Aging in Place

Photo of a PNA Village volunteer helping a member with her computer

PNA Village volunteer helping a member with her computer

Ever think about how things will be when you get to retirement age and beyond? If you are like many, you’ll want to stay in your home as long as you can. But there comes a time when it just becomes harder and harder to do the little things: laundry, vacuuming, changing lightbulbs in high ceilings, grocery shopping. What if you can no longer drive but still need to get to your doctor’s appointments, and want to have a social life outside your own home?

Nationally, there’s a movement toward “Villages,” a volunteer organization geared toward helping folks “Age in Place.” To find out if there’s a village near you (or your parents or grandparents), click the map at the Village To Village Network site.

In my neighborhood, we have the PNA Village, a program run by the Phinney Neighborhood Association. I’ve been volunteering since its inception in 2012. One of the things I do is layout the printed newsletter for members and volunteers. I also write articles, and work in the office as a volunteer. We’re always looking for new volunteers, so this sort of thing resonates with you, please check it out!





Experimenting with Organic Wheat

A couple of years ago I found that taking wheat (and generally, all gluten grains) out of my diet caused me to be less hungry, less tired, and to have a sense of clear-headedness I had not felt in a long time, if ever. Over the summer I experimented by eating a burger with a regular bun, and felt too tired and foggy-headed to function normally for a 20 hour period afterward.

Always ready to throw my own assumptions into the fire, I have kept an open mind, and this article caught my attention. It says that the real reason so many people are having health problems from wheat is simply because of pesticides.

So I thought I’d experiment on myself and eat some organic wheat to see what would happen.

I really don’t miss anything about wheat except the convenience of being able to find something to eat anywhere I go in the USA. I’ve already found a gluten-free pizza crust that is superior to any wheat crust (and several people who eat wheat regularly agree that it is the best), and at least one pasta that tastes just as good as any wheat pasta and has good texture. So I struggled to think of a wheat food that I’d actually want to eat so much that I’d be willing to risk being useless for the better part of a day. Then I found some Rising Moon La Famiglia Organic Pierogies and remembered how they were one of the few foods I actually kind of missed and had not found a good gluten-free substitute for.

I did a total of two tests on myself, a couple weeks apart, consuming 8 pierogies each time. They were boiled and then fried up in a little butter and consumed around dinner time with no other foods. The first time I fell asleep in the recliner chair for five minutes about fifteen minutes after eating them, which was weird, but at least I felt fine afterward. The second time, I did not fall asleep and didn’t get foggy headed either.

For all you science types, I realize this story is anecdotal and a sample size of one doesn’t really prove anything. And being able to eat an organic wheat product without turning into a zombie for a day doesn’t exactly help me when I go to a festival and am faced with a posse of food trucks. But still, I’m optimistic about this. For myself, and for everyone who struggles with wheat intolerance of some kind or another.



Latest News

  • My opinions as a reader have been solicited by Troglodad.
  • Someone gave my book a five-star review on Amazon.
  • Pieces of Home is for sale at local bookstore Couth Buzzard.
  • My back is seriously out of whack, and has been for years, but for a couple of bright shining days last week, my left shoulder blade managed to detach itself from whatever muscles/tendons/ligaments it has been stuck to for years, and I felt the joy of being able to move my left arm back freely. If anyone has experience with stuck shoulder blades, bones being stuck to things they aren’t supposed to stick to, a rib popped out of place, or a twisted rib cage, feel free to get in touch and we can compare horror/healing stories.

Cats with diabetes need their meaties!

Me and Sketch

Me and Sketch

A couple of months ago I noticed my cat Sketch was drinking more water and part of the litterbox was becoming bricked up with his urinary output. Took him to the vet and found out he has diabetes.

Sketch has always been a cat who loves his dry food, much preferring it to wet. Turns out the dry food I was feeding him was 33% carbs, far higher than the < 7% carbs my vet was recommending for Sketch. So I switched him to low carb canned food and saw improvement within a couple of days. After two weeks of this diet, plus insulin shots twice a day, Sketch’s blood glucose curve was good enough that he could go off insulin. After a few weeks of no insulin and normal blood glucose readings, he is officially in remission.

I feel like I spent $1200 to learn the hard way that the advice I’d heard for years — feed your cat low carb, grain free canned food — was true. So now I’m relaying this message to you, in hopes it will help other cats.


P.S. There’s a PDF document which shows the carb percentages of various cat foods.

Moms Are Fully Qualified to Re-enter the Workforce, yo

I am sharing a wonderful manifesto written by a dear friend of mine (with her permission). My friend is attempting to reenter the workforce after taking time off to raise her young children. She had a couple of job offers already that she had to turn down due to circumstance, and was once again making a go of it with a temporary agency. After a go-nowhere conversation with a recruiter, she wrote the following email to the temp agency:

Last week, I had called to follow up on an application I had submitted for a Data Entry position I was more than qualified for and this is roughly how our convo went:

Recruiter: You do not meet the minimum requirements.

Me: What might the minimum requirements be?

Recruiter: You have not worked in the last 3 years.

Me: I have had three children, been raising a family. Do most positions require employment within the last 3 years?

Recruiter: About 90% of them do.

Me: People have families and they do go back to work.

Recruiter agreed to this fact.

Me: What would your recommendation be for me?

Recruiter: Maybe try retail?

Me: Thank you for this very enlightening conversation.

Since our conversation, I have been sharing this encounter with friends and acquaintances whose opinions matter to me – all of whom have children, including one person who is the head of HR in a very reputable company. As a parent, I am compelled to share some of the perspectives I have gained as I have talked to others about this. 

The view that when someone stops employment to start a family they need to go back to the beginning and work up from there was horribly wrong advice on so many levels.  Maybe you have not had many people encouraging you and cheering you on to reach for the stars throughout your life.  Sometimes, a certain place of employment can make you feel like you need to leave your ethics and sense of humanity at the door.  This is a totally soulless way to have to endure what is a significant portion of your waking hours.  In doing so, you passed up a potentially remarkable candidate. Re-read my CV [resume] again. Does it really sound like someone only capable of retail? 

This is your wake up call to start believing in people and do away with such a limiting belief as what our exchange revealed.  In your role, you have a responsibility to make a difference in other people’s lives.  I do not believe for a second that if you fast-forwarded your life 7 years from now and put yourself in my shoes, that you would be taking your own advice to me.  You would strive to get back in right around where you left off, as you should.  And those around you, personally and professionally, should be encouraging you to do so.

Anyway, here are just a few reasons the 3 year rule (or even 10!) makes no practical and business sense:

1. Parents develop and fine tune their multitasking skills to absolutely extreme levels .(I had 3 children in under 3 years, including twins.  I know quite a few things about multitasking….!)

2. Parents continue to grow and develop as a human being while they focus on caring for their families.  Professional growth does not stop the moment you stop work to raise a family.  On the contrary, all the experiences gained during this time are all stored up to be positively used once the parent re-enters the work force.

3. Parents bring to their place of employment a deep sense of purpose and responsibility, as well as a more rounded perspective of all the aspects of learning and performing their jobs to the best of their ability.

4. Parents who are able to stay home to nurture their families for a few years make great employees later on because when they do return to work, their children have had a good foundation instilled in them that include values and study habits.  This comes in very useful when the parent begins working full time and the child is left to conduct themselves properly under the supervision of someone else until the parent returns home from work.  It makes for a less stressed working parent because they know their children are doing well enough on their own until Mom/Dad gets home, thanks to those extra years of nurturing.

5. Parents, and other people, have a duty to seek employment that matches their skills and talents.  To aim well below one’s potential does everyone a disservice.

6. The skills and experiences that one gains never go away or become dormant as a result of a number of years of choosing to nurture their family.  I still possess all the skills my CV lists.  I am still the same person who can run businesses and take on new challenges and learn and grow from them.  What has changed is a deepened sense of purpose in anything I choose to step back into. 

I totally believe in the best that each of us has to offer and I hope that my words will inspire you to take away something positive from this as you move forward in your career.

What do you think?

Cigar-smoking Tree

The apple does not fall far from the tree, and where an offbeat imagination flourishes, it may amuse one to see from whence it came. On that note, I thought you might enjoy a missive recently sent me by a parental unit (who shall remain nameless) regarding a cigar we sent him.

“We had a relatively balmy day (for December) last week so I sat out back and smoked it. It’s been more than a year since I had a cigar. I’m not really used to the nicotine anymore and I broke out in a cold sweat about a half hour into it. My right hand started to flail uncontrollably. I jumped up and made an effort to control it by throwing my left arm across my body in order to grab it. The centrifugal force sent me spinning clockwise and I tumbled over the deck railing.

“I’m OK now but I laid out back for two days before your mother noticed I was not having meals with her; she’s pretty busy with the knitter-quilter industrial complex here in Newark. The resulting dent in my forehead (like a belly button only bigger) gives me a more rugged look and I can carry stuff there now. Instead of lint it’s pretty good for things like raisins.”