I Paid Dearly

Huckleberries are a seasonal favorite here.  I love a piece of pie once a year about this time.   I think the reason I enjoy them so is they have this intense flavor, that so many fruits don’t.  Some liken them to the flavor of blueberries, but I think that is only true if you pick the wild ones. Something is lost in domestication.

I think about going out every year and picking enough for a pie, and then the bear attack stories start on the news and it never happens.   This year is no exception.   Bears are out in droves stocking up fat supplies for the winter.   We are hearing almost daily on television news about bear/human interfaces.  I know I would be too intent picking berries to remember to keep a proper eye out for a bear.   The only way I think I could actually pick huckleberries is if my husband stood guard wearing a double pack of bear spray.  One for the left hand and one for the right.

This year I had to make a trip up north, where the huckleberries are plentiful.  I succumbed and paid an outrageous sum of money for some that were already picked.   It wasn’t enough to make pie, but I did find a recipe for Huckleberry Buckle that I could make with 2 1/2 cups.  It is now baking in the oven, and the anticipation is high.  Fresh hot huckleberry buckle. Yummmmm!

Exercise for my Heart

I have struggled with my weight almost my entire life.  I have lost and gained weight over and over.   I haven’t lost  just a few pounds but 50, 60, even 75 pounds on every diet and program possible.  I feel I am a master looser, but I can not figure out how to keep weight off.   I know the key is exercise  I just haven’t figured out what kind or how much.

I must admit I have hated exercise all my life.  No matter my size,  exercise sucked.  Exercise is like torture to  me.  I have tried it all from a to z: aerobics, ballet, running, weight training, yoga, walking, Pilates, and step training.   I have joined clubs, take classes, done videos at home, had personal trainers, worked with nutritionists and made commitments with friends.  Yet I am still here blogging about my struggle.   I have never made that lifetime connection with exercise.      I do it because it is good for me, not because I like it.  I have yet to experience that exercise high the people talk about.   No, I don’t feel better for having exercised.  Maybe if I wasn’t so large, I would experience all those things with exercise, but in the present I don’t period.

I have to believe what I am doing is making a difference, my blood pressure is low, my glucose is great, my bad blood lipids are normal, and my good cholesterol is very good.  In spite of this all keep thinking about how hard my heart is working.  All the extra pumping that it has to do to move blood around my body can’t be good for that heart of mine.  I need to keep exercising and searching for that combination that will work for me, physically and psychologically, because my heart deserves more.

My treadmill died after nearly 15 years, and I got a new one on Craig’s list.   I was at the thrift store and got a Nordic Track Skier for less than $20.  I pick big harry goals to keep me on the exercise routine.   I want a new better personal best.  I want to say I did 10,000 steps for so many days in a row.   I am always on the look out for a better combination and balance of exercises and routines. So in spite of hating exercise I keep getting back on that bucking horse.  I know some day I will find one that loves me and I love.

Moulting Chickens

I am not sure why chickens wait until fall and winter to moult here, but it seems always to be the way it goes at my place .   Right now I have two birds moulting.  They look like they have been in a “cat fight.”  They are also hesitant to come outside the coop.   It is like they are embarrassed to show the world how they look.

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For those of you unfamiliar with chickens, it is when they lose all their feathers and get new ones.  It happens about once a year. During that time they will put their full energy into getting new feathers and their egg laying will slow down or cease altogether.  Some birds moult slowly and it takes 2-3 months.  Fortunately mine seem to go through the moult cycle fast and furious.   One day I open the coop and it appears that a pillow fight ensued overnight, and  a bird looks like they were in a fight and got the short end of  the stick.

Dr. Oz Misses Point on Apple Juice

Recently TV celebrity physician, Dr. Oz, made a splash with a statement about apple juice and arsenic.  He has taken some heat for his position.   I have gone back and watched his show and several interviews.   He may be right, but I think he  is missing the real point.  Arsenic may be important, but the real issue is where is your produce grown.

It estimated that 70% of apple juice today comes from China.  China is the same country that put melamine in our pet foods.   China did not have proper measures in place to prevent this, or maybe it was done on purpose to boost protein content, we will never know.   All I know is that pet food not made in the USA no longer comes in my house.   If I don’t trust China for pet food, I personally surely don’t want to eat things processed there.

I used to work for the largest food wholesaler and had occasion to travel with an international produce buyer.  One night on the road we  got to talking about where he had been.  He had traveled all over South America and many Pacific rim countries securing what I knew to be some of the best produce in the world.  I shopped stores supplied by our company and knew personally the quality and variety we stood for.  What I learned that night changed my personal buying habits forever.   It made me acutely aware of what it takes to put fresh produce that we demand year round in our stores.

Here are some thoughts on produce:

  • There are many chemicals(herbicides & insecticides) that are illegal to sell in the US that are still available worldwide.   If you can’t buy it it can never end up on your food.  If you can purchase it, and it will increased your bottom line, do you suppose some farmers in other countries might do so?
  • The US continues to cut big government.  Most of the big shots in agencies still have their jobs,but many of the on-the-ground jobs are being lost.  This means we have fewer food inspectors, this sucks, there is no other word for it.   Do other countries have anything that even closely resembles our crippled, gutted USDA inspection system?  If not, what do you imagine goes on?
  • When produce is shipped across the ocean in those huge containers, the US needs to be protected from invasive species that if imported could damage the domestic produce industry.    These containers of produce are somehow fumigated to kill any bugs.   Think about how that must happen.
  • I am not sure what they do to produce, but it seems awfully slow to spoil, mold or rot.  When I was a kid it seemed that produce rotted almost overnight.  Think about the time line from the time it is picked until it ends up in your home.  Produce from Chile spends 10 days on the water or more on the average; what is it for other countries?  Now add the time from the picking of the produce to get to the ship.   Now add the domestic  handling time; from the ship to the warehouse, the warehouse to the store; the store to your house.  How long does it sit in your refrigerator?  No mold yet.  I am not sure what this means, but I am guess that once again it has somehow been treated with some anti-fungal agent.
This whole hub-bub with Dr. Oz isn’t really about arsenic in my apple juice.   It is about how has your produced been grown and handled.  Is it necessary to each peaches in January  or is it just a treat when Colorado and Michigan peaches are in season?  Do I care if my grapes are grown in Chili or the USA?    This same thing also applies to canned produce as well, some days the debate is a little dicey which is likely safer canned pineapple from the Philippines or Thailand.  Some folks don’t care, or it isn’t a battle they care to fight.   If you can eat local it is great, but where I live in Montana not much is local.   But like me if you do care read the labels on packaging  and produce racks.  Be informed and increase your odds that your food has been handled in a way accepted to you and the risks you are willing to take.

Simplify

Many times  we talk about simplifying our lives.   It is easily said, but simplify doesn’t have a clear meaning.  Often times folks mean spending less when they say they are going to simplify.   Others purge clutter from their lives in an attempt to simplify.   I think that spending less and getting rid of clutter can be  elements of simplifying our lives, but simplify is much more complex than that.  It is unique for each of us, and the place we are in our life.

To simplify is to understanding what is important.  Once you understand what is important, your life will be simpler if you keep your eye on those important things.   For me my family, my life-time friends, shelter, food, good books, some music, a little personal creativity and open space are important.  Sometimes I lose focus of what is important, but when I remember what counts at the end of the day it all becomes simpler, less stressful.

It is important to simplify.   If you know what is important it is simple.

Shortening Days

It is amazing to me how quickly the days get shorter once the first day of summer happens.  The sun is setting earlier and it is dark by 8 in the evening and still dark at 6 in the morning.  It makes me blue to think that I have to endure another three months of the days getting shorter.

Wrong Side of the Tracks

When I was growing up there was a place called  “the wrong side of the tracks”.  It was a dicey neighbor even then you didn’t go into it if you didn’t have business.   If you had business there you got in and out before the sun went down.   I don’t think any place was as bad as it sounded but it was always there.  It was unknown, scary and bad things could happen to you there.

Wildlife so often gets on the wrong side of the tracks, well in many cases it is the wrong side of the road for them.    Lately we have been experiencing that with the coyotes.

We live in on a dead-end road that backs up to  ranch land.  The wolves  behind us on the ranches and public lands have been breeding like the canine they are.   (Think about how many dogs end up in shelters each year and you get the picture, of what is going on in the wild.)  We have been having packs split up and moving into to more and more area.  Small game reserves changed and in some cases been depleted.  All of this drives coyotes around as well.   

In the last couple of days we have had coyotes cross our little dirt road settle down in the creek bed on the far side of our property.   They have been partying hearty and singing  for hours nightly.    Our little dog has decided even on a leash with us right there, he can hold it from the time the sun goes down until it comes up again.

This now move puts the coyotes only one parcel of land between them and the interstate.  It also puts them in an urban interface.   Though we live in the country and we all have some land, folks still have critters…dogs, cats, chickens,ducks, horses and cattle.    No one likes to lose an animal.  It is not good. Some of what we have is easy prey, other of it isn’t prey, but a canine pack large enough can get a little bold.   It is likely that some of these coyotes will meet an unfortunate demise, this last move has put them on the wrong side of the tracks.