Cholesterol poster child, part III

Let's do a little oversharing this morning:

When last we left the Cholesterol Poster Child (CPC), she was apparently nursing a case of Hashimoto's Disease and flirting with gluten intolerance.

Two (or was it three?) hundred dollars worth of tests later, it's determined she has neither (a marriage-saver, for sure, given Nake-id IT's predilection for bread). No Hashimoto's, no gluten intolerance. Just high cholesterol.

In other good news, her overall cholesterol was down, slightly. The so-called good-bad cholesterol ratio looked good, and her high HDL is a negative risk factor for heart disease. C-Reactive Protein levels were very low. (C-Reactive Protein is a by-product of the inflammation process.) Homocysteine levels checked out. (Homocysteine is an amino acid and elevated numbers apparently point to the development of artery disease.) And so did fibrinogen, which is a protein that helps blood clot, too much and you're likely to form clots that can lead to heart attacks.

Also, triglycerides were down about 20 points.

For the first time in the CPC's life, a doctor looked at her and said, "Your cholesterol...I wouldn't worry about it."

Please, dear readers, take all of this with a grain of Himalayan sea salt. What the medical establishment doesn't know about heart disease is...a lot. But what these tests have done for me is paint a bigger picture of heart disease risk than the simple LDL/HDL numbers. Cholesterol is a darling of the pharmaceutical industry, but it is not a singular predictor of heart disease. I'm choosing NOT to take statins armed with the additional data enumerated above and proven side effects of the drugs. (There's also this recent study. Girls take note.) This is a very personal decision and one I haven't taken lightly. It may not be the right choice for you.

The Ayurvedic doctor I'm seeing still wants to see less carbs in the diet to continue pushing triglycerides lower (sorry, Baby). And higher vitamin D levels. Like most Northern Hemispherites, mine is low. Yours, too, probably.

And, we're working on tweaking other processes that are best not discussed publicly.

So for now, I'm down one pill and up lots of herbs.

Chard rescue

We were hit with a sudden cold snap, which meant even this most reluctant gardener had to face up to the fact that her salad days were numbered.

A few snips of the scissors and two garbage bags later, the chard was in hand. Giant bouquets of it, requiring washing, stemming, chopping and blanching.

Remarkable how those leathery, luxuriant greens simmered down to just seven servings. Seriously. It took all morning to prepare seven chard balls for the freezer.

That Pioneer Woman's got nothing on me. Except her own show on the Food Network.

The killing freeze came and went and what little chard remains gardenside is thriving, it's hearty fronds stretching toward the sun. The next gleaning will be with a flame thrower.

(For a less snarky take on how to freeze chard, visit this nice lady for her take.)

19 years!

For 19 years of marriage, I've been following this man's skinny butt up many mountains. Still smiling!

Happy Anniversary, Baby!

Attn: Knitters and equestriennes

Meet artist Wendy Persch, whom we had the good fortune to meet at the Ridgeway Farmer's Market. She recently started knitting, and being the inveterate horsewoman, designed this fabulous knitted chaps. I'm going to repeat: Knitted chaps!

Sling them over your jeans at a football game when the wind turns chill or an art opening in Houston. Heck, where them on the streets of Manhattan. So clever and chic. I encouraged her to write a pattern.

To view more of her art work, pay a visit here.

Discoveries from the road

Vacation pictures can be tedious, so will spare you the stunning mountain vistas and autumnal color (so profuse we could barely take it in) and share the relevant bits.

Was completely taken with this flock moving to new pasture on the Last Dollar Road between Ridgeway and Telluride.

Does this look like a happy pup or what?

Bought hand-dyed, hand-spun yarn here.

Imbibed locally made, smoked tequila here.

Took the waters. (And, never you mind!)

Made in the San Juans and dying to try.

Hiked. And shivered. (To the lower lake only.)

Wishing for an annex in Westcliffe.

Fell completely in love with a town.

Hoping for an easy reentry. Sigh.

Who knew I had such good sense?

Actually...such a good sense of smell, which I don't. Nakeid IT, on the other hand, has the olfactory system of a hound dog. All I can say, it's a good thing hand-dyed yarn and new shoes don't come scented.

Back to the stink-ems. Sampling perfume is an affordable indulgence, but it is indulgent. For $15 you can get seven samples from this New York shop, which, if you could beg from Nordstrom's would be free. (But that would mean breaching the phalanx of bored, perfectly coiffed sales girls, who scared the tar out of me when I worked retail. And they wouldn't carry these nichy scents, besides. Fifteen dollars starts to look pretty cheap.)

The above source won't get you the classics. For those, go here. You'll pay more for seven samples, but this retailer will introduce you to the Big Whoops of the industry as well as the smaller players.

I started with a sampling from Guerlain and was underwhelmed. Remember I have the nose of an apneic truck driver, so consider that when you read the following:

Shalimar smells, well, old. Like a box of old talcum, hidden in a closet with the fox-collared coat Dad gave Mom the Christmas of '66 and your second knitting project--that hideous four-foot long stocking camp, riddled with holes before the moths got it. But you can see why people love it; it's not a simpering 18-year-old celebrity in a skirt short-enough to make her stage mum writhe. No, it's definitely lady-like, but crepey, a Revlon-lipstick of a scent that's had a life and traded her heels for Danskos.

Jicky was just icky. Originally created in 1889, Jicky was a ground-breaker, one of the first perfumes made with synthetic components. It comes out of the vial, honking herbs and citrus and Port-o-John like a guy proud of his giant, swaying belly. Jicky raised my bile, and I spent an uncomfortable evening, hoping he'd take this sweaty hands off me. We had a very bad date, Jicky and I. There won't be a second.

But then I met Sous le Vent, which had me at "allo!"

Sous le Vent rustles in as fresh as a new silk blouse and wears just as well. This lovely is all "ooh-la-la, let's have a nice dejeuner of salad and sweets and wouldn't it be divine to have a new scarf, too, regardless of le Euro?" Designed in 1933, Sous le Vent whistles in the face of the Depression, a flirty, fun escape until you view it's not-so-breezy price.

Maybe my nose isn't so bad after all?

Sniffing around perfume samples

After reading Coming to My Senses, I've gone a little bats about perfume.

Working from home there's little reason to apply much stink-em, unless there's a big do. But by the time a big do rolls around, the spray on your No. 5 bottle's jammed, your Coco's turned and your autumn favorite's been discontinued. (Hana by Aveda, they had no right.)

So you go around smelling like Burt's underarm deodorant. There are worse things.

Then you remember how lovely it is to smell...lovely. That feeling, eye's rolled to the ceiling, as you smell your wrist, that sense of delight in the middle of a dreary day from a simple sniff. Suddenly you're no longer the goat at work--your hair is combed, you're striding through the Algonquin Hotel and you're wearing gorgeous pumps, black, pointy-toed, dainty of heel but comfortable (it's your perfume fantasy--in a perfect world all shoes are fabulous looking with memory foam insoles) to enjoy a late afternoon cocktail (not that you drink them but you're stuck at work with your wrist in your face, so you might as well enjoy a $15 fantasy beverage) with an editor who's just offered a six-figure advance...

See what the right scent can do?

So you find one that you love. And you think, wouldn't it be nice to have another? Something darker, spicier but just as private?

So you start making orders. A few samples here, a few there. You sample the classics trying to educate your nose, which has a mixed history (Charlie and Love's Baby Soft?) Only about one out of five is a keeper (more on this later) and the ones that are cost hundreds for a small vial.

So there you are in your home office in a dirty t-shirt smelling of vintage Chanel.

A sweet New Year

Of course, this is only a fraction of what our tree produces. But aren't they stunning? I love their wabi-sabiness, the scratches and dents and insults perpetrated by squirrels and worms alike. And the color.

Nature does it up right.

We enjoyed a lovely apple cake last night, recipe courtesy of Mama Elaine. I back off on the sugar a bit, 1.25 cups instead of two and split the flour between all-purpose and whole wheat. And use more apples, for obvious reasons.

L'shanah tovah, a happy and healthy and sweet New Year to all our friends and loved ones!

Yarn crawl

"Crawl" really does describe my participation in Yarn Along the Rockies: I crawled to class, bought yarn, made my students rip out their projects and came home. (My students, they love me.)

Was delighted, however, to see the parade of knitters in and out of the shop, smiles on their faces and yarn in their bags. Happy buzzing all around.

To all the hardworking LYSOs who participated in the crawl: You done good. You've created a real community.

Oh, and the yarn? More Sleep Season. Natch.

A change of seasons

One of my knitting students referred me to this wonderful blog, Advanced Style, which follows ladies of a certain vintage, who are still so in love with life, style and play, well, you'll see, they're an inspiration. The perfect distraction as the season changes from oppressive to Chanel No. 5.