Friday, July 31, 2015

FOOD ISSUES

Oh geez...I've become a full-fledged "one of them".  Have I written about this before?  Well, maybe, but now I'm way over the edge.

I have "food issues".  Oh, how I ridiculed people who complained of "too rich", "too spicy", dairy and gluten sensitivities (undiagnosed, so not "real" in my mind), too sweet, or not vegetarian, etc etc.  I'd roll my eyes and dig into anything put in front of me.

Then a dozen years ago or so I started to get a very dramatic reaction to rich foods and gone were the cream sauces. No more Fettucini Alfredo.  Not long after that I noticed a similar reaction to spicy fare.  Thai food, among my favorites, became a one-star affair instead of three.

I read two brilliant books a year or so ago, "Salt, Sugar, Fat" and "Grain Brain".  The first put me off any processed foods, the second was an indictment of gluten and most grains and carbohydrates.  I started to clean up my diet and let my eating choices be not only health-related, but also a statement about my opposition to being sold a lie by corporations that wanted me to be addicted to unhealthy processed foods for profit.

Four years ago (today!!!)  I quit drinking alcohol.  Two years ago I mostly gave up caffeine (now only a cup of half-caf in the morning and decaf any other time.)  For several weeks last fall, including over Halloween (a real test of my commitment!), I went sugar-free.

Then I fell off the wagon.  Grains and gluten snuck back in.  I started to have a nightly helping (or two or three) of dark chocolate with nuts and sea salt.  I reached for the pastries instead of the veggies at church coffee hour.

And then the headaches and gut issues this summer had my anxiety rearing its ugly head, trying to convince me I had something dreaded happening inside me.  Hub more rationally suggested a couple of weeks ago these symptoms could be diet-related.

Well, I don't eat hardly any meat -- no beef, just a little pork (oh, delicious pig!), some chicken and lots of salmon and seafood.  Pretty healthy.  I do love mozzarella cheese sticks and Greek yogurt.  Ice cream is a trigger food which I limit due to its addicting qualities.  I watch the carbs.  But the grains and gluten had snuck back in with the sugar and the ongoing dairy.  My weight started to creep up too, beginning to negate the 25 pounds I'd lost a few years ago.

So, here we go....elimination diet.  NO dairy.  NO gluten.  It's been 2 weeks and my headaches have subsided and some days are gone completely.  My GI system seems to be on the mend.  I've lost 2-1/2 pounds.

I'd feel happy and self-righteous if I wasn't so annoyed that this is working.  I know that makes no sense.  Of course I want to eat clean and be healthy.  I just don't want to be "one of them".  I want to eat any damn thing I please! But that is wishful thinking.  No one can do that and not pay the price in weight gain and disease or be party to the profit motive of Big Agra and its less than stellar track record with farm animals, pesticides, and creating addicting combinations of tastes and textures in fake processed "food".

So, I'll keep on, slowly and moderately re-introducing a bit of dairy in a couple of weeks to see how I respond.  I sorely miss my nightly Greek Yogurt and blueberries with a sprinkling of walnuts and cinnamon.  Oh....my....I miss it.  And a smidgen of dark chocolate can't possibly be deadly can it?  I'd like to reintroduce that soonish too.  The other stuff I find I don't really miss.

Except, well, for the occasional "special treat", like the teeny tiny slice of the Key Lime Pie my son and daughter-in-law made for Family Dinner this week...it would have been rude to refuse.  See?  I'm not perfect, but I do confess my sins of ingestion.

Bon Appetit!©

At least that's the view from here....

Thursday, July 23, 2015

DIGITAL MANIA

I can say this because I am as guilty as the next guy/gal, but I declare digital cameras a scourge on the landscape of beautiful places.  Smart phones of course are ubiquitous, but really any sort of camera is constantly in motion.

We just returned from a 4 day jaunt up to Victoria BC.  Truly a beautiful city and the scenery on the ferry ride in summer is postcard perfect.  Everyone, from the ferry dock in Washington to the landing at Sidney BC, was taking photos of the islands, the mountains, the water, the birds, the snack bar, their family, friends, selves, card games, pop cans, shoes...

In Victoria, as perfect a photo op as you will find anywhere, it was impossible to find one square foot of tourist space where a camera wasn't raised to shoot a photo.  Never mind Butchart Gardens where we gave up being considerate of not getting in others' photos.  If we stood back and waited for clear passage, we'd still be there.  I always wonder how many strangers' vacation pictures I end up in.  I hope they got my skinny, younger side.

It gets annoying at times.  And don't even get me started on Selfie Sticks.  I feel like we've completely given up any pretense of denying narcissism with those things.  However, I both loathe and love them, truth be told.  I love posting "selfies" to Facebook (this makes me a doofus and roundly ridiculed, I know), but so many are bad because my arms are too short to get any perspective or context.  It's my big goofy head mostly.  And whenever Hub does a selfie of both of us, it takes on a weird fish eye look with his head always enormous and mine miniscule.  Maybe we don't have the technique down, but I sort of think the Selfie Stick would be a handy gadget to have along -- like a tripod.  But, no, Selfie Sticks are reviled as crass, while tripods are respected as a tool of a serious photographer.   So, we haven't added one of those sticks to our gear just yet.   Oh, and I ran across this on Facebook -- pretty funny! https://www.facebook.com/CollegeHumor/videos/10153046692882807/?fref=nf


We took a ton of photos in Victoria, of course.  With digital you can take dozens of photos of the exact same thing and theoretically get home and wade through them, keeping the very best of the lot.  However, we never get to the weeding through part.  I bet we have, from various locations throughout our travels, about 500 sunset photos.  They look, well, about the same.  Over mountains, buildings, oceans...beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows.  But really?  Did we have to keep clicking away as the sun descended to the horizon as if this nightly event needed to be recorded second by second at every locale we've visited?  No.  Of course not.  But if you can, you do.  And then there they are.  We were much more selective when we were shooting film that we had to pay to be developed!

This is true of every person with a camera to their eye.  They shoot indiscriminately, everything in sight.  And the posing!  We have become so camera-aware that seeing people "strike a pose" like a model in a magazine layout has become the norm too.  Used to be there'd be a person or group standing in front of a national monument, looking windblown, a little on the disheveled side, maybe a stain on their shirt, grinning self-consciously at whoever was holding the Brownie Instamatic.   No more.  Now there are model-worthy poses with hands on hips, heads turned just so, fingers pointing, sunglasses on...now try one with them off... heads thrown back, bust thrust out like a pin-up girl.  We take a shot and immediately look at it to see if we approve.  If not?  It's "Take Two".  Or three.  Or more.

Like I said, I am guilty too.  I write every word of this post based on my own desire for getting a
good shot.  It just seems when it's being done en mass that the absurdity of it all is more apparent.  I won't stop doing it.  Neither will anyone else.  But really?  I remind myself and you: Let's also take a moment to just capture the "real imperfection" of us and not go for the professional shot every time.  Also, it might be quite a thrill to see the scenery around us as marvels of man and nature and not as a picture to be captured, downloaded, and forgotten until the next time we see a sunset or an Empress Hotel.

At least, that's the view from here...



Friday, July 10, 2015

THE CRAZY

Hmmm.....hoping The Crazy isn't back.

I woke up with a killer headache again this morning.  Fairly regular occurrence lately.  Not daily, but enough to feel like, "Oh shit.  Not again."  I don't know what a migraine actually feels like, never having been formally diagnosed, but I imagine this to be a mild form.  I feel a little dizzy, nauseated, and my head hurts like a pressure vice is clamped 'round it.  I just want to close my eyes.

I tend to go with worst case scenarios, so it might be brain cancer.  Or maybe I need a new pillow again.  I am constantly (and I mean years and years now) searching for a comfortable pillow.  I wake up often with neck and shoulder soreness and the realization that I have been tensing my head, neck and facial muscles.  So that's maybe where the headache thing is coming from.  A new pillow, I tell myself, will remedy that.

Hub thinks I should do a sleep study and see if I have the sleep apnea, so en vogue these days.  I am resisting that, since I know for sure I'd be very non-compliant with the whole whooshing, white-noise, panic-inducing mask apparatus over my face at night.  Plus, he's the one who snores like a locomotive, not me.  And I might have to to move to the guest room even if HE were to don the Elephant Man nocturnal noise maker.

Maybe the headaches are from trying again to go off Estrogen replacement.  I've been on the lowest possible dose since my hysterectomy back in the day -- like nearly 15 years ago -- and at various times I've tried going off, but the docs always put me back on due to having outrageously persistent hot flashes that cause chills, nausea, interrupted sleep and supreme discomfort.  I have taken to tracking them again.  Hitting about 15 episodes per day.  Better than last time I tried to go off -- that was more like 24 (once/hour).  No one believes me about that but that's because they weren't living in my hot bod.  It was hellish.  So maybe this is hormonal headache territory.

I might also be struggling with Demon Depression again.  I wrote a poem last week, when my writer's group summer writing project had one prompt in the form of he word "Hope",  about an acquaintance's suicide 20 years ago   Yes, I got from "hope" to "suicide" in a few well placed lines of poetry.  And today is the seventh anniversary of my mother's death from a stroke after years of living with increasing dementia.  That can't possibly be a contributor to my state of mind, can it?

When I'm not feeling jolly, I get a little testy.  At midnight last night I went out on the porch off our bedroom, switched on the bright lights, and politely, but firmly told the neighborhood teen boys it was time to stop their oh-so-entertaining-and-guffaw-inducing game of "kick the can" under the streetlight in front of our house.  I'd already endured Round 1 of their World Cup run last Sunday night.  Round 2 on Thursday, which resumed at 11:00 p.m. was enough after an hour of trying to ignore them.  It's hot and closing my bedroom window in a bid to screen their voices ended up being very uncomfortable.  But, boy did I feel like "the grouchy old lady across the street", even though I acknowledged they were having fun and I was sorry to ask them to stop.  They mumbled, "sorry", and scuffled into the house of one of the boys across the street.  Six 16 year olds, just having some good clean fun.  No swearing, no drinking, no girls, no throwing stuff, or breaking things...just literally playing a child's game with great hilarity.  I'm sorry; now I feel badly.  But damn, I was I tired last night and really?  Midnight?  (I guess teen boys don't get sleepy by 10 p.m.).

On top of that we had a bit of a family emergency yesterday and while all is well, it moved us all off our emotional ground.  It was like when I had my car accident last September.  One minute everything is fine and the next, in a flash, it isn't, and no amount of "It's going to be OK-ness" seems to return my psyche to a place of equilibrium.  So this afternoon when I looked out the window and saw a white chicken walking down the middle of our city neighborhood street, I just stared at it, and thought, "Yep.  That's a chicken.  Wonder where it's going?"

Which is when I wondered if The Crazy was back.  The Crazy that makes me shut down, take to my sofa, my books, my TV, my self-help library, my inner landscape of rumination and dread of all things awful, where no amount of rainbows and unicorns can break through the existential aloneness that results in a despair that paints everything with a slate gray "what's the point?"brushstroke.

But not to worry.  This is familiar territory and in some ways a time of renewal for me.  And I'll publicly smile through it.  Because even in this state of mind -- headache, angst, and all -- I get that my life is one of incredible bounty and privilege and no one is more grateful than I for the grace of all my blessings.

Nope, not going anywhere except to switch on AmazonPrime and watch another episode of "Catastrophe".   Ironically, it's pretty funny.

At least, that's the view from here...©