Thursday, May 31, 2012

Flirting with My Diet

Not too long ago, I wrote about Venus Williams being diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome. It was the reason she dropped out of competition for a period of time. She was suffering from fatigue and muscle weakness.

Sjogren's is an autoimmune condition. It causes your immune system to turn on you, attacking the mucus producing glands. Among the major symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth. It can also be linked to arthritis-like symptoms, fatigue and muscle weakness (as Venus had). It is not curable, but there are steps you can take to mitigate the symptoms.

I was diagnosed with Sjogren's some years ago. I visit the dentist often to deal with the dry mouth, which leads to increased dental problems. I use prescription eye drops to deal with dry eyes. As I get older, I wonder if some of the fatigue I feel might be due to Sjogren's.

The other day I read an interview in which Venus was discussing what she had done to feel better and get back into the game. Her answer was her diet; she has become a vegan. She has given up meat, dairy and sugar. I thought maybe I should look into this. So, I have been reading these two books.

I definitely don't think I can jump into this change cold turkey (or cold tofu), but I will try what Alicia describes as "flirting" with it. I am going to try some of the ingredients and recipes in the books and see how it goes. I'm sure that eating more vegetables, especially leafy greens, is a good idea in any case.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Coming of Age

I came of age in the 60s and 70s. I am a child of that era. Woodstock, disco, Peter Max, the Beatles, Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, The Rolling Stones... all of it.

My favorite actress was Julie Christie. I wanted so badly to look like her.

One of my favorite movies was "Fahrenheit 451". I loved the futuristic, stylistic look of it; the house, the monorail, the firetruck, and of course Julie Christie... and the fact that it was made by Francois Truffaut.

I loved Francois Truffaut's movies...

and a French movie called "A Man and A Woman". It was the sexiest movie I had ever seen.

And the music:

I loved Earth, Wind and Fire...

and Sly and the Family Stone. I saw them in concert when I was in college.

Peter Max... his art exemplifies the 60s and 70s to me.

The colors... the images... so original, and energetic. It feels like youth!

Speaking of youth... the fashion:

I wanted a coat just like the one Audrey Hepburn wore in "Breakfast at Tiffany's". It was orange and shaped a bit like these...

It was Givenchy...

Of course, there was the disco. Saturday nights were for dancing.

I had a dress that looked a lot like this, perfect for doing "the Hustle".

The 60s and 70s... no computers, no cell phones, no internet. We thought we were so modern. It was a turbulent time and an interesting time to be alive. I had a lot of fun. I'm glad I was alive then.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sarah's Graduation

Sarah (my niece) graduated from 8th grade at her Montessori school on Thursday. It's a small school; there were three girls in her class. Next year she goes to high school!

As you can see, Sarah is small for her age (15 next month). "Small but mighty" you might say; she is a champion gymnast. Earlier this year she won first place in the state in her level. Her bedroom is filled with trophies and medals.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In the Law Office

Oh dear. We saw a lawyer today about Mom and David's situation regarding Medicare and Medicaid and estate planning. Now I have a lot of legalese running around inside my head. If he stays in the nursing home more than 100 days, Medicare runs out and Medicaid takes over. That's if they qualify for Medicaid. Qualifying for Medicaid has a complicated set of rules. How to arrange things so they are able to live the best life possible? It's not simple.

After I got home, I needed a chance to review my notes and let it all sink in. My mom called to hear what we found out. My sister called. Then another sister called. We have to get some matters clarified by finding the files of the attorney that my mom and Dave used. Problem is, their attorney died earlier this year and we are not sure what happened to his files. Then my mom called and told me her accountant wants to talk to me tomorrow about some "missing money". Yikes!

The plot continues to thicken...

Monday, May 21, 2012

I Found It!

I found my recipe! It's located in this book (circa 1977) which was hiding in a box in my basement. I love these ribs! In case you would like to try it, here it is:

Chinese Smoked Ribs

6 pounds pork loin back ribs or spareribs
The rub:
2 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/8 tsp. dry mustard

Throughly rub the ribs with the rub mixture and let stand two hours. In covered grill, place slow coals on both sides of drip pan (we use foil). Place ribs bone side down on grill and cover grill (we use a Weber kettle). Grill about 30 minutes, turn and grill on other side about 30 minutes.

The Sauce
1/2 cup catsup
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 T. soy sauce
1 T. grated fresh ginger root or 2 tsp. ground ginger
1 clove garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients in saucepan; heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.
Brush on both sides of ribs and grill uncovered, until done, about another 10 to 15 minutes

The recipe says to use hickory chips and soak them for about an hour first. I have never done this, though; I just use regular charcoal.

I love these ribs! They are sweet and spicy and sticky. The rub makes them very tender and the sauce makes a great flavor. The turmeric makes your hands turn orange... but it washes right off.
The turmeric is very good for you too, I hear!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Lost My Recipe!

I used to make BBQ spare ribs fairly often, but for some reason it's been a while. Now I can't find my favorite, no-fail recipe. I can't even remember which cookbook it was in. I think it was an old Weber grill cookbook. I remember it talked about direct heat and indirect heat, and it had this fabulous recipe for spare ribs. It involved a dry rub; I can't remember all the ingredients but I know one was turmeric because my hands always turned orange. I think it also had sugar and salt. Then there was a sauce that you cooked in a saucepan and put on the ribs at the last minute of cooking.

I can't find that recipe anywhere! I have donated some of my cookbooks to the library, and I'm afraid I donated that one, not realizing it contained my favorite recipe. I went to the library today and looked, but I didn't see anything that looked familiar. I found two other Weber cookbooks in my collection, but neither of them has this recipe. Can anyone help? Does anyone have a recipe that sounds like this? Does anyone have an old Weber grill book you can check? I would love to have this recipe again.

Now You Need a Lawyer to Get Old

Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Power of Attorney, Living Will, etc., etc., etc.

I am trying to help my Mom navigate old age. Her husband is in a nursing home now, and she is very confused. How long will Medicare pay for him? What about Medicaid "spend down"? What will she be responsible for? What part should his children play in his care?

My sisters and I have come up with a lot of questions, but not many answers. One sister is too far away. Another sister is busy with teaching school and grandchildren. Another sister is busy with three active girls and all of their activities. So, I have taken on the task of finding an attorney to answer our questions and guide Mom. I have an appointment with an Elder Law attorney on Wednesday, in Ohio because that's where Mom lives and where the nursing home is located.

In the meantime, they have sent me a package full of materials and a long questionnaire to complete. There is a lot of information that I will have to get from Mom, and sometimes she has a hard time finding the papers and documents. I think this is going to get more difficult before it gets easier.

This is one of those issues that you don't think much about until it's upon you. Then you find out you have a lot in common with many others your age. I have spoken to more than one person who has gone through this with their parents. It has made me think about my own aging process, too. My husband and I have long-term care insurance. We attended a Medicare seminar last year, and I have been saving information about Social Security and Medicare. I am thinking now; where will I be five years from now? Ten years from now? Twenty years from now? It's a lot to think about.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Time Is It?

I got this idea from Rachel of "Slow Lane Life". She has a clock on her mantel that is right only twice a day. I have a clock like that, too. This is a tall, wooden clock that I love. It actually came with our house in Pennsylvania; the previous owner left it for us. It stood in the entry and was the first thing you saw when you came in the front door. It never has told the time (maybe that's why she left it). The front opens, but there is no place to put in a battery. Oh well, I just set the hands to any time that feels right.

The little mouse was a Christmas decoration. I liked it there, so it stays on the clock now.

While I was photographing the clock, I caught two of my cats in poses I liked, so I am posting them, too. (This is a spur-of-the-moment kind of post.)

This is Munchkin, posing on a little rug. If you set a rug on the floor, a cat will sit on it.

This is Tiger, doing his "Princess and the Pea" impersonation. I guess this post does have a theme, after all: both the clock and the cats are decorative.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day

Every year my mom's church holds a Mother-Daughter banquet on the Friday before Mother's Day. My sister had to work so I drove two of my nieces up to attend. In this photo are Mom, one sister and four nieces.

On Mother's Day we all gathered at my sister's house.

The men gathered around the grill.

My nieces were having fun, and holding a dress rehearsal for a "dress like a character" day at school.

As I've been reporting, Mom has been having a rough time recently, with David's failing health. Mother's Day was a pleasant break and I think she had a nice time.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Once A Year Is Not Enough

Sadly, I am not a mom. We tried infertility treatment, four years of IVF, but finally gave up because of financial and emotional reasons. I love children, though. I swoon over babies now without feeling sorry for myself. I have nieces that are like daughters to me and the older they get the more I appreciate them. I can see from how hard my sister works that being a mom is a FULL-TIME job, and I admire moms a lot. Plus, I still have my own mom to celebrate Mother's Day with. So, to all the moms who read this... enjoy your day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Finding Balance

I've written before about my 88-year old mom. She's having a rough time; her husband David is declining into dementia and recently suffered a stroke. He had been staying at his son's house, where his son and son's wife were caring for him; now he has been moved to a hospital.

My mom is now alone in their house. The hospital is thirty miles from her, and she is not comfortable driving on the interstate. My sister is driving up today to take her to the hospital to visit David. I am driving up tomorrow to take my nieces to a Mother's Day banquet at Mom's church.

As you can tell, we are doing a lot of driving back and forth to help Mom (about an hour away). My sister has asked our mom to move in with her family; they have a separate suite in their walkout basement. It will be easier when Mom is living here. However, she doesn't want to leave her and David's house yet. She doesn't know what will happen with him; it now looks like he may not come back home.

I have found relief from stress and worry through exercise at the YMCA. I woke up this morning with little energy, but I made myself get dressed and drive to the Y. I started the class feeling fatigued, but ended up feeling energized. Also, I struck up a conversation with a woman in the class who has experienced similar issues with her mother. It helped my physically and emotionally.

I'm going to make every effort to get to the Y to exercise on a regular basis. I think I am finding a sense of balance.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sick Kitty

One of the little black kitties in this photo is sick. Her eye is infected and she is sneezing. We want to catch her and take her to the vet, but catching a feral cat is a problem. We put the no-kill trap out a few nights ago, but caught a different cat. This could go on for quite a while because there are a dozen of them out there. We tried catching her in a big net but she is too fast. I'm thinking of throwing a blanket over her, but she runs when she sees us coming.

We want to help her, but we have to catch her first. She and her littermates are among the friendliest of the feral cats. They will come close to us when we hold treats out. One of them was friendly enough to be adopted and lives with us (Munchkin). This sick kitty is Munchkin's sister and we really would like to help her. Does anyone have any ideas?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Avengers... No, Not That One, The Other One

Does anyone remember the original "Avengers" from the 1960s? The British TV show starring Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg? It was stylish and very, very cool. An unlikely pair of crime fighters, the eccentric John Steed and sexy, intelligent Emma Peel got involved in the most fascinating capers, sometimes bordering on sic-fi. It was cleverly written and slyly acted. Every time I hear about "The Avengers" now, that's what I remember.