Archives for: August 2009
Since Friday my Mom has had an infection, a fall and a stroke. Her life has turned upside down and mine along with it. Last week she was cooking her own meals, doing her own grocery shopping and talking about finances and the grandchildren. Now she cannot move her right arm or leg. She cannot speak. But she can think. She is very much aware of what is happening to her and there is a frantic look in her eyes.
I have been with her since Friday. I spend the days in her hospital room. The timing on starting my own business was providential. I can sit here with my laptop on the hospital’s wireless network working just as hard as if I were at home. Later this week we will be moving her to a nursing home/rehabilitation center near where I live. She is not going to like this one bit.
I wrote a blog about hospital food nine months ago when my Dad was in this same hospital. This time around is even harder because I am alone. Last time Mom and I went to the hospital cafeteria together. Last time we went home together after a day watching him.
The first night I went to the cafeteria confident that I could get a good meal because there were so many vegetables when Dad was here. What a disappointment. They had baked chicken. But the vegetable choices were fried jalapeños, rice, mashed potatoes, fried corn and broccoli. I took the chicken and broccoli. How can that many starchy, fried items pass for vegetables?
Since then the vegetables have been much better. I have been able to get plenty of beneficial food. My stress level is high. This is more responsibility than I want, but it is a labor of love I am willing to bear. I get up in the morning and exercise first thing. Then I have breakfast, do my Bible study, and get a shower. I’m as ready for the day as I can be.
Lunch and dinner are meats and vegetables - as many beneficial as possible. I have a bottle of green tea that I sip throughout the day. Sleep is the hardest. When I get back to the house there are chores to do. The chores are therapeutic, to tell the truth. I need the comfort of routine things that have a predictable outcome. But that sometimes means I’m late going to sleep. I told DD to hold me accountable and call me to make sure I’m getting ready for bed at a reasonable hour.
I wrote a minute that I was alone. That is not really true. God’s presence is very real in hard times, perhaps even more than in good times. Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” The Psalmist wrote that the Lord, who is our shepherd, would walk with us through the valleys of shadow. Don’t let the sun go down today without calling someone close to you – father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister. Tell them you love them, especially if there is anger or estrangement between you. I will hug my Mom and tell her I love her before I leave her room tonight.
If you are reading this hoping for a way to make the Blood Type Diet practical, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. The BTD is, in my opinion, the best diet out there. It is logical. It explains why people are different and why a diet that works for me doesn’t work for my best friend. It doesn’t require a lot of special purchases to make it work. A person can shop at their local grocery store and follow the BTD.
But practical – now that’s a different matter. Dealing with multiple blood types in one family is neither practical nor easy. It is, in my opinion, well worth the effort. None of that, however, is the subject of this blog.
Two years ago we moved to the country. For a year I commuted back to the city to teach journalism at the school where my daughter was a senior. When she graduated, I resigned my teaching job and began looking for a writing, photography, or graphic design job closer to home. My timing couldn’t have been worse. I started looking about the time the markets fell apart. During the year that I have been unemployed, friends and professional contacts have told me on multiple occasions that I should go into business for myself.
Neither my husband nor myself was enthusiastic at first about starting a business, but about a month ago I began floating some trial balloons. I got some contract work that has been fun and creative. While we were on vacation, we thought and prayed about the decision, and I have launched my own business.
It is called Practical Photography & Publishing. It reflects my core belief that if you want to stay within a budget for wedding photography, if you want to have a simple, user-friendly website for a small business, or if you want to preserve valuable family pictures and documents, it should be practical for you to do so. I am not in competition with high priced photographer/artists or big name advertising agencies. I want to serve ordinary folks and help them protect their memories and grow their businesses.
I have a web site. I hope Dr. D doesn’t mind my mentioning it.
Obviously I can’t come to Ohio or Florida to photograph your wedding. But many of my services can be handled through e-mail or UPS. If I can serve you in a practical way, let me know.
We came to Alabama on vacation to see D & J get married. We've known D since before she was born, and she was a lovely bride. J is easy to like, and I think they have made a wise and lasting choice.
HH & I were invited to the Rehearsal Dinner. It was at a Birmingham restaurant called B&A Warehouse. The meal was a Type O's dream - prime rib and fresh green beans. A write up about the restaurant said they were known for their chocolate desserts. That was an understatement. The dessert table had tiers and tiers of confections, and all but 1 of them were chocolate. Though chocolate is a superfood for Hunters, because I was violently allergic to it as a child I rarely eat it, and then only in small servings. I took one truffle, because I had never had one before. It was very good.
Before the dinner, and at the After Party, they served hors d'oeuvres. Most of them involved crackers, which are easy for me to turn down. But two attracted my attention. One was a spinach artichoke dip. I enjoyed it for the sake of the two beneficial vegetables - in spite of the cheese sauce. The other was havarti cheese with a caramel pecan topping. It was as good as dessert. In fact, I ate it as dessert.
The wedding reception was on the top floor of a building with a breathtaking view of the city lights below. DD's and my eyes lit up when we saw a whole table of fresh fruit. They served shrimp and grits - a dish that I've never heard of in Texas. However on the table beyond, I saw more prime rib. Two nights in a row! It was Type O paradise.
Now it's time to head for home. SS starts his third and final year of Physical Therapy School. DD will be a college sophomore. It was so much fun for the four of us to be together for a week. I will think about that, and not how empty the house will seem after having DD home all summer.
Partly because of the more relaxed vacation schedule and partly because my Honorable Husband turns on the news as soon as we walk into our hotel room, I have been saturated this week with Obama’s health care and tax plans. My forefathers fled to the United States to find freedom. One of my great grandfathers came here from Ireland during the potato famine looking for economic freedom. Another set of great great grandparents were Huguenots, and they fled France looking for religious freedom. Other ancestors were willing to face many kinds of hardships in order to have the opportunity to be the best that they could be. Now we have a president who is trying to pass legislation that will redistribute wealth, destroy incentive to achieve, and deny health care to the elderly and the chronically ill. It frustrates me, and I feel powerless in the face of the onslaught.
Sometimes I think that I could be like my ancestors and boldly go to a new place that offers freedom and opportunity. I was especially thinking about that today when we toured the US Space and Rocket Center in Alabama. I had expected to find lots of information about past space flights. What I hadn’t expected was to learn about the plans underway to return to the moon and send a manned mission to Mars in the next decade. We saw models of the newly designed space craft and learned about the obstacles that must be over come to stay on the time schedule.
Will there ever be settlements on the moon or on Mars? If they were looking for volunteers to go, would I take the risk? I had fun fantasizing about such things until we went through the exhibit on what it’s like to live in a space station. Since you are weightless in space, and there is no up or down, when it’s time to go to sleep, you are zipped into a sleeping bag like thing and hung on the wall. The only live plants are those being grown in plastic containers for experiments. The astronauts have plenty to eat, but it doesn’t look to me like real food. It is certainly not BTD complaint. Establishing a basic camp on the moon or Mars is within the scope of my imagination, but a settlement large enough to begin farming is not even on the horizon. Conditions on the moon and nearby planets are way too hostile for those of us who want healthy, natural food.
I guess I will be staying here in the US. That means I have to redouble my phone calls and letters to Congress and the President, opposing nationalized health care and confiscatory taxes.
Space may be hostile, and Washington DC may be hostile, but we found a warm welcome and a delicious meal at the home of some friends in Birmingham. The wife is Type O and her husband is AB. They have five children, so they have all of the blood types. The wife has a friend at church who follows the BTD. She had lots of questions for me about why I was so enthusiastic. The meal was meat and lots of vegetables. All of us found an abundance of beneficial food.
We got up early this morning and packed a picnic lunch. I had asparagus and salmon. DD fixed gourmet turkey sandwiches for her Dad and brother, filling them with vegetables like they do at Subway.
We spent the morning and the first half of the afternoon at Shiloh battlefield. I had never realized that disease killed more men than bullets in the War Between the States. Open latrines polluted the water. Farm boys had never been exposed to diseases to measles and chicken pox. Fresh food was often in short supply. Often the men went for days eating hard tack (a dry biscuit made from white flour) and coffee.
Late in the afternoon we toured Helen Keller’s childhood home in Tuscombia. What an inspirational woman she was! She lost both her sight and hearing to what was probably scarlet fever or meningitis when she was 19 months old. Yet she lived a full life doing much to inspire and help others who were blind and deaf.
We had dinner at O’Charley’s. This is a chain of restaurants in the Eastern US where I can always find a beneficial meal. Tonight I had steak, broccoli, and sweet potato fries. All were delicious.
Our hotel had an arrangement with a local gym called Riviera Fitness. The kids and I left HH watching TV and went to work out. The equipment was first class. I spent half my time on the best elliptical machine I’ve ever tried. The other half was spent on weight machines.
One thing about a public gym is that the customers sweat a lot. Sometimes the equipment is sticky, and sometimes I wonder if it is sanitary. I noticed other people at the gym squirting a liquid on paper towels and wiping off the equipment before they used it. I realized that there were stations set up all around the gym with antibacterial spray and paper towels. I thought it was a great idea – especially with a bad flu season expected this winter.
DD and I are committed to getting muscle building exercise even while we are on vacation. The fitness room at the motel last night was good, but today we worked our exercise into our sightseeing. That was even better.
If you ever go to Memphis, I would highly recommend Mud Island Park. In the park is a reproduction of the Mississippi River on a 30 inch to one mile scale. The detail is incredible. It shows sand bars, bends oxbow lakes and more. Water flows down the river, and we smiled as several small children floated little boats and plastic fish from Missouri to the Gulf of Mexico. Mud Island itself is in the Mississippi River, so as you look at the water flowing through the model, you also see barges floating down the real river.
It was interesting and educational, but the fun started after New Orleans when the river flowed into the Gulf of Mexico. There were paddle boats for rent. My husband had no interest in paddle boats, but DD and I got in a swan while SS got in a dragon. If you have never been on a paddle boat, you sit side by side pushing pedals like bicycle pedals. The pedals drive a paddle underneath and you steer with a bar that turns a rudder. The model shows the Mississippi River delta and coastline with its bays and inlets. It became a game for us to try to slip past each other and not get trapped.
For half an hour we pedaled and paddled furiously, trying to head each other off without bumping into each other. When our time was up we were drenched with sweat and laughing hysterically.
We had packed a picnic lunch to take to the park. My idea of a picnic is not a sandwich, but a bowl of canned vegetables and canned meat. Today I had peas and carrots mixed with tuna and olive oil. For dinner we stopped at a Subway. HH and SS had sandwiches. DD and I had salads. Sometimes Subway can give you lots of iceberg lettuce, but be stingy with spinach and beneficial vegetables. This Subway east of Memphis was generous with the other vegetables, and I enjoyed a beneficial meal.
We are on vacation. Our Strong Son has a week off between semesters. The daughter of some dear friends is getting married. We’re traveling around together for a week, and then will go to the wedding before our kids start back to school. SS picked the rest of us up at the Nashville airport, and we drove to Memphis.
Someone in the family should have remembered that this week is the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death – but none of us did. We arrived in Memphis to find that there is a citywide event honoring Elvis. I was worried that Graceland would be so crowded that we couldn’t see everything.
But I guess true Elvis fans who come back to Memphis for Elvis Week have already visited Graceland. Our tour was wonderful. The gravesite was inundated with flowers. I’m not sure whether it is always like that, or whether this is something special for Elvis Week. There are big crowds at an outdoor pavilion where Elvis impersonators (now called Elvis tribute artists) are giving an ongoing free concert.
Finding BTD compliant food on vacation is always a challenge. We finished our tour about lunchtime. Of the available restaurants in the Graceland area, the Chrome Grill seemed to have the most potential. I was inclined to have Memphis Barbeque. SS advised against it. He said that while barbeque in Texas means brisket, barbeque in the East usually means pulled pork. I asked, and sure enough, they were serving pulled pork.
There was a sign on the menu that said meatloaf was one of Elvis Presley’s favorite meals. The trouble with ordering meatloaf in a restaurant is that you don’t know how much wheat and what kinds of additives are in it. I passed on the meatloaf and chose a grilled chicken breast.
It came with three side orders. I chose baked beans, green beans, and sweet potatoes. SS told me that Eastern barbeque sauce is sweeter than the sauce on Texas barbeque. Indeed the beans were in a sweet sauce that was tasty. I’ll admit that I dipped my chicken in the sauce, pretending that it was barbequed chicken. The green beans were cooked southern style, which probably meant with salt pork, but they were delicious. The sweet potatoes were covered with a cinnamon sauce.
You could say that my basic meal was beneficials and neutrals, but the seasonings and sauces contained small levels of avoids. Knowing that did not keep me from enjoying my lunch.
Our hotel has a nice fitness room, including some free weights. DD, SS and I all worked out before having a totally beneficial picnic dinner in our room.
The stiffness in my finger has responded to a combination of three supplements.
In the spring when my knee was giving me trouble, I blogged that I was also waking with stiffness in my right ring finger. It felt like I had jammed it, but I didn’t remember an injury.
I haven’t complained in the intervening weeks, but I have waked every morning with a stiff and painful finger that got better as I used it during the day.
A week ago, I started taking three supplements for inflammation – quercetin, bromelain, and turmeric. I took one capsule of each at breakfast and supper. The first week there was no discernable difference. Yesterday, however, I woke with almost no pain. During the day the pain was completely gone. This morning there was only a slight twinge of stiffness.
I am very optimistic, and very, very pleased.
Yesterday DD made the best tasting power bars ever. She used one of our favorite recipes that used to be on this website in Recipe Central. I was going to link it, but it’s gone. Here is the basic recipe.
2 cups of nuts – your choice. Whatever is beneficial for your family.
4 cups of dried fruit – I always include 1 cup of prunes, because they help the bars hold together.
Spin the nuts in a food processor until they are powdery. Slowly add the dried fruit. Add large fruits first (like prunes and dates) Add smaller fruits last (like craisins, pineapple and cherries)
Spray a 9x9 baking dish with cooking spray. If you have a small rolling pin, use it to evenly spread the mixture in the pan. If you don’t have one, contact a Pampered Chef representative or pat the mixture in with your hands. Cut into bars. If you are eating them at home, you’re finished. That’s all there is to it. If you are taking them on an outing, put each bar in a plastic sandwich bag. You can eat it out of the bag without having to wash your hands.
DD and I have tried a lot of combinations, but yesterday’s was outstanding. She used one cop of pecans and 1/2 cup each of walnuts and pumpkin seeds for the nuts. For the fruit she used one cup each of dried prunes, dates, and pineapple. The last cup of fruit was mixed dried blueberries and cherries.
When she was making them, she called, “Mom come look at these power bars. They look like Play Dough.” Usually when we take the mixture out of the food processor it sticks together in a ball, but is easily pliable. This mixture was stiff. It felt like Play Dough. She had to work a little harder to get it to spread out in the pan.
DD had a day off work, so we went to a water park. We played hard all day, and about 4:00 sat down by the pool and opened our power bars. Oh they were good! There were no avoids, and there were beneficials for both As and Os.
I am at my Mom's house this weekend, and I read a column by Dear Abby that could have been written about someone on the BTD. Here is the letter, written by a mother and grandmother who Abby nicknamed Stumped.
"Dear Abby: Over the past two years my daughter and son-in-law have lost a lot of weight. They as well as my grandsons eat very little and don't like having to order food. My problem is not knowing how to celebrate without food. When I think of holidays, I think of a family meal. Any ideas?"
This is the other side of the coin, and I think that those of us on the BTD need to give our friends and relatives a little help. I can imagine that the writer of this letter has been brought up to think of food as a way of showing love. She shows people she cares by preparing a large (and probably delicious) meal. She doesn't know how to say "Happy Birthday" without a cake. She doesn't know how to say "Merry Christmas" without candy, and she doesn't know how to say "Good Morning" without bacon.
In her mind, when the daughter and the grandchildren reject her food, they are rejecting her as well and they are spurning her love. There are a lot of people out there like Stumped, and they aren't all mothers and grandmothers. Some of them are friends and neighbors.
They aren't going to want to hear a lecture about diet and exercise. I'm guessing that Stumped, after years of celebrating with food, is probably overweight herself. Seeing her daughter's family looking fit makes her feel guilty. They do deserve some kind of explanation. I've started saying, "I don't eat bread because it upsets my stomach." It's true, and it's brief. Plus, it's hard for someone to come back and insist that I eat something that I just said would make me feel bad.
I often volunteer to bring something to a celebration meal. That helps the hostess, and it helps me too because I know that there will be something that my family and I can eat with enthusiasm.
Abby had some good ideas. She urged Stumped to think of activities other than food. She suggested a movie, a sporting event, or a hike. She suggested bringing along healthy snacks like fruit and vegetables. There are no guaranteed solutions. I can just imagine Stumped showing up with a bag o orange slices for a family of Type Os and Type As. That would be a disaster!
If you have a technique that has smoothed things over with someone like Stumped, I hope you will add it as a comment to this blog. I don't want to jeopardize my health, but I do want to be aware that there are lovely people on the other side of the coin who haven't discovered the BTD...yet.