Friday, April 01, 2016

Counting Calories

Counting calories is hard.
Sure, it's manageable IF you're eating food straight out of a box, with a nutrition label that tells you how many calories are in it.  But that's not the best nutrition.  Nor the best taste. 

Daughter1 told Daughter3 about her discovery:  
The website harnesses the power of the internet to do all sorts of figuring for you.  For example, if you type in "banana," it will offer you choices of a small, medium, or large banana (with lengths to help you figure out size), and then it adds in a calorie count.  It has restaurant food in its search engines.  It has brand names, so you can look up Aldi spaghetti sauce or Starkist tuna or King Arthur flour.  

Best of all -- you can add recipes and it will figure that calorie count for you.  One time, Andrew had a project at school to evaluate his diet; it was far too difficult to eat the real food he was accustomed to.  Instead, he spent a few days eating instafood and fast food.  During that project, his goal was that all food come with a label listing the calories, protein, fat, etc.  But with LoseIt, we can record what went into the stirfry or casserole or salad, and the program figures up how many calories there are.  Maggie can also have "recipes" for things she eats regularly (such as the sandwich she frequently takes with her on school days) to simplify even further the record-keeping.

Maggie is motivated to use this.  She finds it easier to avoid the junk food when she knows she'll have to admit it to herself and watch the calories add up on her daily tote board.  She finds that exercise is easier when she enjoys the reward of typing in how far she walked or how many minutes she rode her bike, and sees her day's calorie-budget increase.  She set herself a goal of 2# loss per month, but she's far ahead of that for her first month.  

After a month of using the program, an added [math] bonus is that both Maggie and I are getting much better at estimating weights, volumes, and calorie counts.  

By the way, this program would be way easier with a smart phone, but LoseIt works just fine with a desktop.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Old Navy

I have a pair of jeans.
I would like another pair of jeans.

I am tall.  My legs are so freaky long that it's hard to buy pants.  I haven't had to buy pants for quite a while because I had been wearing dress-up clothes for work and church.  Every few months I've been doing some online shopping, trying to find a pair of jeans. 

Why is it so difficult to find jeans without spandex?!
Why doesn't anybody make plain old sturdy jeans, cotton jeans?
Jeans that you could wear in the garden or in the woods or on a hike?

Because of the ridiculous shoe heights that are popular right now, apparently the jeans are extra long right now.  My daughter told me that Old Navy sells really long jeans.

I hate shopping.
I hate clothes shopping even more than other shopping.
But I bit the bullet and stopped at Old Navy yesterday.

The background music was loud.  It was awful.  It had songs with the f-word.

The store was over-crowded with customers and not enough staff.

The clothing was in disarray.  It took forever to find something to try on: jeans in size 4, size 16, size 12, size 14, and size 8 were all in one stack.  It made me wonder if some trouble-makers had come in and surreptitiously spent hours rearranging the jeans to make all the stacks completely chaotic.

I finally resigned myself to buying jeans with spandex.  When the gal rang up my bill, it came to $31.68.  I didn't have a ten or the correct change, so I handed the clerk $42.  She was confused and handed back $1.  "It's only thirty-ONE sixty-eight."  Right.  I tried to explain about the 68 cents.  She argued with me.  She did not understand.  I finally told her, "Just type $42 into the cash register.  It will tell you how much change I should get, and then maybe you'll understand."  She then figured out the $10-bill easily enough, but she had trouble figuring out how to make the 32 cents. 

Left the store.
Noticed a men's clothing store next door -- a store that specializes in work clothes.
Went in.
Sure enough, they carry a few women's jeans.

Dang it -- they're all spandex too.

Decided to start trying on men's jeans. 
Because men's jeans come in durable COTTON.
Bought a pair.
They will need to have tucks in the waist.  But if that's what it takes to get real jeans instead of silly little fashion jeans, then okay.

Went back to Old Navy to return the spandex jeans.  Stood in a long line for the cash registers again.

Two twenty-something girls were in front of me, killing time on their phones, laughing and joking together while they waited.  One of them came across a video on her phone that she wanted to show her pal.  Held it up between the two of them.  It so happens that everybody in line behind them could see clearly too.  It was a porn video. 

I ought not say I will never set foot in an Old Navy again.  Something may force me to shop there one day.  But right now I can't imagine what level of desperation it would take for me to shop there again.  It was a cruddy two hours.

And some people think shopping is FUN.

Monday, February 22, 2016

From Choir Long Long Ago

I can remember so many songs from high-school choir that I'd rather not remember.  But some of what we sang was fantastic.  Two pieces in particular are songs I occasionally like to pull up on you-tube and play on repeat.  But I can never remember the composers' names to hunt them up.  So for ease of searching next time --

For Good Friday
Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs (by Karl Heinrich Graun)

and connected to Rogate's introit
With a Voice of Singing (by Martin Shaw)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Religious Freedom

Is religious freedom a civil right?

We had a discussion at church tonight.  From one perspective, religious freedom is not a civil right.  It is a God-given right.  We are free.  We are in Christ.  We are live in that freedom of the Gospel, that freedom of the forgiveness of sins, that freedom to speak the truth. 

Of course, that may mean we are also free to suffer on account of the Gospel.  "Blessed are you when men persecute you and revile you and speak all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake." 

The Constitution's first amendment guarantees suggests that the government not infringe on religious freedom.  That part is a CIVIL right.  A couple of centuries ago, our government wanted to ensure that people would not be persecuted for believing, speaking, and acting upon their religious beliefs.  And ... what the government gives, it can take away. 

So yes, we are free with regard to religion.
But no, we are not free to expect that there will be no suffering and no persecution.



We have been talking frequently about Daniel.  The book of Daniel shows us how believers lived and confessed during times of religious persecution.  The ones who believed in the Lord worked [gasp] for the good [gasp] of the government which was persecuting them.  They did not hide their trust and their prayers; neither did they flaunt it and be "Bible-thumpers."  They did their jobs, went about their business, helped the pagans who had kidnapped them, and then received death sentences for refusing to bow down to idols.  They enjoyed "freedom of religion" in the true sense of the word.  No one could make them deny the Faith.  These folks did not, however, have a civil right to religious liberty.

Can we fix the government so that our civil rights are once again guarantees and not mere wishes?  Maybe.  Probably not.  The problem is not new.  It started a century (or more) ago; the changes have been picking up speed.  Forty or fifty years ago all the problems we see today were already in existence; they had not yet come to fruition; but they had already started.  (This too is not unlike what Daniel experienced.)  I find it very interesting that we see nowhere that Daniel was counting on Cyrus or the work of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Daniel was not agitating for the government to change its policy.  Daniel's hope was in the promises of the Lord, not in fixing things here on earth. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pork Tenderloin

For my kids: This is the recipe for the pork we had on Sunday.  I don't know who/where I got it from -- probably a melding of several online recipes.  It takes about 40 minutes.

The pork tenderloins at the Pig come with two in a 2.5# package.  Each tenderloin is a little over 1#.  The whole package would be 4-6 servings.  The recipe below is for cooking both the pieces at the same time.

Use a paring knife to trim any silver skin from the tenderloin, as this silver skin will get tough.
Pat tenderloin dry with paper towel.
Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven over medium heat, till oil shimmers.

Coat the meat pieces with
1 Tbsp olive oil
and season with 
1/2 Tbsp salt 

Sear meat in skillet.  Cook each side for about 3 minutes, until nicely browned, for a total of 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice or chop
2 onions
2 apples

Begin preheating oven to 450.
When meat is seared, remove to a platter.

Add another Tbsp of oil to the skillet (if necessary) and saute onions and apples for about 5 minutes.
While the apples are frying, rub into meat:
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper

Add 1/4 tsp thyme to onions.  Top onions/apples with meat.   Slide skillet into hot oven.
Roast 10-15 minutes, until meat thermometer reads 145-150.  Don't overcook.
Put meat on clean platter; cover with foil; let rest 10 minutes.
Put skillet back on a medium burner.  Add
1 cup chicken broth to skillet.
Stir and scrape browned bits from bottom of skillet.
Bring to boil.  Reduce to simmer.  Cook until sauce reduces by half.
Slice meat. 
Apples and onions go on the bottom of the platter, topped by meat slices, topped by the sauce.



I substituted the 10 minutes of roasting with the crockpot.  After frying the apples and onions, I added the chicken broth to the skillet, stirred to remove brown roasty bits, and then poured it in the bottom of the crockpot.  I put the meat on top.  Crockpot on low for 3 hours was a bit too long, and I did a double recipe.  So probably two hours on low [for a modern crockpot] would be good.  I don't know how much longer for a good, old-fashioned, lower-heat crockpot.  If you use the crockpot, pour the apples, onions, and sauce into a saucepan or skillet to reduce the sauce on the stovetop. 

Do you have a meat thermometer?  It's really handy for a recipe like this because you don't want to overcook it and have tough meat, and you don't want to undercook it and get trichinosis.  And on that cheery note, we should all go buy tenderloins while they're still on sale.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Brain Aneurysm Foundation

Gary tuned the radio to the ball game last night.  As I was falling asleep, a commercial grabbed my attention.  "Gary, did you hear that?  There's a Brain Aneurysm Foundation!  I never knew that."  Well, he did.  He said he used the website a lot in my ICU days.

I grabbed his iPad and started reading.  I was up far too late.  But reading the stories -- it was so compelling.  I told myself that I was just reading to see if any of the stories mentioned arachnoiditis.  But had I not given myself that excuse, I still probably would've kept reading far into the night.  Or morning....

The statistics page tells me that I'm in a small group of those who have only a small impairment.

Most people who seek help for aneurysms do so because of terrible headaches.  If people have "the most horrible headache of their life" that may be reason to seek help in ER.  On the other hand, many people have no warning signs of aneurysm.  While in the hospital, I thought (based on questions from doctors) that I had had no warning signs.  I hadn't suffered from freaky-bad headaches.  I didn't smoke.  My blood pressure was beautiful.  I didn't have the normal signs of stroke: weakness in a limb, uneven smile, blurred vision, slurred speech.  But it turns out that pain above or behind the eye is a sign of aneurysm.  That had been going on for more than half a year, and I hadn't recognized it as anything serious.  I was concerned about glaucoma and went for an eye exam.  Of course it turned out my eyeball was fine.  So I ignored the occasional pain.



Reading people's stories -- oh, how those resonated with me!

People talked about fear whenever a headache started.  "Is this going to be another humongous thing?  Will my brain explode again?"

People talked about how life is divided into the "before aneurysm" and "after aneurysm" times.

Robin wrote, "No matter how normal we may seem, believe us when we say we don't feel normal."

It's helped to read about how others mourned and grieved over the loss of "the old me." 

People mentioned how they run their finger over the scar.  It seems weird to me to touch the incision site, to feel the dent in my skull.  But I do it nearly every day.

Nobody mentioned arachnoiditis.  One man did mention a spinal tap to relieve the problem of blood pooling and contaminating the cerebral spinal fluid.  

One survivor wrote about "flat affect."  She said the doctor told her that she was likely to feel uncaring, to feel emotionally unresponsive.  I've experienced that.  Gary was so glad when my eyes teared for joy when Paul and Mandy announced they were expecting a baby.  Emotions are beginning to return.

People talked about having unrealistic expectations of themselves.  They would try to do what they used to be able to do, thinking they could (or should) be able to accomplish what used to be easy.  But they couldn't.

Survivors talked about memory lapses.  They said they'd stop in the middle of sentences to search for a lost word.  (And yes, I know that's part of aging and we all deal with it.  This is more, though.)  People talked about slower processing, and how reading or listening must be slower for me to be able to understand.  (I noticed that online training at work took me a lot longer this year than it did pre-stroke.)

Patients reflected on whether they wanted other people to know about the brain trauma.  On the one hand, sometimes people know about it and treat you differently.  Some patients don't want that stigma hanging over them: Brain-Injured Person.  On the other hand, when people around you don't know about the brain trauma, the patient so often feels compelled to explain ... to apologize for being "the post-stroke me" who is not as efficient or strong or smart or witty as I was previously.

Gabriele wrote about this apologizing, realizing that sometimes she was ashamed of the "after-me."  She wrote about needing to take more notes, make more lists, slow down, and ask for help.  It was interesting to read this after yesterday's Bible class, where Pastor talked about our tendency to long for olden days, "better days."  But the Christian life is in receiving and giving -- in that order.   We always want to be the ones giving/doing.  But sometimes we need to be in the position of having others help us, others give to us, as they serve Christ by caring for us.  Gabriele wrote about a Lent-2 sermon (Gen 12) which referred to Abram's being "banished to the promise."  We usually think that banishment is from.  But she talked about being banished to God's mercy.  That fits with what Pastor talked about, how we are not to repristinate bygone days, but live where we are, today, receiving God's mercy and His gifts, and living in love toward the neighbor that we have today. 

Summer Rice Salad

This was part of Christmas dinner.  Nobody in our family is allergic to anything in it, and that's no small feat.  The recipe makes 5-6 quarts of salad, but don't make a bunch and expect to eat it all week.  After a day and a half in the fridge, the dab of leftovers was a little soggy.  All you kids who said you wanted the recipe, here ya go ...

Toss together:
3 cups cooked & cooled brown basmati (that's 1 cup rice + 2 cups water)
2 large or 3 medium cucumbers, chopped
3 pints of grape tomatoes, halved
1 carrot, grated
4 green onions, sliced
16 oz pea pods, cut into pieces about 3/4 to 1" long
2 avocados, diced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, leaves chopped

Drizzle with olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika.
Toss.



Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cleaning for Company

I feel like such a hypocrite.

After I read Don Aslett, I told myself, "No more cleaning for company!"  I clean for us.  I clean because I don't want my space to be nasty or germy or uncomfortable. 

So it's the day before Christmas.  Company is coming.  And I am cleaning.

Self-justification commences:
I've been doing Christmas prep instead of the cleaning that I want to do for me.
I've been busy at church instead of cleaning for me.
It's been too long since I cleaned, and I've been trying to get to it.
The cats are shedding, and the hair drives me bonkers.
If I don't clean today, I can't do it until Monday, because I intend to enjoy being with family.

So the vacuum is out.
And the cat hair is being dusted up.

And I still feel like a hypocrite.


Monday, December 21, 2015

The Lord's Prayer with an Antiphon

This last week before Christmas, I have been appreciating intermingling the day's O antiphon with the Lord's Prayer.

For today:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
come and enlighten those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Hallowed be Thy name.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

Thy kingdom come.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Thy will be done.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

And forgive us our trespasses.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

And lead us not into temptation.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.
and in the shadow of death.

But deliver us from the evil one.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Second of the O Antiphons

We address Adonai.
Ruler.
Lord of might.
Law-giver.
Appearing to Moses in the burning bush.
Appearing to the Israelites in the cloud and thunder and fire at Sinai.

And what is the petition connected to this God who seems so big and scary and fierce?
"Come with an outstretched arm and redeem us."

Redeem us.

That's not scary.
That's rescue.

All of God's bigness and fierceness is directed toward saving us and defending us.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Baby's a Blessing

An unwed girl gets pregnant.  She chooses not to kill her baby.  Baby is born. 

Christians sometimes have mixed feelings.  The ladies at church wonder, "Should we throw a baby shower for her?" On the one hand, they know that the baby needs diapers and onesies and a car seat.  On the other hand, they don't want to send a message that appears to "reward" a sinful behavior.  The local woman who runs a home for moms has the best way to put this.

A baby is always a blessing.
Even if a baby is conceived in a less-than-honorable situation, even if the baby is conceived in violence, the baby is nevertheless a human being made in the image of God.  The baby is a blessing.  God's word says that children are a gift from God, a blessing from the Lord.  Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the conception, the birth of a baby is always a cause for rejoicing.