Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wrap it up, I'll take it



I had such a great response to my post "Honeysuckle and Hot Flashes." Thank you to all who commented with tips, quips, advice, and commiserations. Basically, the honeysuckle and I are both screwed, but we have every chance of leading productive lives. Here's a wrap-up of what I've learned. It's kinda wordy, but you will not be quizzed on this lecture.

For the honeysuckle, several people thought it has a fungus, and I think that's right. And Desiree was spot-on when she asked if it faces north. It does face north, and I'm not sure how easy it would be to move it – or where I'd put it. It does well earlier in the year when there's more sun on it (as you can see in my blog background photo), but by August the sun has moved around and there's more shade. It may just have to live like Persephone/Proserpina and spend half the year in the realm of Hades.

For the hot flashes, I got several suggestions that I hadn't heard before, which prompted me to do more reading online – because you can always trust what you read online. I mostly looked at the Mayo Clinic website, the National Women's Health Network, and the US National Library of Medicine/National Institute for Health.

The general consensus is that herbal remedies have not been proven effective, but some women may find them helpful, even if it's just a placebo effect. There was a suggestion that sage can cause seizures or neural problems (!), but that might only be with certain other conditions. Vitamin E has had good results in trials, and paced breathing or yoga helps some women. Acupuncture has had mixed results (read here and here).

Some commenters noted that hormone therapy is better understood these days, and it can be helpful and safe in low doses and for short, well monitored periods. It sounds like it would involve some experimentation to find the right dose, and then how do you know when you can stop without bringing on hot flashes again? Same thing for antidepressants, another medication that can control hot flashes. Gels or creams might be easier, so I might look into that.

Sue talked about dietary changes to reduce hot flashes, including the obvious – chocolate, coffee, and wine (my three pillars – oh, no!), but also dairy. I did further reading on how bad dairy can be for humans generally. Ann recommended some podcasts at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, and there I learned that we should reduce carbs to control hot flashes, and we need animal fats, like dairy, to slow down carbs' metabolization!

What's a hot girl to do?!?!?

This week I went off chocolate, alcohol, and dairy (except butter on my toast) for four days, and I've only had a tiny bit of espresso in the morning to avoid a caffeine-withdrawal headache. I felt more energetic for a few days, but was still having "power surges." This morning (Thursday) I was dragging a little, but that's probably typical for the fourth alarm-clock day. This evening I went out for dinner with a cousin who was in town. I had some white wine, and no hot flashes until driving home later.

So here's my plan.

All things in moderation. (I'm a Libra – I like balance.) Some yogurt and cheese, less milk and ice cream, some carbs, less sugar, some espresso (it has less caffeine than drip coffee, and tastes better), wine and chocolate as needed to round off the rough corners of life. I'll keep taking Estroven, and I'm adding Vitamin E. Also, I want to find a yoga class.

I'm continuing with my usual tricks – lots of baby powder, fans at hand at all times, cold rinses in the shower, loose cotton clothes in layers, and when it's really bad I dab water on my neck.

But the biggest help is the weather! We've had a few cooler days, so I'm not always flashing like a roomful of paparazzi with Miley Cyrus. I feel like there's hope after our long, hot summer. If the Vitamin E helps a little bit, that'll be great – I'm not sure I want to do anything more right now.

I'm not making suggestions for anyone else. You need to make up your own mind and find out what works for you, after reading all the contradictory information.

If you stuck with me this far, thank you, and thanks to all who commented!

Val

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I've been spyed, girl!



What more could I ask for – Anne has immortalized me on the Digital Catwalk!



I love the way Anne made me look so long and slim, so cool and chic. If Emma Peel ever wore a skirt, that's how she'd look.

By the way, if you haven't read how Anne adopted the name Spy Girl, you can read it on her blog here.

Thanks, Anne!

Val

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Honeysuckle and Hot Flashes

In which I whine and ask for advice. (Not a very good opening line, is it?  Please don't go.)

First, here's my outfit.

 

I'm looking at my honeysuckle. It was very healthy earlier in the season, but now it looks like this.


It looks like it's covered with little bugs, but they never move so it might be some other kind of blight. I've cut off the affected buds, hoping it doesn't spread. Since I'm not a gardener and I tend to fall asleep if I read about gardening, I'm asking your advice. Does anyone know what this is and what I should do? The entire plant looks like it's dying - is that just a seasonal thing, because it seems like it did this last fall.

Now back to the clothes.

shirt - Target; belt - Wally Mart; skirt - Old Navy; shoes - Born

This skirt doesn't feel like a summer skirt so I haven't worn it for awhile, but the days are drawing in now. I can still wear it bare-legged, but I'm making the transition to autumn with a black shirt and animal pelts (suede leopard-print sneakers and a faux snakeskin belt). Kind of an urban cavewoman hipster vibe, don't you think?

Now the really whiney part.

Hot flashes are driving me mad!!!! They started a year and a half ago, and I am so tired of them. They come almost every hour. Yes, almost every hour in the day. At night I can usually get four hours of sleep before it hits me, but never more than that. They're probably worse this year because we've had consistently hot weather since May, which is pretty unusual, and it's been warmer at night, too.

I'm taking Estroven (herbal), green tea capsules, and Evening Primrose Oil. I almost always wear cotton, in layers so I can peel them off. I'm never far from a fan, either electric or hand. But it's not enough!

I hesitate to do HRT because my mother had breast cancer, likely from being on HRT for five years without proper monitoring. But maybe a low dose would be okay, for a few months, until I regain my sanity. Or maybe I'll be able to cope when the weather gets cooler. Anybody want to talk about their experiences with hot flashes/flushes? I'd love to know how other women have handled them. But don't even suggest giving up coffee, chocolate or wine - my life is built on those three pillars.

I wasn't going to write about hot flashes because it seemed too personal, but mine are so obvious lately! I've become pretty open about it with everyone - although I still try not to embarrass the younger guys at work. Saying the words "hot flash" to the young men in IT is a sure path to unresolved computer issues as they try to avoid me.


 Time to link up with Spy Girl's 52 Pick-me-up. This week it's - you guessed it - stripes!

And I'll be over at Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style.

Have a good week!

Val

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Cuervo Gold, the fine Colombian*



Did you read about the two separate bear attacks last Thursday in Idaho and Wyoming? It didn't happen to us, but Mr. Sparkle and I were hiking on Friday at a spot between where those attacks occurred. I'm glad I didn't see the news before our trek because I was already nervous about hiking in bear country. 

And what were we doing in a remote mountainous forest known to be home to grizzly bears? Looking for treasure, of course.

A man named Forrest Fenn hid a chest of gold and other treasures somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Then he published a poem with clues, hoping to lure people into discovering the great outdoors. Evidently, his clues were too cryptic and no one has found the treasure yet, so he's started giving out additional clues. Mr. Sparkle deduced that the treasure would be in a little corner of Montana wedged between Idaho and Wyoming, and he talked me into going to look for it with him.

thrifted shirt - appropriately by U.S. Expedition

But first, let me tell you about Steely Dan. 




We went to see them play at the amphitheater at Edgefield, which is a converted work farm just outside of Portland. 
 
I'm taking a picture of the painted walls in the loo, wearing my shirt from CalligramOrama.

It's a sprawling resort-type place with typical Oregon laidback style. There's a hotel in the main building, a microbrewery, and bars and other amenities sprinkled around the grounds. 

Tea Room Bar, which holds about six people
 
I'm not a huge Steely Dan fan, but they were excellent! How many Steely Dan songs can you think of? Well, they played them all – Reeling in the Years, Hey Nineteen, Kid Charlemagne, Bodhisattva, Josie, Peg, Aja, Babylon Sisters – I mean, ALL of them! The band was top quality, but it was the back-up singers that captured my attention, especially La Tanya Hall – she was so cool. What smooth moves and beautiful smile!


Source

I'd love to be a back-up singer!

Now back to the treasure hunt…

After the concert we headed east across Idaho, which was very smoky from huge wildfires around Sun Valley and Ketchum. The smoke covered a large part of the state, and the fires are still burning, I believe.



We bought bear spray and a bear bell.



And we drove to the Coffin Lake trail head and started heading up.
 
The trail climbed about 1,700 feet in five miles to Coffin Lake, which is around elevation 8,500 feet.



But our destination was Upper Coffin Lake, still a little higher and further on. 



We found out there's no real trail to Upper Coffin Lake, so we bush-whacked our way uphill over uneven ground, and eventually we ended up about 300 feet above Upper Coffin Lake!




Coming down was no easier than going up, first to the upper lake and then to the lower lake, looking out for treasure and bears as we went. We had seen one other couple earlier at the lower lake, but they were gone by the time we headed down. We were truly on our own now, and we were beat. We also didn't have much water left. The walk back to the car was grueling – no treasure to console us (you didn't really think we'd find it, did you?), hot sun, little water, sore legs and feet, toe-jam, knowing we could meet bears at any time. 



But we did it! Old geezers, not in optimum condition, we hiked about 12 miles, half of it uphill, climbing over rocks and brush, taking in incredible views, singing all the way to scare off bears. I'm happy to say that we didn't see any bears – I mean, I'm REALLY happy to say that!

Once we got back – showers (ahhh!), drinking water and lemonade (lots), pizza (salt!), bed (motel, not camping. We're not THAT rugged!). The next day we just sat in the car and drove all the way home in 13 hours.

Whew, I'm tired just talking about it! I'm glad we did it, and I'm glad it's done. Would have been nice to find the treasure, though.

So, what have you been up to?

Val

* Can't get that out of my head!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Clown Pants and Other Nonsense



THIS IS A TEST OF THE CLOWN PANTS EMERGENCY SYSTEM.
THIS IS ONLY A TEST.




If this had been an actual clown pants emergency, you would have received an alert on your smart phone in the middle of the night, scaring the piss out of you and causing you to jump out of bed shouting, What the bloody hell was that?! 


thrifted cotton pantaloons; vest - Christopher & Banks; tank - Old Navy; shoes - I'm not wearing any


For those of you who don't live on the west coast of America, here's a news story about a recent Amber Alert. I won't go into it here, and I apologize for making light of a serious situation.

But the clown pants are real.




I'm not really sure how to wear these, or if I'll even keep them. They're thrifted, so I'm only out $5.





The butterfly brooch is from The Citizen Rosebud on Etsy. I love the sparkly blue "gems"!



 
I've taken up meditation. I'm practicing the Kobayashi Method – it's really easy for people who have trouble concentrating. One thing I don't like, though, is having to find a new spider every time.



I'm on vacation again! This time Mr. Sparkle is in charge, so we're going to see Steely Dan, and then we're going on a treasure hunt! I'll be offline, but I'll take pictures and tell you about it when we get back, unless we're eaten by wild animals. 

Before I leave I'm going to link up with Patti at Visible Monday. I think red clown pants are pretty visible, don't you?

Have a great week, everyone!

Val