Category Archives: Admin

New Year, New Me, New Look

To say that 2014 was an eventful year for me would be the understatement of the year. We only made two posts all year, for a number of reasons. Chiefly, I took a spill down the stairs in early March that left me with a shoulder broken in four places (major dislocation made the head of my humerus break completely off at the neck, and my arm socket was cracked in three places additionally) that required an orthopedic surgeon to put it back together with a plate and several screws. My protein stores were already low, but my tendency to stop eating when I’m in severe pain didn’t help matters any. I had pretty much a repeat of 2011 – hospital acquired lung infection caused pneumonia and then ARDS again, and I ended up with sepsis and my blood pressure bottoming out. The sepsis also caused a pulmonary embolism, which if I hadn’t been transferred from Mt. Carmel West to OSU the day it happened, probably would have killed me. They put me on a ventilator, and I spent the better part of two months switching between the ICU and the PCU, except this time around they didn’t give me the luxury of sedating me, and between high doses of steroids to bring up my blood pressure and sensory deprivation in the ICU, I came down with both steroid and ICU induced psychosis, which left me extremely agitated and paranoid. Right before I got transferred to Select Specialty Hospital, they put me back on a trach.

I consulted with bariatric surgeons at OSU, and they agreed that the revision I had in 2008 was a bit too aggressive. We decided I would be put onto TPN (IV liquid that contains all elemental nutrients) until my protein stores were high enough again for me to have a partial reversal of the revision. They planned to leave the trach in until the surgery was completed, and I ended up coming home with a central line, TPN, and trach at the end of July. I had my revision surgery in mid-September, and things have been slowly back to normal since then. Initially, I had very little capacity or excitement about eating, so my blogging fell by the wayside this past year. In the past month or so, I’ve been more passionate about eating and cooking. Passionate enough to take it back up again.

So with the new year comes a new look (temporary for now – I’ll eventually be upgrading to another one once I figure out the ins and outs of customizing a theme), new posts (I’m going to try to post every day), and a new me (I lost about 15 lbs after the surgery, so I’m in the 210ish range with plans to lose another 15-20 lbs.). Stick around, new material coming tomorrow. 🙂

A New Year, A New Way of Life

Happy New Year, everyone! Thank goodness 2013 is over, because this past year has been quite challenging, to say the least. But with the new year comes a new way of life, because I’ve decided to go gluten free.

To those who know me outside of the blog, you’ll remember that in the last 5 years I’ve been dealing with one setback or another. It may be related in part to my gastric bypass revision to a highly malabsorptive configuration, which in and of itself has it’s own set of challenges. I knew going in I’d have to be really conscientious about protein intake, taking supplemental vitamins and calcium every single day.

My hospital stay in 2011 was directly related with my trying to “diet” after my surgery, because I hadn’t been satisfied with the weight loss so far. Because of depleted protein stores, my whole body went into metabolic collapse, and compounded with a hospital acquired infection that gave me sepsis, well you all know how that story ends.

At my lowest weight after my hospital stay (195 lbs) I looked extremely sickly, was extremely pale, had all of my hair falling out, and my teeth were so brittle that they broke left and right, and I finally got most of them pulled and got dentures. I was happy to be under 200 lbs, but in my case I was weak, and still had a long way to go to be fully recovered. Ever since then, I’ve eaten as normally as possible. No dieting, despite my packing on an extra 40 or 50 lbs, because I didn’t want a repeat of 2010/2011. I ate as much protein as possible, like 4 eggs at a time, or a 1 lb. steak in a sitting, etc.

But lately I’ve been feeling sick again. I’m dealing with an indescribable amount of inflammation and joint pain, I’ve been feeling weak, I’ve got sore spots on my tongue that mean it burns like hell when I eat or drink something with the least bit of acid in it (like ketchup, or orange juice, for example). Over the past few years, it has seemed like one medical crisis after another – we’d treat the problem, and in it’s place came two more. So now I have to swallow more pills than an old lady – everything from thyroid medication to painkillers to muscle relaxers to depression and anxiety drugs to medicine for neuropathic pain to sleep medicine for insomnia.

I’ve believed for years that all of this is connected to something that is autoimmune, but I’ve never been able to pinpoint it to one particular thing, and neither have my doctors. And usually my labs are good (not counting the super-low Vitamin D levels that are darn near impossible for me to get the values to a normal level. So for these god knows how many years, I’ve been treating the symptoms rather than the underlying disease. I don’t how, but somehow when I was researching the anomalies in my labs (high Alkaline phosphatase, low Vitamin D, low calcium, low iron, low total protein and albumin, a clotting factor abnormality (in my case, Factor V Leiden)) and I came across the NIH website on Celiac disease. Not only do my lab results almost mirror the markers attributed to Celiac disease, but all these disease processes I’ve been struggling with all these years (abdominal pain and issues, lactose intolerance, bruising easily, depression and anxiety, fatigue, hair loss, a rash that just won’t go away, mouth ulcers, infertility, joint pain, and peripheral neuropathy (which I’ve never understood why I had it, since it’s most closely related to being a side effect of diabetes, which I have never had). Everything just clicked in place, and now it all makes sense. Maybe the reason I’m having so much trouble keeping my protein and vitamin levels up have absolutely nothing to do with me and maybe everything to do with this underlying disease process that on top of surgery-induced malabsorption, is further malabsorbed because the intestinal villi are damaged to the point where I absorb almost nothing, no matter how many supplements I take.

My primary care doctor seems to agree with me. At least as for as ordering the lab tests, and getting me in touch with a gastroenterologist that can do an endoscopic intestinal biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Or I can go to the dermatologist and have them biopsy the rash (which looks suspiciously very much like dermatitis herpetiformis (a rash that is only present in those with Celiac disease). I’m still waiting for answers. I had the blood drawn Monday to check for antibodies that show how my body reacts to gluten. If that is positive (and sometimes it doesn’t show up on the blood screening, even if you do have Celiac diease), at least that will give me answers. I’d much rather deal with the underlying disease head on (and one that can in almost all cases be managed by a gluten free diet), than continuing to treat the symptoms by throwing drugs, drugs and more drugs at the problems.

I’ve decided that, even if either the blood or biopsy tests come back as negative, I’m going to adopt a gluten free diet. No matter what, it can’t hurt and it can only help. And truthfully? I’m willing to try anything to keep myself from the road of malnutrition and all its ugly side effects I had in 2010/2011. I’ve been told to keep eating gluten throughout the testing and diagnosing period, and it’s been tough because I want to hurry up and get better. So expect (hopefully within the next couple weeks) that many of my posts here may be trying to navigate my way in a world that has gluten everywhere, even in hidden sources. In the meantime, I’ll be posting some dishes I’ve made over the past year or so, that I’m dying to talk about. It’s great being back. 🙂

Are Food Blogs Trying to Kill You?

I came across a really interesting post on Eater today, about how a study was done on recipes posted on a half dozen or so popular food blogs, and how the nutritional data run on these recipes (not provided on the original blogs) showed unhealthy numbers on some of the recipes, so the author of the paper came to the conclusion that unhealthy recipes on food blogs may be a contributory factor to bad health.

Show of hands….how many of you actually don’t know that a recipe (for example) for pound cake that uses 2 sticks of butter in the recipe isn’t something you should be eating every day?

Everything with moderation. Even a person like me, who even at my lowest adult weight has been considered obese and who has a raging eating disorder that I struggle with every day, get that. You can’t eat quinoa and kale and leave everything else out.

People ask me why I haven’t had a blog entry for a few months. Truth of the matter is, the last year has been a struggle for me, and I didn’t think it was fair to bring other people along for the roller coaster ride that has been my life. Alternating with feeling guilty when I ate (because I regained some weight due to some bad choices) and not eating, then remembering that when I stopped eating before my health suffered badly. So then I’d eat, and because food is like a drug or alcohol is to others, I wouldn’t know when to stop because I don’t get the same signals (of fullness) that other people get to tell me when to stop. So I overeat, feel guilty, hate myself for it, and then the whole cycle starts again. But unlike drugs or alcohol (things that you can choose to do or not do), food is something you need to do in order to survive. Sobriety for a person with an eating disorder isn’t not eating – it’s finding a healthy way of eating and sticking to it. The key to my “recovery”, so to speak, has been finding the root cause of my messed up relationship with food and starting from there.

So instead of blogging, I’ve been in therapy. I’ve found that the root cause of everything is based in my childhood. My great-grandmother showing me love by feeding me until I almost burst, with high fat, calorie laden German food, and my mom making me go without when I was back home (FWIW, I think she has her own issues with food, and I think that they way she rationed food with me was just an extension of her own issues – like alcoholism, eating disorders can be a multi-generational thing). So food became all about security for me, feast vs. famine, love vs hate, safe vs. danger. And because my husband has similar issues with food, we’ve been feeding each others addiction – so we both had to get help in order to even begin to heal.The time I would have spent blogging I’ve instead spent in therapy. And for the first time in many, many months, I feel that I’m back in the drivers seat.

I’ve always thought that people were smart enough to know the majority of Paula Deen’s recipes are unhealthy. That’s common sense. That’s why I feel that most food bloggers aren’t doing a disservice to other people by compromising their health. What I’ve found to be far more insidious, far more dangerous are the fit bloggers who make it all about avoiding whole food groups at a time, who make it more about numbers on a scale, more about the size of their clothes, more about how they’re far more disciplined than you because they can run a dozen miles before you even wake up in the morning. These are the people who make judgment calls on other people’s worth based on their size, where they choose to buy their food, what food they decide to eat, people whose own eating disorders are on display in a way that young girls, looking for ways to fit into a society that judges their worth on unrealistic standards of a fashion industry made for a size 0, a size most women will never reach because the price (your health) is far too high. But girls, looking for acceptance in a world where a size 8 is considered plus sized, read these blogs and take their nutritional advice and foster eating disorders of their own. I’m not saying that every person who has a healthy living blog is like this – but there’s a sizeable enough majority that I didn’t want to become one of them. I didn’t want to be that person that caused someone else to do something stupid like not eating, or engaging on a month-long juice or master cleanse that sends your body into starvation mode, where the weight loss is really lean muscle loss, where the number on the scale is dropping but so are you because you lack the strength or stamina to pull your carcass up a flight of stairs. I’ve already been there, I’ve already learned that lesson the hard way. It doesn’t mean that my disordered thought patterns don’t tell me to do that any more. They do, all the time. And that’s a big part of why I’ve avoided going out in public or going to any food related functions for the last year and a half – because part of my regaining a healthy relationship with food meant I had to be abstinent from the things that triggered me. I’ve never lost my passion for blogging – I’ve been keeping an offline (pen to paper) journal that has filled that need, I just didn’t want to be that irresponsible person that caused someone else to try to emulate me right into the hospital. Protein energy malnutrition (kwashiorkor) is not pretty, folks. Those who saw me right after I got out of the hospital may remember the wheelchair, or the fact that I looked like Gollum because almost all of my hair fell out and my teeth were breaking left and right.

I’m okay with my new reality now. I’ve been pretty loquacious on Facebook, and those who have been true friends through thick and thin (you know who you are, I ♥ you all dearly!) have known how to get in touch with me and have actually done so. I also found out that all of a sudden when you can’t or aren’t promoting someone else’s stuff on your blog anymore, or providing them with free advertising, that you find out very quickly who your friends really are. You also know who you are, and that’s been noted as well.

I’ll be back to blogging soon, I promise (and I really mean it this time). I’ve had enough therapy (and am properly medicated now) so that I don’t need to self-medicate with food any more. I’ve still got enough issues to know I’m not a 100% well, but I also know which of my thoughts of food are disordered and which ones are healthy. Part of that meant my becoming comfortable with the new, higher number on the scale, or not being able to fit into some clothes. But now I can walk unassisted, have grown back enough hair to be able to pull it back into a ponytail, and can stand in front of a stove long enough to cook a meal. I’m slowly venturing out into the real world again. It’s been a slow process, but I’m getting there. I’m really glad that some of you have stuck around long enough to be reading this. It means more than you know.

Brief Hiatus – Back Soon with a New Look!

Postings have been sporadic around these parts – part of it for reasons that are personal (getting on proper meds to treat my PTSD/depression/anxiety – the difference before and after is like night and day). A big part of it is technical reasons – wanting to switch over to a new theme that will actually work the way it is supposed to, won’t have to be designed to work around the limitations of the ad network I had belonged to. There’s tons of things to write about – so definitely no writer’s block – but don’t want to make it any more frustrating than it already is now. Part of it is because I need these last couple of weeks to get things organized, to get pictures processed, to divvy up the writing between Paul and I. Due to some ongoing dental issues I’ve been dealing with, Paul has picked up my slack and will be the outward face of Columbus Foodie – he’ll be doing restaurant reviews, attending and covering events, judging, the farmers market reports, while I’ll be here at home gardening, organizing, cooking and writing. I think it’s a step in the right direction, and a direction I’ve been pulled in for quite a while now. It’s just a little difficult, when you’ve built your identity around a hobby you can no longer be relaxed enough to enjoy, to make the decision either to keep going with it or letting it fall by the wayside.  There’s enough left to write that neither he nor I are ready to hang it up for good quite yet. But it has become very clear that it can’t quite continue the way it was going: sporadic, inconsistent, and untimely. It does no justice to either the words or the reader, and it just isn’t fair to anyone.

So, the next 3 or so weeks, I’m going to find and then configure a new theme – not sure which one yet, but I do know that I want it to be on a white background so it’s easier to read, navigate the links, etc. It will also integrate social media right into the site to make it more usable. Once I relaunch (on January 1st), I’ll strive to update everyday, but at the very least 3-5 times a week, depending. Maybe more. I’m so far in the weeds with old drafts that I could write nothing but and have a new entry for every day of 2013. I’ll try to consolidate where possible (for example, rather than going week by week for 2012 farmers market reports, I’ll just post a link to a Flickr slideshow that shows our pics from the whole summer, with weekly reports starting again in the spring.

So, thanks for reading, and thanks for continuing to read. I’ll be back before you know it!

I’m also going to implement a better system for getting my additional pages organized (food blog directory, events in Columbus and elsewhere in Ohio, menus for local restaurants) – it’s hopelessly outdated, and I’m hoping to use Outlook Tasks to get the updates done regularly.

So, one last time – I’m so sorry for being a sucky blogger in 2011 and 2012. I so don’t have my crap together right now. Now that I can finally think clearly again (because the panic attacks have stopped), the Herculean task of redesigning/relaunching seems like something I can handle.

Admin: A Candid Note About the Past Year

Admittedly, it’s been ages since I’ve posted – between a flurry of medical and dental stuff I had to deal with, somewhere along the line I got hacked. And bad. I closed the security holes they were exploiting, but cleanup after it all is long and slow, and requires going into each individual entry (and I have 1,100ish) and stripping out bad code. I’ve been working on this a couple of weeks now, and I’m still only up to September 2009. At this rate, I’ll be done…probably mid-August.

But I really need to talk about the elephant in the room. Even though my body has completely healed from the trauma of the last year, my mind hasn’t. I have been dealing with tons of depression and anxiety in the aftermath of what I went through. Even though life is slowly getting back to normal, I still can’t go a single day without reliving at least part of it in my mind. A lot of things have happened due to my illness – almost all my hair fell out, so I ended up shaving it all off. So much calcium was leached from my bones when I had malnutrition that I now have osteopenia (weakening of the bones, precursor to osteoperosis) and my teeth became so weakened that I broke two down to the gumline in the span of 4 months. Since these were front teeth, I decided to cut my losses, save the ones I could, and get the rest pulled before they had an opportunity to break. I did this with the intention of getting immediate dentures, but the dentist I went to was so bad that they took more teeth than they were supposed to and the dentures they provided me were unusable (didn’t fit in my mouth at all, had missing teeth).

All this to say that even though I’ve been extremely self-conscious about my appearance before this, now I’m so self-conscious that I refuse to leave the house except for doctors and dentist appointments. I get panic attacks even thinking about going out. I don’t even go to the farmers markets anymore, which is one of my favorite things in the world to do (Paul goes in my place, and is great about taking pictures). I have tons of things to write about – hundreds of drafts, literally. But I’ve just been so overwhelmed by negative emotions lately that I’ve been avoiding blogging because I don’t want them to bleed through to my writing. Many would say this is the time where I should stop blogging, when all of the joy I took in cooking/gardening/travel/going to restaurants is gone.

But that’s not it, really. Somewhere deep within, I’m still passionate about those things. I *want* to cook, to travel, all of those things. But before I can find joy in anything again, I first need to deal with the demons that are left over from almost dying. I need to seek professional help, because I realize that there’s something there that I need to deal with so I don’t become a prisoner in my own home, in a jail of my own making. I’ve seen what PTSD has done to my loved ones who suffer from it, and I don’t want to be an emotional cripple full of regret 20 years from now. There’s a price to keeping people at arms length – you save yourself the trouble of being hurt, but you also become very, very lonely with no real friends to lean on when push comes to shove. I’ve found strength where I least expected (by repairing the relationship I have with my father – the first time we’ve talked, really talked in 40 years), and found the courage to end relationships with family members who not only didn’t have my back. But I could have not made it through the past year without my sister & best friend, Maurya, who quite literally uprooted her entire family to move in here to help me out when I first got home. Her kids added joy to my life like you wouldn’t believe (and my biological clock is pretty much shot, with me turning 40 in like 3 weeks). They’ve since moved on to their own place, and the fact that they’re not here anymore makes this huge ass empty house seem even emptier.

The point being – forgive me for not posting often. Bear with me, please. As long as you see me on Twitter, or Facebook, or Pinterest, things are OK. I’m going to try to deal with my issues professionally, so I can figure out what’s wrong and fix it. I want to be better, I want to have confidence, I want to be around people and not feel uptight and self-conscious and uncomfortable because I feel like I don’t fit in, or that what I’m saying or my opinions are stupid. People tell me that I’m a much harsher critic of myself than other people are, but I no longer feel comfortable (did I ever, really?) in my own skin. So uncomfortable that it’s a barrier to living a normal life.

Food brings people together, I’m convinced of that. But I don’t know the art of conviviality. I invite people to do things, 9 times out of 10 I can’t get even a single person to go with me. The few times that I’ve invited people here, they either stand me up or criticize something about where I live, how I keep my house, etc. I see colleagues in the food blogging world have relationships with each other outside of public events, and I feel left out because I’m not invited or included. I don’t get invites to weddings, or showers, or anything like that. Not a fault on the part of the other people – I understand that it’s something about me that I need to work on.

But I’m tired of superficial relationships. They do take so much energy to maintain, energy that I don’t have to give right now. And I don’t understand the value of going through the motions when I feel like I’m losing ground when I try. The world went on without me when I was ill and afterwards, and it continues to go on without me. I’m still trying to catch up with the things I did in 2010, let alone stuff I’ve done in 2011 or 2012. It really is a lot to process, and I’ve barely even scratched the surface.

All to say, bear with me as I try to venture forward. Sometime in August, I’m going to be introducing a new look to go with the venture back into the food blogging world. As easy as it would to be to quit right now, I need to keep going. I need to keep writing to stay sane. You’ll see a lot more posts from Paul, since he’s going to take over some of the posting while I work through all this. He’s judging at the Rib-Off tomorrow at the Ohio State Fair on behalf of the Columbus Foodie team. He’s quite psyched about it, it should be fun for him and I look forward to his report of it (as he photographs/blogs about it, and all the other sights at the Fair, since I probably won’t be going this year since I’m less than a week post-surgery and still waiting on those darn teeth. I’m glad that issue will be resolved by the time Taste the Future comes along (more about that, soon – in the next couple of days I’ll be writing about last year’s event and offering up three pairs of tickets to be given away here on the blog).

And please, if you’ve tried reaching out to me before, but I haven’t been receptive, or if it’s some kind of signal I’m putting out that seems standoffish, please let me know. It’s not you, I promise.

Thanks, as always, to all of you still reading. It’s a lot to process, I know, and much more personal than I usually get on here. But I felt as if I owed you all an explanation. It’s not fair of me to disappear and not explain why I’ve been gone. I’m going to be blogging a lot of pretty old stuff, but I need to get through all of that before I can get to doing new stuff.

Franklin Park Conservatory February 2011

For Christmas 2010, right before I got really sick, I bought myself something I had been wanting for years, but had always just stopped short of buying – a really nice DSLR camera so I could step up my game as far as food photography. People always asked me what kind of camera I use for my photos, and seemed somewhat surprised when I told them it was a fairly inexpensive point and shoot. So, Nikon D5000 in hand, I took an introductory class at Cord Camera, and part of the class was a trip to the Franklin Park Conservatory here in town so we could take pictures there. Here’s the best of what I walked away with that day:

Franklin Park Conservatory February 2011

Franklin Park Conservatory February 2011

Franklin Park Conservatory February 2011

Franklin Park Conservatory February 2011

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to use the camera right away (or much at all last summer) because I still lacked the strength to lift the camera and hold it steady enough to get good pictures. But I’m making a commitment to trying to get a good mastery of the camera by the end of the year – between planning to take lessons with a very talented photographer friend of mine, reading camera-specific books outlining all of the features, and lots and lots of practice shots, I’ll get the hang of it, I’m sure. In the meantime, you’ll see a mix of both types (DSLR and point and shoot) of pictures on the blog, with the eventual goal of going to all DSLR in the near future.

What resources did you find invaluable when trying to learn photography? Luckily it’s one of those fields that allows you to *always* learn something new, and I’m curious to find out what worked for others in improving their own work…

March 2011 Roundup

As you all know, I have been doing my roundups of recipes from other blogs for ages now – almost as long as this blog has been in existence. Lately, though, I’ve been getting feedback stating that it was difficult to navigate in paragraph format, so I looked for other solutions for doing the roundups that would both let me get them up more quickly, and would be more user friendly in the long run. The solution? Quite literally right in front of my nose. Pinterest! So from now forward, I’ll be collating the links using the bookmarking features of Pinterest, which pretty much does what my roundups have done in the past – providing a direct link to the original blog that  featured it. The benefit? You get to browse the recipes in a much more visual manner. I’ll add new boards as each month comes to pass, and will provide the link to the roundup board in a blog entry here on the site. I’m almost all caught up with adding recipes (only have 50-100 more to put up for the past year), so we should be up to date  shortly. If you’d like the follow my boards so you can see the recipes as they’re added, follow me by clicking on the button below:

Follow Me on Pinterest

One last admin note – I’m still working on the blog entries for my Jersey trip. I haven’t posted yet because I’m trying to work ahead a bit. I have to have surgery for carpal tunnel in a couple of weeks, and will be off of heavy typing duty for a couple of weeks after that, so I’m looking to build up a queue of entries so there won’t be much more long periods of silence. Other than that, I’m doing better than ever, so don’t worry – everything is fine here on this end.

So, without further delay, here’s the Pinterest board for March 2011…


Now up on Pinterest:

March 2011 Roundup of Recipes

2007 PROPERTY TAX HOMESTEAD FILING PERIOD SET TILL MARCH 1, 2007 go to web site gwinnett county tax commissioner

US Fed News Service, Including US State News July 10, 2006 Gwinnett County issued the following press release:

Property owners may file for a 2007 homestead exemption from now through March 1, 2007. Homestead exemptions can offer tax savings to property owners who own and occupy a property as of January 1 st of the tax year for which the exemption is filed.

Property owners who already receive an exemption and had no ownership changes to their deed do not need to reapply. They will continue to receive their current exemption on property taxes.

The Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner co llects property taxes for the cities of Berkeley Lake, Dacula, Grayson, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Snellville, and Sugar Hill. Property owners residing in these cities’ limits and who apply for a county exemption will also receive applicable city exemptions to which they may be entitled. in our site gwinnett county tax commissioner

Just a Jersey Girl at Heart

First things first – I’m one of Columbus’ biggest fans. Even though I am her resident by choice, not birthright, this not-so-sleepy burg in the center of Ohio has always meant a host of things to my life: new beginnings, coming into my own, learning to trust myself and others again. In many ways, I’ve watched the growth of the city parallel my own over the last almost two decades. No matter where I go in the world, I’m always one of Columbus’ biggest ambassadors. I truly believe we have something special here, and I endeavor to bust the stereotypes of our flyover state image on a daily basis.

Still, no matter how long I’ve been here, no matter how long I stay here, it will never be “home” for me. South Jersey, will always, and I mean ALWAYS, have that dubious distinction for me. Warts and all, it’s the place where I was born and the place I spent the first 23 years of my life. It’s the place where I know ten ways to get anywhere on back country roads within a half hour, the place that even though is eerily familiar, it never ceases to surprise me each time I visit. It’s a place where local has been a way of life longer than I’ve been alive.

If your image of New Jersey begins and ends with Snooki and Co. and involves a punchline about an exit off the turnpike, prepare to have your preconceived notions busted. That’s not the New Jersey I know. Even though I’ve talked about New Jersey before in my blog entries, I don’t think I’ve ever gone into great detail about why I love it so. I’ve just returned from a very cathartic two week trip (thus the radio silence on my end, as I’ve been out living life to its fullest rather than experiencing it from the periphery). This time around, though – I took pictures, and lots of them. So, in the upcoming couple of weeks, expect a bunch of entries about my trips – both this one, and my visit to New Jersey in late 2010 for my reunion (right before I got really sick). And in the upcoming months, I’ll probably be making another substantially long visit as well during the summer months, one where I’ll talk about the real Jersey shore, what Jersey Fresh really means, and about one of my favorite Jersey pastimes – fishing and crabbing.

I really feel as if I’m at a crossroads. Almost dying changed almost everything about my life, and the pull of home gets stronger each time I visit. It’s like a tug of war with the best of each world pulling me in that direction. This year will be about the ties that bind me to each locale, and about figuring out what’s most important in my life. Thanks for taking the journey with me. 

What a Week!

Crazy, crazy week that has kept me from posting because I’ve been up to my eyeballs in the crisis-of-the-day. From my netbook revolting on me (and subsequent transfer, as we speak, of irreplacable files to a new computer) to my stove almost killing someone (and the subsequent replacement, delivery and installation of all new appliances), to a full of medical appointments past week, I’ve barely been able to sleep let alone blog. Stay tuned in the next few days for new posts along with extra ones to make up for the ones I missed. Thanks for understanding. 🙂


US Fed News Service, Including US State News December 22, 2011 HOUSTON, Dec. 19 — The University of Texas System of MD Anderson Cancer Center issued the following news release:

Jan. 4 A Conversation With a Living Legend(R) in Dallas Supports Cancer Research, Patient Care The 22nd annual A Conversation With a Living Legend(R) , in Dallas, benefiting The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, showcases Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, in an interview with broadcast journalist Miles O’Brien. Supported by Dallas-Fort Worth area business and community leaders, the luncheon, 11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Jan. 4 at the Hilton Anatole, benefits research and patient care initiatives at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Andrews Distributing Company and AT&T are this year’s event underwriters. Co-chairs are Stephanie and Hunter Hunt. Ana and Don Carty are honorary chairs.

One of the world’s most recognized and respected brands, Virgin encompasses air and rail travel, leisure and hospitality, telecommunications, media, health and wellness, space tourism and clean energy through more than 400 branded companies in 29 countries with branded revenues of $21 billion. The Virgin family of airlines includes Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and Virgin Blue.

Branson founded Virgin at age 20 as a mail order record retailer and later expanded it into a record shop and recording studio. Virgin Music became one of the top six record companies in the world. here md anderson cancer center

In 1986, Branson crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a boat in the fastest recorded time ever. The next year his Virgin Atlantic Flyer was the first hot air balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

Branson realized his dream of opening the world’s first commercial space tourism business with the launch of Virgin Galactic, designed to take passengers to suborbital space.

In 1999, Branson was knighted for “services to entrepreneurship.” In 2004, he launched Virgin Unite to tackle tough challenges facing the world. In 2007, he joined Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel and Desmond Tutu to form The Elders, a group that seeks sustainable solutions to global humanitarian issues. In 2010, he launched the Carbon War Room to advance climate change efforts. He recently formed Ocean Elders with Ted Turner and others to promote ocean conservation, protect the ocean’s habitat and wildlife and preserve its ecosystems and species biodiversity. see here md anderson cancer center

Branson is the author of “Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way,” (Crown Business, 1998) “Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons in Life” (Virgin Books, 2006) and “Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur” (Virgin Books, 2008). His latest book is “Screw Business as Usual” (Portfolio/Penguin Group USA, December 2011).

Miles O’Brien is a 30-year broadcast news veteran whose career reflects a lifelong passion for aviation, space, science and technology. Based in Washington, D.

C., O’Brien is science correspondent for “PBS NewsHour.” He has produced several documentaries for PBS programs “Frontline” and “Blueprint America.” He is chief correspondent for the National Science Foundation series “Science Nation” and the Discovery Science Channel series “Innovation Nation.” O’Brien also is managing editor and a founder of a series of shuttle launch webcasts hosted at www.

He worked as a CNN correspondent, anchor and producer based in Atlanta and New York for more than 16 years. In February 2003, he led the network’s coverage of the Space Shuttle Columbia loss.

A third generation general aviation pilot, O’Brien is the owner of a small single-engine airplane and frequently flies himself to and from assignments.

Since its inception in 1990, A Conversation With a Living Legend in Dallas has raised more than $10.5 million. With every $1 million the event raises,

RIP: Sadie (1999-2012)

Excuse me if I’m bit distracted today. I’m profoundly sad because we had to put our 13-year old Beagle Sadie down last night – we woke up in the middle of night to let her and our Shih Tzu out for a potty break, and Sadie was fairly unresponsive to being woke up – she did eventually awaken, but was crashing into everything, yelping, and seemed totally unaware of her surroundings. Needless to say, a middle-of-the-night emergency vet visit was in order, and the veterinarian she saw agreed that Sadie was incredible distress, that it was likely a stroke, brain tumor, or aneurysm, and that given her age and a similar, less serious but still not normal episode a few months back, that the most humane thing we could do was to end her suffering. In a way it was a difficult decision (as it is for any pet owner), but in a way it was not. We just wanted her to not be in pain anymore. After being given a sedative to calm her down, the vet gave her the euthanasia shot, and she passed away peacefully around 3am.

Sadie Looking Adorable

Sadie came into our lives in a most unusual way – we came home from running errands in October of 2005 to find her chained up to our light post out front. We brought her inside (fully intending to take her to the SPCA), but her sweet disposition won me over in seconds. She had a collar on that had a phone number listed, but the number had been disconnected. After asking around the neighborhood and trying to find out who she belonged to, we found out she had been wandering around at large for over a year, and that her original owners had moved away without taking her with – that she essentially was homeless. She was part of our family within a week. After taking her to the vet, we found out she was 6 or 7 years old. Even though we knew we’d only have a few years tops with her (life expectancy for a Beagle is usually 11-13 years), we welcomed her with open arms. We were rewarded with the pleasure of her company for the last 6 ½ years.

We knew she was on the decline when she started developing cataracts, and then eventually, was stone deaf. In the past year, it was getting increasingly more difficult for her to get around. We were preparing ourselves for the inevitable – even though I feel an empty place in our hearts and our home right now, I know she’s better off. Hopefully you all will know the love and loyalty of a special pet in your life. I know my life was better because Sadie was part of it.

I’ll get back to posting regularly tomorrow, but for today, I just want to reflect on her and my time with her.