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I’m walking for Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). Will you sponsor me?

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PKD? What’s that you say? I’ve written about it here before, extensively. I encourage you to take a look at this posting, it will answer a lot of questions. 

This year, I’ll be taking part in the annual PKD walk to fund treatment and find a cure for this genetic, hereditary disease. Walks will take place all over the country and I’ve signed up for the Los Angeles walk in Santa Monica on PKD walk day – Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015.

Here’s my shameless plea letter to donate:

Polycystic kidney disease — one of the most common, life-threatening genetic diseases — strikes both adults and children. It often leads to the need for dialysis and a kidney transplant. It affects thousands in America and millions worldwide, who are in urgent need of treatments and a cure.

The Walk for PKD is the PKD Foundation’s largest annual fundraising event. Funds raised from Walks across the country make up one third of our annual budget.

The more money our walkers raise, the more we can do in the fight to end PKD!

You can help by joining the Walk as a participant, volunteer or donor.

Together, we can walk boldly toward a future where no one suffers the full effects of PKD.

This cause is important to me because I too suffer from PKD. It’s a hereditary genetic disease and there is currently no known cure. My father passed away from the disease at the age of 46. His father passed away from PKD at the age of 50. In addition to myself, both my siblings have PKD as do some of my nieces and nephews. My sister underwent a successful transplant eight years ago.

Please help me reach my goal of raising $250, which will fund treatment for sufferers and research to find a cure for PKD. PKD is not a high-profile disease because you can’t see it. We walk among you and are told we look “fine” But make no mistake, PKD sufferers can and do die waiting on transplants. Their lives are severely compromised once on dialysis. We’re not just looking to raise funds, we’re looking to raise awareness for this disease.

If you’d like to donate, please head to my fundraising page on the PKD Foundation website here and give what you can? Thank you.

How I learned to stop fearing fruit and eat pie

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The pie test – not to be confused with Pi (but I do like the pie with Pi)** RCB ** / Foter / CC BY

Ever felt you had an entrenched habit that couldn’t be broken? I recommend the pie test:

I hate cooked fruit. There. I said it. Fruit compote (aka fruit compost), fruit soup, and pies. Especially apple pies. And peach and pear and any other fruit you put in a pie. Fruit is meant to be eaten fresh, no? And I don’t have to be as “American as Apple Pie” because, well, I’m not American. Anyway, for as long as I can remember, I’ve hated pie. Especially apple pie.

Except for berries. I don’t know why. What makes you think logic plays any part in this? I don’t mind berries in a pie. I love a raspberry, strawberry, blueberry or blackberry pie as much as the next pie lover. Just don’t put apples, or peaches or pears or ANY OTHER FRUIT in it. So, you get the picture, yes?

Well, the other day the bf asked me to bake an apple pie. No way, I said because a) have I mentioned I hate pie? Especially apple? and b) I’ve never cooked one. But later that day, I thought, oh, why not? Again, don’t ask me why I thought this. Please leave all logic at the door, here. It will make things easier for everyone. Thank you.

So, as I was saying, I decided to bake an apple pie. Well, an apple tart, really. (Too lazy to make a crust on top). And I didn’t make mooshy shmooshy apple pie (if those aren’t real words, they should be). I baked the tart just long enough to cook the apples but to the point where they weren’t soggy.  And the bf LOVED it. Forced me to try it. And, I actually kind of liked it. I was amazed that I had baked an apple pie (tart) without tasting it and it was pretty darn good. I had a piece! Whoa.. It did NOT taste like gelatinous goop, or baby food or mushy fruit compote.

And then a friend came over and tasted it and said it was DELICIOUS. Clearly I must stop tasting my food while cooking. That must be the secret. Unfortunately, that pie was demolished so quickly I never took a photo of it.

And then the bf challenged me to make a berry pie WITH apples. So that’s what I did (not on the same day, of course not!). I’m not crazy (much).  And it was delicious too. Two independent tasters offered this verdict. And THIS time we took a picture.

So here I am, 1950s housewife at your service. Did I mention I also made custard to go with it?

The berry pie (tart?)
The berry pie (tart?)

You may think that all I do is make sweets. But that’s not true. I cook other things too (only vegetarian, though). Here’s a pic of the homemade pizzas from the other night (yes, that’s veggie pepperoni you see).

Homemade veggie pizza
Homemade veggie pizza

So, I’ve discovered I can eat pies made with fruit as long as they’re not mushy. Who knew?

What long entrenched beliefs of yours have been shattered lately?

 

Me, Margaritas and burning feet

Fake margaritas
I love Margaritas. Alas, they don\’t love me.WordRidden / Foter / CC BY

I have a confession to make. Nay, make that two confessions:

1. I love Margaritas

2. I am the world’s cheapest drunk.

I have no idea what got in to me today, but we decided this afternoon to go out for a drink. No, that’s not true. We decided to go out for something to eat. It was a rough day all round and we felt like we could use some time relaxing – or as the bf called it – “a bit of a holiday.”

Maybe it was the heat (it’s been brutally hot here in Los Angeles), but for reasons that I’m not sure of, I decided I would order a Margarita with my meal. Now this “meal” was a lunch/dinner hybrid, having had breakfast at 8 a.m. and it was now close to 5 p.m. So order a Margarita I did! Did I mention it was Happy Hour too? So that meant a cheap Margarita.

Despite warnings that I would:

a) take two sips and be silly/giggly/happy and

b) then feel hungover, get home and

c) crash into a stupefied coma…

I refused to listen. We all know that you don’t feel the effects of a Margarita until after the worm has turned. So I had my Margarita with my lunch/dinner and then promptly did exactly as listed above with the addition of:

Somewhere between the end of lunch/dinner and driving home (no, I wasn’t the one driving)… my feet started BURNING and TINGLING. We looked that up when we got home to discover that apparently this could be caused by an allergy to alcohol. I’m allergic to alcohol? Sheesh…

Anyway, I decided to have a “bit of  a lie down” at 6:15 p.m. and didn’t wake till 7:35 p.m. (and that was only because the dog woke me up).

So there it is: I’ve never been able to really hold my liquor at the best of times. I rarely drink it because of the above problems and NOW I discover that I may even be allergic to it (or maybe just Margaritas?).  Did I mention it was an excellent Margarita? And that I only drank about half of it? Hopefully worth the hangover and burning feet, and passing out and the woolly head.

Anyone else unable to hold their alcohol? Anyone else get burning feet? I’m in search of a new vice right now, too. Too much chocolate gives me severe headaches (probably allergic to that too). Sigh.

want to be a better drinker but apparently that’s not in the cards for me. So what is?

Caution: Swearing Ahead

In my  literary brain the title of this post would be something touching, poignant, reflective. But nope, in the real world, that’s not going to happen, because I really just want to say: WTF?

Hands up if you have SKYPE? And hands up if you think that when that blue circle posts a red number above it it means someone  tried to call you? Given that my whole family lives in Israel and that the Jewish sabbath (Shabbat) begins tonight, I figured maybe one of my family members Skyped me to wish me Shabbat Shalom or to rub in the fact that outside of Israel Passover is 8 days (as opposed to 7 there), I clicked on the Skype button wondering how I’d not heard the Skype phone ring.

But it wasn’t a call at all. It was a birthday reminder notification (I forgot that Skype does that). This is what popped up on my Skype screen:

skyper

FUCK!! That was my first response. Followed by FUCK, FUCK, FUCK! And then I looked at the little green squiggly circle on the left that told me that Randall Taylor was “offline.” Of course he’s fucking offline! Because he’s dead! Died by his own hand (with a handgun to the head to be precise) – exactly 6 months, one week and one day ago (but who is counting, right?).

And I’m sitting here thinking, how the fuck does his Skype account still exist? Did his family not switch it off? Are they unaware he had one? And even if they were aware, wouldn’t you need a password to know how to delete the damn account?

Now, it’s not like Randall and I ever really Skyped. He was my best friend, and my next door neighbour, so no need to Skype, right? He set it up years ago for when I was overseas and he was taking care of my dog – so we could chat and discuss important things like: How did Bronte enjoy her walk? How much cottage cheese did you include in her food today? You know, important stuff.

This is why I never even thought to delete his Skype profile from my list because it was so rarely used. But today (and it’s not like I forgot today would have been his birthday), I was completely winded when this reminder popped up. It was like being kicked in the solar plexus. The Internet age is bad enough in life – but it’s terrifying the web it weaves even in death. The body is gone, the soul – who knows where? – but you’re online life is there: taunting, teasing, those left behind. There’s a brief moment where you think “I can click on that ‘send a gift’ button, and somehow the present will magically wend its way to wherever they now reside in cyberspace, and hey, I might even get an automatically generated ‘thank you’ note in return.”

The memories in my heart, in my soul, and the reminders around my home – even the space between my grief – still cradle Randall. He’s everywhere and he’s nowhere. He’s in the lump in my throat, the pain that sometimes threaten to stop my heart and he bloody well sits  on my therapist’s bookcase every time I walk into his office. And these things make me cry and yearn and ache.

But this? This assault from cyberspace? From Skype? All it does is make me livid and inarticulate and broken and beaten down. As if every tiny step I’ve taken over the last six months to heal, to move on, to figure out a life without my best friend and neighbour, is some big, cosmic, joke.

And all that I can think, all that I can say is FUCK! Because there are no other words. No other thoughts.

And no, it does not escape me that I’m writing this post on the Internet.

But I’m still going to say it.

Fuck the Internet.

That is all.

Of holidays, hot springs and cold shoulders

They say a change is as good as a rest… or something like that. Well, I decided that a rest would be a good change. It was definitely time for a road trip  – even if it was just an overnight one, so we headed off to the hot springs in Palm Desert/Palm Springs. The reason for this was threefold:

1. We needed a holiday!

2. Excellent for cobweb clearing the mind and rebooting my editing stint (it worked, I’m feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle scenes that I’ve been avoiding – and I even wrote an entire new chapter because I realised the book needed it).

3. We went to  the hot springs because I have a FROZEN SHOULDER. It’s been going on two months now and despite physical therapy and drugs (not necessarily in that order), does not appear to be getting any better. Last week I headed off to an orthopedist who recommended a cortisone shot right in the shoulder. Hands up if you’ve had one of those? NOT fun. Almost passed out. The shot worked for about 3 hours and then – nada. I’m back to the ortho in a week so who knows what he will recommend next? I’m thinking amputation at the neck.

Anyway, the hot springs, we thought, might help the shoulder. I can safely vouch that it didn’t hurt it. Not sure if it helped. But it was lovely to get away and see some sunshine (er and then a whole lot of rain), lots of wind, and soak in hot springs. Our room overlooked one of the eight “miracle healing” pools and we could just pop  out of our little patio straight into the pool. Here’s our room with a view.

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It was also great to wander around town in the sunshine and have brunch in this sweet little garden area where the tea is served in an elephant teapot! (okay, so I brought my own tea bag (PG Tips) and they provided the hot water) but it was still lovely.

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And if it were not for Palm Springs how could I have ever known that Sancho Panza retired here?

 

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And then the sun disappeared, the heavens opened up and it poured with rain… But then there was a rainbow. Look closely and you’ll see it. (sorry about the car blocking the pic).

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Back in the real world again, writing again and shoulder is actually feeling a bit better this morning. No shooting pain up and down my arm, but still not able to wash my hair by myself yet. One day at a time. Back to the keyboard.

 

Feeling Vindicated

I was so excited to read in the Los Angeles Times (you can read the full article here) the other day that one of my favourite things is back in fashion! What is it you ask? It’s (drumroll please)…. butter!

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Yep. Butter. I (think) I eat well. I’ve been a vegetarian forever. I try to eat enough leafy green vegetables and good sources of (non animal) protein. I don’t use sugar and I don’t use salt (due to a kidney condition), so my butter is naturally unsalted. 

No matter how many years have gone by, I’ve refused to give up butter. I like it on my toast. I cannot stand margarine or any derivatives that pretend to emulate butter and those things are full of synthetic products anyway. So I’ve always put butter on my toast (or crumpets or muffins) in the morning and while I usually cook with olive oil, sometimes I use butter for certain things, especially if I’m making mushrooms on toast with HP Sauce. it’s a British thing. Delicious. Try it. 

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So imagine my delight when the LA Times had the following headline and subhead on its front page (it was a slow news day obviously). 

Trans fats backlash pushes U.S. butter consumption to a 40-year-high

Butter’s growing popularity — consumption has risen 25% in the last decade — coincides with more understanding about the health hazards of its processed counterparts.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I could have told you this YEARS ago. 

Other gems in the article include: 

Trans fats are vegetable oils that have been blended with hydrogen to boost shelf life and reproduce the qualities of butter or lard. But research shows the ingredient raises levels of LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol. Trans fats consumption impairs levels of the better HDL cholesterol, which helps prevent heart disease.

Yes, the article goes on to say that butter is still a saturated fat and it’s still not a “health food.” But as A. A. Milne would rightly state is his delicious poem The King’s Breakfast: All I want is a bit of butter on my bread!

That’s all I usually use it for anyway. And it’s much better than margarine. So yay! Butter is back in fashion. Luckily I’m not a trend following person and have kept butter as a part of my life and have yet to fall down a “foodie” rabbit hole. Food trends – like all trends – come and go. But butter will stay. Which reminds me of that great British butter commercial  I loved as a kid in the late 1970s. It went something like this: 

What’s the natural food you spread on bread and scones and toast?

B-U-Double T-E-R

What’s the natural food that makes your veggies taste the most?
B-U-Double T-E-R

And when it comes to cooking

The other stuff doesn’t get a look in

Because of 

B-U-Double T-E-R

And that spells butter

B-U-Double T-E-R

A natural food!

Anyone else remember that commercial? 

 

 

Help! I’m in NaNoWriMo hell!

This is just a quickety-quick update. Well, I’ve been TRYING to complete my NaNoWriMo novel. I have just hit the 25,000 mark (25,091 to be exact – but who is counting – ha!). That’s the good news. The bad news is that I have: 2 days 9 hours, 31 minutes and 23 , 22, 21, 20.. seconds to complete my novel. That means that I need to write um… A LOT – to complete the novel.

Now I know I’m good at deadlines, but this is RIDICULOUS. So how did I manage to get myself into such a bind? November ran away with me. I did go to San Francisco and do the Night of Writing Dangerously which was fun, but basically November was a nutty month – yeah yeah heard it all before.

So, um, I did have some SERIOUS stuff to deal with -you know just the average “someone came to stay at my house after her boyfriend kicked her out and she had pneumonia. Supposed to stay two days but that turned into 2 weeks and culminated with a trip to the emergency room because she threatened suicide. This led to a 72 hour lock down  a la Britney Spears, a discovery that she was a rampant alcoholic going through withdrawal and a whole lot of extra craziness thrown in. This took up a LOT of my time and I’m still dealing with the aftermath. And no this is NOT the plot of my novel – although maybe it should have been?

And then, I had a great story idea that was brilliant in my head and then on paper sucked sucked sucked so I gave up and started a whole NEW story last week – hence the crazy deadline. To wit, I did NOT start NaNoWriMo until November 9 and here is my word count so far:

Nov 9 – 837

Nov 10 – 944

Nov 16 – 3303

Nov 22 – 1567

Nov 23 – 283

Nov 24 – 4051

Nov 26 – 1817

Nov 28 – 2232

Nov 29 – 4721

Nov 30 (today) – so far – 5,338  – and it’s 2:35 p.m.

So writing here is my “break” can you believe it? Right! Write! I’m back to writing.. Wish me luck. I may not sleep tonight in order to complete this by midnight tomorrow. Oy. To all other NaNoWriMo’s thanks for the great forum where others are going mental attempting to finish. Insanity rules. Luckily I think I have enough plot points to keep going – and if not, I’ll have to kill off a major (or minor) character, have a dream sequence, a ridiculously long sex scene (which I assume would mean a very dreamy hero who doesn’t mind taking his time) or blow something up. Or perhaps all four at once. That should be good for at least 10,000 words or so. Suggestions welcome…

PS. This explains why I haven’t written here in AGES!