Monday in order to get to the hospital on time because I had to drop my food and stuff off at the house before I went to work, as well as get dressed since all my work clothes are down there. I was a little brain dead Monday and then it took two more days to get back to normal. It was really nice having Sunday evening at home though.

I was really tired last weekend and couldn't motivate myself to cook, so I had organic chicken chili from a can every day for lunch this week. I am getting tired of eating the same thing every day (some kind of soup for lunch, chicken, salad and a starch for dinner) but my schedule is about to get more crazy, so I definitely am not going to have time for cooking. The next two weeks I'm going to have to be at the hospital at 7am instead of 8 for ICU rounds, and the two weeks after that I'm driving to Chehalis, Aberdeen or Lacey for Renal rotation (depending on the day)-- about an hour each way on average (Lacey's not so far but the other two are).

In chicken news, the "little kids" are now giant chickens much bigger than the other five. We got one mystery egg this week-- it was kind of light tan/pinkish and we aren't sure who laid it. That's the first new egg we've had, despite the fact the three who are laying have been at it for over a month.

The biggest news-- Marc's dad came home at last yesterday. Due to his surgical wounds the doctor did not want him to fly (apparently if the cabin loses pressure that is very bad) so Marc's mom went down and brought him back on the train, and we went to pick them up. We had a flash of what he will look like in 20 years-- he lost so much weight in the hospital the skin on his face looks slack and loose, and he is still very weak from laying in a bed for 5 weeks and needs a cane for support. We took him home and talked about the importance of protein for healing. He is also anemic and the dietitian at the hospital told him to eat red meat (which they haven't eaten for years and years) so I suggested grass fed beef, which I am off to PCC shortly to fetch for them. I calculated his protein needs and made suggestions for ways to meet them. Then I went through all his medications and we discussed whether he should go back on his blood pressure and cholesterol lowering meds, which were not mentioned at the hospital. I encouraged him to see his doctor right away to discuss those, because especially with the blood pressure meds, not knowing where his blood pressure is right now, taking those could cause him to pass out if he doesn't need them, and he does not need that now. We got him as set up as best we could before we left. A home health nurse was due to come this morning and dress his wounds, so he's in good hands. It's comforting to know he's at home in his own bed instead of 1200 miles away in a hospital. *Note-- the hospital sent home copies of his medical chart and I was unpleasantly suprised. It seems they do every thing by hand, which means that 99% of the chart was completely illegible. The RD had neat handwriting so I could read her notes, but they definitely were not as detailed as the ones we write at Madigan. This is reason enough to type chart notes-- I hope they have very good oral communication and never get sued, because I can't see how you would be able to tell what is going on with a patient by looking at these chicken scratches!

I'm two weeks out from my mid-term, with a ton of vocabulary and reading to review before my ICU rotation begins this week, and all I want to do is watch movies and be lazy-- I don't think that's going to happen.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Why Sundays Suck

Another whirlwind weekend ended too soon. Not even enough time to come up with a decent picture for this post! Friday night I arrived home excited to see Marc-- unfortunately he was absolutely exhausted after a week of long days and early mornings at work and fell asleep very early. I stayed up late catching up on Greys Anatomy and feeling sorry for myself.

Saturday morning I had my first ever facial-- it was amazing and way better than any massage I've ever had. I got a shoulder massage (where 90% of my tension goes) plus glorious hot towels put on my face and lots of lovely moisturizing creams rubbed into my skin, all of which left me soft and glowing. I'm definitely going to be doing that again!

I picked up Marc from playing football with some of his grad-school friends, and we dashed home to change and head back to Seattle for my friend Erik's wedding. I've known Erik since 8th grade, and in fact he was my very first boyfriend when we were both 14. It was wonderful to see him so happy, and great to see old friends. I would have liked to stay longer, but with never enough time in the weekend, Marc and I left the reception not long after the cake was cut and went home to watch movies and have quiet time together.

Too soon Sunday had rolled around again. I am coming to hate Sundays. We spent the morning doing errands, going to the grocery store, buying grass seed to try and keep our hateful lawn from dying completely, the post office and the library. I spent the rest of the afternoon making pea soup and chicken breasts, chopping vegetables and preparing for the week with breaks to to laundry and pick tomatoes from my garden. I planned on leaving at about seven to head back to Dupont, but actually left around eight.

Every Sunday Marc semi-jokingly tries to get me to stay Sunday night and drive down Monday morning. To allow for traffic and to come to the house before I have to be at the hospital in order to drop off my food and other stuff I would have to get up at 4am and I'm simply unwilling to do this. But it still makes me feel guilty for not grabbing hold of every spare second we have together. Every Sunday night that moment when I see his sad eyes as I drive away is the worst part of the week. This was the first time I didn't cry at least. I suppose it's ridiculous given that we get to see each other every weekend and I know people who are forced apart for much longer periods, but I still hate it. (But not so much that I want to drive three hours every day!) I am grateful I am able to stay so close to the hospital and all week long I'm glad I am here-- but Sunday nights are not my favorite part of the week. Sundays in general are stressful and busy and I never get everything done.

Every week I get here and find I've forgotten something. Last week I forgot a number of food items. This week I forgot my headphones which means either a trip to the Best Buy in Lacey or a week of no music at the gym or while I study. And now I need to get to bed, before another week of learning inpatient nutrition and trying to get myself back in shape-- I've only been making it to the gym two or three days a week and this week I'm determined to make that four.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Caffeine Junky?

I think I'm becoming a caffeine person three weeks into my internship. It was a hard adjustment in the second week when we started having to be there at 8 instead of 10 after a summer of being lazy, and I started drinking green tea every morning. Then I started bringing tea into the hospital with me because I didn't have time to finish it in the morning and gradually that increased to a second giant mug of tea in the day. Then J. (a fellow intern) and I started going to get coffee in the afternoons because we can get it free after lunch but you don't want to venture into the cafeteria alone because the men who work in the kitchen like to tease and it can be overwhelming without backup. At first I got mostly decaf with a splash of caffeinated, but then one day there wasn't any decaf. Fast forward to yesterday when I had no caffeine and had a headache all day. Now two mugs of green tea and half a cup of coffee is hardly breaking any caffeine records, but if you haven't noticed by now, I'm super sensitive to everything. I have also discovered that Marc drinks 32 oz of coffee every day at work, but some how does not suffer headaches on the weekend when he has none. Mysterious.

I have been doing a good job with self care, caffeine not withstanding. Since there are no grocery stores close to where I am staying I make all my food ahead and eat the same thing every day: smoothie for breakfast, chicken salad with some kind of starch (rice, quinoa, potatoes) for lunch and some kind of legume soup for dinner (two weeks ago it was lentil, last week it was split pea, this week I'm making chili). I eat fruit and larabars between, and I admit I have been eating chocolate covered almonds from the bulk bin, but it occurred to me if I don't buy them I'll be forced into sugar-free week days since I don't really have access to anything without a longish drive so this week I'm doing without those. I also got a one week trial to a gym that is very close and went after I got off three days this week-- next week I hope to increase that to four days after I sign up. I'm definitely getting 7 hours of sleep, and often I get 8. With the increase in activity I feel like I need more and I need to try and make myself go to bed sooner.

It's a weird alternate reality I live in five days a week, and then I come crashing back into my life for 48 hours, with barely enough time to catch my breath before I'm off again. Strangely I miss Marc most when I first get home and it all hits me, as if I have been suppressing or ignoring it all week long, only to have it rise up and out when I come home again.

I had a lazy, rainy day yesterday. Marc and I stuck close to each other and did errands and watched movies. I haven't gotten any homework done yet, which means today like most Sundays will be frantic as I try to get work done, make soup and chicken and quinoa to last me the week, do more errands and try to drive back to Dupont before it gets too late.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Yay chickens

To get this picture I had to eat larabars for breakfast this morning because I was short one green egg and when I went out there Kitty was busy sitting on her egg and I didn't want to bother her. So we had eggs for lunch instead.

This morning we went to the Seattle Tilth Harvest festival where we saw a one year old Speckled Sussex chicken-- the same kind Roxie is, and were a little stunned by how big she is going to get. We are hoping the other chickens don't all get that big or else their house is going to be too small!

This morning we found out Marc's dad could be in the hospital in LA for quite a while longer, so we may be planning a weekend trip to LA soon. It frustrates me because I hear third-hand generalizations about his diagnosis in lay terms, when if I knew the medical diagnosis I could understand what that means a lot better than my family does. I wish he were here where we could go visit him and advocate for him-- I got a little emotional the other day when I watched a patient consultation at Madigan with a man who had had a heart attack and was in the hospital. Even though his situation was different than my father in law's, it reminded me of him and made me sad. I keep demanding Marc ask him about his diet and if they are giving him supplemental nutrition (like Ensure which is absolute crap but he needs protein to heal and that's what hospitals have). He said he's eating but the portions are tiny and he's still hungry. My guess is they are giving him the cardiac diet which is probably designed for people who need to lose weight-- he needs to gain it and he needs enough calories to heal from his wounds. I wish I could read his chart and see what they are doing for him.

This is my first weekend home where I only get two days. It's already near 2pm and I have to get started on my mountain of homework. If I want to have any hope of exercising and getting enough sleep during the week I need to get my homework done now.

Bastyr friends-- I am missing you....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day Labors

I had a long, but not terribly relaxing holiday weekend. Things at my weekday house are very simplified—I am here to do my internship and things related to it. There are few distractions. When I got home felt very anxious about all the things I should be doing. I had a TON of homework, but when I was doing it I felt like I should be spending time with Marc. Every break from homework I took there was laundry to do, grocery shopping and preparing for the week, organization I should have done before my internship started etc—more things to do then there was time to do them, which put me on edge. I did manage to get the majority of my homework (which is due Friday) done—I would have had it all done except we had a project comparing the ADA’s Evidence Based Library with the Cochrane database and I couldn’t figure out how to find what I needed in Cochrane without a password—emails from my fellow interns told me I wasn’t the only one having problems. I also have this compulsion to get ahead on my homework because we have so many big things due later on in the quarter that I don’t want things to start piling up—so anxiety reigned all weekend.

As I was getting ready to leave I was very sad to leave Marc and the chix—but as soon as I got here I felt calm and focused again.

Marc did a nice job this weekend building gates so that our yard, which was previously 80% fenced is now completely fenced. Our next door neighbor told us our chickens had been going on adventures through not only his yard, but the next yard over and while he found it amusing, we were worried about a dog getting them. Now they are (hopefully) contained to their own yard.

I did more food preparation this week. On Sunday I made a whole chicken, which I still have meat leftover from. I also made bone broth from the bones and then made a lentil soup out of that today—it made a ton of soup—I brought half with me and the other half went in the freezer at home. I pre-cut raw veggies for Marc and I, as well as melon and strawberries. I also harvested kale and collards from my garden so I can have more greens than just salad this week. I probably brought too much food this time, since once again I am only here four days, but eventually I’ll figure out the system. I felt like I was bringing a ton of luggage again this time, but really half of it was groceries and another quarter was toiletries like shampoo, makeup and a hairdryer that I use both places.

I did manage to get to the gym twice this weekend. I haven’t been doing very high intensity workouts, mostly because I have been out of the habit of going for about a month now and I can’t afford to burn myself out—once I get used to the habit again I’ll increase the intensity. I am looking into a gym down here, but will only sign up if it isn’t expensive and I can do a three month membership since I have no idea where I’ll be next semester.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm happy to be home again for a long weekend after my first week of rotation. In honor of my homecoming one of the aracauna chickens (either Muffin or Kitty) laid her first egg! I can tell because it is green. So we are up to three of the five older chickens laying-- I expect they will all be laying by end of October, and the little kids are due to lay in November, though by then it will be dark and so we might not get much from them.

I was a little worried my chickens with their little pea brains would forget me in four days, but when I came around into the yard last night they all came running. I nearly cried.

Yesterday I left the hospital at 4:45 and arrived home at 6:15. I actually didn't hit much traffic-- fortunately it seemed most of the Seahawks traffic was going South because Southbound traffic was barely moving. If Northbound had been that bad it would have taken me three hours. I am so grateful I don't have to make that drive every day!

I woke up today to find I lost a couple pounds-- while I'm not unhappy to see the scale move in that direction, I know I haven't been eating enough, mainly because the whole week before I left for my internship I was so stressed I couldn't eat much and so I didn't plan my food very well for the week and pretty much ate beans, rice and lettuce for lunch and dinner for several days. (I was snacking on a few chocolate covered almonds, but apparently that didn't matter). I also am not getting enough exercise-- I'm going to look into the local gym when I get back down there on Tuesday, though since I'm expecting to have 10 hour days this week I'm not entirely sure when I'll have time. I need to plan my menus a little more thoughtfully now that my appetite is better.

We still have family medical drama-- Marc's dad is still in the hospital, though they moved him to a different LA hospital so he could get more specialty care. He had a heart attack, flesh eating bacterial infection, and a big absess between his heart and lungs they were afraid was a tumor but fortunately turned out not to be. In order to do a biopsy of the absess they had to collapse one of his lungs. It's scary and hard for all of us, but I am so thankful that he is getting good medical care and that things weren't even worse. Hopefully some time next week Marc will be able to fly down to LA and bring him home.

Monday, August 31, 2009

New Adventure

Yesterday Marc and I drove (in two cars) down to Dupont with a car load full of stuff. I unloaded all of my boxes and then he and I went to dinner at a nearby pizza restaurant (I had salad). I've been so anxious the past week that I've had very little appetite, but it was a pretty good salad. Then before I knew it he was driving away and I was left to start my new adventure. I will say, living here is not exactly roughing it. I have my own bathroom and bedroom next to the den where there is internet access and all of it overlooks a nice golf course and Mt Rainier. Vicki, my roommate, reminds me of my own mom and is always trying to take care of me, making sure I know where to go, asking if I'm hungry etc. As I relax into this new situation I'm slowly getting my appetite back, but I've shrunk my stomach so that I can't seem to eat very much at one time-- I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing!

I didn't sleep very well last night-- not surprising given a big day today plus an unfamiliar bed, but by the time I went to bed I was no longer anxious and woke up feeling pretty calm-- mainly because I realized we just have class this week and that I'm going to be just fine staying here.

On Saturday Marc and I got new cell phones and unlimited text messaging and it's fantastic-- neither of us necessarily likes to talk on the phone forever, but we always have little updates to share throughout the day and we text each other all evening and whenever I get a break during the day. It makes him seem less far away.

The food situation is interesting because I shopped for groceries when I had zero appetite and most food sounded terrible, so I don't think I quite brought enough of the right things. This morning I had my usual smoothie, for lunch I brought a pinto bean, lettuce, tomato and olive salad (I don't have enough olives to make it through the whole week though). And dinner I made potatoes, chicken sausage and salad, but cooking dinner and cleaning up took way longer than I'm going to have when we get longer shifts. By Thursday I might be eating oatmeal for dinner. The closest grocery store is 8 miles away in Lacey, which means fighting traffic on the freeway to go there, so I'm trying to make it to the weekend without needing to shop. Overall though, I'm settling into things and feeling better.

EDITED (link should work now). For more on my first day at my internship, you can read my new blog here:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Moving Day

Today I'm packing up the most essential of my belongings-- computer, internship wardrobe, a few key textbooks, put them all in my beat up Jeep and drive 90 minutes South to Dupont, because tomorrow is the day when five years of studying culminates and I begin my practical education-- whether I'm ready or not.

My living arrangements came together finally and beautifully. I met my friend Stephanie in seventh grade-- neither of us remembers if we first became friends because our flute teacher put us together to play duets, or because we went to the same church youth group, but either way, we've been friends ever since. It has been my extreme good fortune that Stephanie's mom works as a nurse at Madigan, where I will be doing my internship, and has graciously offered to let me live at her house only a few miles from the base for minimal rent.

I also know I am incredibly lucky to have an internship in-state at all, and it would be much harder if I were packing up and moving to Texas or Idaho or who knows where else. I am very lucky that every weekend I will be able to come home and see Marc and my chickens and come back to my life.

Never-the-less, I am feeling sad. Other than one miserable year in a dorm with a roommate I disliked, I have never even *kind of* been on my own before. Marc and I moved in together 10 years ago, when I was 19. The longest we have ever been apart is 3 weeks, when Marc had to do job training in Texas. He is my support system, my biggest cheerleader and my safety net. While I know he is still here for me, only an hour and change away I am feeling vulnerable not to have him to come home to every night.

Oh the other hand, it will be very good in some ways as I will have fewer distractions in the evening as the inevitable mountains of homework and preparation add up, I will have nothing but dietetics to draw my focus.

On top of this, I am missing my Bastyr friends-- it is scary to go into this new and intense phase of my education without them-- where is Laura to explain the mechanism to me when I forget and Reed to simultaneously know the answer, correct the professor and make me laugh, and Laine to get mad at Reed for all of the above? Who is going to greet me in the mornings drinking murky beverages from jars or get irate about the state of agriculture in America over lunch? The world outside the Bastyr bubble is a bittersweet one-- it is what we all worked so hard to achieve and yet in order to get what we wanted we have to leave behind something equally special.

So it with is this confusing mix of anticipation, gratitude, apprehension and a little bit of sadness that I embark on this new journey. On top of all of this-- my father-in-law is in the hospital in Los Angeles, having had a heart attack while on a business trip and has been diagnosed with a bacterial blood infection. Though his prognosis seems good, it feels wrong to leave my family during this time of crisis, and yet leaving is exactly what I have to do.

I have no doubt this will be a year of great growth, not only professionally but personally, as I learn to navigate the world much more on my own than I ever have been before.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Weird Symptoms

About a month ago I had several days of dizzy spells and weird headaches. I thought this was due to something I was eating or allergies. Yesterday it came back with a vengeance-- I was racking my brain trying to figure out what I could have eaten (because I'm a nutritionist so of course everything is caused by food in my mind) to have caused this. I had a couple meals out this week and it started not long after having lunch out with friends, but I had chicken salad with raspberry vinagrette, and I didn't have any food allergy symptoms so that seemed unlikely. Finally it clicked-- one month ago I had the first of the Hepatitis B vaccine series, and on Tuesday I had the second dose-- the symptoms are most likely related to the vaccine, especially given my wild over sensitivity to everything. I felt so bad yesterday that I ended up having to miss a friend's bridal shower last night.

Yesterday in trying to figure out what was wrong with me I tested my blood glucose (I have a monitor and a few test strips I got for free at the ADA conference). After eating it was 103, which is completely fine, though a little higher than I like to see. (More on this in a minute). The last couple days I've also had very little appetite- yesterday I had a smoothie for breakfast and a kombucha and about 4 almonds at lunch time and didn't feel like eating again until dinner (which was gluten-free spaghetti with chicken sausage and kale) and a sorbet bar.

This morning I got up around 8:30 and was curious about my fasting blood sugar so I tested again before eating. It took a couple tries (it took so long for me to prick my finger that the tester timed out) but when I finally got a reading it was 113!! Fasting blood glucose between 100-124 is pre-diabetes. I had this test done properly in a lab last November and it was upper 90s I remember. It could be just a fluke-- I will test again tomorrow, and it could be another side effect of my body trying to get rid of the yucky vaccine, but it also serves as a warning that I need to get myself back into a regular exercise routine and eat protein at every meal like a good girl.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gluten-Free Berry Cobbler

All summer I have been working on perfecting my berry cobbler. I started with this recipe but it was missing something. After a number of tweaks I think I have it just about perfect. A note: you could probably substitute arrowroot instead of the cornstarch to avoid supporting genetically modified foods (since I've never seen non-GMO cornstarch)-- I just don't have any arrowroot on hand . Sometime I will try making this with all Rapadura (which is minimally processed sugar cane) instead of the brown sugar, but I haven't gotten there yet.


4 cups fruit-- I use two or three kinds of berries
1 Tablespoon Florida crystals/evaporated cane juice
1.5 Tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup water
1 T sweet vinegar (I used fig vinegar)

Mix all the ingredients except the fruit together first, then add to the fruit and mix throughly.

3/4 cup Earth Balance, softened (by all means, use real butter if you aren't allergic to it like me)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Rapadura
1 cup gluten free oats
1/3 cup gluten free flour blend (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all of the above and then spread fruit mixture into a 9 x 9 glass pan and spread the topping evenly over the fruit. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lazy and liking it

This is the first time in at least two years, maybe longer where I have had enough time to just do nothing, without being so completely exhausted to enjoy it. Since we returned from vacation I have been watching movies, gardening, reading and hanging out with friends. The most surprising thing has been that I have been eating pretty much whatever I feel like. Obviously minus allergens, I have pretty much ignored every self-imposed rule I ever had. I have been eating cold cereal for random meals like a college kid (well, it's organic crispy brown rice with almond milk, so maybe not exactly like a college kid) ever since we got back from Hawaii (it's not the same without the papaya, but berries and bananas in it work too). Almost every night I stay up reading while drinking wine and eating chocolate covered macadamias we brought back from Hawaii (I had a hell of a time finding some that didn't have corn syrup or milk in them). Not to say that it's been all bad-- I made vegan pesto this week and served it on brown rice pasta and chicken. I've been eating a lot of burritos with organic refried beans, tomatoes, salsa and greens. On the days I don't eat cereal in the morning I have a big smoothie with kale and collards from my garden in it. It has been an interesting experiment. What's good: without me constantly trying to eliminate things like starch and sugar from my diet I am less likely to go crazy on them, knowing I can have them when I want. I have not once overeaten or eaten past fullness in three weeks. I eat until I'm full and then I stop. Despite all the sugar and carbs and alcohol my weight has stayed pretty stable or maybe even gone down slightly. What's bad: I have headaches almost every day and I'm not sure what is causing them. When I go too long without food after having had just starch like cereal for breakfast I get shaky and brain dead way faster than if I had eaten a balanced meal. I've had chronic sore throats on and off most of the summer, and my brain isn't working very well. I also don't wake up feeling rested, which I am guessing is due to drinking wine every night. Most of these are signs that I'm not balancing my blood sugar very well and that likely the sugar or some other additive in the processed foods I've been eating is effecting me negatively. Also, other than some gardening I haven't gotten any exercise since we got back from vacation.

Somewhere in the midst of these extremes is a place of balance that I need to find. I can not go into my internship with a carb hangover (or the regular kind of hangover for that matter) but at the same time it's so much healthier for me not to be so compulsive and controlling about what I eat. Some time soon I hope to find where that balance is-- in the mean time it has been a very interesting experiment.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

EGGS! And a zoo day

Last night after dark we were putting our silly chickens to bed (from the tree where they were roosted as usual) when Marc called me over to the back of the chicken house, claiming that Roxie wanted me to say goodnight to her. When I got there he pointed to a row of four, tiny perfect eggs! I was stunned speechless. I wasn't expecting eggs for a good month at least, and these were so small, robin egg sized. This morning I took these pictures, though I should have put them in my hand so you would have some sense of the size. We went back out later in the morning to try and take another picture and were surprised to find their Mommy sitting on them. I was certain the first eggs would come from Liz Lemon or Skittles, as they are the most mature seeming and top of the pecking order. Imagine my surprise to find my little, sweet-natured Phoenix Olive sitting on her eggs! Phoenix chickens, according to my research, aren't very reliable egg layers-- people mostly keep them because they are pretty. I have no idea how often she is laying--we were gone a week and haven't been checking closely in their house so who knows how long they've been there. We were just talking about setting up proper laying boxes, and here we found eggs!

Today Marc and I went to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma. We had fun visiting all the different animals, and especially enjoyed the aquarium which had a fabulous exhibit of all local fish in a big tank environment. Marc was ravenous so we left the park in search of food and stumbled across a place serving Bison burgers. We each had one, mine was without the bun and I'm sure they probably thought I was on a low-carb diet. It was good, though very hard to eat with only a plastic fork. Afterwards we went to my friend Zanna's birthday party which was in Point Defiance Park. It was really fun to catch up with some of my old friends and I was really glad we had that burger because I ended up only eating a handful of chips and a few cherries (and a glass of wine) at the BBQ. The sun finally came back and we had a really great day.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Vashon Island Adventure

On Thursday I went with two girlfriends to Vashon Island, an island near Seattle in the Puget Sound. I hadn't been there in a dozen or more years-- I used to go to music camp there when I was in middle and high school. Today we had a very relaxed agenda. I met the girls at Theresa's house-- Theresa is one of my Bastyr friends. Our third group member, Nicole, is a first year student at Bastyr and a co-worker of Theresa's at Swedish hospital. We three got on swimmingly. We drove to West Seattle to catch a ferry, and after a quick 15 minute ride we were there.

Our first stop was a country store where we could pick blueberries. We got our paper bags from the cashier who proclaimed us ambitious for each wanting our own bag. Once we got to the blueberries we understood why-- there weren't enough berries to easily pick in volume-- many were small or not quite ripe. Nicole was more focused than Theresa and I and dutifully stayed at each bush picking the bush until there were none left. Theresa and I flitted from bush to bush, picking a few from each before losing interest and moving on to the next-- we chatted and snacked as we picked. In the end Nicole had picked four pounds to Theresa and my two. The weather was surprisingly Fall like-- after so many extraordinarily hot days, we seem to have used up our summer and have been plunged into Autumn-- it was in the 60s and raining. I wore a light sweater and jacket with Jeans.

After our berry picking we had lunch at a Restaurant called the Monkey Tree. The choices were limited for me, since even a promising salad had soy sauce in the dressing (which contains wheat). I settled on a black bean, corn and avocado salad, even though my digestion has not been terribly pleased with corn lately. The salad was good, although a little heavy in cilantro for my taste and I paid for the corn later. Theresa and Nicole shared an open face sandwich and black bean cakes which they proclaimed delicious, if rather rich (a lot of cheese was involved).

At the tiny restaurant we ate outside in a little courtyard lined with plants, many of which were edible. We picked peppermint to put in our water, and eucalyptus to sniff, while admiring the many other plants. Given the aforementioned fall-like weather and my cold lunch, I was freezing by the end of the meal. Nicole insisted I wear her jacket over mine when my lips started to turn purple (I told her she only really needed to worry when I started to turn blue but she said to wear the jacket anyway). We headed down the street to a little tea shop in a book store to warm up, where we delighted in the many kinds of tea with strange names. Our favorite names included Poodle Menage, and A Night in Missoula.

Tea in hand, we headed back to the car where we discovered sweet peas growing wild and stopped to eat a pea or two. We hopped in the car determined to find Sea Breeze farm, which is a staple at Seattle farmer's markets for milk, eggs and meat. When we arrived at the address it occurred to us that perhaps the farm is not open to the public, since it was down a road marked private, and no sign alerted us to the farm's presence. We saw a man astride a horse in the driveway and asked if we were in the right place and if it was okay to visit the farm. He said it was, so we drove down the drive where we were greeted by large pens of chickens, pigs and cows, along with two rogue chickens who seemed to have escaped their pen, and two happy dogs who wanted us to play fetch. We visited the animals a few minutes and prepared to leave when George, one of the owners, emerged from the farm house and welcomed us in. He told us he was in the midst of bottling wine and wondered if we'd like to come see. In the cellar George was bottling wine at a rapid rate, making room he told us, for a new lower priced blend they were planning soon. The wine he was bottling, a Shiraz, was scheduled to rest another 6 months before selling, but he offered to sell us bottles on the spot for $10 each-- we each bought a label-less bottle, which he told us could be consumed in the next two weeks, or else to wait 6 months since in the interim the wine would go into "bottle shock" and be less delicious.

We left the farm with just minutes to spare before the next ferry and drove aboard in the nick of time. We had a wonderful adventure full of delicious discoveries and fun conversation.

When I got home I made chicken breast, roasted yukon gold potatoes, and sauteed collard greens from my garden in garlic and olive oil. I haven't made cooked greens in months, ever since the warmer weather hit I have preferred salad, but on this cool day cooked greens seemed right. I poured myself a glass of the Sea Breeze wine, which turned out to be one of my favorite wines ever-- dry, sharp and complex it tasted slightly of chocolate (which I have read described on wine labels, but never really experienced before) and berries. I sat and ate dinner alone, since Marc was working late, and thoroughly enjoyed every bite. It was a great end to a lovely day.

Hawaii Day 8: time to say goodbye

Marc's vacation beard
One last sunset on the lanai

On our last morning in Hawaii we wanted to make the most of it. We got up early, despite only 6 hours sleep, and went back to the beach where the turtles live to snorkel there one last time. The day before my snorkel mask had broken so that of the two rubber straps on the back of my head, only one was still intact. I was praying it would hold through this one last trip in the water, although without the upper strap my snorkel more easily filled with water, it did not break further. We visited the turtles one last time and watched them happily. We got out of the water and sat at the edge and watched them from outside the water for a half hour, silently saying goodbye. We went back to the hotel, ahead of schedule and swam again in the pool, amused by one of the residents telling fish stories to some unwilling listeners.

We stopped at the farmer's market to load up on fruit to take home. When we told the man from whom we bought 10 papayas for $1 our plan he told us we would not be allowed to take them on the plane-- he said only pineapple is allowed because of some kind of fruit fly quarantine. We decided to risk it since they were only $1 and also bought a pineapple.

We went back to Island Lava Java to print our boarding passes for our flight, and to grab lunch to go. By the time our food arrived we had only one hour until boarding and we still needed to get gas, return the rental car, and get to the gate. I have never cut a flight so close before. As it turned out, boarding was delayed 20 minutes, and the airport (most of which is outside) was unbearably hot, so we were glad we only had to wait about 25 minutes. We hopped on a short flight to Maui and then had a mad dash across the airport to catch our flight to Seattle. It was at Maui where they scanned our bags and took away the papaya. I was not surprised, but sad for sure.

We arrived back in Seattle at 10:30pm, and home after midnight. It was overcast and cool in Seattle and I had done such a good job putting all thoughts of real life and responsibility out of my head that it took me two full days back at home before I could really function. Still enamored of Hawaii I looked up the Hawaiian Dietetic Association to see if there were jobs on the Big Island, but didn't find much outside Honolulu.

We had a truly fantastic, restful, wonderful trip. Maui a few years ago was our best vacation ever to that point and this at least matched if not surpassed it. We we definitely go back, and maybe some day life will even take us there to live.

Hawaii Day 7: Dolphin Encounter

I woke up rested after ten hours of much needed sleep. After a cereal and papaya breakfast (and a few ginger capsules for me) we drove back to the place we had scoped out earlier for kayak rentals. We rented from a colorful gentleman who told us all about another customer he had, also from Washington, who had given him the best "bud" he had ever had. Fabulous.

We paddled across the bay-- it was sunny and gorgeous and I felt happy in every inch of my body and soul to be in the peaceful ocean, so clear we could see the bottom even in these deep waters. About half way across we found ourselves surrounded by a pod of at least 20 dolphins, all within a few feet of our kayak. There were other kayakers and snorklers already there, and we considered getting out to snorkel, but it was deep water, and we had a camera with us and we weren't sure we could get back in the boat without tipping the kayak. So instead we floated and admired the dolphins-- I had my camera that doesn't have much zoom with me (I wasn't going to take the expensive SLR camera in a boat!) but it almost didn't matter because the dolphins were that close. (I wasn't fast enough to catch one spinning but it's very fun to watch-- they jump out of the water several feet in the air and spin around).

We continued our paddling across the bay to Captain Cook Monument. We snorkeled here last time we came to the Big Island with my parents, only last time we hiked in-- it is about three miles straight down and the hike back up nearly killed everyone but Marc. I wasn't particularly excited about that hike again and I'm glad we kayaked because we never would have seen the dolphins otherwise. The snorkeling here was good, not great, although we did see a Manta Ray. We timed our snorkeling perfectly-- we got in just as a large boat of tourists was leaving (man they were loud too-- shrieking to each other across at least 40 yards "Bob! Bob! I saw and EEL! BOB! AN EEL!" As we got out three more giant boats, with at least 100 people total all coming to snorkel arrived. We were very relieved to get away. Before we left the bay I practiced getting in the kayak from in the water. I somewhat ungracefully flopped myself onto the front of the kayak and then eventually got turned around in my seat--without flipping the kayak on my first try, to the amusement and applause of a bunch of locals on the shore. Unfortunately, by the time we kayaked back across the bay the dolphins moved on, so we never got to climb in the water with them. It still makes me laugh though, that people were paying $200 to play with non-native dolphins at the Hilton, while I was out in the ocean seeing them just as close for a $25 kayak rental.

After we returned to shore, we ate lunch at Island Lava Java, the restaurant where we'd checked email the day before. I had a fantastic big salad. M ordered a burger but complained it was flavorless. I didn't feel too bad since the day before he'd had two great burgers while I had a weird mis-mosh of not so great lunch. We walked around Kona doing a bit of shopping, and started a quest to find chocolate covered Kona coffee beans, since we decided we wanted to stay up late on our last night in Hawaii. We went to many stores and could not find them-- other than at the Donkey Balls place which only had ones with milk in them.

We also decided we wanted to take a suitcase full of fruit home. In order to do this we needed to make space. First I called Hawaiian airlines, which told me they thought it would be fine to take fruit on the plane. We had bought life jackets before we left in case we snorkeled in rough waters but we never ended up using them. So we found a UPS store and shipped the jackets home (which just arrived yesterday) to make space.

We drove North to spend the afternoon at the Four Seasons again. We found two reclining lounge chairs under a tree at the ocean's edge. It seemed perfect-- staff brought us fresh towels and water and we lay happily reading for awhile. The wind kicked up and was rather strong-- I not only got cold, but actually started getting a little nauseated (it doesn't take much with me!) by the wind rocking me back and forth. I got up and moved to a lounge chair near the pool while Marc stayed at the ocean's edge. Nearer to the hotel I had constant refills of water (it was orange infused today) and it was much warmer. We stayed again until the sun started to go down and then continued our quest for chocolate coffee beans. We tried a coffee shop, a local grocery store (where we bought ketchup, beer and spam! Yikes). Marc decided he needed a haircut before going back to work so while he got cleaned up, I tried Longs Drugs and finally found what we were looking for- dark chocolate covered kona coffee beans with no dairy and no high fructose corn syrup.

On our way back we saw lots of drunk people weaving in the dark, and a fire truck and police cars at a nearby hotel. Back in the condo we saw boats and helicopters searching the water-- I really hope they found whomever they were looking for.

For dinner I made eggs and potatoes (I made Marc make is own spam). We had a late dinner around 9pm, all the while eating those coffee beans. I still felt like I was on a boat, and was light headed and kind of out of it. After dinner we swam in the pool and had it to ourselves, before returning up stairs to deal with the giant packing mess.

Despite all the coffee beans I fell asleep before midnight, exhausted.

Hawaii Day 6: we run out of steam

We started the morning back at the beach where two days before we had seen dolphins. It was cloudy when we were there before and visibility is better for snorkeling when the sun shines through the water so we were ready to try again. The snorkeling was great and we continued until my seasickness, as always instructed us when to get out. We also drove to checkout a place that rented kayaks for the next day, though Marc was very nervous about us kayaking in open sea with my propensity to vomit.

This was the first day when we did not have a specific agenda-- we had seen all of the island we wanted to see, and we were at loose ends today. We were also really tired, and Marc was near starved after several days of not meeting his caloric needs. We wildly considered driving back to Hilo (two hours each way) to finally get homemade mochi and to get more of the mysterious tangerine fruits we'd bought at the farmers market-- these fruits were full of juice and edible seeds. You peel off the top and suck the juice and seeds out. I couldn't remember what they were called, so we referred to them as "pop tops" and had run out the previous day. We had a silly fight about where to eat lunch and ended up getting on the road without eating anything which was a terrible plan, as we both got crankier and Marc started to get dizzy. We stopped half way to Hilo where the book said a good restaurant for burgers was (which is what Marc had wanted for days). I couldn't find the restaurant, but there was a burger stand there so I ordered him one and crossed the street to the grocery store where I cobbed together a strange lunch for myself of a small salad with processed turkey (yuck) and salad dressing that I was afraid to use because I wasn't sure what was in it. I also bought edamame and gluten free cookies. Marc's burger finally arrived around the time I finished shopping, and he said it was really good. We ended up spending a fair amount of time sitting outside in that plaza, as he needed a second burger and since they were making them from scratch this took awhile. (We were in ranching country so I was hoping that the beef was local and grass fed but I'll never know). After eating I decided I really did not want to spend my second to last day in a car and we headed to the resort area of Kohola instead.

Our first stop was the Hilton, which had it's own kind of contrived man-made swimming bay, which was partly fed by the ocean. In on area there was a dolphin encounter, where parents could pay $200 for their kids to spend 20 minutes interacting with dolphins. The irony, is that the dolphins are Atlantic Bottle Nosed dolphins, rather than the local Hawaiian spinner dolphins, because, according to the book, the local dolphins need deeper water. We sat on the grass and watched the kids with the dolphins for awhile and I had fun people watching-- the Hilton runs $700-1000 a night and I was fascinated by who would possibly pay that much to stay at a hotel. It was hot and I got bored with the kid show so we moved on up the road to the Four Seasons Resort, where I found heaven.

The Four seasons was very uncrowded. They had multiple pools, free fruit infused water (ahem...for guests) and lounge chairs right on the beach. We sat in chairs and read our books while drinking pineapple infused water until the sun started going down. At last, relaxation.

Back in Kona we found a cafe with internet access and I drank a smoothie while Marc checked his email. I noticed the menu was organic greens and wonderful salads and made a note of it for later. We stopped at the farmer's market to stock up on more papaya and to get an avocado for the tacos I was making for dinner.

By the time we got back to the condo I felt like I was sleep walking. I made tacos in a haze and fell asleep by 8pm.

Hawaii Day 5: I fall in love

On Thursday we got up at 6am to get an early start on snorkeling to beat the crowds, only to find it pouring down rain. For breakfast I invented my all time favorite combination-- I took half a papaya and scooped out the seeds and then poured crispy brown rice cold cereal into the hole where the seeds had been and added soy milk. Then I ate the papaya "bowl" with the cereal. We ate this new treat on the balcony watching the rain hit the sea. By 7am the rain stopped and we were on our way to Keauhou beach, only about ten minutes from our condo. The guidebook said turtles are often found here. The water was cold and took my breath away when I jumped in, but it was also very clear. We saw lots of bright colorful fish, my favorites looking like something out of a 1980s music video-- florescent pink, purple and teal. Marc and I always snorkel very close to each other and often hold hands, both for safety and because it is easier to alert each other to things the other person might not have seen. Marc started shaking my hand with excitement and pointing in the distance. We were only two feet from a large green sea turtle! We spent what seemed like hours hovering very near our turtle friend, watching her graze on sea moss on the bottom of the shallow ocean, moving slowly in the gentle waves. It was an incredibly moving experience to be in the silence of the ocean, the two of us alone with this beautiful animal, who was likely much older than we are. We swam a little further and found another sea turtle-- this one had one of my favorite bright fish swimming all around it-- a buddy reminiscent of finding Nemo! We stayed with the turtles until the tide began going out and more snorkelers arrived-- by then my nausea had returned in force. We climbed out of the water and were about to leave when we noticed the outgoing tide had created tidepools to the left of the beach. We went to investigate and found three more sea turtles in the shallow tidepool. I waded into the tidepool in my reef shoes and spent close to an hour taking pictures up close of the turtles. In the picture above when I went to pose the turtle tried to turn around by pushing off the rock and found my leg instead. We saw a turtle in Maui once years ago, but it was in sandy, murky conditions. This day we saw so many so close-- it was like the kind of experience you'd have to pay for somewhere.

We finally left to drive up to the North part of the island (North Kohala Coast).
We stopped at a beautiful sandy beach called Puako. The water was clear and warm as bathwater-- the sand was so hot it burned my feet (and the sun was so bright my picture didn't turn out very well). On this beach we discovered there were evil spiny trees that had needle sharp thorns along each branch, which occasionally broke off in small pieces and lay on the beach. At different times each of us ended up with a painful pierced foot. We did not find as many fish here, though the water was the clearest we had seen. We spent a couple hours here, until the seasickness resumed-- since I'd already been nauseated in the morning it came back sooner here.
We hiked to Kiholo bay, which involved parking on the highway and hiking down a barren trail of red lavarock and the evil spiny trees. When we reached the bay, we got in to snorkel and almost immediately got back out-- the water was very sandy and visibility was too poor. On our hike back to the car we heard a strange sound that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It sounded like a strange bird or maybe a child being tortured. We crept off the trail to investigate and came across a family of wild goats, whose kid was very loud. They weren't too interested in hanging out with humans and took off as soon as they saw us, the kid braying all the way.

The North road ends at Pololu Beach, where there is a pretty lookout. You can hike to the beach there, but it was getting late in the day and I wanted to see other things. Along the road to Pololu we visited several wind farms, which ingeniously share the land with happily free ranging cows-- I was rather smitten with these eco-cows, as well as two horses I befriended along the road, though I think they were hoping I had something to feed them, and I didn't think horses would want larabars, which is all I had with me.

We next drove on to Waimea, through beautiful ranching towns along the Kohala Mountain road. Somewhere between North Kohala and the mountain road I fell madly in love with this island and we started fantasizing about living there with goats and chickens raising tropical fruit and maybe having some kind of nutritional get away detox vacation destination. The northern part of the island reminds me of a cross between the small farming towns where my parents grew up and lush tropical rain forest-- possibly the best combination I could ever thing of.

As we drove along the mountain road we gradually left the lush tropical wetness and the land became dryer and more desert-like. We reached Waimea starving and ate at the first place we could find-- a Mexican restaurant in a food court. I ordered chicken tamales, which was kind of a strange choice since I've never ordered those before. It turned out to be a mistake, given that I've been having difficulty digesting corn lately and the tamales were a heavy dose-- I had a stomach ache the rest of the night.

On our drive back to Kona we found a rainbow which we jokingly tried to follow to it's end. We could see that it was raining at the coast but we managed to stay ahead of it all day long. This was our longest day, as we were gone for twelve hours, but one of my favorites of the whole trip.

We were also so salty after three trips and 4+ hours in the ocean that I had visible salt on my skin and clothes and I woke up the next morning feeling pickled!

Hawaii Day 4: Kona

On Wednesday morning we packed up to move to our second condo of the week, in Sunny Kona. We spent the morning exploring the Black Sand Beach near our condo, and saw lots of turtles in the water poking their heads above the surface. We climbed a hill near the beach and found an old church made of stones that overlooked the ocean with a small cemetery behind. Before we left we swam in the pool and soaked in the hot tub, since we hadn't had time or energy our whole stay so far.

Our drive posed a dilemma-- I had purchased enough food for dinner to last us the whole week, which included raw chicken breast that already sat in the car almost three hours on our drive to this condo and Kona was a two hour drive, with check in at the new condo not until 4pm. In the end, the chicken had to be sacrificed.

We stopped first at a state park which at one time had a long dock we speculated was for shipping items to this side of the island, but had obviously been destroyed in the harsh surf long ago.

Back on the road we were zipping along listening to Hawaiian music when we saw a police car on the other side of the road flash his lights at us. We pulled over and learned we were going 50mph in a 35 zone. The policeman was kind of flummoxed when we asked if we could take his picture-- but we assured him it was just part of our vacation experience.

We stopped at an organic fruit stand mentioned by our guide book, where all the fruit was grown on site and the stand looked out over the ocean. The girl that sold us the Guanabanana (the big green one in the picture above) we bought (also known as sour sop) was very zen-- I would be too if I worked there.

Next was another place for snorkeling (I can't find the guidebook right now to tell you what it is called but when I do I'll let you know). We saw lots of dolphins far out in the surf (a bit far to snorkel to). The snorkeling was good there, although after about an hour in the water, which had a fair amount of current, I started getting seasick. When we tried to get out of the water the waves pushed me into the rocks and I got kind of scraped up.

Our next stop was a store called "Donkey Balls" which sells famed chocolate covered macademia nuts and as it turned out, lots of other chocolate covered things. Unfortunately even the dark chocolate products had milk fat in them-- the only thing in the store I found without dairy was chocolate covered strawberries, which we bought even though they had horrors such as high fructose corn syrup in them (they were way too sweet, I ended up eating very little of it anyway.) The woman who sold them to us told us that it rains in Kona every day at 3pm-- you can almost set your watch by it-- we stored this tidbit away for planning our next few days.

We did a few errands in town, taking another trip to the health food store, going to Costco to return the salad mix I'd bought which went bad in a couple days.

When we arrived at our condo in Kona we were enchanted-- we had what we deemed the best view in the entire place, on the corner overlooking both the pool and the ocean. We had a relaxing dinner on the lanai, watched the sunset, soaked in the hot tub and went to bed early.