Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Flaxseed Wrap

Since reading Wheat Belly, by William Davis, MD, I've stopped eating wheat products and feel much better. Some folks have asked me what I eat for bread if I'm not eating wheat. The book contains a recipe for a flaxseed wrap that substitutes nicely for bread. It tastes good and is filling.  Here's what you need to make it:

3 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg

Mix together the ground flaxseeds, baking powder, onion powder, paprika and salt in a small bowl.

Stir in the 1 tablespoon coconut oil. The oil is solid at room temperature, so you might want to heat it slightly. The mixture will be a little thick.

Beat in the egg and 1 tablespoon water until blended. That thins the mixture.

Grease a microwave-safe plate with coconut oil. Pour in the batter and spread evenly over the bottom. I use a fork to sort of comb the mixture out from the center. 

Microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes until cooked. I microwave it for 2 minutes and 20 seconds, but your milage may vary. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Then you have this.

Slide a knife or spatula under it to loosen it from the plate and turn it over

The result works great as a wrap—I've used it to make a tuna salad wrap and a sliced chicken wrap—but it's good just as bread. I added some butter (I never use margarine or whatever a "spread" is) . . .

. . . and fold it over. The result is big enough for two servings if you slice it crosswise. And it's goooood! 

Here's the recipe that I found online, but it's also in the book:

This flaxseed wrap has about 6 grams of carbs, as near as I can figure. If you like, you can also make these wraps ahead and refrigerate them. Besides using a wrap for a hunk of bread or a sandwich wrap, you could probably put some pizza toppings on it.

I haven't tried it that way yet, but I'm thinking about it.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Diabetes Alert Day

Today, March 27, is the American Diabetes Association Alert Day. I have no faith in the American Diabetes Association because it promotes an unhealthy (high carb!) way of eating for diabetics. The "food pyramid" way of eating—low fat and high carb—is NOT good for diabetics. (I've blogged about that here and here and here.) The ADA should alert diabetics about the dangers of eating high carb. It doesn't.

Eating a high carb meal shoots up the blood sugar (blood glucose) level. I'm aware of what food affects my blood sugar levels because I sometimes check my blood sugar at least twice a day with my glucometer—and more often if I've eaten something that I don't usually eat. I also check after I've eaten something new. There are several different glucometer kits available, but my kit that looks like this:

The kit consists of a meter, a clicker-thingie that contains a disposable lancet, and some testing strips. Here's a close-up of a strip and its container:

You insert the strip into the meter. When it's ready, it displays a picture of a strip to tell you it's ready for you to add a drop of blood to the strip's end. 

You get the blood from your finger. The trick is to prick the side of your finger tip and not the pad. Pricking the pad, which has a lot more nerves, hurts. Using the side of the pad doesn't hurt.

You only need a small drop of blood. The clicker has an adjustable feature to let you dial it to a depth that works best for you. On this clicker, I'm a 2. Then you press the button (the blue thing on the side of my clicker) and it automatically pricks. Touch the strip to the drop of blood, and you get your reading in a few seconds.

This reading—118—is actually pretty good for me. It was taken about three hours since I had breakfast. (In early February, my readings were usually over 200.) Normal fasting blood sugar is from 70 to 100. I'm still working—by low carbing, taking prandin before meals, and avoiding any food that contains wheat—to get my blood sugar down. 

Also, thanks to low-carbing and wheat-avoidance, I've lost weight. Getting weight down by at least 10 pounds is supposed to improve blood sugar levels. I've lost over 10 pounds so far, but but I still have a way to go. I don't count calories (mainly a waste of time, according to Gary Taubes) or eat low fat (which, despite all the hype, doesn't help much with weight loss unless you starve yourself).

The neat thing about this meter is that it will average blood sugar in increments of 7, 14, and 30 days. In early February, my average was over 200. By February 9, I'd gotten the week's average down to 195. Today, my averages are 137 (7 days), 146 (14 days), and 153 (month).

I'm getting better, no thanks to the American Diabetes Association and their misinformation. 

Just wanted to alert you about the ADA.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Morning After

After the storm, that is. This morning was a bright day with much in bloom. The rains of Saturday and Sunday had washed everything clean and sparkling. Flowers bloom all over the place. Here's how my lawn looked this morning:

The oaks are leafing out as the redbud's blooms fade. Beside the gazebo, tulips bloom.

The forsythia beside the gazebo is losing its bloom and gaining green leaves.

Beside the patio, azaleas are blooming.

Butterflies dart from bloom to bloom. The one below samples a luminaria blossom.

Chloe the kitty waits for a butterfly to appear.

Dandelions, like golden coins flung by the hand of God, dot the lawn.

And not a cloud is in the sky.

This afternoon, we went down to Polecat Creek Farm to trim some trees and see how the fields fared after the heavy rains. Coming home, we encountered a narrow fellow in the road:

The snake wasn't moving. I got out of the truck to see if he was dead. He didn't look squashed. In fact, his lumpy look made me think he'd just had some little critters for lunch.

I checked him from the other direction. He didn't move. That tire track made me wonder if he'd been run over. I kicked his tail with my toe. He moved pretty quickly then.

In fact, he coiled into striking mode. And he noticed me.

I retreated back to the truck while he completed the coiling process.

He struck at the truck's  tire and dared us to come out. My husband leaned out the window and took the picture below.

I probably won't kick any more snakes. No sense taking a risk . . . . 


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Saturday Storm

Saturday was a rough day weatherwise. We had heavy rain and were under a tornado warning for several hours, but a few miles west folks had hail so heavy it looked like a snowstorm . Creeks flooded, and a few roads in the county were washed out. Saturday morning's heavy rain gave way to sunny skies and hot weather. But by afternoon, things took a turn for the worse. Dark clouds rolled across the northern sky.

For a while things looked pretty good toward the west . . . 

. . . but when the wind picked up, Melody headed toward her shed.

Before long, the western sky darkened. Tornado warnings were issued for the western part of the county. Folks started posting on Facebook about how bad the weather was.

Soon, Rocky Mount—fifteen miles west of me—was pelted with hard rain. I could see the lightning bolts from my pasture. Clouds swirled around.

Meanwhile, to the east, odd-looking clouds zeroed in on Smith Mountain.

Dark clouds rolled across the northern sky.

Despite the bad weather to the west and the tornado warnings, Melody came back out to graze.

Spotz the barn-cat came to take a look at where all that thunder was coming from.

She looked a little closer . . . 

. . . and then decided she'd seen enough. 

Meanwhile, the clouds got darker and rain started here. 

Before long, Clouds engulfed Smith Mountain.

That's when I stopped taking pictures. Hard rain fell here and even harder rain fell in Union Hall. Heck, hard rain fell all around.

While a tornado didn't touch down here, there was a report of a possible one a few miles north of me. Glade Hill and the Smith Mountain Lake area were hard-hit with hail and many homes and vehicles were damaged. We were lucky here.

If I had gone to Charlottesville as I'd intended, I'd have hit the heavy rain, hail, and strong winds on my way home. In bad weather, staying home beats being on the road.

On Sunday rain fell most of the day. Except for an occasional heavy shower, it was mostly misty. While Sunday was dreary, it was a great improvement over Saturday.

Here are some links to videos about the hail: This one is from the Weather Channel. In this one, our local meteorologist explains why the county got so much hail.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Change of Plans

I'd planned to go to Publishers Day at Virginia Festival of the Book today, but ended up changing my plans—mainly because the weather changed. Yesterday afternoon, clouds blew in . . .

. . . and turned darker. Before long the sky looked ominous and the air was heavy.

Given the hot weather (80s here) and the unsettled weather in the west that was moving our way, the forecast called for thunderstorms that could be severe at times. Nevertheless, last night I had my camera, bookbag, maps, and lunch-bag ready. Since it's hard to find restaurant food that's both low-carb and gluten-free, I made tuna salad for my lunch. 

My husband gassed up my car, checked out various things, and had it ready to go.

At 5 AM, I awoke to the sound of rain. I figured the rain might stop soon, but it got harder. I didn't want to drive in heavy rain in the dark, so a bit after 6 AM, I changed my plans. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to drive in the dark when there's a lot of traffic. On-coming headlights make seeing difficult. The rain would make visibility worse. Plus, I'm still in the process of getting my blood sugar under control. I figured I'd better not risk the drive. The older I get, the fewer risks I take.

At full daylight, when I went out to feed, rain was still falling steadily.

Puddles lined the sides of the rain-slick road.

The pasture was filled with mud and standing water. Melody's shed had a moat in front of it.

Her water-tubs had filled to overflowing.

Any critter that ventured out was soppy wet.

Beside the kennel, the cherry tree was losing its blooms to the downpour. A rush of muddy water poured through the kennel.

 On the front sidewalk, a bowl that was empty last night held at least two inches of water.

I couldn't see the Peaks of Otter . . . 

. . . or Smith Mountain.

Most of the house-cats usually plan to go out early, but this morning they stayed in the house. The few who ventured out stayed close. I'm staying close, too.

Bad weather is supposed to continue through the weekend, so I figure a lot of folks—and critters—will change their plans.