Category Archives: Uncategorized (’til I think of something better)

A phrase best left in the movies

In his late twenties my older brother went on a solo journey across the country, an adventure trip that took place over the course of about a year. He met a woman and after they’d been together awhile, she agreed to leave her home and come back with him to live in our town. We were all quite curious about who this woman was, leaving her life and job behind to make such a drastic move for a man, and one she hadn’t known terribly long at that. In her car no less!

On the night they returned the family gathered to see him and meet his new lady. I don’t remember much about that evening except that my brother asked our mother rather grandiosely to “rustle up some grub” for his new girlfriend. Rustle up some grub??! Had my brother really said that?! The only place I’d heard the phrase before was on TV, on Westerns. Our suburban family didn’t talk like that. Also, why the hell couldn’t he get up and fix some food or order a pizza or something? As it was he didn’t have to; our mother did indeed go to the kitchen to “rustle up some grub” for my brother’s girlfriend.

The relationship didn’t last – she returned to her home after about a year – and if you ask me there was a major hint in how it would devolve in my brother’s words and attitude that first night. Perhaps he started demanding his girlfriend, a modern, independent woman with her own career to “rustle up some grub” and so on.

 

 

 

 

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My Dracena “Corn” Plant had a baby, er, flower!

I don’t have children or pets. I have plants. I bought a Dracena plant back in the ’80’s from a home store. It cost $4.  These are the plants that look like the ones seen in a corn field, hence the name. It grew & grew and I hauled it with me, over the course of many moves, even after it was taller than I was (and I’m 5’8″ ). It shocked me once when it grew a flower. I didn’t know they did that! I remember thinking it was kind of like when your dog Rex up and has puppies. Who knew?!

The flower was peculiar; it grew out from the side of the plant rapidly on a long “stalk”. And it had a potent scent. I was renting a room on the second floor in someone’s home at the time and could smell that bloom when I entered the front door of the house.

Years passed. The plant, now in another home with me, reached the ceiling. I cut off and rooted no less than three offshoots. Two survived. In time tbe original plant died. I was very sad to see it go but I still had its “children.” Two years ago one of those plants also grew a bloom. I had the blog then and took photos with the thought of sharing them here. I never got around to it and lost all the photos when my tablet took ill.

Which brings us to now. The other plant has a bloom! I am quite excited. Once the bloom stalk mysteriously begins to emerge from  the plant, which it did about 10 days ago,  it grows fast. Every day there was visible growth till the stalk was about 15″ or more (I forgot to measure but it’s seriously long). The process is really quite something to watch – I’m fascinated and I bet a kid would love it.  The bloom was literally reaching for a nearby tall lamp which it got to and proceeded to hook itself over the edge. I hadn’t realized until I moved the plant a bit to take photos and the bloom wouldn’t let go! The bloom was so tenacious in its desire to reach the lamp that it pulled the upper part of tbe plant crooked (I’ll correct this after it’s done blooming by turning that side of the plant away from the light source).

I took these photos on Saturday.IMG_20180428_200407

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It’s strange and beautiful

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The other plant occasionally turns up in my blog photos. Here’s a photo including it.

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I took this today to show you how it’s touching the ceiling. It may soon be time to cut that off but I’m reluctant and a bit nervous to do it! That sure was $4 well spent I must say.

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A report on my “dairy free” week

I want to report on my recent, voluntary week of a dairy-free diet. It was interesting, challenging even.

First off, I didn’t plan very well. That became evident very quickly. I thought I kind of had. I moved anything dairy out of sight. I even decided it would be an egg-free week too. But what I didn’t do to any great extent was plan what I would eat. I typically have some kind of dairy every day – cheese, yogurt, and milk are the main ones. But there’s others occasionally (ricotta cheese, sour cream, butter, parmesan or romano in the plastic canisters; cream cheese and ice cream rarely). Dairy is a big group!

What no dairy for seven days did was force me to come up with substitutes and that was the big takeaway. If you’re eating less cheese, maybe you’re eating more vegetables for instance. Eating less eggs, maybe eating more whole grains. I sure wasn’t going to eat crap in place of no dairy, not when I was thinking about it so much.

Because I am already mostly vegetarian, it was a week of vegetables, home-made soup, beans, fruits, pasta, breads, whole grains, nuts & seeds, and fish (one can of tuna, two small frozen whiting fillets, and canned salmon in a soup). The only place I messed up was when I cracked open a little jar of pesto and had that with a couple meals, only to remember later that it has cheese in it! Right there on the tiny label, Romano cheese. I just wasn’t thinking. I didn’t eat any candy or chips or crackers and stuck with stove-topped popcorn and home-made cookies that aren’t full of junk for snacking and treats. I did make wonderful little dates/walnuts/coconut treats (recipe coming in future post, super easy) that someone had just posted on Facebook although I made my version just a bit healthier. (I am not one of those people who claims to have no sweet, salty or fatty cravings.)

The dairy free week made me think about how many meals I make. Even if it’s two a day most days, just to be conservative, that’s easily 700 meals a year!!!  I don’t know why that never occurred to me before. It’s work to put together wholesome, non-toxic, nutrient-rich meals from scratch on a daily basis. And I like variety (I don’t want to eat the same things every day, not even for breakfast).

The no-eggs was challenging too. Although I love eggs and with no repercussions would eat them daily, same as cheese, I try not to over-indulge. If I’m going to guess, I expect I  eat 12 (a carton) every month or 6 weeks.  On night 6 my week of no dairy or eggs I had a dream that I made scrambled eggs just for me USING 8 EGGS. In real life, I eat only one egg at a time, whether it’s adding one egg to a recipe (even if it calls for 2 or more), or adding one hard-boiled egg to a salad, or making one scrambled egg for toast or a sandwich. ONE. Only one. Dream-me was going to scarf down 8 in one sitting!

So far as feeling better or seeing any big changes, I didn’t notice anything in particular; I felt normal, regular. My allergies (to molds, dust, etc) seemed about the same, no worse. My energy was okay, nothing amazing. (Typically, if you’re going to try out a vegetarian or vegan diet, 3 weeks is the suggestion.) For me, one week of trying something – whatever it is – seems sufficient to “re-wire” my brain. I mean, that breaks my habits and makes me sufficiently conscious of them.

All said, I’ve decided to cut back on cheese. While my previous limit was no more than an ounce a day (based on something I read as “okay”) I didn’t measure it and kind of guessed. And even though I predominantly chose lower fat varieties, they’re still pretty fatty. I’m not wholly anti-fat but I haven’t seen anything convincing to negate the conventional wisdom that saturated fats contribute to the top killer of Americans, namely heart disease. I certainly have older relatives who either had or died of heart disease. Also, I’d gotten into a habit of frequently buying packaged shredded cheeses and I have to say I was never comfortable with the “anti-caking” or other preservatives that many brands contain but I kept on eating them because they were convenient and tasted good. I think I can do better now.

The little grocery store closest to me sells store brands of sliced provolone, Monterey jack, and Swiss cheese in 8 ounce packages. There are no weird additives. Each has 12 slices per pack, so each portion is well under 1 ounce. They cost more per pound than the cheeses I usually buy but I really like the idea of knowing how much I’m having (rather than guessing and probably “rounding” in my favor). This means I’ll put one slice per home-made pizza, one slice to go in a big salad, or one slice for a grilled cheese.

If I buy a block of cheese, I can cut it into portions to freeze. I’ve done this before but not so much with the idea of measuring or limiting portions. If I cut 8 portions from a one pound block to freeze, I’ll know that each one is no less than a two-day ration. This gives me a guideline. I keep improving my diet over the years and I feel good about this. I think it’s the right direction. Particularly as I noted above, in that it forces me to come up with other/better substitutes. It sure isn’t as if I’m in danger of eating too many vegetables.

(p.s. THIS week is my self-imposed Amazon-free week. No shopping, no looking at the site, no Amazon.  I have my reasons for this, one of which is simply breaking a habit. This one might be harder than cheese, not sure!)

 

NOTE: Please forgive 1-2 days’ delay in responding to comments; I definitely want to read them.

 

 

This is not a resolution

So. For the next seven days I’m going dairy-free. I am a “mostly vegetarian” with NO plans to become a vegan. However, I’m curious what, if any benefits I might get from cutting back dairy. I don’t over-consume (my cholesterol level is in the desirable range) but I am careful. My rule of cheese-thumb is no more than one ounce a day, a suggestion I once read. Left to my own devices with no repercussions I’d definitely eat more cheese as I suggested in this short and surprisingly (to me anyway) popular post. And milk, yogurt, etcetera? Oh I like them very much too.

I do hear/read a lot of good things about the vegan diet and while I am not onboard I don’t think a seven-day experiment is too onerous. I have miserable allergies plus tend toward winter lethargy (definitely affected by seasonal lack of daylight) and I’m simply curious if a dairy fast will help either. IF I saw some difference I might be motivated to eat less dairy but we’ll see. I have read that you’re supposed to give a vegan diet a three week trial (certainly vegan advocate Dr Neal Barnard says so, sigh; he just wrote a WHOLE anti-cheese book, which I did not read). Three weeks without cheese?? Noooo. Oh, and “cheese substitutes?” Pricey of course, not buying any, not now anyway.

I think the biggest issue, for a middle-aged lady who wants to maintain her bones, is the calcium  Dairy products pack lots of calcium. I DO take calcium supplements and eat other foods which have calcium, but those “other foods” are meager in their calcium comparatively speaking. Sure, broccoli has calcium but c’mon! It ain’t no dairy product in the calcium cage matches!

In preparation for a dairy-free week, last night I fixed my favorite food of all, popcorn, and added chili powder and a Mexican blend shredded cheese. Oh my. (I like to make “theme” popcorn sometimes to shake things up.)

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This is before I stirred it. I wanted you to see the lovely toppings.

 

My plan is to report back how The Week of No Dairy went in a later post.

 

NOTE: Please forgive any delay in responding to comments due to internet issues (that or I keeled over because my system went into some kind of cheese withdrawal shock).

ALL SALES FINAL (you’ll eat those carrots and like em!)

Last week I posted a sign I saw in the small, local grocery store I patronize. I’m back with a new one from the same place, of a slightly different ilk. I have to preface this by saying that while I do very much appreciate this particular store, largely for its convenience and good price/sales, the produce section is often dismal. For example, I might find Romaine lettuce that’s not old-n-rotty® on every third visit. Two weeks ago I reached into the zucchini bin and my finger went right through one of them. Ewww. (I used to joke privately, and not too charitably, that the store’s motto must be “We will sell no produce before its time.”)

They also have a discounted produce bin. Honestly, it’s usually pretty scary. A large, chain grocery store would put this stuff in the garbage, but not this store! Despite myself, I usually glance at the discounted offerings because once in a very great while I find something worth buying. (Although now that I think about it I’m not quite sure when that last would have been…)

On the weekend I walked through produce and noticed a new, handwritten sign on the discounted bin, the one in the center.
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In case you don’t understand ALL SALES FINAL they break it down even further.

 

Gee, that doesn’t sound too friendly. But what it really says to me is that customers have been trying to return this sad produce. Um, I don’t get that at all because it’s not like the store hides the shape these discounted vegetables and fruits are in (unlike some of the “regular” produce, which sometimes gets turned over by staff to hide icky spots, ahem). I mean, hell I took two quick photos of reduced items just to show you.

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I THINK those are carrots of some kind

 

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If I’m not mistaken the tiny white spots on the potatoes look like MOLD

 

I’m with the store on this one. I figure if you buy something out of this bin you can’t claim you didn’t KNOW what you were getting. It’s hardly fair to bring it back saying it was bad; you bought it bad.

Short Thought 196 (liquor bottles)

When I find a bottle, typically a liquor or beer bottle, tossed on the ground somewhere, and I’m in the general vicinity of a trash can or on my way home, I’ll pick it up and carry it with me to throw away or put in recycling. I want to squash the opportunity for some asshole to come along and smash it, putting bike and car tires at risk as well as pets and children who don’t know better than to avoid broken glass.

Here’s the thing though. I carry any such bottle very deliberately. First, I’ll empty out whatever contents might still be in it and then I typically hold it upside down and away from my body so as to project: This isn’t MY bottle, no sirree, in case anyone is wondering. Just a good citizen here, not a person strolling down the street chugging on a 32oz Colt 45 in the middle of the day.

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Short Thought 193 (sorry)

I’ve been thinking about apologies lately, both ones I’ve personally been offered in the past as well as those I’ve heard in the media.

You know what’s a lousy apology? “I don’t remember doing that but if I did do it or you think I did, I apologize.”

This suggests a few things to me, none promising:

a) the apologizer remembers damn good & well but was hoping it would be forgotten.

b) the apologizer doesn’t remember because they were high or drunk.

c) the apologizer doesn’t remember because it was no big deal in their mind and/or they act that way all the time.