What vacation

by Lorin Michel Sunday, November 27, 2016 7:21 PM

It always amazes me how quickly we return to our regularly scheduled lives, already in progress. We spent the last three full days in Paso Robles, on California’s central coast, cooking, visiting, hanging out, and of course, tasting wine. We arrived on Wednesday at 3 having left Tucson at the ridiculous hour of 4:30 am. We wanted to beat the traffic, or at least as much of it as possible, and for the most part we did. It got a little cranky as we made our way through Pasadena, and then again through Ventura along the coast but once we got past that snark and hiccup, we were fairly flying. 

We met Roy and Bobbi, our partners in all things wine, on the side of the road at the Vineyard exit. We hugged, and then we drove the rest of the way to the rental house, caravanning. Thus the adventure began. On Thursday, we went to one winery – believe it or not, four were open – and bought some wine for Thanksgiving. We cooked and had a meal that made us all want to curl up in a ball and sleep for a week. Luckily more wineries awaited on Friday and Saturday. 

We went to new places, as we always do, and found at least one new favorite in Ranchita Canyon. It’s small. But they make some lovely rich, dark reds. Reds with attitude. The kind of wine that puts hair on your chest. Our kind of wine. We bought a case and joined their wine club which gave us an automatic 25% off the case price. And because it was Black Friday, they were having everyone who purchased spin their wheel of fortune wheel for an additional percentage off. Yes, it was cheesy. But when I spun for an additional 25%, I didn’t think it was so dumb after all. 

We went to Rabbit Ridge and Graveyard, Villa San Juliette and J & J and Four Sisters. We bought wine at several and skipped the others. We went to our old favorites and proverbial stomping grounds: Niner, Vina Robles, Sculpterra. We tried another new winery on Saturday, Turley. A beautiful facility that specializes in Zinfandel. We’re not huge fans of Zin. Luckily they also had two Petite Sirahs.

And then, this morning came. Again, early, though not as bad as Wednesday. We got up close to 5:30 and after throwing some clothes on and brushing our teeth, hit the road for the long ride to Tucson just before 6. We wanted to beat the traffic, and we did, for the most part. After 10.5 hours, we pulled up our drive and into the garage. Home. 

We unloaded our six plus cases of assorted wines, as well as our suitcases. We unpacked quickly and put the suitcases away. The wine still waits outside the wine room door for entrance and sorting. We took showers, I started laundry. And now, as I type this, it’s just before 8 pm. I’m on my computer, working (and blogging). Kevin is at the eat-at bar, checking email. The football game is on. We settled back into our routines quickly and easily. Tomorrow, work begins with a vengeance. In some ways, it’s like the vacation never happened.

But it did, and as always, I am grateful. For friends, for wine; for great rental houses, for fun menus. For life. Let the holidays begin.

108 miles and not yet to Phoenix

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, November 23, 2016 6:48 AM

The first thing that happened was a text message at 12:17 am. We're selling our old artificial Christmas tree on Craig's List for $35 and there is evidently a desire for a six-foot tree in great condition. We didn't answer it because technically we were sleeping and conducting business regarding a used tree at that time of the morning/night is obscene.

At 3:15 I heard the hiss and snarl of the coffee maker as it finished brewing the 12 cups I'd asked it to make last night when we went to bed. I rolled over and clutched my pillow, balling it up under my head and snuggled in.

At 3:23 Kevin's alarm went off, a melodic song that always reminds me of Japan. He likes to set his alarm for strange times for reasons that I've never fully understood and he's never fully explained. I think he just likes to think he's being unpredictable. He sat up, reached for the phone and the chime was silenced.

At 3:30 my alarm went off, a chipper sound that belied the time of day. My ring tone for the alarm is more like a xylophone and way to happy for such an early hour. I sat up, turned it off, yawned, and said I miss my dog. 

Riley is in the kennel. We took him yesterday afternoon about 4:00. We've never left him in a kennel before. Last year, we left him at our vet's office. They board a very small number of animals and while it was fine, we didn't like that he was cooped up in a small room with no way to get outside to pee or poop. He had to wait for someone to come walk him. This year, we made a reservation at a traditional kennel with indoor/outdoor runs and we fretted about it the whole time. About a week and a half ago, Kevin stopped at another place near us, took a tour and came home to announce it was probably the nicest kennel he'd ever seen, also with indoor/outdoor runs. Plus the dogs are taken out into a little park type area every day to romp and play and sniff. Naturally they were booked but they put us on a waiting list. Yesterday, at about 11, they called. They had a cancellation and now had a run for Riley. It's a veterinary center which we like because our boy has anxiety issues. If something were to happen, if he gets too upset, they can help him. He was a nervous wreck when we took him in. It broke both of our hearts. We pick him up Monday morning. Until then, I'll call every day.

By 4:29, we pulled away from the house, the Sport loaded with suitcases and coolers. We reset the trip counter on the dash and started on our journey. We had a full tank of gas and hoped to average 22 miles per gallon. We didn't buy this car for its fuel efficiency. Last night Kevin checked all the fluids and the air in the tires. We scrubbed the windshield inside and out. We prepared.

It was dark and cold. The temp on the dash read 42. By the time we turned onto Catalina Highway it had dropped to 39 and a little snowflake appeared next to the numbers, the car's way of telling us it could snow soon. I reached over and turned on my seat warmer. Might as well have a hot butt, especially since we were both in shorts. At least I wore a sweatshirt.

The journey up the 10, then west through the desert and finally north along the ocean is 715 miles. 10 hours. 

The headlights lit our way. Kevin turned on the driving lights, too. Tonight we'll be in Templeton, just south of Paso Robles. We'll have pizza and wine. We'll sit outside by the fire pit or inside next to the fire. It's supposed to be cold there too. 

But first we needed to get to Phoenix. Phoenix always seems like the official launching pad. When we come home, it always signifies the start of the final leg.

I looked over at the dash. 108 miles. I could see the lights of Phoenix sparkling ahead. Ready, set, go for vacation.

TFW

by Lorin Michel Saturday, November 19, 2016 6:44 PM

The desert is many things. A glorious habitat of life and death where everything bites, and some can kill. It is not a comfortable place; it is not for the fain of heart. It is harsh landscape and towering saguaros, jagged rocks and crusty sand. It is filled with creatures that slink and those that haunt. Deer stand like statues and stare, javelinas snort and puff, ravens and falcons caw and cry, mountain lions crouch and coyotes howl at the moon. It scorches in the summer and freezes in the winter and when it rains, it destroys. 

It is the land of extremes, a place where there is 50 degrees difference between noon and midnight, where the sun rises over the Rincons to the east and sets beyond the Catalinas and the Tucsons in the west, dragging a painted sky with it. Desert sunsets are like nothing before seen, perhaps even imagined. Impossible colors mix and melt into clouds and jet trails. More times than not, your breath catches for its sheer beauty.

In the summer it is 100 plus, in the winter it is 20 degrees, sometimes colder. And when the wind blows it's with enough force to stop you in place. Up on the hill, where the house is, the wind can be vicious. Steady at 25 miles per hour, gusts up to 50, sometimes more. These winds and gusts can be frightening because they're so fierce. Like an animal that shouldn't be caged, it thrashes and scratches and tears at the world, indiscriminate as to what it touches and rips. We've had cactus uprooted, rocks tumble down. It's amazing more doesn't happen.

We have a neighbor whose house is also on a hill. Like us, they love it here. But the extremes can occasionally infiltrate the psyche and you find yourself howling at the moon, the sun and the desert. Our neighbor describes it like this: "Too fucking hot. Too fucking cold. And too fucking windy." She says it with a great deal of affection. You have to love the hot, the cold and the wind to live here. 

Last night, the winds stirred. By midnight, the air was a swirling cocktail of needles, leaves, of ocotillo branches hitting the house and wind chimes clanging outside the open windows. By this morning, it was 25 miles per hour as we walked the dog. For more than two miles we pushed, or it pushed us. All around, we heard chimes clanging. We saw leaves take flight and birds coast along without having to flap. We felt the warmth of the sun struggling to push through. Underneath, the air was cool. It was too windy even to talk. The wind carried all words and laughter away and stuck them to a cactus somewhere. 

Beyond the relentless wind, all we could hear was our neighbor’s voice and laughter, up in her house on the hill. We could see her shaking her head, and as she struggled to pull a door closed, she was saying it. Over and over again. Too fucking windy. Too fucking windy. Too.

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Shake it off

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, November 15, 2016 5:58 PM

My dad always used to say “shake it off” when someone, including one of his kids, got hurt. Obviously if one of us was egregiously hurt, he wouldn’t say that. But if we fell and got scraped up, he would advocate a good shake of the head or whatever body part in order to get rid of it. Get rid of the hurt. The day I broke my wrist, while playing tennis with him, he said it. I had gone up to hit an overhead lob and when I came down, lost my footing. I put out my left hand to break the fall and broke my wrist in the process. I didn’t realize it at the time, though it hurt like hell. I tried to keep playing, but when I could no longer hold the tennis balls in my left hand, I knew something was wrong. When I turned my hand over and saw a bone pushed up under the skin, I told my dad. We went to the hospital as soon as my mother picked us up. He felt horrible. 

Shake it off is one of those sayings I get. Things aren’t that bad – shake the angst out of your head. You don’t feel well – shake it off and pretend you’re fine. I used to do this last myself, especially when I had a cold. I could hardly breathe but I’d push myself to go for a long run under the mistaken idea that pushing through would push it away. I actually convinced myself of that a number of times. I was much younger then; I’m older than that now. If you’re sick, your body could be telling you to take it easy, chill out, give yourself a break and a rest. Let yourself get better before taking on the world. 

For the last week – has it been a week already? – I have heard my dad’s voice in my head too many times. Shake it off, you’ll be fine. Shake it off, it’s not that bad. Shake it off, it’s OK.

But I don’t feel fine, I think it’s very bad, and I’m pretty sure it’s not OK, no matter how violently I shake myself. 

I can’t seem to shake the feeling that the world is doomed. I am not, as a rule, a doomsdayer. I err on the side of optimism. But this feeling I have is so deep, so visceral, that I can’t shake it. As an individual, I’m afraid of what all of this means for my income, our healthcare, our way of life. As a citizen, I worry that we will no longer be the world’s beacon but rather the world’s pariah. I can’t believe that people really want that but evidently they do. Just like they must want Medicare and Social Security to be terminated, and all environmental protections to halt. Who needs the FDA? We can just trust that corporations will do the right thing. Who needs any regulations on Wall Street and the banks? It worked out so well for us last time. 

I remain dismayed that people have such short attention spans. In 2008, the world economy collapsed. It took years to rebuild it even to what it is now. By all means, let’s destroy it again. Let’s not worry about climate change because winters are too cold anyway, never mind that the sea levels are rising, that Florida will be under water soon, that Mar-a-Lago will soon be the resort destination of Atlantis. 

I can’t shake it off. I don’t know how. And no splint or cast is going to help me through this one. I wonder what my dad would say about all of this. Maybe he’d say his other favorite euphemism: somebody needs to get his “bell rung.”

Or maybe he’d just shake his head in dismay.

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Cold angry wind

by Lorin Michel Thursday, November 10, 2016 10:10 AM

The second stage of grief is anger. According to the laws of emotion, if there is such a thing, when a person grieves they start with denial, denying that what took place can’t possibly have happened, before moving onto anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. These stages were first identified in the 1969 book On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Just about everybody I know has become exceedingly angry since Tuesday night. I have joined them.

I am not by nature an angry person. Like everyone, I have my moments of tiny explosions, but for the most part and especially as I’ve gotten older, I am relatively even-keeled. Which is not to say that I don’t care passionately about things; I do. I get very animated. But I’m not vengeful; I don’t boil over with rage. My blood pressure does not rise; my fists don’t clench.

I wonder if anger is a mask for powerlessness. We get angry because we feel we’ve been treated unfairly, abominably, arbitrarily. And so we lash out to protect ourselves and our lives. Today, I’m lashing. I’m angry.

Pysch Central describes anger like this: “As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may be directed at our dying or deceased loved one. Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us more angry.” 

Translation: This makes us out for blood. I do not blame Hillary Clinton for losing the election. I do blame the American people. And how does one move on from that? How do I get to the bargaining stage when I have no desire to bargain, to find a solution? To make peace with the fact that so many engage in such hatred and vitriol? Beyond bargaining, I can see moving into depression but acceptance? No. I can’t imagine ever finding that. I can’t imagine ever being ok with what has just happened. 

I am angry that only certain people seem to be valued. I am angry that there is so much hate. I am angry that I, myself, am feeling it when I don’t normally traffic in such negative, nasty feelings, and rhetoric. 

My mother called last night to see how I was feeling. We had talked on Tuesday and I was nearly in tears, another emotion I rarely engage. It wasn’t just because of the loss. It was because of the unjust nature of it. That this great country of which I have been so proud could now descend into hell frightens me. That so many people feel it’s OK to denigrate and degrade others terrifies me. That we have apparently elected a reality-show entertainer and narcissist, a power-mad führer infuriates me. I can’t fathom getting beyond these feelings. I will eventually find a place to put them, a way to channel them constructively, but they will always be there, lurking.

The wind has been blowing here since Tuesday. Last night it ebbed a bit, dropping to nothing more than a slower version of its previous roar. But the roar returned in the middle of the night. Cold and angry, it is whipping the desert into a frenzy. It is fierce and unpredictable. It’s alive with fury.

I realize, that it’s me.

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I am

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, November 9, 2016 10:31 AM

Numb, frightened, exhausted, resentful. These are not cheerful words. They do not ring of celebration. I don’t feel cheerful or celebratory. I am neither of those things and honestly don’t know when I’ll feel them again. I went to bed last night feeling as if the world was ending, and not just my world though that was certainly foremost on my mind. We all look at events through the prism of our own existence. I am self-employed. How is this election going to affect my ability to make money? Health care. Will the Republicans just repeal the ACA, or will they finally get serious about “replacing it” which might actually fix some of the problems? The stock market. I realize that I should rail against Wall Street, because it’s the politically correct thing to do. But we have a lot of money invested in the market, our retirement/savings are governed by the rise and fall of the Dow, the S & P and the NASDAQ. We are now eight years past the last financial meltdown and it has taken nearly that long to build everything back to respectable levels. When it happens this time, we won’t have as much time.

For perhaps the first time in my life, I am fearful of the future. I am terrified for my country. I am embarrassed. This is not the America I know. These are not people I know. My friends are all good and kind. They don’t look down on someone because of the color of their skin or their religious affiliation, or lack thereof; because of sexual orientation. Some are wealthy but not all. We all treat people with respect. I am worried that as a society we’re not supposed to do that anymore. And I wonder when that became a bad thing.

I am white. I am female. I am educated. I am fairly well-off. I am appalled.

We got a text from Justin at nearly 1:30 am. He said “All I want to do is fly home and hold onto you guys until my muscles give out.” I wish he was here to do just that. It might make me feel better. He too is fearful as to what this means for him, for his generation, for all of us. He too is embarrassed and numb.

I answered him this morning. I couldn’t even muster any optimism. Anything cheerful would have been obviously fake. He knows how we feel; he doesn’t need to be here to know how devastated we are. His last text said: “It still doesn’t feel real. I keep looking at the election map hoping it will change.” 

I have been doing the same thing. It’s foolish. It’s what people do when they just can’t believe something has happened, like picking up the phone to call a loved one after that person has passed; like looking at a map and wishing for a different destination. 

The wind roared here all night. It was angry and destructive. This morning, as I sat at my desk, looking out over a landscape that wasn’t any different than yesterday, I found myself wondering how that could be. Everything is different now; everything has changed. And still the wind roars. 

I am sad.  

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Election 1884

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, November 8, 2016 5:36 PM

Walt Whitman’s masterwork Leaves of Grass was first published on July 4, 1855 as a response to an essay by another seminal writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson. That essay was published in 1844 and it called for poets to write about the country’s virtues and vices. Whitman, who says he was “simmering, simmering, simmering” because of what Emerson wrote, went on to pen such classics as I Sing the Body Electric (a personal favorite) and include it in his collection. The first edition of poems was just 95 pages long.

Interesting, the name of the collection was culled from a term given by publishers to works of minor value (grass) while leaves indicated the pages on which the works were printed. 

Since that first edition, there have been nine other editions, including the final one published in 1891-1892. Each edition contained more poems (the second edition expanded to 384 pages). The final edition, dubbed the “deathbed edition,” also contained a poem Whitman wrote in 1884. It’s called Election Day, November, 1884. 

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest 
         scene and show,
’Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor 
         your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite—nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-
         loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon’s white cones—nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes—
         nor Mississippi’s stream:
—This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name— the 
still small voice vibrating—America’s choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the 
         quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous’d—sea-board and inland 
         —Texas to Maine—the Prairie States—Vermont, Virginia, 
         California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and con-
         flict,
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome’s wars of old, or modern Napoleon’s:) 
         the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the 
         heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell’d Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s sails.

The poem was written in response to the presidential race between Grover Cleveland and James Blaine. Cleveland won. But the process, as always, intrigued Whitman. It was said that he loved election day, loved the rancor and spectacle of it. In this poem, he appeared to recognize that the essence of democracy is biological. Tribal.

Every four years we engage in this spectacle. Every four years my blood pressure rises. Every four years, we somehow get through it. I’m trying to channel Mr. Whitman and I take comfort in this line: “while the heart pants, life glows.”

And we continue to live it out loud.

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She was a beauty

by Lorin Michel Monday, November 7, 2016 9:31 PM

In the mid 12th century, the world was a mess. The Jurchens from Manchuria invaded the Song Dynasty in China, causing a political split between the north and south. The Khmer Empire of Cambodia was all powerful while the Fatimid of Egypt were not. The first medieval universities were founded and Middle English started to develop. Whereas before the only truly literate people were those in the church, this development allowed literacy to spread beyond the spires. The 12th century was also when the modern feminine pronoun she first began to appear as a means to reduce the ambiguity of the pronoun system.

Ancient mariners as far back as 500 BC were “married to the sea.” The ships were their livelihood, their home and their love. As a compliment to the woman they loved, they named their sailing vessels after them, because it would remind them of the ones they left behind for the months and sometimes years they would be gone. She is used to describe a ship or boat, a car or carriage, a cannon or gun, and tools and utensils. Thar she blows. She was broken up in 1797. She was launched in 1967. She’s a fine ship, Captain. 

Yesterday, we put our beloved Porsche on a transport. We had decided to sell it several months ago after 16 years for a number of reasons. We didn’t drive it very much anymore, and it really doesn’t fit our lifestyle here. It’s too hot for five months of the year, especially because we never got the air conditioning fixed. It was a gorgeous metallic black with darkly tinted windows. But Kevin needed more of a truck type vehicle to cart around all of his house stuff. I have my Sport which is what I prefer to drive. The Porsche was ignored, and it shouldn’t have been. 

We advertised it on Craigslist and got a number of calls but no offers. We put it on eBay several times, too. Last Monday, it sold. My motorized baby, the car I had bought on eBay in 2000 was sold on the same medium, to a guy in Knoxville named Alexander. For several days, we went about getting paid and then had to wait for the transport company to call us. Yesterday, they did.

We watched as they loaded our beauty on the back. I felt myself getting choked up as I watched the transport driver pull the car forward, the engine whining, the turbo straining to go go go. I was, as always, struck by how beautiful the car was. Is. Sleek lines, a sloped front, a wide butt, fat tires. It looks low and fast. It is. 

 

 

I took endless photos and video and eventually had to look away. I don’t know why I get so emotional about cars. Maybe it’s because I’m such a car person. Maybe it’s because I consider our cars to be so special, almost parts of our family. I realize that’s kind of crazy. They’re cars – they’re inanimate objects. But I fall in love.

When we bought the Porsche in 2000, it was because I’d been nostalgic for my long lost first Porsche. At the time, I had a BMW 3-series, but it was leased. The lease was up and we looked at the new models. We seriously considered a new 335 convertible. But the lease was going to be about $700 a month, and as a freelancer, that seemed ridiculous because it would sit in the garage most of the time. I had been jonesing for another Porsche. I looked on eBay and there it was: Our next car. We bought it. And we babied it for a long time.

As the transport drove away, I squared my shoulders and Kevin and I walked, hand in hand, back to the Sport. I posted photos on Facebook. My mother said that “she was a beauty.”

She was. She definitely was.

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Fall has arrived

by Lorin Michel Sunday, November 6, 2016 9:05 PM

We’ve experienced a warmer than usual fall. October was the warmest on record here in Tucson with an average daytime high of 92.4º. Our usual temp is 86º. The record high was on October 27, at 97º. The previous record was in 1952. So it’s been hot. In the three years we’ve been here we’ve been able to turn off our air conditioning at the beginning of October. While the days were warm, the nights were so cool that we could keep the windows open. The house we rented was relatively new so it was well insulated and held the cool during the day. We also never got direct sun. The new house is much the same, and of course even newer. Last year we were able to leave the windows open in the master bedroom, which is on the west side of the house. We were also able to leave the sliding French doors open in the great room and breakfast nook. It was lovely. 

When we built the house, and Architect Mike was designing the windows, he had them so none opened, other than the French doors leading out to the deck. But they were doors. We almost signed off on the design before we realized that none of the bedroom windows had screens. I don’t remember how we discovered this but I do remember the conversation with Mike.

“Mike, none of these windows open.” 

“No body opens their windows in Tucson.” 

“We’d like windows that open, please, with screens. In the master bedroom and the guest room at least.” 

And so he huffed and puffed and basically looked at us like we were from another planet which, of course, we were being from California where we always had the windows open. But since we were the ones paying for the windows, and ultimately paying him – in other words, the clients – he acquiesced and we got nice windows sporting screens. 

Last spring, we took the screens off the windows in the master as well as the guest room. We didn’t want them getting beaten up in the heat and wind and monsoons of summer. Yesterday, I put the screens back into the windows in the master. 

When November arrived, it brought with it cooler weather. The past two nights we’ve sat on the deck and had a fire in the outdoor fireplace. It’s not cold – we were both in shorts. But it was a way of welcoming the coming cool of winter. Cool being a relative word since daytime temps are usually in the 70s. But the nights do dip into the 20s up here on the hill, at the base of the mountain.

 

The air conditioners have been turned to off. The indoor temps are now being provided solely by the outside air. Our solar panels will continue to gather and convert sun into electricity, where we’ll bank it with the electric company. That electricity will then allow us to have enough credits for when the AC goes back on in May.

Fall is here. The windows are open, the air is cool and the sun has lost some of its power. I love this time of year.

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A return to childhood

by Lorin Michel Saturday, November 5, 2016 7:38 PM

I went to the grocery store this morning, a weekly chore that is often done on Saturday mornings while Kevin is working “in the yard.” Saturday morning shopping is hit-or-miss. Sometimes the produce section has been somewhat picked over. Things like mushrooms can be scant; ditto some of the fresh peppers I like to buy. I always start my shopping on the produce side of the store just because that’s my habit. I then weave my way through everything else we need. Frozen foods, cheeses, non-perishables like coffee, cereal, pasta, canned goods, salad dressings, condiments; perishables like milk, half and half, eggs, wine.

This morning, as I was romping down the coffee-tea-cereal-breakfast aisle, I stopped in front of the peanut butter, which I don’t usually do but lately I’ve been craving it. I love peanut butter. I have always loved peanut butter. We never have peanut butter in the house. Somewhere along the way through our lives, we decided that it was bad for us. I suspect it’s because of the dreaded saturated fat content. But it turns out, maybe we’ve been wrong all these years.

According to Harvard, a typical 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter (they didn’t specify a brand) has 3.3 grams of saturated fat and 12.3 grams of unsaturated fat which makes it close to olive oil in terms of the ratio of sat fat to unsat fat. Because the body responds to saturated fat by increasing both LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol, a little bit is ok. A lot, isn’t. 

But peanut butter also provides some fiber, some vitamins and minerals like potassium. And it’s possible that including small amounts of peanut butter, or other nuts, in one’s diet can also help stave off things like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

As for calorie count, those same 2-tablespoons contain between 170 and 200 calories, 6 – 8 grams of carbs, and 7 – 8 grams of protein. That protein is something scientists call “complete” meaning it contains all amino acids. Amino acids, and there are nine in total, can’t be produced by the body so they must be consumed. Peanut butter seems to be as good a way as any to get them.

So there I was, standing in front of the peanut butter, and I thought: why not? I bought a small jar of reduced fat, gluten free Jiff. It’s not the healthiest of peanut butters but it was always a personal favorite when I was a kid. I loved it on toast with just a bit of regular butter as well. I especially loved it on graham crackers. Back when I was young and could literally eat anything I wanted and sometimes lose weight, I could polish off an entire pack (not the box) of graham crackers and peanut butter for one meal.

No wonder I still have such good cholesterol. I evidently was able to stock pile it for a number of years.

When I got home and showed it to Kevin, he grinned. “Peanut butter!” In that moment, we both returned to a simpler, more innocent time, when peanut butter was a staple, when we didn’t think in terms of whether it was good for us, and when the sheer joy of snapping a peanut butter coated graham cracker or biting into a piece of celery filled with peanut butter was enough to bring out a huge grin. That’s worth remembering, and celebrating.

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