Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Good Bye Sweet Dog Muffin

In my last weigh-in post I said that the next posts were going to be of a jollier funner kind. Then wouldn't ya know it two sad ones right in a row. Well, that's the way it goes sometimes. This should clear the decks for only good stuff from here on out. One can hope.

This is kind of a follow up to the post I did 16 months ago when Crickett had her last day. There is where you will find the story of when the two small dogs entered our lives and some pictures of them as pups. I was living with mom and dad their last few years. My sisters were off having their own lives. So me, Mom, Dad and the girls made a kind of family unit. After today when I took Muffin to the vet for euthanasia I am the only one left out of that unit. Just Stacey and me remain from the original set. 

Of the two dogs, Muffin was the quiet one. Crickett could stand out in the back yard and bark all day. Muffin would bark but after a short time would rather sleep or snuffle in the grass. When I moved to the house I live in now they both discovered the joy of the hunt. The hill that is the back third of my back yard is wild and overgrown. Covered in ivy and shrubs. Muffin especially loved to hunt and duck around the foliage chasing after the elusive rats that populate our neighborhood. They never had a need to hunt for food but a few times they would turn up with a wound from battle or a sour stomach I assumed was from eating wild game. A couple of times I found a dead rat they left for me to find at the back door. Or just a rat's tail. Gross I know, but kind a cool too. 

The one thing that was most remarkable about Muffin was the way she would climb trees. In the picture above she is down to about 10 pounds on her last day. At times she go up to as much as 15 or more. Still, in the world of dogs pretty tiny and long and low to the ground. The hill behind my house comes about half way up the wall at the back of the garage. A big tree grows there. I never saw her do it but I imagined her jumping up the trunk onto the roof then I would find her 20 feet up in the tree just looking around. One time that this happened I got mad at her and told her that if she was so smart she could find her own way down. She did. Another time I caught her in mid air as she jumped into my arms circus style. I had this fear in the back of my mind that this would not end well. I think I remember one day hearing a thump and a dog yelping. She didn't do it any more.

I always have done open feeding. This is not the thing to do with certain breeds like Dalnation or if they have had to fight for food when they were pups. Luckily it worked for them and the pair of Dachshunds before them Thor and Apollo.  So their weight would go up in the winter and down in the summer. All in all they were fabulously healthy little beasts. Except the time about 5 years ago when one of them found a way into a cupboard where I had forgotten all about mouse poison I had put there the year before. It was a close one especially for Muffin. The vet told me that the poison removes all the vitamin K from their bodies but luckily there was a treatment. A scary week or so but it worked. 

Where Crickett was an attention whore when visitors came around. Muffin would be friendly and get pets all around then disappear into a back room or outside. The noise and big feet of a bunch of humans was not what she liked. In fact unless it was the cold of winter a minute or two of petting each day and she was good. Snuggle in front of the TV if it's cold, otherwise hands off. While not as affectionate as other dogs I've had she was very sweet and even tempered. Never bit anyone that I know of or even snapped. Okay, she and Crickett would get into it in a big way from time to time but otherwise no. 

After Crickett died I never heard Muffin bark or see her wag her tail. She didn't seem sad really, just lost. She lost her alpha. Last winter moving her back legs got difficult. She didn't do anything and I got into the habit of offering treats several times a day just to get a rise out of her. This became the only focus of her little life. In March I got a puppy from a friend that took in a mama dog over the winter. The puppy didn't let her just lounge and attacked her off and on all day, the way puppies do. She would wail and carry on. At first she would run off. Over time it turned into wrestling most of the time but she got tired quickly. The old dog perked up for a few months more. The last couple of months pee and poop where everywhere she was. Between old age, failing sight and hearing and the meds I got from her vet she never seemed to know where she was. When the winter finally got cold last week she didn't know enough to burrow under the pile of old towels and blankets like she always did before. It was time for a curtain call. 17 years and a couple of months was a good run.

I went to the vet yesterday to arrange everything in advance. I even paid in advance so I could drop her off, say good bye and leave. It was a different person behind the desk today. She was doing three things at once not very well. Her office mates knew why I was there and what the plan was, they did nothing to help as I agonized holding back emotion until the desk person handed us off to a tech.  I handed her off and whispered "Bye sweetie".

I got home and proceded to clean off the first layer of dog smell in the dog bed area. Lit'll is not a fan of orange pine-sol or the vacuum but once I give her a bath the stench will subside and on with our new life. I have dropped in on the pet adoption place a couple of times. Soon Lit'll will have a playmate and the cycle will start all over again. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sandy ~ Part 2

The is a continuation of "Sandy ~ 66 years less 5"
Written and posted 12/9/2017. Placed here to be after part one posted in 2012.

I was going for a level of plain truth in the original piece. There's a harder part of her life that deserves a few paragraphs also. When I hear the song below it takes me back to that time.
After rereading the original post 5 years later there were so many details I left out. A deeper level of honesty is called for or those memories could be lost altogether if I don't type them out.

As tragic as her last 15 years or so were, I can't help thinking of the first years (or was it middle years?) of her time with Richard. Every couple of weeks, at regular intervals, she'd show up at my door or a window. She'd have an elaborate story of half truths with just enough desperation to ply me. This-n-that happened and this-and-that was said and I owe this other person and then there's the car that needs gas and... What ever the story was it ended with her needing $12.50. The price of a dime bag and a pack of smokes. Other times that much money or property would go missing. So many elephants in the room. The too often used phrase/refrain "I'm your sister" filled with equal parts guilting me, guilting herself and pure rage, anger at life. I wanted to help them but she knew and I knew; that if she admitted it was for junk I couldn't help them. I was just one in a string of schemes and enablers so it's not like me cutting them some slack 2 or 3 times a month prevented the AA/NA hitting bottom so you can pull yourself up. Besides that doesn't always work and the person dies. It was getting caught and jailed a couple of times that had them changing course.

They got caught shoplifting cigarettes from a supermarket. Easy to resell. A misadventure in her twenties left her with seizures. I think it was. This is where the timeline is not clear to me. She was prescribed something called dilantin. One of the side effects, she told me, was that you had to ramp up the dose slowly and ramp it down if you want to stop. Heroin also prevents these seizures or she stopped caring. Either way, when she got to the jail she hadn't taken the anti-seizure med for a very long time. At intake they asked about medical conditions and they gave her a full dose. This caused a seizure and a stroke. She hit her head on the jail cell toilet. They took her to Kern Medical Center where the prognosis was grim. I guess since junkies are throw away people they didn't want the expense of care on the county's dime. I got a call at 2 in the morning from a deputy telling me to pick her up at the jail downtown. That is not the usual protocol for the release of prisoners. There was no paperwork. All records of her stay there were deleted. I found Sandy stumbling blind behind the jail next to the train tracks. This is when she lost her sight or was about to. I didn't know this, she insisted that I just leave her where they had stashed their car behind our parent's house. It occurs to me now that she was probably in bad need of a fix along with everything else. I watched her speed away swerving.

The next thing I remember is she ended up in Mercy hospital. Scans showed damage to her visual center. She was paralyzed on her right side. Our mother Bertha hadn't spoken to Sandy in years but came to visit. This biker looking woman came to visit at the same time just as I was leaving. Nice about it in a streetwise way, but pretty much pushed mother out of the room. Mom didn't know why and I wasn't going to tell her. I heard about it later and figured out that the woman was Sandy's supplier there to fix her. After that the slow speed crime spree continued with stealing metal that they could sell as scrap from a construction site. This lead to a year or so in prison. For Richard this was his 3rd strike.

Caring for Sandy gave Richard purpose. He got a job and she got disability. They lived in an old 4 story hotel downtown called 'the Tegler' that had been converted to low income housing. They had a sweet studio on the first floor. It was large for a studio, outfitted for the disabled and had a very high ceiling. It had originally been the lobby waiting area. After a year she was able to walk fairly well. use of her right side returned to some degree. After a couple of years they moved into a single wide mobile home on the south end of town they got from Sandy's first mother-in-law Mrs. Cheek. Sandy always said her name as one word MizCheek. Their life was much calmer. For a couple of years I drove her every week to the methadone clinic. Talk about a scam, don't get me started on what a scam methadone is. Richard got cirrhosis, never was drinker. That got him on disability also. He got very sick from it and died. Richard was a dear person, wild and mean as a young man I was told. The token white guy in a latino biker gang or something like that. There was a crash or something where his leg was trapped under the bike's hot exhaust long enough to cook a big chunk out of it. He had been a good looking guy and had a terrible scar across his right jaw. The whole time I knew him he had a long mountain man beard to cover it. There was a head injury too that left him a brain damaged, simpler, but sweetened guy. Drugs and crime notwithstanding. His brothers were much worse. She liked the intensity they brought when they arbitrarily moved in with her. Soon they made Sandy's life miserable taking advantage of the blind widow at every turn. The mobile home still belonged to MizCheek, I think she was still alive then. At any rate things fell apart and she needed a place to live. Her daughter Sonya and her husband Ron rescued Sandy and gave her a room in their quiet suburban home to live out her last couple of years.

Here are bits of remembered data, some throw my whole timeline out of whack. I'll list them anyway for the record, as it were.

They also lived in the most notorious part of town known for gang activity in the 70s and 80s. Behind Kern Medical Center and Jefferson park. The juvenile hall was there also. Sometimes with his mother. A mean and angry woman that must have had a very hard life. Then for a while in an apartment nearby. Sometimes I'd pick up or drop off one or both at a run down mobile home park that I assume held a shooting gallery or whatever it's called.

He had 3 cars one right after the other that were all the same. 1985–1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. V8 factory muscle car. Black on black, no sun roof. After market fancy wheel rims.
For a time he worked on an oil rig and they seemed to be on the way to a regular life. Started having friends and went to BBQs, that kind of thing. Then he was injured on the job. Not sure I believed it was as bad as he let on or completely an accident. It took a year, maybe two to receive a settlement. The bought the 3rd Olds. This also let him get back to his roots and buy a Honda 750. They went everywhere on it. Sandy was already blind at the time but would hang on the back and enjoy the motion, wind in her hair.

Kind of like this one but a Honda 750 with a Green tank

For a while, more than a year, when they were going to NA meetings and before the oil rig settlement, they lived in a 24 foot trailer on Richard's brother's land next to his house  in the Walker Basin. To get there you had to go through Caliente over winding uneven mountain roads. Through places like Last Chance Canyon, millersville and over Sand Canyon Rd. Only a few miles from Bakersfield but for the most part a dry and inhospitable area most people living here are not even aware of. One advantage for them was that so far from civilization temptation to use was minimal. Can't remember his name now but that older brother was a cold hearted asshole. Charged them a tremendous amount of rent for what it was. Made them turn all of Sandy's disability over to him each month. The chipboard floors had rot and holes. The winter there was extremely cold. More cold than the trailer was designed for. Brother did nothing but complain about them using power for heat; refused to let them stay in his warm house next door even on the coldest days or help with propane for heat.

They got a powder blue VW Rabbit and saved a lot on gas. Richard had a job in Bakersfield. Early one morning on the commute home he was probably dozing and the car slid off the road near Caliente and flipped over. He crawled out of the car and having no choice proceeded to walk back to Bakersfield. The time before cell phones so 20 miles before he got to a pay phone. Whatever other impression I may have given you about this man he was  meticulous about certain things. His tool box was his most prized possession. Every wrench and socket was always clean and it it's place. The Highway Patrol found his car and had it towed to a wrecking yard. When I got there with the two of them the car was totaled all he really wanted was that toolbox. It wasn't there. The CHP has the reputation for being more by the book than other law enforcement so it must have been logged in with the accident report. Accusing the officer of theft was a non starter for throw away people. They were just screwed.
Then had an old orange pick up for transportation and to do hauling, it was expensive to run. 


I was young during her first marriage so didn't know Sonny as well. He was a rather shy fellow, or he was intimidated. Mother was a bigger than life character. We speak English using all the words, no cussing and standard grammar. The Bunch of us were not what he was used to. For a time before they had kids they lived with us in our family home. He hid out mostly, even ate in their room. Our uncle Hank was a odd duck that drank a lot of beer. He and Millie (one of mom's 6 sisters) were visiting over the holidays. I remember Hank making a big deal out of staking out their room sitting there for hours watching their door. He assumed that sooner or later Sonny (Clyde) would have to use the bathroom.

When I was 18 or 19 the folks pushed me out of the nest to find my own way. Sandy and Clyde bought a house on Grace street in east Bakersfield. She was waitressing of course and he was a mechanic. Their third child Kimberly was a new born (1976 or 77?). I moved into their garage. Sonny was not too happy about losing his place to tinker on project. 1947 Dodge pickup built on the frame, suspension, engine and drivetrain of a big V8 car. It had the flared fenders and all of that. Really cool.
It was a selfish, self involved thing to do. Barge into their little family life like that. While clever in many ways, I was slow to develop in others, especially social ways. At 60 I'll be a fully developed adult any time now. MizCheek came by one day to clue me in but I didn't get it.
This was the end of their marriage. Alcoholism. He had a long history of time in the county jail for drunk driving. Long before mothers against drunk driving was a thing so each occurrence was only 30 or 60 days but it added up. Years of waitressing double shifts with the help of speed caught up with Sandy too. Nuisance brother-in-law me hanging around didn't help.
On the plus side I got to spend more time with Tawnya and Sonya. Their hippy uncle that lived out back.
A couple of years later me, Sandy and Kimberly were living back with the folks. Kimmie and me were the bestest buddies then. She was so little and that was so long ago she probably doesn't remember. I see the other two from time to time in person and on facebook. I have no idea about Kimmie.


During the 80s my best friend and running buddy was a gal I called Cereal.  Cereal had her own DUI to deal with and spent a month in the county jail called Lerdo. She met Sandy there. This was before the stroke and desperate days.  Sandy was 5'9" but with the bigger than life personality seem taller.  She was able to offer some protection and advice for the new to jail life smaller woman.  They became friends after jail as well.


Sandy was in the class just behind Karen Carpenter at Downey High.
Her best friend in High School was a goofy teen guy named Dudley Bonk the third.


For 2 or 3 years I was Sandy's designated payee. Social Security would send me her checks. It was my assignment make sure the money was spent on her upkeep in a practical manner. She wasn't using then and so she would have none of it. I just gave her the money and she did spend it on rent utilities and food as it was intended. They made me report on how the money was spent. I sent the filled in forms back with the truth and they didn't seem to have a problem with that.


I am a believer in the universe sending you what you need out of the blue sometimes.
My recollection is that "Baby" was a stray that turned up one day. Baby looked very similar to this American Eskimo Dog in the picture except she was no more than 15 lbs. Big fluffy tail. The sweetest most loyal dog. Looked after Sandy and was by her side constantly from the start. Sandy was alone quite a lot and Baby was companionship.
I say constantly. The mobile park was on H & Pacheco. Baby was out on the busy street and got hit. Left hindquarters had a big gash. She was in considerable pain but only yelped when we moved her. Sandy called me in a panic, we took Baby to the vet inside of Petco. They wanted $400 just to start repairs. $350 more than we could scrape together at the time. Professional help was not an option. We shaved the area and applied this purple liquid wound dressing for horses. Taped the wound closed as well as we could. Fingers crossed that there were no broken bones. the white fur on her whole left side and big tail was purple for a month. She made a full recovery eventually. We didn't know how old she was when Sandy got her but they were together Sandy's last 6 years or so. Lived another few years with Sonya, plenty of grand kids to play with.


As I indicated in part one Sandy had no particular attachment to telling the truth even before the junkie years. No part of her growing up was without it's complications. Things said could be to transmit information or to incite a response. Get someone to do something or just for the sake of the drama. My guess is that this behavior was fueled by a deep inner anger and self loathing. Armchair psychologist.
I met her in-laws when I was 8 or so. I was a standard middle class white bread kid. The things they did and said were unfamiliar. I didn't have the words for it at the time but I knew that when they did and said certain things it was about the drama, the stimulation of an ongoing drama. Things like calling the Sheriff about minor happenings. Blowing up the details for the sake of making more drama often resulting in someone getting hauled off to jail. Not that there were a shortage of things going on to justify being hauled off to jail. They lived in an unincorporated community north of the river from Bakersfield called Oildale (the poor side of the tracks). Even recently the LA Times,  BBC and others have done exposes about this area. I have always avoided people that acted that way. So maybe I'm clueless but it seems that while it still goes on this behavior has been in decline as the price of air conditioning and television has gone down.

I never could figure out if this was a thing or if she was playing me. She told me about her birth father Bob the poultry merchant drinking with his buddies where the chickens were kept in pens. She was 3 or 4; he held her up by her heels over the chickens to watch her scream and for the amusement of the other guys. I believed that part. The terrified little girl in her voice 50 years later wasn't faked. She also talked about a cross country trip she and my father Burl went on. A chance to bond with the new step dad. This was about the time she lost her baby fat and was developing. They got along very well as far as I remember until she turned 18 and went wild. She hinted that dad may have sexually abused her in her early teens, maybe on that trip, but would stop herself short mumbling things about how I wouldn't believe her. She pulled out the half siblings thing from time to time as self pity and to get me to say that it didn't matter to me, she was my sister, end of story. Maybe I wouldn't have believed her at the time. Dad was always a sweet affable man. Plain spoken but also a salesman that loved to talk and draw people out. He was also emotionally kind of a basic guy. I can see him at 30 his primitive urges rising because of a nubile young woman. He was also deeply moral, heavily indoctrinated with the fear of god growing up. I doubt that he would have acted on these urges. I know that women and girls can be creeped out feeling the vibe of suppressed urges like that. Or maybe he did do something. Couldn't have been much. They both would have been too afraid of mother's potential wrath at something like that. 

That is not a happy way to end this. Let me think on it. I'll add something more jolly when I think of it.

Sandy ~ 66 years less 5.

Sandra Lynn Taylor Parks Cheek Wiswell: 
aka: Sandy Parks
aka: Sandy Cheek
aka: Sandy Wiswell
Dec 8, 1946 - Aug 21, 2007

My sister Sandy was one of those people who are sometimes described as a force of nature. 
She would have been 66 today. 

Originally I posted a sort of obit on MySpace as the cost of doing one in the local paper is prohibitive. MySpace still exists for the time being but that post is long gone. What follows is a combination of my account of her passing that I sent out in email and the eulogy I read at the memorial service for her. I certainly loved my sister but I feel enough time has passed that, in the interest of history, a more complete logging of recollections should also exist.  Her story is one of a very bright and complicated person. At many places along the road of her life she took turns that eventually lead to her final years being filled with tremendous despair, regret and physical pain. Yet, on the occasion of her passing I got this message from our Aunt Patricia: "She was such a wonderful spirit.  What I remember best about her is her sense of humor.  When Phyllis (Patricia's twin) and I were there for Bert's (our mom's) memorial and we wanted to see her and she came over; we laughed a lot though the circumstances were sad."
That’s the way it was with her.
When she was younger she was* tall, usually with hair bleached blond, done up in a bouffant and those striking blue eyes. Always quick with a laugh. She loved to laugh.

At this point in the service I asked the mortuary guy to play Blood Sweat and Tears'  ‘You've Made Me So Very Happy’ They resisted, questioning the appropriateness but acquiesced and everyone there who knew her got the point. Her eldest daughter Tawnya cried. BS&T were Sandy's all time favorite band. The kind of bluesy rock they played was almost too on the nose as her personal anthem. 

She was born Sandra Lynn Taylor to Robert and Bertha Taylor in 1946 in Lawton Oklahoma. They owned a poultry business and had a nice life there as I understand it. Our mom escaped the drudgery of life on the farm looking after her 6 sisters by marring an ambitious older man. Robert and Bertha divorced in 1949 or 50.  Our grandfather Charlie Hale was a civilian mechanic at Fort Sill outside of Lawton Ok, when Vandenburg opened here in California he came to open the mechanics shop. Mom and Sandy moved here too. Mom had learned bookkeeping from the poultry business and did that to make a living for the 2 of them. It was a rough time to be a single mother. Not a common or acceptable thing in the 1950s. 

Sandy spent a good amount of time with grandma Zephry and my aunts. The youngest were the twins, Patricia and Phyllis, they were only 12 or so years older than Sandy. 
Finally Bertha and Burl, my father, married. After 3 or 4 years. They moved to a new house in Bellflower California. Then I came along in 1957. The new baby was the apple of everyone's eye. Being 10 years older Sandy was the built-in babysitter. We were really close back then. Suddenly in 1963 my position as the center of attention ended with the arrival of Stacey, the new baby. Sandy was then the built-in babysitter for both of us. 

Sandy was a dedicated horsewoman. I remember her working at the stables and a meticulously drawn illustration of a horse with all the musculature. She was great at sketching. How many times did I, or any of us who knew her, find a napkin or scrap of paper with a lady's eye drawn on it.

Shortly after Stacey was born the family moved to Bakersfield as owner/operators of the A&W at 2525 south Chester.

Sandy was a carhop at the A & W. She must have liked it because later she spent 15 years in food service. Her natural athleticism and bigger than life charm made her a success. Even-though waitressing is a hard job, day in and day out, she loved the work. The people mostly I suspect.

As a teenager Sandy had the big hair and seemed oh so glamorous to me at the time. Teen pranks were not uncommon. I remember one time the little Fiat sedan my folks had, being covered in toilet paper another time graffiti all over it done with poster paint. Another time they had to have it pulled out of the canal along H street.  

Then in 1964 or 5 Sandy met Sonny. Sandra and Clyde (Sonny) Cheek Jr. Soon after came Tawnya, then Sonya. Sonny was a shy man that was a kind of James Dean type. Broken nose that gave him a nasal voice with a thick Oildale accent. He was a mechanic so had muscles. Curly blond hair and crisp blue eyes that I can see in his daughters. I can even picture him in a white t-shirt with a pack of smokes rolled up in the sleeve. They bought a house over on Centaur in South Bakersfield. 

At this point I wrote a number of paragraphs describing the birth of Kimberley (daughter #3), her divorce from Sonny and about her 2nd husband Richard. Then I tried to trace the her steps and where it all started to come apart for her. We never really lost touch during the last 40 years but our lives took place is different worlds that were most of that time only miles apart. We were closer during the last 20 but even that was stop and go. Each new memory would disrupt my picture of the time line. Then so many memories that there was no way to organize it all in one post. Our folks are long dead ,  Stacey has a completely different experience of Sandy and set of memories. Not many recent, as she moved away in the 80's. I could ask her kids but at that point it becomes more work than I had intended. This will continue to bother me till I get it done,  just not today.  

For now, so that you have an idea of where this story is going, let me briefly describe her last few years. After years of working as a waitress managing a household of 2 then 3 kids and an alcoholic husband she, I guess, had what they used to call a nervous breakdown. She was unable to finish raising her daughters and was racked with tremendous guilt over this the rest of her life. With her new husband she had a few contented years but that finally devolved into drug addiction, jail, a stroke, an odd kind of blindness and a paralyzed left side. She regained use of her left side, mostly. She learned to deal with the scrambled information that she got from her eyes, kinda. About the same age that our mother got it, in her 50's, she had osteoporosis*(makes you shorter, incredible pain). The thing that really made it difficult for many people to feel too sorry for her was that along with the bigger than life personality, wit and charm was a very dark and blue side. This part of her loosely hid a kind of contempt that was expressed in a pattern of lies and manipulation. 

There aren't many pictures of her after about 18 years. None that I know of that captured her charm and laughter. When I was a real little guy the Foremost Dairy had this promotion were every year a big truck would pull up in front of our house. Inside was a photo studio where we had our picture taken.  My guess is that this is 1960 and 1961. I think it illustrates the two sides of her personality. The hair style in the picture on the right (except in blond) is how I remember her best.  

At the end of the memorial service I had them play Blood Sweat and Tears' ‘And When I Die’
She is survived by daughters - Tawnya, Sonya & Kimberly
Grand children  - Tosha, Brandon, Kyle, Mikey & Kellie
I believe since 2007 more names have been added to this list.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

One Holiday down one to go.

Turkey and more turkey for sure. Mashed potatoes and pie filling. That was my 2 Thanksgiving dinners.

Had to skip the green bean with fried onion holiday tradition dish. The onions are fried with wheat.
A week or so ago I was out and about and decided to splurge on Popeye's fried chicken. First came the mind fog and bloated feeling. A few hours later my lower intestines scrunched up in that way they haven't done in months. The explosive diarrhea came in 3 bursts just like it always did, followed by a leaky butt hole for the rest of the day. Of course "what was I thinking?" I told myself "the crust on the chicken". Duh. I'm pretty sure I don't have celiac disease. What I do know is that wheat hates my guts.

I haven't posted a progress report on this blog for weeks. This may be the last typed one for a while. I never did get much response, it has been just me sorting out my thoughts anyway so I'm going to be doing a slightly different kind of writing. Should be fun. Fun for me at least. Stay tuned for that.

About 7 weeks ago I got a BiPAP machine. I remember complaints about my snoring 25+ years ago (sleep apnea). The CPAP machine I got for it a 8 years ago was some help but didn't really allow for proper REM sleep. Talk about a difference. Some days, after a few hours of sleep with the BiPAP, I feel like my IQ is up 30 points. The way my whole brain works is different, better. The changes are mostly good and I am having to rethink allot of things. It feels like some kind of healing process is going on and I can't be sure what the new norm will be just yet. Strange stuff like a string of OCD fired emails I sent to a friend last week are kind of a concern. A bit more stress than I am used to + anxiety and way too much brain activity = overload. I am hoping this kind of thing is just a bump in the road, it's not like it was unpleasant, just intense.  While cognitive functions are better; short term memory loss and absent mindedness are on the rise. Then again it's different everyday. Intuition and all of that kind of thing is up to some interesting stuff too.

This too is something that started happening again after many years. Libido kicks in on some days also.

The dieting is pretty much still on track. I think I'm down another pound or two.
I've been testing bread, biscuit and pancake recopies. Wheat free and low carb. You can buy gluten free and/or low carb bread at the store but it's $7 for a tiny loaf that is very dry and flavorless. Most of the low carb recipes I've tested use eggs for structure and are flavorless but don't get dry till the next day. The ones that are just wheat (gluten) free but not low carb use rice or bean flour and xanthan gum for structure not as much egg  Like this 

The trouble is that most of the people who go to the trouble of putting up a website with recipes are true believers (health meme fanatics) and the recipes end up also salt free, sugar free, yeast free, cruelty free etc.

The best so far was this recipe  (just cancel, the pop up you don't want on their list. Training videos for hundreds of bux. As if there were no You Tube)

I did a few with pumpkin; muffins and pancakes. They were okay but all the eggs made them kind of rubbery.

 Next experiment is fruitcake. I found several recipes that include a few shots of whiskey. (A different kind of true believer).

I have finally figured out how to get a few more vegetables into me. The fresh & easy in Wasco has  cheap pre-made salads in the markdown bin most Mondays when I am there during the day. <$2. I get a few and just before work run them through the food processor (No more molars that touch) and have that for lunch. I also made a batch of dense vegetable soup and take a thermal container full on the other days. So far it works.

The next difficult thing will be changing my sleep schedule. For years I have gone to sleep the minute I get home from work and wake up around noon or so. My days are backwards. Most people sleep till 6 A.M. or so then off to work then spend the rest of the day doing what needs to be done and winding down. I get up at noon and spend all day winding up to work at 11 PM. Nothing even gets done and i have lots to do. One problem now is that instead of being in a constant zombie mode I actually get sleepy towards the end of my day. When I am still on the road. Before I guess I wasn't really going to sleep as much as I was passing out from fatigue. Moving my sleep time to 3 or 4 in the afternoon has the problem of limiting even further my opportunities for social interaction. Earlier and I miss all of the daytime activities like Drs appointments and shopping. On the other hand people must be up and doing social things during the daylight hours.

Today's weigh in 326.3
down 1.4 since last time
down 27.4 since June.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

3 Months and change

Get it? 3 months and change. Change as in 3 months and a few days but also 3 months of change. Ha ha ha I crack my self up sometimes. (slap on the back) Chortle chortle chortle.

This last couple of weeks, for the fans who have been following right along, have been yet again 'quite a ride'.
The post I put up yesterday (or tomorrow; not finished as I write this, I keep having to restart it) had me looking at woman kind from some new and some old perspectives. Over and over, as is the way my mind works. I don't know if any of my conclusions are worth a damn but it is better than obsessing on the decline of the newspaper business as is the usual.

Speaking of my small business. I was raised in the proud tradition of Scottish frugality. Aka I'm a cheapskate.  Even if I had lots of money or a big income I doubt much would change in the way I approach my personal spending (nicer car and the house would have a new roof of course). I point this out because I tend to expound on my shortage of cash in this blog a bit more than is necessary. The dramatic effect makes for a fun tention in this writing. Since I have gotten so good at being cheap over the years, even though the money I make selling and delivering newspapers is much less than it was in say 2009, I live pretty much the same way. With two main differences. The county, for the time being at least, has got my health care covered. From November of 05 till October of 2010 I could afford to have a guy fill in for me 2 mornings a week. Now I work 7 days a week. I'd like to have days off but what the hell would I do? Until I figure out a way to have a social life that includes out of town trips working 7 days is fine.

What brought this to mind was the cluster of expenses that had me very stressed last week.

The dentist filled a tooth to see if it would become stable enough without root canal and a crown. The one on the top on my right next to the missing one is in danger of the same thing. She also wants to re-crown about 6 others. This is when I told her that I was not a fan of crowns since after a while you just have to pull them anyway. At this point I have to get dentures anyway so I say extractions are $95 whereas crowns are $500 each, let's go with extractions. She convinced me that root/crown the top right one for the sake of appearance would be best if filling it failed to stop the decay. After all the cavities are filled and that one possible root/crown the denturing process begins. $$$

For the past year or so my favorite audio books have been what they call the fantasy genre. My favorite of these has been The Dresden Files novels.. Stories about a contemporary wizard that works as a detective in Chicago. Great fun. One of the quirks of magic in Dresden's universe is that post WWII technology messes up anytime he or other magic folk get near. I am considering that it may be possible to contract this particular cosmic dysfunction back here in the non-magical world. Maybe contact with the books is to blame. Afterall magic might be a real thing. Every time I go to one of the art events in town I see fairies. ;-) My gadgets especially the electronic ones have been acting weird and screwing up for no apparent reason. When the new iMacs are available I am ready. I've been approved for 0% interest at the Apple Store. The old one has been on it's last legs for quite a while. Crashes are becoming more frequent, fingers crossed that the last crash happen after the new one gets here. Even with 0% it's still a $$$ proposition.

Unfortunately even new gadgets are not immune. My car has taken to locking the doors on it's own with the keys inside. Luckily the windows have been down. Just today winter started so the windows won't be down so often. Time to hide-a-key an extra key.  I decided on the Scion xD because Scion is a division of Toyota. The xD is like the Toyota Yaris in  most ways but is a bit more stylish. Only 2 or 3 of the current econo-bubble cars look like the xD. I bought it new so that my expenses would be stable and predictable for 12 to 18 months (60 months of payments). Notoriously when you buy a new car the set of tires it comes with are the lowest quality they can get away with using. Just good enough to get you off the lot. 20,000 miles is about as far as I have gotten in the past. At 19,000 I got a slow leak in a tire that registered on the low tire idiot light one the dash. I tried putting air into all the tires because they all looked fine. Still the light was on. Just as it was my turn to load the Friday paper one of the other guys noticed my right rear tire was very low. After loading I limped over to a gas station for air. By the time I got to my farthest drop at the state prison it was time for the donut tire. (I put on the spare) Next day at the dealer I was told that the tire couldn't be fixed safely and that I really need 2 tires. The flat one had a rip in the sidewall and one other had "bulging". "We have 2 and only 2 in your size, sign here" the invoice said $397 for 2 tires. WTF? Small cars have small tires. It's an economy car for chrissake!
After driving to half a dozen tire shops I figured out that the xD's "a bit more stylish" means a non standard tire size. I finally found a shop that offered tires in that size as low as $57 each (plus mount, balance etc, no warranty) I settled on two for $294 out the door. They include up to 80,000 miles and an all inclusive warranty). I had to do the Saturday run on the donut tire no spare and one tire with a "bulge". Finally on Saturday afternoon I got my stable and predictable for 12 to 18 months 2 of 4 tires. I expect the other 2 to go at any time.

Just to make things a little more stressful my time at the tire shop made me too late for my haircut that day. I had been waiting a week and a half to get in with my hair gal. I really have been enjoying wearing my hair longer. It is not easy to find someone who has a feel for the way I like it cut and doesn't try to slip in something more contemporary. Besides Beauty on the Bluffs has just a too cool name ans it 3 blocks from my house. Crap, I am going to have to pay for the missed appt then hope she has a time for me later.

It's not all bad and/or frustrating.
A really good thing happened this week.

14 months later KMC finally came through with a new biPAP machine to replace my ineffective CPAP machine. How this all came about is another clusterfuck story about how Kaiser is all about profiting and not about cures. I'm out of rant for today so on to the good part. I had been getting less and less actual restful sleep in the last few years. I thought the CPAP machine was fine. Too many mornings I'd wake up with the mask pulled up past my nose and mouth or off completely. Or I would just not be able to make myself put it on before sleeping. This meant no Deep or REM sleep for weeks at a time.
The new machine is a whole new world for me. So far.
Already my brain is beginning to recover. Years of low oxygen has added to the confusion and fatigue of no REM. Some damage may not be reversible but it has only been a few days.
I can feel my cognitive abilities getting deeper and clearer.
My senses are reporting more detail. I didn't have to get all the way into the kitchen to detect dog pee on the floor yesterday.
For most of the last 30 years I can't remember a time when any type of activity was preferable to a nice lie down. Several times so far when I would have ordinarily found a reason to sit or lie down I found myself doing other things. Enjoying cleaning the kitchen, changing sheets and other housework before would only happen after several cups of coffee.
In recent years I could tell that I had had real sleep because on those days my libido would kick in. The past few days I keep sensing something from down below my belly. It kind of sounds like "What is the Poon Tang you speak of?"
Best of all, well maybe the libido thing is best, anyway, I think my sense of humor is coming back. Humor and cracking wise has been such a big part of my life since I was a kid that I can do it out of reflex when needed. Like when in front of an audience. Teasing and giving someone a hard time is just a pattern once you learn it. What I have missed so much is the humor that comes from deep inside me. My sense of the absurd coming to the top of it's own accord. Often dry as toast.

It's way too early to tell for sure. With everything else I have been extra absent minded and light headed with a kind of dizziness. Let's hope it is just some adjusting going on. I really really hope all this good stuff is really happening and I am not just fooling myself. It would be nice to live a life again.

Today's weigh in 326.5
down 1 since last time
down 27.2 since June.

I have no explanation, I had expected more loss. I have been eating less in general and virtually no sweets or other carbs. I started going to Physical Therapy for my butt pain so am getting a little exercise. More than before. I have taken to meal replacement shakes because they are convenient and I feel full for hours. I still don't have hunger pangs but as I become more generally alert I find myself seeking out food for boredom eating. I've gotten all serious junk food out of the house but extra bites of real food aren't good either. The "shakes" I got at Costco are the right price but contain fructose and other carbs that are not good for my purposes. After some research I found that while whey protein is the most popular basis for shakes used by dieters and bodybuilders it is not cheap. Soy protein is also popular but has problems of it's own. The other main sources of protein used in shakes are eggs, almonds, peas, a few others and Hemp seeds. Hemp seeds as it turns out are one of the highest in protein and includes an impressive array of vitamins and amino acids and are low in carbs. Evidently you could live on these seeds alone if you had to. What I like is that even though the powder cost $13 a pound plus shipping the unhulled seeds cost just $2.99 a pound and are higher in fiber than the hulled seeds. When the shipment arrives testing begins. Coffee grinder to pulverize the seeds is at the ready. Lower carb not artificial sweeteners are ready to be tested as well.

My first 2 goals in dieting were to get back down to the weight I have been for the last 20 years or so. I did that. The next goal I knew would be harder, to get down under 300. Each week I'll need to increase efforts till the next 5 or so go. That should get the ball rolling. The physical therapist has been very helpful. I should be back at the regular gym soon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Whine, It's what's for dinner

Revealing observations of my most personal feelings and experiences for all the world's strangers to see is kind of nerve racking. However thoughts and feelings are transient. A mystic might say that scooping up the thinks I do, is like pulling a bucket of water from a flowing river. The act of scooping changes the river, yet it remains the same. The thoughts can never be returned to where they were and so become forever changed, context changing.

Interest in my whiny diatribes is at an all time low. After reading many pieces on the dieting topics I know that it is a dry read. I try to keep perspective because it is the reasonable thing to do.  I also have observed that when someone takes off into "testifying for the cause mode" it quickly gets off putting. I try not to do that but sometimes . . . for example, I have added a video on the lower part of the column on the right. Statins did serious damage to me, boring or not I have a right to testify. Another thing that I don't know that I can do anything about is that some of my more insightful keystrokes happen in the middle of an otherwise dreadful episodes of me feeling sorry for myself. sigh-grumble-puke
Anyway on to this week's keystrokes.

Last week I got sidetracked talking about the mess that is my home. I kind of lost my point. The idea, that is still evolving, is that these new levels (and kinds of) of awareness that I am experiencing are throwing me off a bit. The ways I am reacting are interesting and sometimes frustrating. This refresh of my normal sensory/cognitive overload plays right into my increasing suspicion that my brain works differently than the standard model. (announcer voice) More on this as the story develops.

I have been putting it off but trying to type while sitting, has gotten even more tediously painful. The pain upon sitting comes quicker since I took a walk the other day. I had been doing my stretches and felt kinda good so I went up the street to the bluffs and took a stroll. I was okay at the time, refreshed. The next day sitting at the computer for 5 minutes had my butt yelling at me. To make it worse the super cool seat cushion in my car got a big hole ripped in it. The manufacturer is great about warrantied replacements (at those prices they should be) still, week or so to get a replacement is going to be hell. I will solve the mystery of the painful tuchus eventually but for now I devised a way to type lying flat on my back. Not ideal to facilitate more lying down when one of my goals is to be more active. Not being able to vent some of my excess thoughts by typing them out in a free stream of consciousness way was really not good. The other thing is that; for many years my bedroom was a sanctuary of calm and peace. No TV or distractions like that. For the longest time I didn't even have pictures on the wall. They too were a distraction. It was good. I also banned food from my bedroom. Now I have a monitor mounted right over the bed. I haven't been able to use the TV in the regular way because of the tuchus matter. So the monitor is hooked up to the media PC and the ROKU box. I get all of my TV, facebook other media lying flat on my back. It is certainly not unpleasant and with the extra time without weight right on the troubled area it may be able to heal some.
I went to a physical therapist yesterday. He has me doing special leg muscle streching exercises. I'll just have to do them for a while to know if it helps.

Like I said before when the words can flow freely writing is easier and more rewarding. I hope I will be able to inject a little more humor into what I type. It's better for my attitude and has to make reading easier. Fingers crossed.

I am writing this in advance of the Wednesday weight in. I skipped it on 9/19 for 2 reasons. Posting too often is tiresome for the kind people on facebook that cheer me on with 'likes'. Also some things have gone down that are distracting me from the dieting (for one example see previous post  (I mean) rant below). I will be surprised if I lost weight this time. Let's see.

Today's weigh in 327.5
down 1 since last time
down 26.2 since June.

Teeth in my head 24
down 5 since last july
down 8 since  . . well, overall

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dental Theatre of the Absurd

I have been going to the dentist off and on since May in an effort to get my teeth back into good working order. The greed soaked obscenity that is our healthcare system at least has a few workarounds for those in real need. Dental care is an even harder clusterfuck with fewer short cuts. My meager earnings are about $1200/mo. less than they were 3 years ago for the same time on the road, responsibilities and set of tasks. I am stuck with options for low income persons to fill my healthcare and dental needs. This is tedious and time consuming. Strangely, I may end up with better care over all since the bare bones nature of the county system leaves little room for unnecessary care. Kaiser, (my previous health care provider) I have come to know, is very focused on keeping you stable. If you are over 50 and in one of the 'high risk' groups they pay little attention to solving problems. The county Drs, many of them in training, are more ambitious and want to solve problems. The gov't way of cost control makes their solutions more practical, if awkward to get to. This could change either way at any point.

I was in a similar fix 20 years ago and went to a low income dental clinic out in Lamont (gotta keep the farm workers operational). They fixed me up for $100 a visit. 10 visits got me what would have cost thousands elsewhere. (Don't get me wrong poverty sucks. Paying my own way is much better) Since that time I have spent thousands more of my own money on root canals, crowns and unnecessary bullshit like "Crown Lengthening". As the linked article says it is often done by a general dentist. I was sent to a special kind of oral surgeon called a periodontist, not to be confused with an endodontist that does root canals. The scam at the Plan I was on at the time was that all the offices I went to were owned by the dental plan. It had some good points, tooth extractions were just $25. Deciding I need a tooth extracted the regular dentist feeling just a tiny bit of resistance on his special dentist pliers sent me to a special clinic to have it done. The extraction was $25 but the endodontist (no wait, he was a periodontist too I think. Dr Black and he looked just like Boris Karloff) only works with you knocked out. Anesthesia cost $400. Returning to my regular dentist he insisted I have the hole in my jaw where the missing tooth had been, filled with a compound that seemed to consist of powdered bone and magic. It was supposed to make it all into bone for just $300. None of the official dental websites even mentioned this procedure except as part of implanting implants. He was not happy with me but I declined. Likewise nothing the periodontist did was included in the plan. $625 x 2 but he was kind and gave me a discount of $200 off each procedure. Was I supposed to feel like I saved $400? The necessary stuff that dentists do is valuable and they deserve to be well paid. It is all the unnecessary stuff and manipulation that pisses me off.

I had gotten a Groupon deal for a teeth cleaning for just $19 so I went. It was a nice office, not like the cheapo places I usually frequent. They even had you fill out your patient info on an iPad. Woo woo high tech trendy. The cleaning also include a "free" exam/consultation. Everyone in the office was extremely pleasant. The dentist himself was . . . I haven't had a dentist in a long time that liked to look you in the eye. Briefly at the start of a visit sometimes but after that they talk from someplace behind you even when trying to explain something to you. This guy had an amazing chairside manner. Very smooth, kind and reassuring. He looked at my teeth and made the observation that I had had allot of "heroic dentistry" done over the years to save and crown allot of teeth. His recomendation was, since my mouth was such a mess anyway, to pull all of my teeth and put implants in where the canines are, upper and lower. Then he would fabricate special dentures that clip onto the implants. No sticky stuff (Dentu-Grip), just take them out at night and for cleaning. No heroic dentistry from then on. Easy peesey chewing pleasure for the rest of my life.
I was given a bunch of dental gifts all wrapped with cellophane and ribbon in a very nice coffee cup with the Dr's name on it. I was ushered to the appointments counter to get the process started. I asked about what kind of insurance. How did the insurance thing work with this? There was a little back and forth when the lady said "even the best insurance will only payout up to $1500 a year". "That will all of this cost"? "He won't know for sure what is needed until he gets to each step in the treatment. $25 to $35,000 usually." Woah, in my little world of living simply I don't give much thought to the way the 1% and other money & material stuff obsessed people live. Suddenly I felt like I'd stumbled into a black tie affair wearing only my old robe and slippers. I thanked the nice lady for the fine gifts and slunk away.

Just like everything else that happens to me it got me to thinking. First I googled the procedures and found out that dental implants are a fairly common thing these days. 2 or 3 patented appliences are the most common. Just like the obscene cost of many medical procedures and appliances this one that should cost less than $1000 for each tooth often costs many times that.  I said that I don't give much thought to the way the 1% and other money & material stuff obsessed people live. This is only partly true, I buy lottery tickets just to have the right to fantasize about what it would be like to not live month to month and spend money on otherwise unnecessary things. Even if $35K was pocket money to me there has to be a better way. Besides, waste is waste, suddenly having too much money is no reason to discard a lifetime of being a cheapskate. In my search I discovered the world of medical/dental tourism. For less money (often much less) you can spend a week or two in a place like Singapore in a dental clinic that is more like a luxury hotel, doing tourist things between parts of the procedure. (in my fantasy medically approved concubines are also included in the price).

Back to my real life. I remembered that my own mother had all of her teeth pulled before I was born. She and several other people in my life had a full set of dentures and didn't make much a big deal out of it. Daily cleaning and maintenance as apposed to what I had been doing. Flossing most days and brushing then every few years going to the dentist every couple of weeks for months.

I made an appointment to go back to the dental clinic in Lamont. It had changed. Being an expert at what low cost dental offices are like, I was surprised at the level of what might be called corporate indifference. The workers were polite and competent enough I suppose. After getting X-rays the Dr insisted that I rinse with mouth wash before he would look into my mouth. Okay, makes sense I guess. Then I noticed that all the workers and the dentist himself wore surgical masks. All the time, not just when with a patient. Then it occurred to me that no one had introduced them self or had name tags. Creepy. Was there an outbreak I should know about? I never found out for sure, I think the Dr was just a germophobe. Dr who? I submitted my previous year's tax form to see if I qualify for low income rates. I did. I was not given any indication as to what it was going to cost or given any kind of treatment plan. I was told to come back for the first of 4 deep cleanings at $75 each. Deep cleanings are a fine procedure but not really much better than the regular $25 cleaning except for it's effect on the Dr's bank account. (one dental funhouse I went to a few years ago insisted on the deep cleanings then followed up with a thing where they forced a piece of rope impregnated with fluoride between my teeth and gums) Deep cleanings are completely inappropriate when the idea is to lower the cost to low income people. After trading a dozen emails with the home office I finally got a treatment plan in the mail.

By this time I had been to a different institution set up on the same premise, as a medical/dental clinic for low income persons. This place was a whole different world. It was a nice new office. All the staff were bright eyed and helpful. Introduced themselves and had name tags. I paid $70 for my exam at the place in Lamont. To avoid paying that same $70 again at the new place I asked for a copy of my X-rays. I was charged another $15 for a copy and I had to go back out to Lamont to pick them up. X-rays are no longer done on film. They are a digital file like the pictures you take with your phone, only at super high resolution. They were printed on a laser printer at life size and useless to the new Dr. She had a whole new set taken. This exam cost me $35.

The treatment plan with the discount was just over $1800 and was less than half of what it would cost otherwise. 6 extractions, a crown or 2, fillings and a partial denture. It was to start with a regular cleaning but I said "ya know I need to count my pennies, I'll call you when I'm ready".

This is where the maze of getting decent care at low cost begins. I had asked about dental coverage when I applied for the county medical plan. Since rotten teeth can cause a risk to your medical health, extractions are covered. Nothing else. Perfect, this gives me a place to start. Back at county medical my medical Dr had just graduated and being assigned a new one was months off. Luckily seeing a Physician's assistant can be done in a few days. The PA filled out a form that I took to the main financial office where I got a different form to take to the outside provider. That provider? You guessed it. The people who run the office in Lamont also have a very popular office in Bakersfield. This office is in the part of town where low income black people live. In Lamont I was the only non-Hispanic that I saw. It was like that at the new place on Brimhall too. Just like with Hispanic people I have no general feeling about black people except that some of the women are hot. But that is true of any group of people. My only caveat has nothing to do with race or national orgin; in general poor people are depressing to spend time with. There are exceptions, like me for instance. Well, sometimes.

As you may know I work nights and sleep till noon or so. What with all of my health issues and whatnot morning activities have proven to be untenable. It was going to take 3 months to get a scheduled appointment. You can be a walk-in but have to show up at 7:30 AM and just wait, perhaps all day. The form was only good for 30 days. Sigh. I could get an appointment in Lamont in 28 days so back I went. This time I had a different Dr. I guess I had given them the impression in all those eMails (over 20 back and forth) that I was not comfortable with the gay (flamer), neurotic, germophobe Dr I saw the first time. Really it wasn't that he was a flaming gay nut job, I usually like those kind of folks. It was the fact I never saw more than his eyes. Guess I'm the neurotic one.

This Dr was a very competent Muslim woman that got right in there and pulled my upper right canine surgically. Then 2 dead roots in the lower right went a month later. By this time I had wised up and made 2 appointments for September. Last Tuesday was the big one. On the upper left side I had a bridge that started in the back and covered 4 teeth. Well, 3 one was already missing. She cut the bridge next to the back tooth that was still good. That part of the bridge is now a crown. The 2 at the front end of the bridge were so rotted that the bridge just fell off. She then extracted the remaining roots. It went smoothly. No real pain then or after. I returned last Friday. The remaining tooth is just behind where the canine had been. It has a crown and may be savable with a new crown after removing some decay etc. She was disappointed when I told her I was going elsewhere for the other work. The county medical was only covering the extractions. She had been nice and did a good job so I didn't elaborate the criticisms I have of the place. I told her the other place was closer to my house. It kind of is. It will be cheaper (I hope at least $600 cheaper than before). And that it takes days to get an appointment not a month. The appointment my re-exam at Brimhall is next Wednesday. Fingers crossed.
This shows the teeth I have remaining in my head.
As you can see one catch in my great plan is that at no place do my remaining back teeth meet other back teeth. All of my chewing has to be done with the front teeth. I knew this would happen but failed to realize that the front teeth regularly do no chewing at all. Only biting. Very quickly the roof of my mouth just behind the front teeth became sore and tender from food scraping against it. The open wound where the teeth are missing is tender too and traps food particles. that will all toughen up in time.

The thing that also surprises me is how much I like food that has gone through the food processor. After leaving the Lamont clinic on Tuesday I went to Costco with a wad of gauze stuck in my mouth. For $25 I picked up a Mini-Prep® Plus 4-Cup Food Processor. I have never had one before. They always looked like a hassle to use and clean. I was right too. However this one is a nice gadget. I think the plus is the way one button spins the blade clockwise and the other one is reverse. Most don't do that I think. All I know is that with the food all in tiny pieces all of the aromas are released. The flavors are all right there too. It is amazing. I love soup because it such a blast to the senses, it's like that. Coating your whole tongue and mouth. It should help digestion too. I know I'll get tired of it at some point and the extra step of processing all my food will get tiresome but for now it's new and fun and tasty.

The Brimhall dental clinic did offer a pay as you go deal. I should be able to pull that off. Since my income is somewhat based on sales if sales lag I can just make the appointments farther apart.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Since thoughts and impressions come to me in sometimes random rotation, this post may have more than one topic. Also since I can only sit for a few minutes at a time each new paragraph may have it's own personality. We'll see.

Of the many things that stopped the blogging portion of this process last month one was that I just didn't like where I was going with the posts. I had the idea of using this form of social network to get some back and forth on what I have been finding and perhaps some sense that I am not alone in my project of self change. Perhaps an oxymoron. I got wrapped up in who was responding and the number of page views. This week China is in the lead (what's up Ukraine?). Writing the piece on my old high school buddy was more satisfying than any of the stuff about dieting. I do have a different friend from high school days that needs to be documented. His story is much more intense. I should talk to his family for some of the hazier details but even if I did that it would still be mostly my own recollections. Some of the truth I know and would have to tell, while not damning in my mind, is not PC. It's not like he's going anyplace. The time will be right when it's right.

Part of what prompted me to start a weigh loss program was dissatisfaction with more than just my body size. Many aspects of my life are simply not satisfactory. When I stopped eating the way I was, perhaps it was removing the tranquilizer effects of the food, but my thoughts became clearer. Even my view of reality came into better focus. This tracks with the opiate effect of the glycoprotein gliadin found in wheat that I read about. Whatever the cause, seeing my day to day life for what it is, got to be disturbing. Godawfulmess pretty much describes my home. I am not a picky person. The gentrification that many of my peers are attached to holds no meaning for me. I do however enjoy and feel the benefit of tidy efficient surroundings.

A few years ago when the Drs decided I had allergies (another false lead from main stream medicine) I was compelled to re-decorate my bedroom so that room is usually close to tidy (an overflowing laundry hamper doesn't count). As much as I am feeling better in general I do have a kind of malaise, verging on depression I suppose, then there is the pain I typed about in the last post. This makes housework a challenge but I did make some headway on making my bedroom even more to my liking. The kitchen has been clean from time to time. I have too many pots and pans and gadgets to do much without a total renovation but, like in the bedroom, I made some headway.

I don't use the living room for much so last year I sold the furniture I had but didn't like. It would just be an empty room except for my beloved dining table, a bookcase and the other tables that match the dining table.  Besides this there are more gadgets, the equipment for the hypnosis show and a mountain of other clutter. Under it all the nice wood floor has a coat of some kind of grime. Some of the stuff could go into the garage but that has it's own clutter problem based on the junk on the driveway in front of it. Again malaise and dealing with a pain that seems to get worse if do anything blocks much progress. It seems the hour or two just before work, like now, is a good time to get stuff done. This requires logistics since the stores with cleaning and repair supplies are closed at this time of day. Huff.

At 1056 sq ft my little house has 3 bedrooms a living/dining room, kitchen and laundry area where the dogs live.  The bedroom I use for my office is cluttered but functional. The largest bedroom has a massage table and is somewhat decorated but also suffers from a mountain of stuff. The immediate problem is the one bathroom. With all these functional rooms little space was left for bathrooms in post WWII housing. (the detached garage has it's own sq ft and it's own bathroom, kind of).

When I moved in in 2001 my great friend Steve helped me make the tub into a shower. He questioned why I'd want a shower instead of a tub since a tub is so nice to soak in. When I told him that your basic residential bathtub isn't large enough for a fat guy like me and water at the same time; it didn't seem to register but he was kind enough to help anyway. It was quite the project but after the shower was in and working my interest in making the whole bathroom nice and new just wasn't there. Ironically after not visiting with my friend for quite a while he was over for a visit in March just when the 1947 faucet handles in the sink began to leak. We took the offending val apart and drove to the hardware store only to find that they didn't have the parts we needed for the valve. Later investigation at the industrial plumbing place and after that on the net reveled that my valve was so old it was not listed anyplace and would have to be replaced. After weeks of looking on ebay and elsewhere I found a replacement that fits my personality, taste and budget of $60 or less. Like this but cheaper. It even came with matching towel rack thingys.

Like I said I am not a picky person and having just one valve (hot) is easy enough to work around. I keep telling myself it can wait till I have the (not time, I have time) whatever, to finish the whole bathroom. For the longest time the toilet has been held down by just one bolt. That bolt is failing and the flange in the floor has rotted away so I have no choice but to start the project. I would like to have company over to my house but these conditions won't encourage repeat visits. That means the one in the garage needs to be made functional so I can fix the one in the house. That toilet works but the water runs all the time. I wasn't able to figure it out so just turned the water off. Along with more general alertness is a marked increase in cognitive abilities. I should be able to figure something out. Now just to do it.

I really really appreciate my alone time but wish I had a way to freely associate with other people as well. What ever happened to boarding houses? You keep to your self if you want but have company at meal times. There are common areas should the need strike for a TV watching companion. That's the ticket, a boarding house that serves low carb diet food. Wait a minute, one thing this blog has done is let me put my going on and on about food and health woes in one place. I only bother a few people with my whining in person these days. Rooming with a bunch of underfed fat people? Ech.

Today's weigh in 328.5
down 3 since last week
down 25.2 since June. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Sorry that I've been away. I have so much to tell you. This last month has been  . . . 31 days.

Mostly I haven't posted because every time I sit, after about 15 minutes this pain settles into the muscles around the top end of my femur, near the hip joint. Then what seems to be the head of my femur or maybe the ischial tuberosity (specifically the ligaments that attach there) begin to send off a pain like being pinched in a big vice that gets slowly tighter and tighter. This makes me fidget in my seat till I have to stand up. Well what ever the problem is it changes after I am standing, to a slightly sharper pain in the group of muscles just below my hip joints. So standing is not so bad. I can move or walk. Too much walking or moving and the whole thing gets worse.
This phenomenon isn't all that extreme. I got a special cushion for my car seat so the 4-6 hours of driving everyday only gets weird towards the end if the route. The rest of the time it has been of varied strengths but, always there, for weeks now. Getting up and down and lying down way too much because that is the only place that the pain is quiet is driv'in me nuts. I can't sit in front of the TV either. Grrrr.

I'm working on several solutions besides stretches and exercises and Dr appointments. Something will have to catch sooner or later. If I was rich I could do this tedious waiting thing near a beach and be bored there too. Better here with Muffin & Lit'll. I'm dancing in my seat, gotta go.

This week's weigh in. 331.5
No change. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hello, hello . . . is anyone there?

(note: this one turned out grouchier that I had intended. Oh well, something to grouse about next time)
Only 6 page views last time. Considering that this is essentially a personal journal more than anything else how many people read it shouldn't matter. Then again I am a bit of an exhibitionist and was jazzed that so many people read the one about my old friend Curt. I have only gotten a couple of comments so far on the posts about what I am doing. It could be that what I am writing about is boring or the way I am writing about it is boring.

One comment from another dear old friend was "May I put my two cents in? Eating right is not about fad diets. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables (mostly vegetables) and protein. But you also must exercise. The two go hand in hand." What she says is the simple common sense approach. I have clearly failed to get across what my process is and why I am doing things the way I am. I have rejected most of pop culture since I was a kid. That doesn't mean everything in pop culture is wrong or bad or useless. It is just shallow. What it does have to offer can lead to better things. I believe I did say that I am eating mostly vegetables and protein with a little fruit and even a little carbs in the form of gluten free bread and sweetener for drinks. I also said that my exercise will increase as I am able to do so. I think the problem is also that this is typed out and I am a verbal person. I need to start recording these posts to add in the inflection and pauses that I hear when I am typing it in. Written and oral communication are two different things.

 The way my mind works is to over analyze and over analyze and over think things to death. To resist this is to invite trouble. By occupying my mind with all the variables and possibilities and letting it cipher and decipher on all the questions, is for me, a way to keep on point. Thinking about nutrition and how human need met with human greed has lead us to a place that is killing us by the tens of thousands while providing others the chance to exist at all, is more than enough to make me think before I bite. (Now that's a run-on sentence). Just to have a little bit of throwing back in your face; losing 20 or 30 pounds over and over again with the simple common sense approach is a world away from losing over 150 pounds for good that have been there for decades.

 I mentioned before that this is the first real weight loss I have done since I did Weight Watchers in 1972. In 1977, I think it was, I did do a crazy diet I'll talk about later. I have dabbled in others from time to time. I have signed up at fitness centers a couple of times. In 2006 I started going to 24 hour fitness and was clear that it didn't have to do with losing weight. That is what I kept saying, I think other people heard something different. It was about feeling better. I went 4 or 5 times a week and did feel better. This was before I figured out what the Statin drugs were doing to me and in a fit of depression I stopped going. What makes this weight loss project different from before has to do with what I posted in the first one of this series 6 weeks ago. I am not really attempting to change my behavior. I simply can't eat the way I had been eating before. The position I am in now is more like being on a strange planet and having to do endless trial and error to find out what is edible. Some things that taste good are really toxic. Things like vegetables that are for the most part quite tasty never come to mind when it's time to eat. Go figure.

On from the tedious part to the really tedious part.

Part of the reasoning behind why to avoid wheat has to do with one of the proteins in the gluten, Gliaden. Dr Davis put it this way.
"Gliadin is a more powerful opiate–The changes introduced into the gliadin gene/protein make it a more potent opiate. While the digestive byproducts of gliadin bind to the opiate receptors of the brain, they lack the pain-relieving and euphoric effects of heroin and morphine, but 'only' provoke addictive eating behavior and appetite stimulation. People who consume wheat consume, on average, 440 more calories per day, 365 days per year."
I found this in looking for exdence of the opiate effect of Gliaden in wheat. I found a pdf of an actual study done in 1978. The ratio of gliaden in the hybridized wheat grown now is much higher than ever before. This accounts for why I don't feel hungry and craving food all the time like I was before.

The other aspect of the new eating is the ketosis effect of low carb high fat. I have seen lots of examples of it working. I want to dig into the science a little more and try to understand why. Next week.

I'll be thinking about other posts to this blog that aren't so much of a personal journal. My absurdist view of the world needs some exercise. We all can ride the Bri bus to adventures in awareness. They don't call me the Center of the Universe for nothing. If nothing else I have a unique perch to see the universe.

Today's weigh in. 331.9    
Down another 3.2          
Total lost so far 21.8        

I really am at the weight most people remember me being the last 20 years. Going forward we break new ground.