January 16, 2020

A Perfect Day To Blog

When the day is full of rain in the forecast I guess any excuses for not blogging are not valid. Plus I had an urge to write some updates, not that things are happening a mile per minute but actually in the laidback slow routine we lived in 'the tropics' of Southern Indiana. I have no idea how I can tell but I am almost positive that the hounds are enjoying a winter that is so much milder than their past ones. So today I will ramble a little bit and post a few recent photos. You can tell not much has been happening in the "blog topics' department. These photos were taken with four different cameras.

A few weeks ago I mentioned I had labwork done thru the local VA Medical Center. It was an option I've always had but I needed to stop by and straighten out some thing on my file since I had not talked to them in 15 years or so. I blogged recently how I had joined the VA Circus ... but they have done a 360° turnaround in performance and I can say they have been nothing but professional and proactive since my complaining here on the blog.

Having an annual physical there saved me time and money. Even around the Christmas holidays they had a followup appointment 4 days after they drew blood and urine. Then a nurse practitioner spent almost an hour going over my results, asking questions about my diet and physical activities. She mentioned that if I wanted they could make an appointment for me to speak on the phone with a VA Nutritionist in Tucson. I accepted that appointment without hesitation ... Two days ago I had more great news confirmed about my health and diet.

You may remember when I have written about different diets over the past 5-6 years. I've tried some not all. They were not really diets to me but just a change in what I ate or how. From years of going back and forth, reading journals online, books from the library, I decided sometime last year that my diet plan was pretty good. Moderation for dairy and beef plus ice cream. Yet there were times I would fall off that eating plan wagon hard and I would be on the extreme end of binging on all the food I should not be eating.

Basically if it was in my house it was gone, in large quantities. Whole packages of Pepperidge Farm cookies, full containers of Ben&Jerry's ice cream, too many slices of a large loaded pizza that would come with breadsticks and cheese or brownies for desert, chips, candy, etc. In all the years of reading about diets and health in books and online, I've never found the cause of such a drastic change in eating in a matter of 12 hours. What brought on these extreme eating binges of mine?

I found out last Tuesday talking to the nutritionist ... "not eating enough protein will cause those binges for junk food and sweets." I use a free app called Cronometer because it gets into the detailed nutrient breakdown on all foods I eat. Their database of food is fantastic and if it has a bar code on the package you can scan that with your smart phone camera and it will load the nutritional data.

From the answers I was giving her and the lab results she could see on her computer, she thought I was going great. Then she explained how I could stop these binges based on what I had told her. We both agreed that I cannot have those kinds of foods in my house. I can go out for a "slice of pizza" or "a scoop of ice cream" or have some "chips and salsa" as an appetizer before my Mexican meal but don't bring any of that stuff home.

We discussed different popular diets, different books that I had read, the food app to log all food eaten, then compared that to the lab work results. What fat I am eating is being processed normally with nothing left over as added calories. The little sugar I add to my coffee is workable with my glucose numbers at the low end of the normal range. Evidently my own diet as I called it, with moderation principals, was working better than I thought they would. She agreed with what I was saying and what I was eating.

Of course the bicycling I do is a great addition to staying healthy. Now I am not in racing shape nor will I ever reach that level of physical fitness again but what little I do is a key to my lab results and general health overall. Every doctor and nurse, except one, has said so. How much I ride outside is dependent on weather during these months but I still get on the bike on a trainer inside to ride for 0-45 minutes. Especially on days like today.

She also agreed with what I read in a book last weekend. The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up by Steven Masley, MD. Eliminating food is not the way to go but the way you eat it and the quantity. Some say beef is beef but the book and the nutritionist said that "grass fed" made a world of difference. Eggs? Only those from "cage free" chickens. Vegan or Vegetarian Diets were not a good option in her opinion. Dr Masley wrote in his book that even a diet like a whole food plant based diet that added fish, poultry and grass fed beef could reverse heart disease in all the tests he had performed for over 30 years.

Of course it's not the 16oz NY Strip steak but one that has been divided up into 3oz or 4 oz portions. I never could tell who to believe when I reads stuff like this since some claim that ONLY a Whole Food Plant Based Diet can reverse artery blockages. Dr Masley can prove it otherwise. Here is a nice sheet in poor quality photo that seems to help me so far.

How do you know if that makes a difference? What about those large cheeseburgers at The Diner sometimes? or back in Indiana at 5Guys Burgers? How do you know what is too much whether it be fast food, junk food or ice cream? Which kind of diet is best? I can only accept my answer by looking at my lab results.

Blood tested in the lab ... it doesn't lie.

During my VA annual physical they gave me a free machine to measure my blood pressure. I was almost ready to click the buttons on Amazon a few days before my appointment to buy exactly that. My apple watch does a great job of monitoring my heart rate but I wanted more data. I logged my blood pressure twice per day for 14 days and then went back to the VA nurse practitioner to go over the results. I could also download that data from the machine if they wanted to verify my spreadsheet.

I sat in her office on Tuesday at 9:30am BEFORE having any coffee and produced a 116/64 blood pressure reading. I was cleared with a "see you next December" and was on my way. The times I took it during the day of normal eating, two cups of strong coffee with two tsp of sugar in each up (16 oz), it still ranged in the 120s/60's

So without getting those Medicare "Notices" on what they pay and what I "might" pay ... I went in for free or a low co-pay that I have not seen yet, drew blood and urine on a Monday before Christmas holiday and the Friday after was back in their office reviewing the results. Two weeks later they confirmed my blood pressure was good and consistent ... finished and not a dime out of my pocket. I am getting different stories on the possible co-pay I might have to pay ... based on some military awards the VA tells me that I'll not have co-pays but I know Viet Nam vets that do pay a co-pay. I'll find out in the next month I guess.

The hounds have not changed. They are doing great and have never looked or felt better since moving back to Fromm Dog Food for Large Breeds in October. Heidi's and Stella's coats have never felt softer and smooth. Stella has healed her two small "elephant spots" that were on her hip bones ... I think the cause was the carpet in my house in Indiana when she would sit on those hip bones as she scratched herself.

Heidi is now going on every .57 of a mile walk we take almost every day except when it rains. She even gets excited when I take the retractable leashes out of the closet. They have done pretty well adjusting from walking in a 7 acre field of grass/weeds to walking on sidewalks with cars (not a lot) passing us, along with meeting people that want us to stop so they can pet the hounds. They are quite popular in the neighborhood.

Every night Stella sleeps in the same spot while I read a book or watch a movie or game. That smudge on the couch that I just noticed is not anything damaging or a stain ... the material has moved in an opposite direction when Stella used it to brace her self as she curls around into her sleeping position. They adapted to the new rule of not getting on the couch very quickly.

My new hip turned 4 months old on January 8th. It had felt great most of the time the past two months but I was still feeling some soreness or stiffness when I would get up off the couch or out of my desk chair. Colder weather made it a little sore ... then things changed almost instantly at that January 8th date.

The soreness and stiffness was completely gone and it did not matter how long I sat on the soft couch or on the hard desk chair. I was back to getting in and out of bed or cars and my truck the normal way, instead of sliding into the seat with by back to the door before swinging my legs around. I could feel the small changes in that hip area that told me all those muscles that were cut were healing and getting stronger each day. Those muscles were back to wanting to exercise, to ride the bike just like before my bike wreck. I don't have to go back to see my surgeon until next December which would be 15 months after surgery.

So healthwise I am good. Not bad results for someone who had their last physical close to 20 years ago.

As far as blogging ???

I am pretty sure I will no longer be blogging every day. There just isn't enough time for me to do that based on what my daily routine has changed into. Time passes quickly every day and before I know it 6pm is there on my watch staring back at me and I am not finished doing whatever I might be doing.

Activities have increase and we are not even in great weather yet. I read a lot more, I hike a lot more and I am trying to ride my bike as much as possible. The information I read in the "30 Day Book" gave me assurances that I cannot ride my bike enough and there was no reason to track my heart rate while riding unless it shot way above the maximum limit. That maximum limit is higher than what I was using ... the old formula of 220 minus your age. The MD author cited that formula as a very general estimate then gave me the correct way to find it.

Back to blogging. Like I have mentioned in past years, there are times my blog is boring to me ... very boring. Same photos of the hounds, sunrises or sunsets and certain hikes just on a different day. That kind of blogging doesn't excite me and I am sure if I am bored with it, so are you as a reader.

I've discussed this with other current and past bloggers so it's just not my messed up head ... you try not to but at times but you catch yourself taking that hike or taking those photos just to do the blog for that day. Then you wonder if those photos are good enough, can't I find something different and better to show people? Sometimes I'd ramble about nothing for pages and other times I'd sit here for an hour and thought of nothing to write about. I notice and do know for a fact that when I blog less I take fewer photos. I've regretted missing some photos in the past when I have taken time off from blogging.

Although it's easier, I'll not move to Instagram and use that as a blog replacement. YouTube is definitely NOT an option. I post a photo or two at times on Facebook for friends there that don't have time to read blogs but want to see the hounds. I've thought about emailing photos to readers that want to see the hounds but not certain that is a good move either.

Then there are the times I enjoy getting away from electronics like computer, phones, tablets and tv's. After the initial excitement of watching movies from Amazon Prime and the shows that Apple produced ... my tv time decreased rapidly and is trending to no tv by next fall. With a spring and summer of hiking, biking and local exploration in moving vehicles, the desire to watch tv in the fall may be completely gone. Tv time in my house is decreasing rapidly even in the middle of college basketball. So we will see what happens.

I've added some time to do some barbell training here at home three times per week. They are based on exercises recommended by the book author who happens to be a cardiologist. Most of them I was doing 7-8 years ago. I implemented my own stretching program for my hip once I found out there was no pain afterward. There was some during the stretch but not afterward so I figured some of that scar tissue was breaking up or stretching. No matter what it was, there is no pain now when I stretch and it's to the point of a normal feeling of good.

As the weather gets warmer I'll be out and about more and more. Not all the time but there will be times the hounds will join me. Yet the one time I took both of them hiking with me or really walking out by the San Pedro River/House ... Heidi wore out a short time after we started as she had her nose to the ground from the time we left the car. Stella had too many distractions ... from horse scent, coyote scent, possible snake scent ... just too many scents for a bloodhound nose. Let's just say they reacted the same way as Winston, Heidi and Sadie when we took our camping trip to Colorado and Utah in June 2015.

Two hands ... two leashes ... two hounds ... both wanting to go different directions at different speeds. It's the BREED not the dogs that make it hard for me to hike with dogs like I read and see on other blogs of those that travel. These two are not herding breeds but hound breeds and their noses are stronger than ever which equates to a LOT of distractions or new things to explore.

So that is about it from the 'Wild West" today.

January 07, 2020

A Spur Of The Moment Hike On Monday

With the hot sunshine out every day with cool temps, the hounds have been spending most of their time sleeping on the warm stones in the backyard. They rotate back inside once they get too hot. The weather has returned to beautiful with morning temps in the 30's. I'll take that with no complaints because I am not experiencing windchill temps below zero and no ice or snow. There has not been a lot going on ... but yesterday I took an impulse trip back out to the San Pedro River and hiked almost 4 miles in the late afternoon.

It's good to know that with each sunrise we are heading toward spring where the sun will start rising earlier, the hounds will get their daily walk in the morning right after my coffee and not in the afternoon. Then I will bike in the mornings right after we get back from the hound walk. I find it hard to ride in the afternoon because I am always finding something else to do. I don't have any projects going on like I would have in 'the tropics' of Southern Indiana. I don't miss the house maintenance and lawn care or in some cases, shoveling snow.

My move from Cox Cable Tv to Apple Tv and streaming Amazon Prime Video along with YouTube tv has worked out better than I expected. I have all the same sports channels I had on cable. I have more movies to choose from that are free on Amazon Prime Video and the programing on Apple Tv is not large in numbers of shows but the ones they have are great, from what I have seen so far.

I stayed up all night last night watching all 10 episodes of For All Mankind, getting to bed at 5am just after I fed the hounds. A few hours of sleep I was up and felt normal except for the concept of time ... it did not feel like 11am. I still have plenty of time to get in a bike ride today after hiking yesterday afternoon. With high 40's and possible rain in the forecast this week, I have to get outside when I can.

After the holidays of not seeing a lot of the Aerostat, it was back in the air yesterday. For some reason because of that, it felt like everyone was back to work when I saw it. Combine that with the increase in early morning traffic in the neighborhood, I could tell it was a 'work week.' Less cars in the driveways and more traffic on the city streets and highways. Things were back to normal.

One little sign I have noticed that my hip continues to heal after it's 4 month anniversary, there is no soreness or stiffness in front of the hip or the socket when I get up out of a chair or the couch. I am also able to get in my cars and truck the 'normal' way now, without facing my back to the seat and sliding in that way. I am also catching myself getting in and out of bed the normal way again, instead of sitting on the side the bed and swinging both legs around on top of the bed.

Small things but big differences.

I still want to take a tour of the inside when it's anchored but there is a zero chance of that ever happening.

Stella likes to check out the temperature of the sun numerous times during the day before she decides whether to sleep outside. She continues to sniff the air or perk her long hears up for any signs of the black lab puppy next door. We hardly hear the puppy anymore as it gets older. It is tall enough now that when it jumps up on their flowerbed on it's back legs and leans against the fence, I can reach over and pet it. Stella can only smell the puppy but can't see it.

I'm noticing in my Blogger traffic stats that when I blog less, the spam comments increase and bot traffic from the Ukraine takes over the lead of all readers.  The other day the number of visits from the Ukraine tripled the number of visitors from the United States with Canada being a distant third place.

With the return of the great weather I honestly thought I'd be riding my bike outside every day this week. I still can get in a lot of riding this week but yesterday I couldn't make up my mind if I wanted to or when to ride. Of course if I wait the temps will get warm as it gets later, but the winds increase. 11am seems to be the best time for both worlds to ride. It's not too cold nor windy and I can get home before the winds pick up.

Yesterday about the time I was going to change into bike clothes I had an urge to take a local drive, just to drive. But by the time I was almost walking up the hounds to get ready to leave, I changed my mind. I didn't want to drive just to drive ... I wanted to go hiking.

I had joined the hounds off to the left of them in this photo soaking up my own sunshine. So it was close to 2pm when I decided I was going to get out and do something. Like I have said before, this area is fantastic for doing things outside and the trails or bike paths/lanes are all close to the house.

By the time I had loaded my small backpack with water, changed shoes and grabbed my hat, Heidi had moved inside to the coolest part of the house to continue her afternoon siesta.

When I want a flat trail and quietness, the San Pedro House/River area is the place I like to go. As I pulled into the parking lot I was the third car and one of the other two belongs to the host at the San Pedro House. I was going to have all this vacant land and trails to myself. People were back to work, kids were back in school ... perfect weather with cargo shorts and a flannel shirt. I was going to start my normal path but had a different plan where on the way back I would make a right turn and head for the river, then circle back to the house.

I was walking at a pretty good pace because I wanted to get some miles in for hip exercise and I wanted to get back to the car before they close the gate out by the highway. I wasn't sure what time they do that so I wanted to get back to the car and on the highway by 4pm. I found out later the gate stays open until sundown. I can explore new territory next time even if I have a late start.

I was traveling light, with only a small pack for water and my iPhone. I took my trekking poles for this one spot I would need them but carried them most of the time and didn't need to use them on the trail. My heart rate was up to 109 bpm in no time and never went over 112 bpm. That's a nice range on the bicycle to get in shape without a lot of energy used. I am seeing higher heart rates on my recent rides and find it hard to keep it in the 117-120 bpm range.

While walking the trail I could see all kinds of signs for the past weekend traffic. Horse shoes marked the trail in only one direction, mountain bike tires, ATV tire tracks and multiple hiking boots or shoe soles. With all the fresh prints in the dirt and sand I could tell it has been a busy weekend with people out here.

If I were to ride my mountain bike anywhere off the pavement this area would be the place. With the new hip I cannot fall again unless I want to see my surgeon back in the operating room. He reminded me of that during my last followup appointment. There are only a couple of places with loose sand where I might have problems keeping the bike up but 99% of the trail is hard packed dirt, a few rocky areas but very safe for me.

Here I am heading east toward the San Pedro River or that group of trees on the horizon, left side of the picture.

There are many trails out by the San Pedro House, with a few that I have not hiked yet. No hills to climb, very little elevation change and a dry river bed I'd like to follow sometime. Walking miles in that soft sand would be pretty good exercise ... but the quietness is what I like the most in this area and of course the scenery.

It will be a lot different in a few months on this bench. The temps in the late afternoon will be over a 100°, yesterday it was 62° and sunny. That's the Coronado NF on the far left ... then Miller Peak at the highest point with Carr Canyon next to it. I love the mountain views that I can see in any direction.

Other than what you see here in these photos, not much else has been happening. I think this is the first time since I moved here in June where days feel like they are back to normal. Routines are relaxed, the schedule for doing things is wide open. With great weather, less tv time and less house/yard maintenance, I have time to do all kinds of different outdoor activities. Just as I expected.

I am going through a 'down period' for blogging though. I find it really hard lately to come up with the words, entirely opposite from the times I cannot stop talking/writing. I've noticed on sidebar blog list more bloggers are post less frequently. Some of them have moved to Instagram possibly, or making money on YouTube. Some have just stopped. I remember a few years ago I had 53 blogs listed and most of them were blogging on a regular basis.

I knew once I moved out here I'd be blogging less because there is just so much to do compared to where I lived before. Better year-round weather, more time available during the day and new activities. The hounds have settled in too but their routine hasn't changed that much, just more time outside per their choice. Heidi even leads the walk some afternoons and actually gets excited now when she hears the word 'walk' or sees me taking the retractable leashes out of the closet.

That's the latest update from the 'Wild West'.

January 04, 2020

The Hounds Are Ready For 2020

What can I say? Life has been busy around here with normal stuff and some days I run out of time. I guess with us being here almost 7 months, life is back to a normal feel and a routine. I never make goals for the new year but I do see some things already changing within the first few days. All good stuff. It's also one of those times I am becoming a little bored with blogging and find some hikes and trips are good without taking photos. Someone told me once "the best pictures you will take will be the ones you don't." Although with a lack of adventure there is some news or updates really.

Heidi and I both had annual checkups including blood lab work. She is a healthy 10-11 year old basset with a waistline the vet really liked seeing. My lab work came back better than I ever expected with low cholesterol, normal blood pressure and a PSA count below 1. There was nothing on my blood lab work that was above the limits. I guess the labwork confirmed my diet of "moderation" and an occasional splurge is working okay. I set up an appointment for the same physical next year before I left.

My vet called me yesterday, or the administrator for the vet clinic. She was wanting to know what my complaints were about with Heidi's visit. I never mentioned their clinic name by name but they tracked me down by a comment I made on Facebook. Imagine that!! I'll just say that nothing turns me off more than a vet clinic trying to "up sell" me when I know my hound is healthy and all I want is the annual checkup and a rabies shot that is required by law. Nothing else.

With blue skies and higher afternoon temps I am still riding my bike inside on the trainer but plan an afternoon ride today with the temps in the 60's. There will still be a cool breeze but it will be nice to get back out on the road after a week or so.

 A zoomed in look over towards Tombstone. I finally decided yesterday I'd wait for a parking space and walk among the crowds to see Tombstone up close for the first time. For me, too many people and everything was overpriced. I took only a couple of photos and then deleted them when I got home. I'll try to back when few people are there.

Stella has a new nighttime sleeping routine. It's always been these two spots to sleep most of the night. This is one, the other is just to the left of the photo where she is next to the bed, against the wall next to the door. The new routine ???? She will sleep in the area where she can dig and move any shoes that might be in her way. The other morning I found she had slept on two pairs of shoes and a pair of hiking boots. Right on top of all of them. Yes, my Merrell shoes are under her and not seen in the photo.

Heidi sinks deep into her bed that I bought in October (?).

Stella's way of begging for food or when she is waiting for me to finish a container of yogurt or ice cream. She will get the container to lick out every last drop that is left. You must admit, she is consistent and disciplined in her process. Yes that is a little bit of Arizona dirt on her nose ... that's her latest new thing ... eating the dirt under the rocks in the yard. Never a dull moment with her.

Once she is fed her breakfast and a short trip outside she is ready to start her day of relaxation. I think she looks much younger than 10 years old.


A few days ago I attempted to write a post. I load all of my photos first and then type between them. When I clicked the button to upload the photos from my computer to the blogger format, this is what I saw. It's the first time I've ever seen that screen in the 14 years I've been blogging. I blogged for my online business prior to starting this blog in 2011.

All it took was to turn my computer off and on, then log into the blog again for it to go away.

I still love seeing the new sunrises each day but they are also becoming routine. Like how many photos can you post on the blog of the same thing or things?

This is the ONLY reason I am woken up by a whining bloodhound every morning and a basset hound shaking it's head hard enough where I can hear her tags making noise. They like to eat no matter what time of day or night. That is their main goal first thing in the morning.

You can see they love the sunshine and have spent every afternoon outside sunbathing and taking siestas.

I admit I am surprised that Heidi has adjusted from a grass yard to one of stone. Her allergies are gone, her eyes are clear and she takes the daily walk with Stella and I every afternoon. We will move that walk back to early mornings once spring arrives. The move to Arizona has been good not only for her but all of us.

Besides what is posted here I don't have much more to say. Things are good, life is very enjoyable and I still love this area as much as I did the first days I moved here. The new hip continues to heal and I have finally been able to read the list of things they installed and read the step by step process without feeling sick to my stomach.

Things are back to a normal routine here in the 'Wild West'.