Category Archives: Health

Buying The Wrong Thing

Husband and I try to limit our shopping these days, especially at  bigger stores like Walmart. We always go masked and try to shop quickly. The other day I was rushing through the store, grabbed what I thoughtvwas a double box of the toothpaste I like, proceeded to the checkout, and headed home.

There are many different types of Crest toothpaste. The boxes kind of look the same. Well, I realized after I got home that I bought the wrong kind. This is a kind I would never have purchased under normal circumstances.  It must have hydrogen peroxide or something similar in it, because it is touted as foaming when you use it.  I can’t say I am looking forward to having two tubes of it.  I don’t like to return things to stores at the best of times, and certainly not now. I guess I will spend the next months foaming at the mouth whenever I brush.

Got any good return stories? When have you bought the wrong thing?

civic sacrament

About twenty years ago I signed up to be an election judge. I had switched from a full time schedule to working just three days a week, so I regularly had Tuesdays off. It seemed like a good time to step forward and help my community make its voice heard.

You meet all kinds of people in the polling place. I think the most memorable voter I ever met was a woman who called me over to discuss her voting dilemma, I think in 2004.  She said she was having trouble deciding who to cast her presidential vote for, because she didn’t really like any of the candidates. They all fell short of the standards she felt candidates should meet. “The people I would really like to see on the ballot are Paul Wellstone, Jesus, and Princess Diana,” she explained. I gently advised her that while those were not going to be realistic possibilities, since all three of them were dead, and only one of them had even been a U.S. citizen, she was quite free to write in any name she chose.

The other memorable thing about the woman was that she had large plastic bags on both hands, secured at the wrists by rubber bands. She was ahead of her time.

I will be staying home this election day, trying to keep myself safe, after voting early. I’ll miss watching this exercise of political power by ordinary citizens. Of all the unsettling changes that COVID-19 has brought, this may be the most unsettling for me. So far.

Any disruptions, major or minor, that have arisen for you lately due to COVID-19? (Or for any other reason, for that matter?)

Being Number One

I am chagrind to report that my state is number one in the country for per capita Covid cases. I remember how important it was in high school and college for our teams and ensembles to be “number one.”  I don’t want to be number one any more.

I want to be last right now.  Didn’t someone a long time ago say that “the first will be last and the last will be first?”

What are you the best at? What are you the worst at?

I Need Book Advice

My mom, Nonny, is really doing well with shelter-in-place.  She has always been superb at doing what the doctor recommends – always.  I think I’ve probably said here before that if the doctor told her to stand on her head every Tuesday and spit wooden nickels, you’d better have a bucket to collect those nickels every Tuesday. 

At 88 she is taking covid precautions very seriously.  She is staying in, staying away from neighbors, only going shopping when absolutely necessary and then she goes the extra mile (sprays the inside of her car, wipes all products off when she gets home, wears a mask, etc.)  She is not an online person, so she’s watching a lot of tv and doing a solitary walk every afternoon.  She’s mentioned a couple of times over the last couple of months that she is “out of books”.   Despite the fact that she introduced me to libraries as a child, she is not a library person.  Although I’ve suggested she find a close one, she is worried about hanging about in a library and bringing home potential contaminants.  Telling her that she can talk to a librarian about how they are handling covid to possibly reassure her hasn’t helped.

I thought I would get her some books, but I’m stymied about what to send.  I know that her favorite author is Mary Higgins Clark.  I know that she likes mysteries and thrillers but not things that are “too dark”.  Too much graphic violence and sex is right out as well. 

So if I go to the bookstore to pick up some titles for her, what should I get???

Choir During Covid

We had church choir rehearsal yesterday for the first time since March.  Our county is a Covid hot spot, and the idea of rehearsal made me somewhat nervous. Choir rehearsals have been superspreader events across the country.

I really had little to worry about, as  there were only six singers, plus the director and the  accompanist. We sat in the pews instead of the choir loft, two singers to a pew, socially distanced, with two pews in between each twosome.  The church bought these plastic dealies that go under our masks and prevents the masks from being sucked back against the lips when you inhale. We all wore masks. We were all glad to sing. We expect more to join us in the coming weeks, but I think we can distance and sing and perform. We really have to listen carefully since we can’t sit right next to each other, and the tenors  aren’t right behind us and the sopranos aren’t right in front of us. It is  a musicianship challenge.

I have always considered myself a risk take, but this was a little scary until we got started and I saw how things would go.

What kind of a risk taker are you?  Has Covid changed your risk tolerance?

 

Keeping Work At Work

I took October 5-9 off for a staycation at home.  I was getting too burned out to do a good job for my clients and colleagues.  I admit, however, that I took my work laptop and and a testing file home in the event I had some extra  time to finish an evaluation  report,  and so I could check my work emails.

I am proud to say that the evaluation report is unfinished.  I checked my emails a couple of times, but not obsessively, and I didn’t reply to any of them. It was hard to be a “participant-observer” watching what people were doing but not responding.

This week was spent resting, cooking, and cleaning.  I didn’t realize how tired I was, and I napped a lot. I could probably use another week off, but I need to get back.

What was your best vacation ever?  How hard has it been for you to leave work at work?

The Importance of Pals

I was tickled to see the New York Times article last week about the benefits of baboon friendships.  Researchers have studied the friendship patterns of baboons in Kenya since 1971.  They noticed early on that female baboons with lots of gal pals lived longer than those with fewer friends. Male baboons have been harder to follow and study, but the evidence is now in that male baboons’ life spans are longer the more  platonic female friendships they have.  Female baboons groom both  their male and female buddies, thus decreasing parasites and strengthening bonds that reduce conflict.  The same lifespan and  platonic friendship associations  are noted in many social species from horses to dolphins to humans.  Let’s give thanks for our friends!

Who have been your best male and female friends?

Licorice Alert

Wouldn’t you know it!  Husband has Type II diabetes, and watches his carb intake very carefully. We rarely, if ever, have chips and such in the house. His blood sugar levels are quite stable and in the normal range. He loves to snack on figs, so I order organic Turkish figs for him from a place in New York that sells all sorts of dried fruit, candy, dried beans, baking ingredients, etc.

Husband doesn’t eat much candy at all, but has a love for black Finnish licorice.  I really like it, too, and we go through a one pound  bag of it pretty fast. The New York connection sells wonderful Finnish licorice, and the last time he ran out of figs, I decided to order three pounds of figs and, to save money, I bought a five pound bag of black Finnish licorice.

A few days after the licorice  arrived, a news story emerged about the dangers of eating more than two ounces of black licorice a day.  Some guy on the East Coast collapsed and died from heart complications from eating a pound of black licorice a day for months. Licorice root in any form apparently has a compound called glycyrrhizin that lowers potassium levels which can lead to heart arrhythmias. Even licorice tea can increase blood pressure. The guy who died apparently had a really poor diet, and was eating in a fast food restaurant  when he collapsed. His potassium level was really low, and caused his heart to fail. Husband’s potasium levels were a little higher than normal at his recent checkup, probably due to figs, which are high in potassium. His blood pressure is in the average to low range.

All this hasn’t stopped our licorice eating, but it sure makes us hesitant to eat too much at once.  The five pound bag on the counter might last pretty long time.

How do you respond to expert dietary  advice?  What favorite snack would be hard for you to give up?

Frostbite

Covid or no covid, YA wants her traditions intact.  So at her urging, we hit the apple orchard over the weekend.  The orchard we go to is taking precautions – one of them is that you are no longer encouraged to have an apple as you pick.  Another is that instead of grabbing a slice from a bowl if you are tasting apple types prior to picking, you have to use a toothpick now to spear your slice.  Like usual there is a big whiteboard of what apples are available for picking and the prices.

At the very to of the board was a listing for “Frostbite”. Not a word you relish seeing mid-September, but I’d never heard of Frostbite apples before so it caught my attention.  Here is what the U of M ag site says about them:

Frostbite™ has been a key apple in the U of M’s breeding program since the 1920’s. It’s extreme cold hardiness and unique flavor make it an excellent apple to cross with other varieties. Frostbite™ is a parent to Keepsake and Sweet 16 apples and a grandparent to Honeycrisp.

I know that they breed apples but I have never thought of any produce being the parent or grandparent of another.  Fascinating.  We definitely sampled them – they were tangy but not as tart as a Granny Smith, maybe a little citrus-y?  When we said we’d like to pick some, the orchard gal said “we only have three trees” and explained where to find them.  The trees were full and the apples are on the small side but a deep red.  We got half a peck.

They are great with peanut butter and I used some of them in my slow cooker apple butter yesterday (along with my favorite, the Connell Red).

Apple Butter Beginnings

Have you tasted anything new lately? 

The New Toilet Paper?

Hand sanitizer, toilet paper, bleach…. I was lucky enough to have these items already in the house when shelter-in-place hit and people started to hoard.  I was surprised by the flour/yeast panic and the run on King Arthur bread mixes, but again, I had enough on hand to get through.  I was also surprised to not find garlic in the stores for a couple of weeks; the produce guy at Cub was stumped.   Garlic salt isn’t the greatest substitute for fresh garlic, but we managed.

But pectic?  This one brought me up short.  I headed out early one morning and picked a big flat of raspberries and as is my custom, I stopped at Kowalski’s on the way home.  There on the shelf where the pectin usually lives was a big hole.  I asked an employee… they said that they haven’t been able to keep canning supplies and pectin in stock.  Same story for a few other places I quickly called.

Unfortunately you can’t just keep fresh raspberries sitting around forever, so I kept calling and did find pectin at my local hardware store, although it was a different brand than I usually use to cook my jam.  Since beggars can’t be choosers, I bought it and headed home. (The hardware store shelves in the canning section were basically bare; I actually got the last jar of pectin!)  After a long search on the internet, I finally found a comparable low-sugar recipe that I could use.  Presumably the jam will be fine when I thaw the first jar – you wouldn’t think you could mess up berries and sugar with a different kind of pectin, right?

Have you run out of anything lately?