Sunday, August 7, 2011

as we begin high school...

My baby boy begins high school in two weeks.  Last week he split his time between football camp for incoming freshman and band camp for marching band (trombone).  Starting tomorrow he has band 7am - 3pm and football from 3pm-7:30pm. 

I'm concerned about the football in the 105+ degree heat and hope the coaches (and he) will be on the lookout for the least sign of heat-related problems (send a good thought, friends!).  My most excellent trainer Keith Norris from Efficient Exercise passed on these warning signs (and with the weather like it has been in Central Texas, we all need to know this stuff):

  • Dizziness and a slight "chilled" feeling (paradoxical, but true in some cases)
  • sometimes an odd cessation of sweating; 
  • repeated/severe cramping
  • shakiness akin to a "low blood sugar" shake.

It IS exciting to think about watching him march for McCallum High School AND play football and baseball and whatever else...

High school ain't what it was when I was roaming the halls of  Theordore Roosevelt HS in San Antonio.  Who thought of having a RESUME when you got out of high school?  Oh, we understood well-rounded but even that meant something different "back in the day".

Eric is in marching band, in Boy Scouts, and plays whatever sport is in season.  He does well in his classes.  He has friends.  He plays Risk.  And of course, video games.  He is good company.  It is fun watching him as he journeys along his path. 

Most days, anyway...and on the days when it is less than fun, I have wonderful friends to lean on.  Some of these friends I've known since we were in high school (shoot, all the way back to junior high...even elementary school).

Yes, I've been through this before but Brian was in Brussels with his dad when he was in 9th grade.  And since my boys are 14 years apart, some things have changed.  Others are the same.  They are my sons.  I love them, no matter what!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I love mornings. 

This morning holds particular delights -  Eric is out of school, Ellis's sub job has ended with the school year so I am the only human up. Daisy and Oreo are milling about, and Scout and Winky are outside somewhere...

Very pleasant this morning. 71 and not too humid. The grass in the yard is thick and green; the squash, cucumbers and okra are happily taking over the side yard. A dove is cooing.  One of the volunteer sunflowers has bloomed...I have coffee and quiet and solitude.

Mornings hold the promise of a perfect day - a day of ease and flow, of limitless potential for fun and friendship and discovery. Of course I have places to be and things to do, but right now, those things are all in the realm of later. Giving an exam, going to the post office, setting up at the farmers market...later.

For now, I sip my rich, wonderful coffee and bask in the early morning quiet. So peaceful and calm, but still a touch of excitement and anticipation.

Truly, this is the moment when I can say I am perfectly content with where I am and eagerly anticipating what is to come.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

my three cats

Where else can I sing praises to my cats and not be made fun of? 

I am privileged to share my life with three of the most interesting, entertaining cats on the planet.  I'm not talking You-Tube or America's Funniest Home Video entertaining.  I'm talking about three unique individuals that melt my heart several times each day.

Winky came to us through one of Eric's classmates, Winston, in the fall of 2007.  Winston's mom has a habit of rescuing all types of creatures, and Winky's pregnant mom was one of those lucky critters.  Winston's family named the kitten Winky because he opened one eye and didn't open his other eye for a day or two.  Ta Da...Winky.  It fit.  We have several names for him...Jabba the Kitty Hut, Sir Winksalot, Love Bug.  He is a big sweetie and the most accomplished hunter.  Just this morning I opened the front door to find a rat, laid out in trophy perfection, on the porch.  Thanks, Winky!  Winky is a long-haired orange tabby.  Beautiful boy with an annoying, raspy meow.  Very persistant when he wants milk.  Or attention.  Or thinks you should be paying attention to him and him alone. 

Oreo is, as  you might guess,a black  & white beauty.  We adopted him from Town Lake Animal Center in the fall of 2008.  His foster name was Cap'n Planet and he is certainly spacey enough to fill that bill. He is a big, long-haired cat with the tiniest meow you've ever heard.  He has never lost that wide-eyed kitten look.  He is a sweet, sweet boy and I love him dearly.  Sometimes I wake up and he is laying square on my chest.  I wake up because I'm having trouble breathing.  15 pounds of big furry cat on  your chest will do that. His favorite water source is the kitchen sink.  He jumps up and waits for me to turn on the faucet.  I'm sure this would not pass the KVUE clean kitchen test.

Daisy is my girl.  I haven't had a female cat in years and years - decades upon decades, actually, because the ones I had were f-in crazy.  Daisy is crazy too, but in a kinder, gentler way.  So far.  She was so little when we adopted her from Town Lake Animal Center in fall 2008 that we had to wait to bring her home. She didn't weigh enough for them to administer anesthetic so she could be spayed.  We were finally able to work that out with staff...and brought our bundle of girly joy home.  Since she is a white and orange tabby cat, my first thought was to name her Peaches.  Eric told me to name her Daisy (based on the Mario Bros game - Peaches wears pink and I am not a pink fan...)anyway.  The name was chosen and it is perfect.  We call her Daisy Mae Magpie.  She steals shiny things.  Keys, earrings, coins.  She is affectionate on her own terms.  She also plays fetch with those little furry mice.  She will swat them all over the living room and then jump up on the arm of the couch and drop a little furry pink, blue etc "mouse" in my lap.  I throw it, she swats it around, brings it back and we repeat the process. 

I have been blessed with many wonderful feline companions in my life.  These are the three with which the universe has chosen to bless me at this moment.  I cherish them as the individuals they are, for the love and friendship they provide. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Art Bras

Been having a lot of fun with a particular posting by a Facebook friend with a teacup bra
 In looking around the Facebook page of Graphic 5 that posted the beautiful teacup bra, I discovered that GRAPHIC is a group that provides the funding for Breast Cancer Research Center  programs like the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls.  The fifth Auction Art Bra Event took place on April 23.  Read more about it on their facebook pages (linked above).  Oh, and there are lots more cool art bras to look at, too!

Not to take away from the wonderful work these folks are doing, but...with my recent post about eating Paleo, the art bra picture brought to mind this particular rendition of the undergarment...

I don't think this would work to well here in Austin.  Too hot.  Too many dogs, both the four-legged and two-legged varieties...

Wearable art...edible art...wearable breakfast...hmmm.  Possibilities are endless. 

Eating Paleo

What is Paleo, anyway?  There are a lot of definitions, some more robust than others.  This Paleo Diet Summary Introduction has a pretty good overview of the concepts, and a lot of good references, to boot.

My current focus is eating real food.  No grain, pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, refined sugars.  No legumes or dairy.  No soy, and that includes soybean oil. mostly around the edges in the grocery store. And venturing into farmers' markets in search of locally grown produce and pastured beef and chicken.


Not so bad.  I eat eggs, chicken, sausage, bacon, fish (admittedly from a can at times), all kinds of squash, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, green beans, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, okra,  berries, apples, oranges, nuts.  I use olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil and coconut milk.  Lots of spices.  I drink coffee and tea.  And an occasional glass of wine. Or two.  But only once (or twice) a week.  And dark chocolate - 85% or 90% cocoa.  Exceptional stuff.

I don't eat dairy right now...I'm new to this and letting things settle out.  I do miss cheese.  If it works out well, I'll probably add that back in moderation.  I don't eat legumes, including peanuts or anything made with soy..

I'm not 100% "pure" in this, but that's ok.  I'm working on developing eating patterns and habits I can maintain for the rest of my long, healthy, happy life. 

Why am I doing this? I followed Atkins for quite a few months, dropped some pounds and was doing okay.  Working with my wonderful trainer at Efficient Exercise.  More muscle...stronger, more energy...all that good stuff. But my clothes were not fitting quite like I wanted and I couldn't always ignore my cute little muffin top anymore! (Ok, it wasn't cute, and it wasn't particularly little, either)

My trainer Keith Norris said, yep that's the diet part.  He's gung-ho Paleo and believe me, he and his beautiful wife Michelle Curtis Norris are walking testimonials.  He talked to me about the systemic inflammation a "modern" diet can cause and the resultant problems, including possible links to Alzheimer's.  That got my attention. You've heard that saying "It's not the years in your life, but the life in your years"...well, I want lots of both, thank you.  Yes, I'll have MORE of THAT!

I toyed with the idea for a couple of months, read some, ate a farewell cookie and began the journey.


The more I learned about what devious, dangerous things grains are, the easier it was to leave them alone!  And I'm not just talking about the outward evidence (refer to muffin top above) but also all the other sneaky things that can happen as a result...metabolic disorder, auto-immune issues, etc. 

So what is it about grains, and to a lesser degree, legumes and dairy?  In a word...LECTINS.

Lectins are in a class of molecules called glycoproteins (molecules that contain a protein and a sugar) and are found in many many plants and animals, including human animals.  Foods with the highest lectin activity include: grains, legumes, (which includes soy and peanuts), dairy, nuts, and nightshade plants which include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers.

Lectins are not broken down in the regualr digestive process.  Because they are "sticky" molecules, they glom onto the gut lining.  Once attached, some lectins  trick other molecules to carry them directly through the intestinal lining.  This move damages the intestinal lining, and allows other large molecules (partially digested foods, toxins) to enter the bloodstream. This is the genesis of leaky gut syndrome.

Once in the blood stream, these sticky molecules are free to attach to other tissues, like those in your kidney, pancreas or thyroid. Out of the intestine, attached to otherwise healthy tissue, these big old undigested protein molecules  continue to trick our bodies because they look like invaders - viruses, etc..  Our bodies attack these "invaders", and the healthy tissue to which they are attached.  This sets the scene for a host of auto-immune disorders and food sensitivities.

Oh, and did I mention that grains contain phytates that tightly bind to metal ions, like clacium, magnesium, zinc and iron?  That means these metals can't be absorbed by the body.

Short answer?  Not really.   But that's why I'll pass on the grains, on foods made with soy products, etc...If you're interested, try some additional reading:

On the web: 
The Low Down on Lectins (Mark's Daily Apple)
Why no grains and legumes? - The Paleo Plan
Lectins-A Little Known Trouble Maker
Food Lectins in Health and Disease - An Introduction

Books (you remember those, don't you?)
The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet  Robb Wolf
The Primal Blueprint Mark Sisson

Monday, April 18, 2011

Urban Gardener

Squash, cucumbers, okra, tomatoes and a bell pepper have been planted!  Little cucumber leaves were sighted today.  I haven't planted much except tomatoes in a long time and I'm looking forward to out of my garden veggies.  I planted a variety of squash so who knows what I'll get.

Planted the tomatoes and bell peppers from plants, everything else from seeds. Ellis did a lot of work clearing the roots from the old trashberry tree that we took down last it's a garden plot with full sun and sloping drainage.  Worked a lot of good organic garden soil into the old yard dirt that was there...hoping for a bumper crop.

Also threw some Texas Wildflower seeds around...maybe with water and love they'll grow.  Next in - sunflowers.  Love me some sunflowers!

Not much to post in the way of pictures, but I'll post as things become photograph-able.