Monday, March 5, 2012

Winter's downhill slide

Thinking on my feet and not my butt
Even as I’m posting this, I’m prepping for a colonoscopy tomorrow. I have a new primary doc and he’s requested it, saying it’s routine for anyone over 50 these days. For those who’ve not yet encountered this bizarre medical practice where total strangers take a scenic tour of your colon, prepping is regarded by initiates as more troublesome than the actual scoping. (Apparently there are some really good drugs for the actual procedure itself.) In the meantime, however, prepping means nothing passes your lips but clear liquids for 36 hours prior to the colonoscopy. (Jello® is okay as long as it’s not red.) On the day of the event, you eat, nor drink, a single thing. Oh, I forgot the part about…Oops. Excuse me; I’ll be right back…Anyway, there’s this stuff you drink, four liters of it (That’s over a gallon in English) that acts a lot like Liquid Plumr® does in your tub. You drink eight ounces of this stuff every fifteen minutes until the entire four liters is gone or, if you are fortunate, until only clear, pristine solution exits your anus.

This event caps what I view as a long, not terrifically fun winter. Twenty inches of snow in December. In January, I did a 90 degree back flip in the parking lot at school, whereupon proving little old ladies can fly (but have trouble with the landings). Sitting was problematic so the school (it was way cheaper than a lawsuit) and I both purchased some equipment that allows me to work at the computer while standing. My butt’s getting better, but my feet are killing me.

More worrisome this winter has been lots of brain farts, senior moments and an interesting memory lapse called anomia where I can’t remember nouns (tough for someone who earns a living as a writer.) While I’ve generally been good about adhering to the usual cliché, if it’s good for the heart, it’s good for the brain,” (physical exercise, eating right,) I’ve come to feel there's a need to focus on specific things that exercise the gray matter itself. I started by doing crossword puzzles. Got a dash; hang on….While I think it’s bolstered my vocabulary, it seems somewhat lacking in practical application. Words like kea (a big green parrot) or lamia (a female vampire) aren’t necessarily ones I work into copy selling the merits of getting an associate’s degree at our little community college.

My friend Jamie enjoys brain training on the web site Lumosity So I signed up for a trial run. My scores have improved, but I’m not sure if I’m just getting better at the exercises (helpful tips to improve scores are offered by other participants) or if my brain is actually developing new synapses. One game though, albeit frustrating, seems useful. It’s called Eagle Eye, a bird watching game that’s useful for working on perception and peripheral vision. Since I have glaucoma in my left eye, I think it’s helping me compensate by forcing the other eye to take some of the visual load.

What's wrong with this picture?
But my favorite brain training was taking a class at college. I get free tuition so money wasn't a consideration. Anyway it was an experimental class in literary and media criticism focusing on the controversial animated cartoon, South Park. The professor’s aim was to give our college students a taste of what they could expect when they got to university. For those of you not acquainted with South Park, it is an outrageously potty-mouthed compendium of poop and fart jokes that skewer personalities and issues at both ends of the American political spectrum. The class was composed of me and seven teenage girls. I remarked the first night that I thought the students in the class would be all adolescent boys. One of the young women turned to me and said, “So did we!” Best thing about taking a class is you get brain stimulation plus you are interacting with real, as opposed to virtual, people. 
Hey, back in a minute…

Fun E-Things: Have you looked at the new social media site called Pinterest ( – no www) It is great fun – a cyber bulletin board where people (mostly women) post (or “pin” up illustrations/photos of intriguing things they’ve found in the vast cyber world of the Internet. Click on an illustration you find interesting or curious to learn more about and it will take you back to the link of the original blog or website. You can just meander through the postings or enter a key word in the search bar to find something specific. Postings cover the universe with lots of DIY projects, home décor, incredibly beautiful hair styles (gorgeous, but mostly for long-tresses), recipes, knitted goods and every imaginable kind of crafts. My words simply can’t do it justice. Try it; I think you’ll be delighted. Hey, another brain stimulator!

Recipes: I’m thinking a fun challenge I’d like to take on is a cookbook that features recipes that have only 1, 2, 3 or 4 ingredients (salt & pepper don’t count). A one-ingredient recipe, you scoff. Well, I’ve sent some of you my pear recipe (wash an unripe pear, peel or not as you choose, slice off the bottom and set it in a bowl. Microwave until  juicy and tender (2-4 minutes). Let it cool a bit before eating. You can peel or not. A sweet winter treat.

Not convinced? How about mushrooms? Clean 'em, cut off hard part of the stems and slice. Place in a skillet (non-stick works best, but any will do). Turn heat to medium high and cook until you’ve reached the stage you want, juicy, just past juicy or all the way to golden brown and crispy. Eat as a side dish or put in gravies, sauces or soups. A great way to enjoy lots of them while reducing fat intake. 

Back in flash

High on the hog!
At the other recipe extreme: Pictured here is the entrée of the meal served to Bob and me for our Leap Day anniversary. You can’t get the full impact from this photo; it was a fabulous crown rib pork roast weighing eleven pounds, stuffed with a homemade cranberry sauce, apple, pear, red onion, rosemary, fennel dressing. The chef was Jan Kennedy with hubby Larry assisting with the heavy lifting! It’s the kind of meal where you feel like you can't invite them back to dinner at your house because you’ll never be able to serve anything as good as that!

Now, I need some information from you. My sis-in-law, Gloria, has just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Anyone have any personal knowledge or tips on coping that they would share? Send an email or post a comment. You’ll be doing a great someone a great favor.

Gotta’ run!!

Hope you and yours are well and happy.

Love to all,
Aunt Rose