Sunday, September 27, 2009

Foods are Killing Us in Ways We Don't Even Know About

I grew up in the south on good southern cooking and mid west meat and potatoes. If my parents ever scrimped in their budget, the food budget was the last thing they would take from. The only time it was fancy fare was our annual "birthday dinner" to celebrate all our birthdays at one time, as all three of them spanned less than a month right at Christmas time.

Skip ahead a couple of decades and I have my own family and we all love good food and I like to cook. While living in Wisconsin, a place of the best foods in the world, cheese and frozen custard, I discovered the worst thing in the world. I had become lactose intolerant. Horrors! Unfortunately, I was unable to rein in my desires and occasionally I would still partake, I would just time it where I knew I would be home for a couple of days to suffer in private. Skip ahead another 15 years and we are living in Wisconsin a second time in our marriage but moving to Michigan, a move I was not happy about at all. But it was certainly not our first move, not even our second or third. It was more like our tenth move, so I thought I was taking it all in stride. I've read that some Celiacs or gluten-intolerant people have an event, perhaps traumatic, that becomes the trigger to setting off their sudden intolerances. About 6 months after the move, my lactose intolerance suddenly kicked into a whole new plane of seriousness. And getting more disciplined about staying away from dairy didn't seem to help much. It took several months to figure it all out, but in the end I discovered I had suddenly become intolerant of all things glutenous, rice, eggs, nuts, beans, along with my diary issues. Now, what does that leave me with? You would have thought I'd drop the weight like crazy. I think it counted for about a six pound loss overall. Unfortunately, I still love to eat.

It has been approximately 3 years since all of this transpired. I have not been diagnosed with anything officially. I do a lot of reading online and belong to some discussion forums for Celiacs, a disease that, believe it or not, affects about 1 in 100 people. It is a disease where the glutens in many grains affect people in various and very adverse ways. Many of those are still undiagnosed. We have become a society of digestive issues and not really understanding the foods that we are fed these days, how it's grown and processed and the cross-contaminations that are common practice and has affected our food supply over the past 70 years or so. Celiacs itself, seems to have been rooted mostly in the English Anglo-Saxon genes. I have begun to believe that drastically changing the diet we are so accustomed to is helping people with serious diseases such as Fibromyalgia and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Many mothers have been trying to gluten-free and casein-free (diary) diets on their ADD/ADHD kids as well as those that are autistic. There's a huge debate in the medical community about whether this can or is really helping these kids and many mothers and saying that it has definitely changed their children's conditions for the best. This is not a post about that debate.

I wish people would start realizing that the digestive problems, mood swings, headaches or whatever nagging health problem bothers them regularly COULD be something like an intolerance to glutens, or possibly they carry the Celiacs gene. And even though living with such a different diet certainly isn't easy these days, if more people knew they have that problem and demand that the restaurant industry and the food companies become more educated themselves and offer things that many of us would buy, the easier and less expensive that lifestyle would quickly become. I've read many people still are poo-pooing the gluten-free diets as fads that will quickly pass. But when you have numbers showing that 1 in 100 have issues due to glutens and that number has increased dramatically just in the past 20 years, I feel safe in saying it is not a fad and will only become more of a necessity. Often even unbenownst to ourselves, these digestive issues that may not even manifest themselves in digestive symptoms, can damage our intestines and cause polyps and lesions, both of which can be precursors to several different kinds of cancers. But even doctors in this country seem to be fairly clueless with this condition and they send their patients on a wild goose chase from test to test to test. Please, let's pull our heads out of the sand and take control over our health a little. Educate yourself, do what's necessary to make yourself feel better and then encourage your doctor to be more knowledgeable in this subject. Then let's cooperate our efforts in encouraging food companies to handle foods better. And let's take that cooperation to your favorite restaurants and learn to play Twenty Questions with the waiters and chefs regarding ingredients and cooking methods and help them realize its our health at stake.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Different Side of Me

I have been experimenting, this morning, with adding things to spruce up my blog. I love to Twitter, so I thought I'd put my Twitter updates on here and add a few pictures. I enjoy the technology of blogs, Twitter and other popular social media sites. But I'm very much self-taught. I trial and error my way to eventual success. But as I was merging my Twitter life with my blogging life, I realized you don't know a very big part of me. I am also known as Musicgirl77.

I began taking piano lessons when I was 5 years old. I couldn't read the words on the pages so my parents would read what I was suppose to do to me and then I would read the music notes. As with any child, I wanted to stop lessons many times through the years. But I was pretty good and my mother wouldn't let me stop. I did enjoy the notoriety I got when I was to a level I could play piano for the other kids singing in the choir or do a real nice, little solo for talent days. I began teaching a couple of private piano lessons to neighbor kids when I was about 15. It's a skill I got better at and how I made my pocket change while in college. I majored in Music Education, mostly because I wasn't of the level of the performance majors and I couldn't imagine life outside of a school.

When I was in fourth grade, I began playing violin. I had wanted to play the cello, but there was an old fiddle in the family that was free, so violin it was. I enjoyed the community of playing in a group, in an orchestra. I got pretty good at that also. When I was in high school I went back and forth with another girl between first and second chair. She had learned to play via Suzuki style, a style that learned to play more by ear than by reading notes. She played better than I did but I could read notes and play a piece quicker than she could because of that. So she and I spent our high school years challenging each other for that top position. I continued to play throughout college in a very fine orchestra. But when you get to the college level, even great high school players are suddenly confronted with the fact that there are alot of more talented people than themselves. I wasn't THAT good. It was very humbling. But I did get to learn the basics of most instrument groups and had tons of fun doing it.

Backtracking to my high school years again, I also learned to play organ because the organist at our church decided to leave, leaving no organ players. So I learned and had the privilege to play for the funerals of a good friends that died along the way. I also took guitar lessons for a couple of years. I had wanted to play banjo but my mother decided starting with guitar was called for. I don't know why. I wasn't bad at the guitar either, but it wasn't a passion by any stretch of the imagination and I finally quit. I guess quitting after two years showed I wasn't interested and learning banjo was never pursued. I was OK with that by that time. I was getting a bit burned out on lessons.

I never taught in a school system. While they taught us music, they didn't teach how to interview and it wasn't something I came by naturally. I blew the interview in my home area and wasn't ready to leave to pursue jobs in other areas. So I made my living as a secretary and continued to play my violin and piano in church. When my husband's job started transferring us around, I continued playing in our various church homes and teaching private lessons when I could get the students. We now attend a megachurch and the quality level of its musicians are professional-like. Age and nerves have slowed my public performing down to nothing, but I still love playing on my own and accompanying my son when he works up trumpet solos. There's a VERY special joy in doing that!

So, even though you may think of me as a writer because of this blog, I am very much Musicgirl. A moniker I can still be very proud.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Are Hobbies Important in Marriage?

My husband and I have been married for 22 years. We've had a great relationship. Our beliefs and opinions on most things are about the same. Our values are the same. When we married I knew he liked to hunt, fish and camp. All activities I wasn't terribly familiar with but didn't mind and thought I'd enjoy doing a little more myself. As his career took off, he had less and less time to enjoy his hobbies. We began moving and transferring around the country, so his knowledge of lands and friends he trusted well enough to do such activities with grew slim. Plus, being a young family, money was always a concern and he simply decided that it was cheaper to not enjoy his hobbies that much. The time he did have off he chose to spend with his family.

For myself, my hobbies were always much more docile. Reading, window shopping at antique stores, playing my piano and involvement at church was more my speed. Occasionally I would hear or read of something that sounded interesting to try, but as with most things, cost money for lessons and/or materials and being a stay-at-home-mother and homemaker, money was always a concern for me also. Having moved around so much, I usually didn't know anyone well enough to ask or feel comfortable watching my son to take classes so it was usually easier and cheaper to let go of any mild interests I may have in something new.

Skip ahead 20 years later and my husband's interests expanded to kayaking with our son. Now, water has never been my friend except to look at from the shoreline and listen to the gentle lapping of the water on the beach or watching the sun set on the horizon. Having never learned to swim well, being IN it never became comfortable for me. He also pursued his lifelong desire to ride motorcycles. I had always liked to ride if a friend invited me, so I thought this is something I would like to try myself. We signed up for motorcycle safety classes. It wasn't something that came natural for me but I kept at it and was getting better. After a malfunction with the class bike I had, they switched out bikes for me. It was a bigger bike and felt much different. I immediately laid it down on my leg and hurt my ankle to the point of being done with the class. I lived on that ankle for a day before going to the hospital and finding out it was broken. My husband finished his course, got his certificate and bought a nice, used bike to enjoy and ride. He would love nothing more for us to go on rides together, but more than 2 yrs later, I still have a fear of getting back on those things!

So we were having a discussion the other day about our soon-to-be emptynest status and retirement following and what kind of hobbies we should enjoy together. Cue the crickets chirping. Crickets still chirping! I had always heard of couples growing apart through the years and not having anything in common, but I had always assumed they didn't get along about most things. I still think we have a great relationship. We just don't seem to enjoy doing the same things. Is this a problem? Should it be? Do I need to risk life and limb to do the things my husband enjoys doing? Or should he become comatose to enjoy the things I like? I'm sure we aren't the first middle-aged couple with this dilemma. I'm not sure where this subject and discussion will go in the future but any advise anyone may have would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Profile of a Blogger

I went to see the movie "Julie & Julia" yesterday. I had been anticipating it with much excitement as I love Nora Ephron, Amy Adams, Meryl Streep and the whole subject of cooking and what started Julia Childs down the road of being "Julia Childs". She seemed like the most unlikely person in the world to have such a career on television, in my opinion. To a small town Kansas girl, she made the strangest foods and spent so much time getting food I considered "strange" on the table. But I had fun watching her and decided at an early age that if this woman could make the messes she made and dirty every pot and bowl in her kitchen making a meal, then perhaps it was something I was capable of doing. Through the years and exposure to other places besides Kansas, even those strange foods are now considered first class and yummy by this former Kansas girl.

I have always loved writing but haven't worked it and crafted it like I should have through the years. I've had many people say I do it well and should do more of it. So, this year I decided to try my hand at blogging. I knew that I'd probably be talking to myself, but I would still be practicing the art. I have to admit that I felt jealousy that when the character Julie Powell, in the movie, started blogging she quickly became the "3rd most popular blog" on her blogging network, with real live followers. But more than that, I was struck by a comment that her husband made during a big fight. He said that bloggers were self-absorbed individuals. I guess because I consider myself a blogger, even though I only really have two followers, I felt very defensive at this. And I've been wondering since what a truer definition of a blogger would be. defines it as "Someone that keeps a Web log (blog) or publish an online diary." Merriam-Webster's defines it as "a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer." I have to admit that both definitions point to a large involvement in "self" by using the words diary, personal and reflections. I don't seem to be helping my cause here at all. I consider alot of the blogs I personally follow and have to admit most have a personal nature or agenda regarding their own personal beliefs on a given subject. Health-related blogs I follow regarding food allergies set out to debunk alot of misinformation that is commonly found. They use advertisers that supports their opinions, as well as provide a living. Granted, much less self-serving but not altogether altruistic.

But, how does that differ from, say, a writer? Is there a difference between a blogger and a full-fledged, bonafide, published writer of, let's say, novels? I know this is just my opinion, but being a self-absorbed blogger, I guess I have that privilege. My belief is no, there are no differences in writing a book versus writing a blog. Considering the arguments that Julie Powell's husband had, both get wrapped up in their writing, in the story, in the characters. For Julie, Julia Childs became her alter ego, her id, her constant companion. She made a very generous gesture at the end of the story by leaving a pound of butter at the Smithsonian exhibit of Julia Childs' kitchen. It was her way of showing her final words of "I love you, Julia" to her muse, her confidante. Because as any real French cook would know, a pound of butter is needed in any great recipe. Writing may be self-absorbed, but its breath to it's creator. It's a physical need as easily as it is a mental need. It's the notes to instrument, the lyrics to the song, the paint on the canvas. And everyone is the better for all the self-absorbed writers in the world.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Are you on Twitter? The closest number I can find of us that are, is somewhere between 12 and 18 million adult users. I notice it differentiates "adult" users. Who knows how many minors on there. I would hope not many, as I seem to attract alot of desired followers in the adult entertainment industry. I'm not sure why. My friend, who is also on Twitter hardly ever gets any invites from them. But I digress.

For those of you that have no idea what Twitter is about, I'll try to explain as well as one of those "Dummy" books. Not for your benefit, but mine. You can classify yourself in one or many different categories, to broaden your exposure to others in the Twitter community. You simply make posts of 140 characters whenever you feel like it, about anything. People in the entertainment (not adult oriented) plug their upcoming shows and where they may be at in their tour dates. Businesses plug their product, sales and services. Most news channels, stations and networks will post the newest breaking news. And plain, 'ol people like me simply post our thoughts of the moment. You can "follow" people you want to keep up with what they have to say. Some people collect followers for the sheer numbers, like it makes them popular or something. Others collect a diverse collection of followers or follow an eclectic group themselves to keep things interesting and educational. Of sorts.

As I was going thru my follow requests (a setting each can choose to use) and blocking the usual two or three adult entertainment ladies, I found myself amused at the diverse group of followers I have collected. My latest is a business of wedding planners. I do know that certain buzz words are keyed into people's search for potential business and "hits". I can't imagine what I may have recently said to call attention to myself to that industry. I also get real estate brokers from all over the world. Want a condo in the Philippines? Sure, just not in typhoon season. And only if I can sell my house in Michigan. Ok, that's not going to happen anytime soon. And what the heck do I say to attract the ladies of the evening? It's not even the men I attract, it's the women. I know things get desperate, but move on, ladies!

Funny thing about Twitter is you start to think of things in approximately 140 character sound-bites. I hear something funny and I immediately start wondering how I can edit it down to size and how I must write it down or I will forget it before I can get online to post it, always ready to dazzle my "public" with humor and insight. I even start to wonder what so-and-so is doing because I haven't seen a 'tweet" from them today. Yes, complete strangers. Twitter is truly an amazing "little" community. It's actually possible to make some new "friends". It certainly gives you every opportunity to venture outside your usual boundaries and interests.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Culture of Anger

Boy, it's been a rough few days around here! Have you noticed that a majority of our "big" headlines lately have centered around people lashing out at someone or something? Everyone is angry about something anymore. In politics, Rep. Joe Wilson yelled "Liar" during President Obama's speech. Speaker of the House Pelosi is demanding retribution in multiple apologies in a cranky mother hen fashion. Private citizens across the country have been protesting angrily the amount of money that Congress has been spending in stimulus money with "Tea Parties", much like the original Boston Tea Party. In sports, Serena Williams unleashed a string of expletives and anger toward line judges during her U.S. Open tennis match. Michael Jordan delivered his Hall of Fame speech with tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and chip-on-shoulders venom. And he has broad shoulders. And most recently, the MVA embarrassment of Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift's acceptance speech of Best Female Video of the Year to express his opinion that another's video was better.

Where is all this anger coming from? These are only a few examples that grabbed the national headlines. There are many, many more horrifying examples locally, all over the country of robberies, murders, road rage, drunk driving and gang-related crimes. We all seem to want and need others to see things the way we see them. Have the same opinions we do. And if they don't, we are taking action to show them the error in their ways. Rising up and taking a stand because we have the need to show that we count. Or drown ourselves in our despair. What's going on?

In my opinion, the past ten year of teaching, preaching and evangelizing the new buzz-word "TOLERANCE" is the problem. With the brand of tolerance that is being held up as the example, there is no right or wrong. Everyone has their own views and opinions and no one should be "belittled" into being wrong. I think in the ten years or so of this philosophy we have all seen that there's a huge flaw in this thinking as someone is always in charge of deciding, and judging, the tolerance around them. In other words, not being tolerant of someone's opinion or views. And it seems the ones that preach this brand of tolerance the loudest are the ones that scream intolerance the most. Do they not see the irony in that? But the tolerance and right and wrongness of big issues like politics and human rights has trickled down to the decay of wrongness of smaller things like bullying, entitlement and lack of work ethics. It is my own belief that there needs to be right and wrongs. And not defined in two billion different ways, leaving it to everyone's own definition. One way. I happen to be a person that believes in God and His ways and His rights and wrongs. I think it goes hand-in-hand. But, regardless, I think all this should be food for thought for everyone. We can no longer ignore the ramifications and results we are seeing in everyday life now of just how unrealistic it is for everyone to live and believe in their own set of rules. It's just not working. Sometimes we need to play the adult and make the tough decisions in life. Be true to yourself, in the way you were intended to be. Even those of us that fight in the name of God and His ways are doing so in unacceptable ways. God did not intend for us to become murderers of those we think are doing wrong anymore than those doing wrong in their own name are wrong. Be accountable. We need to realize that some things are simply wrong and punishable. Other things are opinions and allowable. And that there's alot of us! We need to find a way to respect our differences, respect our commonalities and respect ourselves. Hmmm. Maybe we all need to go back to school and learn the definition of respect.