Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Door Project

As many of you know, Judy is into stained glass and has been for many years.  She's very good at it and has made a lot of stained glass pieces in all sizes and shapes.  Each seems to be more beautiful than the last one as her skills and experience grows.

So it was no surprise a few years ago that she made the beveled glass panel for our front door.  It was beautiful and greatly improved the front appearance of our home.  It has held up well over the years.

A few days ago a neighbor brought their old stained glass door over and basically said, "Here, do what you want with it."  They had already replaced it due to some glass breakage which they could not repair.  Nor did they want to pay for someone to repair the broken glass, which could run into the hundreds of dollars.

We quickly saw the extent of the damage and our first thought was to just break out the remainder of the glass and salvage what we could.  But old stained glass is often brittle and does not cut well.  So that part was 'iffy' at best.  But there were a number of beveled glass pieces that appeared to be in pretty good shape.  So maybe those could be salvaged.  For what, we didn't know.

So we looked at the damaged pieces and thought, "Why not see if we can repair it first?"

We had never taken on a repair mission like this and we both knew it would not be easy.

There was lead came (the lead that outlines each piece of stained and beveled glass to form the pattern) that needed to be removed and replaced along with new glass.  But the damage was entirely inside the frame that surrounded the glass panel.  How on earth could we install new lead came with new glass in all the broken places when they were in the center of the panel?

So we went to YouTube and watched a lot of experienced and inexperienced stained glass people do what we wanted to do.  Some made it look easy and some made it look difficult.  So we tried the easy ones first.  And when that didn't work, we tried the hard ones.  When that didn't work either, we were left to our own devices.  We had to come up with something that worked or toss the door altogether.

Through a lot of trial and error, we finally figured out a way to repair it.  It took us about five days to do it but we were finally finishing what we started.  Just as we were laying in the final piece of glass, we heard a crrrraaaaacccckkkk.  %&#!  The stresses we were putting on the glass was apparently too much and another piece broke, then another.  It was obvious that these broken pieces needed to be repaired in order to even try to sell the door, hopefully for enough to recover our growing glass and lead costs. not to mention the time we had put into it.

This is where Judy's skills and experience paid off.  She tried a new idea and it worked.  And within a few hours we were ready to begin the grouting process to seal the individual pieces of glass into the lead came.  We did the entire panel rather than the ones we repaired.

That done, I sanded down the wood and applied two coats of stain, followed by three applications of spar varnish.  The door was starting to look really good.

Then we cleaned the glass and lead came really good.  Finally, we applied a chemical to the lead came that evened out the patina in the areas where we had to solder the new lead came in place.

Now it looked really good.  That's when we decided to sell it.  It took a while but we finally got an offer of about half what we were asking for it.  The lady didn't have much money so we said okay because it was enough to cover our expenses, plus some which we shared with the neighbor who gave us the door.

It was a challenge for sure, but also fun.  And we learned a lot.  But we won't be doing that again...

Here's the finished door.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Back on the Diet

For some reason, about three months ago my weight started to climb and climb and climb, seemingly for no reason at all, unless you take into account the fact that I got into a bread making frenzy for a few of those weeks.

I suppose you could also include us trying some new restaurants and dishes here at home.  And there was that Blue Bell Ice Cream we just had to have after they got back up and running.

Anyway, I noticed that my blood pressure was steadily climbing.  I check my blood pressure daily and it didn't take long to see that some blood pressure checks showed it 40 or more points above my normal pressure of below 120/60.

On top of that, I had no energy, couldn't stay awake during the day, couldn't sleep at night, couldn't think straight, had very little strength and just didn't feel good.  My feet and ankles were swollen quite a bit and I felt bloated all over.

Two weeks ago today, 10-27-15, Judy came in and said she was worried about me and announced that we were going back on our diet.  More specifically, the South Beach Diet that had helped us lose weight in the past.  I didn't argue.  I knew she was right.

So that day, we gave away and tossed everything that could be too tempting for us during the next critical two weeks of Phase I of the diet.  Then we started trying to eat exactly or very close to the items shown in Phase I.  Naturally, it contained a lot of bushes and chicken, but actually it wasn't that bad.  The idea was to ween us off carbs.  After about 3 days I wasn't even missing my bread and bacon.

I immediately started losing weight, typically about two pounds a day, sometimes more.  I knew that most of that loss was water but because I started feeling better, I really didn't care what I was losing.

Meanwhile, my doctor had cautioned me that being overweight could put me at risk for diabetes.  He said my Blood Glucose numbers were running a little higher than he would like to see them.  And if I didn't do something about it I could reach the stage of being considered 'Pre-Diabetic.'

So rather than wait three months between my quarterly blood tests, I decided to invest in my own Blood Glucose test device.  I wanted a good one so I did some research and ended up with one that has a good reputation for accuracy.  I bought the kit which included the other items necessary to do the tests.  I purchased enough to do 200 tests.

I also read up on diabetes.  I thought it was something you came down with because of eating too much sugar.  Surprise! Surprise!  It's not like that at all, but it does have a great deal to do with when and what we eat, how active we are and many other factors, including testing conditions, time between meals, etc.

With this increased knowledge I decided to test myself periodically throughout the day in order to get some idea what happens before and after I eat, before and after I do some strenuous work, etc.  I was amazed at how it changes throughout the day.  But more importantly, it dawned on me why my lab test numbers every three months were higher than the doctor would like them to be.

The lab test is a fasting test, meaning nothing to eat after midnight.  The lab didn't open until 7:30 am and I liked to be the first or second in line so I could get it over with and have my coffee and a big breakfast.  So to stave off the hunger pangs for the shortest period of time, I slept as long as I could on test day, proceeded directly to to the lab to get in line, and got it over with.

As it turns out, testing too soon after waking will give a poor indication of your blood sugar levels. The reason: our body senses when you wake up and gives us a jolt of glucose to get us started.  That jolt of glucose takes a while to settle down to normal.  Sometimes it could take two or more hours, depending on a lot of factors.

So I decided to test myself under the same conditions the lab tests me: fasting but with at least two hours after waking.  But first I wanted to see what happened if I did the test within an hour of waking.  As expected, they were high.  So I tried again two hours after waking and they were lower and mostly within the guidelines.  After that, the results were normal each and every time I tested myself.
Following that logic for my next lab test won't be hard to do since I usually wake at 5:00 am anyway. That will be at least two and a half hours after I wake up.  The numbers will probably be perfect.

I can't wait to talk to my doctor about this new revelation.

So now that I'm armed with all this information, I only need to do one more thing, and that is to add my exercise program back into the equation.  I'm feeling strong enough and energetic enough to start it now, so as soon as I finish this post I'm hitting the treadmill and the Total Gym.  I'll keep doing that every day, gradually increasing the incline and speed on the treadmill and the resistence on the Total Gym.  Just doing those exercises will help me replace the muscle loss from sitting on my ass for a year, and give me more stamina to do the things I want to do.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that when I weighed in first thing this morning I was down 18.8 pounds from the weigh-in two weeks ago.  That equals to over 1.3 pounds a day.  I'm pretty proud of that.