TAKE YOUR UMBRAGE ON THE ROAD – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Umbrage

I always wanted to take an Umbrage. I wanted one in British Racing Green with a 5 on the floor.

That way when anyone said “I take umbrage at that,” I could respond by saying, “Hey, my umbrage is parked right out front. Let’s take a drive!”

No? Why not?

BRAIN DEATH AND FIBROMYALGIA – Marilyn Armstrong

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia almost 20 years ago, but it never flattened me the way it has this time around. I’d like to blame the whole thing on Donald Trump. In fact, I think I am going to blame it all on him. He has raised the national stress level to such a degree that we have an actual national epidemic of high blood pressure and overall stress.

For the past six weeks, I’ve been too exhausted to function at any normal level. Unfortunately, life doesn’t stop because you’re not dealing with it well. Life charges on, crawls along, limps, wheezes and generally somehow or other gets the job — whatever it is — done. This has been a rough one.

I have been so tired that all I want to do is sleep. Except that sleep is difficult at the best of times and this is not the best of times.

According to the Mayo Clinic

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression.

There is no cure for fibromyalgia, although a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures can also help.

Widespread pain

The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache. I think it has long passed dull pain and moved into higher thresholds but that’s just my opinion and not having a medical degree, what do I know? Oh, and it has to have lasted for at least three months. Do years count? To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.

You have no idea how much I hate being asked how much pain I’m in. It brings out my violent streak.

Fatigue

People with fibromyalgia often get up tired even though they have slept for long periods. Sleep is often disrupted by pain. Many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.

Discovering you’ve forgotten how to think

A symptom commonly referred to as “fibro fog” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks. Writing one or more posts a day has really been difficult. I feel like my brain is packed in cotton-wool.

Although no one knows exactly what causes fibromyalgia, it most likely involves a variety of factors working together, typically arthritis (rheumatoid, osteoarthritis, or both), IBS, insomnia, etc. Since fibromyalgia can be triggered by psychological stress, I blame Hizzoner.

Why does it hurt?

Researchers believe repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change. This involves an abnormal increase in brain neurotransmitters. Also, the brain’s pain receptors develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they overreact to pain signals.

Fibromyalgia is diagnosed more often in women than in men. If you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you are more likely to develop fibromyalgia. I have two out of three. So far, I’m missing lupus, but the future holds unlimited hope.

Complications

The pain and lack of sleep associated with fibromyalgia can interfere with your ability to function at home or on the job. The frustration of dealing with an often-misunderstood condition also can result in depression and health-related anxiety. Many doctors don’t seem to “get” the link between fibro and emotional overreaction.

I don’t see any problem connecting the dots between being in pain (everywhere), exhaustion, lack of sleep, and a feeling pissed off about pretty much everything. Mostly, I’m pissed about feeling so crappy and trying to somehow manage life anyway because it doesn’t take a pass while you recover.

So I figure, why not blame it on Orange Head? I loathe the bastard anyway, so it’s got to be his fault.

Why am I writing this?

I’m having a lot of trouble keeping up with life. I’m tired. I feel dull and stupid. It’s hard for me to read. It’s hard to think. I feel unusually awkward, clumsy — as if I’m always on the verge of falling down. So if I’m not reading as many posts or for that matter, writing as well as I think I should, all I can do is blame it on my dying brain.

And Orange Head.

IT’S APPLE SEASON! TIME FOR WALDORF SALAD – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve always loved Waldorf salad. It was originally made at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhatten in 1893 and it has been really popular ever since,

It’s probably my favorite salad and the only reason I don’t make it more often (it’s pretty easy) because usually, I’m missing a key ingredient. Like apples, walnuts, or celery. In this case, I already had apples and walnuts, so I sent Garry to the store for some sour cream, celery, and raisins.

Some people serve it in layers with lettuce as a “cup” at the base, then the apples, nuts, celery, and raisins plus a big dollop of dressing on top and a drizzle of brown sugar on top. That’s too much like dessert for a dinner dish, at least for me.

It is a great light dinner for a hot summer day, though you really can’t get good apples until September. Crunchy apple are the difference.

What kind of apples? Green, red, yellow, but most important: CRISP. I’m not a big MacIntosh fan. I think they are a bit too mushy. I prefer Gala and Macoun. Even Empires which are maybe a little bit too hard, so you’d probably have to cut them into smaller pieces. You can also use a mix of whatever your favorites happen to be.

Also, I know my husband. He mixes everything anyway, even when I don’t want him to because I think he should taste each item separately. That’s when I’m being fancy, which gets increasingly rare as the years trundle along.

At least one person suggested adding truffles. I have never eaten a truffle. I think a truffle costs more than gold, so I’ll skip it, thanks. It’s not part of the original recipe either. There is an almost unlimited number of ways you can dress this up or down. I like it the way I make it, which is pretty much the same way as it was made in the late 1800s.

A few things have changed over the years, mostly the dressing. People get very creative with the dressing. I don’t get all that creative because I basically like the original recipe, which is mayonnaise. All mayonnaise.

These days, many cooks use vanilla yogurt or plain yogurt. Or sour cream. Or a mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise. I got funky and went with a combination of avocado-oil mayonnaise and sour cream (50-50), but that’s my choice. You can make your own choice.

Also, I used raisins because I prefer them to sliced up grapes.

So here’s my recipe, made the easy way because all of my recipes are easy to make and even easier to clean up afterward. You can serve this as a light dinner or as a side dish. It’s a nice lunch, too.

This recipe makes enough for 4 as a side dish, two as a dinner dish.

Ingredients:

Three apples (green or red or yellow or one of each). Cut them into small pieces. Don’t peel them but remove the core.

1/2 fresh lemon

1/2 cup raisins (dark or yellow, take your pick)

3/4 cup slightly crushed walnuts

Half a cup of very thinly sliced celery

1 egg white

Spice mix: Sugar, a pinch of cumin, a pinch or two of hot paprika. You can sprinkle the spices on the walnuts of put the walnuts in the spices.

Directions:

Cut up the apples. Put them in a bowl. Squeeze the lemon over the apples to keep them from turning brown

Put an egg white in a small dish. Mix the walnuts with the egg white. Pour off any spare egg white. You only need the egg white to make the walnuts sticky enough to put the spices on them.

In a small pan (line the pan with aluminum foil to avoid extra washing), mix the walnuts with the spices and put them in a toaster oven, put them in it for four minutes at medium heat. If you don’t have a toaster oven (doesn’t everyone have one?) you can put them in a full-size oven — or throw them in a pan on the stove (use a little olive oil so they won’t stick). Toast for three or four minutes. NOT longer. Don’t let them burn.

Slice a few small pieces of celery as thin as possible. Throw them in with the apples and mix. When you are done toasting the walnuts, mix them in with the apples too. Add the raisins to the bowl with the apples, celery, and walnuts. Mix.

Dressing:

I used 1 cup of 1/2 cup avocado-oil mayonnaise and 1/2 cup of sour cream.

You are supposed to serve it in a “cup” of Romaine lettuce. I didn’t have any lettuce and it tasted fine free of lettuce. If you prefer using yogurt, that’s okay with me.

We had it for dinner because Garry was starving and this was ready to eat. It was delicious. Garry got over-excited and bit his tongue. Ouch.

Some people serve this with cold cooked chicken and other people add salt and pepper. I forgot the salt and pepper and didn’t miss it. I also didn’t have any chicken. Someone weird suggested adding marshmallows but she must have had too many small children. Marshmallows do NOT belong in a salad.

Finished!

You can add sunflower seeds. You can use pecans or almonds instead of walnuts. Just not peanuts — they have the wrong flavor.  You can get very fancy, but I have no patience for fancy anymore. I’m just glad when things come out well and we enjoy eating it.

If you want more, you can double the recipe, or just add more of each item. It’s easy to make, it tastes great and it’s sort of like a desert, but without all the sugar and fat.

OUR CLIMATE CHANGE DIDN’T HAPPEN SINCE TRUMP TOOK OFFICE – Marilyn Armstrong

NOTE: I’m not putting in any pictures of dead creatures, malls, or rivers the color of fire. These are too depressing. There are plenty of pictures of slaughtered animals, poisonous rivers, dead malls.

If you have the stomach for it, look them up. 


Forty years ago, I was the English-language editor at the University of Jerusalem’s Environmental Health Laboratory. I worked there for almost five years during which we addressed issues of wastewater, air and soil management.

The country was still quite small. I think we had maybe 7 million people at that point. The scientific staff traveled from kibbutz to kibbutz, then to any other area that was under cultivation. The goal was trying to explain why it was so critical we stop using nitrogen-enriched fertilizer and start managing wastewater while finding ways to use it.

No one listened. My boss predicted we’d lose our aquifer by 1985. He was wrong. It was dead by 1983.

The point to this is not that I knew something secret and important about our climate before most people were really up to speed on the subject. The point is that we have known about the danger to our environment for at least 100 years. We have had better science and statistics about it for at least the past fifty.

We can loathe Trump for taking a desperately bad situation and making it worse at every possible opportunity. But the reality is that with or without Trump, the planetary climate madness we are seeing was going to happen anyway, no matter who was in office. Because we didn’t do nearly enough. This issue did not begin in 2016. Much of the worst damage was done in 1916 when we casually and carelessly dumped poison into our air, water, and land.

Since the 1970s when we declared “Earth Day,” we’ve done some good stuff. We didn’t do nothing, but we didn’t do enough. Not here. Not in China. Not in Europe. Not in South America or Africa or Australia.

We improved car emissions. We knocked out the smog in some major cities. We cleaned up some horribly polluted rivers. Some of us did our best to manage recyclables. Some places did better than others. We didn’t build enough plants to deal with the plastic and paper and we charged extra for products made from recycled materials — which was not what people expected. Reality notwithstanding, we didn’t expect to be charged a premium for recycled goods. A lot of places — like where we live — do not have “real” recycling. We don’t even have a dump much less a recycling plant.


Despite all arguments anyone cares to make, WE DID NOT DO ENOUGH. If we had done enough, we would not be where we currently are. 

The world’s population has grown exponentially everywhere. For every little green area we plow so we can build a condo or mall we don’t need, birds and other small animals die, often forever. In poor countries, you can’t blame them for trying to create farms to feed their people. Large mammals — like elephants — are antithetical to local farming.

Of course, most of the large mammals are murdered for worse reasons: fun. I have a venal hatred of “sport” killing. There’s nothing sporting about it and I think everyone who slaughters an animal that is disappearing deserves to die a similar death, but slower including a full understanding of why he is dying.

Then there’s all the drilling for oil — and the massive spillage in the arctic and the Gulf of Mexico — and add to that fracking. What could possibly go wrong with that?

I spent five years surrounded by nothing but environmental scientists. I edited their material, sent it to magazines for publication. Read the papers. Understood how important it was.

And for all of that, I didn’t understand. I didn’t imagine it would happen to me. That my world would change. That my birds would die. That insects that aren’t supposed to live in this climate would move in bringing with them diseases that would kill us. And our way of stopping the insects –which are the direct result of the climate change we’ve been denying or worse, ignoring — is poisoning everything.


It’s a planetary problem and it needs a planetary solution. It needs us to do the single thing we never successfully do. Work together for a common cause, even if we hate each other. It doesn’t matter how we feel or what our political system is. This is a planetary issue and we need a planet-size solution.

For all I know, we are beyond fixing it. Maybe we can ameliorate the process. Maybe we can stop building on every piece of ground we find. Maybe we can do something to create food for more people with less destruction to the earth. I don’t really have answers. I just know we are in serious trouble and aren’t addressing it.

GARRY’S FARM IN THE VALLEY – Garry Armstrong

We were hoping for some color in the leaves. There was a bit, but not much. Still, the cows were out and more importantly, the cats were everywhere. It is surprisingly difficult to get good pictures of cats. They sit very still until that final moment when they turn their head so all you get is the back of their neck.

But this beauty sat nice and peacefully for me. A happy cat on a happy farm!
Shooting through a wire fence, these are impressionist chickens. Need eggs?

The barn and road is always beautiful. Just about when I started shooting, the clouds thickened up and the light started to go away. We just made it back to the car as the rain began to fall.

The farm road. Follow it if you want to see the horses.

And this was the last shot before the drops began to fall. No rain predicted, but it still rained.

The barn and corral and our car, tucked in the corner. happy weather watching.

PURPLE ORCHIDS REIGN O’ER THE TABLE – Marilyn Armstrong

PURPLE ORCHIDS – September 27, 2019

So there I was loaded for bird.

Big camera with the 100-300 mm lens.

But — there were the orchids, looking totally gorgeous. How far could I back out of the room until I could actually get a focused picture of them within changing lenses? I’m so lazy about changing lenses!

I was halfway into the kitchen by the time I could focus!
Purple and very orchid