Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Gee, I always loved to write before...."

I'm finding these days that I have less and less will to write, either on this blog or in my journal; I'm not sure how many people really care, and writing doesn't even seem to have much of a therapeutic effect on me anymore. I used to sit around thinking of topics to write about here, but no longer. I don't really want to try to be a political blogger; frankly, I can't bear to think very much about politics these days. I've already written too many little autobiographical articles. I've expounded on my favorite rock 'n' roll songs, movies, and websites. I've posted too many things that could be construed (or which can hardly be construed otherwise) as critical of the LDS Church. My struggles with cognitive dissonance (bounded on one side by my belief in the divine origin and nature of church teachings and priesthood authority, and on the other by the every-day reality that highlights the seeming absurdity of it all) are ongoing. Unlike many church members, I can't seem to tuck away all doubt into some small corner of my subconscious, or else neatly separate the life I live during the week from the image I try to project to others on Sunday. I could continue writing about my sleep disorder, but it's essentially coming down to this: I can't sleep without my "VPAP Adapt SV" breathing machine, but I also can't sleep with it unless I sedate myself sufficiently to tolerate the nausea resulting from the air the machine causes me to swallow. Either way, I see myself as doomed to having to take prescription sleep meds for the rest of my life -- but, then, I've come to see that the alternative is even worse. Darren now has a little more than eleven weeks left on his church mission in Honduras; it's hard to fathom that the little boy I baptized in 1996 (see photo) will be a full-fledged returned missionary before we know it. I'm almost as scared with respect to his coming home as I was about his leaving! I really need to do more hiking in the Sandia Mountains -- on Memorial Day, I did get to hike up the La Luz Trail, south on the Crest Trail, and down the Cienega Canyon Trail with John Brewer and a group from his ward (who were training for the stake youth handcart trek that's coming up soon), but it only left me wanting more.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Darren's Eagle Scout Project

The three satellite images above show three "zoom" levels of the Carlito Spring area at the southern end of the Sandia Mountains, where Darren did his Eagle Scout service project back in 2005. Carlito Spring was originally a homestead, and back around the turn of the 20th Century it was turned into a dude ranch/resort; in recent years Bernalillo County acquired the property and at last report was trying to make it into a conference center of sorts. Darren's project was to build a footbridge over the creek at a location downstream from the spring.

The broadest view shows I-40 in the Tijeras area--Carlito Spring is the area left of center, to which the dirt road (actually two dirt roads that converge) leads. The intermediate view shows the general area where the bridge is located, slightly northwest of the dogleg in the road. And in the close-up, you can actually see the bridge, which is the lighter-colored structure in the clearing at the center of the image. And, of course, the top photo shows Darren after the bridge was completed. We haven't been back up there since the project, but hopefully the county will open the area up to the public one day soon.

[Update 5/23/12: Only now do I notice that the Google Earth images above date to 2004, or before Darren did his project; thus the bridge does not show up in them.  However, they do show where it was later constructed.  We still haven't been back to the site; I don't believe the county has ever opened it to public access.]

Friday, May 8, 2009

May Update

Not having much to write about these days (or else too much -- where would I start?), I thought I'd post a quick update on what's happening in our family. I didn't do well with Neurontin, the last "leg jerk" med prescribed by my sleep doctor, as it ended up having very debilitating side effects for not much benefit. I've since seen an internist at my employer's medical clinic, and she's given me a few ideas. I will use a steroidal nasal spray, and practice nightly sinus-rinsing with saline, to try to keep my nasal airway more open at night in hopes that I will swallow less air while sleeping. And she prescribed Temazepam, one of what I call the "big three" (i.e., most-effective) prescription sleep meds -- the others being Lunesta and Ambien -- for use on every third night, which I think is a good compromise against the advent of another every-night dependency. (I took it last night and was amazed at the profound effect it had; I hadn't realized how much of a tolerance I'd developed for these medications before quitting them last August!) I'm also going to consult with a staff psychologist about my tendency toward depression; I'm still not sure whether my sleep deprivation drives my depression, or vice versa, but I do know that past a certain point it all adds up to a downward spiral.

Dorine and Kiley are looking forward to their summer break, although both have a lot to do before the school year ends. Kiley will be going to Australia in a few weeks with the Albuquerque Youth Symphony, and, based on her audition last week (which I think was the first one I've ever seen her come out of smiling), I'm confident she'll be in AYS again next year. Darren has been out on his mission now for almost 20 months and has three months and change left; based on my own experiences, I know how hard it is to stay focused on missionary work with that little time remaining, but he still seems pretty engaged. We'll be talking to him on the phone this Sunday for Mother's Day.

Devery and Easton, of course, are still in Provo, where Devery, now 15 weeks pregnant, continues to commute to her job in Salt Lake City and Easton is attending spring classes at BYU. Heidi, who's probably about as far along as Devery is in her pregnancy, seems likewise to be doing well. Chris's auto-repair shop thus far has done good business, and we certainly hope things continue that way. The twins, Maddy and Hailee, are still cute as buttons and I love to play with them whenever I get the chance. Dorine and I hope to take a vacation with Mike and Judy in Colorado while Kiley is in Australia -- we'll see how that works out.

I can't wait to start hiking in the Sandias this summer; the first hike I want to do is an east-to-west traverse, from Canyon Estates (in Tijeras) to the eastern end of Menaul Blvd. (in Albuquerque), via the CCC Trail, South Sandia Peak, and the Whitewash Trail. John Brewer, who by a curious turn of events is now my supervisor at work, wants to do that hike with me, and several other people may come along.

(The attached photo was taken right after Darren's birth on July 7, 1988, at what was then called St. Joseph's-West Mesa Hospital.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On Turning 50

Well, I turn fifty years old today, which I guess is a notable event in one's life, although I don't see much cause for celebration. When I turned forty, I still felt pretty young, even though it became apparent over time that my body could no longer do what it once was capable of. However, I find that at fifty I feel much older -- I guess a decade of sleeping badly will do that to a person, but understanding the reasons why I feel old doesn't make it any easier to bear, nor does it make the future look any rosier. I think I read somewhere that Frank Sinatra was fifty when he recorded "It Was a Very Good Year." I'm sure it still strikes some people as strange that Sinatra recorded such an elegiac number at a relatively young age (after all, he lived another thirty-plus years), but I too find myself looking wistfully to the past, wondering if all my best years are behind me and wishing I'd done more with the opportunities I had as a young man.