Monday
Feb272012

Lettuce Eat

The lettuce that the husband planted last week is up (sorry, it's kind of blurry—the camera doesn't like to take close-ups):

He has five of these trays and so he is seeding one every week so we have a rotating supply until we can plant in the ground. I will be so happy to have our own lettuce again. I have a salad every day for lunch and usually we have a salad for dinner, too, so we need a good supply. 

He wanted me to be sure and notice that he did NOT plant rows of lettuce in the boxes. I asked him if he was in danger of imploding because the lettuce seedlings were not lined up. We're such a well-matched pair. 

The husband and I went for a "walk" on Saturday. I desperately needed to stretch my legs, so we headed over across the road to hike back to the creek. There is now quite a bit more snow than the last time we went. We passed several groups of skiers/snowshoers. They were all decked out in their winter sports gear. The husband had on his Carhartt pants and jacket and I was wearing jeans and my pink wool coat. We both had boots on, but I am sure to those other people we looked like idiots—jeans are about the worst choice for hiking when it is cold and wet out, but I knew how far we were going and I didn't feel like putting on my wool hunting pants. I was fine. 

My legs got a good workout. It is hard to walk on snow, even when it's been packed down by skiers. We made it to the creek. This is the view looking back the way we came:

Just after we got back home, it began snowing pretty hard. DD#2 and two of her friends spent the afternoon getting ready for a dance at the high school. I was on chauffeur duty that night. The husband came in and said, "There is no way you are going to be able to get there in your station wagon; you'll have to take the truck." At that point we had about 6 inches in the driveway. The road had not been plowed (more on that in a moment). We got the truck ready to go and loaded up the girls in their finery. By then it was dumping pretty hard. I must have looked a bit concerned, because DD#2 calmy buckled her seatbelt and said to me, "Just remember, you are an excellent driver."  

I am an excellent driver, in all kinds of conditions. Almost 20 years of living in Montana will do that for you.

Amazingly, by the time we got to Kalispell the snow had stopped completely, although the wind was blowing. As I was coming home, our department got paged out for a chimney fire. I waited up until 10:30 for the husband to get home, and then I went to bed.

The husband waited up for DD#2 to get home just after midnight. Her friend on the cheer team lives around the corner and we share transportation duties with them. Her dad picked the girls up. Just as the husband came and got into bed, the pager went off for an MVA (motor vehicle accident), so he headed over to the fire hall and got into the engine. Their crew wasn't needed, so he came back and got into bed again and just as he pulled the covers up, the pager went off for another MVA. So he got dressed again and went back over to the fire hall. I went to sleep. Eventually he came back and we stopped getting paged out for people who couldn't see that the roads were bad and that they needed to slow down. ::bangs head on desk:: But then the electricity went out and came back on and went out and came back on, and when that happens the uninterruptable power supply on my computer starts beeping and so I had to get out of bed and turn it off. 

Sigh.

I woke up Sunday morning and it was light outside! I had slept until 7:00!!! That's practically the middle of the morning for me. I leaped out of bed and got ready for church in record time. 

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I am more than a bit irritated with the Flathead County Road department, and I think it's time I started complaining. The roads only get cleared between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (because that's the only time it snows, you know). Technically, they are supposed to have the roads cleared for the buses. Yeah, that never happens. They are also supposed to clear out the bus turnarounds. Yeah, that never happens, either. In fact, this morning the bus driver told me to thank the husband for plowing out the bus turnaround up at the corner, because the county hasn't done it once this winter. I think I will send them an itemized bill for the husband's services. 

Off to work. I am so happy that my commute to my office does not require the county to plow it out. 

 

Saturday
Feb252012

My Kitchen Is My Garage

I have a few personality quirks (just a few), and one of them is that I am rather picky about my kitchen. The truth is, after 20 years of catering to the culinary demands of three other people, I have learned a few things about how I like to work. Consequently, I have organized my kitchen in ways that make the most sense to me and allow me to work in the most efficient manner possible. I know where everything is and can grab whatever I need whenever I need it. When that system gets messed up, it makes me cranky. When people come over, I do not like them to "help" in the kitchen. That makes me nuts. I would much rather visit with them and then clean up by myself after they've gone. I am one of the few people in the world who doesn't like "open space" floor plans. The kitchen is a room separate from where we do our visiting. My dislike of other people in my kitchen is legend among my husband and children and provides them with a continuing source of entertainment.  

Lately the husband and I have had to have a few discussions about my kitchen. Because he has been home more over the past two winters, he has taken over more responsibility for cleaning up the kitchen. Alas, his idea of "cleaning up" the kitchen means putting things away in whatever location strikes his fancy at the  moment. He also has a tendency just to shove things like bowls into the cabinets without stacking them neatly. In the beginning, I tried to appreciate his help and give him the benefit of the doubt. Because he does not cook, I do not necessarily expect him to know that the immersion blender (which gets used infrequently) belongs in the bottom drawer of the cabinet underneath the coffeemaker. However, after about the fortieth time I had to go on a scavenger hunt for the colander (which gets used a lot), I asked him to please make an effort to put things back where they belonged. 

That garnered me some comments about being rather neurotic where my kitchen is concerned. I did not think that was fair, because he has his own personality quirks, and more than a few of them involve making sure things are done a certain way. For instance, he was the one who groused at me last year that my rows in the garden were crooked. It's okay if I have to look in ten different cabinets for the colander, but heaven forbid my seedlings should be out of line. ::insert eye roll here::

I finally resorted to the only analogy I could think of that would make sense to him. He has a garage. It's a big garage. It contains a lot of tools, and all those tools are organized 19 ways to Sunday. His mother says that when he was little, he used to line his toy trucks up on the windowsill and then get mad when his little brother would come and mess them up. It is not a stretch for me to imagine him lining up trucks on the windowsill because now he lines up tools in his garage (and rows in the garden). And pity the poor slob who borrows the 5/16" socket wrench and does not put it back in exactly the right place. Luckily for him, other people very rarely come into his space and use his stuff, unlike me, who has people traipsing through my kitchen all day. 

So I told him to think of the kitchen as my garage, and to treat my tools like he would want me to treat his tools if I were in his garage—in other words, with respect for my system of organization. I asked him to think about how he would feel if other people came out to "help" or "work" in his garage and put things away where they did not belong. I think I finally got through, because he's sort of making an effort to figure out where things go, although yesterday I found the rice cooker in a cabinet clear across the kitchen from where it usually lives, and I know we have discussed the normal habitat of the rice cooker at least once. On the days when I am really cranky because I cannot find the colander, I fantasize about going out and messing up the bolt bins and waiting for the fireworks when he realizes that the bolts are not in the correct order. I think that would get my point across neatly. 

FWIW, I am also very picky about how the dishwasher gets loaded. 

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I have a new friend at the nursing home. We start out in the Alzheimer's wing, and while the residents there normally sleep through the hymn singing, a few of them are alert enough to watch us or hum along. A few weeks ago the woman who runs that wing wheeled one of the residents up next to the piano. "This is Velma," she told me. "Velma used to be a church pianist." Velma is this little white-haired darling, and now while we sing, she sits there and watches me play.  

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I ordered a book for the husband and it came in the other day so I stopped at the bookstore to pick it up. While I was there, I also chose a book for myself because I had a frequent buyer coupon. This is what I got for the husband:

Glocks are his handgun of choice, so I thought he might like to read about their history. We like to watch Book TV on CSPAN on the weekends, and a few weekends ago we watched an interview with Paul Barrett, the gentleman who wrote this book. Of course, the husband finished it in about 12 hours (he reads faster than just about anyone I know), so now I am reading it. I have shot the Glock pistol a few times down at the range, but it is too big for my hands (German engineering, dontcha know), and I don't enjoy it as much as he does. But I do enjoy reading books about businesses and the story of how Gaston Glock fell into gunmaking is pretty fascinating. 

Yes, I do like target shooting. Somebody is going to have to take out the zombies after the apocalypse. 

This is the book I bought for myself, In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.

It's the story of Walter Dodd, who was the American Ambassador to Hitler's Germany in the 30's. I am only about 20 pages into it, but it is excellent thus far. But now the husband is out of reading material and I am not sure how we're going to remedy that. 

Wednesday
Feb222012

Wednesday

This morning was the last morning I had to drive two freshman to cheer practice, which began at 6:00 and meant that we had to leave the house at 5:15 which meant that I had to get up at 4:30 to make myself coffee and read my e-mail. This was my Facebook status this morning:

"Last morning cheer practice of the season. Yay."

This was my older daughter's comment on my Facebook status:

"Mom, the word "yay" invites excitement, so put an exclamation mark or two after it, like this: "Yay!!!!!" A period after a "yay" is anti-climactic."

We should note (as I did on my Facebook page) that DD#1 is overly fond of exclamation points and uses them liberally on her blog posts. I suggested that perhaps she used them all up and there were none left for me. 

In any case, I now get to sleep in (not likely) for the rest of the school year. Yay.

Being the mother of a cheerleader has taken a bit of getting used to for me. Band mother—I've got that one down. Cheer mother?—not so much. But DD#2 so clearly loves being a cheerleader that I just sucked it up and went along for the ride. And it's been kind of fun. She has a halftime show at tomorrow night's basketball game and I am supposed to take pics. Stay tuned. 

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The clucks have upped production again after their two-month vacation, so I am trying to figure out things to do with the eggs. (Dear Kalispell friends, they are $2.00 a dozen and I deliver, but usually only on Mondays and Thursdays. Let me know.) Tonight we are having a GIGANTIC quiche of asparagus, ham, swiss cheese and tomatoes. That used up 20 eggs. I am going to hard boil two dozen for the husband. That leaves another three dozen in the fridge. 

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We are being treated to a snowstorm. It was supposed to start this morning and last all day, but this morning when I got out of bed (at 4:30) it was warm and raining. Around 2:00 p.m. the sun even shone for a bit. Then it started snowing and blowing and now I am glad I am staying home this evening. 

I worked on the lace scarf for a bit last night, but I ran into a problem and ended up taking out the row-and-a-half I had knitted. It didn't help that the husband put on a Swedish movie with subtitles. There are three things I cannot do while knitting a lace pattern:

  1. Watch football.
  2. Watch a foreign movie with subtitles.
  3. Watch a show about zombies.

The movie looked good, too, which means I will have to go back and watch it again. I think tonight I will pick the movie and it will have to be in English. 

Time to put more wood on the fire. 

Tuesday
Feb212012

Mousies

I've been trying to get a picture of Lila hunting mice, because it's really entertaining. The other morning the husband came into my office to look out my office door, and when I asked him what he was doing, he said, "Lila just caught a mouse and she's playing with it." Apparently there is a thriving mouse community living on the side of the house here by my office. She goes out and tunnels around for a bit, and then she will stand there quietly for a few moments until she determines that the time is right to nosedive into the snow. Occasionally she gets something. She and Rusty tossed the hapless mouse back and forth between themselves for a few minutes and then, I would imagine, one of them ate it. I didn't stick around to find out. Thank goodness the vet keeps them well-supplied with worming medication. 

They are actually quite accomplished rodent hunters. Rusty completely eliminated a vole infestation in my garden a number of years ago (along with some plants, but it was a small price to pay). They will happily demolish the living room if they think there is a mouse running around. One morning they chased a mouse from underneath the husband's recliner and through the kitchen into my office. The woodpile is one of their favorite hunting areas. It's good for hours of entertainment. Lila will circle the woodshed, find an opening between some logs, and stick her head in and bark. I don't know how many mice she has killed with percussion injuries. 

Occasionally the mice will outsmart them. The husband was watching them hunt for mice in a pile of lumber one afternoon, and while they were down at one end of the pile, the mouse ran out from underneath the other end and scurried to safety across the yard. But they don't often miss like that. 

Oh well, better dead mice outside than in my house. I will put up with spiders, but I draw the line at mice. We have lots of traps. 

Lila used to have an anxiety problem. If we left the dogs alone for the day, she would chew anything she could get her jaws around, including the deck box, my glider rocker on the porch, and various blankets and poufs left outside for them to lie on. I think it's because her first owner locked her in a laundry room all day while she was at work. What a horrible thing to do to a dog. 

Anyway, as long as one of us is home, she doesn't chew. Rusty, on the other hand, is getting clingier in his old age. The umbilical cord between him and the husband (or him and me, if the husband is working) is pretty short. He needs a lot of petting. Some days it's rather like having a two year-old following you around all day. 

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Apropos of my post the other day about food, here is an interesting graphic that lays it out quite nicely.

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The husband has one box of lettuce planted in the greenhouse, and plans to start some additional ones in the coming weeks so we have a steady supply. Just when I was getting excited about spring, we've had several days of snow. This is what the view from my kitchen door looks like:

It looks like a gigantic pile of snow, but that's because the husband has been piling all the snow he plows in this one place. We still really don't have very much snow compared to most winters. This would be a great sledding hill, but I have not tried that yet. I am afraid I might break something. 

I was half listening to the scanner yesterday morning (it's in my office) and the first two hours of the day were filled with call after call for one-vehicle rollovers and motor vehicle accidents. People forget how to drive when there hasn't been snow for a while. At one point the lights flickered. That's usually an indication that someone has taken out a power pole, and sure enough—about 30 seconds later the scanner toned out a neighboring fire department for a "vehicle versus power pole" call. The guy took out power to the whole east side of Kalispell, but fortunately, ours stayed on. 

I don't have to retrieve DD#2 from town tonight (it's her friend's mother's turn to drive), so I am going to settle down in my chair and knit for a bit. The husband seems to have come down with a cold. We're having chicken and rice soup for dinner. 

Monday
Feb202012

Let Food Be Your Medicine

One of the things that has always irritated me about modern medicine is its steadfast refusal to consider how foor and nutrition affect health—oh, they pay lip service to the idea, but it's far easier just to write someone a prescription. 

During my second round of chemotherapy at the Cleveland Clinic, there was one Saturday when I was feeling reasonably well and could hardly wait for lunch—which was supposed to be a cheesburger—to arrive, I was starving. Noon came and went. 1:00 p.m. came and went. Just when I was about to take my IV pole and wander down to the gift shop for a candy bar (a practice frowned upon by my doctors), lunch arrived. I took the cover off the plate expecting to see a cheeseburger. Instead, what I saw was a pile of very limp, very overcooked asparagus. Nothing else. I asked the person who delivered the food what happened to the cheesburger. She shurgged and said, "We ran out." 

I was so irritated by this that I demanded to speak with someone from the dietician's office. A couple of my fellow patients and I met with a very pleasant, albeit clueless, woman from the nutrition department at one of the world's leading medical institutions, and this is what she had to say (I kid you not):

"Well, the oncology floor is the last floor to get fed, because most of the patients are throwing up and can't eat anything anyway.  And sometimes we run out of food." 

Really? Where was the nutritional support for these cancer patients? There was none.  One of my doctors told my mother that if all I could keep down was Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, she should make sure I ate them. I wanted salads and fresh veggies. Nope, I was told—too big a risk of infection. Fortuanately, after this lunch debacle, the nurses offered me some space in their freezer in the nurses' lounge, so I kept a supply of frozen foods in there to eat when I was hungry. 

Hopefully some things have changed at the Cleveland Clinic in the intervening 18 years. But I continue to be blown away by some of the "nutritional advice" doctors dispense, because it doesn't benefit human beings, only the drug companies and big agro-business. 

The husband and I have been eating Paleo for the past six months or so. I began eating that way when I gave up wheat and most carbs, because protein and veggies are really all that is left. The husband naturally just drifted in that direction when he saw me eating bacon and eggs. He burns a ridiculous number of calories every day (like 4000), so he can afford to eat whatever he wants to. But Paleo has been wonderful for me. If you want to read more about it, the first place I would start is the Mark's Daily Apple website. Or if you have Netflix, watch the movie "Fathead" and be prepared to have your brain turned inside out. 

I gave up wheat when my sister tested gluten-intolerant. But then I began reading more about modern wheat and how it really doesn't resemble anything our grandparents ate. And coincidentally, the rise of lots of our modern medical problems correlates with the increased use of this mutated wheat that has become the backbone of our food supply. Dr. William Davis has written an incredibly eye-opening book on the subject entitled Wheat Belly. Modern wheat in the form of a slice of bread has the ability to raise blood sugar faster and higher than a candy bar. That was certainly my experience. I couldn't understand why I continued to gain weight on these "healthy whole grains" that I was eating, but as soon as I stopped eating them I no longer had a problem. I also got rid of the annoying blood sugar swings I had suffered from. And I can always tell when a bit of wheat sneaks in to my diet (it's in everything) because within a few hours I will get annoying pains in my joints. 

It's interesting to note that the grain lobby has worked very hard to discredit Dr. Davis and his work, which tells me that they are worried about something. Of course, they enjoy favored status with the USDA, whose food pyramid actually works much better if you turn it upside down.

The constant admonition to eat low-fat foods and load up on the "healthy whole grains" is actually killing us. I really believe this. Fat doesn't make you fat. I gained weight eating a low-fat, whole grain diet. I have no problem maintaining my weight eating a high-fat, low-carb diet. As I tell my naturopath, "I am my own clinical trial." I don't need a whole lot more evidence than what is happening with my own body. 

The other morning I woke up and thought, "I really want bacon with my eggs this morning." So I cooked up a whole package of bacon and I ate half and the husband at the other half. It was wonderful. Most mornings, breakfast is eggs scrambled in a bit of lard that I save from frying up bacon. Lunch is always a HUGE salad—I like mine with cranberries and walnuts and bleu cheese. Dinner is usually some combination of protein and veggies and a starch like sweet potatoes or rice. Snacks are celery and peanut butter or a bowl of full-fat Greek yogurt. It's really not hard to eat this way, and after a couple of weeks on this eating plan (I refuse to call it a "diet"), I actually stopped craving carbs. 

I know, you're all wondering what my cholesterol levels look like. I haven't had them tested, but I will get them done the next time I have a checkup. I'll bet they will be fine. 

And now it's time for some scrambled eggs. From our chickens. I need to get back to making cheese, too, because it's fun and the cheese I make tastes pretty darn good.