Okay, I admit it. It's been a tough month. I've been living with MS since I was 33. It came on like gang-busters (whatever those are) and gave me a hard time through the 80's and into the 90's. I've been on Avonex, Betaseron, multiple doses (and strengths) of steroids and sat for infusions of Cytoxan. I even tried Aminopyridine against my better judgement. I had a pretty bad time with about every symptom you can think of and I had them mainly in the first 15 years. I'm aware of cognitive changes that frustrate me and getting older isn't making that situation any better. Against my doctor's recommendation, I am not using injectable meds and haven't used them for a couple of years. There are mornings when I feel like I'm moving through air as thick as mud as I get my shower and dress. Other days, other than balance issues, I feel pretty good. So this week-end I'm trying to slide gracefully into 60. No go. Having completed a month of physical therapy to resolve a tendonitis issue in the bad leg, I'm ready to take a stress test and echo cardiogram I suddenly find myself in need of. But not with this godawful heavy summer cold I've contracted. Can I stay home and feel sorry for myself? No, of course not, because I have to surrender my perfectly good photo driver's license of myself from 6 years ago and have a new one taken TODAY before the old one expires. And, "No", I cannot continue to use the old photograph which is much more flattering than the one they charged me $66 for today. The photo of somebody's 60 year old grandmother with the swollen nose and runny eyes. She jumped in front of me when I was at Motor Vehicle having my license renewed. I could probably have taken her down if I felt better...
This is where Grandpa and I sit to watch the t.v.
Me: "We're still newlyweds, right? It's only 7 years."
I've always loved vegetables and probably eat more than the average person. Apparently, that's not enough any more. Every time I pick up the "Science" section of the NY Times or turn on the television, I'm bombarded with new information regarding the health benefits of - wait for it - KALE. Surprised? Not if you're even vaguely interested in the latest wellness information.
There are only a few veggies I won't eat. First on the list is Lima Beans. Second is Okra. I haven't tried Okra fried as it is frequently prepared in the southern states. I still don't think it would go down my throat without a fight.
Well, now, if you look around the internet, you'll find that KALE is the "it" green. It's got the most of everything that we humans need in one neat little package. Unfortunately, unless you blast it at 450 degrees in the oven for 20 minutes and sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese turning it into a chip, I've had no interest in it. I like spinach, broccoli, beet greens, just about anything leafy and green. But Kale has a distinct roughness to it's leaf, a squeak between your teeth when chewed. Sadly, until now, not for me. This is a miracle food that's loaded with nutrients that even help strengthen your teeth and bones.
Thanks to a blog called http://www.snack-girl.com/, I am able to get my daily recommended serving of Kale painlessly - even pleasantly. And here's what you do: Wash and removed the center rib from leaves of Kale and tear it into smallish pieces. Put it in your blender with a cup of water. Liquefy it in your blender as if you're making pesto (that means stop the blender and push it down with a rubber spatula). After it's liquefied, add about 1 cup of frozen mixed fruit and a dropper of stevia or an envelope of two of a natural sweetener (I like Truvia). Blend until you have a delicious frozen drink. After you master this recipe, you can add whatever your heart desires. I'm trying to keep carbs down so I haven't added a banana but I'm sure that would be excellent. You might be able to get away with adding flax seed meal when you liquefy the Kale but I haven't tried that yet. Try this for a refreshing summer drink and then tell me you hate Kale!
What can you say about Annabelle? She's perpetually popular. Very low maintenance. Gets better every year. She even ages well. Her gorgeous white blooms gradually age to lime green, then to a lovely mauve by autumn. If you're planning an event (she's perfect in July in Connecticut) she makes a lovely cut flower very popular with brides. Just give her a couple of years to mature to her full beauty if you're thinking ahead. As with many perennial shrubs they "sleep" the first year, "creep" the second, and "leap" the third. They should be cut back in late winter before they begin to show green. This variety of hydrangea can be cut to within a foot of the base but be sure to do it when it's still asleep. In the northeast she likes a moderately sunny location (mine gets afternoon sun so she needs a good drink on a hot day as she will faint!) She gets a good layer of composted manure in the spring, light fertilization while she's forming buds. One stem would look lovely in a silver julep cup or gravy boat. Check tag sales for low, wide inexpensive containers. Contrary to popular myth, woody stems should not be smashed to retain freshness of the bloom. Cut the stem on an angle with a clean, very sharp knife, early in the morning and keep the stems in cool, fresh water in a cool area. Don't forget to add flower food to the water. Plant Annabelle hydrangea and enjoy her every summer!
My mother used to tell me that the day I was born they fried eggs on the sidewalks in New York City. The hospital did not have air-conditioning (Northern Westchester Medical Center was just Mount Kisco hospital at that time). So they kept the lights off at night so the patients could walk around in their johnny coats and maintain their modesty.
As a kid, I loved the summer as much as any other kid that grew up in the country. Although we still didn't have air-conditioners (pretty much only movie theaters were that technologically advanced and we didn't have a movie theater in our town). We had a big old box fan that drew the cool, night air through the house if placed strategically in the correct window. It's not like we were too poor to each have our own fan (there were only 2 of us kids). I think it was my dad trying to engineer his own natural cooling system. It worked pretty well on most nights - but there were some that were pretty brutal, uncomfortable temperatures and humidity lingering after "egg-frying" days. The wicked sunburns we developed after a day at the lake didn't help any.
Now I'm very fortunate to have central air on days like these. Unlike most of my fellow MS'rs, I've never noticed my symptoms worsening in the heat. Allergies, fumes from cigarette smoke or cleaning products will set me off. Seasonal changes seem to get me going. Of course, I haven't really tested the phenomena and deliberately spent a day in extreme heat. I pretty much run from the A/C in the car to the store and back. It's my garden that suffers terribly because I don't subject myself to hours of weeding in the heat. Everybody's going to have to be content with a drink and a wave from me until it cools down a bit. I did get some pictures while I was outside after dinner.
I grew the orange "Butterfly Weed" from seed a few years ago and it's taken that long to bloom. It grew wild in the woods when I was a kid and my mother transplanted some into her vegetable garden so that's where mine grows. Back then I didn't know why she'd ever transplant a weed but now I get it. Of course, it's in the milkweed family and food for Monarch butterflies.
And this lacy pretty is a form of "Queen Anne's Lace" that grew wild by the side of the road when I was growing up. This is a more domesticated variety called Ammi Majus, a distant relative of the common wildflower that I grew from seed. I hope it's self-sewing since it's an annual. Temperatures are supposed to break in a couple of days and then I'll see what else is going on out there (and what the Japanese beetles haven't consumed!)