Thursday, February 26, 2015

Kitchen Rehab




Overall, we are very pleased with the new kitchen.  It's much brighter and makes the kitchen look bigger.  The drawers and doors close automatically.  We added a lot of outlets and under cabinet lighting.  Pull out drawers for pot and pans and a double cabinet for garbage and recyclables.   I like the granite counters but because they are dark, I often can't see what I put down on them.   It took over 3 months and went way over what Martha told me it would cost.  But we had a lot of fun doing it (except for the floor which was a bitch)  

And my cooking has not gotten any better.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Full of Grace

  • Bake sales for a good cause.  Not that I needed yet another excuse to  eat cookies.

  • Spending a freezing cold Saturday making chicken soup and homemade bread.  I learned how to make the soup, complete with matzo balls, from a friend’s mother, Rose - the most Jewish of Jewish mothers.   There is nothing like comfort food when the weather outside is frightful. Although I have to say that I’ve lost my closest Jewish friends and I so miss them, and their traditions in my life.

  • Sunday the weather turned delightful and I finally got out snowshoeing.  I have been chomping at the bit to get outside and do something.  Anything!  And what a stunning day!  Just me and my puppy hiking in the snow in the woods.

  • Cate Blanchett at the Oscars.  Definitely worth staying up past my bedtime for. “Okey dokey, smokey” is now my mantra.

  • The last of the necessary surgeries tomorrow. I will be so happy to (hopefully) have all this medical stuff behind me.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


I know, it’s a little late to making New Year’s resolutions,  but due to strange health happenings and anesthesia brain, the New Year came and went without much thought.

Then EarthandInk had this wonderful idea to wait until the Chinese New Year to finalize our resolutions.  And so, after much thought and consideration, here are my goals for 2015.


My inspiration for this year is:

“Do small things with great love.”  - Mother Theresa


I always wake up every morning and set my intentions for the day.  Included is a list of things I want to accomplish but in addition to the to-do list, I have set my intentions to:

  • Make someone smile, everyday.  It is amazing how easy this is.  I just make eye contact with a person in a store or office and smile at them.  9 times out of 10 they smile back.  And then I try to add some pleasantry about the weather, or compliment something they are wearing. They leave smiling, and so do I.  

  • Find the magic in the everyday.  The way the snow flashes all the colors of the rainbow when the sun hits it just right.  Or the way icicles dazzle like crystal.  Now I am enjoying the magic of baby plants sprouting and unfolding into the miracle of flowers.  I do think magic is all around us, but I often have to remind myself to notice.


This year I am resolving to reduce my negative impact on the earth.  I have always done the generic things - recycle, walk instead of drive, use environmentally friendly products, etc.  but this year I want to really kick it up a notch. So I resolve to :

  • Have meatless meals at least 3 times a week.

  • Compost more.  I started a compost pile last year, but now I want to be serious about it.

  • Grow and store more food.  I am an amateur gardener and usually grow easy things like tomatoes and beans. This year I want to learn to grow more variety, plant some fruit trees and most especially learn how to store food for year round use.  

  • Drive less.  Last year I put 5,000 miles on my car.  This year I want to reduce that to 4,000. Much of my driving is volunteer based which I won’t stop, but I often make unnecessary trips and could be much better in consolidating trips with other family members.   Come better weather I hope to bike the 5 miles to the gym.

  • Line dry clothes when weather permits.

  • Convince Martha that keeping chickens or bees would be fun.

2015. The year of the sheep and, for me, the year of doing small things with great love.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Full of Grace

As I write this it is minus 10 degrees outside with a minus 42 degree wind chill.  The wind is gusting and blowing the powdery snow into white-out conditions.  It is pretty easy to feel gratitude for the simple things:

  • Having a home and a working furnace.  

  • Being cozy warm in bed with flannel sheets and a down comforter.

  • Snuggling with Martha and planning a summer beach vacation.  Just looking at the pictures makes me giddy with anticipation.

  • The smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

  • Seedlings that are already starting to sprout in the basement getting me very excited about spring.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Full of Grace

Getting the doctor’s clearance to sauna again.   It is such a huge part of my “me” time for meditation, reading, contemplation.  To say nothing about how much my skin and bones crave the warmth.

And clearance to go back to the gym.  I am allowed to do everything but ab exercises but wow, have I lost stamina.  5 minutes on elliptical and I was dying.   But, as my fitness daughter said, it was 5 more minutes than I did the day before.

Charity miles.  A free app for your phone that will donate 10 cents a mile for biking and 25 cents a miles for walking or running to a number of great charities.  Go ahead,  download it and start walking for a good cause.

Finally bought a gas stove which will be the final piece in our kitchen remodel.  Now we just need to get a plumber to run the gas line up to the kitchen.  I will be so grateful to have this project finished.  And then yes, I will post some pictures.

Tonight is Martha’s last basketball game of the season.  I don’t know why I thought being a JV coach would be less time consuming than running her youth basketball league.   Every night since November it has been a practice or a game, along with Saturday practices and a random weekend tournament.   It has been a rare occasion that we have a meal together.   I will be happy to have the season end.  And I think, so will she.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Having been tagged as a reader of EarthandInk's blog, here are my answers to her meme*:

1. What topic is so interesting to you that you could talk about it for days?
I don’t think I could talk about anything for days.   I could talk about backpacking for a little while.
2. Dream home: cottage at the beach, river house in the woods, lake house, penthouse in a city, farm house, castle in Europe, family home in a burb? Something else?
I grew up at the beach and currently have a family home in the burbs and a lake house in the woods. I love them all, but perhaps I should dream something new, so I’ll take the farmhouse.   Although frankly, home (to me) is where my family is so it really doesn’t matter the building type or place.  I tend to agree with George Carlin -   a house is just a box you keep your stuff in.
3. What talent would you like to have that you don’t have already?
Singing.  And yes, I know everyone can sing.  But I’m talking the kind of singing other people (and I) actually enjoy hearing.  Not anything fancy.  Just an easy listening kind of voice.  After that - dancing and cooking.
4. If you could make one food that’s not good for you, good for you, what would you choose?
5. The one piece of advice you would give to everyone and wish they’d follow.
In everything, choose  kindness.  
6. What period of history would you want to visit as a tourist?
The Renaissance.  
7. Do you have a hobby?
Hiking, backpacking, woodworking.  And now I am trying to be a more serious gardener.
8. If an animal could talk, which animal would you want to talk to?
9. If you could be friends with a fictional character, who would you choose?
The Little Prince
10. Introvert or extrovert?
Introvert.  And I finally learned to make peace with it.

*Remember when we used to do these all the time?   I kind of miss them.

Friday, February 6, 2015


As soon as I felt better from the appendix surgery I made an appointment with the urologist to deal with the kidney stones that showed clearly on the CT scan.  One big stone and a cluster of smaller stones.   

I had made the appointment with the same man who took care of me years ago but instead I was seen by his female assistant.  At first I was upset by this because I had some serious questions about my cancer drugs and their relationship to all these stones.  In the end I was very glad I was seen by this woman because she gave me a wealth of information I had never heard from my male oncologist or urologist. The conversation went something like this:

Me:  I am concerned that the cancer drugs which have now taken 20% of my bone density are the cause for all these new stones.

Her:  Well, yes.  All that bone has to go somewhere and it is now sitting in your kidneys.  I always put all my patients on potassium citrate.  

Me: Why?

Her:  Because the potassium binds with the calcium so it doesn't form stones.   You should ask your oncologist about it.  In the meantime you should eat a lot of high potassium foods like potatoes, spinach and bananas. Lots and lots of bananas.

Me:  Okay, good to know.

Her:  And you should know that the drugs, which are totally depleting your body of estrogen, will cause your lady parts to thin out.  That means you will be more susceptible to UTIs and other issues. They didn’t tell you this?

Me:  No.  And funny, I just had my very first UTI a few months ago.

Her:   Are you sexually active?

Me:  Sometimes : )

Her:  You should have at least 2 orgasms a week.  They will help maintain lubrication and  thicken the organ walls.   

Me:  Well, I’m gay and lube isn’t much of an issue.  2 times a week?  My partner coaches basketball and these days I’m lucky if I see her 2 times a week for a quick meal.

Her:  How long have you been together?

Me:  Over 25 years.

Her:  Well, she should no longer have to buy you a meal to have sex.  

Me:  I didn’t mean that . . .

Her:  I know (smiling)  But you really should have at least 2 orgasms a week to counteract what the drugs are doing to you.  If your partner is not around, you always have the bananas.

Then she winked and left.  

And this is why I like having female doctors : )

This is now the second time in a week that I have been told to have more orgasms for my health.    It seemed silly at first but it is now dawning on me (thank you universe) how much our own bodies are made to heal themselves.   And so I will be buying a lot more bananas and trying to have more sex.  

For medicinal purposes only.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

World Nutella Day

In honor of World Nutella Day, let's get to know this super addictive snack.

8 Things You May Not Know About Nutella - reprinted from Mental Floss

Nutella, my love | Flickr

1. Napoleon and Hitler are responsible for the world's Nutella addiction.

Back in 1806, Napoleon tried to freeze out British commerce as a means to win the Napoleonic wars (and take over the world). The result was a disastrous continental blockade that caused the cost of chocolate to skyrocket and left Piedmontese chocolatiers in the lurch. Ever resourceful, chocolatiers in Turin started adding chopped hazelnuts to chocolate to stretch the supply as much as possible. The ensuing deliciousness was a fateful paste dubbed “gianduia.”
Over a century later, chocolate again became expensive and scarce due to rationing in Europe during World War II. An Italian pastry maker named Pietro Ferrero once again turned to the mighty hazelnut for salvation in 1946 and created Pasta Gianduja, renamed “Nutella” in 1964.

2. It actually is the breakfast of champions.

According to the Guinness World Records, Nutella's 40th Anniversary breakfast celebration in Germany in 2005 earned the title of “Largest Continental Breakfast.” A total of 27,854 people gathered in Gelsenkirchen to enjoy a meal that consisted of little more than Nutella itself.

3. It sells like hotcakes.

One jar of Nutella is sold every 2.5 seconds throughout the world. According to the United States Census Bureau, one person is born every eight seconds. You do the math.

4. It spreads far and wide.

Not only is it available for purchase and feverish consumption in 75 countries, all of the Nutella sold in a year could be spread over more than 1000 soccer fields.

5. Nutella-related crimes are on the rise.

In 2013 the chocolate-hazelnut spread made headlines in Germany, where thieves pulled off a $20,000 heist, stealing 5.5 metric tons of the sweet stuff from a parked truck. Several weeks earlier, Columbia University found itself at the center of “Nutella-gate,” an expose smearing the school for spending $6000 per week on the spread for one of its dining facilities, where students were allegedly snarfing 100 pounds of it per day.

6. World Nutella Day Has Been a Bit of a Roller-Coaster.

Two bloggers in Italy decided to take their love of Nutella to the next level in 2007, and created a worldwide day of celebration dedicated to the addictive substance. Thus, every year February 5th is a day for eating Nutella, sharing Nutella recipes and memories, and looking at photos of Nutella food-porn. In 2013, Nutella manufacturer Ferrero tried to shut down World Nutella Day before reconsidering. But as of this year, at the request of Nutella Day founder Sara Rosso, Ferrero will be taking over the holiday.

7. There's no masking the flavor.

The chocolate and hazelnut substance gianduia is named after a character from Italian commedia dell'arte named Gianduja. He is depicted as a smiling Piedmontese peasant with a three-point hat who rides around town on a donkey clutching a duja—which in the Piedmontese dialect means “container.” The duja was said to hold wine ... but could have just as easily held a few pounds of that chocolatey hazelnut goodness, no? Gianduja masksare sold all over the Piedmont region of Italy, and his face was plastered all over early Nutella advertisements.

8. Nutella has a smeared reputation.

Nutella became so popular in Italy that Italian markets began to offer free “smears” of Nutella to any kid who showed up with a piece of bread. The phenomenon was referred to as “The Smearing,” and while it could potentially double as the name of a horror flick, was a highly successful marketing strategy. No wonder we're all addicted.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Full of Grace

We just made the last college tuition payment.   We still have food, rent and utilities until May but the big hits are over!!  

Sharing the SuperBowl with the same friends for 25 years.  I love long term relationships.

My surgery date for the kidney stones is set.  Not that I am looking forward to yet another surgery but I am looking forward to getting all these medical issues dealt with.

Feeling well enough to go play in the snow.  Because if you’re going to live in a place that gets a lot of snow you might as well enjoy it.  And I do!

Being able to snow blow again because Martha has had to do it far too often during my illness and recuperation.  She has asthma so it has been difficult for her when the temperature goes into the minus numbers.  I am very grateful to be able to take my job back.