Mixed Berry Frozen Yogurt — So Healthy Your Mouth Can’t Wait!!!!!

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It’s SUMMER FROZEN TREAT time!!!!!

Yes, I’m Type-2 Diabetic — but this is a summer treat (okay, not just summer — it’s too good to limit to a couple of months between June and September) and healthy in so many ways, you’ll choose it no matter what.nutrition panel

This is for a 1.5 quart batch — which, when frozen, is 8x 3/4-cup servings, OR 12x 1/2c servings in little Tupperware or Ziplock/Glad containers, OR 16x 3oz frozen treat bars — on a stick or in a tube.

Here’s the nutrition and ingredients for 8 x 3/4-cup servings:
(HINT: remember to NOT fill the containers completely — stuff expands as it freezes!!!!  If there’s a little left — it’s a bonus!)

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  • 20.00 oz strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries (mix to your taste)
  • 5 T C-Salts (Buffered Vitamin C + Minerals)
  • 0.25 tsp Sea Salt
  • 16.00 oz, Greek Gods Yogurt Traditional Greek Plain (not low or no-fat)
  • 100.00 g, Just Like Sugar Table Top Sweetener
  • 10.00 Drops (0.12 ml), Better Stevia Drops
  • 12.00 packet (0.8g), True Lime (Crystallized Lime juice)
  • 1/2 packet Fiber One Vanilla pudding mix

Puree berries until smooth in a blender with True Lime, salt, and C-Salts.  Add whole-milk Greek Yogurt  and Stevia drops, then the Just Like Sugar.  Blend for a few seconds, then let it stand for at least 3 minutes — then blend again and partially “whip” the mixture — this adds some air and gives it a slightly different texture when frozen.

From this point, you can either pour the mixture into an ice cream freezer, or portion it into frozen treat molds or tubes.

The treats have a much different texture than traditional ice cream/frozen yogurt because when made without sugar, the emulsion/elasticity of sugar+fat does not occur.  This is why most people will prefer these as bars on a stick.

I actually like the frosty ice-y popsicle consistency, and the slowed eating process of eating it out of a cup/container…. but that’s probably just me.

Here are some of my favorite tools —

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These nifty zip-lock squeeze-up baggies are made by a company called Zipzicle — you can get them straight from the manufacturer, or from Amazon, and other online merchants. I use these when I’m low on freezer space — they slip into unbelievably small spaces both to freeze and to store. And if you’re eating from a picnic cooler — there’s no small parts to keep track of and take home.

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Zoku makes some wonderfully whimsical ice-pop molds — this is by far my fave (and thematically appropriate for life on the coast) They’re a little steep in price — but made of safe and durable silicone. Hand washable and simple to remove once the pops are frozen hard. (More like this pictured below)

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Zoku round pops mold. Makes 4, about 3oz —

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Zoku “quick freeze” pop maker. You can get a single, a double like this, or a triple. Each one freezes 3 times before you have to re-freeze the core. These pops can be plain-Jane, or dolled-up with fresh fruit/nuts, krispies etc. Pops take about 10 minutes to freeze — and a little longer after the first go-round.  I like to add toasted flake coconut and toasted almond slices….

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Zoku triple pop maker — with some fancy examples!

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Glad 1/2c re-usable containers. Ziplocks’ are square — just as good, but harder to get the good stuff out with a spoon when they’re frozen hard. Tupperware and Rubbermaid make them this size in a more durable material — but these last upwards of 10 times to re-use.

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Excellent 1 1/2 qt ice cream freezer from Cuisinart. Read the instructions first (I didn’t) and it will save a headache. Hint: It has to be turned on and going before you add the liquid you’re freezing. lol

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There are some great silicone molds where you just add the sticks and freeze. I got these 3oz containers on Amazon for under $10 —

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You can get these push-up / squeeze tubes at any kitchen shop — some even have the little lids attached so they’re harder to lose. They hold from 2-4 oz depending on brand.  Hint: Stand them up in a cup to freeze in case there’s a leak….

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Here are the brands I use:

Naturally probiotic -- tart -- creamy -- high protein -- and yummy.  This is the real thing!

Naturally probiotic — tart — creamy — high protein — and yummy.

Not just buffered Vitamin-C, but also calcium, magnesium, zinc, and potasium!

Not just buffered Vitamin-C, but also calcium, magnesium, zinc, and potassium!

This is the purest lime flavor you'll ever taste short of just eating a fresh lime....

This is the purest lime flavor you’ll ever taste short of just eating a fresh lime….

either the

either the “Table Top” or “Baking” versions will work. Both add 4g of fiber per 5g Tablespoon.

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The Success of Failed Attempts: Prohibition and US

Remember Prohibition?  Me neither.  It was way before my time.

But I’ve seen the movies.  The History Channel is all over this story.  Everybody knows it was an outrageous failure that flew in the face of American civil liberties…

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Right?

Except I think we may have been bamboozled.  So to speak.

According to TIME Magazine, there’s a little bit of the history that the photo above doesn’t bother to mention — and maybe we should make notes about this.

The rise of the United States is one of history’s amazing stories, even more remarkable when you realize how many of our forefathers were three sheets to the wind. John Adams drank hard cider with breakfast. James Madison drained a pint of whiskey each day*. By 1830 the average American was guzzling the equivalent of 1.7 bottles of hard liquor per week — three times the amount consumed today.

*For those keeping score, that would come to 3.5 quarts (just shy of a gallon) of whiskey per week.

That’s right.  Per capita, Americans drank an average AVERAGE of 1.7 quarts of hard liquor per week.  That’s 32 drinks per week.  4 1/2 cocktails a day.  Every day.  Per person.  Man, woman and child.  And since we assume the children were not REALLY drinking their fair share, that means Daddy and Mama — who at that time had 7 surviving children per household — were actually drinking more than 15 bottle of booze a week.

Okay — there were a few single folks.  And a few tea-totalers.  So let’s split the difference and say all the drinking adults drank maybe 10 bottles a week.

That’s the equivalent of more than a fifth of scotch whiskey a day.  Imagine living in a world where everybody drank a fifth of scotch a day.  People would be getting in gun fights in the street.  Wife and child abuse would be rampant.  Babies would be still-born, damaged by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome — before anybody knew what it was.  People wouldn’t live long enough to die of cancer or Alzheimer’s or heart disease or — well — of anything age related because they’d die of liver failure in their 40s.

Imagine that world.  A place where there were no (or few) medical anesthetics or analgesics.  Pain killers were narcotic or nothing.  Want to alleviate the symptoms of menopause, or even horrific PMS?  Have a bottle of corn liquor!  Pain from childbirth?  Have a drink.  Migraine?  Give me a break.  Have a drink.  Insomnia?  Muscle cramps?  Stress?  Exhaustion?  Relax.  Get some sleep.  Have a drink or two to unwind and then a couple more to put you to sleep at night.  Is the weather a bit nippy?  Aches and pains from all that rain?  Arthritis warping you hands and the knuckles in your toes?  Bourbon will fix that!  You won’t feel a thing!  Depressed?  Blue?  Burdened by nightmares?  Trauma?  (Think PTSD) — Bottoms up!

You won’t feel a thing.  Ask anybody.

And that’s probably pretty much the truth.  People drank to fix just about everything.  Monks made liquor to pay their bills.  Bitters — digestion aids — were loaded with wood spices, ginger, herbs and other medicinals and sold for their health benefits.

Everybody drank!  An average of 1.7 bottles of hard liquor (not beer or wine or cider or mead….) every single week.  So that 1.7 bottles of hard liquor was actually IN ADDITION TO any beer or wine or cider or mead that was consumed.

And the results were incalculable.  Think of the productivity loss!  Imagine walking the scaffolding to build skyscrapers with that much liquor in your system!  No wonder so many people died building the Brooklyn Bridge!  Or the Empire State Building!  Think about working as a telephone or telegraph lineman — or walking the catwalks in the saloons and Vaudeville theaters!  Or swinging a big knife as a butcher — or a scythe as a farmer!  Every aspect of life gets more dangerous with that much liquor in flow!

My grandmother was almost beaten to death by her father for letting a pig escape from its pen — because her father was constantly altered by alcohol,  and not quite in conscious control of his actions.  He was a “strong silent-type” pioneer who farmed and ranched some of the most difficult land in the dusty Texas Panhandle.  And he was a nightmare.  None of his sons survived — so he worked his daughters like pack-animals — and he beat them just like he beat the mules.

And nobody thought anything about it.
Why not?
Because it was common place.  Everybody drank that much.  Everybody beat their children and wives in fits of anger.  Everybody.

1.7 bottles of hard liquor — the average — probably the minimum for a real drinking adult — is enough to change everything.

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And that’s why Prohibition happened.  It happened in concert with the first Women’s Movement that gave women their first voice in the US.  Women finally got fed up.

Women got a voice, and one of the first things they said was; “put down that bottle!”

So?

So — no.  Prohibition didn’t last.  Bootleggers found a way to keep making moonshine and bathtub gin.  NASCAR was born via the car-chases — the result of moonshiners trying to outrun the local police on the backroads and dirt highways of the South.  We wanted our freedom so bad that we were willing to break the law — and laugh while we did it — just to keep drinking.  We made a sport of hiding away in private clubs and dark venues all over America —

And Prohibition was repealed — the Speak Easy died — bootleggers became political royalty — and gangsters moved on to organizing other crimes.

And, at least according to that first picture — Prohibition failed.

But the truth is — it changed the way we think about drinking in this country.  We no longer look the other way when people drink and abuse their family.   We don’t turn a blind eye to manslaughter with a vehicle when the driver was DUI.  We don’t excuse costly errors due to hangovers or absenteeism.  Suicide by alcohol — isn’t an unknown any more. And Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a known, rather than an unknown.

The town drunk isn’t a joke any more.

Public intoxication — to the point of doing harm to oneself or others — just isn’t cool.

And that’s not the way it was before.  We think about how much we drink.  We find designated drivers.  We hold bartenders accountable for letting people get so drunk — for hours at a time — that they are a public threat.

We don’t tolerate those things.   Now.

Prohibition may not be the law of the land any more — but a failure?

I don’t think so.

In the long game, Prohibition was what we needed to get sober enough  — for long enough — to think clearly and re-prioritize our beliefs and values and goals.  It was a sober night that let us grow up and choose better.  And be better.

People still drink.  There are still heavy drinkers.  But now we are pretty clear about addiction and recovery.  Drinking and alcoholism aren’t the same thing.  But we might never have known that without Prohibition.

There are still good reasons to drink.  And there are other choices that accomplish the same ends.  But we might never have known that without Prohibition.

There are behaviors that can be explained by putting them in the context of a few drinks — but explaining is not the same as excusing.  Alcohol is not an excuse for hurting others.  Or breaking laws.  Or failing — at anything.  Alcohol may explain it – but it doesn’t excuse it.  But we might never have known that without Prohibition.

We had to get away from that 1.7/per capita statistic long enough to stop thinking of it as normal.

prohibition

Now.

Let’s talk about guns, our relationship to our guns, and the relationship to violence.

A New Year — Finally

It has been an interesting year.

If you grow up neglected — which is what happened to me — the death of parents is a fairly significant life event.  Yes, I know.  The death of any parent is a significant life event.  I understand.  My father has been dead nearly 10 years.  My mother died this past April.

For me, it represented the end of that shadow hanging over my life.  It has been several years since I first recognized that I would never — and COULD never actually please either of my parents.  They were never interested in being pleased by a child.  Their only expectations of me were that I would always be a distraction from the lives they actually wanted to live.  I would always be a burden, a disappointment, and someone to blame.

Then one day, my aunt called and said my mother was in the hospital and dying.  She asked if I would like to visit her, even though she was not conscious.  I said, “no thank you.”  My aunt and uncle stayed with her for days until she died; arranged for her funeral; and took care of all the details.  They wanted to know when I could arrange to settle the will, and I assured them that I was not mentioned in the will (as per my mother’s constant badgering threats and attempts to force me to be a victim until long after her death.)

Her lawyer confirmed that neither I nor my son was mentioned in the will, and my cousin had been made executor. My aunt (her sister) was so shocked she couldn’t believe it.  She and her husband assured me that they would not let this happen, and that we would inherit as we were supposed to — no matter what.

Nobody outside my mother and father ever knew how they treated me, evidently — until I was a grown woman and a mother myself.  A close friend of mine (a practicing child therapist) was the one who spotted what had been going on all those years when he met my mother.  Otherwise, I would have continued to believe everyone was “raised” the same way I was.

And telling my aunt/uncle this complicated bad news would have served no purpose.  People thought badly enough of her already.  And she’d made sure nobody who trusted her would believe anything I ever said about her.

Then another will was found — toward the end of her life, she’d evidently recanted under pressure from a lawyer in our extended family.

In the end, what was left of the money she’d inherited from my grandfather; and gotten in the divorce from my father, went to pay off my son’s college loans and pay off all our debts.  Her house went to my son who will be married this year, so he is debt free and owner free-and-clear of a home.  Her car — a Lexus which had only been driven 1600 miles and then sat dead in her garage for over 2 years — paid for much of my son’s and our new Prius(es?)  Pri-i?  2 Prius hybrids.  Her jewelry and house contents bought us 3 new chairs, a treadmill, and new stormdoors and a new kitchen window.  Her portion of the family farmland was sold to my aunt and uncle for half its market value — since they did the horrible duty of staying with her until she died.  So my husband and I — and my son and his future life — each have a little lump in the bank in case of emergency.

And the shadows disappeared.

For about 6 months, it was a fairly tense time here.  The settling of an estate is complicated, time-consuming, and full of unusual duties and surprises.  There was a period of several days/weeks when her malice and hatred of me was tangible in every document and every item I touched from her house.  I had nightmares and was so physically ill from those days, that thought I might go ahead and just go insane to get away from it all.

But it didn’t happen.  My husband, my son, my soon-to-be daughter-in-law –and all our friends listened to me go from screaming to throwing things — and it all eventually passed.

The week my son took possession of her house — he called a local nursery to come and get all the dozens of rose bushes from her house and yard (I am horribly allergic to roses.)  She had planted them every 3 feet or so, and built a special rose garden just outside the back door.  The only conclusion any of us can possibly draw is that she planted them on purpose to keep me away.  Or to make sure I was uncomfortable, sick, and miserable every time I crossed her threshold.  (This was in addition to the rose-perfume she splashed on every morning of her life.)

But I can visit “Nathan’s house” without having to resort to Benedryl and asthma inhalers.

Both my husband and I think it is possible that the rose allergy may be a kind of chicken/egg problem.  It’s basically impossible to know whether I developed the allergy as a child — in response to my mother — or if I had the allergy first and she responded to it by learning to grow roses and finding perfumes made with genuine rose.  Either way —

We sold (through an estate sale) almost everything she’d ever owned.  We kept fewer than a dozen items.  A couple of fairly neutral book cases.  The kitchen table from our house before they (my parents) moved into their 4500-sq-ft monster and before their divorce.  A chair for the dog to sleep in.  The photos of my grandparents when they were first married.  A coffee cup I had always liked.  Nathan kept her sofa — where he loved to sleep when he was a boy.  And we let my aunt take some things she wanted.

I sold one of her pieces of jewelry to a friend coming up on his first anniversary — for the price a jeweler had offered for it (about 10% of its original price.)  His wife got a helluva great piece of jewelry.  But all of my mother’s jewelry felt cursed.  She bought it all for herself — or coaxed it out of people.  She always measured how much someone cared about her by how much money they spent on her in jewelry.  I guess she cared most — because her file folder full of receipts told the tale.  She’d spent more on diamonds and gold than most people spend on their home, all the cars they ever own, their education and computers — more than all of it put together.

And jewelers bought it back for 10% of what she paid.

Jewelry was what she wanted and what she loved.

A lot of old memories have come back since she died.

I remember more of my childhood now.  I remember little tableaux images.  The tree in our back yard.  The path I walked to school every day.  I remember not having friends.  I remember how much lunch cost every day at school. (a quarter, a dime, and 2 pennies.)  I remember being alone in my room for hours and hours and hours.  When I was 6 or 7.  And when I was 10. I remember piano lessons, recitals, and the annual Van Cliburn Competition. (I still have the tiny bronze pin for participating.)

All the time I was growing up.  I remember never being told when to come home in the evenings.  Or on school nights, ever.  I remember that we only ever ate meals together (or maybe it was just that I was never called for dinner) except when she was on weight watchers diet that emphasized cooking and eating together.  I remember summers with my grandparents.

I remember being sick all winter, every winter, with “bronchitis” or tonsilitis.  That I later learned, as an adult, was asthma.  They never took me to a doctor good enough to diagnose it.  Instead, I lived on antibiotics all winter every year, and coughed all the time.

It turns out, the asthma was not the only thing that was never diagnosed.  I am also dyslexic.  And from all we have been able to read and learn, I am probably also on the far end of the autism spectrum.  It’s just as well they never bothered to figure that one out — I’d have ended up drugged and institutionalized somewhere, and would never have found a life of my own.  Instead, I learned to compensate for most of the most telling symptoms.  And I learned to read, in spite of the dyslexia.

But the dyslexia would have been much easier to navigate if someone had told me what was going on.  Instead, I just spent the first 19 years of my life thinking I was really stupid, and too sub-par in intelligence to do or be anything — other than what I’d always been.

Once I got past that — my life was very different.

And once I let go of the people who brought me into the world, and their selfishness and inadequacy as parents — my life was very different then, too.

So 2011 was a different kind of year.  Sweeping it out the back door is a good thing.  Starting fresh this year — is a much bigger and more comfortable fresh start.  A fresh start I didn’t even know enough to have been waiting for.

It’s time to take a deep, long breath.  It was the best Halloween ever this year.  Dozens and dozens of children came to the door — especially when word got out I had lite-up bracelets andn finger puppets instead of candy.  I had the best Thanksgiving of my life this year– a store bought ham, a baked macaroni and cheese, and Nathan made stir-fried broccoli (at his new house.)   And then I had the best holiday season I’ve ever had.  No expectations.  No travel.  No stress.  Simple.  Quiet.  Movies.  Games.  Chauncey-dog running around and jumping on the furniture.

All the rose bushes are gone.

Memory and Misinterpretation / Reinterpretation

It’s a very strange side effect of my mother’s death this year, that many of my childhood memories have returned.  I’m not sure where they went in the first place — though I have a few ideas — but they’re back now.  And, it’s been an interesting process, re-cataloging them as an adult.

When I was a kid, nobody knew what dyslexia was, and even fewer knew about autism spectrum. I’d never heard the word autism until I was in college, on a class visit to the state hospital.  There was a boy there — my age — curled up in a fetal position in a very large crib.  He weighed no more than 90 lbs, and he rocked back and forth every moment he was awake.  This, I was told, was what being autistic meant.

So I was dyslexic, asthmatic, probably somewhere on the north end of autistic — and at 13 years old, I must have been pretty creepy.  My parents (who I am now told neglected me in almost all ways) decided I needed to do more “normal’ things.  I’d never had a friend.  I’d never been to another kid’s house.  I’d never been to a sleepover or out to a movie.   I lived in my room — mostly with the door closed — and I’d been there all my life.

We went to a little church three times a week, and the teenagers there all went out together every Sunday night.  Nothing organized — not dates or parties — just riding around our little suburb, or out to get a Coke at a Dairy Queen.  Evidently, my parents paid one of the 18 year old boys to take me with them.

This must have been a really awkward thing for a teenage boy.  I tended to wear the same clothes every day.  I didn’t know how to talk to people.  I wasn’t pretty or sweet or any of the words people like to think describe them.  And I’d never heard pop music or “news at the top of the hour,” or even carried on a conversation with anyone I wasn’t related to.  But Eddie — the senior in high school who needed pocket money — made sure I followed along everywhere this little group went on Sunday nights.

One evening after church, however, Eddie didn’t have any money to go out, so everybody went back to his house.

I’d never been to anybody’s house.  My grandmother’s.  My aunts.  The preacher’s.  And that was it.  I knew the house on Father Knows Best and Make Room For Daddy — and even the big Ponderosa ranch house on Bonanza.  But that was about it.

Eddie’s house was modest.  There were doilies on the tables, and hard chairs in the living-room.  There was a table with an aqua surface in his kitchen and a mixer on the counter top.  In hindsight, this was a very modest and moderately low income household, even though both of his parents worked.  The house was older and built of wood, with trees and bushes neatly trimmed in the yard. It was like the house we’d lived in when I was small — not like our shag carpeted, wood paneled, gun-cabineted house in the suburbs.

Eddie, like me, was an only child.  His house was uncluttered and uncrowded — there were no siblings to demand attention.   His parents were older than mine.  I suspect now that they wern’t THAT much older — but my parents married before they were 20.

Most importantly, his house had a stereo record player — which was a big deal in the late 1960s — and Eddie had records.  While he and the other kids talked and did whatever it was they were doing, I looked at record album covers and played the Temptations and the Supremes on the stereo.  He had Beach Boys.  The Lettermen.  Glen Miller.  All pretty standard issue stuff — and all completely new for me.

Evidently, I was not particularly welcome in this group of teenagers, because after a few weeks, Eddie explained to me that I needed to learn how to be polite and how to act with other kids.  I remember crying because I didn’t know what he was talking about.  I hardly talked at all.  When I did say something, though, I must have been loud and curt and out of place.  I asked a lot of questions.  I stared at them when they talked.  I had no common experiences with those people.  I didn’t know any of them or how to be interested in them.  They talked about things I didn’t know anything about.

I remember trying to listen to them.  Trying to figure out what they were talking about so I could “fit in.”

But it was like a foreign language.  The only common ground I could ever find with them was music.  I’d asked for a radio for Christmas — and it had become my window into the world.  Where I’d never even heard pop music before — I was now listening to one of the Dallas rock-and-roll stations (KLIF 1190 on your radio dial) every night to go to sleep.  I knew all the songs and all the bands and I could sing along.  I listened to the radio non-stop from the time I woke up in the morning, so that no matter what came on Eddie’s car radio — I knew it.  It gave me common ground.

I didn’t know what most of the songs were talking about — but I knew all the words.

I still know the words.

But somewhere in the last couple of decades, I stopped listening to music.  Some music you can’t get away from — it’s always there in TV commercials, elevators, playing in the background in stores.  But on the whole, I had lost all that music.  There were too many other things to focus on.  Even my iPod was full of recorded books.

But something happened when my mother died.  All the music came flooding into my head.  Simon and Garfunkle.  The Beatles.  Marvin Gaye.  The First Edition.  Tommy James and the Shondels.  Smokey RobinsonJanis Joplin.  Then the Bee Gees (the old original Bee Gees, not the Disco Bee Gees.)  Carole King.  James Taylor. Harry Nillsson. The Doors.  Neil Diamond.  And on and on.

I now have an iPod/iPad/iTunes full of music.  Four decades worth of music.

And I remembered Eddie who is probably a grandfather.  I think the last time I saw him, he was teaching school, and his wife had just had twins. That was a long time ago.

Eddie didn’t teach me to be a proper teenager, but he did introduce me to music as a bridge to other people.  And that was enough to get me by until I was older.

Confessions of a Fat American

— A New Direction For This Blog.  I’m going to talk about being fat.  I’m going to talk about health and what it takes to become healthier, regardless of whether you are overweight or not.  I’m also on a search for what kinds of exercises are available to people with joint problems, like those I have with my hands.  What can be done about being fat?  I’m probably not the one to ask as I have never figured it out.  But I also haven’t given up and I’ve accumulated a lot of information over the years. So I’m going to take this opportunity in the first month of 2011 to start writing and doing something about my own health and well-being.

What and who can control the issues surrounding weight, beauty, health, and our culture?  Those are things I have some opinions about and experience with, so I’ll probably write about those things, too.

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I have been fat since I was 13 years old. (Before that, my childhood picture looks just like everybody else’s childhood pictures.  I only have one, but I’m sure there were others taken.)

I know I was fat when I was 13 years old, because that’s when my mother first took me with her to a Weight Watcher’s meeting.  As far as I know, I was about a size 11 when I first switched from kid’s sized clothes to adult sized clothes.  I was about 15 pounds heavier than the Weight Watcher’s charts said an adult of my height should be.  That I wasn’t an adult didn’t seem to matter.  That I was just going through puberty didn’t seem to matter.

My father was an up-and-coming minor executive in an insurance company that had built itself a huge new building on the freeway — and so he’d gone from being a country boy who married money, to a self-made ladder-climber on the road to the top floor and suburban life.  Appearances had become very important to him — and would later become more important — so having a fat daughter AND a fat wife must have made it difficult for him to come home at night.  At least that’s how he framed it later.

So I lost the 15 pounds.  My mother was on the Weight Watcher’s (first edition) diet off and on for several years — but with only a yo-yo type of success.  She bought me diet aids that were available at the time — canned chocolate milk flavored stuff meant to replace 1 or 2 meals a day, and diet sodas made with saccharin.  This was long before Slim Fast and its clones.

Here’s a commercial circa 1965 —

By the time I was a junior in high school, my father had begun to “make it big.”  He’d switched from insurance to joining a start-up import company as their National Sales Manager, and suddenly we were on our way to upper middle class life.  The pressure to represent him and his new life was outrageous.  His business partner’s wife was in the same position as my mother, and had found a doctor who would prescribe diet pills — and so at 16, I was still, at most, 15 pounds over an adult weight chart recommendation — and I was crash dieting with diet pills on command to make my mother feel better about her “long and hard road.”

I got down to 122 pounds — a new low for me –and my parents threw a party.  And I gained 3 pounds back in week.  And all the weight I’d lost with the diet pills was back with interest inside 2 months.

Before I left for college, I’d been put back on diet pills+crash diet 3 more times.  And still, I left for college at 135 pounds.

When I went home for the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I went home at about 140 pounds.  My parents had moved into an outrageously massive and expensive house — with a black marble swimming pool, landscaped gardens, a pool room, a bar, 2 dining rooms, 5 bathrooms, and garage space for 3 cars and storage — except they didn’t store anything.  They’d sold the old life and bought a brand new lifestyle.  They had a lake house, a boat, a Cadillac convertible, a sports car, commitments, and a calendar.

And my mother was back on diet pills — so naturally, they insisted I do the same.  My father offered to take me to Neiman Marcus and buy me a new wardrobe if I would just lose all the weight I’d gained at school.  I did their diet — but 3 months of summer break wasn’t enough — even on a 600 calorie a day diet — to get down to the 112 pounds that the new weight charts and Hollywood gossip magazines said I should weigh.

I went back to school starving, miserable, and addicted to pills that the campus pharmacy wouldn’t refill because they were from a doctor in another city (and they were for amphetamines!) so– I went through withdrawal (without even knowing what it was)  I gained back all the weight I’d lost and started having horrible migraines that have never left me.  I was sick and jittery and couldn’t sleep regularly for nearly a whole semester.  And I never went home for more than 3 weeks at a time again. Three years later, my parents were divorced — of course.  My father had finally traded in my mother and her misery and pill addictions for his pretty young secretary who filled the role of arm-candy with much less effort.

When I got married, I weighed bout 155.  I dieted; lost weight; then gained back all the weight I’d lost  plus a couple of extra pounds — and then dieted again.  Each time, I had to diet longer and make myself more miserable and guilty — because that was how I’d learned to do it.

I had chronic migraines.  I had inherited arthritis.  I had severe asthma that had gone undiagnosed all through childhood.  And I was now legitimately overweight. I’d finally learned to talk to doctors for myself and figured out what the “miracle diet drugs” were that I’d been given so many times by slick diet doctors catering to middle-class housewives.  I tried Overeater’s Anonyous.  I tried Weight Watchers again.  Then when Weight Watchers came out with a new “program” — I tried that too.  I tried Slim Fast.  I even tried aversion therapy that used electric shocks to try and alter eating behavior with “technology.”  What a crock!

Somewhere along the way, I completely lost my ability to tell when I was hungry and when I wasn’t.  After being on starvation diets so many times — I was just going from nothing — to my normal food choices over and over again.  I would eat the first thing that I could find — a whole bag of chips instead of a serving.  A huge deli sandwich instead of a normal-sized one.  The Special Mexican Dinner — that came to the table on a platter and 2 salad plates, instead of the daily lunch special served on 1 salad plate.

By the time I’d had knee surgery, a baby, and moved back to school so my husband could finish his degree (and then another degree) — I’d dieted so many times that I’d gained 30 pounds more.  After a divorce and finding  a job to support myself and my son, I’d gained another 25.  After 3 years teaching in the public schools, I’d gained another 20.

Down a few pounds — up a few more.  Over and over and over.

Until finally, at about 266, I said “to hell with it” for the first time.  I had a good job that let me buy really beautiful clothes — for myself and the size I was — for the first time.   I just let myself be the weight I was.  And for those 3 years — I stayed exactly the same weight.

This is a clue.

My son got sick — really sick — and we were uninsured.  After several years, he got better with this now chronic condition — but I ended up declaring bankruptcy.  I worked odd jobs so I could be home with him instead of traveling.  When he was going through difficult periods — I stayed home with him and didn’t work at all for days at a time.  I was mixing temporary jobs of all kinds with donations from my family — We found him a small private university with a Medical School/Teaching Hospital, in a residential campus, and a city with public transportation (since he couldn’t drive with some of his medications) and they gave him scholarships sufficient to make up for us having spent his college fund on his medical bills.

And when he went off to school, I decided that maybe it was time for me to go back and finish my education, too.  Mostly, I’d been under a lot of stress, and just needed to succeed at something for a while.

I got a teaching assistantship and set out in search of someone who could speak to all the things I read and studied in the background of this life, and was eventually sent to the only person the campus could recommend to direct my studies.  He and I started talking — and have never stopped.  Instead of getting a Ph.D. — I got married again.  And the conversation and quest for new and interesting ideas has never stopped.

I have addressed the neglect I’d been raised with.  I have addressed the insane diets I was told to go on for all the wrong reasons when I was young.  I have worked to unravel the twisted hunger/satiety responses that diet drugs and deprivation worked to destroy so effectively.  I have laid awake nights trying to untangle the bizarre expectations of others and the surrender to no expectations in myself.

For years now I’ve focused on my ideas, my mind, my creative endeavors, and the people I love and who love me.  I stopped wearing makeup over a decade ago.  I stopped wearing the expensive clothes in my closet and drifted to a wardrobe of denim skirts and t-shirts / sweaters.  I dissociated from my family of origin.  I have read what I wanted.  Studied what I wanted.  I have slept nights from beginning to end without cold sweats or nightmares.  I am not nearly so loud as I once was in conversation.  I have stopped demanding and directing  those who cross my path.  I have worked hard to discover what I believe and why.  I have become a much nicer person than I ever was in my youth, and I ever gave anyone indications that I could be.  Many of these things can be traced directly to marrying a wonderful and kind man who loves me and who I get to love every day.

And I haven’t gained weight since my husband and I married.

This is a clue.

At one time, a couple of years ago, I’d just about worked out a healthy way to live and eat that helped me lose about 35 pounds.  Just as this was becoming habit, 2 of my closest family-friends had outrageous difficulties in their lives and needed all of their family-friends to be on call; to sit in hospital waiting rooms; to be available on the phone as the listening ear; to be available on short notice as the helping hand –and my momentum was shoved to the back burner — and right off the stove.

But now, things are slowing down, cooling down, and calming down.

And I have re-gathered my notes.

A couple of things have changed in 2 1/2 years.  One of the things I did then (to help up my menopausal metabolism) was exercise with resistance bands.  It was a great discovery — but is now completely impossible due to the state of the arthritis in my hands.  I can no longer grip the bands to do the exercises.  My thumbs and wrists just won’t take the pressure.  I can’t even take the torque required to open a jar of spaghetti sauce!

So that’s off the table.

Another thing that has changed also has to do with my hands — I really loved playing all the sports games on the Nintendo Wii.  I still do.  Buy the selection is being limited by which sports/games require me to grip the Wii-mote controller in a way that hurts my hands.  I’ve given up cooking in cast iron and stopped knitting just so I can keep painting — so it would be outrageously stupid to ruin my hands by using a game controller that insists I hold it tight and bend my thumbs into awkward positions to hit the buttons.

This is also what keeps me off twitter and from sending text messages.  My thumb-joints just won’t take it.

So I am in search of Wii games that are easy on my hands.  I’m hoping the mats and balance board will provide enough choices.

And instead of resistance bands — I’ve invested in a pedometer.

2 problems — 2 patches.

And I’ve got a well-organized kitchen where I can hopefully compose meals that don’t require cast iron or other heavy pots and pans, or heavy lifting of any kinds.  I can’t stir a pot constantly (hardly at all,) so I am experimenting with my bread machine, rice machine, slow cooker, microwave, counter-top grill, and pressure cooker.

I’m sure more problems will appear — and more fixes will be required.

So I’m going to keep new recipes here.  I’m going to talk about Wii games and exercise available to those of us with seriously degenerating joints.

And if I can put it all into words, I’m going to talk about outrageous parenting and my own lack of ambition, independent thought, and self-direction when I was young.

What I know for sure is that there’s a lot of crap and nonsense floating out there on the airwaves and in cyberspace about weight, dieting, obesity, health, beauty, and self-image.  When I come across it — I’ll name it for the s#!t that it is and try to explain why it’s s%*t.

When I come across a useful tool, a good idea, a great recipe, or a clever idea about those same topics — I’ll post that here, too — and name it “treasure.”  (Or maybe I’ll call those things “Shinola” (which actually was a really useful thing, once upon a time, before popular culture cast it onto the dis-ambiguation heap.)

I don’t intend to weigh myself often.  In the end, my weight is not nearly as important as my health.  I’d like to re-start that momentum I had going a couple of years ago — but I’m a little older — and my metabolism has undoubtedly changed.  Those were very stressful months we’ve all lived through, (even more for others in our circle of friends) and so there is some repair to do.  There is also the chance that other joints besides those in my hands may begin to deteriorate as well – so we’ll see.

But I will post progress from time to time.  Milestones.  The round numbers.  The revelations that I haven’t gotten to yet.