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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Managing a Broken Jaw on a Vegan Diet

Last Friday started off like a normal day, I headed out for an early morning run so I would be home and ready for grandchildren to start arriving. Half way through my run my normal day ended abruptly. I tripped on a small lump of dried concrete on the road surface and fell, my chin took the brunt of the impact and I now have stitches in my chin and a broken jaw, along with a compression fracture on my 7th vertebrae and a lot of scrapes and bruises. Thankfully Dave had not yet left for work, a quick call home, thank heavens for cell phones, and he came to rescue me and took me to the ER. I met with an orthopedic doctor later in the day and the vertebrae fracture is clean and stable and nothing to worry about, carry on with normal activities. The jaw break however is really a pain.

Again, thankfully, the jaw break is a small, clean fracture, but it has made eating an absolute chore. I called an oral surgeon, I am seeing him today, and was advised to eat soft foods only in the meantime. Believe me, even soft mush food is a challenge. I was amused by the advice given for a soft diet, eat pudding, mashed potato, macaroni and cheese, ice cream, milk shakes. I thought well that is fine if you are not vegan but what am I going to eat.

Well, thank goodness for the invention of the food processor, it has made eating somewhat tolerable. I thought why can't I just make my usual bowl of vegan goodness, lentils, beans, canned tomato, nutritional yeast, Brussel sprouts, kale, red cabbage, mushrooms and any other vegetable I fancy, lately I have been on a parsnip kick, and then run it through the food processor. Well it has worked well, it is a stodge for sure, thinned down with a little veggie broth, very, very tasty, just not that appetizing to look at. And, I know that I am eating a nutritious meal that is giving my body all the things it needs for healing, rather than a bunch of dairy and sugar that simply promotes inflammation. I am also enjoying blue berries and banana with almond milk, it is a nice smoothie and gets some fruit into my diet along with my veggies. So, really my diet hasn't changed much, it is simply food processed before I eat it :)

I love my morning oatmeal, and thought it would be easy to eat, it is not so easy, my morning bowl of oats and ground flaxseed is taking me around 40 minutes to eat. My vegan bowl of goodness stodge is taking me about as long, small, small spoonfuls at a time are all I can tolerate. And, swallowing is the worst, it pulls on my jaw and hurts. I never thought I would look at mealtime as a huge time commitment, and even worse, kind of dread eating, as I know I am going to feel sore when finished.

Well on the plus side, no loosened teeth, and none knocked out. All will heal, but it was certainly an unexpected turn of events and one I hope I never repeat. I feel rather fragile, as if I am cautiously creeping about, and I am very wary of being bumped into, or bumping into things as my body seems to be in an over protective mode, I am assuming in a few days this will pass and I will start feeling hale and hearty again.

Peace to you,


Monday, June 11, 2018

Grandkids plus Rain equals FUN

We had a very rainy weekend. What could be more fun than playing in the rain and jumping in muddy puddles? According to the grandkids, not much.

After all the fun everyone got dried off and headed into the house to refuel with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before heading home to take a bath. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Being Vegan is GOOD for the Environment!

I just read an interesting article in The Guardian, about the impact of a Vegan diet on the environment, or specifically avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on the earth. Here is a quote from the article:

"“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the research. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions."

Click here: for the full article.

I found the comments to be oh so predictable on the article, all the anti-vegans getting highly defensive worrying their steak will be ripped away from their fork. For goodness sakes get a grip, even if a person simply reduced their intake of meat, dairy, eggs and fish, went meatless for breakfast and lunch each day, or went meatless a day or two a week, it would still slowly make a difference.

It is not hard to eat vegan, and if you opt for a whole food plant based diet (WFPB) you will only benefit, what's not to like about normalizing blood pressure and blood cholesterol, maintaining a healthy weight easily, feeling well, reducing inflammation, reducing your risk for cancer and now you can confidently add reducing your impact on the environment.

What is your biggest challenge about giving up meat, eggs, dairy, fish and embracing the world of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and grains?
Many people say they could never, ever give up cheese. I did, and I don't miss it, I ate so much cheese and I would have said the same thing once, but I don't miss it at all and I have never been tempted to try the vegan "cheeses". 
Others worry that they won't get adequate protein, I get around 70 grams of protein each day, primarily from lentils, beans, oats, and almond milk.
As to other nutrients:
I exceed my daily need for calcium, a lot comes from those healthy greens, kale and collard greens, and some from fortification in the almond milk.
I exceed my potassium needs - those lentils and beans do that.
I way exceed my vitamin A and C each day, all the vegetables and a little fruit.
And fiber, I average 60grams or more a day

I would imagine compared to the average American diet I am doing really well on nutrition content and am not lacking in any way. My mantra, "Is this good fuel for my body", and for most things I eat each day, yes it is. And I enjoy a little piece of vegan dark chocolate - it is very nice.

And am I bored? Do I feel left out? Unhappy that I can't eat a bunch of junk food. I can answer that with a resounding NO, I love what I eat, I enjoy my meals immensely and I like the changes my vegan diet has brought to my life.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Bell by Iris Murdoch

This is one of the best books I have read, I was sad when it ended and kept reaching for the book only to have to tell myself I had finished it, there was no more to read.

Although this book was written in 1958, it seems timeless, it is a study of people and their motivations. The story is set at a private house that has a cloistered Benedictine convent on the property. The main house is in the fledgling stages of becoming a lay community to be a buffer between the convent and the outside world. The lay community is evolving slowly, it is led by Michael, he owns the house and property and had aspirations to become a priest. Mr. and Mrs. Mark are a middle aged couple who had some marital issues before arriving, but are now assisting with the day to day running of the community, he does the accounting and she organizes the day to day activities. Catherine, a young woman, is living with the lay community but is planning soon to become a cloistered nun at the monastery, her very troubled twin brother is staying in the lodge house temporarily, the community do not know how to deal with him. Then there is Dora, a main character, who is in an unsuitable, abusive marriage with Paul, a man much older than her and a scholar. Paul is not part of the community, he is simply staying at the house while he studies historic manuscripts at the convent. Dora joins him at the house at his request after a brief separation due to an affair. Two other visitors arrive, a very nice man James Tayper-Pace, and he brings along a student Toby who has interest in visiting the community. And the last character, Sister Clare, who resides at the convent and dispenses wise counsel, although she appears in the story here and there, her influence on the community is always in the present.

The story begins, the characters are introduced, and the scene set. Lots of little things happen, we slowly discover the back ground of each person, and begin to understand their motivations and responses to situations that arise. The novel is philosophical, it is a study in human nature, in morals, in the perception of right and wrong, love and control. Slowly things reach a crescendo that affects all of the characters, and with that I will reveal no more so as not to spoil the reading of the book.

There are a lot of Latin quotations in the book, be sure to google them and get a definition, understanding them helps in understanding the narrative of the book. And you will learn the definition of Toby's favorite word, rebarbative.

I borrowed this book from the library, but have since ordered a used copy from Amazon, as I know it a book I will read again. The descriptions of location and characters brought the story alive. The human emotions and behaviors were realistically depicted, we are all fallible, sometimes wise, sometimes foolish, and often driven by motivations we don't always  acknowledge.

If you are looking for a philosophical character study with an excellent plot this book is for you.

Peace be with you,


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Books I Read Last Year That I Will Definitely Read Again

The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
An excellent book, thought provoking, disturbing, a study of a mad man, very well written, very believable. I was led to reading this book after reading:

The Dolphin People by Torsten Krol
Who is Torsten Krol - no one knows, well I assume perhaps his publisher knows the true identity of the author, but no one else apparently does. This too is a study of a mad man, it is disturbing, thought provoking, well written and it led me to read:

Callisto by Torsten Krol
What a wacky, fast moving, disturbing book, so much happens, it is craziness yet it makes sense, and it really makes you think about the insanity of our government, homeland security, police policies etc. A good story.

Hidden Lives by Margaret Forster
A memoir, and a delightful book, the very first part was a bit hagiographic, about the great grandma who not much is known about, but then the book moves into it's own as the grandma's life is unfolded, and then the mother's life, and finally the authors life. The story had some parallels to my own mothers life and I purchased a copy for my Mom and she really enjoyed the book. Margaret Forster was a prolific writer, she wrote Georgie Girl, which is perhaps one of her more well known books as it was made into a rather good movie in the 60's. After Hidden Lives I was led to reading this book:

Diary Of An Ordinary Woman by Margaret Forster
This moving book is a diary of woman from the age of nine to close to her death in her 80's. The diary moves through the early 1900's, WW1, the interim years, WW2, recovery after the war, the changes in British life through the 50's, 60's, 70's etc. It is excellent, when I finished the book I grieved for the diary writer, Millicent King, she was a good woman who lived through difficult situations and was always strong and capable. The book is written as if the Diary was real, the premise is that Margaret Forster the author was asked to take a strangers diary and publish it, it is actually a work of fiction, but it could be the record of any woman's life growing up and living through the years that Millicent did.

Margaret Forster wrote many, many books, and I will be reading more of her books this year and know I will not by disappointed by them.

Peace be with you,


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Dreams - What Does This One Mean

I am writing this to simply make a record of a very vivid dream I had last night.

In the dream I am in a kitchen/diner type room with very modern stream line cabinets, utilitarian looking, in a dark brown finish, on the counter there is a lot of prepared food, a bit like a pot luck. In the eating area sits my mother-in-law (she died in 2002), my husbands grandmother, Nellie, (she died in 1993), my father-in-law, my husband, a few other people, and my husbands youngest brother.

My mother-in-law looked radiant as did Nellie, my father-in-law who suffers from mild dementia, was very lucid, he said he was taking a new medicine and he also looked about twenty years younger than he does in real life, he is 88. My brother-in-law, who we rarely see was being very friendly and sociable. Everyone started singing, kind of folk type music, someone was playing an instrument but I couldn't tell you what kind, everyone was smiling, glowing, the music was wonderful, it was a scene of joy and happiness, then in the dream I needed to use the bathroom. For some reason I had to leave the room, or apartment to locate a bathroom. I went down a hallway, took an elevator down a floor and finally located the bathroom. The bathroom was old fashioned, the tank was high up and had a pull chain, when done I flushed and left the bathroom. When I returned to the hallway I had no idea how to get back, I went up a flight of stairs as I couldn't find the elevator, I entered a hallway with lots and lots of doors all with numbers on them, I had no idea which door was the right door to go to, I just wanted to return to the group, to the music, the singing, the togetherness and I had no idea how to get there.

Then I woke up.

So what was that all about? I have no idea! It was so vivid, and it brought such a feeling of peace while I was in the room, and such a feeling of agitation when I couldn't find my way back to the room. It did not seem my usual sort of dream at all.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Reading, Reading, Reading

I have enjoyed a fair number of good books this year, I just finished O Pioneers! by Willa Cather - excellent, excellent, excellent. I was introduced to Willa Cather a few years ago when I was in a book club and someone selected Death Comes to the Arch Bishop, it was a very good story. Not high adventure, no dramatic plot twists, just a simple story about a simple man who simply lived his life. It really was a life well lived, and nicely told. And, then the historical look at the western US and how it changed as the white settlers and missionaries arrived. After reading Death Comes to the Arch Bishop I purchased O Pioneers by Willa Cather, it then sat on the bookshelf forgotten for the past two years. Last week I finished The Book Shop by Penelope Fitzgerald and  was waiting for a book to come in at the library, and wondered what to read while I waited, so I perused my bookshelf and was happy to find O Pioneers! 

O Pioneers! was written in 1912, and is the story of Norwegian immigrants settling in Nebraska, it is interesting from a historical perspective, and the story is good, it rings true, it could have happened. The main character is Alexandra, she is the oldest sister, the wise person in the family, she with her pragmatic guidance brings about stability and wealth for her family but at a cost to herself. Willa Cather herself lived in Nebraska, her family relocated there from Virginia in 1883 when she was nine, so she knows the hardship, the country, the people, most from Norway, Sweden, France, and Russia (the Bohemians), and the life they led honoring the past yet creating a future. Cather's books really, really give you a feel for the daring, hard grit determination of the immigrant families who left the stability of the known, their homeland, to venture on a long journey to the "new world" and then venture into the "wild west" to create a new homeland. If you have not read Willa Cather, do yourself a favor and read something of hers, it will stay with you.

I have just started a biography of Agatha Christie written by Laura Thompson, it has decent reviews, and I have always enjoyed AG books, and tv/film productions of her works. And in the wings waiting to be read I have Cider with Rosie, by Laurie Lee and A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark. 
I must say Muriel Spark is in my top five list of favorite authors, I have enjoyed everything I have read of hers. Barbara Pym is one of my most favorite authors, I recently re-read the book A Few Green Leaves, she has a gentle humor as gives an observation of life in a small community rather than a plot driven story, nothing really happens yet there is always an undercurrent that something might happen, but probably won't because people are so stuck to the way they are supposed to behave.  The Book Shop by Penelope Fitzgerald is good, the first book I have read by this author who started her writing career at the age of 59, this is one of her early books and it was shortlisted for the Booker award. PF's writing is a bit like Barbara Pym's, it is an observation of life in a small town, but there is much more of a plot, it is a humorous story, really a cautionary tale, but it is also so very, very sad, it is well worth reading. Only 10 chapters, so a very quick read, but a story that will remain in your thoughts.

What are you reading, or have recently read?


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Happy Birthday

This past weekend my family celebrated my birthday with me, it was a totally awesome day, a day of crazy, chaotic fun with my favorite peoples!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

High School Reunion Experience

Well lets just say it was odd and a bit nerve wracking. I had no desire to attend any high school reunions, as I had a rather miserable time of it in high school, and lost touch with friends very quickly.

In 1978 we moved to the US from England, a week later I started my Freshman year of high school. It was all a bit of a culture shock, I went from the familiarity of Thurston Upper School in Thurston, England, and students I had attended school with for years, to Homestead High School in a suburb of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Homestead had many more students, and it was so different in so many ways. Just one example would be sports, we played netball, rounders, soccer, and cricket in England, in the US its basketball, football, baseball, and softball, similar games in some ways and yet very different in other ways. Sports has been, and continues to be, a VERY important part of high school life in the US, schools have their own stadiums, sell tickets for games, it is a big business for the school, and a good team brings good recognition too, this goes into hyper mode in the university world. Most students in the US have cars, and since a drivers license is allowed at sixteen, most drive to school. Everything seemed to be in overdrive compared to my English school, probably because there was a lot more money available to fund things like, marching band, concert band, show choir, madrigal choir, fall plays and spring musicals. The prom was a massive to do, the money spent, insane, the dresses beautiful, the venues glamorous, it was unbelievable. No school uniform, so name brand clothing easily determined who had money, who didn't. Everything was different, and it was overwhelming. And then to be a foreigner with an English accent, oh boy, as a shy person it was killing me, always being asked to read things out, can I teach how to speak with an English accent, etc. etc. it was patronizing and embarrassing.

Well, I left school 6 months early as a January graduate and never looked back. I married at nineteen and our first baby was born, we are still married 34 years later, and now have adult children and nine grandchildren, this I would never have imagined in high school. I was busy with my family and life, I had no interest in the five year, ten year reunion, and in fact was not even aware they even took place I had no contact with anyone I went to high school with. My "friends" all felt sorry for me when I got married and had a baby, it wouldn't last, I was throwing my life away, it was so sad, they pitched in a bought a high chair as a baby gift and that was last I heard of them in years. Over the past few years with Face Book I "found" and was "found" by people I knew in high school, we caught up quickly, essentially, are you married or single, have children or childless, working or not working, and after that there was nothing to relate to with each other and the initial excitement of discovering a high school pal dies a quick death. But during this time I was added to a FB group for our 35th high school reunion and after a bit of thought decided to attend.

Dave and I arrived at the venue for the reunion, a large bar, it was very crowded and very noisy. We walked around and could not tell if the reunion was going on or not, there was one group of people standing around and it was possible they were my former classmates, but I wasn't sure. We sat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine, a group of people came in the door and started hugging and doing the long time no see stuff, I thought one or two looked familiar, and about my age, so watched to see where they were headed to, they went to the group of people we noticed initially. Dave and I finished our wine and walked over to the group, I didn't really recognize anyone, and they didn't recognize me. I introduced myself to a couple of people, and they turned out not to be classmates at all, but spouses of classmates. I talked to a few people who I vaguely remembered but never hung out with. Then one of the "popular" girls from high school came over and asked me who I was, I gave my name and she had no idea who I was, and asked if I even went to Homestead, it was very strange. We stayed for about half an hour, my curiosity was satisfied, and I realized that for a reunion to work for a person they actually need to know and stay in touch with the people they are reuniting with, otherwise it is just an odd experience.

I can't say it was a bad experience, I can't imagine going to another reunion because I have no connections with any of the people I happened to go to high school with, but for others their friendships remain strong, they stay in touch, maybe had a much more positive high school experience, and it is an enjoyable time to get together to catch up and reminisce.   I would say if you have an opportunity to attend a high school reunion you should do so, it wasn't a bad time, it was just weird to think that I once went to high school with all these old people!

Peace be with you,


Friday, February 16, 2018

A Vegan Bowl Of Goodness and a Good Read

Each week I take time to cut up my veggies, this makes meal preparation a snap for the rest of the week. I bag all the chopped veggies up and keep them in the fridge. Once the bag is empty I clean it out and then keep it in the bottom of the fridge drawer so I can refill it at my cut up session.

For lunch and dinner most days I eat my Vegan Bowl of Goodness, sometimes known as a Buddha Bowl, or as my mother calls it, my bowl of weeds!

A pot of green tea and a VBG!

I steam my veggies, I will always have a couple of servings of greens, collard or kale, red cabbage, diced tomatoes, nutritional yeast, mushrooms and Brussel sprouts, the other veggies are added as the mood strikes me. I like sweet potato, rutabaga, turnip, parsnip, carrots, beets. 

Brussel sprouts and sweet potato
Collard greens, purple cabbage and mushrooms

The veggies go in the steamer first, then I dump in the greens and cabbage and top it all off with some sliced mushrooms. I put some diced tomatoes and lentils in a bowl and heat them in the microwave, and then add a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast (nooch). 
Once my veggies are ready, ten minutes at the very most, I simply dump them on top of my lentil, tomato, nooch mixture and ENJOY!

For dessert I enjoy a half a cup of frozen blueberries.
Lentils and diced tomato
Nooch added to my lentil, tomato mix

My most favorite Vegan Bowl of Goodness is my morning bowl of oatmeal with a couple tablespoons of ground flax seed mixed in, it is sooooo yummy and I just absolutely love it. I often have a second bowl of oats in the afternoon for a snack, really I could live only on oatmeal and be quite happy.

Ahhh, me lovely oats!

I am so enjoying my "more reading" for 2018. I am devouring books and all have been good so far. Earlier this week I whipped through Symposium by Muriel Spark, it was excellent. It is a well written story, a wealthy London couple host a dinner party for ten, some of the guests know each other, and some know of, but don't know each other. There is a bit of mystery, a lot of comedy, a fabulous plot, no one is as they seem, and it is very enjoyable. Highly recommend it.

The second book I started this week is by Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City. This book is an absolute kitchy riot! It is laugh out loud funny, as it depicts life in the mid seventies in San Francisco, the gay scene, the drug scene, the one night stand scene, the restless, bored, never satisfied uber wealthy people and their scene. Lives intersect, part, regroup, in a constant changing scene of depravity, it is great stuff. And the kitchy part, OMG, the descriptions, from the milk crate book shelves, the macramé plant hangers, shag carpeting, hang in there baby cat posters, you can just picture it all! Highly recommend this book too.

Well good people that is all I have today, I've gotta get back to my Tales in the City babies!

Peace be with you,


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Cold and Frosty Morning and Kimchi Update

I LOVE walking on a cold winters morning. I leave when it is dark, layered up against the cold, and I totally enjoy the hour and half I spend outdoors as I begin my day. The sky is dark, the constellations stand out well, the moon is bright, if there is snow on the ground it crunches pleasingly as I march along. I listen to BBC Radio 4, or 4Extra, as I walk, enjoying a story or play. It is the best time, I think I am a bit of a loner at heart, and I really enjoy being alone with my thoughts and being outside.
As I mentioned it is dark when I start out, but by the end of my walk the sun is rising, and the last part of my walk is due east, so I really get the full impact of a winter morning sunrise, and they are spectacularly beautiful. Here are some pictures to enjoy from this mornings walk, it was 12 degrees, so quite cold, but no wind, and believe me that makes all the difference.

Kimchi update - FAILURE :) Oh my, I followed for the most part a recipe from Epicurious.  I read the recipe review comments after making my kimchi, many noted that the recipe was way too salty. I thought mine would be okay because I omitted the soy sauce and fish sauce, both very salty. Sadly I was quite mistaken, to say my kimchi was salty is truly a gross understatement of the facts, it was so salty it was inedible. And, then the half cup of red pepper, I did a little less, made the mixture so spicy hot it literally burned my mouth. I let the kimchi sit another day and tried it again, it was still vile beyond belief so I had to throw it all away. I feel sad, quite sad, to have wasted two entire Napa cabbages, as they are so delightfully tasty. I did however very much enjoy the small jar of store bought kimchi, but will not make this a regular purchase as it is very expensive. I think if I want to eat fermented food I will stick with my old, inexpensive standby, sauerkraut!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Kimchi Experimentation and a Book Review

2 Quarts of Kimchi

I purchased a small jar of kimchi so I could try it, and I found it very pleasant, very flavorful, a nice little addition to a meal. I looked at several recipes online and just kind of cobbled them together to make my own vat. So this is how I made mine, can't tell you how it tastes as it now needs to sit for three days and ferment.

I took two heads of napa cabbage and mixed in 1 cup of coarse salt and then covered everything with water, placed a plate on top of the cabbage to weight it down, covered the bowl with saran wrap, and then set the bowl in the basement overnight. This morning I drained and very thoroughly rinsed the Napa cabbage. I cut up 8 ounces of daikon radish into matchstick size pieces, finely chopped ginger, probably 2 ounces, a bunch of green onions chopped, a few leaves of mustard greens chopped, 2 tablespoons of garlic, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and almost half a cup of ground red pepper. I mixed everything together for a while, then jammed the whole lot into a half gallon mason jar. The jar is now sitting in the fridge and I will leave it alone for three days and hopefully have some good tasting kimchi on Tuesday. My Kimchi is vegan, I did not had fish sauce, or shrimp sauce, this is a standard ingredient in most Kimchi, I also did not add soy sauce as I didn't want to continue to boost the salt level of the mixture.
Kimchi is good for gut health as the fermentation process produces good microbes for your gut, a little bit goes a long way, it sure is a powerhouse of flavors, and it will keep indefinitely in the fridge. I assume it will just become more flavorful the longer it sits.

 Granddaughter Alivia in her "bright stripe" sweater
I finished the sweater I was knitting for Alivia, I like how it turned out, I have started a second sweater for little sister Aubrey.

Bean - Book Reviewer
I mentioned in my last post that I finished reading Fall of the Giants by Ken Follett. I would now like to review the book.

I was not a big fan of the characters in the book, they were so obviously plot devices to be the eyes of each major historical event, and they continually kept crossing each others paths in a way that seemed unbelievable, and of course one or more where always present at all major historical events during the time period covered. But that said, I feel that I learned a lot about WW1, and other political issues going on during that time period.

I learned a lot about the suffragettes and how initially only women age 30 or older, who owned property worth more than five pounds, and/or were married to a man who owned property at the value or more were finally allowed the right to vote in 1918, in fact the 100 year anniversary just occurred and I knew what a battle that limited right was, and all thanks to the book I read.
I learned that the average working man did not have the right to vote, all decisions favored the wealthy and they had all of the power and all of the say in the governing of Great Britain, and unsurprisingly laws favored the wealthy and did nothing for the working man but keep him poor and in his place.
I learned that WW1 was a war started for no really good reason, and it kind of ran out of steam because no one really knew what they wanted as an end result. The average working man had no say whatsoever about going into war and they were literally slaughtered by the tens of thousands in a completely unnecessary war. 
I learned a lot about the Russian revolution, how desperately impoverished the Russian people were under the thumb of the Tsars, and how they managed to unseat the Tsars and to get in new leadership, the Soviets (a word that means council) only to find that for the most part they were no better off. I guess as they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

So, I would recommend this book because it is jam packed with historical facts, it shows the impact of historical events on the elite, middle class and working poor, and sadly makes you realize that 100 years later the world is still just as confusing and power hungry as it ever was.

I will be starting the 2nd book in the trilogy in the next week or two and will review when finished.

Friday, February 9, 2018

January In Review

Here we are already a week into February, craziness!

In January I made some new year resolutions and so far have kept them!

1. Dry January - best thing I did - and now I am having a dry February, and other than the first week or two of January I have not missed my evening glass(es) of wine! Win Win for Bean.

2. Healthy vegan diet, and exercise - check - in fact I have added strength training and after a month of weights, crunches, push ups, leg lifts etc. I am feeling quite buff and definitely feel stronger and look more toned, this is a fantastic addition to my exercise regime. I still walk or run 5 plus miles most days of the week.  And, Dave has started lifting weights too, so evenings of relaxing with an alcoholic beverage are replaced with a trip to the basement to strength train.

3. The Garden. Well not much happening yet, it is only February, the snow is falling and spring seems a long way off. But Dave did go out and step off the gardens so we can begin to plan what we want to plant and where we will plant it. I plan to grow the foods I eat, I will do a lot of Roma tomatoes, like 50 plants, these will all be canned, I eat tomatoes every day, lunch and dinner. But I would like some Big Boy tomatoes planted in the second garden, maybe half a dozen, so we have some to enjoy fresh from the vine. I will grow Kale and Collard Greens, Turnips, Rutabaga, Cucumbers, Green Peppers, Radishes, all things I eat almost daily. We will grow some potatoes, Yukon Gold, and Red, and I would like to try some of the purple fingerling varieties, and we like to grow sweet onions and a little bit of corn and some melons. I can't wait to get out and start digging over the gardens and getting everything ready, another month and we should be able to get started, potatoes can go in on Good Friday.

4. Not buying stuff - well I did very well in January, only purchases were groceries. February I splurged a whole $4.84 on a book, the used book cost .85 cents, and shipping, from England, $3.99. So, all in all, I am for the most part doing well with this resolution.

What book did I order, Seasons Of My Life by Hannah Hauxhall. I learned of Hannah last week, she was mentioned in British newspapers as she had recently died at the age of 91. So who was she? Hannah was a unique woman with a strong constitution. The only child of Yorkshire farmers, she lived on an isolated farm in the Pennines, her life was hard. Hannah was left to run the farm on her own at the age of 46 after the deaths of her parents and uncle. Life was frugal to the extreme, in 1972 she was living on around two hundred and ninety pounds a year, she had no electricity and no running water. Hannah raised cows for a living, this involved a massive amount of physical work, hauling water by hand, hauling hay, and then just the struggles of day to day living, washing clothes in the stream, hauling her own drinking water. The one luxury she had was an organ in the living room which she enjoyed playing. Hannah became a sort of celebrity when she was featured in a film in 1972 that exposed her frugal, hard working life. The winters are brutal in the Penninnes and Hannah was quoted as saying, "in the summer I live, in the winter I exist". I am looking forward to reading her book. If you go to youtube and search Hannah Hauxhall you can find the hour or so long television program about her life on the farm.

Another goal I have this year is to read, and read, and read. I finished the first in a trilogy of books by Ken Follett, Fall of The Giants, a 1000 page read about World War I, I have the second, equally long book, Winter World, which continues the story in the interim years of WW1 and WWII, then the third book is Edge of Eternity, which I assume is about WWII.  I recently read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Okay by Gail Honeyman, a very quick read, a very sad book, a good story. I really enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant and highly recommend it. I am now ready The Stories of Muriel Spark, what a fantastic writer Muriel is, she just has such an ability to show just what makes people tick and sees exactly what the real motivations are for why people do the things they do. When I finish with the Muriel Spark book I have Tales of The City by Armistead Maupin, I am looking forward to reading it, I have recently listened to a dramatization of the book on BBC4 radio and enjoyed it very much, so much so I decided to read the book. This is the same reason I stumbled across the Eleanor Oliphant book. I have a book ready for pick up at the library called Harvest by Jim Crace. I heard an interview with the author recently on BBC4 and he was interesting to listen to and although they were speaking about a more recent book he has written, they mentioned Harvest and  I read some reviews and decided I wanted to read it. So my goal to read more this year is going well.

I am going to experiment with making some Kimchi, it is a Korean food, apparently served with everything. Essentially it is fermented cabbage, but not sauerkraut. Using Napa cabbage, a very mild, tender, quite delicious cabbage, some scallions, daikon radish, ginger, garlic, red pepper and coarse salt, and if you like a few leaves of mustard greens, you make the Kimchi. The cabbage, scallions, radish are put in salted water and left to sit overnight, then the other ingredients are mixed together, then added to the drained and rinsed cabbage mixture. The whole lot is put into jars sealed with a lid, and left in a cool place for three or so days, then kept in the fridge indefinitely. The health benefits are for the gut, the microbes produced in the fermenting process are good for gut health. And, it is a tasty, high fiber, low calorie flavorful side dish. Traditional Kimchi has fish sauce in it, I will skip this as it is not vegan.

Well that is all for now,


Tuesday, January 30, 2018


I just listened to a BBC radio sitcom, All Those Women, about four generations of women, great grandma, grandma, mother, teenage daughter, living under one roof. The premise of the episode is that the mother is invited to lunch with an old friend who she really doesn't like but accepts the invite to be nice. The other family members urge the mother to do a "friend-ectomy" as the "friendship" isn't really that at all, it is in fact a dysfunctional relationship that serves no positive benefit.

Cut to the chase, the "friend" is not really friend, she simply likes to meet up occasionally and make lots of backhanded compliments about the mother and her family, in fact, seemed to thrive on patronizing the mother in order to make herself feel better. It made me think about friends in my life who have wandered in and out.

Some friendships were great for a time because both myself and the other person were at the same point in life, perhaps having small children at home, so it is nice to meet up at the park with the kids, do play dates etc. but as the children grow up and life gets the busy the friendship sort of loses its point. Others were workplace friendships, but once the "glue" of shared employer and day to day experiences goes there is not much else in common. The same can be said for neighbors, while living in the same neighborhood the friendship flourishes, but when one friend moves away the cause of the friendship, close proximity, is gone.

I can only think of two people in my life that I have "friend-ectomied" one became an extremely heavy drinker and just kept making terrible life decisions and I decided I did not need the drama in my life and there was nothing I could do to change the situation if the person could not see how self-destructive their behavior was. The other was a "user" (not drugs), simply a person who would call if they had no one else left to call, call only when they needed something, would always put phone calls, texts, facebook, etc. first, so you would be visiting, having been invited, and then spend a large amount of time simply sitting while the individual took phone calls, texted etc. Conversations always involved a lot of "name dropping" and only one topic was ever discussed - the individual. I put up with this relationship for years, and I am not sure why. I would be volunteered by this person to do things and be told about it later. Always suggestions would come along phrased in this way, "We should do ...? Well translate the We into me, I would be doing while the individual sat idly by issuing orders and doing nothing themselves. This person would go out of town, and then text to ask that we take care of household and outdoor animals, and never a thank you. Lets face it, I allowed myself to be shamefully used for many years. About six months ago the final straw occurred and I thought what exactly am I getting out of this "friendship" and I realized absolutely nothing except annoyance and frustration, and decided to stop interacting. At first I felt very guilty, but the guilt ebbed over time, I get a very occasional text or call from the person, but I never initiate contact, and I disengage immediately. I have NOT lost anything in my life at all, in fact, I have gained a lot, no more aggravation and annoyance, no more feeling horrible about falling into yet another trap and being used, and no more hurt, it is truly the best thing I did for me and my family :)

If you have a toxic relationship with someone why do you hang on to it?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Red Light, Green Light, Who Cares?

Driving to work today I found myself approaching a green light and noticed that I said out loud, "Pleeeaaase, Pleeeaaase stay greeeeeeeeen", then I wondered why am I always worried about traffic lights and wanting them to always be green? Why so stressed? I wasn't late, I wasn't in a hurry, it wasn't an emergency, good grief what a little thing to get all hyped about.

People pray to God, "Oh Please Lord let the light stay green?", I am guilty of this, I hope God just chuckled at my plea and got on with real prayer requests.

Why are we so obsessed with Green Lights? A few minutes waiting here, a few minutes waiting there, it really is nothing in the big scheme of things. But we are oh so very impatient.

I thought to myself as I drove through the light, that did remain green :), that never again would I give a darn about the traffic light color. If I can go I will go, if I have to stop I will stop and not grumble, because it seems a really stupid thing to get all riled up about.

So patience my friends, patience, enjoy each moment of each day because we only have so many moments to enjoy.



Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Winter - I am ready for Spring

Boy has it been a cold winter, we had a very brief reprieve from the arctic blast and then it returned for another week. It is supposed to warm up a bit over the next few days and I can't wait.

New Year resolutions are going really well, all kept so far!

Our youngest daughter, Emily, became a certified EMT this month when she passed her state exam. Next Monday she starts work as an EMT, she is really excited about her new job, and we are really proud of her. Next step is to get certified as an advanced EMT, while she continues to go to college to train as a paramedic.

Trying on her EMT jacket for her new job
Tomorrow our oldest son, Matt, turns 34. It is really strange to think about 34 years passing since we had our first child, the memories are so fresh in my mind, yet 34 years have passed. Time is a strange thing, it can really drag when you are stuck at a red light, but it seems to just slip through my fingers and it is hard to comprehend a 34 year span of time where so much as happened but all my memories are so vivid it seems as if they couldn't have happened so long ago.


This week I am working on cleaning out the freezers, It is surprising how many things just kind of accumulate. So for the next few weeks I am basing all family meals on what is in the freezer, tonight I am making everyone ham and potato soup with cornbread. Me, I will have my usual bowl of vegan goodness, or as my mom calls it my bowl of weeds :)

Vegan bowl of goodness!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday, Odds and Ends

Good morning,

Well I am doing well with my New Year resolutions, I should say we are doing well, as Dave and I are both doing dry January, and it is going very, very well.

It has been a strange winter so far, it started snowing on Christmas Eve, then arctic air descended on Indiana and for two weeks it was sub-zero, including one morning where we awoke to a low of -13, that day the high reached about 2 degrees, BRRRR. On Sunday the weather started to change, we have had more normal highs of upper twenties to low thirties, today we are going to reach the mid forties, and tomorrow the mid fifties. As they say in Indiana, if you don't like the weather stick around a day or two as it will change!

This morning I went onto Facebook and saw an event advertised, The Indianapolis Veg Fest, it is FREE (bonus) and on Saturday, March 31, I asked Dave if he wanted to go and he said he would go with me, he is definitely not vegan :) he is a good guy and always supportive of me.

Yesterday on YouTube I found a great song by the poet Benjamin Zephaniah, it should be the vegan anthen: . If you have never read any Benjamin Zephaniah poetry, well you should, it is excellent, I have listened to a few interviews on BBC radio with BZ, he is an interesting man, very salt of the earth.

At the moment I am knitting a couple of sweaters for my two granddaughters, I am using a very bright variegated yarn and am enjoying the way the yarn knits up.

I am reading a book by Ken Follett, Fall of Giants, an almost 1000 page novel, but such a page turner, I just started it a few days ago and am already half way through. A epic saga about WW1, a mix of romance, family upheaval, and historical fact about how WW1 began and all of the behind the scene political maneuvering that ultimately pushed everyone into the war, it is very interesting. My big take away so far is here we are one hundred years later and NOTHING has changed. Those at the top make decisions that keep them at the top and wealthy, the rest of us are to a large extent simply pulled to and fro by the decisions of the elite. Well that is depressing, sorry about that.

No caption required! HAH!!

Well not too much else going on this week.

Peace be with you,


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Happy New Year - 2018

Happy New Year - may everyone be blessed with good health and contentment in 2018.

Do you make new year resolutions?

I do and here are my goals for this year!

1. Buy nothing

Well obviously I will have to buy some things, food, basic household items, pet food and probably a few other things, think 9 grandchildren with birthdays. But, my goal is to not purchase items, new or used, unless absolutely necessary. I don't need any clothing, in fact I plan to have a pretty good clear out of my closet and dresser, there are items in there that I just never wear. 
Exceptions to my rule will be replacing items that break, but only after careful evaluation. For example our hot water heater is possibly on its last legs, it will be replaced and that requires making a purchase of something new, but it is a necessity, so when the time comes we will have to make a purchase.  Other items can be evaluated, if my coffee maker breaks down, I have two stove top percolators in the basement, I would go back to using them. You get the idea.

2. Enjoy a glass of wine once in a while, not daily

My husband has always been a beer drinker, and he enjoys a couple of glasses of wine, but we both feel we drink too much, it is an expensive habit, and it is NOT good for your health. So to start we are doing a dry January, and then, as Dave pointed out Lent begins shortly after (February 14), so we may continue on to Easter. I will still enjoy a glass wine outside of January and Lent, but I want it to be something enjoyed once in a while, not every day. Because one glass becomes two, and sometimes more, and that is not good.  

3. Really make the most of our garden this year

Last year we put our garden in late, we had a cool wet summer, and between deer eating our tomato plants and a somewhat neglectful attitude, the whole project was a bit of a bomb. We enjoyed cucumbers, peppers, cantaloupe melons and acorn squash, but we had nothing to can. The year before our garden simply suffered from neglect, watching 8 grandchildren two of whom were babies that summer, I did not have the time or the energy to keep up on the garden.
This year I am determined that we will have a fabulous garden as we did in previous years. I eat a lot of tomatoes so want to can many, many jars of them, I eat a lot of kale and collard greens, they are both easy to grow. I eat turnips and brussel sprouts every day, and both are easy to grow, and of course cucumbers, radishes and green peppers. I eat a lot of lentils, I don't know if I can grow them in Indiana, but I am going to research and see if I can grow some. 

4. Continue on as a Vegan, and keep daily exercise a priority in my life

This is my easiest resolution, it is how I live, so nothing to add here, just keep on keeping on. Oh, and be more disciplined in posting to my blog :)

I would love to hear your plans and goals for 2018.

Peace be with you,