Posted at 12:52 PM in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0)
So, you know when your friends or neighbors invite you to dinner and you get there only to find out it was a pretense to show you their vacation photos? Well, this is my blog version of that, and if that’s not your deal, here’s your warning to scroll past this lengthy post to get to your next cat meme. But I think I can tell a pretty good story, so maybe you’ll stay and read.
Husby and I went to see the total solar eclipse and we had an amazing time. We had loosely planned to go for some time, but because my life isn’t terribly predictable because of my mom care duties, we knew we might have to pull the plug (on the trip, not Mom). As luck had it, Mom’s health was good enough that I could put her in respite care at the local memory care home, and we knew the trip was ON!!! I almost had a change of heart when stupid Amazon sent me that email telling me the certified eclipse glasses I’d purchased MONTHS ago maybe weren’t actually certified at all, and I was warned not to use them. I’m kinda big on “omens” and I thought the universe was telling me we shouldn’t go. But my friends cyber-bitchslapped me, telling us to “JUST GO”. So we finally committed.
We took off early Sunday morning in Husby's AdventureWagen (a high top Volkswagen camper van that’s the apple of his eye). We were totally self-contained and we even have a porta potty so we were prepared for anything especially since news reports were saying it would be crazy down in Oregon with the influx of people and cars overwhelming mostly small communities. We carried extra gas just in case gas stations would run out (and some did). We had no particular destination in mind, we just knew that we would head as far south and east as we could possibly get in the time we had to drive. Since we live right on Admiralty Inlet, we knew that if you’re serious about seeing an eclipse, staying on the coast would be super risky, given that August mornings typically start out with a marine layer of clouds that don’t burn off until after noon. Going east meant better weather chances.
Our trip started out with a minor blip when we miscommunicated to each other about the route we would take over the Cascades. Our disagreement started when I asked Husby why he was going north and it went south from there. We got it all figured out though, and finally got our asses over the Pass. Snoqualmie to be exact.
The heavy traffic and nightmare conditions the news went on about never materialized and it was smooth sailing and bare roads all throughout Eastern Washington and Oregon. What luck! We made good time and as we neared the path of totality, I, being the Official Navigator™, started scoping out a place for us to land. Baker City, Oregon was one of the first places we stopped at the northern edge of the path. We went to get gas, and the the harried overworked gas jockey (can’t fill your own tank in Oregon), told us there was zero parking spots in town. Booked and oversold. I consulted my rest stop app on my phone, and told Husby there was a rest area 30 miles south, and even closer to the centerline of the path, which is where you want to be, ideally. So we headed south, hoping that the rest area wouldn’t be completely packed and that we would even be allowed to stay because rest areas do have rules about how long you can park there.
We finally pull into the rest area south of Baker City at milepost 335. There were people there, but it wasn’t packed by a longshot. Husby pulled the van into a level parking space and announced “this is it!”. But I had doubts. The rest area was really nice, but the problem that I could see was that we were flanked on both sides by mountainous hills. I was concerned that we were so deep in the valley, the sun wouldn’t be high enough to come over the tops of the mountains by eclipse time. I didn’t think we’d be able to view it there, and we’d have to move either north or south in the morning to find a spot. Husby thought my concerns were unfounded and I disagreed.
So we hop out of the van, and right next to where we were parked was a median type of island filled with decorative rock and we saw a couple of people working on what looked like a pretty sophisticated photography/telescope setup. One of the tri-pods (if you could call it that) was huge and had a big NASA logo on it. We approached them and I asked if they thought the sun would be high enough the next morning. They told us for sure it would be and they had been there since Friday and this rest area is the spot they chose, of all places. Turns out……..they were husband and wife retired astronomers from JPL!!! I don’t think there’s any better seal of approval in regard to eclipse viewing spots than THAT! Husby flashed the obligatory “I told you so” look and I wasn’t even upset. Ha ha. Mr. and Mrs. Astronomer were very nice to us and all the other people that approached them asking about their set-up. They were the rock stars there and you could tell they were loving it. Mr. Astronomer was personable and funny and made lots of jokes, like, “it’ll start snowing when the temperature drops during totality” and he had a blast giving out info to curious onlookers and especially the kids. He held their attention with fun facts about astronomy and how cool science is.
Soon, a lot of other people came with their camera/telescope/binocular set-ups and I dubbed it “Tri-pod Island”. Turns out, where we were in that deep valley in the middle of nowheresville, there was no cell service. For most people anyway. Those with Verizon still had service though. This is no plug for Verizon, but on many occasions where Husby and I have lost service (we have AT&T) people with Verizon did not, which is why we will be switching carriers soon. But not having cell service was actually a blessing, because people had to actually, you know, TALK to each other. I’m a major introvert with my nose in my phone constantly and this was a good thing for me. I put my now useless phone down and went to Tri-pod Island to take in the activity and bask in the good vibes that were coming at me from all directions. More people started coming into the rest area as the evening went on. Even as it got more crowded, everyone was happy and excited and we were all mingling and talking and wondering if those clouds that were present all day would clear by morning. I was pretty concerned about that myself.
In addition to meeting Mr. and Mrs. Astronomer, we met a lot of other really cool people on Tri-pod Island. A guy in a white van pulled in behind us shortly after we had gotten there. After he kind of got himself situated he came up to us and said hello. We said hello and asked “where are you from?” He said……Port Townsend! I laughed so hard and he looked at me quizzically. I said, “We’re from Port Townsend too!” I mean, of all the places we both could have ended up, here we all are in this little rest area and he even pulled up directly behind us. I just love coincidences like that. So of course, we engage in PT stories and gossip because that’s what we do in PT. We just made another friend for life!
Then, we met “The Brothers”. Jim and Dave. Two guys in their 70’s, small in stature, but big on personality, and they almost looked like twins. They travel together in what looks like a nondescript small white boxtruck. Something you wouldn’t look at twice in a parking lot. But Jim is an engineer, and he built out the box to make it into a completely soundproof, self contained living space. Bunks, a toilet, a shower, A/C, and a little cooking area. Freaking genius! They can travel anywhere and park anywhere and no one would ever guess there’s two guys living very comfortably in the back of that boxtruck. They named it their “Stealth Camper”. The other brother, Dave, is a traumatic brain injury survivor. He had gotten into a really bad accident when he was 18 and crashed his hot rod Chevy. He was in a coma for 5 weeks and he was clinically dead. To this day, his voice is soft and raspy from having a tracheotomy after the accident. He was adamant that I know that being dead was awesome and that I shouldn’t fear it. He wanted everyone on Tri-pod Island to know that. I could tell his spirit was free and he was one of the most happy people I’ve ever come across. I don’t think anybody could be in a bad mood around Dave. Especially when you find out that death is awesome. Boy, what a load off my mind. What really struck me is that it seemed that although Jim and Dave were there for the eclipse, they were more interested in the people around them.
What really amazed me, was this rest area was full of people and more people were coming as the day wore on. Everyone was considerate and never once was there a problem. People offered to help each other, provide food and drink or some comfort, such as a blanket when they saw someone might need it. That sense of community among strangers was so uplifting and I really felt it. There was no police presence although a few National Guardsmen did a pass-through just to make sure there weren’t any eclipse riots about to break out I guess. During the night, it was quiet as everyone slept in their cars. No loud partying or trouble ever happened. This event unified us. If ONLY what I felt there could be felt by our whole country. There were no divisions there….we were all united for one event and if you could feel the vibes coming off that rest area like I did, maybe you would feel the incredible hope that I had for our country that I felt. If we could all get our noses out of our devices and TALK to each other………I think you see what I’m trying to say here.
I saw a total solar eclipse in 1979 and it was a life experience that I’ll never forget. I was a junior in high school, geek extraordinaire, and a total astronomy buff. Our astronomy teacher helped facilitate our Eclipse Trip with my friends and other astronomy students and not only excused us from class, but gave us extra credits for going. He also ordered us sheets of mylar for us to look through so we wouldn’t have to make pinhole projectors. There were no “eclipse glasses” then! And you know what……our vision is FINE. I find it somewhat comical that there was so much hype over the eclipse glasses (and I even bought into it…..I mean, I knew the mylar was perfectly OK for this, but all the media coverage made me somewhat paranoid.) Anyway, that eclipse experience in ’79 had its miracles as well. It was in February and the weather was really dicey. The cloud cover was such that we really thought our trip to The Dalles was for naught. We pitched tents in what I call The World’s Worst Campground™. It was literally right next to train tracks. The campsites were really really close to the train tracks. And they were busy train tracks. A train came blasting through about every 30 minutes on average and in our tents it felt like the locomotives were running right over us. Of course none of us got any sleep. The next morning we groggily and grumpily decided to find the highest ground possible to view the eclipse if the weather decided to cooperate, and it didn’t look like it would. We managed to find a place overlooking the Columbia Gorge and we could see the town below us. Excellent spot. The clouds persisted though so we were pretty bummed out. But then……as the moon started taking it’s first “bite” out of the sun, the clouds parted like a curtain opening up on a movie show. We were treated to the most spectacular show and as totality neared, we could see the shadow come across the town below us and the street lights come on. And as I tell everyone ad nauseam, no photograph, no matter how good a photographer you are or what kind of equipment you have, EVER does a solar eclipse justice. This is one thing you must witness with your own eyes to appreciate the amazingness of it all. I’ve told Husby my eclipse story many times, but even he didn’t quite see why I was so enamored with the whole experience, and why totality is so important. Truthfully, partial eclipses, even the ones where 99% of the sun gets blocked out, are nothing compared to totality. Totality is a whole different thing and definitely worth seeing. Husby had never seen a total, and after his experience with it yesterday, he admitted to me that NOW he sees what I’m talking about. It’s a big deal.
Anyway, back to 2017. What really made me laugh is that rest area was next to train tracks. Not as close as in ’79, as we had a freeway in between us and the tracks, but nevertheless, the trains blasted through all night and I really didn’t get much sleep. The next morning I groggily and grumpily exited the van with my morning coffee and a blanket and made my way to my chair that I’d set up on Tri-pod Island. And yay, the sky was clear!!!! No doubt we were gonna see this thing! We offered coffee to our friends and we chatted all morning. You could feel the anticipation and excitement all through the rest area. Overnight, many other people came and we were amazed at how packed it had become. It was all orderly and calm though and no one caused any sort of problem. Well except one lady. She was yelling at people with cameras and at Husby directly, “You can’t take my picture! Don’t you dare take my picture! I know the law! I’ll call the police!” Geez, lady, unless you’ve changed your name to Moon Pie and you plan on blocking out the sun yourself, NO ONE WANTS TO TAKE YOUR PICTURE. I guess every crowd needs its psycho.
As I’m sitting and sipping my coffee, my ears caught the sound of bagpipes in the distance. Bagpipes? I love bagpipes! Someone is going to serenade us all on eclipse day! Cool! But then…….I made out the tune these bagpipes were playing……the theme to Star Wars……and I KNEW at that moment that the UNIPIPER was there! I couldn’t believe it. I LOVE THE UNIPIPER! If you’re not familiar with him, he rides on a unicycle in a kilt and a Darth Vader helmet playing the bagpipes, and often they are flaming bagpipes. He’s kind of the unofficial mascot for “Keep Portland Weird” and he was recently on the revived version of the Gong Show.
So let’s recap.
Smooth sailing and bare roads for our trip down
Clear warm weather
Great spot for viewing, approved by retired astronomers
Amazing fun people
AND THE UNIPIPER!
Of all the places the Unipiper could have appeared in Oregon, he appeared at our rest area in Nowheresville. How cool is THAT???? I couldn’t believe our good fortune.
And now for the part you’ve all been waiting for, the eclipse. Mr. and Mrs. Astronomer were stationed at their high tech setup and gave us all the play-by-play as it started to commence. “First bite!” he yelled out as the moon started to enter our field of view. It took quite a while for the moon to completely cover up the sun, and I carefully observed things around me as more and more of the sun got blocked out. It was interesting to note that even at 50% you really couldn’t discern any absence or dimming of sunlight at that point. Even at 75%. When it got to around 90%, the light started to dim noticeably, and it was a really eerie hue. Nothing like you would ever see at dawn or dusk really…..it was really cool. As totality neared the rest area quieted down significantly. As the sun finally got to barely a sliver, everybody started to whoop and holler. Then at totality, Mr. Astronomer yelled “Glasses off!”. We snatched off our eclipse glasses and the whole rest area erupted in a big cheer. We marveled at the spectacle before us and I made sure I absorbed every second of that minute and a half of totality. We saw the shadowbands on the ground, the parking lot lights come on, the stars come out and the temperature dropped 6 degrees. That minute and a half was way too short. Mr. Astronomer yelled “Glasses on!” and we saw the Diamond Ring Effect and totality was over. Everyone came away energized and excited and uplifted. To those that would say “What’s the big deal about an eclipse?”, well, if you were there at the rest area at milepost 335, you would know what the big deal was.
The moment of totality!!
There were people who got in their cars the SECOND after totality ended. You know, the same kind of people who leave a ballgame at the top of the ninth inning. Gotta beat the traffic! In hindsight, they were the smart ones, because the traffic hell we endured on the trip home was not fun at all and the price we had to pay for the perfection we experienced leading up to the eclipse. But it was a price we would gladly pay again for the experience we had.
I made us breakfast on our van cooktop, and we exchanged contact information with our new found friends before we parted ways around 11 am. Unforgettable. As Husby quipped to me this morning, “although the traffic was HELL and it took us 15 hours to get home, it was “TOTALITY” worth it.
Posted at 06:27 PM in Science | Permalink | Comments (0)
First of all, I can't believe it's been nearly a year since I've posted anything! I read my last post from February of last year and wow, yeah, I was having a hard time then. Still am, actually. Nothing's changed, except, I DID try to put Mom in an adult family home, but in the end, I just couldn't do it. Adult family homes are full of people that are REALLY out of it, and my Mom isn't there yet. So I'm still doing the same thing......BUT, things have improved in that I get every 3rd week off and have a care company come in and take over for me. So I get some full weeks at home. SUCH a stress reliever!
The really sad thing is I totally stopped exercising because of the drama at home and at Mom's. I was just too depressed to get off my fat butt. Gained all my 25 lbs back and then some. Sad face indeed. But, I'm climbing back on the wagon, uh, er, treadmill.
But actually the point of this post is something that has gotten my panties in a wad for some time now. Yep. I'm opening a can 'o worms here, but here goes.
It's the Gluten-Free fad. And yes, I'm calling it a fad. Remember the Oat Bran craze? Food manufacturers really got on that bandwagon. Oat bran items were everywhere. Then there was the whole Atkins/Low Carb thing. A low-carb store even opened in my Mom's neighborhood (which is now closed...hmmmm). Then it was the focus on trans-fats. And high fructose corn syrup.
The thing with oat bran is that it's not restrictive.......add oat bran to whatever you want, it's not gonna kill you. Baking with it......well, I don't really recommend that, as a professional baker myself, using oat bran in place of other ingredients, well, just screws it up the recipe, and frankly it tastes like shit. I never found an oat bran recipe that tasted decent. The Atkins/Low Carb thing wasn't/isn't so bad. It gets people to eat more protein and produce and less carbs, which is a good thing. In restaurants it's easy to order low-carb items too. Manufacturers got on the bandwagon by labeling foods that were already low-carb to begin with as "low carb". Gotta love marketing. Trans-fats? I agree, bad, bad. Trans-fats are chemically created by humans, as are genetically modified food and high fructose corn syrup. And the sheer amount of these ingredients in commonly purchased foods is NOT a good thing. Again, it's easy to steer clear of these things by not buying products with high fructose corn syrup, or trans-fats. Just requires a little label reading. As far as genetically modified food, buy organic. But in the case of products produced with GMO's, they aren't required to label it, which is kinda scary. Yeah, those "Corn Puffs" you eat every morning? They could be made with GMO corn, and you'd never know it. The FDA needs to change this.
As a pastry chef, I can tell you, that less than a few years back, not a whole lot of people knew what gluten WAS. In pastry school, I learned about gluten in 1991. About how important it was in the application of producing baked goods. I learned about different flours and how much gluten they contained; for instance, cake flour=low gluten, bread flour=high gluten. Believe me, I know my gluten. And as important as sugar, butter, and eggs......gluten is a tool of my trade. So yeah, I'm a little upset by the gluten-free "fad" because now we have to cater to the self-diagnosed gluten-free consumer. Baking certain items gluten free isn't so bad, like cakes, cookies, brownies, scones, biscuits......anything that doesn't require a high gluten content to begin with. You can easily substitute all-purpose and cake flours with rice flour, soy flour, etc. But when it comes to bread, and I mean GOOD BREAD, people, it's REALLY hard to bake gluten free. And if you do come up with a gluten-free loaf, it's NOTHING like really good artisan bread made the usual way. And it's damn near IMPOSSIBLE to make a good croissant, danish or puff pastry without flour that isn't high in gluten. Those things require it. And if someone is producing gluten free croissants, danish or puff pastry SUCCESSFULLY, then what in the heck is in there, replacing the gluten? One can only imagine.
Sure, restaurants and food manufacturers are making it easier to order and buy gluten free items. Because they have to. If you don't jump on the bandwagon, you're behind the times and you lose sales. Money is the bottom line to them......food trend......go with the flow. The world of food is a low-profit margin business, and manufacturers and restaurants are pretty much forced to follow trends.
I've asked people who are eating gluten free why they are doing it. Some say they do it to lose weight. Well of COURSE going gluten free will help you lose weight. That's because they are replacing gluten rich items (which are also high carbohydrate items) with healthier things, like more veggies and fruits, nuts, seeds, unthickened soups, etc. Sure you're going to lose weight on that kind of diet. It has nothing to do with whether you're eating gluten or not. Some people say they have "self diagnosed" themselves as being "gluten intolerant". I must ask, how did you come to this conclusion? Did you eat gluten free for a week and discover you felt better than you previously did? Why would you say it was because of the gluten? Maybe it's because you made better food choices, like vegetables and fruits that are high in fiber and other nutrients. You eat more healthy whole food, sure you're going to feel better. I'm not against self-diagnosing, but if you are going to go that route, you need to do it right. From research that I have done on this subject, first a person should try eating completely gluten-free for at LEAST two weeks. Then slowly introduce low gluten items back into their diet. Then if they feel OK, have a little more food with higher gluten content, like a piece of french bread. Then if symptoms come back, like gastro-intestinal distress, general malaise, weight gain, headaches, etc. It COULD be gluten intolerance. To really be sure though? See a friggin' doctor. Because the general symptoms of gluten intolerance are also indicators of other problems and diseases. So what ARE the symptoms of gluten intolerance?
If you really read through these symptoms, you come to realize that they are also symptoms of any number of maladies. My mother has Crohn's Disease. A lot of her symptoms are on this list. But her symptoms are not caused by gluten. For one reason or another, she developed this disease over 20 years ago for unknown reasons. It's an auto-immune disorder, which also helped her develop Myasthenia Gravis, another auto-immune disorder. So what I'm really saying is, that self diagnosing isn't really a bad thing, but if you want to be SURE that gluten is your enemy, you can only find that out by a trip to the doctor. They have two tests for this, a blood test, and a biopsy taken from the small intestine.
So if you self-diagnose AND follow up with a doctor's visit and everything points to a gluten allergy, or even celiac disease, then by all means, eliminate your gluten.
Here, though, is the question that I believe trumps all other questions. And that is, would you really have attributed your symptoms to gluten had it not been for all the media hype and coverage about it? Like I said, not too many years ago, nobody really knew what gluten was, or what it did. Now, because so much attention has been drawn to it and explained to the general public, they now think it's a cure-all for symptoms such as being overweight, bloated, exhaustion, achy joints, depression.....see list above.
I also researched another article, which said basically this, if you feel fine, and eat a healthy diet, exercise and have none of the above problems or only some, there is no added health reason to go gluten free.
Sure, I'm depressed, but that's because my life sucks right now. Sure, I've gained weight, but that's because I eat like shit, and don't exercise. Sure, I have achy joints because I have osteo-arthritis. Sure, I'm exhausted because I'm a caregiver and I run two households. Sure, I'm irritable, but that's because my life sucks right now. Sure, I have irregular menstrual cycles, but that's because of menopause. Sure, I have tingling and numbness, because I have carpal-tunnel syndrome. My point here is that it has nothing to do with gluten. People shouldn't be so quick to blame JUST ONE THING, because it could be something else. Bloating? That could point to a possible tumor, for one thing. Decline in dental health? Maybe you don't brush right or floss. Low iron levels? Maybe you're anemic.
I guess my point here is, that people are always looking for the "magic pill". The one solution that will cure everything. That magic pill doesn't exist. As the medical community has pointed out for years.......diet, exercise, stress management and good life choices are the "cure" to most maladies pointed out above. If you do all these things and still don't feel right.......really......go see a doctor. It's the safest thing you can do.
As I said, I'm SURE this will open a can of worms, and I'm certainly not opposed to civil discourse on the matter. But keep the hate speech to yourself; this could indicate narrow mindedness, and irritability, and I would diagnose you as an asswipe.
Posted at 04:35 PM in Food and Drink, Health and Wellness, Science | Permalink | Comments (5)
I guess what's kept me from blogging all this time is that I've waited for things to get better before I post. You know, happy blogging. Nobody wants to read about the latest whine-du-jour. But frankly, things have basically sucked since my last post and have gotten suckier. So it's either post something whiny or post nothing at all.
Ready for the whine fest?
On a positive note, I did lose 25 lbs after joining the gym. My problem now, is that I haven't been to the gym in 2 months and I can't seem to make myself go because I'm so depressed. Remember that word, "depressed" because that's my whole problem in a nutshell. I know exercise elevates one's mood, and I've experienced it, but I just can't seem to break a sweat to be happy. I just want to curl up in a ball and stay in bed all day, getting up is such a chore. Like the rest of my life. A big fat freakin' chore.
I'm still traveling back and forth between Port Townsend and Redmond to take care of my mom. I've been doing this, what, 3 years now? I can't believe it. I'm only home in Port Townsend on the weekends, and I feel like I don't live in any one particular place. Picking up and switching residences every 3-4 days is disconcerting and difficult. I have not just one house but two houses to keep up the chores and finances in and I'm tired, tired, tired.
Mom is doing well physically, but her memory problems are a little worse. She doesn't pick up after herself very well (she waits for me to get there to do it), and she lies to me about what she's doing on the weekends when I'm not there. I know she lies in bed all day, but she tells me she's up and watching TV when we talk on the phone. I wish. Instead, she stays in bed and forgets to take her medicine. Oh, she would do SO MUCH BETTER in assisted living, but she doesn't want to move out of her house. The question is, when do I say, "Mom, I know you don't want to, but you're going into assisted living and that's it." When do you take their independence away? I think the time is now, but it's so hard to just go and make that decision against her will.
Taking care of mom entails cleaning up after, and feeding her, and making sure she takes her medicine. I fill up a month's worth of medisets, each day box having a morning, noon, night, and bedtime compartment. She's pretty good about remembering to take her medicine, but like I say, on the days I'm not there, she'll just sleep all day, and miss her doses. This hasn't seemed to affect her health negatively in any way but it still drives me nuts. So when I'm not taking care of her in Redmond, at home I spend all my time worrying about her. So it's like 24/7 mom, mom, mom.
Over Christmas, my brother and I shipped her off to his house in Minnesota so I could have a break. It was a great break, but the three weeks slipped by so fast. I could use another break. In general, I need a big break. Something that will change this circumstance of mom care. I can't stand to think I'll be doing this another year, or two years or three, or 10.......aaaaaaaaahhhhhh! I wouldn't make it. I'd crumble. I think I'm crumbling now.
Then at home.......well, that's another story. It used to be a place of respite from Mom, but now it's just a place chock full of it's own problems, so I'm never away from some sort of drama. As I write this, I realize, hells yeah, I know why I'm depressed! No big mystery. I'm living in a vortex of misery. No amount of prescriptions can medicate it away. I feel very overwhelmed and trapped at the same time. It's hell. I feel for any person who has to take care of a parent. I know I'm not the only one.
I'm also angry at my mom for putting me through this. She had always said she "didn't want to interfere with my life", but here she is doing just that by being so stubborn and not going into assisted living like a reasonable person. Is it too much to ask her to be reasonable? Yes. She's so out of it, she doesn't realize there's people's lives outside of her own. I'm missing so much time with my husband, and that's something I'll never get back.
I want my life back.
Next chapter, professional counseling. I can't seem to break out of this rut I'm in or make a change in my surroundings. I need to deal with certain people better. I need to be happy or somewhat content. I'll take anything that's better than this.
Hopefully, my next post will be sooner and happier!
Posted at 01:39 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3)
Hi Kids! Long time no bloggy. It's because everything's been the same old, same old........stay with Mom Tuesday through Fridays in Redmond, and back to Port Townsend for the weekends. My life, in short, is in a huge rut.
I'm in a rut spiritually, physically, and emotionally. The spiritual and emotional I can't do much about, but I can bring about change physically. So I figured, I'm at Mom's 4 days a week anyway, why not join a gym? I needed to face the fact that I'm so out of shape I can't even keep up with my 62 year old husband, and I'm 48! I have some poundage on him too. Not much, but enough to be embarrassed about. For crying out loud, you shouldn't outweigh your husband, unless he's a dwarf or something.
So I took the big step and joined 24 Hour Fitness. Hey, it's open 24 hours and it never rains in there, so it takes away two big excuses that I had not to exercise. Time and crummy weather, which here in the good ol' PNW is abundant. The crummy weather that is. So far it's been a cold miserable Spring, and I just don't like walking in inclement weather. It's only 30 bucks a month to belong to the gym, so there's another excuse taken away. That's a pretty good deal, which I can afford.
Made the appointment to talk to the membership counselor, and signed on. I even went the extra step to hire a personal trainer, because when it comes to all things fitness, I'm a moron. I've never been fit in my life, and dammit, I want to be before I turn 50 in 2012. Hopefully the world won't end then. According to the Mayan calendar, as soon as I become fit, the world will end. Luckily I don't believe in the Mayan calendar crap. When I become fit, hell may freeze over but the world won't end.
Do you think a year is enough time for me to become fit and slender? I do. At least I'm realistic. I've been at this daily exercise thing since March 23rd, and I've lost close to 6 lbs already, which isn't too bad. I need to lose about 60 more lbs. It's going to be a haul, but I've decided to do it. Why am I following through this time?
Because I've been around too many sickly old people lately. Because I outweigh my husband. Because I want some energy, and to feel stronger. Because I'm sick of feeling fat. Because I'm sick of mail ordering my clothes from Lane Bryant. Sick sick sick. Lane Bryant clothes are ugly, because they're made to hide folds of fat. Might as well shop at the local tent and awning company really. I want to buy clothes off the rack again.....go to REGULAR (ie. cheap) stores like Target and Wal Mart and just pick anything out that's on sale. Size 1X is for the birds!
I've learned something. When you're out of shape like I am, starting a physical fitness program is HARD. Especially when you have a personal trainer pushing you. The first couple, well, no, make that all the sessions I have with him are intense, and they make me sweat like the late James Brown.
He has me do squats, in three sets of 30, and I can barely finish them. He wants me to be able to do 20 minutes of hard cardio on the elliptical machine or the stair stepper or the treadmill, still which I cannot do. I can manage 10 minutes on the elliptical and then my legs give out. My goal is to work up to 20 minutes but I can't do it right now. What I can do is a good 35 minutes on the treadmill, and another 30 minutes on the exercise bike, which equals about an hour of medium to upper cardio for me (according to my heart rate).
Marcus, my trainer, is a good guy, although he's mean to me. He makes me do stuff I don't think I can do. But I'm not one to say "I can't", I'm more one to say, "I will" or "I'll try". And I do. Marcus is young and cute (not to mention fit), and I'm not about to wimp out on such a young 'un. I've still got enough ego in these folds of fat to push my own limits. Geez, I remember when I was running and jumping around as a kid, with no effort at all, and now I have to re-learn the effortlessness again. I want to be able to run a reasonable distance without collapsing on the ground, clutching my chest.....is that too much to ask?
Of course Marcus had to laugh when he found out my trade was Pastry Chef. I'm his biggest challenge. And he's making ground meat outta me. He makes me write down all the food I eat in a journal and he checks it. At first he was disgusted with my eating habits, like half and half in my coffee, and bread all over the place. He scowled as he looked over my journal the first time, grumbling "this is crap, this is crap and this is crap." Well, duh, how do you get to my condition if you don't constantly eat crap?
So my eating crap is definitely on hold. No bread, no rice, no corn, no potatoes, no sugar, no pasta. More fruits and veg, fiber and protein. It's been hard, since I'm not much of a meat eater. Not that I dislike meat, I just dislike preparing it. I'm bad with meat.........I either undercook it or overcook it, and either one is just plain yukky, so I stick with what I know, fruits and veg. They're easy to eat, cook, and or prepare. I'm bad with fish too. REALLY bad. I've got a freezer full of fish out in the garage, but I'm so scared I'll screw it up, I don't cook it. I know I should eat more fish. Did I mention chicken? I can actually DO chicken, but dammit it has to be skinless. I love chicken skin! But it's pure fat. Sigh.
In my journal, I had written down that I ate an innocent hard boiled egg. And Marcus says, "did you eat the yolk?" and I said, "Well of COURSE!" and he says, "after all that work, you want to put a ball of yellow fat in your body? That's all it is is cholesterol and fat. You don't want that do you?" And I'm like "well no". But inside I'm thinkin', "who eats a hard boiled egg white?" Apparently a lot of people that don't include me. So scratch hard boiled eggs for me. Without the yolk, they're tasteless little orbs of tastelessness. And secretly, yes, I DO want to put a little yellow ball of fat inside my gut. It's yummy.
I thought I'd be more self conscious working out at a gym. But it turns out there's people there of all sizes. True, most of them are fit, but there's balls of flab there just like me, and some are worse off than me. And most people are there just concentrating on their workouts, not trolling for dates, or flexing muscles for the sake of flexing muscles. There ARE mirrors everywhere, so you can't avoid looking at your bod when you're working out. There must be some psychological reason for this, and right now, I don't appreciate looking at my flab as I struggle on a weight machine or exercise ball. But those mirrors do keep you grounded, and say to me, "see why you're here?" Oh yeah.
This blog entry is about pastry, as in, too much of it can lead you down my path. I haven't baked in months and I miss it. I won't be baking for several more months either. Would be too much of a slippery slope. I remember the days when I worked in pastry and people would say "how do you stay so thin?" When they stopped asking me, I knew I wasn't skinny anymore. And that was a long time ago.
So here I go, starting on my quest to be fit, not fat. Strong, not weak, Smokin' hot, not some dumpy housewife. Marcus kicks my ass. And if I pay him more money, he'll keep kicking my ass. And soon, I'll kick my own ass.
6 lbs down, 64 to go.
Posted at 05:25 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5)
I haven't totally abandoned this blog. It's just there isn't much pastry going on in my life right now, and this blog is supposed to be about all things pastry plus extra bonuses, like how great my life is. Ha.
Actually I did get to do a little pastry work at The Famous Northwest Catering Co. in the Madison Park area of Seattle over the Christmas holidays. I got to reprise my role of working with the famous, ass-kicking Jewlz, who in her words calls herself "chumpy". If being a great pastry chef who cranks out delicious and numerous goodies on a seemingly effortless basis is "chumpy", then I'm less than chumpy. I aspire to be chumpy.
It was fun to work with Jewlz, and not have to sit around with Mom all day. No offense Mom, but you're not the most exciting company in the world these days. More on that later.
Christmas for the catering co. was very very busy, and Jewlz' regular assistant chose that particular time to go to China for two weeks. What I did was travel into the city on Tuesdays like usual to stay with Mom, I worked with Jewlz on Wednesdays and Thursdays, then went back to Port Townsend on Friday. I did this for two weeks. Like I said it was fun, and good to get my hands back in the dough again. I felt far more useful doing that, than watching my Mom just veg her life away.
I made dozens of mini tart shells, cookie doughs, macaroons, batters, tea breads, etc. What I found interesting was the "if you don't use it" you lose it syndrome. Things didn't come to me as easily as they used to, and I was extra careful not to make a mistake, so I worked a bit slower than I usually do, but I did pretty well for a kitchen I wasn't used to. That kitchen was definitely stuffed to the rafters with ingredients, dishes, baskets, equipment, etc. Things were behind things that were behind things that were behind things. The walk in refrigerator was the fullest walk in I'd ever seen, and when I first went in there, I thought I'd never find what I was looking for. Eventually I stopped being overwhelmed by it, and just dug around for stuff like everybody else did. I was amazed that such a relatively small space could crank out so much food. I've worked in larger spaces that didn't do nearly the production.
I don't have nearly the self-confidence in a kitchen as I used to. Kitchens used to be my "comfortable place", now they're my "nervous place". I think getting back to work is the only way I'll get my mojo back.
To be blunt, my life sucks right now. I've been caring for my mom for over 2 years, and it's kinda taken it's toll on me. The traveling back and forth, 2 hours each way, not including the ferry ride, the cost in gas and ferry fare, the time lost at home, missing my husband, not being able to work, being responsible for mom's well-being and her household chores as well as mine at home....well, it's just too much. Things have to change.
I've called my brother in to help me with the task of convincing Mom that she needs to go into assisted living. This will not be easy. Mom is adamant about staying in her own house, but the fact is, the only way she's able to do that is because of what I'm doing. I can't continue it anymore, so we have to come up with alternative solutions. She has to stay near Group Health territory, since that is her health care provider, so having her come live with us is out of the question. Besides, none of us would be happy with that. Mom needs more socialization, not isolation, as is the situation now. When I'm not at her house on the weekends, she is totally alone, and does nothing but sit on the couch and watch TV in her pajamas. She barely eats, and doesn't take care of herself very well. Surely, there has to be a better life for her than that. I can't provide her with 24/7 care and activities, which is what she really needs, and assisted living seems to be the only solution that I can come up with. My brother and I need to do an "intervention" of sorts. I'm really glad he's coming out to help me with this, because I've been slowly going crazy for a while now.
He'll be out after the middle of February and it can't come soon enough. Hopefully things will be looking different and better soon.
We now resume our regularly scheduled suckage.
Posted at 01:55 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)
Well, due to the poor economy I guess, the host of my blog, Vox, is closing at the end of September, so I've had to move my blog over to this Typepad thingy. It's a major pain in the ass to learn and I'm cranky about it. Why can't things just stay the same?
I've always wondered why old people seemed cranky. Now I think I know. It's change! I've mastered setting the clock on my VCR so it doesn't flash 12:00 all the time, but who needs a VCR? I need a Blu Ray and a plasma TV but can't afford those and that also makes me cranky.
I do have a new computer and cell phone though. If it weren't for iPhone 4 fever, which my husband and I caught, we wouldn't have upgraded at all. We were one of the first in line for the iPhone 4 on launch day, and we were so happy with our purchases......until we found out our phones were not compatible with our "old" computers. Now I don't know if it's just 'cause I'm old and crabby, or what, but I don't think 10 years is old. To me, OLD, for an object, is like 30 years. My parent's dishwasher lasted 30 years. That's how long things should last.......til you can afford a new object. I didn't think my 10 year old computer was "old". It was working just fine for me! But I guess 10 was bordering on obsolete for Apple.
So, in order for us to sync our phones to our computers (and you have to be able to do that, especially with an iPhone), we had to get new computers. Yay. Sort of. I was really attached to my old "basketball iMac".....it had so much character. Now I have a new iMac and it's speedy and cool, but nowhere as cool looking as my basketball. I haven't yet parted with it......it's on my back desk, just in case I need it or just want to look at it. Soon though, it will make the trip over to my Mom's to replace her computer which is an iMac G3, which is WAY old.......so old in fact, that you can't even give the things away. I absolutely HATE our "disposable" way of life these days. The world is a big oil slicked garbage heap.
On the subject of dishwashers, we had to replace our "old" dishwasher this summer also. It was just over 10 years old too. Why can't they make things like they used to? I'm sure this new dishwasher we bought will bite the dust even sooner than our "old" one did. I can tell. It just "feels" cheap and flimsy.
So if you wonder why old people are cranky it's because nobody makes quality stuff anymore (well, maybe except Apple), and we don't like change. Change just means we have to learn something. I'm too cranky to learn anything new and learning new things makes me cranky. It's a vicious circle.
Sorry about the small font. As far as I can tell, there's nothing I can do about it, except get out my reading glasses.
Now you kids get off of my lawn.
Posted at 03:46 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)
Posted at 05:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
Posted at 03:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)
The Village Baker bakery and all it's entities are now closed. Recession blues, and being in a tourist town in the off season took it's toll. My stepson is now out of a job. To say he is bummed is an understatement.
To all my ex-coworkers, I hope you find other employment soon. I know it's not going to be easy here. Especially now.
I'm very sad about all this........not a great thing to happen just before the holidays.
Take care my friends!
Posted at 12:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
Well, kids, my good buddy Rick who owns Cakelava in Hawaii, has asked me to be his assistant in a Food Network Cake Challenge. I'm going to do it. He's the main competitor......I'll just be the dork in the background, but that's good enough for me! I have to be all hushy hush about the details, but it will be a challenge that's right up my alley. I promise I'll tell ya all about it as soon as it's ok for me to do so...........
Posted at 03:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)