The Fiber Cult

15 Nov

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Question: How do you know when you’re old?

Answer: When you have a fiber drink twice a day.

That’s right, at nearly 53 I’m officially old. I’m still young at heart, I like to think I’m one of those dashing guys in a fiber commercial with salt and pepper hair, biking and hiking. But I’ve crossed the fiber line and, well, that’s that.

In the real world, I work for a large hospital system that is very, very health conscious when it comes to its employees. It offers financial incentives to lose weight and stay healthy. I decided to join the program this year and see what I could do. Fortunately, I was blessed by having been born tall and skinny. During my teen years I was often chided for being too skinny. Needless to say, no one chides me for being too skinny anymore.

Over a 6 month period, I cut way down on some of my favorite things (beer, pasta, bread) and  sprinkled in liberal doses of exercises. On the day of the official weigh-in I felt strong, confident. Dressed in a light t-shirt and running shorts, I jumped to attention when the nurse called me in from the waiting room.

I was ready to answer the bell as I strode toward the digital scale. Off came the running shoes, my phone and car keys followed. Like a boxer at weigh-in I was bold, cocky. As a renowned cheapskate I was willing to do whatever it took to make the weight, even if it meant, dare I say, putting on my birthday suit.

Exhale, light as a feather, I thought as I stepped on the scale. The numbers blinked, it was like I put my last quarter in a slot machine, hoping for a winner. The numbers blinked one last time and Winner! I made my weight, much to the relief of the nurse who did not want to see some shameless middle age guy sans shirts and shorts.

With the weight battle won it was on to the next health challenge. For years I’ve struggled with high cholesterol and to qualify for more incentives that number would have to drop. Now that I was down 20 lbs I could visualize the number falling right off the charts. Like a brave gladiator I didn’t even flinch when the nurse jabbed me with the needle. From my viewpoint the blood looked a healthy, cholesterol free red. The blood of a healthy man who couldn’t wait to get the test results.

I got an F on the test.

My cholesterol was higher than it had ever been. In the past I had tried to take cholesterol lowering medicine but it made me feel terrible. Now, I had to do something. Enter my loving wife. For some reason she wants me to be healthy and outlive my 401k savings. What more could I give up?

Over the years I have quit smoking (20+ years), stopped drinking pop and cut out fast food. Apparently that wasn’t enough, I need fiber and not just a little fiber — two glasses of it everyday. My loving wife returned from the store with a big container of powered fiber drink, Orange flavored, mmmmm! You know what, it wasn’t so bad. For anyone my age it’s a lot like Tang, the orange drink the Astronauts drank. Whenever I slurp it down I pretend it’s early morning on one of the Mercury flights and we’re getting ready to take on another day in space.

My loving wife also found a new diet for me – diet in the sense of new eating habits. Oatmeal! Whole Grains! Black Beans! No Red Meat! Brown Rice! Fortunately I like to eat just about anything so most of this isn’t a problem. White rice is a lot better than Brown rice but add some Frank’s Red Hot and voila’, it ain’t so bad.

I go back in 3 months and we’ll see how this all works out. Being older has it’s advantages; more free time, I’m wiser and nobody cares how long I wear my hair. But I could go for more ice cream and less fiber!

 

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Sunday is No Fun-Day

10 Sep

Sunday is a key component of the weekend. It is actually the second day of the weekend following Saturday. But, for me Sunday has always been a day I didn’t like. Am I just being neurotic or is my dislike valid? Let’s discuss.

As a kid, Sunday meant church. To some, this was a day to rejoice and reflect in a house of worship. For me, the Sunday Catholic church service was torture. During this hour or so I was required to sit still and shut up – both of which go against every fiber of my being. Eventually, the church I attended added a Saturday mass which took a little of the edge of the whole thing, because, at least Saturday is the greatest day of the week.

While I enjoy things like learning and reading I HATED school. For me it was yet another institute which demanded me to sit still and shut up. During the school year Sundays represented back to school with me. In my little world “back to school” are the three scariest words. To this day I see commercials for back to school sales or children in my neighborhood trudging off to the first day of school and I get the shivers. No doctor has diagnosed me but I do have PTSD – Post Traumatic SCHOOL Disorder.

Monday is the first day of the work week. My career hasn’t been something I dreamed of but I’ve made the most of it and am proud of the work I’ve done. All that aside, I still don’t like going to work. This means Sunday is one day closer to Monday, back to work, the second scariest words in my little world.

I envy people who make the most of their Sunday. They enjoy the time relaxing with friends or even call it Sunday Funday! Oh my, if only I was able to change that S to an F and learn to love it as much as I love Saturday.

In all honesty, summer Sundays are easier to enjoy. The sun is usually shining, I can spend the day outside and it doesn’t get dark till much later.  Maybe there’s a little glimmer, a piece of me that will accept Sunday for what it is. Life is too short to look ahead. I’m fortunate I don’t have to work on Sundays so here’s hoping with the proper amount of practice I can learn to love Sunday.

 

The Creative Urge

15 Aug

Ever since cave men drew pictures on the their cave walls people have felt the urge to create.

Ever since the Third Grade I have felt the urge to create.

The first story I wrote was an assignment our teacher gave us.  We each drew a slip of paper with a name of something grown in a garden. I got Garlic. I don’t recall the story, but I do recall it was funny. People liked it and the teacher thought it was good. For better or for worse I’ve been trying to write stories and be funny ever since.

For a few years of my life I was fortunate enough to make a living writing. Since then I have done some writing to entertain myself. Once the internet came around I was able to self publish a novel on Amazon (after getting turned down by countless literary agents) John Canale’s Novel and start a blog.

But I fell into what I refer to as the attention trap. When I wrote a blog post I was more concerned with how many people were reading my stuff than with what I was writing. Because of that I tripped over myself to write what I thought people would like instead of writing what I wanted.

So, I decided to take a break

Since my last blog post in September I have stepped away from writing and tried to scratch my creative itch in the other ways. Even though I can’t draw to save my life I decided to do some painting. A few turned out OK but I enjoyed doing them for the pure joy of doing them. I also did some photography which I really enjoyed – and, I even got a picture accepted into the Annual Employee Art show.

But, writing is always my first love.

There is a friend of mine who has a big garden, loves to cook and make his own wine. Without being aware of it he’s being very creative. It isn’t for the attention or the comments or the compliments but because he just loves to do it. Hopefully, with writing, I can get back to doing what I love to do for the love of it.

Writing for me at this point should be just a recreational hobby. People play golf or softball because they like too,  not because they are going turn professional. People go to the gym (me, occasionally) to keep their body fit and healthy. Anyone with a creative urge will tell you the same thing. You need to create to keep your body AND mind fit and healthy.

Speaking of creativity, one of my other passions is Modern Art. I’m going to combine writing with Modern Art in a separate blog – “My View of Art” (https://artwithjc.wordpress.com). I’m trying to figure out what Modern Art is all about and hopefully turn on some people to Modern Art.

Now that I have had time away from my blog, it’s time to get back to my roots. There will still be plenty of self deprecating pieces, some boring pieces and a few what-is-he-talking-about blogs. But, now, the posts will be written to make me happy and not aimed to make everyone who reads them happy.

But — feel free to tell your friends and family about my blog – cause I’ll always want some attention!

 

 

 

These are a Few of My Favorite Words

18 Sep

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You don’t have to write to have favorite words. Words are like ice cream that way, everybody likes ice cream. But, come to think of it, words are nothing like ice cream – nothing is actually better than ice cream.

Words can appeal based on their sound, their definition or on a sentimental level. Sometimes it’s just because they look good on a page. Here then, are a few of my favorite words:

Quandary

A state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation.”

I love the sound, love the look and have found myself in this state plenty of times.
Rambunctious

Uncontrollably exuberant; boisterous”

A lot of great words end in “-tious” but this is my favorite of those. Why? The word itself makes no sense (ram and bunc? What’s that about?), the meaning of the word is great.

Fart

‘”verb: to emit gas from the anus”

“noun: an emission of gas from the anus”

It was a great word in 5th grade, it’s a great word in my fifties – and that makes it a classic.  Two serious words, Art and Smart, are nearly the same.

Existential

Concerned with existence, especially human existence as viewed in the theories of existentialism

Love the sound and feel of the word. I can honestly say I’ve never used this word in a conversation. If you do hear it in a conversation I am willing to bet it comes out of the mouth of a pretentious person.

Silly

“Having or showing a lack of common sense or judgment; absurd and foolish.”

I’ve always thought of this as a positive word. A long, healthy life should include lots of silly.

Soporific

Tending to induce drowsiness or sleep.

I have never heard anyone actually say this word. But it should be used to describe how good something is at “sopping” as in, “Boy this bread is really good at sopping up this gravy. It’s soporific!

Doodlebug

1.the larva of an ant lion. 2.an unscientific device for locating oil or minerals; a divining rod.”

The word looks boring but it’s so much fun to say. It rolls off the tongue and has an old-timey quality to it.

Onomatopoeia

Using words that imitate the sound they denote

At first glance you would think this is some king of exotic disease. Then BLAM! it hits you with a BANG! and you realize it sounds good, looks good, and is a fun word.

Serendipity

“The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.”

My favorite word. It has a musical quality about it and can never have a negative connotation. Be a great kid’s name, don’t you think? If I ever own a doughnut shop, this is what I’d all it.

As I said, these are some of my favorite words, no need to bore you with all of them. And, no need to add the swear words I enjoy tossing around. You may agree with me on these but let me know if you have some of your own. Cause just like ice cream, we all love words.

 

 

That Old Bad Habit

14 Mar

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I’m waging a battle a lot of people out there fight.

There are no telethons, no marathons, no ribbons or bracelets. We who have this affliction deal with it ourselves, on our own, alone. Sometimes others help us but it’s up to each and every one one of us to battle on.

I’m talking about finger nail biting.

It’s a habit I picked up some years ago, so long ago I don’t recall a time when I didn’t bite my nails. And now I’m making a concerted effort to stop this habit.

Why now, after all these years?

After a recent nail biting bender my thumb nail, or what was left of it, hurt more than usual… and, honestly, I have a lot of free time and figured, what the Hell, let’s see if I can do it.

First thing I did was some internet research on finger nail biting. I found out it can be a result of Obsessive Compulsion behavior – which is interesting since the only things I can think of being obsessed with are Saturday naps and doughnuts (see two previous blog posts regarding these topics). It was also referred to as Pathological Grooming. Again, not something I’d associate with myself. I mean I groom, don’t get me wrong, but pathologically? Ugh.

So I quit reading about the diagnosis (as if I need to read about all my foibles!) and looked for a way to stop.

There were plenty of tips about taking care of your nails, manicures, polish, etc. Needless to say my manliness prevents me from any of these. What’s a poor boy to do? Then I found an article on mindfulness and nail biting. It encouraged you think or realize every time you wanted to bite your nails. This was the answer for me.

My late mother tried to get me stop when I was young. She tried to convince me it was bad for my health, there were germs I would get from this bad habit. I was a child of the 70’s and didn’t take to authority well. If I went back in time I’d be able to say, “But mom, I’m a pathological groomer. That’s gotta be good for something?!”

When I quit smoking 20 years ago the first few weeks were the hardest part. So, it didn’t surprise me when after the first week of consciously not biting my nails I thought my head was gonna explode. Needless to say, I survived and now I’m about three weeks nail-bite free.

Who knows if I’ll be able to stay a non-nail biter for the rest of my life. But if I am to remain in this club I better learn how to use a nail clipper. Also, I have to be extra careful when I rub my eyes! Much to my lovely wife’s dismay I like to drum any and every surface with my new found nails.

And, you never know, maybe I’ll give in and get a manicure – you can have manicure without man!

 

 

Ch-Ch Change

17 Nov

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“Hey Dad,” my sweet 20-year-old daughter said in a tone which I knew led to money. “Do you have any quarters for the washer and dryer at my apartment?”

Quarters? I had to think for a second, Oh yeah, coins! I remember those things. We used to put them in vending machines to buy things like pop. Or, we put them in parking meters or gumball machines. But did I have any? No, I just use my trusty debit card to pay for everything and…wait, just a minute, “You know, we may have some in that big cup from Cedar Point.”

Lo and behold, there in a kitchen cabinet was the HUGE soda cup we had gotten at Cedar Point many years ago, before I knew pop and amusement park rides didn’t agree with me. The immense 64 oz soda cup was chuck full of change; pennies, nickles, dimes, quarters nearly spilling over the top.

One day you’re taking your sweet daughter to a kiddie ride at Cedar Point, next you’re fishing for change for the washer and dryer in her own apartment. With a sigh, I sifted through the change and found about $11 worth of quarters. Now my daughter could have clean, fresh smelling clothes for another few months.

The cup had been filled over the years by my lovely wife and I almost by accident. Nearly every household has a change holder of some kind and this one had been forgotten. Part of the reason we had forgotten about it was because, by good fortune, we haven’t needed to cash it in. The other reason is simple, I mean, it’s change – do we even use coins anymore? It’s been awhile since I really looked at coins, the nickels were different, they had buffaloes and new pictures on them. Who knew?

Gone are the days of piggy banks. Gone are the days of coming home from work and emptying my pockets of the spare change from lunch or an afternoon coffee. It’s all debit cards, credit cards, or using your phone to pay for things.

So I made the decision to count the change. I started to pull the dimes out and stack them in piles of ten…wait a minute,  why would I count this many coins? Sure, as an empty nester I have plenty of free time on my hands but- please! No need try and roll these coins in those old paper rollers and take them to the bank. I could just take the whole cup to one of those coin counting places at the grocery store.

I marched into the store lugging my now 12 lb soda cup of change with me. I read the directions on the machine which told me it would cost me 10% of my coin treasure to complete the transaction. Damn, 10%! I considered leaving then I considered my options…I stayed.

Oh the noise as I started to clang my change into the machine. Needless to say I became self conscious. CLANG! CLING! BANG! People were looking at me like, “Poor guy, has to cash in his coins.” It was as if they were judging me, like I was one of those people who ride the scooter at the grocery store, and you’re like what’s wrong with them, they don’t need to be on that scooter.

The numbers were ticking faster, $5, $10, $15! In a return area on the machine it spit out coins that didn’t register. Some of them were dimes with “stuff” on them. Others were foreign coins, a couple of Canadian Loonies…and one small rock.

Once all the coins had been processed the total was $64.78! The machine printed out a receipt and instructed me to cash it in at customer service. Not too often you can take a piece of paper up to someone and get CASH MONEY back. It was like I had a winning lottery ticket. Gee, what was I gonna buy…oh yeah, it was only half mine, the other half belonged to my better half.

I took my $32 an tucked it away in a drawer as part of what’s known as my kayak fund – yeah, a kayak – I’m sure you’ll read about it in a future blog. In the meantime, maybe it’s time to let go of that change, even if it is to keep your kid in clean clothes.

 

Me and PB&J

27 Sep

A little experiment here. Less words and more pictures.

I love corned beef, I love a cheese steak, I love ham. But above all, the sandwich I love most is Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Gone is the Wonder Bread of my youth, replaced by a healthier choice, whole wheat. Apply the Peanut Butter. Of course, natural peanut butter (again health concerns).

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This could be the controversial part of my blog, I insist the jelly is on the same side as the peanut butter. Why? Who knows but that’s how it is.  Also note the jelly is strawberry. No need to quibble over Jam or preserve – the key is strawberry.IMG_20150910_111046695

 

Two ways and only two ways of cutting a PB&J.

  1. Suitcases. A technique my late mother (who made the best PB&Js for her boy) invented to keep it interesting. I like to use the suitcase technique now and then to liven things up – as if I’m having a PB&J  Hors  d’oeuvre. Feel free to try it at your next party.

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     2. In Half. Right down the middle. No angle. A diagonal cut is reserved for the three salad type sandwiches, Egg, Chicken and Tuna Fish – but never a PB&J. Why? I leave that up to you to interpret.

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Usually, I don’t waste time with cuts – I go full PB&J.

There was another technique my mother used when packing my lunch as I headed off to Hempfield Elementary. I was particular about crust. Not all crust mind you, just the crust at the top of the bread. In the years since I’ve gotten past my dislike of the top crust, an obvious sign of my maturity – just as much a sign of my maturity as blog post about Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches.