Jeepers, creepers!

Let's talk about our eyes shall we?

It's easy to take them for granted. They typically do their job without too much fuss, providing endless hours of entertainment pleasure. They're great to have, especially when knitting lace or trying to find the cat hiding stubbornly in the chard.

Even when buying really chic and expensive glasses for them, it's easy to see eyes as existing apart from our health; they're this outer mechanism that has little to do with that complicated tangle of offal packed inside, more like a camera than organ meats.

Because diseases of the eye aren't life-threatening, they don't attract the attention or celebrities like more serious maladies. This is as it should be. But that does't mean, we shouldn't occasionally give our eyes there due.

Eye disease is quality-of-life-threatening. And there may be some things you can do to increase your chances of lifelong eye health.

A year and a half ago as I sat in my well-dressed opthamologist's office making small talk about her cosmetic services (skin care at the eye doctor? Wheeeeeee!), she had me up and out of the chair, saying, "You have a detachment. We're going to see if we can get you into surgery this afternoon."

My actual retina surgery was the next morning and by noon I was home with an eye patch and a gas bubble in my eye.

Two weeks ago, I saw my retina specialist for a routine follow up when he started rattling off acronyms and directions to the technician. This didn't bode well. "You have another tear in your right eye."

Thursday he operated on me again. This time in the office. The tear was minor and in the periphery, almost not worth repairing, except like a dropped stitch, it would worsen with time.

For the squeamish, I'll spare details, but think "Marathan Man" with needles and an eye chart. (I exaggerate for effect; as with anything, the idea of the procedure required far more fortitude than the physical discomfort, which felt like a long, disastrous hangover.) I left feeling like I had done six rounds with Sonny Liston.

This is a long-winded way of saying, take care of your peepers. If you suspect a retina detachment, get to an eye doctor, stat. The sooner a detachment is fixed, the better your chances of a positive result. Not repairing a detachment  can lead to permanent blindness.

How do you know if something is wrong? The sudden appearance of lots of floaters, flashes of light or a shadow falling over your field of vision. In my first instance, it was like a transluscent scrim had come down over half my right eye. In this recent occurrence, no symptoms.

People who are nearsighted or have family history are more at risk. Sometimes detachments are caused by trauma, but more often than not, the shape of the myopic eye is to blame.

I asked the doctor about dietary interventions, which he indicated were more appropriate for people with macular degeneration. I suspect this means: No data vis-a-vis retinal detachment. But here's an article from the American Optometric Association that offers some sensible information, including wear UVA/UVB sunglasses, eat your greens and take your vitamins.

Chard for breakfast, anyone? Here's looking at you, kids!

 

 

 

Scratch, sniff and read: A review of Coming to My Senses

Benched after eye surgery, I've had the luxury to read and this is what captured my attention. I had thrown it on my iPad after seeing it referenced at Dawn's studio--her perfumes are referenced in the appendex--and it was just what the doctor ordered: A lacy-white-slip of a book that will have you dabbing your throat with your very best and greeting your sweetie with a great, big smile.

In the same way that food can serve as the driving trope in great food writing, perfume becomes both catalyst and metaphor in Alyssa Harad's gorgeous memoir about becoming a woman in full.

It starts with an obsession with language. Stagnating in the aftermath of graduate school and puffy from years of study, Harad stumbles on a perfume blog and loses herself in the purple prose of the perfumistas. The world is a foreign to Harad, a properly indoctrinated academic feminist, and she is both attracted and embarrassed by this sudden new interest. When she finally manages to brave the cosmetics counter (c'mon nerdy girls, you know what it's like, that phalanx of black-smocked women armed with spritzers and opinions about your looks--you with your insecurities tumbling out of your pocketbook), she is undone by a spritz of that full-busted contralto from the 1980s, Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum.

Sniffing and a wedding ensue as does the emergence of her voice as a writer.

Read it. Dream about finding your signature scent. And head to the grocery trailing Jo Malone or Hermes or Guerlain, where even in flip-flops and a t-shirt you'll be making a statement.

Nake-id Fun: A list

Since most of us are beset with work, unruly gardens and chores, let's have some fun today, shall we?

Some recent distractions:

Can't get enough of

Gulping down

Awaiting

Eating

And more eating

So proud of

Desperately seeking (without breaking the bank)

Needing film recommendations

Loving

Missing

Supporting this and this and this

Grateful for

Crazy about food

Paleo. Primal. Vegan. Gluten-free. Dairy-free. Low-carb. Low-fat. Raw. Pescatarian. Fruitatarian. Standard American Diet.

It's enough to make you want to pull up to Outback, move in and enjoy a short, happy life snarfing Bloomin' Onions, baby backs and cheesecake. The food coma alone would be worth it.

In an attempt to address a life-long issue with high-cholesterol, I've gotten myself in a complete twist about food. Sunday, while I dithered over whether I could eat anything at the Costco snack bar, Mr. Nake-id observed, "This is getting old."

Yep. It is. But we went to Chipotle anyway.

Between the deleterious results of a vegan diet (same cholesterol, higher triglycerides), the confounding instructions of an Ayurvedic vata-balancing/low-glycemic regime and a friend's endorsement of The Primal Blueprint, I'm completely confused and wary of what goes into my mouth.

For someone who loves food like I do...this is whacked.

It's also a consequence of being more mindful. Having ingested a lot of weird food over the last year (seitan bacon, anyone?) and vegan propaganda, I have a greater understanding of how animal products get to our plates and in many (most?) cases, it isn't pretty. Even the goat cheese gracing our arugula salads means a sweet nanny goat had her kid whipped out from under her. The bucks? They fare much worse.

It really is the omnivore's dilemma, as Michael Pollan so famously put it. We survived as a species because we're dietary opportunists, evolving with the ability to digest almost anything. But does that mean that we should?

In this country, our diseases are those of affluence and access. Even with a major drought plaguing the Midwest, do any of us worry about the food shed? We're so accustomed to full grain silos and meat freezers, we don't question the security of our hot lunches--unless we're watching our corn shrivel while the cicadas sing.

Our conundrum is one of quality. We are a nation of plenty, but plenty of what? Lean Cuisines? Fried Oreos? The FDA's lobby-built Food Plate?

Some of us are privileged to have the time and money to pause over which sweetener offers the most nutrients for the  lowest glycemic hit. Some of us don't. Some of us can seek the advice of doctors and alternative care practitioners, while others get their diabetes treated in the ER. And none of us know how to eat.

After all this, I remain convinced that optimal nutrition is individual. Mark Sisson might thrive on pasture-raised meats and chard, but I suspect others won't in the same way I didn't flourish as mostly vegan.

There's more to say on this topic. But for now, I plan to give myself a good slap and enjoy dinner again.

It's no wonder we want to mainline Snickers bars and onion dip.

 

Some knitting teacher

Remember how I was bitching that this one-skein shawl had morphed into a two-skein expense proposition? I told all my students, "One skein? Ha, not so much."

As we deconstructed the instructions in class, one student asked, "What does K2TOG mean?"

Knit two together? Where? I didn't remember any decreases.

She pointed to the pattern. There it was, plain as day, "yo, K2TOG".

"Um, right, what the pattern says, you just knit two stitches as if they were one."

(Not that your teacher did.)

Not having the sense to be embarrassed, I seized the moment as teachable, saying, "The next time you make a mistake and start beating yourself up, think about your teacher, who's been knitting longer than most of you have been alive, and about the big FUBAR she made in class. This is supposed to be fun."

Fun for them.

Back home, I dithered about whether or not to rip out, and went so far as to slip all 300 (600?) stitches off the needles onto waste yarn to see what I had wrought.

So it's less Mizzle and more more twizzle? Forward, ho, using the oldest excuse in the book, "The ruffles? My own design feature!"

Denver County Fair in pictures

The Denver County Fair is arguably the coolest county fair in the nation. With "Fashion", "Green", and "Holistic" pavilions jostling with the more typical farm-and-garden/animals fare and no deep-fried butter or chocolate-covered corn dogs to be found, it has a distinct, urban hipster vibe.

That said, the fair has a way to go. Only in its second year, the fair suffers from a lack of critical mass. Housed in the commodious National Western Complex, the fair lacks the excitement born by crowds and a full vendor floor. The fair is well-attended, but because of the out-sized venue, lacks intensity.

Some vendors were fabulous, like the Zip 37 Gallery booth, where whimsical, contemporary prints could be had for the price of a nice lunch. And good ol' Phil Bender, who was selling these groovy assemblages made from vintage seed packs and game cards. (My buddy Lynn scored a charm bracelet affixed with tiny Monopoly-pieces--all irons!)

The "Buy Local" pavilion was a puzzle; the Sleep Number bed company is local? (In point of fact, it's headquarters are in Minnesota.) There are so many remarkable companies headquartered here doing everything from making organic snacks to furniture, well, it just didn't seem right.

We won discount coupons to Fancy Tiger, during the speed-crochet competition, by answering trivia questions while competitors hooked their little hearts out.

And, the animals, were delightful; got to pet the sweetest rooster. (Though Lynn was rightfully put off by the tiger and bear cub on display by the Serenity Springs Wildlife Center.)

The upshot? More yarn, please. And, more other local stuff. But it's a great start. And there was an impressive amount of creative pluck on display.

Herewith some images from the day:

Ayurveda update

For a relief from "night backache, try Doan's Pills!" Remember the commercials? Did you ever wonder what they were? Quaaludes? Willow bark? Sugar? Mother's little helpers? (Turns out they're some kind of anti-inflammatory drug in the salicylate class, which also includes aspirin.)

They came to mind yesterday on my walk to work when I realized my hips didn't hurt. I bounced across Speer like a puppy, whereas most days, I feel like a boxer dog with hip dysplasia.

As a girl of a certain age, I'm blessed to have only minor aches and pains, but do from time-to-time feel my hips. A not uncommon complaint among the ladies of my set.

Not sure what prompted this development. Maybe it's the extra omega 3s or the turmeric-and-whatever tea or the regular slathering of sesame oil, but the old pod felt lighter yesterday, less encumbered. Definitely encouraging.

More to come.

Namaste, y'all.

P.S. For a serious trip-and-fall down memory lane, check out this vintage TV ads from the early '70s. The K-Tel Knitter is priceless!

One-skein shawl class up to two skeins

So I was like advertising my advanced beginner shawl class as a $25 quickie, but by the time I rounded the border of this lovely shawl, all that remained was a ball of yarn about the size of a quail's egg. Not even enough to bind off.

Gauge issue? Too many increases? Whatever, I needed more yarn. And not just any yarn but more Sleep Season.

Sleep Season has become something of a cult favorite at Wild Yarns. Dyed by a woman in Littleton, the skeins walk out the door almost as soon as they arrive. If you want the best selection, stalk Wild Yarns' Facebook page for updates.

I suspected finding another skein of my colorway--Moody Monday--would be like a sighting a yeti. And with my class starting on Tuesday (hurry, now, there's only two spots left!), I decided there had been enough dithering and high-tailed myself to the yarn store.

Pawing through Kelly's few remaining skeins, I unearthed "Web of Shadows." More greens and teals, less red but the same wonderful indigo trending to purple.

See how it blends with the shawl-in-progress? I think it will add nice contrast to the border without distracting from the pretty stitches.

That naughty planet Mercury must be well on its way to righteous directatude.

 

Cholesterol poster child, part II

"You have Hashimoto's."

"How do you know I have Hashimoto's?" Having read my history and taken note of the prematurely (ahem) grey hair, she gave me the "duh" look while scribbling notes.

She asked about antibiotic useage. Lots of tetracycline as an adolescent. This prompted another knowing look.

Checking lab results, she pointed to how since going vegan my triglycerides have risen steadily. Then she took my pulses, much like an acupuncturist would.

She begged a moment of quiet, sensing a chatterer in her midst, and scribbled more notes.

Finally the instructions: Self massage with Brahmi Sesami Oil, 1 Tbs fish oil, probiotics twice a day, the above pictured herb mixture three times a day in warm water (not bad, actually), a Vata-balancing/blood-sugar-balancing diet (limiting wine to two glasses a week, ensuring protein and fat at every meal, limiting carbs) and lab tests to check for inflamation, gluten-intolerance, among other other ills.

Advising me that I was on a fast-track to metabolic syndrome and eventually diabetes, Dr. Desai urged me to include high-quality, full fat(!) dairy and/or fish, poultry and eggs in the diet. And, maybe, she suggested in your case cholesterol is not bad.

I left, head swimming and laden with bottles of fish and massage oil. Two days later, the herbs showed up in the post.

Over the past year, I've absorbed a lot of vegan information and propaganda and have learned something about factory farming. Are there happy meats and eggs? Will this protocol ameliorate these heretofore unknown issues?

The doctor suggested that I might be able to stay vegetarian but not vegan. "There are no societies that have ever been vegan," she said. "Very few people can get away with it, most can't."

At least for now, bring on the goat cheese!

 

Cholesterol poster child

When we last left our heroine, she had learned that a year of mostly plant-based eating resulted in no change in her serum cholesterol levels. Raw kale salads, juiced chard, BBQ mushroom sliders did nothing to clear the fat from her blood (though it did eliminate seven stubborn pounds of love handles, for which she is most grateful).

Not happy with her traditional medical options (statins, which rot your brain--there's data), our lipid-averse heroine decided to seek other solutions. Chelation therapy was suggested, but a visit to the recommended practitioner's website revealed a smug, veneered smile and the protocol: IVs of foreign substances enter your body to remove unwanted metals and toxins. Creeped the heroine out. And the data? Hardly convincing.

Convinced that diet had to be at the heart of it, our heroine considered Mediator Release Testing, which checks for all manner of food and food additive sensitivities. This intrigued, but the cost was off-putting.

Two independent recommendations of a medical doctor certified as an Ayurvedic practitioner, intrigued. How could our heroine argue with 5,000 years of tradition tempered with Western medical knowledge?

It took almost three months to get a new patient appointment, a good thing given the amount of homework required by the visit: Family history, personal history, lifestyle, diet journal and four or five years of blood work results. And reading, should you choose.

The appointment represented a complete paradigm shift for our heroine, who has spent a lifetime slurping skim milk and avoiding saturated fat.

Stay tuned for more details tomorrow!