Saturday, June 27, 2015

History, right before our very eyes

I said in a Facebook post this morning that this week has been amazing, but not very graceful. Except that part on Friday afternoon when the President of the United States of America sang Amazing Grace at Clementa Pinckney's funeral. (What a wonderful celebration of a life well-lived and too-soon-ended that was.)

We've lived through an awful lot of history. For me, the list includes (not in chronological order):

  • Man on the moon. 
  • Berlin wall coming down. 
  • Civil Rights Act passed (and I think today we know that passing a law doesn't necessarily change minds or hearts). 
  • The assassination of President Kennedy (who was this country's first Catholic President). 
  • Bob Dylan's first album release (you knew I had to get an historical Dylan reference in there, AM I RIGHT?). 
  • The election – twice – of an African-American president. 
  • The closest thing to health care reform I'm likely to see in my lifetime (I think Medicare for All will someday be available, hopefully for my grandchildren). 
  • Marriage equality for all.

The not-so-graceful comments on Facebook are discouraging, because they show me that we need to do more educating, more good-exampling, more opening of hearts and minds. ALL of us. I'm not going to sit here behind my screen and point fingers at you. If I think you (not you, of course, but you know who I'm talking about) need to be more tolerant, then I've just unequivocally proven that I could use a little more tolerance in my 'tude, as well.

(If the haters were better educated, they'd KNOW that marriage equality doesn't mean their pastor is bound by law to marry a same-sex couple. But then they'd have nothing to fight about. And oh, my, they do love to fight. And there I go pointing fingers again! This tolerance thing is SO HARD.)

This week has been breathtaking in its intensity. I had a personal stake in the Supreme Court's decision about the Affordable Care Act. Most SCOTUS decisions don't really touch me personally, but that one definitely did. Some politicians are still promising to repeal the ACA, but offer no alternative.

Which leaves me wondering … why? Why do they not want ALL Americans to benefit from good medical care? Why do they think those who qualify for subsidies are lazy-ass freeloaders who ought to take better care of themselves? (Yes, I replied to a comment like that.) And file for bankruptcy if they get cancer, which really doesn't only affect rich people who can afford health insurance.

The only answer I've seen to my "why" question is that those subsidies are giving our tax dollars to  people who don't deserve it.

That's kind of how I feel about my tax dollars being given to Halliburton, or any other government contractor who profits from sending young men and women to fight an unwinnable war. And then when those young men and women come home (IF they come home), they're faced with homelessness, joblessness and a Congress that doesn't want to take care of their medical needs.

We don't get to pick and choose where our tax dollars go. We assume our elected officials will be good stewards of our money. You know what they say about assuming, though.

IN MY OPINION, Democrats do a better job at governing than Republicans do. The current Republican-led Congress pretty much proves it. The President spent a lot of years reaching across that aisle and coming up empty-handed. Now that he's a lame-duck President, and fearless by his own admission, well … shit's getting done.

Good for him. Good for America.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Lucky update

Our friend Lucky is less than 300 miles from Katahdin, Maine, on his hike of the Appalachian Trail.

He's in New Hampshire, but has just 16.5 miles to get to the Maine border. Here's his most recent entry. It's more of a placeholder; hit the "Previous" link to read full journal posts.

Experienced hikers say that the last 20 percent of the Appalachian Trail is 80 percent of the work, and it sounds like Lucky agrees.

My walks continue to get slower. My hip never really doesn't hurt these days. I'd hoped that getting back to solid paleo eating would help, but it doesn't. The only consistent thing about the pain is that it's almost completely gone after a night's rest. I don't have much trouble first thing in the morning, and so that's when I take my walks.

It's been so hot, that morning also is the best time, temperature-wise, to be outdoors.

Yesterday I cut back all the weeds in the herb-garden circle, covered the bed with compost and then my husband and I layered pieces of cardboard over the whole thing. We put rocks on the cardboard to keep it from blowing away and next spring we'll have a nice weed-free bed in which to plant flowers. A lilac or butterfly bush in the center, with perennials and annuals surrounding it. AND MULCH.

Mulching is a big job, and mulch isn't cheap, but I'm more convinced of the value of it as this year drags on. All my lovely landscape beds are full of weeds, and we haven't had enough rain to soften the ground to make pulling – or even digging – them a manageable job, for me anyway.

The combination of a normal walk and a big gardening job really did me in, though. Let's just say I played lots of Scrabble on my phone yesterday afternoon … sigh.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Been a while. Sorry about that.

I really just want to post pictures of puppies
and baby goats
and kittens. (Did you know there was a subset of kitten pictures on Google Images called Kittens With Guns? ACK!)
I'm still walking, still eating mostly primal/paleo, still knitting the never-ending pullover. And still wishing something would happen to bring the country together, in a good way.

I think I'm going to be waiting for that for quite some time.

Facebook has been my rant-and-rave outlet lately. If you follow me there and you're tired of it, feel free to block me. I just can't keep it inside. But I also don't want to alienate either of you who are still reading the blog, so … puppies! Baby goats! KITTENS!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It starts with food

The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that the food industry has until 2018 to eliminate trans fats from food. The New York Times has a good wrap-up of the decision here.

At least it was a good wrap-up, until this:
Saturated fats are still an enormous problem in the American diet, and health experts emphasized that Tuesday’s action should not give consumers a false sense of security.
Saturated fats raise the level of cholesterol in your blood. The general consensus is that high cholesterol levels lead to heart disease. In my opinion, that's what the makers of cholesterol-lowering drugs want you to believe, and they'll go to the ends of the earth to protect their profits.

If you do a Google search for "eating saturated fat," you'll find the information YOU want. If YOU think eating saturated fat is bad for you, you'll find a credible, peer-reviewed article to back you up. If YOU think consuming saturated fat is less of a problem than Big Pharma thinks it is … you'll also be validated.

What if we find out, years from now, that saturated fat – found in butter, meat, cheese, eggs – wasn't the bad guy, but growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, or something else the agricultural industry uses to grow more food with less effort and more profit was?

That's a big what if.

I'm not arguing FOR trans-fats. They were invented to make packaged products shelf-stable. In other words, trans-fats were developed to make processed foods last longer and cost less. What consumer doesn't want that?

I'm not arguing FOR saturated fats, either. I eat them, but that's my decision, my menu, and you're free to serve yourself whatever you like. My saturated fats come from grass-fed cows and free-range chickens, for the most part.

I'm mostly arguing AGAINST a pharmaceutical industry that wants you to take their pills every day of your life, and a food industry that cares more about making food cheap than making it healthful. In both cases, these giants are better stewards of their bottom lines than they are of your health and welfare.

And, sadly, our government seems to be complicit.

Rant over.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Done!

One of my favorite parts of any event is coming up with favors.
The blue item on the left is a tiny matchbook notepad using a
paint chip for the cover. My business card is on the right, plus
candy. Workshop attendees NEED candy, right?
If I made my living doing presentations like I did yesterday, I think I'd be very happy. The fun part was creating it. Actually presenting was kind of nerve-wracking – I've never watched a presentation that went 100 percent smoothly, and mine was no exception – but it went.

We had a pretty good turnout, and the feedback was positive. Now to see if any of these club leaders actually follows up and begins using social media.

Part of our meeting was also watching Hillary Clinton's campaign kick-off speech, and it was so fun being with a room full of like-minded people! It reminded me of the early Obama campaign. We had house parties for lots of major events back then. I'd love for that kind of enthusiasm to catch fire again. Honestly, though, Clinton doesn't have the spark that Obama did.

She certainly (in my opinion) has the credentials and experience to be President, though.

I was SO TIRED when I came home yesterday. Being "on" took more out of me than I'd thought it would. But you were right, Timi: It was, indeed, very satisfying to finish and present the project, and now I can say I'm not a Keynote (Apple's version of PowerPoint) virgin.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Making up for lost time

Two weeks sick in bed means lots of stuff went undone. Plus we had the exterior of the house painted this week. I feel like updating the blog has been last on the priority list.

And there IS a list! It's been very satisfying to cross things off as they're completed, especially the Keynote project. (P.S. I LOVE KEYNOTE. Love it, love it, love it.)

When I added it to the list, I also added percentages, because creating a presentation like this isn't something you can knock off in an afternoon or two. When I crossed off 80%, I felt really, really good. I knew it would get done, and I knew it would get done on time. I wrapped it up three days ago and have been rehearsing it.

Here's the thing: I've never done anything like this before. In previous jobs and volunteer positions, I've never been required to present a couple hours' worth of information to a group of people who are expecting good, solid content. In my job, I was always a worker bee. Volunteer posts meant I took minutes or wrote checks or got someone else to come in and present a program.

So I'm nervous, and hoping it all comes off without a hitch. Fortunately, the audience is Democratic women, who are very forgiving.

The meeting is tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it, for sure, but I'll be glad when it's over.

I started walking again this week, thinking I would start out slowly and work my way back up to four miles a day. But Tuesday was the first day, and it was so nice outside that I just went the distance. I kind of wiped myself out for anything else productive that day, but I did the same thing Wednesday (and then went food shopping) and Thursday (followed by a thorough sweeping of the porches after the painting crew left).

Lest you think that sweeping a couple porches is no biggie, our back "porch" is actually more of a patio that extends from one end of the house to the other. (Floor plan here; the back of the house is the living room side.) I can't even guess how much distance it covers. But when it's 90° out, with relentless sun beaming down, it was quite the job.

After tomorrow's meeting, I should be able to get back to work on the interior painting. And maybe if it rains a bit – thus softening up the dirt – I'll get some weeds pulled. They really took over the landscape beds. It was bad before … it's just awful now.

BUT … it's lily time. And they really are lovely this year. See?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Wonder of wonders

I'm dressed.

For the first time since May 27.

It's gonna be a good, good day.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Hanging on

Damned cold.

I'm hanging in, not on, the damned cold is hanging on and, from others' experience with it, it'll be here for a while.

The grass, however, won't wait another day. I have to mow today whether I feel like it or not.

I actually am a little more comfortable sitting or standing than I am lying abed reclining, so maybe it'll be fine. Hoping the anticipation is worse than the reality when it comes to riding around in the grass for three hours.

I'd also thought I might take a very short walk. Maybe a mile. Or maybe to the end of the driveway and back (which is a tenth of a mile). Heh.

When I do venture outdoors for a bit, I'm overwhelmed with how fast the weeds have grown. Yesterday when I had to go to the garage for something, I noticed what I thought was a volunteer tomato plant in the asparagus bed. That's not unusual. But upon closer inspection, it's flat-leaf parsley.

How weird is that? A gift from the birds, I suppose.

Now that I'm up and feeling not quite as bad as I did an hour ago, I think I'll work on the Keynote presentation. It shouldn't take more than a couple hours to wrap it up. I'm going to give everyone at the workshop an outline of it, rather than print out each of the slides.

That would be a whole lotta ink.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

On the mend

But still sick.

I talked with the nurse in my doctor's office yesterday, who said unless my fever reached and stayed at 100°, I should continue to rest, hydrate, and use OTC cold medications to relieve the symptoms.

In other words, I have a really bad cold.

They say a cold lasts a week or seven days, whichever comes first. This is the eighth day. That's how I know it's a really BAD cold.

My drug of choice is Alka-Seltzer Cold & Cough Formula. That stuff works.

My exercise of choice is walking from my bed to the bathroom and back. Yesterday I made it all the way to the laundry room. Because, yes, the laundry must go on.

My food of choice is whatever sounds good at the moment my stomach starts growling. NOTHING tastes good. Food has no flavor whatsoever. And I've been known to eat dinner at 9 p.m. because I simply wasn't hungry at 5 or 6 or whatever passes for a "normal" dinnertime.

So odd.

I've not been following the paleo/primal plan, simply because it involves cooking. Which involves standing. Which I haven't been doing very often or for very long. Also, bacon and eggs just sounds awful right now. So … oatmeal has sounded very good lately. I've eaten some plain Greek yogurt with fruit. A couple days I had lunch-meat sandwiches (horrors!) and once it was peanut butter (horror-of-horrors!).

I haven't gained any weight, though, so it's all good.

I think Imma gonna make a salad tonight. Chicken, avocado, hard-cooked eggs, bacon, spinach, romaine.

I can tell I'm feeling better if I'm planning to actually cook.

Monday, June 1, 2015

When we last met …

I was healthy. Ish. Last Wednesday I wrote a blog post, checked e-mail, worked on the Keynote project, cooked dinner, visited a friend in the hospital, and went to an AA meeting.

Since then? Blah. In SO many ways.

I've managed to keep up with the e-mail, and I've continued to work on the Keynote, at least a couple of days. I've been sick, sick, sick, and apparently there's Something Going Around. Or at least that's what my husband reported when he came home from church yesterday.

Thursday and Friday were upset-stomach days. And no-energy days. And playing-lots-of-Scrabble-on-my-phone days.

Saturday I felt congested and tight in my chest. I began coughing. It hurt. Reallyreallyreally hurt. My throat hurt. I couldn't talk. By last night I was running a fever.

Sometime in the afternoon, though, my throat didn't hurt as much and I could talk, although I'm still quite congested. And sneezing. The fun never stops.

So basically I've spent four days in bed, reading (started and finished The Wright Brothers by David McCullough – excellent read!) and playing games and working when I could concentrate.

The friend I visited in the hospital died Friday morning, and that's been hard. Her funeral is tomorrow. I hope I feel up to the drive. The best way to feel better tomorrow is to continue resting today.

I guess. That's my plan, anyway.

Whatever else you do this summer, don't get sick. The grass and weeds keep growing without you. The sun and gentle rain are lovely and tempting and it's painful not to be able to enjoy it.

I'll be back in a couple days, hopefully feeling normal again. But friends who have had this whateveritis have said it can linger for a couple of weeks. That would be adding insult to injury.

Or virus.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My birthday lunch

It felt really good to me to eat normal food on my birthday. We stopped at Ruby Tuesday's, as we'd planned, and I ordered a burger and onion rings. We had cake for dessert. (And cupcakes for breakfast!) There's a part of me that would just like to get off the food roller coaster I've been on my whole life, and just eat.

I know what happens, however, when I "just eat." I'm grateful to have found a way to eat that reduces pain and inflammation and also helps me lose a little weight. I've struggled for so long – I need to be okay with eating normal food once in a while.

And really? Since when is a big old pretzel burger "normal?" I might need to rethink a couple things. Heh.

I've been thinking about the family that sat near us in the restaurant. Mom, Dad, two little girls, and a grandpa, who was clearly Dad's dad.

Dad was opinionated. And loud. They were sitting at two tables-for-four pushed together, and the men were sitting at the heads of the long table. I feel fairly certain the dad spoke loudly so his dad could hear him.

But so could everyone else on our side of the restaurant.

He talked and talked and talked, mostly about church things. Bible camp. Going to hell if you don't do the right thing. The unfairness of having to pay for a school field trip for one of his daughters. (To her credit, she spoke up and said how much fun the trip was.)

I was uncomfortable. Dad, of course, paid no attention to us, as he was all about himself and his opinions. One of those.

The server was a young woman who happened to mention she was pregnant. Which started a whole new round of inappropriate conversation. She pulled out her phone to show off the ultrasound. Talked about trying on wedding dresses with a baby-bump pillow insertion. Accepted an extra-generous tip from Dad with effusive thanks.

I'm still trying to work it all out in my head why I was so put off by all of it. It was none of my business, and there wasn't a darned thing I could do about it. I wouldn't describe myself as religious. I do have a spiritual life, but I rarely discuss it and certainly not in a public place.

I don't much care for this judgmental side of me, and maybe my lesson was to learn to be more tolerant. I'm working on it.

But I hope I don't get tested again too soon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

So this happened while I was gone


But the BIG EVENT of the weekend was my oldest granddaughter's high-school graduation. Commencement was lovely, her party on Sunday was lots of fun (and it didn't rain!), and I spent my 64th birthday driving home.

But I did get that burger at Ruby Tuesday, and I didn't know it but they also give you CUPCAKES!

So pretty much an off-plan weekend as far as food went, but hey. I'll totally go with the "it only happens once a year" excuse, and for Miss M, it only happens once in a lifetime. She has two additional graduations in her future, but you only leave high school once.

Lots of fun and family time. A bit of walking. I'm up to 70 miles for the month as of this morning. I could hit a hundred if I managed five-a-day for the rest of the month. I'll try. But if I don't make it, it's not going to ruin my life. Or even my month.

We brought the cupcakes home with us. Guess what I'm having for breakfast? Heh.