A place where I can share interesting ideas and maybe get a few things off my chest

Archive for March, 2014

My Brain at Night

Brain at Night

I don’t know who to credit for this memecard that found its way to my Facebook page, but it so perfectly captured my experience that I not only shared it there, but felt compelled to bring it forward here to share last night’s brainshower.

A group that popped up on Facebook at the beginning of Lent, “40 Bags in 40 Days”, is a mutual-cheer group for people working toward decluttering, giving up for Lent not just one thing, but a portion of the mass of things that reflects, constitutes, and exacerbates the feelings of not being in control of our lives.

Last night, in one of those moments I often have where I am partially awake but know it isn’t time to really wake up, my mind paralleled body fat with house clutter. When you eat more calories than you need, your body pulls the extra glucose out of your blood and converts it to fat storage (somehow, I don’t know the actual mechanics) for when you might need it later. In our society, food is so plentiful that the later never comes and so we just continue to accumulate the fat that slows us down and wears us out.

Our society also has such a surplus of material goods that producers constantly vie for our attention, hoping to persuade us to purchase their things, whether we need them or not. And hunter-gatherers that we are, when we find a spiffy-cool, bright-and-shiny object that is either unlike anything we have or somehow perceived as better than all the other ones we already own, we grab it and take it back to the cave to save for when we might need it later. Except that, like the fat in our bodies, later may never come and we just continue to accumulate things that slow us down and wear us out mentally and emotionally.

Just as the fat accumulating inside our arteries can constrict and slow down the blood flow, the clutter in our homes constricts the energy flow, making moving through our living space feel like struggling through invisible quicksand.

To my middle-of-the-night brain, it was all so clear, and reinforced my plan to continue to work on letting go of things. 

Lunch With Mom




Me: Okay, Mom! We’re through with our Saturday errands. What do you want to have for lunch? Mexican? Chinese? A sandwich?

Mom: I’ll just decided when I look at the menu.

Me: But if we want Mexican or Chinese we have to decide to go to that restaurant.

Mom: I don’t care. Anything’s fine.

(After our arrival at Daddy’s Grill)

Me: Oh, good – we can choose between the breakfast or lunch menus. I think I’m going to have breakfast. What about you?

Mom: Do they have Mexican food?

Grooming Sophie

Yorkies are known for their long, silky hair. And when Yorkies are groomed for show, they look like this:

Show Yorkie

It occurred to me that Yorkies are the grown-up equivalent of this:

Big Barbie Head

When I was a kid, I did not have the ability to sit still long enough to play with something like this. As an adult, the idea of holding down a squirming dog who didn’t want to be brushed and combed any more than I wanted to be doing it, would probably leave Sophie looking much like this poor puppy:

Cookie’s before picture

However, since I am not a cruel doggie mistress, I took Sophie to the groomer today. Our groomer has this poster on the wall so those of us unfamiliar with grooming terms can merely point and grunt at the style we desire.

Grooming poster


Last time at the groomer , we had her do something similar to 3rd row, 4th photo (not exactly, because they left her side fringe a little longer), only to find that the grass in our backyard has seeds that have some kind of sticky adhesive properties that allowed Sophie to collect them all along her legs and sides, and then deposit them on the couch and our laps. This time, I told them I wanted the Body Contour cut (3rd row, 1st photo) – to just make her look like a short-hair dog except for her little face ruff and eyebrows.

She is really quite adorable and as soon as I find the little cord that lets me transfer pictures from my camera to my computer (I know it’s around here somewhere on my desk, under some of this very important stuff I have yet to sort through and file), I will post a photo of her amazing cuteness.


Plastic Mitigation

I’ve cleaned out the cabinets of most of the plastic foodware. I’m ordering a glass cookie jar for Mom and a ceramic coffee jar, both to replace the I-don’t-know-how-many-years-old Rubbermaid canisters. The sugar and brown sugar that have been in the smaller canisters is just going down the sink and their canisters won’t be replaced, at least not immediately, because I can’t remember the last time I used either one. I have quite a collection of Mason jars that the rice can be stored in. Operation Plastic Purge is well underway.

Unfortunately, I’m having problems in a couple of areas. One is that a great deal of our food products that used to come in glass now are packaged in plastic. The entire condiment aisle used to be glass jars and bottles, but now ketchup, mayo, salad dressing – all plastic. The only jars in our fridge that are consistently glass are those holding jam or relish. I think I’ll be able to find a version of most things offered in glass, except when I get to the dairy case. Yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, cheese – all in plastic of some kind. I’ve been thinking that perhaps the way to deal with that is to put that stuff into glass containers as soon after I purchase it as possible. Mitigation, if not elimination.

But I haven’t yet been able to figure out  this thing:

Mr. Coffee

Not only does it have a plastic reservoir into which we pour cold water for it to sit for hours overnight, but it also has a plastic filter bowl, over which very hot water pours as the coffee is made. As best I can tell, there are few, if any, automatic coffee makers without plastic innards. When I surfed for “plastic-free coffee pots”, I got pictures of large and small manual types – old-fashioned drip pots, stove-top percolators, very cute single-serving ceramic drip cups, sleek glass coffee presses – but nothing that would allow me to set up coffee to be ready for my mother on the days she gets up an hour or more earlier than I do.

This sleek fellow calls himself stainless, but I see plastic across the bottom and the details don’t tell me if the insides are also stainless.

This one appears to be all-steel construction, probably because plastic would not withstand the heat of percolation, but alas, it is not programmable. It might work for us if it has a time-off switch, which is actually the main reason we bought a programmable one in the first place, after I came home and found that Mother had poured herself the last cup of coffee and then left the burner on the entire day. If it will turn itself off, then I could set it up the night before so all she’d have to do would be to hit the “on” switch. Of course, she’d also have to be able to lift the pot to pour it, and it looks like it might be a little heavy.

I guess until we get a new one, I’ll continue to make coffee in our almost-totally-plastic coffee maker. And worry about it.

How To Avoid Plastics?

A couple of days ago, I saw a link to a Mother Jones article regarding plastics which leach estrogen mimicking chemicals into any food contained within them. Not just the ones with BPA, but a vast array of plastics. And how the plastics companies had hired the same legal firms used by Big Tobacco in the past.

The following day, a follow-up article showed the handy chart below. The percentages shown below indicate how many of the samples tested showed estrogen activity (EA).

So, during the day yesterday, I’m thinking about all the food-holding plastic in my kitchen. Not just the Rubbermaid containers that have leftovers (that I sometimes heat in the microwave at work, which evidently makes the leaching worse), but the long-term storage of coffee, sugar, flour, rice, etc., in those nice, clear plastic canisters that keep me from having to remember (or just guessing) what any given container might be holding. And those handy clear plastic pint freezer jars I just put 20+ pints of (hot!) broth in before stocking the freezer with what I considered to be a much healthier alternative to the canned broth with all the added salt and other preservatives. And I’m thinking how I may be using all those glass Mason jars (thank you, Classico) I’ve got stashed around the house and garage as alternate food storage until I figure out something better.

I shared this info on Facebook with my kids and extended family members who have young children, and also printed the two articles out for a young mother co-worker. She asked for the URL to send her husband so he wouldn’t think she’d lost her mind when she started throwing out all the plastic in the kitchen.

Last night, I started looking on Amazon for glass or stainless canisters. And as I cooked dinner, I eyed the plastic spoons and ladles in the tool crock. When I put dinner away, I used a lidded glass bowl I normally only use to microwave food. It’s round, and the lid doesn’t fit tightly, and it takes up more room in the fridge than the handy square, stackable Rubbermaid ones that now I’m wondering if Hubby should even be using for his salad lunches anymore. Last night, I tossed and turned as I wondered if I’d be able to find a wooden ladle, then thought about how that wouldn’t look good with a punchbowl, but I wouldn’t want to use the plastic ladle anymore, but glass ladles are just so fragile, and on and on and on.

THEN I started thinking about all of our food items that are packaged in plastic containers – Mom’s yogurt and cottage cheese, all the cheese, really, spices, herb rubs, Mom’s cookies, the heat-it-in-its-own-plastic-bowl side dishes that are so handy. Hubby mentioned that most food cans are lined with similar material. And the frozen vegetables are packaged in plastic bags – maybe not so troublesome since the food is not hot when it’s put in them, but what about the new “steam-in” bags?

And while this feels a bit histrionic, I can’t help but think about the Ancient Romans and all the handy uses they had for lead. It looks like my spring cleaning will begin a little early this year, kicking off with The Great Plastic Purge of 2014. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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