Royal Flush

This year’s USA Pro Challenge cycling race came through my city, and in a fit of hometown pride, DH and I signed up to be volunteers.  We thought we would be course marshals, but we ended up in the VIP Tent doing early morning setups.  Volunteers are easy: give us free t-shirts, free food (left over from breakfast for the amateur racers), and a couple of drinks vouchers, and we are happy campers.  IMG_2533
But probably the highlight of my day was the VIP luxury restroom trailer.  No VIPs were around — the governor had shown up earlier, made a brief speech, and sent the amateur racers on their way, but he was long gone.  Feeling VERY IMPORTANT, I used the women’s restroom.  Yes I did.  It was air-conditioned, it had running hot and cold water, and the toilets flushed.  It was, as they say, as pictured and described.  Who knew portable toilets could be so high-end?  Certainly not Opie and her new baby sister, Tula:

CSA Share Week 14:  Asian eggplant, squash, yellow (pole) beans, Tuscan kale, carrots, strawberries

Recipes:  warm yellow bean salad with shallots and olive oil/tarragon vinegar dressing; ratatouille; sauteed Tuscan kale with white beans; roasted carrots and potatoes

Red Chair Reads: The Fortnight in September

I love London (I’m with Dr. Johnson on this), and back when plane fares were a tad more affordable, I used to go once a year, usually by myself.  Six years ago, I took my family with me, and we rented a townhouse built at the end of the 17th century.  It was a great four-story house; it had saggy, creaky floors, and there was not one right angle anywhere in it.  It also had a full-size American style washer and dryer set, but that’s another story . . . .  The house was on Lamb’s Conduit Street, and was just a few buildings away from Persephone Books.  At the time, I had not heard of Persephone Books, but I was never one to pass up a bookstore — especially an interesting-looking one.

When we came home, I bought some used copies of various Persephone titles.  And I admit that three of those books are still in the TBR pile . . . .  Anyway, I finally read The Fortnight in September (1931) this past week.  Aside from being a period gem, it also has the distinction of being one of the few books published by Persephone Books that is not by a forgotten woman writer.  R. C. Sherriff (1896-1975) was an English writer who fought in World War I, and became best-known for Journey’s End, a play and book based on his experiences during the Great War.  He went Hollywood in the 1930s and wrote screenplays for movies such as The Invisible ManThat Hamilton Woman, and Goodbye, Mr. Chips, but before all that he wrote The Fortnight in September.

Not much happens in the book: the lower middle-class Stevens family look forward all year to that most English of English holidays, their two weeks at the seaside.  The father has reconciled himself to the fact that he has advanced as far as he can in his small-fry firm, but perhaps it is all right after all, because he is further along than his father, and in turn, he can believe his son will go even further.  During those two weeks at Bognor Regis, other family members have their crystalline moments — the son who realizes that as unhappy as he is at work, he can be more; the daughter who has a moment of romance, and understands it for the “bit of fun” that it is; the wife who gives in to the pleasures of an hour of peace, an hour of doing nothing in a sitting room with her measured glass of port.  This is the life that the men in trenches dreamed about returning to; it is what makes the English, the everyday moments that are worth their loyalty, worth their lives.

CSA Share Week 13:  potatoes, onion, squash, green beans, Asian eggplants, Tuscan kale, purple bell pepper, strawberries, honeydew melon, eggs

Week 13 Recipes:  tomato/eggplant/squash tian; honeydew melon fruit salad; peach (fresh from Palisade, Colorado) bread pudding; sauteed Tuscan kale with white beans; warm green beans with tapenade of olives/heirloom tomato (grown by The Teenager)/grilled banana peppers (also grown by The Teenager)

Statin in the Drinking Water

A cardiologist told me once that he thought statins should be added to the drinking water.  I think he may have been joking, but most cardiologists will tell you the benefits of statins far outweigh the risks.  I have crappy genes when it comes to lipids: my mother has been on Lipitor for 15 years, and her lipid profile is just acceptable.  Unfortunately, I seem to have inherited her crappy genes.   Too bad I didn’t get Dad’s genes: sedentary, eats whatever he wants, and perfect numbers.  His father ate five eggs a day, and attributed his longevity to that and the occasional pipe.

I had been on Niaspan for close to a decade, and while on it had wonderful numbers, including a HDL of 100.  But, given the recent debate about what exactly niacin does to lipids, I decided to take myself off the drug and see what happens.  The good news is that all that exercise has kept my HDL pretty high at 75, but the rest of the profile has gone to hell.  I have become the perfect candidate for statin therapy.  I can do everything right, but I can’t overcome the menopausal rise in cholesterol, and I can’t overcome genetics.

I have been on simvastatin for almost two weeks now, and it’s not going as “benignly” as I had hoped: I am having palpitations again, and while it is true that I have had them in the past (I blame them on menopause), I also don’t think it’s just coincidence that the arrhythmia has returned since the new medication.  So . . . .  My doctor and I play this waiting game while adjusting the dosage, and hope that we hit exactly the right combination of drug-lifestyle choices.  That Niaspan is looking pretty good right now . . . .

Kendal mint cake

Back in February, I was substitute innkeeper for a father-son hiking/climbing duo from England.  The father was retired and lived in Newcastle, and the son worked in The City when he wasn’t off adventuring, doing things like biking across America without support, or climbing Long’s Peak in the winter.  Anyway, the father swore by Kendal Mint Cakes, and had brought a small supply with him for their winter hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park (along with ice picks, avalanche shovels, and assorted other winter survival gear).  He shared his last bar of the mint cake with me, assuring me that it would come in handy some day when I was out and about.  Some day was last week, on a short hike up to Bible Point — and he was right, it was actually surprisingly good and gave us all a needed boost of energy.  After all, the cake made the summit with Hillary and Tenzing Norgay!

CSA Share Week 12:  summer squash, Asian eggplant, onion, baby carrots, green beans, Swiss chard, watermelon, strawberries

Week 12 Recipes:  spicy ratatouille with eggplant, squash, and onion; crustless quiche with Swiss chard, onion, scapes, and feta cheese; watermelon-based fruit salad; green beans with spicy olive tapenade; roasted carrots

Junior Innkeeper Has Another Aha! Moment

We have known her for almost 20 years; among other things, she is The Teenager’s honorary grandmother.  She has had her B & B for 22 years, and except for a couple of years after September 11 (when all the tourist-connected businesses in town tanked), she has been very successful.  But, she feels her age more and more — though it would be hard to find someone who looks and acts less like a 75-year old woman — so she opens the inn at the beginning of May, and closes it at the end of October.  She wants to spend more time away from the business doing things like music camps and festivals (she took up fiddling almost 10 years ago) and dancing, so a couple of years ago she asked me to fill in for her.

I did not mind being an occasional unpaid guest innkeeper; it was mostly fun, and I went hiking when I finished the work.  It was an informal arrangement, and I did it for her because I wanted her to remain solvent.  Then she decided that she couldn’t keep asking me “as a favor,” so she wanted to put it on a formal employer-employee footing.  And that’s when she got mad at me for telling her I thought she was being compulsive and could she perhaps relax just a bit.  As DH reminded me, the inn is her “baby,” at which point I had my second Aha! moment — which turned out to be actually an extension of my first Aha! moment.

She is like my Mom.  I forget that she is not of my generation, no matter how much we get along: by golly, if she wants me to multitask by having the cookies in the oven while cleaning a room, I had better multitask.  And God only knows what would happen if I do NOT iron those sheets, and don’t use doilies under water glasses . . . .  It is ALL about control.  And as with my mother, as soon as I realized it, I was no longer angry.  And I knew it would be easy to just go with it: if it is what she needs to feel secure and in control while she is not on site, I can give her that.  I can meet her where she stands.20130713_125652