Sunday, November 25, 2012

You can please some of the people...

Last night I met a friend for dinner in Nashua. We both wanted to take enjoy the Nashua Winter Stroll. It's a lovely event. All the major downtown streets are closed off. Stores stay open until 10pm. Public buildings, churches, and larger stores all host musical performances. There's a tree lighting and an ice sculpture demonstration in front of city hall.

Several friends who attended said that the event was a boring bust. I had a wonderful time. Those of us who had fun jokingly said that it may have been the company they attended with. They retorted that they had no idea that there were performances going on inside the building. Seriously? Not only was there a downloadable schedule of events, but virtually every store and restaurant had a printed copy near the front of the establishment. If you didn't have a good time, you simply were not trying to!

All the walking around didn't do my chronic pain any good at all. I was extremely sore for at least the last two hours I was walking around. I had my cane with me, but it didn't matter. Anyone else would have left when the pain got severe, or would have opted not to attend an activity that was destined to guarantee an excruciating outcome. However, I have modified my life style so much already over the last few years that I stubbornly refuse to detach myself completely from things I enjoy. I do make some compromises but sometimes I refuse to give into the plaintive voices of the various pains that intrude on my life.

One of the things I needed to take care of this weekend was writing up an announcement for my church newsletter regarding the upcoming titles selected by the book group that I moderate. I've been with this group for a decade. There are six core members, with a few others who move in and out of our orbit.

Our reading choices are all over the map. Our primary focus is literary fiction, but we usually pick up a classic, a science fiction, and a non-fiction title throughout the year. We try to keep our selections under 400 pages, so that everyone can finish the book in a month. We used to have a hard and fast rule that the book had to be "in print" and "in paperback" so that the book was easily available to most who wanted to participate.

Last month we picked a relatively current novel that wasn't available in paperback. When we selected it, the folks who were present decided that it was fine to pick a hardcover as long as it was available in the library since several people never bought the books but always got them at the library. When we met to discuss the book, it turned out that a few of our library-folks hadn't been able to get the book from the library because it had been so popular.

There was some discussion that we should probably avoid "brand new" books since that would make it tough to get them at the library. Our October book had only been out since the end of July. Someone suggested a book for January that had also come out at the same time. The library-folks guessed that it would be fine by then. The state library system has seventeen copies, plus another four in large-print.

For most of my tenure with the group, I have been the primary person recommending books for us to read. More than half the time my choices are shot down. Some of the people who shoot down my choices occasionally make suggestions of their own. So long as we have choices that most of us want to read, I don't care who makes the suggestion.

I tend to recommend titles that are available as audiobooks, since that's the primary way that I 'read'. Once or twice, I have suggested a book that I knew was only available in paperback because it sounded like a good read and worthy of discussion. That last part is sometimes a challenge as well. Just because a book is an enjoyable read, doesn't mean that it will spawn a good discussion.

Last week I suggested another relatively new book for February. Four people chimed in that it sounded like a good choice. This morning, one of the library-folk, Carol, said that it sounded good but that it might be too new to get from the library in time. I decided to check the state library catalog for the book's status. There were seven copies within the system and all were currently checked out.

I founded myself simultaneously bummed and annoyed with the situation. Carol had a point. The book came out in mid-October. February would only be four months after publication. However, here's where my annoyance kicks in. Carol has never suggested something for the group to read, and she didn't offer an alternative this time. So I found myself responding quickly with a bit of venom, which I tempered in the end to hopefully open up the discussion and engage the group in deciding its own operating principals going forward. Here are the questions that I asked and the final point that I made:
  • If we stick to the "paperback" rule, are we assuming that library copies will be readily available at that point?
  • Do books need to be available in e-reader format?
  • Do books need to be available from Audible?
  • If we ditch the paperback rule, how many copies of a book need to be available in the GMILCS system with how many months lead time to assure that the most people in our group will get the chance to read the book before we meet?
  • We do want to make sure that we're reading things that are accessible to the most people. But, we also want to make sure that we are reading things that sound interesting to the most people.
Before receiving Carol's email, I had sent out another book suggestion. In my response to Carol, I pointed out that THAT book was available in paperback but was NOT available in the library system. I truly hope that this interchange with Carol inspires some discussion from the group. I want this group to be of interest to more people, so I don't want to shut down anyone's opinion or stymie their ability to participate. On the other hand, I truly dislike people who are quick to criticize but rare to offer up alternatives themselves. It's far easier to say 'no' than to put your own opinion out there for the judgement of others.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Vegan Thanksgiving

Since I'm trying to be kind to my liver while I pump it full of even more supplements this week, I'm eating vegan, and avoiding processed foods as much as possible on top of that. That means that a lot of my traditional Thanksgiving foods will be missing today. So, I'm trying to make some foods that are interesting or treat-worthy. I plan on making a variety of things that I can munch on for the next couple of days, just like a 'normal' Thanksgiving.
  • Cranberry Sauce (I will be using some raw sugar to help thicken/set it)
  • Roasted Squash w/Cardamom
  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts
  • Salad
  • Chantarelle Mushrooms, sauteed with garlic, parsley, and onions in butter (Must be 'butter', after all these are Chantarelles!)
  • Red beans and red rice, Caribbean style (except that I'm using red rice)
Another tradition that I hope to indulge in is not food related. This morning I'm going to try to tune in on the Macy's parade, even though TV reception here is tough. Then, while I have my dinner I'm going to watch "Dan in Real Life" and/or "Pieces of April". Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Preparing to wallow in the 'ick'

Last Sunday and Monday I felt utterly awful. Headache, nausea, intestinal weirdness, and general 'ick'. I had been taking two new sets of supplements for several days and suspected them. So, Monday I did not take them. Tuesday, I did not take them. By Tuesday afternoon I almost felt like me again. Wednesday, I did not take them. I was definitely back to being me. On Thursday night, I added the least suspicious supplements back into my routine. Friday and Saturday as well. No 'ill' effects. So, yay. The other supplement that I held off on is recommended for liver support/detox. I initially took 2 in the mornings on an empty stomach (well, except for the other 6 pills that I take in the morning on an empty stomach). With all the drugs and supplements I am taking, and the fact that I may actually be experiencing some toxicity from the die off of the Lyme bugs, I do need to help my liver along. Unfortunately, if the liver does its job it will spew some toxins into my system so that they can make their way out. My naturopath warned me that if the Lyme started dying off, I could feel worse before I felt better. So, I am hoping that last week's episode was a good sign. However, I couldn't afford to be as ill as I was last Monday for the rest of last week. So, I've decided to reintroduce the Vital Nutrients Liver Support II (with Picrorhiza) into my system this week. This morning and tomorrow morning I will just take one of them. From Thursday on I'll go for two pills. To help my system deal with the potential flood of toxins, I decided that I needed to detoxify my diet as much as possible. So long as I have an appetite, I will be eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole unprocessed grains. This means that I will be cooking for myself a lot, and hopefully eating a lot of raw food as well. Since I do need to 'work' today and tomorrow, I need to keep taking my Adderall to stay productive and focused. However, to give my system a break from at least one drug, I plan on staying off all amphetamines for the holiday weekend. I had plans to join some friends on Thursday, but decided that it was better not to 'plan' on doing anything this weekend. There are things I want to try to do. but that will all depend on how I end up feeling. At the very least I'll probably be sluggish and feeling a little 'ick'. Though I am mentally prepared to feel utterly wretched. While planning on making myself ill may not sound like a great way to spend Thanksgiving weekend, if this helps rid me of the Lyme buggers I will have something to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


A few weeks ago, I turned the ripe old age of fifty. Leading up to the actual birthday I would occasionally ponder 'the meaning' of such a significant birthday. Why is it significant? Fifty is just some number, divisible by five and ten

Does it mark the half way point of life? Statistically, I probably reached my half way point more than ten years ago.

AARP was gracious enough to offer me membership. Now I get lots of advertisements for medicare supplemental insurance, medical devices, and independent living facilities.

Other than that, do I get any benefit from turning 50? Not really. It just means I'm that much closer to retirement.

One of the things that I've noticed in my aging ruminations. I've looked around at my neighbors and younger friends. From my perspective, their lives remind me of busy busy bees or ants. Running here, running there. Pursuing mates. Shepherding children to activities. Striving in their careers. I'm not judging them. I'm just so glad to be passed all that. I've met all those goals that I cared to. What are my goals now?

I want to retire before I'm too broken to enjoy my leisure. I have no great aspirations for traveling the world or becoming some super charged senior volunteer. I just want to live a quiet existence where I can read, learn, and observe the world, and hopefully enjoy the company of good friends. It may sound boring to many, but to me it sounds like heaven.