Sunday, May 26, 2013

Egads....Milestones Reached and Passed.....or Am I Actually Upside Down In A Ditch?

Warning:  Do not look for laughs in my blog is all very  heartfelt stuff......I do not often deal with me and the nitty-gritty of advanced age in these pages, but once in a while  I just feel like talking to you about what is on my mind without trying to amuse or make light of things.  If that idea does not appeal to you, just skip this one and try me again next time.  I'll still love ya.

What a week!  I hardly know how to begin to describe it all.  For one thing, I had an appointment at the Department of Motor Vehicles this week.....a very special one........not to sit down and ace the written test of silly driving rules, nor to struggle through the dreaded eye test with my one working eye, nor to grapple  white knuckled with the damned, infernal driving test with an always hostile inspector diligently annotating my every minute transgressions only to finally stagger to the window where the wretched photo gets taken....the one you have to live with for the next four or five years.  No, this was very different.

My drivers' license is expiring next week and I, in my infinite wisdom, decided there would be no more memorizing of the eye chart to make up for the eye that doesn't see more enduring the annoyance of having to get my Retinologist to specify and authenticate  the degree of my ability to see large objects and traffic signs with my "good" eye,  no more putting up with the insolence of those driving inspectors just to be granted official permission to operate an automobile for the next year or two......especially when I would not have the poor judgment or the guts to get  behind a wheel and endanger my own life not to mention a few others by propelling my vehicle onto a public street or highway.  No, after about 70 consecutive years of having an official drivers' license, it was finally time to settle for just a  DMV Identification Card.  My driving days were officially over.

This is usually the moment when I have read that other people go  ballistic and bonkers  over the loss of their "Independence"......I say, "Bullshit".  I feel nothing of the sort.  I have been very content for the past few years of my failing eyesight to let my caregivers chauffeur me all over the place while I relax happily in the passenger seat just giving an occasional order or suggestion now and then.  And,  during those night hours and the day when I am alone and on my own I have not once wrung my hands and railed against being unable to run out to the market and pick up more Twizzlers when I have just consumed the last one in the bag and there are no more in the cupboard.  Amazingly, I have found that I can  placidly accept the fact that I can somehow survive for another day without them.  (even though that idea would have been unthinkable a few years ago......what?...trapped in the house with no Twizzlers? loss of sanity and control immediately following the realization.)

In the same way, you keep hearing about people protesting wildly the loss of their dignity when forced to don one of those funny paper gowns in a Doctor's office that always reveal a good glimpse of your fanny or what some call their private parts (what a silly term)   to anyone around.   Or having to suffer the awful shame of calling for a bedpan  the Hospital.  That is all such a load of crap.  Having weird hangups about exposing  ones naked body to professionals who have seen one or two of them during their careers has nothing to do with one's actual sense of dignity.  Having once been so painfully shy and lacking in self esteem  that I chose to slink down alleys rather than walk along the streets where I might encounter a passerby who might happen to look at me (and, I feared, silently judge me to be inadequate), I can understand someone's reluctance to expose themselves to strangers on  the grounds of  shyness, vulnerability due to low self worth   or a mistaken ordering of priorities .   But I reject the idea that it has anything to do with loss of dignity.  But, to yank myself back from this meandering digression, I do not feel like I have lost my independence by surrendering my right to drive a motor vehicle.   I am not confined by bars and I can still think freely, express my cockamamie thoughts freely and, if necessary, call for help to somebody on the Internet.  One of you would surely respond, wouldn't you?   I may be a little hampered here and there, but I am still independent, goddammit. 

However, today I did feel a slight loss of independence when I had to have Ann, my caregiver, read me the questions and fill in my answers on a form demanding that I report for Jury Duty or else and, if not why not?  (easy....I am, 86, pretty damned blind and also considerably disabled unless you consider schlepping   around like Quasimodo to be a perfectly fine way of getting places.)   Of course, I offered this very pedestrian reason rather than tell them the truth which is that I would make the world's worst juror, being dreadfully judgmental, horribly opinionated, totally in favor of capital punishment for all offenses including spitting on the floor and writing poor grammar and misspellings.  I would never be selected to sit on any jury so why waste everyone's time and the governments money?
 I have a taste of this particular loss of independence whenever I have to have Ann or Florence fill out a form for me in a doctor's office or find my pen when I have dropped it on the floor, or even when the Parking Lot attendant asks for 45 cents more than the $6 I have offered and I just dig out a fistful of change from my wallet and have my helper find the quarter and dimes among the stuff I am holding.   That sort of thing does sometimes make me a bit cross but that irritation is immediately drowned out by gratitude that I am so lucky as to have someone who can "see"  for me.

Here's a bit of Lo's wisdom on this survive the perils of old age and still enjoy life you damn well have to get your priorities in the right order.

And now, on other fronts, I am thrilled and proud to report that I have survived the first week of the FastDiet which consisted of 5 days of eating whatever I wanted and 2 separate random days of my choice in which I consumed only 500 calories per day and all the non caloric liquids my rotund little body wanted or could  hold.   It has been a fascinating experience.......mind blowing and eye opening. 

As I mentioned in my earlier post when I bravely committed to try this regimen, I have never had much trouble in actual fasting as long as I did not let a taste of food pass my lips.  (once tasting a morsel actvates a monster who will eat YOU if you happen to be unfortunate or foolish enough to be obstructing my path to
Food.  My only discomfort when fasting occurs around 5 pm when I notice an uncomfortable hollow feeling in my middle which I asssume is what people call hunger.  I do not know from hunger.  I only know from craving.  For one thing, I noticed that time sort of stretches out when you are find yourself with all that time that you usually spend either eating, thinking of eating, preparing or obtaining food and then wishing you hadn't eaten all that whatever-it-was before you begin thinking about what you are going to eat tomorrow.  If Einstein had gone on a fast when he was formulating his theory of Relativity this odd time situation would have blown his ideas out of the water or set him on a completely different path.  Heaven only knows what he might have come up with when he discovered that time expands when you fast.  (hmmm, I seem to recall in my one failed effort to understand that theory that it had something to do with time expanding when you move fast....I am now wondering if someone misinterpreted the meaning of "fast"....well, nevermind.....).

As  for nourishment and my mind they have no connection to each other whatsoever. However, eating out of boredom, eating for comfort, using food as a tranquilizer to assuage anxiety...oh yeah......those are all the real reasons I eat.  I realize I NEVER eat for nourishment.   And so it was this week that I learned lots of things about me and food and ithas  been quite enlightening. 

On the days following my modified fasts I found I felt very good, did not wake up ravenous or dive headlong  into the frig or cupboard for some delicacy to stuff in my face.    I was, as usual, not hungry since I had not yet  put a morsel of food into my mouth and I actually called for my breakfast around noon after I had checked my email and several  Stock Market chart services and spent several hours making sure that the stock market had not eaten all of my nest egg since the previous day.   I was however, I noticed, very happy that I was looking forward to being able to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it that day and I really enjoyed my toasted cinnamon bagel.  Yum.  I found that I craved and consumed just about what I ordinarily eat each day....perhaps even a bit less.

And, amazingly, I found this morning that I had actually lost 1 pound during this week, a fact that made me delirious with joy, since I have been unable to shed an ounce by any means for a long time, especially since my mobility is so limited and exercise as we know it is not possible.

Anyway, folks, I am now facing my fast day tomorrow and the beginning of my 2nd week with much interest, curiosity, enthusiasm and hope.  I promise to report on my progress in what I call revolting detail.  I signed up at the Library for the book on the FastDiet which they are expecting to arrive shortly.  (too frugal/cheap to buy it yet)   I will force Flo or Ann to read me the juiciest parts.  Then I will be more knowledgeable, should you wish to ask me any questions about it beyond my own experience.  All I can say is, it sure seems to pay to keep trying new things, bizarre though they may be.  Onward and upward!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I Must Be Out of My Fucking Mind.....or....If You Aren't Going to Eat That Crumb on Your Lip, May I Have It?

If I had a buck or even a dime for every time I have said to myself, "Lois, you must be out of your mind", I'd be as rich as Warren Buffet.  But this time, I really MEAN it.  I am no longer teetering on the  brink of insanity.......I have fallen smack dab into it and worse yet, I am wallowing in it.

After 75 years of diets and severe food deprivation of every sort, I did swear to myself and to the world at large that, after hitting and passing the 80 mark,  I was never going to deprive myself of a single morsel of anything edible that I wanted ever again..... for whatever time is left to me in this world full of infinite delicacies.  Yeah,  so I wake up this morning and discover that I have put myself on, of all things,  a Diet.  And not just a diet telling me I can't eat this or that, but a diet in which I actually Fast for 2 days out of the 7 that are usually in a week.  I am not sure quite how this happened, but it seemed to be a good idea when I pondered it last night and it somehow retained its luster when I got up this morning.  Utterly amazing.

Even more amazing is the fact that I had decided last night that I would fast on Sundays and Thursdays and therefore, today being Sunday, it would be foodless.  (Actually, I lie..... that is not totally accurate.....these here diet gurus decreed that you can have 500 calories on your fast days...probably to placate all of those wimps  who claim that, without any food they suffer headaches, dizziness, spots before the eyes and all manner of plagues.  I will comment on that idea some other time but I AM allowed to eat something today.  Whatever fits withing the circumference of 500 calories which, I know from vast experience, is not very damned much.  But that's OK. 

Being a creature who has always worshiped food as my principal Deity,  I have spent a lot of my life thinking about food in all its glorious forms and I realize that I have been lying to myself for many years about our relationship.......or, if not outright lying, I have not analyzed the subject sufficiently from all angles and it might just  behoove me to do so before I pursuit of truth and for my own damned good, that is.  I am suspecting that I eat for a bunch of very strange reasons that have nothing to do with hunger and certainly nothing to do with nourishment.  Kind of like the person who smokes cigarettes in order to have something to do with their hands.

I have fasted many times in my life......the longest having been for 4 days with nothing but water.  I survived very well and found that the first day was the hardest and it got easier not harder as the project progressed.   That does NOT mean that I did not trample a multitude of defenceless women and children and even a burly man or two who, on day 5, were unfortunate enough to be in my way  in my glassy-eyed wild  gallop to get my hands (and teeth) on a bagel.   That experiment was to test my theory that my body's metabolism was such that I  could gain weight while ingesting nothing and by simply thinking of food.  Or at least it would not surrender a molecule of fat even if I fasted and walked miles per day on the treadmill.   (Turned out that I was right about the latter half of that theory....I lost not an ounce in 4 days of not eating and you would not have wanted to be around me when I found that out......dishes were smashed, cats were kicked (symbolically) and epithets were uttered and hurled hither and yon..... in spades, baby.).

But even during that experiment I noticed that my body actually enjoyed being given a day off from digesting and processing even as my mind was screaming that I was trying to kill myself and that if I did not give me a ham sandwich or reasonable facsimile immediately I would wither like a scalded seedling and expire then and there and by gum, I'd be sorry then dammit but it would  be too late.

The most interesting eating/not eating fact I learned and relearned over the years but which I have never been able to employ usefully was that when I got up in the morning I was not hungry and if I did not eat anything I was still not hungry and this lasted throughout the day.  It was only toward evening when I noticed the slightly hollow feeling in my middle that I felt the need to eat a little something and then, once I had a single taste of food, I became ravenous and insatiable.

Because I adore food, the textures, the flavors the aromas the mere glorious  sight of it, anything  lurking in the frig, the cupboards or lying on a plate not only beckons seductively to me but gets behind my rotund buttocks and shoves me rudely in its direction.  The first bite is sheer heaven, but, just like booze, after the first sip courses through your body and makes you feel so good, the succeeding bites never quite match up and I find myself continuing to eat just trying to recapture that first heavenly sensation.  Of course, there is also something comforting about feeling full, sated, slightly stuffed.  (beyond slightly stuffed there is only agony and recriminations, blame and finger pointing and empty promises ).  In fact, as dismissive as I can be about hunger during the day, I cannot fall asleep hungry and have been known, after tossing for 3 or 4 hours, to rise from my couch and go in and ferociously empty the frig, shelf  by shelf into my gaping maw......well, I do exagerate, but you get the idea.  In fact, I am saving most of those 500 calories for bedtime gnashing, crunchng and gobbling......or as much of that as can be done with such a pittance of fodder.  Anyway, as of 7:30 pm I am still doing fine with nothing under my belt but water, a few spinach leaves and mushroom slices, black coffee and a few cups of fat free chicken bouillion. 

In case you are wondering, (and I am sure that one or two of you are surely wondering) what bit me on the ass to drive me to such extremes,  I was very impressed with a video I recently watched, on the study that led up to the creation of this program called the FastDiet.  If you can believe a bunch of Mice, it appears that a bit of fasting can actually make you live longer.......and if you are wondering why, after groaning and griping and schlepping along "Oy-ing"  for 86 years I would want to do that,  I do not have an answer today.  Maybe it is just so that I can keep on blogging.

Anyway, I can hardly wait to see how this all turns out.  Will Lois lose 2 and 3/4 ounces?  Will Lois develop a completely new attitude about food??   Will Lois give up the whole idea when the next fast day rolls around on Thursday?  Will Lois fall off the wagon tomorrow ( or, more likely,  tonite at approx 3 am) and devour the entire southern side of Califa Street in one orgy of binge eating?  You may take bets among yourselves......frankly, I have no effing idea.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

All I Can Say Is Beware When The Recipe Lady Calls It..... "Easy"

Here I lie in the trusty recliner, a tattered wreck, legs splayed akimbo, arms flung  hither and yon, too weak to even lift said legs up onto the footstool, gasping for breath and cursing in between gasps.  My fingers twitch with an urgent need to strangle someone and I know just who, but in my pitiful condition I would probably  be unable to tighten my grip around that scrawny throat sufficient to do any real harm.  Oh, Recipe are getting off easy this time.......and there is that Word........Easy....ha!.   Lies, all lies.

Now, let's face facts here, dear ones......I have been filling and stirring and scrubbing pots and pans  for more than....well, never mind.  We can just say that I've been around, ya' know.  And I know when they say prep time 15 minute, cook time 25, that that means after your sous chef or flunky or scullery maid has assembled all of the ingredients in the proper order across your work surface, scrounged around in the drawers and located all of the proper tools and arranged them neatly in order of use like the surgeon's tools in the Op Room and probably already chopped all the choppables, measured all the measurables and carefully poured your glass of cooking sherry, not for the dish, but for You. can't ever believe 'em about those details, but usually when they say bake for 25 minutes they more or less mean that, give or take a few on each side. 

So there I was throwing together a simple looking recipe for "Vanilla Orange Monkey Bread"....oven to 350, bundt pan at the ready, couple pkgs of buttermilk biscuits quartered, shaken within an inch of their life in a baggie full of sugar and grated orange zest till delightfully coated then set aside.  Throw into a saucepan two sticks of salted butter  (OY) a bunch of brown sugar, some vanilla,. melt it all up, stir around just  few stirs, not too many,  set aside.
Fling the beautifully coated biscuit pieces into the bundt pan, pour the syrupy stuff over it all, deposit in oven, bake 25 minutes.  My mouth was watering, I was licking all the utensils and all my fingers and when the bell went off at 25 mins I checked things out.  Yes, the top was nicely browned, syrup seemed to be bubbling in the pan.  * Cool for 10 mins before inverting pan over serving dish.  OK......gotta let that sticky stuff set up a bit before de-panning, but not too long or else you will never get it out without the use of a jackhammer.  Sure, been there, done that.  Bell goes off in 10, I invert the pan over serving dish ** and....holy crap, I am standing ankle deep in a lake of syrup as is my whole work surface.  Item on serving dish looks raw on top under the remains of the syrup.  Hmmmm. time out to scrape up all the salvageable syrup into a receptacle and rethink this.  (Don't  be silly......I never throw away good food and I never quit without a decent struggle)

Syrup goes back into saucepan to cook for about 5 mins till it thickens......wish I had a candy thermometer since I have never been good at that "soft ball -hard ball stage" stuff.  Carefully lower bundt pan over object on serving plate, invert, shake to settle hoping that the ridges and curves are all repositioned properly (don't ask), pour revised syrup over all and back into the 350 oven for ???? 10 min....12 min???....15 min???

Scrub sticky floor and work surface while waiting and fuming.  Double Oy Vey.

 When the well trained eyeball examines the top (really the bottom) of the subject and determines that it is sufficiently brown I remove from oven and  repeat from * through **.  Hmmm, well, this looks more fact.....delicious.  I cannot wait to sample this amazing looking confection.  I cut a small slice, take a mouthful from near the top where the gooiest goody part is and.....spit it out......oy vey....still a mite unbaked!  How could this be?  Shitpissfuck.

 At this point I am really annoyed and more determined than ever.  I fling the object  back into the bundt pan not caring whether the curves and ridges match up or not, dammit.  Back into the oven it goes for how long?....10? 12? a gazillion? mins.  I am flying  blind here.  There is absolutely is no way to determine whether the unbaked portion of the item will get baked before the syrup turns into concrete or cinders.  Finally I snatch the pan from the oven at 15 mins.....let cool for 10, invert over serving plate and, " voila" what emerges is this gorgeous orangey caramely creation  with only the slight imperfection of one slice having been removed, which I find can easily be concealed by pushing the open edges together while the thing is still warm.  No one will ever know.

A work of art, but how does it taste?  Didn't take long to find out that it was utterly divine and I had to keep slapping myself on the back of my hand and the side of the head to keep me from devouring The Whole Thing.   However, I then fell into the Chair in the state described above at the very  beginning, brushing sticky crumbs from my lips and sighing in exstacy and exhaustion and did not even have the strength to make the necessary corrections to the Recipe.

Needless to say, the very first correction I will make will be to that word "EASY".

(Does anyone remember Senor Wences and his adorable little dummy?.........."eeeasy for YOU....deefficult for me...")

The fate of that damned Recipe Lady is still up in the air.......I am too stuffed with Vanilla Orange Monkey Bread to do harm to anyone right now.