Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gorey … continued

One of my favorite things, after I post a blog entry, is to read the comments. My last post about the eclectic artist Edward Gorey was no exception and when I read my nephew Chris’ comment I felt that I had to share it with those of you who might not have seen it. He writes:

“Thanks for posting aunt Ginnie.

I don't know if you knew that your sister, Mary, would go to a restaurant in W. Barnstable and would often see Edward Gorey there. She took me one day when I was about 17 and indeed he was there and I was able to shake his hand briefly and thank him for all the creepy entertainment he had given me over the years. He was very eccentric and was wearing bright red lipstick and black eye liner as I remember it.

I was a huge fan from the time I was in my first year of high school. I can still recite every word of The Gashleycrumb Tinies (the alphabet book you mentioned) "A is for Amy who fell down the stairs, B is for Basil assaulted by bears" etc.


I called Gorey when I was in high school to see if he would come in as a guest. I pleaded with him, but he kept on saying "I'm sorry. I'm just not good at that sort of thing."

His pen and ink drawings are brilliant and worth looking at for anyone who is not familiar with his work. Thanks again Ginnie ! Chris”

It’s not often that I get a comment with such first-hand information and I thought it was fascinating. Kind-of like Chris himself ! He’s the nephew that I wrote about back in July, ( "An inspired idea unites a community !" ) whose front yard garden brought a neighborhood together.

Chris is also an entrepreneur and owner of “WORLD KNIVES, LTD.” He has an amazing website and if you “google” it I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Remembering Edward Gorey …

When I signed in to the Internet yesterday I was pleased to see that Google had used a series of Edward Gorey illustrations to spell their name. Obviously they were celebrating his birthday, Feb. 22nd, 1925 and, since he is a favorite of mine, I was pleased to see that.

After his death in 2000 his home, “Elephant House” on Cape Cod, was converted to a museum celebrating his life’s work and his two nephews are the curators. Or, at least they were the curators both times that I visited.

The rambling house is over 200 yrs. old and seems to derive it’s name from the strange siding. It is wood that is weathered and wrinkled with age, like the skin of an elephant. Gorey was eccentric enough to want to keep it like that and wouldn’t think of having it scraped and repainted.

He was an eclectic and creative artist with many of his works geared to children although most editors shunned them as being unsuitable because of their dark humor. His “Alphabet Book”, for example, depicts the perils of childhood … example:

Edward Gorey produced more than 70 books in his lifetime and he never ran out of ideas. He constantly “pushed the envelope”, testing and teasing his readers.   After our tour the nephews told us to wander at our leisure and we did. Every nook and cranny was filled with remembrances of Edward Gorey... books, paintings, puppets, stuffed animals and even gravestones out in a garden with the chiseled letters R.I.P. It is a museum unlike any I’ve been to before or since and it was great                                        

It truly lived up to it’s name...GOREY.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Thrifty … not cheap !

I’m talking about my mother-in-law !! She’s no longer with us but I read something about rent controlled apartments in NY City recently and it brought back this memory.

My husband’s mother’s life actually reads like a Dicken’s novel. She came to the United States in the 1920’s on a “potato boat” from Ireland, married the son of the wealthy people who had hired her as a maid, had two boys (one being my husband) and then suffered the loss of her husband at age 39 from a brain aneurism and was disinherited from the family !!

With little more than guts she made her way to New York City and got a job in one of the big department stores. She had very little money but was crafty enough to rent a 4th floor walk-up apartment on East 39th Street under the city’s rent control program.

It was there that I first met her in 1958. My husband had left his job as asst. photographer at “Life” magazine and moved in with her while he got his free lance business started. The thought of walking up three long flights of stairs to get to her apartment, after a long day’s work, was overwhelming to me. I was the ripe old age of 25 at the time and had become very used to elevators. My husband explained that her apartment was one of the coveted rent controlled ones and as long as she stayed there her rent would be substantially lower than others in the area.

As I said, that was 1958 and she stayed on there well into the 1990’s, until old age and her physical condition made it impossible to navigate the stairs any longer. Her location (practically next door to the United Nations) was prime and I believe she was the last one in that building still under the original rent control agreement with the city. As I recall she was paying less than $400 a month when she finally gave it up.

According to the city’s 2011 housing-vacancy survey about 1.8 percent of the city’s rental-housing stock is still rent-controlled and the average price of the units is $800 a month. (That’s a lot of very old people holding on for dear life !!)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Not a diet … a new lifestyle !

A few posts back I told you about my medical condition called SIBO and all the food restrictions that go along with it. At first it seemed almost too much to accept but I’m actually enjoying the challenge and here are three of the many recipes that I’ve been able to adapt to fit the program:

(Not allowed: white potatoes, milk, margarine) The answer (and a very tasty one)…CAULIFLOWER “MASHED POTATOES”. Cut floweret’s off large cauliflower and cook until tender. Mash with a potato masher, add butter and salt/pepper to taste.

(Not allowed: refined grains, sugar) The answer: WHOLE WHEAT FRENCH TOAST: (Luckily honey is allowed because it doesn’t grow bacteria) Whisk two eggs with a dash of water. Dip 100% whole wheat bread slices in mixture and fry on both sides in butter until golden brown. Good buttered and topped with a little honey and/or some homemade applesauce.

(Not allowed: processed meats such as bologna, sausage, hot dogs) The answer: STEAK KABOBS: boneless sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into squares. Marinate and refrigerate at least 2 hours in this mixture … 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp. honey, 1 tbsp. grated ginger, 1 clove garlic crushed, 1 tsp. grated lemon peel and ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes. Preheat broiler. Alternate beef, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms & bell peppers on skewers and broil 2 inches from heat … turning until meat is medium rare & vegetables are lightly brown … about 10 min.

These are just three of the many recipes that I am gathering and you can see that it’s hardly a deprivation ! If you have any favorites that fit these requirements I hope you’ll share them with me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A B&B for my buzzards …

As many of you know, I have a “thing” for my buzzards. I’ve read all the bad press that they get but I love them. They come by the droves (anywhere from 10 to 50 !) and inundate the huge trees behind my house. They gracefully loop and swirl before they slowly and deliberately drop down and settle on the limbs where they take up their stances like sentries and I feel like they are watching and protecting me.

They seem perfectly happy to sleep in the trees and then head out every morning in search of “goodies”. I’ve often wondered how far a-field they go and what they find of interest. Well, as fate would have it, I didn’t have to wonder a few days ago.

I live pretty close to a very heavily trafficked road and it’s a pretty hazardous place for the deer that have over populated our area. One such animal was hit and killed recently near my house and my buzzards seemed quite pleased with the whole affair.

As my son-in-law (who took this picture) said “now you can say you have your very own Buzzard’s Bed and Breakfast”.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Read the labels !!!

As most of you know my gastroenterologist has put me on a very stringent diet and I find that I’m actually having fun trying to figure it all out. Refined grains are a “no-no” but 100% whole grain crackers (such as the ORIGINAL Triscuits) are fine.

I highlighted “original” in the last paragraph because look what I discovered when I decided to “live a little” and picked up a box of Roasted Garlic Triscuits.

This is the complete list of ingredients for the Original Triscuits:

Now, compare that with the ingredients on the side of the same looking box of Triscuits but with the addition of roasted garlic:

Isn’t that amazing? Actually it was my sharp-eyed daughter who pointed that out to me and it makes me realize how very important it is to READ THE LABLES ! All those “mono-hyrdo-glycer-late-iums” must be in there for a reason and I doubt very much if it’s to promote good health !!

So, to sum up … my first line of action is to ALWAYS read the labels and find the products that fit my new dietary lifestyle. This will be time consuming but I plan to make a list of those that pass the test and will keep it handy when I go shopping.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

T. M. I. about S. I. B. O.

If you can decipher my heading you’ll know that I am about to give you “Too Much Information” about my newly diagnosed medical condition.

For the last year I’ve been plagued with what I thought was acid reflux. (I actually had an operation in 2000, called a Nissan, that took care of a similar problem and I thought this was a recurrence.) However, with the aid of a very knowledgeable gastroenterologist and a bunch of xrays, an EGD, some biopsies and a 3 ½ hour breathing test I find that I have a disease called “Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth”. In a nutshell I am not digesting and absorbing food into my body as I should.

In a healthy person a normal amount of bacteria will stimulate the growth of the intestinal lining and aid in the immune system as well as prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria. With SIBO this is all out of whack and the old way to treat it was with antibiotics.

Luckily I have a doctor who is loath to start an antibiotic regimen and I agree wholeheartedly. They may be very effective in the short run but there are long-term side effects and no guarantees that they will “cure” SIBO, not to mention the fact that they will kill off the “good” bacteria too !

So my Doctor has me on a very strict diet that avoids all foods that bacteria thrive on. He has had great success with the relief of symptoms using this approach so, although it can take up to a year or two to see results, he recommends making this a life long diet change.

Foods to avoid are all sugars, cows milk, refined grains and basically all the “whites” (potatoes, white rice, white breads, etc.) Luckily honey is allowed (bacteria can’t grow in honey!) and 100% whole grain products.

At first glance this seems like an impossibility but I find that it really breaks down to staying away from boxed and canned foods and concentrating on fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, butter, fish and lean poutry & meats. It’s really a very healthy diet and in my next post I will share some recipes with you that I’ve tested and love. 

I’m hoping that some of you who read this may have experienced a similar condition (or know someone who has) and that you’ll pass on your suggestions, recipes or just plain words of wisdom