Total Weight Loss

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I Burned the Bread!

Yes, I did.  I was using a clay cooker in the oven.  (As instructed by my husband, Richard!)  I was following the instructions meticulously.  It said to bake for 45 minutes covered and 5 minutes uncovered to brown.  After, 30 minutes I checked on it because it was smelling done, if that makes sense.  I took the top off and the top of the loaf was toasty brown.  I took it out and the bottom of the loaf was a much darker brown and black in spots.  65MD was not to be deterred.  He ate three slices.  I ate only one.  It was a little salty for my taste.  No more bread making for me until I get the sour dough starter.

Just as an FYI, I had a steroid injection in my left hip today.  Once the pain from the injection site subsided, I'll know if it helped.  I could use some prayers and good wishes.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Disappearing Act

I had an unanticipated disappearing act last week from the blog, not my body.  Monday and Tuesday were typical days, but Wednesday started a whirlwind of doctor's appointments for me and various other family members that lasted the rest of the week and actually is not over yet.  No worries, nothing serious is going on.  My 2 yo niece had and ear infection which was the worst diagnosis anyone got.  I am waiting for a call back from the ortho regarding a steroid injection in my left hip.  We are hoping that will delay surgery at least until the first of the year if not indefinitely!  

So, even though I had great mental posts going on in my head during the week.  I never had the time to actually make them happen.  Still, I learned a good lesson in all of my activity.  The No S Plan is the right thing for me.  I never had to stress over food.  I never had to worry about how long it had been since I'd eaten and if I'd need to eat again before getting home.  I didn't have to count anything and worry about too many carbs.  I ate at meal time, avoided sugar, seconds and snacks.  (I was not 100% on any of those things.)  And, my weight remained flat!  That is great news for me.  I plan to discuss it more on Wednesday, when I weigh in.

Today,  I want to share my adventures in bread making.  I shared before how 65MD and I decided to make as much as possible from scratch, including bread.  I remembered that sour dough bread is lower on the glycemic index that other bread, so I broke out my recipe for the started and whipped one up.  After 3 days, when it was ripe, I made a batch of bread.  I'd even invited my family over to eat a meal which was to include this succulent bread.  It never rose.  I called my mother in a panic, (not really a panic, but a pinch) asking if she had any bread made that she could bring.  (She's the bread lady at church and keeps some in her freezer most of the time.)  She did and rescued me.

I thought my sister had some starter.  She used to but she let it go.  She advised me to try again, saying sour dough was 'fickle' and I'd probably done nothing wrong.  I went to the store for more flour because one recipe requires 6 cups.  65MD told me to buy a loaf of bread just in case.  (How supportive!!)  The cashier, bagger and I had a nice chat about sour dough bread.  Turns out the bagger's wife makes their bread.  We had a laugh when the cashier scanned the loaf of bread that my loving husband encouraged me to buy.

Sadly, he was right.  Batch 2 of sour dough was another FAIL! Then I remembered a friend from church makes sour dough bread.  She thinks my starter wasn't good.  She said that was the hardest part and will bring me a starter on Sunday.  In the meantime, I choose not to be defeated.  I decided to make regular old yeast bread, as I have made countless times in my life.

Guess what?  The first batch did.not.rise.  I have never had an experience like this.  I have three loaves of sour dough bread that can be used for bricks and two batches of flat dough to dispose of in some manner.  Is the universe telling me to give up bread?  Maybe so.  I'm a little stubborn.  I tried one last time, being meticulous about measuring each ingredient and ensuring the temperature of the water was just right.  

It felt cold as I was kneading it, so I didn't have high hopes for it.  It is in the oven rising right now.  Go figure!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Break

Last week was a wild and wonderful spring break.  65MD and I decided to rip up the carpet in our bedroom and redo the original hardwood underneath.  It was, as most of these things go, much harder than anticipated.  Our house is around 85 years old.  Let's just say some unexpected things were found and the project is not finished, although 65MD is back teaching today.

Right now, we are still enjoying the adventure of it.    We are sleeping in the spare bedroom, which is comfortable, so we don't have to stress about it.  We are one of those unusual couples that work well together.  We didn't date like typical couples, we got to know each other redoing my kitchen.  Of course, with this project, 65MD had to do most of the hands and knees part in the floor.  I'm still not quite up to that.  Instead, I got color swatches for the new comforter, curtains, etc.  It is going to be gorgeous!!

As far as eating is concerned, I think I stuck mostly to the No S philosophy if not to the letter.  One of the S's to avoid is snacking.  Since we ate as we got hungry and the work allowed, we really didn't keep to a strict time schedule, and some of our meals were more like quick snacks.  Still, there was no all day grazing, which I think is what the plan is trying to avoid.

We made a quick out of town trip one night to celebrate a birthday in his family.  I was excited to eat birthday cake guilt free.  I was served a normal size piece, and couldn't eat it.  I took one bite and knew it was a box mix with canned frosting.  Gross!  At least it was gross to me.  I was so disappointed.  I took a few more bites trying to like it and then came to my senses and stopped.

Let me quickly add that I ate every bit of the ice cream that was served with the cake!  There was something freeing about knowing that it was totally on plan to eat or not eat the cake and ice cream.  I did not feel like I needed to make the most of my 'cheat day' and eat up.  I just carried on with life.

All of this together time gave 65MD and me time to discuss any number of subjects in a more in depth manner than usual.  Of course, one topic of discussion was diet and weight loss.  The main thing 65MD stressed and has always stressed is that it is fine with him if I never lose an ounce of weight.  He is supportive of my efforts because he wants me to feel good about myself.

As we discussed the No S plan, it seemed too good to be true.  At the same time, if it does work, it will fit almost seamlessly into our lifestyle.  We plan to stay with it, but with a twist.  We really believe that food we make at home is the healthiest.  

For example, we agreed to start making our own bread.  It won't be sprouted grain just yet.  We'll work up to that.  At least we won't be eating a lot of preservatives and we'll use whole wheat flour starting out.  Soon, we'll have our little backyard garden and it will give us some fresh vegetables.  (We planted lettuce last week.)  I have some yummy salad dressing recipes that we both like.  Even if we decide to eat a sweet treat on and S day, we'll make that too.

I'm excited about our plan, and I hope on Wednesday to have a good loss to share.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Grocery Trip

Yesterday I went to the grocery store for the first time since implementing the No S plan.  Typically, I have a list of items that need to be replenished, coupon staples, sale items and the best yet, coupon on a sale item.  Most of the time, I walk in with a plan.  That isn't to say there isn't an impulse item here & there, like 75% off Valentine Candy.  Still, most of the time, I know what I'm doing.

The entrance to the store is right into the produce section.  I walked in and suddenly realized, I could have ANYTHING there I wanted.  The whole produce section was mine for the taking.  In fact, I could have anything in the store I wanted as long as it wasn't sugar.  But wait, I could have sugar on S days.  Woohoo!!  Time to shop!!

I bought bananas, apples, strawberries & potatoes in the produce section.  When I got home, I was disappointed to see that I failed to get grapes.  I still plan to limit these items.  While the No S plan allows anything but sweets within the confines of a meal, I don't think it means to eat three or four bananas for breakfast.  I still plan to be aware of my carbs.

I went through the rest of the store getting my list items.  I don't do much shopping up & down the aisles as I try to stay away from prepared foods.  So, I didn't binge buy anything there.  In the dairy section, I got only skim milk, which is a regular item.  I was tempted to look at the ice cream.  They have some nice low carb ones at the store these days.  I hurried past.  I was afraid, I'd start telling myself to get the Ben & Jerry's for the weekend.

Then came the Manager's Specials on the way out.  This is where I found the candy that put me in a tailspin.  I just gave it a quick once over because if there was candy I was going to have to run.  There was none, so I looked closer.  Nothing I wanted was on those shelves, so I escaped.

All in all, I was proud of myself in the store.  I can't help but believe that people without food issues eat fresh fruit most days.  They might even eat more than one piece.  Of course, I understand that I need to ease in to it.  One piece a day, until my body understands what is going on, is my plan.  It felt so freeing to be able to buy what ever I wanted.  It made it a little easier to hurry past the ice cream.

On a completely different topic - Spring break starts for 65MD tomorrow.  We have some major home improvement plans on tap.  I'm not sure how often I'll be around after tomorrow.  Don't worry.  I haven't fallen in to a box of candy or even a bowl of fruit.  I'm working on the house.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wednesday Weigh In & Whatever

This morning I weighed 207.6.  Up 1.6 lbs from last week, bringing my total weight loss to 46.8 lbs.  (Five years ago tomorrow is when I officially started this journey.  The blog came just a little later.) Of course, the measurements are up.  It is only reasonable that would happen.  The good news in all of this is that my weight was 209.2 at one point during the last  days.  I'm hoping that means I've turned this around and my weight will continue to slip down, however gradually.

Because of the loss, I believe that I am on the right track with the No S eating plan.  Honestly, I'm not sure.  I am so bumfuzzled by my misconceptions lately, that I don't trust myself to know the truth.  This is a huge leap of faith for me to stay with the plan.  I am risking a lot of wasted time and weight gain, if I am messed up in my thinking again. (I am open to opinions and clarification from anyone with insight!)

I have been thinking a lot about the younger me I saw in those photographs, and why that me thought she was so fat.  As I recall, besides the lack of male interest in me, I saw thinner people around me.  I read books and magazines that said I was fat because the number on the scale was too high.  I became fixated with that number on the scale.  I thought I should weigh 117 lbs!  In looking at those shots, and knowing generally what I weighed, 117 would have been gaunt and unattractive.

I had a bit of an epiphany while I was contemplating that.  I am still fixated with a number on the scale.  As much as I try to convince myself  I'm not, I am.  My goals are almost exclusively associated with that.  I want to weigh x by this date.  Or I want to get below 200.  Then I want to get to a lower weight than 2 years ago.

 I need to learn to be happy with the current me at 207.6 lbs.   And I need to be happy next week with me whatever the scales say.  I have a host of friends that don't ditch me when my weight fluctuates.  65MD and my family love me no matter what the scales say.  I need to figure out how to do that too.  This could be harder than figuring out how to lose weight.  Hmmm...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mixed Messages

I spent the weekend wondering if I was sane.  Well, maybe not to that extent, but I got and gave myself mixed messages all weekend.

First, I was sorting through some old pictures.  By old, I mean during my early post college years.  At least most were from that era, some were from college days and went through my mid-thirties.  (I am not saying how many years ago that was!)  As I went through them, I was struck over and over as to how attractive I once was.  I hope that doesn't sound vain.  I don't mean it that way.  

I spent most of my life thinking that I was fat and ugly.  I was neither.  Not in those pictures.  I didn't date much in high school and college.  I think I had one date in high school and one college.  Not exaggerating!!  I  wrote it off as all the other girls, were thinner and prettier, who would want to waste their time with me?  

When, I saw the girl in the pictures she was neither fat, nor ugly.  Some of the photographs were more flattering than others.  And my weight fluctuated some, but not wildly.  Not to the point of obesity.  At most, they were at the low end of overweight.  

I'm not going to spend a lot of time ruing the past because I cannot change it, but it made me wonder about what sort of misconceptions I have about my body now.

Second, the scales, until this morning, were racing up like crazy.  I know my body overreacts to any type of carb, or sodium.  Even though, I knew that I was not eating like a racehorse, it seems as though the scales were reflecting that.  It was hard not to chuck the "No S" plan and run back to the 'safety' of hcg.  (BTW, I pretended like Saturday and Sunday did not start with S over the weekend since I only started on Friday.)  I kept trying to tell myself that the scales were only one reflection of health and not the most accurate one.  I knew that I had stayed away from the three S's (sugar, snacks & seconds) and that in time the scales would cooperate.  (They were down this morning, but not enough just yet to have a loss on Wednesday.  Fingers crossed!)

Third, I put on my one and only pair of  blue jeans several days ago, when I spent a few hours in ONEderland.  Before then, I had not had them on in probably a year.  I decided to put them back on Saturday.  They seemed tighter to me, but I made myself wear them because I thought it would help me stay on track for the day.  I was going about my business, when 65MD smacked me on the bottom and made a comment about going away.  I thought that he must be talking about me going somewhere, and not my backside.  When I responded as to my plans, he clarified and said he was indeed talking about my behind.  He further stated that he had a better view of it, and had been looking at it long enough to know that it was smaller.  I started to say that it was the jeans holding me in, but then remembered the pictures.  Maybe the jeans were holding me in, but so what?  There was a time not too long ago when they wouldn't button.

Fourth, I decided to wear tights to church yesterday.  Putting them on is a huge ordeal still since my right hip is not fully healed and my left hip is a wreck!  But, I got them on.  (65MD tries to help but he's not very adept at this particular task!)  They seemed too big somehow.  They seemed to bunch at the knees and ankles.  When I pulled the wrinkles up, they just stayed at the top of my leg.  There was no place else for them to go.  Then the waist came almost up to my bra.  Clearly, I had not worn them in months because of the challenge to get them on.  

I had a couple of outfits in mind to try as I approached the closet.  My eyes fell on a dress, I had not considered because it was a bit snug last time I wore it.  I decided, to give it a whirl, just to see how much longer before it fit.  It slipped right on.  My first thought was that the tights were holding everything in allowing the dress to fit.  The truth was, however, that the dress was bordering on being too big at the top.  (One reason why I choose separates most of the time.)  I put on a light jacket and looked fine.  (On a side note, I put on heels but took them off, I'm still not quite steady enough!)

Then, at church a sweet friend commented on how nice I looked and asked if I was losing weight.  I thanked her and said that I was trying to lose weight.  In my mind, however, I was quickly discounting her compliment.  She is a sweet person and is always trying to uplift others, so of course she would say something like that.  Almost instantly, I realized that this precious lady is sweet, and kind, but NOT a liar!  If she had not thought I'd lost weight she would have stopped at saying I looked nice, or would have complimented my hair or jewelry or something else.

It took those continual messages of affirmation for me to realized that I don't really have an accurate picture of myself.  I don't know what I am capable of either.  I don't need the crutch of hcg to lose weight.  I can do it, and be more successful in the long term with a more relaxed lifestyle approach afforded in the "No S" plan.  I did it in my 20's.  I can do it now.  I'm still the same person, only a little older and hopefully a little wiser.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Progress Report

I've been pretty free wheeling with my food the last couple of days.  I haven't thrown caution to the wind and eaten all of those girl scout cookies or anything like that.  (I have officially given them to 65MD, which generally keeps me from eating them because they are no longer mine to eat.)  But, I have allowed myself far too many treats in the name of freedom.  I am sort of doing something similar to Weigh Down that was popular in the 90's.  Eat when hungry and stop at full is the guiding principle.  Anything at all is allowable.  While the concept appeals to me, I'm not very good at it.  The scales are reminding me of that fact.

I've got to tighten up and I think the plan for me is the No S plan.  Someone shared it with me in  a comment a few days ago.  Basically the plan is:
*NO Sweets, Seconds or Snacks
*Except for S days which are Saturday, Sunday & Special (days like holidays, birthdays, etc.)
Here is a link that shares more details for anyone interested.  I believe this will give me the parameters I need without pushing me in to that all or nothing mindset that plagues me.  

Speaking of my mind, I have a lot more space in it now that I'm not having those mental battles.  No more infighting in my brain leaves me free to think about more pleasant things like going to the beach and looking hot in my new bathing suit.  (Hey, a girl can dream!!)

I have had one NSV this week, since I have not registered an actual weight loss yet.  I have a 'go to' pair of pants that I'm either wearing or washing most days.  They are my warmest pair and with this incredibly cold and snowy winter, I've taken to wearing another pair of pants under them.

Earlier in the week, it was a little warmer and I took the pants directly from the dryer and put them on.  Often clothes straight from the dryer are a little snug and loosen up with wear.  These weren't that way.  In fact, they were so loose, I felt like something was in the seat of the pants.  I kept feeling to see what it was.  I thought maybe another article of clothing had gotten hung back there.  I finally took them off to see what it was, but there was nothing there.  It was the seat of the pants!  They were so floppy, I was feeling the extra fabric hanging back there.

I had not noticed just how big they'd become because I'd almost always had another pair of pants or leggings on under them.  And the waist is drawstring.  It was/is a good reminder of what I'm trying to accomplish here.

Of course today is bitterly cold again and I have fleece leggings on underneath the pants today.  That's OK.  I know how they really fit now.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wednesday Weigh-In & Wows

First the bad news, I gained 3 lbs even this week.  Wow!!  Bringing my total weight loss for 5 years to 48.4.  Most of that gain happened yesterday because I ate out for lunch & supper.

I met my friend for lunch to finally get the girl scout cookies.  We had rescheduled no less than 5 times.  We rescheduled a couple of times due to weather, once because she was sick and twice because my car was out of commission, and I could be forgetting a time or two.  I was secretly hoping that she'd need to sell the cookies I ordered to someone else and I'd be off the hook.  She didn't but that was OK, I had a plan.

We met at a place we knew had good salads.  Neither of us even opened the menu.  We knew what we wanted.  We both ordered the same salad, with dressing on the side.  I did the fork dipping thing with the dressing.  I'm not a huge fan of salad dressing, in fact, I don't like much of it at all.  So, dipping my fork in the dressing and then the salad is not as big a deal for me as some folks.  I ordered water, much to my own surprise! I skipped the bread too.  I felt like I'd done a fine job at lunch making good choices.  I left feeling satisfied without feeling stuffed. (another "Wow")

Then I came home to deal with those cookies.  I knew I was going to put them in the laundry room freezer from the moment I ordered them.  I had the idea the other day to take them out of the box so that I didn't accidentally notice the bright colors and be reminded that they were there.  I put them in freezer bags and hid them behind other stuff in the freezer.  I'll forget they are there soon enough and they'll be a happy surprise when I'm jonesing for sweets one day.  I confess to eating a couple of each type -Tagalogs & Samoas - so that they would fit in the bag.  (That's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

So far so good for the day at this point.  March 3 is a made up holiday for 65MD and me.  We have several of those that wouldn't make sense to anyone but us, so I won't try and explain it.  Suffice to say it was a day of celebration for us and we'd agreed to go out to eat.  At the last minute we changed our minds (OK he did) about where to go.  The place he wanted to go is big on atmosphere for this type of celebration, who was I to decline? 

I had researched the menu of the original place and new what I was going to order.  The romantic place serves Italian food, which is almost impossible to be low carb.  But since I am doing my own plan and making the best choices I can as I go, I decided this would be a good time to learn to roll with the punches.  I knew I could always fall back on a Caesar salad.

When I got the menu, I was delighted to see that they had been updated with what the menu labeled "Lighter Fare."  (one more "Wow") The traditional offerings were still there, and along side a lighter version of the same item.  I selected the lighter version of fettuccine alfredo because it came with asparagus and grilled chicken.  I also started with a Caesar salad.  All was scrumptious.

About half way through my meal, I began to feel sated, so I stopped.  As silly as this sounds, I told 65MD that I was stopping and wanted to take the rest home.  I knew once I told him, I wouldn't eat any more.  I didn't.  He decided that he'd take the rest of his home as well. (once again "Wow")

All in all, we had a delightful evening and I felt no guilt as to what or how much I ate.  It was as if a burden had been lifted.  It was far easier to make the right choice, when it was truly that, a choice.

Finally and most importantly, the biggest "WOW!" is for all of my readers.  The comments that have been left lately have been so kind and uplifting.  As I read through yesterday's comments, I actually cried.  Everyone has been so supportive.  I really appreciate it.  I'll do my best not to let you down!  Next week, I'm posting a loss. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

More Contemplations

Thanks to everyone for being so supportive during these last several posts.  I love getting the comments that tell me I am not alone.  That gives me comfort.  During a back & forth email exchange with a friend yesterday, she mentioned that she didn't need scales to know that a piece of meat that covered the plate was more than 3 ounces.   I know that too.

I considered then, why I weigh my food.  It is because the plan I am on tells me to.  So, if I am to eat 3 ounces of protein, I want to make sure I get my full serving.  I'll feel cheated, if I only eat 2.95 ounces.  For heaven's sake, I might starve to death!!!!  If I ate 3.05 ounces, then I've blown it all and I might as bake a batch of cookie dough and eat it raw.  

With this in mind, I think I can give up weighing my food.  I understand that one meal might actually be 2.95 ounces, but I won't KNOW that so I won't feel cheated.  The next meal could very well be 3.05 ounces and all will be even again.  Still, I won't KNOW so I won't feel like throwing in the towel.  

All afternoon yesterday as my rational mind said that it was really a good idea not to measure my food, my emotional mind was reacting with fear.  Giving up control in this, relatively small way, could be the beginning of the end.  What else would I lose control over?  Would my weight spiral out of control if I let this go?  Control, control, control.  I can't control everything and I think that is why I have these sudden bursts of 'no control.'  It is that all or nothing mentality that I've battled for so long.

I've  got to give that up.  It isn't productive.  It doesn't work for me.  Searching for the new, latest and greatest diet plan is just looking for another area to control.  I have got to replace control with trust.  I am an intelligent person.  I have a masters level education.  I manage very large sums of money for people.  I read books and even watch PBS.  And, I don't trust myself to eat 3 ounces of protein.  Why?

I'm thinking now, that it is because I don't want to take the blame if something goes wrong.  If' I am doing Diet Plan A and it fails.  It is the plans fault, not mine.  That wasn't the right plan for me so I search for Diet Plan B, then Diet Plan C...then Diet Plan Q.  I perpetuate the problem because I need something to blame besides me.

Now is time for me to be a big girl and trust myself.  To do what I know to be right and to admit when something isn't working, it is ME that is responsible.  Today, right now, this minute, I am solely responsible for what I put in my mouth - what it is, how much of it, when I eat and even where I eat.  I'm scared, but trust has to start somewhere.  Wish me luck.

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Peek Inside My Head

Ever since I stopped the hcg in the middle of February and even more so since I fell in to the box of chocolates last week, I have been doing a lot of contemplation as to what weight loss method is right for me.  Hang on, this is going to get a little bit murky, as it is sort of a stream of consciousness post.

First, and probably obviously, it has to produce results.  I don't have to lose extraordinary amounts of weight each week to be happy.  Although, that would be a nice bonus.  The thing I need most in this arena is consistency.  I truly believe I'd be quite happy losing a pound a week - IF I lost a pound each week.  I could even be happy with not losing weight one week, if I lost 2 the next.  

Next, it needs to fit in to my lifestyle.  This means two things to me.  One I don't have to count, weigh or measure any thing other than my body and I can eat anything I want.

With regard to the counting, weighing & measuring food, I can't.  Since I am an accountant it seems as though that would be just my thing.  It isn't.  I get so caught up in the precision and accuracy of it all that I drive myself crazy for fear that I went over some place because I didn't count 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.  (not kidding!)

Then, I start thinking that if 1200 calories is my limit, I should stop at 1000 to cover those missed calories due to my inaccuracies.  Or maybe even 800, how about just eating 200 per meal and no snacks.  It gets crazy.  This happens no matter what I count.

Eating anything I want, is sort of coupled with this.  When I can't have something, that is what I want most.  I'm not talking about eating cookies for breakfast.  I mean not feeling like a freak in social situations.  I want to have the option to eat whatever is served at parties.  I want to be able to eat my aunt's homemade peach ice cream on July 4, without feeling like I've blown everything.  That I've eating too many calories/carbs/whatever.

As my mind circles around and around with these thoughts, I keep coming back to the same thing - real food.  Eating things like my grass-fed beef, fresh vegetables and fruit, nothing processed (which I almost never do anyway), keeping carbs to a minimum and only in a natural form like fruit.  Here's my problem.  I don't trust myself.

I don't trust myself to make good choices.  I have a mentality of being on a diet or off.  This feels like 'off' and I fear I'd eat another box of chocolates or half a pizza because I am not on a diet.  It is like, eat it while I can because the next diet is just around the corner.

I have an idea that food is either good or bad.  Green vegetables,=good.  Potato=bad.  If I eat a potato then all is lost, and I am a horrible person for not being able to make better choices.  At the same time, I don't think it is healthy to lop off a whole food group, like carbs.  We need those.  We need apples.  I know we don't need carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, but if I decide that I'm never having that again for the rest of my life, I freak out.

Lots of the time, knowing I CAN, makes it easier for me to CHOOSE not to.  Weird, I know.  Most of this stuff is a mental battle, rather than a physical one.  Most of the work I need to do is between my ears rather than at the gym or in the kitchen.

I'm searching still.  I know nothing will produce lasting results until it is a permanent change inside.  I'm just not sure how to change inside my head.

Thanks for hanging in there and reading through to the end.  I hope it wasn't too freaky.