Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight

So the books says......
Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.

I had been small most of my life.  But after 30, and after babies, I began to grow.  I'll admit, this bothered me  mostly because I so loved being small!  The health ramifications of being overweight were a  secondary concern to my vain reasons for hating what the mirror was showing me.

As the weight came on, I adjusted my diet to try to stem the growing size of my belly.
I gave up Pepsi.  I gave up daily candy.  I gave up anything with MSG.  I gave up food with high fructose corn syrup.  I gave up food with partially hydrogenated oils.  I gave up all artificial sweeteners. I gave up fast food. I ate more fruits and vegetables than ever before.  Yoga and vegetarianism were a part of my regimen. I even stopped putting sugar in my coffee!

And still I kept getting fatter.

Just the title of the book got my attention, because all of my fat was around the middle.  My legs and butt stayed the same as ever, but my belly kept growing.  When I hid my belly in my clothes, I looked well enough...but when I did not hide my belly, I was being asked when am I due.  Not kidding, it happened.  And the book says the wheat belly resembles a baby bump.  OUCH.

I have always been a fairly active person, but truth be told, I stopped going to a gym when I moved to the sticks in 1995.  Then in 2012, a gym opened right across the street from my store, and there went my last excuse.  I joined the gym thinking this MUST be why I kept gaining weight.... I was not working out.

January 1, 2012, I started sweating in a gym.  Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at 7:00 am, I did 40 minutes of cardio, followed by 20 minutes of weight training.  I kept my diet the same, because it was damn near perfect already.  After 8 months of working out, I....had....not....lost...AN OUNCE.  So the trips to the gym became twice a week, and then once a week, until I eventually lost all motivation to keep it up.  I worked out for a year in hopes of losing my fat belly, and still I grew.

Enter the Wheat Belly book.

As soon as I began reading, a dawning awareness began to grow.  Wow, it's the wheat.  We have been told from every angle to "Eat More Healthy Whole Grains", when according to the book, wheat is not fit for human consumption.  The book does a marvelous job of explaining why, so I'll let Dr. Davis do all of that.  But I could honestly say giving up all wheat consumption is something I had not tried..... and as much as I love pasta and pizza, it was a daunting prospect.  So I told myself to give up wheat completely until October 1st, and if there is no change in my weight, I can binge on spaghetti until I puke.

And then....

Day two:  After a wheat-free brekky, I was blown away to find I was not hungry for lunch when noon came around.  That's weird!  I'm usually snacking BEFORE lunch because I can't wait for lunch!  And then it got even weirder.....I was too full to finish my lunch, when usually I devour my whole lunch and look around for more.

Immediately, it was if I was put on an appetite suppressant.  My appetite plummeted.  Cravings, GONE.  Munchies, GONE.  I still get hungry, but with way less frequency and with no urgency.  I was completely astounded that I was eating so little after eliminating wheat!

 One would think that eliminating wheat would result in eating less, because there's not as much to eat.

 Not so.

 I found there were plenty of alternatives once I had my mind set on NO WHEAT.  What I did NOT expect was the tremendous decrease in appetite that set in immediately after stopping the wheat.  My body is simply not craving all the calories it had always craved.  I eat when I want to, and am satisfied with WAY less on my plate.  I am AMAZED!!!!

And now....

One month off of wheat, and I have lost ten pounds.  Just like that.  Just from no wheat.
Not from dieting, not from killing myself in a gym, not from any other weight-loss trick ever invented.
Just from NO WHEAT!  Did I say I was amazed??!!

I can't stop staring at myself in the mirror!  To have results this drastic, this easily, is beyond my wildest hopes.  I am not struggling, I do not feel deprived, I have plenty of energy.  THIS IS NOT A DIET.  This is a permanent lifestyle change I am now full into.  I have found the missing piece....and I am elated.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Analogy

I find a toad in my yard
The bigger the better
I easily catch him

In my hand, he does not have the intelligence to describe what is going on
But his instincts tell him he is in danger, and he releases his bladder on me
I have a fish hook, and two feet of filament
I push the hook into the edge of the toad's mouth, and dangle him in the air by the line

He does not have the intelligence to describe what is going on
But he has the brain structure to feel the pain and the fear
He kicks and twists and struggles to try to escape the danger that has befallen him

I carry him dangling by the hook in his mouth to the dogs' water bucket
I plunge him under the water and hold the line to the bucket's bottom
The toad cannot breath
He kicks and twists and struggles to try to escape the danger that has befallen him

After about 30 seconds, not long, I pull him out of the water
I remove the hook from his mouth
The hook has damaged his flesh some, but my conscious is clear knowing I did not kill the toad
I take him to the edge of the woods, and let I him go

I have had so much fun with all of that, I cannot wait to find another toad and do it again
I hope the next one is even bigger

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mercy Killing Mousse

When Mousse began to falter, I had been through enough dog deaths to know what was coming, and roughly when.  He collapsed when he went for his walk.  He began to quickly loose weight.  His eyes took on that glassy, sunken look.  And then there's that sickly, medicinely smell that comes from the nostrils.  But otherwise, he was still his usual goofy and happy self, with his ceaselessly wagging tail.  I said, "I give him a week. As soon as he stops showing joy, or stops eating, or can't get up off the floor, it is time."

Mousse's last bask in the sun, a week before his death.

But something different happened...probably a mini-stroke, that took out his sight overnight.  He only had to run into walls and trip over things and fall down stairs for two days before I called "The Angel of Death" and arranged for Mousse to die.

Euthanasia is such a dichotic thing.  Mercy killing. It is a twisted kind of kindness, to end the suffering of a creature with a painless death.  We should all be so lucky.  But as I spent the last hours with Mousse by a warm fire, my insides burned with the knowing that someone was coming to stop his heart forever at my request.  You know you are killing your dog.  You know it is his last moments of life.  And you are there to bear witness to the unbearable.  It is the weightiest hard.

Out for his last pee.
  He could feel the grass, and follow my voice.
Look at his tail, a blur.  It never stopped wagging.  

Mousse came to me as a foster dog.  The man who rescued him agreed to pay "doggie child support" as long as it took for Mousse to be adopted, and since he was a good friend to whom I owed many favors, I took Mousse on.  I told my friend, "You may be paying me for awhile, he's huge and black.  On the 1-10 scale of hard dogs to find homes for, he's SO a 10.  If he was small and fluffy and white, you'd be paying me for two days. With this one, it may take two years."  I was a little off with that guess.....Mousse was with me for four years.  Every single prospective home fell through.  I even took him to "Mardi Growl" events with beads around his massive neck, and his huge, 120-pound body as a billboard, big white letters painted on his fur: "I'm homeless!" on one side, "Please adopt me!" on the other, and his name written across his wide ass.  Mousse was a big fat foster failure.

Waiting for The Angel of Death,
 by a warm fire with Mummy.

For reasons no one knows, Mousse was meant to be with me the rest of his life.  But while waiting for the euthanasia, I wondered..... of all the people who have had a part in this dog's life, why is it up to me to order his death?  Why do I have to be the one to comfort his last breath?  Why me?  This is too hard!  I guess the easy answer is..... because I was the one Mousse loved the most.

When it was time, I opted for pre-sedation.  The shot of Telozol made him yelp, and I hurt for that.  The Angel of Death said she does not pre-sedate when she does her own dogs, because she's so good at what she does, she hits the vein the first time and it is over in seconds.  I said, "What a hell of a thing to be good at."  I told her, "Don't go anywhere, I have 8 more dogs for you to do someday."  Maybe I'll opt for no pre-sedation next time.  I felt such gratitude for her....a woman who is good at killing dogs.

Mousse slumped in my arms, sedated, and I laid him down.  The Angel of Death put the tourniquet on his forearm to inject the *Fatal Plus  that would stop his heart.  I had a friend there to hold my hand.  All three of us were sobbing.  Three crying people and one dying dog.  She put both her hands around his huge barrel chest to feel that his heart had stilled; when she took her hands away and started capping her syringes, I knew he was gone.  The instant-ness of death is so disarming.  Alive one second, forever gone the next.

It's done, sweet old Boy.
You're a pup again, in Heaven!  

I loved Mousse so reluctantly at first.  He was such a hard one to handle, as if I invited a bull into my china shop.  But every pound of him grew on me.  He became a presence as big as he was, and he added so much to our lives.  All dogs do, don't they?  That's why we have them.  And that's why we go through the anguish of their deaths over and over; their lives with us make the painful parting worth it.  I'll miss you Schmoosh Schmoosh.  I thought I saw you in the garage this morning...the shadow of your spirit.  You stay here as long as you want, old boy.  My friend Sherry put it best:  "He won't even know he left, he's been living in Heaven on Wood Thrush Ridge all along."

Mousse in his burial shroud, still in the wheel barrel, with his toy.
Oh sweetness, you just look asleep.
It is so hard to put your baby in the ground still warm.  

For anyone facing euthanizing your pet, be sure it is done with a euthanasia solution called Fatal Plus.  It is used at most shelters, and  it is water-based, which means, it injects quickly and does not sting.  I have been through euthanasias with other euthanasia solutions used, and once with disastrous results...it took my Greyhound Dece 10 minutes to die.  Fatal Plus is the only one I'll allow.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I Got the Mortgage Interest Rate Blues

About a year ago, I received a letter from my mortgage company that offered me a free refinance.  No closing costs, no cost to me at all, and they would even send a notary to my house.  Take me from 5.5% to 5%, just because I have a perfect payment record.  I spent ample time on the phone with the Chase guy, and was assured there was no catch.  Really?  Is anything ever free?  But I proceeded; the notary came, I signed the papers, and suddenly had a payment that was $300. less.  Who wouldn't jump on that??!!  I thought it was a tremendous stroke of good luck!

Fast forward to now.  Could Chase have known over a year ago that interest rates would be 2.7% on a 15- year mortgage today?  Because now there is something called the HARP program.  And I DO NOT QUALIFY, because I closed AFTER 2009 (thanks to that free refinance).  With the HARP program, anyone can refinance, regardless of their income, if they closed BEFORE 2009.  My income has dropped so much, no one will refinance me now.  The mortgage companies want my mortgage to be no more that 50% of my income, and it is almost 90%.  They won't touch me.

So without HARP, I have no chance to refinance at these current, amazingly low rates.  Because I jumped on that free refinance from Chase a year ago, I am out of the running.  If I had not done that, my closing date would be recorded as 2005, and I would be a HARP shoe-in.

This is one of those situations where a crystal ball would have been just marvy.  At 2.7%, my payment would be about the same, but over a decade of payments would disappear.

 Oh that hurts.

 Everything happens for a reason, I truly believe that.  But right now, the reason for my having to pay tens of thousands more for my home eludes me.  I have to let this go, and writing helps me do that.  Thanks for listening......

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Last Supper

Never do I feel so alone in the world as when I am mourning a beaver.  Nor do I feel more that I must come from a different place and time.  A beaver was killed.  And it was my beaver, somewhat.  Part of Wood Thrush Ridge is a 9-acre lake...Bream Hole Lake (after my boys' first swim in this lake, we re-named it Lake Leech).  But it is not my lake alone.  My land deed shows I own one edge of Lake Leech; the other edges are owned by 5 other land owners.  Recently, a beaver showed up in this lake, where of course one would...it is water surrounded by delicious trees.  And here is where my aloneness comes in:  I alone think the lake belongs to the beavers (and all other creatures), not to the people who have it drawn on their land deed.  I cannot tell you how solitary this thinking is in my community.  But it is my core belief that this is the land of the animals, and I am on THEIR land...they are not on MY land.  I am just lucky enough to share it with them.

When I was very young, I came across Chief Seattle's poem and the line "We did not create the web of life, we are merely a strand in it".  It settled into my psyche like a stone in soft mud, and lies there still.  So when I heard that the neighbors were out at night to shoot the beaver, I was devastated.  Why does the neighbors' wanting to kill automatically override my wanting to protect?  I understand there are trees in yards that
people want to keep.  But hardware-cloth wrap seems such an easy solution to me....I cannot fathom thinking instead,  "Oh my tree has been chewed, let's kill the beaver".   And likewise, the beaver killers cannot fathom why on God's green earth I would want to let the beavers stay.

We are the only species on the planet that kills out of choice.  A human could go, if it wanted to, from birth to death without killing a single animal.  No other meat-eating animal can do that.  The cheetah on the Kalahari cannot think, "Man, I am craving some meat today, I think I'll off a tommy."  The cheetah has no choice...it must kill or die.  This is what separates me from most of the people here in Tennessee, that I deeply know this: all killing by a human is a conscious choice.  And I myself cannot, in good conscious,  choose to kill  (except a flea).  Thankfully, there are enough food choices at Kroger that I do not have to.  Now if it was 200 years ago and my family was starving, that would be a whole other waxy ball.

For the beaver, I am so sorry I am only one of six.  If it was my lake alone, you would be welcome to be the architect of nature that you are.  You would be able to do your thing in peace, and I would marvel at watching all that you can do.  You are not the first beaver to die here, and you will not be the last.  I wish I could have protected you from the the others who choose to kill you, instead of calling you Kin.

Friday, September 21, 2012

For the Lingering Wood Thrush

Imagine this:
You have a balloon, blown up taught.  Lick your thumb, and rub the balloon until you make a nice squeaking noise.  That's the sound of me making my mortgage payment this month.  Cliche to say that I squeaked by, but I so did.   And since I am OCD about sending an extra principle payment, it's a little worse than it has to be.  But I figure I'm cleaning out the bank account now to buy peace and freedom down the road, and it all seems worth it to me.

Sunrise on Wood Thrush Ridge

Here's the part I love:   When I pay that mortgage and it cleans me out, I do not feel stressed about it, but feel incredible joy.  I get rewards that feel, to me, so much better than a cushy check-book balance.  Like the reward of standing on the edge of my woods at the day's end, listening for lingering wood thrush.   They have long stopped singing, way back in July.  But through the fall, I can still hear them, doing their "pwit pwit pwit pwit" call (sounds like banging two marbles together), or their soft "mur mur mur mur" sounds.  And I wonder, are these the same wood thrush that nested here all season, and stay as long as they can?  Or are they migrants who chose this place for a rest stop?  I have heard wood thrush here as late as the first week of November.  And then they fall silent, as they have gone to winter in Belize.  I pay that mortgage all winter long, so they can come back to protected nesting grounds in April.   I do it for the wood thrushes, and every other creature that uses this 40 acres.  And let's be honest, Janet Lee....I do it for me.  Because nothing gives me more joy than knowing I have kept this land another day.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Here goes.....

My very first blog post.
I know some absolutely amazing bloggers (Stephen Lyn Bales, Vickie Henderson, Julie Zickefoose, Gary Loucks) who have all .....started....right...here.   The very first blog post.
With this choice, to begin a blog, comes the knowing that I have opened up a window to the world, to step right on up and take a look at my life.  And that's alright with me, because I have much to share.

The focus of this blog will be my home, Wood Thrush Ridge, and all the deliciously natural and wild comings and goings of my life on this 40 acres of land.  Seven years ago, I was one of the millions of Americans who were given just about any home mortgage they decided to go for.   And like many of those millions of Americans, this mortgage has now become more than I can handle.  But I feel blessed blessed blessed that I got under the wire on buying this home and land, because living here is my best possible life.   And my greatest goal and most worthy journey is to keep this home, protect this land, and continue to walk this ground.

Soooo, I thought I would live with complete transparency and share my journey with everyone, anyone, every cent of the way.   I am saving for a conservation easement (approximately $10,000), and paying for this place ($256,017.98 balance), and every month brings a small victory when I send in that mortgage payment; I do a happy dance to the mail box each and every time... (internally....the locals think I am weird enough).    I hope to have a blog following who loves nature enough to share these monthly victories with me.   Come along......and let's keep Wood Thrush Ridge as pristine as possible, for countless nesting wood thrushes to come.