Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pink-tober and the "Girls"

My OBGYN recently gave me an authorization slip for my annual mammogram. I told her that this year I was thinking about skipping it. I've been having one, almost without fail, for over 20 years. I've had false positives, been sent to the surgeon for evaluation ("You're going to stick a needle where? No, think not..."), been called back for re-checks ("Come back in six months and we'll look again."),  I've been told I had dense breasts. I've been told that they're not dense. I've been told that the type of breast cancer my mother had was not a genetic disease. I've been told the radiologist had to keep an eye on some calcifications. I've been told that calcifications are normal unless they're looking like they're getting organized. So far, they're not. My OBGYN felt no lumps and neither have I. I hardly take a Tylenol without being concerned about side-effects. What must 20 plus years of radiation aimed directly at the girls be doing to me? Do I seem confused? Not a decision to take lightly. My OBGYN told me that some of her other patients my age (over 60) are re-thinking the annual trip to the radiologist for the "squeeze". She didn't think it was unreasonable and didn't seem especially troubled if I chose to skip a year. Now, I wouldn't want anyone to take this as medical advice. We should all consult our own physicians on a regular basis and make these decisions with professional advice. I've been on a reduced carbohydrate food program (of my own design) since May and I've lost ten pounds and dropped my triglycerides by 40 points.  October is a great time to be reminded that we need to be aware of our health and take good care of ourselves. Now for some pink...



Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hidden Garden Jewel of Salem

The Nathaniel Ropes mansion on Essex Street in Salem, Massachusetts was built around 1720 and purchased by Judge Ropes in 1748. Judge Ropes (a British sympathizer) was dying from smallpox when the home was stormed by locals who were infuriated by the Tea Tax - although some accounts of history indicated that it was the fact that the judge had been inoculated with smallpox in an effort to be vaccinated against it. There is some indication that there was anger toward the judge by people both not able to afford the procedure and those who believed that he brought smallpox to their village. Either way, the judge died very soon after the attack. Some believe that his daughter Abigail's spirit still inhabits the house because of the awful way she perished...burned to death after her night dress caught fire. In spite of its sad history, this beautiful home is now owned by the Peabody Essex museum. Our trolley driver pointed the house out to my husband and me and told us about the lovely garden that lay behind a large wisteria covered gate. It's one of the hidden jewels of Salem and not to be missed. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Chouette chouette

I studied the french language all the way through elementary school and high school. That's 12 years, and more than half of my life by the time I graduated at the age of 17. We didn't learn much slang. Conjugating verbs was challenging enough. I know, as time goes on, street slang is added to every day language. "Cool" describes the temperature but just as often it describes something nice, wonderful, awesome (ugh...), terrific. It's a temperature - something can also be smok'in hot. I get it. But where did the French ever get the idea that the same word for "owl" should also be used as an alternative to "cool" or "smashing" or ugh..."awesome"!  I knitted a little "Chouette" for my 2 year old grandson (at his mom's request). I assumed la chouette was the french word for owl...I thought perhaps it meant "baby owl" so I looked it up. It was not a vocabulary word that was filed away in my brain somewhere. "Ou est la chouette?" "La chouette est tres belle." Nada. I finished it in a couple of days. It's a cool owl.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Passive Gardening

I did plant a few things in my garden this year. One was one hill of Charentais melons. They are a French heirloom that I bought from Baker Creek Seed Company. The reason I decided to try to grow Charentais was first, because they had a short growing season and I had a pretty good chance of ripening some before it got too cold. And second, because they were described as very sweet and a green market favorite. I'd never even seen one and wondered how I'd know when they were sweet. Have no fear - all you have to do is sniff. They are like a small, honey sweet cantaloupe without the netted skin. They have small seeds, they're very juicy and I had half of one for dessert last night.

Now this big boy was a complete surprise. It took me a while to figure out what he was and where he came from as I certainly didn't plant him. When I first saw the huge leaves and aggressive vines start to pop up, I thought for sure he was going to be spaghetti squash from the mistake I made a few years ago - before I was in the habit of buying one every week. I planted too many and they took over the whole patch. I couldn't even give them away. When it appeared that the squash hanging from my fence was a pumpkin, I was totally surprised but I let him live. He bullied his way through the cucumbers (who fought back valiantly with a crop I couldn't keep up with). But he was on his own. No other pumpkins evolved from those giant flowers.
 So, gradually, through the summer, my pumpkin turned from a pallid white to a creamy tan. And then I knew what he was and how he got into my garden. Two years ago I bought a lovely Long Island Cheese pumpkin from my local grocer. I bought it to sit on my doorstep because of its perfect shape and color. By Christmas, of course, he was compost and I never thought of him again. Until this summer when he arrived, unexpectedly in my garden patch. He's perfectly formed because he's another heirloom variety.

And boy, didn't I break my back to get all these lovely figs. Well, I did have a bit of trouble transplanting the tree into a larger pot when it kept falling over last summer. It was my son who actually worked the hardest when he picked the pot up out of the garage in May and dropped it next to the patio. I watered, spread some organic fertilizer and voila, figs!

When it's time to make my Blackberry Vodka, I'll show you my harvest from my canes. It's in the freezer for now. I think I need to put my feet up and knit for a while.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Anticipating Autumn

Anticipating Autumn


....doesn't have quite the ring to it as...

......waiting for Spring, does it?

.....while we wait for a birth...."they're awaiting the stork"...'s been said that one anticipates a hurricane, snow, a death...
sorry to sound so dreary, but

....I shush my husband when he mentions that the pool must be closed up before the leaves fall

.....and we've had our last party for the Summer

.....and I'm anticipating being cold and needing a new sweater...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"But, What about the MS?" What about it?

I kind of tend to forget that my blog posts appear on a group post with other bloggers who have MS. Would I prefer to forget this disease? Damned straight. And, much of the time I'm able to push it to the bottom of the list of things that bug me. Which is wonderful because it plagued me big time for the better part of two decades. Now, I wasn't as sick as many people but I was a whole lot sicker than many others. My eyes crossed on their own, my face hurt, I lost my sight many times. The fatigue was so bad at times, I'd have to be driven home from work and head straight to bed. When my legs were affected, they felt as heavy as the legs on my dining room table. And when I needed to bring my cane with meto work, that spelled the end of my career. In Human Resources. I know..I could have brought a discrimination suit against them. But I was fed up with my boss and the nasty "corporate"  atmosphere at work anyway and had a young stepson who needed me at home. What about now, almost 30 years after I was diagnosed? Most of the time, I eat way better than the average American. I don't mix Cheerios with Lucky Charms because, for the most part, I don't eat wheat, or oats or any grain at all. I try not to eat sugar except on special occasions. I've used no fat to cook except butter or olive oil for almost 15 years. Now I mostly use coconut oil. I eat beef (finally found some grass-fed that I can access easily), organic chicken, wild caught salmon. I put my pasta sauce on spaghetti squash instead of macaroni.  I eat plenty of vegetables (not corn) raw and cooked and I treat myself to a light beer with my husband every evening before dinner. I exercise at my local YMCA doing their water workout. I got orthotics which helped my balance (we work on balance at the end of the water workout also - it is helping a lot). I try to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep. I cheat (ice cream!) once in a while and my digestive tract lets me know later on. I don't know how much my life style affects the MS. I haven't noticed a direct correlation. I do know that I didn't get any worse when I stopped taking the Avonex, then the Betaseron injections. After I stopped taking them (mostly because they were so constipating) I had a few years of IBS before I got my gut flora straightened out. I think the meds caused the IBS. I don't advise anyone to stop their medication. I just know that, for now, I'm holding my own without it - against my own doctor's advice.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Happy Accident and Summer Spinning

A happy accident took over my little garden. It's so light I'm guessing it's a white pumpkin. I think if it were going to be orange, it would be greener. I'm guessing since I've never planted pumpkins.

I did, however, plant sunflowers last year. I dried the heads and popped them on the fence posts for the birds. A few came up and I moved two of them where passersby could see their faces.

An extra patio tomato plant ended up in the herb garden with the Echinaceas.
My first hand-spun skein of Merino wool. I think it's going to be a little toy.
Blue faced Leicester and silk My first real attempt at spindle spinning. A little thick and not too soft but very shiny, nonetheless. I love summer colors.