06 February 2014

Know Read Meet

The spelling of "No Red Meat" is significant, only as a tribute to my college students who struggle with spelling, syntax, sentence structure, and punctuation. I teach two sections of Freshman Composition, and it requires a tremendous amount of energy to interest them in the mechanics of English. Russian accent, copious anecdotes, mild swearing, and doggedness help to hold their attention, but it is always an uphill battle during the early weeks of each semester. Moving on...

After a long hiatus from blogging, I've returned with a passel of topics that are writhing to find their way onto the page. So, I'll start my 2014 posts with this one: I've made a conscious decision to forego eating beef and pork from now on. All the literature on autoimmune disorders strongly suggest the red meats can have a negative impact on the digestive system and overall wellness of we sufferers. 
I can honestly say I have never found myself craving meat, so it hasn't been a super sacrifice. (BTW: My daughter Rebecca is a natural-born vegetarian; when she was little, she seldom ate the meat we served on her plate. She ate everything else, but just didn't have an affinity for meat.) After 2 weeks it's going well. Even eating out is easy, when Mark orders a large meal that we can share. I eat the salad, and he eats the meat and breads. We share the veggies.

I came across this cool graphic representing "Integrative Nutrition" - a reference to the basic needs of the evolved human. The inner circle breaks down our physical needs into the common denominators: water, oils, fruits, grains, protein, and veggies. The outer circle refers to the social/emotional needs of modern woMan: relationships, spirituality, activity, and career.

The foods in each of those colored quadrants prompt me to think of my favorites: apples and carrots, quinoa, pasta, and rice;  eggs and cheese; and squash, broccoli, and tomatoes. Of course the chocolate and cookie addiction helps to keep me pudgy!

If you read this and find yourself reflecting on your own foods journey, please join in this discussion of the meatless diet. Well, I still eat chicken on occasion, but it's no more safe than the others.

The more I read about the foods fed to cattle and hogs, the more I find myself shunning the meat. The antibiotics, the growth hormones, the GMOs (genetically modified organisms) that are far from safe for human consumption won't be missed by my compromised immune system. In fact, I'm certain the break from these meats will reap positive results. I'll revisit this topic later in the year. In the meantime, please leave comments.

Happy New Year!

07 July 2013

Days 6 and 7: The Lake House

Day 6 and 7: Took a nap this morning while the kids went swimming with Telene. We said goodbye at noon and headed for Stephenville, TX to see my Jimison relatives. Winding roads into the countryside finally brought us to a sleep valley filled with the most placid, picturesque setting imaginable. And there on the hill just above the water sits my cousin Virginia Zubik’s home, flanked by a newly-acquired cabin. My cousins Dee and Elaine were there, along with my Aunt Opal, who everyone calls “Mimi”. What a passel of folks are here! Kids, grandkids, cousins, stepkids, friends, live-ins – you name it. And more food than you could eat in a week! Not just food, but dishes like “Corn Bread Salad” and “Peach Cobbler” and meats galore.

Cornbread Salad:

Layer in a trifle dish --
1 package of cornbread, cut into chunks
1 can pinto beans (well drained)
1 can of corn (well drained)
1 diced red onion
1 layer of grated cheese
Cover with Ranch Dressing
Let sit for 2 hrs before serving
(can make the night before)

Virginia, Mel, Mark and I all went for a boat ride today, after which we jumped into the lake and Beer-Bobbed. We talked and laughed in the water that was a perfect temperature for swimming. Then we got dressed and drove into a podunk town to eat at Mary's. Cool place. Came home as the sun was setting and went for a boat ride around the lake in the dark. We'll be sorry to leave tomorrow.

Next 4th of July will most likely find us back here. It was great!

04 July 2013

Day 5: San Antonio to Austin

Happy Fourth of July! Independence Day means as much to Americans as any sacred holiday ever. We do NOT take for granted the freedoms this great nation allows us. And we know that we are not "entitled" to or "given" anything in America that is not worth fighting for. I'm grateful that I can own and carry my own firearm. I'm even more grateful that I have never needed to use one to protect myself (knock on wood).

We decided to save money by moving on to Austin where Mark's niece, Telene and Shawn Griffiths live with their 4 kids (India, Ava, Max, Zane). Shawn and Telene met us at Rudy’s Bar-b-que in Leander, where we ate some of the most succulent meat I’ve ever tasted: brisket, turkey, and pork. The kids were so happy to see us, and they called us Grandpa and Grandma We had a great visit with them and their four kids – all adorable. Eva and India let us sleep in their bed, which was heavenly. And we tagged along to a barbeque, then home to watch fireworks in the neighborhood.
We're looking forward to spending the holiday and fireworks with them all. India and Ava love Grandma Kelli, cuz she sews for them. I will try to make a Barbie outfit for each of them before we leave tomorrow.

Sorry for not adding the promised photos, but I don't have a cord to attach to Mark's camera. As soon as I get one, I'll upload a bunch of pictures that exemplify our stops along this rich sojourn into America's heartland. In the meantime, KYAL (know you are loved) !

Day 4: West Texas to San Antonio

Day 4: West Texas
Didn’t sleep real well, so we didn’t wait for the alarm to go off; instead, we got up at 4:30am and repacked the car. Ate oatmeal for brecky at McDonald’s and headed southwest for San Antonio. Oil fields galore, cattle ranches, and a whole lot a’ nothin’ across West Texas.
Arrived in San Antonio around 3:30pm, dumped stuff in our modest downtown motel room so that we could get out and see the city. In spite of the heat, we jumped on a downtown trolley that took us to the Alamo, where Mark made good use of the camera. Then we crossed the street and began our stroll along the Riverwalk, lined with amazing architecture, ducks, shops, and tons of eating establishments. Since we weren't really hungry, we shared an order of fish and chips at an Irish Pub on the river. 

Everywhere we turned in San Antonio, hoards of Christian youth and their chaperones appeared (wearing turquoise backpacks adorned with penticosal slogans. My personal fave: SWAG - Saved With Amazing Grace. Evidently there's a national Christian Youth Conference taking place this week in San Antonio, where thousands of young people in colorful t-shirts have converged. Nevertheless, these kids are clean-cut, polite, non-smoking, non-cussing, and friendly.

We asked around about the downtown Fourth of July activities, only to find that 300,000 people would be joining us near the Alamo to enjoy outdoor activities, attractions, concerts, and fireworks. Hmmm, not so big on crowds over 100,000, so Mark went online to look at prices for Sea World and Six Flags here in San Antonio. Ouch! We went to bed pondering our high-priced choices...

Day 3: Carlsbad Caverns

Day 3 New Mexico
Holloman Air Base has to be the cleanest military installation in the CONUS. The violent storms from last night served as a carwash for our Kia, so be began the day clean! After driving thru Alamagordo, NM, we drove through an unexpected mountain pass in the Apache Mountains that undoubtedly contribute to New Mexico’s slogan, “The Land of Enchantment.” For an  hour we oo’d and ah’d over the beauty offered by the scenery and the cool mountain temperatures at 7500 feet above sea level. Who knew that NM would provide such a visual feast?

Our first destination of the day was the UFO capital of the world: Roswell. We expected to encounter references to UFOs and such, and we were not disappointed. We took bevy of photos as the UFO Museum in downtown Roswell, before heading south to Carlsbad. Both Mark and I had been to Carlsbad Caverns as children, but not since. The guide immediately put us in the elevator that would take us down 750 feet below the surface. Amazing! We walked the 1.4 mile path through the underground cave called “The Big Room” taking dozens of photos and enjoying the cool, subterranean climate. Our leisurely self-guided tour lasted about 90 minutes, and then we made our way to the gift shop to buy another pin for Mark’s collection, and a book for Kelli.

Hobbs, NM, was our last stop of the day. Let me just add that Hobbs smells of oil fields, and is a sprawling and bland town inhabited by weathered, hard-working folks. Not real friendly, not real clean, and not real hospitable. We probably should have kept driving to Seminole, TX, where the oil fields, peanut farms, and potato processing plants presented more appealing haunts.

For dinner, we finished off all the remaining food in our cooler: Drunken Goat and gouda cheeses with cold-cuts and crackers on gluten-free Triscuits. (Yes, I did say gf Triscuits. Yum.). Mark ate the left over Popeye’s chicken, and we shared the last of the fresh cherries and plums. We were asleep by 9:30pm.

01 July 2013

Roadtrip to Texas - Yeehaw!

My husband and I headed south for Texas on Sunday morning, after throwing our bags in the car and stopping to fill the ice chest with ice and drinks. We expected super-high temperatures, but were surprised to find Utah's southernmost towns (Monticello, Blanding, and Moab) balmy at 98 degrees.

First, let me make it clear that leaving was not easy when it meant leaving behind these adorable faces:
Naomi and Audrey - 2 of our 15 grandchildren
Our first stop was to take a few photos of the Monticello LDS Temple, which we'd never seen. Small and lovely, it sits in a neighborhood on the northwest corner of town. Exchanged hello's with folks from Texas and Idaho who had stopped for the same purpose, to take a few photos.

The next stop was at the Four Corners monument: Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico converge on a parcel of land belonging to the Navaho tribe. Their homemade arts and crafts surrounded the monument, so we bought a necklace and shaved ice drinks before heading southeast to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We spent the night in Bernelillo, a suburb of Albuquerque.

Why would you take a road trip to Texas???!!! you ask. My one and only aunt lives in Dallas with my three and only cousins, where they celebrate July 4th each year as a family reunion. I made the commitment that I would join in this celebration while my 88-year-old aunt is still alive and relatively healthy. And the last time I saw Carlsbad Caverns was in 1960. So, we are going to stop along the route and enjoy some of America's bastions of history and culture. I'm so glad you have signed on to join us. (I'll come back soon and post photos of 4 Corners, the temple, and my necklace.) In the meantime, stay tuned for Day 2...

Day 2 of Road Trip to Texas

Who knew New Mexico was so beautiful? (OOoooo - could I have more "U" alliterations?)  We drove into Albuquerque at 8am and enjoyed a walk around Old Town. It reminded me of something from a Western-genre film, but it was as quaint as Old Town San Diego and Old Town Sacramento. (If you aren't from the western U.S., I apologize for my Western-centric comparisons.) Next we drove a few miles to the Museum of Atomic and Nuclear Science in downtown Albuquerque. I enjoyed the displays of how American culture has been shaped and influenced by Atomic and Nuclear Science, from cartoons, to furniture, to EVERYTHING!
Mtn range near White Sands
Missile at WSP

This is what we saw as we drove to White Sands - monument, proving ground, and secret science center for Air Force biggies in the 40s and 50s. Their corny little museum was less than inspirational; nevertheless I felt privileged to be allowed to enter. It's not open to the public, unless you are current or retired military.

The flora and fauna are scarce in this high desert, but there are lush green valleys here and there. And the cactus have just blossomed and left their dried seeds to fall. I loved seeing these trees.

Below: This is what a lightning/thunder storm looks like before it meets up with your locale. An hour after we stopped for the night at Holloman Air Force Base outside Alamagordo, NM, these clouds descended and delighted us with a 30-minute fireworks display. The rain and wind lowered the temperature to around 60 degrees. Amazing end to July 1, 2013.
Approaching Thunderstorm on July 1 at 5pm
Tomorrow's agenda will take us to a place neither of us has ever been been. (Hint: my mobile ring-tone is the theme song from "X Files".) And we'll head to San Antonio, Texas on Wednesday! If you've been to these places, please let me know what your experience was like. 

Thanks for reading…..

03 January 2013

It's Getting Late, but...

This is for my friends and family who are facing their own mortality: Sharon, John, Sheila, and the rest who know who they are. I love Dylan Thomas's challenge, which feels more like a warm blanket than a thorn in the side. I hope you will read it and find the same comfort. I am working on memorizing it, so that I never have to look it up again. Happy New Year!

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
                                                                                                            Dylan Thomas 1914-1953