Saturday evening, Kate was telling me about the polenta crusted roast potatoes she was planning to do for her mother's birthday party. I was intrigued and did a web search, and she confirmed that this recipe was indeed what she was talking about.
I used lard instead of duck fat - I don't even know where I'd BUY duck fat. (Kate says that she uses vegetable oil except at Christmas.) The amount of potatoes called for works out to around 4 lbs. (I cut this in half), and I used russet potatoes. The oven temperature works out to around 400 F.
They were delicious after salting! Crusty yet tender. Next time I make them (and there WILL be a next time), I'd like to try a dusting of parmesan and maybe some fresh herbs when they're right out of the oven.
The procedure I used is on americastestkitchen.com. Basically you're cutting Meyer lemons so they're not quite quartered lengthwise, rubbing a LOT of salt into them, and putting them in a Mason jar and covering with fresh lemon juice. I'll shake them once a day for 4 days then let them continue sitting in the refrigerator for another 6 weeks. Again, I'll let you know how they turn out.
Whew! And I don't even have a passport!
This post is not about diabetes. It's also not about depression, at least that I know of.
It's not even really about music, the apparent topic: not really. It's about aging and youth, about memory and convenient forgetting, about being comfortable with who we are, even in things that don't seem to matter much at all.
Music has never been a huge part of my life. As with many of my interests, it comes and goes. I have times when I listen a great deal, and times when I don't listen at all. (My mother, were she here, might say something about my not listening to her.) But, as I imagine to be true for most people in this culture, music has been an important part of the soundtrack of my life. This was especially true when I was younger.
Born in 1960, I was a teenager in the 1970s. I started choosing my own music around 1974, but I was heavily influenced by an older sister who was really more of a 60's kid. I remember listening with her to her transistor radio when very young. My favorite at those times was "American Woman" by the Guess Who, because I thought the "UH!" in the song sounded like the singer was going to the bathroom. Great stuff for a ten-year old!
I was never very much into disco music (though I felt strangely effected when the lead singer of the Bee Gees died the other day), and I never really got very much into (or even necessarily knew about) the hard rock movement then being born. But I loved Three Dog Night, Bad Company, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Grand Funk Railroad, Queen. The first concert I attended was Queen. For a while, I was even into Alice Cooper and Kiss. Even now, if you were to give me an electric guitar and the magical ability to play it, the first thing you'd hear would be the opening chords to Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" - and I imagine tens of thousands of men my age would say about the same thing.
In my twenties, my tastes expanded not only to music that was popular then but to stuff that had been around in my teens but that I hadn't known about. Led Zeppelin. The Moody Blues. Chicago. The Band. I even ventured into some "progressive rock" such as Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Blue Oyster Cult, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
I had never been concerned much about lyrics: the music I loved, I loved for how it sounded and how I felt as it washed over me. But in my early thirties I could no longer ignore the sharp divide between the lyrical content of the music I loved and the values I tried to live on a daily basis. Besides, the new music had ceased speaking to me: U2 was clearly making great music, but it wasn't MY music. Not everyone 'ages out' of popular music, but many do, and I did. So, I concentrated my musical explorations (such as they were) to further exploring the world of classical music I'd started developing a taste for in my late teens, along with some jazz. I like some early music, some of the stuff from the nationalist musics of the 19th and 20th centuries, "West Coast Jazz" (esp. Dave Brubeck and also Miles Davis in the "Kind of Blue" era), some Latin jazz, some a lot of things. I also have what is probably an unhealthy love for requiem masses - I think I own six, and most are listened to fairly regularly.
And thus, for most of two decades, I vary rarely played the music that had once made up the soundtrack to my life.
Recently, this has been changing. I've found myself tuning into "classic rock" stations from time to time, I've been playing more of the oldies that I still own, and this weekend I celebrated my fourth "diaversary" with an iTunes splurge. Once again, after a 2o-year gap, this music is once again important to me.
So what's this about? My guess is that it's middle age. I can't afford (and don't want) either the convertible or the "big nasty redhead" (as Randy Newman put it) that guys my age sometimes get to try to reclaim lost youth, but listening to Simon and Garfunkel gives me some of the same thing. But it's complicated - sure, I sometimes reminisce about years gone by as I listen to this music, but not always. I read a while back that one treatment for depression is to listen to music one used to love, so maybe there's some of that going on. Maybe I just need some back beat to stay awake!
People who spend a lot of time thinking about popular culture sometimes use the word zeitgeist ("spirit of the times") to describe what's going on culturally at a particular place and time. I tend to believe that music that gets popular - whether among the masses or just among the cognoscenti - does so in part because it plugs into the zeitgeist, connects with who people really are then and there. Thus, the music that was popular when I was young has a tie to parts of my innermost being. Though I enjoy joking on Twitter about how everybody's into music that I've never heard of, I genuinely am not putting any artist or their fans down. It's just that the bands who came along after I was fully grown aren't really speaking to me, they're speaking to other people. Had I made the choice to try, I'm confident I could have found contemporary music that spoke to me. But, instead, I found other music that spoke to me in other ways.
Will the music from my life's soundtrack continue to be important to me? I don't know. But for now, it's helping me connect to me.
Well, actually, time probably DOESN'T healed all pies. But it healed this one.
The other night, I set out to make the Icebox Strawberry Pie I'd seen made on the "Cook's Country" television show. The filling was made by cooking down 2 lbs of frozen strawberries, adding some sugar and some softened gelatin, then folding a pound of sliced fresh strawberries immediately before folding into the baked pie crust. (I used store-bought pie dough this time.) The big thing in this recipe was working with gelatin, which I'd never done before except for commercial Jell-O.
After the pie had set in the refrigerator for the specified four hours, I discovered that I had, well, strawberry soup. And, because I'd overfilled the shell, I had a strawberry soup mess. I took another look at my recipe and discovered that while I had added the lemon juice to my gelatin powder, I was supposed to add water. I figured that my pie was doomed to staying soup, but it was reasonably tasty soup, so I cleaned up a bit and stuck it back in the fridge.
24 hours later, I had actual pie. Go figure.
Friday the 25th (tomorrow as I write) will be the day I mark as the fourth anniversary of my diagnosis as a Type 2 diabetic. (The actual date is lost to history, so I use the last Friday in May.)
After four years, where am I? It's a come-and-go situation.
My diabetes management comes and goes. My healthy eating comes and goes. (Haven't seen it lately, gotta say.) My blogging and advocacy come and go.
(On the other hand, my feeble jokes are always with us.)
Thus far, in my life with this changeable disease, control has been pretty consistent even if my contribution to that control have not. I was diagnosed with an hbA1c of 9.5 (cleverly bypassing the controversial 'borderline' diagnosis). Three months later, I was within 'normal' range. (Thank you, Metformin.) Since then I've stayed more-or-less stable, though I feel (without a lot of objective evidence) that things are slipping some. My doctor's still happy, however.
It seems like it's been much longer than four years.
One of the best experiences of my life with diabetes was my first meeting with a particular doctor. She had had me do the blood work in advance, and the numbers were wonderful. Also wonderful was the flood of congratulations that came in on Twitter after I posted my numbers.
The congratulations felt great, and I've often participated in extending them to others.
But I've begun to worry. It's a subtle point, I grant you, but I'm worried anyway.
When someone in the DOC posts numbers that they're proud of, we rejoice in their success. When someone posts numbers that disappoint them, the community's response is "They're only numbers. They don't define you. Treat them as data points, learn what you can, and keep plugging." This is 100% true.
But the opposite of success is not 'data point'. The opposite of success is failure.
My worry is that the greeting my numbers when joy when they seem good sets me up for misery when they don't. I think maybe our brains know that we can’t have it both ways. Maybe we’re trying to feed our emotional centers a line and that our emotional centers aren’t fooled a bit. Maybe throwing a party for a 5.9 makes it that much harder to cope we don’t want to see.
Now clearly, good medical news (A1c or whatever else) is a fabulous thing and it’s appropriate to be happy about it. I’m just wondering if perhaps treating good medical news as something good that’s happened TO us – like coming across a big sale at our favorite store – rather than an accomplishment that validates us. Of course our efforts have a role in “good” test results, but as Abby pointed out, even “good” test results don’t necessarily mean that things are going well.
Of course, I’m going to continue to participate in Twitter celebrations when folks post about how excited they are. But, for myself, I think I’m going to work a little harder on taking all my test results, whether exciting or disappointing, more nearly in stride. They’re all just data points.
1. If you're going to make a dish (oh, say, gumbo) that relies on shrimp (in the recipe I was using), it's a good idea to sniff the shrimp BEFORE you chop your veggies.
2. On the other hand, meals made from abruptly orphaned ingredients have the potential for accidental fabulousness.
3. In the process of making cake doughnuts, I overworked the dough. I thought the final product was a little tough, though my neighbor lady didn't think so.
4. I still need to figure out how not to get overheated in summertime cooking situations. I don't think I stayed adequately hydrated today. I didn't get sick, exactly, but I wasn't feeling all that well when I finished up today.
5. I am unconvinced that deep frying is worth the hassle. I guess the smaller amount of oil my multicooker used would be easier. I'm glad I tried the stove stove top method, however.
For the final day of Diabetes Blog Week, we're asked to talk about a role model or somebody we admire. The diabetes-relevant person I think I admire most is my friend-I've-never-met, George, alias the Ninjabetic.
George and I have a lot in common, I think. We both care about words, and exactly what they mean. We both have changes we'd like to make, and I think we're both puzzled about how much trouble we have making them. We both struggle staying positive at times. I suspect that we both torture ourselves with our todo lists, even if those lists exist only in our heads.
But George really puts himself out there. Though he's also busy in his roles as husband, father of two, employee, active church member, musician, actor/director and who knows what else, he continues to participate however and whenever he can in making life better for other PWDs.
Most of all, though, I admire that he keeps moving forward. He challenges himself, and he takes himself out of his comfort zone. And it inspires me to know that he's out there, still pressing on.
For Day 6 of Diabetes Blog Week, we're challenged to show what diabetes looks like. Although at my current stage of Type 2 diabetes, a progressive disease, makes it very unlikely that I will need this for diabetes reasons. The main reason I wear it is to help stave off denial. While I rarely actually think about it, every time I do, it's an acknowledgement of my disease and everything that comes with it.
Today’s prompt for Diabetes Blog Week asks, with slight modification by me, “What is one thing you would tell someone who doesn’t have (my) diabetes about living with (my) diabetes?”
Because Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, people who have it are in an astonishingly wide variety of health situations. I have friends who get good control through diet and exercise, friends who just need oral medication, and friends who require daily basal insulin. I also have friends who are fully insulin-dependent, including one friend who requires so much insulin that she takes a special formulation that’s at ten times the normal strength. People with Type 2 can be otherwise perfectly healthy, and they can be very sick individuals indeed. It’s not uncommon for Type 2s to be diagnosed after complications have already appeared.
Me? I’m pretty lucky, so far. I get pretty good (though possibly slipping) control on an oral medication, and have no signs of complications except occasional tingling in the feet. I can certainly get high blood sugars, but it’s not hard for me to avoid rising enough to not feel good. And, it appears that my liver still knows how and when to do a glucose dump, so I don’t at this point experience the lows that trouble most people with diabetes. You could say that even in an ‘invisible disease’ community, mine is (at this time) doubly invisible.
But what I need people to understand, need YOU to understand, is this:
I’m sick, too.
Because of diabetes, my already-iffy metabolism is downright broken. It seems like nothing works quite right. After a lifetime of feeling comfortable at a wide range of temperatures, for example, I feel both heat and cold much more keenly. And of the gang of thugs – diseases often appearing along with T2 – I have high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Because of diabetes (in combination with my personality), I live with fear of the future. I am subject to all the potential complications that all diabetics may face. Blindness, heart disease, loss of feeling in the limbs or even of the limbs themselves, kidney failure: any or all of these may be down the road for me. A while back, I read about a study that appeared to show that T2 is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease – the Alzheimer’s that has my T2 father in a care facility. You can imagine how calm that makes me feel about what is almost certainly normal middle-age loss of mental acuity.
Because of diabetes, the cycles of depression that I experience become downright dangerous. Depression makes the routines of diabetes management to seem both burdensome and also of little value. Depression also calls me into the habits of eating and minimal sleep that I’ve sought comfort in for decades.
I’ve been writing publicly about diabetes for a couple of years now. Even so, I am repelled by just typing the words “I am sick.”
But I am.
And I need you to understand that.
Thursday's topic for Diabetes Blog Week is to imagine our ultimate diabetes device. I can see no way that my dream device could be made, but twenty years ago I couldn't have imagined the device I'm typing on.
What I want is a magic food diary that would track whatever I eat and store that information with the food's nutritional information, all with little or no effort by me. Though keeping a food diary is often encouraged as an important weight loss strategy, I've never been able to pull it off for a couple of days at a time. Further, the blood glucose tests I do would be analyzed in the context of what I'd eaten recently. Additionally, if the Rent-a-CGM I want ever becomes available, the data from that would be folded into the food data as well.
Over time - and not all that much time with a CGM - the data would return highly usable information about how my particular metabolism responds to what I eat. I picture the device as being able to alert me to trends in blood sugar impact. And, by being able to look at a complete record of my eating, I could look for patterns in what food choices I make when. Plus, I'd gain the benefits of accountability for my eating, even if it's accountability only to myself.
The device would NOT, however, be able to ask "Good heavens, Pedersen, why are you putting THAT in your face?"