6-10-2015 Black Cow Day

The weather has been wonderful, not too hot, not too cold, although there have been days when I started to walk around barefoot, and later decided that I should have worn my stockings, and had to go back for them. I got SO excited the other day when I saw that the corn  is sprouting in the field beside the drive-in!  I’ve been pleased that the broken iris I brought in after their stems were broken in the heavy rain last week have actually made new blooms, even though they aren’t “growing”. I didn’t know if that would work, and it has! And there’s a yellow one, now that the purple and white ones are passing. I got a foxglove- which is sort of my acceptance that I’m not liable to have grandchildren available to get poisoned. (If it happens, I can happily rip them up!) The older I get the more I appreciate flowers, even though I continue to love the flowers of herbs and vegetables. (I’ve had such a hard time with the salad garden- I didn’t want to cut down the pretty yellow flowers from the radishes and kale that self seeded from last year.)

TyraI’ll be headed out soon to pick Willow up from Logan. I think her visit with Tyra has probably been marvelous for her. I know I’ve missed her, and have been following her on facebook. Apparently last night they went to Medieval Times, which I figured would be like Medieval Manor- until she posted footage of combat demos. Who’d have thought years ago that one could be a professional “knight in armor” these days? And she said they’ve made great strides in Badger blanket
their pre-move organization, (the excuse for inviting her down) so they were happy with her having been down there this past month.
I was surprised when she talked about visiting a fabric store, but apparently she’s made Tyra’s parents custom blankets. The one she made for Thor had a badger, and I’m glad she posted it, since obviously she’ll be leaving them down in Florida. Universal loot She’s actually shipped some of her loot back- we’ve gotten much more used to shipping things lately, and it will save on luggage she has to carry. I’m not particularly sanguine about looking for her in Logan- there are something like 4 terminals, and the itinerary from the airline didn’t specify. Why do people seem to forget to mention things that they know so well, and other people don’t?

I have been worrying about how crabby I’ve been feeling lately. I was cross at the grocery store because they pack the cherries in bags of over two pounds, when I only usually want one. I am annoyed because the doors that open when you push a button have “caution” signs, and the motion detect doors are far more “automatic”. I’m cross with the Drs. office for not telling us what the procedure was, and at myself for being grouchy. I am done with this, can I stop now?
Last week we went in for the endoscopy the doctor ordered to see if Kat’s constant nausea and regurgitation has damaged her throat. When we got there it turned out it wasn’t endoscopy, but a barium upper GI Xray, a LOT less traumatic, and the techs were very nice. Afterwards (as she’d had to fast before), we dropped Marks mail (a year later and some is still coming here) off at his place, and he took us to lunch. Yesterday we went in to see Dr. Mozumder for a follow-up, and as expected, she said that they didn’t find anything, so the next step would be the endoscopy, (that we’d misunderstood when she was talking about options, which is certainly possible- I try to write everything down, but can misunderstand) but Kat gets to decide whether she wants it as there are much greater risks. This week I’m reading a book Less Medicine, More Health (review here), which argues that we need to look more closely at the risks and benefits of everything from tests to interventions rather than just assuming that more is better, and I was happy that she has decided to wait. (Is there any change more difficult for a parent than learning to let your adult kids make their own decisions?) I personally think that as both Kat and the doctor suggested, she’s nauseous a lot because she’s anxious, and that ties your stomach in knots. It’s the anxiety we need to deal with, as well as making her more comfortable until that happens, and watching to make sure that it doesn’t scar her. I thought the doctor was getting sick of my constant questions and writing things down, but then Kat thought the doctor might have been getting sick of her, so I am going to go with both of us having a perception filter that’s a bit negative these days. If we’re aware of it, we can take it into account.
While we were there I checked my weight- finally under 270 (is the diet helping?). I also read Fat Chance (link to review), an overview of the obesity pandemic, this week.  After The Blood Sugar Solution Detox Diet, it seemed moderate- he simply suggests getting the processed foods out of your diet, including juices as well as sugar. Juices, in losing the fiber, stimulate the same reactions sugar does in your body. I know the really low carb diet worked, but it didn’t seem like something I could do forever, and just avoiding processed food seems easier. I can eat meat, vegetables and salads, keep my starch portions small, and only have desserts on special occasions. OK, I was a bit sad when it was National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day yesterday, and I decided not to make one, but I can live with that. I will be aiming at 25 pounds of sugar a year which was what Americans ate in 1900. Did you know that we’ve doubled our sugar intake in the last 30 years? It was already way too high. Wow. Anyway, that should allow a few Christmas cookies, the occasional slice of birthday cake, nibble of chocolate, and  pie or dessert in social situations.  Kat’s been trying to eat better herself. Her method is not to eat anything she can’t explain to Ælfthryth- her persona. She told me about an interesting argument about oranges because her Anglo-Saxon self wasn’t sure that it was a fruit. She explained it was from the continent, and Ælfwytha, (Willow’s persona) who’s been there, had seen them. Probably growing. And she was probably seeing them grow now (since Willow was in Florida). As opposed to the “Paleo” diet, you don’t have to eat most of your food raw, and can actually have flour! Much easier.
I’ve actually been starting the mornings with the ‘smoothies’ from the sugar cleansing diet I’ve been griping about. I don’t like thinking of myself as being prejudiced in a negative way, even when I pride myself in being able to spot danger signs of fanaticism. The ones that are mostly fruit are not too bad, although I bet they’d taste better without the flaxseed, avacado, and other weird ingredients, but maybe they’ll help me get not addicted to sugar. My experience agrees with Dr. Lustig’s research, it is an addiction, and I’m just hoping that I’ll be able to eat socially without “falling off the wagon”. I think that makes  food harder as an addiction because we have to eat, we just don’t have to eat the food that’s cheap and convenient.
Clearly I’ve been talking about food too much (or the wrong way). Kat has asked me to stop talking about it, and I’ve gotten more response to last week’s letter about it than I do with most topics. How one chooses to eat is an incredibly personal matter, each of us has to find what satisfies us, and frankly our culture seems as eager to tell us how to handle it as much, if not more so, than it feels free to tell people about how to handle their relationships. I thought I was presenting interesting and possibly useful information, and sharing my views about it (as I do about everything from ghosts to Anglo-Saxons). Apparently I didn’t express it that well, or people are more sensitive about any perceived attack on their dietary choices, and by “perceived attack” I’d prefer to substitute “disagreement with”, because even the suggestion that other options are available appears to be taken as an attack on their choice. Really, I think most of what we eat is whatever looks best from what’s available, affordable, and falls into our concept of stuff we should eat. My mother used to say “Raised on skunk, you hanker for skunk” (until I wanted to scream), although I generally agree with the premise. So much of food preference is culturally taught. I, for example, have no problem with “Jell-o mold” or Jell-o “salad” (although I never much cared for shredded carrots suspended in lemon jello), but the idea of “Congealed Salad” makes my stomach turn. Blood congeals. Freezing springs can congeal. Nothing I want to put in my mouth congeals. And it’s totally the word. I know that, but still….
Our culture gives us permission to comment on what other people eat, or even what we think they eat. I remember making fun of Jasmina when she watered her juice. Good heavens, what a jerk I was! I do it myself now. One would like to think we get less ridiculous as we get older. Gods I hope so, I had such a long way to go!  I suppose by waving the flag of “free speech” we can talk about all the formerly taboo subjects: religion, money, and politics, and we don’t have to stick to the weather, clothing and pleasanter health. (Specialists were allowed to discuss their areas of expertise, but only with others in the same group, if I understand it correctly. One doesn’t discuss philosophy or medicine except with others trained in the topic.) I expect that even the “safe” topics were supposed to be constrained to agreeing with one another. Good heavens, where do you suppose sports falls into that? Certainly people disagree about sports- strongly (consider the Nicea riots that nearly changed the history of the later Roman Empire!), but it does seem to be a frequent topic of conversation around here.  Gossip, is both described as talking about people, and talking about them in a nasty way. Personally, I find nothing so worthy of conversation as people.  Also shared experiences, which is why I like talking about what I’ve read and watched.
Anyway, if you were among the ones I irritated by going on so much about it, but weren’t among those who mentioned it, I apologize. If we were, as I try to imagine, sitting at the kitchen table chatting, even if I didn’t notice your eyes glazing over in response to my over enthusiasm with the topic, you’d have been able to ask for another cup of tea, or a change of subject, which isn’t likely to happen when I’m at the computer imagining that I’m letting you know about all the cool things I’ve learned. For example- Black Cows (rootbeer floats) have been around for over 100 years! My mother said that with vanilla ice cream it was a brown cow, and only a black cow with chocolate ice cream, but yick. (again, personal response). I expect there’s a lot of local variation. I understand that some people also call Coke floats Black cows. One thing’s for sure, that when you are a kid you learn what they call it near you, and generally get really annoyed when someone challenges that label.
While we’ve been out over the last two weeks we’ve been able to watch an old house being disassembled, first the shell, then the beams, finally the brick fireplaces- fascinating. I assume they’ll be recycling them. In contrast they finished putting together the new Urgent Care facility, and today they were bulldozing the old one. Too recent construction to bother recycling I guess. But while it’s faster, it bothers me the waste that style construction costs.
Another thing Kat did was to make herself a  Medic alert bracelet with findings from Michaels. One is a glass capsule in which all her meds are recorded. Others have notice of her allergies and to “not touch” her. It’s pretty, but like any charm bracelet, inconvenient- she’s trying to get used to it.

Atul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto is surprisingly readable; the older I get, the more dependent I get on making lists, and his book reassures me that it’s not just that I’m dealing with an aging brain. He mentions how checklists work for building as well as medicine, and I’m enjoying it. I actually send back Still Alice unwatched- I want to see it, but at the same time the subject makes me uncomfortable. I’d rather watch Midsomer Murders- or read the Roman Mysteries than the Homeric Hymns (reading for my on-line course in Mythology). I have been enjoying the Midsomer Mysteries. How long they’ve been going on struck me when I recognized Orlando Bloom as a “Mr. Body” character at the beginning of one episode- it was BEFORE he played Legolas in Lord of the Rings! I’m not surprised it’s continued, each episode I’ve seen has been complex and well developed. And I will say the same for the Roman Mysteries- although as I approach the end of the series I feel sad because I’ll miss the characters.
Another film we watched was the 1944 Uninvited, apparently the first ghost film to treat the subject seriously. Kat and I were both struck with how natural the ghostly indicators were, a chill, a scent of perfume, a feeling, pets not liking a room, a mist… it was very well handled. We got the 2009 Uninvited and while it’s a remake, it turns out to be a remake of a Korean horror movie, A tale of two sisters, which Kat has seen bits of. I watched Charlie St. Cloud, which is the only ghost movie I’ve seen that had a crisis apparition in it (as well as ghosts).
Sorry, gotta go!

Tonight I’ve got Catherine Kane on the New Normal talking about Omens, Signs and Portents.

Willow is home, yay! I’ve missed her.
Kat and I left at 10, stopped to pay the property taxes, but the Town Clerk was closed- she’s at a Town Clerk conference. I wonder what they talk about?  We gave it two hours, because the Maps program said an hour and a half- I figured a bit of leeway couldn’t hurt. We got to Logan at noon, and I decided to park, Willow was due in a half hour, and I wanted to use the euphemism. On the way in they asked how long I’d be there and I told them pick up was at 12, so they gave me a “quick turnaround card” and waved me in. On the other hand, there was no way to get in without getting the automatic ticket, and once inside, we were told “go down to the end”, up to level 3, to 2, to 1, to 3,… we just kept coming to blocked lanes and more people sending us somewhere else. The last one said “down that ramp” and there were were at the exit/cashier (with signs saying “you must have paid inside before you leave”). I stopped and called to anyone who came by- finally one told me to back up and go up another ramp. There we found some parking, and went inside, having NO idea where we were. I think the parking takes up the inside of the loop of the road that goes in a big circle with terminals around the edge. Asking directions (since the signs offered us to A or to E (and we wanted C) we were told to go to either then go to the ground floor and get a shuttle. (“How much time do you have? Do you want to walk?”) I also was in “dire” need of a rest room, so we chose A that led through the Hilton. Apparently we just missed a shuttle and waited for the next- beginning a series of text messages between Willow and myself, as we tried to find each other. By 1:15 we got to the information desk and directed to an escalator. No Willow. More messages. We noticed the doors were numbered. We were at 106; asked Willow, she was at 111. “Stay there, don’t move, I’ll come to you.” then “I’m at 106, where are you?” We were inside, she was outside. But together again, finally! We waited, waited, at the place the shuttle driver had told us we would get picked up. Finally we watched it come, and roll past. I went back to the information desk and asked how to catch the shuttle. Apparently you are supposed to call them for pickup; luckily she had the number. “Please wait at door 111.” We toddled up to where Willow had started, waited again, and watched him pass- luckily he stopped by a sign we hadn’t noticed saying hotle shuttle. Phew! Almost the end of the adventure. We retraced our steps, and when we got back to the parking, the car wasn’t there. I’d written down the location- but the ink didn’t take on the floor. Luckily I thought to look one floor down, and there it was. Whew! Willow had money for helping clean and paid for the parking. We had a lovely talk on the trip home, and it feels very good to have her back!

Zoo tyra WillowTchipakkan
“But lately I find that I reek of discontentment. It fills my throat, and it floods my brain. And sometimes I fear there is no longer a dream, but only the discontentment.”  John Adams 1776

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