I chuckled as I wrote those two words, because among our group of friends, they’re always used in the sentence “Hold my beer, and watch this!” when someone is about to do something exceedingly stupid.
On April 1, at 4:30 in the morning, I had a stroke. Correction, I had two strokes. It wasn’t until a week after I was released from the hospital that I realized this happened on April Fool’s Day.
For the first time in my life, I feel vulnerable, rather than bulletproof.
I know what the warning signs of a stroke are, but apparently I didn’t know all of them. I knew what my risk factors were, but again, I didn’t know all of them. Now I do, and I want to be sure you do too.
I wrote about it yesterday here: 1010ParkPlace.com For brevity’s sake, I left out some details that still have me shaking my head in bewilderment. Tell me what you think.
THREE MONTHS AGO I began working on a new novel. I’d had bits and pieces of it for a long time, but suddenly, it all came together. It’s about an attractive, successful woman, early 50’s, who has a stroke.
Her prognosis is for a full recovery, but after more than a year, she still can’t speak. She loses most of her business, many of her friends drift away, and her marriage falls apart.
Make no mistake, she will triumph over all of this.
ONE MONTH AGO, on Friday evening, March 22nd, I went to a “Pots and Plants Party” to help them “plant” 1,000 pink flamingos. For those of you who have been in Austin for a while, these are the folks who always had the “flock” of flamingos at the corner of Bee Caves Rd. and Capitol of TX highway.
Although I was feeling exhausted and had just driven an hour home, for some unknown reason I felt compelled to change clothes, con my sweetie into coming with me, and drive another hour back to this gathering.
We met the owner of the compan. I told him I missed seeing the flamingos, and asked him why he had closed his business. He told me he’d had a stroke back then, but you’d never know it! I told him about the book I was writing and he enthusiastically recommended a book by a woman neuroscientist who had a stroke.
I bought it the next day, and my hair stood on end when I read that the type of stroke the neuroscientist had, was the same type of stroke I’d created for my protagonist!
NINE DAYS LATER I had my strokes. Do you think I haven’t stood out in my yard and yelled at the heavens, “Is this some kind of sick joke?”
As I think about it more and more, I marvel at the coincidences… and wondered if they were all preparation for me to know that like the neuroscientist, “flamingo man,” and my fictitious character, I will be fine.
Again, please read, it’s important: 1010ParkPlace.com
I was greeted yesterday morning, over a delicious cup of coffee NOT made by me (since I’m clever enough to sleep an hour later than my darling) by the news that our neighborhood newsletter was warning more about snakes needing to be removed from people’s homes.
Do you remember the scene from the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones is hanging over a pit full of writhing serpents and says, “Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?”
That’s exactly how I feel about them, and to hear about this before I’d even finished my coffee. Arrrggghhh!!
So what’s a gal to do? Since we live in a city, (we’re out in the country, but it’s still within a city) a shotgun is out of the question. Not that I’d ever kill one, no matter how afraid I was. Education (as with most things in life) is the answer!
Having been horrified when I moved here, upon learning that there are poisonous snakes everywhere in Texas, I took advantage of an avid herpetologist friend’s knowledge to learn everything I could about snakes. I wanted to be able to recognize the ones I needed to worry about… instead of worrying about them all.
As it turns out, any snake will try to bite us to defend itself, even a little green garden snake. The State of Texas is home to 15 potentially dangerous snake species or subspecies.
Despite this, each year, there have been more deaths in Texas attributed to lightning strikes than to venomous snakebites. The four poisonous snakes species here: rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins, and coral snakes.
By not hanging around the banks of rivers, streams, and brooks, I can avoid water moccasins. Copperheads? Rattlesnakes? Out here, in the woods… and I’m not a hiker through uncharted trails. Nope, thanks.
Coral snakes are small with little-bitty mouths, usually only biting fingers when we stick our hands somewhere without looking first. I don’t garden without gloves, don’t reach into trees or bushes or woodpiles without looking first.
Snakes tend to be accidental house crashers. You might find one curled in a corner on your patio looking for coolness in the heat of the summer. Or in your garage… seeking the same.
The good news? Rattlesnakes will usually signal if you’ve startled them by rattling or buzzing their tails, giving you an opportunity to pee in your pants then run in the opposite direction!
I’ve lived here for 41 years, and have never seen a dangerous snake anywhere besides my herpetologist friend’s house! More good news – they are as afraid of us as we are of them!
The newsletter shared common-sense tips for living where there are poisonous snakes: turn on a light and have a look around before stepping out on your patio at night, or into your garage. And even look around first before stepping out on your patio during the day. Mindfulness, that’s all.
If you encounter a poisonous snake in your garage, on your patio, or in your garden… run away, and call wildlife management. Or, if you live out here, you can call the group of “snake wranglers” who will come fetch them.
I don’t know whether my favorite room in our new house is the bathroom, or the kitchen – well, put that way, the kitchen wins – but it’s been such a pleasure to take a long warm shower in such a roomy space. A luxury that I often took for granted before our RV life!
I’m spending a lot of time in the kitchen baking – I love to bake, (in the 70’s and 80’s I baked all of my own breads) and I love having my tools and a big oven again! I want to share this GF Carrot Muffin recipe with you, not because it’s inherently healthy, or even healthier, but because it’s a darn delicious recipe. And it had me scratching my head, then laughing at my dense-ness, over the directions!
But, before I get to that, I want to chip in my two cents about GF cooking and the fact that going gluten-free isn’t healthier than eating gluten. Gluten isn’t some evil poisonous thing that’s been added to our food. Gluten is a protein found in flour, nothing more. It is this protein that grants things made with flour their elasticity, texture, rise, and exquisite flakiness.
Only a small percentage (1-2%) of the population are truly gluten intolerant (celiac disease) while 6% are gluten-sensitive and, like me, plain old allergic to wheat. We must avoid it to be well and healthy.
Switching to GF substitutes made of white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, etc. isn’t going to help if you’re switching hoping to lose weight: pizza, even a GF one, is still pizza.
A cold-weather cozy: if you have access to Netflix, I highly, highly, highly recommend watching Michael Pollan’s fascinating four-part series, COOKED. The section entitled AIR is my fave… about bread.
If you want to make a healthy change, try switching to organic breads, and using organic flour for your baking. I personally use King Arthur products (and, no, I’m not being given anything for saying that) and they have a wonderful website and a good GF flour blend. I’ve worked out, and adapted, some great GF recipes… for when I want a treat. I’m happy to have them, but they are no comparison to wheat flour… That said, this Carrot Muffin recipe from The Minimalist Baker (nothing minimal about this recipe, the ingredient list is a mile long, but worth it) is pretty darn close!
After these muffins are baked, they must cool in the pan for a bit, then the directions tell you to, “turn muffins on their side in the pan.” I swear… I was stumped! Do what? How? Then I realized that she meant turn each muffin sideways in it’s space so air could circulate around the bottom. Like this:
I couldn’t wait to eat one, but they must cool completely or half the muffin sticks to the paper! And, GF tends to taste better after it’s cooled, honest. I store them for a couple of days in a big ziploc, then refrigerate or freeze. Let me know what you think!
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