Friday, June 30, 2017

Taking Care of Business

On Monday I had my follow up visit with my doctor to go over the lab results.  With the Whole30 regime I'm not allowed to weigh myself, but technically...she was weighing me and I just happened to notice the numbers.  I'm down six pounds so far in just eight days, so I'm feeling pretty good about this new lifestyle.

I got my Prevnar 13 shot for pneumococcal pneumonia...good to go there.

The lab results are all good with a couple of things that are getting out of whack that she thinks diet and exercise will take care of.  So I am opting for not taking anything at this time and we'll check again in six months to see what the results are.

I got the TV all hooked up and couldn't find the Amazon button so did an online chat with Vizio and learned that it needs to be updated to the next version.  Sure enough, after following their instructions and waiting for it to take effect there it was.  I've been playing with my Amazon Prime movies and learning to create a watchlist, play, pause, etc.

My estimates came back for fixing the window and replacing the back door and we may be able to get another RV style door to keep the screen door function.  Otherwise it's a steel security door.

On Tuesday I went to the dentist in the morning to get my two crowns replaced.  I'm very impressed with this office.  They are able to take the impressions right there and using some kind of a 3D printer they mill the new crowns on site.  Then they tried them in my mouth to make sure everything was good before they did the final baking.  It added another 20-30 minutes to my appointment, but there was no getting temporary crowns and having to return for the real ones.

I called the man about the door and window again today and arranged for him to come over at 4:00 for final measurements and seeing for sure which door would be best.

I ran home to get my pickleball paddle and a banana for lunch since my mouth was still frozen and I could at least manage a banana without any damage .  I played until 3:00 and decided to return a little early for a shower and get some cooking done before he came for the measurements.

You can imagine my surprise when I entered a very warm house.  The AC had quit at some point during the day and it's now 108 outside and 90 inside.  Thank goodness for our insulated windows that are helping hold it to a livable level.

The ceiling fans came on placed on the floor for my poor suffering furry friends.  I took a nice shower and wet down the cats to help with cooling.

The repairman wasn't able to come until the following day, so it was a warm and sticky night...but hey...I'm from before AC was standard in each house so I just dealt with it. With the lower temperatures it only reached about 93 degrees and in the morning it was cool enough to need my sheet and blanket again.

Wednesday morning was very productive since I needed to stick around for the arrival of the repairman, so fixed a nice breakfast of bacon with eggs and left over asparagus.  The old me would have been all whiny about not being able to add some goat cheese or feta cheese to this dish.  The new me was marveling at how incredible asparagus tastes.  I'm starting to have a shift in my taste buds and the flavors seem more alive than ever before and I realize that in the past all I was tasting was the cheese.

The repairman arrived about 2:00 and our AC was low on freon.  Now it's runny nice and things are cool again.

Each day brings a new adventure!

Long Live the Sweaty Queen

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book Report: Women and Desire ...Beyond Wanting to Be Wanted

In this book the author, Polly Young-Eisendrath, tackles answers to Freud's question about what women really want.

This resonated with me during my period of hermitage as I grapple with the question of "What do I want from my life?"  I don't think this question is unique to any woman and my personal belief is that it all stems from the way we were raised.  Think about all the stories, such as Cinderella, we were fed growing up while forming our values as little girls.

We were trained that if we were good enough, nice enough, pretty enough, well mannered and sweet then some day a handsome prince would come sweeping down the hillside on his white stallion to claim us as his own and we'd live happily ever after.  Bull-crap!

That's why this book really hit a nerve as I learned how women have been conditioned to be the Object of Desire, with no core self, no clear autonomy and self determination under our own control.  The Prince Charming is the Subject of the story and the helpless damsel in distress is merely the Object of Desire.

Here is a quote from the book that I liked: "When you learn to speak the truth, you come to recognize that you have no special power over others to make them do your bidding.  You cannot pressure or scare away others by speaking your desires.  Other adults also have free will.  We all have a responsibility to speak our own desires and to respect those of others."

While reading this book I was recalling how my daughter expressly asked that we not compliment the granddaughters on how pretty they were, even though they are stunningly gorgeous.  We were asked to tell them how smart they were, how brave, how clever, how tough...anything but focus on their physical attributes.  These little girls are now young women who are spirited and not afraid to speak their minds!

A friend of mine, Yifat Gohar Levenstein, has recently proclaimed a year long ban of not shopping to break ties with consumerism and portions of one chapter in this book really hit home with me on how she feels. She will be sharing her experiences on a month by month basis and it should be interesting to see how it goes.

Women have been historically linked to shopping as men are to sports as it provides a feeling of being in control and making our own choices.  But this is just a clever ruse as well.

Years ago only the elite would afford the latest styles and fashions while the everyday woman looked on in longing.  Then came the department stores with ready-to-wear clothing that allowed access to more women to participate in the competition for fashion.  This phenomenon forged a pattern in women to shop ever three or four days as it became an outlet for social interaction and pleasure.

As the author states "a profound cultural transformation in which both women and stores were caught up in the murky business of creating desires and longings that can never be satisfied." "Shopping was designed for women as an intoxicating mix of promises to be both the Object and the Subject of Desire"

A further extension of this is the contemporary shopping mall and mega discount store that can now appeal to all women at all income levels.  It all comes down to consumerism and a ploy to reach as wide a market as possible.

Then the author brings down the sad truth: "But women are not in control of either the fashion industry or other large retail enterprises, they have once again been tricked into believing they have power as Objects of Desire. Retailers seduce us to buy freedom when no freedom is available. Instead of freedom, modern consumerism creates more desire, even compulsion". Shopping was designed to create and multiply desires for things and images. Most shoppers are unconscious or somewhat unconscious that shopping environments, especially beautiful and sensually pleasing ones, create need and breed desire."

Does this make you think of all those stupid purchases we've made to "make us feel better"?  I know I sure did.  The thrill of seeing the item, purchasing it and then having it hang in the closet and seldom or never worn.  Reading this book and learning where that need comes from made me both angry and sad.  Is it any wonder that teenagers flock to the mall? 

She brings it home with how to break this cycle and become the Subject of our own story, rather than molding ourselves  into what we believe will make us desirable to others.  The following is a collection of quotes from the book that gave me strength and hope in creating myself into the person I want to be.

  • Personal sovereignty or autonomy means feeling free to choose and to intend your actions.
  • To be capable of personal sovereignty, you must come to know all your desires.
  • Holding on to your authority means breathing deeply and standing firmly behind your decision without shame or blame.
  • If we don't wake up to the problem of wanting to be wanted, and practice being the Subjects of our own desires, then we feel that others are always choosing for us, that our lives do not belong to us. We don't feel responsible for actions because we feel out of control.
  • Personal sovereignty is the ability to know and practice self-determination in whatever circumstances you find yourself.
  • Those who identify with being Objects rather than Subjects function more in terms of what they "ought" to do, what they "have to" do, or what they "should" do because their sense of worth arises from others' evaluations, reflections, desires.
  • Men have been cheated out of a range of feelings and experiences in emulating the lone hero, resulting in unhealthy internal pressures, excessive narcissism, and feelings of isolation, resentment, and depression.
  • Unless you have two options, you don't have a choice.
  • To engage your desires, with the recognition that they will teach you about your limitations, your vulnerability, and your conflicts, as well as your strengths, will lead to the discovery of your own nature, of who you are.
It has been an interesting journey into the self as I read and learn and practice making my own choices.

Long Live the Queen of Books

New Toys for a New Life

One of the members of my support team, we'll call her Jennifer because that's her name, has been very instrumental in guiding me through these dietary changes in my life.

She is a guru in the kitchen for knowing what to buy and how to fix it in a healthy manner and I'm happy to have her on my team.

Since so much of the food I'm eating now requires baking and roasting and the temperatures this week are expected to be record setting highs of near 120 degrees; I was very intrigued by her mention of a NuWave Oven which generates very little heat.

So, I was off to Bed Bath & Beyond to search out this little treasure.  Actually, it's not so little, but is very light.  Since I have a very small space to work in I opted for setting it up on a table on the deck, but soon it was too hot to be outside and it had to come back in.

Thankfully it fit in the weird useless corner shelf, otherwise there was no space for it at all.

It has a clear dome so you can watch the food cooking, which is kind of fun.  Nothing like watching the bacon sizzle and turn brown.

Also, since I'm not using the oven in my house now I've put the cover over the cooktop and have been using my induction burner for any indoor cooking I need to do.

This is simplifying my cooking since there is a lot of food prep with this diet, but it should be worth it and it did provide an excuse for some new toys!

Long Live the Queen

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Before I started my Whole 30 diet I was heating up the last frozen pizza.  I was so looking forward to this treat since I won't be eating pizza for a long time.

I preheated the oven and slid it into place and then set the timer on the microwave.  Why I don't use the one on the oven, I don't know...I always use the microwave.

Hmm, it says door ajar, so I opened and closed the door and hit START again and went to the other room to watch TV while my last pizza supper cooked.

Holy crap, batman!  What is that horrible smell?  Is my pizza burning?  It smells like plastic, didn't I remove the wrapper?

Yikes!  I noticed the microwave was turning around and the charred remnants that were my plastic splash guard and my cloth trivet holders were smoking.  I didn't see any flames and when I opened the door the smoke poured out and the smell was awful. 

I ran for the patio door to get outside and breathe, it was choking me.  Then I ran back in and wet down a dish towel to put over my nose and mouth and pondered what to do.

Well, pondered may be an exaggeration...I was freaking out to be honest.

So, I started to fill the sink with water and sacrificed one of my plastic spatulas to the task of scooping out the smoking hot mess.  The plastic stretched upwards like cheese on a pizza when you cut away that first slice.  I tossed it into the water and ran more water over the top of it.

Oooooh!  Like a cheese on a pizza...I'd forgotten the pizza in the oven by this time.  So I turned off the oven and opened the door to more smoke as I pulled out a very crispy,charred pizza.  Damn, damn and double damn.

Since this was my last pizza to be had and I was hungry I ate the better parts of the pizza and threw the rest.  

Hmmm, maybe the universe is trying to tell me something here.  It's a good thing I'm starting this new lifestyle change!

Long Live the Queen of Burnt Offerings

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Week One of the Whole 30 Completed

Well, the first week of this new diet is done and without any major setbacks...until today.  It wasn't a major setback, but more of a small blip.

I was checking out a new synagogue today and did not plan my meals well.  For breakfast I wasn't hungry so only had some honeydew melon.  I took a banana with me to eat in the car, but I was very stressed and anxious of this new synagogue and pulled into a McDonald's.

This isn't going to end well was my first thought.  I ordered the sausage and egg burritos with a hash brown and orange juice.  I didn't plan to eat the tortilla, but threw caution to the wind and chomped down.  The orange juice in retrospect probably had more sugar in it than I really needed, but it seemed the safer choice.  The hash brown is just potatoes, even though the frying probably wasn't completely kosher either.

Ooops, what an odd choice of word right before going into shul.

The service was lovely and I felt welcomed and embraced by the tiny group that made up the service.  Apparently summer time is hard on all shuls in their endeavor to make a minyan.

I really enjoyed the entire experience and think I found my new spiritual home.  For the kiddish they had what appeared to be white grape juice and some challah.  I drank the "wine" or juice, not sure since it was a tiny amount and took a teensy bit of bread since it seemed more important to "break bread" with this group than follow the diet to the letter.

After I finished up some shopping I stopped for a haircut and to pick up some groceries.  When I got home I fixed myself a nice big taco salad made with some bison meat I'd prepared yesterday.  I found a salsa that looked the most Whole 30 compliant and it added a kick to my taste buds that was needed badly.

Technically I should be starting on Day 1 again as the rules state, but I'm a rebel and will just continue on my merry way since my transgressions didn't seem all that severe.  I do have to admit that after my small indulgences every sweet treat I spotted the rest of the day was calling my name louder than the day prior.

Oh well, tomorrow is another day and I'll resume with new vigor and strength.

Long Live the Hungry Queen

Friday, June 23, 2017

They're So Shiny!

I went to my new dentist in Arizona and found out I need to have two crowns replaced...bummer.  But to sweeten the deal they threw in the office exam with the xrays and offered me a free whitening session.

I'd never tried this before and didn't think it would make much of a difference since I've been a cola drinker my entire life and they are pretty yellow.

But I was wrong.  Here is the before photo:

Here I am during the procedure...will the real Hannibel Lector please stand up?

And here is the final result. 

I was not able to drink any soda or eat anything colored like catsup for 48 hours, so this just jump started my new Whole 30 diet I was scheduled to begin soon.  More on that later.

Long Live the Queen

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A New Doctor Has Been Found...and a New Life Style

I went to one doctor for a prescription refill, but just didn't have a great feeling about the clinic or her, so did not return for the physical.

Thankfully one of my Thursday night ladies told me of a physician she liked and I made an appointment with the nurse practitioner there.

I had my initial exam with her and absolutely adore her.  She's personable and easy to talk with.

My plan was to ask her to recommend me for the lap band procedure, but I knew from earlier research that my BMI isn't high enough to qualify for this.  She was not able to recommend this procedure and instead told me about her own journey with the Whole 30.  Of course this necessitated a visit to Barnes & Noble!

The premise behind this plan is to eliminate foods demonstrated by science that promote unhealthy cravings and habits, disrupt the metabolism, damage the digestive tract and burden the immune system.

For 30 days you abstain from all alcohol, sugar, grains, legumes and dairy.  You are not allowed to weigh yourself or check measurements during the 30 days.

After 30 days you carefully and systematically reintroduce foods to see how they impact your cravings, mood, energy, sleep, digestion, pain level, body composition and athletic performance.

They state very clearly that this will change your life as it alters the emotional relationship you have with food.  I know I am a sugar addict and an emotional eater, so this is of great interest to me.  My mother always told me that she used to put coca cola in my bottle at about 8 months old, because I liked it.  No wonder I have a major coke habit!  The part I'm really hopeful about is the weight loss that most people experience.

Because we are so accustomed to heavy doses of sugar in our diet our bodies have become dependent on this for an energy source.  When the sugar is removed, the body will relearn how to burn body fat for the energy it needs.

To get started you need to set a start date.  I chose June 18th as the number 18 corresponds to the word "chai" in Hebrew and that means "life".  Since I am embarking on a new life of self discovery and trading in old habits for a new way of thinking and being, this date resonated with me.

Step two is to build a support team.  That one was easy.

Step three is to get the house ready.  This meant removing all the forbidden foods to remove temptation.  We have a lady in the park who takes food (even opened containers) to a food bank, so I boxed and bagged up everything and threw some others that were out of date and removed all temptation.

Step four is to plan for success.  This involves filling the pantry and fridge with items that are approved for this venture, making some meal plans and planning for what to do when eating out.  Since I'm living a solitary live that is much easier with only myself to plan for.  I think I'll be eating a lot of salads when I go out, and carrying my own dressing...but it's about the company and not the food anyway so that's fine.

Step five is to toss the scale.  You are allowed one weigh in but then are not to check your weight until the end of the 30 day period.  This is because your weight can fluctuate greatly day to day and cause discouragement.  So the scale is up on top of the washer/dryer...out of sight and out of mind.  Next I'll do my measurements and take some photos of myself for a before and after photo.  You will probably not see these since I plan to use the cell phone for some nude photos.  But I may decide to do some in a swim suit so I could share the results as well.

The book guides you through day by day as to what emotions you may expect and they are brutally honest.   My doctor warned me that about day 14 you'll want to kill someone, so it's a good thing Left Brain is safely tucked away in Minnesota.

They also provide pdf files to download that guide you to the correct foods and even supply a shopping list.  I've never read so many labels in my life.

I'll keep you posted as to how things go.

Long Live the Queen of Self Improvement

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Food Poisoning Adventure

Well, I had a new adventure recently and not one I want to repeat anytime soon.

I had an early lunch at In & Out Burger because I knew I'd be out with the Thursday Ladies Night out group and I love PF Changs, so didn't want to miss that.

Within two or three hours I had the worst headache, and I seldom every get these.  I was so tired and my stomach didn't feel great so I had to call text in my regrets that I couldn't make it.  Bummer.

By Friday the headache and fatigue was joined by stomach cramping and bloating.  It was like being a teenager again and afflicted with the most horrible menstrual cramps, but given my age I didn't think it was my "monthly visitor" making a guest appearance.  

By Saturday the bloating and cramping intensified and I dragged myself to the store for some gas-X, a product I've never had to use.  It didn't seem to help much.  I was attending a synagogue in Chandler that I wanted to test drive and after two hours I had to sneak out due to my discomfort.

Now I was getting worried and started checking online to self-diagnose.  Could it be appendicitis?   Nope, that's on the right side and so far this was pretty centralized.  Perhaps an ectopic pregnancy?  Hmm, this is very rare with fewer than 200,000 cases per year...that and being over 65 pretty much ruled that out.

I was also having a major acne outbreak and a rash on my cheeks (the ones on my face or I wouldn't have even noticed), but I thought maybe that was just stress or anxiety. 

Then I found the most likely poisoning.  The time line fit as well as all the symptoms,including the rash.  I guess the name of the fast food establishment I visited should be In & Out...Kinda.  As I look back I thought the burger looked a little undercooked and I learned this when I got my food handlers license, but I ate it anyway.

Sunday was a little better with the cramping starting to go away, just bloated and tired, sleeping all the time.  I knew things were improving when I found I could cough without wanting to cry.  I was to give a massage that afternoon, but thankfully she was understanding when I had to cancel.

Monday was still a little better, not as tired now but still feeling gassy.  Treated myself to some chicken noodle soup and a 7-up for lunch and decided to try pickleball (indoors).  I'm so glad I did that and I'm even more thankful for the noise of the basketball in the next gym to cover the sounds of my belching and farting while I played.  Apparently all that movement got the excess air out and soon was feeling really good.  

What can I say...chicken noodle soup and pickleball - the cure for what ails you.

Long Live the Queen

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monsoon Season

We're setting record highs here in Arizona and I have to admit that the heat is intense.  There's a reason they describe Arizona as the place Hell goes when it needs to warm up.

I find myself doing anything outside as early in the morning as possible.  It was 86 at 5:30 this morning when I took George for a ride in the stroller.  Gracie politely hissed her preference not to join in the fun.

This season is known for its extreme weather and it's kind of fun to be here to witness it.  It hasn't really stopped me from doing much and people are still hiking in the mountains...but you won't find me out there!

As I've been told the monsoon season is here and we can experience severe dust storms called haboobs.  Here are some photos of these walls of dust that can reach miles high.

 Then there are the flash floods that cause further damage. 

This is an older photo of one such case to demonstrate the power of water in a state where you don't usually see much of it.

The full-timers in the park tell me that the storms in Mesa are not generally this severe.  Apparently the rains can come so hard you can't see the house across the street.  This tends to last about a half an hour and then the flooding in the streets is gone in about an hour and you'd never knew it rained.

Long Live the Queen

White Ladder Shelf

I've wanted one of these ladder shelves for some time, so I picked up this one at Target.

Unfortunately when I went to assemble it one of the shelves was badly damaged.  I dreaded returning it to the store and it was the only one they had.

So I called the customer support line and they sent me a replacement part.

After this arrived I continued with my construction only to find another piece had gotten damaged.  This wood seems very fragile.  Not wanting to wait for another piece I decided it looked like it would hold and didn't show so just went ahead with it.

Now I have a place for my massage supplies and music.

Long Live the Queen

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Angels Among Us

It was one of those "down days" in a roller coaster of emotions and I was at a loss for what to do.  I definitely had to get out of the house for a bit, but didn't feel like really going anywhere.

So it was off to the library to work on the jigsaw puzzle spread out on the big table there.  I had the room to myself as I talked through my emotions, with lots of swearing and tears, which seems to be part of this process.

Then in walked a woman, so I quietly blew my nose and composed myself until she would leave.  That was the plan.

She sat at the table with me and we started a conversation which quickly progressed into personal issues.  Isn't this always the way with women?

After the appropriate amount of small talk, I shared my journey with her as to my self imposed exile for the summer to think things through and get my head on straight as to what I wanted my "Golden Years" to entail.

She shared her story of the loss of her husband last February after a long and difficult illness.  I thought she would be less sympathetic to my leaving a decent man because I felt I wanted more out of life and needed the distance to sort things through.  I was totally wrong.  

She commended my decision and said she wished her sister had had the gumption to do the same thing in her marriage.

We must have talked for at least an hour, time seemed to stand still and nobody entered the room during the entire conversation. It was just me and my new 92 year old role model.

She thanked me for talking to her and remarked on how much she enjoyed our conversation and new friendship.  I thanked her for lifting my spirits out of the doldrums and helping me clear my mind.

We both share the same belief that G-d orchestrates this kind of thing and our meeting was no accident and hugged each other goodbye.

It was such an honor to be in her presence and learn from her years of wisdom.  I can't wait to see her again.

Long Live the Queen