Monday, May 26

A Great Day All Around

We got out of “the box” today. We went up to The OC to accomplish several things.

First was lunch. We went to Islands, we love their Cobb salad and it fits our dietary program. When you diet eat like a caveman (paleo), you don’t get hungry—honest—and when you do eat, everything tastes so dang good it makes me look like a rock star in the kitchen. When I can remember to take some pictures of the incredible food I’ve been making, I’ll post them and give you the recipes. Yowza!

Then we went to Pottery Barn to see and touch some of the things we have seen in their catalog that we want for our new house. Everything is just how we imagined it. Perfect! And we have a 15% off coupon! Woot—can’t wait!


Next, we went to see a movie, Chef. Omygosh what a delicious movie! There was actually applause at the end. I wanted to watch it again.MV5BMTY5NTYzNTA1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODIwODU1MTE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_

There’s a fantastic “little” cinema in Laguna Niguel that I loved so much that when we moved to the central coast I actually missed it. I didn’t figure it would still be there some 10+ years later. Well, it is, O happy day! They don’t have the big blockbusters, you won’t find Godzilla there, but the little films that I adore. And it’s not far from the new house. How happy am I!

Lastly, we went to see the house. No one was working so we got to go in and prowl around. Much progress has been made…we have cabinets! 007

The paint is WAY lighter than what I expected, in fact I’d argue that it’s wrong, and I will take the sample just to check, but I don’t mind it and it is a nice contrast against the cabinets. Here’s another look. The wood floor is there under the paper. 008

They have been working on changing out the fireplace…they removed the wrong one but that’s as far as they got. 006

It was a beautiful day today and we DIDN’T HAVE ANY TRAFFIC coming home. Pretty amazing right there, considering it was a holiday.

I hope you had a good holiday weekend.

Sunday, May 25

A Tirade on Big Food

We are still in a holding pattern here. And darn tired of it, I might add. It really drives home the reason why I wanted to move from the desert altogether instead of getting a [little, old, skanky] condo near the coast to escape the summer heat. I would be sitting there for three-plus months of the year in limbo, eating comfort food. Like I did here, for a while. And then I woke up. But first, a house report. One month to go.

We haven’t been up to the house for a while, we went last week but there were so many workers and vehicles zooming this way and that, that we left. They were grading the driveway and walkway and everything was torn up.


While we were up in The OC we went to see the movie Fed Up. This really fired me up. I urge you to see it, especially if you have children in your lives. Click the link—the trailer will tell you much more than I can.


With waaaay too much time on my hands, and inherently knowing that the easy convenience/comfort foods (like chicken asparagus noodle casserole with canned soup) we had been eating in our little prison are not good for us, I started reading up on diet and nutrition. There is an amazing amount of information to wade through. One thing leads to another, which leads to another, and so on. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface, but I’ve learned a lot already.

First up: Wheat. What the heck is wrong with wheat! Wheat’s the staff of life, right? It’s in the Bible, for crying out loud! Here’s the news: Modern wheat has been genetically modified to yield ten times more grain per acre, and the seeds have been shot with pesticides. In short, it ain’t your grandma’s wheat. We humans can’t process the high levels of gluten that exist in our American wheat. Other countries have banned GMO wheat, by the way.

Even if you aren’t gluten-intolerant, chances are you might be sensitive to it in some way. Gluten causes inflammation, and ….well, see the picture. There are many more ills not illustrated, like allergies, sinus infections, migraines, persistent rashes that might get better if you don’t eat wheat.


You might try giving up wheat (other grains have been modified by GMOs too, so we don’t eat them either) for a month and see if some of these problems don’t get better. I have not had a migraine in five weeks, but it’s still early.

As we age, we accept some things as a normal part of aging. Things like an expanding waistline, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, etc—we think it’s inevitable. That ain’t necessarily true.  But don’t take my word for it, go see this guy—he shares a wealth of information on his website.


It won’t be long before the Wheat Industry (Big Food) storms in and debunks this theory. Wait and see. They have a lot at stake and they will not take this lying down. 

Second: Fat

Let me introduce you to a man named Ancel Benjamin Keys. In the 1950s, Mr. Keys did a bad thing. He conducted a study with several countries and determined that eating saturated fat causes heart disease. Seems simple enough, but what Keys did was to cherry-pick the results to support his hypothesis. He threw out the data that did not fit! And that study is what became the basis of the Standard American Diet for years.

As the decades rolled by, people ate fat-free foods and thought they were doing the right thing. The USDA (subsidized by Monsanto, by the way) said, “Grains are the cornerstone of a healthy diet! Eat more grains! Buy this cereal—it’s heart-healthy! It’s low in fat and it’s good for you!” (And cheap to produce, with high profits.)


Then they created High Fructose Corn Syrup and put it in our food because it was cheaper than sugar and made the food taste better. They put it into everything. Just try to get out of the supermarket without buying anything that contains HFCS or its sweet cousins. If it comes in a box or carton, it likely contains some permutation of sugar. It’s about profits, my darlings.

Nowadays you will see whole sections of your supermarket shelves stocked with gluten free products, but they use chemicals and substitutes and aren’t great for you—and supposedly taste awful, but I’ve never tried them and I won’t. Even things that never had gluten in them to begin with claim to be “Gluten Free!” It’s marketing, and it has spawned whole new product lines, just like Fat Free.

I think I digressed, sorry. I was talking about fats. For years we have been told fat is bad, don’t eat it. Especially butter! <gasp> So Big Food made margarine, even low-fat and fat-free margarine, which are loaded with trans-fats which we now know are bad, bad juju. We now know grains are the bad guys and fats are the good guys, exactly the opposite of what we have been told (doctors, too) was healthy. It has been proven that eating eggs do not give you high cholesterol and eating butter does not make you fat.

Third: Sugar.

Capture Look at this nutrition label. I don’t know what it’s for, I just snipped it from Google Images. But look at the percentages for things like Fat and Sodium. Notice Sugar does not have a % of Daily Value. This is the result of the sugar lobbyists winning this point: To keep the truth hidden from the consumer.

It’s the same thing that happened with the tobacco industry in the 70s. They KNEW! They knew that nicotine was addicting and they knew that smoking caused cancer. But they lied.

This is happening with sugar. We all avoid eating too much sugar because we know it causes obesity and diabetes. Yet Big Food sneaks it in everything and markets it to little kids in bright packaging and on cartoon shows. Most schools outsource lunches to Pizza Hut and McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola. Sugar is addictive. It is more addictive than cocaine. And Big Food knows it. They hook the kids early.

If the kids are fat, or bouncing off the walls, or if you’ve followed a “recommended” low calorie, low fat diet only to put all it back on, it’s not your fault. It’s Ancel Keys’ fault. And Big Food, who has a vested interest in making a tidy profit.

Saturday, May 17

Fire and Smoke


Fortunately we were not in the path of the fires, although some were fairly close, but we were directly in the path of the smoke. The smoke was bad—our eyes and throats were irritated, and fine gray ash swirled everywhere.


They suspect a couple teenagers started some of these fires. This is so hard to fathom.


Unfortunately, wildfire is a part of life in southern California, and we have been directly in the path of fire before (the 1993 Laguna Beach fires). There is nothing scarier than seeing a wall of flame coming toward your house (okay, maybe a bear or shark coming at you). There were hunks of blackened cinders the size of my foot in our back yard. That fire was also set by an arsonist and destroyed many homes.

There is nothing sadder than seeing someone’s home and possessions devastated. Everything gone.

I have never seen anything like these “firenadoes” in my life. Extremely scary.



It was uncomfortably hot in the apartment for a while, but we were never in any danger. The hot, dry Santa Ana winds have subsided and the usual onshore flow has returned. Temperatures are back in the normal range and the smoke is now being carried back toward the fires and parts east, and we are breathing better.

Forty more days. FORTY MORE DAYS! We are 70 down, 40 to go.

Monday, May 12

Valleys and Peaks

What I mean is, life and time pass not in a steady line, but more like peaks and valleys. Ups and downs. We’ve been in a valley for a long while. No bummers, it’s just slow. But yesterday we had a peak. I have something to blog about!

First, we went up to The OC to see the house. We hadn’t been for a while, so we saw lots of progress. I swear it’s like waiting for a baby to be born. SIX MORE WEEKS! ARGGGGH!

The house has been painted, and it’s not as bad a yellow as I thought it would be—it shows up lighter in the photos than it really is. I don’t know why. 047

What I don’t get is why they would paint three houses in a row yellow. Slightly different shades, but still yellow. Ours is kind of an earthy yellow, even though it looks cream in the photos. Trust me, it’s YELL-LOW.


This will be the kitchen. Texture is being sprayed on the walls and the ceiling has been painted (some shade of white). The walls will be Sherwin Williams “Softer Tan.” The door goes to the laundry, pantry, and garage. Master bedroom on the right. 043

This is the so-called great room. The fireplace surround is not supposed to be there. We paid extra ($2,000) to NOT have it, if you can believe that. They will remove it; it’s already been handled. It’s amazing how much larger the rooms seem now. It’s coming together!044

Here’s our itty-bitty back yard. A whopping 13’ to the fence, LOL! But there’s enough space for a hot tub by the bedroom (yay). Our bedroom door is where that white sack is. The pole will go away, of course. 042

Then we went to the “Kid’s” house for Mother’s Day dinner. Here is Michelle, my stepdaughter; the dearest, sweetest person you ever met. Yes, she is wearing a tiara. Chris is cooking salmon and sauteed spinach. Delicious! He’s a great cook. They are both slim because THEY DON’T EAT WHEAT! And neither do we, any longer. But that’s a subject for another day. 


Here’s Savannah. She turned 6 a couple weeks ago. She’s a little pistol. 048

Around the corner from their house, we got in a hit-and-run accident. Nobody was hurt but our nerves were frazzled. A great big truck zoomed up to within a foot from us, then backed way off, then zoomed up again, then backed off, and when we went to turn onto their street, he rammed us good. We saw it coming in our mirrors, so it was scary. He sped off before I could see his full license. J turned back to the main street and chased after him, but he was nowhere to be found.

Chris suggested we call the police and file a report, which turned out to be a smart idea. The officer came and spent a long time taking the report, and said he was going to go look for the truck. Slow day in San Clemente, I guess. Anyway, he was a delightful young man and joked around with us. We were out there quite a while, so there was some clowning around.055

Michelle is no longer wearing the tiara because *I* am wearing it!

Wednesday, May 7


We haven’t been to the new house in a while, so no new photos. Our focus has been on eating. Honestly!


Warning: Today’s blog entry is a rant of sorts. I recently read a book called “Wheat Belly,” and, thanks to Judy in Washington, I read a lengthy synopsis of the book “Grain Brain.”

I don’t have any sensitivity to wheat or gluten, at least I didn’t think I did, but when I read that wheat (i.e. gluten) could be a migraine trigger, that got my attention! For a long time I kept a migraine diary and never could identify the trigger…it was not the usual suspects like chocolate, wine, or cheese. Bright lights or reflective flashes of sunlight do it sometimes, but not always, so the jury is still out on that. I know for certain that if I play 18 holes of golf in extreme (106+) heat I will often get a migraine. But not always.

More often that not I’d get a migraine in absence of those triggers.

ab96daa8e7306d155fec9a7b9af06551 Whoever made these illustrations of the migraine aura did a damn fine job.

But wheat? Healthy whole grains? The backbone of a USDA-approved healthy diet? Could a healthy turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread be the culprit? The anti-wheat brigade says “it definitely could!”

There might be other sensitivities (e.g. aspartame) that trigger migraines, but the wheat connection can’t be denied. That’s enough for me right there! Since I stopped eating wheat I have not had a migraine, but that in itself won’t mean much until more time has elapsed. I hate the meds I take for migraine SO MUCH that I’ll try anything! Gladly!

So, in addition to focusing my attentions on food itself (it takes forever to read all those labels!) I have been reading everything I can find online (and there is a staggering amount of info out there, thank you Al Gore for inventing the internet) about wheat.

Just one more word before I get down from the soapbox: J and I have both been wheat-free and [nearly] sugar-free for several weeks now and we BOTH feel better than we have in years. YEARS! We have more energy, sharper mental clarity, better moods, we’re sleeping SO much better…and hunger pangs are gone.

Cooking in the apartment is limited by the lack of spices, equipment, and ventilation, so we started eating things like chicken pot pies, English muffins with jam, blueberry muffins, Stouffer’s dinners, deli-prepared sandwiches, spaghetti, tuna noodle casserole, and cookies. We normally don’t eat cookies but we tasted a sample of these and we bought some because they are incredible. We know sugar is poison, but we conveniently forgot because it was a just temporary situation. That was our reasoning. What the hell.

But after just a few weeks of eating like that, we were feeling like crap. We had no energy, no “chi.” But all that has changed. We’ve lost some weight, but we don’t have a scale so we don’t know how much, we just know we feel a heck of a lot better.