Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tempus Fugit

Ah yes, time flies, flees, and mysteriously disappears while I turn my attention elsewhere.

This past week, I've been in outer space with Elizabeth Moon's "Heris Serrano" - the omnibus edition of "Hunting Party", "Sporting Chance" and "Winning Colors". Thank you Jaye Patrick, for the Elizabeth Moon entry "eyebrows up" on your book list. I love referrals to good books, especially Science Fiction.

Update on "If you can't lick 'em": I've been appointed to the CC&R Committee. Next update after my first meeting with them, in a couple of weeks.

Update on my vegetarian (mostly) diet: We invited our son to dinner a few nights ago, and hubby cooked a salmon fillet. I enjoyed my portion, and was surprised the next morning to have had no gall bladder spasms. Another benefit of my new, very low cholesterol diet. I've avoided salmon for years because it was too rich, and now that I've been on a truly low fat, low cholesterol diet for eight weeks, I find I can occasionally indulge. Our son brought chocolates for desert, and I amazed my self (and my family) by declining my favorite food. It didn't take any will power at all - I really didn't want them. I guess I've just lost my membership in the "I'd do anything for chocolate" club.

Another thing I've lost: eleven pounds since July 2. That puts my BMI (Body Mass Index) at 29.3 - under obese, and into overweight, according to the BMI calculator at the Mayo Clinic.

When I get back to what I weighed in 2002, my BMI will be within the normal range, and I'll take my favorite clothes out of storage. I gained a shocking amount of weight during this last, long flare of fibromyalgia -- eating for energy, eating for comfort from the pain, eating from boredom because so few of my usual activities were possible. Yes, eating because I felt angry that this weird, incurable disease happened to me, and eating because I felt sorry for myself. You could say I ate my heart out.

I'm still limited in my activities, not as much as the first year, but I never thought I'd find a diet that would provide good nutritional support and let me lose the ugly pounds without an impossible (for me) level of exercise. I felt very trapped.

So if I seem 'over the top' in my enthusiasm for my current diet - now you know why.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Maybe It's All In My Head?

Or not.

A new blogger in Paris, France, "Charles Perrault" commented on my earlier posting: "could it be that in the mindset of leading a healthier life, you subconsciously had the will to end your bad habits? " I guess it's possible - I'm not objective enough to judge.

I can't prove my insomnia and nail-biting were cured with a vegetarian, whole food, organic diet, or that the my previous diet was a root cause of those problems. Some people would even suggest that IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is caused by mental problems.

I have seen doctors (including psychiatrists), read books, had tests over the years. I took their medicines, which had unpleasant side effects and only masked the problems instead of eliminating them.

My body is calm and my mind is energized now. I don't know what was irritating my body. Maybe I have a lactose intolerance, or maybe it was chemicals, such as the preservatives or coloring added to so many foods. About a third of the population has some kind of reactions to those things, but for the majority, any other diet might be, as Charles suggested, no better or worse.

I take supplements (prescribed by my doctor). I had anemia years ago on a 'normal' diet, and recognize that any diet can be deficient in what my body needs. I have heard of people who risk their health on extreme diets - nothing but brown rice and few vegetables, for instance. A few years ago I tried a diet that was nearly all soy products, (and lost weight but my health suffered). That is the opposite of the diet I've been eating daily since July 2nd.

Every day I enjoy over eighty-one different fruits, nuts, vegetables and spices. The following brief quote (see linked page for more details) explains the processing:

"Our food products are dried in a process of lyophylization, in sublimated water vapor. This process involves drying in a low temperature AND low pressure environment. With this process, enzymes, nutrition, shape, and flavor are retained."

The food I eat is nutritionally dense - a small amount contains nutrients from a large variety of foods. It has worked for me. I strongly advise anyone seeking to lose weight or improve their health: SEEK YOUR DOCTOR'S OPINION ON THIS OR ANY OTHER PROGRAM BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO MAKE CHANGES IN YOUR MEDICATION OR DIET.

Which, in fact, is exactly what I did. My doctor visited The Whole Food Farmacy website and gave it his hearty approval - for me. I can't say what your doctor would advise for you.

If You can't Lick 'em....

Yes, it is true. I've requested membership in the dreaded CC&R Committee. After five years of receiving their mystic 'courtesy letters', this year we received 'da bomb': conform or pay a fine of between $10 to $40 per day, to be registered as a lien against your property.

The Committee wrote, "Yards need to be neatly landscaped, mowed, edged, weeded, watered and maintained in good condition on a regular basis. The standard this committee uses is the area around the School House." (FYI the School House is an historical reproduction, and is actually the community center of our neighborhood).

Every year, we weeded and trimmed. Evidently, not enough. This year, after "The Letter", we hired a landscape architect to redesign the the front yard. They removed two large, open trailer loads of debris after a crew spent two days trimming our trees, bushes and grounds. Hmmm. I guess we did let things get a bit out of hand. O.K. - so we were busy -- paint the house, install a new fence, weddings, funerals -- that sort of thing. And some back injuries and illnesses. But doesn't everyone.

So in another week, Landservices, Inc. (delightful and professional - highly recommend) will have completed our yard renovation. In the next couple of days I will find out if I'm the newest member of the CC&R Committee (or not). Among some of the things I hope to accomplish as a member of the committee: make a list of acceptable wild flowers for landscaping, and a list of those not acceptable (noxious spreading weeds), with pictures, to add to the currently somewhat vague guidelines. We tore out all our wildflowers, since we had no guidelines as to which were acceptable or not.

Property liens are very serious indeed. Community Associations across the country have foreclosed on homeowners who defied their guidelines on landscaping, and wildflowers have been a consistent point of dispute. Our property had the appearance of a natural forest setting, and every year people walking by complimented us on it. Our neighbors had not registered complaints, but the Committee let their voice be heard, and we have attempted to conform. Now our yard looks more like a manicured park than a forest. It is still an unusual landscape for our neighborhood, however it goes well with our house, which also has an unusual architecture.

We have reveled in the peace, quiet and security of this neighborhood for twenty-two years, and enjoyed the amenities of jogging paths, swimming pools and tennis courts. I wouldn't trade our location for absolute freedom to do whatever landscape I felt like doing, and if we ever move, we'll probably look for a similar community association.

Friday, August 17, 2007


I just finished reading books one through four in the Vatta's War series by Elizabeth Moon. More, please! Meanwhile, I'm looking up Moon's backlist as fast as I can.

Today I'm reading her SF novel on autism, "The Speed of Dark". On page 97, she uses dark as a metaphor for ignorance of people who think they know things but don't understand that they don't know. This is a delicious book that started slow and has crept up on me, slipping into that place in my heart where I keep all things precious and rare.

UPDATE on my whole food, organic, vegetarian diet. Last night was a welcome home party for my nephew, and I ate a hot dog and three brownies (my niece makes the world's best brownies). Well, two exceptions since July 2 isn't so bad, but I won't want to do that again! My body objected -- fiercely! I like the food I'm eating and have variety, and have lost nine pounds by now. Why stop a good thing? I'm still sleeping well, no IBS (except like last night when I eat processed food), and my fingernails are still growing. Today my doctor theorized that something in my previous diet was an antoginist for seratonin, preventing the supplements I was taking from working, but now the supplements can be effective because the whole organic foods don't interfere. He said it was just a working theory, but I believe it's a rational possibility.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Panda Joy!

The giant panda is said to be the rarest of all endangered animals. The birth of four baby pandas in one day has set a record at China's breeding center for pandas. I feel like throwing a party!

For an amazing picture of one of the newest baby pandas, click here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mental Landscapes

I've started reading "The New Feminine Brain" by Mona Lisa Schulz, M.D., Ph.D. It is subtitled "Developing Your Intuitive Genius". Somehow, planning for a physical move has stirred up a desire to make changes in the rooms of my mind. Time to take down the cobwebs, toss out useless and tattered thought patterns, and renovate the whole structure.

I also started reading "Woman An Intimate Geography", by Natalie Angier. So now I'm reading them in tandem. The first book is a scientific analysis of the female brain and how it works. The second book is a poetic, detailed description of the female body and how it functions.

Together, they make a symphony of appreciation for what it means to be a woman. It is healing for me to acknowledge the joy of being female. When I was a child, it seemed to me that boys had all the fun - I got a doll, and my brother got a set of airplanes and pilot wings. I decided I would rather be a boy. At the age of thirteen, I was traumatized when my body informed me, quite rudely I thought, that I was definitely a girl. To say I was in despair would not be an exaggeration.

I grew up in a family where girls were supposed to become teachers or nurses. And boys? Well they could be anything they wanted -- from firemen to doctors to engineers (as long as they didn't want to be girls). Although many of my peers overcame similar restrictive upbringings, and went on to become whatever they wanted to be, I did not. Eventually I met a man that I couldn't live without, and we had children. I enjoyed motherhood. Now that my children are adults, I'm enjoying having the time to study and pursue my interests, one of which is to discover and understand what it means to be a woman, to be me.

My mental landscape is getting a makeover. I don't know exactly what it will look like when I'm done, but I think I'll like it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Unexpected Results

I began a vegetarian diet on July 2nd, expecting to improve my health and energy and lose some weight. So far, I've lost five pounds and I do have better energy. It's the unanticipated results that have me truly excited though.

Three things have plagued me constantly since childhood: IBS, insomnia, and biting my fingernails. In the past six weeks, I have entirely stopped biting my fingernails without even thinking about it; I sleep soundly nine nights out of ten; my IBS has been in abeyance the past six weeks.

Who would suppose that any of those things, let alone all three, might be mitigated with an organic, whole food, vegetarian diet? Certainly not me. I'm amazed -- stupefied, really. Is it a coincidence of timing? Could all three disorders just disappear at the same time, after being lifelong burdens -- burdens that I hated and tried all kinds of medicine and remedies to eliminate?

I'm wondering what repairs my body is making that I haven't noticed? Six weeks ago I promised a report on how the organic, whole food vegetarian diet worked for me. I never thought it would do more than help with my weight and energy (if even that).

So here is the link again, for anyone who is curious about what it might do for them (and yes, it tastes good).

What Pandababy Eats

Planted and Uprooted

The ten bare-root root roses are planted, and we are in the process of being uprooted. After twenty-two years in this home, and nearly all our lives on the west coast, we're getting ready to move to Virginia next year.

The work on detailing the house, preparing it for the market, is already in progress. We'll be going from a single-family home to a condominium, from mild weather to humid summers and freezing winters, and from the casual west to the more formal east. I can't wait! Our family will all be in the same area again, and visits won't require a six-thousand mile round trip.

Like most people who are rooted in a home and a community for decades, we have inadvertently collected a mass of *stuff*. Now comes the weeding process: what to toss, what to give away and what to ship. Shipping costs being nearly the same or even higher than replacement value for many things, there will be plenty to give away.

This is an opportunity to reconfigure our nest, crowded with the memorabilia of our lives, into a more functional and aesthetically pleasing space.

The ski-boat takes up half the space in the garage, and is loaded with sunny memories, but it hasn't seen the water in a decade. Now, instead of slowly turning into a pile of fiberglass dust on the garage floor, which is what I anticipated, it will be sold. We'll still own the sunny memories, so it is a net gain.

Contractors have been selected to upgrade the electrical wiring and to reconfigure the landscaping in the front yard. The internet has become a fantastic tool for searching out a new home thousands of miles away. We've worked out a plan, and the plan is working.

Moving tears down cobwebs, literally and figuratively. Tomorrow: some of the changes that have surfaced in the landscape of my mind.