Archives for: October 2012
Our neighbors tell us we got five inches of rain while we were gone. I believe them! The grass seized the opportunity and went to seed. We returned home to find thigh high grass. Our yard could have inspired the words "amber waves of grain".
Because we live in the country, we do not have a manicured suburban yard. We encourage native plants, and most of the year we let the yard, except for the area right around the house, go wild. But thigh high grass is too much. It invites snakes and rodents to take up residence; and that is not acceptable! So, I've been mowing an hour or two every afternoon. It's good exercise.
Yesterday I got double exercise. I met my exercise partner at the fitness room in the morning to lift weights. In the afternoon I mowed. This morning I feel fit and strong.
I had bought a bag of shredded cabbage for Cole Slaw before we left on our trip. When we returned, the cabbage was looking a little wilted. HH loves Cole Slaw almost any time, particularly with sandwiches or soup. So he was happy to be getting Cole Slaw every day. But I could see that the cabbage was going to go bad long before I could use it all.
I remembered wistfully a cooked cabbage recipe that I loved making before I started the BTD. At the time I was not a cabbage eater. I didn't like raw cabbage in Cole Slaw. I didn't like fermented sauerkraut. I didn't like watery cooked cabbage. I came across a recipe that said cook cabbage in a little milk and melted butter. I tried it and to me it tasted wonderful. Full disclosure - DD and HH who both prefer raw vegetables to cooked, did not share my enthusiasm. But I often fixed cabbage this way for myself when I was alone at lunch. I abandoned the recipe when I started the BTD because of the milk.
I was thinking about that recipe for cooked cabbage as I made Cole Slaw for HH. Then I thought of almond milk. I put some ghee in a skillet, added the last of the cabbage, added a little almond milk and began to cook. As the cabbage wilted, I added a few shredded carrots.
The result tasted every bit as good as I remember the original recipe tasting. I am happy to be enjoying cooked cabbage again. HH is happy because buying cabbage more often means more Cole Slaw for him.
As the old Simon and Garfunkel song said, "Gee but it's great to be back home."
Monday was the last sightseeing day of the trip. We drove to Hartford, Connecticut to see the Mark Twain home. I always associate him with small towns along the Mississippi River, where he grew up; but he did his writing from a beautiful home in Hartford. I think I am going to go back and reread some of his books, now that I know more about him as a man. His childhood years were the foundation for his books, but he experienced great sorrow as an adult.
One for the exhibits said that he lived double life: Sam Clemens the family man and Mark Twain the entertainer, author, and humorist. After he lost his family, he became Mark Twain full time with unkempt wild hair and white suits.
I had packed a lunch with leftover vegetables and chicken. Everyone else elected to go to Subway for lunch, so I was glad I had food with me. Though I can always do a salad at Subway, it is mostly iceberg lettuce, which is not particularly nutritious.
We stopped at a market on the way home and bought shrimp. I grilled onions and steamed shrimp. My sister cooked yellow squash, made a salad, and warmed up the leftover cod. She fixed baked potatoes for herself and our husbands. She worried about me not having enough to eat, but I reminded her that I had eaten two pieces of rice bread in the middle of the afternoon. I heaped my plate high with shrimp, squash, and onions. I was happy.
The next day we were up early to drive to the airport. Flight delays made it a 16.5 hour travel day. That's a lot better than driving, but we were tired when we walked in the door at 10 PM. I had my computer, so I spent most of the day with the laptop literally in my lap. I got a lot of work done, but it was way, way too much sitting. I wish I had gotten up once an hour and walked briskly around the terminal.
The laundry is done. I had a photo shoot Wednesday, so I'm busy editing pictures. Life is returning to routine...which is a good segue into the title of this blog. When I first started blogging in 2004, I had been on the BTD for almost a year. Everything was new. Every day was an adventure. I was blogging 2-4 times a week. In 2008 when my parents began their end of life health issues, I blogged less often. I was eating right, which gave me strength to cope with difficult days, but I didn't particularly want to share all the details of that time. I got out of the habit of thinking about blogging.
I have enjoyed taking you along on this vacation. I have enjoyed writing about daily decisions concerning food and exercise. After nine years on the BTD, the excitement has worn off, but perhaps it would be an encouragement to newbies to see that the BTD does become an easy way of life as you adapt to it.
Internet troubles over the weekend kept me from blogging. I'm hearing on the news that the United Nations wants to take over the internet and tax me for each time I access a site. I would sure miss the unlimited access I now enjoy, but these two days proved that I can exist quite nicely without the internet.
Saturday we drove back into New Hampshire for a ride on the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad. We got up early and packed a picnic lunch anticipating getting close to the train station and finding a picnic area with a good view. Instead, there was a major accident on the Mass Turnpike. We spent all of our extra time sitting in traffic. We arrived at the train station with just enough time to sit on a railroad tie and eat our lunch before it was time to board.
The route was along the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. Out one window we saw fall colors and luxurious vacation homes. Out the other window we saw the lake, sailboats, and charming islands. After the stressful car ride, the sounds and motion of the train were so relaxing. My sister remembered that the home where we grew up was about a half mile from a railroad track. She said she liked hearing train noises in the night and feeling that all was well.
For dinner my sister fixed pan grilled chicken with stir fry broccoli and carrots. It was a feast.
Sunday morning we went out for breakfast at IHop. One of their specials this month is two eggs with two mini sirloin steaks and hash browns. That sounded just right for a Type O. Everyone else had pancakes of one kind or another, but my meal was perfect.
We talked about all of the places we could go and things we could do, but in the end, everyone agreed that we needed a day of rest. After lunch we took a walk around the neighborhood where my sister lives. It was an interesting mixture of colonial era and very modern. In one block we would see a historical marker, in the next a state of the art swimming pool.
I caught up on work that I needed to do for my clients. Everyone else read and took naps. We went to the grocery store and bought cod fillets and scallops for dinner. She put a bread crumb and cheese topping on everyone's cod except mine. I found a garlic seasoning blend in her spice cabinet, which was delicious. We had potatoes (sweet for my sister and me, white for the two husbands) and salad.
Today we visited Historic Deerfield. Homes from the 1700s settlement have been restored inside and out. We learned about how the early settlers lived what they wore, and what they ate. It was fascinating to see hand woven baskets, hooked rugs, and needlework. Though they lived on the edge of the wilderness, they wanted their homes to be attractive. As archeologists have dug around the area they have found both pieces of locally made redware and fine china imported from England.
We signed up for an architectural tour. In a typical Connecticut Valley colonial home the chimney was built first. They were two story houses with two rooms downstairs on either side of the chimney and two upstairs. That is so practical for cold New England winters. As soon as the family prospered, they would add a 2nd chimney so they could have eight rooms with a hall down middle.
At the Hearth Cooking Demonstration we watched how the colonists prepared their vegetables. It was an art to prepare meals, something that is lost today with modern appliances. The docent showed us a brick oven on the side of the fireplace. The wife would build a fire in the oven and when the bricks were red hot, she would bake bread. When the bread was done, she put puddings and pies in the cooling oven. Last of all she would put in a pot of beans that would cook for the rest day.
Sometimes people complain that preparing food for a multiple Blood Type family is too complicated and time consuming. Food preparation in Colonial America was a full time job - every single day. The food looked delicious, but we weren't allowed to taste because they don't have the required federal permits.
We bought our lunch at a sandwich trailer - not exactly historically authentic - but modern visitors have to eat. Two things on the menu interested me - a hamburger and a chicken quesadilla in a gluten free tortilla. I stood in line doing pros and cons. My Type O body wanted beef, but if I got the hamburger I would throw the bun away. If I got the quesadilla, I would throw away the cheese. I smiled politely and asked if I could have a hamburger in the gluten free tortilla. The way the guys in the trailer looked at each other it was obvious that I was the first person to ask for that. But they did it, and I was happy with the results.
Yesterday was our only full day in Vermont. We wanted to make the time count, so I went on google and found an interactive map that shows the best fall colors. Not sure whether it is updated weekly or daily; not sure what we would have seen on other roads; but it took us to some incredibly beautiful sites.
The day again started out misty. HH says I am in incurable optimist, but it seemed to me that the fog on the mountains made the colors of the trees up close appear even more vivid.
As we went around a curve my eye caught a glimpse up a side road, and I asked HH to turn back. We came upon the loveliest site. It was a pond, surrounded by trees at the peak of their color. The reflection in the still water was stunning. As I walked around to take another picture, I saw a hand lettered sign. "Joye Kings pond; no trespassing". On one hand, I don't blame her for not wanting photographers traipsing across her property, but it sure didn't seem like a "joyful" thing to say.
We stopped for lunch in French restaurant in Brandon, called Cafe Provence. Not only do they serve beautiful food with fancy names, but they offer cooking classes. Somehow it surprised me to find an amazing international restaurant in a small town setting. I had steak and salad with crispy onions. It was perfect! HH ordered their signature turkey sandwich. He didn't care for the tomato based sauce; but then again he is a Subway sandwich man.
Because of the weather we had not even looked into trails in the Green Mountains. But a sign by the road said: "Robert Frost interpretive trail." I did not realize that Robert Frost spent much of his adult life in New Hampshire and Vermont. I put on my parka to protect my camera equipment from the mist; HH grabbed an umbrella; and we started off down the trail.
The mist stopped. The fog lifted just a little. As we walked through "the yellow wood" there were plaques with selections from Frost's poems. The trail was not long - with all of our stops to read and take pictures, it took about an hour. In one word, that hour was refreshing: the poetry, the beauty of the trees, and a turn in the weather at just the right moment. We got back in our car, and as we pulled back on the road, HH turned on the windshield wipers.
My life is centered on my faith in God. I did not pray for good weather on this trip. Local farmers need rain, just like we need rain in Texas. It did not seem right to presume upon God and ask for a change in weather for the convenience of my vacation. We were enjoying the day just as it was described in the poem "God's Garden." And God surprised us with an undeserved blessing.
In the afternoon, we turned the car toward Massachusetts. My sister is living there for one year, and before the day was over I got to give her a hug!
Yesterday was our last day with SS, so we were on the trail early, making every minute count.
Our first walk was a trail around Echo Lake. There was a high concentration of maple trees around the lake, so I took lots of pictures dominated with many shades of red.
Then we drove to a trail called Falling Waters which led to four waterfalls. The first two were beautiful. Then the trail led to a slippery log across a rushing stream. SS crossed the stream and brought back pictures of the other two falls on his IPhone. HH and I found a comfortable rock where we could enjoy the view and the sound of the water.
We had Lunch at Gordi's in Lincoln. HH and I had baked haddock with rice and Cole slaw. SS chose a chicken sandwich that was voted "best in town." He said it was delicious.
We said our goodbyes, then SS headed for Boston and we headed for Vermont. The drive was incredibly beautiful. We stopped several times for pictures, but mostly we ooohed and ahhhed as we saw a new view around every turn.
We stopped at a grocery store in Vermont and were horrified at the prices. Many items were double what we pay in Texas. We picnicked in our room and watched the debate. It was especially personal, having just experienced at the grocery store what high tax policies ultimately lead to. I do not see how people survive on an ordinary income in New England, and I do not understand why they continue to vote in officials who raise their taxes even more.
We spent an incredible day in the White Mountain National Forest. Our guide for the day was a brochure that listed waterfalls and covered bridges. The leaves were...indescribable. Someone like me who makes their living as a writer and photographer is not supposed to be at a loss for words, but language fails me. I took hundreds of pictures. The recent rains have the water racing over falls that are framed with yellows and oranges. Streams are rushing under century old covered bridges; the faded reds of the old paint a contrast to the brilliant reds of the leaves.
I had packed a veggie bowl with chicken and spinach for my lunch. HH and SS stopped at Patch's Deli in Glen, New Hampshire for sandwiches.
After lunch we took a half mile walk to Diana's Baths - two waterfalls at right angles to each other.
Next we chose a longer trail that led to four points of interest. The trail to the Basin was paved. After that it became very steep and slippery. HH got to the Cascade, then decided to turn back. His knee has not given him trouble in several years, but he did not want to risk twisting it. The trail became more rugged as SS and I pressed on to Kinsman Falls. This was the prettiest of the four sites. The water had a golden tint. We couldn't decide whether it was from silt brought down by the rains or color from the leaves that were falling into the water. Either way, it was lovely. The last part of the trail to Rocky Glen was nearly impassable. Both SS and I were holding onto tree trunks to pull ourselves up the mountainside.
We were both concerned about the hike down. Normally I am not too proud to sit down and scoot on a steep trail, but I really wanted to avoid scooting or slipping in the mud. We took it slow, used roots and trees to stabilize ourselves, and got down safely.
The trail had made us hungry. We had a delicious dinner at Italian Oasis in Littleton. Again I saw gluten free items on the menu. I asked if I could have a chicken and broccoli entrée but substitute sweet potato fries for the linguini. They agreed, and my meal was perfect. HH chose sausage and pasta - not the best BTD choice for a Type A, but I decided not to nag on vacation. SS had an eggplant chicken parmigiana duo that he said was outstanding.
We all slept well after a challenging trail and a satisfying dinner.
As we traveled yesterday, we could literally see how longitude, altitude and distance from the coast impact fall colors. If you plan a vacation to see the changing of the seasons, be flexible. During late September and early October, there will be color somewhere, you just have to drive until you find it.
On the coast, just a few isolated trees had changed. As we drove inland, the color got better and better. When the road went down into a valley, the trees would be mostly green. When it would climb over a pass, the trees were changing. In a few weeks people driving our same route, will find bare trees on the passes, and color in the valleys. In his research before the trip, HH had read that New Hampshire, Vermont, and part of Japan have the best fall colors in the world. I can't explain why that is true, but the closer we got to the New Hampshire border the more brilliant the color.
We got off the main road and took State Highway 16. The colors were breathtaking. There was a beautiful view around every bend in the road. We saw 11 wild turkeys scratching for food in fallen leaves.
Our Strong Son had planned to take a mission trip to Guatemala the same week we had planned to be in New England, but his trip was cancelled. Since he had already arranged for someone to cover his patients, he decided to take a vacation instead. In route to see friends from Physical Therapy school, he was going to meet us for three days. We picnicked for lunch, anticipating dinner with him in Littleton, New Hampshire.
We ate at the Littleton Diner. A note on the menu mentioned a gluten free item. Over the years, I have found it virtually impossible to explain the BTD to servers in restaurants. I've had a little better success if I say that I have a wheat allergy. But the term "gluten free" seems to have taken hold. Several television personalities have talked lately about going gluten free. I think there is a "one size fits all" book out that says everyone should be gluten free. I wasn't interested in their gluten free selection, but when I told the server that I wanted the roast beef dinner, but I wanted it gluten free, she was very cooperative about making substitutions. I thoroughly enjoyed my roast beef (no gravy), carrots, and baked beans.
It was raining when we woke up - a dreary day with low clouds. There didn't seem much point to getting out on slick roads when we couldn't see the scenery. I had work to do for clients, so I went to the hotel's sitting room with my computer, while HH watched TV.
We had lunch at the Log Cabin Restaurant just outside of Bar Harbor. As we approached the door there was a carving of a black bear in yellow rain gear. I thought it was funny, and took a picture, but I'm afraid the rain has dampened HH's sense of humor. HH had lobster roll and clam chowder for lunch - very New England. I ordered a Western burger. It was Black Angus beef with grilled mushrooms bell peppers and mushrooms. The irony of eating Western burger on the East Coast didn't hit me until later. With my burger I had a side of Cole slaw.
The hotel manager was trying to be positive about things we could do in the rain. One of the famous features in Acadia National Park is called Thunder Hole. The terrain is just right, so that when a wave hits the rocks it sounds like a clap of thunder. The manager said that the bad weather had made the water in the bay choppy, and that Thunder Hole might be exceptionally loud.
HH and I decided that we would like to hear it, even in the rain. So we loaded up our parkas and drove into the National Park. Incredible - the rain stopped. We parked near a beautiful overlook to photograph the rocky Maine coast. There was a trail that led from the overlook to Thunder Hole, so we started walking. Thunder Hole was indeed amazing. We kept walking almost to Otter Cliff, then backtracked to Sand Beach. We walked for a couple of hours photographing on delightful view after another. We got back in our car and the rain returned.
We were blessed, and we knew it. Thank you, Lord, for a break in the rain.
We headed up the coast to Bar Harbor. There is not much fall color in Maine. This is a huge disappointment to HH. I keep telling him that if the color was at its peak on the coast then we would have missed it completely in New Hampshire and Vermont. He is not comforted.
After two sedentary days - one on the plane and one in the car we had planned a long afternoon hike in Acadia National Park. But the sky was cloudy and the mist threatened to turn to rain. I put my parka over my camera and we took several short walks. One was on top of Cadillac Mountain. In spite of the clouds, my pictures of the bay and the islands turned out great. Another was around the Marina in Northeast Harbor.
By far the BTD highlight of the day was lobster for lunch. We stopped at Angler's Restaurant in Seaport, Maine. They had a special on their Lobster dinner. It came with salad, vegetable of the day and potatoes. The vegetable of the day was green beans, so I asked if I could have double green beans instead of potatoes, and they were agreeable.
Every other time I have eaten lobster, it has come on my plate whole. The chef at Angler's separated the lobster in 4 pieces. I joked with our server, saying that I was glad they had pity on a Texan who wasn't experienced with lobsters. I enjoyed every bite.
HH does not like picking food out of shells or off of bones, so he had a crab roll instead.
We are staying at a charming old whiteboard resort that has a gazebo overlooking the bay and an outdoor hot tub. By nightfall the rain had started in earnest, so we didn't get to enjoy the view or relax in the tub. We picnicked in our room. I fixed HH a turkey sandwich with fruit. I enjoyed canned asparagus and salmon.
The good news is that HH's Mom's pain in her neck and her head is much better. The bad news is that she is refusing to eat more than 5-6 bites at a meal. Wednesday the nurses at rehab became so concerned that they ordered tests to see if she was dehydrated. Her mineral levels were so far out of balance that they sent her to the emergency room in an ambulance. After giving her IV fluids, she is now back in her room at rehab.
Months ago HH and I had prepaid for a vacation to see New England fall colors. One of HH's sisters had also prepaid for a vacation to Mexico during the same week. This leaves the other sister with all of the responsibility. That does not seem fair, nonetheless, yesterday morning we were at the airport. To our already high stress level we added airport security, a long layover in Chicago, rounding up luggage, and driving an unfamiliar car in the rain.
Three things we did right on our travel day.
* I packed lunch for both of us in our carry-on bags. Airport food is more BTD friendly than it used to be, but it is expensive.
* I put a wrap around neck pillow in my carry-on. It let me sleep comfortably on the plane.
* When the Southwest Airline flight attendant came to take our drink orders, I asked if I could have water in a bottle. She said that they didn't have bottles, they had cans. I had never had water in a can, but it tastes really good. I stashed a can in my carry-on for our layover, and that helped keep me hydrated all day.
One thing that I should have done was walk around the airport more. I had work to do on my computer for a client, so I spent more time sitting than I should have.
This morning we start up the coast of Maine. We are ready to rest and relax!