Friday, June 30, 2006

On Internet Dating, Part 3

See Part 1, Part 2. Denis came to visit me in November of 2002. It didn't take long for me to receive an email from him after his return home. He wrote that he had a wonderful time, he thought I was a great person, it was lonely being back in his house alone. He gushed enough that I could tell that he was interested in seeing where this relationship would go. This was all very flattering to me and I started taking an inventory of what I knew about him. I reread all the emails from him that I still had access to and I noticed a few things. He had a good sense of humor - dry, just the way I like it. A couple of his email comments made me laugh out loud. He had similar taste in movies and music as I do. Beyond compatibility issues, he lived a life of integrity. He was a responsible person. He took his time to make decisions and sought advice. All these things earned my respect and I decided not to make a snap decision based on my first reactions. I would not rule him out because of his age or his height.

So began the "dating". Our emails became more familiar and frequent. Denis was contemplating moving to Oregon so that we could really pursue the relationship. He spoke with his pastor who advised him to wait until we spent more time together. (earned more points for seeking godly counsel.) This was kind of frustrating, though, because it was a bit of a catch 22. Can't spend more time together until we are together.... So I planned a trip to Minnesota as soon as was feasible, March. Four months of emails getting friendlier and friendlier. As my trip came closer, I started realizing that I didn't know anything about Denis that he hadn't told me. That made me a bit nervous. I had never been in the car with him driving (you can tell a lot about someone from the way they drive). He told me that he played the guitar, but I didn't know if he was any good or if he just thought he was good. I didn't know if his friends and coworkers respected him or if they thought he was a bit strange... So I had an agenda to accomplish when I visited him in March.

Here's another strange thing about email. People tend to say things in emails that they wouldn't say in person. You don't feel the normal boundaries when you are not looking someone in the face. So when March finally came, it was really strange. We had been writing as if we were dating. And it was really awkward to be face to face. I also had my agenda of fact-checking to do, so I was evaluating him as we went along... It took a couple of days to start to feel normal again. Also, it felt like there was a lot of pressure to decide if this was serious enough to have Denis move. Well, Denis passed the test with flying colors. All my apprehensions were unfounded. He is a safe driver - doesn't get road rage or speed. His coworkers and friends all think he is the best thing since sliced bread. I could tell they were really happy to meet me and they talked him up big time!

So after my week was over visiting him, we decided that it was a go for Denis to start looking for a job in Medford. He realized that since I was moving to be near my mom, but he didn't have anything significant tying him to Minnesota, that it was more reasonable for him to move. ( I think that was very sacrificial of him to do. Isn't there something in the Bible about that?) There were two more visits back and forth. My house was being built at the time and I started to consider making some changes with Denis in mind. (we were not engaged yet, mind you... we had yet only spent three solid weeks together). Hmmm... should I plan on a man being here??? So I started ask the contractors, what would you want in your garage, in your house, outdoors? and did things accordingly. Denis was in town when I picked out the lighting fixtures. I would pick two that I liked and I would go with the one that he liked best. It seemed like a good compromise.

So.... drumroll, please. We both moved to Medford in July of 2003. I flew out to drive back with him when he moved as I was between jobs at the time. Denis got a job at the same hospital as I did. He lived in an apt. about 3 blocks away. He proposed in September and we were married December 31, 2003. And they lived happily ever after. The End.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On Internet Dating, Part 2

See part 1 here. I was 34 years old in 2001 when Denis contacted me on the Christian Matchmaker website. He was 49. He says that he was interested in my profile because I had similar tastes in music and movies and he was impressed that I included the fact that I have scoliosis in my profile. I would not have initiated contact with him. He was outside my search criteria because he was older than I was looking for and shorter than I am. (Denis has a form of dwarfism and is about 4'5" I think.)

Anyway, we started writing. At the time, I was living in Portland and he was in Minnesota. I was in the process of planning to build a house in Medford to be near my mother as she is getting older. Denis was considering building a house on property that he owned. We wrote about movies, music, fishing, camping, house plans, etc. I fully expected that our friendship was in the realm of "pen-pals" and that eventually he would stop writing like everyone else that I had corresponded with. But he never stopped writing me. After a year had gone by, we had talked on the phone a couple of times. Denis finally worked up the nerve to ask me if I would consider travelling out to visit him. (turns out he was interested in me all along).

Now here's the dillemma at this point. We are aware that there are major limits to how well you can get to know someone via email. So much of communication is beyond the scope of words. In email, you get no tone of voice, no gestures, just words on a screen. You make a lot of assumptions about someone based on the limited information that you have. So how much of a risk are you willing to take to get to know someone better?

In the end it worked out for Denis to visit me instead of the other way around. When I first saw him, I thought, "oh Lord, what have I gotten myself into?" But here he was for a week to visit me. Well, I knew that at the least he was a good friend and we would get to enjoy getting to know each other better. So I showed him around the great state of Oregon. We drove west to the coast, south to Medford to see where my house would be built, and to the central area of the state to see the mountains. I was pleased to find that we had plenty to talk about and we still seemed to have much in common. But every once in a while, I would see him looking down over his bifocals and I would think, "man, he's old!" So I put him back on the plane, not sure what I thought of the guy. Stay tuned for one more episode....

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I have scoliosis

I was born with bony deformities in my spine and ribs which caused a progressive curvature of my spine. It was discovered at age 9 months. As I grew, the curve grew worse and worse. At ages 3 and 11 yrs, I had spinal fusions. The purpose of these surgeries was to halt the growth of the spine and therefore the curve progression.

My back looks a bit like the one pictured here, except that my left shoulder is even lower and head tilted more. As a result of both the curves in my spine and the surgeries that I had I am shorter than average. I am 4 ft. 10 in. tall. The only real limitation I have is that my lung capacity is reduced. I get winded walking up two flights of stairs. (by being winded I mean that I have to stop walking because I feel like I'm about to keel over.)

I've never had pain due to scoliosis, though some do, so I count myself as very fortunate in that regard. These days, there are exciting surgical options for kids with scoliosis that actually straighten the curve. I have watched some TV shows about these new procedures and I think it is just wonderful what they can do now. Since I am fused pretty much up and down my spine, I'm stuck with mine. (that's okay with me).

On Internet Dating, Part 1

I met my husband on the internet. This is becoming more and more common these days. Do you wonder how someone comes to meet their spouse on the web? Read on:

There are a lot of internet dating websites. I was very wary when I first joined one - This particular one is a Christian subset of the larger website. You fill out a profile which consists of multiple choice questions. On the Christian site, these included questions about faith, which allow you to search for people based on denomination and how serious they are about their faith, etc. The rest of the profile consists of essay questions in which personality can come out. It seemed like this website would be pretty safe. I think it would be hard for some weirdo to fake having a serious relationship with God in those essay questions.

The first time I joined it, my self-esteem got a real boost. I was corresponding with three different guys (in different parts of the country) who didn't care that I have a disability. The atmosphere on Christian Matchmaker was very friendly, and people were willing to write even if they were not seriously interested in you romantically. It was fun writing back and forth, similar to the enjoyment that you can get from reading other people's blogs. But eventually, the correspondence fizzled out and we stopped writing. The next time I joined and wrote to a few more people for a while. By this time, I was getting pretty pessimistic about the whole thing.

It seems to me that people searching on the internet for a mate are looking for a "perfect match". When you don't fit the bill, they move on because they believe that they can find that perfect match. In real life, you fall in love with someone because you were friends and eventually realized that you were willing to put up with this person's faults because you love them. On the internet, that doesn't happen. The element of friendship maturing is taken out of the equation.

But, after a time, I decided that it would be fun to have a new "pen-pal" so I joined again. (You get two free weeks each time you join). That's when Denis wrote to me. To be continued....

My favorite late night snack

Angel hair pasta with garlic oil and pine nuts: (1 serving)

Put a pot of water on to boil. Place some pine nuts in a non-stick skillet on medium heat to toast them. (This will take about 3-4 minutes). Meanwhile finely mince 2-3 cloves of garlic.

Once the pine nuts are toasted, pour them into your bowl. Turn the heat off and return the skillet to stove top. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into skillet. The skillet will cool and the oil will heat slowly.

Once the water is boiling, add a handful of angel hair pasta and some salt to the water. The pasta will cook in just 2 minutes. When one minute is remaining for the pasta to finish, add the garlic to the skillet and turn heat back onto medium. Add a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes. Sautee until the garlic is softened, but not brown. When it is getting close to done, turn off the heat - you don't want it to burn. The pasta should be done.

Drain the pasta, add it to the skillet and turn to coat. Pour into the bowl with the pine nuts. Season to taste with salt, pepper and grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The railing is completed and installed. Doesn't it look great? It matches the pergola that Denis built last summer - you can only barely see it in this picture off to the right in our little courtyard.

It has finally gotten very warm here in Medford. It was in the 100's yesterday and is to get up there again today. This is typical weather here, it has just been delayed in arriving this summer.

Our garden is doing well, for those of you keeping track. Our new roses have each had some blooms on them. The california poppies finally showed themselves and the gladiolus greenery is out, hopefully both will soon have flowers.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Latest

Denis has been hard at work for days making a railing for our porch. He is almost done now. Here is the first section going up. It is all cedar wood and just a clear stain to leave the natural color. It looks great! Isn't he talented? He used all the saws he has accumulated so far; miter, table, ummmm.... maybe that's it.

We watched a David Grey concert DVD last night. I was very impressed with that man's talent! He played the keyboard on just two songs. The rest, he played guitar and he played well. He has a penchant for cool-sounding open chords and chords played up high on the neck which sound really different because they are an octave higher than you usually hear them. Denis identified the guitars that he played - a Lowden and a Guild. (He just looks at the neck and body and tells me what type it is, isn't that something!?) But I was afraid that Mr. Grey was going to get whiplash or a concussion from the way that he bobbed his head from side to side all night.

We are going to see Bruce Cockburn tonight at the Britt festival in Jacksonville. Bruce is a musician who Denis and I both really enjoyed listening to before we met. In fact, my taste for his music is one of the key things that sparked Denis' interested in me. I have heard that his concerts are great, so I'm quite excited.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Health news

I have been fighting a cold since late last week. I am a believer in zinc lozenges and vitamin C for warding off an impending cold. I'm pretty sure that I have been successful at least twice when I started taking them at the first sign of symptoms. But it didn't work this time...

Denis is not a believer in my cold prevention strategy. He does believe that zinc can shorten the duration of a cold by 1 day (it was shown in scientific studies). But he doesn't buy into the Vitamin C. I read that a study showed that people who took 1000 mg of Vit. C daily lost less days of work. So I imagine that it at least makes you feel better. Anyway, I missed church because I began coughing that day. I felt pretty well until this evening.

The good news is that my Physical Therapist is onto something new for treating my TMJ. The original theory was that there was swelling in the joint on one side causing my jaw to shift to the other side. However, the treatments for that theory didn't improve my bite at all. The new theory is that the disc in the joint on the other side has slipped causing it to pull that way. So I have new exercises to do each day and it seems to be helping a bit. More of my teeth are now connecting which is very hopeful. This has been really frustrating as no one has really had any idea why my bite has changed. It will be really wonderful if these exercises can make everything go back to normal.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

What I Learned from my British Roommate

When I lived in Bolivia, I was part of a small international team of missionaries. I lived with a gal from Wales for a year's time. The team leaders were from England and Northern Ireland. We also had a South African family. I spent a good bit of time with my British teammates, and here are some things that I learned.

1. Geography lesson:
someone from Wales is called Welsh
someone from Scotland is called Scottish
someone from England is called English
someone from Northern Ireland is NOT called Northern Irish. (I don't think there is a specific title)
all of the above are from the UK and are called British

an Irish person is from the Republic of Ireland which is not part of the UK

2. Having slightly different vocabularies comes in handy when you are playing Taboo.
There are a lot of words that are used differently in different English-speaking countries. For more on this topic see this post on a new friend's blog.

3. You do not have to rinse the soap off your dishes.
None of the British people on our team bothered to rinse the soap off of their dishes. I asked about this practice and was told "A little Fairy Liquid never hurt anyone!"
As for the particulars, scientifically, I was told that the soap will either drip off while they are air drying, or you will wipe it off when you are towel drying them.

One day I noticed that my roommate was rinsing the dishes. "Oh" I exclaimed, "did you start to rinse the soap off the dishes?"
"no," she said, "but I thought that when you were around, maybe I should to make you feel better."
I replied, "I thought maybe you had started to notice some subtle signs of soap toxicity"

Back in the States, I found some Fairy Liquid brand dish soap in a British import store and I had to buy some, of course. I no longer rinse my dishes, I am a convert. My new policy is "a little Palmolive never hurt anyone!"

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Day in the Life

I woke up to my alarm this morning at 6:30. Too sleepy. Memo to self: make yourself go to bed at 10:00 each night you work - you always regret staying up later. Denis is still sleeping, so I turn on the fan in the bathroom to cover up the sounds as I shower, spray, comb, blowdry, etc. When I leave the bathroom, I leave the light on so that I have a little light for moving around the bedroom. When I go in the closet, I have to quietly shut the door before I turn on the light to search for something clean and wrinkle-free to wear.

Finally dressed and ready to go! Oops! I have two left shoes and one is black and the other brown. I have to sneak back in and go through the closet ritual again to recover a matching shoe. Off for breakfast! First stop is McDonalds for a Sausage McMuffin with Egg. I know they are bad for me, but I'm addicted and they last me all morning without getting hungry. Second stop is Starbucks where the gals know my name and my drink of choice (grande, non-fat, sugar-free hazelnut latte). I eat the mcmuffin in the car and then head to work.

At work, I find out that our secretary is sick today, so I will have to greet my students and get all the paperwork done myself. I'm not sure I'm up for it. I am teaching a Diabetes class today for newly diagnosed patients. I have 5 people scheduled, but only 4 come. There is a frenzy of activity as I take each one back for a brief one-on-one session before the class, gather their paperwork, copy the insurance cards, etc.

Ahhh, class is started. This is the part that I really enjoy. I was tired when i started the day, but I'm not anymore. The group is great, they talk with each other, ask good questions and catch on pretty quickly. The challenging part is always when it comes time to teach the group how to use a glucose meter to test their blood sugar. But we got through it. Everyone seems happy with the class.

Now it's time to chart. My brain gets a little fuzzy again. I have to remember who was who and what each of their stories was. I have a system that I have developed that helps me remember so I can slog through it. I also have a phone call to return. That takes a while and then I check the phone messages and, Woohoo! I'm done. Driving home, I turn up the music. I'm listening to FFH's first album. A nice flashback and I remember why I liked this album.

I get home at 3:00 and discover that my cat has puked in the kitchen. Yesterday she puked in the living room. (no, she's not bulemic. She has kitty irritable bowel, which for some reason causes vomitting. And we ran out of her pills the other day.) Denis is in the shower. He woke up at 1. He works until 1AM or whenever he is done with all his patients. Then he unwinds and goes to bed about 3-4 AM, so it's not that he's lazy. Kiss kiss, he's off to work. We'll get to see each other over the weekend.

So now I am eating a bowl of ramen noodles. I have to go pick up the kitty pills soon. I will try to get motivated to clean my kitchen tonight and maybe go grocery shopping. Then I will veg in front of the TV. I've got to catch up on my Spanish soap opera!

Monday, June 12, 2006

We're Home

We just got back from dropping off Debbie and Jamie at the airport in Portland. We stayed for two nights to visit friends while we were there and had a grand time! We visited the church where we were married so that we could see the two couples we know who attend there. After church, we played cards with our Pinochle buddies, Jenn and Tim, then dropped in to see the home improvements going on at Gary and Michelle's house. We stayed both nights with friends from my former church in Beaverton and they served us dinner both nights. It was great to see them and reminisce and hear new news.

Today, we took the opportunity to shop at Trader Joe's (we don't have one here in Medford) and also checked out the mega asian store Uwajimaya. We bought a few specialty items at both places, so we will be able to make some yummy Indian, Thai and Indonesian food when we want to. And, the last stop out of town, I satisfied my craving for Pho soup with a stop at Pho Van. They have a new location in Beaverton Town Square!

Oh, Debbie and Jamie had a great time here. The weather couldn't have been better, in the 70's the whole time and sunny. Crater Lake was blue as always. (The picture above was taken there.) They got to the coast, but didn't get to see any lighthouses as they had hoped.

Well, not much else going on around here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I just kissed Denis goodbye. He's on his way up to Portland to pick up his sister and neice at the airport and my mom went to keep him company. I could not go because I work tomorrow. Debbie and Jamie are coming for a short visit and they get in tonight at 10:00. The plan is for them to drive home tonight and get in very late.

So plans for the week are to go to Crater Lake one day, the coast the next day and then shopping in Jacksonville and Ashland on their final day in town. I will be working, unfortunately, so I will see them in the evenings and get to hear each day's news. We will be driving them back to the airport on Saturday afternoon. So it will be short but sweet and we will enjoy seeing them.

I have a busy week ahead of me. We have been very busy at the Diabetes Care Center, so we have a full schedule of patients this week. I'm also teaching an inservice at a local assisted living facility one afternoon. It is for nursing assistants and the focus is on helping the residents with Diabetes in choosing their meals. I have my supplies all together, so I'm ready to go. It should be fun to teach.

A relatively recent development in my life is that I have been having problems with TMJ. I had to have a root canal and crown about 2-3 months ago and since then my bite has been off. It is very annoying. Only the left front teeth come together when I close my teeth. So we have been seeking advice on this and I started going to Physical Therapy for it just last week. So far, none of the health professionals involved really know why this has happened or exactly what to do about it. But I'm hopeful. The physical therapist has special training in TMJ problems.

Well, that's the news around here.