Saturday, December 29, 2012

Harbor Greens Corn Chips

There is, or now was, a good local market in Gig Harbor, Harbor Greens next door to Forza Coffee. They are more a small, speciality food-deli market than anything since QFC and Safeway is just a few blocks away.

The did have one really good thing, corn chips made locally and fresh, that is until about a month ago when they changed the recipe and snuck in cutting the size of the package from 15 oz to 14 oz for the same price.

I liked their chips because they were totally different tasting than any of the regional or national brands, where the oil and salt were part of the taste. Then about a month ago they switched from canola oil to high oleic safflower oil, and in the process killed the great taste.

I liked their chips because the diet I'm on these days only leaves cornmeal and corn chips as the only grain or grain-like food I can eat. I can't eat wheat or any of the whole list of other grains, and potatoes, especially my favorite food, potato chips, are off limits too.

Now their chips taste like any other brand of chips without any unique flavor you could distinguish from any national brands. In short they got worse and there is no reason now to go to the store except for the few other products they sell which aren't available elsewhere.

This is disappointing that in the quest for healthy foods, taste and flavor are the first victims. Sad times for really good food, you know where it leaves the taste on your fingers too.

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 In Review

We all review the year about now and look at the new year. Ok, nothing new or news there or here, but it was an interesting year in summary, the first half looking real good for seeing real change in my life and the second half watching it all unravel into pieces and nothingness.

Yeah, from great to terrible and next year doesn't look better outside of I'll be on an austerity program and budget for the next 2-3 years to climb out of debt for some other things I planned about now and won't happen.

So what happened? Well, the first six months were productive for the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide where I got more done in those six months than the previous two years with plans and hopes to get even more done by this time.

I was walking and getting ready to start hiking later in the spring into the summer. Or so I had planned.

Then everything went flat, literally when during the first week in July, like through the holiday, I was flat on my back in pain from a pinched Siatic nerve where I couldn't stand let alone sit or walk. I finally got to a local Multi-Care clinc to see a physican, get an MRI and a diagnosis of a pinched Siatic nerve, L4 and L5 vertebra.

What happened is that my right leg was either in severe pain or almost totally numb, and my left leg, which went numb last year for 6 weeks, was weak. The left leg got better until Thanksgiving when it got worse where I have problems walking giving me severe shin splints.

The right leg slowly got better where my September only the front of the leg from above the knee to the ankle is numb. Not totally numb to touch but numb to pain and any muscle control. I have managed to get back to walking, although running is out for awhile.

I'm up to 5-6 miles 3-5 days a week depending on my schedule but it always leaves me physically tired the rest of the day. There's no real hope things will get better except maybe slowly over time as the vertebra and the Siatic nerve heals to restore feeling and use in both legs.

I think back to January into the spring where I was walking 6+ miles with 20-25 lbs of groceries with moderate changes in elevation on the route between my home and town. I even looked to adding 2-3 miles until work kept it at 5-6 miles.

Then in September I got a bladder infection which took 3 weeks to get through and over. Gee, thanks for something in unwashed food, the lesson I learned, always wash food, always, completely before eating. Never had it but won't have it again.

That said, both of these just decimated my mind and left my Dysthymia falling into depression. Add to that the realization about a life change which was taking longer than planned reached the end when we finally discovered my digestive problems were exacerbated by the drugs.

Yes, the drugs for one thing was creating worse problems in other areas and my body and mind were revolting. I learned it in the spring but kept trying until October when the last test proved the worst, there is no more to be done with drugs.

I also realized trying to get my personal business up and running over the last two years has exhausted my savings, and then from July with the medical bills I started losing my emergency savings account where I'm at the bottom financially.

By Christmas I was exhausted physically, mentally and financially, and why the new year doesn't look good beyond just trying to get and feel better and crawl out of debt. But it's better than being worse, so I'm not complaining, just bitching at the circumstances, partly my own undoing.

So next year is a tossup for now, and I'll blog here as it progresses.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day

Just thinking back on Christmas Day. Yeah, all of my immediate family but my sister are gone, only cousins and nieces and nephews long distant in time and place left. I still haven't located Linda who retired from the hospital in Eugene, Oregon.

One thing I do remember when I go out this day somewhere is that after I left the military I worked at a full service (pumps and bays) gas station just off Interstate 70 at Watt Ave in Sacramento. The station was on the southwest corner of the intersection on the north side of the interstate on/off ramps.

Both Linda and I worked there, she started before me since I hadn't left the military yet and I stayed longer as she got a job with one of the companies who contracted the service of the fleet vehicles at the station. We worked different shifts or at gas stations (he owned several).

But one thing was expected, everyone worked Christmas and New Years Days. He scheduled everyone to work 2-4 hours so no one got the day off and everyone shared the work that day. He also stopped by all the gas stations during the day to thank everyone.

We didn't get gifts or bonuses. He paid the minimum wage with no benefits. Owning and operating gas stations was a competitive business, so there wasn't much margin. He wasn't rich himself and worked hard with all his gas stations, all Union 76 brand.

But it didn't bother us who worked there. Most of my nearly two years was graveyard (midnight to 8 am) shift at the 24-hour station and later swing (4 pm to midnight) shift at the one or another station, usually closing that one for the night.

The shift work was because I was full time at a local community college on the GI Bill. The owner helped people in small ways to ensure they could work toward their goals in life and the owner accommodated me for that, although Linda worked the day shift which didn't help our marriage, but that's another story.

Anyway, I just thought of this day back in 1973. Strange what Christmas memories linger in your mind. Many long forgotten but a few always remembered.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Naps & Sleeping

I sleep in my bed, or occasionally a sleeping bag, but I always take naps on the futon couch. I can't sleep on the couch longer than a nap and I can't fall asleep for a nap on my bed. Don't know why, it just seems to be for me, beds are for sleeping and couches are for naps.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I wrote about having gone through, and occasionally still having, electrolysis to remove my facial hair, see my post 307 hours later (now 313 hours through 2012). Well, I go once a month now and likely will for a few more months before going just every 2-3 or more months next year to be done.

Reading about people, men, women, transwomen, etal who are contemplating it or are going through it, here are a few tips I've learned from my time and experience.

First music. I used to bring CD's, now I bring my iPhones and play the music I want the electrologist allows for the session. She has a music player for this purpose and I can share my eclectic collection of music and not let the pain fill the silence.

Second, a squeeze ball. I use the zen of electrolysis by mentally transferring the pain from the needle and treatment to my hand with the squeeze ball which I squeeze as hard as I can during the treatment for each hair.

Suffice it to say some areas of the face are especially sensitive, like just under the nose. It causes you to want to scratch it or sneeze. My electrologist treats that area carefully, giving me time to react if I want to do either scratch or sneeze.

Third tears. I don't say anything during session except conversation, but I let the tears flow from the corners of my eyes. When she asked why I don't say anything I told her:

If tears had voices, you would hear them a block away.

I express the pain through those ways and allows her to work with very few breaks for my reaction.

Anyway, just some thoughts. To everyone going through it, good luck. To everyone planning to go through it, even more good luck. You'll need it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

There is Music and...

There is music and there is Carlos Santana. I have a number is his albums from his first, all bought when they were original vinyl and I've seen him in concert in the early 1970's. It's hard to know which of  them is the best, but it's clear from his first, they all get better than the previous ones. This one, Milagro, is always a favorite.

He just keeps getting better, his music, his musicianship and himself as someone who has spoken out for human rights and worked for organizations fighting for human rights and better conditions in the world.

Thank you Carlos for your lifetime of music and achievements, and my memories.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Five Months Later

I've written about my pinched Siatic nerve which gave me problems in June with my right leg, similar to the problems with my left leg in June 2011 which left it partially numb for 6-8 weeks before fading away, and the sudden pain in early July which left me flat on my back for 4 days unable to stand, sit or walk.

And I've written where the bulk of the pain faded leaving the front half of my right leg almost completely numb from just above the knee to the ankle with just enough feeling when you touch the skin but no reflect response or pain when hit or poked.

I started walking in early September, starting with 2.5-3 miles and working up to 5-6 miles, the distance I was walking last winter (to town and back, 2.5-3 miles one way depending on the route). I've been walking 3-4 days a week, taking a week off sometimes due to illness (flu/cold) or business and life.

So where am I at now five months later? Well, walking about 6 miles is good, I'm up to a 15-16 minute pace the whole time except for hills and the continual problems of shin splints which I haven't resolved trying a variety of shoes and KT tape.

The KT tape has helped relieve some of the shin splints but it's dependent on the shoes and air temperature, no pain when it's warm but the pain returns in the first mile or so as the air temperature drops, especially below 50 degrees.

I have more shoes to try, another old pair I tried before which helped some and a new pair on order similar to the pair that works the best. Shin splints have long been a problem since I started running 35 years ago and while disappearing for months, it always came back for months to years.

I'm fine with it when walking normally where I'm not pushing for time or walking more than a mile at a slow to moderate pace with stops, like shopping, but it always seems to come back if I walk faster or longer distance without stopping.

The problem is that I underpronate with my left foot, less so with my right so there is no problem with shin splints, just the left leg. But with the pinched Siatic nerve in my right leg now, I'm not close to what I was walking last winter.

And this is where I'd like to be this winter, walking easily at a moderate to faster pace (15 minute miles) for 6-8 miles. That was the goal last winter which I didn't reach for other reasons, even though I had routes already mapped out to town and back.

Also I was carrying 15-25 pounds of groceries or other purchases then which I can only carry up to about 10 pounds now. In short, I have a long way to go, really in both senses of the idea of time and distance.

I have no idea if or when the numbness in the right leg will fade away. The specialist just said it takes months into years to let the bulging disc heal and until then moderate stress on it but still exercise to keep from losing too much fitness.

Gee, thanks for the prescription, we've can't solve it and you can only keep it from getting worse.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


I'd love to know why I still get pimples at 63 and have to wash my face at least daily because it gets too oily?

Cooking Not to Eat

Besides buying foods to think about them, I also buy food and cook meals to sample during the process and then don't eat more a few bites once it's ready to eat. I buy food to cook it and really not eat it. Yes, dumb and wasteful. Totally, on my part. But it's not about the food or the efficiency of money or food.

It's about the idea and thought of the food itself, to keep me connected to something I know almost everyone else has the power to eat whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. The freedom to eat.

I don't have that freedom, even the luxury. Part is the digestive issues and part is that it's hard to buy some foods small enoough for one person to prepare, so I end up buying the smallest package and trying to divide the ingredients down to one person.

You can buy one of something in the meat department. They'll always accommodate you to split a package, even split a piece of meat, poultry or fish to the size you want but you can't split frozen meat, poultry or fish products.

You can buy enough fresh vegetables for yourself, but not packaged ones. The same for fresh fruit and frozen fruit. The same for bakery goods. And so on down the list where I have to buy fresh or what's available in the smallest packaged size to fit my needs.

But in the end, I often just cook food just to cook it and really not eat more than a few bites to satisfy the reward of cooking it. I'm not a good cook. I don't spend more than necessary preparing or cooking foods.

And that is mostly just a few minutes and into the oven at 350 for an hour (hint, that cooks almost everything except fish which is shorter) or put the lid and simmer, and then come back when the timer goes off. I don't use the oven too much anymore after buying a Breville Smart Oven, a way cool thing.

You just put it in, set the type, temperature and time and wait for the ding. I also have an extensive set of older style Calaphon cookware I bought 15+ years ago which is also way cool as it makes a bad cook like me better. It's really great stuff.

All that I was bought when I could cook and eat food, and now it's not often used except when it's ordinary stuff I can eat or the occasional time I buy food to cook but not eat more than a sample. But then I cook with some really good cookware and utensils.

After all, if you're going to cook, make sure you do your best. How much you eat isn't as important as the quality of your cooking. No one wants to cook to hate to eat what they cook. Even if only a few bites.