Monday, January 31, 2011

Smart as can be

The Original Smart Cookie company contacted me and offered me some healthy cookies.

Oh, man, I cringed.

Oxymoron—healthy cookie—if you listen to the food nannies. But I don’t, so I said, “Do they taste like sileage, you know, cow chow? Or are they like carrot cake—may contain a veggie, but still qualify as dessert.

Turns out it’s the latter. These things are delish!

I liked the kind called Gimme a Beat the best—they contain BEETS, raspberries, oats, brown sugar and white chocolate—they are pink and taste like raspberry jam. Not beety at all.

There was a kind called Yellow Mellow with corn, squash, cauliflower, and apples. Also fab.

Choco Loco—contains peas. Whoops. My kid loathes peas. She would not try it, but I liked it—must have been the apricots alongside the brocc, zucc, and apples.

There was also a peanut butter version.

As you can tell from the brown sugar and chocolate refs, these are not low cal…about 100 cals or more a cookie.

They are dessert! But with today’s new guidelines out on how we should eat more veggies (hasn’t this come up before?), maybe we could stretch a point with these smarties. Check out

They also come in bite-size.

Handy, handy, handy.

Friday, January 28, 2011

More from Shaman Brant

There is a rumor going around that Oprah has quit dieting. Skies open, hosannas!

See below—Brant Secunda and Mark Allen wrote Fit Soul: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You. Apart from the sunshiny title, they have some ideas worth considering.

Eat decent amounts at one sitting, even if it’s “good” stuff like veggies. Eating too many calories of ANY food makes your body think, “Famine coming, better store this up.”

Eat frequently—small amounts. The brain thinks, “Whew, there will be more.”

Don’t cut back and then binge later. At the cutback, the body stops burning.

Eat good-looking food. Appealing food sends messages to the brain that allow you to use it better.

Don’t cut out all fat. Fat helps you absorb vitamins. If you eat too little, you also may eat more carbs.

Avoid sugar spikes---juices, refined grains or sugary snacks release insulin---converting extra sugar into fat.

Drink a ton of water.

Think fiber. Whole grains, legumes, fruits such as apples and berries.

Eat slowly.

Be sure to get enough protein.

To re-establish a “good” relationship with food, eat with gratitude—even if you didn’t have to plant it or shoot it yourself.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's that time again--recession-style

Ah, Girl Scout Cookie time. Life is good.

Not so fast. Shelly Banjo, WSJ, Jan 27, 2011, says you may find some favorites missing this year. To cut costs, Dulce de Leche, Thank U Berry Munch, among others, have been toasted.

Don’t worry! Do-Si-Dos, Trefoils, and Thin Mints—still being offered. Samoas, Lemon Chalet Cremes, and Tagalongs are also coming back.

The downsizing of the cookies. It is kinda sad, in a way. Nothing ever lasts.

The GS leaders say it’s in the name of simplicity. But, actually five types made up 77% of the revenue.

There were….losers.

The 80-20 rule, of course!

The Dulce de Leche were baked to attract the Hispanic market—but just as many non-Hispanic as Hispanics bought them--and apparently not enough of them.

Last year they also tried cutting the size of the box by one ounce. This year, the price will go up instead.

These little entrepreneurs are on fire, by the way! They sell thousands of boxes each, some of them.

One youngster liked Dulce de Leches so much, she hoarded some—but her Dad ate them.

That part, at least, has not changed. Dads will do that.

This is making me hungry—cookies are good, not bad. The heck with the nutrition badge.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sad, but true

Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, Jan 25, 2011, says it’s hard to know what to do when someone dies.

I am at the age where people are…well…ticking down. First, I find I have to make expressions via email sometimes, which seems pretty breezy to me. I do send a card if I can get to the store.

Often, people say the wrong thing—and know it—so the next time, they say nothing or wait and wait until it’s not timely.

How do you know if the person wants sympathy, interruptions, the necessity of small talk or a breakdown moment? Well, you don’t.

One woman in the story said she’d rather hear something trite than nothing, like her grief was nothing. Maybe that is a rule of thumb.

Val Walker wrote The Art of Comforting,

You can email or text, but also go in person if you can. Let the bereaved take the lead, talk about what he or she wishes.

Suggest some specific help—want me to mow the lawn Saturday? I could take the kids tomorrow if you want.

Don’t just haul over a ton of food. One gal had no appetite and gave it to her dogs.

Some people liked if friends brought up a nice memory of the person.

If the mourner is not religious, this might not be the time to say something like, “He is with Jesus now.”

Also forget: “He is at peace.” “She is out of pain.” “It’s almost a blessing.” “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Don’t post on Facebook unless the death is mentioned there.

This isn’t easy—but to freeze and do nothing is worse.

And don’t stop—don’t shy away after the funeral. Comforting takes a lot of time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Eat like a shaman

Let’s face it—our bodies carry our brains around, but these flab factories are not always our friend.

It’s that darn evolution.

Survival genetics—that is the problem here. Our bodies want to do one thing—stay functioning no matter what—and our civilization (for want of a better word) wants to change on us and offer up a constant smorgasbord of yummies.

Primitive bod--modern food sources...Not good.

Shaman-Healer Brant Secunda, author of Fit Soul: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You” ( says when you eat a big meal to prevent snacking later—your body reads this as a signal that food might be scarce in the near future—and the fat-burning mechanism shuts off. So you can even get fat from rice and veggies!

I have also heard that not eating enough cals can shut something off or turn something on—that makes you fat, too.

Shaman Secunda says we need to regain our ancient relationship with food as fuel and medicine.

Maybe you get happier not obsessing over all this. Just a thought.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Smoking Mom's bath salts

Do I really have to type this up? You want to smoke Mom’s stuff on the tub shelf?

I used to know a guy named Rocky who would take a pill—you could hold out any pill and say what is this and he would pop it in and say, “Will let you know.”

I guess some teens got sick of licking toads and started in on the cosmetic shelf, because some otherwise serious folks think this is a growing drug problem.

One dude did this and suddenly decided to cut his stomach open.

Red Dove, Vanilla Sky—these have names now.

Apparently this stuff not only smells divine, but has stimulants in it.

In Louisiana the salts are already banned.

Why do bath salts need all this stuff in them?

Come on, kids. Wise up. Maybe even go to school.

And Mom? If the bath salts seem to be disappearing fast and the kid doesn’t smell delish, check it out.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It was a very good month

David Kesmodel, WSJ, Jan 21, 2011, says today’s wine drinkers are getting pretty unpicky.

Apparently the industry was recessed, but is now coming back—but people want to pay less. Well, duh!

Many wineries switched to cheaper vintages and are staying switched. Nine to $12 a bottle is a popular range.

One vineyard owner says the market will never be what it was.

By volume, consumption is up 2% over the year before, but the money isn’t there. Restaurants and casinos may be buying more, though.

Still, eateries are selling more by the glass.

To one place, this meant no hiring until more people started springing for the pricier bottles.

If this gets too down to earth, I will miss the snooty descriptions. Instead of swirling and saying, “Ah, quite precocious…with a hint of leather” will oenophiles say, “Hmmm, needs another year of preschool…and is that peanut butter I detect?”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ooops--doc almost kills her dog

A physician writes in the NYT’s “Well Blog” (Jan 20, 2011), that she gave her limping German shepherd ibuprofen (three 600-mg pills) and he stopped eating and wet himself during the night.

Motrin is poison for dogs. The dog, Dexter, pulled through, but it cost the doctor $3,000.

Her kids told all her friends—Mom almost killed the dog!

Yeah,, the little ones are so great in that department.

She thought it would be OK because he takes glucosamine and thyroid medicine meant for people. Also Pepcid and Imodium (this pup might have issues).

She had also had dogs that ate what we call Doggy Death here—chocolate—and lived.

Well, ibuprofen is double trouble—ulcers and kidney failure.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) also a no-no. Grapes and raisins can lead to kidney failure in dogs and cats. A whole bunch of onions—anemia. Macadamia nuts—muscle problems.

The worst is Xylitol—don’t let the dog chew gum.

For joint pain—Rimadyl maybe—though don’t take it yourself—it’s toxic to humans.

I use my cat’s antibiotic cream. Here I am—alive.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I think that I shall never see--welcome to poetry therapy

Linda Wasmer Andrews wrote about this. Poetry therapy goes back to the shamans, who used to chant poems for sick people.

There is a National Association for Poetry Therapy.

The therapy part can come from reading or writing.

But aren’t poets er…crazy? Supposedly, creative people have a higher incidence of mental disorder—especially female poets.

Poetry, this author says, has many opportunities for distortion or fragmentation, which can attract certain thinking. But this doesn’t mean it causes mental illness—and it may help it.

The author wrote first about a miscarriage she had suffered. It helped her. It can help people get a grasp of difficult emotions. Doing the poem might even have been a sort of birthing experience in itself.

Disclosing emotions—even in a poem (or in my case, a website) be beneficial without the aid of a therapist.

The other day on my Recession site ( a reader suggested my post was personal as was his comment. Yes, I do that—it helps me and maybe someone else, too.

I hope anyhow. Our experiences are not so totally unique as we sometimes think.

Try dragging out a poetry book, reading a poem each day...Can lead you some places.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kids who are bad sleepers

Andrea Petersen, WSJ, Jan 18, 2011, says some recent studies show that kids who had trouble sleeping at 12-14 years of age were more than two times as likely to have suicidal thoughts at 15-17.

Kids who shorted out on sleep also had an increased chance of binge drinking later on or get an anxiety disorder.

Addressing sleep problems early, in other words, can head off trouble.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 14-15 hours of sleep for babies, 12-14 for toddlers, 11-13 for preschoolers, 10-1l for school age children, and 9-10 for teens.

That’s a lot.

If it takes more than 30 mins to fall asleep, this is considered insomnia. It’s estimated 13% of school children have it. Or kids can;t stay asleep.

About a quarter of preschoolers seem tired at least a few days a week.

Some recommendations: Set a bedtime and wake time, even on weekends. Ban TV and computer half an hour before, and try to prevent anxiety (see below). Medication is usually not for kids. No caffeinated pop.

Create a calming ritual for bedtime, a warm bath, reading.

Turn off lamps and TVs—they can suppress the sleep hormone melatonin.

Try to teach kids to switch to happier thoughts—a fun jokey time with friends, praise from a teacher.

Still, some teens get up at 3 am to see if they got a text. What are ya gonna do?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Poverty and fear--in your dreams

Marilyn Elias, LA Times, Jan 17, 2011, says anxiety dreams are swarming us in this recession.

I know they are getting to me. People trapped actually underwater (from all the writing about underwater mortgages and how we will become Waterworld Without the Water?), chasing, freezing and can’t move, endlessly wandering through rooms, malls, and hotels I have never seen or been in. Wandering, wandering.

How about the school dream—you are new on the job or in a class and everyone except you knows what to do, how to find the room, what was said all semester.

Deirdre Barrett, editor of Dreaming, says these dreams are on the upswing.

Other “recession” images include cracked or crumbling walls, interlopers moving into your home, A threat to your home represents your basic security.

I have dreams where I am opening bills I cannot pay.

A woman in the article tried to pay with Portuguese money—no one would take it.

Survivors of other traumas often dream of water, tidal waves, brought on by the recession and finally drowning them.

Psychologists think such dreams can actually slowly bring resolution, recovery. The part of the brain governing dreaming can devise new ways of thinking.

“Focused, waking thought can get us in a rut,” said one source.

When I wake gasping, my one thought is, “At least I finally fell asleep.” Then I get up, walk around, play part of an audiobook, anything to make sure I don’t go right back where the monsters are.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Do you have a winter hairstyle--besides hathead?

Joey Noufal, owner of Noufal Hair Color Studio (dot com), recommends winterizing hair and skin.

What? You don’t like the itchy fish scale look?

Joey says to assess your hairstyle. Bangs can be worn shorter in winter due to lack of humidity. If you have curly hair, it may be straighter in winter.

If you use a defrizzer in summer, you can switch to a moisturizing shampoo in winter.

Humidity in summer is a great skin moisturizer, but it must be replaced with product in winter.

Be sure the moisturizer is dry before applying foundation. You can blow dry your face on a low setting to get it dry.

You can use less hair gel in winter.

It takes less time to blow hair dry in winter. If you dry twice to get the humidity out, you can skip that in winter.

Wear more makeup in winter, though. Extra moisturizer makes makeup soak in. Don’t stint on the lipstick.

This just makes me FEEL supple and well, sorta greasy…but I know what to do.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can you have a romance texting?

Does love really transcend communication? I know some people, even older people, who are still sort of on the lookout for love, but what’s up with this in the electronic age?

Someone very close to me found a mate online, so that has been legitimatized.

Cutie and appreciator of older women (when he isn’t sampling younger ones) Ashton Kutcher asks in Harper’s Bazaar whether texting has killed romance.

He is a huge tweeter—Demi, too.

He says in his essay that he often thinks of the billions of intimate exchanges sent daily and bouncing between satellites and servers. That is a kind of a nice picture.

Someone would meet someone, he said, they would both wait to hear the phone ring. A two-hour conversation would follow.

Now, numbers are exchanged. Someone texts because it’s easier to back off a rejection. “It was NICE meeting u.” Hmmm, why the caps in NICE? You might even ask a friend—Ashton says. Then you text something you revise ten times—you want to appear 2care, but not care 2 much.

Natural selection, he even suggests, may favor the quick-thumbed quip peddler over the confident, ice-breaking alpha male. (I gather Ashton is not a fast typist.)

Tweets just show someone publicly, he says, that they are adored. Who doesn’t like that?

We may be neglecting romance, he says.

You’d have to go on a date for that, I guess.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What to do if you know someone like this

Mental illness is so misunderstood, so hard to pin down, so scary, people tend to try to ignore it even in their families--or especially in their families.

The Tucson tragedy is a case in point.

You may not know your legally adult child is posting things on the internet about how he could eat a dead body whole.

Or plotting for years to kill a member of Congress who had sort of brushed him off.

Someone you know may be withdrawn, in tears all day, saying irrational things, hearing things, seeing things you don’t see, or holding ideas that are not mainstream or which do not make “sense.” That person may also be taking drugs to make this stop.

Mental illness is from imbalances in the brain, made worse by stress. It’s like someone put tainted oil in a car—it won’t run correctly. The commonest types are depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders.

Someone in your family may be acting threateningly or strangely. At least see what you are looking at. Go to:

It’s a start. You may have heard you cannot commit someone to treatment as easily as before a lot of programs were cancelled a few years ago and the hospitals emptied out into the streets. Or you may think your insurance won’t pay or you can’t pay.

This may all be true—but you know if you need to do something. And today’s the day. You do not ever want to go through what those Saturday morning shoppers did in Tucson—and you can’t want to be the family saying you are so sorry, but you just can’t think of any words that will help.

There aren't any words that can help. Only actions--and now.

Call (800) 273-TALK.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sorry, no ER for stomach flu

According to Christopher Zipp, a family physician at the UMDNJ School of Osteopathic Medicine, stomach flu may be miserable, but you can probably forget the ER.

Of course, if you are wracked with nausea, vomiting, the trots, fatigue, fever/chills, muscle aches, and a headache, you may feel like you want it cured.

Young people and older adults can spew out all the liquid in their bodies and get dehydrated, which sounds kind of bland, but can interfere with the heart.

This is a virus, though. Antibiotics do not kill viruses. And if you take them for no reason, they allow the bugs all around us to gain strength against them, without being killed, and things result like antibiotic-resistant staph. Bad, bad.

If you wake up achy and sick to your stomach, stay home. Drink plenty of water or watered down juice. Rest (like it's your choice). Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Tylenol.

And wash your hands, do yucky bed linens separately from the family wash, and just wait it out.

A couple of days should bring improvement. If you have a continued high fever or vomit uncontrollably, do call the doctor.

I also groan a lot and demand good treatment from anyone who will listen.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Who needs a farmer?

Eat microgreens! As the name implies you will need…um…a lot!

I saw seeds of some peppery type on Amazon for $3.50. Yes, seeds—you grow these yourself on the windowsill.

I wonder if they are like sprouts…the little stick-in-your-throat kind with a dirt-tasting seed attached…think?

Still, could be a source of nutrients…

We also had a story about growing food in your front yard. Susie Steckner, AZ Republic, Jan 8, 2011.

I already have prickly pear cacti there—the Mexican women around here make salsa from them—but they are too stickery for me!

Apparently out here people grow grapes on their arbors, rosemary hedges, mint, herbs…All I see is half-dead bougainvillea.

Others have “edible landscapes.” They build rooftop gardens for more goodness! Man, I am a grinding, terrible failure.

Wait—they said to start small. Tomatoes, lettuce and beans. Assuming you like those.

Heck—I have a pond full of fish…Maybe… way.

I have seen a blue heron snacking there twice. But it’s not like we’re having goldfish salad sandwiches.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Advice from Canada on how to stay alive

Joanne Richard, Toronto Sun, says eat raw garlic, drink brewer’s yeast, and take a cold shower to prevent colds.

Well, the raw garlic would insure no kissing, so maybe. Brewer’s yeast—my mother used to feed that to us—makes you flatulent, same result. . The shower—well, no way. Does sitting at my desk shivering count for ANYTHING?

Gene Stone wrote a book called The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick. Some of the people—and the secrets—are weird, such as eat your nose leavings.

Nap a lot is another piece of advice.

Don’t be too clean is another tip. Some people even eat dirt to get Vitamin B12 and create more antibodies.

Other tidbits—stretch a lot, drink cranberry juice, eat apples, adopt a pet, and drink some gold.

Drink some gold?

Oh—and let me know how this works out for ya…ka-choo!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Are we BFLs about our eating?

Forget all the rash resolutions (briefly) making an appearance. Even without those, Consumer Report Health says nine out of 10 Americans describe their diet as somewhat very, or extremely healthy.


One dietitian in a story on this by Erik Hogstrom, said people will see spinach-artichoke dip and think hey, spinach. Well, yeah!

Almost 80% of Americans rarely or never count calories.

Few Americans get weighed everyday (13%).

Under a third eat five or more fruit and veggie servings. By the way, this means a quart of plant matter. A quart!

Of course, this is why we are fat as Volkswagens.

I don’t eat potato chips, daily Big Macs, or even very many sweets (I am all about salt). I know the calories in EVERYTHING from a lifetime of automatically adding them up.

But I would not say I am a healthy eater. In fact, today, someone said try bok choy (we got off politics and on to how to be poor). I got some bok choy. It was like something I chopped out of the front yard.

Actually, I have prickly pear cacti out there, people eat that—maybe tomorrow.

By the way, those Wendy's salads? Bad for ya.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Quit trying to improve me

I worked pretty hard for more than six decades to get this twisted, funny, irrational, and yes, even sometimes thoughtful.

Yet, politicians of every stripe can’t wait to slam me into a box and fluff me up.

Laura Landro writes about this in the WSJ, Jan 4, 2011—it’s about the mayors trying to healthen us.

They can’t outlaw soda or fries, so why not tax them out of reach—kind of like gas will soon be.

San Fransisco is ixnaying happy meals unless they consist of cabbage and gruel. Kidding—gruel has carbs.

They already tell us how much to exercise—half an hour, 20 mins, in 10-minute increments, use the stairs, park far from the office, ride your bike to work, 3,000 steps, 10,000 steps…ack.

Something called the Healthy Communities Institute tracks 100 health indicators. You can go to the CDC’s National Environmental Public Health Network ( to track everything that is out to get ya.

We need more bike paths, more bike lanes, fewer poisonous cars, on and on.

Yes, we could probably eat less and take walks. But this country is BROKE, people…We can’t be lavishing money on all this.

Put the info out there and leave us alone. We are trying to make a living and many of us—millions!--don’t even have an office to park far from.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

My trip to the doctor--was not awful

I know, I know—I am a worrier. Wasted time and all that. Well, this time it was!

I decline to get weighed at doctors—I just say no. Guess my weight, write FAT, ask me for a number, anything, but don’t try to get me in a power play over the scale.

This new doctor’s office said, no problem, lots of people don’t want to get weighed.

Whoa, wait a hot second, am I in heaven?

The new primary was nice, smiling, listened to my ramblings, seemed like she would recognize me if I came before her again. She ordered a cholesterol test…I said I am not taking a statin..She said there are other things and we don’t even know if you need anything.

A test, then a drug—this was new. My mother once had a doctor who handed me a prescription for a harsh osteoporosis drug for her. I said does she need this? They said, “Well, she’s old.”

So, this was good. Still, I think a little worry is OK when it comes to health.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Going to the doctor tomorrow--major deal

I am going to meet my new primary physician tomorrow. Good, you say? No, no, not good! I am a ball of dread, fear, anger, suspicion—every medical encounter I have had in AZ has been weird, botched surgery, long waits, attempted lectures about weight—now I hear they may also ask me to specify my death wishes.

Can’t we just get our prescriptions renewed and go on walking around?

Men and women, I once wrote, make different health blunders. It’s usually men who don’t want to go. Men are great deniers, I would told. They don’t like prostate exams, colonoscopies, they don’t check for testicular cancer, they eat drive-through.

But women also screw up. They take everyone but themselves to the doctor—the kid, the aging parent, the dog, the cat.

They are careless about birth control, women. They get STDs because they don’t want to rock the boat.

Women cross their legs at the knee—this can cause bulging veins. They skip breakfast. They don’t examine their breasts for lumps. They don’t get their blood tests.

OK, we are all bums. And tomorrow I get to be the bum on the spot.