Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Keto Clarity or ConfusionI

I met with my natural health specialist yesterday in the ongoing effort to reduce inflammation and discomfort in my scalp. After four years of  various types of pain, itching and stinging around the top of  my head, I've almost given up hope of a disappearance.

My new hope for a cure is a 'ketogenic diet'.  It's related to Paleo, in that I would eat mostly fat and protein with a small percent of carbohydrates. The idea is that humans are born and bred to be "fat - burners;" fat is the best fuel for our brains and bodies. Unfortunately, we've all been brainwashed to eat low fat and high carb diets - and carbs turn into sugar. Sugar equals inflammation and damage in the body and possibly the brain.

I've been on a Paleo diet before; it helped me recover from the most intense phase of my illness. Ditching grains healed my gut and put some pounds back on when I dearly needed them.  But I've drifted from that diet as I've felt better,  back to corn and oatmeal and SUGAR.  My sugar cravings crack the whip around 7pm, and I'm tired of being their slave.

So I ordered a book to help me, a few obscure fats / oils,  and even some keto urine strips to measure how successfully I can change from a carb - burner to a fat - burner. Today I'm off to buy avocados and pork rinds (!) to satisfy the crunch cravings, as well as other high fat meats and egg proteins. If going ketogenic can make me pain free, then I'll be hooked for life. Just have to get started down the right road.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Oh my gosh no, another cat post!

Why cats may seem like a better bet than children . .  .

The cat, he purreth loudly, as I start to write this ode on his behalf. He eats tidily from his little bowls, and never questions my choice of meals. When he desires more food, he meows pitifully and looks at me with big gold eyes, never using the words "I'm starving! What do we have?" in churlish voice.

The cat is quiet, padding around on elegant little paws that will never require boat-sized shoes. He washes regularly without reminders and cleans up after himself. He rumbles in his chest and closes his eyes blissfully when I pet him, blinking his eyes slowly to show adoration. He never utters the words "Mom!! Mom!! Mom!!" in demanding or disappointed tones.

The cat is small. He sleeps much of the day and night. When I step on his paw or his tail by horrible accident, he forgives me immediately and comes back for consolation. He never remembers my slight to throw it back in my face, as in "You stepped on my tail this morning and so I deserve extra ice cream tonight!"

The cat does not struggle with peer issues; his family suffices. He doesn't require carpools. He charms visitors to the home with his polite curiosity. He doesn't like loud music. The view out the window entertains him for hours. He doesn't need to learn math.  Best of all - he likes me in workout clothes and without makeup.

All hail the cat!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Goodbye to Nibbles

We said goodbye to Nibbles this afternoon after a short unexplained illness. The little brown guinea pig with the flat-top cowlick had been a circumspect and satisfactory pet in all ways since Aden acquired him in third grade. Six years is a long life for a pig - the kids had even begun to wonder when his number might be up.  Still, it was a shock to witness his sudden decline. Yesterday in perfect health - today passing through the curtain to the great beyond.

Tears were shed over the loss, though more than one kiddo whispered to me discretely, "Now we can get another cat!" (I might have said that our next cat purchase had to wait until the piggle's passage). It's shocking, even as an adult, to see how quickly living things can become non-living. Hits just a little too close to home.

Hopefully the enervating guinea pig energy is happy in some far-off timothy-hay heaven, or that he gets a reincarnation as a mammal of the higher order. I'm cheering for some species that doesn't have to spend years in a cage. Hey, perhaps even as our next cat....?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Sugarboo

Come to think of it, I have better things to do than pick the chocolate chips out of chocolate chip cookies as if I was really going to abstain from eating the broken leftovers. I scurried the chips into my mouth last night while absent-mindedly writing my to-do list for today. The internal dialogue went something like this:

"This is stupid. What if Rob turns around and catches me with my face in the Tupperware?"

"So what? I didn't eat those amazing - looking brownies at book club so it's actually possible that I'm hungry now."

"You're never hungry at 9:00pm. Plus, you already had a dark chocolate truffle. Dessert is OVER."

"Well since I'm eating the second dessert while cleaning the kitchen it doesn't really count. Calories consumed while doing chores are void."

And so on.  I may be in denial over the stupidity of eating various trifles but I fully acknowledge my sugar addiction, which is manageable during the day but rages out of my control between the hours of 7 and 9 pm. (It would probably rage later if I went to bed after 9:30).

As the new year begins and resolutions are made, I don't even know what to say about the sugar issue. It's a bugaboo all right. The best I can hope for is that one veggie smoothie + one Trader Joe's kale salad = dark chocolate truffle + several chocolate chip cookies. That and convince my loved ones to stop baking cookies ;-)!

Thursday, January 7, 2016


William and I were in Arizona last weekend for water polo and he wanted to see the movie Concussion in the hours between the end of camp and our flight home. We used Google maps to find a great little theater where we got to pick our seats - which turned out to be armchairs that reclined! So we were chillaxing in this little theater with our feet up and our eyelids fluttering, right up until minute the the movie started and I was poleaxed by images of heads butting, neurons shearing, and middle-aged men descending to madness before the horrified eyes of friends and family.

Having temporarily "lost my mind" at the height of my illness, I can assure you that nothing scares or sickens me more than the thought of going crazy. Pain, too, I've had enough of that for a long time. So to watch the forty and fifty-year-old former NFL stars suffer from CTE - enough pain and madness for suicide - hit way too close to home.

Our boys never wanted to play football, so that hasn't been an issue at our house. My problem now is that I don't even think I can watch football on TV - especially the NFL.  Any time I see a hard tackle I feel sick to my stomach.  I just saw the film last Sunday and it was difficult to make it through that evening and the next few days without being bombarded by football in the airport, on TV at home, and in the Denver Post, which often has a special section just for the Broncos, as well as headlines on page 1.

So I don't know how to navigate the upcoming playoff season. The Broncos apparently have a bye week this week so I can potentially avoid other games without internal conflict, but when the home team plays again on the 17th I might have a hard time. I feel like watching is supporting the game, even advocating the NFL, and that no longer feels like the sane alternative.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Montana Christmas 2015

A poetic draft of thoughts from our splendid, snowy Montana Christmas. Thanks so much to Nana, Papa, and Aunt Karen for prepping and planning, baking and cleaning and hosting with grace and kindness. Much love to the Chicago Clav cousins who are "more friends than cousins" to quote my kids, and to Uncle John and Aunt Carol for their good humor, generosity and endless sledding and shoveling diversions. Love and miss you already!

Montana Christmas 2015

A black comma of coots punctuates the glacial lake.
They part the thin bay ice from miniature winter waves,
Which cause barely a ripple under the black birds,
So crowded to avoid eagle’s predator eye.

Eight mule does sleep, adrift on the fifth fairway
Below our house and above the sand trap
Where the buck stands watchful in the purple
Morning half-light, so dark so late.

Yesterday he slumbered under the girls’ window,
Lifting his four-pointed head when they parted the blinds, and
Shrieking, ran for the camera. At the flash he rose and trotted
Away towards his ladies, taking care not to seem startled.

We saw no wildlife while skiing Big Mountain,
Only a Candyland forest of heavily frosted trees, some crusted so thickly
That a ski pole’s poke on the underside of green boughs
Could dislodge only flecks, like powdered sugar.

The trees, troops of sentinels in winter armor,
Framed our view of the valley where low clouds and fog smudged
A faint pink grapefruit sun struggling valiantly to rise.
Jesus held his hands to the pale light as our breath
Steamed out through scarves and dickies.

And if our visit, like the coot’s comma, punctuated Christmas visits to Montana,
I believe it was more of an exclamation point,
A trumpeted finale to an era of sledding the golf course and sleeping in late,
Watching full moons shine over ten-foot Christmas trees,
As flocks of stockings are laid on the rocky hearth.