Sunday, December 04, 2011

Chumley's World

can be a bit crazy...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This is one of my favorite times of the year. Preparing for Thanksgiving, the menu, shopping, decorating, baking, is more cherished around here than Christmas preparations (don't get me wrong - I love getting the tree and decorating it to the nines but let's face it, it becomes one giant mess of clutter come December 26th).

My mom arrives in less than a week, as this has been our tradition for Thanksgiving since moving away from Chicago nearly 10 years ago. We talk on the phone at least once a day, sharing ideas and fun things we have planned for her visit. It's so easy to feel overwhelmed this time of year, I do, even in my simple, little life so I can only imagine those who work stressful jobs, have young children or have both a full time career and family?? How do they get everything done? And in addition to that, maintain all the social/family obligations without falling asleep in their food? I admire those who can master all things I deem un-masterful because I don't know how they do it. I guess I know my limitations as a human being and have to allow for comfortable boundaries within them. That's why it's going to be a guilt-free holiday this season in terms of commitments and even gift giving.

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all the blessings we are fortunate to have in our lives. Keeping that in the forefront of my mind helps put all the other "stuff" in perspective.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Beware of Dog(s)

Wrigs and I were on our daily stroll through town when suddenly we hear loud, aggressive barking coming from up ahead. I couldn't spot the dogs, but there were multiple barks and growls - each one louder and more ferocious than the last. We were on a busy street corner and after scanning the sidewalks in all directions I saw a dog's head pop out of the passenger side window of a big truck parked on the street. And then 2 more not so friendly heads appeared. The dogs spotted Wrigley and their barking and stance were just like the dog in the photo above. The window was a little less than half way up but I did not feel comfortable walking by the truck. A man standing next to me on the sidewalk said, "I don't think they're too friendly" and was hesitant to walk by as well. No sooner did his words come out when one of the dogs jumped out of the truck and headed straight for Wrigley. Wrigs and I ran into the vitamin store on the corner, along with the man and a couple other sidewalk dwellers. My heart was beating out of my chest and the people in the store were so concerned as they watched this unfold from the window. The customer at the counter who was about to pay for his items was the owner of the dogs and bolted out of the store to get his dog back in the truck and roll up the window. He came back into the store and apologized profusely saying that he forgot to roll up his window all the way and he hopes that we are ok. I told him it was a bit intimidating and as dog owners know, if your dog is generally friendly or at least "all bark and no bite" you'd respond accordingly, reassuring that your dog(s) just wanted to play. It was clear by his reaction that his dogs had no intention of a play date with Wrigs and I can't stop thinking about how this could have ended in tragedy. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I made up a joke...

What do you call a healthy lesbian????

A vagitarian.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Really, lady at the bakery???

a quick venting post then I'll move on...

Woman at bakery informed me that I "...just don't know how hard it is to shop for gluten free foods, because, did you know that gluten is in EVERYTHING???" Really lady??? How about sticking to a diet that restricts:

GLUTEN (oh the horror!)
CORN or any by product of corn
most SUGAR
MUSHROOMS (due to mold)
POTATOES and all starchy veggies
VEGGIES with high sugar content (carrots, beets, yams, peas, some beans, this list goes on)
MOST FRUITS (except berries and green apples and a half a banana from time to time!)
And still, there's more...

But obviously I didn't say any of that to this gluten deprived woman, instead I shrugged and said, "Thankfully there are places like this bakery." and smiled and went on my way.

Sometimes I get frustrated with people. While on the topic if I'm invited to someone's home and and I politely decline to eat something that is being served (because I will end up in the bathroom the rest of the night and most of the next day!) or I politely decline a glass of wine (doesn't matter if it's white or red people!) it's not because I'm being picky. And finally when you offer me hot apple pie smothered in vanilla ice cream for dessert and say, "Oh come on! You have to try just a little bit. You can run 10 miles tomorrow!" Don't be surprised if I never step foot into your home again.

Ok,  a lot of times I get frustrated.

All done venting.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baba

Today my Grandmother turned 95 years old. 
Sorry, I just look at that number and can't really grasp it.

I had a conversation with her recently that's fitting to share today, since it is her birthday, and also because just last night while making dinner, my onions caught fire in the oven requiring a frantic call to 911. Thankfully the dispatcher told me exactly what to do and the fire subsided before any trucks were sent to the house. That being said, here's a snippet of our conversation:

"Honey do you remember you used to call the firemen and tell them that the neighbor's house was on fire?"

"I did? When?"

"When you were very young. You said you wanted to see the fire trucks."

"So I'd call 911?"

"Yes, you did this a few times, honey."


Her memory of the past is amazing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Remember these???

Well, guess what...

They're Back!

Who didn't eat these like candy as a kid?? They were soooooo good, everything about them, the flavor, the texture, the way they slowly melted into a syrup coating your throat as you sucked away. 

They are available now at CVS drug stores in Honey and Cherry flavors and soon to come Black Licorice and Lemon Citrus! If you don't have a CVS near you, you can order them online here:

They contain sugar, (the bad kind, corn syrup) so I'm in a bit of pickle on whether or not I should indulge in this childhood past time. I'll just sit and stare at the pictures for a bit while I decide...

I think I've made up my mind.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

free screening of Food Matters

A free screening of the documentary "Food Matters" is available online until October 8th. If you care about your health and the health of your loved ones, PLEASE watch this. You can't afford NOT to.

Food Matters

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Some things are better left to the spouse/partner who's just better at doing them...

Like shopping for a refrigerator.

Since Tom was out of town at the time of our great refrigerator blow out, I took it upon myself to replace it.

I was on a quest to purchase a spare fridge for the laundry room and spent half the morning pouring over appliance websites, models, customer reviews, etc. I was very careful to measure the height and width of our current fridge and compare the cubic feet specifications as well. I even called Sears and Home Depot to ask a live person a few questions I couldn't find answers to online and after dissecting all the research I made a decision and went ahead with my purchase. I felt confident, proud and even a bit excited to welcome this new appliance into our home.

When Tom returned from his trip I told him I bought a little something for the house and when I pulled up the link to show him he said squarely, "You did not." I asked, "Why do you not have any faith in me??" Then I proceeded to show him my notebook filled with models, price comparisons and answered questions from my day of research. And he was pretty impressed. Then he asked, "So you measured correctly??" I huffed and puffed and said, "Of course I measured! What do you think I am - a dumbass??" He seemed satisfied with that and said, "It looks great. I think you did a good job." That made me smile.

Cut to...

Fridge arrival day.

So I said I measured the height and the width and even the cubic feet inside the fridge right?? Well, I guess I overlooked one tiny little detail.  That, being depth. I understand there are varying degrees of depth-ness to a refrigerator but since this was going into the laundry room I really didn't pay much attention to those.

But apparently, depth matters:

I should point out that our old fridge was counter depth and sat neatly tucked between the wall and the dryer, giving Wrigley full body access to his food and water bowls.

Well now Wrigs has to eat and drink on an angle and let me tell you, he doesn't seem too thrilled with this arrangement.

"WTF am I supposed to do here??"

So obviously I effed up and Tom was right to cross examine my decision to buy this beast without him but I just didn't want to give him that satisfaction and admit defeat quite yet. Instead, my plan was to go along like all was fine and it was exactly what I expected. (Even as I type this now and look up at this picture I realize how ridiculous this must seem.)

He arrived home from work that day as I was in the kitchen preparing dinner so I rushed down the hall -literally hopping on one foot as I turned the corner -  when I hear, "OH MY GOD! WHAT THE HELL??"

I casually walk in the laundry room, catch my breath and say, "Oh yes, our new fridge arrived."

His mouth is open so wide I could stick my fist in it as he says, "Are you kidding? It's GIGANTOR!"

I retorted with, "Is that even a word? I don't think it is. And it's not that bad, plus it has more freezer space which we definitely need. Come on, let's eat!" and I turned to head back to the kitchen with what I can only describe as a Skeletor look on my face.

"You didn't measure the DEPTH did you?"

"I measured Tom. It's fine."

"This is most gigantic refrigerator I have ever seen IN MY LIFE and IT'S IN MY HOUSE! LOOK! There's barely any room for Wrigley's bowls."

(*I should make one thing clear, when I use caps it means he's somewhat intense in his delivery but it's not like an episode of Cops. He's definitely not screaming at me. In this case, he even had a sheepish grin on his face, probably because, dare I say it...he was right...again. DAMN IT.)

I head back down the hall and stand at the doorway to the laundry room as he opens the door smacking Wrig's water dish, spilling waves of water onto the floor. I try to remain as serious and convicted in my stance that this is in fact, the most perfect fridge we could ever have. And then...Wrigs walks in. He stands between me and Tom and then does this 3 point-pivot-type of maneuver since he's trapped between the fridge and his bowls. I give him an evil eye willing my thoughts to his doggy brain, "Please exit gracefully NOW!" But he clumsily backs up into my legs and then scampers to run out of the room. Of course Tom says, "See?? The poor dog can't even turn around!" I tell him that "Wrigley is a drama queen who won't even walk down the steps to go out if there's a LEAF in his way. Plus he doesn't like change. This will take some getting used to but he's a dog. He'll adjust. And so will you! Can we please eat now?"

He relents, we have a nice dinner even though every few moments he has some snide comment about the "world's largest refrigerator."

I kindly let him know that his jokes are funny now but in day or even an hour they will be dull. He says he needs to get them out of his system because he's still in shock, I say fine whatever.

The next couple days he doesn't really say much more about it,  but then one afternoon he goes to the fridge to get a drink and while opening the door he starts to sing what sounded like a Bob Dylan song, in a Bob Dylan voice. But I couldn't quite recognize the song so I moved down the hall to listen closely to the lyrics:

"Thiiiiiiiiis is the biiiiiiiigest refrigerator in the laaaaaaaaand..."

...and it's insiiiiiiiiiide myyyyyyyyy houuuuuuuuse." 

"I haaaaaave the worrrrrrrrld's larrrrrrrrrgest friiiiiiiiiiiidge." 

He was trying to mimmick Visions of Johana.

And I must admit, he did a pretty good job.

Plus, I think the fridge helps with the laundry room acoustics.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A panhandling dinosaur...

Today's "WTF?"

Wrigs was NOT a fan.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

I love...

My animals.

My family.

And sunsets.

(not listed in order of importance.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sobering reminders... never drink and drive.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Air shows

Whether on land or water, we used to love watching the Air and Water show in Chicago as well as the practices where the jets zoomed right by our office windows taking everyone by surprise in the Sears (or now, Willis) tower. 

This just doesn't have the same feel as this. Did you know that they have a special "low ceiling" show here? It looks like it's clearing up so this afternoon's show may not be like last year, but I'm just not into it like I used to be.

This is pretty freaking cool too. I remember as a kid holding my breath during these plane drops because I felt certain they were going to crash into the water below. Still amazes me today. 

Oh Chicago, how I miss thee.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Refrigerator man

The refrigerator repair man came to the house because our fridge died last week. At first I thought I left the freezer drawer open which caused the stuff inside to defrost so I made sure it was shut tight and then a few hours later, opened it up to a sogging, dripping mess. (BTW, freezers with drawers on the bottom are a cluster f*ck. Stuff falls behind the drawer and the ice maker overflows all the time. And you have to Houdini your body to fit inside the drawer while using a mirror to try and put the little hook back into the little stopper hole. Like clockwork one of us working inside the drawer will ask, "Is it in the hole yet??" And the other will say "That's what she said." And then the other will say, "I'm freezing in here will you JUST TELL ME IF IT'S IN THE FRIGGIN' HOLE!?!?" and this happens about 16 times a month. 

So anyway the repair man came out to try to fix/diagnose the problem and by that I mean he plugged in the fridge, listened to a hum/click and 3 seconds later pocketed a check for $60. He recommended a family owned appliance store in town and then I told him that we have a back up fridge in the laundry room that we'll just roll into the kitchen (fyi, that task is a lot harder than it sounds). Fridge man's energy level kicked up a notch and he asked, "You have another fridge/freezer in this house??" I told him yes it's down the hall in the laundry r--- and before I could finish talking he spurts out "Can I see it?" (talk about someone who LOVES his job) I let him know that it seems to be working fine so there's really no need and when he asked to see it a second time I finally said, "I have a mean cat who's inside the laundry room because if he gets out, he will bite you." Fridge man looks at me funny and says, "Who? A cat?? You have a biting cat??" I simply say, "Yes."  Then he asks, "What would happen if you let the cat out?" I visualize the massacre in my head for a moment or two and then say, "It wouldn't be pleasant." His large appliance fascination has now been replaced by the not so friendly feline and he presses on, "Well, would he run up and just bite or would he approach slowly, like a lion, stalking me like prey?" At this point I'm about ready to lead him down the hall and say, "How about you find out for yourself buddy?" But instead I tell him that it depends on the situation, sometimes it's a run, jump and cling to a body part type of bite and other times it's a more calculated approach, when one least expects it. Of course this sparks more interest so he asks his age, what type of cat he is, how we got him and then in mid sentence notices the 3 litter boxes sitting atop our living room furniture and points to them, "Are those HIS boxes??" I wanted to say no, they're ours - our toilets are broken too but didn't and said "Yes those are his. He also has a bit of a marking problem." A look of horrified curiosity spread over his face and it's obvious he's not going to be satisfied so I figure, what the hell, let's just get this over with. "Do you want to take a quick peek at him?" Apparently that was the million dollar question. "YES! I have to see this cat!"  

I told him that I'll quickly open the door just a sliver to make sure Chumley doesn't escape. Refrigerator man stands behind me in anticipation of the viewing and I ask him not to say anything because that will get Chum really worked up. Once the door cracks, I hear Chumley jump off the dryer and meow (which sounded sweet) as he heads to the door. He sniffs the opening and Refrigerator man shouts, "He looks normal! He looks sweet!" (Umm, what part of NOT speaking did you NOT understand?!?) Then he kneels down ever so slightly and CHUM GOES APE SHIT. He screeches/hisses/growls all at the same time and whacks the side of the door like a wind up toy gone bad. I quickly shut the door and say, "So that's Chumley."

He left shaking his head, laughing but I'm guessing also a bit disturbed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

this and that

Let me just start off by saying DO NOT lick a Target receipt. Take my word for it here, just don't. ever. do it. (I typically don't make a habit of licking receipts but in the process of spitting out my gum, my tongue grazed the paper and oh holy Jeezus did it taste awful.) I'm not sure if it was from the paper, or the freshly printed ink, but this was poison on the tongue. Poison I tell you! 

Ok now where was I. 

Oh that's right I was shoving these chips into my mouth. Have you ever tried them?? They are insanely addicting so don't come crying to me if you end up hoarding 200 bags in your pantry because you just can't get enough of them. And I am willing to bet my life that most people who love chocolate could finish an entire bag in a 24 hour period. 

You know that saying, "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today?" Well I've realized that doesn't apply to a sun lover in Seattle. Today I had work that I needed to get done that could only be done in the office so as I'm getting my bag and keys to head out the door, I notice the sky starting to lighten a little. I rush to the window and realize it didn't look like much so I headed for the door. When I drove to the top of the hill in our town I notice more breaks in the clouds. I think, "Hmmm ok, well if that sun pops out and I'm stuck inside this will not be good because God know when we'll see it again, yet if I head home and it doesn't pop out I'm screwed because I'm not prepared for tomorrow!" (new class starting up) So what do I do? I say F it and turn around and head home. And the sun is gone. I start to think that this is what being in an abusive relationship must feel like. The false promises, the "I promise I'll change, I swear" these anxiety filled moments make for an exhausting way to live. I went back into my car, received a phone call and while I was chatting the sun started to re-appear so I said F it again, headed back in the house onto the deck to disrobe. I fell asleep in the sun. 

We've lived here for 1,016 days. I've probably felt "present" for about 200 of those days. I have lived the past 3 years anticipating summer, or any sort of change from the darkness that loves to settle over this tiny pocket of the world. And during those days it's impossible to live in the present when you're always hoping or waiting for things to change.  Motivation and perspective are difficult to find when a sense of hopelessness lingers just beneath the surface. It's true that lots of people suffer from S.A.D. during the winter months but lucky for us, our dark days can last a good 9-10 months so when your serotonin levels are out of whack for that long, it's an open door for the D word.

I am thankful to get my health on track and now understand why the Candida grew like wildfire. I swear all I did was crave carbs and eat sugary starchy meals upon our arrival.

"Recent evidence has also linked light exposure to the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is thought to influence mood. People who are affected by SAD appear to have difficulty regulating serotonin levels in their blood. That these levels can be increased by a diet rich in carbohydrates explains the intense carbohydrate cravings of many SAD patients. This theory also accounts for the success of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, such as Prozac and Zoloft, when administered to patients suffering from depression."

And reading about suggested treatments for S.A.D. makes me even more SAD! But whatever it is what it is...

"The only known way to prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder is to live in a warm, southerly climate. But that doesn't mean that those of us who have chosen the north as our home must suffer endlessly at the hands of winter. Following some of the these suggestions can help alleviate many of the unpleasant symptoms associated with SAD: 1. Get more natural sunlight by doing outdoor chores and keeping windows and blinds open in the home and office. 2. Go outside and walk briskly (even in cold weather) once during the course of the day-particularly effective at midday. 3. Sit near a window, preferably in the sun, whenever possible. 4. Join a support group with other similarly-afflicted people. 5. Try phototherapy. 6. Go south for vacation!"

The support group is key, as I've met and made many friends who also suffer from weather related blues. Some have lived here less time than we have and either moved back to where they came or opted for warm, sunny climates. It makes me happy to see them enjoying life again and I do not consider it a weakness on their part to move away. It takes a strong person to make a change no matter what the situation is and no more justification should be needed. 

It sounds like fluff to say that living in a sun filled climate would alleviate stress and worry but some of my most challenging moments in life happened prior to living here and during those times I was able to rationalize and keep perspective of those situations. There was no undercurrent of anxiety since I was mentally motivated to push through.  My dad was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 while we were in Chicago and then died in 2006 while we were in California. Those six years were filled with stress, worry, fear, anger all the things that come along with terminal illness. But there was never that sense of hopelessness. I was still able to function and stay present and aware of our blessings. I started this blog shortly after he passed because I recognized the goodness in in my life and wanted to journal my happiness with my family and friends. I CRAVE TO GET THAT BACK. (healthier than craving carbs I guess.)

As I sit here 3 years later, that S.A.D. lingers even as we near the end of July. I tried so hard to mentally prepare myself for this change but until you actually live it, you never know what it's going to be like and how it's going to affect you.  But today as I slept in the sun I felt a glimmer of my old self and that gave me some hope. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Vamos a la Playa!

The good thing about summer in Seattle? We don't have to worry about overcrowded beaches.

I miss the seasons. I really, really miss the seasons, especially long hot summers. Even the harshly bitter extremes of winter and the oppressive humidity of midwest summers, which I'm certain sounds a bit wackdoodle to anyone in 100 degree weather right now. So many people are suffering through heat waves across the country and while that is no picnic whatsoever, the thing is, those waves don't last for 9 or 10 months a year, as our weather tends to. Same with the biting cold of winter. As soon as you're about ready to hit your breaking point from the bitter temps...alas, Spring arrives and the earth as well as your brain begins to thaw. Then there's summer and when you just can't take another day in the 90's or higher, slowly there begins a shift into fall with a much needed reprieve. The reason Seattle's climate can be challenging for people who are used to seasons is because we don't have those extremes (except in the summer, which, we're still waiting for. tick tock tick tock, why did I buy a new bathing suit this year???) Here, each month just sort of spills into the next without much variance from the last and before you know it, it's the middle of July and you find yourself on line looking to replace yet another rain coat. (fyi: North Face jacket zippers SUCK, I got stuck in my jacket again today and refuse to buy another North Face zipper product ever again. Actually had to use a fork to get out of it.) Anyway, the one thing about the Northwest is that the weather is very consistent and predictable which is why many people who do not like those extreme changes and prefer a cold, damp season year round really love it here. And for those who enjoy four distinct seasons, it becomes a bit of a challenge.

Outside of the Northwest and maybe Southern California climates, there is typically quite a difference in temperature within a 6 month span. I'll share a conversation between me and Tom to put this into perspective:

(me) "Tom, what was the name of that restaurant we took your mom to for Christmas?"

(him) "Salty's?"

(me) "No, not that one. The one up in Ballard. Right on the water."

(him) "Oh, Ray's Boathouse?"

(me) "Yes, that's the one!"

(him) "That wasn't Christmas."

(me) "It wasn't? Was it Thanksgiving?"

(him) "No. Mother's Day."

(me) "Oh My."

I seriously thought it was either November or December but was May. Hmmm.

This October we will have been here 3 years and in that short amount of time we've met others who have lived here less than that come and go. It's hard to say goodbye and I'm starting to understand why people initially are reluctant to make friends with transplants because people new to the NW have a reputation as being "short timers", not to mention those who move from a warm, dry, sunny place. 

I am grateful that I've been able to live in 3 of the 4 corners of the US and really feel that moving to a new place breaks you out of your own comfort zone. You either adapt gracefully, resist forcefully or allow things to just be, but hope for a better tomorrow. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Confessions of the Confectionery kind

I have a confession to make. I was at a birthday party over the weekend and there on the side table sat about 40 cupcakes. Normally, I would walk away but as I got closer and could actually SMELL THE BUTTERCREAM frosting, I couldn't resist. So I ate inhaled one. 
In about 7.5 seconds. 


Not only did I blow up like a balloon but since then have had more sugar cravings and have unfortunately been giving into them. I justified it by making sure the treats remained dairy and gluten free (however that cupcake certainly was not) but I've realized that sugar in anything other than teeny tiny doses, is not something I can digest. 

I'm getting back on track and detoxifying my body from the effects of the demon that is sugar by drinking lots of water, detox teas and foods high in alkaline. I used to live by the old adage, "everything in moderation" but when dealing with Candida, even moderate amounts of sugar prove toxic to the system.

So what. There was a brief hiccup in what has been over 3 months of a very clean, natural and toxic free diet. I'm not going to beat myself up over it because my insides are already doing that for me. They've definitely let me know that this was not acceptable and this time, I'm listening. 
More than I ever have before. 

Oh, Chumley...

Sometimes I wonder, what it would be like to live in a house without litter boxes on top of the furniture? Somehow, I don't think this is a concern of Chumley's...

Chumley, you know I love you and one day when those litter boxes are no longer there I will wish with all my might that they were. But just sometimes, like right before I'm about to put a bite of food into my mouth or even worse, as I'm chewing and swallowing that bite of food, I really don't appreciate you pinching off a loaf 3 feet from my face.

And in case you forgot Chumley, you have other litter boxes NOT in the living room where you can do that business. The boxes on top of the couch and ottoman were put there for pee pee only (since you take such pleasure in marking those pieces!) but apparently you can't quite grasp that concept.

I am amazed at your resilience and strong will which enable you to bounce back from your many ailments. The past couple years have been especially tough on your little body and to see you maintain your energy makes us all so happy. You definitely make it known what you want when you want it (even at 5:45 am, you early riser you!) and I think that's just flippin' fantastic.

This fall, we will hopefully be celebrating your 17th birthday and I'm pretty much convinced you will outlive all of us in this house.

Just don't forget, we love you.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I love everything about...

...this video:

The people, the dancing (obvious) and the accompanying music. It's just superb, right up there with Double Dream hands.

...this tea:

It has recently been re-packaged, you might be familiar with the old packaging that looked like this:

They also have an organic line which looks like this:


And their Vanilla white tea is phenomenal:

I ordered 6 boxes each of the Original Caffeine Free and Vanilla White tea through because they offer free shipping on orders of $25 or more and their prices were better. And...I drink a lot of tea. You can also buy the Original teas at Target. It's unlike any tea I've ever had. Has a rich texture and you don't need to add anything else. No cream, sugar, lemon, just drink it straight after brewing. I definitely taste the cinnamon and clove but it's also sweetly spiced or spicy sweet (just like it indicates on the box) and I think that is why it has so much flavor. I made it iced and it tastes good but I much prefer it hot. Try it, you won't be disappointed! 

...this chocolate bar bar!

That's right, it's chocolate!!! Since the Candida diagnosis I've had to cut out a lot of stuff. I was never a big fan of dark chocolate before, it tasted disgusting to me, too bitter. Milk chocolate was always my preference, specifically milk chocolate covered sea salt caramels. (Ok 5 seconds to day dream about them and then I'll move on...) BUT! I have found an alternative that I can enjoy in small amounts. Reason being, it's dairy free and very low in sugar. Only 3 grams of sugar per serving in this bar. For comparison sake, the standard milk chocolate bar has 23 grams of sugar so that's off the list (not only because of the sugar but obviously "milk" chocolate contains dairy. 

Ok back to more things I love...

...the smell of this candle:

Another Target find, for $6. This wild currant candle smells so inviting you'll just want to stand over the flame and sniff. 

...the TV show Portlandia

Some of the characters the lead actors play are so so funny and the scenes can be a bit ridiculous but it adds to the quirkiness of the show.

So now I think it's time to light my candle, sip some tea and nibble on a chocolate square.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My ex-BFF's

Meet Pepto and Tums, my old travel buddies who never used to leave my side. Until now...

These two fellas were staples in my purse, lap top bag, knapsack, or whatever portable pouch they could squeeze into when I left the confines of home. I've not had a need for them in almost 3 months, 3 MONTHS PEOPLE!! This is a big step and one that I am taking a moment to acknowledge and celebrate.  "Ceeeeelebrate no diarrhea! COME ON!!" (Sorry, couldn't help that sing along.)

And if you're wondering why the portable Pepto bottle has the words "HOLY W..." written in red marker, let me explain. I was visiting my mom a few months ago when I had a typical digestive nightmare as I was leaving to catch my flight. I wasn't able to carry the bottle of pepto on the plane due to its size so my mom looked for a smaller airline approved bottle. She searched the bathroom for trial sized bottles which held hairspray, gel, lotions but she didn't want to put something "edible" into something that housed chemical infused liquids (even after they were washed, dried, re-washed, boiled, etc.) So when she stumbled upon her tiny bottle of Holy Water (because doesn't everyone keep a stash handy??) she said, "Here use this!" (Last I checked my mom was not a man of the cloth nor did she regularly perform exorcisms BUT she was ordained as a Catholic minister years ago and would visit hospital rooms and homes of those too sick for church to administer Communion and sprinkle their heads with the water.)

So now we had to find another contraption for the blessed water which felt more like a twisted game of Where's Waldo. After a while I asked, "Can't we just drink it?" That would be a no. Or, "How about watering the plants? Let's make them holy." Again, not acceptable. I was out of ideas so I think she ended up using tupperware or a plastic zip baggie. When I got to the airport and pulled out my bag of liquids at security of course there's no denying or disguising what that shocking pink liquid really is and as it was sliding down the belt you could clearly see the words HOLY WATER on the bottle. It made me laugh because those who saw it, the gentleman behind me and a couple of TSA agents, probably thought my anti-diarrhea juice held that much importance in my life. Which, it actually did.

But, not anymore!!

(I can't part with the bottle so once I dump the pink stuff I'll make sure to refill it with something as equally deserving as the holy water and shit stopper.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Healthier than day drinking...

I made this little video from all the photos I've collected on facebook. Tomorrow is the official first day of summer and quite frankly I'd be happy with Spring! I can count on one hand how many times we've woken up to blue skies since Spring started. Getting used to the lack of sun is still an adjustment and I'm not sure I'll ever really not be affected by it, but I think after my 3rd Spring I'm coming to the point where resisting the impossible and hoping for it to change is obviously stupid and futile. I'm trying to accept that this is just part of what comes with the NW territory and I either have to suck it up, move or find healthier ways to cope... hence the video (made during a bout with insomnia this weekend.) We are supposed to have several dry, clear days in a row and yes, that is fantastic but, it's nearing the end of June and we haven't had consistent sun in MONTHS so we darn well deserve it! I'm not going to do flip flops or cartwheels when the sun finally decides to pop out. I think that was just adding to the highs and lows because when it goes away the anxiety for whence it might or might not return was just too much. So if the sun comes out great, it's supposed to, it's called summer. Almost

Happy day before summer to all of you!!!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Was that what I think it was???

So this is going to be a personal post. For anyone grossed out or offended by period talk, just stop reading now.

It was the summer of '85. My mom and I were visiting family in North Carolina: my Aunt Janie, Uncle Howdy and my mom's mother (we called her "Meem") who was in a nursing home near my aunt and uncle's house. It was a difficult trip for my mom as Meem's health was declining and it was nearing the end of summer vacation, and in my 13 year old world, visiting a nursing home for hours in a day was not the ideal way to spend it. A few days into the trip I went for a swim in their pool and my mom came out back to tell me it was time to come inside and get ready for another visit to the home. I ignored her and kept swimming. A few minutes went by and out she came again, this time with more force in her voice announcing that we have to leave NOW. Again, I just swam along, not paying much attention. I was definitely entering the "bitchy stage" of my adolescence. The 3rd and final time my mom came outside, she was not happy. She shouted as my head popped in and out of the water and her final shriek was, "LAURA ANNE get out of that pool RIGHT NOW! We are NOT HERE TO HAVE FUN!!" I will never forget that line because up until Aunt Janie's death a couple years ago we still got quite a chuckle out of it. 

So begrudgingly I got out of the pool, put on some clothes and off to the home we went. My aunt had a fancy candy dish in the foyer and I had grabbed a handful of cinnamon disks to take along with me as a treat.

Remember these???

I had eaten quite a few of them, my tongue was bright red and started to get those little nubbies on it from eating too much sugar but that didn't do much to stop the binge. As the day went on I started to get a bit of a stomach ache so my mom took the rest of the candy away and said "No more." 

We got back to my family's house early in the evening and I remember feeling exhausted, bloated and pissed off at the world. My mom and Aunt Janie were in the kitchen making dinner which I said I didn't want, so I sulked in the living room and watched Remington Steele. Even though my tummy ached, I continued to sneak more candy, carefully opening each one so my mom didn't hear the wrappers crinkle. Next thing I knew, I woke up covered in a blanket, still sitting upright. It was still light outside, maybe 8:00pm but everyone else had gone to bed. As I got up to go to bed my lower back was incredibly sore. Maybe I thought it was from sleeping in the sitting position, or even from too much swimming, but the pain was very different from anything I had felt before. And I remember this, even now some 26 years later. 

And the other thing I will never, ever, EVER forget is when I grabbed the blanket off the couch there was a nice big bright red spot on the cushion where I sat. My aunt and uncle had a light blue couch with pale green and white floral designs and believe me when I say that spot stuck out like the Target logo. Immediately I freaked, not quite sure what to do (Google would have been nice) so I went into the kitchen, grabbed a towel and tried to dab it up. It was still very visible and I was almost in tears so I went into my mom's room, woke her up and asked for help. Now, I was not a naive 13 year old. I knew a LOT of things I probably shouldn't know at 13, all thanks to my 21 year old sister and her friends/boyfriends. So when I told my mom what happened, it was not out of ignorance, it was only because it made logical sense, based on the events of the day.

We walked over to the stained couch and I said something like, "Don't get mad, but I ate too much cinnamon candy, even after you said not to, and it's starting to come out of me." 

My mom looked at the couch, then back at me with an expression I did not recognize and hugged me tight. With pride? in her voice she said, "'re becoming a woman!!" 

I looked at her like she had seriously lost her mind and thought maybe she thinks I'm growing up because I told the truth about eating more candy but whatever her reasoning, I was convinced the red stuff was from the dye of the cinnamon disks, which continued to pour out of my ass (or so I thought.) I tried explaining this to my mom a second time because it was happening again, with more force. 

We grabbed some clean underwear from my room and my mom escorted me into the bathroom. Before leaving she told me to identify the source of the stain and that she'd be outside waiting for me. After a few seconds it was VERY clear which orifice was leaking so I cleaned up as best I could and folded some toilet paper in my panties. My stomach cramps were growing worse by the minute and I started to feel achy all over. I washed my face and brushed my teeth and opened the door only to find my mom and aunt both standing there, with ridiculous grins on their faces. And my aunt was holding a box of gigantic maxi pads with attached belts that wrapped around your waist. This scared me.

I was pissed that my mom woke up Aunt Janie to tell her "my big news" but I was even more embarrassed to tell her about the couch stain, which she casually dismissed with a hand wave. She handed me the pads and said I could use these for the night and tomorrow we'd go shopping for my own supplies. Back into the bathroom I went trying to stick what felt like a twin mattress to my teeny tiny underwear. It was the most uncomfortable feeling and the pad kept shuffling to the sides when I walked not to mention it sounded like a diaper. I was afraid it was going to seep out when I slept so my aunt gave me a soft blue babydoll nightgown (which I still have to this day!) because I didn't want to stain my pajama bottoms. I also put a dark towel on top of the sheet so as not to ruin anymore stuff in their house. Before I went to bed I asked my mom if I could call my sister and she said of course so I did. When I told her what happened she seemed surprised and thrilled and then told me that when we go to the store tomorrow to get slim tampons because pads are a sloppy mess and feel like a diaper. No shit.

The next morning at the drug store my mom fought me tooth and nail when I grabbed a box of tampons but thankfully my aunt intervened and said, "Just let her try them." When we got home I had absolutely NO CLUE how to use them, and ended up with it just sort of sitting in the middle of my lady parts, sort of like a log, not really hidden from sight if you know what I mean. It was even more uncomfortable than the pad, especially when I sat down so I ended up using some smaller Always pads that fit much better than my aunt's surfboard length wonders but were still cold and icky feeling.

From that day forward and every single month that followed I had horrific cycles, several times ending up in the ER starting in high school through my late 20s. A new gyno put me on the Depo-provera shot which alleviated some of the symptoms but after a bout with pre cervical cancer in 2000, I stopped using it. I was taking prescription motrin often up to a week before my period started to help reduce inflammation and get "in front of" the pain. Some months that helped but more often than not I would end up throwing up the pills before they even had a chance to kick in. In 2008 I had surgery to remove endometriosis that had actually grown outside of my uterus, attaching to my bladder and colon. It seemed to help for the first few months but soon was back to square one with severe pain, diarrhea and vomiting, the first day of my period.

Which brings me to the present. I had what I can only describe as a very mild pang of a cramp the morning it started. In fact, I didn't even think it really was a period at all. It lasted only 3 days and aside from minor lower back aches, that was all I got. I took zero medication, prescription or over the counter and even ended up running 5 miles on day 2!  In 26+ years of menstruating, that has NEVER happened.

I continue to reap so many rewards of my new diet and lifestyle, that I don't even miss what I thought I'd be missing! (If that makes sense.)

Sunday, June 05, 2011

A witness to beauty.

I love filling jars and vases with freshly cut flowers.
I also love waking up the next morning to find barely any water left in each jar or vase I filled.
It's a sign that life, in many forms, is thriving.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

something to think about...

I'm working on a piece for a woman's health publication and in the midst of writing my notes I came across something interesting.

While writing the word "antibiotic" I stopped and looked at it...that word, for a moment. And of course back in grade school science class we were taught the word biotic refers to life forms or all things pertaining to life.

Just to make sure that hadn't changed, I checked wikipedia:

"Biotic means relating to, produced by, or caused by living organisms. Biotic is a living component of a community; for example organisms, such as plants and animals. Biotic may also refer to: Life, the condition of living organisms."



Yep, that's about as simple as it gets. 

Allow me to introduce:

The shit machines.

Now, I mean that in the most endearing way, really I do. I LOVE my animals and everything about them but OH HOLY HELL I don't think it's possible for them to crap anymore than they do. 

While I was listening attentively to a conference call (where others just LOOOOOVE to hear themselves squawk) I decided to have some fun with my calculator and figure out how many poops I've cleaned up between the two of these blessed beasts.

And here's the result:

So let's say on average Wrigley poops two times a day. This is pretty conservative because at times he can poop 3 times on one walk but I'm going to keep it simple with just a 2 poop average per day.

So that's 730 poops a year, and he's been around 5 years and 3 months bringing his grand poop total to: 3830 poops that I (or the husband) have schlepped around in baggies or tossed out with scoopers. 

And then...Chumley.

This cat can easily pinch off  3-5 logs a day but some of his turds are little nuggets so I won't count those and stick with an average of 3 times a day for this bomb dropper.

That's 1095 poops a year, he's been around 16 years, 7 months bringing his poop count to 18,780.

Add the two together and we have a whopping total of...

(ok I feel like there needs to be a drum roll here so just imagine one in your mind for the moment)


a whopping total of....

22,610 POOPS!!!


Ok so now can you understand why I call them the shit machines!?!? Feeling really sorry for landfills at the moment.