Ten Years, 589 Posts - A Decade of Exploration and Memories

Friday, April 12, 2024

Life is not just the passing of time.  Life is the collection of experiences and their intensity. - Jim Rohn

When I sat down to write today's post, I searched for a quote to preface it and I'm pretty sure there's no better quote than this one for the job.  This past week, April 4th to be exact, my blog, "Life As I See It" marked its 10 year anniversary.  10 years!!!  It seems like yesterday that I sat down at my computer to begin this blog, not knowing what it would be, how long it would last, who might read it or whether I'd have enough to share to even constitute a 'blog'. 

Here we are, ten years later, and it seems I have not run out of words and thankfully have not run out of interested readers.  While I didn't have a very concrete image of what this blog might become, there were things I was committed to it not becoming.  I didn't want this to be a sponsored blog - one where I made money for advertising.  I wanted my blog to be a place where I could share places I'd discovered, places undiscovered in my 60 years of life - some practically in my own backyard.  After just eight such stories, I switched gears a little and wrote my first 'philosophical' post, Changing How We See.  In that post I shared photos of old, decayed trees that still stood despite their condition, and talked about judging a book by its cover.  I encouraged people to view the elderly, tattered people in your life, not as broken or beyond their usefulness, but as treasure chests of wisdom and experience with so much to teach and share.  Since that post, I wrote 75 more 'Food for Thought' posts - those being my favorites, ones I'm most proud of. 

And then I met Reggie - a jolly guy who operated a food truck between Broadalbin and Galway.  Reggie was the first person who struck a nerve so deep that I felt compelled to write about him.  That led to 50 more posts about other special folks I met along my journey whose story I wanted to share.  That became my "Intriguing People" category and included famous folks like my third cousin, Leo Durocher,  Bailey Wind and regular folks who we met in our travels that just really made a difference in my life.  It also included stories about several of my relatives.  I discovered that I love telling people's stories.

In 2015 I began sharing local businesses on the blog.  I loved photographing shops I frequented and felt honored to be able to spotlight them on the blog.  That continued throughout my 10 years.  2015 was my most prolific year on the blog.  I wrote 102 posts - 13 in November alone.   Over the years the number of posts fluctuated, the last couple years being pretty quiet with 27-32 posts each year since 2020, but I still love to write and love the outlet I have here on the blog.  

All in all, in ten years I've written 589 posts.  They encompass stories about destinations in NY, VT, MA, CT and RI.  There are 28 about Gardens, many, many about local shops (including The Speckled Hen, everybody's favorite), a category about Animals, This & That (where a large variety of miscellaneous stories appear) and even some dining reviews in Let's Eat.  Let's just say - I have rarely been at a loss for words.  So many places and adventures I probably would not have experienced had I not had the blog as incentive, like the launch of the Adirondack Cruise & Charter, The Saratoga Automobile Museum, and so many more.  The blog took me out of my homebody mode and gave me a sense of adventure to explore and see things I wouldn't have thought to see had it not been for the sole purpose of having material to share on the blog.  And let's not forget why this all started when my youngest daughter and family moved to Indiana and I needed a distraction from the void and grief I was feeling.  The blog was the silver lining in my cloud and became the bright spot that lasted long after her return.

So where does all that bring me, here in 2024.  I'm filled with gratitude - to have had the time retired to explore so many amazing venues so close to home.  I'm grateful for the technical ability (much acquired along the way) to start a blog and grow it over the years into what it is today.  I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to discover how much I love writing and sharing stories behind the photos I take.  But mostly I'm grateful for all of the folks, like you, who have been along for this journey reading my stories and emailing me your own thoughts and experiences over the years.  Without you, the readers, this blog would just be a journal and while that isn't a bad thing, it's been so much more fun having you all along for the ride.  I've met so many wonderful, special folks - people who touched my heart in such a profound way.  Many of those folks I met as a result of chasing down a photo or being in the right place at the right time, often for the sake of this blog.  Had I not explored this journey of blogging, I would have missed so much.  It has truly been a blessing.

Where do I go from here?   Well, as I write this, I am taking a break from social media.  When that break began on Jan 2nd, I wasn't sure how long it would last but I'm still 'breaking' 3 months later.  I've also not been taking photos.  I can't say for sure how long it will be before I get back at it, (if I do) perhaps when the landscape regains its beauty, who knows?  I am still writing and I can promise I will continue to. There WILL be more blogs. That I know for sure.  I hope you stick with me and will enjoy whatever is to come in 2024.  In the meantime, whether you're an OG or came to the blog later, I urge you to take time to explore my blog Directory to explore what you may have missed.  As we approach summer and look for things to do, my New York blogs spotlight so many fun attractions you may not even realize are so close to home.  Thank you sincerely for being an audience and a friend and for allowing me to share Life As I See It with you for a decade!!  It means everything to me to have had you along for the ride.  

When Snoring Isn't Just An Annoyance But A Serious Health Risk

Sunday, March 3, 2024

 "If anyone ever told you that you snore, just know that person has very carefully weighed the pros and cons of letting you live." - Anonymous

I've been on both sides of this quote and I'm happy to report that snoring (mine and my spouse's) did not have to be a permanent condition.  It also did not have to end with a criminal act.  I wish I'd figured this out years ago, but as the saying goes, better late than never.

Like most people who snore, I was fully aware that I sounded like a steam train when I slept.  I knew because people told me (some who were sleeping in other nearby rooms) and because sometimes my snoring even woke me up!  I remember my grandmother snoring.  Her snore pattern was sort of comical to me as a child listening. She'd breathe in and then exhale through her mouth making a sound sort of like a baby doing raspberries.  At some point, I acquired the same pattern and no one, not even I, thought it was comical.  My sweet husband used to snore.  He addressed his snoring a couple decades ago when he had a sleep study done at a sleep lab.  He was wired up, head-to-toe, in a room where sleep technicians observed him sleep as they monitored his vital signs and measured the decibels his snoring reached.  He was found to have mild sleep apnea and was prescribed a CPAP machine.  After some time getting used to the mask and chin strap, he eventually became accustomed and has since enjoyed a much better quality sleep that no longer keeps me awake.

A couple of years ago I decided to look into quieting my nighttime affliction and I asked my ENT about a sleep study.  He explained that sleep studies are now done in the comfort of one's home, in their own bed, with minimal equipment - easy peasy.  I told him I'd consider.  I considered - and I did as most of us do in matters of health, I put it off.   The next year at my annual ENT check up, Dr. Kaufman (an ENT with Albany ENT and Allergy) asked me why I hadn't done the sleep study.  I gave him what I considered a very logical explanation, "Well, since having the study was my idea, I decided it wasn't that important."   In his typical gentle demeanor, he responded with, "Well I'd feel terrible if something happened to you and we hadn't done the study".  His reaction reminded me of my mother's famous line - you get more bees with honey.  I agreed to do the study.

Eventually I was contacted by the company providing the test equipment.  They explained that I'd have to download an app onto my phone and the equipment would communicate with the app and send my results to my physician.  The process took time to arrange, but eventually I received my 'equipment'. My first thought when I opened the box was that it looked like my kids' Fisher Price doctor kit from the 80's.  Not surprising really, since they told me to dispose of it after my test.  I wondered how this was going to be as accurate as the test my husband had in the lab.  I had some serious doubts. 

Come the night of my test, I'd studied the instructions for app and the equipment and felt pretty comfortable with the process.   I stuck the heart monitor to my chest, put on the watch, and put the oxygen sensor on a finger on my left hand, silently praying it didn't fall off during the night.  I then engaged the app and settled down to what I hoped would be a peaceful night with results that didn't mean a CPAP would be in my future.  Surprisingly, I slept fine, even got up once to use the bathroom and in the morning I stopped the session on my app.  Now to wait for the results....

Well, one can joke about snoring, and many do, but it takes a lot to take it seriously and boy, I'm glad I finally did.  It seems my snoring wasn't just a noise issue, it was a serious health issue. My test showed I have severe sleep apnea - episodes where I stop and restart breathing.  During my test I stopped breathing 48.6 times per hour.  Untreated sleep apnea has been linked to a number of health issues, including cancer, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes and more.  I don't think the average person is aware of how serious snoring is, or that it can be a dangerous symptom of sleep apnea.  There are many risk factors for sleep apnea - excess weight, age, smoking, alcohol use, neck circumference,  narrowed airway, many medical condition...for more check out this article Sleep Apnea - Mayo Clinic.  Aside from the fact that I spent the night not breathing, I was snoring at a 51 db.  Poor John!!!  

While I made fun of my test equipment, its simplicity did not hinder the complex data it collected. 

It took a couple months to get my equipment but by July 31st, I had had my educational session with Hometown Health and was sent home with some state-of-the-art equipment that would hopefully improve my quality of sleep and reduce the health risks of sleep apnea.  

These photos show how simple my face gear is (just like the model in the photo) - comfortable silicone that is minimally invasive. (There are other masks available some covering your mouth and nose.) This model is so comfortable, I often wake towards morning and panic that I've removed my mask during the night only to reach up and find it's still secure on my face.  It's so comfortable in any sleep position, I can't imagine of sleeping without it.  My husband feels the same.  Before he got his CPAP in 1999, he used to fall asleep reading or watching tv.  He has a continuous positive air pressure machine. CPAP machines provide constant pressure to keep your upper airway open as you sleep.  Now he never nods off reading or watching tv.
I also love the app that works with the machine.  Every morning it tells me how many hours I've slept, how my mask fit was, how many episodes of apnea I had and how many times I took my mask off.  If you like feedback, you'll love this app.  It also sends your data to your provider!  I went from 48.6 apnea episodes an hour to less than 6.  That is considered a successful therapeutic level and I'd say, pretty darn awesome!
My first 10 days

I have to give Dr. Kaufman credit for his expertise in encouraging me to do a study, interpreting my results, setting my machine at perfect settings all 'round the first time out, and making what was historically a very difficult and frustrating adjustment to therapy something quite manageable.  It took me only a few nights to get used to my equipment and within a week I was sleeping 7 full hours.  Before my  machine is an APAP (automatic positive airway pressure).  It  can raise or lower the pressure based on your breathing patterns..  Before my machine,  I would wake up once or twice a night to use the bathroom and sleep until John woke me - even after 9 hrs. of sleep.  Now I often sleep without waking at all and wake up in the morning on my own -  most days after 7 or 8 hrs. of sleep.  My mood and mental clarity all day is much better too!  Instead of waking up groggy, I wake up refreshed and ready to roll.

I've been wanting to write this blog since a week after I got my APAP machine, I was that enthusiastic about the results and ease of adjustment to it. I wanted to spread the word to everyone who'd been putting off addressing their sleep issues.   I wished I'd gotten a study done years sooner even though I was totally unaware of my apnea or the serious consequences it could have had.  I was lucky.  I also wish the medical community would be more assertive in discussing sleep apnea with their patients who have conditions that put them at risk.  No one ever suggested one to me until I brought it up.  If you've heard horror stories about people who couldn't get used to their face mask and those stories discouraged you from getting tested, don't let that be the reason you don't get tested. If you snore or think you're at risk - I strongly urge you to talk to your doctor about having a study.  Some patients still require a study in a lab, but many are able to do a home study like I did....in the comfort and privacy of their own home, in their own bed.  Honestly, it has an immediate affect on your quality of life and you can't say that about everything.  

My insurance covered my study and my equipment as long as I used the machine at least 4 hrs. a night for 90 days.  That was not a problem for me as I was averaging 6-8 hrs. of sleep ever since the middle of August (2 weeks after I got my machine).  I've always loved sleep but now I'm getting quality sleep and lowering my risk of heart attack, stroke and more.  If you snore like a bear or sleep with someone who does, consider taking a step towards improving  your sleep and your health.  Remember, most health conditions do not shout to get your attention.  Some are silent or give warnings in subtle ways.  We need to pay attention to the ones that don't shout but whisper loudly, as is the case with snoring.  

Disclaimer: I am NOT a health professional.  The information shared in this blog is my personal experience and research...shared with the intention of encouraging others to get help eliminating dangerous sleep apnea.  Always talk with your physician for medical advice.

Experiencing a Little Grown-up Christmas Magic

Monday, January 1, 2024

 Christmas is supposed to be a magical time, even the biggest scrooge understands that.  I understand that and in most aspects I'm pretty good at doing my part in making my corner of the world look magical.  I mean, I even arranged for Santa to make a special stop just two days before Christmas.  I'd say that's quite a feat. The aspect I'm not so successful at is the one involving gifts, which we can all agree has become a big, if not too big, part of Christmas.

It seems many of us are fortunate, blessed and living in what I think of as the "world of plenty".  Even the littles in my life had trouble coming up with a wish list this Christmas. For years now, John and I have skipped the gift exchange.  We buy what we need all year, and at Christmas we focus instead on buying for others.  You see, I don't really enjoy buying just 'for the sake of buying'.  Although gift cards are handy and appreciated, they don't hold the same sentimental value as a well thought out, personal, uniquely chosen gift.  The problem lies in the simple truth that those unique gifts are not easily found and they depend first on coming up with the perfect gift idea.  I've known a few people in my lifetime that were champions in the gift giving arena and I can assure you I've never been one of them.  I can also assure you that in my almost 70 years, I can probably list on one hand gifts I've received that fit this high standard.  The fact that I can only list a few of them isn't a bad thing, in fact, it makes this year's home run that much more special and meaningful.

For as long as I can remember, I've loved to write.  I kept journals in my teens, and began writing my memoir in my early 20's.  I studied business courses in high school and typing was one of my favorite classes.  I was really good at it and was lucky to have a typewriter at home thanks to my mother buying me one from NYS surplus.  I won awards for my typing speed and graduated with the highest 3-year average in business subjects.  I didn't go to college and instead took a clerical job at Skidmore College for two years before following my parents'  footsteps with a job with the State.  I spent my lifetime in office jobs where typing was a necessary skill.  

My love of writing continued and technology evolved and computers were born. I've since written almost 500 pages of memoir and almost 10 years of blogs. Though I kept up with the times, my love of my roots didn't fade and in 2016 I wrote a blog about the Black Sheep Antiques where I fell in love with this 1915 Underwood typewriter.  This is what I wrote: "I also loved how many items just really hit a nerve and brought back so many fond memories - like the typewriter above.  I learned to type on something that didn't look so much different from this one.   Well, it was a bit younger than this 1915 model, but many of its features were just like ones I learned on. (Thank God ours in high school were electric, not manual.)  But I did have a manual one at home. If I had had a spot to display this, I would have bought it in a heartbeat."   

Last month John and I visited Sugarbush Lane Mercantile and I wrote a blog about it (my 586th blog).  One of the items that really caught my eye there was this compact little Underwood Universal typewriter. Nearly eight years after spotting the one at Black Sheep, I still had a soft spot for this relic that symbolized a hobby and passion that has been part of my life for many, many decades.    Again, I left the shop without it for two reasons, 1) that's not the sort of thing one indulges in for oneself and 2) I really felt it should have the proper setting to showcase its beauty and I wasn't sure I had that. 

  Christmas morning I woke to find that this year would be one of those magical years when that one special gift would melt my heart and fill my eyes with tears.  That pretty little Underwood with a bright red ribbon was waiting for me.  John had succeeded in making a clandestine trip to Charlton to secure what he knew would be a sweet Christmas surprise.  Research tells me this beauty is either 1933 or 1934 and she still works.  Now you might call my finally having an antique typewriter just a dream come to fruition, but I call it Christmas Magic.  I also call it gift giving of the very best kind - the kind that comes now and then, but not every time because then it wouldn't be special.  This gift doesn't make me love my other Christmas gifts any less.  It doesn't outweigh the truly wonderful gifts in the first photo of this blog - my sweet spouse and the family we've built together,  but it's definitely one for the record books that will go down in history as perhaps the best gift I've ever received.
To see more about Sugarbush Lane Mercantile, check out my blog: https://www.lifeasiseeitphotography.net/2023/12/sugarbush-lane-mercantile-in-historic.html

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