Milestone Achieved

Whew! I successfully made it through two grueling, but awesome,* years of graduate school and this Sunday I will be ceremoniously granted a Clinical Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. It feels good. I will have family in town and there will be much rejoicing. Weather permitting (it's not), I'd like to grill out with friends and family on Saturday and have a bit of a pre-graduation social. This plan might necessitate buying a new grill as a graduation present to myself.

This afternoon, I'll pick my folks up at the airport and then we'll take them out to dinner with Deborah's side of the family. Tomorrow, Deborah and I may go car shopping and there's also some kind of art walk in Middleton, which my folks might enjoy. Sunday is the BIG DAY and by mid-afternoon I will be officially an MFT graduate. Monday morning, I'll do some paperwork to demarcate my transition from student to professional (mainly updating my liability insurance to practice as a therapist).

How are things with you?

*Note: It's awesome in retrospect. When I was in the thick of it, it was no quite as awesome.


My Dietary Weathervane

More than a year ago, my lovely wife Deborah and I switched to a vegan diet. This means we don't purposefully or willfully eat any foods that come from animals, with a few minor exceptions (I still eat some honey now and then).

Placebo effect or not, one of the first things I noticed was that after about two weeks on this diet, the osteoarthritis pain in my left big toe (from a bike injury many years ago) pretty much disappeared.

Every once in a while, it flares up a little bit, although nothing like it did during my pre-vegan lifestyle. The flare ups are usually related to eating something inflammatory, like pasta or refined carbs. I am somewhat carbohydrate sensitive.

Last night, I was having a vigorous dialogue with a group of friends about diets and I mentioned how some foods inflame my osteoarthritis pain, and that's how I know if I have eaten too much of something inflammatory (or failed to eat enough anti-inflammatory antioxidants, like vegetables, to counteract the inflammation). It occurred to me that my left big toe is now something of a dietary weathervane, letting me know when I have exceeded the boundaries of my generally healthy diet in some way.

The End.

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Grand Canyon - Day 6

Somehow, we all managed to get up at 4 AM or so this morning to drive to the tiny Prescott AZ airport. As planned the night before, breakfast comprised cold leftover pizza, supplemented with a couple of clementine tangerines and some hotel room coffee.

It was still dark outside when we got to the airport, about a 20-minute drive from the Hampton Inn we had stayed at. A single staff person was smoking a cigarette at the curb outside the entrance to the airport's one and only check-in and gate area (seriously, this airport is miniscule!). He told me where to park the rental car and then I dropped the key into the Hertz dropbox, since their office was closed at that hour. We had arrived before any airport staff, other than the good samaritan attending to the curb outside, so it was a few minutes before we could check our bags to our respective destinations, and a few more minutes after that before TSA security opened up. Long story short, we boarded the tiny jet plane to Denver and took off on schedule. Once we landed in Denver, Deborah and I had to say quick goodbyes to my parents before we parted ways to catch our connecting flights. My folks were continuing on to Colorado Springs CO, where they would hang with my sister for a few days before flying back to Akron OH, where they live. Deborah and I were returning home to Madison WI. We'd have a day to rest before getting back into the swing of things.

I was sad to be leaving Arizona today, and somewhat mad about having to do so at such a heinously early hour of the morning. That being said, the Grand Canyon trip over this past week was amazing and exceeded expectations in many ways. We covered a lot of ground in a small amount of time, and it was very fulfilling. I still don't like it when vacations have to end, and if I had my druthers, I'd be traveling all the time, maybe as a travel writer. But I digress.

Some of this Grand Canyon trip was just campy family fun, like when we rode on "ye olde west" style train out to the south rim of the canyon on Day 3.

Things got more "real" when we took a guided tour via minivan the day after the train ride fun. We got schooled on the geology and culture of the Grand Canyon by our tour guide, Keaton, of Dave's Canyon Tours.

In summary, my wife Deborah and I really enjoyed the trip and being able to spend time with my parents. It was my mom's idea to go to the Grand Canyon and organizing it was part of my 80th birthday present for her. I hope this becomes a trend (of requesting that I organize trips to take my folks on in the future), because travel is a blast and it's even better when it can be enjoyed with family.