Saturday, June 18, 2016

Resilient in Orlando

Yes, Saturday night was humanity at its lowest, but humanity at its BEST is exemplified in how Orlando has reacted to the crisis. Thousands of people lined up for hours and hours to give blood. People donated sunscreen, tents, food, water, burial plots, counseling services, comfort animal services, services, services. . . . 

Respect, dignity, compassion and acceptance of our fellow citizens, no matter color, religion or sexual identity has been the mantra in O-town. For the very first time in the 24 years I have lived here, I am proud to say I live in Orlando. It is because of the people. We, as a community of peoples who, for the most part, were all born and raised somewhere else, have grown up. 

You know about WBC? They protest and interrupt funerals for gays and military personnel? They hold up horrible signs and scream protests at people in pain beyond the imaginable. So far, they are staying out of the area. Just in case they show up, there are whole groups blocking off their access during the funerals. People using sheets, blankets, large theater angel wings - anything that will protect mourners from dealing with that insanity.

Orlando IS the City Beautiful. Resilient, life goes on.  

Talk to you soon.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Orlando is Hurt but not Broken

Three horrible, horrible events in Orlando in less than a week.  
The outpouring of support is beautiful. Orlando stands strong.

Not going to post anything else this week. Maybe next week. 


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Day 1 Non-Stop Means NON-STOP

The trip to the United Kingdom and France was wonderful beyond my expectations. I had never traveled to Europe before. It is hard to know what to write here or what to include in the way of photos. I have 1,800 photos and 85 video clips. I narrowed these down to 300 of the better photos to show slow moving targets,  to show my friends. For the blog, I am trying to keep it under 75 except when the photo tells the better story than the first 1000 words.

The Players:
Myself and my "bestest" best friend, my partner in crime: Joyce. We booked our plane tickets 11 months ago. Joyce was in charge. She has traveled around the world numerous times. It was good to travel with an experienced best friend. 

Today I will write about Day One and a half.

We traveled on the red eye from Orlando non-stop to Gatwick Airport in London, UK. I avoided caffeine for the three days prior to the trip. I woke at 4AM on the morning of the evening flight and got in a 5-mile walk before noon in an effort to be tired on the flight. I wanted to be able to sleep and arrive reasonably human-like. 

Entering the plane from the front cabin we walked through the First Class/Business Class cabins: They have seats that recline completely and become 76 inch long beds, each with a dividing wall to give the passenger privacy. In business/first class they also hand out lovely 100% cotton pajamas and slippers. Stewards were standing by with tasers to make we did not linger in this cabin too long so, alas, we continued on to the next cabin: Premium World Coach.

Three weeks prior to the trip we had to opportunity to upgrade from teeny-tiny benches, I mean regular coach seats to Premium World Coach Seats - (two across instead of 3). These include deeper recline, footrests, eye masks and stepped up services on board. I thought this would mean a wider seat - it DOES NOT. This is annoying to me, a lady with saddle bag thighs and hips: Due to the molded form of the seat, it was narrower than the regular coach seats by about 2 inches. I gained weight gained this past year and mourned every missing fraction of an inch. 

On this airline, in all cabins, all alcohol and movies are free. However in Premium we also got warm socks so we can take off our shoes, noise canceling headphones, upscale toiletry kit, pillows, blanket and eye mask, Orange juice and water are passed out every hour - even before I reached my seat they were encouraging hydration and its opposite cousin: urination, by walking through the cabin with trays, offering glasses of either/both. I usually travel with my own noise canceling headphones but these are included with the premium seat, so I left mine home. These were fine. 

Now it was time for wine and snacks. The first wine we had was from Chile and it was superb. The wine with dinner was from Argentina. The wine from Chile was better.  After water, orange juice, wine and a snack of salty-cheesy pretzels, we are handed the menu for dinner (also a heads-up menu regarding breakfast). I had the fillet of beef. Everything was tasty with the exception of the dinner roll, which I did not eat. 

After dinner, wine was offered again. Then the lights dimmed, the AC seemed to get cooler and the water/OJ brigade took a break so passengers could get some sleep. I got up to walk behind, to the middle of the plane, to use the restroom. That was my first chance to see the cattle car, I mean the normal coach class section. The faces I saw all looked miserable. By then we were 3 hours into a 7.5-hour flight and I think most of the people in coach had the look of sardines in the can. I silently said a prayer of thanks for the means and opportunity to upgrade and when I returned to my seat I put on the eye mask and concentrated on willing myself to get to sleep.  Joyce sleeps about 3 hours. I slept for about two hours. Not bad for someone with a fear of flying! 

When awake, I was careful to stretch, get up and walk around and drink more water. Before going to sleep I reset my iPhone for UK time. It was "now" about 5AM. the lights were starting to come back on in the cabin. Orange juice brigade came around followed by our 'breakfast snack' and a nice cup of tea. The breakfast consisted of a multigrain croissant, jam, cereal bar, butter, and  box of raisins.The cereal bar contained corn syrup - a substance not permitted in France and I do not think in the UK. I don't eat cereal bars anyway so I tossed it out along with the rest of the food. I was still digesting dinner. I got a kick out of reading the ingredients label and seeing that the raisins have ingredients beyond 'dried grapes.' 

We landed at 6:25am, London time, sailed through customs and border patrol and walked from one side of Gatwick Airport to the other to get the train to London's St Pancras station. We buy Oyster Cards - this is the equivilent of a NY metro card for mass transit. We also had our advance-purchase tickets for the Eurostar high-speed rail to Paris later that morning.  

St Pancras Station is lovely. If you take the best of Grand Central Terminal in NYC and combine it with a good shopping mall you have St Pancras. 

The Eurostar is a great way to get to Paris quickly.   If you don't pay attention to the fact that if we hit a wall, we will all disintegrate into dust. . .  .Once I stopped concentrating on how fast we were traveling I could concentrate of enjoying myself. Opps, forgot about the underwater part.  I do not like to travel under water. I hate tunnels of a mile or less and EEK, the Chunnel is under the English Channel for 22+ miles!

We emerge in the beautiful French countryside on a lovely spring day. We were in a four-seater with a 12 year-old boy who was born in New York, raised in Paris and now lives in London. His mother is from Medellin, his father is from Baltimore and his siblings go to schools in the US, studying engineering. His mother, glued to her phone the whole trip, sat across the aisle, keeping the empty seat next to her for herself and dumped her boy with us. Nice, huh? Nothing against the kid- he was a fascinating young man. In fact, I enjoyed talking with him and I know he was thrilled that we did not hide in our books and ignore him. He even helped my download an ap on my iphone so that I could hold it up to anything written in French and it would show it to me in English, all using the camera function. 

London to Paris in 2.5 hours, plus we lost another hour due to traveling east. We arrive it Paris at 1:30pm Paris time - which is 6:30am back home in Florida. 

We arrive at Gard du Nord and take a taxi to our hotel in Montmartre on the Boulevard Montmartre. Our room is on the 4th floor, overlooking Boulevard Montmartre and facing in the direction of the Lourvre, a 20 minute walk away. Some windows in the hotel overlook the hill upon which sits Sacré-Cœur: The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. 
The Basilica - This photo was NOT taken from our hotel room,
it was taken the day we climbed to the church. 

Our hotel windows overlook Boulevard Montmartre - a bustling street crammed full of museums, cafes, restaurants, theaters and shops. 
View outside the French doors in our room
Before leaving the USA, Joyce and I agreed that when we arrived in Paris we would eat a meal and then retire for the day so we could wean over to the new time zone, perhaps getting up at 4am the first day and a normal 6am by Friday. That was the plan. . . . 

We unpacked and rested on the beds for about 45 minutes before going down to find a place to have lunch. One expensive bottle of mineral water and a salmon salad later, we decided to take a walk to stretch our legs before returning to the room to call it a day. . . . . But this is PARIS and it was my first time, and so we walked for six hours. 
One of 4 bridges we walked
that afternoon/evening
We started down the street you see from the hotel window. At the end of the horizon in this perspective , we reached the Louvre. Then we crossed over the Seine on the Pont de Carrousel (bridge) and walked along the Seine to the Champs Elysees Place de la Concorde (that's where they guillotined, once upon a revolution). Night approached. The Effiel tower, still a few blocks away, was magnificent in its night-bling. We crossed over several avenues, passed many museums, parks, sites of interest . . . gobbling it all up. It did not matter that it rained on and off. It certainly did not matter that my legs were getting tired. Paris was the remedy to every problem that afternoon/evening. I was in Paris and I could not get enough. 

After three hours we stopped to have something to drink. It was close to 7:00pm. Vaugely we thought about dinner. We walked into a restaurant through a park across the grand expanse of the Avenue des Champs Elysees. We sat at a lovely table and read the menu but decided we weren't really hungry, just thirsty. I had a bottle of water, a glass of wine and a cup of coffee. With glasses of wine, they brought us a small plate of 3 tiny cheese crackers. Joyce and I both felt that these were the finest crackers we ever had in our lives. Each was just a single bite and heavenly. To give you an idea of how perfect they were:  they asked if they could bring us more and WE declined because we both felt we had experienced perfection - and it was enough.

We did not even eat dinner that night. These were not miracle diet-crackers. We were just too tired. 
Love the heart that formed during the pour 
The coffee was presented with a small block of dark chocolate. I licked a corner of the block but left it on the plate. Milk/cream, sugar are not offered with coffee in France. You want milk, you must order a 'white coffee.' However, the coffee in France is soooo good, I do not need to add milk. Yes, I did visit Starbucks in several locations: more on that later. 

After finishing the water, wine and coffee we continued our walk: the Paris Eye, Jardin des Tuileries and back to the Louvre for a night photo with the Pyramid. 

We finally returned to the hotel around 10pm that evening. Our room is tiny but the bathroom is(according to my well-traveled roommate) 'the largest hotel bathroom she ever had in Europe.' We finally get to bed around 11pm, Paris time. In was late March and 49 degrees outside, but we left the french doors open all night and stayed warm under fluffy down duvets. We must have slept well because the next thing  I knew, the sun was poking through the drapes and Joyce was poking me and saying "Hey, it's

Next up~
Day 2 - Have Faith and Keep Climbing! 


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Not a Good Silence - But Getting Better

I was food sober and doing the happy dance. My weight remained steady - no loss but no gain. Then  I was not okay. The positive attitude was replaced by depression and healthy repetitive behaviors were mocked by unhealthy repetitive habits. Perhaps you will recognize or identify with some of these:  dressing to exercise and then not doing it. Filling the fridge with healthy fresh food and then throwing most of it out as it rots because you didn't eat the fresh food because you ordered in; because you filled up and frozen pints of ice cream?

Starting over tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and feeling more and more like a failure. I fell away from my recovery program. I felt powerless as my world got smaller and smaller and my body got bigger and bigger. It was agony. My body reabsorbed pounds like a sponge in water. I regained a total of 70 pounds and have lost 10 of the little b@$t@rd$, so far.

Professional help for my emotions coupled with a return to healthy actions is again leading to bigger healthier actions, behaviors, patterns. Good repetition is so important in keeping the pounds off. I've tried all the other options and they don't work for me. I hope that I am done with the weight gain research.

Today I leave on the trip of a lifetime. I am off to Paris and London with a fellow friend who is keeping the pounds off she supports my recovery. I am looking forward to energizing my head, feeding my soul and returning home and returning to blogging.

Photos of the trip when I return.

Thank you to everyone who reached out during the silence. I was not in the headspace to respond but I want you to know I appreciates your  trying to make contact over these past few months.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

So About Those Complications~

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT delay getting medical treatment the minute you feel a urinary tract infection coming on.

My adventure started with the classic signs of a urinary tract infection. That was a Monday. I bought AZO Standard and pure cranberry juice (absolutely nothing else added). The AZO helped immediately and I put off going to the doctor. Tuesday, Wednesday, then Thursday I thought I was feeling better, congratulating myself for managing to stay clear of a trip to the doctor. In fact, I stopped taking the AZO. On Friday I woke up feeling feverish and everything in my body felt sluggish and sick. I went to the minute clinic but my fever of 101.5 was too high for them and they sent me right over to the urgent care where they found my fever was now 102.2 and I was bent over with a dull but persistent ache, but with no pain at urination. My sample was very cloudy - full of the bad guys. It was determined that I now had a raging kidney infection and perhaps I was developing sepsis.

So two cultures,  an IV and two injections later it was decided I was not toxic enough for the hospital. I was sent home with a a five day supply of Cipro.Two days later I was back with a 102.5 fever, dizziness and a developing cough and chills. Still infected, still in pain, I had a chest x-ray, another IV, two more shots and  and went home with a seven day supply of an even stronger antibiotic for the kidney infection. The cough was due to a chest cold that just happened on the scene at the same time. After this round of shots and IV the fever went away immediately and I started feeling better the next day. Recovery has been slow. I spent eleven days doing absolutely nothing but sleeping and staring at the TV. I could not concentrate to read or do anything else and it all sucks. I can't even tell you what I watched on the television. I was not watching, I was staring.

I don't bounce back as fast as I did in my twenties. Go figure. I have been slowly getting back on my feet. I've walked a few miles over this past week and have returned to work. I hope to be back to full vigor in a few weeks with some more walking and weight bearing exercises.

I've got good news to share:
In the past I used illness as an excuse to pick up comfort foods that only make me sicker. (sugars, desserts - crap). Not this time!  At first I had no appetite - none.  While that can be considered a dream come true for some, I know that I have to stay as close to my normal eating pattern as possible. Illness is not an acceptable excuse to start eating crap that is not on my food plan. Let me repeat that: illness is NOT an excuse to eat foods that are not on my food plan. I accept this as sacred. I ate from my normal food plan, I just ate less. As such, I stayed the course and did not gain from 11 days of inactivity. I ate as much as my appetite would allow and no more than my food plan gives me. This formula kept me steady when my appetite returned and suddenly hunger returned.  

I have a plan to follow and I followed it. 11 days laying in bed and don't nothing more strenuous than taking my temperature and I did not gain a pound. I am now five days back on my appetite. The feeling of wanting more is gone. My appetite is again normal. My only regret is taking so long to seek medical help.

I am so grateful I did not think illness was a free pass to medicate myself with food.

Are you getting the help you need for what is ailing you?


Friday, September 25, 2015

Food Sober with Medical Complications

My food has been clean all month but I have been sick for a good portion with a kidney infection. Finally on the mend. Will write when I can.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's September so that must mean . . . .

Time for the annual explosion of Pumpkin Spice products. Good luck with all that.

I am one of the strange people. I love pumpkin pie but detest anything else that is 'pumpkin spice.'

At least I don't have to be concerned that pumpkin spice foods will be attractive to me in an unguarded moment.

No more time to write today. Hopefully soon. Until then, enjoy this amusing photo I found on the internet.


Monday, July 20, 2015

The Witching Hour - a book, not a symptom

The Witching Hour (symptom) is that phenomenon when my body/brain seem to be taken over by unseen powers that demand I feed them chocolate, ice cream, pizza, cheese, even though I know these to be poison to me personally. Often this would start around a set time in the afternoon but The Witching Hour did not rely on just that set time. It could be conjured through a confluence of events such as suddenly knowing that I would be alone in the house for more than 24 hours - and could hide the evidence. (who was I hiding it from - myself?)

This is all old thinking. I no longer give my food impulses power with titles like Witching Hour, intended make me feel too weak to overcome a sudden craving and therefore, helpless to prevent them from happening.

But this post is not about that Witching Hour. It is about a book.

Although I enjoyed the movie Interview with a Vampire many years ago. I have never felt drawn to reading any of Anne Rice's books. No particular reason.  I just finished reading The Witching Hour by Anne Rice​. 960+ pages. I picked it up at the Starbucks lending library in Winter Park, Florida two months ago. I had some time to sit with a coffee and I picked up a book from the lending basket and starting reading, not expecting to get more than two pages in before I would return the book to the basket and leave with my coffee. I ended up reading the first 25 pages and taking the book home.

I lost interest around page 100 and decided to give it another 100 pages and then decide if I wanted to invest anymore time in the book. I read maybe two pages a day until last week when around page 250 when the story sucked me back in. I have read it voraciously for the past week, finishing it today.

The ending left me sad and lacking closure. I went on the Internet and found Anne Rice has a site (doesn't everyone have a site now?) and was quickly able to see that yes, there are two more books in this series. I will be getting them soon. While I was there I looked around a little bit and found that some characters in this series (the Mayfair Witches) appear in some of her Vampire Series of books.

I will probably have to get those, too. Damn.

Be careful of the books you pick up in lending libraries. They can make you hungry for others.

Anyway, I am food sober and doing what I can to stay food sober another day. I've had my ebbs and flows these past few months. I am on strong footing again. Getting imaginary gold stars from my therapist, mentors and spouse.

And reading about witches.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Symphony in a Carrot?

Does hearing the word "pen" make you taste chocolate. If you eat a croissant, do you hear a piano playing?

This article on synesthesia describes a condition where people have a tangling of sensory recognition.
'Tasting colors' and 'hearing taste' are very extreme, rare examples.

I do NOT have synesthesia.

However, I do identify with strange sensory responses. If I hear the word chocolate, I 'see' it and imagine the smell, texture, taste. It has, at times, been a strong response.

Hearing 'sugar' does not trigger any response at all. However, if I EAT sugar I swing from euphoria on the first bite to desolation on the last.

It is better that I do not eat sugar.

I wonder if I have any other unusual sensory responses.

I am doing well this month. Doing the work, getting results. Taking it one day at a time.

Hope you are well.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Foods that Rhyme with Itch

Recovery from my food addiction depends on several things and one of the most necessary is staying away from my binge foods. Speaking to another person recently, I accidentally said " my bitch foods," instead of binge foods. Thinking about this I see no reason to correct myself. When I pick up binge foods they are an absolute bitch to put down again.

Bitch foods. If I hold the bitch foods in high esteem and put them on an emotional and sensory pedestal. I become their bitch. 'Treats' of the past are the bitch foods of today.

To be free of the 'indentured servitude' of bitch foods, I require a different way of thinking and acting.

When I meet the bitch foods in the aisles of the food market or on a table at a party, I need to be like "Hey bitches, talk to the hand," and keep walking. I will diss the bitch foods.

I will not be their bitch.

Seven clean days and counting


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Crash and Burn Part III - Or why my daughter will never forget her 30th birthday

After five months of recovery, the last of which included multiple physical therapy sessions, pool therapy and much walking - my oldest was declared ready. On the last day of April we started the process of traveling to New York City so she could resume her life as a New York Apartment Dweller and Borough Commuter. She returned to her apartment building and confidently climbed the stairs (oh those stairs). I stayed with her for four days and observed her her walking from her apartment, down three flights of stairs, up three flights for the elevated train, down two flights for the subway, up three flights and walk to her office. I watched her do it again in reverse. I watched her walk around Manhattan during the evening rush. I watched her stand on the subway ride, giving a seat to older, more balance challenged riders (like me). I had to admit it: she was ready and I would have been holding her back if I had forced her to delay another few weeks.

And that is the last I have to say about her recovery and return to work. Several people who know her professionally also read this blog (Hi fellow friends of Thom Walsh) so to protect her privacy it is not my place to comment further on her personal life. Just know what she is recovered and doing well.

About the Crash:
Lauren's 30th birthday was the day we moved her belongings back into her apartment. Afterwards we wanted to have lunch and then return the rental car. We decided on a seafood restaurant on City Island in the Bronx. Sadly, I have been gone from City Island so long I forgot how backed up the traffic  can get on weekends.  The left lane was moving. I decided to move into the left lane so that I could exit the area when we reached the traffic circle. I did not see anyone approaching from behind in the left lane. I turned the wheel and stepped on the gas . . . and hit a car passing me in the left lane. My front bumper and driver's fender collided with her front passenger bumper and wheel well.

No one was hurt. THAT is the only important thing said me, the police, the other driver, insurance company and the rental car company. Neither car was moving very fast. It was a case of the noise of the crash far exceeding the damage. Because there were no injuries we had to wait for the police to be free to come. There must have been a great deal going on that day because it took over 2 hours for them to arrive and then 40 minutes to fill out the paperwork. Neither driver was cited. Both cars are being repaired. Thank God for insurance.

We never did get lunch. We returned the rental car to the airport in White Plains one minute before the late fee could take effect, then took a taxi to Metro North into Grand Central and then the subway to the apartment. We got to her home at 9:00 pm and ordered dinner from the local diner.

Lauren plans to spend her next birthday NOT getting into a car.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Crash and a Slow Burn Part II - Injury and a New Hobby

Back in late February/early March, I was exiting a theater by walking up a staircase in the aisle: the kind of steps where the horizontal plane is 6x times as wide as the vertical incline is tall.

I was trying to hurry and I extended my step to walk faster up the staircase (one step forward for every step up - like a normal set of stairs), instead of allowing for an extra footstep on each step. Everything was fine . . . until I got home and tried to get out of my car thirty minutes later. I could barely stand. That elongated stepping  pulled something in my thigh and my knee and my hip. For the next two weeks I could do nothing physical. I even took to using a cane for a few days.

I decided as long as I was sitting in a chair near my daughter, who can crochet, I would watch her intently until I could figure out what all that hook movement is all about. I am not someone who can never learn from the book and as much as my Nana and Mom tried to teach me by their example, I never ever learned squat when it comes to the needle arts. And, in case you have not figured it out by reading me through the years - I do not take or follow directions easily.

After a few hours of observation, I started playing with some yarn and a hook. This was followed by a day of making up my own stitches, several of which I have come to learn are real crochet stitches and others are simply stitches discombobulated. After three days of playing with yarn, I decided to make an afghan for a dear, dear friend who is moving away from Florida for the cold and f-f-frosty northern reaches of New Jersey.   I only had five weeks before he was leaving and I have never crocheted anything before in my life.

Very L--O---N---G story short: my body finally healed by late April.  I was sadly out of shape by then and eating food that added to the inflammation. Making it harder to judge my level of healing.  I had used the injury to procrastinate myself into stopping all exercise. I could have been doing upper body work but instead, I sat in a chair and when I wasn't working, or eating, or buying food, I crocheted . . . crocheted and crocheted.  My thought was "I can't eat if I am crocheting." Guess what? I also cannot exercise while crocheting. either. I am not that coordinated. I on the obsession switch and crocheted.

Five weeks of crocheting produced this queen size work of art. My own design. 12 rows of 12 colors of the rainbow. The grey binds all the colors together. Every other color is a different stitch or pattern of stitches. There is a scalloped border. My daughter Lauren taught me that border stitch).

Speaking of Lauren, the next entry will be about her return to New York, or Civilization (as she would call it). Yes, she is recovered, repatriated back to New York City and reestablished as a New York subway rider. (Lauren is awesome!). 

The trip to NYC is where I got the idea for naming this series of posts Crash and a Slow Burn. You see, once we got to New York, I had a slight car accident . . . . 

More next time.