A Food Story in Three Parts

Part 1 – Background In order to prevent any random vegans who happen by from flipping out when they see that I eat egg whites, I must clarify my diet. I like to call it Vegan Plus Egg Whites Minus Fats & Oils. It’s the Ornish Cardiac Reversal Plan.

Part 2 – Vegetables I Have Peeled With a Julienne Peeler (I got a Julienne Peeler this week and it’s turning out to be something of an obsession.) carrots, zucchini, red cabbage, radishes, scallions, green peppers, potatoes

Part 3 – Things I have Made With Julienned Vegetables Rainbow Noodle Salad, egg whites with green peppers, Potato Strings with Tofu, Air Fryer egg rolls

This doesn’t look like a lot of food but believe me, I’ve made these meals many times this week. I get stuck on things. I made the Air Fryer Egg rolls for the first time this morning and although they look unappealingly dry, they were delightfully light and crunchy. This one is a keeper.

The Evening Swim

When we moved into our Florida home almost six years ago1, we put in a small swimming pool. It’s Florida and although people survive without a pool, the vast majority understand that it’s the next thing to an essential basic need once hot and humid summer rolls around. We’re in north eastern Florida so pool season isn’t year round like it is farther south but it is 9-10 months of the year here. We thought of the pool as a wonderful luxury item but as the years went along, it became a mental lifesaver for me. My bad knees got worse and swimming was the only exercise I could do.

Oh, there was plenty of luxurious lounging around too – don’t get me wrong. Still is, as a matter of fact. Once I get done exercising2, I arrange a nice little set up made up of a pool float, a swim saddle, a wide brimmed hat, an insulated coconut cup, a Bluetooth speaker and an iPad. I park the coconut and the speaker on the edge of the pool, plop the hat on my own sun streaked coconut3, sit on the swim saddle, fold the mat in half so I can rest my arms on it, prop up the iPad against the head rest and set sail.

You’d be surprised how long you can be content like that – floating around, listening to music and stirring things up on Twitter.

It’s beastly hot out there now so everyday I plan to go out at 8 or 9 am, do my exercising while the pool is still in shade and get it over with. Total times that has happened: 1. So instead I go out a 8pm, get down to the business of swimming and then float on my back waiting for a plane to pass overhead or for the stars to come out. Big discovery: there are bats here! Very busy little swooping bats that zoom back and forth and turn on a dime. The pool water is still warm from the beastly hot day that is ending, there’s no noise except nature sounds4 and its a nice way to get very relaxed before bedtime.

Anyway, this isn’t even what I wanted to tell you. My only regret about the pool is that I was too inexperienced to ask that a swim jet be installed during construction so I could swim against the current and stay in one place. I’ve been swimming end to end but lose a lot of time turning around at the ends and if I’m doing the back stroke, I am in fear of bonking my head because I take a blood thinner and how many mini bleeds does it take to create brain damage?

But that’s all in the past now. A friend of mine casually mentioned a swim tether to me and wondered why I didn’t use one. Because I never even heard about such a thing! It took me about 28 hours after that conversation for Amazon to put one in my hands. It’s a nylon belt covered with foam, a nylon loop with a ring and a rubbery bungee cord. It sounds silly but it works. No more stopping to turn, no more head bonking.

When I stop to rest, especially if I’m doing the back stroke, I let the bungee retract and gently return me to the handrail that the tether is attached to, It’s pleasant. My husband watched me swim face down and when I stopped for a rest, he said I looked like a toddler who made a break for it but the mother caught him by the waistband of his pants.

Swim tethers. Now we all know about them.

1Can you believe that already?

2Haha – before and after! Sometimes the exercise never even happens. “Sometimes” (eye roll )

3Nope. Hair salon.

4 Coyotes behind the fence, frogs in the trees.

Two Years Ago

It seems longer and it seems like last month. Two years ago I had a major heart attack. Nothing has been the same since then.

On the advice of my cardiologist, I became a strict plant eater and would you believe that I, a person who never denied myself anything or any amount (food-wise), have been 100% compliant? It’s true. I call my diet Vegan Plus although when you think about it, that should really be Vegan Minus. Not only do I avoid animals and animal products but also extra fat in any form. That means no oil, butter, mayo, nuts, avocado, egg yolks, cheese, animal milk. And yet, I eat better than ever before, have a much wider variety of meals and snacks and I’m never hungry. Plus, my lab work is perfect, I lost a ton of weight, I’m more active and my skin looks pretty danged good.

Anyway, two years ago and I’m still standing. I say this because I’m not dead. That’s not as funny as it sounds because throughout my younger life before I became a nurse, I used to hear about people who had major heart attacks – always embellished with helpful editorial remarks such as “came back from the dead” , “already died once” and “should be dead already” – I thought of those poor people standing right there in front of me as the walking dead. After I became a nurse, my way of thinking never changed. It didn’t help that I was in a nursing specialty that dealt with people who had a terminal disease. Not heart disease, but my mind had been trained to accept the concept of borrowed time. Over time, that feeling subsided, or maybe I just didn’t deal directly with sick people anymore. I never thought of the heart attack victims living on borrowed time at all.

Then, it happened to me. I was almost dead. But I came back from the dead. Even though I should be dead already. When I’m with my friends, I try to read their minds to determine if they think I’m living on bowered time. I’m afraid that if the tables were turned and I was looking at them post-heart attack, I’d be thinking that.

Actually, I feel quite normal. Except that I have to neurotically touch my pacemaker every day, which makes me feel like I have verified that it’s functioning properly. Or try to mystically assess if my coronary arteries are closing up due to unwitting consumption of hidden fat. And take a minute or two to fret that everything could just go black all of a sudden and then just like that, I’ll actually be dead. Again.

Not so much Walking Dead as Walking A Little Bit Crazy.

Well, this took a dark turn. I meant it to be the celebration of life, of the joy of veganism, the power of plant based eating, an old dog learning a wonderful new trick. Instead it turned into a look inside my head. Sorry about that.

That’s what I love about blogging. The truth comes out no matter what you set out to do. I should do this more often.

To end things on a happier note, the crape myrtles are in bloom now.

Slowly Reclaiming My Schedule

I’ve been so pleased with myself since I’ve retired. Imagine that every day is Saturday and you have no obligations and you only do the things you want to do. Reminder: what I wanted to do was take naps, float around in the pool and possibly set up a raft and take naps in the pool.

Flash forward 3 years or so: I had to get an Alexa to tell me what day garbage is picked up. I joined a local volunteer group that only meets once a month and there’s no social shaming of you don’t feel like showing up and I have successfully avoided being forced onto someone else’s clock for any reason. UNTIL … I had a major heart attack*.

Now it’s all about appointments set by other people’s clocks, eating meals of limited cuisine at regular times and modest pre-approved exercise which is pretty much the life of a federal prisoner. I shouldn’t complain because this is an example of my schedule before:

I had a new dining room area rug delivered in January. I kept it in the original shipping wrappings behind that curtain until September when the stars aligned and resigned helpers moved the table and chairs, rolled the old rug, set up the new and out everything back in its place. That rug was not willing to lie flat after being rolled so long, so I pulled out all the heavy containers from the pantry and set them up along the short edges of the rug.

As I said, this was in September. If I needed something that was formerly in the pantry and now holding down the rug, I picked up just that one thing and left the others behind. Sounds slothful as I type it out but this was my preferred schedule of doing things (when I felt like it). Today I felt like making steel cut oats for breakfast so now the canned spaghetti sauce stands alone. I don’t know why I even bought that, so it might be there a while longer.

BUT! I’m developing a productive schedulable just for me, with a forgiving timeline making it more likely I’ll stick to it. Here it is: When I get out of bed and after morning ablutions, I click onto a YouTube video called “Peaceful Uplifting Music.” Don’t bother searching for it. It’s basically Yanni with an overlaid track of incessant bird sounds Then I set the timer on my phone for 5 minutes, lift up my chin- thus opening my heart – and apply a witchhazel-soaked cotton pad to each eye. It’s not onerous, it doesn’t confuse my old dog and i can get it over with early in the day.

Later on today, I’ll add the 27-minue YouTube video called “Resistance Bands for Seniors and Beginners”. I do not like anything about the using the resistance bands except how it makes me feel when it’s over with. Plus, I might possibly end up with Bell Yin without even trying.

*More on that later. Much more. Much, much more. Not because I feel compelled to bore you with detail but because my heart rules everything in my life now. If you get tired of me talking about my post-heart attack lifestyle, just wait until I start telling you about how I’m a vegan now.