Saturday, July 14, 2018

Entranced by the Blue Hour

Sometimes, after I have completed another night of grading essays for my writing classes this summer, I pull open the curtains or walk outside to water the plants before going to bed and find the early morning incredibly pretty for a number of reasons—the sun has not yet risen about the horizon, the air is at its coolest, and the birds are singing.

Only recently, after I downloaded the Exsate Golden Hour app, have I become more acquainted with both the blue hour and the golden hour, both of which appear once in the morning and once in the evening but usually for less than an hour each time.

I don’t remember finding as much enjoyment in the morning blue hour when I was younger and hurrying to work or when I was working the midnight shift and guarding KC-135’s on alert while I was stationed in Montana.

I am almost tempted to rearrange my internal clock so that I can wake up at something like 4:30 every morning. My circadian rhythm has been configured differently for so many years. I’m not sure that I can ever actually become a morning person. The idea, though, is appealing and something to consider.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Going Vegetarian

Although not an advocate of the raw food diet, I have been subsisting largely on fruits and uncooked vegetables during the past few months. I have given up meat and eggs but consume milk, cheese, and, less often, Icelandic yogurt, so if I had to describe myself, I would say that I have become a lacto vegetarian.

Last autumn and during the winter, I was experiencing terrible indigestion after I had eaten meat and eggs. I usually had to chew two Rolaids before getting ready to bed. I was swallowing a Pepcid AC before going to sleep, and sometimes I was waking up after a few hours and needing to chew one or two more Rolaids. When I visited my doctor, I was given a sonogram, which didn’t reveal any abnormalities regarding my digestive system. The only thing that helped was changing my diet. I am at the point now where I don’t need any over-the-counter medications for indigestion.

I started experimenting with my new diet in December when my wife was in the hospital in Topeka. When I got back from seeing her in the evenings, I only ate fresh vegetables because it was the easiest thing. I didn’t want the hassle of preparing a meat of some kind for myself. Prior to her hospitalization, we were largely eating vegetables and a grilled meat like chicken in the evening for dinner. I simply cut out the meat when I was eating by myself. Once I started eating meat again, I noticed how difficult it was to digest and eventually decided to give it up.

My dinner meal now consists almost entirely of raw vegetables—celery, carrots, spinach, red, yellow, or orange pepper, tomato without the skin and, when it is soft enough to eat, avocado, all of which are eaten without any salad dressing. I also add a piece of toasted wheat bread with peanut butter. Lunch consists of peanuts, raisins, an apple, and an orange. Sometimes, when the grocery store is having a sale, we buy strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries and pair them with a sliced orange or slices of banana for lunch. For breakfast, I am eating two dates, a banana, and a slice of toasted wheat bread with peanut butter and fruit spread, a kind of jam without sugar.

Although I used to eat dark chocolate in the mornings, I have given that up as well and don’t eat chocolate at any other time. Peanut butter cookie Lara bars are my one vice unless I count the spoonful of honey added to my tea in the mornings.

This diet of mine might seem repetitive. I think of it as healthy and tasty, despite the sameness, and don’t miss eating meat or eggs.

When we ate at the Genghis Khan Mongolian Restaurant on Bell Street in Kansas City on my birthday, I chose only vegetables and tofu and had everything cooked with water. Recognizing my choices, the cook was kind enough to ask whether I wanted him to use a separate utensil, one that had not touched meat, for my meal. “No. Everything is fine,” I told him.

Eating anywhere else is not that easy because of the limited selections. My wife, as I have probably said before, is willing to eat lunch at Panera Bread when we are in Kansas City. My order consists of a whole grain bagel with cream cheese and, sometimes, a banana. After we recently celebrated the end of the semester by seeing the movie Rampage, we decided to eat at a gourmet pizza restaurant. My pizza included only spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, and goat cheese. Although the crust was a little burned, I still managed to digest the meal without any problems.

I was a vegetarian of sorts when I was a sophomore in college. My evening meals consisted of a rice concoction--that is, brown rice, potatoes, cheese, and eggs. Later, one summer as an upperclassman, I remember only eating salads, but for some reason I stopped once the fall semester got underway. When my wife first met me, a few years later, I was eating a grilled cheese sandwich nightly, one consisting of two or three layers of cheddar cheese on coarse whole wheat bread before it was baked in the oven in a cast iron frying pan. I usually paired my sandwich with a cooked vegetable or fruit. My wife attributes my good health at that time to the amount of walking that I was doing.

Going vegetarian is something that I have experimented with over the years. One person once said that eating a vegetarian meal simply consisted of eating enough bananas until one felt satiated. Such a practice will, of course, result in vitamin deficiency. if that practice is continued.

I am not eating vegetarian because I want to lose weight. I have lost a few pounds and find that my pants fit looser than they once did. Although I could afford to lose about ten more pounds, I am not that concerned about losing weight. I can say that I don't feel as bogged down after a meal, or as lethargic, in other words, as I once did.

Eventually, I may try some of the recipes in a vegetarian cookbook. For now, I am extremely satisfied with my simple diet.  I especially look forward to the heirloom tomatoes that will be available at the local farmer’s market later this summer.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Enjoying What We Have While We Can

Spring has been slow to arrive where I live. The trees have only started to flower recently. In other years the magnolia in my yard has opened its blossoms in March; this year many of the buds were frost burned. We were still having hard freezes and snow up until mid-April this year.

Spring, when it comes, still comes with a vengeance, and we already have had days with temperatures in the 80s (aka 27 degrees centigrade).

Although I know people who much prefer to exercise indoors, I prefer to walk outside where it is possible to enjoy the wind, the sounds, and the sights. When I lift weights at the local community center, which is located next to the Missouri River, I prefer to stand in front of a window so that I can look outside at the same time.

I don't usually let the weather deter me when I walk. Windy and cold may not be as pleasant, but it still feels good to be outside in the weather, especially for someone who once stood guard outside on a regular basis as I did in Montana and England.

It sometimes surprises me how much my military training has remained with me even though almost fifty years have passed since my enlistment. One thing I learned is to be prepared for the weather, and for that reason, I have been known to carry several coats, of varying weight, in my car, along with gloves, scarves, and hats.

I can start carrying fewer coats now, except for a light jacket for the evenings and a rain jacket.

Maintaining a Clean Computer Desktop

The picture of my two computer screens proves that a clean desktop is important to me. One of the first things I do when I get a new computer is remove the desktop icons. I much prefer having my active programs appear on the taskbar.

Once I started using Windows 8.1, I searched Google for a Start Button and downloaded one so that I can easily access those most recently used programs. When I need to access a program used less frequently, such as Super AntiSpyware, I click on the Desktop toolbar and scroll up to what I want or use the Programs folder available through the Start button. It took much longer to find the utility program that would allow the taskbar to appear on both screens. I recommend downloading ZBar for those people with two screens.

Once when I was having a technician from Microsoft figure out why Microsoft Word was not accessible on my computer after its most recent update, the technician had a problem in negotiating my old laptop at first and had to make the desktop icons visible. On another occasion, when my son, who was studying networking in college at the time, was trying to use my computer, he couldn’t figure out how to find Google Chrome. It’s amusing how people can find my arrangement confusing.

A supervisor of mine used to keep a number of Word documents visible on her desktop. It always amazed me how cluttered she kept her desktop. Her computer had the appearance of a busy person when really all of those files simply got in the way.

I’m an advocate for keeping one’s desktop as clean as possible. I think of my desktop as a kind of gallery, and I usually make one of my recent pictures as the desktop background. While my wife has a number of pictures that make up her background, with the picture changing every few minutes, I prefer to keep the picture on my background stationary.

My Dad was capable of fixing several different things, such as lamps, furniture, watches, TVs, and radios. My handiwork, or tinkering, seems to be limited to computers.