Saturday, June 29, 2013


One thing I've learned on my walks, now 8+ miles to and from the commercial area just off highway 16 in Gig Harbor. I know where every blackberry bush is along the way and I've often cut the branches which grow into the walkway along the road or the bike/walk lane on the shoulder.

Sadly, however, blackberries are on the on-eat food list of FODMAPS, but there are some black raspberry bushes along the way too which I can eat and love in small quantities. They grow in small patches anyway, so there's not a lot of them along the route.

Anyway, it's one of the joys of the walks, watching the fruit grow and when I can carry a containter to harvest them along the walks to have later in the day. Nothing beats freshly picked ripe fruit with cream or whipped cream.

If you're interested, it's easy to tell the difference from the leaves and vines, but especially if you pick them. Black raspberries are smaller and pick like raspberries, leaving an empy inside the fruit, where blackberries are larger and have a core inside the fruit. And they taste different.

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Father's Word

When I was 19 after my first year of univeristy at the College of Engineering at the University of Denver, both the college and university he picked and made me pay a third of the tuition and all my books which was why I worked fulltime while going to college, the College informed me I was on academic suspension for low grades.

Like that was new or news because I didn't like some course and wasn't good at others, my dad read the letter, handed it back to me and said, "Son, I want you to have a life, just don't have it here." He gave me three months to move out and be gone from the family.

I didn't know at the time, it was history repeated as it was what his dad did and said to him when he was 20. It was 1940, and it doesn't take much to realize what his choices were. He enlisted and spent the next 23 years in the Army and Air Force.

For me it was 1968 and it doesn't take a genius to realize what my choices were when the Army sent me my letter to take a physical and then a letter informing me I as 1-A and would be drafted. I enlisted in the Air Force but left 4 years later.

My dad and I rarely spoke after that, about once or twice a year and rarely met, only every few years for family gatherings and reunions. Later in life he told me I was planned for in their (Mom and Dad) life since they had the two children they wanted.

He told me they chose to simply let me grow up by myself with little attention from them. In all the years I knew him and we spoke he never said, "I love you.", even the year before he died when he stayed overnight at my place with uncle Jim.

All he said was thanks for the stay. I don't know to this day why I went to his funeral because it didn't do anything or provide any closure but only kept a deep wound open which has never healed. He fought his own demons until he couldn't and then died.

Sorry if I don't say, "Happy Father's Day Dad", because I won't get an response.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Try Eating Out

Since I've discovered the limits of foods I can eat which my digestive system will tolerate, and while I still have one or two food experiments a week, mostly small portions of new foods or old foods which didn't work, I've found it's hard eating anything in cafes, etc.

The reason is that the first food which is eliminated is wheat and other grains, anything except cornmeal. I've had people in cafes push non-wheat foods but it's gets to the next group I can't eat, anything with nuts or seeds. Those foods and other rough foods causes the small intestine to bleed.

And that is followed by the can't eat almost any vegetable, starting with anything green or leafy, and add from there, and almost all fruits, especially ones I love, like apples, peaches, pears, apricots, etc., and recently I learned oranges are now on that list.

To that add starches, like potatoes with my favorite food potato chips, along with the whole variety of uncommon fruits or vegetables, eg. dates, grapes, etc., you can see the picture of what I can't eat which is almost everything cafes, etc. serve.

Then there is no eggs except those in baked into dishes, no dairy except lactose-free non-fat milk and some hard cheeses. Add almost all spices and you can complete the picture. It leaves a list of acceptable foods I can write on a post-it note and even those are often brand specific as I learned from other brands.

It sucks. I love the food these places have and know there isn't anything can't eat that won't remind me later, sometimes a few hours and sometimes over a few days. Yeah, really fucking sucks. For now I carry my food with me I can eat and then don't eat anything to have only coffee drinks.

In the end, it's what I live with like it or not. The lesson is enjoy all the foods you can when you're young enough to do so when and where they won't hurt you later. Feast to your heart's delight. Savory every flavor. And remember it all, before you can't eat it again.

The Tradeoff

I've written about my Sciatic nerve problem ad naseum and my walking to help it and get better along with getting fitter again, having been a regular jogger and hiker. In the last two months I've increased the walking from the distance I walked for 3 months of 5.5-6.5 miles to 7.5-8.5 miles.

And while the increase has helped the exercise, especially getting the legs stronger and fitter, as well as slowly losing the fat I've gained over the last few years of health issues and not exercising regularly let alone frequently, it's come with a tradeoff.

The tradeoff is that at the shorter distance I was getting a good exercise but I had reached the maximum gain except as an aerobic exercise where I could walk faster to a point the body stopped improving. I was also feeling generally good physically, but I didn't see any improvement in the lower back and Sciatic nerve.

I had planned to add other exercises, like weight training along with some stretching I do now, but those impact and sometimes hurt the lower back as I've learned from some stretching lifting, situps, etc or stair climbing. The added distance helps that and improves the lower back.

The tradeoff is that while the longer distance are better physically it's come at a price of feeling physically tired, often sore, and always mentally tired, usually the rest of the day. It seems I have a quota of combined physical and mental energy and the longer distances drains the quota where there's little left for anything else.

In short, it's been hard work just to work on anything related to the Mt. Rainier photo guide where I'm long behind on projects and the regular monthly stuff is late again. Reading is a chore and chores just aren't being done outside of the minimum like the laundry, cleaning, etc.

The idea is that like the increase from 3-4 miles to 5.5-6.5 miles which took a month or so for my body to get used to it and feel better physically and mentally,  I was hoping the new increase would do the same, but two months later, it hasn't, yet anyway.

The other part is that I'm losing the fat I've gained, but almost everywhere on the body except my abdomen, aka stomach. That fat hugs me like it really loves me and doesn't want to leave. It is slowly reducing but not very fast where the fat elsewhere is reducing visibly and rather fast too.

That's the story for now. Life is a tradeoff, and we all make decisions accordingly.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Not So Bad

I thought having a pinched Sciatic nerve was bad, but recently I met someone who quickly and easily made me feel my situation wasn't so bad after all. The Sciatic nerve is between the L4 and L5 vertebra in the lower back, which is why a lot of people have problems after 40, it's two of the lowest vertebra which takes a lot of compression and pounding.

The person I met told me thge story he recently had back surgery which essentially rebuilt the L3, L4 and L5 vertebra. They weren't fused or locked as often done with surgery to relieve the pressure and pain of the compression and pinched nerves, but the pieces of the vertebra removed, remixed into a compound and put back in to fuse with the old bone.

The goal is to build new vertebra which doesn't pinch the nerves and won't compress over time. The person said it was the last resort before having the three vertebra fused or locked to relieve the pain. If it doesn't work, then there's nothing left for them except another surgery.

And his specialist told him the same advice mine told me, get out and walk. Get the body moving and the back muscles exercising to build the strength in the lower back. He said that's a dream for a long time as they can barely and very slowly walk more than a few hundred feet with a cane.

So, being able to walk with only occasional mild pain and sore or tired muscles and an occasional sore lower back, I don't feel so bad. I can walk 8 miles now, albeit with some mild problems most days, but still walking is walking.

I just can't convince my feet it's good for them too, but then they remember the 8-12 mile day hikes I did in Mt. Rainier NP years ago, some with 3-4,000 feel elevation gain (and loss coming back) with 25-40 lb backpack.

That's my goal again sometime later this fall, to do a 6-8 mile hike with some elevation gain to return to hiking over the next year-plus. They said it would take 1-2 years minimum. It's been less than a year now, so time is there and I am getting better, albeit I can't carry or lift very much without pain or soreness.

But it beats the alternates I learned recently.