Still 2016, some thoughts on the election

I don’t think anyone can accuse me of writing too much or too often on my blog.

Regarding this presidential election: dayum. I started out as a Bernie supporter and wouldn’t I love to see his name on the ballot! Not gonna happen. He threw his support behind Hillary and I still trust his judgment, so that is my choice as well. Not that there is any real likelihood of me ever voting for Drumpf. Not in this election or any other election. I did take a look at 3rd party candidates. Johnson didn’t know what Aleppo was? And Jill Stein may have decent credentials but, seriously, not likely to beat Drumpf. Truly, I believe it is not a good year for a protest vote. Too much at stake.

Drumpf’s behavior, IMHO, barely qualifies him to be a human being, much less the president of the US of A. Hillary isn’t perfect but she has the kind of experience that it will take to keep our country great. And her ability to stay calm while under fire is impressive. Definitely can’t say the same for Drumpf.



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Quite a lot has changed since the last post – time has passed, location has changed, people, places, faces! In the summer of 2014 I had the opportunity to move to Missouri with my job, so I did! Part of my plan was to be closer to my fella – in North Dakota. While it did look closer on the map, with my typical lack of attention to pertinent detail, it really wasn’t much closer at all. However, it has given me the chance to experience a bit more wintry weather than central Texas offers. Some other surprising benefits occured as a result – got rid of the house I bought which kept me mired in debt, gained at least 2 hours back in my work day by eliminating that hour long commute. Also sold, gave away, or threw away an incredible amount of stuff that accumulated in my ten years at one address! Rather liberating!

This whole journey started late in 2013 when a Facebook message appeared from a certain amazing man I knew from about 1980. Interestingly, neither of us can quite recall just how, when, or where, exactly, we first met. Probably in a bar. Alcohol was pretty much the central feature of both our lives at that time. Fortunately, that is no longer the case. We had sporadically kept up with other with a Christmas card now and then but it had been maybe 10 years. This time, though, we were both single and both happy to be single! And one thing has led to another. We are planning to spend the rest of our single lives together, by choice and desire. I get to retire this June and will be relocating to ND. Fortunately, Paul’s oldest son, and his only grandkids, live in San Antonio – my hometown of choice – so I’ll get to visit the sacred soil of my native state periodically! And there’s some discussion of becoming winter Texans in the future.

Life is good! And rarely dull!

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Cyber Rock September 2013

Cyber Rock September 2013

Honestly, 63 may be my best year to date! The Vortex had a fun revue of Chad Salvata’s cyber operas, many of which featured Mick D’arcy in an assortment of roles. In the early years of our relationship, Mick sucked me into the Vortex helping out with costumes and I met so many wonderful people! Really enjoyed getting to see some of the original cast members and some of the costumes that survived the years! Lots of memories in this show! Photo is by Kay.

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63 is not bad!

63 is not bad!

J August 2013
My dear friend Winston took this photo this summer and it may be my favorite photo ever. I think it captures a bit of me many people never see! Particularly, it reflects how well life is treating me and how good it is to be alive and well!

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Living life in a whole new way!

I went out with friends to my favorite TexMex last night and didn’t eat any tortilla chips; I talked over gluten-free options with the waitress and chose one (which was kick-ass yummy!) and had a side salad instead of rice and beans. (For a San Antonio girl, this was no mean feat.) Having weighed in at 132 pounds yesterday morning definitely gave me some motivation for staying on track with the healthier eating life style I adopted earlier this year!

Of course, choosing this life style was not exactly something I had sought — it was a desperate attempt to be free of pain. Nothing like it for motivation, I have to say! I started the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) in February this year after the doctors couldn’t find any explanations for the abdominal pains that were waking me up at night and keeping me home from work at least a couple of days a month. The only advice they kept giving me was to “lose 30 pounds” and they kept handing me brochures on nutrition and exercise. I already ate the “SAD” (Standard American Diet) their brochures advocated, for the most part, and exercise? Ick. So I did a lot of research on Irritable Bowel Syndrome because that seemed to be what my symptoms reflected. I learned about the GAPS diet (Guts and Psychology Syndrome) and from there discovered the SCD.

I read Elaine Gottschall’s book “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” and her theories made sense to me. I also bought 3 cookbooks that were a big help. There is plenty of information on the internet and lots of recipes available. (The Paleo/Primal/Caveman diet is very similar and has lots of awesome recipes available! I download free e-cookbooks onto my Kindle daily and read them during my daily commute; always been a big fan of reading cookbooks for inspiration!)

Started out slowly at first, eating up the “not legal” odds and ends still in my pantry and fridge while starting to purchase more of the “legal” options and definitely spending a lot more time in the kitchen. Dang. Making my own yogurt, salsa, tomato sauce, almond meal pizza crust. And enjoying it. Leaving out the tortilla chips in my migas. Little things here and there.

I felt better immediately!

Anybody who knows me even a little knows how much I love to eat. The great thing about the SCD for me has been that there are so many wonderful things that are “legal” and being able to focus on what I *could* eat kept me from lamenting what I shouldn’t eat. It helped that when I did eat something that wasn’t good for me my body protested immediately! Amazingly, the cravings and false hungry feelings went away within a couple of weeks because I was actually getting filled up on delicious food that was loaded with good nutrition.

I’m not 100% SCD; giving up coffee is not an option and I put a heaping 3 teaspoons of honey (local and unfiltered, of course) and a goodly tablespoon of half and half (organic, naturally) in my one enormous cup of coffee every morning. Stevia and almond milk are just not acceptable substitutes for me. Pretty much stick to SCD legal in everything else.

By the end of February, I made a thorough sweep of foodstuffs in my kitchen and pulled out everything that wasn’t allowed on the SCD plan and gave it away to a coworker who was delighted to get the 3 grocery bags full of food!

By the beginning of summer, I lost 30 pounds and hadn’t lost a single sick day from belly issues. I signed up for the local summer water aerobics class. That got me started into moving and enjoying it. I love yoga and do it in fits and starts. Not really great at motivating myself to work out at home. By the end of summer I’d dropped another 10 pounds and was trying to figure out what to do since water aerobics ends when school begins.

Ended up using the gym at my workplace. This used to be a fairly dismal option but a coworker assured me it had recently improved and met me there one morning to show me how to use some of the equipment. It had improved! The room was bigger and there was more equipment and it just seemed more user-friendly and had a good stereo. Plus there were very few people there at 6:50 AM! My bus drops me off downtown at about 6:45 AM so now instead of walking up the hill to plop down on my butt in my cubicle and catch up on email and FB  until work begins at 7:30, I head for the gym.

I would not exactly call it “working out” because I don’t suit up and barely get a good glow on (nice way to say work up a sweat). I use some of the equipment for working on my legs and abs and the very lightest (3 pound) weights for some simple arm routines. I love the stationary bike with the levers for keeping your arms going (and the fan on my hot-flashy face!) and the elliptical cross trainer is a pretty good option for me. I just discovered the rowing machine last week and love it! At 7:20 I stop and walk up 2 flights of stairs to my cubicle.

Results: 8 more pounds have melted away this month and I’d swear I have less belly sag! Also more alert during the day and sleeping much better in the evenings!

I do some light movement on my own on weekends and have definitely developed the ability to just say no to anything that isn’t allowed on my food plan. It’s no hardship at all now that I’m in the groove.

It is hard not to judge sometimes when I see my coworkers consume the plates of bagels, cookies, cheesecake bites, etc., that disappear rapidly every time someone brings some to share! (To me it looks -and smells – like so much poison and it’s been easy to pass up.) I shudder to watch my assorted overweight/diabetic/chronically ill coworkers eat a second helping of these “treats” laden with white flour and refined sugar. I try to keep my mouth shut unless someone asks me how I’ve managed to lose  so much weight and then will happily share as much information as they will absorb!

The results of following the SCD have been so gratifying! Only have pain in the belly the few times I’ve eaten something I shouldn’t have and that has motivated me to be much more careful about eating out! Losing nearly 50 pounds since February 2 has been amazing! I recognize myself in the mirror again and that is simply delightful. I’m fitting into cherished favorite clothes that have been hanging in my closet for ages. And I feel great!

Depression has lifted and my attitude is so much more positive! My skin has cleared up and my knees like me much better!

I could sort of go on and on about the improvements in my energy and general well being. Honestly.

I can assure anyone who is struggling to come to terms with a new eating lifestyle that the rewards are huge and far beyond anything you can imagine at the moment. They have certainly been for me! I encourage you to hang in there for the difficult and challenging beginning.

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Historical perspective

My facebook friends are always so up on the latest world news! I myself do not read newspapers, watch news on TV, or listen to radio news broadcasts. My declared political affiliation is “Ostrich” and I’ll be the first to admit that means my butt will probably be shot off while I have my head buried in the sand. I do try to keep up with the weather forecast so I’ll know if an umbrella might be needed, although as a central Texas resident, I find that the weather is pretty much unpredictable. (Except for too danged hot and going to get hotter.)
Once upon a time I did try to keep up with current events and found that I became quite depressed. Humans are pretty awful to each other quite frequently and of course the horrible stuff is what makes the assorted medias richer.
Having the perspective of six decades has taught me that humans are also pretty amazing and wonderful. Somehow we manage to survive in spite of some truly horrible atrocities committed along the way. Now, governments are another story and I prefer not to follow that line of thought at all.
I have nothing to offer in the way of solutions for any of the awful things that are happening in the world today. It doesn’t take much research to look into the past and find any number of equally terrible things that have already happened. I predict more will occur in the future.
We are probably no better and no worse than we have ever been.
I’m going to continue with my Ostrich affiliation. It keeps me sane and so far it’s been working pretty well. I do try to practice being a decent human being on a regular and daily basis because it’s become quite clear to me that I am the only thing I can change.For me, this means an attempt to follow the philosophies of Buddhism, as I understand them and as Pema Chodron explains them. Could never claim to be a Buddhist and certainly cannot claim to being especially good at following Buddhist principle. One of the things that has been so helpful to me is learning to observe, without judgment. When I apply that to myself, it is such a useful tool and has resulted in many mindful changes. It helps me stay at peace with myself and with the world around me and prevents a lot of knee-jerk reaction when I apply observation without judgment to others and the world in general.

My email signature came courtesy of a friend and helps me remember to keep paying attention:

“Maybe if we did a better job of listening, history wouldn’t have to repeat itself.”

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More on Losing it!

Have officially lost 30 pounds since I started the Specific Carbohydrate Diet on 2/2/2013! Can’t begin to say how good it feels to get into smaller sizes and how much better I feel — the extra weight had some significant downsides! I feel more like myself, at any rate. I weighed 96 pounds when I graduated from high school in 1968 and had to beef up a little when I went in the Air Force in 1974 (got up to about 105) and was about 101 pounds at age 30. And then — I gave up alcohol, cigarets, and other assorted substances that were detrimental to my health! Within a couple of years, I was up to 130 pounds, which was probably about the right weight for me but felt huge after being such a stick for most of my life! Thus began the diet cycle. A year or two of losing it, another year or two of gaining it back — usually with a bonus of a few extra pounds. I had hit 180 pounds this past February, was in a pit of depression, and suffering ill health from digestive issues and pains in my left leg that were diagnosed as nerve damage. After a cat scan and a colonscopy that showed no bad results, I decided to try the SCD. My goal was to heal my guts — less pain, please! Losing the weight has been a huge bonus and best of all, no more nights waking up with acute pain in the belly! I had a little discomfort the other night after I ate out at a restaurant with friends, even though I thought I was being quite careful about my food choice. There’s just no telling what is in food if you don’t prepare it yourself. I do suspect gluten sensitivity is an issue for me. Recently came across some interesting info on traditional preparation of grains that looks promising and had a nice chat with a biologist friend who agreed that humans weren’t designed to eat grains the way our modern culture tries to consume them. For more on that, look up the Healthy Home Economist. Pretty much no “convenience” foods in my current diet! Having pain and discomfort after eating these is anything but convenient! Fortunately, I enjoy being in the kitchen and love to read cookbooks and have had fun learning new ways to prepare food. This is a complete life style change and not just another diet!

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Gift Economy and Social Media

Mick in LearMy best friend, Mick D’arcy, is an actor in Austin. He’s been following his passion and sharing his talent for about 25 years and probably earns less than $500 a year in this pursuit. Because his dedication to acting is so important to him, he’s virtually taken a vow of poverty. He typically works at minimum wage jobs with a low stress level that allow him to devote his greatest energy to the stage. He not only acts, he’s a successful director and playwright. As a fan, I have great admiration for Mick’s talent. In my own small way, I contribute when possible to help keep Mick together, body and soul. I think the work he does is important and that he contributes substantially to society. As his wife, once upon a time in a galaxy far far away, this was more difficult for me to understand and I wasn’t really able to appreciate the magnitude of what he accomplished. Fortunately, we’ve remained friends and I’ve come to realize how much Mick gives. He is driven, it seems, by the compulsion to put himself out there, whether it is on the stage, directing others, or creating original scripts. And he’s good at it!
Meanwhile, to keep a roof over his head and provide sustenance to his body, he has worked some interesting day jobs: census-taker, dishwasher, engineer for the Zilker Zephyr, wearer of sandwich board signs — I honestly can’t remember half of his non-traditional jobs! And he’s one of the most hardworking, dedicated employees I’ve ever worked with (no slacker myself), no matter who he works for.
Recently, he was inspired by Amanda Palmer’s Ted Talk (check it out on YouTube) to start a fundraiser campaign on Indiegogo. His immediate goal is to pay the 19 actors in City Theater’s June production of “Much Ado About Nothing” with an average $5.00 an hour, if the campaign meets its goal of $10,000. The next goal is for theater goers to tip the actors as conscientiously as most of us tip the waiters in a restaurant. The long term goal is for actors’ pay to be figured in as part of production costs — at least I hope that is the long term goal.
When I see how much big name actors earn for movie roles — and how much we gladly pay to enjoy a couple of hours of entertainment in front of the big screen, I can’t help but wonder why local actors aren’t being paid. There are a few productions here and there where a stipend might be paid now and then. Perhaps as much as $300, in some cases. That’s generally about 100 hours of the actor’s time in rehearsal and performing on stage. A whopping $3 an hour — when they are lucky to be paid at all.
So why do they do it? I think they are just wired that way. Watching Mick over the years, it seems to me that he simply *cannot* live without acting. It’s a part of who he is, what makes him tick. It’s his art, as surely as some folks have to paint and others simply have to do whatever it is that makes them completely who they are. At least those that have the gene that compels them, no matter what it takes, to follow their bliss.
My appeal is to all who love theater — tip an actor! Share Mick’s Indiegogo site on your Twitter, FB, or whatever it is you use to share information. Copy and paste into your browser to learn more about how to give to this good cause:
Or, the next time you’re at a show, tip an actor!

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Pecan Shortbread Pie

When my friend Annie posted a pic of the incredible pecan pie she made for Easter, I feared my sugar-free status was in serious jeopardy! Fortunately, I had just received 4 pounds of Red Mill almond meal from (I love having stuff come right to my mail box without having to go to the store!) I found a recipe for shortbread made with almond meal in Raman Prasad’s “Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet” and looked up the pecan pie filling in “Joy of Cooking” and came up with a reasonable substitute! It needs tweaking because the crust was somewhat overdone in the final result. I think next time I will only bake the shortbread for a very few minutes — just enough to heat it up — before adding the filling. And a great big thank you to Charlotte for shelling so many pecans from my trees last fall! Make the filling at the same time you whip up the crust so you can fill it while it’s still hot.
Shortbread crust:
1 cup almond flour
3 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp honey (melt it into the butter)
Stir it all up and press into a smallish pan (I used a loaf pan) with a rim about 1/2 inch or so to hold the filling. Bake at 300 degrees for about 5 minutes (I did 10 minutes and it was too long). I think putting an insulated cookie sheet under this would have been a good idea, too. Remove from oven and fill immediately.
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 cup pecan pieces
a pinch of sea salt
Stir these ingredients up and pour into the shortbread crust. Bake at about 300 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes or until the filling is set, watching carefully to avoid burning.
Mine was actually lightly burnt but it still tasted delicious!

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Losing it!

I don’t have any wish to find them again and am delighted to have lost 15 pounds since February 2, 2013. After two doctors told me “you need to lose at least 30 pounds” it seemed like the best thing to do! Tummy problems that have evolved these past couple of years were one issue and pains in my left leg that (I thought were related to varicose veins) were the other. Turns out it is nerve damage and there is apparently some sort of nerve cluster in the belly area similar to the one in the wrists that contributes to carpal tunnel. In my quest to find a solution to the tummy issues, I came across this interesting e-book by Dr. Phil Harry that pointed me towards some interesting possibilities. One of these was the GAPS diet and from there to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. It sounded a little drastic — no potatoes, no corn, no grains, no sugar (except honey), no no no! How could I survive without corn chips?
Well, just fine and dandy, it seems!
I’ve been enjoying the time in the kitchen (much better than all the time I spent on the couch in front of the TV eating crap food) and have learned how to make my own yogurt and yummy goat milk yogurt cheese. About every other week, I get a delicious free-range chicken at the local farmer’s market and make a huge batch of chicken broth, loaded with veggies. I’m eating delicious food that is actually good for me and the weight has just been dropping off steadily!
My tummy issues have lessened considerably and I’m sleeping well, feel good, and have plenty of energy. It’s pretty amazing!

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