Categories: Kristin's Earlier Blogs, About Kristin
Gee, I sure hope so. Wisdom is hard to measure in oneself.
Yes, today is my birthday and, as is my nature, tends to cause much somber pondering and reflection.
I have not been exactly looking forward to this one. You see, I am 43 today, beginning my 44th year on this planet. And I have had 3 friends die of cancer. All were 44 years old at the time of their deaths. I believe all were diagnosed with cancer around the age of 43. One from breast cancer, one from lung cancer and the other from pancreatic cancer.
Although, I don’t have any indication that cancer is part of my future, one really never knows for sure, does one?
My friend who died from breast cancer challenged all my beliefs around cancer. At the time, I thought changes in diet and lifestyle, living completely by macrobiotic ideals, would cure any cancer. She was very healthy by the standards at the time: vegetarian for 20 years, engaged spiritual life, fulfilling relationships, etc. And she tried all the alternative treatments available, macrobiotic diet, IV vitamin C therapy, other injection treatments, all to no avail.
By what I believed to be true, she shouldn’t have died. But she did.
I am no longer as naive as I was back then. I don’t think anything can protect you from disease; reduce the chances or likelihood, probably, but protect... no. Not even the blood type diet promises protection. I remember a quote from someone years ago that went, “If you eat only healthy, organic food, drink only pure water, exercise and meditate regularly, get plenty of sleep, but do so from a place of anxiety you are in no way maintaining your health.” That phrase has stuck with me all these years. I now measure my wellness by the amount of anxiety I feel, my willingness to challenge myself in all ways, the sense of ease and flow I feel within my bodymind. That is my definition of health.
Now on to brighter musings....
On Saturday, hubby took me out on a rare date (no kids) for a pre-birthday dinner. A wonderful little loaf of freshly baked bread, still warm, arrived on the table. I asked my husband to cut me a piece and as I was taking my first bite he said, “Well, is it worth the wheat?” I chortled at this comment and he responded, “That is the question, isn’t it?” Oh my yes, isn’t that ALWAYS the question when debating avoids. So easy to avoid at home, so tempting elsewhere. And in this case, no, it wasn’t worth it. I did order the rack of lamb that came with a small salad (removed the tomato and onion slice), wild rice (no, not worth it) and lightly steamed asparagus, carrots and snow peas. The lamb was served with tomato butter. I had no idea what that was and being the curious sort, did not asked for it to be removed. The tomato “butter” was just pureed tomato (definitely not worth it)! I scraped it off the meat.
I always order a pot of herb tea when eating out and in this case had peppermint. Warm tea is so soothing and even when eating compliantly I sometimes have trouble with restaurant food, usually due to anxiety or feeling a little tense in restaurants. When in a state of balance, restaurant food doesn’t bother me much... another health indicator.
Sunday, we went on a lovely hike in the high country, at about 10,000 feet. In the past, if hiking above 8000 ft. I would, after a while, begin to feel lightheaded. This hike felt like I was climbing in my own backyard, no dizziness or feeling lightheaded at all. The trail climbs to a secluded mountain meadow called Horsethief Park. Legend has it that horse thieves used the meadow as a hideout. Many trails here follow mountain streams and this one was no exception. We followed the stream to Horsethief Falls, an extraordinary cascade down a granite face. Water sliding like liquid poetry. I went to sit by the falls and noticed some more falls above it, climbed to those, and again, more falls above. I never did get to the top of all those falls. We also began the ascent to Pancake Rocks, a sandstone formation that looks like a towering stack of pancakes. As it was late, we did not make it all the way up but savored some fabulous views of the valley on the way. And absolutely no noise of civilization whatsoever. Then, and only then, can one really hear the song of the wind. It has such a beautiful voice in the trees...
I could go on forever, you know, trying to describe the serenity and unsurpassed beauty I see in the natural world but my words really cannot contain my experience...at least not yet.
From death to life... full circle.
....... ahhh.... ginger...
I have recently rediscovered my old friend.
Fresh ginger root, well rhizome actually, has long been one of my favorite spices. I was feeling “under the weather” recently and had a yen for ginger tea. I have been drinking it practically every morning since.
I love the smell of freshly grated ginger on my fingers and always put my hands to my face to breathe in that refreshingly aromatic scent... and I have learned after that first whiff it is best to rinse it off my hands for if the juice gets into eyes... oooh... yowser!
I use a nub of ginger, freshly grated, about half the size of my thumb to make a nice cup of tea. Use the smallest holes or blades on your grater to make a fine, juicy pulp. Although ginger has a reputation of being a soothing and warming beverage, it can also be an irritant to the stomach if too much is used. I find that often happens when using the pulp in a beverage mixture, so I use a garlic press to extract only the juice and discard the pulp. Or you can just squeeze the pulp with your fingers into your mug...and inhale that marvelous scent on your fingers... ahhh...heaven.
To sweeten the tea, I like to use honey, the tastes blend together well on my palate. A trick that my naturopath taught me is to brew a pot of ginger tea with a little licorice root for sweetener, so beneficial for most B’s. The licorice does tend to nullify the ginger and take the “bite” out of it , so this is something to try if you don’t like the sharpness of fresh ginger. On the topic of sweeteners... I read on a label of fructose that even though fructose is still identified as fruit sugar, most fructose is made out of corn syrup... so B’s beware!
Ginger, honey and juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon is an excellent tea for colds, digestive and menstrual cramps. Ginger is also good for promoting circulation.
When I was attending homebirths, we used ginger in perineal compresses. Fresh ginger root was part of the “birthkit” the parents-to-be needed to assemble prior to the birth. Toward the end of the first stage of labor, we would get out a saucepan, fill it with water, cut up the ginger root and simmer it on the stove. Oh.. it filled the house with such a lovely aroma... and we would soak cloths in the liquid for warm compresses on the perineum. It did promote circulation which helped reduce perineal tears during second stage. And all the women remarked how wonderful the ginger compresses felt.
Ginger is also a universal beneficial for all blood types (neutral for AB secretors). So if you have a mixed blood type family like myself, you can use ginger without restraint! Try it in bean dishes, stir frys, casseroles. We substitute powdered ginger and a touch of cloves for cinnamon in our granola recipe... I like it better than the cinnamon version which me being a cinnamon lover is really saying something.
Ahhh.... ginger... good to see you old friend.
My oldest son (O) has spent the past 10 days with his grandmother excavating on the Western Slope. She is a member of the Colorado Archeological Society, and volunteers in the summers at active sites. Last year they retrieved a partially flinted Folsom point - a spearhead of the Folsom peoples who lived in the region about 10,000 years ago. It was quite an exciting find for them, and also fun for my son to do fieldwork for actual scientists and hang out with college students.
So, for over the past week, I have been absent my partner in carnivorousness (yeah, it is a word - I looked it up). I didn’t think much about it until it came to making meals for the A’s, both my husband and youngest son are blood type A.
Now, my husband is such an A... we knew from reading the blood type descriptions that there was no other blood type he could be, and of course when he was typed, our perceptions were deemed accurate. He has thrived on a vegetarian diet since he was about 13, been practicing yoga since the age of 12 which turned into a daily practice around the age of 16. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times he has NOT done his morning yoga in the past 17 years that I have known him. He is the type that if we had to leave the house at 5 AM to catch an early flight, he’d be up at 3 just to make sure he gets in his hour of yoga to start the day. It seems essential to his well-being. I’ve learned to live with it.
I noticed, much to my chagrin, with just the veg heads in the house that I tended to make meals with them in mind, catering to their needs and forgetting my own. Like making a big pot of black bean soup for dinner. Or choosing to prepare salmon for my son when what I was really needing was some heavier protein that day. Since my O son will be leaving the nest in a short couple of years, this was quite the enlightening experience. It felt almost too indulgent to prepare food/meat for myself only. Don’t know where that’s coming from but certainly something worth excavating.
Ok, we can stop with the rain dance. At least for now.
We have had so much rain, we even had a flash flood in our neighborhood, not uncommon here but not an everyday occurrence either. My son and I went down to the creek a couple blocks away to see what it looked like with real water flowing through. Not a smart thing to be near a stream during a flood but it sure was amazing!
About a week ago we had had 8 inches of rain in 30 days and we have had more since. In 2002, the yearly total of rain was only 8 inches. Climatically, the weather pattern has shifted to such a degree as to put a permanent end to the drought. However, it will still take years to fully recover.
And now the plants in my yard are drowning. Bushes, and even small trees have adapted to drought conditions to an extent that they cannot handle all the rain.
If there is one thing you can say about Colorado weather, it is: dramatic. One of my earliest memories here is how bright the sun is, the deep azure blue of the sky, and the clouds often seem so close to the ground; like you could just reach up and touch them. And the intensity of the weather always amazes me. Cracks of thunder that reverberate in your sternum, flooding so sudden like a faucet turning on and then off a few minutes later, blizzards whipping up out of nowhere, sun so blazing hot - forget about frying an egg on the sidewalk, you could fry one in the sun on your arm! And the wind storms... now those are the worst.
Not a place for the timid of heart.
Weather has always affected me. For good or ill. I never knew I had Seasonal Affective Disorder until I was in graduate school walking down the street in Boulder, CO in January when I suddenly realized that it was the middle of winter and I was not depressed. I looked around me and saw that even though it had snowed the night before, the sun was shining brightly in that beautiful blue sky, the Flatirons were draped in soft capes of snow; how could anyone feel depressed here? Back in Michigan, winter meant endless days of cold, drab weather. In college, I spent a winter afternoon literally searching for color: I was determined to find some color in all that gray, I NEEDED to find some color in all that gray.
And it all came together for me on that street corner in Boulder.
As did the realization that my dream of moving to Seattle was not a good fit...
With this dramatic shift in weather we have now, I also notice shifts happening inside myself. I’ve been feeling out of sorts lately, not quite sick, but certainly not like myself either. I seem to have lost my balance and don’t quite know where my ground is anymore, a most distressing experience for any B.
Standing on slippery rock.
Then yesterday, I was stung by a B, a yellow jacket really. How painful! And part of a much larger story that I will save you from for now. But I think the experience was quite apropos in a lesson/gift from the universe sort of way.
I’ll bee sure to savor the meaning.
That is the name of a bakery here that is gluten-free: no wheat, rye, spelt, barley, or oats in their products.
The owners of the bakery, Pam and Rick Hasty, opened the bakery about two years ago. After their daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease, they spent several years creating and perfecting recipes for baked goods sans gluten. The bakery is the result of all their hard work. But we’re the ones who really get to benefit.
I don’t know about you but I sure miss having fresh bread that is BTD friendly, or at least mostly friendly. They use many types of grains in their breads such as amaranth, quinoa, millet, teff, tapioca, sorghum, flax seed meal, potato flour, etc. but the primary ingredient in almost every recipe is brown and/or white rice flour. And this bread is anything but dry and crumbly - so moist I can hardly believe it!
The bread choices keep growing too. Just today I picked up some Jalapeño/Cheddar bread. There is also Cinnamon, Cinnamon Raisin, Rice/Garfava, a whole line of Montina breads - a new flour based on an old grain, Indian wheat grass.
But that’s not all. They also carry crackers, croutons, hotdog and hamburger buns, cakes, cookies, pies, muffins, focaccia...all gluten free. My favorite are the cheddar crackers - made from rice flour and almost completely B BTD friendly, except for the xanthan gum, one of the last ingredients.
But you can’t buy their products in any of the large health food stores in town, they only sell to small, owner-operated stores, one of the many, many reasons to shop at locally owned markets. You can find things there, especially fresh things, that you can’t get elsewhere. Local businesses tend to do business with other local businesses. It’s a good thing.
So seek out and patronize the local businesses in your area that cater to healthy eating and lifestyle habits. Get to know the owners and let them know what you are looking for in food choices. You never know, they might create a recipe just for you.