living her best life…#21: the big 50

It’s been a decade and a half since I was there…the Big 50. 

Can’t even remember that it was more special than any other birthday. Other than going out for a nice dinner, birthdays have just been another day for which I’m glad to be alive.

Now if I’d been surrounded by special friends with whom I’d shared a history for decades, I might have done as Pat did. She celebrated the Big 50 …a few times. Not that she stopped aging at that point, like some choose to do when they’re 29.

Better than that. Pat rung in the Big 50…with girlfriends she’s known since the 4th and 6th grades. A truly amazing accomplishment!

 

Carla got the party started in March. Her husband and kids had a beautiful, intimate birthday party, with family and a few girlfriends. Sadly, her mom was in the hospital. Conflicted about that, her family assured her it was okay and they needed to celebrate. The party was at Miyako…a Japanese restaurant at the New Otani Hotel in Waikiki. At the Diamond Head end near the Natatorium, it was away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the strip. Wine flowed while the sun was setting. Picture postcard perfect. We had personalized menus from which to choose our entrees. The food, service, atmosphere and company were incredible. We even got grown-up “goody bags”…as though we were still kids…filled with a few of Carla’s favorite things, including cookies and wine.

As the night was winding down, Lei was already thinking…”Hmmm…I’m next…what can my husband do for my 50th???”

I looked at Jeri…pretty sure she and I were thinking the same thing…and asked “Were you planning a party for yourself?” Her reply “No. You?” “No.” We agreed Carla’s husband, Steve, had set the standard…and set it high. Damn him!

So Lei was next…in May. It was the four of us…Lei, Carla, Jeri and me…and Lei’s husband and son. We had a very nice dinner at Stage Restaurant in the Honolulu Design Center…part of the INspiration furniture store. The decor is funky, eclectic and just cool. Kinda like Lei. Each table was different. The chairs were different as were the lighting fixtures over each table. It was as though we were dining at tables staged for selling. (OK. As I was writing that I realized it was probably the idea for the restaurant…a little slow on the uptake here.) It also just struck me that while the restaurant was uber-modern…I ordered meatloaf! Seems “oxymoronic!” (Is that even a word?) Like Carla, Lei had gifts for us, including small cacti in porcelain bowls and blinged-out “Happy Pills” pill containers. What Lei said that night changed my attitude about turning 50. Not only was she celebrating her 50th, but she was also celebrating the fact that she made it to 50. You see, Lei is a cancer survivor. (She had worn a wig when she was one of my bridesmaids more than 20 years ago.)

The pressure was on. Jeri’s birthday was coming up in August and we had to celebrate it! Her birthday dinner was comfortable and casual, just like her. She invited just the three of us…no husband, no kids…to dinner at Assagio Bistro in Kahala. It serves really good Italian food in a nice setting, where you can choose to dress up or not. Pasta…bread…seafood…bread…wine…and more bread. Can you tell? I really liked the bread! I’m sure we had dessert. We always do. I just can’t remember what it was. Like Carla and Lei, Jeri gave each of us a gift…Godiva chocolates! One of her favorite things.

September rolled around and now it was my turn. I wanted to go somewhere nice, but not too fancy. I didn’t want to hassle with traffic or parking. So I invited my girlfriends to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Le Bistro, in Niu Valley. Again, it was just the four of us. I had half-heartedly invited Brad and Ethan realizing they wouldn’t want to join the girls. (Do you remember this place? That’s where we had dinner the last time you and your family were visiting. Remember how it was elegant, yet casual…with the waiters wearing jeans and white shirts?) I don’t remember what I ate other than induging in the foie gras…as I had when we dined there. I do know whatever I ate was delicious…it always is. The waiters served us complimentary birthday creme brulee and sang “Happy Birthday” to me. My gifts to my friends was a box of chocolate dipped strawberries and apples. Yummmmm…

In early December, I thought it was too bad Lesly wasn’t here to celebrate her birthday. She lives in Sacramento. Then I decided that we could celebrate for her. So we did! It was pretty last minute so it was just three of us…Jeri, Lei and me. Carla wasn’t able to join us. We told Lesly what we were doing and that we would call her. Since she was going to be at a function with her husband that night, we text her and sent pics instead. We raised our wine glasses, toasting Lesly’s 50th at Roy’s in Hawaii Kai. I remember I had fish (sea bass?) As much as I wanted to savor every morsel I had difficulty eating it because of my swollen tongue. Ethan got most of it in a “doggy bag.” I did manage dessert, however! We ordered not one, but two, melting, dark chocolate souffles with vanilla ice cream. One would not have sufficed for the three of us. Our waitress was great. She had the pastry chef write “Happy Birthday, Lesly” in chocolate on the plate. There was even a party hat on the table. Can’t remember who brought it along. (Was it there? Or did Jeri bring it?) Anyway, we took pictures of everything and texted our best wishes to Lesly all the way in Sacramento.

…good friends are like family…pat, carla, jeri, lei, lesly…

This piece is kinda long and personal…meaning no one else will really care…so I don’t know if you’ll blog about it. I wrote it because I don’t want to forget what happened. I’m sending it to you since you are the “keeper of my musings.” I also sent it to my girlfriends because it’s about them. I’ve known them all since either the 4th or 6th grade. These are the friends I include in updates I send to the family…because that’s what they are to me.

…ohana…the aloha spirit in action.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

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lose 45 pounds!!!

Last night I went to a company function with my husband. Among the usual attendees was Paul, someone I consider a good friend even though we seldom see one another. It’s just that the sight of him and his wife puts me completely at ease.

I think Paul likes when I remark on his weight loss. To date it’s an astonishing 45 pounds! How did he do it?

Juice Machine with Fruit

Juicing!

When I see Paul I’m convinced hubby and I should take to juicing. However when we’re back in the comfort of our home, reality sets in.

A diet consisting mostly of juice? Not my idea of a square meal…long term.

I’ve done Weight Watchers (3 times)…as well as the Perricone Diet…and more recently, the Zone Diet. All make good on their claims. It’s the thought of sticking to them for the rest of my life, where I go my own way.

The upside for me is that I retain a lot of good information from all these diets.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers (Photo credit: petit zozio)

Weight Watchers got me to drink 8 glasses of water…more or less. It also made me realize that exercise alone does not guarantee weight loss. Dieting has to be part of the equation.

The Perricone Diet, conceived by NYC dermatologist Dr. Perricone, confirmed the long-held belief…garbage in…garbage out. What we eat is reflected in how we look. While my appearance benefited from the diet, I really did it to “cure” arthritic inflammation. It worked! But I didn’t much care for eating rabbit food all the time.

My husband and I shed pounds slowly, but steadily, while on the Zone Diet for several weeks. We felt more energized. My health issues faded into the background. I literally jumped…well maybe not jumped, more like leaped…out of bed at a normal hour. I remarked on how my husband seemed longer, as if he’d spent some time on a rack, being stretched to his full 5’11”. We felt younger; we looked younger.

And then Hawaii happened. We flew back for my mother-in-law’s funeral,Hawaii Pictures Kelly's Wedding 011 and to spend time with family.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Broadway in ...

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Broadway in the upper 40s, 1979. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve always thought that were I still living in the land of my birth, I’d have ballooned to the size of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon. That’s how much I love the island food.

Loco moco, Hawaii's well-known food, at Nico's...

Loco moco, Hawaii’s well-known food, at Nico’s Restuarant at Pier 38 in Honolulu: two fried eggs over two exquisite hamburger patties, two scoops rice, gravy, macaroni salad and boiled soba noodles (with cinnamon and nutmeg). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plate lunches are commonplace in the islands. And they’re not just for lunch. They can be had any time of day…24 hours a day…7 days a week. They consist of meat…1 type or several…2 scoops of white rice…and a scoop or two of macaroni salad.

I’m salivating as I write this.

I would find it difficult to refrain from eating a plate lunch at least once a day. The scale would more than likely reflect the number of days I’d eaten plate lunches…365. I kid you not!

Perhaps over time I’d realize that my beloved island food wasn’t going to go anywhere. That I’d be able to have more of the same the next day…and the next…and the next. By then, the damage might be done. I’d become a blimp. And letting the air out would be way more difficult than…letting it in.

At the moment I’m on a hodge podge diet of sorts. The driving force behind it is the recent discovery of my sensitivity to certain foods.

If you ever tried eliminating gluten and eggs from your diet, you know the quandry I’m in.

My solution? Sometimes I pay heed; sometimes I throw caution to the wind. I’m sure the Naturopath won’t want to hear this.

I try to follow the basics of the diets I’ve attempted.

Drink plenty of water…I try.

Drink green tea daily…no problem.

Refrain from sugar in all its forms…I try.

Eat more fruits and veggies…especially the orange and green kinds…I try.

Take the supplements prescribed by my Naturopath…I try.

Keep my body moving…no problem except when it comes to a regimen of exercising…I try.

weight watchers

weight watchers (Photo credit: antjeverena)

Thankfully I’ve been able to keep off the last 10 pounds I’ve lost, despite having “fallen off the wagon”…multiple times.

I’m now doing battle with the next 10 pounds…and they’re not going down without a fight.

Fortunately, or not so fortunately, old age is on my side. My metabolism ain’t what it use to be, and things just don’t work the way they used to. So it’s adjust, or be prepared for a good pummeling.

My advice? Subscribe to whatever works for you. If juicing jingles your bells…go for it.

English: Tanioka's Seafoods and Catering Image...

English: Tanioka’s Seafoods and Catering Image was taken by webmaster of Taniokas.com http://taniokas.com/lightplate.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…as for me…give me food i can chew…

………hugmamma.

common sense…business sense

As I was returning home from exercise class this morning, I overheard chef Tom Douglas, a Seattle fixture, speaking on NPR radio. He was in the midst of an interview with the station’s host.

_MG_9096

_MG_9096 (Photo credit: rwoan)

It was no surprise that the main discourse centered upon food, recipes and Douglas’ several restaurants, of which there are many…

Lola
Palace Kitchen
Dahlia Lounge
Dahlia Bakery
Etta’s
Serious Pie Downtown
Seatown
Brave Horse Tavern
Cuoco
Serious Biscuit
Serious Pie Westlake
Ting Momo

Douglas was also promoting his recently published…The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook.

While I did salivate at the mention of…flaky pie crusts piled high with homemade coconut cream filling…made-from-scratch whipped cream…soft, fluffy, buttery biscuits…it was Douglas’ talk about something else that I found most intriguing.

The news has been rife with talk about businesses that are planning to adopt drastic measures with regards to the Affordable Health Care Act, should President Obama win a second term. Among them…firing employees, or cutting hours so that full-time employees are made part-timers without benefits.

Chef Douglas spoke with disdain for a particular restaurant conglomerate that is opting for the part-time solution. The crime in this, as Douglas sees it, is that the conglomerate has just purchased a large chain of restaurants for $567 million…IN CASH!!!

A throwback to the good old days, Douglas places great value upon his employees. He takes pride in providing a workplace environment in which his workers are productive. And for their efforts, Douglas pays them well and provides them with good health insurance.

It was my sense, that how he managed his employees was a…no brainer. Interesting how some businessmen get it…and others haven’t a clue.

When asked how much his labor costs were, Douglas indicated it was 45% of his business. He went on to say that with revenues in the millions, he felt it was a fair price to pay. Douglas admitted to a thin margin of profit, but explained that it was enough for him to live well.

HHHEEELLLOOO???  Could we please clone this man…Chef Tom Douglas???

I’ve been to two of his restaurants, Etta’s and Dahlia. Having been enlightened about Douglas’ management practices, I plan to patronize his establishments more regularly.

Seattle chef Tom Douglas and staff in front of...

Seattle chef Tom Douglas and staff in front of his restaurant, the Dahlia Lounge, on Second Avenue in, Seattle, Washington, doing a sort of pre-Thanksgiving Day stunt of giving away food. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…we can make a difference…one decision at a time…

………hugmamma. 

weekly photo challenge: mine

Food…good food…is one of my weaknesses. If I have to put on calories…they’d better taste awesome. I don’t eat…bad calories. Not worth the weight gain. Following are samples of a few, very memorable samplings…all MINE!!! Tofu cheesecake…Nobu Restaurant, Honolulu, HawaiiEnglish breakfast…Heathrow Airport, London, EnglandThe Pig Restaurant…New Forest, Southhampton, EnglandCalico Cupboard Old Town Cafe and Bakery…Mt. Vernon, WashingtonHomemade…Hugmamma’s kitchen, Washington

…yummy! yummy! yummy!…mine! mine! mine!…

………hugmamma.   😆 

say what?…eat…what???

Offal Tacos

From time to time I’ll post an article of interest from The Wall Street Journal. Well, this is one of those times. I couldn’t regurgitate it if I tried. And believe me…I don’t want to try.

You might be more the gourmand than moi. Read on…

Smalahove

Smalahove (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Offal Tale: For This Club, Everything Is on the Menu
In New York City, ‘Innard Circle’ Samples Wide Range of Fare; ‘Always Terrific
by Spencer Jakab

     You’ll never be a member of the Innard Circle if the likes of brains in black butter, Uzbek boiled spleen or Fujianese pig heart make you squirm.
     Since 1999, an intrepid band of New York City foodies has been meeting about once a month to indulge their penchant for “nose to tail eating” in a city that provides great opportunity to do so. The city’s thousands of ethnic restaurants are constantly refreshed by new waves of immigrants, many of whose cultures serve animal parts that most Americans wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot fork.
     For the organ-lovers though, what really gets their goat–or pig or sheep or rabbit–is when a restaurant is out of a delicacy they traveled across town to sample.
     “I mean really, who eats bull’s penis before 7:00 p.m.? complained Bobby Ghosh at a May meeting, recounting a recent trip to a northern Chinese restaurant in Queens.
     They had to settle for the animal’s somewhat chewy testicles and a dish on the menu called “Big Buckstraps Paddywack.” The waitress, who only spoke Mandarin, pointed energetically to her diaphragm when asked what they were eating. Mr. Ghosh said. That was as close as the group got to discerning what part of the animal it was.
     It was tough but tasty, they say.
     Mr. Ghosh, originally from Bengal in northeastern India, was Time Magazine‘s Baghdad bureau chief for five years and worked in Hong Kong–both places where he sampled a wide range of food. Always seeking variety, different types of meat began to taste more or less the same to him.
     “But a camel’s eyeball is way different from a goat’s eyeball,” he said.
     Digging in to a five-course meal of organ meats specially prepared for the group by Umbrian chef Sandro Fioriti at his Upper East Side eatery Sandro’s, journalist Daniel Okrent, one of the group’s founders, tries to explain what attracts him to innards.
     “Growing up, I was a very picky eater,” he said. But his wife Becky, a food critic and a member, introduced him to what’s known as the “fifth quarter” of the animal and he’s never looked back.
     “There’s no question there’s an element of showing off, but it’s great food,” he said, between bites of brain, kidney, intestines and sweetbreads with polenta.
     Though he has had many memorable meals with the group in New York–and who wouldn’t remember the likes of “crispy colorectal,” North Korean jellied tripe or a central Asian organ melange called “geez-beez”–he says the pinnacle of his offal-eating days came in the 1990’s during a trip to Italy. An old restaurant near Rome’s stockyards served him rigatoni alla pajata–the intestines of a freshly-slaughtered nursing calf still containing the curdled milk of its mother.
     “Does that gross you out?” asked Melissa Easton, an industrial designer and the group’s unofficial “organ”-izer.
     A shrug brings a nod of approval, as if having passed a squeamishness test. Many haven’t.
     “We’ve had people join us for a single meal and never come back, without explanation,” Ms. Easton said. “There’s a certain kind of discomfort that registers on their face when they realize what they’ve gotten into.”
     No wonder the late Calvin Schwabe’s 1979 book on Americans’ disdain for foods that he called “cheap, nutritious and good to eat” is titled

Cover of

Cover of Unmentionable Cuisine

Unmentionable Cuisine.” He chalked it up to “prejudice or ignorance.”
     It is no accident that the Innard Circle, which has about a dozen steady members, isn’t only a well-traveled group but, with journalists, authors and a book publisher, a well-read one too. After all, the most famous organ-eater of all time is the character Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s  novel Ulysses. Bloom “ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods’ roes.”
     Ms. Easton, like most members, struggles to come up with the oddest thing she has eatern because it all seems normal to her and usually delicious. The best thing she has had is seared calf liver sashimi at a Japanese place in the West Village.
     Jeannette Seaver, a publisher and author of four cookbooks, joined the group a decade ago because of her love for her native French food.
     “Our cuisine offers many succulent dishes made of innards, so it seemed right for me to be part of the group,” she says. “The food is daring, challenging at times, but always terrific.”
     The group, which is also known as Organ Grinders, finds plenty of humor in the foods. Fond of puns, the word “offal” is particularly ripe for abuse. The word’s English etymology speaks volumes about Anglo-Saxon disdain for organs. With origins in the 14th century, it is thought to refer to the “off-fall” from the butcher’s block, meaning the less desirable parts.
     Some members’ attraction to offal stems from their disdain for Western squeamishness and wastefulness.
     “This isn’t weird–it’s perfectly normal for lots of people around the world,” said criminologist Leonid Lantsman between mouthfuls of spicy duck tongue and braised goose intestine at a June meeting of the club at Chinatown eatery Rong Hang. “If more people ate entrails and offal then we wouldn’t waste so much food.”
     The seven-course meal began with duck kidney, before moving on to more hard-core offerings: beef large intestine in Fujianese red wine paste and pig stomach. The somewhat lighter frog’s legs and pig skin hot and sour soup followed and then gave way to a couple of exotic but non-organ offerings.
     “Watch out everyone–there’s no offal in this one!” joked Robert Sietsema, a food critic at the Village Voice, as a seafood dish was placed on the table.
     The one organ the group has yet to sample, despite it being a delicacy for some ethnic groups, is uterus.
     “I guess it’s more of a home-cooked thing,” said Ms. Easton.
     But she would eat it in a heartbeat.
     “Am I missing some part of my brain–the part that screams revulsion? Perhaps. In fact, very likely.”

 

Roast Pork and offal on rice AUD11.50 - City B...

Roast Pork and offal on rice AUD11.50 – City BBQ 鸿运 (Photo credit: avlxyz)

Now I ask you…aren’t you just going to rush right out and get yourself…some innards?

Growing up on the island of Maui, and being of Hawaiian descent, I did partake of ancestral foods at festive celebrations known as…luaus. At the time I was so caught up in the deliciousness of things our family did not regularly eat, largely owing to our near-impoverished status.  A greenish, pea soup looking dish was pretty tasty, until I learned it was made from pig’s intestines. Blood sausage…was just that. I never cottoned to it.

My mom, a native Hawaiian, drooled  over tripe stew, pig’s feet, turtle soup, taro patch snails, sea urchin…and who knows what else. I’m certain my father, of Chinese ancestry, had his peculiar tastes as well. Somehow their taste buds never made it down to me…their 9th child together.

…can’t say i’m sorry…that i feel i missed out or something…   😦

………hugmamma.

64 years later…???

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wasn’t there when he was pulled from his warm, inner sanctum screaming at the top of his newborn lungs. And for obvious reasons. I was probably just a thought away from conception myself. Funny, how 2 infants, complete strangers at birth, are  inseparable soulmates 42 years after tying the knot. From umbilical cords to marital ties, a quantum leap…taken…one step at a time.

Faced with the conundrum of celebrating yet another birthday, I happened to mention it to my hairdresser Zorianna. We’re best buds, having my “crowning glory,” my hair, in common.

“I’ve no clue what to do for my husband’s birthday. After 42 years, what can I give him that he’ll really like. Men aren’t really into chachkas like we are.”

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

Candles spell out the traditional English birthday greeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To which Zorianna brilliantly responded, “You should take him to the iPic Theatre in Redmond Town Center!” Thanks to her, hubby and I had a fantastic date night on his birthday.

Prior to the movie, we snacked on seared ahi tuna atop won ton chips. While I sipped on a delicate blackberry mojito, the birthday boy guzzled a tall glass of a real man’s beverage…beer. A half-an-hour later we made our way to our plush, reclining seats. Yep! You read right. We were going to lie down in public to watch Men in Black III in 3-D! And like the Greeks and Romans before us, we were going to be further wined and dined…lying astride our couches…underlings running back and forth to do our bidding. Well, not quite…

Eating our Angus sliders and truffle french-fries in the dark was a trick. Trying not to dribble ketchup down our fronts was impossible for my husband. He remarked a couple of times “I shouldn’t have worn this shirt.” It was comfy…but white.

Struggling to add cream and sugar to my coffee in the dark without spilling it on my lap was a juggling act I thought I’d lose. You see the cup’s cover was not giving up its grip without a struggle. Me and the plastic cover battling it out in the dark, while Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones were duking it out with gross-looking aliens on the big screen. I could appreciate what they were going through.

An hour into the film, I think hubby and I both nodded off. I don’t think we snored. At least I hope not. Thankfully, I’d selected 2 seats with aisles on either side which put some distance between us and our neighbors.

Not being a fan of the Men in Black films myself, I thought this, its third, was pretty good. The story line was a little sentimental, to my liking. The action was fun, without being loaded down with a lot of blood and gore. What there was of it was more corn than protein. Albeit at times it was both…corny and cheesy. 

We decided, hubby and I, that as a destination iPic is a once-in-awhile luxury. Twenty-two dollars a pop for each member is fine in small doses, as is the decadence of dining on gourmet food while covered with a light blanket. Comfy, cozy…but more preferable…

…in the comfort of our home…and on my wonderful…memory foam mattress…aaahhh…

………hugmamma.  😉     

New luxurious movie theater coming to Redmondof course…we didn’t have to recline…but hey, when in rome…  😉

righting…a wrong

A couple of Wall Street Journal articles caught my attention because they reminded me of my heritage, Chinese and Hawaiian. In both cases the news was good. The first was reported from Hong Kong, where my father had been born. And that is the article about which I’m writing now.

English: whole-shaped Shark fin Stew, Chinese ...

Image via Wikipedia

“Ban on Shark Fin Soup Advances Through Asia was something that needed to happen…long before now. That sharks are caught, their fins hacked off and their writhing bodies tossed back into the ocean is the height of human arrogance in my estimation.

As a child I refused to eat shark fin soup as a guest at a Chinese restaurant. Consuming any part of a shark was pretty scary then. When we had occasion to dine out, our family enjoyed egg noodle or won ton soup. It was more our style and more befitting my mom’s pocketbook. According to Jason Chow, the article’s author, “Shark fin, which can cost up to $400 a pound in Hong Kong, is traditionally served as a soup and is seen as a status symbol in Chinese culture, revered for its supposed powers to enhance sexual potency and skin quality.”

Island Shangri-La Hotel 香格里拉酒店
Image via Wikipedia

A major supporter of the ban is the luxury Shangri-La hotel chain, which refuses to serve shark fin in all of its 72 hotels. Shangri-La Asia Ltd. has been at the forefront of the surging opposition which environmental and animal-rights groups have long championed. In December 2010 the hotel continued to serve shark fin soup upon request, but as of this week the ingredient has been banned altogether. According to Maria Khun, director of communications at the Shangri-La in Hong Kong, ” ‘the feedback…has been phenomenally positive…in the long term, the ban won’t have an effect on business.’ ”

Joining the efforts to bring a halt to hunting and trading the endangered fish are The Peninsula Hotels, whose ban preceded the Shangri-La’s.
     “The Peninsula said that before its ban, more than nine-tenths of its
     Chinese banquets at its Hong Kong hotel served shark fin. The hotel
     said its banquet business hasn’t suffered since the ban was announced.” 

 
Hong Kong harbour and Kowloon from the Island ...

Image via Wikipedia

Singapore retailers FairPrice, Carrefour and ColdStorage have also halted the sale of shark fin in their Hong Kong outlets. Chinese restaurant chain South Beauty has also climbed aboard by removing the soup from its menus. Within the U.S., legislation has been enacted banning the trade, sale and possession of shark fin in Hawaii, California, Washington and Oregon.

Bucking the trend is “Sun Tong Lok, a high-end restaurant in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district that is renowned for its shark fin soup–the dish can cost up to $390 for a tureen that contains a 500-gram (1.1 pound) fin–there are no plans to take it off the menu.”

I shudder to think what sharks would do to humans if the roles were reversed…in a topsy-turvy world.

English: NOAA agent counting confiscated shark...

Image via Wikipedia

…could you blame them?…

………hugmamma.

a little of this…a little of that…

Haven’t shared trivia with you in sometime. Thought you might be interested in the following regurgitated facts from experts in the field.

…from www.fsis.usda.gov: I was surprised to learn that what I thought would cause food poisoning insofar as perishable items are concerned, was incorrect. Mayonnaise may not be the culprit, but protein sources might. 

best egg salad sandwich ever, flying star, Alb...

Image via Wikipedia

Can mayonnaise in egg salad make you sick when it’s warm out? Karen ( the virtual food safety rep) says people often think mayo is the cause of foodborne illness from chilled foods such as chicken, tuna and egg salad or on deli-styled sandwiches. But since mayonnaise is made with acid (vinegar or lemon juice), it tends to prevent bacterial growth. Usually it’s the meat, poultry, fish or eggs in a sandwich left unrefrigerated for more than two hours that becomes the medium for bacteria to grow.

What about leftover fried chicken? According to Karen, food left out of the fridge for more than two hours may not be safe to eat. At temperatures above 90 F, food shouldn’t be left out for more than an hour. If you have any doubts, throw it out.

When you’ll be in the great outdoors and a cooler chest isn’t an option, Karen suggests packing such items as fruits, vegetables, hard cheeses, dried meats, dried cereal, bread, peanut butter, crackers and bottled drinks. 

…from Jackie Keller (nutrition expert/licensed and certified wellness coach: Debunks popular myths.

My Weight Loss Coach

Image via Wikipedia

Myth: Detox diets jump-start weight loss. I advise against detox diets, as they can cause the body to go into starvation mode and slow down the metabolism. If you want to cleanse your body, eliminate bad-for-you, processed foods and replace them with nutrient-dense foods.

Myth: Cutting carbs will help the pounds come off. The weight loss that low-carb dieters achieve in the first two weeks of carbohhydrate deprivation is measurable and not surprising. Carb-cutting will cause the body to shed water weight, as carbohydrates are stored in the body with water. That water weight will come right back on, and such a yo-yo weight loss is counterproductive and bad for overall metabolism.

Myth: Fat is the enemy. Research shows that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats–which are found in foods such as fish, olive oil, avocados and walnuts–can actually improve levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce the risk of heart disease. These healthy fats can aid in weight loss and even delay hunger pangs when consumed in appropriate amounts.

…from David Horowitz (leading consumer advocate) @ www.fightback.com: Warns against scams. In my February 27, 2011 post, “ever have one of those years…?” I talked about the first one. So trust me! It can happen to you.

McAfee
Image by biggraham via Flickr

A message flashes on your computer screen: “Warning! Your system requires immediate anti-virus scan.” A free scan is offered. What do you do?
This incredibly common scam is almost guaranteed to occur as you use your PC. Upon first look, it would appear that clicking “No thanks” would be the right solution. Wrong. Clicking anywhere in the on-screen alert can open the program further or direct you to a website you have no interest in going to. Worse, clicking anywhere in the on-screen alert can instantly infect your computer with a virus that can be difficult or even impossible to remove. (It cost me $199 to have Tech Pros remove it.)

The solution is to hold down the Control and Alt keys and hit “Delete.” Once the application tab pops up, select “End Task,” then do a full scan of your computer with the anti-virus software you already have. (That’s exactly what the expert at Tech Pros told me…after I paid the $199.)

You are in financial trouble, and as a result your credit is suffering. You have been approached by a variety of services offering to repair your credit. What do you do?
Although many companies offer to repair damaged credit, it can be difficult to tell which are legitimate. The most common scam involves a company advising you to stop paying your creditors and deposit money into a special account instead. In reality, the debt-settlement company withdraws fees from your account for “services,” long before it negotiates with your creditors, if it negotiates at all.

If these companies send you an unsolicited email or advertise on the radio touting a stellar track record, it may be a scam. Stick with a legitimate nonprofit counseling outlet with an established track record, and always try to negotiate directly with your creditors first.

Ebay Explained 2006 (KLCC)

Image by liewcf via Flickr

You have made an online purchase and the item never arrives, or the item is not what you thought you were buying. What do you do? 
If you made the purchase from a reliable company, review the return policy and keep all receipts once you ship the items back. …However, if you made the purchase through a third-party entity on a website such as craigslist or eBay, the solution can be  bit more complicated.

Eiko's credit card

Image by eikootje via Flickr

Look for telltale signs of a scam before charging your credit card. For example, buying tickets can be risky, as scammers often change one digit in the theater address or the ticket number, tricking you into buying tickets you think are real, only to be told they are fake once you try to enter an event.

Beware of merchants who provide you with only a cellphone number; they do this because cellphones can’t always be tracked. Look out for sellers who ask you to wire money, retail websites that don’t list an address or a phone number, and companies that don’t have much of a presence or any reviews online. These likely are scams.

…more than enough…to contemplate…hugmamma.

where were you…

…when Diana, the Princess of Wales died? I can only think of one other person for whom that question has been asked…John F. Kennedy, our President. I know I was in school when he died, because classes were suspended. Instead we all walked to church to pray for him. In Diana’s case I think I was asleep, and learned with disbelief, about her death early the next morning.

Unlike President Kennedy‘s death of which so much has been written, documented, and analyzed in books and on TV shows, Diana’s death has been treated more gingerly it seems, at least here in the U.S. Either that, or I didn’t bother to read about it in the tabloid magazines because of their tendency to sensationalize the facts to make a profit. I didn’t set out to learn about them even now, they just fell into my lap, by way of Sarah Bradford’s Diana – Finally, The Complete Story

I chose to share this with you because as in life, in death Diana’s beauty remained intact. Her serene appearance belied the inner damage that resulted from the horrific car accident.

It took almost an hour to free Diana from the wrecked car. She appeared to her rescuers to be the least injured of the four: only a slight trickle of blood from mouth and nose indicated that anything was wrong. Yet her internal injuries were life- threatening. After the initial impact the Mercedes had spun away, rotating at high speed before crashing into the tunnel wall on the right. At the first impact Dodi and Diana had been thrown violently forward against the backs of the front seats (not having worn their seat belts), then the rotation of the car had flung them around against the interior. When the Mercedes finally stopped, pointing back towards the mouth of the tunnel, Diana was slumped on the floor, against the back of Rees-Jones‘s seat, facing down the tunnel. Her legs were twisted, one under her, the other on the seat. With her eyes closed and her face undamaged apart from a cut on her forehead, she looked beautiful and as if she were asleep. But the shock of the impact and deceleration on her body had displaced her heart from the left to the right side, severing the pulmonary vein and rupturing the pericardium (the protective sac round the heart), flooding her chest cavity with blood. …

Photo of the Chapel at the Pitié-Salpêtrière H...

Image via Wikipedia

Yet to the first doctor on the scene, Frederic Mailliez, who had been driving through the tunnel in the opposite direction, she ‘looked pretty fine…I thought this woman had a chance.’ He put an oxygen mask over her face while attempting to clear her air passages. When the ambulance arrived, Dr. Jan-Marc Martino, a surgical anesthetist and resuscitation specialist, worked on Diana. Before they could transfer her to the ambulance, she suffered a heart attack. She was given cardiac massage and a respiratory tube was inserted into her mouth. Then she was lifted on to a stretcher and placed in the ambulance which crawled its way with a police escort to La Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, stopping once on the way as Diana’s blood pressure dropped to a dangerous level. She was put on a ventilator. ‘She was unconscious and under artificial respiration. Her arterial blood pressure was very low but her heart was still beating. X-rays revealed the horrific state of her internal injuries and afterwards she suffered a second heart attack. An incision in her chest revealed that bleeding was coming through a hole in the membrane round her heart and later that her superior left pulmonary vein was torn. Adrenalin was administered and cardiac massage kept her heart going but only just; there was no independent rhythm. Diana was to all intents and purposes already beyond help. Electric-shock therapy was administered, to no effect. At 4 a.m. (3 a.m. British time) on the morning of 31 August, she was pronounced dead.

Charles, Prince of Wales outside the White Hou...

Image via Wikipedia

And while it was rumored at the time that Diana allegedly spoke a few words to Prince Charles, that was obviously not the case. “When Prince Charles and Diana’s sisters arrived in Paris, they found Diana looking serene and composed in death, wearing Lady Jay’s black cocktail dress and shoes, her hair freshly blow-dried, the rosary which Mother Teresa had given her in her hand. After Charles and her sisters had spent time alone with her, she was placed in a coffin for the return journey.” 

According to those who accompanied the hearse through the streets of Paris, there was an outpouring of support for the People’s Princess.

‘They do it differently in Paris–they applaud. With the coffin, Prince Charles, the President, millions of police by now,…and the vicar (the Rev. Martin Draper), the whole of Paris was applauding…

Sadly Diana’s body was not received with the same honor bestowed upon it by the Parisians and the British masses, when it came to rest in the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace. Good friend, and the woman thought to have been most like a mother to the princess, Lucia Flecha de Lima flew from the U.S., where she lived, to London, upon learning of Diana’s death. To her amazement the coffin lay “…in lonely state, without flowers.”

Flowers for Princess Diana's Funeral

Image by Maxwell Hamilton via Flickr

‘The first day when I arrived at the chapel there was not one single flower on her coffin. Then I said to the chaplain that if he didn’t allow flowers in, I would throw open the doors of the chapel so everyone could see her there without a single flower and all the flowers outside that people had brought. I said, “Tomorrow I’ll come back with my flowers for her.” And I came every day. And from then on I brought flowers, not only mine but from friends and people who knew her. And I went to a flower van outside the Michelin restaurant (Bibendum in the Fulham Road) and he said: “What are they for?” And I told him, and every day after that he insisted I take flowers to her for nothing…’ ‘And they (the flowers) were around her, over her coffin representing the flowers of the world, and I said to Prince Charles, “These flowers represent the people, thousands and millions of flowers all around the world that people want to give to Princess Diana.” I’ve never felt like that in my life. I have experienced personal loss…but the public’s reaction was extraordinary…’

 One other item mentioned in Bradford’s book caught my attention. While Queen Elizabeth seemingly struggled with her decision to recognize Diana’s death with the pomp and circumstance demanded by the people, personally she too had to deal with the passing of her former daughter-in-law, the mother of the queen’s beloved grand-children. Bradford wrote of Dickie Arbiter, the most experienced of royal officers who had worked for the Waleses before their divorce,

The coffin passing through one of the streets.

Image via Wikipedia

Contrary to public perception, the Queen was, Arbiter said, ‘very grief-stricken’ by Diana’s death. ‘On the day of the funeral when the Royal Family came out of Buckingham Palace as the gun carriage carrying Diana’s coffin passed, the Queen bowed. And the only other time that the Queen bows is at the Cenotaph.’

…there are the rumors…there are the myths…and then there’s…the truth…hugmamma.

Rose, Diana Princess of Wales

Image by nekonomania via Flickr

…princess diana…england’s rose…

 

Diana, Princess of Wales, at the Cannes film f...

Image via Wikipedia

 

getting my mojo back…with love letters

It doesn’t take long to settle into the rut that is my life. I say that with my usual tongue-in-cheek humor. But after the last few weeks of unexpected twists and turns, I’m glad to be doing the same old, same old. There’s comfort and bountiful pleasure in just being able to muddle along…contentedly. Small things mean a lot at this stage of my life.

Cover of

Cover of Elvis in the Twilight of Memory

Half-Price Books at Crossroads Mall is where my eyeballs become the size of saucers. You know, cups and saucers. The biography section being my favorite. It’s always inevitable that a title or two or three will beckon me to buy, and I usually do. Books about celebs from the Golden Age of Hollywood, or singers whose songs got my foot tapping or my heart beating, or historical figures who let their guard down, always get my attention. Skimming the jacket covers I decide if, in fact, they’re worth my time and money. The titles I brought home tonight? Herbert G. Goldman’s Fanny Brice – The Original Funny Girl, Paul Alexander’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams – The Life, Times, and legend of James Dean, Elvis – in the twilight of memory by teenage girlfriend June Juanico, The Bluebird Cafe Scrapbook – Music & Memories from Nashville’s Legendary Singer-Songwriter Showcase edited by Amy Kurland, Mark Benner & Neil Fagan, and I Love You, Ronnie – The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan.

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

If you’re a regular to hugmamma’s mind, body and soul, you already know you’ll probably be reading a review of one or more of the above-mentioned books. But the one that most impressed me tonight was the slim paperback containing Reagan’s love letters to his wife, Nancy.

Unlike most of America it seems, I was more enthralled with Ronald Reagan the actor than Ronald Reagan the president. Not that I didn’t think he was fine, but after all he was a Republican, not necessarily my brand of politician, although I might’ve voted for him. Neither was I a huge fan of Nancy Davis, preferring Jane Wyman, the first Mrs. Reagan. But all this is ancient history, as they say. What was obvious then, and now, is how devoted the Reagans were to one another. That’s why I was intrigued by the book of letters. Following are 3 of the many contained therein.

July 13 (1954)…a.m.

My Darling
     The first day of shooting and like all first days I can’t tell you good bad or indifferent. Everything is hectic and upset what with the truck caravan arriving from L.A. in the dark last night. Most of the morning was spent getting the trucks unloaded and the equipment straightened out. Ben. B. is on hand so things can really get buggered up. I think Alan D. is trying to get some of the story holes plugged and this morning changed one scene “a la” a suggestion from “guess who.” However, our opposition is B.B. himself so I only whisper in an off-ear and let them fight it out. So far “Lady S.” is no help–taking the attitude of “who cares in these kinds of pictures.”
     However there is one golden glow warming my soul in this first sunset–I’m twenty-four hours closer to you. Last night was another one of those nights–just too beautiful to stand. So tonight I’ll probably be looking at the Moon which means I’ll be looking at you–literally and figuratively because it lays far to the South of this mountain top and that’s where you are. That takes care of the “literal” part–the “figurative” part requires no direction, I just see you in all the beauty there is because in you I’ve found all the beauty in my life.
     Please be careful and don’t get too good at covering your own shoulder at night–I’d miss doing it. Be careful in every other way too–nothing would have meaning without you.
     Now if two “Muffins” I know will exchange a kiss for me–my good night will have been said.

I love you
Ronnie

Newlyweds Ronald and Nancy Reagan, March 4, 1952

Image via Wikipedia

Feb. 14 (1960)

Darling Mommie Poo
     Feb. 14 may be the date they observe and call Valentine’s Day but that is for people of only ordinary luck.
     I happen to have a “Valentine Life” which started on March 4 1952 and will continue as long as I have you.
     Therefore realizing the importance of this to me, will you be my Valentine from now on and for ever and ever? You see my choice is limited, a Valentine Life or no life because I love you very much.

Poppa

According to Nancy Reagan “The assassination attempt made us realize how very precious our lives were. It made us all the more devoted to each other. I think this comes through very strongly in Ronnie’s Christmas letter of 1981, written nine months after the shooting.”

The White House
Washington

Dec. 25 1981

Nancy Reagan says her last goodbyes to the pre...

Image via Wikipedia

Mrs. Reagan 2

Image via Wikipedia

Dear Mrs. R.
     I still don’t feel right about your opening an envelope instead of a gift package.
     There are several much beloved women in my life and on Christmas I should be giving them gold, precious stones, perfume, furs and lace. I know that even the best of these would still fall far short of expressing how much these several women mean to me and how empty my life would be without them.
     There is of course my “First Lady.” She brings so much grace and charm to whatever she does that even stuffy, formal functions sparkle and turn into fun times. Everything is done with class. All I have to do is wash up and show up.
     There is another woman in my life who does things I don’t always get to see but I hear about them and sometimes see photos of her doing them. She takes an abandoned child in her arms on a hospital visit. The look on her face only the Madonna could match. The look on the child’s face is one of adoration. I know because I adore her too.
     She bends over a wheelchair or bed to touch an elderly invalid with tenderness and compassion just as she fills my life with warmth and love.
     There is another gal I love who is a nest builder. If she were stuck three days in a hotel room she’d manage to make it home sweet home. She moves things around–looks at it–straightens this and that and you wonder why it wasn’t that way in the first place.
     I’m also crazy about the girl who goes to the ranch with me. If we’re tidying up the woods she’s a peewee power house at pushing over dead trees. She’s a wonderful person to sit by the fire with, or to ride with or just to be with when the sun goes down or the stars come out. If she ever stopped going to the ranch I’d stop too because I’d see her in every beauty spot there is and I couldn’t stand that.
     Then there is a sentimental lady I love whose eyes fill up so easily. On the other hand she loves to laugh and her laugh is like tinkling bells. I hear those bells and feel good all over even if I tell a joke she’s heard before.
     Fortunately all these women in my life are you–fortunately for me that is, for there could be no life for me without you. Browning asked; “How do I love thee–let me count the ways?” For me there is no way to count. I love the whole gang of you–Mommie, first lady, the sentimental you, the fun you and the peewee power house you.
     And oh yes, one other very special you–the little girl who takes a “nana” to bed in case she gets hungry in the night. I couldn’t & don’t sleep well if she isn’t there–so please always be there.

     Merry Christmas you all–with all my love.

Lucky me.

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

 I Love You, Ronnie should be required reading for men and boys everywhere. Maybe then both sexes would be from the same planet…Venus. Now I “get” the passion between Nancy and her Ronnie. Perhaps if this book had been published at the time he was president, onlookers wouldn’t have been so disparaging of her. But then again the naysayers would have probably faulted her for self-promotion had she made the letters known back then. Or worse, the couple might’ve been ridiculed for being more absorbed with one another than they were already viewed as being. Whatever the case may be, I’m glad Nancy Reagan gave us a peek inside her love affair with Ronald Reagan.

…always room for one more pair of star-crossed lovers…another Romeo and his Juliet…hugmamma.

no a/c, a stroke, and bedbugs…???

Red bedbug

So we finally come to the end of this tragi-comedy about bedbugs in my daughter’s apartment, the old one that is. Content with having secured a new place in the nick of time, my daughter felt extremely fortunate to have somewhere to go, leaving her unwelcome buddies behind. (Fingers xxxxx.) But just when things seemed to be going her way, the a/c in her new apartment went on the fritz…almost immediately.

Traveling west to be with my husband and me, my daughter missed the initial couple of weeks without a/c in her new digs. A couple of friends took turns trying to have repair people stop by to put more freeon in the old a/c unit. The excuse given by the company  who was referred by the apartment’s owner and landlord, was that the technician didn’t have a ladder long enough to get to the roof where the unit stood. When my daughter and I returned to her home, that was the same excuse given by a couple of other a/c servicers. In fact one technician who did come, left without even telling us he couldn’t do the job. Not until an hour-and-a-half slipped by without a knock at the front door, did my daughter learn after calling his company that he left because they don’t service that particular brand. Upon relaying this info to the landlord, he exclaimed that the company got the brand name wrong. He indicated he would try to track down another company through the insurance he had for repair services. My daughter also gave him the name of the company whose truck we had seen in the parking lot of the neighboring apartment house, the same day our disappearing a/c guy showed up. Those workers looked like they were diligently working to get some problem resolved, even in the sweltering 90+ temperatures. As it turned out, a couple of men from that company visited my daughter’s apartment later that afternoon.

Upon checking the interior part of the a/c unit in my daughter’s apartment, it was determined that there was a leak. After reporting this to the landlord, the company’s co-owner visited us the next day under orders to do whatever it took to fix the a/c. Because it was so old, the replacement part could only be gotten from a manufacturer in Texas. It wasn’t expected to arrive until the following Tuesday, so that the a/c couldn’t be fixed until Wednesday or Thursday. That meant several days of sweltering heat inside the apartment.

Happy that the a/c was going to be fixed, I didn’t calculate the hours we would have to suffer through the 90+ degrees even as we tried to sleep. I imagined with 5 fans blowing day and night we would manage. Was I ever wrong! One night is all it took to decide that my aging body was not up to the task. I awoke to find my hands and fingers, feet and toes swollen. The blood had rushed to the surface of my skin as if to escape the confinement. I’d never had to worry about high blood pressure before. But I was certain if I slept there another night, my pressure would be through the roof!

And that’s why we made the unlikely decision to bed down with the bedbugs, my daughter on the couch, me on the bed in the second bedroom. Because both had been treated, we hoped we wouldn’t make a hearty 9-course meal for any starving bedbugs. I think we willed ourselves not to scratch. 

My daughter’s new landlord must’ve “paid an arm and a leg” to repair the a/c. Besides it being an emergency repair with a new servicer, the necessary part had to be Fed Exed from out of state, and a crane was hired to haul the a/c from atop the apartment building so that it could be fixed on the ground and then put back in place. Added to that, the servicer had to repair the indoor unit which had been leaking the freeon. Why the a/c was installed atop the three-story building in the first place is unknown to us. I guess things were done differently in the 70s. But it was while my daughter and I were waiting for the a/c to be fixed that we got food poisoning. After that, everything else  became “background music.”

A Bed Bath and Beyond store in a shopping cent...

Image via Wikipedia

How did we manage to contract salmonella, you ask? Well on one of our outings to Bed, Bath and Beyond to secure new pillows and their corresponding bedbug resistant covers, we stopped to buy a few groceries on the way home. Remember, the temperatures were in the mid-90s. Deciding to eat a light, healthy lunch, we opted for a veggie platter. Not realizing that the included dip was probably turning rancid as we drove another 20 minutes home, we proceeded to chow down once there. With floor fans set to their highest levels, we munched away feeling the cool blasts on our faces and bodies. Mind you, the indoor temperature over the next several hours was also in the mid-90s. It’s my belief that we were ignorant to the fact that salmonella was probably making its way into our digestive tracts. My daughter’s case may have been slightly more severe since she also feasted on a dessert of chocolate pudding pie. Something we’d picked up from a nearby restaurant the day before, which served up real southern cooking, a haven for high cholesterol foods.

As I mentioned before, my daughter’s recovery from food poisoning went relatively smoothely. There were no residual effects, unlike my bout. While my vomiting and diarrhea ended, the nausea, queasiness, and mild dizziness persisted. I just didn’t feel 100%. A couple of times I was overcome by tears, so frustrated that I couldn’t attack the chores with the same gusto I’d had prior to being ill. The second time was when I heard my husband’s voice on the phone asking how we were. Bawling, I told him how much I missed him and couldn’t wait for him to arrive to assume control. My brains were “fried,” I told him.

I’d wanted to accomplish so much before my husband joined us. Because of the extreme heat and humidity I feared his asthma would flare up if he tried to do too much. I didn’t want him landing in the ER during his short, four day visit. I even contracted a private mover to transport my daughter’s large pieces of furniture from one apartment to another. The price was fair for the heavy lifting involved, and the 2 flights of stairs the men had to climb at her new place. My husband was immensely grateful for my last minute decision to hire someonelse. He’d forgotten how weighty the huge, glass bookcase was. Not one to drink bottles and bottles of water, my husband felt moving such massive furniture in the heat would have been very difficult for him. I also took pity on any male dancer friend of my daughter’s who had offered their services. I didn’t want their aches and pains or worse, broken bones, on my conscience.

Grateful for my husband’s contribution to our ongoing efforts to move stuff from storage to the old apartment, and then to the new apartment, I continued to deal with the lingering effects of food poisoning. It was distressing to have to stop what I was doing and rest until I felt better. I attempted to ignore what I was feeling, but wasn’t able to in the end. I had to give in, and go with what was happening. Such an occasion occurred while we were shopping for hardware at a local Lowe’s Hardware.

 

A typical Lowe's storefront in Santa Clara, Ca...

Image via Wikipedia

 

Walking up and down the aisles looking at storage paraphernalia, I felt lightheaded, as if I were about to faint. After a few more aisles, I nearly passed out. We decided to leave, my husband quickly making his purchases. He headed out to get the car so that he could pick me up at the exit. My family and I decided I should go to a nearby walk-in clinic.

Upon arrival at the clinic, I felt spacey. My husband and daughter each held an elbow as they escorted me inside where I immediately took a seat. My husband checked me in and filled out the necessary paperwork. When my name was called, my daughter accompanied me in to see the doctor. After waiting a short while, he appeared. After asking me questions, and listening to my replies, he asked me to follow his moving finger with my eyes. I did okay although I felt myself struggling a bit. The doctor then asked me to stand and walk towards him, which I did with some hesitation. After I sat down, he advised us that I might be having a stroke. I must admit, strokes never come to mind when I feel something might be awry. Heart attack, maybe. Stroke, never. And yet two of my brothers have had strokes, serious ones, from which they’ve thankfully recovered.

ER (TV series)

Image via Wikipedia

At the doctor’s insistence I went to the nearest ER. I think my husband and daughter were somewhat alarmed as we drove to the hospital near my daughter’s new apartment. I was going to the same ER I’d taken my daughter to in February, when she suffered from an unremitting migraine headache. I think I felt relieved that I might finally discover why I wasn’t “up to snuff.” I was really sick of feeling sick!

Unlike the lengthy wait my daughter had during her prior visit, I bypassed much of the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo because I was a possible stroke victim. It didn’t help when I burst into tears because I couldn’t remember what day it was when the receptionist asked me. I turned to my husband for help, crying as I asked him what day he’d arrived. Even as I lay on the hospital bed answering the doctor’s questions, I felt I had to will myself to relax, taking my time to mouthe the answers.

Treatment began with forcing fluids into me intravenously, along with a medicine for nausea. After that there was an EKG, cat scans of my brain, and abdomen (I’d felt a sharp pain when the doctor’s hand compressed my side), and a chest xray. I’d also given them a urine sample. Happily, all tests came back negative for a stroke, heart problem, appendicitis, or anythingelse. And by the time the fluids had made their way throughout my body, I was feeling much better. So in the end I was probably suffering extreme dehydration brought on by my bout of food poisoning, and possibly some heat exhaustion as well.

With my new lease on life, we finally settled our daughter into her new apartment, cleaned out the old one, assembled a treasure trove of stuff for her to cart off to Goodwill, and transported a nominal amount into her storage unit for safekeeping. The last 2 nights my husband and I were with her, my daughter and I were up Saturday until 4 a.m. putting things away. On Sunday my husband fell asleep on the air mattress (not the old one, but a new one) at 2 a.m. I remained up again with my daughter, laying down for just one hour before getting up to prepare myself for the trip home to Seattle. Grateful for all my husband and I had done, our daughter tumbled contentedly back into bed after our car drove away.  

I’m sure you’ll understand now why my daughter and I agree that “you should let the bedbugs bite.” It makes life a helluva lot easier that way…

 

Halloween Parade 2007: Bedbugs!

Image by LarimdaME via Flickr

 

you think?…hugmamma. 😉

cicadas, food poisoning, and bedbugs…???

Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy ...

Image via Wikipedia

It was like the plague of locusts as foretold by Moses to the Pharoah, if he did not allow the Hebrews to leave Egypt. Wouldn’t you know that at the time we needed to undertake my daughter’s move from one apartment to another, made monumental by having to sanitize everything first, the cicadas would have to rise from “dead?” Evidently before the adults die they bury their eggs in the ground at the foot of a tree, and they all hatch 13 years later.

When we lived in Connecticut more than a decade ago, it was somewhat charming to hear the cicadas chirping outside our bedroom window at night. But I was not prepared for their dive bombing antics while we attempted to move stuff in and out of both apartments and the storage unit. My daughter and I had to hope a cicada wouldn’t fly into our ears or mouths as we weaved in between their flight paths. Nor was it fun to try sidestepping their seemingly dead bodies which lay everywhere, in the parking lots, on the walkways, on stairs, and most definitely forming welcome mats outside the apartment doors. Some were dead; others would suddenly take flight scaring the bejesus out of us. Even as we removed bins and garbage bags filled with my daughter’s furnishings from her car, we were waving our arms frantically so the cicadas wouldn’t find their way inside. One did. I had to kill it because it kept trying to fly at me.

A pair of Greek cicadas

Image via Wikipedia

For a month or so, cicadas were everywhere, in town, in neighborhoods, at malls, at grocery stores, at restaurants…everywhere! The buggers crawled up sides of buildings, houses. They seemed to occupy every tree and bush. Bumping into one accidentally would ensure being bombarded by cicadas not keen on being disturbed. It was my theory that if there were breezes, the insects remained in trees, but since that was few and far between in the torrid mid-90 degree temperatures, the cicadas preferred to find respite on the cool concrete of nearby structures. So it became us against them, as to who had the right of way in the buildings. Their sheer numbers made them mightier it seemed. We could hear the lone shriek here and there as women, us included, came under attack.

Thankfully, the cicadas were taking their leave of earth toward the end of my stay. Their numbers seemed to be dwindling. Since I’ve been home, I’ve not heard my daughter speak of them anymore. But she has assured me she doesn’t plan to be living in that state 13 years from now. Know what? I’ve already told her she’ll have to get her next boyfriend to help her move, whoever he may be. I’ll definitely be too old to repeat this once-in-a-lifetime experience. She laughed; so did I. Hmmm…

I mentioned the heat. Unless you live in the south, you don’t know what hot is. While the warmth was a welcome relief from Seattle’s wintry climes, I felt like I’d gone to hell, bypassing more pleasant destinations like Hawaii or Florida. It was wonderful dressing in shorts and flip-flops every day. But feeling the need to take baths several times daily was not joyous. The heat was made even more unbearable by the equally high humidity. But riding high on adrenalin, my daughter and I were not deterred from our task. Until another predator came calling, an invisible one…salmonella.

 

Salmonella typhimurium invading cultured human...

 

I’ve had my fair share of food poisoning episodes over the course of my 61 years, none worse than when my daughter and I visited NYC years ago. She was enrolled in a summer dance program at a well-known performing arts high school near Lincoln Center. Unfortunately the name escapes me, it’s so famous. I jest. It really is. I think Broadway and Hollywood celebs have attended it. Anyway…I took my daughter and a fellow student dancer to dinner at a local Italian restaurant. The food and conversation was great. As I downed forkfuls of one of my favorite desserts, a cannoli, it seemed the ricotta cheese filling was runny. It seemed odd, but I didn’t stop eating it. Huge mistake for which I paid dearly hours later.

Rather than spending the night in bed, I was in the bathroom relieving myself of every last drop of that rancid cannoli. Finding no reprieve I finally had to call a taxi to take me to the nearest ER. Vomiting blood scared me into leaving my daughter alone in a hotel room sound asleep. Fortunately my good friend Katie and her teenage son were in the same hotel, coincidentally deciding to visit NYC that weekend. So I alerted her to my situation and asked her to be on call should my hospital stay be longer than I hoped. As it turned out I was totally dehydrated, and the blood was from having aggravated my stomach tissues with all the vomiting. Intravenous fluids and rest got me back on my feet so that I was able to walk back to my hotel, a few long blocks away.

Returning to the present bout with food poisoning, my daughter was the first to begin vomiting and so on. She literally sat on the floor, head nearly in the toilet bowl, spewing forth everything she’d eaten within the last 24 hours. It seemed to go on and on. I was concerned that she’d become so dehydrated, that I asked several times if she needed me to take her to the ER. Having already been there, done that when I was with her in February, my daughter was not inclined to repeat that long, drawn out, 7 hour scenario in the hospital. Thankfully she started feeling better probably a day-and-a-half later. Knowing she needed to maintain a balance in her electrolytes, I got her Pedialyte juice. Once stabilized, she began having broths, soda crackers, and eventually more solid food. Meanwhile, I pushed on with cleaning and moving stuff, as my daughter lay resting. Unfortunately I didn’t escape her fate. As she seemed to be on her way to recovering, I took my turn at the toilet bowl. And then I was laid up in bed as well. We were two miserable human beings as we lay amid the mess in her old apartment.

You’re probably wondering why we opted to sleep where the bedbugs were rather than in my daughter’s new apartment? Well, remember the repairmen? This is where they come in, but that’s another chapter. So go have some coffee, a bite to eat, a snooze. But come back later…

and i’ll tell you another story…hugmamma. 😉  btw…i remember the name of that high school in nyc…la guardia performing arts high school…no memory loss here…just delayed…ha, ha.

365 photo challenge: locate

When visiting Irvine, California last year in Orange County, we were able to locate this fantastic restaurant which served excellent Mexican food. It also boasted one of the longest bars around……………………………………………………..

they also served up some great margaritas!!!……………………..hugmamma. 🙂

superheros…come to life?!?

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have been singled out for protection by real superheroes, not the make-believe ones of comic book fame. In its February 25, 2011 edition, The Wall Street Journal carried an article entitled “Bam! Pow! Superhero Groups Clash In an Epic Battle of Good vs. Good.” I knew I wanted to share this story so I added it to a stack of other articles I’ve been collecting.

I was mystified by the thought that real people would risk their self-esteem, not to mention their lives, wandering the streets of Seattle and Portland, bedecked in costumes that would surely have citizens chuckling, if not laughing out loud. Phoenix Jones will appear at Crypticon May 29thPhoenix Jones, a 22-yearold-day care worker, changes into his black-and-gold outfit at night, to walk Seattle attempting to “harass drug dealers and break up street fights.” This, it seems, is not as big  a deal to Jones as having to deal with “his latest nemeses: members of the ‘Real Life Superhero (RLSH) movement.’ ” So what’s the beef? Evidently they don’t like Jones’ confrontational style, or rather they don’t like that he’s getting all the publicity because of it.

World-wide RLSHers include grown men posing as Zetaman, Knight Owl, Dark Guardian and Mr. Raven Blade. Trying to convince the communities in which they serve that they’re the “real deal,” not geeky comic-book charachters, they feel their efforts are compromised by Jones’ physical approach. They prefer to carry out charitable works like delivering food to the homeless, rather than bring attention to themselves personally. They want to be “a force for good in the world,” and as such do not give out their names.

Real Life Superheroes, who seem to favor masks and dark clothing–sometimes emblazoned with homemade logos (like the Superman “S”)–exist in pockets all over the world. Some like Knight Owl and Thanatos, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, typically focus on charitable activities.

Others, such as New York’s Dark Guardian, patrol areas known for drug activity–a bit like the city’s old subway-riding Guardian Angels. Dark Guardian shines lights and takes videos to try to deter crime nonviolently, and he makes emergency calls to 911.

“Mostly, they’re relatively normal people trying to help out and have a little fun along the way,” says Tea Krulos, a Milwaukee writer working on a book about them.

Phoenix Jones, on the other hand, interjects himself into situations.

A mixed martial-arts fighter, he broke his nose last month while breaking up a fight, and he says he has been shot and stabbed, too. He often travels with a posse, sometimes carries a Taser nightstick and tear gas, and repeatedly has himself been mistaken for a criminal.

On a particular Friday evening Jones, accompanied by 3 men, Buster Doe, Pitch Black and Ski Man, a superhero-in-training, and a female, Blue Sparrow, walked Seattle’s streets. Obliging night spot patrons, Jones posed for photos outside the establishments but admitted that it “distracts me from my mission.” Turning to the task at hand, he “chastised a man for yelling at a downtrodden passerby. ‘Let’s keep it cool; let’s all have a good night,’ he said to the man, who quickly backed down. ” To those hanging out in areas frequented by drug dealers Jones remarked ” ‘Stay safe tonight,’ he said. ‘Stay warm.’ ” One thing was clear when he and his posse couldn’t catch a car driven by a suspected DUI, their inability to fly was a definite disadvantage. Jones admits to feeling foolish in his superhero get-up when he does little in the way of crime-fighting.

The EYE

While Seattle Police Detective Mark Jamieson congratulates the efforts of citizens getting involved, he is concerned about situations going awry. ” ‘Our concern is that if it goes badly, then we wind up getting called anyway, and we may get additional victims.’ ” Zetaman, a Portland superhero, feels similarly. After an evening of late-night patrolling in Seattle by both Jones’ group, the Rain City Superheroes, and Zetaman’s Real Life Superheroes, the leaders and their groups have gone their separate ways for good. Jones makes his position clear when he says ” ‘I don’t see the point in handing sandwiches to homeless people in areas in which the homeless are getting abused, attacked, harassed by drug dealers.’ ” And Zetaman charges back with ” ‘(A)ll of us are afraid of one day someone is going to get killed and it’ll be all over. … I don’t need this kind of macho c_ in my life and I don’t need to prove myself to anyone, least of all to Phoenix Jones and his Rain City Superhero Movement.’ ” Superhero Knight Owl makes a good point when he said ‘We’re not one giant family, … After all, we’re a colorful collection of individuals. We’re superheroes.’ “

how I wish superheros were real.

 

heavens to mergatroid!!!…………real life?…………or reality show gone amok?!?
………………………….hugmamma.