Sunday, August 31, 2008

Another recipe

On a high fat diet because you've cut all the carbs out and have to have something to burn?  Or simply want to make a nice treat but you don't have the energy/skill/accessible kitchen to do anything interesting?  How about making a cream soda?

Cream Soda

  • sparkling/seltzer water
  • flavored syrup (sugar free if you are avoiding carbs)
  • whipping cream
  • ice

There are no particular amounts to use, because measuring takes the surprise out of life.  Experiment with what seems good to you.

Pour syrup (this is the sort of syrup used for coffee drinks) and cream into a glass filled with ice.  Pour sparkling water over it.  Mix with an ice tea spoon.

Be careful!  As with ice cream floats, this treat can rise well above the edge of the glass, so you can't see where the liquid starts and the foam begins.  Taste your drink and decide if you need more of anything.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Texas Sunshower

White light streams through shining clouds onto pastures below.  


















(Yes, I took this picture!  It's mine, all mine!   If you want to use it, be courteous and link back here. )

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Recipes sweep the disability web!

As often is the case, Dave started it.  Then Frida jumped in.  And since my non-broccoli eating housemate asked me to buy broccoli again, I suppose I should add my secret recipe for getting crucifers into vegetable haters.  And it is gluten-free!

  • two heads of broccoli
  • onion to taste (dried or fresh chopped)
  • water to cover
  • one can of broth 
  • one stick of butter
  • 1-2 cup/s shredded cheese 
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1-3 cups liquid (water/milk/cream/broth)
  • black pepper
  • salt

There's a right way to do this, and the way that I do it.  I'll tell you my way.  

Wash the broccoli and break it up.  It doesn't need to be chopped, because you are going to cook it down until it breaks apart.  Put the broccoli and the onion into a large enough sauce pan, cover with water, and set to boil.  Pay attention or you will burn the broccoli, and that is something you definitely don't want to do.  Add more water if needed.  You will boil until so soft you can break it apart with a spoon.  (Checking to see what I left out, and it's this:  Break up the broccoli!) Turn the heat down to a low simmer.

Add the broth and the stick of butter.  When the butter has melted, add the cheese (I use Muenster, because that's what's been cheap around here).  Stir.

While the cheese is melting into the broccoli, break two eggs into one cup of the remaining liquid.  Whisk it really well.  Now turn off the heat from the pan, and slowly pour the egg solution into the soup, stirring vigorously the whole time.  Stir, stir, stir.  If you don't stir with spirit, your eggs will end up scrambling instead of thickening.  Also, now is when you are breaking your broccoli into tiny bits.  Stir, stir, stir!

Now, add the rest of the liquid, as much or as little as you please.  Taste.  Add salt and pepper as needed.  Taste again.  Get bowl for yourself.  Eat it.  Then dish yourself some more and give the rest to everyone else.  

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OK, who's next?  If you also publish a recipe, tell me in my comments.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I hate allergies

"Atopy" comes from an ancient Greek term meaning "out of place."  How appropriate.

Yesterday, I got nothing done.   And it's all because of allergies.  I hate allergies.  Of all the things that my body does to make my life more, er, interesting, allergies are the worst.  I started having slight asthma symptoms at the beginning of the week, but since I was having a fairly laidback week it wasn't anything I couldn't ignore.  And then yesterday, the mucous membranes got into the act.  In a bid to stop the constant flow and sneezing, I was taking antihistimines every two hours.  Everything I took was supposed to work a minimum of four hours, and some for twelve.  But faced with my immune system's insistence on working overtime, Claritin, Drixoral, Zyrtec, and Benedryl merely tuck tail and run.  So, in exchange for minimal relief from the incapacitating symptoms, I got the side effects of lethargy and heaviness and mind-racing panic from the antihistimines.  It's always a toss-up as to which is worse.

I had decided I'd go to the clinic today for steroids if I wasn't better, but fortunately the big storm we had seems to have given me a reprieve.   I'm grateful, because I could see I was headed fast to a full-fledged general atopic collapse.   

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Vacation success!



We're back, poorer in pocket but richer in memory and know-how! I appreciated the good wishes sent me prior to taking off for vacation, and especially appreciate Elizabeth's ideas about making things safe as well as fun. I did take that to heart and found us a beach with lifeguards and lots of other people around, in case of trouble.

Also, we ended up not camping. The more I thought about it, the less I wanted to expose Carapace to even one day of unremitting sun, seeing as she is photosensitive. As luck would have it, I stumbled across a funky beach cottage establishment that still had an efficiency for rent at astonishingly affordable rates. So we stayed there both nights, enabling us to go to the actual beach twice on Thursday, and then swim in a pool after the sun set.  It was really quite an old cottage, but all the same it was almost accessible.  If they would just ramp the entrances (which all had high anti-flooding thresholds) anyone could get in.  The door to the bathroom was already plenty wide.  A sliding bench and some hand rails would have made the shower and toilet available to anyone.   But I can tell from the rates they were charging that there are no major renovations planned for these 80 year old cottages any time soon.  I'm frankly astounded that the upkeep is as good as it is in such old cottages.  I'd stay there again, but if I needed a wheelchair....well, that poses a whole set of problems for a community built on sand.

Here's what I did that made our vacation about as safe as it could get for us:

  • life jackets--Carapace didn't want to wear one, but I did, and it helped me a lot. Last time I went to the coast, the waves battered me pretty badly and I was so exhausted that I couldn't enjoy it. This time, the life jacket did the work for me so that I didn't have to try to fight to both keep my head up and keep my limbs from being jerked out of place by the waves.
  • Dark goggles--they kept both the bright light reflecting off the waves as well as the waves themselves from stinging our eyes. I have a particularly badly shaped forehead for keeping liquids out of my eyes, so not having to deal with that nuisance was great. My goggles, unfortunately, did tend to create a vacuum around my eyes that I had to keep breaking to keep being able to see. But it was a fair trade off. Just, next time, I will try on the goggles before buying them.
  • Rash suits--I wore both a sleeved top and long pants, and C wore a sleeved top over her swim suit. This kept us from burning, and also offered some protection in case of jelly fish. Weirdly, we saw no jellies or portuguese man-o-war the entire time, but experience has taught us that there is no swifter end to a beach vacation, so it was good to be prepared.
  • Morning and evening at the beach, afternoon in the air conditioning.  Avoiding the hottest, sunniest part of the day also was a big factor in keeping us from becoming toast.
  • Cheap canes--this was the result of an unexpected find at the island grocery store.  They had wooden canes for $1 each.  We each got one, and so were able to do some beach combing without worrying about messing up our good canes.
  • Cervical collars have more than one use!  This was also an unexpected "find." I use a cervical collar because my neck tends to go out of place on an annoyingly frequent basis.  But I didn't need to use it at night during vacation.  At least, I didn't need to use it on my neck.  Instead, I wrapped it just above my left knee to keep my leg bent like I need it at night, instead of using the towels I had brought.  It worked much better, since it didn't fall off when I moved or need to be readjusted.  Now I know that when I replace this cervical collar, I can continue to get use out of it. 
  • Not overdoing it--this was maybe the most important thing.  We made sure to get plenty of rest and never spent more than an hour doing any particular activity.  Sure, there was a lot more we could have done if we had been go-go-go the whole time.  But this vacation was about relaxing, enjoying different surroundings without demands, and being ready to go back home where work and chores await feeling refreshed mentally.
  • Coming home with enough time to recuperate--who doesn't need a vacation from vacation?  We went during the week so that I could have the weekend to do laundry, buy groceries, and rest my weary bones.  And rest I have.

I also put to test something else I had been considering, that anyone who hates re-packing might do.  I bought a couple of disposable roasting pans, a disposable grill top (such as is supposed to be used on a regular grill), and instant-light charcoal.  I punched some holes in one of the pans, and bent both pans so that the inner hole-y one was up a little higher than the outer one.  I put in the charcoal, bent the grill around the pans, and lit the coals.  Soon, I had our hotdogs ready to eat.  All I had to do after that was pour water on the pans and throw them away.  Nothing dirty to pack back up!  Yay!  If I was at a park instead of the beach, I would want to put the pans on a couple of bricks or something, because they get very hot.  But for the beach, this was perfect.

Oh, and I made sun tea by using the car windshield and the foil-covered window sunvisor as a lazy woman's solar cooker.  I put water and 8 tea bags in a large sports bottle full of water, and set the bottle between the windshield and the sunvisor.  It made for a strong tea ready to be diluted in my half-gallon pitcher, in just 90 minutes.

Another important thing I learned is that I can really book with two canes.  Next big adventure will be TRF, and I will have two hiking sticks with straps on me, even if they aren't period authentic for Tudor England.  Maybe this time I will be able to avoid the pure agony that comes from dragging one leg around all day.

Okay, okay.  I know, this is educational and all, but did I have fun?  Yes!  I had some very nice food at Moby Dick's and Virginia's on the Bay, where each place went out of their way to make sure C's and my diet were accomodated.  We successfully beachcombed!  We played in the ocean, bobbing over the waves.  A big pelican flew right over my head, close enough to make out the breast feathers even with my goggles on!  And a school of fish moved in on us, very nearly slapping C upside the head as they lept out of the water.  One of them swam right under my foot as I moved to stand in the chest deep waves.  It's a strange feeling to stand on a fish!  We had a long and fun conversation with the evening barista at Sips.  We fed the seagulls at the park.

Was there anything bad?  Well, I did have a terrible cramp in my right calf that still hurts two days later, and that tried real hard to cramp up my thigh, too.  But that could have happened at home just as easily.  And my neck went pretty badly out of place on the drive home.  But again, that sort of thing happens all the time, so it's no reason to not have a vacation.  Besides, that's why I carry a cervical collar everywhere, so it isn't like I wasn't prepared.  And C ended the trip with a migraine.  But again, that was likely to happen anyway.  Because we both anticipated having our usual gamut of problems, we were able to have a good time while also taking care of ourselves.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Not NICE

I just returned from my very lovely vacation, and am catching up on my favorite blogs. And what do I find at Junkfood Science, but a review of Social Value Judgements, a report put out by Great Britain's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence for the purpose of shaping its National Health Service's policies and budgeting. Sandy Szwarc rightly declares this document dangerous:
The entire world should care about what this disturbing document forewarns. It is the most palpable document in recent history to bring the same bioethical dilemmas, on the moral claim of personhood and quality of life versus the interests of the state, that were raised in the 1920s.
Szwarc ends with a warning that this devaluing of individual personal judgment regarding one's quality of life is
the inevitable outgrowth of what happens, as history has taught, when health becomes public. When health is a measure of good citizenship. This is the foreseeable results when government foots the bill for healthcare: the state then assumes power to decide what happens to an individual’s body and to determine when a life is of insufficient quality or too costly to society to preserve.
I think that blaming government-run health systems is too limited a view. As we've seen in the US with insurance companies, the corporate board can be just as coldly utilitarian as any government bureaucracy, and will just as readily adopt bioethical reasoning in pursuit of limiting expenditures. The real caution is for us all, no matter what system is in place in our particular nations, to value human life so much that we refuse to allow the machinery of governments and corporations to treat any of us as no more than replacable cogs.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Words Hit Like a Fist bmp

I took the liberty of turning Active Gray Matter's pdf of Dave Hinsburger's Words Hit Like a Fist card into BMPs, for anyone who wants to embed them in their own blog. Sue at Active Gray Matter has also arranged to give away 10,000 of these cards to activists and advocates! So what are you waiting for? Go there now and ask for your cards!

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Via Andrea's Buzzing About:

Only words

Sunday, I listened to the neighborhood children playing, reminiscing about when I was so young and playing was serious work. In particular, I heard two boys talking.

"I never knew that! I am stupid!" He spit out that last word with venom.

I was shocked. How often had that child been called stupid that he so quickly offered it as an explanation?

His friend's voice was soothing. "You know it now."

"I am stoooooooopid!"

Now the friend was astonished. "You are stupid?"

"Oh, I am soooo stupid!"

"I am stupid all the time," the friend countered. "Stupid, stupid, stupid."

"Stupo"

"Stupiddy"

For five minutes, they went on changing the word in singsong voices, two sweet little boys who were spending their time playing peacefully and teaching each other. But you know what neither of them did, not even once? Call the other one "stupid". Instead, the slightly older boy went out of his way to make his friend feel better about his initial ignorance, and made himself his buddy's equal in all ways. Together, they reclaimed the word "stupid," taking away the sting until it was nothing, until the venom was gone and they could no longer even remember the judgment they were mocking.

It reminded me of another time, back when I was a teenager. At the local swimming pool, a little boy told me it was dangerous for him to go out of the shallow end since he was still learning to swim. I told him he was smart. His face broke out in an enormous grin and he rushed off. Five minutes later, he was tapping on my elbow with a burning question. "I'm smart?" "Yes, you are," I reassured him. He took a breath in excitedly, like he had just been given a new bicycle, and again rushed off.

I thought then, as I thought now, what are the adults in these children's lives teaching with their words? Why would a child be convinced he was stupid? Why would a child be surprised to be considered smart?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I need hints and encouragement

This coming week, Carapace and I are going to go where gimps and spazzes aren't supposed to go. Yes, we are going to the beach. The plan is to camp one night, and then spend the next night in a motel so we can go home without carrying sand in our intimate regions. The motel bit I'm not worried about, as long as the room is reachable without stairs. Nor am I worried about the camping bit. Car camping is completely within my capabilities and skill set, and it won't be like we'll be away from civilization.

No, what worries me is the actual beach. I so want to be there, feeling the salt water bounce me around. But I do worry. I can't exactly swim worth crap anymore, with my shoulders always ready to slip right out of place and the one leg's tendency to float in a direction different than the rest of me is going. I don't know...how does one keep a leg from floating sideways? And then there is Carapace and her seizures. They've been pretty much under control, and I do have shoreline life vests for us both. Those are supposed to flip an unconscious person face up. I haven't used one since I was a little kid, so I don't really remember how they worked in reality. I'm hoping that with the life vests, I won't tire as fast and Carapace will have a margin of safety. Oh, and they are orange, which will make it easier for Carapace to see me despite the world being a particularly sloppy impressionist painting when she takes off her glasses. Oh, and I got her some dark goggles, too, which I hope will be good enough for her photosensitivity to not be triggered. And sunburn-prone me will be covered ankle to wrist.

So, anything else I should do to make sure we have fun and that I won't spend our time fretting? What experiences have you all had? Tell me!