Monday, May 19, 2014

Welcome To The Club



So, my Club of the Chronically Busy application got denied.
It's been a minute since I've blogged, hasn't it? Although I'm not a member of the Club of the Chronically Busy--you know, those who spend vast portions of the miniscule amount of free time they want us to think they have, regaling us with incessant updates on their importantly spent time and concurrent unavailability because spontaneity and laziness frighten them so--I actually have been kind of busy. In fact, I've been so busy that I've neglected to pay the annual dues for my highly coveted state and national society of anesthesiologists memberships. Shame on me! Why, with the American Society of Anesthesiologists being bargain-priced at only $665/year, and the Georgia Society of Anesthesiologists a mere $375 annually, how on earth could I pass up such a deal? I've been so enriched by these organizational memberships over the years (not!), how could I have been so careless?

More bitter pills of rejection. Boo hoo. 
Last week, I received this not-so-gently worded reminder from the GSA, admonishing me that since I didn't remit the required dues payment by April 20, 2014, "the delinquent member's membership shall automatically terminate and the Secretary shall notify the ASA of the same." Bunch of tattletales. Whatever. To add insult to injury, the last two lines of the letter read: "Together, the GSA and ASA are successful in representing the professional interests of anesthesiologists. Your support for the GSA is, therefore, appropriate and deserved." Talk about a guilt trip! The real reasons I didn't pay my dues are because a) I'm paying two mortgages and don't happen to have $1k in spare change lying around to pay these exorbitant fees, and 2) I'm aggravated that the ASA now mandates membership in one's state society for annual renewal. In other words, we no longer get to decide whether we want to join at the state level; Big Brother's making that decision for us. Pfffft. Sounds like a racket to me.


Wish I could dip my bruised toe into this cool snowball tree!
So, what exactly has been keeping me so busy lately? Well, for one thing, I've started running. The spring of 2014 here in Georgia has been absolutely amazing, with milder than normal temps and relatively low humidity. I've gotten to where I crave being outdoors as much as possible. I can't think of a better way to accomplish that than taking Simon and Lilly on daily three mile walks, followed by a solo run. With all this walking and running, there are bound to be a few injuries. I've only been running for a couple of weeks, but I'm already up to 4 miles, which I run at a pace of 10 minutes per mile. Even though I bought new running shoes, sized up a half-size to prevent toe-strike trauma, I ended up with a bruised big toenail last night. It doesn't hurt, and it's not bad enough to quit running, but I won't be getting a pedicure anytime soon.

Nobody puts Lilly in a corner, not even Horner's!
Coincidentally with the onset of these super long dog walks, Lilly developed a weird eye condition where her third eyelids suddenly popped up. The vet initially thought it was some sort of parasite-borne inflammatory process. She drew some labwork, but since Lilly wouldn't pee for her, Spartacus and I had to collect a urine sample later that day. A urine sample? From a dog???? I wasn't even sure exactly where her urethra was, much less how we'd obtain a sample. After visually inspecting her hindquarters, we devised a plan in which we'd shove a small shallow container under her junk as soon as she popped a squat. Worked like a charm. When two weeks of topical and oral steroids yielded no improvement, we were referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist. I had no idea that canine subspecialties even existed. After running a few tests, the diagnosis came back as Horner's syndrome. Horner's syndrome occurs when there's damage to the sympathetic nerves supplying the eye and eyelids, causing the eyeball to sink back slightly, reddening of the conjunctival sac, constriction of the pupil, droopiness of the upper eyelid, and in dogs, elevation of the third eyelids. It's usually benign, but can be associated with trauma, cancer, or other systemic disease. She explained that weird stuff like Horner's just happens in dogs sometimes and since Lilly's bloodwork and neurological exams were negative, we'd wait a few weeks to see if the problem resolved. What didn't make sense to me was that Lilly's Horner's was bilateral (occuring on both sides). There had to be an explanation.

Training collar snafu :-(
As soon as I googled canine Horner's syndrome, I figured it out. When I take the dogs on walks, I clip the leashes to their training collars which have rounded prongs situated on either side of the trachea. Lilly's collar is a little too small and fits pretty snugly. Since the sympathetic nerve chains run on either side of the neck, exactly where those prongs would be applying pressure during a walk, I surmised that it was the probably the collar that caused her bilateral Horner's syndrome. Needless to say, we're not using the collars anymore. The only reason I use them is because I'm walking two very large, strong dogs by myself in a dog-centric neighborhood, and other people's dogs aren't as well behaved as Simon and Lilly. They're basically just there to nip potential canine altercations in the bud. Ugh. It could take weeks for her eyes to go back to normal, but I'm confident that they will. Fortunately for me and Lilly, our injuries haven't slowed us down a bit.


English country gardening is punishable by law in Atlanta
Even though I walk and run the same routes every day, the routes themselves are never the same. Here in the KWD (Kirkwood, our historic East Atlanta neighborhood), there are always people and other animals doing interesting things outside, from squirrels making booty calls to movies being filmed right across the street to the lady dressed like Santa's helper, who walks around with a clipboard inspecting telephone poles and preaching expletive-laden sermons to an audience of no one. Not long ago, there was a full-sized goat living inside a house just a few doors down from us. How agrarian is that?! More recently, one of my neighbors became a local celebrity when the City of Atlanta charged him with code violations regarding his yard. Ray McGrath has lived in Kirkwood for 32 years. He teaches botany at a local college and maintains his yard in the style of an English country garden. His colorful, unmanicured garden attracts all manner of birds, butterflies, and bees; it's a natural habitat. Ray's egregious offense prompted the city to fine him $1000, citing him for a "premises covered with high weeds and overgrowth." Ray went to his court hearing and actually pled guilty to having an English country garden, LOL. Luckily, the Kirkwood community got wind of Ray's hearing and bombarded the city solicitor with e-mails on his behalf. When he showed up in court a few weeks later, the judge quickly dismissed his case, and he's been back out tinkering around in his yard ever since.

Yep, that's real blood on that there iron
Last, but not least, I've been busy being a rock and roll mom. My sons' band, BearKnuckle, just released its second EP, "Blood on the Iron". You may be wondering, how did they come up with such a provocative title? Welp, let's just say there was a testosterone-fueled altercation at a party involving lots of booze, two jealous men, an iron, and leave it at that. BearKnuckle's EP release party was last Thursday night, kicking off their tour of the southeast. Boy, am I glad I requested Friday off! I didn't get home from that show till nearly 3 a.m., and though I was hung over from my lack of sleep, I spent the day uploading live videos from the show and grooving on BearKnuckle's awesome performance. I don't know how I managed to do the three mile dog walk and a four mile run that night, but I did it. As Spartacus and I were chilling out that evening, watching a rerun of "Dexter," it occurred to me that I'd promised to make Nick and Rory some homemade Clif energy bars to take on their tour, a tour which they were leaving for in two days. We'd talked about this a month ago, when the boys told me how difficult it is to eat healthy on the road. When they're on tour, Nick always brings trail mix, granola, and dried fruit that he ends up sharing with everyone. On the road, nutritious food is scarce and expensive. Having balanced healthy snacks to munch on in the car is a big help, but trail mix, granola, and dried fruit become a total yawnfest after a few hundred miles. During our conversation, Rory mentioned that he loves Clif bars. We were all like, "Yeah! Clif bars! That's the ticket!" Clif bars are expensive, so I told the boys I'd make some homemade ones. Clif bars are exciting, too. So many flavors! The downside is that they aren't exactly healthy...they're loaded with carbs and processed ingredients. As far as homemade Clif bars go, I got as far as researching recipes before Lilly's crazy eyes distracted me. Upon finding a recipe I liked, I ordered a big bag of puffed quinoa to substitute for the puffed rice cereal it called for, knowing that since quinoa's packed with protein, fiber, iron, and magnesium, it would result in a much better nutrition profile than rice. To sum it up, I was pretty confident I could make better Clif bars myself.

Post-slingin' Spring flinging in Bessie Branham Park
Saturday morning, before Spartacus and I walked across the street to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the annual Kirkwood Spring Fling, I grabbed that big ol' bag of puffed quinoa and started slinging away in the kitchen. The basic recipe called for simple ingredients: rolled oats, puffed rice or quinoa, raw honey, flax seed, dried fruit, nut butter, chopped nuts &/or seeds, vanilla, and cinnamon. Fortunately, I had everything I needed on hand. As usual, I improvised a lot. (I'm one of those people who can never follow a recipe...life on my own terms, y'all!) The original recipe was similar to a no-bake cookie, meaning that the bars needed refrigeration to hold their shape. According to the recipe's author, baking them had resulted in crunchy bricks, not the moist chewy texture of a Clif bar. Since the boys wouldn't have access to a refrigerator on tour, I decided to dehydrate the bars instead, adding chia seeds as an egg substitute to help bind the mixture as well as supplying protein, fiber, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, and minerals. The first batch I made was chocolate chip. I added bittersweet chocolate chips to the original recipe, used dried raisins and apples for the fruit, and sprouted pumpkin and sunflower seeds for the nuts. For the chocolate brownie version, I got really creative. I had a jar of organic Nutella (cocoa-hazelnut spread), so I used that along with some almond butter, cacao powder, cacao nibs, dried Montmorency cherries, and ground cardamom to produce a satisfyingly deep dark chocolate confection. Since I had lots of dried apple bits left over, I decided to try an apple pie version. I wasn't too pleased with that one until I added some unsweetened organic applesauce and lots of pie spice; the peanut butter was overpowering. Think I'll tweak it next time and use macadamia nut butter instead. It's rich and buttery, but much more neutral than peanut or almond butter. It'll really let the apples shine through.

BearKnuckle Bars!!!
I went all out, packaging the dehydrated bars individually in cellophane with laser-printed labels. As the labels were printing, it dawned on me that I couldn't call them Clif bars because that name's been trademarked. I thought about calling them Kris Bars, but then, it came to me. These were BearKnuckle Bars! Believe it or not, they're so darn good, I'm thinking about marketing them to some of the small businesses in the area. Wish me luck. On Friday, I'll be flying up to Columbus, Ohio for BearKnuckle's Saturday night show on the OSU campus. My younger sister lives there with her husband, and BearKnuckle will be performing in the same show as their son's band, Love Alive. Needless to say, I am super-stoked.

Why I refuse to feed the machine
Last week, I came across this Walt Whitman quote: "Do anything, but let it produce joy." I'd just scribbled it on the chalkboard backplash above my stove when I got that stupid downer of a letter from the GSA. Womp womp womp woooomp *sad trombone*. Sorry, but no, paying $1040 in annual dues to a couple of professional organizations whose services I don't utilize doesn't exactly produce much joy for me. Fuck that shit. I refuse to feed the bureaucracy machine any more than I have to. It's really kind of a no-brainer, especially after getting ass-raped by Uncle Sam....AGAIN! What little extra money I do have nowadays is better spent enjoying lattes on a sunny afternoon at Taproom Coffee, the hip new coffee and craft brew joint down the street, or buying comfy running shoes or helping fund a cool project, like "Just Breathe" by Ian Pettigrew, a Canadian artist afflicted with cystic fibrosis (CF) whose dream it is to photograph adults living with CF. My beautiful sons are on his list of subjects.

Welcome to the club, Kris Landt!!!
I saw some graffiti when I ran past the Big Nerd Ranch last night, the same run during which I injured my big toe. It served to reinforce this joy-producing theme of liberation from imposed obligation I've been grooving on lately. "Do what makes you happy," it read. It's ironic how members of The Club of the Chronically Busy tend to be the unhappiest and least-fulfilled people I know. Makes me wonder who and what they're doing it all for, and glad I'm not one of them. As for the ASA and GSA, they're basically political machines. I've never been interested in politics, and apparently, my unwillingness to shell out large amounts of dough to invest in bureaucracy makes me a delinquent, unappreciative loser in their book. They may represent my profession on a legislative and economic level, but they don't represent me personally as a practicing physician anesthesiologist. Here's the thing. Like Groucho Marx, who famously said he'd "refuse to join any club that would have me as a member," I don't want or need to belong to a club. I'm happiest doing my own thing. If there's a club for that, then sign me up.

BearKnuckle, "Blood on the Iron" EP
Ian Pettigrew, "Just Breathe" project

BearKnuckle, "Soma" from "Blood on the Iron"

22 comments:

  1. Wow. I'm impressed Kris. You're into all that? Had to laugh @ your Vet visits, having spent a fortune over the years on pampered cats & pedigree chickens. Gorgeous dog btw.

    Oh well; what can you do? They are part of the family.

    Yeah, just loved running; the freedom to just go I guess. But after 9-marathons, the knees & back just gave up. Just too bloody old!

    Anyway. that band is just getting better & better.
    Cheers, ic

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    1. Oooh, nine marathons, Ian?! Wow! It's hard for me to imagine getting up to a double digit run. As for the vet visits, yes, they are all out of pocket and very expensive! Grrrrrr. But we sure were relieved to find out there's nothing seriously wrong with Miss Lilly. BearKnuckle's first night on the road in Florida was pretty productive...the venue sprung for two hotel rooms for them! First time they haven't had to share beds on tour :-)

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  2. What a spectacularly excellent read to go with my morning coffee. I took my time and absorbed every nook and cranny. Kris ... you're in a class all by yourself and you don't need to pay these stuffy clubs. Find your joy producing your BearKnuckle Bars. In fact, apply for "Shark Tank", bring your boys and the rest of the band and ask the Sharks to back you. With all of those hip ingredients (many I've never, ever used before) you sound like you have discovered a secret combination of tastiness with added goodness that even I would want to try. I'm more of a lemon meringue pie kind of woman, although I have tried a few of those healthy bars. to going to Google it, but what the hell is ... chia seeds?!? I've heard of chia pets but was unaware they produced chia seeds. Very interesting (shades of Laugh In). Fabulous day my friend!

    Please tell Lucy I hope she feels better soon.

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    1. Theresa,
      Glad you enjoyed the post. I will have to check out what Shark Tank's all about. A friend of mine recently opened a wildly successful coffee and craft brew joint just down the street, funding it through a Kickstarter campaign. Seems to be the way to go these days. Chia seeds are amazing! You can toss them into smoothies and baked goods, and even make a no-cook tapioca-like pudding with them. Great source of protein, fiber, omegas, and minerals. Because my sons both have cystic fibrosis and are constantly fighting off pulmonary infections, their caloric requirements are more than double that of a non-affected adult. Every calorie has to count, and that's why I decided to create BearKnuckle Bars. Still experimenting and tweaking. They only take about 10 minutes to put together, and then, they sit in the dehydrator, so very little active work on my part. It's a win-win for us all. I will convey your canine well-wishes :-)

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  3. "Together, the GSA and ASA are successful in representing the professional interests of anesthesiologists. Your support for the GSA is, therefore, appropriate and deserved." Wow that sure is a carefully worded hard sell.

    What exactly does this GSA do for you, does it increase your wages or insure you or anything useful? I would not want a membership with them if they laid the guilt on like that.

    That iron is gruesome, anyone end up going to the hospital?

    Good luck on your bearknuckle bars.

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    1. Re: GSA, none of the above! But hey, I could volunteer to help out in the word-crafting department ;-)

      No, no one ended up in the hospital, thank goodness! Very gruesome, but made for a great album name.

      re: the BearKnuckle Bars, I will have to investigate what one has to do to operate a home kitchen in the state of GA. If it's too complicated, I'll just keep making BearKnuckle Bars for the boys. they could be a "free gift with purchase" of merchandise at their live shows.

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  4. Homemade clif bars., Kris? My daughter would love that. She's a clif bar junkie. So glad the weather has turned balmy in Atlanta and you're getting to spend all that exhilarating time outdoors. I've been doing likewise and it's absolutely wonderful. Sorry to hear about Lilly's eye troubles, however. Hope she recovers soon. Walt, you and I are all on the same page. We love our freedom and our joy. Life is the only club I want to belong to. And there's no membership fee.

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    1. "We love our freedom and our joy"...absolutely, Marty! It's ridiculous how excited I am about these Clif bars, but it makes me feel good to know the boys are enjoying good nutrition on the road...it's so important for their health, especially given their issues with CF. I'm about to take the dogs on a walk right now...it'll get to about 84 degrees here today with a chance of rain.

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  5. Glad you're back to posting! I have to say, I am on the same level with a lot of this stuff, namely:
    1) I let all of my memberships lapse this year as well. I hate to be a "What have you done for me lately?" person, but seriously - What have you done for me lately?
    2) Bruised toe-wielding runners unite

    Also, please let me know when you get those bars in a store they sound amazing! I can't handle Clif bars, but would love the same flavor in a less processed version. Have you tried marketing to running stores? There are a ton in the area and I know a lot of runners who would be all about those things.

    Lastly, you're such a rockstar Mom!

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    1. Kathryn,
      I'm in complete agreement with you on #1. A free service is one thing, but a paid membership is another. If there's no reciprocation and no perceived value, what's the point! Re: my toe, ran on it today, but only did 3 miles. Seems to be OK. Grosses me out to think about losing a toenail! When I make another batch of BearKnuckle Bars, I'll either bring some to you at work or swing by your place (since we live so close) and let you see what you think. Marketing to a running store is something I hadn't thought of, but that would be a great idea. What I'm trying to do is create a nearly raw, completely unprocessed, whole food source of quick nutrition. I'm always looking for a good bar that's not made of chemicals, so maybe there'd be a market for what I'm doing.

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  6. Wow, Kris, I can tell you've been busy! I go with Marty that life is a club we all in and it's free!. I think your running everyday is a fantastic way to participate it (I will be extremely happy if I can do half as you do). Paying that much for just a name isn't worth the effort.
    Great photos! That bloody iron reminds me Dexter! Love the quotes by Whitman and from graffiti, yes, do things that make us happy might be the gold rule of happiness.

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    1. Haha, yes, I thought about Dexter as well when I saw that bloody iron. Only this wasn't make believe! I think any time you can move your body outdoors, it's the most sublime way to celebrate being in the Club of Life. And I agree, doing things that make us happy could very well be the golden rule of happiness.

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  7. Nice to catch up with you! Poor puppy! Bare Knuckle really rocks! Really stinks we can't drive down to Columbus on Friday. Best wishes.

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    1. Hi Charlene,
      Glad to hear from you! Aw, man, that would have been cool to meet up in Columbus, but maybe next time. Glad you liked BearKnuckle's new song.

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  8. Kris, I am glad you decided to skip extortion calls and enjoy running around in refreshing spring instead, taking care of your pets and designing BearKnuckle Bars! Only someone especially gifted like you could do all that, and rightly so.

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    1. Uma,
      I thought that was a very wise decision on my part, too. I've really been having a good time this spring in the most spontaneous way. You just can't beat that.

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  9. Now that was an impressively written update Kris. You seem very busy. Do you need me to write a letter to the GSA? I promise to be very redneckfully eloquent and snotty tactful? There is so much info in this post it is hard to pick a spot to start, damn Kris. Your days ate pakef and its not always very pleasant but you deem to deal with life's little treasures very gracefully. The world needs more go getters like yourself. Makes me look like a lazy bum to tell you the truth.

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    1. OMG, I would love to see what you'd write to the GSA! That'd be so funny. Yeah, I've been into a lot of things lately, but it's all been quite spontaneous and fun. I've really been enjoying all the time I've spent outside...it is SO refreshing. Makes me wish I lived in the country.

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  10. I have to admire the way you can knot four or five unrelated topics together and still have it make sense.

    I hope Lilly is feeling better soon.

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  11. Great post and update, Kris! Those medical society costs seem really excessive. Just had to laugh when you wrote, “bunch of tattletales,” about that letter of admonishment (complete w/guilt trip!) from the GSA. I think it’s great that you’ve started running (but ouch about that bruised toe). Taking dogs with you is the best (miss my pups!). I can understand about Vet bills. It’s been a huge expense for us too but for all the unconditional love we’ve had from our dogs, so worth it. I hadn’t heard of Horner’s syndrome and I’m glad Lilly will be OK. Good job on figuring out the cause.

    Love your neighbor’s English country garden and so ridiculous that it’s against the law to have one there! I like the way your community rallied to bombard the City with e-mails and get the case dismissed.

    BearKnuckle is an awesome band! Really enjoyed the videos you posted on FB (and the video here). What an interesting story about “Blood on the Iron” literally! The “Just Breathe” project is fantastic and excellent that your talented sons are on the list of subjects.

    Kris, your homemade bars look delicious, healthy and so many yummy flavors! I’m glad you’re considering marketing them. Great packaging and labels, and “BearKnuckle Bars” would be a great name for them, too. Good luck and I just know it will be successful! Love the Walt Whitman quote and that graffiti too, definitely words to live by!

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  12. Wow! You've been busy! I'm glad most of it is with fun stuff. I'm also glad you figured out what was going on with Lilly. As for those professional fees? They bake my cookies, too. So much money for so little gain.

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  13. Wow Helena, those fees are quite high each year, especially if you haven't needed to use their services. And I don't like the idea of people being forced to do things. Well, do you want a roof over your head or to be a ASA/GSA member?

    I'd love to be able to run again but still taking it easy after my op, although I'm doing light exercises and got on my bike for the first time in ages. Oh yes, and I fell off, it was like hugging the pavement. And to make matters worse, it was after I decided not to wear my helmet because the weather was so warm. My tail is between my legs right now :(

    Poor Lily. I hope she's not in much discomfort, and it clears up soon. At least the blood work is good. And let's hope that you've come up with the right solution (collar). Hope the vet gives you a money back option if you find the cure, ha ha ha.

    Congrats on BearKnuckle releasing their second EP. You must be feeling so proud right now and at least you're young enough to go out and have a good night out with them too :) The running will help you to keep up with them, ha ha ha. I must say, I wouldn't like to be on the other side of that iron!
    The best of luck on selling BearKnuckle Bars too. Make sure you get a good batch made in time for their next concert - the best way to get it noticed amongst a crowd of people. I'm sure it will be a healthy hit.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and stay safe with the running.

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