She brought me a small white plate.

Two dark pieces nestle on it. I stare at them, then shift the stare to her.

I had been smelling them since I came into the house after my coffee house writing session. Chocolate.

K is on a diet. Today is day 30. She is allowed to add one thing today. She added vegan honey to her breakfast amaranth. Now she waits three days to see if there’s a reaction. If a reaction — pain, a flare, stiffness — is experienced, that item is banned from her diet. Forever. Then she resets for a few days and adds another item. If no reaction is felt, she adds another item and waits three days. So it goes.

This means that she can’t eat what’s on the plate.

She’s hosting book club next month. The moderator opted for something lighter for March. Lessons in Chemistry. Bonnie Garmus. Kay is making vegan brownies studded with chocolate chips. These are vegan chips from Trader Joe’s. Vegan butter was used. This is a test batch. A Ghirardelli mix was used.

“Taste these,” she tells me. “Tell me what you think.”

She can’t have them. Diet. Two of the Ashlandians in the book club are vegan.

I force myself to eat a chewy, gooey vegan brownie.

“Wonderful chocolate taste. Not too sweet. Greasy,” I announce. That makes sense to her. There was something about the vegan butter melting and then measuring it again. She didn’t do that. “And they’re not done enough.”

“Five more minutes?”

“Maybe just three.”

She nods. She’ll make another test batch this week.

They go great with black coffee on a winting Ashlandia afternoon. An entire tray waits for me in the kitchen.

I’ll need to pace myself or it might be death by chocolate.

Saturday’s Theme Music

Saturday’s broken, like the first mornin’. We’re up to Feb. 11, 2023. Plenty of time for this year yet.

Sunshine cracked the day at 7:13 AM, fulfilling dawn’s potential in big way. Blue sky with striations of clouds like towels waiting for the laundry hover around Ashlandia. Sitting at 42 F., the cats are pleased with the sunshine, dry conditions, and temperatures. My spies tell me the weather prophets think we’ll see 52 F before sunshine is put behind Ashlandia’s horizon at 5:38 PM. Tomorrow, the spies whisper, it’ll be in the sixties before another front rolls in and drops us back into the land of rain and snow.

My wife continues her diet. She’s at 21 days and is enjoying its effects. Her RA pain and flares have subsided. Worst part is low energy in her opinion. I note that she’s not as mentally sharp. It’s not mentioned to her because it would depress her. She’s on a huge reading streak, going through two to four books a week, all fiction. She read Four Treasures of the Sky for her book club this week, along with Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter and Becky Chambers’s A Psalm for the Wild-built. She passed the last two on to me, recommending I read them. Dark Matter is on the pile behind Ancillary Sword. A Psalm was read and enjoyed. Fascinating and different concept and interesting story-telling style.

The Neurons have Three Dog Night singing “One” from 1969. I enjoy its drive and harmony. Harry Nilsson’s original version, meanwhile, is harmonically interesting, with a slower tempo, a more thoughtful but sadder experience. The Neurons went with the Dog but I included Nilsson’s version for comparison.

Coffee’s been drunk, breakfast consumed. Time to go write and roll. Stay pos. and have a solid Saturday.

Moonday’s Theme Music

I was out walking yesterday afternoon, slow-baking in the sun. My informants told me that the temperature was 51 F. Telling self, “This is nice,” I thought I’d extend the wall. With a magician’s swiftness, clouds blocked the sun. “Damn, it’s cold,” self said. A icy wind knifed through me. Drizzle followed. Three minutes after enjoying a fine, sunny walk, I was heading home out of the drizzle.

This is Monday, Feb. 6 of 2023. It’s a boom sort of day. Initiated early dark hours after rain began shortly after the witching hour, curtailing an hour later. Then – boom – clouds split, and here comes the moon, reflecting powerful white light from the sun. Sweet. Following up at this AM, 7:19, boom, sun kicked shine over the horizons into Ashlandia. While it’s sunny now, 37 F, weather spies tell me it’ll rain later, with a high of 56 F before the Earth turn takes Ashlandia’s sun away.

Yesterday was a good day for moi on many fronts. Wordle in two. As Wordlebot said, that was really lucky. Excellent writing and editing time, knock on wood, an enjoyable walk, followed by a pleasant dinner of fish with roasted red potatoes and broccoli. Dessert was flax chocolate cookies while we watched episode of The Last of Us.

My wife had none of that dinner or dessert. She continues her anti-chronic pain diet. No sugar, no salt, no processed foods. She’s on the section where in addition to certain raw veggies, quinoa, and sweet potatoes, she’s allowed kale, coconut water, buckwheat, and green smoothies. How much longer she’ll continue this is unknown, but she likes how of her RA pains and flares have gone into remission. I make my own meals while she makes her, and I’m careful not to bring in anything that might tempt her. She has strong willpower and discipline. It’s been over a month and she doesn’t show signs of flagging.

The Neurons are singing a song featured as my theme music before, “Cheap Sunglasses” by ZZ Top from 1979. Not sure what enticed The Neurons to begin playing it, but I always enjoy it. Love how the vocalist, Billy Gibbons, enumerates this woman’s features, concluding, “What really knocked me out were her cheap sunglasses.” Oh, yeah.

Stay pos and enjoy the moonday. I’ve had some coffee but I’m up for more. Here’s the music. ZZ Top was always a fun concert. Cheers

The CBD Experiment

My wife suffers from autoimmune issues that end up expressing as RA. Inflammation, swelling, and pain flare up without warning. Hips, back, jaw, fingers, hands, feet, back. Nothing is immune from autoimmune problems.

It’s not a new issue for her, starting back in 1998. It wearies her, of course, and frustrates me. All I can do is support her, and that just doesn’t feel and sound like much.

She’s gone through meds but as anyone who is prescribed meds knows, everything has a side-effect. Many meds cause their own problems, burning through other organs, upsetting digestive systems, etc. In her mid-sixties, she’s been a vegetarian or vegan for over forty years, for many reasons. As her RA progressed, she eliminated more and more foods. She keeps a food journal. Fats were strenuously reduced. Salmon was embraced. We’ve always eaten steamed vegetables, particularly broccoli and brusse sprouts, and roasted asparagus, so we just stayed the course with those. Black beans form a large component of our meals. Alcohol was gone, but she was never much of a drinker. Dairy, especially cheese, which she loves, was eliminated. Tomatoes (another favorite) followed. Sugar. Then she kicked the meds because the side effects were too deleterious. She’s always been a staunch supporter of work outs and exercising and has been a jazzercise enthusiast and weightlifter for over forty years. She puts a lot into both and has been asked by the jazzercise instructor to fill in and lead classes.

That’s the thumbnail sketch. With her diet restrictions, off the meds, she’s been doing well, and even improving. Know how it is, though, right? Something flares up, causing pain and problems.

That brings us to CBDs.

Friends of mine are CBD advocates. They and their wives use CBD and other cannabidiols such as CBA and CBG to cope with their health issues, particularly inflammation and arthritis, sometimes in conjunction with THC, sometimes with mushrooms, but usually with wine or beer. All are pleased with the results. A few raved about CBD with THC to sleep at night. Edibles such as gummies, easily obtained and ingested, garnered particular praise.

So I collected info from friends regarding brands, habits, dosages, and side-effects, and brought that to my wife. She did further research. Purchases were made. She took her first, Wyld Blackberry 25 mg CBD gummies. “How was it?” I asked the next day.

“I couldn’t sleep,” she replied. “And I didn’t feel anything for the pain, swelling, or inflammation.” She showed me her crooked finger, with its red, swollen joint.

I have minor inflammation, mostly afflicting my intestines. While I address restoring my biome’s balance through diet and probiotics, I thought I’d give the CBD a try.

“How was it?” my wife asked the next day.

“Great. Felt almost an immediate relief. I was really impressed.”

A low growl came from my wife’s direction. I may have imagined that. She tried the CBD again that day and experienced the same results.

Research was pursued. She determined, she believes, that she’s one of those people who suffer increased anxiety from CBD, and no relief.

For the heck of it, we tried other gummy variations, and also gave CBG a try. Same results for her. Which just sucks, you know? Meanwhile, I thrived on it.

But that’s how our bodies are, individualistic and unequal, following paths and micro-paths which we don’t fully understand, sometimes forged by genetics, but also by small biological quirks. That’s part of the life experience, understanding what your body is doing, trying to understand why, struggling to address your own unique needs and issues. The wildest aspect is that the body is always changing, and the hunt for understanding doesn’t end until we cease to breathe.

And that is life.

Day Two of the Apple Diet

Walking along the streets yesterday, I realize that I’d picked the wrong time of day for a constitutional. It was dinner preparation time. Smells from people’s cooking clouded the air. I swear that I smelled a grilled steak with garlic bread and onions. And here I am, eating nothing but apples.

Stickers on fruit exasperate me. Yes, this is a first world complaint. Two or three stickers are on each apple. Removing them requires some thumb-nailing. One typically comes apart as five or six tiny pieces.

The apple diet is an Edgar Cayce thing. My wife and I discovered Edgar Cayce in our late teens. Cayce was as a clairvoyant who claimed to channel information from his higher self while in a trance-like state. People wrote to him for advice, especially about their health. We came to learn about Cayce through books by Jess Stern.

Cayce made a lot of predictions that didn’t work out. But some of his notions intrigued us, and we adopted some of his eating and healing guidance. One of those things is the apple diet. On it, you eat nothing but apples for three days. You also drink water. Black coffee is permitted, too. The idea is that eating only apples will detox you or cleanse your system of its toxins. We’ve done this diet many times before, but not in several years. Now in our mid-sixties, battened down against COVID-19, limited in diversions because travel is restricted, we thought we’d entertain ourselves by eating only apples. I mean, I’ve been working on a jigsaw puzzle, but the pieces don’t taste as good as apples. I’m doing this to be a supportive husband, though. That’s what I tell myself. Several times a day.

We went out on Thursday and bought a variety of apples totaling enough for two people eating six apples a day for three days. That makes some number that is two times six times three. Beyond that, it’s pretty easy. Put six apples into a bowl each morning. Peel off the stickers, wash it, slice it up, and eat it when you’re hungry.

It’s not bad, as diets go. (That’s what I tell myself. Several times a day.) Limited in scope and duration. Easy to follow. And we like apples. I wouldn’t want to do it for longer than three days, though, although I do like the cleanup. Much easier than the messes made by plant-based burgers, pasta, fish, etc.

The most interesting part of this are the looks received from the cats when I bring in a plate of sliced apples. They’re like “Hey, what do we got?” Sniffing is exercised. Then comes the stare. The stare says, “Seriously? Where’s the real food?” The stare is fraught with betrayal and disappointment.

“I know how you feel,” I answer. Their expressions change to pity. One of them pushed a piece of kibble to me.

Seriously, the apple diet is not bad. That’s what I tell myself. It’s. Not. That. Bad. At least I still have coffee.

Monday’s Theme Music

Spring sunshine again bathes the valley this AM, with the sun beaming in at 5:48 AM and expecting to hang around until 8:27 PM. Today is Monday, May 17, 2021. Happy Syttende Mai! We’re helping Norwegians celebrate the 1814 day when Norway’s constitution was signed. Weather for Syttende Mai in Ashland expects to peak at 85 degrees F again today. It cools at night but rain would be nice, you know?

Today’s music is inspired by food. I know it’s not fashionable to complain about having food to eat, but I’m weary of our recurring menu. Yeah, I know it’s first world blues. Though nutritious and I’m grateful to have food, it’s gotten stale. This is amplified by the tedium of routines. I want other food in other places, feel me? Sure, you do. Thinking about this conundrum — I have food but I’m weary of the entrees — I began singing, “Day after day.” That triggered Bad Finger to rise from my mental recesses to sing along to their 1971 hit, “Day After Day”.

Maskwise, I’ve chosen to continue wearing the mask as I’ve been doing. Frankly, there’s a percentage of population who didn’t want to wear a mask, don’t want to be vaccinated, don’t believe that COVID-19 is an issue, and don’t care if others get it or die from it. That’s what I take from their actions and behavior, at least. I have no doubt that these people will lie and say they’ve been vaccinated and not wear a mask, and give more life to the virus. As I’m vaccinated, my primary concerns arise around breakthrough cases or being an unwitting carrier spreading it to others. I’ll give it ten days to see if we have a new spike, and if vaccinations continue at the same pace in the meanwhile.

My resolution about masking for now firmed this morning. The spouse was on her Zoom exercise class. This was prior to the actual class, when people were joining and chatting. One woman admitted to being embarrassed. Her adult son said he’s not getting vaccinated. His reason: he doesn’t like people telling him what to do.

So, stay positive, test negative, figure out what to do about a mask, and get vaccinated, for crying out loud. What an interesting expression that last is, you know?

Here’s the music. Ciao.

Sunday’s Theme Music

Today finds us at Sunday once again. I was just looking at the calendar, confirming that it’s April 25, and was surprised to realize there’s another Friday in the month. Just not paying attention.

The sun made it to Ashland at 6:15 AM and will make its departure at 8:03 PM. We’re getting close to almost fourteen hours of sunshine, which I do like. Like my cats, I am a sunshine fan. Don’t know how much sunshine we’ll see. The weather is continuing a drizzly, damp, chilly pattern. It’s 42 F right now, and we’re not expecting much higher. As I read on the net, the weather slowed down like a driver doing 75 in a 55 when he sees a cop behind him.

“Wedding Bell Blues” by the Fifth Dimension (1969) is looping through my mind. The great Laura Nyro wrote and originally recorded it. Her songs were hits by several others, like “Stoned Soul Picnic”, “And When I Die”, and “Eli’s Comin'”. She died way too young, 49, done in by ovarian cancer.

And while I like all those songs, I’m in the mood for something upbeat this morning. I challenged the mind for something. After a period of crickets singing and playing, the Foo Fighters crept in with “I’ll Stick Around” from 1995.

Upbeat? Up-tempo, I guess.

By the way, the three-day green-smoothie fast ended for me yesterday, day eight. Energy level just felt too low. Tired while walking, and didn’t achieve twelve miles for the day. Been a while for that. So I’m back on solids, and just finished a bowl of gluten-free oatmeal with peanut butter, cranberries, and pumpkin seed/flax granola.

Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get the vax, including the second dose, if you’re going the Moderna/Pfizer route. Cheers

Wednesday Wuthering

  1. On day five of the three-day green smoothie fast. Yesterday, besides three green smoothies, I enjoyed a few celery sticks, four prunes, a boiled egg, a cup of cubed watermelon, eight raw almonds and a handful of raw walnuts. I feel great, so why not continue? Sure, I was constantly mildly hungry throughout the day. And yes, my stomach talks to me in squeals, growls, and grunts all day, too.
  2. Okay, I cheated and ate a protein bar in the mid-afternoon.
  3. Well, the credit card ordeal might be over. Brief recap: was given new cards after reporting fraud on the previous cards. New cards received and activated. Wife wasn’t given chance to set her PIN. We tested: her old PIN didn’t work. Neither did my new one work on her card. Calls were made. A new PIN was set to her. We tested it. Nope. So, I commenced to pursue a fix. After spending over an hour on the phone with three different credit union reps, calling the numbers they specified, etc., I was turned over to a person in the credit card payment division. She listened to the tale. “You’ve been calling the wrong number.” I’d been calling the number the reps had given me. She gave another number. I called it. PIN changed, at least telephonically. We won’t be certain until we use it.
  4. Makes me wonder, though, you know? Why did it take so long for that number to emerge? Why is there a different number? Customer service and focus continues to die a slow death.
  5. Ah, technologically. I have a telemedicine call tomorrow. Video with a new family nurse practitioner. Annual event, to renew my meds for BHP and hypertension. Did the hardware check yesterday. Couldn’t connect to the video. Whaaat? The webcam worked last year. Went through all settings for hardware, software, security, privacy, etc. All was as should be. Even said that website had been given permission to use the camera. So…?
  6. Searched the web for advice and ideas. Microsoft, Kaspersky, HP. Talked to Chatbots for support. Uninstalled, reinstalled, updated drivers, rebooted machine several times, installed new webcam software, checked the device manager, registry, and so on. After three hours, the hardware check claims it works but I get nothing. Tested it on Zoom. Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing, except exasperation and frustration. Tested it this morning, just in case. No change.
  7. Forums are a joke in this regard. Many people reporting the same issue. No solutions found that work. Hell, most solutions were the previously-tried solutions. Ditto, the search engines on every browser and search site tried. They all regurgitate the same results. Remember GIGO? Garbage in, garbage out. Yep.
  8. Screw it, is my final position. I can use the iPad, which would be tres small. My wife generously offered me her iPad. That might be the way I go.
  9. Dad is out of the hospital. He was in at least two weeks, but don’t have greater details. He’d told me, don’t call, I’ll call you in a few days. That was weeks ago. He finally called yesterday. Has issues with fluid in legs. Turn bright red, swell, blister, etc., Medicos finally concluded, yep, heart weakening, kidney issues contributing. Wasn’t surprised, as he’s had COPD for decades. Some pulmonary issues were bound to reveal themselves. He’s in great spirits, mind remains sharp. That’s a tale I hear with many, many friends, though. I see the signs, and know where he’s going. Not unexpected, as that’s where we all go. Primary questions are about how long he’s in this declining state, how much pain and suffering he endures, and what his wife and family will experience during this watch.
  10. Dad and I are both retired military. Twenty-year vets. We receive pensions and healthcare. He retired about twenty-five years before I joined. That makes all the difference. He’s not paying anything for care. Tricare covers everything for him. Then launched into a “no wonder this country is going broke” stand. My Tricare is good, but I have co-pays. Dad does not. I have monthly premiums. Dad does not. I pay a small amount for prescriptions; Dad doesn’t. He also lives in San Antonio. A large military and retired presence there helps him. I live in rural southern Oregon. Time, age, location: that sums up the changes, right? Oh, yeah, and people are living longer, healthcare is constantly evolving, and it all costs. For example, he now has five people coming in each day to help him with different functions, from PT and leg exercises to bathing. He is married, and his wife is there, but I know how hard it is for a spouse to be a care-giver. She’s but a few years younger than him and has her own issues.
  11. Dissatisfied with offerings from U.S. television, we now watch a lot of foreign stuff. Mostly European. Dramas and comedies don’t work well, but thrillers, mysteries, and procedurals do. We try American offerings. We find them shallow, formulaic, and simplistic. Pretty people with fake issues to enhance tension dominate. Cry us another, you know? Right now, we’re watching Swedish, German, French, Italian, and British offerings. Don’t have anything coming out of Canada that entices me, which is a surprise. Same with the Aussies. But this might be the streaming gap, you know?
  12. Watching foreign television shows, we’re often entices by the settings. The procedurals often take place on the coast, an island, or a lake. They’re beautiful, intriguing places. I told my wife that we should set up tours to these places. That would cost a mint, and it’s impossible during the pandemic. If I had to chose one, I’d go to the Stockholm archipelago where “The Sandhamm Murders” is set.
  13. Okay, have my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

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