Category Archives: Health

Skim vs. Powdered

Our discussion the other day about paper plates reminded me of stories that my folks used to tell about their early married life.  My dad was in basic training in North Carolina and my mom moved there to be close to him.  She taught gym part-time and they lived in a small trailer.  One of the stories they told me about how broke they were was that they couldn’t afford to buy a set of plates.  So not only did they eat on paper plates, they cut the paper plates in half!

By the time I came along, they were in better shape, although still not great; my dad was in law school with two part time jobs and my mom was forced to quit working the minute the school district found out she was pregnant!  As a kid, things were tight, not destitute, but definitely tight. One of the ways that my mom saved on groceries was by using powdered milk.  I still remember it after all these years, chalky and for some reason never seemed to get really cold.  I hated it.

At least once a month we had Saturday dinner at my grandparents’ house – hamburger and french fry night.  There were a lot of reasons that I liked to eat my Nana and Pappy’s; one of those reasons was that they had “real” milk.  It was always very cold because that’s the way Pappy liked it and there was always plenty.  They had a special half-gallon carton holder that looked like this:

When my younger sister started school and had “real” milk every day, she began refusing to drink the powdered milk at home.  While I hadn’t been brave enough to do this on my own, I quickly followed her lead and my mom gave up and began to buy “real” milk.  I started drinking skim about 30 years ago and I’m still a big milk drinker all these years later.  My mom doesn’t understand how I can drink skim and  has suggested more than once that I “might as well go back to powdered milk”.  Yes, after all these years, she still remembers how we “forced” her to buy milk.

My milkman told me yesterday when he was making our delivery that big local dairies are going to discontinue skim milk production for a bit.  Apparently skim milk requires more steps and production time; during our current crisis, trying to keep up with demand means cutting out skim so more easily produced milks can make it to market faster.  Who would have thought?  Guess I’ll be on a higher fat milk for a while.

Do you remember any meals you enjoyed at your grandparents’?

It Hits Home!

It says a lot about you when you really decide that there is a crisis going on.  Work from home? Concert cancelled? Dog class postponed? Even the decision to stay away from Target for now didn’t bring it home to me until this:  Tuesday morning I got a note that the Hennepin County Library is closed until at least April 6.  Oh, the inhumanity!

Of course, it’s ridiculous to think this will have a serious impact on my life.  First off, I still have 14 books checked out; the library computer generously changed all the due dates to April, even the interlibrary loans.  Second off, there are tons of audio books online and I could always break down by reading books on my phone or pc.  Then there is the third off; I probably have 50 non-library books in the house that I haven’t read yet either.  I don’t think I have to panic.  Matbe Funny Planet by Ken Jennings (the Jeopardy guy) will be my next read.

What’s up next on your reading list?


Husband is slow. Motorically slow. He always has been slow.  He really can’t do much of anything quickly, and it has been a source of frustration for him that I can do things quickly.  Really quickly.  When I did my psychology internship at a VA hospital in Iowa, we interns were administered  the same  battery of neuropsychological tests that we would eventually administer to the patients.  One of the tests was the Purdue Pegboard, which is a large board with holes for pegs, and you time people to see how fast they can put the pegs in the holes. It assesses bilateral motor speed and coordination. I had the fastest time ever for anyone who had taken the test at that clinic.

Last week, I got a notification from that recent analysis of my DNA revealed me to have the Sprinter gene, common in athletes, especially in successful short distance runners. I never was an athlete, but my dad was, and he was really speedy.  In high school he could zip around the basketball court so fast that he once caused the boy assigned to guard him to start crying during a game because he couldn’t keep up with him.  He did most things really fast, and I am pretty sure I inherited that gene from him.

What genetic advantage  do you think you inherited? Make up a gene you would like to have.


It’s Raining

For a couple of years now, I have used some relaxing piano/bird song background music during the day as a way to relax and keep my balance at work.  It’s the same musical theme (YouTube) and it repeats and repeats.  There are days when I have it playing on my headset for most of the day.

No need to go into this in detail, but suffice it to say that the last two weeks have been the most stressful I have ever endured in the travel industry.  I realized on Friday that even my pretty piano & bird compilation wasn’t quite doing it.  So I went searching and found this:

I don’t look at the actual video – not much to see – but I’ve been listening to the rain almost constantly (when I’m not on calls or being accosted in my cube about something).  It is actually very calming – not sure why the sound of softly falling rain relaxes me, but it does.  In fact, this morning I accidentally closed down the browser that is playing the rain and I immediately tensed up and hurried to get it back.

Apparently there is an app that goes along with this soothing sound, but it doesn’t look like anything I would really like or use, so I guess I’ll just stick with the YouTube rain for now.

What helps you relax?   Or are you already relaxed enough?

Simple Pleasures

Work and life in general have both been rather trying of late. The other day I was sitting in the living room, rather dazed, on a sunny Saturday  morning when I noticed the sun pouring into the dining room onto the leaded glass windows of our oak dining room buffet. It was a lovely, peaceful sight, and I told myself I had to start noticing and remembering things like that when I was stressed.

There are lots of things that are simple pleasures that can make all the difference in a person’s life.

What are the simple pleasures that keep you going?

Great Minds

We spent the day in Bismarck on Tuesday with short, but eventful, episodes at the eye clinic interspersed  with notable periods of down time  in which we could shop and eat.

We hit the mall after Husband’s pre-op appointment  to search at Penney’s for an extra long ironing board cover (No luck. I will have to order one). Then to Target for lubricating eye drops, therapy art supplies, and shampoo, and then to the grocery store. Our grocery list consisted of roasting chickens, Maggi Seasoning Sauce, and barley malt syrup for bread baking.

The Bismarck  grocery store we like to go to is rather higher end than the ones in our town, and we both made a bee line to the produce section as soon as we entered. I said “I think we should look for a Savoy cabbage”. Husband said “I was thinking the same thing!” Neither of us had mentioned Savoy cabbage to the other, but it was on both our minds as we drove to  Bismarck that morning.  Husband has anxiety  about getting enough fresh greens during the winter. I do not have vegetable anxiety, but I have had my eye on a recipe for Fischrouladen, which is cabbage rolls stuffed  with savory cod and  topped with  a winey mustard cream sauce and fresh dill. It calls for Savoy cabbage.

Sure enough, they had Savoy cabbage but not any of the other things we wanted. Those will have to wait for a trip to Fargo. I think it is funny we both thought of Savoy cabbage. How weird is that?

Who thinks like you?

Cataract Surprises

Husband has his second cataract surgery today on his left eye. His right eye is really improving with some surprising  sequelae.  He says that it feels like his brain is being washed with light and color now.  We have a pretty good division of labor when it comes to cleaning house. I dust and do laundry.  He vacuums,  and folds and puts away the laundry. We both clean the kitchen.  On Saturday Husband noticed, for the first time in a long time, how many crumbs were on the upholstered seats of the dining room chairs, and he vacuumed them. He ordered me out of the kitchen twice over the weekend as his vision has improved to the point that he needs far less help from me while he cooks.

I remember hearing the shock and anguish from people, usually women, who have cataract surgery and realize how dusty their homes became as their vision worsened.  I am a fairly lackadaisical duster, and I must admit that I let it go for far longer than I should.  I suppose Husband’s improved vision means I will have to dust more often since he can actually see how dusty things get now. His improved quality of life means more work for me!

What have been some unexpected sequelae after improvements in your life?