Saturday, August 24, 2013

A change in direction

I recently had a routine checkup and one of my numbers came up in the red zone. The A1C tests the average levels of glucose in the blood over a three month period. A value between 5.7 and 6.4 is considered pre-diabetic. Above 6.4 is diagnosed as diabetic. I am at 6.2.

Diabetes runs in my family, so this number has my attention.

I am not obese. According to the notoriously inaccurate BMI, I am not even overweight, but I carry all of my fat around my stomach, which is the worst place to have it. And though people generally think of me as fit and healthy, the truth is, I have the diet from hell and I haven't done much exercising beyond gardening for about two years now. It think this has finally caught up with me.

My doctor is fond of saying that our genetics do not have to be our destiny, and this is what she told me when we discussed this during my office visit. She thinks that if I lose 10 pounds and start exercising again I can turn it around. So about four weeks ago I changed directions. I re-booted the running and got back on the road bike--both things that I enjoy and that, except for occasional timeouts (that admittedly last longer than they should), are things I've done all of my life.

What I haven't done all of my life is eat a healthy diet, so this has been a radical change for me. I know what a healthy diet is, for the most part, I just haven't been eating one. Even so, as I started to do some research and looking for recipes that would compete with the appeal of bad food, I learned a few surprising things. The most important thing I discovered was that there is an awful lot of really good food out there that is perfectly okay to eat. True, I'm going to have to give up some things and alter the timing of when I eat others, but on the whole, this is not a deprivation diet. I can still have pizza; it just has to be loaded with things that will slow down the digestion of the crust, such as veggies and lean meats.

My doctor said something else to me during that office visit. She said that society generally doesn't offer us much support for changing our diets, but I actually think we have lots of it. We just have to ask.

It is true that everywhere we go in America, there are pies and cookies and cakes being thrust at us. It is awfully hard to say "no" to these things, not just because they are tasty, but because we don't want to hurt someone's feelings. But I believe that if we are up front and say, "Thanks for the offering, but I'm a pre-diabetic (or diabetic)," people will generally understand and not feel slighted if we don't accept the offering. We don't have to make a big deal about it; we just have to be open and gracious.

So I'm off on a new journey. It will be interesting to see where it takes me. It has already started to shake up the recipe box a little.

And now I'm off for my Saturday morning ride. Ciao, bella.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Backyard before and after: 1994-2013

Someone from the National Realtors Association contacted me today because because they want to use a couple of before and after photos of the front of our house for an article on their website, HouseLogic. It reminded me that I also have a photo of what the backyard looked like when we first moved in:

And of course, here are some shots of what it looks like today, some twenty years later:

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Before and after: garden utility area

There is a spot in the back garden that has always been rather awkward. It is a clear space that sits behind a a large stand of mahonia and in front of the woodshop. For years it has looked like this:

I put that portal there some time ago, always intending to do...I dunno, something. (I really have no idea what I was thinking.) And so it has stood, odd and mysterious, a gateway to nowhere. Unfortunately, this area is the first thing you see when you come out of the back door. So this summer I decided to do something about it, making it an attractive garden utility space, with a place to store all my most commonly used tools.

I put two small sheds back there, one with shelves for hand tools, organic fertilizer, drip irrigation supplies, and so on, and the other without shelves so that I could stack all my long handled tools inside, out of the weather. I spread some gravel and made a path to keep the mud at bay (not that we actually have many days in which there is enough rain for mud):

Then I used some redwood I had from an old deck we tore down last year and built a fence to hide the ladders, wheelbarrows, and etc.:

I also used the same wood to make a new gate, and sent the old one to live here, where it keeps the dogs out of their favorite area to pick fence fights with the old dog next door:

 The new gate was made to match this decorative panel, which is just across the way from the utility area:

Behind the fence is a new compost bin. The old compost bins are still working fine, but this one is even closer to the kitchen door, which makes it more likely that I'll use it when the weather or mosquitoes are at their worst: