Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Look Back at 2008

I am writing this synopsis of 2008 to give myself a chance to relive the ups and downs of the past year. In many ways it was quite a wonderful year with just a little bit of stress and some health issues. I am hoping that by recapping the past year I can gain some insight as to where I have been and what I want to accomplish in 2009. I am not a big resolution maker just because if for some reason you don't stick to it all it does is make you feel like you failed. So I will just try to enjoy 2009 and hopefully I will be able to look back on it next January and feel good. So let's begin.

The year started out just fine, nothing spectacular but everything was going good. Thomas, as usual, had to work a lot in January and February since the New Mexico Legislature was in session. He also celebrated his 46th birthday on January 17th - we really didn't get to do much since his work was taking up most of his time. While he was working with the Legislature I just did my normal work and took care of the house. I also planned a trip to South Texas. My friend Regina lives in McAllen and I was taking a road trip to visit her. I really had a great time and got to some parts of Texas that I had never seen before. You can read about that trip at Touring Texas, Visiting Friends and Letterboxing. I also decided to start a project that would keep me busy all year long - I pledged to take pictures every day and post one picture a day on a blog - you can see how this project turned out at As I See It 2008.

I returned home at the beginning of February while Thomas was still very busy at work and I just fell back into my normal routine. But I also started planning my next trip. Another trip to Texas with my friend Diane. And when Thomas' work slowed down again we started to do some work on the house. In August of 2006 we replaced all the windows in the house and during the process the drywall had to be cut and then patched and finished. We just didn't get around to painting and putting the trim up. So the first order of business was to take everything off the walls and pack up all the knickknacks so that we could work easier. We felt like all the walls needed to be freshened up with a new coat of paint. So by the end of February we had begun the redecorating project.

Late February and Early March found me and Diane traveling to the Hill Country of Texas. The reason for the trip was to attend a letterboxing Event in Bastrop, TX. We got to visit some old friends and make a few new ones and we also visited Diane's Mom. A Tall T.A.L.E. will give you all the details of the trip. March also found us getting together with Diane, John and Chris to dye Easter Eggs. I really enjoyed this as it brought back a flood of childhood memories - such fun - you are never to old to be a kid again. During March we also continued to work on the house between work and trips - we were making great progress and things were looking good.

As we moved into April Thomas really made a lot of progress on the house but he was also planning a few short trips for work. He attended a conference in Oklahoma City, OK; a work meeting in Portales, NM and a Finance Meeting in Austin, TX. I sometimes try to travel with him when my work schedule allows - I wasn't able to go to Oklahoma but I did have the time to go to Austin. You can read about this trip at Lone Star Letterboxing and More Capital Boxing. the rest of April was used to continue working on the house.

May wasn't as exciting as the beginning of the year. I actually worked pretty close to full time at the hospital. They had been busy and had also cut back on the Travelers and needed more Per Diem help. It was good since I hadn't worked much because of all of the trips. On days off and in the evenings Thomas and I completed the house decorating and got everything back into place. What a great relief to have the windows finally finished and every wall and ceiling with a fresh coat of paint. This project also allowed us to do a major spring cleaning and get all the cabinets, drawers, closets and shelves cleaned out and organized. It was a good thing this project was done because June provided us with a curve ball.

The summer was pretty much a bummer and ended up being all about surgery and recovery. At the beginning of June I noticed something a little wierd with my eyesight but it wasn't something that alarmed me. Then one day at work I had a lot of problems with depth perception, but I was able to finish the day. And after work I even went to meet Diane, Jil and Ginny for coffee. While driving home after wards I began to get worried because things were harder to see and my depth perception seemed worse. I pulled over and covered my right eye and immediately started freaking out because I couldn't see out of my left eye. I got home and Thomas took me to Urgent Care where we found out I had a Detached Retina. I won't go into detail about it here since I wrote detailed posts throughout the ordeal and if you would like to know more you can read about it starting at Detached Retina. During June I visited the doctor 11 times (1 urgent care visit, 1 evaluation, 2 surgeries and 7 follow-up visits). I also celebrated my 47th birthday on June 2nd - which seems to come faster each year.

July found me still dealing with the Detached Retina stuff and I wasn't able to do anything. I was pretty much sedentary throughout June, July and some of August. This was disappointing since I had been pretty active for the last couple of years and was just getting into hiking again when all this started. I was also a little saddened because I was gaining weight (and I still haven't been able to lose it yet) - hopefully I can regain my activity level and lose it this year. Thankfully Diane, Chris and Peggy found the time to visit me and help relieve some of the boredom. Diane also rescued me by taking me to Albuquerque one day for some letterboxing and to have dinner with another letterboxer and her family - you can read about it at East Mountain Letterboxing. Thomas was a big support during all this and I don't think I would have done as well if he hadn't been there. He worried about me and even arranged for someone to help me out when he had to attend a conference in Portland, OR. I always knew he loved me but this just brought it out and strengthened it. In July I had 4 doctor visits (1 laser surgery and 3 follow-ups).

In August things began to get better. My eye was healing well and by mid August the doctor had cleared me for all normal activity and I was able to go back to work. The only thing was that my endurance and strength had greatly diminished. I found that even the simplest task really wore me out and I had to take frequent rest breaks just to recuperate. By the beginning of September I was able to work full days and do the normal household chores but anything else really tired me out. We did have visits from a couple of friends from Texas in late August. My friend Regina visited us for a week. It was mostly just hanging around the house and relaxing since I really didn't have that much energy. It was still a wonderful visit and I always enjoy spending time with her. Then two weeks later our friend Donna came for a long weekend. By this time I was feeling a little better and we took a drive to Glorieta, NM and did a little hiking. I managed to do seven miles with a lot of rest periods. It took me much longer to complete this distance at this time than it would have before the surgery. But none the less I was excited that I actually could do the hike at all. We did have some bad news during August as well. Our friend Lynda Cranston died following a long battle with cancer. Lynda and her husband, A.J. lived in Santa Fe for a while and we became close friends. Then one day about two years ago they told us they were moving to Montana to be closer to A.J.'s family. It all made since when we found out Lynda was sick - I guess she felt it would be easier for A.J. when she was gone. We miss her a lot and hope A.J. is continuing to heal and take care of himself. In August I only had one doctor follow-up visit. Thomas also decided to take on another big project - he wanted to clean out and paint his Dad's house. His Mom died four years ago and not much was changed with the house. He decided it was time to de-clutter and clean it up. He started by working on one room at a time. He painted the master bedroom and changed the carpet as well as eliminated some of the extra furniture and knickknacks. He did a little at a time after work and on weekends. He pretty much did this project by himself - I think it was a way of finally getting past his Mom's death.

At the beginning of September Thomas and I started planning a trip to Southwest New Mexico to do some hiking and letterboxing. We had actually planned this trip for the second weekend in June but had to cancel it when my retina detached. So we took a long weekend and headed south - it was a great trip - we did a lot of hiking and found and planted quite a few letterboxes. This trip was documented in Headed South in New Mexico and 999 - if you feel inclined to read about it. This also marked a milestone for my letterboxing - in the two and a half years that I have participated in this hobby I was coming up to my 1000th find. My friend Astro D (aka Diane) had planned a very special box. She asked other letterboxers that we have met over the years to carve stamps for this special box - it really made this milestone special and you can read more details at One GRAND day of Letterboxing! September also was marked with much happiness since I was now getting out more and increasing my exercise and activity. And again I only had one doctor follow-up visit. Thomas decided this month to get back to his art. I think he is really talented and he decided he wanted to try and recapture his love of painting. He did this by using the photographs I have been taking. He printed out my photo of the day and taped it into a sketch book - he would then draw it with pencil colors or watercolor pencils. I have really enjoyed seeing him do his artwork again and I see that it has brought some happiness back into his life and it also helps him release stress since he gets drawn into the artwork and forgets about the problems he had during the day at work.

Back in April my Dad called and told me that he and his girlfriend of 7 years were getting married. My Mom passed away 15 years ago and I feel that it was time for my Dad to finally move on. They planned the wedding for October 4th. Since Thomas and I pretty much lost our summer we felt that a nice vacation was warranted. So instead of our normal route through Texas to Louisana we decided to head east on I40 and visit some new areas. So we made our way out of New Mexico and into the Texas Panhandle, then through Oklahoma, Arkansas and into Memphis, TN. From here we headed south into Mississippi and then to Louisiana. We arrived in Lafayette a few days before the wedding and got to visit with the family and help my Dad with some last minute preparations for the wedding. It turned out to be a great trip and my Dad really seemed happy - and in the end that is the only thing that matters. There is more detail about the trip at Four New States and a Wedding. We were only home for a little over a week before we were traveling again. Thomas was attending a conference in Hartford, CT and since I have never been to Connecticut I decided to tag along. While Thomas attended his conference I would do some sightseeing and letterboxing. Fortunately Thomas also had some free time so that we could explore this area together. You can read more at Connecticut Letterboxing Trip. This month I had one follow-up visit with the doctor. Thomas also changed jobs this month. He decided that the problems that were brewing in his department were getting to be too much and the enjoyment he had for his job was disappearing. He still works for the same department but in a totally different capacity - the stess has decreased and he seems much happier and I like seeing that. He has also taken his drawings from his sketch book and is now starting to transfer those to oil paintings on canvas. He has really emersed himself in it and I am happy that he has an outlet instead of just working all the time. He has made great strides in his emotional and psychological well being this past year. I am hoping that it continues into next year.

November started with a bit of sadness. Boudreaux, our 12 year old bulldog was having some health problems and Thomas and I had to make a very difficult decision. In the end we opted to put him down - we just felt his quality of life was too low to justify our keeping him around and putting him through any surgeries. Good-night, sweet prince . . . says a good deal more. He is greatly missed but remembered with a lot of love. There was also cause for celebration and hope as this country made a bold decision and elected Barack Obama as our 44th President. I found that I was happy and relieved that we could go for such change and hopefully correct the mistakes of the last eight years. This month also found me back in surgery for my eye. This time was to replace a lens and remove the oil from my eye. The doctor assured me that this was the last surgery for the eye. The surgery went well and my eye is healing well. The vision is still blurry and I was told that it would just take time for it to clear up. Again, you can read about the entire ordeal at Detached Retina. This month I had three doctor visits (1 surgery and 2 follow-ups). Thomas also finished his work on his Dad's house - the entire house is painted and there is new carpet, everything is fixed and working well and the best thing is that it isn't cluttered anymore. Just after Thanksgiving his brothers came and picked up things they wanted and then they had a garage sale for the rest. I feel it gave Thomas some closure and an ability to move on - and I feel that he is much happier.

So here we are at the end of the year and we still miss Boudreaux and there is an empty space in our home and hearts. But we continued on. I love the Christmas season and was looking forward to it - I decorated the house the weekend after Thanksgiving and I am now making plans for the holidays. But first, Thomas and I had talked about maybe getting a new puppy sometime in the spring, well things change. Thomas talked to someone at work who had Blue Heeler/Red Heeler puppies. So on December 11th we took a trip up to Las Vegas, NM and fell in love with a wonderful little female puppy. That evening we introduced Daisy to her new home. She wasn't brought home to take Boudreaux's place but she has brought some love and fun back into the house. The rest of December was filled with fun and celebration. First, Thomas and I had Diane, John and Chris over for our 2nd Annual Cookie Night - a whole lot of fun. Second, we attended Holiday Enrichment for the Animals at the Rio Grande Zoo - more fun. Next we went to Chili Night at Chris' - Diane, John and Toni were also there - it was fun and we got to celebrate the Christmas season. And last, we spent Christmas Eve doing the Canyon Road Farolito Walk and then attended an Open House at Diane & John's. New Year's Eve isn't something that Thomas and I usually celebrate - we pretty much stay home and Thomas goes to bed at his normal time, I stay up and watch TV and then I wake him up in time to watch the ball drop. This year we had a friend in town. So we decided to take a walk around the Plaza and then we had dinner at Maria's (along with a couple of Margaritas) and then we returned home and watched movies (It's In The Water and Mamma Mia!) We ended the night watching the Dick Clark New Year's Eve Special and got to see the ball drop - we wished each other Happy New Year and then went to sleep, not terribly exciting but nonetheless we had fun. I also had two follow-up visits with the eye doctor this month.

But probably the most important part of the year was on December 30th - Thomas and I celebrated our 19th anniversary. We use that date because that is when we moved in together. We also have another anniversary that we celebrate and that is October 11th - on that day in 2004 we were married in Provincetown, MA. It may not mean anything in this country except in the state of Massachusetts but it was more powerful to us than we could have imagined. So we acknowledge it each year as well as our original anniversary. Here is to 2008 filled with great memories and to 2009 with hopes for another great year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Detached Retina (Update #9)

Another follow up visit to Dr. Wyant today and my left eye is healing well. The macula is resting flat against the back of the eye and the rest of the retina is attached and healing well. As for the lens - Dr. Wyant thinks it is positioned well and is also healing well. There are a few sutures still present which should dissolve over time and that will also improve the healing. I don't have any complaints about the eye - it doesn't hurt or itch. I guess it still waters a little every now and then but that is the worst of it. Since I stopped the dilation drops about three weeks age the light sensitivity is completely gone. So there are a lot of things to be thankful for. I did express my concern to the doctor because my eyesight in the left eye is still pretty blurry. Again he told me it takes time for the eye to heal and the vision to improve. I guess I just need to be more patient and hope that with a little more time the vision will clear up. My next appointment is in a month (January 26, 2009) and I am hoping that there will be more good news. This whole ordeal has been going on for a little over six months now and I am hoping that the end is near, we will see what happens in a month.

Detached Retina (Update #10)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Goodbye, Eartha!

Eartha Mae Kitt
January 17, 1927 – December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve in Santa Fe

Each year on Christmas Eve there is an area of Santa Fe that decorates their neighborhood with farolitos. Thousands of people descend upon this area and walk the streets admiring the wonderful glow coming from all the little paper bags filled with sand and a candle that line the streets and walkways. It is a perfect way to spend the evening. There are usually bonfires (luminarias) burning at different spots along the route to allow people to warm up as they enjoy their stroll. And you will hear Christmas Carols being sung all around you. It is the best reason to be in Santa Fe for the holidays.

Usually Thomas and I travel to Louisiana to spend Christmas with my family. I come from a large family - my dad is one of eight and when you add the spouses, grandkids, great grandkids and significant others we usually end up with close to 100 people for our annual Christmas Eve celebration. Until a few years ago one of my aunts would have this at her house, but it finally became to big of an ordeal and the eight brothers and sisters decided to take turns hosting the night. One of the changes involved renting a hall for the night so that we had the space to actually enjoy ourselves. Everyone also contributed decorations that get passed around each year so that we can decorate the hall so that it is more festive. We also do a potluck so that one person doesn't have to do all the cooking. We always have a good time and it gives me a chance to see everyone in one place instead of having to find the time to visit all of my aunts, uncles and cousins seperately. This year we decided to stay in Santa Fe for the holidays since we were in Louisiana in October for my dad's wedding.

On Monday night and Tuesday morning of this week we had as incredible snowfall. Tuesday afternoon and today was sunny but the temperatures stayed in the low 30's so we still have most of the snow on the ground - everything looks so beautiful and what a treat to have a white Christmas. Tonight Thomas and I left the house at 4:30pm so that we could make our dinner reservations at 5:00pm at Cafe Paris. We enjoyed a great dinner and dessert and just chatted about nothing in particular. It was very relaxing. Afterwards we walked through the Plaza and made our way to Canyon Road. We strolled slowly along Canyon Road stopping every now and then to enjoy a bonfire or take a picture of the farolitos. It was quite crowded but still very pleasant. Quite a few people were singing Christmas Carols as we passed - it was not always the most pleasant sound but it was fun. At some point we made our way over to Acequia Madre, which was much less crowded. We stopped to take pictures a couple of times and then finally made our way back to the Plaza and our car. We ended the night by attending an Open House at our friends, Diane & John's house. We visited for about an hour and then headed home - by this time we were tired and cold and were ready for our warm house. It is always nice to spend the holidays with your family, but Thomas and I can't always make it to Louisiana for Christmas. And besides Thomas is my family, so enjoying the holiday in Santa Fe with him is very special.

So Merry Christmas from Santa Fe. I hope your evening was as pleasant and special as mine was. I hope Santa is good to each and everyone of you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A White Christmas?

Last night it started snowing around 8:00pm. It continued snowing through the night and morning. At about 11:00am it cleared up and the sun came out. What a beautiful sight! We had from 8 to 12 inches accumulate over the property. Everything was glistening and white - it looked just like a song. I decided to bundle up and take a walk on the property and take some pictures. Here is what I saw.

So with all this snow maybe we will have a white Christmas in Santa Fe. That would be a wonderful treat.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Enrichment at the Zoo

This morning Thomas and I drove down to Albuquerque to meet his cousins, Ruth and Chris. We met them at the Rio Grande Zoo to watch the animals open Christmas gifts. The zoo had a Holiday Enrichment for the Animals. The zookeepers spread the holiday cheer to some of the animals by decorating their areas and giving them presents. They did this for the primates, elephants and cats. It was a lot of fun watching as they sniffed the packages, ripped them open and ate the food that was hidden inside. They all seemed to really enjoy the activity. We spent the most time watching the gorillas and the orangutans. They really got into the swing of things and made us laugh. Besides watching the animals open gifts we wandered around the zoo and enjoyed all the other animals as well. It was an extremely pleasant morning since there were very few people present and we didn't have to fight to see the animals. There was a mother orangutan with her baby (Reese) - it was nice to see the mother holding the baby and still participating in the fun.

After a couple of hours we left the zoo and decided to head to Old Town to find something to eat for lunch. We parked and walked for a short time and then went to La Placita Dining Rooms for lunch. It was great food and a great place - I do recommend it if you are in Old Town. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch and talked about the morning and just relaxed. It was a great day and we enjoyed our time at the zoo and our visit with Ruth and Chris. Below are some pictures of our morning at the zoo.