Monday, August 31, 2015

Last Few Days Of August, 2015

I start this on Saturday morning, August 29.  What a nice way to end August with rain and coolish mornings!

Hubs has been getting a few (very few) tomatoes out of the garden.  A couple of them were the first Cherokee Purples for the summer, so that gave me some seed to save for next year.  After we enjoyed the Crimson Watermelon that he brought in, he found another, this time the kind that are yellow inside.  They are green-striped on the outside.  The ones that are red inside have blackish-green skins.  I haven't found the yellow ones to be as good as the red ones, maybe it's one of those visual things, I don't know.  But I have not planted either of these since that first year that I tried out the seed that I got in a seed swap on GardenWeb, and that has been at least a couple of years now.  They just volunteer, and based on the fact that I got these seed because they were old seed someone was cleaning out of their stash, and I kept them a year or two before I planted them, I feel like this variety is a good one for the home gardener who might not choose to plant the seed every year.  When I see their little multi-lobed leaves sticking up out of the ground, I just let them be.  They grow amongst the tomatoes and cukes and happily travel across walkways and into pepper cages and so on.  My cucumbers didn't come up very well this year, I got enough out of the vine(s) that did emerge to be satisfying but not enough so that I could share with neighbors till even THEY would not take anymore, this time.  I had planned to peel and juice the extra and freeze the juice for drinking later on, but there was not enough to do that.  I sure did enjoy what I had, though, dipped in Ranch Dressing, and also combined with onion in a sugar-vinegar-water "brine".

It's been too wet to pick the Purple Hull Pink-Eye southern peas, but they need to be picked as soon as it does dry out enough.  Shelling them is something I can do sitting down so I've gotten on top of that with the ones I picked before surgery.  Lots of people shell their PHPESP's when they're fresh out of the garden, put them in jars with boiling water to cover and a little salt, and can them.  But I've just found it a lot easier for them to dry in the shell, like is done with most beans.  They are easier to shell that way, and already almost dry enough to store.  They just need to be spread out on a tray for another day or two and then they can be poured into jars and vacuum-sealed with the FoodSaver jar sealer attachment and a used canning flat.  They will keep for a long time that way, as long as the peas are dry before going into the jar.

I was watching a TV program the other day about weeds, I think it might've been one of those America's Heartland segments, but it was awhile ago and I didn't know at the time what the name of the program was that we were watching.  But anyway, they were talking about Spurge, and how cows won't eat it, and it can take over a pasture in practically no time.  Apparently they've found out that goats love Spurge and they will totally eradicate it out of a field.  I live in an area where cattle are raised and cattlemen generally have the attitude that goats are a pox upon the world.  They say they nip off plants even with the ground, where a cow has to have more sticking up out of the ground in order to bite it off.  So goats or sheep in a pasture with cows means the cows don't get enough to eat.  But if goats are that good at cleaning out the weeds that cows can't or won't eat, then certainly having a few goats and rotating them into a field where cows have been FIRST might be a solution for that.  Certainly every bit as good as (ahem...) burning off.  To think that entire range wars have been held in this part of the country between cattle raisers and goat raisers!  Goat's milk is every bit as delicious as cow's milk and in fact there are a lot of people that cannot tolerate cow's milk but can drink goat's milk without problems.  People will pay more for goat's milk and goat's cheese is treated like it's a gourmet item.  And so the cattle raisers' low opinion of goats seems to me to be pretty much unfounded.  It's kind of sad, really, how we tend to shoot ourselves in the foot by not being more open-minded. 

They were also talking about how some of these invasive weeds emit poisons from their roots that stunt the growth of other, more desirable plants, and one farmer said that he had discovered that Lupine would grow amongst them and would, in many cases, crowd them out.  HERE is some information about Lupine.  There is some mention about Lupine having poisons in it's roots or seeds but I don't see whether it becomes hard to get rid of once it's established itself.  Certainly Lupine is prettier to look at than Spurge, and medicinal besides, if you know what you're doing with it.  I have a terrible time with Bindweed and I'm thinking I might try sowing some Lupine there in the garden where it is the thickest.  I've been told that Bindweed is another plant that gives off poisons from its roots and I have found that things planted where Bindweed grows do not do as well as they do in places without Bindweed, even if I manage to keep it all pulled off the surface and away from the plants in question.

This is now Monday, August 31.  I had the closest thing to a full night's rest that I've had since surgery, last night.  I'm down to half a pain pill at breakfast and the other half about 2pm, then a whole one just before I'm ready to go to sleep for the night, which is about 9pm.  I take each pill with a gel cap stool softener and you know that your life is boring when the high part of your day is having a good bowel movement.   Still taking Meloxicam, one daily, and one Warfarin every-other-day.  I will take my last Warfarin this Thursday.  The "drain hole" that they made at the outside of my knee has healed and I've been allowed to leave the bandage off.  The big bandage that covers my suture, which is about 8" long, can be removed on this coming Saturday.  Having swelling and stiffness most of the time, and pain during the prescribed home-exercise sessions, but I'm able to do even the two most difficult exercises successfully now and that's an improvement.  As Paula would say, "Baby Steps".  I am getting around pretty good with the walker.  I get to advance from it to a cane in about ten days.

I've stationed my three-footed cane at the stairs, it's actually easier for me to climb the stairs with the cane and I can make it up and down the three steps between the office and the main floor without assistance.  I'm able to set the walker up or down on the landing of the floor where I'm going because it's only three steps and so is within my reach.  The ten steps up to the top floor, where I have to go for my shower every night, is another story.  I'm not brave enough to do that without assistance, even though Hubs' walker is on the landing up there so my walker can stay down on the main floor. 

Hubs and I walk once or twice a day down our driveway, out onto the blacktop road between us and Joe, past Joe and Cathy's driveway and out to Bob and Sharry's mulberry tree, then turn around and come back.

These pictures aren't very good but they show going down the driveway, then past Joe and Cathy's house, then towards Bob and Sharry's house.   The Mulberry Tree, my turning point, is the tallest tree in the picture.

We have antenna-TV hookup in the office where "Sick Bay" was set up for after this surgery, and I have to say I find myself liking it better and better as time rolls along.  There are negatives when compared with satellite TV.  You can't choose the channel on the remote and go instantly to it.  You have to use the "up" and "down" buttons.  There aren't as many channels, but there are certainly a lot more than there used to be.  When I was a kid, we just had three channels, and they all came out of Tulsa.  Then in the late 60's we got The Educational Station, OETA, and that brought pre-school presentations such as Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, and so on for the kids.  I think some painting lessons and cooking shows and so on for the adults.  But there are benefits to having antenna TV over satellite, too.  In fact, I'd be ecstatic if Hubs would allow me to Ditch Dish.  But no go, so far.  So we have Dish in the living room and antenna downstairs and upstairs.  The first benefit is, IT'S FREE.  The second one is that it works during storms.  Satellite TV is the first thing to abandon you during a storm.  Over the years, The Educational Station has improved a lot.  On antenna TV you actually can choose between channel 11-1, 11-2 and 11-3.  One offers home improvement and redecorating projects.  Another is mostly cooking and food shows, and the other is stuff like quilting, sewing, and so on.  I saw a really interesting Quilting show on Saturday that I hadn't seen before, their website is HERE, caught up with Nancy Zieman again, her sewing shows are HERE and her blog is HERE, and then I watched several programs that had to do with pie, one of which is HERE (scroll down).  One of the pies that caught my eye was the Blue Hawaiian Pie.  This is a fruit pie and not a cream pie, and when I did a search for the recipe, mostly what I found was the recipe for the cream pie version.  This one is a pineapple and blueberry fruit filling in a pie crust with a streusel-type top that contains toasted coconut, and is served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I may never make this pie, as MAKING a pie means I'm going to be EATING it, but this is the stuff an old country gal's dreams are made of.  Heh.  I caught a few good tips about pie making that were new to me, such as making the crust with half butter and half lard, (usually I make my pie crust with lard), coating the inside of pie shells to be used for cream pies with loosely-whipped eggwhite before baking to help the crust stay crisp after the filling is added, and I saw a cool machine called a "sheeter" EXAMPLE HERE that would sure be nice to have if a person made a lot of pies.  For instance, there is a local church that makes pie crusts and sells them as a fund-raiser about Thanksgiving time.  I don't know if they have a sheeter or just a lot of church ladies with rolling pins, but I'm tellin' ya, if I ever find one at a garage sale, I'm buying it in a heartbeat.  They probably cost an arm and a leg.  Of course one of their tips about brushing the top crust with evaporated milk and then sprinkling with sugar is close enough to what my Grammy Britt used to do that it's something I've just always done whenever I've baked a two-crust pie.  Usually I don't even brush with milk as Grammy always did.  I just sprinkle the crust down with sugar and as it bakes the sugar glazes the crust and makes it crunchy.  I've had pie in restaurants where the crust was just plain, and 'way too thick, besides, and this just ruins the whole pie.  

I made a mistake in scrolling down on THIS site.  Get a load of that Frozen Samoa Pie.  Or that cool top crust with round holes in it, or Island Pecan Pie.  Or those cute tart cups made in a muffin pan.  Whole Peach Pie.  Brown Sugar Pie.  German Cream Pie.  Sugar Cream Pie.  French Coconut Pie.  A person could get totally lost in Pinterest and never get out.

As you may remember, Hubs and I have two grandsons, whom we adopted when they were in the 5th grade (no, not twins, just 11 months apart).  I call them JR and JC on the blog, because that's their initials.  JR is the blonde. 

I never realized before how they look kind of sad in this picture.  This was taken on Parent's Day at the annual Grand Lake scout camp, it was always the BIG camping trip for the year, and they were really excited to get to go.  But it was a pretty grueling week.   Maybe they're just tired.  Or maybe I'd been chewing on them, I don't know.  JC had forgotten to pack underwear so he'd worn the same pair all week, and he had a tentmate he wasn't getting along with.  JR had gotten himself assigned to a tent with our neighbor's grandson, the one he was always up to no good with, and so there were reports delivered to me of their high jinx by then, I'm sure.

JR went back to live with his mom (my daughter) when he was 15 because I couldn't seem to keep this headstrong kid out of trouble.  He and JC were having a lot of trouble getting along and I don't know how many fights I had to break up between them down the hallway to their rooms.  He made friends with all the wrong kids, sneaked out his window in the night, started smoking, and I think he was dabbling in the harder stuff.  He discovered how to be The Class Clown about in the third grade and was the bane of existence for every teacher he had after that.  He got in big trouble at Church Camp one year, so much so that I just made him "sit out" for the following year.  Had to do that sometimes when it came to Boy Scout camping trips, too.  Praise God for that patient man who was their scout leader, but sometimes he would bring our boys home after several days' exposure to JR's antics, just sputtering with tales of the harrowing experience.  Seemed like I was chewing this kid out every time I looked at him.  One time he got suspended from school on the very first day.  I didn't think he'd ever amount to a hill of beans.  But ya know, he has really turned himself around.  He's married and he and his sweet wife have a little girl that's about three years old now.  ....Or is it four?  He works at a bank and she works at a call center.  On weekends he and a partner have a lawn-mowing business.  So of course you know this is one busy little family.  JR and I have rebonded well.  I always knew there was a good kid in there somewhere.  I mean, I saw glimmers of it all the time.  And several times he has told me that he is sorry for all the crap and that he appreciates now everything Hubs and I tried to teach him.  And I have told him that I loved him even though it wasn't always easy.  We don't see them often, they live in an apartment building only a couple miles from our house, but JR and I e-mail every now and then.  He comes over and helps us when we ask.  Their little one calls us "Gum-Maw and Gum-Paw".  Such a little Sweetie-Pie.  Anyway, JR announced to us yesterday that they are preggers and it's twins!  Hubs' mother, JR's great-grandmother, is an identical twin.  Apparently there are no twins on the other side of their family so I guess this is our legacy to their lives.  As near as I know, no one descended from Hubs' mother has yet had any twins so this is kinda cool for us, too.  They're excited and happy, I'm not sure if they realize just how much impact twins are going to have on their lives, though.  But twins are always special if you can survive The Baby Years.

This is Hubs' mom and her identical twin.

Well, that's about all I have for the last post of August, so I will publish this and go about my day.  Hubs went into town for his workout and to run some errands.  Claire, our neighbor up the road to the north, rang the doorbell, but I was downstairs and so I just hobbled to the door to the garage and pressed the button to the big garage door before she gave up on me.  She brought food.  I enjoy having her and Jay for neighbors even though we don't see each other much.  They are busy with their jobs, grown kids and grandkids.  It's their lake that you see often in the background in many of my pictures of our place.  Right after we moved in, they came down and she brought a pie made from the apples that grew in their back yard.

Anyway, the leg is beginning to tell me it's tired of being in the chair, so I'll walk around a bit, dig around in the freezer to see if I can find those black turtle beans I cooked and stuck in there some time ago.  I'll mix some of them with one of the jars of hamburger mix that siphoned a little but still sealed, I've been keeping it and another jar with same situation in the refrigerator.  But I think turtle beans would be good mixed in and maybe eaten with corn chips?  Might take my mind off pie.....

So y'all Rock On and you know we'll be doing the same.  Hugs to all, xoxoxoxo

Thursday, August 27, 2015

One Week Plus, Post Surgery

I will write this in short bursts as sitting for long periods of time causes the blood to pool in my legs and that's not a good thing.  This is now Monday, August 24, and my main goal today is to get my hands on the DANG fax number to the VA pharmacy that is supposed to renew Hubs' annual mailorder prescriptions.  We live over 40 miles from the nearest VA center and that qualified Hubs for the new CHOICE program, which allows him to go to a local doctor for his annual check-up, which is an absolute MUST so he can get his prescriptions through them.  It represents quite a savings for us.  But it has been a complicated process.  We got as far as the exam, but we were told to mail the prescription sheet to the wrong place and NO ONE seems to know what the magic fax number is!!  It's sooooo frustrating.

I was watching the news this morning about how those three (four, including the teacher who first suspected something was amiss, and that's an important thing) young American men and one British man overpowered a gunman on a train in France.  HERE is one version of the story, done by The Washington Post.  I really have to say, I think America, and Britain, too, really needed news like this even though all this would never have happened had there been no man, intent on the cowardly killing of many innocent, unarmed people who had no ability to protect themselves other than to hide and let it happen to all those who were unable to hide.

The father of one of these young American men said the following during an interview:
"You live your life, you do your best, and you trust God to take care of you when you cannot protect yourself".  So profound.  It brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes.

Anyone who shoots down unarmed, untrained people is a coward, it's just as simple as that.  And I'm just really sick and tired of cowards being in the news, aren't you?  I do believe that my God is the same as everyone else's God.  God has many names and many forms.  But I just cannot believe that there will be a special place in Heaven (or whatever it's called in other religions), for slaying people who pose no threat to anyone; whose intent in life is to live in peace and good will with their fellowmen.

I have heard people say that we will not solve this growing problem until we address the problem of mental health, and my opinion is that this would be all well and good except that nobody knows how.  We don't understand the origins and the mechanics of mental illness, and until we do, there is no way anyone's ever going to be able to "cure" it.  At this point it seems the standard treatment methods include prescribing drugs, which dulls the symptoms, but truly mentally ill do not take their medicine on a regular basis.  If they grow to depend upon the medicine, and their poor behavior can be explained away by their saying, "Oh, I didn't take my pill today", then that only teaches them that bad behavior can be excused.  We encourage them to "talk it out", which does nothing but put the words to music for them, so to speak.  The fact that the therapist is discouraged from ever showing even a spark of shock or disgust at anything that's said merely feeds the flame.  Therefore the stamp of "mental illness" merely gives free rein and relief of responsibility for acting on a base urge.  The fact of the matter is that anyone who can gain pleasure from murdering an innocent person needs no formal diagnosis.

It seems like to me that we just haven't been really protecting our children for years.  They see violence from an early age in their cartoons and so-called "children's shows", in their toys and video games.  Sometimes it's right there in the home where they have to grow up, so sad to say.  We take our little ones to school to "socialize" them, but instead they are bullied, and our society forces them to grow up before they have the emotional tools with which to do it.  I'm not an expert in these matters and I'm sure someone who has more intelligence than I do could really hit the nail on the head but I don't think the training people are getting in this field is going in the right direction. 

This is now Tuesday.  I'm just putting one foot in front of the other (literally), and looking forward to tomorrow when we go to Tulsa to have the staples and this tight bandage changed.  For awhile I was kind of worried about myself, I've had so many dire warnings and so much conflicting information thrown at me that I just really don't know what the hell I'm supposed to do.  I pick the version that is accompanied with the most clues that might make it more likely, and put myself in God's hands.  I'm not at all afraid to die, I'm just afraid of the process, if you know what I mean.  And I do hope to be better off, after recovery's over, than I was before surgery.  I have not always found this to be the case, unfortunately.
I made some progress yesterday on my VA project.  I looked up the phone number for the Ernest Childers' VA Outpatient Clinic in Tulsa, which is where Hubs normally goes for his annual check-up, and called the phone number that was listed for them there.  When I got the automated selection message, I chose "pharmacy", and this sent me to another selection message, where I chose "Talk to the pharmacist".  This apparently transferred my call to Muskogee, which, according to the internet, is the parent of the Tulsa Ernest Childers' Clinic.  I got a human, who asked how to direct my call, and I said that I needed the pharmacy.  Then I got another automated selection message where I chose "Talk to the pharmacist".  After that, I got another human, asking how to direct my call, and again I said I needed the pharmacy.  Finally, after a long wait, I had the pharmacist.  I explained the situation, how Hubs had opted to use the new Choice Program that came available to people who live more than 40 miles from their nearest VA clinic, and that Hubs had had his obligatory check-up locally, but that we were having trouble finding out where to fax the orders for the next year's worth of his meds.  I mean, why does this have to be so hard?  Our local doctor's staff had no clue what to do with it, gave the form and the approval letter to us and told us to mail it to Tri-West Healthcare Alliance in Arizona.  Well, that was the wrong thing to do, because they sent it back to us (after a delay of ten days), with a note saying we had to get this to the VA, not to them.  It could've been worse, they could've just thrown it in the trash and let us sit there, waiting for the next 3-month supply to arrive, in vain.  The pharmacist listened patiently and said that, well, this was a new program and they were still trying to work out some of the kinks.  She gave me the fax number that she said would work for the faxing of prescription orders.  She should know, right?  So then I called the office of our local doctor by whom Hubs had been given authorization to be seen and talked to a member of the office staff, and she said if he brought the forms and the fax number she'd be happy to fax it.  I told her, if it went through, to keep this number for other patients that they might get through this Choice Program, and she said she would appreciate having this number because they had been unable to get it up to this point.  I did not want to leave this to Hubs to explain, because he Talks In Code to me and I end up having to run him through an entire quiz to get the information that, seems like to me, he could've provided me in just a few words at my first question.  Maybe that's just Hubs, maybe it's just A Man Thing, I don't know.  But he needed to run into town anyway so he took the forms and the prescription orders with him and I hope he did as I instructed him and asked to see the person that had talked to me earlier, because we were on the same page, but I forgot to get her name, dang it.  Well, he came home and said she had made a copy to keep and faxed it, and she gave the original documents back to him.  The person I talked to said she'd call me when she was advised by the machine that it went through.  I've not heard back from her, yet, but I know how doctor's offices are, things get hectic and sometimes the little things fall through the cracks.  If I don't hear from her by noon today, I will call again, and if I learn that it didn't ever go through, we'll take the documents with us when we go to Tulsa tomorrow and go to The Ernest Childers' VA Outpatient Clinic and Hubs can physically GIVE the forms to the pharmacist there.  He has enough meds for one more month and then he is OUT.  All this will totally eliminate the convenience we were supposed to experience by being seen by a local doctor rather than going all the way to Tulsa for his annual VA check-up.  So much for The CHOICE Program. 

I watched an interesting program on OETA's America's Heartland, yesterday.  Been trying to find that episode on their website HERE, but have so far been unsuccessful.  Maybe they just don't have it published yet.  But it looks like there are many other interesting episodes to watch, if you choose to do so.  The episode I saw was about Fredrick Hess, a Large Animal Veterinarian and how there is a real shortage of them.  You know, I can see how this might be a lucrative field for a young person with interests in the area to get into.  When young people choose a field of study, looking to train themselves for their professional lives, they need to look into the future for what is going to be the most stable area.  Our food supply seems like it might be a pretty important thing to us in the future.  And if there is a shortage of Large Animal Vets already, that might be just the ticket, especially for a farm kid that's already had some exposure to farm animals or that's belonged to The Future Farmers of America through their public school system.  There was also a segment about the Wool Capital of the US being in Roswell, AZ, and a "Bee Barge" -- an actual barge that floats around the waterways in Apalachicola, FL, with active bee hives on it.  They get Tupelo Honey from these hives.  Looks like there's also a blog which is written by several individuals under the America's Heartland umbrella.  A piece about Dr. Hess was written by Yolanda Vazquez in 2008 and that is HERE.  It just doesn't go into quite the detail that the segment I saw did.

This is now Thursday.  We had quite a day yesterday.  50+-mile trip to Tulsa was not nearly as uncomfortable on the way down as it was on the way home.  We had an early appointment and because of that, there was not a long wait until we were ushered into a room, the nurse was pleasant and kind.  She took off the bandages and removed the staples that closed my incision.  Then she put on clean bandages.  She told me the incision looked "wonderful" and told me when I would be able to take the bandages off completely.  She asked me to show her how far I could bend my knee while in a seated position, and it was 90, I don't know if that's 90% or 90ยบ, but whichever, they were only shooting for 70 at this time and so she was pleased about that.  We set up my appointment to see Dr. Plaster in four more weeks.  They will take x-rays at that time.  According to the printed instructions I was given after surgery, I also needed an appointment three weeks out from surgery with the Physical Therapist, who will show me how to transition from the walker to a cane and will do some measurements and assessments and probably will give me different exercises than the ones I do three times a day now.  I will be using the cane for three weeks after that.  The Physical Therapy department was down a long hall and we walked down there to get that appointment set up.  And back.  I was also given a labwork request to take to the medical building across the street, so this required getting back into the truck and out again, negotiating a few stairs or a long ramp, and when I presented the form to the woman behind the window she found I had never been a patient in the medical group on whose database they are, and I had not brought my medical cards or identification.  I asked her if she could call Dr. Plaster's office and have them fax the information that she needed and she did that.  I was much relieved.  After a short wait while she input the information she needed, the blood sample was given and then I stopped off at the bathroom in preparation for the hour and 15 minutes during which I would be sitting in the truck, pointed towards home.  The bathroom was not very well outfitted, ergonomically, which was a surprise. 

I get my wheat from Holman Seed, in Collinsville, and that was only a short detour off to the west between Bartlesville and Tulsa, so we stopped off there.  By that point, I wasn't willing to get out and back into the truck one more time, but the nice young woman was nice enough to come out to the truck to talk to me.  Hubs said that we should've just gone straight home, but there is only a small period of time during which wheat seed can be bought.  I didn't want to have to worry that by the time we were out that way again, it would be gone for the year, because then I would be forced to buy organic wheat through the Food Co-Op and pay many times what this wheat costs.  The folks at Holman's told me last year that lots of people buy their hard wheat to make into flour, and so last year was the "trial period" for me.  It makes wonderful bread without all that adding of gluten and so on that I have to do with the organic wheat.  I was happy when we left there with enough wheat for our needs for the coming year.

But the rest of the trip was difficult, I was swelling and I couldn't move around much because the seatbelt had a deathgrip on me.  I was one relieved puppy when we pulled into our drive, went right to bed with the ice-pack, had a pain pill and a stool softener tablet, something for nausea and some yogurt and a nap.  It was a tough day.

I've had a good day today.  Even went up to the kitchen and mixed up bread for the coming week, Hubs did all the walking around stuff.  I had wanted some chicken soup yesterday in the worst way, but though Hubs found a container of frozen chicken broth, he could not find the chicken and noodles I'd put in the freezer and I just was not up to getting out of bed to look for it.  Today I opened the refrigerator - freezer door and there it sat, front and center, eye-level.  Bless Hubs' heart, he tries his best.  We had part of the watermelon Hubs brought in from the garden as our mid-morning snack, (watermelon is sooooo good for clearing out water retention) then chicken noodle soup and crackers for lunch, the last of the pears from our Asian pear tree as an afternoon snack, and we made tuna salad sandwich filling while we were in the kitchen today which will be eaten on newly-baked sandwich buns for supper.  I've done all but the last set of my exercises at this point and will take the last pain pill and stool softener for the day after I have supper.  Then Hubs will follow along behind me while I use the walker to get myself upstairs where I can have a shower (Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.......).  After that we'll settle into the bed and watch Big Brother, which is, by the way, spiraling downwards worse with every episode towards that horrible Vanessa being the winner, and I swear, if there's not some big surprise upheaval to make her go home, I will not watch Big Brother again.  Good grief, those poor kids have such poor negotiating skills, they are all just putty in Vanessa's hands.  I almost always don't like the person who wins but now and then I do and it's really fun to watch somebody that really needs the prize money coming out from the background where they haven't been thought much of a threat, and sending home the movers and shakers, one at a time.  But anyway, that will complete the day for us, pretty much.  We're asleep by 9 or 10 these days.  Sometimes I'm asleep sooner than that, but then I'm up and down a couple of times each night.  Looking forward to ditching this walker for a cane. 

What an exciting life we are having.

Oh, we got some rain this morning, and we've been having cool mornings, which is nice.  Hubs and I go out onto the patio and drink our coffee, listen to the birds wake up and watch the sun come up.

And that's about it for me this time, my knee is telling me I've sat in this chair long enough so it's time to go back to a prone position and some more ice.  Hubs is up in the living room, I can hear him snoring in his LaZBoy.  He is having LaZBoy Withdrawal.  Heh.  But I can make it to the bathroom with the walker, the ice packs are in the chest freezer right here in this room, and I can easily get myself back into bed nowadays.  I'll let him sleep.

Rocking on here, hope you're doing the same.  Hugs xoxoxo 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Surgery Week

A few posts ago, Fern over on Thoughts By Frank And Fern (on my sidebar) talked about how they look at things they have and see if they can think of other uses for them.  This reminds me of the old saying, "Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention".  And it also reminds me that I like to do that sort of thing, as well.  Before the City Fathers put the Recycling Drop-Off Center on lock-down, I gleaned many non-recyclable things out of the bins.  Generally, unwashed things are not recyclable.  Some of the things I would take home with me were plastic flowerpots, plastic toys with metal parts, plastic furniture, plastic buckets, and kitty litter jugs.  Once I even found a box of about 25 floppy disks, not recyclable because of the metal parts, and a box of perfectly good glass pint canning jars.  I would look for plastic Kraft mayonnaise jar lids, because they fit on quart canning jars and were good replacement lids for pickles and such after they were opened.  Metal lids tend to rust and get funny looking on the undersides when refrigerated on a jar with vinegars and salt in it.  I'd also watch for cottage cheese and yogurt containers, those red round Folgers tubs, and square gallon ice cream containers because I use them in the freezer.  I also use the Folgers coffee tubs in the garden, with their bottoms cut out, as protection for new plants in the garden.  They fit perfectly inside the bottom part of a small tomato cage.  When pressed down into the soil a little ways, they keep the water from running off before it can soak in.  And that lid is nice for if an unexpected cold night comes along.

And then one day we went to The Recycling Center and found that someone had unloaded an entire tree, cut into big chunks, on the lot near the dumpster that they left on the site for God knows what reason.  Certainly my time spent at the local Workshop for developmentally disabled folks, where there was a recycling center, taught me that you just don't leave an unattended dumpster on the parking lot.  People dump all kinds of things on you, from roofing shingles someone took off their roof, to nasty stained mattresses, and even, right after Thanksgiving, half a turkey carcass in a cardboard box.  Thrown, of course, in the bin where recyclable cardboard was supposed to go.  The things you see the public do at a recycling center is shameful.  If that doesn't make you wonder how anyone can be such a jerk, then consider this:  we got a surveillance camera and had it mounted at the end of the parking lot.  I actually saw a man pull down his pants and defecate off the edge of a low bin that was there for the collection of glass bottles.  It was actually funny, because I printed it off and gave it to our manager.  One of the job coaches who worked in the Thrift Shop thought he recognized the man, and the next time that man came in, he walked up to him and showed him the picture.  ".....Is this YOU?" he asked.  Of course he knew it was.  Well, funny isn't quite the right word.  It still just disgusts me.

But I digress.

So the City put an announcement in the paper about how the center was going to be "manned" from that point forward, without mention of the tree.  And they close the center on evenings and the weekend except for a few hours on Saturday morning.  Lots of people don't recycle anymore because it's inconvenient to try to catch them open, but I guess it's a trade off they had to make.  I don't go there to look for things anymore, even though most of what I took was what I knew they wound end up just having to dispose of because it wasn't washed or was the wrong kind of plastic, or had metal parts, or all of the above.

So, as the things I collected back then begin to degrade I have to think about how I'm going to replace the ones that just aren't useful anymore.  Hubs has the people at the Wellness Center saving Folger's cans for me.  Leroy, June, and one of our neighbors will save newspapers for me any time I say the word.  Spike and DDL save their empty kitty litter jugs and yogurt containers.  I've been buying yogurt for myself lately (Hubs doesn't like Yogurt) and I save those containers.  And most recently, when I started drinking Ensure (or actually the Walgreen's equivalent), I saved those bottles, too.  Didn't have the foggiest idea what I'd use them for, and so a couple of days ago I just piled them all into a bag and threw them in the trash.  Then today, I noticed the homemade Absorbine Jr. that I was keeping in a canning jar in the bathroom had been evaporating away.  That's when I thought about those little bottles.  So I dug them out of the trash.

Something else that evaporates away in a canning jar is herbal vinegar.

Not anymore!

Here I would caution you that if you are repurposing plastics, bear in mind that not all plastics are appropriate for food.  Some say none of them are and I leave that up to the individual.  And since plastics have a way of absorbing certain compounds in whatever's stored in them, I wouldn't store, for instance, weed killer or paint, in a bottle and then later on use it for something edible.  It's common sense but you never know what people might do, just not thinking, or as I sometimes call it, having an airhead attack.  Another thing is that these funny-shaped bottles probably aren't right for putting anything in that's going to have to be frozen, since things expand as they freeze. 

This is Monday, August 17, and the first day during which I have to wash my surgical leg with soap from a bottle the hospital provided to me, twice a day.  I did the first time this morning while I was getting dressed and I'll do the second one after I have my bath tonight.

This is a busy day, and yesterday was busy, too.  During yesterday's morning hours I mixed up another couple batches of bread.  I made sandwich buns out of one batch, and the second batch I spread out into the bottoms of 9" pie pans for individual pizzas.  I pre-baked those, just to the point of beginning to brown, and after they cooled I stacked them and popped them in the freezer.  And the sandwich buns, I just baked like always, packed them away in gallon zipper bags and froze them.  Science is weird and not at all what might be expected, as far as the outcome.  It strikes me as really odd that you can freeze bread and not change the texture at all.  But put it in the refrigerator and it turns all dry and crumbly inside.   Hubs and I each had a pizza for supper.

Also that morning, I simmered the last of the Elderberries I'd picked off the bushes in water, just to cover, got the container of Elderberry juice that wasn't enough for a canner load, last time, out of the freezer, and added the juice I strained the berries I had simmered.  But by then I was tuckered out from the day's doings so it went into the refrigerator for processing the next morning.  And this was the day for that.  I had enough, barely, for the full seven quart jars and I'm glad to have that finished.  

I'm getting caught up on the laundry and washing bedding today.  We have a 60% chance for rain tomorrow and Wednesday is surgery day.  So it's today or not at all.  We need the rain, so I hope it doesn't go around us.

This is now Sunday, August 22, and I will try to get posted today.

Surgery was on Wednesday at the Oklahoma Surgical Hospital, and I was disappointed that I didn't get the "minimally invasive" short incision.   My incision is about 8" long.  If I had waited to have this surgery till after I lost some more weight, I might've been able to get the shorter incision.  But I just didn't plan ahead very well and at the rate that weight loss is going, it would be another year.  I was told everything went well during the surgery and that the progress I made on the days afterwards was better than that of many of the other patients.  I didn't sleep much at all on the first night because the woman in the room across from mine had so many visitors and loud cell phone calls, 'way into the night.  It sounded like there was a party going on in there.  I guess she must've been at the top of the scale as far as progress after surgery because I didn't feel up to socializing that night AT ALL.  She was claustrophobic and therefore refused to close her door.  Friday was better because her pain block wore off by then and she started asking for more meds.  But the nursing staff was wonderful, just wonderful, so kind, competent and friendly, I really enjoyed getting to meet them and they took very good care of me.

I got to come home on Friday.  I go back to the surgeon's office in a few days to get the staples removed, and then not again, barring some emergency, for six weeks.    So I am on the home stretch and if all goes as we hope, I should be pretty much recovered by the time my six week follow-up happens.  Every day that passes is one day closer.  We had a good rain last night and today has been a long and boring day, but I have done my exercises and I take little short walks in the hall, with my walker.  They have the incision and bandage under waterproof tape, so I'm allowed to shower and tonight I will try to get upstairs to do that before too much longer.

Well, that's about it.  I will probably not have much to post about during the next few days as I will not be doing much of any interest.  Just laying around, doing exercises, taking walks to nowhere, and hoping for a good BM.  Y'all rock on, and Hubs and I will, too.  Hugs xoxoxo

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Visit Around The Kitchen Table

This post will be "eclectic", since I really don't have anything organized.  (Not that I ever AM very organized....)  It's one of those "Visits Around The Kitchen Table" where the subject gets changed randomly.

Recently I visited Grow Your Own Groceries (link on my sidebar) and read the article submitted by Nikki King called "Creatively Eating What You Normally Throw Away".  I found it very interesting but I would caution others that there are some things that shouldn't be eaten, such as the leaves of tomato plants and rhubarb.  Probably there are a lot of other things.  Just research it before you consume it, is what I'm saying.  Of course I've made Corn Cob Jam and Watermelon Rind Pickles and Preserves before, but since Hubs doesn't like sweet pickles or jam made out of unusual stuff, and I shouldn't really have all that sugar called for in both recipes, there's only so much stuff like that that I can make into jam before I have to start finding creative ways to use the jam.  Which kind of defeats the purpose.  Mostly, when I have jam that hasn't been very well received, I will just use it, cup for cup, in muffins or coffee cakes, instead of the sugar called for.

This article mentioned using watermelon rind in a dish called "Sabzi", but it called for ingredients I don't normally keep in my pantry, and it's probably too spicy to serve to Hubs.  But I did a little dinking around on the Internet and HERE is an All-Recipes submission for Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry.  Next time I have watermelon rind, I think I'll just add some to my standard stir-fry recipe and see how it goes.  I should mention here that for any recipe that calls for watermelon rind, what you use is the white part.  If there's any pink left on it, that's ok, but you just don't want any of the green.  And the skin is, of course, tough and bitter.  The white part of the rind probably should be pre-cooked before adding to the stir-fry, as it's pretty crunchy.  I would also think that it could be shredded or julienne-cut and added, raw or cooked, to other fruits (for instance, in fruit cocktail, applesauce, or gelatin fruit salads).   When using watermelon rind in recipes, I think the key is to cut the pieces small, maybe in little cubes, if not shredding or julienning.  That picture All-Recipes has posted on the recipe shows them in long, fat pieces and I found that pretty unappetizing when I cut them like that for preserves last time I made them.  I ended up putting the preserves in the food processor and chopping the pieces up finer, but then the mouth-feel was grainy, and I didn't really care for that, either. 

Apparently there's a new law in England about how cookies are delivered and so there will be a banner of sorts that will appear on everybody's blog, at least the ones through Blogger, I don't know about the others, that says something about how there are tracking cookies and do you want to allow them or not.  I've seen the one that shows up on my blog and if I didn't know what was going on I think I'd have a concern that the blog in question was, for some reason, not safe anymore.  I don't knowingly track anybody but I imagine when you Follow they have to track you somehow so they know to send you an e-mail whenever a new post has been published.  It just seems like, every time something is invented to be something good, there's always some faction that comes along and uses it for evil, and then they have to start building safeguards into it that make it inconvenient for those that were originally using it, and sometimes not even making things any better.  I enjoy blogging, it's a way for me to keep up with some people that I don't normally ever see and hardly ever hear from otherwise.  It's also a way for me to get my thoughts organized and to chronicle some of the things we do around here for my own information.  But if it gets to the point where reading blogs gets just downright risky, I'll just start keeping a journal, like in The Good Old Days, and stop blogging altogether.

I saw on the news where people are starting to complain about Windows10.  Has there ever been a Windows upgrade that wasn't released before all the "bugs" were worked out?  Maybe, but I don't think so.  I remember when XP was released and people hated it.  I didn't convert until I bought the grandsons some of those little music thumb drives that wouldn't work on XP.  I got so I really liked XP after that, but by then all the "bugs" had been dealt with and everything went pretty smooth.  Now there's a commercial full of babies and they're saying how they'll grow up with Windows 10 and how much better things'll be for them.  Oh, really now.  Has ANY version of Windows been around long enough to watch a baby grow up?  .....Let's see....  It was just plain "Windows" when my grandsons were born, and there was a whole host of new versions after that.  It was XP by the time they were 15 and there have been several generations (of Windows) since then.  So good luck with that, if anyone thinks Windows 10 is going to be around any longer than any of the other versions were.

Hubs and I have been watching Big Brother on TV this season.  We used to never miss it, and I enjoyed it because it was a study into human behavior.  But somewhere along the way I got disgusted about something, I don't remember just what it was, and this is the first time we've watched in a long time.  They always have a gay person and a black person and they used to have an old person but this time they're all in their 20's, I think.  A lot of it has reminded me of some of the crap that went on amongst the highschool crowd when I was young.  And truly, these kids are just not very good with strategy.  This time a couple of the guys have gotten the hots for a couple of the girls and they just plain have forgotten they're playing a game for half a million dollars.  Instead they are thinking below the waist, if you know what I mean.  Last night, they sent Jackie home, and she didn't deserve to go.  That weird-looking wrestler put a bug in the little Engineer's ear that she was trying to get rid of him and he got paranoid (moreso than usual) and panicked during one of those "extra" things where they send two people home during a show instead of one.  Because of the rush, she didn't get a chance to make her case or to confront the wrestler about his out-and-out lie.  I think he and his sweetie and her twin and the gal that's been causing trouble, all the way through the game so far, plan to be the last ones out of the house and if that happens, I'm losing interest because I just don't give a rat's a$$ about any of them.  Maybe Jackie will be the one who gets to come back out of what they call "The Jury House" at a later time and that'd be fun to watch.  But it was a blown chance for her team to get rid of the wrestler this time, or his sweetie, in which case he'd send HIMSELF out of the house right after that just so he could be with her, or the girl who's been causing so much trouble in the house and that's what I mean about most of the houseguests not knowing how to strategize.  Even the wrestler getting Jackie sent home was not the best he could've done for his game, er, his sweetie's game, and she probably asked him to do that.  They got the other team to send someone home off their own team and left themselves less in number than the other team.  That never turns out well.  If it gets down to the twin choosing between her sister and the wrestler, I wonder what she'll do.

I'm getting to the point where sometimes I enjoy the commercials on TV more than the programs.  HERE's one by Beneful that I think is cute.   This is proof that the folks who write commercials REALLY CAN advertise to us and do it in a way that is not boring and annoying.  Wish some of those other folks would get on board.  Maybe they could get a dog to say, "I used to be an addict, NOW I'm NOT."  Gag.

We drove to Tulsa last week and I did my pre-op stuff at the surgeon's office and then at the hospital where the surgery will be done.  My vital signs were good, at least the ones that they could get a reading on right away.  At the hospital they got all their "fluid samples" for lab tests.  While we were in Tulsa we stopped at Sam's and got a few things, and we ate lunch at WhattaBurger.  I wanted to try their Cheese and Jalapeno Burger, and it was good, but all it amounted to was their regular WhattaBurger with mustard, onion, pickles, peppers and cheese.  It only took three hours for those Jalapenos to work their way through my system.  Don't ask how I know.

I don't know if I can keep on track with this surgery or not.  They tell me they will cancel surgery if there's even so much as a mosquito bite on my leg.  I bought some "Off" mosquito spray, I always have mosquito bites and chigger bites on my legs and ankles.  I had originally planned to put off surgery till after the first frost so I could be totally done with the garden, and maybe I'll be forced to do that because of the mosquitoes and chiggers.  So many people talking about something bad happening in September, that's the only reason I didn't plan it for later, anyway.  I'll take all the precautions I can and leave it in God's hands.  I'm really glad they're as cautious as they are, and I won't complain if they cancel my surgery, even though it'll be wasted prep and a wasted trip to Tulsa.  I'd rather be on the safe side and not come home with a staph infection.  I bought some of those little bottles of Ensure and I've been drinking one every day.  It's a Flashback, for sure, they taste JUST LIKE I remember Metrecal tasting in 1963, except Metrecal came in a can and there was about four times more of it.  In the vanilla I can really taste brewer's yeast.  But mostly it's a canned milk taste.  At least it's not nasty.  Back then, you were supposed to drink one can for breakfast and one for lunch, and then have a light supper.  My commerce teacher in high school was a large woman and she drank one for lunch WITH HER SANDWICH.  We all kinda giggled about that, not sure she understood fully how they were supposed to be used.

I've developed a rash on my face along the sides of my nose and in the corner creases of my mouth.  I don't know if it's enough to make them cancel my surgery or not.  I tried to get in to see the dermatologist but their schedule is too far out, and they wouldn't accommodate me with an earlier appointment without a call from the surgeon's office.  So I'm treating it myself, I'm going to stop the Ensure and just get a bottle of good vitamins.  I might have a food allergy to soy.  Or it could be nerves, I've been kind of jangled this week.  I sent an email to the surgeon's office and if they don't answer me by Monday I'll call.  In the meantime, I'll discontinue the Ensure and maybe the rash will be gone by Monday.

I was thinking about how I'd run the store if I owned a commercial greenhouse as I put on my garden gloves this morning.  One of the things I'd do would be to break open the packages of gardening gloves and sell them singly.  So if you were right-handed, you could buy two right-hand gloves and one left one.  And vice-versa for you lefties out there.  It just makes sense.  It's not likely I'll ever own a commercial greenhouse so I just have to be content with breaking open a new package of gloves, storing away the right-hand glove for next time, then turning the new left-hand glove wrong-side-out, and wearing it with the left glove from my old pair.  Not very pretty, not workable for some styles, but good enough for the type I wear.  I haven't been very good about wearing gloves in the past but I like those with Nitrile-coated palms and fingertips, they don't get in your way and they last longer than cotton or the brown jersey ones do.  I used to favor those brown ones, I liked how they felt on.   For heavier jobs, I get those that have leather palms and fingertips.  They're good for when you have to handle rock, or something with thorns.  But I don't like the fit very well.  Some of the fingers are too long and tend to fill with dirt.  Every now and then I have to poke something in the fingertips to get the dirt out.  And there's no turning these wrong-side-out.  The only thing you can do is cut off the fingers of the old left glove that aren't worn through and they can be saved, then sewn on to replace the fingers on the NEXT right glove that you wear out.  That's a winter project, I guess, if you can keep your worn gloves out of the trash that long.

Something else I'd do if I owned a commercial greenhouse is I'd pay attention to the odd-ball things people ask for and then I'd research it and do an in-store class on it after I'd put in a supply.  Customers could learn how to use something and then buy.  What would I start with here in Bartlesville?  Bee-Keeping equipment and supplies.  Diatomaceous Earth.  Worm Castings.  Tanglefoot in a container like caulk comes in.  Milky Spore to kill Japanese Beetle larvae.  Hummingbird feeders that don't swing in the wind.  Copper spray for when the rains come and won't go away.  Heat and moisture equals fungus in Oklahoma.  I'd have a big herb department with plants (or at least seeds) of a large variety of medicinal plants as well as the standard culinary plants.  And I'd have a section of plants or seeds people could grow that would help feed their chickens.  I'd have a large area where people could bring their leaves, wood chips and grass clippings and I'd sell compost for only what it cost to make.  Bartlesville merchants wonder why people who live here go somewhere else to spend their money.  It's because no one carries what they want, that's why, and because no one thinks outside of the box.  Shouldn't be that hard to figure out.

While I'm on the subject of compost, I'd like you to see mine.
This will need to be screened before I use it for seed starting.  What's too big to fall through the screen will go back into the compost pile.  I filled three totes and six 40-pound chicken-feed bags.  Hubs brought them up to the driveway in front of the garage for me where they will be convenient for me to use this spring.  Till then, I'll keep them slightly damp so that things will continue to break down. 

This was around the edges.  Seems like what's on the edges NEVER composts.

This is the only bin left that has anything in it.  It won't be ready till next year.

Some of the coarser stuff, I used in my Thanksgiving Potato totes.

Ten potatoes in each of two totes, with room for adding more compost if/when it's needed.  They've been in a paper sack in the refrigerator crisper for a couple months now.  I hope that'll serve for the chilling process.  Maybe they didn't even need it, I don't know.  Maybe the potatoes I grew last spring will still have enough oooomph left by this coming spring to be used as seed potatoes and maybe fall planting to get seed potatoes for spring isn't even necessary.  Flying blind in the experimentation process here.  HERE is the post when I first dug them with some links that gave me the idea to plant potatoes for Thanksgiving in totes.

Last spring, I changed how I managed my compost bins.  I began burying my kitchen waste directly into the garden so as to attract and feed more earthworms.  I burn Bermuda grass and woody garden waste (twigs, branches, etc.) in the burn barrel.  Wood ash increases soil alkalinity so you want to be careful about putting it in the garden.  But you can spread it where you don't want things to grow, like in pathways or along fences or in the spaces between rock or brick pathways.  Remember that it may leech out into nearby borders, so be mindful of that.  What I put in my compost bins are just weeds.  I've said before, "It's a shame you can't eat weeds", but you can, in a way.  You can make some really nice compost out of them, and eat the stuff that grows in it.  Is that close enough?  Granted, it probably has a lot of weed seeds and insect eggs in it, but I plan to use this for my seed-starting this coming spring, and I always bake the soil that I use in the mix.  My mix is equal parts compost, peat, and vermiculite.  I don't put Bermuda grass in the bins.  It starts growing roots and doesn't contribute much in the way of compostable material.  So I just throw it in the burn barrel, or Hubs takes it out on our land where it's bare, runs the mower over it a few times, and before you know it, that spot's not bare anymore.  For all it's obvious faults, Bermuda is great at erosion control. 

My compost bins are just made of wooden pallets.  But I think I will construct an extra-wide round wire fence "tomato cage" and set it further out in the garden and start filling it instead.  We have a neighbor that uses wooden pallets as firewood.  Our other neighbors kinds of giggle about that, but really, what's wrong with it?  It's oak, which is good firewood.  He sifts the nails out of the ashes and disposes of them.  It's especially a really good use for pallets that are broken or old.  Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, Or Do Without.  If we don't burn our compost bins in our fireplace insert, we'll give them to Bob.  Oh, my gosh, I just thought, since we got our new neighbors on the corner, we now have three men out here whose names are Bob.  And two men named Charles.  From just thirteeen households.  Go figure.

That "squash" that came up amongst the tomatoes, that I thought might be a dormant seed from the Pink Banana squash I planted last year, is a GOURD.

Since I have never planted this variety, and the seeds, though teardrop shaped, are too big for a bird to "plant", I'm thinking the seed came over in some of those leaves we collected last year.  The vine wilted and collapsed and I cut into the largest of the fruits that hung from the vine.  I'll be disposing of this in the burn barrel as I don't want to grow these.  The fruit in this picture was about the size of a mature cucumber, though shorter.

The pears are ripening on the Oriental pear tree now.
We love these.  So crisp and sweet.  About baseball size.  This was a Stark's Two-In-One, and the grafts died after the move in 2010, followed by two summers of drought and intense heat.  This tree is about six years old.

I picked these off a broken branch of the pear tree that I bought at in 2010.  Totally green, might ripen if I wrap them in newspaper.  Thinking instead of coring and shredding them for juice.  There are still more on the tree.

If you have limited space and can only grow a few plants for fruit, I recommend pear trees for sheer tolerance of neglect. 

This is what the morning harvest provides these days:
Peppers will start going gangbusters when the cooler weather arrives.

This is now Friday and I will try to post today.  I've been pretty busy today.  I took the last of the apple slices out of the freezer and juiced them.  This freed up space to store the flour that I milled from the last of the wheat berries.   Since I started using from this latest acquisition of wheat berries, I am getting a better rise and either this fact, or the facts that I shared with Hubs about how little actual whole grain is in "Wheat Bread", or both, has convinced Hubs to quit buying bread and eat what I bake, instead.  That "Wheat Bread" at the store is not a good value, being as how it's just so many empty calories and caramel color.  But this means I'm baking more often.  I'll be running out of whole wheat flour soon but the timing is good because the wheat berries can only be bought in the fall.

I also decided to follow Sue's lead over on her blog and can up some Hamburger Mix and some chicken breasts.  I'm thinking ahead to winter, and winter storms sometimes leave us without electricity.  So having something on the pantry shelves that can just be opened up and eaten would come in pretty handy during those times.  Plus, on somebody's blog, a Commenter mentioned that they had bought a Camp Chef butane camp stove and said that they keep it for when the power goes out.  I looked it up on Amazon and it is quite reasonable in price.  People say they use theirs inside their house and I don't know if I would be that brave.  I might be ok with using it out in the garage, though.  With no electricity, we can't even make coffee here.

But anyway, today I got my Hamburger Mix made and it's sitting in The Maslin Pan in the refrigerator now, as are some partially-thawed chicken breasts.  It was all just more than I could do today.  I'll do the canning tomorrow morning.

Tonight we're having pork chops, fried okra, and baked sweet potato fries for supper.   And then I'm done being Little Suzy Housewife for the day. 

This is now Saturday morning and I will try to get posted today.  The pressure canner AND the pressure cooker are hissing softly out in the garage and I'm in the cool house, not far from the door, with my timer fastened to my shirt.

This is the first time I've used my three-piece rocker gauge that I bought on Amazon awhile ago.  Totally assembled, it keeps the canner at 15 pounds pressure.  Take off a ring for 10.  And another for 5.  Gotta tell ya, we are all never too old or too smart to learn something new.  Did you know that I never even KNEW there was such a thing as a rocker pressure regulator?  Mom's canner had a dial, and so did the canner that my little old lady friends used.  They had gas cookstoves, so they spent the entire time they were canning in their kitchens, watching the gauge, turning the heat up and down, what a PAIN!  One of my Little Old Lady Friends had a husband that didn't live with them, but he'd come over on canning day, put a chair in front of the stove, and watch the pressure while the women prepared the next batch to go in the canner.

When we moved here, I was perplexed about how I would can, and I was thinking along the lines of getting a stove that was calibrated for propane and put it out in the garage.  I never did act on it, as, at that point, I was mostly freezing things or doing water bath, and I could do that fine with what equipment I had.  And then I went to a garage sale and found a canner there that had a rocker gauge.  "What in the WORLD is this thing, and WHERE's THE GAUGE?"  I asked.  And then I was educated.  I paid for the canner and OMG, I can't believe that I didn't know about this.  It makes canning sooooooo easy.

It took me a little while to get the hang of how to know when the pressure was where it was supposed to be.  All over the Internet, they say the rocker is supposed to "clink", and it's, like, so many seconds between clinks.  Well, my rocker never clinked.  It hissed to beat the band.  But no clinking.  So whenever I'd see somebody's blog where they posted about the clinking I'd comment about how I couldn't get my rocker to clink and nine times out of ten they just wouldn't even respond to me, like they thought I was one of those rude people who surfs the internet trying to find people they can pick a fight with.  I wasn't trying to call them a liar, I was seeking information and help.  And then, all by myself, I caught on to the fact that you can use a rocker gauge instead of the petcock on a canner that has the gauge, and you can satisfy yourself that the pressure stays where you want it by looking at the gauge every now and then.  So I did that.  And my rocker pressure regulator DOES just hiss and otherwise quietly rocks from side to side.  Crazily, if the heat is on too high.   They say you want to turn the heat down so as to not waste fuel, and I think this is just fine, and I do turn the heat down to about the first notch lower from Medium.  But I don't want to risk going too low and mess up whatever's in the canner, so I stick with that.  What little fuel I waste, if any, is worth avoiding a bad case of botulism.

But this little rocker, the one that has rings on it that will come off so you can pressure can at pressures less than 15 pounds, which is what the standard rocker gauge is, is one of the best things since sliced bread in my book.  Then it's just a waiting game, and I can do other things in other rooms if I want.  When I think about how I spent soooooo much time in front of my canner's pressure gauge, during most of my adult life, fiddling with the level of the flame till I found "the sweet spot", I am just appalled.

I still have one question that has yet to be answered, and that is, what do you do when you're pressure canning on an electric burner, and your time's up?  Do you just turn off the burner, and let everything cool down naturally, even though an electric burner stays hotter longer than a gas burner does when the fire's just been turned off?  Or do you cut back the pressuring time by, say, five minutes or so, to allow for the slow cooling of the electric burner and the bottom of the canner that's on it, and leave it in place?  If anyone can physically pick up their canner and set it on a cool burner, I'd like to know how THAT's done, because I tried that once and I had terrible siphoning from the movement while the jars were still under pressure.   Plus it seems like a real impressive accident waiting to happen to me.  So if anyone knows the answer to that one, I'd sure appreciate it if you'd say so in the comments.  Today, while I was canning chicken, I just eased the canner off the hot spot (it's a glass top range), slowly and carefully, but the gauge showed me falling of pressure immediately and a lot faster than I was comfortable with.  I'll be opening the canner when the pressure's all the way down, and after I wait ten minutes more, and all that.  I sure hope I don't hate what I see.

OK, this is later, the chicken is out of the canner and it looks pretty good.

I didn't have any siphoning that I can tell, the water in the canner was not sullied.  The liquid in the jars was still bubbling so I left them sitting in the canner with the lid off for about ten MORE minutes before I lifted them off onto newspaper, and as you can see, there's no telltale ring on the paper around the jars to indicate siphoning.  I always wait 10 minutes after there's no steam coming out when I lift off the pressure rocker, then I take my canning lid off the canner but if I see lots of bubbling inside the jars I just leave the jars undisturbed for ten minutes more, with the canner lid off.  When I was canning in an air-conditioned kitchen I seemed to have a lot more problems with siphoning than I do now, and I think temperature differences can contribute to siphoning.  There are lots of reasons for siphoning.  Not leaving enough head space, not letting out all the air pockets before putting on the lid, having the band screwed down too tight, not letting off steam for the full ten minutes before building pressure, fluctuations in pressure, not letting pressure come down naturally..... all these things contribute.  Maybe even if they don't like the look on your face.  So smile purty.

I had my hamburger mix bubbling in the Maslin pan and I got eight pints into the canner with five pints left over, that I packed into freezer containers.  Mmmm, it is yummy.  I could eat it right out of the jar with a spoon.  But I have had enough canning fun for today.
I did have a little tomato color in the water this time, which indicates a small amount of siphoning.  Maybe I can tell which jar when I take off the bands and wipe down the jars.

Sue's recipe for Canning Hamburger Mix is HERE.  And the recipe I used for the chicken breasts is a simple one that I saw in the Comment section of Sue's post on canned chicken breast HERE.  The woman's name who gave the recipe for raw pack is Lenoria.  I didn't have but three packages of chicken breast on hand, and that wasn't enough for a canner load.  So I thawed out a big package of thighs, skinned and deboned them, and filled some of the jars with those.  I see myself using those for casseroles.  I used wide-mouth pints for both projects.  I had scraps and bones and two thighs left after I packed the jars, so I just cooked them in my 6-qt pressure cooker and we will have chicken and noodles tonight for supper.

Hubs talked to the pharmacist at Walgreens and asked for a recommendation for a good once-daily vitamin that might be helpful in preparing for, and healing up after, surgery, and came home with Centrum Silver.  It was about $12 for 125 capsules.  I went looking on the Internet and there is a good alternative in the Kirkland Signature Adult 50+ Mature Multi.  If that ain't a mouthful, I don't know what is.  It got really high ratings and some people say Consumer's Report has a favorable opinion about it.  It's 400 tablets for $14.50 and free shipping.  Just so ya know.  It has Lutein in it, and zinc, and all the same stuff Centrum Silver has.

We've had a couple of really nice low-humidity days, such that Hubs and I have sat out on the patio in the early mornings and watched the sun come up.  We saw a meteor shower one morning.  A hoot-owl has been serenading us.  And our little Wolf spider greets us every morning with a new web right in front of the sliding door.   But the low humidity has been hard on the garden. 

We've been seeing lots of butterflies:  black ones with blue markings, the yellow ones I think are called Sulphurs?  Some orange ones that look like the Gulf Fritillary.  We have them every year, Maypop grows out here and it is their host plant.  Now and then I see something I think is a Monarch, but I don't see it up close enough to know for sure.  The Milkweed that grows in the herb garden is starting to bloom.  Funny, it seems like the Monarch prefers her larvae to be on Dillweed and doesn't bother the Milkweed.  What's up with that?  We still just have the three hummingbirds.  One is acting strangely:  falling backwards or forwards and hanging onto the perch of the feeder by its feet.  I wonder if it's sick.  We've never seen any of them act like that before. 

It's now or never for Elderberries.  At least here in zone 6a.

Not much else is going on.   Just putting one foot in front of the other.  I hope all is well with all of you.  Rock on....  Hugs xoxoxo

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Losing Weight Safely On Your Own

I didn't want to announce anything on the blog till I had a little success, but I'm here now to say I've lost twenty pounds since the last week of February.  This was my first goal and my second goal is twenty pounds more.  I plan to go in increments of 20, not looking any further than that, until I get to what is a healthy weight for me, which will be at least three 20-pound increments.  So celebrate with me!  One-third of the way there!  It has been a rough ride, these past few years, what with heel spur surgery, then an arthroscopy to repair a torn meniscus, then cataract removal and a vitrectomy to correct macular pucker, and now, soon, total knee surgery.  I just haven't been able to get around very well for quite awhile, but I guess, considering my age, things could be worse.  It was a colder and wetter spring than usual and now it's hot and humid and not good for me to be out in it.  I find myself captive in the house much more than is helpful to me--in more ways than one.  I tend to spend the time in front of my computer but I'm having to do less of that now that my back has reminded me it doesn't like to sit.  Another project would be in order if it wasn't for the fact that I'm going to be recovering from the knee surgery soon.  So I'm "hanging in and hanging on", doing what I can do, and I let what's left go to hell in a hand-basket.
Some of you will remember this photo from a couple years ago, when I had my chickens.

Losing weight is hardest at first, because you can't see much progress except for on the scales till after you've lost the first 20 pounds.  It's most common to lose momentum during this period of time.  Diets are sooooo restrictive.  You can't eat ANYTHING that you really like, and you have to choke down things that aren't enjoyable and aren't satisfying, to the point where you start counting the days till you can go back to the way you USED to eat, and you don't think about the fact that you can never, really, go back to the way you ate before, or the pounds will come packing right back on because, after all, that's how you got overweight in the first place.  As someone we knew earlier said, while she was trying to lose weight, "If it tastes good, SPIT IT OUT!"  This is the kind of diet that does more harm to your quality of life and your health than it does good, and when there is failure, it's such a blow to your sense of self worth.  Plus you lose the respect of people you know every time you gain back weight you struggled so hard to lose.  So I am saying to you, DO NOT DIET.  Just make sensible choices, accept that you will lose weight slowly, accept that no one will notice for a long time.  It's a little secret that you can keep, and smile, like Mona Lisa.  Most people don't look at other people very closely.  I mean, it's rude to stare, right?  So they kind of "lock in" what you look like to them and it takes not seeing you for awhile, or seeing you after an illness, or something like that, for them to notice anything's different about you.  It was that way with me and my parents.  They were "in their 50's" in my mind's eye for years and years.  And then Dad had a heart attack and suddenly they were both old.  Very old.

But anyway, eventually you won't be able to hide your weight loss.  Then they will be shocked, I say SHOCKED, at how "fast" you lost that weight right under their noses and they never had a clue.  Sometimes they will say, "Have YOU been SICK???"  Heh.  But truly, we don't need to care when nobody notices, though it always seems to give us a little boost when they do.  We're not doing it for THEM, are we?  My dear friends, we are not "on a diet".  We are Changing Our Lifestyle and Eating Sensibly.  

Please understand that you have a few obstacles in your way, and be mentally prepared.

I'll let you in on a secret:  There are many, many, mixed signals out there, the worst of which are all those businesses that thrive on people who need to lose weight.  They are the most insidious of all because your failure to lose weight, in such a way that you can keep it off, is their bread and butter.  And yes, I chose the word  insidious on purpose, knowing full well the meaning.   

The weight-loss industry NEEDS you to lose weight so you can walk around and tell everyone just HOW you lost it.  They hire well-known people -- sports figures, actresses, comedians, singers -- that need to lose weight.  "I've lost FIFTY pounds IN JUST FOUR MONTHS!" they have them say.  They put the women in swimsuits and show them how to stand, shoulders back and the butt as far away from the camera as it'll go, so the hips will look smaller.  And how to put the hands on the hips so the arm-flab won't show.  Or how to sit with legs crossed at the ankles.  Or in tight black clothes.  Or two-tone "optical illusion clothes".  If they just naturally have big hips and big legs, they put them in a gown with a tight waist and a full skirt.  There are lots of little "photography tricks" to make people look thinner, that if they'd used those in the "before" picture, they wouldn't have looked nearly so bad.  And they make it sound like those people are done now.  The dirty little secret is that they have just begun the struggle, because now they must keep this weight off, and it's harder because they weigh less and thus everything they do burns less calories than it did when they weighed more.  Most average people, when they lose weight in these programs, leave the program after that.  Because, well, it's expensive and somewhat time-consuming.  Know this: studies have shown that 80% of the people who leave their weight loss program after they have reached their goal gain their weight back.  So when people stand up there on television and announce to the world that they have reached their goal with whatever product they've been using, and how very happy they are, just be aware that those people have to be "on the maintenance program" for years and years.  They are closely monitored, and if they gain any weight back, they are dropped from the advertising campaign unless they get busy and lose it again before the next commercial is filmed.

The really sad thing is that, in our society, if you're overweight you're somewhat less, socially, than people who are not.  When you lose weight and crow about it because you're so happy, all the people who knew you when you were fat just kind of groan.  They say, "Oh, give her three months, she'll be fat again."  And when that happens, they'll be smug and they'll snicker to each other, or they'll go "Tsk, tsk," and feel sorry for you.  Depends on whether they're decent people or not.  It's just not fair to ridicule someone because they've gained weight back that they lost.  At least they tried.  It's just that they lost it too fast, it threw the body into "survival mode", and as soon as they went off the program their appestat went into high gear and their metabolism was still stuck on "low".  There are worse things in the human element than being obese and one of them is hateful, because hateful people never recognize their own faults.

People can be so cruel.  They want to think that the obese person is weak and gluttonous.  They treat obese people with such disdain, contempt and derision that it's as if they don't even have any faults themselves. That really hacks me off.  How 'bout that big ol' honkin' nose that everybody's too polite to mention?  There was a boy that used to follow me around in grade school and call me names.  He thought he was so cute.  Nobody ever told him that he wasn't, because his parents were among our little town's "elite", and his father was on the school board.  How often I have wished I had pointed out to him what a big nose he had, or those Dumbo ears that were flappin' around on both sides of his head.  As long as I live, I will be able to see his idiotic stupid face stickin' into mine, with that big ol' wide smile across his face because he thinks he's made a big funny, and I always wish I'd just reached out and grabbed him by those big ol' ears and jerked him around some. 

Something else that hacks me off is when the news industry reports how high a percentage of people in our country are obese.  And they go around photographing obese people walking, with their hind-end galumping and their belly aprons hanging down nearly to their knees.  Since they're not showing the faces, you KNOW full well that they don't have permission to film them.  Just so everybody knows, I KNOW what my hind end looks like and if I ever see it on TV, I'm gonna be calling someone.  You can be recognized by your friends, co-workers and family when they see your body and your clothes, but not your face.  There's a lot of discussion now about how publicly embarrassing a person constitutes "bullying".  How is this any different?  I believe there's a lawsuit to be had in there somewhere.  I just hate to see them do that to people, like we're all de-personalized because we're obese.  We don't have feelings anymore.  If we get embarrassed by what they say and do to us, well, we deserve it, don't we.  (sarcasm)  News reporters do a lot of stupid things with the camera that they shouldn't do.  Ever notice how, when somebody gets hit by a car, they throw a pair of shoes out there on the road and take a picture of it?  Some reporters must carry shoes in their cars just for that purpose.  This stems from an accident that happened 'way back in the 60's when a car hit a boy so hard that the impact knocked off his shoes and the image of the shoes laying there was a very graphic one.  Now it's overdone.  And it's become almost obscene.

But I digress.

A lot of people don't think about this, but the fact that most Americans are overweight is a cash cow for almost all American industries and businesses. Anybody in the business of food preparation is dependent on people who are willing and able to consume large amounts regularly. The cost of the food is only a small percentage of what you are paying for in a restaurant. So it doesn't cost them much extra to pile the food on your plate. They know you love the carbs, and that's why you always get more fries than two people could eat. This trains you to “have a big appetite”, and you keep going back because you think you're “getting your money's worth”. What we refer to as food, those concoctions in boxes and bottles at the grocery store, contain additives that we can't pronounce, and almost everything contains corn syrup or some other ingredient that makes it taste sweet. Many of the artificial ingredients that are added to grocery-store food are unnecessary unless your business depends on people coming back to you with cravings and big appetites.

Everyone in the line from the food producer, through the manufacturer, the container maker, the storage facility, the shipper, the advertiser, the retail supplier, and the garbage collector have a stake in the state of our gluttonous habits. Then come the doctors who say to you that you need to lose weight, as if it's easy and all, yet you can tell they don't really expect that you will do it.  It's an easy out, though.  Got back pain?  Well, they say, it's because you're lugging around that big stomach.  And they don't even bother to take it further because, well, if you want to feel better, JUST LOSE WEIGHT.  And then they just treat you like you deserve whatever it is you're having to deal with.  You waddle away in shame and they collect their office visit fee and don't give a rat's a$$ what happens to you.  Maybe you've got cancer and it's chewing on your insides.  But they won't be diagnosing that because, well, you're too fat, THAT's your problem.  It's almost like an obese person's life is not worth saving.

Then there are the doctors who perform surgery on your joints, your back, your feet. The ones who treat you for diabetes, GERD, hernias and pain. The sellers of shoe inserts and the developers, producers, advertisers and marketers of drugs, which is a multi-gazillion-dollar business of it's own. You experience side-effects and there are more doctors ready to treat you for that, and attorneys to sue someone if that doesn't work, and so many times, it hasn't been adequately tested because, well, they're going to let US do that for them. Then there are the workout centers, the developers, manufacturers, transporters, advertisers and retailers of diet products. There are books and DVD's and all sorts of equipment, all promising results in a new, breakthrough way. So you find something, and it doesn't always work, but let's just say you keep spending your money till you find something that does. The clothing industry, designers, manufacturers, transporters, advertisers, and retailers, benefit every time you can get into a smaller size, and you are so glad to not be in that size you just vacated that you donate or sell, for pennies on the dollar, all of them, because of course you're never going to be that size again, right?  The non-profit organizations, or people who will sell on commission for you, benefit from receiving your “fat clothing”. They all want you to reach your goal weight, because the fatter you are, the more sizes you will wear, and therefore the longer this can go on.  Then once you reach your goal and stop concentrating all your money and effort to the maintenance of your new size, you gain weight back because of course you are without a crutch to lean on.   And now all your fat clothes are gone.  People tend not to donate clothing that is too small, unless they've had them for a long time and have given up on ever being able to be that size again. So you invest in storage for your skinny clothes.  The designers, manufacturers, transporters, advertisers and retailers of such products depend on the fact that you are going to accumulate maybe as many as six complete wardrobes in different sizes. Then, if you don't get back into the routine that helped you to lose weight before, and, who knows, maybe the second time around it won't work so well, you're buying all new clothing in progressively bigger sizes, and those 2X and 3X outfits are more expensive than the “average” sizes.

And let me just say that those TV programs like "Recipe Rehab" are interesting, but they are right there in the chain, getting you to buy all those special ingredients they use and to go to all that work just for one meal, which they know you probably won't do routinely, but they've gotten you to go to the store, right?  They do seem to be a little behind the times in throwing away the egg yolk, as the egg yolk has GOOD fats and not BAD.  But you'll use more eggs that way because you're throwing away the yolks.  And hey.  They've earned a paycheck for doing what they did.  So I guess all is not lost, except it didn't benefit the people it was supposedly aimed at, if you know what I mean.  I guess it lets them go to bed happy, thinking they have made somebody's life better by showing them how to make fattening foods less so by using more expensive ingredients.  In truth, most people aren't going to do this on an ongoing basis.  Maybe you can pick up an idea or two from some of these programs.  But it's kinda like finding one M&M in a bowlful of pebbles, if you'll pardon the analogy.  After this show is over you better change the channel fast, because it's Guy Fiero with Diners, Dives and whatever, and those folks are trying to cram as much fat, salt and sugar into everything as they can.  So there ya go.

It's just so much better to zero in on simple things you like that are not bad for you.   Eventually you find things that are quick to put together and satisfying.  I like yogurt.  Just enough honey or some homemade fruit jam to make it a little sweet, and about a tablespoon of chopped walnuts or almonds.  I like baked sweet potato french fries.  Sometimes I make popcorn in coconut oil.  No butter, just a little salt.

But did you ever think that maybe the reason why our back, feet and joints hurt is not so much that we're carrying our own weight around as it is because we're carrying around all these other folks who depend on our obesity for the health of their economic status?

And does that knowledge hack you off at all?

The hard fact is, people who make their living off obese people don't really want them to succeed because that would affect their income or their status.  Even people who are your friends and family seem to have a hard time with you losing weight and changing your looks.  Somehow it seems to change the pecking order.  Your family has gotten used to you being at the bottom of their totem pole, which is sad to begin with, because this has nothing to do with how intelligent you are, what a good person you are, how great your personality is, or even that you have such a nice face.  Size DOES seem to matter, even though they'll all deny it.  The proof is there.  If you move up on the totem pole, then that means somebody's gotta move down.  If you run around with a bunch of friends, there's maybe one person that's the leader of the posse.  When you start getting more attention, your perceived status changes.  You might end up getting more attention than the leader of the posse, and we can't have that.  So they'll say something like, "You've changed...."  or, "You were more fun when you were fat".  And then, whether they mean to or not, whether they're aware they're doing it or not, if you continue to hang around with them, they start trying to feed you.  And face it, MOST social activities do that, anyway.  They say to you, "Oh, come on.  ONE won't hurt you."  or "Aw, you look great.  You can just eat less tomorrow."  or "Geeeze, now that you've lost weight, does this mean you can NEVER enjoy yourself AGAIN??"  Hell yes, you can enjoy yourself!  You can enjoy yourself EVERY MINUTE OF YOUR LIFE.  You just won't be using food as your crutch.

Everything is in the brain.  If you feel like you're being deprived, then it doesn't matter what happens.  Even if a person who has offered you cookies smiles at you lovingly and says, "I understand completely and it's entirely up to you," if you feel deprived because you can't have a cookie, then go ahead and have one.  Because I guarantee you, you will think about those cookies all day, and after you get back home, you will HAVE cookies, and cake, and ice-cream, and only God knows what all, trying to comfort yourself because you feel so deprived.  But if your brain is on board, then you can dismiss it.  It's like somebody offered you something repulsive, like, I don't know....  an old dirty cigarette butt on a piece of shoe leather maybe.  Feel kind of sorry for all of them because, OMG, just think of all the damage ALL THAT SUGAR is doing to them!  Bless their hearts.  Tsk, Tsk, Tsk.

It's not, "I can't have cookies....".  It's "Oh, my goodness no, I don't eat cookies."

And then there's your wife or girlfriend, husband or boyfriend.  This can get complicated because sometimes they're truly overjoyed that you've lost weight but they just don't understand the mechanics of it.  They may want you to go with them to more dress-up functions because they want to show you off.  They don't want everybody to be too busy "doing stuff" to notice how great you look.  And almost all those do-nothing dress-up functions are centered around food and/or alcohol. 

Other times, your love-interest might be secretly feeling insecure because you look so much more attractive than you used to and they might not be prepared to accept the fact that now you're getting more attention from everyone than they are.  Maybe someone will flirt with you and they've never felt like they had to "trust" you before.  Now, they don't know for sure where they stand.  They may have always thought that they were the prize YOU had to work to keep, not the other way around, and they might not be very comfortable in that.

Your mother might even start preparing your favorite foods and who knows why she does that.  You'd think a mother would be happy that her child is healthier and happier.  But noooooo, she whips out that cream cheese and twenty pounds of sugar and starts baking.  She's dangerous because she knows what your favorite foods are.  She gives you dire warnings about "losing too much", "getting sick", or "becoming anorexic".  Here you are standing in front of her and you still have thunder thighs and that badonkadonk butt and she's worried about you getting too skinny.  Sheeeeeesh.

No, this stuff didn't just pop in to my imagination.  I've lived all this.


My daughter had Gastric Bypass several years ago.  And let me tell you, that really opened my eyes.  She had to go through all kinds of medical screening and trying other ways to lose weight to be able to be approved to have this surgery.  So, after about a year of that she had the surgery, which is not for weenies.  And then there were so many things she just couldn't eat anymore.  Sugar made her physically ill.  Bread would get stuck halfway down.  Did you know people who've had gastric bypass surgery cannot vomit?  She bought all those test-tube shaped plastic bottles of liquid protein which has so many artificial ingredients in it, that alone would just gag me out the door.  She bought whey powder, like the body-builders use, and I've tried that, it's not TOO bad.  But the bottom line is that she was forced to change her entire way of eating.  She has to wear a Medic bracelet that says she can't be intubated, for the rest of her life.  If she ever gets herself in a situation where she cannot get all these special things she has to eat in order to get enough protein to keep her alive, or if there's a First Responder that's not paying attention, she's in trouble.  And she drinks.  When you enjoy alcohol, having this surgery is a problem in two ways.  One is that the alcohol goes through a lot less processing in your system before it hits your intestinal tract, where it is absorbed rapidly, giving you a fast high and then a quick low.  There are many who say this doubles a person's risk of becoming addicted to alcohol.  And the other is that there is some evidence that overeating is an addictive trait that many times will be replaced with another addiction once the ability to overeat is removed.

She felt like gastric bypass was her only option.  She felt like, at 5'2" and 360 pounds, she would die if she didn't do something drastic.   I can't second-guess someone else.  Maybe it was the only thing she could do.  But I knew that was not an option for me.

Several things about this process were not lost on me, though.  One was that it had to be accepted that there were some things that just could no longer be consumed.  Another was that, what made this process work was that it was no longer possible to eat large amounts of anything, so that made it imperative that everything you ate was packed with nutrition.  If you could even find junk food that didn't make you physically sick, it would fill you up and make it impossible for you to be able to hold anything else.  Some people actually had all their hair fall out.  Tooth decay increased.  And their skin dried out.  But I looked at this process and I said to myself, "Hell, I don't need gastric bypass to make me do some of these things...."  Plus I could keep my hair and my oily skin.

I did a lot of thinking about obesity along about then, and how it is that people get there, and just keep getting bigger and bigger until it is a monumental task to come back out of it.  They start having health issues that make it imperative that they lose weight FAST.  And that's where the trouble comes in.

You don't gain weight FAST.  It comes on, maybe five or ten pounds a year.  Doesn't seem like that much, does it?  But that's 50 to 100 pounds that you could gain in only ten years.  I was fat as a child, and then, at the age of 12, I put myself on a diet.  I yo-yo'd for many years and then finally I said, "I'm going to be happy with the me that I am", and then that's how I gained my weight -- 5 or 10 pounds a year.  Till I found myself 100 pounds over my healthy ideal weight. 

So I decided I would make changes in my habits.  I stopped eating sugar and processed foods with sugar (or corn syrup or fructose) in it.  Which is, by the way, almost ALL processed food.  I discovered, after "walking the floor" dealing with cravings for the first three days, that on the fourth day I no longer craved.  I wasn't preoccupied with food.  I could tell when I was hungry and I could tell when I'd had enough.  I felt satisfied and not deprived.  Gradually, I lost fifty-five pounds.  That didn't put me "at goal", and I wasn't planning on going back to the way I had been eating before, but I "fell off the wagon".  I went to someone's house and they insisted that I try some cookies that they had made, and I do love cookies.  From there I started back eating unlimited amounts of sugar again.  That was about 2010, and that was the year we moved where I could have a bigger garden, and probably thanks to that and the stairs I have to climb in the house, over the five years since, all I gained back was seventeen pounds.  Of course that means that I kept thirty-eight of those pounds off for five years without even trying.  In fact, mostly while eating like a horse.  That's the first time that ever happened to me.  I mean, I KNOW how to lose weight.  I've just never been able to KEEP IT OFF.

Always before, I lost weight because I wanted to look better.  I'm 68 now, that's ONLY TWO YEARS AWAY from The Big Seven-O, well, less than that, really, and now it's not so much that I care about how I look as it is that I care about how I FEEL.  The quality of my daily life hangs in the balance.  I want to maintain enough health and vigor to be able to take having surgery in my stride.  And, though this is not quite as important, I want to give my skin time to catch up.  I don't want to be dragging a belly-apron around.

Last winter I sat and thought how, if I had been watching what I ate and staying out of the sugar-laden junk during these past five years, I would've easily gotten to my healthy weight goal.  Because I work pretty hard around here sometimes and apparently that is really doing a good job of burning the calories.  And then I started thinking about all the things I've shared with you in the preceding paragraphs.  And it just made me mad, you know?  Here I've been the recipient of a God-given metabolic blessing, that will allow me to be one of the survivors if we ever have a famine, and everyone around me has been exploiting it out the Wahoo!  There might be something to be said for hanging onto my fat stores, since so many people believe something bad is going to happen soon.  But then again, we don't know what the bad thing is for sure.  So if it happens and it involves needing good health and mobility, I and everyone else who's packing around a lot of extra weight are at a distinct disadvantage. 

It strikes me as funny, this thing about how the makers of bait traps for rodents and ants (and other critters, too, I imagine) advertise that when one critter finds the poisoned bait, it carries it back to its nest to feed the family, and in that way, the population is controlled.  And then I think of the obese shopper in the grocery store with sugar, processed fats, addictive umami additives, and all those processed foods that contain them, in the shopping basket.  Well, maybe "funny" is not the right word, because it makes me sad to think that whole businesses are kept prosperous at the cost of every consumer's good health, and that of their family.  If you think eating healthy is too expensive, think again.  Eating healthy is not addictive, and you will find yourself eating less.  You will save money because you are not buying all that junk food.  And I'll let you in on a little secret.  Why do you think it is that most of what you can save big money on with coupons is processed food?  If you like couponing and you're good at it, don't stop.  Just don't buy something because you can get it free or nearly so, if it's "poison bait".  You know, the "food" industry doesn't pay grocery stores to give this stuff to you for nothing.  They're "growing their business".  Since they're also marking up their prices so that folks who DON'T have a coupon will pay the price of theirs and the one you got for free, they aren't losing money even if they can't get you addicted to it this way.

Do you think Americans are not addicted to sugar and stuff like fructose, dextrose, maltose, in fact, ANYTHING ending in "-ose"?  Forbes magazine says Americans consume, on average, 130 pounds of sugar a year.  That's almost eleven pounds of sugar a month, 3/4 cup of sugar each and every day.  One 12-oz carbonated soda contains 45g, or about 1/8 cup, of sugar.  In 1822, the average American consumed 9g of sugar a day.  TOTAL FOR THE WHOLE DAY.  It would take them five days to consume the equivalent of ONE 12-oz carbonated soda.  By 2012, the amount of sugar consumed by Americans had increased seventeen-foldHERE is that article, if you want to see.  And HERE is an article on the LiveStrong website about why carbonated ANYTHING is not good for your bones and teeth because of the addition of phosphoric acid.  So, having a carbonated soda when you really want something to eat is just a bad choice.   I must admit, it's been really hard for me to give up my diet pop, and I have found it's the carbonation that I miss.  I can taste the chemicals in nearly every diet soda except maybe A&W Root Beer.  Oh, it makes me so sad to remember how thrilled I was, back in the late 50's, early 60's, when Coca-Cola Bottling Company came out with the first diet pop that they called "Tab".  OMG.  Talk about that chemical taste!  But back then, we thought it was harmless.  How naive we were......  I and my friends and family drank so much of it.  Over the years they've come out with Aspartame and then Sucralose and most recently, Stevia, each product improving some on the status quo, but even at it's best, still kind of a chemical taste that I have found more and more distasteful as the years pass.  And who knows what damage those do to us?  Remember that we're unpaid guinea pigs here, so our descendants will know.  But it will be too late for us. Now I drink coffee and on hot days I keep a pitcher of unsweetened tea in the refrigerator.  And then of course there's plain ol' water, which it turns out isn't really plain, anywhere, anymore, unless you buy or make your own filtered water.  REAL water, full of minerals that it picked up by running through unsullied earth and rocks, doesn't exist anymore for the average consumer.  We thought that's what we were getting in those little clear bottles and then found out that it's just tap water like you could get from your tap at home.  Maybe without the chlorination and the fluoride, I don't know.  It's so hard to tell, since they're always lying to us about what's in our food and drink till someone comes along and tests it, and then they fess up, like, well, they were going to, anyway....  Now and then I think a nice Sonic cherry-limeade would taste really good but I'm just not willing to start gulping down that much extra sugar when I'm not getting any real nutrition out of it except maybe the lime juice.  Back in the old days, people drank beer, because the water wasn't safe to drink.

So, my dears, if you need to lose weight, I promise you it doesn't have to be that hard.  Just don't be in such a hurry.  Choose healthy foods that you like.  Find out what is your "trigger", and I bet it'll be sugar and/or corn syrup.  But I think there are other things.  Fats, for instance.

Almost every day, I have an egg for breakfast.  I fry it on a hot, ungreased griddle.  I make "sandwich rolls" from wheat berries I grind myself.  I cut a sandwich roll in half and put a thin slice of cheese on the bottom half.  Then I put my egg, which has had the yolk broken during the frying process, on top of that.  No butter.  I figure the cheese has fat in it, and so does the egg yolk, so butter is not needed.  With it I have about 2 cups of tomato juice, which was processed at home, without added sugar.  I get up really early, so about mid-morning, my stomach starts talking to me.  Then I have a cup of unflavored yogurt with enough homemade fruit jam in it to make it slightly sweet, and about a tablespoon of slivered almonds or chopped walnuts for extra protein.  And yes, there's sugar in the jam, but I find I can tolerate sugar in small amounts.  Then I'm good to go till a late lunch, when I may have a sandwich with Hubs, mine is made on the other half of the bun I cut for breakfast.  Hubs buys turkey breast coldcuts, usually, sometimes made to taste like ham, sometimes not.  I'll have two slices of that, if I have mayo I won't have a slice of cheese and vice-versa.  Lettuce and tomato if we have it.  Or maybe I'll just skip all that and do peanut butter.  I like the crunchy style.  Sometimes I'll mix up tuna salad.  Sometimes I just eat leftovers.  I'll usually have a glass of milk, too.  I try to watch my portion size.  I'm wanting to be satisfied but not full.  Mid-afternoon might be an orange and a cup of black coffee.  Then we have supper around 4:30 or 5:00, which is just what I normally make for supper.  Just like at lunch, I watch my portion size.  If I want seconds, I do really small amounts, or I might double-up on the vegetable.  When I cook, I try to use less fat and I never salt anything.  After supper, I'm done eating till breakfast.  Evening snacks have been a big problem for me in the past.  Usually I don't even miss them, but sometimes I do.  Sometimes there are a lot of food commercials between the TV programs Hubs tunes into.  That's when I go downstairs and read, or I go upstairs and have a long, relaxing bath.

Sometimes I'll have a day when I just feel hungry all day.  If that happens, first I tell myself, "I must be losing weight today..."  I'll just try to get busy doing something and I might forget I want to eat and be able to last easily till mealtime.  If that doesn't work, I'll make a big green salad and eat it all.  Or cucumbers with a little Ranch dressing, which I make with a mix I buy at Sam's, but I replace half the mayonnaise with unflavored yogurt.  Or Seven Day Cabbage Slaw, with less oil than called for in the recipe.  When I have a green salad, I top it with salted sunflower seeds, a chopped hard-boiled egg, a small handful of grated cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice or cider vinegar.  Then stir it all in as I eat.  This takes the place of salad dressing and it's quite satisfying.

I do allow myself fast food about once a week.  If we are out and we stop for a burger, I get a Junior Burger and small fries, and it feels like plenty to me.  If Hubs feels like stopping for biscuits and gravy while we're out garaging, we get one order of two biscuits with gravy.  Two forks.  We could each get a one-biscuit order but that costs an extra couple of dollars and it's just the same thing.  Saves money and only one container to put in the landfill.

So this is what works for me.  And I would suggest to you, if you're tired of being on the weight-loss roller-coaster, just sit down and figure out a game plan.  Use what you know about yourself, your weaknesses, your strengths, your preferences.  Go gently with yourself because this is something you will need to do for the rest of your life.  You are your own best friend and you must treat yourself as such.  Don't be a bully.  Oh, and I'm so sorry if people that work at some of those industries that make money by keeping people fat have to go look for some other way to make their living.  It's US, or THEM.  And it's been US all our lives.  It's THEIR turn.

Make a list of foods that are good for you and that you like.  Don't let anyone tell you, "Oh, you can't eat bread, or any part of the egg but the white, or peanut butter, or cheese, or full-fat milk, or nuts, or jam," and so on.  Or they'll tell you, "You can't lose weight if you don't start working out".  I don't know why it's so important for some people to make losing weight such a dang ordeal and so much harder than it has to be!  You need to get up and do stuff, but working in the yard, cleaning house, walking to the mailbox, taking the laundry upstairs, that is ALL exercise.  If you LIKE to lift weights and bicycle or climb stairs to nowhere, do it.  But if you hate it, find other things you like to do.  Turn on the radio and dance, if you want.  We're not trying to be muscle-bound or develop 6-pack abs.  For the average person, there is nothing more wasteful of precious resources than doing extra exercise solely for the purpose of being able to eat more, unless it's anorexia, and when you think about it, the two are a lot closer than some people think.  Eat less, but make wise choices, and your body will thank you when it doesn't have to struggle to metabolize all that junk food.  Think of your body as a fine car.  Fill the gas tank with premium fuel, but don't overflow it, and you won't go down the highway spitting out smoke and gas fumes.  Heh.  You also don't need to make extra trips just so you can fill up more often at the gas station, do you get me?  You'll wear out your tires and your fancy upholstery faster if you do.  Plus waste your time.

And don't be swayed by those commercials that say, "Lose FIVE pounds in the FIRST WEEK!!"  Most of that is water weight, and the rest is because you've been eating less and your stomach and intestinal tract is dang near empty, which is not healthy.  ANY loss of more than two pounds a week is unhealthy, every doctor you ask will tell you so.  It's also unnatural and unrealistic.  A loss of about a half pound to a pound per week is better and stands a much better chance of staying off.

So, how often should you weigh?  Some say once a week, some say every day.  I weigh every Monday, but somehow that seems to be the day of the week I always weigh the most.  So if, when I weigh on Monday, I feel like I'm coming along well enough, I might not weigh again till the next Monday.  If I'm consistent it all comes out in the wash, anyway.  But if, on Monday, I haven't lost anything or have gained a little, usually I'll weigh every day after that or at least on Wednesday and Friday, just to make sure I'm back on track.  If I truly have gained, I won't try to "make up for it", but I will try to figure out what I did that didn't let me lose anything that week, and not do that again.  Lots of times I easily know why I've gained.  For instance, I can't eat potato chips with my noon sandwich very often.  But I just continue on.  As Lorraine says, "Put one foot in front of the other".  I wasn't in a hurry to gain this weight, not during any of the gazillion times I did it.  I'm not going to be in a hurry to lose it.  Weigh in your underwear because your day's clothing might weigh more than what you might wear on other days.  I even considered not weighing myself at all, but I felt like if I didn't, I'd backslide and I'd waste all that time not knowing that I wasn't losing anything.  

And this part's important.  Don't let yourself become fixated or obsessed about losing weight.  Just go on with your life.  Don't make it a part of every conversation you have with people.  Don't keep a weight loss journal.  Both will make you feel the need to lose weight faster.  When you gained this weight, you didn't keep a journal, right?  You didn't call your friends and say, "Oh, darn, I didn't gain a pound this week."  Don't start cooking up a storm and living vicariously through your family members.  Hear this:  FOOD IS JUST FUEL.  Just eat when you're hungry, eat real food and don't overdo it.  And then get on with your life.

Remember.  We're not on a diet.  We're eating sensibly, thoughtfully, intelligently.  We're not saying "no" to the marketers of all that is simply "Rat Poison For Humans", we are saying, "Oh, HELL no!"  We will not be baited again.  And we will not take that bait home to our families. 

Rock on, Peeps.  Hugs xoxoxo