Southern Ladies At A Church Social

Guest speaker and visual artist Candy Cain created an inspired silk batik painting, a floral arrangement-in-holy setting within a short hour — surrounded by admiring Southern ladies wearing distinctive hats of every dimension. As they had arrived at Oak Ridge House, almost everyone audibly gasped, “Is this all for us?!”

The Pre-Derby Day Southern Soiree: A Run for the Roses spring event for Episcopal Church Women of St. James’ happened last evening. Lovely, near-perfect event. Not nearly enough friends participated, but the ladies who did attend beautifully presented themselves and their faithfulness.

All arrived to a Hall of clothed-to-the-floor white tables for eight, each featuring silver chargers and cutlery centered with vases of red roses. Nobody could miss the tall Granny Smith apples-based bouquet of dozens of deep red rosebuds. That stunning arrangement presided over a trio of buffet tables offering appetizers — cheese with crackers and Benedictine Spread — and the main course: Steamed Asparagus, Tomato Aspic, Corn Pudding, Baked Ham with Biscuits, and Kentucky Hot Browns; on the dessert table were Kentucky Derby Pies and Bourbon Balls. Yum.

ECW President Tippy Garner greeted and directed all to the beverage station, where Past-President Coleen O’Brien personally prepared and poured Mint Juleps or white or red wine. Event Chair Joanna Hunt and ECW Treasurer Alice Douglas received  well-deserved accolades for the decor as well as for overall design and execution of the event. ECW members prepared the food, and all donations benefitted the Episcopal Relief and Development supporting Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican Communion in Japan, in its efforts for the earthquake and tsunami.

Guess whose 12-Week Program walked right out the French doors onto the lawn — where additional deep red and white-clothed tables with chairs offered more roses and Cheese Straws?! Oh, yes: Mint Juleps and wine trumped the diet!

The night was magical — even the vacationing rector, the Rev. Christopher Powell, stopped in to visit and admire — and certainly worthy of my slight departure from The Program. No regret, and today’s another in my quest to become visibly different.

But more about that next week. Today I’m happy to share requested recipes — enjoy, and let me know you do! Have a happy and blessed weekend.

Mother Wessman’s Tomato Aspic

Heat 2 cups tomato or V8 juice plus 1 cup water to boiling. Use some of the hot liquid in a separate cup to dissolve 2 beef bouillon cubes. In another measuring cup, dissolve 6 envelopes Knox gelatin; add 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Add totally dissolved gelatin and bouillon to tomato or V8 juice; stir well. Pour the mixture into a two-quart mold and finish filling with additional tomato or V8 juice. Refrigerate to congeal; this can require 4 to 5 hours, but time can be less if mixture is refrigerated in individual molds — I use muffin pans. Unmold and serve the aspic on a bed of lettuce with a dollop of Hellman’s or Duke’s mayonnaise on each serving.

Old Southern “Cawn Puddin” from Old Southern Tea Room, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Combine 1 number 2 can cream-style corn, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons melted butter, 5 well-beaten eggs, and 3 cups milk (I used non-fat half-and-half.) Dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a tablespoon of water and add to mixture. Pour into a greased, ,shallow 4-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until custard is firm. Yield: 6 to 8 portions.



Two phones ringing at the same time — and somebody else trying to beep in on the land line while I’m talking. Somebody’s knocking on the door, the pot on the stove’s near boiling-over, I’ve got sebenty-lebben things to do swirling in my mind. . . Argh.

Breathe, Mizrizbaboo; breathe.

Some days seem more hurry-up than I like. Juggling a long to-do list and making miracles for myself and several other people still gets me pumped. That’s what I did for a mighty long time to build a career and earn a living — but that was Yesterday, and I want Yesterday to be gone, at least that aspect of . . .

Today, for example. Everything started before I was ready and Everything did so in a bit of a fit. The night seemed lighter, brighter than normal; then the lightning flashes commenced in such an obvious way. Suddenly, the wind kicked up and rain poured and pounded. That’s good — the fertilize and bone meal and cottonseed meal are spread all around outdoor plants. Good timing, Lord; so please take care of everything. Nothing I can do about any of that disturbance — I’m back to bed.

Sunshine tried to peek through later as I retrieved the newspaper. Relentless winds, though, pushed the clouds back over the neighborhood. The weather guys and girls say clouds will win. Possible tornadoes, potential flooding, unsettled and maybe dangerous conditions. Not a good day for out-and-about activities.

But my Enhanced Wellness appointment’s at 10:15. Sigh.

. . . Check that off — time to celebrate! My numbers are better! The numbers that are supposed to go down did, and the one that should increase did. Hooray! I’m better!

Yes, and I believe. I believe I can; I know I can. Late bloomer that I am (and that’s an idea for another post), I know that when I set my mind and my heart. . . place your bets on me because I’m going to achieve the objective!

Although I usually avoid expressions in the negative, I must say that this 12-week therapeutic regime is not inexpensive. I could say the program costs a lot of money, but that’s not the best description of my assigning money to the effort. Perhaps the best distinction is that the expenditure is a sizable investment, especially given my budget. This is, first and foremost, “get fixed” money. For the long haul, it’s all about prevention.

Prevention of disease, disability, disgruntlement, dismay, too early death. There, I’ve created and typed my new mantra; now I re-commit to living the motto. And, as for all Life’s path, I recognize that achievement is not a destination but a journey, a path, a process.

Voila! About “process,” WordWeb declares, it’s “the performance of some composite cognitive activity; an operation that affects mental contents.” Reflecting on Yesterday. . . yes, this requires thoughtful deliberation. As my good friend Lynn said about marriage, “Every day is a new negotiation.” So in my personal process toward achieving prevention, each day I shall think. . . and give thanks.

Thanks to you for reading!

Cognitive Therapy

Experts in geriatric medicine and how-to-age-with-most-of-your-mind-intact promote brain activity to keep the mind sharp: use it or lose it.

OK — please forgive if this pronouncement covers more than the literal. Editorial license! But prevention proponents do suggest that people who want to live with healthy thinking and communicating capacity should routinely engage in activities that use the brain. Some suggest reading, if only the newspaper — and who can go a morning without news, editorials, comics?! — watching television, and talking on the telephone. Human contact’s especially important, especially for folks who live alone.

Mizrizbaboo has added more exercise for the brain in this current quest for improved body, mind, and spirit. The journey to better health includes pills and supplements, and they seem to come at me from dawn to dusk. Well, actually, beyond!

One pill and a glass of water await my awakening; then I must wait at least 20 minutes. Then it’s time for Allegra and Aleve and more water. After coffee and breakfast, one pill, two chewables, and Vitamin-D3 drops. Ester-C, fish oil, One-A-Day, B-12, Prozac, and more water. Oh, and a new one: a big red capsule that’s on a three-a-day schedule. Ahhhh.

That takes me to snack time. Forty-eight ounces of water, then dairy and fruit. Hmmm, maybe almond milk and cantaloupe today. Yes.

With the mid-day meal and more water (at least 150 ounces/day!), another couple chewables and the addition of a fish oil pill. And on I go. Until evening, when before bedtime I must remember the big red capsule, one tablet I keep in the kitchen, and two prescriptions in the bathroom. If only for prevention, think I’ll have some more Aleve or ibuprofen or aspirin. And then to bed, perchance to sleep.

Oh, yes. This regimen has certainly improved sleep time. Most nights I’m not clenching or grinding teeth quite as harshly — oh, yes: I clench and grind. I’m on my third dentist-engineered night-guard, industrial strength. And some mornings my jaws ache for hours! But, it’s getting better. . . Nine hours quality rest and I’m up. Time to pop some pills and supplements.

Welcome to a partially-described day in my 12-Week program. Betwixt and between, I read, write, scan, clean, work some in the yard, get some physical exercise, do some chores, run an errand or two, check my to-do list, plan ahead to make and deliver aspic for a church function, order HEY, BOO, and grab the telephone.

Wikipedia credits Psychiatrist Aaron Beck for having developed one of the cognitive therapies that emerged during the 1960’s: “Cognitive therapy seeks to help the patient overcome difficulties by identifying and changing dysfunctional thinking, behavior, and emotional responses. This involves helping patients develop skills for modifying beliefs, identifying distorted thinking, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviors.”

Well, there we have it. But my daily routine’s not cognitive therapy, per se — yet what I’m doing is cognition! I am moving thoughtfully through the day. I am processing information, applying knowledge, and changing how I think and feel about . . . well, about several things.

Want to know more — please? Subscribe. Send your suggestions. Know Mizrizbaboo will be very grateful.

Monday, Monday

Today’s not just any old Monday; today’s Easter Two. The Second Day of Easter.  Joyful, Hopeful, New — “behold I make all things new.”

And I write — I write thoughts from Easter Sunday, a glorious day in all the ways Christians seek and a beautiful weather day here in mid-Mississippi. Cardinals, blackbirds, hunter cats, doves, robins, even a territorial mockingbird. Wind chimes and church bells. Sweet scent from a Carolina jasmine and down-home aroma of browning squash — then, fresh vine-ripened tomatoes. Before I left home for the day, a lady bug: hushed, non-intrusive.

Picnic basket packed, house secured, large sunshades positioned: off! A one-hour drive and I delivered myself to visit my nearest living blood relative, my 96-year-old aunt, my treasure. Orphaned by my parents in 2003 and 2006, widowed less than six months ago, I needed family this Easter — family as only Auntie V can deliver. True and faithful as any one could aspire to be, this white-haired gem beams with the sure knowledge that she has, indeed, lived a long, mostly good life but is not yet finished. This reservoir of family lore lives and continues to look forward, to make plans. . .

Auntie V talked Friday about potato salad and pickled pigs’ feet — her roommate June dines on bites instead of meals and frequently expresses her wish for trotters so prepared! By Saturday evening I arranged to share Sunday lunch with them, coordinating the menu with her and affirming her to secrecy about my surprise for June. Promptly at noon, the three of us shared their prepared meals with Mizrizbaboo’s home-baked turkey breast, vinegared green beans with fried squash, potato salad, onions-cucumbers-and-tomatoes, and sweet strawberries for dessert. The pickles for June? Eagerly and gratefully received and enjoyed!

The best surprise? For me from Auntie V. Since I had a couple errands planned in and around my hometown, she suggested joining me — she would enjoy going for a ride! Although she’s lived in the nursing home a little over a year and gone on several family outings with her sons plus for dental and optometrist appointments, she and I had not ventured together. Wonderful idea, though!

Funny, and not really such a big surprise: I went to deliver food, and she fed me. We drove through the country, enjoyed many-hued roses and lilies, domestic animals grazing, and visiting two favored cemeteries. We assessed my property and agreed on changes I must instigate and soon achieve. We stopped in to say hello at the homes of two cousins and returned two hours later with genuinely good feelings and a big slice of home-made-from-scratch coconut cake for her supper.

“All you need is love.” That’s what revolutionary artist John Lennon proclaimed some 40 years ago — a big part of him also was “dedicated to change.” May all who read these words know such love, such gratitude, such joy.


Situation Report

Strategic planning begins with assessing the current situation; I have applied that to me, with big help from the folks at Enhanced Wellness: lab work, clinical data, gender, age, and other considerations — argh and yuk! Disgusting, I know, but necessary to know where you’ve been and are before you can even think about how to get where you think you want to go.

Now armed with personal “biomarkers of health,” I have chosen to lower both blood pressure and weight while also increasing exercise and decreasing the oh-so-very-bad body composition values. Nurse One said last week that I’m such a mess! That was not a compliment. We have learned that my gut’s got Candida albicans, commonly known as a yeast infection, and I am positive for Helicobacter pylori Ab, IgG, prevalent in about half the over-60 population and associated with gastritis, gastric and duodenal ulcers, and gastric malignancies.

My hormones are out of balance — well, duh: an old boyfriend told me that in 1983! Who else knew? The report says this could cause “agitation, insomnia, aggressiveness, and emotional lability.” Among other dysfunctions, “cognitive changes, headaches, panic attacks, insomnia, and depression with mood swings.” Adrenal stress index is normal but I show moderate to severe intolerance to polypeptides found in wheat, rye, oat, barley, and other grain glutens, toxic to the intestinal mucosa in susceptible individuals.

My therapeutic protocol aims, partially, to restore balance in the HPA axis,  “a major part (Wikipedia says) of the neuroendocrine system that controls reactions to stress and regulates many body processes, including digestion, the immune system, mood and emotions, sexuality, and energy storage and expenditure.”

And did I mention that I’m Vitamin D deficient and have low thyroid activity?

The game has begun! Beyond normal medications, my daily intake includes drops, capsules, chewables, and a prescribed six-times-a-day menu of concentrated protein, legumes, dairy, nuts and seeds, vegetables from two categories, fruits, grains, and oils. Today’s Day Four and I’m OK. Drinking quarts and quarts of water! Keeping a log of activity and sleep and consumption.

Am I having fun yet? Not particularly. This routine plays havoc with my work and social life, and I don’t like watching the clock to be certain I take in nutrition throughout the course of my day. I resist routine! The Earth Mother part of me shakes her head sadly but with some optimism that optimal health remains within my grasp. Way out yonder!

Twelve weeks? I can do 12 weeks: April 20 to July 13, encompassing Easter, ECW’s Southern Soiree, and Tulane University Commencement and Alumni Board meeting, entertaining two West Virginia friends and possibly a huge part of the Sullivan family plus cousin from WDC, attending the McAlpin reunion, and continuing activities of daily living.

But back to strategic planning. Now the sit rep and action plan are in place; execution has begun. Process evaluation will occur daily, weekly, biweekly. Along the way Mizrizbaboo will comment on fleeting thoughts, puzzling dilemmas, and profound observations. I hope you’ll join me — subscribe or visit, at least intermittently, and — puhleeze — offer encouragement for this part of my journey.

Hello world!

Welcome to Yes, that’s right! Say it just like it looks. . . Welcome to my very own created-by-my-own-self-with-much-anguish new site. Mizrizbaboo has entered a new phase of reinvention mode and this is the coming out — first? eighteenth? how many times now? So here’s the design, the blog, the journal, the reportage, if you will, and how I do hope you will. Read and like and return to read some more. Leave your comments. Subscribe!

Here I go, Again!

Reporting from Jackson, Mississippi. . . and on another renew, reinvent, revolutionize kick. This one involves me, my own self. This has to do with mind, body, computer, kitchen, personal and public personages, and whatever else flits through my mind during a given post.

Hey, I’m eclectic! And I’m changing.

Thunder rolls — *really.* Appropriate: this is life-changing, at least, it’s supposed to be. This is Day Two of a 12-week effort to detoxify my diet, my lethargy, my lack of physical movement. Reckon I can? Reckon I can! I’ve got a map, a plan, a commitment to myself. I’m going to be different.

So, how? Well, getting a better-than-high-blood pressure will be a really good start! And losing some weight surely should make that happen. Eating all day, taking the prescribed medicines and supplements and making the proper menus and moves, getting restful sleep — yes, that ought to do it!

This programs right out of Enhanced Wellness — check it out, The map came after months of thought, exploration, commitment, and laboratory analysis and reports as to mizrizbaboo’s own self. My navigator’s a family nurse practitioner certified in anti-aging medicine. Yes, Sir! Seriously. I got the map, the manual, the sheets to fill out what I eat and drink and do just three days ago. And I’m into it!

Getting started requires some thought, some preparation, some rearranging. The spinach tortillas and marinara sauce I bought last week? Nope. No wheat and no corn; we assume I am intolerant. For 12 weeks, I shall detox. No sugar, no wine binge, no unhealthy food. Just medical food twice a day, water, protein and grain, water, vegetables, fruit, water, nuts, fat — hooray for olive oil! — water, and did I mention water? Six mini-meals a day at relatively prescribed times.

The first two days have been good. I’ve managed the time fairly well, although my long-awaited shrubbery-trimming delayed lunch the first afternoon and my computer concentration caused me to forget lunch today. Fortunately, getting back on track’s been easy, and already I’ve concocted two delicious new dishes!

For lunch today, I combined some eat-as-much-as-you-like-without-guilt veggies to accompany tuna on chopped onion for lunch. You can try it, too: Chop half a red bell pepper and two small yellow squash; saute together in a little water. When soft, add a bunch of fresh spinach and steam together about 5 minutes. Mist with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and other tasty spices you think would be good. Delicious!

Tonight I added drippings from baking a turkey breast to chopped cabbage and a can of Original Rotel, then steamed until the cabbage was tender. Tasty, especially with a little Himalayan sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Yes, I’m pretty sure this is going to work. Now for my tablespoon of crunchy almond butter and a cup of Sleepy Time tea. G’night, All!