Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Always plenty to eat

Cliff and I were both poor, growing up.  We stayed pretty poor most of our married life, too, although I was always sure not to call us "poor", even in my thoughts; honestly, I didn't often even feel poor.  People who go around talking about being poor have a bad case of what I call "poor-mouth", a condition that creates a feeling of inferiority, as well as a feeling that the rest of the world owes you something.  Just my opinion.  If you talk poor, you're going to feel poor.

My mother often talked about how poor everybody was during the depression, but she never gave me any sense that our family was poor at any time after I was born.  In rural Iowa, although there were some pretty big-time farmers, the kids at Skinner School all dressed the same:  boys in overalls, girls in home-made dresses.  Nobody seemed more prosperous than the others.  We moved to Eagleville when I was in the third grade, and everybody seemed equal there, too.  

I've said before that when I was a child, I ate what I wanted, when I wanted.  Mother was a wonderful cook, but she only made big meals on Sunday, when we usually had company.  We didn't have meat often, except for the fried chicken on Sundays and once in a while, some hamburger.  Daddy never was crazy about meat anyhow.  In fact, he wasn't too worried about a big fancy meal.  We usually had Cheerios or Wheaties around for breakfast.  I guess Mother cooked dinner and supper, but I didn't always eat what she cooked.  One evening after supper she overheard me talking to neighbor kids about our evening meals.  They told me they had pork chops... that I remember... and named off whatever other two or three items they'd had.  I told them we had bread and gravy.  When I went inside, Mother took me aside and informed me we'd had about five different dishes on the table at supper, including mashed potatoes.  I had simply chosen to eat what I loved best:  bread and gravy.  She was embarrassed that the neighbors would think she only cooked gravy for supper.   

Like all kids sometimes do, I'd tell my mother there wasn't anything to eat, and she'd go into the same routine, every time:  "Lands sakes, there's milk in the refrigerator, and we have crackers and bread and graham crackers!  Eat some bread-and-milk or crackers-and-milk."

Back then, my choice of the things she always suggested was graham crackers and milk, followed by toast and milk with sugar sprinkled over it.  I still love graham crackers soaked in milk, and lately I've indulged several times.  Those graham crackers turn to mush in a bowl of milk, and taste better than any kind of pudding, in my book.  One day at dinner when the kid was here, I had some for dessert.  She's always been pretty choosy about eating unfamiliar things.  But for some reason, she wanted a bite of my soggy graham crackers.  The minute it hit her tongue, her eyes lit up, a smile broke over her face, and she gave me two-thumbs-up.  Since then, not one day at my house has gone by without her having graham crackers and milk.  She also loves fresh home-made bread, so I try to make bread on days she'll be here to have a slice or two.

I may have eaten some strange things throughout my life, but I was never forced to eat something I didn't like, and I've never been hungry.  

Cliff and I have always enjoyed good home-cooked food, and we've yo-yo dieted most of our lives:  Lose 20 pounds, gain back thirty.  We'll throw the small sizes away, just knowing we'll never have the fortitude to get thin enough for them again, and six months or a year later we're losing weight and wishing we'd kept them.  We both shed a lot of weight and kept it off after his heart bypass, but after two years we started slipping and before you know it, we'd gained all the weight back.

We're on a different track now.  Last summer I was having some stomach problems.  I'd been to our nurse-practitioner, but none of the anti-acid solutions helped me a bit.  On my birthday, July 7th, I was sitting on the back deck watching the world wake up and scolded myself for going to the doctor for a stomach problem that was most likely caused by what I was putting into my body.  I made some changes.  Within a week I was feeling better.  On my birthday I told Cliff I was cutting back on a lot of things and would try to cook appropriate meals.  I told him I was going to stop buying ice cream, but if he wanted some we could keep it out in the big freezer so it wouldn't tempt me.  "No," he replied, "I need to get rid of this gut."

He weighed 272, I weighed 167.  We had both been heavier than that at other times... I've gotten perilously close to 200 in the distant past... but my goal was to feel better, more than to lose weight.  We gradually shed pounds.  We weighed every weekday, leaving weekends for eating out, or having more calorie-laden meals.  The only exercise we can either one do is ride the stationary bike for short periods, but we did that sometimes.  

In October we were 252 and 153.  From there on, we... especially Cliff... would lose weight nicely all week, then we'd weigh on Monday and he might have gained anywhere from two to five pounds!  But overall, we were maintaining.

In mid-January I was 151; Cliff weighed 245.  All this time I had only been cooking one meal a day, two if we had a breakfast that needed to be cooked.  I was making the old-fashioned stuff we liked.  Not so healthy, perhaps, but we neither one felt cheated.  Cliff had been eating a salad most nights.  I didn't have any supper.  Oh, I was eating something:  Sometimes one piece of bread with peanut butter, sometimes a boiled egg and a string cheese, or a banana.  Usually nothing that added up to more than 300 calories.  Cliff was still regaining a bunch over the weekend, then spending the whole week taking it back off, eating his salad at night.  I was pretty much where I wanted to be, eating anything I wanted but watching portions.

I told Cliff, "You know, if it wouldn't bother you to do as I do in the evenings, I'll bet you'd lose more weight.  I'm not sure if you could do that, though.  You never liked to skip a meal."

"Well, I'll try it," he said.

I'm still at 151, sometimes ducking below 150 and back.  Cliff, this morning, was 238.  Maybe we've found something that works for us.  

And I've still had plenty to eat.  


P.S.  I came in here at 3:30 and started this entry.  With very few interruptions, it's taken me over two hours to get to this point.  Between changing words and phrases, re-arranging paragraphs, and thinking about what comes next, it takes a lot longer to create this drivel that it takes for you, my dear followers, to read it.  I think that's a lot of the reason I don't blog as much these days... each entry is such a commitment!   And I babysit most weekdays.


Monday, March 19, 2018

There's always something to blog about

It's true.  Even when it seems as though nothing is blog-worthy, motivation will find a way.  I've always smiled at those who comment about "what an interesting life" I lead.  I will tell you that some of the most interesting stories around here are inspired by the child we babysit, but I don't like to put her "out there" by way of this blog, since I have no idea who, or what sort of people, access it.  I talk about her a lot on Facebook, where I have some selection of who my audience is.  But I don't use her as blog fodder (there's a word only my country-raised readers will understand).  

I started this particular blog in 2006, but I blogged on AOL Journals for two years before that, until they shut that feature down.  I imported the contents of that journal to Blogger.  Most of the photos didn't make the trip, since they were hosted by AOL, but all the words are there.  If you're interested, you'll find that portion of my writings at My Country Life.  Near the beginning you can read about my visit to our nation's Capitol, thanks to my friend who lives in that area.

Someone commented on my last entry that I should perhaps base some of my blog entries on my opinions, but I don't do well with controversy.  If you want to know my political leanings, I tend toward Libertarian; the other two parties left me long ago... I didn't leave them, they left me.  

As for religious views, I wouldn't touch that subject with a ten-foot pole, except to tell you I believe in God and I love Jesus.  What I would like to say about my religious beliefs, or any other beliefs I have, is this:  I could be wrong.  I hesitate to put those words here, simply because some Christians take offense at it.  But I'm human, and willing to recognize the truth:  I could be wrong.  How else do you explain the hundreds of Christian denominations that exist?  And many of those groups believe they are the only ones who are right, and that they alone have the key to heaven.  Somebody, somewhere, is wrong.   

You see, I don't like controversy.  I'm not good at debate.  My brother and sister were grown and gone by the time I was two years old, so I didn't get the opportunity of learning to argue, having been raised mostly in a rural setting with few neighbors.  I developed a vivid imagination, and conjured up fascinating imaginary friends (mostly Indians) who never argued with me.  I wandered the woods at Grandma's house alone when I was there, loving every minute of it.  Wherever I was, if I got tired of pretending, I read books (more pretending, really).  I was spoiled:  I seldom had chores, and I could eat whatever I wanted, any time I felt like it.  I've conquered eating-all-the-time in my old age, but I still have a lazy streak a mile wide, and if need be, I can still use my imagination.

I grew up with no running water and an outside toilet; this didn't change until we moved to the city when I was twelve.  I'm amazed at the way the younger generation is so finicky about using outdoor facilities if they happen to come across them.  You want controversy?  This business of disposable diapers for women who don't work outside the home seems ridiculous to me.  I do remember the stench of a diaper pail, but it still makes sense to me to buy something you can reuse, rather than something to fill up landfills (please notice, women employed outside the home get a pass on my statement).  I had no problem rinsing a poopy diaper in the toilet when the kids were babies, something I've seen younger folks cringe at when I mention it.  When my kids were in diapers, I was using a wringer washer.  This meant I had to wring everything out that was in that stinky diaper pail before I put it in the machine.  Before my daughter was out of diapers, we bought (on credit) an automatic washer, and then I just poured the whole contents of the diaper pail in there and put it through a spin cycle before washing.  

But all those things pale in comparison to the way they did things when my parents were young.  None of my life seems like it was a hardship at all, when I remember my mom's stories.  

So, there you are with today's meanderings.  Looking back over the words, I think the most controversial topic in this entry is my opinion about disposable diapers.  Surely I can't get in too much trouble for that, right?  However, my training in Internet controversy came from an AOL Christian chat room, back in 1998; by the time I got through that, I swore off chat rooms AND Internet squabbles.